Hive mind

In the recent uproar over which citizens should have the right to use meeting space in a public library, some inflammatory comments have been bandied about.  Let’s examine a few. (all quotes are from the video accompanying this article)

“We’re going to make sure that the nazis don’t come back.  … Or the Tea Party.  Or the libertarians.  And all of their fascist friends.”

For a variety of reasons, I haven’t discussed how I’m registered to vote (or even my voting philosophy) on this blog.  The above statement has prompted me to reconsider that stance.

I’m a registered libertarian.  I have been a registered libertarian for fourteen years.  There have been times when I’ve been very ambivalent about continuing to be registered as a libertarian (not least when Bob Barr was the Libertarian nominee for President in 2008), but I continue to have an “L” next to my name because I feel that they are one of the few political groups who are truly devoted to civil liberties, and because I believe in doing my part to have third parties like the Libertarian Party and the Green-Rainbow Party as “major parties” (and not designations) in Massachusetts.

I think it’s a dangerous thing to make any sweeping generalities about any large group of people.

At the risk of making myself sound incredibly naive, the Tea Party movement isn’t about racism, although like any area of society, there may be a few (or more) racists lurking there.  To equate the Tea Party with nazis, or with the NEWP, is simplistic and belittles the very real concerns many Tea Partiers have.  It’s not unwarranted to be concerned about where the TP is headed, about many (indeed, any) of their viewpoints, or whether they’re intellectually consistent, but it over-generalizes the motivations of the TP folks to a point where there can be no meaningful dialogue.

As to whether libertarians are fascist, I think one would have to stretch the definitions of  “libertarian” and “fascism” in some rather incredible directions to try to make that point.  I have a tough time understanding how any thinking person can put the label “fascist” on a group that believes in freedom of assembly/speech, less government, no overseas entanglements, etc.  Libertarians want to protect your liberties, not violate them.  I would also posit that many libertarians, myself included, would not agree with Tea Party members on many issues.

“The library is a place for families and children to spend time and educate themselves and not for people to advocate for genocide and slavery…”

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the library is not just a nice place for nice people to learn nice things. Nor, for that matter, is any public place.  If you’re out and about, there are any number of things by which a person might be offended on any given day.  Our form of government offers many freedoms, but freedom from annoyance isn’t one of them.

Are you afraid of your children being exposed to a potentially offensive point of view?  You can choose to ignore the offensive stuff, or you can approach it as a teaching moment.  But I don’t know how you can talk about your values and help your child develop his own values if you don’t have conversations about the things that make you uncomfortable.

“Jobs – Yes!  Racism – No!  Nazis & Tea Party have to go!!”

This was one of the typical problematic slogans offered at the anti-NEWP protest last week.

Conflating the Tea Party movement with “Nazis” is like saying apples are a citrus fruit.  Let’s not forget, Nazism=Nationalsozialismus=“National Socialism”.  What part of the Tea Party movement could have seemed socialist to that protester?

And while I’m at it, I mean, really folks — who among us thinks to him/herself “Jobs – NO!”, even if s/he didn’t particularly feel like going in to work that day?

There’s an element of our society that simply wants to demonize/ban anything with which they disagree.  And they feel that if they can assemble the bigger mob, they get to decide who or what to ban.

That’s not (usually) the way this country works.  And that’s not how you effectively combat unattractive ideas/speech.  You counter them with positive ideas/speech.  To try to squash those you disagree with would make you a fascist.

Instead, consider the pledge that Libertarian Party members take when they join:

“I oppose the initiation of force to achieve political or social goals.”

It bothers me very deeply that there was at least one person at that protest who wants to make sure that I “don’t come back” because of my political beliefs (the majority of which are about non-violence and protecting people’s rights).  I sincerely hope that folks better acquaint themselves with political groups they aren’t familiar with before the next protest.

