Flow Chart of Far Right and White Supremacist Organizing–Center for Democratic Renewal 1992. What does 2022 look like? Compare and Contrast.
A22 2021 this Sunday in Portland is a deliberate Chud provocation and cynical attempt at rebranding. Their “Summer of Love” is scheduled on the one-year anniversary of the brawl they instigated outside of the JC that featured the PPD openly collaborating with the far-right.
This Sunday numbers are critical for our safety. While not every anti-fascist can take a physical stand against fascists in the streets, every anti-fascist should support those who can and do. The time-honored Anti-Racist Action slogan of yore still applies: We go where they go.
In addition to the historical parallel with A22 (2020) where Chuds faced fierce opposition from anti-fascists, there is what transpired on August 29, 2020 to consider. That was the day of the Trump caravan that left from the Clackamas Mall and headed to downtown Portland.
As the miles-long convoy approached the city, some of those cars and trailer trucks—overflowing with far-right militants—began peeling off I-5 onto the Morrison Bridge offramp directly into downtown Portland. I have a fond memory of “Trumpet Man” and a small number of anti-fascists blocking the off ramp and trying to halt their ingress.
And they succeeded for a time.
I also recall in the days immediately prior the caravan some comrades expressing indecision as to whether to mobilize against the onslaught. As I recall there was no main counter rally organized. Instead of a unified front in the downtown area, it was left to a frighteningly small number of comrades to hold the line, until later in the evening when reinforcements arrived and Patriot Prayerist Aaron Danielson met his ignominious demise and Joey Gibson was forced to walk a gauntlet. That series of events could have easily gone the other way. Numbers are life in this situation. Thankfully there is an anti-fascist action organized for A22 2021.
Anyone who self-describes as an anti-fascist should be supporting those comrades who choose to hold the line. That support can take many forms—direct action, money, legal aid, equipment, boosting, or platters of brownies. What’s important is that we build public support for them. We should show our deepest solidarity with resistance ground crews, many of whom will be people of color and other targeted communities. Those “anti-fascists” who equivocate or decry the principled choice of some to risk all in the defense of us don’t deserve to be called anti-fascists. Their failure amounts to hanging comrades out to dry.
And fuck Ted Wheeler.
We are many, they are few. Be Safe. Be Dangerous.
Defend Portland on A22!
Aryan Nations, Aryan Youth Congress, Chris Lord, coalition for human dignity, Dean Kitzmiller, Derek Stenzel, Dylan Wheeler, Intimidation One, Jason Stevens, Joe Witt, National Socialist Front, Northwest Concern, Portland Oregon, Randall Krager, Salem Oregon, Troy Harlow, Volksfront, Zachary Taylor
From the Coalition for Human Dignity’s Northwest Update, November 1, 1997.
From the Coalition for Human Dignity’s Dignity Report (“Dig Rep”).
More snippets from my personal archives.
January 1991–Anti-war mobilizing (Gulf War).
February, 1991–Coalition for Human Dignity produces first issue of The Oregon Witness, Vol. 1, Nos. 2 and 3. (Still looking for # 1+).
June 1991–Coalition for Human Dignity The Oregon Witness, Vol. 1, No. 3 May-June, 1991.
June, 1989. “The New Skinhead Assault” by Christopher Phelps published in the Portland Alliance . See also his article in Against The Current, https://againstthecurrent.org/atc032/white-supremacy-on-trial/. Pretty good socialist analysis of the far-right.
July, 1989–I write “Fascist Skinheads: An Update and Analysis” for CHD. This was an early effort to get a handle on both the number of hate crimes and types of groups active in the Portland Metro area. Statistics on bias violence and intimidation were a hit-or-miss proposition; where there was even a law to collect such data there was insufficient awareness on the part of cops to collect it. As usual, community groups had to do it for ourselves. A similar project was carried out by the Lesbian Community Project, called the Homophobic Documentation Line, which took reports of homophobic violence from the community.
July 1989–the Matrix at 333 see 3rd Street becomes a base for anti-racists. The first Hon 8 x 1/2 by 14 filing cabinets are used to store info on racists and the repressive state apparatus.
August 1989–I write “Fascist Violence: Establishment Program and Response” for The Portland Free Press, a critique of weak efforts by authorities to understand, document and confront the far-right. Examples include no subpoena power for the Metropolitan Human Rights Commission and very limited funding.
August 24, 1989–Letter to my Mom after I drop out of college.
September 11, 1989–Tarso Ramos writes “Hate Crime in Portland” for the Reed College Quest wherein he manages to work in a reference to the Dukes of Hazard in an anti-racist manner. Quite the peculiar feat!
September 22-23, 1989. CHD organizes a Rock Against Racism benefit held at Pine Street Theater. “Fight Racism” posters are going up in neighborhoods. We cribbed from the great anti-fascist artist John Heartfield — Excavating the past so as to reveal the future.
This poster and t-shirt created by comrades in the Coalition for Human Dignity in Summer 1989 in Portland, Oregon is being produced and distributed there again, for obvious reasons. The original design was cribbed from the great anti-fascist artist John Heartfield. The translation from German: “Whether black or white – united in battle. We only know one race. We all know only one enemy – the exploiting class.” Please forgive us for compressing those outstretched arms and fists! All solidarity to comrades in Little Beirut!
