Incognito Press

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Archive for the ‘revolution’ Category

Heal your Wound, Transform the World

Posted by E on May 6, 2015

By now it seems that everybody in the world has seen yesterday’s Toronto Star article, which featured me and my journey toward understanding hate and its visceral, personal roots. I’m very grateful that Rachel Mendleson, a journalist at Canada’s largest-circulated newspaper, saw value in what I am trying to accomplish and worked so hard to share it with others.

Metro Toronto Screenshot 2015-05-06 2

The sad and painful truth is this: I have had hundreds of hits on my blog and website yesterday, but not many donations to the book campaign mentioned in the Toronto Star article. Which is the whole crux of the matter – for the last two months I’ve begged, borrowed and bothered people in order to fundraise for a project that I truly believe will make a difference in this world. But, with the exception of a few close, dear friends and a handful of people who believe in me, it’s all gone on deaf ears.

I cannot do this without your help. I’m not just talking money here – although without it, the research involved in this book simply cannot take place. But even dropping a word of encouragement. Sharing the story with others. Telling people on Facebook. Or just believing in me.

Anything at all.

But until now, everybody – yes, even YOU reading this – is probably thinking, Hey, this sounds like a cool project, so SOMEBODY’S going to help out. But the reality is, nobody will. We live in an age of indifference and self-absorption, where a guy on Kickstarter gets $50,000 to buy ingredients for a potato salad, and worthwhile projects and causes are bumped from the limelight in favour of potato-salad-guy or kong-fu-baby. It’s the reality of our time, where the trivial and the insipid have come to dominate social culture as we define it today.

So that somebody you’re thinking might be able to help me, after you leave this blog – well, that’s YOU.

There’s nobody else. If I had a dollar, even five dollars, for everybody who has checked out my blog over the last month but didn’t contribute anything, my book would have been funded by now.

There is just me. And you. And this moment – where you can decide to help me or you can walk away. This is, after all, your choice. But please don’t diminish that choice by assuming that there’s somebody else in line to help me out.

Because there isn’t.

If you DO decide to walk away, I don’t resent you. In fact, I’m kind of wishing I could walk away from it also. But the thing is, I can’t. My entire childhood and my adolescence was filled with hate, abuse and continuous trauma, and I realize today, in my 40th year, that running away from ugliness changes nothing. It’s cosmetic surgery of the heart, but doesn’t repair the wound inside your soul.

My wound goes deeper than my own childhood – it goes into the lives of my parents, and grand-parents, and great-grandparents before them. An epigenetic history of hate, oppression and suppression of the self. I carry in my blood the genetic memory of six hundred years of hatred, pogroms, wars, abuses and oppression. It’s a huge family tree of despair and longing to be remembered. Hence the name of my book.

remember meme

In Remember Your Name, I’m digging back into the personal transformations of innocents into monsters, as well as digging back further into the history of hidden Jews and forced converts (Sephardic conversos) in Europe, and the internalization of hatred and the transformation of victim into oppressor.

We see the consequences of this legacy of hate everywhere today – oppressed becomes oppressor, persecuted people turn the brutalization they suffered into outward brutality – from the peasant workers’ 20th century revolutions that turned into communist dictatorships, to the Jewish-Arab conflict in the Middle East. Whether it means torching a police car or turning around and inflicting violence upon someone else, we as human beings are collective beings – which means that, even at our worst, we cannot constrain our emotions. They will spill out, for good and for bad, and impact the universe around us.

Right before I converted to Judaism in 2013, I had to write an essay for the rabbis at my Beit Din (Rabbinical Council) to explain why I wanted to become a Jew. This is a segment of that essay:

“My father’s denial of his religion and heritage was like an invisible wall that kept me from my past, but with each day and each hour, the wall becomes increasingly transparent. The bricks fall apart and I begin to see a glimpse of something beautiful and mystical on the other side. The shadows of those great-grandparents and the whispers of their lives comes through to me, through me, and out into my very own existence.

I feel terribly sad that I have had thousands of Jewish ancestors from Poland, Russia, Galicia, Ukraine and Romania, whose truth, lives and stories have been wiped off in only two generations. One hundred years is all it took to wipe out my family’s connection to their own lineage and heritage. I look at the world and wonder how many others walk around unaware that the blood of Sephardic conversos or Ashkenazim forced to hide their religion runs through their veins. But I aim to reclaim that heritage.”

