Love In A Time of Crowdsourcing

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“We’re fucked.”

I don’t know exactly when I came to this sad realization.

It might have been while I was methodically deconstructing my own cigarette butts a few weeks ago, searching for the few flakes of unsmoked tobacco that often hide near the filter. I hadn’t done this in years – reconstituting cigarettes out of the ashes of the old in desperate times to sate my addiction – but this time I had a family sharing scarce resources with me. Prioritizing what precious few cordobas we had for cigarettes while nobody in our house was eating was unconscionable to me. Digging through last week’s trash was far less so. So I did.

Of course, it might have been when our rescue dog and rescue kitten met me in the morning, clamoring for the food we didn’t have. There’s something decidedly fucked about looking at the street dog you took from a successful life begging and saying, “I thought we’d do better out here in the country, but maybe you’re actually better off without us back in the city?”

It might have been when we were pleading at the local pulperia for yet another line of credit to just see us through one more weekend. It might have been when we were sitting slouched and defeated in front of our landlord, yet again, making desperate promises that the wire transfer was just a few days away. It might have been when I made dinner out of empanizador and grape jelly. It doesn’t really matter when I realized it. We were fucked.

I’d been fucked before. As a high school dropout and on-again-off-again bartender, waiter, delivery boy or whatever-service-job-I-can-clean-myself-up-to-get worker, I’m always building cardboard castles on the tremulous sand of “fucked-adjacent” property. What was new – and what was newly devastating to me this time – was that I’d never been part of a “we” before. Now, we were fucked. And it wasn’t supposed to happen again – not to me – and definitely not to the newly-constituted “we.”

It wasn’t supposed to happen, not because I had failed to live up to patriarchal duties to “provide for my family,” but instead because we had a plan. My partner Marcela and I are in this together. And we had secured the promise of a rare, personal loan from a rarer-still family member who thought they could afford to help make that plan happen.

 

——-

 

I’ve wandered around lost for most of my life, usually from couch to couch and often without any discernible purpose. I grew up in a very affluent community just outside DC, with a world of possibilities presented to me, but my rejection of that life came very early (and, I might add, very recklessly). I dropped out of one of the best public high schools in the country, choosing instead to spend my time at a local coffee shop embarrassingly agonizing over French Existentialist and communist writers.

Dropping out of school isn’t what many might think it is. You don’t formally renounce school. You just kind of slip away. One day you’re reading Sartre in a Greek diner instead of attending French II class and the next thing you know all your friends are away at prestigious universities and you’re shrink-wrapping DVDs at the local Blockbuster Video. At least, that’s how it was for me.

I continued wandering – in fits and starts in my life always orbiting around anarchism (from the punk scene in DC to Occupy in Los Angeles) – for a long time before I finally made it to Nicaragua, a country I had always held in special regard. I had read all my life about the people here overthrowing their US-backed oppressor in the same year I was born – 1979 – and their resistance was something I had always wanted to see firsthand. Three years later, it’s something I only admire more now. It definitely isn’t anarchism, but there is here a living memory of a kind of resistance that goes a lot deeper than buying a Keurig coffeemaker.

In Granada, I somehow became a bar manager, but I tried to be the kind of manager who was in the trenches every night bartending the same as anyone else. Over two years, we turned a tourist bar that thrived on the free labor of backpackers and catered almost exclusively to them in a different direction. With a Nicaraguan staff, we became the busiest bar in town by reaching a more mixed clientele – becoming a place where Nicaraguans and tourists came together as strangers and left as friends. This was done with purpose – and it worked!

Somehow, despite all of this, I was still miserable. One night, I broke my hand punching a wall in frustration after a busy night. I had checked the manager’s log and – despite all our hard work and corresponding success – the owner of the bar had left yet another passive-aggressive and disgustingly racist note in our manager’s log. I was simmering.

When I met Marce, I immediately ran out and bought two books so I could learn more about her home, El Salvador. After our very first conversation, I knew I wanted to know more about her and her country and I dedicated myself to that. We talked often of a solidarity that once existed between El Salvador and Nicaragua and dreamed of doing something together where she could actively make that real again.

