The Hellhole – Week 3/4

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The Hellhole - Week of 3/4
Audio Recording of Seattle Hellhole – Week of March 4, 2019

Mayor Durkan tried to appoint a public official who oversaw the largest death of unhoused Seattleites in history without a debate

Mayor Durkan appointed yet another public official without consulting the public. Jason Johnson had served as interim head of Human Services for the city since March last year. The record number of unhoused deaths last year speak to Johnson’s priorities. No amount of sweet Pearl Jam tix fix a system this broken. Councilmember Sawant and others in the minority of the council noted the lack of accountability and discussion with the community.

We are in the worst timeline. Our Mayor is what the Chamber of Commerce wants. In more democratic cities, Councilmembers let the people, regardless of adulthood or immigration status, decide how to budget improvement to the neighborhood. It’s led to people actively re-engaging in municipal politics instead of just one day in November every four years.

We can and should demand better of our officials, especially when Mayor Durkan promised transparency and public consult for appointments in writing to the Seattle People’s Party:

Too many politicians lie to get elected. See photos of the contract Jenny Durkan signed at the Seattle Peoples Party…

Posted by The Peoples Party on Tuesday, March 5, 2019

US priorities: infant jails instead of food; police instead of counselors and nurses

Children as young as five months old are detained by ICE. The facilities they’re imprisoned in, for the crime of moving, are known for inhumane treatment and outbreaks of infectious disease.  Children have died in facilities like Dilley. 471 parents were deported from US without their children during family separations and now the parents have returned, pleading for asylum and to be reunited with their children.

How did the US get here? ICE was founded by President Bush and expanded by Presidents Obama and Trump. However, the public appetite for violence against immigrants goes back to at least 1924 with the formation of the Border Patrol. Migration in the past was a tool for the acquisition of agricultural labor under the bracero program that let people temporarily move to the U.S. in order to work, but prevented those workers from establishing families and communities. Police violence kicked up during the Eisenhower administration with programs like “Operation Wetback” seeking to arrest and deport migrants who stayed. The pattern continued until today as police enforcement under ICE and guest labor programs like H-2A operate in full swing.

US capitalism has built and prided itself on using native, immigrant, black bodies as kindling. That has to end.

House Democrats move to censure Rep. Ilhan Omar for condemning US-Israel consensus on genocide.

For more than thirty years, there has been bipartisan support for Israel’s war crimes in Palestine. Too few criticize that ongoing alliance and the human toll taken in the West Bank. Still fewer condemn Prime Minister Netanyahu’s xenophobia, racism, or alliance with Otzma Yehudit, the ethnonationalist Jewish Supremacy party. His actions didn’t move many Democrats in the House of Representatives to act or lead the ruling coalition in the Knesset (Israel’s unicameral parliament) to the opposition.

One person who dared to ask why she must pledge allegiance to the ongoing US-Israel consensus against Palestinian life was Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN).

Rep. Omar said, and was forced to reiterate by pearl-clutching Democrats, that American representatives are forced to support policies by powerful political interests that reinforce the status quo in Israel and fail to make either Jewish Israelis or Palestinians Muslims safer (and most certainly not people who fall in-between or outside this narrow understanding of identity). She states, “I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is okay for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country.”

As to the controversy, we’ll turn to Paul Waldman:

For many years, Jews were routinely accused of having dual loyalty, to both the United States and Israel, as a way of questioning whether they were truly American and could be trusted to do things such as serve in sensitive national security positions.
That charge was anti-Semitic, because it was used to allege that every Jew was suspect, no matter what they thought about Israel, and that they could not be fully American because they were assumed to have too much affection for another country. It wasn’t about the particulars of U.S. policy or what Jews at the time were advocating; it was about who they (allegedly) were, their identity.

Now, back to Omar. Here’s the truth: The whole purpose of the Democrats’ resolution is to enforce dual loyalty not among Jews, but among members of Congress, to make sure that criticism of Israel is punished in the most visible way possible.

Paul Waldman

Why must Rep. Omar pledge to toe the party line on Israel to a far-right government as a woman of color who has known war personally? The Jewish diaspora is not a monolith in defending Israeli militarism into Palestine. Calls of anti-semitism have been used again and again whenever Israel is criticized.

As the DSA Jewish Solidarity Caucus writes: “As long as the Israeli state continues to militarily besiege, economically choke, and incessantly dispossess the Palestinian people, and as long as it does so with the full backing of the United States government, we need to speak out against these crimes.”

Fort Lawton Housing: on the ropes but not out

In a stunning 180 from last year, NIMBYs, land speculators, and homeowners showed up in force Monday to further water down and even privatize public lands at Fort Lawton. There was resistance, but the dynamics of the room changed. The decommissioned army plot represented a substantial return to the commons. It’s a cautionary tale: what happens when big shows of support dry up without ground-level, door-by-door organizing in neighborhoods and broad city-wide support. Fort Lawton could’ve been a slam dunk to get housing into Magnolia for the many, to develop public amenities and transit options for the existing neighborhood, and to reformulate the city away from its segregated past.

Fort Lawton isn’t lost. Not without a fight to ensure as much affordable housing goes in, even a mixture of city funds, charitable donations, and sweat-equity.  Materially, people need housing now. This is a fight that can still be won and is shovel-ready. This is still a working-class struggle against speculators to develop the commons for all.

To leave a public comment, please personalize your message, don’t use pre-generated text. Email and mail correspondence still counts toward the final weighting. We can and should argue tooth and nail for every last unit instead of letting luxury developers get their way. Please fight for Fort Lawton through its last avenue of approach:

Why are bosses allowed to dictate our lives?

Bosses recently won the ability to discriminate against employees based on clothing and hair. The court ruling began as a messed up refusal to hire someone with dreadlocks. Bosses not only steal the value workers produce but now have even more leverage over employees. There are messed up racial, religious, and gender implications if capitalists can refuse to hire someone over their hairstyle.

Employees are regularly asked to put aside their life and identity to make the capitalist class happy. Take Amazon avoiding daycare services for employees. When labor in the home is exploitatively divided along gender lines or when people are sole-caregivers to children, it may result in delays in training, promotion, or gaps in employment. Plus, more fundamentally, work is meant to serve human needs. People shouldn’t cast their life aside to survive. Kids (or pets or hobbies or friends) aren’t a noodley, unessential appendage to drag through life when not working.

The work is meant to support both the bare necessities and a full and dignified life. Workers deserve the bread — and the roses!


Note: The Seattle Hellhole represents the views of its writers and does not represent official positions of Seattle DSA at large. Its writers are a collective working on independent pieces, editing, and design to deliver this each week. If you want to volunteer, join us in #wg_comms_design on Slack or email [email protected]

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