My Own Two Hands by Thomas Martin Saturday

Posted in Community and Citizen Action, Poetry, The Faith Community with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 18, 2014 by thomassobottke

My Own Two Hands

Withered, twisted, carpal tunneled appendages,
declared useless
the ravages of time,
on foggy nights of quiet despair.

Yet,
you are what I make of you.

You write my soul
open to the divine scrutiny,
applauding,
applauding righteous acts of conscience,
touching the Blarney Stone before that kiss,
or Lincoln’s nose
haphazardly,
monument to humility.

You hold that protest sign
speaking justice,
strongest when beaten and cuffed.

Your fingers the work of a roaming mind
desiring to write
muscular extensions of words at play,
transcendent, looking heavenward.

My own two hands,
holding cosmic documents
no one has written yet,
my soul rising, rising.

-Copyright 2014 by Thomas Martin Sobottke (writing as Thomas Martin Saturday)
As are all poems and work on Struggles for Justice

Wisconsin G.O.P. Set to Vote on Secession: What Would Lincoln Think?

Posted in Essays, National Affairs with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 14, 2014 by thomassobottke

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Lincoln Photo One

Lincoln Photo Three

On the very anniversary of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, defender of the Union, the strong “more perfect Union” of our modern Constitution and not the old Articles of Confederation, comes a newspaper story from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s Daniel Bice telling us that among a number of resolutions the Wisconsin G.O.P. has waiting for its state convention next month is one asking delegates if secession should be a plank of the Republican Party in Wisconsin.

Party officials told Bice they wanted to kill it when the thing came before the Resolutions Committee at the Hyatt Hotel in Milwaukee last 5 April but it passed anyway with slight amendment on a split committee vote. Don’t you believe that for a single moment. This was the Wisconsin State Republican Party caught telling the truth about itself with its Neo-Confederate Credentials hanging out in full view– if you’ll just look.

Even Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker walked this back a bit this week saying “I don’t think that one aligns with where most Republican officials are in the State of Wisconsin—certainly not with me,” Walker said. The Governor made the statement at a press event on Friday.

Using plain English Struggles for Justice translates from reactionary politician-speak:

“Holy shit! If the national press gets ahold of that one, the Party, and especially me, will take a big hit. I’ll still be feeling it on that stage in early 2016 being the favorite to win the Republican Nomination for President by then.”

The Party’s support for this is based firmly in the wide powers given to state governments and individuals by the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. But folks; not so fast. The Amendment includes the resolution-killing phrase “The powers not delegated to the United States.”

Since the guns fell silent in that cold spring of 1865 and since the body of a beloved and slain President lay in State in the White House with Mary Lincoln sobbing and then crying uncontrollably there has not been such a bare-knuckled challenge to the idea of a strong Union of the States bequeathed to us by the blood of hundreds of thousands of Americans who fought so hard and so long at such great cost to themselves for the Union.

Is Struggles for Justice waving the Bloody Shirt after so long a passage of time? Hell, you bet we are! And we can also remind our readers that General William Tecumseh Sherman said repeatedly following the war:

“The line of Union and Rebel, of loyalty and treason, should be kept always distinct.”

What could they be thinking? How could any group of Republicans not know this was wrong? No matter how they walk it back they have let this secret become an open secret now. The G.O.P.’s rightward shift in the last six years—not so strangely corresponding to a black President, who reveres Lincoln, has put them squarely in the Neo-Confederate camp.

The American Civil War and the issues it raised are still central to our time and any time a strong Union is desired. And bloodshed is an all too real future possibility. Mark our words. It is no hyperbole or metaphor but a plain, unvarnished, and an exceedingly sordid truth.

Why else do you think Republicans desire a Putin-like President, while so contradicting themselves on secession and with the Tenther’s or Tenth Amendment Movement?

A more perfect Union can NEVER be a Confederation of loosely associated states where state sovereignty instead of the genuine truly national one; powers of the Union is supreme.

Note also that beyond the blood of so many Union veterans of the American Civil War is the Supreme Law of the Texas vs. White (1875) Supreme Court decision where then Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase wrote in the majority opinion without equivocation that secession was unconstitutional—it was unlawful. And any move that so threatens the national government is treason—make no mistake. And so it remains to this very day until a Robert’s conservative Supreme Court majority in their untutored illogic and foolishness might overturn the decision.