Marce quickly opened my eyes to a lot of other things, too. The owners of the bar we worked at together were horrible – I knew that already. From the first day, they always told me they wanted to use their bar in Granada as a stepping stone to get to Ecuador – to beautiful beaches they fantasized about there for their impending retirement. They wanted to build an empire around Nicaragua, an empire around Central America and an empire around Latin America. They had no particular love for Nicaragua, Nicaraguans or Granada at all. And they regularly demonstrated that with abuse directed at my coworkers. Thinking I was some bulwark between them and the staff, as I had been doing, was only sapping me of any happiness I might ever know and was actually helping them achieve their extractive, gringo empire at the same time. Marce helped me realize this. So we quit. Together.

When she told me should would leave me if I ever asked her to go with me to the United States, I knew I was in love. I happily promised I never would. When Marce had the same “Sabocat” tattoo I had emblazoned on her own left shoulder, although she protested it wasn’t “anarchist” because she added “Marcelismo” underneath it, I only loved her more. I proposed to her with a cheap plastic ring that our young friend Miguelito, a homeless kid we loved and cared for over our boss’ objections, had given us outside of the bar we were now also banned from entering.

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I said we had a plan. We did. And it was a good one, I thought. It is a good one.

We weren’t going to work for someone else, particularly not an extractive, racist employer bent on taking their profit and running elsewhere. That’s not who we are. So we brainstormed. Marce found a property – a failed hostel that we could rent and still rent out rooms on AirBnB to sustain us. But that wasn’t adequate for our politics – or our lives – either. We wanted to do something more reflective of our politics and we needed to do more in order to get legal residency here.

In Nicaragua, the best way – perhaps the only way – for someone who isn’t retired and on a demonstrable pension (or with similarly demonstrable finances) is to become “an investor.” What that means – practically speaking – is that you need to have a registered association and invest a certain amount of money. in Nicaragua to get residency. As an anarchist and anticapitalist, I’m not excited about the prospect of starting a business – but it is a necessary evil if we want to stay in Nicaragua. This is one obvious contradiction we struggle with, but there are many more.

So, settling our uneasiness, we raised a few hundred dollars on the Internet to get out of Granada and make it to Ometepe, a beautiful island formed by two volcanoes in Central America’s largest lake. Like many “entrepreneurs” before us, we reached out to one of Marce’s family members who runs a small construction company in El Salvador for a loan to get started on our idea, and he committed to helping us. We were dependent upon his help, but his situation in El Salvador changed and that help quickly dried up. That’s when we realized we we’re fucked and needed help.

Marce has run hotels and was educated in San Salvador in hospitality and tourism. Our plan, and we still think it is a good one, is to try our best every day to marry our politics with a business that can sustain our family. We’re committed to doing something that isn’t destructive to our new community or at least can help mitigate the harm capitalism does to communities everywhere. We’re committed to using our access, particularly mine, to redistribute resources to those who don’t have that same access. I have 11k followers on Twitter, so I’m pleading for their help to spread the word. I’m white and from North America, so I’m asking people I know to contribute. It’s difficult terrain to navigate and we don’t always succeed, but we’re trying. Ours is a small project, but we hope to be able to do a lot of good.

We’re up against a lot. A well-financed hostel chain is sweeping across Latin America, backed by a real estate development firm with millions of dollars and flying an Israeli flag. They have a plan to open 90 hostels in the next four years and just opened their first two in Nicaragua. They’re gobbling up elite properties from Mexico to Peru, destroying locally-owned-and-controlled businesses by bringing everything in-house and carving out an empire that will extract every tourist dollar from Latin America rather than keep that money in local communities. We want to be on the frontline of that fight. It’s everything we know. And yes, it fits our very real, material needs, too. But we also know we can make it work. We can show people another way, reach our clients and spark conversations without preaching at them and help other, local businesses remain locally-controlled at the same time. Is it perfect? No. Is it “The Revolution.” Hardly.

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I’m 38 now. Honestly, I don’t have much time left to be behind a bar anymore. At some point soon, it’s just going to be creepy. And I don’t have any savings to show or the education to do much else. Having only held precarious service jobs, I haven’t seen a dentist since I was 18 and the only time I have ever seen a doctor was when I broke my hand in Granada ($20 for an ex-ray and a cast!) punching a wall because of my former boss. I’m getting older. I’m going to need to see doctors and dentists someday. To do that, I need to find something stable, something that will help me enjoy my newfound family far into the future. And I want to do that here in Nicaragua.

