The Thunderbolt 151217 The Problem With White People

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The Thunderbolt

News — Commentary — Calendar of Activist Events — Dumb Jokes




1) FYI Section:

1A) I-735 Getting Close to Goal! Signature Gatherers Needed!

1B) #BlackActionNews Signal Boost

1C) Films at Olympia Film Society

2) 40th Annual Holiday Peace Vigil

3) Driscoll’s Berry Boycott Info Picket

4) Bonus Tip of the Day


A detailed description of all events is located after the News and Commentary section

To go directly to an event description just type the index entry above into a search box




The Trouble With White People




Precisely Targeted Thunderbolts


Hey Kids!


I’ve been hurling lots of Thunderbolts at Saudi Arabia lately.


They deserve much more than that — but I’m doing what I can, okay?


Anyway, Saudi Arabia is being nasty again! Surprise, surprise!


According to Antonia Juhasz, one of the countries that are leading the prodigious efforts to water down and make ineffective any agreement that comes out of the COP Conference in Paris is…


[Fanfare, trumpets blaring, drummers drumming, etc.]:


SAUDI ARABIA! The Beheading Capitol of the World!






Incorrect Correctness


This segment was inspired by something I learned at the latest Media Island brunch with the Friends Ugandan Safe Transport, a local organization that helps people with ‘alternative’ sexual identities to escape from Uganda where they are brutally and often fatally oppressed…


But first I want to set this up with the train of thought that was inspired by what I learned at the brunch: Last week I made a joke at the expense of some practitioners of a Middle Ages trade known as pétardiers. These were men who, during assaults upon fortified military positions, would place an incredibly dangerous explosive device known as a pétard upon the gates or walls of a fortress in an attempt to blow a hole in the fortifications. When the pétard prematurely detonated — which evidently they were very wont to do — the pétardier would be blown into the air — and thus the phrase “hoisted by his own pétard became popular — especially after Shakespeare utilized the phrase in Hamlet.


As part of the joke I associated their trade with the fact that the word ‘pétard’ originally derived from an ancient Greek word for ‘the expulsion of intestinal gas’.


The aforementioned train of thought proceeded thusly: I got to wondering if I could be considered guilty of dehumanizing pétardiers with my joke. Since unlike some people I tend to try to answer uncomfortable questions that I ask of myself, this lead me to the realization that the mere fact the phrase “hoisted by their own pétard” became so popular indicates that the dangers involved with practicing the art of the pétardier were widely known — meaning that unless they were performing the task under duress (as was surely the case in at least some cases) otherwise this means that these pétardiers could very likely have been very brave and selfless people who were willing to risk their all in order to advance a cause greater than their own.


I’m also pretty sure that these admirable human beings would very likely fail to appreciate my joke had they ever had the opportunity to read it.


Therefore, while I don’t think I’ll apologize to people many centuries dead or to their descendants (if any of their descendants are even aware of the fact that they had a hoisted pétardier in their woodpile) I do think that I will mitigate the dehumanizing factor a bit by explaining that pétardiers were very likely very admirable and very brave human beings.



As for the Friends Ugandan Safe Transport — the thing I learned at the brunch was that their organization had been originally named the Friends Ugandan Underground Railroad. I forget the details (which are largely irrelevant to the point I am about to make anyway) but some organization objected to the Friends calling their organization the Underground Railroad — so the Friends changed the name of their organization.


I didn’t say anything at the time — but I thought this was a bit too much ‘correctness’. The term ‘Underground Railroad’ (Google it if you’re not already familiar with it) has become a metaphor for helping people escape persecution — one of the most honourable activities it is possible to engage in — and objecting to the Friends using the term to describe what they are doing carries the implication that there is something less than honourable about what they are doing.


The Friends are noted mostly for their desire for peace on Earth so their instinctive reaction is to avoid friction with others — especially with their allies — and thus they changed the name of their organization without much if any pushback.



