Friday, May 05, 2006

Open Letter to the Brown Berets

A few days ago I commented on an open letter to the Brown Berets concerning their tactics. The discussion is still ragging at Santa Cruz Indymedia, some of the posts being insightful, and some entering the realm of delusional nonsense.

One of the main problems that I see with some of the posts is this assertion that the Brown Berets should not be criticized by white folks. It is a common tactic used by some leftists to deter any legitimate analysis. If you can claim that disparagement with your group is equitable with racism, you can get away with a lot of drivel.

The “Open Letter” by ‘Brian’ is pretty silly, and seems to state that the Brown Berets are not revolutionary enough. But the comments discussing the letter don’t fare much better. If the Brown Berets thinks that any time a white individual critiques their organization it is racism, they should expect to spend the next few years in continued obscurity.

Thankfully, someone from the Brown Berets discusses this letter with a level headed approach that is not often seen at Santa Cruz Indymedia. ‘Marisol’ says:

“In Brian's letter, he claimed that the Berets collaborated with the police before the second student walkout. That is incorrect. We collaborated with the students only so far as to ask them what they wanted us to do. They wanted us in certain areas in Watsonville: we were in those areas. We did not "convince" any students to go anywhere. We asked them what they wanted to do and made it very clear that we were not there to lead them, just to provide support. We have also indicated this extremely clearly to the police, the media, city officials, and anyone at all who claimed that the Brown Berets planned/coordinated/organized these walkouts. If you had attended any of our meetings, you would see that young members and guests are consistently encouraged to voice their opinions, criticisms, and ideas. When it's a Brown Beret action, we make the plans. When it's a youth or student action, we play a supporting role based on what they want from us. If they want us to keep violence from erupting between different gangs, we do that in non-authoritarian ways. If a Park Ranger says that a bridge is carrying too much weight and might collapse, we get people off of it. That is what happened in Santa Cruz, by the way. Witnesses said that they could feel the bridge shaking with the weight, and there were a lot of people underneath it. This was reported in our last meeting. I don't believe any of the above critics were in attendance.

We do accept criticism. We critique ourselves, and receive a great deal of criticism and commentary from all fronts. We are also a group of very diverse people who bring a variety of strengths, histories, and perspectives to the table. We don't have a mono-voice. I hate to disappoint our detractors, but there really is no way to pigeonhole the Berets. Right now I'm speaking as a Beret, but I would never say I am speaking for all Berets. They are more than capable of speaking for themselves. And if someone doesn't like the fact that a criticizer is the member of an "elite" class, they will let you know. One of the most irritating things about being a minority is that you are expected to represent everyone that has the same background, skin color, accent, or language as you. One of the reasons we are such an effective group is because we acknowledge and appreciate our individuals. If any of you came to our meetings, unless you were incredibly dim, you would've seen that. By the way, the Berets are multicultural, and the white members have as much of a right to voice their thoughts and ideas as anyone else. I'd say that's a bit of an improvement on society, wouldn't you?”


I still don’t care for the Brown Berets, but I am just so thrilled to find a decent post over at Indymedia. Such a rare occurrence had to be commented upon.

Totalitarian Millionaires for the People

It is official: Fidel Castro is the richest socialist alive.

I am sure Indymedia will claim this article is a Zionist conspiracy to undermine the glorious Cuban Socialist Utopia.

(info via Dean’s World)

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Bad News out of Afghanistan

Some very troubling news coming out of Afghanistan. It appears that the United States is pulling out of southern Afghanistan and giving control of the region to NATO, which has stated that its role is not to hunt terrorists.

Brian Ulrich has some comments concerning this impending crisis over at American Footprints.

Who Owns the West?

I was going to spend some time going over the letter I received from a purported member of the Brown Berets, but upon further examination of this document, I have come to the conclusion that it really isn’t worth getting into. While I still support the Brown Berets’ stance on gangs and graffiti, I think they are too caught up in their own leftist militancy and self righteousness to ever be effective politically and socially.

"Mexicans have every right to be here," said Augustine Cebeda of the militant Brown Berets de Aztlan. "This land was stolen from us."

David Yeagley, a conservative American commentator had this to say about such an assertion:

“"F—K YOU, this is still Mexico," says a popular LED-illuminated sign appearing in car windows on California highways.

The sign refers to the fact that much of the American Southwest belonged to Mexico until the U.S. seized it in 1846.

Now some Mexicans want the land back. As a Comanche Indian, I have a problem with that.
We Comanches pushed the Spaniards out of Texas and eastern New Mexico over 200 years ago. Neither Spaniards nor Mexicans ever managed to return.

