Monday, April 20, 2015

Alec Baldwin: Don't be a twit on twitter...


    Alec Baldwin plays Tina Fey's boss on "Thirty Rock."  He is a charming New Yorker.  But confronted with the protest for a living wage of $15 an hour (what do you make, Alec?), Alec got upset in a traffic jam, and twittered/twitted before he thought.

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    Today is the 101st anniversary of the Ludlow massacre.  At that time, another upstanding New Yorker John D. Rockefeller kept silent while national guard and private detective thugs, at his behest, murdered 2 women and 11 children at Ludlow.  See here.

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    But Upton Sinclair and other New Yorkers were in his face.  And so was the one woman who survived the fiery trap who went around the country speaking.

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    Today, NPR interviewed Amber Montoya, author at Colorado State University of a book on Ludlow and Rockefeller, having the theme that immigrant workers just wanted to be recognized as men. See here.

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    Unfortunately, the interviewer and interviewee accepted Rockefeller's rhetoric about seeking the "economic and social advancement" of the workers, i.e. "race betterment" at the time, though at least Montoya  recognized that the workers in the "company union," isolated in Southern Colorado and  paid in Rockefeller scrip not money, couldn't leave.

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    But neither knew about the conference of American industrialists on "race betterment," furthering eugenics in 1914 in Battle Creek, Michigan (yes, Kellogg's wanted its "krispies" white white white...)

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    Neither knew about the conference in Germany at the turn of the 20th century sponsored by Alfred Krupp, the arms manufacturer, which produced 10 volumes on the virtues of eugenics - another name for "race betterment."

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   The Klan, the American South, Adolf Hitler and German "intellectuals" (Heidegger, for example) know about "social betterment".  They wanted race-dominated societies linked to colonialisms and war.

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     Ludlow, 101 years ago, is here in southern Colorado (the Sand Creek Massacre, 151 years ago).  In both cases, we can see how hard it is to recall.

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     For unions are being eroded and smashed (Scott Walker in Wisconsin; Governor Hickenlooper in Colorado does not have to deal with a public sector union as...none exists).

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     The ghouls of the 19th and early 20th century - the Marco Rubios, Ted Cruzs and Rand Pauls on domestic policy - have risen again, funded by the Koch brothers/Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate/Paul Singer and other Rockefellers/Fricks/Kelloggs of our day.  (Rand Paul, despite the misanthropy of his first name, is decent on foreign policy though, oddly, corrupted by seeking the Presidency, to the Right of Hillary Clinton on Iran).

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      No unions, no social security, no minimum wage - keep nonwhite people enslaved and poor whites, if they can get a job, toiling, desperately for their "race betters"...

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    John Hickenlooper, is however, better on Sand Creek - on last December 3rd (150 years later), he rightly apologized to Cheyenne and Arapaho descendants on the steps of the State Capitol.

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     Nonetheless, amnesia about these massacres/ the union movement is also being created and rein, forced before our eyes (what I call, for large issues of genocide, "Founding Amnesias").

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    And poor Alec Baldwin who knows the workers deserve decent pay though he is not one (he is, after all, a non-idiot New Yorker), twits out on twitter.

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    That America is in steep decline, that the most wretched oppressors now spout Randian infamy - Scrooge on steroids - that even otherwise decent people forget everything they know and snarl in already scripted boss's words in traffic jams - is revealed stunningly by Mr. Baldwin.

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    In a weekly column in the New York Times, Rachel L. Swarns answers the twit point by point (his publicist refused to take calls about, i.e. apologize for the tweet; Baldwin realizes his foolishness, but feels more humiliation than a decent desire to take responsibility).

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     Since the Times is, generally speaking, a remarkably anti-worker newspaper, the fact that it has some concern for poorer workers - Swarns names three in the article and describes their situation, though they are not given their own words about the twit... - deserves note.

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    Alec Baldwin would be mocked by Woody Allen and Tina Fey.  He forgot himself.  But what he represents, the larger trends in America, are far more frightening.

