A Super Tuesday to Rise Above Fear?

by William Skink

Today is the day, people. Across our beautiful state people are going to hashtag rise above fear to help the victims of US foreign policy flee the terrorist breeding ground called Syria. I’m sure that this rally coinciding with SUPER TUESDAY primary voting across the country is just a coincidence.

Partisans are still getting good mileage from this refugee issue. A former Montana Supreme Court Justice recently joined the fray with a guest post at Cowgirl. Here is Jim Nelson’s two concluding paragraphs:

There is the juxtaposition. On the one hand, the self-proclaimed “blessed child of God” viciously challenging another citizen to “Come and get it”— the America’s flag. And, on the other, our Statute of Liberty proclaiming to the world, “Come and get it”—freedom, solace, affirmance and refuge. The protester hoisting our flag in hate; and our Mother of Exiles uplifting her torch of imprisoned lightning welcoming to our shores all tempest-tossed huddled masses yearning to breathe free.

Each will decide who best represents his or her understanding of patriotism and proclaimed religious values. Each will decide what it means to be an American in an America of refugees and immigrants. We will build our walls and draw within ourselves, cowering in a stupor of ignorance, paranoia and schizophrenia. Or, we will rise in strength, committed to our highest and best values as Americans and stand with the mighty woman with the torch.

For me, the Lady has it right: “Come and get it.”

For me, neither side of this false dichotomy is worth supporting, but creating a dichotomy is politically advantageous–a version of the Bush declaration that you are either with us or against us.

The reasons for not supporting the anti-refugee factions are obvious: the threat they perceive is not real. The most cynical argument has been the alleged concern for American women, cynical because those making the argument probably overlap significantly with the religious ideology that would impose its will on wombs.

The reasons for not supporting the most recent hashtag campaign to rise above fear is probably less obvious, but I’ll take another stab at it.

If there was a genuine effort to rise above fear, I would be seeing some actual effort to understand where this fear is coming from. Instead what I see is what I’ve been pointing out: a persistent, politicized campaign to label and ridicule those sorry few who show up to stupid anti-refugee rallies as representative of the political opponents being competed with during this election season.

Nothing good will come from mocking people’s fear, especially since so much of the underlying insecurity is economic, which is an aspect of the fear that, for some reason, is hardly ever examined. I find it particularly disgusting that a former Montana Supreme Court Justice would conflate a serious mental illness like schizophrenia with opponents of relocating Syrian refugees to Montana.

(Jim, if you read this and would like to talk about Montana’s failure of a mental health system and the crisis happening in the jails and hospitals across the state, send me an email. I will educate you)

That’s the part of this forced dichotomy that neither side gets: you all need to be better educated about what is going on, and why.

Since I have the time, I think I’ll make my way to the rally today to check it out. I was going to bring a sign that said NEOLIBERALISM = REFUGEE CRISIS but I think I’ll just quietly observe the spectacle, knowing that after the primary results today our political choice in 2016 most likely will be between a racist billionaire and a neoliberal monster.

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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40 Responses to A Super Tuesday to Rise Above Fear?

  1. 01stevekelly says:

    Thank you for another excellent post. “Immigration” has become another perennial “wedge issue” that distracts us all from the underlying causes of people’s ligitimate fear that most of our systems and institutions are failing and hoplessly corrupt. I used to march and protest for peace, did it for decades. That essentially ended in January, 2009. Now there is almost no discussion and very little public dissent against neoliberalism, the New World Order, perpetual war, the Pentagon, CIA, NSA, or the many corporate war contractors that profit mightily from federal expenditures – your taxdollars. It’s an election year. Fear is the coin of the realm.

  2. JC says:

    Oh geez, you’re probably going to drag me to the rally after we have coffee… Maybe I should bring a sign that says “Obama+Clinton Regime Change Failure=Syrian Refugee Crisis”.

  3. The humanitarian approach is to stop causing the crisis.

  4. petetalbot says:

    You write of false dichotomies, Skink, but yours are perhaps the most egregious. In previous posts you talk about “kids in crisis” and the homeless and the mentally ill all needing help. Therefore, we should ignore the plight of Middle Eastern families and focus on the other existing problems. That’s like saying cancer is killing too many people so we need to ignore heart disease.