T. Vig.

A couple of weeks ago, we were driving down West Boylston Street (which isn’t my usual route to anything), and noticed a business we hadn’t seen in quite some time:

T. Vig’s was somewhat notorious earlier in the century because of its owner Thomas Vigliatura’s involvement in dealing less-than-legal drugs.

(As always, to access the links, click here first.)

In 2004, Vigliatura told the Telegram:

“Kids definitely should not be taking [steroids]. They’re illegal, so I don’t advocate them and I don’t ever, ever supply them,” he said.

Still, “kids hear me, but they don’t listen,” he said.

A year later, he (along with two Worcester police officers) was arrested for running a GHB drug ring.  Dianne Williamson got not one but two columns out of the incident.

Vigliatura eventually pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and various possession charges, threatened the life of a federal prosecutor, was supposed to testify against his co-defendent but later refused, was sentenced to an additional six months (to a total of 51 months) because of that refusal, and had to forfeit his home and business.  He was released from prison in November 2009.

Three years ago, he said that he had changed.

He opened the new T. Vig’s (pictured above) last year, and I hope he continues on the straight & narrow!

Blogger Coffee – March 15

Thanks to Katie’s mad administrative skills, we’ll be having another blogger coffee in a few weeks.

Here are the details:
time: Tuesday, March 15 from 5:30pm ’til whenever
location: Nu Cafe, 335 Chandler Street

You do not need to be a blogger to attend. 

You do not need to be a regular commenter (or even reader) to attend. 

You are more than welcome to come for as long or as short a time as makes you comfortable.  You can come late or early.  You know the routine.

However, if you need a blogger fix earlier than that, Cathy and I would like to invite you to come see Mademoiselle Chambon this Saturday, February 26 at 7:30 pm at Cinema 320.  Because nothing says “Worcester blogger” like watching a French language film.

“some goofy, left-wing, (probably) drug-abusing college kid”

You want to peruse?  Let’s peruse the rants of one of the NEWP dudes! 

…within 5 hours of the start of the business day I received a call from the head librarian, asking me at the behest of the city manager to reschedule our meeting. Within a few hours of that I received multiple calls from the media and a local rabbi. How does the posting of some goofy, left-wing, (probably) drug-abusing college kid turn into a full-court press involving media, synagogues, and local public officials?

I’m not exactly sure who this “goofy, left-wing, (probably) drug-abusing college kid” is, but if he’s available, I think I have a cousin who’d be interested in dating him.  And, you know, I’d like to help him work on his plans for world domination via Twitter and email lists.

On a more serious note, if your whole organization can be disrupted by a “goofy college kid”, what does that say about you?  If a bunch of flaky bloggers from a relatively small municipal area can get more people at a gathering than the white supremacists can get from all of New England (“half-a-dozen Whites”)…again, what does that say about you?

Also, this NEWP dude is able to do demographic analysis on the 100-foot walk from his car to a conference room.  Sign him up for the census!

We have been meeting at the Worcester, MA public library since November, without incident, even given that the patrons of the library are almost completely non-White. In fact, the only Whites I have seen there are members of our group and library staff. This is the primary reason we chose Worcester as a meeting place – many White residents have visited our website and lodged complaints that the city they grew-up in, has become alien and hostile to them and that local authorities show no concern for their rights, traditions, and heritage.

No white patrons at the library?  Really?  In a city that is 77% white?

Obviously you have never been to Legos Club.  Or Swedish Genealogy days.  And you’ve never seen my list of holds.  (Then again, I might not be white despite my pale exterior.  Scratch that last part.)

It couldn’t happen without backing from the most powerful interests in our country. Who are these people? What is their aim?

Let me tell you who they are.  They’re a bunch of nice, well-intentioned people who don’t much like the brand of fascism you peddle.  And they’re better-organized than you, not because of some world Zionist conspiracy, but because they have a clue and give a crap.



And I’ll tell you who I am.  I’m someone who will fight for your right to say any number of offensive things.  I’m someone who will be publicizing and attending any meetings you have at the library.  I will be liveblogging them if need be.  My grandfather fought in a war to get rid of fascists like you who’d overrun his country.  You will not do the same to mine.

