mamculuna: (Default)
( Oct. 20th, 2005 09:24 am)
Darfur. It's not an act of nature like a hurricane or an earthquake. It's evil done by humans. It can be stopped.

I heard an interview on NPR yesterday saying that grassroots calling campaigns have been and can continue to be effective in getting the US government to move toward strengthening the African Union and ultimately bringing an end to the genocide. I'm putting a message from Darfur behind the cut, in case any of you in the US would be interested in making a call or sending an email. I called one of my senators and my representative, and it was sadly interesting that their offices didn't seem to know what I was talking about at first--had to ask several people in each office and no one could even tell me the politican's position on the Act. They should know.

Call for Darfur )
mamculuna: (Default)
( Sep. 9th, 2005 09:19 pm)
These are the times that try our souls. And here on LJ, there's plenty of trying going on.

I tend to go roaming around and friending a variety of people for my own obscure reasons, forgetting that when I post, I'm inviting you all to a party and not introducing you. So from time to time, things get a little snippy.

I'm beginning to realize I set the stage for these mis-meetings by raising political questions in a political time, and for that, I'm sorry. I wish everyone I like would like each other, but I know that's not going to happen.

If I could make rules of conduct for my LJ, it wouldn't be LJ. So let this stand as a warning: here you will hear things you might not want to hear (maybe not from me directly, but from someone. I guarantee it.)
mamculuna: (Default)
( Sep. 9th, 2005 02:38 pm)
Driving home yesterday, I had three hours of NPR news and talk, which often is just idly interesting but yesterday, focusing on what went wrong in Katrina, made me so upset I almost had to stop driving. I couldn't take notes so don't know who exactly said this, but some Republicans apparently consider FEMA to be "another over-funded entitlement program."

I have to wonder at this point how people who voted for Bush are reacting. Do they now realize that all that anti-tax, pro-business rhetoric has a human cost? I hope that most people, in whatever country, really care about other people and are willing to sacrifice a small amount of luxury to prevent hideous suffering and loss of life, but that what happens in other countries is so far away that it seems unreal. Maybe the vision of thousands of our own citizens living in that hell will seem real enough to make us re-think the self-centered philosophy that's driven the elections since 1994. Maybe we'll recall why the New Deal was worth passing and the revolutions worth fighting.

Or maybe not.

Two clips worth seeing:

Jon Stewart reviews the week with Bush--

and more seriously but just as damning--
mamculuna: (Default)
( Feb. 16th, 2005 11:25 pm)
This continues my tale from my last post, about getting escorted off the military base.

First, the event was a career fair, put on by the inner-city school district. 8th graders were bussed to the military base, where people representing different careers sat at tables--except for the military recruiters who wandered among the kids, chatting them up.

Second, the military have not been making their recruitment goals (wonder why) and are really pushing hard. We have had some activities lately publicizing the fact that students don't have to give their names to military recruiters.

Third, our organization had been completely upfront with the school district about who we are (Peace Resources--that's the letter head) and what we'd be doing.

Here's the description from the people who were there initially:

"We had arranged weeks in advance to participate in the
Career Quest as Peace Resource volunteers; all my correspondence with the
organizers identified me as the Peace Resource career fair liaison. I don't think anyone could have anticipated that we would be banned from participating
because we wore shirts that said 'Peace is Patriotic' at a public school
function.In fact, early on [we] were interrogated about our
purpose and our handouts by an extremely belligerent man who was more
interested in his questions than in any kind of communication. Among
handouts on Outward Bound and other nonprofits and peaceful careers, we
offered handouts containing questions students should ask recruiters
before making a decision about enlisting. They were not anti-military.
The 'shoving' incident actually constituted one of us lifting up a
belligerent official's name tag in order to identify him.
We were told, 'This is a military base; if you want to talk about peace, go to the church.'"

The article in the paper quoted a school district official as saying she "had no idea of what kind of group this was or what literature they'd be distributing." That is obviously false, but we figure that it is CYA.

