The American Studies Associated has come up on the radar with their racist boycott of Israel. But it was unsurprising considering how radicalized the ASA had become. And the ASA’s domestic extremism raises questions about why it should receive any taxpayer funding at all.
A sample of the ASA’s extremism can be gleaned from its annual meeting in Puerto Rico last year. A meeting in Puerto Rico would seem innocuous, but a radical organization transmutes everything into extremism. And so we ended up with the ASA’s “Dimensions of Empire and Resistance”.
The Empire referred to the United States. “Submissions reflected a concern with thinking deeply about the conceptual and methodological demands of a truly transnational American Studies,” so the program was described.
What is a transnational American Studies? An Anti-American Studies. “The very location of this year’s conference is a powerful call for reflection—reflection on indigeneity and dispossession; reflection on the course of U.S. empire; reflection on rich histories of resistance,” the president of the American Studies Association wrote. “Puerto Rico is “foreign in a domestic sense”—marked the islands as the site of the United States’ most unabashed imperialist manipulations.”
By resistance, the ASA meant a clear and explicit endorsement of Puerto Rican terrorist groups.
In keeping with this move to examine the transnational, panelists also examined the local and transnational specificities of Puerto Rican history and culture, such as Caucus: Critical Prison Studies: Prisoners of Empire: Puerto Rican Political Prisoners and Resisting U.S. Colonialism which investigates the prison as a tool of colonial domination;
The event features Jan Susler, a radical left-wing Chicago lawyer who is involved in defending Puerto Rican independence terrorists. Here’s a sample of Susler’s rhetoric…
When the colonizers repressed and criminalized public organizing for independence, clandestine organizations formed, including the Popular Boricua Army — Macheteros in the 1980s. In 1985, the FBI arrested and almost killed its leader, Filiberto Ojeda Ríos, accusing him of participation in the 1983 expropriation of $7.5 million U.S. government insured dollars from a Wells Fargo depot in Hartford, Connecticut. After his release on bail, Ojeda returned to clandestine existence. In spite of the FBI’s ever-increasing reward for information leading to his capture, he remained underground for some fifteen years. On September 23, 2005, however, a squad of FBI assassins circled his home, shot him, and left him to bleed to death.
Rios was a cop-killer who shot and wounded several Federal agents attempting to arrest him. Despite this the FBI took him alive the first time around. The second time around he wasn’t that lucky.
Susler refers to bank robbery as “expropriation” which tells you everything you need to know about her and about the ASA.
Here’s the topic of the American Studies Association’s Presidential Address…
Presidential Address: Where We Stand: U.S. Empire at Street Level
Nearly twenty years have passed since the publication of Cultures of United States Imperialism, the landmark volume edited by Amy Kaplan and Donald Pease. That collection served as the state-of-the-field brief on methodologies and orientations within American Studies for many years, and of-the-field brief on methodologies and orientations within American Studies for many years, and proved a highly generative call for work that would set imperialism at the center of the field and its formulations. In the intervening years, however, U.S. Imperialism itself has not exactly sat still while these scholars have toiled: military interventions in this period include massive wars and smaller-scale landings and strikes from Iraq and Afghanistan, to Haiti, Bosnia, Yemen, Rwanda, and Libya
This is the sort of streetcorner Neo-Marxist radicalism that passes for the presidential address in the American Studies Association. It boasts that “American Imperialism” has been set at the center of American Studies.
That raises serious questions about the troubled state of the field of American Studies.
But if you still haven’t had enough, then there was “celebrated Puerto Rican poet and writer Giannina Braschi” who read “from her recent
work, including The United States of Banana and Empire of Dreams.”
The United States of Banana begins by mocking the attacks of September 11 in the most gruesome way possible by featuring a businessman falling from the sky.
“It’s the end of the world. I was excited by the whole situation,” Giannina Braschi’s anti-American novel begins. “No more fear of being fired—for typos or tardiness—digressions or recessions—and what a way of being fired—bursting into flames—without two weeks notice.”
“This businessman on the ground was clutching a briefcase in his hand– and on his finger, the wedding band. I suppose he thought his briefcase was his life– or his wife– or that both were one because the briefcase was as tight as the wedding band.”
Then the novel transitions to “join the author’s alter-ego Giannina on a quest to liberate the Puerto Rican prisoner Segismundo from the dungeon of the Statue of Liberty where he has been sentenced by his father, the King of the United States of Banana, more than 100 years prior for the crime of having been born. But when the king remarries, he frees his son, and for the sake of reconciliation, makes Puerto Rico the fifty-first state and grants American passports to all Latin American citizens.”
Giannina Braschi writes further about September 11. “Banks are the temples of America. This is a holy war. Our economy is religion.”
“The suicide-bomber kills the anonymity of the crowd. Nobodies suddenly become somebodies with names, nationalities, stories, and faces. The crowd has an individual rage that is awakened when its collectivity is attacked. It’s the fear that it could happen to you—or to me—or to any one of us anytime the crowd gathers. The government worries that the roll call of the death toll will storm the polls and overturn elections and cars, businesses and samenesses. When the government proclaims war against terrorism it is proclaiming war against the awakening of the masses.”
“It doesn’t matter how often I hear: religion, religion, religion. I know deep in my heart that it is not about religion. It is about the battle of matter and spirit—the battle of the oppressed that are dispossessed—and want to possess—because they feel possessed. And they are possessed of spirit. It is the call of the oppressed to be possessed by something higher than material dispossession. After all the schisms of isms—after capitalism, socialism, marxism, communism, feminism—after separation of church and state—it is an anachronism to call it a religious
crusade when it is a global conflict between the ones who have too much and the ones who have too little, too little to lose.”
“Success can be measured by numbers—and not just by the number of dead and wounded—but by the number of spectators around the world who witnessed the fall of the American Empire on TV.”