Barro Blanco Protesters Injured and Arrested During Crackdown in Panama

By  / Intercontinental Cry

Protests against the Barro Blanco hydro dam in western Panama turned violent last Saturday, July 25, when riot police, claiming to act in self-defense, unleashed pepper spray and batons on some 50 Ngäbe activists, women and children among them. At least three protesters were badly injured in the clash.

The crackdown occurred during a visit to the area by the Panamanian Vice President Isabel Saint Malo, who, under the pretext of dialogue, convened three Ngäbe leaders behind closed doors at the Centro Misionero (Mission Centre) in the town of Tolé. Despite a reasonable request to be included in the meeting, leaders from local community groups were excluded. Activists responded to Saint Malo’s move by blockading the Carretera Interamericana, the country’s principle highway.

Protesters, including women and children, recover after clashes with the police. (Photo: Oscar Sogandares)
Protesters, including women and children, recover after clashes with the police. (Photo: Oscar Sogandares)

According to the Ngäbe, at around 10:15 am, in scenes reminiscent of the Martinelli years, the police reacted violently to disperse the 50-strong protesters, destroying their equipment, trashing their camps, and burning their banners.

The police deny improper use of force.

Edilma Pinto, 17, suffered a fractured foot during the police crackdown. (Photo: Oscar Sogandares)
Edilma Pinto, 17, suffered a fractured foot during the police crackdown. (Photo: Oscar Sogandares)

 

Many fled the scene before 20 people were arrested (including several minors) and dispatched to the city of Santiago for processing.

While in the private meeting with Saint Malo, the Cacique of Muná, Chito Gallardo, and the Mayor of Muná, Rolando Carpintero, learned of the arrests and quickly intervened to have them returned. The injured were soon taken to the Casa Misionero for treatment and for the Vice President to bear witness.

According to one person at the scene, the vice president appeared coolly uninterested.

Some 20 Ngäbe protesters were detained by the police. (Photo: Oscar Sogandares)
Some 20 Ngäbe protesters were detained by the police. (Photo: Oscar Sogandares)

 

For several weeks, hundreds of police units have been stationed in and around Tolé, including numerous SENAFRONT troops, an elite militarized squad funded in part by the United States. SENAFRONT is normally charged with defending the jungle frontier with Colombia, making their presence of considerable significance.

Under the US Leahy Law on Human Rights, the US Department of State is prohibited from providing military assistance to foreign units who violate human rights with impunity.

Partly funded by the US State Department, elite SENAFRONT troops have been dispatched to the area. (Photo: Oscar Sogandares)
Partly funded by the US State Department, elite SENAFRONT troops have been dispatched to the area. (Photo: Oscar Sogandares)

 

The clashes on the Interamericana foreshadow greater unrest as Barro Blanco’s owner, Generadora del Istmo (GENISA) – a corporation owned by the controversial Kafie family, now mired in a high-level corruption scandal in Honduras – scrambles to complete the final 5-10% of the hydro dam’s construction.

The company has never sought the free, informed, and prior consent of the indigenous communities living on the banks of the Tabasará river, while the project’s funders, the Dutch and German investment banks FMO and DFE, admit to failing their own due diligence tests. Unfortunately, all funds have now been dispensed to GENISA and the banks themselves made a point of threatening the government when it suspended the project earlier this year.

The negative impacts of Barro Blanco have been identified by scores of technical teams, independent experts, international observers, and the United Nations. Those same impacts are nowhere to be found in GENISA’s Environmental Impact Assessment. Among them, the dam will displace several indigenous and campesino communities, including the community of Kiad, where a unique school and cultural centre is developing the written script of the Ngäbere language.

The ancient Ngabere language is taught at this school house in Kiad. (Photo: Richard Arghiris)
The ancient Ngabere language is taught at this school house in Kiad. (Photo: Richard Arghiris)

 

Additional impacts include the loss of farm plots and fish stocks — vital sources of sustenance for indigenous and campesino communities in the region – as well as the loss of several ancient petroglyphs, part of Panama’s national patrimony and a special significance to the Mama Tata religion, a Ngäbe revivalist movement that syncretises indigenous animism and Catholicism.

The Ngabere language is a great source of cultural pride. (Photo: Richard Arghiris)
The Ngabere language is a great source of cultural pride. (Photo: Richard Arghiris)

 

Among the most devout followers of Mama Tata are the M22 resistance movement, who successfully blockaded the entrance to the dam for 38 consecutive days – until just ten days ago. International news footage of the groups praying and dancing on the highway may have influenced the government’s decision to enforce a ‘soft’ take-over of the site entrance. In contrast to the force deployed outside Tolé, Ngäbe women lying in the path of machinery were carefully removed.

Construction of the dam has now resumed and M22 are continuing to pray day and night by the highway. They complain of psychological intimidation with the police shining high intensity lamps on their camp during the night and aggressively entering the temple they have built near the river banks.

Days before their eviction from the site entrance, M22 gather for prayers under police spotlights. (Photo: Oscar Sogandares)
Days before their eviction from the site entrance, M22 gather for prayers under police spotlights. (Photo: Oscar Sogandares)

 

For his part, Panamanian President Varela, who continues to talk condescendingly about giving the Ngäbe ‘the keys to the dam’ upon its completion, appears to have acquiesced to pressures from his own business community, tacitly enabling foreign corporations who respect neither the environment nor international law nor indigenous or human rights.

The Supreme Court has cheered him on by annulling a moratorium on hydro projects passed by the environment agency, ANAM, who were concerned with the stress being placed on Panama’s delicate but biologically rich watersheds. With the crackdown last week, the Panamanian government appears officially back to business as usual.

From Intercontinental Cry: https://intercontinentalcry.org/barro-blanco-protesters-injured-and-arrested-28467/#imageclose-28472

Indigenous Activists Block Entry to the Barro Blanco Hydro Dam

By and  / Intercontinental Cry

June 14, 2015

NGÄBE ISSUE ULTIMATUM TO THE GOVERNMENT OF PANAMA: CANCEL THE PROJECT BY MONDAY

A 30-strong splinter group of Ngäbe from the M10 resistance movement has blocked the entrance to the Barro Blanco hydroelectric dam in western Panama, preventing workers from entering the site. The 15 year struggle of the Tabasará river communities to protect their livelihoods, their culture, and their ancestral heritage now appears to be entering a tense new phase. With negotiations exhausted and the dam 95% complete, M10 has an issued an ultimatum for the government to cancel the project by Monday, June 15, 2015. It is unclear how the government will respond.

“Being Ngäbe-Buglé cultural patrimony,” said Clementina Pérez, part of the group camped at Barro Blanco’s gates. “Our river, our mother earth, our ecology, our existence, we are here to make known to the national and international community that this patrimony belongs to us and to the church of Mama Tata. With the conservation of peace, liberty, justice and unity, liberation and social justice… [we ask] the President of the Republic the cancellation and removal of the dam from our communities, our river and our mother earth, which belong to us as original people of the Americas…”

Funded by European banks – the German Investment Corporation (DEG) and the Dutch Development Bank (FMO) – the dam is set to inundate a string of Ngäbe and campesino communities, all of whom have voiced their objections from the outset. The flood will destroy ancestral petroglyphs, fertile agricultural grounds, and Mama Tata cultural centres, including a unique school where the emerging written script of the Ngäbere language is being developed and disseminated. The dam will significantly impact the river’s marine life, wiping out migratory fish species which many communities – both up and down stream – rely upon for essential protein. None of the Tabasará communities have provided their free, informed and prior consent to the dam, a fact recently confirmed by the FMO’s own independent complaints mechanism (ICM).

 “Lenders should have sought greater clarity on whether there was consent to the project from the appropriate indigenous authorities prior to project approval,” said an ICM report, published on May 29, 2015. “[The plan] contains no provision on land acquisition and resettlement and nothing on biodiversity and natural resources management. Neither does it contain any reference to issues related to cultural heritage…”

The report is the latest in a series of professional analyses that pour a thick layer of scorn over the dam project’s owner, Generadora del Istmo (GENISA). Demonstrably unlawful, GENISA has been condemned by numerous independent investigators, the United Nations, several international NGOs, and Panama’s own environmental agency, ANAM, who found a raft of flaws and short-comings in their environmental impact assessment.

But despite failing their own due diligence, the banks appear to have shrugged off the ICM report with an insipid call for “constructive dialogue” and “a solution for a way forward.” In February this year, the FMO chose to threaten the government of Panama after building work was temporarily suspended on the recommendation of ANAM. Writing to the Vice President, the FMO warned that the suspension “May weigh upon future investment decisions, and harm the flow of long-term investments into Panama.”

The government seems to have taken this threat to heart. Panama’s president, Juan Carlos Varela, who was elected to office in 2014, flip-flopped on Barro Blanco before finally falling in line. Last week, while proffering flimsy reassurances about having found a human rights solution, his government left the negotiating table and signaled an end to the suspension of works. M10 claims the work never stopped and has been continuing clandestinely. They are now mobilizing for action.

Clementina Perez (Photo: Oscar Sogandares)
Clementina Perez (Photo: Oscar Sogandares)

“If this situation is not resolved,” said Clementina Pérez, “We will go to the Panamerican highway to ask together, at a national level, the cancellation of Barro Blanco…”

Rising with stark grey walls above the denuded banks of the Tabasará, Barro Blanco has become a symbol of the previous administration, its fundamental violence and contempt for the rule of law. The former President Ricardo Martinelli – now on the run in the United States and facing a corruption probe back home – provoked no less than four major uprisings as he grasped for land and resources in Panama’s indigenous territories. Heavy-handed repression resulted in the deaths of several protesters and bystanders, including an unarmed teenage boy who was shot in the face by police. Barro Blanco is the visible legacy of a proudly thuggish President who serially abused Panama’s Indigenous Peoples and plundered the country at will. Thus far, Varela has been keen to strike a more decent and humane tone. How he now handles the crisis evolving on the banks of the Tabasará River will be a demonstration of his sincerity, or lack of.

From Intercontinental Cryhttps://intercontinentalcry.org/ngabe-block-entry-to-barro-blanco-hydro-dam-panama-28186/

Will Falk: Science vs. the Real World on Mauna Kea

By Will Falk / Deep Green Resistance

Many view the debate surrounding the Thirty Meter Telescope’s proposed construction on Mauna Kea and Kanaka Maolis’ opposition to it as fundamentally a question of science versus culture. On the benign end, the word “science” has come to connote something close to cool and objective rationality – nothing more nor less than a collection of knowledge to be used in man’s (isn’t it always “man’s”?) noble aim to transcend nature. More malevolently, however, pitting science against indigenous culture is nothing more than insidious racism. This racism operates on the often unchallenged claim that science is an inherently western way of knowing and therefore superior to indigenous ways of knowing.

In fact, some Mauna Kea protectors wish to avoid this rhetorical ploy so strongly they can be heard saying, “We’re not against science, we’re just against building this telescope on Mauna Kea.” Their words imply that the telescope could be built somewhere else and western science allowed to run its course everywhere but here.

Personally, I am against the construction of telescopes anywhere and I have lots of problems with western science. I am careful to emphasize the adjective “western” in western science because Kanaka Maolis often remind me that they’ve always known many of the things western science claims to have discovered. Remember, as Mauna Kea protector Hualalai Keohula has reminded me, that Kanaka Maoli navigated the world’s largest and greatest ocean in canoes built with wood and stone, aided with nothing more powerful than the naked human eye, centuries before the West realized the world was round. This, it should be said, is the right way, the least destructive way, the non-violent way to practice astronomy.

I speak only for myself, here, but I will go so far to say I wish western science never existed. I know in today’s dominant culture my wish is pure blasphemy. As my friend Derrick Jensen noted in his brilliant work Dreams, science is the new monotheism. The old monotheisms – Christianity, Judaism, Islam – succeeded in removing meaning from the natural world and placed meaning in the hands of a jealous, abstract God dwelling in far-off heavens. Science, then, erased God and obliterated any possibility of meaning with Him. When I make these arguments, I’ve found it to be like Jensen has observed, when you blaspheme God, you are called a disbeliever. When you blaspheme science, you are called an idiot.

Still, on the whole, science has been a disaster for life on Earth. The first problem with science is the first problem with so many products of the murderous culture we live in. The first problem with science is science’s epistemology is rooted in this culture’s epistemology. And, this culture’s epistemology is based on domination. Epistemology is the study of how we know what we know.

One way to understand science is to trace what the leading scientific epistemologists have to say. Remember Sir Francis Bacon from your 6th grade science class? He invented what we call today “The Scientific Method.” He said his “only earthly wish is to stretch the deplorably narrow limits of man’s dominion over the universe” by “putting her (nature) on the rack and extracting her secrets.” As if that wasn’t scary enough, Bacon went on to say, “I am come in very truth leading you to Nature with all her children to bind her to your service and make her your slave.”

Or what about the hugely popular science apologist, Richard Dawkins? He writes in his book A Devil’s Chaplain: Reflections on Hope, Lies, Science, and Love that “Science boosts its claim to truth by its spectacular ability to make matter and energy jump through hoops on command, and to predict what will happen and when.”

“To make matter and energy jump through hoops on command” is a soft way to spell domination. Substitute yourself for “matter and energy” (that is what you are, of course). How would you feel if a scientist pointed a gun at you, or shot electrical currents through your muscles, or stuffed you into a cage, starved you, pumped your body full of chemicals and forced you to jump through hoops at his command?

The culture we live in is based on domination. How else do we account for the fact that one in five women will be raped in her lifetime? One in four girls and one in six boys sexually abused before they turn 18? How else do we account for the fact that 2.6 people are killed by American police every day?

Why, then, would we expect western science – a product of this culture – to be any different?

***

There’s a better way to judge science. It is a question that should form all of our moralities. The question is simple.”Is the real world better off because of science?” I think the answer to that question is a resounding no.

I come to that conclusion because my morality takes the needs of the real, physical world as primary. Water, soil, air, climate, my body, your body, and the food that sustains us are all formed by complex relationships of living beings. These living beings form the communities that make life possible. The needs of these communities must inform every action humans take. Anything else is suicidal.

I understand that science can be useful. Western science gives us modern medicine, for example, but modern medicine is more often than not a leaky band-aid applied to a wound created by science in the first place. Many tell me that western science is going to give us the cure to cancer while they forget that most cancers are produced by environmental toxins that exist because of science. I understand that western science can help us predict the devastating consequences of climate change, but science opened the road to the technologies responsible for climate change in the first place. Western science is responsible for napalm, agent orange, and atomic weapons. Of course, the surest way to prevent the destruction those weapons caused would have been to never open the doors of knowledge that lead to them.

