King Canute Commands the Sea to Cease It’s Roiling and Tidal Surf

Posted September 25, 2013 by Radha
Categories: Community

The discussion was on the Facebook post of a friend, Gillian, who was bemoaning the ways that movies changes short stories and books. I actually think it was likely to have been occasioned by the new FOX television show, Sleepy Hollow. Which soon led into a diatribe contra Burton, worthy of come of Augustine’s best contra dances with truth and damnation. 

But, as the venom toward the new got more intense with other of her friends adding to the gleeful impossible attempt to have the sun stand still over Gibeon I got rather tired of reading the babble and decided to overwhelm the lot with brilliance and fact. 

An open letter to my dearest Gillie. 

Golly, all this chatting about finding “a way to break the static unchanging nature of the written word – or at least ignore it.” and more about “sacred words” leaves me with a definite urge at 9:54 a.m. to go mix a margarita and wait to see if the world doesn’t perhaps implode today. 

Prithee, beloved friend, tell me exactly how one goes about determining “the author’s original intent?” Spoz that we’ve anything extant that even approaches anything Homer might have sung in the hall of the rulers in Argos or Sparta? Or likelier  the old goat never sang in those towns at all, but perhaps on Lesbos or the Ionian Shore. How about the original intent of the “Framers” of the U.S. Constitution in Philadelphia in 1787 or the scribblers and folk-tellers who composed what we quaintly refer to today as the Christian Bible? 

Suppose any of us that anything like original intent or wording is feasible? Even more to the point: I began reading this morning Chalmers Johnson’s, The Sorrows of Empire. Given the vicissitudes of the publishing trade I wonder how much of what I am reading fits exactly with what he wrote in his early drafts? Let alone after some editors at Henry Holt had ministered gently to the manuscript. Alas, like Job, Moses, Ezekial, Isaiah, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, James and “the Framers” Mr. Johnson has sailed to the West, entered the Somerlande, gone through Sleep’s dark and silent gates, taken Charon’s pirogue to the nethershore. In short, he’s dead and cannot any longer be asked about the current accuracy of his work. 

I know you know as well as I know that there is only words that we decide are sacred. No one gives much of a flip if I am accurately reciting the “original” version of “London Bridge” or “Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary.” All else is posing and pedantry. Or so it seemth to me. 

Okay, or should I write that word differently? OK? I rather like Tim Burton’s “Sleepy Hollow.” Although I am fully cognizant that it hews not at all anything like closely to Irving’s short story. But, then Irving no doubt took more than a bit of license with some old knickerbocker’s tales of the Hudson Valley and most assuredly did so when he presented us with his Moorish and Spanish tales. Yet, in spite, or because, of that, I quite enjoy all those works of Washington Irving. 

Language is never crystalized or solid, ever. Never has been and you, of all my friends must, in your great erudition, know that. (None of this is sarcasm, btw, but some is exasperation.) Augustan Latin becomes Aurelian Latin, becomes the Latin of Odoacer, becomes Gothic, becomes, Lombardic, becomes Milanese becomes Italian or something of the sort, but whatever the track it becomes other than it was. 

Depp and Burton, fr’instance, work in the medium of sight and sound, pictures rather than words for definition and nuance. How often have I tried to paint portraits or pictures of people and places with the written word and bemoaned the fact that I am not a plastic artist? Yet, words can paint pictures and language is nothing if not a plastic art. Damn near, it’s as plastic and fluid as water itself. 

So, if we might could we sound somewhat less like a chorus of old blue-haired ladies sitting at tea of a Saturday morning bemoaning the passing of the dashing Gen. Robert E. Lee and his Army of Nawthuhn Vuhgeneeah? You know better. 

If you don’t then drive out to Malibu or somewhere approximate and drag Canute’s chair along with you. Place it at the edge of the waves and command them to recede. But, first, message me with your wager on your ability to have them obey thee.  

I miss stuff from my childhood as well. I also think it’s absolutely imperative that Layamon’s Brut and Malory’s “L’Morte” are preserved as they have come down to us. I want my children to appreciate Chaucer and Homer. I think schools of economics and MBAs ought be dismantled and ground into dust and everyone be taught from cradle to grave the liberal arts whose Queen is literature. More o’ humanity can be taught in a Shakespearean sonnet than will ever be taught in any depratment at Georgetown or George Mason, Columbia, Penn, Princeton, Harvard, Oxford or Cambridge, except in their faculties of Literature. 

I know, as well, that the sea will not stop roiling at my command and that the rose’s bloom is soonest blown when I determine to preserve her. For what is a rose encased in plastic or concrete or melted glass? I know not; but, ’tis something with a name other than rose. Any attempt to halt creative use/s of the past by those alive in this moment are doomed to fail. And should. 

Much love, 

Radha

Let Freedom Ring and Why It Doesn’t

Posted August 30, 2013 by Radha
Categories: Activism, Authenticity, Community, Connection, Intersectionality, Otherness, Social Justice

Tags: , , , ,

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be engulfed, every hill shall be exalted and every mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plains and the crooked places will be made straight and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I will go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.

With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.

With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to climb up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning “My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my father’s died, land of the Pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring!”

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true. So let freedom ring from the hilltops of New Hampshire.

Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.

Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.

But not only that, let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi and every mountainside.

When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every tenement and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old spiritual, “Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last.”

So, there it was, the last three minutes of a speech that was heralded fifty years later as somehow the accomplished end of American progress toward the freedom of its citizenry. Yet, after fifty years there is still so much to do to end discrimination, so much to do to end the hatred of men and women for other men and women who are “othered” in the fashion that we other those we are afraid of, jealous of, ignorant of and distant from. There is so much to do to give folks a chance to reach the heights they are capable of scaling.

People don’t care much for the alien to themselves. We find comfort in sameness and the quotidian reality that we first call boredom and then call real life. Likely enough, that’s one of the reasons that the topic of conversation at work places and in bars and parks or between classes at school is the latest sending offs from America’s Got Talent, American Idol, Dancing With The Stars, etc. ad infinitum.

We watch the same television programming, have many of the same interests, find many of the same things exciting, many of the same things irrelevant, or boring. Our interests, dreams, fears, and habits have become predictably similar over the past fifty years. We continue to fear foreign tyrants, but how they have shrunk. Nikita Khrushchev had substance and Bashar Al-Asaad hasn’t. Bashar doesn’t seem the sort of fellow who could have been a part of the Soviet Army that fought brutal and terrible actions against the German Army in order to save the world from Fascism in World War II.

He is likely more cultured and at home with the nuances of western etiquette than Khrushchev was. I cannot imagine Mr. Al-Asaad removing his shoe and banging it on a desk in order to gather attention to himself. All in all, Bashar Al-Asaad isn’t even a quarter as scary as was Saddam Hussein; he makes the puniest villain USA has come up against since the Grenadian Prime Minister Maurice Bishop. Seriously? Are we to believe that Al-Asaad is the predicted MENA Antichrist?  The very idea is laughable. Resurrect Slobodan Milošević instead! Send him to MENA and I shall believe in the Antichrist.

Even Miley Cyrus appears a larger threat to western civilization than poor ole Bashar. Her loose tongue, inadequate twerking, skimpy bikini, and appropriation of black culture, however, seem far less fearful than the platinum wave and curls, the voluptuous and sensuous body and lips of Marilyn Monroe. Marilyn seemed much more of a threat to the sexual purity and the suburban white mores of teenaged children than the sad commercialized late-teen rebellion of Ms. Cyrus is ever likely to be.

Those sorts of things are what I am taking from this week. Pageants of outrageous (really?) singers and dancers, a churning of rhetoric that attempts to turn a sad man fighting for his ongoing rule of a country most Americans cannot find on a map that isn’t in the back of their King James Bibles, and the sublimely ridiculous ringing of bells on California mountains, Mississippi molehills, Stone Mountain, Lookout Mountain, somewhere in the Adirondacks and in the Alleghenies (one presumes) to mark, yesterday, August 28th, 2013, to mark how we now let freedom ring in USA (just as Dr. King dreamed of.)

Really?!!  Are we seriously tempted to believe that the nakedly “made for media” displays of Miley Cyrus, the proposed neoliberal Syrian debacle, and the ringing of bells are hallmarks of USA freedom? If so, then the Wal-Mart-ization of USA is complete.

Yes, a serious feminist argument should be pursued, maybe, to examine the cultural appropriation of black indigenous art by white girl entertainers like Miley Cyrus, Gwen Stefani and Madonna Ciccone. But, I prefer those deconstructions come from women of color about their own feelings on such appropriations. So far only one I have read has been by a woman of color. Maybe that’s not the place just now to have my eyes locked on. [But, I have found one that reads like twenty, here: http://tressiemc.com/2013/08/27/when-your-brown-body-is-a-white-wonderland/ ]

On the other hand if we can carry forward a serious discussion of Dr. King’s notion of freedom and how it will ring (please, no choreographed bells on various hilltops or mountains, again) in these states; then we also begin a discussion that may bring, sooner rather than later, us to the end of spectacles that distract us, like that of Miley Cyrus.

That discussion might also bring us to the end of this ridiculous notion that American businessmen like the laughable Koch brothers and the even more ludicrous Sheldon Adelson should be making policy for the country either domestic or foreign. Toss in Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Jamie Dimon, and Lloyd Blankfein. In fact, we might even come to the point where there is no longer work for the neolibs like Bill Kristol, Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, and his marionette daughter to advocate the use of national resources for private gain and the enslavement of the world for the gain of the very few.

Such an end would mean the end of interventions like the proposed rocketing and bombing of Syria and the resulting mess that will make Benghazi look like a Ripon Society picnic.

What I find missing in all of that mire above is this: “The greatest purveyor of violence in the world : My own Government, I can not be Silent.” That’s the Dr. Martin Luther King that we don’t hear about anymore.

But, that too was Dr. King, in the final year of his life. That was the Dr. King that stirred hatred within white folks and within the business establishment who were all white males. That was the Dr. King who intersected the lives of all those who sought liberation from the great oppressive beast of American hegemony. That was the Dr. King who the pundits and talking heads could not look in the eye and maintain contact with. That was the Dr. King who still inspires not simply members of his own race, but those of us who intersect with his sense of justice and dignity for all people. That was the Dr. King who could have lead women, lesbians and gay men, transgender folk, the poor, the working class (forget that silly bourgeois idea that we are now all part of the bourgeois if we have a job of any kind.) That was the Dr. King who had to die before he started something that would sweep the country like a great tsunami and wash clean the Augean Stables of Wall Street and Washington D.C. Except that great flood has not yet been unleashed. That flood of clean water still awaits all of us or all of our children to unleash it.

