Let me tell you about my prostate – or,
Why are old people so interesting?

by G.S.      <george.salzman@umb.edu>
November 12-28, 2005

this page is at http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/Strate/Notz/2005-11-28.htm

Preface: Believe it or not, this is the second posting promised in my Nov 25th e-mail. These two postings, as I said there, “are really aimed at Richard [Stahler-Sholk]’s efforts to help the education program of the Zapatistas, an essential part of their movement.” My e-mail of the 25th read:

    Activism hardly describes the heroic but mainly unrecognized lives of the indigenous peoples who make up the base communities of the Zapatista movement in the mountains of the Mexican southeast. Activists, as usually understood by people like us with our computers -- relatively comfortable in today's world (though we do have our concerns about wars, killings, pollution and those other nasty things) -- activists means those among us who, in spite of our privileged lives, devote some energy (and sometimes even a bit of money) to work actively for improving human society beyond our immediate families.
    The Tzeltal and other indigenous campesinos who form the base of the movement -- the Zapatismo-on-the-gound part that makes today's Zapatistas historically significant -- can't even flirt (as we can) with the idea of going into an AeroMexico office and, with a credit card, booking a round trip to Europe for a couple of weeks. For these fully human human beings, such an act on their part would be as unthinkable as passing through a so-called "black hole" and entering a different universe. They don't have a couple of thousand U.S. bucks to blow. A couple of pesos, maybe. They are full-time activists, living day in and day out to change their world -- building community, local autonomy and self-sufficiency, and their human sense of dignity in the face of fierce government and transnational corporate repression.
    Richard Stahler-Sholk <rsholk@gmail.com> is on sabbatical leave from Eastern Michigan University. Instead of the Sorbonne and a year of indulging in French cheeses, not to mention Merlot, he's trekking the mountainous forests in Chiapas, engaging as an academic activist in the Zapatista struggle -- un luchador social (a social, i.e.unarmed, struggler). This posting and the next are really aimed at Richard's efforts to help the education program of the Zapatistas, an essential part of their movement. ...

    It’s just that I got diverted and disorganized. But you’re on the track to the Zapatista jungles in Chiapas. And if you are impatient to get there, skip ahead to the section titled “Now, about my prostate — and education in the jungles of southern Mexico” (end of preface)

      When Nancy and I wake up in the morning, instead of sex we have hot oatmeal and each of us takes an assortment of pills. I’m the breakfast “chef” while she takes her regular therapeutic hot shower, though she doesn’t let me make the coffee – that she does later. Oatmeal, I maintain, is good for us on crisp mornings before the bright daily sunshine in southern Mexico chases away the chill from the streets of Oaxaca City. With rugged whole oats, raisins, slivers of green apple and salt, it kills (i.e.satisfies) your appetite. My friend Martin Davis declined breakfast here on a recent visit. “I hate oatmeal”, he said simply but firmly. I’ll get into my prostate later. I know you want to hear all about it, but contain yourself; there’s something else I want to mention first. As you can perhaps already guess, this is intended to be a serious note, not one of my silly little anarchist fantasies that Allan Gibbs enjoys skewering with scorn, as he did with his cheery little note the other day:
Subject: Re: Just posted: We don't need a hurricane; the time for revolution is now! [1]
From: Allan Gibbs <gibbsa@rps205.com>
Date: Thu, 17 Nov 2005 10:48:59 -0600
To: George Salzman <george.salzman@umb.edu>
CC: David Vogt <vogtd@rps205.com>

George, you old wacko you. Still at your sophomoric ramblings I see. I have not had a lot of time to respond to your liberal wet dreams due to work (remember that word). Anyway, on your latest diatribe about the “grassroots” effort to save themselves after Katrina I think it only need be pointed out that it only took the people at the Superdome a couple of days to turn it into another slum with all the physical and emotional danger of the old ones. There is your self help grassroots in action.

Katrina also demonstrated, as if it needed to be done, the ineptitude and criminal negligence of the mayor and governor, left wing democrats both. The only thing that helped anyone at all was the U.S. military. It was not until the military showed up on the job – after being denied access to the state by that ridiculous governor – that the horrible situation down there gained any semblance of order and safety.

