The Banality of Evil

Hannah Arendt used that phrase to describe Adolf Eichmann.

Over the course of my life time I have met a few very evil people. People who though seemingly very nice I have later learned were members of the KKK, John Birch Society or other viciously racist, homophobic, anti-Semitic or misogynistic organizations.

What is being exposed regarding the criminal conspiracy of child sex abuse by Roman Catholic clergy is a perfect example of how monstrously evil people can at once nice cultured people and at the same time do things like child rape, lynchings and the commission of genocide.

Willow has stated that she has corresponded with some of these people and they have exchanged pleasant conversations. She then extrapolates from those exchanges that other sisters view of these people as monsters is inaccurate. She cites the very confused Dr. Lawrence’s friendship with these people as an example of how they couldn’t possibly hate transsexual people without noting how the Nazis used Jewish collaborators to aid them in their commission of genocide against all Jewish people. The Nazis even had a name for these collaborators, who they called Sonder Kommandos.

The cowardice of people like Rekers and Bailey which compels them to keep their own homosexuality/transgenderism/transsexuality hidden while attacking other who are out and proud is identical to those one occasionally learns about. Like the leader of the American Nazi party who was Jewish, or the leader of Aryan Nation who was half black.

It is easy to say, “But these people were nice to me.” It is rare for people who actually have the position of power that garners respect within Academe to display the snarling vicious mind that is the mien of Fred Phelps and his cult of evil minions.

More often one finds a Martin Heidegger, someone insightful, cultured, even charming as well as vicious bigot and a Nazi.

One thing I have discovered about Janice Raymond is that her anti-transsexual ideology is motivated not by feminism but by Catholicism. The same motivator that drives Maggie Gallagher in her vicious campaign to deprive LGBT/T people the right to marry their partners.

I was raised Catholic and at an early age saw that it used religion as justification for a wide range of bigotry including vicious Antisemitism, homophobia and some of the vilest misogyny one find anywhere outside of fundamentalist Islam. At the same time the church introduced me to art and music such as Bach and Handel.

Which is the true face and is it not just possible that the smiling face of the culture is not just a mask that hides the banality of their evil?

Worlds Without Women

From the New York Times
April 11, 2010
By MAUREEN DOWD

WASHINGTON

When I was in Saudi Arabia, I had tea and sweets with a group of educated and sophisticated young professional women.

I asked why they were not more upset about living in a country where women’s rights were strangled, an inbred and autocratic state more like an archaic men’s club than a modern nation. They told me, somewhat defensively, that the kingdom was moving at its own pace, glacial as that seemed to outsiders.

How could such spirited women, smart and successful on every other level, acquiesce in their own subordination?

I was puzzling over that one when it hit me: As a Catholic woman, I was doing the same thing.

I, too, belonged to an inbred and wealthy men’s club cloistered behind walls and disdaining modernity.

I, too, remained part of an autocratic society that repressed women and ignored their progress in the secular world.

I, too, rationalized as men in dresses allowed our religious kingdom to decay and to cling to outdated misogynistic rituals, blind to the benefits of welcoming women’s brains, talents and hearts into their ancient fraternity.

Continue reading at: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/11/opinion/11dowd.html

Former Memphis cop testifies to beating of prisoner by arresting officer

This is an all too common story regarding the on going treatment of transsexual and transgender people, many people of color and almost all poor that too often gets ignored by the educated and privileged TS/TG people who do have an ounce of power and a voice.

From the Memphis Tennessee Commercial Appeal

Former Memphis cop testifies to beating of prisoner by arresting officer

By Lawrence Buser

Friday, April 9, 2010

A former Memphis police officer told a federal jury Thursday that a fellow officer’s videotaped altercation with a transgender prisoner last year was not a fight but “a beatdown” by the officer.

Testifying for the prosecution, James Swain said he watched officer Bridges “Sutton” McRae use his metal handcuffs like brass knuckles to punch the prisoner several times in the head in the sally port of the jail.

McRae, who was fired, is charged with civil rights violations. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in federal prison and a maximum $250,000 fine.

Swain said the incident began when the prisoner, Dwayne Johnson, refused to be fingerprinted unless McRae called him by his feminine name, Duanna.

http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2010/apr/09/ex-cop-testifies-of-beating-to-prisoner-by/

If You Think the Civil War Ever Ended, Think Again

Some people have taken me to task because I am an unabashedly left wing anarcha-feminist and atheist who looks at the oppression of people with transsexualism and people with transgenderism in a context that goes beyond just transphobia in its various disguises and place us into the context of being a legitimate minority class of peoples.

Thus when I hear the right wing Christo-fascists spew misogyny that would deny women the right to control their own reproductive choices I see it as part of the same ideology that condemns LGBT/T people by denying them basic civil rights and full equality.

