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Indybay Feature

Appeased Fresno?

by kelly borkert
Local peace group declines to endorse Dec. 10th Human Rights Day actions in Fresno.
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)
Article 25
Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control. Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.


December 10, 2009, activists, supporters and homeless citizens of Fresno will come together to mark Human Rights Day with a focus on the right to housing that the City of Fresno gladly extends to developers, banks and realty interests, while depriving such consideration to the throngs of homeless widely seen throughout the city. Many of whom will be forced again to move from a downtown encampment on Dec 16, with no alternative site or temporary housing arrangements being made, despite millions of dollars brought in specifically to deal with this problem.



Not entirely shocking in light of the City's history of attacking the homeless over the last 8 years. What is shocking, is the failure to support this day of action by the group known as Peace Fresno. As plans were still being solidified for local action by homeless citizens and their supporters, news was relayed that Peace Fresno had decided against endorsing the event because of concerns that laws may be broken in the course of civil disobedience intended to highlight the gross disparities between a broken but bailed out banking system that collapsed under its own unregulated corruption, and the innocent bystanders who have had their homes foreclosed, and their economy mismanaged, by the same lenders who took their houses as well as government bailout funds.



As bad as the situation is for all citizens in the current economy, the decision by Peace Fresno made a bad situation even more bitter for those who know the relatively recent history of local activism and struggles for justice in Fresno. For some, it was just another misstep by people whose focus appears to be misplaced. For others, it could be interpreted as another reason to believe Peace Fresno is conciously unconcerned with the root tenents of social justice movements.



When non-violent resistance to brutal oppression, military or paramilitary aggression and even genocide is considered a sacrosanct or simply necessary approach, there are a limited number of valuable options available. Some may even be requisite. The closest thing to a nuclear option in the arsenal of peaceful social justice advocates is almost certainly solidarity, followed closely by commonly used tactics such as civil disobedience. Although the United States has implemented drastic measures in the last decade, it would seem the peace movement should still embrace its constitutionally guaranteed rights and freedoms to speak up for those in more fragile circumstances, whether across the globe or down the street.



Certainly, little explanation of the importance of civil disobedience should be necessary to literate adults of conscience familiar with the civil rights struggles of the 1960's and all the way through today's climate of fostered intolerance towards LGBT communities. Contemporary advocates of CD surely include both Cindy Sheehan and Code Pink, who have appeared locally a time or two recently, and with the assistance of Peace Fresno found themselves on display in what might be seen as clumsy locations. Out of sight in plain view on Blackstone and Shaw, mingling with Going Out of Business sign wavers, religious zealots on megaphone, and an equal or larger crowd of Halloween store "zombie" employees- all adding up to a rather confusing display of signs, most quite more easily read than the 30 foot banner held by Code Pink, or their well painted transportation parked strategically behind trees. This event was followed by a more recent action east of the Fresno Yosemite International airport, minus any available parking and considerble traffic flow that now diverts on the new 180 freeway. But, for better or for worse, at least these practitioners of civil disobedience had the support of Peace Fresno.



In the slightly longer view of recent history, a source of considerable irony is the fact that Peace Fresno (as were many other local organizations) was the recipient of some funds

from the settlement which arose from The GAP protestors mass arrests at Fashion Fair Mall.

This alone makes Peace Fresno look quite hypopcritical and suspect in their decision not to endorse the Human Rights Day event December 10 in Fresno.



As 8 years of resistance to the unchecked imperial initiatives of the United States government passed by, Peace Fresno can claim few victories. But that assumes their agenda is truly one of achieving peace and justice within our lifetimes. If their actions were to be examined in the careful manner that others have been, they may be found to be a different sort of success, the kind that fools people into thinking they are doing something, when they are really being neutralized. Knowing many of the primary movers in Peace Fresno personally, as greatly informed, sincerely concerned people, it would be an outright lie to accuse them of perfidy. But comparing their actions and inactions to known perpetrators of cointelpro style disruption and destabilization within social movements, a less informed observer could draw some dark conclusions that would be difficult to declaim.