So it was no juvenile grassroots effort that restored any degree of order and normalcy to the hurricane devastated South, but the U.S. Military. To even suggest otherwise demonstrates a really childish petulance, to say nothing of total ignorance to what is really happening on the ground there.

Otherwise, have a good day.

      Allan has been writing me now for two years. He shares with my friend of many years – actually decades – Martin Davis <martin@eipye.com> the view that I don’t have – to put it mildly – a very good understanding of the reality of the world. Naturally they express themselves differently, because Allan is more akin to the working people Joe Bageant [2] <bageantjb@netscape.net> writes about, ordinary “working stiffs” (except that Allan has a good command of the written language), while Martin is a retired Emeritus Professor of Mathematics. But, language aside, their messages carry the same implication: I am utterly naive. I keep trying to convince them that my understanding is pretty solid, so far not with much, if any, success.

Allan Gibbs, a true “worker”, burst on my radar screen
      It happened two years ago with a terse message:
Subject: U.S.
Date: Mon, 3 Nov 2003 12:21:24 -0600
From: Allan Gibbs <gibbsa@rps205.com>
To: George Salzman <george.salzman@umb.edu>

George, you are a fucking retard. Grow up, get a job, and get a life for Christs sake.

      From this modest beginning our aquaintance grew. I wrote back,
Date: Mon, 03 Nov 2003 13:42:01 -0600 (George to Allan)
      Your note today is similar to one I received after posting a “Call to stop the U.S. government’s drive for global domination” in early October 2002. Like yours, it was brief and to the point, as follows:
Date: Fri, 11 Oct 2002 11:59:53 +0000
From: Gladys Richardson <yankeebaby24@hotmail.com>
To: George Salzman <george.salzman@umb.edu>

If you are such a communist why don’t you just go back to cuba, you fidel loving faggot.

      My answer to Gladys, which is also appropriate for you, was
Date: Fri, 11 Oct 2002 09:39:15 -0700 (George to Gladys)

      I received the following note: [I included her message here]

      I do not know if it was actually sent by you or by someone using your name.

      In any event, you should know that I am a World War II veteran, 744th Engineering Oilfield Battalion, U.S. Army, 77 years of age, a widower since my wife died on April 1, 1981 of breast cancer, just short of our 33rd wedding anniversary, the father of our two daughters and grandfather of five young children. I happen to be heterosexual, have never loved Castro (though I admire a real man with balls who isn’t an ass-sucker), and could not go “back” to Cuba, where I have never been, even if I wanted to, which I do not. I was born American, bred American, love the American people as much as I love all people, and am outraged at the destruction of the America I thought I knew by the scum who run the country. I want my America back. I want the world to escape the destruction it is being relentlessly subjected to. As for the know-nothings who during the Vietnam War shouted, “Love it or leave it!” under the banner of the flag, the answer then was “Change it or lose it!” That was a correct response then and it’s still correct.

      In a way, it’s gratifying to have received the e-mail, whether it was yours or not. It shows that my efforts to make my viewpoint known are not entirely without effect. At least some people are reading some of what I’ve written.

      The right to speak out freely is supposedly one of the most important rights of Americans, embodied in the Bill of Rights.

      There’s one “correction.” I'm now 78. Gladys has never responded. I guess she has no balls. Do you?
      Allan didn’t miss a beat. His next-day reply:
Date: Tue, 4 Nov 2003 12:41:27 -0600 (Allan to George)

Whether I have balls or not has nothing to do with any reply I make. First I don’t believe a word of your bio. There are a lot of 45 year old guys on the web posing as 16 year old girls. Second, I don’t care one way or the other about you and your life story, but anyone who talks about “cabals” in this country is, as I said before, a “fucking retard”. Even if you are really retired, you still should get a job because you have way too much time on your hands.

      I took a week to mull it over, and then wrote:
Date: Wed, 12 Nov 2003 09:23:06 -0600 (George to Allan)

      OK, you're right! Whether or not you have balls is totally irrelevant regarding any reply you make. That’s one for you. The score is 1-0. Now it’s my turn at bat.

      You say, “First I don’t believe a word of your bio. There are a lot of 45 year old guys on the web posing as 16 year old girls.” Good street-wise response. So here’s the evidence I am who I say I am.

