The KKK has decided to come out of the woodwork in response to the groundswell against the Confederate flag and other celebrations of the antebellum South. After Dylan Roof’s genocidal rage was let loose in Charleston, South Carolina, the Ku Klux Klan and National Socialist Movement came from out-of-state to rally in Columbia, South Carolina on July 18th. During this action several anti-fascist organizers were arrested and charged with criminal penalties, and the media and state coverage has smeared them as “troublemakers.”
We are calling for support for anti-fascist prisoners of this action, including Stephen Loughman who is being supported by the The Defend Steve Support Committee.
A second counter-protester, Eddien Patterson, was also targeted by the police with a second degree felony assault charge and misdemeanor battery charge. This is an outrageous over-reach by law enforcement, where Eddien seems to be getting “special treatment” because he is a man of color who dared to stand up to the Klan. He was on probation at the time of the arrest and is now serving a ten-month sentence for a probation violation, and needs our support right now!
From the group supporting Eddien:
Currently we are trying to find a lawyer for Eddien, but he has requested that money be added to his books and desires to receive letters.
As many people saw, a quick blog was posted less than a week ago covering the recent #cuckservative hashtag. The goal of this was really just to provide a little context for those who are not up on the clashes between GOP traditionalists and the far-right. The main focus of this was The Right Stuff and their podcast, The Daily Shoah. This quickly got to the attention of the neoreaction themselves, and was shared widely amongst The Right Stuff supporters. This allowed us a night of entertainment where pop up messages came accusing us of being “dirty Jews” and having a strange chain of the regular alt-right comment types. The strange thing we noticed about these comments were so many of them seemed to want to make friends with us, and a lot of them seemed to believe that things like “you are the real fascists” and “how can white supremacy exist if all the leaders are Jews” were substantive intellectual fodder. The comments were relatively the same on The Right Stuff’s own forum, except they mixed in videos of black face, mentions of the Third Reich, and the kind of vicious racial hatred and language that deserves a brick, not a response.
This then led to The Daily Shoah dedicating us a full fifteen minutes on their podcast, a period that was apparently too long to refrain from using the n-word. We appreciate the promotion, and we wanted to go ahead and both address some of the things mentioned and to shine a light on what it really means to be a “shitlord.”
One thing that they picked up almost immediately is a couple mistakes we made, which we will gladly correct. First we mentioned that they referred to black men as “Dingos,” which is actually “Dindus.” This was something that was incredibly important to them, and was even in the glossary of silly words that they use to “class up” their podcast. I also referred to their host as Goy, and their main hosts are actually Seventh Son and Enoch (though the person I did refer to now goes by Goy, not sure if that is because he wants our fandom).
They then went on a rant about the article and all the mistakes, though we really do beg them to mention any mistakes that were beyond things like who the main host was and word mistakes. The key issue in the article was not about whether or not the alt-right is racist, that is clear from the get go, but exactly what the motivation is. As you go through Radix, Counter-Currents, American Renaissance, Traditionalist Youth Network, Council of Conservative Citizens, and oh so many more there is their own type of coded language. Unlike traditional conservatives that try to use “dog whistle” racialism to signal their base while accusing the left of “real racism,” the alt-right conventionally hides behind a similarly obvious series of symbols and easy-outs.
Let’s start with a few phrases that are common on the alt-right (though, for reasons I’ll get to later, not common on TRS or TDS). Ethnopluraism, ethnonationalism, pan-Europeanism, and many others that essentially have similar etymology. What most of these idea represent is the notion that racial nationalism, or even more specific ethnic nationalism, is the main function of a radical alt-right movement. The argument goes then that ethnic nationalism is the right of all peoples, and it literally has nothing to do with the inferiority of or hatred towards people of color. The Human Biological Diversity issues brought up in places like American Renaissance are often couched as “group differences” as a way of saying that perceived difference in IQ or criminality is only an example that black people (or whoever the target racial minority is that week) need their own homeland because their genetic make-up doesn’t allow them to fit correctly in white culture. Many of these groups go even further than this, often times even using language that celebrates minority cultural organizations, and anti-Semitism is often on the back-burner of most of these websites and justified using very marginal ideas in evolutionary psychology. On the majority of these websites you will never see a Klan robe, swastika, 14:88, holocaust denial, and other hallmarks of the vanguardist far-right. Even Stormfront bans racial slurs and swastikas at this point. These are the politics of respectability, and they really are making an argument for racial nationalism as being separate from the racial violence we saw for centuries with colonialism, genocide, slavery, Jim Crow, the Holocaust, etc.
Then there is The Right Stuff.
On their podcast you will hear open racial slurs, incredibly vile racial insults, jokes about the holocaust (as well as what appears to be denial, though that is not a main target of discussion), deep hatred of Jews, discussion about how women manipulate men and make false rape accusations, and basically reinforce white supremacist orthodoxy that many of these alt-right sources would say are a caricature of nationalist that no longer exists.