That was the Dr. King who may have been the first child of the promise evoked by Lincoln when he said “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

There is our charge. There is the work that we must do. We must see that our country stops being the greatest purveyor of violence in the world. We must bind up the wounds of the nation that accrue from the materialistic amorality of capitalist dominion and propaganda. We must comfort the woman or man who bears the battle against the death-dealing rejection of the community of all humanity. We must soothe the ones who have fallen beneath the wheels of the fine-grinding machine of competition rather than into the soft embrace of empathy.

It is our duty on this fiftieth anniversary week of the 1963 March for Jobs and Freedom in DC to dedicate ourselves to a renewal of human compassion and to the beginning lessons of the human reality that we must have one another in order to thrive. We all face defeat when we compete rather than cooperate. We must draw those lessons into each of our lives and learn to live to embody the better angels of our beings rather than the devils that call us to the slaughter and enslavement of the other. That will be when we reach the point where we are all on the road to find the best in ourselves and others. When we reach the knowledge that humans aren’t on the planet to make the phantasmagoric will-o-th’-wisp of money, but to reach the hearts and souls of one another. It will be then that we can all raise voices as one in the words of that old Negro spiritual, Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last.”

Getting Down To The Quick (And The Dead), Or, Send Me An Expert

Posted August 26, 2013 by Radha
Categories: Authenticity, Communicating, Expert Opinions, Imperial Decline, Neoliberalism

Tags: , , , ,

Recently I had occasion to once again be in the midst of a discussion of Chelsea Manning and, once more, I found myself defending her against someone who seemed to me to be not only pedantic and pompous, but who also carried herself as though she was to the upper classes born. (I grow rather tired of the discussions at this point and do not see why my interlocutors refuse to admit their stubborn adherence to untruth and unreason when all they need do is to agree with me!) Ah, if only the world were a better place. :)

The friend who was acquainted with us both later informed me that the person I had been engaged with was considered an expert on military matters and taught in a school like West Point, or the Army War College. If not at either of those places then perhaps it was Citadel or VMI. Honestly it’s difficult to recall.

I wasn’t quite sure what to do with that information. Nor was I certain at all why my friend was telling me that. She sounded as though I had, perhaps, not respected the expert opinion enough. (Or perhaps, likely enough in fact, I was simply misreading her intention. Perhaps she was struck that I’d have the piss and vinegar to argue with someone certified by the television newsy opinion makers as a bona fide “member of their club of experts.”)

My thought both during the discussion and afterwards was, “So?” Yeah, I suppose that I am irreverent and certainly lack deference to authority. Most any authority, in fact. I think I must have inherited that from my Daddy. We both fit the profiles of the Meyers-Briggs Personality Inventory INFP person. Which means we have an internal sense of morality that doesn’t always track with what the traditional sense of that is in every instance.

After my friend had given me the information about this maven of the national security/military/foreign policy establishment I started to consider what her genuine expertness meant in the larger frame of human relations in general and more exactly what that means in terms of Anglo-American culture. (I think when I say that I am thinking of white Canadians, Britons, Aussies, New Zealanders and Americans. Insofar as as non-white persons have been inducted into white culture it would also apply to them: think Barack Obama, Condolezza Rice, or Oprah Winfrey as examples.)

Our culture authorizes experts. They manage to get vetted in the same way that the CIA, NSA, FBI, GCHQ, MI-5 or MI-6 vet their agents or collaterals. These women and men get tested frequently and the result is an almost uniform support of neoliberalism and its place as the “sensible” way to proceed in the world. You see that example in David Petraeus and Matt Lauer as well as with all the newsy talking heads whether they be employed by Fox News, MSNBC or BBC. There seems to be a level of belief in the current paradigm that’s required to become or be seen as an expert in any particular area of concern.

Upton Sinclair famously said: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!” Thus, the expert with whom I was engaging and why afterward I saw nothing at all except that she has her prejudices and I have mine. Mine aren’t currently hinged on maintaining a particular lifestyle or level of income. However, we both are confirmed in those prejudices by the people we tend to speak with daily.

When I am in a milieu I tend to conform consciously and unconsciously to that milieu. If the people with whom I discuss foreign policy or the trial of Chelsea Manning have a neoliberal cast of mind they are likely going to see her conviction as something that was good and meet and pretty much a foregone conclusion. After all, she was emotional in the ways that she acted and rather naive in the way in which she carried out her mission of disclosure. She didn’t cite the proper values and they will also, perhaps, inform us that the releases she made were not the important releases that she might have made with better skill and organization.

