Monday, February 28, 2005

Happy Birthday to Me!

I turned 49 long years old today. Which seems a lot closer to the big 5-0 then 48 seemed. Go figure. Fortunately, most of my fabulous women friends are older than me and rocking on, so I'm fine with the "old" age phenomenon.

An article in Ms. Magazines talks about the "fuck-you fifties" and says:

Thirty- seven million doses of what Margaret Mead named “postmenopausal zest” make quite a potent brew.

We older women still have a lot to do and there's a certain confidence in knowing that younger women are strong activists who not only don't need our guidance, but prefer to make their own plans, thank you very much!

Last Friday night I attended an event at the U of M to support efforts to organize a union for graduate student teachers and research assistants. It reminded me so much of my childhood. After her divorce, my Mom went to graduate school while raising three young children on her own. We were dirt poor and crammed into a tiny two-bedroom apartment. As kids, we didn't realize how bad it was. Although I am damn proud of her for toughing it out through some extremely difficult times, I don't wish that kind of life on anybody else. Going without food, clothing and health care for years at a time has lousy consequences. She took a job after finishing her coursework and before completing her dissertation because she was offered a job and was just "tired of being poor," as she tells it.

There is a culture of academia that makes it very hard to form a union. Even with all the shit my mother put up with, she still never considered herself a "worker. In fact, when I finally dropped out of college to pursue a career in the printing trades, she told me how worried she was. Her reason? She knew I was an extremely intelligent young woman and she couldn't see how I would be able to interact with intelligent people if I entered a skilled trade. Prejudiced? Sure! And wrong. But a telling example of how academics view the outside world as well as their own.

Pinko Feminist Hellcat has appointed her ministers and I am from now until forever the Minister of Ephemera. I love feminist "competition" -- you win by participating! Send your ephemera my way, in c/o Fly By Night, for your official stamp of approval!

Thursday, February 24, 2005


Originally uploaded by Ravenmn.
The problem with the computer age is that Jane Blow now knows just how fast changes can be made to any electronic document. In the past, working with dedicated typesetting, wax and Xacto knives, nobody had the temerity to ask a professional typographer to alter her work of art. Now, the edits and additions roll in on a daily basis. I sure do miss the days when I was the "goddess of typography". Heh.

So here is the latest version of the March 19 antiwar leaflet. One of the humongous churches agreed to host the closing event and that is reason to update the graphics. Feel free to download, copy and distribute.

YFTR. Ravenmn

Another test. This one came via Presurfer

Valley of Depression16
Contentment Meadows161
Please Drive Carefully

Where are you on the highway of life?


This is more true than one might imagine. I've managed to meet some real-life hobos through the bookstore. We collect eyeglasses, socks, gloves and boots for anyone who needs a pair and get visits on occasion. Feels good to know they are only 6 miles away!


President-for-Life Sheelzebub is handing out ministries over at Pinko Feminist Hellcat (PFH). First I want to say that she has come up with some truly great names for herself. There's the name of her blog: Pinko Feminist Hellcat which reminds me of my nickname at a previous haunt. I was referred to as a Pinko Commie Cosmonaut when I suggested that we celebrate the anniversary of Yuri Gregaran's birth. A much appreciated nickname that came in handy over the years!

In addition, PFH refers to herself as Sheelzebub. Righteous cool! I'm going to apply for Minister of Ephemera, since all my graphics seem to be of the short-lived variety.

This also takes me back to my youth as a sportswriter. I always thought one sports legend to be blessed to have lived under two cool names. He began as Lew Alcindor, which has a marvelous rhythm to it, and then changed his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar after converting to Islam. Not bad at all.

Speaking of which, I've done another update of the local flyer which I'll add later tonight. In the spirit of revolutionary plagiarism -- feel free to download anything off my site and use as you wish.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

I've spent the last week trying to catch up on learning about Iran, which may be the next target of U.S. intervention. I'm re-reading "The Eagle and the Lion" -- a book about U.S.-Iran relations between WW1 and the fall of the Shah.

