This is the proof, were any needed, that what the Conservatives are up to has precious little to do with reducing the deficit and much more to do with shrinking the role of the state and moving the provision of private services over to the public sector.
Outsourcing firms are preparing for a bonanza of local authority contracts to provide everything from bin men to back office bureaucrats and have reported a doubling in the number of deals on offer this year. Private health companies are also expecting to earn billions of pounds from the planned overhaul of the NHS in which GPs would take over responsibility for spending £70bn.
Executives at Capita, the UK's largest outsourcing firm, said the number of opportunities for local authority contracts has already doubled this year and they see the healthcare market as "vast and potentially lucrative".
Richard Marchant, head of local government strategic partnerships at Capita, an FTSE-100 company which already works for councils in Harrow, Swindon, Southampton and Sheffield, said: "A major problem for the public sector is, we feel, a significant opportunity for us. Opportunities are at their highest level in two to three years. This year we have probably seen a 100% increase in opportunities [compared with 2009] and I suspect we will see another 50% increase in the following year."
Such an increase could deliver a £60m boost to Capita's revenues while councils are anticipating a 30% budget cut over the next four years. Other firms vying for town hall contracts include Serco and Mouchel.
This is simply another part of the deregulation philosophy of right wingers. They fail to understand that some things are done according to the book because that is simply the best way to ensure that they are done properly.
"The private sector likes the clarity it has seen from the new government," said James Hulme, spokesman for the New Local Government Network.
"It will see the present climate as a greater opportunity than over the last couple of years even though the budgets are shrinking. The low-hanging fruit have already been picked in terms of rubbish collection and street cleaning.
"The services that are now likely to be privatised are those such as probation and care homes, and the public will feel a different emotional attachment to them."
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by Sally Joyner -
This is the second summer that the Memphis Socialist Party has cultivated a little patch of land in the Binghampton neighborhood, a block from the community center where we hold our meetings. Binghampton is an old neighborhood near the center of the sprawling city, where immigrants from West Africa and Mexico live next door to elderly lifelong Memphians. Ice-cream colored shotgun houses are intertwined with boarded-up duplexes and newly renovated two-story homes.
Last year, when we started the garden, ten minutes of working never passed without someone walking up to introduce him or herself, offer advice, or ask about the vegetables. We were overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of our neighbors, who, as the summer wore on, became more and more involved. Although we tilled only a small portion of the lot, we planted organic summer squash, tomatoes, melons, scarlet runner beans, eggplant, and herbs, and we enjoyed a large yield of good, healthy food. There were no fences or barriers and everyone felt free to have as much as they wanted. We had been warned against leaving the garden open in that manner, but we couldn?t imagine any other way.
This year, it was still winter when a couple of neighbors caught up with us at the community center to make sure we were doing the garden again. It turned out that the man living across the street from the lot--who was around just about every day last year--has an old tiller and big plans; we were lucky, because the local ag-extension is no longer tilling gardens due to budget cuts. So, from late April to early May, we tilled up an area around four times the size of the original plot. Directly next door to the garden is a couple in their 80s who helped with watering last year. This summer, they planted radishes, beans, cauliflower, and the seeds of a particularly good butternut squash they?d enjoyed a few months ago. Because there is more than enough room for everyone?s gardening experiments, this year?s mantra has been: ?Let?s just put it in the ground and see what happens.?
Our purpose in creating an open neighborhood garden was to have a space where people could come together to do meaningful work, get to know each other, and grow some great food. Now May is almost over, and sure enough, we?ve got sunflowers, beets, cucumbers, okra, peppers, watermelon and potatoes sprouting up, along with all of the vegetables that did so well last year. The experience has been fundamentally satisfying for everyone; as a neighbor we met earlier this year said, ?It?s a lot of work, but we?re gonna eat good this summer.?
