Sunday Reads in Darkness and Truth: All for Nothing…All for Everything

Good Morning

Yesterday I spent some time watching movies with my son, first we saw Sergeant York, with Gary Cooper, and after that we saw Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven with Orlando Bloom and Eva Green. It felt good to sit a few hours watching these films, and while we were watching, my son would ask me about things…like historical accuracy…or sometimes he would comment on the actors, and the way the scenes were shot.

The reason I bring all this up is because there is a line in that movie Kingdom of Heaven, when the character of Balian surrenders the city of Jerusalem to Saladin…

What is Jerusalem worth?  Nothing….Everything

I thought that line was fabulous, and while looking for articles to feature in this morning’s post, it seemed like an interesting shadow of a theme.

Not all of today’s articles will relay a message of nothing and everything, but some will.

Former Dictator Hosni Mubarak was sentenced yesterday to life in prison, or as the Judge described… “30 years of darkness.”  After the sentencing, Egyptians protested in the streets. There is an op/ed In the Independent by Robert Fisk that you should take a look at. Robert Fisk: Mubarak will die in jail, but that’s no thanks to us

Twenty-five years is death, isn’t it, if you’re 84 years old? Hosni Mubarak will die in jail. And Habib al-Adli, his interior minister, 74 years old, maybe he will be killed in jail if he doesn’t live out his life sentence. These were the thoughts of two old Egyptian friends of mine yesterday. And Mubarak was sentenced for the dead of the 2011 revolution. That’s 850 dead – 34 people for each year of his term. Quite a thought.

Of course, we were not asking about the death sentences at the military courts in the 1980s and 1990s – and we can’t, can we, when the military is still in power in Egypt. Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, the field marshal who runs the country, never suggested these courts – and their death sentences – were wrong. Mubarak was fighting “terror”, wasn’t he? On our behalf, I believe. For he was a “moderate”, a friend of the West, and maybe that’s why Mubarak’s sons, Gamal and Alaa, got off. Will they leave the country? Will they quit Egypt? No doubt.

So that’s the story. Let’s not mention Bashar al-Assad here. The Egyptian court was meant to be a lesson for him. Kofi Annan was down in Qatar, talking about the Syrian government’s sins yesterday. But, then, there are some problems, aren’t there? Didn’t Mubarak receive a few “renditioned” prisoners from George W Bush; tortured them, too, at Washington’s behest? And didn’t Damascus also torture a few “renditioned” prisoners – the name Arar comes to mind, a Canadian citizen, sent off from JFK for a touch of torture in the Syrian capital? Yes, our “moderate” Arabs were always ready to help us, weren’t they?

Read the rest at the link…and think about the nothing, everything quote.

Meanwhile, in Greece there have been some arrests involving recently elected MPs from the Greek neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn, who were arrested over a racist attack.

Nikolaos Michaloliakos

Greece’s neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party, led by Nikos Michaloliakos, won 21 seats in last month’s election. Photograph: Petros Giannakouris/AP

Two newly elected MPs from the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party were among six people arrested over an attack on a Pakistani man in Athens, in the latest in a series of incidents that have raised fears that Greece‘s immigrants are being targeted in the runup to this month’s crucial elections.

Ilias Panagiotaros and Ioannis Vouldis were briefly held alongside the daughter of Nikos Michaloliakos, Golden Dawn’s leader, but were later released. According to police, the attack took place late on Friday when a group involved in a protest turned on a 31-year-old Pakistani bypasser.

Golden Dawn confirmed two of its MPs had been held, but denied they took part in the attack. “[They] could not have been involved because they were miles away,”it said in a statement.

Golden Dawn caused consternation across Europe after winning 7% of the vote in Greece’s elections in May, giving them 21 seats. It is the first time the far right has sat in parliament since the fall of the military junta in 1974. With their neo-Nazi insignia, violent rhetoric and calls to expel Greece’s immigrants, Golden Dawn’s leaders are hoping to exploit political instability in Greece to gain further ground in elections called for 17 June after no party was able to form a government following last month’s vote.

This group ran disturbing ads prior to the first election,

…with the campaign slogan, “Let’s rid this country of the stench.” On election night Michaloliakos dedicated their success to “all the brave youngsters who wear black T-shirts with Golden Dawn written in white”. Unemployment in Greece now stands at at 22%, and 52% among young people, and the party has sought to capitalise on a mood of fear across a country that is struggling to come to terms with rising crime, falling living standards and a feeling that it is on the brink of economic and political meltdown.

Greece’s 1 million immigrants have become an easy target for neo-Nazi and other far-right groups, who regularly parade through Athens chanting racist slogans.

Connie mentioned this group in the comments a couple months ago when the Greek election results came in. I had no idea they were so “out there” with their hate. I mean, look at that campaign slogan…wait a minute, that sounds like something one of the GOP Border Patrol candidates would say.

Now, I am going to bring it back to the US…and another op/ed. This time from Charles M Blow in the New York Times. Darkness in the Sunshine State

Florida ought to know better. And must do better, particularly on the issue of voting and discrimination.

But, then again, we are talking about Florida, the state of Bush v. Gore infamy and the one that will celebrate the birthday of Jefferson Davis, the only president of the Confederacy, with a statewide holiday on Sunday.

