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Indymedia: sacrificing people of color, promoting Nazis

What mainstream media is to the checked out middle class, Indymedia is to the middle class activists in portland, duh.
Hi folks,

How sad that this site only talks about race when there is an extreme outside threat, like Nazis.

Here's the deal, Indymedia was racist before the Nazis showed up. And it wasn't a malcious or concious thing, but something that comes from being a white person in a society that never challenges white people to think hard about race.

Has it occured to anyone that people of color/racialized activists were not really posting about their issues on Portland Indymedia even before this issue?

Does anyone else recognize that by allowing all these Nazi's to post under this hollow and sad "Free Speech" banner we are only silencing people of color and further making this page hostile to their issues? Hello?

Here's how it breaks down:
US society is based on privilege, privilege is accorded to men, whites, straights, elites at the Expense of women and trannies, people of color, queers, workers and the poor.

Whiteness like the other privileges, makes white people like me assumptive and oblivious. Assumptive in thinking that our ways of organzing, holding demonstrations, and creating alternative news wires are "Normal". We assume that what is news to the middle class, white activist scene is news to Everyone, including people of color. This means that when working class and poor whites, and people of color want to participate, they have to conform to our Normal Newswire by not talking about race and class discrimination that they face everyday. Its just not something that's comfortable to do, or accepted.

All issues we work on impact people of color more severely then whites, but how many campaigns actually talk about race oppression in the US? how many Indymedia posts did before the Nazis?

We whites can only be actively building a multiracial movement for justice when we build relationships with people of color that are open to hearing about their personal experiences of racism and when we as whites make race central to our organizing as well.

There is no such thing as an issue that is not racialized.
People of color are ALWAYS impacted worst by each issue you can think of.

The problem is that whiteness hurts white people by making us mostly oblivious to racial oppression in the US cuz we don't have to deal with it on a daily basis. So we don't racialize our news, or our issues. White activists looove to say that race doesn't matter, that everyone is exactly equal.

I also heard from a friend who attended the Indymedia meeting on racism that the Indymedia collective is all men.
I think that effects this. How sad that so many people are in favor of free speech at the expense of creating a hostile environment for people of color.

But in the end, its not like this is a big venue for people of color activism news anyway.

But in the white activist community we would never tell a feminist group that gender doesn't matter that everyone is exactly the same, no, we believe that women experience specific forms of social oppression. But because we don't have to deal with race, we are privilieged racially.

its time to wake up and take a stand against the hate posts. those of you who promote free speech at the expense of silencing others should be ashamed. this means you indymedia, especially.
Hey, We're Talking! 24.Dec.2001 16:35

andy

I'm glad we're finally talking about racism on this site. I tried to bring it up a while ago - see  http://portland.indymedia.org/front.php3?article_id=4625. I'm fairly new to pdx so I won't go into if there were discussion of race on the site before.

The threat of skins was always around - even before pdx imc. I see now a lot of people reacting when they should have been acting before - but its cool because its all part of our learning. Its important to keep in mind that we're all humans - deep down we know whats right and whats wrong. All the other stuff - that's just labeling from society and our thinking and it messes us up.

I hope all this energy that's come out in the criticisms can work itself to something good and positive.

Reframing the Argument 24.Dec.2001 19:36

starfire

In response to some of this, and I too am glad that we are finally talking about this, I agree with a few issues brought up here:

1) Indymedia should be connecting with people and groups of color in Portland and elsewhere more intensively.

2) US society IS based on priviledge, and the people who use indymedia are priviledged to have access to computers, whether at their home, office or library. This priviledge however, also allows people of color to have a voice, this is one of the things this website could accomplish, and many who volunteer with indymedia hope this is achieved, among other things.


However, there are also things in this post I believe to be incorrect, and this misinformation I feel the need to correct:

1) Indymedia is not made up of only men. Come to a meeting sometime and this will become apparent. And everyone who contributes to indymedia is part of indymedia, including yourself. And I know for a fact that there are many who contribute articles, and report stories to the newswire that are not men.

2) It HAS occurred to activists that there were few postings about issues involving people of color, although if you remember the issues surrounding Mejia Poot, there was good and constant coverage of the events involved in his murder and following his murder, both on the features and the newswire, and there are other examples as well. Farmworker's Rights is another example. We talked about ways to reach communities and have not worked hard enough in doing this outreach. We are all volunteers and are doing the best we can.

3) If there are hostilities created by the posts that are made by the neonazis, there is a comments section that allows dialogue. From what I've seen, this dialogue is often well thought out, and makes the neo-nazi posts seem ridiculous. I think the comments to these posts are more valuable in exposing the idiocies of the neonazis' argument than anything else could be, including deleting the posts... which would just further the propaganda campaign in my opinion...What are we afraid of? We don't agree, and others that might agree probably have a better chance of seeing the foolishness of the neonazi argument by allowing posts to remain and be responded to by intelligent, thinking individuals.