And support for secession and weak government is never a substitute for a wise and engaged citizenry, along with political parties that consult the nation’s legacy and history.

Know too that Daniel Webster said as far back as 1850 that there can be no “peaceable secession.” He was born out by well over 620,000 deaths between 1861 and 1865.

The Scott Walkers and rural retro-Republican Neo-Confederates of Wisconsin tell us emphatically that if such a resolution passes a State G.O.P. plank at next month’s convention no matter by how slim a plurality, that this says the Republican Party is a dead thing that mocks its greatest founder.

What would Lincoln Think? WWLT? He’d be a Democrat!

No Liberal is Going to Win a Debate that Big Government Freed the Slaves by Thomas Martin Sobottke

Posted in Education, Essays, National Affairs, Race with tags , , , , on April 10, 2014 by thomassobottke

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“No liberal is going to win a debate that big government freed the Slaves.”

-Heritage Foundation President and Former South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint to Talk Show Host Jerry Newcomb

Jimmy, Jimmy, poor little Jimmy, oh dear poor Jimmy, but you’ve tossed a massive softball to thousands if not hundreds of thousands of educated liberals in America to hit out of the park in debate. This liberal can’t resist however easy the task.

Sometimes you have to turn to big government to save the United States of America. Oh, that includes the Federal Government, itself big government in relation to any individual state at any time in our history. It would be relative to the populace big government too.

In 1861, eleven slave states claimed to have left the Union and formed themselves into the Confederate States of America, so called, and led by millions of armed insurgents or those who aided them, all attempting to destroy that nation which our founders had with so much sacrifice brought into existence in 1776.

It was not some moderate or small threat but one that taxed the national or Federal Government to its maximum, requiring the Lincoln Government to drastically expand the power and the reach of our previously weak national government in order to prevent the extinction of that government and our experiment in democracy; our republic itself hanging in the balance.

Lest you think this Federal Government effort was puny by comparison to today’s version, 1.7 million men were mustered into the Union Army—Federalized– even if raised in the Union free states. Between 1861 and 1865 this little ineffectual Federal Government of DeMint’s killed one in four white adult Southern males.

The goal was to preserve the Union but on 1 January 1863 Abraham Lincoln proclaimed that those slaves who as of that date were living in states or portions of states still under control of the Rebellion, those people held in bondage were “henceforward and forever free.”

Now at this point the DeMint’s of the world, and DeMint himself said “In fact, it was Abraham Lincoln, the very first Republican, who took this on as a cause and a lot of it was based on a love in his heart that comes from God.”

That’s absolutely correct. But was there in the Emancipation Proclamation anything not so love oriented?

Consider this line from the Proclamation:

Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, by virtue of the power in me vested as Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, in time of actual armed rebellion against the authority and government of the United States and as a fit and necessary war measure for suppressing said rebellion, . . . “

A war measure? Yes Senator DeMint the Feds were on you guys by the millions with military force. Can you just feel the Federal love?

Now, conservatives will argue that the Emancipation Proclamation did not free a single slave as it only applied to places still under so called,” Confederate Control.”

Wait a moment. Lincoln’s proclamation was telegraphed that day to 212 active and independent Union military commands. And, copies of it were accompanied by direct military orders from a wartime President of the United States to give full effect to the proclamation so made and including this language also:

. . . and that the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, shall recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons.” (those who were declared henceforward and forever free).

Just how Jimmy do you think the military was going to recognize the freeing of these slaves it encountered? Well of course by letting them know they were free wherever the Union Army was to go for the rest of the entire Civil War, even if a given commander was a War Democrat who distinctly blanched at freeing blacks at all. It was an order from the President. The same goes for another portion of this part of the Proclamation.

and maintain the freedom of said persons.”

How was that to be done? Well, if the Union lost the war it would be impossible to maintain their freedom. So military commanders endeavored to do a shocking thing: win that war!