Tonight I went to a talk at Mayday Books. A local Iranian spoke and his words depressed me. This man talked about all the invasions that Iran has repelled over the centuries: Alexander, Ghengis Khan, etc. Yeah, well, eventually, they prevailed. But meanwhile there was death and destruction for many, many years. It reminded me of the talk before the U.S. invaded Iraq. Consequences would be dire. The Iraqi army was powerful, the U.S. would underestimate the response, and so on. And, yes, the U.S. military did not anticipate the response of Iraq correctly. OTOH, hundreds and thousands of Iraqi people died. U.S. soldiers died. And that is not good. No way. No how.

Bah. Humbug. I definitely need a diversion. I'll look for one tomorrow.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

It's been an interesting couple of days on the internet. After hearing about various feminist discussions on the web that went awry, I finally encountered one -- after most of the fur had flown. I'll add links later, but I finally made my comments at the blog of Pinko Feminist Hellcat.

That was also where I found out that Alison Bechdel has a blog. Bechdel is the creator of the comic strip "Dykes to Watch Out For." Also via PFH, here's my results:

"You're most like Mo. Sure, you may be cranky and neurotic, but people actually find this endearing! You're lucky you live in a comic strip. This wouldn't happen nearly as often in real ">

You're most like Mo, the nucleus of the strip. Yes, you're cranky, neurotic, and self-righteous,but women actually find this adorable. You're lucky you live in a comic, though, because this would not happen nearly so often in reality.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

The local paper came out with our article this week. Here is is:

The elections held in Iraq at the end of last month are being hailed by the Bush administration as a vindication of the U.S. military invasion and occupation of Iraq. There are, however, several alternative views of what the Iraqi vote actually means.

A look at mainstream reporting from Iraq over the past two years reveals a fondness for discovering a new “turning point” in the situation in Iraq and the elections were honored with the label this time around.

The first so-called turning point was the capture of Saddam Hussein. This was going to break the back of the insurgency and bring fighting to an end. It did not.

Next we were told that the June 2004 transfer of power to a “sovereign” Iraqi government was “the turning point.” According to this scenario, the insurgency would end once the faces in charge were Iraqi and not American. But it did not end.

Now we’ve been told that the January 2005 elections are the turning point that will stop the insurgency. Once again, the insurgency has continued unabated.

With so many turning points, it’s not surprising that some observers think the U.S. military’s public relations department is spinning in circles. The truth is, each of these “turning points” have been constructed by public relations flacks hoping to garner support for the occupation among U.S. citizens and have never reflected the reality on the ground in Iraq. In fact, for many Iraqis, the elections were a clear refusal of support to continued U.S. occupation of their country.

Writing in the Denver Post on Feb. 3, 2005, Ibrahim Kazerooni wrote:

“Without exception, the Iraqis I talked to inside and outside Iraq saw voting in Sunday’s election as first and foremost a vote for the immediate withdrawal of occupation forces, and second a vote to take control of their day-to-day lives, which have only worsened as a result of the White House’s incompetent mismanagement of Iraq,” wrote Kazerooni, an Iraqi Shiite imam who is currently the director of the Abrahamic Initiative at St. John’s Cathedral in Denver.

“While the Bush administration and the mainstream American media lather themselves in congratulatory self-adulation over the election, let us not forget that it was the threat of full-scale, armed rebellion from Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani and the Shiite community that brought about Sunday’s direct election.”

In fact, Bush’s war planners were dragged kicking and screaming into an agreement to hold the January elections at all. According to an Associated Press news story in early 2004, “Al-Sistani, the country’s most influential Shiite leader, has rejected a U.S. formula for transferring power through a provisional legislature selected by 18 regional caucuses, insisting on direct elections instead.”

“The original White House plan was to appoint a constitutional assembly made up of members selected by U.S.-approved committees in regional districts,” Kazerooni wrote. “Seemingly, we have forgotten the hundreds of thousands of Shiites who protested this plan last year in Baghdad and Basra, chanting, ‘No, no to America! Yes, yes to al-Sistani!’ It was only after the White House realized that al-Sistani and the Shiite community were prepared to follow through on their threat that President Bush grudgingly acquiesced to repeated Shiite demands for early, direct elections.”

“Yet, in the same alternate reality that gave us phantom WMDs, bogus Iraqi ties to September 11 and a war that was supposed to cost only $60 billion, the Bush administration and the mainstream media now would have us believe the election was the exclusive work of George Bush,” he wrote.