Welcome to Worcester!

Privacy as an afterthought

I’ve fallen down on the job a bit as a blogger and a human.

In the last post, I freely quoted an event listing from the library website which included some contact information.

On another post I also allowed Sean’s comment to publish, and it contained a bit more information (a website), though I decided to withhold another person’s comment along those lines.

Nevertheless, Joe rightfully took us to task.

While Sean and I certainly didn’t intend to create trouble for anyone, Joe’s comment made me rethink allowing that contact information to be available here.  I’ve redacted the phone numbers and email addresses.  Bloggers and media outlets are sometimes too quick to facilitate the invasion of someone’s privacy.  I can’t do anything to prevent that information being available elsewhere, but this blog is one place where I can, through careful editing/moderating, raise the tenor of controverial topics and avoid publishing information which might possibly place someone in harm’s way.  Let’s face it — although we’ve had a glimpse of a certain kind of crazy lately, there’s a fair amount of “counter-crazy” trolling the blogs & media sites of central Massachusetts, and they can be just as hateful in their way as those to whom they’re opposed.

I’ll try to be a bit more circumspect here, and I challenge other bloggers & the mainstream media to be careful as well.

secret nazi moonbase

(seriously, people)

Jackie Reis’s article mentions that the NEWP has met at the library before.  Some of the calendar records are incomplete, but these folks were not hiding who they were on previous occasions.

They met on Tuesday, November 23, 2010.  Here’s the description from the library eventkeeper system:

NEWP Networking Meetup

A networking meetup for those individuals interested in learning more about preserving our civil rights and liberties – hosted by the Massachusetts Division of Northeast White Pride.

Date:
Tuesday Nov 23, 2010

Time:
7:00 PM  –  9:00 PM

Contact:
Vicky Perry or Russ James    [email and phone redacted by Nicole]

Location:
Banx Room – Main Library

They also met on January 11, 2011.  Again, from the library calendar system:

NEWP Monthly Networking Meetup
A montly networking for members and prospective new members interested in preserving white civil rights.

Date:
Tuesday Jan 11, 2011

Time:
7:00 PM  –  9:00 PM

Contact:
Vicky Perry or Russ James    [email and phone redacted by Nicole]

Location:
Saxe Room – Main Library

What should we do about the Nazi group coming to town?

It’s been suggested that this should have been the title of my last post, but my philosophy has always been to hide my rants under the guise of boring library posts.  Since some of you have been wondering about what you can do, here’s a larger post written by an anonymous acquaintance about the kind of group who’ll be at the library tomorrow.  Emphasis has been added by me.

First, register for an account at stormfront.org and poke around so what I’m saying has some context, otherwise it sounds inflated and alarmist.  Maybe it is, but it only takes one unstable person in a group to go from rhetoric to actually hurting someone.  Stormfront lets anyone register so you can literally just walk in the door and see the same rhetoric, I can give you some usernames of NEWP members to watch, but they’re not very hard to find. 

As to their game?  Divide and conquer.  With the WN movement it all starts with a very well articulated form of overt antisemitism, all other non-white races are just pawns in a game run by Jews.  So it’s not hard to imagine they play with the same rhetoric that’s been used to justify marginalizing the Jewish population for thousands of years.  They’ve just tweaked the language a bit to reel in soft sympathy for their cause.  So instead of just coming out and saying “the Jews run the world” (which they do say amongst themselves), they can say to a tea party group “bankers have crushed the country” or “support for Israel is why we have these wars”.  The dog whistle hits its target without sending up flags to those who don’t sympathize.  And it seems to work.  By calling out hard line support of Israel and use of classic dog whistles like banking, they can then focus on people who question US foreign policy but have never bothered (in their heads) to separate Israel the country from the Jewish population.  From there it’s a matter of going back to the same old BS, re-introducing centuries old conspiracy theory to a new generation.  Same with their anti-same sex marriage work (they’re active in RI now as their bill moves forward).  They capitalize on existing religious rhetoric to position themselves as ‘just looking out for the regular guy’.

