Censorship Chris Hedges

Hedges: Alice Walker and the Price of Conscience

Alice Walker was disinvited to the Bay Area Book Festival after Zionist groups threatened to carry out protests. The public and presenters are complicit in her blacklisting if they attend.
“Price of Conscience.” [Original illustration by Mr. Fish]

By Chris Hedges | Substack

There is a steep price to pay for having a conscience and more importantly the courage to act on it. The hounds of hell pin you to the cross, hammering nails into your hands and feet as they grin like the Cheshire cat and mouth bromides about respect for human rights, freedom of expression and diversity. I have watched this happen for some time to Alice Walker, one of the most gifted and courageous writers in America. Walker, who was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for her novel The Color Purple, has felt the bitter sting of racism. She refuses to be silent about the plight of the oppressed, including the Palestinians.

“Whenever I come out with a book, or anything that will take me before the public, the world, I am assailed as this person I don’t recognize,” she said when I reached her by phone. “If I tried to keep track of all the attacks over the decades, I wouldn’t be able to keep working. I am happy people are standing up. It is all of us. Not just me. They are trying to shut us down, shut us up, erase us. That reality is what is important.”

The Bay Area Book festival delivered the latest salvo against Walker. The organizers disinvited her from the event because she  praised the writings of the New Age author David Icke and called his book And the Truth Shall Set You Free “brave.” Icke has denied critics’ charges of anti-Semitism. The festival organizers twisted themselves into contortions to say they were not charging Walker with anti-Semitism. She was banned because she lauded a controversial writer, who I suspect few members of the committee have read. The poet and writer Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, who Walker was to interview, withdrew from the festival in protest.

Walker, a supporter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, has been a very public advocate for Palestinian rights and a critic of Israel for many years. Her friendship with Icke has long been part of the public record. She hid nothing. It is not as if the festival organizers suddenly discovered a dark secret about Walker. They sought to capitalize on her celebrity and then, when they felt the heat from the Israel lobby, capitulated to the mob to humiliate her.

“I don’t know these people,” Walker said of the festival organizers who disinvited her. “It feels like the south. You know they are out there in the community, and they have their positions, but all you see are sheets. That’s what this is. It’s like being back in the south.”

Banning writers because of books they like or find interesting nullifies the whole point of a book festival. Should I be banned because I admire Louis-Ferdinand Céline’s masterpieces Journey to the End of the NightDeath on the Installment Plan, and Castle to Castle, despite his virulent anti-Semitism, which even after World War II he refused to relinquish? Should I be banned for liking Joseph Heller’s Catch-22, which I recently reread, and which is rabidly misogynistic? Should I be banned for loving William Butler Yeats, who, like Ezra Pound, many of whose poems I have also committed to memory, was a fascist collaborator? Should I be banned because I revere Hannah Arendt, whose attitudes towards African-Americans were paternalistic, at best, and arguably racist? Should I be banned because I cherish books by C.S. Lewis, Norman Mailer and D.H. Lawrence, who were homophobic?

We might as well sweep clean library shelves if the attitudes of writers we read mean we are denied a right to speak. 

And let’s not even get started with the Bible, which I studied as a seminarian at Harvard Divinity School. God repeatedly demands righteous acts of genocide, transforming the Nile into blood so the Egyptians will suffer from thirst. God sends swarms of locusts and flies to torture the Egyptians, along with hail, fire and thunder to destroy all plants and trees. God orders the firstborn in every Egyptian household killed so all will know “that the Lord makes a distinction between Egyptians and Israel.” The killing goes on until “there was not a house where one was not dead.” 

The Bible contains much of this divinely sanctioned slaughtering of non-believers. It endorses slavery and the beating of enslaved people. It condones the execution of homosexuals and women who commit adultery. It views women as property and approves the right of fathers to sell their daughters. But the Bible also remains, with all these contradictions and moral failings, a great religious, ethical and moral document. Even the most flawed books often have something to teach us.

Organizers of the festival attacked Walker for her poem “It is Our Frightful Duty.” They accuse Walker of channeling Icke’s alleged anti-Semitism into her writing, as if Walker is unable to think for herself. The attack on the poem, which is a gross misreading of its intent, exposes the lie that Walker’s position on Israel and Palestine had nothing to do with her being disinvited.

“Unfortunately, Ms. Walker has not only promoted Icke’s ideas widely on her own blog and in interviews, but they may have influenced her own writing,” the festival wrote in a statement. “Ms. Walker’s 2017 poem “It is our (Frightful) Duty to Study the Talmud” encourages people to use Google and Youtube to “follow the trail of “The / Talmud” as its poison belatedly winds its way / Into our collective consciousness. // Some of what you find will sound / Too crazy to be true. Unfortunately those bits are likely / To be true.” A New York Magazine essay by writer Nylah Burton (who identifies as Black and Jewish) describes her reaction to Walker’s support of Icke and this poem.”

The poem calls out these hate-filled religious texts. “All of it: The Christian, the Jewish, The Muslim; even the Buddhist. All of it, without exception, At the root.” Walker reminds us in the poem that these texts have been used throughout millennia to sanctify subjugation, dehumanization and murder. Slave holders defended the enslavement of Blacks by citing numerous passages in the Old and the New Testament, including Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians where, equating slaveholders with God, Paul writes: “Slaves, be obedient to your human masters with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ.”  

Israel seeks, in the same way, to legitimize its colonial-settler project by citing the Old Testament and the Talmud, the primary source of Jewish law. Never mind that Palestine was a Muslim country from the 7th century until it was seized by military force in 1948. The Old Testament, in the hands of Zionists, is a deed to Palestinian land.