4) There are no "rules of participation" or conformity that people who post to the newswire have to abide by, other than not advocating criminal activity in time, manner, or place. There is no reason why any post could not address class or race discrimination, and in fact many posts do. In fact, if there were a post advocating discrimination and VIOLENCE against a particular group, it would be removed from the front page newswire, or "hidden". But this has not happened.

5) While it is true that many ( not all ) issues we work on impact people of color more severely than whites, it is NOT true that few posts on indymedia actually talk about race oppression in the US. There are many posts and features on all the indymedia sites that speak to this issue.

6) While it is true that we are not doing enough to help with the active building of a multiracial movement for justice, and more definitely needs to be done, locally and nationally, it is not true that we are oblivious to racial oppression, nor that there is no openness to hearing about the experiences of people of color regarding their personal experiences of racism, nor that we do not try and "make race-related issues central to our organizing".
We are not doing organizing, by the way, we are doing reporting, and providing a forum for others to report their experiences and to relate their/our perspectives to the world and to this community.

7) The issue of favoring free speech "at the expense of creating a hostile environment for people of color" is interesting. I have a hard time believing that this site is a more "hostile environment" than the world that we live in today, especially since everyone's voice can equally be heard here. I am sorry that this is the way the argument is being framed, but I sympathize with your perspective.

I hope you continue to "rise up and take a stand against the hate posts" here on this site.

And I hope this dialogue continues.

~starfire

rebuttal 24.Dec.2001 21:48

deva

<<<What mainstream media is to the checked out middle class, Indymedia is to the middle class activists in portland, duh.>>>


mainstream media controls everyones expression and there is no opportunity to change it

indymedia is wide open to anyone creating what they envision. . .you could, for example, go out and cover a story pertinent to people of color and post it up on the newswire, and some of us involved with writing features would be very happy to use it to make a feature on the issue. . .likewise, you could make the feature yourself and i and others would be happy to assist you to do so

and since you seem so determined on the issue, i would assume you must know the various communities that are not currently represented on indymedia, so perhaps you would be a good person to make a difference in that regard

the tools are here in indymedia to make of it what you will, and that is completely different from mainstream media

it is up to people like you to put in some effort to help fulfill the vision of indymedia

there are currently a handful of people in the editorial group who write features and newswire stories and they can only do so much.

lets see
Dec 19 - Feature on Labor organizing for Home Care Workers (who are mostly women and or people of color)

Dec 19 - Feature on Nurses Strike

Dec 18 - Feature on Mumia Abu Jamal

Dec 17 - Feature on Ramona Africa rally with background on MOVE

Dec 15 - Feature on PCUN and the toy drive for laid-off Pictsweet workers (people of color)

Dec 06 - Feature on Race: The Tenacity of Racism

Nov 27 - Feature on RAWA (Radical Women of Afghanistan) and how they are being excluded by the US

Oct 24 - Feature on PCUN victories

Oct 16 - Feature on ex israeli prime minister Barak's visit and the protest in support of Palestinians

Oct 11 - Feature on Pictsweet workers

Sept26 - Feature on Pictsweet/PCUN

Aug 17 - Feature on PCUN

Aug 16 - Feature on distribution of bicycles to migrant workers

Aug 08 - Feature on Farmworkers

Aug 04 - Feature on Farmworkers rally and march

July19 - Feature on Big Mountain

July 5 - Feature on Pictsweet

June17 - Feature on National Walk for Farmworker Justice

June 3 - Feature on Pictsweet

May 30 - Feature on march and rally to protest the killing of Jose Mejia Poot

Additionally there have been various features on other labor issues that are relavant to people of color who are represented in that business, features on homelessness and dignity village, issues of globalization and the global south, protests in indonesia and okinawa, the SOA and its role in terrorism of Latin America and so on

sure, more can be done, and should be done, but that is true on many fronts, not just race. . .there needs to be more people involved with indymedia, and the editorial group is working with steady determination to bring that about.

