Posts Tagged ‘Ferguson’

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F.C. St. Pauli is “the world’s most left-wing football club.”

It’s also the club that seems most to be in the news these days. In addition to the piece on Shortlist.com, there’s an article from this past weekend article on the Guardian web site.

And then there’s today’s report, in the New York Times:

Ibrahim Ismail had decided to make a placard for each of his five Syrian and Iraqi friends the moment he heard they would receive a free ticket for Tuesday’s soccer match.

“They say, ‘Thank You, Hamburg’, ‘Thank You, St. Pauli’ and “Many Thanks, Germany,’ ” Ismail said, showing off messages he had carefully printed, in German and Arabic, on scraps of cardboard with a black marker.

The six men proudly displayed their homemade signs to thousands of German supporters as they streamed into Hamburg’s Millerntor-Stadion. Almost all of the fans who passed them were wearing black T-shirts with the image of a skull and crossbones on the front, the emblem that is the calling card of F.C. St. Pauli.

A few days earlier, St. Pauli, a team in the second tier of German soccer that has become famous for its punk rock ethos and social conscience, offered 1,000 free tickets for this week’s exhibition against Borussia Dortmund to recently arrived refugees, including Ismail and his friends. The effort was a part of a larger response, sparked by organic gestures by fan groups, that has brought discussion of Europe’s migrant crisis into stadiums across Europe.

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Football (or, if you prefer, soccer) fans and clubs across Europe, particularly in Germany and especially F.C. St. Pauli, are extending a warm welcome and a helping hand to the thousands of refugees currently streaming into Europe.

Many of the refugees invited to St. Pauli’s match with Borussia Dortmund live in camps around the port city, including one that is a few minutes’ walk from the district that gives F.C. St. Pauli its name.

“A chance to meet the neighbors!” joked Christian Prüss, who works for St. Pauli and has been in charge of the club’s response to the refugee crisis.

A few hours before kickoff Tuesday, Prüss was nervously smoking a cigarette inside St. Pauli’s empty stadium as his phone rang constantly. Like others and the club, he views the humanitarian effort as more of a responsibility than an act of charity.

Besides donating the 1,000 tickets, St. Pauli raised 45,000 euros, over $50,000, in 24 hours — enough to help finance a search-and-rescue boat stationed in the Mediterranean.

“Always the club is without money, we are famous for it,” Prüss said of St. Pauli. “But we have credibility.”

The club’s roots are in the working class St. Pauli neighborhood, famed for the Reeperbahn, Hamburg’s red-light district. It was here that the Beatles honed their trade from 1960 and 1962, and where the neighborhood’s social activism and radical politics often bleed into the stands of the Millerntor.

“We think we can provide more than just football,” Prüss said. “Not just about 90 minutes. We have a responsibility for the people around the club.”

Few take that responsibility more seriously than the St. Pauli fans. Since 2004, the Ultras St. Pauli group has been visiting refugee camps around Hamburg, bringing clothes, food and lawyers to help the migrants navigate Germany’s complex asylum applications.

“It is a kind of radical way to support a football club; we are not just supporting a football club but politically, too,” said Lucas, one of the youngest members of the group, which unlike other right-leaning and sometimes violent ultra organizations, campaigns on everything from ending racism to supporting gay rights. As is common with hard-core European supporters groups, Lucas declined to give his full name.

“It’s why I love this club,” Lucas added. “But German society is divided into two parts. One part supports the refugee struggle and wants to help.” The other, he said, believes the opposite. “They think: ‘We don’t need them’, ‘It’s too much’, ‘Go back home,’ ’’ he said. “I can’t imagine how these people think.”

This is an example others—from last year’s St. Louis Cardinals fans to the current politicians in Europe—might want to emulate.

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It’s more than 50 years after the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and we’re still having a hard time thinking through the relationship between race and class in the United States, as we have seen in the recent tensions between Black Lives Matter and the Bernie Sanders campaign.