An article written by Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies on February 1, 2005 states in part:

“The U.S.-imposed Transitional Administrative Law, imposed by the U.S. occupation, remains the law of the land even with the new election. Amending that law requires super-majorities of the assembly, as well as a unanimous agreement by the presidency council—almost impossible given the range of constituencies that must be satisfied. Chiefs of key control commissions, including Iraq’s Inspector General, the Commission on Public Integrity, the Communication and Media Commission and others, were appointed by [former U.S. proconsul Paul] Bremer with five-year terms, can only be dismissed ‘for cause.’ The Council of Judges, as well as individual judges and prosecutors, were selected, vetted and trained by the United States occupation, and are dominated by long-time U.S.-backed exiles.”

Among the points made by Bennis are:

• George Bush hopes to be the major victor in this election, using it to claim legitimacy for his occupation of Iraq. This election does not mean that the invasion and occupation of Iraq is legitimate — democracy cannot be imposed at the point of a gun.

• U.S. domination of Iraq’s economic, political and social life will continue through the military occupation and the continuing control of money, the legal system and political patronage.

• The U.S. has a long history of using elections held under conditions of war and occupation to legitimize its illegal wars. The January 2005 elections in Iraq mirror the 1967 election held in South Vietnam, which gave credibility for U.S. audiences to Washington’s puppet government in southeast Asia.

Those Iraqis hoping for a swift end to the U.S. occupation of their country will be sadly disappointed.

“The 40,000+ civilian and military ‘advisers,’ including private contractors and U.S. government officials, seconded to Iraq’s ministries and all public institutions will remain powerful; with the new assembly sending new staff to these ministries, the U.S. ‘advisers’ may hold the institutional memory,” Bennis wrote. “The $16 billion of U.S. taxpayer money not spent in the reconstruction effort (the billions paid to Halliburton, Bechtel and others has come almost entirely out of U.S.-appropriated Iraqi funds), as well as the $50 billion-per-year military costs will become a potential slush fund for the new assembly’s favored projects.”

“The U.S.-backed privatization schemes imposed by former U.S. proconsul Paul Bremer remain in place,” Bennis continued. “The current interim finance minister, Adel Abdul Mahdi, touted by the Los Angeles Times as a potential candidate for deputy president or prime minister, recently announced his support for the complete privatization of Iraq’s oil industry.”

The complete privatization of the Iraqi oil industry will open the way for U.S. corporate domination of Iraqi’s oil profits, as well as control over who can purchase Iraqi oil. Clearly, the Bush administration wants an “ownership” society in Iraq that is entirely made up of U.S. owners of Iraqi resources.

Bennis cites an article from The New York Times published Sept. 4, 1967, entitled, “U.S. Encouraged by Vietnam Vote: Officials Cite 83 percent Turnout Despite Vietcong Terror.” That report reads:

“United States officials were surprised and heartened today at the size of turnout in South Vietnam’s presidential election despite a Vietcong terrorist campaign to disrupt the voting. According to reports from Saigon, 83 per cent of the 5.85 million registered voters cast their ballots yesterday. Many of them risked reprisals threatened by the Vietcong. A successful election has long been seen as the keystone in President Johnson’s policy of encouraging the growth of constitutional processes in South Vietnam. The purpose of the voting was to give legitimacy to the Saigon Government.”

One decade’s “keystone” is another decade’s “turning point.”

In the United States there is growing opposition to the U.S. occupation of Iraq. Many antiwar coalitions around the world have called for a weekend of protest to be held March 19 and 20. This will mark the second anniversary of the start of the U.S. military invasion of Iraq. Demonstrations will call for an end to the occupation and to “bring the troops home now!”

Among the coalitions initiating calls for spring protests are the International ANSWER Coalition, Troops Out Now Coalition and United for Peace and Justice.

In Minneapolis, the Iraq Peace Action Coalition will host a protest on Saturday, March 19 under the call of “U.S. Troops Out Now.” The event begins at 1 p.m. in Loring Park near downtown Minneapolis.

Friday, February 18, 2005

women in war

women in war
Originally uploaded by Ravenmn.
I'm a posting fool! Now that I've figured out how to post graphics through flickr, I'm going to get caught up on some of my activities over the last month. This is a flyer I did for WAMM.

