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By Justice For Josiah
Since that time, the UPD in direct collusion with the SJPD, Campus Administration and elements of the media have proceeded to concoct a story around the slaying of Antonio Lopez Guzman, 38. In a campus wide and public statement, University President Mohammad Qayoumi then proceeded in media outlets and to the students directly to congratulate the officers for their rapid response and heroic actions, swiftly moving to support his department and validate “their” story. Collectively they have attempted to distort the truth, silence and/or harass witnesses into altering and changing their stories to match their concocted version, and have begun a broad based cover up at every level of the department, campus, city and county. These aren’t just allegations, we can actually PROVE THIS, witnesses have come forward.
The truth of what happened however, is this…
Antonio Lopez Guzman was a 38 year old, sometimes transient, undocumented day laborer, a father of a four year old son (Josiah), and stepfather to a 10 year old daughter (Angelique) whom he had raised since the age of three. Antonio spoke extremely limited English, as such he primarily worked odd construction or landscaping jobs, where speaking didn’t matter or his Spanish sufficed. He regularly volunteered at the Antioch Baptist Church, one of the oldest black churches in the state, and THE oldest in the city and county. He also volunteered at the Veterans Shelter and provided and served food to San Jose’s homeless, at St. James Park and The Jungle, amongst other places. By all accounts even those of some SJPD officers, he was a profoundly nice, well mannered and respectful man, a loving father, brother, and friend, a caring spouse, and the joy in his sons life. This however didn’t stop him from becoming a victim of racially charged police brutality and now, murder.
Only a year ago (September 2013), here in San Jose a group of multi-agency police (Santa Clara County Sheriffs and San Jose Police Department) beat, brutalized and sexually tortured/assaulted Antonio, yelling; “You f–king wetback, when will you learn, you need to speak English to live in this country!” After beating him, they arrested and charged him for resisting arrest, on a street stop that the police had instigated without cause. So severe were Antonio’s injuries, that before taking him to jail, they took him to Valley Medical Center to be seen, then they took him back into custody, booked him and began processing him for incarceration. While in jail he began to have trouble breathing and was in fact drowning in his own blood. The police again took him to the hospital, he had to be admitted due to the distress caused by so much blood in his lungs, the blood had to be surgically drained by inserting a tube into his side. Thankfully both the Sheriffs and SJPD abandoned him to be released by the hospital (but didn’t of course, lift the charges, he was murdered with charges for his own beating still pending).
– The Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department runs: security at the hospital, the Coroners/Medical Examiner’s office located therein, the County Jail and provide police for the Santa Clara County District Courts.
– A 2005-2006 Grand Jury investigation cited the single most significant problem with the Santa Clara County Coroners/Medical Examiner’s Office being the absence of a qualified Medical Examiner in charge of the department, this is still the case today.
– A 2006 Mercury News Six Part Investigative report entitled “Tainted Trials, Stolen Justice” resulted in the overturning and review of multiple Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office cases, and multiple lawsuits against the County, most of which were won.
– By 2011, a judge had ruled that the SJPD and SCCDA’s office actively, and regularly colluded in falsifying evidence and crime lab reports, and it was an endemic and repeated behavior. To quote: “The Appellate Court also reinstated [the] claim against the City of San Jose based on evidence SJPD officers routinely created false crime lab reports and there had been other instances where fake reports had been presented in court as genuine.”
How it likely began, Antonio as he had done many times before, walked through the SJSU campus as a shortcut, this time carrying his water bottle, and his daughters pink & purple backpack full of tools and other item. At this time according to the UPD story, someone informed them that there was someone with a knife on campus. This is problematic for a variety of reasons;
1) It is not illegal to carry a knife, be it in a sheath or otherwise, and it is not even suspicious to be carrying one while simply walking from point A to point B, on or off campus. SJSU is a public space, though the University will assert that this is untrue, and claim it is a “closed campus” (it is not, if not legally so, then functionally so). Most especially as shared property such as the Martin Luther King Library, and various other structures are open to the public.
2) According to the UPD’s own story, Antonio however was NOT carrying a knife, he was carrying a drywall saw blade (it is still unclear as to whether this was simple a blade itself or attached to a handle). A drywall saw however, is NOT a knife, it has a significantly serrated edge for use in construction. It is a TOOL. And it is 100% legal to carry a tool, but furthermore the entirety of SJSU campus is filled with construction workers, carrying tools. There is no less than three major construction projects going on, throughout the downtown campus, including a massive expansion and renovation of the SJSU student center. Thus interaction between construction workers and students is a regular occurrence, and large portions of the campus are fenced off as construction sites.
3) Witnesses to the shooting say; “There was no knife.”
This begs the following question: Why was Antonio even approached in the first place? Most especially as he no longer presented any threat (real or imagined) to anyone on campus, and was now in a residential community.
Antonio had LEFT the campus, and was on/near the intersection of 8th Street and San Salvador (we encourage you to Google Earth the area), in a residential neighborhood when according to the UPD (and now SJPD), Officer Frits van der Hoek stopped him, engaged with him and discovered he spoke limited English (has anyone asked if either of the officers spoke Spanish? No.), then things supposedly escalated. Standard procedure for all police stops requires the calling up of a back up officer, it is this second officer Sgt. Mike Santos that would fatally shoot Antonio in the back, twice, one of them through his heart. A recent March, 19 on campus incident of a supposed “man with a knife” in which Santos was involved, also began with all the officers responding with guns drawn. Again, there was no knife, and yet the man was still taken into custody.
