You are on page 1of 10

Shining a Light

admin Nov 09, 2014 Foundations, Non-Profit Industrial Complex, Whiteness & Aversive
Shift Magazine
September 2014, Issue 5

Jay Taber is an associate scholar of the Center for World Indigenous Studies, a contributing
editor of Fourth World Journal, and a featured columnist at IC Magazine. Since 1994, he has
served as communications director at Public Good Project, a volunteer network of researchers,
analysts and activists engaged in defending democracy. As a consultant, he has assisted
Indigenous peoples in the European Court of Human Rights and at the United Nations.
Cory Morningstar (CM): Juli Kearns, of Idyll Opus Press has observed that you write
extensively on effective models of community education on issues mainstream America tends to
be protected from, perhaps more by ignorance than any other buffer. Can you elaborate at all on
Jay Taber (JT): What Juli said was that I write about effective models of community education
on tear-em-up issues, the kind that shred a place and people in a way mainstream America tends
to be protected from, perhaps more by ignorance than any other buffer. The quote is from a
review of my post Mainstream Malice, that Juli wrote in 2005, titled shining a light on the blind
spots that aid hate groups.1
My post was about former FBI undercover agent Mike German, who had recently been
interviewed by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now, discussing his career infiltrating violent
white supremacist groups.2 The 1997 convictions of eight militia members in Washington state,

for manufacturing explosives to murder human rights activists, were a result of Germans
undercover operation, which was initiated in response to community-based research conducted
by Public Good Project field agents, myself included.
The ignorance Juli refers to is the fact that the militias had been hosted by Wise Use Movement
agent provocateurs, working under contract to the Building Industry Association, targeting
environmentalists and Native Americans involved in ecosystem conservation and treaty
protection that impinged on developers public subsidies and private profits. CBS 60 Minutes did
an expose on the Wise Use Movement in September 1992, titled Clean Water Clean Air, part of
which was filmed in the area where Public Good Project and Agent German were involved. Two
of the militia hosts were actually in the 60 Minutes segment.
By the time of the 1996 militia arrests, the local media monopoly Bellingham Herald, owned by
Gannet Corporation, had actively covered up the industry-militia connection for five years. The
effective model of community education our friends developed to get around the cover-up was
the creation of a community newspaper, our development of a Public Good volunteer research
network to obtain primary documents that could be used as evidence in court, and making
contact with mainstream media adjacent to the news blackout area.
By breaking the story in Seattle, Portland and the small town of Anacortes, we were able to
scuttle the political careers of militia hosts and Building Industry thugs, and start to open
peoples eyes to the fact there was a lot going on behind the scenes that they werent reading
about in the paper. It also got some organizations previously involved in issue advocacy to start
doing investigative research on groups opposing them. That was something new for them, but it
was essential to the democratic process, which is fundamentally vital to protectno matter what
your issue is.
CM: Jay, you state that militias had been hosted by Wise Use Movement agent provocateurs,
working under contract to the Building Industry Association, targeting environmentalists and
Native Americans involved in ecosystem conservation and treaty protection that impinged on
developers public subsidies and private profits. How is this any different than todays
industrial capitalists, whose sole goal is to protect the current economic system and further
accelerate growth, targeting, and more precisely, co-opting (via funding) environmentalists and
Native Americans involved in ecosystem conservation and treaty protection that could impede on
the shifting of todays current power structures and corporate profits? Can such a parallel be
In June of this year you quoted Quinault Indian Nation President Fawn Sharp who remarked,
Our ancestors had to be good stewards of the land. Yet we seem to be paying the price for
others who dont share the same values. She was referring to the difference between Fourth
World conservation and First World consumerism. Currently, under the banner of environment,
the NPIC [Non-Profit Industrial Complex] is pushing hard to sell the illusion that in order to
solve our climate crisis, we simply have to switch from fossil fuel energies, to renewable
energies with no focus (or mention) of the Wests rabid consumption, and no mention of the
displacement such trends are causing indigenous peoples.3 Can you explain why this is the case.