All I’ve got to say is that they are lucky this decision wasn’t left to me because I’m pretty sure that I would not have backed down on that one quite so easily…




The Trouble with White People


One thing that I love about white people is that I can say things about them that I couldn’t possibly get away with saying about any other race.


Speaking of white people: Think of those few famous movies wherein the protagonist[s] were non-white people while the bad guys were white people. (Think Dances With Wolves and Django.) Or, think of a famous movie where the protagonists were 10-foot tall blue aliens while the bad guys were earthling white people.


In every one of these movies the actual protagonist usually turns out to be a white person who took common cause with the non-white people (or with the blue aliens, as the case may be). Django is something of an exception — but even Django needed a white man to enable him…


This would seem to indicate that white people have trouble granting credibility to and/or relating to and/or bonding with non-white people. In order to understand non-white people, white people seem to need other white people to tell them about it or they don’t give the intelligence any credibility and they just can’t seem to properly bond with the non-white character.


I suspect this is somewhat true of all races to one extent or another — but I also suspect that that aforementioned extent extends quite a bit further with white people than with any other race.


I also suspect that this paradigm is exacerbated by the fact that most white people have no need and no interest in learning about non-white people.


On the other hand, the very survival of non-white people often depends upon their knowing everything about white people.


Their education about white people is helped by the fact that anywhere in the developed world white culture usually permeates every nook and cranny of everyone’s lives and existences.



I very famously publically admitted last week that I am a white man myself. I pointed out that I am living proof that some white people can at least somewhat resemble a normal human being.


As a white man, I once literally told a US Customs agent who was trying to blackmail me that he could take his paperwork and shove it up his ass and that I had no intention of giving him so much as the time of day. Then I turned my back to him and stood silently for the two or three minutes that it took for a jail guard to come and let me out of the visiting room into which both the cop and I were locked.


While I did this knowing full well that doing so was going to cost me several years in prison — the thought that this cop might beat me up or shoot me for saying and doing what I said and did frankly never even crossed my mind.


I am not only a privileged white man, but I am a very smart one and a rather large one who knows how to take care of himself. I have always tended to very aggressively get into life’s face. Fear played very little role in my reality.


While someone like me can have a thorough academic understanding of oppression and how it works (and I at least like to think that I do) and while I can have a comprehensive education about the effects that oppression has upon the victims — while I can know about all that — at the same time it is utterly impossible for someone like me to have even the smallest understanding of what experiencing everyday life and everyday reality is like for an oppressed person because I’ve simply never been there.



I guess that would come under the Rumsfeldian maxim of something that I know that I don’t know.



At least I know that I don’t know. A lot of white people think they know things that they actually don’t know at all. Mr. Rumsfeld’s litany about knowing what we know and not knowing what we don’t know never mentioned another category that I just though of, in fact: Things that you know that you know that are actually completely wrong.



It is often the case, I surmise, that most white people aren’t so much evil as just plain ignorant.






Short calendar this week. Short Thunderbolt this week.


Tis the holiday season. Take a break.



If you just can’t do that — there are two events on the calendar this week…




So it’s time to get to work…




The Thunderbolt Calendar

Week of December 17th thru December 23rd, 2015





1) FYI Section:


1A) I-735 Getting Close to Goal! Signature Gatherers Needed!


This message came from Gabe:


WAmend volunteers had a great week! They have now gathered just under 210,000 signatures to get Initiative 735 on the 2016 ballot! We have reports that Fix Democracy First for I-735 has also received an additional 7,600 through paid signature gatherers! That means that I-735 is 30,000 signatures away from the minimum needed to file and a little over 100,000 short of our goal of 320,000 by the end of the year!


Many people like you have made a difference in this quest to overturn Citizens United. It looks like we can expect clear skies through the weekend so where do you plan to fill your petition? The campaign has people working in all corners of Washington and you can click here to find where to join them in your area.


Please Sign Up to Volunteer if you haven’t already.


Your help is essential as we are relying on individual volunteers like you to collect 80-90% of the remaining signatures. We can do this!


