Chris Chandler's Muse and Whirled Retort November 2018
Sunday, November 11, 2018
It has been a whirl-wind since last we spoke. The West Coast, USA with Sean Shanahan https://www.facebook.com/tsaurus, then off to Europe with Jen Delyth. The UK to visit Jen’s Folks. Reading poetry as a solo. Ran into David Rovics in the middle of his European tour, Tuscany, got caught on a small boat in a storm in Croatia, and in a flood in yes... Venice.
Now, I am home and going to take a little break from performing to help Jen with Celtic Art Studio over the winter solstice. Just doing a small handful of local shows and events between now and then.
In January, I am honored to have my poem “Ninth Ward New Orleans #5 (I am in Love with a Drunk)” featured in the 40th Anniversary edition of the Maple Leaf Rag put out by Portals Press. Congratulations Portals Press.
T.H.E. .M.U.S.E. .A.N.D. .W.H.I.R.L.E.D. .R.E.T.O.R.T.
(Back home) in Oakland, CA
November 11, 2018
By Chris Chandler
I believe that on Veteran's Day it is important to remember there are many ways to die in the service of your country.
I also believe that the second single most thing that America needs is... forgiveness. The only way she can receive that... is to deserve it.
This past election was hard for many. Some remain hopeful. Some are celebrating. Voting is important. I know many who disagree, for reasons left and right. To them I say, at least cast a blank ballot.
With that said, it is also important to keep in mind that it has not been voting that has brought us much needed change in this country. Most of the important gains we have made in this country has been through direct action. Marching in the streets. Rarely does a politician benevolently legislate positive change. It needs to be demanded by those in the street. Our Veterans. Yes, our veterans for Peace and Justice.
Today is Veteran’s Day. (Monday it is Observed)
I say, we should not only honor, remember, celebrate and lay wreaths upon the tombs of our fallen military veterans, but also our fallen veterans for peace and justice.
I can at least intellectually wrap my head around honor in serving your country. But, I also recognize (at least by odds) that inside Unknown Soldier's Tomb lay...
I am aware of the naiveté of my pacifism.
Yes, The United States did do her part helping Russia and Great Britain to liberate Europe and China from brutal tyranny just sixty odd years ago.
But most of our military campaigns have been dubious at best.
Perhaps we did need to step in a century ago and mop up that awful squabble over the shifting powers of the newly industrialized European Corporations (I mean countries.)
Perhaps, Abe Lincoln was justified in raising troops and marching them against his rebelling people. (Though people much smarter than me have pondered that one for much longer than I have... could the slaves have been freed with out a war?)
But The War of 1812 – AKA the failed Canadian land grab
The Seminole Wars?
The Texas Revolution?
The Invasion of Mexico?
The Indian Wars of '65 to ' 90?
The Invasion of Cuba?
Countless occupations in Central America?
(WTF do you think brought us the caravan?)
The Korean War?
The Cold War?
Oil War I?
The Occupation of Afghanistan?
Oil War II?
How can we justify any of those?
Throughout human history poor people have been drafted to fight in rich people's fights. And I hate that.
Yes, on Veteran's Day, in my younger days I might have jumped up on a bar stool and decried all people willing to partake in warfare.
Then i think...
My ancestors fought in the Civil War. They were not land owners, let alone slave owners... They were drafted... in the first American conscription ever. Poor people fighting a rich man’s fight.
Today, I think of conscripts forced to fight. Economic conscripts caught between incarceration and Kandahar – Bankruptcy and Baghdad.
They are martyrs too.
They should be honored.
As Abraham Lincoln said, “It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.”
However, there are many ways to die in the service of your country. Many people in the United States have taken on many battles that are just, proper and good.
The fight for the 8 hour day.
The fight for child labor laws.
The fight for women's suffrage.
The fight for civil rights.
The anti war movement.
The fight for gay rights.
The fight for trans rights.
The Fight for Immigrants' Rights.
(to name a few.)
Not to mention
The war on Poverty
The War on Drugs...
The Drug on Wars....
The War on Christmas.
(It is November the 11th - stop it with the Christmas music already) is that a war?
No seriously, on this Veteran’s Day I remember not only our fallen Veterans of War, but I also remember Sacho and Vanzetti. Joe Hill, and John Brown. August Spies and Albert Parsons and the other Haymarket Martyrs.
I remember Rachel Corey. I remember Alison Krause, Jeffrey Miller, Sandra Scheuer, and William Schroeder who were killed at Kent State. They are veterans who died in the service of their country.
