Let’s remember the Tulsa race massacre, and stop mythologising the Battle of the Alamo

In early June, the centenary of the Tulsa race massacre was marked in that town, by US President Joe Biden and the Oklahoma state authorities. Biden is the first US President to officially acknowledge that massacre and express his support for the remaining survivors. The suburb of Greenwood, in Tulsa, was reduced to smoking ruins and its African American inhabitants murdered by rampaging white racist mobs – with the connivance and participation of law enforcement authorities.

Greenwood in Tulsa was known, prior to 1921, as the ‘black Wall Street.’ African Americans had successfully started up businesses, theatres, churches, libraries and had proven themselves industrious in the decades after emancipation. The Oklahoma authorities, driven by white racial resentment, seethed at the success of the African American community. The local newspapers, seizing upon a false allegation of sexual assault of a white woman by a black man, incited the Tulsa community to basically attack the African American minority in Greenwood.

The white supremacist mob, armed with weapons from local law enforcement, and backed up by bombs from the air, proceeded to burn and demolish black-owned businesses, and murder black families. One of the survivors, Viola Fletcher (now 107), remembers the dead bodies, the stench, the plumes of smoke, the sheer terror of fleeing as her parents collected their kids to protect them.

The psychological trauma of the survivors, and the loss of a thriving and vibrant community, are incalculable. More than just the financial loss of business, the silence and coverup of the racial massacre added to the injuries of the survivors.

There was no official acknowledgment or apology, and no compensation was forthcoming. Black advancement, and seeing the African American community doing the ‘right’ things – working, getting an education, starting businesses and so on – was met with white racial resentment.

This deadly act of white domestic terrorism – an act of economic injustice as well – should be a cause of concern. President Biden urged his fellow Americans to reflect seriously on why racial terrorism is such a blight on the nation. In fact, the 1921 Tulsa race massacre was not an isolated incident. During the year of 1919, African American communities throughout the United States – especially returning black WW1 veterans – were targeted for racial killings.

African American WW1 veterans thought their service would be a pathway to equality. Sadly, they were wrong. Rejected by white society, denounced as interlopers ‘stealing jobs’ from ‘real’ Americans, black communities were targeted by white supremacist lynch mobs, usually with the connivance of the police. The black veterans, given their combat experience, organised the nucleus of armed resistance against racist attacks.

The Alamo defenders were fighting to keep slavery

While the Tulsa race massacre was suppressed and ignored for decades, the defenders at the Battle of the Alamo have been lionised as martyrs to the cause of freedom. The 1836 battle, portrayed as a David vs Goliath struggle, has become a crucial lynchpin of Texas – and wider American – folklore. The white settlers who fought Mexican troops were not committed to liberty, but to the preservation and extension of slavery.

The Alamo was one battle in a series which resulted in the annexation of Mexican territory by white American colonists, and the foundation of the slave-owning state of Texas. The pro-slavery motivations of the new settlers has been all but written out of the ‘Texas Revolution’ story, and the Alamo’s defenders hailed as a plucky and outnumbered band of liberty-loving patriots dying in the fight against the evil Mexican tyrant, General Santa Anna.

Mexico had in fact abolished slavery in 1829 – sending shivers down the spines of the Texan colonists. Texas, a part of the Mexican state of Coahuila y Tejas, was still part of Mexico. The American settlers practiced slavery in violation of the Mexican constitution. They refused to pay taxes to the Mexican government treasury, and acted as a law unto themselves. In the face of this refusal, the Mexican authorities sent troops to quell this nascent white supremacist rebellion.

The Alamo defenders were defeated, and their deaths were politically manipulated to construct a mythology of Texan dedication to patriotism and liberty. The larger American army under General Sam Houston defeated the Mexicans, and Texas broke away to form an independent republic. One of the first clauses in the new state’s constitution was to preserve slavery, and indeed declared that the US Congress had no authority to emancipate slaves in its jurisdiction.

The Alamo defenders, still regarded as ‘heroes’ in Texas, rather than the racist agitators that they were, achieved near-demigod status through conservative folklore. The Walt Disney series Davy Crockett, the latter executed at the Alamo, entered popular consciousness as a courageous frontiersman. John Wayne’s epic 1960 movie The Alamo lionised the American settlers, promoting the values of individual liberty and sacrifice.

The Alamo soldiers were perhaps brave, but they died for the cause of white supremacy. The ideology they supported motivated those who demolished the black community of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Rather than continuing the Heroic Anglo Man narrative of American history, it is high time to educate ourselves on the white nationalism that glues together the racial pyramid of American capitalism.

