ChickenBones: A Journal
for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes
I believe, Barack, that after following your erring way, you find yourself in a maze,
unable to find the exit and you are burying yourself more and more in violence,
devoured by the domination of power, and you think you possess all the power
anyone could have, and that the world is at the feet of the USA. So large are
the atrocities committed by different US governments in the world
From Nobel to Nobel: A Letter to Barack Obama
20 May 2011
In addressing you I do so fraternally, and at the same time, to express my concern and indignation after seeing the destruction and death caused in several nations in the name of freedom and democracy, two words which have been twisted and stripped of meaning. They end up justifying murder, and is cheered on as if it were a sports event.
Indignation at the attitude of some parts of the US population, of heads of state in Europe and other countries who came out in support of the assassination of bin Laden, and by your complacency in the name of supposed justice. You didnt look to seize and judge him for his alleged crimes, which generates more doubts. The objective was to assassinate him.
The dead are mute, and the fear of the accused who could disclose inconvenient facts for the USA, was turned into assassination, to ensure that the death of the dog would end the madness, without considering that you have only increased it.
When you were granted the Nobel Prize, of which we are holders, I sent you a letter which read: Barack, I was very surprised by your having been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, but now that you have it, you must use it in the service of peace among peoples, you have all the possibilities of doing it, to end the wars and begin correcting the severe crisis in your own country and the world.
Unfortunately, you have increased hatred and betrayed the principles assumed during your electoral campaign before your people, such as ending the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, closing the prisons in Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib in Iraq. But on the contrary, you decided to start another war against Libya, backed up by NATO, and the shameful resolution of the UN to support you, when this high organisation, diminished and without its own mind, has lost its path and has been subjugated to the whims and interests of the dominant powers.
The foundational premise of the UN is the defence and promotion of peace and dignity among peoples. Its Preamble begins saying: We, the peoples of the world now absent from this organization.
I would like to recall a mystic and teacher who has had a great influence in my life: Trapist monk Thomas Merton of the Gethsemane Abbey in Kentucky, who said The greatest necessity of our time is to clean the enormous mass of mental and emotional garbage which blocks our minds and converts all public and social life into a disease of the masses. Without this domestic cleaning we cant begin to see. If we cant see, we cant think.
Barack you were very young during the Vietnam War, perhaps you dont remember the struggle of North American people to oppose the war. I have shared and accompanied the veterans of the Vietnam War, in particular Brian Wilson and his companions who were victims of this wars and of all wars.
Thomas Merton, analysing a stamp postmark which had just arrived saying The U.S. Army, key to peace (El ejercito U.S., clave de la paz) said:
No army is the key to peace. No nation has the key to anything which is not war. Power has nothing to do with peace. The more men increase military power, the more they violate peace and destroy it
We should protect LIFE to leave future generations a more just and fraternal society, re-establishing equilibrium with Mother Earth. If we dont react to change the current situation of suicidal arrogance which is dragging peoples down, it will be very hard to come out and see the light. Humanity deserves a better fate.
You know, hope is like the flower which grows in the mud and blossoms in all its splendour, showing its beauty. Leopoldo Marechal, the great Argentine writer, said that: You get out the maze via the top.
I believe, Barack, that after following your erring way, you find yourself in a maze, unable to find the exit and you are burying yourself more and more in violence, devoured by the domination of power, and you think you possess all the power anyone could have, and that the world is at the feet of the USA. So large are the atrocities committed by different US governments in the world It is a sad reality, but there is also the resistance of peoples who do not capitulate before the powerful.
Bin Laden, alleged author of the attack of the Twin Towers, has been made the devil incarnate who terrorised the world, identified as the axis of evil and this has served you to wage the wars that the military industrial complex needs to place its products of death.
You should not ignore that researchers of the tragedy of September 11 have declared that the attacks were in many ways self-inflicted, such as the crash of a plane into the Pentagon and the prior evacuation of the Towers; an attack which provided a motive to launch the war against Iraq and Afghanistan and now against Libya; arguing based on the lie that all is done to save peoples in the name of freedom and the defence of democracy. And cynically stating that the deaths of women and children are collateral damage.
The word is devoid of values and meaning. You dub assassination death and finally the US has killed bin Laden. I am not in any way defending bin Laden, I am against all terrorism, by both these armed groups and the terrorism of the State which your government exercises in various parts of the world, supporting dictators, imposing military bases and armed intervention, using violence to maintain yourself via terror at the hub of world power. Is there only one axis of evil?
Peace is a practice of life in relations between persons and among peoples; it is a challenge to humanitys consciousness. Its path is difficult, daily and hopeful; where people build from their own lives and their own history. Peace cant be gifted, it is built. And this is what youre missing lad, courage to assume the historical responsibility with your people and with humanity.
You cannot live in the labyrinth of fear and control, ignoring international treaties, pacts and protocols of governments which are signed and then transgressed once and again.
How can you speak of peace if you dont want to honour anything, except in the interests of your country?
How can you talk about freedom when you keep innocent people in the prisons of Guantanamo, in the USA, in Iraq and in Afghanistan?
How can you speak of human rights and the dignity of peoples when you perpetually violate them and block those who dont share your ideology and must endure your abuses?
How can you send military forces to Haiti after a devastating earthquake, instead of humanitarian aid to that suffering people?
How can you speak of freedom if you massacre the peoples in the Middle East and foster endless conflict which bleeds the Palestinians and Israelis?
