A Division of the Left Wing

By Robert Velazquez

On a humid Saturday morning, deep in Baltimore’s Highlandtown neighborhood, a coalition of immigrant rights attorneys, activists, and concerned citizens met in a basement.  It’s one remnant of the almost 700 “Families Belong Together” protests held across the United States on June 30, 2018. The group, Baltimore Immigrant Solidarity Coalition, a loosely tied network of organizations whose mission is to help immigrants on a range of topics from housing to health services and even helping apply for asylum.

Attendees of the meeting ranged from post-college 20-somethings to young families and devoted retirees. All clearly shaken by the actions taken by the Trump administration to varying degrees. Quick and formal introductions gave names and hints of political affiliation ranging from democrats to green partiers and committed anti-fascists.

Leaders of these groups discussed how concerned citizens could become involved. Leaders from immigrant rights organizations peeled back the layers of their organization from origin story to action, urging members that there are constructive ways to get involved in the immigrant rights battle aside from storming the southern border.

Views expressed by organization representatives seemed to span from traditional Democratic Party views that were very critical of not only the Trump administration but of the Obama administration. On the opposite end of the spectrum, a representative of the People’s Power Assemblies, called for the abolition of the Baltimore Police Department and ICE, going so far as to cite them as a terrorist organization. She continued that anyone interested in protests similar to that of the ICE facility in Portland, Oregon, should inquire within.

While not every individual was as radical, there seemed to be a notable tension growing in the room. As, Dr. Zainab Chaudry, Director of Maryland Outreach for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), called for the “restructuring, not abolishment of ICE” there was visible opposition from members whom were self-proclaimed “committed anti-fascists”.

As discussions continued, the abolishment of ICE remained a major talking point. One attendee stating he would settle for nothing short of the abolishment of the agency as a whole. Dr. Chaudry argued, the Republican party was weaponizing the term “Abolishment of ICE” to the detriment of their cause. Her argument was that restructuring or reforming of the agencies policies to reflect the cause at hand was a better political move than the brash tactic of abolishing the agency all together.

As tensions seemed to grow over political nuance, the issue of writing a list of demands grew. Demands to end family detention and family separation, and a permanent path to citizenship for the DREAMers, were listed as compatible goals. Goals that seemed perfectly reasonable by most attendee’s standards.

When the issue of political accountability was raised, it all sort of went to hell. The question of whether they intended to deliver these demands to Governor Hogan or his democratic opponent Ben Jealous, for political accountability was raised, the true rift of this group was exposed. One, committed anti-fascist, raised his desire for the abolition of the Democratic party and the total two-party system. State Delegate candidate Andy Ellis, expressed his reservation in endorsing either politician as a means of losing political leverage, should they failed to deliver on the subject of immigration reform. Another member was quick to point out that member organization, CASA, had already endorsed the candidacy of Ben Jealous, leading to a palpable pressure in the room.

With tensions flaring and eyes rolling, an unnamed volunteer from the Esperanza Center interrupted everyone to chime in with “I look around this room and I see a bunch of white faces. You guys are arguing over what you can do for “them”. What we can do for “them”? Let me ask everyone a question. Have you spoken directly to an immigrant to see what they actually need? What they actually want? I work with at least 50 different people a week. It’s incredibly dangerous to fetishize immigrants and that’s what you’re doing here.” She went on to argue that most pieces of meaningful legislation that have passed on immigration, were because immigrants advocated for themselves, not because people with good intentions did it for them.

After a few more exchanges, a retired college professor remarked on the fact that there were obvious areas of contention in the group but as an educated retiree he had time and experience to offer. “Writing letters, stuffing envelopes, or knocking on doors. I’m happy to help in whatever way I can.”

Ultimately, this glimpse into the left-wing resistance was deeply troubling. If anti-fascists and green party voters of Baltimore are so quick to throw political nuance out of the window, how does the left as one side of the political spectrum expect to have a conversation with each other? More importantly, if the extreme left continues to divide such a crucial piece of the electorate, how sure of a thing is the Blue Wave really going to be?