The TMT project serves as a perfect reflection of the insanity of western science. Just like western science gains knowledge through domination, the TMT project is only possible through the domination of Kanaka Maoli. If the original people of Hawai’i were not exterminated by genocidal processes, were not made second-class citizens on their own islands, their culture not beaten to within inches of its life by American denationalization programs, Mauna Kea would be truly protected with the highest reverence.

But, western scientists have arrived, confident in the role Francis Bacon has laid out for them, to stretch Hawai’i on the rack and extract her secrets from her. The cops have come twice, with guns on their hips, to make Mauna Kea protectors vacate the Mauna Kea Access Road like Dawkins’ scientists who make matter and energy jump through hoops on command and arresting anyone who refuses the command.

Again, let’s ask the most important question of all. Is the real world better off with or without the TMT?

One way to answer this is to examine the physical processes needed to construct the TMT. Included in these physical processes are the actual materials used in construction. I am no expert on telescope construction and I’ve found it difficult so far to find detailed lists of the materials that will form the TMT (probably because acquiring these materials are a disaster for the environment.) From what I can tell, though, the TMT will be built with materials like steel, aluminum, and other rare earth metals.

You cannot have the TMT without steel, aluminum, and other rare earth metals. You cannot have steel, aluminum, and other rare earth metals without mountain top removal, open pit mining, and the combustion of vast quantities of fossil fuels. You cannot have mountain top removal, open pit mining, and the combustion of vast quantities of fossil fuels without climate change, mass extinctions, the forced removal of indigenous peoples, and the violent labor conditions present in extraction industries. So, before the materials needed to build the TMT ever even arrive in Hawai’i, they will be covered in the blood of humans and non-humans alike.

Telescopes are a disaster for the real world just like western science has been. Telescopes cannot be anything other than disasters for the real world because they are products of a murderous system of knowledge. It might be really super cool to discover the 832nd star in the 412th known galaxy with a new, massive telescope. This knowledge, however, comes through the domination of life on earth.

Mauna Kea – and I would argue all mountains – might be best understood as a complex community of living creatures living in mutual relationship. The needs of this community trump the desires of science. Mauna Kea itself acts as a giant water filter and houses the largest freshwater aquifer on Hawai’i Island. Everyone needs clean drinking water, but there have already been seven documented mercury spills associated with the telescopes on Mauna Kea. Currently threatened, endemic species call Mauna Kea home. The needs of mamane trees and ahinahina to live trumps the curiosity of astronomers to peep at other worlds.

***

Before I finish, let me anticipate the objections I will receive. Yes, I am quite aware of the comforts brought to some of us by western science. But, when we talk about how great science is for “us,” who are we talking about? Are we talking about the few indigenous societies clinging to their traditional ways of life, clinging to the only human ways of life that were ever truly sustainable? Are we talking about polar bears? Sumatran tigers? Bluefin tuna? We can’t be talking about West African black rhino because they just fell into the deepest dark of total extinction.

I know that science produced the internet, the laptop I’m typing on, and brought the delicious cold brew coffee I’m drinking. People often criticize me asking, “How can you condemn these wonderful tools you are using? You get on planes and travel to Hawai’i, you get in cars to visit places across Turtle Island, aren’t you a” – and they gasp – “a hypocrite?”

My answer is simple. Yes, I might be a hypocrite, but I believe my friend Lierre Keith who said, “Understand: the task of an activist is not to negotiate systems of power with as much personal integrity as possible – its to dismantle those systems.” Western science is a system of power and must be dismantled if we have any chance of surviving the catastrophe facing us. Sitting Bull used American made rifles to defend his people from American cavalrymen. Ken Saro-Wiwa, the Nigerian poet who was murdered for resisting Shell Oil in his homeland, wrote in English – the language of his oppressors.

I wish with all my heart that I could live as our ancestors lived – a life free from the deepest anxiety that in a few years everything might be gone. I was raised in the Wasatch and Uinta Mountains of Utah – a place I just visited – and I wish with all my heart that I could spend my life walking in Indian paintbrush, columbine, daisies, and lupine consumed in the total wonder and beauty of life. I wish with all my heart that I could sit still in simple expression of the love I feel. But, while everyone I love is under attack, it is simply unforgivable not to do everything within my power to protect them. It is simply unforgivable not to use every tool at my disposal to defend them.

History reveals western science as an accomplice to the murder of the real world. Western science is attempting the murder of Mauna Kea. Mauna Kea and the real world demand that we stop it.

Will Falk has been working and living with protesters on Mauna Kea who are attempting to block construction of an 18-story astronomical observatory with an Extremely Large Telescope (ELT).

From Counterpunch: http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/07/21/science-vs-the-real-world-on-mauna-kea/

Find an index of Will Falk’s “Protecting Mauna Kea” essays, plus other resources, at:
Deep Green Resistance Hawai’i: Protect Mauna Kea from the Thirty Meter Telescope

Thomas Linzey: The Coal Trains’ Track to Nowhere

By Thomas Linzey / CELDF

Four years ago, as we were leaving Spokane to help rural Pennsylvania communities stop frack injection wells and gas pipelines, this region’s environmental groups couldn’t stop talking about “stopping the coal trains.”

After people in British Columbia – including NASA’s top climate scientist James Hansen – were arrested for blocking oil trains; and after people in Columbia County, Oregon have now proposed a countywide ban on new fossil fuel trains, one would think that both the Spokane City Council and the region’s environmental groups would have begun to take strong steps here to, well, actually stop the coal trains.

After all, there is now almost universal agreement that the continued use of fossil fuels threatens almost every aspect of our lives – from scorching the climate to acidifying the oceans and fomenting widespread droughts.

But it seems that both the Council and this region’s environmental groups have resigned themselves to being silent accomplices to this slow-moving disaster.

A few weeks ago, at a forum on coal and oil trains, rather than propose a citywide ban on oil and coal trains, those groups instead focused on the dangers of train derailments and coal dust – two real issues to be sure – but ones that fall completely short of recognizing the underlying problems posed by the trains.

If the problem is derailments and dust, then the solution is to reinforce and cover the railroad cars. That may or may not happen, but even if it does, it doesn’t solve the fundamental problem posed by the coal and oil trains. Instead, such a stance broadcasts the message from the City of Spokane and this region’s environmental groups that the coal and oil trains are okay as long as they are “safe.”

The real problem, of course, is that the fossil fuels that the oil and coal trains carry – when used the way they are intended to be used – can never be made “safe” because their guaranteed combustion is slowly boiling the very planet on which we live.

At the end of Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart’s presentation at the forum last week, he spoke about his dead-end meetings with state and federal officials, whose doors were open to the energy and railroad corporations but not to communities affected by the trains. Stuckart declared that he wasn’t sure that anything short of laying down on the tracks would stop the coal and oil trains.

For one brief shining moment, it seemed that the heavens had parted and what we’re really up against – a governmental system controlled by the very corporations it is ostensibly supposed to regulate – came shining through.

As I watched, people across the room began to shout and applaud; and then, just as quickly as it had come, it passed, as the hosts of the forum steered everyone back to their latest moving target – this time, urging people to write letters begging Governor Inslee to stop proposed oil and gas exports. In other words, now nicely asking the Governor to stop more oil and coal trains from invading Spokane.

I then realized why I stopped going to those gatherings – I stopped because the form of activism proposed by the groups actually strips us of the belief that we’re capable of doing anything by ourselves, as a community, to actually stop the trains. Writing letters reinforces a hopelessness of sorts – that we’re completely dependent on the decision by others to “save” us, and that we’re incapable of taking action to save ourselves.

It would be akin to the civil rights movement writing letters to congress instead of occupying the lunch counter or the seats at the front of the bus. Or Sam Adams sending a letter to King George urging him to put safety bumpers on the ships carrying tea, rather than having a tea party by dumping casks of tea in the harbor.
Until we confront the energy and railroad corporations directly, they will continue to treat Spokane as a cheap hotel. We need to ban and stop the trains now – using everything that we can – before future generations wonder why we spent so much time sending letters and so little time protecting them.

Thomas Alan Linzey, Esq., is the Executive Director of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund and a resident of the City of Spokane. The Legal Defense Fund has assisted over two hundred communities across the country, including the City of Pittsburgh, to adopt local laws stopping corporate factory farms, waste dumping, corporate water withdrawals, fracking, and gas pipelines. He is a cum laude graduate of Widener Law School and a three-time recipient of the law school’s public interest law award. He has been a finalist for the Ford Foundation’s Leadership for a Changing World Award, and is a recipient of the Pennsylvania Farmers Union’s Golden Triangle Legislative Award. He is admitted to practice in the United States Supreme Court, the Third, Fourth, Eighth, and Tenth Circuit Courts of Appeals, the U.S. District Court for the Western and Middle Districts of Pennsylvania, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Linzey was featured in Leonardo DiCaprio’s film 11th Hour, assisted the Ecuadorian constitutional assembly in 2008 to adopt the world’s first constitution recognizing the independently enforceable rights of ecosystems, and is a frequent lecturer at conferences across the country. His work has been featured in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Mother Jones, the Nation magazine, and he was named, in 2007, as one of Forbes’ magazines’ “Top Ten Revolutionaries.” He can be reached at tal@pa.net.

On Sacred Biology: Interview with Michelle Peixinho and Mary Lou Singleton

Editor’s Note: This video was streamed live on May 14, 2015, by TRTV Show Real Talk. Deep Green Resistance volunteers transcribed the dialogue, published here.

Mark: Hello, hello, and good evening and welcome to transition radio live from the land of enchantment: Silver City, New Mexico. My name is Mark Angelo Cummings.

Lynna: And I’m Lynna Arielle Lopez, and I’ll be your hostess.

Mark: Yes, and I am your host, hostess. Gender, what is gender?

Lynna: Male? Female?

Mark: We’re human beings. The way I always like to say, we’re spirits having a human experience.

Lynna: That’s right.

Mark: Some of us have taken this human experience a little too far. It’s all about growing and learning. And talking about learning and growing, you get to know your true friends are all about times of situations when you no longer sing the same tune that you used to sing before, and then people freak out. They attack you, they unfriend you. They go as far as to take away your livelihood.

Lynna: Sabotage maybe.

Mark: Yes, sabotage. I wanted to share a little email that we got from somebody who was giving us a heads up on who actually contacted the sponsors. The email goes:

Just a heads up Mark, this was posted in FTM Wolf Pack. Josh Ortiz—good friend apparently….

Lynna: Fellow FTM

Mark: Yes, which I thought.

“What can we do to stop him”, he quotes. “That’s what I’ve got to know. I work closely with Spunk Lube”—one of our sponsors—“I contacted them yesterday morning and advised them of his agenda. They pulled their sponsorship immediately. Same with the Breast Form Store. I contacted them also and they pulled their sponsorship” He stated: “he will be teaming up with hardcore right-wing conservatives. My fear with that is this: the 1% has 99% of the funds. The funds they will gladly pay to someone like his dumb ass”—he’s referring to me—“and their agenda. What can we do?” Well it seems to me that they’re actually threatening. God knows we’ve already got some threats on Gender Trender “we know where you live.” This is bizarre. Truly Bizarre.

Lynna: All because we want to say the truth.

Mark: Because we want to expose that this whole transgender—gender dysphoria—is all a lie. We’re going to have shows about that, explaining what we mean by “it’s all a lie”, and go into greater details. Really put some light on this subject.

Lynna: Transition Radio TV is more like transitioning from that thought to a new type of thought.

Mark: Like our intro says: a new beginning, a new way of thinking, a new way of being. This whole concept of black and white, people have to realize that there are so many shades of grey.

Lynna: So thanks to Josh we don’t have a sponsor for our show anymore. Thank you Josh. We’re going to be looking for new mainstream sponsors to sponsor our program.

Mark: Individuals that believe in what we’re doing are always telling me they didn’t help us because this has been our focus. We plan to take this to the next level. We plan to educate: do seminars, talk in schools, and try to prevent this black and white you’re either a boy or a girl. We need to stop this mentality and especially stop these drugs that are being given to our kids. The blockers, and hormones and 14 year olds having their breasts cut off. I look back on what I’ve done. I want to have a show especially on this, and really pour my heart out in what’s created these changes in me.

Tonight we have two amazing ladies, Michelle Peixinho and Mary Lou Singleton. Michelle San Buenaventura Peixinho is a Filipino-American originally from Manilla and Honolulu. She has been living in Rio Arriba with her family since 2000.

Lynna: Michelle has over 20 years non-profit experience beginning in 1992 with the environmental, and environmental justice movement. She has worked as a community leader, organizer, program manager, development director and executive director. Since moving to northern New Mexico she was appointed by the governor to serve on the New Mexico Women’s Health Council from 2005-2009. Michelle served as a Midwives of Color section chair for the Midwives Alliance of North America from 2008-2010.

Mark: Michelle holds a Bachelor degree and is a certified professional midwife and a licensed midwife in the state of New Mexico.

Mary Lou Singleton was raised in an Irish Catholic working class family in a dying steel town during the Reagan recession. She has been a lifelong advocate for the rights of females.

Lynna: After graduating from Grinnell College she moved to Albuquerque New Mexico to study midwifery and herbalism, and has lived in New Mexico since. She has served on the Boards of Directors of the Midwives Alliance of North America and the National Association of Certified Professional Midwives, and worked for over 15 years as a busy home-birth attendant.

Mark: Welcome to the show, the lovely Mary Lou and Michelle.

Mary Lou & Michelle: Thank you. Thanks for having us on.

Mark: It’s a pleasure, it’s a pleasure.

We were watching some videos earlier today to get a little glimpse of the lives of midwives and what they actually do, since it’s pretty much gone to the wayside. Or am I wrong, is it something that’s still very much used nowadays? Or is the grim hospital what waits for pregnant women?

Michelle: Only about 1% of the babies in this country are born at home. Compare that to a country like the Philippines—or another developing country—where almost 60% of the babies are born outside of the hospital. So that’s how far we’ve come in our use of the hospital.

Lynna: Is that in a very short amount of time? Within the last 30-40 years?

Mary Lou: Before World War II about 90% of births occurred outside of the hospital, and since the 50’s it’s turned to 99% of births happening in the hospital. It very much paralleled the industrialization in the rest of our culture, turning everything into a mechanized scientific process rather than a natural process.

Mark: My great grandmother in Cuba was a Midwife…

Mary Lou: Great, you’ve got it in your blood!

