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Butterfly Center director bragged she was set to meet with FBI February 8

Updated: Feb 13

By Jonathan Salinas | February 11, 2022

Picket protests FBI spying against labor, political activity in September 1976. Socialist Workers Party exposed, beat back capitalist rulers’ political police with successful political, legal campaign.
THE MILITANT/GLENN CAMPBELL Picket protests FBI spying against labor, political activity in September 1976. Socialist Workers Party exposed, beat back capitalist rulers’ political police with successful political, legal campaign.

National Butterfly Center director Marianna Wright told me Tuesday February 8, just days after headlines and events involving the butterfly center stirred international controversy, that she was walking into a meeting with the "FBI" when I called for comment on our last story addressing the events in question.

As I reported, recent headlines describing supposed "threats" made against the center by conservatives were bogus. Before publishing, I emailed Wright and Kimberly Lowe — the Virginia congressional candidate framed-up by Wright as a violent Trump supporter — for comment. Lowe responded. Wright said February 7 that she did not receive my email and criticized me for not calling her before publishing my story. I emailed Wright because I wanted audio files reported on in the press and figured they'd be sent to me through that medium. Not receiving a reply, I took it as a no-response. I offered her an opportunity to send media of events in question, assuring I’d update my reporting. Calling Wright Feb 8 for questions and comments, she answered and said:

"I'm about to walk into a meeting with the FBI but you can go fuck yourself."

Wright's admission is worth noting because Rio Grande Valley activists see the butterfly center, particularly its director, as allies in the class struggle. Although she did not need to disclose the existence of the meeting, one should wonder why she did. Had Wright simply told me to get lost, I would've understood and moved on to my next project. She didn't even have to take my call, if you think about it; but she did and unnecessarily disclosed the supposed existence of a meeting with the FBI. We don't know if this meeting, if it even occurred, was voluntary or legally obliged. Others will have to ask. But what we do know, from class struggle history, is that those who do voluntarily meet with the capitalist class's political police can be nothing except enemies of the working class.

A flier circulated on social media recently calls on activists and artists to attend a "Zoom-a-Thon" hosted by FlowerSong Press, an independent and local poetry publisher, to discuss protecting the center from the kinds of "attacks" supposedly waged against them last month. As class-conscious workers should never forget, activists have historically been targeted by the FBI. In the 70s, the Socialist Workers Party waged a political struggle to expose decades of FBI spying and disruption of the revolutionary organization itself and other civil rights fighters, like the Black Panthers. Such is seen today in the FBI's frame-up of General Michael Flynn, the set-up of men they claim plotted to kidnap Michigan Governor, Gretchen Whitmer, and the "January 6" entrapment scheme.

Severing ties with Wright, weeks before the latest incidents involving Lowe occurred, I realized she and I had arrived at fundamental and radical disagreements on how to view civil liberties in this epoch. Marianna, for example, supported the January 6 witch-hunt and in general praised any announced prosecutions of former President Trump's associates or (better yet) Trump voters, just as she championed the RussiaGate frame-up, once fabricating a ‘RussiaGate border edition’ which claimed deals for border wall contracts were part of the "collusion." Political suggestions she'd made to me in the past, which rang like standard FBI entrapment script, also made me uncomfortable overtime.

The demonization of Trump voters by middle-class liberals like Wright is deeply "rooted" in fear of workers rising up and fighting back against capitalism and against attacks on freedom of expression, despite their pretenses to care for "our democracy," as if class divisions didn't exist or as if their frame-ups didn't attack democratic rights. A January 27 butterfly center newsletter, relying heavily on Wright's account of events and on which sensationalist media (in turn) relied, sneered Constitutional rights in their description of a conservative conference to be held in McAllen as "free hate speech.” It also attacked the framed-up Flynn, who keynoted the event, in repeating the FBI/DNC smear that he’s a criminal.

In Defense of the US Working Class | Pathfinder Press

Wright's frame-up of Lowe comes at a time when such attacks on due process are on the rise not just here but around the world, like next door, in Canada. The FBI, created on the eve of WWII, will be used and is being used as it was then to stifle dissent as America's capitalist rulers prepare for conflict here and abroad and as workers enter politics on our own account.

July 26, 1941, Militant explains that 18 leaders of Socialist Workers Party and the Minneapolis Teamsters were framed up by the FBI, jailed over opposition to U.S. rulers’ drive to enter second imperialist world war to fight for markets and power.

Activists are self-sacrificing. They give up privacy, their personal lives, and place themselves at risk of government persecution. As a result, they take precautions to avoid becoming victims of government frame-ups, the kind Wright is known to cheer on. Again, Wright didn't say why she was meeting with the FBI. Others will have to ask why and if she has before, and if so, how far back do such meetings go? Every working-class activist opposed to capitalism should see those who brag about meeting feds as suspect and would be wise to steer clear.

*Article was edited for clarity February 13, 2022.


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