For the organizers of the 1963 march, issues of race and class were inextricably connected. That’s why the coalition that sponsored the march focused on both civil rights and the creation of jobs through public works, on eliminating segregation and raising the minimum wage, on making sure that whites and blacks were able to march together. They weren’t “class reductionists.” They were attempting to forge a movement that could eliminate both racial disparities and economic exploitation.

Touré F. Reed [ht: db] delves back into that history in order to demonstrate that, while liberals have always had a difficult time in focusing on the nexus between racism and class, the United States has a long history of thinking through and organizing around both issues.

Many contemporary activists, broadly defined, are quick to dismiss as racist deflection any attempts to view racial disparities through the lens of class inequality, but in the 1930s and 1940s mainstream African-American civil rights leaders — among them Lester Granger of the National Urban League, Walter White of the NAACP, John P. Davis of the National Negro Congress, and of course A. Philip Randolph of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (BSCP) — frequently argued that precisely because most blacks were working class, racial equality could only be achieved through a combination of anti-discrimination policies and social-democratic economic policies.

But by the 1950s, the anticommunism of the Cold War had a chilling effect on class-oriented civil rights politics, setting the stage for analyses of racism that divorced prejudice from economic exploitation — the fundamental reason for slavery and Jim Crow. Indeed, this was the era in which racism was recast as a psychological affliction rather than a product of political economy.

As McCarthyism receded by the end of the 1950s, however, mainstream black civil rights leaders once again identified economic opportunity for all — decent-paying jobs and social-democratic policies — as essential to racial equality.

The black organizers of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom (it is telling that “Jobs and Freedom” are no longer part of collective reflections of the march), Randolph and Bayard Rustin — both of them socialists — were very clear about this.

Which brings us up to the issue of Ferguson and other instances of police brutality today.

In separating the problem of police brutality from political economy, many activists — like, ironically, the liberal as opposed to left approach to racial inequality — not only undercut the opportunity for broader political alliances and perhaps some meaningful victories, but sidestep the same crucial point about police brutality that both liberals and conservatives look past. . .

If one views the excesses and failures of the criminal justice system solely through the lens of race, then victims of police brutality and prosecutorial misconduct tend to be black or Latino. However, if one understands race and class are inextricably linked, then the victims of police brutality are not simply black or Latino (and Latinos outnumber blacks in federal prisons at this point) but they tend to belong to groups that lack political, economic, and social influence and power.

From that vantage point, the worldview expressed by Johnson and others misses the mark and falls into the same trap that, ironically, liberals have offered a stratum of credentialed black Americans for decades: opportunity within a market-driven political and economic framework that disparages demands for social and economic justice for all (including most black people) as socialist, communist, un-American, or even class-reductionist.

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Clay Bennett editorial cartoon www.usnews

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March 7, 2015

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Labor’s cartoonist

Posted: 4 March 2015 in Uncategorized
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Gary Huck, whose cartoons have often graced this blog, is the last full-time cartoonist employed by a major labor union (the UE—the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America).

Huck is the subject—alongside the freelance labor cartoonist Mike Konopacki, who formed a syndication partnership with Huck in the early 1980s to sell cartoons to union and alternative newspapers—of “Seeing Red,” an exhibit of their work running through Friday at the Uri-Eichen Gallery in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago.

The UE, which was founded in the 1930s by workers from GE and Westinghouse and RCA, once had a membership of more than 600,000 workers. And though the UE historically has been on the left politically, not everything that Huck draws wins lock-step approval these days. A couple of months ago, for instance, in the wake of the Ferguson, Mo., riots, Huck tweaked Norman Rockwell’s iconic painting of a policeman sitting at the counter of a soda fountain beside a young boy. He made the white child a black child, with hands raised in surrender. That went into the UE News, and Hart said it received some backlash from members. Still, Huck has become a cornerstone of the union.

Part of its culture.

Par for its course.

The cartoons of both Huck and Konopacki can been seen here.

 

This is AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka [ht: ac], from earlier this year, on the issues of race and class in the United States, including the problems within the history of the U.S. labor movement itself.

It’s a perspective that has mostly gone unheard in the debate provoked by the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. . .