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Thankful on Thanksgiving

27 Nov

Thanksgiving afternoon, but I can’t stop thinking about the ‪#‎IndictBoston‬ action on Tuesday night. I’m thankful I was able to attend, and I’m thankful white people present seemed mindful of participating in the action without trying to direct it, make speeches, etc. I’m thankful to have been there when Daunasia Yancey yelled “white allies to the front” and that I was able to respond. I’m thankful that my eyeglasses got broken and not my skull. I’m thankful for the painkillers that are easing the back ache I walked away with. I’m thankful to have seen dozens of familiar faces at that march, most of them friends from Occupy Boston. I’m thankful for the honor of participating in that action, and I’m thankful that today I’ll be eating food with loved ones. But I’m thankful, also, that I won’t forget Michael Brown, and Tamir Rice, and millions more souls killed or incarcerated by state-sanctioned violence who won’t be eating a Thanksgiving meal today. I’m thankful, also, to be mindful today of this holiday in the context of white imperialism and native genocide. Am I happy? Am I sad? I don’t know, but I’m thankful.

Video: Black Lives Matter at South Bay House of Correction in Boston

26 Nov

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Last night, I went to an action called #IndictBoston organized by Daunasia Yancey and the Boston chapter of Black Lives Matter. We where there not just to protest the decision not to indite Darren Wilson for the killing of Mike Brown in Ferguson, but to also challenge state-sanctioned violence in all its forms against people of color. We shut down several highway ramps in Boston and made a sustained and gutsy effort to physically break the police line on the ramp to I-93. That place is also the site of the South Bay House of Correction where protestors chanted to the prisoners, “We see you…black lives matter!” The prisoners seemed glad to be seen.

Watch the video.

Zimmerman verdict sends harsh message to youth, Harvard sends harsh message to its workers

22 Jul

 

Rebecca Jackson  of Trinity Boston Foundation

Rebecca Jackson of Trinity Boston Foundation

On “Banned in Boston” last week we welcomed Rebecca Jackson to talk about the Zimmerman verdict’s frightening implications for young men of color. In the second half of the program, Geoff Carens and Le Le Lechat joined us to discuss the ongoing struggle against shady labor practices at Harvard University.

Rebecca Jackson on the Zimmerman verdict

Rebecca Jackson is a social worker with Trinity Boston Foundation  and is involved with B-SAFE, a program in Boston designed to keep young people learning, growing, and out of harm’s way during the summer months. The program helps kids of different ages, but Rebecca’s role within it brings her in particular contact with young men of color who have been trouble with the law and, because of that, might be regarded with less sympathy from the general public than Travyon Martin has received. Speaking on this point, she said:

I felt like how can I go to work on Monday…and try to work with these young men, and tell them that their lives are valuable, and that they have meaning, and that they mean something not just to me but, sort of, to the greater society when a man has been let free for killing one of them? And my boys are in some ways much more actually threatening than Trayvon Martin was…He did not have any of those risk factors. So how much more painful is it? How much more of a clear message is it, that’s being sent, that they really don’t matter?

Geoff Carens and Le Le Lechat on unfair labor practices at Harvard

In the second half of the show, we talked to union organizers Geoff Carens and Genevieve alias Le Le Lechat as they described unfair firing and other shady labor practices taking place at Harvard University. There’s a shocking contrast between Harvard’s altruistic facade and the grim reality of how workers there are sometimes treated. The day after the interview, Geoff and Genevieve braved a heatwave to protest on behalf of mailroom coordinator Nassim Kerkache and other Harvard employees. For more details, see the articles posted by “The Harvard Crimson” and the Boston IWW.

Rebecca, Geoff and Genevieve were great guests with important things to say. The entire July 18, 2013 episode is available for streaming or downloading. Click here.

“Banned in Boston,” a weekly radio show that delivers radicalism with a local accent, is broadcast live every Thursday night, 8 pm on UNregular Radio and as repeats on Metacomet Radio. John Stephen Dwyer, author of this blog, is one of the hosts.

Barack Obama could have been Abdulrahman al-Awlaki

20 Jul
This image comparing the response Trayvon Martin's death with response to Abdulrahman al-Awlaki's death has gotten a lot of circulation through social media.

This image comparing the response to Trayvon Martin’s death with the response to Abdulrahman al-Awlaki’s death has gotten a lot of circulation through social media.

In a moving speech this week, Obama said “Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago.”  If he extended this empathy to teenagers like Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, a 16-year old US citizen killed by a drone strike, this world would be a better place. 