Without solidarity, non-violent change is quite likely impossible. With a history of questionable, sometimes undemocratic decision making by Peace Fresno, it might behoove interested activists to think for themselves, and weigh their own contributions carefully.

No matter how many lives are at stake, or where they live, the power of people to gather and speak against injustice needs to be utilized as effectively as possible. Life at best is short, and time precious. Peace Fresno should reevaluate their decision making and their relationship to the community of activists in Fresno, if their intentions are true to their statements.
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by Val Maylone
I am a member of the Board of Directors of Peace Fresno.

The question as to whether or not Peace Fresno should assist in the organization of the Dec. 10th Human Rights Day actions in Fresno (as put forth by Mike Rhodes) was discussed and brought to a vote. Four abstained from voting, four voted for it, four voted against it. This forced the President of Peace Fresno to vote, and the President abstained. Therefore, it did not pass.

My take is that some of the voting membership present at that meeting did not feel that they had the authority OR THE RIGHT to speak for the entire membership as to whether or not Peace Fresno should assist in the execution of illegal activities.

This should be decided by each individual privately.

So, you can still expect to see a number of Peace Fresno members individually supporting, organizing and publicizing these actions. Those who believe that this kind of attention could have been acquired by legal means may abstain.

Remember, Peace Fresno was not involved in the planning of these events. Acquiring our assistance was presented to us as an "either or" proposition. All of the voting membership approved of the message, but we disagreed on the method. I don't see hypocrisy in what we did.

In that meeting, we were representing the entire membership, which is a great responsibility. How can we commit the entire membership of Peace Fresno to even tacitly approve engagement in illegal activities when even the Board of Directors was split? On the other hand, everyone would have voted to endorse actions which were not illegal.

If you want more people to organize, endorse, support, publicize, and participate in your media grabbing events, you should remember that people will balk at breaking the law or being a party to an illegal action. The leadership of groups like Peace Fresno have a duty to allow their membership to make that kind of decision on their own without us imposing such a stance on unwitting members.


Love,

Val
by Val Maylone
Whoopsie! Forgot to mention that any similar 501(c)(3) or (4) organization that officially participates in the event as described will undoubtedly risk losing their tax-exempt status.

Love,

Val
by roots radical
The laws are made by the people who have caused all of these problems. Their comes a time when you can't just play the loopholes anymore and have to break laws in order to actually make change and progress. The Dec. 10 situation is one where two different problems--both caused by the capitalist class--are each others solution. The powers that be have been inactive and unable to solve either of these problems, so now the people begin to take direct action and solve their own problems.
Wasn't it "illegal" for Rosa Parks to not move to the back of the bus?
The time to take a stand and do something is now, those who oppose action just get in the way.
by Mike Rhodes (editor [at] fresnoalliance.com)
I have friends on both sides of this issue and I would like to think that at the end of the day we all will support the December 10 Human Rights Day event in Fresno. I think everyone here will agree that housing (as described in the declaration above) is a Human Right. I think we all will agree that the City of Fresno is not doing all it can to end homelessness and that their planned eviction of homeless people from the Ventura and F street encampment (9 days before Christmas) is a serious step in the wrong direction.

Let me be clear - there is nothing ILLEGAL about the event we are going to hold on Thursday, December 10. The current plan is for us to hold a press conference, connect Human Rights Day with the right of housing, make the argument that there are plenty of available vacant houses in Fresno, that the political and economic system has failed to provide adequate housing for the people that need it, make a proposal on how to end homelessness (see below), and we will announce that there are homeless people who are living in some of these bank owned, foreclosed, and vacant houses. But, the plan is NOT to take the media to one of these houses and we will not, at this time, encourage the homeless to take over these houses. As you can see, our event plans have evolved, do to the input of the people attending the planning meetings.