According to eyewitnesses, on February 21, contrary to police claims, they saw no discussion take place between Antonio and any UPD officer, nor did they hear any orders given to drop anything, in any language. Nonetheless, it is clear that Antonio did indeed drop his backpack. According to the Mortician, when they saw the body, they had to partially reconstruct Antonio’s face, and “stuff” the body, in order to give it bulk as the exit wounds and autopsy had essentially exploded his chest, they had been told the damage to his face was a result of the body falling face first into the street after being shot. However, there is no way of determining if such injury is postmortem or not actually. Again while some witnesses say Antonio was simply walking, others say he was running, but none say he was charging or presented himself as a danger to anyone, let alone a police officer.
According to the UPD officers claims, Antonio (a pacifist) brandished a knife (drywall saw), forcing the UPD officer ‘to discharge his taser at range’ but it was ineffective (i.e. the officer fired the taser and missed), twice. Santos claims Antonio then charged Van der Hoek, so he shot him, in the back, twice, in order to defend his partner. But one must wonder, how does a bullet that according to some accounts ‘went through Antonio’s body into a second story window’, not represent an equally lethal danger to Officer Van der Hoek, who according to Santos would have had to have been standing in front of both Santos and Antonio in the line of fire as he shot him in the back? How is this not “more” lethal than an imaginary knife? Why would you discharge a firearm in a seemingly arbitrary direction, knowing that there is a Childcare Center full of children also directly in the line of fire?
Some witnesses say that they saw Antonio running, that in fact there was no officer in front of him, that he appeared to be running away from something, and that they did not even see an officer nearby, in front of, or behind Antonio at all, but heard shooting (three shots) and then saw Antonio stumble and fall. Due to the severity of Antonio’s wounds he was likely dead before he hit the ground. He was shot through the heart. In the news media, of the dozen or so witnesses, on the short narrow two way street, none were interviewed, only a 13 year old girl who herself said she didn’t know what was going on, nor did she know she was in any kind of danger, and her mother who wasn’t even in the area at the time of the shooting was also interviewed. The young woman and the mother didn’t ‘know she was in danger’, because, she wasn’t, and she was naively coached, and put right in front of the cameras almost immediately, to set a particular story into motion. No adults, nor student witnesses were interviewed, and put on the news, why is that? To this day, there are still direct eyewitnesses who have yet to be interviewed. Why? Yet, supposedly the SJPD has already closed the case, and labeling it a “Justifiable Homicide”.
After the SJPD took over the case as per the Memorandum of Understanding between the City of San Jose, the SJPD and the University Police (UPD), Laurie Valdez, Antonio’s widow spoke to the lead investigator of the homicide. Laurie desperately wanted to see justice done as she has family members both past and present who have worked in law enforcement, she begged the lead investigator to do it right and make Antonio’s case a priority. In order to address her concerns with any malfeasance the lead Investigator had to assure her, and said; “Don’t worry. There won’t be anything done wrong. We don’t play favorites. And I don’t know anyone at UPD except for one person – the Sergeant. There will be no problems.” The “Sergeant” is the officer that shot Antonio, twice, in the back – Sgt. Michael “Mike” Santos.
But what of Officer Van der Hoek, why hasn’t he spoken up publicly in defense of Mike Santos’ version of the story, or even made a single statement about having felt endangered by Antonio? If he were standing in front of Antonio, in danger, why didn’t he use his own firearm and defended himself, shooting Antonio in the chest as he was charged? Perhaps the silence has to do with the fact that Frits Van der Hoek, used to be a Law Clerk in the DA’s Office and is scheduled to graduate from Santa Clara University with a Juris Doctorate in Law this very year, and has in fact already accepted a job with the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office, which he is scheduled to start in the Fall of 2014. Do you think those engaged in an active murder conspiracy will make good public servants for the SCCDA?
To date, Laurie does not have a coroners or police report from any agency, and in fact the University President was informed of Antonio’s identity and death before anyone in his family was, and some in the media were informed the case is already closed. They haven’t even returned a single phone call to Laurie. All incidents and “police reports” produced by the UPD are submitted to the County’s District Attorney’s Office for further investigation or prosecution. Wait, whose supposed to work there again? A CSU University President, is in fact, by law, the head of his campus police department, while the Chief manages it. In this case the UPD Chief of Police Peter Decena, is an SJSU alumni, a UPD alumni, a retired SJPD Officer and a “double dipper”. A double dipper, is one of the (thus far) over two dozen SJPD officers who retired at the age of 50 at full pension, only to get a second ranking officer position at another police department or agency, at full pay, while still collecting their full retirement pension. These officers individually and unanimously make over $300,000+ in combined salary and retirement benefits a year as a result of their “double dipping”. Needless to say, Chief Decena hasn’t been the most vocal or critical about the investigation either. But why would all these peace officers who are supposed to “protect and serve” be so dishonorable, and cover for one another, so regularly? Is it just that cliched “blue wall of silence”, or perhaps something more?