See, that last bit. They will be THE ONES WHO KNOW. They have all the relevant data and their minds work in that military-industrial complex-y fashion. They are perfectly at home discussing Iran with Bill Kristol. The entire pompous ass image is cultivated, not discarded. The expert HAS to say: “I know better than you. That’s why they pay me the big bucks.” “I have the lifestyle I maintain because the other very important people in the Anglo-American establishment credentialed me to be an expert.” (OMG! Henry Kissinger leaps to mind. I sincerely hope that my interlocutor doesn’t have the hopeless track-record of Kissinger who has basically gotten everything that’s happened in the world since 1964 wrong, wrong, wrong.)

Yet, he is credentialed and continues to hold those credentials at all the chic Manhattan and Versailles-on-the-Potomac shindigs. Gee whiz, he even still feigns to “advise” Republican presidential hopefuls. They feign listening to him.

The experts never step down, just as they never back down or admit abject failure. They don’t need to. Their masters only mostly need the public experts to, like my interlocutor, make intelligent-sounding noises for the television in order to maintain the faith of the masses that America is the greatest nation, the greatest people, who ever were. (And by extension that applies to the rest of the grand Anglo-American white folks leadership ranks.)

Lived experience isn’t usually a requirement for becoming an expert. Maintaining the party line is. It’s very hard for an expert who doesn’t maintain the party line to get their credentials for television and policy-making. I think of Noam Chomsky or Buckminster Fuller. Both are/were, rightly, famous and praised; but neither were ever taken to the breasts of the elite.

When one gets down to the living tissue of the imperial venture, the quick, one sees readily that the accuracy and the prescience of the expert isn’t at all what’s required of them. If they present both accuracy and prescience I am sure that’s appreciated. But, what is most serviceable to the powers that be is the ability of the expert to bowl over the opposition in whatever manner they can. Preferably some way that will preclude that opposition from ever opposing the status quo again.

But, Hell, some of us are just too stubborn to know better. We move the pins while the ball rolls down the alley.

Know When To Hold ‘Em And Know When To Fold ‘Em; Or, Sometimes I Just Gotta Know When The Game’s Past My Ability to Argue It.

Posted August 25, 2013 by Radha
Categories: Transsexuals, Transitional Dichotomies, Community, Chelsea Manning

Tags: , ,

I just managed to read this http://www.transadvocate.com/thoughts-on-chelsea-mannings-coming-out.htm over at The Transadvocate.

I have to admit I am happy that Autumn Sandeen has decided to be supportive of Chelsea Manning in spite of Chelsea having released 700,000 documents, cables, films, and other classified material and her having been convicted under a few Espionage Act of 1918 charges and sentenced to 35 years at Leavenworth United States Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, KS.

In her essay-long peroration Autumn’s managed to exculpate herself in what has been in some quarters (especially ex-military quarters) of the trans community a withering display of hate that could be called internalized transphobia. I cannot say for sure what is in the hearts of those of my sisters (as my experience has thus far been of women using masculine pronouns to refer to Ms. Manning) who have relentlessly used intentionally demeaning pronouns in reference to Ms. Manning.

But, there seems to be an odor that one might identify as either 1) a deep indoctrination into “my-country-and-military-right-or-wrong-or-on-the-way-to-Hell behaviors and thought-processes, 2) an intense hatred of someone none of them have ever met or gotten to know in any way at all, or 3) something else.

Ms. Sandeen makes it rather obvious that she dislikes Ms. Manning, but will (perhaps reluctantly?) honor her request to be called Chelsea and use appropriate pronouns and sex designations. Like I said, I am happy with that. Good on you, Autumn.

But, … (of course, isn’t there always one of those lurking?) But, Autumn doesn’t stop at that. She also feels the need to suggest that Ms. Manning’s timing of her very public announcement was inconvenient for trans-veteran rights groups and perhaps as well for the trans community. Plus, Ms. Manning didn’t run through her announcement with the “Leaders” of the trans community.

I’m sorry, I am aware that my friend Toni D’Orsay has made a list of 100 important folks in the campaign for trans rights. But, I wasn’t aware that Toni had invented a kind of “Elders of Zion” or “Exalted Masters in Zhang-ree-la” council that meets to discuss the moral, physical, and psychological fitness of people who are coming out as transgender.

I will assume that the committee or council is of recent founding as no one ever informed me back in the day at Gender Life or any of the transsexual bulletin boards that such a council existed and would have to pass on whether or not I could be thought of as a woman or a transsexual or any other sort of human being. I just took upon myself the task of transitioning.

Gosh, will I have to pay a fine? Give up my private bits? Serve time under one of the Himalayan peaks for having not inquired as to whether I could or could not ease my condition?

I have to admit, that I imagine that the entire exercise is just plain ridiculous from the git and that Autumn, although entitled to her opinions, has ultimately flunked the test of whether or not she could write about Ms. Manning with even-handedness and equanimity.

That she cannot do so isn’t at all problematic, except insofar as she declines to admit that from the off in this essay.

There’s no doubt that Ms. Manning’s announcement of something that’s been generally known for the past couple of years and has even gone through at least one set of debates and arguments in parts of the trans community has tossed a boulder among the dragon’s-teeth soldiers of the community. Once more the fur flies and people have decided that they get a say-so in whether or not someone else gets to be in the group.

It’s been pointed out to me that this sort of brouhaha is rather usual among people who have a history of being outcasts from the mainline communities of societies/cultures. Yes, it’s true. The most vicious judges of purity and morality are often those who have been lambasted the hardest on their own morality and purity. But, (again) that don’t make it right.