Further, how do we open peoples eyes to the magnitude of the crisis when NGOs acquiesce to
the needs/wants of their funders first and foremost?
JT: Pattern recognition is one of the basic elements of analyzing social settings. Has this
happened before? How did it go down? What can we learn from history?
Anti-Indian Conference, the story I broke at IC Magazine in April 2013, revealed the emergence
of a national campaign to terminate tribal sovereignty in the US, organized in the Pacific
Northwest by the same people who fomented interracial discord there in the 1990s.4
Organizational names had changed, and the Merchants of Fear building resentment against
environmentalists and Native Americans are industrial developers this time, rather than
commercial like before, but the patterns are the same.5
If you substitute the Gateway Pacific Terminal consortium for the Building Industry Association,
Tea Party for GOP, and fossil fuel export for strip mall development, the pattern is almost a
perfect fit. Thats why Sandy Robsons January 2014 feature story What Would Corporations
Do? Native American Rights and the Gateway Pacific Terminal at Whatcom Watch caused such
an uproar;6 she showed how SSA Marine, Peabody Coal, and Burlington Northern Santa Fe
Railroad had used the resentment generated by the Tea Party and Citizens Equal Rights Alliance
the Ku Klux Klan of Indian country against the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians
opposing Gateway Pacific Terminal.7
Sandy exposed how the consortium had funded the Tea Party PACs established by the main
promoter of the Anti-Indian conference, and noted how the exorbitant fresh water demands of the
proposed coal terminal at Cherry Point would likely violate the treaty water rights of the Coast
Salish tribes, as well as endanger federally-protected species like Chinook salmon and Orca
whales.8 In February 2014, the Gateway Pacific Terminal public relations consultant threatened
Whatcom Watch with a SLAPP suit.9
What I tried to convey in my summary of these events, related to fossil fuel export on the Salish
Sea between Seattle and Vancouver, is that Capitalizing on Fear10 is a strategy First Nations on
both sides of the Canada/US border can expect from fossil fuel exporters The Politics of Land
and Bigotry escalates around shipping Tar Sands bitumen, Powder River Basin coal, and Bakken
Shale oil from North America to Asia.11
As president of the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians and the Quinault Indian Nation
which is leading the opposition to a major oil train terminal on the Washington coast Fawn
Sharp is in the forefront of the Wall Street v. Coast Salish fossil fuel export war.12
Sharp is one of the emerging American Indian leaders on the international stage engaged
in Resolving Grievances13 and eliminating violence against Indigenous nations, and, as such, is
in the middle of the Netwar between conservation and consumerism you speak of.14
Cutting Edge Analysis like you do at Wrong Kind of Green, and I do at IC Magazine, helps
consumers of mass communication form their own judgment, rather than consume corporate

distortions and state propaganda.15 Supporting Investigative Journalism for Indigenous Peoples is
one way they can circumvent corrupted mainstream media and compromised NGOs.
CM: I encounter many within the left spectrum who do not dispute the problems we are speaking
of, and even applaud those activists and writers who are courageous enough to write the cutting
edge analysis that you speak of (albeit privately in many cases) thereby exposing the ugly truths
that sting and make many who consider themselves left extremely uncomfortable. Shortly
afterwards, I will notice they are sharing/promoting a campaign message by the very NGO or
chosen/groomed/appointed eco-celeb, that they had understood undermines our legitimate
grassroots work, only a week previous. This obviously lends credulity and credibility to those
that deserve none. Why do you suppose such individuals knowingly dismiss such critical
analysis? I have even witnessed this with those who identify with anarchism. Why do you think
the Western left knowingly props up the very system and oligarchy that is close to destroying
most all life on Earth? The same system and oligarchy that is dedicated to the complete
genocide/annihilation of all Indigenous Peoples? If people understand that by following
(hence giving power to) NGOs such as Avaaz and means upholding the very system and
elites that have brought us to the cliffs precipice, yet, they still choose to do so, what does this
mean? Could it be that the meaning of left in the west has become nothing more than a trend that
appeases the guilt of the privileged?
This September you have noted that the Peoples Climate Change March, the World Conference
on Indigenous Peoples, and the World Summit on Indigenous Philanthropy all take place in New
York City. No doubt people will be flying and driving in from all over the world to partake in this
circus with the belief they are going to help solve multiple ecological and social justice crises.
You once wrote that physical protesting is futile if we dont have an in-depth understanding of
what we are actually fighting against. In fact, such naivet only further serves to strengthen the
very systems we claim to oppose. Can you elaborate on what you were talking about?
Foundations and NGOs focus on idealistic, well-meaning yet nave young people to further
advance their goals. I believe that todays well intentioned youth are the elites sacrificial lambs.
As weve witnessed (tragically) in Ukraine, those espousing Nazi ideologies have had great
success tapping into the youth. In the case of climate and indigenous people, the irony is that the
youth are the very ones who will lose the most: a planet hospitable/conducive to life, along with
the knowledge of the Indigenous Peoples which continues to be lost and eroded.
JT: In the United States, we live in a society where consciousness is almost totally controlled by
Wall Street. Since we dont have a totalitarian form of government where freedom of travel and
association are restricted, it is commonly assumed that we have freedom of thought and
expression. While it is true that we can think what we want, and even say what we want within
the boundaries of libel and defamation, the vertical integration of controlled consciousness sets
rigid parameters on what American citizens are capable of imagining, let alone understanding.
In my editorial Moolah Boodle Lucre Simoleons, I wrote that, Wall Streets vertical integration
of controlling consciousness is based on five components: ownership of media, fabrication of
news, integration of advertising with state propaganda, financing of foundations and brokerages,
and co-optation of NGOs.16 While many well-meaning people are channeled into the latter by the

