IN THIS WEEK’S News With Nezua, I touch on Mexican president Felipe Calderón’s latest move of cutting off half a million peoples’ power (and thus their wells and water) due to the municipality being delinquent on bills. This story winds down deep into the fabric of Mexican politics and power struggles.
Pobre México is fighting to stay solvent, as the economic downturn of course, has a passport, and crosses the border all day, both ways. And with FeCal at the helm, well. His idea of change was an onslaught of failed drug war (an estimated 16,500 corpses stacked up at FeCal’s door now) that the USA is still helping to fund via the Mérida Initiative that Bush brokered. Ugh.
Pobre México. Tan lejos de dios, y tan cerca de los Estados Unidos.
Here is, at first glance, a fleeting fragment of news from October, wherein FeCal opted not to close Luz y Fuerza, México’s second-largest power utility.
“Mexico decided it won’t create a new state power company to replace Luz y Fuerza del Centro, the Energy Ministry said. … President Felipe Calderon ordered on Oct. 11 the liquidation of Luz y Fuerza, the nation’s second-largest power supplier, firing more than 40,000 electricity workers. The decree was because the company’s finances were “unsustainable” amid mounting losses, he said.”
The thing is, in the US when we read news in English language on typical US news sites (like above) we almost always get FeCal’s desired spin, or I should say the government’s point of view only. And FeCal and his crew are not El Voz de la Gente, bleeve that.
Note that in this article, it claims FeCal was going to close Luz y Fuerza for rather dry reasons. “Unsustainable” and all that. Sure. Just fire FORTY THOUSAND WORKERS, another day in the life, move along. There’s more to this story, have no doubt.
If you have been following Mexican news at all, FeCal (a not so nice name for Felipe Calderón) was—to oversimplify a bit, as I am here overall—their George W. Bush. In fact, Felipe Calderón stole the presidential election with the help of some of the same players who helped Bush. I know all this should have links, but if you go to El Grito (I’m running around this morning, have errands, tiny break in video production schedule) and search for these people and you will find it all. Many hours spent on those stories back then.
Manuel Lopez Obradór was running as (and I do think he is far more of this camp than FeCal) Mister Downtrodden, Mister Para la Gente. Mister Left. While FeCal was and is Mister “Let’s Be Like the USA,” working with the Bush admin. He is Mister “Let’s Do All They Want Us To, Let’s Militarize This Joint, Let’s Wiretap, Let’s Bring on a Drug War.” And of course, that’s why he was given the presidency, and why the US GOP GOV would surely cheer it on. (Although Obama is fully committed to funding Mérida, even past its expiration date which really, really, really angers me with his adminstration.)
It’s unfortunate to me that the US is so very in the dark on all Mexico’s politics…because truth is, we better know this stuff. It’s all affecting us, all the time. And the relationship between the US and MX has so much history. And the media and governments actually use the language barrier and the apathy that dwells north of the Rio Bravo to the advantage of the elites and to the people’s detriment.
Anyway. I hope to help bridge this gap a tiny bit myself, and my plans are to become far more effective at it in time. It will take time, and it will take many of us. For now, I can offer you the bare outline of some of these shapes, and if you like you can research and find out more.
Mexican Electrical Workers Union members protest the summary firing of 44,000 members. Photo: La Jornada
There’s history and politics, of course, behind what is going on with the power plants in Mexico. And in general, North and South of the border, you and I need to keep an eye on the plight of workers and the unions. That (and the media) is where the people’s power lies. And that’s where oppressive power cracks down hard. (Peep the body count that journalism produces in war zones.)
Things aren’t as cut and dry with the Luz y Fuerza story as bloomberg.com would have you believe. As one could learn in the Narcosphere:
In the middle of the night last Saturday, President Felipe Calderon sent six thousand soldiers and militarized Federal Police to take over state power company Luz y Fuerza installations in Mexico City and the states of Mexico, Puebla, Morelos, and Hidalgo. Immediately following the takeover, Calderon issued an executive order closing Luz y Fuerza. Because no law or decree can go into effect until it is published in the federal government’s Official Diary of the Federation, the government published the executive order in a special edition of the Official Diary of the Federation to coincide with the military and police raids that closed Luz y Fuerza.
Federal Police occupy a Luz y Fuerza building. Photo: La Jornada
Mexican legal experts have criticized Calderon’s action as illegal, unconstitutional, and “an excessive and abusive use of power” because he by-passed Congress when he decided to close Luz y Fuerza and deploy the military and police against workers.
