There. Are you happy? That’s the new name for this site.
A certain minority of well-meaning, but seemingly non-confrontational types have volunteered some reservations about the name of this news magazine – The Siege. The rationale is that the current title is too in-your-face, too incendiary, too inclined to raise the hackles of those who believe that calm, diplomatic discourse is always the best way. If the name isn’t nice, then some people won’t play.
The Siege, by the way, didn’t ask for the advice. People with greater insight just offered it, to help.
It seems that, for them, more provocative stances must come much, much later in the process, you know, after we’ve chatted things up interminably.
No doubt those who took exception to being rounded up and taken to Dachau and Auschwitz thought the proper way to register their dissenting position was polite dialogue. I remember my father, who was captured at Corregidor in WWII and was marched to Cabana Tuan, where he spent a good portion of the next 3 ½ years struggling to survive the horrors of a Japanese prison camp, said he was only about politeness.
Something more current?
Take modern-day Sudan. Just because we, once again (Hey, I thought it was supposed to be “Never Again?!” It seems the “never” part only applies to groups who have: a powerful U.S. lobby, strategic importance, critical P.R. savvy, and aren’t generally an ethnic group of color.), are witnessing genocide for month after month, YEAR AFTER YEAR, wouldn’t it be smarter for those about to be raped and slaughtered to courteously conversate (just trying to help a neologism, commonly used by fellow college students, find traction in print) about their differences with their executioners? Can’t they just all get along?
Of course, these people’s only recourse was/is to politeness while pleading for some humanity on their path to personal horror. Any other option most likely inhibited their ability to pass Go and collect $200.
Wait, wait, wait you object. Bad argument. And uh, a little over-dramatic by comparison you say? These are extreme cases, not remotely possible in the “Land of the Free” (which naturally, in provincial America, is really all that matters). Really? Here’s a name for you: Jose Padilla, U.S. citizen. Held in a U.S. military prison since May 8, 2002. No charges were brought for three years and he had no access to a lawyer or his family during that time. Are those the rules you learned in grade school? No, but it is a direct threat to and violation of our Constitution.
And what about the untold numbers of black men lynched – literally and metaphorically – since our proud country began enslaving them? Think that’s over?
And a large number of minority groups in this country, who seldom get any fair press in this land where a male-dominated patriarchal stranglehold exists on the nation’s mainstream media outlets, would argue that historical and continuing atrocities to their people are notoriously swept under the rug, and too often given cursory attention by authorities who should care.
And not to be left out is our persistent, unjustified, and illegal aggression, our violation of international law (which is thus our law, by the way) against Iraq and its people.
This list of outrages could, and does, comprise whole books.
So at what point is direct confrontation appropriate? When do we kick to the curb our concern for etiquette and begin truth-speaking, unvarnished by an obsession for a glossy sheen? At what point along the way of getting screwed-over should victims justifiably stop passing tea and crumpets and more affirmatively declare their disquiet? At what point does one reach zero tolerance? At what point does a victim say “enough?”
The Siege joins the chorus of voices who declare that point is long since past.
But here at Mayberry SMC, many people wonder why we can’t keep our quiet little college purring along in its quiescent and docile, Leave-It-to-Beaver-like state-of-stupor, just the way it is? Everybody gets along, people are happy – two spurious statements most certainly. We pat each other on the back about our transfer stats. (The last board of trustees meeting had some peculiar make-a-claim-and-catch-up-to-it later confessions by SMC’s P.R. guys on this point.) Politicos, administration, and trustees smile at one another and say sweet complimentary things they don’t mean. And yes, admittedly the flow of information on the campus may be on life-support, but the gossip mill is humming along quite nicely, don’t you think? (The latest one on the publisher of The Siege is that he is the Antichrist.)
So I’m convinced. “Gramma’s Happy Flower Garden” seems quite the swell answer.
We’ll stay with “The Siege.” Thanks anyway. And here’s just some of the reasons why.
The world is passing through very treacherous times. And if you don’t think so, you are not plugged into the myriad channels of easily triangulated-for-truth alternative media outlets educating those who truly want to know, as opposed to the masses of people idling comfortably in their fantasies that the mainstream media are actually contributing to
their informed consent instead of undermining it.
Our infant nation is suffering radical departures from the ideals and intentions of our founding fathers and the refinements fought for and won by heroes of the republic since our country’s inception. More and more Americans are ashamed by what passes for leadership in the White House and the halls of Congress and the terrible decisions these people are making in the name of the United States.
Corporate values, instead of life values, drive and are in control of our country, and too much of the world. Instead of the advancements of humanity servicing an overall improvement in the quality of life on this planet, human beings are being conditioned and manipulated to service a vast corporate machine, as mere cogs in that machine, for the benefit of very few.
