Monday, November 30, 2009

Jerryell Myesha Foster of Baltimore is missing: will you get this news from any national media?

Jerryell Myesha Foster of Baltimore was last seen Tuesday November 24 2009 at approximately 8:20p.m.

Thank you to La Reyna's blogpost for alerting me to this latest missing person. As has been noted many places, if you're not white, don't expect to get national media attention if you disappear. It's not just racism, folks, it's misogyny too, and classism too when dealing with poor and working class missing women.

It is horrifying that girls and women of color go missing every day in the U.S., and are not reported on by major news media. That means they any girl or woman who disappears is less likely to be found, is less likely to survive, and is less likely to know, while missing, that people are out there caring about what happened to her!

See also:, for more information about other missing Black women; it is at that site that I found the photo above. Lorde knows you won't hear about these women in the dominant WHMS media. I pray for Jerryell's safety and the safety and well-being of all the women who are missing.

Deepa D.'s blogpost titled "I Didn't Dream of Dragons"

From: Kabhi Kabhi Mere Dil Mein, Yeh Khayal Aata Hai...,  Deepa D.'s blog 

Link to: I Didn’t Dream of Dragons, by Deepa D.
An excerpt:

The Western publishing industry has the luxury of being able to support the base camps of crappy first novels and cliché-ridden genre fiction hacks and niche-marketed speciality books that creates the momentum for the breakout book, the genius author. If you grow up in a country where every child has held a crayon in nursery school, you are at an advantage.

And just to make it absolutely clear—the Western publishing advantage was derived from the economic wealth those nations enjoyed by virtue of stripping the resources and talents of other peoples. I do not consider it an accident of fate that it is in America that the art of children’s picture books evolved (which I consider one of America’s most exquisite cultural gifts to the world). These books, printed in China on paper from Brazil—they cost (when they are imported at all) more than a full length Penguin Classic in an Indian bookstore. The books available in one fourth grade classroom at a low-income Minneapolis charter school where I have worked outnumber the entirety of books my private primary school in Delhi made available to me (And I reiterate, I am nothing but privileged in India). Remember on whose backs the resources for your public libraries were built.
*     *     *
Part of my own education as a prowomanist/profeminist is in listening to the voices of women around the world, and the voices of women of color who are familiar with cultures, places, nations, and experiences that I do not know anything about. To the contrary, what I know about them may have been sugar-spoon fed to me by Disney, which does many things well--telling the truth is not one of them. 

I welcome you to click over and read this essay on one woman's reflections on the harm of cultural-political colonialism by the West. And also to read the comments. I have only today found her blog, and greatly appreciate the comment posting policy she has, the first statements of which read as follows:
Hello, and welcome to my public blog. I post very sporadically, and use this blog as an idiosyncratic soapbox, so don't be surprised by extremely long silences, even on issues on which you might expect me to voice an opinion.

I expect people to behave with civility towards each other and me while conversing in comments, but I am ok with rigourous debate, as long as I feel that participants are commenting in good faith.

My journal must be a safe space for persons of colour/non-white/chromatic people, and no racist, misogynist, homophobic, ageist, casteist, communalist, ablist, or otherwise discriminatory language or opinions will be tolerated. Repeated voicing of problematic arguments after your ignorance or bias has been pointed out will be ground for banning.
I may write to her to thank her for all that she is doing with her blog, however sporadically she is doing it!

Sympathy for The Devil: The Political Function of Caring More about White Men than Everyone Else

[image of album cover is from here. NOTE: Slaine is not a feminist or profeminist band. They are an entirely white male Swiss hardcore band who pride themselves on not being political. (That they don't see how being european white non-Jewish, heterosexual men is political is not surprising.)
To see what the musicians look like, go here.
And let's see if the US and UK MRAs go after them for slander!]

Given some recent exchanges here on the blog with two women about bdsm and my sexism, I'd like to clarify something.

I am VERY critical of male procurers and prostituters of women, and of pimps and pornographers, and of rapists and batterers and various white male predators and perpetrators of sexism and racism, men who think tying up women in order to have sex is "fun" and "good", men who believe that women's agency exists in a context where there is no white male supremacist force ubiquitously woven into society, and of men who don't do a damn thing about rapism and racist patriarchal atrocities.

That should not be interpreted to mean I generally feel critical of women in pornography and other systems of prositution, women who are raped, beaten, stalked, harassed, or who enjoy "bondage" or other bdsm activities.

I am critical of the cosmetics industry, but not of women who wear make-up. I am critical of capitalism, but not of shoppers. I think McDonalds Corporation is evil--racist and classist--and is part of an atrocity against poor urban people; it mass produces and sells cheap "food" creating cardio-vascular disease without remorse--but I'm not critical of people who eat at McDonalds. I'm critical of Big Tobacco, but not of individual smokers, unless they blow cigarette smoke in my face.

I may not always be clear about those distinctions, and was especially unclear about them in my exchange with a woman who is into bdsm. I felt and was critical of her points of view that stated that if consent is present, whatever happens between two adults cannot be abuse. I disagree. And the ways I was critical were, in attitude and action, sexist (oppressive to that woman), as well as triggering for another woman here due to me being yet another white man who was telling a white woman "what the truth is". I address and attempt to make amends for all that at this post.

I unequivocally hold the view that men who want to degrade women, in order to have sex or for any other reason, ought to be called out as being sexist/racist pricks. That doesn't mean I think women who want men to constrain or degrade them ought to be called out. I hope the ethical and political distinction is clear.

All that being said...

So there's this guy I don't even know. His name is Simon. (I have since found out he's white, is not poor, is not Jewish or Muslim, was raised Catholic but is now an atheist, and is not gay. This is to say, he has a ton of privilege.) He's on my chat list, so we must have connected about something once upon a time. I just checked. He wrote a comment to this blog asking for my email address. I wrote to him asking what's on your mind? and he replied that he's working with a CNN political analyst, Leslie Sanchez, on a book: He said in the email that [the title of the book is] "You've Come A Long Way, Maybe," and has some fairly in-depth statistical analysis of how Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Sarah Palin were portrayed in the media and how the national narrative was created about them during the 2008 election. He asked if I wanted a copy of the book. I said thanks, but I'll get it from the library. (Honestly, I probably won't. Matters relating primarily to dominant U.S. electoral politics bore me, and I don't expect much from the U.S. Republicrats, including President Barack Obama, or Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. They're all pro-capitalist, pro-military, pro-white male supremacy, pro-genocide activists who won't even try and do anything to end rape or racism.)

So that's how Simon and I met. And this is what has transpired between us just very recently:

In trying to place him I found his blog and this post:, which I find utterly disturbing. What I also found disturbing is how this male supremacist/stalker/rapism behavior is just mentioned so casually, as if "hey, here's something else that's f*cked up that's going on" without any sense of need to do anything about it. Like it's all just one big TV show, and we're all only viewers, passive and uncritical. I don't expect anything different from him, and know I have no relationship to him to use as leverage in getting him to look at this stuff more closely, more critically. So I didn't even feel angry with him while chatting. Just sort of sad and discouraged... he's yet another white het man who "doesn't get it". Add his name to the long, long list.

