Jeffster Awards #38

(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.

Part One: Interview with Anishinabe Scholar Elder Carol A. Hand at lara

100 Days….Oh Gaza at Abu Yazan

When Beautiful Black Turns To Blue at Of Life and Art

Every Man for Himself at Shenandoah Breakdown

Adoptees are a part of the problem at Land of Gazillion Adoptees

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Peace and solidarity to all readers.

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The bluest persuasion

(Photo credit: Jeff Nguyen)

(Photo credit: Jeff Nguyen)

Delve in to the ruins

of a once proud people

and you will find tales

woven in the finest silk

stitched into the very fabric

of their defiant being

for all the world

to gaze in wonderment

at garments cast aside

as if on a lonesome whim.

 

Wade into the days gone by

steeped in the knowledge

it is more better

to break bones than bread

more prudent to drop bombs

than rub salve on the wounds

of a fractured people

whose spirits rise

like wisps of smoke

above the tiresome fray.

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In gratitude

Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In lieu of the Jeffster Awards this week, I would like to share the five most viewed posts of 2014…

1 The state knows what you did last summer
Mic check: Carol A. Hand
A nation at-risk: American hustle
The sequel and the damage done
Mic check: Peter Schreiner

Thank you to all readers and fellow bloggers for making this blog far more than I could make of it on my own. Peace and solidarity to all in the new year.

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Genius take the wheel

(Photo credit: Victoria Pickering)

(Photo credit: Victoria Pickering)

Simply because we were licked a hundred years before we started is no reason for us not to try to win.”

-Atticus Finch

As another year unwinds itself, it is a magical time for deep reflection, thoughtful self-analysis and substantive maturation. Nah, who are we kidding? In America, this is the time of year to eat, drink and be merrily telling our children that all of their good fortunes are dependent on a fat, white man in a suit. As the largest, per capitalist Christian nation on the planet filled the pews and hung their stockings around the chimney with care, there was much to celebrate. After all, 2014 has been a banner year for American exceptionalism as the U.S. has done a fine job aligning it’s standing foreign policy of extrajudicial murder with it’s enshrined domestic policy of extrajudicial killing. If it’s permissible and expected that soldiers kill and interrogate with enhancement mostly dark-skinned human beings in foreign lands, then surely it must be good enough for the homeland. So, as the planet prepares to put a fork in the old year, let’s take a moment to remember some of the highlights…

English: Memory Lane

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While other countries were turning their backs on the people of Gaza during Operation Protective Edge, the U.S. called out the aggressors for their brutality and cut off Congressional funding to Israel.

While other countries were turning their backs on the people of West Africa, the U.S. demanded that the World Health Organization and it’s most prominent benefactor, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, provide first class healthcare to combat the Ebola virus.

While the NSA made sure that all U.S. citizens were safe from surveillance by prying eyes, a Malaysia Airlines flight made a pit stop in the Bermuda Triangle on it’s way to the twilight zone.

While America continued to make great strides towards racial equality, citizens in Ferguson protested state-sanctioned murder as Governor Nixon and the National Guard of Missouri ensured their civil rights were cherished and safeguarded.

While children in the U.S. grew up free from grinding poverty, the state continued to ensure that their educational futures were so bright and debt-free, they had to wear shades.

While other countries were waging actual face-to-face wars (so 2000 and late), the U.S. was launching state-of-the-art drone strikes (so 3008) on civilian colonies populations.

While the bankers who gambled with taxpayer money and pensions were perp walked to the closest federal detention facility, they did not pass go and they did not collect two hundred dollars.

While Ukraine, Syria, and Libya continued to flourish with the help of American interventionalism, citizens around the globe finally decided to stop being lazy, good-for-nothing debtbeats always waiting for Americans to come to their rescue.

The Golden Knights, the U.S. Army's official p...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Clearly, it’s been another landmark year in the sweet land of liberty where bloviating windbags rationalized heinous acts in the pursuit of “terrorists” as necessary evils that inevitably gave way to the mythical slippery slope, home of the elusive Yeti. With luck and a generous sprinkling of the blessed doctrine of manifest destiny, more countries will be decimated, more minorities will be murdered, more schools will be privatized and more Americans will be austeritized in the coming year. As far as I’m concerned, the sooner this year ends, the sooner the state can get started on it’s bucket list. There must be someone out there that Uncle Sam hasn’t reservationed, ghettoed, deported, droned, tortured, detained or renditioned yet. Somehow, in the midst of such prodigious suffering and suffocating austerity, the real takeaway from this year has been the emergence of a virtual army of concerned citizens whose compassion knows no borders. It has been a privilege to be on your side in the struggle…every voice counts and every voice is needed.