Obama making statements that are ironic in context is an established theme of his second term. Last December, speaking about the massacre at Sandy Hook, Barack Obama wiped a tear as photographers snapped away and peace activists asked “what about the hundreds of innocent children massacred by your foreign policy?”

In Northern Ireland for the G8 summit last month, Obama told a group of children “to those who choose the path of peace, I promise you the United States of America will support you every step of the way.”  In Dublin soon after, parliament member Clare Daly asked “Is this person going for the hypocrite of the century award?” and pointed out “that by any serious examination, this man is a war criminal.”

Now it’s this matter of Trayvon Martin. Friday, Obama made an unscheduled appearance at a White House briefing.  He seemed to enjoy having surprised reporters, then launched into somber reflections on last weekend’s verdict which declared George Zimmerman not guilty of murder, or even of manslaughter, in the death of 17-year old Trayvon.  As usual, the president’s speech hit all the right notes.

Obama started with a few words about Trayvon’s family and remarked on “the incredible grace and dignity with which they’ve dealt with the entire situation. I can only imagine what they’re going through…it’s remarkable how they’ve handled it.”  That’s certainly true, and it’s good to hear it said. The way Trayvon’s family has handled this is inspiring.

Then Obama talked about the “professional manner” in which the trial was conducted.  He said “reasonable doubt was relevant, and they rendered a verdict. And once the jury’s spoken, that’s how our system works.”  Okay, it’s the president’s job to tell us the system works.  We should forgive him for that if he wasn’t doing so much to actually make the system worse.  But here’s the words that made the most headlines:

You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot, I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago. And when you think about why, in the African- American community at least, there’s a lot of pain around what happened here, I think it’s important to recognize that the African-American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that doesn’t go away.

Obama then explained some stuff that a lot of white people don’t want to hear.  He said there are “very few African-American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me.”  He gave more examples and said, “I don’t want to exaggerate this, but those sets of experiences inform how the African-American community interprets what happened one night in Florida. And it’s inescapable for people to bring those experiences to bear.”

He said a lot more, and it’s poignant. You can read the transcript.  But that’s what makes Obama so dangerous. He’s an amazing speaker, even his opponents admit to that.  What he said about Sandy Hook was moving.  His speech to the children of Northern Ireland was expertly crafted.  Every time he opens his mouth, it’s awesome and inspirational if you ignore the reality of what Barack Obama’s administration actually does.  For example, murdering Abdulrahman Al-Awlaki.

Abdulrahman was a 16-year old American citizen born in Denver, Colorado.  He was killed by a US drone strike in Yemen on October 14, 2011 along with his 17-year old cousin and eight other people said to be on their way to a barbecue.  His father, an “alleged terrorist” had been killed two weeks prior.  Some people wondered why the US is dropping bombs on a country it isn’t at war with.  Robert Gibbs, former White House press secretary, defended the teenager’s murder and said he should have had “a more responsible father.”

Abdulrahman Al-Awlaki had a brown complexion, just like Obama’s hypothetical son.  And like that 16-yeat old killed by a drone, Obama was born in the United States (well, we think) but he moved to a Muslim majority country while still a minor.  One might hope that parallel would engender as much empathy for Abdulrahman as Obama seems to have for Trayvon.  Some say Obama cries crocodile tears.  No one can see inside his heart, but there are good arguments for that.

The fact is, through the policies of his administration, Barack Obama has murdered thousands of innocent people.  Hundreds of children are among that number.  A study released last year by Stanford Law School and New York University’s School of Law looked at drone strikes in Pakistan and said “from June 2004 through mid-September 2012, available data indicate that drone strikes killed 2,562 – 3,325 people in Pakistan, of whom 474 – 881 were civilians, including 176 children.”

That’s 176 human children who are dead because Barack Obama plays the role expected of him by the financial-military complex that paid for both his campaigns.  That’s just the number on the books, in one country, in one period of time, killed by drones.  It doesn’t enumerate this administration’s death toll in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia or anywhere.  It doesn’t look at the people shot in the head with bullets or even killed by bombs dropped by planes that have pilots.

George Zimmerman killed one boy and he’s one of the most hated men in the America.  So is Dzohar Tsarnaev, suspected of killing three people and injuring many more in a terrorist attack at the 2013  Boston Marathon.  But what do people hate Obama for?  Conservatives hate him for his healthcare plan, their worry about increased gun laws and, in too many cases, the color of his skin.  But every week there’s evidence that Democrats still love Barack Obama.