    Apparently, we can only tackle one crises at a time and Skink tells us what lives to value most:

    “Like many municipalities, Missoula has a 10 year plan to end homelessness, but the results have been lackluster so far. I guess helping people in need is just not as sexy as trying to save a few Syrian refugees.”

    Thanks for setting our priorities. I can only imagine that if a rally were held at the county courthouse to cut programs for “kids in crisis,” the homeless and the mentally ill, a counter-rally would take place demanding support for those programs. Right now, though, we need to respond to the anti-refugee actions that seem to be getting all the attention.

    Another false dichotomy is that a bunch of “liberal do-gooders” are ignoring the cause of the refugee crisis: American imperialism. I would suggest that the marchers in today’s rally don’t support our role in the Middle East, never have. Yes, American foreign policy has exacerbated the crisis in the Middle East, but our failed foreign policies don’t negate the immediate needs of the refugees. As a matter of fact, that makes it even more of our responsibility to relieve the suffering of those fleeing the carnage of their home countries.

    I predict hundreds of people at the rally today. They aren’t there to “label and ridicule” the anti-immigrant protesters, as Skink suggests, but to say that in our community we welcome diversity and stand against violence, fear and hate.

    Skink, you can be one of the bemused onlookers and JC, I welcome your “U.S. out of Middle East” sign.

    • where have I demanded that people “ignore” the refugee crisis? I’ve advocated for people understanding the refugee crisis. I’ve been tracking foreign policy best I can for years, warning for example that taking out Gaddafi in Libya would create chaos. now all of a sudden some moms in Missoula see a picture of a dead toddler and wouldn’t you know it during an election season people are finally paying attention–not to what created the problem in the first place–but the partisan value of rallying around a wedge issue.

  5. steve kelly says:

    You said: “Yes, American foreign policy has exacerbated the crisis in the Middle East, but our failed foreign policies don’t negate the immediate needs of the refugees. As a matter of fact, that makes it even more of our responsibility to relieve the suffering of those fleeing the carnage of their home countries.”

    Then, for Christ’s sake, attack the cause, relieve the suffering, stop the war!

    Yes, Republicans are getting all the attention. No, Democrats don’t “need to respond to the anti-refugee actions that seem to be getting all the attention.” That instantly reminded me of Munchausen by proxy syndrome. The bipartisan proxy wars in the Middle East are the direct cause of refugees fleeing the war zone we created. Stop the wars, solve the refugee problem. Democrats want none of that. They, like Republicans, like biennial wedge issues to keep the blame game going at the expense of the abused (Syrians, Libyans, Yemini, Palestinians, and so on).

    Munchausen by proxy syndrome (MBPS) is a relatively rare form of child abuse where the adult primary caregiver deliberately misleads others (particularly medical professionals), and/or actually cause symptoms in the child, commonly through overmedication or poisoning. MBPS is a mental illness that requires treatment. Diagnosis is made extremely difficult due to the the ability of the parent or caregiver to manipulate doctors and induce symptoms in the child.

    Either you’re being played, or you’re a player, which is it?

    • petetalbot says:

      Jumping on the false dichotomy bandwagon, I see, Steve. Yes, “stop the war!” But in the interim, what do we do about the flood of refugees? Or the xenophobia so prevalent in the words and actions of so many?

      “I used to march and protest for peace, did it for decades,” you say. Now you write about “neoliberalism, the New World Order, perpetual war, the Pentagon, CIA, NSA, or the many corporate war contractors that profit mightily from federal expenditures.”

      Thanks for your involvement and keep up your important work.

      • It’s a generalization, but far more true than not – Democrats live and breathe for that feeling of moral superiority that issues like this give them. So at once their leaders are causing the problem, and Pete says ignore that, we need to help the poor souls. Feels good, don’t it? And aren’t those opposed bedwetters, bigots and whiners? You just win win win Petey!

        One, we don’t know anything a out the refugees. There is considerable concern in Europe that they are young and male and agents provocateurs, sleepers for future attacks, Operation Gladio redux.