SJSU has the oldest accredited degree offering (undergraduate, and graduate) program for police in the entire country, it began in 1930. San Jose University literally established the very foundations of modern formal police training. As a result, the city of San Jose, Santa Clara County and the CSU system (the founding campus of which is SJSU) prefer if not require university educated and degreed personnel as a prerequisite for a job on their respective police forces, this is why no less than six south bay campuses have degree certified programs in policing and police related fields. To put it more simply, all these local cops are graduates of SJSU and are more often campus and UPD alumni.
The SJSU Justice Studies department is currently under investigation for financial malfeasance, moral turpitude, and the policing side of Justice Studies itself is being criticized for its lack of any form of academic rigor, cultural literacy, or scholarly value. While elsewhere in the sub-department of Criminology which is housed in SJSUs Sociology department, they have simultaneously been outted by local activists for their direct connection to and complicity with the overt militarization of policing in California, the United States, and more particular direct collusion with COINTELPRO an illegal series of Counter Intelligence programs targeting political activists from the 1950s to the present day, with the intended aim of repressing political dissent. This relationship has existed since as far back as 1964, but “Red Squads” have existed in the SJPD since at least the 1930s, before they formalized their Intelligence Division in the late 1970s.
Josiah, is here. Antonio is not. There is no Justice for Antonio, he is a victim of Social Homicide by a Police Industrial Complex many years in the making. Josiah, is still here, his family is still here, his community is still here, for him. We strive for San Jose and a world in which no more Antonio Lopez’s must die to police and structural violence, that only wants to see him incarcerated or in a grave.
***If you have any evidence or information on the murder of Antonio, please contact us via private facebook message, phone or email (addresses and numbers still pending)***
Justice For Josiah, March 19, 2014
Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne laid down the basic comic framework for his fellow roasters, totaling a dozen conservative dignitaries of local and national reputation. “Apologies to the Civic Center,” said Horne, “but half of the kitchen staff was arrested tonight upon arrival of Joe and his deputies. Because of a budget crunch, the sheriff’s cutting way back. No more green baloney for prisoners — just an extra beating at suppertime. Over the years, Joe’s touched many people. We know because many are now pressing charges.”
Chuckling throughout Horne’s routine on stage next to Arpaio was Russell Pearce, a recalled state senator with a documented fondness for neo-Nazi websites, and the primary architect of Arizona’s controversial immigration bill S.B. 1070. Pearce smiled as his one-time ally in the 1070 fight, Arizona State Rep. John Kavanagh, began his set asking, “How many Hispanics did you pull over on the way over here, Arpaio?” He later added, “All these years I figured he was rounding up Hispanics because you had a grudge from [fighting in] the Spanish-American War. But if you were in the Korean War, how come you’re not rounding up Asians?” Kavanagh was doing a bit about the difficulties of dining out with Arpaio – ”When we go into a restaurant, most of the wait staff and cooks dive out the back window” – when he spotted a passing waiter holding a platter of stuffed chickens, and screamed, “There’s a brave one! Get him! Sic ‘em!”
The crowd roared; the waiter turned red. Thus did a day of strategy sessions on how to reclaim the White House and build a new conservative majority end with national movement leaders affectionately teasing a divisive deport-’em-all drug-war dinosaur, whose roast material revolved entirely around the three facts of his being old, sadistic, and having a bit of a brown-person problem. The Tea Party’s loud rejection of immigration reform shows it has also refused the message of electoral emergency delivered by Barack Obama’s 2012 victory map. But if anyone needed another reminder, they now have the image of Joe Arpaio receiving a “Medal of Freedom” award in recognition of his rough detainment and deportation techniques, and a taste for racial profiling so aggressive it has resulted in a federally appointed monitor in Maricopa County.
The man behind the Western Conservative Conference, Floyd Brown, has never been very good at helping the GOP build bridges. In 1988, he created the infamous ”Willie Horton” ad that has dogged his party’s outreach efforts ever since. But Brown’s interests and achievements are more diverse than scorched-earth political advertising. He has been a Zelig-like presence on the right for the better part of three decades, zig-zagging his way through and connecting the worlds of conservative organizing, publishing, opposition research, campaigning, fundraising, marketing, and predatory investment advice.
A co-founder of Citizens United, Brown now runs a marketing company, Excellentia Inc., helping clients “achieve success in the conservative and Christian marketplace.” He works as a traveling speaker for groups like the Oxford Group claiming to offer “insider” stock tips and advice. He also pushes gold coins and municipal bonds, sometimes in mutual exclusion of the other, depending on his audience.
All of which makes Brown a perfect impresario for today’s conservative grassroots activist circuit, where organizing and politics can seem incidental to the interests of an interlocking constellation of thinly veiled data mining, fundraising, and precious metals operations. This was sometimes the case in Phoenix, where an older, nearly all-white group of activist-attendees from Western states paid $399 to train under the tutelage of organizers from Heritage Action and the Leadership Institute, as well as hear national figures pitch gold coins and radio shows. The bold-face names who appeared live or by video included Sen. Ted Cruz, Gov. Rick Perry, and embattled National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent, who was welcomed despite being under fire for racist attacks on President Obama.