These same people tend to be racist as well as imperialistic supporters of the tyranny of the multi-national corporations and their destruction of workers rights.

In the US this movement is fascist and takes the form of embracing neo-Confederate family values.

The Following article appeared on Alternet

If You Think the Civil War Ever Ended, Think Again

By Adele Stan, AlterNet
Posted on April 8, 2010, Printed on April 9, 2010
http://www.alternet.org/story/146366/

When I first moved to Washington, D.C., I had hardly a stick of furniture, so I boarded a bus to take me to the nearest Ikea, which was in a Virginia mall. Quite unfamiliar with the territory, I watched out the window with curiosity as the bus traveled along the chain-store lined route.

Soon I noticed we were traveling along a road called the Jefferson Davis Highway. I was stunned, and a bit sick to my stomach. How could it be that a highway was named after a man who made war against the United States, all so the citizens of his region could continue to hold human beings in chains? All so slave masters could continue to rape the women they claimed to own. The children of these unions were usually enslaved by their own fathers, often acting as servants to their white half-brothers and -sisters.

Continue reading at: http://www.alternet.org/news/146366/if_you_think_the_civil_war_ever_ended%2C_think_again

Posted in Hate Crimes, Right Wing Bigotry, Social Justice, Unequal Treatment. Comments Off on If You Think the Civil War Ever Ended, Think Again

“The Only Way to Survive is By Taking Care of One Another” — Legendary Activist, Philosopher Grace Lee Boggs

From Alternet:

http://www.alternet.org/vision/146290/%22the_only_way_to_survive_is_by_taking_care_of_one_another%22_–_legendary_activist%2C_philosopher_grace_lee_boggs

By Amy Goodman and Grace Lee Boggs, Democracy Now!
Posted on April 3, 2010, Printed on April 3, 2010
http://www.alternet.org/story/146290/

Amy Goodman: The legendary Detroit activist and community organizer Grace Lee Boggs has been involved with the civil rights, Black Power, labor, environmental justice, and feminist movements over the past seven decades. She was born to Chinese immigrant parents in 1915. In 1992, she co-founded the Detroit Summer youth program to rebuild and renew her city. Her 95th birthday is June 27th, the day after the close of the U.S. Social Forum in Detroit. [The following is a short clip of Boggs talking].

Grace Lee Boggs: We’ve got to redefine democracy, that we have been stuck in concepts of representative democracy, that we believe that it’s getting other people to do things for us that we progress. And I think that we’ve reached the point now where we’re stuck with a whole lot of concepts, so that when Michael Moore speaks about the number of people who make all this money and other people who don’t, it sounds as if we’re struggling for equality with them. Who wants to be equal to these guys? I think we have to be thinking much more profoundly.

Actually, if you go back to what Marx said in The Communist Manifesto over a hundred years ago, when in talking about the constant revolutions in technology, he ended that paragraph by saying, “All that is sacred is profaned, all that is solid melts into air, and men and women are forced to face with sober senses our conditions of life and our relations with our kind.” We’re at that sort of turning point in human history.

And I think that, talking about recovery, talking about democracy, we too easily get sucked into old notions of what we want. So we’re expecting protest. I’m not expecting so many protests. I don’t mind protests, and I encourage them at times. But what happened in 2001 in Porto Alegre, Brazil, when people gathered to say another world is necessary, another world is possible, and another world is happening, I think that that’s what’s happening.

In Detroit, in particular, people are beginning to say the only way to survive is by taking care of one another, by recreating our relationships to one another, that we have created a society, over the last period, in particular, where each of us is pursuing self-interest. We have devolved as human beings.

Learn more at the Boggs Center site.

Amy Goodman is the host of the nationally syndicated radio news program, Democracy Now!.

© 2010 Democracy Now! All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/146290/
Posted in Activism, Discrimination, Economic Issues, Social Justice, Socialism, Unequal Treatment. Comments Off on “The Only Way to Survive is By Taking Care of One Another” — Legendary Activist, Philosopher Grace Lee Boggs

Fighting for a hate-free union

By Christine Darosa

From Socialist Workerhttp://socialistworker.org/2010/03/30/fighting-for-a-hate-free-union

Christine Darosa reports on the fight of a transgender union activist in Service Employees International Union Local 1021 to remove a union supervisor from his position because of his reported prejudice.

March 30, 2010

SAN FRANCISCO–On the heels of the reform slate “Change 1021” victory in Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1021’s first elections [2] comes another victory: a supervisor in the union’s San Francisco office has been fired for what activists say is his prejudice.

Andre Spearman, one of the staff supervisors in the Union’s San Francisco office, had reportedly created a hostile work environment through a heavy-handed, top-down approach to working with both staff and rank-and-file membership, combined with blatant disrespect of the membership and staff.

