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Posts Tagged ‘Peter Molenaar’

Re: Letter to the Editor

Re: Letter to the Editor

Here is the promised “rebuttal” to Sam Harrison’s June letter which sought to discredit my May article entitled Peace Be With You. This May offering revealed a local connection to the war between Russia and Ukraine ($billions spent on war, even as climate change begs solutions and has induced starvation in East Africa).  Frankly, Mr. Harrison’s dismissive tone is difficult to grapple with. He describes himself as “someone with a long academic background”, whereas, “Mr. Molenaar repeats a number of Russian talking points…all of which are refutable.” Rather wish he had troubled to refute one… am glad he is not a peace negotiator! Note: Although I placed primary blame on U.S. imperialism, I also stated: “Putin went way out of bounds to reveal his own imperial vision.” Mr. Harrison, you have asserted that my reference to fascistic gangs in Ukraine was somehow overblown when, not so long ago, similar not so sizable gangs set fire to our own city! Is it not now ironic that the likes of Henry Kissinger has called upon Ukraine to cede territory in the name of peace? The Crimean people have voted overwhelmingly to rejoin Russia. Right or wrong? The people of the Donbas are entitled to a U.N. supervised referendum on the question of their independence. Don’t you agree? Peter Molenaar Note: Peter Molenaar is a regular opinion columnist for the alley.

Raise Your Voice: Reporting Back In

Raise Your Voice: Reporting Back In

By PETER MOLENAAR June 14… A co-activist with the Minneapolis Regional Retirees Council knew the bus route. We traveled a good length of Bloomington Avenue before ultimately arriving at 4th and Hennepin for a demonstration at Xcel energy headquarters. MN350 and Sierra Club had combined to produce a splendid multi-racial/multiple-nationality gathering. Xcel was denounced in English and Spanish for being a private utility, guilty of “extraction from nature and the public.” Quiz question: When “power to the people” is truly realized, what industry is first on the list to be socialized? In hand that day was an article printout from the PEOPLE’S WORLD with the caption: “Trumpite Postmaster DeJoy sued over huge gas guzzler buy.” The USPS desperately needs to refurbish one of the largest vehicle fleets in the world. However, if DeJoy is allowed to have his way, these will not be modern electric trucks produced in a union shop in Wisconsin. No, they will be gas and diesel vehicles produced in a nonunion shop in South Carolina. Several key activists are now familiar with this article. So, we shall see. From the Clean Transportation website of MN350: “Air pollution caused by vehicles is the United States’ biggest single contributor to global warming. It’s responsible for up to an estimated 4,000 annual deaths in the Twin Cities alone, and disproportionately affects the young, old, low-income, and communities of color.” Sound familiar? Our East Phillips Urban Farm Community Coalition grasps the core truth of the matter. Dear neighbors, the proposition that the concentration of pollution in low-income communities is cost effective is false. Period. Truthfully, our city’s public works fleet would operate with greater efficiency if deployed from three sites: 1) the empty acreage north of the MSP airport, 2) a warehouse in Northeast MPLS, 3) ditto for the Northside. [...]

Right to Life

Right to Life

Raise Your Voice By Peter Molenaar In the space of this paper, many years ago, a “marine sergeant” opposed me with the declaration: “I will fight to the death in defense of the U.S. constitution.” My goodness… Given all the varied and contentious interpretations, should we commend the man for his commitment? Would he consider the words of John Locke, the philosopher precursor to the founding fathers? Locke spoke of the right to make revolution, i.e., the right of a revolutionary people to write their own constitution as needed.  A side note: “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of property” became “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" as per Thomas Jefferson. But hey, Locke said “pursuit of property” as long as it is earned, whereas, most property in the modern U.S.A. is unearned! Now, regarding Roe v Wade, we must consider the establishment clause of the First Amendment… It was Jefferson who declared: “when the American people adopted the ‘establishment clause’ they built a wall of separation between church and state.” As no reference to a specific church was made, logic dictates: “to be constitutional, a statute must have a secular legislative purpose, it must have principle effects that neither advance nor inhibit religion, and it must not fodder an excessive government entanglement with religion.” In other words, “separation of church and state” means: ’separation of religion and state’. Do you believe a soul is imparted at the moment of conception? Well then, spread the good word… that’s freedom of religion. However, in the United States of America, you can not impose your religious belief via the state apparatus. Well then, what about the “right to life”? Hey, what in religious terms is the definition of life… hmm? Okay then, what is the definition of life in terms of biological science? The scientific definition of life [...]

