I speak about current banking disasters, the welfare state for the wealthy, right-wing fondness for authoritarians, the right-wing attack on learning about racial and LGBTQ issues, and recent Labor activities at Temple, Penn Medicine, and Rutgers.
On Saturday, June 19, we will celebrate Juneteenth, when we commemorate the day of June 19, 1865, when Union General Gordon Granger informed former slaves in Galveston, Texas, of their emancipation from slavery, over two months after Lee surrendered in Appomattox, and over two years after Lincoln issued the emancipation Proclamation. (News of the end of the war traveled slowly through Texas; and several confederate divisions did not surrender until June 1865.) (https://www.pbs.org/wnet/african-americans-many-rivers-to-cross/history/what-is-juneteenth/)
There has been a movement to commemorate this event as the final end to chattel slavery in America, and to honestly discuss the history of slavery as a terrible historic fact. This week, President Joe Biden signed the act, passed by both houses of Congress, declaring Juneteenth a federal holiday. (https://www.cnn.com/politics/live-news/biden-signs-juneteenth-bill/index.html)
This comes amid the new Republican-conservative hysteria over Critical Race Theory (CRT), a concept, developed in the 1970s and 1980s, that looks into how race and racism affect every aspect of American society, be it education, municipal government, medical care, law and law enforcement, employment, etc., to how thoroughly racism has permeated our society and public discourse. (https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/subject_specific_writing/writing_in_literature/literary_theory_and_schools_of_criticism/critical_race_theory.html) Republican legislators and media talkers have told their followers that CRT is too divisive for our society, it makes people feel bad, and it causes white people to hate themselves. Several state legislatures dominated by Republicans have introduced bills banning or limiting the teaching of CRT in public schools, even though it’s a discussion mainly in university circles. (https://thehill.com/homenews/state-watch/551977-gop-legislatures-target-critical-race-theory) There are people who would not face the reality of racism in this country, and would not learn about or confront slavery in America and how it affected our economy and society.
This meshes with another new Republican-conservative bogie, the 1619 Project of the New York Times, named after the date in August 1619 when the first people from Africa came to Virginia as slaves. (https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/08/14/magazine/1619-america-slavery.html) Just like with CRT, Republican-dominated legislatures have introduced laws attempting to prohibit the use of the 1619 Project in classrooms as part of discussions about racism in this country. trump, in an attempt to please his base, had organized a “1776 Commission,” to call for “patriotic education” in schools and to minimize the effect and reality of slavery. (https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/jan/22/1776-commission-report-trump-administration-historians)
Of course the Republicans whine about kids being “brainwashed” and “indoctrinated” in schools by “leftist professors;” they’re projecting their own effort to turn schools and education into propaganda tools onto people who want an honest discussion about racism in this country. They don’t want any serious intellectual discussions, which would destroy their political power and their worldview. Let’s not take their “arguments” too seriously; all they want to do is hang on to their waning power. Let us continue to learn on our own, in and outside the classroom, and discuss our learning with others. Our brains, and our votes, are our mightiest weapons.
As a committeeman for my ward in South Philadelphia, and as an American, I urge you to get out there and VOTE in the general election. The last day for voter registration is October 9; the last day to apply for a civilian absentee ballot if October 30; and the election itself is on November 6. Here are the candidates I endorse:
US Senate from Pennsylvania, Bob Casey; and
Governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Wolfe.
Not only must we get out and vote, but we must do so in record numbers, to show the politicians of both parties that we the people are conscious of what is going on in our nation and in our communities, and we want to hold them accountable and not take us for granted.
Later on the Presidential elections will come up; and hopefully the Democratic party leadership will have learned not to cheat the progressive element of their voice or votes, that the progressives of the party are raising serious issues:
trade treaties that move manufacturing, and the jobs that go with them, out of local communities and cause unemployment for workers, with its accompanying sense of hopelessness;
gun violence that kills young lives;
banks receiving virtual welfare-such as grants from the Federal Reserve-while delivering perks to executives and buyout deals for incompetent CEOs;
tax benefits for corporations and the wealthy which, in spite of the myth, do NOT simulate the economy, but stay in the foreign bank accounts of billionaires;
and the racism crawling out of the woodwork, thanks to (sarcasm alert) the wonderful example set by our commander-in-chief. This list just scratches the surface.
