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The Peace Arena This site is a mix of politics, history, culture, geekery and just life as lived by an accidental Okie, who is proud to follow the progressive path forged by other Okies, including Kate Barnard, Will Rogers, Woody Guthrie and Wilma Mankiller.

19 January 2011 ~ Comments Off

Oklahoma’s good old days

Oklahoma was once a hotbed of radical labor organizing. I say, let’s take our state BACK!

If the image doesn’t display, see 1/20/2011 event here: www.snipr.com/okcprogcal


I don’t know anything about this organizer or period, so I don’t mean to imply any endorsement of violence that may have been involved.

18 January 2011 ~ 7 Comments

“This is America …” – a memorable observation, but it’s by Allen Ginsberg, as recounted by Mark Shields

Ah, the internet, so democratizing, yet so capable of the almost-instantaneous propagation of a non-fact, even with well meaning intentions.

Take this nugget going around Facebook yesterday and today like wildfire:

“This is America, where a white Catholic male Republican judge was murdered on his way to greet a Democratic Jewish woman member of Congress, who was his friend. Her life was saved initially by a 20-year old Mexican-American gay college student, and eventually by a Korean-American combat surgeon, all eulogized by our African American President.” ~Mark Shields, PBS

Except this is not a quote by Mark Shields, at least not exactly. He did say those words, but they were proceeded by a few others that are getting left out of the meme.

There was one observation that was made this week I just have to pass on to you by a friend of mine, Allen Ginsberg, who is an historian up in Maine. And he said, this week, we saw a white, Catholic, Republican federal judge murdered on his way to greet a Democratic woman, member of Congress, who was his friend and was Jewish. Her life was saved initially by a 20-year-old Mexican-American college student, who saved her, and eventually by a Korean-American combat surgeon.

I found this out by going to the PBS web site and finding the transcript of the program where the words were uttered. Something all of us need to do more often, before making that too-easy click on “Share This.” (And, as I so often have to tell my email correspondents, just because an email forwarded from a trusted friend says that the content was checked at Snopes.com, it would behoove you to make sure before hitting ‘Forward’ yourself.)

A couple of months ago, a local school got tarred by an inaccurate or exaggerated accusation of GLBT discrimination because we (myself included) all jumped on the bandwagon of decrying the discrimination before we found out whether it was indeed true. It was a national scandal — those bigots in Oklahoma were at it again! It was on Daily Kos and countless other lefty blogs, sent out by Alternet, etc. etc. The Advocate deserves a lot of the blame for that, since it did some very poor (or you might say negligible) reporting on the matter, and silly readers thought they could trust a GLBT news magazine. I hope we all learned otherwise.

You know Ronald Reagan said, “Trust, but verify” and that’s good advice. But we live in the fast food and quick copy age now, so let’s shorten that to “verify.”

In either version the quote recounted by Shields is wonderful, and I’m glad it’s getting shared widely, because this example of diversity, achievement and common cause is America. But I would prefer it get spread accurately. It’s too late, I fear, for this one to get corrected, but, while we are all committing ourselves, quite rightly, to more civil language, let’s also try to be more accurate.

13 January 2011 ~ Comments Off

Peace Arena word cloud

word cloud of this site

Click image for larger version

Generated by Wordle.net. Full-size image here.


29 December 2010 ~ Comments Off

Question for the Oklahoman re ‘What About Islam?’

This is an ad that was on page 5A of today’s paper. I wonder how much The Oklahoman charged and profited to print this piece of garbage. Yeah, I wonder that, but that’s not my question to them.

My real question is, if some similar nutcase bigot who happened to have an ad to run that was equally anti-Christian or anti-Semitic, would OPUBCO print it like they did this? Would they print it for the same price they got for this one (a full page ad is far from cheap, but maybe this “religious” group got the non-profit rate, and likely they did not pay any tax fee for the privilege of stoking hatred that will lead this state to spend a lot of money in a fruitless effort to stem the tide of diversity in this country)? Or would they add an editorial comment to the bottom like they do on letters to the editor with which they disagree? Okay, that’s three questions, and I’m barely revved up.

Note: I cobbled this image together from screen shots, so any visual irregularities are most likely mine. Click to get a larger image (you may then need to click yet again to get the full size version — it’s large and may take a while to download into your browser page.).

24 December 2010 ~ 1 Comment

Happy Christmas, you crazy country!

Happy Christmas to all my Christian friends and readers (all two of you!). This video cracks me up. It starts with Bettie Page pinup shots followed by vintage home videos of moms and kids in front of the Christmas tree, all with Brenda Lee belting out “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.” What could possibly be more American?

Nothing, that’s what!

23 December 2010 ~ 3 Comments

How I’ll get Sarah Palin and my pro-life brother to give a big donation for abortion rights

Just found out my rabidly conservative brother is sending me a signed copy of Sarah Palin’s book for Christmas. He’s also sending a copy to my other brother’s wife, who is conservative, but not very political and sweet in real life; I guess he’s doing his part to help with the lagging sales.