Walker excoriates this religious chauvinism and mythology. She warns that theocracies, which sacralize state power, are dangerous. In the poem, she highlights  passages in the Talmud used to condemn those outside the faith. Jews must repudiate these sections in the Talmud and the Old Testament, as those of us who are Christians must repudiate the hateful passages in the Bible. When these religious screeds are weaponized by zealots —Christian, Muslim or Jewish — they propagate evil. 

Walker writes:

Is Jesus boiling eternally in hot excrement,

For his “crime” of throwing the bankers

Out of the Temple? For loving, standing with,

And defending

The poor? Was his mother, Mary,

A whore?

Are Goyim (us) meant to be slaves of Jews, and not only

That, but to enjoy it?

Are three year old (and a day) girls eligible for marriage and intercourse?

Are young boys fair game for rape?

Must even the best of the Goyim (us, again) be killed?

Pause a moment and think what this could mean

Or already has meant

In our own lifetime.

Walker was invited to the festival to interview Honorée Fanonne Jeffers about her work, not to give a lecture on Icke or Palestine — but no matter. She ran afoul of the thought police, who are always vigilant about catering to smear campaigns against Israeli critics but blithely ignore the virulent and overt racism of Israeli politicians, military commanders, writers and intellectuals.

Walker is not the first writer targeted by Israel. Israel banned the author Gunter Grass and demanded the rescindment of his Nobel prize after he wrote a poem denouncing Germany’s decision to provide Israel with nuclear submarines, warning that Israel “could wipe out the Iranian people” if it attacked Iran. Former Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who calls for the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians to create a “Greater” Israel, described the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish as “someone who has written texts against Zionism — which are still used as fuel for terror attacks against Israel.” He said honoring Darwish was the equivalent to honoring Adolf Hitler for “Mein Kampf.” Israeli bookstores Steimatzky and Tzomet Sefarim purged Sally Rooney’s novels from some 200 branches and online sites because of her support for BDS. Israeli writer Yehonatan Geffen was beaten outside his home for calling the Israeli prime minister a racist.

Bay Area Book Festival founder and director Cherilyn Parsons defended the board’s decision to disinvite Walker when I requested a comment:  

Our decision to disinvite Ms. Walker had nothing to do with her position on Palestine, her voice as a Black woman writer, or her right to speak her mind freely. We honor all those things. We also do not hold that she is anti-Semitic. (To be pro-Palestinian does not mean a person is anti-Semitic, just as to be Jewish does not mean that one is anti-Palestine.) Our decision was based purely on Ms. Walker’s inexplicable, ongoing endorsement of David Icke, a conspiracy theorist who dangerously promulgates such beliefs as that Jewish people bankrolled Hitler, caused the 2008 global financial crisis, staged the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and more. (See his book “And the Truth Shall Set You Free,” available full-text on the Internet Archive.) Icke also regularly promotes “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” a fabricated, uber-anti-Semitic text that was widely read during the time of social upheaval in pre-WWII Germany and turned public sentiment against Jews–a truly dangerous document for a populace to embrace. Finally, we note that Ms. Walker provided financial support for, and participation in, a documentary celebrating Icke and his work.

“I do not believe he is anti-Semitic or anti-Jewish,” Walker posted on her website. “I do believe he is brave enough to ask the questions others fear to ask, and to speak his own understanding of the truth wherever it might lead. Many attempts have been made to censor and silence him. As a woman, and a person of color, as a writer who has been criticized and banned myself, I support his right to share his own thoughts.”

“I maintain that I can be friends with whoever I like,” Walker told me. “The attachment to this belief that this person is evil is strange. He’s not.”

I worked for two years as a reporter in Jerusalem. I listened to the daily filth spewed out by Israelis about Arabs and Palestinians, who used racist tropes to sanctify Israeli apartheid and gratuitous violence against Palestinians. Israel routinely orders air strikes, targeted assassinations, drone attacks, artillery strikes, tank assaults and naval bombardments on the largely defenseless population in Gaza. Israel blithely dismisses those it murders, including children, as unworthy of life, drawing on poisonous religious edicts. It is risible that Israel and its US supporters can posit themselves as anti-racists, abrogating the right to cancel Walker. It is the equivalent of allowing the Klan to vet speakers lists.  

Torat Ha’Melech by Rabbi Yitzhak and Rabbi Yosef Elitzur is one of innumerable examples of the deep racism embedded in Israeli culture. The book provides rabbinical advice to Israeli soldiers and officers in the occupied Palestinian territories. It  describes non-Jews as “uncompassionate by nature” and justifiably exterminated to “curb their evil inclinations.” “If we kill a gentile who has violated one of the seven commandments of [Noah]…there is nothing wrong with the murder.” It assures troops that it is morally legitimate to kill Palestinian children, writing, “There is justification for killing babies if it is clear they will grow up to harm us, and in such a situation they may be harmed deliberately, and not only during combat with adults.” The Biblical prohibition on murder, Yitzhak and Elitzur write, “refers only to a Jew who kills a Jew, and not to a Jew who kills a gentile, even if that gentile is one of the righteous among the nations.” They even say it is “permissible” to kill Jewish dissidents. A Jewish dissident, the rabbis write, is a rodef. rodef, according to traditional Jewish law, is someone who is “pursuing” another person to murder him or her. It is the duty of a Jew to kill a rodef if the rodef is told to cease the threatening behavior and does not. Yigal Amir, who assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995, argued that the din rodef, or “law of the pursuer,” justified Rabin’s murder.

Walker is the best among us. She is one of our most gifted and lyrical writers. She stands unequivocally with the crucified of the earth. She sees her own pain in the pain of others. She demands justice. She pays the price.

Boycott the Bay Area Book Festival.

That is the least we owe a literary and moral titan.


