Jeff Chang & Brian Komar:Culture Before Politics-Strong Advise for Progressives

Jeff Chang

Jeff Chang and Brian Komar of the Center For American Progress teamed up for this new piece in The American Prospect, “Culture Before Politics”, making the case that progressives need to build the infrastructure to support cultural strategy and cultural organizing.

 

Here’s an excerpt:

On Nov. 3, progressives awoke to find that they had returned to 2004. Despite important legislative victories, Democrats had been outflanked. Republicans had successfully sold themselves as the party of economic growth, the party of the angry out-of-work American, and, most dissonantly, the party of change. They owned the narrative and won big.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. In the dark days following George W. Bush’s re-election, frustrated progressives set out to build an enduring movement that would effectively advance and communicate their ideas, policies, and values. Funders and strategists created new institutions and scaled up existing ones, including think tanks, civic-engagement organizations, and media-watchdog groups. These institutions played a key role in the 2006 Democratic takeover of Congress, the 2008 election of President Barack Obama, and the passage of parts of the Obama platform in 2009 and 2010.

Yet as progressives watched Democrats suffer the worst election loss since the Republican collapse of 1948, they seemed to be back where they started. Just as in 2004, many have blamed the losses on ineffective Democratic campaign messaging.

The problem, however, runs much deeper. Electoral and Beltway politics are episodic, short-term, and transactional. Movements, however, are long-term. “Public sentiment is everything,” Abraham Lincoln once said. “With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it nothing can succeed. Consequently, he who moulds public sentiment goes deeper than he who enacts statutes or pronounces decisions. He makes statutes and decisions possible or impossible to be executed.” In other words, movements must change hearts and minds in an enduring way. They must change the culture.

Culture is the space in our national consciousness filled by music, books, sports, movies, theater, visual arts, and media. It is the realm of ideas, images, and stories — the narrative in which we are immersed every day. It is where people make sense of the world, where ideas are introduced, values are inculcated, and emotions are attached to concrete change.

Cultural change is often the dress rehearsal for political change. Or put in another way, political change is the final manifestation of cultural shifts that have already occurred.

Jackie Robinson’s 1947 Major League Baseball debut preceded Brown v. Board of Education by seven years. Ellen DeGeneres’ coming-out on her TV sitcom preceded the first favorable court ruling on same-sex marriage by eight years. Until progressives make culture an integral and intentional part of their theory of change, they will not be able to compete effectively against conservatives…

Read the entire piece here.

 

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Pearl Harbor-We Remember the Innocent Japanese-Americans Who Were Rounded Up By Our Government

Today December 7th is the 69th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor Attacks. As was said back in 1941 by then President Franklin D Roosevelt it was ‘a day that will live in infamy‘. What also will live in infamy is the often overlooked plight that fell upon American citizens of Japanese decent. President Roosevelt fearing espionage issued executive order Executive Order 9066, in February of 1942 which led to the FBI and other government agencies rounding-up Japanese Americans, seizing their property  and locked them up what was called War Relocation Camps.  These internment camps which were essentially prisons became home to over 120 thousand Japanese American citizens many who had served our country, were productive citizens and pillars in the community. Sadly in our collective hysteria and us being in the midst of extra-ordinary times and feeling a need to take extra-ordinary measures.  we saw fit to lock up ( the word used back in 1941 was ‘evacuate) American citizens who fit a certain ethnic profile wholesale. It was a shameful moment for our country.

Could such a thing happen today in 2010? There were laws passed to supposedly prevent such things from re-occuring, but it sure seemed like that after the dreadful 9-11 attacks. If you recall there were all sorts of violent attacks against fellow citizens perceived as being Muslim. Some said the threats of another terrorist attack was so grave that ‘extra-ordinary measures needed to be taken including profiling, spying, indefinite detaining  and even confinement.

Periodically in the years that followed where hatred toward fellow American citizens who practice Islam have taken some nasty turns including a few months ago around the proposed building of an Islamic Community Center near Ground Zero. We had TV pundits and elected officials including a sitting congressman Louie Gohmert trying to scare the public about the imminent threats of Terror Babies’ being unleashed. These terror babies were the American born children of Muslims who were taken out the country shortly after birth, trained to be terrorists and sent back to the US  when they turned 18 to destroy our way of life. Hence it was strongly urged that we pass laws, change our constitution and take ‘extra-ordinary‘ steps do whatever it takes to protect ourselves.