Here are some Urban Farmers in the Bronx, NY:
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by Dan La Botz -
Today, food production in the United States and in the world is dominated by a handful of corporations that put their profits above the hunger, the health, and the well-being of America?s and the globe?s population. Tyson, Kraft, Pepsico, Nestle, Conagra, and Anheuser-Busch are generally at the top of the list, though in virtually every area of food production, a small number of corporations control what is grown and what we eat. The food industry, of course, meshes with the banks and with other corporations, such as chemical companies and agricultural implement manufacturers, as well as with government agencies, which built the network of dams and canals that provide their water and which also provide government subsidies and financial aid.
We know some of the results of this concentration of wealth in the hands of the corporations and the government they dominate. Family farmers?and there are few of them left?must borrow from the banks and produce for the corporations, their livelihood often in question. Another result of this interlocking of corporate and governmental interests has been, for thirty years, the deregulation of food production, resulting in outbreaks of E.coli and other diseases. The American people who eat corporate food are increasingly unhealthy, obese, suffering from diabetes and heart disease. Farm workers and meatpacking workers work in unsafe and unhealthy conditions, often live in abysmal conditions, and are paid extremely low wages for the most arduous work. While most Americans can afford food, there are approximately 40 million people in the United States who have difficulty getting enough to eat; and worldwide there are between a billion and two billion
people who go hungry.
The great food corporations have for decades successfully resisted attempts by workers, consumers and environmentalists to restrain their power. Still we see important movements to change the food industries. Worker?s organizations such as the United Farm Workers, Farm Labor Organizing Committee, and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers have succeeded in winning better wages and conditions for a small number of farm workers. The United Food and Commercial Workers Union has had important victories in new organizing among meat and poultry processing workers. Within the Teamsters union, which represents most other food processing workers, there is an in important rank-and-file movement, Teamsters for a Democratic Union, working to make the union do a better job in representing its members.
We have also seen in recent years a tremendous growth in consumer move¬ments demanding a return to government regulation of the industry, as well as movements that press for locally grown and organic food. Environmentalists continue to educate the public about the tremendous waste and environmental damage done by our food production system which relies so heavily on carbon fuels. While all of these are hopeful signs, we do not yet see a powerful social movement which can begin to restrain the food industry?s dominant corporations. To get there, we need to work to rebuild the unions, expand the workers? centers, revive the social movements, and create a political alternative.
We see in this country a small but growing anti-corporate and sometimes anti-capitalist sentiment. Beyond that, recent polls by Rasmussen, Gallup, and Pew have shown that about one-third of the American people feel sympathetic to socialism. Still, many Americans fear that socialism means Soviet style Communism while others can see that European Social Democracy more often administers capitalism somewhat more humanely than the United States, though still without escaping its crises and the suffering they bring. We need to be able to talk about socialism in a way that makes it clear to the American people, that socialism is fundamentally an expansion of democracy, and an increase in the power of ordinary working people to improve their lives.
What might agriculture look like under socialism? First, of course, we stand for the social ownership of the banks, as I?ve said, nationalize them and create the U.S. credit union to provide credit to small business, homeowners, and farmers. We want to see the nationalization of the oil, coal and other energy corporations which represent such a large factor in agriculture today. Third, we would want to see the nationalization of agribusiness, not to continue the factory farm or industrial meat model, but rather to create an environmentally, economically, socially sound alternative. We would want to see the nationalization of the grocery chains and the restaurant chains, bringing them under social control, with large input from workers and consumers. We might want to consolidate in some areas and decentralize in others. Only once we have taken the resources away from the corporations, however, will we be able to create the alternative.
We as socialists have no blueprint for the future, but we have a vision and principles that revolve around working class power and democracy. The alternative to today?s food industry might well include some large-scale agriculture, but could also mean a vast expansion of small family-owned farms and cooperative farms. We would want to put the emphasis, of course, on healthy, affordable food produced by workers who are paid living wages and enjoy all the benefits and rights of other people in our country. We would want to consult throughout these processes with health professionals such as nutritionists, with environmentalists, and with consumers. We would want to see the American people, through democratic institutions elaborate a national economic plan, in which agriculture would play a central role, and we would want that plan to be carried out through the cooperation of workers and consumers.
