Monday, September 14, 2009

Pardon the Interruption


It has been a week of unceremonious interruptions. Joe Wilson, a Republican Senator from South Carolina, shouts "Liar" during *ahem* President Obama's speech. Kanye West jumps up on stage, feeling that Beyonce, the current queen of pop, was (Taylor) Swiftboated. West has been publicly threatened; below is a fair representation of the hatred that people are expressing toward the entertainer. In addition, West was apparently escorted out by security, and his performance was canceled.

I don't really care about West, Swift or Beyonce. They make pop art: super. We need art. But they don't really speak to me, or to the issues that I think artists should be speaking to. But, what I do find interesting is that, what West said is true: Beyonce made one of the best videos of all time, and by extension she deserves the award. I mean, how many different youtube "Single Ladies" versions are there?!

But, at the VMA, decorum reigns over truth.

If only the same values were in place during Obama's health care address to Congress. Joe Wilson, among numerous other elected officials, tried to shout down the elected President of the United States! And nary a response! It was a Presidential Address!


Wilson was not slinging words off the cuff. It was not a misguided spontaneous outburst. It would be foolish to regard Wilson's actions as anything less than calculated.

When we get our jobs in our organization, the first thing you do is you sit down with some of Saul Alinsky’s books, Rules for Radicals. And we read that book and we study that book, and everything that we've been trying to do here comes straight out of those pages.


Those are the words of Adam Brandon, from Dick Armey's "non profit" Freedom Works. They have been organizing the recent "tea parties" and public disruptions, using Alinsky as a guide. Now, many on the left have dismissed these demonstrators as lunatic. The demonstrators may-well be. But they are besides the point. The point being the demonstrations. They have forced a debate, when there should be none. Though they have rejected initiatives, without offering anything, they have garnered public space. They have captured airtime on major networks. And they have elected officials shouting down the President on their behalf.

This is not something
to dismiss this is
not something to debate
This is something to fight

So we will not debate the lunatic who dares dispute the validity, the value of Black and Third World and/or any other human life. Our lives are not debatable....We will continue to struggle for our survival and for the freedom of our children who will survive us by every means we choose to use.
~June Jordan, "On the Occasion of a Clear and Present Danger at Yale (1975)"

There is no logical response to state violence. There is no logical response to state sanctioned hate, so-called "free speech." The only avenue we have is the fight. They disrupt public debate and the state police don't escort them out, then we do. They hold a tea party/hate rally in our town, and the state police don't escort them out, then we do. We have already been brutalized and imprisoned. We have had our families turn against us. This fight is not fair. They get headlines, & we get tazed.

But, to end with another June Jordan interrogation:

Will you assume responsibility for your life, in these many, urgent ways, will you assume responsibility for your life, and my life, and our lives, the lives that are now, and that have always been, endangered and attacked by our enemies operating under deliberately asinine slogans....With all my heart, I hope so.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Standing at the edge, there's nothing to fear because the world is not flat.


(image from Eddie Colla)

My teachers taught me how & when to fight.
And there's no time like the present.
My teachers also taught me how, & when, to love.
And there's no time like the present.
My teachers also taught me to love the fight.
And I do.
And I do.
And I do.

What follows has nothing to do with Van Jones. Nor is it about Barack Obama. I'm not concerned with The One Who Shall Not Be Mentioned.

What follows is about Us. The We. The People. The constituents of this global union who, having been pushed to the edges for so long, are finally there, and together. And we know that the world is not flat, and that this edge is no edge at all, but a gleaming center. A homebase.

We are strong, in love with each other. In our love for each other.

What follows has nothing to do with Van Jones, Barack Obama or any of those outsiders. What follows is about Us.

I witnessed two friends get married this Labor Day weekend. 'B,' a bio-woman baker. 'J,' a tranny electrician. They were "straight married," which is to say that 'J' has successfully completed all the "official" paperwork to have his gender-identity reflect what he has always known. And now, the State will recognize their relationship. A relationship that, without this "official" paperwork the State is openly hostile to.

But this is not about the outsiders. The State and its rules and regulations.

I learned a lot about marriage this weekend. About the convulsive vitality of family. Out here, at homebase, we have been choosing Family. Constantly expanding it outside of the bounds/bonds of blood relations. Always seeking to create new bonds, & strengthen those that already exist.

We need to know who will fight with us, when the time to fight comes.

We need to know who will love with us when the darkness falls. When someone is carted off to prison, or beaten in the street, or beaten in the home.

We need to know that We do not need to apologize for who We are.

We are building who We are.

We, actually, elected a president--a person who we hoped in, with, and for. Most of us understand the mechanics of this corrupt political system. We know limitations, we have been brutalized for pushing its boundaries. Nonetheless, millions of people engaged in serious work, with fervent hope and the best of intentions.

We wanted him to be one of Us.

But he is not. The ouster of Van Jones makes that apparent. Forget about what Jones said or did. Forget about that "Truther" nonsense. Forget about the so-called "political climate" we are supposedly in. This is not about Van Jones. By not standing up for his own decision, and a good decision at that, he shows us exactly where he stands.

He does not stand with Us.

And, after eight years of the Bush doctrine, we're ready to apply some of that same logic, ourselves.

And we know how to fight.

"and I can’t tell you who the hell set things up like this
but I can tell you that from now on my resistance
my simple and daily and nightly self-determination
may very well cost you your life"
~June Jordan