October 2, 1989–Black student Robbie Robinson becomes first in the nation victim of a school board injunction against his enrollment at Eugene High School for gang affiliations in Portland. …
Principal Don Jackson suspended Robinson. A week later, in the first such action in the nation, the school board sought an injunction in Lane County Circuit Court to bar the student permanently from the city’s schools, not on the basis of any specific actions, but because “his mere presence at the school in clothing associated with gang membership constitutes a danger to the health and safety of students” (Jeff Wright 1989). On November 8, the injunction was granted.
Some citizens expressed concern about the constitutionality of the ruling, but members of the local chapter of the NAACP and of the Community Coalition for the Prevention of Gangs applauded the action.
All this while racist skinhead groups are flourishing.
CHD Flyer, “Past and Current Activities”
October 16, 1989–Little Beirut I
“The first Little Beirut protest took place when Vice President Quayle came to Portland to defend the Bush administration’s inaction during a failed Panamanian coup and to make it harder for victims of statutory rape to access federal funding for rape victims. Unsurprisingly, he was greeted by 150 protesters.
“Out of respect for the office of vice president, there should have been at least 500,” Quayle reportedly joked.
Where other protests had a singular goal, these protests were over a grab bag of issues ranging from the U.S. government’s despicable policy in Latin America to abortion to the government’s despicable handling of the AIDS crisis. The crowds were a healthy mix of political protesters and good, old-fashioned anarchists.
It was the largest protest Quayle had encountered during his first nine months in office, and the only one to disrupt his schedule as protesters blocked his way to the Hilton downtown. Over 20 protesters were arrested and a police van transporting several protesters crashed into a pickup truck on its way to the precinct—this appears to have been an honest error and not a rough ride.” —Willamette Week “Big Trouble in Little Beirut” May 4, 2016.
October 1989–PFP publishes “Behind the Scenes”. I interview the Portland FBI SAC, Danny Coulson. I focus on FBI surveillance and disruption of solidarity movements. I can’t write for shit. I won’t even include the article here.
CHD address is 333 SE 3rd, “The Matrix.”
October 25, 1989–M Treloar’s “Rock Against Racism” article in the Guardian. “The coalition, which was originally sponsored by the city of Portland, has developed into a community-based alternative to the ineffectual Metropolitan Human Relations Commission and the Coors/Honeywell-funded Northwest Coalition Against Malicious Harrassment.”
Above: CDR Monitor October 1989 announces joining forces with international anti-racist groups, especially Searchlight.
November 6, 1989–CHD applies to MRG for a grant.
Above: Journalist Patrick Mazza teases out principles first articulated by Anti-Racist Action and Baldies members I met in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Mazza was a keen observer of the Portland scene and his writing was unique. He’s also writing for Portland’s only Black newspaper at the time. I’m trying to apply what I learned from comrades in Minnesota and elsewhere to the situation in Portland.
November 8, 1989–Letter to my mom.
November 9, 1989–Fall of the Berlin Wall. The Cold War anti-communist consensus will increasingly include neo-fascists within it.
January 4, 1990–Partial Mass Direct Action discussion document circulated in Portland, Oregon.
March 3, 1990–the ATF raid homes of activists (including mine) searching for “evidence to commit arson and arson.” Agent John Comey heads up the investigation. No charges filed. I received an anonymous warning of the raid by phone. Portland Free Press article.
From Portland Free Press event listings:
April 23, 1990–Bell Hooks at Lewis and Clark College.
April 28, 1990–Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz at L&C.
April 23-28, 1990–Ben Linder Memorial Week in Portland ; construction brigade meetings.
May 9, 1990–arson attempt at Lovejoy Surgicenter.
May 16, 1990–Alan Rausch’s “Police distorted incident at park; media added to it” a must read example of activist journalism from that era. Pulitzer Prize in letters to the editor should have been awarded here. Sly dig at journalists who “when in doubt call the sheriff ” and dead possums, from when Portland cops dropped them at a Black business, are devastating. We would get back at the cops only days later at Little Beirut II.
Portland Free Press article, “Newberg police Inform Convicted Felon Drew Davis of Free Press Inquiry About secret Service Papers.” Davis was a former Republican Oregon House rep. and then President of the Sun Myung Moon-connected Oregon chapter of the American Freedom Coalition. Davis was convicted of forging drug prescriptions.
May 18, 1990–CHD, the Lesbian Community Project and SHARP represented by Donna Redwing, Scott Nakagawa, and Dave Lamb, respectively, hold a press conference denouncing police harrassment of anti-racists. CHD releases “Report on the Community Defence Project on Organized neo-fascists in Portland, Oregon.” In the early days CHD would sometimes use the term “fascism” as a general descriptor. The report was a collective effort and fourteen contributors are listed. It’s an important documentation of the rancid role of the PPB in protecting boneheads and a great snapshot of CHD beginning to do action-oriented research.
May 21, 1990—Little Beirut II
“The following May, President George H.W. Bush himself came to town to help raise funds for then-Republican gubernatorial candidate Dave Frohnmayer. Three hundred protesters greeted the well-heeled Republicans with eggs, fruit, spit and purportedly some explosive devices, along with burning American flags. The protest ended in a brawl as 75 police officers in riot gear descended on the crowd. Twenty-five were arrested.” I may be mistaken, but I think this was the protest that featured anti-racist skins, punks and other radicals, some of whom adopted Teenage mutant Ninja Turtle costumes to greet the pigs–those on the streets and those at the trough.
Mohammad Hassan (above) at PSU protesting less than five percent faculty of color at Portland State University. Check out those Apple prices!
