Progressive Calendar 03.25.06
From: David Shove (
Date: Sat, 25 Mar 2006 04:52:14 -0800 (PST)
             P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R    03.25.06

1. Labor/politics     3.25 9am
2. Colombia           3.25 11am
3. RomeroDay/RCTA     3.25 all day
4. NWA solidarity     3.25 10am
5. GP Mpls/5CD        3.25 12noon
6. GP Wabasha         3.25 1pm Red Wing MN
7. Vs rape culture    3.25 2pm
8. SpiritRoad/AM950   3.25 3pm
9. WhitneyHotel/demo  3.25 3:30pm
10. Jazz/heritage     3.25 5pm
11. Party/Mortenson   3.25 6pm
12. Meal/movie/MayDay 3.25 6:30pm
13. Promise of green  3.25 7pm
14. Sami/wamm         3.25 7pm
15. LaborRights party 3.25 7pm
16. Arab film fest    3.25 7pm

17. Raffensperger- Ten tenets: the law of the commons of the natural world
18. Jensen/Wosnitzer - Crash is a white supremacist movie
19. ed               - Racist imperialist quote from President Taft 1912

Problem with juno: for the past 10 days or so, when I send to a recipient
using juno, the post is marked "access denied" by juno, and rejected. All
my messages of any sort when sent to any juno address are rejected. Odds
are the spam walls are being set too high - if one person thinks X ix
spam, then juno rejects all posts, to all of their users, from the address
that posted it. As things stand, if you're on juno, no Calendar. Since I
can't even email this message to them, others will have to inform them.
Meanwhile, here's a good reason to look elsewhere than juno. -ed

--------1 of 19--------

From: <llwright [at]>
Subject: Labor/politics 3.25 9am

Implementing an Effective Local Political Program
Saturday, March 25
StPaul Labor Centre

This training is the second in the four-part St. Paul Political Training
program. It is designed for core activists (worksite stewards, MPOs, VOs,
member leaders, etc.) who will be implementing the internal political
program on the shop floor. Core areas will include workplace mapping and
building effective worksite communications structures (specific to
different types of worksites), effective one-to-one communication,
strategies for overcoming wedge issues and mobilizing members. We would
anticipate 40  75 participants.

 Learn how to build effective worksite communication structures
 Learn and practice effective one-to-one member communication
 Discuss strategies for overcoming wedge issues and for mobilizing
members around issues and interests

Training structure: The training will be both large group presentation and
small group discussion and small group hands-on work.


 What's the Matter with Kansas: Rethinking how we talk politics and
deliver a union message with our co-workers
 From worksite charting and mapping to building a communications
 Building Power through One-to-One Conversations
 Getting Past the Wedge Issues: Of God, Guns, Gays (and Immigrants,
Taxes, Abortion and the Environment)
Trainers/Facilitators: From LES: Howard Kling, Barb Kucera and Dustin
Denison. From the new progressive organization: Dan McGrath.

9am       Introductions
9:15  - 10:15 What's the Matter with Kansas? - Howard Kling
10:15 - 10:30 Break
10:30 - 11:45 Using Charting and Mapping to Build Communications
              Structures - Dustin Denison

11:45 - 12:30 Lunch

12:30 - 1:30 Building Power through One-to-One Communications - Dan
1:30  - 2:45 Getting Past the Wedge Issues - Howard Kling and Barb Kucera
                             [getting past wedgies? -ed]
2:45 -  3:00 Wrap up

The cost for this training is $25.00, which includes the cost of lunch.
Please RSVP to Bree Halverson at 651-222-3787 extension 15 or
bhalverson [at]

--------2 of 19--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Colombia 3.25 11am

Saturday, 3/25 at the Resource Center of the Americas, 3019 Minnehaha,
Mpls.  Coffeehour from 10 to 11:30 am, "Voices of El Salvador."

--------3 of 19--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: RomeroDay/RCTA 3.25 all day

Saturday, 3/25, all day, Oscar Romero Memorial Day with food, photos, talks
and so on, at the Resource Center of the Americas, 3019 Minnehaha, Mpls.

