Memorial Day 2017: Pour one out for those who fought the War at Home

memorial day

Memorial Day gives us a chance to pause and reflect somberly on those who have left us, while more recently serving in wars of US aggression. Do the research. When was the last time the US sent men and women to fight a war in which the country has actually been attacked and threatened. And Afghanistan doesn’t count.The original intent of the day  was to allow folks to remember the dead and their sacrifice, after the Union victory over the South in the US Civil War. But  it also gives us a chance to reflect on the casualties of the internal war waged by our bourgeoisie against the population at home.

Incidentally, Memorial Day is one of the holidays that make up the pillars of US Civil Religion, which is the real “faith” of many North Americans despite their claims of allegiance to other gods the diety that is most revered is their country.

So today with the possible exception of WW I and WWII vets many will honor those who fought honorably for a dishonorable cause. While those who sacrificed serving what they believed to be the interest of this country, in reality they gave themselves up to improve the bottom line of the corporate robber barons the banksters and the ruling families while expanding the reach, the ego and the territory of the rulers of this country.

On the other hand the less celebrated  heroes of this country are those who fought to improve the living conditions and lives of their fellow Americans.

Today we honor the Native Americans who fought to hold on to their land and their birthright. Geronimo who was such a threat to European hegemony that he had to be murdered in his jail cell.  The Seminoles and runaway former slaves gave the famous Indian Killer Andrew Jackson and the US government all it could handle. The US government lost a few battles to these Indians and slaves in the swamps of Northern Florida. It took the government decades to subdue them and when they did they resorted to dirty tricks, terror and burning of Seminole homes and agriculture. The Seminole leaders including Osceola, were only subdued after being tricked into attending a so-called “peace” conference.

And the Indian population has continued to fight for their rights and the rights of others.

We should honor those who sacrificed so that workers could have an eight hour day and not have to work from sun up to sun down. We should honor the early unionists who sacrificed and sometimes were killed by police and other armed agents of the government for asking for just a little more from the bosses.

Today we should remember the abolitionists who sacrificed well being and social position  and sometimes their lives to take a stand against slavery.

We should tip our hat to the courageous White sharecroppers who banded together sometimes with fellow Black sharecroppers and tenant farmers and formed cooperatives often at the risk of death or just short of it.

This is a good time to remember the women who fought for the right for women to vote and continued to fight for women’s rights and everyone’s rights. Some as a result lost freedom and others lost livelihoods.

Today we should  remember those who died trying to get this country to live up to its creed of justice and equality for all. The Civil Rights Movement created quite a share of martyrs too many to name here but suffice it to say that many more died simply trying to live out their lives and demanding the rights promised to them by their birthright and the US Constitution.

One soldier upon being asked to deploy to Iraq in the US second intervention in that country said, “It to me is embarrassing to fight for a way of life in which basic human needs, like a place to sleep one hot meal a day and some medical attention cannot be met in our nation’s capitol.”

We should pour one for the many heroes and sheroes who actually fought and died to make men and women free, who fought so that everyone could make a decent living, decent and affordable housing, equal rights, equal access and equal treatment.

Today we should remember all the freedom fighters who have paved the way for us to enjoy the few freedoms we have left. Today pour one for the freedom fighters who sacrificed fighting the war at home.

justice then peace

Mother’s Day 2017: A Reflection

purple rose

Mother’s Day is an odd holiday considering the fact that in our patriarchal and capitalist North America women aren’t quite fully accepted as equals fully part of Americana it seems patronizing. The cynical among us might suggest that the holiday was invented to boost business sales particularly the greeting card industry, the cut flower industry and to fill restaurants.

 

And Mother’s Day must be a painful day especially for the Mothers whose children are no longer around to wish them a Happy Mother’s Day especially those who have lost sons through senseless violence. Whether its violence launched on behalf of the US billionaire class, (the idea of soldiers defending the constitution or the country hasn’t been true in a long time) or police violence, gang violence, or violence in the streets, it is all without a doubt senseless.

 

The Mothers of Mike Brown, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Philando Castille, Rekia Boyd, Jamar Clarke, Alton Sterling,…. and the list goes on, are missing their children in the US because of State violence, which is the result of a need to maintain a system of power and control  and which exists to reinforce racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia and classism. Their children are dead for that reason and that reason alone.

 

The justifications after the fact are only accepted by those who are fully duped and propagandized, empathy deprived and or blinded by class and racial prejudice.

 

Mothers are missing their children in oppressed communities because  when a society places certain groups  outside of the mainstream and makes it difficult to join the mainstream, while crowding them into ghettos and targeting them for special treatment; that attitude, that societal hatred, will be internalized.  If I don’t value my own life, I am not likely to value anyone else’s and as a result the cycle of violence continues.

 

Others are missing their children because of other kinds of violence; perpetrated by the State’s looking away, allowing the George Zimmerman’s to get away with murder.

Mothers are missing their children because of the incarceral State,the US has become one great big gulag.