Gabriel Haaland, Local 1021’s political coordinator for San Francisco, and a target of what he calls Spearman’s harassment, described Spearman as having “a very anti-membership-participation perspective” in a progressive local where the membership has historically been very engaged. In fact, Haaland feels that Spearman’s presence and conduct were part of a systematic effort to tamp down rank-and-file activity and involvement in advance of the election.

Over time, Haaland says that an obvious pattern of dismissiveness and derision emerged, though it was difficult to challenge due to Spearman’s abusive management style. As workers in the office began to share their experiences, it became clear that Haaland in particular seemed to receive an extra share of abuse due to his identity as a transgender man.

For example, when Haaland was not in the room, Spearman would refer to Gabriel as “he” in a sneering, belittling way–treatment Spearman also reserved for a transgender woman in the rank and file who crossed his path.

In November, Haaland filed a grievance on behalf of the unionized staff with SEIU management. When the grievance was ignored, he filed a complaint with the San Francisco Human Rights Commission.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

WORKPLACE DISCRIMINATION is still all-too-common for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. A 2006 San Francisco study by the Transgender Law Center (TLC) and Bay Guardian newspaper found that 57 percent of transgender people surveyed had experienced employment discrimination in some form, despite the city having had transgender-inclusive non-discrimination laws since 1994. Further, only 12 percent of those surveyed had filed a formal complaint.

Haaland, a longtime local progressive figure, has been involved in drafting protections and raising visibility around the harassment of transgender workers, and was part of the group of people who worked to get the TLC/Bay Guardian study underway.

Still, it took Haaland some time to make the decision to file the complaint against Spearman. This was due in part, he explained, to not wanting to give ammunition to union-bashers and his belief that, surely, the union could do better–but also in part to the personal difficulty of taking this step.

If deciding to file a complaint was so challenging for Haaland, it is clear how much harder it would be for people in more precarious situations or those who are isolated in their communities. With the threat of repercussions–such as job loss in a population where unemployment is as high as 75 percent–it is easy to understand why so few people might come forward.

Haaland said that when he found out that the Change 1021 slate had won 26 out of the 28 contested union positions, he knew immediately that the new leadership would be responsive to the issues raised in the grievance. He “knew and respected” the people who won, having worked alongside them in the union for years, he explained.

As Larry Bradshaw, the new third vice president of Local 1021, commented recently:

[M]ost of us that were elected to office on the reform slate knew that there were many internal problems with staff and staff management, but we had no idea that there was this sort of harassment occurring. The first we heard about it was when we read about it in the local press a couple days before we took office, and our new rank-and-file chief elected officer moved within a couple days to remove Mr. Spearman from his position in the union.

Haaland feels that Local 1021 is now returning to the “long tradition of progressive, democratic unionism” that he had signed on to when he took his job with SEIU. He also feels that Change 1021’s win is connected to the actions happening elsewhere at the grassroots–from labor to the LGBT movement to the March 4 Day of Action against the budget cuts in California.

“Things are different now in a number of different contexts. Old ways of doing things are shutting down,” he said. “It excites me…We’re winning a lot–in transformative ways, not in traditional ways.”

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Material on this Web site is licensed by SocialistWorker.org, under a Creative Commons (by-nc-nd 3.0) [3] license, except for articles that are republished with permission. Readers are welcome to share and use material belonging to this site for non-commercial purposes, as long as they are attributed to the author and SocialistWorker.org.

  1. [1] http://socialistworker.org/department/Labor
  2. [2] http://socialistworker.org/2010/03/09/sweeping-victory-for-seiu-reformers
  3. [3] http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0

Activism Inc

Serendipitous convergence might be the best way to describe stumbling on to two seemingly unrelated sources both talking about something that has been bothering me for some time.

I’ve been thinking about something for the last few years.  I describe myself as an anarchist because so much of my activism and so many of my political positions are outside of a structured activist organization.  My activism is also spread widely across many issues which makes it hard for me to feel at home in identity based politics.

Back in the 1980s I was a disgruntled professional nerd working in Silicon Gulch and I answered an ad in one of the Bay Area Newspapers looking for people who were passionate about environmentalism and progressive politics. It offered an opportunity to work as paid activists on a campaign headed by Tom Hayden,  a California State Representatives and former SDS leader.

Much to my disappointment I discovered that ads for activists that one finds in papers and on sites like Craig’s List are not looking for people to organize or do the other things I associate with activism.  Instead they are ads for people who beg for money either on the phones or going door to door, all in the name of a good cause or causes but demeaning and disillusioning nonetheless.

This was not something I particularly considered activism.

Shit happens or serendipitous convergence. Just as I am thinking about this several things come up that help me illustrate and further define my discomfort with this new form of “activism”.

