Ebola is the new black

I am an invisible man. No, I am not a spook like those who haunted Edgar Allen Poe; nor am I one of your Hollywood-movie extoplasms. I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids—and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me.” Like the nameless speaker in Ralph Ellison’s contemporary masterpiece “Invisible Man”, there are those of us who know this feeling of inconspicuousness. The corporate media outlets have unwittingly reminded us all that there exists an entire continent of people who, for all intents and purposes, have disappeared off the face of the Earth. Despite frantic reports of airports blocking flights from West Africa or highly publicized outings of infected health care workers, the outbreak barely registers on the scales of public health concerns in the U.S. While there have been isolated incidents of individuals returning abroad infected by the ebola virus, these incidents pale in comparison to the havoc the disease has wreaked upon swaths of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. The United States has in ebola a legitimate tragedy unfolding in real time. However, the disaster is not affecting the homeland in a significant way, at least not in the manner that National Propaganda Radio (NPR) and their ilk would have you to believe.

(Photo caption: www.global research.ca)

(Photo caption: www.global research.ca)

Rather, the ebola crisis is an alarming example of privatized health care gone horribly astray. The World Health Organization (WHO), under the auspices of the United Nations, turned a blind eye until the contagion started to affect Western countries. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has been the single, largest contributor to the WHO at $300 million per year. Gates the patriarch has continued the time honored tradition of robber barons in America by engaging in social engineering masked as philanthropy. The Gates Foundation has it’s upturned nose in everything from public education to agribusiness to healthcare. Every one of those 300 million dollar bills comes with tiny strings attached to Lord Gates’ bony fingers. Years of foreign intervention by way of the shock doctrine have left West Africa’s public health systems nonexistent and lacking in sanitation, clean water and nutrition that could have helped to prevent outbreaks in the first place. While the POTUS initially offered an anemic 25 beds and no health care workers for a field hospital, Cuba has sent hundreds of doctors, the largest medical response from a single country. Cuban doctors were also the first and foremost responders in Haiti during the cholera epidemic following the 2010 earthquakes.

(Photo credit: Wikimedia)

(Photo credit: Wikimedia)

What has gone unspoken in the corporate-state controlled media is the under cover of night buildup of U.S. military troops in Africa. Like the social media campaigns Kony 2012 and #BringBackOurGirls that came before it, the ebola virus has a bigger role to play in drumming up public support for military interventions in Africa. This is the only reason that most Americans have ever heard of Boko Haram or Joseph Kony. Referring to Boko Haram, Margaret Kimberly nailed it, “Because Americans are so poorly informed about the rest of the world, and so strangely enamored of their own government and its intentions, they automatically fall back to the worst solution of all, foreign military intervention. President Obama has said that he will assist the Nigerian military. That solution may please people who are understandably concerned about the fate of these young women, but that doesn’t make it very helpful. The last thing Nigeria needs is a foreign military presence to prop up its corrupt government. Nigeria is a linchpin of AFRICOM, which puts African militaries under the direct command of the United States. AFRICOM is in place to protect the resource pipeline and to restrict efforts to keep any other nations from bringing resources that Africans actually need.”

(Photo credit: KeizerStreetArt)

(Photo credit: KeizerStreetArt)

In the world according to DARPA, the militarized response to the ebola crisis has not gone unnoticed by keen observers. At this point, it’s a given that when you hear a nation’s leader being demonized in the American press or political pundits blathering on about “humanitarian interventions”, then boots and bombs are sure to follow. The more complex the rationalizations, the simpler the truths they are trying to conceal. Historically, capitalist wars have been fought for three inalienable reasons…land, labor and the pursuit of (natural) resources. Africa is home to extensive mineral reserves which are needed to sustain the technologies we’ve come to depend on and fetishize. I am ashamed to admit that my childhood knowledge of Africa was gleaned from watching UNICEF commercials and Live Aid. The chutzpah of a nation that built it’s fortunes on the genocides of not one but two distinct peoples, indigenous and African slave, is hard to overstate. The cotton plantations in the antebellum South used public beatings, forced migrations, quota systems and the separation of families to maximize production for it’s owners. Desmond Tutu spoke for the colonized everywhere, “When the missionaries came to Africa they had the Bible and we had the land. They said ‘Let us pray.’ We closed our eyes. When we opened them we had the Bible and they had the land.”

Peace and solidarity to all readers.

Posted in Social Justice | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Jeffster Awards #36

(Photo credit: skulzstudios)

(Photo credit: skulzstudios)

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.

Turning away from ‘good’ violence at Aisha J. Shah

BE HERE NOW at xmk75’s

I Dream to See My Country Iraq Again, Receiving People from All Over the World at Sweden and the Middle East Views

Ethnocentricity and the European Aesthetic at Natively Foreign

RAVAGE: art and culture in times of conflict at Willful & Wayward

_________________

Peace and solidarity to all readers.

