Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Perils Of Writing Against MOVE/Censorship At Portland IMC

(Craig Rosebraugh who will be speaking along with Ramona Africa 5/14)

I remain anchored to the belief that in life we make progress by conflict, disputation, and argument. And while driving an idea forward, one that may be especially loathed in certain quarters, can be an ugly affair, it is still a necessity.

As an extension of my aforementioned belief, I posted what I viewed as a rather tame article at the Portland Independent Media Center concerning an upcoming fund-raiser for “The MOVE 9", where Ramona Africa is scheduled to speak along with former Earth Liberation Front spokesperson, Craig Rosebraugh. The focus of my article was not a call for silencing Ramona, stopping the event, or even to disrupt the event, rather it was a call for people to ask the questions that “progressives” ought to have concerns about with regards to MOVE.

Aside from the obvious fascistic qualities of MOVE, there is the clear-cut authoritarian nature of a sect whose values are neither “revolutionary” or “progressive”, but utterly reactionary in every sense of the word.

My article essentially re-stated MOVE’s positions on homosexuality, women’s rights, the treatment of children, their faux envioronmentalism, and than I asked people to juxtapose MOVE’s stance on such issues with the speech to be given by Ramona Africa and than to query MOVE’s “Minister of Communication” about these issues. My post was not an incitement to violence, nor was it a personal attack, or a call for censorship even. It was a call for people to ask questions.

The response brought by the post is hardly surprising and an indicator that there is still plenty of work to be done as far as educating people about MOVE. Yet the difficulties of doing so are shown in the absolute refusal of anyone supportive of MOVE to debate or discuss the issue.

What happened was that my post was put into a “compost bin”, essentially a storage place for articles that the members of the Portland IMC don’t want their readers to see. How ironic it is that people who would likely pride themselves on fighting for the right for convicted murderers to speak are the same people who will censor someone for advocating the asking of questions.

After seeing my post removed after being online for just a few hours, I made the obligatory complaint I have made before at other IMC websites where my writings have been similarly removed from view and received an unusually rare response actually a response from two different people, which did create something of a dialogue, albeit brief. Both responses help to further make my point that when the issue of MOVE is raised in certain political circles, the critical and ironic faculties are abandoned at the alter of political correctness to a cult of martyrdom.

The first to respond to my complaint had not even read my article and therefore speculated as to why she believed my post had been removed. It was the kind of response that I have seen and answered numerous times before, having been around the block with this kind of thing more than a few times. The Portland IMC volunteer wrote that:

“I believe that volunteers would be especially diligent about removing posts that appear to be incorrect, misleading, or disinformation concerning a group that is already under attack by the state. I know that I would. Since the police state has literally executed members of MOVE, and is still trying to execute another, I do not believe there would be a lot of tolerance among volunteers for any effort to further smear members of MOVE without some serious, serious evidence to back up such allegations. I can only speak for myself, and not for other IMC volunteers, but this is certainly how I feel about it.”

The above paragraph is indicative of what I have heard and seen before from those who would stifle debate concerning MOVE. What is especially troubling to me is the idea that a group perceived to be “oppressed” be allowed to exist on a level that transcends criticism. I find this particularly troubling as MOVE is not only a religious cult, but a political cult of sorts as well. I do not believe anybody be above reproach and that to place any group or individual on a pedestal above the critical eye is a dangerous concept.

The misinformed Portland IMC member also parrots the idea that MOVE is “under attack” by the state. No proof is offered as if none is needed. This is exactly the problem of the cessation of thought in the face of propaganda by an allegedly aggrieved minority. What the group claims must, because of it’s status be accepted at face value, lest you come to the point of daring to be critical and thereby aiding the “enemy”, which in this case is the state.

Worth exploring is the idea of MOVE as a perpetually under “attack”. As someone who spent as much time with MOVE as I did, I find the idea of the group being under “attack” to be beyond absurd. A group under “attack” would not be able to flaunt it’s blatant disregard for the laws of the state in so many obvious ways, the most obvious being the group’s treatment of children. Certainly, Ramona Africa would not be free to travel as she does around the world spreading MOVE’s message of hatred and MOVE members in jail would be split apart and they would be disallowed the opportunity to play the active role that they do in the group, including the recruitment of new adherents. These are but a couple of examples, as if anything, the “state” has an unspoken, but nevertheless obvious plan to ignore MOVE as much as possible. Both confrontations with MOVE were precipitated by protracted, illegal acts by the group until the “state” in the form of the City government were forced to act by judicial decree. The blathering about MOVE members being “literally” executed is complete rubbish as the deaths of May 13th can be boiled down to adults killing the children in their “care” and then themselves. As for Mumia, he is not a MOVE member and the “state” is following the wishes of the jury, ergo the “people” who ordered Jamal be put to death.