Let’s dig deep and keep up the energy in the final weeks! What is your goal to make sure I-735 qualifies?! Do you have enough petitions to get your friends and family to sign over Thanksgiving? Know the perfect location to gather on Black Friday?


Sing up here to volunteer and help the ongoing effort. WAmend will send you one or more petitions for your friends, family, colleagues, and other Washington voters to sign. We can also connect you with seasoned signature gatherer who work the best spots for success. Campaign staff have identified places that are protected when it rains and have high foot traffic when it’s dry.


Please don’t hesitate to call WAmend’s office at 206-547-9961 with questions or to volunteer.


Please make a donation.

The campaign is “all-in” to reach our goal of 320,000 signatures by the end of the year. Exactly 1,100 people have now given to the effort! Donate here and show your support. WAmend needs to raise $5,728 this month to stay on track.


Please give today!


With your help, Washington State will declare that corporations are not people, money is not speech, and all political donations should be regulated and made public. With your help, Washington can become the 17th state to demand that Congress overturns the Citizens United decision.


Please join us! Together, we can get there!


The I-735 Team

Tom Elliot
Field Canvass Organizer

Tiffani McCoy

State Field Organizer


Gabe Meyer

Campaign Director


Pat Stell
Strategic Partnerships Coordinator

Theresa Turner
Phone Bank Supervisor

Steve Zemke

State Field Director


WAmend / I-735




1B) #BlackActionNews Signal Boost

This is a new news network for black people. I got this from Leslie:


Black Action News is in its vital stages right now. As our team continues to organize, we are finding ourselves in more and more need of support. We are looking for all kinds of support from blactivists, revolutionaries, and allies of the struggle. We are in need of finances, supplies, and activists to work with us at the launch of this project on 01/01/2016. We are only at $805 right now, and we need to get to at least $7,250 by the end of December.


Support can be received 6 ways:

– GoFundMe:

– PayPal:

– Google Wallet:

– Money Gram: reply for details

– Donations of supplies: reply for details

– TREND on social media!: Use the hashtag #BlackActionNews and share our campaign on social media.


We are accepting donations of wood, nails, screws, video/web cameras, laptops, phones, cardboard, paint, and glass bottles.



I got this from their Go Fund Me website:


Lights, camera,  BLACKTION!


By black minds—for black voices, Black Action News is a resource for conscious minds to receive honest and legitimate news about what’s going on in the forefront.


In support of the struggle, we need to report our own news, for and by our own people. We must reach one another with real news—as well as strengethen the solidarity within our community. We need a news source we can trust, that will replace CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, and ABC News! As most of us know, we don’t have that yet!


We need reliable media to report our stories without thinly veiled racism and bias.


Black Action News also exists as a way to employ Black activists, in order to help keep them financially stable, and to offer them a welcoming work environment. We realize we are at war for ideas—and therefore, liberation. Imperialist media has the monopoly on distributing the ideas and narratives that are popular today.


With the majority of today’s people being consumed by their media, we must expose them to a narrative that is by us, and for us.


By creating an independent news source, not only do we get news that caters to us, but  we’ll create black revenue as well! Just like The Young Turks, AK Press, or the HuffPo have their audience, we need that which supports our community as opposed to that which dehumanizes us.


  • Website
  • FaceBook
  • Twitter
  • Vimeo




1C) Films at Olympia Film Society

I normally put these in the main calendar section but I got this at the last minute after I had alrady finalized this week’s newsletter and I don’t feel like taking the pain in the ass of rearranging the whole calendar to fit it in — so here it is.


Here are two items for your show.calandar


1) starts Friday at OFS a film by an Iranian filmmaker that has a lifetime  ban on making films…but keeps finding creative ways of doing it, like this one, he’s just driving a taxi with the camera on..opps!  The film is called Jafar Panah’s Taxi


Here’s a blurb about him & his film making. This won the Golden Bear Award in Germany & many other awards. Unfortunately the screening dates at OFS are right in the midst of the holidaze flurry & a mention of the film would be great to counter act all this be afraid of people from the Middle East going on.