Posted in Social Justice | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

On violence and vengeance: Rhymes for Young Ghouls and the horrific history of Canada’s Indian Residential Schools

Jeff Nguyen:

The boarding school experiences of indigenous peoples in North America gives lie to the myth that America is a melting pot for all ethnicities. More like a boiling pot to bleach all of the diversity away.

Originally posted on Decolonization:

by Sean Carleton

** Editor’s note: If you have not seen the movie Rhymes for Young Ghouls, this article likely contains spoilers. **

Download the PDF version of this article here.

Written and directed by Mi’gmaq filmmaker Jeff Barnaby, Rhymes for Young Ghouls offers an unflinching fictional account of Indigenous agency in the face of the horrors of Canada’s Indian Residential Schools. Set in the 1970s on the Mi’gmaq Red Crow reserve, known as the Kingdom of the Crow, the film stars Kawennáhere Devery Jacobs as Aila, a tough teenage girl with artistic aspirations and a deep-seated hatred for the sadistic Indian Agent, Popper (Mark Antony Krupa). Popper runs the St. Dymphna’s Residential School and the Red Crow reserve with an iron fist and his heavy-handed tactics mobilize a group of Indigenous youth led by Aila to exact revenge. In the end, Aila’s courageous actions free her consciousness and…

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It’s just war

 

If you conduct a war, you shouldn’t be in charge of narrating it.”

-Thomas Hayden

I recently came across a moving post at Wolfessblog that brought to my attention a homage already underway for the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. The Vietnam War Commemoration and it’s accompanying website was green-lit by the 2008 National Defense Authorization Act. All I can say is thank goodness the Dept. of Defense is finally getting around to memorializing the indiscriminate slaughter, chemical warfare and weapons of mass destruction that were unleashed by the U.S. military on the civilian population in Vietnam. I am confident that the thousands of veterans who returned from Southeast Asia drug addicted, Agent Oranged and PTSD’ed will find some measure of peace knowing there is now an interactive timeline dedicated to their efforts. I think I speak for all Vietnamese people whose livelihoods, families and homes were forever altered by the U.S. military campaign when I say, “Your commemoration and most of all your glorious website makes up for everything.” As I wipe away the tears, I chastise myself for ever wishing The Hague upon the executives of Monsanto, Dow Chemical and the American government who orchestrated this just (a bunch of gooks) war.

(Photo credit: Wikimedia)

(Photo credit: Wikimedia)

Until recent decades, the shadow of the Vietnam War loomed large over American geopolitics and the bellicose were relegated to shadow wars in Central America to appease a war weary public. But nobody puts baby in a corner for long. At the end of Gulf War I: Desert Storms, Bush Sr. whooped, “By God, we’ve kicked the Vietnam syndrome once and for all!” All that was needed was a cataclysmic event to activate the shock doctrine in star spangled style. As citizens reeled from the singular event known as 9/11, the monolithic apparatus known as the United States government, which can barely get out of it’s own way on a good day, somehow found the political will and unity to authorize the Patriot Act. The bible beltway was then loosened to launch another just (a bunch of Muslims) war. If there’s one thing I’ve learned as a transplanted Vietnamese adoptee, it’s that Americans love their memorials. With luck, future generations will get the privilege of participating in the Iraq/Afghanistan/Libya/Syria/TBD War Commemoration. Meanwhile, the venerable Veterans for Peace have launched their own counter-insurgency known as the Peace and Justice Commemoration that is part of a broader campaign for full disclosure of what really went down in the kill anything that moves fields. Clearly, they haven’t been to the new website, yet.

Peace and solidarity to all readers.

Posted in Social Justice | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 29 Comments

Jeffster Awards #35

(Photo credit: skulzstudios)

(Photo credit: skulzstudios)

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.

Naked at Rooted in Being

The Graduate Premium Myth {The system sucks the life from me} at discordian {Artist Ian Pritchard}

Earth and Sky at Eddie Two Hawks

GAZANS STILL WAITING FOR THE LIGHTS TO COME ON at Desert Peace

Talking about freedom rather than change at See & Connect

_________________

Peace and solidarity to all readers.

Posted in Social Justice | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

It ain’t Arawak Day

Hear ye, hear ye! If you are a federal employee, mailman or banker, Columbus Day is your day to kick back, crack open a cold one and pour one out for Cristoforo Columbo, the Genoese explorer who put the C in colonialism. While Kindergarten teachers still dress up their students in headbands and reenact the last supper with the pilgrims and injuns (I've seen this with my own eyes), the 1950's called and they want their lesson plans back. But if there's one thing I've been taught by my colonial benefactors, it's to be thankful. When I was FedExed from an orphanage in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) to the United States, I was conditioned by my well meaning adoptive family to be grateful to the U.S. military for rescuing me from the Communist heathens. Sure, they left out the fact that the same military carpet bombed my homeland with more than 50,000 tons of napalm, Agent Orange and assorted dioxins but who am I to nitpick? So, I now resolve not to make the same mistake twice and take a moment to give credit where credit is due.
Uncle Sam standing over US Pacific possessions...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thanks to Columbus the indigenous people of North America, aka the Washington Redskins and Kansas City Chiefs, were systematically starved, plagued, boarding schooled, treatied, reservationed and just plain white-manned to death.

