What comes after "visceral shock"

What comes after “visceral shock”: “

Here’s the full statement Professor Juan Cole sent us on the front-page news story he found himself the subject of this week:

If what Glenn Carle alleged actually happened, the charter of the CIA was violated and the US constitution was violated. If there are no consequences for such actions by the powerful then their successors will be all the more tempted to repeat them. Our rights under the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution are if anything more under assault today than they were in 2005, and supporters of the PATRIOT Act and the FISA Courts have repeatedly argued that no abuses were known to have occurred. We now know that abuses have occurred and Congress should repeal the pernicious provisions of the PATRIOT Act, not extend them for four years! I am afraid a lot of people may dismiss the revelation that the Bush White House asked the CIA to dig up dirt about me in order to discredit my reputation as old news. The Bush administration officials are long gone, and the controversies over the Iraq War have subsided, and no one in Washington seems in a mood to look into crimes committed in a former administration. But unless a full investigation of this story is launched by the Senate and House Intelligence Committees and by Eric Holder at the Department of Justice, we won’t get the documents that show exactly what was done and how widespread these abuses were. And we won’t be in a position to take the steps to forestall them from being repeated.

Professor Cole also blogged about the allegations here.


Freedom Riders / A review

Freedom Riders / A review: “

{liberatormagazine.com exclusive feature}

Freedom Riders underlines current political dilemmas

by Frederick B. Hudson

Folksingers in the 60’s sang often of Parchman Prison. Located in the Mississippi Delta, the prison was a working farm which regularly turned a profit by having prisoners work under duress of cattle prods and guns. Guards there regularly used devices called wrist-breakers, metal clasps which could fracture the bones in a prisoner’s arm when tightened.

In 1961 a group of fourteen young women were there, sleeping on concrete floors and annoying the guards so much with their singing that they were thrown in a sweat box.

Why were they there?

Because a professor at the University of Chicago said that he was going on a Freedom Ride, and his class said, “Can we go?”

This contingent of middle and upper class students found themselves in the midst of a national and international power struggle which helped to form the modern civil rights struggle—their sacrifice was honored this month by President Obama who proclaimed May 2011 as the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Rides.

The convoluted history of inter-generational activists who decided to cross state lines to bring the failure of Southern states to abide by two U.S. Supreme Court decisions forcing the integration of travel accommodations for interstate travel is graphically depicted this Monday, May 16 on PBS stations in the television documentary, Freedom Riders, written, directed, and produced by filmmaker Stanley Nelson.

The still and filmed scenes of demonstrators’ beatings and burning busses punctuated by interviews with courageous riders including U.S. Representative John Lewis have been depicted in other civil rights documentaries, including Eyes on the Prize. But perhaps the most salient value of the piece is its shattering of the Kennedy brothers’ reputation of championing civil rights.

Nelson’s research with government officials, including John Seigenthaler, a native of Nashville which was the seat for much of the Freedom Riders’ organizing, whose status as Bobby Kennedy’s assistant did not save him from a vicious beating, tells with no soft punches the Kennedy brothers lack of concern for the civil rights struggle—before or after the 1960 election.

John Patterson, governor of Alabama, was an avowed segregationist and the first Southern governor to support Kennedy for president. In a riveting clip, Patterson tells Alabama voters that a vote for Kennedy is a commitment to segregation. Kennedy needed every state in his narrow victory and was loath to upset the Dixiecrats. Voting in the South in the 60’s was for white people after all.

But the Congress of Racial Equality decided to expand the recent gains made during the lunch counter sits with the more drastic technique of freedom rides. Following the model of an earlier trip in 1947, the riders—seven black and six white—aimed to penetrate the Deep South by bus, breaking state laws on segregated seating and segregated restrooms and restaurants along the way.

Some younger activists questioned the wisdom of the organizational model since all the various city officials would have to do to avoid confrontation and publicity would be to meet the demonstrators at the bus stations and escort them out of town.

But this analysis ignored the depth of the racist attitudes that separated not only the seats of the buses but the restaurants and waiting rooms that served the passengers.

The riders left Washington, D.C., on May 4, 1961. They included James Farmer, the new national director of CORE; John Lewis already arrested five times in the sit-ins; and a number of black students from the sit-in movement. The whites were generally older.

The riders had appealed to President Kennedy for protection of their constitutional rights. The Justice Department thereupon alerted the Birmingham police force. Still, the ride proceeded with almost no incidents until two members were beaten by a mob in the white waiting room at Rock Hill, South Carolina. At Anniston, Alabama, on the way to Birmingham on May 14, a mob attacked the Greyhound bus with chains and iron rods, breaking windows and slashing tires. The bus then developed a flat tire a few miles out of Anniston, and part of the mob, following in cars, hurled bricks through the windows and set the bus afire with incendiary bombs, destroying it completely.

