Speakout is Truthout's treasure chest for bloggy, quirky, personally reflective, or especially activism-focused pieces. Speakout articles represent the perspectives of their authors, and not those of Truthout.
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." So I'm calling on African American Artists of a Certain Status to do the right thing and speak out forcefully against homelessness and the social acceptability of poverty, the ongoing [extrajudicial] killings of African-Americans, the school-to-prison pipeline, the slave-like conditions of the federal penitentiary and all other forms of "Jim Crow 2.0."
The front page of this morning's New York Times features an in depth report on the permanent damage this country inflicted on people it tortured in Gitmo and secret prisons around the world in the aftermath of 9/11. The article details the severe mental problems people continue to experience years after the torture ends. What the article does not mention is that we don't need to look to our secret prisons to find torture. We are torturing people every day, right here in the US, in our state and federal prisons.
Usually the US presidential debates are more about personalities than politics. The phony Commission on Presidential Debates, deeply in the pocket of Democratic and Republican parties, serves as a fig leaf to mask the shamefully narrow discussion that passes for democracy in "The Greatest Country On Earth.™" But living in the 21st century, we do not have to accept the limitations that those in charge would use to hem us in. With technology at our service, we can present a real, broader debate. According to imperial decree, we are only allowed to hear from the two candidates that represent Wall Street and Corporate America.
On October 9, 200 of us marched along the dusty highway between Nogales and Tucson toward the Border Patrol checkpoint just north of Tubac, Arizona. At the front, those of us prepared to risk arrest clutched painted crosses in our hands, each bearing the name of someone murdered by US-trained assassins or the militarized US-Mexico border. The desert sun beat mercilessly on our linked arms as we sang: I see/I see/No immigration police/No checkpoints/No fear/The world we want is right here.
Fifteen years ago, on October 19, 2001, Donald Rumsfeld addressed B-2 bomber crews at Whiteman AFB in Missouri, as they prepared to fly halfway across the world to wreak misdirected vengeance on the people of Afghanistan and begin the longest war in US history. Rumsfeld told the bomber crews: "We have two choices. Either we change the way we live, or we must change the way they live. We choose the latter. And you are the ones who will help achieve that goal."
Watching US politics these past months, culminating in the revelation of Donald Trump's disgusting comments about women who he groped, I was overwhelmed by the sense of how much US politics needs a fundamental reorientation. We need a New Bottom Line of love and generosity that could reshape every dimension of our economic, political, cultural and spiritual assumptions about reality. To get there, we need a fundamental transformation of consciousness.
As October 10 approaches, many cities in the Unites States will revisit what has become an annual dialogue about whether or not cities, states and other municipalities should abolish Columbus Day in favor of celebrating Indigenous Peoples' Day. More than a dozen cities nationwide have now codified the notion that the lives and humanity of Indigenous people should be recognized and celebrated, and that the tired, mythical depictions of Columbus as a heroic explorer should be put to rest.
Three years ago this week, the Supreme Court heard arguments in a case about the influence of wealthy donors in our elections. It wasn't the well-known (and much-criticized) Citizens United case, but the arguments in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission ultimately explain what's wrong with how we treat the influence of money in politics. Prior to McCutcheon v. FEC, no one contributor could give more than $125,000 in total campaign contributions to federal candidates. Very few Americans can even consider contributing more than $125,000 to politicians. Yet in 2013, Shaun McCutcheon, a coal industry CEO, challenged the law as violating his "freedom of speech."
People living near a contaminated government nuclear reactor complex in California were outraged to learn that the US Department of Energy (DOE) has secretly been funding a front group that is lobbying to see the agency abandon its cleanup agreement -- and that the DOE's request for secrecy may have been made to avoid attention from Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-California), who supports full cleanup.
As United States Energy Transfers Partners began building the Dakota Access Pipeline through territory sacred to the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, the tribe began an escalating campaign against the pipeline. By this summer nearly 200 tribes around the country had passed resolutions opposing the pipeline and many hundreds of their members joined nonviolent direct action to halt it. Amidst wide public sympathy for the Native American cause, environmental, climate protection, human rights, and many other groups joined the campaign. On September 9, the Obama administration intervened to temporarily halt the pipeline and open government-to-government consultations with the tribes.