May 24, 1990–Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney are victims of a car bomb in Oakland, California just prior to the start of Redwood Summer. Leonard Zeskind and I would later travel to Willits to meet with the two activists. We were invited to research any far-right/state involvement in the assassination attempt. We could never establish who did it, and neither could anyone else. Cointelpro? “Lord’s Avenger?” Still unanswered. RIP Judi.
June 1990–The irreverent “Class War” is being published.
July 16, 1990. Elinor Langer’s “American Neo-Nazi Movement Today” article in The Nation appears.
September, 1990–CHD releases “Organized White Supremacists in Oregon”
September 1990, Little Beirut III
“Quayle returned in September of 1990 to help raise funds for Oregon Republican candidates and to support an education bill. (This was two years before the American public found out the incumbent vice president couldn’t spell “potato.”) As if hearing his taunt from the year before, there were twice as many protesters outside the Hilton this time. A group of 24 Reed students, including Igor Vamos of the Yes Men fame, dubbed themselves the Guerrilla Theater of the Absurd. They put on their finest suits and ties, swallowed food coloring and ipecac to vomit up red, white and blue—their plan was thwarted because their stomach acid turned the blue food coloring green. This agitprop art display was dubbed the Reverse Peristalsis Painters.
Fifty-one were arrested at this protest, including art gallery and coffee shop owner Anne Hughes, who wound up winning a $25,000 settlement from the city due to her treatment at the hands of the Portland Police Bureau. This event led to Mayor Bud Clark writing a strongly worded letter to the police department.”–WW
I attended the first three Little Beiruts, but not the fourth in 1991 as I had just moved to The Shop and was otherwise occupied.
1990–Lenny Zeskind from the Center for Democratic Renewal and Gerry Gable from Searchlight Magazine in England are hosted at an event at Portland State University.
October, 1990–CHD publishes address of Bob Heick in Portland.
October 7, 1990–2500 people come out for the “March and Rally for Dignity and Diversity” on the day before the SPLC vs. Metzger civil suit begins. Jury came back October 22, 1988. John Trudell and Stew Albert speak, among others.
The following timeline is pieced together from primary and secondary sources I’ve recently dug up. Many of these entries come directly from my personal journals. As such they tend to be rather focused on me. Don’t be misled by that focus, help me supplement it! This is one lens through which to understand the time period immediately preceding the murder of Mulugeta Seraw. I welcome other contributions to the timeline. These contributions can be used as a supplement to the fantastic KBOO podcast It Did Happen Here. itdidhappenherepodcast.com
February 4, 1988–racist and anti-racist skinheads make their initial appearances on the Oprah Windfrey Show.
March 10, 1988–Portland, Oregon Racist skinheads attack “…Hock-Seng “Sam” Chin, a 27-year-old Singapore native who now lives in Portland. On March 10, after leaving the Siamese Princess Restaurant at 1231 SW Washington St., Chin and his family were confronted by three male skinheads who taunted them with remarks such as “Go back to Hong Kong” and “Get out of the country.” When Chin stood his ground, he was struck repeatedly by the skinheads, who knocked him to the ground and kicked him with their combat-style boots.” Willamette Week 10/31/18.
May 1, 1988–American Front stages May 1 “White Workers Day” March down Haight Street in San Francisco. 65 attend. They also attack the anarchist bookstore Bound Together Books.
May 12, 1988–Willamette Week publishes Jim Redden’s “Young Nazis: Portland’s new breed of Racists.” This would establish Redden as an authority on the far-right in Portland, although anti-fascists constantly battled with him in print. Redden practiced a hip, transgressiveform of fascism denial and constantly attacked anti-fascists through many, many equivocation formulas. These were the days when irony was king. For a contemporary version of his garbage think Quillette written by someone in your neighborhood about shit in your neighborhood. He would later found the insipid PDXS. A 2018 Willamette Week article reprinted excerpts from Redden’s orginal article which does not appear to be accessible anywhere. https://www.wweek.com/news/2018/10/31/wws-reporting-on-how-hate-spread-across-portland-in-1988/.
June 1988–I obtain a copy of William Pierce’s neo-Nazi novel, The Turner Diaries from Amok Books in Los Angeles, a creepy outlet that also sells — I shit you not — original clown paintings by John Wayne Gacy. I’m also reading Project Censored stories, the UTNE reader, Edward F. Herman’s The Real Terror Network, and Guy Dubord’s Society of the Spectacle.
June 23, 1988–The Christic Institute’s sprawling $24 million civil suit is thrown out of court. Many of us thought the amount of resources being consumed by the case was also a crime. Likewise there was a conspiratorial framework used by Daniel Sheehan, their counsel, most spectacularly represented by the institute’s motto and logo, “Stop the Shadow Government.” https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Defend_our_constitution_christic_poster.jpg
I’m working with the Portland Central American Solidarity Committee (PCASC) and Ace Hayes, a local leftist conspiracy theorist. Ace has a substantial collection of files and a specialized library at his home in Southeast Portland. There are half a dozen younger leftists who have been working with Ace. Ace’s “origin story” bonafides include supplying weapons to the Sandinistas prior to their July, 1979 successful overthrow of the dictator Somoza, and a period working with the Black Panthers in Oakland, California. Within a year, however, most of us would distance ourselves from Ace and his “Secret Government Seminar” at least in part because it began to attract “patriots.” Ace’s “constitutionalism” and “secret government” framework was always problematic.
February, 1988–Gus Van Sant premiers his short film Ken Death Gets Out of Jail which features Ken Mieske only a few months before he would murder Mulugeta Seraw. I watch it at a Portland premier together with his feature, “Mala Noche.”
