Posts Tagged ‘Emily Hauser’

syria refugee mapI am on record as often re-posting Emily Hauser’s columns from her excellent blog “In my head”.

She generally tackles issues of social justice, democracy, and the difference between right and wrong, and especially as regards Israel, from a Jewish perspective.

As, in Australia, we seem to be roiled up in an endless debate about immigration and what to do with the tens of thousands of refugees that we accommodate every year.

Tens of thousands sounds a lot, but it’s worth remembering that other countries, much poorer than ours, deal with millions of refugees.

And that these vast movements of people de-stabilise whole regions, and that none of us are immune from those impacts, especially the countries in the immediate proximity of conflict.

I warmly commend Emily’s comments to you. They bear deep consideration.

Syrian refugees – actually a lot more than two million.

Like the shirt? Buy the shirt. Change the world. http://www.cafepress.com/yolly.561612586

Like the shirt? Buy the shirt. Change the world. http://www.cafepress.com/yolly.561612586

And if you’re in Australia, you might like to purchase this t-shirt, to remind our new Dear Leader, Dear Reader, that we can afford to be a bit more generous with the world.

We can easily manage to up our refugee intake.

As one of the richest nations on the planet, we should.

Not to mention the fact that we are a nation of immigrants, and many of our finest Australians came here as refugees.

Not to mention that research shows that immigration is a net contributor to the Australian economy.

Immigration = economic growth. No, immigrants don’t “take” our jobs, fool. They make our jobs.

Buy the shirt, start the conversation with a friend.

 

Advertisements

I have long railed against the gun culture of the United States – or rather, the culture of casual violence that is made so much simpler to create because of the free availability of guns.

Hundreds of thousands of legal guns are stolen from homeowners every year, and filter into the illegal community. If the total number of guns in circulation in the USA is not reduced through effective controls, then the slaughter of innocents will continue unabated. This is the point the gun lobby fails to address: this is the cowardice of America’s politicians on all sides.

People say that, as an Australian, this is none of my business. But I have friends in Chicago. Good friends. And all over the USA. I dont want to hear of them randomly killed, and unless they lock themselves in their homes and bolt the doors and never go out, there is always a real chance they will be.

The dead kid, Damani Henard, often made the 15-minute bike ride to his friend’s home to play computer games, frequently sleeping over if it got too late. Relatives say the boy called his mother to assure her he arrived at his friend’s home safely and promised to see her back home.

Henard’s aunt told the paper the last words the boy said to his mother were “OK, I love you.”

This article is from one of the finest writer/bloggers I have come across, Emily Hauser. Read every word. Please.

Killed, halfway home.

Damani Henard - photo source* Damani Henard (image source: DNAinfo Chicago)

I live in a lovely, upper-middle-class suburb of Chicago known for its trees, its schools, and its diversity.

We’re also known for the safety of our streets, but we live at the edge of chaos, on the literal border of one of the city’s poorest, roughest neighborhoods. Literally: On one side of my town’s eastern border you’ll find our tiny little arugula enclave; on the other, abandoned buildings and schools with no libraries.

We are safe here, but occasionally the chaos leaks out and across the street.

Over the course of 15 years, I can think of five murders that took place within a few blocks of my home or my regular haunts, all of them Chicago’s violence spread west. These events don’t frighten me, because they don’t belong to me. Someone ran, someone followed. They’re not my story, however heartbreaking they may be.

But last night the chaos leaked out and took the life of a 14 year old boy.

Damani Henard’s family had moved from that rougher, tougher neighborhood to my town, so that he could go to high school here. He had ridden his bike into the city to visit friends and was, according to the Chicago Tribune, “about halfway home” when he was shot in the head and killed, apparently instantly.

That family lives blocks from my home. That boy was enrolled in our high school, would have ridden his bike down the same streets that my boy will walk come fall. His family had done what they could to make him safe, and they probably figured that a 15 minute bike ride down a well-lit, major thoroughfare was safe, too.