Our proposal will include a call on the police and sheriffs departments to stop evicting people due to foreclosures. I also expect us to propose that the owners (banks, real estate companies, individuals, etc) of any vacant houses in the Fresno/Clovis area allow homeless families to live in the houses as caretakers until they are sold. When a house is sold, the homeless family will move to another home within 20 days. We believe these are practical and realistic solutions that would, if implemented, end homelessness. Contrast this approach with the City of Fresno who has just posted eviction notices to the city's largest homeless encampment, forcing the residents to leave 9 days before Christmas. The city offers them nowhere to go. Just leave.

We will illustrate the number of available vacant houses in the community with a map and we will say that if the city does not do more to end homelessness in 14 days (which will be Christmas Eve) we will print up the maps and make them available.

So, that is the current plan. We invite Peace Fresno members and all homeless advocates to attend the next planning meeting for the Dec 10 event. That meeting will be held on Sunday, December 6 at 4 p.m. at the Pam Kincaid Center, on the southwest corner of Mariposa and B street in West Fresno.
by Bill Simon
Kelly's comments bring to mind two experiences.

The first was during the last presidential campaign when John McCain was coming to town. Peace Fresno mounted a demonstration at the hotel where he would be speaking. We showed up at the sidewalk by the front door. A police officer said we couldn't stand there because it wasn't a public sidewalk. So I called a staff attorney at the ACLU-NC for advice. He said: "Decide why you are there. If you are demonstrating for free speech, stand your ground and appeal to the Pruneyard Decision. After a year or more of devoting all your time, energy, and financial resources to the court case, you might well win. If, on the other hand, you are protesting a war go find a public sidewalk." Before I could explain what he said to my comrades, the police officer said: "You don't want to be here anyway. McCain is coming in the back door and there's a public sidewalk there." Case closed.

I generally don't think much is accomplished by planning to get arrested. But I'll never forget the other experience. One May day in 2007, Kathy Kelly spoke in Fresno, the very day Congress was voting once again to fund the Iraq War. Everyone I knew was of course disgusted, angry, and speaking in four letter words. The next morning I watched Kathy Kelly on the computer. She was overjoyed. "Look at all those congresspeople who voted against the funding for the first time!" It was worth sitting in at their offices and getting arrested."

The important thing is to pick your battles, but keep battling.
by kelly
Come on Val. Youre WAY OFF characterizing activities as illegal, media grabbing, yellow journalism and whatever your other cheap shots were. I hope you receive and consider better counsel than you seem to be following. Has Peace Fresno that many feet left to shoot?
You are making some serious mistakes following this tack.
by Dan
If Val is accurately reporting what is/was proposed (encouraging homeless people to break into other people's property--vacant homes), then he's right. Trespass is a crime. And, burglary--for whatever reason--is a felony in the state of California. People who facilitate the commission of a felony can find themselves in deep trouble.
by Mike Rhodes (editor [at] fresnoalliance.com)
If you want to see what is going to happen at the December 10 Human Rights Day event, go to: http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2009/12/03/18631328.php

That is a fair and accurate statement of purpose about the event. There is nothing illegal about saying the economic and political system has failed to address the issue of homelessness in Fresno. There is nothing illegal about making suggestions about how to end homelessness. There is nothing illegal about printing a map that shows where bank owned foreclosed homes are located in the Fresno area.

As I have said before, the idea started out that we would hold a press conference at an abandoned bank owned property, but that plan changed. The press conference will instead be held at the Pam Kincaid Neighborhood Center at 1026 Mariposa street in downtown Fresno at 2 p.m. on Thursday, December 10. If you want to help end homelessness, you are encouraged to attend.