Can a filmmaker under house arrest make any more defiant a gesture than by directing a bonafide road movie? Such is the question implicitly posed by “Taxi,” the third surreptitious film a clef directed by Iran’s Jafar Panahi since his 2010 conviction on charges of conspiring to create anti-Islamic propaganda. For an exceptionally lithe, inventive 80 minutes (staged in simulated real time), Panahi himself drives a taxi through the busy streets of Tehran, picking up various passengers who serve as conduits for a provocative discussion of Iranian social mores and the art of cinematic storytelling. Although there’s nothing terribly new to what Panahi is saying or how he goes about saying it, the fact that he’s able to say it at all is no small feat: a victory that should ensure “Taxi” makes many more stops around the world before returning to the garage.


It shows at OFS starting Friday Dec 18 – 6:30pm & at various times through Xmas eve the 24th check their website for exact days & show times or pick up a schedule found at many locations 


2) Sat Dec 19th is the 40th Annual Winter Holiday Peace Vigil downtown by the Kissing Statue at the Boardwalk 12 pm -1pm Come one & all. We have signs you can use, the Artisian Rumble will play & a reception will follow at a nearby place with hot soup & goodies





2) 40th Annual Holiday Peace Vigil

Saturday December 19th from Noon to 1 pm @ Percival Landing, Corner of Water and 4th Streets


This message came from Glen:


40th Annual Holiday Peace Vigil

SATURDAY DECEMBER 19 from 12 noon to 1 p.m.

Along West 4th Avenue at Percival Landing, Olympia



The public is invited to participate in Olympia’s 40th Annual Holiday Peace Vigil on Saturday December 19 from 12:00 noon to 1:00 p.m. along West Fourth Avenue, along the south side of Percival Landing and in front of Heritage Fountain.

The annual vigil is an Olympia tradition.  Signs are provided, but participants may bring their own.  Children are welcome.  The Artesian Rumble Arkestra will perform.  We invite everyone to enjoy free hot soup and light refreshments nearby after the vigil.

“During this holiday season of joy and good will, let us set aside all violence and militarism, which are the opposites of joy and good will,” said Glen Anderson, vigil organizer.  “The vigil gives participants and passersby an opportunity to pause and consider choosing peace instead of violence.  Peace is so much more consistent with the holiday spirit.”

The vigil is sponsored by the Olympia Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR).  The Olympia FOR has worked nonviolently since 1976 on a variety of peace and social justice issues.  It is the local affiliate of a very broadly interfaith, international pacifist organization founded in 1914.

The Olympia FOR has also sponsored a weekly peace vigil in Sylvester Park at the corner of Legion and Capitol Way, from 12 noon to 1 p.m. every Wednesday since March 5, 1980, and another vigil at the south end of Percival Landing from 4:30 to 6:00 p.m. every Friday since November 1998.

The vigil is free, but the Olympia FOR will gratefully accept donations to support its persistent work for nonviolence, social justice and peace.

For information contact Glen Anderson at (360) 491-9093 or or visit the Olympia FOR’s website,


“If there is going to be real change, it will have to work its way from the bottom up, from the people themselves.”     — Howard Zinn


Glen Anderson (360) 491-9093



3) Driscoll’s Berry Boycott Info Picket

Monday December 21st at 3 pm @ Costco, 5500 Littlerock Road SW, Tumwater


These people evidently haven’t gotten the memo that slave labor is de classé.


I got this from some kids at the CoOp:


Driscoll’s Berry Boycott Info Picket


WHEN: December 21st at 3 pm.

WHERE: Costco, 5500 Littlerock Road SW


Come out and support Familias Unidas Por la Justicia in their struggle with Sakuma Berries! Support the boiycott of Driscoll’s until the farm workers have a union.


Why Costco?

Costco has so far refused to remove Driscoll’s berries from their shelfs.


What can you do to help?

Don’t buy Driscoll’s berries. Come to the picket and show your support! Got to the website to learn more and to DONATE!


Olympia Farmworker Justice Collective

Olympia IWW



4) Bonus Tip of the Day:


Make fun of a white man today.







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