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Common Dreams Highlights | Thursday, 4 December 2014

Common Dreams | Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community

News & Views | 12.04.14


‘This Stops Today‘: Nationwide Protests Planned in Wake of Eric Garner Decision


In Absence of Public Debate, Kerry Vows to Wage War ‘As Long As It Takes’

Low-Wage Workers Retake National Stage in ‘Fight for 15’

Obama Ready to Defy Base in Order to Advance Trans-Pacific Partnership

Fears of Renewed Devastation as Super Typhoon Hagupit Targets Philippines

‘Worst’ Ecological Disaster in Israel’s History as Pipeline Spews Oil

“I Can’t Breathe”: Eric Garner’s Plea Becomes Rallying Cry for Justice

and more…



Fania Davis: This Country Needs a Truth and Reconciliation Process on Violence Against African Americans—Right Now

Tom Engelhardt: War to the Horizon

Eric Holt-Giménez: Tangled Roots and Bitter Fruit: What Ferguson and New York Can Teach the Food Movement

William Grover, Joseph Peschek: Our Imperial System: On How Not to Think About the American Presidency

Steven Thrasher: The Eric Garner Decision Confirms a Holiday of Horrors. ‘Tis the Season for More Protest, Not Less



Friends of the Earth: Cruise Ships Flushed More Than a Billion Gallons of Sewage into Oceans Again This Year

NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund Denounces Grand Jury Decision Not to Indict New York Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the Choking Death of Eric Garner

Don’t Shoot Coalition: St. Louis Activists Decry Grand Jury Decision in Eric Garner Death

and more…

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Everything You Need To Know To Keep You From Being Justifiably Shot By The Police.

In part this is satire, but it is also in a sense quite realistic. I was taught how to behave to avoid problems with police and other authorities as a child. My Mom grew up in the South in the era of Jim Crow with ‘might pass for white, or not’ skin so she was well aware of how things DO work whether they are fair, right or we like them.

My skin is light and I am physically quite small and fragile looking so combined with what I was taught I have rarely had problems with police violence-with one notable and deeply horrifying exception where my brother and I were almost killed in front of my Mom.

That very personal example of how some police officers over-react virulently to a young, healthy, muscular man with dark skin impressed me deeply with the reality of the danger.

Despite the permanent injury and scars I don’t regret at all violating the rules I was taught in order to get in the way of an incompetent officer who was trying to shoot my brother.

I’m just so grateful every time I feel the pain, or notice the scar that my brother is very alive and well.

Significantly to me at least-both officers involved in that nightmare were subsequently fired for totally unrelated issues of general incompetence.

It is my belief that structural racism is enforced and encouraged by the system of “good ole boy” corruption and”white privilege” allowing incompetent jerks to rise to positions of power.

I feel that it will change very quickly when that system of “assholes in charge” is dismantled.

Sure there are crappy cops who use their position to abuse people but I strongly believe that MOST people who choose law enforcement as a career do so primarily from good, higher motives.

They genuinely want to help others, improve the world and stop the bad guys. It doesn’t really help us to perceive or depict all police officers as evil, racist or fascist.

The majority are people just like you and I who simply have to work to survive. Most likely chose their profession because it was available to them with the background, education and skills they had.

Unfortunately for the process of change, police departments are like military groups in that solidarity and support of their fellows is necessary to do their job-even when some of their fellows are execrable scum.

So, take the ironic humour of this piece for a chuckle but note the real warning as well and make sure to impress these concepts on all the children in your life.

I was the typical rebellious, politically activist, crazy colored hair “punk rock” teenager skateboarding and cussing like a sailor-except when dealing with police officers.

Then I was polite, quiet and completely respectful and compliant. I might not have been “cool” for that, but it is better to be alive and a dork than a cool corpse.

I pray for all the children to recognize that manners might save their lives-whether that is right or fair, I just hope they know.

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Everything You Need To Know To Keep You From Being Justifiably Shot By The Police.
Oct 04, 2014 5:20pm PDT by bluntbit

The reality that African-American and other minorities must realize is that depending on the time of day, or the mood of the officer you encounter, you could end up justifiably shot by the police. If not shot, then you might get roughed up a little bit and sent on your way. If that happens consider yourself lucky because it could have been much worse. With the worldwide attention being paid to the recent events in Ferguson and little to none being paid to the other instances that have happened before and after it, it’s time to give a guideline, or lifeline if you will to the people who need it the most.

How this will work is, I will give you a rule and then apply that rule so that you understand exactly when and how it should be applied so that there is no confusion. We don’t need you out there hesitating on the next traffic stop or stop and frisk because the results, well, you know what they could be. Before we get started we need to clear up a few misconceptions about how to avoid becoming a target. If you believe that doing nothing wrong can save you from being targeted then you need to stop believing that. Stop thinking in terms of right and wrong, instead, factor in if you look like you’re doing or have done something wrong. That look is a judgment call and we know the track record of those judges of character. That look as Charles Belk found out has little to do with how you’re dressed. One might argue that if you’re dressed too nice, in too nice of a neighborhood, that might cause problems too.

The next thing you have to realize going forward is that it doesn’t matter what school you went to. It doesn’t matter how many culturally diverse friends you have. It does matter what kind of car you drive but it doesn’t matter what you do for a living. Unless you plan to carry around a framed diploma of your highest completed level of education, a pay stub, a passport, 2 bills with proof of address on it and a notary public in the backseat to sign the statement you’ve just made to the police about everything you just presented, what you’ve accomplished doesn’t mean a thing. The only thing that matters is the now. So throw all of the “This can’t be about me because I..” talk out of the window. This is information you need too.

1. Do exactly what the police tell you to do but don’t do it too fast or too slow.

This one requires some practice and you might need a partner to do it right. When you are stopped in any fashion be it on the street, or in a car the police will give you clear commands. Get over the fact that you may or may not have been doing anything to get their attention, that’s irrelevant, you have it now. You need to focus on doing what they tell you in a synchronized manner so that they won’t perceive your actions as threatening. To practice this, you will need a stop watch and someone giving you the most likely commands that you will receive. For starters, have your partners ask you for your license, registration and proof of insurance and then start the stop watch. The correct response time to this command is the amount of time it takes the reporter in the field to answer the question asked by the news anchors in the studio. After your partner gives the command, put your hand up to an imaginary ear piece (only do this in practice, do not do this in real life situations, this is just to get you familiar with the speed you need to respond) count 1 don’t shoot me, 2 don’t shoot me, 3 don’t shoot me and then proceed to comply with the orders. You should practice this twice before leaving the house just to be crisp and ready. If you move too quickly you might startle the officer and they’ll have no choice but to rely on training and use an escalation of force because of imminent danger. If you move too slow then that could be interpreted as disobeying an order and again relying on training must mean you have something to hide or you’re a trouble maker and they know what to do with trouble makers.

