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The Whistle-Blowers are the 2002 Time Magazine Persons of the Year
December 22, 2002 issue (at http://www.time.com/time/personoftheyear/2002).
The significance of this was reported in the Minneapolis Star Tribune on December 22, 2002, centering on the one of these whistleblowers (http://www.startribune.com/stories/484/3549161.html), who is from Minneapolis. But she is not the only whistleblower in Minneapolis. Ron Edwards, acting as a conscience of Minneapolis, achieves the same thing in his book, The Minneapolis Story, Through My Eyes, as he plays the role of whistleblower on Minneapolis regarding its education, housing, jobs, racism, blowing the whistle on both Blacks and Whites, Republicans and Democrats, any and all who block equal access and equal opportunity for the inner city Blacks of Minneapolis (as he tells the Minneapolis Story which could just as easily be called the story of every inner city in America).
Rons story continues at http://www.citypages.com/databank/23/1151/article10965.asp, the cover story for the Christmas issue of City Pages newspaper in Minneapolis, as well as in the Black newspaper, the Spokesman-Recorder, in its cover story, “Ron rocks the boat again,”
The most famous whistleblower is probably Ernie Fitzgerald (about the C5A), who said that whistle blowing is “committing the truth.” Ron sees the Black press as the modern media equivalent of “truth tellers.” Excerpts from his book on the truth telling of Black newspapers have been placed elsewhere on the two web sites for this book, the books site and the publishers site, www.BeaconOnTheHill.com.
Whistleblowers can have a hard time of it. People often dont want the truth. When Ernie Fitzgerald blew the whistle, Now I want to address some further background as it relates to whistle-blowing in general and, in particular, to the most recent case of Minneapolis whistle-blowing, Ron Edwards book he was fired and his life made into a horror story for 5 years until he could, in court, reclaim his job and his lost back pay. His concern was defense of the country and spending all defense dollars on defense of the country not defense of bureaucracy. Ron Edwards, as well as the Time persons of the year, are the latest in a long line of courageous whistleblowers, including Billy Mitchell re the military and the China Hands re the true state of Chang Kai Sheck. Lets remember how Ernie Fitzgerald saw whistle blowing: as “committing the truth.” Ron Edwards, in The Minneapolis Story, Through My Eyes, is likewise involved in “committing the truth.” And this is why individuals and institutions dont like what he does, for “he does not settle for the status quo,” and “he does not conform.”
Thus, in the same way that Time covers the women who took huge risks to blow the whistle on what went wrong at WorldCom, Enron and the FBI, so too does Ron Edwards, as a whistleblower, expose what has been going wrong in Minneapolis regarding the DFL (Chapters 11-13), the NAACP and the Urban League (Chapter 14), the University of Minnesota (Chapter 10), the Mayor and the City Council (Chapters 11-13), the Courts (Chapter 3), kicking out the Vikings, the peoples’ team (Chapter 15), and how they have let the people down, especially Blacks of the inner city, in terms of education (Chapter 7), housing (Chapter 8), contracting and job hiring (Chapter 9), and the current attempt to scuttle mediation between the people and their police, as “unrest and disturbance” are the “status quo price Minneapolis is willing to pay” to keep Blacks in their place (Chapter 16). The key areas are education and jobs. Regarding the latter: the city is supposed to make sure all who are supposed to be using minority contractors and labors in construction do so, and yet when asked about the level of compliance in September of 2002, the city had no idea. Why? Because the city has not been truthful and faithful to all the people. The City looks the other way when Blacks are not used in construction, such as on the $90 million jail project, but seems all to happy, in its own War on Drugs as War on Young Black men to then use them at the jail, as prisoners (Chapters 9 and 16). And yet Ron does more than just blow the whistle: he presents the building blocks for resolving all of these issues too (Chapters 1, 4, 5, 17, Conclusion, and Interlude 16).
For many in bureaucracy (governmental or corporate), their first mission is self-serving: preserve the agency/department/company budget, job security, and retirement benefits. Anyone who gets in the way of that by telling the truth is ignored as long as possible and fought when they cant ignore, often through false statements used to discredit the whistleblower. Add to that, in terms of government agencies, that most government employees now often control things through union regulations so that unions really determine how bureaus will be run (the most visible is the school system) and the task is daunting. Ron has taken on that daunting task in his book. Bureaucracies too often first work to maintain their size and wealth and their continued existence of what they call their “essence” before dealing with their actual mission (and often abort the mission if the choice is them or the mission). They want autonomy and minimal uncertainty (see http://web.mit.edu/17.423/www/Misperception.PDF). As this same web site notes, bureaucracies operate through self glorifying myths (they are needed), whitewashing myths (to conceal errors), and by creating myths to malign others who would criticize or find fault in them (as was done to Ernie and the three women now on the cover of Time, and has been done as is again being done to Ron Edwards). You can read about the ongoing attempt to commit truth telling by whistle blowing at the POGO (Project On Government Oversight) web site, http://www.pogo.org/p/x/aboutus.html. Remember the famous cartoon character of the same name, and one of his most famous lines: “we have met the enemy and he is us.” The POGO site will curl your hair. This is not new. And is it far more respectable than in Fitzgeralds day, although government and corporate bureaucracies still fight it. Amazon dot com lists 26 books on whistle blowing. Yet few want to really hear about it. They dont want to have to change.
