Re: Of gooseberries, underground "professional" writing & Ashcroft
- Subject: Re: Of gooseberries, underground "professional" writing & Ashcroft
- From: "George N. Schmidt" <Csubstance@AOL.COM>
- Date: Mon, 22 Jan 2001 07:18:47 EST
- Reply-to: Assessment Reform Network Mailing List <ARN-L@LISTS.CUA.EDU>
- Sender: Assessment Reform Network Mailing List <ARN-L@LISTS.CUA.EDU>
In a message dated 1/21/01 8:37:06 AM, ShopMathEdu@AOL.COM writes:
<< (and pardon the ornery mood) >>
January 22, 2001
Hello Steve (and everyone else)...
No problem with your ornery mood, Steve. We're going to need to stay ornery,
healthy, and clear headed in the years to come. Just as more of us should
have stayed healthy, clear headed, and sharp eyes during the years that just
But pardon me if I don't get as upset that people are joking here about
produce and the price of milk. Such things are as relevant as discussions of
"validity," "reliability", and the other jargon notions the priests of the
testocracy have cooked up to keep us heathens from reading scripture in the
original and discussing things a bit more generally.
I think people should discuss cabinet picks like Chavez and Ashcroft (after
all, Rod Paige will soon be dispensing favors to the Checker Finns and Bill
Bennetts of the world -- instead of to the Paul Vallases and Richard M.
And we can also be discussing the price of fruit...
And we can reflect on the analogies (proper or not, it does depend on your
point of view) to the history of other closed systems, no matter how far back
in the depths of the soul of the last century...
But there needs to be some consistency.
One of the things that's always frustrated me is how much self righteousness
gets generated from the "Left". It at least matches the zealotry that comes
from the much maligned "Religious Right."
So... Let's see how people like this one.
I have always supported Roe v. Wade and the various expansions of human
rights that were born and brought into law since my generation became active
in politics. I was out front and taking risks on some of these things long
before they became fashionable and profitable and don't even have to go over
who was on the front lines (very few of us) and who was safely elsewhere
(most of those who profited from our struggles).
I've also been a kind of fundamentalist where the Bill of Rights is
concerned. I was out front on those things, too, for at least as long. I
think Billy Graham and Billy Swaggert -- and Christie Hefner, Bob Guccione,
and Larry Flint -- have as much right to the protections of the First
Amendment as the rest of us do, although I don't agree with much of what they
preach and print.
It's just consistency that always seems a component of justice and is often
As far as I'm concerned, the Clinton administration did as much damage to the
Bill of Rights as any administration in my lifetime. The double-talk and
nonsense in the salons of power was as offensive as the Democratic flame
throwers at Waco and the Democratic injunctions and writs of seizure in the
United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern
Chicago is as much of a closed system today as it was when I was on Michigan
Ave getting chased and gassed (and up in Lincoln Park, and elsewhere) in May
and August 1968. And elsewhere later.
Chicago's political, secret police, and paramilitary apparatuses are as
sordid today as they were at any previous time in history. The difference
today is that Chicago has learned that you can buy a lot of silence and a lot
of heavy public relations if you spread $100,000 per year jobs around from
Left to Right. Richard J. Daley never had the sanctimonious support of so
many "progressives" because it took his son to realize you could buy a lot
for very little if you were shopping hard enough. To give one precise
example. Thousands of kids have been driven out of Chicago's public schools
since the Daley dictatorship took over in 1995. Thousands of others have been
expelled under very inequitable "zero tolerance" policies since then. And two
major corporations (ADM and Caterpillar) raped the tax base of one small
central Illinois working class town during those same years.
Yet the attention of 'progressive' America (and the media who control the
reality people perceive) two years ago was focused on the alleged racial
injustices faced by a group of small town thugs (most of them gang bangers)
in Decatur, Illinois. All that energy could be considered a diversion, since
it went in one direction instead of towards the much greater injustices
heaped on thousands of other minority children (the victims of "ending social
promotion" and "zero tolerance") up here in Chicago -- or the fundamental
economic injustices that flowed from the corporate destruction of places like
I'm not going to go on too much longer, but I'm feeling ornery, too...
The nasty work at Fort Benning was going on for the eight years from January
1993 to January 2001, or did I miss something? Didn't the Commander in Chief
of the United States Armed Forces have some power over the School of the
Americas, or was it the Republicans who ran the Army from 1993 to 2001?
We had problems with tyrants, militarists and segregationists 40 and 50 years
ago. We have similar problems now. The difference is that many of those who
had a clear eye about those problems 40 and 50 years ago have grown a kind of
ideological cataracts since their adjusted gross incomes increased to the
point where they were in the top ten or fifteen percent of the people within
the USA and in the top one or two percent of the people on the planet.