--------4 of 19--------

From: Solidarity Committee <nwasolidaritymsp [at]>
Subject: NWA solidarity 3.25 10am


--------5 of 19--------

From: Ashley James <Ajames [at]>
Subject: GP Mpls/5CD 3.25 12noon

The next membership meeting of the 5th Congressional District Green Party
is next Saturday. Details and the agenda are listed below. Volunteers are
needed to serve on the screening committee, which will be elected at this
meeting. Details of the screening and endorsing process can be found at

Next General Member Meeting
Saturday, March 25
New member orientation at 12:00
Membership meeting at 12:30
Northeast Library 2200 Central Ave. NE Minneapolis MN 55418 612-630-6900

12:00 New Member Orientation
12:30 Intro and welcomes
12:40 New Umbrella Organization for 5th district - idea presentation/discussion
12:50 State CC Update
1:00 Screening Committee Elections
1:40 Break
1:45 City Council/Park Board Update
2:00 Instant run-off voting - petition coordination, etc.

Children, as always, are welcome.
Call Becki at 612-378-0081 with any questions or special needs.

--------6 of 19--------

From:    "Dag Knudsen" <dagknud [at]>
Subject: GP Wabasha 3.25 1pm Red Wing MN

The Wabasha/Goodhue Counties Green Party invites you to its Annual Meeting
Saturday March 25, 2006 at the Red Wing Public Library, lower level.
1pm:	Annual Meeting
	Approval of agenda
	Annual report
	Treasurer's report
	Guest: Michael Cavlan, who is a  candidate for the US Senate 2006

2pm: Conclusion of annual meeting
2:10pm: Invited Speaker
	A representative from the Hiawatha Valley Partnership (HVP), Tine
Thevenin, will present Choices for the Future of the Hiawatha Valley.
	This presentation represents the culmination of several years of
work by the HVP, working with the University of Minnesota, the DNR and
other agencies, in developing tools for the public and its elected and
appointed officials as they plan for the future. The presentation provides
the rationale. The accompanying materials includes an Atlas consisting of
17 GIS maps and a Matrix providing comparison of Ordinances of each
County, city and township in the study area. The last to products are just
about to be released. Their availability will be announced at the meeting.
3:30 pm: Meeting ends.

Dag I. Knudsen P.O. Box 180 Lake City, MN 55041-0180 651-345-3800

--------7 of 19--------

From: Samantha SMART <liveloveprosper [at]>
Subject: Vs rape culture 3.25 2pm

Two Whistle Stop Coffee Shop talks are upcoming!

Saturday, March 25
Emily Lindell will lead a discussion Challenging Rape Culture: Developing
Skills for Resistance in an Anti-Oppression Framework Wolves Den Coffee
Shop, 1201 Franklin Ave.  2-4pm

Sunday, March 26
Wanda Al-Ahad will talk about Feng Shui and arranging our lives
Lula's Coffee and Jazz, 34th and Nicollet Avenue   noon - 2:00 pm

--------8 of 19--------

Date: Thu, 23 Mar 2006 11:59:41 -0600
Subject: SpiritRoad/AM950 3.25 3pm

Saturday March 25, 3pm

The international peacemaking work of the Nonviolent Peace Force will be
featured on Spirit Road, a new radio show on Air America Minnesota 950 AM.

Patricia Keefe of the Peace Force will be interviewed by co-hosts Burt
Berlowe and Rick Bernardo. The show is focusing on a peacemaking theme
during the third anniversary of U.S. invasion of Iraq.

Listeners are invited to call in with questions and comments.  FFI:
612-722-1504 or 612-824-7176.

--------9 of 19--------

From: Minneapolis Central Labor Union Council <betsy [at]>
Subject: WhitneyHotel/demo 3.25 3:30pm

Stop the Exploitation of Workers!

Whitney Partners, LLC is holding a reception at the Whitney Hotel. The
same Whitney Hotel where, according to a demolition worker's statement,
- received no safety training
- received no safety equipment
- worked six, twelve hour days a week
- were not given safety manuals
- were not paid overtime
- were paid only $6-$10 per hour

Saturday, March 25

The Whitney Hotel 150 Portland Avenue, Minneapolis (intersection of
Portland Avenue and 2nd street)
Join labor, community, and faith groups to show it is time to stop the
exploitation of workers.

--------10 of 19--------

From: jbsouldern [at]
Subject: Jazz/heritage fest 3.25 5pm

Headwaters to Gulf Jazz and Heritage Festival. Benefit event for Mission
from Minnesota, a nonprofit organization providing hurricane relief
efforts to New Orleans and the Gulf Coast region.