Now what? Well, to me at least, the goal is to reach the kids and be sure they know all the options. Maybe it won't be very effective, but right now it's the best thing we can think of. It seems to me it would be best for us not to respond although the article was misleading. The more negative publicity we get on this topic, the harder it will be to get to the students. We don't need to deal with the military directly on this--most of the time we need to work with the schools. So I feel that it's best not to respond to the article or the harassment. But perhaps we need to file a complaint to cover ourselves legally.
Well, today I set out to join a group from our local peace resource center. We've been setting up to work on counter-recruitment--letting kids know that they don't have to give their names to military recruiters, and that they have other options. We were going to have a table at a career fair for 8th graders, and were going to tell them about things like grants for college, service organizations like American Friends Service Committee, etc. And we were planning to wear our group's T shirts, which say "Peace is Patriotic" on the front and have the group name on the back.

The fair was for the public schools, but was being held at a community center at the local army base. (I must admit I was wondering if this would all work out. I've worked with the group for a long time, and they are sensible but forthright, but did not know this particular committee or the people organizing the event because they meet on a night when I have another commitment.)

The event started at 10 and my shift was going to be 12-2. I got in the gate with no trouble--they had our names listed by the event organizers and so let us through. But when I got to the center, I was told that our group had been asked to leave. So I started to leave. The MP's stopped me, took my ID, made me wait while they wrote down all my ID info, and escorted me off base, keeping my driver's license until I was off the base. I asked why and they said that it was because I had on the shirt. I told them I was leaving but had not been told I should not wear the shirt. They were reasonably polite except for one who rather belligerently asked me if I had told them I was from the peace organization when I arranged to come out. I said I hadn't made the arrangements and didn't know.

A woman from the Career Focus,evidently, also came out and was apologetic, in a way, but said the literature had been inappropriate, that someone had shoved a security person, and that they hadn't known we'd be distributing anti-military handouts and wearing the T shirts. She said she "had problems with how the incident was handled on both sides."

I'd like very much to know what the real story was, and what to expect they'll do with the information they took down from me. I haven't been able to talk to the other people who were there when whatever it was happened, but I'll bet there's more to it. Stay tuned.
mamculuna: (Default)
( Jan. 19th, 2005 04:19 pm)
I can tell that posting on this topic again may be inviting hostility from those who disagree, but I'm hoping for rational discussion. I'm confused about why people are so angry about this--wonder if I'm missing something about who's promoting it or something.

Why the Inauguration Day boycott, Not One Damn Dime? Well, of course it's not going to stop the corporations from rolling in their usual megaprofits, and of course the Shrub is not going to say, Oh, Gee, Mamcu's not shopping today, better get out of Iraq. Of course this is not the only action people should take.

Given that, why do it? And for that matter, why have marches and rallies and demonstrations? I'm sure Condy Rice won't shake in her boots at the thought of me taking to the streets with a sign (no sticks, of course). To me at least, the purposes of these little demonstrations are several:

1. To build community among those who share ideas. Anything we do as a group makes us feel more a part of that group or cause. Of course, if you think groups and causes are wrong, then I can see why this reason doesn't appeal.

2. To make people mindful of their own behavior. I think most boycotts work like this. I don't shop Walmart. Not ever. I know that other stores are bad, too, but Walmart is just over the top in the way they treat employees, communities, etc. So each time I choose to pay a few pennies more for a dish towel, I think about the choice. It may not matter to Walmart whether I live or die, but it's important to me that I keep in mind what's happening with my choices. So I spend a little more to get gas from Venezuela or coffee from the good guys.

3. To communicate to others about the consequences of choice. If we don't go to lunch with friends on Jan. 20, we'll need to explain why. Opens up dialogue.

4. Power of numbers, after all. If enough people do something, anything, it gets noticed. It does send a message. Maybe this particular thing will be too small to matter, but maybe not. Maybe all the marches, letters, boycotts, etc. eventually get numerous enough and big enough that someone finally pays attention. If not, nothing lost--or again, am I missing something?

