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solidarity and survival

we have an opportunity for revolucion, todos juntos
This week, Bill "kick me" Frist decided to give his Presidential campaign a boost by adding his voice to the "smear the queers" amendment. And meanwhile the NSA revelations have grown and grown, so that we now know that all of our emails, faxes, telephone conversations, and for all I know bathroom graffitos, are gathered and analyzed by supercomputers. This is handy for several reasons, not just to identify dissenters to target, but to analyze trends and zeitgeists and possible cracks in the collective psyche.

So I have little doubt that when Karl Rove sets up smear-the-queer efforts nationwide like Oregon's Measure 36 of yore, it is because he uses the best and latest hyper-analyzed social data collected from these terabytes of information. He knows it will work, because the data collected shows that, whatever US citizens might actually say or pretend, they're actually quite frightened of the greater spectrum of human socio-sexual behavior, especially as it is mirrored in themselves. So if the Great Totalitarian Computer says that targeting queers will work to unify millions of soft-headed people, you can count on it being correct.

What, you say, no evidence that Karl Rove does this? I would say that the likelihood that he does such things lies in, first, his access to such information, and second, the fact that he would never even once consider acting in a restrained or moral fashion, especially as it concerns the wielding of manipulative political power. Is there anyone anywhere who actually thinks he would hold himself back?

Likewise, the sudden attack on Hispanics is doubtless a calculated policy developed from this rich vein of spying. White English-speaking US citizens are frightened of, paranoid about, and unfamiliar with Hispanics, and suspect that they're up to something more than survival and freedom and the pursuit of happiness. ("Hey, are those guys talking about me?") Therefore, Dictator-façade Bush shows up on the television set, and says he's sending troops to the border. There are a lot of caveats, conditions, and evasions associated with that act, but it doesn't matter, because, first, Bush considers himself a law unto himself, (or to be more specific, the Bush puppeteers think that way,) and secondly, the real intent of the act is racist propaganda.

Evil people are being met with armed force—get it? The 29% remaining fanatical Bushites, and their prospective allies in the Bush comeback, don't read the newspaper at all, much less the second sentence in the article in the newspaper. They understand that this terrifying threat of new-people-who-are-different-and-therefore-evil is being met in a familiar and satisfying way. They lap it up like gravy. It's working.

But before I get down on the bonehead part of the population, there's something far more sinister to this attack: it's working on the college-educated. That's where the cybernetic analysis of our collective unconscious comes into play. Rove knows that even the liberals are afraid, and that their fear exceeds their knowledge of the subject of immigration (and of immigrants) by far. So I have been hearing so-called liberals calling into talk shows and asking, basically, when the immigrant populations are going to be punished—punished for not doing things legally, for being forced into false identities-- and that's code for "when are you going to round up the brown people?" 'Cause they ain't talking about white Canadians.

For more than a hundred years, Uncle Sam—-a.k.a. Tio Cayman—-has forced the countries of Latin America, at the point of a gun, to sell their raw materials for a trice; and Tio Cayman says it's illegal to build your own value-added mills and factories. How did they get poor? Our financial elites demanded, insisted, enforced poverty on Latin America. Education programs, rural electrification, health-care rights, and milk for babies are cut under austerity programs by the US-controlled World Bank.

Listen, liberals: how could there be worse punishment for Nicaraguans than having your five-year-old daughter's fingers used for pistol practice by the wholly-owned-and-directed US contras? What could be worse for Salvadorenos than having Ronald Reagan and Pat Robertson's personal friend Blowtorch Bob D'Aubuisson burn the face off your wife as she screams while tied to a chair? What more punishment shall we offer to Mexicans than coordinating the coverup of the wholesale machine-gunning of students in Mexico City in 1968, or the subversion of their entire banking system to Citibank for wealth extraction, or the destruction of all corn farmers' income by passing NAFTA, and allowing ADM to sell in Mexico for a quarter of the price?

How much damn punishment do you want to mete out?

How about Guatemaltecos who lost whole villages, hundreds of thousands of peaceful innocent people, to our escuela de asesinos graduates and their torture factories? Dig up the mass graves and ask them what they think of who got punished!