Could internment camps happen today in 2010? Well many argue you see that’s what’s been happening now with undocumented people here in the states. There are numerous detention centers all over the country, that have held entire families including small children, the most notable was the T. Don Hutto Detention Center in Texas which was closed down sometime last year.

Now many would argue in 2010 with the same black and white vehemence expressed back in 1941, that our country is at risk and folks who don’t belong here or haven’t gotten their paper work straight need to be locked up-end of story.

Hopefully we remember the shame and harm done to fellow Americans after Pearl Harbor  and never travel down that path again no matter how big the crises.

Below is a song from Mike Shinoda of Linkin park and his other group Fort Minor. The song Kenji addresses this important issue

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Ckvmc_486U

Mike Shinoda and his group Fort Minor did a song paying tribute to those Japanese -Americans interned at War Re-Location Camps Fort Minor – Kenji

Lyrics
My father came from Japan in 1905
He was 15 when he immigrated from Japan
He worked until he was able to buy to actually build a store

Let me tell you the story in the form of a dream,
I don’t know why I have to tell it but I know what it means,
Close your eyes, just picture the scene,
As I paint it for you, it was World War II,
When this man named Kenji woke up,
Ken was not a soldier,
He was just a man with a family who owned a store in LA,
That day, he crawled out of bed like he always did,
Bacon and eggs with wife and kids,
He lived on the second floor of a little store he ran,
He moved to LA from Japan,
They called him ‘Immigrant,’
In Japanese, he’d say he was called “Issei,”
That meant ‘First Generation In The United States,’
When everybody was afraid of the Germans, afraid of the Japs,
But most of all afraid of a homeland attack,
And that morning when Ken went out on the doormat,
His world went black ’cause,
Right there; front page news,
Three weeks before 1942,
“Pearl Harbour’s Been Bombed And The Japs Are Comin’,”
Pictures of soldiers dyin’ and runnin’,
Ken knew what it would lead to,
Just like he guessed, the President said,
“The evil Japanese in our home country will be locked away,”
They gave Ken, a couple of days,
To get his whole life packed in two bags,
Just two bags, couldn’t even pack his clothes,
Some folks didn’t even have a suitcase, to pack anything in,
So two trash bags is all they gave them,
When the kids asked mom “Where are we goin’?”
Nobody even knew what to say to them,
Ken didn’t wanna lie, he said “The US is lookin’ for spies,
So we have to live in a place called Manzanar,
Where a lot of Japanese people are,”
Stop it don’t look at the gunmen,
You don’t wanna get the soldiers wonderin’,
If you gonna run or not,
‘Cause if you run then you might get shot,
Other than that try not to think about it,
Try not to worry ’bout it; bein’ so crowded,
Someday we’ll get out, someday, someday.

As soon as war broke out
The F.B.I. came and they just come to the house and
“You have to come”
“All the Japanese have to go”
They took Mr. Ni
People didn’t understand
Why did they have to take him?
Because he’s an innocent laborer

So now they’re in a town with soldiers surroundin’ them,
Every day, every night look down at them,
From watch towers up on the wall,
Ken couldn’t really hate them at all;
They were just doin’ their job and,
He wasn’t gonna make any problems,
He had a little garden with vegetables and fruits that,
He gave to the troops in a basket his wife made,
But in the back of his mind, he wanted his families life saved,
Prisoners of war in their own damn country,
What for?
Time passed in the prison town,
He wanted them to live it down when they were free,
The only way out was joinin’ the army,
And supposedly, some men went out for the army, signed on,
And ended up flyin to Japan with a bomb,
That 15 kiloton blast, put an end to the war pretty fast,
Two cities were blown to bits; the end of the war came quick,
Ken got out, big hopes of a normal life, with his kids and his wife,
But, when they got back to their home,
What they saw made them feel so alone,
These people had trashed every room,
Smashed in the windows and bashed in the doors,
Written on the walls and the floor,
“Japs not welcome anymore.”
And Kenji dropped both of his bags at his sides and just stood outside,
He, looked at his wife without words to say,
She looked back at him wiping tears away,
And, said “Someday we’ll be ok, someday,”
Now the names have been changed, but the story’s true,
My family was locked up back in ’42,
My family was there it was dark and damp,
And they called it an internment camp

When we first got back from camp
It was pretty pretty bad

I I remember my husband

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FBI Informant Infiltrates Mosque Causes Drama: How To Spot an Agent in Your Organization

A couple of weeks ago we ran this article on how to spot an agent in your organization and decided to run it again after seeing this recent article in the Washington Post called Tension grows between Calif. Muslims, FBI after informant infiltrates mosque.