2. Whatever you’re carrying is a weapon.

This is just a fact of life when dealing with the police. If you are eating a sandwich drop it immediately. If you have a soda can or bottle then you better slowly discard it before guns are drawn and you’re in a standoff, too late to do anything. Cell phones, wallets, gameboys, laptops, fanny packs and cigarettes can all be considered weapons that could easily be mistaken for a gun or knife and thus making the force used justifiable by the police. Assume that you are James Bond and MacGyver able to make that peppermint you have in your hand into a nuclear weapon because that is what they see when you hold it.

3. If you do not have anything in your hand then you must also realize that your hand is also a lethal weapon.

Every single minority in this country has their hands registered as lethal weapons. I know that you did not know this but judging how the police respond to unarmed black men it must be true. So when you have your hands up and open in the air, to the police you’re getting ready to attack. If you have your hands to your side then you are getting ready to execute a death grip and must be met with a proper deterrent. Understand that even if you are simply walking past and get confronted by someone else and forced to defend yourself, the perceived threat will more than likely be you.

4. If you are asked to get out of the car, automatically put your hands behind your head.

This is in case your license, proof of insurance and the notary public was not good enough. If you are asked to get out of the car by the police this is exactly how it should be done. The first thing you need to realize is that they are not asking you to get out so they can get to know you better. They are not asking you to get out of the car so that they can shake your hand and commend you on doing so well in life. They are more than likely going to handcuff you while they do whatever it is they’re going to do. Cut the middle man out of the situation. Get out of the car slowly. Move at the exact speed that a cartoon character would tip toe in any given situation. Skip the formality of being asked to put your hands behind your back and in one slow steady motion turn around facing the car and put your hands behind your back. If you’re unlucky and get a cop already on edge who loves giving commands this might backfire but research shows most will be pleasantly surprised as if you were reading their mind. Speed is also crucial here. Don’t move fast, it might look like you’re about to run from them and you know what happens next. If you do it too slow, then they will wait and take you to jail because obviously you’re high.

5. Questions you need to be prepared to answer.

Each encounter might vary but most will go something like this. The 1st question if you’re driving will be, if you know why you were pulled over. Play this cool, this is just like every other motorist that gets pulled over. The next question is where you need to be prepared and not caught off guard, thus admitting your guilt through some cosmic vibes you give off that police can pick up on. It doesn’t matter what kind of car you are driving, they will likely ask if this is your car. If it isn’t your car, shit… If it is your car don’t be offended. Calmly answer that it is and move on. Another question you might encounter is asking if you have any warrants for your arrest. Whether you’ve ever been arrested or not, you probably have been to police officers so answer honestly. If you do, shit… if you don’t just answer truthfully. That question applies whether you’re walking, driving, or sitting down in your own house. Have you been drinking will come up. It doesn’t matter if it’s 3am or 10am it will be asked and you need to be prepared to answer. The last question you’ll surely encounter is one that is designed to check on your well being as a concerned friend. Where are you going? It should not matter where you are going but it absolutely does to the police. Even if you’re going to the store to get some milk answer quickly because if you answer quickly it automatically means you’re telling the truth. It may not make sense to you but it does not have to, this is how you play the game and keep yourself from unintentionally threatening the police with the possibility of you heading somewhere you don’t belong.

6. The correct volume to speak and accent to have when answering questions asked by the police.

You’re wondering how can this help? It makes a world of difference. If you sound like Laverne Hooks from Police Academy the officer could become incredibly frustrated because they can’t understand you. If you sound like Samuel Jackson in Die Hard 3, you could be looked at as defiant and therefore threatening, making lethal force necessary. The accent you have makes a big impact as well. If you have a southern drawl, unfortunately this means that you’re up to something. If you have a heavy east coast accent, unfortunately this means you’re up to something. If you sound like you’re from the west coast, unfortunately this means you’re up to something. If you have an island accent or an accent like someone from Europe or Africa then this ultimately means that you’re up to something. It’s a tough spot to be in. For women, the best volume, tone and accent to speak in is the calm Claire Huxtable or the Calm Jessica Pearson. Strong but not too strong. Polite but not nervous and most of all graceful. You need to put their minds at ease. Any other tone of voice means that more than likely there is a body in the trunk and you’re trying to hurry up and get to Home Depot to buy acid and other things needed to dispose of it. For men there is only one correct voice to use and that is the calm Braxton P. Hartnabrig. Aha! No voice can soothe like Braxton’s. It isn’t threatening. It isn’t too strong. It quivers just enough so that the police can feel as if they are in charge and all of your words will be enunciated to perfection. It is the absolute best choice to use in order to get through the encounter as smoothly as possible.

7. Good answer vs bad answer.

Now that you know what to do and how to do it. You know what you should have and shouldn’t. You also know what questions to expect and the proper tone of voice and accent to answer them in, it’s time to go over what’s a good answer and what’s a bad answer. Your answer will save your life. The key to a good answer is that it must never sound like a question. Questions mean that you feel you have a right to ask the officer something as if you’re a peer. Questions, question authority and it’s never good to question an officer’s authority. Questions mean that you have something to hide since you didn’t give a direct answer. If you have something to hide it is the officer’s job, well, it’s the officer’s civic duty to get to the bottom of it at all costs. Direct answers that bend to the will of the officer is good. Anything else is extremely bad and can set things off that end up with you being on the wrong end of justifiable force.


In conclusion, the threat you pose is real people. You could be a terrorist or a thug. You could be on your way to ruining someone else’s day even if you’re just simply walking to the store or out enjoying the sun. You could be gathering people up to join a group that is planning to overthrow the government, like voters. There is no telling what you’re up to so the officers out to protect the communities have no choice but to engage you and figure out if you’re one of the good ones. Even if you feel you’re one of the good ones they still need to keep verifying your good status every now and again, don’t worry it’s just part of the protocol. The only way to ensure a safer encounter is to understand why it is happening and to be prepared when it does. These 7 keys when executed to perfection, wait, that phrase might not be appropriate right here. These 7 keys when followed correctly, will drop your chances of being harmed and or shot by the police a whopping 2%. You just can’t do any better than that. Remember your training and good luck.

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The death no one cares about – Philly.com

I’m not sure how I came across this article but after reading it I feel it must be shared-as widely as possible.

This is a disgusting trend in law enforcement of dismissal of and minimizing missing and murdered women and children-when they are not white.

Philadelphia also has a real history of blatant racist treatment of non-white citizens. The recent assault by police on a teenager who required surgery afterwards despite him having committed no crime is the latest episode.

