The arc gets longer


Justice (Photo credit: elycefeliz)

There is a commonly held misconception, a myth if you will, that the civil rights movement was an era in American history that clawed forth unprecedented gains for African Americans, women and other marginalized people in American society and as a result changed the nation forever. While progress was made, the fallacy in looking back on the movement lies precisely in the notion that one must look back to view it. The movement is looked at by high school students in America as a chapter in their history textbooks rather than as an ongoing process that must be nudged even, dare I say it, bent in the direction of fairness and equality. The ruling class, whose corporate lackeys published those previously mentioned textbooks, placed a feather in the cap of the civil rights movement by positioning and stage managing Barak Obama as the culmination of the movement. Rumor has it they may have even called it macaroni. Another factor to keep in mind is that the passing of laws is not the same as the changing of hearts and minds as the never ending growth of the prison-industrial complex attests to this reality. Fortunately, far more astute minds than my own saw through the looking glass and pegged the POTUS for what he was, the ultimate co-opting of a movement that saw its leaders imprisoned, assassinated and compromised into submission much as the American Indian Movement had been before it in another dark moment in American history. These ruling classers seems to have this ruling thing down to a science and the rest of us are just playing catch up.


Austerity (Photo credit: Gilderic Photography)

Regarding the sequester, as they say in America, the chit just got real. The pundits moan and groan whether the GOPS and DEMS really, really mean it this time and will follow through on their threats of massive cuts in government spending vis a vis the sequester formerly known as the fiscal cliff, which is a euphemism for austerity. The POTUS himself has finally put on a pair of comfortable walking shoes to make a show of rallying the civilian troops to convince their “elected” officials to come to the bargaining table but keep in mind who the architect of the sequester panel was in the first place. Further, it is imperative to grasp the concept that you control the narrative by controlling the discourse. Every word (sequester, grand bargain, fiscal cliff) is analyzed, vetted and studied, like the candidates themselves, before rolling them out to the public sphere to test the limits of what the public will endure. Fortunately, for the ruling class, the American public has shown they will put up with a whole hell of a lot as long as it doesn’t interfere with their NFL/MLB/NBA/NHL seasons. For Main Street and the mainstream media, there are no lessons to be learned or warnings to be heeded from the economic (austerity) crises in Greece/Spain/Ireland/Iceland. America is an exceptional country filled with exceptional people that will never suffer the same fate as the rest of the world. Too bad the ruling class doesn’t care about us any more than they care about one single person outside of their sphere of inbred influence.

Prisoners of Conscience window (Photo credit: Philocrites)

Prisoners of Conscience window (Photo credit: Philocrites)

Because its all connected, this week Bradley Manning finally spoke on his behalf at his court-martial hearing in Fort Meade, MD, and took full responsibility for leaking classified documents to Wikileaks. Let that sink in, in a country where our leaders in government, business and the military have difficulty taking responsibility for anything, a 25 year-old former Army Private First Class, facing the possibility of the rest of his natural born life in a cell, willingly admitted to his actions before the world. This, dear readers, is what courage looks like. Journalists present in the courtroom reported on Manning’s statements, here is an excerpt regarding the infamous helicopter gunship attack on civilians in Baghdad in 2010 that involved reporters and children:

The dehumanized the individuals they were engaging and seemed to not value human life by referring to them as quote “dead bastards” unquote and congratulating each other on the ability to kill in large numbers. At one point in the video there is an individual on the ground attempting to crawl to safety. The individual is seriously wounded. Instead of calling for medical attention to the location, one of the aerial weapons team crew members verbally asks for the wounded person to pick up a weapon so that he can have a reason to engage. For me, this seems similar to a child torturing ants with a magnifying glass.”

It was dawning on Manning that people aren’t particularly thrilled or appreciative when an occupying army shows up on their doorstep in a cloud of Humvees, tanks and heavy artillery. Manning was growing up and analyzing the events before him with a critical eye, something the military and our corporate masters fear more than anything else. While he pled guilty to possessing and releasing classified documents, the government is still planning to take him to trial for more serious charges of “aiding the enemy” and similar accusations that carry a maximum life sentence. Manning followed his conscience over orders and has sacrificed his freedom so that others could get a peek behind the theater’s curtains. This cannot be tolerated and now the head grasshopper must make an example of him so the rest of the ants stay in line. The shocking part isn’t what he revealed, its how little most of the mainstream press and pubic gave a damn.

Activism on a Tuesday in D.C.: the legacy caus...