We don’t need the arguments to get hotter and more ferocious, that will avail nothing except the dividing of us into ever smaller groups within the larger community of men and women who are seeking to establish 0.003% of the population as citizens of our various countries, entitled to all the rights and privileges of such folk.

It’s not an easy row to hoe. But, then I have got to realize that I don’t get a say in something that is as intensely personal and anguishing as the realization of one’s trans existence. I have had my opportunity already in regard to me. I don’t get a bite of anyone else’s apple or get to plant their dragon’s-tooth in the soil. All I can do is understand that they very likely have had the same difficulties as I have had, although in this case compounded by trial, prison and an all-too-public outing that was a product of the defense establishment and the governmental establishment that was trying her.

Yep, contrary to the righteously angry who believe that Ms. Manning has divulged her gender identity in order to special plead in her defense; it was the government that released the trans information two years ago, likely in an effort to do exactly what the trans government supporters have done: to discredit her for who she is rather than to discredit her defense.

If you want to think that Chelsea Manning should rot in the bowels of a federal prison, by all means do so. If you wish to believe she is a hero who deserves a Medal of Honor, please believe that and advocate for it. If you believe something between those two poles then, please, do so and be glad that you have done.

Just respect the fact that Ms. Manning’s journey is as personal and intensely held as your own is/was/will be and act that way.

And, seriously, will someone please let me know about the Exalted Masters, the Elders, or the Council of the Trans 100 so I can get my permission slips in order, albeit tardily?

Ya Ain’t Gonna Succeed When The Other Lobsters Are Pulling Ya Down

Posted August 23, 2013 by Radha
Categories: Community, Gender, Transgender

For the past week or so I have been the stunned observer of something that 1) pisses me off, 2) astonishes me, 3) causes me to throw-up just a bit in the back of my mouth when I have seen it.

Perhaps it’s not been much noticed by others. A lot of you may have had neither the occasion nor the inclination to be observing what I have observed. That is just fine, after all there’s no reason for something like 99.007% of the populace to pay any attention at all. That 0.003% of the populace is an infinitesimal percentage of people to be affected by the events. Why should anyone feel some sort of deep obligation to be concerned about behaviors or words (insofar as words aren’t a behavior) that affect so few?

I suppose that there is no deep obligation and that one shouldn’t be very much concerned with such things. Unless, of course, one just happens to be transgender, transsexual, trans, trans* or among some other designation of gender non-conforming folks around the world.

Just like schizophrenia has a very firm floor and ceiling among the general population of the world, so does gender non-conformity. For schizophrenia the incidence is between 0.5% and 1% of population, regardless ethnicity, socio-economic cohort, climate, or any other situational reason one might think of. In the same fashion gender non-conformity occurs the world round, in every culture and climate, through every religious group, every ethnic group, every economic group (although one will hear more about caucasian, relatively wealthy females more often that one will hear from or about groups in the group.)

That last bit is likely due to the fact that that demographic is generally, not totally, but generally, best equipped to be able to spend the necessary amounts to “transition” quickly to the gender to which they were born, but couldn’t join with due to body incongruence.

Now, given such a small number of folks one might think that such a group of folks would try to 1) find allies for support and assistance and 2) develop a very tight-knit sense of solidarity with one’s brothers and sisters. One might expect such a group to understand that in a very small herd the culling of three or four could be devastating.

Yet, as I have observed trans groups over the past two-three days I have seen a rather curious spectacle. I have seen a vitriolic and highly toxic wave of poison gas directed toward the coming out of one Chelsea Manning. From the reactions of some one might imagine that they had been personally affected by the revelations that Ms. Manning released through Wikileaks sometime after November of 2009 and prior to May 2010 when she was arrested.

Over the past few days I have read women who have a history of transsexualism accuse Ms. Manning of being a traitor. That isn’t at all accurate for anyone who understands treason as a particular criminal charge with which the government never charged Ms. Manning. However, they did charge her with a few violations of the Espionage Act of 1918. That was a tool that used to facilitate the Palmer Red Raids in November 1919 and January 1920.

Those raids resulted in the detainment and deportation of 249 people, most prominently, Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman aboard “The Soviet Ark” (The U.S.S. Buford) on December 21, 1919. The deportees were anarchists, anti-war resistors and assorted radicals that the federal government wished to see out of the country. None were ever convicted in a court of law of any charge resulting in their deportations. They were merely immigrants who were never naturalized.

My, my how familiar this is all sounding. A lot of the same themes continue to froth to the surface throughout United States history: a hatred and exploitation of minority populations, the use of fever-dream accusations rather than evidence to convict people of emotion-laden charges, the use of dictatorial fiat rather than “the rule of law” or democratic election to decide matters of security and propriety.

One could, given the time, likely drawn a good many parallels between Emma Goldman and Chelsea Manning. But, that isn’t what I am aiming to accomplish here.

Instead, I’d like to iterate my cognizance that people of goodwill and placid dispositions can intelligently and logically disagree over the criminal or heroic nature of Chelsea Manning. Just because someone chooses to accept the government argument and be for her conviction on the espionage charges doesn’t make me think of them as “enemy.” In fact, I suppose that what I see as the wonder of it all is that practically any citizen can accept her innocence of the espionage charges in light of the deep indoctrination all of us have had in the great American propaganda machine that basically accepts whatever actions are taken by the government as being justified and divinely-inspired.

