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Monday, April 6, 2015

Reign of “legalized” torture, violence, injustice: America’s Ivy Leaguers

only trees
Picture of horrendous injustice more pervasive than Bryan Stevenson’s domestic frame
Editing and comment by Carolyn Bennett

In an era in which the “leader of the free world” is a law graduate from America’s prestigious Ivy Leagues (Columbia University and Harvard Law School), a former instructor in constitutional law at another prestigious school (University of Chicago Law School), an “expert” in constitutional law, and a black man who, as head of state, finds no viable means of conducting foreign relations except violent means: belligerence, threats, name-calling, demonizing, armed drones, sanctions, and other lethal weaponry, prolonged and unspeakable violence on the ground; and when justice under law is denied all across the United States of America and not a word is spoken or hand raised or policy proposed to end chronic injustice in this (his) homeland—what other than violence can be expected in darkened halls of US “justice.”  
peaking today on Democracy Now Bryan A. Stevenson, another attorney, law professor at New York University School of Law, and founder and Executive Director of the (private, non-profit Alabama-headquartered) Equal Justice Initiative, said, in a limited framing of injustice, that lynching in the USA went underground and rose again in the death penalty.

In his limited framing pegged to an innocent client’s release from 30 hellish years on death row after having been served by incompetent counsel and having received an unfair trial, Stevenson said of domestic justice what is also true, and worse, of America’s level of relations with peoples of Asia and Africa:

‘We dehumanize people of color. We demonize them.

‘We said that they were different … [and] … dangerous [As if one equated or were synonymous with the other].

Think of all those Western missionaries and mercenaries abroad.

‘We said that we could own them [and] civilize them and the narrative of racial difference was never really confronted.’
“The Emancipation Proclamation didn’t deal with it,” Stevenson said; “the 13th Amendment [to the Constitution of the United States] didn’t deal with it. And we had decades of lynching—terrorism directed at African Americans—because that same presumption of ‘dangerousness’ and ‘guilt’” comforted people as they in the course of lynching committed unspeakable acts against other human beings.
hough he is right as far has it goes, we must think beyond this frame: Not only of Americans and what they have done to one another but of the same pattern of demonizing and murdering peoples of other countries.

There is no singular strain but a pervasive, all encompassing one. Think of all those countries: Vietnam, Japan, the Korea(s), Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria, Bahrain, Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Libya, Sudan, Congo, Nigeria, Lebanon, Gaza, Ukraine, and countless others whose people have been slaughtered, others maimed, made widows, made homeless and destitute, whose lands, institutions, livelihoods have been decimated by US bombs and other violence ordered by graduates of America’s most “finest” institutions of “higher learning.”

“There has never been a time in America when we have had more innocent people in jails and prisons,” Stevenson continued, yet we have failed to invest “in the defense function to protect people from wrongful convictions.” People caught in such a system, he said, are denied “a right to counsel; they cannot get to court.”

In this “free” and “brave” homeland, legal lynching made illegal morphed into a “modern-day death penalty,” Stevenson said. But the issue of ingrained character does not limit itself to either the USA or more narrowly the US South. Let us think wider than domestic United States.

hink of US barbarism in “Dark sites.” Think Abu Ghraib (US-occupied/ invaded/ sanctions-ravaged Iraq). Think Bagram (US- occupied/invaded Afghanistan). Think Guantanamo Bay (US-occupied Cuba), and other places—to some extent known to us—where US operatives and officials have darkened the image of and violated humanity. People are assassinated without due process of law, abducted without charge or counsel, imprisoned without privacy with counsel; tortured, constantly humiliated, force fed, some killed, some maimed, some forced into suicide, some made to rot in a prison cell for the rest of their lives. There is something not only inhumane, immoral and illegal but also insane about this—pathological all round. And it CANNOT be excluded from any serious discussion about justice.

“Evidence of racial bias is extreme and overwhelming,” Stevenson says of domestic USA; “yet we do nothing.”

We do nothing while horrendous crimes are committed against peoples and nations right across the globe. We say give us another Democrat or Republican, a black person or a woman or a god, whatever the tribal icon that lets us shirk our responsibility as citizen—let them (gender, race, party or god), do the work. Let this great nation continue to be led backwards by the same dastardly doers and deeds.
Stevenson is right.  We need to talk to one another. But we need to see fully and clearly; beyond narrow frames, to the world. We need to end our distraction and self-focusing; listen to “different” others, widen and deepen our discussion of a deadly strain within us that is doing great harm to the whole world of which are apart.


“‘They Couldn’t Take My Soul’: Anthony Ray Hinton on His Exoneration after 30 Years on Death Row,” Democracy Now, April 6, 2015, http://www.democracynow.org/2015/4/6/they_couldn_t_take_my_soul


Bryan A. Stevenson, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Bryan_Stevenson&printable=yes

Barack Hussein Obama II, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barack_Obama


A lifelong American writer and writer/activist (former academic and staffer with the U.S. government in Washington), Dr. Carolyn LaDelle Bennett is credentialed in education and print journalism and public affairs (PhD, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan; MA, The American University, Washington, DC). Her work concerns itself with news and current affairs, historical contexts, and ideas particularly related to acts and consequences of U.S. foreign relations, geopolitics, human rights, war and peace, and violence and nonviolence. Dr. Bennett is an internationalist and nonpartisan progressive personally concerned with society and the common good. An educator at heart, her career began with the U.S. Peace Corps, teaching in Sierra Leone, West Africa. Since then, she has authored several books and numerous current-affairs articles; her latest book: UNCONSCIONABLE: How The World Sees Us: World News, Alternative Views, Commentary on U.S. Foreign Relations; most thoughts, articles, edited work are posted at Bennett’s Study: http://todaysinsightnews.blogspot.com/ and on her Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/carolynladelle.bennett. http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/08UNCONSCIONABLE/prweb12131656.htm http://bookstore.xlibris.com/Products/SKU-000757788/UNCONSCIONABLE.aspx Her books are also available at independent bookstores in New York State: Lift Bridge in Brockport; Sundance in Geneseo; Dog Ears Bookstore and Literary Arts Center in Buffalo; Burlingham Books in Perry; The Bookworm in East Aurora


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