1. Go to Google, search for University of Massachusetts Boston.
2. Clicking on the top listing will take you to the UMass-Boston home page.
3. Below the picture, at Search for people by last name: type Salzman and click: Go. Get's to Directory Search Result page.
4. At bottom left click on Salzman, George. Gets to the UMass-Boston page on me.
5. Click on the links below "Relevant Links:" That should give you plenty of evidence of my identity.

      If you do that, then we'll be tied, 1-1.

      After that we can get into the substance of our disagreements. Obviously you think I’m a “fucking retard”, and I think you’re an “ignorant asshole.” Of course we could both be right, but neither of us believes that.

      Allan, I want to thank you, both for writing me initially, and for answering my last note. Truth is, I’m working my ass off to try to counter what I see as a flood of government and corporate media propaganda, and most of the responses I get are from people who think I’m “right on.” But that’s not useful. It’s like “preaching to the choir” — they already believe we’re being fed a pack of lies. What I would really like to do is to discuss things with folks like you who are totally on the other side. So I hope you’ll write back again. No shit. I really do.

      Since then Allan has written five times, including his most recent note of Nov 17, and I’ve written him twice, though of course he’s also gotten the many e-mails I’ve sent out to my list during that time. Clearly, his views haven’t changed very much, if at all. Nor have mine. Except that I was wrong to say, “I think you’re an ignorant asshole”. When I wrote that I wasn’t characterizing him carefully. I simply labelled him that way as a reflexive response to his calling me “a fucking retard”. As if to say, “I’m not taking any shit from you!”. But the fact, I now believe, is that

Allan Gibbs is not stupid – he’s not an asshole

      He’s no more an asshole than Joe Bageant’s [2] white working class bar buddies in Appalachia. Nor than the still tens of millions, maybe many tens of millions, of Americans who, according to the polls still believe in and support the Bush administration and its policies.

Ignorance is not stupidity — the problem is ignorance

      And ignorance doesn’t come easily to a grown person. It's got to be deliberately cultivated. Here, once again, Joe Bageant <bageantjb@netscape.net> is right on the mark, incisive and direct with no bullshit.

Joe Bageant, July 24, 2005, photo by G.S.

His essay, “Son of a Laboring God: Gettin' down and dumb at Burt's Tavern”,[3] is a rich lode of insights into our America. He prefaces his essay with a quote of former U.S. Senator from Virginia, Harry Flood Byrd, which, we may safely assume, was made on an occasion when the dignified senator was not addressing working people:

“Too much public education only gets working
people riled up and full of backsass”
. . .
    Every customer at Burt's loves George Bush. Worships George Bush. One reason is because George Bush doesn’t give a shit. When his detractors point out the complete fraud of WMDs, he doesn’t give a shit. When newspapers worldwide suggest Bush may be the biggest international threat today, Bush does not give a shit. This gives him street cred among these people who for better or worse, I must call my own. Why should they give a shit about international opinion? After all, as presented by the media, the world outside is altogether nasty terrain — a news hour nether region from whence child suicide bombers swarm toward us in a tide that will only be stopped by a good old goddam American pounding with the biggest ball-busting bombs we can muster. So Bush “sounds right” when he says, “We will not cut and run.” And when George Bush sneers “Bring ‘em on!” he sounds even more right. Sounding right is everything when you don’t know shit from Shinola. Here is their political universe, which I’m sure you’ve heard before but it’s always best to keep horsecrap in one pile.

    – Muslims are out to kill us all. So we need to kill them all first.
    – Democrats, a party of liberal queers supported by ghetto blacks, Commie college professors and Mafia-backed unions, let 9/11 happen.
    – The world hates us because we are rich.
    – The snail-eating, wine-besotted French are a bunch of spiteful pussies, ungrateful that we saved their asses in World War II.

    And that’s it. That is the common wisdom. If it appears too common to be believable, then you have never lived in the American South.

Pooty, how did we get so dumb?

    Despite how it appears, our mamas did not drop us on our heads. What I watch in Burt’s with such mixed feelings of humor and outrage is America's unacknowledged class system at work.