So I can see why you might disagree or think it's not worth the trouble, but does it really do harm?
MLK is certainly the one historical figure who also had a significance personal impact on me, directly. In 1968 I sat on the steps of Sproul Plaza, listening to him as he stood 50 feet away denouncing the imperialism of the time. Today I was up early, handing out leaflets at a King Day rally for our local Peace Resource Center (la plus ca change...) Many of the young black folks there stopped at our display of pictures of the first 1000 American soldiers to die in Iraq, and we urged them to find some other way to get the things they want from life. The sorrow in their eyes as they looked at the images of the dead brought tears to my own eyes. Here's an excerpt from the leaflet we gave them--see what it says if you subsitute "Iraq" for "Vietnam."

I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube. So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such.

Perhaps the more tragic recognition of reality took place when it became clear to me that the war was doing far more than devastating the hopes of the poor at home. It was sending their sons and their brothers and their husbands to fight and to die in extraordinarily high proportions relative to the rest of the population. We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them eight thousand miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in southwest Georgia and East Harlem….I could not be silent in the face of such cruel manipulation of the poor.

I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today -- my own government….The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit, and if we ignore this sobering reality we will find ourselves…marching and attending rallies without end unless there is a significant and profound change in American life and policy.

[W]e as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a "thing-oriented" society to a "person-oriented" society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies….A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

This from "Beyond Vietnam." Read the whole thing at:
mamculuna: (Default)
( Oct. 28th, 2004 12:00 pm)
Read this if you haven't already:

I really want to praise Annie for her last point, that she will not stop saying what she thinks just because she's been visited by the Secret Service. I also want to say that having an FBI file since the sixties hasn't hurt my life much.

A friend of mine who lived through the Chinese Cultural Revolution said once that Mao and the Red Guards didn't need Gestapo and KBG to intimidate the people: they just got the people so paranoid they did their work for them. Freedom of thought and speech are killed by betrayal.

The worst result of this kind of thing, of course, is that we all become afraid to say what we think. We distrust each other and sit in the silence of our own fear.

So let me too say what I think, knowing that my list is open and anyone can report me if they like. That is the only way we can break fear.

George Bush is probably the worst president that has ever held office. He has lied, cheated, stolen, and cost the world many lives. He should be removed from office by impeachment if not by election, since he will probably rig the election no matter how the people vote. He--or should I say the people who tell him what to do or say--has no legitimacy and is guilty of treason, in my sight, for leading the country into war for the personal gains of a few.

As a Buddhist I am non-violent. But as an American I will say what I think wherever I feel it's appropriate and will never be quiet out of fear.

Speech for the Repeal of the McCarran Act

by Richard Wilbur

As Wulfstan said on another occasion,
The strong net bellies in the wind and the spider rides it out;
But history, that sure blunderer,
Ruins the unkempt web, however silver.

I am not speaking of rose windows
Shattered by bomb-shock; the leads touselled; the glass-grains broadcast;
If the rose be living at all
A gay gravel shall be pollen of churches.

Nor do I mean railway networks.
Torn-up tracks are no great trouble. As Wolfstan said,
It is oathbreach, faithbreach, lovebreach
Bring the invaders into the estuaries.

Shall one man drive before him ten
Unstrung from sea to sea? Let thought be free. I speak
Of the spirit's weaving, the neural
Web, the self-true mind, the trusty reflex.
mamculuna: (Default)
( Oct. 13th, 2004 10:01 am)
If you know anyone who's considering supporting Bush because they think he's right about Iraq, you could encourage them to read this:
mamculuna: (Default)
( Oct. 9th, 2004 07:29 pm)
Bush, from the debate last night:

"Another example would be the Dred Scott case, which is where judges,
years ago, said that the Constitution allowed slavery because of
personal property rights.

That's a personal opinion. That's not what the Constitution says. The
Constitution of the United States says we're all -- you know, it
doesn't say that. It doesn't speak to the equality of America.

And so, I would pick people that would be strict constructionists.
We've got plenty of lawmakers in Washington, D.C. Legislators make
law; judges interpret the Constitution."

Chief Justice Roger B. Taney (strict constructionist), from the majority opinion in Dred Scott v. Sandford:

"The change in public opinion and feeling in relation to the African
race, which has taken place since the adoption of the Constitution,
cannot change its construction and meaning, and it must be construed
and administered now according to its true meaning and intention when
it was formed and adopted....