I have been told to always “look to the language” when reading what people write. The IMC volunteer says much when she asserts their would not be “tolerance” for someone “smear(ing)” MOVE members without “serious” evidence. Keep in mind, this person had not even read what I wrote and the assumption was already present in her mind, which was obviously already made up without seeing a word of what I had written. As my attorney once told me, “the truth is an absolute defense”. And that is why I have been able to devote hundreds of posts to debunking MOVE’s myths without them challenging my claims or hauling me into court for libel. As to the “evidence” of my allegations, my post was taken down without anyone asking me to cite references and sources of evidence, which obviously makes the point that the issue of “evidence” is irrelevant and the real issue is content. I also had pointed out in my banned post that my information came from years with MOVE. My request in the article was that that people challenge Ramona on the issues I raised would seem to lend itself to credibility, but again I don’t think that was the issue either. I argue that if my article was transparently false than it would have probably left up on the site and used for propaganda purposes.

In another email from the same person is an emotional appeal for my silence as I have my own website dedicated to this “smear” campaign and as fuel for the white guilt trip I am supposed to be on, was the reminder, as if I of all people needed it, that “they (MOVE) were, after all, firebombed....”. This again reflects the sentiment of perceived victimization as a supposed defense. This small minded thinking I find actually helping to preserve the status quo of the true victims with regards to MOVE, and that is the children. If everyone followed the non-logic of this IMC volunteer than the repressive situation that the children of MOVE members live in, could continue, un-challenged, un-changed, to become an attack on the intellect that transports itself from one generation to the next.

Yet, I did see some changes with MOVE and they came about as a direct result of the criticism the group faced during the cult’s war on John Gilbride. Because of John’s persistence, his son will have a chance at an education, was able to be socialized, and has more of a chance than the other children to see his way to freedom.

Moreover, I don’t believe that speaking the truth needs any justification. The facts of a situation such as this need to be disseminated for their own sake and do not need the acceptance of self-appointed censors to be validated. But, I did offer to the Portland IMC to share the sources of my information and the response was “I really don't have time to interact anymore on this”.

Than today, the person responsible for the censorship wrote me and in a fine display of someone granted a tiny amount of power and going mad over it insinuated I was a “cop or a snitch/infiltrator or a PR firm or or a Private Investigator or some such other "might-as-well-be"). And than proceeded to accuse me of making “phony claims of credibility...empty allegations...wild exaggerations of contradictions”. These are generic allegations made by someone who knows nothing of me and probably less about MOVE. He did not cite one thing that I wrote that was wrong, not one thing that I wrote that was a lie and carries out the character assassination that he claims I did. The difference of course, is that I cited precise facts concerning MOVE that were not born of assumptions or prejudice, but built upon a foundation of over a decade of studying the group and for a time living with Ramona Africa herself.

The ad-hominem attack is a rhetorical device, that in this instance is being used to justify censorship by a representative of a media center that audaciously claims to be “Independent media”, but shows itself to be neither. If these are the kind of people who are running the show, and in my experience, for the most part this is the case, than I am dubious as to the future of an endeavor that I still believe is worthwhile.

A media source that is neither corporate or beholden to any particular group is inherently valuable. But when it is hijacked by ideologues who use it to squash debate and discussion simply because they can, the whole concept is compromised and that is something that I find lamentable.

Another aspect of this whole Portland IMC affair was the harshness of the vitriolic directed at me. Anytime you place yourself and your views into the marketplace of ideas, you open yourself to ridicule, but when writing about MOVE you are made a target of the most salacious of personal attacks imagined. In my years of doing this, there isn’t much that hasn’t been said about me and of course they never get around to challenging my grasp of the fact s, it is all about my supposed motivations and name calling. The point is obviously to get me to stop what I am doing and while I could possibly say that “I will stop telling the truth about MOVE when they and their supporters stop lying about me”, I am morally obliged to continue to speak out, and not for myself, because I am free of MOVE. I continue to speak out for those who cannot, in particular the children in MOVE, who are deprived of any semblance of freedom of thought, of life, of any semblance of choice. And also on behalf of my posthumous friend, John Gilbride. His un-avenged spirit rests heavily on my mind as I hope that some of his amazing physical and emotional courage will serve as an example for me to follow.

