The Mason Missile, April 27, 2021

Greetings, Americans!

Derek Chauvan, the Minneapolis police officer who, right in public view, killed George Floyd by landing his knee on his neck, was found guilty on all three counts. Still, the rash of police abuse cases against communities of color continues.

(Please let me be clear: I am not a cop-hater, I have known many great people in the law-enforcement field, and “defund the police” may not be a good slogan to use; but still, police abuse is a reality in minority communities, and people there don’t trust the police, and that hampers their ability to stop and prevent crimes.)

Ruling elites tend not to learn any lessons from when the classes successfully challenge their power over them, be it a racial minority (such as African-Americans or Hispanic-Americans)  or a social-economic class (workers, LGBTQs), or when it loses an unpopular war we shouldn’t have gotten into (Viet Nam). Instead of acknowledging the rightness of the formerly put-down grounds of the wrongness of the war, formerly dominant economic or social elites, and their political and media allies, rewrite the history of the previous decade to show the reform efforts were either wasteful or silly or criminal.

The post-Civil-War Reconstruction period was like this. It was an attempt to help newly-freed Black slaves, freed from physical slavery but without resources, to advance in the new society that was to develop after the war; resisting this were all-white state legislatures imposing “black codes” on the former slaves to bring them back under their control, and the Ku Klux Klan stared in this era. After the disputed presidential election of 1876, the Republican Party, the party of Lincoln-fearful or the growing rise of Labor agitation-abandoned the former slaves to the whims of their former masters by removing  Union troops, which enforced the reconstruction laws, from the southern states to help put down strikes of workers. Over the decades, with the rise of state Jim Crow laws and the Plessy v. Ferguson decision legalizing “separate but equal,” the historic memory of the Reconstruction era was rewritten to say that Reconstruction was a series of corrupt state governments by “Yankee carpetbaggers” misleading the poor ignorant former slaves, and of the period of “Redemption,” when “white men protected the purity of white womanhood;” the scholarly history books after the war, and the movies Birth Of A Nation and Gone With The Wind, were based on these premises.

The same is true with the period of the New Deal, the Civil Rights movement, the War on Poverty, the consumer rights movement, and the emergence of feminism and LGBTQ rights. All through the ‘seventies, the media has bombarded us with talk about “welfare bums,” excessive government spending,” “too much government control over our lives,” “regulation of business is hurting our economy,” all that. Since the formerly oppressed sectors of society-workers, African-Americans, women, gay men and lesbians-have been entering the political process and used it to their advantage,  the corporate elite, with their white-racist allies, have sought to undermine the capacity of their political organizing, and of the government’s ability to prevent abuses by corporations and racists.

You see this in state legislatures’ attempts to prevent people of color from voting, or even helping people to vote. You see this in other laws passed in legislatures trying to criminalize protests, calling any demonstration they don’t like-such as those against the Keystone XL pipeline-a “riot,” going so far as to allow drivers to ram their vehicles into crowds of protestors-and let’s remember the Charlottesville neo-Nazi march in 2012, after which a Nazi drove his car into a crowd of counter-demonstrators, killing Heather Heyer.

In other words, they learn nothing, and are thus out of touch with the reality of the world we’re in, and they don’t know or care how it affects us.

Is THIS what they have in mind for us? I believe so. Do they even think of us as human beings and their fellow citizens? Not at all; at the bottom of all this is the desire to retain and expand their power and repress anyone who stands up to them, and they expect us to be docile and just put up with it, formulating a public philosophy that glorifies suffering and submission to your rulers as virtue.

NO way! At least we have in Washington an administration taking on such injustices, as opposed to the reign of whatshisface talking all big and bad but not doing any of the dirty work himself. That’s great Biden is at least sensitive about this; but ultimately, it falls on US, the American people, to educate ourselves about our history, our economy, and our political system to learn the facts, and to organize for our rights. We’ve done it before in our history, American-most recently in coming together for each other during the pandemic-and we can keep on doing it.     

Stay safe, stay strong, and stay together! America will be free! Bye!

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Days To Honor Workers

On Friday, April 23, I joined over Zoom with my colleagues on the Board of the Philadelphia Area Project for Occupational Safety and Health (PHILAPOSH) and guests to commemorate Workers Memorial Day, to honor those workers who have been killed or injured on the job, working for their paychecks to provide for themselves and their loved ones. Over the years, PHILAPOSH has advocated for injured workers, connecting them with lawyers to help them through the workers’ compensation application process; called for “right to know” laws to help workers know the dangers of whatever chemicals they have to deal with; and trained workers on safety techniques on the job-lately the focus was on Latin-American-descended workers in the home construction industry, with materials in Spanish. During the pandemic, PHILAPOSH has been concerned with COVID-19, since such facilities as meat-processing plants have become hotbeds of transmission.

traditionally, PHILAPOSH has, every Workers Memorial Day, conducted a breakfast where we hear speakers discussing workers’ safety problems and legislative and political solutions; we also honor the memory of the workers killed on the job over the past year, along with their loved ones. After the breakfast, we would hold a funeral procession in their honor down Columbus Boulevard to Penn’s Landing, where we would read the deceased workers’ names and throw roses into the Delaware; may their memory be for a blessing.

(Please check the PHILAPOSH web site, https://philaposh.org/, to lend your support for this great organization I’m proud to be a part of.)

Coming up on May 1 is May Day, the International Workers’ Holiday, recognized as such by workers all around the globe-except the United States, where Cold-War propaganda has treated May Day like a commie-pinko subversive thing. Thanks to the work of the late Director Emeritus of PHILAPOSH Jim Moran (may his memory be a blessing), workers in the Philadelphia region are learning the real story about May Day, such as its origins in this country from the Knights of Labor’s movement for the eight-hour day, the Haymarket incident of 1886 after a workers’ demonstration for the eight-hour day, and the framing and execution of several anarchist Labor leaders afterwards. The history of the eight-hour movement and the Haymarket incident can be found in the great Labor History series, History Of The Labor Movement In The United States by Philip Foner, published by International Publishers, https://www.intpubnyc.com/ .

Workers, let us get together to learn our history-where we came from-so that, armed with  that knowledge, we can unite and build the kind of future we want, for ourselves and our descendants.

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Photo by Rosemary Ketchum on Pexels.com
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The Mason Moment, April 13, 2021

I speak about the need to still follow safety guidelines during the pandemic; the racism embedded in our society; the historical tendency to attribute internal social protests to some malign foreign influence; and the continuing need for workers to organize after the failure of the Amazon vote.

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