Peace and solidarity to all readers.

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Longform: The Disappeared

BY THE FIRST DAYS OF OCTOBER, the outdoor basketball court at the Rural Teachers College in Ayotzinapa, a town in the Mexican state of Guerrero, had become an open-air waiting room of despair. Pain emanated like heat. Under the court’s high, corrugated tin roof, the families of 43 missing students gathered to face the hours between search expeditions, protests, and meetings with government officials, human-rights workers, and forensic anthropologists. Assembled in clumps at the court’s edges, sitting on the concrete floor or in plastic folding chairs formed in semicircles, they spoke in hushed tones and kept to themselves. Most had traveled from small, indigenous, campesino communities in Guerrero’s mountainsides. Many had arrived without a change of clothes. They had all come to look for their sons.

On the night of September 26, 2014, in the city of Iguala, 80 miles away, uniformed police ambushed five buses of students from the college and one bus carrying a professional soccer team. Together with three unidentified gunmen, they shot and killed six people, wounded more than 20, and “disappeared” 43 students. One victim’s body was found in a field the next morning. His killers had cut off his face. Soldiers at the 27th Infantry Battalion army base, located less than two miles away and tasked with fighting organized crime, did not intercede.

News of the attack was met initially with muted outrage, mostly because the reports out of Iguala, a highlands city of 110,000, were confusing. For several days, conflicting counts of the missing students circulated. It wasn’t until October 4, when state prosecutors announced that they had uncovered the first in a series of mass graves on the outskirts of Iguala that the national and international media descended on the region. When forensic workers confirmed that the first of the 30 charred human remains were not the missing students, anger and horror became widespread. Throughout October, marches and vigils took place across the country. In Chilpancingo, the Guerrero state capital, Ayotzinapa students smashed windows and set state government buildings on fire. In Iguala, protesters sacked and burned the municipal palace.

Although it was neither an isolated event nor the largest massacre in recent years, what occurred in Iguala has struck at the core of Mexican society. Perhaps it was the scale of the violence, or the sheer brutality, or that the victims were college students, or that the perpetrators were mostly municipal police, or that the mayor of Iguala, his wife, and the police chief were probably behind the attack, or that the state and federal governments were deceptive in their investigation and callous in their treatment of the mothers and fathers of the murdered, wounded, and disappeared. Whatever the cause — and it was likely a combination of all these reasons — it is impossible to overstate the effect of the attacks on the country. Mexicans speak of Iguala as shorthand for collective trauma. Mexico is now a nation in mourning, and at the heart of that grief are those 43 families on the Ayotzinapa basketball court and their agonizing demand: Bring them back alive.

Continue reading

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Infernal

‘Solidarity Wall’, Falls Road, Belfast (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

‘Solidarity Wall’, Falls Road, Belfast (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In thinking of America, I sometimes find myself admiring her bright blue sky—her grand old woods—her fertile fields—her beautiful rivers— her mighty lakes, and star-crowned mountains. But my rapture is soon checked, my joy is soon turned to mourning. When I remember that all is cursed with the infernal spirit of slaveholding, robbery and wrong,— when I remember that with the waters of her noblest rivers, the tears of my brethren are borne to the ocean, disregarded and forgotten, and that her most fertile fields drink daily of the warm blood of my outraged sisters, I am filled with unutterable loathing, and led to reproach myself that any thing could fall from my lips in praise of such a land. America will not allow her children to love her. She seems bent on compelling those who would be her warmest friends, to be her worst enemies. May God give her repentance before it is too late, is the ardent prayer of my heart. I will continue to pray, labor and wait, believing that she cannot always be insensible to the dictates of justice, or deaf to the voice of humanity.

― Frederick Douglass

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…and the American way

It would be advisable to think of progress in the crudest, most basic terms: that no one should go hungry anymore, that there should be no more torture, no more Auschwitz. Only then will the idea of progress be free from lies.”

― Theodor W. Adorno

There are certain days that stand out for any observer of the human condition in the context of American culture and geopolitics. The morning of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the massacre at Wounded Knee, the arrival of the first slave ships to American shores, the moment when Agent Orange was given the green light by Monsanto and Dow Chemical executives and the day of the assassination of Dr. King, to name a few. This past week marked another watershed day for America the oh-so-beautiful, whose citizen’s consciences must bear the stain of the rivers of blood that have been spilled in their name. The release of the CIA torture report sets a new bar for the intelligence and military apparatus to limbo under. How low can we go? Apparently, ever lower as the report confirmed what many critical thinkers already knew…that, for the past decade, the U.S. has operated with impunity in torturing, assassinating and murdering foreign citizens.