Mark: It’s pretty sad though that society, and the human race, puts so much trust in the medical system. They don’t even realize that the medical system is not there to help them. That includes the process of birthing.

Michelle: It is a market driven system. Bottom line. When you have a market driven system those are going to be the priorities. Right now our maternal health system is such that we have natural assets right there in the room that we are not even utilizing. In fact we are negating, and making it impossible to utilize them. That is what is embodied in the woman herself, in her body. The hormones and the biological system that is available to us if we wanted to use it, and the natural world; the plant life, and the animal life, the spirit life, whatever it is that we have access to. Those are things that are extremely powerful, and at the heart of midwifery and child birthing that is not presently used at all in maternal health in hospitals.

Lynna: In a hospital setting when the woman is pregnant, the hospital and the doctors all encourage them to just go with whatever is available in the hospital. They install a fear of complications and issues that may arise. That’s one of the first things I hear when people say “Oh you’re going to have a baby at home with a midwife. Don’t you know that you could run into all kinds of complications?” What do you say about that?

Mary Lou: Our species has been very successful at reproducing. We’ve taken over the entire planet. Birth works really well. If it didn’t work so well we wouldn’t have evolved to the point where we have hospitals. I think for a healthy low-risk woman, birth 90% of the time will happen just fine attended by conscious careful loving midwives who can, like Michelle said, channel that power that is inside the body that comes through our biology and life. Everything in the hospital is designed to suppress that power and to turn off maternal instinct—to turn the woman into the patient.

Michelle: Not just only to suppress but to appropriate. So for example: we’re not even allowing a woman to access her own pituitary process to produce the hormones that stimulate the uterus and create labor. Instead what we’re doing is using a synthetic form of it called Pitocin, which was the first synthesized human hormone ever: Oxytocin. So Pitocin is the synthetic form. So not only are we just not using it, we’re actually appropriating it. Medicine is appropriating it, synthesizing it, putting its own name on it, then disallowing us to utilize our own endocrine system—what our own pituitary gland could produce—and then pumping women full of this synthetic hormone instead.

Mary Lou: Close to 100% of women giving birth in a hospital will see that synthetic hormone either during delivery—most of them during delivery—and definitely after delivery if they haven’t received it before.

Mark: That seems to be the wave of the future with everything. Everything is synthetic and then our own bodies stop producing certain things and we become like robots. Back in the day before there were hospitals, and even before there were midwives, women would have the babies on their own. It was just a very natural thing. You pushed—you know they were all working on the field then—until there she is or there he is. We’ve lost our way; we’ve become so dumbed down and so mechanized. It’s like we’re robots. It’s really sad that people can’t think for themselves. They don’t realize that they could tap into their own healing ability. And tap into mother earth. She provides everything we need.

Mary Lou: Absolutely. What I’ve witnessed in hospital birth is that no other mammalian species would put up with being treated that way during birth. A cat would rip your face off if you were treating her that way when she was giving birth.

Mark: Exactly.

Mary Lou: They are very much destroying our instincts, destroying our innate power.

Mark: So what got you interested in midwifery? What was the ah-hah! moment to enter that profession?

Michelle: We all have different very unique stories. I didn’t even know anything about midwifery when I was first pregnant. I was homeless, and was doing my prenatal care at San Francisco General Hospital. I was very intimidated by the authoritarian nature of the hospital. I felt very child-like when I went in there. This was before I had recovered my childhood incest memories, but for some reason I was very repelled by the idea of trying to get this baby out of my body in the midst of these authoritarian figures that really seemed to trigger me. I didn’t understand it all at the time, but I was blessed somehow.

The creator guided me—at 7 months pregnant—to friends who told me “you know you can have your baby at home with the midwife, you don’t have to have your baby that way.” I didn’t know that! I hit the road. We went up to Oregon where midwives are much more accessible than in the Bay area where I was at the time. I shacked up at a friend’s house at a mobile home park, space number 34. That’s where I pushed my baby out. That changed the course of not only my parenting, my relationship with my child, and my own body sovereignty, but also my trust in myself to make health care choices for my children, to trust nature, and the power of nature. So I was able to then use natural remedies for my children. I might not have been able to develop that relationship and that trust otherwise. It was through my own body first. Being a 19 year incest survivor, really it was the first time that my body did me right. I was so grateful. It was the first time that I said “oh,wow, this shit works”. It felt powerful. So that’s why I became a midwife, because I really realized at that moment how important that was: the power that I experienced.

Mark: And what about you Mary Lou?

Mary Lou: Me? I sort of came out of the womb this way. Just really angry about the patriarchy, and justice. Ever since I was little I wanted to help women have babies. I remember being very small, in kindergarten or first grade. I was told that means you want to be an obstetrician. So I was pretty good at school, I went through grade school and high-school thinking I was going to be a doctor. Went to college, and in my sophomore year took a class called Sex and Culture and learned about midwifery in a contemporary context. I didn’t even know it existed before that. It was the classic light bulb, this is what I’ve always wanted to do, I just didn’t know there was name for it.

So I immediately dropped organic chemistry—which I hated—and I started working towards being a midwife. I studied with a birth center. Before I had children I was in college. I studied with a group of nurse midwifes and saw my first births which was amazing. The next summer I lived on a farm with one of the founders of a well-known midwife organization. Then I moved to New Mexico to be a midwife.

Like Michelle, I had my first baby at home. I’m also, like so many women, a sexual abuse survivor. I had been at war with my body since childhood. Very much hated my body, always wore big clothes, bound my breasts, didn’t want any male sexual attention, or wanted too much, acting out hyper-sexually. Like Michelle, when I gave birth, it healed me. I realized my body rocks. I just made a human being and pushed it out. Now I’m feeding it with my breast. I’m a freaking super hero. It made me feel powerful and intact; and not in a way of having power over someone else, but being in my power. My sovereign self. And I also wanted to share that with women. I would love to live in a culture where the majority of mothers feel that way.

Michelle: Or people. Everybody.

Mary Lou: People. Yes.

Mark: We want to go ahead and share a little clip of a video that we found on midwifery. Let me go ahead and share this video here.

(Video clip of Midwives Season 1 Episode 1 S01ED1 Delivering Under Pressure)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t4pa-n1bOqk

Midwife: Little pushes, little pushes.

(baby being born)

Narrator: When we’re at our most vulnerable, we all need someone who isn’t afraid. Midwives are responsible for bring our children safely into the world.

Midwife: It’s a very, very intimate relationship with something you’ve never met before in your life.

Narrator: But now they’re facing the highest birth rates in 40 years. Parents are more demanding, and pregnancies more complicated.

Midwife: When you see a baby come out like he did you just think “oh no.”

Narrator: This is what it’s really like to be a midwife in Britain today.

Mark: In Britain it seems like they’re having a lot of babies so they’re in need of midwifery.

Mary Lou: In Britain midwives attend the majority of women. Most of those are in the hospital setting. They have a very different system of maternity care. They don’t have a capitalist health care system there. They make decisions based on what produces better health outcomes for the population, not what makes the most money for profit health care companies.

Michelle: Yes. Countries like that, like in Ontario also is another example where there’s really strong collaborative care between hospitals and homes so that you might even have a continuity of care where the same provider attends you either way if you have to transport or you can choose which location.

Here, everything is very segregated. So the hospital is its own system. Birth centers are even, a lot of times, their own systems, or completely co-opted by hospitals and run by hospitals in which they’re not free standing autonomous birth centers. They’re bound by hospital policies. And then there are home birth midwives who operate almost completely separately. So what happens in England, Ontario, and other places, is a much more integrated system.

Mary Lou: Right. We know how our medical system works. There’s money in pathology—and the manufacturing of pathology—and birth is in some sense just a microcosm of that. But it’s also the right of passage into a technocratic society that wants to sell you a lot of health care, and other products.

Mark: Yes, and push all the drugs, and create all these diseases and labels so that they continue to push you through the system. I know it all too well. I’m an occupational therapist, worked in the system for over 18 years, and couldn’t stand it anymore.

Michelle: Yes, based on pathology.

Mark: I’m a spiritual person. I believe that the body is capable of healing itself through nutrition, through proper meditation, though visualization, and they offer none of that. Everything is based on a Band-Aid approach and pills that give you more problems.

You were speaking earlier about you bound—Michelle, or Mary Lou actually was the one who said that you bound—and that you hated your body. I wanted to bring this up because that seems to be a lot of the scenario with female to male transgender or transsexuals. They think that it’s such a horrific thing to go through the stage of hating your body. I think it’s a very normal thing for people to go through dysphoria at one point or another.

The abnormality is when you have to do the terrible thing that I did. I ripped my breasts out, and I ripped out all of my female reproductive organs in quest of what to me now seems very delusional. I’m forgiving myself for what I did, but it’s something that is bizarre. Totally bizarre. And that’s why the passion right now to move forward with this quest. Can you give me a little more in-depth, or share your experience and what you think the scenario is with these female to male transgenders.

Mary Lou: One of the reasons I feel passionately opposed to the marketing of gender dysphoria is from my own experience and how I think, if I’d been born 20 years later, I would have been convinced by this relentless marketing on the left—and on the right now too—that hating your body is actually an identity. I didn’t like my body, I had an eating disorder at one point, I tried to starve away my secondary sex characteristics. I was happy when my period went away, I was happy when my breasts went away. A lot of that was because of childhood sexual abuse and unwanted sexual attention.

I think even people who aren’t physically sexually abused— all girls in this culture—have all of this abusive attention coming at them. We live in a rape culture and every female is a victim of that. Every female is a survivor of that.

A lot of times I just didn’t want it. I shaved my head. I would wear the tightest sports bra I could find, I would wear the biggest, baggiest, clothes I could find. At one point, I remember walking around in college and thinking “everything I own I bought in the men’s or boy’s department. I am a female transvestite”.

At the time there wasn’t this huge trans phenomenon. This has happened really quickly in our culture. I’m not an old woman by any means. I think body dysphoria is the norm for females, and also for males now. I think that capitalism thrives on making us hate ourselves and think that we have to buy something outside of ourselves to feel good. To feel great.

Mark: Definitely. When you talk about being sexually molested, I was sexually molested at 8 years old by a so-called friend of the family. It was almost like a grandparent for me. I think a lot of FTMs and probably a lot of MTFs experience this as well, it’s a big psychological issue. And that’s what we’re trying to bring out that GD is just like a cough is to a cold. Gender Dysphoria is not the main psychological problem. There are a lot deeper problems. Narcissism, bi-polar disorder, anxiety, schizophrenia, the list is mile long. The therapists are missing the point. They’re handing these papers out like they’re handing out candy, for people to take hormones, to alter their bodies. Something needs to be done, this should be made against the law. These doctors should be held accountable. These therapists should be held accountable.

Mary Lou: We have no idea of the health outcomes that we’re going to be seeing from this even in the next couple of decades. I am a nurse practitioner. I know, talking to other practitioners, people are seeing lots of elevated lipids in people taking these hormones in adulthood. We’re seeing cardiac anomalies, and other health problems from the hormones. Frankly, I don’t even like giving out birth control pills because of the risk. I don’t like giving artificial hormones to people. I understand that’s everybody’s choice, but I feel like it’s dangerous to do that and people need to know the risks. This is a big untested experiment that’s being pushed on our children.

Mark: Definitely.

Lynna: Can you tell us about the latest accusations that you were assigning gender at birth?

Michelle: Mary Lou introduced me to radical feminism only a few months ago. So a lot of this is new to me, but my thinking, my thoughts as a person, as a midwife, is not new. And for years I’ve been involved in reproductive justice, and this is where I was first confronted by some trans midwives, who were saying that my language was incorrect and that I needed to be referring to this process of assigning gender at birth. This is the first time I heard this. I maintained that women are giving birth, and we have biological reality that exists, before even a baby is pushed out of the womb. I was black listed in those circles as a bigoted closed-minded person.

We absolutely have nothing to do with assigning gender whatsoever. That’s something society does. Gender is a socially constructed thing. It’s not an immutable fact. It’s not something that’s innately part of a human being. So you have a child that’s born, we look at that baby, and you know, in our practice, and our training, we don’t even actually name the sex of that baby. Even though we look, we can see what’s going on there, we don’t tell the mother the sex of her baby. We let her do that herself. At best, if she asks us, we’ll lift a leg. Maybe if she asks us to tell her what the sex is, and she just can’t see the baby at that moment, we might whisper it to her. Very rarely will any of us home-birth midwives really be the person to disclose that information to the family. And the other thing is that we’re looking there at the baby, when the baby emerges, and we’re noticing based on the fact that we are a class of beings that have male and female, that is how we are biologically determined.

Mary Lou: This is science.

Michelle: It’s a fact.

Mary Lou: It’s not social science.

Michelle: So females have ovum, and males have sperm. And we know that there are many variances, just like there are variances in chromosomes with Down syndrome babies. There are many variances in the human body. So, many intersex people are born yes, but this is something completely different. This is not the same as trans. So, when the trans people are always wanting to confront the fact that somehow we have determined, as the birth attendants that receive this baby, what gender roles this person is supposed to adhere to. That’s not possible. It is not our determination whatsoever what gender role a person is going to subscribe to. And it doesn’t matter to me what gender role somebody chooses. If they want one, if they don’t want one. Some people identify heavily with gender roles. That’s fine. And it doesn’t matter to me if it matches your biology or not. Those things are all social. We can do what we want with that as a society. That’s a beautiful thing.

But what we’re talking about is the biological reality of a human being in a dimorphic species of male and female. And all we’re doing is observing: what is presenting on this body? And when that mother is ready to receive that information, most of the time, she process that information herself.

Mary Lou: I’ve been at so many births where the 45 minutes goes by before the family even thinks to look because they’re just so excited that the person is here, the baby is here. And the sex of the baby doesn’t even matter until they sort of come back out of the, like you said, that spiritual awe of the experience. But to say that we’re assigning sex or gender is no different than saying that we’re assigning human to the baby. Or that we’re assigning the baby’s species. These are biological facts and observations. When we do a newborn exam we always test to see if the baby’s palette is intact. We’re not assigning the baby with an intact palette. We’re observing.

Michelle: Either the baby has one, or the baby doesn’t have one. We’re doing an assessment. We do a new born exam and we’re looking at what is the characteristic of the baby. Have the testicles descended. These are all biological realities.

Mary Lou: Are there ten fingers, are there ten toes. We’re not assigning—I’ve assigned you two hands—you know? And even beyond that, midwives have been arguing for a long time against pre-natal sex determination, and that we don’t believe ultra sound should be used gratuitously. We feel like that technology is unnecessary. Midwives have been advocating not finding out the sex particularly because we don’t want families assigning gender.

