Quote of the Day

“A comfortable, smooth, reasonable, democratic unfreedom prevails in advanced industrial civilization, a token of technical progress.”

- Herbert Marcuse

Against Silence

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
~Martin Luther King, Jr.

“He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”
~Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

Source: 13 Quotes From Social Justice Crusader Martin Luther King Jr. By Stephen D. Foster Jr.

On Torture [Today is International Day in Support of Victims of Torture]

“Cruelty disfigures our national character. It is incompatible with our constitutional order, with our laws, and with our most prized values …there is no more fundamental right than to be safe from cruel and inhumane treatment. Where cruelty exists, law does not.”
-Alberto Mora, former general counsel of the United States Navy
Source: JFK Library, Profile in courage award acceptance speech

On Demanding Action

“In keeping silent about evil, in burying it so deep within us that no sign of it appears on the surface, we are implanting it, and it will rise up a thousand fold in the future. When we neither punish nor reproach evildoers, we are not simply protecting their trivial old age, we are thereby ripping the foundations of justice from beneath new generations.”
― Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn

Source: The Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956


Being Human

“To be human, at the most profound level, is to encounter honestly the inescapable circumstances that constrain us, yet muster the courage to struggle compassionately for our own unique individualities and for more democratic and free societies.”

-Cornel West

Source: From “Contemporary Pragmatism” Volume 5 edited by Mitchell Aboulafia and John R. Shook

Two Truthful Quotes On Change

A fierce and sentimental addiction to forms makes us shudder at change. It is much easier to say that the system is all right–only the people need to be improved.

It is much simpler and easier to collect and caress the trophies of our democratic inheritance than it is to fashion up-to-date tools with which to work on our current problems.

 

-Charles Ferguson (U.S. linguist, 1921-1998)

Source: edchange.org

To Do or Not to Do

If you’re aware of injustice, you can either ignore it, say there is nothing you can do about it, complain about it and not do anything, or put your energies into doing something about it.

- Ben Cohen
Source: Doonething.org

Unfair Drug Policies Have National and International Consequences

What are we doing to change the system?

By Mariana Rebua Simoes

On July 10th, Mother Jones launched an apology to Mexico for the drug war. Rebecca Solnit, who wrote the article, expressed that “right now I’d like to apologize for the drug war, the 10,000 waking nightmares that make the news and the rest that don’t.”

Indeed, since the war on drugs was launched under the pretext that it would help keep drugs from entering the U.S border, drug trafficking has not reduced on the U.S side of the border. Meanwhile, violence has actually increased immensely on the Mexican side. In a video launched in 2010 by Narco News TV, an initiative of the independent Newspaper Narco News stationed in Mexico, it states that the U.S has given 1. 6 billion dollars of aid to Mexico for its drug war. “Yet violent crime on the U.S side of the border has actually gone down 9% over the past three years.”

In the apology Rebecca Solnit issued on behalf of the entire United States, she lists the series of crimes, and deaths that have resulted from the war on drugs on the Mexican end of all this. The article reads:

“You’ve heard the stories about the five severed heads rolled onto the floor of a Michoacan nightclub in 2006, the 300 bodies dissolved in acid by a servant of one drug lord, the 49 mutilated bodies found in plastic bags by the side of the road in Monterrey in May, the nine bodies found hanging from an overpass in Nuevo Laredo just last month, the Zeta Cartel’s videotaped beheadings just two weeks ago, the carnage that has taken tens of thousands of Mexican lives in the last decade and has terrorized a whole nation. I’ve read them and so many more. I am sorry 50,000 times over.”

Most people have a difficult time listening to these horrifying stories and are much less likely to want to put themselves in a Mexican’s shoes. So what are we doing in the U.S side of the border to change the laws and the practices that fuel the fire of the drug war in Mexico? Decriminalizing drugs is still far from a reality in the United States. In fact, gabriel sayegh, Director of the Drug Policy Alliance in their New York City Policy offices reports that today “the number one arrest in the city of New York is for marijuana possession,” the directors says. Sayegh further explains how these figures are growing yearly. “When they changed the law in 1977, from that point when they decriminalized marijuana possession until today it’s noted the increase in stops. There has been a 5000% increase in marijuana possession arrest. 5 thousand percent. There is 50 thousand people arrested in this city for marijuana,” Sayegh shares.

Activists and organizations like the Drug Policy Alliance do not loose hope despite the fact that the figures look so grim. It was impressive to see the thousands of people that came out to support and end to racial biased and discriminatory stops that take place in New York City when people are searched for alleged drug or gun possession.

