America’s prison-industrial-complex becomes an ever larger sector of the global economy with every passing year: it’s not going to change until we own the ability to break the vicious cycle at its deepest roots. I’m a citizen of this tiny planet who still believes “Think Global, Act Local.” It’s more than a bumper sticker.
This is also a personal invitation to anyone finding themselves near the juncture of Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky June 25 between 3 and 6 o’clock.
Update: my reaction to the teach-in that I posted on FaceBook.
This teach-in was marvelously planned and conducted. The visual aids were convincing and well documented. My thanks go to everyone who made this possible. The room was filled and I look forward to the next one scheduled for next month in Price Hill. It’s important information for an informed citizenry. Grass-root movements like this one are crucial.
My written stuff is more coherent than my vocal attempts these days, so I’m including a link here to the articles I’ve written this past year on the subject of America’s prison-industrial-complex, how it relates to being a Mensch. Again, my thanks to all and each.
Jennifer Gonnerman is the journalist I credit with introducing me to a young man trapped as thoroughly as the protagonist Kafka introduced in his uncompleted novel Der Prozess (The Trial), a recognition of injustices that compel gentle souls to scream at the every day horror of the everyday.
One year ago billziegler1947 became a vehicle for transporting readers via metaphor: the ancient and modern Greek for “transport.”
The transport stops here, I turn the wheel over to Ms. Gonnerman:
Before Browder ever attempted to take his own life, he saw another inmate in the jail try to end his.
excerpt from her New Yorker article published at 10:45 this morning.
On June 6, 2015, Kalief Browder took his own life at his home, in the Bronx. He was twenty-two years old. He had been released from Rikers Island two years earlier, ending an ordeal that had begun on a spring night in 2010, when he had been arrested for robbery, at sixteen. He spent the next three years in jail trying to prove his innocence, and, for about two of those years, he was held in solitary confinement, where he attempted suicide several times. The charges against him were eventually dropped. I met him after his release and wrote a story about him in the fall of 2014.
Please remember Mr. Browder each Memorial Day, acknowledging the fallen and the falling: the failure of a society.
Hedy Epstein (née Wachenheimer) was born in the city of Freiburg in the year 1924, a nine-year old kid when Hitler took over. She was one of the fortunate few who left Germany for the United States in 1939 (Kindertransport).
Hedy reported on Israel’s behavior during the 1982 Lebanon War. That behavior brought familiar the memories of childhood in a Freiburg in the 1930’s.
Hedy ist eine Menschln presently living in St. Louis, Missouri. In 2014 she was arrested at a protest in a suburb of Ferguson on a charge of “Failure to Disperse,” a charge similar to “Failure to Communicate.” Both “failures” are euphemisms. A “communication failure” took the life of Mr. Michael Brown.
Fascism is never a good idea, but many fervently long for it every day.
Fascism is never subtle, it’s better at blurting and wallowing.
Fascism proclaims that ethnic cleanliness is next to godliness.
Fascism is proud and nasty, upfront and in your face foul.
Fascism believes that “the others” are impurities and impediments.
Fascism winks, nods and smiles at efficient and early dispatch of undesirables.
Be aware of how well Hedy Epstein is accepted in Israeli society. Beware.
“This diminutive 91-year-old icon of freedom and justice is loved and adored by everyone whose lives she has inspired or touched. As far as many Israelis are concerned, though, she can burn in hell. Some of them have actually said much, much worse about this frail, gentle, loving little Jewish lady who has put her life on the line continually for Palestine.”
Question the plea “We must return to our commonly shared Judeo-Christian values as established by our Christian founding fathers.” What about the other third of the triad of a monotheism rooted in the Levant?
Translations lie. Oft repeated lies lie big-time. Repeat a lie enough and it becomes the stuff of conventional wisdom. Watch out for the fallacy of affirming the consequent when presenting a logical argument.
Joseph Goebbels knew how to lie at world-class levels.
Ignore news cycles, soundbites, repeated headlines, rehashed dead horses.
Sounding out for solid solidarity in Cincinnati for Palestine. I have included a new category on billziegler1947: cincy4palestine. You can reference existing content on Palestinian independence and human rights by clicking it. CPSC recognizes the need to act locally as we join in solidarity with a purpose.
CPSC is obtaining visibility in greater Cincinnati and the greater world. It began last year with a teach in at the Cincinnati and Hamilton County Public Library, a second at the University of Cincinnati, a third at the Clifton Mosque, a fourth at Mt. Auburn Presbyterian Church and we are working on a fifth teach-in.
We are raising our visibility and are joining other like-minded souls in supporting BDS.
At the same time we have sponsored film screenings at several locations to shine truth on a deferred dream and a half century of occupation in Gaza and the West Bank, funded by the monetary and military power of the United States.
We believe that many small voices speaking truth will bring down the Apartheid Wall and end the occupation.