This was the first in a monthly series of talks by women about war. The organizers wanted a logo for the series that could be used each month. The images came from various news sites (I googled "women" and "war"). I especially like the woman's hands in front of the tank. I pulled the images off the internet, changed them to greyscale and adjusted the contrast so they fit together in a decent collage. The organizers have already put out a new leaflet for the February event, using the top and bottom of the flyer, but filling in the new information in the middle. The event will feature Nasrin Jewell, an Iranian woman living in the Twin Cities. You can read an article she wrote for the WAMM newsletter here.

Jewell will be speaking Thursday, February 24 at 7 p.m., Foss Center, Augsburg College, 625 22nd Avenue South in Minneapolis.

Although I missed Kathy Kelly's talk, I listened to it on Northern Sun News, Don Olsen's radio show on KFAI. Kelly spoke movingly of the women she has met in war-torn countries. You can learn more about her work at the home page of Voices in the Wilderness.

Latest flyer

Originally uploaded by Ravenmn.
Here is the latest version of the March 19 flyer I worked on a few days ago. It is based on the national flyer put out by the New York office and available here

I'll update the flyer one more time. One of the local churches has agreed to hold the indoor rally. We'll add that location. We might add the speakers to the flyer as well.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

mediagirl award

mediagirl award
Originally uploaded by Ravenmn.
It's my very first blog award. Ah, shucks! Of course, everyone who entered this "contest" was given an award! This is exactly the kind of "competition" I hold dear. Everyone wins!

When I was in junior high, I went to a track meet with my family. My older brothers were competing and Mom and I were there to watch. It was sponsored by the Jaycees or some such organization. There were very few girls in attendance and it was decided that there had to be three or more contestants in each race or event or the organizers would not hold the event. My Mom and another couple of parents convinced me to sign up for any event that had only two people participating. I came completely unprepared to race -- I had cheap sandals and even a skirt, I think. I proceeded to compete in several events and earned a third place ribbon in every event in which I competed! LOLOLOL!

I signed up for Flickr tonight and this is my very first post. Hope it works! Cross your fingers!

Please check out all the Valentine's Day winning posts at:

mediagirl award winners

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

I finished the J.D. Robb book. These always take two days or less to read. It really is the kind of book I read just to fill familiar assumptions, I guess. I asked for and found a reader to whom I will send the book tomorrow. I think I get more pleasure from passing the book on to a friend then I do from reading the book. Weird, but true.

I did another version of the March 19 leaflet today. Also, I helped Ravenhub write an article about the Iraqi elections for the local free newspaper. We do a great job working together. Ravenhub is great at coming up with ideas and concepts and I love adding the bells and whistles to his basic ideas. I am amazed at what a balanced team we can be when we work together.

In wandering around the web the last few days I read a challenge by a feminist blogger to write about Valentine's day from a feminist viewpoint. I'm a bit late at it, but I think I'll give it a try.

When I was a teenager, I spent my summers working shitty jobs. One summer, I worked in the cornfields de-tassling corn. A couple of summers, I worked in a corn canning factory pulling 12-hour shifts. During those long days I spent hours on end constructing elaborate fantasies about my dream life with whatever man was the focus of my current crush. I'm not talking about three or four minute visions about what might be possible. Nope. I constructed entire lifetimes for hours on end. I included career changes, I furnished apartments and houses, I provided children and storylines for years or more.

These elaborate fictions owed as much to my vivid imagination as they did to the phenomenal boredom that comes from stuffing corncobs into slots on an assembly line at a rate of 60 ears per minute or more.

I had read all the love stories. I read Jane Eyre eight or nine times. Wuthering Heights, Little Women and its sequels and Gone with the Wind were read and re-read. Certainly I had a few teen magazines. The romance du jour was "Love Story" -- a movie that had the convenience of ending before our lovers could get bored with each other!

And yet… my daydreams tended to focus on everyday events. Coming home: "I'm home, June!" "In here, Ward!" Discussing the details of the day, sharing stories with my S.O. about my co-workers and their antics.

Even then, I seemed to realize that the highs and lows of intense romance didn't hold a candle to the day-to-day details of two people who were comfortable with each other and enjoyed sharing each other's lives at the end of the day.

I really think that the Great American Novel will not be written until somebody can adequately express the beauty and wonder of true friendship and admiration between two people who have built a long-term relationship on such minor details. To adequately express all the shared knowledge, the sentences that need not be finished -- that would be a true achievement in romantic fiction.