Freedom riders on another Trailways bus were attacked on board by eight men who tried to oust black students from the front section. As this bus pulled into the Birmingham terminal, an angry crowd surrounded it, inflicting head wounds on one black student,. The Justice Department later found the police planned this delay. All rioters arrested turned out to be Klan members.

Stanley Nelson commented in an interview before Freedom Riders was screened at the Sundance Film Festival: “And the South voted solidly Democratic, so they were trying as best they could to stay out of the Freedom Rides, you know, and they just kept getting backed up and backed up and backed up, to where finally there was this dramatic siege in a church in Montgomery, Alabama where the Freedom Riders and the local, mostly black, community had come for a rally. There were 1,500 people trapped in the church by a mob of over 3,000 people, who were setting fires, turning over cars. And finally—they were trapped there until about 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning, and finally the federal troops were called out, and that was the only way they were saved from the church.”

After Diane Nash, a student at Fisk University. called for a national effort to continue the Freedom Rides, Southern and Northern students began converging in Alabama, determined to continue the rides from the brutal carnage. But Bull Conner, chief of police in Birmingham, Alabama held the students in “protective custody” and drove them to the Tennessee border and told to go home.

The group found refuge among the country residents and found their way back to Birmingham and eventually to Mississippi where the young women sang among the wrist breakers and the cattle prods.

This piece is worth seeing for its exposure of bravery as well as the duplicity of governmental officials who in echoes of today’s conflicts still are subject to the insight by activist Randall Robinson who said “But, in the last analysis, most of us understand: until you can manage media to make (an) issue one of political consequence for American political figures, there is very little you can do to alter the kind of response that our country ought to make.”

Seductive (Soft) Patriarchy and the “Problem” of Blackness

Seductive (Soft) Patriarchy and the “Problem” of Blackness: “

Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing?:
Seductive (Soft) Patriarchy and the “Problem” of Blackness
by Keon M. McGuire | special to NewBlackMan
Much attention has been (re)devoted to the Atlanta megachurch pastor of New Birth, Bishop Eddie Long, since his recent out of court settlement of an alleged $25million in his hopes to bring an end to a saga dating back to September 2010, in which he was accused of sexual improprieties with four young men – Anthony Flagg, Spencer LeGrande, Jamal Parris and Maurice Robinson. Long’s first sermon to his congregation post the allegations was at best a rhetorical “two-step” around the issue as he stated “I’ve never claimed to be a perfect man . . . but I’m certainly not the man they’re portraying in the media” (paraphrased). A casual listener may accurately surmise that while this was no admission of guilt, it was far from a declaration of innocence. Long concluded his sermon by likening himself to David – the young, pre-sex scandal David – facing Goliath and ready for battle; yet, he had yet to throw one stone.
Potentially most troublesome is that most of the media attention surrounding Long’s fall from (some) grace has, in many ways, ignored the serious trauma experienced by the four young men. The most recent dismissal and downplaying of their experiences came from Bishop Long’s friend, Creflo Dollar. Also himself an Atlanta megachurch pastor, Dollar recently addressed “his” congregation explicitly about Long’s incident. Dollar’s constant referral to Long’s wreck (re: sexual indiscretion) seems to be the closest we will get to an actual confession of some guilt. Yet, the term wreck in itself exemplifies the negligent care and concern offered these young men. Unless we agree that emotional and psychological damage and coerced sexual interactions constitutes just a “wreck”. I disagree. As a friend pointed out, such bully tactics used to keep the people quiet only serves to perpetuate the predator’s – yes, Eddie Long’s – power. Tamura Lomax offers an exceptional critique of the violence that surrounds this incident and how the church has pattern of condoning clergy’s abuse of power.
Dollar’s defense of Long’s “wreck” went viral, primarily because of his rant in which he told anyone who was a member of Long’s church that they could not join “his” congregation. He did not want them at “his” church! Why? Because according to Dollar, Long was still anointed for his position and he was still going to heaven. Since when did Dollar become St. Peter at the pearly gates eludes me? But then again, we might have missed that while we were all awaiting the rapture. While several have pointed to the faux theological grounding for Dollar’s claims, it is his justifications of Long’s actions and his critique of BOTH his and Long’s parishioners that demonstrate the seductive (and dangerous) nature of soft patriarchy.