I'll post the content and comments below, because it is also a warning, a reminder, that men, anywhere in any public space, can and do physically violate and stalk women, in this case after leaving a movie theatre. (I personally, due to women friends and I not going to movies at theatres any more, forgot about this form of misogynistic, extremely predatory behavior.) 

***IT WILL LIKELY TRIGGER ANYONE*** who has been followed or stalked or had their personal space and property invaded by some strange man and may be very upsetting to anyone with a woman-centered soul. If you wish, you can skip reading the blogpost from Bloggasm, and just read my paragraph just below, and then what follows the blogpost copied and pasted below that.

Below the post is a chat I engaged him in (based on me reading that blogpost), on this and related subjects. It reveals a lot about how normal U.S. heterosexual white men feel about their own responsibilities to end rape, to even do anything at all about it. And it reveals a troubling, delusional and extremely self-serving code of ethics. It demonstrates a value system that, in my view, is dangerous in its ethical vapidity and "Good German" attitude and behavior. If you read on, you'll see what I mean. And feel free to skip the upsetting blogpost, and just go to the chat exchange.

Here's Simon's blogpost content. ("Bloggasm" is the name of his blog. No comment.):

Craigslist post of the day

New Moon midnight showing – m4w – 27 (Fargo, ND)
i sat behind you at he midnight showing of New Moon last night. Me: medium height, dark hair, long nails, mysterious. You: straight long blond hair, full ruby lips, you were wearing black cargo pants and a twilight hoodie. as your hair draped down behind your seat i just has to hold it and smell it deeply(pantene. great choice). i dont remember much ov the movie but i will always remember the smell and texture of your hair. the way you sound when you whisper and laugh. after the movie i followed you and your friend to perkin’s. i waited outside in my car so i could watch you eat and smile. i followed you home and made sure you got there safely.i noticed you left you car unlocked so i went to have a look into your life. i can tell by looking in your car that we have a lot in common. if you want your dash ornaments back you will have to meet me and we can have a great time getting to know each other. “grin”
Follow me on Twitter


  1. sara Says:
    Just like Edward. ;)
  2. Matt Osborne Says:
    “I’d like mine extra creepy…”
  3. Julian Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    Why don’t men call this shit out for what it is? Rapism.
    It’s only because men allow each other to do this shit, to stalk, to talk pornographically about women, to believe in and support one another’s right to have 24/7 access to raped women’s bodies online, to disrespect women in humor and in relationships… need I go on? It’s due to all that and more that men will never really be anything other than boys who don’t have the courage or the will to challenge other men’s fucked up behavior towards women.
As soon as I posted the comment I saw that he was online and thought I'd ask him directly what the deal is with men, from his perspective. This is what followed in chat:

me:  hey simon.
 Simon:  hey
 me:  i just posted to a blog post on the latest shit off craigslist.
i am wondering: why don't men call one another out on this stuff. Why does it all just sort of go by unchallenged?
I recently posted about this on my blog, and it's really perplexing, but I wanted to actually ask a man I respect.
 Simon:  i don't see the post

 me: hold on... i'll go grab the url...
 Sent at 8:57 PM on Sunday
 Simon:  i don't see anything about craigslist
 me:  No, my post precedes yours chronologically.
I'm asking what you think is up with men not calling one another out on this stuff?
 Sent at 8:59 PM on Sunday
 Simon:  on sexual fantasies that are degrading to women/
 Sent at 9:01 PM on Sunday
 me:  On sexual behavior that is violating and abusive to women... like what that guy wrote about smelling that woman's hair, following her, taking shit out of her car... and the guys I write about in my post.. who think abusing women sexually is fine as long as it's "consensual"... what's up with this? What's your own take on why men don't call each other out on this?
(I'm not talking fantasy at all: I'm talking REALITY)
 Simon:  i mean, i think all men and women universally think what that guy did was creepy
 me:  Yeah, let's hope so, but there's so rarely any commentary about it.
 Simon:  as for consensual role playing, I don't have much of an opinion
 me:  It all just gets tossed about as if it's sort of "creepy but normal" and men have nothing to say about it, critically, i mean.
 Simon:  i've read feminist arguments that women should deny their own rape fantasies because on principle it's wrong
 me:  Do you think, personally, that if a woman wants to be mistreated during sex, that it is ok for a man to mistreat her? Or that if he wants to bind her and hit her in the face, that if she doesn't leave or object that that's ok to do?
(I'm trying to tap men's minds on this... and you're the man I found online!!)
 Simon:  i suppose
have you ever seen the documentary Sick: The Life & Death of Bob Flannigan?
 me:  No. thanks for the link... checking it out....
(Have you ever seen Dreamworlds II, b[y] Sut Jhally?)
 Simon:  excellent documentary, explores some of these issues from a particularly unique perspective
 me:  Oh, so some self-exploitation flick on some guy into being "dominated" sexually by women?
So it is really critical of men's fucked up behavior towards women?
 Simon:  yeah, but at the time he was one of the oldest living people with Cystic fibrosis
 me:  (The cover image doesn't make it sound too serious a film.)
And into being abused sexually?
 Simon:  and the S&M is the only control he has over the pain he has, it becomse a form of therapy in terms of dealign with his disease
 me:  lemme send ya the link on Dreamworlds II, ok?
I think it may actually be viewable in parts online.
I'd be interested to know your take on that film, and what it has to say.
 Simon:  documentary? i might recommend it to my doc club
 me:  Yeah, a doc.
Please do!
And if there's discussion about it--is your doc club online??--I'd be really interested to know what men, especially, have to say about it, as it is a film made to be viewed by heterosexual men, primarily.
 Simon:  it's just a bunch of DC people and we take turns hosting
 me:  Well done. I have some problems with it--like Sut not giving any time to women to critique the material, but...
Did you just see the one you recommended?
in that doc club?
And have you seen Tarnation?
(One of my fav docs.)
And Darwin's Nightmare?
And Life and Debt?
 Simon:  we saw it a few months ago
 me:  Oh, and Killing Us Softly--the most recent version?
so what's the last doc you've seen with them?
 Simon:  Mr. Death, an Errol morris documentary
 me:  This one would be a great intro to Dreamworlds, as they are both short and could be seen in one night:
I'll go look it up...
 Sent at 9:15 PM on Sunday
 me:  So it's about a neo-Nazi?
(A Nazi Holocaust denier?)
 Simon:  that's the debate, whether he is anti Semitic or whether he happlessly got swept up into their society through no fault of his own
 me:  I see: Documentary about Fred Leuchter, an engineer who became an expert on execution devices and was later hired by revisionist historian Ernst Zundel to "prove" that there were no gas chambers at Auschwitz.
So how does a "Killing Us Softly 3 and Dreamworlds II" double feature sound?
Just a suggestion, given what we were discussing earlier.
 Simon:  i can suggest it, the host picks though
 me:  i understand.
Is it pretty evenly split in terms of gender?
And how about sexual orientation?
 Simon:  high ratio of female jews, come to think of it, ha
 me:  (What are the demographics of the group, also with regard to race?)
 Simon:  probably because the main organizer is jewish
 me:  What was their take on the Mr. Death film?
(I'm not assuming one view...)
 Simon:  i think we all had a level of sympathy for the person
 me:  for the denier?
 Simon:  yes
 me:  And does the discussion, do the discussions, ever reach beyond the individual being discussed, to the larger issues... like about anti-Semitism and racism and misogyny?
 Simon:  yeah, especially with a room full of jews
 me:  Are you also Jewish? (I am.)
 Simon:  nope
 Simon:  reared catholic, atheist now
 me:  Anyway, I just wanted to check in about some of this stuff, and hope that the group is up for doing that double feature... the first film, Killing Us Softly 3 is like about a half hour long! And the other is about one hour.
So it would allow time for discussion for sure.
If it happens, lemme know, ok?
And I understand it's not your call, at least this round.
 Simon:  ok
 me:  have a good night.
 Simon:  ditto
*     *     *