Or in common parlance, beat the snot out of the Confederate Armies; moving through places like Memphis, Richmond, Charleston, Savannah, much of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, (remember that Sherman led bunch that marched 340 miles to the Sea and Savannah, Georgia from Atlanta?), New Orleans, and a whole lot more.

Well, it would take something more permanent than just a war measure to tell Southern slaveholding states to jettison the “peculiar institution” for good DeMint would argue.

Here too, it is just so easy; like taking the proverbial candy from a baby. Obviously DeMint might have considered accepting the President’s invitation to an exclusive showing of Spielberg’s Lincoln last year. I can just see Daniel Day Lewis making that point about the President being invested with such enormous power.

The guns had yet to fall silent when the Federal Congress of the United States passed the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. In the interview DeMint droned on about how the freeing of the slaves had been a product of the Constitution. Even in its Dred Scott Decision clothing from 1857 until 1864 it was the third branch of the Federal Government declaring that the Constitution “expressly affirmed” slavery and a more liberal court during some of the worst killing of the 1864 campaign declaring that piece of supreme court excrement unconstitutional as it remains today!

Worse yet for DeMint’s demented U.S. History lesson, the Thirteenth Amendment was passed by Congress, itself a portion of the Federal or national government with 1.7 million now fully trained killers to induce passage of the Amendment not only in the Union states but in the soon to be former Confederate states as well. As Reconstruction got underway (itself a ridiculously big government set of policies) much of those armies were still occupying the South.

That Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery or involuntary servitude save for serving a prison sentence in the United States or anyplace controlled by that national government–forever. That’s a long, long time to be wrong Jimmy.

Now we all know that among the greatest factors in freeing the slaves were the slaves themselves. And the legacy of 186,700 armed and dangerous black U.S. Colored Troops (USCT) made the whole difference. But their hopes and ability to act so courageously was greatly aided by what the Lincoln or Federal or National American big government was doing and would do. The slaves knew that the government of the United States was now firmly on their side.

Game, set, and match. A liberal has just won a debate arguing that big government however you define its size in any era of our history, has freed the slaves.

And conservative Republicans can whine on all they wish about how this was an “outlier” and that big government has not been needed for anything significant much in American history as Jim DeMint actually did in that interview.

Once upon a time (or is it continuously each generation) the entire economy tanked and all Americans got a New Deal where just in the first 100 days Congress passed and the President signed fifteen measures greatly expanding the power of BIG government, hell, creating the real and true BIG government that probably has our conservative friends chilled too the bone in fear already.

Once upon a time there was little Hitler in Germany, Mussolini in Italy, and the distant and unapproachable Sun God, Hirohito in Japan . . .

Once upon a time there was this guy Lyndon Johnson who pushed Congress (the big bad Feds again) to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in the Second Reconstruction.

Once upon a time there was this evil Empire, from 1946 to 1989 threatening our very way of life, the Cold War was pretty hot for a long time, and the cry of Communists in our midst was heard across the land.

Once upon a time there were grumpy old men and women who insisted on an old age pension called Social Security, and a health plan until they died called Medicare, and for the poorest, Medicaid.

Don’t ya think individual States or local groups of citizens might in these cases thought it expedient to come together as well, by the millions and not just tens or hundreds of thousands? A nation? Unified? How is this best effected? Yes, finally Jimmy you have learned your lesson. The Federal Government, the BIG bad government you so much complain of.

Dr. Thomas Martin Sobottke
for Struggles for Justice
“Speaking for the Voiceless, Protecting the Vulnerable”

GOP Failures of Feminism Panel Recommends Return to 19th Century Practices for Women to Succeed by Thomas Martin Sobottke

Posted in Education, Essays, Gender, National Affairs with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 3, 2014 by thomassobottke

Victoian One

lovely painting one

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Just lie back and think of England.”

–Victorian mother’s only advice to her completely untutored daughter prior to her wedding night.

Should women get married at the first opportunity? Start having babies right now? Let the men earn the wages and advance, while 21st Century American women postpone or eschew a career altogether?

That is essentially the message of a GOP Heritage Foundation Panel convened to mark the end of Women’s History Month. From a conservative Republican perspective this will take away the Democrat’s advantage by giving them fewer single women to appeal to in elections.