The main organizer behind the conference, the Western Center for Journalism, did much to anticipate this combine. Joseph Farah founded the WCJ in the early ’90s to churn out Clinton conspiracies with arch-conservative billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife’s money, which it did in enough volume to spin off WorldNetDaily in 1998. (Brown’s tactics during this period were notably ruthless. In 1992, the Bush-Quayle campaign called Brown and his associates ”the lowest forms of life” for hounding the family of a woman who had killed herself). The WCJ went dormant during the Bush years, while an increasingly scammy WND grew its traffic and for-sale email list. WCJ reopened for business in 2007 to underwrite and promote Jerome Corsi’s error-filled book, The Obama Nation, and brought Brown in to revive the site. It was in his capacity as president of the Western Center for Journalism that Brown chaired the host committee in Phoenix. (The American Conservative Union, which organizes CPAC, the larger, better-known annual event that will be held next weekend outside Washington, D.C., did not respond to questions about its relationship to Brown’s event, or why it is no longer called Western CPAC.)
The conference began on Friday night with a keynote speech by Trevor Loudon, a dour New Zealander who has found steady work peddling stories of a modern-day Red Scare on the Tea Party circuit. As attendees lined up for drinks and baby carrots, Loudon sketched out the contents of his most recent book, The Enemies Within: Communists, Socialists, and Progressives in the U.S. Congress. It is Louden’s belief that “98 percent of the Democratic Party” is far-left, anti-American, and actively working toward an economic collapse to allow communism “a second chance.” With his haunted imagination and lottery-ticket approach to numbers, Louden evokes the South Pacific-accented ghost of Fred Schwartz, an Australian anti-communist speaker who made a good living on the Bircher circuit of the 1950s and 60s selling books and warning of Reds under every bed.
Like Schwartz, Louden believes he has a crucial role to play in uniting the American Right and positioning it for victory. “Here’s what you need to do,” Loudon told the crowd in Phoenix. “You need a new Reagan coalition and a Reagan type leader that inspires people, like Ted Cruz. And Cruz should promise the following cabinet to unify the right: Allen West, VP; Rand Paul, Treasury; Sarah Palin, Energy; Scott Walker, Labor; Herman Cain, Commerce; John Bolton, State; Health and Human Services, Ben Carson. Attorney General, Mark Levin. Education, David Barton. U.N. – nobody. Everybody gets something. It would energize the whole movement.”
Among the last people to leave the ballroom following Loudon’s speech was Floyd Brown, who stayed behind signing copies of his 2008 book, Obama Unmasked: Did Hollywood Handlers Create the Perfect Candidate?, and giving them away to whoever would take one. As Brown personalized my copy — “To Alex: Keep fighting for freedom!” — I asked him if he thought any of the old Clinton scandals he pushed in the 90s could have traction if Hillary Clinton runs for president in 2016. He paused, looking for a moment as if the question had never occurred to him, then quickly recovered the confident tone of a professional dealer of “insider” information and analysis. “No,” he said. “Not unless the other side brings them up. I know for a fact that there are people on the other side who are going to challenge her.”
The next morning Brown hosted a breakout session entitled, “Is An Economic Collapse Coming?” He opened with another question: “You may be wondering, ‘Why are we holding a meeting on economic collapse?’” But it’s unlikely anyone in the room found the subject, or its gold-dealer sponsor, out of place. Wherever conservatives gather these days, gold dealers are close at hand. Even the NRA’s annual meeting now offers seminars on buying gold as a form of “economic self-defense.”
Listening to Brown tout his “training as an economist” (by which he meant his bachelor’s degree) and riff on gold’s imperviousness to “counterparty risk,” it was tempting to admire his career as a journeyman pitcher of junk in the conservative gutter league. “First, please, I beg you, limit your exposure to bonds,” said Brown. “They have performed extraordinarily well over 30 years. But sometimes when it has been the best, it is preparing to be the worst. Please, please, please, try and limit your exposure to bonds. Not even CD’s and Social Security are safe anymore, because they’re protected by the government – and the government is bankrupt.”
At that very moment, as he pitched gold by trashing all government-backed paper, Brown was pushing city debt as an investment in his capacity as “Chief Political Analyst” at a website called Capitol Hill Daily – ”The Unofficial News Source of Every Wealthy Congressman.” The site currently features an article by Brown hyping stock in a fund specializing in municipal bonds called Invesco CA Value Muni Common. “Political insiders are sinking their money into one niche investment that could shoot to the moon following a municipal bond bailout,” it states. “[Muni bonds are] as close to foolproof as it gets, since both the Fed and Capitol Hill have the muni bond market’s back.”
Meanwhile, back in Phoenix, Brown’s anti-bond rap was so thick you could see the trace of a cringe on the face of Jim Clark, his fellow panelist and CEO of the panel’s sponsor, the Arizona-based Republic Monetary Exchange. When Clark spoke, he dialed back some of the alarmism of Brown’s talk, but warned the retiree crowd that the government was coming for their IRA’s.