Music by Willie Murphy, The Butanes, Larry Long, Jerry Rau, and Mac and
Javier Santiago with Laurie Trach. Artwork by Gulf Coast artists will be
available for purchase. Special guest is Reverend Lance Eden of the First
Street United Methodist Church in New Orleans.

Tickets are $10. at the door. Doors open at 5 p.m. Music from 6 p.m. to
midnight. Event at the Minneapolis Eagles Aerie No. 34 Club, 2507 E. 25th
St., Mpls.55406, 612-729-4469.

For more information about Mission from Minnesota or to volunteer or to
make a donation, go to our website at:

--------11 of 19--------

From: Jesse Mortenson for 64A <jesse [at]>
Subject: Party/Mortenson 3.25 6pm

I marched with over 4000 folks in Minneapolis last Saturday, each one of
us reminding the city that the illegal war in Iraq is no longer even
popular, and that the house of lies supporting the occupation is awaiting
a few leaders with the courage to dismantle it. Later, I marched with
hundreds more in St. Paul, and we heard from people whose family members
are in Iraq.

Going door-to-door, so far I've found that people in this neighborhood
support my call to work at the state level to end the occupation, to bring
home our Minnesota National Guard. I need your help to spread this message
further, both door to door and in the media.

A fun way to do that is to join me at a house party for the campaign
tomorrow, hosted by Mary Petrie, who managed the second half of Elizabeth
Dickinson's campaign last year: Here's Mary's invitation:

"I'm inviting you -- as a friend, resident of district 64A, or fellow
progressive -- because I think it's vital that we support the future face
of St. Paul politics:  and that's Jesse Mortenson!"

"As someone long involved in grasssroots politics, I can't think of anyone
I'd rather endorse than Jesse.  Barely out of college, Jesse has been a
leading force behind MetroIBA, Small is Beautiful and many other efforts
to create a more sustainable and socially just city.  I've seen him work
on issues.  I've watched him work on Elizabeth Dickinson's mayoral run.
He's the rare man who combines strong left moral conviction with the
practical skills to get the job done."

"Some of us have been around a long time.  Some a really long time.  For
both those camps:  come and meet the future.  You'll be wildly encouraged
and optimistic, even -- make that especially -- in these dark war-torn

"Fundraiser -- and really great party -- for Jesse Mortenson, running for
Minnesota House Seat 64A."

Saturday, March 25
6-9pm, Saturday March 25
Mary Petrie & John Thompson's Home 852 Mound Street 774-1502

"Come.  Enjoy the best food, wine and conversation that the East Side has
to offer (on March 25th, that is)."
"Just show up and bring your checkbook, just in case you're so inspired.
We'll supply the rest!"
Mary throws great parties, so I know it'll be a good time. Hope to see you

I'm also proud to say that Sustainable St. Paul endorsed our campaign this
week. I helped to organize SSP's effort to make sure Chris Coleman and
Randy Kelly got on the record regarding important progressive issues.
Because of our effort, we have a strong commitment from the Mayor to
increasing St. Paul's renewable energy use. Sustainable St. Paul continues
to work on St. Paul issues, like opposing the Holman Field dike

Finally, we unveiled this week the multimedia section of the campaign's
website. We have a full 30 minutes of interview show online at - I hope you'll take a look, and don't
forget to share it with your friends.

Candidate for Minnesota House of Representatives
Seeking the Green Party endorsement

--------12 of 19--------

From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at]>
Subject: Meal/movie/MayDay 3.25 6:30pm

Sat Mar 25, 6:30pm: MEAL & MOVIE @ MAY DAY BOOKS hosted by LYDIA HOWELL,
host of KFAI's "Catalyst", Tues.11am BENEFIT for KFAI's Spring 2006 Pledge

MOVIE: "Horns & Halos" (2002) Directed by Michael Galinski & Suki Hawley
Journalism has its share of eccentrics (the late Hunter S. Thompson coems
to mind!). In the late 1990s, J.H. Hatfield set out to expose George W.
Bush--esepcially his alleged cocaine use. St. Martin's Press published
Hatfield's subsequent biography "Fortunate Son" and it was climibing 1999
bestseller charts, when it was abruptly yanbked from stores. Hatfield then
connected up with another character: Sander Hicks, punk musican/publisher
of Soft Skull Press, for a second shot with his W bio. This fast-paced
documentary, set against the 2000 presidential campaign, is a comic-tragic
wild ride of one writer's quest to challenge power with his pen.

