Women Who Care About Women Don’t Bat For Team Patriarchy

December 14, 2012

By Jacqueline S. Homan, Author of Classism For Dimwits and Divine Right: The Truth is a Lie

A “feminist” scolded her sisters for being righteously indignant about the capo-like behavior of patriarchy’s handmaidens and honorary men, saying that being critical of women who deliberately throw their sisters under the wheels of patriarchy’s shit train distracts from the primary focus of feminism. She says that discrediting these capos doesn’t do anything to help women as a class.

Well, I have a LOT to say about that.

Although it’s true that women didn’t initiate patriarchy, and although it’s also true that some women’s bad behavior is not the same as men’s behavior under male supremacy because of the undeniable power differential, failing to publicly discredit honorary men does a far greater disservice to feminism and to women as a class by giving these handmaidens a free pass just because “they’re women, too.”

Women who use their relative, albeit male-bequeathed, privileges to slam the glass ceiling’s trap door shut on all their other sisters, hurting disempowered and marginalized women the most, and who are NOT challenged for it by feminists, isolate and silence women whom they are consciously and deliberately helping the patriarchy to oppress and crush underfoot. It is women like that, especially if they claim to be feminists (which is supposed to be about liberating ALL women from male oppression) who are harming the feminist mission of women’s liberation — far more so than the het women and libfems who are fighting in the trenches for women’s liberation from male-imposed PIV and childbirth chattel slavery.

What would a poor, homeless teen girl think about “feminists” and feminism in general if women like Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, Sharron Angle, or Kathleen Passidomo are given a free pass by feminists for using their positions of power and privilege within patriarchy to force her to give birth to her rapist’s progeny because these successful, highly educated and politically well-positioned women acting as honorary men were defended by those who claim to be all about ending women’s oppression?

Would that woman or girl who is forced to go through pregnancy and childbirth against her will, no matter the physical and psychological harm to her, feel included as part of the very same oppressed group that feminists claim to be trying to liberate?

The Rosetta Stone of women’s oppression by men as a class IS forced pregnancy/childbirth, whether a woman is het or lesbian. And just because a woman is het, does that mean that forced childbirth is something she “deserves?”

When a 13-year-old girl asked Sharron Angle, a Nevada Republican Congressional candidate and retired public school teacher, if she would bend her “pro-life” stance to make an exception for rape and asked what she would say to a 13 yr old rape victim who got pregnant, Angle told the girl that the victim should be forced to carry that pregnancy to term and “just learn how to make lemonade out of the lemons life handed her.” What kind of message about feminism and feminists is being sent to women and girls when some feminists silently defend (or excuse) women like Sharron Angle for “being a victim of patriarchy, too?”

What message does it send to the average woman or underage girl who doesn’t want to be forced to give birth against her will when the liberators of women won’t speak out against women using their administrative, judicial or legislative (or even their basic voting power) to pass laws to force childbirth on her, when the liberators don’t even pretend to fight for HER human rights — namely the right to NOT be conscripted into forced organ donation (which is what forced pregnancy/childbirth really is). The right to bodily autonomy and bodily integrity form the first pillar of bioethics, and also form the basis of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and are outlined the United Nations Convention Against Torture. In fact, the legal language in the UN Convention Against Torture defines “torture” to include “rape, sexual assault, and forced pregnancy.”

When former vice presidential candidate and Alaskan governor Sarah Palin passed a law in her state forcing rape victims to pay for their own rape kits at about $1,200 a clip and signed other laws that put access to birth control and safe legal abortion out of reach for underage girls and poor and working class women, what kind of message to the majority of women — who are far more socio-economically class-oppressed than Sarah Palin on top of being sex-oppressed — are feminists sending when they say that Sarah Palin isn’t to blame for using her office to strip the majority of our sisters of basic human rights, including her own daughter’s, just to further her political career in patriarchy?

How is defending women who are enemies of women helpful to feminism’s goal of ending male oppression of women? How many “average Janes” is it acceptable to sacrifice so as to not hurt the feelings of a few honorary men and handmaidens who sacrificed their own daughters on the patriarchal altar of this phallocracy?

Most women and girls don’t have a fraction of the privileges and power (even if it is male-assigned) that Sarah Palin, Sharron Angle, Michele Bachmann, and Kathleen Passidomo (who publicly called 11-year-old gang rape victims “prostitutes”) have. How is throwing the majority of women and girls under the bus consistent with the core tenets and principles of feminism? In order to stay focused on liberating women as a class from the oppression by men as a class, feminists cannot excuse or defend the harm inflicted by these honorary men by saying that “they are not like men.” That defeats the whole purpose of feminism. Putting it bluntly: It’s pissing up a crooked rope.

You cannot help women as a class by throwing the majority of women and girls under the bus for the sake of a few handmaidens who don’t want to be liberated (and who don’t want the rest of us to be liberated either) because they’re more than happy to serve in the ranks of patriarchy’s phalanx of Stepford capos because they’ve sold their souls for some lentil soup in exchange for doing men’s dirty work.

That “feminists can’t criticize other women” crap is precisely what helped cause the 30+ year erosion of the few hard-won rights for ALL women to have access to birth control and safe legal abortion (which are major life-savers for women) to the point where we’re at today where not only are America’s poorest women (who number in the tens of millions) without access to birth control and safe legal abortion, but rape victims are being FORCED to give birth against their will while lawmakers and others in positions or privilege and power have denied America’s poorest women food, cash support, and medical care on top of legalizing rape [e.g., Pennsylvania House Bill No. 2718] by making it practically impossible for a woman to prove she was raped — in a society that says she “asked for it”; a society that threw 300+ women in prison to date for the “crime” of having a stillbirth or miscarriage. A society that supports rapists over victims, and tells junior high and high school girls that they must share their locker room, shower and sauna with someone who has a penis in the name of “transgendered rights.” A society in which women suffering fatal pregnancy complications are left to suffer and die and “bleed out” in 1 out of 6 US hospital emergency rooms as a matter of policy because some hospital administrators’/executives’/doctors’ right to “freedom of religion” trumps pregnant women’s human rights to life, bodily autonomy, and bodily integrity — contravening the federal law that was supposed to prevent these abuses ( the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, or EMTALA), as well as the United Nations Convention against Torture, which the United States ratified in 1994.

The War on Women was not launched by a couple of fringe crackpots in the Republican Party without a huge groundswell of entrenched misogyny and self-centeredness of a whole society of accomplices — including women with a significant degree of political clout, and social and financial capital who, in the name of feminism, defend the enemies of feminism and in doing so, silence the very people whom feminism is supposed to be helping: the overwhelming majority of women who are stuck between the shit and the stink of having to make choiceless choices within the dictates of patriarchy just to be able to survive.

And what are these choiceless choices? Answer: Survival sex (the sex trade). Or attaching themselves to male partners and breadwinners under male terms and conditions in order to survive. Compulsory PIV sex without condoms. Mandatory childbirth (for lack of access to birth control and abortion), which even reduces what few low-paying job opportunities within the pink-collar ghetto that are available to most women which in turn forces economic dependence on abusive, selfish males or the practically non-existent and grossly inadequate welfare benefits (which poor women are begrudged).

Why defend the female enemies of women who are the willing and eager tools of patriarchy when they could have chosen NOT to be, in the name of an abstract ideology that is not being put into real down-to-earth practice to help ALL women? How does that extinguish the inferno of patriarchy when it silences the victims of it, leaving the majority of women behind to fend for themselves while telling them in so many words, “Sorry sister, you’re on your own to liberate yourself” — just because the delicate sensibilities of a few faux feminists, handmaidens and honorary men are more important than ending patriarchy by attacking the oppressor (men) AND the oppressor’s willing agents?

Women who care about women don’t bat for Team Patriarchy, or defend those who do — even though women are not like men.

Class Justice As A Cover For Preserving Male Privilege

December 6, 2012

by Jacqueline S. Homan, author: Classism for Dimwits and Divine Right: The Truth is a Lie

Some class justice activists claim that “rich liberals” have alienated white working class males and poor whites. There is an element of truth in that. Poor whites who have been economically excluded and socially marginalized are at the bottom of the pile: many class justice activists say that poor whites are not “cool” enough for the liberal elite who brag about their “nice African-American friends” but never about their “nice poor white friends.” But too often, class justice activists have a bad habit of using class justice as a vehicle for driving the interests of men to the front of the line with white men leading the parade while demanding that women and minorities — many whom are far worse off than poor white guys — shut up about our rights that are always getting trampled on by white males up and down the socio-economic ladder. Women and minorities are silenced in these Leftist class justice groups with the “Oppression Olympics” cudgel wielded by white dudes that are much better off than women and minorities within the same social class because white dudes have power over women and minorities and that power is the right to dominate — something that is conferred by white male privilege. 


Working class white males are not subjected to forced organ donation at peril to their health, wellbeing and lives — which is what forced pregnancy/childbirth really amounts to — as punishment for having sex and gratifying men’s sexual “needs”; or being raped. In fact, poor white males and working class white males who commit rape are more than likely to get away with it because our male-supremacist society holds that women and girls that are raped somehow “asked for it”, and are often forced to bear rape progeny against their will in “pro-life” America where access to abortion is practically non-existent since the Congressmen elected by white working class males claim that women can’t get pregnant from a “legitimate rape” because women’s bodies have a way to “shut that whole thing down” and if pregnancy should occur from rape, it’s a “gift from God.”

White working class males are not forced to suffer in utter agony for several days in hospitals and even forced to die cruel and torturous deaths that are entirely preventable as a matter of some moralistic policy that is selectively invoked to deny them preventive medical care that would ameliorate their suffering and save their lives. They’re not left to “bleed out” in emergency rooms because of “pro-life” laws and policies that deprive them of their right to life, liberty, bodily autonomy and bodily integrity. 

Working class white males are not targeted for police brutality simply for being out in public. Had Trayvon Martin been a working class white male as opposed to a black male, he’d be alive today because white men don’t get gunned down by neighborhood watchmen for walking home from the store because of wearing hoodies while packing cell phones, iced tea, and candy. 

White working class males also rape, impregnate and batter white working class women while supporting lawmakers, governors, attorney generals and judges who pass laws that force women to be vulnerable to unwanted and risky pregnancies, and force women and girls to give birth against our will regardless of how we feel about it and regardless of the harm to us.  And white working class men have the moxy to tell poor women that our basic human right to bodily autonomy is a less important “side issue” in the male supremacist scheme of things.

White working class males in the class justice camp deliberately play the class card to ensure that women and minorities who are oppressed by male privilege and white privilege respectively are once again side-lined, back-benched, and marginalized while the concerns of white men are made more important. And it’s also these same “poor, put-upon abandoned” white men that put their “right” to have sex ahead of women’s right to not be made pregnant when they don’t want to go through it, or suffer other harm and injuries as a result of satisfying men’s sexual “needs.”

Many of these same white working class men consume women’s bodies as disposable sex commodities through porn use and the patronizing of strip joints. And these same working class men defend their “right” to use their pursuit of an orgasm to dictate women’s oppression by white-washing the sex trade in terms of “choice” and “female empowerment.”

Working class white men have an ongoing miserable track record of dominating women and minorities and they feel entitled to keep doing it. This “abandoned” voting bloc throwing mantrums any time oppressed people’s rights are given attention were not abandoned by the Left. They brought a lot of it on themselves. They shove the valid claims, rights and needs of women to the end of the line and act like the only people deserving of anything are men — white men. And they don’t care if their comfort comes at the expense of women and minorities (as always).

To demand that women cede our long overdue valid claims for social justice which remain unaddressed and telling us to shut up about our rights and needs in order to avoid being “divisive” to assuage the egos of those who use their male privilege to dominate us and keep us disempowered under the deceptive guise of class justice is beyond selfish and narcissistic. It is the motherlode of injustice at best, and at worst it is a license to perpetuate oppression with the intent of ensuring that men remain at the top and in charge.

All the ballyhooing about the “abandoned working class white male voter” really amounts to the preservation of unearned white male privilege and white male supremacy. Liberation from “the 1%” and a bigger piece of the pie but only for white dudes while women should just shut up and be grateful if we’re even acknowledged at all. Class justice has become a cover for white working and middle class men’s usurpation of victimhood status at women’s expense, with working class and poor women bearing the brunt.

White working class men have no right to demand that women defer to them in the name of social justice. And class justice activists have no right to expect women’s capitulation to that unreasonable demand, which is precisely what they’re doing when they chastise radical feminists for refusing to comply with the agenda of the Almighty Penis Parade.

Saying that women should just shut up about our issues because addressing our need for justice is “divisive” when we’re fed up with being expected to just take more ongoing misogyny on the chin after centuries of being marginalized — all for the sake of building bridges of solidarity with those who actively participate in depriving us of our rights — is like saying that Jews in Nazi death camps should have sympathized with the working class Nazi guards and put those oppressors’ comfort first because those working class Nazi guards were equally oppressed by “the man” as the Jewish slave labor prisoners slated for extermination. Think that would go over well with Holocaust survivors and their children and grandchildren? Yeah, me neither.

The fact is that we really can’t “just move on” as if centuries of ongoing oppression did not happen while it’s continuing to happen today, despite the malestream media downplaying or denying it. Until reparations and restorative justice is made to women as a class, we really can’t all “just get along.” For class justice activists to expect that from radical feminists is ludicrous, given that women have far fewer rights and opportunities today than we did in 1973. As long as women are subject to laws and policies that are male-centric and forced to live under a hierarchy of ongoing male domination with white males at the top, any talk of class justice is moot.

White working class union men with middle class paychecks and health and dental benefits and retirement plans never wanted women to have anything. They begrudged poor women the same jobs that they felt entitled to while also begrudging us paltry, inadequate welfare checks on “their hard-earned tax dollars” in order to survive. I recall in the 1980′s with the Reagan Revolution aiming its Hotchkiss guns at poor women on welfare who, in many cases, were economically and socially excluded for generations due to sexism on top of classism, and it was white working class union MEN who voted for Reagan TWICE as they drove around in new Ford trucks sporting bumper stickers that read “Rush is right!”

These white working class men — who were/are far better off than poor women of ANY race — blamed “women’s libbers” for women “taking away (white) men’s jobs” while saying that care-taking and motherhood wasn’t real work and was of no importance or value (not enough value to even be worthy of an inadequate welfare subsistence check) because giving men sexual gratification on demand and bearing babies is what women are for and if a woman ended up being a poor single mother it was her own fault. Even though it was MEN who passed the Hyde Amendment and chipped away at poor women’s access to reliable birth control, and even though it was MEN who impregnated all those women and then abandoned them, or forced them to flee with nothing but their kids and the clothes on their backs after abusing them.

White working class men who claim they’ve been abandoned as a constituency need to first take responsibility for deliberately voting for Reagan (twice) and Congressmen like Newt Gingrich, Todd Akin, and all the rest who ran on platforms of opposing Affirmative Action (which never went far enough), eliminating welfare for the very poor (most whom are women), and supporting measures that have basically returned most women to the status of male-owned reproductive chattel. Men need to take responsibility for causing their own economic demise by voting for those who destroyed their unions and off-shored their jobs while assuring them with every dog whistle speech that their “right” to maintain power and domination over women and people of color would be unfettered in the name of “freedom” and “personal responsibility.”

Men need to take responsibility for using their penises like loaded weapons. They need to take responsibility for all the unwanted pregnancies their sexual selfishness caused and the childbirth injuries (including maternal death) to women they inflicted, for all the rapes they commit, for the abortion clinics they bombed, and for the abortion doctors they shot. They need to take responsibility fpr the violence they resorted to in order to force women and minorities out of good-paying union jobs that were — and still are — white male dominated. And they need to take responsibility for all the porn they consume as if it’s their right to objectify and commodify women and children. They need to take responsibility for the domestic terrorism committed by the anti-woman, anti-black, anti-Jewish gun-toting, tax-protesting jerks they supported and sympathized with. They need to take responsibility for the MRA bowel movement which gave us 31 states that grant rapists “fathers’ rights” over the children they sired by rape with visitation and joint custody. And they need to take responsibility for being war hawks and bullies. They need to do their part to dismantle patriarchy and all its systems of unearned privileges. And they need to ditch their sense of entitlement.

It was all these things that men refuse to take responsibility for that caused their alienation and earned contempt from feminists, racial justice activists, and “snobby libruls” whom they blame for problems that they brought on themselves.

Women don’t owe white working class men in the class justice movement a pity party with milk and cookies when men never even apologized for all the shit they did to women, and are still doing to women, to keep women at the bottom of every pile. It only takes a critical number of members of the oppressor group to dismantle the system of oppression they created and that number boils down to about 25% of men. Which goes to show how little men care about women, and how rare and scarce decent and fair-minded men really are.  Sorry, but there are some people that you just can’t build coalitions with because they are not your allies and don’t really care to be, either. Men need to get their own house in order by setting their male chauvinist ‘homies’ straight and working on dismantling the patriarchy they created and maintain before expecting women to be considerate of their delicate feelings in the name of “class solidarity.”

Men who sacrifice the human rights of their own wives, sisters, nieces and daughters on the altar of the phallocracy just to animate their ‘uniform’ of race and sex that they share with rich white sexist men like Mitt Romney don’t need a pity party — they need a good swift kick in the ass for having the moxy to cry “abandonment” after they’ve been sticking it to women, minorities, and the very poor for the better part of the last three decades.

The brutal and horrific oppression of women by men through all of the forced pregnancy/childbirth laws passed in nearly every state, including the federal defunding of Planned Parenthood, was not the work of just a “few bad apples”; it was the coordinated effort of entire state governments — from governors to attorney generals to the majority of state legislatures. The War on Women was launched, and for the most part won by men, because the majority of states have state governments that are full of men like Todd Akin and Rick Santorum. And it was working class white males acting in solidarity with their bourgeois brethren who propelled these selfish, narcissistic and sadistic male supremacist pigs into prosperity and power by voting for them without giving a shit about what it meant for women and how we feel about it.

Depriving women of any social class of the right to an abortion and access to reliable birth control is depriving women of basic human rights over our own bodies. Denying rape victims the right to an abortion is exceptionally cruel because for many women, pregnancy after rape means that the rape isn’t over and will further traumatize them with extreme pain, disfigurement, and debilitated health. It means compounding an already unspeakable trauma. It is cruelty and torture aimed solely at women by men for the sheer damn hell of it. And no, working class white males cannot lay all of this at the feet of the 1% and a few crazy Congressmen. Lawmakers, governors, and attorney generals don’t get into office without votes and campaign volunteers. And all of these anti-woman laws — which have yet to be repealed — are no excuse for working class white men inflicting unwanted pregnancies on their bed victims because their penis feel-good time is somehow more important than having any consideration for women’s human rights.

Why Personhood and Equal Rights for Women is a Life and Death Matter and a Human Rights Issue

April 23, 2012

  FACT SHEET:

By Jacqueline S. Homan, author of Eyes of a MonsterClassism for Dimwits and Divine Right: The Truth is a Lie

Part I: Why Pregnancy and Childbirth Must Be Voluntary and Planned — No Matter What

In all of the abortion and contraception “debates”, the rigors and hazards of pregnancy and childbirth and the ramifications of forcing women to go through that against our will gets conveniently ignored and brushed aside as if anything women are forced to suffer somehow doesn’t matter. This report shows the legal, ethical, medical and humanitarian claims that support a woman’s human right to bodily autonomy and bodily integrity, particularly with respect to reproductive health choices.