Michelle: That knowledge. The knowledge of knowing what the biological sex is of the baby you’re carrying can only be used for you to assign gender to that child. The only reason parent’s want to know so bad, is because they want to know how to decorate the room. They want to know what color clothes to buy. They want to know what name to give the child. They want to assign gender to that baby. That’s the only reason to do an ultra sound, because nothing else changes in what the mother’s going to eat, how the mother’s going to take care of herself, how the mother’s going to push the baby out. And when that baby is born, that baby could care less when they look up at that person who gave birth to them, the gender identity of that person. That person is their mother. That person bore them in their body, and created them of their flesh, and pushed them out into this world and they’re still one being. Gender identity is not a factor in that. That is a purely biological process.

In fact, in birth, if you were to remain in an intellectual space of identity as opposed to your biological reality, you would actually hinder your birth quite a bit. Because you would stay in a thoughtful place of the forebrain as opposed to the place you want to get to in birth where it is not intellectual. Totally primal. The oldest part of your brain that you will use.

Mary Lou: We give birth with our biology, not our identity.

Michelle: Not our gender.

Mark: Can you talk a little more about the realities of biological sex, in your opinion?

Mary Lou: I don’t think it’s opinion. I think these are scientific facts that we are a sexually dimorphic species. Like all species that reproduce sexually with a male and female, we have two sexes. One that produces sperm, and one that produces eggs, because we’re mammals, the females of our species gestate our children inside of our bodies and then feed them with our breasts when they come out. I don’t think that’s a matter of opinion, I think any biology text book would state that as fact, and to anyone who can actually step out of the postmodern insane rhetoric and just look at the world.

Michelle: It’s a beautiful thing actually. When you’re carrying a female fetus, you are carrying all of her ovum. So in that moment you have three generations within your one body. That’s the reality, the biological reality, what a woman carries. And that is a huge biological difference between a man and a woman. Because a man cannot do that. There is something about that experience, or even the potential for that experience. It’s very powerful, that reality. That’s what makes the concept of assigning gender false. When these biological miracles are happening in utero, there’s no barrier between that mother and that baby, or the family and that baby, no difference between when it’s inside the uterus and when it’s outside the uterus. So, it’s the same being, it’s the same biological being.

Mark: And what’s happening with the transgender community, especially with the MTFs is that they are totally just negating all these biological things. And they’re totally just, to me, becoming insane.

Lynna: Claiming womanhood when they have no right do to so.

Michelle: The problem in midwifery that I’ve found actually, is not the trans women, but the trans men who still have their uteruses, and are accessing reproductive health services or midwifery services, but claiming to do so as men. This is where I had, in reproductive justice, put out a beautiful sticker that said “midwifery is a woman’s tradition” and I was confronted about that because it was exclusionary. And I consider midwifery to be a woman’s tradition. Midwife literally in Old English means “with woman”. It’s women helping and serving women. It’s often times the aunt, or the sister, or whoever is around that has been to the most births. Often times it’s very much a woman’s tradition.

But we have been confronted at one time. And now our professional midwifery organizations are actually changing the language of their core competency documents to refer to the pregnant individual, or the pregnant person, as if female biology wasn’t at the core of what was happening in this process.

I personally have in my life many trans friends, exes, and just dear ones that I love. My son has a best friend who’s transitioned. We all have love towards their struggling with this on one level or another, because it has become so common, so prevalent. And yet to sit there and be confronted by some of these peers to say that I am supposed to remove the word mother, or woman, from my rhetoric around pregnancy and child birth, while people who are born in female bodies, who are female bodied people, if you identify as a man, you live as a man, you present as a man, wonderful, but you’re not giving birth with your gender identity. You’re giving birth with your body, your biology. That trans man, is using something that he acquired when he was a female, when he lived as a female, when he was born as a female, however that rhetoric is supposed to be said. He still has it, and he is using it, but he is not naming the source of that act and power. It’s possible for him to give birth because that female body, that’s what’s giving birth. That biological miracle. Right now we’re dealing with midwifery organizations actually changing their language in their documents as if to say that it is possible to change your sex, when it is not possible to change your sex.

Mark: You’re right, it isn’t. It’s really sad that this community has gone to the point of madness. They want to re-write all the rules. They want to tell people what they can and cannot say. And actually that’s what started really pissing me off. I had Cathy Brennan as one of my guests last year, and they all attacked me. Cathy Brennan has a right to voice her opinion. No one is going to stop me from having who I want on my show. To me, there is so many deep mental issues with some of these individuals.

Mary Lou: We were discussing that earlier, have we covered that?

Michelle: It seems like we have talked about that a lot, but… with that question you really are, you talk about the power in the female and the power of nature. You talk about that too in one of these questions. We mentioned it a little bit in the beginning. That is the greatest asset in childbirth. One of the things that I take issue with is that as midwives we’re trained to manage and attend women who are having a normal healthy human pregnancy and birth. We’re trained to see when things fall out of the range of normal, and then how to use natural assets to bring things back into balance. Maybe some herbs, or some lifestyle adjustments, stress management, counselling, nutrition, many many many tools that we use. Because we want the woman to try to stay in this range of healthy and normal. And what is striking me right now, is that instead of talking about how as midwives are we supposed to be providing healthy normal human development—midwifery care—to a person who has now been taking hormones for many years or…

Mary Lou: Cut their breasts off….

Michelle: There’s such a huge range of ways that a person could present to us at this point, but we’re not educated in those things, and I don’t perceive those things to be normal, healthy, development. So it’s really outside of the scope of our practice. I just bring that up because the differences in sexes and the differences in the biology is really… I don’t know what I’m trying to say. I lost my train of thought.

Mary Lou: Can I?

Michelle: Yes please, because I know that you know what I’m trying to say.

Mary Lou: I want to say that patriarchal oppression, absolutely exists, and by patriarchy I am using what Bell Hooks phrased as the white supremacist, capitalist, patriarchy exists to control female reproduction. If power is passed through men, women’s sexuality and reproduction has to be controlled. And the basis of our oppression is from our biology. Our power is in our biology absolutely, and the patriarchy does everything it can to control and own that power and try to keep women from having sovereignty over that power. One of the most frightening aspects of this erasure of the reality of biological sex, and the complication of gender identity as the legal definition of male and female is that it legally codifies sexual stereotypes as what it means to be male and female, and poof sexism magically disappears. So we have things like the recent supreme court decision, where because a female-to-male trans person gave birth and breast fed, a woman who was discriminated against at work for breast feeding, and she had a sex-based discrimination case, and the supreme court said that’s not sex discrimination because men can breast feed now. So we are losing our protections that are based on our biology.

Michelle: And yet it’s our very biology that is the reason why it has been the tool of control. And even to this day, I mean we’re arguing about abortion, and we’re arguing about reproductive rights, and trans men are demanding their inclusion into abortion. But we’re not talking about prostate cancer issues. All these other issues that go along… we’re only looking at reproduction.

Mary Lou: The way this movement is playing out, it seems to be all the attacking is being done in the places where women actually have some power. I find that really interesting, that they’re going after the midwives, when no one is picketing women’s hospitals. No one’s going after the American College of Gynecology for their transphobic language. They’re going after the lesbians, they’re going after our bathrooms.

Michelle: They’re going after the home-birth midwives. I also notice too, in our midwifery circles, it’s not the trans women that are coming to become midwives. It’s the trans men that are becoming midwives. You know, because they’re women. But I don’t see trans women joining us and becoming midwives.

Lynna: It seems that in arguments I’ve had with other trans women, they seem to want to appropriate things that belong solely to biological women. I would never think to take that from any of you. I just wanted you to talk about maybe some of the nuances, some of the uniqueness of being a female, and when you are with child, and you have a fetus inside your womb, what is happening, so that those that are male to female transsexuals, that they can understand that they will never know. They will never understand, because they don’t have that biology.

Mary Lou: Menstruation is power. There’s so much, there’s so much magic and power. The one thing I specifically…Michelle articulated it so beautifully is when you’re carrying a fetus, a baby, stem cells from the baby enter your system, as the mother, they go into the brain and actually change our brains to make us more like our children. We are partly our children, as much as our children are us. If we’re partnered, we’re more like our partner now, because our child is half their genetic material. And that is an amazing magical biological transformation. That only someone has carried a fetus can experience.

Michelle: You said that about the fetus and being with child, but really it is from time that you start bleeding. I was sitting on the couch and my husband and I were both on the couch, and I just was moaning and groaning because I had cramps coming all the way down to both of my ankles on both legs. I’m a little premenopausal right now, it’s getting that way, and I looked over at him and there I was moaning. I just looked at him and said you have no idea what I’m experiencing. He said no I don’t, I have no clue. I have been bleeding for 34 years. Not even just for like a week or a month, but every single month for 34 years. It’s really something, menstruation, and this filling. Your uterus is filling up with life. This is not a joke, it’s not even a metaphor when people say women are the first environment. Because literally that lining in your uterus is the very soil in which your seed will implant and germinate. It’s literally the soil, and the sun, and the water, and everything for that seed. We have that all the time, every month, that we reproduce and we mature ovum. We prepare for that. Our body is ready.

So many times, if you are in a heterosexual relationship, if you are allowing yourself to potentially become pregnant, or even unintentionally, many times we even have implantation and don’t even know it. A lot of times we have implantation and miscarry, many times. It presents as a heavy menstruation. A lot of us are aware of it, many of us aren’t even aware of it. Conception happens quite more often than we realize.

I don’t want to limit it just to being with child because that’s one of the things that gets used against us. “Oh, this person doesn’t have a uterus anymore, does that make her not a woman?” or “this person has never had a baby, does that make her not a woman?” Woman is not just limited to utilizing your potential. Just innately having that potential is all. Like I said, my daughter had within her, all her immature ovum, all the ovum that she will mature in her entire life, she had inside of her body, inside of my womb during the time that I carried her.

Mary Lou: We carry the seeds of our grandchildren in our own bodies. It’s so miraculous. I’m a very egalitarian person, like I said I’m a gender abolitionist, let’s just all be human and live our potential. But as home-birth midwives, if we had to pick a superior sex, it wouldn’t be male.

Michelle: We’re midwives. We get to be with women in the most spectacular time so I don’t want to limit how we talk about women just in the sense of menstruating and having babies of course. Because I think part of how we got where we are with this disembodiment, we’re dissociating from our bodies, and dissociating from womanhood somehow. There’s so many people unwilling to call themselves women. They identify as trans but they’re not transitioning, they’re not even changing their gender. They’re just a gender variant female. That’s how I see it, they’re women to me. But they identify as trans because they’re identifying with a culture, and a movement, for them very exciting. A sense of belonging.

And at the same time, I’m identifying very strongly with my body. This is my identity. It’s very difficult when we prioritize gender identity over biological identity. So I don’t want to limit it to just reproduction because I don’t want that be ever used against us. A lot of the trauma around reproduction, the trauma around loss, pregnancy loss, infertility—which is rampant because of environmental issues, environmental health situation that we’re in—has caused a lot of women to feel confused about their bodies, about reproduction, and not wanting to be defined by reproduction because of what Mary Lou was talking about—the patriarchy—basically the reproductive control being the most important thing in controlling women. And as a result we have distanced ourselves, and disembodied ourselves so much from our ability to give birth and bring life. We don’t want to be defined by it. But I don’t want us to be not defined by it either. There’s not really a way to disregard those things.

They’re right here, they’re part of our bodies. It’s called biology. Bio. it’s life. It’s all one. So that’s what I wanted to say. As midwives we do love to talk about birth, we love to talk about these babies, the way that we create them and grow them and sustain them from our breast. There could be a whole two years’ time when that baby does nothing except sustain its life off of your very body. And nothing else. That’s so miraculous. And when you do it, it’s so amazing. Maybe it’s painful for women who can’t do that. That would like to do that. I can see how it could be painful for men who can’t do that, because it’s so powerful, so beautiful. I can understand these things. I have compassion for these things. But it is what it is. It’s immutable. It is what it is.

Lynna: Well, humanity has become synthetic, and filling their lives with technology and forgetting the gifts our planet provides. What are your thoughts on this?

Mary Lou: Well we agree with that. I think that it’s really painful times to be an ecologically conscious person. The systems of life are unravelling all over the planet. I think we’re at end stage capitalism and by end stage, I mean terminal. It will either kill us all, or we will stop it from doing so. I think that a lot of people are wanting to disengage from the natural world because it’s very painful to be present with it right now. Our bodies are all poisoned. Human breast milk is the most toxic food on the planet. There’s not a single mother on the planet that doesn’t have dioxin in her breast milk, and that’s just one of the many, many chemicals. It’s not just our species. The whales have very toxic breast milk. All the mammals have toxic breast milk. The air is poisoned, the water is poisoned. Chemicals have permeated everything. Unfortunately, our culture—because it is a capitalist culture—is pushing more of that. Instead of, as a society, we’re not organizing to stop it. It seems like we’re driving over the cliff.

Michelle: I think this is where attachment theory comes in. I really do. I’ve done a lot of studying about environmental health, and attachment theory in that context. One thing that’s beautiful about midwifery is the way that we allow nature to unfold. There’s more oxytocin receptors in your body in the moment after you give birth than any other time in your entire life. It’s the same for the new-born baby. And the reason is because in that moment that bond needs to take place. This is nature, what we’re talking about, a natural process. So those oxytocin receptors are going wild, there’s more than there’s ever been, and what you have is a maternal blueprint that clicks on. I think that when we don’t develop healthy attachment somehow, not only do we have attachment disorder with our parent, our person that was supposed to take care of us, we have attachment disorder with nature. With god. So now we no longer have the same natural attachment to nature that we’re supposed to have. I think part of it is that the attachment disorder is out of the trauma and the grief around what is being done to our planet, like Mary Lou was talking about. The endocrine system is such a crucial part of the connection to this natural world, this nature and how it can be distorted.

Mark: That’s the key right there, the endocrine system. That’s why all these children, and individuals, are coming up with the so-called gender dysphoria. When I wrote my book The Mirror Makes No Sense, I mentioned that this was going to be an epidemic, I saw it coming, because we do live in such a toxic environment. Our endocrine system has been totally messed up, everything is chemical. What we’re trying to do is to alert the community to look, this is not normal. This is something that’s happening due to disruption in our endocrine system. Because this is happening doesn’t give us the right to chop off our breats, or remove our uterus, or to create a neo-vagina, and go around saying “I’m a woman”, or “I’m a man”, and all that stuff. It’s crazy. We are destroying humanity by doing this. We are destroying the normal rhythm of life.