The government’s official justification for closing Luz y Fuerza is that the company’s operating expenses exceed those of other state-owned companies. It claims its use of the military and militarized federal police was a pre-emptive strike: it wanted to prevent workers from striking, taking control of the facilities, and cutting off power in protest of the closing of Luz y Fuerza. However, a week prior to the police and military takeover, the union specifically stated in a press release that it had no intentions of striking nor cutting off power to electricity customers.
Jose Hernandez, a leader of the Mexican Union of Electricity workers (SME)
As little as I know about Mexican politics and media, once you find one spot of corruption, you will find more. And they all magically seem to connect the more you read. Even these recent events, and the arc of Mexican right wing politics since FeCal stole the office.
…[I]n Mexico, we have an ultra-right national government. Formally its considered Christian democratic, but its lead by the extreme right group, el Yunque. This group is anti-communist and well linked to the right wing groups of the Catholic Church. They’re committed to the privatisation of the energy sector, of electricity and oil and last year they wanted to pass reforms to privatise the oil, but they didn’t achieve it because of a large national mobilisation.”
“These mobilisations were lead by Manuel Obrador, who’s a leader of the PRD (Revolutionary Democratic Party) and from the most nationalist and progressive section of this party. He also ran in the 2006 elections, in which all most all studies say there was fraud. Calderon won by 0.56%. Despite large mobilisations we couldn’t overturn the fraud.”
“So this right wing government aims to deepen what they call the structural reforms, reform the work law to allow for flexibility of the working day, for unstable work, for sub-contracted labour, and the biggest obstacle to be able to pass these reforms is the SME.”
—Jose Hernandez, a leader of the Mexican Union of Electricity workers (SME)
The Mexican Union of Electricity Workers (SME) is almost 100 years old, known for being very independent of the MX government, and democratic in nature. This is a rarity in México, as most unions are corrupt and inextricably linked with the government. SME won the right to retirement for workers in 1936 through strikes, which was a huge strengthening of the working class. And most importantly, SME works out of Luz y Fuerza. As we can see, like Lopez Obradór, SME is aligned with the People, and not with Big Business or Iron-Fisted Gobierno, and thus is an enemy to the FeCal administration.
And so Felipe Calderón and his forces have been doing all they can to destroy Luz y Fuerza, and take down SME with it. But this predates even FeCal, and is a long running motion recognizable in many nations, when the richest and most powerful suck upon the necks of the poorest and most vulnerable.
“The government has been trying to destroy the SME for 20 years, they’ve been investing in the CFE, in modernising it, and not in Luces y Fuerzas. So now Luces y Fuerzas seems like an inefficient company and its equipment is ancient and it needs a lot of maintenance to work. The government effectively took away its ability to generate electricity, and now it’s buying 98% of it its electricity from CFE.”
“And the government designed a system of accounting to make it seem like Luces y Fuerzas was going bankrupt.” …
And of course, this isn’t just about electricity, though the power utilities are surely a massive force to control. The government of Mexico is looking ahead. This is yet one more strike against the people—and we are mostly talking the indigenous in México, the poor, because this won’t hurt most of the expats or the ones cashing in—and a strike for the illusion that Mexico can become a “first world country” if it just keeps erecting hotels, strengthening the military, and crushing the poor.
“Another reason why the government wants to privatise Luces y Fuerzas and destroy our union is because of the possibility of further profit. With the new technology the power lines and cables can also be used to transmit images, voice, and information- that is, television, internet and phone. It’s a bigger business than electricity. The union has proposed that Luces y Fuerzas provide those services, without any concessions to private companies, which is what the government wants.”
“It shows the irrationality of capitalism, these things could be provided free to society, but they want to privatise it all to make money.”
So you see, it wasn’t just that the Mexican President decided, oh, that finances weren’t quite working out so they laid off a few people. This isn’t about a steward of the nation making wise decisions about safeguarding the People’s interest, no not at all! This is about greed, corporate and state hunger, and the People’s needs aren’t even in the picture.
Police occupy Luz Y Fuerza. Photo: El Pais
And that’s why it’s so important to keep our eyes on the unions and the strikes and the workers.
“The first thing we did in response was to mobilise; on 16 October there were nearly 500,000 people; unionists from various unions, students, Obrador’s movement, farmers- that is, the people mobilised, and despite the huge media campaign attacking the SME, saying we are corrupt, we’re lazy.”
“And in the legal terrain, we’ve been fighting as well, seeking legal protection before the actions of the government.”
And that’s one thing Mexicanos sure are good at. Standing up for their rights. Let’s hope they prevail, because for such injustices to sweep down and grab la gente by the neck and so close to us and without our help is a failure of activism and people power. If borders did not wall off humanity to sections of our brain, the People would have all the rights and powers that would help the world thrive. I’ll type that one more time because it’s so important.
