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Showing posts from March 7, 2021

The appeal of Mohamedou Ould Slahi

He expresses a cross-cultural understanding unlike even Moazzam Begg, well-known to this community as the Briton made captive in 2002 while satisfying an Islamic pillar of charity by establishing a school in Pakistan, author of The Enemy Combatant and outreach director of CAGE. His book was available to me in the wake of Carmen Trotta's visit to Kairos Chicago where he invited us to take up solidarity with Guantánamo prisoners. A few years later, from the cover of that book, the image of a bird on barbed wire was, in punk fashion, discussed as a collective tattoo.  Then came the release of Mohamedou Ould Slahi's The Guantánamo Diaries, which I remember with the humbled publisher's presentation before or after Aliya Hussein from the Center for Constitutional Rights. He took us into the moment of his impact handling the manuscript. In an image shown in the film trailer for " The Mauritanian" a handwritten loose-leaf page filled with gentle curving letters--Arabic o

The True Story of Alan

In Norfolk prison, Alan was a young man long-accustomed to his serotonin inhibitors, who on the anniversary of his mother and father's death, was denied the drugs. He had complained of the side-effects and in recourse, was denied proper medical care. Alan became suicidal, planing to assault a guard in front of other guards thinking they would kill him.  He was taken to 10 block, which friend Caroline Bays came to learn was "a nightmarish, horrible horrible hell hole."  This morning I met Caroline over zoom, not having any idea we shared in common an interest. For this meeting, convened to charter the historic launch of Massachusetts Progressive Alliance, envisioned to unify and strategize with respect to 97 member organizations across the state, s he had drafted the goals, structure and operations. Six months later h e was given an internal trial. Caroline had arranged for an advocate who came from Harvard Law School.  "It was a complete sham: the correctional office

In the Mold of John the Baptist: Dorothy Day and the NY Catholic Worker

  "Whatever the substance--lead or papier-mâché--there was nothing to it. The figure was empty." Here Joan Chittister is describing a John the Baptist statue in her grasp, this "gaunt wisp of a figure, arms thrown wide, head up and shouting to the sky.... Granite-like, it is the very model of an imposing personality, a presence to be reckoned with" (50). Thus pre-figuring her subject, Joan Chittister in  The Time is Now  moves on to set Dorothy Day saying, "We are called to be faithful not effective." Dorothy witnessed, in the last years of her life, the city of Manhattan target "single room occupancy" hotels (SROs) for rehab and resale as luxury condominiums. According to Michael C.D. Macdonald, "Fifty thousand SRO units in 1975 shrank to 19,000 units by 1980, at which point the phrase 'street people' entered the media lexicon. The Bowery Men's Shelter and Catholic Worker outposts were overwhelmed. During the six days after Chri

How to be an ambassador for justice on behalf of American Descendants of Slavery

 This Lent, in one of the most essential guides to come from the Black Church,  Cheri Mills's  Lent of Liberation asks pointed questions.  As I share from a few of my entries out of this week, know that I am also mindful, thanks to Andy Worthington, that March 11th marks the 7000th day of Guantanamo open. Because Black History Month passed with little comment of its importance for readers of this blog, this is an effort at correction. How can you be an ambassador for justice - through either restorative justice or redistributed justice - on behalf of American Descendants of Slavery? 1) I reached out Tuesday, really just to express appreciation of Keidrick Roy ’s volunteering for the Somerville community, keynote address of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration hosted here (minut e 27:00-40:00). 2) Also wrote to contact Dr. Cornell West in gratitude for his work and witness. My belief is that practicing relationship even on a fanmail level is kindness for justice. 3) I learne

Human Rights As Depicted by Luc Ferry's "A Brief History of Thought"

  Humans will discover the day when war is no more, not because of obeying a command, not because of some innately endowed enthusiasm for the long slog to justice, but out of sheer interest as a species so many will take seriously their possibility for collaboration--for survival. As Luc Ferry will show in A Brief History of Thought  (Harper 2011) the key contribution of Christianity is its depiction of the person in which love binds one to concern for the common good of others.  Reviewing the book for Denver Journal, Jonah Haddad writes, "[A] ccording to Ferry, our “salvation” lies in the evolution of the human person and their ever-increasing knowledge of themselves and their world." The possibility of a world no longer fighting forever wars does depend on our mutual aid networks and the multiplier effect of persuading one another that our individual freedom stops when it impacts the freedom of others.  In the chapter "The Victory of Christianity over Greek Philosophy&