The flaccid response of the Democratic Party to across-the-board criminality of the George Bush regime and its enabling accomplices of Republican brethren fails to inspire any hope of a near-future turnaround. Democrat Senators Barack Obama, Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton – for starters – couldn’t run and hide quickly enough when lone Congressional hero Russ Feingold asked the Senate to censure the president, a man actually deserving of impeachment and imprisonment for crimes against humanity.
And these folks want to vie for the top spot in 2008. They want to lead us. Jesus. (As a special feature of The Siege, this is an optional appeal to divinity. Feel free to input your chosen vehicle for the godhead – Allah, Osiris, Bill O’Reilly, Kobe Bryant.)
The United States will not forever endure with such cowardice and dishonor slithering down the corridors of our government and posing as our leaders.
Dear Elliot Spitzer, attorney general of New York, giant slayer and defender of the people,
Please, please run for and become the president of the United States in 2008. We need someone with a proven record, like yours, of forever protecting the people’s interests. That reduces the pool to a mere handful of candidates - you being the best of the group.
Just a small request.
In the meantime, rapidly changing political and economic alignments across the globe have potentially devastating consequences to the long-term fortunes of average U.S. citizens. (Wealthy U.S. citizens, you get to play by different rules than the rest of us who are being, or have been, squeezed out of the middle class, so no need to sweat. Whew! That was a close one, huh?)
Foreboding possible futures are moving closer to reality which would further undermine our country’s well-being. Countries such as Venezuela and Iran are considering exchanging their oil for euros instead of dollars. I guess they grow tired of our threats. And others, growing increasingly weary of our arrogant unilateralism, could follow. Many believe THIS is one of the main and underreported reasons we invaded Iraq. Such a development wouldn’t be good for America since much of the world is based on the dollar standard. Were the euro to supplant the dollar as the international medium of exchange, it would make the Great Depression in the U.S. seem like a recreational outing.
But we aren’t good global citizens at the moment. (Well, more like decades – it’s just worse now – and a long list there is of countries our government has criminally violated during that time, but that’s a different story.)
China, India, and other developing countries are empowering their labor force at rates contributing to the further decline of American labor. Israel wants to carve up territory not theirs, but occupied by them, which will result in three to five separate impossible-to-govern Palestinian territories, to insure a Jewish majority. And Zionism is not racism, remember? That one cracks The Siege up. It goes on and on.
On a more micro scale, Mayberry SMC may be the beneficiary of a high transfer rate (the highest?) of community colleges to four-year universities, but the school is seriously neglected in too many other areas.
Our highly esteemed professors, the ones beloved by a student body relatively unaware (at the moment, but that is about to change) of their plight – the ones most responsible for enabling the high transfer rate – continue to be stiffed (20 months and counting) by the board of trustees regarding a fair labor contract. This stand-off threatens to get much more consequential in the near future if the new college president, Dr. Tsang, can’t resolve things very soon. The clock ticks every more loudly.
The SMC police department has way too many incompetent, bullying, disrespectful, and abusive officers (e.g. Sgt. Trump and officers Malone, Echeverria, Hearn, and Champagne) who stifle student empowerment and contribute to a culture of fear and intimidation. This author knows four students who have suffered from the excesses and abuse of Malone alone, and that’s without even trying to find any victims. Chief Judith Miller’s department continues to fail to responsively field citizen complaints – a violation of California’s penal code.
But who in the administration or on the board of trustees cares? Instead of hearing the trustees effectively deliberate these crucial issues, a citizen could witness dog-and-pony shows like the one the trustees gave themselves (and what seemed even more to be an effort to delay and outwait a faculty audience chomping at the bit to express their growing outrage during public comment about the failed contract negotiations) at their last board meeting. The administration and trustees are only hurting the school by their casual indifference to these, and other problems, such as:
The Office of Student Life, which like the SMCPD, falls under the jurisdiction of the Vice-President of Student Affairs, Dr. Robert Adams, is nightmarishly mismanaged and run by advisors who have failed to demonstrate competency to guide or effectively model leadership for hapless would-be student leaders.
Assistant Dean of Student Life Deyna Hearn continues to remain ignorant about important specifics of the Brown Act, and thus continues to violate it. Violating the Brown Act is a crime. A crime. Got that? And her negligence has resulted in the student board of directors being participants and perpetrators of the crimes as well. How can she justify her irresponsibility, after three years on the job, of continuing to run her office unlawfully? She needs to be fired, or at least re-assigned.
The same goes for Dr. Robert “Bobbie” Adams. These violations occur under his watch. Who is monitoring these individuals? It’s inexcusable.
