In The Crossfire

On February 14, we received word of another mass shooting.  This one at a high school in Florida.  The story dominated the news for a few days and looked like it was going to go away.

The affected students had other plans though.  Using the power of social media, they built a movement that has already made some concrete results.  Several businesses have dropped support for the National Rifle Association, and Dick’s Sporting Goods announced it will stop selling modern sporting rifles, commonly called assault rifles.  My hope is that these students keep it up going into the election, but realize that they are in for quite a slog, as groups like Mom’s Demand Action and CeaseFirePA can attest.

This shooting and it’s aftermath have me doing some thinking of my own.  Much of it from the responses I have seen on social media.  Many responses from my classmates have me wondering how I was able to avoid the authoritarian “WhiteLash” that may have helped to elect Trump.  I have some ideas on that, and I plan to explore those on this blog.  The posts from non-alumni that have adopted authoritarian thinking are to be expected, and dismissed.

What concerns me is that many of my fellow activists seem to be rejecting what seem to me to be common sense reforms.  I do not see myself as “anti-gun”, the absolutists that seem to make up the NRA base may disagree with me, but I see no issue with a person having a gun for sport, hunting or personal protection.

But I also don’t see why a domestic abuser, which to me would also include child abuse, a felon, or a person with a mental illness should be able to possess a gun.  I also see little utility in weapons like an AR-15.

I think some of this may have to do with the fact that since Trump’s election, I have gotten a bit more involved with some folks who may be farther to the left than I.  I am in contact with Democratic Socialists, anti-authoritarians and anarchists, Maoists and various other radicals.  These folks may see armed rebellion as not only necessary, but inevitable.

Many believe any reforms will affect communities of color the most.  This makes sense as a logical consequence of the criminalization of  poverty and of color.  I have to say that enough people of color purchasing and licensing firearms would likely prompt Trump, with the backing of the NRA–again, to pass some sort of modern “Mulford Act”.  Find some way to limit the ability of people of color to possess and use firearms.

There’s also the argument to disarm the police as well.  This makes a bit of sense, a sort of “mutual disarmament”.  But what of the vigilante like the Oath Keeper or “Proud Boy”?  This is where even I would that the ability to fight fire with fire may be a good idea.  Why couldn’t a few activists, likely from the “black bloc”, be trained in firearms.  I would decline as I don’t think I have the temperament for such a duty.

One final thing is that I may need to realize that I am looking at this issue, like many issues, through a lens of privilege.  Figuring out how to see past that lens is a task I may not be able to do on my own.

 

 

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A Different Sort of “White Privilege”?

Last Sunday, I attended a meeting of Harrisburg’s effort to organize and chapter of Stand Up for Racial Justice, or SURJ.  In my opinion, it’s an attempt to create a satellite group for “Black Lives Matter”.

During the meeting, my attitude towards rural voters was challenged yet again.  This seems to keep happening, especially with the person who was running the meeting.

But it did get me to thinking about “White Privilege”, especially if it’s possible that whites can feel they have a privilege over each other.  Accepting that, in America, being White does bestow privilege is a major step in being an effective ally to people of color, etc.

But might those of us that are White and “woke”, need to accept that we may see ourselves as having a privilege over our more rural, and  less educated counterparts.  The subtitle of this very page may reflect some of this.

Now do I think Pennsylvania is being held back by a perhaps over-represented bloc of; White, rural, less-educated, lower-middle to lower class, male votes?  I do.

But might the younger generation be salvageable, efforts of groups like “Redneck Revolt” would say maybe.  But there may be a short window of opportunity, if these young people aren’t made resistant to “dog whistling”, they will likely become part of the ranks of the deplorable.

 

Walking The Walk?

“If you’re gonna talk the talk, you best walk the walk,” so would say my Dad.  Usually he’d be applying to an athlete.  Ali was an example of someone who did this.

It’s something that I fear may come to pass with activists.  Hillary Clinton’s  reference to some Sander’s supporters as “Basement Dwellers” may be tested should Trump win.  I worry still that many activists will believe that they can fight Trump and his supporters from the safety of, if not a basement, at least a coffee shop, etc.