At our last general collective meeting, there were 5 women out of 14 people

People contributing to indymedia do reach out to other communities in the area. Doing so does not insure success. For example, at the Alternative Media Convergence, the organizers asked The Scanner (The Black Community paper) to participate. They declined. There are big divides that take time to bridge and just because you dont see results that are sufficient for you (they are not for me either), does not mean people do not put in effort.

i for one, do not accept the guilt trip you try to lay on indymedia - i don't feel guilty about these issues, nor at the effort i put in - if you feel guilty, positive action is the best cure

Indymedia does NOT support nazis, indymedia is NOT hostile towards people of color, and while there is always room to improve, indymedia is healthy, is growing and moving forward and most certainly welcomes the efforts of anyone who wants to help further its vision

In response to local organizer 24.Dec.2001 22:49

Jim Lockhart jimlock@inetarena.com

With all due respect........
It really seems to me that you would be a whole lot more effective as a communicator if you'd check out your facts, at least a little, before you run your mouth.
Perhaps there are those who would disagree with my impression of you, but it seems that you are so quick to accuse, so intent on finding fault, so resolute in moving your particular agenda forward, that you have sacrificed most of the components necessary to considerate and prudent communication.
Attending one meeting of a particular group can hardly give one a clear idea of the demographics and philosophy of that group. Especially if only a small number of the entire membership of that group was present. Especially if you weren't the one in attendance.
There were so many holes in the piece you wrote above that it actually let the light out, not in. I'm writing this in hopes of perhaps helping you become a little more effective in performing a task which it seems important to you to attempt: communicate a perspective that others might find illuminating and assist them in their efforts to make the world a better place.
Your consistant tone of condemnation and self righteousness despoils anything of value you may have to contibute. At least to me, who can only speak for myself. The folks at that meeting found common ground and began forward movement. Your comments about indymedia being only white males people is a thinly veiled sexist racism. People are people, and you're going to get a hell of a lot more benefits proceeding from the premise that we are all trying to do the right thing, than from the premise that somehow we are crippled and blind by being white males.
How exactly does your rant contribute to the progress made by folks who have widely opposing viewpoints, but in spite of this have elected to work together towards a common goal? My impression is that you wish to dissolve some of the problems facing the community. You might begin by having a little more faith in the members of that community and seek to assist in positve motion forward rather than biting at the heels of those who are attempting to ahieve something positive.
A couple other members of the collective have taken the time to set you straight on some of your facts. I hope that you have taken these in the spirit of community and dedication to truth in which they were given.
Let me add one thing: By ranting at indymedia you are actually ranting at yourself as well. Indymedia is the community in operation; it's achievements and it's failures reflect those of the community. It serves no constuctive purpose to be laying things at our door that can only be resolved by community participation.

Let's Have Some Clarity 25.Dec.2001 07:22

Concerned Portland Antifascist

This is a long post, but I ask everybody concerned to please read it carefully, with an open mind.

First of all, no-one is condemning anybody. We are having an argument, yes; and it's become rather heated-- AGAIN -- yes.

But what's going on here is a difference over what's good for the movement as a whole and what's good for Indymedia. Nobody's accusing the editorial collective of being racists or anything. It's not about personality or turf or egoism. It's a difference over policy, a disagreement over who should have access to our community resources. It's a difference over a matter of principle, over who gets included by Indymedia and who gets excluded.

I can only speak for myself, but feel I probably express many other local activists' thoughts when I acknowledge -- and express my deepest appreciation for -- all the hard work that members of the Indymedia Portland editorial collective put into maintaining a high-quality movement news source. I especially must express my enduring respect for Deva.

But let's get some things straight: Local Organizer's post is long overdue and has made some important points that the Indymedia editorial team had better take to heart. If you let your ego and your defensiveness get in the way of hearing what this comrade is really trying to say, and dealing with it, Indymedia Portland will quickly become irrelevant to a large and important wing of the movement it originally set out to serve, and irrelevant to entire populations and communities in Portland that I believe Indymedia hopes to work with and be more representative of. I would hate to see that happen, and I'm working very hard and taking time away from my holidays and my other organizing work to try and keep it from happening.

Deva: In your rebuttal to Local Organizer, you said:

"I for one, do not accept the guilt trip you try to lay on Indymedia - I don't feel guilty about these issues, nor at the effort I put in - if you feel guilty, positive action is the best cure

"Indymedia does NOT support nazis, Indymedia is NOT hostile towards people of color..."

This shows me you are missing Local Organizer's point. I don't believe s/he is saying that the Indymedia Portland editorial collective is EXPLICITLY RACIST or EXPLICITLY PRO-NAZI. Or that the editorial collective is HOSTILE TO PEOPLE OF COLOR.

WHAT I'M HEARING IN L.O.'s POST IS THAT THE INDYMEDIA EDITORIAL COLLECTIVE -- BY ITS INACTION, BY ITS "FREE-SPEECH" EXCUSE-MAKING AND ABDICATION OF RESPONSIBILITY OVER THE GENERAL ATMOSPHERE OF THE SITE (especially the newswire) -- IS *ALLOWING THE NAZIS TO CREATE A HOSTILE ENVIRONMENT* FOR WOMEN, PEOPLE OF COLOR, JEWS, QUEERS, ANTI-RACIST ACTIVISTS ("RACE TRAITORS"), ETC. An UNSAFE environment.