concerted collaboration of all the former, the corporate agenda that determines the policies,
practices and projects of these NGOs is anything but benign.
This systematic prevention of independent, critical thought that begins in early childhood, and
interferes with our ability to comprehend the world around us 24/7 is one of the things I
described in my editorial A Culture of Imbeciles, which created quite a stir around the climate
change fraud promoted by Bill McKibben and As an introduction to the work of Guy
Debord, author of The Society of the Spectacle, I quoted his remark from 1957: We have
arrived at a stage of ideological absence in which advertising has become the only active factor,
overriding any pre-existing critical judgment or transforming such judgment into a mere
conditioned reflex.
Debords remark was predicated on his analysis of the impact on human consciousness of the
invention of television, but it could easily apply to computers, the Internet and social media
today. His comments on the deepening separation of industrial civilization from reality, and loss
of childrens capacity to think for themselves, certainly seem apropos.
I also mentioned in my editorial that producing fantasy has become such a prescribed art that few
even question their fantasies about such things as political power. People will literally believe
anything, even that Wall Street-financed organizers like McKibben or Wall Street-owned
politicians like Obama are capable or interested in making fundamental change in power
relationships between Wall Street and Main Street. Absurd as that sounds, it is an indication of
how psychological manipulation is able to create Messiahs in the non-profit industrial complex
and political arena. Because almost all progressive activism is based on peoples preconceptions,
and what is fundable by Wall Street derivatives laundered through brokerages and foundations
social networks, in large part, become part of the spectacle.
Those of us who produce coherent analysis, based on research, are actively marginalized, and
even attacked, by both mainstream media and progressive activists. Uncomfortable truths, as you
call them, are too unsettling for most people. Theyve built up personal identities around their
fantasies about political power that are extremely difficult to break. Those that do eventually get
it, are often adrift, and only come around to being effective in the public arena after reorienting
to reality. This is when we often encounter people, when they happen across magazines like IC,
or websites like Public Good Project or Wrong Kind of Green.
In my editorial about Cutting Edge Analysis, I discussed mainstream media and the Indigenous
peoples Movement, including the concept of Netwar, a field of study pioneered by my colleague
David Ronfeldt at RAND Corporation in the 1990s. I elaborated on this concept in the 2013
publication Communications in Conflict, which you helped to edit for IC Magazine.18 In the
editorial, I linked to some examples of cutting edge analysis I had done for IC, as well as a
sampling of netwar conflicts we had won.
One of my favorite books on the topic is The Zapatista Social Netwar in Mexico, by David
Ronfeldt, John Arquilla, Graham E. Fuller, and Melissa Fuller, which you can download as a free