 

Craig Monteilh

In this Washington Post article they point out how a man with a criminal record Craig Monteilh was set loose on a unsuspecting Mosque in Irving california where he became disruptive and started talking about getting violent and Jihad..

They said the informants talk was so outrageous that the people he was supposed to be spying on called and got a restraining order against him.. Here’s an excerpt from that article..

The undercover FBI informant – a convicted forger named Craig Monteilh – then drove off for 5 a.m. prayers at the Islamic Center of Irvine, where he says he spied on dozens of worshipers in a quest for potential terrorists.

Since the 2001 terrorist attacks, the FBI has used informants successfully as one of many tactics to prevent another strike in the United States. Agency officials say they are careful not to violate civil liberties and do not target Muslims.

But the FBI’s approach has come under fire from some Muslims, criticism that surfaced again late last month after agents arrested an Oregon man they said tried to detonate a bomb at a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony. FBI technicians had supplied the device.

In the Irvine case, Monteilh’s mission as an informant backfired. Muslims were so alarmed by his talk of violent jihad that they obtained a restraining order against him.

continue reading Washington Post article HERE

As you read this article and see the tactics used on the Mosque take a look at the article below written by author Supreme Understanding who lays out a number of tactics that are often used when agents infiltrate organizations and why..The new cointel-pro is not only here its deeply embedded and constantly being refined…Also its interesting to note when you look up the phrase agent provocateur in Google search what emerges are ads and photos for perfume and lingerie-go figure..

-Davey D-

How to Spot and Agent?

by Supreme Understanding

http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/notes/supreme-understanding-supremedesignonline/how-to-spot-an-agent/464236052290

Author Supreme Understanding

I’m sick and tired of watching good groups fail because of the wicked people who are still being sent among us. Moreso because of our failure to respond appropriately to these wicked people. I don’t blame them so much as I blame us for not doing anything about them. But we who are intelligent people should be wise enough to know that COINTELPRO still exists, both online and in real life. Yet very rarely do I hear about people being “run from among us” nowadays. So we know that they’re here, yet we continue to let them do their work? They’re not gathering info. They’re making us fall apart. And my survey says that they’re being highly successful. So if you can use this to improve your organization, please do so. If not, I’ve said my part. Here’s some qualities to look for, when you are wondering if someone is an agent provacateur:

  1. They bring confusion and chaos with them. Everytime they come around, it’s drama.
  2. They keep discussions and productivity at a stalemate. They’d rather keep debating than engaging the community you’re supposed to serve.
  3. They focus on impertinent theoretical points of contention as serious sources of conflict. It’s never about the people or the work. It’s always about some ideas, structures, philosophy, or abstract concept.
  4. They create/increase tribalism and intensify pre-existing organizational dissatisfaction. Whatever issues you had, they root them out and make them grow.
  5. They don’t have reputable sources or references for where they come from. Nobody knows them where they say they came from, or they can’t even tell you who can vouch for them. Anyone with more than 5 years of involvement in any community should have good references. Anyone with less than 5 years experiences should not be in a position to dictate or distract.
  6. Many have short bursts of vigorous activity, not long histories of continuous (documented/verifiable) growth and development. They come in, make a mess, then disappear to enjoy their plea deal, stipend, etc…or to move on to another org. Because we have little cross-organizational communication, they can sometimes do the same thing to 3 or 4 orgs in a row. So many of them are organization-hoppers.
  7. Others claim long histories, even claiming “birthrights” of some sort, as a means to establish authority. Yet these claims rarely hold up under further investigation. For example, some agents who were outed by the Church Committee had claimed to be “born into” the organizations and groups they’d later infiltrated. Oh, by the way, I’m a historical researcher. Everything in this list is based on extensive research on publicly-identified agent provocateurs, as well as the documented methods used by COINTELPRO, the CIA, the “hip hop police” etc.
  8. They have ambiguous sources of income. They may be on the payroll, but they’re posing as an independent hustler of some sort, or working in some office building you can’t visit.
  9. They came from prison or worked in the military or law enforcement in the past (or the present, if u dig deep enough). They may be working in exchange for reduced time/plea agreement/special assignment.
  10. They turn around all questions about them into attacks on the questioner. They create scapegoats, red herrings, and target people who may be onto them.
  11. They build alliances with weak-minded dissatisfied people through shared vices, financial generosity, or a sense of solidarity. Do you smoke with em and give em a free pass on their transgressions?
  12. They also “give” as a means of establishing authority and legitimacy. Some even give “knowledge” to an extent that it blurs their allegiances, making less critical-minded people believe they “must” be on the side of good, since they share so much “good information.” But even this can be a ruse. If the information does not serve to liberate people, empower the community (regular people, that is), and engender social change, then they are doing NOTHING to disturb the status quo.
  13. These people don’t tend to be primary sources either. They simply get credit by “sharing” or transmitting information and ideas created by others. Yet these people also tend to “modify” this info as well, significantly affecting the end result.
  14. They act like zealots but aren’t zealous about social change. You’ll never see them go this hard when it comes to helping regular people.
  15. They want power and control, but demonstrate no ability to use this power or control for the good of others. Once they have acquired enough authority, it’s all gonna get burned to the ground.
  16. They are masters of manipulation, but never teach others how to manipulate the system. But watch how they can twist, spin, and distort everything that comes their way. It takes TRAINING to be that good. And there are actually programs that train people on how to do this.

FYI, I’m not talking about people who are stupid and don’t know how to act right. I’m talking about people who are clear, consistent, and CONSCIOUSLY working to undermine and neutralize progress. It’s not impossible to distinguish the former from the latter. And typically, the former acts that way because they are following the lead of the latter.

Also, let’s be clear. Agents are no longer gathering information, unless your org. is HIGHLY proactive and doing intensive work in the community…so let’s stop this talk of “They can come and take whatever notes they want…and I’ma teach em.” No. Most agents now are simply working to keep orgs at a STANDSTILL. Mired in debate, hate, and wait. Read that again. DEBATE, HATE, and/or WAIT. Through these three mechanisms, they do their job QUITE effectively.

What do you do if someone has many of these characteristics? If your org has a structure for calling someone to attention and letting them know their actions are creating a disturbance, then it’s time to gather the people who can call that meeting and notify that person. Either they will (A) become belligerent and threaten physical harm, (B) respond quietly and soon disappear, or (C) continue doing the same. If they disappear, notify other orgs about them, because that person may be headed their way. If they do (A) or (C), proceed to whatever is “level 2” of your org’s protocol for dealing with serious offenders. Just know that the person is NOT someone with a misunderstanding, or someone who just doesn’t get it yet. If you are effective in explaining your concerns (as a collective) and they PERSIST, it should be clear that they are not naieve. They are acting purposefully and willfully, and it is YOUR collective failure if you allow this behavior to exist, remain, thrive, and destroy everything around it.

I’m just one man speaking, but I had to say something because it’s getting out of control in some places. I hope people will take notice and DO something. Beyond what I’ve said above, it’s important we establish some cross-cultural/cross-organizational communication. I propose that we identify, by name and picture, those individuals we run out of our groups, so that when they come to another group, we will know not to accept this person in with open arms. I’d love to some sort of online agent provocateur database (like www.whosarat.com), but that presents too much potential for abuse and misuse. In lieu of that, we should AT LEAST engage in (a) teaching awareness of the above, (b) background checks on new people coming to our groups, (c) some checks and balances for people trying to leverage power and authority, (d) an investigation and response protocol for people causing repeated disturbances, and (e) cross-organizational communication for people who have been rooted out.

Tag anyone you know who is involved with an organization/group/culture that is serious about the community, and who would benefit from this perspective.

Thank you,

Supreme Understanding

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