How you can honor a dying progressive organizer
One of the most influential activists of the past five years or so has -- like a good organizer is supposed to -- kept quite a low-profile despite everything he’s been able to do. Two years ago, Ady Barkan was diagnosed with ALS. He has kept up the fight, but he has made no secret of the reality that he doesn’t have much time left. He has used the preciousness of that time to emphasize the urgency of the present political moment, a vision he spelled out in a recent essay in The Nation: “I’m Dying. Here Is What I Refuse to Accept With Serenity.”
Barkan was a pioneer in the use of crowdfunding for political purposes, and at The Intercept, we’re honoring him by crowdfunding a journalism fellowship in his name. It’s fitting in a number of different ways: Ady was actually a columnist for his student newspaper, and wound up marrying his editor. He tells that story, and shares other reflections, in a piece he wrote for us that was published today.
If you’d like to contribute to the fellowship, which will hire a journalist to cover social movements in Ady’s spirit, you can do so here. We’re trying to raise $70,000 for the first year, and in just a few hours, we’re well on our way to that goal.
It’s been an awful week, capped by a homicidal, racist maniac massacring 11 people in a synagogue. In Brazil, a maniac who has vowed to kill thousands of people was elected president. Early in the campaign, former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was the clear frontrunner, but he was imprisoned on dodgy corruption charges.
It’s been common to call Jair Bolsonaro “Brazil’s Trump,” but with no kind words intended for Trump, this wildly underestimates what lurks within Bolsonaro. Take him at his own words, which our Brazilian colleagues have compiled here. A sampling:
“Through the vote, you will not change anything in this country, nothing, absolutely nothing! It will only change, unfortunately, when, one day, we start a civil war here and do the work that the military regime did not do. Killing some 30,000, starting with FHC [then-President Fernando Henrique Cardoso], not kicking them out, killing! If some innocent people are going to die, fine, in any war, innocents die.”
Cesar Sayoc, the alleged MAGAbomber, was foreclosed on in 2009 by the bank owned by Steve Mnuchin, who is now Trump’s treasury secretary. Our reporter Dave Dayen happens to be the author of the book Chain of Title, about fraud and the foreclosure crisis. He checked Broward County’s property records and, sure enough, Sayoc had been caught up in it. The story has to be read to believed.
Dayen, along with Rebecca Burns, has also written a book on Steve Mnuchin that should be out next week, but we need to edit in this latest development first. You can pre-order it here on the fundraising page (everybody who funds it gets a copy).
And I wanted to share a few words about Tyrone Gayle. At the age of 30, Tyrone died of colon cancer on Friday night. He had beaten it two years ago, but it roared back. Most recently, he was a spokesman for Sen. Kamala Harris, and he was an extraordinarily talented public servant, having worked before that for Hillary Clinton, the DCCC and Tim Kaine. People often ask how it is that I stay on such good terms with people despite having written such critical stories about them, and the answer is that it has nothing to do with me, it’s people like Tyrone, whose grace and warmth guided him in everything he did, even when dealing with jerks like me. Last year, we found ourselves on the same side of the insurgency, as he went to work for Tom Perriello’s bid to be Virginia’s governor. Tyrone will be deeply missed, and he was taken far, far too soon.
I’ll leave you with Tim Kaine’s moving reminiscence, and my deepest condolences to his friends and his family.