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Raise Your Voice – Sitting Bull vs Jeff Bezos

Raise Your Voice – Sitting Bull vs Jeff Bezos

By Peter Molenaar This parcel of territory, this domain of the Alley, if you will, has imprinted upon the writer’s mind since employment at Smith Foundry began in 1979. He was also, at that time, a volunteer at the Paul Robeson Marxist Bookstore, located in  DinkyTown. A poster of the iconic Sitting Bull was prominent on the wall there. So then, I was pleasantly surprised to find Curt Brown’s MINNESOTA HISTORY article (Star Tribune, Sunday, December 12),: “Looking back on Sitting Bull’s visits”. I had no idea that Sitting Bull had toured the Twin Cities on two occasions subsequent to Custer’s last stand. He actually attended mass at the Assumption Catholic Church in Richfield! As far as the eye could see, far beyond seven generations, what spirit did the sitting bull manifest… reflection, contemplation, meditation, even serene contentment while chewing the cud? Such was the nature of his namesake. These were whirlwind tours that were punctuated with press briefings, a telephone, ballet and theater, even an aborted assassination attempt. Federal agents intended to impress. However, there were starving people on the Dakota plains. Even so, on a bitter cold day, “a beggar woman, with a worn wistful face and pleading eyes, stood in a supplicating attitude, her thin blue hands outstretched for alms.” From the proceeds of his autograph sales, Sitting Bull plucked out at least $10 of silver—worth about $280 today—and handed it to the woman… thus the opulence of tall buildings contrasted with her plight. How does Jeff Bezos compare with Sitting Bull? From Wikipedia: “Jeffrey… American entrepreneur, media proprietor, investor, computer engineer, commercial astronaut… he is the founder of Amazon… with a net worth of around $200 billion, he is the wealthiest person in the world…” Okay then, Bernie Sanders put it this [...]

Raise Your Voice

Raise Your Voice

Local World News By PETER MOLENAAR It is said that no small part of the world had its eye on our 2021 elections. As it came down, 7 of our 13 member city council are newly elected; 8 are people of color, and there are 3 who identify as “Democratic Socialists”. Congratulations Minneapolis! On the other hand there was, I think, an element of unprincipled opportunism in the mix. Question: What is the sociology of our persistent low voter turnout and, for the sake of democracy, what is the solution? Within the immediate purview of the alley community, we must uphold the election of incumbents Jamal Osman (Ward 6) and Andrea Jenkins (Ward 8).On a personal note, I am delighted over the election of Jason Chavez (Ward 9) and Robin Wonsley Worlobah (Ward 2) inasmuch as they have elevated the banner of socialism. Indeed, Worlobah managed to defeat the “wildly popular” Cam Gordon of Green Party fame. As a matter of principle and practical consideration, we suggest to Cam that he pass on any useful experiential knowledge. I believe Robin will, in some fashion, reciprocate. Similarly, our reelected Mayor Frey would do well to welcome Kate Knuth and Sheila Nezhad into his inner circle. After all, Kate and Sheila garnered many thousands of votes and represent a body of opinion deserving of respect. The winner-take-all approach will not serve the mayor well. No, not this time. “We need to resolve this gun violence crisis… that’s number one”, so said Jeremiah Ellison (Ward 5), “and that requires having an accountable public safety system”. Sadly, these two items have been posed as opposites. Early in the period of mobilization and intense discussion, in harmony with the public safety charter amendment, this column advanced the slogan: “dismantle and reconstruct”. Our proposed rehiring procedure envisioned  psychological profiling tests which, in some instances, would result in [...]

They Can’t Kill Us All

They Can’t Kill Us All

Raise Your Voice By PETER MOLENAAR Peter Molenaar This Week in Action is the weekly news digest of Take Action Minnesota, a splendid social-democratic organization which presses our concerns within and around the DFL (i.e. for the time being they do not project a fundamental socialist transformation). Nonetheless, the October 15 issue of This Week contains an article with the caption: “Late-Stage Capitalism”.  Actually, I arrived at the “late stage” conclusion 50 years ago. “The universal soldier, he really is to blame” were popular lyrics at the time. But then more than a year ago, I reported to the alley about an interaction with National Guard troops gathered at the corner grocery at 26th and Cedar Ave. Their assault weapons were not pointed at me. On the contrary, they earnestly listened. Moreover, in hand is a fundraising appeal, penned by Major General (Ret.) Paul Eaton on behalf of VoteVets. The general writes, Its not just the January 6 insurrection. It isn’t even the never-ending fealty to Donald Trump and his contemptible lies. The reason this Army veteran wants to bury the Republican Party in the next election is to restore sanity and hope to my country. The alternative is just too horrifying—for  women, minorities, the climate…That is why we must commit to vanquishing Trumpism and its toxic embrace…We Stand for democracy… hammer the treasonous agenda and utter hypocrisy of Trumpist Republicans… Remember how, not so long ago, it was Mitch who promised to obstruct anything Obama. Then a tad later, it was Little-Boy-Man who gleefully invoked: what ever happened to the “American dream”? “Nice work Obama!” And now… Let us repeat the chant over and over;: TAX THE RICH, BUILD BACK BETTER—THOSE TWO THINGS GO TOGETHER! Gosh, a measly $3.5 trillion spent over ten years (in order to save our country) might [...]