I remember when Ravenhub and I were friends, before the great, scary, leap into romance. We were teasing each other about something -- I can't remember what. I told him:

"I'm behind you 1,000 percent."

He responded, "Thanks, George."

I should have known right then and there that he was the man for me. Unfortunately, I had only read those fake romance books, so it took me longer to realize the truth.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

I've been catching up on my reading. Last week I found and read The Hummingbird Wizard by Meredith Blevins. It was a fun read with a great cast of characters, a bit of romance and mysticism thrown in for spice. The lead character is Annie Szabo, a 40-something widow who has moved to live in the country north of San Francisco. She makes plans to visit an old friend in the city and stumbles into a mystery that lands her smack dab in the middle of her dead husband's crazy family of Gypsies and flimflam artists. The characters and settings are reminiscent of the crazed community found in Stephanie Plum novels. The female characters are written especially feisty and strong. At the heart is a community of people who care about each other no matter who crazy they might be. There is a second book in the series that came out in hardcover last October. I'm asking Ravenhub for a copy for Valentine's Day.

Now I'm reading my favorite trash author: J.D. Robb. She has a new book in the "Eve Dallas" series called "Survivor in Death". I'm surprised I even bought this one because her last book made me believe the author had gotten tired of the characters and was just phoning it in. But, what the h, I bought it anyway. I'm halfway through the book and I'm getting just what I wanted: familiar characters in situations I know will pester them until they overcome them with strength and tenacity in the end!

This morning we went over to the Nobel Peace Prize festival at Augsburg College. It was extremely well-attended -- several hundreds of people who support peace from a religious perspective. I checked out the vendor tables: some activist antiwar groups but also a lot of faith-based initiatives involved in missions to needy areas around the globe. So many people willing to help out. If only we had "invaded" Iraq with all these energetic and hard-working people -- what a different reality we would be looking at today.

This afternoon we stopped by the bookstore and hung out with folks there for awhile. I was asked to write an e-mail to the local activist list to let people know we have nine of Ward Churchill's books in stock. Let readers judge for themselves what the man is saying, rather than hearing everything second hand. I'll send an e-mail out tomorrow.

We ate dinner in Dinkytown as the sun set. There must be a girls' hockey tournament at the University, because the restaurant was full of young women in matching hockey shirts. Now there's a world I would never meet outside of this community!

Back home by 7 pm (what swingers we are) and I checked out the new HBO movie "Lackawana Blues". Another group of characters making up an interesting community with an emphasis on helping each other through trying times. Once again, it is strong women who lead the way. Well, who else?

Friday, February 11, 2005

I'm a White's Tree Frog!

Also known as the Smiling Tree Frog or Dumpy Tree Frog due to the nature of its appearance, this frog is a very hardy creature and a favorite pet of amateur frog owners, although some pet owners complain that they are not active enough. These frogs love to eat, which can make them quite fat, hence their "dumpy" appearance. Unlike many frogs, these frogs do well with other frogs of their species and are fairly friendly. They like a warm and moderately humid habitat and eat larger insects like crickets, cockroaches, locusts, moths and beetles.

What kind of Frog are you?

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Last night, the Iraq Peace Action Coalition, chose a site for the March 19 anti-war event in the Twin Cities. It will be in Loring Park at 1pm on Saturday, March 19, 2005. I updated our 5x8.5 inch leaflet to include the new information and Ravenhub printed out several hundred copies to hand out at the Nobel Peace Prize event at Augsburg College this weekend. Once I figure out how to post such things, there will be a link here to indicate my latest political graphic work.

In addition, I spent a couple hours last night shopping for odds and ends to furnish the new Mizna office in Minneapolis. It was kind of fun to fill so many needs in such a short period of time. Everything got left on the front porch for Rabi'h to pick up and deliver today. Just in time, because today I received the third report from my friend in Iraq. He had visited refugee camps for refugees from Fallujah and Karballa. It is heart-wrenching to read these stories and to know that people are doing everything they possibly can and it still not enough.

Links will be provided later. I still have not figured out how to post pdfs that can be linked here. One day, all shall be revealed! If you happen to stop by and are willing to give me a tutorial, please respond below. I could really use the assistance!