When I was growing up, it wasn’t a question of supporting the local record shop when Tower Records exploded on the scene. You just did it. Tourist dollars are flooding Latin America and we have particular access to those dollars that we might be able to redirect locally rather than extract in their tired, imperial formula. This will also help us to survive and to do more politically and personally ourselves.

We also need to find a way to get ourselves unfucked and to do so in a way that doesn’t fuck anyone else. We think this is the best way to do exactly that.

I hope you’ll consider helping us. We have 17 days left on our IndieGogo campaign and need all the help we can get.

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-black-cat-hostel-cafe-community-travel/x/17569113

 

 

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Posted in Action, Liberalism, Patriarchy, Uncategorized, War on the Poor, white supremacy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Berkeley College Republicans “Turning Into A Fascist Front Group”

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It seems there are two kinds of journalists in the world today: those who pal around with fascists to hear their story – to find out what makes them tick and share supposed fascist “fragility” in their own, self-centering and glamorous profile pieces  – and those who seize the opportunity to take a photograph of an email signup sheet left unattended in a public building at a public event. Happily, I’ve found friends among the latter. The former can fuck off back to Oxford – or back to shared champagne in greenrooms with fascists.

Contrary to Berkeley College Republicans’ incendiary (and false) claims that, “a man on a bike road by Sproul Plaza and snatched their email list,” the provenance of this list is exactly as described above. An intrepid journalist with free and unencumbered access to a public building saw this list unattended on a table filled with promotional materials and sagely snapped a photograph. Which they then sent to me. To publish. While adding, almost desperately, “Please do this. The CRs are turning into a fascist front group really, really fast.”

Complaints by Berkeley College Republicans that publishing this list will invite “targeted harassment” ring more than a little hollow when the event they sponsored featured a fascist who actually has made his name in targeted harassment; Milo Yiannopoulos. That harassment continued on his current college tour at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where Yiannopoulos himself targeted a student for harassment. It has also been suggested that Yiannopoulos planned to out undocumented students at Cal, a claim supported by a campaign he himself planned to inaugurate there against “sanctuary campuses.” When your currency is targeted harassment, you should expect a refund in full and in kind from those who don’t buy your bullshit. All of this, of course, serves only to justify the militant resistance seen at Berkeley by students concerned about their own classmates’ safety and the bold actions of my source to out those who actually support targeted harassment.

But this isn’t about maintaining some lofty, liberal high ground – this is about fighting fascist fire with revolutionary steam. So without further ado, here is the list itself as it was conveyed to me:

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The List 

I saw the list and was immediately concerned; what if some people had planned to disrupt this event? But I also wondered, why then – would they signup on the BCR’s mailing list? So I sent a query letter, as any ethical journalist might, to gauge their thoughts on both the BCR’s lack of operational security and their feelings on Yiannopoulos and give them a chance to speak for themselves. I’m nothing if not fair. So I wrote them all a letter giving them ample time to respond and defend their own voluntary inclusion on that list:

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Several students responded to the letter immediately. The list includes a Cal baseball player and a Cal football player. They chose not to respond. However, the BCR’s did respond, making extraordinary (and false) claims of a brazen theft of their list on local media and to a rightwing “Campus Reform” website. The calls for my head came in loud and clear, as did the calls for outing me, which has already been done. I’m not afraid; my name is Craig Toennies and I’m against fascism.

Jon Rich responded:

Hi,
This mail was sent to me by mistake. I am not aware of being on any list. I did not attend the event. I do not condone or support Milo and his views, and I voted for Hillary Clinton in this last election.
Thanks.

Mason Cummings was a little more engaging, first responding:

Greetings,
I gave them my email via their website to hear about their upcoming events in order to have stimulating conversations that confront my own biases (given I consider myself a “liberal”). I did not have tickets to the Milo event nor did I attend the protests, so I don’t know why I am included in this list. I also believe satire/ridicule is the best remedy to such hateful speech, rather than covering one’s ears and demanding dissenting opinions be silenced. Unfortunately this is not the way in which the world works, you cannot simply hide from voices you do not wish to hear, you must confront them in order to extinguish them. If hate speech is a disease, open criticism is its treatment, and censorship merely acts as an aggravate.

But to the greater point, you really think anyone who was interested in the event was therefore a supporter of Mr Yiannopoulos? I find that patently absurd. I believe most rational people could see that an email list from the College Republicans does not imply that those on the list are: 1.) republican to begin with and 2.) even if they were republican that they necessarily agree or support the views of Milo. Of course, given I find myself on this list, one must realize that it in fact does not contain those who were attending the event, just those who had provided their email to the College Republicans.

