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 people fighting back in Ferguson are heroes, who deserve our respect, gratitude, prayers, and acts of solidarity. The people of Ferguson who are fighting back, in many different ways, have forced the country to look into the face of the enduring reality of the Black holocaust that began with the first Africans kidnapped and sold into the slave system. 

The choice everyone must make is whether or not we will be Hitler's "Good Germans" who tacitly gave their support to the Nazis and decried the animalistic Jews who fought back in Warsaw? Will we be the Slave Society's "Good Americans" who may have quietly and privately thought slavery was immoral but spit venom decrying the "irrational" and "counter-productive actions" of Nat Turner and slave uprisings from the 1600s-1800s? Will we be the well-intentioned, and often unintentional, defenders of violence who decry those who fight back when they are being assaulted? 

The nine-year-old CAFTA trade deal caused thousands of desperate children to flock to the US border seeking safety, Teamsters legislative representative Mike Dolan explained recently on the Thom Hartmann Show.

He calls them the 'CAFTA Kids.'

We have cultural narratives for the major moments in our lives: the first day of school, graduation, marriage, even pregnancy. These are the shared pictures of how things are supposed to be. More often than not these stories are based not only on huge assumptions about race, class and ability, but they are also out of touch with the messy reality of our everyday lives. That is incredibly true when it comes to the assumptions people make about pregnancy.

There she stands, a straight woman in a bathroom looking at the positive sign on the pregnancy test. She is smiling because she wanted to be pregnant and it happened right away. She debates whether to post it on Facebook. Her pregnancy rolls along and we see her in the doctor's office getting a sonogram. Everything looks great and her man holds her hand as they picture their future as parents. She is glowing in her hip maternity clothes, and aside from a little nausea and those darn cravings for pickles and ice cream, all goes well. Labor is a sweaty endeavor with a lot of screaming, but she has an uncomplicated birth and everything goes according to her birth plan. She heads home with her husband. She loses the baby weight in weeks. She may stay home, or maybe she is another plucky career lady balancing work and family. Of course, it goes without saying that she planned the pregnancy, has the support she needs, and is ready to be a parent. She has the prenatal and maternity care to manage her health and the means to take care of a child. They all live happily ever after.

Aug 14

Sixty-Seven Years of Pakistan

By Zulfiqar Shah, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

Pakistan is now sixty-seven. Its history until now has been a history of the state versus its citizenry, particularly citizenry of non-Punjabi and non-Urdu origin. If a people's history of Pakistan is documented, it would become the voluminous account on the state crimes.

Pakistan was carved out of undivided India against the will of the Sindhi, Baloch, Pashtun, Sikh and Punjabi Hindu majorities of their motherlands. The elections of 1946 were a kind of virtual referendum on the partition, in which the anti-partition Unionist Party won in Punjab; Congress won in NWFP (now Khyber Pakhtunkhuwa); the All India Muslim League (AIML) lost in Sindh, giving lead to Indian National Congress (INC) and Sindhi nationalist forces. Balochistan was autonomous with a bicameral parliament. Balochistan was occupied by Pakistani forces in 1948 as it was not part of Pakistan according to the British partition plan. East Bengal was the only state of India where AIML won; however they bid farewell to Pakistan amid heinous state crimes against humanity there in 1971. It is, thus, an untold truth that the idea of Pakistan was rejected by theSindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhawa provinces. Balochistan was not part of Pakistan in 1947 and Sindh rejected AIML in the 1946 elections, i.e. both aspired to reclaim the status of sovereign countries, which they lost after Britain's 1843 invasion. Sindh and Balochistan historically have remained sisterly sovereign countries. Together, they were a kingdom for centuries also. Sindhi, historically, form a significant population of Balochistan and claim Baloch identity. Simultaneously, Baloch are a significant population of Sindh and claim Sindhi identity.

During the Vietnam War, my mother, an otherwise sweet and compassionate person, said “they” (Vietnamese) don’t value human life like we do, suggesting that I be more comfortable killing them.  I never was comfortable with the idea of killing them, and so I didn’t. 

However, I still hear some people say that an “enemy” doesn’t value human life like we do.  Over the years, the enemy changes, but the refrain is the same: some people on "our" side believe that enemies think life is cheap and therefore expendable, to be easily sacrificed.  These same people in our society believe that we, and probably our allies, think life is sacred, and only sacrificed in freely chosen heroic acts. 

A US District Court judge today ordered that independent doctors be allowed into Guantanamo Bay to evaluate a long-time hunger striker whose health has deteriorated so much that there are now concerns for his life.

In today’s hearing for Syrian Abu Wa'el Dhiab - cleared for release from the prison since 2009 and on continued hunger strike over his ongoing detention without charge or trial - Judge Gladys Kessler ordered that two independent doctors be allowed into the prison to evaluate him. Those doctors will also testify, along with a force-feeding expert, at a hearing scheduled for October 6, about the medical effects of the force-feedings on Mr. Dhiab.

​Responding to the Israeli Aggression and the Complicity of World Governments
The Freedom Flotilla Coalition (FFC) met in Istanbul in the shadow of the latest Israeli aggression on Gaza. We have watched atrocities being committed against an already besieged population. In the two day meeting (August 10th and 11th), the FFC concluded that it is the responsibility of civil society worldwide to sail to Gaza and challenge the Israeli blockade, the source of most problems facing the Palestinian population of Gaza.

We plan to sail to Gaza during 2014, the UN International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

The gender stall is dead. Last week a Council on Contemporary Families online symposium provided new data suggesting that the stall in progress on gender egalitarian attitudes and behaviors has ended. Evidence has accumulated, and a stall in attitudes that started around 1994 may have turned around after 2004.

“Her father was killed in Helmand amidst fighting between the Taliban and the Afghan/U.S.-NATO forces,” said a relative about Gul Jumma, who looked down, shy and full of angst, sensing a future that’s not promising.

Gul Jumma, together with the Afghan Peace Volunteers, expressed their opposition to wars in this video. Gul Jumma holds up the sign for ‘Ukraine’, indicating ‘No to wars in Ukraine’. She understands what it is like to be caught in the crossfire, as happened to her father when he was killed in battle.

Aug 13

Hashtag Genocide: Why Gaza Fought Back

By Ramzy Baroud, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

My old family house in the Nuseirat refugee camp in Gaza was recently rebuilt by its new owner, into a beautiful three-story building with large windows adorned by red frames. In Israel’s most recent and deadliest war on Gaza, the house sustained significant damage. A large hole caused by Israeli missiles can be seen from afar, in a part of the house where our kitchen once stood.

It seems that the original target was not my house, however, but that of our kindly neighbor, who had spent his entire working-life toiling between manual jobs in Israel, and later in life as a janitor for UN-operated schools in Gaza. The man’s whole lifesavings were invested in his house where several families lived. After “warning” rockets blew up part of his house, several missiles pulverized the rest.