Other Voices: The Connexions Newsletter
June 18, 2016

This Issue: Homophobia, Liberation Theology and Cultural Appropriation

This issue of Other Voices features a wide range of issues. The topic of the week is homophobia, the hate that led to 49 deaths in Orlando last week, but which is present in greater or lesser form in every part of the world.

We are always concerned, not only with what is wrong with the world, but what to do about it.

This issue carries an excerpt from Umair Mohammed’s book ‘Confronting Injustice: Social Activism in the Age of Individualism’ in which he warns against the pitfalls of individualist and consumer-oriented approaches and argues in favour of collective action to build an effective movement.

Derrick Jensen considers some of the arguments in favour of pacifism and finds them wanting. He agrees that creative approaches to social change can oftentimes make violence unnecessary, but that sometimes violence is a necessary response to violence.

Another article looks at the decline of liberation theology, targeted as a threat by both the Vatican and secular power structures.

Kenan Malik considers the issue of “cultural appropriation” and asks why so many on the so-called left are more interested in criticizing Justin Bieber’s hairstyle than in fighting capitalism.

From the Archives we present ‘Suffragetto,” a 100-year-old board game from Britain, which allowed players to imitate real-life battles between suffragettes campaigning for votes for women, and the police.

The book of the week is “Canada Since 1960s: A People’s History” which presents a left perspective on 50 years of politics, economics, and culture, seen through the eyes of contributors to Canadian Dimension magazine.

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Topic of the Week


The horror of Orlando reminded us that homophobia, including its most extreme and deadly forms, is still very much with us. There are 77 countries in the world where homosexuality remains illegal; in ten of them, it is punishable by death. In the United States, hate-filled politicians affiliated with right-wing Christianity have said that, while the killings in Orlando were ‘wrong’, of course those killed are now burning in hell because they were gay. The Connexions Subject Index has many resources on homophobia, and on the struggles worldwide to overcome it. See more

This Week on Connexions.org

Can we shop our way to a better world?

In this article excerpted from his book ‘Confronting Injustice: Social Activism in the Age of Individualism’ Umair Mohammad argues that lifestyle change and ‘ethical consumerism’ are not bridges to effective social change, but barriers to it. To build effective social movements, he says, we must begin by rejecting individualist approaches. Read more

Keywords: Lifestyle Changes - Strategies for Social Change

Pipeline Rights vs Private Property Rights

At the dawn of the shale gas revolution, private property was held as sacred by natural gas producers. A major reason why the shale gas revolution was stronger in the United States than in other countries, according to experts, was because the private ownership of subsurface rights in the United States provided an incentive to property owners to lease their land to gas producers. But when the harm caused by fracking and pipelines became clearer and property owners started refusing to allow access to their land, the corporations began to see private property rights as an obstacle. Now government agencies, along with federal and state courts, are responding to industry pressure by granting pipeline companies permission to confiscate private property to build pipelines. Regulators, at the request of pipeline companies, are classifying proposed pipelines as in the “public interest,” and the courts are threatening private property owners with fines and prison if they refuse to allow pipeline companies access to their property. Read more

Keywords: Pipleine Construction - Property Rights

Top Shale Fracking Executive: We Won't Frack the Rich

Fracking companies deliberately keep their wells away from the "big houses" of wealthy and potentially influential people, a top executive from one of the country's most prominent shale drilling companies told a gathering of attorneys at a seminar on oil and gas environmental law. Wealthy people might have the money and resources to fight fracking operations in court, which in turn might set precedents that could be used to block fracking operations more widely. Read more

Keywords: Anti-Fracking Protests - Fracking

Away with the gatekeepers!

Kenan Malik reviews some recent controversies over 'cultural appropriation' and what they reveal about the degradation of contemporary campaigns for social justice. The campaign against cultural appropriation, says Malik, is part of the broader attempt to police communities and cultures. Those who most suffer from such policing are minority communities themselves, and in particular progressive voices within those communities. The real fight against injustice begins with ridding ourselves of our self-appointed gatekeepers. Read more

Keywords: Cultural appropriation - Identity politics

The Rise and Fall of Liberation Theology in Latin America

Liberation Theology in Latin America has been an integral part of progressive movements. The Vatican, with the support and guidance from the United States, has sabotaged Liberation Theology in Latin America. Their aim has been to maintain the status quo and stop the progressive forces from taking control. Read more

Keywords: Christian Social & Political Analysis - Liberation Theology

Excerpts from Endgame: Pacifism

Derrick Jensen looks at the main arguments normally presented by pacifists and examines them to see if they make any sense. He thinks they don’t. Read more

Keywords: PacifismNonviolence

Website of the Week


The website of Kenan Malik, who writes about science and society, the history of ideas, culture, multiculturalism, identity politics, censorship, race and racism, immigration, and ethics. Visit the site

Keywords: Ethics - Science & Society

Book of the Week

Canada Since 1960: A People's History

Edited by Cy Gonick

A Left Perspective on 50 Years of Politics, Economics and Culture, seen through the eyes of Canadian Dimension magazine. When Winnipeg's Cy Gonick started the magazine Canadian Dimension in 1963 to provide a home for the thinking and analysis of mostly young leftists engaged in Canadian economic, social, cultural, artistic and political issues, he had no grand plan. But Canadian Dimension was welcomed by intellectuals, scholars and students, and it proved enduring. Hundreds of Canada's leading figures of the left have contributed to its pages over the years, writing about every major topic in Canadian public life.