Not only must you vote, but inform yourself of what goes on in the community an the world, so the politicians see you are paying attention to what is going on.
Independence Day, July 4th, the day where we celebrate our liberties, is tomorrow. I said “liberties;” what do we have to celebrate right now? we have a “President” who talks like some drunk in a bar at 3 AM; who brags of his deal-making genius, but has been conned by North Korea, which is continuing its nuclear program, while he called off military exercises with South Korea; who tells his supporters at rallies, “Knock the crap out of them,” and glorifies the days when you can beat up your political opponents; who, daring to call himself a “populist,” brings mockery to that idea by supporting a tax cut for the wealthy, while also supporting cuts in Social security, Medicare, and other pro-people programs; who appoints people into certain agencies who oppose that agency’s mission, such as Scott Pruitt at the EPA; who supports the separation of children from their parents, causing untold suffering to both parents and children; who makes religious and racial minorities, and fine, hardworking journalists into scapegoats for his supporters to hate-the list goes on.
Protests has come about, and are not stopping, against the Muslim ban in immigration, against the taking of the children of immigrants, against the racism he encourages, against the disrespect he has shown to women, among others. Such examples are the confronting of Stephen Miller and Krisjen Nielsen in MEXCAN restaurants for the immigration policies, marches and pickets at ICE offices-all in the finest traditions of American protest. But of course-it’s as predictable as snow in December-people would say, “You’re being too confrontational, it’s not nice what you’re doing, it plays into trump’s hands.” It’s a subtle hint for us to be quiet.
I’m sure the agitators who helped to start our OWN revolution also heard talk like this; but they kept at it, they prevailed, and so our country was formed. Our enemy must not dictate to us what our strategy should be, and we must never stop standing up for what is right, and to what is wrong.
This is serious business, and we should treat it as such; but, we must also take a break and relax, and be fresh for the ongoing fight, so enjoy your 4th.
This is Independence Day-what do we have to celebrate? We have a regime (I won’t call it an “administration”) that separates immigrant children as young as several months from the parents, as a bureaucratic form of punishment for entering this country “illegally” (which is classed as a misdemeanor).
That has never happened before, and this practice inflicts trauma upon these children and their parents-but what to the alpha males ruling our affairs care? They show what kind of big strong men they are by terrorizing people who can’t resist, talking about a “zero tolerance policy,” and have sadistic fun doing it.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions used the Bible, the Apostle Paul letter to the Romans, chapter 13, verses 1-7, (RSV) as an excuse to justify this: “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists authority resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Do you wish to have no fear of the authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive its approval; for it is God’s servant for your good. But if you do what is wrong, you should be afraid, for the authority does not bear the sword in vain! It is the servant of God to execute wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be subject, not only because of wrath but also because of conscience. For the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, busy with this very thing. Pay to all what is due them—taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due.”
That verse had always been a favorite of slaveholders and authoritarians, using some biblical justification for their domination of their subjects. It would not hold sway except for some true believers of the Leader.
(Were he to go further down the chapter, Sessions would have found verses 8-10 “Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet”; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.”)
This is the kind of thing that conservatives, who have whined about “big government taking control of our children,” have warned us about- but it’s happening to dark-skinned foreigners, so they say nothing. I’m pleased, though, that people have risen up against this; I doubt, though, if it would influence this regime from ending the practice, but hopefully, it would make people on the ground ashamed to implement such policies on behalf of their superiors up the chain. There is also institutional resistance to this evil practice, as several state governors have refused to send their National Guard units to the border for this kind of duty.
