Born August 15, 1953, Margaret Power is an Associate Professor of History at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. She teaches the course “Gender in Latin American History,” which “explores how ideas and practices of gender intersect with and affect race, politics, economics, and culture and vice versa.” Power co-edited the text Right-Wing Women: From Conservatives to Extremists around the World, in which she writes, “…we feel that feminist projects will benefit from understanding right-wing women precisely because in many cases they constitute major obstacles to feminism.” She also authored the book Right-Wing Women in Chile: Feminine Power and the Struggle Against Allende.
Professor Power asserts that blacks and Latinos in the United States are routinely attacked by racist police officers, and that American women live in perpetual fear of being assaulted in their own homes by their misogynist husbands.
In her article “Fear and Gender: Thoughts on Building an Anti-War Movement,” Power claims that the everyday transgressions of white American males dwarf those of the 9/11 al Qaeda terrorists, whose complicity in the attacks of that day she questions: “[T]he crimes committed against them/us [minorities, homosexuals, and women], usually by white men, far exceed those carried out by whoever attacked the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. (And, by the way, I am one of those who believe that evidence is needed to be presented to prove that one is guilty. Call me old fashioned!)”
Power is a member of the Prairie Fire Organizing Committee, an entity that upholds the “right of people to take up armed struggle against colonialism for the liberation of oppressed peoples”; impugns America’s “capitalist system that favors a select few and oppresses the majority”; and condemns America’s “imperialism” which has “has plundered the resources and weakened the national identities and cultures of nations around the world.”
Active in the anti-war movement since the 1970s, Power has demonstrated against the Vietnam War, U.S. military involvement in Central America, and the current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. In 2006 she was elected Co-Chairman of Historians Against the War (HAW).
“[A]s historians and as educators,” Powers writes, “we believe we have the particular responsibility and opportunity to educate ourselves and our students about the historical background and current context of [the Iraq] war.” Toward this end, she exhorts her colleagues to recruit students to attend protests in opposition to the “illegal U.S. war,” and to encourage mass civil disobedience.
In 2004 Power contributed to a HAW pamphlet titled Torture, American Style, wherein she wrote: “The torture of Iraqis, like the abuse of the prisoners in Guantanamo and Vietnam, or the slaves in the U.S. south was a logical, if immoral, extension of U.S. state policy. The U.S. government invaded Iraq, as it had invaded Vietnam and Afghanistan, and as slaveholders had enslaved Africans. Those who were and are the victims of occupation — either of their nations or their bodies — resisted, just as the Iraqis continue to resist. In order to crush opposition, U.S. government policymakers and citizens alike employed torture in an effort to destroy the spirit of resistance and make the people’s defeat seem inevitable.”
At a February 2006 HAW conference titled “Empire, Resistance, and the War in Iraq,” Power called for a National Day of Teach-Ins to be held during the Fall semester of that year, to educate students about the allegedly immoral nature of the conflict; she deemed “absurd” the idea that historians and scholars should “stay removed from the political currents that swirl around us, ensconced in some ivory tower.” “Our voice matters,” she said, “and we have been far too silent.”
At Power’s urging, HAW in fact organized a series of “Iraq War Teach-Ins” scheduled for the period immediately preceding the mid-term elections in November 2006. At these events, students were encouraged to to read Torture, American Style and to watch the Michael Moore film Fahrenheit 911.