I'll try and explain: Coming from a trade union background myself, I'll use an analogy from work:

The definition of harassment/hostile environment: Federal law about workplace harassment defines harassment as anything that creates a hostile working environment. For example, racist graffiti on a jobsite. Somebody who makes racial slurs at or around coworkers. Male-oriented softcore pornography hanging in a break room at a mostly male workplace. Anything like that would create an environment where some workers would feel unsafe, or at least devalued and unequal. That's all it takes for it to be illegal harassment. It doesn't take overt threats of physical harm, it doesn't take "sleep with me or you're fired". If someone is made to feel threatened or unsafe, or simply uncomfortable enough that it causes them to have a hard time keeping their mind on their work, even by unintentional acts, it is considered harassment. It is considered an onerous, unsafe, hostile working condition.

And under these same anti-harassment laws in employment, the employer is deemed the responsible party. If a complaint is made against the hypothetical racial slurs or porno posters, it is the employer's affirmative responsibility to correct the situation, i.e., discipline the worker making the slurs, see that the "girlie pictures" are removed and not put back up, etc. Management must resolve the problem immediately, or face severe, legally-mandated penalties. Companies that allow such violations to continue face losing government contracts and being fined so heavily that it would put a lot of contractors out of business.

This is what Indymedia's hardworking and dedicated editorial collective needs to get into its head: Maintaining a working environment that is friendly and cooperative is primarily your responsibility. It's not the responsibility of the people who use the site to correct violators. Only you can correct the hostile environment, because only you control the technical mechanism to do so, and you are empowered to set policy. In this case, you are the MANAGEMENT of Portland Indymedia.

If people are posting even disguised anti-Semitic or racist material here, it creates a hostile environment for others who belong to targeted groups. If the posters of the objectionable (though disguised) material are part of an organization that's bringing Tom Metzger here to speak (and anybody who has any doubts about Metzger's nature should go to his White Aryan Resistance homepage at www.resist.com, and click the "Racist Cartoons" link) -- no matter how "pro-worker" or "radical-environmentalist" or "multicultural" or otherwise left-wing they try and make themselves sound -- they are engaging in harassment of people in the ethnic or other categories they are targeting.

And the editorial collective is responsible for this harassment. You are (to use a word I really despise) liable for the hostile working environment that is thereby created, not only on portland.indymedia.org, but also outside of cyberspace in the actual activist community in Portland at large. You are responsible for the dissension the Nazis stir up between natural allies and comrades, the working relationships and personal relationships that may be damaged, etc., because you are allowing them the forum in which to do so.

Having said that, I want to emphasize one more time that nobody is blaming you or condemning you -- at least not yet. I think we all recognize that this whole controversy is taking place around issues for which there are no easy answers. We all recognize the hard work you all put in building and maintaining Indymedia Portland and what a service this is for our social justice activist community. We appreciate and support you in your work.

But wake up before it's too late -- before the activists around here write off Indymedia as anything that's useful in terms of communicating with each other. Look at it this way: The people Indymedia Portland was set up to serve -- and the activists you want to be allied with -- are telling you that the Nazis have made the site into a hostile environment. You risk losing your alliances with them unless you act. It boils down to this: do you prefer an alliance with the activists who are asking you to make policy changes and exclude the harassers from our online community, or do you prefer an alliance with the Volksfront?

Now, as for Jim Lockhart's last couple of posts on this issue:

Jim, pull your head out of your ass and think. The response you made to Local Organizer was condescending, abusive and dismissive of the legitimate issues s/he raised. S/he is talking about privilege. Unless you are entirely against a free and equal society you cannot dismiss the fact that whites are privileged in this society, men, middle class people, heteros, etc. Your attempt to label this comrade as a racist/sexist for bringing up the fact of systemic, institutional privilege within the capitalist system makes you actually look quite like a proponent of the types of arguments Volksfront makes on its website.

The only intelligent thing you bothered to say in your whole reply to Local Organizer was the following:

"The folks at that meeting found common ground and began forward movement."

That much is true.

I was at the meeting, and for the last half of it I was sitting right next to you, so I know what went on there. Feelings were running high. When that meeting started, the two positions were extremely polarized. Some people on the one "side" were calling people on the other "Thought Police," while certain folks taking the other position were referring to the good people on the other "side" as "Nazi Collaborators." After an almost five-hour meeting, we worked out a compromise solution that everyone present characterized as an "adequate, workable first step forward", but nobody was entirely satisfied. But at least, by that meeting's end, it felt like we were all back on the "same side".

