RACISM AND ITS POISONOUS KIN [CONTEMPORARY SITUATION]  HUNTER GRAY  JULY 28 2002

FUSSING AND FUMING ABOUT RELIGION [THINGS SEEN, UNSEEN] -- AND RADICALS, TOO [HUNTER GRAY JULY 18 2002]

 

RACISM AND ITS POISONOUS KIN [CONTEMPORARY SITUATION]  HUNTER GRAY  JULY 28 2002

Note by Hunterbear:  7/27/02

I don't think we can ever afford to be at all sanguine about the survival
and resurgence abilities of racism and all of the related anti-people isms.
The proverbial rattlesnake who, shot innumerable times, still twists and
spits "until the sun goes down," is an easy adversary with which to do
away  -- compared to Human Hate. I should add that I certainly see "White
Nationalism" -- given its very long and very deep racist legacy -- as
inherently racist to the core.

And, very fundamentally, given the increasingly turbulent and precarious
state of the economy [e..g., mounting unemployment] and all of this in the
context of continuing spontaneous and manufactured fear and hysteria
vis-a-vis the 9/11 tragedy and its related dimensions -- racism and all its
poisonous kin are living very well indeed.

Normally I don't re-run a post, or even part of it,  only a few days later,
in the same setting.  But this -- a portion of my recent post on the death
of the infamous National Alliance leader, William Pierce --  is certainly
salient to the White nationalism discussion. And, following this excerpt, I
do say more.

=============================

From Hunter Gray [Hunterbear] 7/23/02

The old Southern Klans developed and functioned [and a few survivors still
do] in the context of  the traditionally closed South and its open,
widespread poverty  -- with the poverty-stricken poor Whites being cunningly
and consistently manipulated in anti-union and racist schemes by the
economic Big Mules, the "Captains." The primary basis for the old Klans
was/is economic.

These far more complex and increasingly sophisticated   contemporary hate
organizations [again, National Alliance, the Nationalist Movement, Aryan
Nations, The Order, Identity Church, modern Klan, skinheads, etc. et al. ]
reflect in virulent fashion -- via their own incredibly sick and twisted
perspective -- the great maelstrom of forces in which modern Humanity is
enmeshed.

But, when you cut down -- through it all -- right to their ultra-poisonous
bone, you find, again, the same very basic components:  racism,
anti-Semitism, and the other anti-people isms. And you find violence.  And
you also find, as the ultimate foundational component, very substantial
economic fears and insecurities.

While all of these pose substantial threats and dangers, the one category
now most open to racist/violent recruitment -- and this has been true for at
least this past generation -- has been economically precarious, disaffected
and alienated White youth:  Racist skinhead material.  And, again, this very
much goes back to economic fear and great insecurity and, certainly in this
present era, deepening economic recession and rapidly mounting unemployment.

Approaches?  Widespread exposure and multi-faceted education  -- certainly.
Arrest and prosecution for hate crimes -- for sure.  But, far more
basically, racially and ethnically integrated grassroots socio/economic
justice and advocacy organizations,  militant and pervasive unionization, widespread
public works programs and other shorter-term approaches -- and, most
fundamentally of all, a socialist society organized  to ensure a full
measure of bread and butter and a full measure of respect and liberty for
every human, everywhere.


=========================================================
Hunterbear - 7/27/02


Racism -- and the other anti-people isms -- wear many faces indeed and use
increasingly cunning lingo.  Not all racists and other haters are going to
identify themselves -- or even think of themselves -- as "White
nationalists"  [or whatever] and vice-versa. But they can all still be
venomously destructive as hell -- and this can certainly include many White
workingclass people.  I'm directly aware of organized Anglo anti-Mexican
racist outfits operating on the Southern Arizona border -- and these are
growing.  National Alliance is finding some converts here in Idaho. Anti-gay
violence is, in much of America, always but one very thin remove away.  As I
indicated specifically in the quote from my earlier post, I see economically
precarious, disaffected and alienated White youth -- i.e., racist
skinheads -- as not only having been a major and on-going problem for at
least the last generation -- but very much continuing to be a very real
threat well into the foreseeable future.

And that's how I see racism and its poisonous kin:  a very real, on-going
tangible danger for a long, long time to come.  Someday, We Shall Indeed
Overcome -- but it's a long, tough struggle.  It'll be even longer if we
don't hit the Adversary hard, again and again and again --  and  well
beyond. And dig deeply, very deeply -- and in curative and preventative
fashion -- into Its morass of economic and collateral roots.

