Daily Archives: November 13, 2008

Prop 8 and Racism

Its really disturbing how the media echo chamber can produce talking points that end up in people’s speech without ever having to reference the original report.

Case in point, the recent racist meme about black voters in California somehow bearing responsibility for the passage of Prop 8. The morning of November 5th I heard what would be the first in a series of arguments and counter arguments stating this case. 

“Barack Obama mobilized black voters, who are heavily homophobic so Prop 8 won!”

There is so much wrapped up in that statement, and so much already written dissecting this (here, here, here, here and here) that I don’t have a prayer of effectively treading the same territory.  

What I do want to do is watch the way the racist meme is picked up cynically by the right. Seriously, listen to Tony Perkins in this video, he pulls it up at least twice. First with a reference to Black Churches, and then referencing Latinos. They are watching. Divide and conquer.

PS: Dan Savage has been far from perfect in this debate.

PS II: This has hardly been the first crypto-racist meme around the elections.

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Beyond Accountability

 

this is what democracy looks like

this is what democracy looks like

 

 

I believe one of the biggest traps for left movement building is an obsession with the accountability of politicians. 

I hear it coming up in left-moderate discussions about Obama, particularly between far left activists and democratic voters. It seems as if we have semi-consciously chosen accountability as the best angle to get progressives to stick to their guns in the coming years, to not fall prey to the guise that all is well now that we have democrat in power.

Further, it assumes that the left or left leaning people are responsible for his getting elected. While this may be partly true, I don’t think we should give ourselves too much credit. For instance all the mainstream press seems to have been pushing the swing voter thesis, as they do most every election, as well as focusing on the skill the Obama team had delivering its message and forging new coalitions.

All of this is a little vague, and I’m not trying to totally prove or disprove any demographic numbers or polling data. What I wish to do, is to problematize accountability as a tactic or strategy.

Firstly, what are we holding him accountable to? His standards or our own? His standards aren’t all that great, those of his advisors, appointed and rumored, aren’t all that hot either. As I questioned before, do we have the power yet to have him accountable to us?

Now, for most of the radical movement, our goals transcend merely holding presidents accountable. Our challenge I think is this: how do we articulate our ideas, dreams, and goals beyond accountability? How do we integrate accountability as a tactic in larger strategies for further radicalization of the populace, while keeping our intent on something grander and more complex?

Working Title: Yupre Manifesto, for a complete and open revolt

know thyself

canvasser, know thyself, defend thyself

For a little while I have been mulling over the rights of social change workers and our ability to demand not only a better world for ourselves and others, but a better political economic organization of social change work. By social change work, I mean primarily work for NGO’s and Schools, commonly facilitated by an array of student work opportunities, internships, and arrangements such as Americorps and Teach for America.

I have also, been attempting to find way to make a living doing such work, in preschools and NGO’s, that can feed me and not make me feel like a jerk. Out of these feelings and many conversations comes this manifesto.

An early, albeit tongue in cheek, analysis of the situation can be found here.

I want to invite input, please critique or add to this, or create your own. I would like to form a nationwide working group to solidify strategies. Let me know.

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Quote of the Day

Peter Schiff, president of Euro Pacific Capital, said the retail numbers were evidence that America’s years-long spending bender had ended. He said the bankruptcy filing of Circuit City, which remains operating, helped to signal a permanent shift in the service economy and said other companies would fail before the economic crisis abated.

“The old expression, ‘Shop till you drop’ — we did it,” he said.

nytimes

The Press, Political Process, and Boredom

I’ve said for a little while that the worst thing radical politics can do for itself is be fucking boring (for an example see Subterranean Fire by Sharon Smith by my heroes at Haymarket Books).

I want to use boredom as a pivot point to discuss the role that the press takes in modern political dialogue. This is grounded in my experiences in the direct action campaigns at the Port of Olympia and my summer working as the press coordinator for the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign. Actually, it is more grounded in watching and reading news reports on those actions (and similar ones surrounding the flailing economy).

Shit is boring. 

It’s definitely not boring.

More than render a false picture of what happens on the ground journalists regularly delete action and emotion from their reportage. Its news as your 8th grade history class.

What is starting to frustrate me now is the way the left hangs on every little word of the week’s and days events, commenting on every new development in Obama’s transition staff, every piece of data on the economic crisis. Perhaps its just me and my little view from the internet, but it seems like much of the american radical community rather than formulating larger critiques and strategies to move us forward, is endlessly gnawing all the juice out of each of these bits, AS IF WE TRUST THESE FUCKERS IN THE FIRST PLACE.

The utter banality of day to day critique of the ruling class sure as hell keeps a lot of bloggers busy, and writers paid, but does not do much to move us. As such I would like to see America radical journalism radically reconfigured and put to a truly productive use.