 

Furthermore children are missing their mothers because of the incarceral State, the tough on crime proclivity of  US jurisprudence. But crime has declined while the number of children made motherless by this system’s desire to exact revenge and enforce a draconian and Dark Ages kind of justice, has increased.

 

Motherhood is not necessarily valued in this country which is exposed by the fact that the US leads the world in deaths of mothers during childbirth.

 

“The ability to protect the health of mothers and babies in childbirth is a basic measure of a society’s development. Yet every year in the U.S., 700 to 900 women die from pregnancy or childbirth-related causes, and some 65,000 nearly die — by many measures, the worst record in the developed world.”  That quote was taken from an article by NPR about the problem of women dying in childbirth, which focused on the fact that the US trails all of the developed world in its efforts to prevent it.

 

It’s a particularly hypocritical celebration in light of the fact that there is a large group of US citizens who are lobbying to get rid of (or at least have the government defund Planned Parenthood), which incidentally helps would be mothers get badly needed pre-natal care. Oddly many of these people claim to be Christians. They walk a really bizarre tight rope of wanting women to carry their babies to term while making it difficult for them to get all the care they need to do so.

 

And then there is a recent story that does separate the Mothers from the rest of us. Stacey Greenwood’s husband was killed by Kenneth Williams, while trying to elude police after escaping from prison in Arkansas and wound up on death row for the killing of another man during that escape. Williams was recently one of several men put to death by that state.

 

Ms. Greenwood repaid Williams with kindness and forgiveness. Ms. Greenwood and her daughter Kyla made national news after announcing that they had forgiven Williams and written letters to the Arkansas parole board seeking clemency on his behalf. They further made headlines when they paid for airline tickets for Williams’s daughter, whom he hadn’t seen since she was three and granddaughter to visit him before he was put to death.

 

What’s striking about the mothers who have loss so much is their amazing lack of hatred and bitterness.If anybody can demonstrate real love and set this society on a civilized course it would be mothers; mothers like Stacey Greenwood and so many countless others.

 

justice then peace

 

 

St Paul cop who punched girl and jury that acquitted him belong in prison, a zoo, hell or all three

StPaul cop Michael Soucheray

In one of the more despicable and egregious miscarriages of justice( which calls into question our entire so-called civilization), a St Paul jury found St Paul cop Michael Soucheray not guilty of punching a reportedly suicidal 14 year old girl in the face.

Incredibly there is a video (see KARE 11 post below) of the event which shows a young girl who was clearly having a mental health crisis, who was handcuffed tightly and being manhandled and roughed up and talked to as if she wasn’t having as she termed it, ”a mental break.”

The fact that the comment pages are filled with those who approve of the cops is further proof that we humans may not be who we think we are. Where is the compassion, the empathy and sympathy?

Any 6 year old viewing video of the incident could tell you that the cop who hit this girl along with his partner are just wrong and are mishandling a girl in distress, mental distress at that.

This girl was at a shelter for sexually exploited girls and the folks running the place thought it was a good idea to call in an organization, that has proven time and time again that it doesn’t have the skills, nor the desire to deal with people in crisis.

Yes the girl did spit but it wasn’t a real back of throat mucus filled projection. And to be fair, most would have had reacted by lashing out. But I think most would have restrained themselves. much like is done when a clearly distressed person a mentally unstable person or someone in a crisis lashes out. A professional is supposed to recognize this and not respond in kind.

But that’s the problem with using the word professional to describe the police, we think they are professionals in the sense that they are public servants. But they are not public servants and their professionalism stems from their ability to keep order on behalf of the powerful. They are butt kicking specialists in the service of Big Business, well off white folks and the State.

Do your research, study the history, the origins of the role and development of the police and you will see this is not hyperbole! And its just important to simply observe what they do that is a good indication of who they are and keep in mind they enforce laws that are sometimes unjust and many times inequitable while at the same holding the poor, the immigrant, People of Color to a higher standard of the law.

At one point the 14 year old asks the cop after he punches and chokes her,” Why would you do that?” Is it because they never saw her as someone who could have been their daughter, who was simply in distress? It appears that they never once viewed her as a human being, but a problem to be solved, something to be put down, someone or thing that was resisting authority. They view us all the same, children, old folks,the handicapped, physically or mentally disabled,it doesn’t matter, all they know is that you are supposed to yield to them.

If we are honest many operate like professional butt-kickers, thugs in uniform. The kind public servant,is the exception to the rule.

If we were a society of human beings, we would have people who could respond to other people in crisis. But us so-called human beings sit back and let the animals among us, convince the rest of us that the sick and ailing and mentally disturbed deserve no help and we even allow them to cut funding from needed programs.

According to the cops lawyer Peter Wold, they (the cops) were “trying to calm a hysterical, reportedly suicidal teenager and get her to a hospital.” But the video shows them antagonizing the child, while she is clearly out of it.

The equally delusional counselor explained his clients actions thusly, “the girl spat at the officer, causing his training to kick in. Soucheray employed a tactic he called “startle, flinch and respond,” to defend himself and de-escalate the situation.”