The UFO craze, Nazis in Tibet and pseudoscience

The UFO craze has experienced a resurgence in recent months. Prominent news stories about a purported ‘government coverup’ have hit the magazines, and various documentaries about ‘sightings’ have gripped the airwaves. UFO cultists have salivated over the prospects of uncovering government secrets.

Let’s take a step back from minor-celebrity full time nutcase UFOlogy, and examine the influence of the occult, the pseudoscientific and the preoccupation with bizarre issues on our societies.

Shambhala, Tibet and the occult

To be sure, the United States is not the first country to host and elevate interest in the occult, the alien and the pseudoscientific. Nazi Germany provided resources and personnel on numerous quests to substantiate – as they saw it – white Aryan racial superiority theories, by delving into mysterious and mythical pasts. Tibet, long considered by the West a Shangri-La of mysticism and esoteric powers, provided the Nazi leadership with a target to indulge their pseudoscientific theories.

Various Aryan racial theories swirled around regarding Tibet as the ancient ancestral home of the Aryan/Germans. The 1938-39 German expedition to Tibet, reinforced the occultism preoccupation of the Nazi elite. Possessing political as well as pseudoscientific objectives, the SS personnel who visited Tibet, at the invitation of the ruling lama elite, were intent on finding rationalisations for their mystical beliefs in a long lost ancient white Aryan race.

The Nazi delegation that made it to Tibet, underscored by the SS think tank the Ahnenerbe, Ancestral Heritage, not only engaged in scientific activities while in Lhasa. They raised the Nazi swastika in Tibet, hoping to detach the latter from China, and use that territory as a base to threaten British-occupied India. The Nazi delegation collected botanical samples, measured the skulls of the indigenous Tibetans, took in the esoteric myths of Tibetan culture, and never lost sight of the underlying Aryan pseudoarchaeology of their mission.

The Nazi leadership never found the remnants of the mythical lost race up there in the Tibetan plateau. What we can see here is the interplay of quasi-scientific elements with political and economic objectives, and access to media channels, and the pseudoscience spreads. No, UFologists are not neo-Nazis, but belief in the occult and paranormal becomes a danger to society when it is supported by powerful economic and political interests.

The Pentagon and UFOs

Over the last few months, there has been a renewed frenzy regarding UFOs – or to use the new term Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP). The CIA released a trove of archival material detailing the Pentagon’s projects to research psychic phenomena, and whether UFOs represent a national security threat. Billions of dollars has been spent, such as on Operation Stargate, to evaluate the veracity, if any, of using paranormal powers to spy on hostile powers. No evidentiary basis has ever been found for alien spacecraft or psychic abilities, but this has not stopped the UFO conspiracy theorists from screaming vindication. Project Stargate ended in failure.

This is not the first instance of the US government declassifying materials on its secretive and expensive forays into the paranormal and UFO subjects. Back in 2018, the federal authorities released information on their multibillion dollar projects, such as the Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program (AATIP), to hunt down UFOs and alien beings. After all that research and funding, the project was terminated – but not before UFO cultists went mad claiming that the US government endorsed their views.

What has occurred is that the same UFOlogists and billionaire advocates of alien astronauts have carried out successful PR campaigns to legitimate their pseudoscientific theories. For instance, billionaire pseudoscientist and UFO cultists Robert Bigelow, has put considerable amounts of money into new ‘think tanks’ dedicated to promoting UFology. Coupled with heavyweight political supporters, the UFologists have been able to spread their views far and wide.

American physicist and paranormal advocate Harold ‘Hal’ Puthoff, a military contractor, helped to platform pseudoscientific views about the occult and UFOs. Using his finances and connections, he has built various science ‘discovery’ institutes dedicated to exploring the mystical side. Skinwalker Ranch, a site of purported UFO activity, has been purchased by alien enthusiasts over the years. The name refers to a Navajo story of a demonic shapeshifter that transforms from humanoid to animalistic form, thus melding myths from differing cultures.

The US government’s embrace of the occult has provided a springboard for the proliferation of pseudoscientific theories and alien astronaut preoccupations. Weaponising psychic powers was the original underlying motivation; investing in the paranormal has given rise to a Frankenstein monster of pseudoscientific myths that infiltrate the general public.

We are all familiar with the impact of Lysenkoism on Soviet genetics; American writers have long been selectively enthusiastic about empirical veracity and the destiny of science in ‘official enemy’ nations. It is time to apply that passion for the fate of science to our own societies as well.

