Tag Archives: FBI

The Trial of Michael Brown

These are the facts:

Michael Brown is dead and Darren Wilson, the man who shot him, has been acquitted by a jury.

The public seems to have latched onto this, interpreting the court’s decision as being not only evident of Wilson’s “innocence” but Brown’s guilt.

But guilt over what?

The past days have seen a reversal of public opinion on Michael Brown, with many online posting gifs of the alleged petty theft he committed shortly before his death. Captions have included statements like “a reminder of who Michael Brown really was” and comments as to his size and stature.

Readers, am I the only one who doesn’t think Michael Brown should be tried over how tall he was? Continue reading

Why I’m Not Afraid Of Crime

In my attempt to err on the side of caution in regards to confidentiality, I rarely speak about my job, let alone write about it. Such is the nature of social work. Even so, the subject of today’s post has been preying on mind for a while now, and while I’m still going to not disclose the entirety of what I do, I am going to put it out there that I am (essentially) a vocational counselor for individuals who have criminal backgrounds. I just want to show that I do have some basic understand of some of the things I’ll be discussing, and I’m not speaking  simply out of speculation. So what are we talking about today? Crime, criminals, and why you shouldn’t be afraid of either.

Except the Corleones, who are the Lannisters, but without the inbreeding… Oh wait- wasn’t there something up with the cousins in the 3rd movie? I try to suppress it…

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The Very Real Threat of Islamophobia

Today, I’d like to do something I’ve been wanting to for a while. We’re going to go through a list of recent quotes on Arabs and Islam and replace them with the words “Jew,” “Jews,” and “Jewish.”

Most quickly springing to mind is the latest line of tripe from Anne Coulter. While you are (unfortunately) probably already familiar with some of Coulter’s statements (see: “It would be a much better country if women did not vote. That is simply a fact.” or “[Canada] better hope the United States doesn’t roll over one night and crush them. They are lucky we allow them to exist on the same continent.”), you may not have heard Coulter’s recent assertion that the wife of one of the Boston Bombers should ““Be jailed for wearing a hijab” (right after saying “I don’t care if she knew about this [bombing]”- just so you know it’s about religion, not justice).

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The Good, The Bad, and The Evil

In an early Shame Day post I called a particularly reprehensible political lobby “what cancer would look like if it were a social movement.” While I continue to stand by that statement (this group was pulling the exact same ploy against Muslims that Middle Ages Christians used against Jews), a commenter did assert that I had gone too far, stating “as wicked or wrong as you think these people are, they remain human beings.”

It’s got me back to thinking on a subject that’s long held my interest- namely the issue of evil. You’d think it’d be pretty straight forward- right is right and wrong is wrong- but let me get right into an example.

Was this guy evil?

No question. Hitler and his followers aren’t simply evil- they’re the go-to example of evil. They’re our baseline for evil. Everything vile and nefarious is measured against either Hitler or the Nazis.

So what about this guy?

Columbus’s long-list of achievements (discovering America not being one of them) read more or less as a chronicle of genocide, slavery, and theft. It’s well known, certainly at this point, that Columbus was a greedy, narcissistic, tyrannical, and corrupt man. Even with streets, cities, a holiday, and even an asteroid commemorating him, surely we can all agree that this guy was evil. Not on the level of Nazi Germany, but still indisputably evil.

But what about him?

Yep, that’s Thomas Jefferson. President.  Founding Father. Author of the Declaration of Independence.

Slave owner.

Not just a slave owner, but an abusive one- carrying on an affair with one of his slaves (that slave also being his wife’s half-sister), getting her pregnant multiple times, and then promptly allowing his own children to spend the rest of their lives as slaves.

Pretty depraved, eh? If I did any one of these things, I’d be called out as a first-rate ******* (and rightly so). I’d be called evil, and that would be telling it like it is.

But let’s move on.

Is this guy evil?

That’s J. Edgar Hoover, founder of the FBI, which he oversaw with about the same leadership you’d expect from some Stone Age self-proclaimed god-king. Hoover was an egoistical, jealous, paranoid man who used the FBI to advance his own political agenda. In addition to all of this, Hoover was a rabid racist, and struggled long and hard against the Civil Rights movement, targeting MLK Jr. in particular, as well as spearheading a campaign to undermine the Black Power movement of the 1960s. Would you call this guy evil?

Ok, what about them?

Yes, the average American family (not pictured above), or heck, even just the average American? Our money goes to supporting companies that use sweatshop labor. Our money goes to supporting companies that recklessly destroy the environment. Our money goes to supporting corporations that push objectifying ads (especially, but not exclusively, in regards to women).

Our taxes go to supporting dictatorial regimes (such as former Egyptian president Mubarak), racist and apartheid states (such as Israel), and even states that utilize child soldiers.

Where does that put us?

Now all of that is simply to illustrate the apparent complexity of the issue. Evil is evil, yes, but pinning down exactly who is and isn’t evil becomes a little more complex once we look at someone other than the Nazis. Jefferson was instrumental not only to the founding of this nation, but to the establishment and perpetuation of the core concepts of democracy and human rights- even to the point where Martin Luther King Jr., a man whose ancestors Jefferson owned– wound up quoting him in his iconic I Have a Dream speech.