I remember James Earl Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Henry Schwerner - young civil rights workers - who were arrested by a deputy sheriff and then released into the hands of Klansmen who had plotted their murders.
I remember Emily Davidson who in 1913 martyred herself in protest of women's right to vote.
No, I can't name them all. And there are countless activists that have died in the line of duty.
But still - on this day, I ask for a tomb of the unknown activist. I ask Donald J Trump on Veteran’s Day to lay a wreath in Utah where Joe Hill was killed by firing squad. "Don't mourn. Organize," he said. (I can ask can’t I?)
On this Veteran’s Day I ask Melania Trump to lay a wreath for the victims of the hunger strikes of the Suffragettes. She could not have voted for her husband without them. They are veterans who died in the service of their country.
On this Veteran’s Day, I remember Medgar Evers, who directed NAACP operations in Mississippi when he was shot and killed by a sniper at his home. He is a veteran who died in the service of his country.
I remember the armed rebellion of 10,000 West Virginia coal miners against company thugs and then the US Military. "The Battle of Blair Mountain," in May 1920. It is still the largest insurrection this country has had since the Civil War. The battle included aerial bombardment of US Citizens by the US military. I remember the war on the Matawan. They were veterans who died in the service of their country.
I remember that on November, 23 1887 The Louisiana Militia, aided by bands of "prominent citizens," shot at least 35 unarmed black sugar workers striking to gain a dollar-per-day wage. I remember the victims of the Thibodaux Massacre. They were martyrs who died in the service of their country.
I remember the first openly gay politician to hold elective office was assassinated in 1978 after passing stringent pro gay policies. I remember Harvey Milk a veteran who died in the service of his country.
I remember the first black person registered to vote in Humphreys County, Alabama who used his pulpit and his printing press to urge others to vote. White officials offered protection on the condition he end his voter registration efforts. He refused and was murdered in 1955. I remember Rev. George Lee a veteran who died in the service of his country.
I remember the activist and independent book store owner in Chapel Hill, NC in 1991 that spoke out against the popular Persian Gulf War on television and was assassinated later that night. I remember Bob Sheldon a veteran who died in the service of his country.
I remember the victims of a fire in 1911 whose death brought to light working conditions as well as child labor laws. I remember the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. They were veterans who died in the service of their country.
I remember that on July 6, 1892 Pinkerton Guards opened fire on striking Carnegie mill steel- workers in Homestead, Pennsylvania. I remember the victims of The Homestead Strike. They were all veterans who died in the service of their country.
I remember that on December 29, 1890 as many as 500 Lakota Sioux American Citizens were mowed down with machine guns by the United States Army as they attempted to practice their religious freedom. I remember Wounded Knee I. These American veterans were mowed down by other American veterans. It is high time we realized that.
I remember that on April 23, 1973 between eight and twelve individuals trying to break the siege of Wounded Knee by The US Armed Forces were intercepted by vigilantes. None were ever heard From again. I remember Wounded Knee II.
I remember that on June 21, 1877 ten coal-mining activists were hanged in Pennsylvania. I remember the "Molly Maguires" They were veterans who died in the service of their country.
I remember that on March 5, 1770 five labor leaders including one abolitionist were killed while protesting the British Military. I remember the Boston Massacre.
I remember that on January 13, 1874 as unemployed workers demonstrated in New York a detachment of mounted police charged into the crowd, beating men, women and children indiscriminately with Billy clubs and leaving hundreds of casualties in their wake. I remember the victims of The Tompkins Square Riot.
I remember Paul Guihard, a reporter for a French news service, was killed by gunfire from a white mob during protests over the admission of James Meredith to the University of Mississippi.
I remember the member of the American Indian Movement stripped naked, tortured and beaten to death- found a week later stuffed in a trunk. I remember Raymond Yellow Thunder a veteran who died in the service of his country.
I remember civil rights activists who protested the building of a segregated school by placing their bodies in the way of construction equipment but failed to stop the bulldozer. I remember Rev. Bruce Klunder a veteran who died in the service of his country.
I remember that on June 8, 1904 A battle between the Colorado Militia and striking miners ended with six union members dead and 15 taken prisoner. I remember the Dunnville Massacre.
I remember Elijah Lovejoy abolitionist murdered for publishing his beliefs and his printing press destroyed in 1837.
I remember a Unitarian minister from Boston, who joined Civil-Rights marchers in Selma and was beaten to death. I remember Rev. James Reeb a veteran who died in the service of his country.
I remember an African-American activist was assassinated as he lay in bed in his apartment. I remember Fred Hampton a veteran who died in the service of his country.
