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?
Richard Leiby published an article in 2002 on ‘Behind the News in Israel‘. It provides perspective from a dozen years ago.
Thanks for reading.