Documentaries about the slaughter of whales and the decimation of the seas with drift nets that stretch for miles and are the equivalent of clear cutting forests in their environmental destruction caused me to get a couple of books about Earth First and David Foreman.  David Foreman and the people of Earth First attacked Greenpeace as corporate accommodationists more interested in professional activism, fund raising and lobbying than direct action.  As an alternative to Greenpeace Foreman suggested supporting Sea Shepard, which actually spends much of its energy going out and attacking whalers and the fishing fleets that are strip mining the oceans in an effort to leave no fish behind.

In the 1960s I was part of SDS, an extremely nebulous organization at best, particularly so after about 1966.  If you said you were a member then you were a member.  Earth First had the same organizational pattern.

I was around for the early days of Gay Liberation, Lesbian Liberation, Second Wave Feminism and yes one of the first real grassroots Transsexual Liberation and Support groups.

By 1975 so much of that was withering away, being replaced by “professionals” with degrees and careers, organizations that had big plans with bright shiny offices with prestigious addresses.  Organizations with large budgets.  Enter the new role for those at the grassroots, professional beggar.  But major organizations with prestigious headquarters do not survive on nickel and dime donations, they require the support of major donors.

At one point AIDS Project LA had a fund raising dinner for major donors and honoring Elizabeth Taylor that was reputed to have cost somewhere in the realm of a half million dollars.  It cost more than it raised and needless to say none of the out reach workers who passed out condoms to LGBT/T sex workers doing survival sex on the corners of Santa Monica Blvd were invited.

I’m not going to go into my thoughts regarding “transactivism” except to say it too seems to have strayed from its roots in various bad neighborhoods to a point that much of what we hear about seems out of touch with lumpen prole trannies.  The ones doing sex work to survive, or working in  underpaid often part-time menial jobs that have come to be the mainstay for many working class people. Transactivism with its calls to go to Washington to lobby your Representatives, come to conferences to discuss and calls to Camp Out outside the MWMF seems to assume a level of affluence beyond that of many trannies, especially those who are part of the trans under classes.

Over the last few days I have been watching the struggle going on over Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. It is crystal clear that HRC has become an irrelevant organization that is pretty useless when it comes to doing much of anything other than insuring that Joe Solmonese, is the most fashionably well dressed “activist” among the lobbyist set.

Are we really sending our hard earned dollars to HRC to buy Joe Solmonese expensive designer clothes and attend expensive events?  It all seems so corporate. Speaking of which.  as much as I love Kathy Griffith as a comedian, what the fuck does she have to do with LGBT/T activism other than perhaps entertain us?

From Newsweek:  http://www.newsweek.com/id/235290

Lt. Dan Choi, a West Point graduate and fluent Arabist being discharged from the Army for being openly gay, was arrested last week along with former Army captain Jim Pietrangelo II, after handcuffing themselves to the White House gate in protest of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. They were handcuffed with the help of Robin McGehee, a former PTA president turned activist who last week cofounded GetEQUAL, an LGBT activism group inspired by civil-rights organizations and gains made through civil disobedience.

Lt. Choi basically reamed out Solmonese and HRC for their “executive” demonstration at Freedom Plaza and their failure to support him and others who actually took their protests to the the White House fence where they handcuffed themselves to the fence and allowed themselves to be arrested.  They languished in jail overnight. Lt. Choi said that HRC failed to give either legal support or bail.

HRC was already on the shit list of many transsexual and transgender people for its willingness to support a non-trans inclusive ENDA.  Perhaps we are too lumpen and not fashionable enough for Joe.

Back in the 1990s one of the exciting things about trans-activism was the Transsexual Menace and how it had a lot in common with Act Up and the Lesbian Avengers.  Membership and participation could be had for the cost of a t-shirt and the guts to wear it.  I sometimes think that what ruined trans-activism was when privileged white late emergers became the face of it and started with all the post-modern theoretical crap.

They were divorced from the reality of prostitution, criminalization, AIDS, addiction and all the murders that were part of the lives of those transsexual and transgender people found in the under classes.

On the other hand a local grass roots organization here in Dallas managed to get numerous demonstrators together to go to a DART meeting and protest the mistreatment of a transsexual DART worker who had some bureaucratic piece of shit in Human Resources decide that they didn’t have to accept that she had SRS as well as jumping through all the hoops to legally change her sex to female.  This person decided that she had been born male and should be forever considered male.

The slogan of the IWW, an anarchist labor union back in the early 20th century was “Direct action gets the goods”.

Perhaps instead of all this high level activism that seems to get very little in results from the efforts of the well paid professional activists lobbying in Washington we should at least divide the money and devote more of it to the development of local grass roots activism and less to supporting those who aspire to live the life of the corporate shills of K Street.