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Immediately after the election of Donald Trump, a broad-based, inclusive and organized resistance movement began to develop in Monterey County. Efforts were made to bring together the various constituencies and organizations that make up the local progressive activist movement. For a few months, these efforts showed great promise.

By the spring of 2017, however, these efforts had been completely derailed. The local progressive activist movement is more disorganized, divided and ineffective than it was before Trump’s election.

The first large local protest against the Trump agenda was the Nov. 20 March for Peace and Equality, which drew several hundred people who marched from Window on the Bay Park to Colton Hall.   The young woman who initiated the march had never before attended a demonstration.

Over the next few months, there was a series of rallies and marches in our community, the largest of which was the Women’s March on Saturday, Jan. 21, the day after Trump’s inauguration. Several thousand people attended. The principal organizer also was a woman with no previous organizing experience.

On the day before the Women’s March, about 300 people gathered at the Unitarian Universalist Church for the People’s Rally for Unity and Equality. It was endorsed by over 30 local organizations, many of which had never collaborated before. The roster of speakers included students, elected officials, civil rights and reproductive rights activists, and activists from organized labor and the African-American, Native American, Mexican American and gay and lesbian communities. The steering committee, the list of endorsers and the panel of speakers were more inclusive and representative of the diversity of this community than any activist event I have attended in Monterey County.

I will not list all the rallies and marches that took place in the first few months after Trump’s election. Two memorable ones were the Dec. 6 vigil for sanctuary at Salinas City Hall and the Feb. 4 Rally Against Hate, protesting Trump’s Islamophobic travel ban. One local activist described the Rally Against Hate as “probably the most inclusive, congenial, best-received and enjoyable demonstration” she’d ever attended on the Peninsula.

Most of the local protests were organized by people with little or no previous organizing experience, not by the established and recognized progressive organizations. They also brought out large and diverse crowds, not the usual 30 or 40 white, English-speaking retirees I’d seen over and over at demonstrations during the Obama years. I had tremendous hope that the various groups and constituencies that made up the local progressive activist community were coming together to form an informal working coalition that might eventually coalesce into an organized, unified and effective movement.

I organized a series of well-attended meetings at which I attempted to facilitate greater coordination, cooperation, collaboration and communication between the progressive groups.

Unfortunately, it soon became apparent that most of the leadership of the various groups had little or no interest in this endeavor. While some paid lip service to the idea of coalition building, most of these (mostly self-appointed) leaders were more interested in promoting their own agendas and protecting their own turf and status as big fish in small ponds. One of the local progressive leaders went so far as to tell a group of about 200 activists that it wasn’t important for different groups to try to work together.

By the spring of 2017, the growing but still informal coalition collapsed. The implosion of this budding movement didn’t just “happen” like an apple falling from a tree. It was the result of the actions of a relatively small number of leading activists, and the passivity of the rest of the activist community.

These leading activists represent two factions: (1) an ossified Old Guard that orbits around the Monterey Peace and Justice Center (MPJC) and includes members of MPJC, the “Peace Coalition,” Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and Veterans for Peace; and (2) activists from the Democratic Party, the “Progressive” Democrats, and the various local Indivisible groups.

These two factions have two things in common: (1) they have demonstrated a near total inability to address even minor internal conflicts in a responsible and constructive manner; and (2) they have demonstrated a near total inability to expand their base of support beyond a very narrow demographic of predominantly English-speaking and relatively affluent white people whose median age is well past that of the local population.

Whatever their intentions, the actions of these leading activists have a negative effect on local organizing. Rather than contributing to the development of an effective and organized local movement for human rights, social justice and peace, these activists and the organizations they represent have effectively blocked the development of such a movement.

As a former board president of the Monterey Peace and Justice Center (MPJC), I can state that MPJC and other organizations affiliated with MPJC are profoundly dysfunctional. The local peace movement centered around MPJC is controlled by a tight knit cabal of activists, many of whom have known each other for decades, who use gossip and character assassination to maintain their control. In addition, some activists associated with MPJC, the Peace Coalition of Monterey County and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom have helped promote anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. A broader circle of activists who are connected in some way to MPJC either actively collude to hide the dysfunctional behavior or are complicit by their silence.

But it was the local activists affiliated with the Democratic Party who had the most destructive impact on local organizing efforts, through the faux grassroots movement Indivisible. Within two weeks of Trump’s inauguration, there were at least a dozen Indivisible chapters in this Congressional district alone. In Monterey County, hundreds of new activists were channeled away from existing coalition building efforts into the strategic dead end of Indivisible.

Indivisible’s promoters claimed it was a non-partisan, grassroots movement intended to hold elected officials to a progressive agenda. This claim was a fiction. This “non-partisan, grassroots” movement was heavily promoted by Rachel Maddow, who is paid $5 million a year to parrot Democratic National Committee talking points, all of which are then repeated almost verbatim by Indivisible activists.

I was initially skeptical of Indivisible. But, in the interest of unity, I helped promote it. I naively thought Indivisible could be a mechanism for bringing more people into a broad, organized and effective progressive movement. However, Indivisible’s leaders were more interested in using the progressive movement to build the Democratic Party and they had the backing of Robert Reich and MSNBC to do it. When I did ask a few questions about strategy and tactics, I was verbally bludgeoned into submission.

I quickly learned that, among local Democratic Party/Indivisible activists, dissent was not tolerated. Anyone who was not willing to take political direction from Rachel Maddow and the “MSDNC was quickly attacked as a Trump supporter or a Putin lover. Vociferous criticism of Trump and the Republicans was encouraged, but woe to anyone who mentioned inconvenient facts about Democrats. The facts that Obama presided over the bombing of more countries than any president since World War II, the death by drone of American citizens, the deportation of record numbers of immigrants, the greatest increase in economic inequality in U.S. history, and the creation of the worst refugee crisis in over six decades are never to be mentioned.