When people start organizing for political power outside the activist system imposed by Wall
Street, volunteering as citizens, rather than as career advocates, they see how effective they, their
neighbors and friends can be. Once they are no longer dependent on Wall Street funding or
NGOs, the strategies available to them increase exponentially. Our job as writers is to show them
that they can do that. Granted, that entails taking risks, and challenging habitual assumptions
about reality, but the rewards far outweigh the risks.
Once people experience this kind of empowerment, they are less inclined to engage in protests or
marches that dont lead to taking back power from Wall Street for their communities. They
become more mature and confident, and have a healthier sense of identityas opposed to one
based on consuming Wall Street-produced spectacle. They become, instead, human beings whose
lives have both meaning and purpose.
CM: Stephanie McMillans excellent work has been described as Uncomfortable reading for
liberals.20 I quote: Her impossible message is that all of the individual efforts to make things
better (recycling, getting off grid, and even sharing with your friends) dont make any difference
if you dont take on the structural problems of capitalism. This is the acid test for radicalism.
Either you believe that you need to step out of your comfort zone and fight for systemic change
against quite impressive monsters or you think personal positive actions are enough. Her
impossible message is that all of the individual efforts to make things better (recycling, getting
off grid, even sharing with your friends) dont make any difference if you dont take on the
structural problems of capitalism. This is the acid test for radicalism. Either you believe that you
need to step out of your comfort zone and fight for systemic change against quite impressive
monsters, or you think personal positive actions are enough. Surely capitalism and imperialism
must be fully understood if we are to have any success at all as activists, and as citizens with
dignity. Despite America believing it has an educated populace, it is apparent that in many
countries within Latin America and other parts of the world, such as Africa, although there is
sometimes very little formal education, there is a much deeper understanding amongst the
people of imperialism and capitalism, and politics in general. I cannot help thinking how they
must laugh at our collective ignorance. Can you elaborate on this subject?
JT: Americans of every generation have fought back against oligarchy or plutocracy and the
capitalist system of rule, but the Wall Street/Hollywood/Madison Avenue combination has too
much firepower for the average American to stand up to. Using my generation as an example,
look at what the U.S. Department of Justice did to the Free Speech Movement and the Negro
Revolution, the Civil Rights Movement, the Anti-War Movement, and the American Indian
Movement. The Burglary by Betty Medsger, and Seth Rosenfelds book Subversives, are real
eye-openers about how the FBI treated students, minorities and peace activists attempting to
exercise their constitutional rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.
The amount of money invested and manpower mobilized to prevent human consciousness from
spreading into mainstream America has been astonishing. Even cynicism and smugness have
been programmed into the American character in order to keep democracy down. Every emotion
you can think of has been commodified in order to maintain an infantile level of awareness
consistent with this popular political illiteracy.

The punishment for stepping outside the cultural comfort zone of conformity, which many of my
generation did, was severe. It still is. Why would anyone want to experience that?
There is, of course, the reward of self-respect and human dignity, but thats small comfort for
social marginalization, political repression, and economic suffering. Any successful movement
has to be built on social solidarity, where mutual aid is organized and sustained at a community
level. Otherwise, the best and brightest are continually sacrificed, and continuity is extinguished.
How can you expect Americans to commit to multi-generational struggles for freedom if every
generation has to start from scratch?
Mentoring has to be institutionalized in order for consciousness to grow; without a commitment
to that essential project, nothing lasting can be achieved. Monitory democracy is a term
sometimes used to describe a system where ordinary citizens keep an eye on whats going on in
their communities, and collectively intervene whenever they see threats emerge. This is in stark
contrast to the system where everyone is oblivious to nefarious developments until its too late,
and their community is thrown into social turmoil.
My friends and I used to have a camp fire club, where we invited community activists to a
barbecue every Saturday night, and sat around a campfire talking about what was happening.
From that club, we created a social milieu that sponsored a human rights speakers bureau in
local churches, developed a computer researchers network, and ran independents for political
office. All financed by garage sales and bake sales.
This social milieu grew from a handful of friends and neighbors into a political force that took
over our city and county governments, published its own community newspaper, and began
repairing relations with nearby American Indian tribes that had been abused for a couple
centuries. Not bad for a group of radicals without a pot to piss in.
CM: Jay, who were some of the people that influenced you most?
JT: Paul de Armond, Public Good Project research director from 1994-2007 my partner for
eighteen years, until his untimely passing in 2013 unquestionably influenced the direction of
my intellectual pursuits and orientation toward public service. Bill Wassmuth, who in the 1990s
led Northwest Coalition Against Malicious Harassment the most effective human rights
network in the US and passed away in 2002, demonstrated for me the importance of nurturing
the involvement of people of faith in the human rights movement.
Rudolph C. Ryser, chair of the Center for World Indigenous Studies and architect of the field of
study known as Fourth World Geopolitics, welcomed me with open arms as an associate scholar
in 2005 after completing my masters in humanities and leadership and published my work
at Fourth World Journal, which exposed my thinking to a global academic and Indigenous
audience. David Ronfeldt, a senior analyst at RAND Corporation, and author of Tribes
Institutions Markets Networks: A Framework About Societal Evolution, as well as The Zapatista
Social Netwar in Mexico, perhaps more than anyone provided me with a top-view of
communications in conflict.

