Social justice activists at Duke and UNC are still active, but over the last few months I think they've been too silent on some issues, allowing the right to appeal to the public without any counterarguments.
At Duke last fall anti-Palestine Solidarity Movement letters and op-eds in the Herald-Sun were not answered or were answered late in the lead up to the PSM Conference. Organizers might have felt that it is pointless to debate ideological Zionists and conservatives, which might be true. But what about people who would read the articles and not have time or motivation to look for the truth? For example, one letter or article made it sound like participants at a past PSM Conference chanted "Kill the Jews." I was told that it did not happen but it was never denied in the Paper and it is hard to find information online.
Now with Israel's false withdrawal from the occupied Gaza Strip there are pro-Israel letters to the editor in the Herald-Sun and two more anti-PSM op-eds. The letters were sparked by a letter on Israel divestment by churches in NC. Of course the editors and the media in general are hyping the Gaza withdrawal (although the previous editors were not openly against the PSM Conference at Duke I think). The op-eds portray the PSM as supporting terrorists and the International Solidarity Movement (Rachel Corrie and Brian Avery belonged to this group) as being itself terrorist. The movement doesn't need this libel, since Americans are probably generally pro-Zionist and anti-Arab to begin with, because of ignorance. I know it was summer vacation, but I know some participants are around, and I did my part in writing a letter on the Gaza ruse. If Duke activists have been writing to the editors they should say so, so we can know that the editors go that far to support Zionism and Israel.
UNC-Chapel Hill had its annual Fallfest street fair welcoming students to the University Sunday night, 9pm-2am. During Fallfest part of South Road (Highway 54) is closed on Campus near the Student Union. Student groups table, local restaurants have vending stands, there is music, and a climbing wall, break dancing, etc. at Fallfest. This time there were so many small George Bush signs, at at least three tables - signs such as "W is for Women" and something about farmers. I don't remember so many signs being there last August before the national election and there weren't any Democratic Party signs this time (the Young Democrats were tabling though).
I was diappointed that Student Action with Workers didn't table - it will hurt recruiting. I can't believe such a larger group could evaporate over the summer and I think it still exists. Boiling Point magazine tabled - except it did so under a big sign for the conservative Campus Crusade for Christ. A relatively new fair trade group (started last fall) was tabling - and using sex appeal in some shoutouts I think. The GLBTSA was there I heard. Did I miss Campaign to End the Cycle of Violence, UNC's anti-war group?! I know they have plans for the fall, yet I did not see them tbling. I could easily have missed them though. It seemed more conservative than before and I saw at least one new conservative group tabling. Like last year I was alienated by how the University is changing from how it was when I was a student in 2004. I also saw a guy wearing a bright red t-shirt emblazoned with a big hammer-and-sickle, but I'm sure it was like a Che Guevara shirt rather than being supportive of socialism. It's nice to see the emblem, but it was politically pointless for us. We'll see what happens at UNC this fall.
The Alliance ML interest meetings will be Thursday, September 8th from 7-9pm at Internationalist Books (405 W. Franklin Street, Chapel Hill) and Monday, September 12th at the same time at the Southwest Library (I think its address is 3605 Shannon Road - it is near the old South Square; see www.durhamcountylibrary.org to check the address). The meetings will be about the group and our part in the DSM investigation/impeachment campaign. Members of other Marxist groups are welcome and I'm thinking of organizing an event this fall to encourage inter-group communication.
A blog, downingstreetactionnc.blogspot.com, has been created for DSM discussion and campaign planning. It is provisional since there haven't been any comments there yet to make it grassroots.
In a way I'm overly optimistic and advantaged, but things seem to be looking up in a way. For example, unions are growing in the state, Cindy Sheehan is pressuring Bush, and the public is turning more and more against Bush and the Iraq War. This is at the cost of thousands of American soldiers and others though, who were sent into an war of aggression and are now being hurt by Iraqis rightfully resisting foreign occupation.