I also would point out the hypocrisy in criticizing the non-consentual release of a person’s identity, yet in response turning around and doing the exact same thing.

Why would they need to protect my identity in the first place anyway? I can’t join political clubs at the university I attend? I really don’t care that people know I’m on the email list for a political club on my campus, especially given the fact that I myself am not a republican and did not have admission to the Milo event.

You’re really just making our side look more and more pathetic by doing this. I keep leaning farther and farther right as I cringe at the encroachment of liberties perpetrated by the party that once stood strongest for them.

Release my name anyway I really could care less- if it makes it so I can have engaging discussions with people that I disagree with then that’s something that should be appreciated, not feared.

Unfortunately for Cummings, his actual signature appeared on the list and he checked in at the event himself on Facebook. This seemed to contradict his claims of giving his “email via their website” and that he “did not attend.”

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I pressed Cummings on this point, and he continued:

Okay while writing this i just finished reading the article on his mocking of a trans student at UWM and that reallyyyyyyy pisses me off. Did he just straight up reveal their identity to the whole crowd? Did that student undergo any violence afterward? If that’s the case and that’s what he was planning on doing at UCB then i actually would not agree that he should have a platform to speak because that’s an incitement of violence. (I swear i’m not just saying this to appease you). I was told he was giving a talk on cultural appropriation and the conservative perspective on it, something that should I think in fact be allowed.

Yes, Mason. That’s pretty much what he did. And very likely what he planned to do at Cal.

Noah Jacobs, protested his inclusion and insisted he attended because liberal Professor Robert Reich suggested it:

To be honest, I went to a talk by Robert Reich about public discourse and political engagement. He urged us liberals to reach out across the aisle and bridge gaps and engage in constructive dialogue. I thought that by seeing what the College Republicans were up to (particularly what they organize week to week after that Milo stunt), would help provide more clarity and insight.
I by no means align myself with that group, but cutting myself off from people who think that way and resorting to my social media echo chamber would cut off information about the other side, and the roughly 66 million people who did vote for Trump.
Best,
Noah

Fair enough.

The rest of the list remained silent, which is their right – whether you’re a Cal baseball player like Trevin Haseltine or a Cal football player like Ryan Gibson. They’ll have to defend why they signed up to hear more from a campus group actively promoting the harassment of their classmates to their own teammates and classmates. And to you. But my work here  – for now – is done.

Again, I’m Craig Toennies and I’m against fascism. I’m down with punching actual fucking Nazis and I’m down with shutting down events that feature fascists. You can put me on that fucking list. I’m pretty sure I already am.

 

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Posted in ACAB/FTP, Action, California, Liberalism, Media, Queer, Uncategorized, War on the Poor, white supremacy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Erased By False Victory: Obama Hasn’t Stopped DAPL

This…

Transformative Spaces

14067704_1246845795349461_128050987172044891_n #NoDAPL protesters gather for a boat action in Standing Rock on August 20. (Photo: Kelly Hayes)

All Native struggles in the United States are a struggle against erasure. The poisoning of our land, the theft of our children, the state violence committed against us — we are forced to not only live in opposition to these ills, but also to live in opposition to the fact that they are often erased from public view and public discourse, outside of Indian Country. The truth of our history and our struggle does not match the myth of American exceptionalism, and thus, we are frequently boxed out of the narrative.

The struggle at Standing Rock, North Dakota, has been no exception, with Water Protectors fighting tooth and nail for visibility, ever since the Sacred Stone prayer encampment began on April 1.

For months, major news outlets have ignored what’s become the largest convergence of Native…

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John Oliver isn’t Mad Max, he’s part of the problem

READ:

Popaganda

When I was first recommended John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight, I knew it wouldn’t be the last time. Oliver had the benefit of coming from The Daily Show, which became a cherished liberal institution under Jon Stewart and had a unique power to shape conversations among a lot of progressive internet users. If anything, Oliver has the potential to be more influential than the show that birthed him. “That John Oliver’s weekly video(s) will go viral is a given,” wrote John Herrman in a post on a clickbait ritual he calls the “John Oliver video sweepstakes.” John Oliver is “winning the internet.” More than just a content factory, though, on his HBO show Oliver is getting credit for something like prime-time activism—Time lauds what they call the “John Oliver effect.”