. . .
    The lives and intellectual cultures of the hardest working people in these [American southern heartland] towns are not just stunted by the smallness of the society into which they were born. They are purposefully held in bondage by a local network of moneyed families, bankers, developers, lawyers, and business people in whose interests it is to have a cheap, unquestioning and compliant labor force. They invest in developing such a force by not investing (how’s that for making money out of thin air!) in the education and quality of life for anyone but their own. ... If you think I'm insinuating that the pecker-in-the-dirt ignorance of folks like those at Burt's has been institutionalized and cultivated, you are right. ...

    ... And I am not talking about ghettos either. I’m talking about the heartland of America where it’s supposed to be all lightning bug summers and hotdogs on the grill. ...

    ... Neo-conservative leaders understand quite well that education has a liberalizing effect on a society. Presently they are devising methods to smuggle resources to those American madrassas,[4] the Christian fundamentalist schools, a sure way to make the masses even more stupid [ignorant Joe, not stupid ! – G.S.] if ever there was one. Is it any wonder the Gallup Poll tells us that 48 percent of Americans believe that God ... made the universe in seven days? ...

      So there's Joe, calling for a decent, basic education for everyone. I’ve been trying to get more folks turned on to Joe Bageant [5] ever since I learned about him from my close friend James Herod <jamesherod@gmail.com> at the start of this year. And James too has a lot to say about the value of true education in his essay, Getting Free: A sketch of an association of democratic, autonomous neighborhoods and how to create it.[6] Joe and James, two more of my unsung heroes.

Now, about my prostate — and education
in the jungles of southern Mexico

      I mentioned to Martin during his recent visit here that one morning while Nancy and I were arguing about something, I remarked to her that the final pleasure to be derived from a body orifice is that of arguing. Even the senses of taste and smell grow dull with age, and the joy of good food diminishes accordingly, but the ability to argue remains robust. Martin disagreed – about the final pleasure, that is, citing Viagra. We disagree about so much. That's why we're such good friends. There’s always something to argue about.

      Truth is, hearing about my prostate would be as fascinating as dutifully looking with polite make-believe enthusiasm while a gushing grandparent relentlessly subjects you to an endless pile of snapshots of “adorable” grandchildren doing silly things. If I insisted, you might put up with it — like with the pictures, but sure as hell you wouldn’t enjoy it. So I’ll spare you the clinical details of my body parts. Instead, back to Martin, who I’m trying to cure of his addiction to the New York Times.

      Speaking of the Zapatistas, Martin, as I reported in my prior posting, remarked about the subcomandante, “Marcos is a blowhard” and, although it might to some extent be justified, that ticked Nancy off (she’s in love with Marcos – as I am with subcomandanta Ramona – we all have our fantasies, don’t we). A few days after Martin and Virginia left, I wrote Virginia, ‘I’m still struggling with my next piece [this one], trying to convince my good “muddled liberal” friends (as Martin jokingly referred to himself during our lengthy encuentro) to “jump ship”, i.e. get off the S.S. New York Times. ... Martin was rather disdainful of the Zapatistas, which I believe probably reflects his (and your) general outlook as sophisticated urban intellectuals rather than very much specific information about what they are actually accomplishing. ...’

Never mind Subcomandante Marcos — What’s happening
‘on the ground’ in Zapatista base communities?

      To gain an understanding of the Zapatistas in any depth, to say nothing of accuracy, the last source to rely on – that is, among those of the corporate media that even pretend to cover the news – is the New York Times. One illustration of the distorted perspective offered by the Times to its faithful intellectual addicts is its report on the August 28, 2005 meeting in the Lacandon jungle in Chiapas.[7] The Zapatistas convened this particular meeting, the fourth of six, with a wide variety of civil groups from many parts of Mexico, as part of their preparation for their new initiative to reach out to the large more-or-less left-oriented part of Mexican society that now totally lacks any respect for the dominant political system and which may be receptive to “the Other Campaign”, as the Zapatistas term their drive to move Mexico towards popular governance independent of the fatally corrupted, incorrigible system of electoral politics.

