Dana L. Cloud earned a Ph.D. in rhetorical studies from the University of Iowa in 1992, and she has taught in the University of Texas-Austin's Department of Communication Studies ever since. Her specialties include social movements, gender and communication, rhetorical criticism, public sphere theory, Marxist theory, and feminist theory. Cloud herself is a Marxist and a member of the International Socialist Organization, a Leninist vanguard that considers itself part of the Fourth Communist International.
In the wake of 9/11, Cloud was quick to blame U.S. foreign policies for having provoked the al Qaeda attacks. On September 12, 2001, she wrote that while it was clearly “despicable” for the Islamic hijackers to have targeted American civilians, it was “worth pointing out that the United States military has, in recent years, been the most effective and constant killer of civilians around the world.” Some examples: “The 1991 Persian Gulf War left more than two hundred thousand civilians dead,” and the “ongoing economic sanctions in Iraq have killed more than 1.5 million more, including hundreds of thousands of children.”
Cloud urged Americans to be introspective when trying to asertain the causes of the 9/11 attacks: “Why would someone target the U.S.? Why would people feel so desperate that they would want to kill themselves and innocent civilians in these kinds of attacks? We need to address these questions if we are to prevent the kind of devastation that happened yesterday from happening ever again.”
“Many Americans don’t stop to think,” Cloud added, “about why Palestinians and others in the Middle East have cause to be extremely angry with the United States for its support of Israel in its decades-long campaign of terror against Palestinian civilians.” Yet another transgression that played a major role in “intensifying Arab anger at the United States,” she explained, was “the U.S.’s refusal to participate in the U.N. World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa.” As JewishVirtualLibrary.org reports, the Conference cited by Professor Cloud was replete with “hateful anti-Jewish rhetoric and anti-Israel political agendas, prompting both Israel and the United States to withdraw their delegations.”
Cloud further condemned “the hasty and predictable attempt to blame the [9/11] attacks on Osama bin Laden and his supporters.” She also warned that “the scapegoating of Arabs ... can only result in an upsurge in irrational anti-Arab sentiment and violence.” “Likewise,” she added, “I fear the curtailing of our civil liberties in the wake of this crisis. Already we are hearing about tightening airport security.”
Professor Cloud’s antipathy for the United States is further reflected in her disdain for the Pledge of Allegiance. “It seems very strange,” she said in July 2002, “to pledge loyalty to a scrap of cloth representing a corrupt nation.” Thus Cloud decided to write a new Pledge—not to America, but in honor of people worldwide who have been victimized by American greed, exploitation, and aggression:
“I pledge allegiance to all the ordinary people around the world, to the laid off Enron workers and the WorldCom workers, the maquiladora workers and the sweatshop workers from New York to Indonesia, who labor not under God but under the heel of multinational corporations; I pledge allegiance to the people of Iraq, Palestine and Afghanistan, and to their struggles to survive and resist slavery to corporate greed, brutal wars against their families, and the economic and environmental ruin wrought by global capitalism. I pledge allegiance to building a better world where human needs are met and with real liberty, equality and justice for all.”
In May 2007 Cloud proudly defended the free-speech rights of University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill, who had recently come under fierce criticism because of an essay he had written suggesting that the 9/11 attacks were understandable reprisals for American malefaction. Cloud depicted Churchill as a victim of “right-wing culture warriors who have set their sights on critical, progressive, and radical faculty on campuses across the United States.”
In 2012 Cloud became involved with the Online University of the Left, a Marxist educational project initiated by the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism and headed by Carl Davidson.
In the aftermath of a November 2014 grand jury decision not to indict a white police officer who had recently shot and killed a black teeenager named Michael Brown in a highly publicized Ferguson, Missouri incident, Cloud depicted the U.S. as a nation where “there is a racism problem in policing”; where “historical and systemic” factors “have conditioned the possibilities of life for every Black person alive today”; where “there is an enormous wealth gap that can be attributed to race”; and where a state of “permanent discrimination” exists “against Black people.” “Riots,” Cloud wrote, “... have historically been effective at prompting change” because of their ability to “focus mass public attention on social problems when more measured responses have not.”
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