But they were wrong. Someone else — also a teenager, a 19 year old young woman named Ashley Hardmon — was shot and killed less than an hour earlier, not far from where Damani was killed.*

His mom figures her boy was collateral damage. “He coincidentally had on black,” she told reporters — as if, in a functional world, that would in any way consign a boy to death. But the world we live in is not functional.

This is not my story. This was Chicago’s violence. It spilled over again, through the tiny hole of a woman and a family trying to get away. Damani Henard was not my son.

But this is my story. This is my violence. That woman ran to my town to keep her boy alive, and the world in which we both live reached out and snatched him from her. Damani was my boy, just as much as every child in the streets of Chicago and across this grieving nation are my children, the children of all the adults who fail them again and again, unto death. This is what a nation awash with guns looks like: Dead children.

I’ve written before that white privilege is sending your son out into the world without the fear that he will not return — at the time I was referring to state-mandated violence, but race lies deep within the heart of this story, too. Who are Chicago’s poor? What neighborhoods go under-protected by Chicago’s police? What color are the families doing the fleeing? My black neighbors — the upper middle class ones, the professional ones, the ones who dress like me and talk like me and who send their boys to private schools because our high school, the school to which Damani was coming for shelter, doesn’t always serve its black boys well — they know far better than me that class and geography don’t always suffice. Their boys don’t have to be poor, don’t have to be surrounded by gangs, to be in danger. They just have to live inside their skins.

I made my son a cheese sandwich for lunch today. I held him as tight as I could without making him suspicious, without weeping. Damani’s mother will never hold him again.

* In the first shooting, a gunman fired into a crowd of young people, striking Ashley Hardmon, 19, in the head in the 4800-block of West Potomac Tuesday night. Hardmon died at Stroger Hospital. Friends say Hardmon was standing with friends when someone starting shooting into the group.“At this stage in my life, I never thought I would bury one of my kids. I just can’t imagine… I still don’t believe it’s real,” Ashley’s mother Tiffany Hardmon said tearfully. “When we got here, she was face down, and she was lifeless, and I knew she wasn’t going make it.”“I am very angry. My love for God won’t let me hate them, but they need to pay for what they did,” said Tiffany Hardmon.

Chicago police say Hardmon was hit after several shooters approached a home and opened fire just after 9:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Hardmon was a graduate of Austin Business Academy and was training to work at a pharmacy through the Job Corps program. She was supposed to finish that program next month. She was back home in her Austin neighborhood for summer break.

Wot he said.

Wot he said.

Click the link below. This fascinating interactive graphic shows you were Americans have died of gun violence SINCE Sandy Hook on December 14th.

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/crime/2012/12/gun_death_tally_every_american_gun_death_since_newtown_sandy_hook_shooting.html

Dead victims. More than one and a half thousand of them. One and a half thousand families. One and a half thousand broken individuals, many of them full of potential and life and goodness. Horrendous emotional and financial costs, one and a half thousand police cases, chases, arrests, prosecutions, trials, jail terms, and executions to be planned and implemented. In less than two months.

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/crime/2012/12/gun_death_tally_every_american_gun_death_since_newtown_sandy_hook_shooting.html

Just ponder that. It’s more than 1,600, actually. In 55 days.

That averages out to 29 people a day. On Christmas, 30 Americans were killed by guns. On New Year’s Day, it was 58. On Martin Luther King Day, 28. Last Thursday was a good day — only 13 Americans were shot to death that day.

If you are an American and you want to speak to someone in the United States Government about these statistics – if you want to express your opinion that changes need to happen, then –

  • Call Congress: 202-224-3121
  • Call the White House: 202-456-1111
  • Find your Senators by clicking here (if you’d rather send an email, you’ll find that information here, too).
  • Find your US Representative by clicking here (if you’d rather send an email, you’ll find that information here, too).

Meanwhile, politicians bicker, opinion-makers waffle and bluster and cajole and obscure, the facts get twisted and used partially, and as time passes and nothing changes the ordinary folk watch on, appalled. And people die. Men, women, and children. And dead is forever.

