Friday, January 16, 2015

Cyclical catastrophe?

Timing and Catastrophe

First, I feel compelled to make some remarks regarding the Charlie Hebdo situation. Although I was as shocked and appalled as anyone that twelve magazine staffers were killed by revenge-seeking Muslims, I would rather wish the millions in the streets would have been mobilized to support the Assange, Snowden, or Manning whistle blowers. Where was the media or popular support for free speech for them? All this mobilization and energy to support this “satirical” rag that was vulgar and disgusting at best? It seems rather contrived, and will undoubtedly be used to disarm and surveill the citizenry even more. You can bet it's not going to lead to more freedom for anything.

Don't get me wrong. I despise much about the Muslim religion. Even on it's best day, the religion is feudalistic, tyrannical, brutal, and hideously misogynistic. I just watched two videos today showing a woman shot in the head in the street by a bunch of police clad murderers in Pakistan. The other one showed a woman getting her head chopped off on a street in Afghanistan. No trials. The women are told to kneel down and submit or they would kill their whole family. I don't have anything against all Muslims. Just the men.

Well, that's not quite right either. I have a friend whom I haven't seen in a long time. She was in my women's drumming circle for several years, and I care a lot for her. She fell in love with a California guy who had converted to Islam. He was a Sufi, and she became one too. They married and have a son. Anyway, the Sufi's are a metaphysical and gentle bunch of folks. I'm pretty sure the Sunnis and Shiites hate them. Whatever. The point is that I know that most people are just people, despite all the different religious allegiances.

But, I do not condone the mistreatment of women on this massive scale. Nigel Farge, of the Independent party in Great Britain, said in parliament recently that thousands of girls have been genitally mutilated in Islamic neighborhoods in Britain under rule of Sharia law. They don't assimilate like the Irish or the Italians or the Germans or the Swedes did when they came to America. When my grandparents came here, they came to become Americans. Muslims seem to immigrate in order to take over. I say “fuck 'em.” Countries should not give up their sovereignty. I like a world with Americans, French, Russian, Belgian, Spanish, Portuguese, et al. And, I don't like being allies with egregious countries like Saudi Arabia, where over a thousand people a year get their hands cut off and you can get a thousand lashes for criticizing Islam. Muslim countries commonly use beheading, amputations, flogging, gouge out eyes and stoning for crimes like adultery, witchcraft, etc. In Saudi Arabia women can't even drive. But,they are our allies. We've sold our souls to the devil due to oil and the petro-dollar.

It is ironic to me that the so-called feminists in this country have been so complicit. Nobody confronts congress on siding with these anti-female miscreants. Instead, what passes for women's liberation is the Huffington Post and the Guardian jamming pictures of semi-naked exhibitionist celebrities in our face all the time. Non-stop portrayal of sex objectification and gossip, worse than could have been imagined at the start of the women's liberation movement. I could gag.

But, I digress. Back to Charlie Hebdo. It is clearly a hate rag. What if they had published cartoons showing blacks hanging from nooses and if they called them “jiggaboos,” or something. What if they were KKKlansmen and they drew cartoons of Jews as pawnbrokers with huge noses and blacks as slaves. And, then, they got killed by Mossad in retaliation. Would we be in the streets defending “free speech”? I think not. I like the Pope's message that to provoke and insult a religion is not a good idea either. Like I said, I'd rather be supporting the whistle blowers.

I think the Dali Lama would advise to “Be Kind.” Stand up for what is right, but be kind along the way. You have to leave a little room for people to change.

What really blew me away this week was a documentary movie called “Caesar Chavez” with Michael Pena and John Malkovich.

We could take some lessons from the United Farm Workers struggle.

It really reminded me of things I had almost forgotten. So many layers to it and so many ways the lessons could be applied today.

It reminded me of how the country was when it still had a conscience. Before years of watching “24” convinced people that torture is justified. And, at least a semi-free press. When reporters covered the struggles for decent wages and working conditions for workers against the objections of the Chambers of Commerce. When it wasn't owned by six global corporations and used to convince us that whatever is good for them is also good for us.

Did you know that Chavez did not support unrestricted immigration? There are all kinds of things that I did not know about Chavez and the struggle to organize the field workers, even though I boycotted and picketed for them myself. I worked with the Retail Clerks, International. We used to do "actions" where we would go into a grocery store like a regular customer, fill the carts up with all sorts of stuff that was hard to put back, rip the plastic off the meat and set it next to the laundry detergent, and all sorts of annoying shit for the stores to get them to stop selling grapes. The carpenters union donated roofing nails, and we would set them up in the parking lot for people who drove through the picket lines. I can still hear the pop of their tires. I don't think we were real aware of how non-violent Chavez was at the time. I'm not sure he would have approved. Oh, well, those were the days...

Another thing I had not realized was how soon after Robert Kennedy's assassination, Reagan came to office, and how seriously he continued his fight against La Raza Unida and all the other unions.

The Democrats dropped the unions (I know, I know how corrupt they were, et al), as well as the working class, and got all corporatized and bought off just like the Republicans. And, now we are bemoaning the "income gap" , the Middle Class is disappearing, congress doesn't even want to give paid sick leave and maternity leave. Only the US and Pappua New Guinea don't have fucking paid maternity leave, for Christ's sake.

The same voices are saying that they can't afford to pay for infrastructure or living wages or medical care that is fair. Of course they can't. They gave it all to Wall Street and the global banks. We just pay the interest on all the money they print for themselves. Even food stamps and social security are on the chopping block. And yet the rich have never been richer, and the wars never more numerous.

It feels much like the 60's, only worse. Now we are all farm workers. But it's Maggies Farm we are working.