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.
Islam is again in the news. This time, the controversy has been spawned by debates over how we in the United States, particularly progressives, "talk about Islam." Bill Maher, Sam Harris and others have argued that we betray our Progressive principles when we fail to denounce anti-progressive beliefs or practices in the Muslim world. In fact, the glaring racism of Maher or Harris is more harmful to progressive views than anything that happens in Bangladesh. First, the views of Maher and others are genuinely racist and not merely impolite. Secondly, such views are not only inimical to progressive thought, but to the progressive agenda.
A progressive believes that socio-economic conditions precede cultural, political and even intellectual ones. Nothing is set in stone. Things change and, hopefully, for the better. We give things a chance to get better when all participate in the conversation to change laws for the better of society as a whole. When only a few people participate in this conversation, that inhibits the potential for things to get better, since experiences are limited and interests are powerful. In the tradition of Rousseau, everyone should participate, as the more experiences we accumulate and deliberate upon, the more robust our discussion and the greater our ability to build upon what we know, in other words progress.
On October 7, 2014, Kathy Kelly and Georgia Walker appeared before Judge Matt Whitworth in Jefferson City, MO, federal court on a charge of criminal trespass to a military facility. The charge was based on their participation, at Whiteman Air Force Base, in a June 1st 2014 rally protesting drone warfare. Kelly and Walker attempted to deliver a loaf of bread and a letter to the Base Commander, encouraging the commander to stop cooperating with any further usage of unmanned aerial vehicles, (drones) for surveillance and attacks.
The prosecutor, USAF Captain Daniel Saunders, said that if Kelly and Walker would plead guilty to the charge, he would seek a punishment of one month in prison and a $500 fine. Kelly and Walker told the prosecutor that they could accept a “no contest” plea but were not willing to plead guilty. The prosecutor then said he would recommend a three month prison sentence and a $500 fine. The judge refused to accept a “no contest” plea. Kelly and Walker then requested a trial which has been set for December 10, 2014.
I recall, with particular awkwardness, my first talk at a socialist student gathering at the University of Washington in Seattle nearly two decades ago. When I tried to offer an authentic view of the situation in Palestine from the viewpoint of a refugee, my hosts were hardly impressed.
However, the head of the student group knew how to move the crowd. He spoke of Palestinian and Israeli proletariat classes, which, according to him were ultimately fighting against the same enemy, the neoliberal capitalist elites shamelessly subduing the working classes in both Palestine and Israel. But what the audience loved the most was his sweeping statements about the working classes of Algeria, Congo and South America that were somehow all magically tied back to Palestine.
October 8, 2014 - At a City Council hearing about the treatment of adolescents in New York City jails, the New York Civil Liberties Union will today testify about ways to improve the brutal conditions suffered by minors incarcerated at Rikers Island, particularly those in solitary confinement, and the need for educational services critical for rehabilitation.
“Adolescents are growing and need support to become healthy adults and productive members of our community,” said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman. “Solitary confinement is the harshest punishment in this country apart from the death penalty, and vulnerable adolescents are especially likely to suffer lasting consequences. The young people at Rikers will one day be released back to our neighborhoods. For their good and for the city’s good, we must ensure that they get the tools they need for healthy growth, education and development.”
It is easy to forget that there are no maps of the world, only maps of worldviews. And even though blind materialism and economic utility seems to reign in many parts of the world, there still exist sacred geographies: places of perceptual beliefs and traditions that feature geopolitical realities which provide meaning. Turkey is no exception to this universal principle. A principle in which the seeker encounters historical identities, purposeful living, and a sense of belonging to a larger integrated community.
It was to be expected, then, when Turkish lawmakers voted to authorize military force against the Islamic State in Syria and Levant (ISIL). At issue was ISIL's fatal mistake of threatening to overrun and destroy the Tomb of Suleyman Shah, grandfather of Osman I who founded the Turkish-Ottoman Empire. As part of the 1921 Treaty of Ankara, which ended the Franco-Turkish War, Turkey kept Suleyman Shah's tomb, making it a Turkish enclave guarded by elite Turkish troops.
A major supplier to the NHS is at risk of becoming involved in American executions, after Alabama altered its lethal injection ‘cocktail’ to include a drug for which they are the only US supplier yet to put in place sufficient distribution controls.
Mylan pharmaceuticals, which describes itself as a “leading developer and supplier of generic medicines [to] wholesalers and throughout the National Health Service,” is a US Government-approved manufacturer of rocuronium bromide, a paralysing agent which Alabama now plans to use as the second part of a three-stage lethal injection process.
New York City, New York – Two citizen activists were arrested on Monday, October 6th at a Republican National Committee fundraiser in an act of civil disobedience protesting the undue influence of big money in American politics. Kai Newkirk and Curt Ries of 99Rise locked themselves to a banister in front of the Trump International Hotel and Tower where the $32,400-per-person reception and dinner was being hosted by New York City billionaires Woody and Suzanne Johnson, owners of the New York Jets and heirs to the Johnson & Johnson Co. The high-dollar fundraiser comes just weeks after Senate Republicans unanimously filibustered a proposed constitutional amendment that would have given Congress the ability to regulate campaign contributions and expenditures.
Let them come
There are great holes
In the heart of America
Maybe the children can fill them
Let them come
Their mothers and fathers and
Sisters and brothers
Maybe they can clear
Our ears with the music
Of their languages not yet dead
Part I - State Legitimacy and Human Rights
The traditional criterion for state legitimacy was very simple. If a state and its government could hold and govern territory, it was legitimate, at least in the eyes of other governments. The form of government and its behavior did not matter in this definition - Stalin’s USSR, Mussolini‘s Italy, Hitler’s Germany - these regimes held territory and ruled as surely as did the ones in Britain, France and the United States. And, in each other’s official eyes, one state was as legitimate as the other.
This outlook began to change in 1945. Just before and then during World War II, fascist behavior in general and Nazi behavior in particular was so shocking that many post-war governments became convinced that state legitimacy required well-defined codes of national behavior enshrined in international law.
The Possibility At Hand
Gar Alperovitz writes extensively about deep economic changes slowly taking place across the country, region by region. He is one of many doing this here and abroad. Such as: Massimo DeAngelis, deSousa, Ethan Miller, Ana Margarida Estevez, and scores of others. This shared vision of abundance and solidarity at the core of these emerging local and regional dynamics will probably take about a generation to root firmly, if it does. In three or four generations these changes could possibly become a substantial part of the political economics in the US. Possibly.
These thinkers and observers are not envisioning a significant increase in “jobs,” even good ones. Rather, they are envisioning a new kind of economics that fosters cooperation, abundance, and solidarity on a broad scale. That fosters a lot of caring rather than a lot of gouging or co-opting. That is grounded in ordinary people developing a rainforest of opportunity and relationship as a replacement to the scorched earth dynamics of neoliberalism.