By reclaiming this heritage, I reclaim the pain and the beauty of everyone whose blood gave birth to me today. Maybe I’m being idealistic or naïve, but I keep feeling that if I could SOMEHOW depict how pain and oppression, innocence and brutality, are so closely intertwined, then I might be able to show that there is no such thing as black or white in this world.

There is no ME or YOU. There is no Jew, Arab or Christian. We all laugh, we all cry. We all bleed.

We are ONE. Your pain is my pain, and my memories are your memories now.

Within each and every one of us there is the potential to be a victim and a victimizer, a tormentor and a tormented soul. There is love, and there is hate. And it is the uniqueness and beauty of our human experience which allows you to make that choice – the choice to get involved, to show kindness and compassion, or the choice to walk away.

Ultimately, it’s your choice.

Posted in ancestry, canada, commentary, hate, heritage front, history, jewish, journalism, love, media, news, racism, religion, revolution, romania, toronto, writer, writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The most important book I’ll ever write, and it needs YOU

Posted by E on March 20, 2015

remember meme

“This story needs to be told and widely read” – reknowned human rights lawyer Paul Copeland

Dear friends, supporters and occasional voyeurs 🙂

everyone who knows me is probably aware of how reticent I am to discuss the details of whatever it is I’m working on – it’s a weird idiosyncrasy common mainly among writers and is the result of a befuddling combination of nerves, superstition (if I talk about it, I’ll jinx it!) and just plain discomfort at being asked questions that demand answers you haven’t quite worked out yourself.

But it’s time for my manuscript to come out of its closet and introduce itself – until now, only a handful of close friends ever knew of its existence. Until last night, I kept it under wraps for many reasons – but now circumstances force me to appeal to all of you and share my first-ever crowd-funding effort for this book.

Please, PLEASE take a moment to click on this link and check out the detailed story behind this manuscript. I feel so strongly about it that I have no doubt it’s the most important, and powerful, book I will ever write. So please – even if you can’t spare a dollar, at least share the Project link among your friends, relatives and whoever you think would be interested in supporting a book that will hopefully make a difference.

REMEMBER YOUR NAME is a memoir that depicts a journey into the roots of hate, identity, human trafficking and self-discovery in Eastern Europe.

It’s also the story of my family, the story of my country, the story of my people.

We all have our own story, but that story doesn’t belong to us: it’s the story of the hometown we came from, the people who gave birth to us and the people who came before them; the kids we went to school with, the neighbors across the road. It’s the story of every individual who came into our path, who added their own presence, experience, emotions, light and darkness to the universe that became our own.

I picked GoFundMe over Kickstarter because of its flexible funding model – which means every single dollar you donate WILL actually reach me, whether I meet my funding objective or not. So please be part of my team and together, let’s make this book happen!

Remember Your Name is a memoir about memory, heartbreak and belonging. Tying together six hundred years of revolutions, cruelty, despair and transformation, this is a luminous journey of love, loss and hate into the heart of a memory that refuses to be forgotten.

I am deeply grateful for anything you can do to help. Thank you.

Posted in abuse, ancestry, hate, jewish, love, manuscript, media, revolution, writer, writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

An Open Letter to Canadian Media

Posted by E on February 19, 2015

Elisa and RT bookFV

My name is Elisa Hategan and I’m a Canadian writer and freelance journalist. Twenty years ago, I was a teenage member of an Ontario-based domestic terrorist group called the Heritage Front. They were a radical white supremacist, neo-Nazi lobby group with ties to organizations that connected into parliamentary politics. After turning against them, collecting information and testifying against group leaders in court, the Toronto Sun broke the story that one of the group’s leaders was a CSIS agent, Grant Bristow. For a period of approx. 4 years, the Heritage Front had been founded and funded in large part by Canada’s own intelligence service, CSIS (Canadian Intelligence Security Service) – the Canadian equivalent of the CIA. They called it Operation Governor.