Loudon, the New Zealander, spoke next on the geostrategic dimensions of the panel’s assumed looming hyperinflation and economic cataclysm. It’s worth considering his comments at length, bearing in mind that he was a keynote speaker at an event featuring conservative senators, congressmen, presidential candidates, and thought leaders like Grover Norquist and Lew Uhler. “When the collapse comes,” said Loudon:
You can’t just escape [to the hills] with a few chickens and survive. The bad guys of this planet – Russia, China, Iran, Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela, North Korea and their Islamic allies – are going to come here, folks. The Chinese have every aquifer in the U.S. mapped out. They know that some of them flush out nuclear radiation very quickly, and some of them hold them for a long time. They need to know where they can settle their people. The Russians have an unreliable army – too many drunks and Moslems – but they will nuke the hell out of the continental United States. The big regret of the U.S.S.R. is that they didn’t take out the U.S. during the Great Depression — a former KGB agent told me this — and this time they have a plan. They will invade Alaska and parts of Canada. Then the Chinese will send their people across the Pacific in wave after wave. Their friends in Latin America will be invited up into the southern United States for looting rights. The left will welcome this, which is why 90 percent of Obama’s cuts are to the U.S. military, the only thing keeping the world together.
Loudon was followed by onetime Alaska Senate candidate Joe Miller, who warned of a solar electromagnetic pulse that could “shut down this country, and within a year, 90 percent of the country could be dead, effectively.” Louden nodded sagely along, likely doing the mental math of how to hold back the Chinese Army with so few Americans. Jim Clark, the gold company CEO, looked relieved when it was finally time to wrap things up by reminding the gathered to roll their 401k and IRA accounts into gold.
“Outside the door, my colleagues can explain to you how to do that,” said Clark. “We have videos.”
The afternoon’s NRA-sponsored luncheon began with heads bowed in prayer to a shirtless, gun-toting Jesus. True to the tone of the event, Charles Benninghoff, a Los Angeles-based creator of dubious PACs and fundraising groups that rely on so-called “sucker lists,” delivered the invocation.
“Jesus knew that his followers would be under attack,” intoned Benninghoff. “Even today, Hussein Obama is sending millions of dollars to the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda with the result that they will go after Christians. If you don’t have a gun, Jesus admonishes you, in Luke 22:36, to run around naked from the top up, but make sure you got a gun. We are to defend the body of Christ worldwide. We call on every Christian to follow your admonition to sell our shirts and buy a gun. And if any tyrant tries to pry our gun from our hand, you strike them dumb and blind.”
Arizona Rep. Trent Franks followed with an unusually honest discussion of personal and national security. Speaking in his capacity as chairman of the Congressional Missile Defense Caucus, he described the U.S. missile defense program in offensive terms, in direct contravention of longstanding U.S. policy and confirming the rational fears of other nuclear powers. “I will tell you [missile defense] is not the strategy for protecting this country,” said Franks. “It’s to give us time to activate our offense, ladies and gentlemen. And if we don’t have an offensive capability, then we do not have a defensive capability. We can talk of this in great national geopolitical terms about how we have strategy, but really its about having the capability to be able to tell the enemy that if you bother us, we have got the force, and we can win, we are in a position to win.” Conservatives have always preferred to see nuclear weapons as tools for winning wars, as opposed to preventing them, and it’s understood that many see missile defense in this light. But it is exceedingly rare to hear them say it.
Alan Korwin, the Frank Luntz of gun-rights movement, followed Franks with a quick lesson in pro-gun messaging. “Don’t say pro-gun, say pro-rights,” he instructed. “Say pro-freedom, say pro-self defense. Don’t call them assault weapons, but household firearms.” Before ceding the stage to Herman Cain, he compared his book about gun laws in Arizona to The Communist Manifesto and Silent Spring.
Cain brought his usual energy to the keynote, mixing some scrambled Koch-approved version of Marxist rhetoric with roughly 20 plugs for his radio show. “We are a divided nation, thanks to the liberals, between the political class, who represents the ruling class, and the working class, and we the working class have got to take our country back,” said the Fox News contributor. “The first thing is to stay informed. You do that by listening to the Herman Cain show, syndicated on 147 stations, including here in Phoenix on KFNX – 1100 on your dial, don’t you know!”
Neither Cain nor any of the other Arizona-based speakers mentioned the biggest political story in the state that weekend: S.B. 1062, the bill, since vetoed by the governor, that would have allowed private businesses to deny service to gay customers based on religious belief. Aside from a brief cameo during the Arpaio roast — “1062 isn’t as controversial as S.B. 1070, so we knocked it down eight points!” — the speakers stayed clear of social issues. In this void was much discussion of radical tax overhauls. Retired talk radio host Neil Boortz stumped for a Fair Tax that would replace all taxes with a single national retail sales tax, thus removing the need for an IRS. Boortz later defended his plan in a debate with Grover Norquist, who argued in favor of first working toward a Flat Tax that would leave the IRS temporarily intact.
Both Boortz and Norquist owe much to Lew Uhler, the speaker in Phoenix with a movement conservative pedigree dating back to his days on then-Governor Ronald Reagan’s first economic team. In 1975, he founded the National Tax-Limitation Committee and established what he boasts was the first Congressional scorecard in Washington. Uhler’s ambition and energy haven’t dimmed much with age. Along with his tax reform work, he’s organizing an effort to distribute California’s electoral votes proportionately (a huge boon to the GOP) and setting up hearings across the country to explore turning all means-tested entitlements into state block grants with work requirements attached. The first of these is scheduled for March 20 in Arizona, chaired by Congressman Matt Salmon. What has Uhler most excited these days is progress toward his oldest, grandest dream: bypassing Congress and getting the states to force a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution. With recent votes by Georgia and Ohio, Uhler was giddy in Phoenix over having 22 of the 34 states necessary to force a ratification convention.
