Letters 10-24-2016

It’s Obama’s 1984 Several editions ago I concluded a short letter to the editor with an ominous rhetorical flourish: “Welcome to George Orwell’s 1984 and the grand opening of the Federal Department of Truth!” At the time I am sure most of the readers laughed off my comments as right-wing hyperbole. Shame on you for doubting me...

Gun Bans Don’t Work It is said that mass violence only happens in the USA. A lone gunman in a rubber boat, drifted ashore at a popular resort in Tunisia and randomly shot and killed 38 mostly British and Irish tourists. Tunisian gun laws, which are among the most restrictive in the world, didn’t stop this mass slaughter. And in January 2015, two armed men killed 11 and wounded 11 others in an attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. French gun laws didn’t stop these assassins...

Scripps’ Good Deed No good deed shall go unpunished! When Dan Scripps was the 101st District State Representative, he introduced legislation to prevent corporations from contaminating (e.g. fracking) or depleting (e.g. Nestle) Michigan’s water table for corporate profit. There are no property lines in the water table, and many of us depend on private wells for abundant, safe, clean water. In the subsequent election, Dan’s opponents ran a negative campaign almost solely on the misrepresentation that Dan’s good deed was a government takeover of your private water well...

Political Definitions As the time to vote draws near it’s a good time to check into what you stand for. According to Dictionary.com the meanings for liberal and conservative are as follows:

Liberal: Favorable to progress or reform as in political or religious affairs.

Conservative: Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditions and limit change...

Voting Takes A Month? Hurricane Matthew hit the Florida coast Oct. 6, over three weeks before Election Day. Bob Ross (Oct. 17th issue) posits that perhaps evacuation orders from Governor Scott may have had political motivations to diminish turnout and seems to praise Hillary Clinton’s call for Gov. Scott to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline due to evacuations...

Clinton Foundation Facts Does the Clinton Foundation really spend a mere 10 percent (per Mike Pence) or 20 percent (per Reince Priebus) of its money on charity? Not true. Charity Watch gives it an A rating (the same as it gives the NRA Foundation) and says it spends 88 percent on charitable causes, and 12 percent on overhead. Here is the source of the misunderstanding: The Foundation does give only a small percentage of its money to charitable organizations, but it spends far more money directly running a number of programs...

America Needs Change Trump supports our constitution, will appoint judges that will keep our freedoms safe. He supports the partial-birth ban; Hillary voted against it. Regardless of how you feel about Trump, critical issues are at stake. Trump will increase national security, monitor refugee admissions, endorse our vital military forces while fighting ISIS. Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence will be an intelligent asset for the country. Hillary wants open borders, increased government regulation, and more demilitarization at a time when we need strong military defenses...

My Process For No I will be voting “no” on Prop 3 because I am supportive of the process that is in place to review and approve developments. I was on the Traverse City Planning Commission in the 1990s and gained an appreciation for all of the work that goes into a review. The staff reviews the project and makes a recommendation. The developer then makes a presentation, and fellow commissioners and the public can ask questions and make comments. By the end of the process, I knew how to vote for a project, up or down. This process then repeats itself at the City Commission...

Regarding Your Postcard If you received a “Vote No” postcard from StandUp TC, don’t believe their lies. Prop 3 is not illegal. It won’t cost city taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal bills or special elections. Prop 3 is about protecting our downtown -- not Munson, NMC or the Commons -- from a future of ugly skyscrapers that will diminish the very character of our downtown...

Vote Yes It has been suggested that a recall or re-election of current city staff and Traverse City Commission would work better than Prop 3. I disagree. A recall campaign is the most divisive, costly type of election possible. Prop 3, when passed, will allow all city residents an opportunity to vote on any proposed development over 60 feet tall at no cost to the taxpayer...

Yes Vote Explained A “yes” vote on Prop 3 will give Traverse City the right to vote on developments over 60 feet high. It doesn’t require votes on every future building, as incorrectly stated by a previous letter writer. If referendums are held during general elections, taxpayers pay nothing...