He’s really, really, popular. When I watched the first clip I…

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White Cop Does Not Kill Black Motorist, Becomes National Hero

This. #Copaganda:

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White Cop Does Not Kill Black Motorist, Becomes National Hero ( Or: Why America Should Not Be Saved)

Posted by Bay Area Intifada

Written by Jabar

In 2015’s United States of America, a white police officer that does NOT shoot and kill a black motorist is considered a hero. In recent mainstream media (MSM) reports a white police officer named Matt Okes is being praised as a “hero” for not brutalizing or killing a young black male, Joseph Owusu, who was pulled over to the side of a road due to a flat tire.

Joseph, a Virginia Tech University student and son of Doctor Nada Owusu, has become famous overnight for not becoming the next victim of police murder.

The sheer fact that this story has been shared nearly a million times on social media and has been picked up by MSM tells another story altogether. One in which dark people; young…

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Copaganda Theater: “End of Watch”

A really great expansion on “copaganda” through the lens provided by Hollywood’s “End of Watch.”

Popaganda

Occupy LA Anti-Social Media (OLAASM) has published an excellent piece on the historical role of the Los Angeles police department, called “The LAPD: Not Your Model Police Department – But Definitely Theirs.” OLAASM writes that:

Los Angeles has long served as a proving ground where the counterinsurgency tactics later adopted by police throughout the United States were first domestically deployed. Ever since the nation’s very first no-knock SWAT raid on the Black Panther Party headquarters at 41st & Central and the CIA-facilitated, “crack cocaine explosion” that was first unleashed on South Central to more recent, repressive innovations like so-called “Community Policing” and today’s “Predpol,” (Minority Report-style pre-crime tactics –ed) the City of Angels has repeatedly been lauded as a “model” for “modern” policing.

OLAASM’s piece about how the LAPD is a “model” police department got me thinking about a film I just watched, which struck me as one…

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The LAPD: Not Your Model Police Department

The LAPD: Not Your Model Police Department – But Definitely Theirs

(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

 

Los Angeles has long served as a proving ground where the counterinsurgency tactics later adopted by police throughout the United States were first domestically deployed. Ever since the nation’s very first no-knock SWAT raid on the Black Panther Party headquarters at 41st & Central and the CIA-facilitated, “crack cocaine explosion” that was first unleashed on South Central to more recent, repressive innovations like so-called “Community Policing” and today’s “Predpol,” the City of Angels has repeatedly been lauded as a “model” for “modern” policing. But what is the Los Angeles model, really? And why is it being exalted again now?

In August, when people in Ferguson, Missouri bravely erupted in open revolt against the police after Darren Wilson murdered Mike Brown – their spirited resistance inspired and reenergized a movement nationwide. The collective rejection of establishment collaborators like Jessie Jackson, Al Sharpton and even newcomers like Antonio French also signaled a renewed challenge to the “negotiated management” of black rage. And power trembled.

Seemingly overlooked, however, Ferguson also exposed Police Chief Tom Jackson’s not-quite-ready-for-primetime media inexperience. When Jackson first got before cameras, he stuttered and stumbled. Pressured to face his critics (after several masterful, hug-filled photo ops by “star” Captain Ron Johnson), Jackson and his henchmen mucked their own PR stunt up and turned a peaceful march into a melee. Even after a canned, too-little-too-late apology to the Brown family, Jackson proved unable to recuperate his own public perception or that of his department.

That’s where the “LA model” comes in. As the media tells it, the LAPD have built an exemplary “bank of trust” with the community. But what community is that? Not us. The “private sector,” like real estate billionaires. The media. Self-selected “Civil Rights leaders” like Connie Rice, Earl Hutchinson and Najee Ali – that’s who. And that’s the core of “the LAPD model;” what I call “copaganda.” Highly managed dissent, maintained through the threat and actualization of the same old violence, but now reimagined for the public through relentless propaganda and the very deliberate tokenization of a very select few police collaborators. In short: the careful management of public perception.