My gripe is with women and men who are in some fashion or may be thought of in some fashion as being, having been or possibly might become gender non-conforming and thereby enter into the general and amorphous designation of “transgender.”

Why have I read words in the past few days that proclaim that Chelsea Manning, alone of all her group, should not be granted required medical treatment for body dysphoria while imprisoned at Fort Leavenworth, KS? These thoughts emanate from people who have experienced the torture of having that self-same body dysmorphia. They know the frustration and anguish of trying to live a life that one knows from a place deep inside his or her soul that he or she is not meant to live. They know the release and relief provided even by the initial hormone treatment. Now, how could they, the knowledgeable, decide that this woman is to be tortured as well as imprisoned? How could they, of all human beings, take delight in the thought that she would spend as much as 33 more years in a hell that they have themselves been in before.

But, perhaps the cruelest cut of all is that having not yet exacted what they thought was a fair measure of second-hand revenge these same folks, mostly women, decided that they have every right to willfully mis-gender Chelsea in ways that I know some of them have been mis-gendered.

There’s nothing that hurts any more, verbally, that that mis-gendering. I suspect because each of us has the deep fear than regardless of transitioning that we shall not be accepted by others as our transitioned gender. To hold that breathless fear, sometimes for years, waiting for someone to drop that dreaded “he” or “she” is relentless torture, not lessened at all by the fact that it’s internal rather than external.

I find myself thinking of that story about how the lobsters keep pulling one another back into the bucket for later boiling as one nearly escapes she’s dragged back down by the claws of one beneath her.

I am ready, almost to name names, but then I wonder if that would do more good than harm. If putting a couple of so-called leaders, one a prominent tans attorney and another a prominent trans military service advocate, under scrutiny for their hate-filled actions and words is best for the vast majority of trans folk. Thus, I have decided to simply name their occupations. If you recognize their credentials then perhaps you can write them and tell them what you think of their behaviors.

Suffice it to say that for me they have relinquished any standing either had to be called “leader.” Instead they have shown themselves to be petulant and unthinking self-haters as they poured vitriol and the wish for torment on a sister.

As a community of people — We CANNOT DO THIS SHIT! So stop, repent and make amends. SOON, please.

Throwing Away My Vote

Posted January 11, 2012 by Radha
Categories: Authenticity, Barack Obama, Community, Parenting, Women, Women and Men, Writing, WTF!!, Yes

Tags: , , , , ,

“The wealthy, not only by private fraud but also by common laws, do every day pluck and snatch away from the people some part of their daily living. Therefore, when I consider and weigh in my mind these commonwealths which today do flourish, I perceive nothing but a certain conspiracy of rich men in procuring their own commodities under the name and authority of the commonwealth.

They invent and devise all means and crafts, first how to keep safely without fear of losing that which they have unjustly gathered together, and next how to hire and abuse the work and labor of the people for as little money and effort as possible.”

Thomas More, Utopia

We have two parties because at the beginning there were Republicans and Federalists. Each represented two different types of wealth: 1) agrarian 2) merchant/industrial.

That moved things along nicely until by 1826 and J.Q. Adams you had the son of the Federalist president being elected as a Republican with the competition from a couple of agrarians, Jackson and Clay.

Then the Democrats from the party of Jefferson for a term unopposed until the banksters of the time managed to invent the Whigs in opposition to King Andrew I and the agrarians.

Eventually the Whigs declined and the Republicans were reinvented as a party of banks, railroads, industry & merchants over against the Democrats who were still agrarians.

The heritage of two parties has been enthroned in USA as something that must be observed. Two choices must be all one gets. There are two parties as there are often two types of wealthy (historically) in USA that often clash. Until one gets subsumed into the other. Then one party temporarily disappears until the elites start battling yet again over what sorts of wealth to privilege.

Currently we have one of those periods where the parties merge and support the only privilege : pirate finance. Every other form of wealth takes third place and the “people” take very little indeed.

Actually the best hope seems to me to found and pick multiple political parties that divide the vote unmercifully. I’d like at least five and probably more like ten parties to exist viably and have anywhere from 20-120 Members of Congress each and the Senate to be divided with no party over about 25 votes, 5-10 parties.

I imagine that would be the perfect scenario for dividing and conquering the 1%. The more the merrier. The more chaotic and in need of coalition the legislative and executive and judiciary branches are divided the better off for those of us who haven’t much wealth at all.

Just look at the history. The turning point of the past century was when Eugene Debs, although jailed drew huge numbers of votes and that was crushed by the red raids and his own incarceration followed by the “prosperity” created by Wall Street to cover their own taking of the country.

The morons today are too greedy and vicious to even feel the need to hide their cupidity and crassness. Yet, one might ask, why should they? They have given the majority of the populace enough drugs and entertainments to mesmerize and anesthetize them and make them insensible of the loss of anything that may have once been termed “democratic” in the piratical and vampiric oligarchic culture of USA.