Anti-abortion/anti-contraception groups and well-heeled religious lobbies downplay the trauma, risks, side effects, pain, disfigurement and injuries that even “good” pregnancies impose on women. Fake crisis pregnancy centers don’t mention these risks or do referrals for women who cannot go through/do not want to go through an unplanned pregnancy. Mandatory ultrasound laws and waiting periods in several states place an undue burden on women seeking abortion and these laws also require doctors to lie to their pregnant patients about the risks and hazards of their pregnancies and giving birth, and the presence of any condition or fetal abnormality that threatens the health and life of the pregnant woman and/or her fetus.

Getting stuck in traffic is an inconvenience, being forced by public law and policy to go through pregnancy and childbirth against your will while having to suffer any or all of the inherent risks and side effects is not.

Normal or expectable side effects of pregnancy:

  • exhaustion
  • gestational diabetes – can remain permanent as Type II diabetes
  • altered appetite
  • nausea and vomiting
  • heartburn and indigestion
  • constipation
  • weight gain
  • hypothyroidism
  • dizziness and light-headedness
  • bloating, swelling, fluid retention
  • hemorrhoids
  • hematoma (usually on the vulva but can be on the inside of the vagina)
  • abdominal cramps
  • yeast infections
  • congested/bloody nose
  • acne and skin disorders
  • skin discoloration
  • mild to severe backache and strain
  • increased headaches
  • difficulty/discomfort with sleeping
  • increased urination/incontinence
  • gum disease (leading to premature tooth loss)
  • pica
  • breast pain and discharge
  • swelling of joints, leg cramps, joint pain
  • difficulty sitting/standing in later pregnancy
  • inability to take regular medications
  • shortness of breath
  • higher blood pressure
  • hair loss (this is a permanent side effect)
  • anemia
  • inability to participate in some sports and activities
  • high susceptibility to infection (pregnant women have a much lower immunity to illness, infection and disease than non-pregnant women or men because the pregnant woman’s immune system has to literally shut down so her system’s antibodies don’t attack the implanted fertilized ovum)
  • extreme pain during labor and delivery (which can last for several hours to several days)
  • hormonal mood changes, including post-partum depression
  • post-partum psychosis/birth related PTSD (caused by a birth that was traumatic for the woman)
  • extended post-partum recovery period and exhaustion (a difficult vaginal birth or a C-section can take a year or more to fully recover)

Normal, expectable, and frequent permanent side effects of pregnancy and birth:

  • stretch marks
  • loose skin
  • permanent weight gain or redistribution
  • permanent change to pelvic skeletal and ligament structure — it is not uncommon for a woman’s hips to be 4” wider than normal for the passage of the fetus during birth as her pelvic bone opens and ligaments stretch, and often this change is permanent, leaving many women unable to EVER get back into their pre-pregnancy clothes even if they lose ALL their pregnancy weight (leaving poor women, who are unable to afford to replace all their pre-pregnancy clothes, with absolutely nothing to wear except a couple pairs of oversized sweatpants and maybe one or two donated used maternity outfits)
  • abdominal and vaginal muscle weakness that Kegels won’t necessarily prevent, cure, or fix
  • pelvic organ damage (causing urinary and fecal incontinence and severely diminished quality of life, try re-entering the workforce with a problem like that!)
  • difficulty resuming employment due to lifting restrictions imposed by permanent pelvic floor damage from pregnancy stress and/or childbirth injuries.
  • changes to breasts (saggy and “deflated”)
  • varicose veins
  • disfigurement/scarring from episiotomy or C-section
  • other permanent aesthetic changes to the body (which can be devastating to a woman’s life chances for everything from finding a marriage partner to getting a good job in a culture that emphasizes women’s value on youth, thinness and beauty)
  • hemorrhoids
  • loss of dental or bone calcium (tooth decay/loss and osteoporosis)

Occasional complications and side effects:

  • invasive Strep-A infection (also known as “childbirth fever”; causes necrosis, leading to limb amputation and sometimes death)
  • domestic violence/murder (pregnant women are more at risk for being murdered by boyfriends and husbands than non-pregnant women)
  • hyperemesis gravidarum (severe morning sickness causing dehydration, malnourishment, and bodily stress that can lead to kidney failure)
  • obstructed labor (caused by fetal malpresentation, large babies, fetal shoulder dystochia resulting in internal pelvic organ tissues to necrotize)
  • permanent injury to back (late pregnancy and delivery)
  • severe lacerations, tissue scarring requiring surgery (especially after additional pregnancies)
  • prolapsed uterus/vagina (risk increases tremendously after additional pregnancies and pelvic floor weaknesses)
  • pre-eclampsia (the most common pregnancy complication — edema and hypertension associated with 10% of all pregnancies, mostly among older pregnant women; a precursor to eclampsia, which is fatal)
  • eclampsia (convulsions, seizures, coma during pregnancy or labor, fatal unless pregnancy is aborted)
  • gestational diabetes — often remains permanent in the form of Adult Type II diabetes resulting in permanent debilitating health condition requiring medication, frequently leading to blindness and limb amputations (aggravated by lack of ability to afford healthy food low in starches and sugars)
  • placenta previa (causes laboring women to bleed to death during delivery)
  • thrombocytopenic purpura (causing women to bleed to death during/immediately after birth)
  • severe cramping
  • embolism (blood clots, air bubbles, amniotic fluid bubbles escaping into circulatory system causing stroke or massive heart attack; usually fatal)
  • medical disability requiring total bed rest
  • diastasis recti (abdominal muscle separation/tears)
  • mitral valve stenosis (causes heart failure, stroke, and pulmonary edema)
  • lack of resistance to highly infectious diseases
  • hormonal imbalance (causes weight problems, depression, and breast and reproductive organ cancer)
  • ectopic pregnancy (fatal unless medically aborted)
  • broken bones (rib cage and lower spine from fetal pressure in late pregnancy and during delivery)
  • hemorrhage
  • refractory gastroesophegal reflux disease
  • aggravation of pre-pregnancy conditions/diseases (epilepsy, diabetes, heart condition, high blood pressure, etc)
  • permanently ruined sex life from injury to the nerves and tissues of the sexual organs (caused by 3rd and 4th degree vaginal tears, episiotomies received by 85-90% of all birthing women, paraurethral tract and parasympathetic nerve trauma, etc. during delivery often accompanied by permanent fecal and/or urinary incontinence)
  • elevated risks for certain cancers

Serious complications causing permanent problems associated with pregnancy, labor and delivery:

  • peripartum cardiomyopathy (weakened heart)
  • cardiopulmonary arrest (fatal: irreversible brain damage and death occurs within 4 minutes)
  • magnesium toxicity
  • severe hypoxemia/acidosis
  • massive embolism
  • increased inter-cranial pressure, brainstem infarction (An Alzheimer-like forgetfulness from brain matter shrinkage called “mommy brains”)
  • molar pregnancy/ gestational trophoblastic disease (a mass of abnormal/malignant tissue growth from the placenta)
  • malignant arrhythmia ( coronary artery spasms)
  • circulatory collapse
  • obstetric fistula – (tear/hole due to tissue damage from pressure to the area separating the vagina from the rectum or the vagina from the bladder; causing urine and/or feces to pass through the vagina uncontrollably. Fistulas require surgery and are not always able to be repaired 100% even after several subsequent surgeries)
  • colostomy – caused by an irreparable obstetric fistula and trauma to the internal pelvic organ system from pregnancy and giving birth

More permanent side effects:

  • poverty
  • future infertility
  • autoimmune disease
  • ovarian cancer
  • breast cancer
  • permanent disability
  • death

Since the passage of Roe v. Wade up until the recent Planned Parenthood clinic closings, 40 million women safely terminated unwanted pregnancies. During that same period, 21 million women died from pregnancy complications or during/shortly after giving birth. 400 million women have sustained debilitating permanent health problems, side effects, disabling childbirth injuries, and disfigurement which utterly destroyed their lives. A woman dies in childbirth every 90 seconds, according to WHO and Amnesty International. A trip to any old country cemetery will quickly verify the multitude of women’s premature deaths as casualties from men’s “right” to an orgasm at women’s expense. This is what male privilege costs women.

According to obstetric specialist and colorectal surgeon Dr. Michelle Thornton from the UK (which has a much better maternal health outcome than the US), about 40% of all women who have given birth sustain pelvic organ damage that Kegel exercises could not prevent or cure, leaving them with permanent fecal and urinary incontinence — undermining their confidence, ruining their sex lives and destroying their marriages/relationships, and decimating their ability to function at most jobs. Thornton states that the problem is underreported because women are too ashamed and embarrassed to tell their spouses and partners, let alone their doctors. Even when the surgical repair of fistulas caused by tears, episiotomies, and obstructed labor is successful, the physical limitations on women and compromised organ tissue’s integrity remains permanent; costing women everything from being able to participate fully in society to resuming a normal healthy sex life to re-entering the workforce or continuing their educations.

Maureen Treadwell of the Birth Trauma Association confirms this devastation and the unreported frequent occurrence of this “silent epidemic.” The trauma from the emotional and physical fallout left many women unable to contemplate another baby.

Many women’s bodies don’t handle pregnancy and childbirth well. Not all women will suffer the worst results and side effects but there is no way to accurately predict which women will and which ones won’t.

As to the claim that pregnancy and childbirth — particularly childbirth without adequate pain relief — is “natural to the female condition”; the natural course for appendicitis without unnatural man-made medical remedy is 30% chance of death from peritonitis. And if it’s “only natural” for all women to want to go through pregnancy and childbirth every year of their lives from puberty to menopause, then we don’t need any unnatural man-made laws to force women to go through it.

Human beings do not have a “reproductive drive”, we have a sex drive. The human sex drive extends far beyond childbearing years because the primary function for the human sex drive is the emotional pair-bonding even when childbearing is not desired or possible. The human sex drive is also the strongest natural force second only to the natural drive to defend one’s own life.

A marriage license will not prevent an unwanted and/or medically dangerous pregnancy and abstinence-only is a recipe for relationship failure in a nation with a 50% divorce rate.

Forced pregnancy and childbirth is no more moral than any other form of forced organ donation. No “pro-life” laws exist anywhere that force men to suffer trauma, pain, disfigurement and risk of death from mandatory kidney donation surgery to save the life of another — even if the person in need of it is his own child who would otherwise die without it. No one has the right to the use of, or to coerce the use of, another’s body — in whole or in part — against their will.

Consent to sex is not consent to pregnancy. Medical ethicist and philosophy professor David Boonin framed the argument supporting a woman’s right to choose based on consent. A woman has the right to refuse use of her body to support another potential human’s continued existence if:

  1. The cost is not trivial (even “good” pregnancies in healthy women of optimal childbearing age are non-trivial).
  2. The woman has not previously consented to the exact conditions of use, or the conditions which she consented to have changed.
  3. The woman does not owe the recipient (fetus) compensation for causing its worsened condition.

Boonin quite specifically excludes a woman who conceived following consensual sex from obligation to provide life support for that developing entity. The fetus would not have existed without this act and its accompanying male act, and is therefore better off — not worse off. The female host has not caused any harm to the fetus at all and is therefore not required to compensate it by being an incubator. The fetus on the other hand, is harming its host, and is therefore obligated to her. And the male that has caused the woman harm by impregnating her when she didn’t want to become pregnant is therefore obligated to compensate her.

Any woman who wants to gestate some man’s genetic material for his benefit in almost a year of involuntary servitude is more than welcome to do so. But no woman owes such sacrifice and martyrdom to anyone — especially not to a society that has always treated women like garbage; a society that grants full personhood to 15 second old zygotes and corporations while denying that very same status of personhood to the woman in whose body that zygote is being hosted.

Forcing women to get and remain pregnant against their will is a violation of human rights, period.

The idea that fetal pain matters but the pain, trauma and disfigurement women are expected to suffer in childbirth as a mandatory punishment for having sex shows just how easily the UN Convention of Torture can be subverted when it’s women being targeted for sexual and reproductive torture.

Denying women the human right to have control over what happens to our bodies by imposing a sexual double standard in denying us access to reliable contraception and abortion, and denying women adequate pain relief during childbirth without a scientifically valid reason (and there really isn’t any) while making sure Viagra and penis stents are legal, available, and covered by most insurance plans for any man that wants to have “recreational” sex — is state-sponsored discrimination, gender-specific torture and a crime against humanity.

The legal language in Article 1 of the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment spells out the definition of torture. This was ratified by the US Senate in 1994. Torture is the intentional infliction of severe mental or physical pain or suffering by, or with the consent of, state authorities for a specific purpose. Methods of torture include rape, sexual assault, and forced childbirth.

No matter how “pro-lifers”, social conservatives, and Christians want to spin it, the devastating effects and injuries of torture cannot be justified by “moral beliefs” or “faith.” In 2006, the same US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) that is today in 2012 promoting the sexual and reproductive torture of forced pregnancy and childbirth against an entire identifiable group of people (women), asserted that policies permitting torture and inhumane treatment are “shocking and morally intolerable.” The USCCB also said, “Let America abolish torture now — without exceptions.”

Apparently, abolishing torture “without exceptions” doesn’t apply to women. This same powerful Vatican lobby group promotes the torture of women and girls with forced childbirth, even at peril to our health and lives, by influencing Congress and shaping public policy to deprive women of access to contraceptives and abortion — even in cases of rape or where pregnancy will kill a woman. That’s what “conscience clause” laws and “fetal personhood” laws being pushed by sadistic misogynists under the respectable habiliments of “moral beliefs” and “religious liberty”: Torture and chattel enslavement of women, no matter the harm and cost to us.

 

Part II: Medical Ethics and Religious Liberty

This is not a question of “freedom of religion”, it is about women’s human rights, legal and judicial equity, and medical ethics that are being violated by others’ abuse of the extra privileges that religious organizations enjoy and use like a loaded weapon to push harmful laws and public policy that target women for harm and injustice based solely on women’s vulnerability to pregnancy and sexual violence in a culture of impunity centered on male privilege.

When religious hospitals, Christian doctors, nurses, midwives and pharmacists serve the public, they serve people of different faiths. At this point, a sectarian institution or an individual of a particular faith relinquishes the right to coerce or force others into following a particular religious doctrine or teaching.

According to the IRS, in order to qualify as a 501(3)(c) non-profit religious organization, churches and their affiliated organizations must:

  1. Not use a substantial part of their money or activities to attempt to influence legislation.
  2. Maintain purposes and activities that are legal.
  3. Not use their money and activities to intervene in political campaigns.
  4. Not violate fundamental laws and public policy.

Patient abandonment resulting in patient harm or death is criminal. Deliberate patient abandonment resulting in patient death is murder. Murder is a crime. No institution or individual has the right to torture, abuse, or murder pregnant women in the name of “religious liberty.” Sacrificing the health, wellbeing, and lives of women as a class due to “conscience clause” laws arising from states’ expansion of the Church Amendment (passed in 1973 immediately after the US Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade) enacted to protect “religious liberty” brings the entire American medical establishment, justice system, and system of government into disrepute.

Hemorrhage from ectopic pregnancies is the leading cause of maternal death in the first trimester of pregnancy. Management of ectopic pregnancy that saves the life of the mother includes the use of methotrexate (medical therapy), removal of the embryo (salpingostomy), removal of the section of fallopian tube (salpingectomy), and “expectant management” (waiting for the fallopian tube to burst and then using surgical intervention). Expectant management is the most painful and dangerous option and it is the only one that the “Directives” at Catholic hospitals permit, even though it has cost women their lives or left them permanently disabled.

The Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1395dd(e)-(e)(3)(B) requires hospitals to provide stabilizing treatment to patients with emergency medical conditions who seek care at emergency rooms. An “emergency medical condition” is defined as “a medical condition manifesting itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity (including severe pain) such that the absence of immediate medical attention could reasonably be expected to result in: (A) placing the patient’s health in serious jeopardy, (B) serious impairment to bodily functions, or; (C) serious dysfunction of any bodily organ.

The Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Hospitals and Catholic-affiliated Healthcare Service Centers (the “Directives”) issued by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) prohibit abortion and prohibit health care providers from taking “direct action” against the embryo, even though ectopic pregnancies are not viable.

Patients with ectopic pregnancies, incomplete/inevitable miscarriages at Catholic hospital emergency rooms have been transferred to non-Catholic hospitals without treatment or stabilization. In some cases, patients could not be stabilized for transport to another facility.

Directive 47 allows for abortion to preserve the woman’s health or life, stating “Operations, treatments, and medications that have as their direct purpose the cure of a proportionately serious pathological condition of a pregnant woman are permitted when they cannot be safely postponed until the unborn child is viable, even if they will result in the death of the unborn child.”

But the interpretation of what constitutes a “serious pathological condition” has been left up to local bishops and Catholic medical ethics directors to decide — most whom have never gone through pregnancy and childbirth.

In November 2009, a 27 year old mother of 4 was admitted to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix, Arizona. She was 11 weeks pregnant. According to a hospital document, she had “right heart failure” from pregnancy-related pulmonary hypertension and continuing the pregnancy meant nearly 100% chance of maternal death. The patient was unable to be stabilized enough to be moved into the operating room, never mind stabilized enough to be transported to a non-Catholic hospital 90 miles away. Relying on Directive 47, Sister Margaret McBride on the ethics committee authorized the life-saving abortion. The mother survived. The nun who saved her life was fired from her job and excommunicated by Bishop Thomas Olmstead.[1]

Father John Ehrich, the medical ethics director for the Diocese of Phoenix, said, “There are some situations where the mother may in fact die along with her child. But — and this is the Catholic perspective — you can’t do evil to bring about good. The end does not justify the means.”

Father Ehrich also stated that “pregnant women should embrace death rather than having to live the rest of her existence knowing that she had an abortion.”

With medical ethics directors like Father John Ehrich sitting in positions of tremendous power, privilege and authority overseeing doctors and hospitals across the US, this country is not safe for women.

Bishop Thomas Olmstead affirmed the church position for letting women die from treatable pregnancy complications despite Directive 47 and wrote a letter to the USCCB defending that position, stating, “Abortion is always immoral, no matter the circumstances, and it cannot be permitted in any Catholic institution.”

The IBIS Reproductive Health Study in 2009[2] conducted for the National Women’s Law Center interviewed more than 1,500 physicians, administrators, and clinicians from 69 Catholic hospitals across the US. Some respondents spoke at length about the influence of state legislation on hospital practices and policies, particularly in the realm of emergency contraception, sterilization, and medical abortion. Doctors told of seeing women bleed to death from incomplete miscarriages[3] and seeing patients suffer in agony from fallopian tube rupture because of delays in treatment.

Several physicians expressed concerns of losing their hospital practicing privileges and their jobs if they violated the Directives even though doing so was in the patient’s best interests, even in life and death matters for the patients. Several physicians were reprimanded or demoted for violating the Directives by performing tubal ligations in cases where the patient requested it and where additional pregnancies would likely be fatal for them.