The Oslo Accords of 1993 are dead. 500,000 stakes were driven through its heart by a half-million settlers. These settlers, many of them truculent and militant, live in modern super gateway communities subsidized by the United States. It’s a divide and conquer strategy.
The United States government transfers $10,000,000 per day to Israel ($0 per day for Palestine) as well as the highest tech military support systems. These preserve a lucrative status quo for Israel and for those corporations making a killing from it.
Meanwhile Palestinians’ birthright is reported throughout US media as “stones, knives and poorly guided mortar fire.” Informed readers have to go offshore for the headlines that are ignored in our corporate or corporate-sponsored media.
The Apartheid Wall looms above a complex of modern fenced highways leading to each former Palestinian village and renamed in Hebrew from the original Arabic. Fences and security stations are everywhere. The reason: humiliation and eventual ethnic cleansing for a “greater” Israel.
Our fellow Americans and Earth citizens could benefit from historical perspective. The mantle of American Exceptionalism, a garb that resembles an emperor’s new clothes, becomes more transparent with each passing year.
Americans carry a lot of shame for things we’ve done to this planet that no other government in the world can match, such as the atomic bomb and agent orange (all of this inflicted on civilian populations, explaining it as “collateral damage”).
We have murdered peoples, starved them and spread deadly smallpox virus via “gift blankets”, a virus previously unknown in the Americas. These gift blankets exposed native populations to a disease that spread like wildfire. Did you learn this in history class?
From trains passing westward millions of bison were murdered. Stacked, the bison heads rested thousands high with a deliberate goal: starve the natives and their nations. Our collective memory ascribes the slaughter to sportsmen shooting from the comfort and safety of train cars. There is a little more to that story. Those “sportsmen” disembarked from the locomotives to murder as many bison as humanly possible and thereby remove the buffalo as sustenance to Native America. We learn soundbites. “The Indians used every single part of each buffalo.”
But connecting the dots leading to genocide is never taught. George Washington as a youth chopped down a cherry tree and owned up to it. Andrew Jackson is the president we have on the twenty-dollar bill. His nickname was “Stonewall.” We store soundbites in our memory and we pass them down to our grandchildren. No mail delivery on Presidents Day, banks close but schools are in session and there are sales at Target. Congress passed a law making Presidents Day a Monday holiday…
We murdered millions of First People to get what we wanted, promises broken as greed expanded.
We witness the same dynamic in the Israel/Palestine Conflict. The misinformed think in black and white terms: Philistina does not exist. I use the name Philistine because that is what they call themselves. Bill speaks to the distinction between Philistine and Palestine here.
It looks like a series of squiggly lines but evokes a familiar biblical tribe: the Philistines.
British and the United States bound by “a special relationship” snap the Israel into existence in 1948, a catastrophe for the people already living there. The world was still reeling over the disclosure of concentration camps built by a country with a genocidal dream: Third Reich Germany. We forced villagers living near the camps to march through and to bury the dead found in those camps. Israelis and Americans know little or less about the daily human rights abuses in Israel and the occupied territories. It doesn’t help that the New York Times is corporate and NPR is sponsored by corporations. An independent press is our lifeblood.
There is an American camp established to house “enemies of the state” without legal recourse, or representation: Guantanamo, an American naval base from the days when Cuba was ours to manipulate.
We invaded, without provocation, the independent country of Iraq in 2003. My husband and I participated in one of many rallies in the days preceding that war, also a catastrophe. We were already in Afghanistan under the guise of chasing the terrorist responsible for the horror of 9/11 in New York City. We lost 3000 that day: it was genuine horror. We responded by murdering innocent civilian “collaterals.” Those fighting back are fighting for their autonomy and the right to own their nation without the foreign interests who run their government. The British set borders in their Middle Eastern colonies to contain rival religious sects that could fight one another and leave the governance to the halls of empire. Divide and conquer.
So our uninitiated young people and our more simple and hardline conservatives, tricked and lied to with a propaganda team that manipulates a language of fear alloyed with ignorance, have been at this war for 16 years! In keeping with this embarrassing situation – we also are a, so far, sole superpower gone wild in Israel. We want to make up for what started as humiliation and provocation by the Third Reich and murder of millions of Jews in Europe.
And now the shoe is on the other foot. Out of a vindictiveness, and resources available to the Earth’s fourth largest military, centuries old olive groves are bulldozed to break the spirit and humanity of the Palestinian people. Using humiliation as a daily means of control, cornering them in the same kind of ghetto that the Jews endured in Poland. Install a man with the skills of Joseph Goebbels to orchestrate. Without a military and with weapons on a par with those of the former Ottoman Empire, they revolted using these meager “weapons” and couldn’t gain their freedom.