As Dana Millbank writing in his Washington Post column that very day pointed out with such clarity, the message being sent is “essentially Republicans aren’t the ones who need to change—women are.”

The hottest new women’s book, a tome from “The Princeton Mom,” currently being sold in bookstores is something appropriately titled “Marry Smart.” The author’s advice: go to college but get married BEFORE you graduate presumably sans degree and marry an attractive man who will earn a top income. “You’ll never have a better opportunity to select from the best men,” she advised a TV interview panel.

So, let’s rewrite all of American History by having historically great women adopt these views. Women’s History Month Revisited we’ll call it. These are hot; really cutting edge Victorian ideas Republican conservatives are advancing seriously in 2014. Give them some credit for at least proposing some anti-feminist measures that leave us gasping at the audacity of it! Jane Austen novels are your lives now gals!

Betsy Ross is too busy nursing two kids to sew that flag.

Molly Pitcher does not help her husband crew an artillery piece in a key battle of the American Revolution.

Dolly Madison does not save the famed portrait of George Washington just before the British enter our nation’s capital and burn the place. Dolly thought it was not her place to think of it or to do such a thing.

A host of mid-19th Century American women never join anti-slavery societies and so there is no Civil War and slavery is first legislated out in America sometime around 1910, William Howard Taft finally signing legislation Teddy Roosevelt worked so hard to advance. Yet it is gradual emancipation to be fully effective in 1950.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton never consults with Susan B. Anthony simply because she follows her mother’s advice rather than consulting her own intellect and conscience. She dies in childbirth at age 22. Many other women not in the abolitionist movement also do not meet at Seneca Falls in 1848. There is no women’s suffrage movement until 1902. The twenty-third amendment to the U.S. Constitution, giving women the right to vote does come in but not until 1947.

World War II finds American women staying at home and having the baby boom while their soldier is away. Armaments factories simply do not have enough labor power to give the boys what they need. American casualties in World War II are more than double what they should have been. And Japan takes Pearl Harbor outright and bombs the West Coast of the United States with Japanese troops stopped outright on the beaches of Malibu in 1944.

In the European Theater of war the Nazis develop nuclear weapons before we do but thank God FDR had them drop four of them on Germany and Eastern Europe not bothering to test the devices, just two weeks before V2’s with nuclear warheads were to demolish New York. World War II is nearly lost and it does not end until 1951. The nation is so devastated that it does not lead with Marshall Plan aid.

That is out of the question and all of Europe and much of Latin America are immediately under communist control. Since women don’t enter the workforce before, during, or after World War II, and marriage is by 17-years-of-age on average for women in the United States, the first woman to enter Congress does not do so until 1979.

In Civil Rights, Rosa Parks does what both her parents told her she must do as a proper lady, giving up her seat to that white man; not once but always. There is no Montgomery Bus Boycott, or I Have a Dream Speech or Civil Rights Act or Voting Rights Act. Martin Luther King Jr. is a brilliant and fiery preacher in Atlanta with his father, but otherwise quite unremarkable and very unhappy with the career he chose. Coretta divorces him in 1957.

Jim Crow finally dies away finally in 1989, as the rest of the world gasps at the backward United States. Even South Africa is more progressive.

Betty Friedan has more and more babies and just writes recipes for Redbook. She fails to understand why the happiness promised by Republican conservatives on this 21st Century panel will be so off the mark. She does not write The Feminine Mystique. She tragically commits suicide after shooting her husband in a blind rage in 1963.

You get the idea. Yes, women and marriage go together and should be celebrated. As Mona Charen says “we must re-establish the marriage norm.”

But how people marry, and when, is up to them. And what makes them happy too ought to be firmly under their control. Women since the beginning of recorded history have had career, intellectual, and leadership aspirations well beyond their ability to achieve them, only in just the past fifty years they can. Look at Cleopatra to name one. Heck Mary the mother of Jesus didn’t do too bad either and she had a kid too! And right away!

We are still a patriarchal society. It ought to be bi-archical! Marriage is a very good thing. It is between two people — two people who love one another. Men and women have an equal stake in raising the next generation of Americans. Were women to follow this panel’s frankly counterproductive advice, they would not achieve full happiness as promised.