Lori Freedman, PhD at the Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health and Debra Stulberg, MD at the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Chicago conducted extensive research[4] on the effects on women when they’re denied bodily autonomy in reproductive health matters, specifically with respect to voluntary and/or medically advised sterilization when “moral beliefs” and “freedom of religion” is allowed to trump women’s basic human rights to life, bodily autonomy and bodily integrity.

Freedman’s and Stulberg’s research shows that the primary disadvantage for doctors working at Catholic hospitals (and the women they treat) was the inability to perform sterilizations, particularly following a C-section (eliminating the need and trauma of a second, separate surgery). This was supported by fact-finding research by the Center of Reproductive Rights and the IBIS Study in communities where previously secular hospitals came under Catholic control through mergers and acquisitions.

One doctor described the impact of the denial of sterilization to women per adherence to the Catholic doctrine[5]:

“There are only so many C-sections a woman should have. With each one the next pregnancy is markedly compromised. There is a higher risk the placenta can implant on the uterine scar. You can’t get the placenta out, there’s morbid hemorrhage. It’s absolutely unconscionable. The pope, the cardinal, the board is not going to be there, not going to be here when she is hemorrhaging, bloody, you can’t see, it’s horrible, the uterus is cut, and she needs a massive transfusion. Six months later she still looks awful, like death warmed over; she can’t take care of the little ones she has.”

For women with difficulty accessing reliable long-term contraception, sometimes sterilization is the only viable option. Denying women that option has been fatal. All of the doctors interviewed in this exhaustive research endeavor told stories of women under their care who had been unable to obtain reliable birth control and sterilizations who had subsequently gotten pregnant when they did not want to and were medically advised not to, and one woman who requested a tubal ligation but couldn’t get it had 6 children and had ended up dying in childbirth as the result of an unwanted additional pregnancy.

For many women, a post-partum sterilization is recommended when additional pregnancies are not only undesired but would also threaten the woman’s health. Refusing to perform a requested sterilization, especially immediately following a childbirth, means denying women patients wanted and needed medical care that can even mean denying women their right to life. It also imposes the undue burden of additional costs in terms of money and physical recuperation time for a second, separate surgery.

For women for whom immediate post-partum sterilization is desired and/or medically advised, refusal to allow this procedure to be performed based on “moral beliefs” of practitioners and religious directives to which hospitals subscribe amounts to unethical and immoral denial of care.

Standards of care are defined as the practices that are medically necessary and the services that any practitioner under any circumstances should be expected to render. The ACOG has recognized that a patient’s health should always come first, and that access to health services should be based on the patient’s medical needs, not the provider’s personal or religious beliefs. In a recent Committee on Ethics Opinion[6], the ACOG states that the patient’s autonomy, and physical and mental health, limits the physician’s ability to refuse. The ACOG recommends that a provider’s personal beliefs can be accommodated only when the primary duty to the patient can be fulfilled.

But the American Medical Association (AMA) caved in to the pressures exerted by the all-male Catholic Church hierarchy, even though it too has previously addressed conscientious refusals in the context of hospital mergers. Despite the AMA core principle of medical ethics that states “a physician, while caring for a patient, must regard responsibility to the patient as paramount”, the AMA allowed for a watered-down resolution that reaffirmed the importance of access to reproductive health care but also stated that “medical professionals and hospitals should not be required to violate personally held moral principles.”

Denials of care by refusal of medical goods and services based on religious and “moral” objections have expanded to include the right not to provide care, not to provide referrals, and not to offer information (even if the patient requests it) about a range of legally available care and legally approved pharmaceuticals. Decisions to deny information and medical services based on “moral” and religious beliefs rather than scientific and medical evidence has resulted in poor health outcomes for women. Nearly every “moral objection” invoked under the cover of religious liberty exclusively targets women for the reproductive health conditions solely experienced by women.[7]

The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) in attempting to “balance the interests” and acknowledge the legitimate place for individual medical practitioner conscience in medicine also warns that “conscience may conflict with professional and ethical standards and result in inefficiency, adverse outcomes, violation of patients’ rights, and erosion of trust if one’s conscience limits the information and care provided to a patient.”

The ACOG notes that “conscience clause” related refusals of medical procedures and pharmaceuticals almost always without exception occurs in the realm of women’s reproductive health. The ACOG states: “It is not uncommon for conscientious refusals to result in imposition of religious or moral beliefs on a patient who may not share those beliefs, which may undermine respect for patient autonomy. Women’s informed requests for contraception or sterilization are an important expression of autonomous choice regarding reproductive decision-making. Refusals to dispense contraception may constitute a failure to respect women’s capacity to decide for themselves whether and under what circumstances to become pregnant.”

Addressing tubal ligation specifically, the ACOG Ethics Committee Opinion states: “Although conscientious refusals stem in part from the commitment to ‘first do no harm’, their results can be just the opposite…religiously based refusals to perform tubal ligations at the time of Cesarean delivery can place a woman in harm’s way — either by putting her at risk for an undesired pr unsafe pregnancy or by necessitating an additional, separate sterilization procedure with all its attendant and additional risks.”

The American tradition is one of preserving a neutral position towards religion in order to allow believers of many faiths including non-believers in any faith, to work and live alongside one another peaceably under one common government. This requires respect for one another’s human rights, mutual tolerance, and practical accommodations. No purity for any specific religion and its members can be expected under this arrangement because the US is not a theocracy nor does is the government allowed to favor one religion and its members over everyone else.

Religious organizations cannot discriminate against employees of a different race or gender, or dictate how employees spend their paychecks. They cannot discriminate when hiring for non-clergy positions, even within a church. And they cannot use their religious or “moral” beliefs as grounds to deny another person, or class of persons, human rights to bodily autonomy and bodily integrity.

But social and religious conservatives and the Vatican’s political lobby group, the USCCB, have violated this arrangement. They have hijacked every aspect of our common government from Congress to state legislatures to the Supreme Court to government agencies that make public policies behind closed doors. And they have declared a War on Women with acts of legislative and judicial aggression that translate to real physical aggression and harm specifically against women and girls.

The issue is not whether religious liberty should be further protected — but whose religious liberty deserves the protection of the law, and at what cost in terms of real tangible harm to whom.

Congress, state lawmakers, and judges are ruling on case law, passing amendments and enacting legislation that create a far-reaching power — on “moral” or religious grounds — to trespass on the inalienable human rights and religious liberty of individuals. This violates the spirit of the establishment clause of the First Amendment. And it allows petty tyranny to trump bodily autonomy and bodily integrity, and gender discrimination to prevail over equity and fairness.

The Institute of Medicine, the ACOG, and women who are vulnerable to pregnancy and all its inherent risks and side effects are more qualified to decide the merits of contraception, abortion, and voluntary sterilization than clergymen and a group of historically privileged people (men) that will never suffer the consequences of unwanted and/or medically dangerous pregnancy, pregnancy complications, maternal disability, or maternal death.

The ACOG Ethics Committee proposed the following recommendations for medical professionals’ consciences without compromising the health and wellbeing of the women they serve:

  1. In the provision of reproductive services, the patient’s wellbeing must be paramount. Any conscientious refusal that conflicts with a patient’s wellbeing should be accommodated only if the primary duty to the patient can be fulfilled.
  2. Health care providers must impart accurate and unbiased information so that patients can make informed decisions about their health care. They must disclose scientifically accurate and professionally accepted characterizations of reproductive health services.
  3. Where conscience implores physicians to deviate from standard practices, including abortion, sterilization, and provision of contraceptives, they must provide potential patients with accurate and prior notice of their personal moral commitments. In the process of providing prior notice, physicians should not use their professional authority to argue or advocate these positions.
  4. Physicians and other health care professionals have the duty to refer patients in a timely manner to other providers if they do not feel that they can in conscience provide the standard reproductive services that their patients request or need.
  5. In an emergency in which referral is not possible or might negatively affect a patient’s physical or mental health, providers have an obligation to provide medically indicated and requested care regardless of the provider’s personal moral objections.
  6. In resource-poor areas, access to safe and legal reproductive services should be maintained. Conscientious refusals that undermine access should raise significant caution. Providers with moral or religious objections should either practice in proximity to individuals [other providers] who do not share their views or ensure that referral processes are in place so that patients have access to the service that the physician does not wish to provide. Rights to withdraw from caring for an individual should not be a pretext for interfering with patients’ rights to health care services.
  7. Lawmakers should advance policies that balance protection of providers’ consciences with the critical goal of ensuring timely, effective, evidence-based, and safe access to all women seeking reproductive services.

But this “balance” framed within the ACOG Committee’s recommendations is not what’s happening. When University of California student Heather Minton was raped in Riverside on a Friday evening in November 2003 and had a friend take her to the emergency room of the local hospital, Minton was denied emergency contraception at the Riverside Community Hospital. The ER nurse told Minton’s friend that if Minton hadn’t been raped she wouldn’t treat her, and suggested they try another hospital ER a half-hour’s drive away[8]. Emergency contraception is time-sensitive: it must be taken within 72 hours of the unprotected sex act to prevent pregnancy.

Minton said, “When we got to the emergency room, I was hysterical. No one knew what had happened to me, just that I had had sex and I wanted EC. But the nurse sent us to another hospital. It was after 2 AM, and we didn’t know where we were going or whether they’d refuse to treat me too.”

State laws have been giving hospitals, doctors, nurses, SANE’s, and pharmacists the right to refuse to offer emergency contraception or even prescribe birth control, fill birth control prescriptions, or provide IUD’s, shots, implants, low-hormone vaginal rings, diaphragms and cervical caps — all of which require an exam and fitting or insertion from a medical professional — since the 1990’s when states began aggressively expanding the Church Amendment (passed on the heels of Eisenstadt v. Baird in 1972 and Roe v. Wade in 1973 in the name of “religious liberty.”).

Since the 2010 mid-term Congressional elections, 1,100 more laws were proposed — and many were passed — that has made safe legal abortion and contraception access nearly insurmountable for millions of American women.

Because these conscientious refusal policies are rarely publicized, and often it is a discretionary matter left to the individual medical professional or pharmacist, it is unbelievably difficult for women seeking emergency contraception to know who they can trust will help them and who won’t. Delays can render time-sensitive emergency contraception, birth control refills, including replacement IUD’s, ineffective. The result is that women and girls are being forced to become pregnant against their will, at peril to their health and lives, traumatizing them, stripping them of their human dignity, and effectively violating rape victims after the rapist violated them initially.

Riverside Community Hospital declined to comment. Spokesmen for HCA, the corporation that owns the hospital, said that HCA does not dictate clinical policy to its facilities and physicians can use their own discretion. Anonymous calls to Riverside on three different occasions to different nurses on duty produced three different responses: “We do not offer emergency contraception”, “It depends on the physicians on duty because emergency contraception is an ethical issue”, and “We offer emergency contraceptives to women who have been raped.”

Even after the emergency contraceptive, Plan B, was made available for over-the-counter purchase, women must still run through a gamut of hurdles to get it. Plan B is kept behind the pharmacists’ counter rather than in the aisles. Women must still ask the pharmacist or pharmacy clerks for it, and they still have the right to refuse to sell Plan B in an arbitrary and capricious manner even though no prescription is required for women over the age of 17. Pharmacists and their assistants have lied to women requesting Plan B, saying that it is not in stock or that the pharmacy does not carry it, even when it is in stock. Recently, a study showed that many pharmacists deliberately deny Plan B to teens when they present a prescription from their doctor.

Yet, men seeking to get prescriptions for Viagra filled or seeking to buy condoms have no difficulty getting what they need to ensure that they’re able to have “recreational” sex — whether in committed relationships, extra-marital affairs, one-night-stands, with or without a woman’s consent. While pregnancy and childbirth pose serious risks to women’s health and lives and change their bodies in irrevocable ways, no man has ever been maimed or died from the inability to get an erection.

Directive 36, handed down by the Vatican, states that in the case of sexual assault, a woman may receive emergency contraception from a Catholic provider. But many Catholic facilities refuse to provide it anyway while others require a full medical exam and pregnancy test, delaying access to Plan B beyond the time it would be effective.

Teresa Harrison, project manager at IBIS Reproductive Health, a non-profit research organization, says, “There is no enforcement of laws requiring hospitals to provide emergency contraception in cases of rape. Without enforcement, there are no incentives for hospitals to abide by the law.”

Although the medical establishment and science defines “pregnancy” as implantation of a fertilized egg, religious extremists define it at conception; the second the sperm meets the egg. Arizona lawmakers now are trying to define it as two weeks prior to conception — a belief held by Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life and PersonhoodUSA.

In August 2002 the “Emergency Contraception in Catholic Hospital Emergency Rooms” study conducted by Catholics for a Free Choice, only 167 of the then-597 US-based Catholic hospitals offered emergency contraception to rape victims. This same study also reports that Catholic hospitals provide health care to 1 in 5 people across the US.

According to the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, approximately 25,000 women in the US get pregnant each year from rape. The actual toll may be higher, since 54% of all sexual assaults go unreported to the police, 97% of all rapists never spend a day in jail, and 38% of all rapists were a friend or acquaintance of the victim.[9]

Harrison says that most Catholic hospitals align with the views of their local bishop. Access to emergency contraception for rape victims, tubal ligations following C-section or after a difficult childbirth, and even life-saving abortions where a pregnant woman is “bleeding out” or women with a high risk of dying from other pregnancy complications (eclampsia, placenta previa, placental abruption, cardiomyopathy, pulmonary hypertension, etc.) — women will be denied care and die, not because there’s a lack in medical technology and medicines, but solely for being female and pregnant depending on the views of a bishop and the “moral beliefs” of the ER physician, SANE’s, and nurses.

Although scientists, doctors, the ACOG, the AMA, and state health departments tried to clarify differences between Mifepristone (RU-486, the abortion pill) and Plan B, anti-woman Christian groups like Americans United for Life, Personhood USA, and Priests for Life continue to spread false information and lies that Plan B “kills babies.”

None of them care, however, that pregnancy and childbirth is very physically and emotionally traumatic even under the best of circumstances and wreaks havoc on women’s bodies and psyches and can sometimes even kill perfectly healthy women — women’s lives don’t matter. Dr. Gene Rudd, associate executive director of the Christian Medical Association, wrote in the Annals of Pharmacotherapy that “scientific evidence indicates that the drug works in part by preventing a developing embryo from attaching to the uterine wall, leaving it to pass out of the mother’s body and die.”

In 2004 in Denton, Texas, Eckerd pharmacist Gene Herr and two colleagues refused to fill a prescription for Plan B for a traumatized rape victim, and demoralized her. Herr is a “hero” in anti-woman circles.

In Faben, Texas a few weeks after the Denton incident involving Gene Herr, the small town’s only pharmacist and a self-described “Christ follower” Steve Mosher refused to fill the birth control prescription of a married woman who had just recently given birth a few weeks prior. The woman and her husband had to drive 40 miles roundtrip to El Paso to get her prescription filled.[10]

In July 2006, an 18 year old rape victim in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania was denied Plan B by the ER doctor on duty at Good Samaritan Hospital. He refused to write her a prescription because of his “religious beliefs.” The victim was forced to “beat the clock” in getting a prescription from her gynecologist only to then find that the one and only pharmacy in her area that carried Plan B was all out.

Through physical force and violence (including the use of drugging victims against their knowledge), rapists deprive women of the right to have control over their own bodies. Since emergency contraception is only effective if taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex, Plan B is time-sensitive and that requires that women have immediate access to it. Women have a basic human right to reclaim control over their bodies after a traumatic rape by having the ability to choose whether or not they get pregnant and suffer more trauma, pain and risk dying as a result of that rape.

Although Plan B was eventually approved by the FDA for over-the-counter sale, women (especially young women) are still denied access, thus women’s human rights have been subordinated to rapists’ sperm under the guise of “religious liberty.”

According to the Duvall Project[11], only 47% of Pennsylvania hospital emergency rooms offer information about or directly provide emergency contraception to rape victims as part of a basic standard of care. The CARE Act — Senate Bill 990 and House Bill 2159 — is critical Pennsylvania state legislation that would protect the human rights of rape victims by ensuring that rape victims get comprehensive medical care, including emergency contraception, when they present at emergency rooms.

But “religious liberty” was once again used to rob women of their human rights by state lawmakers whose amendments to the CARE Act added a religious facilities exception creating two classes of rape victims: One group would get comprehensive care including access to emergency contraception while the other group of rape victims would be denied that care because they were unlucky enough to be taken by ambulance to a Catholic hospital or living in a region where the only hospital was a religiously affiliated facility that does not believe that women deserve comprehensive care, giving extra reproductive rights to rapists at the expense of their victims.[12]

No woman should be forced to suffer additional emotional and physical trauma of an unwanted and medically risky pregnancy after a rape and given inferior medical treatment because of medical facilities’ or individual practitioners’ religious beliefs. Sexual assault is dehumanizing. For survivors to regain their sense of self-worth and control over their bodies, which serves the common good for all in society, comprehensive care should not take a back seat to someone else’s religion or “moral beliefs.”

Ensuring that rape victims are able to get emergency contraception helps survivors regain a sense of control over their own bodies and lives following sexual assault. The FDA approval for over-the-counter sales of Plan B has only removed a small portion of the barriers for women who have been raped. Women under 17 still need a prescription.

In rural areas like Erie County where the nearest Planned Parenthood is two hours’ drive away in Ohio which does not accept Pennsylvania (or any other state’s) Medicaid, women still have difficulty getting to a pharmacy that will sell it since this item is still kept behind pharmacy counters where the on-duty pharmacy staff takes control away from women by capriciously refusing to sell it to them — with or without a prescription. The price of emergency contraceptives ranges from $50 to $250 for a single dose. This leaves poor women without resources and a car in rural regions like Erie County, Pennsylvania without adequate remedy at law.

Although the City of Erie has a family planning clinic, Adagio Health, which provides some limited birth control options, Adagio will not provide emergency contraception or referrals for emergency contraception or abortion, no matter what the woman’s circumstance is.

This allows strangers to use their conscientious refusal rights to legally act as collaborators and accomplices with rapists in the commission of sexual/reproductive violence against women and girls — turning poor rural parts of the state into de facto government-approved open-air rape gulags. This scenario is common across the US.

The basic human rights to bodily autonomy and bodily integrity should never be framed as a social class privilege that only some people deserve based on socio-economic status, gender, race, or geography at the whim of strangers whose bodies and lives are not 100% at risk in unwanted and/or medically dangerous pregnancies — especially as a result of rape. Meanwhile, several Congressmen have pushed laws forward that redefine “rape” to further disenfranchise rape victims.

What other subgroup of the population is it acceptable to strip of their dignity and basic human rights in the name of “religious liberty” or “states’ rights?”

A more recent study in 2011 conducted by Dr. Tracey Wilkinson[13], a general pediatrics fellow at Boston Medical Center/Boston University School of Medicine revealed that although it’s legal for 17 year olds to get emergency contraception (and those younger with prescriptions), pharmacy employees are misinforming teens by telling them they’re not allowed to get it, or saying that they don’t carry it even when it is in stock behind pharmacy counters. Wilkinson’s study showed that 1 in 5 young women are denied emergency contraception on the whim of pharmacy staff.

