Hello World

January 14, 2011 at 6:09 pm Leave a comment

Just when I think I’ll get out of this whole blogging thing, a new slew of incredibly depressing/outrageous facts emerge which prompt me to feel the need (however ineffectual) too try and do something about them. Or at least draw attention to them. So, here’s a bulleted list, with links, of things that I think we should be talking about:

  • Gulat Mohamed is a 19-year-old American citizen and college student who for the last few weeks has been detained, interrogated and abused in a Yemeni prison, apparently at the behest of American officials, without having been accused of (nor, as far as anyone is aware, having committed) any crime. The US in the meanwhile has placed him on a “no-fly” list, effectively preventing him from escaping persecution as well as barring him from returning to his home – again, without any kind of legal process whatsoever. This is what the new America looks like: a place where even American citizens, young college students just like me (and maybe you), can be indefinitely detained and even tortured without any oversight or legal process. A series of updates here, here and here.
  • On a somewhat related note: While there has been a whole lot of attention to the Julian Assange accusations, and to Wikileaks in general, less attention has been paid to Bradley Manning, the 22-year-old US Army private accused of leaking  documents to Wikileaks about the Afghanistan War. In a similar pattern, Manning has never been formally charged with any crime, nor faced any legal process in either the court system or through military tribunals. Nevertheless, he has been in detention since last May and -despite being, by all accounts, a model prisoner- has been held in solitary confinement for the last six months. For six months and counting, he has spent 23 hours a day in total isolation (yet under constant video surveillance) without a pillow, a sheet, or even the right to exercise or move freely. This is cruel and inhuman treatment and by most standards torture – designed to psychologically destroy Manning as well as intimidate any one else thinking of blowing the whistle on the US Government.  It is, by any standard, unconscionable. A very good summation of the story here.
  • Basically, as those last two stories both come via Salon.com, what I am really urging you is to read Glenn Greenwald’s columns. I truly believe that if we were all reading him every day we’d be having some very different discussions about the state and direction of our country.
  • A tea-party backed school board in Raleigh, North Carolina is set to overturn the county’s integrated school policy, essentially overturning (or just ignoring) Brown vs. Board of Education and setting the clock back to 1950. My favorite quote: “This is Raleigh in 2010, not Selma in the 1960s – my life is integrated,” said new school board member John Tedesco, who we’re all guessing is white. A detailed article worth reading in full over at the Washington Post.
  • On a related note, the Tennessee Tea Party is demanding that school textbooks be re-written so that “No portrayal of minority experience in the history which actually occurred shall obscure the experience or contributions of the Founding Fathers, or the majority of citizens, including those who reached positions of leadership.” Because who cared what “actually occurred” – this is history, and “his” refers to landed white gentrymen and possibly, like, 3/5 of blacks. Or something.  Qouth the Tea Party: there’s been “an awful lot of made-up criticism about, for instance, the founders intruding on the Indians or having slaves or being hypocrites in one way or another.”Wait. They’re saying the founders had slaves?! I guess this whole “liberal bias” in the media really must be accurate. The story, here.
  • And, the winner for the irony award: Justice Scalia goes on record that the 14th Amendment was only ever intended to protect the equal rights of black people – not, you know, like, women. Seriously. He says that. And then goes on to decry the “abuse” of the 14th amendment by extending its equal-protection clause to other groups. I give him the irony award because the 14th Amendment equal-protection clause was instrumental in the Supreme Court’s Feb. 2010 decision to lift restrictions on corporate spending, because corporations are persons and, as such, entitled to equal protection under the law. Justice Scalia was of course the mover and shaker behind that decision. Conclusion: the 14th Amendment was intended by our sacred 1860s founding fathers to apply only to black people… aaaaaand corporations. But not women. Or teh gays. (Article here.)

Well folks, I guess that’s enough dismaying news items for one evening. Tune in tomorrow!


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After the break Links and Thoughts

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Bennett Carpenter
Leiden, Netherlands

Random musings about literature, art, politics and (occasionally) my life as a graduate student in sunny Holland. Click on the pic for more about me.


January 2011
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