The film is noteworthy for three reasons. First, because Ken Death would murder Muligeta Seraw a few months later. Second, because Van Sant, Chris Monlux and Jack Yost (PSU peace studies–I took a class with him, hopelessly naive liberal) all knew Mieske quite well as he was a fixture in the local alternative music scene. Many people knew him, Steve Strasser and Kyle Brewster. Chris Monlux’s Monqui Presents, which ran venues in the alternative music scene, long ignored fascists organizing there, although they weren’t the only ones to do so. Third, by the time CHD hosted two “Rock Against Racism” shows in September, 1989, the struggle to drive out Portland boneheads would prove to be a protracted one. Getting them out of the music scene sometimes required working with promoters who had allowed them to be there in the first place. We worked the bands–Wehrmacht to change their name and disavow boneheads; Poison Idea to denounce boneheads at their shows, etc. The Deprived were largely anarchist as I recall and comrades, while Hitting Birth (who played the shopping cart as an instrument?), and others played a part, too.
July 9, 1988–I am transcribing the “Aryan Nations” segment on “Radio Free America” (later “For the Record” and “Anti-fascist Archives”) radio show. Emory is an “American talk radio host and conspiracy theorist, born in New York City, based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is known for his radio show which purports to uncover neo-fascism and neo-Nazism; among his more notable claims is that the Bush family was connected to the Third Reich.” Wikipedia “Dave Emory” retrieved 2.14.21. A leftish conspiracy theorist exposing far-right conspiracy theorists.
July 13, 1988–William S. Burroughs introduced by Walt Curtis at the Northwest Service Center. If you hung around cafes in Portland during the late 1980s Curtis was a fixture. I remember him holding court on NW 21st street — filthy, drunk, loud and totally mesmerizing. He stole the show with his indelible poem about lying naked under a tree in a field on a hot, summer day and the ensuing pleasure he received from a black lab. Again, I shit you not. Uproariously funny.
Ace Hayes at Laughing Horse Books. This is about the time Ward Churchill began making appearances, too.
Summer 1988–Town Hall Portland on skinheads. This was an important appearance on a local television show by racist skinheads before the murder of Mulugeta Seraw. The group POWAR (Preservation of the White American Race) were present and faced off against anti-racists. I recorded the show and may have attended. The video is in the ever illusive CHD files.
From my journal: Ace Hayes on affirmative action. We are beginning to have arguments here. Ace considers programs like affirmative action to be elite projects designed to split the working class. Most of us disagree. Cringe.
September 25, 1988–Correspondence with Ken Lawrence and Chip Berlet on LaRouche, skinheads, and NAP.
September 25, 1988–I cold call Stew Albert, co-founder of the Yippies and ally to the Black Panther Party, to complain about his maligning of Black revolutionaries in his Oregonian article about his book, The Sixties Papers. Sometime later invites me to his home and I realize my stupidity. Stew became an important mentor to anti-fascists, and sat on the board of the Coalition for Human Dignity for more than a decade. Sometime later I am present for a packet of FOIA responses Stew received about fed spying on him and John Lennon.
September 29, 1988. My appendix ruptures, my sister gets me to the hospital just in time. I spend 9 days at Good Samaritan Hospital in recovery.
Maximum Rock n Roll has a “Behind the News Round up” where scene reports on skinheads are listed.
I co-write an article for the Portland Alliance about the New Alliance Party — it is deliberately weak to allow further access to their party leaders and because I can’t quite get a handle on it. I also write about fascism.
Red Rose School forum on electoral politics (election year). DSA, Rainbow Coalition, Solidarity, Earth First!
October 9, 1988–I receive Russ Bellant’s Old Nazis, the New Right and the Reagan Administration an important example of anti-fascist journalism from that era. Third request for documentation on “Clouds Blur the Rainbow” from Chip Berlet…
October 11, 1988–phone call with Ken Lawrence about NAP. I have tapes of some of these calls (with permission).
I’m working with KBOO about War On Drugs stuff. Linda Shirley mocks me for listening to “cock rock”, she was another important KBOO figure from that era.
October 12, 1988–1hour interview by phone with Fred Newman of NAP.
September 1988–1000 union workers protest George H.W. Bush when he visits the Northwest Marine Iron Works on Swan Island. It was an angry crowd and the most militant opposition he faced on his campaign tour that year. Little Beirut is coming…
October 13, 1988–First “Secret Government Seminar” by Ace Hayes convened. Gender gap: 20 men, 3 women.
October 1988–Farrakhan links to NAP, then to Metzger and Klan, as shown by a Searchlight network chart are upsetting. I’m trying to figure out the context. Ken Lawrence later explains the shared anti-Semitism.
October 20, 1988–Second “Secret Government Seminar” with improved gender ratio: 13 men, 5 women.
October 1988–correspondence with M. Treloar on skinheads, NAP. He’s moving to Portland in December. Also Fred Goff at the Data Center, Russ Bellant of Political Research Associates, and Searchlight Magazine issues. I’m working part-time at KBOO.
October 20, 1988–I get Portland Alliance press credentials to cover a Cult Awareness Network conference. I get in some trouble with security, but record the keynote speaker, Bill Wassmuth, who I describe as “a very good, sincere, progressive Catholic.” I am disturbed by the “cult lens” being employed to understand the far-right. It’s limited, and goofy.
October 31, 1988. “October Surprise” action at Multnomah County Republican Party HQ.
Work started at Besaws Cafe in NW Portland as a graveyard fry cook.
Listening to Chumbawamba.
