It is with a heavy heart that I am writing to let readers know that Deconstructing Myths will be on a (hopefully) brief hiatus. I have taken on a new teaching position which, along with family life, is currently taking up much of my time and energy. I will be working with 9th and 10th grade special education students at a school with a high population of at-risk students. The recent paramilitary events in
Gaza Ferguson, MO, following another entirely preventable shooting of an unarmed young black man serves to highlight the need for awareness of our surroundings and the larger contexts in which they live and breathe. It is heartening to know there is a global army of bloggers who are wielding their mighty pens (keyboards) and willing to speak truth to power. Fair warning…like an elementary school principal in the night, I will be visiting my fellow bloggers to make sure no one’s sitting behind their desks goofing off or playing Angry Birds. So, until DM returns, I leave you with the poignant and haunting music of Tracy Chapman whom I’ve always loved for her integrity and the way she’s unafraid to wear her heart on her sleeve. We should all be so introspective.
“If you knew that you would find a truth
That brings up pain that can’t be soothed
Would you change?
Would you change?”
Update: Just a clarification…Deconstructing Myths is down for some time but not out. My apologies for any confusion and my gratitude for all of the support.
Peace and solidarity to all readers.
“For who would dare to assert that eternal happiness can compensate for a single moment’s human suffering.”
There are times when one’s voice seems so small and so insignificant in the face of suffering and misery on an unimaginable scale. The people of Ukraine know this feeling as do the people of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and the myriad of other countries that the U.S. has graced with it’s presence in the past decade. In fact, it seems that everything that the U.S. touches turns into a commodity for the lords of capital to speculate and trade on. Now, it’s the Skin Horse known as the Palestinian people’s turn (again) at the whipping post. The residents of the Gaza Strip have endured a brutal, month-long siege that has seen disproportionately high numbers of civilian deaths and injuries. The casualties have been so lopsided and the targets of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) so indefensible that many previously neutral observers have spoken out against the genocide. The unrest and protests taking place in the homeland and, especially, abroad have made the political elite in the U.S., who never met a campaign contribution they couldn’t accept, increasingly uncomfortable. The U.S. has prided itself on retaining the illusion of the high ground in it’s international affairs but there is none to be found when the world knows the U.S. has blocked U.N. votes debating sanctions against Israel and has authorized the provision of more arms to Israel. Some have argued that Israel has the courtesy to drop leaflets warning of their strikes, as if Gazans should send thank-you notes to the IDF. The people of World War I France and post-Sadaam Iraq know all too well that an occupying army uses these tactics not for humanitarian reasons but for propaganda and social control.
A fellow blogger at Crow’s Head Soup has helped to bring awareness to my embarrassingly limited consciousness of another group of sentient beings that are ritually slaughtered and literally chewed up by the capitalist meat grinder. These are the thousands of heads of cattle found in Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) in the United States of (Con)Agra. During a summer road trip with my family, I read The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan. It was an illuminating read, especially from someone who admittedly is not a vegan/vegetarian. There were two main takeaways I gleaned from the book, the first being the overarching influence that commodity corn has had on the food supply. There is no small trace of irony that the crop the indigenous people of North America gifted the colonial settlers with for their survival may be the very food source that hastens our downfall. While the author did not intend for the book to be a treatise against capitalism, it was hard not to see the tracks of the corporate interests in the factory farms that dot the landscape from sea to shining sea. The most important word in any good capitalist’s lexicon is efficiency. So, because grass does not produce cattle at sufficient sizes in acceptable time frames, America’s cattle have been raised on a diet of hormones, antibiotics and wait for it…corn. So, thanks to corn we can enjoy the modified fruits of our labor…cheap meat and corn in every product under the sun. The more I travel the road of social justice, the more I realize how interconnected all facets of our life are to both the capitalist grind and the natural world. We can be free without the former but never the latter.
Whether it’s the animal slaughterhouses of America or the open-air prison known as Palestine, there is a tendency for the occupiers to become sadistic. A study by Temple Grandin found, “It is important to rotate the employees who do the killing, bleeding, shackling, and driving. Nobody should kill animals all the time. Several plant managers and supervisors state that rotation helps prevent employees from becoming sadistic.” The equal and opposing force to sadism is compassion, the etymology of compassion is Latin, meaning “co-suffering.” Compassion moves beyond mere empathy as it gives rise to an active desire to alleviate another’s suffering. In order to see others in reality, we have to see ourselves more clearly first. Nelson Mandela, who knew a little about suffering, once said, “Our human compassion binds us the one to the other – not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future.” If we are not able to find our collective power in our shared humanity, the elite will continue to divide and conquer us. If we are not able to find compassion for all living beings, we will reap the whirlwind of the natural world as it seeks to restore balance and the natural order, independently of humans. We, humans or animals, were not meant to live our lives in chains nor were we meant to stand by idly while others are so confined. The levees of cutthroat capitalism that undergird the military and agricultural industrial complexes will not fall under the weight of a single drop of water. Every tear shed and every voice raised brings us closer to the tipping points needed to turn the tide.
