Tikkun Daily button

Archive for the ‘Politics & Society’ Category



I CAN’T BREATHE!

Dec9

by: William E. Douglas, Jr. on December 9th, 2014 | 1 Comment »

Kansas City Protest Rally Eric Garner

A protester holds up a sign at the Kansas City Protest Rally. Credit: William Douglas, Jr.

When I went to the protest rally in downtown Kansas City after Eric Garner was strangled to death in New York City on camera, the gathered crowd was still and silent, until suddenly the constriction I had felt watching the video of an innocent man being strangled by a system commissioned to protect and serve him roiled through my soul. I began to wail at the walls of the skyscrapers surrounding me, “I CAN’T BREATHE! I CAN’T BREATHE!” The crowd was at first stunned, and then electrified, all beginning to wail from their souls, “I CAN’T BREATHE!”

After returning home, I watched on television as people of all races had gathered in cities all across America, watching them howl, “I CAN’T BREATHE!”

I felt this was larger than that poor man, a father and grandfather, being suffocated by the institutions meant to protect and serve him. I felt this howling wail issuing across the country was an expression of something deeper we have felt, but remained unconscious of. We had felt the tight constraints of a mental and spiritual straight jacket we had all been wearing for a long time.

Read more...

Cultural Equivalence and Implicit Bias

Dec9

by: on December 9th, 2014 | No Comments »

The demonstrators who are stopping traffic, occupying public spaces, and marching through busy shopping streets want to disrupt business-as-usual in the hope of awakening conscience and action.The tags for every demonstration at Ferguson Response tell the story: #WeCantBreathe, #ThisStopsToday, #JusticeforEricGarner, #JusticeforMikeBrown.

Here in the San Francisco Bay Area – specifically in Berkeley and Oakland, two centers of activism – there have been incidents of vandalism, arrests, tear gas lobbed by police into crowds (and sometimes lobbed back). These loom very large in mainstream media coverage, of course: if it bleeds, it leads. They loom large in some people’s minds too. I’ve been hearing concern expressed that these demonstrations will discredit the movement for justice: if they turn violent, some have said, they lose moral force.

I want to parse that response because it reveals something about embedded cultural attitudes that are part of the problem. How do we become aware of and correct for racist frames that have shaped our perceptions and attitudes? Let me see if I can help to break it down.

Read more...

Ayotzinapa, Mexico’s Ferguson

Dec5

by: Alfredo Camacho on December 5th, 2014 | 1 Comment »

Ayotzinapa

Credit: South Kern Sol/ New America Media

Crossposted from New America Media

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — As thousands take to the streets in cities nationwide to express outrage over the police shooting of an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, another protest movement is sweeping through Mexican American and immigrant communities.

Both are aimed at what participants say is state-sanctioned violence against unarmed civilians.

Read more...

Obama Extends War in Afghanistan

Dec5

by: Kathy Kelly on December 5th, 2014 | 1 Comment »

President Obama Afghanistan

Credit: Creative Commons/The White House

News agencies reported in November that weeks ago President Obama signed an order, kept secret until now, to authorize continuation of the Afghan war for at least another year. The order authorizes U.S. airstrikes “to support Afghan military operations in the country” and U.S. ground troops to continue normal operations, which is to say, to “occasionally accompany Afghan troops” on operations against the Taliban.

The administration, in its leak to the New York Times, affirmed that there had been “heated debate” between Pentagon advisers and others in Obama’s cabinet chiefly concerned not to lose soldiers in combat. Oil strategy isn’t mentioned as having been debated and neither is further encirclement of China, but the most notable absence in the reporting was any mention of cabinet members’ concern for Afghan civilians affected by air strikes and ground troop operations, in a country already afflicted by nightmares of poverty and social breakdown.

Here are just three events, excerpted from an August 2014 Amnesty International report, which President Obama and his advisers should have considered (and allowed into a public debate) before once more expanding the U.S. combat role in Afghanistan:

Read more...

Not Again, on ‘A More Expansive Mission’ in Afghanistan!

Dec5

by: Dr. Hakim on December 5th, 2014 | No Comments »

Afghanistan War

Credit: Creative Commons/Wikipedia

President Obama has authorized “a more expansive mission for the military in Afghanistan in 2015 than originally planned.”

Imagine that, like the late U.S. war veteran Jacob George, you’re sent on this ‘more expansive mission’. Your military helicopter is landing on farmland amidst mud-house villages, like a futuristic war machine inserted into an agricultural community in the Middle Ages.

There are no women to be seen.

They are in their kitchens or rooms, pleading for you, as well as the Taliban, not to come.

“The things that I participated in over there surely brought the farmers terror when we landed in their fields, crashing their crop. I remember running off a helicopter and looking into a man’s eyes, and terror was what was looking back at me. It was as if a ‘devil’ had just stumbled into his life. Actually, most of us are poor farmers killing poor farmers while people in our nations starve,” George had shared.

Like most people, my Afghan and American friends also wish for the Afghan conflict to be resolved, but not in this way:

Not through a “more expansive mission” to kill.

Read more...

Who Are Progressive Muslims, and What do They Believe?

