16 Years On: Shouldn’t there be an anniversary of some note there? I mean, how many cultures have turned dog collars (and the dogs that go with them), thumbs-up signs over dead bodies, and a mockery of the crucified Christ into screensavers?


Best of TomDispatch: Engelhardt, The 16th Anniversary of American Cowardice

[Note for TomDispatch Readers: I’ve posted many “best of TomDispatch” pieces over the years, but never one of mine. I’m on the road right now, but TD’s schedule will return to normal this coming Sunday. In the meantime, partially because I’ve had the grim anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, one of the great disasters of recent American history, on my mind, I thought I’d repost this 2013 piece on all the anniversaries we don’t acknowledge that are connected to the (former) Global War on Terror and the various unending wars, conflicts, raids, and dust-ups of every sort that emerged from it. As it happens, the 14th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, launched on March 19, 2003, passed earlier this week in the usual tomb of silence, even as the latest version of the American war in Iraq continued to rev up. These days, it’s easy to forget the “shock-and-awe” moment that began it all, a display of air power meant to overwhelm Saddam Hussein’s government and military that included 50 “decapitation” strikes aimed at taking out top Iraqi leaders. In fact, not a single leader was touched. According to Human Rights Watch, however, those strikes did kill “dozens of civilians.” And so it began. And so it continues. (The over-title for my original piece was “The 12th Anniversary of American Cowardice,” but I’ve updated it.)

One other thing: I’m afraid that my own crazed life seldom leaves me time to thank every TomDispatch reader who goes to our donation page and contributes to keep this site going. I always fear that will be taken as a lack of appreciation. But believe me, I do note with gratitude every single contribution that comes in. I can’t tell you what it means to me, even if I don’t respond individually. You’ve been the ones who have really kept this website going all these years. A million thanks! Tom]

American Anniversaries from Hell 
What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You
By Tom Engelhardt

It’s true that, last week, few in Congress cared to discuss, no less memorialize, the 10th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. Nonetheless, two anniversaries of American disasters and crimes abroad — the “mission accomplished” debacle of 2003 and the 45th anniversary of the My Lai massacre — were at least noted in passing in our world. In my hometown paper, the New York Times, the Iraq anniversary was memorialized with a lead op-ed by a former advisor to General David Petraeus who, amid the rubble, went in search of all-American “silver linings.”

Still, in our post-9/11 world, there are so many other anniversaries from hell whose silver linings don’t get noticed. Take this April. It will be the ninth anniversary of the widespread release of the now infamous photos of torture, abuse, and humiliation from Abu Ghraib. In case you’ve forgotten, that was Saddam Hussein’s old prison where the U.S. military taught the fallen Iraqi dictator a trick or two about the destruction of human beings.  Shouldn’t there be an anniversary of some note there? I mean, how many cultures have turned dog collars (and the dogs that go with them), thumbs-up signs over dead bodies, and a mockery of the crucified Christ into screensavers?

Or to pick another not-to-be-missed anniversary that, strangely enough, goes uncelebrated here, consider the passage of the USA Patriot Act, that ten-letter acronym for “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism”? This October 26th will be the 11th anniversary of the hurried congressional vote on that 363-page (essentially unread) document filled with right-wing hobbyhorses and a range of provisions meant to curtail American liberties in the name of keeping us safe from terror.  “Small government” Republicans and “big government” Democrats rushed to support it back then. It passed in the Senate in record time by 98-1, with only Russ Feingold in opposition, and in the House by 357-66 — and so began the process of taking the oppressive powers of the American state into a new dimension. It would signal the launch of a world of ever-expanding American surveillance and secrecy (and it would be renewed by the Obama administration at its leisure in 2011).

Or what about celebrating the 12th anniversary of Congress’s Authorization for Use of Military Force, the joint resolution that a panicked and cowed body passed on September 14, 2001?  It wasn’t a declaration of war — there was no one to declare war on — but an open-ended grant to the president of the unfettered power to use “all necessary and appropriate force” in what would become a never-ending (and still expanding) “Global War on Terror.”