So then, we could easily say that these are two separate movements, two different ideological positions. Except they aren’t.
As they acknowledged when playing fanboy to our website, their members have gone on Radix Journal podcast. They do host Greg Johnson from Radix. They do attend American Renaissance, and they are generally tied to the broader pseudo-intellectual racist movement. Their ideas are functionally the same while the value judgments and crass nature are different. They actually do think that people of color, especially people of African decent, are inferior. They actually do think that Jews control the world and deserve the violence that has been inflicted upon them. They actually do think that people of color benefited from colonialism because they cannot govern their own affairs. (Or have agency, as they like to say)
They even lamented the fact that the infamous /r/CoonTown subreddit network was taken off of Reddit. This is where you had forums to share videos of black people being murdered and to discuss general hatred against African Americans.
You say that we did not do our homework, but we actually have listened to your entire first season of The Daily Shoah, so maybe we are actually your most committed followers.
The real question that they raise, however, is about the functioning of Anti-Fascist Action. While throwing out the same ad hominem that the far-right likes to do that it is a middle class movement (it has predominantly been the British working class left that founded antifa), that we are Marxists (it is predominantly an anarchist-driven movement), they went after their very core argument: that we are the “militant” wing of the “system.”
This is one that antifascists usually ignore because, on its face, it is completely meaningless. Our decisions to be opposed to or inside “the system” has little to do with anti-racist and antifascist inclinations. Likewise, there is this notion that we side with the police. Antifascist Action has traditionally used “physical resistance” to confront and eliminate fascist organizing, which is inherently illegal. Likewise, those organizing with Antifa are, usually, of a political organization opposed to the state. That said, the final intention of antifascist organizing is to stop fascists. Period. There is no moral function here since the decisions about why we want to eliminate fascist organizing was made before entering into discussions of tactics. We will feel absolutely nothing about police smashing up a fascist gathering and suppressing your speech because you are seen as an enemy. Period.
This does, however, present a real concrete issue for antifascist organizers who do not actually want to empower the police in general. The alternative that is presented is to create a militant community response that, whenever possible, does not engage with the police. The majority of large racist rallies in the U.S. have police protection because of the inflammatory nature. Look at recent rallies by Traditionalist Youth Network, the KKK, League of the South, and many others all rely on police protection to be able to speak. Likewise, recent statistical research from the FBI show a higher than average percentage of racialist organizational members inside the police force. Not much of a shocker there. We do not care what the police’s intentions or goals are with busting up fascist organizing because they have little connection to our own. We do not care about your illegality, about your silly gang culture, or if you are running drugs. We confront you because you are violent blast from the past, the direct inverse of radical organizing.
The argument then that we are on the side of the “status quo” is one that is actually true to a degree. We do stand with the vast majority of working class people that see we have much more to gain by coming together in solidarity than we do by dividing ourselves by arbitrary phenotypes. There is nothing that bonds a white person biologically to another white person over a person of color, and to say that there is has been one of the most long-standing misreading of science by those with racial anger and fear as their motivation. While we see that conscious racism is no longer a dominant paradigm, due directly to the long-working anti-racist organizing of the last 200 years, institutional racism is still alive in well. The antifascist movement, however, is only targeting a specific subset of the reactionary white population who is desperately trying to hold onto the illusionary benefits of white privilege. Anytime you see a revolution happening that challenges the hierarchy that the ruling class benefits from, you will see some try to hold onto the meager superiority they have. This is true white white nationalists, as well as Men’s Rights Activists in regards to gender equality, the Religious Right in regards to queer rights, and so on. In a period of social upheaval, there will always be a vanguard of the fascist movement, and as working-class organizers that is one of the greatest enemies of mass social transformation in the direction of democracy and equality. In a funny way, we assume you would agree with this.
At the same time, what is the status quo? For most of American history there has been a mass white on color genocide and enslavement. Millions of Native Americans murdered, black people turned into livestock, and, today, literally locking up an entire generation of African Americans. What is the status quo here? Those working to eliminate the most glaring examples of conscious racism, or those wanting to reinforce the implicit racism that defines American institutions? We are aware that from your standing point you are oppressed by multiculturalism. I’m wondering if a black man being lynched by the Klan would agree that you are oppressed because you might be reprimanded at work for using the n-word. Yeah, you certainly are a victim class.
So what is the threat of fascism? This is actually something we have answered on this website at length. We will direct you to the first two articles in a series that explains why we oppose fascism, which includes the variants you prefer such as New Right, Alt Right, neoreaction, Dark Enlightenment, etc.(What is the Real Threat of Fascist Organizing? and Anarchism vs Fascism) The third will be out shortly dealing with the lone-wolf violence that your rhetoric inspires, and we will gladly send it over. These fascist ideas, rooted in traditionalism, racialism, and hierarchy, are the functional opposite of what drives our organizing. You could say that we literally have nothing in common.