Indeed, it is probably fitting than that what was once said about John is similar to what is being said about me. John was called a “cop” like I am, he was supposedly on the payroll of the government and the same is said about me now. On the comment portion of my site an enraged and possibly unbalanced individual wrote that I am “nothing but a stupid PIG narc, (my) picture has been posted online so everyone knows what a dirty PIG” I am. The same writer let it be known what should be done with people like me when they wrote that “all pigs should die”. It is a similar sentiment expressed by Mumia during his Black Panther days when he wrote “lets write epitaphs for pigs”.

The most foul comments however, seem to be taken from MOVE’s own play book as a commentary at the Portland IMC site goes off the rails and deserve to be quoted at length if only to again make it clear to some of my new readers the kind of personal attacks people who speak out against MOVE do endure. This was a response to my article prior to it being censored.

“While on some sites he claims to have been an activist at some point to give himself some sort of street cred, I highly doubt this. Reminds me far too much of COINTELPRO tactics. Like all the letters and articles written by white FBI agents claiming to be concerned black activists pointing out personal hypocrisies(like infidelity) in order to create an illusion of criticism of Martin Luther King Jr. This guy is just waaay too pro cop to be authentic. Also the incredible amount of time he spends trolling and updating multiple websites about alleged cop killers suggests he's on the payroll of somebody. Perhaps a personal hire or fuck-buddy of Maureen Faulkner(widow of Daniel Faulkner)? He seems to have a great interest in protecting her public image. Who knows. But this guy is way sketchy at best.”

The first couple of sentences are actually funny to me as not even MOVE has claimed that I wasn’t an “activist”. I was involved with politics and activism before MOVE and still am, the difference now is that I have a very clear view of the scary and evil nature of authoritarian cults like MOVE. I came to MOVE as a teenager, certainly not a cop, did not leave as a cop, and am certainly not a cop now. I didn’t MOVE out, they sold me out and everyone else who they deceived into believing that they are a group committed to “preserving life”, when in reality the cult’s members hands are soaked in blood.. The claim of my being “waay” too cop is certainly pushing the threshold of reality as my criticisms of the Police’s handling of MOVE is hardly a secret. There are certainly a good portion of cops who will never accept anything I do as being genuine or good because of my time with MOVE.

Also, my anti-death penalty stance doesn’t sit well with many in law enforcement, but even if I was a covert cop, the author of the comment who did all of this research about me failed to point out one thing wrong with my post or any of my other writings. And than there is the “on-the-take” libel. If I am to be getting a check for this work, somebody is several years behind. The money isn’t in doing what I do. But there is still plenty of money to be made off of Mumia as books, clothes, and documentaries about the murderer are still making a brisk profit off of the ill-informed, the pro-cop killer crowd, and the New Black Panther Party types.. And what kind of attack would it be if I wasn’t obliquely dumped on being a racist. As far as I am concerned, the racists are the ones who make apologies and ignore the fact that black children are being used as breeding machines for a cult whose leadership is comprised of whites and a black woman who used the best money science could buy to obtain herself a white child.

I see these near hysterical attacks on me as proof positive that I am making progress. I certainly remember the frustration I felt as a Mumia/MOVE supporter when confronted with someone who knew the facts and I couldn’t bullshit my way through them. It always descended into personal attacks, to the point where we were actually embarrassed by the spectacle of being bested on message boards by people who were picking thru our propaganda. We even had meetings on how to combat it, but eventually we had to shut down the whole message board on the old MOVE website.

Now, I have a clear conscience and don’t need to make things up about MOVE members or anyone else to make my point. I prefer to let them make my points for me, just as those people who left comments after going all over cyberspace to find out what message boards I supposedly post on, but couldn’t make any kind of argument against what I wrote. This is a very telling sign of the fragility of the myths they cling to and will attack for, but can do nothing substantive to defend the lies they have been told and now seek to tell others. So, I have to thank the Portland IMC for showing their true censorious colors and for making it clear that the best they have with regards to MOVE is a display of shameless vulgarity, ignorance, and a fascistic tendency of attempting to silence those who disagree with them.


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