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A Response to Alec Baldwin’s Complaints That a Living Wage Rally Snarled Traffic
APRIL 19, 2015
Photo



A “die-in” outside a McDonald’s in Manhattan during a rally for higher wages, one of many protests on pay held across the country Wednesday. CreditLucas Jackson/Reuters



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I threw everything aside to write to you as soon as I heard about your troubles. You know, last week, when you stumbled across thousands of fast-food employees, home health care aides and other low-wage workers who were demonstrating in Midtown Manhattan.
You were on your way somewhere, right? Driving or biking, maybe, when you encountered those protesters calling for a $15 minimum wage? They converged on Columbus Circle as they marched to Times Square, joining tens of thousands of people around the country calling for better pay. And in that moment, as you were stuck in the traffic snarled by that rally, something touched you. Something inspired you to speak out.
Your instinct, of course, was to let loose on Twitter:
“Life in NY is hard enough as is. The goal is to not make it more so. How does clogging rush hour traffic from 59th St to 42 do any good?”
It was what so many socially conscious New Yorkers were thinking! Can’t the protesters all go home? Can’t they protest in their own apartments? Or, if they must make a public spectacle, can’t they take to the streets at 2 a.m., when most of us are sound asleep, not trying to drive to the Upper West Side?
Mr. Baldwin, I’ve always been a big fan of yours — loved “30 Rock” — and I’ve written quite a bit about workers who are still struggling during this post-recession recovery. So I must confess that I worried that your Twitter message sounded just a teensy bit insensitive to the protesters who, after all, just want to feed their families, pay rent and try to stay afloat. Or maybe you agree with some business owners who say that a $15 minimum wage is unsustainable?
“Oh, I support their cause. The timing of their event wasn’t what good NYers would do....”
What a relief! That message really eased my mind. I’m sure that it made Julia Andino, a single mother who works at McDonald’s, feel better, too. Maybe you saw her? She was protesting because she earns $8.75 an hour — minimum wage in New York State — and struggles to pay the rent for the single room that she shares with her 3-year-old son.
Perhaps you noticed Patricia O’Hara, a home health aide who earns $10 an hour caring for older patients and strains to pay all of her bills. Or Ashley Wiley, another McDonald’s worker, who gets paid $9.19 an hour and has to rely on Medicaid and food stamps to help support her three sons.
They were all out on Wednesday evening, marching, chanting and calling for change that might improve their lives.
NY’s ethos dissolves every day that individuals or groups put their needs/goals ahead of everyone else’s.”
There are ways to rally people to your cause without inconveniencing an entire City.”
The convenience factor! Now, that, Mr. Baldwin, is an issue that doesn’t get raised every day by your fellow supporters of a living wage. And it reminds me that this point rarely comes up when we consider the history of social movements in the United States: the sheer inconvenience that peaceful protests create for people who are not protesting.
Just think back to the recent coverage of the 50th anniversary of the 1965 “Bloody Sunday” march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala.
I watched some of that on television and not a single correspondent that I saw posed the pointed question: What kinds of traffic disruptions did those civil rights activists cause when they tried to cross that bridge?
O.K. You’re absolutely right. This letter is beginning to take on a snarky tone. (I would have loved to discuss my snarkiness with you directly, but your publicist, Jillian Taratunio, informed me that you had decided not to do any interviews about last week’s protest. But I digress.)
It’s just that sometimes, Mr. Baldwin, people do take stands to try to bring about change for the better. And sometimes their protests disrupt our day-to-day routines. Sometimes, they’re even intended to disrupt our day-to-day routines, to open our eyes, to bring attention to causes that might otherwise be ignored.
So I’d like to conclude by offering you a bit of advice. The next time you’re stuck in traffic because of a rally for a living wage, please don’t pick up your smartphone to post your complaint on Twitter.
Think instead of the workers who are trying to put food on their tables and keep a roof over their heads. Remind yourself that if traffic is your biggest hassle on a Wednesday night in New York City, you’re probably doing just fine.
Sincerely,
Rachel L. Swarns

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