MEAL: Enjoy Lydia's Texas Chile con Carne (w/MEAT) or Spicey Peasent Stew
(Vegatarian/Vegan); Cornbread & Breads;Desserts. $5 to $7 Benefits KFAI
Community Radio

MAY DAY BOOKS, progressive, non-profit, volunteer-run bookstore.
301 Cedar Ave.S, (basement HUB Bicycle,door frwy side of bldg),West
Bank. Minnneapolis (612)333-4719

--------13 of 19--------

From: Ellen Hinchcliffe <ehinchcliffe [at]>
Subject: Promise of green 3.25 7pm

Just a reminder about the show this Saturday at the cia, it's such a great
group of performers coming together including Sharon Day who just returned
from the World Council on Water in Mexico.  It's going to be an inspiring
night.  And between the snow flurries and the state of the world I know I
need one!

The Promise of Green- resistance, renewal and the coming season.
March 25
7-9pm  $5-10
Center for Independent Artists
4137 Bloomington Ave S. Minneapolis
More information (612) 227-9939

An evening of performance/ poetry/ video/ ceremony/ song to celebrate
Spring!  As we continue to struggle for a world without war and greed lets
nurture those tiny green shoots of new life and hope.

Featuring the work of Louis Alemayheu, Sharon Day, Gabrielle Civil, Juma
Essie, Ayanna Muata, Elliot Lynch and Ellen Marie Hinchcliffe with Images
by M.K. Glover.

All proceeds go to The White Earth Land Recovery Project. Please join us.  Peace.

--------14 of 19--------

From: wamm <wamm [at]>
Subject: Sami/wamm 3.25 7pm

Reception with Sami Rasouli, Iraqi-American Peacemaker   3/25
Saturday, March 25, 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. 1716 Dupont Avenue South, Minneapolis.

Sami Rasouli is an Iraqi American, who has spent the last ten out of
twelve months working in Iraq in a nonpartisan manner to help the Iraq
people (his second time in Iraq after Shock and Awe.) He has been
throughout Iraq, in Fallujah and many other cities and towns, helping
where he could.  He helped form the Muslim Peacemaker Team to work with
the Christian Peacemaker Teams (The Quaker Tom Fox was a friend and
colleague of his in this work.)

Please join us for a wine and cheese buffet fundraiser for Women Against
Military Madness and enjoy the opportunity to meet, talk with, and ask
questions of this courageous man who is working so tirelessly for peace
and justice for the Iraqi people.

$5.00 to $50.00 suggested donation. FFI: Call WAMM at 612-827-5364 or Twin
Cities Peace Campaign at 612-522-1861.

--------15 of 19--------

From: Sandi Sherman <s.m.sherman [at]>
Subject: Labor rights party 3.25 7pm

Meeting and party to support fight to defeat coal boss lawsuit against
labor's right to organize

 Bill Estrada, from Price, Utah, is a defendant in the coal boss
harassment suit. He was a coal miner on strike for 10 months at the Co-Op
 Bernie Hesse, head of organizing, UFCW Local 789 in Minnesota, which has
been in forefront of organizing meatpackers in Minnesota against boss
abuse, speedup and unsafe conditions
 Argiris Malapanis, editor of the Militant newspaper
 Randy Jasper, activist in Family Farm Defenders, dairy farmer from
Muscoda, Wisconsin.

7pm Saturday March 25
Union Hall, UFCW Local 789
266 Hardman Ave., South St. Paul

In the first six weeks of 2006, twenty-three miners died in U.S.  mines.
Sixty five miners died in a northern Mexico coal mine explosion February
19. These mine disasters once again bring to the fore the fight by workers
for safety and dignity on the job by organizing strong unions. They also
highlight the importance of a fight centered in a Utah Federal Court.
There, it is being fought out whether working people today have First
Amendment rights of freedom of speech and of the press to organize to
defend themselves against these kinds of conditions.