Peace and solidarity to all readers.
La danse de la mort!
Palestinians in Gaza are butchered.
Our shared humanity stands silent.
Silence is disgraceful.
Should Officers of the Law Have the Final Word?
by Angela Grant
Should Judges Decision be the final word when a community vehemently disagrees? When disparities confirm, racial profiling leads increase stop and searches of minorities along with high arrests, convictions, and tougher sentencing compared to non-minorities.
Police Officers are trained. They along with judges are models of integrity who are trusted to serve and protect ALL Americans. Once upon a time, police officers were part of the community or worked with the community.
Based on the following those relationships no longer exist. Police Officer’s use excessive force may partly related to lack of connection to the communities in which they are paid to serve and protect.
Officer Involved Shooting – Salinas, CA 05/20/2014
Family Releases Video of Mentally Ill Man Killed by Fort Bend Officer
As you can see in these videos, the default is shooting to kill a victim over and over and over; despite officers outnumbering lone unarmed victims. The victims appeared confused and apparently had histories of mental illness. They did not appear threatening against so many armed officers. Both victims seemed more confused than dangerous. Should we shoot every homeless person who approaches us? NO!
What struck me on viewing these videos and others was the absence of familiarity with the community. Surprising, office did not enlist or recruit the crowd’s help. A friendly face does wonders in these situations. Furthermore, there were no emergency and a time to prepare a friendly face to facilitate negotiation.
Officers with guns pointed made no attempts to de-escalate and did everything to increase the likelihood of fatal outcomes. Unsurprisingly, both victims murdered by trained police officers.
Three Important Observations:
1. Alarmingly, these officers were rewarded for murder and incompetence. No charges filed for trained police officers shooting over 10 rounds into lone unarmed mentally ill confused. The number of shots fired made me to pause, why did it not make the police department, prosecutors, and judge’s pause. One has to wonder.
2. Another observation, officers were often culturally different from the communities they served and protected—that can be challenging in stressful environments where biases surface. Communication and cultural awareness may be key factors in drafting solutions.
3. Blacks are 7-8 times more likely to be arrested and imprisoned than whites. The war on drugs was a smokescreen for selectively incarcerating people of color, youths, mentally ill patients, developmentally delayed adults, and homeless people; essentially, people without a safety net, recourse, or voice.
I worry that big data may make identification of these individuals easier. What do you think?
Samuel Curtis Johnson, III convicted of repeatedly raping his then 12-year stepdaughter.
Circuit Justice Eugene Gasiorkiewicz sentenced to four months, pay $6,000 and probation. He did not register as a sex offender!
Alternatively, Robert H. Richards IV convicted of raping his daughter repeatedly from age 3 to 5 years old.
Superior Court Judge Jan Jurden Sentenced him to eight years’ probation.
Travion Blount at 15-16 years old, robbed a party with two older kids. A few items were stole—the monetary value appears less than $200.
A judge sentenced Travion Blount to SIX lifetime sentences. This sentence was reduced to 40 years by the Governor of VA. Forty years is cruel and unusual punishment for a crime that was victimless and considered petty burglary within the community.
In contrast, Samuel Curtis Johnson III is a paedophile is out on the streets making money for Wall street. How is he around children? And females? He did not have to register. And Robert H. Richards IV, he is a DuPont heir and can do whatever he pleases.
Contrary to popular belief, these two wealthy men by definition are paedophiles waiting or have already struck many times. Both will continue because they were rewarded and given opportunities to seek revenge on those who reported their abuses.
But we will never know, eh? Sparse coverage by media just makes this very dirty and organized crime business.
Should law enforcement be the final decision when the community disagrees? When judges and law enforcement and private prisons have lucrative incentives to arrest and incarcerate, what do you expect to see? Exactly what we see in the video with over-crowded prisons.
Btw, Why are police officers not imprisoned for murder? Again, should judges be the final word without enactment of a new law?
“Fascism is capitalism plus murder.”
