The Organic Intellectual

If our greatest task is to liberate humanity, as Paulo Freire asserts, then it is absolutely essential that we create a culture of resistance from below that is able not only to counter, but transcend the limitations of the ruling culture imposed by above. Hopefully, The Organic Intellectual will help serve this purpose.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

An Open Letter to Jeff "The Snowman" Monson


I've always had a prodigious amount of respect for you. As someone who has been engaged in Martial Arts for about half my life, I know how utterly militaristic and nationalistic the world of martial arts, especially MMA, can be. I was always so glad when I had the chance to see you fight, the chance to see someone representing political and economic ideals more similar to mine, and not just spewing nonsense, the sort of ideological hegemony that dominates much of the MMA world. You merged politics and sport in a way that was fascinating to me, and you gave me hope (as well as many others from the socialist/anarchist/leftist/radical tradition) that we did not have to reject things like MMA because it was often home to the most reactionary elements in our society.

When someone would ask who my favorite fighter was, there was never a doubt in my mind. I would, without hesitation, tell them the Snowman, simply because I felt like you represented so well what Pablo Picasso articulated many decades ago:
What do you think an artist is? An imbecile who has only his eyes if he is a painter, or his ears if he is a musician, or a lyre at every level of his heart if he is a poet, or, if he is merely a boxer, only his muscle? On the contrary, he is at the same time a political being, constantly alert to the heartrending, burning, or happy events in the world, molding himself in their likeness.
Your activism, your articulate and well-thought out critiques of capitalist society, your confronting the police at the mainstream political conventions, your handing out of anti-war leaflets at fights, all of it was so inspiring.

That is why I was so utterly disappointed and discouraged to hear that you openly broke with the Boycott, Sanctions, Divestment Movement against Israel to fight at the Israel FC event in November of last year. The BDS movement rightly targets Israel for their dehumanizing and devastating occupation of Palestine, for their relentless strangle hold on Gaza, their apartheid style treatment of Palestinian Arabs, for the hostile and colonial-settler nature of the Israeli state.

As a fighter who is more than socially aware, you must have known about the massacres of Palestinians in 2008, about the flotilla raid in 2010, about the never ending encroachment and settlement upon Palestinian land. You must have also known that artists from around the world, whether they be musicians or writers, professors or activists, have participated in and helped expand the BDS movement against what is, at its core, a fundamentally unjust state, a state which, as an anarchist, you must know in your heart should be opposed. Everyone from the Pixies and Gil Scott-Heron, to Carlos Santana and Pink Floyd's Roger Waters, to the famous Latin American writer Eduardo Galeano and the world-renowned Desmond Tuto the anti-apartheid activist, have signed their names to the list of BDS supporters.

You mentioned in the interview how “nice” everyone in Israel was. You almost seem to use this as a justification for Israeli state actions, implying that the misery and suffering of the Palestinian people is chocked up to “derogatory things” that really do not exist because you did not see them. I assume, from your short time there, you did not visit Palestine. I assume, as well, that you did not visit a Palestinian ghetto, you did not speak with Palestinian activists, you did not see their homes being bulldozed, the massive separation walls, the checkpoints, the dehumanizing searches, the lack of water for Palestinians to drink while Israeli homes sport beautiful green lawns. I suppose you did not speak with the mother or father whose son who has been detained, tortured, beaten, or killed by the Israeli IDF.

You are absolutely right to point out that this is not a religious “conflict,” itself a euphemistic term that conceals the nature of the aggressor and victim, citing the fact that you saw “Arab kids walking alongside Jewish kids next to a Christian church.” Again, your political dispositions should allow you, better than many, to understand the nature of this is not religious. The nature, instead, is one of state violence, of state-terrorism, of the forceful removal of Palestinians, a form of “slow genocide,” that secures what is, at its core, an essential and strategic centerpiece for US imperial policy in the Arab world. How can one separate Iraq and Afghanistan, and now Libya, from Isreal and Palestine? They are not separate issues, they are dynamically interwoven.

What is done is done, and the past cannot be changed. You took the fight, and you broke the BDS campaign in doing so. The question I and many other fans of yours have is why? Why would you break with a campaign, a strategy which has its roots in the anti-apartheid struggle against the old racist South African state? Why would a self-proclaimed anarchist, fighting to stomp out authoritarian hierarchy, economic injustice and inequality, and vicious and dehumanizing imperial wars, break with a campaign which holds similar aspirations for social justice and human dignity?

I can only hope in the future you join the BDS movement. Join with those of us across the world fighting for the rights of the Palestinian people and help put an end to one of the gravest of injustices occurring in our lifetime.

In solidarity,

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Derek Ide 2011


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