MOVE, George Orwell, and the PhillyIMC
(The following was posted on the PhillyIMC Website in response to my blog posting concerning Mario Africa possibly teaching in Philadelphia Public Schools)
First off, if a high school teacher were actually "poisoning the minds" of students (in Spanish class?) by directly advocating any particular doctrine, the odds are very good that it would come to light. High school students are a diverse bunch; the chances that the many dozens of students who pass through a given teacher's classes every day would all conspire to keep in-class political indoctrination a secret are so minimal as to be laughable.
The idea that a teacher is "poisoning minds" simply by being there and by being a member of a particular group would also be laughable- if it weren't so much like the claims made by bigots about teachers who are gay.
Mr. Allen clearly hasn't done any real thinking about this. Instead, he reflexively demands that anyone connected with his hate-object be punished for that connection, irrespective of any real evidence of any wrongdoing.
Orwell nailed Allen's type back in 1936, in The Road to Wigan Pier:
"The romantic idealist whose opinions all change to their opposites at the first touch of reality"
I lived just up the street from the original MOVE house way back in the '70s. It wasn't hard to recognize them as a bunch of irrational buttheads.
If Mr. Allen is any example, one might generalize: "once a fanatical butthead, always a fanatical butthead."
The above commentary was posted as a response to my recent blog posting concerning the possibility of Mario Africa teaching within the Philadelphia Public School System at the Philly IMC website. There are a couple of things that jump out at me right off the bat. The least of which is the fact that the author of the piece makes the mistake of thinking that Mario would be teaching Spanish. This is not the case and if the author had taken the time to actually read my article than they would have known that it is alleged that Mario is teaching history and creative writing. What else is pronounced about this particular response is that it is glaringly sophistic and elitist at it’s core.
Another disturbing and dare I say ignorant aspect of the response is the comparison of my position to that of “anti-gay bigots”. To be sure, homosexuals are biologically hardwired as such. People who join MOVE do so out of a matter of choice. Secondly, it is wrong to assume a gay monolith. Within the gay community is a vast array of political, social, and religious views and nobody should be taken with the notion that gays would attempt to indoctrinate anyone about anything. MOVE members are explicitly anti-government, anti-American, anti-choice, anti-reality, and are taught to espouse these views whenever and wherever possible. The analogy falls flat.
The author of the response (who not surprisingly chooses to remain anonymous) seems to assume that because he/she knows that MOVE is a “bunch of irrational buttheads” that everyone else does, or should. Unfortunately, this is not always the case and the fact that MOVE still has a steady supply of gullible and duped supporters is proof positive that the knowledge of MOVE’s odious nature is not universally accepted....especially outside of Philadelphia’s city limits.
Now having been on the receiving end of a steady stream of criticism for my views about MOVE over the last two years I think it fool-hardy for me not to, at least consider the merits of some of these critiques. For only a brainwashed cultist would be foolish enough to believe that their excrement is without odor and their position infallible. As for me, been there done that. I am keenly aware that my own personal development hinges on my ability to build upon my past mistakes and to know that I can never take myself too seriously. That said, sometimes criticisms are way off the mark and are spewed forth with malevolent intent.
The author of the response quotes a wonderful phrase from George Orwell’s “The Road To Wigan Pier” that seems to denounce those in the political arena who, when faced with the reality that their ideas have consequences balk and instead embrace ideals that are diametrically opposed to those that they had previously held.
A very contemporary example of such a reversal would be arch-conservative David Horowitz. Horowitz, once a pillar of the radical community has sworn off with great fanfare and bombast his previous “revolutionary” fervor for what often amounts to a very reactionary brand of conservatism. Horowitz’s epiphany has led him from one very extreme position to another. That said, while I deplore much of Horowitz’s current political allegiances, I cannot deny his invaluable contributions insofar as exposing the violence of the Black Panther Party as well as his much needed appeals for academic freedom within the American educational system.
As for myself, I don’t think that anyone can effectively argue that I have abandoned my previous ideals in order to pursue an unwarranted campaign against my former comrades in MOVE. From my view, my apostasy has brought me to a state of reclamation of my true self and true humanistic convictions that were stunted while under the authoritarian influence of the MOVE cult. For if I truly wanted to ingratiate myself to “the power structure” as some have alleged, than I would be very quiet about some of my views. But I am not. I am unapologetic about my anti-death penalty views. I have made it very clear that I believe that Philadelphia authorities were criminally wrong in their handling of the MOVE crisis in 1985 and I further believe that these same Philadelphia authorities act as enabelers of MOVE criminality.
None of these positions are going to win me any friends any time soon.
The author of the “response” to my article unwittingly makes clear the inadequacies of current “progressive” thinking. While the author himself/herself is unambiguous in their view of MOVE as bunch of “irrational buttheads” there is an objection to me stating this same view in a more articulate and forceful manner. Why is this? Since the author is an apparent fan of George Orwell than I would direct their attention to the following quote from the famously misunderstood writer:
“Whenever A and B are in opposition to one another, anyone who attacks or criticizes A is accused of aiding and abetting B. And it is often true, objectively and on a short-term analysis, that he is making things easier for B. Therefore say the supporters of A, shut up and don’t criticize: or at least criticize “constructively,” which means in practice always means favorably. And from this it is only a short step to arguing that the suppression and distortion of known facts is the highest duty of a journalist.”
There is an unwritten rule within allegedly progressive communities and it has to do with criticism of “fellow travelers”. In the case of MOVE, it is perfectly acceptable to make the point that MOVE is a pack of lunatics, just as long as this is not said to loudly or to frequently. To do so, as I have done, is to incur the wrath of the community. To do so, is to be branded an arbiter of hate who is wedded to the oh-so-evil “power structure”.
The author of the aforementioned comment considers MOVE to be my own personal “hate object”. I could not disagree more. For a long time I considered the people of MOVE to be my family. I felt genuine affinity for many in the group than and I feel genuine affinity for many in the group now. The majority of the people within the orbit of the sect are victims of the leaders of the sect and this is something that I have stated repeatedly and unapologetically. Now do I hate the child-rape that occurs within the group? Do I hate the threats of violence that MOVE uses to intimidate critics? Do I hate the fact that MOVE uses it’s children as “human shields”? Do I hate the fact that John Gilbride was murdered for the crime of wanting to be with his son? Hell yes I do, but nobody should ever confuse hatred of actions for hatred of people.
As I understand it, hatred of people has the effect of ruining one’s soul. It also can cause one to be blinded to the reality that surrounds them. MOVE is a group whose existence is based upon the cultivation and exploitation of hatred and if I am truly to reject MOVE than I must also cast aside the hatred that is cultivated in the hearts of those who are within the group.