For this study, researchers posing as 17 year old girls and doctors seeking help for 17 year old patients called every pharmacy in five US cities asking about the availability and accessibility of emergency contraception. All callers asked questions from a script. The results showed that 19% of the 17 year olds were told that they couldn’t get it under any circumstances while only 3% of the doctors were told the same thing. Pharmacy staff gave the wrong information 43% of the time.

Wilkinson’s study shows there seems to be a deliberate attempt to force teen girls into unwanted pregnancies because of “moral beliefs” about teen girls and sex, regardless if the sex is consensual of not. Despite this, US Department of Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius invoked her authority to overrule the FDA’s recommendation to make emergency contraception available without a prescription to young women under age 17 even though most maternal deaths from complications during pregnancy or childbirth occur at both ends of the maternal age spectrum: girls under 20 and women over 35.

According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, approximately 750,000 girls between the ages of 15 and 19 become pregnant every year and 85% of those pregnancies are unintended. The September-October 2007 issue of Ambulatory Pediatrics published a study by Dr. Elizabeth Miller and her research colleagues which showed that 26% of the teen girls studied responded that their partners actively tried to get them pregnant against their will by manipulating condom use, sabotaging the girls’ contraceptive use, and lying (“I’m sterile”), or making explicit statements about wanting to make the girls pregnant. Dr. Miller recalled one girl who came to her clinic for a pregnancy test and emergency contraception after the test showed negative for pregnancy — the girl was thrown down a flight of stairs by her boyfriend two weeks later. The micro mirrors the macro.

Nearly every sex education program fails to address the problem of forced pregnancy by abusive males who are using their penises like a loaded weapon to abuse, dominate, and utterly destroy women in our culture of impunity.

Dr. Elizabeth Miller’s newest study published in the January 2010 issue of the journal Contraception showed that 74% of women aged 18-49 reported having experienced some form of reproductive abuse, including forced unprotected intercourse, refusal to withdraw as promised, the sabotaging of condoms, flushing birth control pills down the toilet, and removing contraceptive patches and rings. Women who did become pregnant as a result were coerced or forced into going along with their partners’ wishes, who in some cases threatened to kill them if they got an abortion. These figures are consistent from clinic to clinic.[14]

Not one law has been passed to criminally prosecute men who cause injury, disability or death to women through the reproductive abuse of forced pregnancy and birth.

The US has a higher maternal death rate than 40 other countries. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that two-thirds of maternal deaths in the US go unreported or are misclassified. Only 24 states have mandatory reporting laws for adverse pregnancy/childbirth/post-partum events. For each death, there are about 50 instances of complications related to pregnancy or childbirth that are life-threatening or cause permanent damage; and the “near misses”— including kidney failure, respiratory distress syndrome, shock, and the need for blood transfusions and ventilation — rose 25% from the late 1990’s to 2005. [15]

The percentage of unreported or misclassified maternal deaths was particularly high for women at the extremes of maternal age distribution. Half of all maternal deaths among teenagers and more than half of all maternal deaths among women over age 35 were misclassified or unreported. The US currently has no uniform method for reporting maternal deaths, something which certified midwife Ina May Gaskin brought attention to. The leading causes of maternal death — which is defined as all deaths causally related to pregnancy and childbirth — are hemorrhage, pulmonary hypertension, amniotic embolism, air embolism, and pregnancy/childbirth related cardiovascular disorder.

A pregnant woman or a woman who has recently given birth is more likely to die as the result of a cardiovascular disorder than any other cause. 6 out of 10 maternal deaths among 14-19 year olds were caused by cardiovascular disorder.

The lack of complete reporting of maternal deaths has led to misconceptions regarding the magnitude of the problem of maternal mortality. The findings of the underreporting of maternal deaths report compiled by Isabelle Horon with the Vital Statistics Administration of Maryland also reveal that a larger portion of maternal deaths from pregnancy complications in women who had not yet delivered were unreported, and deaths among this subgroup of pregnant women represented 19.3% of all maternal deaths for which the time of death was known.[16]

In March 2010, Amnesty International released its own report, “Deadly Delivery”, on the increasing maternal death rate in the US, which is double those in Canada, Britain and Western Europe — all countries in which women have wide access to birth control and safe, legal medical abortion These are all countries whose abortion rates are far lower than those in the US.

There is no question that an increasing lack of access to contraceptives, abortion, and voluntary sterilization due to the tremendous political and financial clout used by religious lobbies like the USCCB and the increased power over public policy have not only contributed to high maternal mortality and morbidity rates and the skewing of these statistics (which are used to justify legislation and shape public policy), but have also acted in synergy with deeply institutionalized misogyny to deprive women of human rights — in the name of “religious liberty” and “moral beliefs” — while actively promoting a de facto state establishment of religious policies that impact the public in violation of the spirit of the US Constitution.

Regarding maternal death and extreme misery and suffering that could be easily avoided through better access to contraception, sterilization, and abortion, Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, responded by saying, “Only God has absolute dominion over human life.” He cites scripture to support mother-killing and the deprivation of women’s human rights: “None of us lives as his own master and done of us dies as his own master.” (Romans 14:7)

On his website, Pavone states: “This is also the reason contraception is wrong. God’s dominion over human life does not begin at conception. It begins in eternity” and he cites the same Biblical verse that undergirds the Christian patriarchy movement known as Quiverfull: “Happy the man who has filled his quiver with arrows!” (Psalm 127:5)

Lisa Metzger of the Quiverfull movement says, regarding her thoughts on the high risk of maternal death and morbidity within the Christian patriarchy community, that she is “obeying by giving God the keys to my womb…It’s his domain to create life!”

Regarding abortion, contraception, or sterilization to preserve a woman’s health or save her life, even if that life-threatening pregnancy was the result of a rape and even if her death will leave orphaned children, Metzger cites scripture to justify compulsory maternity at all costs: “No man can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for him…” (Psalm 49:7) and “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this little thing, why worry about the rest? O you of little faith!” (Luke 12:25, Jesus speaking)

The proliferation of “pro-lifers” and Christians into the medical field, particularly in obstetrics and gynecology, is leaving more women than ever before unable to obtain birth control to defend their bodies from medically dangerous and/or unwanted pregnancies. Women need to ensure their doctor’s or pharmacist’s religious or “moral” beliefs won’t cost them their lives or deprive them of full reproductive health care. Googling some examples of anti-contraception/anti-abortion physicians turned up some interesting results regarding doctors who read a book by Randy Alcorn:

“No pro-life physician can rightly prescribe birth control pills after reviewing this data. I have started circulating this information.”  ~ Randall Martin, MD, Chairman, Department of Anesthesiology, Columbia Willamette Valley Medical Center

“Scientific papers suggest that escape ovulation occurs 4-15% of all cycles in patients taking birth control pills. Thus, as this book points out, early chemical abortions are a real concern.” ~ Paddy Jim Baggot, MD, OB/GYN, Fellow of the American College of Medical Genetics

“In this challenging book Randy Alcorn has the honesty to face a tough and uncomfortable question. The compelling evidence will make you rethink the question of birth control.” ~ John Brose, MD, Surgeon

Women need to thoroughly investigate where their doctors, midwives, and pharmacists stand before investing any money and trust into a doctor-patient relationship. And this is all the more compelling of a reason why Title X funding should be increased, NOT decreased, for Planned Parenthood — women know that at least there they can get their reproductive health needs met without ugly surprises that could cost them their lives because of a medical professional’s “moral” beliefs.

Doctors, physician assistants, pharmacists, nurse practitioners, SANE’s, and midwives, et al, are products of the same deeply misogynistic society that produced Rush Limbaugh and Rick Santorum. Misogyny runs rampant in the medical community as it does throughout the rest of the social fabric. Abuse of gravid women during labor in delivery rooms by medical professionals is not uncommon.[17] Women have come forward and sued for physical and psychological abuse during childbirth. That abuse includes intimidation, coercion of unnecessary medical procedures, verbal abuse, and denial of adequate pain relief during labor, even during episiotomy repair.[18]

Across the US childbearing women continue to be abused physically and psychologically on a level that would constitute sexual assault and torture under any other context. Women are frequently punished by those in whose hands their health and lives are entrusted for failing to be sufficiently submissive to those in power over them in the top-down authoritarian structure of Western medicine.

Cruelty and abuse against women is reaffirmed and legitimized by the prominence of religious influence in government policy and public affairs. No other group of people is allowed to be tortured, abused, maimed, oppressed, or enslaved in the name of “religious liberty.” Until women are codified into the Constitution as full “persons” and “citizens” that are just as deserving of respect and equal protection of the law as men, and until women are viewed as being human enough for harm against us to matter, it is not safe to be a woman in the US.

Regardless of what faith one professes, a woman’s uterus is not designed to handle unmitigated, endless cycles of pregnancy and childbirth. A 2006 study pointed out that women who bear children at intervals of 18 months or less have a shorter lifespan and more health problems overall.

According to Stephanie Coontz, director of Research and Public Education at the Council on Contemporary Families, anti-contraception groups like Quiverfull and their Catholic counterparts have influenced government policy and laws under the guise of moral beliefs “to the extent that people get in positions of authority and planning — for instance, in the Department of Health & Human Services where they have control over abstinence-only education funds. Then you have choices being made behind closed doors about the options that will be available for everyone.”

R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary is considered one of the leading intellectuals of evangelical Christianity in the US. In a December 2005 column in The Christian Post titled, “Can Christians Use Birth Control?” Mohler wrote:

“The effective separation of sex from procreation may be one of the most defining marks of our age — and one of the most ominous. This awareness is spreading among American evangelicals, and it threatens to set loose a firestorm…A growing number of evangelicals are rethinking the issue of birth control — and forcing the hard questions posed by reproductive technologies.”

The intellectual force behind the assault on contraceptives and comprehensive sex education is Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation who worked with Mohler to push a religious agenda centered on taking away women’s rights to self-determination. Rector wrote some of the federal legislation mandating abstinence-only sex education which has not reduced the rates of teen pregnancy. Mohler and Rector admitted to having an agenda of social engineering to force a change in behavior and in the way people think about sex — using the bodies of women and girls as human shields in their ideological war against the life, liberty, justice, and freedom of women.

Cheryl Seelhof and Vyckie Garrison who both left the Quiverfull/Christian patriarchy movement have told how this misogynist ideology masquerading as a religious belief deserving of extra protection played a role in the unreporting/misclassification of maternal mortality and morbidity rates and how the impact of Quiverfull ideology permeates public policy to the detriment of women’s lives. Seelhof said, “My whole family is conservative Christian…my mom and dad are Bush Republicans and subscribe to Rush Limbaugh’s publication.”

One woman who had six children and left Quiverfull told about the Christian patriarchy/Quiverfull communities’ standard practice of concealing maternal deaths from health and government agencies. She was a small Christian news journal publisher. She was told by others in the community not to publish any stories that would reveal the high maternal death rates. “The woman had been told from childhood she could not have children because of her heart problems. She got married and “left it to the Lord” and got pregnant and she and her husband decided to “trust God.” She died in childbirth at home…my columnist asked me not to tell anybody — the husband, the family, all in Bill Gothard’s program — didn’t want anyone to know. Which is typical of these folks. Don’t talk about the women who die in childbirth. Or the ones who attempt VBAC’s against all odds. Don’t get me wrong, I am totally supportive of VBAC’s for most women who have had C-sections, but sometimes it isn’t a good thing…one woman I know, her uterus ruptured along the old C-section scar and she nearly died, had to have blood transfusions, and then had to return home to her large family with a newborn. They don’t talk about the abuse…Many women left this movement and continue to leave, although at great cost. I have worked with women who have had emotional breakdowns and have been institutionalized, who have had to try to make it on their own with no employment background, no references (all their references turned against them when they left), 6-12 children to take care of and exes who refused to pay child support and were protected in that by church men.”

Without the right to control whether or not she gets pregnant or carries an unwanted pregnancy to term, a woman faces a potential life-threatening or health-compromising pregnancy every year from menarche to menopause — for 30 to 40 years of her life, unless a high risk pregnancy or sudden childbirth complication kills her before middle-age like unmitigated childbearing did to 1 in 5 women as recently as 1950; 22 years before the US Supreme Court ruling on Eisenstadt v. Baird (1972) which gave unmarried women the right to birth control access regardless of marital status.

To deny women the right to prevent or terminate an unwanted or medically risky pregnancy is to consequently deny her all basic human rights. It’s not a separate issue. It’s not a “special interest” issue. It’s not a frivolous issue. Not if one is a woman. It affects everything in her life. The right to determine what happens to your own body, the fundamental human rights of bodily autonomy and bodily integrity, are the sine qua non of ALL rights — including the right to “freedom of religion.”

If women’s human rights can be discarded, ignored, or postponed, then lawmakers are once again placing issues that directly and specifically relate to men at the top. There is no democracy or fairness in any sense of the word if double standards drive the issues. Democracy, freedom, and justice for only half the population but not the other is real no freedom or justice at all.

Throughout history, women have always been involved in the fight for labor (primarily benefiting white males), for the abolition of slavery, for the end of Jim Crow, for Civil Rights, and for LGBT rights. But as a class, women are still without equal rights as persons and citizens, or even basic human rights to our own bodies and lives. That is what is so patently wrong.

Don’t think that writing laws on any issue that brushes women aside by making men the default “normal” and therefore making women invisible, is something that can be “fixed” to include or benefit women later. That rarely, if ever, happens.

The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was defeated in 1980. Women still do not have explicit citizen rights and personhood status protection, or even basic human rights in this country. What does it say about women’s status in this country if less than half the states supported an amendment for equal rights that many men claim women already have? Why not just pass the ERA? Unless the reason perhaps is that most men really don’t want women to have basic human rights.

If women have no rights to self-determination and bodily autonomy, then the economy, jobs, education, infrastructure, defense, religious liberty, and all the rest no longer matters.


[1] http://abcnews.go.com/WN/Media/church-excommunicates-nun-authorized-emergency-abortion-save-mothers/story?id=10799745#.T4J2TdVX3As ; “Nun Excommunicated After Saving a Mother’s Life With Abortion”, Dan Harris and Claudia Morales, CBS News, June 1, 2010

[2] Angela M. Foster, Amanda Dennis, and Fiona Smith, IBIS Reproductive Health Study 2009, National Women’s Law Center; http://www.nwlc.org/resource/below-radar-fact-sheet-religious-refusals-treat-pregnancy-complications-put-women-danger

[3] Lori R. Freedman, PhD, Uta Landy, PhD, and Jody Steinauer, MD, “When There’s a Heartbeat: Miscarriage Management in Catholic-Owned Hospitals”, peer reviewed, American Journal of Public Health, October 2008, vol. 98, No. 10

[4] Lori R. Freedman, PhD and Debra Stulberg, MD: “Standards in Conflict: How Catholic healthcare doctrine interacts with OB/GYN physician practice.”

[5] Freedman and Stulberg interview with Dr. Gwen Patterson, OB/GYN at Sierra Vista Regional Health Center in Sierra Vista, Arizona, November 17th 2010. (Sierra Vista is the only hospital in this rural Arizona three-county area situated near the Mexican-US border.)

[7] Health Care Refusals: Undermining Quality Care for Women, 2010; National Health Law Program, Los Angeles, CA

[8] “States of Denial”, Abby Christopher, Women’s World, Aug 18th 2004; http://www.wworld.org/crisis/crisis.asp?ID=455

[10] “Denial of rape victim’s pills raises debate”, Associated Press, Feb 24th 2004

[12] Memorandum to Pennsylvania Senate from Larry Frankel, Legislative Director of PA ACLU; Oct 6th 2006 (re: Senate Bill 990); http://www.aclupa.org/downloads/MemotoPASenateDB990.pdf

[13] “Pharmacies deter teens from Plan B, study shows”, Linda Carroll, http://vitals.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/03/26/10834545-pharmacies-deter-teens-from-plan-b-study-shows

[14] “When Teen Pregnancy is No Accident”, Lynn Harris, The Nation, May 24th 2010; http://www.thenation.com/article/when-teen-pregnancy-no-accident

[15] “Maternal Deaths in the United States: A Problem Solved or a Problem Ignored?”, Ina May Gaskin, CPM, MA, The Journal of Perinatal Education, v. 17(2); Spring 2008

[16] Isabelle L. Horon, Dr. PH, “Underreporting of Maternal Deaths on Death Certificates and the Magnitude od the Problem of maternal Mortality”, American Journal of Public Health, March 2005; v.95(3):478-482.

[18] Catherine Skol v. Scott Pierce, MD, OB/GYN, Rush University Medical Center (2009), “Defendant Pierce told nurse LeJeune Dixon-Pickett that Plaintiff  Skol ‘deserved to feel pain’.”

Religious Freedom Rights v. Women’s Rights to Life and Bodily Autonomy

March 27, 2012

Solidarity for the Few

November 12, 2011

By Jacqueline S. Homan, author: Classism For Dimwits and Divine Right

This movement struck me as being centered on young middle class white males, and they’re not welcoming or receptive of older people — including older people who have a lifetime’s worth of experience and battle scars from fighting the oppression created by unearned privilege. And according to Reena Walker, a seasoned older black woman and veteran activist, male privilege and how it is used by men in the 99% to beat women down and oppress us is ignored or rationalized by a busload of mansplaining. As a black woman who suffered a lifetime of poverty, sexism, racism and misogyny, Ms. Walker is hardly one of the 1% and yet the way she and other women are being treated at OWS sends the message that women (who make up 51% of the 99%) aren’t viewed as being human enough for harm against us to matter. Funny how freedom and economic justice is only for a few which usually does not include women. Some 99%ers are more equal than others.

It is no accident that women comprise over 70% of those living below poverty worldwide. The status quo of local and global capitalism depends on women’s unpaid/under-paid work. It could not survive without women’s unpaid work as primary caregivers, the childbearers, and the child-raisers. Capitalism is patriarchal to the core. The poorest of the world’s poor are women who also do upwards of two-thirds of the world’s work and own only 1% of the means of production and reproduction. Women hold up half the sky on our unpaid/under-paid backs.

Despite all of the claims by Occupy facilitators that rapes are not occurring at the Occupy Toronto camp at St. James Park, a few men from the Aboriginal community who are staying in the camp full time say otherwise. One of those men, identifying himself only as “Davine”, who is half Blackfoot and half Arab, said that the camp’s marshals have not been able to minimize or prevent sexual assaults on the women there and that “these [white] people are coming to us Natives for help.” What is really tragic in all this is that one of those Natives — Jayson Fleury — is a real opportunistic shmuck and sociopathic grifter who has ripped off poor and marginal women to support his lifestyle of partying across Canada 3-4 times a year. And he is one of a tiny handful of men who is willing to protect the women from rape. How sad is that?