One of the main problems we're facing today is that the "rights" that get
defended now that we've emerged from the 1990s slumber have been narrowed
from the old ones. The people who founded this nation thought that religion,
speech, press, assembly, and petition were central. We've added others, all
those more fashionable ones that grew up after the "movements" of the 1960s
and 1970s. And the people who articulated those new rights have gone to work
in law offices, not-for-profits, and universities (but not for the most part
in inner city classrooms, on assembly lines, or in the fields where the plums
and kiwis are picked...). I've got nothing against the expansions of human
rights and civil rights. I just wonder why the old ones had to be left behind
in the process.
I'm still waiting for Chicago's so-called "progressives" to complain about
the fact that their favorite mayor and their favorite (union busting,
privatizing) "school reform" school board fired a teacher for editing a
newspaper and has ruthlessly suppressed all critics. Them's Democrats did
those things. If you go to a City Council meeting at City Hall in Chicago,
there is only one Republican out of our 50 aldermen and women. Not one
Republican heads a municipal or county department here. No Bush in sight. As
to the Who, What, When, Where and Why of our survival (a bit of concern, in
this context) -- we've gotten more concrete support from average people (most
of whom spend part of every Sunday singing hymns) than from the
"progressives" who complained loudest (and most elitistly) about how Dubya's
dumb and crude and capitalistical.
Most of the people here in Chicago who are now complaining about the Bush
administration's potential abuses of human rights and about the appointments
and prospects we're seeing in the Cabinet have been publicly quiet about our
local Democratic Party administration's rape of the First Amendment in the
Substance case. They've been both quiet and tightfisted about my firing, and
about the five-year attack on children and teachers under the guise of
"school reform" in Chicago. Some have even publicly defended Vallas, Daley,
and the people who've helped increase their net worth through easy patronage
jobs, steered foundation grants, direct consultant work, and indirect
Hypocrisy goes both ways in these things.
Consistency is a virtue liberals and progressives could use more of. I don't
think that "compassionate conservatism" is any more of an Oxymoron than
Chicago "School Reform."
I just happened to come into these struggles in my youth. That was during the
administration of a "Democratic Party" tyrant from Texas (Lyndon Johnson). I
cut my protest teeth (almost getting them broken more than once; my nose was
broken three times in those deals and finally had to be rebuilt) in Chicago.
Chicago was run back then (1960s and 1970s) by one of the most totalitarian
political organizations outside of the Deep South. Both the Southern
Democratic Party machines and the Cook County Democratic Party machine had a
lot of white supremacy and other things in common. (Remember the "Solid
Little actually changed for the better for people at the economic "bottom"
during the 1990s. I taught in the public school classrooms in ZIP Codes like
60612, 60624, 60617, 60644, and the west end of 60615 during those years (the
east end of that ZIP is the University of Chicago; the west end Robert
Taylor). Anyone with access to some mass marketing data bases knows what
those numbers mean. Check the real estate transaction histories for the
ten-year details. The schools stayed segregated and underfunded. Thanks to
the federal governments (Republican 1981-1993, Democratic 1993-2001) of the
1980s and 1990s (most importantly, the hypocritical war on drugs and the even
more hypocritical "welfare reform"), crack cocaine financed a plague of
violence that produced a generation of young people all of whom suffer some
form of post-traumatic stress disorder.
And the two foreign wars America fought (if memory serves right, one in Iraq
and Kuwait under a Republican; one in the former Yugoslavia under our
favorite philandering "progressive" white guy charm your pants off your butt
Democrat) were pretty brutal to the human beings on the ground. For all of
the negative campaigning and carefully orchestrated public relations, Saddam
Hussein and Slobodan Milosevic survived the onslaught of the Old Republicans
and the New Democrats quite nicely. Millions of others paid the price for our
hubris and self-righteousness.
How did this happen?
Let's weigh in with one alternative point of view. It has to do with the
articulate people who write the books and make the videos that reflect the
"reality" others are then made to perceive.
By the mid 1990s, a lot of people who once marched against war, imperialism,
segregation, racism, male supremacy, and injustice in their youth were now
happily reforming the world while their Ivy League classmates went in and out
of the Cabinet in Washington and in and out of the liberal punditocracy
ranging from the New Republic to the New Yorker. (I'm talking here, for
example, of one of the lawyers who sold us out in the Substance case and who
still trails a reputation as a "friend of labor"...).
I think we need to discuss all of these things here, based on both fact and
You can be ornery, Steve.
But I just bet that the people who tried to run you out of Birmingham (and
who did run you out of Birmingham's public schools) are in the same political
party that just won the popular vote and lost the electoral one. It's really
cool that people are getting worked up against the latest Texas dictator to
become chief executive of the USA. Let's just not ignore facts and history as
we move into the next phase of the eternal struggle for a little bit better
There is lots to do today. Let's just remind ourselves that the mainstream
has been a pretty nasty place for the majority of people, especially for
those without stock portfolios who live outside America's borders and who
more and more are getting to add to the net worth of those few -- Republican
and Democrat -- who were privileged enough to get on the gravy train before
it began slowing down.
I have other things to do today. Thanks for your time.
5132 W. Berteau
Chicago, IL 60641
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