Since Trump’s election, local Democratic Party/Indivisible activists accused me of being “hostile,” “insulting,” “holier-than-thou,” a “narcissist” and of having “no brain, no heart and no balls.” The most bizarre charge was that I was being “divisive.” This is an odd accusation to make against someone who, arguably, has been more successful than any other local activist in bringing together diverse groups of people.

Aside from the reprehensible means by which these activists deal with differences of opinion, the organizing strategy is profoundly misguided if the intent is to produce meaningful social change.

We now have empirical evidence from decades of history from this country and beyond informing us about what it takes to bring significant change. It takes the sustained mobilization of massive numbers of people.   Serious activism in Monterey County would involve mobilizing 10,000 to 15,000 people on a regular and sustained basis. This cannot be achieved unless activists are able to work with people who don’t think like or look like them. “No activist organization in this community should be taken seriously if it can’t mobilize large numbers of people who aren’t white, English-speaking, relatively affluent retirees.”

Another lesson from American history is that effective movements for social change must operate independently of the two major parties. Any movement that aligns itself with the Democratic Party is destined to fail. Activists who attempt to use the Democratic Party as vehicle for meaningful social change are ignoring history.

When I discussed this piece with the Partisan’s Royal Calkins, he asked that I include constructive suggestions on how people can re-engage. In all honesty, I can’t do that. I am unaware of any organization in this community that is engaged in the type of activism that is needed.

The last large demonstration in this community was the April 22 March for Science, which brought out about 1,000 people. After the violence in Charlottesville, there were several local demonstrations against fascism and in solidarity with the victims of the violence. It appeared to me that these demonstrations were organized spontaneously by highly motivated individuals and not by established organizations. I’m unaware of any organized effort to harness the energy from these protests and channel it into a sustained movement.

At one time, the largest local Indivisible group claimed to have 1,000 members. It appears that most of the dozen or so Indivisible groups that sprang up almost a year ago are defunct. The few that remain don’t seem to be able to mobilize more than a couple of dozen people.

On a personal level, I threw in the towel in early summer. The emotional toll of attempting to persuade my “colleagues” to collaborate and cooperate in an atmosphere of mutual respect while being subjected to insults and malicious gossip was more than I was willing to bear.

Collectively, we have ceded leadership of the progressive activist community to people who are not up to the task. Those who are most capable of providing effective leadership are unwilling to step up to the plate or simply don’t have the time because of commitments to their jobs and families. Or perhaps they are too smart to subject themselves to the abuse they would likely experience.

I believe there are people in this community who are capable of providing effective leadership for social change. If you are willing to take this on, I will certainly do whatever I can to support you even though I’m sure nothing I’ve written here encourages you step forward. Still, let me say this. We need you.

Phillip Crawford is an attorney and former president of the Monterey Peace and Justice Center.

{ 26 comments… add one }
  • george Riley November 10, 2017, 9:45 am

    Phillip has written a personal critique on divisiveness. He should know. He has been one for several years. Yes Phillip has tried to reorganize others, and start his own group, but his ego gets in the way. Criticizing every group makes him one of the more active assassins in the circle shooting at themselves. When asked to offer constructive suggestions, he only stroked his own ego.
    Sure many of us want the progressive community to pull together for greater impacts. But Phillip is blind to recent progress. Measure Z was a huge success, engaging every strain of our community. Community power succeeded from similar efforts. Recent local elections got younger and progressive-leaning candidates elected. The MCDCC has swung left. The very groups Phillip criticizes have a stellar record of reaching out to others and the broader community. Measure H2O to buy Cal Am will provide another opportunity for action across different groups. I ask all progressives to focus on an agenda of action, and act.

    • Phillip Crawford November 14, 2017, 1:24 pm

      Mr. Riley’s comment is bizarre, to say the least, and amounts to nothing more than a personal attack on me for expressing views he dislikes. I’ve had very little contact with Mr. Riley in the past couple of years. I’ve been in dozens of activist meetings, and don’t recall seeing him at any of them. So, I wonder what forms the basis of his criticism of my character flaws. Could his personal attack be based entirely on gossip?

      • Phillip Crawford November 14, 2017, 1:36 pm

        In regards to my alleged “ego” and “divisiveness,” consider the following:

        From January 2012 through May 2015, I served as the President the Board of Directors of the Monterey Peace and Justice Center. I have also served as Secretary of the Peace Coalition of Monterey County and as a board member of the local ACLU chapter. I have also been an active member of the international and anti-racism committees of the National Lawyers Guild. In 2016, I founded the Monterey County Nonviolent Action Committee and served as its co-chair.
        Phil Butler, leader of the local Veterans for Peace chapter, once described me as “a dedicated volunteer for peace and justice” and “one of our most valued leaders.” In May 2015, Joyce Vandevere, currently a Vice-President of the Monterey Peace and Justice Center, described me as “the only person currently providing dynamic leadership to the local peace movement.” Helen Rose, a senior member of the board of directors of the Monterey Peace and Justice Center, once said that I was the best thing that had ever happened to that organization. My efforts to battle Islamophobia led one local Muslim to call me “the Muslim community’s best local ally.” When I was Secretary of the Peace Coalition of Monterey County, David Henderson, a professor at the Naval Postgraduate School and then co-chair of the Peace Coalition (and a person with whom I vigorously disagreed on most things) said that I was the best thing to happen to the Peace Coalition since Mr. Henderson had become involved. Judy Karas, a member of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and now a member of the board of directors of the Monterey Peace and Justice Center, has stated that “Crawford speaks for many of us in the community.” Nashwan Hamza, former President of the Arab-American Club of the Monterey Peninsula, has written about me, saying, “I thank you for your support of Palestinian – Christian, Jewish, and Muslim – rights.” Karen Araujo (of the Peace Coalition of Monterey County, Social Justice Committee of the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Monterey Peninsula, Monterey Bay Central Labor Council, and the Monterey County Democratic Central Committee) has written that I have “great ideas and a great mind.” And the president of the local ACLU chapter has described me as having a “strong voice” and a “strong spine.”
        Here are some of the things I’ve done in the past several years:
        I’ve had numerous articles published in the media: including two articles on http://www.antiwar.com and three guest commentaries in the Monterey Herald.
        I’ve published numerous articles on peace and justice issues, as well as book reviews, in The Barline, the newsletter of the Monterey County Bar Association.
        I was the driving force behind many demonstrations, some of which were featured on the front page of local papers, including:
        A demonstration against U.S. Intervention in Ukraine in 2014.
        A demonstration against the bombing of Iraq and Syria in 2014.
        Seven demonstrations against the 2014 assault on Gaza:
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_fjhZnIIagI
        http://www.montereyherald.com/general-news/20140720/salinas-protesters-decry-gaza-violence
        http://www.thecalifornian.com/story/news/local/2014/07/14/salinas-residents-protest-war-gaza/12655577/
        In the spring of 2014, a protest was held outside the Panetta Lecture Series. Protesters distributed copies of a letter I had written to the Monterey Herald, calling attention to the lack of diversity in the series’ roster of speakers. In the previous season of the lecture series, 92% of the speakers were white men. In the season that followed the protest, only 57% of the speakers were white men. In terms of gender and ethnicity, this was the most diverse roster of speakers in the history of the lecture series. This was an indication that the protest, for which I provided the impetus, was successful.
        In 2015, I organized a demonstration at MIIS to protest their showing of the anti-Palestinian propaganda film “Above and Beyond” as part of the Carmel Jewish Film Festival. The following year’s film festival featured two films which attempted to include the Palestinian perspective.
        I also generated a letter-writing campaign to the Monterey Weekly calling attention to what was perceived as an insensitivity on the part of the Weekly to perspectives of the less privileged groups in our community, particularly people of color. As a result, the Weekly printed a Guest Commentary on the problem of implicit ethnic bias, written by two board members of the Monterey Peace and Justice Center. The Weekly also increased its coverage of people of color in our community and featured a cover story on Mel Mason, former Black Panther, former president of the local NAACP, and current director of the local non-profit the Village Project.
        In 2013, I designed and co-taught a course on “Race, Class and American Justice” at Monterey College of Law. The required reading for the course included Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow and Glenn Greenwald’s With Liberty and Justice for Some.
        In 2015, I wrote an open letter to Clint Eastwood, asking Monterey County’s most famous resident to denounce the anti-Muslim and anti-Arab bigotry that erupted in response to his film “American Sniper.” The letter was signed by over a dozen local activists, including representatives of organizations working to promote the civil and human rights of Arabs, Muslims, African-Americans and others. The letter was printed in the Salinas Californian and the Monterey Bay Partisan.
        I founded the Palestine Solidarity Committee, the only Palestine solidarity organization in the county. In March 2015, the Committee hosted a lecture at Monterey Peninsula College by Richard Falk, Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University, who served for six years as United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in occupied Palestine.
        In 2016, I brought Dr. Jess Ghannam to Carmel and Monterey to speak. Dr. Ghannam is the director of medical psychology at UCSF and one of the world’s leading authorities on PTSD. He is also a founding member of the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel and a board member of the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme. I organized an event at Anton & Michel restaurant in Carmel that raised thousands of dollars for community mental health programs in the Gaza Strip, where most children show symptoms of PTSD. After the event, Dr. Ghannam met with local activists to discuss the academic and cultural boycott of Israel.
        I have been the key speaker or an invited guest speaker at numerous events at various venues around the county, including the peace center, Monterey College of Law, UUCMP, the Steinbeck Center and the Oldemeyer Center.
        In October 2014, I presented a talk to the Rotary Club on the BDS movement (the movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction Israel). One attendee later wrote: “The speaker put out extremely controversial ideas in a low-key manner that worked, setting the stage for a decent dialogue.”
        I have organized many events on a variety of issues (war, drones, Islamophobia, mass incarceration, immigration, white supremacy, nonviolence, etc.) at the peace center, MIIS, MPC and Monterey College of Law. I also organized a series of successful fundraising concerts which raised money for: humanitarian aid for children in Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq and Palestine; the Monterey Peace and Justice Center; State Senator Bill Monning’s re-election campaign, the Amnesty International chapter at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies and G.I. Josie, a local non-profit organization supporting local female veterans who have experienced post-traumatic stress disorder, military sexual trauma and domestic violence. These concerts featured me on piano, along with a host of local musicians, including Tammi Brown, Julie Capili, Lee Durley, Roger Eddy, Dennis Murphy, Janice Perl, Stu Reynolds, Kenny Stahl, Steve Uccello, Andy Weis and Dick Whittington.
        Within ten days of the November 2016 election, I began calling on local activists to come together to form an emergency coalition to defend human rights in this community and called for a campaign to make Salinas a sanctuary city. In the months following the election, I attended dozens of activist meetings and events around the community. I proposed a “four-point program” for local activist organizations to promote and for local elected officials to endorse. This program was based on input gathered from dozens of activists throughout the community. A revised version of the program was subsequently endorsed by several local officials, including State Senator Bill Monning, Supervisor Jane Parker, Mayor Bruce Delgado of Marina, and Timothy Barrett and Alan Haffa of the Monterey City Council. I also called for the development of one Facebook page and one website to serve as centralized communication portals for all the Left (or “progressive”) organizations in the county. This eventually led to the development of the Community Involvement Calendar, an online resource for progressive activists.
        Within the first few months after the November 2016 election, I was the lead organizer or co-organizer of at least a half dozen local demonstrations.
        Along with Nashwan Hamza, a local Muslim interfaith activist, I proposed the development of an Emergency Coalition to Defend Human Rights in Monterey County. On December 6, the Emergency Coalition organized the first post-election pro-sanctuary vigil at Salinas city hall.
        I assisted Sarah Ricks with organizing the November 20 March for Peace and Equality in Monterey. I served as MC at the rally and recruited the speakers, which included: Supervisor Jane Parker, Monterey City Council member Timothy Barrett, Vinz Koller from the Monterey County Democratic Party, Michelle Welsh of the ACLU, Nashwan Hamza from the local Muslim community, and Steve Rease from California Attorneys for Criminal Justice.
        I organized a series of community meetings, first at the Center for Change in Seaside and then at the Unity Church in Monterey, at which activists from a wide variety of organizations were encouraged to promote their activities and to collaborate, communicate, cooperate and coordinate with each other.
        Along with my colleague, Alisha Ragland, I organized the January 20 People’s Rally for Unity and Equality. I recruited the steering committee. Based on conversations with dozens of local activists, I wrote the mission statement for the rally, which was subsequently endorsed by over thirty local organizations, including:
        ACLU of Northern California – Monterey County Chapter
        Black Lives Matter – Seaside
        California Faculty Association – California State University
        Monterey Bay Civil Rights Coalition for Jail Reform – Monterey County
        Communities for Sustainable Monterey County
        Democratic Club of the Monterey Peninsula
        Democratic Women of Monterey County
        Families of Color – Monterey County
        Green Party of Monterey County
        Humanist Association of the Monterey Bay Area
        Indivisible Monterey County
        Monterey Bay Central Labor Council
        Monterey Bay Partisan
        Monterey County Democratic Central Committee
        Monterey County Nonviolent Action Committee
        Monterey County Rape Crisis Center
        Monterey Peace and Justice Center
        Monterey Peninsula Friends Meeting (Quakers)
        National Coalition Building Institute – Monterey County Chapter
        Occupy Monterey Peninsula
        Progressive Democrats of America – Monterey Area Chapter
        Protect Monterey County – Yes on Z
        Rainbow Speakers
        Save Our Peninsula Committee
        Sierra Club Ventana Chapter
        Sustainable Seaside
        Unitarian Universalist Church of the Monterey Peninsula – Social Justice Committee
        Unite Here – Local 483
        Unity of Monterey Bay
        Veterans for Peace – Chapter 46
        Wave Street Studios
        Whites for Racial Equity
        Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom – Monterey County Branch
        Timothy Barrett – Monterey City Council
        Alan Haffa – Monterey City Council
        Senator Bill Monning – Senate Majority Leader
        I served as MC at the rally and recruited the speakers. Here are videos of the speeches from that rally:
        Supervisor Mary Adams https://youtu.be/rx8GFk1nIcM
        Hector Azpilcueta (Local 483) https://youtu.be/cKf-AjEjj14
        Steven Goings (National Coalition Building Institute) https://youtu.be/eNWDhifBQO8
        Nashwan Hamza (Muslim interfaith activist) https://youtu.be/CF9C8o1tdkQ
        Andy Hsia- Coron (Measure Z) https://youtu.be/I4cvLcY3034
        Regina Mason (NAACP) https://youtu.be/oTFQi_jEjak
        State Senator Bill Monning https://youtu.be/D_G7OfQOsDc
        Supervisor Jane Parker… https://youtu.be/yblK8vWEPfs
        Alisha Ragland (Monterey County Nonviolent Action Committee) https://youtu.be/XZK9lzMwAUY
        Lupe Rodriguez (Planned Parenthood) https://youtu.be/HquXDRTIQ8c
        Michelle Welsh (ACLU) https://youtu.be/8iyNNpW3R8k
        Along with Ben Playfair, I organized the February 4 Rally Against Hate to protest Trump’s Islamophobic travel ban. I served as MC at the event, and recruited the speakers, including State Senator Bill Monning, Supervisor Jane Parker, Stephen Doolittle from MIIS, and several representatives from the local Muslim community. Judy Karas (Monterey Peace and Justice Center and Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom) described the Rally Against Hate as “probably the most inclusive, congenial, best-received and enjoyable demonstration” she’d ever attended on the peninsula.