And what about when people get here and find that, magically, their forged documents are accepted on the I-9 forms at Jack in the Box or wherever, and then they're expected to work for base pay forever, twice as fast, twice as hard, no breaks, extra work off the clock, and never a word to be said in complaint --or else it might suddenly happen that somebody looks to see if those documents are correct? Is that punishment enough? How about when you pay into the Social Security system for decades and never qualify for a cent of it in the end, because eventually you'll get old and slow enough for your fake documents to accidentally get found out?

There's such a think as karma, I suspect. Who are the guilty parties? Who started this crap, and who benefited? Who benefits from a thousand dollars' worth of work paid at a rate of a hundred? I never want to hear another word about punishment and amnesty. It's just liberal abuse. Mommy, stop, I'm bleeding, please Mommy....

I have a different suggestion: let's reject all of that oppression, including the part where we look the other way and let employers hire people as second-class human beings. If I deserve a living wage, then so does my fellow world citizen. An injury to one is an injury to all, remember? The cry that "they" are depressing "our" wages is the wail of an infant. Let's grow up! One big union! If I get $22/hr driving a bus with awesome benefits, then by god mi hermana desde Tegulcigalpa gets the same damn thing, and woe to the employer who says no, right?!

That's the attitude we should take. The real problem is that we have all acted in a racist manner in order to benefit the ruling elites, and to sneak in a little personal advantage here and there as well. If that drives up the price of strawberries in a country noted for its endemic obesity, well, cry me a river.

That's the way out of this whole capitalist global-warming totalitarian nightmar: solidarity. Education, solidarity—there's a reason that the first thing the Sandinista government did in 1979 was to introduce literacy campaigns. There's no such thing as democracy without full literacy. And now it's paying off at last, as the Sandinistas are heading back into power, even after all these years of US-paid subversion and death..

We need to educate these so-called liberals. When you don't know your history, you're going to get manipulated. We drove Latin America North. We did. We did it, and benefited from it.

People need to be educated, too, that Katrina was a genocidal act of intentional neglect and the opening salvo of a new war against the African American. Some leftie people want to de-emphasize the facts on the ground, as if acknowledgement of the Bushite-planned neglect is a conspiracy theory. What, can we afford on the Left to throw away black people now? How would that be moral, or tactically effective? So don't believe the crap the corporate-owned media threw up about rescue helicopters being shot at on any significant basis—that lie was calculated, and I do mean supercomputer-analyzed-artificial-intelligence calculated, to punch your racist buttons. ("Punch the Fear Black People button, boys! All will be in ordnung soon!")

Likewise, ask yourself: why did Tony Snow use the term "tar baby" twice in a press conference this week? It doesn't matter what the context was, really—it's a code word to the NASCAR set, just as Ronald Reagan's Presidential campaign launch in a Southern lynch-mob city was a code gesture. The troops on the border are propaganda, they're not going to stop very many people coming in. They're also a handy notice, and precedent, that this Bushite regime will use to break the Posse Comitatus law, and use Federal troops to project the will of corporate Amerikkka. Get used to the guy with the machine gun on your street corner.

This all affects even whitest and rightest, under the Martin Niemoller principle—you know, first they came for the homosexuals, and I didn't stand up for them because I wasn't a homosexual, then they came for the gypsies, then Jews, et cetera, you know the quote by now I hope. The basic lesson is that if they come for X, you're next and there ain't no Y.

I nearly faced some deadly consequences myself, yesterday, as a result of all this calculated hatemongering. So when I say I want solidarity, (when I say thank you to for example PCUN,) I mean it and feel it, as it is necessary to my own survival. I'm transgender. People don't like that.

It's a very rare thing for anyone to stand up for me when I'm doing my job driving a municipal bus, when someone decides to transfer the aggression of their self-loathing onto me, by bullying me for being a transwoman. Actually, three people, over the course of four years, have stood up for me, and two of them are associated in some way with this (KBOO) radio station, as it turns out! That's three people out of hundreds of near-daily incidents for years running.

Tri-Met, the local bus authority, simply ignores the problem, for their own purposes, I think. So that says something about education being necessary to human rights and revolution. But yesterday I was alone, not driving the bus but just having parked my car, at 10:38 AM, on East Burnside outside the Philo House thrift shop, which opens at eleven, and I popped out to look into the window, to see if it might be worthwhile coming back later to look for used drapes for my house. Two giant corn-fed sixty-something white republicans were strolling East on the sidewalk, and they remarked rather pointedly that I was in a no-parking zone.