There is also publicly confronting the top officials responsible for these policies, such as the crowds shaming Stephen Miller and Kristjen Nielsen-as they ate at MEXICAN RESTAUANTS-and Sarah Huckabee Sanders being asked to leave the little restaurant. Now the conservatives complain that the officials are being oppressed and bullied-any worse than the little kiddies in the detention centers separated from their families, scared out of their minds, feeling lost and abandoned, put through possibly all kinds of abuse, not knowing if they’ll ever see their parents again? Can’t we look at THAT, Americans, and know the shameful thing going on in our name, and with our tax dollars?
With protests against unjust conditions, there are always complaints about how the protestors behave-“They’re not polite, they’re not civil, they use such bad language!” But what about trump’s line in a rally, “I’d like to punch him in the face”? His instigating violence against protestors by his fans? The incidents of white people calling the police on African-Americans for such crimes as sitting in a Starbuck’s, playing golf, napping in a dorm at Yale, holding a cookout in Oakland, mowing a neighbor’s lawn for a few bucks, selling water for money for tickets to Disneyland?
It’s as if we need permission by our conservative superiors to protest unjust conditions, from which they benefit, and the consequence of which they don’t suffer (so it’s no skin off their asses)-and such permission won’t be forthcoming. No one will give us our rights-we’ll take them. It’s just a way for them to not deal with it-but there are people who deal with it every day, and they won’t take it anymore, and will let everyone know they won’t take it.
Again, let’s discuss “big government“-the boogie of right-wing propaganda for decades, since the New Deal and beyond. This is the scare used when the issue is using the mechanism of government, local, state, or federal, to restrict the ability of corporations to swindle consumers and oppress workers. Added to this is the Labor movement, the institutional gathering of workers for their mutual benefit, to prevent corporate bosses from forcing workers into long hours, in oppressive and unsafe worksites, for merger pay.
With the Janus decision of the Supreme Court-which says workers who don’t want to be in a union do not have to pay the “agency shop” fee, but would still be protected by the union-The ability of unions to protect workers is in trouble. But do we take it lying down? No, we organize, just like our forbearers did a century ago, in the face of company thugs, police and militias, and hostile courts, judges, and governments. We have a history and tradition to draw our strength from.
Indeed, activism abounds throughout the nation against the trump agenda-and NO, I will not show him any respect! Along with the protests against the immigration policies along the border, there are protests by high school kids against the gun violence they witnessed, when they had to see their friends killed by gunmen who had too easy an access to an AR-15, and the #MeToo movement of women who refuse any longer to put up with sexual harassment from rich and powerful men. The Labor movement can tap into that energy, and once again be the insurgent force our plutocratic masters fear it to be.
On Sunday, August 13, I joined other community members at a rally at Julian Abele park, 22nd and Carpenter streets in South Philadelphia, to protest the violence, by racists and neo-fascists, in Charlottesville, Virginia. Here is the story: a “Unite The Right” rally took place in Charlottesville, around the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, to resist the movement to remove statues of Confederate generals from public sight,. originally set up to glorify and sanitize the ‘Lost Cause” of the Confederacy, the regime which committed treason against the United States for the sole purpose of keeping one race of people in slavery, in a status resembling that of cattle.
The neo-fascists were ready for violence; that is part of fascism, the physical and legal beating down of opponents. They marched down the streets of Charlottesville chanting “Jews will not replace us,” and the old Nazi slogan “blood and soil.” They were accompanied by the rightist “militias,” guys who parade around in camo carrying assault rifles like they’re going to invade somewhere-another frightening phenomenon.
Like schoolyard bullies-such as the current inmate in the White House-they taunt their enemies, hoping the enemies attack them to they can beat them up. Photos of the marching neo-Nazis have gone all over the internet, and they have gotten in trouble with their families and employers; know their name, and spread their shame.
Yes, there was a fight, there was violence; how can you not react to when someone yells about wanting to kill you because of your race or religion? In the incident, one young woman, Heather Heyer, was killed when a car by one of the racists rammed into the protestors. Also, two Virginia State troopers, Lt. H. Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates, died as their helicopter crashed while they monitored the march. (May their memories be a blessing.)