In modern policing, preserving a positive public perception, what Feruson’s police couldn’t maintain, is paramount because – no matter what power says to the contrary – professional policing in the US is foundationally racist. As is true with capitalism itself, the bedrock our police were built upon is the ultraviolent management, hyperviolent exploitation and forced warehousing of black bodies and the protection of (white) private property. This has been the case since chattel slavery, where black bodies were the property itself, through the “ethnoracial exclusion” of the 20th Century ghetto system – and it continues today with what Glen Ford calls “Mass Black Incarceration” and Michelle Alexander calls “The New Jim Crow.”

You can’t reform that. And you certainly can’t alter the way it is enforced by police without even acknowledging it. Not with some technological pseudo-panacea like bodycameras. Not with empty slogans like “community policing.” And definitely not with mere “diversity.”

The truth that Los Angeles and other diverse police forces reveal is that non-white cops enforce the same order, the same racist laws, that white cops do. Diversity in policing, then, is clearly no real inhibitor to police violence; the system is violence. As Annalee Newitz once observed, “the police uniform, the badge, are like white skin, and the person who wears that skin is allowed to enforce laws which he doesn’t himself intend to follow.” After the Marikana Massacre in South Africa in 2012, Margaret Kimberley further explained, “White supremacy doesn’t necessarily need white people in order to function. It only needs people who understand clearly where whites stand vis a vis other groups. The black police who ordered the shootings and who carried them out were as much white supremacists as the white police who killed in the days of minority rule.”

White supremacy is the cudgel of capitalism and is the driving force of modern policing; the sine qua non, not some unintended and easily-tweakable consequence. What Loïc Wacquant called the “anti-black animus” that motivates modern policing is, indeed, fundamentally inseparable from it. Therefore, maintaining the current, racist order – and the inextricable role our police play in maintaining it – necessitates a constant obfuscation of that very fact. Or, in other words, it requires successful public relations. And that’s exactly where the LAPD excel.

 

The Carrot and the Stick: A Case Study in the LAPD “Model”

(MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

(MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

 

In a recent interview with CNN, President Bill Clinton shared his thoughts on the current incarnation of a movement he himself deftly undermined during his own Presidency by both bolstering police nationwide and accelerating the expansion of the carceral complex while championing obfuscating slogans like “community policing.” As reported by Andrew Romano, who investigated the topic of the Los Angeles model at some length – yet who still dutifully perpetuated its core tenets of faith – Clinton remarked:

“We used to have a terrible problem in Los Angeles,” he said. “And almost no one in the world has noticed that while the Ferguson controversy was going on, a civilian in Los Angeles was killed in a confrontation with the police. But because of the dramatic improvements in community relations and the sense of the people in the community that their lives had dignity, the process unfolded there as it should, and there were no mass demonstrations.”

“That’s what we’ve got to do everywhere in America,” Clinton concluded.

  Continue reading

Posted in ACAB/FTP, Action, Archival, California, Liberalism, Los Angeles, Media, Prisons, War on the Poor, white supremacy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

The Agency

“Playing up agency while ignoring structure is associated with the political right. “

100 Flamingos

Here’s a cool conspiracy theory: writers are purposely injecting popular left discourse with a perverted interpretation of the concept of “agency.” And I don’t mean in university settings but more democratic spaces like Twitter. It’s being used by ostensible lefts only in service to US foreign policy and never in opposition.

Agency is “the capacity of individuals to act independently and to make their own free choices.” Typically, however, this is considered against the problem of Structure: “those factors of influence (such as social class, religion, gender, ethnicity, customs, etc.) that determine or limit an agent and his or her decisions.” Playing up agency while ignoring structure is associated with the political right. That’s why it’s been surprising to see this tendency among left-identifying figures.

An example of right-wing playing up of agency is when my Fox-watching dad complains, for instance, that black people “know better” and slavery and Jim Crow and the drug…

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At the Intersection of Gamergate & Weevgate, Abusers & Their Knowing Apologists

A Misogynist Icon

A Misogynist Icon

[Editor’s Note: After noxious, not-so-crypto-fascist Andrew Auernheimer (aka “weev”) published a rambling, racist screed on a white supremacist blog – our community took several journalists to task for work they had previously done to obscure his odious, Nazi politics. OLAASM recently published our own exploration of the topic, focused primarily on our larger concerns: cynicism, opportunism and the white supremacy they both serve. However, all of this ignores the reality that “weev” was a well-known, misogynist harasser long before any celebrity journalists whitewashed his perfidious past and committed to making him an icon. The question remains: why? Did they not know or did they not care?