All of this, however, remains nothing more than a dream unless we can rebuild the labor and social movements and create the political alternative. The Socialist Party, as well as other political groups such as the U.S. Labor Party and the Green Party, have worked to help present the American people with a left alternative. Today, I am running for U.S. Senate in order to continue to raise the vision and platform of democratic socialism, to help to build networks of activists in my state and throughout the country, and hopefully to inspire others to become part of a struggle for an alternative.
Dan La Botz is a Cincinnati-based teacher, writer and activist, and the Ohio Socialist Party candidate for the U.S. Senate
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Editorial - The Socialist, Issue 4, 2010 -
How can we change the world? This is the question that socialists face in the 21st century. It certainly offers more possibilities than the one presented in the mid-90s that asked whether we had reached the end of history. However, capitalism is also attempting to provide an answer to this question by offering individualized ways to change the world. Food is an important arena for this project ? corporations insist that eating the right food or drinking the right coffee can really make a difference in the world.
Behind the antiseptic choices offered by the system, lies the storm and stress of capitalism. Corporations chasing each other across the world in search of profits, workers being squeezed for ever lower wages and natural resources being monopolized and spoiled. Old wine in a new bottle ? a certified organic 100% post-consumer recycled bottle, but the same old bitter wine. In the pro¬cess, a world transformed is neatly reduced to an individual act of consumption that serves to substitute itself for any bonds of solidarity or affinity. Personal choices about which corporate products to consume become the only acceptable avenue for ?politics,? a term now used to discuss which products corporations offer instead of examining the consequences of the very existence of corporations themselves.
No food item better demonstrates capitalism?s ability to quietly adapt to and create consumption patterns while shielding consumers from the transformative nightmares it engenders than soy. The seemingly innocent jiggly glob of crushed soybeans has caught the attention of North American consumers looking to ward a post-meat world. Its pristine white color radiates goodness, the plastic packaging it arrives in screams about good health and the imaginary hippie-style communal edginess is irresistible to the deeply alienated late capitalist consumer. Soy has a slightly different meaning for Paraguayan campesinos however. It means war.
Meat-scares in Europe, rumors about the soy-secret to long life in Japan and big-agro trends toward new feed commodities have pushed soybean cultivation globally. Big companies such as Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), and Bunge monopolize the soy market. In Paraguay, these same corporations have, for many years, strong-armed local farmers into producing corporate Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) soybeans in order to integrate the area into the ?soy republics? that have been set up in Brazil and Argentina.
Never mind the enforcement of mono-crop cultiva¬tion, the deforestation or the extreme amounts of pollution caused by pesticides so toxic that campesinos in Paraguay have termed them ?the venom.? Environmentally conscious consumers in the North now desire soy as a means to change their individual worlds and big capital is determined to pro¬duce it at the cheapest cost possible.
Some campesinos have resisted by asserting their right to cultivate traditional crops such as yucca, corn, beans and potatoes. However, agro-businesses have accumulated such massive amounts of land that soy has become the king-crop in the region.
Today, after re-shaping the cultivation world and transforming the biological coding of all sorts of food, multinational corporations like to tell you that they are all about sustainability. Soy giants like ADM, have taken public bruises from anti-trust cases and from the voices of displaced campesinos that have filtered out into the Western world. So, they have announced a new era of corporate ethics. ADM?s business, the companies CEO Pat Woertz declared, ?Is intimately tied to our social responsibility.? ?Our values,? Woertz wrote, ?inspire us to achieve the right results, the right way.? Yet, the company is not offering to pull back from production in the ?soy republics,? or move to eliminate GMO crops, or clean up the local environments they have polluted. Their corporate responsibility amounts to little more than a press campaign about a mythical commitment to sustainability that will always be second to the bedrock logic of capitalism ? profit-motive.
