STRANGE BIRDS II
Note by Hunterbear [May 22, 2002]: I joined the unofficial DSA List -- ASDnet -- about a year ago. I have been a member of DSOC/DSA since the latter 1970s. Early on, several things became clear about ASDnet: It includes many good people -- but also several obviously right-wing "social democrats" whose attacks on those with whom they disagree are very often vitriolic and frequently ungrounded. A favorite epithet of these people is "Stalinist" or "Stalinism" -- used so frequently by them that it's lost virtually all specific meaning.
Among those who are especially prone to this sort of thing are Leo Casey and Bogdan Denitch. [Denitch has, for about 20 years, been the coordinator of the annual Socialist Scholars gathering in New York City.] Early on, I became a frequent target of the acute disfavor of these two -- and also of their colleague, Jim Chapin. Of course, I have consistently responded -- and, however civilly, with my usual candour. Pieces of these tortured ASDnet colloquies [if they can even be so distinguished] are found on this website, especially at Strange Birds [immediately preceding this page, at Link http://www.hunterbear.org/strange_birds.htm
In addition to their apparent concern about my presumed "politics," these critics are troubled by the fact that I'm an American Indian -- and my ethnicity, for some very odd reason, very much upsets Bogdan Denitch. On 5/20/02, Denitch posted a broad, weird and vicious attack on me. This is my extensive response to that. In this, I also deal with the essentially hostile thrust by Ralph Suter, a more peripheral person.
Another characteristic of ASDnet, I should, is the silence of most -- not all -- but most of the more thoughtful people on it. This is, as I've noted on various occasions, somewhat reminiscent of the old "Silent South."
Here is my response to Denitch -- and a subsequent and bitter comment from him. That's followed by a clarifying note I felt obligated to make regarding an inaccurate post tossed on by Ralph Suter. All of these occurred on May 21, 2002.
Hunter Gray [Hunterbear]
MY RESPONSE TO BOGDAN DENITCH [MAY 21, 2002] HUNTERBEAR
A glance at Outlook Express shortly after 3:30 am
Mountain Time -- and the
frothy explosions by Bogdan Denitch [The Socialist Scholar] and Ralph Suter
[The Analyst Of Other People] -- does indicate that I've certainly gotten
down into some very tender nerve areas. For Bogdan, it's once again deeper
into a kind of bigotry -- and, for Ralph, apparently a psychological junket
of some sort.
You all make sweeping and garbled charges and pronouncements. And, if I
respond, citing -- reasonably enough -- a wealth of personal Real World
experience, then that becomes, as you all tag it, an "ego" thing on my part.
I may not have made much money, but I have accumulated many scars, a vast
amount of rich experience which I don't think you all have at all, and at
least some wisdom. I have no more patience, however, than I did when I was
I started to respond, for just a moment, in some great and passionate
detail. But, again, I'm a trapper [among all of my other feathers] -- which
means I can also spot traps. One of those is getting stuck in the same muck
one opposes. This is my wrap-up on this increasingly smelly affair.
For Ralph Suter and his strange complaints and charges, I have virtually
nothing to say -- other than that's precisely why I avoided Psych 101
discussions as a returning vet at the advanced age of 21 under the GI Bill.
Those sandbox things were a few years behind me by the time I passed on
joining those dorm discussions. If you want a "sensitivity circle," Ralph,
you'll have to travel on down the line. Adios.
And, Bogdan, since you've made specific references to the civil rights
struggle, let me say, that it's good -- really good -- that you, Up North,
were supportive of the Civil Rights Movement -- and that sort of support was
certainly very genuinely important [as it was, also, to all of the other
hard-fought struggles of intensity, such as those of the
California-and-environs farm workers.]
It would be interesting to a point to swap arrest stories with you, but I'm
not really into that for a number of reasons. For me, there've been many
arrests indeed over the years -- and all sorts of other legal actions and
experiences -- and they've been [with the exception of the usual youthful
recreational experiences, which have made me a better and more understanding father and an always more empathetic professor to wayward youth] all for very good causes. And some of those arrests were very painful, physically and otherwise -- especially in the Deep South -- and I really don't dwell on those.