Now, if that sounds a little non-sequitur to you, I should explain that there is a bumper sticker on the back of my car that says "one man, one man, no on 36," and it was cobbled together from appropriated "yes on 36" stickers by my artistic daughter, and it has been the cause of many a rage-filled comment since that smear-the-queers law was passed a year or so ago. So I looked over at the couple, who were rapidly approaching, to acknowledge them, and looked back into the window, cupping my hands to see better. These people knew it was my car, of course, because I had just popped out of it and had spent all of ten seconds looking in the window.

Got the picture? Beautiful warm day, uniformed bus driver on sidewalk, large whities strolling along. Normally I don't give much attention to the Gucci-and-Rolex set, except to avoid meaningful conversation. However, these two positioned themselves on either side of me. He used to be strong, and was about six-foot-two. "You're in a parking zone," he said, as if I needed to jump on it right away. I looked them over. I don't see a badge on either of you two," I said, and looked back into the shop-- for reason "a," to finish my business there, and reason "b," to visually dismiss them. Well, this just popped their Republican corks.

"Tri-Met, eh," said the man, and pulled out a cell phone and began dialing. He wanted to report employee misconduct. Now this sort of thing doesn't work at all; I have a union. So I had nothing to fear from this gesture, but I was infuriated that anyone would engage in such aggression against me just because I'm queer and working-class. So I told him and his good lady wife just what I thought of them and the horse that they had rode in on. Loudly. Angrily. Which was when the woman said something very interesting: "I have a gun."

You know, I always thought it would be a pickup truck with the high school sports team wielding bats—at least on the streets, that's how I expected the death penalty for transgenderism to appear, as it has for so many. But no: I was being threatened with death by a superannuated, morbidly obese upper-middle-class woman. Surprise, surprise.

Well, she could have easily killed me if she had simply said nothing about a gun, if she had stepped back a couple of feet and just opened fire. That would have worked. I really don't know how she would have explained gunning down an unarmed bus driver in broad daylight, on the basis of a parking violation—though Lord knows, I admit it, mea culpa, I was parked in a loading zone. Guilty as charged, your honor.

However, I did take an excellent self-defense class years ago, and I have kept in practice, and it is very difficult to bring a firearm to bear against me, if I'm standing next to you, most expecially if (a) you tip me off while you're in reach and (b) I'm twice as fast and three times as strong as you. So of my options at that point to avoid death—(the first, to plead for my life, probably a sixty percent chance of survival, second, to run away bent over in irregular zigzags, probably a forty percent chance if she practices at the range, or third, use the Robinette gun grab), I decided on the gun grab.

Shoot me, I told her. "Shott me! Draw your weapon now, you fucking murderer!" She looked like she really wanted to, but after I shouted and taunted her several times, she got smart and kept it in her butt-holster. Then Hubby called 9/11 and said they were being attacked. By me. For refusing to die by gunshot, I suppose.

Once again, this was all about power, arrogance, gun permits, and homophobia. I figured a cop would show up, and that the person with less money was less likely to survive, so I cursed them roundly and escaped.

But wait, it's not over. Did you think a queer was going to get away with an incident like that? The cops came to my house. One cop, actually. I refused to speak with him. God knows what I'm charged with, if anything. But Mister White Republican must have had some connections and clout, because, well-- I work with cops all the time as a bus driver, and if there's been no assault, no spit, no blood, no theft no nothing, I guarantee no cop is going to show, not that I would ask them to.

And the moral of this story is: solidarity or death. I will stand by the Hispanics and Blacks, because it's right, and because it's survival, and we all need to stand together or we will be manipulated and ruled forever by corporate capital and their fascist minions. Right?

right 18.May.2006 18:07

Catherine Stauffer

I would be happy to ride your bus all day everyday if it would make you feel safer. I take the amount of harassment you receive on a daily basis very seriously and I hope that others do as well. If you need a morale booster me and my friends would be happy to ride your bus. You deserve the support.

neighborhood watch 19.May.2006 00:10

onlooker

Solidarity is needed. People in the neighborhoods should be there to help you in time of need. It's fucked up when anyone chooses to threaten someone with a gun, if we had a well-equipped neighborhood watch that is truly sensitive to human rights, we'd know who the fat cats were who really caused the problem cause the neighborhood watch arrives to investigate and gets all the information the police gathered in addition to being able to gather their own. Power to the people.
Community Supported Policing.