You were right about one thing, however, you did drive a ton of traffic to the website! This website and Facebook page are literally just a couple weeks old, so it is still getting moving. The reason we will continue to talk about you is, for one, you are the plainest and simple example of your ideas. There is no nuance here. You say exactly what you mean, and so you make counter-organizing that much easier.
So thank you TRS, keep up the work. We’ll be listening.
When the #Cuservative meme first came up we assumed that this would be dropped in a couple days, and therefore would not be worth commenting. It quickly erupted as a “troll focused” group of internet white nationalists used it to attack mainstream conservatives from National Review to Congressional staffers. Now a couple weeks later it is not only still a viable hashtag, but it is the talk of the town inside the “pro-white” camp.
So what is #Cuckservative? Why is it unique?
Inside the discussions from white nationalists and racialists about the term Cuckservative, it is clear that they are not entirely sure where it came from. If it did not come from them, it is certainly popularized by a growing website The Right Stuff. They promoted the term on their site, their contributors have been using it over and over again under fake Twitter accounts, and they have gone on more popular racist podcasts and websites to discuss the phenomenon. The term draws from the world cuckold, a concept where by one male has sex with an other male’s female. This idea has long been a lurid fascination for those with open anti-black bigotry, one that has existed through history in literature like Othello and even occurs naturally when one species of bird lays their eggs in another species’ nest. White nationalists continue to focus on illusionary concepts like dramatic “group differences” between the races, often accusing African Americans of lower IQs yet large genitals. This is a way of assuming them more animal-like qualities, but also drawing on folk myths about black male sexuality to demean them. The flip side of this is that it also assumes them power, one where by the black male is more virile and sexually satisfying than they are. The fear is then always that they will be cuckolded by having their white partner be seduced by the “sexually and physically superior” person of a different race. This is both fetishized and feared, and gives us a quick insight into the profoundly disturbed mind of those advocating open racial separation. Even the most basic discussion of this includes some of the most vile racism that has creeped its way into the 21st century, reminding us the visceral hatred that some people have towards black men.
So why call conservatives Cuckservative? They regularly advocate for an ethnic politic based on “protecting your own.” They assume then that white people have distinct racial interests, which are then harmed when non-white groups gain power or are allowed into the society through immigration. They are then accusing mainstream conservatives who have began to shift (very, very little) to racial inclusivity of being cuckolded by racial minorities. These Republicans are acting in someone else’s interests at the cost of their own, and therefore are politically a cuckold.
If we are even to ignore the clearly misogynist and racist surface elements of the cuckold name, its popularity and use reveals something very clear about the growing above-ground far-right movement. To do this, looking at The Right Stuff makes some sense. This is one of the more disgusting and offensive sectors of the “alternative right” or “neo-reaction” where they choose to openly use racial slurs, degrade women and rape survivors, mock the holocaust and call for violence against Jews. Their podcast, The Daily Shoah, which is a play on The Daily Show and the Yiddish term for The Holocaust, is a roundtable discussion of different racists broadcasting under pseudonyms. Here they do voice “impressions” of Jews, and consistently use terms like “Nig Nog,” “Muds(referring to “mud races,” meaning non-white), and calling people of African descent “Dingos.” The N-word, homophobic slurs, and calls for enforced cultural patriarchy and heteronormativity are commonplace. Now, this may be what you would expect from a crowd like this, but this is no longer the norm. The use of rhetoric like this is almost entirely missing from groups like American Renaissance, Counter-Currents, Radix Journal, Alternative Right, and even Stormfront, the main hub for racist groups who recently banned swastikas and racial slurs. On these various news sites and publishers, you will find a lot of discussions about philosophical “ethnonationalism,” discussions of group differences through “human biological diversity,” and many topics that are often the property of the left such as critiques of state authoritarianism and capitalism.
As this shift in the public far-right discourse happens, The Right Stuff and the Daily Shoah stand out as having a sort of “old school racist” dialogue. This does not, however, actually leave them on the margins of the movement. Within the first few days of this #cuckservative Twitter trend the main host of The Daily Shoah, named “goy” from the assumed name that Jewish people have for Gentiles, came onto Richard Spencer’s Radix Journal Podcast to discuss it. This is the same podcast that, in the next episode, hosted former National Review columnist and VDare founder Peter Brimelow. Greg Johnson of Counter-Currents, which focuses on their pseudo-intellectual pedigree with attempts at high-brow discussions, jumped down in the mud and actually went on The Daily Shoah and joined in as they constantly called people “N—–s.” These were only a few of the more “respectable” racists that joined in with this meme, openly supporting The Right Stuff for continuing their work.