by Paul Boden
It is interesting to see all the discussion about "inciting the homeless" to commit a crime. Homeless people are pretty darn intelligent when it comes to the law and no amount of planning by ANY organization is going to dictate what we do....BUT the reality in the life of a homeless person in Fresno and evry other town is that evrywhere we sleep is deemed to be trespassing. squatting, illegal, a health hazard, camping, etc etc etc...
Imagine what it feels like to be "ileagally" sleeping outdoors and walking past vacant homes as you try to get away from the cops or private security dudes. It stinks!! and you look at it (as a homeless person) and you wonder "where did the family or person end up after the bank kicked them out" I wish we had the strength to show the whole community how messed up this irony of empty homes and people in the street really is.
Now comes December 10th and a community effort to bring this travesty to light....housing is a commodity and poverty is a protected cause for denying people a place to live. Homes sit empty while corporations speculate and homeless people die on our streets.
No group will lose their 501 c 3 status because they supported a public event that coincides with a direct action where some people commit an act of civil disobedience....as Susan B. Anthony said..."Cautious careful people always casting about to preserve their reputation and social standing never can bring about reform"..
No organization will be breaking any law (maybe they should, maybe not, but they won't) nor will any be "inciting" homeless people to do so...BUT an immoral housing policy in America will be exposed and the people who expose it can really use your support and your witness to ensure they are treated fairly by the police.
by John Crockford
The following paragraph taken from an article I just read seems appropriate as a comment here.

"Liberals are a useless lot. They talk about peace and do nothing to challenge our permanent war economy. They claim to support the working class, and vote for candidates that glibly defend the North American Free Trade Agreement. They insist they believe in welfare, the right to organize, universal health care and a host of other socially progressive causes, and will not risk stepping out of the mainstream to fight for them. The only talent they seem to possess is the ability to write abject, cloying letters to Barack Obama—as if he reads them—asking the president to come back to his 'true' self. This sterile moral posturing, which is not only useless but humiliating, has made America’s liberal class an object of public derision."
by Val Maylone
For the record:

I have heavily contributed both time and money to Peace Fresno for the last three years. This year, I ran for the Board of Directors because I believe in Peace Fresno and what it stands for. Peace Fresno represented itself to be a proponent of fair honourable dealings and the Democratic Process.

When Peace Fresno was asked to endorse the Dec. 10 event, this is what we were told the event would engender:

"There will be a Human Rights Day event in Fresno focusing on housing as a human right. Rather than have a symbolic candle light vigil at the Federal Building, a group of homeless people are going to takeover a bank owned, foreclosed, abandoned house. A press conference will be called drawing attention to the need for housing the homeless and how the economic and political system has failed. There are thousands of abandoned houses in this city and thousands of people living on the streets every day. Meet at the Pam Kincaid Neighborhood Center, 1026 Mariposa Street in west Fresno at 2 p.m. to caravan from there to the foreclosed house."

Peace Fresno was split on committing the entire organization to endorsement. The deciding vote was executed by the President, who was informed that her vote was allowed according to Robert's Rules of Order. She decided to abstain from voting, which caused the motion to fail. At that time, FOUR informed Peace Fresno Board Members voted against the motion to endorse the above illegal action. And it is illegal.

Another meeting, another vote, another proposed Scenario:

This time, Gerry Bill (a Peace Fresno Board Member) was asked to present the plan decided at the meeting of the organizers of the event, which he attended. He indicated at length that there would be no advocacy of homeless takeovers in connection with this press conference. He did say that a couple of homeless people said that they as individuals would take over homes, but that was their personal decision not having to do with the event.

Another vote was taken.

Before the vote was taken, Vice President for Membership Dan Yaseen presented quotes from Robert's Rules of Order to imply that the President should vote because she was a member of Peace Fresno as well as President, and this was a "member" meeting rather than a board meeting. He actually quoted sections out of context to make his case. The entire section indicated that Robert's Rules favours an impartial chairperson, and in PF, the President is the chairperson. Anyhow, it was decided on this occasion, that the President should vote because she was a member, and it was a member meeting. And she voted in favour of the motion, as I recall.

(By the way, the issue of whether or not the President of PF should be partial or impartial, or whether or not PF should follow Robert's Rules or discard them conveniently is being debated via email. The proponents of a partial chairperson have indicated that they want to limit email discussion, and force this issue onto our regular meetings further preventing us from accomplishing necessary business, which amazes me. Especially in light of the fact that whether or not the President remains impartial, the outcome of every vote is the same.)

Anyhow...