When I was a child the firebombing of the Branch Dravidian compound in Waco had not yet happened but it’s identical urban twin was Philadelphia local police department’s idea if how you deal with minority activists living in townhouses.

I was born not too far from Philly but after that incident I consider it a terrifying place I would never go.

So this lack of interest or concern about this young woman’s very suspicious death is not something we should allow to stay hidden and ignored.

In America everyone is supposed to be equal. Period. Not some pigs are more equal than others ala Orwell’s Animal Farm.


The death no one cares about


Christina Sankey as an adult.

Christina Sankey as a toddler in the '70s.GALLERY: Christina Sankey as a toddler in the ’70s.

IF CHRISTINA SANKEY had been an angel-faced toddler when she went missing, we might know by now how she wound up dead, half-naked and alone, between two parked cars in West Philly on a frigid winter morning.

The city would’ve been galvanized by her death. Government officials would’ve promised to find out how she met her tragic end. Someone would’ve created a sidewalk memorial, and others would’ve led prayer vigils to honor the life that was lost.

But Christina, 37, had the mentality of a 2-year-old, but not the physique. She was a 5-foot-tall, 160-pound severely autistic and intellectually disabled woman. She was well cared for by her family, but ungainly. And she would grunt in ways that are precious in babies but odd in adults.

She was also poor. Her mother, Patricia Sankey, with whom she lived, hasn’t the resources nor clout to make a big deal out of her daughter’s passing.

And that, I fear, is why the death of this terribly vulnerable woman-child has not even registered on the public’s radar. Christina just wasn’t adorable enough or from the right circumstances for her death to warrant the attention it deserves.

Christina was last seen alive on March 6 inside Macy’s, at 13th and Market, while under the care of her state-paid caretaker, Hussanatu “Ayesha” Wulu, 29.

Wulu lost track of her. Christina’s body was discovered the next morning on 57th Street near Master, 5 miles away. She couldn’t have gotten there by bus or train, Sankey says, since she was nonverbal and incapable of using public transit alone. Nor does Sankey believe Christina would’ve walked that far.

So how did Christina get there? And does anyone other than her mother think that’s an important question to ask?

“I have nothing to say to anyone,” Wulu said when I visited her Southwest Philly home. As I drove away from the house, a man who identified himself as Alie Barrie, the home’s owner, cut me off with his van and angrily told me to leave his family alone.

Chetachi Dunkley-Ecton won’t talk, either. She is CEO of Casmir Care Services Inc., which employed Wulu and assigned her to provide Christina with seven hours a day of monitored supervision.

I wanted to ask Dunkley-Ecton why Wulu was shopping in a bustling Center City department store with Christina in the first place. Sankey insists that her daughter – whose favorite activity was rolling a ball – had no capability to learn shopping skills and no reason to be there.

I also wanted to speak with John F. White Jr., president of The Consortium Inc. That’s the agency that coordinated the services Christina received through Casmir Care. If he’d responded to messages I left for him, perhaps he would’ve expressed condolences for Christina’s death.

At least Philadelphia police are willing to acknowledge her demise, which a spokesman says “does not appear suspicious,” even though the Philadelphia Medical Examiner’s Office has not yet issued an official cause of death. Off the record, a police source says Christina likely died of hypothermia – she froze to death – a condition that can scramble the brain’s ability to discern body temperature.

“People who die of cold exposure often feel hot and remove their clothes,” the source said, and that’s why he suspects Christina was topless when she was found.

Except, says Patricia Sankey, her daughter hadn’t the ability to remove the pullover top she was wearing the day she disappeared. Sankey would’ve told detectives as much, but no one has spoken with her since she identified Christina at the city morgue.

It doesn’t appear that anyone from the District Attorney’s Office will speak with her, either.

“Unless her death is ruled suspicious, we wouldn’t be involved because a crime wasn’t committed,” D.A. spokeswoman Tasha Jamerson says.

Call me prickly, but allow me to recall the scorching heat of July 24, 2010. On that day, a severely autistic young man named Bryan Nevins baked to death inside the van of his Bucks County caretaker, Stacey Strauss. Court records later showed that Strauss was texting and talking with her boyfriend while Nevins died. Strauss was convicted of and jailed for involuntary manslaughter.

Sankey would like to know what Wulu’s state of mind was the day Christina went missing. That morning, she says, while Wulu was in the Sankey home, the doorbell rang. It was Wulu’s husband, who summoned Wulu outside, where the two had a “loud disagreement.”

“Afterward, she acted very odd,” Sankey says. “She said to Christina, ‘We’re leaving.’ That’s the last I saw of my baby.”

Regardless of the cause of Christina’s death, doesn’t it at least warrant a look-see from the D.A.? Given that Wulu’s only job was to provide monitored supervision to Christina? Especially in public, unsecured places?

The one person in an official capacity who seems to grasp the horror of this mess is Arthur Evans, commissioner of the city’s Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services. (The department makes sure that local agencies like Casmir Care are qualified to provide state-mandated services in Philadelphia.)

“Like all Philadelphians, we were shocked and saddened to learn of Christina’s tragic and untimely passing,” Evans said in a statement Tuesday – issued a full two weeks after I requested comment from his department. “At DBHIDS, that shock and sadness remains today as we wait to receive crucial reports from the Medical Examiner’s Office and other offices to complete our investigation. We will continue to support the commonwealth to provide them with the information they require to decide what next [steps] are appropriate.”

His concern is too little, too late for Christina’s mother.

“No one cares about my daughter. She was poor, she was disabled. She was not going to set the world on fire. But she was myworld,” said Sankey, who lives with her younger daughter, Eliza – also mentally disabled – in Point Breeze. Sankey is by turns fiery and weepy, twisting tissues in her hands as she talks about the daughter she describes as “the most loving child. She would hug you all the time. When she was sick, she would let you know by laying on top of you.”

Christina enjoyed watching old Westerns like “How the West Was Won” and reruns of “Gunsmoke” . . . she loved their old-timey sound tracks. She knew it was lunchtime when the “Judge Mathis” TV show ended. She craved morning coffee and cheese curls. And she was a proud graduate of Furness High School’s special-ed program.

“My hope was that she would learn to print her own name, but she would forget the letters as soon as she wrote them,” Sankey says.

She takes a breath and stares at the red-and-white urn that holds her daughter’s ashes. She says that she talks to the urn every night and apologizes for what happened.

She would talk to Christina’s photos, too, except she gave the best ones to people from Casmir Care when Christina went missing, so they could show them to Macy’s shoppers in hopes of finding her.