Likewise, there’s the issue with the average American. Almost none of us would actually be able to manage a sweatshop, or put an assault rifle in a twelve-year old’s hands, at least, not in person. Despite this, our economy is built on the backs of Bangladeshi kids working for twenty-five cents an our. Our security (we are told) is predicated on us coordinated with nations whose human rights records are drenched in blood (*Cough*China*Cough*Saudi Arabia*Cough*Columbia*Cough*). The vast majority of us either don’t know or don’t care; not enough to raise a voice in protest, anyhow. Again, what does that make us? We might not be ourselves actively implementing imperialism and violence and despotism, but we still do rake in the rewards and howl for more.

We could try arguing innocence by virtue of not being the ones pulling the trigger on any of this, but the truth that history has taught us over and over is that simple knowledge of an injustice creates moral culpability. To ignore injustice equates with committing injustice. We simply can’t escape it.

Not without risk of being hunted down by zealously religious Irishmen…

And maybe that’s the answer. Maybe we can’t be so picky about where we draw the line between right and wrong. Maybe the answer is sweeping judgment. That’s not meant to be some fire and brimstone-esque statement, that’s simply a fact of the matter. You’re not good and evil only when you embark on a mission of genocide- you’re a participant in a viciously evil system until such a time as you act otherwise. You’re part of the problem until you’re part of the solution.

That’s not to say that you have to be flawless. You’re not going to be able to do that (neither am I, for that matter)- in part because we’re human, and in part because the world we live in simply isn’t going to cooperate. But people, we can at least try. I don’t think making an effort to not totally **** up the planet and all that’s in it is really all that much to ask, do you?

October 15: What’s Not Being Talked About In The News

For the most part, I try to keep my politics toned down here at CWR, but every once in a while, something comes along that straddles the line between ideology and culture that’d be wrong not to talk about.

I’m guessing you may have heard of Malala Yousafazi.

Young Pakastani girl known for being a women’s education and peace activist, shot by a reported Taliban assassin just short of a week ago and just today being flown to England to continue her recovery.

You may have seen this picture of her:

But the picture you may not have seen is this one here:

That’s young Malala wearing a hijab, a head-covering worn by many Muslim women as part of their understanding of modesty. Yep, Malala’s a Muslim– but that’s something you’re not gonna hear on the news or read in your paper.If Islam is mentioned at all, chances are, it’s in reference to Malala’s would be assassin- not her (or her friends who were with her). Why is that? How come the same frenzied media attention that is devoted to listing off every attack or offense on the part of “Radical Islam” utterly fails to note the Islamic element when it’s related to something positive. I can understand- maybe even overlook- the fact that the news doesn’t offer any attention to the millions of Muslims (the ones I grew up with) who just go about their day without doing anything to anyone. But the moment  a Muslim man or woman stands up for what he or she believes, even going so far as be nearly murdered for those beliefs and actions, religion disappears from the picture.

And while we’re at it, there’s another thing that’s been bothering me.

You remember Pussy Riot? Feminist Punk Band who got into trouble for playing anti-Putin songs in a historic Russian cathedral?

Why is it that when they got convicted of “hooliganism” and were sentenced to two years in prison (a term waaay disproportionate to the crime) the world united in outrage, and when Leah-Lynne Plante was arrested-

Oh.

Who’s “Leah-Lynne Plante”?

She’s an activist up in Washington State whose apartment was raided by FBI and SWAT Teams. See, back on May 1st, there was some vandalism that occurred in Seattle and Leah-Lynne was a suspect.

How many people who have vandalized walls or billboards actually have the police investigate them, let alone the FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Force? Of those people, how many have black clothes and books confiscated as “evidence”?

Obviously this has about as much to do with vandalism as Pussy Riot’s sentencing had to do with disturbing the peace. See, Leah-Lynne Plante is a self-proclaimed anarchist, and after refusing for a third time to answer questions before a grand jury. Considering the Grand Jury that’s investigating these and other alleged anarchist criminals was first created in March (two months prior to when she allegedly committed these crimes) doesn’t exactly reflect well on the whole “liberty and justice for all” element of the legal system.

But that’s all beside the point.

The point is, you probably don’t know about it. Your news has almost certainly never reported it, and considering the similarities between the two cases, doesn’t Leah-Lynne Plante’s case deserve your attention just as much as anti-government rockers off in Moscow?

Your media doesn’t think so.

And I think we’re being asked too much. I think we’ve had enough.

See, you can’t pick and choose- if the media want to take the violent or oppressive actions of Muslims as being representative of their faith, they have to apply the same logic to Muslim heroism as well. The same goes for equal air-time. The news can’t report on a bunch of women in brightly colored balaclavas for being broadsided by the state and then whistle Dixie while one in a black shirt has her home raided by men in kevlar.

Consistency- I’m not expecting that the news be factual (and considering it’s the news, that’s a pretty big thing to let slide) but they have got to be fair
or stop calling themselves reporters. If they wanted to pick and choose their battles, they should’ve become bloggers instead.