This court battle grows out of a hard-fought union organizing drive at
C.W. Mining's Co-Op coal mine in Huntington, Utah. The Co-Op miners, many
originally from Mexico, have been fighting since September 2003 to be
represented by the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA). Underground coal
miners at Co-Op were paid $5.50 to $7 an hour, and often forced to work in
unsafe conditions. The company's response to the workers' struggle for
better pay, safety and dignity on the job, and a real union, was to fire
several of the leaders and then lock out 75 miners who supported the fired
workers. The miners transformed the lockout into a ten-month strike
battle, which won solidarity across the country and around the world.

In response to the strength of the union fight, C.W. Mining and the
company union at the Co-Op mine filed a lawsuit in September 2004 in
Federal District Court in Salt lake City against the UMWA, its
international officers and 16 individual Co-Op miners. It also names as
defendants The Militant newspaper, as well as trade unions and individuals
who have backed the miners.  All are being sued for "defamation". At issue
is whether workers and their unions can discuss among themselves, speak at
labor meetings and rallies and be quoted in the labor press without being
dragged into court, charged with slander, and drained of their time and

Auspices: Militant Fighting Fund. Endorsed by AFSCME Local 3800; St. Paul
Labor Speakers Club; Bernie Hesse, Organizing Director, UFCW Local 789*;
David Riehle, Chairman of UTU Local 650*; Ken Hooker, President, IAM Local
1833*; Ben Miller, Business Rep., Carpenters Union Lakes and Plains
Regional Council*; Dale Chidester, office manager, UFCW Local 9*; Pablo
Tapia, chair, Civil Rights for Immigrants, ISAIAH*; August Nimtz,
Professor of Political Science, University of MN*; Twin Cities IWW; others.

Proceeds to benefit the Militant Fighting Fund,which has been established
to win support for the Militant newspaper's freedom of press rights and
publicize the fight of all of the defendants to defeat this harassment

For more information call 651.457.3362

--------16 of 19--------

From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at]>
Subject: Arab film fest 3.25 7pm

Saturday, 3/25, 7 pm Arab Film Fest "Route 181" by Israeli and Palestinian
filmakers (Michel Khleifi present at screening), Oak St. Cinema, 309 Oak St
SE, Mpls. or

--------17 of 19--------

By Carolyn Raffensperger**
From: Rachel's Democracy & Health News #847, Mar. 23, 2006

The commons includes all the things we own together and none of us owns
individually - the air and waters of the Earth, wildlife, the human gene
pool, the accumulated human knowledge that we all inherit at birth, and so
on. The commons form the biological platform upon which the entire human
enterprise - and, indeed, all life - depend.

At present, American law tends to emphasize and give privilege to
corporate rights and private property to the exclusion of community, other
creatures, health, and future generations. However, hidden like treasure
in the depths of our legal system is the foundation of a law of the
commons. Some legal precepts derived from ancient practices of people
sharing water, land and wildlife still reverberate throughout American

One of the oldest ideas, the public trust doctrine, predates the Magna
Carta but it is still part of the common law in most of the 50 U.S.
states. The public trust doctrine stands for the principle that a
government body holds some resource like tidal waters or shores in trust
for the people. Versions of this concept have appeared in state
constitutions and been adjudicated in state and federal courts.

Other ideas have emerged in response to changing technology and the
increasing scarcity of various resources. Beginning in the 1970's a spate
of states amended their constitutions to grant new rights and assign new
duties reflecting the increasing burden of pollution and damage to the
commons. Florida crafted a polluter pays provision to force agriculture to
clean up Lake Okeechobee, to protect the Everglades. Similarly, the Law of
the Sea convention of 1982, an international treaty, asserted the right of
all humankind to access the deep seas because modern fishing and mining
technology had increased the likelihood of a single nation plundering the

One of the most interesting ideas to take hold in the 1970's was the
brainchild of an Alaska governor, Jay Hammond. He helped create the Alaska
Permanent Fund to reap the benefits for all Alaskans of oil drilling on
state lands. Some money from the oil profits goes into the state coffers
to pay for public infrastructure and a portion of the fund is paid out to
each Alaskan as a dividend.

I have taken these (and other ideas) and distilled 10 tenets of commons
law on which we might build a more satisfying, coherent law and policy so
that we can pass this beautiful world on to future generations.

Ten Tenets: the Law of the Commons of the Natural World

1) The commons shall be passed on to future generations unimpaired. See,
for example, the State of Montana Constitution, Article ix, environment
and natural resources. And the National Park Service Organic Act, 16
U.S.C. 1.