So, if the false individual choices of consumer capitalism won?t change the world for the better, what will? A good first step is to cultivate a notion that will be central to any attempt at international socialism, a globalized ?we? ? a recognition that the capitalist system works as a whole and that we are integrated into this total system. Digging our way out will necessarily entail creating a movement with the ability to link the soy consumer in the north with a Paraguayan farmer or to see how yucca, corn, beans and potatoes might produce a far greater benefit for the planet than mono-cropping. The politics of the ?we? of socialism hold far more potential for addressing the dire needs of our planet than the ?I? of capitalist consumption.
Breaking down the hegemony of corporations necessarily means building up our capacity to extend ties of affinity ? both planned and spontaneous. Food politics can open this door by offering a political edge to decisions that are central to our everyday lives. Sometimes this may mean cultivating local sources, others times developing positive global links between farmer and consumer or using grassroots democracy to determine what the contents of our plates will be. Such new relations come with the requirement to see through the easy fantasy offered by multinational corporations who stand at the heart of the destruction of our solidarity with fellow humans and are ruining our relationship with the natural world.
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Ellen Kennedy is the Executive Director of the Minneapolis based non-profit A World Without Genocide. The group has been organizing to prevent genocide and prosecute war criminals since 2006. In 2009, Ellen received an Outstanding Citizen Award from the Anne Frank Foundation. Much of a World Without Genocide?s recent work has focused on the Darfur region of Somolia where an estimated 400,000 Darfuri people have been killed by Arab militias under the direction of Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir. Ellen spoke to us 24 hours after the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued a warrant for Al-Bashir?s arrest.
Billy Wharton - Please tell us more about the arrest warrant that was issued by the ICC for Sudan's President Omar Al-Bashir. What was the process leading up to this? What is the plan to enforce it?
Ellen Kennedy - On March 4, 2009, the ICC issued an arrest warrant for Omar Al-Bashir on many counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes. At that time, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the chief prosecutor of the ICC, had hoped that the warrant would also include genocide. However, the three-member judicial panel ruled 2-1 against that count. Ocampo brought additional information to the ICC over the last 16 months and the genocide charge has now been supported.
Enforcement is challenging. The ICC procedure requires one of two actions: either Bashir has to be turned over to the ICC by his own country, which is highly unlikely, or he needs to be arrested in another country. The second option is rather unlikely as well. He has traveled quite widely since the warrant of 2009, including to countries that have ratified the ICC (which the US has not; 111 nations have ratified...), but he appears to have impunity at this time. It is hoped that nations around the world will respond to the gravity of the charge of genocide and will finally act to apprehend him. Grassroots organizations such as ours and many, many others are urging this action.
BW - The African Union seems to be opposing the ICC arrest warrant. Help our readers understand why and how this opposition might affect the attempt to curtail the actions of the Sudanese military.
EK - A little background: The African Union has had a peacekeeping mission in Darfur for several years. Since 2008 it has been part of UNAMID, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Darfur. Like UN soldiers in this mission, AU soldiers have been targeted by violence and a number of them have been killed.
The AU membership includes many African countries whose leaders support Omar Al-Bashir. At one point, in fact, Bashir was poised to be elected as the AU president. Grassroots protests were responsible for keeping Bashir from that position. However, I mention this to illustrate that Bashir has a certain status among various African nations and this gives him, and his actions, a level of impunity.
BW - There is a debate about which tactic is more effective "quiet diplomacy" or very public actions such as the ICC arrest warrant. Where do you fall on this continuum?
EK - I believe that both approaches are necessary. All forms of diplomacy must be used in situations where human rights have been abrogated. In addition, we must bring an end to impunity for perpetrators, an impunity that allows horrific crimes against innocent people to be possible because the world tolerates these actions. 'Never again' has become 'over and over again.'