So here's the thing. Due to liberalism and individualism as well as white heteromale supremacy and corporate capitalism in countries white men dominate and control, these men do not feel in any way responsible for what white men do, as white men, in "our" name. Instead, white men generally feel apathetic, callous, disinterested, and could care LESS about what white men do as a political group, as a political force interpersonally, locally, socially, nationally, institutionally, and internationally. This callousness and lack of regard for how white men oppress and destroy other people makes white het men The Devil, in my view. It's not my view alone. Many Black Nationalists have held this view. Some white women have held this view. Some radical women of color have held this view. Marimba Ani tells you everything you need to know about how such views came into existence in her brilliant book, Yurugu, and I believe that book is a must read for all white men, if white het men want to know what they do, collectively. 

What especially makes white men The Devil is the blatant and unapologetic unwillingness to own what we do, to name what we do, to be responsible about what we do, and to stop what we do. Simon's comments demonstrate this "devil-may-care" attitude perfectly. He really can't be bothered to consider matters of anti-Semitism, white het male supremacy, or misogyny. This issues are simply off his political and emotional radar screen. While his ethnic heritage may go back to the Republic of Ireland or the UK, this lack of compassion for those he structurally oppresses, for those white het men structurally oppress, makes him yet another "Good German/Good Man". Maybe after viewing Killing Us Softly 3 and Dreamworlds 2 he'll begin to think more about what his role is in the atrocities that are done in his name. I hope that's the case. If you're reading this here, Simon, please let me know the effect those two films have on you and other white heterosexual men who see them with you.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Remembering George Harrison (25 February 1943 – 29 November 2001)

Thanks, Cara. Your post reminded me to post Something too.

I miss you, George.

What I Hate and Love about Men

[image is from here]

It is always a strange thing to me that privileged white heterosexual men seem to think that one can only have one set of feelings about them--that one either loves them or one hates them. Is this what individual WHM feel about themselves, I wonder? Is this what they feel about people who are not them?

Life has never been so simple, in my experience. (Maybe that is because I'm gay, or maybe because this gay man, like all others, is fully human.) Nor, especially, has the matter of loving men and receiving love from men been simple. Relating to men for me is virtually never a matter of "hate or love". It's a matter of what is honest and what is not, what is exploitive and what is not, what is respectful and what is not, what is caring and what is not, what is harmful and what is not, what is oppressive and what is not. I don't know why white heterosexual men cannot get that.

To read the post which goes into this issue in far more detail, click on the following quote: I love men's humanity, and I hate men's inhumanity. -- Julian Real

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Rapism in Action: An example of how men who desire to "consensually" and selfishly exploit and abuse women sexually, without legal or social consequence

[image is from here]

TRIGGER WARNING on all that follows, for graphically, if not with many details, describing sexual exploitation and violence against women presented by men to one another as "consensual sex", and how men allow this, among friends, to continue uninterrupted and unchallenged.

If you pay attention, it gets pretty clear pretty quickly how rapism works in a male supremacist society.

I define "rapism" as a political ideology, systematised and institutionalised to the point of being seen as natural and inevitable. It is naturalised to the point that rape and other forms of gross sexual exploitation and abuse are taken and fully accepted by men as "a given" in male dominated societies. Rapism also includes how men support one another, in various ways, to be sexual exploiters and sexual abusers of girls and women. Rapism also includes an uncritical use of and promotion of the use of industry pornography made by white heteromale supremacist pimps. Rapism makes female subordination sexy, and in societies that are soaked in rapist values, men learn that abusing women is sex. Men may or may not engage in abusive sex with women, but they understand abusive sex to be normal, not extreme, not unusual, and certainly not a political matter or an ethical one. The Urban Dictionary defines "rapism"  far more narrowly and apolitically.

Here's the latest story.

Last night, for hours and hours, I spoke with two people. One person is a woman whose heritage is American Indian, Sephardic Jewish, and white French Christian. The other is her husband, whose heritage includes U.S. white Christian, and Sephardic Jewish. He is one of the only two males I engage with person to person. I only know him because my friend met, went out with, and married him. I like him. He's a funny, smart, silly person. The three of us generally get along very well.

Part of last night's conversation was about two male friends of his, who are not from the area in which he and his partner now live. They are U.S. men, though.

I'll call the husband "Matt".

Matt told us about two of his few male friends, in the context of how one's sexuality, how it is expressed, can inversely indicate how empowered and in control of his life he feels generally.

I've heard this theory before, and the most common form of it, not told by Matt, btw, is as follows:

Some white powerful men, because they spend so much of their work lives "in charge" and in positions of authority, like to visit women in systems of prostitution, and pay them to "humiliate" or "degrade" or otherwise dominate them sexually, as such men define and experience "sex". (For more on that, read Sheila Jeffreys' The Idea of Prostitution, for a superb analysis and discussion of how prostitution, as a male supremacist form of sexual dominance by men against women, shapes what "sex" is for many people outside that system of racist/misogynistic/classist oppression.)

Matt told us about one middle class man who is very in charge of his life, to an alarming degree. He demands, from friends, that things go "his way" and has a fit if they don't abide by his decisions about how they should spend time with him. He decides where they'll go out to eat, for example, and at what time and in whose vehicle. And if his plans change, and, say, he decides at the last minute he'd like to leave a half hour later than he once planned, he expects his friends to just go along with that and not put up any fuss or objections. To me, he sounds like an extraordinarily self-centered prick. Let's call the prick, "Jon".

Jon has heterosexual tastes that involve him being abused by women who are older than he is. He likes it when women take the domineering "role". He likes being ordered about, given instructions as to what he can and cannot do. He likes being hit in the face when he achieves orgasm, for example.

The second friend of Matt is, according to Matt, "just the opposite". Let's call this friend "Al". Al's life has not gone well. He's privileged in many ways, but can't seem to get his life on track with work, relationships, etc. He's a regular pornography consumer and is into pornography of women in bondage. He has a mild level of physical disability. In his twenties he suffered a stroke and one of his arms is almost entirely paralysed. The hand at the end of that arm is curled and he cannot use it in the way he can his other hand and arm. He is now in his early 30s.

His sexual life consists of finding "girlfriends" or "dates" who are female, and teenagers. Or maybe as old as in their early twenties. He will only have sex with these women if he can completely restrain them, using typical sexual bondage gear. He seeks out such women. Some women, he says, want this, and those are the only women he wants to be with sexually. So when they meet he restrains them so their range of motion is severely limited, and so their agency to leave the scene is taken away completely. They do this consensually, according to Al. As part of his sex play (ahem), he smacks the young women in the face and calls them derogatory names. In fact, he cannot achieve orgasm unless he is doing this: unless he is being sexual with a young woman who is completely restrained, in bondage to him.