On Sankey’s behalf, I drove to Casmir Care, on Parkside Avenue near 49th Street, to retrieve the photos for her. A receptionist referred me, instead, to the agency’s lawyer.

Sankey deserves a more caring response than that. And so does her daughter.


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Tikkun | Roundup of Recent Articles April 30, 2014


Sue Bell Cobb: WWJD? Reform Alabama’s horrible criminal sentencing laws [ http://www.tikkun.org/tikkundaily/2014/04/25/wwjd-reform-alabamas-horrible-criminal-sentencing-laws/ ] Apr 25, 2014 01:30 pm | Sue Bell Cobb

As the former Chief Justice of Alabama, I am proud to have devoted my career to the cause of justice in our state. But as a lifelong United Methodist, it shames me to know that if Jesus came to our state today, he would chastise me and every other Alabama Christian for our nearly complete silence on a terrible injustice taking place under our noses and in our names every day: ineffective, absurdly harsh sentencing laws that lead to overcrowded, dangerous prisons that breed more crime. What would Jesus do? Fix our criminal sentencing laws.

Rabbi Howard Cooper: The Last Temptation of Noah [ http://www.tikkun.org/tikkundaily/2014/04/09/the-last-temptation-of-noah/ ] Apr 09, 2014 08:00 pm | Rabbi Howard Cooper

I once gave a sermon, at the Jewish New Year, during which a thunderstorm broke out and water started to pour through the synagogue roof. I’d like to claim that this was a cleverly-orchestrated special effects stunt that I’d managed to engineer; or even an example of my special relationship with what our tradition calls “Our God in Heaven”.

David Harris-Gershon: Racists Worse Than Cliven Bundy Who Actually Demand Our Viral Scorn [ http://www.tikkun.org/tikkundaily/2014/04/24/racists-worse-than-cliven-bundy-who-actually-demand-our-viral-scorn/ ] Apr 24, 2014 07:30 pm | David Harris-Gershon

Cliven Bundy – the freeloading rancher who hates America – always seemed to be a fairly despicable, self-interested person. Despite this, Fox News and right-leaning conservatives desperately celebrated him as a brave insurgent fighting government overreach.

New Monastic — Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove: NC Clergy Send Open Letter to State Government Leaders [ http://www.tikkun.org/tikkundaily/2014/04/24/nc-clergy-send-open-letter-to-state-government-leaders/ ] Apr 24, 2014 06:48 pm | New Monastic — Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove

As Jews and Christians across North Carolina celebrated Passover and Holy Week, clergy from our Forward Together Moral Movement in North Carolina sent the following letter to our General Assembly leadership. Last summer, over 100,000 people came to the General Assembly to protest extremism and call for a new moral center to our common life. As we prepare for another legislative session this year, we pray for those in authority, that they might have ears to hear.

Anna Challet: Young Muslims Choosing to Wear the Hijab Despite Rising Tide of Islamophobia [ http://www.tikkun.org/tikkundaily/2014/04/24/young-muslims-choosing-to-wear-the-hijab-despite-rising-tide-of-islamophobia/ ] Apr 24, 2014 03:13 pm | Anna Challet

A generation of young Muslims grew up in the shadow of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and the rise of Islamophobia in America. Some have personal experience with hurtful speech and ignorant comments about their faith. Yet many still choose to show their faith through practices like prayer and fasting, wearing a hijab (head covering), or growing a beard.

Ayana Nir: The Crisis in Israel’s Holocaust Education [ http://www.tikkun.org/tikkundaily/2014/04/23/the-crisis-in-israels-holocaust-education/ ] Apr 23, 2014 07:43 pm | Ayana Nir

Israeli Minister of Education Shai Piron’s plan to introduce Holocaust education to Israeli public schools starting as early as the first grade has been controversial. Alongside the concern voiced by many parents about traumatizing young children with gruesome details of systematic ethnic cleansing, many begin to question how the continued rehashing of communal wounds shape the development of national identity and what political interests the perpetuation of historical trauma might serve.

Tikkun’s Spring 2014 Issue: Does America Need a Left? [ http://www.tikkun.org/tikkundaily/2014/04/23/tikkuns-spring-2014-issue-does-america-need-a-left/ ] Apr 23, 2014 05:17 pm | Tikkun Staff

The sprawling American Left knows what it opposes, but it rarely articulates a shared vision of the world we want. Don’t miss the fierce debate put forth in Tikkun’s Spring 2014 Print Issue: Does America Need a Left?

Warren J. Blumenfeld: No “Honor” or Respect in Colonizing Native American and Jewish Culture [ http://www.tikkun.org/tikkundaily/2014/04/23/no-honor-or-respect-in-colonizing-native-american-and-jewish-culture/ ] Apr 23, 2014 02:46 pm | Warren J. Blumenfeld

The continued use of American Indian likenesses and images by sports teams has resulted in widespread racial, cultural and spiritual stereotyping which promotes hatred and disrespect of American Indian people. Using American Indian slurs like ‘Redskins’ is no different than the use of Black Sambo which offended African Americans or the Frito Bandito which is offensive to the Hispanic community.

Ibrahim Sundiata: Hirsi Ali, Islam, and Cultural Relativism: The Brandeis Controversy [ http://www.tikkun.org/tikkundaily/2014/04/23/hirsi-ali-islam-and-cultural-relativism-the-brandeis-controversy/ ] Apr 23, 2014 01:53 pm | Ibrahim Sundiata

In an age of identity politics can we criticize the formerly colonized or semi-colonized “Two-Thirds World” (in the faculty letter’s terminology)? How to address female genital mutilation in Somalia, slavery in Mauritania and the lynching of gays in Kenya? Especially when such occurrences are clothed with the authority of religion, how do we respond?

Elizabeth Cunningham: Resurrection Garden, Resurrection Feast: A Post-Easter Reflection [http://www.tikkun.org/tikkundaily/2014/04/22/resurrection-garden-resurrection-feast-a-post-easter-reflection/ ] Apr 22, 2014 05:42 pm| Elizabeth Cunningham

In John’s account of the Resurrection, Mary Magdalen mistakes Jesus for the gardener. Or perhaps it is not a mistake or not just a mistake but also a poetic truth. In any event, John’s Gospel makes clear: the Resurrection takes place in a garden!

Annie Pentilla: Jeff Gipe’s “Renegade Art”: Protesting Development Near Rocky Flats Plutonium Plant [ http://www.tikkun.org/tikkundaily/2014/04/21/jeff-gipes-renegade-art-protesting-development-near-rocky-flats-plutonium-plant/ ] Apr 21, 2014 06:00 pm | Annie Pentilla

When artist Jeff Gipe talks about the renegade sculpture he created to protest the construction of a housing development near the former plutonium plant Rocky Flats, what he has to say sounds incredible. The entire Rocky Flats’ story reads like a made-for-Hollywood movie, replete with leaking drums of nuclear waste, FBI raids, and so-called government cover-ups. Gipe grew up near the mysterious facility, leaving him with experiences he’ll never forget.

