On February 5, 2014, Gateway Pacific Terminal spokesman Craig Cole threatened Whatcom Watch with a SLAPP suit, which I covered for IC magazine in my February 8 article Gateway Pacific Terminal Consultant Threatens Journalists. In the four page letter sent to Whatcom Watch, Cole accused Robson and myself of libel, threatening that Robson and Whatcom Watch are “put on notice”. In a February 19 article Craig Cole Threatens Libel Suit at Northwest Citizen, editor John Servais made the following remarks:
“We have seen the effects of big money on politics and corporate media, and now those long arms are reaching into our local media – using lawsuits to intimidate or bully local citizen journalists away from vigorously reporting what is happening. Indeed, it has been working! The folks at the Whatcom Watch are stuck in a defensive crouch over this threat. The Watch has no money and Mr. Cole has some of the largest corporations in the country behind him. It seems unlikely Cole would send such a letter without the backing and encouragement of his corporate clients.
If large corporations are trying to silence local reporting, citizens should know. My thinking is that Ms Robson and the Whatcom Watch were getting close to the truth of what is going on and this is a classic corporate effort to silence them.”
On February 14, 2014, in my IC Magazine editorial The Politics of Land and Bigotry, I recounted the March 8, 1996 conference I attended, hosted by the Center for World Indigenous Studies and the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, to dialogue about “the portentous movements in America intent on promoting interracial discord and a growing politics of fear.”
Reading Robson’s January article at Whatcom Watch, I was reminded of meeting Jay Inslee in 1996, when he first ran for governor of Washington. Then State Senator Harriet Spanel had invited me and Inslee to dinner, where I talked with her about property rights convulsions influencing her reelection campaign, in which she was challenged by Skip Richards, who made anti-Indian racism the cornerstone of his campaign. When the Anacortes American exposed Richards as a militia host, his campaign went down in flames.
On February 17, 2014, in an Indian Country Today article titled Coast Salish Nations Unite to Protect Salish Sea, the Lummi, Swinomish, Suquamish and Tulalip tribes of Washington joined the Tsleil-Waututh, Squamish and Musqueam Nations in British Columbia in opposing Kinder Morgan’s proposed TransMountain pipeline and other energy-expansion and export projects that “pose a threat to the environmental integrity of our sacred homelands and waters, our treaty and aboriginal rights, and our cultures and life ways.” In December 2013, Kinder Morgan, the third largest energy producer in North America, filed an application with the National Energy Board of Canada (NEB) to build a new pipeline to transport crude oil from the Alberta Tar Sands to Vancouver, British Columbia, that if approved, would result in a 200% increase in oil tanker traffic through the Salish Sea. On February 11, 2014, these tribes and nations collectively filed for official intervener status with the NEB.
On February 25, 2014, Northwest Citizen (NWC) posted Relevant Documents to Libel Threat, including Craig Cole’s letter threatening a libel lawsuit against Whatcom Watch (WW), as well as a link to my article at IC Magazine, noting that “It is interesting that Cole has not threatened to sue Taber or Taber’s publisher.” NWC editor John Servais observes it is legitimate for WW to seek connections between the anti-Indian groups and the corporations seeking permits to build the coal terminal, saying, “It is called journalism and the exercise of a free press.”
On March 28, 2014, Indian Country Today published a feature story titled Anti-Indian CERA Doesn’t Like the Law of the Land, or Us, Apparently, by Terri Hansen, in which CERA is described as “The Ku Klux Klan of Indian Country.” On April 2, 2014, federal Indian law attorney Dave Lundgren wrote in his Indian Country Today op-ed Expose Hate Groups Like CERA that, “They disguise their fear and hatred with bogus legal arguments designed to rile up local resentment.”
On April 4, 2014, my Public Good Project editorial Liberal Elite Versus Democracy discussed the collapse of Whatcom Watch under its new president Terry Wechsler, who began blaming the messenger Sandra Robson for the paper’s troubles. In a communication to this author, Wechsler said my advice to expose, confront and reject organized racism is “counterproductive.”
Astonishingly, Wechsler actually suggested to me that Skip Richards’ racist organizing in the 1990s is a thing of the past, because he told her he no longer does that. I reminded her that Richards was one of the two people who organized the April 6, 2013 CERA anti-Indian conference, a fact reported in my IC Magazine article Anti-Indian Conference.
On June 27, 2014, the Bellingham Herald article Craig Cole’s legal threat against Whatcom Watch ‘resolved’ claimed the SLAPP suit issue had been amicably resolved, saying “What bothered Cole more than Robson’s piece was a follow up by blogger Jay Taber that contorted Robson’s hypothetical scenario into flat-out reality.” Had the reporter Ralph Schwartz bothered to closely read Sandra Robson’s extensively-sourced article and mine, he would have discovered that my accusation of Cole promoting racism was based on documented facts.
On June 30, 2014, my article Capitalizing on Fear at IC Magazine explained how Gateway Pacific Terminal funding enabled Tea Party-led PACs and KGMI radio to drum up resentment against Lummi Nation. On December 23, 2014, in my IC Magazine post White Power vs Northwest Indians, I included two posters from Public Good Project—Gateway Pacific Terminal Hall of Shame, and White Power on the Salish Sea.
In January 2015, Sandra Robson was one of four journalists to receive a Public Good Correspondent Award for 2014. On March 27, 2015, Robson’s article A Sovereign Nation Stands Tall was published at IC Magazine. On April 10, 2015, my article Railroading Racism: Warren Buffett vs Northwest Indians ran there as well.
On July 27, 2015, my article Crowing Jesus: Four Square Gospel vs A Sacred Trust at IC Magazine noted that in a July 21 article at the Los Angeles Times, Crow Tribe Chairman Darrin Old Coyote called Lummi Nation leaders “ignorant” pawns of Seattle environmental groups. A supplier of coal, the Crow are in bed with Gateway Pacific Terminal. As a Pentecostal Christian tribe, the Crow are challenging Lummi Nation’s “sacred trust” to protect the Salish Sea—a holy mandate that Earth Ministry, Resources, Unitarian Universalists, and Sierra Club support.
On March 12, 2016, Northwest Citizen named Sandra Robson the Paul deArmond Citizen Journalist of the year, saying, “If there were a Pulitzer Prize for citizen journalism, Sandra Robson would win it.”
[Jay Thomas Taber is a retired journalist and recipient of the Defender of Democracy award.]
The library is dedicated to the memory of Secwepemc Chief George Manuel (1921-1989), to the nations of the Fourth World and to the elders and generations to come.access here