With women so behind we could look forward to America’s leadership position in the world crumbling even more rapidly–making us a third rate power. Worse yet, our economy and our government at all levels would be deprived of so many, talented, exciting and fulfilled women leaders who in the majority have children and raise them well during their lives too. Those that don’t have always been there. Spinsterhood anyone?

But having women vitally interested and a full part of their nation makes an enormous difference. They’re making that difference now; not just having babies as wonderful as motherhood can be. Let’s not mess with that. OK?

So Heritage Foundation’s Mona Charen and companions seated at the table of weak, ineffectual women espousing totally out of touch ideas that even most Republican conservative women around the nation reject, dream on. And don’t expect your party to win the White House or become relevant nationally anytime soon!

Heritage Foundation Failures of Feminism Panel: What the heck are you doing on some panel telling women what to do? Shouldn’t you be at home? You have a home to clean and a husband waiting for dinner! You’re just Stepford Wives.

Dr. Thomas Martin Sobottke
for Struggles for Justice
“Speaking for the Voiceless, Protecting the Vulnerable”

The Fundamental American Right of Civic Irresponsibility by Thomas Martin Sobottke

Posted in Community and Citizen Action, Essays, National Affairs, Race, The Faith Community with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 27, 2014 by thomassobottke

Prison One

Just where does freedom and liberty collide with the civic responsibilities human beings fall heir to simply by living in a cooperative community of persons–a common humanity?

To listen to people like Congressman Paul Ryan, Republican from Wisconsin, and Chairman of the House Budget Committee—nowhere.

That’s right—at no point does anyone have a responsibility to see to the common good of everyone.

Ryan told the nation’s press that the urban poor, itself a reference point for blacks you don’t like, are in that condition of abject poverty because they don’t want to work. While his comment that African-Americans have a problem with absent fathers and broken families is true, he failed to mention that most of them are sitting in a prison somewhere—the lion’s share for non-violent drug possession. The War on Drugs declared by Richard Nixon some 35 years ago has been overwhelmingly concentrated in urban black and Latino neighborhoods with predictable results.

Though whites offend more often than people of color, those on the dark side of the twenty-first century American color line are six to seven more times more likely to be serving felony count prison terms. The process here is self-perpetuating.

And if you become a convicted felon, few employers will take a chance on anyone who is in that condition when required under the terms of their probation to reveal that information on job applications. So much so that Michelle Alexander, in the book of the decade, has labeled this system “The New Jim Crow.”

The author of this essay is even more emphatic so as to call it the “Injustice System.”

Ryan and the Tea Party herd grazing in the House of Representatives want to do something about having to support so many poor people on the Federal dole—preeminently as they fit the common racial stereotype of how blacks are supposed to be.

Their plan? To block every attempt of President Obama and Congressional Democrats to construct some group of targeted, private sector stimulated, and bi-partisan jobs programs. Even the relatively large number of people of color who do NOT have a felony record and want to work— as almost every single one of them do, then can’t find work when it is not there to find.

Fox News Commentator Bill O’Reilly has let whites know the specific mark of Cain to discern who these social reprobates are—anyone with a neck tattoo. So here, tattoos become the indicator of a person’s relative worth on the job market and in life. Note to Bill: the younger generation has completely embraced tattoos, and it is no respecter of race, color or creed. Yes, gangs use them to tell all what gang they’re with, and what a badass they’ve been. Readers may be thinking of where to place an O’Reilly tattoo and what it should be but we’ll not be detained by that.

A Facebook friend of mine, a good guy, yet ignorant of the truth, is fond of telling me that it is all about his freedom not to have to lend his money for social relief of the poor and needy. That includes a hell of a lot of children. Are they criminals just for being born in such modest circumstances? Is he not aware that the Son of God was born in just that condition?

The circular illogic he follows is that shredding the social safety net across the board is all about Americans gaining even more freedom. Essentially it is the new fundamental American right, declared by conservatives not to be burdened by those without the ability to make it on their own. The guy is perfectly willing and even hotly a proponent of cutting food stamps, welfare, and even Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. And yes, lock up the bastards in black, brown, the swarthy and yellow.