It has been long said by Radix founder Richard Spencer that it would be good if people were immediately confused by Radix and thought that it was a website of “far-left” ideas. Much of this comes from his desire to break from mainstream conservatism, but also to believe that they are beyond “conventional right and left.” With this you may actually, on first glance, not correlate many of the more popular white nationalist publications and sites to neo-Nazis and the KKK, but the new support of #Cuckservative is revealing. Underneath the surface language, the coloring and aggression, is a common politic and an open support of one for the other. What this means is essentially that Radix and Counter-Currents are the same as The Daily Shoah, though they prefer a different script and are targeted towards a college educated crowd rather than a blue collar one. The Right Stuff tries to mimic the aggression and reactionary insults of right-wing talk radio like Rush Limbaugh, while Radix would love to look a lot more like that trendy Critical Theory journal young grad students are clamoring to be published in. In the end, however, they both share the same ideas about race and gender. What separates them? The thin politics of respectability, and with the open support of The Right Stuff they have lifted this veil and have shown them for what they really are.
So why is #cuckservative trending now? Well it comes in the direct admiration that many of these people, The Daily Shoah especially, are having for Donald Trump. This should not be interpreted as the same kind of support they would have had for former candidates like Pat Buchanan or David Duke, but they enjoy the callous and nativist/nationalist rhetoric that he has been throwing around, shifting the Republican primary discourse far to the right. They like seeing him “Call out” his colleagues, bait women, and openly insults Latino immigrants from the southern border. He is doing more than “dog whistle” politics, he is openly playing footsy with his racist base. This has allowed racialist discourse to shift into the public, making #cuckservative an accusation that mainstream Republicans feel like they have to answer to. And there have even been some clear support from institutional GOP supporters, with people from Breitbart often supporting the nationalists as they call other conservatives “cucks.”
As the “alternative right” attempts to come in as a viable radical alternative to “liberalism” and “multiculturalism” we need to continue to point out that they are discredited and disgusting fascist notions repackaged in fancy internet language. Cuckservative is a reminder that under their overly-complicated rhetoric, is an angry white man, yelling at his computer because he cannot give up the mild amount of privilege he has been given through the suffering of people of color.
We are continuing to bring you Vice Magazine’s anti-fascist videos under the “Hate in Europe” series, which looks at the different fascist movements in Europe and their anti-fascist response. A lot of neo-fascist parties and organizations throughout Europe are basing their growth on the targeting of Muslim immigration into generally “white” countries.
In Austria, the anti-Islamic group Pegida(Patriotic Europeans Against Islamization of the West) is going after Muslim neighborhoods, demanding that they leave “their” country. Pegida began in Germany, but is now prevalent in Austria, Switzerland, Spain, Belgium, and other Western European countries. This is part of a larger movement, which is taken up by the Austrian Freedom Party, UKIP, the National Democratic Party, the European Defense League, and a whole number of other above ground movements calling for a hault on Muslim immigration into Europe. As is happening in a lot of places, such as with the Ultras in Rome, Pegida takes the form of soccer hooliganism, where the social bonds that keep it organized were developed in sports arenas.
The anti-fascist protesters that formed noted that Pegida began by protesting foreigners and refugees, and act that clearly undermines their claims that they are just against the conservative and anti-democratic strains of Islam. They were using the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris in 2014 to whip up a racist and Islamophobic fervor.
Continuing to share Vice Magazine’s documentary coverage of European fascist/anti-fascist clashes, we are sharing their video on the violence that occurred at the Music Day festival in London. The party Zjednoczeni Emigranci Londyn (Emigrants United London), which is a Polish ultra-nationalist organization, began attacking the crowd at Music Day because of their multiracial nature. Though they only had a small handful of participants(20 or so neo-fascists), this is a part of the new trend towards racist street action where the rhetoric is specifically targeted at non-white European immigrants.
Continuing with our mission to collect and share incredible stories on the conflict between fascist and anti-fascist organizing world wide, we have been sharing the various short documentaries that Vice has been producing about the growth of the far-right around the world. Here, they are looking at the rise of Swedish nationalism, and the incredibly militant anti-fascist groups that have formed to combat them. The Revolutionary Front is using all means at their disposal to force racists out into the open, which has been important as immigrants and Muslims become the new main focus for organized reactionaries.
As a part of our commitment to finding and sharing great stories of anti-fascist resistance, we have turned to Vice magazines various new mini documentaries about fascist and anti-fascist conflict. This is happening in places all over Europe where immigration and austerity are sources of conflict. This clash is enough to feed the far right, especially in places of critical importance like Greece. Golden Dawn’s rise as a real political force was matched with Anti-Fascist Action and anarchist organizations in terms of force, and there has been a guerilla war on the streets.