“In ’82 we almost had it, but it was blocked by [Democratic House Speaker] Tip O’Neill,” said Uhler. “But now there really is some hope, folks. Let Obamacare self-immolate, and we’ll be in a position to win in November, and take the White House in 2016, and then we can finally restore American exceptionalism.”
Maybe. But if any of these victories are to last long enough to build on, the conservative movement can’t avoid coming to terms with the changing cultural and racial complexion of the country. In terms of undermining the political power necessary for the realization of Uhler’s IRS-elimination fantasies, the forces represented by Joe Arpaio are a bigger threat than Tip O’Neill ever was.
“… The passage of the law has horrified many who remember Peru’s recent past. More than 60,000 civilians were killed by the state during the troubles of the 1980s and ’90s. …”
GreenLeft Weekly, March 24, 2014
The promulgation of Law 30151, which was officially gazetted on January 14 after being signed by President Ollanta Humala, indicates the state and its transnational corporate backers are planning an expanded campaign of repression against Peruvian communities resisting their neoliberal development model.
Since late 2011, protests in and around Cajamarca in Peru’s northern highlands forced the Humala administration to suspend US-based Newmont’s building of Conga, a US$4.8 billion extension of the existing Yanacocha gold and copper mine.
Other partners include Buenaventura, a Peru-based metals company, and the World Bank. The bank has backed the project with relatively small but symbolically important funding.
At stake is the future of a chain of highland lakes, which will be converted into toxic tailings ponds if the project goes ahead. This would radically degrade the regional environment, making agriculture unsustainable.
Since then, a tense stand-off has prevailed at the threatened lakes. It has involved frequent harassment of the volunteers, who maintain a vigil to prevent the company illegally proceeding with development work, by police and paramilitary units acting at the behest of Newmont.
Serious human rights abuses have occurred. In July 2012, five residents of the village of Celendin were shot dead by a police unit. Since mid-2011, at least 34 civilians have been killed and nearly 1000 wounded in social conflicts in Peru, mostly involving clashes between police and anti-mining protesters.
One of the most prominent cases is that of Elmer Campos, a 34-year-old farmer from the hamlet of Bambamarca. Campos received severe spinal injuries after being shot in the back by police during peaceful anti-Conga protests on November 29, 2011. Doctors say he will never walk again.
Campos has filed a civil suit against the police in Peru. He is represented by Max Perez of the National Human Rights Coordinator.
“We seek justice, accountability, and greater protection for human rights,” said Perez, “and to end a culture of impunity for police repression of legitimate protest activity.”
Campos is also represented by US-based NGO Earth Rights International. On January 2, it filed a federal court motion on his behalf in Denver, Colorado Newmont’s home town.
The motion is aimed at making Newmont hand over internal company evidence that it has so far refrained from submitting to Peruvian authorities over the events of November 29 when at least 24 protesters were injured.
Campos said: “Justice means first that there is a real investigation to determine who was responsible, and that they pay for their crimes, and second, that the government fulfils its responsibility to protect its citizens and the environment, rather than forcing a destructive mining project on its citizens through abusive police conduct.”
This campaign of judicial activism, sponsored by progressive lawyers and a network of NGOs, has ensured the victims of state repression have not remained entirely voiceless. The road to justice is a difficult one but, until now, Peru’s legal code has at least offered the possibility of some form of redress.
Such lawsuits have angered police and military, and alarmed international mining interests. Law 30151, which will apply retrospectively, is clearly aimed at removing checks on the state’s capacity to carry out violent repression.
Peru’s Office of the Public Defender said: “It is necessary to remember that a democratic state must take all necessary measures to ensure that its agents use force in a proportional manner, doing everything possible to avoid the sorts of deaths and injuries to civilians and innocent persons that have lamentably occurred in our country …
“The new law weakens protections for the citizenry and may prove counter-productive in the fight against delinquency.”
The new law represents a green light for repressive acts, including murder.
The passage of the law has horrified many who remember Peru’s recent past. More than 60,000 civilians were killed by the state during the troubles of the 1980s and ’90s.
In the name of combating a violent leftist insurgency, the Peruvian military engaged in its own form of terrorism. In the highlands of Ayacucho, torture of suspects and Vietnam War-style mass killing of villagers by military units became commonplace.
Washington provided extensive support for these operations, which were routinely accompanied by CIA advisers. The perpetrators of these atrocities have never faced justice. Law 30151 represents a reversion to these dark days, a huge setback to the emerging rule of law in Peru.
Supporters of the law claim it will give the authorities more power to deal with violent criminal gangs. Yet it is clear from the context of recent events that the real targets are environmental activists.
Worldwide, the neoliberal development model, which largely consists of the plunder of Third World natural resources by First World corporations, tends to be accompanied by repression.
As significant segments of the population turn against the destruction of their environment and livelihoods, Western-backed neoliberal regimes use repression to quell dissent.
Peru, which remains a strong ally of the US in the Andean region, conforms to this international trend. The irony is that Humala was elected on a left-leaning nationalist platform, promising to respect the right of local communities to oppose resource extraction projects.