In the year 2000, a presidential election was decided by 537 votes in the state of Florida. 97,421 citizens voted for Ralph Nader of the Green Party in that Florida that year. Let’s consider for a moment that ideas of single payer healthcare, immigration reform, and a $15 minimum wage weren’t in the collective Democratic message in 2000, at least not the way they are today. The great tragedy of 2018 and beyond would be a repeat of 2000 when the policy points are so clear for the party as a whole.

Ben Jealous seems to be about as left as they come. If elected his victory will prove a valuable strategy for the Democratic party on an executive level. With ringing endorsements from Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris and Joe Biden behind him, he seems to have the backing of the democratic party for single-payer, criminal justice reform, and tuition free college. One of his great accomplishments was passing the DREAM act in Maryland. If the far left seems unsure of backing a candidate who is willing to risk his political standing for the sake of progress. Who’s going to be good enough? Is it worth it to pass up an opportunity like this because you’re opposed to the traditional 2 party system?

2018 is a chance for the left to prove themselves to be the party of leadership and governance. If there are individuals out there so fiercely opposing the reformation of policies, agencies, or even the democratic party they’ve got a part of the electorate trying to perform surgery with dynamite instead of a scalpel. Not exactly a comforting thought when American democracy is hanging on in critical care until November.

Look But Don’t Touch

By Olivia Dudley

Ever since the first of many accusations against Hollywood’s most powerful men back in October 2017, the #MeToo movement has continued to expand with individuals seeking justice against those who abused them. On May 25, 2018, Harvey Weinstein was finally charged with “rape, criminal sex act, sex abuse and sexual misconduct for incidents involving two separate women” as stated by the New York Police Department, after surrendering himself to the authorities. To the dismay of many, Weinstein was released after a million dollars bail was posted on his behalf. He now walks around New York and Connecticut, after surrendering his passport and accepting restricted travel, wearing an ankle monitor.

Weinstein is only one of many men accused of sexual misconduct; as the list grows and the #MeToo movement expands, more people have come forward to talk openly about their experiences with these abusers. One individual, Molly Maeve Eagan, decided to write an open letter to director James Toback, telling of a time when she was only fifteen years old and going through his uncomfortable grooming process as an aspiring actress. Eagan’s letter should be damaging to Toback, as she recounts a time in which he told her of his inappropriate times spent with girls younger than herself at the time. Yet, by the end of her letter, Eagan acknowledges that she may not be “the right victim.”

The concept of “the right victim,” the victim that changes the course of everything because of the power they hold upon society, has been debated. The faces of America Ferrera, Molly Ringwald, Viola Davis, Terry Crews, and many other celebrities have been seen; but what about the “regular people?”

For those who are not in the spotlight, author of The Director: A Memoir, J.K. Stein is in the process of organizing a photo compilation of some of the everyday women affected by the repulsive actions of James Toback. “He might be ‘lesser known,’ but he certainly has made a great impact on 400+ women’s lives” Stein stated on her Twitter page. Women affected by Toback have been coming forward and uniting against him by telling their stories en masse on Twitter, Instagram, and personal blogs, pushing him to feel the same pain and humiliation he made them feel at the time of the many incidents.

When this collage is released, it will not only be seen as a bitter reminder of how many individuals have been affected by people who abuse their power, but of how many people are not alone. These women are coming forward, telling their stories and inviting other victims of abuse to know that they do not have to live a life feeling ashamed or damaged because of the cruel actions of others.

Your voice matters. If you need to reach out, The UB Post encourages you to contact  Safe Horizons National Violence Hotline: 800-621-4673 or RAINN National Sex Abuse Hotline: 800-656-4673. And of course, we here at The UB Post are always available to help however we can at editorinchief.ubpost@gmail.com.

Mr. Jealous Takes on Annapolis

By Rob Velazquez

Ben Jealous won the Democratic Primary in June, beating his opponent Rushern Baker of Prince George’s county by 10% of the vote. The thing most people seem to forget is that for much of the primary, Jealous trailed Baker by that very gap. The road to Annapolis seems to be a steep journey for Jealous, but not an impossible one.

Jealous won the democratic primary with a progressive base similar to that of the coalition of Sen. Bernie Sanders. He continued the message of raising minimum wage, promoting healthcare for all, creating state job programs, expanding public education and even offering to work towards tuition-free higher education. While Sen. Sanders offered great ideas in his bid for the candidacy in 2016, Jealous delivers the long-awaited details of the plan. Recently, he released an in-depth view of his economic proposal giving Maryland a glimpse at what a Jealous administration hopes to deliver.