NOTE TO SCHEERPOST READERS : There is now no way left for me to continue to write a weekly column for ScheerPost and produce my weekly television show without your help. The walls are closing in, with startling rapidity, on independent journalism, with the elites, including the Democratic Party elites, clamoring for more and more censorship. Bob Scheer, who runs ScheerPost on a shoestring budget, and I will not waver in our commitment to independent and honest journalism, and we will never put ScheerPost behind a paywall, charge a subscription for it, sell your data or accept advertising. Please, if you can, sign up at chrishedges.substack.com so I can continue to post my now weekly Monday column on ScheerPost and produce my weekly television show, The Chris Hedges Report.

Chris Hedges
Chris Hedges

Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for fifteen years for The New York Times, where he served as the Middle East Bureau Chief and Balkan Bureau Chief for the paper. He previously worked overseas for The Dallas Morning NewsThe Christian Science Monitor, and NPR. He is the host of show The Chris Hedges Report.

58 comments

  1. Well, as much as Alice Walker may be one of America’s most gifted writers, any endorsement of David Icke is problematical: the man is obviously “Looney Tunes” and completely so. I myself would hesitate to become friends with anyone associated with this idiot.

    1. Your comment could be seen by some as “If she likes people I don’t, then see deserves what she gets.”

      That is really messed up.

      1. @JustAMaverick
        The problem is liking or not liking a person but identifying with their ideas. Would your reaction or Mr. Hedges had been the same if Mr. Icke was an apologist for the Ku Klux Klan and a proponent of white supremacy??

    2. You’re missing the point. Walker was banned because of a friendship. I don’t know Icke or his work, but friendships can happen and endure despite wildly differing views. That would be guilt by association. You must admit that the label of antisemitism is a terrible weapon.

    3. @david johnson
      So, you require that your friends are not also friends with people you don’t like? Do they have to take an oath or fill out a form in order to be your friend? Do you also have files on your friends? Seriously, sounds like a severe case of TDS to me.

    4. If that is your only response after what Chris Hedges has so passionately and eloquently written, I would say the same about you.

    5. Does it matter that you happen to think David Icke is “Looney Tunes”? Does Walker deserve to be “disinvited” because you object to someone she admires? Furthermore, has she ever asked you to be her “friend”? If we use that as the standard, then I think your comment should be censored because I would “hesitate to become friends” with you.

      But seriously, I suggest you re-read the sixth paragraph in this article and then tell us that it’s ok to silence Walker. Censorship in any way, shape, or form is never a good thing, no matter what the reason. It’s the earmark of fascism and it begs the question as to who is next.

  2. Really Chris? Anti semitism? Is that all you have? David Icke is a controversial figure who asserts that the British Royal family are lizards and are part of a global conspiracy to take over the world. He is also a prominent Covid denier spreading disinformation and linking the virus with 5G roll out. He is certainly not a Palestinian supporter. Alice Walker may bravely speak up for Palestinians, but by praising David Icke, she’s shifting towards the QAnon conspiracy theorists.

    1. Neither I nor evidently o;r the majority of others who have signed the petition in Alice Walker’s behalf were aware of her praise for Ickes which means that she has not been actively promoting him and his ideas.

      She was disinvited because the East Bay Jewish Community Relations Council and others in the pro-Israel Jewish community were determined to block her appearance because of her criticism of apartheid Israel and support for the Palestinians and were the ones who “called to the attention” of the festival to her previous praise of Ickes.

    2. Suzanne Looms, you are unfortunately spot on. After a stellar progressive career, Alice Walker is moving to not just being friends with, but actively promoting and funding a Qanon level reactionary.

    3. “Take over the world”? I would have assumed that being the Queen billionaire would already be about as close as one gets to that ambition.

    4. That’s right. And Walker has bankrolled Ickes and embraced his nutty and anti semitic ideas very publicly. She is spreading his vile and dangerous beliefs. She needs to address this fully and publicly.

  3. Excellent article. The worse thing that can be done, is to ban books. Any Book.
    We want, we Need to teach kids to love books. And much can be learned by reading a book you disagree with.
    I found Hitlers book very boring. I wonder how many Hitler Fans have actually read it.

    To ban Alice Walker because she likes a book she read, is beyond belief for a Book Festival.
    Makes me wonder what the Book Festival Organizers were threatened with. Shame on them.

    1. @Nylene13

      So in your opinion it is OK to like “Mein Kampf” and identify with its ideas?

  4. Ahh, the arbitor of who can be a friend in the eyes of some schmuck who sits at his table or on his couch and tells the world, albeit the small-small world of Scheer Post, that an endorsement of anyone not to this schmuck’s liking makes the endorser herself “looney tunes.”

    Whew, the depth of the American-Western Culture (sic) mind. Ahh, so, the lesser evil of some schmuck who probably votes like a lemming, and endorses that Demon-crat, even with his nose plugged with ginger root.

    Get that list going, schmuck. Who is allowed to be read or endorsed, so we may go gently into the night of your Brave New World.

    Sorry to use my French, schmuck . . . with irony, though: Schmuck, or shmuck, is a pejorative term meaning one who is stupid or foolish, or an obnoxious, contemptible or detestable person. The word came into the English language from Yiddish (Yiddish: שמאָק ‎, shmok ), where it has similar pejorative meanings, but where its literal meaning is a vulgar term for a penis.”

  5. I’m afraid I must agree with the previous comment. David Icke has shown himself for many years to be a serious and potentially dangerous nutcase and spreading his conspiracy fantasies is not helping any of us.

  6. Thank you Chris, for a truly “Christian” article. Now that we have all our media hating every aspect of a country with a long and cultured history, refusing any possible contact with anyone associated with it, and taking the side of a neighboring land simply to destroy the Orthodox Christian land of 145 million people which we have decided are our enemy. No understanding is attempted, no investigation is made of the constant accusations against it, any country daring to take its side is treated with the same invective, punishments are meted out with no restraint.
    No wonder Alice Walker is a target of this campaign. Decent people with integrity, talent and idealism are not allowed to influence others to use their own intellect and understanding of what goes on around them. Follow the prejudiced leaders into the mud, seems to be the plan.