While Donald Trump may be an easy person to laugh at from anywhere on the left, he actually represents a very traditional “act” towards right-wing populism. This may seem ridiculous as his fantastic wealth really means that he shares almost zero interests with the white working class, and especially the broader working class, but he still represents the kind of “shoot from the hip” bigotry from which he can paint complex political issues into simplicity. In a sense he is the perfect image of the capitalist candidate: rich, plays working people against each other, drives at the darkest part of the American psyche.
Donald Trump should be dismantled because of his disasterous and elitist economic ideas that will further destroy unions, organizing, and working incomes, but it is also his upfront racism that reveals the source of his ideas right away.
With this in mind, we have collected together some really choice quotes from Donald that will show exactly what his ideas are about race, gender, and human rights. We have left out the many, many sexist attacks he makes on different women, usually about their sex appeal and other patriarchal forms of degradation, only because there were just so many of them it was hard to choose. This is especially true with his comments about Rosie O’donnell, Bette Midler, and Ariana Huffington. We also had to avoid some of the more bizarre non-racist, non-sexist, non-homophobic ones, simply because they don’t fit, but don’t forget them! He is a global warming denier, the lead Obama birther, anti-union, against renewable energy, and believes that vaccines cause autism.
A lot of his most offensive behavior is actually not from quotes at all. For example, he runs the Miss USA Pageant, where he has repeatedly been accused of some of the most deeply misogynistic behavior it borders on sexual violence. Carrie Prejean wrote about this experience, noting that he would attack their bodies and validate them only as his sex objects. “Some of the girls were sobbing backstage after [Trump] left,” she wrote. “[I]t was as though we had been stripped bare.”
But we are here for some of the most offensive Donald Trump quotes!
Without further ado:
Laziness is a trait in blacks.(1991)
Black guys counting my money! I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day.
A well-educated black has a tremendous advantage over a well-educated white in terms of the job market. I think sometimes a black may think they don’t have an advatage of this and that… I’ve said on one occasion, even about myself, if I were starting off today, I would love to be a well-educated black, because I believe they do have an actual advantage.
When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending the best. They’re sending people that have lots of problems and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.
If Hilary Clinton can’t satisfy her husban then what makes her think she can satisfy America?
I will build a great, great wall on our southern border and I will make Mexico pay for that wall.
The Oscars were a great night for Mexico & why not — they are ripping off the US more than almost any other nation.
[Talking about arabs] They took the oil that when we left Iraq I said we should have taken. Now Isis has the oil. What they don’t have, Iran has.
[About the transgender Miss USA contestant, Jenna Talackova] I looked at her name, and somebody brought this up to me: “Jennatal.” Those are the first letters of her name. And it’s “genital.” And I’m saying to myself, “Hmm, that’s strange, could there be an ulterior motive?’”
I have never seen a thin person drinking Diet Coke. [Just to throw some fatphobia into the mix]
[After falsely claiming that unemployement was really 18-20%] There are no jobs because China has our jobs, Mexico has our jobs. They all have our jobs.
Sadly, because president Obama has done such a poor job as president, you won’t see another black president for generations.
I think the only difference between me and the other candidates is that I’m more honest and my women are more beautiful.
And if you look at black and African American youth, to a point where they’ve never done more poorly. There’s no spirit.
[On Marriage Equality] It’s like in golf. A lot of people — I don’t want this to sound trivial — but a lot of people are switching to these really long putters, very unattractive. It’s weird. You see these great players with these really long putters, because they can’t sink three-footers anymore. And, I hate it. I am a traditionalist. I have so many fabulous friends who happen to be gay, but I am a traditionalist.
[Discussing his daugher] She does have a very nice figure . . . if [she] weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her.”
I have a great relationship with the blacks. I’ve always had a great relationship with the blacks.
[Obama’s religion and citizenship] He may have one but there’s something on that, maybe religion, maybe it says he is a Muslim. I don’t know. Maybe he doesn’t want that. Or he may not have one. I will tell you this: if he wasn’t born in this country, it’s one of the great scams of all time.
Our great African American President hasn’t exactly had a positive impact on the thugs who are happily and openly destroying Baltimore!
[Addressing the attorney of a transgendered woman who was excluded by Trump from the Miss USA pageant.] I think Gloria would be very very impressed with [my penis].
[Speaking about himself in the third person] Women find his power almost as much of a turn-on as his money.
I’ve read hundreds of books about China over the decades. I know the Chinese. I’ve made a lot of money with the Chinese. I understand the Chinese mind.”
All the women on The Apprentice flirted with me–consciously or unconsciously. That’s to be expected.
Beauty and elegance, whether in a woman, a building, or a work of art is not just superficial or something pretty to see
You know, it really doesn`t matter what (the media) write as long as you`ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass.
I bet you make a great wife. But just a great wife. Not a businesswoman and a wife — that doesn’t exist, obviously.
[On Liberian immigration] Stop the EBOLA patients from entering the U.S. Treat them, at the highest level, over there. THE UNITED STATES HAS ENOUGH PROBLEMS!