A Moral Budget--Notes from an amateur organizer

We, the people, stand united for ... a budget we can live in. No more wallpapering over our moral values No more white-washing the walls rotten with a mold of neo-liberalism Reconcile us in houses, your tired, your hungry, your essential workers. Let us step up off the hospital matts of COVID wards Let us out the cell doors of mass incarceration and minimum wage Come join, Personage, Personage,  Build consensus for the Moral Budget to Revive, Repair, and Rebuild America.  Show up at JFK plaza, April 15,  For information about the Moral Budget see full text of below, or visit Mass Peace Action   here -*-*-*-*-*-*-*- To whom do you belong? We could take this whole Lent to ask this question deeper. Unpacking the layers of our overlapping identities, going from our sociological and political personal to our anthropological human, the way we relate to one another and collaborate--this too involves the practical dimension, our moral documents, such as our taxes. We can talk of reparations, w

A Review of Sarah Mirk's "Guantanamo Voices"

  For Intenational Women's Day, I'm indebted to the many women on the front lines seeking justice where there's been a gaping black-hole. To mark the occasion meet a few of them through my review of Guantánamo Voices: True Accounts from the World's Most Infamous Prison. Edited by Sarah Mirk . New York: Abrams ComicArts, 2020.  The red panel captures a force-feeding. In the lower right hand corner of Tracy Chahwan's contribution to nonfiction comic Guantanamo Voices: True Accounts from the World's Most Infamous Prison, the red background keys our shock for the image and its caption: Emad Hassan "stayed on a hunger strike for seven years."  "Bold colors are my style," Chawan explained, "but the color pallet helped my piece have consistency with the other contributors' . Emad Game of Thrones, in the middle of the next page,   enjoying the recommendation for his release. (Art from pages 136-37 by Tracy Chahwan, used with permission) &quo

The Rebel and the Quijote: My top pics for Oscar's Night

So often, to other, to estrange agents of change, consumer culture will seek props for stiff ideology. Joseph Heath and Andrew Potter's  The Rebel Sell: Why the Culture Can't Be Jammed,  discuss the phenomenon from a social history and critical neo-Marxian view--a book often paired with Naomi Klein's  No Logo.  Only this month I see what they meant reading a countercultural impresario with a raunchy sense of humor, Paul Krassner. That he outlived the tragic end of Yippie-star, Abbie Hoffman in 1989, continuing in the vein of satire into the early 2000s--in part, was a post-viewing gift of the Netflixs film, "The Chicago Seven."    The figure of the rebel presented in Albert Goldman in  Ladies and Gentleman, Lenny Bruce!!  there was Paul Krasser, now only a bit part as a tag-along for the stand-up comedian, Bruce, now legend for his breaking the profanity-barriers across the country.  The sonic-boom this would create--and the stickers on CDs my generation could cho

Lutfi bin Ali, Presente! Rally at Boston Common

 Lutfi bin Ali, Presente! For the second time in two weeks, we mourn the death of a Former Guantánamo Prisoner.   (Selfi taken this afternoon outside Offices of the Globe, 75 State Street, Boston) He died in need of heart surgery wrote Moazzam Begg, co-founder of the UK non-profit CAGE . The Facebook post: ...bin Ali, Tunisian ex-Guantanamo prisoner, died last night. He had spent `13 years imprisoned by the US without charge or trial. Lutfi was initially resettled to Kazakhstan where conditions had been very difficult and one of the Guantanamo prisoners died as a result of neglect and lack of medical treatment. Lutfi had come to Guantanamo a very fit and healthy man but, by the time he left he was suffering a whole host of serious medical problems.   Subsequently, due to ill health, Lutfi was allowed to move to Mauritania from where he hoped to return home. However, he was in desperate need of getting heart surgery--which was very costly. French Muslim charity, Barak City, had agreed t