Mary Lou: It’s definitely not something to celebrate. Endocrine disruption is not something to celebrate. It’s something serious. So grieve, and then get full of righteous rage, and stop it. We need to stop the poisoning of our world, and ourselves.

Michelle: There’s a great book called The Molecules of Emotion by Candace Pert. She was an NIH scientist. She’s actually the scientist that discovered the opiate receptor in the 70’s I believe. And she’s since passed away, but she really does a great job of outlining the endocrine system, the Endo-Neuro-Immuno system that’s all connected. She describes the science and how it is the science behind mind-body medicine. Basically it is how she looks at the endocrine system. And these chemicals, these proteins that travel through our blood. And the way that receptors work, it’s such a miracle. I have no idea, I am so uneducated around this hormone replacement, and opposite sex hormones, and things that go into puberty blockers. These things with which we’re not practicing a precautionary principle at all in understanding the impacts before we condone them society wide with young people. It’s a huge concern around the endocrine system, and what might be coming down the line as a result.

Mark: That’s what started us on this whole mission. We became totally alarmed. Oh my god, there’s no way this can be happening, they’re just pushing it like candy. There’s a lot of gender variant children being born, it’s part of what’s happening. Call it evolution, call it chemicals, whatever it is. It doesn’t mean that you have to block these children’s puberty, and make them something that they think they are, when in reality they are who they are. There’s no need for them to go from one gender box into another gender box.

Lynna: It’s controlling the endocrine system. It’s dumbing it down to where function, the way it was intended to function biologically, it would only make common sense. I didn’t go to medical school, but the fact that these puberty blockers are inhibiting the children, the youth, from developing in an adolescent-normal puberty period, that has got to do something terrible to the body.

Mark: You’re looking at growth spurts, their bones, their development, the neurological system in the brain. There are so many systems that have been hindered by doing this. Their answer is, “oh, but it’s reversible”. The body doesn’t understand the opposite puberty. It understands the puberty it’s meant to have, the biological one. When you’re blocking things like that, you’re creating major problems. The body is going “alert, alert, something’s happening here”. These kids are going to have mental problems; they’re going to have a slew of problems. You know what? Everybody’s “hush hush” and the medical system is going “more money making here”. They’re sacrificing our kids, and that’s wrong.

Michelle: And ultimately, if you want to call it the wrong body—which it’s not really possible to be born in the wrong body—we get what we get.

I have a lot of compassion and I’m a lot more soft about this than others. Mary Lou’s a lot better. I really do have a lot of compassion and I do understand that people are suffering. People are tormented inside. People are trying to make sense of this crazy, crazy, world. I absolutely understand it. I’m right here in the world too, trying to make sense of it too. So I just think that there are answers that are going to be far more empowering to us, because ultimately whatever you do to your body it’s still the same body. So if you thought it was the wrong body to begin with, nothing’s changed. I don’t want it to be like that. I sure want people to find answers. I sure want people to find a way to be happy. I just am not convinced that this is a healthy response to the kind of pain we’re all suffering on this earth right now.

Mark: It’s a crazy thing, you know. And again, people call me a hypocrite because I did it. As you mature and grow you look at life totally different. I would have never thought in the day that I was going to wake up one morning and tell myself, wow, what have I done. I think a lot has to do with meeting Lynna and our story and everything that’s happened. It’s made me realize too many things. I have matured so quickly, and having to take care of Lynna in the past four or five months. It brought that maternal instinct in me that I never had, because I never had a child. So to me, she was my child, that maternal instinct. Maritza, which was, is who I am. That came back to life when I had put her to sleep, and all of a sudden it was like “I am woman, hear me roar”. What have I done? What have I done to myself? People are going, “oh your nuts, your transition was not right, you’re not happy”. It’s not that I wasn’t happy, I am happy. But I’m a happy person that realized the mistake I made, and I realized that there’s more to life than a gender marker male or female. We can’t change who we are. It is who we are, it is our essence. I just want my—I don’t even want to call my trans brothers and sisters because they’ve disowned me—but these individuals who’ve taken that step and thinking they’re doing the right thing, to think again, and realize what they’re doing. They’re hurting themselves, they’re hurting their family members, and they’re hurting the planet by doing what they’re doing.

Mary Lou: And there are other people who get it within the trans community. There’s the New Narratives who made a beautiful statement about how biology is immutable, there’s a difference between sex and gender, female space needs to be respected, the rights of females need to be respected.

One thing we haven’t covered that I really want to talk about is the aspect of this that to me, from my observations, is clearly backlash against gay rights. It’s amazing to me how so many people don’t understand that all of these gender non-conforming children, who 30 years ago would have grown up to be happy gay and lesbian people, are now being told they’re born in the wrong body, and are being transitioned into a heteronormative reality. To me it’s so profoundly homophobic. I don’t understand why there’s not more critique of that.

Mark: That’s one of the things we want to really rally our LGB brothers and sisters. They added that ’T’ to the LBGT and they realized that the ’T’ is just voiding all the LGB. Can somebody wake up and realize what’s going on here?

Mary Lou: Pat Robertson is supportive of transgender, but profoundly homophobic and misogynist. In Iran they will kill you for being gay, or put you in jail for life, but they’ll pay for your sex change operation, and change all your gender identity on all your paperwork. Rick Santorum is pro-transgender, but again, one of the worst misogynists. He’s one of the male authority figures who routinely gets on the airwaves to tell the women of America that if he has his way, we will be forced to give birth to rapists babies. The guy hates women, and he’s a patriarch. He’s totally behind the trans thing. This whole thing is being marketed by government of Iran, Pat Robertson, Disney, People Magazine, and Entertainment Tonight. It’s not a liberation movement for anybody.

Mark: It’s actually bringing us back.

Lynna: They’re indoctrinating mothers, and families, husbands. To make them feel like, just because little Jimmy wants to play with dolls, all of a sudden that he’s a girl.

Mark: It’s crazy.

Mary Lou: Whatever happened to “free to be you and me” you know that song? Billy wants a doll, and some day Billy might grow up and be a dad and he needs to know how to be a good one. We grew up in the 70’s. All those revolutionary movements of the 60’s influenced our childhood. It was amazing. The slinky commercials, a toy for a girl or a boy.

Michelle: We were talking actually about the toys and how when we were growing up how the toys, like all the Legos were the same colors. And now when you go to the Lego isle there’s these Legos that are pink and purple, and that are all domestic toy figures of house things, and they’re for the girls. If you look at pictures comparing toys from the 70’s to toys now, how absolutely divided and clear the gender stereotypes are. The more it seems that we’ve pushed ourselves into that extreme gender stereotyping, the more of this “gender dysphoria” that we’re having because it’s absolutely being shoved down our throats that we’re supposed to be one or the other. And then we’re completely supporting this whole binary concept, and these gender stereotypes by saying ok, well the kids who have long hair… and this is all you see in the articles. They like to play with these certain kinds of toys, they like long hair, they like this certain kind of game or whatever that’s stereotypically for girls, therefore they must be a girl. We’re just perpetuating this binary, even more so than we did 30 years ago even.

Mark: It’s the trans agenda. A total trans agenda, which is what we’ve been saying. It’s eugenics. We had a show Tuesday regarding that. Back all the way to 1810, it’s just been program, program, created, almost like a Nazi protocol type of thing. It’s crazy, like you say, what happened to be whoever you want to be, and feel however you want to feel without having to fit into these gender boxes and doing horrific things to our body.

Lynna: It just stems from homosexuality, bisexuality. All that is wrong. So we have to divide you, take the weaker ones and sterilize them.

Mary Lou: There’s no money in people being happy gay people, but there’s a whole lot of money in getting people to hate their bodies, and think they need hundreds of thousands of dollars of body modifications and hormones for life.

Mark: And therapy, and pills, and what is it, $1200 per month for these blockers.

Lynna: $1500 for the implant that lasts a year.

Mark: It’s crazy. They’re going to push it, they’re going to breed these gender confused children so they can make them one thing or the other. It’s scary. People aren’t seeing that. They’re villainizing us and they’re not seeing that we’re saying, “Hello, the sun doesn’t revolved around the earth” or whatever, and they’re saying “Oh Galileo, let’s put you in jail”. They’re not seeing what we have seen for quite a while. It’s sad. So give us your views on counter-revolution.

Mary Lou: Counter revolution. So whenever liberation movements—revolutionary movements— start to really become powerful in a lot of population, the oppressive power structures do everything in their power to crack down on it. In a capitalist system, usually that means coopting the revolution and twisting it in a way that it will help capitalist forces, and selling it as something liberal, not revolutionary.

I think about how I was ten years old when Ronald Reagan was elected. I feel like most of my live has been living in a counter revolution. The busting of the unions was counter revolutionary to the labor movement. The way we’ve undone all the environmental protections is counter revolutionary to what was happening in the 60’s and 70’s. We definitely live in counter revolutionary times.

Mark: Definitely.

Lynna: How did this happen that we’ve gone from “start a revolution, stop hating your body” to hating the body being framed as revolutionary?

Mary Lou: That’s called counter revolution. Isn’t that sad, we really have gone from that. “Start a revolution, stop hating your body”, we grew up with that phrase from the feminist movement. To know what’s being sold to children, that it’s revolutionary to hate your body and to feel that you’re in the wrong body. That is capitalist commodification: selling an oppression identity to people as a product.

Mark: That’s one of the reasons I believe that this whole Pandora’s Box needs to be open and people need to be exposed. Having been in this so-called trans community for the past 12 years, and hearing all the stories, and all the interviews that I’ve done, it’s like the violin of life. Let’s pull up the script, it’s the same repeated line: “I knew when I was 3 years old, I was in the wrong body, and I’m going to kill myself”. You say that, you’re going to get: “ there’s your hormones, and there’s your surgery”. And people don’t want to understand. They’re so caught up in their lie that they are believing it. It’s brainwashing. I was brainwashed too, like from 0-60 it’s like a zombie, “brain, brain”, you see nothing else but this transition, you know nothing else but this transition. And then everything is fine for whatever, 10,12 years, and all of a sudden you wake up and you go, “what’s happened? What did I just do? Where did my breasts go?” Your life has been taken from you.

Lynna: The narrative is that this is normal. That they’re selling, like Bruce Jenner is normal. People that are being interviewed these days are normal. It’s not. There’s nothing normal about it. We’re the ones that do something different. We’re the ones that went against the tide. We’re the ones that made a different choice.

Mary Lou: You’re not having a million dollar interview with Diane Sawyer. People need to look at the money behind this and who’s selling it. It’s being marketed heavily.

Mark: Big time. It’s really sad because a lot of lives are going to be ruined. Not just your own life. Your own life, you’ve taken years from your life, from taking toxic hormones, from doing what you did, you just destroyed yourself completely. People around you are being disrupted. The environment is being disrupted. Have people even thought about all these hormones that we’re taking, when we’re going to the bathroom, that those hormones are filtering into the environment. We’re destroying everything.

Lynna: The fact is that children as they develop up and grow into puberty, you can’t really distinguish sex. If you get the boys hair, if you get the girls hair, it’s pretty much, it’s all the same. Why do they have to make it so gender specific when realizing that that kind of gender specificity really damages children developing as people that they are? A gay future child can get suppressed and then thinks the only way out is to be transgender. It’s crazy.

Mary Lou: Growing up Irish Catholic what I saw was that the gender nonconforming boys were encouraged from a very young age to go into the priesthood. Were told over and over again, oh you’d be such a good priest, we can just tell. Now I think those same boys are being encouraged and groomed to be women, to think that they’re actually woman, and to take on that role. It’s very disturbing to me that the cage of gender is locking down. I don’t believe this is really about gender stereotypes, that this is actually going to free us from gender stereotypes.

Michelle: It’s reinforcing gender stereotypes.

Mary Lou: I don’t see any men who identify as men, wearing makeup and dresses. It’s not freeing people from gender stereotypes. Women fought really hard to wear pants. They went to jail for wearing pants. They lost their freedom for wearing pants. They got beaten up for wearing pants, probably a lot of them got raped for wearing pants. They fought hard for the right to not be constrained by gender stereotypes in their dress.

Men are doing now, if you want to wear dresses and you really like all that stuff that means you’re really a woman. It’s locking down gender more, not freeing anybody.

Mark: I believe that it’s being done to eliminate what they call the weaker individuals. Let’s sterilize, let’s mark their puberty, you’re doing that and you’re taking hormones, you’re going to be sterilizing yourself. It’s almost a master plan. People say, “Oh, you’re a conspiracy nut”. No, there’s something behind all this. People aren’t opening their eyes to the reality of things. It’s really sad.

Michelle: Well Big Pharma is behind this. The medical institution has a lot to gain, apecifically pharmaceuticals, and plastic surgery surgeons. I can’t even begin to grasp all of the complexities of it really, but there are profiteers in this.

Mary Lou: I was just watching a film by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., an environmental lawyer, the son of Robert Kennedy. He said that Big Pharma gives more contributions in the form of lobbying our government, than oil and gas and the military industrial complex combined. This is who is running our government. Big Pharma is very powerful. It’s not a benevolent force.

Mark: Big Pharma, Monsanto…

Lynna; The highest paid “female” is a CEO, is a trans woman, and runs a pharmaceutical.

Mary Lou: The women’s average salary is going up now that more men are “women”.

Mark: It’s almost like men couldn’t have enough of just being in power, they had to also take the power away from women some more in becoming women. What a better way than to do what they’re doing. It’s crazy. I don’t understand why the community is not accepting what we’re saying. We’ve gotten death threats. It’s like, ok, really?

Lynna: Sponsors get pulled, death threats. People are just vehement about expressing their opinion on Facebook, on social media. They will tell you everything to justify their position when their position doesn’t have grounds to stand on.

Mary Lou: That’s why, that their position doesn’t have grounds to stand on, that’s why they’re so adamant about locking down discourse, forbidding discourse on it. Women—radical feminists—all over the world are losing their tenured positions in Universities for speaking out about this, they’re losing book deals, they’re losing speaking gigs. Men who speak out against it are being de-platformed. We’re seeing really horrific authoritarian, anti-intellectualism; the kind of stuff that you see in totalitarian states around this. We’re not allowed to critique it. We’re not allowed to discuss it. That anti-intellectualism, and that aspect of forbidden discourse should make everyone nervous. People should be cautious about any ideology that forbids discussion.