Well, now that I’m done scarfing down mom’s apple pie, furling up old glory for another year and retrieving my chihuahua/pug from under the couch, where he’s been hiding since the fireworks commenced in my neighborhood, it’s time to get back to the real business of all red, white and blue-blooded Americans…making wealthy people wealthier. Recently, I engaged in a dialogue taking place over at Systemic Disorder that has helped me to gain some perspective on the nagging sensation that a new brand of fascism has come to the sweet land of liberty. Pete Dolack, the blog’s estimable author, responded to one of my comments, “Fascism need not (and in the U.S. would not be) jackbooted militarists parading down the street, it merely needs a social base fooled by rhetoric into acting against its own interests.” Pete cited the Tea Party, a “grassroots” movement that just happens to be financially backed by the Koch-booger brothers, as an example of this confluence of corporate and collective power. I must admit that for some time when the topic of fascism arose, “jackbooted militarists parading down the street” were precisely what I visualized but it’s been slowly dawning on me that the U.S.’s long and winding road to a neofascist state has been a long time comin’. In America, we’re witnessing a perfect storm of corporate influence and state power that has captured the public interests from education to healthcare to the justice system. The American gen pop has witnessed the bankers and billionaires operating with impunity, the public schools being decimated and the healthcare insurers billing anything that moves.
On the international stage, the corporate-capitalists have brought
democracy death and destruction on previously unimaginable scales to any country which finds itself in the crosshairs of the global elite. Breaking events in Iraq have done a good job of diverting attention and public scrutiny from breaking events in Ukraine which helped us forget about breaking events in Syria which distracted us from breaking events in Libya which was…well, you get the point. The neoliberal, disaster capitalists have controlled the public discourse from start to finish and stoked the glowing embers of neofascism from Greece to Spain to Ukraine. Meanwhile, the mission accomplished creeps have continued to profit from the mass destruction they have unleashed in the Levant while spinning tales of sectarian violence and corruption. Iraqi writer, Sami Ramadani, has deftly deconstructed the sectarian violence myth that the Western powers used to justify “democracy building in the Middle East, as they conveniently ignored the very real sectarian fissures in their own backyards. In the homeland, the multibillion dollar security apparatus is in place to manage dissent and ensure that a constant state of fear and loathing is maintained towards anyone who dares to think critically or question the narratives of the dominant/power culture. The recent rulings by the SCOTUS have simply codified the deeply held resentments the elite have towards dues-collecting unions and uppity women. I only hope in my lifetime to see the day when women are declared people, too.
The massive security and surveillance state in America is an all too predictable succession of events for an elite grown increasingly anxious that the people, whose labors they have profited off of immensely, will soon demand a raise in their allowances…with pitchforks. Capitalism might collapse under it’s own oppressive weight by then, once the planet or the people say “no más” to going another round in this neofuedal, death match that was fixed from the start. America, on it’s best days, has had a hard time actualizing the dream of racial, gender and economic equality espoused to it’s citizens and has settled for the reality of material comfort, social status and reality television as a measure of it’s collective worth. The struggle against neoliberalism, disaster capitalism and neofascism is global in nature and the architects of austerity use borders, ethnicity and ideology to keep us divided and conquered. Therefore, those who dream of a world without borders must be willing to link arms in solidarity in a manner that transcends borders, ethnicities and ideologies. My own children have grown up thinking that mass surveillance, decades upon decades of war and an increasingly militarized, police state are the new normal. Americans would be hard pressed to remember the last time the U.S. wasn’t at war with it’s neighbors. The road to fascism is not built overnight but, eventually, there may come a day when one looks out the window and sees the wing-tipped corporatists “parading down the street”. May the road rise up to meet their smug countenances…hard.
Peace and solidarity to all readers.
“Everybody knows that the boat is leaking Everybody knows that the captain lied Everybody got this broken feeling Like their father or their dog just died.”
This coming weekend, I will be publishing a contribution to the Mic check guest blogger series from Claire O’Brien, whom I met through our interactions at her exceptional blog, Eléctrica in the Desert. Journalism is a profession that, in my not so humble opinion, falls under the category of “higher calling”, as it is entrusted with the widely coined mandate to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” In this context, Claire is an honorable reporter whose story serves as a reminder that following one’s conscience may come at a price. I would like to share with readers the extraordinary attack that was coordinated against her in the midst of a racially and politically divisive murder trial several years ago that served to derail her career as a journalist. O’Brien worked as a reporter for the Daily Globe in Dodge City, Kansas, at the time a Latino man named Sam Bonilla was on trial and facing decades in jail for killing a local man, which he claimed was in self-defense. Bonilla was a Mexican immigrant who feared he could not get a fair trial and opted to forego a jury trial. In the course of her investigative reporting, she interviewed a source who corroborated Bonilla’s claim that the man he killed when confronted had “a base of support that is well-known for its anti-Hispanic beliefs” and a “supply of semi-automatic weapons.” O’Brien was pressured to reveal her source and when she refused was threatened with contempt by the presiding Judge. As a result of her actions, she was unceremoniously fired from her job at the Daily Globe, which went so far as to change the locks in their offices. She found previously proffered job offers and invitations to appear at journalism conferences withdrawn. This despite the fact that O’Brien won multiple awards for her investigative reporting, helped bring Bonilla’s case into the light of public scrutiny and was instrumental in establishing a Shield Law, in 2010, by the Kansas legislature.