        My colleagues and I organized the February 11 rally in support of Standing Rock in downtown Monterey.
        On May 2, along with Debbie Ramos and the Brown Berets, I organized a rally against ICE at Monterey County jail, in response to the detention of a local “dreamer.” See: http://www.kion546.com/news/rally-held-at-monterey-county-jail-after-teen-detained-by-ice/477320280. The young man was eventually released from custody and has not been deported. (I think his lawyers deserve the credit for this.)

        Here is a letter from the Board of Directors of the Monterey Peace and Justice Center, which I received after I announced my intention to step down as President.
        April 1, 2015
        It is with regret that we accept your resignation as President of the Monterey Peace and Justice Center as of May 17, 2015. During your more than three years as President, you have demonstrated your wholehearted commitment to the cause of peace and social justice for all human beings, and your unyielding opposition to all forms of discrimination based on race, religion, sex, national or ethnic origin, and disability.
        More than that, you have demonstrated your ability to effectively mobilize the peace community around actions that raised awareness of gross injustices on local and global fronts. Access to media is an essential element of a democracy, and your struggle to gain and ensure ongoing access to local media is a worthy pursuit, one that will only strengthen and amplify the voices calling for the change we envision.
        As MPJC President you served as an able and eloquent leader, using your exceptional qualities of character and intellect to educate the uninformed and misinformed. You planted the seeds of understanding amidst diverse and often contentious groups, subsequently winning understanding and support in several instances.
        We are particularly grateful to you for strengthening the board. By expanding the board with a more diverse group of people, we now enjoy a broader spectrum of thought and perspective.