Letter to the Editor

Letter to the Editor

I am writing in response to Peter Molenaar's May op-ed, "Peace Be With You." In this piece, Mr. Molenaar repeats a number of Russian talking points about Ukraine, all of which are refutable by listening to Ukrainian both here at home in Minneapolis or on the ground in Ukraine. But more importantly, as someone with a long academic background studying fascism and the far right, I want to speak to his accusations of Ukrainian "fascistic gangs." Put simply: to believe that, prior to February 24th, there were roving bands of fascists roaming the streets of Kharkiv or Mariupol is false. Fascist groups in Ukraine were and are tiny. They had no meaningful representation in the parliament, nor did the Azov Battalion--about which so much has been said--ever grow beyond about 1000 members. Putin's brutal leveling of their home city of Mariupol has likely killed most of them. Good riddance, but let us also keep their size in perspective. Russian (and Soviet) uses of the word 'fascist' are grounded in their World War II experience. After World War II, the word came to mean "anyone who is opposed to the USSR (or East Germany, etc.)."  In this use, it means that the United States, Britain, and France, who supplied so much of the weapons and supplies that kept the USSR from collapsing in the German onslaught, were referred to as "fascists" themselves once the war was over. How could this be? Put simply: it was a rhetorical trick and nothing more. As someone who considers themselves an antifascist, it is and always will be my duty to stand up against fascism wherever it is. At the same time, I have far too many Ukrainian friends from my time living in Central Europe who now find themselves fighting against Putin's unprovoked and plainly genocidal war. They are fighting to preserve their freedom from Putin's authoritarian system. Sincerely yours, sam harrison Powderhorn Park Note: Peter Molenaar, our regular columnist, has promised a rebuttal to Sam [...]

Peace Be With You

Peace Be With You

By PETER MOLENAAR Should you notice an anguished look in the eyes of our Somali neighbors, bear in mind that some 350,000 Somali-African children are presently at severe risk of starvation due to climate-change-induced-drought. Actually, in that part of the world, several million cling to life in a state of malnourishment. We might then agree that the perpetrators of global warming are guilty of mass murder of unprecedented scale. Moreover, I suggest the ominous trajectory will intensify, lest we put an end to war… and an end to the imperial capitalism which perpetuates war. Let us consider that one root of the Ukrainian crisis stems from the Wolfowitz Doctrine, the essence of which (in Kissinger’s words) intends to “break Russia''. Then, enter Victoria Nuland, Obama’s “point person” in the 2014 Washington engineered coup which toppled Ukraine’s elected government. (Regarding the mobilization of “ultra-nationalist” thugs, nobody should doubt the role of the C.I.A.) Nuland now serves Biden who has used this crisis to deflect from his Tax the Rich/Build Back Better failure. What should have been done? Bear in mind that “our'' Ukraine has denied self-determination to the peoples of the Donbas (southeastern Ukraine). The sad truth: Ukrainian militias have killed some 13,000 Russian speaking people there since 2014. Therefore, Biden should have warned Putin: hey, halt your forces at the western border of the Donbas… halt your forces there, lest the world fail to bear witness to your cause. Putin’s case: 1) Ukraine must disarm its fascistic gangs and private militias 2) Independence for the Donbas region must be upheld 3) Recognize the democratic decision of Crimea to rejoin Russia 4) Proclaim Ukrainian neutrality 5) Say no to NATO. Tragically, Biden failed to act appropriately in a timely fashion, and Putin went way out of bounds to reveal his own imperial vision. Indeed, it appears now that “we” have deployed the “Afghan [...]

