Political Obfuscation and Spatial Warfare

In Maine, “our” governor is planning to waste time and effort removing a few walls with murals depicting the history of labor unions in our working man’s state. The murals are located inside the lobby of the Department of Labor. In a simultaneously brilliant and idiotic move, this blatant political obfuscation is yet another insult in a litany of dumb stuff Paul LePage does and puts him in prime position as a contender in the arena of GOP extremism laughing stock. Well, hilarious, but dreadfully scary. Running his mouth yet again about making Maine “pro-business,” (he wanted Maine to be the red light state by changing our highway welcome sign from “The Way Life Should Be” to “Open For Business”) LePage is waging a war on the labor movement, on worker’s rights, on community organizing, and on everything that is democratic and socialist and good in our state.

In the global political war for control of space (like in Israel, see Arena of Speculation for more on this), if LePage has his way he will have succeeded in wresting an important moment in our collective history from our grasp.

When we erase history, we change history, and we tell small lies. By effectively denying and dis-acknowledging a critical and formative event or era in our collective consciousness and awareness, who we are as Mainers, you rewrite history and truth for the benefit of short-sighted political goals and obfuscate and delegitimize alternative narrative and opposition. This is political warfare carried out in the name of selfish personal gain.

Paul LePage, by removing murals that depict scenes from the labor movement in Maine, is denying Maine’s rich history as a working class state and delegitimizing the role of labor unions throughout history and today. In yet another stroke of brilliance, he is planning to rename several conference rooms in the Department of Labor. The rooms are currently named after labor leaders such as Cesar Chavez.

It’s not so much the act itself but the principle and motivation behind it. The murals won’t be destroyed and the rooms can be re-re-named. But it is indicative of his disrespect for the rights of the collective, his disrespect for the rights of workers, and his complete disregard for history and the people of Maine.

He is making a play for spatial control because he knows he has no political control. Between this and his new state-owned propaganda TV show, Inside the Blaine House, his “administrative directives” are rapidly becoming symptomatic of authoritarian dictatorship, crafted to promote his personal agenda as a greedy, selfish businessman, with absolutely no consideration of what Maine people, the people who mostly didn’t vote for him, want and need.

One thought on “Political Obfuscation and Spatial Warfare

  1. Let me start with the artist of the murals, speaking in 2007 when they were installed.
    Here is her statement in the article hot-linked above: “I don’t agree that it’s one-sided,” Ms. Taylor said. “It’s based on historical fact. I’m not sure how you can say history is one-sided.”

    We hear about battles of the narrative, but the battle is actually between inanity and argument.
    Now this mission statement from the Arena of Speculation website: Spatial Analysis–Applying the analytical skills of architecture and planning as a means to expose the present spatial reality and the mechanisms of spatial domination that construct and maintain it. These include the ability to carry out spatial research in itself – interrogating maps, aerial photographs, planning documents and legal documents, and the undertaking of empirical surveys – and the means to synthesise and communicate its findings in a vivid and graphically compelling manner to a wider audience. [end of excerpt]
    The course at law school I came closest to acting like a lawyer in was land use regulation, where I devoted myself to a case involving the heritage zone and got my sole A (an A-) (since I didn’t need to suck-up to get it). For a few hours I felt like there could be an honest lawyer in the place. The point is that I threw myself into the argument. But land use law itself is a political wasteland–naked political power, starting with the Euclid decision that approved zoning, where the SC justice author wrote that little children shouldn’t have to grow up in the shadow of a factory–period–no analysis, no constitutional values, nil.
    That web site is apparently devoted, however forcefully or not , to revealing that, behind the haze of legalese, Israel is seizing territory with land use regulations. Building permits are a case in point, certainly. Israel’s lack of a due process or equal treatment constitutional tenet leaves absolutely flabber-gasting statistics on the ethnicity of recipients of building permits, comparable to kill ratios in most of its wars (counting all civilians killed): on the order of a hundred to one. One statistic I saw for building permits was 5000:12, of 5000 issued (when?, where?), 12 went to non-Jews. The point, as the website probably tries to make clear, is the context, the overall effect.
    The metaphor intended in the main article here is control of narrative space (a phrase which grates on my ear even as I coin it). That metaphor devalues the crimes in Israel committed under the guise of land use law, such as the way it locates its “wall of separation” (is that what they call “The Wall”?, despite the echo of “apartheid”–“apartness”?) and the support structures, such as patrol roads. These are actual crimes. Argument is not a crime, as the con-law course tried to persuade us, until it passes from “agitation” to “incitement”.
    I don’t know hardly a thing about what LePage is up to, but to judge from the squawks from the Democratic Party locally and that MLK Day Rally, he must be doing something right. It struck me yesterday he is the first Franco-American governor. You’d think that would merit celebration in the media, considerable celebration. Comparing him to our previous 39%-of-the-vote-winning governor, Mr. Baldacci, it’s a caricature of nativism overthrowing neo-colonialism; with Mr. Baldacci’s predecessor, Mr. King, representing sheer colonialism, although being colonized from Virginia is at least slightly historically plausible. [But I’m wrong–here’s the Kennebec Journal correcting me in advance: Maine’s first Franco-American governor sounds bit like second Both Alonzo Garcelon, Paul LePage spoke of thrift, bipartisanship http://www.kjonline.com/news/maines-first-franco-american-governor-sounds-much-like-second_2011-01-02.html%5D
    The question is about debate and responsibility. Debate is to educe government actions. The ultimate judgment of the conduct of the debate is what the government does.
    It is hard to see how, in the light of history, US support for Israel is anything other than treasonous. When Mr. Kennedy was elected President, he practically had to promise (didn’t he?) that he wouldn’t consult with the Pope ever on anything. Teddy Roosevelt wrote very scathingly about “anglo-philia” among the political elite of his day (reminding us of his Dutch roots). Committing the nation to the security of another nation outside of the rationality and pragmatism of a mutual defense pact seems to, on the very face of it, equivocate if not repudiate the first obligation of government–to maintain its own territory.
    Israel’s race-based enslavement of Palestinians in the age of democracy antagonizes both the candid mind and the native passions, and when the sense of outrage leads to protest, the US fights the battles Israel provokes. In so doing, the US Government drives its economy into something very much like a dust-bin of history.
    I wonder where Mr. LePage stands on the “global war on terror”. That would be my test for whether he’s some hired tool. I had a couple of amusing conversations with Mr. Baldacci on that very point after I got slightly blown up in Iraq. He was as utterly shameless in public as in private. Being shameless is not a crime. Blowing people up who are minding their own business is. (I wasn’t, you see, but I got off lightly: I think it’s quite conceivable the suicide bomber, glancing around the dining facility, waited for me to stoop down behind another soldier (who turned up dead, as they say–I first encountered him as someone who looked undamaged from the blast but had ashen skin tones, a yellow cast to his staring eyes, and no pulse in his neck) to pick my weapon off the floor (he turned out to be lying on my weapon, as I found when finally leaving the scene and not wanting to forget my weapon, a grave offense) preparatory to walking right past the disguised attacker to the exit before he triggered his bomb: because I didn’t have a sneer welded onto my face.)

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