With fell precision, Israel used a false-flag campaign to tell all Arabs living in ancestral homes that an attack by other Arab nations was imminent and they would be better off leaving their homes until the danger was over. 1948: 700,000 Palestinians lived out a modern incarnation of the “Trail of Tears.” So, building upon a lie Israel moved in and took this land from people who were sharing THEIR land with the new state of Israel. In a word, the Palestinians (Philistines) had their land stolen, with catastrophic (Nakba) results. Israel has a 10 per cent population of Palestinians who did not leave in 1948. Their access to the polls limited similar to Jim Crow. On the very day of his reelection Netanyahu famously warned of those “swarming” voters. It’s as repulsive as our Jim Crow laws in the South. Peaceful demonstrations were the beginning in our nation – because the removal of legal slave ownership should have made black people safe and equal – but let’s not be foolish – it did no such thing until black people got sick and tired of it and revolted – and I would do the same.
The Black Panthers were born into a dream denied, to paraphrase Langston Hughes. They demanded equality and freedom, and were also murdered, but the message made it to the fore and legal recourse resulted in affirmative action and enforcement of the 14th Amendment. Now, we have nazi storm troopers of a police armed with military gifted them by the Defense Department who just shoot black people like they’re in target practice! I’m sickened and ashamed – and we are the nation supporting the same shameful behavior of the current governmental leaders in Israel.
I lean on God, knowing in my heart it is the Enemy we need to fight: the evil that flourishes on greed and hate.
The William Kunstler of our time, defender of the super-underdog, has been in prison since January 5, 2015. Human rights attorneys are a rare breed. Perhaps an endangered species.
Q.What do lawyers and sperm have in common? A: A one in a million shot at being human.
So Stanley Cohen is one in a million.
I follow Caged but Undaunted under the byline Marion Heads on WordPress. It maintains focus on the downtrodden, where the exploited live on the edge of existence. The views expressed on the blog are indeed undaunted, opinions often missing in what could be spirited spontaneous political discourse. What does a prison serve? What is the purpose of a jailer? To prevent escape. Pure and unexpurgated arguments should flow with freedom and abandon: you can tell when an author’s thoughts tether to a strict follow-the-line agenda or protocol.
There are three words most associated with Stanley Cohen: Up the Rebels. His editorial on Prison America is as forcefully expressed as it is true. It’s the pulse of the USA in 2015. The prison-industrial complex beats to its tune. Much there is to know but the last thing the planet needs.
George Orwell as a soldier in Burma knew he was a tool of empire. He knew the imperious every day spent there, but he lived to tell us what happens to the human soul when twisted and contorted. His short stories “A Hanging” and “To Shoot an Elephant” reflect endless empire, endless war. Orwell chose the title 1984 as the simple inversion of the year of publication: 1948. The empire was in the state of dissolution. At a time of personal privation following his British Empire years he informs his readers of being Down and Out in Paris and London. It is a memoir of the time he worked on the other side of an exclusive restaurant’s swinging doors. Orwell is synonymous with a vision of how the present may know a future.
Stanley Cohen is now in prison, his speech muted. Until January 5th his voice was available on Twitter. Hope we hear from him soon. Defending the disenfranchised is the bulwark of fair and decent society, though it’s safer to join with the tyranny of a majority. While writing this post coverage of the events in Paris encompass news media. And as a small but vocal voice I continue to write about daily life in Palestine and Israel, where such deaths administered by agents of civil authority are hourly occurrences. Were I to sport a keffiyeh in the local supermarket would I draw attention? Or to wear a Palestinian flag?
Then a memory from Ferguson, MO. In the likely event of a possible misreading, the Nixon referred to below is Governor Jay Nixon. My excerpt is from the August 24, 2014 issue of the online article in BeMagazine.org original article on Ferguson is in Mother Jones.
JEWISH VOICE FOR PEACE: ON MONDAY, HEDY EPSTEIN, A 90-YEAR-OLD HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR, WAS ARRESTED FOR “FAILURE TO DISPERSE” WHILE PROTESTING NIXON’S DECISION TO BRING THE MISSOURI NATIONAL GUARD TO FERGUSON. SHE’S A MEMBER OF JEWISH VOICE FOR PEACE, A NATIONAL GROUP THAT ADVOCATES FOR EQUALITY FOR PALESTINIANS AND ISRAELIS. “I AM DEEPLY, DEEPLY TROUBLED BY WHAT IS GOING ON IN FERGUSON,” EPSTEIN TOLD NEWSWEEK AFTER HER RELEASE. “IT’S A MATTER OF INJUSTICE, AND IT’S NOT ONLY IN FERGUSON…THE POWER STRUCTURE LOOKS AT ANYONE WHO’S DIFFERENT AS THE OTHER, AS LESS WORTHY, AND SO YOU TREAT THE OTHER AS SOMEONE WHO IS LESS HUMAN AND WHO NEEDS TO BE CONTROLLED AND WHO IS NOT TRUSTED.”