October 24, 1988–Together with a few comrades we begin moving Ace Hayes’ machine shop and library to his newly acquired “Box in the Woods” in Sheridan, Oregon. Not a few odd anecdotes could be added here, especially his often tense relations with the local building department. And planning department. And cops.
November 8, 1988–Oregon Citizens Alliance passes Measure 8: 52.7% — 47.3% legally enshrining anti-LGBTQ discrimination in the executive branch. While it will eventually be ruled unconstitutional, this is the beginning of the “no special rights” bullshit. This is also only five days before the Seraw murder.
November 13, 1988–Murder of Mulugeta Seraw by racist boneheads with ESWP.
November 15, 1988. AFAP meets at Ace Hayes home, where we discuss the Seraw murder and a public letter Ace wrote to city commissioner Mike Lindberg about the threat of racist skinheads and the far-right sometime previous the murder. Where is that letter? Ace’s letter was at least in part based on research we were doing on boneheads. I write an article in the Portland Alliance about U.S. support for Nazi emigres following WWII, probably from Bellant’s report.
November, 1988. Coalition for Human Dignity forms from a city sponsored community meeting. Early meetings move from City Hall to the Metroplitan Community Church (MCC), King Community Center and the cafe Cup and Saucer. I am assembling and distributing “skinhead” packets.
There is a protest against bigotry at City Hall.
November 27, 1988. I am viewing Metzger’s “Race and Reason” television show, taking names and increasing subscriptions to area far-right publications.
December 8, 1988–I travel to Whidbey Island Washington to cover the neo-Nazi Bob Mathews commemorative. Mathews was the titular head of the neo-Nazi terrorist group, The Order. He died in a shoot out with cops on Whidbey Island. Metzger and Butler are there. I hate on the RCP, cuz, well, they’re the RCP.
Comrades and I are looking for warehouse space for our “Anti-Fascist Archives Project.”
I have part-time work at UPS and Besaws.
I read Andy Oakley’s book “88”. I review it. Thought it valuable. “These questions cannot be addressed with a view of fascism in America that equates the Metzgers with the Bushes, the Moonies with the Rockefellers.”–me.
December 21, 1988–Reading Ward Churchill’s “Pacifism as Pathology.”
January 1989–I file FOIA requests with FBI, CIA, etc. on myself and am later disappointed that no one considers me a threat. Sigh.
Coast Starlight train to Oakland. I interview skins and punks at Gilman Street Theater in Berkeley. One female punker from Portland references the ASA (Anti-Skin Alliance) there and Eric Lamon (Was this China from IDHH?).
“Two wrongs don’t make a right. But three do.” –Unofficial motto of U.S. forces in Vietnam.
January 14, 1989–I obtain The Muckrakers Manual!
Frequent trips to Powell’s Books.
January 27, 1989–Ben E. Factory was an anarchist IWW organizer then involved in tenants rights and building occupations. I recall long debates between us around the Spanish Civil War and contemporary socialism vs. anarchism. I get arrested on this date at a building occupation in Seattle. My job, as it so often was, involved cutting a chain link fence with bolt cutters (always in my trunk) in advance of the march. I did so, but got arrested by a nearby undercover vice cop. The NLG represented me and the charges dropped. The cop shoved a gun in my chest and was rough.
February 18, 1989–David Duke wins Louisiana legislative seat.
March 11, 1989–Aryan Woodstock Napa, CA.
April 25, 1989–Walk for Racial Equality in Hayden Lake, Idaho protesting the annual Aryan Nations Congress attracts 1000 marchers. ADL and NWCAMH refuse to back it; effectively disavow it. I attend a press conference convened by Richard Butler on the Aryan Nations compound using press credentials from KBOO. I also write and distribute “Understanding and Confronting…” an essay at the protest event. Highlights: group listed as phone contact is “Parapolitical Research Center”, not CHD which was only beginning to get off the ground. More than 100 people from Portland travel. The NWCAMH is getting flack for receiving $ from Coors while also not including sexual orientation in their definition of hate crimes. There is still only scattered data collection on hate crimes in PNW.
Kinda the liberal version of “Treason to whiteness is loyalty to humanity.” 😂
May 10, 1989–With Ben E. Factory I interview members of Anti-Racist Action (ARA), The Baldies and the Revolutionary Anarchist Bowling League (RABL) in Minneapolis, MN. I took detailed notes and brought them back for comrades in Portland. While in no way did I start ARA in Portland, I was around and trying to communicate what the folks in Minnesota had been up to; what worked for them and what didn’t. We later visit the Chicago IWW office and meet with an old Weather Underground member.
May 20, 1989 colorblind and ARA/Syndicate flyer from Chicago for Rock Against Racism.
From “The Matrix” to “The Shop”.
“The Matrix” collective at 333 SE 3rd Street in Portland, Oregon.
“Back in the late 1980s, in the embryonic days of the Coalition for Human Dignity, together with a small group of student radicals I cobbled together something called the Antifascist Archives Project. It amounted to little more than a poster featuring a bundle of sticks with the blade of an axe protruding from the top being broken in half. The symbol is that of the fasces, the Latin term from which fascism derives. We pulled our logo from the militant Italian anti-fascist movement of the 1920s, the Arditi Del Popolo. Together with our fanatic hearts and a pile of research files to inspire the breaking, we began ferreting out fascists wherever they might be, in whatever stage of development they had progressed, at whatever cost to ourselves. We operated from the second floor of a warehouse space located at 333 SE 3rd Street in Portland, Oregon known as “The Matrix.” From the beginning, my antifascism always involved no small amount of rebellion.