Sample script:

Hi, I’m calling from [location], and I just wanted to make sure that President Obama/Senator XXXXX/Representative XXXXX knows that I support the White House gun control initiative. I think that things like background checks, limits on magazine capacity, and a ban on assault weapons are common sense, and I think it’s so important to also work with inner city communities to address their particular needs — less than 1% of urban populations are responsible for about 70% of all shootings in cities, and it’s tragic that so many people are held hostage to that violence.

As gun victim and advocate for responsible gun ownership Gabby Giffords told Congress: “We must do something. It will be hard but the time is now. You must act. Be bold. Be courageous.”

I am grateful to Emily Hauser for alerting me to these facts, to Slate for doing their work, and I encourage all my American friends and colleagues to think hard, and to make sure their voices are heard.

And if you disagree with the changes proposed, just send a different message.

But whatever you believe, don’t do nothing. or nothing is exactly what will happen.

Except for the body count.

That will continue to tick over. You can be sure of that.

WellthisiswhatIthink says: This is a brutally frank and important commentary from a Jewish Zionist on everything that is wrong – and morally wrong – with the current Israeli government’s position on the Palestinian question. It deserves to be read by anyone – anyone – who genuinely wants peace in the Middle East.

Emily L. Hauser - In My Head

Israeli_and_Palestinian_FlagsLast week, Daniel Gordis ran an opinion piece in the Jerusalem Post entitled “We Gave Peace a Chance,” consisting largely of a lengthy and pretty accurate list of the many and various ways in which Palestinians have been a disappointment to Israelis.

I cannot and will not argue that the Palestinian leadership has been a paragon of virtue, either in leading its own people or in dealing with mine, nor will I argue that the Palestinian people have taken many steps to reassure my people that they don’t actively despise us. It’s my impression, based in a quarter of a century of observation, that a lot of Palestinians do, in fact, despise Israel. Where Gordis and I differ, I think, is our starting point for dealing with Palestinians in the first place.

In his piece, Gordis relies on and advances the same kind of bush-league dehumanization of the Palestinian people 

View original post 955 more words

 rape victims

“I can’t say it’s your own fault any more, so we’ll blame it on God.”

The following article, from the excellent Emily Hauser, argues quite correctly that this Republican politician has done the world, and America voters, a great service.

From Todd Aiken to here is a straight line. Because here, for once, unambiguously, is the argument laid out for all to see. And that argument is: if you get raped, and you get pregnant, then it is what God intended, and you are honour-bound to carry that child to term and give birth. (No word yet on whether God intended you to bring the child up as well.)

This is nothing new: the recent kerfuffle in the news about Todd Akin was simply because he said out loud what he and his colleagues think but aren’t supposed to say.  Todd Akin simply said out loud what his voting record and the voting record of his conservative colleagues  showed for years.  Three weeks before he walked straight into a shit-storm 203 Republicans in the House of Representatives voted to prohibit abortions even in cases of rape or incest. And earlier this year the Republican party didn’t want to extend funding of $455 million a year for rape crisis centers that already are being funded on the books.  They felt it was excessive use of government spending and an over-reach in the size of the federal government (source); it only passed when the Republican leadership said that this would damage the GOP politically.

And in February of this year – Fox News said the Pentagon was spending too much money to defend women soldiers from rape (source) even though a woman soldier is more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire (source).

Well, turning to this story, I have a degree in Theology, I am a democrat (note the small D, despite my feelings about this particular election), and I am a man.

On all three counts, I respect this man’s right to express his point of view.

But I also unalterably and completely reject his nonsense as yet another product of the Neanderthal extremist hyper-religious right in America, typified by lunatic old neo-fascists masquerading as Roman Catholic archbishops, raving “pastors” of mainly Southern extreme Protestant cliques, and all the rest of the literalistic fundamentalist Christians that America delights in nurturing.

Just let’s consider this argument carefully. ” Rape is something God intended to happen.”

Apart from how I feel that insults God, it’s only a very small step from that complete abrogation and abnegation of intellectual responsibility to argue that “Slavery is something God intended to happen.”  Or “the Holocaust is something God intended to happen.”

The inevitable result of blaming everything on God is we don’t NEED to improve the world ourselves. Well, we can try, of course, but if we happen to fail, well, fuck it – it’s God’s will that we fail, and we can all just accept the consequences.

