Who will watch the watchers?

On May Day in 2007, immigrants and their supporters around the US rallied in major cities to announce their support for immigrant rights. In Los Angeles, police said protesters threw “plastic bottles and other projectiles,” according to Democracy Now! Police decided to clear the park of protesters, and in the process used rubber bullets, tear gas, and batons (cubs).

Many nonviolent, non-resisting participants were assaulted, along with news crews from local TV stations and an observer from the National Lawyers’ Guild. Police Chief William Bratton said (in 2008) he planned to discipline 11 officers and terminate four others. The city this year agreed to pay $13 million to people injured or mistreated in the melee.

Now the district attorney’s office says it can’t prove any police officer broke the law, so no charges will be filed against any officers.

This is not a surprise, since police are rarely punished for violence against non-prominent, and especially non-white, protesters. But the failure to hold police offices to the standards they claim to enforce is a major flaw in our legal system. It leads many to the conclusion that laws are intended to control the general population. Except for that purpose, they seem not to be taken seriously by the authorities.

Posted under America, General, Immigration, Police, Power

This post was written by admin on October 31, 2009

A poem for America’s birthday

Let America be America again
by Langston Hughes

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed–
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There’s never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek–
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one’s own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean–
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today–O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That’s made America the land it has become.
O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home–
For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore,
And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa’s strand I came
To build a “homeland of the free.”

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we’ve dreamed
And all the songs we’ve sung
And all the hopes we’ve held
And all the flags we’ve hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay–
Except the dream that’s almost dead today.

O, let America be America again–
The land that never has been yet–
And yet must be–the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine–the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME–
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose–
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,
We must take back our land again,
America!

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath–
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain–
All, all the stretch of these great green states–
And make America again!

Posted under America, General

This post was written by admin on July 5, 2009

Conservatives

The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy: that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.
-John Kenneth Galbraith

Posted under General

This post was written by admin on July 3, 2009

Starting Over

We have it in our power to begin the world over again.
-Thomas Paine

Posted under General

This post was written by admin on July 3, 2009

Journalists and Newsreaders

CBS News promotes its Face the Nation Sunday interview program with tape of Bob Schieffer, the host, saying something like, “You’ve got to talk to the people who make the decisions. That’s the only way you find out what’s going on.”

This reminds me of a round-table interview with the three principal news anchors after the death of Tim Russert. ABC’s Charlie Gibson was asked if the media had any responsibility for the Bush administration’s deception in starting the war in Iraq. He said, “No, I don’t buy that. We asked the right questions.”

Neither Schieffer nor Gibson seem to understand what journalism is about. It’s not about asking questions; it’s about finding the answers. It’s yet another version of the age-old search for truth and meaning, set on a different stage.

People who reach Schieffer’s or Gibson’s age and stature may no longer have the energy or desire to work long hours or dig deeply to find what’s really going on. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s a mistake to change the job definition to fit what you’re able to do, instead of what needs to be done.

This is also part of why newspapers are dying. People need newspapers to find out and explain events. What they’ve been getting, for far too long, is just the official line: regurgitated government press releases. Investigative reporting, probably the most valued product of of journalism, is dying out at all but the largest newspapers. Newspaper owners respond to declining revenue by firing investigative reporters, thus hastening the newspaper’s decline.

Investigative journalism is incredibly expensive. It takes a long time, and may not pan out with a usable story. But the press is called “the fourth estate” because it’s expected (and much-needed) role is to tell the whole truth about what happens in and is done by the other three branches of government. In the get-rich-quick atmosphere of the last few decades, journalists too have succumbed to greed and the demands of ego.

Posted under General, Journalism, Television

This post was written by admin on April 17, 2009

Welcome!

Welcome to etoma. Thanks for coming. Plenty of empty seats down front for the standees in the back. Make yourself comfortable, pour your favorite beverage, and limber up your mind.

Posted under General

This post was written by admin on April 15, 2009