Ever awaken suddenly in the middle of the night, smelling your own dank
blood of years and years past? How many ghosts have you had to live with?
Frankly, I did not see you anywhere in that overall Shooting War in Dixie
during the Bloody Sixties. Never ran into you in any of our nonviolent
demonstrations [big or small], jails and stockades, country roads with their
burning crosses. Never saw you in any strategy sessions -- or courts or
hospitals -- or funerals. Never even heard of you.
As to my politics, your problem -- and that of some others -- seems to me
that you come from a mostly-talking-and-that's-all political culture marked
by pervasive intellectualizing and rigidity and dogmatism and
knifespersonship [the result, most likely, of minimal bona fide grassroots
activism]. In that milieu, which makes the River of No Return look like a
pure and languid Southern lagoon, you become badly confused and upset when you can't quickly and neatly stereotype someone into one of your "little
boxes." And that's when you commence to frenetically throw darts, usually
garbling your "facts" very badly. Corrected, you all never apologize -- but
simply retreat and then move in again, with more emotional bull-shooting.
Hit and run. Some in that setting do Real Things -- and because of that,
they don't do the pathetically petty things you all do.
And that stereotyping obsession of yours may also get into other areas.
Your obvious and much reiterated concerns and implied fears [and those of a
few others] about my "ethnic identity" underscore what someone recently told
me off-list about you and a couple of your associates: "They don't like an
Indian who thinks -- but they probably don't know that's their problem."
Some weeks ago, Bogdan, I referred you [and, by extension, others] to what's
probably the closest thing to any personal political statement that I've
ever made: My long essay, "Reflections on Ralph Chaplin, the Wobblies, and
Organizing in the Save the World Business -- Then and Now." I made very
specific reference to its presence [as the lead essay] in that Summer 1986
issue of The Pacific Historian which is called "Voices of Western Labor."
The Pacific Historian, of course, is a very well established history
journal -- readily found in any mainline university library. That statement
of mine deals with all sorts of issues -- including some of the things that
seem to be of especial interest and worry to you [and, presumably, to your
friends as well.]
I never heard from you on this -- or from anyone else in your bitter little
camp -- and I can only assume that, despite your apparent concern about my "
politics" and related matters, you never did me the courtesy of even reading
my testament. If you and others who prattle endlessly about something
called "Stalinism," can't even bother to read my essay [which is hardly
Stalinism, to put it very, very mildly indeed!], why should I take the
trouble to even try to dialogue with you all?
A few days ago, I did pass along this "Stalinist" cliche/complex of yours et
al. to Roy Wortman, a senior historian at Kenyon College who has known me
over many, many years indeed. Roy, BTW, wrote, among other things, the
really excellent book, From Syndicalism to Trade Unionism: The IWW in
Ohio -- 1905 to 1950 [New York: Garland Press, 1985.] His immediate
comment back to me on that says it very well: "The Stalinist smear is so far
beyond the pale it is garbage."
He also recently wrote and published, in the Winter 2001 issue of Journal of
Indigenous Thought [Saskatchewan Indian Federated College, one of Canada's leading Native institutions] "I Consider Myself a Real Red:" The Social Thought of American Civil Rights Organizer John R. (Salter) Hunter Gray." Although
I've suggested that essay as well, you obviously never bothered to read
that -- but here's the Link once again:
Clara Pueblo], the editors of the Journal comment:
"Dr. Wortman's pieces, "Telling Their Own Stories, Building Their Own
Strength: Dr. Dave Warren on Framing and Imparting American Indian History"
and " 'I Consider Myself a Real Red' : The Social Thought of American Civil
Rights Organizer John (Salter) Hunter Gray" explore the work and lives of
two prominent Native Americans. Wortman in the two pieces engages in a
thoughtful dialogue with both Warren and Gray with neither being an
"informant" or an "object of research." Rather, the words and thoughts of
both are conveyed through the interviews which have been skillfully edited
by Wortman. Furthermore, the interviews are placed within a larger
interpretative framework with references to other contexts and situations
which amplify the words and contributions of both Warren and Gray."
