- It took me 12 hours to get home yesterday from Toronto. Time has new
meaning as travel becomes even more problematic.... airline corporations are
cutting corners and wild weather is disrupting schedules.
- My hosts in Toronto were long-time activists Judy and Jim Deutsch. Jim
was a radical student at Columbia University during the 60's student occupation
of the administration building. He was there when Columbia Professor
Seymour Melman (father of economic conversion) crawled through the window in an
attempt to join with the students. Apparently Melman’s self-intro was
poorly received and some shouted him down. Melman crawled back out the
window. Judy is one of the leaders of Science for Peace at the University of
Toronto where she teaches in addition to a full schedule of local
organizing. On Sunday night they organized a dinner party where about 15
people (including some students) sat around and talked about growing fascism
and what we should do in response. It was a stimulating discussion.
No easy answers were found... just recognition that we must do the hard work of
local-regional-national-international grassroots organizing. We all
agreed that there is way too much solo-silo organizing - alot of this has to do
with organizational egos, power, money, media contacts, etc. Also was
agreed that governments, political parties, and foundations fund some
"progressive" groups to keep them toeing the line. These kinds
of things happen in Maine and across the nation. In Canada some groups
get government money and spout the party line on militarism.
- People in Toronto are worried about the possible reelection of their crazy,
spoiled Mayor Rob Ford. The crack smokin, arm swinging, bad mouth rich boy
wears a Maple Leafs hockey jersey to keep the working class fans in
check. In the end Ford does the work of the oligarchy by introducing
austerity and making the political scene toxic that discourages public
participation. It is the same story with our right wing gutter-mouth Gov. Paul
LePage here in Maine. He won in a three-way race with 38% of the vote but
is up for reelection in November. At this moment he is behind his
Democrat challenger in the polls.
- Getting into Canada was easy this time. Sometimes I breeze through and
other times I've been pulled aside to discuss my history of non-violent civil
disobedience that is logged into the computer. But interestingly the last
three times I've come back from international trips I've been pulled into
another room for questioning by the US Customs & Immigration. Yesterday on my return there was a replay of this game. I get quizzed particularly about my recent arrest at the Hancock
Airfield in Syracuse, New York that has been turned into a drone base. (I
am still waiting for my trial date.) They also bring up my "Order of
Protection" (sort of ban-and-bar letter from the base) except it also says
that I must:
"Refrain from assault,
stalking, harassment, aggravated harassment, menacing, reckless endangerment,
strangulation, criminal obstruction of breathing or circulation, disorderly
conduct, criminal mischief, sexual abuse, sexual misconduct, forcible touching,
intimidation, threats or any criminal offense or interference with the
victim.... members of family, household...”
- Who is the order protecting? Col. Greg A. Semmel, the commander of the
base... so US Customs & Immigration asks me if I am traveling with Mr.
Semmel? I told them I'd not know the man if I stumbled into him.
I've come to the conclusion that the purpose of these little interrogations
is just to remind me that MR. BIG knows who I am and has his electronic eye
- One older man in Toronto, a long-time activist that I've met in the past,
told our Sunday night dinner party that he was depressed by the current state
of politics. He sees the writing on the wall. I told him I get
depressed as well. Everyone does. I think it is hardest though for white
middle class folks who have tasted elements of the success mythology. For
them acknowledging the 'dream' is a manipulation comes hard. Social
control is strong in the human community. Indigenous people, people of
color and the multi-generational poor have long been singing the blues.
Time for white folks to learn the blues.