My dear old Mother would have had a response to that. She would have said, in her delightful Welsh brogue, ” Well, Stephen, God helps those who help themselves.” Meaning, not that we are all supposed to become uber-rich by asset stripping companies, but that God does not, in fact, carefully orchestrate every lifetime moment of every human being on the planet, and he looks to us to look after not only the planet, but ourselves, and our societies.

Hell yes there’s a reason to vote for Obama in this election, and it is to keep nut-cases like this guy and his comrades out of power. And out of your bedroom, and out of your bodies.

Women of America: don’t say you weren’t warned …

Romney/Ryan, abortion, and the humanity of women. (And church and state, too).

Yesterday I had the honor of being on a panel with Daniel Ellsberg on HuffPost Live, and the good fortune to be given the opportunity to talk about how, in fact, the little matter of which party sits in the White House is hugely important to American women, because there’s one party that treats 50% of this nation’s citizens as autonomous people, and one party that doesn’t.

Then a little later in the day, this was reported:

Defending his stance that abortion should be illegal even in the case of rape, [Indiana Treasurer/candidate for US Senate Richard] Mourdock explained that pregnancy resulting from non-consensual sex is the will of God.

“I’ve struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize that life is that gift from God,” Mourdock said. “And even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”

And I honestly found it refreshing. Because Richard Mourdock said, out loud and for all to hear, that which so many of these anti-choice culture warriors carry in their hearts: This is God’s will, and if you abort any pregnancy, regardless of its provenance, you are acting to thwart the Almighty Himself.

This isn’t about compassion for the poor witless woman who might not know what she’s missing out on if you don’t force her to undergo state-sanctioned rape in the form of a trans-vaginal ultrasound; this isn’t even, really, about human life. This is about the will of God, and the belief held by a great many people that humans are required to bend to that will — and that for women, there’s a lot more will to go around:

Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man…. [A man] the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. 1 Corinthians 11:3 & 7

To be clear: There are millions upon millions of Christians who have grappled with verses like those I’ve just quoted and come to an understanding of their faith and Scripture that support women’s equality and our right to bodily autonomy. (And just to be clearer still: I believe that all modern-day monotheism, including my own, requires this kind of grappling, because none of our Scriptures are without ugliness).

But the Christians standing at the head of the American right wing are not that kind of Christian, and they’re the ones we’re facing.

God is above man, and man is above woman. If you were raped, that’s not cool (in no small part because rape is equated with sex, and a woman’s sexuality belongs to the man she married/will marry), but if that rape made you pregnant? Well, that’s what God wanted. And women who attempt to thwart God’s will are not only making God really really mad, they are upsetting the natural order of things, and that cannot be allowed.

I think it’s helpful to be told flat-out that this is what we’re battling. Many anti-choice activists may honestly believe that they’re acting to protect children (though I might argue that if they really want to protect children, they might consider the needs of the fetus after it becomes a baby, but I digress), but leaders of the anti-choice movement are acting to protect what they know to be the Divine order.

But I live in a secular nation. I live in a country where the separation of church and state is written into law. I live in a place where your knowledge of the Divine order should have absolutely no legal bearing on my life.

There is one party that agrees with that notion, and one party — the vice-presidential candidate of which stands behind some of the most extreme anti-choice bills on the American scene – that does not.

One party that is working — however fitfully, however imperfectly — to protect the right of half of this country’s citizens to be legally recognized as humans with autonomy over their own bodies, and one party working to declare zygotes legal people, to require physicians to lie to patients about the established medical facts of abortion, and to allow hospitals to deny abortions to women even when their lives are in immediate danger.

This is not about the medical procedure called “abortion.” This is about the separation of church and state, and it is about allowing women to be human.

Don’t tell me the parties are the same. 

Update: Mitt Romney taped an endorsement for Mourdock on Monday, but his campaign told TPM yesterday that Mourdock’s views do not reflect Romney’s. And yet for all that, the campaign has said today that it has not asked Mourdock to pull the ad. So.

