"Having now a collective name, we discovered that death shrinks, and
ends up small on us. The worst death, that of oblivion, flees so that the memory
of our dead will never be buried together with their bones. We have now a
collective name and our pain has shelter. Now we are larger than death..."
- the Zapatistas, Chiapas, March 12, 1995
He was a real estate developer and a politician. He had been a high ranking
soldier, and the Natives named him "Town Killer" for his practice of
razing their population centers and burning their crops so the land could be
taken by the colonizers, especially by the wealthy – the land speculators
His other name was Washington.
Washington: Town Killer.
Laws, treaties, and one’s solemn word meant nothing to the men who seized
the land and murdered and starved its former inhabitants. The wealthy men who
burned the villages and crops weren’t, shall we say, "nice."
Their spiritual and cultural descendants aren’t nice either.
The Los Angeles Times tells us in a recent editorial that it would be
"nice" to keep the nation’s largest urban community garden, LA’s
South Central Farm. They admit to the Farm’s beauty in the midst of the urban
devastation of the South Central ghetto. They admit that the farmers have made
their plots into a "special, almost magical place."
They admit it the way the English colonizers admitted the "Red Man’s
Nobility" – as something that had to be destroyed in the interest of
"There are lots of things that would be nice," the Times opines,
"but the land belongs," they claim, to a real estate developer,
"and he has every right to kick out those who have been squatting there…"
The Mexican Indian hero Emiliano Zapata had a different idea – that the
land belongs to those who work it.
On that premise, a premise Zapata paid for with his life, communal lands
called ejidos developed in Mexico, protected by its constitution. That
is, until NAFTA. Since then some six million indigenous farmers have been driven
from the land, often at the point of a gun. They were driven out in the name of
profit and progress to starve, to make their way in the lost cities of Mexico,
to the alienated ghettos and barrios of LA.
But here, at the South Central Farm, Mayan farmers gave new life to ancient
heirloom seeds, a rebirth and renewal of a heritage of that has continued,
uninterrupted, for thousand of years; since the time before; since the ants
taught Quetzalcoatl to grow corn. With others, these farmers grew corn and
The LA Times wants them driven out again.
"No magic is so strong," they say, "that it erases a land
owner’s right to his property or its fair value."
The LA Times is looking for its Town Killer, for someone to burn the crops
and destroy the people.
The Times wants them driven out like Indians everywhere – from the land –
to the cities, and then, at last, even from there. It wants them
This is the Times’ rationalization for their stand – they imply, using a
journalistic sleight of hand, that the courts awarded multi-millionaire real
estate developer Ralph Horowitz the right to the land.
Unfortunately for the Times, the court did no such thing. The court, instead,
gave explicit permission to the LA City Council to violate the Los Angeles City
Charter in order to award the land to Horowitz, if it saw fit to do so.
The Times’ impulse is to honor a corrupt back-room "gentlemen’s
agreement." Anything and everything is for sale – including the City
Charter. This pretense of "justice" rationalizes the Times’
Remember; "Laws, treaties, and one’s solemn word meant nothing to the
men who seized the land and murdered and starved its former inhabitants. The
wealthy men who burned the villages and crops weren’t ‘nice.’"
They were, like the Times, killing communities – or, if you prefer,
committing various forms of genocide.
For the farmers themselves race and genocide aren’t the core issue – Life
is - and they don’t want to be distracted from Life.
The Farm is a community, as independent journalist Leslie Radford has noted,
"where plants and people grow."
The Times says it’s time for the Farmers to go.
The world itself is on the verge of destruction and ecological collapse as a
result of such "logic."
Under this logic, "Progress" is spelled "Profit." Profit
means death. Under this system, there is no right to eat; the food is locked
away – there is no right to live. Not for the animals, not for humans.
There is only one right; the right, as the Hopi Elders put it,
to profit at the expense of all life.
The Town Killer’s system is destroying Life - destroying us - everywhere on
the planet, and here in Los Angeles its next intended victim is the South
The Times’ editorial, "Los Angeles Gothic," is subtitled
"The Value of Property."
It’s time they learn a different lesson: The Value of Life.
It’s time we all learned the lesson of the South Central Farm.
It’s time to replant the magic: everywhere on Earth.
To support the South Central Farmers go to http://www.southcentralfarmers.com
The LA Times editorial can be viewed at