On Friday, I’d like to think I showed that I’m willing to take the fight to the streets.  I grabbed my camera and headed to photograph an action by “This Stops Today Harrisburg”; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania’s branch of “Black Lives Matter” now has something to rally around as, in August, an African-American man was killed by a member of the city’s police department.

The event began at the State Capital Building, where a small group of activists gathered:

 

From there, we made our way to one of the city’s main streets.  The band Fuel was doing a free concert at a local establishment, and there the activists readied to make their move.

 

That move would be to, for a few moments, block traffic.

After the activists dispersed, they decided to proceed to the Police Station.  As the activists marched along the sidewalks, they were confronted again by officers.  These confrontations, according to one activist became physical, with an officer putting his hands on a female protester.

Was I in any danger, likely not.  While the protesters were blocking the streets, I was taking pictures.  But as we approached the station, one of the protesters said something to me that I hope more than a few Sanders/Stein/Johnson backers remember should their efforts put Trump in power: “One person in the streets is worth more than 10 Facebook followers”.

What’s Behind That Banner?

The Week of 15-22 provided many opportunities for PennLive.com to get a few clicks out of the mobile estates.  Pieces and articles on the campus protests, the attacks in Paris and Governor Wolf’s decision to allow refugees into Pennsylvania all got the “Trailer Park Caucus” to step away from their AM Radios.

There was one piece from this that stood out to me.  On November 20th, an anti-refugee rally brought about 40 people to the Capitol.  PennLive conveniently mentions at the end of the article that the group who had sponsored the event was a rebranded, racist skinhead, group.

Some local activists remarked if this had been Black Lives Matter, etc, that the headline would have made reference to their role in organizing the rally.

What I wonder, is if racist groups may see a model in a way to merge with the far right of the Republican Party.  Hide their message behind messages of fear of “the other”.

Divide To Conquer?

During the Gilded Age, well the first one, one of the “Robber Barons” of that time said that he could easily pay one half of the working class to kill the other.  He may have been referring to the ability to hire mobs to turn on labor organizes or strikers.

But the idea of dividing the working class against itself is a common tactic of the right.  In order to advance the “corporate state” that is common to the right.  Another tactic of the right is sloganeering, the campaign of Donald Trump and many of the other GOP candidates are making excellent use of this.

One common slogan is “Take America Back“.  But the question is “from whom”?   Among the “Trailer Park Caucus”, it usually means some “outgroup”; women, African-Americans, homosexuals, Muslims, Latinos, etc.  The way the American Right has set the rural poor against their urban counterparts is a great example of how racial or geographic identity can trump economic interest.

I have often said that one no longer needs to pay the working class to kill parts of itself, one just needs to advertise on the right radio or TV stations.

Whose Side Are You On?

PennLive.com has posed a simple question, “Is ‘Black Lives Matter Inspiring a New Crime Wave“?

To answer the question, I don’t think they have.  What “Black Lives Matter” to me is a response to 30 years of a “War on Drugs” that has in reality been a war mainly on two illegal drugs; marijuana and crack cocaine.   Police have militarized and poverty has been criminalized.  Combine that with years of “white flight”, urban blight and the loss of manufacturing jobs, and you have a situation that was ready to erupt.

What will be more telling is the way folks respond.  This may be yet another case by PennLive.com to get a few clicks out of the “Trailer Park Caucus” by giving them a chance to criticize a group that makes many of them confront the racism that may be merely hidden behind terms like “Taker” or “%47”.

Too Little, Too Late

After a Perry County, PA parade featured a float with a parody of the former African-American Mayor of Harrisburg, PA, a small firestorm erupted.

The “Trailer Park Caucus” of PennLive.com, took the bait and came out in defense of the float.  I wonder how they would feel if for a “Juneteenth” or “Pride Parade” a group were to enter a float with a model of a trailer park lot, complete with junked cars, hillbilly teeth and folks in mullets?

But the sponsoring group did pledge to scrutinize floats more closely, according to PennLive.com