Mark: That’s why we have to do what we have to do. Educate, do seminars, go out there and, probably have to get some bullet proof vest and some sort of body guards, because—you said there’s a big force trying to stop the actual—the pendulum is going this way, we need to bring it back to the beginning.

Lynna: We need to be able to tell kids they can express how they want to. They don’t have to be tied to their gender stereotype. A feminine boy can express to be a feminine boy. A masculine girl can be a masculine girl. There are different.

Mark: Or be two-spirited. I posted pictures of myself when I was younger, there were times when I looked like a boy. I cut my hair. There were times when I felt the female energy flow, and I would let my hair grow, and I would wear dresses. People would always ask me are you butch or are you femme, and I would say it depends on the stars and the moon.

When this whole programming kicked in, I just all of a sudden… “Oh ya! I’ve got to be a man”. It’s brainwashing. I can’t even put the right words to explain what happened. I was talking to my sister today. She said there was not any talking to you. I was on this, I’m doing this, I’m doing this. That’s the mentality of the majority, I would say 99% of trans individuals 0-60.

Michelle: I perceive it that people are so determined towards it because it’s couched as the answer to their problems. That’s how I perceive it. Everybody’s problems are being summed up in this gender dysphoria and it’s going to be solved by doing these things. Like you said, that’s actually not the diagnosis itself. There’s so much going on in the bigger picture of that human being that is actually interrelated and connected to everybody else’s trauma, pain and grief—which is absolutely interrelated and connected to the entire total of the planet, the earth—that we are all just part of this organism together.

This concept of individualism, and I get to do what I want because it’s what I want, I have the right to live my life the way I want, that is such an American value. It is such a western value that is so damaging in reality. It’s so damaging, because we’re not just individuals. We’re interrelated creatures coexisting. Breathing in and out the same air, living off of one water that we all share on this planet, and so on, and so on. Those are things that are important. To compartmentalize yourself, and imagine that your problems are individual and separate from the rest of the world, and now you’ve been told this thing is going to solve your problems.

Mark: It’s the psychosis, and narcissistic behavior that the planet is facing right now. Unfortunately a lot of the trans individuals have major narcissistic behavior. It’s screaming “me, me, me, I, I, I!” They don’t care about anything else. Like we mentioned in our intro is returning to oneness. Before we return to oneness there’s all this chaos that’s taking place. Anything else you ladies would add?

Michelle: Thank you.

Mary Lou: Thank you.

Michelle: Really. We both have been very moved by both of your courage and honesty and…

Mary Lou: Sanity.

Michelle: Telling your stories, owning your stories. I can’t even imagine how challenging it is on so many levels. We do know the back-lash and what that feels like.

Mark: It’s been an amazing interview. We hopefully will be able to meet up with them soon, because I know they’re here in New Mexico.

Lynna: You can get that coffee that you want. Because you said you want to sit down with coffee.

Mark: Green tea or something. Anyway guys thank you so much for tuning in and joining us for another show. Tuesday we have another show, we don’t know exactly what we’re going to be covering but bet your bottom dollar it’s going to be interesting. Something controversial and something that the trans community doesn’t want to hear about. But we’re here and determined to help the evolution of our species and to stop this madness of being born in the wrong body and doing all these things that align ourselves. The alignment is already in you. You are perfect the way you are. There is no need to do anything else but breathe, love, and be.

Lynna: If you can’t live your truth, than it’s just not worth living

Mark: Not at all folks. Have a great evening, and good night.

Sealed Fate of the Crowfoot Valley Prairie Dog Colony

By Deanna Meyer / Deep Green Resistance

When we visited the Crowfoot site to confirm the mass annihilation of the last large colony of prairie dogs in the Castle Rock area, we found that all the burrows were packed hard as concrete. I tried to shovel out the burrows but could not because they were packed so tight. Fumitoxin was most likely the poison used to kill this amazing colony. I think it is very difficult, but extremely important, for all of us to understand what fumitoxin does to these prairie dogs. I kept imagining the thousands upon thousands of prairie dogs trapped in their burrows suffering excruciatingly from the horror that John Waggoner and his hired hands brought to these sentient beings.

Derrick Jensen researched the effects of fumitoxin and wrote the following description of what happens to these prairie dog families. The only thing that is not spot on about this description is the length of time it takes for a prairie dog to die. Fumitoxin causes a slow death, between 2-7 days as the animals inner organs slowly melt and bleed out inside of them:

One of the burrows at the Crowfoot Valley site where Lowe Enterprises hired exterminators to bury the prairie dogs alive by shoving poison in their holes and packing them tight as concrete to seal in their fate.
One of the burrows at the Crowfoot Valley site where Lowe Enterprises hired exterminators to bury the prairie dogs alive by shoving poison in their holes and packing them tight as concrete to seal in their fate.

This is what happens.

You don’t panic when the first entrance is sealed. There’s no reason to: that’s why there are multiple exits. You move to the next exit. It also is sealed. You’re still not concerned. Of all places, this is where you’re supposed to be safe. Nonetheless it is troubling that two entrances are sealed. You check out a third, and a fourth. All sealed.

You’re not the only one to notice. Many of the younger members of your community are confused, discomfited. You and some of the others of older generations reassure them, the same way members of older generations among your kind have always reassured those younger when they’re scared. You say again and again, “It’s going to be okay.”

Others do start to calm. Then one of your daughters—she’s nothing more than a pup, really—begins to complain of nausea. Her grandmother—your mother—rushes to her side, begins to stroke her head and back, talking to her constantly. Then one of your nephews doubles over, begins moaning from abdominal cramping. Someone, too, rushes to his side. The nephew lets go with explosive diarrhea. This does not deter the elder from comforting him.

You find the father of your children. You sense something wrong. You cannot tell what it is. He opens his mouth as if to speak, and blood gushes out. Without a thought you begin touching and stroking his hair, whispering to him. Blood starts coming from his nose, from his other orifices. He cramps, then begins to convulse. He tries to speak. You say to him softly, “Don’t talk. You’re going to be okay. You’re going to be okay.”

Another burrow packed in by prairie dog exterminators.
Another burrow packed in by prairie dog exterminators.

You’re having a hard time holding down your own panic. Around you, your friends and family are losing control of their bodies. They are vomiting, defecating, bleeding all over themselves. Some are moaning or keening. A few are screaming. You want to attend to them, but you need to help your love.

And then his body stiffens, seizes, seizes, then seizes. Something shifts inside of him, and something leaves, and he is finished.

You turn away, turn toward the chaos that until very recently was your community. You begin to bark out commands, telling this one to take care of the young, that one to start trying to find a way out. You don’t know what is killing you all. You just know there must be a relationship between the forced sealing of the entrances and the deaths that have now followed. But no one seems to be listening to you. They are vomiting, convulsing, seizing. Those who can still control their limbs are clawing at the walls. You move from individual to individual, trying to calm those you can, comfort those you can’t. You keep saying to anyone who will listen, “We will get out of here.”

And then you feel it. Your mouth begins to water, and the first wave of nausea rolls through you. You force it down, but it returns. Your chest tightens, and in that moment you know—as you’ve known all along, but would not allow yourself to say, even to yourself—how this will end. You begin to vomit blood, and you desperately wish that there was someone here to touch and kiss and stroke you, someone to whisper to you over and over, “It’s going to be okay.”

But no one appears.

Prairie dog pup who made it to the surface by digging out of his burrow before being killed by Fumitoxin poison.
Prairie dog pup who made it to the surface by digging out of his burrow before being killed by Fumitoxin poison.

Contact John Waggoner, the individual in charge of directing this mass killing, if you haven’t done so already.

John Waggoner
Lowe Enterprises
303-850-2401
email: johnwaggoner@loweenterprises.com

Also contact the founder and executive director of Lowe Enterprises to let them know that we will not accept this slaughter and do not want this development in our community and world.

Robert Lowe:  robertlowe@loweenterprises.com

From WildLands Defense Colorado

Ernesto Aguilar: What Fathers Should Tell Their Sons

By Ernesto Aguilar for Feminist Current

When they find out, people ask me incredulously if I regret not attending my father’s funeral.

I had no relationship with my father for all of my adult life. I lived a childhood where he hit my mother often. I could never reconcile it and fought him as a boy. As an adult, I never forgave him. He died a stranger, someone in my past I never talked about.

Violence was not my father’s only indiscretion. He grew up hard, and did his best to raise me with the totems of manhood as he saw them, for better or worse. All men, and especially men of color, learn quickly and from an early age that our existence depends on our performance of masculinity. My father tried to teach me to survive in a world that looked at we dark-skinned men with the kind of hostility my generation would never know.

Unless I told you, you’d probably never know my myriad traumas, or how many people I failed on the way to healing them. You’d never know I don’t know when Father’s Day is. Or how I never had children because I reasoned it best to break a cycle not worth repeating, to spare someone else from being damaged the way I was.

As a boy who craved his father’s approval, as young boys often do, I can’t help but wonder how different I would have ended up if my father taught me what I needed to understand about love, about principle, and about respect. Would I have hurt the people I hurt? Would I be as I am, still restless and unsettled? I will never know.

I write about this now because I want you who are fathers to not have a son like me. I don’t want you to have the moments my father had in his later years, desperately wanting a relationship with a son who stopped believing in him years before. This time you have now to share and talk with your son is far more important than you think. Use every minute wisely. Don’t take the casual things you say and do for granted. Make sure you don’t end up where we did.

I have lost count of the conversations I wish my father and I would have had, or the things I wish he helped me to see, instead of the lessons I spent years undoing.

It was not until some time away from my father that I learned to love my emotions. If I’d had a son, I would tell him to live your happiest feelings boisterously. It can feel very isolating to be that man who acts, speaks and expresses differently than other men. People question your intelligence and sexuality for it, moreso for men of color. But there is no reason to not be ostentatious, bold and open in what you feel. Holding it in proves nothing. Stuffing it down doesn’t make you better. It often makes you worse. More importantly, you have but one life. No one’s last days are spent thankful for all the times they avoided tears, played cool so someone didn’t know where they stood, or just didn’t share feelings.

I wish my father had told me it’s always easy to see the down side of things, but to take a moment to appreciate the people around us. My view today of my father is more nuanced — he had his own demons, and many resentments he never resolved. I wish it was not still a daily battle against sinking into his familiar morose and bitter place. Or to let the anger that comes with male entitlement rule my day. It’s hard sometimes to find joy in simple things. I learned gratitude matters far more than almost anything. Perspective means a great deal. It can always be worse. The best day is what you make of it.

I’d tell my son that respect for women is our responsibility to do and speak up about. Not just because we have mothers or sisters or partners, but because dignity is not about what people do for and mean to us. I’d remind him that you don’t talk like you know what others go through, because men almost reflexively always do that. And you especially do not to talk like you know what a woman goes through. Men are taught that is okay and do it often. Really though, men will never know.

I wish my father had told me freedom of choice can’t be divorced from how the world works, and from the power that men have. Everyone can get fixated on making their own choices. We’re told people make decisions and that’s okay, but we never hear about context, or how decisions come to pass. Our choices as men have consequences, often for those with far less power than us. The same gender binary that depends on choice and demands we act in particular ways also calls on us to acquiesce to things we may not agree with. As men have the greatest privilege, my father could have told me asking questions and standing up for my beliefs are virtues.

Most of all, I wish he had spoken through his actions. I don’t know one man who has a positive relationship with his father in instances where he was physically, emotionally or verbally abusive to the male’s mother. Not one. Like anyone, I’ve been upset with partners who hurt my feelings, said unkind things or seemed not to care. Maybe because of the way I was brought up, I never thought for even a second to put my hands on anyone. Physical violence against my mother defined my life. It scarred me for years. It changed the way I think of my father. I can’t say strongly enough how critical respect for partners, even when times are bad, is for a child.

My story is going to surprise even close friends, because it’s something I just don’t talk about. I’m doing it now because I recognize it must be hard for a father, with the expectations of maleness and more on him, to talk to sons about women and respect, about emotions and about vulnerability. Yet they’re the issues that come to matter most as we grow up. Teaching your son to fix a car, clean a handgun or fight a bully might feel urgent. Showing a boy to be tough in the face of adversity could seem right. From experience, I can tell you that if your son has to learn on his own how to respect the women in his life, how to express his feelings, and how to be just in a world that is often unjust to women and those with the least power, you’ll not only have failed him, but yourself.

If that’s not enough to convince you, let mine be your cautionary tale. For you who are fathers, the last memory you want is of a son who doesn’t even say your name or remember your face. If pressed, he can’t recall when you were born. Or one whose good memories, and even most of the bad, are gone. You don’t want your son to be me, with no regrets about erasing you out of his life or not attending your burial. I can only encourage you to teach them well and show them a better way. Do whatever you can to make sure the day my father and I saw never comes.

From Feminist Current: http://feministcurrent.com/12364/what-fathers-should-tell-their-sons/

Protecting Mauna Kea: This Is A War

By Will Falk / Deep Green Resistance

Sitting outside the 10 by 20 foot makeshift tent that has served as my home for the last 34 days on Mauna Kea, I watch the tent poles shudder to the concussion of US Army howitzer cannons firing live shells at their training grounds below. When the wind blows just right, from the south, the rattle of automatic rifle fire reaches the occupation. There’s no denying it: A war rages in Hawai’i.

It’s a war on native peoples, a war on women, a war on the land, a war on life itself. The war did not start in Hawai’i. The war began thousands of years ago with the dawn of civilization when some humans chose to live in population densities high enough that they overshot the carrying capacity of their homelands and turned to dominating other peoples in other lands. Imperialism was born, and one-by-one land-based, truly sustainable human societies were either eradicated or forced into assimilation.

The war swept west across Turtle Island (so-called North America) – where it is still being fought -leaving whole peoples destroyed and now largely forgotten. The war is carving peaks from mountains, drying rivers so they no longer flow to their ocean homes, and boiling the planet’s temperature to levels dangerously close to being unbearable for all but a few lifeforms. The war decimates the numbers of our animal kin, too. Buffalo walk the ledge above total extinction. So do salmon. So do timber wolves. So do grizzly bear.

The war in Hawai’i began in the late 1770s when Captain Cook first appeared. By 1897, a million Hawaiians were killed in battle, by introduced diseases, and through Christian missionary efforts. Half of Hawai’i’s endemic species have been exterminated since European contact. The minds of Hawaiian children were attacked when the illegal Republic of Hawai’i outlawed the Hawaiian language in Hawaiian schools in 1896. The bodies of these Hawaiian children were attacked when they were beaten for speaking their native tongue.