In a strange turn of events, my former boss contacted me via e-mail yesterday. This was the man who went to prison for absconding with our retirement funds and for all those years of bouncing paychecks. Despite all the pain he brought to my personal life and the lives or my co-workers, I still feel some fondness toward the man. He was the only boss I ever had who recognized and backed his skilled craftspeople. Turns out his daughter has recently graduated with a BFA and is looking for work. My current employer happens to have a couple of openings, so it could be she will be working in my department soon. Somehow, despite everything, that seems like a really fine thing. I checked out the woman's website and she does have a good eye for type and graphic design.

The irony is that when I asked this man to give me a full-time job, more than 20 years ago, one of my first questions was to ask how old his children were. This was because a previous employer had the habit of laying off six or seven people every June in order to employ the sons and daughters of the owners over their summer vacations from college. At the time I hired on, this man's children were under 5 years of age. I figured I was safe from that particular employment malpractice. Now, however, I am in a position to help the child I hoped to never have to deal with all those years ago.

Life is downright hilarious sometimes. Glory be.

What an anal retentive I am! I had to reformat the post below to get rid of all that bad coding. Heh.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

About Ward Churchill

Last week, a major bruhaha arose concerning plans to invite Ward Churchill to speak at a college in New York. Churchill is a long-time activist on Native American issues who has published many popular books and written hundreds of articles.

There are plenty of reasons for people from all points of view to get angry about things Churchill has said. That isn't what happened. People got angry about something Churchill did not say. As a result, the event he was invited to has been cancelled; he has received multiple death threats; he has resigned as chair of his department; and he may lose his job over the issue.

You can read for yourself what Churchill actually said. The original post is available from Darknight Press at their website, under the original title: Some People Push Back

Harsh words? Yes. Hyperbole? Yes. Anger? Yes. Over the top? Undoubtedly.

Grounds for a death warrant? Not at all.

By now, you've probably heard the mainstream lies that have been told about Churchill. For instance, he did not say that all 3,000 9/11 victims deserved to die. He did not say that all 3,000 9/11 victims were “little Eichmans.” He did not say that those who perpetrated the attacks were heros.

On the other hand, I have problems with Churchill and with this particular article. My opinion comes from a different point of view.

I have read nearly every book Churchill has written and I have learned quite a lot from him. None of his writings are grounds for hatred or death threats. I defend his right to have his opinion heard and not distorted. I strongly defend his right to engage in hateful speech and have it protected. He should not have his job or his life threatened for holding unpopular opinions. I willingly defend his right to his job, to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

I will not, however, defend this particular essay. The essay's title and opening paragraph are in reference to a comment by Malcolm X in 1963. Here is what Churchill says:

“Some People Push Back” On the Justice of Roosting Chickens

When queried by reporters concerning his views on the assassination of John F. Kennedy in November 1963, Malcolm X famously – and quite charitably, all things considered – replied that it was merely a case of “chickens coming home to roost.”

On the morning of September 11, 2001, a few more chickens – along with some half-million dead Iraqi children – came home to roost in a very big way at the twin towers of New York's World Trade Center. Well, actually, a few of them seem to have nestled in at the Pentagon as well.

Oddly enough, this whole controversy over Ward Churchill came up shortly after we celebrated Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday. I had taken three days off from work and was spending the time re-reading some of my favorite books, including The Autobiography of Malcolm X. In fact, I had just finished Malcolm's description of that particular speech:

Many times since then, I've looked at the speech notes I used that day, which has been prepared at least a week before the assassination. The title of my speech was “God's Judgment of White America.” It was on the theme, familiar to me, of “as you sow, so shall you reap,” or how the hypocritical American white man was reaping what he had sowed.

The question-and-answer period opened, I suppose inevitably, with someone asking me, “What do you think about President Kennedy's assassination? What is your opinion?”

Without a second thought, I said what I honestly felt – that it was, as I saw it, a case of “the chickens coming home to roost.” I said that the hate in white men had not stopped with the killing of defenseless black people, but that hate, allowed to spread unchecked, finally had struck down this country's Chief of State. I said it was the same thing as had happened with Medgar Evers, with Patrice Lumumba, with Madame Nhu's husband.

