Thursday, January 31, 2008
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
The Colonial Agenda
With the US, Canada, and New Zealand comprising the only member states of the UN officially opposed to the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, it is not surprising to see mainstream American media now undermining these human rights in the guise of promoting them (a basic psywar technique). MSNBC editors know that most people only read headlines, and that by burying any “balance” in an article toward the end or in a follow-up story on another day, the impression most readers are left with is the headline. Since Americans are probably the worst informed society on earth — or maybe just the most gullible — keeping them ignorant is child’s play. See for yourself if this headline isn’t more than a little misleading.
Dual citizenship of ancient nations poses many challenges, most stemming from systematically divisive colonial structures that prevented democratic development. Given a chance to work things out for themselves, indigenous peoples are already advancing human rights worldwide.
MSNBC could have said that, but they didn’t. That wouldn’t suit the colonial agenda.
Saturday, January 26, 2008
Leading the Way
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
As such, the individuals involved in protecting this nascent process function as informal guardians of those who are regularly punished for their good deeds. Until the Americas become societies where our best and brightest are honored and nurtured, rather than marginalized and deprived, there will be a need to shield the good-hearted from the poisonous ideas and ruthless brutality of those who abuse power in our countries.
It is our intent that the ideas expressed in the discussions hosted on Skookum, and on our other sites listed in the sidebar under Access, will serve as shields for those who choose to act on their conscience to create a better world. As warriors and shield-makers, there is no greater honor than to find we've helped in that regard. If we've helped you, kindly let us know. e-mail: Jay Taber, Skookum editor, firstname.lastname@example.org
*Skookum participants are pro-democracy, anti-fraud, and peace partisan. Public Good is an archive of our consultations and interventions. Skookum Index is a collection of our best stuff, as well as that of our associates, colleagues and friends whom we count on for guidance, advice and moral support. Included in the collection on Scribd are pdfs of some of Jay's essential essays and commentary.
(Besides serving as a contributing editor of Fourth World Journal, Jay writes a regular column for Intercontinental Cry. You can listen to him speak about the Fourth World and the Fourth Estate here.)
A Very Important Gift
One of the tasks and obligations often overlooked in the frantic vertigo of modern life, is the act and ceremony of honoring those who bring honor and inspiration to others who struggle to tell the stories we need to survive. As an associate scholar of CWIS, I have been blessed by many mentors — intentional as well as accidental — but recently discovered a colleague who deserves special mention for his work. As observed in an article by Sandra Sarr, Michael Pavel, Associate Professor at Washington State University, is someone who has been given a very important gift, and perhaps more importantly, has developed the art and craft of honoring to a high degree.
Take a moment to read about what honoring means to Dr. Pavel, and see if you don’t agree.
Monday, January 21, 2008
Saturday, January 19, 2008
Still, we're glad that the two ringleaders of resistance to transparency and accountability are gone from the board. Now, what about the rest?
Thursday, January 17, 2008
In the case of New College of California, unfortunately, what we have is a mess. A mess that hasn't been cleaned up in thirty years.
In its latest of numerous scathing indictments of the school, the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (the accrediting agency) has issued a detailed report of the ongoing misfeasance by administrators and malfeasance by trustees in terms of academic, financial, and ethical mismanagement. To quote the suppressed report leaked to students just yesterday, "The prospects for success are dim."
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Stonewalling Stymies Students
As things heat up, with lawyers showing up at faculty meetings to talk about trustee liability for financial damages, and students apparently ready to walk out in protest over trustee stonewalling, we expect fireworks by February.
Friday, January 11, 2008
Irony and Paradox
Finding humanity in places where I'd least expect it, as well as experiencing its betrayal from quarters where I'd hoped for better, has tempered my expectations while simultaneously giving me encouragement. As I acknowledge the need to find hope somewhere among the ruins of human relations, I am repeatedly reminded by natural, uncoerced acts, that perhaps generosity is a more authentic attribute than selfishness, and that cruelty is thus contrary to the order of things.
Living within the boundaries of a TV empire, yet nourished by an indigenous culture that produced the mind of Momaday and sense of Silko, I can fully appreciate the development of my longtime friends as we walk together through the forest of forlorn kin and kind. Working with fellow imperfect beings in an already perfect world only accentuates my reliance on them as perpetual patterns woven inexorably into the fabric of my existence.
Wednesday, January 09, 2008
From Humble Beginnings
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
Monday, January 07, 2008
--Carlos Fuentes, A New Time for Mexico
Sunday, January 06, 2008
Orthodoxy of Radicalism
A while back, I recounted how my political science curricular proposal, Communication for Change, had been hijacked by a washed up professor trying to hold on to his prestigious teaching position, but plagiarism is the least of the damage he apparently wrought. I have since encountered some of the graduates of the Activism and Social Change program he took charge of, and was sadly disappointed at the orthodoxy of radicalism associated with what I call the moral theatrics industry.
At the heart of the problem, I am convinced, is activism as a career, as opposed to activism as a civic duty. Those who view civic involvement as a way to make a living will naturally adopt doctrinaire tactics oriented toward philanthropic marketing, rather than painfully examine strategies for achieving a public benefit. Unfortunately, for those absorbed in pious posturing, this distinction is largely lost in the rhetoric.
One of the habitual tactics of this corporate activism is the perpetual building of paper coalitions –- frequently described as supporters, allies, or affinity groups -– supposedly to convey a working combination that wields political clout. Usually unexamined or fictitious, these combinations mostly signify delusions of grandeur, and are illustrative of a fairly common desire to appropriate a sense of cohesion that doesn't exist—often expressed as solidarity within a vaguely defined movement. Mostly, it serves as a fetish or pointless distraction.
Coalitions, like other tools of community organizing, should be used when they help make you more effective. Same with non-profit corporate status, litigation, or lobbying. When they simply drain limited energies and other resources, they should be avoided.
Having managed litigation for a coalition of non-profits for five years, I know from experience how much energy goes into keeping a real coalition together. Better for each organization to work individually, than to add to already demanding administrative tasks. Of course, if they're just paper allies, the whole exercise is just another fruitless distraction—something career activists seemingly spend a lot of time on.
Careerism is certainly a draw to political activists, but an even greater appeal, I think, is the prestigious identity associated with activism. What I find fascinating about this (and it very much applies to my alma mater and the plethora of Bay Area producers of moral theatrics) is that they simultaneously conform to the capitalist framework of social discontent-–a very predictable, very controllable, very ineffective commodity.
It takes a long time for people to unlearn useless information and ineffective practices, especially when they learned them as part of an alternative education they believed to be avant-garde learning for social change. In the meantime, they mostly get in the way.