        Two, if you want to help them then urge the Obama people to build refugee camps, give them food and shelter while the Russians finish cleaning up the mess. There’s no need to move them, and especially no need for permanent relocation. Probably not reported in this country, but the terrorist forces in Syria have a supply line to Turkey and an odd ability to be fleeted up in Toyotas and to sell oil on the world market and acquire weapons from the Saudis. American attacks have been largely ineffective while the Russians have been deadly and effective. Looks like Americans are behind the terrorists, that they are a proxy force.

        You should read up in that Pete.

      • steve kelly says:

        If war is perpetual, what “interim” are you talking about? You’re being played, Pete. Sometimes you seem smarter than that, sarcasm and all…. I’ll write, you socialize. Have a nice day.

        • petetalbot says:

          You sound like Tokarski, “You’re being played, Pete.” You guys keep writing while I “socialize” with the 1000 people who attended the rally today; people you dismiss.

          My thoughts on the rally are these: political movements tend to start small. If this march was billed as halting “neoliberalism, the New World Order, perpetual war, the Pentagon, CIA, NSA, military-industrial complex” attendance would be pitiful. One has to seize the moment, which right now is the refugee issue. It’s the topic of news stories and conversation. From there you build coalitions — with environmentalists, labor, the peace community, LGBT, immigrants — who were all there today. Then, perhaps, you can address “the perpetual war” you mention.

          In the meantime, there are refugee families who are suffering. The “wedge issue” of which you speak.

        • Yeah, you’re being played, like usual. But damn Pete, don’t it feel good? You really got your moral superiority mojo going. You care, man. Others don’t. I definitely can feel those Democrat care bear juices going, like they were when Obama clubbed Libya like a baby seal. I remember you writing “man, it hurts to see so many people displaced … We should send them to Syria to cause another refugee crisis.” And that’s what happened! Prescient!

          And right, this manufactured issue is the beginning of a grassroots movement. You’ve also got movement politics figured out!

          God I love Democrats. Caring in action.

  6. petetalbot says:

    You know, Skink, we all have our crosses to bear. Over at Intelligent Discontent it’s LK. You know who I’m talking about. But it’s not my site so it’s not my call. Yours is Tokarski.

    I don’t mind getting in a discussion with you, JC, even Kelly. As soon as Tokarski joins the mix, I’m out of here. And he seems to have alienated everyone else in the blogosphere but you keep him around. Life’s too short for that fucking asshole. He isn’t worth the keystrokes.

    • Oh Pete, poor guy: the gentle art of making enemies is not without thought. I treasure each one. Friends are rare in life, people I want as friends even rarer. If I gave you the respect you think you’ve earned, I’d feel less than honorable. The blogosphere is rife with poseurs. You’re a moral coward. Look at you now and your moral posturing for the sake of refugees you know nothing about coming from a situation you know nothing about. Why is that something I should respect?

      I know you’re “out of here” and won’t come back to read this. Part of cowardice. But I would suggest everyone read my words above and ask why they drove Pete away? Was it a mere look in the mirror that set him off? I merely suggested the situation is more complex than he knows. And it is. He hates that – he hates it when he is called out for being short of smarts and study. He demands respect he has not earned.

      It is an extremely voluble situation where the US is at once creating a crisis and using it at home for wedge politics, but even worse, moving people around the globe for unstated reasons. That is the most troubling aspect. People in Europe are worried that the “refugees” are disproportionately young men. It all needs to stop

      • petetalbot says:

        Here’s what I believe happened to Tokarski. A long time ago, he tells us, he ran for some political office as a Democrat. He got beat. So now he hates the Democrats because they didn’t support him sufficiently. His loss had nothing to do, of course, with his sparkling personality or keen political insights. (I can see Mark at the doors, “Hi, I’m Mark Tokarski and I’m running for … Did you know that the moon landing was faked? Vote for me on Tuesday.”)

        That’s why I’m not going to engage with you. Not because of “cowardice” but because my Mama warned me not to get in pissing matches with the delusional.

        • steve kelly says:

          No one is stopping you from your dream of welcoming Syrian refugees and ending xenophobia. Maybe you can get a grant, start another NGO, and create a cottage industry importing exotic refugees to Missoula. Sweet!