Look at the recent election at the Minneapolis branch of the NAACP that Ron writes about, for example. Despite their complaints about Florida, the Minneapolis NAACP disallowed many Black voters, so that, in the end, 85% of the voters who voted for the new President were White, not Black. See the press release on this elsewhere on this site.
The academy (colleges and universities) does the same. Professors get cashiered (or not hired) if they dont hold to the ideological myths sought by the departments, with the ideology being more important than truth (at one time the ideology was to the right; today it is to the left; the need, of course, is to give room to both sides). Much “revisionist” history is written years, decades or half centuries later, when letting the truth out cant hurt those now in charge; only then is it allowed to help bring corrections/adjustments without blaming anyone living, as all the principals have died.
When John Anslinger was head of Prohibition he had quite an empire (Elliot Ness reported to his office). When Prohibition was repealed Anslingers bureaucratic empire was threatened. He used a headline from New Orleans about a Mexican going berserk and killing another (actually he was drinking) and blamed it on the marijuana in his pocket and went before Congress to declare the danger from the “killer weed.” They got the AMA to reverse its earlier position about marijuana medicinal uses, and then it all grew like Topsy, so that in NYC, for example, their exists draconian laws that put even first offenders in jail for life for marihuana if they have more than is allowed to have in their possession. This, of course, is part of what many Blacks today call the War on Young Black Men (Whites call it the War on Drugs), as Ron discusses in Chapter 3 and especially in Chapter 9. Even the work in the early 1970s of the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse seemed to be more interested in maintaining the problem not eradicating it: just keep it contained in the ghettos and out of the suburbs. This is what we see today as the War on Drugs has become the War on Young Black Men (see especially the end of Rons Chapter 9).
Another parallel to the Time story on whistle-blowing, helps in explaining some of the dynamics in Ron Edwards book, The Minneapolis Story, Through My Eyes, and that is the bureaucratic parallel in regards to housing (Chapter (8). A billion dollars for 52 units. This is also in part because of the governments position, ever since the 1968 Kerner Commission, has been that Blacks cant make it on their own so they need government programs (discussed several times in Rons book). But no whistle blower came through. And, of course, to protect such bureaucracies, Jackie Cherryhomes took most of her files when she lost the election (see Chapter 11). Rons report of the NAACP and Urban League (Chapter 14, the longest chapter of his book) explains the same thing (just think: 30,000 Blacks in Minneapolis but less that 400 belong to the NAACP, and then Whites are brought in to vote to keep the organization exactly the way Ron describes it in Chapter 14: serving the White masters, not the Black community). When you look how many of those active in the Urban League and NAACP hold government jobs or jobs related to it, you can see why they dont like Rons book, as they have become part of the “Blacks cant make it on their own without government help and guidance” mentality. It also works in reverse, when Luther Darville was made the scapegoat for the university (Chapter 10). And it explains why the chosen path as Ron outlines in his book is to freeze Blacks out: to give them fish but not allow them to learn how to fish on their own, for the White fisherman likes getting paid to have their jobs doing the actual fishing. If Blacks were allowed to fish on their own all those bureaucratic anglers would be out of a job and the government would be out of those tax dollars.
The current big Minneapolis controversy, mediation between citizens group and the police, is unfolding the same way it did for the Time whistleblowers: the police dont want discussion; they have their own self serving myths, whitewashing myths (awards of valor to those who kill Black citizens), and the PR to malign those who speak against or question them. Ron discusses this in Chapter 16, where he states that “Unrest, Disturbance: The Status Quo Price Minneapolis Is Willing to Pay,” which is a huge statement of whistle blowing.
Finally, you see this same dynamic in the Trent Lott affair. Neither party wants to admit to the racism in both of their parties (see Rons Interludes 2 and 10, in which Ron discusses the Star Tribune and Mpls.St.Paul Magazine pieces on their admission of the racism in Minneapolis). So as both parties have tremendously racist elements, which Ron discusses and details in his book, each party is eager to refer to the Lott affair as “racial insensitivity.” Thats like when Gerald Ford, in his Presidential Debate with Jimmy Carter, said Poland was a free state (which, according to the diplomatic double-talk it was, when all watchers of the debate knew surely it was not). One of the books Ron discusses, Only Permanent Interests, tells the story of Blacks in Congress through 1990, exposing the systematic racism of the Democratic Party against Blacks in general and the Democratic Black caucus in particular (for the history since 1990 read Steve Perrys recent City Pages piece “Spanking the Donkey” which brings the history of the Democratic Party sticking it to Blacks through 2002, ). For the Republicans, look no further than the Southern Strategy, which they are trying to absolve but just cant bring themselves to fully stand up to doing so. Well know from the planks (national, state, local) in 2004 whether their protestations and claims today are serious or not). Many in both parties dont want to face the issue of race and thus deny it exists and glaze over the continuing damage being done to BOTH Whites and Blacks by continuing, whether “de jure” or “de facto,” Americas caste system (see the 12-22-02 story in the NY Times.