What is supposed to be a movement about unity of the masses against the 1% is really looking more like the same ol’ same ol’: freedom and economic justice and a bigger slice of the pie for men; rape, invalidation, exploitation, abuse, oppression and discrimination against the poorest and most downtrodden victims of capitalism — poor women of ALL races. Somehow, I don’t find that very unifying, uplifting, or liberating as a poor and marginal woman.

And please don’t tell me that women’s human rights — including the right to a job with dignity, the right to an education, the right to food, housing, and healthcare, and the right to reproductive/sexual enfranchisement and bodily autonomy/self-determination, and most important of all, the right to NOT be raped and impregnated against our will at peril to our health, well-being, liberty, and lives — is less important that “the big picture” of those traditionally privileged members of the 99% getting their justice at poor and destitute women’s expense in the name of “social justice.” Sorry, but I’m not down with that.

As a woman from deep poverty who suffered more under capitalism than poor men due to institutionalized sexism, misogyny, and the social acceptance of patriarchy and its culture of rape, I have no interest in “taking one for the team” for the sake of the 99% movement (which is looking more like a Rapists’ Rights bowel movement) just so men can get a bigger slice of the economic pie while nothing changes for the better for women, especially poor and marginal women of all races.

Since colonization of North America, women in the US and Canada have been told to wait until after the men got all the more important issues resolved and then we women would eventually get our turn. But our turn never came — at least not for those of us in extreme poverty that never got to make it to even the lowest rung of the middle class. But then this Occupy movement has never been about us, has it?

A glaring example is the Occupy Vancouver list of demands included a call for the legalization of prostitution. Prostitution is rich white male-centered. It exists because capitalism is patriarchal and there’s a direct link between that and human trafficking and rape. Also at the crux of it is the larger societal view of women as non-persons, as cheap commodities that exist solely for male self-gratification.  These issues cannot be bifurcated.

Desperation, poverty, abuse, addiction, job and pay discrimination, lack of opportunities and a need to pay the rent and feed the kids, a history of colonialism, racism, sexism, and a misogynistic culture that devalues women and reduces us to disposable products to be bought and sold — all act in synergy to create a society where prostitution and sex trafficking exists and flourishes with men being the prime beneficiaries of it while women are further victimized.

What kind of social justice movement seeking to rectify the injustices of capitalism and the inclusion of women in the name of solidarity is this, anyway?

Why is the response to the rapes, the abuse, the exploitation, the trauma and the deaths that many poor and marginal women suffer as a result of being prostituted to simply treat this as “just another job”? What other job demands that the worker be raped, impregnated against their will, infected with an STD, violated, abused, and maybe even murdered? What kind of person supports that this sort of treatment should be legitimized? What kind of person seeking solidarity with women — especially poor and marginal women — would agree that women’s bodies should just be another disposable commodity available for purchase by men and that every woman should be OK with that?

Women need to be safe, but how safe are women when we’re not even viewed as full human beings? Yes, prostituted women deserve rights. But they also deserve to have real choices. Why would anyone think that johns will provide equitable treatment and respect for women? No man who thinks he has the right to trade in human flesh or take a woman against her will is a man who believes in real equality. A man who can do this is a man who doesn’t see women as being human enough for harm against us to matter. We should not have to accept and legalize exploitation and oppression from men in order to decriminalize the women being prostituted in the name of “unity.”

Legalized prostitution neatly sweeps under the wraps the insidious human rights catastrophe of the global human/sex trafficking industry. Women ensnared in that are literally forced into brutal sex slavery; bought and sold, beaten and raped over and over and over. Approximately 80% of those trafficked are women and girls. The average age of a trafficking victim is 14. The average life span once trafficked is 4 years. The victims usually die from HIV/AIDS related complications after being forced (often violently) to give unprotected sex to their male purchasers. Legalizing and sugar-coating the exploitation of women does not protect our human rights. It undermines them.

A genuine unity and people’s movement doesn’t consider women’s suffering irrelevant, or as a trivial “special interest”, or as titillating grist. Nor does it function as a microcosm of this capitalist economy with men competing for all the power, wealth, and status at the top while women serve as mere cheerleaders and poster children only to be trotted out for the convenience and benefit of male privilege.

Women deserve safety and decriminalized from doing what they have to do in order to survive, but women also deserve to have real options. As 51% of the population, women should be 51% represented in all mainstream jobs, instead of being herded into pink collar-ghettos, and the sub-poverty glass ceiling of Wal-Mart with the exploitative sex industry as the only other option available for poor women for whom college and grad school is as out of reach as a day trip to Sedna while male high school drop-outs and ex-felons get all the good-paying blue-collar union jobs in the skilled trades and all of the opportunities and hope for a better life that goes with that at the expense of women’s exclusion.

Women make up more than half of the 99%. Where is our liberation from male oppression and domination through rape, “honor killing”, FGM, hiring and pay discrimination, sexual and reproductive slavery, human trafficking, sexual exploitation, and domestic violence which are the all too common realities of women’s lives every day?  These are the realities that are disproportionally inflicted on poor and marginal women by men in the 99%. Yet these are all dismissed as “special interest issues” that are accepted as part of “the price of being born female”, which is why anti-oppression is needed.  And that is why a movement of unity for real social and economic change must be willing to accept constructive criticism and not get offended when male privilege is challenged.

What is uplifting, unifying, or liberating about Occupy camp facilitators designating untrained peers as “marshals” to serve as the “sexual assault response team” to deal with the rapes — not by offering rape kits that include emergency contraception and STD testing/treatment, and the arrest/removal of the rapist, but by counseling (read: pressuring) the women who’ve been raped against going to the police? (Not that the criminal justice system has ever been any panacea for women, especially rape victims — police, lawyers, and judges are products of the same patriarchal, misogynist, fetid capitalist sepulcher that has always oppressed and abused women through unearned male privilege at women’s expense. )

I have no interest in being ill-used and thrown under the bus for the sake of “solidarity” with fauxgressives just so that men can get justice while nothing changes for the better for poor women of all races.

If destitute and marginal women of all races are at these camps, it is because this shit is real for us. We have been the most oppressed, the most excluded, the most downtrodden, and the most harmed by the inherent injustices of capitalism which is inherently a gender war. Chronically poor and marginal women don’t have the safety nets that young working class and middle class white males have: the freedom from potentially life-threatening unwanted pregnancy, or the privilege of a job and/or families with resources to return to at the end of all this.

Indiana Jones Would Not Have Done Things This Way

October 14, 2011

By Jacqueline S. Homan, author of Classism For Dimwits and Divine Right: The Truth is a Lie

 

On September 2009, Archeological Services, Inc. (ASI), a firm owned by de-licensed archeologist Ron Williamson, presented a 19-page report to the City of Toronto Parks & Forestry Department concerning a contested mound site in High Park known as the Snake Mounds — a site that the Iroquois community holds is an ancient burial ground dating back 3,000 years or more.

The archeological report containing obscure, abstract jargon among its litany of big words, for which a glossary of terms was conveniently omitted, was prepared by Brian Narhi, Project Historian and David Robertson, Senior Archeologist and Project Manager, Debbie Steiss (Ron Williamson’s wife), Senior Archeologist & Partner, and Andrea Carnevale, Staff Archeologist. It claims that no evidence of any artifacts were found during ASI’s field investigation of Picnic Area 7 and the Snake Mounds portion of the park commonly referred to as the “Bike Pit” where BMX dirt bike ramps were built on the contested site. The executive summary reads as follows:

“The Stage 1-2 Archeological Resources Assessment of the High Park “Bike Pit” and Picnic Area 7 has been carried out in advance of any park management activities that may result in landscape alteration in either area. The Stage 1 assessment entailed consideration of the proximity of the previously registered archeological sites, the original environmental setting of the park, and its 19th and 20th century development history. The Stage 2 assessment involved completion of test pit surveys within both areas. No archeological remains were encountered during the field investigations. Accordingly, this report recommends that the Bike Pit and Picnic Area 7 may be cleared of any further archeological concern, with the proviso that the appropriate authorities must be notified should deeply buried archeological or human remains be encountered during any future work on the property.”

There are a few major problems with this report. First, there is only the say-so of ASI that 40 test pits of a depth of 6”-10” deep each were dug throughout the site on Friday September 4th 2009 before Labor Day weekend.  Curiously, the team did all of this test-pit digging within a span of three to four hours, quitting before noon — as normal for archeological field work on a Friday. What an amazing feat when you consider that no automation or machinery was employed to aid in their expedition.

Moreover, standard industry practice is that you dig until you hit clay. You don’t hit clay at 6”- 10” in Ontario, Canada. Further, no pictures document this “work.” There is only a picture of one test pit, and that one was dug on the outer perimeter of the Snake Mound in a location where nobody goes because it not conveniently accessible and it is overgrown with poison ivy.

Why would these “professionals” with their $64 million dollar vocabularies and their ability to compose lofty, intimidating word salads that merely serve to baffle the public, fail to use their impressive educations — signified by their fancy degrees commensurate with the intellectual prowess they claim to possess — choose the wrong area for their one and only test pit that was shown in the report?

Why choose the poison ivy patch on the outer region that is in a remote area where it is unlikely that anything would turn up? That leaves one wondering whether these “professionals” are really as smart and competent as they say they are. Or did they purposely choose an area for their test pit that was unlikely to support the Iroquois community’s claims of a burial site, knowing that they should have instead dug in the middle while deliberately misleading the public with their word salad that amounts to verbal fertilizer?

In their report they use terms like “Stage 1”, “Stage 2”, “flutings”, and “drumlinized” without defining them for lay people to be able to understand, even if they read it with an Oxford dictionary on hand to look up half of the jargon they used. There can be only two possible reasons for doing that. Either they want to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes to get away with something, or they want to puff themselves up with self-importance like peacocks showing off their plumage with the specific intent of belittling and disparaging the Iroquois First Nations community who advanced the claim of a historical burial site just to make the Native community look bad.

Yet, it is precisely these types of highly educated and economically successful professionals that always seem to float to the top of the socio-economic pool — just like excrement.

It takes an enormous amount of ego and shameless narcissism for privileged people to knowingly, consciously, and deliberately use their social class privileges, prestige, and advanced educations to get over on others — especially others who overwhelmingly rank among the most downtrodden in society — without any regard for their human rights; including their right to culture.

Stage 1 means doing a cursory walk-about, looking on the surface for any archeological remains on the ground. Stage 2 means doing a small, shallow test pit, digging only 6”-10” deep. Had ASI done a Stage 1 in the mounds area itself, the area where the BMX bike ramps were built, they would have found what I, myself, a volunteer, a parks department worker, and those in the First Nations community found during the week of the peace and restoration camp this past May. They would have found the large chunks of obsidian, arrowheads, the large amounts of red and yellow ochre (which are not commonly found in such large quantities as natural deposits in this area as this had to be harvested and transported from elsewhere), the bone fragment; or the marine sea shells (these were also used in some funerary rites) that are consistent with a salian coastal plane environment — not consistent with downtown Toronto, or the shores of fresh water bodies such as Lake Ontario or Lake Erie. [See more about the artifacts on the Taiaiako'n Historical Preservation Society website.]

ASI’s report refutes the claim that the Snake Mounds is an ancient burial site because, in their collective “expert” opinion, ASI’s team of archeologists think that the Snake Mound site in High Park was formed naturally by wind, water, and glacier retreat; using the term “drumlinized” to describe that.

But that doesn’t square with what others have found at the Snake Mound site. You would not find obsidian, mica, white clay, marine animal shells, or an arrowhead or a bone fragment or a piece of an ancient stone plate (commonly used in these sorts of burial mounds as a marker) in a drumlin. Nor would a drumlin have hollowed out subterranean chambers, which you can tell by walking over. Any rock or other substance left by glacial retreat in a drumlin would be consistent with those typically found in an area of glacial retreat.

So how did they miss all that?

Had these highly educated “professionals” chosen their test pit another 3-4 feet in towards the center from the outer-most rim, they would have found what we found: The first arrowhead, followed by the second arrowhead that was uncovered in the middle of the mound during the peace camp’s deconstruction of the BMX dirt bike ramps. So how did ASI’s team of “experts” miss all that? Did they deliberately want to miss it, and if so, whose interests are being served?

Owing to environmental assessments and policy, archeologists are only required to test 10% of any given site under question. How convenient that ASI picked the most obscure, outer-most region to do their test pit where you’re not likely to find anything. Coincidence?

The executive summary of their report clears the City of Toronto of any responsibility to protect the Snake Mound site, and gives the city the green light to develop that portion of the park in any way they want — including perhaps even selling off that portion of the park to wealthy private real estate developers. Who stands to benefit under that scenario, and at whose loss and expense?

Let’s be honest, shall we. It is no secret that government and a phalanx of upper-middle class highly credentialed experts serve the interests of those who have been the most enriched and who have received the most societal benefits from an entire system of unearned privileges — the sine qua non of colonialism, feudalism, and capitalism.

And it is also no secret that the winners of this same system conveniently created the rules to favor the most privileged, dismissing aboriginal people’s oral histories by only recognizing documentation including confusing and intimidating word salads that really don’t say anything or serve any function other than to uphold and perpetuate a system of unearned privileges designed to enrich a few at the expense of the many under the habiliments of “democracy.”

 

Stepping Into the Twilight Zone of Cultural Racism and the Oppression of Unearned Privilege

October 3, 2011

By Jacqueline S. Homan, author: Classism For Dimwits and Divine Right

Twilight Zone  ~ Golden Earring

“Help, I’m steppin’ into the Twilight Zone
Place is a madhouse
Feels like being cloned
My beacons been moved
Under moon and star
Where am I to go Now that I’ve gone too far
Soon you will come to know
When the bullet hits the bone”

On Wednesday September 28th 2011, I entered the Twilight Zone. The High Park Resources Group which oversees the activities of Toronto’s High Park met to discuss Scott Laver’s agenda for a proposed BMX “skills building” park in High Park on the Owl Mound and the parking lot contiguous to the Owl Mound and the Snake Mound. Both of these mounds are of cultural significance to the Native community. The meeting was chaired by Jorge Ture, the supervisor of High Park.

Scott Laver, a Parks Department employee and liaison for the BMX community, came to the meeting — not to present a polite request for a BMX park in High Park, but to ram this plan down the Native community’s throats with no regard whatsoever for the Indigenous people’s threatened and endangered culture. Laver said that the kids involved with BMX “skill building” will continue their recreation on the Native mound sites and wooded areas of High Park anyway — implying that city might as well accommodate them by sacrificing a Native sacred site so the precious darlings don’t mess up the rest of the park or interfere with other people’s peaceful enjoyment of the park.

Laver apparently had already decided to foist this upon the public without any intention of seriously considering alternative sites, three of which were suggested by Graham Seaman, Vice President of the Toronto Off Road Bicyclists Association (TORBA):

Option 1 – Open grassy area in Kings Mill Park
Option 2 – Open grassy area in Humber Marshes Park
Option 3 – Open grassy area in South Humber Park

Laver insisted that High Park’s current permissible uses be changed to allow for a BMX park to be built, saying, “Emerging demands of BMXing is incompatible with High Park’s current uses.”

He said that the parking lot next to the Owl Mound and Snake Mound “had been identified to accommodate a professionally designed skills park facility” that would offer technically challenging riding in a controlled environment. He also said that the City of Toronto’s Parks Department had hired a BMX park designer, Jay Hoots from BC, for the project.

Had the city checked out Jay Hoots, they would know that Hoots got his panties in a wad over losing the contract to build the Kitchener BMX park because he overcharged and then allegedly harassed the actual builder for out-bidding him. Jay Hoots will cost Torontonians more money — twice as much — for the same type of park that could be designed and built by locals with equipment and experience. Why aren’t the taxpayers of Toronto getting a say in whether or not a local contractor hiring local labor is used to plan and build the park?

Rastia’ta’non:ha, Director of the Taiaiako’n Historical Preservation Society (THPS), previously said “no” to this same proposal given by the Parks Department back in May and that this position remains unchanged. Laver argued that “the kids have nowhere else to go.”

Adrian Rhodes challenged that claim, pointing out that there were other more suitable areas that many BMXers also were agreeable to, including a small parkette just north of High Park and that there already were three existing BMX facilities, including the Wallace & Emerson BMX park.

Additionally there was an old unused hockey rink that could be converted for BMXing. But Laver said the existing places were unsuitable, that the kids had set fire to the ramps at Wallace & Emerson rendering it unusable, and that the hockey rink was a no-go because the kids want a BMX park in a natural terrain.

When it was suggested that the BMX park could be built in the Humber Bay area, which is a natural environment, Laver rejected that idea as well, saying “If we build it there, they won’t come. It has to be in High Park” — which implies threats of mayhem from the tantrum-throwing BMX community who bully others in order to get their way. Catherine Tammaro of Huron-Wendat descent and THPS Board member responded by asking why children and adults who had virtually destroyed a large area of forested oak savannah in the park and a sacred space, should be placated as a preventive to further illegal and destructive behavior on their part, in fact seemingly rewarding them for such behavior. She also suggested that all mounds in the park be preserved and protected which would bring admiration from the global community, rather than serving the wants of a very small, ill-behaved group.

Posts from the BMX community at Dropmachine.com forums suggest that BMXers are not the sort of people who believe the law applies to them. One of the posts states that “No one but the riders, ourselves, can determine what will make the park fun and desirable. Not the city.” These aren’t exactly the types who are willing to observe any ordinances and stay in their areas allowed by the city, regardless of what is built for them or where.

If these kids and young adult BMXers have such little appreciation for one of the sites they already had that they set on fire, why should these punks and thugs be rewarded for arson and vandalism by getting another one built for them on taxpayer money just so they can eventually destroy that one too? That money would be better spent on the poorest of the poor who have nothing, to give them a chance for something resembling a nice life.

Dirt jumps or BMX style tracks take up a LOT of room, disturb the landscape, and are not aesthetic. They also require regular maintenance — which costs money. Who will be forced to pay for that? Dirt jumps and pump tracks are pretty much dedicated to BMX. The price of a BMX bike ranges from $350 and go as high as $1,500. A used 2007 Gary Fisher Mullet BMX bike in good condition needing only the rear brakes fixed is going for $380 or best offer. So that leaves out poor kids who are lucky to be able to afford a $100 bike from Wal-Mart or Canadian Tire.

In the states, where tens of millions of poor people struggle just to stay alive, suffering without healthcare or any economic safety net, the price tag for one BMX bike that will only end up getting wrapped around a tree or dashed to bits on rocks could easily keep a family mired in poverty with no hope and no end in sight from freezing to death this winter by paying for utilities, firewood, or biomass pellets.

If a bunch of spoiled rich kids can afford the high-priced ticket of a BMX bike for their aggressive and dangerous sport, then they can afford to pay the costs of buying and building their own BMX facility without looking to Toronto taxpayers to foot the bill for this high-risk activity that is classist at its core since poor youth can’t afford to even get into the game. Any park subsidized by the public should not exclude society’s underprivileged; it should be accessible to all. Poor kids from Toronto at least could enjoy the free zoo at High Park, which the city is shutting down because it “can’t afford it.”

Is it fair that, owing to budget cuts and limited funds, one of the only recreational facilities that poor kids have should be shut down while monies from the public get diverted to pay for the designing and building of a BMX park that caters only to society’s more privileged teens and adults?