Anthony Papa, or as his friends call him, Tony Papa was caught in a New York sting operation in 1985 and was given two 15-to-Life sentences for possessing four and a half ounces of cocaine. Under the Rockefeller Drug Laws that were in place at the time a minimum of 15 years to life in prison and a maximum of 25 years to life was given to anyone possessing four ounces (approximately 113 grams) or more of the same illegal substances.  Papa had never been involved in drug dealing before but was suddenly being taken away for life for a first-time non-violent offense.

After spending 12 years in prison Tony Papa went on to become the Manager of Media Relations for the Drug Policy Alliance and founder of the Mothers of the New York Disappeared. His experiences with unjust drug policy propelled him to want to change the system. “Many people just want to forget about the issue. Most people I know who have done time…they just want to forget it,” Papa explains. “But for me, maybe I’m not normal, I took that experience and kind of made it into what it is today where I don’t see it as a stigma. I see it as a badge of honor. Being an ex felon. That gave me power. It empowered me to do what I’m doing,” the organizer says.

Tony Papa’s advice to activists and organizers is to continue to take to the streets and attract the public and most importantly the media’s attention. “It does count when you speak out and constantly try to get the issue out in the public media because then it becomes an issue that the politicians have to deal with,” Papa explains.

Media manager, activist and artist, Tony Papa, gives a few more sound words of advice to his fellow organizers:  “Change is not easy it takes a long time to change things. Always be persistent and keep the goal in line with your vision.”

 

 

On Universality

“Our history is each other. That is our only guide.”

-James Baldwin

Quote of the Day

“To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness.”

-Howard Zinn

Quote of the Day

“Mass incarceration on a scale almost unexampled in human history is a fundamental fact of our country today — perhaps the fundamental fact, as slavery was the fundamental fact of 1850. In truth, there are more black men in the grip of the criminal-justice system — in prison, on probation, or on parole — than were in slavery then. Over all, there are now more people under ‘correctional supervision’ in America — more than six million — than were in the Gulag Archipelago under Stalin at its height.” — Adam Gopnik, “The Caging of America”

For the full article in The New Yorker please visit: http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/atlarge/2012/01/30/120130crat_atlarge_gopnik

Tim Wise, Rev. Al Sharpton, and Richard Cohen on the Melissa Harris-Perry Show – MSNBC – 3/25/12 – Discussing Trayvon Martin Case

The victims and beneficiaries of ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws

Quote of the Day – Michelle Alexander

“The impact of the drug war has been astounding. In less than thirty years, the U.S. penal population exploded from around 300,000 to more than 2 million, with drug convictions accounting for the majority of the increase. The United States now has the highest rate of incarceration in the world, dwarfing the rates of nearly every developed country, even surpassing those in highly repressive regimes like Russia, China, and Iran. In Germany, 93 people are in prison for every 100,000 adults and children. In the United States, the rate is roughly eight times that, or 750 per 100,000.”

― Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

Quote of the Day

“We live in a country that is addicted to incarceration as a tool for social control. As it stands now justice systems are extremely expensive, do not rehabilitate but in fact make the people that experience them worse and have no evidence based correlatives to reducing crime. Yet with that track record they continue to thrive, prosper and are seen as an appropriate response to children in trouble with the law. Only an addict would see that as an okay result.”

– James Bell,  African-American Lawyer
Prison Reform & Youth Justice Activist

Quote of the Day – Author Unknown

“It might be more worthwhile if we stopped wringing our hands and started ringing our congressmen.” ~Author Unknown

Quote of the Day – St. Augustine

“In the absence of justice, what is sovereignty but organized robbery?” ~St. Augustine

Quote of the Day – George Bernard Shaw

“It is said that every people has the Government it deserves. It is more to the point that every Government has the electorate it deserves; for the orators of the front bench can edify or debauch an ignorant electorate at will. Thus our democracy moves in a vicious circle of reciprocal worthiness and unworthiness.” – George Bernard Shaw

Richest 1% income has risen by 256%

Quote of the Day: Teddy Roosevelt

“Rhetoric is a poor substitute for action, and we have trusted only to rhetoric. If we are really to be a great nation, we must not merely talk; we must act big.” – Teddy Roosevelt

Quote of the Day – F. Scott Fitzgerald

“They were careless people, Tom and Daisy — they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, 1925