At some point Dollar pauses and states: “That pastor [Long] has loved ‘em, taken care of ‘em, and given to ‘em and done that” and later “taught them how to tie their shoes.” One is left wondering: so does that make everything ok? Does the benevolent father (or soft patriarch) get a pass because he delivered gifts and presents? I borrow the term soft patriarch from Christian Feminist Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen to describe the ways in which modern Christianity has created a theologically justified and sociopolitical “necessary” masculinity that does not rely on the brute (physical) force typically associated with (destructive) hypermasculinity. Nonetheless it comes with the same privileges. Often offered as a male servant, it never challenges or disrupts the (heterosexual) male’s right to leadership and authority.
Long’s service to those young men, thus, excuses his wreck. I mean after all, he did fulfill his responsibility of soft patriarch by not “physically” abusing them or neglecting them financially. Considering the constant critique of absentee fathers in the Black community, the soft patriarch is (re)presented as the antithesis of the negligent Black male who is never physically present in the home, absolves himself of all financial responsibility and neglects the mentoring of his children – particularly his Black son(s). Thus, Long receives a pass as, according to Dollar, he did teach them to tie their shoes.
Although soft patriarchy may purport to be the better of the two, we must remember – it is still patriarchy. Meaning, among other things, Long’s authority and position does not require him to be equitably accountable to these young men, his congregation, or the broader faith community we are apart of, beyond the terms established by him and his lawyers. And if his parishioners dare decide – as critical, conscious human beings – to choose another worship community, they are publicly chastised for being disloyal, spiritually immature (Black) Christians. I emphasize Black because Dollar, in one instance, tells the congregation “You clap your hands now, but let me have a wreck, I wonder how many of you Negroes will still be here . . . I mean precious saints of God”. Dollar, in that one statement, effectively rehearses a racist trope of Black cultural relations; essentially stating, “You all know Black folks don’t know how to be loyal and unify. You say one thing and do another”. Dollar’s odd, but not surprising, rhetorical gesture left me thinking – well dag, I guess I need God to help me fight my flawed humanity AND fix and cleanse me of my Blackness!
I’m sure this will not be the last hooray we hear from Long, Dollar or others in their positions. However, I’m sadly disappointed as I’m not sure those who share the same Christian capital and public platforms similar to Long and Dollar will publicly push back against these bully tactics. In addition, I’m not sure we, as a faith community, will demand and require a critical redefining of Christian masculinity. One that is more accountable to the people served and one that does not receive passes because of its perceived distance from the “Other” Black guy.
Long may have compared himself to David, but he may be more like his predecessor Saul. The same Saul who didn’t follow God’s instructions and instead of coming clean, attempted to offer a sacrifice instead. From Saul’s mishaps we learned that God honors obedience over sacrifice. As a result, God chose David to replace him because he was no longer fit to lead. While I’m not saying Bishop Long will leave his pastoral post, I do believe it gives us another Biblical figure through which we can think through this fiasco.
Keon McGuire a third year doctoral student in Higher Education and Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. His research focuses on issues of race and gender among Black college students. You can follow him on Twitter @YngBlkScholar

Gov. Perry: Economic Crisis Is Part of God’s Plan To Return Us To Biblical Principles | ThinkProgress

Gov. Perry: Economic Crisis Is Part of God’s Plan To Return Us To Biblical Principles | ThinkProgress: “

Gov. Perry: Economic Crisis Is Part of God’s Plan To Return Us To Biblical Principles | ThinkProgress.

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AARP Tells Members They Won’t Fight Social Security Benefit Cuts

AARP Tells Members They Won’t Fight Social Security Benefit Cuts: “

The front page of today’s Wall Street Journal features an article [Key Seniors Association Pivots on Benefit Cut] reporting that AARP “is dropping its longstanding opposition to cutting Social Security benefits.” The piece is based on a conversation with AARP policy director John Rother. This is a big deal – not because AARP was ever such a strong force against proposed benefit cuts (other groups are doing that much more effectively), but because the mainstream media is now full of headlines like this from ABC News: AARP Appears to Switch Stance on Social Security Cuts and this column by David Von Drehle, from Time Online: Victory! The Grey Goliath Gives Way on Social Security.

AARP members across the country are outraged. Some are burning their membership cards. The timing of this front page story couldn’t be worse. Conservatives have fixated Congress and the White House on deficits and spending cuts that will kill jobs — even though most Americans care more about jobs than deficits. Most Americans were heartened when Paul Ryan’s plan for dismantling Medicare was decisively rejected by the very Republican voters of New York’s 26th Congressional District – after Ryan got almost every Republican in the Congress to vote for it. Democrats were starting to re-learn how to campaign as defenders of Medicare and Social Security. And now this – from a top level AARP leader – a real momentum killer.