        • Your projections are wrong. I got plenty of support from many quarters when I ran in1996. People wanted me to win. I was not a good candidate and got beat by a better politician, Peg Arnott. I decided after I lost not to run again because I did not have the political skills to win. My attitudes about Democrats would not gel until I supported Nader in 2000 and saw their true colors.

          Here is where I think you went south in me: Before you banned me, I mentioned Operation Gladio, and said you should look into it. You said you had. That was a lie, and I knew it, as you are not the type to actually question anything or do any thoughtful reading. So I said I doubted you had ever read anything about Gladio. You banned me.

          Here’s why you did it: What I said was true. That is the insult that cuts deepest with all of us, when people know things about us that are true. That really pissed you off. You are a phony and I knew it. It is my knowing it that infuriates you.

          It is true of me too – if you ever say anything true about me, it will sting.

          And yes, the moon landings were faked. Anyone with a brain can figure that out. You might too someday.

    • I think at ID your problem is the fucking asshole who runs the site. adios.

      • petetalbot says:

        Yeah, but Skink, what would you do for content here if you didm’t have ID?

        • yep, despite all the efforts to shut me up, I keep writing. but now that I am free to write more directly about local issues, maybe I’ll finally start telling some of the stories I’ve been sitting on for years.

        • petetalbot says:

          I have no desire to shut you up and look forward to the stories you’ve been sitting on for years.

        • you can claim that, but whether or not I believe you is up to me. and I don’t.

    • steve kelly says:

      Pete, I’m sure you are more popular in Missoula than I. But with popularity (socialization)comes compromise of important personal things that require stamina, vigilance and conviction — things I yield to no one, nor should you. But that is your choice.

      You believe Democrats will unite “environmentalists, labor, the peace community, LGBT, immigrants,” while I am convinced otherwise by personal experience and hard evidence, which is obviously of little use to a true believer. Your religious beliefs are your right as an individual, and certainly none of my business. I will not argue religion with you.

      • petetalbot says:

        No, Skink, you’ve “advocated” for are the issues important to you: homelessness and mental health. Serious problems, no doubt, but all other issues become “wedge issues” unless they fall into categories vetted by you.

        Oh, there are those foreign policy posts, too, having a huge impact on the refugee crisis and making a big difference in electoral politics here in Big Sky Country.

        • homelessness and mental health shouldn’t just be issues important to me, they should be issues that are important to this supposedly progressive community. but this is an election season and we wouldn’t want to talk about problems facing this town and this state while also trying to reelect a Governor, now would we? so it will be more important for Montana Democrats to depict Montana as doing just fine. but we aren’t doing fine, and I have the direct experiences to make that case. if in making that case some local politicians are exposed as the frauds they are, well, that’s just how the cookie crumbles.

        • steve kelly says:

          Almost nothing we do here in Big Sky Country makes a big difference in electoral politics. Perhaps we should not forget that Montanans have died and continue to die as a direct result of our foreign policy, including those who take their own lives long after their tour of duty is over. Then there are those unlucky local-resident souls — millions — who died in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Ukraine and countless other countries who never attacked the U.S. Does all this become background noise if we chant Syrian refugees enough times? How conveniently lame.

        • yeah Steve, apparently it’s easier to make fun of someone who actually pays attention to what this country is doing across the globe than it is to honestly assess how electing Democrats has had any impact on stopping the madness abroad.

        • petetalbot says:

          Do either you or Steve actually comprehend what I’ve been saying in my comments? Yes, homelessness and mental health issues need to be addressed. Yes, American foreign policy needs to change.

          But the issue at hand, right now, is the xenophobia expressed by certain groups and some candidates toward thousands of refugee families.

          If you continue to show disdain for the efforts of many to address this crisis, I doubt very seriously that they’re support your issues when problems like homelessness and mental health are in the headlines.

          And Christ, Kelly, do you actually believe that folks supporting refugee resettlement have no understanding of the toll these foreign incursions have taken both here and abroad? How simplistic your thinking is.

          Both you and Skink suffer from a myopic view of what needs to be important to all of the people all of the time.

