Saturday, October 20, 2007

Give 'Em Hell, Catch Hell

Tim Harris of Real Change caught hell this week for satirizing the upcoming 'Homelessness Awareness' event as "United to Extend Homelessness."

I can't link you to the satirical flyer; it's only "published" as a PDF that can be downloaded from his classroom Wiki (which is currently dormant between class sessions). A sample:
The Unite to Extend Homelessness Community Resource Exchange will provide easy answers to deep-seated problems by producing a spectacle of good will that does little or nothing to solve homelessness, except on a case by case basis. Getting vital services can be challenging and time-consuming — especially when so many are in need and so little is available. This one-day feel good event won’t change that. The Community Resource Exchange is a transparent public relations ploy that began in San Francisco and has now been embraced by the Bush administration and implemented in over 200 cities.

Some of the problems that will not be addressed include the wholesale abandonment of the poor by the health care system; the daunting realities of structural unemployment; how Vietnam-era veterans are treated like shit; and the fact that the legal system in America provides justice only to those who can afford it.
The sponsors of the event could have been listed as United Byway; Committee to Extend Homelessness; Church Rumble of Grumble Seattle; Kingdom County; Paul Allen Town; Belle-Richer-Than-You; Rentounce; Bent. Tim didn't do that; he used the unaltered names and logos of United Way; Committee to End Homelessness; Church Council of Greater Seattle; King County; City of Seattle; City of Bellevue; City of Renton; City of Kent. That drew the ire of Sandy Brown, head of the Church Council of Greater Seattle. He didn't like the Church Council's identity being associated with this sort of thing:
Faith communities have long asked how they can work to end homelessness while avoiding uncomfortable and divisive discussions of poverty and inequality. It All Starts at Home is an interactive symposium that will give faith communities and service organizations the tools they need to continue addressing homelessness in an uncontroversial and depoliticized manner. This symposium will bring together groups from across King County to discuss how the faith community and big philanthropy can provide political cover while the federal government abdicates what little remaining responsibility it has for housing the poor. The seminars will co-opt whatever energy exists to address poverty and inequality by channeling all of our resources into well-intentioned but ultimately inadequate charitable efforts.Each attendee will go home with a resource book that scrupulously avoids the question “why?”

Seminars presented at the symposium will not include: Structural Unemployment in America and Why So Many of the People Filling Our Prisons are Black; Who Benefits When the Feds Abandon Housing for the Poor; How to Develop a Revolutionary Analysis of Deepening Global Poverty (e.g., IMF, World Bank, NAFTA); Creating Your Own Poverty and Inequality Study Group; Moving from Charity to Justice: Pros and Cons; and Understanding How Self-interest Defines the Limits of Our Response.
My personal opinion is that if Sandy Brown doesn't want to look like a collaborator, he should stop acting like one.

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