How Do We Fight Back? Turn the Other Cheek? Take a Toke?

By Rudy Acuna

We must recognize that government is not the problem — we are. Government only works when people are involved and frankly we are not. We believe what the media tells us, ignoring that it is controlled by the one percent. Through the media and the outright bribes, the Kochs and their tribe control a majority of our elected officials — from local elected public officials to the Supreme Court, to the president.

Meanwhile, we dream of nirvana, a place of continuous pleasure. For many the consuming issue has become pot, and the dream that when it is legalized they can go to bed taking one last hit before they sleep, and then light up again to usher in another day.

 

They stumble through life with the more ambitious among them dreaming of becoming part of the system seeking to become “part of the solution rather than the problem.” This scenario is played out on Facebook with Chicanas/os posing with politicos smugly believing that they are doing their best for their people.

Tragically, the will to fight back has been taken out of them. They have been domesticated by the old biblical sayings such as turn the other cheek – and sayings that have never been followed such as “the meek shall inherit the earth” — rules written by the one percent to appeal to pendejos during the early stages of Christianity.

Even activists are conditioned to believe that it is futile to fight back – join the system instead of resisting it. They are reduced to just wanting to take their toke or take a vacation so they can escape reality.

The truth be told, it is frustrating to fight back. It is aggravating to constantly fight with vendors and government brokers over trivial problems.

 

My family just spent over a year fighting Kaiser Permanente over a claim that should have taken five minutes to resolve. The same is true of the Bank of America and the government bureaucracy that rely on frustrating you, knowing that very few people will fight back!

 

However, the materialist side of me has taught me that if I want to change things I have to fight for changes on earth and not nirvana. Materialism has given me a sense of community. It instructs me that the more education people have the more responsibility they have to change reality – change does not happen by escaping.

In the initial stages of Chicana/o studies, it was expected that full professors would take most of the burden of pressing the administration. They were the most protected by the institution. Unfortunately, this did not always happen and some complained that those at the forefront got all the credit forgetting that leadership requires visibility and sacrifice.

 

A factor in the success of CSUN’s Chicana/o Studies Department has been its refusal to turn the other cheek. It took criticizing Chicanas/os and Latinos who betrayed the interests of the student community. Although distasteful, Chicana/o Studies is currently criticizing the administration for disrespecting us and distorting the truth. The current controversy may take us over the cliff; however, the alternatives are to turn the other cheek or take a deep puff on a joint.

The truth has become an obsession with me. I am currently exposing a lack of respect by the California Attorney General’s office that is supposed to vet judicial appointments. I won’t bore the reader with a litany of judicial improprieties of the state and federal court system. However, the system supposedly vets judicial appointments to insure the appointment of impartial judges.

This past month I received an email from Michael E. Whitaker, a Supervising Deputy Attorney General in the Employment & Administrative Mandate Section of the State Attorney General’s Office. It began “I am in the process of vetting Judge Audrey Collins who has been nominated by Governor Brown to be an Associate Justice of the California Court of Appeal.” Whitaker wanted to speak to me.  I made arrangements for him to call me at my home.

However, Whitaker intentionally shined me on after I made my feelings about Collins known – evidently he was not serious about vetting her. I followed up with numerous emails that he ignored. In my email correspondence I made it clear that Collins was the most biased judge that I had encountered.

 

This was based on the fact that she did not recuse herself during my trial although she had personal and professional ties to the defendants — the University of California and its counsel. The defenses’ lead counsel was a personal and professional friend of Judge Collins and he wrote a letter of nomination for her during her appointment to the federal bench. The vice chancellor at the University of California Santa Barbara at the time of the controversy was her law professor at UCLA and she had professional and personal ties with the UC, i.e., she was active in the UCLA law alumni association that through Ralph Ochoa and others played a major role in my case. From the beginning she was antagonistic toward us.

At trial, Collins allowed her clerks to run wild; they sat and ate with defendants’ counsel. Her head clerk took a count for the defendants’ team and she seemed as if she were interviewing for a position with the UC. Collins’ rulings were questionable; she severely limited the number of documents my attorneys could present. As the plaintiff I had the burden of proof, and this was especially harmful because I had two causes of action.

When the draw of jurors appeared to go our way, Collins dismissed three minority jurors saying that it would not be fair to have too many minorities on the panel. At the time having minority jurors was an anomaly — rarely if ever were white jurors dismissed because there were too many white jurors on the panel.

At the end of the trial she had a group of mostly Latino prisoners led into the court room in chains and dressed in prison garb. Judge Collins was visibly shaken by the verdict that went in my favor. When my counsel spoke to the foreman of the jury he commented on how solicitous the judge was of the defendants but he thought it was like a criminal case where “the judge was required to protect the defendants’ rights.”  Collins never cleared this relationship up.

 

It is difficult to prosecute a case against someone that has “deep pockets.” The UC spent $5 million on the case. Evidently, Whitaker was not in the mood to hear the truth. So I feel that it is my moral duty to expose his office and his malfeasance. Once appointed, appellate judges for all practical purposes are on the bench for life.

If those of us who have benefitted most from the system do not complain and expose elected officials, judges like Collins and public officials like Michael Whitaker who should? Not everyone has equal access to resources.

 

A student once told me that she admired me because it seemed as if I was always getting arrested for a cause and that her father seemed mute. I pointed out to her that if her father missed a day of work, her family missed a meal whereas I could list the arrest on my resume as “community service.”

The problem was not her father, but the Latino leaders posing for photos – like my father used to say smiling, “como changos comiendo
caca.”

 

Rodolfo Francisco Acuña, Ph.D., is an historian, professor emeritus, and scholars of Chicano studies, at CSUN.

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July 17, 2014  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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