[From the Apprentice]
Trump: “Excuse me, you DROPPED to your knees?”
Trump: “It must be a pretty picture, you dropping to your knees.”
Ok, so we also wanted to give you one bonus quote that is just generally awful.
[About John McCain, who was P.O.W. for five years] He’s not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was caputred. I like people who weren’t captured.
During the 2014 mid-term elections, Oregon became the third state to finally legalize marijuana for recreational use. Following behind Colorado and its neighbor Washington, Oregon’s bill will now treat marijuana into a similar way as alcohol with standard restrictions for age and driving. This is a major victory in a lot of sectors, no matter how you look at it. It will lower incarceration rates, especially in communities of color, while stripping one of the most common excuses to racially profile. In Oregon, it is going to significantly lower the rates of youth arrested for drug possession, which can stop them from getting federal loans for school(this in combination with Oregon’s public school funding makes college a much more realistic possibilities for low income students). What may temper this is that marijuana has actually been legal for “medical” use for years now, operating “members only” clubs all around the cities of the state.
Medical Marijuana had been one of the most targeted political issues of the past decade, and the one in which the Marijuana legalization camp had thrown the most energy towards. By focusing on arguments related to Marijuana’s various possible health claims, this has been a strategic choice on the road to full de-criminalization. The problem is that the rhetoric and organizing strategy chosen ends at Marijuana, and will go nowhere else. Medical Marijuana, while obviously helpful for many conditions, does not really match the conventional wisdom for “medicine.” This is fine, but what the Marijuana legalization advocates have argued time and time again is that it actually does fit within this framework. For years and years they have continually argued that Marijuana works like regular medicine, and it is not nearly as bad as “all of those other drugs.” This means that for people looking to decriminalize all substances, shift the conversation about the purpose of intoxication, and change the way that the culture relates to medicine, the campaigns have set them back immeasurably. The reality is that Marijuana should be available for people not because of supposed health benefits, but because intoxication is a regular and consistent part of life and all societies. The arguments being made never went after the foundational issues that create a cultural fear of drugs, and have instead kept the drug-law enforcement apparatus completely in tact. The Drug War, radicalized implementation of drug laws, and the criminalization of people who choose to alter consciousness, all are still there. In many ways, these values have even been reinforced by the Marijuana legalization campaigns. This may be fine for people whose endgame is just the decriminalization of Marijuana specifically, but for those of us who want to move beyond this one issue into a more nuanced and revolutionary perspective on drug issues, it left us cold. To top this up, the Marijuana lobby in Oregon has reverted to the same set of tactics when it came to their legislative strategy, including union busting low-wage canvassers in the Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp who helped to get the bill on the ballot. This is not a good precedent for those who claim that legalized Marijuana in the state are going to create a surge of “good jobs.”
This tactical issue is one that comes up in movement building constantly, where by an immediate goal can often be gained by making choices that could harm long-term progress. During a campaign I was working on many years ago, we were working towards the city putting a moratorium on foreclosure-based evictions. This would essentially mean having the mayor’s office order the police department to stand down for evictions, and refuse to enforce the Marshall’s office’s orders. In one group discussion we were working on some of the rhetoric we would use to make arguments for this. One of the primary ones is the effect that empty houses can have on a block, or a whole community. They often become areas for criminal activity and drug sales. They bring down property values. They are an obscene eyesore. As we were jotting these down someone quietly held and objection. Suggesting the issues about crime and drug use both have a racialized component and a drug-fear trigger. The point being is that by referring to these issues, we continue to stigmatize drug users as well as the houseless folks that often use these vacant homes. When people complain about the “criminal element” in the neighborhood brought on by vacant houses, this is often what they mean. When it comes to property values, we again reinforce the values of middle-class property owners as a substantial reason.
The issue that was actually at hand was that there are too many vacant homes that get destroyed, become unusable, and there are growing numbers of houseless people that can make good use of them. It is absolutely true that there can be gang and drug issues around vacant houses, and the communities that are concerned about these issues are not just doing so out of racial tension, but we need to be aware of avoiding “dog whistle” language when we are working on these campaigns. This specific reform is not our end goal, instead we want a world where housing is seen as a basic right and even the most basic human needs are guaranteed by the collective society. This means both a structural and a value change, and therefore we need to keep those ideas present as we build towards large reforms.