There exist alternatives to both Obama and whichever clown, seemingly Romney, manages to drive the Republican clown car to the 2012 general election. There are at least these alternatives: Stewart Alexander of the Socialist Party USA, Jill Stein of the Green Party USA and Ross “Rocky” Anderson of the Justice Party. There are alternatives.

Of course what I expect to hear is something like this that I have heard repeated ad infinitum since I was first eligible to vote back in 1972. “If you vote for someone not in the two legacy parties you’ll just throw away your vote.”

I’m not certain how that occurs. How I throw away my vote. For me to vote for Mitt Romney. Ron Paul or Rick Santorum or Barack Obama seems to me to cast my vote, quite literally before and to swine. I voted for Obama in 2008 thinking that nothing could be worse than Bush and the Republicans, only to come to reality sometime during 2010-2011 and see that something could be worse. What was worse was having an ostensible “progressive” push forward not only the practices of Bush-Cheney, but to carry many of those practices further than Bush-Cheney had pushed them.

It seems to me to cast a vote of any sort for any of the bought and paid for supporters of status quo is unacceptable. I also find it unacceptable to cast a vote for Ron Paul who may not be bought and paid for as yet. Why? Because Mr. Paul’s ideas about “liberty” will almost surely mean that he will make an end to civil rights legislation as he may be able and that he will tend to “even the playing field” by making those who have no power “compete” with the oligarchs who already have more power than they or their henchmen know how to use either effectively or for the benefit of anyone other than themselves.

Mr. Paul is a dangerous sort of creature. He’s a true believer in the nonsense of libertarianism which is, at base, a religious view that declares that with “freedom” in “markets” all good things come to exist in abundance. The credo of that religion sorely lacks a grounding in current reality, or any reality. It is a theologically premised politics that imagines purity and ideal as actually existent in the mucking about of legacy wealth, survival of the meanest and most ruthless, and a criminal syndicate in-charge of the country.

That religion never seems to see that it privileges those who are “already-have-more-than-enoughs;” and refuses to see that “markets” are never free but are front-loaded to favor those who control the “markets.”

Molly Ivins telling commentary about George W. Bush that “He was born on third base and thought he’s hit a triple” applies to most of who we term the 1%. I’d suggest that sending the inherited rich to the rooms in Den Hague where Milosevic and others have been tried would make a decent start to unraveling some global problems in order to effect solutions.

Libertarianism continues to promote such privilege and other forms as well, most particularly privileges that affect ethnicity, gender, wealth, countries of origin and various other privileged qualities that exist in USA.

Mr. Paul is positively against war against Iran and against the current monetary system, but he doesn’t seem to be against the military-industrial establishment. That being so, how would he propose to keep wars from occurring? Mr. Paul is short-sighted and doesn’t seem to imagine a world where the current shibboleths do not apply. His religious intensity is both amazing and somewhat frightening.

Thus, we should search out other options. For me to not do so is for me to concede that there are only the two choices that will be given me by the oligarchy. For me to vote for one of those two to “not throw my vote away” would be for me to throw my soul away and surrender meekly to the notion that there is nothing I can do.

Perhaps whichever candidate I chose to grant the privilege of having my vote this year will not win. But, I will also make bold to say that those who vote for either Obama or Romney will, for the most part, have cast their souls and their yearnings away. I’d rather “throw-away” my vote than “throw-away” my heart and soul.

Community When We’re Safe; Alienation When We’re Fearful

Posted December 22, 2011 by Radha
Categories: Community, Connection, Fear, Transsexuals

Tags: , , , ,

 

 

Each must for himself alone decide what is right and what is wrong, and which course is patriotic and which isn’t. You cannot shirk this and be a man. To decide against your convictions is to be an unqualified and inexcusable traitor, both to yourself and to your country, let man label you as they may.
                               — Mark Twain

 

I became involved with a rather interesting conversation yesterday on the web. The conversation was among TLBG folk or at least folks who didn’t mind being on a bulletin board with TLBG folk.

I noticed as I read that what might have been a wide open discussion sort of turned into a very closed discussion that obeyed the rules of limits with an almost enforced quality.

As usual, I tossed a few Molotov cocktails, having my own difficulties (as some of you know and others of you know quite well) in coloring within the prescribed lines when it comes to USA, USA society and whatever passes here for culture. We have a kind of casserole culture in USA, USA and it seems to be ruled to a great extent by fear of the imperial storm troopers we refuse to acknowledge exist.

Such lack of acknowledgement in words but strict acknowledgement in actions and speech seems to be a part, most especially, among minority groups in the Empire. The smaller the minority the more acutely aware it seems to be as a group of being able to “Tawk thuh raiht whay, Jeb.”

The topic that was both so very heated and at the same time so very demure was this: “Hey peeps. Any thoughts on the Bradley Manning case’s trans element?

Seems simple enough, eh? Apparently, it wasn’t, but more on that later. For now let me provide a small background for those of you who are unaware. Pfc, Bradley Manning was a USA USA soldier stationed in Kuwait and stateside during her term of service and prior to being brigged at Quantico, Ft. Leavenworth and, now, Ft. Meade, Md., for her trial.

The takes on the so-called “trans-defense” appear to revolve around a rather common tactic generally called something like “gay panic” “trans panic” or the “twinkie” defense, Basically the defense will argue that some outside force “made” the defendant perform the act under prosecution.