The headlines and the news broadcasts promptly had it: “Black Muslims' Malcolm X: ‘Chickens Come Home to Roost.' ”

It makes me feel weary to think of it all now. All over America, all over the world, some of the world's most important personages were saying in various ways, and in far stronger ways that I did, that America's climate of hate had been responsible for the President's death. But when Malcolm X said the same thing, it was ominous.

If you have read anything written by Malcolm X, you know that the man was a profoundly religious man. He loved God and he loved those who loved and served the godly purpose of truth and justice. In the beginning of his religious career, Malcolm X focussed on uplifting black people, but over time he came to love people of all races who worked for justice:

“I'm for truth, no matter who tells it. I'm for justice, no matter who it is for or against. I'm a human being first and foremost, and as such I'm for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole.”

For me, there is a qualitative and fundamental difference between the views Malcolm expresses in “The Autobiography…” and the view Churchill expresses in his essay.

Churchill's essay expresses sympathy for no one. He attacks both pro-war Americans and anti-war Americans. He attacks both U.S. soldiers and the “soldiers” (his term) who carried out the attacks that led to 3000 deaths on September 11, 2001.

I honestly don't believe that the kind of anger and hatred that Churchill expresses in that essay has any value. In fact, I believe that he was engaging in the hatred that Malcolm X condemned in his “Chickens come home to roost” speech. Malcolm X said that, if we allow ourselves to engage in hateful acts toward others, that hatred will be returned to us in kind.

And yet, still, I do not hate Churchill or believe that he deserves the odium that has been heaped upon him. I hope he finds time to re-read Malcolm X. I have always found it extremely valuable.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Mugged by the blogosphere

I honestly can't remember how I ended up checking out a website called
Althouse, Maybe she made the Daypop 40. Whatever.

You can read the story at her blog, but the basic story is that she checked The New York Times to see how they were reporting on the election in Iraq. She noticed and mentioned something she found very curious: the Times online edition kept changing the headline on the story without changing a word in the actual story.

The contents of the story were fairly balanced: it reported both joyous partying in some parts of Iraq and deadly attacks in other parts of Iraq. The headline, however, changed from happy news early in the day to more and more dire headlines as the day progressed.

Her post got picked up and rocketed around the blogosphere to the point at which she was the subject of vicious attacks and insults. Her post was a topic of discussion on popular news blogs such as Kevin Drum at the Washington Monthly and Howard Kurtz at the Washington Post.

Althouse posted updates on the story and came to the conclusion that the most vicious attacks were coming from leftists. As a moderate, she often disagreed with both lefties and righties. But her treatment by the right wing had never been quite so vicious.

Which brings me to the point of this post: are extreme left wingers more vicious, self-righteous and mean-spirited than extreme right wingers?

My guess is that, for the time being, the venom from the left will win the championship for vitriol. Many lefty liberals suffered extreme disappointment as a result of losing the presidential election by such a small margin. Hopes were raised and hopes were smashed. Leftists are licking their wounds while rightists are glorying in their victory.

I do not mean to commit psychology and accuse leftists of suffering from a medical disease. I believe Kerry created the "malaise" by slipping off to whatever cave he hid in after the election and turning his back on all those people who had worked for him. What a rotten looser he turned out to be! I never liked the guy, so I'm not an impartial judge. Nevertheless, I believe his supporters deserved better.

I've been lucky to have experienced political activism that included people from vastly different viewpoints. My earliest activism, involving Central America in the early 1980s, brought me in touch with activists from communist organizations as well as activists from the liberation theology movement within Catholicism, to mention a couple of extremes.

We had many opportunities to discuss the things about which we agreed and disagreed. Over time, we learned to respect each other and the value we brought to the movement. We learned to agree on things we could and to set aside the issues on which we could not agree. We learned what wonderful things were possible by working together. And we learned what activities we would have to engage in on our own -- without asking those who disagreed to compromise their beliefs.

I think we are at a time in which agreeing to disagree with each other is proving far too difficult for the majority of U.S. citizens. World events seem to demand that we take a stand and we do it right now! I am going to have to be patient and wait for the time when we come together again.


And now for something completely differentÖ.

Last Saturday I was working at the bookstore when I got a phone call. The man's voice was unfamiliar. He asked to speak to one of my co-workers. When I mentioned that the co-worker had gone to Mexico on vacation, the caller rambled on drunkenly about how miserable he was. He asked my name and I told him. He asked if I was "the evil one". I laughed and said, "Sure, that's me."