Below our second-story ramshackle office was a tortilla chip factory where (in my mind’s olfactory eye) I can still smell those fresh tortillas cooking. After being cut into chips, they would slowly make their way down a small conveyor belt where they would be bagged and often consumed, hot and fresh, by yours truly. My memories of this collective space are bound up with the smell of those tortilla chips and that of another: the fresh ink that emanated from the giant offset printing press which periodically disgorged finished broadsheets for distribution by wild-eyed radicals such as myself.”–—Back to Little Beirut.
“The Matrix” housed many radical political groups, but frequent armed attacks by neo-Nazis throughout 1990-91 had anti-fascists patrolling with rifles from the rooftop. The only entrance to our offices on the second floor was through a steel-reinforced door on a warehouse loading dock. This afforded us some protection. Regardless, our presence endangered activists not accustomed to facing down boneheads. We had to relocate.
“In winter the rain-soaked Pacific Northwest wind finds its way through split bricks and cracked beams. It is fended off with wood stove and blankets, occasionally the warmth of a kindred spirit. From my office in this ramshackle warehouse, set next to a railroad crossing busy with jostling container cars and the occasional furtive hobo, surrounded by artists, counterculture types, and a few working-class intellectuals (some of whom work at Powell’s Books, a temple for what remains of the graphosphere) I engage in my phantom labor: interrogating the past so as to excavate the future.” —The Trumpen Proletariat Goes to Mars.
Comrades who have been following the “It Did Happen Here” Podcast and KBOO Radio show (https://kboo.fm/program/it-did-happen-here) know that there was a network of anti-racist groups that fought the far-right in the Pacific Northwest (especially Portland, Oregon) from 1988 into the early 2000s. I was a founding member and sometime staffer for the one of the groups profiled, the Coalition for Human Dignity (CHD). CHD was known for cutting-edge research and intelligence that targeted the far-right, together with grassroots community defense efforts. For about ten-years comrades and I waded through newspaper clippings, files, primary documents, databases, videotapes, books and cassette tapes with an eye toward operationalizing our findings. Put another way: Unlike most academics, who often craft elaborate postmortems on this or that element of the far-right, comrades with the Coalition for Human Dignity created our own “facts on the ground.” CHD activists didn’t collect data for posterity; we gathered intelligence to attack the far-right and fascists. In many ways, we were more effective at this than any of our contemporaries.
We also made mistakes, some of which will become apparent throughout these archival posts. That said, beware critics who either knowingly or naïvely wring their hands about this or that tactic wielded by comrades in the fight against the far-right. Too often they forget (if they ever knew) that the far-right and fascism are always present within the United States body politic; regardless of what stage of development such bigoted movements may be in, they must be fought using methodologies unique to those threats. Remember: fighting fascism means fighting fascists.
Today, the far-right and fascist threat is worse than at any time in my 54 years, so too the need to fight back. Trump’s ignominious departure from the White House should provide only cold comfort; the social base and political economy of fascism remain intact.
I offer this archival material so that we might compare and contrast methodologies for fighting the far-right and fascists and thereby improve our fighting capacity. Obviously, the information ecology during the 1980s-1990s was in many ways quite different from that of today — slower, less complex, more centralized, labor intensive, and analog, or pre-digital. I have long argued that the formation of “The Shop” as the intelligence wing of the Coalition for Human Dignity was necessary in order to obtain a comprehensive overview of various far-right formations then active throughout the Pacific Northwest. That overview could not be achieved without the labor-intensive work carried out by staffers and volunteers in the research wing of CHD. It was absolutely essential. In order to aid communities under attack by the far-right — in real-time — one had to operationalize research. One could not possibly coordinate efforts to fight the far-right and defend communities without the most up-to-date research and intelligence. Journalists couldn’t do it, cops were a part of it, politicians were afraid of it and academics were too busy with their post-mortems. At that time there was only one way to do it: “The Shop.”
Some of the archival material I will be posting here I’ve managed to preserve, some I’ve more recently dug up. I left the CHD around 1999 after having transferred the many filing cabinets, videos, databases, and a highly specialized library, to offices in Seattle. Sometime thereafter the group imploded but not before sending the CHD files to a kindred organization in Chicago called the Center for New Community, which also collapsed. Somewhere in these transitions the CHD files were lost or stolen; the activists who are responsible for this shocking neglect of basic movement security and respect for research deserve to be met with the harshest of criticism. You know who you are, and you should be held accountable. Anti-fascists with integrity should revisit this sordid chapter in our history, if for no other reason so as to prevent perhaps some of the same people from doing it again. And again. What happened to the files?
“The Shop” refers to the semi-secret office space maintained by CHD for about six years through a sub-lease from two professional photographers. Thanks to their generosity we were able to file our reports, stuff our filing cabinets, organize our databases, and destabilize and destroy organized bigots. The boneheads never found us, either.
CHD researchers set out to create a hybrid of library science and spycraft to fight the far-right menace. We had some limited success, for a time.
For all those older anti-fascists who have continued doing salt-of-the-earth work, I commend you and offer my sincere appreciation and support. Younger anti-fascists today operate with a sophistication, breadth and effectiveness we could only dream of. Groups like Rose City Antifa and the Pacific Northwest Anti-fascist Workers Collective continue the anti-fascist tradition. But they also face a far more dangerous menace. They need our unwavering support.