After we published our post, we got some attention of our own. Vicious trolls have emerged – committed to outing, smearing and even instrumentalizing our Twitter operator’s deceased parents as tools to misrepresent and shame him. And us. But we are undeterred. Because it has never been about us. That’s one reason why we don’t use our names. Not because we are afraid, but because we don’t want fame just for giving a fuck. We want more people to care, not to be exceptional for caring.

We got some good attention, too, however. Kathy Sierra, the target of “weev’s” long-storied but intentionally obscured abuse, sent us a very heartening, personal email. And amidst the stream of abuse we’ve taken over the past few days, that small connection and solidarity makes it all worth it.

Although Sierra asked that we not publish that short, personal note itself, she provided the following introduction and relevant excerpts from an email she herself sent to Molly Crabapple in May of 2013, a prominent artist and writer who emerged after Occupy as a formidable, political influencer. It’s important to note that Crabapple isn’t alone in having foisted “weev” up as some kind of celebrity rebel. Other journalists committed themselves to sanitizing “weev,” too. Hopefully, like Natasha Lennard, these influencers will reconsider why they did.

We at OLAASM support Kathy Sierra. Because we actually care. We wish Crabapple and other journalists who had the opportunity to support her could say the same. Instead, many knowingly chose to lionize him and ignore her. Again – Why? ]

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The Blankest Canvas: On Art, Opportunism, Erasure & Whiteness

rauschwhitepainting51h15

“An empty canvas is full.” – Robert Rauschenberg

 

1951 was a big fucking year for whiteness. The United States, the last scion of both Western Imperialism and the white supremacy at its core, would finally fight to a stalemate on the Korean Peninsula – beating back both the Red Menace and the new “yellow peril” to the 38th parallel. But threats to the fragile reign of white supremacy’s new champion abounded.

At home, The Man From Planet X  opened in US theaters, dramatizing the collective fear of an alien invasion that would grip white Amerikkka and menace its lily-white, Enid Elliot-like daughters for the remainder of 1951 and beyond. That white panic on the big screen, however, found two real world targets – rabble-rousing commies and the black people they had allegedly duped to serve their alien agenda.

The “Second Red Scare,” already raging in 1951, was weaponized by the House UnAmerican Activities Committee, which launched its second investigation into Hollywood. Back then, “blacklists” weren’t just empty threats on Twitter made by intentional nobodies, but a reality imposed by power that threatened the livelihoods of some of our best artists. The year also saw Julius and Ethel Rosenberg tried, convicted and eventually executed for espionage. The “traitorous and disloyal” outside agitators the US was fighting in Korea, it seemed, would have to be fought at home, too.

White Supremacy, as always, reserved its most brazen terror for black people. 1951 was no different. Despite a valiant campaign led by Communist William L. Patterson, the grandson of a slave who had himself famously been arrested protesting the execution of Sacco & Vanzetti, seven black men were executed for raping a white woman in Martinsville, Virginia. Willie McGee, another black man railroaded on charges of raping a white woman, was also executed that year in Mississippi.

In Florida, Lake County Sheriff Willis McCall exercised his right to white vigilantism and summarily executed one black man and critically wounded another who were being transferred for reprosecution after their “Groveland” rape convictions were overturned by the US Supreme Court. Harry and Harriette Moore, who had organized for the NAACP in Florida and had boldly demanded charges be brought against Sheriff McCall for his crimes, were killed weeks later in a bombing at their own home that was never solved. This is, of course, why racist rumors started by a white woman that reduce a political opponent to a menacing black man isn’t a game, but that’s another story…

Ironically, the number one Billboard song of 1951 was “Too Young,” sung by Nat King Cole. Seriously. A black crooner singing about young love that others wouldn’t understand, while black men were being killed for looking at white women – that was the song on top of the charts. To end a year like that, then, could it have surprised anyone when Paul Robeson and William Patterson submitted a document called “We Charge Genocide” to the United Nations?

At last, in lesser-but-still-big-all-encompassing-whiteness news from 1951, Bette Nesmith Graham invented correction fluid in her own kitchen, making it easier for typists everywhere to “white out” their mistakes.  After all, whiteness adores erasure. Remember that. And while a dying Ludwig Wittgenstein wrote his Remarks on Colour, the coup de grâce to 1951 and its triumphant whiteness emerged when a pretentious asshole named Robert Rauschenberg began his White Paintings. Because, why the fuck not?

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