Dec5

by: Ro Waseem on December 5th, 2014 | 2 Comments »

After I published “15 Progressive Islamic Pages You Should Really Check Out” a couple of weeks ago, I came to observe that there is a somewhat skewed understanding of what “Progressive Islam” really is. People who had come across this particular flavor of Islam for the first time deemed it to be a movement to “Westernize” or “Modernize” Classical Islam, and that Classical Islam and Progressive Islam are completely at odds with each other. This hasty conclusion, if I may call it that, lead to some negative feedback – so I thought it pertinent to address this topic to break some stereotypes & generalizations.

Read more...

Sport as Socio-Political Institution

Dec4

by: on December 4th, 2014 | 1 Comment »

1968 Olympics Tommie Smith and John Carlos

Tommie Smith and John Carlos salute all the human rights workers and the victims of injustice.

I still clearly see in my mind’s eye the raised black-gloved fists of gold medalist Tommie Smith and bronze medalist John Carlos soaring into the air of history during the track and field medal ceremony at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. As the Star Spangled Banner blared throughout the stadium, Smith and Carlos stood to salute all the human rights workers and the victims of injustice in the United States and throughout the world.

They both ascended the winner’s platform shoeless wearing black socks to highlight black poverty. Representing black pride, Smith wore a black scarf around his neck, and Carlos unzipped the top of his tracksuit in solidarity with all working class blue collar workers in the United States. He wore a strand of beads, which he declared, “were for those individuals that were lynched, or killed and that no one said a prayer for, that were hung and tarred. It was for those thrown off the side of the boats in the middle passage.”

I watched the ceremonies from my university dormitory lounge with other residents, while tear tracks of pride streamed down my face, not merely because of my connections with Smith and Carlos as undergraduate students at the same institution, San José State University, but because they clearly demonstrated not only the political potential, but more importantly, the very political nature of sport to forever transform minds, hearts, and souls for the betterment of society.

Not everyone, though, even at my university, supported their actions, stating that the purpose of sport is for entertainment only, and not to advance a political policy or agenda. Avery Brundage, International Olympic Committee president, scolded the athletes and the U.S. Olympic Committee for bringing domestic politics into “the apolitical, international forum [of] the Olympic Games.” Soon following Smith and Carlos’ actions, the U.S. Olympic Committee suspended them from the team and barred them from the Olympic Village. My university, however, gave them a hero’s standing ovation when they returned to campus, and we honored the two athletes with a 22-foot high statue in 2005.

I suggest to those who assert the “apolitical” nature of sport to ask President Jimmy Carter why he chose to have the U.S. boycott the 1980 Moscow Summer Olympics following the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan. Ask the athletes and spectators at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia why they proudly waved rainbow flags and wore rainbow garments, held placards, and publicly embraced and kissed others of the same sex as Russian authorities passed legislation and cracked down on so-called “homosexual propaganda.”

Read more...

Engaging with Privilege: A Personal Journey

Dec4

by: on December 4th, 2014 | No Comments »

unfaircampaignLast week, when I sat down to write in response to the situation in Ferguson, I ended up writing much about my own journey of learning about how to engage the topic of race; I wrote more about that than directly about Ferguson. The difference between that first draft and the piece that finally got posted was dramatic. It was made up of feedback from Dave, my editor and supporter, that initially knocked me out completely in its depth and intensity. This was the point at which I turned to Uma and Ya-Ping for support, as well as my colleague and friend Roxy Manning. After about ten rounds of back and forth with some combination or another of all four of them, the piece that is now on the website came into final form.

As much as I like the result, I was left with all that was cut out of the original piece. Although I wholeheartedly agree about taking it out from that piece, I still want to share it. This is what this piece is. If nothing else, for anyone who is like me, I have always had the experience that understanding a process in addition to seeing the results deepens my understanding and increases the chances of integration and personal application. Also, because I want to spell out what I learned as part of my own continuing learning, and in the hopes of supporting others’ learning about the very complex questions involved in these topics. Lastly, because I want it known that this learning process is neither easy nor comfortable. The two days of feedback were, at times, excruciating and nonetheless I am in awe, I am grateful, and I found immense beauty and depth along the way.

Read more...

A Lament for Eric Garner

Dec4

by: Aryeh Cohen on December 4th, 2014 | 5 Comments »

Eric Garner Protest

Credit: Creative Commons/ Thomas Altfather Good

Eric Garner is the unarmed 43-year-old black man, who was killed by the NYPD in Staten Island in July. The whole incident was recorded. He was placed in a choke hold and can be heard saying 11 times: “I can’t breathe,” before he died. The officer who killed him was not indicted. The coroner had ruled it a murder.

Read more...

“Hands Up, Don’t Shoot!” and “I Can’t Breathe!”

Dec4

by: on December 4th, 2014 | 1 Comment »

Eric Garner

Credit: Creative Commons/ Gerard Flynn

A grand jury in St. Louis county Missouri, on November 24, 2014, failed to indict police officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of unarmed black man, Michael Brown, Jr. in Ferguson, Missouri on August 9, 2014.

Now a grand jury has decided not to indict Staten Island police officer, Daniel Pantaleo, in the July 17, 2014 chokehold death of Eric Garner, a black man who was selling loose cigarettes in violation of New York law.

After my initial outrage and disgust after hearing both these decisions, I am left with so many unanswered questions that I don’t know where to begin, but begin I will.

Read more...