If we did not use “the border” concept to separate in our imagination who is a friend, who is an enemy, who is “US” who is “THEM,” who is a resource, and who is in need, there would be no state power or army that could continue to make us toil and die for the continued power and wealth of the very few who are on top of this global pyramid.
It begins in the mind. Those who would rail against migration, against natural flow of river and human, who would deprive fellow humans of healing and medicine when they need it, who would insist on fences and walls and guns and prisons for those ousted by economic needs…when it is those very pieces of machinery that we are being penned into suffering with…today’s “immigration restrictionists” are members or affiliates of hate, they are distracted, they are simply tools of the same forces who delight in having us at each others’ necks while we are all exploited and robbed.
[For those new to the Unapologetic Mexican Blog (UMX), The Weekly Diaspora is a (paid) article I write for The Media Consortium. It is a column that runs on a few other sites, as well. (To be linked at end of post.)]
By Nezua, Media Consortium Blogger
Ed. Note: This week’s Diaspora is short because of the holidays. We’ll be back to full-length next week.
Last Tuesday, Amy Traub dismantled a few harmful myths about immigrants for The Nation. Traub takes on the old ‘immigrants steal our jobs’ myth, saying it “holds no water.” Immigrants of both documented and undocumented status help the economy, and their energy and efforts create jobs that would not exist without their participation. Traub makes a crucial connection clear: Immigrants are a boon to the economy, and “U.S. natives gain $37 billion a year from immigrants’ participation” in the U.S. workforce.
In AlterNet, Timothy Noah outlines the cost of denying immigrants health insurance, dubbing the overall effect a “Nativist Tax.” If we begin restricting the access immigrants have to health care, why not bar them from other parts of society? Why not bar them from the hospital altogether? Why not prevent them from buying milk at the corner store? It’s the beginning of what could be a bad chain reaction.
Katherine Vargas describes her own naturalization ceremony for the Progressive. It’s a good read. Vargas writes that citizenship is not, to her, only about apple pie and baseball, or even the paper we call a passport. To Vargas, citizenship is the ability and right to participate in the political process and take part in the history of the country.
New America Media covered the “Phone Call Heard Around the Country,” a nationwide teleconference on the approaching year and immigration reform. “Tens of thousands” of callers were connected, and on the call—which turned telephones on speakerphone into “de-facto radios” around which so many gathered—legislators urged listeners to “call their members of Congress and ask for action on immigration reform.”
Finally, for some light fare, Wiretap Mag features a “humorous—albeit problematic—parody” of the immigration issue.
I understand why Wiretap deems it problematic. The cartoon tries to create a perfect parallel between the conquest and decimation of the North American indigenous population in the 1600s by Europeans with today’s economically displaced immigrants (who are, themselves, often indigenous, or descended from the indigenous). In this way, it uses the words of the cartoon “Indians” to argue against their own kind. The cartoon is probably quite useful, however, in opening dialogue with younger people on the topic.
The Weekly Diaspora wishes you and yours a satisfying holiday season, whether you are fasting or feasting. May you be safe and with loved ones.
The turkeys piled into supermarket freezers carry their own stories. Raised primarily in massive confinement buildings by low-paid growers under contract to corporate food giants, they are genetically designed for plentiful breast meat to grace our Thanksgiving platters. They are then trucked to a processing plant, where they meet their demise.
Reflecting the racial structure of the nation’s entire food system, turkey processing relies largely on the hard labor of low-wage workers of color. On plant floors across the country, a predominantly black, Latino and Asian work force kills, guts, cleans, processes and packages the Thanksgiving centerpiece along fast-moving production lines.
Injuries are commonplace. Thousands of individual repetitive motions every shift raise the probability of chronic pain for line workers.
Federal safety inspectors are spread thin, and when they do arrive it is not unusual for supervisors to silence workers. At a recent meeting of Somali immigrants with an Occupational Safety and Health Administration representative, workers were shocked to learn that they had the right to speak when an inspector came to their workplace.
Every day of the year, and especially on Thanksgiving, no one in this country eats without the labor of immigrants, refugees and other workers of color. This is not a new reality.
THIS VIDEO of children reenacting Thanksgiving is pretty funny. And reminds me of early quandaries I found myself in while playing “Cowboy and Indians.”
Thanksgiving. As I wrote last year, it is a holiday that is split, in my own mind and being. Of course I remember and cherish all the times various parts of my family came together on this day and ate, drank, and recounted family stories, looked at old photos, laughed, and got full on delicious food. But like many of our holidays, the truth (the blood) has been wiped clean from this glossy card (only $2.99!) and in its place raised a cluster of days upon which we shop, spend money, send cards, and often, if that’s all—forego a chance to learn lessons from the world’s past.