    1. @rosemerry
      You forget that the leader of the Orthodox Christian land of 145 million decided to invade without any rational cause the neighboring Christian ( mostly Orthodox with some Catholics) land of 44 millions.
      Nobody in his right mind intends to destroy Russia, leaving Ukraine alone and going back home is enough.

  7. Makes me ashamed to live in the Bay Area. How disgusting! Alice Walker is revered around here, what the hell is wrong with these people? I don’t know who David Icke is, and unlike commenter david johnson, I don’t care, because he’s not the issue here.

    1. David Icke is totally the issue. That’s why Hedges goes for opportunism in not saying anything about what HE thinks about Icke, and what Walker has been doing to promote his Qanon level politics.

      1. @squirrels
        The issue is censorship, and censoring someone for what one of their friends says and/or thinks. Doing that is wrong, so it doesn’t matter who the friend is or what they say and/or think. Therefore, David Icke is not the issue here. But I suppose you pro-censorship types can’t get that.

    2. You’re right! The issue is the astonishingly Antisemitic poems Alice Walker has written and continues to write!

      1. @Joseph Conner Micallef
        “Antisemitic poems”? Please provide some examples. Hint: Pro-Palestinian and/or anti-Israel poems are not Antisemitic.

      2. Asking if it’s right for the Jews to enslave the Goyim is VERY Antisemitic.

  8. bullshit! when the Palestinians abandon their goal of the destruction of Jews and Israel there could be peace! Israel was created by a legitimate UN vote…and Palestinians never had a “homeland” in todays Israel…it was Roman, Byzantine, Turkish & British…and lastly, the day they decide they want a decent future for their kids instead of living in shithole refugee camps they’ll call cousins wherever they live and re-locate…my family members were victims of the Holocaust…those who survived looked to wherever they could move, be it Israel, the US, Canada or anywhere else…they didn’t stay in those refugee camps hoping to go back to their homes…and the few who tried were killed by there christian neighbors who had taken their former homes!

    1. The likes of you are the proof that “freedom of speech” is still alive and well on Scheer Post; permitting the blathering invective against Palestinians, coming out of your quite “obviously” paranoid, “Looney Tunes” brain.

    2. Hey Chuck … nice name mate … very American … am I right? … Legitimate vote by the UN? … don’t make me laugh …
      There are far too many instances on the world stage of conflict , invasion and genocide, where any mandate or resolution, or lack of by the UN serves some powers specific excuses.
      Why don’t you read about the History of West Papua (UN vote in place), or that of the true story of the repeated invasions of Iraq, or Afghanistan (No UN resolution in place). Secret and illegal carpet bombing of Cambodia by the US after invading Vietnam (No UN resolution in place) The displacement of the indigenous peoples of Diego Garcia, Guam, Bikini Atoll, etc
      How about the more recent illegal bombing of Libya and Syria … ALL of these conflicts have killed many 100s of 1000s innocent children, women, men all in the name of greed and power – many by the industrialised military corporations that now endlessly lobby and sponsor Western governments and their allies.
      Go and have a look Chuck … I’m sure that will keep you busy for a while
      All the best mate … I’m happy to discuss … but if you become personal or disrespectful … I will no longer engage … As a hint go look at West Papua and go back to the 1950s and come back to today ,,, the UN and the USA sanctioned this deplorable act.

  9. Thanks for that. Completely new to me all that stuff about Israel and the legitimacy of killings. Pretty damning that sort of stuff.

    I’m completely with you on the nonsense of banning people because they like or even support this or that speech, book, attitude, idea… whatever.

    Only the light of day is real protection.

    That’s clear isn’t it? If some loony bears an enormous grudge and thinks all ‘those people’ and ‘their kids’ should be ‘done away with’ then the sooner we hear from that person about this the better. And the sooner we approach them with some delicacy, some nuance, the better.

    Rather than mock, hate, vilify and drive them underground where they fume and fester until one day they suddenly spring out and kill a dozen or more children in a school or somesuch.

    Isn’t that quite clear?

    And ‘insane madness’ is wholly relative in practice. In some logic maybe not. But the human world is not constructed wholly on logical lines. As demonstrated right here in this article the Jewish faith is insane of itself.

    Some people hold that all religions are insane. Point taken. It may well be they are. But we live with this insanity and it is clear the more we know about it the better.

    Just as it is clear that the less we know about it the better.

    What the hell do I mean by that stupid remark? Well I mean on the one hand we need to know if a ‘cult’ (let me just call them all ‘cults’ and thereby include the full range of ‘insane’ thought forms) is advocating and strongly believing in something that looks very much like it threatens the rest of us and is a ‘clear and present danger’.

    While on the other hand it is clear that knowing Islam is full of hate and exhorts followers to exterminate all non-believers is not conducive to peace in the land and it has been going well this last hundred years or so the slow disappearance of this knowledge even amongst Muslims ! The same with the Christian exhortations which, of course, are virtually the same as the Jewish.

    Slowly these awful aspects of those religions drain away and get forgotten and that’s good.

    So that again illustrates the fundamental apparent ‘madness’ or illogicality of our human society. It’s at once both better to know and better not to know. It’s all, of course, a matter of context in time and place and proportion, relative significance, etc.

    Blanket condemnations are ludicrous. There’s only one ‘blanket postulate’ we can make: ‘let all be revealed’. When all is brought out into the light, accepted and used, treated, accommodated appropriately then we get somewhere.

    There’s no two ways about it and there never was.