BW - Is there a connection between the actions of international bodies such as the ICC and grassroots political organizing? If so could you explain how that process might work both ideally and in some concrete instances.
EK - If you examine the history of the ICC's formation, you'll see that it was in response to the action of key groups in civil society, what you might call 'grassroots political organizing.' Almost all of our important efforts to institutionalize civil rights and human rights are the result of actions of organized groups bringing pressure and action to those who can change the laws.
I'll give you a very local and specific example. A movement began a few years ago, headed by the Sudan Divestment Task Force, a division of Genocide Intervention Network, to have states and other institutions divest portfolios from a targeted list of companies that were complicit in doing business with the Khartoum regime. The Sudan Divestment Task Force was begun by Adam Sterling, who at the time was a junior in college, the grandson of a Holocaust survivor, and an ordinary citizen who felt something needed to be done about Darfur.
I became very interested in this issue. Through our organization, World Without Genocide, we raised significant awareness of the fact that our state's public pension fund of $13 billion had funds that fell into this category. In other words, ordinary Minnesotans' taxes were helping to brutalize men, women, and children in Darfur. We worked with state Sen. Sandy Pappas and Rep. Karen Clark and they co-sponsored a divestment bill in our legislature. In May 2007, Gov. Pawlenty signed it into law. Minnesota became the 13th state in the nation, out of 28 at present, to divest public funds from the targeted companies.
The following Minnesota cities have now divested, based on our bottom-up, grassroots efforts: Minneapolis, St. Paul, Edina, Hopkins, Red Wing, Winona, Virginia.
BW - Socialists think that the deep economic inequalities that exist globally provide a breeding ground for genocide. Other political theories tend to focus on rights at the national level or even ideas about international citizenship. What in your mind is the prime factor in genocidal moments in history.
EK - Genocides are both terribly complicated - and very simple. At one level, they happen because we allow them to happen. Nobody has ever failed to get elected, or re-elected, because of not stopping genocide. There is no political will to bring an end to genocide. I just left Bosnia this afternoon after ten heartbreaking days, including a day at Srebrenica, where 775 more bodies of men and boys were buried after being identified 15 years later through sophisticated DNA analysis. The world watched this genocide in action every day on CNN, yet nothing happened of any consequence for years. The UN Dutch battalion was in Srebrenica, the UN had a base in Sarajevo - and the world let this happen, as we did with Rwanda, the Holocaust, and all the others.
At another level, there are many important factors, one of which is economic inequality. There are many other factors as well: an autocratic government that can control distribution of propaganda and weapons; a lack of integration with the world community that can provide some 'cover' for what occurs; a group that can be identified and targeted in some way (race, religion, ethnicity, national origin) and that can be deprived of its rights by government resource scarcity, especially food, fuel, and water; an increasing and world-wide acceptance of a psychology of violence; political inequality, upheaval, and often the presence of war (think, for example, about the extermination of the Jews during the massive upheaval of World War II, the Cambodian genocide in the context of the Vietnam War, etc.); and increasing distribution of weapons.
A most essential element is the dehumanization of the targeted group. The Jews were labeled 'vermin' and 'lice'; the Tutsis were called 'cockroaches.' When the target is perceived as less than human, as a threat to the body politic, it becomes relatively easy for people to eliminate others because the targeted groups are no longer seen as human beings.
What I do not believe is that perpetrators are evil by birth. I believe that our dispositional characteristics of ethnocentrism, xenophobia, and desire for social control, all techniques we use regularly to organize and navigate our daily lives, can become extreme when situational factors persuade us to obey the rules, the roles, and to act only in our own self-interest and to harm others We all can do terrible things under the wrong circumstances.
BW - Please tell our readers what action they might take to prevent the next genocide.