So what did you, in your wisdom, do? You immediately went home and -- in a response to Soledad's post entitled "Indymedia Anti-Racist Response" in which she fairly and accurately reported the decisions made after five hours of hard work, negotiations aimed at healing rifts in the Portland progressive activist community and maintaining our unity, rifts caused by Indymedia's mistake of allowing Volksfront an unqualified forum for their hate propaganda -- you denounced our original position (which we had moved from, hence the tentative "first step" agreement we had reached) and called us "Thought Police" all over again!

We no sooner put a band-aid on the wound, before you tore it open again.

Jim, in that same comment, you let loose with this jewel --

"I don't at all agree with the Volksfront perspective, but I believe that they are entitled to it. They are entitled to it up to the point where their speech becomes action, granted a very subjective distinction, which we will be working on defining. They are entitled to it up to the point where they encourage violence against any other living being."

-- when not 12 hours earlier, prior to that fateful meeting, Volksfront had posted an article entitled

"Hang Mumia the Murdering Scum! Remember [Philly Cop] Daniel Faulker!"

This piece was subtitled "While every [sic.] cheers for the murdering bastard mumia, daniel faulkner and his family are forgotten, MUMIA MUST DIE, that worthless piece of shit".

Now, Jim: Unless in your view, Mumia Abu-Jamal does NOT qualify as "any other living being", or, for some reason, the above admonition to lynch him ("legally" or otherwise) DOESN'T MEET YOUR CRITERIA as "encouraging violence against" another life form....

Then I would say that by your own prescription, the time has come to make the policy of Portland Indymedia one which EXCLUDES neo-Nazis, white-supremacists and fascists, and INCLUDES people of color, Jews, women, queers, immigrants, working class whites who understand the need for working class unity, anti-racist activists, and everyone else that's on this Volksfront outfit's hit list.

Finally, Jim: We left that meeting Saturday with a tentative, fragile agreement that would maintain our unity and allow us to move forward, together. I hope you're as committed to that as we are. I would respectfully ask that -- until that relationship becomes a reality and this agreement is implemented -- that you cease your disruptive and disrespectful behavior towards those who disagree with your position. They're reacting righteously to a situation that the editorial collective bears some responsibility for creating. I recognize that mistake as an oversight and not intentional, since I was at the meeting and talked to you all face to face. Others don't have this vantage point. They will probably see the forward movement for what it is after we have implemented the correction and the anti-fascist permanent feature page. Until then, I suggest you let everybody vent without antagonizing people further. Otherwise, this fragile, tentative agreement we worked so hard to create may break down before we even get a chance to put it into practice. And, if that happens, Indymedia will lose its credibility with the folks that I hope you consider your friends, your allies and your constituency.

no free speech for nazis 25.Dec.2001 11:27

Pete S.

As an activist, and a reader/contributor of Indymedia, I advocate censorship of all fascist demagogy. Why give voice to those who are the open mortal enemies of all the progressive causes we are fighting for? Their twisted ravings are a waste of space, time, and everything.

Pete.

another reply 25.Dec.2001 11:37

deva

<<<Deva: In your rebuttal to Local Organizer, you said:

"I for one, do not accept the guilt trip you try to lay on Indymedia - I don't feel guilty about these issues, nor at the effort I put in - if you feel guilty, positive action is the best cure

"Indymedia does NOT support nazis, Indymedia is NOT hostile towards people of color..."

This shows me you are missing Local Organizer's point. I don't believe s/he is saying that the Indymedia Portland editorial collective is EXPLICITLY RACIST or EXPLICITLY PRO-NAZI. Or that the editorial collective is HOSTILE TO PEOPLE OF COLOR.>>>

here is the quote

"Does anyone else recognize that by allowing all these Nazi's to post under this hollow and sad "Free Speech" banner we are only silencing people of color and further making this page hostile to their issues?"

further making this page hostile to people of color is what local organizer said

that is a direct statement that indymedia is hostile to people of color and was so before volksfront posts started.

and once again, i will refute that statement - indymedia is NOT hostile towards people of color

<<<<WHAT I'M HEARING IN L.O.'s POST IS THAT THE INDYMEDIA EDITORIAL COLLECTIVE -- BY ITS INACTION, BY ITS "FREE-SPEECH" EXCUSE-MAKING AND ABDICATION OF RESPONSIBILITY OVER THE GENERAL ATMOSPHERE OF THE SITE (especially the newswire) -- IS *ALLOWING THE NAZIS TO CREATE A HOSTILE ENVIRONMENT* FOR WOMEN, PEOPLE OF COLOR, JEWS, QUEERS, ANTI-RACIST ACTIVISTS ("RACE TRAITORS"), ETC. An UNSAFE environment.>>>>

i understand that you do not particularly care for free speech, but not everyone feels that way and it is a complex issue. . .to say "free speech excuse making" is too simplistic

and to say "it's inaction" ignores the fact that action is happening

it also ignores the fact that a very few people are demanding that indymedia fundamentally change its entire approach and structure and is berating us for not having done so in a few short weeks

what is really being said is - i am not happy that indymedia is not doing exactly what i want when i want

the people involved in indymedia are looking for ways to address the issues, and i will remind you, nobody from the broader community asked for the meeting we had, it was indymedia contributors who initiated it -



