May 29, 2009 by Marc Lamont Hill
Last week, I appeared on the Michael Eric Dyson Show, where I discussed my new book, as well as the broader relationship between hip-hop and education. As always, Dyson asked brilliant questions and pushed me to think about my own project in different and interesting ways. To hear it, click here.
May 29, 2009 by Marc Lamont Hill
The Politics of Office
By Mumia Abu-Jamal
[col. writ. 5/16/09]
There are many things to be learned by the nation’s most recent presidential election; some new; some old.
In some ways, this election marked a new page in history, and as such, has had impacts and influences that were quite unprecedented.
In other ways, this election is an exercise in continuity, as the administration, like the 2006 congressional elections before it, strove mightily to reassure the wealthy and well-to-doÂ that nothing essential would change, and their interests would be protected.
And while President Barack H. Obama ran on the promise of change, he has adoptedÂ some of the same policies of the Bush administration.
He will not release photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating, abusing, torturing and/or humiliating foreign prisoners and detainees.
He will continue the military commissions begun under the Bush-Cheney regime, albeit with some procedural changes.
And several of the so-called ‘black sites’, secret prisons placed around the world and administered by the CIA, will keep right on humming.
And, of course, he will continue to prosecute the wars begun and waged under the previous administration; though it appears Afghanistan will garner the lion’s share of White House attention.
Boy, what a difference an election makes.
Or, put quite another way, running for an office is worlds away from getting it.
The fact of the matter is the previous administration comprised perhaps the greatest collection of rogues, scoundrels and corporate criminals since the time of Herbert Hoover, but it matters not.
No matter what crimes were committed, no matter how badly the Constitution was shredded, no matter how many ‘black suites’ or Guantanamo’s, they know that they are immune.
Their impeachment argument was ‘off the table’ : now, any real prosecutions are.Â Â Why?Â Because that’s politics.
There’s a French saying: “Plus ca change….” “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”
–(c) ‘-9 Mumia Abu-Jamal
May 28, 2009 by Marc Lamont Hill
On Tuesday, President Obama formally announced his choice of Sonia Sotomayor to replace David Souter on the Supreme Court. The nomination, which should not come as a surprise to anyone familiar with Obamaâ€™s centrist politics, has quickly produced a range of feelings within the political community. While many on the Left have celebrated Obamaâ€™s choice of a Puerto Rican woman to the high court, Right-wingers have pegged the pick as the triumph of identity politics over merit. In many ways, such a debate is moot, as the Democratic advantage makes Sotomayor a virtual lock to be the courtâ€™s next Associate Justice.
While it is possible that Republicans will drag out the process in order to galvanize their base, such a move would be politically unwise. After all, it was the GOP that initially supported the bizarrely unqualified Harriet Miers, who never even served as a judge, for the Supreme Court. If they were now to challenge the qualifications of an Ivy League-trained Latina, their efforts would rightly appear hypocritical and politically motivated. Also, if prominent Republicans amplify the baseless rumblings about Sotomayorâ€™s â€œintellectâ€ and â€œtemperament,â€ they will undoubtedly alienate progressive and minority voters who will view the comments (rightly or wrongly) as both racist and sexist. Even if they actually blocked her nomination, Obama would not nominate a more moderate judge than Sotomayor as a replacement. So why expend precious political capital fighting a war that they cannot win?
Getting lost in our conversations about politics and identity is an equally important discussion about the fundamental role of the judiciary branch. Currently, courts are filled with jurists whose dogged fundamentalism undermines the true spirit of the constitution. By operating as â€œconstitutional originalistsâ€ and â€œstatutory textualists,â€ judges have been become allies to some of the most anti-democratic and anti-humanist policies in recent memory. Perhaps the most telling example is Justice Antonin Scaliaâ€™s narrow reading of the constitutional amendments related to cruel and unusual punishment and due process. By arguing that â€œenhanced interrogation techniquesâ€ (which is conservative slang for torture) do not violate the Eighth Amendment, Scalia willfully ignores the obvious need to link the original text to the contemporary context. In many ways, this will be the real test for Sotomayor. Will she understand the constitution as a living document to be read through the lens of empathy and critical analysis? Or will she flip the script as soon as she is confirmed? The answer to this question will determine whether or not the president made the right choice.
May 27, 2009 by Marc Lamont Hill
Peep the latest Obama parody… It’s pretty funny!
May 26, 2009 by Marc Lamont Hill
A nation of outraged lobster-boilers.
Punishing Vick for our crimes
By Shayne Lee
As Michael Vick was released from prison last week, pundits of every variety were hitting the airwaves. They were questioning whether the former star quarterback is truly repentant for his so-called morally reprehensible operation of a dogfighting ring.
In the spirit of this discussion, I would like to raise a basic question: What did Michael Vick do that is morally reprehensible?
Some of us forget that dogs are mere animals, and that animal mistreatment is as American as Apple iPods. Like Vick, most of us shamelessly abuse and kill animals.
Homemakers employ deadly rat traps and poisons to rid their dwellings of vermin. Chefs place live lobsters in pots of boiling water. Hunters shoot down animals in cold blood for mere sport.
In university labs nationwide, scientists inflict spinal-cord injuries on dogs and cats, inject rats with carcinogens, test dangerous drugs on monkeys, and do all kinds of evil things to guinea pigs in the name of scientific research.
Americans systematically exploit and kill animals – sometimes for scientific progress; sometimes for leather jackets, ham sandwiches, or horse-racing.
So why is one type of animal cruelty (dogfighting) more reprehensible than another (lobster-boiling)?
If you are a non-meat-eating, non-leather-wearing, non-shampoo-using, animal-rights activist for PETA, then it is not hypocritical to judge Vick for animal abuse. But the rest of us rat-killing, horse-racing, lobster-boiling, deer-hunting carnivores should take the planks out of our eyes before trying to remove the speck from Vick’s.
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