Saturday, July 20, 2019

Close The Camps! National Disgrace! We Do Not Consent! Heard By ICE Agents At South Portland Sit-Down As 14 Protesters Issued Citations

Michael Cutting with a warning for us all (photos mine unless otherwise noted)

Yesterday at the ICE facility in South Portland, Maine, I joined about 50 people horrified by the torture of children in concentration camps, children who are caged and denied basic hygiene after being separated from their parents and other family members.

It was so hot that my phone quit working after the first 40 minutes so I did not get all the photos I had hoped to get. The Bangor Daily News and Portland Press Herald both covered the action and showed the 14 people who sat down and refused to move until the camps are closed. They were issued citations after a long time sitting on hot pavement. My sheroes and heroes, all.

Ably led by Catholic Worker Jessica Stewart from her wheelchair, the action repeated one a year ago for the audience of Homeland Security employees. Message for this target group: "just following orders" will not excuse you morally. It will not even protect you under international law when the torture of children is finally adjudicated.

Heed our warning now: exert your moral agency, and step away from doing evil.

I was so hot that I got a migraine, and on the drive home reflected that I had failed to ask the officers if any of them were members of the notorious "I'm 10-15" closed group for Border Patrol agents now archived (with a name change) on Facebook.

Border Patrol agent Jason D. Owens with Senator Susan Collins, who has shown a great fondness for fascism since the demagogue with bad hair was elected in 2016.

The head Border Patrol agent in Houlton, Maine,  Jason D. Owens, was a member of the group before it caught the attention of ProPublica and vanished.

The group's posts regularly featured sadistic memes and jokes aimed at "tonks" which is apparently what these cops call migrants based on the sound it makes when their heads are struck with a flashlight.

In case you're wondering why we protest.

In case you're wondering why I didn't sit down, too, it's because I'm still out on bail for my arrest blocking the road at a war ship launch by Bath Iron Works on June 22.

Another member of the Inouye 22, Ashley Bahlkow, was in SoPo yesterday with her husband and their 2 year old. We were both avoiding arrest for the same reason. When I remarked on the numerous reporters present, she observed that news outlets in Maine are a lot more reticent about covering protests of General Dynamic$, which owns Bath Iron Works.

Another friend I saw that did risk arrest was organizer Mary Dunn. It was a first time for her and I was super proud of her endurance and commitment. She has been holding weekly "close the camps" vigils on Fridays in Waterville, Maine and has just recently connected with Jessica Stewart. These women are formidable and I can't imagine having better advocates for justice for children.

Elizabeth Leonard was also on hand playing guitar and leading songs to keep morale up. Based on Mary's post about the experience, it sounds like it worked.

Photo credit: Brianna Soukup, Portland Press Herald

I had worried that the group that sat down could not hear us chanting and singing because they were directly behind the exhaust pipe of a Homeland Security truck that sat idling for two hours (all of them appeared to be content to waste fuel and spew CO2 while their trucks were parked).

While the sit-down was underway, we were informed that ICE had arrested six people in Rangely, Maine. A very small town high in the Western Mountains, and the type of tourist destination that is scrambling to staff its hospitality business as the federal government continues to prosecute those willing to travel far from home to work at those jobs. Cruelty is not very rational when it comes to economics.

How many people refuse to vacation in the U.S. as they boycott the cruelty? We'll never know for sure, but I know some individuals personally who are boycotting. And I can't say that I blame them.

Maine was once Vacationland but today will break a record for hottest ever recorded in Portland. The evil empire seems determined to go full throttle off the moral and environmental cliff.

I'll keep protesting until I literally cannot continue. See you in the streets.

With my friend Jacqui Deveneau yesterday. (Photo credit: Robin Farrin)

Protest wherever you go! To order a t-shirt with my sign design on it you can click here. Proceeds go to RAICES, a legal advocacy organization working directly to support migrants and asylum seekers. Thanks to my childhood friend Rebecca Northcutt for setting that up and spreading the image around Santa Cruz, California. We are allies from coast to coast demanding: CLOSE THE CAMPS!

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Of Great White Whales And Sacred Cows: Who Dares Criticize Bill McKibben?

A certainty of my waning years is that any likely social movement is almost immediately co-opted by $$$$$$$, sometimes masquerading as the Democratic Party. I say masquerading because, even though the DNC was too racist for my parents to want to belong, it subsequently rebranded itself as progressive, socially aware, and concerned with the plight of poor people. This is a convenient mask to wear while wining and dining with General Dynamics.

The Squad in Congress who object to military funding pointing out, as Rep. Rashida Tlaib did, "These are huge checks being written to Boeing and Lockheed," are inconvenient to the ruling class. D's and R's have criticized them, while history suggests they will be wooed by many a suitor to abandon their principles. Only time will tell.

So goes life under late capitalism, with its designed-to-be-endless wars hastening climate catastrophe barreling down on us.

Climate activists have their share of Democratic Party-style apologists. Bill McKibben's recent piece in the New York Review of Books shows him doing backflips to minimize the Pentagon's role in hastening climate change, and frame the U.S. military as, not a cause, but a solution.

My good friend and climate activist Janet Weil had this to say about that:

The thing that really stood-out for me in McKibben's article was the "of course" about 800 U.S. military bases all over the world.
Of course they are! Just like seawater in the seas, or any other "natural" phenomenon. 
But we can hope for a world where U.S. military bases, of whatever number, all over the world and into space and maybe Mars someday, are fueled by renewable energy! Which is magic and comes from renewable fairies, not resources dug out of the ground and fought for/defended by...the military!

Journalist Cory Morningstar addressed some of McKibben's other points in a Facebook post on July 4:

If you don't do Facebook the See More link will not work, so here are screenshots of the rest of Morningstar's commentary:

What would real action on Pentagon climate crimes look like? Extinction Rebellion marched on Washington DC recently. They are on the list for big donations from a "philanthropist" being advised by McKibben and others of his ilk. Probably because of sentiments like this one from an extinction rebel in DC interviewed by Popular Resistance:

“I’m here because I have seen that what traditional environmental NGOs do to address climate change isn’t working,” [Dominic Serino] said.

Which brings me to the best article I've read in a long time on climate, governance, human behavior and, yes, literature: "Ye cannot swerve me: Moby-Dick and climate change" by Manuel Garcia, Jr. in Counterpunch.

Some choice morsels from Mr. Garcia's analysis:

...fossil fuels are the opiates in the addiction to war that would be the death of humanity by Planet Earth’s rejection of it.
Do we work dutifully to the death, or till cast adrift as expendable, and do we willingly follow the leader to perdition if he is hellbound and determined for it; or do we rebel, overturn the structure of command, and lead ourselves even if such freedom entails a hard life? Is humanity as a whole worth our individual pains in this effort? Or, is the idea of restructuring human civilization — and soon — to jettison capitalism, authoritarianism, and their enabling fossil-fueled militarism and marbling corruption, just a chimera that would use up our individual life forces to no avail;
We're the crew of the doomed ship. Young people are demanding we swerve, the whale is climate catastrophe, and I think we can guess who Captain Ahab is.

Ha, you thought it was going to be the demagogue with bad hair, didn't you? Sadly, it's McKibben.

If you find other authors who dared to criticize Bill McKibben's article, drop me a line will you?

Meanwhile, you owe it to yourself to read Garcia's whole piece, for the hope and optimism contained within its bitter truth.