<<<<Having said that, I want to emphasize one more time that nobody is blaming you or condemning you -- at least not yet. I think we all recognize that this whole controversy is taking place around issues for which there are no easy answers.>>>>

actually, there has been blame and condemnation thrown at indymedia - and precipitous requests that we immediately take off all neo-nazi posts or we are supporting nazis shows that some people do not recognize that these are issues for which there are not easy answers - and again it shows that people do not recognize that it is a very few people who are basically demanding that indymedia fundamentally change its approach and structure, and do so immediately.


<<<<But wake up before it's too late -- before the activists around here write off Indymedia as anything that's useful in terms of communicating with each other. Look at it this way: The people Indymedia Portland was set up to serve -- and the activists you want to be allied with -- are telling you that the Nazis have made the site into a hostile environment. You risk losing your alliances with them unless you act. It boils down to this: do you prefer an alliance with the activists who are asking you to make policy changes and exclude the harassers from our online community, or do you prefer an alliance with the Volksfront?>>>

first, i do suggest you be attentive to this black and white "either you have alliance with activists, or with volksfront" attitude you are expressing - what you just said is quite similar to bush's "either you are with us, or with the terrorists" and in general such statements show a fundamentalist mindset.

second, i have spoken to many activists since this issue was first raised, asking them their opinion. the significant majority of them said indymedia should not give up its open publishing free speech newswire, and should not remove the volksfront posts, and they are supportive of indymedia as it is, so i think the people expressing the views you are, constitute a minority, so it is not like indymedia is ignoring the overwhelming agreed upon stance of the activist community and "needs to wake up" as you put it.

the fact that a view is in a minority is not a reflection on its validity (most of the country wants us military action), however, recognizing that minority, there needs to be patient determination to change the views of many people

as a contributor to indymedia, i do not want to see indymedia make a knee-jerk reactionary response to what is a relatively small number of newswire posts. if indymedia is going to change its policies, it should do so because it is seeking a better, more enlightened policy that will work for a long time to come. . .and that will take time

Eyes on the Prize 25.Dec.2001 12:37

Jim Lockhart jimlock@inertarena.com

Well, it certainly looks to me that this has gone about as far as it needs to go. Apparantly there are members of this community who think it is fine for them to upbraid others for their efforts, but who cry foul when the shoe is on the other foot. So be it; I can live with that, and can still continue to work for the good of the entire community.
Please, don't misunderstand me here. All perspetives are encouraged to post to the site, again, within very wide tolerances. These standards were established after much debate and discussion.
The editorial committee has a democratic and logical perspective on racist and discriminatory postings. If somehow this doesn't suit certain agendas, I guess folks can pull away from the use of the site. Threatening to do so, and using as leverage the excuse that certain elements of the community are upset with indymedia because they have decided to live by their values, will probably do more damage than any amount of neo nazi postings. It already has.
These recent racist postings have unified the community against racism, except for those who have, for some reason, decided to go after the medium which has made this important dialogue possible to begin with. We have agreed to disagree and work together. That's a great step; I think it would be better for all concerned to concentrate on this positive achievement and move forward with that.
I can easily live with these accusations of promoting racism and collaborating with nazi's, and now realize, after these last postings above, that I will probably have to. Indymedia is a community resource, not the servant of any one portion of that community. It is there to empower ALL members of the community to post their thoughts, news and commentary. The potential for empowerment is there. The only prerequsite is the ability to communicate and the courage to stand alongside others in a free and open forum.
Indymedia is standing up for their values, and expects this stance to be honored, not made the object of ridicule by those who have an opposing, though legitimate, perspective. I really see no point in further public discussions concerning our editorial policy. We've made proposals towards change, within the scope of our vision of what indymedia is. Your ideas and ideology have been made abundantly clear; hopefully, ours has also.
Can we work together? I certainly hope so, and actually, look forward to providing an improved forum for community involvement.

Responsibilities 25.Dec.2001 16:29

soledad

Jim wrote "By ranting at indymedia you are actually ranting at yourself as well. Indymedia is the community in operation; it's achievements and it's failures reflect those of the community. It serves no constuctive purpose to be laying things at our door that can only be resolved by community participation."