Or how about the 11th anniversary on January 11th — like so many such moments, it passed unnoted — of the establishment of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, that jewel in the crown of George W. Bush’s offshore Bermuda Triangle of injustice, with its indefinite detention of the innocent and the guilty without charges, its hunger strikes, and abuses, and above all its remarkable ability to embed itself in our world and never go away?  Given that, on much of the rest of the planet, Guantanamo is now an icon of the post-9/11 American way of life, on a par with Mickey Mouse and the Golden Arches, shouldn’t its anniversary be noted?

Click here to read more of this dispatch.

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SANCTUARY CITIES ARE AS OLD AS THE BIBLE


SANCTUARY CITIES ARE AS OLD AS THE BIBLE
BY ANN DESLANDES
Many major American urban centers have declared themselves sanctuary cities and are refusing to comply with federal immigration orders.

The status is not new, however. Not only is there precedent in recent American history, sanctuary has a philosophical, biblical, and ancient lineage as well.

Read more

DRIVE-INS WERE MORE THAN MOVIE THEATERS
BY ERIN BLAKEMORE
Drive-in theaters were among the first public sites to integrate in the American South.

BOARD GAMES: NINETEENTH-CENTURY STYLE
BY LIVIA GERSHON
In one popular game, players made their way up the corporate ladder. In another, toward the afterlife.

WHY THERE ARE TWO KOREAS
BY MATTHEW WILLS
A quick history of the divided peninsula.

PAPERS, PLEASE
BY ERIC SCHEWE
Your passport is the product of geopolitics, surveillance, nationalism, and a host of other forces.

THOMAS DE QUINCEY’S MAIL-COACH
BY ROBIN JARVIS
From the Public Domain Review: De Quincey’s meditation on technology and society is just as relevant today as when it was first published in 1849.

 


WHAT WE’RE READING AROUND THE WEB
THE EDITORS
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Let’s give each story the dignity it deserves.


  WATCH  
My Story, My Dignity
Dear Kevin,

Too often we speak on behalf of those who have been trafficked. Instead of us doing the talking, we’ve asked survivors to tell us what is important to them.

As you’ll see, how their stories are presented is important. Let’s start respecting their experiences and stories by talking about them in the way they wish. Let’s give each story the dignity it deserves.

Watch Rebekah Charleston telling us how common media representations of trafficking stopped her from seeing her situation for what it really was, and prevented her from getting help when she really needed it.

The media relies upon strong stories and eye-catching images when writing about modern slavery. Raising awareness is essential, but so often, as survivors of modern slavery tell us, the images and language used to tell these stories do not reflect them accurately or in a dignified way.

Too often the use of victim imagery in the media inflicts “secondary victimization” upon survivors enhancing their feelings of violation, shame, disorientation, and loss of control.

Join Rebekah, Sophie and Rebecca calling on the four largest English-language media publications in the world – Associated Press, The New York Times, The Daily Mail and The Guardian  to commit to adopting guidance to represent survivors’ stories with dignity.

In solidarity,

Zoe, Joanna, Nora and the Freedom United Team

P.S. You can chip in to support our work by becoming a Freedom Founder!

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‘Outraged by this order’ — Here’s the speech Google cofounder Sergey Brin just gave attacking Trump’s immigration ban


Source: ‘Outraged by this order’ — Here’s the speech Google cofounder Sergey Brin just gave attacking Trump’s immigration ban

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God’s end goal is an abundant world characterized by the generosity of all who live in it.


Afterward Moses and Aaron went and said to Pharaoh, “Thus says Yahweh the God of Israel, ‘Let my people go, that they may hold a feast to me in the wilderness.’” But Pharaoh said, “Who is Yahweh that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I do not know Yahweh, and moreover, I will not let Israel go.”

Exodus 5:1-2

The Israelites’ exodus from Egypt began with the order for a feast. When Yahweh liberated the Israelites from slavery, he brought them to a wilderness mountain where they entered into a covenant relationship with him that was consummated by a feast. As Yahweh gave humans food at the beginning (Gen. 2:16) and fed the Israelites after liberation, so his end goal is an abundant world characterized by the generosity of all who live in it. 