I remember that on November 11, 1919 members of the American Legion attempted to force their way into an IWW hall in Centralia, Washington during an Armistice Day anniversary celebration. Four armed intruders were shot dead by members of the IWW, which prompted a local mob to publicly lynch IWW organizer Wesley Everest. I remember The Centralia Massacre.
I remember a housewife and mother from Detroit, drove alone to Alabama to help with the Selma march after seeing televised reports of the attack at the Edmund Pettus Bridge. She was driving marchers back to Selma from Montgomery when she was shot and killed by a Klansmen in a passing car. I remember Viola Gregg Liuzzo, a veteran who died in the service of her country.
I remember that on September 10, 1897 Nineteen unarmed striking coal miners and mine workers were killed and 36 wounded by a posse organized by the Luzerne County sheriff for refusing to disperse in Pennsylvania. The strikers, most of whom were shot in the back, were originally brought in as strike-breakers, but later organized themselves. I remember the victims of the Lattimer Strike.
I remember an Episcopal Seminary student from Boston, had come to Alabama to help with black voter registration in Lowndes County. He was arrested at a demonstration, jailed in Hayneville and then suddenly released. Moments after his release, he was shot to death by a deputy sheriff. I remember Jonathan Myrick Daniels a veteran who died in the service of his country.
I remember that on February 24, 1912 Women and children were beaten by police during a textile strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts. I remember the Bread and Roses Strike. They were veterans who died in the service of their country.
I remember Vernon Ferdinand Dahmer, a wealthy businessman, offered to pay poll taxes for those who couldn’t afford the fee required to vote. The night after a radio station broadcasted Dahmer’s offer, his home was firebombed. Dahmer died later from severe burns.
I remember that on August 19, 1916 Strikebreakers hired by the Everett Mills owner attacked and beat picketing strikers in Everett, Washington. Local police watched and refused to intervene. In response, the IWW called for a meeting. When the union men arrived, they were fired on; seven people were killed, 50 were wounded, and an indeterminate number wound up missing. I remember the Battle of Everett.
I remember the bricklayer who had attended civil rights meetings sponsored by the Congress of Racial Equality. He was found dead on a roadside, shot through the head. I remember Clarence Triggs a veteran who died in the service of his country.
I remember that on November 21, 1927 picketing miners were massacred in Columbine, Colorado. I remember the first Columbine Massacre. They were veterans who died in the service of their country.
I remember that on October 12, 1898 in Illinois - 14 were killed, 25 wounded in violence resulting when mine owners attempted to break a strike by importing 200 nonunion black workers. I remember the victims of the Virden massacre.
I remember that on April 27, 1973 Buddy Lamont-AIM member was hit by M16 fire at Wounded Knee, Bled to death while pinned down by fire. Still no investigation.
I remember that in July of 1877 A general strike halted the movement of U.S. railroads. In the following days, strike riots spread across the United States. The next week, federal troops were called out to force an end to the nationwide strike. In Chicago, federal troops (recently returned from an Indian massacre) killed 30 workers and wounded over 100. I remember “The Battle of the Viaduct."
I remember Malcolm X. Though killed by people within his own cause, the institution of racism and the "Hate that hate produced" was the ultimate culprit in his demise. He was a veteran who died in the service of his country.
I remember that on April 20, 1914 the Colorado State Militia attacked a union tent camp with machine guns, then set it afire. Five men, two women and 12 children died as a result. I remember The "Ludlow Massacre."
I remember that on July 22, 1916 a bomb was set off during a "Preparedness Day" parade in San Francisco, killing 10 and injuring 40 more. Thomas J. Mooney, a labor organizer and Warren K. Billings, a shoe worker, were convicted, but were both pardoned in 1939.
I remember IWW organizer Frank Little lynched in 1916 Butte, Montana.
I remember United Mine Workers organizer Ginger Goodwin was shot by a hired private policeman outside Cumberland, British Columbia in 1918.
I remember that on December 22, 1919 approximately 250 "anarchists," "communists," and "labor agitators" were deported to Russia where several of them died. I remember the first day of the 70 year Red Scare.
And finally on Veteran’s Day, I remember the Baptist minister who led and inspired major non-violent desegregation campaigns, including those in Montgomery and Birmingham. He won the Nobel peace prize. He was assassinated as he prepared to lead a demonstration in Memphis. I remember Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a veteran who died in the service of his country.
Yes, these are battles – and yes let us remember.
This list is far from complete. There is no way it could be. It is by no means all of them. But it is important we remember them all.
To paraphrase Utah Phillips, (who was paraphrasing someone else – making this a "Folk" quote)
"The most dangerous thing in the world is a long memory."