Hategan article Grant Bristow CSIS

After the official inquiry resulted in a whitewashed report that was slammed by both left-wing activists and Preston Manning, then-leader of the Reform Party which was essentially destroyed by revelations that Heritage Front members had infiltrated its ranks, I went into hiding and tried to forget what had happened. Over the years, however, I realized it was a story I had to tell. So in 2010 I wrote a memoir titled Race Traitor and entered into negotiations with Penguin Canada over the acquisition rights, but after a month and no solid offer I walked away from the negotiation table. I should add that no other publishers, big or small press, were interested in publishing it. “The issue of white supremacy has had its day” Douglas & McIntyre. “ I can’t see a broad market for the book.” – Random House. Last year I ended up self-publishing it: Race Traitor: The True Story of Canadian Intelligence’s Greatest Cover-Up

In the month after the book came out, I was interviewed by a senior journalist at the Globe & Mail, Colin Freeze, as well as a Director of Programming at the CBC here in Toronto. They both expressed great interest in covering the story, but afterwards came back at me with excuses that senior editors were reluctant to go to print (or, as in the case of CBC, to air) with it – mainly because it was an old, irrelevant story since it happened 20 years ago. Also, there was the pesky issue that in today’s political climate, and according to Minister of Justice Peter MacKay’s own admission, only religion-based violence can be considered terrorism, i.e. only Muslims can be terrorists. In other words – when a Christian massacres almost 100 defenceless youth on Utoya Island in Norway, murders innocents outside a Kansas City synagogue (on the heels of Holocaust-denier David Irving’s talk two weeks earlier), plots a Halifax Valentine’s Day massacre or shoots 3 innocent Muslims in Chapel Hill execution-style, they are not terrorists but misguided, lone misfits.

Just this past month, Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper (who in the 1980s was a member of the extreme right-wing Northern Foundation, which had Heritage Front and Reform Party members, along with skinheads, anti-abortionists, Holocaust-deniers and Conrad Black) has announced a new bill that essentially duplicates the NSA laws of arrest without warrant, anybody can be detained for a week under the pretext of “terrorism”, etc. Bill C-51 is extremely troubling, considering that they will be giving CSIS far greater powers than ever before, turning it into what many have called a “Secret Police” with far-reaching powers.

Given the context of Bill C-51, it didn’t surprise either myself or the numerous activists, anti-racists and aboriginal protesters I’ve communicated with, that we cannot get any mainstream press coverage in Canadian media. Telling the story of how Canada’s own intelligence agency formed a domestic terrorist group that stalked, harassed and assaulted several left-wing activists in the 1990s would be in direct conflict with what Stephen Harper’s government is attempting to pass into law – a law whose definition is so broad, so undefined, that anyone in direct opposition to our government’s interests (such as Aboriginal protesters and the Idle No More movement) would fall into the category of “terrorist.”

Under Bill C-51, ‪CSIS will have the power to: 1) detain people without charges for up to 7 days; 2) interfere with bank transactions and seize bank accounts if they are “suspected” of potential terror activity; 3) order the seizure of “terrorist propaganda” or order it deleted from an online source; 4) stop any passengers “suspected” of travelling overseas to commit a terror offence to be removed from a flight; 5) seal court proceedings; 6) make it illegal to “promote” or “counsel” terrorist activity – the definition of what this constitutes is, of course, left up to CSIS’ interpretation. Using “disruption warrants,” Canada’s spies will do just about anything: “enter any place or open or obtain access to any thing,” to copy or obtain any document, “to install, maintain, or remove any thing,” and, most importantly, “to do any other thing that is reasonably necessary to take those measures.”

Bill C-51 MUST be stopped, or at the very least re-examined. The repeated violations and more violations on the part of the former intelligence unit of the RCMP, which became CSIS, which evolved into CSEC, cannot be overlooked. Neither is Harper’s ongoing use of CSIS as his personal domain pet whenever he wants to keep tabs on anti-fracking protesters, Green Party members, or whoever is opposed to the Conservative Party’s mandate. Such collusion between government and intelligence agencies is insidious at best, and will be used politically to defeat (or even imprison) political opponents.

History has already showed us what can happen when agents run amok: Grant Bristow’s handlers had been inherited from the same RCMP department which preceded CSIS’s inception. Back in the 1970s they were burning barns in Quebec while blaming it on the FLQ. After that scandal ensued and RCMP intelligence was disbanded, they moved over to the newly-minted CSIS and taught neo-Nazis and violent skinheads (some of whom were part of the now-disbanded Airborne Regiment) intelligence techniques, thus contributing to assaults, stalking, harassment and worse. Since they got away with all of the above, I cannot imagine what will happen when they gain autonomy.

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There is a wide amount of evidence, press clippings and media sources that back up my memoir, as well as the testimony of activists who had been terrorized. Please consider featuring the story of CSIS’s establishment of the Heritage Front in your media outlets – Canadians have a right to know what their own government has done in the past, in order to prevent it from ever happening again.