Activism on a Tuesday in D.C.: the legacy cause (3 of 4) (Photo credit: Thiophene_Guy)

An article I came across about the Oscar winning film Argo stirred some lingering questions that have been festering in the product of public schools mind I must contend with. Why did Affleck and especially Bigelow in 0Dark30 get access that most journalists, defense attorneys and activist groups cannot obtain for their clients or for the public at large? Argo and 0Dark30 are rife with propaganda and sound bites of the dominant culture from the opening scenes to the final credits. The intelligence agencies have been in the movie making (myth making) business for a long time and know how to sell a story to their passive American audiences. TV and film are filled with shows whose plot lines feature spies or ex-spies with hearts of gold. Bigelow and Affleck were both selling stories not telling ones and they deserve to be called out on it. Lastly, I leave you with some final words from Manning himself:

We were obsessed with capturing and killing human targets on lists and ignoring goals and missions. I believed if the public, particularly the American public, could see this it could spark a debate on the military and our foreign policy in general as it applied to Iraq and Afghanistan. It might cause society to reconsider the need to engage in counter terrorism while ignoring the human situation of the people we engaged with every day.”

I wish I had been that insightful and reflective when I was 25 years old. Manning has found out the hard way that heavy is the crown of the moral crusader and that history tends to publish the winners most prominently in its textbooks. The Age of Austerity© has arrived on the shores of America and those who stand along the watchtower are being put on furlough. It looks like for now the arc of moral justice just got a little longer and the only thing bending is the backs of the American people.

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20 Responses to The arc gets longer

  1. The Global Perambulator says:

    Great article. Bradley E. Manning is possibly the greatest living American.


    • Jeff Nguyen says:

      His court statement shows a human being with incredible integrity and an awareness of self that has evolved to include others rather than demonize them. I agree with you that he a great American.


  2. The Global Perambulator says:

    i think you will dig this:


  3. Bradley Manning is indeed an Honourable man and I salute him.
    Alas I’m not quite sure about Julian’s sense of honour. He should really stop running and face his accusers, whatever the cost, as a matter of principle, to defend his personal Integrity.


    • Toadfish says:

      Hi Reverendhellfire, the only thing is that if Assange remains outside of prison he can continue to work to release more documents. It’s possible that this is more valuable than defending his honor in some abstract sense. It might be more honorable to fight another day.


    • Jeff Nguyen says:

      First, love the name. Second, I have mixed feelings about Assange. The narrative as I understood it was that he fought extradition to Sweden because he was afraid of being extradited indefinitely to the U.S. While his current situation in an Ecuadorian embassy is still far better than Manning’s, he still is effectively a prisoner of conscience. Putting Assange aside for the moment, there are many who have no problem with “facing their accusers” if they feel that a fair trial is possible. The non-criminal prosecution of the bankers and countless corporate executives by the DOJ and multi-tiered system of justice that exists in America makes the right to remain silent an overriding consideration in such matters. You might find this older article of interest:

      Thanks for your comment and for stopping by. I hope to check out your blog’s poetry and perspectives further.


  4. Alcuin says:

    I came here from Systemic Disorder. Excellent post – I’ll be browsing through your archives!


  5. Toadfish says:

    Really interesting about having to look back at the civil rights movement, Jeff. I’d never thought about it that way. It’s not as if the need for (or indeed effort to obtain) more civil rights is just gone. The struggle is over and we’re all living in a world of cupcakes and rainbows. The prison industrial complex is an excellent example of that. It was a clever twist of narrative to imply that the civil rights movement was some thing that happened forty years ago and now it’s done. Also, long live Bradley Manning. It really is amazing that he plead guilty. This isn’t mine, but you might consider signing the Bradley Manning thank you card that they’re going to bring to him. Apparently 10,000 people have signed it already.


  6. vgonis says:

    Yet another great post. Wish more people read your blog. As for politicians admitting their mistakes, well, if they had any sense of shame they wouldn’t commit such political crimes in the first place. Carry on! Thank you.


    • Jeff Nguyen says:

      Thanks, if more people read my blog I’m sure my ego would just get out of control. : ) Anyone who likes black and white photography (I do) should definitely check out your blog, its unbelievable. I am planning on looking at your blog about austerity and Greece, my previous post talked about it too. Good to hear from you again.


  7. michelle says:

    Reblogged this on Michelle's Projects for English Learners and commented:
    (Includes info on Manning’s case)


  8. Pingback: “The arc gets longer” from Deconstructing Myths | Michelle's Projects for English Learners

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