And the quick-to-anger Benny Blaydes seems never to tire of his penchant for threatening students, or closing nose-to-nose with a (this) student who has spoken truths Blaydes doesn’t want to hear. His behavior is one helluva model for students to witness. What’s going to happen when there are no cooler heads in the vicinity to intervene and get him to back off? Blaydes’ open flirtation with committing battery on a (this) student is an open wound on the body politic of SMC.
Here’s some words that will soon, hopefully, have greater meaning for Brown, Hearn, Blaydes and the A.S. Board of Directors: The Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office, Division of Public Integrity.
Well maybe you are right. Maybe such facts shouldn’t be delivered so directly. (It should be known that this author spent last spring writing about campus problems for the Corsair, to little avail. The school paper is generally irrelevant to the whole process and read by few at the college. During this past fall, I attended A.S. meetings religiously, making regular comments about problems. “Thank you,” following the sound of a gavel pounding repeatedly, was all the response I ever got.) What about diplomacy? These people have feelings, after all. Many others like them too. Admire them even. The Siege has witnessed them being funny, charming, yada, yada, yada.
If The Siege only had more patience. That’s what’s needed here, isn’t it? If The Siege kindly suggested that, “pardon me, something seems amiss,” maybe the responsible authorities would step up, do a quick, but thorough and professional investigation, and make the requisite adjustments. Perhaps somebody could look into things and get back to The Siege before its publisher transfers to a four-year university. Wouldn’t such a friendly, touchy-feely approach keep everyone smiling? Can’t we all be in agreeance (another favorite student neologism – just helping the language grow) about this?
Here’s the rub. One of the favorite tactics of avoidance from those entrenched in their malfeasance or dereliction-of-duty at SMC is to delay. Delay, delay, delay. And then delay some more: “Thanks for the information. I’ll check into that and get back to you.” Ever heard that? Some examples:
- Exhibit #1: I filed a formal complaint with the SMCPD against Sgt. Trump and Officer Echeverria in late October 2005 regarding their mishandling of a battery complaint I made. Over ONE MONTH LATER, I was finally interviewed, and heard Sgt Bays (He’s one of the good guys. Fire Miller and replace her with Bays says The Siege.) read me conflicting reports written by the officers, in addition to outright lies they told. Chief Miller told me a few days after the incident when I called, that “It’ll be at least two weeks before we can investigate your complaint.” Not exactly responsive. No final resolution has ever been communicated to me, over a half a year later.
- Exhibit #2: Immediately following one of the final ICC meetings in the fall, I challenged Benny Blaydes to tell me where it is written, in any law or regulation, that he or Hearn have any authority to create rules or regulations for the student constituency. He assured me they were there – although he had no clue of where at the time – and insisted he’d get back to me with that information. And that was the last of that.
The SMC “Upstart-Student Deterrence Strategy” is this: Students who get critical of things, nonetheless, pass through the campus relatively quickly, around two years. Threaten them if you don’t like their words or behavior. Most will withdraw to change their soiled britches and never utter a peep again. If threats of suspension are ineffective, see if you can come up with something to justify actual suspension. The SMCPD is eager to help. If all else fails, just wait em out. It’s generally an effective tactic. The Siege sees it in action all the time.
Important point: This writer has been admitted to UC Berkeley for fall classes. Surely The Siege will move on, and its pain-in-the-ass nuisance-of-a-publisher and probable Antichrist will be gone as well. The strategy will work, once again. What student wouldn’t just move on in the fall? We’re talking Berkeley here.
Eh, the answer to that question is this student.
The Siege has a number of yet unfinished projects regarding increasing the well-being, empowerment and culture of the sleeping community of SMC. (Okay, so I’ve have taken to the conceit of using “The Siege” as an occasional self-reference. Sue me.) I’d love to go to Berkeley, but sometimes community service overrides personal advantage. Ideally the school will accept my appeal to enter during the spring 2007 term.
So The Siege will stick around for awhile, speaking truth, as much and as clearly as possible, especially to those parties who continue to undermine what SMC is and, more importantly, what is could be. The Siege will solicit posts, comments, and contributions from those courageous and caring souls at SMC who realize that these things need more open discussion for the health of every constituency at the college, and for any sense of community to exist.
So that’s that. It stays The Siege. Don’t bother asking why its name can’t be more gosh-darn nice and pleasing to all. I’m occupied with the heretofore mentioned campaigns of social justice. But do help, do step up with contributions, do join in and be an active citizen of an awakening Santa Monica College community.
PS: Be it known, that “Mo’s Pleasant Little Frolic in the Park,” is still under consideration as the site name.
PSS: Confession. The Siege started the whole Antichrist rumor heretofore mentioned. Just funnin’ ya. Can’t take a joke? Sue me.