Please let me know if you require further information and/or documentation, which I would be happy to provide.

Elisa

If you found this information useful, please consider dropping a dollar in my Patreon donation jar.

Posted in activism, freedom, hate, journalism, letter, news, ontario, politics, racism, revolution | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments »

The end of the Euro will be bloody, but inevitable

Posted by E on March 22, 2013

cyprus-banksCyprus bank queue

By now you’ve all heard about the latest European Union bailout conditions in Cyprus, and how banks froze all accounts in preparation to spring upon all individuals who hold money in Cyprus-based banks up to a 10% forceable deduction (6.75% for accounts totalling under 100,000 euros).

That is, if you hold money in a Cypriot bank, you will unequivocably lose up to 10% of it, no ifs, ands or buts. Why is this happening? For the good of the people, of course. Because Germany is holding your bailout hostage, and without doing as the Germans say and forking over your savings, you may have to drop out of the EU (which so many would consider a blessing). So with friends like Merkel/IMF, who needs enemies? Why bother invading a country anymore, when all you need to spread across Europe is to employ the aggressive tactics of a backalley money lender slash loan shark. The thing is, Merkel and her entourage at the IMF had originally demanded that Cyprus withhold all funds over 100,000 euros, but that was seen as too radical.

The euro will fall, of course. The question is, when – and I am of the opinion that it won’t be soon enough. Not soon enough to avoid more bloody riots in the streets, money being stolen out of the accounts of Cypriot, then Italian, then Spanish citizens — and rest assured, this move is inevitable, just as a rabid animal will thrash and attack anyone in its path rather than go crawl under a bush and just die, before succombing to its illness.

But the thing is, it won’t just fall because the Euro is an unsustainable fantasy and a neverending black hole. Not just because Germany’s domination brings more than a few ugly memories in mind of their invasion and dominance of so many other nations in WW2 (although there is no more need for armies these days; economical blackmail and entire countries taken hostage by their own EU-prostrating, always-deferring, fearful goverments is the de rigueur manner in which to conquer a nation these days).

What happened in Cyprus this week is unparalleled. It is the canary in a mine that signals the end of the European Union itself. Who wants to be bullied and controlled by the IMF, told how many hours they will need to work until age 70, have their pensions taken away and the money in their bank accounts confiscated? The EU is supposed to be a place of enlightenment, not a reincarnation of communist, stalinism, or fascism.

The Rubicon has been crossed; a domino effect has been set in motion by this unprecedented move and it will lead to a bloody, chaotic dissolution. We all must understand that even if Cyprus and Greece exit the EU in an orderly fashion, the sieve is fundamentally cracked and nothing can patch the irreversable damage that the EU model has done not only to people’s lives, but to the future relations between countries.

I’ve said this before, and I will say it forever more — people don’t want this. At the grassroots level, when you talk to the average Spaniard and Italian national in the street, even the average Romanian (who wanted to be in the EU probably more than anyone else) they all shake their heads. Nobody wants this imposed upon them; everybody dreams of the times when the lira and the peseta contributed to a better quality of life. Sure, it wasn’t perfect, and this is why everybody embraced the concept of the European Union with such zest, but after a decade of destruction to their quality of life, the rose-tinted glasses have come off.

People will begin to withdraw their moneys out of banks and going back to the old communist/socialist/wartime ways of hiding it in mattresses, converting it into gold, hiding it in a hole in their backyard, in a flower pot,  under a floorboard or a crack in the drywall. The Russian mafiosos who stored approximately 20% of all Cypriot bank withholdings will now inevitably withdraw all their profits en masse. The downward spiral of losses will further shake up the country, and fire up similarly-disadvantaged citizens of countries such as Greece, Spain and Italy to follow the same desperate measures to protect their savings. Both those with meager incomes and the billionaires will all take these measures, taking out funds in unparalleled amounts (the billionaires will, of course, store the rest of their assets in offshore accounts on some Caribbean island or another).

The diminishing funds in actual banks will speed up the inevitable. It will be ugly and many people will suffer unimaginable consequences, but there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the Euro will soon take its rightful place in the annals of history as the worst failed experiment in the history of the European continent. Let’s just hope they don’t take the rest of the world down with them.

cyprus woman

Posted in europe, news, politics, revolution | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Is traditional publishing the new vanity publishing?