Here’s where the boomerang he has rhetorically thrown comes to hit him squarely in the face:

In Wisconsin, it costs $23,000 a year to lock away people you are afraid of. And on the Federal level it can run as high as $43,000 each annum. Where is the logic in that? Unless it is founded in fear, ignorance and misplaced mistrust of others in our communities.

What if we did a Judgment Day style separating of the Sheep and Goats and pardoned all who have not used violence against others but whose drug dependencies have yoked them to a prison system that separates them from their families and leaves them unemployable—and then racially targeted by those such as Ryan and O’Reilly?

WISDOM, a State-wide group of churches is doing just that with their 11 X 15 program, a modest yet significant effort to trim the State’s prison population by 11,000 by 2015. Roughly calculated that’s a savings of a cool two and a half million dollars off the State’s bloated prison budget every single year and ten million plus within a four year governor’s term. Done on a national or Federal scale the cost savings are almost incalculable. And the really bad people we must keep separated from us for the public safety are still locked away.

Lost in all this is that if drug treatment were added to the mix as 11 X 15 contemplates, you have a potential in Wisconsin by 2015 of eleven thousand redeemed souls and lives!

Sadly, these things are all lost on conservatives like Ryan, O’Reilly, and my friend on Facebook, and there are millions like him.

They have created a new fundamental right of Americans not yet seen in this country: the fundamental American right of social and economic irresponsibility; a selfishness and shortsightedness so vast that it can be claimed as the new American frontier. It is rights and freedoms without the attendant responsibilities. Is that what we want the frontier of our national development to be? O’Reilly? I meant really of course.

Dr. Thomas Martin Sobottke
for Struggles for Justice
“Speaking for the Voiceless, Protecting the Vulnerable”

That Other World by Thomas Martin Saturday

Posted in Poetry with tags , , , on March 17, 2014 by thomassobottke

Abstract-Art-Wallpapers

The man says how can you not think of money,
mover and builder of worlds
marking every success
superiority over ordinary men
a rebuke to the idleness of the poor
desires, dreams, your every whim
immediately consulted
gratified,

my weak reply that it had not entered my mind,
the writer’s muse for my companion,
possessing the love imparted by the great teacher,

The man says how can you not love power,
standing above all others
these little men
to be despised like dogs
yet controlled for your amusement,

my weak reply this holds no interest for me
for how could I know friendship’s warmth,
or be a servant to my people
satisfaction at a life well lived,

The man says but surely you require a kingdom,
vast lands
far reaching dominions,
extending to crimson horizons
too vast to be seen or fully mapped,

my weak reply puzzled as to what need
a solitary man
not the Creator
would have for them,

The man says carve out civilization from this wilderness,
leave no thing unexploited
take all and watch your wealth grow,
silver and gold piled high in your counting houses,
for why should the Earth stand idle when you command all,
brook no rivals
every living thing subject to your ruling hand,

my weak reply that Creation is what delights my eye,
wishing to take only what is needed
for comfort,
safety
learning to share with others,

The man says you are truly weak and senseless,
why should I bother with you little man,

my weak reply that the frail,
the little men of the world,
something you do not see
have the Creator’s love at our command,
how could we want for anything with that?

-March 2014

Madison Area Native Leaders and Allies Protest Mukwonago “Indian” Nickname and Logo at WIAA Men’s Basketball Semi Final

Posted in Community and Citizen Action, Race with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 15, 2014 by thomassobottke

Mdison Mascot Logo Nickanmae Protest

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Photos Courtesy of WKOW TV channel 27 (ABC) News and Channel 15 (NBC) Madison, WI

Carrying signs, placards, and with a senior Menominee and Pottawatomi tribal elder and spiritual leader waving an American flag with a Native-American figure etched into its fabric, denoting how central indigenous people are to Wisconsin and North America; some 35 Madison Area Native Leaders and Allies staged a peaceful and respectful protest against the continued use of the “Indian” nickname and logo by the Mukwonago Area Schools and its Mukwonago High School.

