To view the entire thread on the crisis in the Human Rights Committee, from the beginning, go to:
Diary Post: Death Threats and a Woman’s Voice
So much has happened since the last post. I’ve been blogging, but mostly on the Café Intifada blog. My health, though weak, has not been totally debilitating. I’ve needed to limit activity a bit, but I’ve not been on total bed rest. On Saturday, Andy and I attended the MPAC conference and banquet, As this was Andy’s first day of vacation and my health has been so tenuous, we arrived for the afternoon sessions. I made it though the day, though I was having trouble walking. This has been a consistent problem for about a week now, though today was better.
We came home from the conference to a death threat to me in the body of an email, so in addition to all of the work and preparation we are going through in our lives winding our way through the long list of tasks that must be done, should be done, or that we simply want to do; now we must address the issues of safety and security that this type of threat demands, including reporting the matter to law enforcement.
While it is true that the actions of my adversaries have been effective in increasing my marginalization within the teacher’s union and has limited much of my activity, what they fail to understand, and what I am getting really clear on, as I retrace the maze of events, starting with the Human Rights Committee retreat, the explosion of controversy around the BDS campaign, (again, see the CI webpage*) the greater understanding of the limits of my health, and now deal with death threats, is that, in fighting this massive machine, there is so much work to do, of such diversity and scope, that one is never without purpose, allies or activity.
I have been very content and focused, for the most part, over the last few weeks, especially since resigning myself to applying myself more directly to my writing, for the time being. Andy and I, as I have eluded, are working on ways to bring our work, especially mine into a larger vision of our relationship, including where we live, how we invest our time and money and use the resources we have to build community and advocate for empowerment and justice. Writing suits me more than other physical forms of activism, though one must guard against isolation. By focusing on my writing and limiting my social interactions to a few close friends, I get much less overwhelmed and lost in the bitterness of internal conflict and battle.
It is a shame that the activists in the HRC couldn’t put petty differences aside, and, truth be told, either in silence or complicity, backed “Clarence,” after I protested what had been repeatedly harassing comments and ostracism. But this is an old pattern: back the perpetrator. It is almost a lock step response. As long as women, children and other subservient populations are expected to maintain “the peace” at the expense of their own needs, feelings and safety, then any woman who defends her rights in the face of harassment (in this case, at an event at the home of the harasser) will be seen as rude, disruptive and problematic. There is no appropriate protocol to address harassment within the range of acceptable discourse, especially in the heat of the moment. They are expert; coaching their taunts and jabs in the camouflage of humor or in private threats and whispers, so that the pressure is on the victim, to either maintain decorum** at her own expense, or risk ostracism and blame. It takes a real understanding of the politics of male dominance and a commitment to combating it, to elicit an appropriate response to a situation such as the one that presented itself at the retreat.
I have gone over and over the course of events. Yes, “Camile” had been petty and uncooperative over the last two years, making it difficult to even incorporate her suggestions into the conference planning, as she refused, with gracious passivity, to provide the information (bios and descriptions) for her proposals for the conferences, and at the time I did recognize it as the that strange rivalry between women, the resentments we hold, as if we were bees and there can be only one queen. Michael Novick was right in his characterization that what transpired at “Clarence’s” home was an example of lack of sisterhood and feminist consciousness among the women, because, while this clique has attacked my participation in the committee in what has been a rather unethical opportunist alliance between them and the union president, the latter, wanting to distance me from the union because of pressure from Zionist organizations and their teacher contacts, and the former, because of the animosity towards me that has developed since the retreat; prior to the retreat (again, with the exception of “Camile”) there was no sign of any animosity or difference of methodology. “Camile,” “Mildred” and “Gilroy” all presented workshops at the both conferences. In addition to his workshop, “Gilroy” also volunteered to facilitate other workshops. “Mildred” gave me a gift after the last conference, thanking me for all my hard work. At one point, the Conference sub-committee was empowered by the larger Committee to make any decisions necessary to make the conference possible. At no point did anyone, oppose the work I was doing, make a motion to amend my work or curtail my efforts. I frequently brought the work of the sub-committee including the web page, the conference participants and program, before the Committee for approval and feedback, and usually, if not always, incorporated that feedback into the final product and I worked with everyone and encouraged even greater participation in the decision making
So that now, when “Gilroy” accuses Andy and me of conducting our efforts undemocratically because other chose not to participate more, and “Mildred” asserts that I dominated the group because I am retired and other members can’t do as much, it seems a bit opportunistic and disingenuous.
“Gilroy” has expressed outrage at my posting his emails to me; a strange accusation, as if his emails, sent to me off list, were a confidential communication, and not simply a private harassment between a CAMS officer and myself, written with the clear intention of limiting my participation, and to date, he has not provided a response, not a single example to support the attacks in his letter that I have, in the “past for conferences… grumbled and complained a lot, made many cavalier decisions, and then taken credit for other peoples work.”***
And while President Duffy was capable of communicating to his chapter chairs and leadership, the rationale for his decision to curtail and essentially shut down a standing committee of the union, the question remains, when brought to his attention and the attention of the other officers, the repeated harassment I was sustaining as a disabled woman who asserted her rights at an inaccessible and official UTLA meeting, why didn’t they use that same apparatus to insist on a protocol that would assure that such types of discrimination not occur at UTLA events?
It is 3:30 am. Andy is asleep next to me. I work by the light of the computer screen. These are writers’ hours. It is not anxiety or depression, but drive and purpose.
There is so much I have yet to say. __* http://cafeintifada.blogsource.com/?tag_text=Now%20who’s%20the%20terrorist%3F
**decorum: dignity or correctness that is socially expected.