And how did our Commander-in-Chief react? How did he heal thenation’s woulns? He got on TV and acted live all parties, ne-Nazis and protestors, wre equally responsible for violence. That was good news for the white nationalists-neo-Nazis, like David Duke and Richard Spencer, who felt confident that the President of the United States is on their side.
SHAME! There is NO moral equivalence between the racists and neo-fascists one the one hand, and the fine people protesting them and the hate and violence they stand for. The same capitalist class, such as the CEOs populating his manufacturing commissions, has abandoned him-remember, for all his populist talk, trump is one of them-has abandoned him. The military brass has repeated how their forces would never tolerate racism and bigotry in their ranks. The real opposition party in this country is an alert, aroused public, allied with a vigilant news media with backbone; THAT is how we’ll get rid of trump. And so what if Pence talks over after trump? We’ll study, protest repeat against Pence also.
The Mason Missile
The E-newsletter of
John Oliver Mason
May 10, 2017
Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
I have been celebrating May Day, THE international day honoring workers and our achievements in organizing for our rights, and what we accomplish if the workers stand together and fight the bosses and their political minions. I have been active in these campaigns-don’t worry, we’ll still have Labor Day in September.
The origins of May Day are in the struggles in this country for an eight-hour working day, led by the Knights of Labor. The American origins of May Day have been obscured by the appropriation by the Soviet Union, China, and other Communist regimes of revolutionary culture to further their ends, which have not been revolutionary; it gave the regimes the appearance of being radical and revolutionary. Now, the truth has been coming out, and I urge you to look up the web site, maydayusa.org. (This raises the question: what other things have we been lied to about, in schools, media, and politics?)
We need to have such solidarity in these times of trump as our “president,” and I have NO obligation to show him ANY respect! A woman was arrested for laughing at Attorney General Jeff Sessions-laughing! Political satire, laughing at the doings of our elected (by whom?) officials is a venerable American tradition; currently, we have seeing a new golden age of it, with the work of Trevor Noah, Jon Stewart, Samantha Bee, and Stephen Colbert-who recently faced trumpist howling after a great monologue.
“Fake News,” one of trump’s favorite lines, reminds you of one of Hitler’s favorite insults, “lugenpresse,” “lying press,” against the news media of his day. The news media is not perfect, it is more corporate-slanted towards what is acceptable or palatable to corporate interests; but it so far has helped in keeping an eye on the trump regime and how the trump family-including Jared Kushner, the son-in-law-in-chief-have used these connections to further their business interests.
The Republicans in the House of Representatives (of whom?) finally passed the trump “alternative” to Obama’s signature law, the Affordable Care Act, and are celebrating that heroic act of stripping health insurance from millions of Americans, while providing another tax break for the billionaire class. All through the Obama administration, Republicans have tried SO hard to have it repealed, even though the Obama plan in partially based on the plan in Massachusetts while Mitt Romney (no Trotskyist he!) was governor.
How much did racism play in the Republican crusade against “Obamacare”, which is a term Obama himself wore as a badge of honor? It was from the debates over health insurance that near-riots and threats emerged during congressional town halls in 2009, and I was sure then that some group or agency was behind this; lo and behold, it turns out the tea party movement is what is termed an “Astroturf” movement (as opposed to a ‘grassroots” movement), artificially created by corporate interests, in particular the Koch brothers and others.
The Republican Party establishment has long looked for foot soldiers, along with the plutocrats writing the big contribution checks, to do their voting, show up at rallies, yell at and intimidate their opponents, hand out leaflets on the streets, and fold and mail said leaflets. In the 1970s through the 1990s it was the religious fundamentalists, led by Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson; now it’s the tea parties worked up about supposedly being taxed to death to pay for lazy welfare recipients, who are, in their mind’s eye, people of color.