A motion was made to "support" rather than "endorse" the sanitized version of the event. "Support" was defined as members of Peace Fresno standing at the event holding our logo banner.

This time FIVE informed Board Members voted against it, despite having been informed by Gerry Bill that no endorsement of trespassing, breaking & entering or burglaries would be connected to the event.

Then come to find that the day before the event, KFCF announced the original plan. In fact their announcement was probably verbatim to the above enquoted tract. This irritated one Peace Fresno member so much that he or she called KFCF and gave them what for. I myself called KFCF, and I spoke to Frank Delgado. He told me that he himself had recorded the spot a week prior, but that Angela Price was responsible for it being embedded in her pre-recorded segment. In other words, it was accidentally aired. He did promise that he would make sure it did not run again. It was listed on the KFCF Community Calendar until after the event, despite the fact that I told Frank that they might be subject to FCC sanctions for running it and it should have been removed immediately.

Come the day of the event, KMPH offered the only TV coverage of the press conference:

http://www.kmph.com/Global/story.asp?S=11660119

From the transcript:

"Reverend Floyd Harris says "you and I paid for those homes with our tax dollars. We bailed out the banks so I feel some ownership of these homes.

Alfonso Williams a homeless man says there's 165 bank foreclosed homes in Fresno that we know of and I'm sure there's more that we can find out about. I assure you that we've already starting taking those homes over.

Alfonso Williams says homeless people have no intention of vandalizing foreclosed homes. They're just taking advantage of the free shelter. The homeless did score a minor victory involving their illegal encampment at Ventura and "F" street.

They're squatting on private property and the city ordered them out by this Sunday. Now city hall has decided they don't have to leave until after Christmas"

*****

They showed a map of Fresno, with pins on it indicating the foreclosed properties targeted by this operation.

I'd call that an endorsement of illegal activity- wouldn't you?

I find this series of events very very interesting. I do believe the second vote would not have passed at all had those voting on it been informed accurately in regards to the content of the event we were voting to "SUPPORT".

What I find very interesting is that in order to gain support for this event, Peace Fresno was MISINFORMED. We were told that the event was altered to remove the illegal aspects, but it was promoted by KFCF in the original form, and indeed~ it ended up being exactly as we were originally told it would be (minus the caravan to the targeted property). And immediately prior to the second vote, an issue of whether or not the President should remain impartial was discussed.

"Fascinating" as Mr. Spock would say.

What else I find very interesting is that a few members of Peace Fresno are willing to risk discarding the 501(c) corporation status that they only recently acquired at some expense of time and money for the betterment of the organization. Here's the law:


http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-tege/eotopicj85.pdf

In part:

"(4) Planning Illegal Acts

Not only is the actual conduct of illegal activities inconsistent with exemption, but the planning and sponsoring of such activities are also incompatible with charity and social welfare. Rev. Rul. 75-384 holds that an organization formed to promote world peace that planned and sponsored protest demonstrations at which members were urged to commit acts of civil disobedience did not qualify for IRC 501(c)(3) or (4) exemption. G.C.M. 36153, dated January 31, 1975, states that because planning and sponsoring illegal acts are in themselves inconsistent with charity and social welfare it is not necessary to determine whether illegal acts were, in fact, committed in connection with the resulting demonstrations or whether such a determination can be made prior to conviction of an accused. However, it is necessary to establish that the planning and sponsorship are attributable to the organization, if exemption is to be denied or revoked on this ground.

B. Promotion of Social Welfare

The conduct of illegal activities to a substantial degree is also a bar to exemption under IRC 501(c)(4). Reg. 1.501(c)(4)-1(a)(2)(i) provides that an organization is operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare if it is primarily engaged in promoting in some way the common good and general welfare of the people of the community. It is an organization that is operated primarily for the purpose of bringing about the civic betterments and social improvements. Illegal activities, which violate the minimum standards of acceptable conduct necessary to the preservation of an orderly society, are contrary to the common good and the general welfare of the people of the community and thus are not permissible means of promoting social welfare for purposes of IRC 501(c)(4). Rev. Rul. 75-384, 1975-2 C.B. 204."