David Harris-Gershon: How the Progressive D.C. Community Helped Me Defeat the Right-Wing, ‘Pro-Israel’ Silencing Machine [ http://www.tikkun.org/tikkundaily/2014/04/19/how-d-c-helped-me-defeat-the-right-wing-pro-israel-silencing-machine/ ] Apr 19, 2014 12:01 pm | David Harris-Gershon

On February 6, my inbox was inundated with messages from people I did not know. I’m so disgusted, they read; You’re going to hear from us again, they read; We’re going to fight this, they read.

Warren J. Blumenfeld: Jews as Racialized Other as Reflected in the Kansas Murders [http://www.tikkun.org/tikkundaily/2014/04/18/jews-as-racialized-other-as-reflected-in-the-kansas-murders/ ] Apr 18, 2014 08:29 pm | Warren J. Blumenfeld

Why did a self-described “white supremacist” target apparent white people at Jewish community centers? The answer is quite simple: Though Jewish people are members of every so-called “race,” even Jews of European heritage (Ashkenazim) have been and still continue to be “racially” othered by dominant Christian European-heritage communities in some quarters.

Alex Kane: A Challenge to the Jewish Mainstream: Will You Stand Against Islamophobia? [ http://www.tikkun.org/tikkundaily/2014/04/17/a-challenge-to-the-jewish-mainstream-will-you-stand-against-islamophobia/ ] Apr 17, 2014 05:19 pm | Alex Kane

What’s the ideology undergirding opposition to the construction of mosques in the United States? How are anti-Muslim groups funded? How have Jewish groups reacted when confronted with issues like the proposed construction of the Park51 Islamic center near Ground Zero in New York City? Elly Bulkin and Donna Nevel answer these questions and more in their new book “Islamophobia and Israel”, a sobering analysis of the Jewish establishment’s dalliance with anti-Muslim bigotry.

Timothy Villareal: America’s Fork in the Road: Endless War or Democratic Reform? [ http://www.tikkun.org/tikkundaily/2014/04/16/americas-fork-in-the-road-endless-war-or-democratic-reform/ ] Apr 16, 2014 08:27 pm | Timothy Villareal

Add a 227-year-old Constitution with a 60-year-old collective military defense treaty, like the NATO Charter, and America could be at war in the blink of an eye. Will we reform our Constitution before getting dragged into another pointless war?

Saadia Faruqi: When One of Us is Hurt, We All Feel Pain [ http://www.tikkun.org/tikkundaily/2014/04/15/when-one-of-us-is-hurt-we-all-feel-pain/ ] Apr 15, 2014 02:15 pm | Saadia Faruqi

Make no mistake, the attack on the Jewish Community Center was an attack on all of us, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Sikhs – people of every religion and no religion. The perpetrator, apparently a former KKK member with ties to Nazism, is not just a person, but an embodiment of the hate culture rising around us.

Rabbi Howard Cooper: The Challenges of Seder Night [ http://www.tikkun.org/tikkundaily/2014/04/13/the-challenges-of-seder-night/ ]Apr 13, 2014 12:00 pm | Rabbi Howard Cooper

The challenge of Seder night is not just to remember the past, not just to recall the extraordinary longevity of our story with its roots in servitude and its mythos of the Jews as a people liberated into a different kind of servitude – servitude to a vision of how things could be, how freedoms of many kinds could be the inheritance of all peoples.

Uri Avnery: In One Word: Poof! [ http://www.tikkun.org/tikkundaily/2014/04/11/in-one-word-poof/ ] Apr 11, 2014 06:22 pm | Uri Avnery

Uri Avnery’s analysis helps cut through the cloud of lies and distortions in the American, Israeli, and Palestinian media so we can understand and face reality.

Donna Schaper: Book Review – From the Psalms to the Cloud: Connecting to the Digital Age [ http://www.tikkun.org/tikkundaily/2014/04/11/book-review-from-the-psalms-to-the-cloud-connecting-to-the-digital-age/ ] Apr 11, 2014 05:01 pm | Donna Schaper

You don’t have to be an environmentalist to wonder about technology. Will it be our great savior or will it be another thorn in the flesh, another opportunity to hear Thoreau’s lament? “Human beings”, he says, “have a tendency to become the tools of their tools.”

Jill Goldberg: The Art of Revolution: The River and the Sea, A Documentary Play by Danny Bryck [ http://www.tikkun.org/tikkundaily/2014/04/10/the-art-of-revolution-the-river-and-the-sea-a-documentary-play-by-danny-bryck/ ]Apr 10, 2014 09:06 pm | Jill Goldberg

When it comes to Israel/Palestine, Actor and Writer Danny Bryck isn’t the first to consider this question: “When everyone tells a different story, how do we tell the truth?” He may, however, be the first to work so hard to hear quite so many different stories that come from the thin strip of land between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River.

Special Passover Seder Messages

If you had been subscribing (for free) to our Tikkun Daily blog, you’d have recieved these messages in time for the holiday. To subscribe to the Tikkun Daily blog, go to: www.tikkun.org/tikkundaily/join-tikkun-daily/

But save these articles for next year. They’ll still be relevant!

Selected by Rabbi Michael Lerner and useful for thinking spiritually about Judaism or Christianity or Islam.

Three writings by three spiritual progressives-Jonathan Granoff, Shari Motro, and Rabbi Arthur Waskow-who further elaborate on universal messages emerging specifically from Jewish customs and practices. Also read the articles below by Robert Cohen, Ariel Vegosen and Rae Abileah.

Robert Cohen: “In Every Generation…” How Mainstream Approaches to Passover Lock Shut the Jewish Imagination [ http://www.tikkun.org/tikkundaily/2014/04/11/in-every-generation-how-mainstream-approaches-to-passover-lock-shut-the-jewish-imagination/ ]Apr 11, 2014 02:02 pm | Robert Cohen

Via mouthfuls of bitter herbs, salt water, nuts and raisins mixed with wine, and unleavened bread, do mainstream approaches to Passover promote the damaging mindset that tells us that we are the world’s eternal victims?