I have to disagree. Indymedia is open to all to post. However, there is a collective vision that those who choose to put their time into making decisions about indy media, going to the meetings, posting etc are creating. Part of that vision is open publishing, creating a space for folks not heard by the corporate media to speak, to tell their stories. I believe a part of fulfilling that vision is creating a space where more people participate, more unheard voices are heard. If people of color are not publishing on indymedia, and not participating with the creative design of the site then Indy Media is remaining a tool for and by white activists. It is not their responsibility to seek out indy media (though it is certainly their right). It our responsibility as those already involved to find out why certain voices are not heard on this site, and how we can make this site more accessible.

One poster pointed out that as volunteers, we are all pressed for time. I realize that we are all volunteers -- most of us with several groups. I realize that there will always be far more items demanding attention than is possible to give attention too. However, that does not absolve us of the responsibility to admit those problems exist -- which I think is part of what the local organizer is asking us to do.

I also think there is a distinction between 'anyone can become part of the process of creating indy media' and 'everyone is.' I think we have to consider some of the criticisms rendered at indy media as part of the reason those who are not participating (or who despite posting do not feel part of indymedia) are not partcipating or do not feel part of indymedia. We should listen to those thoughts and give them careful consideration (at the very least as to where those perceptions came from) rather than outright dismiss them.

I also want to address the comment about men and indymedia made by local organizer. She got that information from me. The meeting she was referring to was the editorial committee meeting where the discussion about the volksfront posts was held. There were two women at that meeting. As far as I could tell, all of people at the meeting who repersenting themselves as feeling 'a part of' indymedia, and an awareness of internal issues surrounding indy mediaindymedia were men. I'm glad to hear it this perception is not reflective of the larger portland indymedia community.

Again however, I would like to state that there is a difference between posters and those who creatively participate in the design of the site and the choice of feature articles. I would still see it as problematic if women were posting, but not part of the collective process that makes indy media's decisions.

The open post indy media is for everyone is an ideal, not a reality. If it is an ideal we want to actualize, than we should find out why some of the folks who don't feel that they are a part of indy media, don't feel comfortable going here, or don't find it a useful tool feel that way.

Fascism Comes in Unexpected Flavors 25.Dec.2001 19:13

josie

"What mainstream media is to the checked out middle class, Indymedia is to the middle class activists in portland, duh."

Thanx. I'm barely middle class, but I feel demeaned. I no longer feel indymedia is a safe environment. And, in the popular logic of many of these posts, I hold you responsible for my feelings. Is the writer who demanded that everyone concentrate on race as the most important Issue liable for my fears that what tenuous alliances are being built between groups which have very different focuses, but some strong common beliefs, will be shredded? The willingness to devalue free speech and cast ideas as aggressors scares the bejesus out of me. Again, are you liable for my fear? The Hang Mumia post? Utter tripe. Made my stomach turn with its mindless, ignorant belligerence. But the post made me feel neither safer nor more at risk. I never feel safe. Most people I know don't feel safe and haven't for a long time. And, Mumia's life was neither significantly safer nor more endangered for it.

When I read that Hang Mumia post, I'd just come from a rally organized by some black people and some white people. One of the most memorable aspects was Ramona Africa talking about the fact that all our struggles are one struggle, that they're all important. Some of MOVE's earliest protests were on behalf of animals. Race is a part of their struggle, race as defined by skin color and culture, but I don't believe it's the focus of their struggle. The Living Race is who they're fighting for. I honestly don't know any people who say race doesn't matter. We all know it does. That we don't want to focus on race as our primary issue does not necessarily mean we're racist. It can mean, we've dedicated our time to fighting for another cause. And, it usually means we see it all as part of one struggle against the powerful, regardless of their color or stripe, who seek to degrade and exploit and kill. Those accused of passive racism may be guilty, but no more so than those who choose to make the charge. "Middle class" white activists are many of the faces you'll see at Mumia rallies. Is that enough? Probably not. Sadly space and time restrictions apply to activism as they do other matters of every day life.

Your request that IMC change to a forum in which free speech is only free if we don't object to it is as dangerous as the nazi posts, if not moreso. Most IMC readers recognize nazi rhetoric for the drivel it is. Those who do not will find it elsewhere. Intimations that defense of freedom of speech is a "hollow and sad" defense in the face of creating an environment in which some do not feel safe, again, absolutely terrifies me. GW Bush certainly would agree with you, heartily. By that criterion, that free speech should not prevail over feelings of hostility to a person or group's interest, and by trying to apply to an essentially open forum the laws which apply to a workplace (which is more of a captive environment, regardless of the employee's ability to simply "find employment elsewhere"), it's a fairly short road to the sort of repressed, self-censoring, prevaricating media we have now. Just with a different slant.

Let the Nazi's tip their hand. Suppressing their tirades didn't derail them in the late 20's and early 30's, and it probably won't now. Let's fight them out in the open. Hacking away at the essential liberties that are already so endangered won't help our cause, though it may aid theirs.