Rebekah Devine is Executive Assistant to Shane Claiborne at Red Letter Christians. She holds an M.A. in Biblical Exegesis, an M.Litt in Theology and the Arts, and a B.S. in Biblical Studies. Rebekah blogs sporadically at rebekahdevine.com, and is writing a memoir about growing up messianic Jewish(ish) called A Wandering God Was My Father. Find her on Facebook and Twitter (@rebekahmdevine).

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Doubling Down on Dystopia or Preventing the Triumph of Trump’s Will


Tomgram: John Feffer, Next Stop: The Deconstruction Zone

[Note for TomDispatch Readers: Consider today’s striking post by John Feffer a reminder that you really should pick up his remarkable new dystopian novel, Splinterlands, which is also the latest Dispatch Book. As Barbara Ehrenreich has pointed out, Feffer’s tale from the year 2050 “paints a startling portrait of a post-apocalyptic tomorrow that is fast becoming a reality today.” (And keep in mind that she wrote that before Donald Trump became president!) When you buy the book, you’ll not only get a great, if chilling, read, but also give a bit of much-appreciated extra support to this website. Or, if you’re in a generous mood, for a $100 donation ($125 if you live outside the USA), you can get a signed, personalized copy of Splinterlands from the author. Check out our donation page for the details. Tom]

“More than 25 years ago, as I sat on the roof of our house watching the neighborhood’s furniture float down the street, I thought things couldn’t get any worse. Everything I owned was under water.  The capital of my country was ruined.  Mother Earth was exacting its revenge upon its most arrogant inhabitants. As it turned out, things got a lot worse.”

I’m sure, like the rest of us, you haven’t forgotten that disastrous event either, that moment in 2022 when a climate-charged Hurricane Donald tore through Washington leveling the city, and our nation’s capital was subsequently moved to Kansas. While no one could have predicted such an event in all its details, there were few firsthand observers of that rampaging super-storm who had foreseen the fragmented, degraded world we now inhabit in a more clear-eyed manner than Julian West (the observer quoted above) whose 2020 bestseller Splinterlands eerily foresaw this present shattered globe of ours.

Okay, okay, here’s where I fess up: it’s true that geo-paleontologist Julian West (a namesake for the hero of Edward Bellamy’s nineteenth century utopian novel, Looking Backward) is just a fantasy stand-in for John Feffer, the author of the actual dystopian novel Splinterlands. And if that isn’t complicated enough for you, keep in mind that Feffer named that hurricane after Donald Trump while he was still writing his book back in 2016 just as the election campaign was gearing up, so he certainly does have a Julian West-style sense of what’s to come.  Now, of course, Hurricane Donald has hit Washington in a tweet-charged storm of chaos and dystopian energy.  And so today, Feffer turns his attention to what to make of that human hurricane at a moment when Americans are signaling their dystopian fears by driving novels like 1984 to the tops of bestseller lists — and not just in bastions of anti-Trumpist feeling either.  So strap your jet pack to your back and take off with Feffer into a present that feels all too much like some dystopian future to all too many of us. Tom

Doubling Down on Dystopia
Preventing the Triumph of Trump’s Will
By John Feffer

Dystopias have recently achieved full-spectrum dominance. Kids are drawn to such stories — The Giver, Hunger Games — like Goths to piercings. TV shows about zombie apocalypses, pandemics, and technology run amok inspire binge watching. We’ve seen the world-gone-truly-bad a thousand times over on the big screen.

This apocalyptic outpouring has been so intense that talk of “peak dystopia” started to circulate several years ago. Yet the stock of the doomsday cartel has shown no signs of falling, even as production continues at full blast. (A confession: with my recent novel Splinterlands I’ve contributed my own bit to flooding the dystopia market.) As novelist Junot Diaz argued last October, dystopia has become “the default narrative of the generation.”

Shortly after Diaz made that comment, dystopia became the default narrative for American politics as well when Donald Trump stepped off the set of The Celebrity Apprentice and into the Oval Office. With the election of an uber-narcissist incapable of distinguishing between fact and fantasy, all the dystopian nightmares that had gathered like storm clouds on the horizon — nuclear war, climate change, a clash of civilizations — suddenly moved overhead. Cue the rumble of thunder and the flash of lightning.