IN CONCLUSION:

Under no circumstances should PF officially endorse, "support" or participate in any illegal activity.

It is a fact that most members of the PF Board believe in Civil Disobedience as an act of conscience to apply when necessary. Those who voted against this did not believe that Peace Fresno as an organization should adopt that stance

1) because it could result in a loss of the asset "PF Corporation", or

2) because such decisions should be made by individuals, OR

3) because the situation did not warrant that kind of a sacrifice at this time.

Personally, I believe that engaging in or endorsing acts of Civil Disobedience is an individual's own personal choice~ that only he or she *has a right* to make. I believe that the Peace Fresno Organization does not have the right to dictate this stance to it's entire membership.

Some members of Peace Fresno believe that their moral and ethical compasses are better calibrated than those of the individual members of Peace Fresno they are there to represent. Therefore, they felt comfortable deciding for them.

I did not, and would not, decide a stance of Civil Disobedience for anyone but myself.

But hey, this is the "minority report".


Thank you for your time.

Love,

Val

Appeased Fresno has a sequel- not about homelessness, but about Appeasement (placation) of the PF membership and Board of Directors.

I have been told now and then that the President of Peace Fresno is a "recovering Republican". I never gave it much thought in the past- being a "recovering myriad of vices" myself.

I could rattle on and on about my character flaws, which are many.

I prefer to rattle on and on about the character flaws of those who set themselves up as leaders in our community.

So it is with great temerity that I inform the readers of this thread that it appears that the President of Peace Fresno has "fallen off the wagon".

Many members of the Greater Fresno Area activist community have probably had their board meetings visited by the President of Peace Fresno, hawking sponsorships and tickets for the Sunbird Conservatives upcoming conference. She orchestrated a very sophisticated "bait and switch" pitch over the course of several Peace Fresno meetings wherein she ultimately acquired approval for the purchase of 20 tickets to be sold at $10 apiece for the debate between Victor Davis Hanson and Michael Parenti hosted by the Sunbird Conservatives as an attraction to their "Renaissance of American Principals Sunbird Conservatives Conference 2010". She did not prevail when she put the concept of "sponsorship" to a vote, though. WHICH is kind of deceitful inasmuch as pre-selling the tickets constitutes sponsorship as far as the Sunbirds are concerned. So, Peace Fresno is "Appeased" by the fantasy that buying and selling tickets to this event does not somehow constitute a "de facto" sponsorship.

Starting last Friday, March 26, four Board members have petitioned the President REPEATEDLY for a revote due to being misled and ill informed at the first vote, yet the President continues to hawk tickets and sponsorships. She has not answered any of these emails, despite having been on and off email addressing other topics.

We were never told that the debate was part of a Conference, we were never told it was sponsored by Hate Radio concern KMJ, we were never apprised of the truth regarding the agenda of the Sunbird Conservatives. THIS is why we want a revote.

Good faith dealings would dictate that the President of Peace Fresno should have immediately ceased distributing tickets and selling sponsorships until ALL the Board was satisfied that the issue was fairly voted. But she is aggressively, and deceptively continuing to promote the Sunbird event.

Our President attempted to promote the Sunbird's event at our Peace & Justice Festival in a printed insert in the program PRIOR to voting to sponsor. She asked me facilitate this AFTER the meeting, OFF the MINUTES- and at Peace Fresno's expense without informing the Board. To sell tickets and sponsorships to a third party, our President was quoted as stating that WILPF sponsored the event, despite the fact that WILPF kicked her to the curb during her spiel at their meeting. These kind of "Ponzi Scheme" type appeals, wherein one group's name is invoked to sell another group on the concept, is one of the regular ploys our President and her VP of Membership use to convince people that their agenda is worthy of consideration. Sometimes, as in this case, it is clear that they just drop names in order to acquire support that would not come UNLESS other respectable organizations were on on board.