Matt didn't tell me either of these stories with any great alarm. He was simply making the point that men often want (in the bedroom) what they don't get outside of the bedroom.

I called him out on this. I noted that, first of all, Jon is always in control, including when he sets up sexual situations where he is being "dominated"--precisely in the ways that he wants. Nothing ever happens that he doesn't orchestrate or want to have happen. He's never "powerless" or without agency, including when he's being "sexually dominated".

I also asked if any of the men in the other guy's life (Al's) have called him out on being a batterer and rapist. I might not have used those terms last night. I might have said "on him physically abusing and sexually abusing women". He said no. That includes him, Matt. Matt knows this is what he does, is a friend of Al's, and has never questioned Al's right to "consensually" abuse women physically and sexually.

And Matt has very mixed feelings about what he calls "radical feminism". His mother, apparently, went through a period of being heavily into "radical feminism in the extreme". Matt also feels that is mother, who Matt's partner and I both know, is and has always been very domineering of his father.

I said in my experience your mother is one of the least empowered women I know. Matt's spouse agreed, and she has spoken to his mom at great length about many things--more than he has, in fact. She knows his mother far better than he does. He has "an idea" about his mother as domineering that is, in fact, not true. His dad does exactly what he wants to do all the time. He works out of the home in a job he has chosen. He does other activities outside the home that do not involve his spouse AT ALL. They also don't tend to discuss much unless through yelling. Matt sees this dynamic as his mother being domineering.

I asked him "So what does "radical feminism in the extreme" mean? What books did your mother read, or which "radical feminists" was she into. He only had one name. There was only one woman whose books his mom read from a lot. Matt asked me, "Have you ever heard of a feminist named 'Camille Paglia'"? I said yes, and most women I know don't even consider her a feminist, but rather an antifeminist, and certainly not at all "radical". He asked "What are her politics?" I said "Libertarian": she's a classic U.S. libertarian in believing "anything goes" as long as individuals want it to happen and that the State should not get in the way of whatever people want to do.

I asked Matt how he felt about Al sexually and physically abusing women. He said he feels it is really messed up, and that Al's whole life is really messed up. I said "You realise he gets to do this to women because no men in his life who care about him are challenging him to not do it, right?" He sort of realised this, once I said it. But it didn't occur to him that he ought to have a role in challenging Al's abusive, if "consensual" sexual behavior.

I said I've known women who want to be abused during sex, or who find pornography in which women are being humiliated and degraded "arousing", and that virtually without exception, ALL those women were either raised in severely emotionally distrurbing and dysfunctional families, were sexually abused as girls, or who learned about sex by finding and consuming their father's pornography.

My friend, btw, is not into being abused-as-sex, and Matt isn't into abusing women-as-sex.

So, in conclusion, men protect, defend, or stay silent in the face of men who abuse women. This is how the abuse continues. It also continues because pornography and sexual violence against girls sets girls up to think being degraded and abused is "sex". Men who want to dominate women sexually find girls and women who "want to be dominated". Men who want to be dominated sexually by women find women who are into that scene.

I asked Matt has it ever occurred to either of those men, assuming they care about women at all, to inquire, before sex, about WHY those women want or need to be in or out of control during sex? He said it doesn't occur to them to ask.

I said, "How self-serving and ethically convenient for them" to not care at all about those women, but instead to just use them and abuse them as they wish. Matt told me "You'd have to get into a long email exchange with Al before he'd even begin to see what's messed up about how he thinks about and treat women." I wondered why it hasn't occurred to Matt to be "That Man" who engaged him in just such discussion, and puts their friendship on the line if Al refuses. I plan to ask him that the next time I see or speak with him. And I plan to say, "If you don't call him out on his abusive behavior towards women being harmful to women and girls, then our friendship is on the line." And I'm going to ask for the rapist dude's contact info so I can report him to the police for sexual battery and rape.

These are "normal young white heterosexual men". All of them.

So you see, boys, it's usually and normally men who equate sex and rape while controlling women's bodies and behavior. And if radical feminists and profeminists notice this and critique it as WRONG, we are called man-haters so that you don't have to deal directly with one another's misogyny. How convenient for you.

Friday, November 27, 2009

"The First Thanksgiving": Cracking Open the Brittle White Lies

[this photograph of Judy Dow with her artwork is from here]

Deconstructing the Myths of “The First Thanksgiving”
by Judy Dow (Abenaki) and Beverly Slapin
Revised 06/12/06

[I added more myths, and the link was updated on 12/26/2015.]

What is it about the story of “The First Thanksgiving” that makes it essential to be taught in virtually every grade from preschool through high school? What is it about the story that is so seductive? Why has it become an annual elementary school tradition to hold Thanksgiving pageants, with young children dressing up in paper-bag costumes and feather-duster headdresses and marching around the schoolyard? Why is it seen as necessary for fake “pilgrims” and fake “Indians” (portrayed by real children, many of whom are Indian) to sit down every year to a fake feast, acting out fake scenarios and reciting fake dialogue about friendship? And why do teachers all over the country continue (for the most part, unknowingly) to perpetuate this myth year after year after year?

Is it because as Americans we have a deep need to believe that the soil we live on and the country on which it is based was founded on integrity and cooperation? This belief would help contradict any feelings of guilt that could haunt us when we look at our role in more recent history in dealing with other indigenous peoples in other countries. If we dare to give up the “myth” we may have to take responsibility for our actions both concerning indigenous peoples of this land as well as those brought to this land in violation of everything that makes us human. The realization of these truths untold might crumble the foundation of what many believe is a true democracy. As good people, can we be strong enough to learn the truths of our collective past? Can we learn from our mistakes? This would be our hope.

We offer these myths and facts to assist students, parents and teachers in thinking critically about this holiday, and deconstructing what we have been taught about the history of this continent and the world. (Note: We have based our “fact” sections in large part on the research, both published and unpublished, that Abenaki scholar Margaret M. Bruchac developed in collaboration with the Wampanoag Indian Program at Plimoth Plantation. We thank Marge for her generosity. We thank Doris Seale and Lakota Harden for their support.)

Myth #1: “The First Thanksgiving” occurred in 1621.
“Thanksgiving is a truly American holiday. Its traditions began in the New World with a feast shared by the Pilgrims and Native Americans….The Pilgrims decided to have a three-day celebration feast to give thanks for a good harvest. Thus began the first Thanksgiving.”
Judith Stamper, Thanksgiving Fun Activity Book
“In New England the first traditional Thanksgiving was celebrated by the Plymouth colonists.”
Kathy Ross, Crafts for Thanksgiving
"During the fall of 1621, he declared that there would be a feast to celebrate their first bountiful harvest…. Today, we think of that wonderful harvest feast…as the first American Thanksgiving. (Although for them Native Americans, it was actually their fifth thanksgiving feast of the year!)”
Deborah Fink, It's a Family Thanksgiving!
“The first Thanksgiving was a celebration of the Pilgrims’ very first harvest….[The cornucopia reminds] us of the first Thanksgiving when Pilgrims gave thanks for their first rich harvest in the New World.”
Janice Kinnealy, Let’s Celebrate Thanksgiving, A Book of Drawing Fun
“The feast at Plymouth in 1621 is often called The First Thanksgiving.”
Robert Merrill Bartlett, The Story of Thanksgiving

“The pilgrims wanted to give thanks for all the good food. That was the first Thanksgiving."
Karen Gray Ruelle, The Thanksgiving Beast Feast

No one knows when the “first” thanksgiving occurred. People have been giving thanks for as long as people have existed. Indigenous nations all over the world have celebrations of the harvest that come from very old traditions; for Native peoples, thanksgiving comes not once a year, but every day, for all the gifts of life. To refer to the harvest feast of 1621 as “The First Thanksgiving” disappears Indian peoples in the eyes of non-Native children.