Now, the foot soldiers have taken over the general staff; Republican leaders, no matter how conservative they have been, are not conservative enough for the Republican base. This is why the republican rank-and-file cast aside politicians, who actually have occupied political office and have strong conservative programs, for a reality-show star whose political leanings consist of his own publicity, whose business record is one of bankruptcies and not paying contractors, who allowed a foreign power to assist him in his campaign and thus undermine our elections and what remained of our democracy.
What are we to make of the trump voters? Are they frightened people worried about the fate of their nation, disgusted by our political elite, and therefore waging a “populist” movement? Or is it a collection of infamous racists and bullies, who enjoy his calls for banning Muslims, his contempt for women, his supporting violence against his enemies?
It’s all on video: the punching of protestors at his rallies, the racial slurs spouted by the attendees, the racism and anti-Semitism, and the Confederate flags, on display. It’s not being “elitist” to call out people like this; it’s telling the truth, and it’s calling for challenging the racism that has been a pre-existing condition in our country that needs to be cured once and for all. We must plainly tell any fellow citizen, most particularly any working person, who engages in violence against Muslims, African-Americans-LGBT people, or any minority, “Brother, sister, you’re+ wrong to do this. It’s not worthy of an American.”
Since the Civil rights movement, so much has been made of the ‘white working class,” as if they are one homogeneous group, violently opposed to any minority group-women, African-Americans, Hispanics, LGBTs, what have you-asserting their rights. Commentary I have heard says that the Democratic Party lost its way, made a big mistake, by seeking the votes of these former outgroups, and neglecting the “white working class” voter.
Is this true? Should, therefore, the needs of the former outgroups be ignored so that the party could attain once again the “white working class” voter? Is this an either-or situation? I don’t see the logic in this idea.
This bifurcation, if it truly exists, is not inevitable. Due to my education in Labor Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, I have learned that issues of race and class in this country are inseparable; the Civil Rights leaders of the 1960s-Martin Luther King Jr., A. Philip Randolph, and Bayard Rustin-sought the labor movement as allies in the struggle for equality for African-Americans, the vast majority of whom are working class, just as Americans in general. The March on Washington For Jobs and Freedom of August 1963-where Dr. King gave his “I Have A Dream” speech”-pointed out the problems the nation faced with racial and economic inequality. Civil rights Activists worked closely with progressive Labor groups, such as the Congress of Industrial Organizations, and King worked with the United Steel Workers of America (USWA) and the United Automobile Workers of America (UAWA) under Walter Reuther.
Randolph, leader of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, brought together over 800 trade union and civil leaders to take part in the march, along with the International Fur and Leather Workers Union (IFLWU), the Seafarers International union, and several public sector unions, all with an interracial membership. Along with this Randolph and Rustin organized a group of economists, trade unionists, and civil rights activists to draw up the “Freedom Budget,” released in 1966, which called for job-creation programs to combat unemployment, a guaranteed annual income for poor families, and increased federal spending on schools, eradicating slums, and public works.
I have just come from voting in the local elections here in Philadelphia-District Attorney, Controller, judgeships-mundane stuff, but these offices it most directly affect our lives, and this is where Presidents, Senators, and other officials get their start. It’s at this level where we begin to know the kind of elected officials they would be, and it’s where progressives needs to start to bring the party into a more people-oriented direction. Plus, people coming out for such unexciting races as for township supervisor, county commissioner, and city council-member sends a message that we the people are paying attention to the affairs of our community, and are willing to hold our officials accountable.
This is something we must continuously work on-especially in this dangerous era-for the sake of our children-bye!
There are still those who say the Confederacy was a noble cause, and downplaying, WAY down, the fact that it was all about maintaining a slave system and giving poor whites the illusion of having someone to feel superior to. This is nothing to be proud of. The Confederacy was a racist, class-based, oligarchic system that needed to be destroyed.
Tea Partiers Hold ‘Pro-Confederate Rally’ on MLK Weekend (Video) | Americans Against the Tea Party