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.
If Martin Luther King's "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" were written in 2017, the missive might not have made it out of the jail and into history. Today, too many American prisons and jails saddle the people they lock up with senseless restrictions on their ability to speak, write, and receive information. Taken together, these constraints stifle free debate and exchange with people in prison at a crucial moment in history. We cannot have a serious conversation about criminal justice and mass incarceration if prisoners are shut out of public discussion.
In just over a week, we've experienced two shocking US military strikes and an alarming increase in tensions on the Korean Peninsula. Two days after major newspapers reported that a chemical attack had occurred in a village in Syria, killing and injuring many civilians, the US launched 59 cruise missiles at a Syrian airbase -- its first direct military attack against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. This despite the fact that there had been no investigation by any international agency that might confirm that a chemical weapons attack had occurred or who was responsible -- and in violation of international law.
Another political scandal, another forced resignation. It seems as though we have become immune to these all-too-common headlines. But there are certain scandals that must remain at the forefront of the public's mind and that should be translated into positive action. In this case, we have the former Governor of Alabama, Robert J. Bentley, who resigned on April 10 under the threat of impeachment for misusing state funds and resources to cover up an extramarital affair with a female staffer.
"No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury ... nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law..." "No person." Not citizen, person. Unlike our current administration, the Constitution did not seek to carve out liberty for only those it deemed deserved the benefits that the US had to offer -- or in other words, "good" immigrants.
On April 3, King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain ratified a constitutional amendment that will allow the trial of citizens in military court, according to Amnesty International. The Bahrain's Council of Representatives approved the amendment on February 21, 2017, before moving on to the upper house of parliament for final approval. The military court's area of control is used to cover offenses by security forces only. The law states that it deals with people charged with terrorism, but falls short of defining what constitutes as terrorism, opening up doors for massive arrests.
On April 5, I woke up to find out I was a meme gone viral. The hilarious meme by @ignant_ was in reference to the shameful ad that Pepsi produced -- and quickly took down -- depicting model Kendall Jenner diffusing tensions between protestors and cops by handing one officer a refreshing can of Pepsi. When the officer cracks open the can, the protestors are overjoyed and the officer gives an approving grin. Peace on earth prevails because of commercialism and sugar water.
As robots take over production, the relationship between the prosperity of businesses and job creation tends to become inversely proportional. It is the very creation of the free market economy, meaning rapid technological advancement, that will soon bring the theory of economic liberalism to its limits as it makes the conflicting interests between classes more apparent than ever and invalidates the argument that the prosperity of those who possess the means of production will inevitably increase social welfare.
How welcome she is here in her new country depends on who her parents are and the path she followed to get here. In one scenario, if she was "DACA-mented" (meaning she benefited from the "prosecutorial discretion to defer removal action against an individual for a certain period of time" made available through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program instituted under President Obama), she could be safe. That is, unless her status expired while she was saving for the $495 renewal fee. That happened to DREAMer Daniela Vargas, who was arrested and detained last month. She was recently released under an order of supervision.
The Trump administration has begun publishing its promised weekly "list" of crimes committed by immigrants. These weekly reports are attempts to fulfill the mission of a new agency within the Department of Homeland Security called VOICE -- Victims Of Immigration Crime Engagement. The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Declined Detainer Outcome Reports list counties that did not turn immigrants allegedly convicted or charged with crimes over to ICE for detention and removal. But analyses have shown they are cherry-picked; they over-represent sanctuary locales, Latin Americans and detainer denials for people actually convicted of crimes.
While fascism busts loose, naked on the national stage, each day brings a new frontier of depravity. Faced with this dangerous reality, the sheer scale of protest and resistance that is needed can seem bewildering and insurmountable. At the root of this broad new era of organizing, however, is the defense of basic democratic rights, including the most fundamental: freedom of thought. Thoughts and ideas are metaphysical, and policing those same is a metaphysical endeavor. However, the thought police are real, and their banal tools exist in real locations.