This can create a difficult set of issues where by people over critique and deconstruct all rhetoric, which creates a culture of inaction. Instead, an option is to simply be open and honest about what the endgame really is about these movements and what the values are that drive them. In the case of housing, this really is fundamentally an issue about capitalism. While we do not want to alienate the more liberal elements of the movement, it is fine to bring that perspective as a valid point in the myriad of views that make up the pro-housing movement. Likewise, it is important to continue to point out the ways in which the foreclosure crisis did not break evenly across all groups. People of color faired much worse across all other demographics, while; in general, this was not a crisis that was shared equally across all socio-economic strata. What this means is that we are going to bring a structural analysis to issues of crime and drug use, and make sure that these ideas are implicit during decision making. Instead of going after the “seedy element” that empty houses attract, we should really look at just the reality that happens to communities when only half of the homes are actually occupied by people. At the same time, we should keep central the reasons for getting involved. We did not enter into the housing justice movements because of how bad empty houses affect property values or that they create locations for drug sale. We got involved because we find this fundamental contradiction, that there are empty homes while there are people without homes, intolerable. These different arguments make up the total tapestry of the argument for a more equitable housing, but the unequal access to housing has to be at the center.
What we decided to do is just temper the language a bit so that we did not target houseless people or drug users as individuals. Instead of just focusing on the financial aspects of “property value,” we looked instead at how the empty homes actually do drive other houses on the block into foreclosure. This is conjuring the image of the housing as a place to live rather than a piece of equity. We also noted that since working people often only hold any wealth in their home and their pension, it is an incredible attack on working people’s lives when banks force houses on their block into foreclosure and then lower the value of the only piece of wealth they have (their home). In terms of the drug use in the community, we simply note that while this may become an issue among empty houses, it is less that drugs and houseless people are the issues but instead that these empty houses are never used for community building purposes. We added that empty houses often get so destroyed that they can never be rehabilitated and used for the community.
It should be noted that none of the above arguments above are inherently problematic, but instead should just be considered when thinking about the long-term vision. A lot of this can then be mitigated, to a degree, when we have a generally idea of what total victory would look like far past this individual campaign or series of campaigns. This does not mean that we should immediately jump just to radical and systemic rhetoric entirely, that would be a large mistake, but it is good to lay a foundation for the radical critique early on. This is true in terms of the foreclosure crisis more broadly, where by many people have focused their organizing messaging around foreclosure fraud and criminality. As has been mentioned before, this has been a powerful tool to mobilize Middle America against the banks, but it fails at being able to see the fundamental issue around foreclosure is class and social inequality. While we should use the issue of bank manipulation as an icebreaker and flash point, we need to make sure to draw some of the critiques back to their fundamental core.
Many of these choices are somewhat commonsensical in that we should avoid reactionary rhetoric that demonizes the opposition with bigoted characterizations, but we need to also continue to think of the structural inequalities that, down the line, create the inconsistency we are fighting for in the short term. Forcing the city to stand down on evictions was common sense to most people on the terms that were presented to them, but we need to use that bit of public leverage to drive deeper. It is only when we can link the immediate with the revolutionary that we can effectively use reforms as a stepping stone rather than the end of the path.
As we are coming up to the year anniversary of the Black Lives Matter movement, we are revisiting a few stories of solidarity actions from the earlier days of the movement. This is a reposting of a look at the Mike Brown Solidarity Action that happened in Portland, Oregon, which discusses the case, the organized response, and what took place there.
Along with cities from around the country, Portland erupted on November 25th in one of the largest demonstrations and actions it has seen in years. The Portland Solidarity Network came on as an official sponsor of the event that was planned in solidarity with the Mike Brown actions happening both in Ferguson and in cities across the country.
After the fatal shooting of Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri this last August, Officer Darren Wilson was cleared by a grand jury on November 24th. The jury was directed to determine whether or not there was probable cause to level formal charges against Wilson, which could range from first-degree murder down to involuntary manslaughter. The jury determined that no charges were to be filed, in a decision that many were saying was coerced by a mishandling by the District Attorney’s office.
In Portland, the Albina Ministerial Alliance and the Urban League put the solidarity action together. In front of the Justice Center, they called together over two thousand people to a rally that targeted the racist police violence that has become commonplace both in our city, and the U.S. broadly. The people present overwhelmed the area, taking Third Street over as well as the park on the other side. Speakers ranged from local organizations and churches, each putting out a call to create a movement that has the force to confront the kind of mammoth power of institutional racism and white supremacy. After an emotional round of Eyes on the Prize was sung, a speaker from the AMA came up and boiled the issues down to their essence.
“The blood of Michael Brown cries out for justice today. Across this nation, and across the world. Once again, the African American community, communities of color, mental health communities, the poor, the marginalized, citizens who love justice and democracy, those who have been crushed by the decision of the grand jury not to indict Officer Darren Wilson for the killing of Michael Brown. Once again we rise at the criminal justice system of America, and law enforcement is tainted with racial bias when it comes to rendering justice and fairness for black people. For communities of color. For the disenfranchised and the marginalized. We know from our own experience here in the city of Portland, that the brokenness of the criminal justice system and law enforcement. We know from Kendra James. We know from James Chasse. We know from Aaron Campbell. We know from Keaton Otis, that there is no justice and fairness when it comes to white police officers killing black and brown and poor people and mentally ill people.”