Barack: Try to look at your maze from above; you may find the star that guides you, even knowing you can never reach it, as Eduardo Galeano said so well. Try to be consistent between what you say and do, its the only way to not lose the path. Its a challenge of life. The Nobel Peace Prize is a tool at the service of the peoples, never for personal vanity.
I wish you much strength and hope, and we hope you will have the courage to correct your path and find wisdom and Peace.
Adolfo Pérez Esquivel was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He studied in the National School of Fine Arts of Buenos Aires (Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes de Buenos Aires) and in the National University of La Plata. He was a teacher until he was dismissed during the military dictatorship in Argentina (1976).
In 1974 he was appointed the Latin American General Coordinator of the groups and movements concerned about the situation in their own countries. Their aim is to develop common policies and courses of action in dealing with violence and oppression, and to implement alternatives and solutions amidst the growing oppressed sectors of society.
Since the Argentine military coup detat in 1976, Pérez Esquivel has become involved in the organization of committees for the defense of human rights and has provided relief to the injured families. That is how Madres de Plaza de Mayo, Abuelas de Plaza de May, the Permanent Assembly for Human Rights, the Movement for the Recovery of kidnapped and missing Children, among others, originated.
In August 1976, he was arrested, imprisoned and tortured without a trial. During his imprisonment, he received the Juan XXIII Memorial Peace Prize granted by the International Pax Cristi, among other international awards, and in 1980 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of the contribution he had made for the defense of human rights.
Together with other Nobel Prize winners, Pérez Esquivel contributed with numerous international missions and campaigns in the solution of conflicts.Archive
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By Adolfo Perez Esquivel and Matt Meyer
Within every society there are people who, at great personal risk and sacrifice, stand up and fight for the most marginalized among us. We call these people of courage, spirit and love, our heroes and heroines. This book is the story of the ones in our midst. It is the story of the best we are.Asha Bandele, poet and author of The Prisoner’s Wife As a convicted felon, I have been prevented from visiting many people in prison today. But none of us should be stopped from the vital work of prison abolition and freeing the many who the U.S. holds for political reasons. Let Freedom Ring helps make their voices heard, and presents strategies to help win their release.Daniel Berrigan SJ, former Plowshares political prisoner and member of the FBI Top Ten Wanted List.
Contributors include Mumia Abu-Jamal, Dan Berger, Dhoruba Bin-Wahad, Bob Lederer, Terry Bisson, Laura Whitehorn, Safiya Bukhari, The San Francisco 8, Angela Davis, Bo Brown, Bill Dunne, Jalil Muntaqim, Susie Day, Luis Nieves Falcon, Ninotchka Rosca, Meg Starr, Assata Shakur, Jill Soffiyah Elijah, Jan Susler, Chrystos, Jose Lopez, Leonard Peltier, Marilyn Buck, and many more.
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By Manning Marable
Years in the making-the definitive biography of the legendary black activist. Of the great figure in twentieth-century American history perhaps none is more complex and controversial than Malcolm X. Constantly rewriting his own story, he became a criminal, a minister, a leader, and an icon, all before being felled by assassins’ bullets at age thirty-nine. Through his tireless work and countless speeches he empowered hundreds of thousands of black Americans to create better lives and stronger communities while establishing the template for the self-actualized, independent African American man. In death he became a broad symbol of both resistance and reconciliation for millions around the world.
Manning Marable’s new biography of Malcolm is a stunning achievement. Filled with new information and shocking revelations that go beyond the Autobiography, Malcolm X unfolds a sweeping story of race and class in America, from the rise of Marcus Garvey and the Ku Klux Klan to the struggles of the civil rights movement in the fifties and sixties.
Reaching into Malcolm’s troubled youth, it traces a path from his parents’ activism through his own engagement with the Nation of Islam, charting his astronomical rise in the world of Black Nationalism and culminating in the never-before-told true story of his assassination. Malcolm X will stand as the definitive work on one of the most singular forces for social change, capturing with revelatory clarity a man who constantly strove, in the great American tradition, to remake himself anew.
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By Michael Grunwald
Time senior correspondent Michael Grunwald tells the secret history of the stimulus bill, the purest distillation of Change We Can Believe In, a microcosm of Obamas policy successes and political failures. Though it is reviled by the right and rejected by the left, it really is a new New Deal, larger than FDRs and just as transformative. It prevented an imminent depression, while jump-starting Obamas long-term agenda. The stimulus is pouring $90 billion into clean energy, reinventing the way America is powered and fueled; it includes unprecedented investments in renewables, efficiency, electric cars, a smarter grid, cleaner coal, and more. Its carrying health care into the digital era. Its Race to the Top initiative may be the boldest education reform in U.S. history. It produced the biggest middle-class tax cuts in a generation, a broadband initiative reminiscent of rural electrification, and an overhaul of the New Deals unemployment insurance system. Its revamping the way government addresses homelessness, fixes infrastructure, and spends money.
Grunwald reveals how Republicans have obscured these achievements through obstruction and distortion. The stimulus launched a genuine national comeback. It also saved millions of jobs, while creating legacies that could rival the Hoover Dam: the worlds largest wind farm, a new U.S. battery industry, a new high-speed rail network, the worlds highest-speed Internet network. Its main legacy, like the New Deals, will be change.
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From The World and Africa, 1965
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posted 24 May 2011