Say what?

How do you defend yourself from spit? There was nothing to defend. And punching and choking a hand cuffed girl in the face (four times from what can be seen in the video) calling her, according to the video a “f—ing b—ch” didn’t reveal that Soucheray was defending himself, but rather that he was a sick, sadistic, bully. Notice he and his partner taunt the child about going to jail.

Incredibly, these public servants had the temerity to say after they put handcuffs on her too tight and punched her in the face, that her behavior got her in her position and that they came to help her and that she should have acted differently. As they admit in the video, they did’t know her name because they didn’t bother to ask. Because apparently, they didn’t come to calm her down, they came to make her yield, to make her obey.

The uniformed sadists knew that 12 properly propagandized people, perpetrating the fraud of being “human,” would not empathize with the 14 year old, even though she was White. Because she was flawed, she was damaged goods, she was having a mental crisis. She wasn’t like them so they couldn’t empathize with her, she was acting out so she wasn’t deserving or her rights.

As the lawyer said, “Juries know what they’re doing,”

And you couldn’t make up the stuff that came out of the mouth of their morally challenged lawyer. He actually said that “the girl suffered no injuries and no marks on her face,” inferring that it was all somehow okay.

And in his closing arguments he said about the girl, She doesn’t get a free pass under the law because life may have been unfair to this point” This man actually implied that her being sexually abused was simply a matter of life being “unfair.”

Where is the outrage? Where are the women’s rights advocates? Don’t folks care about White girls anymore?

justice then peace

United Airlines fiasco: Munoz vs Dao was just business

United Logo

So United came to terms with Dr. David Dao the elderly passenger they publicly humiliated and brutalized. However it doesn’t remove the stain nor the stench from what happened. What happened two weeks ago on that airplane was shocking. But then again we should not have been that surprised, considering our social/ economic/ political system which is driven solely by the profit motive and reinforced by naked force.

It is a system built around the needs of profit, not human beings and it was in full display in the mistreatment of Dr. Dao.

Not even the fact that the offending passenger Dr. Dao had purchased a ticket, paid his way, pulled his own weight, so to speak could save him from the wrath of the money grubbers. This conflicts with the fallacy that if we do everything the right way, we will be okay.If we put our money down we are supposed to get what we pay for, well not exactly.

Many were upset with the initial response of the United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz, but in retrospect it made perfect sense. Good business acumen told him that whatever he did he shouldn’t admit guilt, which is tantamount to a confession of wrong doing, which could cost lots of money in a lawsuit. But he miscalculated in trying to save face and money he actually wound up looking callous and the company took a financial and public relations hit.

But not to worry, where else can the flying public turn? The folks running things and the go along to get along public have allowed the airline industry to be pared down to four major carriers. The lack of competition is reflected in airline ticket prices, which oddly never seem to go down.

So clearly Munoz went too far beyond the pale as it turns out, it would have been cheaper to simply apologize in the beginning and settle the inevitable lawsuit. Though United cleaned up their initial goof and sounded more humane in offering an apology the damage had already been done.

The hard core reality of a society that has been built around the needs of profit rather than those of human beings resulted in the CEO, the gate agents, the police, United Airlines in general viewing this man not as a human being, but a mere customer who had inconvenienced the profiteers.

The incident exposed the true and violent nature of US society. Human decency and compassion conflict with the profit motive.
It also exposed the fallacy of law enforcement as regular folks that are just doing their jobs.

If they were like most of us they would have stopped and said, ‘there has to be a better way to handle this situation.’ If they were just like us (as the propaganda would have us believe) they would have said to themselves I wouldn’t want anyone to force me out of a seat that I purchased. If they operated just like us, they would have seen Dr. Dao as they would their own relative, they would have said I wouldn’t want my grandparent to be dragged down an airplane aisle.

But they aren’t just like us they are programmed to view the world as us vs them. So they dragged a helpless old man down an airplane aisle like he was a piece of trash because the needs of capital dictated it. Note that after it’s been made obvious to the world that they were wrong the Chicago airport cops are pretending the man busted his own lip: he resisted.

But, after all that is their job is not to enforce the rules of decency, but the dictates that govern the profiteers.

And the gate agents succumbed to an us vs them mentality that allowed them to identify with the needs of their bosses, rather than the needs of a human being.

Check out what the leader of the Flight Attendants Union Sara Nelson had to say. She applauded Munoz saying “When something like this happens and people have to go to work and have order in their workplace to keep everyone safe, it can be incredibly demoralizing,” she said. “Some credit needs to be given to him.”

Her response was not only tone deaf, but it revealed how much the union bureaucracy identifies with their bosses.

But thank goodness that the passengers humanity kicked in and they screamed their disapproval as human beings should have. They let it be known that this was not proper despite the needs of Big Business.

Ultimately we have to resist our programming and not just voice our approval but stand in the aisles, block their path and say no not today.

justice then peace