    1. With regard to your statement ” knowing Islam is full of hate and exhorts followers to exterminate all non-believers is not conducive to peace in the land”, this is completely inaccurate. Nowhere in any Islamic text is such a statement made, and those who claim that it does either take statements completely out of context or rely on mistranslations of the original Arabic. If this were true, Islam wouldn’t have spread beyond the Arabian Peninsula, because every “non-believer” would have been killed when they came into contact with the Muslims. I’m a Muslim, and Jews lived in my parent’s hometown for centuries and were never molested. In fact, Jews often sought refuge in Muslim lands when they were fleeing persecution in Europe. Please check your facts before making such statements.

  10. I cannot vouch for every claim David Icke has ever made, but some of his putatively “controversial” statements have turned out to be true. An example is his position on electromagnetic frequency weapons and their use against citizens.

    I would encourage everyone to read a report published by Project Censored back in 2006 titled, “Electromagnetic Weapons and Human Rights,” by Peter Phillips et al. Here is an excerpt:

    “The US has a long history of human rights violations through harassment, telephone tapping, video surveillance, behavior manipulation, torture, drug-induced states of conscience and psychological
    control. Congress’s passage of the Military Commission Act of 2006 put universal human rights
    outside the scope of US policy. Today, the US government is using the most technologically
    advanced forms of surveillance and control, along with the propaganda of fear and intimidation
    against its citizens. The US engages in covert torture, covert imprisonment, increased censorship and
    the massive secret classification of government documents.”

    1. Thanks, I took a two hour look and now agree this article is seminal to understanding the dangers of mind control research. I know Peter Phillips and this (dated ) material gives me new respect for his human rights efforts.

  11. Thanks to Bob Scheer and Chris Hedges for this good post.

    I am old enough to have experienced at least two earlier periods of thought police that affected my birthplace, the site of my college degrees, and 25-year residency (50s, 60s and early 70s): Berkeley CA.

    These periods were McCarthyism of the 1950s and House Unamerican Activities Committee anti-communism of the 60s, which latter catapulted HUAC hero Richard Nixon into the worst presidency before Trump. Both of these eras ravaged Berkeley’s intellectual scene, something the Book Fair people could know about if they learn their local history.

    UC Berkeley is the home of the Free Speech Movement, for god’s sakes!

    1. @David Hupp
      I know! But Berkeley is very different than it was in the ’60s or even in the 80s when I moved here. This town got flooded with money and is now more yuppie than anything else. People here still tout superficial “Berkeley values,” but this town is a mere shell of the one I moved to about 40 years ago.

  12. Let me take a wild guess, and maybe really go out on a limb. The Bay Area Book Festival organizers just love and admire Zelensky, who has strong, close, admiring ties to violent Nazis?! Am I wrong?

    1. Nazism is a simpler, cruder version of Social Darwinism.
      Zelensky appears to be a victim of mind control.

  13. I am dumbfounded that in America of the 21st anyone feels it’s necessary to write a polemical of hope that some great day in the future anyone may be able to read as he wants and be friends with whomever he likes. The need for this speaks to thought control on a level the old USSR could only dream about. At the same time, we seriously now live in a age of America where what Disney Corp thinks is considered to be paramount to the welfare of the country while a conservative Governor holds book-burning ceremonies in the state legislature. But keep up the good fight!

  14. I think Hedges underplays Walker’s focus on Israel and the Jews in her poem.
    My belief is: No one is innocent. But that doesn’t mean everyone is equally guilty, or responsible.
    As Walker’s paragon, Jesus, reputedly said, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”
    I take as bedrock Hedges’ implied point that if we qualify people as writers by their personal behavior, we would be left with a meager literature, and few to go listen to read their work, or get interviewed.
    I find Walker’s poem awful as a poem, and repellent in its ideas and beliefs. Don’t know a damn thing about Icke, but he sounds, well, ickey. (Ouch!)

    1. The hypocrisy and opportunism of Chris Hedges usually is kept in check, but it is on full display here.
      1.) The festival organizers claim they didn’t know much about Icke, much less how Alice Walker has turned into his most famous promoter, even helped finance his “documentary”, a self-focused propaganda film promoting him and his reactionary ideas. Who knows, but this David Icke and his horrific reactionary ideas need to be fought and thoroughly defeated. Hedges complains that people’s politics shouldn’t lead to the “cancel culture” type damning of all of a person, or an entire entity. Sounds good. Then he calls for a full boycott of the entire Berkeley Book Festival. This is Chris Hedges’s calling for cancel culture collective punishment at its worst — in the name of fighting cancel culture. The hypocrisy is makes one dizzy.

      2.) Note how Chris completely avoids telling us what HE thinks of David Icke’s reactionary politics — he doesn’t present them. And then also avoids even mentioning Walker’s (so unfortunate) ongoing support for Icke, lending her powerful voice, helping to fund a farcical “documentary” film created to promote Icke and push his Qanon level ideas into the public as much as possible. This is yellow journalism at its worst. It’s hard to imagine a more clear example of rank hypocrisy. But this doesn’t bother Chris Hedges: he started with the last line calling for the erasure of the Berkeley Book Festival and then worked backwards, abandoning the principles and standards of reporting and analysis he constantly calls on others to adhere to. We can see the headline for this piece of Hedges’s call for cancel/erasure/censorship published on the same top screen of ScheerPost as Hedge’s other piece entitled “American Comissars” where he decries…..the cancel/erasure/censorship of other views, in this case those critical of mainstream media.

      The hypocrisy doesn’t end, this call for erasure is on the ScheerPost where the venerable Bob Scheer just recently interviewed Michael Brenner who correctly decries…..the cancel/erasure/censorship of other views, in this case those critical of mainstream media. Mr. Scheer, and every other progressive editor, should call on Chris Hedges to fill in his deliberate omission in this article with a new writing that examines and tears apart the racist, anti-science reactionary politics of David Icke, and include a denunciation of Alice Walker’s unfortunate active support over several years now.