He marveled that my voice did not sound familiar but he wouldn't tell me his name. I asked him if I could help him find a book, and he went on to whine and complain in an obnoxious, profanity-laden way. It was closing time so I told him he should call back during business hours. He started swearing and I said something like, "Have a good day" and hung up.

It took be quite a while after I hung up to realize I had been talking to my ex! This is a man with whom I shared a particularly brutal relationship more than 20 years ago. I was in a very bad place emotionally and he was losing an epic battle with alcohol. The relationship ended in a vicious manner and neither one of us should be proud about the way we treated each other during those break-up months.

What astonishes me is how I apparently continue to exist in his mind. To him, I am "the evil one" who did him wrong and he continues to experience that victimization 20 years later. The man my ex called the store to talk to was the only friend I had left after the break-up. Although my ex called the store asking to speak to this man, he spewed venomous attacks on the man he wanted to talk to for "betraying him with his ex-girlfriend."

I don't know what to conclude from this experience other than this: Alcohol Sucks! It is a brutal enemy that fights dirty and destroys without remorse. I am, once again, in awe of its power over certain people.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Tonight, my friend Priscilla and I went to the Bell Auditorium, the nation's first dedicated non-fiction film screen to see the movie The Take by Avi Lewis and Naomi Klein.

Here's the blurb from their website:

In the wake of Argentinaís spectacular economic collapse in 2001, Latin Americaís most prosperous middle class finds itself in a ghost town of abandoned factories and mass unemployment. In suburban Buenos Aires, thirty unemployed auto-parts workers walk into their idle factory, roll out sleeping mats and refuse to leave. All they want is to re-start the silent machines. But this simple act óthe take óhas the power to turn the globalization debate on its head.

Director/producer Avi Lewis (Counterspin) and writer/producer and renowned author Naomi Klein (No Logo) take viewers inside the lives of ordinary visionaries, as they reclaim their work, their dignity and their democracy.

The film does not hide the incredible perseverance one must have in order to create something honest and good in this crazy world. On the other hand, it does answer the question we leftists often get, which is "What would you do differently?"

Klein is featured in an interview at Alternet that I scanned earlier today. My first read through left me with a bad taste in my mouth because I have a low tolerance for anyone who starts a sentence with "The anti-war movement isÖ." For me, it's clear that the anti-war movement is so broad and so wide that it's misleading to characterize it as holding any particular viewpoint on anything other than the belief that U.S. troops should leave Iraq.

I was a participant in what was, apparently, the first demonstration against U.S. intervention in Iraq in the world (more details when I can find the links). I must say that there are plenty of anti-war activists who have been fighting for democracy in Iraq and with Iraqis for years. We may have been right all this time, but being right doesn't mean squat next to the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi deaths that have occurred over the years.

So if you want U.S. troops out of Iraq now, I don't care why you want it or how you want it done. I just want it done. Stop underestimating the Iraqi people. They are ready, willing and able to control their country. They will welcome our humanitarian assistance and expertise to help rebuild their country, but the thing they agree on more than anything else is that military occupation must end now.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

In an act of lunacy, I stayed late at work today and decided to download one weekend's worth of articles from CounterPunch. This is a leftwing news compendium that irritates me to no end by not having printer-friendly versions of their stories available. Instead, there is an infuriatingly long left column that lists every link for a month plus various books and articles of value. I've taken to guesstimating the length of any particular article and outputting 10-12 pages in hopes of getting an entire story to print.

As an experiment, I cut and pasted every article from the past weekend and today into one text document. I ended up with 47 pages of 9 point type. I managed to get through 2/3 of it before giving up because, alas, I will have to sleep sometime tonight!

Despite the fact that it is simply impossible to read all this valuable information, it was astonishing how much I learned in three hours of concentrated reading. I fnished up with this remarkable post about Auschwitz and the political message this place plays in our lives today. Just open your mind and read it. Forget the myths and look at the reality:

when the image of evil is brewed within your cultural heritage as the discourse of the other, you may as well become blind to the fact that you yourself are already evil.

One thing I learned from being up close and personal to a noxious form of evil as I was growing up is that I can never assume that evil is something out there and foreign to me. It is a choice we make on a daily basis. Let us have the strength to choose good over evil today.