I don’t want anyone to stop enjoying themselves on any day of their life. I heartily cheer on one more day where people can gather, share love, share food and drink and laughter. In that sense, I’m quite the Tolkienite. Though some choose to fast, which I respect as a means of mourning lost opportunities to connect, and lost lives, and lost culture.
We know the results of forgetting important lessons and replacing them with feel-good fable. I think I cannot improve on last year’s words:
Thanksgiving is the earliest fable given to us along the path of mental indoctrination that allows the USA to continue its method. Some say now a great change has come upon us and we may have to shift the way we do things. Global powers now, no sole hyperpower, diminished American might, changing demographics. We’ll see. …
Nonetheless, the path is in place and it is a path that begins with commercially-crafted tales designed to distract us from the USA’s long-running methodologies of exceptionalism and crusade and in place of that, offer us patriotic pablum; saccharine feelgood fakery that suffocates entire peoples and their struggles. Ultimately, who benefits from these fables and the lessons they instill? Who benefits from the invasion of Iraq? From the mercenary armies we have there and are now launching into many nations and onto ocean vessels? From our military bases that multiply like virus? Who are the myths of Thanksgiving designed to benefit? What are the truths they are meant to obscure?
AS THE UNITED STATES prepares to send tens of thousands more young men and women into the “Grave of Empires,” as Afghanistan has long been called, the violence wrought by war begins to infect the human and global state. Can we file the tragic and violent rampage that Major Nadal Malik Hasan exploded into under “Jihad,” and be done? Should we attribute his breakdown as “PTSD” and let it go? Or would we learn more as a People if we heed his despair, his oft-articulated anguish at watching the nation he fights for bring ruin on a people whose faith and lineage he shares? Does this make a larger statement about the US and her wars of imperialism that we might heed? Can the United States can go forward in peace, or will she carve herself into tiny pieces by assuming the military desires of the Pentagon are the shared goals of every person?
—opened fire through a window, according to Walton County sheriff’s deputies.
Racine Libia Balbontin-Argandona, 22, and Nicholas Pablo Corp-Torres, 23, died at the scene.
Sebastian Mauricio Arizaga-Suarez, 27, was shot in the back; Francisco Javier Cofre-Fernandez, 25, was shot in the side of the face; and David Alonzo Bilbao-Meza, whose age is unknown, was shot in the arm.
Baker returned to his home after the shootings and surrendered hours later.
The three injured students have returned to Chile.
A man named Robert Rivera, who attended the hearing this last thursday on behalf of Francisco Javier Cofre-Fernandez, had a much closer seat from which he could ascertain Baker’s motives and told the press that Dannie Baker thought—
he was “protecting America from the hoards of illegal aliens,” Rivera said. He added that “the level of hatred toward liberals, Obama and migrant workers is getting out of hand.”
Baker was “driven by hate and racism and a simpleton mind who’s been listening to hate radio,”
Dannie Baker is not being tried, after all, though for charges of—
—two counts of pre-meditated, first-degree murder, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, three counts of attempted first-degree murder with a firearm and shooting into an occupied dwelling.
Dannie Baker was transferred from prison to—
The Historic and Plush Chattahoochie State Hospital
—“fits the criteria for placement at Florida State Hospital.”
which in this case involved his performance in—
—a “battery of psychological tests,” and interviews to determine whether he was able to relate facts of the case to his attorney; whether he understood the nature of the proceedings; and whether he understood the penalties he could receive if he were found guilty.
And what about the Dangerous Immigrants?
They all were in the United States on a work-travel program.
And how were they feeling about the USA?
The five students, four men and a woman, had been eating in their host’s home and discussing job opportunities in Destin.
And now? The three left alive have—
—returned to Chile.
So I suppose Dannie Baker was successful! He drove away the immigrants who might have brought…prosperity. New energy. Fresh minds. Hopeful youth.
Well, at least a statement can stand now in public record about those who feed on anti-immigrant energy in such a way. One more case tying Right wing media to social chaos and violence can be collected and understood as part of a truth in this terrible area of hate messaging through media and the potential effects upon human beings.
Right? This is part of the record, right? Because every article about the killings is suspiciously lacking on that angle, on what the eyewitnesses informed us was behind the deed.
Neither Assistant State Attorney Bobby Elmore nor Dannie Baker’s public defender, Lenny Platteborze,would speculate on a motive or discuss in detail what evidence was found in Baker’s town home after he gave up. Elmore said there “was some evidence gathered in the search of his home that might lead us to some belief as to why it happened.”