The commingling of UFology, the occult and the paranormal may seem like harmless fun – until we realise that the interconnected threats of climate change, the pandemic, ecological destruction and white supremacy require our urgent attention, and we cannot afford the diversion of our resources to fruitless pursuits.

Memorial Day should not be used to promote further wars

The last Monday of May is set aside as Memorial Day in the United States. A national public holiday, it is intended as a day of remembrance for all American military personnel who were killed in active combat. Official commemorations focus on themes of patriotism and sacrifice. These topics, while comforting, serve to obscure the imperialist and predatory nature of American wars in pursuit of political objectives.

Rather than engage in mindless flag-waving drivel, this day should provide an opportunity to examine why so many generations have served in US imperial wars overseas. First, some relevant background context; the first Memorial Day event was started by African American Civil War veterans, meeting at the site of a former Confederate military encampment. In May 1865, ten thousand black soldiers held a parade in Charleston to honour and rebury their fallen comrades.

They commemorated the sacrifices of their fellow soldiers, not to agitate for more wars, but to remember the heavy price they paid to gain their emancipation from slavery. Interestingly, this year, when Retired Lt. Col. Barnard Kemter, spoke of the crucial role of black veterans in starting Memorial Day, the organisers of the commemorative event in Hudson, Ohio, cut off his microphone.

Memorial Day has always been contradictory

Decoration Day, as the holiday was first known, was originated officially by former Union general John Logan, in 1868. Conceived as a way of honouring Civil War veterans who fought for the North, it involved decorating the graves of the war dead with flowers. The former Confederate states implemented their own version of memorialising their war dead, and this contradictory situation remained for decades following the conclusion of the Civil War.

While American participation in both the world wars expanded the meaning and scope covered by Memorial Day, it was officially mandated as a public holiday by the federal government in 1971. Intended as a measure to counteract the growing domestic antiwar movement, the holiday has involved patriotic themes, emphasising sacrifice and valour. However, the manner of remembering the war dead was contested, not only by civil rights and antiwar activists, but by Vietnam War veterans themselves.

The US Congress, when declaring Memorial Day a holiday in 1971, took no account of rising US casualties in Vietnam. They considered making the day a public event, associated with summer holidays, BBQs and family picnics. A number of Vietnam veterans, incensed that the day was being cooped into a celebration of US militarism, decided to take action.

Professor Elise Lemire, writing in the Washington Post, noted that Vietnam veterans protested turning Memorial Day into a propaganda instrument to agitate for further predatory wars. They rejected the commercialisation of the day, and the underlying premise that America’s Vietnam War was a ‘noble’ undertaking.

In Massachusetts, the chapter of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War group organised a march, following the pathway taken by American patriots during the 1776 war of independence, thus associating their sacrifice with traditional patriotism. This nullified the frequent charge that the antiwar movement were ‘traitors’ or unpatriotic. As they arrived on Boston Common, 10 000 people had gathered to support their antiwar stance.

They emphasised that Memorial Day should not be used to glorify the US military, or disguise the criminal actions of US soldiers in Vietnam with noble-sounding yet hollow cliches about ‘fighting for freedom.’ Indeed, the US ruling class has a long track record of propagandising for future military adventures, wrapping itself in the cloak of purported ‘humanitarian’ motivations.

Let’s stop misusing World War 2 analogies to disguise the imperialist agenda of wars of conquest. Cynically portraying every officially designated enemy of the US as a ‘new Hitler’, the American financial and military-industrial oligarchy cunningly deploys the ‘good war’ rationalisation to indoctrinate its population into supporting new military interventions.

Prior to the 1989-90 US invasion of Panama, we were inundated with saturation coverage of the Hitler-like behaviour of Panama’s President Manuel Noriega. A dictator and strongman, we were informed that US military intervention – code named Operation Just Cause – was necessary to oust a ‘new Hitler’. After doing a modicum of research, one could find out that Noriega was indeed a long-term CIA asset, whose drug-trafficking was tolerated as he was a studious product of US military intelligence and training.

When Noriega the monster could no longer be controlled, he was ousted in a military operation that killed at a conservative estimate hundreds of ordinary Panamanians. The official US government rhetoric of nobility and humanitarian motivations reeks of sickening hypocrisy.

Memorial Day is not a platform for aggrandising conflict or agitating for future aggressions. Whether it be Vietnam, Iraq, or Afghanistan, US military defeats – for that is what they were – cannot be deployed into falsified narratives about the nobility of sacrifice. Future generations must know the imperialist character and toxic legacies of these invasions. We would do well to channel Memorial Day into a vehicle for a peaceful future. We must not forget the reasons why we remember.