Hold It All

Philosophy/Poetics/Politics

Category: People Power

The Good News of MLK, 4.4.2017

Fifty years ago today at NYC’s Riverside Church, Martin Luther King delivered a powerful, prophetic indictment of U.S. war-making in Vietnam: “They ask if our own nation wasn’t using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today — my own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of the hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent.”

 

Martin Luther King and Thich Nhat Hanh

Advertisements

Share the Wealth with Tony Albrecht–Tentative Description of a Dinner Given to Promote the Impeachment of President Trump

During this time when Trump is on the tip of so many American tongues, I’m preparing for an unusually political Share the Wealth. Our conversation this Sunday will not, however, traverse the usual spectrum between liberal and conservative. No talk of Hillary’s emails. No talk about Mr. Trump’s…take your pick.

We will instead dive right into the deep end of the political pool and discuss why the Trump administration could pose an existential threat to our Republic based on their utter disregard for American values that transcend partisan politics, things like the freedom of the press and the separation of powers.

We will discuss what President Trump (and his administration) have done to compel citizens to protest in unprecedented ways. We will talk about how President Trump could realistically be removed from office well before the 2020 election, as impeachment is a topic I’ve become very interested in recently. And most importantly, I’ll share ideas for how you could help make impeachment happen AND engage in a little bit of activism (through writing) with the potential to have a big impact.

Join us for a delicious potluck supper followed by a robust discussion. Perspectives from across the political spectrum are most welcome.

Tony Albrecht is a lawyer and social entrepreneur who recently started Get Out of Our House, a campaign setting out to rally citizens around the single demand that President Trump and his administration be removed from office during 2017. He currently resides in Toronto with his wife Sawil but has returned to St. Louis to engage in the Resistance.

Join us
Sunday 5 March
Potluck dinner begins at 6:00 pm
Tony begins sharing at 6:45
At the home of Jessie and Savannah
714 Limit Avenue
Apartment #1N
Saint Louis, M0 63130

get-out-of-house

Up All Night, November 12, 2007 (Henry Nagler’s Journal)

Who is going to say the unsayable?
Who is going to press for the prosecution of George W. Bush and Company for murder?
Who is going to stand for law and order?
Who is going to dignify the truth by acting on it?
Who is going to pay practical tribute to Lady Justice?
Who is going to remember what we’ve done in Iraq?
Who is going to patiently recite the facts?
Who is going to tell the tales from the Iraq inferno?
Who is going to repeat these tales to their children?
Who is going to meditate on the photographs?
Who is going to keep alive the shame?
Who is going to bring up issues from Morality 101? Legality 101?
Who is going to count the tears?
Who is going to groan lamentations in the streets?
Who is going to hurl imprecations up at the stately buildings?
Who is going to imagine for even 30 seconds a day George Bush eating chow in a maximum security prison?
Who is going to resist the temptation of silence?
Who is going to risk a little derision, a few guffaws, some insults?
Who is going to haunt the criminals?
Who is going to monitor their comings and goings?
Who is going to envision a ten-year strategy?
Who is going to develop the contingency plans?
Who is going to remove one brick amid the billions of bricks that keep the system together?
Who is going to train citizens in going out of their way to make trouble?
Who is going to insist on follow-up?
Who is going to spend even one minute a day imagining one simple step to take?
Who is going to cultivate optimism of the will?
Who is going to be the courage they wish to see in the world?
Who is going to abandon the sidelines?
Who is going to disturb the cozy peace?
Who is going to stop waiting for someone else to say something first?
Who is going to do something inconsequential about it today and then tomorrow?
Who is going to talk to the guys at the firehouse?
Who is going to bring it up at the neighborhood bar?
Who is going to query the hair stylist?
Who is going to take inspiration from the little mosquito?
Who is going to dare make a scene, raise a ruckus?
Who is going to perform an act greater than Camilo Mejía?
Who is going to remove every single thread from the Emperor’s trembling limbs?

Trump Trumpets His Real Plans by Ralph Nader

I receive regular emails from Ralph Nader, and want to share today’s correspondence.   He’s been fighting injustice and serving as a consumer advocate in this country for over fifty years.