2) All commoners have equal access to the commons and use by commoners
will be allocated without discrimination. Example: The Alaska Permanent

3) Government's key responsibility is to serve as a trustee of the
commons. The trust beneficiary is present and future generations. The
trustee has a responsibility to protect the trust property from harm,
including harm perpetrated by trust beneficiaries. Example: Lake Michigan
Federation v. Army Corps of Engineers, 742 F. 2d 441 (N.D. Ill. 1990).
Source: Public trust doctrine.

4) The commons do not belong to the state but belong to commoners, the
public. Example: The Public Trust Doctrine.

5) Some commons are the common heritage of all humans and other living
beings. Common heritage establishes the right of commoners to those places
and goods in perpetuity. This right may not be alienated, denied,
repudiated or given away. The Common Heritage law is a limit on one
government's sovereignty to claim economic jurisdiction and to exclude
some commoners from their share. Example: the 1982 Law of the Sea
Convention, articles 136 and 137.

6) The precautionary principle is the most useful tool for protecting the
commons for this and future generations. Example: The San Francisco
precautionary principle ordinance.

7) Eminent domain is the legal process for moving private property into
the commons and shall be used exclusively for that purpose. Source: Fifth
Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

8) Infrastructure necessary for humans and other beings to be fully
biological and social creatures will reside within the domain of the
commons. The positive benefits (externalities) of the commons shall accrue
to all commoners. Example: Alaska Permanent Fund.

9) The commons are the foundation of the economy. Therefore the market,
commerce and private property shall not externalize damage or costs onto
the commons. Example: Florida Polluter Pays Constitutional Provision.

10) Damage to or loss of the commons shall be compensated to all
commoners. Example: Alaska Permanent Fund.

It is no secret that we face increasing environmental and social
degradation. All indicators suggest that prisons are expanding (even as
crime rates drop), poor children suffer disproportionately from toxic
chemicals, global warming and pollution threaten to make the planet
uninhabitable, and biodiversity is being shredded and homogenized. The old
rules enabled the rich to get richer at the expense of the commons -
ostensibly so benefits could "trickle down" to everyone else. There may
have been a time when those rules made some kind of sense, but now the
world is a different place. It is time to change course. We can create a
political and legal agenda based on equitable sharing - sharing the bounty
of the Earth in such a way that we increase the commonwealth and common
health for this generation and those to come, give substance to the
universal declaration of human rights, and fulfill the promise of America.
These ten tenets are a place to start.

** Carolyn Raffensperger is the executive director of the Science &
Environmental Health Network in Ames, Iowa.

[No, actually, I have just heard from god, and he wants the rich to get
richer by subduing the world lock stock and barrel. Even if it means
killing us and every living creature, and shortly thereafter, themselves.
Then god will reckon up who had the most toys, and hand out posthumous
awards at a big ceremony that only he will be alive to see. Then he will
engineer another Big Bang, wait a few billion years, and see if it turns
out the same way next time. It's likely the cycle is endless, powered by
the insatiable greed of the ruling class. - ed]

--------18 of 19--------

By Robert Jensen and Robert Wosnitzer
ZNet Commentary
March 24, 2006

"Crash" is a white-supremacist movie.

The Oscar-winning best picture - widely heralded, especially by white
liberals, for advancing an honest discussion of race in the United States
- is, in fact, a setback in the crucial project of forcing white America
to come to terms the reality of race and racism, white supremacy and white

The central theme of the film is simple: Everyone is prejudiced - black,
white, Asian, Iranian and, we assume, anyone from any other racial or
ethnic group. We all carry around racial/ethnic baggage that's packed with
unfair stereotypes, long-stewing grievances, raw anger, and crazy fears.
Even when we think we have made progress, we find ourselves caught in
frustratingly complex racial webs from which we can't seem to get

For most people - including the two of us - that's painfully true; such
untangling is a life's work in which we can make progress but never feel
finished. But that can obscure a more fundamental and important point:
This state of affairs is the product of the actions of us white people. In
the modern world, white elites invented race and racism to protect their
power, and white people in general have accepted the privileges they get
from the system and helped maintain it. The problem doesn't spring from
the individual prejudices that exist in various ways in all groups but
from white supremacy, which is expressed not only by individuals but in
systemic and institutional ways. There's little hint of such understanding
in the film, which makes it especially dangerous in a white-dominant
society in which white people are eager to avoid confronting our

So, "Crash" is white supremacist because it minimizes the reality of white
supremacy. Its faux humanism and simplistic message of tolerance directs
attention away from a white-supremacist system and undermines white
accountability for the maintenance of that system. We have no way of
knowing whether this is the conscious intention of writer/director Paul
Haggis, but it's emerges as the film's dominant message.