EK - On a local level, we need to be vigilant within our own communities. Again, examples from Minnesota: there have been hate crimes against both Jews and Somalis in St. Cloud; anti-Semitic symbols scrawled onto a church in Apple Valley; desecrations to a Cambodian temple in Rochester. When we allow hate to exist in our own communities, we are more willing to accept it elsewhere. We need to respond to these acts of discrimination and violence by reaching out to people whose backgrounds and experiences might be different from ours, to understand them, to invite them to understand us, and to build bridges that cross those artificial divides of race, religion, ethnicity, and national origin. We need to avoid stereotyping and 'othering.' We need to report these hateful actions when they occur and to advocate prosecution of the perpetrators, not only perpetrators such as Omar Al-Bashir, but perpetrators within our own neighborhoods and communities. We must not tolerate hate. If we don't tolerate it here, we will not tolerate it 'there,' wherever 'there' might be.
On a global level, we ask people to do several things. Every one of us must take a stand against genocide.
1- Learn about genocides past and present. Our organization, World Without Genocide, offers many lectures, films, workshops, and other ways to become more aware of these challenging human rights situations around the world, from the genocide of the Armenians to present crises in Darfur, Congo, Burma, etc. Without education, we cannot take action.
2- Take action. Sign petitions, call elected officials, talk to other people, vote for candidates who will support human rights issues. There is a toll-free hotline, 1-800-GENOCIDE begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 1-800-GENOCIDE end_of_the_skype_highlighting (800-432-6243). When you dial that number, you'll enter your zip code (the ONLY information you need to know), then 1 to speak to your representative, 2 for your senator (the line goes between the two over the course of a day), or 3 for the White House. You'll hear 'talking points, 'what to say about genocide. Or you can give your own message. These calls are so important, and we've had thousands made from ordinary Minnesotans. Most people don't know who their elected officials are, or how to reach them, or what to say, or they're timid about it. This process is so simple! You don't need to know names; you only need your zip code and then the 1-2-3 option. The person at the other end of the line is not the elected official; it's a college intern.
3- Consider donating to organizations that help innocent people, provide education, or take other forms of action. We recommend our organization for advocacy and action, and we are a registered nonprofit 501c3; organizations such as the American Refugee Committee; the Advocates for Human Rights.
4- Knowledge plus action equals power. We all can learn, act, and then create the political will for a world without genocide.
5. The U.S. is not a signatory to the International Criminal Court. We urge concerned citizens to advocate with their elected officials to have President Obama fulfill his campaign promise of ratification. It is difficult for the U.S. to support President Omar Al-Bashir's arrest by the ICC when the U.S, has not supported the ICC.
We also ask that the U.S. Senate ratify the United Nations Convention to End all forms of Discrimination Against Women (known as CEDAW). Only 7 member nations in the U.N. have not yet ratified this important convention, and the U.S,, is one of them.
In addition, we urge ratification of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child. All but two nations (the U.S. and Somalia) have done so.
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Hey, Democratic candidates: Want to lock down 58 percent of voters with one issue, repeated a dozen times a day for the next 15 weeks?
Just demand the federal government immediately spend however many trillions of dollars it takes to put 12 million Americans back to work.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, also known as the stimulus, has been under heavy attack. Right-wing pundits have spent months railing against it. Most Americans think it was ineffective, and the Obama Administration completely botched the sales job when it over-promised what it would accomplish. Despite all that, a vote for the stimulus package seems unlikely to be a political negative, according to a new Selzer & Co. poll for Bloomberg News. Advocating more government spending to create new jobs would make a candidate more appealing to most Americans. When asked how the following positions would affect support for a candidate:
An amazing 58 percent of Americans would be more likely to vote for candidates who support increasing government spending to promote jobs, and less than a quarter of Americans would be turned off by that position. The public really does want New Deal- style government activism to produce much-needed jobs during this recession.
The real political kiss of death is not the stimulus package or deficit fears, but bailouts like TARP. Having voted for that is a real negative. The American people are strongly opposed to the bank bailout, with the Bloomberg/Selzer poll showing 58 percent of people feeling it is was an unneeded give away to Wall Street.