This is exclusionary and smacks of elitism and classism against Toronto’s poor youth. That issue alone outweighs any perceived advantage to a publicly funded BMX park that only affluent kids will benefit from. The adage of “live simply so that others can simply live” is apparently lost on the selfish BMXers, and on the city officials supporting them — due in no small measure to the dynamics of unearned social class privilege (who their affluent parents rub elbows with).

It’s also ironic that having a natural terrain BMX park is a non-negotiable “must have” when Scott Laver’s proposal was to put it in the tiny parking lot in High Park’s south east corner — especially when all of the other areas suggested were much bigger than a parking lot barely big enough to turn a car around in; a parking lot that many park-goers use — including members of various Native communities when they drive into Toronto for their ceremonies at the sacred sites.

Passing around a color-printed handout about Hoots Inc., a company located in BC, Laver said, “They’ve compromised on the activity side, and we’ve compromised on the nature side.” Rejecting all of the very reasonable suggestions for alternative sites because the BMXers must have High Park is no compromise by any definition. Laver’s demands that the Native community “be fair” about this was a slap in the face.

“Fair” means that everyone gets what he or she needs. The BMXers already have three existing places to go, plus many suggestions for additional alternative sites. But the Native communities, the Haudenosaunee in particular in this case, are not getting what they need. They cannot simply move their 3,000 year-old burial mounds and sacred sites — and they should not have to!

The majority of their burial mounds and sacred sites were utterly destroyed and desecrated when High Park was built up over the past 150 years — especially when Bloor Street was constructed and an untold number of ancient Native skeletal remains were unearthed. None of these remains and funerary artifacts were ever repatriated to the Native community. No one seems to know what happened to them. The cultural disruption caused by colonization followed by brutal assimilation policies have nearly wiped out all vestiges of Aboriginal people’s cultures. The continuity of a threatened population’s culture is a need; destroying yet another Native sacred site for someone else’s fun is not. The architects of the UN Declaration would agree.

All of this seemed to fall on deaf ears. Councillor Sarah Doucette, who supports Laver’s plan for the BMX park in High Park, said “Mothers don’t want their young children to have to cross Lakeshore Boulevard” in response to another suggested BMX site nearby outside of High Park.

But BMXing is a sport not engaged in by little kids. It’s a high risk activity enjoyed by teens and young adults up through their 30’s — hardly a demographic that wouldn’t be able to cross a busy street without their mommies at one of the designated cross-walks. BMXing has an injury rate that is high enough to result in being surcharged for health and life insurance, if not declined. BMXing is a very dangerous, high risk sport. Crossing Lakeshore Boulevard is not. People of all ages cross Lakeshore Boulevard all the time to catch the streetcar.

Matti Lehikoinen, a pro Downhill Mountain Biker and BMXer from Finland, suffered serious injuries more than once. In 2008, he fractured both wrists while BMXing, needing extensive reconstructive surgery because the fractures were so bad. 12 screws, 3 metal plates and 3 pins later, Matti was back on the BMX trail. He was injured again while racing at the Nordic Downhill Championships in Kungsberget-Sweden over the September 24th and 25th 2011 weekend. He was hospitalized and had to have brain scans. His partner Anna said, “Matti’s jaw, cheekbone, teeth, and nose are pretty badly damaged, and he will have surgery on Wednesday.”

Native rights to cultural preservation are only one of the major issues; liability issues for injuries and risks to public safety are another — passersby can be injured by BMXers. Is Toronto willing to cut off its nose to spite its face just to shove the Native community aside?

Cheryl Hart, who was also present at the meeting, sits on the High Park Resource Group’s board representing the Colburn Lodge which is concerned with maintaining High Park’s Anglo history, particularly the memory of John Howard — the wealthy British official who bought the land and established the park in the early 1800’s with the proviso that the Iroquois community remain stewards of the park among many other conditions.

In response to concerns about the destruction to the Native community’s long, rich history in the area and the loss of sacred sites, Cheryl Hart said, “there’s no historical value to the land.” Apparently, “historical preservation” doesn’t count when it is Aboriginal people’s history, traditions, and culture.

Councillor Doucette added that at a previous meeting, Laurie Waters, a Cree and board member of the THPS, said there would be no problem with putting a BMX park where Laver wants to put it because “there’s nothing sacred about a parking lot.” Yet, Laurie Waters states that she never said this. High Park is a very special place to Laurie as an Indigenous person who comes to the burial mounds for ceremonies honoring the ancestors.

BMXers won’t be content to remain within the area Scott Laver proposes; not with the tempting wooded and hilly terrain of the Owl Mound and Snake Mound right there. But that didn’t seem to concern Jorge Ture, who said that “there are procedures for getting Native burial grounds archeologically designated.”

But Toronto has a track record of using unlicensed archeologist Ron Williamson — an Indiana Jones wannabe who doesn’t have any love for Native people and who has engaged in shady practices. Toronto has a very ugly long-standing history of wiping out all traces of Aboriginal history and burying any evidence that it ever existed. There is plenty of archived information that proves a strong indigenous history of a vibrant and rich culture. Archived old newspaper articles cite the burial mounds in High Park and an ancient Indian tombstone — a petroglyph rock — which mysteriously disappeared during the late 1800’s when Bloor Street was put in.  It seems that Toronto’s non-Native city leadership is behind burying Native history, including the burial mounds, deliberately.

The attitudes displayed by Jorge Ture, Scott Laver, Sarah Doucette, and Cheryl Hart — all of whom talked dismissively of Aboriginal history — reveal an undercurrent of prejudice thinly masked beneath a veneer of polite civility. They acted like Donna Powless, Josephine Sandy, Catherine Tammaro, and Rastia’ta’non:ha and his helper, Sean (a shy Métis kid) weren’t even there. This shows just how bigoted Toronto’s city officials and upper-middle class civic leaders are against the Aboriginal community.

After the meeting ended, Scott Laver was asked why he felt no shame for what he was demanding of the Native community and told to look three of them in the eye and explain to them why he felt no shame, he refused to answer. He did not look at the Faithkeeper. He did not look at the Clanmother. He did not look at Rastia’ta’non:ha who is one of Chief Arnie General’s helpers. He did not see these three very real human beings standing right there in front of him.

One can only conclude that comfortably off teens and adults who can afford to spend $350 – $1,500 for a bike that will only get busted up or wrapped around a tree are spoiled, self-important brats with entitlement attitudes who think their “right” to fun supersedes a threatened community’s human rights to culture.

The following Internet forum posts from the BMX crowd say a lot about the sort of group that the City of Toronto is catering to and what these BMX people really are:

“Hey! So I’m currently in the city, I have everything from Mississauga’s residential cyclist (mostly road) friendly stuff, to downtown Toronto at my disposal (short of the dirt park in High Park recently torn down by Native Mohawk “Canadian” liars, or pricks as I call them)…”

 

The full post by “Ghotet” can be seen at: http://www.pinkbike.com/forum/listcomments/?threadid=118755

 

And these posts on another BMX forum in response to “Redstone” who asked why the BMXers couldn’t pick a different spot and insisted on High Park on a Native burial mound last year. (One of the posters, “j-teeple” threatened “Redstone”): http://www.pinkbike.com/forum/listcomments/threadid=107390&pagenum=2

“I’d love to see you start moving dirt. I can honestly say you will not get too far into it without something happening. I know a LOT of people who would like to see you become part of the jumps. But I invite you to go ahead and try. Just try. You’ll see what happens…I gave you fair warning.”

Followed by this one from “recklessness”:

“I live in Toronto and would love to set up a meeting to discuss this issue rationally in person. If you want to go ahead and post your full name and address, I would be happy to drive down and mock you in person. I will even bring my shitty car because it will probably get stolen in your hood. Hell, I can even lend you a shovel because you are obviously poor.”

“Recklessness” deserves an A+ in Economics of Racism, Classism and Unearned Privilege 101. Are his parents proud of raising such a self-centered spoiled brat whose carbon footprint is larger than that of 100 poor people combined? How nice that the rest of society gets to put up with him, and all the others like him who have no consideration for anyone else because they think everything is all about them.

And the day after the High Park Resources Group meeting, this comment was posted by “Ajmckerihen” on the Pinkbike forum:

“Hello mountain bikers and BMXers, This is to inform you that the City of Toronto staff have recently closed an informal BMX freestyle  area(skills park) in High Park to restore an ecologically sensitive area. The site has been replanted, fenced off and is currently being monitored for any further cycling activity. A new skills park, offering technically challenging riding in an accessible and controlled environment, will be built on the site of the existing parking lot in the south east corner of High Park. City staff are currently working with accomplished skills park designer, Jay Hoots www.hoots.ca, to develop the new site that will include appropriate off-road cycling features, skills areas and landscape amenities. Please join Jay Hoots and City of Toronto staff on Wednesday, October 19th from 6:00 – 8:30 PM, at the Rousseau Room, Swansea Town Hall, to participate in the design consultation for the new skills park in High Park. Jay wants to hear from you.”

Natural Environment Trails Program

www.toronto.ca/trails

That post says almost verbatim what was written on Scott Laver’s outline that he presented at the High Park group’s meeting on September 28th. Is “Ajmckerihen” Scott Laver? The post’s signature gives a good clue: the Natural Environment Trails Program, which Scott Laver is involved with. Following the link and perusing the site, it is interesting to note that the City of Toronto paid for a study on the feasibility of installing a bio-toilet in the park. (One must be environmentally correct in matters of defecation; but a tree-destroying, soil-eroding upper-middle class white male “sport”— well, that’s a whole other story.) It is also interesting to note the backdoor meeting scheduled for October 19th between these rich kids and the City of Toronto’s staff and policymakers.

Several attendees at the September 28th meeting voiced concerns about the BMX park provoking a conflict with the Native community.

Jerry Hodges told Laver that if he and the BMXers stubbornly go ahead with their BMX park plans it would ignite a very unpleasant confrontation with the Native community that could get very ugly, and nobody wants that.  Kim Jackson of Friends of the Snake Mounds said, “I’m just shocked that there is so much concern for these BMX kids, but there is none at all for the Aboriginal community.”

It is easier to relocate the plans for a BMX park than it is to relocate a 3,000 year-old burial mound. The Native community has, over the past several decades, been forced to compromise far more than anyone else has had to but the BMXers don’t care about that. Maybe the whole BMX issue isn’t really about a sport. If it was about a place for a recreational activity, then Scott Laver would not have summarily rejected all of the reasonable suggestions of alternative sites without fully exploring them. There is only one logical conclusion: This is about a lot of beneficiaries of unearned privilege who want Aboriginal people to fade away into oblivion.

Apparently, Native culture is something they only care about so long as they can exercise total control over it by restricting it to museums. A living, breathing, vibrant Native community freely enjoying their culture and traditions — a thriving people whose human rights are equally valued and respected as everyone else’s — is anathema to many, including the BMXers. They don’t want to deal with Aboriginal people who refuse to be pushed around and relegated to the silent, stoic role of iconic wooden cigar store Indians and mascots consigned to the ash heap of Manifest Destiny.

 

 

Jobless Women, the Economically Disappeared, Betrayed by Progressives and Petty Bourgeoisie Feminists Again

August 5, 2011

By Jacqueline S. Homan, author: Classism for Dimwits and Divine Right: The Truth is a Lie

The middle class “feminists” who claim to be allies of their poorest and most downtrodden “sisters” haven’t a clue what a poor woman’s daily struggle in deep poverty is like.

Even the most generous, non-materialistic middle class “allies” of America’s poorest women refused to comprehend or accept the poor welfare mother’s preoccupation with their very urgent and pressing need for money.

Most of these so-called allies, who have never lived the savage realities of destitution and being among the ranks of America’s economically disappeared, viewed poor women’s concerns about money as an “entitlement mentality.”

Petty bourgeois feminists referred to poor single mothers as “con artists” who wanted to get money for “doing nothing”, accusing poor women of “only getting pregnant for the welfare check” — buying into the sexist, patriarchal capitalist idea that pregnancy and childbirth is “nothing” for women to go through even though pregnancy and childbirth complications still kill more women in the US than in many other countries, and that the unpaid work that women have always traditionally done is “nothing”; that home-making, care-taking or child-raising isn’t “work.”

What care-takers do IS work — just ask anyone who has ever had to choose between their McJob or their sick child, or forego a job search in order to take care of an aging parent or a terminally ill spouse (or domestic partner). And mothers need a hell of a lot more than a cheap box of chocolates and a ten cent Mothers’ Day card. Poor women need money.

Yet, because of being sold out or abandoned altogether by Eurocentric middle class feminists, America’s poorest of the poor — women on welfare (before Welfare Reform eliminated AFDC and reduced benefits) — found themselves in situations where those who didn’t have to live with the consequences of “pragmatism” and political “compromise” were the ones defining the situation.

There’s a huge difference between the slightly better off working class guy in temporary poverty who just needs a job and a chronically poor woman who has been out of the job market for many years, serving as a care-giver or as a sole parent. Care-givers and mothers really need, and deserve, an adequate income.

Yet, as the Reagan Revolution’s War on the Poor right along up to Clinton’s Welfare Reform Act, which was driven by most middle class “feminists”, each subsequent part of “welfare reform” grew more punitive as America’s poorest women were told by suburban-dwelling soccer mom feminists who claimed to be allies, that poor women on welfare had to be “pragmatic” because “compromise” via benefit reductions and 2-5 year time limits coupled with “work requirements” were necessary. But all of those pragmatic “compromises” were no compromise at all because America’s poorest women got nothing but subjected to economic terrorism with a proverbial gun pointed right at our heads. We gained nothing at all, and lost all the way around.

The final slap in the face was that there wasn’t even a guaranteed right to a living wage job as part of this “welfare reform.” No one knows exactly how many poor, hard-to-employ women remained jobless and were plunged into homelessness and utter destitution after being thrown off of welfare at the end of their 5 year lifetime benefit limit. Homeless people have been criminalized and driven underground, including children, who were also denied a basic public education for lack of an address.

Middle class “feminists” ignored that issue, after talking down to their poorer “sisters”, lecturing us on the need to be “pragmatic.” Well, with poor people’s life expectancy rates, preventable blindness and other disability rates, infant death rates, and maternal mortality rates that have now surpassed those in several other Third World countries; we see exactly what middle class pragmatism gets us.

This is what happens when middle class “allies” and activists lead and run social justice movements, presuming the right to “speak for” the poor. They think they’re the only ones qualified for the job to act as brokers and middle-men for the poor, and that their class status gives them that qualification. Others end up having to suffer the losses they personally won’t ever have to live with (or die from). And they expect poorer people to do all of the really hard, thankless and unpaid work while they get to speak at all the events, collect all the honorariums, get all the media attention and press coverage, and take all the credit for brokering the deal.

But they don’t want to do all of the unglamorous, energy-sapping and time consuming and grinding work of survey-taking and petition-signing, and doing what it takes to get 200 people to a rally. And that does take a lot of work. All those people don’t just show up simply because they saw someone’s name on a flyer!

While the bourgeois feminists’ movement was preoccupied with battling lifestyle-related issues, poor women have been fighting in the trenches for our rights to equal access to societal resources and benefits — including equal rights to the living wage jobs and equal pay. We didn’t care if we could burn our bras or publicly make out with a partner of the same sex. We care about being able to survive. We’re struggling for equal access to adequate employment, educations, and for the legitimization of income support as compensation and recognition for care-givers and mothers.

The class restrictions that kept white middle class women in the kitchen wasn’t our reality; poverty, racism, and sexism was. Although NOW made an official statement saying it was committed to protecting the now-extinct miserly and inadequate safety net of AFDC, including abortion and dental care covered by Medicaid for poor women, the majority of NOW ‘s petty bourgeoisie membership didn’t follow through. The rights of gays and lesbians to marry (albeit an important right) was far more important than poor women’s fundamental human right to life, to adequate food, utilities, shelter, a job and/or income support, and to birth control and abortion access and the right to medical and dental care — all of which are life and death matters for poor women.

In wandering into the morass of the trivial issues of bra-burning and trashing Playboy, petty bourgeoisie feminists completely betrayed the struggle for women’s most fundamental human rights and that has had a devastating impact on the lives of poor women without jobs or any means of income support.

Women suffering the real oppression of daily economic terrorism that poverty is, including the repercussions of forced pregnancy and forced childbirth-promoting laws that led to the criminalization of miscarriages and stillbirths, and the conscription of poor women into reproductive chattel slavery at peril to our health, wellbeing and lives — all of this has been ignored by middle and upper class feminists.

What they won’t ever admit is that they have benefited from the ongoing oppression and exploitation of their much poorer “sisters.” They never intended for poor women to benefit from all that equality they were seeking for themselves.

They’ve been silent for over 30 years since the passage of the Hyde Amendment in 1976 followed by the Rapists’ Rights Lobby’s “conscience clause” and “fetal personhood” laws that have cropped up over the last 20 years, and the decimation of the meager and inadequate safety net that welfare was prior to 1996 when Slick Willy eliminated welfare as we know it, plunging 14 million poor single mothers into instant destitution and homelessness under the guise of “tough love.”

There is no comparison between the “quiet desperation” of affluent women like the late Princess Diana of Wales who got tricked into miserable marriages with over-privileged inbred crowned heads or members of the financial aristocracy merely to serve as an incubator for the economic cannibal class’s parasitic progeny after buying into the Cinderella-Prince Charming myth and wanting all that royalty has to offer, versus the very real crushing and life-endangering exploitation and abuse suffered by poor women and girls from the underclass — like 15 year-old Rennie Gibbs, who began her life imprisonment sentence this 4th of July (ironically, on the day American’s celebrate “Independence”) by a Mississippi court for the “crime” of delivering a premature stillborn, thanks to all of the “pro-life” laws and a Christian Right state in which there is no Planned Parenthood or any abortion clinic.

We still do not know anything about the male co-conceiver, such as whether he drank or did drugs which resulted in defective sperm which could have precipitated a miscarriage or stillbirth. We don’t even know if the sex (or the resultant pregnancy) was consensual.

But nobody cares about the plight of poor women, especially those of us who have been marginalized and excluded from the workforce for two or more generations — due in no small measure to the stigma of poverty and all the other barriers of classism that go with that which serve as obstacles to beat poor women down over and over and over, as vacuous middle class spoiled brats who are lucky enough to have good jobs tell us that no matter what we’ve tried to do to be “deserving” of a chance, we’re not doing anything right, not trying hard enough, not responsible, or just plain not good enough.

Dealing with issues of race and gender doesn’t meant you’ve dealt with classism and unearned privilege. There’s a world of difference between the working poor who struggle to get by from paycheck to paycheck who are one car breakdown away from losing everything and the very poor who’ve been trapped by generational poverty and all of the stigma and obstacles to getting a job (when there’s never been enough jobs for everyone anyway) that chronic poverty imposes.

The long-term poor who have been excluded and marginalized suffer the worst; neglected and abandoned on the outer fringes of society, struggling in destitution outside of the “primary labor market” of steady jobs. Those who are lucky enough to have enjoyed steady employment think that those of us with nothing in chronic poverty lack work ethic and discipline.