So Ron is the whistle blower for Minneapolis. But the kind of “conspiracy of silence” that another columnist has written about continues: the White press wont report or review the book and the Black Leadership Summit is urgings its people to not read the book. Why? Because Ron blows the whistle on both. Indeed, as noted above, in another place on this web site, we have placed excerpts from Rons book about the difference he sees between the Black press and White press, and why quite often the only truth missing in the White mainstream papers will be found in Black newspapers.
And so Ron is committing the truth in love, or, what one person in South Africa advocates: the politics of love. In Chapters 5, 17, Conclusion, and Interlude 16, Ron outlines specific ways to bring all the opposing sides together (White and Black, rich and poor, police and people, opposing White factions as well as opposing Black factions). His suggestion of creating a set of Sullivan Principles for Minneapolis has a wonderful pedigree in the work of Leon Sullivan (Chapter 14). And Ron outlines a series of yeses and noes about which everyone should be able to agree. That establishes a common ground of shared values for Republican and Democrat alike, for Blacks and Whites, government and people, profit and not for profit, as he outlines a marvelous set of criteria for evaluating public policy in theory and practice: the common yeses to which all can agree to want and the common noes to which all can agree they dont want. The conflict comes in the “how” to achieve the “what.” Through these yeses and noes, Ron has given Minneapolis a tool to enable it to rise above the differences in order to ensure justice and fairness for all. All Ron seeks is equal opportunity, NOT equal results. Every athletic event has winners and losers. All Ron is asking for, understandably and rightly so, is a level playing field. Each person, agency and company must ask themselves: to what degree do they agree with Rons yeses and noes. How they answer will illustrate the size of the problem.
But Rons book will definitely enrich the lives of those of Minneapolis and Minnesota, especially the wonderfully positive suggestions and proposals he makes in Chapters 5, 17, Conclusion, and Interlude 16. And please note the clearest description of his love for Minneapolis and Minnesota that he provides in Chapter 15, as he places very positive things along side his whistle blowing. You can see this tribute to Minneapolis as he writes about the wonderful, admirable history of Minnesota in general and Minneapolis in particular, which is in contrast to how Blacks in the inner city are treated.
This is an extraordinary book by an extraordinary man, a book Beacon On The Hill Press is proud to publish. One expects to read books by Black scholars. But rarely does a life-long community activist, White or Black, write such a story from a street level perspective and yet do so in a way that it still fits in with those writing from universities. This is an extraordinary achievement. Ron Edwards writes about the results of what has been happening in real and concrete terms regarding the past and how it has affected the present and the unfolding of the future in a way scholarly works cannot do. We need both. We have many from the university and few from the street. Ron helps to fill that void. And yet Ron does more than just blow the whistle: he presents the building blocks for resolving all of these issues too (Chapters 1, 4, 5, 17, Conclusion, and Interlude 16). In other words, Ron Edwards brings an amazing complimentarity to all of the fine books written on race, race relations, and how to resolve the unsolved race issues. One reader has said that “There should be a course in every liberal arts program in the country that uses that book as its mainstay.” Another has suggested it should place in the finals if not actually win book awards for significant new books. We ask that you, the reader, after you have read The Minnesota Story, Through My Eyes by Ron Edwards, contact us with your reactions to the book, using the Email button on this site or mail directly to Beacon On The Hill Press.
The Minneapolis Story could also be the story of any city in America.
This is being posted during the Christmas season, and so Beacon On The Hill Press wishes everyone the best of Holiday Greetings, including a very Merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year. May that joy and peace some day be for all people around the world. Until that time, may we all continue to encourage developing it among all peoples in Minneapolis.
Beacon On The Hill Press
Publishers of The Minneapolis Story, Through My Eyes, by Ron Edwards, as told to Peter Jessen
Ron hosts “Black Focus” on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm. Formerly head of the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission and the Urban League, he continues his “watchdog” role for Minneapolis. Order his book, hear his voice, read his solution papers, and read his between columns “web log” at www.TheMinneapolisStory.com.
Permission is granted to reproduce The Minneapolis Story columns, blog entires and solution papers. Please cite the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder and www.TheMinneapolisStory.com for the columns. Please cite www.TheMinneapolisStory.com for blog entries and solution papers.
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