Monday, April 23, 2018

CORE Attempted Purge of One of Founders George Schmidt Failed in Chicago - Eight Women of Color Speak on George's Behalf

George Schmidt:
.... the majority of the CORE "Steering Committee" tried to lead the caucus into what amounted to a Purge Trial (or, as one speaker said, to turn CORE into something out of Orwell's Animal Farm)......the claims (by a handful of CORE people now hiding out) that I was a "racist" and a "sexist" (among other things) had to be proved by citing certain specific actions, not by "feelings."
I offered to report on the history of the struggles against white supremacy going back to my high school days in New Jersey, continuing through my two years in Western Pa. (as a member of the Greensburg PA NAACP) and then continuing through our work against segregation and those dramatic marches against the Nazis in the 1970s.
However, I had to remind people that when we were discussing historical facts we needed to have some reality principle -- not such yelps as the outburst from the Barretts that everyone knows I'm a racist and a sexist. More than a dozen people spoke eloquently about the work that I've done on behalf of the union, CORE, and justice..... George Schmidt, Feb. 26, 2018
Comment from a member of ICE Caucus: Norm, since you are NY's George, can your trial be far behind? ....
Can it be far behind indeed.

The vote was 27-17 in George's favor. Imagine, 17 people in CORE voted to toss out one of its key founders. I'm shocked, just shocked that a similar scenario is being played out in MORE. (see afterburn below).

The charges of racism and sexism are common in caucus purges as a way to remove political dissenters. How embarrassing that 8 women of color spoke up for the work George has done over 40 years to fight racism and sexism. These 17 people have no sense of respect for history.
Here is George's email from Feb. 28:

1. CORE PURGE FAILED. Despite an attempt by the steering committee of CORE to purge me from the CORE membership, tonight's CORE meeting voted overwhelmingly to reject the proposal and retain me as a member of CORE. The meeting which was attended by more than 70 people at its peak, included an agenda item which read: "George Schmidt's removal from CORE, based on multiple violations of Article III, Section Iv of CORE's By-Laws."
After a lengthy meeting, that item came up at the end as an "announcement." There was lengthy debate, during which the majority of speakers (many of whom are reading this -- thank you) denounced the CORE steering committee's position and then voted twice to reject the attack. First, the members voted 27 - 17 to reject a motion by Natasha Karecki that CORE refer the "complaints" against me to a "Reconciliation Committee" (the names of whose members are not known). After that motion was rejected, we debated and voted on a motion to reject completely the "Announcement" to remove me from CORE. The details of all this will be reported at substancenews.net if someone (other than me) wants to report and analyze that event.

2. LIES, DAMNED LIES, AND CORE STEERING COMMITTEE CLAIMS... The attack on me (and it included an attack on Substance) was based on lies, some ridiculous and some repeated enough to sound plausible to people without the time to pay attention. The facts included the fact that I had not "left" CORE to "join" Members First and that the claims (by a handful of CORE people now hiding out) that I was a "racist" and a "sexist" (among other things) had to be proved by citing certain specific actions, not by "feelings."
I offered to report on the history of the struggles against white supremacy going back to my high school days in New Jersey, continuing through my two years in Western Pa. (as a member of the Greensburg PA NAACP) and then continuing through our work against segregation and those dramatic marches against the Nazis in the 1970s. However, I had to remind people that when we were discussing historical facts we needed to have some reality principle -- not such yelps as the outburst from the Barretts that everyone knows I'm a racist and a sexist.
More than a dozen people spoke eloquently about the work that I've done on behalf of the union, CORE, and justice. It was nice to be there, but sad that it had to have been fought out. Now it needs to be discussed how the majority of the CORE "Steering Committee" could try to lead the caucus into what amounted to a Purge Trial (or, as one speaker said, to turn CORE into something out of Orwell's Animal Farm). Were I asked I have suggested that the "steering committee" resign and schedule a new election, since one of the main points of the discussion was that CORE is evading the issues facing the members in the schools and instead murking around in stuff like this attempted purge.

3. SUBSART. A couple of the CORE leaders (Craig and Drew most loudly) claimed that Substance has been unfair to CORE by publicizing Members First meetings with announcements and reports while ignoring CORE meetings. I've already called one of those and offered him a change to report for Substance, with editing (as we all face). As you know, for months I've been begging for SUBSART about Chicago's schools and the mounting problems facing the rank and file in the schools, at times to no avail. I know that everyone (including those I love most) are facing enormous pressures at the local level, from poor security and discipline to raging "Network" attacks at the classroom level, but I can only post at substancenews.net what we get in accurate reportings. Let's see how this works out in the future.

4. OF COURSE IT'S TIRING...and I'm not getting any younger. But there is now way that we can or should allow this kind of unprincipled stuff to go on. One of the paradoxes of the tirades against me (Craig and Drew in this case) was that Substance had published stuff that had been said inside CORE (on the listserve I'm guessing). One of the people who wanted to talk after the meeting told me that Craig & Co. can't have it both ways. Either they want us to report on CORE -- accurately and completely, which means from meetings, committees, and the listserve -- or they want to do everything in secret. I'm hoping that people will now take on those reporting jobs.
After Burn
The ideological roots of the people who urge purges in CORE and MORE are similar and the tactic is a standard one in certain circles on the left.