Thank you Theresa 19.May.2006 00:18

anon

Thank you for being who you are - without apology. Thank you for sharing your story. Thank you for standing up to these scum who threatened you. I'm glad that you were trained and prepared to defend yourself, and I'm glad that you did not get hurt - or to be forced to hurt your attackers.

I'm not sure what your intended point was in referring to "gun permits"? I'd like to point out that here in Oregon no permit is required to purchase or own most handguns or other firearms. Most people are also able to fairly easily obtain a Concealed Handgun License. As pistols or other firearms are the best tool for defending ourselves in many situations, it is well worth the time to get properly trained and to have a gun available when we are attacked.

We are also fortunate to have a local chapter of the pansexual, queer-positive Pink Pistols here in Portland. Here is a link for the main PP website: http://www.pinkpistols.org - and a link to the local PP groups webpage: http://www.portland.pinkpistols.org


thanks for the comments 19.May.2006 09:34

theresa mitchell

Well, regarding the 'permit,' I was being confusingly vague. What I meant to say was: her class (and race) of person is (I think statistically) more likely to 'jump through the hoops' and get a gun permit. Certainly, she didn't seem apologetic or covert about the gun. So I'm making an assumption based on demographics--a shaky road to be sure, but in this case I'll bet it's correct.

My argument on weapons usage is more based on the UN charter's caveats about the rights of oppressed persons to liberate themselves, than specifically on the Second Amendment--though I suspect there are similar aims in the two documents, at least in part. In my case I did have, now that I think about it, a "fourth option" besides pleading, running, or grabbing. I have regained my strength and accuracy, and if I were the violent sort, I could easily have broken (yuk) her neck with a spin-hammer-fist maneuver. A loathsome thought, no? I know that there are many who can't defend themselves in that manner--I was too weak for years, then I got lucky with back surgery; so if somewone needs a firearm to deal with their threat situation, I make no general judgement.

The thing is, though, I think she may be a menace, but I would hate to have hurt her. In different circumstances, I might have been faced with a choice: lose my life and abandon thereby my family and friends in need, or--hurt her. But as I said, I am lucky for now, and if I had completed the gun grab (something, by the way, to be long and carefully practiced, and only with expert supervision) I would simply have taken the weapon as State's evidence.

Or would I? Maybe I would have tossed the chambered round, bent the clip and just tossed the pieces on the roof, because frankly I'm terrified of the possible consequences of going into the cop shop to lodge a complaint. If one little thing went wrong, I'd get tossed in with the men, and get my "punishment" like every transwoman. Yes, I know there's a policy in Portland against throwing the transwomen in with the men, but there's no way that would be enforced until after the fact, with a lawyer and lots of publicity. And I can't afford a lawyer. It's as if the Universe is trying to get me to understand what other oppressed populations face--a Black man would have to think twice before going to the PPD, as well, for perfectly valid historic reasons.

T

it makes so much sense it is scary 19.May.2006 11:56

cascadian dreamer cancerproduct138@hotmail.com

This was beautifully written and very well-thought out article. to the person who said it doesn't add up, I wonder what you mean? Maybe you have never noticed that people seem to be scared shitless of people who are different from them. Just think about all the talk about "immigrants" and an "official language" lately. Are we seriously going to have to live through the horror of the civil rights movement again?? It is better than living without freedom for all. Because those with power just want more power, and they aren't going to stop with the mexicans, or the queers, or whoever else. This story sure does add up. The sum of it is that we can not call this country the land of the free and the home of the brave if some people aren't free to be who they want to be because they are in the minority and if others arent brave enough to accept those who are different from them. The truth is, as long as we believe in the principle of "majority rules" there is no such thing as "equality and justice for all."

Right. 19.May.2006 18:53

Christine Johnson

An interesting visual analogy comes to mind after reading your story. It is a cartoon with two frames; the first frame shows a big fish chasing many little fish, and the second frame shows the little fish gathered together in the shape of a huge fish, chasing the aforementioned big fish. In visual terms, it says much the same thing: the only way for individuals to deal with large organizations (of any type) is to join their efforts by acting in a coordinated fashion, whether this is organized or not.