        By initiating steps to formalize Michael’s employment, you put the principle of workers’ rights into practice.
        We also appreciate your successful fundraising efforts. The five jazz concert benefits you produced not only boosted MPJC’s financial position, but helped the organization reach wider and more diverse audiences and donors. Each of those concerts was a unifying celebration of peace and the arts, and each of us personally loved the excellent music performed by you and the “who’s who” of local jazz musicians you assembled at no expense to MPJC.
        We have benefited enormously from the good will you have cultivated among peace and justice activists and supporters in our community. Because of it, MPJC has sustained its reputation as a standard bearer for change, while furthering its mission with ongoing financial support.
        Your efforts to improve the effectiveness of the MPJC Board were evident and welcomed from the very start. When you stepped into the role of President in January 2012 you laid out a framework for board meetings, starting with the rule: “Begin and end meetings on time.” You enacted and maintained that rule in the interest of Board people with full time jobs and families. It is that kind of consideration and sensitivity that has informed your board leadership, and we in turn respect your desire to devote more time to your wife and other important concerns.
        We know your decision to leave was prompted by the same desire to serve the causes of peace and justice that initially led you to assume the MPJC leadership role. We will miss your guidance and your intellectual acumen, and we wish you all the best. We are grateful for your many contributions which have enabled us to grow and thrive as a catalyst for change.
        Best Wishes, The MPJC Board

        • Phillip Crawford November 14, 2017, 1:47 pm

          Giving credit where it is due: The steering committee for the Jan 20 rally was Hector Azpilcueta, Steven Goings, Gary Karnes, Elena Loomis, Natalia Molina, Alisha Ragland and myself. I apologize for the omission.

          • Phillip Crawford November 14, 2017, 2:12 pm

            Those seeking more information about my alleged “ego” and “divisiveness” can go here:
            https://www.facebook.com/notes/phillip-crawford/about-me/10154901683212301/

          • Helga Fellay November 15, 2017, 3:48 pm

            Phillip, I was going to be noble and use extraordinary restraint, and I wasn’t going to respond, although I could say plenty. But your final comment (below) did me in. When you say “Those seeking more information about my alleged “ego” and “divisiveness” can go here:” Phillip, at this point NOBODY could possibly be seeking more information about your ego and divisiveness . I am certain of it. In this post, you have supplied EVERYBODY, including those who may not even know you, but still be reading this Partisan post, know everything they could ever want to know, about your EGO and divisiveness. No additional links are necessary. You have proven your point. It’s crystal clear, even to the slowest among us got it, really got it.

    • Phillip Crawford November 15, 2017, 6:53 pm

      This doesn’t make sense. You say I’ve been one for years. One what?

      • Phillip Crawford November 16, 2017, 12:37 pm

        Sorry. That was directed to George Riley.

      • Helga Fellay November 16, 2017, 12:57 pm

        I think I may be able to answer for George. Just re-read his first paragraph. He is referring to divisive, which you have been for years, as all of us who have attempted to work with you in the past can attest. In addition, he may also be referring to “one of the more active assassins in the circle shooting at themselves.” That would also be true.

        • Phillip Crawford November 16, 2017, 1:17 pm

          Thanks for the clarification. Always a pleasure hearing from you.

  • Ron Chesshire November 10, 2017, 1:53 pm

    Phil, the observation below by you is indicative of several attempts over the years by us in Labor (The Building Trades) to try and work with others. I have seen this attitude many times.

    “Unfortunately, it soon became apparent that most of the leadership of the various groups had little or no interest in this endeavor. While some paid lip service to the idea of coalition building, most of these (mostly self-appointed) leaders were more interested in promoting their own agendas and protecting their own turf and status as big fish in small ponds. One of the local progressive leaders went so far as to tell a group of about 200 activists that it wasn’t important for different groups to try to work together”.

    Some have tasted a “win” on the health care issue and dropped out and others are waiting for another spark to start the fire. Maybe the Russia connection? Elections always bring a new enthusiasm among the troops. Unfortunately in most cases that renewed energy quickly dissipates if the concern is not of overwhelming significance. In this case I don’t believe we have reached the fervor generated by the Vietnam War. I am 66 and that is the only time in my life where many Americans left their egos at the door and got together to really do something. We are a funny people and don’t usually react until we reach the crisis point. But once you punch our button, look out. I guess we’ll just have to stand back and wait to see who steps forward?

    • Ron Chesshire November 10, 2017, 1:53 pm

      BTW – I love the drawing, how appropriate.

      • SUSAN MEISTER November 10, 2017, 5:19 pm

        It’s hard for me to disagree about Mr. Crawford’s comments about the Democratic party, whether in Monterey or on the national level. But I have to disagree with his comments about the Indivisible movement and how it has unfolded here. First, he seems to equate energy and efficacy with demonstrations, the number of them and the number who attend them. Much of the work of the Indivisibles in Monterey County has been to write letters and make calls either to our representatives — who for the most part do the right thing — or to encourage those who live in Red districts to call their representatives. A lot of effort goes into these campaigns, not visible to the outside world as a whole, but very effective, as can be seen with the healthcare bill (and now hopefully with the tax bill). Further, many local Indivisible members have volunteered to do phone banking in Virginia and New Jersey and will do the same in parts of California where we’re hoping to dump the more hopeless Republicans, if not all of them. It’s not easy to keep up energy when you live in a Blue district in a Blue state, so some are volunteering for SwingLeft, an organization dedicated to turning Red districts Blue, or keeping them Blue. This requires cooperation with others who live in those districts and a fair amount of travel. As for Mr Crawford’s comments about the so-called leaders of the Progressive movement here, I cannot disagree with him. However, if he longs for a rising up on the scale seen last in the Viet Nam war days, I’m afraid he’s going to have to wait for Trump to start a war with North Korea, or try somehow to thwart the Russian investigation, Watergate style, or a Supreme Court reversal of Roe v. Wade. Until then, a lot of people unseen to Mr Crawford will be spending a lot of their time fighting for just the things he wants. They are not members of defunct organizations: they’re just not out fighting on the streets.