In Claire O’Brien’s own words:
I wrack my brain daily re: why no one considers my position worth even investigating. During fierce national threats to our civil liberties, I had acted to derail a state frame up funneling a Latino victim of a Hate Crime to a 40-year prison term. My coverage shone a light on “one of the most repressive and disturbing racist systems” the Mexican American Defense Fund had ever seen. Next, the U.S. Dept. of Justice showed up. No one had ever been made aware of the plantation system exploiting 9,000 slaughterhouse workers and their families in a corner of SW Kansas. Next, I’m hit with a subpeona to reveal the name of a confidential source. The nations premier Free Press organization, founded by four Black reporters 40 years ago because they couldn’t interview a member of the Black Panther Party without getting arrested, sends its biggest big shot, the famous Lucy Dalglish (FYI, the Reporter’s Committee for Freedom of the Press is now a white-dominated organization).
“And I’m supposed to accept it? What message is the Left sending me? If the Press leaders and the corporate media can stamp out rank and file reporters at will, that means their tens of millions of the unimportant readers have just had their First Amendment access to a free press shattered.
Update: If there’s a journalist whose editor won’t kill the story, I have a ton of evidence and info. You should know that Jeremy Peters at the N.Y. Times said he was ready to write it, but they killed it, and that Charlie Savage knew of the problems I was having with GateHouse Media three months before anyone else did, and has remained silent. Calvin Trillin wrote a piece in the New Yorker, and admitted to me right before his May 10, 2010 story that he’d been informed of my innocence before arriving in Dodge City. All I’m saying is, be prepared to get your story killed. I don’t know how to express how much any support will mean to me. Frankly, I have been devastated. Any blogger could make a huge difference by urging every connection they have to re-blog and tweet and re-tweet, demanding that the U. of Maryland Board of Trustees investigate these allegations. State law actually requires it. Also, the RCFP steering committee – the organization lists the many members, but refuses to provide me with email info for each of them. Reporter Tony Mauro, former president of the RCFP Steering Committee has participated in this cover-up, as has the Society for Professional Journalists – most prominently and ironically David Cullier, national Freedom of Information Act Officer. I have proof that he removed evidence of his actions from his SPJ blog. I am sorry I don’t have the contacts right at my fingertips. I have not been expecting any help for at least two years, and am having myriad tech problems with my laptop. However, it will take me just a couple of days to assemble the crucial links. In the meantime, my blog is packed with posts about this case, and if I can just stay on line long enough to assemble those links without getting kicked off, I will post them ASAP. Perhaps Jeff will have time to select at least a few.
Yours in struggle,
Further links to Claire O’Brien’s legal case:
“For decades, Israel has denied Palestinians their fundamental rights of freedom, equality, and self-determination through ethnic cleansing, colonization, racial discrimination, and military occupation. Despite abundant condemnation of Israeli policies by the UN, other international bodies, and preeminent human rights organisations, the world community has failed to hold Israel accountable and enforce compliance with basic principles of law. Israel’s crimes have continued with impunity.
In view of this continued failure, Palestinian civil society called for a global citizens’ response. On July 9 2005, a year after the International Court of Justice’s historic advisory opinion on the illegality of Israel’s Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), a clear majority of Palestinian civil society called upon their counterparts and people of conscience all over the world to launch broad boycotts, implement divestment initiatives, and to demand sanctions against Israel, until Palestinian rights are recognised in full compliance with international law.
The campaign for boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) is shaped by a rights-based approach and highlights the three broad sections of the Palestinian people: the refugees, those under military occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and Palestinians in Israel. The call urges various forms of boycott against Israel until it meets its obligations under international law by:
- Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967 and dismantling the Wall;
- Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
- Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.
The BDS call was endorsed by over 170 Palestinian political parties, organizations, trade unions and movements. The signatories represent the refugees, Palestinians in the OPT, and Palestinian citizens of Israel.
Boycotts target products and companies (Israeli and international) that profit from the violation of Palestinian rights, as well as Israeli sporting, cultural and academic institutions. Anyone can boycott Israeli goods, simply by making sure that they don’t buy produce made in Israel or by Israeli companies. Campaigners and groups call on consumers not to buy Israeli goods and on businesses not to buy or sell them.