Posted by E on August 27, 2012

Normally I don’t tend to highlight articles, even some of the juicy controversy surrounding Amazon vs the Apple, Big Six et al collusion. But this is far too interesting not to share with you folks.

This article written by Bernard Starr, professor at CUNY, came out this past week in The Huffington Post, and as I read it my neck started cramping from all the nodding in agreement that it provoked. Yes, I too have had friends who have shelved viable manuscripts because agents or publishers refused to look at them, instead of trying to make a commercial profit from something that had taken them lots of sweat, time (in some cases, years) and grief to write. Even when confronted with the reality of being able to both monetize your career AND reach a willing audience, many of my writer friends have decided to “hold out” for a publisher – and admitted that they just wanted to be published by a trad press, period – even if their print run was in the hundreds and they never saw a dime.

This is absurd.

It’s time to peel back the blindfold and look reality in the eye. No matter which side of the publishing precipice you happen to fall on, this article will give you a lot of food for thought. Yes, it’s provocative and may rub some readers the wrong way, but if it wasn’t controversial would you be reading it? And just in case the Huffington Post page disappears or gets archived, as it so oftens in online journalism, I’m going to reproduce it here.

The old vanity publishing offered authors who could not attract the interest of a traditional publisher an opportunity to get their  books published. The process was costly and often required that the author purchase large quantities of books. According to legend, garages throughout America are warehousing these dust-gathering volumes. Some so-called vanity books were written by competent writers who just couldn’t find a way into the mainstream; others were exercises in ego building — the books were sold or given away free to family members, friends and colleagues. These authors were willing to pay the price to boast, “I’m a published author.”

Commentators on the current upheaval in publishing have observed that many authors desperately seek a traditional  publisher when self-publishing would serve them far better. Traditional publishing has thus become, in many instances, the vanity choice. Does it make sense?

The new world of self-publishing has little in common with the old vanity publishing, but  for many writers it still bears the taint of vanity.  Self-publishing has not only democratized publishing, it has opened up the opportunity for authors to publish at low or no cost, own all the rights, control the pricing and timetable for publishing, and get their books listed for sale and distribution on major outlets and platforms — e.g. Amazon, kindle,  nook, other e-readers, Google and more. Royalties for self-published books can range from thirty to eighty percent (depending on ancillary services that are selected) compared to the 71/2 to 15 percent in traditional publishing. And if you are adept at Internet marketing, you can reach large targeted audiences for your books.

Fact is that authors no longer need a publisher. And more and more writers  are awakening to the realization that if  you are not a high-profile author who can command large sales, a traditional publisher will do little for you beyond  editing and printing your book. While it’s true that they will also distribute it to the waning number of brick-and-mortar bookstores — self-published books are not usually available in bookstores — the number that actually land on the shelves is surprisingly small. And the argument that self-published books are not widely reviewed in mainstream publications loses steam when you realize that only a tiny percent of traditionally published books are reviewed at all. Add to that the growing number of  prestigious venues that now review self-published books.  Publishers Weekly devotes a quarterly supplement to reviews of self-published books and  Kirkus  Reviews, as well, offers self- published authors the opportunity to have their books independently reviewed.  Then there are companies springing up like Blue Inc., where self-published authors can pay a small fee for unbiased reviews  that are posted on the  web.

Can you count on  a traditional publisher to substantially market your book? A prominent literary agent recently told me that unless an author receives a hefty advance of  $100,000 or more most publishers will do virtually no promotion, leaving it to authors to create and exploit their own platforms via social media and networking connections, workshops and webcasts.  So when you go the traditional-publishing route, you may well find yourself self-publishing without the benefits of self-publishing.

Yet many writers who would do just fine with self-publishing — and build a following — still refuse that choice; they continue to pursue a” real publisher.”  My friend Mike (not his real name — I don’t want to embarrass him) has been sitting on a completed  non-fiction manuscript for the last three years while going through several agents and running the manuscript past numerous editors.  They all agreed that he’s an outstanding writer, but publishers rejected his manuscript because he doesn’t have a platform or relevant credentials for his current book. Mike says he would be happy to publish with any traditional publisher, even if this meant  a small print run, no publicity and high pricing. The fact that his sales are likely to be low — thus creating a bad “track record” when he goes to publish another book — hasn’t deterred him from the wish to have a “name” publisher’s imprint.

I finally realized that Mike was representative of the new quest for vanity publishing. These writers  are willing to forego the  benefits of self-publishing for the unshakable belief in the “prestige” of  signing on with a “real publisher.”