Not only would most Americans be more supportive of politicians promoting government spending to bring down unemployment but they also think it is far more important than worrying about the deficit. The overwhelming majority, 70 percent, think reducing unemployment should be the top priority of the government, instead of reducing the deficit, which only 28 percent think should be the top concern.
We learn from this poll that people support government spending to create jobs, even if it requires ignoring the deficit in the short term. We also know from political science that increasing employment and average disposable income really helps the party in power politically. So, armed with these facts, Democrats have instead abandoned efforts to use government spending to increase employment and instead are in a tizzy about the deficit. No one should be surprised that November is shaping up to be very bad month for Democrats.
They have again chosen to embrace bad policy, which is also terrible politics. Of course it is we "immature" progressive bloggers, who have been arguing for the smart policy and even better politics, direct government spending on job creation, who are ignoring the looming political disaster facing House Democrats who embrace the White House's terrible decisions.
If you're a Democratic challenger, blast your repug opponent for opposing jobs and a growing economy. This is easy because every republican incumbent opposed the stimulus and every republican candidate still opposes any spending to create jobs.
If you're a Democratic incumbent, blast your repug opponent for being a member of the party that blocks every attempt by you to create jobs and grow the economy.
And if you're a Blue Dog scumbag who in a supreme act of political suicide voted against creating jobs? Fuck off and die. I'd rather be gutted face-to-face by repugs than back-stabbed by the likes of you.
Cross-posted at Blue in the Bluegrass ....
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Another bit of wisdom from the devious mind of Yellowdog Granny.
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As you probably know by now, the NAACP has asked the organizations known as "Tea Parties", to disavow any racism among their groups and separate themselves from those who exhibit such racist tendencies. This is a reasonable request since there has been at least a racist element among the teabaggers since their beginnings. It doesn't take a genius to figure this out -- just read the signs at any teabagger rally.
But instead of disavowing racism and getting rid of their racist members, the teabagger organizations have decided to act like their is no racism among them -- a laughable suggestion at best since the racism displayed at these rallies is not even under the surface. It is open and in your face.
Take for example Mark Williams, current spokesman (and former chairman), of the Tea Party Express. He not only denies the existence of any racists among the teabaggers, he says it is "impossible" for there to be any! When questioned about the racist signs seen at nearly every teabagger rally, Williams blames them on a group called Crash The Tea Party. He overlooks the fact that the signs had been showing up at teabagger rallies for a year before the idea for this group even happened (plus the fact that these counter-protesters never even materialized).
Crash The Tea Party is just a straw horse that Williams uses to hang his denials on. But even without the racist signs, all Williams has to do to see a teabagger racist is look in the mirror. Just read this fake letter that he posted on his blog (supposedly from NAACP president Benjamin Jealous):
"Dear Mr. Lincoln,We [National Association for the Advancement of] Colored People have taken a vote and decided that we don't cotton to that whole emancipation thing. Freedom means having to work for real, think for ourselves, and take consequences along with the rewards. That is just far too much to ask of us [National Association for the Advancement of] Colored People and we demand that it stop!"
Now I ask, aren't those the words of a racist? Isn't it obviously racist to infer that African-Americans don't want to work or think for themselves? Then Williams goes even further and accuses the NAACP of being a "vile racist group" (even though their membership has always been open to all races). He says they are "professional race baiters" who "make more money off of race than any slave trader ever."
Vile is a word Williams should apply to himself. How could he stoop so low as to compare the NAACP (who accept donations to fight racism in all its forms) to slave traders who pocketed profits of the debasement and enslavement of their fellow human beings? Williams leaves little doubt of his racism.
If the teabaggers were smart they would indeed separate themselves from the members who display such an open and hateful brand of racism. But I'm not sure they could do that at this point. It has been an integral part of them since the beginning.
NOTE -- The picture above is of one of the leaders of a Texas teabagger organization.
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Political Cartoon is by Steve Benson in the Arizona Republic.
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