  • david fairhurst November 11, 2017, 2:08 am

    Again, these “resistance” and “impeach” movements seem to have been built upon lies told of and the abject hate of Donald Trump. I wonder if it is feed by the bitterness that Hillary (and the DNC) lost and not in power. Trump is not the problem and in fact considering the vicious political climate a lot of people think he is doing a very good job, far better than Obama did. Why aren’t the opinions of Trump supporters respected or considered valid?
    More and more we learn about the real scandals and continued obstruction of truth by the DNC and their operatives but it is quickly covered and hidden by more meaningless media dung thrown at the President. The current Democrat Party uses it minions, dupes and what Lenin/Maoists would call “useful idiots” to do their work in the defamation and destruction of opposition (including those from within their own ranks).
    What happened to all the “tolerance” and “co-exist” bumper stickers? Have they all become “F*#k Trump” banners? I see that antagonistic people continue to think the only success is in destroying their “Republican” adversaries, and then what? A new year zero (replacing the historical statues of Taney, Johnson, Lee with ones of Colin Kapernick), lock stepping us forward to a one party rule, just like every totalitarian State begins.
    The “Left” and the “Resistance” constantly screams about FOX being “Right wing” (they aren’t, maybe establishment Republican) but is CBS, ABC, NBC, CNN, PBS less biased toward their own “Left wing” agendas? Today newspapers print slander, smears, false accusations and destroy people for politics as directed by those in power and care not for the true facts or solutions.
    A lasting real movement takes more than espousing Hate, insults, bitterness, profanities and vile. It is more than just wearing rainbow berets and pink pussy knit caps. It must have honest, honorable, hard working people with principals dedicated to it’s cause. It must remain pure to it’s core beliefs and goals. It must retain truth and loyalty to it’s followers to remain valid and cohesive. Merely being “Anti” is not constructive, a “movement” or a help and eventually is exposed as an obstruction or hindrance and the waste of “what could have been”.

  • Alice November 11, 2017, 10:18 am

    The demise was totally predictable given that many of the participants have their own litmus test for what constitutes ‘right thinking’ – any deviation from the list results in exclusion and contempt for the person with a differing thought. It boils down to ‘if you don’t agree with me on every single issue, you are wrong and nothing you say merits consideration’. The purity of thought concept rules out compromise and working for a common goal because it rules out all the required ingredients of democracy.

  • bill leone November 12, 2017, 8:37 pm

    Politics is not an activity for shrinking violets. If you are horrified by disunity & dialectic discourse, you might as well stay home & lick your wounds. Moreover, if anyone has not noticed the drastic changes in local politics, such as the defeat of Monstrosity Downs, as well as local ground-breaking political victories, such as the passage of Measure Z….they are just Not paying attention. Furthermore, if you are looking for unquestioning political unity you might consider joining the American Nazi Party, register as a Republican, or move to North Korea. I am proud to say, the groups I participate in (the Democratic Party, the NAACP, Veterans For Peace, Public Water Now…to mention a few) welcome debate, differences, & discourse, those are the tools of democracy (small d).
    What’s on Your Agenda!?

    • Phillip Crawford November 15, 2017, 12:10 am

      Never before has anyone described me as a shrinking violet. I have now officially heard everything. Are you suggesting that acceptable “dialectic discourse” includes calling other activists “narcissists” with “no brains, no heart and no balls” or telling them (as Phil Butler told me) to stop “whining” and “act like a man”?

  • david fairhurst November 13, 2017, 11:11 am

    Bill, you and I respectfully disagree on many issues.
    However on things such as “Monstrosity” Downs, Mary Adams (5th district supervisor) and Jane Parker too, even if I disagree with some of their agendas, the Cal Am “Water” and PUD debacle, the wonderful things you do for the Veteran community and other local issues are proof that people of different political beliefs can work together on many local and common beneficial causes. I just feel that when we get too wrapped up on “Political Party Doctrine” that we then fail to objectively listen to what those other opinions may be and freely make up our own minds.

  • bill leone November 13, 2017, 11:38 am

    David, What you just wrote is The most cogent, intelligent, thoughtful comment you have Ever written. And, I totally agree with you on That specific point. I also believe political ideology, like religious doctrine, can interfere with personal communication, our ability to resolve differences & solve problems. Therefore, I strongly suggest we try to focus on immediate problems at hand, that are local, clearly defined, & have a substantive effect on the quality of our lives. I suspect if you & I can clearly define & solve a social, economic or political problems, we will be able to lay the groundwork & serve as a model for other folks in our community who are genuinely & honestly searching for solutions to long-standing issues, which can be resolved, if, & only if, we can learn to just Listen to each other.
    Sincerely, bill leone
    PS: Thanks for contributing to my campaign as a Progressive Candidate to the Monterey Democratic Central Committee. Much to my surprise, I won!

  • Luana M Conley November 13, 2017, 11:39 am

    I couldn’t agree more, and am able to divorce the essay from the personality of the essayist, which is irrelevant. The dynamics exposed in this piece are real, and any experienced local campaigner wondering where the volunteers went really needs to examine themselves, because this: “When I did ask a few questions about strategy and tactics, I was verbally bludgeoned into submission,” happens, and this drives people away. When you come into a room having decided amongst your executive clique on the right course without consulting those you’re trying to help, the helpers dissipate. We are saturated with over-confident do-gooders who are determined to do what’s best for everyone else without asking first.

    INDIVISIBLE was founded by former D.C. Democratic staffers. Their recipe for action was coordinated letters, petitions, emails, and phone calls to elected officials.