“What must we do about it? We must not go back to our old routines, and just talk about it. No, no, a thousand times! We must fight to change this broken, unjust and unfair system. We must use these times of injustice to build a movement!”
Speakers came forward from the NAACP, the All-African All-People’s Revolutionary Party, various churches, Jefferson High School, and many others to draw together the issues of police violence and racism to the various struggles in the city. A student from Portland State University’s Black Student Union spoke powerfully and bluntly.
“Do not go quietly into that dark night! This happens a thousand times in America. But we have an opportunity to rise up and use our collective voices to tell America, ‘Enough is Enough!’ … American, how much more do you want us to bear? We bore the injustices of slavery. We bore the injustices of the lies of emancipation. We bore injustices of segregation. We bore indignities of Jim Crow. We bore the annihilation of our communities. We bore the brunt of mass incarceration. We bore the debt of your housing market. We bore the magnitude of under and unemployment. We bore the assassination of our leaders, and now our children. How much more America? What is the cost of justice and freedom? What is the mortgage on the lives of black and brown folks? How many more payments before you reduce the principle balance on our freedom? “
“When will black lives matter?”
Speakers from the Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines and the All-African People’s Revolutionary Party drew the killing right back to capitalism, imperialism, and the need for revolutionary change and international solidarity. A call here was really to get involved in ongoing organizing efforts, from challenging police violence to related movements such as housing struggles and labor.
A march was then led, through downtown with a population that over swelled even the roads. The memetic chant “Hands up! Don’t shoot!” was common, with people focusing directly on the targeting of young people of color that has marked the city in recent years. There was a sense of group solidarity as major unions, non-profits like Basic Rights Oregon and the NAACP, and more radical organizations like the Black Rose Rosa Negra Anarchist Federation and the International Socialist Organization stood together with a complementary vision. As the march wound back to the Justice Center, the AMA led a final talk about Michael Brown’s family and led a chorus of old spiritual activist songs and a candlelight vigil.
At this point a large contingent began to form that did not want to end the action at that point, many calling for direct action at the Justice Center openly. From a third to half of the crowd broke away at this point and led an unpermitted march that again took the streets over and head towards the Morrison Bridge. Here protesters began to push against the forming police force in an effort to take the bridge, with police beginning to shove through the crowd and drive motorcycles into the crowd.
The march moved back down the street and took over the Burnside Bridge, making it across the river and blocking the intersection on the other side. Moving through the Water District, the next spot was to openly block Interstate 5 from a park, the same way that organizers have done so in Oakland and Los Angeles. It was at this point that the police force took another turn and began attacking protesters with the riot-prepared troops and cavalry. As hundred of protesters attempted to stage a sit-in on the freeway and/or occupy the park, the police began swinging batons and letting pepper spray loose. Participants of color had to be treated by street medics for pepper spray directly into their eyes, which is an irony that must have been lost on the Portland Police Department. A former member of the Portland Solidarity Network, and close ally, was seriously injured by police batons, and had to be cared for by a street medic before being rushed to the emergency room.
A move was made to take the next bridge and head back into downtown, though police were beginning to pick off large portions of protesters by blocking them onto portions of the bridge and going for mass arrests. Luckily, many people were saved from being taken into custody as unarrests in the chaos of the freeway action were roundly successful. From here protesters made it in the direction of PGE Park, where a now fully militarized police force began using crowd control measures. Though there were seven arrests reported, the numbers could have been much higher without a conscious move by the people on the ground to keep the crowd together and to watch out for the treatment of fellow protesters. Things ramped up even more aggressively as the police riot van had its windows smashed in and there were reports of protestor injuries increasing rapidly. The rest of the crowd eventually made it to Waterfront Park, where final speeches were made and a commitment given to keep this fight going into the long-term.
An action like this shows both the passion and desire that is necessary for mass movements, and the ability to think in a more radical context to directly confront the kind of racial animosity that has tarnished our local and national institutions. Though we are incredibly happy to see the actions play out as they have, we also want to see this turn into long-term organizing that will be able to continue to target this systemic inequality. The kind of racism that was implicit and led to both the shooting of Mike Brown by Darren Wilson, and the several police murders in the Portland area, is just as prevalent in people’s workplaces and housing situations. Redlining, Section 8 and rental discrimination, unequal foreclosure rates, and inaccess to public housing all mark institutionalized housing oppression against people of color in our communities. We are committing to work with tenants across the city to use community solidarity to force concessions and change in people’s neighborhoods and housing complexes. These racial issues are not just at play in loud points of cruel violence, but also the subtle evictions that we see in apartment complexes across all cities and the kind of gentrification that turns previously communities of color into trendy shopping centers for upper-class whites. Let’s take the anger and determination that we saw on November 25th and continue to challenge these institutions, and hopefully we can use this as an opportunity to spotlight the racism that is central to the unequal access to housing in this city and country.