For other eurocentric, white supremacist myths, please see below. For the corrections to those distortions and lies, please visit this website: 

Myth #2: The people who came across the ocean on the Mayflower were called Pilgrims.
Myth #3: The colonists came seeking freedom of religion in a new land.
Myth #4: When the "Pilgrims" landed, they first stepped foot on "Plymouth Rock."
Myth #5: The Pilgrims found corn.
Myth #6: Samoset appeared out of nowhere, and along with Squanto became friends with the Pilgrims. Squanto helped the Pilgrims survive and joined them at "The First Thanksgiving."
Myth #7: The Pilgrims invited the Indians to celebrate the First Thanksgiving.
Myth #8: The Pilgrims provided the food for their Indian friends.
Myth #9: The Pilgrims and Indians feasted on turkey, potatoes, berries, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, and popcorn.
Myth #10: The Pilgrims and Indians became great friends.
Myth #11: Thanksgiving is a happy time.

The Introduction by Mitchel Cohen, in 2004, to his 2003 piece on U.S. Thanksgiving

[image is from here]
[Source for what follows: here]
November 25, 2004

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?

Why I Hate Thanksgiving (2004 Version)

On Thanksgiving morning 2003, George W. Bush showed up in Iraq before sunrise for a photo-op, wearing an Army workout jacket and surrounded by soldiers. He cradled a platter with what appeared to be a golden-brown turkey. Washington Post reporter Mike Allen wrote that "the bird looks perfect, with bunches of grapes and other trimmings completing a Norman Rockwell image that evokes bounty and security in one of the most dangerous parts of the world."

As the world was soon to learn (but quickly forgot), the turkey platter was a phony, a decoration, that Bush posed with for the cameras. Bush shook a few hands, said a few "God Bless Americas," and scurried back to his plane as quickly as he had arrived.

Thus, in one fell swoop, the new Conquistador had tied to history's bloody bough the 511-year-old conquest of the "New World" ­ whose legions smote the indigenous population in the name of Christ ­ with last year's bombardment and invasion of Iraq and the torture-detentions of prisoners of war at U.S. military bases.

Since last Thanksgiving George Bush'sAmerica has filled the Iraqi landscape with depleted uranium armaments that have poisoned the agriculture and water supply for thousands of years to come.

As I write, U.S. troops are blasting their way through the town of Fallujah, and hundreds of dead civilians lie in the streets everywhere. The military calls them "corpses" and "collateral damage" ­ and so too do the media. U.S. and British journalists have fled the carnage and return only as "embeds" ­ reporters planted in the safety of large army squandrons ­ embellishing slightly on military press releases and faxing their reports to their editors as "eyewitness news". It is only through the photos taken by Arab journalists and independent media that we learn of the actual horror, of the children's bodies lying in the street alongside the tanks as American soldiers satisfactorily survey the scene.

The NY Post ran a picture of one of these soldiers and captioned him the "Marlboro Man," the generic embodiment of what it means for them to be a "man," rugged, oil-smeared face dragging on a U.S. cigarette. It's not the individual grunt'sfault that the media needs to invent its heroes in such caricatures, but forgive me if I look elsewhere ­ perhaps to the guerrillas, to the hundreds of military resisters, to the immigrants rounded up for simply existing, to lawyers like Lynne Stewart who are fighting against the USA Patriot Act and the decimation of the Bill of Rights ­ for reminding of what it means to be human in an era of robots.

Similarly, in Palestine where Israeli occupiers are building a huge wall ­ basically, a concentration camp ­ around and through Palestine, paid for by U.S. tax dollars.

The mindset that created the first Thanksgiving in the 17th century on the corpses of murdered Pequot Indians runs free today in the 21st century over the corpses of murdered Iraqis, Afghanis, and Palestinians.

* * *
In November 2003, as George Bush's plane was landing in the pre-dawn hours for his faux-dinner in Iraq, I wrote "Why I Hate Thanksgiving," and it ended up being published all over the place under various titles, such as Counterpunch's"Genocide? Pass the Turkey." Much has transpired since then. But, despite enormous antiwar protests that shook the world, the true history of what Thanksgiving represents, as I discussed in my article, has re-emerged without apology from the Shopping Malls of suburbia in the form of the Night of the Living Dead. The elections were stolen, and ignorant armies are clashing everywhere by night.

I received hundreds of letters responding to that essay; In future printings of this booklet I will append readers, comments, so please send them to me. In this printing I've supplemented some historical views and made some other adjustments.

One additional consideration has to do with our fetishization of "Thanksgiving food," why we eat it, where it comes from. While I fondly remember the results of Aunt Dora'ssecret recipe for her delicious turkey stuffing that I enjoyed so much as a kid, I am revolted by the annual ritual slaughter of tens of millions of turkeys, which many of us feast on while watching equally sanitized images of blown-up Iraqi and Afghan children. William Kunstler, bless his soul ­ whirling as he is in his grave furiously trying to generate the energy needed to power all the indymedia websites worldwide ­ towards the end of his life began to speak of the link between the mass slaughter of animals, capital punishment and the history of colonization ... and, what we,d need to do to begin to change things:

"Marjorie Spiegel, a neighbor of mine in Greenwich Village, has written a most compelling book ­ The Dreaded Comparison ­ in which she details the devastating similarities between animal and human slavery," Kunstler argues. He continues:

"Alice Walker, in her most eloquent foreword, states that The animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans any more than black people were made for whites or women for men., ...

"We owe it to ourselves and the animal world as well to create, not merely a body of rules and regulations to govern our conduct but a level of sensibility that makes us care, deeply and constructively, about the entire planet and all of its varied inhabitants. If we can accomplish this, then, perhaps, in some far-off day, those who follow us down the track of the generations will be able to dwell in relative harmony with all the creatures of the earth, human and nonhuman."

The ritual slaughter of turkeys; the fact that each American'saverage Thanksgiving dinner is 2000 calories, and that we live in a country with 5% of the world'speople consuming 27% of the world'snatural resources, while making 50% of its garbage ­ these present us with strong arguments against factory farming, with its subjugation of animals (and plants) to severe abuse, genetic engineering, pesticides, and a sewer of antibiotics, leading to conditions that not only torture the animals but enter the U.S. diet and severely impact on human health.

We are getting sicker as a nation physically, as well as mentally. The two are related.

We know that we need to speak truth to power, and that justice will prevail eventually; the questions, though, are "How long is eventually?" "How many people must be tortured and killed in the meantime?" And, "How can we stop it? What do we need to do, NOW?"