Beware Trump When the country you love have have served for 33 years is threatened, you have an obligation and a duty to speak out. Now is the time for all Americans to speak out against a possible Donald Trump presidency. During the past year Trump has been exposed as a pathological liar, a demagogue and a person who is totally unfit to assume the presidency of our already great country...

Picture Worth 1,000 Words Nobody disagrees with the need for affordable housing or that a certain level of density is dollar smart for TC. The issue is the proposed solution. If you haven’t already seen the architect’s rendition for the site, please Google “Pine Street Development Traverse City”...

Living Wage, Not Tall Buildings Our community deserves better than the StandUp TC “vote no” arguments. They are not truthful. Their yard signs say: “More Housing. Less Red Tape. Vote like you want your kids to live here.” The truth: More housing, but for whom? At what price..

Home · Articles · News · Books · On the road with an Irish...
. . . .

On the road with an Irish Pirate/Ramor Ryan

Holly Wren Spaulding - May 17th, 2007
In anticipation of his appearance in Traverse City next week, Irish author Ramor Ryan took time out to talk about his new book, Clandestines: The Pirate Journals of an Irish Exile, life in a conflict zone, and his political coming of age during the embattled Ireland of the 1980s.

NE: I understand you’ve read in Ireland, England, Germany, Mexico, New York, San Francisco — we’re lucky to make it onto your tour.
Ramor Ryan: I have to say that I have wanted to visit Traverse City for many years, as I have very special connections with the community there!

NE: You’ve been living outside Ireland for much of your life—do you feel at home somewhere else, or are you essentially foreign wherever you find yourself?
Ryan: I’m never certain whether the journey is towards home, or the journey is home, but at this point, the notion of home is not represented by a physical space. The worrying precariousness of that is measured by the incandescent weightlessness of the transient, semi-nomadic life. Despite having lived the last few years predominantly in Chiapas (Mexico), the place itself feels no more home than a ship’s port. Where is home? I suppose my physical home is where my hat is. My heart’s home is where my beloved four-year-old boy is, but the guiding trajectory of the last 20 years is that home is amongst the radical community: home is amongst those who struggle.

NE: So there is a tension, right? Is that the condition of being an exile?
Ryan: Especially when one chooses conflict zones as I seem to have a propensity to do, yeah.

NE: Your book made me think I should catch a ride on the high seas. Do you find that your readers are especially responsive to certain stories or ideas?
Ryan: One reader wrote that she found throughout the book a re-surfacing of her own history, like a map of where she had been. I liked that because it fed into the initial impulse I had to write – to articulate collective experiences, and to communicate. Eduardo Galeano has written that “Our writing is informed by a desire to make contact, so that readers become involved with words that come to us from them, and return to them as hope and prophecy.” Mostly people write that the stories awaken the desire to go forth and engage life, to take a chance with things.

NE: What is your affinity with pirates?
Ryan: Well, it’s the sea, of course, roaming the great oceans populated by romantic and rakish raconteurs; outlaws, the seductive sense of wild, tumultuous freedom. One pirate described it as “Life on a pirate ship was mostly drunken idleness, with brief periods of violent action”, which always appealed more to me than say, working in insurance.
The first pirate I learned of was the famous Irish pirate queen Granuaile, whose island refuge was visible off the coast from my mother’s home in County Mayo. Tales of Granuaile’s exploits filled my youthful fancies in the intimate sense that she was born amongst us, a local folk heroine. Now she’s on Broadway, of course, a big star like Peter Pan or someone. Our Granuaile was a rebel, a Robin Hood of sorts; she wasn’t an unsavory character at all – actually I’d say she was quite a role model!