      Chris Hedges own up to violating his own purist ideals — don’t hold your breath.

      1. It’s the Bay Area Book Festival, not the Berkeley Book Festival.

        The following is for all the readers & bloggers here in order to dispel this ridiculous BS, not necessarily for squirrels, who is just a troll on this site (Chris Hedges is one of the main writers here, but squirrels doesn’t like him and just comes here to insult and complain about him, classic troll behavior).

        It must be really difficult if you can’t think clearly or logically. Boycotting an event or business is not at all the same as canceling them, regardless of the reason for the boycott. Alice Walker got canceled; the book festival did not, nor did Hedges ask that it be. A boycott is a mere protest, not a removal of something like canceling it would be. So there is no hypocrisy here, just illogical and very likely dishonest BS used by squirrels in a lame attempt to make their point.

        Most of the trolls here who complain about Chris Hedges demand that he write about something THEY want, like squirrels did here. Here’s an idea: if you want your subject written about, YOU go ahead and write about it. Writers have under no ethical, moral, or journalistic duty to write about what you want to read. If you want to read about a certain subject and don’t want to or can’t write about it yourself, read someone who writes about it. These complaints are really annoying and totally without merit.

  15. Buried in Hedges’ lengthy broken record screed, where he once again blames the world’s woes – this time censorship – on the Israel lobby, Bay Area Book Festival founder and director Cherilyn Parsons defends her decision to cancel Alice Walker’s appearance. According to Ms. Parsons, this person Alice Walker endorses as a “brave” “truth” teller believes “Jewish people bankrolled Hitler, caused the 2008 global financial crisis, (and) staged the 9/11 terrorist attacks.”

    Hedges response: No guilt by association. Icke is just another renowned author like Joseph Heller, Norman Mailer, or D. H. Lawrence. Give me a break. The only reason most people have even heard of this nut is because he’s apparently a renowned bigot, who like Hedges, seems to have a fondness for convenient scapegoats.

    Walker’s response to the festival director is even more bizarre. According to Walker, this rocket scientist who blames Jews for everything from Hitler to 9/11 to the 2008 financial crash is: “brave enough to ask the questions others fear to ask, and to speak his own understanding of the truth wherever it might lead.”

    Would you want an idiot who thinks Icke is some sort of courageous hero speaking the truth on your stage?

    Canceling Walker’s appearance may not have been the brightest thing to do, but scheduling her to appear in the first place was even dumber.

  16. The Bay Area Book Festival organizers, in their statement, based their exclusion of Ms Walker upon her support and identification with David Icke, someone to be classed with QAnon given his psychotic conspiracies. I have been a great admirer of Chris Hedges since I first discovered his work over 10 years ago. I am astonished to see him effectively condoning Icke’s madness in the course of his support for Ms Walker, especially after all his exposure of the false religions prevalent in the U.S.

    1. @John Ralph
      It’s sad to see that even someone who purports to like Chris Hedges can’t think logically about this. Hedges NEVER condoned Icke. For the millionth time, Icke is not the issue here. Censorship and guilt by association are the issues. I’ve never heard of Icke before this and have no intention of looking into him, but he and his ideologies are irrelevant to this discussion, despite people wrongly trying to make him the issue. You either support or oppose censorship and guilt by association, that’s the issue. It doesn’t matter whether the third party here is Icke or the Dali Lama or anyone else, the third party is not the issue.