Guy Debord, author of The Society of the Spectacle, afforded me a model for analyzing social
settings essential to forming an estimate of the situation. Native American novelists like Leslie
Marmon Silko, N. Scott Momaday, and Ray A. Young Bear inspired me to write more poetically,
in a way that involved honoring what author Jamake Highwater called The Primal Mind: Vision
and Reality in Indian America. William Shakespeare and Jay Ward (creator of Rocky &
Bullwinkle) rounded out my appreciation of consciousness-raising in popular formats.
CM: What are you working on now?
JT: Id like to find a home for Church and State my series on religious hysteria in America
and the spiritual warfare of Puritanical conservatism against socialism and the Indigenous
peoples Movement in an anthology on the Religious Right, or perhaps in a special issue of
Fourth World Journal.21 That, and A Mandate from God: Christian White Supremacy in the US
which examines Christian Identity doctrine, the driving force of the Anti-Indian Movement
would be useful for Indigenous communities and their civil society friends in understanding what
theyre up against.22
Other than that, I spend most of my time mentoring other writers, helping them to gain a topview of social conflict, and cultivating in them an appreciation of the theater arts involved in
political pageantry.
CM: Whats next?
JT: The social netwar associated with the upcoming World Conference on Indigenous Peoples
should start cranking up soon, as should the propaganda related to the Peoples Climate Change
March and the sophistry of the World Summit on Indigenous Philanthropy. All three take place in
New York between September 20 and 26, so it ought to be a real three-ring circus, especially
with all the public relations puppets from the non-profit industrial complex swarming for media
attention to keep their foundation grants flowing.
Im also monitoring media for new developments in the Wall Street v. Coast Salish netwar in the
carbon corridor conflict on the Salish Sea between Seattle and Vancouver, where the fossil fuel
exporters plan to ramp up operations to expand shipping of Tar Sands bitumen, Bakken Shale oil
and Powder River Basin coal to Asia. The coal exporters were involved in helping the Tea Party
promote Anti-Indian racism and resentment there last year, so its one of the Fourth World hot
spots I keep an eye on.
One of the things I found astonishing about the Salish Sea conflict, was that the local peace and
justice groups never said a word about this organized racism taking place in their community,
leaving it to one of my investigative journalism proteges to expose the sordid affair. Even when
CERA, the Ku Klux Klan of Indian country came to town, the Quaker/Unitarian milieu
people I usually associate with righteous courage kept completely silent. It was as though they
had buried their heads in the sand, wishing it would all go away.

The peace people evidently have no problem turning out crowds to protest invading Iraq or
bombing Gaza, but then dont lift a finger to confront bigotry in their own hometown. I find that
very disturbing.
When my referenced colleague was attacked by the coal consortium spokesman for her expos,
there was actually quite a bit of cowardly behavior by local environmental activists, including
blaming her for bearing this unsettling news. Based on my experience, this is unfortunately not
all that uncommon.
CM: What advice, if any, do you have for young writers?
JT: Read, travel, and study. I learn a lot about storytelling, language and vocabulary, for
instance, by reading mystery novels or watching a play.
Dont limit yourself to one genre to find your rhythm and voice. I switched from long-form
essays when I started writing editorials. People have short attention spans; you need to grab them
with your opening sentence.
Working with words is serious business. They serve as tools of social organization, as weapons
of war, and as means of manipulation. Depending on how they are used, words can cause
horrendous harm or great good.
Working with words can gain one respect, renown, and reward, but it can also generate
resentment. Not all messages are appreciated.
Learning to use words effectively requires an understanding of the principles of communication,
especially in what is termed netwar, which assumes that all communication in all its dimensions
is contested. Words are meant to achieve, and as propositions in the arena of human
consciousness, they will be confronted.
For those lacking a background in journalism or literature, manuals on such topics as briefings
are worth looking at.23
Writing is essentially storytelling; the narrative orients an audience toward a point of view or
perception of reality. Based on that perception, an inspired audience can become further
educated, make efforts at organizing others, and participate in community actions for social
Competing narratives redistribute political power.
Its also true that the more integrity you have as a writer, the fewer friends you will have. Those
you do have will be worth the sacrifice, but human frailties among colleagues that self-censor, in
order to avoid criticism or pursue a steady paycheck, can be disheartening.
If you do what has to be done, without expecting gratitude or recognition, youll experience less
grief. Telling the truth has to be its own reward; otherwise youll be sadly disappointed.

[Cory Morningstar is an independent investigative journalist, writer and environmental activist,

focusing on global ecological collapse and political analysis of the non-profit industrial
complex. She resides in Canada. Her recent writings can be found on Wrong Kind of Green, The
Art of Annihilation, Political Context, Counterpunch, Canadians for Action on Climate Change
and Countercurrents. Her writing has also been published by Bolivia Rising and Cambio, the
official newspaper of the Plurinational State of Bolivia.]