Fraternally -

Hunter Gray  [Hunterbear]
www.hunterbear.org (strawberry socialism)
Protected by Na´shdo´i´ba´i´



FUSSING AND FUMING ABOUT RELIGION [THINGS SEEN, UNSEEN] -- AND RADICALS, TOO [HUNTER GRAY JULY 18 2002]

 

First, let me do a Confession.  It's about something I am -- a thing I
haven't yet admitted on any of these Discussion Lists -- and it involves a
formal Membership Card.

Oh, oh! some might think.  He's finally getting ready to admit --
 finally -- something really [Politically Exotic.]  We always knew it!  The
Secret Agenda.

No, not That at all,  I'm a Minister, an Ordained Clergyman.  Have a card
credential to prove it.

Now, to some, that's far heavier -- negatively -- than politics could ever
be.  But quickly, I say, Whoa!  Steady. Not quite!  Wait until the end of
this little piece before you draw any final conclusions on that one.

There's a lot of fracas these days on the Left discussion groups about
Religion.  And this certainly speaks loudly and  vitriolically to its great
endurance and proliferation.  I, of course, hold no brief whatsoever for
anything that's anti-people in any sense and that certainly includes the
Christian Right.  But there's a lot more to Religion than its poisonous
bigots of many flags and names.

One of the Stars that generally drops from one's eyes early in life is that
which presumes that human beings are mostly rational most of the time.  That
one -- possibly in part because of my modicum of objective insight into
myself -- went very early for me.  [I have resolutely retained the
conviction, however, that most people are basically good most of the time.]
So I'm never too surprised at the roiling and boiling of Humanity's tangents
on anything.  Not anymore.

When I go to most of the on-line discussion groups on which I'm presently
residing, Holy Wars are often burning fast and furiously -- like forest
fires in the summer pines of the Mountain West.  Given the fact that most of
the folks on these lists -- not all, not me --  seem to consider themselves
atheists or at least agnostics, this flaming fervor is intriguing.
Sometimes, admittedly, it stems from Real Issues -- the tragically
sanguinary dichotomies of the Middle East and the increasingly global
resurrection of the Crusades. But much of the List shooting is far from the
centrality of those struggles which swim in the rivers of economic
determinism, directed by the skeletal hands of  their Boatmen of History.

High Noon list fighting around Religion [like some of the other list
passions] frequently strikes me as being a kind of combative therapy in
arenas where the high winds of multi-faceted Passion take frustrations
stemming from every other  conceivable facet of the life of individual and
collective Humanity -- and alchemically carry them into the Realm of
Religion where the Wars can be pursued with comfortable piety and
sanctimoniousness.

To cite a hardly uncommon  example of  pragmatic transference:  this from
the edges of my own extended family:  A young couple's marriage plunged into
heavy trouble -- and any objective eye could see mountainous financial
difficulties as a great big piece of the situational headwaters.  But that
was rarely mentioned by the protagonists who, when they earnestly explained
their particular positions to their respective family members, put it all
very piously into the religious context:  he, a Catholic and she a Mormon,
just couldn't -- they said -- make it work -- for those reasons.  The
marriage collapsed in a red-hot crucible of religious crown fires  -- near,
as a matter of fact, the quite recently forest fire-threatened Showlow,
Arizona.

My life-long view on all of this Religion thing is pretty much live and let
live.   Even as a sometime fist-fighting kid, I never threw a punch for
Theology.  And I am, in my own way, a Believer.  Our Catholicism [which has
never embraced the Anglo concept of Hell and is very, very casual about
Confession] comes from my father's side -- where the legacy of Ignatius of
Loyola and the Jesuits mixed with the Native religions.  Mother's thing was
High-Church Episcopalianism [Anglicanism] which, increasingly, seemed to
function on a Big Broad Tent basis. [We never took the differential nuances
all that seriously and sometimes the main canyon between the respective
Church officialdoms seemed to me as a kid that our Catholic clergy drank
whiskey and the Episcopal priests did sherry.]

And, most fundamentally,  I grew up very much in a very strongly and always
enduring and vitally influencing Navajo setting -- and also with close ties
to  Laguna Pueblo and, too, with Hopi relationships.  A good Anglo buddy of
mine was Mormon and, at 15, I served as pall-bearer at his mother's
funeral -- much impressed with the moving and tremendously supportive
simplicity of the people and the ceremony.  My Finnish/Saami/Norwegian wife,
Eldri, has a Lutheran background.

Almost all of the inherently radical metal miners, millmen, smeltermen and
ore refinery workers of  my native Mountain West were [and are] essentially
religious: a great many are Catholic, others often Mormon --  and all of
this frequently in the context of an essentially Wobbly view of Solidarity,
the Struggle, the Bosses, and the Future.