  17. So, what else is news?!
    The following is a letter published in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, April 20th 2022 and forwarded to the organization, gush-shalom.org (peace-block); Israeli citizens protesting against the tyrannical maltreatment of Palestinian Arabs, by the Israeli government, ever since the establishment, in 1948, of the institutional State of Israel, in historical Palestine:
    By Neta Golan / translated from Haaretz, April 20, 2022
    I was supposed to be arrested, but I’m Jewish.
    On Palestinian prisoner day, April 17, I was supposed to be arrested in a demonstration against administrative detentions held in front of the Shin bet offices in Tel Aviv. Nevertheless, I am writing these lines from my home, because I am Jewish. The police fenced off the demonstration, and I was never a woman who liked fences. The purpose of the demonstration is to be heard, to be seen, to disturb. Time and time again I crossed the fence, lay down on the road, and the policemen who were there pushed me, pulled and shouted. And time and time again they returned me to the area they designated for the demonstration. Had they checked my ID they would have seen that not only did I disobey their instructions, but there is also a court issued arrest warrant against me.
    About two months ago, I refused to appear in court after an indictment was filed against me for activities against the siege of Gaza, so the judge issued an arrest warrant against me. I came to the demonstration thinking that I would probably be arrested and knowing that if that happened, I would continue to refuse to cooperate with the court.
    I was not arrested, but Rami Salman, a student at Tel Aviv University, was. Like us, he also demonstrated. Unlike me he did not try to block the road, but the slogans he yelled were in an Arabic accent. He was already on his way home when the cops jumped him. Since he was arrested very violently, of course he was accused of assaulting a police officer. Fortunately, the entire arrest and demonstration was recorded in a video, which was brought to court. Rami was released on bail of a thousand shekels and was banned from participating in demonstrations for 14 days.
    There is only one explanation for Rami’s arrest, while my friends and I, who blocked the road, were not arrested: he is an Arab and therefore, by his very existence, he poses a threat. I, on the other hand, even when I interfere with the regime to the best of my ability, am still merely exercising my democratic right in the “Jewish democracy.” Since the beginning of Ramadan this month, the Israeli police have arrested hundreds of Palestinians in Jerusalem, many of them long “preventive detentions.” This is in contrast to the isolated and brief arrests, which can be counted on the fingers of one hand, of Jewish temple activists, whose ability to agitate and create an escalation is well known.
    The demonstration in which Rami was arrested took place as part of “Israeli Apartheid Week” and against the policy of administrative detention. Against the fact that Palestinians are being arrested for being Palestinians, against a reality in which Palestinian journalists, students and activists are being held in prisons for long months, without trial, without access to evidence allegedly collected against them, without any restriction on the length of their detention. Without protection and without justice. And here the demonstration itself proved its point: being a Palestinian is a sufficient reason for arrest. After all, two million Palestinians have been imprisoned for 15 years in the besieged Gaza Strip, including about one million girls and boys under the age of 15, who were born and have lived all their lives under siege and under constant threat of deadly violence. They are imprisoned their entire lives (simply) because they were not born to a Jewish mother.
    Note: (In a self-professed ‘democratic’ state; if this is not outright religious bigotry, then what is? Besides, a state proclaiming to be a Jewish state is, in fact, a theocracy – of which the high priests are its always fanatical government. An overtly religiously intolerant government, reigning hierarchically, from the top down, cannot both be a democratic, and a Jewish state, wherein there is no separation between religious claims and governance. How much more transparently straightforward can the truth be stated?)
    I am one of about 130 citizens of Israel who have declared their intention to stop cooperating with the Israeli system of discrimination and segregation. Instead, we pledge to use the exclusive privileges granted to us by virtue of being of Jewish descent, in order to draw attention to the struggle for equality and justice conducted by Palestinians, from which those rights are deprived. Since the beginning of the year, Palestinians held in administrative detention have been boycotting military courts and refusing to appear before them in protest of their arbitrary detention. They are protesting the fact that military courts serve as a rubber stamp for illegal arrests, which lack even the slightest semblance of a fair trial.
    My friends and I have pledged that as long as their strike continues, we too will refuse to cooperate with the Israeli courts. In cases where the regime will arrest us or initiate proceedings against us following our opposition to the Israeli occupation and apartheid, we will not appear for discussions, we will not agree to representation, and we will not represent ourselves, even if as a result we are thrown in prison.
    But we are not the story here. By refusing to cooperate with the justice system we are trying to expose the blatant injustice in which we live. The racist system of policing, trial and incarceration. The separation between blood and blood. The apartheid. We refuse to cooperate with this system, so that you will hear about the arrest of the student who was arrested on his way home; so you can hear about Amal Nahleh, a boy who was abducted from his parents’ house at night, and hundreds of other detainees without rights.
    Authors Note: The author is active in a group Israelis against apartheid and lives in Nablus with her husband, daughters and cat.

  18. Very confused by both this awful article and many of the comments. Ask yourselves honestly: if another writer publicly praised David Duke, endorsed his writings, and insisted he wasn’t a racist, would everyone be lining up to defend them and arguing that they shouldn’t be held accountable for who they align themselves with? I personally don’t think Walker should be “cancelled”, but to make this all about Antizionism and Israeli policies when it clearly isn’t and then to call her “the best among us” despite her repeated and unapologetic flirtations with Antisemitism is downright appalling.

    1. Very well said. The denial and what about ism is disgusting. I can’t figure out how people can try and frame her blatent contempt for Jews as simply defending palestine.

      1. @Tara & Joey
        What you people don’t get is that this isn’t about what Alice Walker’s opinions or that of Icke are. It’s about censorship and the horrible cancel culture that’s been created over the past 5-10 years. Cancelling the appearance of a very well-liked author — or of anyone, really — because she supports a point of view that you don’t like is disgusting. If you don’t like what Walker writes, says, or feels about a certain issue, than confront her about it. Censoring people never fixes these problems — Germany tried to censor and cancel the Nazi Party, how did that work out? — in addition to the fact that the ones who will ultimately be canceled and censored are those who oppose the establishment.

        Fred Hampton made an alliance with white supremacists because he realized that their problems had the same root causes. For that, Hampton was assassinated by the FBI and Chicago cops. This shows that talking to people with whom you disagree on some issues in order to form alliances against the establishment is the effective way to behave. Canceling and/or censoring them is the opposite of this, and for multiple reasons is not the right thing to do.

  19. I have a nagging suspicion that Mr. Hedges indignation and defense of freedom of speech is very selective and applies only against “cancellation” of people sharing his opinions.
    Can anybody prove me wrong and give examples of CH condemning disinvitation or censure of people like Roland Fryer, Ilya Shapiro, Dorian Abbot or Israeli mainstream (i.e. anti BDS) speakers ?

  20. I like Icke! Or not. Whatever grabs you and gets you going. Just so long as you remain up in arms about anything and everything and nothing rather than take up arms against your Demokracy, Inc. This cancel culture conflict, like most of the wars of the new abnormal, appears more relevant to distracting us from, if not reinforcing premises of, the surveillance state coming at us than illuminating it. Coming from the professional press which has been making a routine of cranking out coincidence theory of isolated incidents uprooted from systemic agenda makes it all the more likely. (Personally, I think interdimensional green lizards on the dark side of the moon are plotting to colonize the earth. I saw it on the X-Files. The truth is out there.)

  21. According to the organizers own statement they do not believe Walker is anti-Semitic, so they have canceled her based on guilt by association with someone who has been called anti-Semitic. These are morons whose own words discredit them.

  22. The institutional and long term advocates of this type of American and global cancel culture have struck again! No one has stopped this particular form of support for White Power, colonization and racism due to it’s inherent brutality and revenge seeking for those who call it out. It has proven so successful that now cancel culture has created a new “ministry of truth” in America to attack our right of freedom of speech. The same propagandists are involved of course. Is it already too late for truth?