A genocidal program of desecration was initiated as well. Hale O Pa’pa and the Kanaka burials there were paved over by highways while Kahoolawe was bombed to hell by the American military – and that’s just to name a very few of the sites desecrated. Now, the TMT project wants to dynamite an eight acre patch of Mauna Kea’s hallowed summit to clear the way for their telescope.

***

Rumors are swirling that the TMT (Thirty Meter Telescope) project is poised to break its self-imposed moratorium on construction and send its equipment up the mountain with an armed escort. We have heard that Gov. David Ige is willing to send the national guard against the Mauna Kea protectors.

In the midst of these rumors, it is not uncommon to hear people say they hope the situation on Mauna Kea will not turn violent. The problem with expressing this hope is the situation on Mauna Kea is violent, has been violent for a long time, and will remain violent so long as those in power remain in control of the land.

Before you object to this, consider the bombs and rifle fire I am listening to as I write this.

Consider that the first time construction equipment tried to force a way over the objections of the Hawaiian people, it came with men carrying batons and pistols. These men carrying batons and pistols put 31 peaceful protectors in handcuffs, carried them to the Hilo jail, extracted 250 dollars from each one of them, and now force them to appear at a series of of court dates under threat of jail time.

Consider that David Ige, as I wrote earlier, has stated that he is willing to call in the national guard to clear the way for the TMT. Speaking of war, the national guard is an organization of soldiers. They will come with rifles instead of the police’s pistols.

This is violence.

I didn’t even mention the violence already done to Mauna Kea to build and maintain the 13 telescopes that already exist on the summit. These 13 telescopes required their own dynamite and 38 feet have been cut from the height of Mauna Kea’s summit already. There have been 7 reported mercury spills on the mountain that contains Hawai’i Island’s largest freshwater aquifer.

Mauna Kea
Mauna Kea

Plants, animals, and insects that live on Mauna Kea are murdered by this mercury and its more than likely that humans – especially children and the elderly – are harmed by this mercury, too.

Kanaka Maoli are genealogically related to Mauna Kea – it is literally a family member – so to do this kind of violence to the Mauna is to attack an older sibling.

Again, this is violence.

I anticipate that some may accuse me of encouraging an atmosphere of violence by using words like war to describe the violent reality facing Mauna Kea, facing Kanaka Maoli, and facing the long, necessary road to Hawaiian independence. Describing reality, however, is not the same thing as encouraging violence. I want this violence to stop and the first step to a cure is the proper diagnosis.

As a haole, I understand that when push comes to shove the State will crack down much harder on people of color than they will white people, and I do not want to provoke this crack down. I do think, though, that we need to be prepared to react when the State does not treat the protectors with the kapu aloha that the protectors will show those who come to destroy Mauna Kea.

Those who deny we are at war are wrong. Maybe, they cannot recognize the war because war has become so utterly pervasive. The wars of the past led to the rape of women. The war we’re fighting now causes one in six women to be raped in her lifetime worldwide. The wars of the past were fought to beat armies, to eradicate cultures, and to topple nations. The war we’re fighting now causes the extinction of whole species – 200 species a day, in fact, day after day after day.

Maybe, they cannot recognize the war because they are privileged enough not to confront the reality of this war. I think Palestinians understand this war. I think Catholics in Northern Ireland understand this war. I think Afghanis and Iraqis understand this war. I think hammerhead sharks, California condors, mamane trees, and ahinahina understand this war. They have to, because their survival depends on it.

Maybe, those who deny the war is happening think they can avoid the war’s dangers by ignoring it. It might be possible to avoid bullets, gas, and bombs by agreeing and cooperating with the cops as they place you in handcuffs, but you are just as susceptible to the environmental toxins the dominant culture unleashes on us every day. Denial saves no one from cancer.

Yes, Hawai’i with the rest of the world, is at war. This war – more than any other – is a war that we absolutely must win. If we lose, we lose life on this planet. To win a war, you must destroy your enemy’s ability to make war. The battle on Mauna Kea against the TMT is a mini-war in the larger war on life. The surest way to win this war is to undermine the TMT’s ability to build their telescope.

There are many strategies currently being employed to win this war – to undermine the TMT’s ability to build their telescope – but the weakness of most of these strategies is that they rely on our enemies to do the right thing. The countless sign-waving events conducted in support of Mauna Kea are designed to persuade the public of the justness of our movement. The incessant social media campaign we are waging is geared towards changing the hearts and minds of the world. The court cases challenging the TMT project, for example, rely on a judge to agree with the arguments made by our lawyers.

And why do we appeal to the courts to protect Mauna Kea? The answer is simple. If the judge rules in our favor, the decision will be backed with the full force of the State. The judge’s ruling and it’s enforcement will be backed with an organized group of men carrying guns – the police, or another organized group of men carrying bigger guns – the national guard. If we were to win in court and the TMT tried to build it’s telescope, it would be them and not us for once, who would be staring down the barrels of rifles. Of course, we do not trust the courts to do the right thing.

That’s why we stand on the Mauna Kea Access Road at this occupation.

Another way to say all this is: the State can, will, and already has used violence against us and our relations in the natural world. We must understand this in order to be effective. We must understand that writing really clever essays might not stop them. We must understand that hugging cops when they come to arrest us might not stop them. We must understand that we may not have an opportunity to place leis around the necks of national guardsmen when they point their guns at us.

I hear many people within the movement state confidently, “We will stop the TMT project.” But, if we do not understand the violence the State is capable of I feel like what we are really saying is “We will stop the TMT project as long as the police or the national guard agree to what we think are the rules.” I am not writing these things to cause despair. Rather, I am writing these things to encourage the deepest levels of commitment to protecting Mauna Kea.

Of course, those who think I am calling for violence demonstrate their own belief that only violence will stop the destruction of Mauna Kea, the destruction of Hawai’i, and the destruction of what is left of the world. I do not claim to know what will stop the destruction of Mauna Kea, but I do know that we must understand the way the State frames our tactics for us before we even begin. Once we understand this, we must ask tough questions.

I’ll walk my talk and begin: If the police or national guard overwhelms the protectors on the Mauna Kea Access Road, what do we do next?

We-Are-Mauna-Kea (1)

From San Diego Free Press: http://sandiegofreepress.org/2015/06/protecting-mauna-kea-this-is-a-war/

Find an index of Will Falk’s “Protecting Mauna Kea” essays, plus other resources, at:
Deep Green Resistance Hawai’i: Protect Mauna Kea from the Thirty Meter Telescope

Protecting Mauna Kea: Vocabulary for Haoles

By Will Falk / Deep Green Resistance

I write these words from the floor of a warm corner of the men’s restroom at the Mauna Kea visitor center. The temperature outside is too cold for my laptop battery to take a charge and the restroom houses the only active plug, so I huddle in this corner to combat the words used by those who seek to destroy what I love.

I’ve been on Mauna Kea for the last 24 nights standing in solidarity with Kanaka Maoli as they protect their sacred mountain from the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) project that would dynamite an eight acre patch two stories deep at the pristine summit of Mauna Kea.

When I was asked to come to Mauna Kea, I was asked to write in a way that connects the complex forces informing a destructive project like the TMT to the systems currently murdering the beautiful islands of Hawai’i. More specifically, I was asked to write to America about the genocidal context the TMT springs from.

The occupation on Mauna Kea exists for two reasons. First, the Mauna Kea protectors will stop the TMT construction equipment when they finally seek to force their way to the summit again. As I write this, it has been 79 days since the TMT construction was stopped on the Mauna Kea access road the first time. Second, the Mauna Kea protectors serve as public education ambassadors. Each day hundreds of tourists come to Mauna Kea and each day dozens stop by our tent to ask us what we’re doing.

These conversations, reactions to some of my previous essays, and discussions with other protectors lead me to believe that a vocabulary lesson for haoles is due. As haoles who want to support Hawaiian sovereignty, we must learn to use the appropriate words.

The terms I define in this essay—haole, racism, white supremacy and genocide—are experienced in a very real way by oppressed peoples around the world. It is not my place to explain these terms to people experiencing genocide in the most vivid ways, so I write to those privileged enough to be free from these realities. The first step to acting in true solidarity is accepting the truth and to accept the truth we must communicate with the most honest words.

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Haole is the Hawaiian word for “white person.” The first time I used the term in my piece “Protecting Mauna Kea: History for Haoles,” I received a wide variety of comments and messages.

Some of the comments were from native Hawaiians thanking me for being a haole willing to describe the true Hawaiian history to other haoles. Some of the comments were from people offended by my use of the term. Some of the comments were from people telling me I was wrong, that haole has no racial connotation and means simply “without breath.” Finally, and most disturbingly, some haoles accused me of spreading division within the movement by using the term and demanded that the term never be used again.

Usually, disputes over definitions can be resolved simply turning to a dictionary. So, I’ll start there. Here is the definition of “haole” from the “Hawaiian Dictionary” compiled by the famous native Hawaiian language scholar Mary Kawena Pukui: “White person, American, Englishman, Caucasian; American, English; formerly, any foreigner; foreign, introduced, of foreign origin, as plants, pigs, chickens; entirely white, of pigs. To act like a white person, to ape the white people, or assume airs of superiority (often said disparagingly, especially of half-whites). Americanized, Europeanized; to have become like a white person or have adopted the ways of a white man.”

Now, I understand that haole can become a derogatory term if words like “fucking” or “stupid” precede it, but Pukui’s definition makes it clear that the most common use of the word haole is to describe a white person. And, I was careful in my essay to use haole only to refer to white people. So, why did some haoles object to being called haoles? Why did some white people get angry for being called white people?

One thing I’ve noticed in my attempts to work in solidarity with people of color is that many white people hate being reminded of their whiteness. When I was a public defender bemoaning statistical realities like the fact that there are more black men in prison today than were enslaved in 1850 to a roomful of white judges, prosecutors and cops, I was shouted down and told we live today in a colorblind society. When I was at the Unist’ot’en Camp pipeline blockade in so-called British Columbia and our Unist’ot’en hosts explained the need for separate indigenous and settler camps due to the reality that many indigenous peoples felt more safe expressing their opinions away from settlers, there was always a white person who tried to set up in the indigenous camp with the logic that we’re all one human family.

So, the question becomes: Why do white people hate being reminded of their whiteness?

The answer, I think, is white people know they benefit both from a brutal history and an on-going reality of genocide and imperialism.White people have visited unspeakable violence on ourselves and on peoples and lands around the world. This is uncomfortable for some white people. But, the truth is the truth however uncomfortable.

Haunani-Kay Trask
Haunani-Kay Trask

I am writing about Hawai’i so I turn to the brilliant Hawaiian thinker Haunani-Kay Trask. Trask also used the term haole to describe white people and Trask was also forced to defend herself from angry white people. She explains the uncomfortable history confronting haoles, “In Hawai’i, it is the haole who stole our land, took our government, destroyed our nationhood, and suppressed our culture. It is white people who created laws to divide Hawaiians by blood quantum; it is white people who brought capitalism to Hawai’i. In other words, it is white people who, for their own benefit, have exploited and oppressed Hawaiians.”

When Hawaiians use the term “haole” – a word that means simply “white person” – they use an original word from their original language. Haoles have taken too much from Hawai’i already. When white people demand that Hawaiians give up their original words those white people seek participation in an inexcusable dominance that extends to something as sacred as original language.

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What about claims that I (and by extension anyone else who uses the term) spread division in the movement when I write “haole”? What about claims that the term haole is an expression of reverse racism?

These claims are based on an ignorance of social reality. In a world free of racism and white supremacy, differences in skin color would not matter. Humans, indeed, would be one big family. This is not the world we live in, though.

At this point, I must define racism. Again, I’ll turn to Trask who defines racism as, “A historically created system of power in which one racial/ethnic group dominates another racial/ethnic group for the benefit of the dominating group.” In a racist system, “economic and cultural domination as well as political power are included in the systemic dominance of the exploiting group.” Finally, “a monopoly of the means of violence is also held by those in the dominating group.” Racism in Hawai’i has taken the form of white supremacy where white people form the the dominating group.

Notice that Trask’s definition opposes the typical, liberal notion that racism is an emotional state existing in the minds of individuals. By this definition, then, it should be clear that haole as a Hawaiian word cannot be racist because Hawaiians are presently incapable of holding the requisite power in Hawaii to engage in racism. As long as Hawaiians remain a dominated racial group, they cannot be racist. They can discriminate against haoles, perhaps, or express prejudice, but they cannot practice racism.

To say that I am, in fact, enforcing racism by pointing out that racism exists is to buy into the erroneous idea that racism is just a belief held in the mind and as such can be overcome merely by holding love for all people. White supremacy and racism, though, are enforced by physical power and violence. To truly undermine racism requires physically dismantling the means by which racism is perpetuated. If we cannot point out that haoles are white people directly benefitting from a specific arrangement of power, then we will never effectively dismantle white supremacy—and what’s left of Hawai’i will be annihilated.

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Another word many haoles roll their eyes at is “genocide.” The truth is Hawai’i has suffered from over two hundred years of on-going genocide and the TMT project, regardless of its stated goals, is another attempted act in a long list of genocide.

Too many limit their view of genocide to ditches full of corpses or black and white photographs of gas chambers. These are certainly images of genocide, but Article II of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide (the international authority) contemplates a much broader definition.

Article II says genocide is “any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial, or religious group as such: killing members of the group, causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group, deliberately inflicting on the group conditions calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part, imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group, or forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”

Raphael Lemkin invented the term “genocide” and informed much of the 1948 Convention’s rationale with his masterpiece written in 1943 titled “Axis Rule in Occupied Europe.” He wrote, “Genocide does not necessarily mean the immediate destruction of a nation, except when accomplished by mass killings of all members of a nation.” Genocide can also be “a coordinated plan of actions aiming at the destruction of essential foundations of the life of national groups, with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves. The objectives of such a plan would be the disintegration of the political and social institutions, of culture, language, national feelings, religion, and the economic existence of national groups, and the destruction of the personal security, liberty, health, dignity, and even the lives of the individuals belonging to such groups.”

Captain Cook on the coast of New South Wales (Joseph BACKLER/Wikimedia)
Captain Cook on the coast of New South Wales (Joseph BACKLER/Wikimedia)

Viewed through this lens, we can see the countless, obvious acts of genocide that comprise recent Hawaiian history. First, there was Captain Cook landing on Hawai’i’s shores with sailors he knew full-well carried communicable and terminal diseases for native Hawaiians. The numbers are devastating. The population of Hawaii was estimated at well-over 1 million when Cook landed in the late 1770s. By 1898, at the time of the Ku’e Petitions, only 40,000 Kanaka Maoli existed in the whole world. This loss of human life in such a relatively short time reflects the “immediate destruction of a nation” Lemkin describes.