Ariel Vegosen and Rae Abileah: A Seed on the Seder Plate [ http://www.tikkun.org/tikkundaily/2014/04/13/a-seed-on-the-seder-plate/ ]

Apr 13, 2014 01:00 pm | Ariel Vegosen and Rae Abileah

Returning in springtime, with Passover on the horizon, has given us time to reflect on the liberation story of our ancestors and ask what needs liberating in our current world. Control over seed means a control over our lives, our food and our freedom: a dangerous and deadly business. It’s time we collectively stand up for seed freedom, which is why this year we are proposing adding a seed to the Seder plate.

If you find our articles valuable, please help “Tikkun” continue this free service by subscribing to our quarterly magazine (with totally different content available onlyto subscribers) available in print or online form attikkun.org/subscribe [ http://www.tikkun.org/subscribe ]. Even better, support us by joining the interfaith and atheist-welcoming Network of Spiritual Progressives at tikkun.org/join [https://org.salsalabs.com/o/525/p/salsa/donation/common/public/?donate_page_KEY=3793 ]. When you join the NSP, you get a free one year subscription to “Tikkun” magazine.

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Daily Kos Saturday, April 26, 2014


Daily Kos Recommended

The comments on the Bundy articles are hilarious and many convey more information than the articles themselves.

I grew up in a tiny farm town in the rural South in the 1970’s. Jim Crow may have been illegal and integrated school required but the attitudes hadn’t changed at all.

I have rather light skin but after hearing thousands of iterations of ” one drop means your a n***er”, I was quite clear on my non-white status and what that meant.

We saw with the shooting of Trayvon Martin and the reactions including his murderer’s freedom that these attitudes have not significantly evolved in much of America even now.

I don’t know what needs to be done but I know complacency in assuming that these throwback cretins don’t represent a dominant theme in American culture is not an option.

As our country continues its slide into post Empire collapse and the economic hardship our endless wars have bequeathed us, such insanity will only increase as is evident in a cursory examination of the history of post WWI Germany.

If we cannot find ways to reweave the social fabric I fear the the spectre of increasing racial violence and another civil war may no longer be as ridiculous and impossible as it logically should be.

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Daily Kos :: Cliven Bundy wants to tell you about ‘the Negro.’ I want to tell you about Cliven Bundy

Apologies to all those who will surely be offended-one way or another- by this but I believe it is important to tell the whole truth.

And I am tired of trying to laboriously explain the sociopolitical background and facts associated with this and other recent events.

It sickens me that good people I have associated with in spiritual community support not only this self absorbed idiot but also the idea that people bringing guns to “defend” this criminal from justice is the start of a positive change.

It is not. You cannot tear down the master’s house using the master’s tools!

You engage in the same low frequency negative attitudes and behaviors as the cabal/current criminals in charge and you perpetuate the system if violence, power over and greed that causes so much suffering.

It takes real courage to use nonviolence as a tactic because you are placing your faith in yourself, in God and in the innate goodness of your fellow humans.

It’s powerful because it challenges the current system in ways shooting back or threatening to, do not.
Cliven Bundy wants to tell you about ‘the Negro.’ I want to tell you about Cliven Bundy
by Laura Clawson Apr 24, 2014 6:49am PDT

When a 67-year-old white Republican begins a sentence with “I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro,” you know the sentence is not ending well. But deadbeat rancher and domestic terrorist Cliven Bundy wasn’t content to stop with mere racism, however undisguised. No, he went ahead and added a dose of flagrant hypocrisy to the mix:

“I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro … because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do?” he asked.

Oh! Basically on government subsidy. Well, a man who’s been grazing his cattle on federal land for 20 years without even paying the ridiculously low (effectively: subsidized) rates he legally owed should know a thing or two about government subsidy. This is a man who sparked an armed standoff with the federal government in an effort to avoid paying themore than $1 million he owes. And he’s talking about how the effects of government subsidy on black people are that:

“They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom.”

Does government subsidy somehow work differently for white ranchers with 14 children? Sorry! Stupid question, I realize. Cliven Bundy is a special snowflake to whom no rules apply, ever. He gets to illegally graze cattle on public land for decades and take up arms against the federal government, and then when the New York Times comes calling to write about them, he gets to hold forth about how the Negroes were better off under slavery and it not only doesn’t make the headline, you have to read down 11 paragraphs to get to what would seem to be significant information about who this guy is. But apparently the Times thought the more significant piece of information in the article was that Bundy “savors the audience that rallied to his side.” What a piece of hard-hitting news that is—deadbeat on ego trip savors ego trip.


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Daily Kos :: Dear Richard Cohen’s ‘cultural cons ervatives’ (racists). Please vomit when you see me.

Dear Richard Cohen’s ‘cultural conservatives’ (racists). Please vomit when you see me.
by Denise Oliver Velez Nov 17, 2013 8:00am PST
Denise Oliver Velez, (photo Will Orellana)

This is what I look like. The result of an ancestry of a bicentennial of breeding farms and rape during the enslavement period on one side of the family, and a loving marriage between a white Kansan grandmother and a black grandfather from Tennessee on the other (whose marriage was illegal in many parts of the U.S. in 1915 when they wed).

Since we’ve been informed byWashington Postcolumnist Richard Cohen that the sight of “us” (and we number in the millions) makes racists he refuses to call racists gag—I suggest strongly that they complete the process.

Puke on.

I’ve read outraged responses to his column, from Ta-Nehisi Coates, toHunter here at Daily Kos, to Salon and more, but still haven’t been able to shake off my own anger at Cohen (and his WaPo bosses) whose inability to state that gaggers=teabaggers=racists, displays once again his Paleolithic punditry and history of racism, sexism and homophobia.

What was also bizarre was while using the de Blasio family as an example of what evokes choking (de Blasio who just won by a landslide in NYC), he singles out Harry Belafonte, as if every major civil rights organization hasn’t called out the Teapublican brand of hate, and as if Republicans across the board haven’t been supporting racist voter repression, anti-immigration reform, and programs like Stop and Frisk.

Hey Cohen—if it looks like a racist, talks like a racist, passes racist legislation, it ain’t conventional at all—it’s racist.

Recent surveys prove that a vastmajority of Americans approveof interracial marriage. Yet his “not-racists” (his holders of conventional views) to whom he attributes a gag reflex still exist, as an antediluvian minority, like the 46 percent of Republicanssurveyed in Mississippi who would like to ban it. They are not reflective of national opinion.

I look at myself each morning in the mirror. A black woman, clearly with ancestry not exclusively sub-Saharan African. Such is the nature of the “made in the U.S.A.” label for so many of us “black” folks, and others who reflect a mélange of cross-ethnic marriages and lineages.

From my point of view anyone who objects to me and mine as some sort of abomination, deserves an 100 percent made by the KKK tag, with hooded accessories.

Follow me below the fold for more.

