What was done to Jim Foley hit me deeply and personally. I can’t be sure whether the viewpoint I am presenting here comes too profoundly out of the video. I would appreciate comments.
The jury is out on the trial of Chad Littlefield who killed sniper hero Chris Kyle.
The verdict of insanity rests on whether Chad knew right from wrong when he pulled the trigger. Do we question the sanity of decorated sniper Chris Kyle who is credited with personally killing 160 people he didn’t know, in a country half way around the world?
Please see this nine minute film. I hope it makes you think about media deception and how there is absence of accountability for criminal acts by those in power.
Is it true that there are good tortures and bad tortures? Is it dependent on who does the act and on what stated purpose? Is it true there are good people who commit terrorist acts against designated “bad” people?
One thing is crystal clear, we, the U.S. are the “good” guys. They, because of who they are, are “bad”. The despicable killing act of terrorism – whether it is a suicide bomber with primitive explosives on his back, or a drone military man sending sophisticated missiles on a family meeting in another country, in both cases the act is a crime that is perpetuating us into a never ending violence.
Here are the lines of Sean Penn, playing convicted murderer in Helen Pejean’s film “Dead Man Walking”. With some of his last words he addresses the parents of the victim:
“…l hope my death gives you some relief.
l just want to say…
…l think killing is wrong…
…no matter who does it.
Whether it’s me, or y’all, or your government.”
I’m thinking about pinning a medal on a soldier who killed “a bad guy” in the Middle-East. I’m thinking of Ferguson and what distinguishes good killing from bad killing. It seems the way the system works that depends on who is doing the killing and who is “deserving to die.”
The way authority has dealt with racism is to consider the color of the skin as a signal that they are the “OTHER”. As such, they can be possible threats to the status quo. In fact the courts and law enforcement deal with it that way. This is equally true with the military, who by labeling the enemy Muslim or the “OTHER”, they automatically become a threat to the system.
Built into this perverse psychology is the idea of pre-emption, if they’re bad why wait until they do something bad to you? In Ferguson, the violence, as seen in the burning of some buildings is good for television and bad for a legitimate objection to a system that is not working for many, many people. Much of this violence can only be maintained by a government which keeps you in fear:
Muslims in the Middle-East threaten our security. So for a good cause we war on them. If boots on the ground is unpopular, we do have drones and trained and armed mercenaries.
Designated ‘bad guys’ say how they want to do bad things to us, so why wait?
The big story at Ferguson is that protesters are violent and will, if not controlled by militarized police, threaten the state. There is no question that this is a relationship of forces when you see National Guard, when you see police outfitted with full military gear. When Homeland Security is involved. The system now is over sensitive.
We better start dealing with some of the basic problems of our society. As for the voice of the people, it has to be expressed non-violently.
Killing is bad. Whether I do it, or you do it, or the government does it.
The parents of Peter Kassig, the latest American killed said; “James Foley, Steven Sotloff, David Haines, Alan Renning, remain in our daily thoughts and prayers and we pray for the safe return of all remaining captives held by all sides of the Syrian Civil War.” “All of them wanted, in some personal way to support a country where more than 9 million civilians have been forced out of their homes by a savage civil war.”
Our official U.S. answer is to escalate the killing, when it’s clear that more war only aggravates a genocidal condition devastating hundreds of thousands of men, women and children.
Read the Daily Telegraph article:
Read Harry Belafonte’s speech to the Academy on receiving an Academy Humanitarian Award. Harry said how films were “early stimulus of my rebellion against human distortion and hate.”
Harry reminds us; “Artists are the gate-keepers of truth. They are civilization’s radical voice.”
We aspire to be artists.
“America has come a long way since Hollywood in 1915 gave the world the film Birth of a Nation. By all measure, this cinematic work was considered the greatest film ever made. The power of moving pictures to impact on human behavior was never more powerfully evidenced than when, after the release of this film, American citizens went on a murderous rampage. Races were set one against the other. Fire and violence erupted. Baseball bats and billy clubs bashed heads. Blood flowed in [the] streets of our cities, and lives were lost.The film also gained the distinction to be the first film ever screened at the White House. The then-presiding President Woodrow Wilson openly praised the film, and the power of this presidential anointing validated the film’s brutality and its grossly distorted view of history. This, too, further inflamed the nation’s racial divide.1935, at the age of 8, sitting in a Harlem theater, I watched in awe and wonder the incredible feats of the white superhero: Tarzan of the Apes. Tarzan was a sight to see. This porcelain Adonis, this white liberator, who could speak no language, swinging from tree to tree, saving Africa from the tragedy of destruction by a black indigenous population of inept, ignorant, void-of-any-skills population governed by ancient superstitions, with no heart for Christian charity.Through this film, the virus of racial inferiority, of never wanting to be identified with anything African, swept into the psyche of its youthful observers. And for the years that followed, Hollywood brought abundant opportunity for black children in their Harlem theaters to cheer Tarzan and boo Africans.Native Americans, our Indian brothers and sisters, fared no better. And at the moment, Arabs ain’t lookin’ so good.
