Friday, October 28, 2011

An Appeal for 100%

When I talk to my peers about the 99% movement, the greater part of reaction I see is confusion or downright ignorance.  We have incredible difficulty organizing, not because people are completely unaware of the problems we face, but that they just don't care.  I don't think they really understand what's at stake, and to be honest it seems that the tendency to limit these protests to economic justice is a serious mistake.  If the truth itself is not marketable, then to Hell with markets.

When I read the words of the 1%, I also see confusion, but misguided indignation as well.  How dare we question the status quo, they think.  How can we say that their fortunes are ill-gotten?  They're legal, after all!  They worked hard to accrue those fortunes as well, and what right do we have to benefit from their largesse?

We have every right, because it is the only way to make amends for the sins of our nation.  Because the nature of finance and international capital makes all fortunes vulnerable to the benefit of war and murder.

In telling the truth I can speak only for myself, and I ask that you please listen.  It's a terrible burden to remember the stories that history would rather forget, so help me take a load off.

People Before Profits

On September 16, 2007, Allawi Kinani, age nine, was riding with his family as they entered Baghdad's Nisoor Square.  He never slept away from his father, and didn't want to become Ali.  In his mind he was still a child.

At the same time, a Blackwater company was performing security work for VIPs from the State Department.  They were en route to a meeting somewhere else in Baghdad, when a woman and her son in a Kia seemed to defy police orders to clear the way.  Blackwater contractors opened fire on the Kia, and then blasted the square with flashbangs, initiating a firefight with local security and causing a chain reaction which descended into massacre.

Mohammed Kinani covered his sister with his body while their car was struck with bullets, and it was only when the firefight subsided that they realized Allawi was shot.  Allawi Kinani, age nine, knew the truth about life as his brains fell out onto the ground of Nisoor Square.  He was rushed to a hospital by ambulance, but it was a futile effort.  If he felt anything as he died it was indescribable suffering while his body spasmed uncontrollably and almost tore out the IVs buried in his skin.

The Blackwater mercenaries were there to earn a dollar, and they were paid by the US government to do so.  Their reckless disregard for human life, is part of a colonial culture enabled by the long term occupation of Iraq by foreign powers.  In 2009 manslaughter charges were dropped against all five Blackwater personnel, and nobody was brought to justice for the murder of 17 people in Nisoor Square.

Allawi Kinani's life was invaluable, yet the price on his head was $10,000 insisted upon by the US government.  When his father sued Blackwater, demanding only the retribution of an apology, he was told "we don't apologize."

Remember Allawi Kinani: People Before Profits.

People Before the Law

Troy Davis was convicted in the 1989 murder of Georgia police officer Mark MacPhail.  In the 22 years he spent on death row, new evidence was brought to light and several witnesses recanted their testimonies.  New evidence, while it may not have proven his innocence, created a sufficient level of doubt which should have at least demanded clemency for his execution.  His execution was given a stay four times, but the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles finally refused to grant clemency regardless of new evidence.

The MacPhail family and various talking heads in the media were baying for the blood of Troy Davis, and on September 21, 2011, they finally got their wish.

Davis should have been executed at 7 PM, but was granted a temporary reprieve as the US Supreme Court considered whether he should be granted a stay of execution.  Outside the prison, Davis's supporters cheered in the belief that he would be saved.  Yet mercy would never come for Troy Davis, and as he spent three hours strapped to a gurney the Supreme Court of the United States determined that his conviction was carried out justly.  The letter of the law was followed, and there was no sufficient cause to stay his execution.  No law was broken as the State of Georgia murdered Troy Davis.
“The struggle for justice doesn’t end with me. This struggle is for all the Troy Davises who came before me and all the ones who will come after me. I’m in good spirits and I’m prayerful and at peace. But I will not stop fighting until I’ve taken my last breath. Georgia is prepared to snuff out the life of an innocent man.”
It took fifteen minutes for the execution of Troy Davis to be carried out, and as his organs slowly failed one by one from the lethal cocktail administered by the state, he was finally declared dead at 11:08 PM.  Those who loved Troy Davis then sank into a pit of despair.

Remember Troy Davis: People Before The Law.

People Before The State

Facing prosecution, radical Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki fled the country for Yemen.  Eventually a targeted killing order was issued by President Barack Obama for his apparent involvement in several terror plots, and alleged membership in Al-Qaeda.  Yet no charges were ever brought against him, and no indictment was ever made.  The American people had only the word of the US government to go on, and many of us believed it.

On September 30, 2011, hellfire missiles fired from a predator drone in Yemen ended the life of Anwar al-Awlaki, a US citizen.

Anwar's son, Abdul-Rahman Al-Awlaki age 16, set out from the Yemeni capital of Sana'a in search of his father.  He was born in Denver, an American citizen, but when he was killed Yemeni authorities claimed he was 21.

He and his friends were on their way back to Sana'a when they stopped to have dinner at a café on October 14.  A US predator drone in the meantime fired Hellfire missiles at what the government claims was the hideout of Ibrahim al-Banna.  Abdul-Rahman and seven others, were "in the wrong place at the wrong time."
"In addition to my grandson's killing, the missile killed my brother's grandson, who was a 17-year-old kid, who was not an American citizen but is a human being, killed in cold blood. I cannot comprehend how my teenage grandson was killed by a Hellfire missile, how nothing was left of him except small pieces of flesh. Why? Is America safer now that a boy was killed?"
Within two days after Abdul-Rahman was killed in a country the United States is not at war with, over 100 other people were killed by US drone strikes in Yemen, Pakistan, and Somalia.  We may never know most of their names, but they were people like Abdul-Rahman Al-Awlaki, US citizenship or no.  They were people like Troy Davis and Allawi Kinani.  They had hopes and dreams, families and loved ones.  They were people just like you and me, yet now they're dead.  Blood stains left on American boots as we march towards a forever war with humanity for the sake of ending "terrorism."

Remember the drone strike victim: People Before The State.

Taking Stock

On some level we are responsible for all of these crimes.  We pay our taxes which support the military industrial complex that killed Allawi and Abdul, and which support the prison industrial complex that murdered Troy Davis.  All of these crimes are carried out in our name, yet most of us aren't even aware of them and I'm willing to bet most of you didn't even want to know.

But maybe death doesn't come from a bullet, a missile, or a lethal injection.  Maybe it comes slow.  Maybe it comes from a cancerous environment, poisoned by irresponsible industries.  Maybe it comes from a starvation incurred by rampant speculation on global food prices.  Some of us may even consider the dead to be lucky.

Because most of us aren't killed by the system yet.  We bear massive medical burdens which force us into bankruptcy or debt slavery.  We have poor nutrition guaranteed to send us to an early grave, or which developmentally impairs our children, thirteen million of which are food insecure.

We 99% who throw ourselves on the gears and become bugs in the Murder Machine that we call modern society, we are denigrated and spit upon by those of you who imagine yourselves to be our masters.  Yet I know for a fact that every person can make a choice, any where and at any time.  You can always choose to do the right thing.

So for those of you who are the lever pullers, I ask that you recognize your place in the assembly line and bring a halt to production.  No more ignoble deaths.  None of us deserve to be forgotten.

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