Comanches used to ride across the Rio Grande every fall to attack Mexican villages, killing, scalping, plundering and carrying off captives and livestock.

‘Upwards of ten thousand head of horses and mules have already been carried off,’ wrote one English eyewitness. "…everywhere the people have been killed or captured… ranchos barricaded, and the inhabitants afraid to venture out of their doors."

The truth is, Mexicans were helpless against us. So where did they get this idea that they used to own our land?

One of their arguments is that the American Southwest is really "Aztlan," the original Aztec homeland. They say that some distant ancestors of the Aztecs wandered through here in prehistoric times.

Well, even if that’s true, what does it prove?

According to the CIA World Factbook 2000, 30 percent of Mexicans are Indian, 60 percent mestizo (part Indian, part Spanish) 9 percent white and 1 percent other. Of that 90 percent who are fully or partly Indian, some no doubt have Aztec ancestors. But how many? And which ones? Nobody knows. Spaniards and Indians have been intermarrying for almost 500 years in Mexico and the Aztecs were just one tribe out of many.

No matter. Aztec is in. On the website of the Nation of Aztlan, members of the so-called Revolutionary Council are listed with Aztec names such as Cuahtemoc and Moctezuma.”


I think David hit this issue concerning ‘Aztlan’ right on the head. This type of vague argument that the Brown Berets advance has absolutely no validity politically and only goes to reinforce their martyrdom focused ideology. So what if such-and-such people lived at such-and-such place at one point in history, does that give every group who has passed through that area ownership of it in our modern world?

This type of rhetoric does not help a single migrant laborer; it just goes to reinforce the personal self-righteousness of the Brown Berets. It is too bad the Brown Berets don’t spend more time actually improving the lives of their people.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Wise words from an unlikely source

"Everything good and helpful, when brought to extremes, can, and usually does, become evil and harmful" - Vladimir Lenin

Brown Berets = Reasonable?

Oh this is too classic! There is an open letter up at Santa Cruz Indymedia critiquing the Brown Berets and their organizing methods in the Santa Cruz area. You really have to read the whole letter; there are simply too many things to comment on! I will however pick on two comments the author (Brian) of the letter made, and how a member of the Brown Berets responded.

“In Santa Cruz on May Day, at the San Lorenzo park. A racist environmentalist carried a sign "Redwoods or Open Borders?" Despite this guy's poor analysis, some Brown Beret's attempted to pacify people who were harassing him upon his request, so as not to "distract from the speakers." Aside from the fact that the speakers were monotonous, it's disappointing to see not just tolerance but defense of people like this man.

The police told the Brown Beret's to control and clear out the pedestrian bridge at San Lorenzo Park on May 1st because there were "too many" people on the bridge. The Beret's then proceeded to thin out the crowd.

The fact that Beret's would rather tolerate the racist with the sign then cause a stir, says a lot about those organizers politics. It seems like they've swallowed some liberal-hippy notions about how we should "all just get along."
– Brian

God forbid free speech being allowed at a left leaning event! And yes, because the Berets actually considered the safety of the folks in the march, they must be reactionary capitalist pigs! So the police asked them to have some folks move off the bridge, what’s the big deal? Sounds like a reasonable request to me, and thankfully the Brown Berets took responsibility for a march they were sponsoring. Some folks on the left have got it stuck in their heads that if you ever work with your local community police department, you are somehow a fascist. Sorry to break this to you, but the police are a necessity at ANY event that gathers large groups of people in one place. The safety of our community trumps some leftist ideologues.

‘Mexicoyotl Tiahui’ of the Brown Berets responded to Brian’s criticism by saying:

“Our struggle is not a rhetorical one about what is change or "revolution," it is about making change HAPPEN in our communities. It is about improving poor peoples' lives through action and mobilizing masses of people into action such as those seen with thousands upon thousands marching throughout the region. Never has communities like Watsonville seen such political action by working people. Our involvement in marches has resulted in the most organized and powerful demonstrations seen in Santa Cruz county history and we will continue to do so.”

I may not agree with the Brown Berets and their politics, but I do respect the fact that they actually organize a march, and didn’t just ask a lot of people to come out and stand around. Perhaps lefties have not yet learned that the random unorganized march is completely worthless as a political tool for change.

But that is not Brian’s only criticism of the Brown Berets, oh no! For you see, by trying to clean up their community, the Brown Berets are actually suppressing revolutionary vigor! As Brian states:

“The other thing I overheard was mention of graffiti cleanup. To me graffiti is important to encourage rather than discourage. It's a form of defiance, rejecting the sacredness of property. It is a sign on the facade of stability that all is not well.