“Under torture you say not only what the inquisitor wants, but also what you imagine might please him, because a bond (this, truly, diabolical) is established between you and him…I also have belonged to those groups of men who believe they can produce the truth with white-hot iron. Well, let me tell you, the white heat of truth comes from another flame.”
― Umberto Eco

The complicity of the American Psychological Association deserves to be a part of the discourse and weighed in the balance when assigning blame for these crimes against our fellow humans. Psychologists have played a crucial role in designing and overseeing the enhanced interrogation techniques and torture regimens that detainees have been subjected to. Two doctors have been identified who helped prescribe the torture program, in 2002, when an alleged Al Qaeda lieutenant was being held at a detention center in Thailand. The Hippocratic swearing psychologists were from the military’s Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) program that trained soldiers to resist torture by exposing them to, you guessed it, torture. If this all sounds strangely familiar, then you must have been paying attention. The involvement of licensed psychologists lends an imprimatur to the horrowshow taking place in clandestine sights around the globe.

The object of terrorism is terrorism. The object of oppression is oppression. The object of torture is torture. The object of murder is murder. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?
― George Orwell

Following the release of the CIA’s macabre report card, I am deeply ashamed for any contributions I have made, even unwittingly, to feeding this ravenous beast that devours anything in it’s path in the name of power, profits and princedom. Bush seamlessly blended into Obama to give us more than 13 years of nonstop war, torture, and extrajudicial killings. One can only speculate who the next killer-in-chief may be but it’s virtually assured that the policy will be to keep on shocking (and aweing) in the free world. Power that is not wielded is like the Walton family leaving a nickel of profits on the table…it ain’t going to happen.  The flexing of corporate and state power has long been evident to global citizens on the wrong end of a NAFTA Article or downward facing detainees in Guantanamo. It’s the American people, themselves, who are finally waking up to the reality that the government they’ve pledged allegiance to as children is a harsh master.

Resource: Physicians for Human Rights: US Torture

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Postscript: I regret that I haven’t been able to visit my fellow bloggers as much as I would like lately. Work and family have taken up my time and energies but I hope to visit soon. Peace and solidarity to all readers.

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Longform: A Rape on Campus: A Brutal Assault and Struggle for Justice at UVA

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‘There Are No Victories That Will Bring Us Peace’

Jeff Nguyen:

In almost all cases, the state (prosecution) has the upper hand. A lack of an indictment was a tell of the state’s true intentions. The delayed reporting of the verdict was also deliberate to increase the already frayed tensions between law enforcement and the community which has made them look bad. The Brown family have been incredibly dignified in their public statements all while having to mourn the loss of their son. They deserved the justice afforded to Officer Wilson. The terrifying racial stereotypes laced through Darren Wilson’s testimony paid homage to Attack of the GIANT NEGROES!!

Originally posted on Longreads Blog:

It is good and right that we hound the state into giving us justice, but blacks cannot delude themselves into thinking that the state will ever become justice. There are no laws that can be passed or reforms that can be pursued that will allow us to stop being vigilant. There are no victories that will bring us peace. We will never be able to pound our swords into plowshares, because we will always have to be prepared to fight. Dr. King, our beautiful prophet, was wrong. The arc of the moral universe does not lead anywhere in particular, not in this life. If it bends towards justice, it is only because it is pulled that way by our constant effort, by our unceasing straining and sweating and shouting.

I wish I were ending this comment with answers or at least encouragement, but I have none to offer. I just…

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A time to tear down

I can concede that 1776 may have been the time that tried men’s souls but it’s 2014 that be trying our bodies and minds as well. From the shame of poor teeth to the unraveling of a colonized mind to cotton field capitalism, we are all feeling the effects of concentrated opulence and diluted scarcity to varying degrees. In Missouri, Governor Nixon has declared a state of emergency before the verdict is even in to deal with those uppity residents in Ferguson. In Michigan, a court ruled against those uppity students in the Great Lakes by finding the state “has no constitutional requirement” to provide a quality education. It’s too bad that the citizens of Missouri and Michigan aren’t people corporations.  On a slightly less trying note, selected prisoners in San Quentin are learning to code while the city of Baltimore is discussing ways to house the homeless. In the midst of such turbulent waters, the bards and minstrels are needed more than ever to help us to transcend our circumstances. So kick back, relax and forget your own trying times, at least, for the next 6 minutes and 43 seconds. I think we all know the answer to one of the lines…Mother, should I trust the government?

Peace and solidarity to all readers.

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