Click here to read more of this dispatch.

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Lent is a reminder of justice. But this work of justice, is difficult—filled with grief and loss, lament and sorrow


Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! People of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you.

Isaiah 30:18-19

Lent is a reminder of justice. But this work of justice, is difficult—filled with grief and loss, lament and sorrow. It is easier to give up and forget that compassionate justice is evidence of our faith. Instead of forgetting, let us choose to give up the things that speak death: amnesia, apathy, complacency, ignorance, single-mindedness, hatred, and injustice. In dying to these things we are able to embrace so much more. For the experience of loss, the practice of grief, the discipline of lament, causes us to be grateful—grateful that this season of grief is deepening our heart’s capacity for joy. Perhaps, there is purpose in this pain that will not yet be revealed until later.

Nikole Lim is the Co-Founder and International Director of Freely in Hope, a nonprofit organization seeking to restore dignity with survivors of sexual violence by providing educational opportunities and platforms for women to fulfill their dreams. Freely in Hope operates in Kenya and Zambia providing psychological counseling, health care and high school and university scholarships for young women who desire to impact global communities through their rewritten stories. Freely in Hope exists to equip survivors and advocates to lead in ending the cycle of sexual violence.

 

Friends, please read this urgent message from our friends and partners at Faith in Public Life
Right now, Congress is rushing to pass sweeping legislation that fits every definition of an unjust law — the American Health Care Act.
The consequences of gutting key provisions of health care are staggering. Millions of racial/ethnic minorities, poor whites, rural families, senior citizens, children, and women who now have affordable health insurance will lose it due to Medicaid cuts. Premiums and out-of-pocket expenses will spiral out of control for millions of working Americans. Medicare for our seniors will be one step closer to ending as we know it.
Join us Tuesday night at 8 p.m. EST for a strategy call with Rev. Jennifer Butler and Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, president and senior lecturer of Repairers of the Breach and leader of the Moral Mondays movement, to outline steps we can take right away to protect our neighbors and our nation from suffering and privation. We need to mobilize now, and this call is the first step.
This healthcare bill is not a Republican versus Democrat issue. The attack on poor and vulnerable children, families and seniors is an issue of morals — right versus wrong. We cannot stand idly by as extremists in Congress and the administration further enrich the wealthiest few at the expense of the sick, the poor and working people.  
Together we can awaken our nation’s moral conscience. Sign up for the call here.
This one-hour call is sponsored by a broad range of faith groups, including Faith in Public Life, Repairers of the Breach, Red Letter Christians, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, Skinner Leadership Institute, National Council of Churches of Christ, T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights.
In Faith,
Rev. Jennifer Butler
CEO, Faith in Public Life
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Trump and Ethics?


Your Questions on Trump and Ethics, Answered | New York Times Live Chat

Ethics experts, including POGO Executive Director Danielle Brian, demystify conflicts of interest, Russia, emoluments and other issues in this live chat hosted by The New York Times.

Read the live chat  

New York Times live chat

Trump’s Trademarks Pose Ethics Challenge for the Executive Branch

Trademark Board judges cannot be unaware that President Trump is the owner of trademarks that may be in dispute before them — and unlike in judicial branch courts, Board judges ultimately work for Trump. Can they neutrally preside over a case involving him?

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Trump branded 'Make America Great Again' products

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Control Lobbying, esp. Foreign Lobbying


Justice Dept. Improves Access to Foreign Lobbying Documents

In a win for government transparency, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has made a key set of foreign lobbying documents, known as informational materials, available online for the first time.

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Foreign currency

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Another Way the States could teach the Federal government


Contract Transparency: What Uncle Sam Can Learn from the States

Taxpayers have the right to know how their tax dollars are being spent. In FY 2016, the federal government spent more than $471 billion of taxpayer money through contracts — do we really know what we are getting for all that money?

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U.S. Navy sailors and civilian contractors

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