Now, this obviously well-planned article in the Wall Street Journal, timed just as Joe Biden’s deficit reduction talks are moving to ‘the difficult stuff,’ gives aid and comfort to conservatives and New Democrats who are on a jihad to make Social Security cuts a focus of deficit reduction – even though America’s largest retirement program has its own source of funding and can’t contribute to the deficit.

It is well-known that Obama administration officials would like to have a deal on Social Security which changes the index by which benefits are raised each year (a big benefit cut) and which raises the retirement age (another big benefit cut) and also the lifts the cap which limits the percentage of their income that richer people pay in Social Security taxes (a revenue increase). So far, that’s been a non-starter with Republicans, who can’t support tax increases on the wealthy. But with the press now trumpeting AARP’s dramatic move toward benefit cuts, Republicans might come under pressure to make a deal. The irony here would be the White House using the AARP to leverage a deal that cuts benefits – while doing nothing to reduce the federal deficit! Their answer if they could pull this off: It will reassure the bond markets.

This just in: The AARP has just issued a statement by their CEO, A. Barry Rand, entitled AARP Has Not Changed Its Position on Social Security. In it, Rand calls the WSJ piece inaccurate and misleading, but doesn’t clarify what they think was inaccurate.

In the <em>Journal</em> article, John Rother was clear that he’s willing to support SS benefit cuts. AARP in its statement just reiterates its commitment to “solvency” of the program. I believe SS can be made solvent without benefit cuts. John Rother disagrees. Where does the AARP as the largest organization claiming to represent seniors stand? They are not clear.

The AARP statement claims to oppose including Social Security in the deficit discussions. If they really mean that, the group that promotes itself as the most powerful defender of seniors in America should get their vaunted citizen’s lobby in gear – to make sure Social Security doesn’t become the sacrificial lamb of this dangerous season of budget cutting blood on the floor.

Baby boomers are now beginning to retire – and we have many fewer retirement assets (no pensions, devastated savings, unconventional work histories) – and we are going to depend on Social Security even more than previous generations. We know we didn’t join for the movie discounts. If we can’t depend on AARP to fight for decent Social Security benefits, maybe we need a more activist organization that will.

Texas senator calls Spanish speech "insulting," urges man to speak English

Texas senator calls Spanish speech “insulting,” urges man to speak English: “During a hearing on the controversial ‘sanctuary cities’ bill, a Texas senator cut off a Spanish speaker and told him he ‘should be speaking English.’ The senator says it wasn’t meant to be derogatory, but Latino groups across the state are furious.”

Jim McGovern: Tea Party Cuts To Hunger Programs Are ‘Morally Indefensible’

Jim McGovern: Tea Party Cuts To Hunger Programs Are ‘Morally Indefensible’: “pRep. Jim McGovern (D-MA), a long-time champion in the fight against hunger, is outraged by Republican cuts to food programs as the need for assistance has grown. Through no fault of their own, millions of American families are struggling to find jobs and put food on the table for their children, even as oil companies, […]/p”

GOP Funds Climate Disaster Relief By Cutting High-Speed Rail, Cuts Nearly $2 Billion From Obama Clean Energy Budget

GOP Funds Climate Disaster Relief By Cutting High-Speed Rail, Cuts Nearly $2 Billion From Obama Clean Energy Budget: “pOn a party-line vote, the House Appropriations Committee approved a FY 2012 energy and water budget that “contains deep cuts to Obama clean energy priorities, including to solar energy, fuel efficient vehicle funding, energy efficiency research, weatherization and biomass research and development,” $1.9 billion below Obama’s request, with a 90 percent cut to weatherization programs […]/p”

After David Koch Leaves NIH Board, NIH Hands Down Long-Delayed Classification Of Top Koch Pollutant As A Carcinogen

After David Koch Leaves NIH Board, NIH Hands Down Long-Delayed Classification Of Top Koch Pollutant As A Carcinogen: “pLarge manufacturers and chemical producers have lobbied ferociously to stop the National Institutes of Health from classifying formaldehyde as a carcinogen. A wide body of research has linked the chemical to cancer, but industrial polluters have stymied regulators from action. Last year, the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer reported that billionaire David Koch, whose company Georgia […]/p”

Report: Paul Ryan May Personally Benefit From Preserving Billions In Taxpayer Oil Subsidies

Report: Paul Ryan May Personally Benefit From Preserving Billions In Taxpayer Oil Subsidies: “pRep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), the architect of the GOP budget plan, has put forth a plan that calls for ending a number of tax subsidies. However, he has hedged multiple times when asked about oil subsidies. When given the opportunity to end billions in taxpayer giveaways to big oil companies, Ryan voted to preserve the […]/p”