Rachel Byington, a Choctaw woman, and Board Member of the Wisconsin Indian Education Association (WIEA) and its attendant Mascot/Logo Taskforce, led by Barbara Munson, an Oneida woman, explained why they were there Friday evening in a stiff late winter wind in front of the Kohl Center where Mukwonago was playing a semifinal game:

“Stereotyping images of native people have no place in Wisconsin’s schools and are harmful to the self-image of native students, yet Mukwonago insists that their mascot the “Indians” is respectful and will not be changed. This is in spite of many efforts spanning many years to communicate, educate, and to reach out to School Board Members about the problems with using race and culture’s of people as a sports mascot.”

Byington attended Madison schools. Jill Gonzalez and Key Jackson also of the WIEA Board were also on hand and lent their full support.

University of Wisconsin Lecturer Paula Mohan did much to help organize the on-the-ground Madison part of the protest. After School Board Members heard from three speakers at their 24 February Board Meeting led by Dr. Sandra Shedivy on this subject, off they go to Madison expecting a good game and their “Indians” to be seen by a statewide sports audience, and there in front of them were 35 stout and hardy people standing for justice. They cannot evade the issue. Hundreds of Mukwonago students, parents, and community members looked in the face of truth and what is right and their faces told a story of denial and a wish to turn their backs on doing what is right. They won’t be able to.

This issue has gone viral and national. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, (D-Calif.) yesterday told reporters that she thinks it’s time for the U.S. Patent Office to stop recognizing the Washington D.C. NFL franchise, the “Redskins.” Late last year a number of sports and news organizations decided to drop the patently race-based and derogatory name from all their sports stories and news items in future. More of that is coming for the Kansas City Chiefs, the Cleveland “Indians” and the list goes on.

Mohan noted the same trend saying:

“This isn’t a problem that is confined to Mukwonago. Any time a native student from any district that sees his culture caricatured as a sports Mascot is affected.”

The Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice brought up to a third of all protestors. They underpinned and sponsored the action in Madison. Find them at WNPJ.org

Former Mukwonago teacher and Editor of Struggles for Justice, Thomas Martin Sobottke, told a Madison TV 15 NBC news reporter that the ongoing battle “is a bitter soup.” He remained hopeful that recent signs Mukwonago is at least de-emphasizing its nickname and logo but not dropping it altogether “is a good thing.” Yet more action needs to come. Nevertheless, he added that the Wisconsin Indian Education Association has a fine curriculum that is ready and waiting if School Board Members and the District Superintendent Shawn McNulty, and the Mukwonago community simply take steps to work with the WIEA as has been offered to them as a resource so often before. That offer, according to Munson is still on the table and Native leaders of the Great Lakes Tribal Council have gone on record supporting this continuing, generous, and partnering initiative.

There was some mild trash talking by dozens of Mukwonago kids, primarily excited about their WIAA Semi-Final basketball game of course. You would not expect anything else. Certainly none of the protestors wished the team and fans ill. It was the nickname and logo issue that is the difficulty. For the students the memory of their school at State will stick with them all their lives and especially with the young men playing that game. Yet one man made an assertion that he himself disproved within a short sentence: “We are not racists you pigs!” referring to the protestors standing in mute witness. The irony of the man’s statement was not lost on the protestors!

Students from Germantown and Milwaukee were strongly supportive of the protest and yelled and cheered in groups. The Germantown Cheerleaders going into full cheer mode! Protestors thanked any who were supportive and they were the majority. One school’s numerous students of color nodded and said thank yous’. One kid yelled out and said “I did a paper on that!” Mukwonago School Board: students all over the State know all about your” problem” and they get it.

Perhaps, the thirty-one or so remaining districts in the State that yet have “Indian” nicknames and Logos might consider forming a group like “Racial Stereotypers Anonymous.” Whether in a 12-step program or just getting rid of the caricatures of Native-Americans outright, Dr. King reminds us all that “The time is always right to do right.” So it goes with Mukwonago also.

Sobottke pointedly asked reporters one question: “Why is it that only indigenous people in Wisconsin and around the nation must be so stereotyped racially?” What is so different about them in relation to all other groups who are no longer subjected to it officially? Who is listening to them? Why are those who engage in racial bigotry and the denial they are doing it seem so deaf?

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