Problem is, organizing against the government to change their policies has been made practically illegal by the Patriot Act, and organizing against corporations and their immoral behavior has been made practically impossible due to an enormous economic disparity, (i.e. lack of funds for activists) harassment, and a massive public relations machine without rival in the history of the world. This has made coordinated actions difficult, which is the precise intended purpose of interfering with activist organizations.

This has so distorted the flow of true information that nobody is really sure anymore what people *really* think. (Or if they are even thinking at all, or just repeating the latest ludicrous sound bite.) This is all by design, by the way, since those in power get to write the rules so they get to stay in power, so whenever I hear jabbering-on about the "rule of law," I expect it to be preceeded or followed by a huge lie. I am not usually disappointed.

Now we find out the NSA has all sorts of secret spy programs, so now people can be reasonably sure that if they try to connect with others who share the same anti-government/corporate/capitalist views, that their names will be added to a special list like in the cointelpro days, and their dossier will have one more line item. Maybe they'll get a visit if they speak up. But now the government won't have to interrogate you to find out who your acquaintences are. They have your phone records. They know. Maybe they have recordings of every call. And this fact, that people *think* they are being observed, will scare many otherwise sympathetic folks away from collective action, and thus increase the personal isolation further.

But as a transwoman, I don't care about the government or the corporations, because I KNOW that they don't give a damn about me, and are in fact actively working to make my life and those of my brothers and sisters harder. The Republicans condemn us flatly, and the Democrats are happy to let us hang in the wind if it means they get to regain power. Solidarity or death indeed.

And nobody but nobody wants to face the fact that if you start screwing with the hormonal environment of the planet by spraying pesticides and other hormonally-active agents all over the place, and you add all sorts of hormones to the food, and you give people all sorts of pharmaceutical hormones, you're going to get trans people, and this is an effect, not a cause of social problems.

Poverty? Hey, I have an idea - why not blame the queers! Homelessness? Blame the queers! Economic inequality? Blame the queers! Crime? Blame the queers! Iraq war? Blame the queers! 9/11? Blame the queers! Impotence? Blame the queers! Especially impotence. I'll gladly take credit for that one...

Some Irish Proverbial Inspiration 20.May.2006 10:20

Working Class Mama

Níl aon dlí ar an riachtanas
Necessity knows no law

Ní neart go cur le chéile
There is no strength without unity

Tiocfaidh ár lá
Our day will come

helping 20.May.2006 22:45

t.m.

To the persono who asked how to help: Thank you.
I think that it would be good to focus
on the bigoted catch-phrase "lifestyle choice," as
in "she decided to make the expensive and painful
lifestyle choice of having her broken leg set and
put in a cast." The phrase is a cover for the real
meaning, "perverted and illegitimate lifestyle
choice."

what bus do you drive? 21.May.2006 02:18

e

Theresa, what route do you drive? Can those who have bus passes ride along just to make sure you are not harrassed? I am sure many people here would ride with you. You could ask people to ride with you and document this abuse to officials.

any route 21.May.2006 08:33

theresa mitchell

Although I'm not comfortable using Indymedia for personal support, I appreciate the question regarding which route I drive. I switched status to "extra board" about a year ago, because I found that even if I "passed" the first few times I drove just about any route, someone would find me out or remember me, and then tell other anti-queer types who and/or what I am.

Now I have random assignments, which cuts down on that phenomenon considerably, though it does not eliminate it. The hours are too long for me--I tend to get tired easily because of anti-testosterone medications-- but the stress is less thereby. I'm off Zoloft now, so I can remember the routes more easily. (Zoloft worked great for stress, but I cracked my teeth in several places from its jaw-grinding side effects.) I'm managing; the idea of ride-alongs is wonderful and appreciated, but--well--difficult to pull off....

Thanks.

Tri-Met could put a stop to a lot of anti-Queer (and anti-Black and anti-Hispanic) bullying just by doing a little consciousness-raising in the workplace and the community. Aside from the Bus Strike anniversary, I don't know that they've had any workshops. Certainly, they have no informational or counter-aggression posters on the buses.