Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Rainbow Family Won't Take No For an Answer

-Eight years ago, at the age of eighteen, I was a newly homeless and pitifully inexperienced traveler hitchhiking up the west coast of Florida. My relative indolence and privilege had led me to believe I could pull this off while carrying nothing but a sleeping roll and some water in a school bag. Needless to say, I quickly became hungry, very hungry. I was eating so little that it became hard to even stand, while I attempted to solicit rides from the on ramp of I-75.
-I remembered something an acquaintance had told me in passing about something called the Rainbow Gathering, that they gave away food. I knew nothing more and didn't need to. If they would feed me, I would go. So I did, and was met with a mass of substance fueled adult children gathered in Ocala National Forest under the auspices, supposedly, of praying for world peace, although even the most casual observer can see that it was primarily a space for abusing substances. Of course this is not universal among rainbow attendees (I don't mean to make assumptions about people I don't know) and I met many people I am still proud to call friends. The prevailing atmosphere though, was one of absolutely toxic and suffocating masculinity. I would not have been able to articulate this at the time.
- I decided to write this because of a horrifying and genocidal decision by the Rainbows to hold their national gathering this year in Black Hills National Forest, unceded Lakota Sioux territory, considered to be sacred. The Lakota Sioux people have been unequivocal in their opposition to the Rainbow Family coming to the Black Hills, and their demands should not have to be repeated (you can get a good idea why here https://www.change.org/p/barack-obama-united-states-department-of-agriculture-usda-south-dakota-governor-south-dakota-state-senate-south-dakota-state-house-ban-the-2015-rainbow-gathering-in-the-black-hills-national-forest).
- In typical patriarchal form, the Rainbows have refused to take no for answer. This was the same behavior that I observed at the Ocala Gathering. Drunken men accosting drivers for spare change at the entrance, Trash strewn everywhere, poorly dug latrines spilling shit into the ground and surface water, women being discouraged from reporting rape. They even managed to start a forest fire in long grass. The level of cultural appropriation employed by this subculture is nauseating to me in retrospect. Dozens of spiritual traditions and cultural practices from around the globe are viewed as open game, from Buddhism to Hinduism, from Hopi traditions to Muslim traditions. All for the benefit of white american men looking to get fucked up.
- I want to be straight forward now, that this kind of violation constitutes rape, just like the women at the gathering, just like the pristine tracts of land that the Rainbows destroy, and just like the genocided culture the Rainbows are now threatening to descend upon. Often what passes for the opposition in the US terrifies me. After all, a fascist man will rape and be clear with his victim that it is out of contempt and hatred for her, a Leftist man will rape and tell his victim that she is being liberated.
- Do tie-dye and incense make genocide more palatable? Does the suffering of others get assuaged in our minds if the aggressor has flowers in his hair? Is the Grateful Dead playing in the background loud enough that they can't hear NO? It's long since time to stop and listen, to reflect on ourselves, and to tell the Rainbow Family to go somewhere else.

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