ASIDE FROM THIS BREACH OF GOOD FAITH AND WHOLESALE DECEPTION:

This issue should never have been brought to a vote in ANY progressive org because it IS DIVISIVE. If there were a FULLY INFORMED revote with the same Peace Fresno members present, the issue would not pass, given the number of people who originally voted against it who have indicated that they will stand by their original vote, and the recantation of those who voted for it based on the whole cloth presentation fobbed off on us by our President.

Some of us are still scrubbing the spatter from the President's shotgun presentation invoking most, if not ALL "logical fallacies". Imagine raising an objection to a used car salesman attempting to rid himself of a hooptie at the end of the year. Imagine his deployment of a pre-scripted response to ALL your objections. If you can imagine this, then you can get the drift of what our last Peace Fresno meeting was like.

Despite the "throw it against the wall to see if it sticks" rhetoric, there is a single issue which emerges from the flak.

The issue is not whether it's great to support Parenti or a neutral debate between Victor Davis Hanson and Parenti.

The issue is sponsoring or selling tickets to raise funds and awareness for a group whose intention is to quash all progressive voices both on and off the Fresno Pacific Campus, and to skew the thinking of the students who attend there though a glitzy propaganda campaign. Mind you, the debate is a very tiny portion of a two day propaganda thrust, including one directed at high school and college students the day before (please review links in context below).

I don't see why the progressive community can't approach Parenti with all the money they are giving to the Sunbirds (who are sponsored by deep pocket KMJ and other conservative concerns) and put that money directly into Parenti's hands to speak to us about the debate in our own venue, where we can draw attention to our own concerns.

I also don't understand why any progressives are supporting this conference instead of protesting it.

Certainly, no progressive I know is in favour of a "Classroom Watch" program against progressive ideology. And no progressive I am friendly with condones lengthy propaganda campaigns espousing the furthest right of the furthest right values at a campus full of impressionable young folks either. In reference to the Sunbird's Classroom Watch program which transparently enlists students against Academic Freedoms progressives have fought for, I have attached a PDF Handbook "Academic Freedom and Professional Responsibility after 9/11" which states in part:

***
"Academic Freedom

Academic freedom, the right of scholars to freely research, publish, and teach on their field subjects, is crucial to capacity of institutions of higher education to explore new fields and offer challenging interpretations of historical, social, and political phenomenon. Given that individual and institutional academic freedoms are not absolute, but contextual, and that students and teachers have complementary rights and duties, a wide variety of legal interpretations exist concerning the nature and limits of academic freedom. The U.S. Supreme Court recognizes a First Amendment right of institutional as well as individual academic freedom: “It is the business of a university to provide that atmosphere which is most conducive to speculation, experiment, and creation. It is an atmosphere in which there prevail ‘the four essential freedoms’ of a university – to determine for itself on academic grounds who may teach, what may be taught, how it shall be taught, and who may be admitted to study” [stated by Justice Felix Frankfurter in Sweezy v. New Hampshire (354 U.S. 234 1957) and Justice Lewis Powell in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke (438 U.S. 265 1978)].

In the current repressive political climate, academics are now working on a slippery legal slope. A recent AAUP legal round•up clarifies some of this terrain by examining threats to academic freedom in the legislative arena, particularly the “Academic Bill of Rights” propounded by David Horowitz. The AAUP report comments that “self•identified ‘conservatives’ are calling for ‘political diversity’ in the classroom and for student monitoring of teachers on college and university campuses for perceived ‘liberal bias’ in their classroom presentations.” And yet, as it goes on to note, “This political interference with the autonomy of higher education institutions is not an alignment of conservative versus liberal, but rather individuals for and against institutional autonomy”. Therefore, academic freedom is not a liberal, progressive, or leftist issue, but a matter of concern for all scholars, regardless of their political beliefs."

***
Mostly, I object to the President of Peace Fresno ambushing us with an agenda distributed at the meeting itself so that we had to take her word on what this was all about, only to find out after the vote what we were REALLY supporting. These are not a bunch of cute kids trying to get political. They are a movement backed by big bucks who intend to take over Fresno Pacific and destroy what little academic freedom progressives have in yet another institution of higher learning.