If Mike would shed his prejudice, he couldn’t help but notice that an increasing number of successful traditionally published authors are choosing to self-publish. Barry Eisler’s rejection of a $500,000  advance to self-publish has encouraged other writers to take a fresh look at self-publishing. Amanda Hocking’s phenomenal success with self- publishing has had  a similar effect.

And Mike should listen to Theresa Ragan’s story.  For nineteen years she was mostly a stay-at-home mom raising four children — all the while penning romance novels.  But she got nowhere with a few agents and was turned down over a hundred times by publishers. Although she knew about self-publishing she dismissed it as a vanity club. In 2010, while surfing the web for a  job to help pay the bills, she stumbled on an article by a successful self-published author which prompted her to give it a shot (“what do I have to lose?”).  She hooked up with CreateSpace, the self-publishing arm of  Amazon.com and self -published her first book in March 2011 in both paperback and e-book formats. Within the first two months she was stunned by the sale of over two thousand  copies — and the sales continued to rise. To date, she has self-published four romance and two thriller novels with sales exceeding three hundred and fifty thousand copies. Theresa expects to cross the million dollar mark in royalties by March 2013. And the good news doesn’t stop there. Several top-line publishers are pursuing her.Thomas and Mercer, Amazon’s “traditional”  mystery and thriller line, will now republish her two thrillers. In my interview with Theresa Ragan on August 21, 2012, she said that prior to venturing into self-publishing, “I would have gratefully signed with any traditional publisher with no advance and a six percent royalty.” Lucky for Theresa that all the publishers passed on her.

A. J.  McDonald, communications manager at Lulu, another leading self-publishing company, related similar success stories. Lulu has also attracted five formerly traditionally published bestselling authors who are now self-publishing and still making the best seller lists — with greater royalties and  total control of all the rights.

Will the bulk of self-published authors match Theresa Ragan’s spectacular success?  Of course not — and many don’t even have that intention. If you do, you must first write a marketable book, one that will appeal to easily identified readers. In fiction, that often means mystery, suspense, and romance; so-called literary fiction tends to do less well, since the audience is much smaller. In the nonfiction world, books on subjects with a niche market — cooking, nature, hobbies, music, spirituality and travel, to name just a few — fare best.  But regardless of your topic or the size of your potential readership, the new world of publishing offers an unprecedented and unlimited opportunity to forge your own destiny.

First- time authors and those struggling to find a publisher should seriously consider self-publishing. Keep in mind that self-publishing does not close the door on traditional publishing. Agents and publishers  are cherry- picking successful self-published books for traditional publishing.  And when they do they will roll out the red carpet, offer an advance and a marketing plan — a different experience than a hundred rejections.

Think about how much you are willing to sacrifice for a “real publisher.” Is the  “prestige” of a traditional publisher’s imprint mostly illusory in the context of the new world of publishing? Ask what  traditional publishing will do for you in the long run if you don’t get effective distribution and publicity. Which platform is more likely to bring you sizable sales? Which will help you build a large following  for marketing future publications?  These are critical questions that deserve serious attention, especially if you are planning a career in writing.

Posted in press, publishing, revolution, thoughts, writer, writing | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

An open letter to Rita Atria

Posted by E on July 26, 2012

This is a love letter to the sister I never had.

On July 26, 2012, the twentieth anniversary of your death, I want to say that I will never forget you, Rita. I want to shout your name from the rooftops, and hope that somewhere in the echoes that bounce back, you are still there. I want to say that even though I never met you, I will always consider you a sister of my heart. You are my shadow self – a firefly in the darkest sky, a girl who never grew to be a woman.

We were born 3 months apart in the latter half of the same year, in the same part of the continent. We were both loud, vivacious, black-haired, brown-eyed girls endowed with a penchant for mischief. You were born into a small village of Mafiosos and I was a street urchin seeking out a family among a group of hateful extremists who envisioned that they would one day rule the country.

We were both seventeen years old when we saw our “family” for what it really was and tried to get out. We were both seventeen when we began to compile information on the men who we had once trusted, looked up to, even loved. We were little girls who wanted to pretend that we were soldiers in a war greater than ourselves.

In the greater scheme of things, we were little children. Disobedient children who spied on our families and turned against men who had once held us close to them and called us “daughters.” We sat in open court and pointed to such men, denouncing them for the vile criminals that they were. You testified against the Cosa Nostra, men responsible for murdering your father. I testified against the Heritage Front and helped shut down Canada’s largest white supremacist organization, bankrolled and condoned by Canada’s Security Intelligence Service (CSIS).

