Letters for November 8, 2018
About that vigil
Re “Shared sadness” (Newslines, by Evan Tuchinsky, Nov. 1):
Where are Chico’s progressives? Over the past two years of the Trumpitization of America, there have been many street rallies in Chico—protesting the current government’s immigration policies, police shooting deaths of African-Americans, we have marched for women’s rights, Palestinian rights, we have marched for peace and justice.
During all of these rallies, I see the same faces again and again. Some I have become friends with, some I just recognize as fellow progressives from so many political events. But, when 11 Jewish Americans were murdered in Pittsburgh, and there was a vigil/memorial service last Sunday (Oct. 28), about 70 people gathered at Temple Beth Israel and where were all my familiar faces?
With just a few exceptions, the Temple was not packed with the hundreds, sometimes thousands, I have marched with in the past. In fact, they weren’t there at all. I’ll let you figure it out.
On seeing a photo of David Halimi, I think: Hey, that’s the landlord who owns a chunk of downtown Chico, supports homeless criminalization—most recently, as a public champion of sit/lie—and, as quoted in our local daily, blames the indigent for the closing of Peet’s Coffee, a claim denied by longtime employees.
When I read the accompanying article on local responses to the horrific Tree of Life massacre, I couldn’t shake the ugly irony: The leader of the Jewish community, with its history of horror, is a man inured to stripping human rights. A man who demonizes a scapegoated population.
I never thought I’d witness people targeted and slated for ghettoization—what we are calling “consolidation.” I never thought I’d see a community looking past the means, to the ultimate end of excluding the visible poor—especially from our downtown—with our worst nature marketed as “relocation” and “renewal.” While our best nature, formerly evident in the Jesus Center, slips away.
I wonder when the Jewish community—and the Christian community—will take note of creeping authoritarianism, as it undermines our decency. When will they open their arms to their brothers and sisters on the streets? Not only in a spirit of charity, but of justice.
Speaking of homelessness
The plea came into Butte County Community Action Network from Amanda and Marcus, a couple living out of a weekly-rate motel since being evicted from 847 Warner St. in April—1 of 10 housing units purchased by Chico State to make way for a dormitory and parking lot. They are behind on their weekly motel payments and are desperate for any assistance they can muster, including shoes and toiletries.
Marcus says, “It’s because of people not having a heart. It seems to me that people are happy blaming people for not having a home.”
I wish I could state that their situation is rare, but it isn’t. We need systemic change, but in the meantime, what happens to people caught in the midst of it?
Park fees and cars
The upcoming City Council decision to use the fees from parking to improve Upper Park Road seems like a good idea for emergency and fire personnel. As far as opening up the road to the end for the general public, it is not.
I can see having vehicle access as it is Tuesday through Saturday, but the gate should remain locked above Bear Hole. Upper Park used to have a shooting and archery range—that was fine when the population was under 30,000 but not with 100,000.
Anyone who has had to deal with the speeding, alcohol and trash know this to be true. Who will be there to police, pick up and collect the garbage? Maybe another fee, eh?
My heart sank when I saw the photo of the winning family costume for Treat Street 2018. Dressing up as a Native American stereotype may not seem like a big deal to folks at the DCBA or the judges of the contest or those who shared it on Facebook who called the costume creative and cute, but to indigenous people, it is very hurtful.
To us, this is yet another wounding event in the continuing erasure of our culture and true histories—alongside trauma from family separation, state-sanctioned massacres and forced removal of our ancestors from their lands. This costume does not honor us or represent us, but is rather an insulting figment of the arrogant and entitled imagination of settlers.
Halloween is supposed to be a fun holiday. It’s a time for kids to let their imaginations run wild; they can be a robot, or any number of DC, Marvel or emoji characters, or a monster.
Downtown Chico Business Association made a mistake on Halloween by encouraging costumes that are rooted in stereotypes, but one that is fixable through an apology, education and a donation to any one of several Native American nonprofits.
The days of community members dressing up as a member of another culture or as a stereotype are long past. Many retailers of Halloween costumes are listening to concerns that they are disrespectful, harmful and promote dehumanization, and it seems that most folks get that.
Cultural advocates and mental health advocates agree that these actions are harmful to children from cultures who are being mocked: Those of us in the Native American community still face this disrespect every Halloween. The holidays become a lot more fun for everyone when culture is not treated as a costume. It has nothing to do with “political correctness” and everything to do with plain old-fashioned being polite.