While viewing "Crash" may make some people, especially white people,
uncomfortable during and immediately after viewing, the film seems
designed, at a deeper level, to make white people feel better. As the film
asks us to confront personal prejudices, it allows us white folk to evade
our collective responsibility for white supremacy. In "Crash," emotion
trumps analysis, and psychology is more important than politics. The
result: White people are off the hook.

The first step in putting white people back on the hook is pressing the
case that the United States in 2006 is a white-supremacist society. Even
with the elimination of formal apartheid and the lessening of the worst of
the overt racism of the past, the term is still appropriate, in
ideological and material terms.

The United States was founded, of course, on an ideology of the inherent
superiority of white Europeans over non-whites that was used to justify
the holocausts against indigenous people and Africans, which created the
nation and propelled the U.S. economy into the industrial world. That
ideology also has justified legal and extralegal exploitation of every
non-white immigrant group.

Today, polite white folks renounce such claims of superiority. But scratch
below that surface politeness and the multicultural rhetoric of most white
people, and one finds that the assumptions about the superiority of the
art, music, culture, politics, and philosophy rooted in white Europe are
still very much alive. No poll can document these kinds of covert
opinions, but one hears it in the angry and defensive reaction of white
America when non-white people dare to point out that whites have unearned
privilege. Watch the resistance from white America when any serious
attempt is made to modify school or college curricula to reflect knowledge
from other areas and peoples. The ideology of white supremacy is all

That ideology also helps white Americans ignore and/or rationalize the
racialized disparities in the distribution of resources. Studies continue
to demonstrate how, on average, whites are more likely than members of
racial/ethnic minorities to be on top on measures of wealth and
well-being. Looking specifically at the gap between white and black
America, on some measures black Americans have fallen further behind white
Americans during the so-called post-civil rights era. For example, the
typical black family had 60 percent as much income as a white family in
1968, but only 58 percent as much in 2002. On those measures where there
has been progress, closing the gap between black and white is decades, or
centuries, away.

What does this white supremacy mean in day-to-day life? One recent study
found that in the United States, a black applicant with no criminal record
is less likely to receive a callback from a potential employer than a
white applicant with a felony conviction. In other words, being black is
more of a liability in finding a job than being a convicted criminal. Into
this new century, such discrimination has remained constant.

That's white supremacy. Many people, of all races, feel and express
prejudice, but white supremacy is built into the attitudes, practices and
institutions of the dominant white society. It's not the product simply of
individual failure but is woven into society, and the material
consequences of it are dramatic.

It seems that the people who made "Crash" either don't understand that,
don't care, or both. The character in the film who comes closest to
articulating a systemic analysis of white supremacy is Anthony, the
carjacker played by the rapper Ludacris. But putting the critique in the
mouth of such a morally unattractive character undermines any argument he
makes, and his analysis is presented as pseudo-revolutionary blather to be
brushed aside as we follow the filmmakers on the real subject of the film
- the psychology of the prejudice that infects us all.

That the characters in "Crash" - white and non-white alike - are complex
and have a variety of flaws is not the problem; we don't want films
populated by one-dimensional caricatures, simplistically drawn to make a
political point. Those kinds of political films rarely help us understand
our personal or political struggles. But this film's characters are drawn
in ways that are ultimately reactionary.

Although the film follows a number of story lines, its politics are most
clearly revealed in the interaction that two black women have with an
openly racist white Los Angeles police officer played by Matt Dillon.
During a bogus traffic stop, Dillon's Officer Ryan sexually violates
Christine, the upper-middle-class black woman played by Thandie Newton.
But when fate later puts Ryan at the scene of an accident where
Christine's life is in danger, he risks his own life to save her, even
when she at first reacts hysterically and rejects his help. The white male
is redeemed by his heroism. The black woman, reduced to incoherence by the
trauma of the accident, can only be silently grateful for his

Even more important to the film's message is Ryan's verbal abuse of
Shaniqua, a black case manager at an insurance company (played by Loretta
Devine). She bears Ryan's racism with dignity as he dumps his frustration
with the insurance company's rules about care of his father onto her, in
the form of an angry and ignorant rant against affirmative action. She is
empathetic with Ryan's struggle but unwilling to accept his abuse,
appearing to be one of the few reasonable characters in the film. But not
for long.