We both betrayed the only family that had ever embraced us.

I am you, Rita, and you are me. We are no more or less than any other teenage girl who wants to make a difference in her life, who wants a better world for her unborn children. We are every girl who lives in fear today, yet holds within her heart the flicker of hope that she will one day be counted. That someday she might make a difference.

We both know the seclusion of safe-houses, the anonymity of a new haircut and a bottle of scalp-burning dye. The unfamiliar utterance of a new name in our mouths. We know what it is like to have an entire world hate us and call us traitors. We know the words grown men have spoken after us, the threats and hits that were placed on our heads. And the truth, Rita, is that we were both children. We were idealists with hardly any concept in our minds of the ugliness of the world, of the seclusion and loneliness that would come.

When you’re in hiding the sky is always starless, muffled by an oppression of perpetually-low clouds. There’s only the stillness of empty apartments, where the silence of incalculable whitewashed walls closes in on you. After a while, the danger is no longer as relevant as walking to the window to tear apart the curtains, regardless of who might be lurking below. Because all you can say to yourself is, When the gunfire erupts I will not duck, I will not retreat.

I wish I’d met you, Rita. I wish that I could hold your hand and call you Sister. When you climbed over that balcony and flew down to your death, broken-hearted after the Mafia assassinated your only friend, magistrate Paolo Borsellino, convinced that nothing would ever change, a part of me was there with you. A part of me has always longed to take flight too.

Every year that passes since your passing, after the great snowfalls recede and give way to the delicate beauty of new growth in spring, I think of the shadows of us two – two teenage girls who wanted to make this ugly, senseless world a better place.

You live in me, Rita. And I will never forget you.

Posted in activism, beauty, cosa nostra, csis, family, freedom, history, identity, innocence, italy, letter, life, love, mafia, media, news, paolo borsellino, politics, revolution, rita atria, truth, Uncategorized, violence, war, women | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Protected: You’re not going to read this anyway

Posted by E on July 19, 2012

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Posted in activism, agent, anonymous, art, artist, books, canada, culture, depression, identity, literature, longing, media, news, perseverence, poetry, politics, publishing, rejection, revolution, writer, writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Enter your password to view comments.

We Must Stop This!

Posted by E on February 16, 2012

Under the transparent BS veil of “stop internet child predators”, a caustic new Canadian law is about to be passed that will make SOPA look like child’s play. I know that in this country people like to grumble about everything yet are reluctant to get involved in political causes — but this is an issue you cannot afford to ignore. Do YOU really want any police officer or member of CSIS to randomly tap into your telephone lines or internet activity?

Think I’m kidding? Think again.

The government is about to push through a set of electronic surveillance laws that will invade your privacy and cost you money. The plan is to force every phone and Internet provider to allow “authorities” to collect the private information of any Canadian, at any time, without a warrant.

This bizarre legislation will create Internet surveillance that is:

  • Warrantless: A range of “authorities” will have the ability to access the private information of law-abiding Canadians and our families using wired Internet and mobile devices, without justification.
  • Invasive: The laws leave our personal and financial information less secure and more susceptible to cybercrime.
  • Costly: Internet services providers may be forced to install millions of dollars worth of spying technology and the cost will be passed down to YOU.

 If enough of us speak out now the government will have no choice but to stop this mandatory online spying scheme. Sign the petition at http://www.stopspying.ca/

Posted in canada, news, revolution | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Blowing the dust off our Securitate dossiers

Posted by E on July 8, 2008

This year I am applying to several grants for the book I am working on – a lot of it will be about Romania before the fall of communism, and it will weave together the story of my family and many other stories that need to be told in order to preserve the historical value and integrity of that time – and preservation of history in any form is one of the biggest reasons I write, whether it’s fiction or non-fiction.

Anyhow, given the number of grant requests I am putting in and the strength of the project itself, I feel confident that something will break through. So I am beginning to make inquiries into sending a representative to CNSAS in order to petition for the release of the files (since I’m in Canada). I will go down there when they are ready to release the documents, and put the finishing touches on the book in the place where it all began: Bucharest.

The files are bound to be extensive: I remember being followed from school to playground to our apartment, and people with bags of candy approaching me in the park and asking questions about my parents. I remember the policemen always hovering around the downstairs door, and our friends, relatives, aquaintances and even teachers telling us of how Securitate men showed up at their doors and pressured them for information. 