    Many, if not most, voters know in their bones that the political class couldn’t care less about their concerns, and those few who do are impotent and overwhelmed in the face of the monied interests.

    Many, if not most, constituents have learned the hard way that their passionate and well-researched fact-filled letters, petitions, emails, and phone calls fall on deliberately deaf ears, and that the times require something more. Standing around with picket signs isn’t it.

    Most folks can tell when they walk in a room when decisions have been made FOR them, not WITH them, and will drift out – because that is the cause of the problem in the first place.

    INDIVISIBLE was founded in partisanship and died of partisanship. This is not a RED or BLUE problem. It’s the People of the Earth against the global capitalists and oligarchs who are more powerful than most countries, and possess 90% of the wealth of the world. It’s far bigger than simply being anti-Trump.

    It is extremely irritating to be asked to “include constructive suggestions” to fix the world when one complains or comments about the state of affairs. Our problems are partly due to atomization, and will require long and localized face-to-face working together if we are to survive as a species, not a one-sized-fits-all blueprint.

    • Phillip Crawford November 15, 2017, 6:15 pm

      Well said, Luana. George Riley seems to think that (a) Everything is going great and the Left is growing by leaps and bounds, (b) The Democratic Party is great (a strange position for a Green), and (c) I’m a jerk. Helga Fellay’s position can be boiled down to: I’m a jerk. You understand that me being a jerk is irrelevant.
      Whether people wish to acknowledge it or haven’t personally experienced it, the local activist community has an abundance of people who cannot Work with people who have opinions different from theirs or about whom they don’t have warm fuzzy feelings. Self-righteous intolerance is amazingly common and an ability to work with those holding different views distressingly rare.
      Your comment points to another problem, about which I was perhaps unrealistically optimistic. For lack of better terminology, I would make a distinction between the Liberal idea that Trump is the problem (and the Democrats are the solution) and the Leftist idea that Trump is a symptom of systemic problems. A year ago, I thought that Liberals and Leftists could forge a coalition. I now think I was being naive. That leads me to another problem: All the activist organizations in this community appear to be run by Liberals. What’s a Leftist to do?

  • bill leone November 15, 2017, 3:04 pm

    Mr Crawford,
    Since your comment was a question directed at me, I will be more than happy to answer.
    First of all, my statement was: “Politics is not an activity for shrinking violets.” Not, “You are a shrinking violet, Mr. Crawford.” I suspect a bit of over-sensitivity in your reaction.
    Secondly, verbal abuse, or any other kind of abuse should not be tolerated by anyone under any circumstances. Therefore, I suggest when you feel you are being abused you will find it in yourself to tell the abuser to buzz-off in whatever colorful language you can muster.
    Thirdly, I suggest you keep in mind, if you are truly working on behalf of Progressive Causes, the folks we are mobilizing For are the tired, the hungry, the poor, people of color, women, members of the LGBTQ community, the homeless, & many others who suffer under an unjust, oppressive, drastically unequal, racist system. And, after all is said & done, They are the ones who are feeling the most pain. Therefore, until we experience something like the Billy Clubs of Bull Conner in Birmingham, we have a moral obligation to continue to fight for Peace & Justice.

  • Phillip Crawford November 15, 2017, 4:13 pm

    Helga: How nice to hear from you. I’d wondered where you’d been.

  • Phillip Crawford November 19, 2017, 3:44 pm

    To George Riley: I’m disappointed by your response.

    You were not a member of the board of MPJC when I was on the board. And you played very little (if any) role in the many demonstrations that took place locally between November 2016 and March 2017. In fact, in the past couple of years, I’ve only seen you a couple of times and we have exchanged about a dozen words. So, it seems to me that you have absolutely no basis for your personal attacks about my ego and divisiveness. My record as an activist and the positive comments from activists with whom I’ve worked contradict your harsh judgments of me.

    You’ve failed to present any examples of specific instances in which my ego got in my way or in which I was divisive. The likely explanation for this is that you don’t know of any.

    You say that I’ve been divisive for a long time. Why, then, is this the first time I’ve heard this from you? If you had legitimate concerns about my behavior for a long time, wouldn’t it have been the responsible thing to do to bring those concerns to my attention directly a long time ago, instead of insulting me on the internet now? I really expected better from you.

    Your comments are typical of what I’ve come to expect from the Old Guard of the local peace and justice movement. You don’t like the message so you attack the messenger. Instead of taking in the criticism and seeing an opportunity for improvement, you avoid the content of my critique and focus instead on my alleged character flaws. The local peace and justice movement acts like a large dysfunctional family in which anyone who calls attention to the dysfunction is subjected to verbal abuse and ostracized.

    You claim that the groups I criticize “have a stellar record of reaching out to others and the broader community.” This is laughably absurd. The leaders of MCDCC, MPJC, PCMC, WILPF and Veterans for Peace are predominantly white English speakers over the age of 50 in a county in which half the population is Mexican-American and the median age is 35. I am in my 50s, and I am usually one of the youngest people present at events organized by these groups. In your zeal to shield these organizations from any honest criticism, you have taken liberties with the truth. By the way, the board of MPJC was actually more diverse when I was president of the board, despite my divisiveness and ego.

    You bring up Measure Z, which is irrelevant, since it was passed in November 2016 and my essay had to do with what’s happened to local activism since the November election. I should mention, though, that a spokesperson from the Measure Z campaign spoke at the January 20 rally at my invitation. So I was neither unaware of nor unsupportive of that effort.

    To Helga Fellay: Don’t ever change.

    To Ron Chesshire and Alice: Thank you for validating my perspective about the dogmatism, intolerance and self-serving attitudes of many progressive activists. It sounds like you’ve experienced your fair share of this unpleasantness.