The Forest Through the Trees

Raise Your Voice  By PETER MOLENAAR  Folks from this part of the world are familiar with the “signers” who regularly occupy every niche at the intersection of Franklin and Cedar avenues. For some, it is a desperate way to “make ends meet”, while others panhandle for their next “fix” of heroin. Normally, I avoid eye contact. Hey, the new land lord raised my rent by over $300.00. Social Security, plus a union pension and one “odd job” barely covers expenses. So, I grow and sell vegetables in the summer months.  One day”¦  From his post at the intersection, a young mixed blood man beckoned. I recognized him from the community garden”™s homeless camp. Window down, I elaborated my refusal to support the heroin trade. Then, while rubbing the site of his war wound, he explained that he was in constant pain and hoped to be admitted to a methadone program. This soldier reminded me of the guardsmen who had been deployed to protect the grocery at 26th Street”¦ so polite and respectful. He accepted a squash from the back of my truck.  Back to the Peace Garden”¦  A hefty “two spirit” person was absconding with the fruits of my labor. I won the battle of words. She won the fruit. “Workers and Oppressed People Unite” sometimes ain”™t easy. However, the main threat to our collective existence comes from “above”, not from “below”.  Fascism, an inherent tendency within the capitalist system, has emerged now as a visible trend. It is a movement which fosters a union of all social classes (including a section of the working-class) with the most greedy, racist, and imperialistic section of the capitalists. As such, fascism constitutes a reactionary right-wing “popular-front”. Naturally, the left must respond with its own popular-front, i.e., the campaign of Joe Biden and Kamala [...]

Beyond the 4th of July

Raise Your Voice By Peter Molenaar The 15th of every month is “alley time” for those who submit articles, yet the fire crackers persist late into the night”¦ disturbing little children and disrupting the sleep of workers. “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?”  is the title now given to a speech by Frederick Douglass, delivered July 5th, 1852. Has the image of Frederick Douglass been embedded in every mind? Wielding the stature of a George Floyd, Douglass”™ Native-American facial bone structure shown prominently through his African-American complexion. Having escaped the illiteracy of an enslaved childhood, he rose to become an eloquent orator and esteemed author of the day. Naturally, Wendell Phillips, our neighborhood namesake, was a friend of his. Sample some of Frederick”™s words: Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us?”¦ What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days of the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim”¦ You profess to believe that, of one blood, God made all nations”¦ and hath commanded all men everywhere to love one another, yet you notoriously hate (and glory in your hatred) all men whose skins are not colored like your own. In extreme opposition to Douglass, was a confederate general named Henry Lewis Benning, evidently history”™s most fanatical proponent of the lash. Fort Benning is named for this guy. In addition, nine more U.S.A. military installations are named for leaders of white-supremacy. Enter the New World, please”¦ In response to the recent international outrage, our military leaders have proposed to delete all such designations. Incredibly, in order to satisfy his base [...]

