Me? A Red? Who Said?

by on August 2, 2011 · 23 comments

in Culture, Media, Popular, San Diego

This venture I’m involved with, the UT’s Community Editorial Board, has brought about mostly affirmative responses from around the city.

But of course there have been those who’ve reacted to what we’re trying to do by throwing dirt on it like Richard Rider, well known tax fighter around San Diego, who had this to say regarding my “Let’s Make a Better World for Our Children” kind of essay: “The first editorial “for the children” is by board member Ernie McCray, a lifetime hard left advocate. Indeed, as I recall, at one time McCray was actually the spokesperson for the local Communist Party. No, not the Democrat Party, or the Peace and Freedom (socialist) Party. The actual COMMUNIST PARTY. His lame response when confronted about this was that he was not a MEMBER of the Communist Party — they just needed an articulate spokesperson for their cause.”

Wow! Now, I’ve known a few commies well enough to say hello, and I’ve had friends who’ve designated themselves so, but I’ve found it hard enough just being a Negro without compounding that with allegiances to Mao or the Communist Manifesto. And there’s nothing within me, even with my larger than average ego, that would make me even come close to representing some group with an attitude of they don’t have anybody fluent enough to do so. Besides I thrive on being loved and there’s been no political group who has been hated more than communists by us Americanos.

Now, as to “a lifetime hard left advocate” with all its “radical” implications, well, I guess if you’ve got to stuff somebody into a “category” that might be me.

But if you asked me I would probably assign myself to a class of people who simply actively, pretty much daily, pursue their dreams of a better world with as much love as they can gather. I’ve always felt that as an educator such was expected of me. How else could I better contribute to helping young people grow as learned, caring, members of our society?

So I remember a day back in the mid 60’s when my sixth graders were told, in an assembly, “Come to South Africa, one of the most beautiful countries you could ever see.” I explained to them that such a declaration was true but it was also a nation that practiced Apartheid which was very similar to life down below the Mason Dixon line in our country at that very time. More than getting all left wingy about it I saw it as helping children to see their world truthfully.

When the school district got excited about integrating its schools, I was more than energized and happened to bring up how if we were truly dedicated to such an enterprise then we should, at least, say something to the State Teachers Retirement System considering the millions upon millions of dollars they had invested in companies doing business in – here we go again – South Africa, a nation that represented the exact opposite of integration. Man, everyone looked at me like I was Casey Anthony. More than “radical” in my way of thinking, my stance was just me trying to model for my students how critical thinking works.

A few years back I joined the ACLU in a lawsuit against SDUSD for conducting undercover drug busts on our campuses. I wasn’t trying to show off my “liberalism.” No. I was trying to say as loudly as I could: if we really wanted to get a grip on our drug problems, maybe we should get around our campuses and neighborhoods and see what’s going down instead of having a juvenile looking cop befriending kids and asking “Where can I get some good weed?” Maybe that’s leftist thinking but it was more about suggesting that we approach problems with our youth decently and with dignity.

Working a while back against Proposition 6, a hateful proposal which was brought about to get rid of gay teachers, it was more about standing up for human and civil rights than trying on my “socialist” hat for size.

Prop 187. A proposal to deny “illegal immigrants” from enjoying a range of California social services. As a principal I was assigned the role of La Migra. To that impossibility I declared “No way!” not to stroke my egalitarian tendencies but to let the families at my school know unconditionally that: I will not ever repay the love they had showered upon me by turning my back to their hopes and dreams because I loved them dearly too.

Society has all kinds of little narrow slots it likes to use to classify members of its citizenry and if left winged is where it wants me to be then I’ll snuggle up in that identity and from such a comfortable place continue trying to make our beautiful city a better place with no signs of regrets on my face. I’ll give you that, Mr. Rider. Communist, though. I don’t think so. That’s not a row I would ever want to hoe.

Image from johnxfire via flickr.

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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

doug porter August 2, 2011 at 10:22 am

This just pisses me off to no end. Red baiting? Really? What’s the matter Rider, afraid to have an honest debate?


Ernie McCray August 2, 2011 at 10:59 am

Hey, Doug. It seems like you’re feeling A-OK. Good to hear from you, especially on this. I thought red baiting was passe.


doug porter August 2, 2011 at 11:15 am

and, uh, you might want to look up “Richard Rider” in the Urban Dictionary. Not that this anything to do with him, of course.


Ernie McCray August 2, 2011 at 11:31 am

The Urban Dictionary makes this fun.


Andy Cohen August 2, 2011 at 11:23 am

Yeah, actually, he is. Just ask our own Shane Finneran. He got booted from Rider’s facebook page because he couldn’t handle being called out on his bullshit. I have to admit, Shane was quite brilliant in those exchanges, to the point of making our dear Mr. Rider look quite stupid.

By the way: Welcome back, Doug! I may have to travel a coupla blocks sometime in the near future!