In a key moment at the end of the film, Shaniqua is rear-ended at a
traffic light and emerges from her car angry at the Asian driver who has
hit her. "Don't talk to me unless you speak American," she shouts at the
driver. As the camera pulls back, we are left to imagine the language she
uses in venting her prejudice.

In stark contrast to Ryan and his racism is his police partner at the
beginning of the film, Hanson (played by Ryan Phillippe). Younger and
idealistic, Hanson tries to get Ryan to back off from the encounter with
Christine and then reports Ryan's racist behavior to his black lieutenant,
Dixon (played by Keith David). Dixon doesn't want the hassles of
initiating a disciplinary action and Hanson is left to cope on his own,
but he continues to try to do the right thing throughout the movie. Though
he's the white character most committed to racial justice, at the end of
the film Hanson's fear overcomes judgment in a tense moment, and he shoots
and kills a black man. It's certainly true that well-intentioned white
people can harbor such fears rooted in racist training. But in the world
"Crash" creates, Hanson's deeper awareness of the nature of racism and
attempts to combat it are irrelevant, while Ryan somehow magically
overcomes his racism.

Let us be clear: "Crash" is not a racist movie, in the sense of crudely
using overtly racist stereotypes. It certainly doesn't present the white
characters as uniformly good; most are clueless or corrupt. Two of the
non-white characters (a Latino locksmith and an Iranian doctor) are the
most virtuous in the film. The characters and plot lines are complex and
often intriguing. But "Crash" remains a white-supremacist movie because of
what it refuses to bring into the discussion.

At this point in our critique, defenders of the film have suggested to us
that we expect too much, that movies tend to deal with issues at this
personalized level and we can't expect more. This is evasion. For example,
whatever one thinks of its politics, another recent film, "Syriana,"
presents a complex institutional analysis of U.S. foreign policy in an
engaging fashion. It's possible to produce a film that is politically
sophisticated and commercially viable. Haggis is clearly talented, and
there's no reason to think he couldn't have deepened the analysis in
creative ways.

"Crash" fans also have offered this defense to us: In a culture that seems
terrified of any open discussion of race, isn't some attempt at an honest
treatment of the complexity of the issue better than nothing? That's a
classic argument from false alternatives. Are we stuck with a choice
between silence or bad analysis? Beyond that, in this case the answer may
well be no. If "Crash" and similar efforts that personalize and
psychologize the issue of race keep white America from an honest
engagement with the structure and consequences of white supremacy, the
ultimate effect may be reactionary. In that case, "nothing" may be better.

The problem of "Crash" can be summed up through one phrase from the
studio's promotional material, which asserts that the film "boldly reminds
us of the importance of tolerance."

That's exactly the problem. On the surface, the film appears to be bold,
speaking of race with the kind of raw emotion that is rare in this
culture. But that emotion turns out, in the end, to be manipulative and
diversionary. The problem is that the film can't move beyond the concept
of tolerance, and tolerance is not the solution to America's race problem.
White people can - and often do - learn to tolerate difference without
ever disturbing the systemic, institutional nature of racism.

The core problem is not intolerance but white supremacy - and the way in
which, day in and day out, white people accept white supremacy and the
unearned privileges it brings.

"Crash" paints a multi-colored picture of race, and in a multi-racial
society recognizing that diversity is important. Let's just not forget
that the color of racism is white.

Robert Jensen is a journalism professor at the University of Texas at
Austin and the author of The Heart of Whiteness: Confronting Race, Racism
and White Privilege. He can be reached at rjensen [at]
Robert Wosnitzer is associate producer of the forthcoming documentary on
pornography "The Price of Pleasure." He can be reached at
robert.wosnitzer [at]

--------19 of 19--------

                       Amerika Uber Alles
"The day is not far distant when three Stars and Stripes at three
equidistant points will mark our territory: one at the North Pole, another
at the Panama Canal, and the third at the South Pole. The whole hemisphere
will be ours in fact as, by virture of our superiority of race, it already
is morally." -President William Howard Taft, 1912.


   - David Shove             shove001 [at]
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