After reading my essay, one writer wrote: "Good Lord, I,m so depressed! I hope he doesn't write Why I Hate Christmas,! His family must really look forward to his arrival on Thanksgiving Day. For my sanity's sake I think I,ll cling to the revisionist version!"

Another writer asked me: "I've been reading your posts for years and I wonder, is there anything you celebrate and take joy in? We never hear about those things, but only about what you find wrong with the world. What do you find right?"

I can answer in one word: "Resistance." Celebrate Resistance. That is what I take joy in, Resistance in its political, artistic, social, and sexual forms.

* * *
This Thanksgiving Day, I will get together with MY family ­ those of you who believe in resistance ­ and FAST in front of U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer's house in Park Slope, Brooklyn, to protest his support for the wars against Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. financing of Israel's occupation of Palestine, and the detention and torture of immigrants and prisoners of war by the U.S. government.

I will fast outside Sen. Schumer's in order to meditate upon the historical threads that bind U.S. policy today to its colonial genocide of the Native people of Turtle Island.

I will fast for Leonard Peltier, Mumia Abu-Jamal, and all political prisoners in the United States.

I will fast against the USA Patriot Act, repression of immigrants, and the decimation of the Bill of rights.

I will fast against global ecological devastation.

I will fast to better contemplate what new forms the resistance will take.

The effort in finding ways to turn despair into resistance is a happy one. CREATE the alternative. BE the alternative. Don't let the system determine for us how to experience its rituals and warfare, or the approved ways to combat its terror. Be Creative. Resistance keeps you young, forever!

Mitchel Cohen
Bensonhurst, Brooklyn
November 25, 2004

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thought for the Day: 25 November 2009

[image is from here]

I have come to believe, sadly, that white people--female and male, will not likely or often or willfully--without being challenged to do so (and even then...)--take full responsibility for their whiteness and the negative impact it has on women of color globally. Whites remain in great ignorance, generally and intentionally, about the political nature of whiteness and the force it takes to maintain it as a socially enacted political reality. Whites do not even name or own the political meaning of it, how it expresses itself, how it behaves in human beings to corrupt us (whites) and distort and demean the rest of humanity (people of color). Whites do not take responsibility for defusing the power infused in it socially and interpersonally as well as institutionally. Whites self-servingly and defensively protect and defend or utterly deny the privileges and entitlements that come with being white.

I have come to believe and expect that this will happen approximately as often and commonly as men, individually but always part of a class of oppressors, will do the same. Whether of color or white, heterosexual or gay--in my experience men, generally, will not take full responsibility for our manhood and the negative impact it has on women as it is expressed in patriarchies across the globe. Men will not even name or own the political meaning of our manhood and the force it takes to keep this concept concretely existent. Men will not own or be responsible with the power infused in it socially and interpersonally as well as institutionally. Men do not acknowledge the privileges and entitlements that come with being a man.

I hope this changes but have come to feel less optimistic about holding that hope over the last twenty-five years of witnessing what I have witnessed U.S. whites and men do to U.S. women of color, in this nation that was built on the enslaved backs and fed with the forcibly let blood of women of color. The gynocides and the genocides continue. White men, in particular, celebrate these atrocities as forms of entertainment, or treat these atrocities as non-existent. Whites and men ignore them, even, paradoxically, as we perpetrate and perpetuate them.

U.S. Thanksgiving: What's to be grateful for? Genocide? Think about THAT while passing the BLOODY cranberry sauce

What follows is from here. 
November 27, 2003

First Genocide, Then Lie About It

Why I Hate Thanksgiving

With much material contributed by Peter Linebaugh and others whose names have over the years been lost.--MC

The year was 1492. The Taino-Arawak people of the Bahamas discovered Christopher Columbus on their beach.

Historian Howard Zinn tells us how Arawak men and women, naked, tawny, and full of wonder, emerged from their villages onto the island's beaches and swam out to get a closer look at the strange big boat. When Columbus and his sailors came ashore, carrying swords, speaking oddly, the Arawaks ran to greet them, brought them food, water, gifts. Columbus later wrote of this in his log. Here is what he wrote:
"They brought us parrots and balls of cotton and spears and many other things, which they exchanged for the glass beads and hawks' bells. They willingly traded everything they owned. They were well-built, with good bodies and handsome features. They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance. They have no iron. Their spears are made of sugar cane. They would make fine servants. With 50 men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want."
And so the conquest began, and the Thanotocracy -- the regime of death -- was inaugurated on the continent the Indians called "Turtle Island."

You probably already know a good piece of the story: How Columbus's Army took Arawak and Taino people prisoners and insisted that they take him to the source of their gold, which they used in tiny ornaments in their ears. And how, with utter contempt and cruelty, Columbus took many more Indians prisoners and put them aboard the Nina and the Pinta -- the Santa Maria having run aground on the island of Hispañola (today, the Dominican Republic and Haiti). When some refused to be taken prisoner, they were run through with swords and bled to death. Then the Nina and the Pinta set sail for the Azores and Spain. During the long voyage, many of the Indian prisoners died. Here's part of Columbus's report to Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain:
"The Indians are so naive and so free with their possessions that no one who has not witnessed them would believe it. When you ask for something they have, they never say no. To the contrary, they offer to share with anyone." Columbus concluded his report by asking for a little help from the King and Queen, and in return he would bring them "as much gold as they need, and as many slaves as they ask."
Columbus returned to the New World -- "new" for Europeans, that is -- with 17 ships and more than 1,200 men. Their aim was clear: Slaves, and gold. They went from island to island in the Caribbean, taking Indians as captives. But word spread ahead of them. By the time they got to Fort Navidad on Haiti, the Taino had risen up and killed all the sailors left behind on the last voyage, after they had roamed the island in gangs raping women and taking children and women as slaves. Columbus later wrote: "Let us in the name of the Holy Trinity go on sending all the slaves that can be sold." The Indians began fighting back, but were no match for the Spaniard conquerors, even though they greatly outnumbered them. In eight years, Columbus's men murdered more than 100,000 Indians on Haiti alone. Overall, dying as slaves in the mines, or directly murdered, or from diseases brought to the Caribbean by the Spaniards, over 3 million Indian people were murdered between 1494 and 1508.

What Columbus did to the Arawaks of the Bahamas and the Taino of the Caribbean, Cortez did to the Aztecs of Mexico, Pizarro to the Incas of Peru, and the English settlers of Virginia and Massachusetts to the Powhatans and the Pequots. Literally millions of native peoples were slaughtered. And the gold, slaves and other resources were used, in Europe, to spur the growth of the new money economy rising out of feudalism. Karl Marx would later call this "the primitive accumulation of capital." These were the violent beginnings of an intricate system of technology, business, politics and culture that would dominate the world for the next five centuries.

All of this were the preconditions for the first Thanksgiving. In the North American English colonies, the pattern was set early, as Columbus had set it in the islands of the Bahamas. In 1585, before there was any permanent English settlement in Virginia, Richard Grenville landed there with seven ships. The Indians he met were hospitable, but when one of them stole a small silver cup, Grenville sacked and burned the whole Indian village.