The people of Cajamarca have spoken, yet the government ignores them.
With the passage of the new law, which has been condemned by several domestic and international groups as well as sparking divisions in Humala’s cabinet, the question of how far the security forces are willing to go in crushing the environmental protest movement is becoming critical.
Presenting a version of an incident that may have occurred in real life, the narrator of The Skin (who is also called Malaparte) recounts how the American high command dined with local dignitaries on rare fishes taken from the city’s aquarium. Adding a Dalí-esque touch of horror, Malaparte has the last of the feasts feature a dead child, served up on a platter encircled with a wreath of coral. Corpses of children were a common sight at the time and there is more than a hint of cruelty in his account of the Americans turning “pale and horror-stricken” at the spectacle of one of these pitiful figures laid out on the table.
Malaparte’s fictional alter ego describes Colonel Jack Hamilton, the American officer to whom he has been assigned as a guide to the city, as “a Christian gentleman” who had “landed in Italy for the purpose of fighting the Italians and punishing them for their sins and crimes”. An innocent, magnanimous soul, he could not be expected to know that “without the existence of evil there can be no Christ; that capitalist society is founded on the conviction that in the absence of beings who suffer a man cannot enjoy to the full his possessions and his happiness; and that without the alibi of Christianity capitalism could not prevail”. Containing many such passages of savage invective, this book is a sustained assault on every kind of piety. It is hardly surprising that when it was published in 1944 The Skin was placed on the Vatican index of prohibited books.
Like his alter ego, Malaparte joined the US forces as a liaison officer when they entered Naples. It has been suggested he may have become an intelligence asset to the Americans around the same time. In any event, working for them was only one, and not the last, of many shifts in the loyalties of the mercurial Italian writer. Born Kurt Suckert in Tuscany in 1898, the son of an Italian mother and a German father, he adopted in 1925 the pen name of Malaparte – a punning reference to Napoleon Bonaparte (in Italian, buonaparte means “good side”). His new name may have been meant to suggest how contradictory the life of a writer in politics can be. If so, he was well equipped for the role.
Along with many in the European avant-garde, Malaparte embraced fascism not despite, but because of its celebration of violence. Serving as a volunteer in the Italian army for four years during the First World War, he suffered permanent damage to his health as a result of exposure to mustard gas. Yet, far from condemning war, he regarded it as an opportunity for a rare kind of experience in which death and destruction become in some way beautiful. He was not unusual in taking this view. A contemporary of his, the poet Gabriele D’Annunzio, expressed similar sentiments, as did many of the futurists. Their perverse aestheticism proved to be one of the cultural omens of the rise of fascism.
Joining Mussolini’s march on Rome in 1922, urging a strategy of terror against anti-Fascists, travelling to the Eastern Front with Nazi forces when Hitler invaded Russia and accompanying pro-German forces in the forests of Finland, Malaparte was clearly attracted by fascism. Yet a certain refractoriness, coexisting with his slippery opportunism, led to repeated difficulties with his Fascist masters. Starting in 1933, when he seems to have displeased Mussolini – some say by describing Hitler as having a “feminine” nature, others suggesting that he mocked the Italian dictator’s taste in neckties – Malaparte suffered several years of banishment. However, these were passed mostly in pleasant holiday spots, where he lived a hedonistic life as the guest of rich and well-connected friends, so they were not exactly a fearful punishment.
It seems to have been during this period that he conceived the idea of designing and building “a house like me”, the Casa Malaparte, on the island of Capri. Showing no trace of the oppressive monumental style that was in favour in Mussolini’s Italy (Malaparte soon fell out with the prominent Fascist architect he had commissioned for the project), the house is recognised as one of the most remarkable examples of modern European architecture. In a characteristically convoluted conceit, he tells in The Skin of a visit by the German general Erwin Rommel, who asked if he had built the house himself. Malaparte replied that he had bought it, and then, with a sweeping gesture towards the magnificent landscape, declared: “I designed the scenery.” Perched on the cliff edge, a brilliant red structure with pyramidal stone steps and vast roof terrace, the building can be seen in Jean-Luc Godard’s film Le Mépris (1963), an adaptation of Alberto Moravia’s 1954 novel Il disprezzo (translated as Contempt), featuring Jack Palance and Brigitte Bardot.
On the edge: the Capri house bespoke the man. Image: Rex.
A talented and highly versatile survivor, Malaparte was a playwright, film-maker and novelist, the author of a treatise on the technique of the coup d’étatand a slightly shady diplomat. But he saw himself above all as a writer creating a new type of fiction, a species of wilfully unreliable reportage in which the most gruesome episodes are recounted with terrifying gaiety.
In Kaputt (1943), a hallucinatory version of his travels through Nazi-occupied Europe, he produced a dark masterpiece of magic realism. Ranking with the best of Céline as one of the most powerful expressions of European despair, The Skin tells of the horror of the everyday struggle for survival in a society destroyed by war.
“Our skin, this confounded skin,” Malaparte’s alter ego exclaims to a group of Allied officers. “You’ve no idea what a man will do, what deeds of heroism and infamy he can accomplish, to save his skin . . . They think they are fighting and suffering to save their souls, but in reality they are fighting and suffering to save their skins, and their skins alone.” As Malaparte had witnessed, the inhabitants of Naples were ready to sell themselves and their children for a crust of bread. This was not a pattern of behaviour peculiar to Neapolitans – he always stressed that he admired the city and its people – but a universal human trait, which he regarded as more destructive than war.