This book offers an account of the most important developments in Canadian history from the sixties until today, as seen and interpreted by writers on the pages of Dimension. Each chapter reviews a major theme, such as Canada's relationship to the U.S., the development of our health care system, the dynamics of Aboriginal-non-Aboriginal relations and the role of Canadian cultural work in shaping Canadian society. Taken together, the book provides a unique and broad perspective on virtually every significant event and development in recent Canadian history.

Readers who know the magazine will find this book a compelling summary of how Canada changed in the past five decades, and how the Left saw those changes and challenged them. Readers who discover Canadian Dimension through this book will find a multitude of compelling voices who challenge the dominant neoliberal thinking of mainstream Canadian intellectual life. Read more

Keywords: Canadian History - Left History

Film of the Week


Based on a true story, the film depicts a group of lesbian and gay activists who raised money to help families affected by the British miners' strike in 1984, at the outset of what would become the Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners campaign. See more

Keywords: Gay & Lesbian History - Strike Support


How Propaganda (Actually) Works

Propaganda is far more complex and problematic than lying about the facts. Certainly propaganda is designed to look like facts that are true and right, but not in a way we might think. What’s more, the consequences are far worse than most people consuming and even producing it realize. Understanding propaganda is the key to stopping it. Read more

Keywords: PropagandaFraming Issues

People's History

The bookseller saving Jerusalem's Palestinian identity

Stripped of their rights, the last wall of Palestinian resistance is culture, says the owner of a Jerusalem bookshop. Read more

Keywords: Bookstores - Palestine

From the Archives

'Suffragetto': a Suffragettes vs. Police Board Game Rediscovered After 100 Years

The Bodleian Library's recent Playing With History exhibition featured, among many other interesting historical games, the only known playing set of Suffragetto; a board game based on the battles between radical suffragettes and police constables in London during the early 20th century. Read more

Keywords: Suffragettes - Games

Connexions Calendar

June 20 – International
World Refugee Day

The United Nations General Assembly decided that 20 June would be celebrated as World Refugee Day, coinciding with Africa Refugee Day, after the 50th anniversary of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees.

June 20 - 24 – Winnipeg
Peace Building Through Community Development

This course will provide an overview of the development field, emphasizing approaches to development that are based in holistic, culturally-centered, and participatory approaches.

June 21
National Aboriginal Day

June is Aboriginal History Month. The 22nd annual National Aboriginal Day celebration is on Tuesday, June 21, 2016.

June 22 - 26
Torture Survivor Awareness Week

Join us at our yearly celebration to learn about current human rights issues such as torture, U.S. policy on human rights, and the long wait torture survivors face before they are granted asylum.

July 1 - 3 – Canso, Nova Scotia
Stan Rogers Folk Festival

An annual three-day music festival held in Canso, Nova Scotia.

The Connexions Calendar is an online calendar that exists to advertise events that support social justice, democracy, human rights, ecology, and other causes. We invite you to use it to promote your events. Adding events to the Connexions Calendar is FREE. We'll give you a username and password which you use to log on. Use the contact form to arrange for a username and password. Read more →

Seeds of Fire

June 18, 1935
The Battle of Ballantyne Pier

Dockworkers who have been locked out by the shipping companies march towards Vancouver’s Ballantyne Pier, where scabs have been brought in to unload ships. As they approach the pier, they are attacked by a massed force of hundreds of city, provincial, and federal police. Police also attack the union hall, and a first aid post set up by the women’s auxiliary.

June 18, 1934
The Battle of Orgreave

Striking coalminers and their supporters confront police who have been sent to help British Steel in its attempt to break the miners’ union. Between 4,000 and 8,000 police are deployed against the picketing miners. They are helped by intelligence provided by the British security service, MI5, which has infiltrated the miners’ union in order to gather intelligence to be used in defeating the strike. Police repeatedly charge the strikers. They arrest 95 workers, but all the trials collapse after it becomes clear that police have lied and fabricated evidence.

June 21, 1919
Bloody Sunday in Winnipeg

RCMP charge into a crowd of strikers in Winnipeg, killing two men and injuring 20.

June 23-26, 1848
Insurrection in Paris

The people of Paris rise in insurrection. The revolt is a response to a series of reactionary actions by the “Party of Order”, the dominant faction in the bourgeois government. On June 21, the “Party of Order” shuts down the National Workshops, initially created to provide work for unemployed workers. On June 23, 170,000 workers come out into the streets of Paris in protest and begin erecting barricades.

June 25, 1967
Mohammed Ali found guilty

Heavyweight boxing champion Mohammed Ali is found guilty of refusing induction into the armed forces of the United States. The boxing authorities pile on as well: they strip Ali of his title and take away his boxing license.

June 27, 1905
Revolt on the Battleship Potemkin

Rebellion breaks out on the Battleship Potemkin. It begins spontaneously when sailors refuse to eat a meal of borscht made from rotten meat infested with maggots.

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Other Voices: The Connexions Newsletter, is available online here

This issue was edited by Ulli Diemer.

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