Let’s hope the era of liberal Obamadolotry is ending.  Some realized our president is a villain when Bradley Manning went to jail or when Edward Snowden joined him.  Some got the message as cops beat unarmed protestors affiliated with the Occupy movement and Obama said nothing.  Some saw the truth when they lost their jobs and homes to banksters awarded billions by Obama’s bailouts.  And for certain people in the military who once supported Obama, participating in the carnage of US government sponsored terrorism has changed their minds.

Barack Obama is a confidence man.  He’s just like a handsome cad who bilks an old widow out of her fortune.  He knows the words and gestures to make people feel good, and hopeful, and alive again.  But well-chosen words doesn’t erase a death toll.  Sympathy for Trayvon Martin doesn’t bring  Abdulrahman al-Awlaki or anyone else back to life.  Here’s a video from Abdulrahman’s grandfather: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQlbnulmnEw

Can a card-carrying socialist get elected to Boston City Council?

18 Jul
Terra Friedrichs and Seamus Whelan in the studio on July 11, 2013.

Terra Friedrichs and Seamus Whelan in the studio on July 11, 2013.

Seamus Whelan, our first guest on “Banned in Boston” last week, is running for a seat on Boston City Council.  He’s also a member of Socialist Alternative who often mentions the Occupy movement and its ideals.  Seamus, a native of Ireland, had some good things to say and his accent was a nice change from what we usually hear in the studio.

Terra Friedrichs, our second guest, was every bit as interesting.  She wants to amend the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts so that it clearly states corporations are not people and money should not equal political power.  What’s better, she’s identified a specific process that can force such a proposal to come before legislature.  It’s an exciting idea.

To listen, click here.

“Banned in Boston,” a weekly radio show that delivers radicalism with a local accent, is broadcast live every Thursday night, 8 pm on UNregular Radio and as repeats on Metacomet Radio.  John Stephen Dwyer, author of this blog, is one of the hosts.

Evan Greer plays live on “Banned in Boston”

27 Jun

Evan Greer joined us in the studio on June 20, 2013 for an episode of “Banned in Boston” Imageand a good time was had by all. We had some interesting conversation about things that matter, and got a few questions answered, but mostly we just sat back and enjoyed a private mini-concert just for us and our listeners. If you want to hear the goodness, please click here.

 

 

“Banned in Boston,” a weekly radio show that delivers radicalism with a local accent, is broadcast live every Thursday night, 8 pm on UNregular Radio and as repeats on Metacomet Radio. John Stephen Dwyer, author of this blog, is one of the hosts.

Jill Stein on running to lose, being too political, and whether justice is possible under capitalism

14 Jun

Marisa Egerstrom, Jill Stein and Rene Perez in the space shared by UNregular Radio and DigBoston

Our guest on “Banned in Boston” last night was Jill Stein, Green Party presidential candidate in 2012. We discussed the protests in Turkey this month centered in Gezi Park and what Stein calls “a general outbreak of justice and democracy.” Then, addressing the question “how do we turn public will into political will?” Stein described being excluded from a recent rally against tar sands in which she was deemed “too political” too speak. After that, we turned to a statement by Slavoj Žižek, perhaps the most high-profile philosopher of our time, in which he alleges far-left candidates run to lose. Before wrapping up, we wrestled out an answer for the big question, “are peace and justice are possible under a capitalist system?”

Along the way we touched upon austerity, the Black Agenda Report, breaking up the banks, eviction blockades, the Economic Bill of Rights, fair trade, the Forward on Climate rally, Greece and Latin America, fracking, the Green Shadow Cabinet, the Green New Deal, Left Forum, lesser evils, Noam Chomsky, Occupy Wall Street, parliamentarianism, police brutality and intimidation, predator politics, presidential elections, suppression of free speech, tar sands blockades against TransCanada, tree hugging, wars for oil, unions and the labor movement, Barack Obama, local Socialist candidate Seamus Whelan (misidentified as “Sean Whelan”), Chuck Turner of the Green-Rainbow Party of Massachusetts, Elizabeth May of the Green Party of Canada, the perceived lack of ethnic diversity in the Green Party, and even FDR’s New Deal.

This episode was co-hosted by Marisa Egerstrom of the Protest Chaplains, Rene Perez who is known to some as the “man in the Yellow Hat,” and me, John Stephen Dwyer. Thanks to Noah Evans, Chris Faraone, Liam Leahey, and Jeff Nunes for submitting questions , Evan Greer (our guest on next week’s show) for the music, and to Occupy Boston for their support . To stream or download the mp3 file for this episode click here.

“Banned in Boston,” a weekly radio show that delivers radicalism with a local accent, is broadcast live every Thursday night, 8 pm on UNregular Radio and as repeats on Metacomet Radio. John Stephen Dwyer, author of this blog, is one of the hosts.