But these encounters set other things in motion. It was an early stimulus to the beginning of my rebellion, a rebellion against injustice and human distortion and hate. How fortunate for me that the performing arts became the catalyst that fueled my desire for social change. In its pursuit, I came upon fellow artists, like the great actor and my hero, singer-humanist Paul Robeson, painter Charles White, dancer Katherine Dunham, [the] historian’s superior academic mind Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois, social strategist and educator Eleanor Roosevelt, writers Langston Hughes and Maya Angelou and James Baldwin. They all inspired me. They excited me. Deeply influenced me. And they were also my moral compass.
It was Robeson who said, as you heard in the film earlier, ‘Artists are the gatekeepers of truth. They are civilization’s radical voice.’ This Robeson environment sounded like a desired place to be. And given the opportunity to dwell there has never disappointed me.For my like of activism and commitment to social change, the opposition has been fiercely punitive. Some who’ve controlled institutions of culture and commentary have at times used their power to not only distort truth, but to punish the truth-seekers. With interventions like McCarthyism and the blacklist, Hollywood, too, has sadly played its part in these tragic scenarios. And on occasion, I have been one of its targets.
However, from the cultural environment that gave us all this social drama and all those movies — Birth of a Nation, Tarzan of the Apes, Song of the South, to name but a few — today’s cultural harvest yields a sweeter fruit: Defiant Ones,Schindler’s List, Brokeback Mountain, 12 Years a Slave, and many more. And all of this happening at the dawning of technological creations that would give artists boundless regions of possibilities to give us deeper insights into human existence.How fortunate for me that I have lived long enough for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to have chosen to bestow this honor upon me. Tonight is no casual encounter for me. Along with the trophy of honor, there is another layer that gives this journey this kind of wonderful Hollywood ending. To be rewarded by my peers for my work for human rights and civil rights and for peace — well, let me put this way: It powerfully mutes the enemy’s thunder.Approaching 88 years of age, how truly poetic that as I joyfully glow with my fellow honorees, we should have in our midst as one of our celebrators a man who did so much in his own life to redirect the ship of racial hatred and American culture. His efforts made the journey a bit easier. Ladies and gentlemen, I refer to my friend — my elderly friend — Sidney Poitier.
I thank the Academy and its Board of Governors for this honor, for this recognition. I really wish I could be around for the rest of this century to see what Hollywood does with the rest of the century. Maybe, just maybe, it could be civilization’s game changer. After all, Paul Robeson said, ‘Artists are the radical voice of civilization.’ Each and every one of you in this room, with your gifts and your power and your skills, could perhaps change the way in which our global humanity mistrusts itself. Perhaps we as artists and as visionaries, for what’s better in the human heart and the human soul, could influence citizens everywhere in the world to see the better side of who and what we are as a species.I thank each and every one of you for this honor, and to my fellow honorees, I could have had no better company than to have shared this evening with each of you. Thank you very much.
What’s the Alternative Beyond Mid-Election Babble? We all know:
“…the financial state promotes a form of ideological terrorism and the key issue is how to expose it, and dismantle its cultural apparatuses of communication, new political formations, and ongoing collective educational and political struggles.”
“The established press is playing up Obama’s claim that he is willing to cooperate with the Republican Party as if this represents a new stage of partisanship among both parties. What is missed in this rush to judgment is that these parties have been cooperating for years on maintaining the privileges of the ultra-rich, corporations and bankers, while at the same time punishing the poor, unions, the working class, immigrants and poor minorities of color. The only major difference between these parties is that the Republicans wage naked class warfare without any apologies or political concessions while the Democrats offer a few painkillers to soften the blow. In some cases, Democratic leaders such as Bill Clinton and Barack Obama outdid their Republican counterparts in consolidating class power, while imposing enormous hardships and misery on the poor and middle class.”
I think many people, not just liberal left know this to be the case. The tough thing is to convince American people that there are no other alternatives.
Writer Paul Buchheit, points out we seem to accept the market should govern all of social life, including politics itself and that the governments only role is to protect the interests of the super rich.
Today on CNN, they had an Oxfam report that indicated the system is failing the majority of people. I look for sources of encouragement that it can be turned around.
After delineating the extreme world-wide inequality in wealth, Oxfam proposes recommendations that at the coming World Economic Forum has the power to turn around the rapid increase in inequality.
Listen to my friend Ricky Maclin, U.E. Local 1110 Vice President, because I believe that millions around the world share his impatience for change.
Read the Oxfam Report here.
Think about President Kennedy’s words to American University, 1963… relevant today?
“I have chosen this time and this place to discuss a topic on which ignorance too often abounds and the truth is too rarely perceived-yet it is the most important topic on earth: world peace.
Let us examine our attitude toward peace itself. Too many of us think it is impossible. Too many think it unreal. But that is a dangerous, defeatist belief. It leads to the conclusion that war is inevitable, that mankind is doomed, that we are gripped by forces we cannot control.
What kind of peace do I mean? What kind of peace do we seek? Not a Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war. Not the peace of the grave or the security of the slave.
I am talking about genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living, the kind that enables men and nations to grow and to hope and to build a better life for their children-not merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women, not merely peace in our time but peace for all time.”
Comments are very appreciated.
This picture above is a still from my 1968 film “Medium Cool” it heads this article titled: “‘Medium Cool’ is Still the Most One-Of-A-Kind Movie Ever Made.”
In this clip from “Four Days in Chicago”, 2012, citizens were demonstrating, in protest against the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and their war making policy.
In ’68 and now, when our war making policy seems threatened, the full force of militarized police and Homeland Security makes themselves visible under the guise of protecting our security.