George was also charged with publishing reports on CORE in Substance. There are already hints that some people in MORE, closely associated with the same political forces in Chicago, are criticizing my publishing info coming out of MORE and at some point I would not be surprised to see attempts to expel me from MORE.

Recently there was a suggestion from a prominent MORE leader to expel someone from MORE over a nasty email that was sent. In the background are the same vague charges of sexism directed at certain males. I am trying to avoid contact and private conversations with some of these people because anything I say or do can be distorted.

MORE is very tied up with UCORE. Some leading UCORE people from Chicago voted to have George expelled. Now that's social justice unionism for you.

10 comments:

  1. Can't say I understood it all, but I stand with you Norm. Report it all. Secrecy corrupts. We don't need another Unity Party.

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  2. I support Norm. Norm has been fighting the good fight longer than some teacher have been alive. His service, his opinions, his knowledge of union history, his backbone should earn him nothing but respect from all of us. Roseanne McCosh

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  3. Say it, Norm, and expose the cynical and destructive opportunism of the people hijacking this group.

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  4. Cynical and destructive. Yes!! That's what race baiters are.

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  5. m just going to say it. I was the one who was almost expelled. There have been recent very well thought out and strategic attempts to close off MORE and make it less accessible for people who do not espouse a certain social outlook and also ascribe to one specific political agenda. For me, this has included a tactics that have denied me, as a member of the steering committee, to have access to the MORE email account (something that was once routine) and had denied me access to steering committe emails sent from the steering committe listserv ('some type of bug' they said was strangely effecting only my email account and it had prevented only me from receiving relevant steering messages in my inbox from the steering list. If I wanted to read, I'd have to log into to Google groups and sort through the endless threads). I, and at least one other memebr of the steering committe, have seen this pattern developjng for some time and have carefully watched it metastasize in the short period of time we have been on steering. Against that, I lost composure in a private email and got nasty with another member of steering.

    The result was to make that email known to an entire list and then demand that sanctions be taken against me. After I offered a sincere apology, the steering committee developed a brand new rule -specifically tailored for this one action- and then enforced that rule ex post facto. They committed many acts of character assassination on their way to doing this. Norm referenced one here. The demand for my removal shocked a lot of people on the committee but was part of that character assassiniation. At the end, less than a majority of steering members voted to suspend me and my colleague from the caucus steering committee and from the listservs (which was extra ridiculous in my case as I had never been accused of violating norms on a listserv) for one full month. This shifted the majority of votes on the steering committee more toward, you guessed it, a certain people who are following that certain specific agenda.

    Full disclosure, I accepted the suspension. This is partly because I had a suspected that there was more to come from this group.

    And boy was there! The new rule allows any two memebrs in the caucus to suspend anyone they want, as long as they agree that someone insulted someone else. Since our suspension, there have been concerted efforts to limit the voices in planning the monthly general meetings, concerns from Norm about reprisals for posting to ednotes and now I've just learned that, for the first time ever, MORE will be closing its monthly meeting to the general public -a decision that was made behind the backs even of the remaining steering committee-- so that they can adopt a proposal that will set a brand new course for MORE that is less reflective of a union caucus. (I can't say much more about that proposal because the authors of it have asked us all not to share it as it gets debated and ratified!!).

    I joined this caucus because it promised a sense of agency for regular, non-activist members like me who wanted to work to improve life for teachers parents and students by providing an open space for those voices to be heard. The promise was that the group would grow as peoplenrealozed their voice counted. Oh, how the times have changed. And I have lost count of how many promises never came to be.
    For my part, I'll keep my head down and stay away from engaging (my anonymous comment is part of that). But there is a pattern here that I don't think can easily be mistaken and it's troubling. Norm, I wish you luck in improving these conditions.

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  6. We should be diversifying our ranks not purging.

    Abigail Shure

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    1. Yes, Abigail, unless the purpose is not to reach out to the entire membership, grow the caucus and challenge for power, but to only recruit like-minded people for other political organizations.

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  7. Ugh. MORE, just. . . ugh. Norm, you’re like an uncle to a lot of us teachers; a reassuring voice on the web. Don’t let their bullshit discourage you. Don’t take their bait. I’ve had plenty of encounters with the passive aggressive MORE-istas. They’re driving people away. I’d hate to see them discourage you. Don’t let them. We need you.

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  8. Are you kidding? Me discouraged? I’ve faced all kinds of slugs from ed deformers to uft. I carry slug repellent

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    1. You don't need to carry slug repellant. You are slug repellant. I figured that out about you back when you were handing out ednotes at the DA 20 years ago. Unity people told me not to take it from you because you were "crazy." I took it anyway and read it while sitting at the DA. Your presence at the DA. Your willingness to hand out opposing literature in a hostile environment. Your ability to stand your ground. All of it----YOU are the slug repellant. Roseanne McCosh

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