So were it not for the woman on the scene who spoke to a reporter (Crystal Lynn), and were it not for one person who attended the hearing (Robert Rivera), the entire nation would have no idea as to why this man went on a murder spree.
In this case, as far as the world’s lessons stand, some madman pumped rounds into some people (who happened to be specifically targeted as Latinos), in public, though for no discussed motive, and might stand trial later. Meanwhile, he resides at a state hospital where charges will be dropped if after five years he is not deemed competent to stand trial (though they could be refiled at that point.)
Dig the distinctions: I’m not here to drool over and cheer on violence against twisted humans like Baker. Fine, let him stay on meds and in a cozy hospital situation. Prison is a hell and it’s easy to start wishing hell on people, but sooner or later your aim is wrong and then you are part of the entire problem. Causing him (further) suffering is not at all what this post is about, nor is it my need or desire.
But aren’t all our systems purportedly in place to help people? And to rectify wrongs? And to better our society and learn and evolve from where we have been?
How do we do that if we hide the truth of how we got here?
When our society treats a blatant hate crime like this, hiding its actuality as well as the fact that such sentiment
provided daily by sickos like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh (and until lately)Lou Dobbs and well-funded by institutions like Rupert Murdoch and blasted out into millions of TVs nationwide
that’s what I call a giant murder machine in motion, and aimed at one part of the population. Sorry if it riles ya. It is dramatically said. And it’s not pretty. But it’s true. And it is fed every day by me and you.
Grab at the plug and pull! Then, we wipe the flaky flurry of dust off the lens. And we—
—keep building a stronger, truer messaging machine.
That’s over ten supporters of immigration reform for every anti-immigrant “tea partier.”
Nevertheless, William Gheen, president of ALIPAC, is convinced the silent majority is on his side:
The Obama administration and the US Congress need to cease and desist advocacy for any form of Amnesty legislation, since any path to citizenship for illegals is opposed by over 78% of Americans…
Yeah….okay. A note on the infamous William Gheen and his lunacy-steeped stats. Gheen is hardly credible in any single area of his work, and his extremist views on immigration are rejected even by Dick Armey (known as the founder of the Tea Parties more or less) who says:
Anti-immigration has always been ironic, because throughout our history newcomers have been a source of strength, not weakness. America still attracts the world’s best talent. And surely that is no liability. Think of it. We can avail ourselves of much of the world’s intellectual wealth simply by opening our doors.
Even Jim Gilchrist, jerkoff in his own right and founder of the Minutemen, an anti-immigrant group, nails Gheen for what he is. An opportunist who is contributing to violence with his constant demonization and “defaming propaganda” of immigrants and the immigration issue:
After several disappointing experiences with William Gheen (ALIPAC), Gheen’s affiliate Brook Young (Immigration Watchdog), and Jeff Schwilk (San Diego Minutemen), I can honestly say that none of these persons should be involved in the immigration law enforcement issue. These organizations, and a few others, in my opinion, routinely engage in repulsive, defaming propaganda, or present themselves in a very physically hostile manner tantamount to racist groups like the KKK ….
William Gheen, I firmly believe, has no interest whatsoever in encouraging the enforcement of U.S. immigration laws. ALIPAC is a fund raising company whose goal is to raise money off the latest frenzied trend…in this case, the immigration chaos. If there was more money to be made by supporting the pro-illegal alien invasion lobbyists, then he would probably be on that side of the argument…let the country be damned.
Wednesday mornings I will post the videos here and at The XOLAGRAFIK Theater and at YouTube (which will automatically feed the URLs to Twitter, Facebook, etc). At that point, the embed button will be visible and anyone is free to grab them and embed them (and my gratitude to all those who do!).
Sunday to Tuesday evening, however, NWN vids will be available exclusively at La Frontera Times. Like right now! So check it out. This week’s video is on the Fort Hood shootings and then thoughts that spin out from there. What does it mean to be a member of a multicultural nation that acts out violence and wars of Imperialism on other nations? What kind of conflict might this cause within? What does all of this say about the future of the United States of America?
I’m sorry I don’t have a transcript. If anyone wants to earn a few dolares writing up regular transcripts for the videos, contact me at nwn–AT–nezua–DOT–net.
THE POLITICAL WORLD IS A WHIRL OF CHAOS. And change. And resistance to currents of change. It smells like thunderstorm.