The Jamestown colony was established in Virginia in 1607, inside the territory of an Indian confederacy, led by the chief, Powhatan. Powhatan watched the English settle on his people's land, but did not attack. And the English began starving. Some of them ran away and joined the Indians, where they would at least be fed. Indeed, throughout colonial times tens of thousands of indentured servants, prisoners and slaves -- from Wales and Scotland as well as from Africa -- ran away to live in Indian communities, intermarry, and raise their children there.

In the summer of 1610 the governor of Jamestown colony asked Powhatan to return the runaways, who were living fully among the Indians. Powhatan left the choice to those who ran away, and none wanted to go back. The governor of Jamestown then sent soldiers to take revenge. They descended on an Indian community, killed 15 or 16 Indians, burned the houses, cut down the corn growing around the village, took the female leader of the tribe and her children into boats, then ended up throwing the children overboard and shooting out their brains in the water. The female leader was later taken off the boat and stabbed to death.

By 1621, the atrocities committed by the English had grown, and word spread throughout the Indian villages. The Indians fought back, and killed 347 colonists. From then on it was total war. Not able to enslave the Indians the English aristocracy decided to exterminate them.
And then the Pilgrims arrived.

When the Pilgrims came to New England they too were coming not to vacant land but to territory inhabited by tribes of Indians. The story goes that the Pilgrims, who were Christians of the Puritan sect, were fleeing religious persecution in Europe. They had fled England and went to Holland, and from there sailed aboard the Mayflower, where they landed at Plymouth Rock in what is now Massachusetts.

Religious persecution or not, they immediately turned to their religion to rationalize their persecution of others. They appealed to the Bible, Psalms 2:8: "Ask of me, and I shall give thee, the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession." To justify their use of force to take the land, they cited Romans 13:2: "Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation."

The Puritans lived in uneasy truce with the Pequot Indians, who occupied what is now southern Connecticut and Rhode Island. But they wanted them out of the way; they wanted their land. And they seemed to want to establish their rule firmly over Connecticut settlers in that area.

In 1636 an armed expedition left Boston to attack the Narragansett Indians on Block Island. The English landed and killed some Indians, but the rest hid in the thick forests of the island and the English went from one deserted village to the next, destroying crops. Then they sailed back to the mainland and raided Pequot villages along the coast, destroying crops again.

The English went on setting fire to wigwams of the village. They burned village after village to the ground. As one of the leading theologians of his day, Dr. Cotton Mather put it: "It was supposed that no less than 600 Pequot souls were brought down to hell that day." And Cotton Mather, clutching his bible, spurred the English to slaughter more Indians in the name of Christianity.
Three hundred thousand Indians were murdered in New England over the next few years. It is important to note: The ordinary Englishmen did not want this war and often, very often, refused to fight. Some European intellectuals like Roger Williams spoke out against it. And some erstwhile colonists joined the Indians and even took up arms against the invaders from England. It was the Puritan elite who wanted the war, a war for land, for gold, for power. And, in the end, the Indian population of 10 million that was in North America when Columbus came was reduced to less than one million.

The way the different Indian peoples lived -- communally, consensually, making decisions through tribal councils, each tribe having different sexual/marriage relationships, where many different sexualities were practiced as the norm -- contrasted dramatically with the Puritan's Christian fundamentalist values. For the Puritans, men decided everything, whereas in the Iroquois federation of what is now New York state women chose the men who represented the clans at village and tribal councils; it was the women who were responsible for deciding on whether or not to go to war. The Christian idea of male dominance and female subordination was conspicuously absent in Iroquois society.

There were many other cultural differences: The Iroquois did not use harsh punishment on children. They did not insist on early weaning or early toilet training, but gradually allowed the child to learn to care for themselves. And, they did not believe in ownership of land; they utilized the land, lived on it. The idea of ownership was ridiculous, absurd. The European Christians, on the other hand, in the spirit of the emerging capitalism, wanted to own and control everything -- even children and other human beings. The pastor of the Pilgrim colony, John Robinson, thus advised his parishioners: "And surely there is in all children a stubbornness, and stoutness of mind arising from natural pride, which must, in the first place, be broken and beaten down; that so the foundation of their education being laid in humility and tractableness, other virtues may, in their time, be built thereon." That idea sunk in.
One colonist said that the plague that had destroyed the Patuxet people -- a combination of slavery, murder by the colonists and disease -- was "the Wonderful Preparation of the Lord Jesus Christ by His Providence for His People's Abode in the Western World." The Pilgrims robbed Wampanoag graves for the food that had been buried with the dead for religious reasons. Whenever the Pilgrims realized they were being watched, they shot at the Wampanoags, and scalped them. Scalping had been unknown among Native Americans in New England prior to its introduction by the English, who began the practice by offering the heads of their enemies and later accepted scalps.
"What do you think of Western Civilization?" Mahatma Gandhi was asked in the 1940s. To which Gandhi replied: "Western Civilization? I think it would be a good idea." And so enters "Civilization," the civilization of Christian Europe, a "civilizing force" that couldn't have been more threatened by the beautiful anarchy of the Indians they encountered, and so slaughtered them.
These are the Puritans that the Indians "saved", and whom we celebrate in the holiday, Thanksgiving. Tisquantum, also known as Squanto, a member of the Patuxet Indian nation. Samoset, of the Wabonake Indian nation, which lived in Maine. They went to Puritan villages and, having learned to speak English, brought deer meat and beaver skins for the hungry, cold Pilgrims. Tisquantum stayed with them and helped them survive their first years in their New World. He taught them how to navigate the waters, fish and cultivate corn and other vegetables. He pointed out poisonous plants and showed how other plants could be used as medicines. He also negotiated a peace treaty between the Pilgrims and Massasoit, head chief of the Wampanoags, a treaty that gave the Pilgrims everything and the Indians nothing. And even that treaty was soon broken. All this is celebrated as the First Thanksgiving.

My own feeling? The Indians should have let the Pilgrims die. But they couldn't do that. Their humanity made them assist other human beings in need. And for that beautiful, human, loving connection they -- and those of us who are not Indian as well -- paid a terrible price: The genocide of the original inhabitants of Turtle Island, what is now America.

Let's look at one example of the Puritan values -- which were not, I repeat, the values of the English working class values that we "give thanks for" on this holiday. The example of the Maypole, and Mayday.

In 1517, 25 years after Columbus first landed in the Bahamas, the English working class staged a huge revolt. This was done through the guilds. King Henry VIII brought Lombard bankers from Italy and merchants from France in order to undercut wages, lengthen hours, and break the guilds. This alliance between international finance, national capital and military aristocracy was in the process of merging into the imperialist nation-state.

The young workers of London took their revenge upon the merchants. A secret rumor said the commonality -- the vision of communal society that would counter the rich, the merchants, the industrialists, the nobility and the landowners -- would arise on May Day. The King and Lords got frightened -- householders were armed, a curfew was declared. Two guys didn't hear about the curfew (they missed Dan Rather on t.v.). They were arrested. The shout went out to mobilize, and 700 workers stormed the jails, throwing bricks, hot water, stones. The prisoners were freed. A French capitalist's house was trashed.

Then came the repression: Cannons were fired into the city. Three hundred were imprisoned, soldiers patrolled the streets, and a proclamation was made that no women were allowed to meet together, and that all men should "keep their wives in their houses." The prisoners were brought through the streets tied in ropes. Some were children. Eleven sets of gallows were set up throughout the city. Many were hanged. The authorities showed no mercy, but exhibited extreme cruelty.