Sam White Swan-Perkins
The day before Halloween, the chairman of the Yakima Tribe (leader of a sovereign nation) was denied entry into the U.S. Supreme Court because he was wearing a feather headdress, which is the honor of who he is and his position in his culture. The court was hearing a case about his tribe’s treaty rights.
The next day, the Downtown Chico Business Association gave first prize in its costume contest to a family who dressed up as “the first Thanksgiving”—with parents as pilgrims and their kid as an “Indian” with fake feather headdress.
I have seen no one criticize this child, but I add my voice to those who say the parents and the DCBA are responsible for encouraging and celebrating cultural appropriation when actual Native people’s right to vote is being stripped from them in North Dakota, when Native women are being kidnapped and assaulted daily in the U.S.
Genocide is not a thing of the past only. Native people have been saying for many years that it is disrespectful to dress up as “Indians” for Halloween. Put away the stereotypes of real people and cultures. Let’s teach our kids and community how to have fun without cultural appropriation.
My head is on the verge of blowing up. A caravan of thousands of oppressed, poverty-stricken and economically threatened refugees from countries with horrendous conditions are walking over 2,000 miles from Central America to North America, seeking relief from their misery, hoping for the opportunity to start a new life for themselves and their families.
President Trump’s response: Order 5,200 military troops to our southern border to protect the United States from this national emergency, an invasion of desperate families fleeing intolerable conditions. Oh, and by the way, these conditions are fermented due to depleted government budgets, which in part rely on the United States for economic assistance, and Trump’s answer to this problem is to stop the aid.
There is something desperately wrong with Donald Trump. He has trouble speaking in sentences, comprehending a question, or seeing beyond himself. A total lack of empathy to the pain of victims of violence, a total disregard for a nation in mourning.
This whole theater is nothing but a campaign ad, an exercise in performance art, a self-centered indulgence. He doesn’t care about immigration, or America for that matter. He cares only about himself, his own self and nothing but himself, but definitely not you.
Roger S. Beadle
Re “Not a progressive” (Letters, by Lucy Cooke, Oct. 25):
Lucy Cooke and other anti-capitalist, socialist letter writers blame the Kamala Harrises of the political world for low Democratic voter turnout or enthusiasm.
Cooke apparently chooses to ignore that two times already in the new millennium, the winner of the White House has had fewer popular votes than the loser. This really is a distraction to my enthusiasm. The phenomenon hasn’t occurred since 1888, and prior to that in 1876. We all remember the Ralph Nader fiasco in 2000 that enabled George W. Bush to wreak havoc on America.
Ironically, Bernie Sanders played the Nader role in 2016, enabling the most deplorable, virulent, homophobic village idiot ever to soil the grounds of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Four times in the history of presidential elections, the president has been chosen by the majority of Electoral College votes while losing the popular vote, and guess what folks, all four were Republicans. The Electoral College actually makes a mockery of the definition of democracy (i.e., “a system of government by the whole population.”
I know what the Electoral College rules are, and I vehemently disagree with them: it’s obsolete. Choose the right things to blast the Democratic party with. Kamala Harris actually voted against the “foreclosure king’s” confirmation. She has my vote in 2020, if she chooses to run.
Drop the prop process
I recently received my “Voter Information Guide” in the mail. It contained an assortment of 12 propositions, along with a list of judges, all seeking voter approval. Propositions ranged from confinement of farm animals to regulation of outpatient kidney dialysis charges, along with four bond measures.
Now, being of average intelligence, I’ll admit it’s not always clear which propositions I should support. The analysis and pro/con arguments are of little help, often filled with useless political spin and conflicting facts.
Bond measures never get my support unless for true emergencies. Unfortunately, we’ve become accustomed to simply borrowing the money through bonds, leaving future generations responsible for paying the bill.
Frankly, the whole proposition process has gotten way out of hand. It’s a lousy way to run a state. Taking responsibility out of the hands of elected representatives, no matter how well-intended, and putting it in the hands of ill-informed voters, verges on insanity.
How can we hold elected officials responsible for the overall health of the state, financially and otherwise, when voters play such a significant and unpredictable role in the decision-making process?
Dare I say, it’s time to dump the proposition process in California.
A truly Great place
If there is any place on this planet where one can observe how to be “Great” in the first place, it is Donostia. Multiple languages in use every day; multiple skin colors abound without prejudice; kindness and open hearts to all who visit or make Donostia a home resounds. There is no wall, there is no prejudice, only open arms and smiles for those who visit or choose to stay.