Wednesday, December 5, 2007

A Season of Holiday Hate

Given the confluence of a recent grossly uninformed Seattle Times "Squatters, Be Gone" editorial, Nicole Brodeur’s recent revelations that the homeless are to be hated and feared, and yet another alarmist op-ed regarding the extremely sudden scourge of armed homeless drug addicts, C.R. Douglas’ very Seattle Crosscut piece asking whether it might be time to crack down, and the tasteless yuck fest at the expense of those who don’t have shit that appeared issue before last in the Seattle Weekly, I’m beginning to wonder whether the holiday season has been rededicated to hating the homeless? Hey Seattle, let’s start a new tradition!

When Real Change moved the Mayor’s official-but-lets-preserve-deniability policy of homeless sweeps to front and center by surfacing hard proof through our FOIA requests, we knew that we ran the risk of creating a backlash. The Mayor’s office, along with the top parks and human service honchos on city payroll, has responded with a lying disinformation campaign that is based in the denial of plain facts and the tight control of information.

Meanwhile, the smear campaign is on. In a city where the shelters turn people away every night, those who survive outside are being depicted as subhuman, diseased criminals. Alongside this, the phony compassion rhetoric wilts to slime like two month-old lettuce.

Pushback begets pushback. Week after next, homeless people are going to see who their friends are. Details on Monday.


donna said...

don't leave me hangin' like that!

Sally said...

Donna: If your last name is Pierce, I used a phrase of yours ("economic cleansings") in a letter which will undoubtedly NOT be published in the Seattle Times. Great phrase!

Editor: The title of your editorial, “Squatters, be gone” (Seattle Times, 12-6-07), says it all. You and the City of Seattle apparently want homeless people (some of who are “squatting” on otherwise unused public land) to be gone. Just gone. Gone as in out of sight, gone so that we don’t have to remember that these camps didn’t exist 30 years ago, gone so that we don’t have to think about the fact that WE—the housed—can do what we want in our houses: smoke, drink, have a dog, sleep all morning in actual beds, and use actual toilets instead of “impromptu chamber pots”. Gone so that it doesn’t occur to those of us who are comfortable with today’s economy that there are consequences to our increased personal wealth, and that the very economy which makes our wealth possible may also be creating these new Hoovervilles.

There are indisputable facts in this situation, many of which the City denies. Among those facts: 1) There are not enough shelter beds for those in need; 2) the City has posted notices in the greenbelt with a defunct phone number of a defunct City department to call for help; 3) the City is not merely responding to neighbors’ complaints but instead proactively destroying homeless peoples’ only possessions, including family photos.

Does this sound like Seattle is practicing “compassionate liberalism?” It sounds to me more like economic cleansing. That description was used by a citizen testifying at a recent City hearing concerning condos replacing low-income housing. It’s appropriate here, and it’s certainly not something I want my city to practice on my behalf.

donna said...

sally, be my guest. i'm trying to find your email address to send you something. Hope I've got the right address...

Doug McK. said...

It seems that by the volume of letters that are put up today, the Times heard from more than just a few of us.

This is encouraging. That editorial left such a bad taste in my mouth yesterday that I could not even talk about it.

Bill said...

I think it appropriate to be after the City of Seattle, and its colleague in crime, the Seattle Times. I'm taking my aim at the Editorial Board. I sent the Times a long piece that's less fierce than they deserve but calls them on their exclusionary and exclusive vision of Seattle. I think it is time (sic) they either put up and become allies in ending homelessness or we begin the boycott of the Seattle Times.

Anonymous said...

I went to Catholic School and was told a story of a man and a pregnant woman who wander in the night looking for a safe place to stay. They had no money and were not welcome at the typical places people find shelter. Having no alternative they stayed outdoors on someone else’s land. There the woman gave birth and people brought the couple gifts.

That is a nice story.

Here is the Seattle version. A man and a pregnant woman come into town without any money. They want to stay together but can’t afford a hotel and can’t find a shelter that has space and will allow them to stay together. Unwilling to separate, they huddle in a park. That is until the police tell them they need to move and a work crew comes in to throw away their blankets.

Merry Christmas

Sally said...

Here's a Hanukkah story:

In the 2nd century BCE, the Syrian Greeks, latest in a long line of invaders to occupy Jerusalem and environs, decide to force the Jews to worship Antiochus as a god, invade the Temple, and extinguish the ner tamid, the eternal light. That finally pisses the Jews off enough that they gather an army and throw the bastards out; then they find some oil and relight the Temple.

Modern-day variant:

In the 21st century, an invading army of developers, condo owners, and Seattle city administrators, led by the Mayor, occupy the city and extinguish the right for homeless Seattleites to be anywhere where they can be readily seen by those above 80% of median income. Seattle citizens who still have working hearts finally get pissed off enough to gather an army and throw the bastards out; then they open up City Hall for use by homeless Seattleites.

Just an idea...

"Uta" Urban said...

Holy Cow, Sally, that was great!

(Must - keep - lamp - lit . . .)