      It’s well worth reading the Times article [7] in order to contrast it with the equally partisan but far more informative (as well as inspiring and honest) report of the very same meeting by Alberto Giordano in NarcoNews.[8] Al’s is really a wonderful piece of writing. He too is a product – although a rebellious one – of the “news junkie” culture that sees the benefit of sexing up the news with glamorous personalities, and so he prefaces his report with a quote (from a month or two earlier) by the “charismatic leader”:

“...There are two insurgent women doing sentry duty here for the Red Alert in the EZLN headquarters. They are, as the compas say, ‘one hundred percent indigenous and one hundred percent Mexican.’ One is 18 and the other 16. In other words, in 1994, the one was 6 and the other was 4. There are dozens like them in our mountain positions, hundreds in the militias, thousands in organizational and community positions, tens of thousands in the Zapatista communities. The immediate commander of the two doing sentry duty is an insurgent lieutenant, an indigenous man, 22 years old, in other words, he was 10 years old in 1994. The position is under the command of an insurgent captain, also indigenous who, as it should be, likes literature very much and is 24 years old, that is, he was 12 at the beginning of the uprising. And there are men and women all over these lands who passed from childhood to youth to maturity in the Zapatista resistance.”
– Zapatista Subcomandante Marcos, July 2005

      That’s good, heady stuff, but it still doesn’t tell much – except perhaps by inference – about what’s happening in the Zapatista base communities, where the humble people are forging the foundation of the struggle with their unglamorous but heroic Zapatismo-on-the-ground everyday living. They exist in largely silent struggle, the unarmed luchadores sociales — the social strugglers. What is the face of their lives? To glimpse that we must go twice removed from the twisted, intentionally distorted pseudo-news of the corporate press, to the on-the-ground work of people like Richard Stahler-Sholk <rsholk@gmail.com>.

      Like Giordano, and Bruno Traven before him, Richard is “on the right – i.e. correct – side”; he’s unequivocally allied with las indígenes, the indigenous campesino Indians, especially those who count themselves in the Zapatista camp. Because he’s a very different person than Al, not in integrity but in style and immediate goals, his reporting and Al’s are complementary. The reports of both of them are of course authentic, contrary to those of the corporate media’s embedded-in-capitalism reporters.

      Richard’s blog, called “From the mountains of the Mexican southeast”, is at http://richinchiapas.blogspot.com/. He states simply, “I’m on sabbatical leave from Eastern Michigan University, doing research in Chiapas, Mexico on the Zapatista autonomy movement (for a year starting June 29, 2005). These are some reflections along the way. The most recent posting is at the top.” In his entry of November 13, 2005 he gives an account of his week (Monday, Nov 7 through Saturday, Nov 12) at a Zapatista teacher training school in El Conejo, Chiapas. He writes, in part, “The council members ... tell me I can observe the classes ... [and] can also talk to the trainers.” Richard did not gain easy entry; it occurred only after the local autoridades came to trust him. It’s an example of their exercise of local autonomy.

      Part of that week’s blog entry follows:

    ... six trainers from Mexico City (five women and one man, all in their mid- to late twenties) welcome them [the student teachers] to the final session of their two-year course. These promoters are the second graduating class since the school was founded in 2001, and already some of them from the first generation are preparing to become trainers, so the Mexico City volunteers will phase themselves out.

    I chat with the trainers during one of the breaks and learn that they are part of a team of twenty that meets twice a week back in Mexico City when they're not here in El Conejo. They are not professional educators – there is one undergrad education student and a history student from the Metropolitan University, a journalist, a biologist, an unemployed graduate in rural development, and a student of history and anthropology at the national university (UNAM). The UNAM student tells me he got politicized during the year-long university strike a few years ago, when the government tried to follow neoliberal "free market" prescriptions and impose tuition and curtail autonomy at the free public university. Mexico's revolutionary Constitution of 1917 guarantees free public secular education, so this was the equivalent for students of what the agrarian counterreform of 1992 represented for peasants, a line in the sand. In the end the government made concessions but brought in riot police to remove the occupiers, a violation of university autonomy that shocked and woke up many people.

    The idea for the school at El Conejo came from the autonomous municipal authorities, who drew up a detailed plan of the kind of "true education" they wanted, then went to one of the NGO coordinating groups to ask them to find volunteer trainers. The original five had just met each other and had two weeks to put together the first classes. They say they've learned a lot in the four years the project has been running, and they attribute its success to the political clarity and organization of the autonomous authorities, who work closely with them to keep the project true to the objectives of the communities. [emphasis added -G.S.]