Willie J. Horton August 2, 2011 at 5:44 pm

Some of the most esteemed Black Americans involved in the problem of race relations were accused of turning to communism such as: W.E.B. DuBois, and Paul Robeson.
Ernie McCray has ALWAYS just preached Fairness, and Love for all people regardless of race.


Ernie McCray August 2, 2011 at 6:10 pm

Some things change slowly if at all, huh? Well, much fairness and love to you, amigo.


Goatskull August 2, 2011 at 5:44 pm

There’s always those people out there who think anything remotely left of their own personal view is communist. Sometimes it’s just got to be taken with a grain of salt.
Personally, the views posted on the UT make me nauseous sometimes (actually most of the time). Even views that I agree with sometimes crawl under my skin just with the way they’re worded.


Ernie McCray August 2, 2011 at 6:08 pm

I can relate to that and hope that in the future there will be less crawling, that the words of agreement will become more soothing and the words of disagreement not so dampening of spirit.


annagrace August 2, 2011 at 6:30 pm

Joe McCarthy, an “American hero,” back by popular demand?


Ernie McCray August 2, 2011 at 10:44 pm

Now there’s a video that makes you really want to get up and divorce yourself from “The apathy of Our Citizenship” and prance around proudly that you, as a “consumer, is king!” I love those old “try to scare you” short movies…
Joe McCarthy would be pretty proud of our boy, Richard Rider.


Ramón August 2, 2011 at 10:03 pm

I am afraid that the direction our country is going where corporate media is playing the role of thoughts police and where there is so much ignorance, anyone fighting for a better future for young people, free of wars and miseries, as well as fighting to save our human specie from global warming destruction, will most likely be accused of being a communist. But what if you were? Where in the constitution, including the first Amendment, does it states that one cannot be a Republican, a Democrat, a Tea Partyer, a Socialist or, a communist? All I know is that I am proud of having known you for quite some time and being associated with what you represent. Do you know what? To be attack by the enemy and by ignoramus, is indeed a good thing! Keep up the good work.


Ernie McCray August 2, 2011 at 10:47 pm

Thanks, Ramon. That’s a question of mine: What if somebody is a communist? Does that mean they shouldn’t be allowed to squeeze the Charmin?


Goatskull August 3, 2011 at 7:28 am



Ernie McCray August 3, 2011 at 10:09 am

Be careful, you never know when you might need your arse.


Frank Gormlie August 3, 2011 at 10:32 am

… couldn’t write anything for a few moments, too busy also LMFAO!


Goatskull August 3, 2011 at 11:23 am

Perhaps that person can still squeeze the generic store brand?


Dorothy Lee August 3, 2011 at 8:30 am

Wow, Ernie! And all these years I though I was looking at a Peace Symbol flag hanging from your balcony. I must have hallucinated, and it is really a Hammer and Sickle Symbol flag.

It is informative to read some of Rider’s statements on education, in which he “reluctantly” defends fellow right-winger anti-union, pro-privatization Scott Barnett’s attack on teachers’ rights:

“IF our politicians cared more about the kids, the parents and the taxpayers than they did about the labor unions, we would convert to an education voucher or tax credit system to provide choice in education. Even Sweden does this. It’s common throughout Europe. Limited programs now exist in the U.S.
With vouchers/tax credits, we could provide as good or better education that the parents prefer for half the price per student. With private schools, the unions could not threaten to close down education with strikes.
I say again — IF politicians cared more about the kids, the parents and the taxpayers than they do about the labor unions. They don’t.
Kids are just pawns used to advance the power and profit of the labor unions and their members. ”

I guess Rider is liking socialist-like Sweden a whole lot more, now that populist right-wing parties have entered parliament (thanks to the 2010 elections; first time ever in Sweden’ s history).


Ernie McCray August 3, 2011 at 10:08 am

Over the years I thought Richard was speaking his “truths,” no matter how much I disagreed with them, and I’ve never actually listened real closely, but I never thought of him as one who made up stuff – but hallucinogens can be pretty powerful (smile).


Kevin Six August 3, 2011 at 10:28 am

Keep up the good work, Ernie, no matter what people call you.

I call you smart, honest and caring. That other person (for whom I ave a number of names but choose not to share them) can say what he likes. Because those in the know, know he has been nothing but a (bad name) on the (worse name) of society and deserves nothing less than our ignoring him.


Ernie McCray August 3, 2011 at 1:25 pm

He shall be ignored.


Christopher Moore August 11, 2011 at 12:19 pm

Red-baiting is very much a part of the political scene these days (ironically, since there are so few real Reds left), there has been a consistent and deliberate push from the far-right punditocracy to identify anyone who believes in anything other than pure laissez-faire capitalism with the authoritarian collectivist tyrannies of the late 20th century.

Lets face it, it’s far easier to fling verbal turds than it is to actually debate someone.


Ernie McCray August 11, 2011 at 1:07 pm

Far easier to red bait, “fvt,” than debate is right.


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