Once again, also, I suggest that any interested people -- if there are any
at all left by this time -- look over my very large social justice website
doing things 'way back in the '50s and that I've kept right on doing things
to the very present moment. And I'll keep on -- always.
There's much in that website about the Southern Movement, for sure [ our
very bloody Jackson Movement, our bitter and very hard-fought multi-county
campaign in the Klan-infested Northeastern North Carolina Blackbelt, and
other Dixie wars], but there's also much about radical and militant and
democratic industrial unionism in the Southwest and beyond, years of
organizing in the extremely violent Chicago South/Southwest Side and Indian
social justice work on the Northside, battles in Rochester, all sorts of
Native rights campaigns, and much, much more. As I've mentioned, Civil
Rights Movement Veterans has a substantial bio of me [and many others
In addition, I did produce a quite well received book: Jackson,
Mississippi: An American Chronicle of Struggle and Schism -- and the 1987
Krieger paperback version isn't hard at all to come by. There's a little
about that on my website at http://www.hunterbear.org/jackson.htm
This ends this particular topic for me in the ASDnet context. If you all
want to keep on with it -- maneuvering in and out, hitting and running --
that's certainly your affair. Apparently, that is your primary world.
Hereabouts, we've been getting a sharp increase in what can only be termed
"hate calls" to our home -- and there've been some other suggestively
hostile things. I've recleaned a .357 lever action carbine and checked out
its action/flow with seven cartridges. I doubt that anything tangible comes
from this hate stuff but one really never does know. In addition to myself,
I have five other family members here for whom I'm responsible. All of that
is, of course, a very high priority.
We are getting some cold rain -- and that's certainly a good thing that's
Hunter Gray [Hunterbear]
Hunter Gray [ Hunterbear ]
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BOGDAN DENITCH'S RESPONSE [MAY 21, 2002]
I do not know where you find the nerve to call me a
biggot. And, Hunter, I am
willing to guess that you knew Jim Farmer and Bayard Rustin and the early CORE leaders far less well than I did, certainly for less time. For that matter I
suspect fewer people had heard of you than of me in the civil rights movement but all that is irrelevant, the real problem is you refuse to DISCUSS politics
and always move into autobiogaphy and your own ethnic identity, which frankly is a bore to most people
[Minor note by Hunterbear: I never even met
Bayard Rustin. But, as I've said, I did know James Farmer. Floyd McKissick of
North Carolina, Chairman of CORE and later its Director, was a close friend of mine for
many years until his death.]
MY BRIEF RESPONSE TO INACCURACIES BY RALPH SUTER [HUNTERBEAR, MAY 21, 2002]
Without any further entanglement in this quirky and
bizarre morass, let me
simply correct a point just alleged by the consistently-alleging Ralph
Suter. I have stated that I "avoided Psych 101 discussions" with reference
to university dorm colloquies. I have not only had the course as a student
but -- on the basis of my quite considerable graduate degree work in
sociology and related academic dimensions -- was licensed by the State of
Washington to teach Psych 101 under the aegis of Seattle Community College
in late 1967-68, when I was picking up some extra bucks along the Movement
trail right after we left the South. And I indeed taught it successfully a
And how could I, with a life-long interest in parapsychology and a long-time
member [since the early 1960s] of the very staid American Society for
Psychical Research [headed for many years by Professor Gardner Murphy,
Director of Research at Menningers and President of the American
Psychological Association], ever trash the field of Psych? Further, as I
noted once or twice here, our family is very personally indebted to
Professor William James of Harvard, the basic founder of psychology in the
U.S. -- who befriended my Native father, a child, and who, prior to his
[James] death in 1910 at Chocorua, specifically set aside funds which, many
years later through James' children, greatly assisted my father [ who had no
high school work] in securing his B.A at the Chicago Art Institute. This
launched Dad's successful career as artist and professor.
Hunter Gray [ Hunterbear ]
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