But it takes a hell of a lot more work ethic and discipline to survive even just one day in our lives, than it does to simply show up and perform some tasks assigned by some boss at an office.

Try scrounging money for food or a utility bill by salvaging scrap metal off the street in all kinds of weather, stripping wire until your hands are bleeding and calloused, and getting all cut up from handling scrap metal for 80 hrs/week just to get maybe only $100 (or whatever meager price the salvage yards feel like paying out based on prices that they set, depending on what the metals commodity brokers dictate). Then come and talk to me about “being responsible” and your “work ethic.”

Try having to live like that, hoping to get enough money to put towards a cheap prepaid cell phone just so you have a means of communication for things like being able to call the police or fire department in an emergency, or being able to keep trying to get a job while suffering from dental problems that you can’t get treated because you have no money and no job with dental benefits — never mind maybe eventually being able to repay that unaffordable student loan debt you incurred in hopes of being “worthy” of a chance for a job so you could climb out of poverty before getting “too old” for anyone to hire.

And of course, those of us in poverty who tried to do “all the right things” get nothing but slapped in the face by middle class snobs who always tell us how “irresponsible” we are if we have no income and have no way to document the fact that we have no income to the satisfaction of some snippy rude middle class bureaucrat at the student loan servicing center, and therefore we’re told we can’t qualify for any deferment or income-contingent repayment plan.

Middle class snobbishness and pragmatism blinds society’s more fortunate and luckily employed from that savage reality of poverty and classism. For those of us who have never had a moment’s comfort and security throughout our entire lives, pragmatism is merely a license for maintaining a status quo in which nothing ever gets better for us and there is no hope that anything will ever change.

Middle class (and often working class) pragmatism really amounts to “how can I get a better deal for ME” by using those of us at the very bottom as their poster child to further their own agenda while never sticking by the poor to help us get a better deal, too. Instead, we get jettisoned the minute they get a few token bones tossed their way. And what do chronically poor women get? Nothing. Or worse.

We get our food stamps and Medicaid cut, our LIHEAP funding cut while utilities skyrocket and things like heat in the winter or a hot shower are unattainable luxuries. Now we got our social security cut, and we lost our access to reliable birth control through Planned Parenthood as defunding Title X caused them to close their doors in several states already.

Chronically poor and jobless women like those of us from generational poverty were never included or accepted in the job market even during the “better times” — and we’re supposed to grateful to our middle class “benefactors” for their “wins” of pragmatism that always benefit everybody else except us? For us, these are life and death realities; not a tally of “wins” in the game of political football.

Until middle class feminists and the steadily employed working class “social justice activists” realize this and deal with their classism, they will continue to alienate the very poor and lose what little bit of trust we may have had in them in the first place. They have yet to do right by their poorest and most marginalized “sisters.” I won’t hold my breath in hopes that they ever will.

Because poor people never win in coalitions. Cross-class coalitions mean using the chronically jobless poor for the ends of middle class people. Those of us from generational poverty were never meant to be included. So what’s the point in voting when we’re always neglected or offered up as the convenient sacrificial lambs at first chance?

While women lucky enough to have a job, even if only a crappy one, can now get their birth control through Obamacare without co-pays, chronically poor women without jobs (or any chance of ever being able to get one) have lost everything with cuts in Medicaid and Planned Parenthood closings, leaving us with nothing — not even basic maternity and post-partum care to at least reduce the already higher chances of death and disability for us as a result of having no options other than carrying unwanted pregnancies to term. And for this, we’re supposed to be grateful to our middle class “saviors?” When we get a share of the pie for once and get access to real choices and options, then we’ll do the victory dance, too.


How the Middle Class is its Own Worst Enemy

June 19, 2011

By Jacqueline S. Homan, author: Classism For Dimwits and Divine Right: The Truth is a Lie

Pseudo-progressive group MoveOn.org posted on its site a 2 minute video featuring Robert Reich, the former Labor Secretary under the Clinton presidency. The video, titled “The Truth About the Economy”, gave a very abbreviated half-of-the-story illustration of the cause for the middle class’s current plight. But it completely whitewashed and ignored the role that the middle class played in its own demise by deliberately hurting the poor during the “better times” of the Reagan Revolution followed by the Clinton-era of prosperity.

The middle class suburban-dwelling voters — most of them white males with “soccer mom” wives — literally drove the Welfare Reform engine which eliminated what miserly inadequate safety net there was for the poorest of the poor on the very bottom economic rung (most whom are women).

Now that many in the middle class are falling into poverty as the long-term unemployed middle-aged are jettisoned and left on the permanently unemployable scrap heap, the middle class is outraged. They’re demanding a bigger share of the pie for themselves while still begrudging the very poor even the tiniest morsel. They never learn. You’d think that the middle class would “get it” by now, but I won’t hold my breath.

Almost all of the posters commenting on the Robert Reich video whined about the loss of their middle class living standards. But they refused to see that what is now being done to them they first did to the poor, and therefore set the stage for their own demise. Karma is a bitch.

None of them cry “restore the safety net for the poor” — it’s all about the middle class, as if they’re the only ones with valid economic claims. They refuse to admit that in order to “save America” by “saving the middle class”, they first needed to start by defending the least empowered and most vulnerable citizens at the very bottom economic rung that were targeted by the Reagan Revolution. But instead of saving the poor, they destroyed the poor and they’re still doing it. And by the evidence in the voluminous comments stream on MoveOn’s site, no one in the middle class has any remorse about that.

Major Disconnect is What Happened to the Middle Class

Between 1990 and 1997, the National Student Loan survey by Nellie Mae reported that students borrowed $140 billion to meet their college education expenses. Over 25% used credit cards to help augment their education costs. All of the surveyed respondents had non-education related debt, too. The majority of respondents also said that unaffordable student loan debt caused them to do one or more of the following: drop out of college, delay or forego homeownership and buying a car, or having children.

According to Business Week in 1994, “Tuition and fees have risen 94% since 1989, nearly triple the 32.5% increase in inflation. Even as a college education has become the litmus test in the job market, the widening wage chasm has made it harder for low-income people to go to college. Kids from the top quarter have no problem: 76% earn bachelor’s degrees today vs. 31% in 1980. But less than 4% of those in the bottom quarter families now finish college vs. 6% back then [in 1980].”

While job opportunities rapidly disappeared for women without college degrees, wages for the working class were falling and college costs surpassed the cost of living index — leaving America’s poor marginalized and economically excluded from the dot com prosperity of the Clinton years — former president Bill Clinton didn’t lift a finger to help the poor who had been devastated by the previous 12 years of Reaganomics as the Reagan Revolution machine mowed down the poor and crushed the underprivileged underfoot. Reagan was twice elected by a middle class voting majority.

During Clinton’s two-term presidency, not one of the budget cuts to the now-eliminated social programs for the poor (including restoring the funding for Pell grants that the Gramm-Rudman Bill slashed) had been reversed. While the poor suffered from being trapped in miserable poverty with no way out, the middle class was living large; buying suburban McMansions, mutual funds, stocks and bonds — while criminalizing the homeless and scoffing at the poor who weren’t making it, telling us that our conditions of poverty and deprivation were our own fault for “not trying hard enough.”

How the poor were supposed to “bootstrap” their way up out of poverty and into mainstream middle class America remained unanswered and ignored. All was well in white male dominated middle classdom, to hell with poor women who had no chance at all of ever being able to make it thanks to a legacy of sexism, job discrimination, and pervasive misogyny on top of the additional systemic barriers of classism. It was the middle class majority voting constituency that voted for Reagan (twice), George Bush I, George Bush II (twice), and former-House Speaker Newt Gingrich and shaped economic and social policy during Clinton’s presidency.

Public opinion polls and Freudian psychoanalysis techniques were used by Stanford researchers to help the Clinton administration get a feeling for the political pulse among the middle class majority. The feedback provided by those research polls shaped social and economic policy and dictated the language of the draconian Welfare Reform Act of 1996.

Now in 2011, many who had previously enjoyed middle class comforts and security are crying foul. They wonder how the government could let things get so out of hand and ask how a regime of inverted totalitarianism could sneak up on them. Wiping the Rip van Winkle sleep dust from their eyes, they angrily blame the Republicans and sell-out “Blue Dog” Democrats for the assault on unionized public sector employees. But where were these same disgruntled middle class voices these last 30+ years that the War on the Poor was launched in full swing? What did they think would eventually happen to the middle class after three decades of destroying the poor? The writing was on the wall in 1985, in 1996, and in 2001.

The red flags were raised repeatedly throughout the late 1980′s and 1990′s by scholars and researchers like the folks at United for a Fair Economy, the Brookings Institute, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities; homeless activists like Marian Kramer and Cheri Honkala with the Kensington Welfare Rights Union, and Keith McHenry who founded Food Not Bombs.

Scholars and authors like Dr. Michael Parenti, Jonathon Kozol, Vine Deloria, and indigenous law professor Robert A. Williams had all in their own ways made multiple contributions to the literary world highlighting the mounting despair, injustices, inequality and poverty. How many educated middle class folks read their works? It’s not like all the warnings weren’t there. The middle class knew. They chose to ignore it when all was fine in their own little worlds.

In Michael Parenti’s 1997 book Blackshirts & Reds, everything was practically drawn out in crayon for middle class Americans who love to boast of their superior literacy and academic achievements while praising the unparalleled value of their “print culture.” Too bad most of these educated high achievers didn’t read Parenti, who eloquently mapped out for them how “rational fascism” renders service to capitalism and how corporate power undermines democracy because plutocrats always choose autocrats. They put their literacy on a permanent vacation as they swayed to the seductive tempo of the “ownership society” song that the klepto-plutocracy sold them.

When the Chickens Come Home to Roost

In 2011, public sector employees in Wisconsin — from teachers to police to firefighters to welfare caseworkers — howled in protest at the looming specter of more measures assaulting what remained of unionized workers’ rights. They’re up in arms that Democrats operated in cahoots with Republicans and powerful union bosses to sell them out.

But who did these disgruntled middle class workers vote for during these past 30+ years? Did they vote for some of the same elected officials and lawmakers that built lucrative political careers by hurting the poor, particularly poor single mothers? Did they heed the previous warnings of creeping fascism and the rise of inverted totalitarianism?

Instead of being too preoccupied with reading their 401(k) statements and the latest issue of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, they should have read Michael Parenti’s Blackshirts & Reds. Everything now being visited upon the middle class now was done before in history; workers and the poor were crushed underfoot to protect the interests of capital, which finally turned with rending claws on the middle class.

In 1924 in Germany, Social Democrat officials in the Ministry of Interior used Reichswehr and Free Corps fascist paramilitary groups to attack leftist demonstrators. They imprisoned 7,000 people. In 1932, three candidates ran for president in Germany: Conservative Party candidate Paul von Hindenburg, Communist Party candidate Ernst Thaelmann, and Nazi candidate Adolf Hitler. In his campaign, Thaelmann argued that a vote for von Hindenburg was a vote for Hitler and Hitler would lead Germany into war. The bourgeois press, including the Social Democrats, denounced Thaelmann’s claims as “Moscow inspired.”

Right-wing governments have always been about maintaining the existing order of unearned privileges and calling it a “free market”; keeping the world safe for the empowered hierarchies and wealthy classes of the world which overwhelmingly have a white male face. Meanwhile, leftist “totalitarians” wanted to abolish exploitative property systems and create a more shared and egalitarian economic system. The left’s favoring the have-nots over the haves made them the hated targets of the unjustly enriched beneficiaries of unearned privilege.

That’s why any real democratic movement that tried to relieve the misery and suffering of the poor has been villainized over and over; having to defend their position. And when the majority of that public is comfortably middle class, they’re not interested in rocking the boat to save the poor whose life chances and human rights they’ve jettisoned. Even the most sincere anti-communist progressives wilted in fear of being accused of being “Communist” or a “socialist.”

Many of the so-called leftist intellectuals cheered the undermining and overthrow of communist and socialist governments in the former Soviet Union and the East Bloc nations throughout the 1980′s and 1990′s. They thought that democracy would finally have its time in the sun. But they knew better because among these left-leaning intellectual circles it was widely known that the IMF and the multinational corporations of Western Europe were the prime forced that actively undermined and overthrew Soviet communism and socialist economies in the former East Bloc. The pseudo-left thought they would finally be free of the communist albatross, or, as Richard Lichtman put it, “liberated from the incubus of the Soviet Union and the succubus of Communist China.”

As part of the overthrow of communism, “free market” right-wing forces in various Eastern European nations received financial backing and organizational assistance from US-financed agencies such as the National Endowment for Democracy — the AFL-CIO’s Free Trade Union Institute, which was in bed with the CIA.

Meanwhile, capitalist restoration impoverished the former East Bloc countries and the former Soviet Union and undermined many Third World liberation struggles against the tyrannical yoke of colonialism. Those Third World nations no longer received any aid from Russia and the fall of Soviet communism and East Bloc socialism opened the door for a whole new crop of neo-fascist right-wing governments to spring up; ones that worked hand-in-glove with US/Western Europe counter-revolutionaries and trans-national capitalist interests around the world.

In the immortal words of Richard Levins, “Capitalism with a human face has been replaced by capitalism in your face. So, in the new exuberant aggressiveness of world capitalism we now see what communists and their allies have held at bay.”

That Dreaded C-word

Because American-style cowboy capitalism has enjoyed cult status, it was taboo to utter the C-word (“class”). The only times the C-word may be used is in its linguistic power to reaffirm the rights of the exploiter classes and defend the system of unearned privileges that serve to guarantee a permanent pool of exploitable surplus labor — most whom are members of oppressed groups, women and racial minorities.

The C-word is allowed to be used when prefaced with the word “middle” or as a suffix on the word “under” — as in “underclass”, the desperately poor struggling on the margins of society on the very bottom economic rung, who get the least of everything while being blamed for their victimization. Political pundits, poverty pimps, talking heads, and right-wing hacks in the media and well-heeled “experts” get offended at any reference to an owning class and screech “class warfare” at the most subtle hint that the rich are oppressing the poor.

But references to the negative stereotypes of the very poor in the underclass are acceptable because they reinforce the existing social hierarchy of unearned privileges and justify the abuse and deprivation routinely heaped upon America’s most downtrodden. The savage realities of classism and the oppression of the very poor by the middle class is whitewashed and obscured by an ideology summed up in the following credo: “We’re all middle class and we’re free to be as economically successful in life as we want because America is the land of opportunity.”

What they leave out, however, is “whom.” America is the land of opportunity for whom? In a capitalist society, somebody always has to lose so that someone else wins. Somebody always has to get left out. Somebody always has to be at the bottom. The “opportunity” to escape the crushing stranglehold of deep poverty is nearly non-existent for the majority of the poor, especially for poor women — particularly poor women over age 40 that have been unable to get any kind of job after several years of searching. There just aren’t enough opportunities, jobs, and lucky breaks to go around for everybody. And it is overwhelmingly poor women who are bypassed for what scant opportunities remain.

All conservative ideologies justify the draconian treatment of the poor and discrimination against women and all other existing inequities as “the natural order of things.” But if the rich and comfortably off middle class — who are overwhelmingly white males — are so naturally superior in talent, skills, and social worth, why then must those who already have everything be provided with so many unearned privileges under the law, so many bailouts, tax write-offs, subsidies, price supports, and a host of other special considerations at the public’s expense?

And what exactly are those naturally superior talents of society’s favorite sons? Their naturally superior abilities seem to lie within an array of unethical and illegal subterfuges such as job discrimination, price-fixing, collusion, stock and commodities manipulation, insider trading, fraud, tax evasion, harmful products, unsafe workplace conditions, environmental destruction, and the violent enforcement of unfair competition and stealing credit for others’ work and ideas. At that, the overprivileged overclass is a resounding success.

So what exactly are these self-appointed demi-gods contributing or producing to justify their favored treatment over everyone else? By all accounts, the only things being produced and reproduced are oppression, discrimination, theft, social misery, and injustice. Not exactly the stuff they deserve so many rewards for. Yet, middle class America bought into the “ownership society” lie propagated by rich white men who elected themselves king of the planet. The middle class shut their ears and eyes to the harsh truth about poverty in their own backyards. The middle class has always been part of the problem.

Those who have never gone without medical and dental care, heat in the winter, or hot water to bathe properly because of being repeatedly denied opportunities for a good job due to gender/race/age discrimination on top of the barriers of systemic classism had convinced themselves that bad shit only happens to bad people, that “giving money to the poor only hurts them” (justification for being selfish), and that George W. Bush was right when he said, “We’re all middle class now.”

No Virginia, We Are Not “All Middle Class Now”

In 1999 just three years after the Welfare Reform Act of 1996 was passed, a study by the Urban Institute found that nearly 3 in 10 low-income families were unable to pay their rent or mortgage or utility bills and nearly half of all low-income families had difficulty affording food. Low-income workers increasingly had to turn to food pantries which, like homeless shelters and other charities, could not meet the rising need.

In its 1998 survey, the US Conference of Mayors found that requests for emergency food assistance rose by 14% in 1997 and 1 out of 5 requests for food assistance went unmet. The American Journal of Public Health reported in 1998 that 10 million Americans (including 4 million children) didn’t have enough to eat. The majority were families with at least one employed adult.

In 1999, a team of researchers, scholars and social justice advocates published a 94-page booklet citing all of the growing problems of mounting poverty that was becoming increasingly inescapable, a burgeoning permanent underclass, and a shrinking middle class. The booklet includes 9 pages of credible source citations from reports compiled from the data provided by multiple government agencies and private charities and university studies. Some of those reports were from those who were on the inside of policy-making; not people with a “political agenda.”

A February 2006 report from America’s Second Harvest, the nation’s food bank network, found that 45% of their clients reported having to choose between buying food and paying utility bills.

The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) that is supposed to help the poor with basic utilities has always been underfunded. Since utilities have been deregulated and public protections from price-gouging in the form of rate caps have been removed, the problem has been made worse.

In 2002, the Joyce Foundation reported that in the wake of welfare reform and utility deregulation, those who had left welfare after their five-year lifetime limits were up were still poor, if not poorer. Throughout the American Rust Belt, the following percentages of people whose utilities had been cut off as of 2002 were:

  • 15% of Wisnconsin’s poor
  • 15% of Ohio’s poor
  • 25% of Indiana’s poor
  • 11% of Michigan’s poor

In 1988, only 37% of the poor got energy assistance from LIHEAP and what they got was not enough to stave off utility shut-offs. In 2000, only 20% of the poor got helped due to LIHEAP funding cuts. The middle class convinced themselves that “there is all this help out there” for those in dire straits. But nobody wants to talk about the outcomes for all the poor people who are increasingly turned away: all the hypothermia deaths and residential fires caused by desperate poor people resorting to unsafe alternative heating sources.

In March of 2010, David Fox of the National Low-Income Energy Consortium said that prior to funding $1.8 billion in funding cuts for LIHEAP in 2010; only 20% of all eligible extremely poor households were able to be served. After the funding cuts in 2010, only 10-15% of the poorest of the poor will be able to get helped.