What am I getting at? This: Few states in the union have done more in recent years to restrict and suppress voting — particularly by groups who lean Democratic, such as young people, the poor and minorities — than Florida.

Voter interference is very prevalent with the GOP, and it seems that the Dems aren’t speaking up loud enough against the purge going on in the Sunshine State. You are all well aware of the anniversary this past week, when Florida’s Democrat voters were disenfranchised by their own party.

I can’t quote the whole Blow op/ed, so again I will encourage you to read the entire post at the link above.

Some of what Blow touches on in his piece is the type of voter this tactical discrimination is aimed at, poorer minorities.

So, I think this next article about Income Inequality, Racism and Imprisonment sure seems to be a good follow-up to the Blow link. It has both the US rates and foreign country rates, but I will just quote the US ones.

Rates Increased in Unequal States.

The average rate of incarceration in the U.S. is 576 people in prison for every 100,000 people. Just as there are fewer persons per 100,000 in Japan (40 per 100K) who are in prison, there are differences between U.S. States in rates of imprisonment: Louisiana has an incredibly high rate, above 700 people per 100,000. Compare that to Minnesota, below 200 per 100,000. Maybe a difference of five or six times the percentage of people locked up between Louisiana and Minnesota. The chart below shows that these differences are correlated to income inequality differences in each State:

The article describes the way researchers came up with these graphs, but it also brings other things into the discussion.

Racism and Imprisonment.

TheSentencing Project graphs (see the bottom of page 4) show how the rate of incarceration for blacks is 6.70 times the number compared to the rate of incarceration of white people. The New Jim Crow book demonstrates how people of color are being persecuted and exterminated through the misuse and abuse of the U.S. courts and prison systems. The link to the Wikipedia summary is comprehensive and informative.  Stop and Frisk laws routinely sweep communities of color, arresting and imprisoning urban youth from impoverished communities. The war on the poor and people of color in the U.S. make manifest the extreme income inequality and deprivation of the class system in the U.S.. Racism is the penultimate expression of the worst, most oppressive but essential dynamic of income inequality.  The American imprisonment of people of color on a massive, genocidal scale is a direct outcome of a class based, extremely unequal society. In the U.S. a person of color is 6.04 times more likely to be in prison than a white person. In the courts, black youth are more likely to receive a harsher sentence than their white peers.

Again, I suggest going to the link and reading the whole thing. (And are you keeping that quote up top in the back of your mind…)

This next link is very personal…connected to me and my family. As you are all aware, my husband is a survivor of the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center in New York. I completely disagree with the people below who feel that no mention should be made of the hijackers that flew the airliners into the Twin Towers. They must be made part of the museum, because truth must be told.

It seemed self-evident at the time: A museum devoted to documenting the events of Sept. 11, 2001, would have to include photographs of the hijackers who turned four passenger jets into missiles. Then two and a half years ago, plans to use the pictures were made public.

The museum has not decided whether to include a composite of several tower floors and other materials that were crushed and fused together during the collapse of the World Trade Center.

New York City’s fire chief protested that such a display would “honor” the terrorists who destroyed the World Trade Center. A New York Post editorial called the idea “appalling.” Groups representing rescuers, survivors and victims’ families asked how anyone could even think of showing the faces of the men who killed their relatives, colleagues and friends.

The anger took some museum officials by surprise.

“You don’t create a museum about the Holocaust and not say that it was the Nazis who did it,” said Joseph Daniels, chief executive of the memorial and museum foundation.

This anger surprised me too.

James Estrin/The New York Times

The museum has not decided whether to include a composite of several tower floors and other materials that were crushed and fused together during the collapse of the World Trade Center.

Such are the exquisite sensitivities that surround every detail in the creation of the National September 11 Memorial Museum, which  is being built on land that many revere as hallowed ground. During eight years of planning, every step has been muddied with contention. There have been bitter fights over the museum’s financing, which have delayed its opening until at least next year, as well as continuing arguments over its location, seven stories below ground; which relics should be exhibited; and where unidentified human remains should rest.

Even the souvenir key chains to be sold in the gift shop have become a focus of rancor.

But nothing has been more fraught than figuring out how to tell the story.

It is a very long article…like most of the links today, I hope you take the time to read it.

The “Tribute in Light” memorial is in remembrance of the events of September 11, 2001, in honor of the citizens who lost their lives in the World Trade Center attacks. The two towers of light are composed of two banks of high wattage spotlights that point straight up from a lot next to Ground Zero. The ÒTribute in LightÓ memorial was first held in March 2002. This photo was taken from Liberty State Park, New Jersey on September11, 2006, the five year anniversary of 9/11. USAF photo by Denise Gould.

My husband saw first hand the “body parts that littered lower Manhattan.”  He smelled the death and burning for months after the buildings fell. The suit he wore to work that day is covered in dust…remains of those who were killed…remains of friends he saw everyday.

This is not something that should be portrayed with kid gloves. The horror of the attack must be shown for what it was. So many people have put that day out of their minds, and I think it is wrong to sugar coat the facts and hide the truth.

Yes, I get that the Memorial should be a solemn place for remembrance. I am not talking about that…I am talking about the Museum, which is something that needs to be frank in its representation of that day. Everything must be laid out.

The quote up top comes through my mind once again….with the museum that depicts the tragedy of that September day…What is it worth? Nothing…Everything.