    The session opens with the trainers outlining the lesson plan for the month with the promoters. The first two and a half days will be devoted to pedagogy and educational philosophy ("true education"). Then there will be a day on "recovery of knowledge," with promoters reporting back on how their respective communities are overcoming obstacles to obtaining the Zapatistas' 13 demands. Then the rest of the month will be spent on the four substantive teaching areas — languages, history, math, and life sciences ("life and environment"). The pedagogy and community knowledge parts sound particularly interesting to me, so I'm glad I'm able to be here for the start of the session.

. . .

    There is a break in classes in the afternoon, resuming for a couple of hours in the evening. The 40+ teenage education promoters, including six women (one with her 5-year-old son in tow) and six trainers share benches and desks, gathered under a single bare low-watt bulb. Men and women sit together, a rarity in these communities. They work with enthusiasm, sometimes breaking into groups, sometimes working on a problem and coming back together for discussion. The trainers periodically call on one of the promoters to translate complicated ideas into Tzeltal and Ch'ol. They do a brainstorming session to list "educational tools," including everything from pencils and chalk

Boys with bananas – a "true" Zapatista education, photo by R.S.-S.

to lesson plans and interactive exercises to community knowledge, then discuss applications. They talk about different phases of organizing the teaching process, then read a story about two community educators and identify the different parts of their work in the story. There is a long discussion about the importance of teachers understanding the community context — whether it is a divided or unified community, whether there is a military base or water source nearby, what plants grow in the area — so that lessons and examples are relevant to people's actual experience and needs. The first day's class ends around 6:30 p.m., just as another rain rolls in. There is an evening "reinforcement" session for those whose literacy and other basic skills need boosting. [emphasis added -G.S.]

      The entire posting is as rich in information and insights into the actual living conditions of the ordinary Zapatistas as the above excerpts from Richard’s account of his first day at the training school for teachers. These excerpts, just over 750 words, are but a fraction of his account of his week at the El Conejo teacher training school, an account which totals almost 21,500 words.

      Richard proposed a solidarity project to the Junta of Good Government (the autonomous municipality’s governing council), which they authorized. He wrote, in his previous post to the blog,

... since I'm going to be in Dallas for a week in December (9th-16th) ... I ... [will] try to raise funds for school supplies for the autonomous schools in the municipality. The Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice (ICPJ) in Ann Arbor ... agreed to receive tax-deductible donations ... and I'll bring the funds back here with me in December and buy the materials locally and bring them for distribution to the municipality. ... the autonomous municipality now serves 1,787 students in 44 different communities. The teacher training school is about to begin training its third generation of education promoters, and in 2006 the first generation of the most experienced teachers will prepare to become teacher trainers themselves, so the Mexico City solidarity collective (Semillitas del Sol, or little seeds of sunlight) that has been training the teachers will just serve as advisors. The Education Commission has plans and dreams to expand the number of schools throughout the 110 communities in the municipality (county), and some day to establish a "third level" (secondary school) where the promoters can continue their own autonomous education.

      I believe this project of international solidarity to help build local intellectual autonomy is exemplary. I sent a $1,000 contribution. Additional information is at http://people.emich.edu/rstahler/education-project.pdf. As Richard says: You can join the resistance and support Zapatista autonomous schools! Tax-deductible donations will be used 100% for school supplies, purchased in Chiapas and brought directly to the autonomous jungle region. Make checks out to ICPJ (write “Chiapas Education” in the memo line and send to:
      Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice
      730 Tappan St.
      Ann Arbor, MI 48104

Not despair, but intelligent activism — the way to go

      Last night (Sunday, Nov 27, 2005) Eldad Benary <eldad@hvc.rr.com> forwarded despairing e-mails he’d just exchanged with a New York City friend of his, Teri <bustybrain@excite.com>. Teri’s note, titled “I just shake my head”, began, ‘I don’t want to sound like the voice of doom but the US is heading for a HUGE fall.’ Eldad answered, ‘Just watched 60 Minutes, they had a segment on the enormous houses that are being built now, 11000 sq. ft is not considered very large anymore. The large ones are 30.000-40.000 sq ft and even larger. They showed one new house for 2 people a daughter and a dog that had 5 bed rooms, 7 bath rooms and myriad other rooms ... The master bathroom was as they said “the size of 2 NYCity studio appartments”.’ Teri answered, ‘I know what you’re saying, I just saw 60 Minutes and that’s what prompted my meltdown. Why the HELL does anyone need that much room? What is the point? It enraged me when I think about people around the world who are so grateful for so little and greedy social status seeking americans are building these monstrosities. I agree with the architect - it's VULGARIA!!! I too shook my head. Truly revolting. BTW [by the way], 40.000 sq. ft. is an acre!’