“Make It In Maryland” is an economic proposal that invests in the working class of Maryland, raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2023, connecting the entire state with a large investment in transportation infrastructure, and creating jobs in the process. Jealous even hopes to invest in university technology programs and Maryland tech startups to grow a tech industry that can thrive and compete with Palo Alto and Boston. The proposal brings technological opportunity to the agricultural sector in Maryland through the use of microclimate analysis.

The proposals Jealous is delivering are not wild hopes or speculative dreams. He delivers the proposal with data and evidence from thriving cities and states from around the country. It is the distinct difference between Jealous and other progressive candidates.

While the Republican Governor’s Association continues attacking Jealous with chopped up sound bites taken out of context, it is important to remember who Ben Jealous is as a professional. Jealous was the youngest president and CEO of the NAACP, while navigating the organization through the 2008 recession he nearly doubled the organization’s revenue by 2013. He would expand the NAACP to include programs on education, healthcare and environmental justice. Jealous and the NAACP advocated for the abolishment of the death penalty in Maryland and led the cause nationwide. Jealous is currently a partner in Kapor Capital, an Oakland, CA based capital investment firm with an eye on investing into companies that directly impact and address social issues. His roots dig deep into West Baltimore and he comes from a long line of activists and organizers. He can, for all intents and purposes, put his money where his mouth is.

The difficulty for the Jealous campaign was delivered by a recent poll from Gonzales Research and Media Services showing Governor Hogan leading the race 52 to 36 percent but leaving 11 percent of voters undecided. Given that Jealous entered this race as an underdog to Rushern Baker, there is plenty of time to sway voters.

The Jealous campaign started as a grassroots coalition, meeting voters at their doorstep or hometown and talking about kitchen table issues that affect day to day lives. If he continues to meet with voters from across the state, he may just stand a chance but, according to a recent article from the Washington Post, Jealous skipped the Maryland Association of Counties summer gathering in Ocean City to meet with voters in Frederick and Baltimore City. A 90 year-long political tradition with representatives from all counties in Maryland. If Jealous were to lose this race, it would not be for lack of effective policy but for lack of effective campaign management. For historical context, look to the debates of the 2016 campaign of Hillary Clinton losing Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan.

With the election less than 70 days away, Jealous has to continue building his coalition and show his record of leadership and results to every possible Maryland voter he can meet.

Ben Jealous offers a fresh perspective to the democratic landscape of 2018. He offers the possibility of a winning coalition that is intent on taking on the problems of the working class of Maryland with targeted and thoughtful policy. With all of the hype around young candidates claiming “democratic socialism” as a party affiliation, Jealous maintains his stance as a democrat, organizer, activist, educator and investor. While the RGA continues their onslaught of attack ads and name calling, calling him a “far-left socialist,” Jealous simply leans in to what he truly is. “Go ahead call me a socialist. That doesn’t change the fact that I’m a venture capitalist.” His experience and intuition are his greatest asset in this race. The only question is how the campaign will close the 14-point gap needed to insure a victory that takes Mr. Jealous to Annapolis.

Praying to Heal

More than 300 priests in Pennsylvania’s Catholic Church accused of sexual abuse

By Olivia Dudley

“We feel shame when we realize that our style of life has denied, and continues to deny, the words we recite. With shame and repentance, we acknowledge as an ecclesial community that we were not where we should have been, that we did not act in a timely manner, realizing the magnitude and the gravity of the damage done to so many lives. We showed no care for the little ones; we abandoned them,” Pope Francis stated in his letter to the People of God on August 20th, 2018.

This Catholic Church scandal is larger than anyone could have imagined; over a thousand individuals are coming forward claiming that they were sexually abused by priests. A report released on August 14th, has detailed accounts of investigations dating back to 1947 where priests have been accused of preying on minors within the dioceses of Allentown, Scranton, Harrisburg, Greensburg, Erie, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  “There have been other reports about child sex abuse within the Catholic Church. But never on this scale. For many of us, those earlier stories happened someplace else, someplace away. Now we know the truth: it happened everywhere,” The Grand Jury reports.

