Beyond Despair

By pattrice | 26th May 2009 | Filed under Essay

Originally published in June/July 2007 issue of Satya Magazine.

It was a typical winter night at the Eastern Shore Sanctuary, meaning I was sitting on the couch brooding about big problems while dogs chewed carrot sticks on the carpet and catnip-fueled felines chased each other around the chaotic kitchen. Some new piece of wretched information—probably something about polar bears—had punched me in the stomach. “Why aren’t people doing more about global warming?” I muttered angrily. Elder dog Zami regarded me levelly until it hit me: I am people. Why aren’t I doing more about global warming?

Feeling a bit abashed, I decided to ask the question really rather than rhetorically: Why aren’t people doing more about global warming?

Since I am people, I asked myself first.

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Re-Membering Thanksgiving

By pattrice | 27th Nov 2008 | Filed under Feature

Gloating and Gluttony Then and Now
by pattrice jones
Originally published 2004 on various IndyMedia sites.
Revises 2003 essay originally published by Press Action.

Thanksgiving, 2003 — Bush the executioner grins and pardons a turkey before flying to Iraq. He’s earned that self-satisfied smirk. All over his United States, citizens celebrate conquest over platters of flesh. Too full of turkey to think and too full of themselves to question, they let out their belts and watch TV. Tomorrow they go shopping!

November, 2004 – Homophobia hands GWB four more years. Seizing the day, he orders his Conquistadors to take Falluja. US troops blockade the city, announcing that any man under 45 who remains will be presumed hostile and that no man under 45 will be permitted to leave. Any man having the audacity to have been born in a city the Americans want to occupy is about to discover what the original inhabitants of the Americas learned long ago.

***

“Body parts are everywhere!” That’s what one US soldier had to say about the saddest city in Iraq, according to an AFP report. It’s also an apt description of the state of US dinner tables during the festival of gloating and gluttony known as Thanksgiving.

This year, the United States celebrates Thanksgiving in the wake of the taking of Falluja. Waving “drumsticks” and fighting for “wishbones,” complacent Christians will gorge themselves without fear, safe from the threats of gay marriage and Iraqi self-determination. Stuffing themselves beyond satiation, they and their children will partake of the proud Puritanical tradition of ruthless, reckless expansion.

Colonization is nothing to crow about. When Columbus blundered into a hemisphere populated by 70-100 million people and countless unique species of flora and fauna, he set into motion a chain reaction of repression and rebellion that continues to this day.

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Conquistadors of the Senses

By pattrice | 27th Nov 2008 | Filed under Essay

by pattrice jones

First published 28 November 2006 by FreezerBox Magazine.

Throwing the homosexuals to the hounds sounds like a metaphor for the Republican Party’s electoral strategy of recent years, but it actually happened back in 1513 in what is now Panama. Then, governor Vasco Nunez de Balboa condemned 50 homosexual Indians to be torn apart by dogs.Seen by both Catholic Conquistadors and Protestant Pilgrims as a sign of godless animality, same-sex pleasure was ruthlessly suppressed throughout the process of the subjugation of the Americas. Today, the conquest of the senses continues, as billions of people and animals are forced to forgo all kinds of natural happiness so that a privileged few can enjoy the empty gluttony that has brought us to the brink of planetary catastrophe.

When Columbus blundered into the Caribbean, sexual freedom — including full acceptance of homosexuality — was the norm in the region.

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Annals of an Archaic Anarchist

By pattrice | 9th Oct 2008 | Filed under Book Review

pattrice jones

Originally published in the Summer 2005 issue of Impact Press.

Review of The Voltairine de Cleyre Reader edited by A.J. Brigati (AK Press)

Quick — name two 19th century female anarchists. If you got stuck after Emma Goldman, then it’s time for you to meet Voltairine de Cleyre. Born into poverty in Michigan in 1866, converted to anarchism by the 1887 execution of the Haymarket martyrs, and active as a popular speaker and writer from the 1890s until her premature death in 1912, Voltairine de Cleyre was called by Emma Goldman “the most gifted and brilliant anarchist woman America ever produced.”

Like Goldman, de Cleyre condemned the objectification and exploitation of women with the same urgency with which she challenged the legitimacy of governments. Speaking with more force and honesty than many self-proclaimed feminists manage to muster today, de Cleyre dared to denounce marriage laws that permit husbands to rape their wives as “sex slavery.”

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An Army of Fools?

By pattrice | 9th Oct 2008 | Filed under Book Review

by pattrice jones

Originally published in Fall 2005 issue of Impact Press.

Review of War Made Easy by Norman Solomon

“Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

So goes the old saying. But when it comes to war, we’ve been fooled over and over again, with the same tricks serving the same purposes every time.

When does credulity become complicity? That’s the question that arises for me after reading Norman Solomon’s War Made Easy.

People in the United States like to think of themselves as peaceful and friendly lovers of liberty. Despite that innocent and pacific national self-image, the USA always seems seems to be fighting somebody, often by means of torture and treachery. In my lifetime, the United States has invaded Afghanistan, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Iraq, and Panama; bombed civilians in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Iraq, Kosovo, Lebanon, and Vietnam; and sponsored reactionary paramilitary violence in Afghanistan, Angola, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Nicaragua and heaven-only-knows where else.

How is it that peace-loving people are so frequently inspired to march to war?

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Renters Strike Back: The All-City Rent Strike of 1969-71

By pattrice | 16th Sep 2008 | Filed under Feature

by pattrice jones

Originally published in the February 1999 issue of Ann Arbor’s alternative newspaper, Agenda.

“Landlords have money and power… tenants have each other.”

With those words, a group of University of Michigan students launched an event that reverberates to this day. The Ann Arbor Tenants Union’s “all-city rent strike” of 1969-71 began 30 years ago this month and may be said to have never ended. Every day, some Michigan tenants exercise their right to withhold rent in response to poor housing conditions or other problems with their landlords. Most are unaware of the valiant efforts of the activists who secured that right 30 years ago or of the steadfast struggles of those who have sought to maintain tenants’ rights in the decades since. That’s too bad, because the story is instructive as well as dramatic.

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