As I am no longer technically literate in any 21st-century sense, please excuse in advance what are sure to be many frustrating oversights and discombobulations. If you dig or ask me questions, I’ll do my best to clarify.
Allen’s Press Clipping Bureau (Established 1888!)
Allen’s Press Clipping Bureau was an important addition to CHD’s toolbox. Allen’s clipped articles from hundreds of newspapers across the Pacific Northwest according to keywords we provided like “racism”, “Measure 9”, and “white supremacist” then stuffed them into envelopes and mailed them to us. We would index these articles according to names, organizations and issues, then enter that information into databases that linked to the clippings, which were in turn photocopied and stored in wire-frame, legal size folders that hung inside Hon brand filing cabinets. Always Hon, always legal size (rather than letter) because there’s nothing like getting 8 1/2 x 14 size documents and trying to fit them in 8 1/2 x 11 folders—it just doesn’t work. This process was expensive and time consuming. Today, such information is generally available to anyone with a cell phone and a search engine. But not then. Did I mention it was expensive? Also, if you try Googling “David Irving 1992 Portland, Oregon” you won’t find much. Like so much of our work it was pre-internet, and has been buried. Let’s dig it up.
I hereby stake a claim to the world’s quickest solution to the video game Asteroids. That’s right, I should be in the Guinness Book of World Records. I solved the cabinet version of Asteroids at the tender age of Fourteen. I don’t stake a claim to the highest score of Asteroids, because that’s an absurd achievement. Far more important is the discovery of a solution to the game, which allowed for that ridiculous feat of physical endurance otherwise known as a “high score.” I was certainly one of, if not the, earliest human being to hack Asteroids. I discovered a way to exploit an unforeseen loophole in its design, to be able to play in perpetuity on one quarter. Allow me to explain.
With a black and white, low resolution, and highly pixilated screen, Asteroids was one of the earliest cabinet video games that joined pinball, air hockey, and foosball at bowling alleys and arcades across the United States beginning in 1979. I was fourteen-years-old then and along with some junior high school chums, we frequented a bowling alley in Ashland, Oregon. There we would flirt, cause mischief, and play our favorite games. Everyone had a three-letter digital signature used to immortalize our achievements until they were superseded by ourselves or someone else. My signature was MOZ.
Unlike other early video games and those since Asteroids was solvable. What I mean by that is not that one could achieve a high score that ended the game, or exceeded the numerical capacity of the game to record, or that there was an exit to a maze that one could discover, but that given the way the game was constructed it was possible to play on one quarter in perpetuity for as long as one could stand there. To illustrate this I need to describe the game and what my successful strategy was for solving it.
At the beginning of a game one quarter purchases the obligatory three ships or “lives” that are initially allotted to a player. An additional ship can be earned every 10,000 points. To get 10,000 points a player must shoot asteroids that come in sizes from large to medium to small. If you shoot a large one it breaks into two, then those two, if shot, each split again. The smallest asteroid, if shot, disappears. Each size of asteroid has a corresponding point value, the smaller the asteroid the more points. When a screen is cleared a new level is accessed characterized by a greater number of asteroids on the screen that travel at higher speeds. The screen is open-ended on all four sides such that if you fly your craft through one side you will appear coming out the other. It is a two-dimensional field, no depth. The asteroids follow the same logic. In addition to these asteroids flying around in a seemingly random way, a space ship will appear at various intervals and attempt to shoot your ship.
A player’s ship is rendered as a triangle that shoots from the apex and is controlled by five buttons: left and right rotation, thrust, shoot, and a hyperspace button that makes your ship disappear and reappear instantly at a random spot elsewhere. The new spot might be safe or directly in the path of an asteroid.
These then are the essential elements of the game.
I remember the day I solved Asteroids because I played on one quarter from 10 AM until 11 PM (thirteen hours) at one point peeing into a bottle. I had to stop when the bowling alley closed; I could have played longer. I did this in 1980 or 1981. I could play forever and therefore solved the game.
I had three advantages over my classmates:
First, I managed to secure lots of quarters. Not all kids my age had access to enough money to play the game as much as I did. In this sense, I just played the game more than most, and thereby became a better player.
Second, I was built for video games: I had razor-sharp reflexes, Olympic level reaction time, superior pattern recognition skills, and strong hand-eye coordination. My brain was wired tight.
Lastly, I hit upon an approach to successful play that was somewhat counterintuitive and very difficult to master. Move! Instead of being cautious and moving slowly to avoid being hit by asteroids, I would almost immediately begin flying through screens — usually up through the ceiling to emerge from the equivalent spot through the bottom of the floor. I would hold the thrust down and fly at near maximum speed. This maneuver was very difficult to master and took hours of practice, but once perfected something odd happened. Asteroids began to “slow down” much like the frequency of a siren shifts downward as it passes away from you, producing the Doppler Effect. Objects on the screen appear to slow as a thrown football does in mid-air if you are running in the same direction as it is traveling. Finally, patterns began to emerge in the way the asteroids were released at different levels together with how they behaved once struck by a shot from my ship.
There is a similar principle at work in today’s First Person Shooter (FPS) games. All things being equal it is better to be moving among enemies rather than stationary and having them move to you. This is behind what is arguably the most hated insult a player can be on the receiving end of in a FPS game, being called a “camper,” someone who just sits in a spot waiting to kill other players. This approach to play can yield results — for instance, if you are a sniper — but again, all things being equal, “movement is life.”
