Givers and Takers

My piece de resistance — Netwar at Cherry Point — turns one on April 1st.

This case study about the dark side of white power on the Salish Sea focuses on fossil fuel export versus indigenous peoples, or perhaps better stated — Wall Street versus human rights.

For some, the beloved San Juan Islands beckon as paradise in a world of total chaos. For Warren Buffett, BP and other major energy investors, they are collateral damage in the pursuit of oil portfolio profits.


Prelude to Civil War

A while back, I remarked that the Netwar at Cherry Point over a coal terminal was merely an opening battle in the fossil fuel export war. The conflict over shipping Alberta Tar Sands oil and Bakken Shale crude out of Burrard Inlet and Cherry Point–under the anti-Indian Trump regime–will test the mettle of the indigenous and religious combatants like never before.

When we helped defeat the Aryan Nations/Minutemen/Christian Patriot militias in the 1990s, the key to community organizing across five Northwest states was the marriage of anti-fascist researchers with networks of religious leaders devoted to respecting cultural diversity. Churches and synagogues were our educational meeting places, and provided the nucleus of leadership in the human rights task forces established in response to white supremacy violence targeting American Indians, LGBTs, Blacks and Jews.

Using research as an organizing tool, we helped shut down a hate radio station in Montana, and gathered evidence that led to the conviction of seven Christian Patriots in U.S. District Court in Seattle. These primary documents created a larger context of history, that serves as the basis for informed opinion based on knowledge.

Our researchers set up a monitoring network to share information and intelligence on white supremacist organizing, that was used by law enforcement, major educational institutions, and news outlets in making sense of right-wing paramilitary terrorism in the US. You can read more about this history in the Public Good Archives.

Communications in Conflict, the quintessential publication on netwar, serves as a touchstone for those who realize the connection between intelligent communications and networked power. For novices, it serves as an orientation to the science of coercion.

Trump’s choice for U.S. Attorney General is Jeff Sessions, who–as Attorney General of Alabama, and as a U.S. Senator–fought against civil rights. The Attorney General is the head of the U.S. Department of Justice, that sets legal policy in the areas of civil rights and environmental enforcement.

This is not the beginning of difficult times; it is the prelude to civil war.

Inherently Human

In 1975, the Tse-shaht tribe (part of the Nuu-chah-nulth first nation and the Wakashan language group on Vancouver Island) hosted the inaugural meeting of the World Council of Indigenous Peoples. That conference led to the establishment of the Center for World Indigenous Studies in Olympia, Washington in 1979, and to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007. As the ‘catalyst for the contemporary global indigenous rights movement’, the 1975 gathering–led by Chief George Manuel (founder of the Center for World Indigenous Studies)–was a historic event in the reemergence of indigenous governance, and in the development of the international regime first established by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN in 1948.

Taking on Organized Racism

Taking on Organized Racism in the Pacific Northwest

The Challenge of Leadership

By Jay Taber


Like twenty years ago–when organized racism tore Pacific Northwest communities apart–what is required today is an organized community response, one that uses research as an organizing tool. For three years, Sandra Robson has documented the people and methods behind industrial-sponsored terrorism; now it’s time to put that information to good use. The only thing missing is leadership capable of organizing concerned citizens in mounting an effective opposition to racism sponsored by SSA marine, BNSF Railway, KGMI Radio, Citizens Equal Rights Alliance (CERA), Northwest Jobs Alliance, and the Whatcom Tea Party.

Organized racism by organized labor — in cahoots with the Tea Party and major corporations — is something that ought to concern local and regional human rights organizations. Indeed, this concern compelled me and others to publish articles, commentary and special reports over the last three years. As an associate scholar of the Olympia-based Center for World Indigenous Studies (CWIS)— the publisher of IC Magazine — I have alerted the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians (ATNI) regarding the ongoing industrial-sponsored racism, targeting them and Lummi Nation for opposing fossil fuel export on the Salish Sea.

As a think tank established by leaders of the National Congress of American Indians in the US and the Assembly of First Nations in Canada, CWIS in 1996 hosted a conference along with ATNI and the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission titled The Politics of Land and Bigotry, to “join public policy activists and representatives of Indian nations in a dialogue about the portentous movements in America intent on promoting interracial discord.” Twenty years later, this topic is once again apropos.

The Whatcom Human Rights award–presented in the past to people such as Bellingham Herald crime reporter Cathy Logg, Public Good Project research director Paul de Armond, and Pacific Northwest human rights organizer Bill Wassmuth (all now deceased)—is a form of acknowledgment missing today. Citizen Journalist Sandra Robson stands in that company, as do others involved in the Salish Sea fossil fuel export war.

At the initial 1997 awards banquet held by the Whatcom Human Rights Task Force–now defunct–I sat alongside the editor of the Every Other Weekly (now Cascadia Weekly), Tim Johnson, whom I introduced to Cathy. Cathy, although working for the infamous Herald, courageously covered the Christian Patriot militias running wild in Western Washington. Paul de Armond put his life on the line helping to apprehend Christian Patriots in Seattle and Whatcom County, who were making explosives to kill human rights activists. Bill Wassmuth—a former Catholic priest–took on Aryan Nations, which attempted to murder him by blowing the back of his home off with dynamite.

As I look around today, civic leaders and moral authorities mostly decline to accept the challenge of leadership in social conflict involving organized racism. Mainstream and alternative media alike avoid it like the plague.

What this does is allow it to grow, until, like viruses, it becomes a public health crisis. As in epidemiology, ignorance, laziness, and cowardice do not produce beneficial results.

[Jay Thomas Taber is an associate scholar of the Center for World Indigenous Studies and a contributing editor of Fourth World Journal. Since 1994, he has served as communications director at Public Good Project, a volunteer network of researchers, analysts and journalists defending democracy. As a consultant, he has assisted Indigenous peoples in the European Court of Human Rights and at the United Nations.]