....Upon the whole, therefore, it is the judgment of this court, that
it appears by the record before us that the plaintiff in error is not
a citizen of Missouri, in the sense in which that word is used in the
Constitution; and that the Circuit Court of the United States, for
that reason, had no jurisdiction in the case, and could give no
judgment in it. Its judgment for the defendant must, consequently, be
reversed, and a mandate issued, directing the suit to be dismissed for
want of jurisdiction."

The Constitution of the United States, article IV, section IV:

No person held to service or labor in one state, under the laws
thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or
regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor, but
shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such service or
labor may be due.
mamculuna: (Default)
( Sep. 25th, 2004 09:11 pm)
Just watched Stargate--the movie from 1997. Spoilers )
mamculuna: (Default)
( Sep. 23rd, 2004 02:58 pm)
I went back, for the first time since I retired, to my former college today, to take the woman who was my assistant to lunch. It was too familiar being there. I didn't feel relief at not having to stay, but I didn't feel longing to stay either. It was just a place I'd been a lot before. Well, maybe I was a bit glad not to have to stay.

Still waiting to hear when we travel to China. At this point it gets a bit irritating, since I have to put all other plans on hold. And if we had some advance time, we could get upgrades to first-class for the trip back, but those will all be sold by the time we get tickets, so we'll be in steerage, for 19 hours, with a baby who doesn't know us. Ugh.

Below are items unrelated to the above!

Poem xposted to [ profile] greatpoets

Last-Minute )

Back to the I Ching: The Army )
mamculuna: (Default)
( Sep. 11th, 2004 03:55 pm)
Working voter registration at Walmart (only reason I'd ever go there) as my 9/11 memorial. It's amazing how many people do not want to register. One woman said:"One crook out, another crook in--why bother?" Hard to argue...

And yet I still see this presidential election as being a referendum on the war and think maybe it might make a tiny difference. But they may be right.

It was interesting to see how many young black men did want to register. I guess they know who'll be fighting if the war goes on.

ETA: As we ate dinner on the deck with candles under the lush leaves, listening to the symphony of cicadas, tree frogs, crickets, and the helicopters flying over the nearby football game, I thought about the past. Forty years ago, I worked on registering black voters in SC. A very different experience. Everyone was afraid--the potential registrees, the people like me who went door to door to locate them, and the sworn-in registrar who followed us.

The neighborhoods we went in were visited only by white people if they wanted to rip off the inhabitants in some way--rent, burial insurance, debt collections, arrest warrants. It took a lot of courage for those folks just to talk to us. I remember one neighborhood just off a main thoroughfare that's US 1 through this city--it's down in a valley, with a creek that in those days probably doubled as open sewer. The house were wooden boxes set on stacks of cinderblocks, with no insulation or central heat, and barely having indoor plumbing. We all knew that there were plenty of people in the city and the state who would really do us harm if they knew what we were doing. And I could leave, but the people we registered were stuck here with whatever consequences came.

And yet with amazing dignity and bravery, they registered. And now my US Rep is black. And I can stand up in front of a busy store and casually ask person after person if they're registered, and there's no fear at all for any of us.

Just the problem of the vote not meaning anything, possibly.

Or else, maybe things get just a tiny bit better, sometimes. I hope.

Approach )
I wrote about my former college's censorship of the gay and lesbian literature course several days ago. There was also a very gloating and hate-filled letter sent out to many faculty and staff from the faculty sponsor of the student right-wing religious organization. One of the English faculty met with the VP in charge of business and legal matters to complain about this letter, and he was very supportive! Agreed that letter should not have been sent, that diversity and tolerance are good, and will reprimand the sender of the letter. Still waiting for meeting on even more serious curriculum issue, but sounds like the administration is not sympathetic to the worst of the yahoos, at least.

Abundance )
mamculuna: (Default)
( Aug. 29th, 2004 11:37 am)
Revolution )

I've been getting some email from some people in my old school. I knew they'd need to contact me sometimes about details of unfinished business, and that's fine--I tried to leave everything tied up, but know that's not possible. But this is different--it's a brand-new problem. The administration made a faculty member cancel a section of the minority lit course that had been publicized as focusing on gay and lesbian literature--not because of enrollment, but because of content.