Given the number of long-term unemployed whose benefits ran out in 2009 (only 40% of American workers are eligible to receive unemployment benefits), in addition to the already suffering 5 million jobless poor who were poor single mothers booted off of welfare but unable to get or keep any job and whose sole income is food stamps, the number of US households without life-sustaining utilities reached 10 million as of December 31st 2010. Consequences of utility shut-offs include homelessness, illness, death, poor child development, and the disintegration of families.

According to the annual survey conducted by the National Energy Assistance Director’s Association (NEADA), 60% of LIHEAP recipients couldn’t pay their utility bills because they lost their jobs or had a reduction in income. 92% of LIHEAP recipients had a pregnant woman, an elderly person, or a child in the home.

The truth about unearned privileges, job discrimination, and lack of enough jobs for everyone in need of a job who is able to work, poverty in America with a wealth of information about it has always been out there. This isn’t news. How can anyone lucky enough to be middle class today in 2011 say they “didn’t know” what was going on and where this country was headed? Sorry, I’m not buying it.

Like the “good Germans” 75 years ago who claimed they “didn’t know” what the industrial and financial elite and their Nazi government was doing to the Jews, America’s middle class has always known what was being done to America’s poor. 84% of those struggling below poverty in this country are WOMEN. The middle class didn’t care. They didn’t have a problem with all of the redistributive injustices caused by capitalism (which is, essentially, a gender war) until they found themselves under the firing line of capitalism’s Hotchkiss guns.

And even now, most of the middle class you see whining and howling about assaults on their “rights” are cutthroats and back-stabbers who would stick it to their own less fortunate family members who have fallen on hard times in order to “keep theirs.” Trickle-down economics was supposed to stop at the middle class and never reach the “undeserving” poor whose throats they’ve always been eager to cut to advance their own agenda and class interests — which almost always, without exception, are aligned with the rich whom they jealously aspire to become.

If the poor on society’s margins on the very bottom economic rung harbor any hostility, resentment, and distrust for the now-disgruntled middle class, it is wholly justified.

http://youtu.be/JTzMqm2TwgE

Anti-Native Activist Gary “I’m Not a Racist” McHale in Bed With Canadian and American neo-Nazis

June 6, 2011

By Jacqueline S. Homan, author of Classism For Dimwits and Divine Right: The Truth is a Lie

Gary McHale and Mark Vandermaas in Toronto's High Park, May 28th 2011

Professional full-time conservative agitator and co-founder of CANACE, Gary McHale has a WordPress blog listing him as a one-time candidate for political office in Haldimand Council, Ward 3 – Caledonia in the Canadian province of Ontario. His brief bio states that he has been a successful small business owner for over 30 years in the lucrative computer programming field, developing payroll and accounting software. He paints himself as the hard-working son of working class parents, as “one of six boys, three whom were born in Caledonia while his father worked in the town’s gypsum mines.” He also states that he worked hard all summer as a child, “haying and bringing in the grain from the fields.”

He furthered his education by attending a Baptist Seminary, the bastion of religiously inspired white male privilege and supremacy, and became a church deacon. He authored four right-wing Christian books and states that he “has a Christian duty to speak out against the injustices of race-based policy” that he claims is occurring whereby non-natives are the eternal victims of natives. Gary McHale is blind to his own unearned privileges (white male privilege) — he is convinced that he got everything all on his own merits. He ignores the fact that the escalator that carried him up to the comfortable echelons of upper-middle classdom is often broken for poor women, minorities, and First Nations people. In fact, for the latter group, the escalator runs in reverse — if it runs at all.

McHale says that it is his Christian moral compass, his admiration for Dr. Martin Luther King, and his belief in the “rule of law” that motivate him. He professes a support for Israel as he is quick to claim that his beef with Canada’s indigenous First Nations people has nothing to do with racism. Indeed. Josef Goebbels, Hitler’s chief minister of Reich Propaganda would find himself outdone.

It is no accident that McHale usurps the language and status of Jewish Holocaust victims and other minorities in an endeavor to launch his anti-native platform. This tactic has been used time and time again by far-right radicals in the US, which propelled America into the fascist, militaristic klepto-plutocratic cesspool that it is now where 60 million Americans live below poverty with no jobs, no access to education and healthcare, and no welfare safety net other than the now-reduced food stamp program. As of December 31st 2010, approximately 10 million poor US households are without life-sustaining utilities (gas, electric, or water). Close to 70 million Americans struggle to live on less than $7/day (with food prices comparable to Canada’s) according Brookings Institute reports and the most recent US Census.

All this in Christian “pro-life” America where 80% of all American women lack access to reliable contraception, 87% of all US counties lack abortion providers, 11 year-old rape victims are forced to give birth to their rapists’ progeny, OB/GYN’s are gunned down in church by radical Christian “pro-lifers”, feeding poor homeless people has been criminalized — while poor American women suffer maternal injury, death and disability rates rivaling those of four sub-Saharan Third World countries according to the most recent reports from the World Health Organization and Amnesty International.

Americans, especially poor women and children, are suffering horribly in this mess because of three decades of right-wing policies enacted in the wake of the same battle cries made by conservatives just like Gary McHale and white male supremacy groups like Northern Alliance.

In Canada, hate groups seek refuge by passing themselves off as legitimate political, religious, or academic movements — usually under the guise of free speech, taxpayer rights, and “getting tough on crime.” Many hate group members and their conservative fellow-travellers have joined mainstream political movements. The Canadian far-right ideology is gaining popularity among younger Canadians. The far-right is not a loose amalgamation of like-minded malevolents. It is a well-heeled vanguard movement of organized networks and individuals who are dedicated to promoting discrimination and hate to destroy the multicultural fabric of Canadian society. Gary McHale and company can spin it any way they want, but you can’t polish a turd.

At nearly all of Gary McHale’s rallies and protests, members of Canadian neo-Nazi and white supremacy groups show up to support McHale and his group, CANACE. On October 15th 2007, Dave Ruud and other members of the Northern Alliance came out to support McHale in Caledonia to protest against the Six Nations’ reclamation of contested lands in Caledonia that were never ceded by the Mohawk clan mothers as required under treaty per Haudenesaunee custom under the Great Law.

Ruud of Northern Alliance told Canadian news reporters, “The whole idea of land claims, reserves, is special treatment. The rest of us have to make a go of it on our own. This is special treatment. This is liberal policy, NDP, it’s a left-leaning policy. I don’t agree with any of it.”

Canadians, be afraid. Be very afraid. Not of “Mohawk warriors” or “natives taking over”, but of the putrid tide of fascism that has seeped across the threshold of your doorsteps. It has now flooded your living rooms, masquerading as “law and order”, “family values”, and “government accountability.”

Middle and upper class white male victimhood touted under and the banners of patriotism, “law and order”, “family values”, “free speech”, etc., is really nothing but mainstreaming the fascist, theocratic, radical far-right.

Northern Alliance, based in London, Ontario was founded by a close associate of Holocaust-denier, Ernst Zündel. The group’s manifesto states it is opposed to abortion because “abortion stops a white heart.” Northern Alliance also argues that “only those with European ancestry should be permitted to become citizens of Canada.” This hate group also opposes interracial dating/marriage and same-sex marriage. Northern Alliance is affiliated with Aryan Guard, BC White Pride, the Imperial Klans of Canada, and the Brotherhood of Klans (BOK) — the largest Ku Klux Klan chapter in all of North America, which is headquartered not in rural Mississippi but in the outskirts of Regina, Saskatchewan. Northern Alliance is affiliated with other neo-Nazi organizations around the world and in the US.

Although Aryan Guard is supposedly officially defunct, it has reared its ugly head in the form of a racist far-right political organization known as the Canadian Association for Free Expression (CAFE) which was founded by prominent radical right-wing politician and Stormfront/White Pride member Paul Fromm — a major supporter and backer of Gary McHale.

CAFE was exposed by the Nizkor Project, an online database that tracks and exposes anti-Semitic organizations, white supremacists, and other racist and misogynistic hate groups like the Edmund Burke Society which promotes conservative ideologies of “family values” and denounces reproductive choice, women’s rights and worker protection laws as “communist.”

Paul Fromm and other members and founders of hate groups and their ultra-conservative fellow travelers are not merely operating on the periphery. They are politically active and provide financial succor to those who suborn fascism, oppression, and regimes of inverted totalitarianism. Political scientist Sheldon Wolin defined inverted totalitarianism as a form of fascist dictatorship that operates within the anonymity of the corporate state rather than through charismatic demagogues and “strong man” leaders of classical totalitarian regimes.

These self-described martyrs and patriots are not victims — they’re proponents of white male supremacy. They appropriate the language of their victims. They target Jews while legitimizing their agenda by professing support for Israel and hijacking the victims of the Holocaust. They target non-whites and the poor while having the moxy to twist the quotes of Dr. Martin Luther King. They target women by claiming to promote “family values” and “fathers’ rights.” And they target First Nations/Native American indigenous people under the pretext of “law and order.”

McHale’s prime benefactor and supporter Paul Fromm is also a prominent defender and ally of American neo-Nazi and former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard, David Duke of Louisiana.

Fromm’s career as a professional hater is long. In 1981, Fromm became treasurer of the Metro Progressive Conservative Party. He was fired after he said in a newspaper interview that the idea of a supreme race “is a good idea” and that Indochinese refugees should be sent elsewhere because “their influx into Canada will upset the racial balance.”

Fromm spoke at a Heritage Front rally on December 8th 1990 alongside members from some of the most extreme racist organizations in North America: the World Church of the Creator, Aryan Women’s Union, and Canadian Alliance. While speaking to the group of neo-Nazis, he said, “We’re all on the same side.” Fromm was greeted with the Nazi salute. Fromm denied being at the rally until a video later surfaced showing him speaking at the rally while surrounded by Nazi flags, swastikas, and White Power flags.

Fromm was also a keynote speaker at another Heritage Front meeting on September 5th, 1991. About 2 weeks later on September 24th, Fromm was ejected from the Toronto Mayor’s Committee on Race Relations for yelling “Scalp ‘em!” in reference to aboriginal people while Rodney Bobiwash of the Native Canadian Friendship Center was speaking.

As director of CAFE, Fromm actively supports well-known racists and Holocaust-deniers like Ernst Zündel and David Irving. On November 7th 1992, Fromm traveled to Victoria, BC to speak on behalf of David Irving (who was deported a week later).

Fromm was also a speaker at a celebration of Hitler’s birthday in April 1992 at a meeting organized by the far-right Northern Foundation in Ottawa alongside the group’s leader, Ken Campbell. The Toronto Star reported on Fromm’s speech before the Heritage Front and his attendance at the Hitler birthday party. Fromm later claimed that he “didn’t know” about Heritage Front’s neo-Nazi views.

Fromm was surrounded by Nazi flags. He attends an Adolf Hitler birthday party. He tells Aryan supremacy groups that “we’re all on the same side” and screams that the Toronto mayor should scalp the natives. Yet he didn’t know he was cavorting with Nazi thugs and white supremacists. Uh-huh. Right.

A 2000 report reveals that wealthy land developer Martin Weiche, a German-born Nazi who immigrated to Canada on November 13th 1951, financially backed Paul Fromm and mentored him on the neo-Nazi path. Weiche is the former leader of the Canadian Nazi Party and in 1981 he was implicated as a major financial backer of Operation Red Dog — a failed criminal plot to overthrow the Dominican government.

In 2004, Paul Fromm and an entourage of fellow neo-Nazis and white supremacists were invited to Louisiana by David Duke, former Republican Louisiana state lawmaker and Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, for the purpose of forming a “unity pact” between all neo-Nazi and white supremacy groups. Duke describes himself as a “racial realist.” He uses benign euphemisms to promote his male chauvinist neo-Nazi agenda by claiming to champion “family values” and “the rule of law.”

Duke wrote a “self-help” book under the pseudonym Dorothy Vanderbilt titled Finders-Keepers aimed at poor white women, advising them to seek economic security by being dutiful bi-pedal house pets that obediently greet their white male masters of the universe at the front door after a day of domestic drudgery, ready to sexually service them like a porn star, and then trot off to nurse their litter. This out-of-print book gives extensive advice telling women how to do vaginal exercises, perform fellatio, and admonishes them to be more receptive to anal sex in order to get and keep their alpha “prince.” (alpha dipshit is more like it.)

David Duke organized his neo-Nazi gathering after his release from prison in 2004, He had been in prison for tax fraud. The purpose for this meeting was twofold: unifying the neo-Nazi white supremacy movement and collaborating to sanitize its image along with that of their ultra-conservative fellow travelers. Duke felt unification was necessary after the death of William Pierce, founder of the sexist and racist hate group National Alliance. Pierce is best known for his controversial novel The Turner Diaries, which he wrote under the pseudonym Andrew Macdonald. Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh was inspired by Pierce’s book.

At Duke’s gathering on May 29th 2004, Paul Fromm signed this neo-Nazi unity pact that later became known as the New Orleans Protocol. Under this pact, all neo-Nazis and white supremacists and their ultra-conservative fellow travelers are to support one another. Other signatories include (but are not limited to):

  • Don Black, former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan and founder of Stormfront. In December 2007, Black donated a sizable amount of money to Ron Paul’s (R-TX) 2008 presidential election campaign fund.
  • Willis Carto, a self-described “Jeffersonian and populist” who is famous for anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and Holocaust denial.
  • Kevin Alfred Strom, former managing director of Virginia-based neo-Nazi group known as National Vanguard. Strom plead guilty in 2008 to child pornography charges for which he was sentenced to 23 months in prison.

In 2007, Paul From was a keynote speaker at a White Christian Revival meeting. On March 21st 2009, Fromm actively participated in a White Pride march in Calgary, Alberta that was organized by Aryan Guard — a neo-Nazi group whose name is synonymous with domestic terrorism and violence, including random pipe bomb attacks.

Surprisingly, Fromm was allowed to run for federal political office despite his active support for, and association with, racist criminals and terrorists. He was a candidate running on an anti-immigration platform with the radical ultra-right wing Western Block Party.

Did you hear that, boys and girls? A racist supporter of domestic terrorism whose benefactor was a rich Nazi is allowed to run for public office while his patriotic conservative protégés, Gary McHale and Mark Vandermaas, play the martyrs as they sing the “lawless and lazy Indians” blues.

But McHale and company aren’t bigots, right? They just provoke confrontation while calling native rights activists “terrorists”, “lazy Indians”, and “thugs” while their buddy calls for city officials to “scalp them.” Gary McHale and Mark Vandermaas claim they’re not prejudiced against First Nations people —they just attract neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and anti-native bigots by accident.

Fromm was also an advocate for Glenn Bahr, who referred to First Nations people as “vermin” — which is the exact same terminology used by the Nazis in reference to Jews. On December 1st 2006, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal found Bahr guilty of violating the Canadian Human Rights Act.

Other associates of Fromm’s include former Internet service provider, Bernard Klatt of BC and far-right wing activist and Canadian lawyer Doug Christie, Jr. who specializes in representing neo-Nazis, Holocaust deniers and anti-native bigots. Doug Christie’s client list includes Ernst Zündel, Rudy Stanko (of the World Church of the Creator), and accused Nazi war criminal Imre Finta. Although Imre Finta was acquitted in 1990, he was reportedly a member of Hungary’s Nazified police force, the Arrow-Cross, and assisted in the liquidation of the Szeged ghetto (home of Eli Wiesal) and the forced deportation of the Jews of Szeged to Auschwitz.

Paul Fromm did not merely dabble in anti-Semitism and flirt with racism; he devoted his entire life to promoting neo-Nazi ideologies and supporting and mentoring upcoming fascist protégés. Just as he was backed by Martin Weiche, he now backs and supports Gary McHale and recruits other new would-be Nazis into the fold — targeting university students, patriots, and others with socially conservative views.

Gary "I'm Not a Racist" McHale's plea for help from his Aryan supremacy buddies at Stormfront

Is it reasonable to believe Gary McHale’s claims that he’s not a racist or a neo-Nazi as he points out that he and Mark Vandermaas are supporters of Israel by virtue of a link on their website?

Klaus Barbie —”the Butcher of Lyon” — one of many infamous top Nazi war criminals that escaped justice at the post-war tribunals courtesy of the Vatican rat-line, also supported Israel from his new life as a Latin American cocaine kingpin by shipping armaments to Israel despite an embargo at the time. That didn’t make him any less of a Nazi who had sent thousands of France’s Jews from Drancy to their deaths. Is it reasonable to believe that Klaus Barbie wasn’t a bigot because he supported Israel?

Every town that Gary McHale and his group descend upon, white supremacists and neo-Nazis show up to give their support. They’re drawn to him like maggots to bad meat.

McHale calls himself a civil rights activist. He claims he wants equal rights for all Canadians, and that he’s unfairly tarred with the racist brush when he’s just a social justice activist out for fairness and equity. If that were true, then why did he accept backing and support from a rabid neo-Nazi like Paul Fromm who called for the scalping of native people? Why did he accept support from white supremacist Dave Ruud of Northern Alliance at Caledonia in 2007?

If McHale is truly for equal rights and fairness, why did he not instead seek out support and help from Morris Dees of the Southern Poverty Law Center which is dedicated to promoting peace, tolerance, and social justice? Isn’t that something a legitimate and reasonable civil rights advocate would do?

Gary McHale points to the crisis at Caledonia and Oka, conjuring up fearsome images of violent Mohawk warriors to whip up public panic. He uses the picture of the native Unity flag (the “Mohawk Warrior flag”) and the photo of Sam Gualtieri, the badly beaten builder who got into an altercation with natives at Caledonia’s Douglas Creek Estates, to reinforce anti-native sentiments among the non-native population. He came to High Park in Toronto, telling anyone who would listen that they were in danger from Mohawk warriors and the presence of the “Mohawk warrior flag” proved it — referring to the Unity flag that was present during the encampment of native people who were there with the city’s permission to do restorative work in High Park.

But what Gary McHale can’t seem to explain is why the situations in Oka and Caledonia got volatile in the first place.

Not too far from the Canadian-US border in western upstate New York sits a large Iroquois reserve and in the middle of that reserve sits the town of Salamanca — right on native lands belonging to Haudenesaunee people. Salamanca has a lot of non-native residents. They’re surrounded by native people. Yet, the people coexist peaceably and seem to be able to get along. To the best of my knowledge, there has never been an “Oka” or “Caledonia” type of crisis there in my lifetime of 44 years.

So, the real question is not whether the Unity flag is a Mohawk warrior flag, or if “the natives get special treatment” from law enforcement. The real question is what are the people in Salamanca, New York doing right that they’re able to get along?

Jacqueline S. Homan holds a Bachelors degree in mathematics with a minor in physics. Coming from deep poverty in a Philadelphia ghetto, she is a social justice advocate for America’s poor and a freelance journalist and the author of four nonfiction books and several articles on medical ethics. She has been to several Cree reserves in the interior of BC in the Canadian Rockies , Alberta, and Saskatchewan. Her books, available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble, are: Classism For Dimwits, Eyes of a Monster, Nothing You Can Possess (in revision), and Divine Right: The Truth is a Lie.


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