Folk Music, Labor Movements and Radical Politics
Especially in times of revolution or crisis, the role of music has been a defining element in telling the stories of labor movements, against the war in Vietnam and for civil rights. Folk musician Eli Smith gave a presentation at the Left Forum this year on the satirical songs of the IWW, including the work of Joe Hill and many others. The early works of Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie are a great place to start, along with the lesser-known work of John L. Handcox and the Southern Tenant Farmers Union. It was the first racially integrated union in the South that used folk music to fight for the rights of sharecroppers.
Guest – Eli Smith, a banjo player, writer, researcher and promoter of folk music living in New York City. Eli is a Smithsonian Folkways recording artist and produces two folk festivals annually, the Brooklyn Folk Festival in the spring and Washington Square Park Folk Festival in the fall. He has appeared as a guest on many radio stations, including WBAI, WNYC, WKCR and WDST in New York and KPFA, KPFK and KUCI in California. Eli has presented panels and discussions on folk music at the Left Forum conference at Cooper Union and at the Podcamp podcasting conference in New York City. He has performed and recorded with his old time string band The Down Hill Strugglers, Peter Stampfel, John Cohen and Sam Shepard. The Down Hill Strugglers were recently featured on the soundtrack album to the Coen Brothers’ film Inside Llewyn Davis, which was produced by T Bone Burnett.
Terrorization of Dissent: Corporate Repression, Legal Corruption, and the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act is a collection of essays by lawyers, scholars and activists that includes interviews with those who suffered from the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act’s conspiracy provisions. Editors Jason Del Gandio and Anthony Nocella have compiled essential information to document how the AETA is a clear violation of the First Amendment. Specifically, the book documents how corporations and the U.S. government conspire under this law to prosecute animal rights activists and acts of civil disobedience involving environmental issues under the specter of terrorism. Right now, according to Nocella and Del Gandio, corporate profit determines what can or can’t be done to animals and the environment.
The importance of this act has really shaped how the government looks at one of the larger movements in the United States.
The animal advocacy, animal rights, and animal liberation movements have been demonized and stigmatized as terrorists, through the media and the government through this particular act.
What are the effects of this law? Who influenced this act to be pushed into law? It wasn’t really government.
There were lobbying organizations that pushed this law into effect: the Animal Enterprise Protection Coalition, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the Center for Consumer Freedom.
Any logical CEO of a corporation will say, I don’t want anything to threaten my product.
That product in the case of animals is anywhere from circuses to Sea World, to clothing, from leather to fur, to food.
We can do away with circuses and fur and a lot of different clothing, but one thing we can’t live without is food.
We have to look at the real conflict and that’s with food.
Do we want people to have a plant-based diet or an animal-based diet?
There are hundreds of billions of dollars protecting the paradigm of people eating meat, fish and chicken.
If anyone threatens that industry, under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, you’re deemed a terrorist.
To wash away all the rhetoric, that is what this law is specifically speaking about. That’s why it was expanded from the Animal Enterprise Protection Act to the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act.
The point of the book is that law schools, political science departments, think tanks, need a text that comes from a variety of viewpoints specifically looking at the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act.
I think we have to understand the difference between how corporations are influencing laws and literally writing the bills into laws and into effect, while political repression is really law enforcement and senators influencing laws.
We’re not criminalizing activists like we did in the ’70s and ’80s; now we’re labeling them as terrorists.
National Weekend of the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act – Sept 5-7, 2014
Guest – Anthony Nocella II, Ph.D., an intersectional academic-activist, is Senior Fellow of the Dispute Resolution Institute at the Hamline Law School, co-founder and Director of the Institute for Critical Animal Studies, and editor of the Peace Studies journal. He has published numerous books, including Terrorists or Freedom Fighters?: Reflections on the Liberation of Animals (2004), Call to Compassion: Religious Perspectives on Animal Advocacy (2011), and Defining Critical Animal Studies: An Intersectional Social Justice Approach for Liberation (2014).