 

Even for a failed gambling czar, Donald Trump has been surprisingly quick to show his hand as he sets the course of his forthcoming presidency. With a reactionary fervor, he is bursting backwards into the future. He has accomplished this feat through the first wave of nominations to his Cabinet and White House staff.

Only if there is a superlative to the word “nightmare” can the dictionary provide a description of his bizarre selection of men and women marinated either in corporatism or militarism, with strains of racism, class cruelty and ideological rigidity. Many of Mr. Trump’s nominees lack an appreciation of the awesome responsibilities of public office.

Let’s run through Trump’s “picks”:

First there are the selections that will make it easier to co-opt the Republicans in Congress. He has appointed Elaine Chao, the wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, for Secretary of Transportation. Ms. Chao does not like regulation of big business, such as those for auto, aviation, railroad and pipeline safety. Next is Congressman Tom Price (R-GA) to lead the Department of Health and Human Services. Price wants to dump Obamacare, turn over control of Medicaid to the states – including Governors who dislike Medicaid – and even privatize (eg. corporatize) Medicare itself into the hands of the business sector already defrauding just that program by about $60 billion a year.

Read the rest of this entry »

Leah and Wangari

In this morning’s class, we read the passages below from Wangari Maathai’s memoir, Unbowed. Leah then spoke about her country of Kenya and answered our many questions. She told us that when she was a girl, she planted a tree and so was part of Wangari’s Green Belt Movement. Wangari inspired her then, and Leah inspired us today.

Before the Europeans arrived, the peoples of Kenya did not look at trees and see timber, or at elephants and see commercial ivory stock, or at cheetahs and see beautiful skins for sale. But when Kenya was colonized and we encountered Europeans, with their knowledge, technology, understanding, religion, and culture—all of it new—we converted our values into a cash economy like theirs. Everything was now perceived as having monetary value. As we were to learn, if you can sell it, you can forget about protecting it. Using this analysis, we integrated the question of culture into our seminars and eventually wondered whether culture was the missing link in Africa’s development.

When I left the United States, I was taking back to Kenya five and a half years of higher education, as well as a belief that I should work hard, help the poor, and watch out for the weak and vulnerable. I knew that I wanted to teach in a university and share what I had learned about biology. I wanted to see my family and to start a family of my own.

It is fair to say that America transformed me: It made me into the person I am today. It taught me not to waste any opportunity and to do what can be done—and that there is a lot to do. The spirit of freedom and possibility that America nurtured in me made me want to foster the same in Kenya, and it was in this spirit that I returned home.

After the women had planted seedlings on their own farms, I suggested that they go to surrounding areas and convince others to plant trees. This was a breakthrough, because it was now communities empowering one another for their own needs and benefit. In this way, step by step, the process replicated itself several thousand times. As women and communities increased their efforts, we encouraged them to plant seedlings in rows of at least a thousand trees to form green “belts” that would restore to the earth its cloth of green. This is how the name Green Belt Movement began to be used. Not only did the “belts” hold the soil in place and provide shade and windbreaks but they also re-created habitat and enhanced the beauty of the landscape.

By now, nearly two thousand women’s groups were managing nurseries and planting and tending trees and more than a thousand green belts were being run by schools and students. Together, we had planted several million trees. Eventually, the Green Belt Movement would help establish more than six thousand nurseries, managed by six hundred community-based networks; involve several hundred thousand women, and many men, in its activities; and, by the early years of the twenty-first century, have planted more than thirty million trees in Kenya alone.Those of us who witness the degraded state of the environment and the suffering that comes with it cannot afford to be complacent. We continue to be restless. If we really carry the burden, we are driven to action. We cannot tire or give up. We owe it to the present and future generations of all species to rise up and walk!

Wangari-Maathai-Unbowed-cover-photo-3

Appeal for Gaza

Norman Finkelstein has been calling on people to make a donation to al-Awda Hospital in Gaza in the hopes of raising $100,000. Please consider making a donation of $10 if you can.

One of the people involved in this project, Sana, wrote the following: “I would like to thank all of you for your contributions. When we began this fundraiser, naturally our ultimate goal was to raise $100,000 for Al Awda Hospital in Gaza, which is in dire need of medical supplies and equipment. At the same time, our effort aims to shed light on the ongoing siege on the people of Gaza. This was not meant as an act of charity. Instead we decided to raise the money using a crowdfunding model, such that people from all over the world can participate in the collective solidarity effort with Palestine, its people and its cause.”