Israeli cultural and academic institutions directly contribute to maintaining, defending or whitewashing the oppression of Palestinians, as Israel deliberately tries to boost its image internationally through academic and cultural collaborations. As part of the boycott, academics, artists and consumers are campaigning against such collaboration and ‘rebranding’. A growing number of artists have refused to exhibit or play in Israel.
Divestment means targeting corporations complicit in the violation of Palestinian rights and ensuring that the likes of university investment portfolios and pension funds are not used to finance such companies. These efforts raise awareness about the reality of Israel’s policies and encourage companies to use their economic influence to pressure Israel to end its systematic denial of Palestinian rights.
Sanctions are an essential part of demonstrating disapproval for a country’s actions. Israel’s membership of various diplomatic and economic forums provides both an unmerited veneer of respectability and material support for its crimes. By calling for sanctions against Israel, campaigners educate society about violations of international law and seek to end the complicity of other nations in these violations.”
(Source: Introducing the BDS Movement)
Update: A summary of how each company on the boycott list is supporting Israel: Boycott Israeli Products
(Video link: Israel/Palestine 101)
As the POTUS fiddles and Gaza burns. it is (hopefully) a sign of hope that the global community is raising their voices in solidarity with the Palestinian people. The U.S. has no high ground to claim as it continues to provide arms and U.N. cover for the genocide taking place in the occupied territories. It appears that Netanyahu has taken ‘no child left behind’ to heart as the indiscriminate targeting of civilians, women and children are tactical methods for suppressing future generations who know in their hearts they must resist to exist. The “humane” leaflet drops warning Palestinians of imminent bombings were first used by Germany in WW I and by the U.S. military in Iraq to instill compliance…nothing new under the sun.
Originally posted on Deconstructing Myths:
Well, it’s February in the land of milk and Honey Boo Boo, the ruling class is ruling, the working class is barely working and the middle class, well let’s just say it was fun while it lasted. One of the more well received posts at Deconstructing Myths has been The giant and the boy who threw stones which discussed the ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians in the occupied territories in Gaza and the West Bank. When I consider my present standard of living in relation to that of the Palestinian people who have been livin’ la vida loca of modern day concentration camp conditions for decades, it’s like that feeling you get when you walk by a homeless person on the street. The recently granted United Nations non-member observer state status is a small step toward making the Velveteen Palestinians really real. Consequently, it is…
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This is the next installment of an ongoing series at Deconstructing Myths…the Jeffster Awards! This award will be given on an ongoing basis to five outstanding blog posts that caught my wandering eye. There are no strings attached or requirements for reciprocation. I don’t have time to comment on other blogs as much I’d like to so the least I can do is direct readers to some of these outstanding writers, poets, and visual artists. Please direct all feedback (likes, comments, follows) to the blogs themselves. I hope you enjoy these exemplary posts as much as I did. So, without further ado, here are the recipients of this week’s Jeffster Awards…hot off the (Word)presses.
When Design is Evil at Alice in Whateverland
Think of the People of Gaza at a heart beats
This is War at Palestinian Blogger
Of Anger & Activism (Part I) at anaïs charles
“War Crimes” at Thinking and Dreaming
Peace and solidarity to all readers.
While I’ve spent the last two weeks on a road trip to the Chesapeake Bay and Smoky Mountains with my family, Israel has spent that time nobly defending itself from rocks and accuracy challenged, manually fired rockets that “lack guidance systems and can only be aimed in a general direction.” All I can say at this point is it’s good to see that the more than 3 billion in military aid the U.S. taxpayers give Israel each year isn’t going to waste. If this were a sporting event, the mercy rule would have gone into effect by now. The IDF controls the 130 square miles of land, sea and air surrounding the occupied territory known as the Gaza Strip including making it’s presence known with warships along the coast which restrict Palestinian fishermen from venturing into open waters to, you know, fish. As the indiscriminate slaughter of more than 600 mostly civilians and shelling of hospitals in Gaza continues, Netanyahu has the audacity to accuse Hamas of crimes against humanity. Surely, the US/UK/NATO calvary is on the way as soon as they finish wiping their prints from the crime scene known as Ukraine. For further breaking news on the ground in Gaza, Mondoweiss has long been a reputable source for independent news coverage of the region. There is at least some good news to be found…props to citizen protesters who made their voices known and helped get the water turned back on (temporarily) for residents in
Gaza Detroit. And now I give you Lowkey, a musical activist of Iraqi and British descent, with Yemeni poet, Sanasino…
Peace and solidarity to the people of Gaza.