In the past, he’s sent me a book by Bill O’Reilly, which I tossed out with the wrapping paper and boxes. I didn’t want to even give the book to Goodwill at the risk of poisoning a potential reader with Billo’s lies and bullshit.

But I have a better plan for this year’s book gift from my Fox-News-victim sibling: The Google tells me that signed copies are going for over $100. But wait … being as I’m a godless pinko commie who will stop at nothing to destroy America, I also see that a copy of SP’s book signed by Tina Fey went at auction for over $2500. So, yep, now my quest is to get Tina to co-sign my book and then auction it and give the money to an abortion rights group here in Oklahoma.

Thanks and Merry Christmas, bro! Keep ‘em coming. Also.

14 December 2010 ~ 2 Comments

Insight of the day

“The Wikileaks saga has exposed the vapid stupidity of the celebrity press corps like nothing since the Great Clinton Panty Raid. One thing is very, very clear — they aren’t journalists and don’t even consider themselves journalists. They are celebrity public relations professionals who just aren’t as bright as the real public relations professionals.”

via Hullabaloo.

14 December 2010 ~ Comments Off

Dangerous memories

I came across an interesting “diary” blog post at Booman Tribune, one of the sites I read daily, about a memory Rosa Parks recalled of an experience she had at about age 6. It’s on page 2 of her autobiography (Rosa Parks: My Story), so you can deduce the import it had for her.

“One of my earliest memories of childhood is hearing my family talk about the remarkable time that a white man treated me like a regular little girl, not a little black girl. It was right after World War I, around 1919. I was five or six years old. Moses Hudson, the owner of the plantation next to our land in Pine Level, Alabama, came out from the city of Montgomery to visit and stopped by the house. Moses Hudson had his son-in-law with him, a soldier from the North They stopped in to visit my family. We southerners called all northerners Yankees in those days. The Yankee soldier patted me on the head and said I was such a cute little girl. Later that evening my family talked about how the Yankee soldier had treated me like I was just another little girl, not a little black girl. In those days in the South white people didn’t treat little black children the same as little white children. And old Mose Hudson was very uncomfortable about the way the Yankee soldier treated me. Grandfather said he saw old Mose Hudson’s face turn red as a coal of fire. Grandfather laughed and laughed.”

Just in case it’s not clear to the reader what this story has to do with Mrs. Parks’ arrest in December 1955, she explains: “There had been a few times in my life when I had been treated by white people like a regular person, so I knew what that felt like. It was time that other white people started treating me that way.”

I have not yet read this book, so this particular reflection by Ms. Parks is new to me. But I completely understand how something that happens to you at 6 can be one of the most critical moments in your life (go read the diary to understand the point of my title here, “dangerous memories”). Here’s my comment to the post which hopefully explains how I can say I know that for sure:

This story is particularly interesting to me. When I was in the first grade, in 1959 southern Georgia, and just starting to learn to read and write, I went to a friend’s house to play and took up a blackboard to show off my new skills. I tried to write a sentence with the word “air” in it, but I didn’t know how to spell it. The only adult in the house was the black maid of my friend’s family. So I asked her how to spell “air.”

I remember distinctly that she was ironing sheets at the time — white sheets, ironically (all sheets were white and flat back in those prehistoric days) — I remember it because we didn’t iron sheets at my house (but then, we didn’t have a maid).

Anyway, I went up to this woman and asked her, “how do you spell ‘air’?” I didn’t think anything of it, I had asked such questions of all the adults in my life and been given unremarkable but satisfactory answers. But this woman paused and looked at me with a look I can’t describe, I think it must have contained both shame and anger, and said, “I don’t know how.”

Although I had never consciously considered the racist culture around me before, in that look and statement, I was stunned into an awareness of it. I knew without a second’s thought that the reason she didn’t know was that she didn’t know as much reading and writing as I knew halfway through the first grade, and I knew the reason for that was because of the color of her skin.

I don’t remember a lot of my childhood, which was not a very good one, but I have always remembered this incident. I’ve been a activist for peace and social justice practically all my adult life, and I see that moment as the start of that process. So I know exactly what Rosa Parks is talking about here. Sometimes it only takes a second for your whole life to be set in motion.

It’s kind of crazy that I clicked over to read this diary at all and found this treasure, because I actually never read the member diaries at Booman Tribune, just the front pagers. Any member can post a diary, and such diaries that are recommended by other site members are listed in the sidebar, and I rarely notice them, much less click the links. But this diary was authored by user “massappeal” and I took a couple of writing classes with the playwright who wrote a play called Mass Appeal that was made into a film starring Jack Lemon (one of my meager claims to fame, LOL). I had kind of schoolgirl crush on him. So I thought, hmmm, could it be …? Probably not (though the Catholic theology thrown casually into the diary suggests a remaining chance), but I got something good out of that click anyway. Life is funny that way.

There are (so far) two other diaries posted by massappeal that also look at some of Rosa Parks’ history from the book.

13 December 2010 ~ Comments Off

The angry students of London: Harbingers of things to come?