Aside: Warning!! Just to reveal my inclinations at start: I think Pfc. Manning is a heroine and should be released, feted and allowed surgery if that’s what she wants as a reward for possibly single-handedly ending the farce known as Iraqi Liberation this month. USA, USA lost thousands of military and civilian persons, and Iraq lost tens of thousands of its citizenry in this disgraceful imperial escapade. All in a bid to reap the wealthiest and easiest to reach oil field left in the world for Halliburton, Exxon-Mobil and other USA, USA corporate interests. (Among those would be the investment interests of former Veep, Dick Cheney and other administration officials of Bush II who profited, or felt that they would profit, from said invasion and occupation.

That conversation gave me some causes for concern.  For, when I involved myself in it I read things such as these.

Finally, it should be pointed out that past history shows that traitors come in all varieties of races, religions, sexes, ethnicities, educational and socio-economic levels.” “I also think this is going to hurt us.” “I have to admit that I’m somewhat skeptical about the legitimacy of Manning’s claim of GID.” “I still think he’s a traitor and people have died because of his actions. I’d rather he wasn’t associated.” “Bradley Manning’s gender identity or sexual orientation has nothing to do with the case. They’re using it in as a form of trans panic.” And “Manning’s deplorable defense strategy of exploiting false stereotypes of trans and especially transsexual people brings a teachable moment and an opportunity to point out that gender identities and expressions that differ from birth sex are not mental pathologies.”

 Now, I was born and raised in the American South. I’m pretty well aware of the unthinking patriotism (see Dr. Johnson on patriotism and scoundrels) and gung-ho homer-ism of vast tracts of USA, USA populace. So most of the comments didn’t really singe my bangs. But, those last two came from 1) a friend who surprised me with hir decision that GID had nothing to do with the case and 2) from an activist, who, as you may be able to tell from the quote has done grand work trying to de-pathologize trans lives in terms of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Illnesses, V, to be released in future by the American (perhaps USA, USA as they have a number of members in the pay of the government and large corporations that own the government) Psychiatric Association (APA.)

Personally I’d have expected a more wait and see response to both of these folks. Alas, that was not to be, although the second has written me since in a personal letter to correct her notion that she already knew what the defense strategy was going to be, having read it. I continue to admire her, now I shall add her ability to admit she was wrong to the list of her positive qualities.

She was gracious enough to admit both publicly and privately that she had, indeed, jumped to a conclusion.

Which, of course, was my argument all along.

What I thought I was seeing in the thread was the reaction of members in a small and embattled minority strive gallantly to distance themselves from what they expect to be yet another waxing from the professional bigots at American Family Association (AFA,) Americans For Truth About Homosexuality (AFTAH,) Focus On The Family (FOTF) and other right-wing, evangelical, pogram-propagating organizations around USA, USA.

It’s not like there’s no substance to the fears. All of the above and lo, many others as well, have again and again heaped abuse and worse on women and men who have transsexual or transgender conditions in their immediate lives or in their past lives. Even purported allies in TLBG circles like Barney Frank and Cathy Brennan have at best been hateful and dismissive. 

For those other, non-TLBG, folk we are abominations and some of the evilest of the evil. When you’re less than 1% of the population there may be some cause for fear at hatred directed at the group.

 But, back to the intrusion of other transsexual and transgender folk into the defense and life of Pfc. Breanna Manning. (I use that name because of the following excerpt from the chat logs of  Manning and Adrian Lamo.) “ I wouldn’t mind going to prison for the rest of my life, or being executed so much, if it wasn’t for the possibility of having pictures of me… plastered all over the world press… as boy…” 

Breanna, on this blog you will be referred to as who you are. Be aware commenters.  

Thus, seems to me that the defense may well be trying to run a defense that revolves around the fact that Pfc. Manning was under a good deal of stress and that her reactions to that stress were of the sort that may well have caused a reasonable person to believe that she was perhaps medically and psychologically unfit for duty at the top secret codeword shop in which she was employed.

No “twinkies” there at all. Instead a rather usual practice that the military has used for decades if not centuries in persecuting and prosecuting soldiers under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. To wit, when we need your expertise and/or your body because we are desperate for them, we will hardly deign to prosecute you or relieve you of your duties. On the other hand, when it’s convenient, we will use this against you when we realize we no longer require your services and that we need to cover our on asses.

Breanna Manning will not reap the accolades I suggest that she should gather from all of us for hastening the departure of the Imperial Army from Iraq. I find it too bad, in fact, that someone else doesn’t have her fortitude when it comes to stopping this insane Israeli-led Iran bashing and threatening that almost is surely leading to bombs in Iran shortly.

What she does deserve is better from her peers, those of us who have or will transsex because we can no longer manage successfully the noise in our brains and the pain of living our lives as someone not our self.

That is where I was much disappointed in my peers on that thread. They sounded so very much like the very people they fear. We cannot overcome prejudice, overcome the denigration of our selves by becoming the carbon copies of our oppressors. We must appeal to the better angels of their, and our, natures and most especially to a sister or brother.

As I said on the thread, following that first evangelical, Martin Luther, “Here I stand, I can do no other.” 


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