My father had a history of making comments against the state, and my mother sought political asylum in Italy in 1985. Father & I were followed and scrutinized for 2 years until we were given exit visas under the Red Cross Family Reunification Program, in 1987 – 2 years before the Revolution.

I welcome any comments from anyone else who has personally, or knows of someone else, who has gained access to their Securitate dossiers. I know the files can take up to a year to be released. How long did it take in your case? And were there blacked-out parts, or did you get the names of the Securitate officers who were assigned to the case? I know as of Feb2008, they cannot be prosecuted anymore, but that would not be my intent, anyway – I just want to know all that happened, what was said about us, and what kind of information they have on my parents. So – how long is the process? And what was the cost? If you have a lawyer/notary you can recommend, I’d really appreciate it.

Please feel free to respond here or email me privately – I understand Romanian perfectly (only bad at writing it), so you can contact me in either language.

Posted in censorship, communism, politics, revolution, romania, securitate, writer | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

The Cuban Regime is that much closer to its inevitable end

Posted by E on February 19, 2008

fidel-picks-nose.jpg

So Fidel Castro has finally hopped off his self-imposed throne. Good riddance. Why is everyone acting like this is such a big deal? Ever since he practically keeled over last year, hardly anyone had seen him and frankly, I had my doubts that he hadn’t already gone the way of Mao – you know, stuffed with formaldehyde, encased in wax, and brought out between the hours of 9 to 5 to be on display in the Central Committee building.

World-wide, socialists are hopping around like surviving monkeys in a post-ebola village, trying to do damage control, snarkily retorting to anyone who would suggest this is the End of an Era, that “You see, the regime didn’t end with Fidel, you see…his brother will continue the legacy. So for all of you’s who thought this would be the end, it’s not, so…na-na-na-na-na!”

Ya, right. Cuba is now going to be passed into the shaky hands of a 76-year-old man whose only claim to fame is to have been begotten from the same loins that sprung forth our dear and beloved People’s Comrade Fidel. I’m sure that will certainly add a vote of confidence to the world.

So what’s going to happen? Absolutely nothing. For a couple weeks, months or years, anyway. Then, when the last old man to share in the glory of the trademarked Fidel has gone the way of his brother, the shit will hit the fan – as we all know, even ardent communists cannot resist the wild call of Power. In the mad scramble for succession, all those foreign companies that are investing in Cuba now will calmly and collectively trade in their bargaining chips.

This will not be a revolution of blood, fire and honour. I predict that Cuban communism will unravel slowly, muddily, one regulation after the other falling by the wayside of an unpaved road, until nobody will recognize it for what it was ever supposed to be.

I don’t understand why so many readers of my Cuban posts have assumed that since I am anti-Fidel dictatorship, I must a pro-US bourgeois capitalist pig. The reality is, I wholeheartedly wish for Cubans to have the same freedom and opportunities that most other countries take for granted. One day, I hope to see food in Cuban grocery stores, roads paved, and people with smiles on their faces, who are able to travel abroad, to study anywhere they want to, and who can read newspapers and use the internet as much as the rest of us.

Switching back to Castro for the last time. As he reflected on his glorious past, Fidel was quoted yesterday:

“My wishes have always been to discharge my duties to my last breath. That’s what I can offer. But, it would be a betrayal to my conscience to accept a responsibility requiring more mobility and dedication than I am physically able to offer. This I say devoid of all drama.”

The irony. With the end of this drama, another, more lukewarm one is about to begin. In these days of stupor and self-denial, nobody has the bandwidth anymore to carry out a full-fledged revolution.
This article from the New York Times depicts the sense of frustration on the streets of Havana today. Most people are not so much interested in socialist dogma, but about how the Communist system has failed them.

The bus system is a wreck, they say. Food is too expensive, they grouse. Why are hotels limited to foreigners? And why are there two currencies, one for foreigners and a far less useful one for Cubans?

It is those reforms that seem to matter most to Cubans, not a reshuffling — even a dramatic one like this — of the government’s organizational chart.

So, I bid you Adios, Fidel. The only question that remains is – are you picking your nose in the photo above, or are you giving us all the inconspicuous middle finger?

Posted in activism, censorship, commentary, communism, cuba, fidel castro, freedom, media, news, politics, press, revolution | 2 Comments »