Thanks for considering this.

 

Finkelstein’s Pessimism and Optimism

Philosopher Paul Ricoeur identified Marx, Freud, and Nietzsche as three masters of suspicion in the modern West.  Over the last three decades, Norman Finkelstein has shown himself to be a contemporary  maven of suspicion when it comes to  such matters as the Holocaust Industry,  Middle East scholarship applauded by the mainstream, and Israel’s policies that torment the Palestinian people.  His most recent book, Method and Madness:  The Hidden Story of Israel’s Assault’s on Gaza, continues in this vein, by critiquing Operations Cast Lead (2008-2009), Pillar of Defense (2012), and Protective Edge (2014).  In addition to his rebuking of the official story, Finkelstein offers a political vision that calls for resistance in practical, not merely discursive, terms.

Seeing the title, I immediately think of Polonius’s observation of Hamlet: “Though this be madness, yet there is method in ’t.”  After the 2008-2009 Israeli Operation Cast Lead in  Gaza, Finkelstein referred to Israel as lunatic state.   Simply put, Israel’s devastating attacks on Gaza  were based on pretexts so as to achieve political goals.  For example, he notes, “If Israel had wanted to avert the Hamas rocket attacks, it would not have triggered them by breaking the June 2008 cease-fire with Hamas. Israel also could have opted for renewing—and then honoring—the cease-fire.”   Israel is evidently “mad” not to pursue such a rational course for de-escalating tensions. Read the rest of this entry »

An Option for “Unworthy Victims”

On Norman G. Finkelstein, The Rise and Fall of Palestine: A Personal Account of the Intifada Year
First published in the National Catholic Reporter, fall 1997

Some years back, the political critics Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman  coined the expression “worthy and unworthy victims” to refer to  the ways in which U.S. propaganda dictates differential and deferential treatment to victims.  “Worthy victims” are those  victimized by an official enemy of the U.S., and their plight  deserves heightened press coverage and our government’s aid, at least rhetorically.  “Unworthy victims” are those who suffer under U.S.-backed regimes, and so it is best not to call attention to their misery, especially given the usual provenance of their  financial and military backers.

Norman Finkelstein’s most recent book is a preferential option for the perennially unworthy victims, the Palestinians. Emerging out of four trips to Israel and Palestine from 1988 to 1993, the book is a moving eye-witness account  of Finkelstein’s growing friendships with Palestinians in the Christian town of Beit Sahour and in a refugee camp outside of Hebron. Herein, he records their dramatic  hopes and fears, from the beginning of the intifada to its terminus, with the onset of the so-called peace process, symbolized by the “famous handshake” between Yasir Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin.

Read the rest of this entry »

Living in Truth

“… every attempt to live within the truth, must necessarily  appear as a threat to the system and, thus, as something which is political par excellence. Any eventual political articulation of the movements that grow out of this ‘pre-political’ hinterland is secondary.  It develops and matures as a result of  a subsequent confrontation with the system, and not because it started off as a political programme, project or impulse.”

Vacalv Havel, The Power of the Powerless

Lexicon/21

Sumud, Arabic, noun, state of perseverance; samid (masculine form): the steadfast, the persevering, samdeh, feminine form; samidin, plural.

Sumud is watching your home turned into a prison. You, Samid, choose to stay in that prison because it is your home, and because you fear that if you leave, your jailer will not allow you to return. Living like this, you must constantly resist the twin temptations of either acquiescing on the jailer’s plan in numb despair, or becoming crazed by consuming hatred for your jailer and yourself, the prisoner. It is from this personal basis that sumud for us, in contrast with politicians outside, is developing from an all-encompassing form of life into a form of resistance that unites the Palestinians living under Israeli occupation….

But if I don’t flee, if I remain Samid, will they say of me tomorrow that I went like lamb to the slaughter?…

But if my sumud as a lawyer is to mean anything, I must at least be able to tell my people’s stories….

Between mute submission and blind hate—I choose the third way. I am Samid.

Raja Shehadeh, Palestinian lawyer