In Britain, the university tuitions have been tripled, due to government austerity budgets and their version of the catfood commission and Obama/McConnell dealmaking deciding who has to pay for the bankers’ crimes (won’t be the bankers, you can bet). Students will be expected to make up the difference, basically introducing the American model of higher education where most opportunities are based on your ability to pay for them.

Last Thursday was the latest huge student action in London. There, as here, it’s the youth, the seniors and the most vulnerable who have to sacrifice so the masters of the universe can have their million dollar bonuses. But the students there don’t plan on taking this without a fight. Here’s a 15 year old who skipped class at the first action (in November) and went down to the demonstration and got himself a real education:

(transcript below)

reminds me a bit of this:

Your browser is not able to display this multimedia content.

(transcript below)

If the students respond as I hope they will, this coming decade will be very interesting.

Well, I might be in detention a week and the school might not be very happy but we sure showed something much bigger last Wednesday. K, sorry. You know, this was meant to be the first post-ideological generation, right? This was meant to be the generation that never thought of anything bigger than our Facebook profiles and our TV screens. This was meant to be the generation where the only thing that Saturday night meant was X-Factor.

I think now that claim is quite ridiculous. I think now that claim is quite repulsive. Now we’ve shown that we are an ideological as ever before. Now we’ve shown that solidarity and comradeship and all those things that used to be associated with students are as relevant now as they’ve ever been.

You know, the most incredible thing that happened on Wednesday — I went down, I thought I was gonna go down on lunch break and then get back in time for lessons. Perhaps I should have known they’d put the guy in charge of the G20 in charge. Perhaps I should have been more concerned for my life than whether I was gonna get down for lessons, but, ah, but when tried to get out and I was told it was a sterile? area by police officers standing and not letting anyone out, I thought well that’s why we need a university education. If we don’t get one we end up in police uniforms.

You know, when I was kettled in there I was with thousands and thousands of school students who’d come down with their ties around their heads and their school uniforms and yeah they were cold, who’d come down, who’d never been on a protest before, who’d never joined a political party or been involved in a political movement before, Who didn’t have any economic knowledge or political degree. But they were there because they believed in something. They were there because they believed in something bigger and they were there because they knew that either — you know there weren’t a million choices, there were two choices — either they laid down and took whatever the government threw at them or they stood up and fought back.

And so those school students who’d never been involved in anything before stood up and they fought back.

And when they were in that kettle, being kettled in by police, you know, the word went round as we were sitting huddling round fires sharing out what little food we had and the word went round, people said, we know what they’re up to. We know that they don’t think we’re a danger to the public. I’m fifteen-years old, people there were as young as thirteen. We know they don’t think we’re going to run riot though the streets of London. We know what they’re up to. They think that if they kettle us now we’re not going to come in a demonsration ever again.

Well let the word go out from today, people said, let the word go out about next Tuesday. Let the word go out about next Week, and next month and next year that they can’t stop us demonstrating. They can’t stop us fighting back. And however much they try to imprison us on the streets of London, those are our streets and we will always be there to demonstrate. We will always be there to fight.

People who had always thought that the police were just those people at the other end of the telephone line to help if there was a burglary, people who had always thought that the media were just those friendly newspaper men there to give them that unbalanced picture of the facts, people learned a lot last Wednesday. People learned a lot as they huddled round fires and then emerged from that kettle to see headlines like “Vandals” on the Evening Standard that afternoon. People learnt a lot when a police van was left in the middle of the road so that the police could tow it away and show the whole public that, look what vandals these people are. People learned a lot.

So the message that goes out from last Wednesday is very clear. We are no longer that post-ideological generation. We are no longer that generation that doesn’t care. We are no longer that generation that’s prepared to sit back and take whatever they give us. We are now the generation at the heart of the fight back. We are now the generation that will stand with everyone who’s fighting back.

The most inspiring thing, I think, was that just after Wednesday, hundreds of people joined a Facebook group, school students joined a Facebook group in solidarity with RMT members on strike. Those are people who previously thought Tubes [ subway ]strike was something annoying because it stopped them getting into school. Now they think they’ve got to link arms and fight back with everyone.

So we want to show solidarity with everyone who’s fighting back. We hope you’ll show solidarity with us and send a strong message to this government that they can’t throw their cuts at us. We’re gonna stand up and we’re gonna fight back.

Mario Savio:

We have an autocracy which runs this university. It’s managed. We asked the following: if President Kerr actually tried to get something more liberal out of the Regents in his telephone conversation, why didn’t he make some public statement to that effect? And the answer we received — from a well-meaning liberal — was the following: He said, “Would you ever imagine the manager of a firm making a statement publicly in opposition to his board of directors?” That’s the answer! Now, I ask you to consider: if this is a firm, and if the Board of Regents are the board of directors, and if President Kerr in fact is the manager, then I’ll tell you something: the faculty are a bunch of employees, and we’re the raw material! But we’re a bunch of raw material[s] that don’t mean to have any process upon us, don’t mean to be made into any product, don’t mean to end up being bought by some clients of the University, be they the government, be they industry, be they organized labor, be they anyone! We’re human beings!

There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part; you can’t even passively take part, and you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop. And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!