NE: There has been a conflict between the Mexican government and the indigenous people of the region for the whole time you have lived in Chiapas. What is it like to be in the midst of that?
Ryan: Of course the point of the State’s “low intensity conflict” is that it keeps the population on edge and creates a climate of fear, like in New York City where everyone remains edgy with the constant terror alerts.
Here in Chiapas, the impact is visible via the saturation of government troops throughout the conflict zone and the more insidious tactic of creating divisions amongst the indigenous communities and zones under rebel Zapatista control.
So on top of the usual stress of trying to scrape a living, bring up families and dealing with the high level of insecurity and crime typical of any impoverished area, the people here have to deal with the counter-insurgency conditions too. It’s very tough, psychologically, and these repressive conditions have remained constant since 1994, the year of the initial Zapatista uprising, which is what interested me in the place to begin with.
NE: What is a rebel zone, practically speaking?
Ryan: These are the autonomous regions of Chiapas, covering an area about the size of the state of Connecticut—mainly rural backlands and jungle, encompassing several hundred thousand people.
The population governs itself through a regional network of autonomous municipal councils, made up of a rotating assembly of community members. The council assemblies deal with all aspects of daily life in the communities - land issues, justice issues, education and health, as well as distribution of resources. There is no presence of the federal Mexican state, whom the people decided were not operating in their interests. “We don’t want the racist, repressive Mexican state here,” they said in the armed uprising of 1994. “We can govern ourselves better, according to our own traditions and customs.” And they have proved it with thriving autonomous municipalities 13 years later.

NE: Who are your literary influences?
Ryan: Despite 800 years of colonization—or perhaps because of it—there is one great privilege in being born Irish: the wealth of our literary heritage. I have grown up reading Joyce, Yeats, Brendan Behan, Oscar Wilde and the whole pantheon. Camus provided a continental perspective—existential and satisfyingly bleak.
As I spread my wings, I found Latin American magical realism—the likes of Isabel Allende and Gioconda Belli. Eduardo Galeano and Arundhati Roy, both of them politically engaged writers, accompany my every written word, as well as the Zapatista Communiqués of Sub-Comandante Marcos, which take engaged literature to another level of praxis. Does Uncle Noam (Chomsky) count as literature?! I’m reading John Ross’s Murdered By Capitalism at the moment, and love it – Oh to be as erudite as that inspired man!

NE: Were there stories when you were growing up that especially shaped you?
Ryan: One of my earliest memories is of being brought to Dublin city centre for the day by my big sister. A huge car bomb set by pro-British terrorists went off, killing a dozen shoppers a couple of blocks from where we strolled. I remember dreaming of that explosion a lot afterwards and it haunted my boyhood imagination.
Later, the great hunger strike of 1981– when 10 young republican political prisoners starved themselves to death to protest British criminalization of their struggle – loomed large on my horizon. As an adolescent this had a profound effect on me. Why were they doing this? Why were they political prisoners? What was the great narrative absorbing the nation and of which these 10 young men were central stage? Why was everyone out in the streets, marching and protesting and rioting? It was impossible not to get caught up in it all.

NE: The political landscape has shifted dramatically in the last few years, whereto with people’s struggles now?
Ryan: The political trajectory in Clandestines maps the shift of focus in the progressive movement during the ‘90s from anti-imperialism to anti-globalization, representing the change of focus from the state to transnational corporations. The Bush regime has of course reignited the state’s imperial drive with his military expeditions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the Anti-war struggle remains the most poignant space of contestation in the U.S.

NE: This book is a sort of odyssey, a record of a vibrant era, but it is also an invitation, no?
Ryan: An invitation, I think, using a popular phrase, to be a Zapatista wherever you are!

NE: There must be an extra incentive to live a vital, inquisitive life, thereby generating material for your writing.
Ryan: Well in that sense, I think my book Clandestines was a bit accidental and unconscious! Having finally ground to a halt after years on the road (nest building while awaiting the arrival of my son Ixim), I found I had some time and space to write. To reflect upon lived experience. “The overflow of powerful feelings from emotions recalled in tranquility,” as Wordsworth described his writing process. The Institute of Anarchist Studies kindly gave me a bit of money, and so the book tumbled out. I was hoping to share my experiences of various radical and revolutionary movements and moments with others. It’s not really meant to be about my life, but about the lives I’ve had the fortune of encountering.

Read Ramor’s blog at: http://ramorx.blogspot.com/ Ramor Ryan reads at Horizon Books in Traverse City, Monday, May 21 at 7 p.m. He’ll appear at the Inside Out Gallery on May 26, 7 p.m.
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5