Everyday Struggles for Social Justice
My husband, Felix Gonzalez-Goenaga, and I sit each morning with our first cup of coffee and talk. This morning's topic was typical: why are people who question and challenge unchecked capitalism considered terrorists? We'd been debating the (f)utility of the "death by a thousand paper cuts" tactic. Apparently, Thomas and Lisa Eilertson have filed more than $250 billion in liens against the sheriffs, county clerks, and judge who played a role in evicting them from their foreclosed property. Mr. Eilertson told a New York Times reporter that "his actions were an effort to fight back against corrupt banks that had handed of the couple's mortgage time after time and whose top executives never faced consequences for their actions." To call the Eilertson's tactic, as the F.B.I has, a form of "paper terrorism" is to deny a legitimate, if ill-aimed, act of civil disobedience.
While I'm not endorsing their tactic (they were shooting the messengers), I do appreciate their struggle against the banks. Why didn't the Eilertsons file their liens against the bank executives and mortgage companies? I think there might be something to this tactic if it were aimed at those truly responsible for this situation.
The tools we use to identify and fight injustice are tied to the discourses of institutions meant to serve and protect. Felix understands first-hand what it means to take on an institution in and on its terms. He describes here how he successfully sued in a federal court for his right to citizenship due to him under the Cuban Adjustment Act. To file this suit, he named the Attorney General of the United States along with several other high-ranking immigration services representatives. It may seem as though he was aiming his arrows at the sun: how many people do you know sue the Attorney General? But he won his case. He identified the right players and used the language of the courts to secure his right to citizenship.
To the Mr and Mrs. Eilertsons of the world, then, identify the real culprits here for your financial ruin and eviction: the banks and mortgage counselors who wouldn't refinance your home with all the free money the Fed has been lending them. You wouldn't be terrorists in my book.
Models of change, change agents, teaching, learning, expressive tools, and everyday struggles for dignity, resources, respect, and cultural perseverance.