And privileged by History to be  deeply involved for six  years in the
Southern Movement [1961-67], I certainly saw there the very positive role
that religion played in sparking and fueling that Great Wave -- as we
traveled through the very pits of Hell. Picture this: the hordes of
"lawmen" --  with their guns and clubs and dogs -- are outside the church in
which your mass march is taking shape, and you know what awaits you at their
hands [both in the street and in jail as well.] The words from We Shall
Overcome -- "God is on our side" and "We are not afraid" -- carry some very
real meaning as you get ready to have your head and hide cut open.

And I saw, too, in the Deep South especially, the twisted uses to which
Religion could be put -- say, in the service of a hideously exploitative
economic power structure wearing the blood-spattered clothing of States'
Rights and Racial Integrity.  And, again, that for sure is the kind of
anti-people thing where my circle of religious tolerance stops far, far
short.

Speaking now as a practical life-long Organizer, I definitely do indeed
think that religion -- or the lack of it -- is up to the individual.  And I
certainly say emphatically that any really working organizer seeking to get
grassroots people together, develop on-going and democratic local
leadership, deal effectively with grievances and individual/family concerns,
achieve basic organizational goals and develop new ones -- and build a sense
of the New World To Be Over The Mountains Yonder and how all of this relates
to shorter-term steps -- can hardly afford, whatever the organizer's
particular stand on religion may be,
to become involved in his constituents' views on religion.

If you aren't really tolerant, I strongly suggest acting so.  Read William
James on Pragmatism.

And, remember, of course, that Jesus Christ [Jerusalem Slim] was, however
divinely or otherwise one sees Him, a truly great Peoples' Agitator whose
physical fate concluded , as the indefatigable Woody Guthrie described it,
when "they laid poor Jesus in his grave."

And when Father Thomas J. Hagerty, the revolver-packing priest of the
Western Federation of Miners [he could hit two silver dollars, tossed high,
with his .45 Colt], wrote out the preamble of the embryonic Industrial
Workers of the World in 1905,  his great creation -- however inspired --
started off, of course, with "The working class and the employing class have
nothing in common."  For my part, I read that preamble decades later when I
was a teenager and, shortly thereafter, lots of material indeed on radical
labor and socialism.  To me, at least, it all goes together, along with the
foundational dimensions -- the sensible "tribal responsibility" balance
between group and individual -- of my Native tribalism. And hopefully, this
will all add up to a socialism where all people are genuinely free in all
respects and where their choices are many indeed.

Lots of fine figures of all sorts of religious persuasions throughout the
history of Humanity.

So,  how about me?

How did I become an ordained clergyman?  Let me tell you:

Some years ago, when, in a remote corner of vast Navajoland, I went to our
little post office with the syncretic and multi-cultural address of Tsaile
[Saylee], Navajo Nation, Arizona 86556, a stunning little surprise awaited.
There, in our box -- 711 -- I found a package slip which I took to our
postmaster, Lorenzo -- a traditional Navajo who was also a Catholic and who
occasionally saw me at Mass at Chinle [Chinlee], 35 miles south.  As he
handed me a large, brown packet, he looked uncharacteristically puzzled.  I
saw the address:  my then name with something else. And it was all "The
Reverend John R. Salter, Jr."

Lorenzo and I stared at each other for a very long moment.

"I don't know what this is, Lorenzo," said I.  As I looked at him, it would
have been purely cruel to have walked away with the mysterious thing still
packaged.  "I think maybe I'll open it right now, right here" I went on.

He nodded -- much, much more visibly than usual.  "Let's" he said.

And when I got it opened, I found a card that formally proclaimed me a
certified and life-long "Ordained Minister" -- duly authorized to perform
"weddings and funerals."  It was in the Mother Earth Church.  A letter
explained my rights and responsibilities in some impressive detail.  Most of
the package, however, was a catalogue which sold various Churchly items.
And there was also a list of Titles -- and Prices. Ordained Minister cost
five bucks, Bishop fifteen, Archbishop was twenty.

"This is a joke, Lorenzo," I said.  "And it has to be B______."  B was a
young free-spirit Anglo faculty member in our Social Sciences Division at
Navajo Community College [now Dine' College], of which I was the very
easy-going Chair.  "Only B would do this."

Lorenzo grinned.  "It has to be B," said he.  "No one else around here."

And it was.  I was really touched that B  spent five bucks getting me
Certified for Life.

I still have the card.  And, sometimes, when friends and family members are
getting ready to wed, I do offer to do it for them -- quickly, easily, in a
living-room, no fee whatsoever.  No fuss, no muss.

And no takers either.

In the Red Faith -

Hunter Gray [Hunterbear]


Hunter Gray  [Hunterbear]
www.hunterbear.org (strawberry socialism)
Protected by Na´shdo´i´ba´i´

PREVIOUS

INDEX

CONTINUE