Aside from these three advantages, there were two structural elements incorporated by developers into the game of Asteroids that made a solution possible. First, there was no cap on the number of ships a player could have in reserve, so if a player was good enough at staying alive through multiple rounds that player could continue to accumulate ships. I would often fill the entire screen with extra ships — thirty, forty, even fifty — which allowed for hours of play.
Second, there was a cap to the complexity of asteroids released at successive levels. At some point the number of asteroids that appeared for a new level did not breach the threshold for my effective play; the complexity was daunting, with asteroids all around and a small spaceship that would quickly appear and attack my ship followed by another in rapid succession, but it didn’t keep increasing. It plateaued. It was difficult, but with enough of the right kind of play, I could handle it.
Was this a flaw in the design of the game? Probably. I think programmers either didn’t anticipate players would be able to function at that level of complexity or they wagered only a very small number would and that that was not a barrier to the game making money. The game did make money, with some 60,000 units sold by the early 1980s, but at some point the company recognized the flaw in their design. The Wikipedia entry for Asteroids notes that arcade owners began complaining to Atari about players (like me) costing them money. Atari released Asteroids Deluxe soon after as a fix. On the other hand, perhaps the very fact kids like me were able to solve asteroids after (but only after) hundreds, perhaps thousands, of quarters also contributed to making the game a hit. Whatever the case, I don’t think any subsequent cabinet video games allowed for players to dominate them such that one could play them for hours on one quarter.
I glean two lessons from playing Asteroids as a kid: First, Big Tech can be beaten. There is always a hack, always a way around their code. Second, beating Big Tech is a pyrrhic victory unless one shares the spoils of that victory. Soon after I was able to accumulate ships I began sharing them with friends so we could all save quarters. I would like to think I was a budding socialist even at the tender age of fourteen.
The contemporary Amerikan liberal is a specimen of political animal whose greatest strength is also its greatest weakness. The roly-poly toy Weebles captures perfectly the broad but shallow political tradition that narrowly defeated Donald Trump in the recent presidential elections: “Tipping an egg-shaped Weeble causes a weight located at the bottom-center to be lifted off the ground. Once released, gravity brings the Weeble back into an upright position.” (Weeble–Wikipedia Retrieved 11/10/20). The weight is fidelity to private property and markets as the sine-qua-non of democracy; the “wobble” constitutes repeated attempts to solve the intractable and recurring crises that this unstable marriage of democracy and capitalism produces. The key here is that Weebles are very kinetic, but only over a very limited terrain. They move a lot, but not very far nor very quickly. They are remarkably stable, but also inflexible. To stop fascism and replace capitalism with a political economy that serves the many and not the few, we need to move. Weebles only move slowly, in a haphazard manner, and never in a predetermined direction. Push a Weeble one way, and it will lean the other, while its fulcrum will shift in an altogether different direction. Kinda frustrating. Indeed, they don’t fall over, but we should not mistake such leaning to and fro as movement toward any destination other than where they already reside.
Sheryl Sandberg, the Facebook executive and faux feminist, is generally credited with popularizing the term “lean in” as a meta concept for contemporary progressives. The core operating principle behind “lean in” Democrats is the Weeble wobble. If one is standing still, to lean in is to initiate a deviation from a perpendicular position; it is to begin an inclination as one tips the body into a slope. Above all it signals a state of readiness to move in a particular direction. Such a maneuver does not, however, fully commit one to moving in that direction. When one leans there is always an element of hedging; always an aspect of waiting, of anticipating, and therefore the possibility of staying put or even reversing the lean and heading off in another, even opposite, direction. To lean is also by definition to be a bit off balance. Bill Clinton was the consummate practitioner of the political maneuver known as triangulation, something similar to the Weeble wobble, but with one major difference. Clinton’s triangulating was always a form of political calculation; the Weeble wobble is a function of the limits of the liberal philosophical horizon.
This Weeble wobble is almost always well-meaning but also ineffectual; it is earnest and committed waffling, passionate virtue signaling and much celebrated but empty representational politics. Hence, its popularity amongst liberal ideologues. They lean a great deal, but go nowhere. They are perpetually “leaning” towards justice, yet never actually moving to it. Everything is about intention, not results; opportunity, not equality. It’s no wonder so many people hate them. Conservatives, by the way, practice much the same politics. In times of social quiescence such middle-of-the-road centrism anchors capitalism by bracketing out radical solutions to systemic problems.
These are not those times.
Liberals always link political freedom to private property and markets; economic opportunity to the capitalist ship of state. This means they necessarily undermine struggles for economic equality, anti-racism, gender liberation and anti-fascism. To uphold the universalism and exceptionalism claimed by the United States of Amerika involves punching downward in an effort to thwart popular revolutionary struggles. When the political center no longer offers solutions to the recurring crises endemic to capitalism, people look elsewhere for an exit. They will look to fascism or socialism. The first is a door that opens to a cliff. The second must not be a door that binds us to more of the Weeble wobble. Our class solidarity and mutual aide is the only guarantee of a different future. That means we must break decisively with liberalism in the direction of radical democracy and equality.
Thoughts on life... by Donald B. Wilson
Recipes showing step by step directions with pictures and a printable recipe card.
The Storyteller (Qissa-Go)
Chronicles of Everyday Life
educator, writer, photographer
"Find what you love and let it kill you." – Charles Bukowski
4 out of 5 dentists recommend this WordPress.com site
Historian. Organizer. Writer.
The Web log of Dr. Joseph Suglia
Blogging on the new "Caring Economics" that takes into account the full spectrum of economic activities–from the life–sustaining activities of the household, to the life-enriching activities of caregivers and communities, to the life-supporting processes of nature.