“They say every man needs protection,
They say every man must fall,
Yet I swear I see my reflection
Some place so high above this wall.”
It’s August already in the land of the rising gun and the the expected verdict in the Bradley Manning court martial trial has been handed down as the former United States Army Private First Class has been found guilty on 19 charges that include violating the Espionage Act. Of course, the POTUS had already declared Manning guilty long ago so the trial was merely a formality, bringing to a close three years of imprisonment without trial in Kafka-like conditions that amounted to torture. While some progressives breathed a sigh of relief that Manning was judged not guilty of the most serious charge of “aiding the enemy”, the possible maximum sentence of 136 years for the remaining charges is a de facto life sentence if handed down. Along with the time he has already served, Manning also gets a bonus 112 days knocked off his sentence for the “excessively harsh treatment” he endured before his trial. The POTUS has clearly watched A Bug’s Life more than once and studied closely the work of the venerable Hopper, “You let one ant stand up to us, then they all might stand up! Those puny little ants outnumber us a hundred to one and if they ever figure that out there goes our way of life! It’s not about food, it’s about keeping those ants in line.” The significance of Manning’s actions will take years, if not decades, to fully appreciate but when he willingly took responsibility for his actions without throwing anyone under the bus, he earned his political prisoner status in the eyes of the world. His stated motives were noble, “I believed that if the general public, especially the American public, had access to the information contained within… it could spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general as it related to Iraq and Afghanistan.” Unfortunately, he may have overestimated the attention span of the American public who display more concern over the fate of Juicy Joe than the millions of Iraqi, Afghanis, Pakistanis…well, you get the picture, that have lost their lives and homes in the decade long war on
On Friday, I attended a rally on Al-Quds day to stand in international solidarity with the Palestinian people. Quds is the Arabic name for Jerusalem and the holiday began in Iran in 1979, which coincidentally coincides with the last day of Ramadan. Props to Revolutionary Tears for the heads up about the protests that were held around the globe and will, no doubt, be
covered ignored by Anderson Cooper and the rest of the mainstream media. The rally was sparsely attended by mostly Muslims families from the local community but there was a respresentative from Neturei Karta, a group of Orthodox Jews who oppose the Israeli state’s treatment of the Palestinians. I must admit it was somewhat entertaining to watch the look on the faces in the cars driving by. I could almost see the hamster wheel turning, “Palestine…is that in New Jersey? What the heck is Zionism anyway, some Scientology cult? Wait, we give money to Israel?” At the end of the day, we all went went our separate ways while the Palestinians continue to re-enact the story of David and Goliath for modern day audiences. Which reminds me of Avi, a Palestinian Christian who has something to teach all of us about the value of time and money. I am ashamed to admit that much of my life I was ignorant of the true nature of the occupation and blindly repeated the refrain, “Israel is our only ally in the Middle East”. It was only when I was willing to examine the false constructs I had built in my own life that I could begin to see the ones around me that were based on nothing but the stories that had been spoon-fed me to me by the dominant culture. But until this nation is willing to collectively face its genocidal past, it cannot understand the present conditions its mired in and so the wheels of injustice keep on turning.
Meanwhile, in an unrelated note, in Wisconsin the Solidarity Sing Along was forced to resort to auto-tuning when participants were arrested for protesting in the Capitol at Madison. Some probably haven’t left the Capitol since the protests, in 2011, when Governor Walker dismantled the teacher’s unions and collective bargaining. It’s good to know there are many who truly care and are willing to stand up to the corporate-capitalists wherever they may roam. If only there was a buffalo jump for any politician who has accepted money from the Koch brothers, Broad, Walton or Gates Foundations. Finally, I leave you with the headline of the week and a shout out to my fellow bloggers at Illuminate and Philosophers for Change (who also happen to be working on a social media campaign: Speak up for justice-fairness). Both bloggers are working on building a network of like-minded activists, artists and writers who are interested in working together towards social justice. I am looking forward to sharing more voices and stories from my fellow bloggers who have a standing invitation to participate in the Mic check guest blogger series, the quality of the contributions I have already received has been stellar. It’s time for our stories to be told and to be heard and for the voice of the oppressor to be drowned out. We are all in this together and together we shall overcome. Peace and solidarity to all readers.