When I was a young teen living in upstate new york and surrounded by wilderness on my parent’s land (we were caretakers of the property, of many properties, always moving, never owning), I would walk through the fields of overgrown grass, parting the slender stalks, moving toward storms that rolled through the valley. Slowly and with quickened pulse, I’d wade forward into thickening electricity, despite any warnings dully rising in my mind (Never walk into the fields during a lightning storm!)
Feeling spectacularly small and alive under the churning violet, blackening sky-soup. Platinum and cast-iron etched moments…I can see and smell and hear them still: trees moaning and bending as the wind blows harder. Layers of sodden clouds leaking, and then fully unleashing distress onto our cornfields. Rain smacking down on my forehead…I’d squint but not turn back. Swollen streams bordered the cornfields, full with the water now. Glinting platinum corners flaring into the sky.
Moving toward this chaotic beauty, I felt I was walking to meet with God. Mother nature uncloaked and untamed for a dangerous and delightful moment: roused, angry, splitting sky and spitting throaty growls that shook the earth all about me.
These moments fraught with danger tore away my typical caul of youthful indifference—itself a guarded spiritual defense against the ennui and hostility and pettiness of the everyday society I found all around me. Nature is risen. Watching lightning spear and splinter the dusk. And neither of us is pretending tonight…let us shatter this pretense that settles around us like plaster-cast sunny-weather dream state.
These dangerous storms I was warned against felt like magic in the middle of the day. Yes, like a threat. But also like a New Cleansing opportunity. Like reality.
Erika said it a couple weeks ago. Talking about that chaos “when the classroom bells break.” And why did we love that as children? Because we weren’t excited by what was going on, breathing too much dust, sensing the futility and inanity in so many of our schooltime activities. The non-reality and ineffectiveness and irrelevance of so much of what was going on, and what we knew would go on from period to period to period from September until June. Parents tell themselves it is all so useful. And children know how to behave and do what they are told. Perhaps not to all, but to many of us the unspoken, not-needed to be spoken was that the years predicted of our schooling ahead was a sentence, a spell of years from which there would be no escape. And class room bells breaking were like little summer mornings dropped down like depth charges into the solidity of an oppressive schedule.
In terms of the political and volatile world today, I actually am excited by what’s happening. I’m not happy about the danger and the threat, of course—not happy about the harm that will directly come about, that is playing out. But I am happy to see the gross wrongs that so many have accepted as bedrock reality now being exposed and challenged in a large, or vocal way. We have the chance finally for some real conversations on higher, more visible layers of society than where they normally flourish.
There are a few things in place in the world (that will undoubtedly be with us as long as we have a world) that have angered me since I was young. But…beyond “angered.” Certain realities that play out in people and in relationships and in the world. When I began to see, as a young teen, that there was inequality and exploitation and greed and emptiness and mostly bullshit&hypocrisy ALL about me…it was very confusing. I didn’t understand why people wanted a world that way. It was Wrong. Why did it go on? Why did nobody care enough to stop these things? Why did I want to grow “up” and “into” this world where adults tried to tell me That This is Just The Way Things Are ????
Did you have a time like this? Where you told it was a phase of your adolescence? Was it? Is it?
I suppose one could look back now and say I was in an Existential Adolescent Phase. We label things and think we are done with them, though. I shrink back from that tendency, always have. I can call a gun a “feroxa” and it can still kill someone. I can call a “seed” a “protein sheath/husk protecting the genetic material within” but it can still grow when I shove it in soil. No matter what we label my thoughts at that time, in this language, in the framing of our culture—I was seeing something real. I was seeing injustice, and I was seeing the excusing of that injustice, and I was seeing hypocrisy. And it hurt my heart.
Honestly, I had given up on many things. Sometimes giving up on something (however you define this) is a very healthy thing.
But now…this BlackPrez dynamic has shifted things about. Obviously, Obama is in a very hard place. Simply for Presidenting While Black, his life is in danger. Imagine if he tried to be half as radical as his fearful opposers pretend? They’d have to recall half the troops just to guard him.
But aside from the systemic resistance to his changing anything, he is of course not very radical-minded. It’sjust not part of his (apparent) makeup. Obama is a huge cultural shift and it’s important and no way do I regret my vote. But I have to admit that while he physically represents a massive change, that does not mean he can enact lots of radical changes. Just what he has done is a lot. Even simply Presidenting While Black is shaking the foundations of this nation, and threats against him have risen like 400% and the USSS agents are being told to work longer, and that no more men are available to protect the POTUS from what I’ve read online. So in all reality, what more could he do? I mean, yes. He could do it anyway. He’d go down a hero. Instead of an icon used in the name of Imperialist war and a nation with massively institutionally entrenched racism. But that, too, is perhaps a bit harsh and cannot hope to contain all that he is, has done, and means to us. When the wind is whipping your eyes, it can be hard to make out the horizon.