  23. Follow the money, follow the hasbara, follow the weapons of mass dellusion, and then, we get why the “free press” or in this case, book store, cancels, and cancels. Half-mast that Jewish Albright’s perversions, and alas, rah-rah the Comic Boy, old rabbi playing ZioLensky. Any attempt to support Operation Z will see you called a traitor and anti-Jew.

    I was just at a rinky dink blues festival here on the Oregon Coast. One of my memoir writing class students paraded his wife over to me, and her visiting daughter (from San Antonio). The wife was talking about why those former slaves, all those Blacks, have this affinity for that religion, Christianity. Puzzled by that alliance and set of beliefs. But, alas, then, the daughter (number one in her class, law school, UT-Austin) has “converted” to Judaism as her husband is Jewish and they want the kids to be converts too. Not sure what that’s about, except, maybe, joining an exclusive club, you know.

    When I pointed out that in many cases the Black Church is different from the White Church in USA, and I also pointed out the in apartheid “Israel,” there are many (mostly) racists, and not just citizens or politicians, but rabbis. Making sure to illustrate Torah and Talmud teachings about goyim meant for exploitation, enslavement, usury, and, well, death. I attempted to point this out to the Number One in Her Law School Class, but she resisted, saying that’s not what her rabbi believes. Alas, then, you get what you take, so, the “entire” religion, hmm, branded by that hate?

    I doubt the haters on this chat circle jerk really know anything about Alice or cancel culture. It was happening to me when I was in high school, 1971-75. Was anti-military, anti-Pledge of Allegience, anti-cut-your-hair-for-wrestling coach. For socialism, for public utilities to be nationalized, for US military equipment used to plant crops in the South. You know, typical 14 year old radical stuff.

    Cancelled? I had knives pulled on me, had my motorcycle torched, and I was threatened with thuggery. Shit-dog, you get the picture. I can cite Gilad Atzmon, The Wandering Who, and then, alas, I get cancelled from publishing on Counter (sic) Punch (slap).

    Shit-dog, you think as a college teacher (former) I’d make it down the hallway using Gilad’s interviews and writings to get my critical thinking classes going? Right!

    Here, pathetic Wikipedia:

    Atzmon has defined himself variously as “not a Jew anymore. I indeed despise the Jew in me (whatever is left)”, a “proud self-hating Jew” in the style of Otto Weininger, “a Jew who hates Judaism”, and as “a Hebrew-speaking Palestinian”.

    He has said: “I don’t write about politics, I write about ethics. I write about Identity. I write a lot about the Jewish Question – because I was born in the Jew-land, and my whole process in maturing into an adult was involved with the realisation that my people are living on stolen land”. Atzmon has said that his experience in the military of “my people destroying other people left a big scar” and led to his decision that he was deluded about Zionism.

    Atzmon has compared “the Jewish Ideology” to that of the Nazis and has described Israel’s policy toward the Palestinians as genocide. He has condemned “Jewishness” as “very much a supremacist, racist tendency”, but has also stated that “I don’t have anything against Jews in particular and you won’t find that in my writings”. Regarding the one-state solution, Atzmon concedes that such a state probably would be controlled by Islamists, but says, “That’s their business”

    1. @Paul+Haeder
      “Atzmon has compared ‘the Jewish Ideology’ to that of the Nazis …”

      Abused people become abusers. European Jews should have gotten a part of Germany if they wanted their own country.

      Don’t know what “the Jewish Ideology” is, and I don’t think it makes sense to overly generalize like that. For my family & friends growing up in Chicago, being Jewish was a cultural thing of mainly food (lox & bagels for brunch at grandma’s & grandpa’s on Sunday) and political attitudes of being anti-war, anti-racist, and generally anti-establishment. We were not religious; my grandfather worked on Saturday, we ate bacon, and we didn’t go to synagogue, for example.

      That said, the Palestinian issue was never discussed, and my guess is that my family and friends didn’t even know that it existed. I only learned about this issue because my brother, and some friends and I, mostly Jewish BTW, befriended some Arabic people who turned out to be Jordanian Palestinians who were PLO (this was in the 1970s). After hearing their side of the story, I immediately became virulently anti-Israel.

      My point is that overly generalizing about Jews or “Jewish ideology” is inaccurate and leads to antisemitism. There are religious Jews, non-religious Jews, pro-Zionist Jews, anti-Zionist Jews, rich Jews, middle class Jews, poor Jews, etc. You can’t lump all of us into one group and make statements like that about us without being wrong about large numbers of us and causing undue animosity toward us.

  24. AmaZING, the capos looking for anti-Semites. Must be a few just hovering around Scheer Report to do their little dirty magic with mendacity.

    Walker is amazing — And, darn, those boycotts and those cancelations. The Star of David is not the world’s icon!

    Bio —

    Walker met Martin Luther King Jr. when she was a student at Spelman College in the early 1960s. She credits King for her decision to return to the American South as an activist in the Civil Rights Movement. She took part in the 1963 March on Washington.

    On March 8, 2003 — International Women’s Day — on the eve of the Iraq War, Walker was arrested, along with 26 others, including fellow authors Maxine Hong Kingston and Terry Tempest Williams, at a protest outside the White House, for crossing a police line during an anti-war rally. Walker wrote about the experience in her essay “We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For.”

    In 1965, Walker met Melvyn Rosenman Leventhal, a Jewish civil rights lawyer. They were married on March 17, 1967, in New York City. Later that year, the couple relocated to Jackson, Mississippi, becoming the first legally married interracial couple in Mississippi.T hey had a daughter, Rebecca, and divorced in 1976.

    In the mid-1990s, Walker was involved in a romance with singer-songwriter Tracy Chapman, saying: “It was delicious and lovely and wonderful and I totally enjoyed it, and I was completely in love with her, but it was not anybody’s business but ours.”

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