That’s their MO in urban areas.  When they work in rural areas (Hudson, NH) they focus on illegal immigration and try to position themselves as concerned citizens who are simply looking out for white people forced to ‘deal with crime, drugs and disease that illegal immigrants bring with them’. Separate the unorganized, legally voiceless minority from the pack and let the majority hit them from a thousand different fractured, suburban-fear based angles.

A down economy and large up-tick in new, far right conservative activism has just opened the doors to old play books.  They’re using the same tools seen in the Fascist movements of the 20’s and 30’s.  Create scapegoats, build a false sense of native community around those common enemies and marginalize those common enemies to the point where existing social contracts can no longer protect them.  When the gloves come off it’s too late to do anything, momentum will be on their side.  Not sure if it’s genius tactics or some of the stupidest crap imaginable, but the Nazi fetish is purposeful.  By the time you get to Crystal Night in ’38, 20 years of organization and continent wide political triangulation was in play.  There was no conceivable way for anyone to stop the momentum at that point. But roll back 20 years and all you have is a few agrarian movements scattered through Italy, France, Belgium and Germany talking nonsense.  That’s the cynically genius part, how do you target a movement without violating the very rights the movement claims is under attack, thereby strengthening the cause?  I’ve yet to see anyone tackle that question as a blueprint.  But look at the TP movement, suburban/rural politics moving into urban areas as a result of population shifts over the last 60 years.  Maybe I read to deeply into these things, but the pieces seem to be in place and the low hanging ideological kinships are ripe for the picking.

As to what follows?  That’s tough to nail down, rarely do you ever see the public face of these groups speak openly about hurting people, the SPLC will sue them into oblivion as soon as they do.  But I think you hit it with ‘vigilante cells’.  The older members tend to focus on rhetoric, while younger people recruited through hardcore shows and homeless shelters tend to fill in the ranks as thugs.  It’s easy for those who stick to words, to discount people acting on those words, when the actions of thugs come back to them.  I mentioned homeless kids, NEWP actually does food and clothing drives for just that reason.  Give a sense of hope to young white homeless kids, and then help them blame their problems on affirmative action spun as a tool of Jewish liberals.

In terms of counter strategy.  Same as it ever was, unity.  Their strength becomes their weakness in the face of diversity.  When an individual shows he/she is willing to sacrifice for the rights of someone different from them, their divide and conquer routine falls flat.  Personally, I think the best tactic is a large, diverse crowd who can say in one voice ‘we’ll support your right to speak and organize to the grave, but we’ll fight your words and actions just as hard with truth’.  May sound silly, but it’s petty debate that ends up fracturing a community.  They know this and that is ultimately their strength. 

As to common ground, never found any.  As far as I’m concerned these are conspiracy theorists who can find plenty to support their ideas in religious doctrine, old political rhetoric and contemporary socio-economic discontent.  I do believe it’s possible to keep their ranks from growing by putting eyes on them and not allowing them to own debate through spin.  We’re a bigoted country, that’s no secret.  And it’s not a difficult leap for them to get from Israel or Wall St bankers to global Zionist conspiracy in one breath.  And it is difficult for the rest of us to explain to a population that tends to view the world in black and white terms, and may never have actually encountered a Jew or a person of color, to see that we’re talking about actual people, not faceless cabals.  I guess that’s the take home message, they need to divide to conquer so we need unity to suppress.  Let them speak, but ensure every word is their undoing through logic and reason.

Library Meeting Room Guidelines

A reader asked about the library meeting room guidelines, because there’s going to be a white supremacist group meeting there tomorrow from 7:00pm-9:00pm in the Saxe Room.  (Just in time for Black Culture Movie Night!)

The meeting room guidelines are here.  Of interest:

Open Access

All meetings must be open to the public.