One last thing, it seems a move either way will alienate some contributors. If IMC refuses to hide nazi posts, an organized, quite political, bloc may choose not to contribute. If IMC hides the posts, those who contributed to IMC because of its open-source (and, in my insipid white-bread, middle-class, white-girl naiveté, "revolutionary") approach, will start searching for a forum that lives up to the description "independent."

Possibly an ex-IMC contributor (it was nice while it lasted),
Josie

folks... 25.Dec.2001 20:35

doolittle

Damn, you folk are doing some serious jaw flappin'!
Good to see you doing something to change the world instead of conducting protracted arguments among one another over the computer!

word. 25.Dec.2001 21:21

made- up name

Josie-

Clearly you needn't leave Indymedia, because (thankfully) most of the people here understand the value of truly free speech, not just "free speech when it's convenient," or "free speech when I agree with it."

I want to thank all the people who understand what freedom is and are willing to stand up for it.

dear doolittle 25.Dec.2001 21:59

rodent

and you're doing what?

this shit is gettin outta control! 25.Dec.2001 22:32

anon or made up name no friggin way

Woah people!
I want to ask everyone to take a deep breath, calm down, and stop beating each other up. I see that the boneheads have stopped posting (at least under the VF signature), but they must be getting a huge kick out of what they have caused here. They probably could not do half as good a job at trashing us as we have done ourselves.

Just because someone disagrees with you on how to deal with nazis doesn't mean they are racist/nazi collaborators/fascists or whatever. Please, people...unless you know different, let's all assume we're on the same team here. Someone who advocates hiding or censoring nazi propaganda is not a fascist--they just don't believe free speech is the most important right in the world (for the record, I happen to agree with those who advocate this action). And people who argue for open posting are not nazi collaborators.

Please, let's try to chill out on the political trashing of one another, at least when it comes to something as tricky as dealing with nazis.

I sincerely hope that this issue can be resolved quickly, and that people can get back to the way more important work (in my opinion) of organizing against these scumbags.

Are there any compromise positions that would work? I don't see how labeling could work, or dumping all the nazi crap to another part of the site, but it might help people feel more welcome if it were moved off the main page or labeled as offensive (like most CD's these days).

What about other ways to decide on this policy? If it's true that Indymedia is more than the editorial board, or the collective, than maybe this decision should be made in a different way--what about some kind of vote, or community meeting. Again, though, I am reluctant to giving any more attention this issue, and the boneheads who are delighting in the divisions they have caused.

That's enough my ranting for now.
Good luck all you nazi haters. Let's hope we can agree when it comes to the more important stuff of how to keep these scumbags out of Portland.

sadfasdfdsfsdafsadfsdf 25.Dec.2001 22:46

sadfdsfdrsarfefwerfwer

I don't understand posts on this site browbeating people for posting. If you think it's stupid, what are you doing here? If you think the discussion has gone too far, why post a comment? Could it be that you want to be heard and that others who posted their opinions, regardless of whether you agree with them, were motivated by the same desire? Is there any possibility we can at least dispense with discussions about whether we should be discussing this? If you don't think it merits discussion, don't post. Yes, I'm sure the nazi's/fascists are gloating. But the hen's out of the hut, so so what.

Do nazi posts violate editorial guidelines? 25.Dec.2001 22:58

activist

I think the nazi posts do violate the guidelines.

Here's the policy:
Portland IMC reserves the right to hide or edit posts that:

Advocate criminal activity indicating a specific time, place or manner.
Are duplicate posts. We keep the most recent.
Are obviously libelous or slanderous.
Affect the functionality of the site.

I think Volksfront's posts "affect the functionality" of this site. Unless this is merely a technical thing we are talking about here, it could easily be argued that a bunch of boneheads coming to Indymedia, and offending and or scaring away a bunch of other people is affecting the functionality of the site. If this site becomes a mouthpiece for nazis to spread their hate, then it seems its original function has been affected.

Call me a fascist if you want, but I say NO FREE SPEECH FOR NAZIS

nice try, but no go 26.Dec.2001 10:56

deva

it's a technical thing

Functionality 26.Dec.2001 18:29

su nombre

Censorship definitely would affect adversely the functionality of the site, if we were being that philosophical.

Good Job INDIMEDIA 01.Jan.2002 14:40

Shelly Mckinzie

I am new to this site, I like it alot, It seems the anti racist here are trying their to enforce pro comunist agenda, Why do they not go back to the tit of the main stream media ? They are not wanted here with indymedia. I am not a racist , Im a negro , I support the freedom of speach , I support this volksfront group over any heard of scilencers. I support indimedia

love shelly