    To Susan Meister: Thank you for expressing yourself without resorting to insults.

    A couple of things stand out in your comments. One is that you seem to be tacitly acknowledging that Indivisible is a partisan project of and for Democrats. When it first surfaced in this community, it was presented as a nonpartisan effort. When I questioned whether that was the case, I was criticized harshly.

    I also asked many months ago whether the Indivisible strategy of “three people – four tactics” (the three people being our two Senators and one Congressman) really made a lot of sense in a community where those three people are all Democrats who generally vote the way progressives want them to. And I questioned whether it made sense to create a dozen new local organizations for the sole purpose of implementing these four tactics. If these tactics are useful, I asked, why not join an existing local organization and suggest that it implement these tactics? These questions received angry responses and accusations of being divisive.

    Now it seems that many local Indivisible activists have reached the conclusion that the “three people – four tactics” strategy doesn’t really make sense in this community and have decided to engage in a new, but also distinctly partisan, project while continuing to identify themselves as part of an Indivisible group. I won’t hold my breath waiting for any of them to apologize for taking my head off when I raised this issue nine months ago.

    Based on my experiences since the election of the Clockwork Orangutan, I have developed a profound distrust of Democratic Party activists. For a more detailed account of these experiences, see: http://www.mocoleft.org/2017/10/what-happened-to-local-resistance.html

    In retrospect, I made at least two strategic errors as an activist in the first months after the election. My first mistake was to invest so much energy into attempting to work with the Democrats and to trust them when they went on and on about their interest in building an effective, broad-based and inclusive progressive local coalition. And I continued to invest that energy even after these Democrats began channeling activists into Indivisible and away from this developing coalition.

    My second strategic blunder was to focus all of my energy on movement building and on promoting the activities of organizations other than my own, the Monterey County Nonviolent Action Committee. I spent almost no time building my organization or recruiting people to join it because all of my time was devoted to encouraging various local organizations to collaborate and communicate and encouraging people to support the activities of organizations other than my own (including Indivisible). As a consequence, when I decided to step away from local activism, my organization collapsed. (Oh, if only my ego and divisiveness hadn’t gotten in the way.)

    I simply do not believe that putting energy into the Democratic Party is a wise choice for anyone who wants a more just and peaceful world. I genuinely believe that the Democratic Party diverts valuable energy away from the radical transformation of society that is necessary if we are to survive as a society and as a species.

    I realize you don’t believe that. Since you’ve been civil about expressing your views, all I can say is: I won’t be joining your effort, but I wish you well.

    To David Fairhurst: The reason the views of Trump supporters aren’t respected is because they are almost invariably wrong. Furthermore, there is little doubt that the main reason people support Trump is that he is a bigoted, racist ignoramus. Trump’s basic message is: “I’m the alpha male of the white people.”

    See: https://theintercept.com/2017/04/06/top-democrats-are-wrong-trump-supporters-were-more-motivated-by-racism-than-economic-issues/

    At this point, it is hard to imagine that anyone supports the bloviating, bigoted billionaire who doesn’t share his racist views. I don’t respect racist views and can see no reason why I should pretend I do.

    To Luana M Conley: I agree with almost everything you say. But I have not forgotten that you were among the chorus who denounced me when I called attention to the malicious gossip and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories promulgated by some of our leading peace activists.

    To Bill Leone: You seem like a pleasant enough chap. You are fortunate not to have experienced the dogmatism, intolerance, gossip and insults to which I and some other activists have been subjected. But, just because you haven’t had these experiences personally, please don’t make light of the impact these experiences have had on others. I am not exactly thin-skinned. I’ve been an activist for almost 40 years. In my younger days, I was pepper-sprayed by cops while protesting and arrested for civil disobedience six times in three states. And I am telling you that my experiences as an activist in Monterey County have been so negative that I decided it was necessary for my emotional health to disengage completely from any local activism. The fact that a dedicated and effective (at least somewhat) activist has been alienated completely from the local activist community should cause you some concern.

  • Phillip Crawford November 20, 2017, 6:20 am

    More the most part, the responses to my article simply confirmed what I already believed. My essay was based on own experiences, not gossip or speculation about meetings or events at which I was not present. George Riley, a member of the Old Guard who, to the best of my recollection, was not present for any of the events to which I referred, responded with personal attacks, irrelevant assertions and statements which are simply false. Susan Meister, who was far more civil and articulate than Mr. Riley, essentially confirmed that my initial apprehension about Indivisible was well-founded. I feared that Indivisible would divide, weaken and demobilize the nascent broadbased and diverse coalition which was developing and that the Indivisible Guide was not an effective strategy. When I raised these concerns, I was harshly criticized by some local Dems, and blown off by Alan Haffa, Gary Karnes, Elena Loomis and Tyyler Williamson. Well, this seems like as good a time as ever to say: “I told you so.”
    The blatant anti-Semitism purveyed by MPJC continues to be ignored. In September 2016, MPJC hosted an event devoted to the ideas of Christopher Bollyn, who blames Jewish-controlled media for pushing a foreign and anti-Christian culture of perversion, pornography and violence. See: http://www.bollyn.com/the-architecture-of-terror-mapping-the-network-behind-9-11
    In an email exchange the other day, Alan Haffa of MCDCC dismissed the dissemination of this type of anti-Semitic garbage by local peace activists as a personal issue involving other groups and one for which he didn’t have time.
    But my favorite response to my concerns came from Phil Butler of Veterans for Peace and a senior member of the Old Guard who, in an email yesterday, said: “You are a little gnat flying around my face Phillip. Shoo!” I didn’t think it was possible, but he managed to top his previous demand that I stop whining and “act like a man!” Phil, do you write your own material?

    • Phillip Crawford November 20, 2017, 12:04 pm

      Correction: The event with Bollyn was in September 2017, not 2016.

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