Organizing around September 11, 2001
colist-admin at comm-org.utoledo.edu
colist-admin at comm-org.utoledo.edu
Sat Sep 15 17:45:38 CDT 2001
[ed: I am including here messages from a number of people
responding to my request for guidance on how to handle
September 11 messages. I would also like to post the many
other responses I received to the Announcement list, which
seemed to be the option that most met the advice of everyone.
Since some of your replies may have been meant for me
alone, please let me know if I should not post your message.
Below are messages with organizing thoughts from John,
Joew, Larry, and RTemple.]
From: "John M. Beam" <beam at fordham.edu>
I'm in favor of trying to discuss the organizing, broadly construed. I'm
interested in how we even begin to carve out the space to begin having a
public discussion that can position these killings in a broader context...a
chain of violence at least some of the links of which we pay for with our
taxes and condone by our failure to stand up to a foreign policy built on
racism and pandering. Beyond the human tragedy of Tuesday's madness is
the gut wrenching frustration that no national figure has had a single new
thing to say. It's a surreal world on the day that Rudolph Giuliani comes
off as the measured, reasoned voice of tolerance. I'm also interested in
being able to analyze and, if need be, denounce the bigotry and racism that
is often embodied in actions like Tuesday's without being thought of as un-PC.
Sorry for the rant. (I live in NYC so please cut me some slack this
week.) That's my vote.
From: "joe catania" <jccjlw at msn.com>
I could not agree more with Randy's position on how to use
this list serv. Let's concentrate on how we use our talents,
commitment and resources to identifying and organizing
around the issues that affect people in the communities where
we are and the connection to our brothers and sisters around
the world. What about a series of teach-ins similar to the labor
teach-ins that occurred in the mid 90's, but today they could
include topics like U.S. foreign policy, popular participation in
foreign policy decisions etc.
From: Larry Yates <lyates at chej.org>
I think our moderator is on the right track. I am already
subjected to a flood of general e-mail comments on 9/11 --
(and have added my own 2 cents to the torrent, for that
matter.) These range widely from the banal to the offensive to
the profound, and I don't think any of us have any shortage of
each of these. I don't need comm-org to join in that possibly
necessary but very unfocussed Internet process.
On a different note, I know of 2 e-mail lists that have
temporarily (they hope) shut down under the burden of bitter
disagreement about what is appropriate to post at this time.
So I think it is good for the sake of this valuable list to have a
focus that we can roughly agree on.
One organizing-related observation that I would make is that
an event like this does simply stop a lot of local organizing.
I'm not saying it shouldn't -- but if the U.S. in fact going onto
some kind of war footing, widely shared dramatic media
events will be a recurring reality. I have seen a report that the
folks in Vieques have called a moratorium on protests of the
Navy presence there, and I have personally observed that a
local community e-mail list which buzzed with local strategy
and tactical discussions is now solely focussed on events
hundreds of miles away and not related to their organizing
It would be interesting to hear how folks dealt with this in the
past -- for example, labor organizers during World War II, or
community organizers during the Indochina war or Watergate.
I agree we need to discuss how we organize against jingoism
and anti-Arab racism, and how to connect to and build on the
positive aspects of the spontaneous response to this terrible
crime. But I think we also need to think about how we
organize -- on any issue -- in a war-like or war situation.
-- Larry Yates Organizer Center for Health, Environment &
Justice P.O. Box 6806 Falls Church, VA 22040 (703) 237-
2249 ext 20 lyates at chej.org http://www.chej.org
From: RTemple297 at aol.com
What would be the possibility of developing a set of materials
that could be widely distributed and used for the purpose of
organizing/facilitating community based discussions regarding
Clearly people have strongly held opinions. In the absence of
a positive forum to express and work through them, we are
likely to see an increase in destructive responses.
I am sure that public officials could be easily recruited to
participate in some of these discussions. The initial ones
could be high profile enought to serve as a model for others to
continue in their own communities.
Given that people seem to want to "do something." Maybe
community based organizations could set up a "Volunteer
Fair" at each of the sites, to give people options for getting
involved in positive efforts in their community.
In the end, this pain can only be healed through contribution.
Why not find ways to give them the opportunity?
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