This storm is unfolding as it will, and we are yet to see how it will end. The electricity feels threatening at times and it is. But here is a chance, now, finally to talk about the things we need to talk about. Which means the chance to make real change.
It is not just The Reality of Obama forcing these discussions. Such as the class divide always justified in this nation. Or the rich ruling class. The for-profit health racket. Racism. Wars of imperialism. The prison-industrial complex. It is all these things, and the feeling that they all approach to become an integrated part of the political dialogue. And this is due to so many things, just as a storm is a confluence of different temperatures and winds and factors which influence how hard or how long the rain falls. One part is the Reality of Obama, one part is how reporting and national dialogue is being taken back by the People, from institutions and unreliable liaisons and mouthpieces.
And it is the blatant non-representation we see that we have in these bought politicians. They continue to take money from all interests at their own danger, and at the peril of the nation’s wholeness. Because if the Left AND the Right feel you are bought and not representing the People…who is left to have your back? And vote for you? And believe in the system? Continue to take payola in place of doing your true work, and you bring on destruction of integrity, writ large. So as you go, so goes the nation. But these politicians are used to being able to get away with fakeness and hypocrisy and paid favors. Do they realize times have changed?
Now the conversations are no longer restricted to bitter rants on a street corner, or in huddles on the stairs of the college library or in loud, smoky parties or cloistered areas of the Nets, but on the main stage. And the proliferation of New Media does help in that it bridges these “small” conversations and the “big” ones in the MSM.
The major voices on the media will do its utmost to nurture and host those conversations honestly or doom us a possible step up in societal evolution. Yet I think there is no way around having them, and these conversations will separate the dying from the living, the lost from the struggling upward.
It makes me very interested in politics right now. Real conversations are coming to the fore, ones I’ve longed to have for over…25 years.
What will be left standing when the storm passes? Will the sun shine down upon our happy faces, or upon a quiet, razed countryside…peaceful, but empty?
I think this is up to us. But I wonder how many know we are making the decision every day….
[For those new to the Unapologetic Mexican Blog (UMX), The Weekly Diaspora is a (paid) article I write for The Media Consortium. It is a column that runs on a few other sites, as well. (Linked at end of post.)]
First it was immigrants from Mexico, now Muslims in the armed services. After the tragic shootings at Fort Hood, conservative pundits are verbally attacking Muslims and Arab-Americans, much like they have vilified the immigrant community. The complexities of Islamic faith are being glossed over and “Muslim Terrorist” is stamped upon any act of violence involving their community. As a result, nuanced voices are buried in favor of suspicion and violence.
Dr. Riad Z Abdelkarim loves and serves this country, but is lumped in with alleged and actual enemies of the state due to his faith. In an article for The Progressive, Abdelkarim writes about his sense of anger and betrayal over the Fort Hood massacre. He is angry that the perpetrator of such harm is an American and as a doctor. He feels betrayed because the killer practices Islam, which is a beautiful and inspiring faith to Dr. Abdelkarim. “The Fort Hood murders are a huge setback” to the progress that Arab-Americans and American Muslims have made to clear the “guilt by association” that has affected their communities since 9/11, writes Abdelkarim.
The Real News Network also thoughtfully examines the aftermath of Fort Hood. Host Riz Khan gives background on shooter Nidal Malik Hasan and explores the effects of the Fort Hood shooting. Kahn asks “If a Muslim commits a serious crime in America, is that crime seen as that much more deadly?”
The violent culture that many U.S. citizens attribute to Islam and Arab-Americans criminalizes everyday people. For example, a bit of Arabic script led to a frenzied media reaction when Texas border guards found “ski jacket with three unusual patches” in Hebbronville, Texas in 2005. The patches were irresponsibly described as “terrorist garb” by “right wing media,” according to the Texas Observer. “One [patch] featured a lion’s head, a parachute and Arabic script, another an airplane flying toward a tower and the words ‘Midnight Mission.’ The third patch read ‘Daiwa.'”
It all made for a “fine story,” as Melissa Del Bosque writes. But the results were not so dramatic. “Daiwa” is an ad for a “popular fishing company,” the Arabic is the symbol of a “defunct air brigade in Syria” that was in fact “anti-Islamist,” and the jacket more than likely bought at one of the “pulgas” (flea markets) located closer to the border. It is fortunate that the voices trying to connect Al Qaeda and Mexicans were not successful.