        • and why is this “the issue at hand” right now? if Montana is unlikely to even receive any refugees, and if we do, not for at least 2 years, then why right now?

        • steve kelly says:

          Pete, it is you trying to make something simple into something unecessarily complex. Stop the wars. Simple. It solves many problems. What is wrong with simple thought when that will suffice. Nor is it myopic to attack the root cause of a problem. I really don’t care what you or your 1,000 marchers do. Worship whatever god or cause you like. I will have opinions from time to time. Life is simple and good. Hope you’re feeling better soon.

        • petetalbot says:

          No, Steve, you are trying to make something simple into something unnecessarily complex. We just want to welcome refugees and stop the xenophobia. You want us to change foreign policy, stop all wars and solve the world’s problems. Why don’t you get right on that.

        • You’re claiming that not wanting to welcome the refugees is “xenophobia.” I know you’re not able to deal with me, but that is your problem. I do not equate refusal to accept refugees with xenophobia, and and willing to bet your or anyone that you cannot logically equate the two. There is no reason why we have to accept refugees, plenty of legitimate reasons why we should not, and none of it has anything to do with prejudice.

          And you cannot demonstrate otherwise. Your refuge in moral superiority fails. We are good people and do not want the refugees.

        • petetalbot says:

          “We are good people and do not want the refugees,” proclaims Tokarski. Good? Don’t include me or thousands of others in your delusions.

          “There is no reason why we have to accept refugees, plenty of legitimate reasons why we should not, and none of it has anything to do with prejudice,” says Tokarski. It has everything to do with prejudice. If they were Yugoslavian models, like Trump’s most recent wife, you’d accept them in a minute and you know it. But these darker-skinned people with their funny ways? Forget about it. You’re a hypocrite and a xenophobe.

        • That is 100% projection, and 100% wrong. I have no prejudice regarding skin color or country of origin, or even against a beautiful Slovenian woman. Most people who come to this country are fleeing American foreign policy elsewhere, as with NAFTA and Mexico, Cuba and the embargo, and now Syria and the American-backed terror attacks on that country.

          The problem: it appears that they are playing jujitsu with good impulses, and using a desire to help people to move undesireables accross borders – not women and children, but young men who could be sleepers, provocateurs. Europeans are calling it an invasion.

          That in mind, a wise policy choice is simply to care for them in their homeland while Russia restores order. Equally humane, and has the advantage of being cautious. I could be wrong about the nature of the refugees, but prudence dictates that we not allow them free passage.

  7. Big Swede says:

    Love to have a conversational response to the Honorable Mr. Nelson on how paying billions of dollars to resettle refugees who tradionary don’t assumulate into our culture is the same as our desendents who landed at Ellis Island.

    “Yearning to be free” seems to be the last thing on their minds.

    • JC says:

      Did your descendants assimilate into native tribal culture? Jus’ saying’…

      Actually, why is it necessary for immigrants/refugees to assimilate into current american culture? The beauty of immigration is that it brings diversity and vibrance to the culture we have.

      “Assimilation” like many people believe/desire means for immigrants to give up their culture. I’d say that one just needs to go to Butte on St. Patrick’s day (or New Orleans during Mardi Gras), or see the Hmong at the Missoula Farmer’s Market to observe that did not happen to many immigrant groups.

      • Big Swede says:

        Actually no, they were’nt nomads and had invented the wheel.

        • JC says:

          Funny that, the Wampanoag (who fed the Pilgrims that one cold winter…) were settled agrarians with rich gardens of corn, beans squash and other veggies, and traveled a bit to fish and hunt. Actually, sounds much like you and your family.

          As to the wheel, most accounts have it being first discovered and utilized first as a toy in the Ukraine area by a bunch of neolithic, goddess-worshipping and egalitarian pagans.

          So, are you saying you’re descended from goddess-worshipping pagans? Nice!

        • Big Swede says:

          Still never forged steel, piped water, used wheels, and moved when the poop piled up.

        • Swede, you would not have thought much of our living conditions prior to state and local governments and civil engineers tackling the poop problem. We were knee deep in our own and that of horses.

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