Let’s get smart

Let’s get smart

Raise Your Voice By Peter Molenaar As it happened, I was assigned to do strike support work for the Anne Sullivan unit of the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers strike. ON STRIKE FOR LIVING WAGES, ON STRIKE FOR MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORTS, ON STRIKE FOR SAFE STABLE SCHOOLS… I would hold up these picket signs on behalf of those needing a break. 33rd and Lake Street was the site. The Sonora Grill was our sanctuary. Passing motorists registered their honks in support. From the standpoint of justice, our teachers are defending our schools from the threat of corporatization. Moreover, they demand adequate funding and respectful remuneration for mental health staffers. Why? Hey, our kids have been traumatized by a pandemic in combination with stark images of police brutality. Looking beyond… Harmoniously, it is the unionized sector of the nursing trades which advances MEDICARE FOR ALL. This program would eliminate the labor redundancies inherent in the regime of private insurance. What then? Labor power would be rationally redeployed to the arena of early childhood education. The resulting uplift of historically oppressed peoples would actually uplift the whole of our nation. And deeper… Commendable social democratic activists among us regularly advocate for the cancelation of student debt. Indeed, the burden of student debt is a major source of inequality. However, with reference to higher education, I propose that every student receive free room and board plus a stipend as long as passing grades are maintained, on top of which: there should be vocational training in the summer months to establish a fallback position. University students should be paid to go to school. Such was the program initiated long ago in the Soviet Union. I kid you not. Towards life-long learning… While conversing with our striking educators here, I admitted to having been somewhat “slow” in school, but nonetheless had committed myself to life-long learning. [...]

Raise Your Voice

Raise Your Voice

Silica Dust & Molten Iron By Peter Molenaar Upon retiring from Smith Foundry, this writer undertook distribution of the Alley to the various agencies and businesses of the Phillips Community and surrounding neighborhoods. In the realm of said distribution, a sometimes annoying competition for space exists with our friends from Southside Pride.  However, of greater concern is Tony Bouza’s column in the February issue of that paper, How to get rich. “Capitalism is very cruel,” writes Bouza, “its only saving grace is that it accords with human nature… My reaction to such cruelty? Bravo!... Altruism doesn’t work … is this so complex?”  “Look around you, for God’s sake. I didn’t invent it and I much rather socialism worked.” He appears even to slight Jesus for manifesting communistic proclivities! And then, “Stop kidding yourself… if you are so smart, why aren’t you rich?” Is the man being facetious? Golly, in my case I worked long arduous overtime hours for many years to barely cover a mortgage payment. Truthfully, most of us lack the funds and the necessary time needed to invest wisely in stock purchases. You will allow me then to push back philosophically on behalf of us “masses". Actually, the belief that only capitalism works in accordance with “human nature” is flawed in several ways: 1) It is an ahistorical assumption. 2) its metaphysical (i.e. it fails to see the big picture). 3) It reflects a narrow empiricism. 4) It fails to take the long view. A historical assumption? In fact, for the greater part of human existence (the hunter-gatherer phase) a matriarchal order prevailed in the village. Said order was a reflection of maternalistic altruism. Hey, if a man killed a buffalo, he fully intended to share it. Metaphysical? Success or failure occurs within a context. The first socialist county sacrificed 26 million people and a [...]

Raise Your Voice:

Raise Your Voice:

Headstone Markers By PETER MOLENAAR Note: the stone for my own “resting place" has been chosen, hopefully ahead of time. December 30, 2021… Readers of the alley know Sue Hunter Weir is this neighborhood’s “master of cemetery.” It was at the American Swedish Institute’s open house that we chatted while tabling for the paper. She was stunned to learn from me that Lynne Mayo had passed away in September of 2020. I had only just recently come to know this myself… no thanks to COVID. It was via the 17th Avenue Community Garden that Lynne had become a “significant friend” some 20+ years ago. As life went on, geography and our common activism created occasional encounters, the last one taking place at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, a venue that day for a global warming protest. Why had she turned her head away? I realize now that a cancer was developing. Hey, I am grateful for the imperfections within persons whose lives have been so much larger than my own. Consider the life of Clyde Bellecourt. It was 30+ years ago that a misunderstanding occurred between the two of us. Then, a little more than a decade ago, I would balk before entering a discussion circle at the American Indian Center. Clyde was presiding, but he beckoned me to enter. It was always a cordial recognition between us after that.  Final encounters… The COVID cloud had thickened. Clyde had written an article for the alley which upheld our Urban Farm proposal. Ten copies were to be delivered to his house. His prolonged reticence at the door made an impression, after which he received the paper every month without my knocking. In the end, it was the cancer, not COVID, which “brought him home.” Missing from the nomenclature of phobias is a word designating fear of getting dressed up to enter a place of worship. Yet, that barrier was to be overcome in [...]

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 [...]

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