No admission fees may be charged. The Board of Directors may waive this regulation for library-sponsored events held at times other than normally scheduled hours of opening. The Board of Directors may permit The Friends of Worcester Public Library or the Worcester Public Library Foundation to charge admission for programs held to benefit the Library. If there is a charge to enter a program during hours that the library is open, this activity may not restrict access to regular library services.

Permission to a group to meet at the library does not in any way constitute or imply an endorsement of its policies, beliefs or program by the City of Worcester, any library official, or the Board of Library Directors.

Let it be known that I am not a representative of the library and that the opinions expressed below are my own.

I believe that public libraries are one of the greatest inventions of the past 300 years.  I believe that freedom of assembly is one of the greatest freedoms we have.

There are some folks out there who would like to pressure the Worcester Public Library to not allow the white supremacists to meet at the library.  I respectfully disagree, and I will absolutely fight for the right for these jerks to meet.

These white supremacists are professional assholes.  I’m sure — despite the fact that I’m more up on actual Anglo-Saxon language and culture than they ever will be — that they consider me somewhere between “dirty” and “mud person.”  So much for being from the ethnic group that brought you democracy!

But those assholes deserve the right to have their meeting just like other folks have the right to watch The Souls of Black Girls.

If you’ve got an issue with what they stand for, protest it.

But don’t play games with their first amendment rights just because they make you uncomfortable.

Would you rather these folks be on the DL or would you rather they come out in the light so that you can confront their misbegotten ideas?  Would you rather drive them underground so that it looks like they’re oppressed by the big bad liberals, or would you rather expose them for what they really are — hatemongers who are opposed to everything good about this country we live in?

The library is not about making nice ideas available to nice people.  It’s about providing knowledge — good, bad, and ugly — to the citizenry.  It’s about educating the people-with-a-capital-P. 

We live in a world that some people think is color-blind.  Some folks even think that racism doesn’t exist anymore.

Thank goodness we’re going to be schooled on that tomorrow night.

Bouncing Along

When the news came out about the bouncer allegedly manhandling and robbing the alleged drug dealer, if you’re like me, your first question was probably not “Is this racist?” or “Who exactly should I have been rooting for?” but rather — “When exactly did this happen?”  (And then your next reaction might have been like my husband’s: “Stuff like this never used to happen at Pudgy’s!”)

By the process of elimination, I’ve narrowed the range of possible dates.  I can definitively tell you when this did not happen:

The Lunch hour. “But, Nicole,” you say, “it was dark in the video.  I think this is a given.”

Ah!  But this never could have happened at lunch, because everyone’s at Hurricane Betty’s having a turkey club.

Prime rib night. This is less scientific deduction and more of a hunch.  Or, rather, prime rib night looms so large in my imagination that I cannot imagine anything untoward happening on that night.

Amateur night. From my frequent watching of Lifetime movies and the aforementioned overactive imagination, I’ve concluded that this could not have happened on amateur night.  There are just too many witnesses around (that is, the scuzzy boyfriends milling around in the parking lot trying to push their young girlfriends into competing). 

Now, you might argue that videotaping the whole incident would bring more witnesses than, say, any imagined horrible-Lifetime-movie-boyfriends, but this is Worcester.  This is the same city where residents’ “shortcuts” take longer — in both time and distance — than the regular route.  This is the same city where people will pay a cover charge at Hurricane Betty’s in order to play Keno.  In short, this is a city where it makes perfect sense to take video of an incident that you will later lie about to the police.

This did not happen on Super Bowl Sunday or Mother’s Day. These two days tend towards the male revue traffic.  It’s a well-documented statistic that bouncer-on-drug-dealer violence goes down sharply every time a male revue is in town.  It’s unclear whether this is caused by the sound of women laughing hysterically driving away drug dealers, whether the presence of men in g-strings cuts the testosterone so sharply that no one within a three-block radius can engage in fisticuffs, or another, as yet undiscovered, reason.

Tuesday nights. We all know that nothing of interest/significance ever happens in Worcester on Tuesday nights.