The illegal overthrow in 1893 involved all-white conspirators forcing Queen Liliuokalani to abdicate her throne as regent of the Kingdom of Hawai’i under threats of violence. The Kingdom of Hawai’i was formed to protect Hawai’i from European powers. So, the overthrow deliberately inflicted conditions calculated to bring about the physical destruction of the Hawaiian people. The objective of the overthrow was the disintegration of Hawaiian political and social institutions.

The banning of Hawaiian language in schools by the illegal Republic of Hawaii in 1896 was a move that was unquestionably designed to alienate Hawaiian children from their native culture, language, and religion.

And now we stand on Mauna Kea to stop genocide again. Make no mistake, the TMT project is classically genocidal aiming to desecrate the most sacred mountain in the traditional Hawaiian spirituality. Mauna Kea is the genesis site for Kanaka Maoli and is referred to as the piko, the navel of the world, connecting Sky Father to Earth Mother. The people are genealogically (read: literally) related to the Mountain making Mauna Kea an essential place of worship.

It is easy for many to see that blowing up places of worship like a synagogue or a mosque would be genocidal for causing serious mental harm to Jews or Muslims. It is easier still to see the way steamrolling places essential to world religions like Bethlehem or Mt. Sinai would be genocidal as well. Dynamiting Mauna Kea undermines Kanaka Maoli culture, spirituality, and society destroying a place of worship that is perhaps, the most symbolically significant place to the traditional Hawaiian spirituality.

Of course, the crime of genocide requires two elements – intent and action. A shrewd reader might object to accusations of genocide the same way the TMT organizers do, arguing that the TMT project does not intend to harm Hawaiians but instead is an effort to foster human understanding of astronomy. According to Gregory H. Stanton, President of Genocide Watch, “Intentional means purposeful. Intent can be proven directly from statements or orders. But more often, it must be inferred from a systematic pattern of coordinated acts.”

What happens when we view the TMT project through the totality of the haole presence in Hawai’i? Can we infer a systematic pattern of coordinated acts that would rise to the requisite level of intention needed to prove genocide?

As I demonstrated earlier, we see that the last two hundred years in Hawai’i—marked by the arrival of haoles—are dominated by genocide. Captain Cook came to the Pacific specifically to open the region to British colonization. Missionaries followed Cook to destroy Hawaiian spirituality and replace it with Christianity. Americans overthrew the Kingdom of Hawai’i to push the genocidal legacy of Manifest Destiny ever farther west. The Hawaiian language was suppressed in Hawaiian schools to program children in the Hawaiian version of “Kill the Indian, save the man.”

Now, the TMT project attempts to blow up the piko of the world, the heart of the Hawaiian people, in an act of desecration Cook, the Missionaries, and the haole plantation owners could only dream of. This is racism. This is genocide. The TMT must be stopped.

Find an index of Will Falk’s “Protecting Mauna Kea” essays, plus other resources, at:
Deep Green Resistance Hawai’i: Protect Mauna Kea from the Thirty Meter Telescope

From San Diego Free Press: http://sandiegofreepress.org/2015/06/protecting-mauna-kea-vocabulary-for-haoles/

Time is Short: Interview With An Eco-Saboteur, Part III

Editor’s Note:  An early version of this interview first appeared on the Deep Green Resistance News Service, June 20, 2013.

In 1993 Michael Carter was arrested and indicted for underground environmental activism. Since then he’s worked aboveground, fighting timber sales and oil and gas leasing, protecting endangered species, and more. Today, he’s a member of Deep Green Resistance Colorado Plateau, and author of the memoir Kingfishers’ Song: Memories Against Civilization.

Time is Short spoke with him about his actions, underground resistance, and the prospects and problems facing the environmental movement. The first part of this interview is available here, and the second part here.

Time is Short: You mentioned some problems of radical groups—lack of respect for women and lack of a strategy.  Could you expand on that?

Michael Carter: Sure.  To begin with, I think both of those issues arise from a lifetime of privilege in the dominant culture.  Men in particular seem prone to nihilism; I certainly was.  Since we were taught—however unwittingly—that men are entitled to more of everything than women, our tendency is to bring this to all our endeavors.

I will give some credit to the movie “Night Moves” for illustrating that. The men cajole the woman into taking outlandish risks and they get off on the destruction, and that’s all they really do.  When an innocent bystander is killed by their action, the woman has an emotional breakdown.  She’s angry with the men because they told her no one would get hurt, and she breaches security by talking to other people about it.  Their cell unravels and they don’t even explore their next options together.  Instead of providing or even offering support, one of the men stalks and ultimately kills the woman to protect himself from getting caught, then vanishes back into mainstream consumer culture.  So he’s not only a murderer but ultimately a cowardly hypocrite, as well.

Honestly, it appears to be more of an anti-underground propaganda piece than anything.  Or maybe it’s just a vapid film, but it does have one somewhat valid point—that we white Americans, particularly men, are an overprivileged self-centered lot who won’t hesitate to hurt anyone who threatens us.

Artwork by Stephanie McMillan
Artwork by Stephanie McMillan

That’s a fictional example, but any female activist can tell you the same thing.  And of course misogyny isn’t limited to underground or militant groups; I saw all sorts of male self-indulgence and superiority in aboveground circles, moderate and radical both.  It took hindsight for me to recognize it, even in myself.  That’s a central problem of radical environmentalism, one reason why it’s been so ineffective.  Why should any woman invest her time and energy in an immature movement that holds her in such low regard?  I’ve heard this complaint about Occupy groups, anarchists, aboveground direct action groups, you name it.

Groups can overcome that by putting women in positions of leadership and creating secure, uncompromised spaces for them to do their work.  I like to reflect on the multi-cultural resistance to the Burmese military dictatorship, which is also a good example of a combined above- and underground effort, of militant and non-violent tactics.  The indigenous people of Burma traditionally held women in positions of respect within their cultures, so they had an advantage in building that into their resistance movements, but there’s no reason we couldn’t imitate that anywhere.  Moreover, if there are going to be sustainable and just cultures in the future, women are going to be playing critical roles in forming and running them, so men should be doing everything possible to advocate for their absolute human rights.

As for strategy, it’s a waste of risk-taking for someone to cut down billboards or burn the paint off bulldozers.  It’s important not to equate willingness with strategy, or radicalism and militancy with intelligence.  For example, I just noticed an oil exploration subcontractor has opened an office in my town.  Bad news, right?  I had a fleeting wish to smash their windows, maybe burn the place down.  That’ll teach ‘em, they’ll take us seriously then.  But it wouldn’t do anything, only net the company an insurance settlement they’d rebuild with and reinforce the image of militant activists as mindless, dangerous thugs.

If I were underground, I’d at least take the time to choose a much more costly and hard-to-replace target.  I’d do everything I could to coordinate an attack that would make it harder for the company to recover and continue doing business.  And I’d only do these things after I had a better understanding of the industry and its overall effects, and a wider-focused examination of how that industry falls into the mechanism of civilization itself.

By widening the scope further, you see that ending oil and gas development might better be approached from an aboveground stance—by community rights initiatives, for example, that have outlawed fracking from New York to Texas to California.  That seems to stand a much better chance of being effective, and can be part of a still wider strategy to end fossil fuel extraction altogether, which would also require militant tactics.  You have to make room for everything, any tactic that has a chance of working, and begin your evaluation there.MC_tsquote_3

To use the Oak Flat copper mine example, now the mine is that much closer to happening, and the people working against it have to reappraise what they have available.  That particular issue involves indigenous sacred sites, so how might that be respectfully addressed, and employed in fighting the mine aboveground?  Might there be enough people to stop it with civil disobedience?  Is there any legal recourse?  If there isn’t, how might an underground cell appraise it?  Are there any transportation bottlenecks to target, any uniquely expensive equipment?  How does timing fit in?  How about market conditions—hit them when copper prices are down, maybe?  Target the parent company or its other subsidiaries?  What are the company’s financial resources?

An underground needs a strategy for long-term success and a decision-making mechanism that evaluates other actions.  Then they can make more tightly focused decisions about tactics, abilities, resources, timing, and coordinated effort.  The French Resistance to the Nazis couldn’t invade Berlin, but they sure could dynamite train tracks.  You wouldn’t want to sabotage the first bulldozer you came across in the woods; you’d want to know who it belonged to, if it mattered, and that you weren’t going to get caught.  Maybe it belongs to a habitat restoration group, who can say?  It doesn’t do any good to put a small logging contractor out of business, and it doesn’t hurt a big corporation to destroy machinery that is inexpensive, so those questions need to be answered beforehand.  I think successful underground strikes must be mostly about planning; they should never, never be about impulse.

From Deep Green Resistance: A Strategy to Save the Planet
From Deep Green Resistance: A Strategy to Save the Planet

TS: There are a lot of folks out there who support the use of underground action and sabotage in defense of Earth, but for any number of reasons—family commitments, physical limitations, and so on—can’t undertake that kind of action themselves. What do you think they can do to support those willing and able to engage in militant action?

MC: Aboveground people need to advocate underground action, so those who are able to be underground have some sort of political platform.  Not to promote the IRA or its tactics (like bombing nightclubs), but its political wing of Sinn Fein is a good example.  I’ve heard a lot of objections to the idea of advocating but not participating in underground actions, that there’s some kind of “do as I say, not as I do” hypocrisy in it, but that reflects a misunderstanding of resistance movements, or the requirements of militancy in general.  Any on-the-ground combatant needs backup; it’s just the way it is.  And remember that being aboveground doesn’t guarantee you any safety.  In fact, if the movement becomes effective, it’s the aboveground people most vulnerable to harm, because they’re going to be well known.  In that sense, it’s safer to be underground.  Think of the all the outspoken people branded as intellectuals and rounded up by the Nazis.

From Deep Green Resistance: A Strategy to Save the Planet
From Deep Green Resistance: A Strategy to Save the Planet

The next most important support is financial and material, so they can have some security if they’re arrested.  When environmentalists were fighting logging in Clayoquot Sound on Vancouver Island in the 1990s, Paul Watson (of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society) offered to pay the legal defense of anyone caught tree spiking.  Legal defense funds and on-call pro-bono lawyers come immediately to mind, but I’m sure that could be expanded upon.  Knowing that someone is going to help if something horrible happens, combatants can take more initiative, can be more able to engineer effective actions.

We hope there won’t be any prisoners, but if there are, they must be supported too.  They can’t just be forgotten after a month.  As I mentioned before, even getting letters in jail is a huge morale booster.  If prisoners have families, it’s going to make a big difference for them to know that their loved ones aren’t alone and that they will have some sort of aboveground material support.  This is part of what we mean when we talk about a culture of resistance.

TS: You’ve participated in a wide range of actions, spanning the spectrum from traditional legal appeals to sabotage.  With this unique perspective, what do you see as being the most promising strategy for the environmental movement?

MC: We need more of everything, more of whatever we can assemble.  There’s no denying that a lot of perfectly legal mainstream tactics can work well.  We can’t litigate our way to sustainability any more than we can sabotage our way to sustainability; but for the people who are able to sue the enemy, that’s what they should be doing.  Those who don’t have access to the courts (which is most everyone) need to find other roles.  An effective movement will be a well-organized movement, willing to confront power, knowing that everything is at stake.

Decisive Ecological Warfare is the only global strategy that I know of.  It lays out clear goals and ways of arranging above- and underground groups based on historical examples of effective movements.  If would-be activists are feeling unsure, this might be a way for them to get started, but I’m sure other plans can emerge with time and experience.  DEW is just a starting point.

Remember the hardest times are in the beginning, when you’re making inevitable mistakes and going through abrupt learning curves.  When I first joined Deep Green Resistance, I was very uneasy about it because I still felt burned out from the ‘90s struggles.  What I’ve discovered is that real strength and endurance is founded in humility and respect.  I’ve learned a lot from others in the group, some of whom are half my age and younger, and that’s a humbling experience.  I never really understood what a struggle it is for women, either, in radical movements or the culture at large; my time in DGR has brought that into focus.

Look at the trans controversy; here are males asking to subordinate women’s experiences and safe spaces so they can feel comfortable.  It’s hard for civilized men to imagine relationships that aren’t based on the dominant-submissive model of civilization, and I think that’s what the issue is really about—not phobia, not exclusionary politics, but rather role-playing that’s all about identity.  Male strength traditionally comes from arrogance and false pride, which naturally leads to insecurity, fear, and a need to constantly assert an upper hand, a need to be right.  A much more secure stance is to recognize the power of the earth, and allow ourselves to serve that power, not to pretend to understand or control it.

MC_tsquote_5TS: We agree that time is not on our side.  What do you think is on our side?

MC: Three things: first, the planet wants to live.  It wants biological diversity, abundance, and above all topsoil, and that’s what will provide any basis for life in the future.  I think humans want to live, too; and more than just live, but be satisfied in living well.  Civilization offers only a sorry substitute for living well to only a small minority.

The second is that activists now have a distinct advantage in that it’s easier to get information anonymously.  The more that can be safely done with computers, including attacking computer systems, the better—but even if it’s just finding out whose machinery is where, how industrial systems are built and laid out, that’s much easier to come by.  On the other hand the enemy has a similar advantage in surveillance and investigation, so security is more crucial than ever.

The third is that the easily accessible resources that empires need to function are all but gone.  There will never be another age of cheap oil, iron ore mountains, abundant forest, and continents of topsoil.  Once the infrastructure of civilized humanity collapses or is intentionally broken, it can’t really be rebuilt.  Then humans will need to learn how to live in much smaller-scale cultures based on what the land can support and how justly they treat one another.  That will be no utopia, of course, but it’s still humanity’s best option.  The fight we’re now engaged in is over what living material will be available for those new, localized cultures—and more importantly, the larger nonhuman biological communities—to sustain themselves.  What polar bears, salmon, and migratory birds need, we will also need.  Our futures are forever linked.

Time is Short: Reports, Reflections & Analysis on Underground Resistance is a bulletin dedicated to promoting and normalizing underground resistance, as well as dissecting and studying its forms and implementation, including essays and articles about underground resistance, surveys of current and historical resistance movements, militant theory and praxis, strategic analysis, and more. We welcome you to contact us with comments, questions, or other ideas at undergroundpromotion@deepgreenresistance.org

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