In RaceWire, Debiyani Kar reports on the Obama administration’s latest announcements that immigration reform would come in 2010. Kar cuts to the heart of the issue, reminding us that “it is time to pause and make the connection again between (im)migration and globalization.” If our nation is truly interested in addressing the roots of the problem, rather than passing sweeping reform every decade, we have to address this issue. Meanwhile, Kar also reminds us that migrants “are not waiting for legal reforms to take control of their economic futures,” and wield their own economic power.
A liberal activist who goes by the handle of “Robert Erickson” subverted an anti-immigration rally in St. Paul, Minnesota, as the Minnesota Independent reports. Erickson called for sealing up the borders and sending “these people back where they came from” while the crowd of 50-60 people cheered along. Then Erickson revealed that he was actually calling for the removal of European immigrants, who are “responsible for the most violent and heinous crimes in the history of the world!” (Video here.)
The fallout from Lou Dobbs’ severance with CNN continues. Dobbs was an integral part of the CNN news team since 1980. Roberto Lovato, reporting for The Nation, called Dobb’s abrupt departure the “fast and fiery demise of a media titan.” Lovato discusses Dobbs’ career arc and departure from CNN. He also underlines the scope of the immigrant movement and “the centrality of spirituality to social change.”
These are reminders we need when engaging struggle! Spirituality, love and laughter keep us refreshed and strong for those times we must engage injustice or oppression. And we can’t show a dinosaur like Dobbs the door without commentary from two of the most celebrated pundits on the circuit today, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. Both comedians’ segments on Dobbs are featured at Talking Points Memo in an article by Ben Craw.
For some more humor, let’s return to The Nation. Alana Levinson comments on Saturday Night Live’s rendition of Lou Dobbs’ last live speech, in which a parodied Dobbs said he wouldn’t rest until all people have the opportunity to sell fruit on the roadside, “not just the Latinos.” When compared to rants about disease and criminal Mexicans, comedic responses to Dobbs’ departure are a positive contribution.
ELECTRONIC CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE and BANG labs brings us the latest in Electronic Disturbance Theater and artpixel poetix in the shape of the new Transborder Immigrant Tool. While some US denizens concern themselves with fences, walls, and shrug off deaths in the desert as “their own fault” or some other loathesome croaking of inhumanity and ignorance, rebel artists and tech entrepreneurs are painting crystal cathedrals of resistance and poetry that illuminate the earthy corridors leading toward tomorrow. The Transborder Immigrant Tool is a demonstration of heart-hackery that uses simple tools to create an app that helps people wandering in the desert find the safest routes and thus, survival.
Associate Professor, tech genius and personal friend of Subcomandante Marcos of the EZLN, Ricardo Dominguez gives us the gritty:
We looked at the Motorola i455 cell phone, which is under $30, available even cheaper on eBay, and includes a free GPS applet. We were able to crack it and create a simple compasslike navigation system. We were also able to add other information, like where to find water left by the Border Angels, where to find Quaker help centers that will wrap your feet, how far you are from the highway—things to make the application really benefit individuals who are crossing the border.
How exactly does it do this, and why is that so important right now?
The primary goal of the Transborder Immigrant Tool is to increase safety during border crossing by directing heavy-footed immigrants to safe routes, shelter, food, water, and friendly sympathizers. With the recent surge in militia membership and the Obama administration’s announcement that they will be reducing the number of Border Patrol agents next year, it looks like we’re getting ready to witness a showdown for the ages.
And how did Dominguez arrive at this point?
In the 80s I was a member of something called the Critical Art Ensemble. We wrote a series of books published in the 90s that speculated on what the future, and computers especially, might bring. Our core speculations were that we would see the emergence of three different arcs of capitalism in the 90s: digital capitalism, genetic capitalism or clone capitalism, and particle capitalism or nano-driven technology. We decided we would speculate not only on the artistic aspect of these emerging capitalisms but also on how we could intervene as artist-activists into each of these areas. We developed the idea of electronic civil disobedience as a way to mediate the emergence of digital capitalism.
But do the Minuteman types know about this fierce and intelligent vato and his work?
One of the first things we did at BANG Lab was to interfere with the Minuteman Project in 2005. They were quite angry because not only were we committing public actions against them, but Calit2 and the UCSD system were also supporting it. They’re well aware of who we are and what we do. Once they get full knowledge of the Transborder Immigrant Tool—and we’re very transparent about it—I’m sure they’ll be quite critical. … but again we’re not trying to hide. It’s a safety tool. It’s not trying to resolve the political anxieties of these communities or resolve the inadequacies of a fictional border for a so-called free-trade community. Again, our position is that it’s not a political resolution; it’s a safety tool.