Our mixed ancestral genesis, and demographics here on these shores, in the Caribbean, Latin America, and even in Europe, or in Africa itself (for example “Cape Coloureds” in South Africa) exhibits no inability on the part of “whites” to mingle sperm and ova with “blacks” or any other form of cross-ethnic fertilization and birth. We are homo sapiens sapiens, not different species. But it took until 1967 for the Supreme Court here in the U.S. to validate the right to marry across racial lines as the law of the land. The irony ofLoving v. Virginia, which ended legal discrimination is in the surname “Loving.”

I’m fed up with the denial about, and excuses made for Teapublican Christians who talk about Jesus’s love on a Sunday morning out of one side of their mouth and excoriate “race mixing” out of the other. The path to the pews should carpeted in the vile retching of hypocrites.

Chief Justice Earl Warren ruled: … (More)

(Please click the link below to read the whole article with comments, on Daily Kos-
http://m.dailykos.com/story/2013/11/17/1255486/-Dear-Richard-Cohen-s-cultural-conservatives-racists-Please-vomit-when-you-see-me?detail=email )


Founder of Judicial Watch Calls for a March On D.C. to DWARF the Bikers’ and Truckers’ and DEMAND Obama’s Resignation!

“on in the history of our once great republic, I call upon millions of Americans who have been appalled and disgusted by Obama’s criminality – his Muslim, socialist, anti-Semitic, anti-Christian, anti-white, pro-illegal immigrant, pro-radical gay and lesbian agenda – among other outrages, to descend on Washington, D.C., en masse, and demand that he leave town and resign from office if he does not want to face prison time.”(quote from this post)

This is the most divisive, ridiculous and full of lies thing I have seen in a long time. Later on it quotes Franklin saying we need to hang together or else will hang separately-which is true-this post exemplifies the insane division the cabal promotes.First off-if you actually believe Obama is a Muslim Socialist, you might need to sign up for a brain transplant stat! 

Obama has done a lot of rotten stuff on behalf of the corporations and 1% who control our country.  

His writings, his stated beliefs and his actions have all been VERY capitalist. 

He is a christian but I personally find it extremely offensive that any American has the sickness of spirit to malign anyone for being ANY religion! !! How Dare you violate my beloved US CONSTITUTION by dismissing and degrading one of its central tenets???Are we now to become the America run by the xtian taliban?? 

I am so disgusted seeing this hate filled drivel on so called spiritual blogs that supposedly support a better future.  A better future ONLY for WHITE, straight christians?!!!This country was founded in a bloodbath of murdered indigenous people.

Villifying nonwhite, Muslim, socialist, lesbian and gay etc is not only un-American,  it belittles the sacrifice so many made-most especially the Nations this country violently supplanted to be born. Those Americans who are Muslim, who believe in the fairness inherent in socialist theory, who are nonwhite, who are lgbt, WE ARE AMERICA TOO!!!So if you think you can erase us, belittle us, demonize our President for making sure the laws are fair to us too-as the Constitution guarantees-then take your bigoted fake christian (because Christ said whatsoever you do to the least if my brothers this you do unto me-he meant Obama, he meant gays, ndns, blacks ,Muslims and everyone else you self absorbed racists pointlessly HATE) and go back to Europe. ( if those socialist democracies will take you back!)

The reason there is NO New Age is because the majority are stuck in this FAKE “awakening” based in HATE instead of Love.Anyone who goes to DC to protest stuff that isn’t even real when they can’t get up for the stuff that really is deeply wrong and actually causing real measurable harm to real people , utterly deserves to waste their time and money and the immense ridicule the rest of the country will quite logically heap upon them. 

I am tired of seeing plain disgusting HATE masquerading as news, as awakening, as anything but the KKK rallying cry it is.

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Sanford, Florida-Party Like It’s 1975!

I understand how our legal system works. I know that because we do have a jury system that prevailing racial and cultural attitudes that are fundamentally wrong can influence an outcome such as we have just seen. I understand that this means we have more work to do before our country can actually be amything resembling free or fair.

But the bottom line is this acquittal means that some of us are considered expendable. Some of us are considered less valuable, less human, less safe than others.

Tonight Mothers like mine with sons whose skin is not light enough, Mothers whose children walk on streets in southern cities and small towns where racism is the standard, where their children are assumed to be criminals and animals; these Mothers will have to live with a state of stress and fear that no one should have to live with.

Like Mothers in Palestine, in Iraq, Afghanistan and other places of war and violence, they will go about their lives quietly as they have. They will do what needs to be done, get up, go to work, make sure the children have what they need.

But their spirits will be shredded that much more, their hearts that much heavier. Knowing each time they see their child walk out the door could be the last time they see that child alive.

Not as every parent inherently knows it, but with a terrifying awareness that their child is a TARGET. That they live where men with guns can use them with impunity, that their child can be stalked, followed, harrassed and harmed-and that if that child intinctively defends him or herself they will be resigning their inherent right to life.

White privilege is the wonderful comfort of NOT ever having to think of this. To be be able to dismiss this essay, this awareness, these emotions as ridiculous or self serving or whatever knee jerk catchall phrase the racists and their (often unwitting) supporters in society are using this week to demean those of us who believe that every single person has the same value, that no one can be assumed to be criminal, a problem, just because of their skin, their clothes, or their neighborhood.

A good friend of mine has a sibling who lived in Sanford. When my friend, who is indigenous, went to visit their sibling the sibling was very worried that my friend would walk around freely at night in Sanford and not understand how dangerous it was. That my friend would not understand the rules were different, that in that place my friend did not have the freedom we take for granted in St Petersburg to walk where we want, to run if we feel like it, to ignore assholes and idiots who scold us for where we are walking.

At the time of this visit my friend came back and told me about the sibling’s worry and lectures and it was kind of humorous how ridiculous and throwback the sibling’s gated community and podunk hick Florida town was.

It is not so funny to me anymore.

What this trial has shown us is not that Zimmerman is not a racist-only that he is not any MORE of a racist than his neighbors-than a “jury of his peers”.

It has shown us that in Florida, the right of a white person to be a damn fool with a gun is sacrosanct.

Even tho in a very similar case in Tampa recently a black man in a similar situation-a licensed gun carrier who stupidly brough his gun and created a pointless confrontation that resulted in a young father’s death-was sent to prison.

At the time, that man thought and stated that due to similar cases where white men were exonerated for taking actions similar to his he too should have gone free.

I don’t think so.

I think all idiots whose ridiculous, self centered, and poorly thought out choices result in someone else’s death should go to jail. It is not in my opinion, racist that the black idiot goes to jail but that the white idiot does not. In both cases an innocent person is dead. In both cases that is WRONG.

We have now seen unfortunately that no matter how wrong it is, it is not illegal.