If Malaparte’s wartime novels have long been neglected, one reason is that they remind us how deeply many of Europe’s intellectuals were complicit in the rise of fascism. Paul de Man, Georges Bataille, Maurice Blanchot and a host of lesser-known worthies flirted shamelessly with fascism, surfacing safely after the war was over as respectable stalwarts of the radical left. Though he took more risks along the way, Malaparte followed a similar course, veering towards Maoism in the Fifties, meeting the Chairman and in some accounts bequeathing the house he built on Capri to the People’s Republic of China. The trajectory may sound surprising, but in fact it was quite commonplace.
Where Malaparte was distinctive was in his awareness of the contradictions inherent in the positions he adopted. Reporting in 1941 from the Russian front for the influential Corriere della Sera as the only front-line war correspondent in the entire USSR, he forecast correctly that the Russian forces would not collapse as a result of the German advance, but fight on regardless. Having breached the German propaganda line, he was ordered out of the war zone by Goebbels and sent back to Italy for another spell of house arrest.
Malaparte’s despatches were not inspired by any sympathy for the Soviet cause. Rather than seeing it as an Asiatic or Russian perversion of Marxist ideals, as do many disappointed leftists, he viewed Soviet communism as a distinctively European pathology. Equally, Nazism and fascism were not aberrations from an essentially sound civilisation. All these totalitarian movements reflected deep-seated disorders in European civilisation. Malaparte displayed many of these disorders, his late conversion to Maoism being one more expression of a European fascination with ideological violence.
Part of his power as a writer comes from these contradictions. The uncertainty that surrounds his narrator – is he a version of the author, or a fictional character? – not only is a literary technique but reflects his self-division. His writings are full of toxic stereotypes, sexist, racist and homophobic. Yet it is impossible to be sure whether these displays of prejudice were sincere, or rather – as he seems at times to intimate – whether they serve as cryptic expressions of solidarity with the people who are being stereotyped. He has an Allied officer in The Skin ask the narrator, “with an urbanely ironical air”: “How much truth there is in all that you relate in Kaputt?” I suspect that Malaparte, a self-mocking provocateur whose life was a succession of performances, did not know the answer. Paradoxically, it may have been his lack of any coherent self that enabled him to portray the chaos of wartime Europe with such authenticity.
It is well known that a great writer may be a repellent person – we need only think of Dostoevsky. We are less ready to accept that moral defects may be a necessary part of a writer’s art. Yet this seems to have been the case with Malaparte, whose feverish and fractured consciousness enabled him to be a mirror of his time. If you want a vividly realistic picture of the state of Naples when it was liberated, you should turn to Norman Lewis’s Naples ’44 – another blackly comic book that is also luminously sane. If you want to enter into the delirium and cruelty of the period, it is The Skin you must read.
For many years Malaparte was neglected as an embarrassing reminder of the ignominious accommodation that so many of the European intelligentsia reached with dictatorship. Though his political record was no worse than many of his generation, the flamboyance with which he had flaunted his fascism left him beyond the pale of polite society. If he resented this exclusion, he had his revenge when, not long before he died in 1957, he was admitted into the Catholic Church and the Italian Communist Party. Further recognition was slow in coming. Until it was renovated by his grand-nephew, the house in Capri was in disrepair for decades after the war. More recently, a restaurant in New York City was named after the writer.
Now the indispensable New York Review Books, which published Kaputt in 2005, has given us the first complete translation into English of The Skin. An embodiment of Europe’s bad conscience, Malaparte’s voice was one that right-thinking people of every denomination preferred not to hear. That is why this difficult book was so hated and condemned when it first appeared, and remains so well worth reading.
The Skin by Curzio Malaparte, translated by David Moore and introduced by Rachel Kushner, is published by New York Review Books Classics, 368pp, £9.99
John Gray is the New Statesman’s lead book reviewer. His latest book, “The Silence of Animals: On Progress and Other Modern Myths”, is published by Allen Lane (£18.99)
Coors is stepping in immediately for Beauprez, a former congressman who gave up his role in the RNC bid effort after kicking off his gubernatorial campaign Monday. (But first, he joined other members of a bipartisan delegation in Washington, D.C., to deliver Denver’s presentation to the site selection committee.)
“Bob has done a spectacular job of getting the committee up and running,” Coors said in a state GOP news release. “I look forward to working with the broad coalition of businesses and civic leaders as well as elected officials to ensure Denver’s bid is successful.”
Beauprez will stay involved as part of an expansive roster of honorary chairs on the 2016 Denver Convention Bid Host Committee. And newly joining that list is State Rep. Amy Stephens. She bowed out of the Republican primary battle to challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Udall after last week’s entrance into the race of Cory Gardner, a congressman representing eastern Colorado.
National Republicans also have launched a website where Republicans can vote on their favorite potential host city. Besides Denver, the finalists are Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus, Dallas, Kansas City, Las Vegas and Phoenix. Sean Spicer, the Republican National Committee’s communications director, said in an email to Republicans Tuesday that party officials would share the top three vote-getters with the site selection committee as it narrows the list.