Raise Your Voice: A worker”'s proud moment

Raise Your Voice: A worker”'s proud moment

By PETER MOLENAAR Peter Molenaar Circulating within the ranks of organized labor is a sign-on statement with the caption: “Union Members Stand United with Rep. Ilhan Omar.” It reads: “Rep. Ilhan Omar is a fighter for working people who upholds her time as a union member with pride and continues to stand with unions, with working people, and with all who are oppressed. “Just a couple months into her first term as one of the first two Muslim women ever elected to Congress, Rep. Omar faces unprecedented attacks. Her statements and intentions are being purposely twisted in cynical and disingenuous ways to try to discredit and isolate her. “As union members we understand the importance of solidarity when our union siblings are under attack. The biggest enemies of working people and unions, like Donald Trump and his followers ”“ who themselves are guilty of enabling violent antisemitism and white supremacy ”“ are stoking the attack on Rep. Ilhan Omar. “We unequivocally stand with Ilhan Omar against the Islamophobic smears being leveled at her for her outspoken views. “We denounce the despicable efforts of Republicans to label her a terrorist or connect her to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. “We call on our fellow union members, on our unions, and on elected officials to stand with Ilhan against Republican efforts to pit Jews and Muslims against each other.” Several hundred names down the list is found the identification: shop committee/steward (now retired) Teamsters Local 970. 35 years within the bowels of Smith Foundry, near Cedar Ave. on 28th St., are now more meaningful than a million iron castings. My name appears among the “siblings,” the union brothers and sisters who have Ilhan Omar”'s back.

Raise Your Voice: Contradictions within the popular front

Raise Your Voice: Contradictions within the popular front

By PETER MOLENAAR Peter Molenaar Readers will recall that, owing to internal contradictions, everything exists in motion, both coming and going; changing under the influence of external factors. Our “popular front” form of resistance is no exception to the rule. Yes, indeed: “the lesser of two evils sometimes rises to the level of a necessity.” But, given the opposing camps within the Democratic Party, we must reckon with certain consequences of our actions. Positively speaking, though, we of the fifth district should feel very proud for having elected Ilhan Omar to the U.S. Congress. Already, Ilhan has achieved a degree of planetary fame, for having slapped the face of the Sons of Confederate Veterans (and all Trump supporters) who are hell-bent to destroy our country by dividing us. And now, from within the Progressive Caucus, Ilhan has joined hands with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in support of a Green New Deal. Should we all join hands to preserve our planet for future generations? However, as a member of the Minneapolis Regional Retirees Council under AFL-CIO direction, my own electoral activity was focused on supporting Dean Phillips in the 3rd district. From the standpoint of the Popular Front, my energy was well invested (Erik Paulsen, the Republican, had supported the $trillion-plus tax break for the billionaire bunch). But, Mother Earth has her own perspective on the man I helped to elect. Actually, Dean Phillips is a straight-up bourgeois type who finds Trump to be an embarrassment to his social class ”“ okay, well and good. However, he has joined the “business friendly” caucus of the Democratic Party and he stands opposed to a Green New Deal. Why? Because he opposes mandates! Meaning: He will support a degree of market tinkering to entice private capital investment, but he will oppose a massive federal investment in public renewable energy utilities. Hey, Xcel Energy only recently converted to [...]

Raise Your Voice – Melting pot of time

Raise Your Voice – Melting pot of time

By PETER MOLENAAR For almost two decades, “Raise Your Voice” has paid tribute to the melting pot of peoples which has formed the Phillips Community. Presently, the members of the Franklin Avenue tent encampment would appreciate your prayers. We are witness to an oppressed population which has bonded together in order to cling to life. A note: In honor of Eugene V. Debs, leader of the original Socialist Party of this land, my grandparents invoked Eugene as my father”'s middle name. Ancestral ties”¦. (more…)

State Fair Angst

By Peter Molenaar “Angst” is a German word which has achieved vernacular status in the contemporary English.  It means:  anxiety with a little depression thrown in.  For our purposes, the word connotes an omnipresent but less than full-blown anxiety, which normally remains repressed by the requirements of daily living. To the discerning eye, an under-current of angst was revealed among the gathered “masses” at this year”'s State Fair.  We are the masses.  Unfortunately, our angst has become a playground for dishonest politicians. So, the annual reaffirmation of Minnesotan identity has passed.  The cow barn displayed again the Jersey Cow with beautiful eyes and baby face.  The sheep were proudly groomed, snow-white and alert.  Even the hogs were giddy. (more…)

Pull Together

By Peter Molenaar Given the unprecedented economic, political and military power of the U.S. ruling class, it may seem like a pipedream to believe that we “ordinary” folks can advance socially even by small increments. But when the foundations of this colossal power are examined, definite weaknesses are revealed. First, the system of corporate-capitalism is malfunctioning big time. Witness: the Wall Street meltdown, massive unemployment, stagnant wages, fruitless wars, and the developing life-threatening environmental crisis. Second, only 1% of the population now owns over half of all stocks and bonds and the richest 5% holds 60% of all our country”'s wealth. In reality, there are a few thousand families with hundreds of billions in assets who control the main financial, manufacturing, extraction, media, communications, transport, aerospace and real estate corporations. Clearly, the wealth behind the power is concentrated in the hands of an extremely tiny group. (more…)

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