As these situations have arisen sporadically throughout the past several decades, with the exception of the 2002 scandal, it has been presumed that the Catholic Church has been covering up its tracks. With the outcry of over one thousand credible victims, it has become a difficult subject for anyone to avoid.

“Predators in every diocese weaponized the Catholic faith and used it as a tool of their abuse,” Attorney General of Pennsylvania, Josh Shapiro, stated in a press conference on August 14th. Shapiro then describes several situations in which, according to the Grand Jury report, priests would use the line “It’s okay because I’m a priest.” He then lists examples of this method being used on victims, one of the most disturbing being “Father Ed Graff told a seventh grader he abused that what they were doing was okay because the priest was an instrument of God.”

One victim reported that Father Edmund Parrakow would occasionally bring alter boys to his private quarters to “examine” them for signs of abuse, while reminding them not to tell their families about the examinations in order to keep themselves safe from harm.

After the release of these dark secrets, victims, and surviving family members of victims too bitterly affected by these crimes, have stood together in solidarity to seek justice against these “predator priests.” Many of the victims have hid the secret of their abuse for so long that it has affected their lives for reasons unknown to those around them. One gentleman, Jim VanSickle, states that he became closed off to those around him, eventually even including his wife and children, “They didn’t know which dad they were gonna get: the happy-go-lucky ‘I love you’ dad or the angry dad who’s frustrated with life and not happy whatsoever.”

It is likely that, due to a fear of coming forward or records being lost, the number of “predator priest” victims is much farther into the thousands than we can possibly imagine. In the August 14th conference, three victims discussed what had happened to them, in the end stating that coming forward about their abuse is not a “vendetta against the church” but that abusers have “to be accountable in the church for what they did.”

To read the entire Grand Jury Report, click here.

 

As Peace Rests

By Olivia Dudley

On August 18, 2018, Ghanaian diplomat and former Secretary General of the United Nations Kofi Annan passed away at the age of 80 in Bern, Switzerland. Annan was a Nobel Peace Prize laureate as of 2001.

After delivering his farewell address in September of 2006, Annan established the Kofi Annan Foundation a year later. The mission statement stood alone as an expression of the kind of person Annan was, “The knowledge needed to solve many of the world´s pressing problems already exists. What holds us back is lack of leadership and political will to bring about change. We mobilize political will to overcome threats to peace, development and human rights……by convening and engaging leaders across the world.”

Kofi_Atta_Annan

Annan believed in keeping peace and understanding the other side of difficulties. Fighting for rights and positivity across the world, Annan hoped to build lasting peace, combat world hunger, and promote youth leadership within his foundation.

Throughout his life, Annan truly cared about the less fortunate, often venturing into problematic areas of the world to listen to the downtrodden and learn what more could be accomplished. His goal in life was to help heal humanity and the world around him. His passing should leave people with the urge to go out and help a neighbor in need or make a donation to a worthwhile charity. Act selflessly today.

A Choir Sings

By Olivia Dudley

On August 16, 2018, the beloved ‘Queen of Soul,’ Aretha Franklin, passed away in her Detroit home at the age of 76 surrounded by friends and family. It had been reported three days prior that she was in grave condition due to an advanced form of pancreatic cancer.

Her life will forever be remembered by not only her talent and greatest hits, such as “Natural Woman,” “Respect,” and “I Say a Little Prayer,” but for her strength and kindness. Her music reflected her life as a strong and independent woman, encouraging others to follow in her footsteps and demand the respect of being treated like a human being.

aretha

“When Aretha Franklin sang ‘Respect’… it was a demand for equality and freedom and a harbinger of feminism, carried by a voice that would accept nothing less.” A powerful statement made by chief popular music critic, Jon Pareles of The New York Times. Her music evoked thought and encouraged people to look at the world and think of hope and possibility.

Mary J. Blige stated several years ago, When it comes to expressing yourself through song, there is no one who can touch her. She is the reason why women want to sing.” She couldn’t be closer to the truth; women have longed to follow in the powerful footsteps of Franklin for decades, looking up to both her vocals and her entire being. She will be missed, remembered, and cherished by many.