Thanks to Columbus the African people were imported in chains like so many Hondas and Toyotas to make pampered and privileged land owners obscenely wealthy.

Thanks to Columbus the Japanese Americans whose ancestors helped build the infrastructure of this country were herded like cattle into internment camps without due process.

Thanks to Columbus the CIA flooded the inner cities with Colombian stamped, dirt cheap crack cocaine to fund counterinsurgencies in Central America.

Thanks to Columbus the U.S. military has fought more than 13 years of nonstop wars in predominantly brown, black and Muslim countries.

Thanks to Columbus our students are graduating with six-figure debt while other nations provide higher education for free to their citizens.

Thanks to Columbus the public schools are lab rats for neoliberal think tanks and billionaire funded foundations who view teachers as scapegoats and children as future assets or liabilities.

Thanks to Columbus our nation’s law enforcement officers are morphing into an occupying force rather than public servants entrusted to protect the public it serves.

Thanks to Columbus one of the wealthiest nations on the planet has failed to provide single payer, universal health care to it’s citizens.

Thanks to Columbus millions of Americans have lost their homes or jobs while we all get to put up with fat, white men in suits (no offense, Santa) telling us that some banks are just too big to fail.

Thanks to Columbus that stubborn, old sun just keeps on rising in the East and setting in the West. What…no love for the North or South?

English: Rossport Solidarity Camp

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ok, that last one might have been a stretch…peace and solidarity to all readers.

Posted in Social Justice | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 43 Comments

Days gone by

“Letting the days go by
Let the water hold me down”

-Talking Heads

Life is sometimes stranger than science fiction. One day I am sitting at my desk getting ready to teach 18 first graders how to become college and career ready. The next day I am working as a case manager for veterans and post-release prisoners at a nonprofit agency that provides transitional housing and substance abuse treatment for homeless men. After resigning my teaching position and a brief period of unemployment, I am back to my first love as a social worker. Like public education, I recognize that social work acts more often than not as an extension of the state rather than a counterbalancing force. However, there are rewards in helping men get their driver’s license reinstated or their last court costs paid off. The high in seeing a man celebrate six months clean and sober is immeasurable. The past month has led me to question the meaning of things not for the first time. I have been fortunate to have a supportive family and extended blogging community while I’ve wrestled with some personal, existential questions. One thing I’m learning, we may all have days when we wake up and ask ourselves…how did I get here? I have always encouraged readers to question everything, I have been reminded that I must also take the time to question myself. I don’t know fully where I’m headed yet but I do know I only have one lifetime to get there. This could get interesting…

Peace and solidarity to all readers.

Posted in Social Justice | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 30 Comments

Marginal lines

(Photo credit: Simon Atkinson)

(Photo credit: Simon Atkinson)

Some scars

run deeper than trenches

under Southern skies

Each one has a vanishing point

where the ground meets the sky

and dreams go to lay down and cry

 

Numb hearts

heavy lidded and barely pulsed

struggle for signs of life

An incidental glance inward

a shrug of the conscience

we are not meant to love our captors.

Posted in Social Justice | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 32 Comments

Jeffster Awards #34

(Photo credit: skulzstudios)

(Photo credit: skulzstudios)

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.

Princes and Thieves at left handed church

the quiet of the night at johannisthinking

Professors on food stamps at WORDVIRUS

Restorative Justice – The Time is Now at Teach Peace Now

The Price of Law and Order at Take Heart!

_________________

Peace and solidarity to all readers.

Posted in Social Justice | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Dear America,

(Photo credit: freewestradio.com)

(Photo credit: freewestradio.com)

I am writing this letter to the American people to let each and every one of you know how much your contributions and sacrifices have meant to global peace efforts. Your sons and daughters have provided the cannon fodder, er, ammunition needed to wage nonviolent campaigns in volatile regions for the past thirteen years, without pause. Thanks to you, the U.S. military is the Cal Ripken, Jr. of the nominally free world. As your Commander-In-Chief, I have steadfastly resolved never to forge alliances with countries that are guilty of gross human rights violations in order to achieve our ambiguously stated objectives. While some of the Coalition of the Willing 2.0 may have a checkered past, at least none of their citizens have been churlish enough to launch unguided rockets at their thermonuclear benefactors. It is my fervent desire that the United States continue to be seen as a beacon for democracy or capitalism, whichever comes first. While other lesser countries might have fabricated enemies in order to justify bottomless war profiteering, that is a road this nation will never meander down. As the first biracial President, you can rest assured that I would never tap into the deeply racist underpinnings of American society to target black, brown and Muslim populations across the globe, lest our aims be viewed as subservient to America’s beautiful people. In conclusion, if you have a problem and if no one else can help and if you can find them, maybe you can hire…The Xe Team.

Signed, sealed and delivered,

The POTUS

Posted in Social Justice | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 45 Comments