Thus the dreaded Thanatocracy, the regime of death, was inaugurated in answer to proletarian riot at the beginning of capitalism. The May Day riots were caused by expropriation (people having been uprooted from their lands they had used for centuries in common), and by exploitation (people had no jobs, as the monarchy imported capital). Working class women organizers and healers who posed an alternative to patriarchal capitalism -- were burned at the stake as witches. Enclosure, conquest, famine, war and plague ravaged the people who, in losing their commons, also lost a place to put their Maypole.
Suddenly, the Maypole became a symbol of rebellion. In 1550 Parliament ordered the destruction of Maypoles (just as, during the Vietnam war, the U.S.-backed junta in Saigon banned the making of all red cloth, as it was being sewn into the blue, yellow and red flags of the National Liberation Front).
In 1664, near the end of the Puritans' war against the Pequot Indians, the Puritans in England abolished May Day altogether. They had defeated the Indians, and they were attempting to defeat the growing proletarian insurgency at home as well.

Although translators of the Bible were burned, its last book, Revelation, became an anti-authoritarian manual useful to those who would turn the Puritan world upside down, such as the Family of Love, the Anabaptists, the Diggers, Levellers, Ranters, and Thomas Morton, the man who in 1626 went to Merry Mount in Quincy Mass, and with his Indian friends put up the first Maypole in America, in contempt of Puritan rule.

The Puritans destroyed it, exiled him, plagued the Indians, and hanged gay people and Quakers. Morton had come over on his own, a boat person, an immigrant. So was Anna Lee, who came over a few years later, the Manchester proletarian who founded the communal living, gender separated Shakers, who praised God in ecstatic dance, and who drove the Puritans up the wall.

The story of the Maypole as a symbol of revolt continued. It crossed cultures and continued through the ages. In the late 1800s, the Sioux began the Ghost Dance in a circle, "with a large pine tree in the center, which was covered with strips of cloth of various colors, eagle feathers, stuffed birds, claws, and horns, all offerings to the Great Spirit." They didn't call it a Maypole and they danced for the unity of all Indians, the return of the dead, and the expulsion of the invaders on a particular day, the 4th of July, but otherwise it might as well have been a Mayday!

Wovoka, a Nevada Paiute, started it. Expropriated, he cut his hair. To buy watermelon he rode boxcars to work in the Oregon hop fields for small wages, exploited. The Puget Sound Indians had a new religion -- they stopped drinking alcohol, became entranced, and danced for five days, jerking twitching, calling for their land back, just like the Shakers! Wovoka took this back to Nevada: "All Indians must dance, everywhere, keep on dancing." Soon they were. Porcupine took the dance across the Rockies to the Sioux. Red Cloud and Sitting Bull advanced the left foot following with the right, hardly lifting the feet from the ground. The Federal Agents banned the Ghost Dance! They claimed it was a cause of the last Sioux outbreak, just as the Puritans had claimed the Maypole had caused the May Day proletarian riots, just as the Shakers were dancing people into communality and out of Puritanism.
On December 29 1890 the Government (with Hotchkiss guns throwing 2 pound explosive shells at 50 a minute -- always developing new weapons!) massacred more than 300 men, women and children at Wounded Knee. As in the Waco holocaust, or the bombing of MOVE in Philadelphia, the State disclaimed responsibility. The Bureau of Ethnology sent out James Mooney to investigate. Amid Janet Reno-like tears, he wrote: "The Indians were responsible for the engagement."

In 1970, the town of Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts held, as it does each year, a Thanksgiving Ceremony given by the townspeople. There are many speeches for the crowds who attend. That year -- the year of Nixon's secret invasion of Cambodia; the year 4 students were massacred at Kent State and 13 wounded for opposing the war; the year they tried to electrocute Black Panthers Bobby Seale and Erica Huggins -- the Massachusetts Department of Commerce asked the Wampanoag Indians to select a speaker to mark the 350th anniversary of the Pilgrims' arrival, and the first Thanksgiving.

Frank James, who is a Wampanoag, was selected. But before he was allowed to speak he was told to show a copy of his speech to the white people in charge of the ceremony. When they saw what he had written, they would not allow him to read it.

First, the genocide. Then, the suppression of all discussion about it.
What do Indian people find to be Thankful for in this America? What does anyone have to be Thankful for in the genocide of the Indians, that this "holyday" commemorates? As we sit with our families on Thanksgiving, taking any opportunity we can to get out of work or off the streets and be in a warm place with people we love, we realize that all the things we have to be thankful for have nothing at all to do with the Pilgrims, nothing at all to do with Amerikan history, and everything to do with the alternative, anarcho-communist lives the Indian peoples led, before they were massacred by the colonists, in the name of privatization of property and the lust for gold and labor.

Yes, I am an American. But I am an American in revolt. I am revolted by the holiday known as Thanksgiving. I have been accused of wanting to go backwards in time, of being against progress. To those charges, I plead guilty. I want to go back in time to when people lived communally, before the colonists' Christian god was brought to these shores to sanctify their terrorism, their slavery, their hatred of children, their oppression of women, their holocausts. But that is impossible. So all I look forward to the utter destruction of the apparatus of death known as Amerika -- not the people, not the beautiful land, but the machinery, the State, the capitalism, the Christianity and all that it stands for. I look forward to a future where I will have children with Amerika, and they will be the new Indians.

Mitchel Cohen is co-editor of "Green Politix", the national newspaper of the Greens/Green Party USA,, and organizes with the NoSpray Coalition and the Brooklyn Greens. He can be reached at:
In memorium. Lest we forget. The First Thanksgiving
From the Community Endeavor News, November, 1995, as reprinted in Healing Global Wounds, Fall, 1996

The first official Thanksgiving wasn't a festive gathering of Indians and Pilgrims, but rather a celebration of the massacre of 700 Pequot men, women and children, an anthropologist says. Due to age and illness his voice cracks as he talks about the holiday, but William B. Newell, 84, talks with force as he discusses Thanksgiving. Newell, a Penobscot, has degrees from two universities, and was the former chairman of the anthropology department at the University of Connecticut.

"Thanksgiving Day was first officially proclaimed by the Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1637 to commemorate the massacre of 700 men, women and children who were celebrating their annual green corn dance-Thanksgiving Day to them-in their own house," Newell said.

"Gathered in this place of meeting they were attacked by mercenaries and Dutch and English. The Indians were ordered from the building and as they came forth they were shot down. The rest were burned alive in the building," he said.

Newell based his research on studies of Holland Documents and the 13 volume Colonial Documentary History, both thick sets of letters and reports from colonial officials to their superiors and the king in England, and the private papers of Sir William Johnson, British Indian agent for the New York colony for 30 years in the mid-1600s.

"My research is authentic because it is documentary," Newell said. "You can't get anything more accurate than that because it is first hand. It is not hearsay."

Newell said the next 100 Thanksgivings commemorated the killing of the Indians at what is now Groton, Ct. [home of a nuclear submarine base] rather than a celebration with them. He said the image of Indians and Pilgrims sitting around a large table to celebrate Thanksgiving Day was "fictitious" although Indians did share food with the first settlers.

Weekend Edition Features for Nov. 14 / 23, 2003