Sneaking around at night, avoiding the police, climbing into the oddest places to scrawl one's tag. There's a lot in that that is subversive, even if the message written isn't "radical." And certainly it encompasses using skills we all could use more practice in.

Graffiti clean-up seems more like a respect for yuppy values and a dis to taggers. There's a lot to be pissed about and defiance is something to encourage, not cover up.”


Oh for the love….thankfully the Brown Berets are not as thick as Brian.

Mexicoyotl Tiahui explains:

“We are involved in a wide range community issues including reducing gang violence that has taken the lives of so many of our local youth and empowering our neighborhoods. It is our children who are being killed or incarcerated in mass. Gang violence or gang graffiti are not revolutionary when it is being used as a tool of self-destruction within our own communities.”

I am surprised to say that I am proud of the Brown Berets and the stand they have taken against the blind leftist garbage that rules over Santa Cruz. If the Brown Berets can keep kids out off gangs and from vandalizing the city, then they are worthy of some support, even from right-leaning individuals like myself. At the end of the day, your organization or ideology is measured by what you accomplish. Brian should really think about that before he writes another article for Indymedia.

!UPDATE!

I really must stop complimenting Indymedia sites and radical organizations. They quickly prove unworthy of such praise.
I just received an email from someone who claims to be a Brown Beret, and alleges that I am an “idiot” for thinking the Brown Beret’s “negotiate” with police. Good grief. I will comment more on this email tomorrow, but I am too tired to deal with it tonight.
A nice piece is up at Likelihood of Confusion about the problems that come with passing down intellectual property to family.

There You Have It



This picture makes my previous point perfectly. Notice that he is claiming the Minutemen are the "new Klan", while wearing a t-shirt with the visage of a bloody murderer. Ironic, don’t you think?

That is not to say that I don’t find a shred of truth in his very belligerent sign, I just find it humorous that he supports one violent vigilante, and condemns another which has yet to publicly advocate violence.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

May 1st Radicals

Conservative blogger Michelle Malkin, and a number of other right wingers, are pretty pissed off that there were lots of Anti-American signs being waved across the country during the “Day without Immigrants” demonstrations. I have a few things to say about these signs, and how they get represented throughout the media.

Within every single political movement, there is going to inevitably be radical elements. If you look closely at anti-illegal immigration organizations like the Minutemen, you are going to find neo-Nazi and racist appendages. When you take a keen look at the Anti-War movement, you will find a number of totalitarian Communists and racists. Both sides will deny this, but most casual observers can visibly observe these folks in action.

Yet, I do not think that these fringe elements discount the entire movement they take part in. Just because there are totalitarian Communists in the anti-war movement, does not mean that all arguments against the war are invalid. The same goes for neo-Nazis in the anti-illegal immigration movement. If you think illegal immigration to the United States is a appalling thing, and you want to do something about it, does that make you a Nazi? Or if you are opposed to the war in Iraq, does that make you a Stalinist?

Pundits on the right of the political spectrum would have you believe that anyone who marched in the immigration related protests yesterday are socialists or reconquistas. Pundits on the left would have you think that anyone who supports boarder security is a racist and a Nazi.

Now, I do feel that folks carrying signs of Che Guevara and claiming “America is a Continent, not a Country” are downright stupid. Not only do they not represent the large number of immigrants from south of the border who do want to be Americans, but they end up hurting the very people they claim to support. That kind of leftist posturing only fuels Malkin’s fire and their own self-righteous egos. It also shows a complete lack of respect for those folks who sacrificed to get here and want to become part of our nation.

It is already bad enough that fringe ideologues in this country think they represent the movements they leach onto, we don’t need talking-heads reassuring them of their importance. Let’s push these groups back out into the outer reaches of the political debate, and let the reasonable arguments from each side come forward.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Oh the Humanity!

Indymedia Watch has some funny commentary concerning some anti-meat activists who chained themselves to a meat packing plant. They then complained that “excessive force” was used to cut them loose so that the folks who worked at the plant could do their jobs.

What I find interesting about this article at Perth Indymedia is how dissenting comments are not removed like our friends at Indybay. I may disagree with the action and the biased reporting that this article represents, but I do respect their acceptance of dissent on their ‘news-wire’. For example:

“Leftist love victim hood, in their pathetic little pseudo-culture victim hood is power. Each of them jockey energetically for the title of Most Oppressed, so they can lord it over the others. This explains to the rest of us their revolting compulsion to hysterically complain and cry abuse at the drop of the hat, while taking for granted their own right to disrupt others, damage their property and act as if they are above the law.”

Would a comment like that ever stay on Indybay? I think we already know the answer to that question.

!UPDATE!

It seems my compliments for an Indymedia site were short-lived. The article has been removed. You can read about it here.