There’s that.

Remember, what happened to Troy Davis could happen to anyone.

Remember, what happened to Troy Davis could happen to anyone.

In the bleak hours since Troy Davis was killed for a crime he did not commit, more facts continue to emerge about the farcical state of the legal processes that condemned him to death. Apart from the fact that courts repeatedly refused to allow new evidence to be submitted on Davis’s behalf – in other words, the truth does not matter, merely the upholding of whatever legal morass is in power at the time – more evidence of the unreliability of the witnesses that were originally produced is coming out.

A member of Davis’ legal team from the Washington law firm Arnold & Porter said there was too much doubt about the eyewitness testimony at the 1991 trial to let Davis be convicted.

In a telephone interview the lawyer confirmed that the eyewitnesses included an man who initially said he could not recognize the shooter except for the clothes he was wearing; a woman who initially said she could not put a face with the shooter; a woman who said she recognized Davis in the dark from more than 120 feet away; and a man who was looking through his car’s tinted windows and said he was only 60 percent sure he could identify Davis.

“You can’t execute someone based on that kind of testimony,” the defnece team member said. “It’s unconscionable.” Nevertheless, just before 11pm on Wednesday night, the state, in our name, injected Davis with poison and killed him. His last words were to again plead his innocence directly to the family of the police officer he was wrongly accused of killing, and to pray for the souls of those about to end his life. It may strike you that these were hardly the actions of a callous murderer with nothing left to lose.

But even worse, Jennifer Dysart, an expert on the problems associated with eyewitness testimony, said she had planned to testify at Monday’s clemency hearing, but the parole board ended Davis’ presentation before she could give her presentation.

In an interview today, Dysart said numerous studies show that eyewitness testimony is unreliable and the procedures used by Savannah police in the Davis investigation would not be allowed today.

“Even if the parole board didn’t believe the recantations, there were significant problems with all the eyewitness testimony,” she said “Nothing reliable should come from that testimony. I wish the board had heard my presentation.”

Let’s just make that clear. The Parole Board simply refused to hear expert testimony, when a man’s life was at stake, and after over a million signatures requesting clemency had been collected.

I would like to suggest my readers also visit Emily Hauser’s blog, which initially alerted me to this case. Her musings after the sentence was carried out, and her suggestions for how people can maintain their rage and make a difference, are touching and well worth reading. Head to http://emilylhauserinmyhead.wordpress.com/2011/09/22/dear-readers-veteran-and-new/

It is also worth considering, I believe, how the efforts of warm-hearted people like Emily turned this case into a cause celebre that has swept the world in recent weeks. It is both a reflection of the new power associated with the Internet, and the importance of the little people, the ordinary individuals, who are prepared to stand up, perhaps for the first time, and say “Not In My Name”. In this case, it proved to be fruitless, but in other cases it will not. In the long term, we may trace major changes to the sad date of 21st Septemeber. In any event, the sheer outpouring of compassion and understanding in itself gives Troy’s dreadful sacrifice meaning. He has left the world a better place, bitter though the price was which he had to pay.

This will, except in terms of the most dramatic news coming to light, be my last post on this case. I am grateful for the very many messages of support sent to me personally, and much more grateful for those who weighed in to campaign on Troy’s behalf. It is clear to anyone except those with an emotional, legal or practical investment in seeing Troy Davis killed that a terrible, terrible wrong has been done. All we can do know is work, uncreasingly, to prevent more injustices from occuring, in America and elsewhere. In Iran a couple of days ago a 17 year old was hanged publicly for stabbing to death a much larger man who he had claimed attacked him over a raod rage incident. In China there is ample evidence that people are executed for minor crimes in order to harvest their body parts.

Until the cancer of the death penalty is removed, everywhere, the anger endures, and the fight goes on.

And last but not least: remember that if they can kill Troy Davis when the evidence against him was clearly totally flawed, when more than one million people including law enforcement officers, Presidents, politicians, churchmen and many more pleaded with them not to, then they can frame and kill you, too.

Yes, you. Or your mother, or your father. Or your husband, wife, brother or sister. Or your child.