This totally infuriates me on several levels: academic freedom, free speech, and of course the idea that it's fine to look at other minorities but not these. Having a gay son makes me identify with this a bit, too. Adding to the complexity for me is the fact that the instructor of the course is a guy that I'd really had some difficult dealings with in the past over completely unrelated issues, and in those cases had taken the side of the administration (still think I was right then).

I did help rewrite the petition to reinstate the course or offer it next semester, but have since decided that I'm no longer paid to get tied up in knots over what happens there. I'm able to ignore other things, even including the fall off in enrollment and possible cancellation of the program that was my baby, but find it more difficult with this one. Now is not the time, but I think eventually as a citizen and taxpayer I will find myself at least sending an email.

But another part of me says drop it completely, that's the old life. Forget it.
mamculuna: (Default)
( May. 26th, 2004 09:55 pm)
We just saw something on Fox News by Christian Exodus saying that they now intend to take over a state, and--SC looks like it! They want 12000 people to move in here and dominate the electorate.

I know that some of you whom I really respect are Christian, as are some of my dearest friends here, and as I was brought up. But I think what CE wants is theocracy. It's not good in Iran and it won't be good here.

I wouldn't be so paranoid, but the people who just moved in next door to my home (it's a lot pricier house than ours! and they bought a brand new car-BIG SUV!) are here to start up a mission for the Anglican Mission in America, the group that has caused a lot of grief (no gays, no women priests, etc) at the church where my parents are buried here at the beach.

As a Buddhist, I'm concerned.

As an SC person, I think [ profile] winegodeatsyou had it right--this state needs to be cut loose from the rest of you, ere contagion sets in.

To my Christian friends, please help me see if there's another way to look at this.
mamculuna: (Default)
( May. 1st, 2004 03:55 pm)
My yoga teacher usually directs us to dedicate our practice--ultimately to the whole world, that all may be content and free of suffering--but also specifically: to someone we respect, to someone in need(see many books on yoga and Buddhism for why this is a thing to do).

I chose at the beginning of class to dedicate my practice to the victims of torture in Iraq. It was a good class--I was really able to concentrate, find a steady core, as well as make progress with difficult (for me) poses. Many good friends in that class make it a really peaceful and joyful time.

By the final meditation, though, I realized I had turned to dedicating the practice to the soldiers who did the torture. They are the ones really in need of light.

Not saying this in the sense of wanting my own spiritual insights recognized--I think I'm still pretty much in the darkness. But just noting what you can learn from the practice itself--whether yoga, meditation, or whatever.
mamculuna: (Default)
( Apr. 30th, 2004 09:31 pm)
I can't believe the pictures I see, the news I hear. Last year when the war started I had moments when I thought, "This must be what it felt like to live in Germany in 1939."

Now I think I begin to get an idea of how it felt to live there in 1945, to see the terrible evidence of what had been done by your country--by you.

Such evil. And those soldiers--they could be people I know, students I've taught.
mamculuna: (Default)
( Apr. 21st, 2004 11:24 am)
Doonesbury and Get Fuzzy spoilers for today's strips )

In other news, I seem to be having a quagmire experience of my own at work. Just when I should be cleaning out my bookshelves and taking long lunches, all the nutcases find my office. Sorry to be so short on compassion, but a lot of what I get is attempts at manipulation. Like the ones (and I see them every semester) who turn in papers that can easily be located on the papers-for-sale sites and then try to convince me that it was just a coincidence, or they forgot to cite that as a source! Word for word, and it's a coincidence? Also obnoxious are the ones who think intimidation is the route to go--big guys who stand over me and shout. Like I'm going to say "0ooh I'm so scared! Of course I'll make your teacher give you an A."

And of I can tell it's this time in the semester when I have to keep a box of tissues by the guest chair in my office. "Oooh if you cry, of course I'll just have to give you credit for work you didn't turn in."

And the worst of it is, some of them are faculty.

Clearly it's time to go! Cynicism has overwhelmed me.


mamculuna: (Default)


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