This sets a precedent-whether or not it does so legally, it certainly does so culturally, in the media, in the minds of people who will now choose to carry their guns and take stupid actions that result in harm to others pointlessly, simply because they now KNOW they CAN.

What my friend found not humorous, but deeply disturbing about the visit to Sanford a few years ago was that the non-white residents were so afraid that their behaviour was confusing to us. It was just like the behaviour I was used to in the small agricultural town I grew up in back in the 1970’s.

Black folks took insults, nasty behaviour and demeaning behaviour from white folks without question. They behaved subserviently, fearfully and controlled where they walked, what they said-even what clothes they wore. They even prevented my friend from responding to rudeness normally-seeming very afraid of what might happen.

In the 70’s we knew why this was, and we were actively fighting it. (Our “uppityness” resulted in threats of a late night visit from the local Klan chapter that strangely never materialized after we assured them we would enjoy the ease of targeting created by their white sheets)

My friend and I could not understand why the people in that area of Florida behaved that way in what we thought was the modern, more progressive 2000’s.

Now we know. Trayvon was a city kid like us. He didn’t know any better than to fight back when some “creepy ass cracker” followed and attacked him.

To me this is not theoretical-had my friend been accosted the result could very easily have been the same.

I have a cold, sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. How can 40 years have passed and nothing has changed?

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Contrary to those who believe aliens, gods etc will appear and right all wrongs for us, I believe that WE are righting the wrongs the same old way-thru hard work, determination and consciousness raising. Progress has always been in baby steps, but as the Shift continues it does seem that the baby is picking up his pace sometimes;-)

All the wrongs are connected and interwoven parts of an imposed system-whether we call that imposed system colonization or ancestral lizard-people bloodlines, it’s key feature is that it DOES NOT WORK.

As we dismantle the imposed, nonfunctional system and work step by step to replace it with systems, and habits of being that ARE functional we will see improvements leapfrog across old boundaries and grow by orders of magnitude instead of baby steps as the process continues.

Ending racism may not SEEM to relate to ending environmental destruction, or income inequality, or corruption in governments and corporations but it does. It is an integral part of the divisive mindset that promotes and creates all of those problems-so as we defeat it, so do we weaken the rest, and vice versa-as we treat our environment with more respect so too will be naturally treat one another with more respect as well.

Thank you all for all that you do to make our world a better place-keep up the good work!;-)


The Native American Rights Fund (NARF) fully supports the introduction of H.R. 1278, a new landmark bill in the U.S. House of Representatives that would amend the Trademark Act of 1946 regarding the disparagement of Native Americans through marks that use the term redskin.

NARF commends Rep. Faleomavaega and all the original sponsors of this important bill, which sends a clear signal that some members of Congress do not take anti-Native stereotyping and discrimination lightly. These Representatives now join Native American nations, organizations and people who have lost patience with the intransigence of the Washington pro football franchise in holding on to the indefensible a racial epithet masquerading as a team name.

NARF also commends all those individuals in the on-going Harjo and Blackhorse proceedings in federal agencies and courts for their tireless advocacy attempting in righting this wrong. While these cases have yet to succeed, they have provided the springboard for legislative efforts like the new bill.

For over 20 years NARF has been involved in the cases, attempting to accomplish what this bill, if enacted, would do. NARF represented the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), the National Indian Education Association (NIEA), the National Indian Youth Council (NIYC)), and the Tulsa Indian Coalition Against Racism (TICAR) as amici curiae in Harjo et al v. Pro Football, Inc. NARF also organized amici briefs in support of the Native petition for Supreme Court review, including one by a broad range of Native nations and organizations, and others by law professors, psychology professors and social justice advocacy groups.

NARF, NCAI, NIEA NIYC, TICAR and other major Native American organizations all have raised concerns regarding race-based stereotyping and behaviors in sports,, particularly the racially derogatory name and logo of the “Washington Redskins” professional football organization. Such concerns have been expressed through numerous communications, public statements, and meetings, including a 1972 meeting with then Washington Redskins president Edward Bennett Williams, after which no team owner ever met with Native people opposing the name.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office registered six trademarks between 1967 and 1990 that consist of racially derogatory and disparaging material, which opens Native Americans to contempt and public ridicule in violation of Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.c. § 1052(a). While there is enormous uplifting good in the human spirit, racism is the dark side of humanity that has caused much suffering among our diverse human family. Section 1052(a) wisely recognizes that one basic manifestation of prejudice, discrimination, or racism is the use of racially derogatory names, caricatures, or stereotypes that disparage peoples and persons and hold them up to contempt and ridicule; and this statute safeguards citizens through the registration of such trademarks.

In ruling unanimously in the Harjo case to cancel the Redskins trademarks, the PTO Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) admitted that the six existing trademark licenses should not have been approved. That ruling was overturned on a technicality, laches, which was interpreted to mean that the plaintiffs waited too long after turning 18 to file suit. The current Blackhorse case is identical, except that the plaintiffs filed when they were 18 to 24. In a recent hearing before the PTO TTAB, the Washington franchise argued that even these young plaintiffs waited too long and should have filed on the day they turned 18. In addition to this ongoing trademark cancelation case, Native people have filed Letters of Protest with the PTO to stop new requests for trademark licenses for the same disparaging name.

Should this legislation be enacted, it would provide justice to the plaintiffs and protestors in these cases, would free the PTO to automatically deny federal protection for this disparagement, and would spare present and future Native American peoples and persons from suffering public humiliation and discrimination from the name of the team in the nations capitol.

Native nations and citizens have a treaty, trust and special relationship with the United States, and rely on the federal government more than any other segment of society to make certain that its actions do no harm. Because of the duty of care owed to Indian tribes and people by the Department of Commerce, it is incumbent upon them to strictly enforce the provisions of 15 U.S.C. § 1052(a), in order to safeguard Indian tribes and citizens from racially or culturally disparaging federal trademarks. They are required by law to assess the issues in light of its federal Indian trust relationship and associated fiduciary duties to protect Indians and Indian culture from degrading federal trademark registrations. That trust relationship encompasses an affirmative duty on behalf of the Department of Commerce and the PTO TTAB to protect tribal culture and safeguard Native Americans from racism in sports conducted under color of federal law.

Founded in 1970, the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) is the oldest and largest nonprofit law firm dedicated to asserting and defending the rights of Indian tribes, organizations and individuals nationwide. NARFs practice is concentrated in five key areas: the preservation of tribal existence; the protection of tribal natural resources; the promotion of Native American human rights; the accountability of governments to Native Americans; and the development of Indian law and educating the public about Indian rights, laws, and issues.


©2012 Native American Rights Fund

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