None of this should be supported by any leader of any group representing any progressive cause.

***Number one, it is divisive of the community- we are not the only people who would disagree IF THEY KNEW. Because these things are handled by boards of directors, the membership is NOT INFORMED.

***Number two, the Sunbirds can sell their own tickets to anybody, including interested progressives. Why do our leaders have to call for us to SPONSOR this event? Our leadership is arrogant enough to think that their agenda should be pushed through by deception, because it is in the best interest of our membership. Well, if it really was in the best interest of our membership, how come they had to deceive the board about the particulars of the event? Are they saying that our concerns are those of idiots who have to be "handled" by condescending deceptions?

***Number three, Parenti is getting paid what he's getting paid, our presence there does not support him, but supports the Sunbirds who hired him as an ATTRACTION to their event.

All of the information regarding the Sunbird's Conference can be found here:

http://www.sunbirdconservatives.com/conference

From reading the March 15 letter on the above page, one is confronted with the fact that Michael Parenti has been added to the program as an attraction, and that their intention is to counter the liberal, progressive voice at Fresno Pacific and acquaint the students and community with their own propaganda.

Visit the various links on the right hand sidebar. For example, the Agenda is a link on the right hand sidebar blue button, it's actual location is:

http://www.sunbirdconservatives.com/agenda

You can see that the debate itself is a very small part of the entire program.

On this link you can see that free tabling opportunities are offered only to conservative causes:

http://www.sunbirdconservatives.com/vendors-and-organizations

I have since been informed that non sponsors may table for thirty whole minutes before the debate and thirty minutes after the debate. That begs the question: when may sponsors may table?

On this page:

http://www.sunbirdconservatives.com/pricing-and-sponsorship

you can see that a ticket for ALL the day's events costs as little as $20, which makes the $10 Peace Fresno is charging for tickets (which are for the debate only according to the President of the Sunbirds) DISPROPORTIONATELY skewed towards supporting the rest of the event given the total number of forums, speeches, entertainments, etc. In addition, reserved seats are being sold, so there is no guarantee anybody who pays $10 at this time will even have a seat.

Also, this event is targeted towards influencing young people- here is one example:

http://www.sunbirdconservatives.com/student-seminar

In addition, the Debate itself is part of the Sunbird's strategic plan to counteract the progressive, liberal voice at Fresno Pacific and the community.

Their strategic plan can be found here:

http://www.sunbirdconservatives.com/strategic-plan

Their Mission/Purpose can be found here:

http://www.sunbirdconservatives.com/mission-purpose

Most reprehensible to me is the fact that the Sunbirds promote a "Classroom Watch" to attempt to counteract progressive causes by raising conservative voices against free exercise of Academic freedom at Fresno Pacific. Their Classroom Watch program is discussed here:

http://www.sunbirdconservatives.com/classroom-watch

Just click around the website and see if you want to support this. You can see how skewed it is by the picture they chose of Parenti, which is sepia tone, depicts Parenti sneering like a melodrama villain, and looks like it came off a "wanted poster" in a dime novel.

I don't think any progressive should support this by buying tickets and I will not support any organization that does not have the foresight to understand that progressives should not help fund counter - progressive propaganda campaigns.

How come it is impossible for all of our organizations to acquire Parenti to DISCUSS what happened at the debate rather than sponsoring the Sunbird's program by buying into it?

Why is the progressive community not DEMONSTRATING at this event?

I think we should round up a bunch of homeless folks to protest this event. They can hold signs saying: "Conservative economic policies put me on the street". We could round up veterans holding pictures of maimed vets or wearing body bags saying "Conservative foreign policies did this to me". We could hold up signs showing deformed babies saying "Conservative environmental policies did this to me". The Water Forum people could also protest the conservative water policies- they can advise us on good imagery. The hate radio folks could be there too. The LGBT people could be there. The WIB could be there. We could bring folded up flags etc.

If we want to support our ideals, we should support our ideals.

Not the ideals of those who intend to quash them.

Love,

Val
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