      Millions of good American people are, I’m sure, lamenting. It doesn’t do any good. In fact, it’s also psychologically destructive. Instead, let’s start building solidarity with our neighbors. Let’s start figuring out how to gain control of our own lives, let’s live instead of just lamenting. And turn off the fucking television!

― G.S., November 28, 2005

[1] The posting titled, “We don’t need a hurricane; the time for revolution is now!”, is at http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/Strate/Notz/2005-09-22.htm.

[2] Joe Bageant’s affection for the ordinary working stiffs – his “poor white trash” tavern buddies in Winchester, Virginia – comes out clearly in his essays, for example in “It Ain’t Easy Being White”, at http://www.coldtype.net/Assets.05/Essays/04.Joe.White.pdf.

[3] Son of a Laboring God: Gettin' down and dumb at Burt's Tavern is at http://www.coldtype.net/Assets.04/Essays.04/labor.pdf.

[4] According to the Wikipedia page at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madrassa, “[t]he word madrasah ... means a “school.” It is often incorrectly transliterated in the media as madrassa, madrash, or madressa. This particular word also exists in many Arabic-influenced languages such as, Urdu, Persian, Turkish, Kurdish, Indonesian, Malaysian etc. In Arabic, ... [it] implies no context other than that which the word school represents in the English language, such as private, public or parochial school, as well as for any primary or secondary school whether Muslim, non-Muslim or secular.”

[5] An essay of Joe’s that got me thinking hard about the whole concept of complicity is his “Carpooling with Adolph Eichmann”. It was a take-off point for my “The pageantry of Joe Bageantry, or, we gotta get America straightened out”, which is at http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/Strate/Discus/2005-07-16.htm.

[6] Getting Free: A sketch of an association of democratic, autonomous neighborhoods and how to create it, by James Herod, at http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/Strate/GetFre/index.htm.

[7] The NY Times piece, by James C. McKinley Jr., is titled, “At a 60's Style Be-In, Guns Yield to Words, Lots of Words.” Datelined San Miguel, August 31, 2005 [a Sunday], it was published three days later. Available at http://www.eco.utexas.edu/Homepages/Faculty/Cleaver/TOC20050831NYTStoryFourthMtg.htm. A few paragraphs exemplify the attitude conveyed:
    “The weekend gathering looked like a cross between the Woodstock concert, a Grange Hall meeting and a convention of Che Guevara fans. At times it looked as if a public hearing in the East Village had been transported to a horse pasture in the rugged green mountains here.
    “More than 280 small nongovernmental organizations, artists, punk rockers, students, rappers and social workers attended – a panoply of left-leaning folks on the fringe of Mexican politics who have rallied to the Zapatista banner. Many of the charities have been formed since 1994 just to aid the Zapatistas.
    “The attendees included an organization representing lesbian anarchists, a collective of witches, advocates fighting the privatization of waterworks, gay-rights promoters who call themselves polysexuals and well-respected human rights monitors in Chiapas.”

[8] Giordano’s report, titled “Growing Up Zapatista: The Ideological Children of Mexico’s Rebels Aren’t – or Soon Won’t Be – Kids Anymore”, is at http://www.narconews.com/Issue38/article1416.html. Though it has some sharp critical observations of the self-centered behavior of some of the not-so-young-anymore attendees, it is free of the smirking attitude towards the Zapatistas and their supporters characteristic of the McKinley piece in the New York Times. Not that Al doesn’t smirk: he lays it on the Times reporter, whose article he derisively terms a “newbie”, to distinguish it from real news, like a cheap nibble of junk-food when what’s needed is real nourishment.

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Last update of this page: November 28, 2005