Category POLITICS

Detention & Deception

The Guantanamo Files & American Human Rights Hypocrisy

“The first step to reclaiming America’s standing in the world has to be closing” the Guantánamo Bay detention facility, President Obama declared in a 2008 campaign pamphlet, before promising to do just that. International leaders and an official United Nations report have called on the United States to close the prison, citing human rights abuses. Scores of GTMO detainees have been tortured, few made it to military tribunals, and almost none were awarded a civilian trial, let alone compensation after their eventual release.

Since its foundation in 2002, the Cuban-based detention camp has been an emblem of the War on Terror’s worst erosions of civil liberties, an icon of America’s moral degradation, and a crucial talking point for critics of American foreign policy around the world. So the international community generally lauded Obama’s election, and his promise to close the site, excited for a new era of justice and moral awakening. Three years later, however, the notorious prison is still open, still caging nearly 200 people who may never see a trial, and still a symbol of America’s disastrous disregard for human rights under the endless, sprawling War on Terror.

KD Interviewed

A few months ago, we were fortunate enough to sit down with Kevin Devine.

Listen in to to hear some wise words from an honest, thoughtful, and well-read artist.

State Dept. Diplomat Silenced by Crowley’s Firing

On Wednesday, March 30, Thomas Armbruster, State Department Diplomat-in-Residence for the Greater New York Area, joined Secret Service Special Agent James Haines and federal government intern Michael Stallone on a panel at The College of New Jersey entitled “Jobs in Federal Government.”

Following the discussion, Armbruster was asked for his take on WikiLeaks’ cablegate document trove, which included one of his own cables, and alleged whistleblower Bradley Manning’s treatment. He discussed both advantages and problems with the leaked State Dept. logs, but was starkly silent regarding the imprisoned Army Private.

LIBYAN VIOLENCE

 

Key Libyan Cities

 

Muammar al-Gaddafi – the world’s current longest serving non-monarchical leader in the world, having ruled Libya since seizing power in a 1969 coup – vowed on Feb. 15 to fight anti-government demonstrations with his “last drop” of blood, intending to “die a martyr.”

With the dictator ordering both the military and police to quash protests within Libya, the full-scale war against reformists began.

EGYPTIAN REVOLUTION

Illustration by Jess Baker

On Friday, February 12, Egyptians took their country back. After 18 days of revolt, it was the first in 30 years without Hosni Mubarak, one of the most powerful dictators in the region, and a man who just hours before resigning had defiantly declared he would see out the rest of his term. With his resignation, Mubarak met protesters’ demands to dissolve Parliament on February 13th, promising to return authority to civilian, democratically elected rule. As of this writing, The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces holds authority.

WikiLeaks, Part 1 – Background & Legitimacy

WikiLeaks is publishing documents, opening governments, changing the world.

In early 2007, Australia native Julian Assange launched the polarizing website along with other activists, dissidents, mathematicians, and computer experts from six different continents.

WikiLeaks vows to accept “restricted or censored material of political, ethical, diplomatic or historical significance,” but reject “rumor, opinion, other kinds of first hand accounts, or material that is publicly available elsewhere.” Assange and his colleagues then review and edit submissions, attained via secure online uploading applications and a discreet postal network, to publish documents that generate “maximum political impact.”Assange has pithily summarized WikiLeaks’ philosophy: “The method is transparency; the goal is justice.”

WikiLeaks, Part 2 – Media Analysis

How Free is our Press?

WikiLeaks promises their anonymous, whistle-blowing sources that they will work for “maximum political impact.” Like them or not, they keep their word. The transnational transparency-advocating journalists stormed American and international discourse by publishing secret diplomatic cables. America responded. Some consider WikiLeaks heroic, daring to speak truth to power, and some consider the organization terroristic, threatening to undermine American diplomacy worldwide.

Constitutional lawyer and civil liberties writer Glenn Greenwald, for Salon.com, finds public reactions quite disturbing.

WikiLeaks, Part 3 – Interview with FAIR

Interview with Steve Rendall, Senior Analyst for Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) on WikiLeaks and American reactions to the U.S. diplomatic cable release.

Is WikiLeaks a journalistic entity?
Well of course it is, because it receives information, it collects information, it publishes information, it edits it. If you look at its website, information is edited, it’s commented upon. Of course it’s a journalistic outfit.

GREEN & YELLOW, BLACK & BLUE

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker

You might ask yourself, as one does from time to time, “What’s going on in the world right now?” I recommend you check out what’s going on in Bahrain and Libya especially because there are a lot of pictures of people burned to death or with their brains lying next to them and it’s super fucked up. There are, however, some pretty important things going on right here on the home-front, also; for instance, the shit going down right now in Wisconsin, where government employees are protesting the governor’s plan to fuck them over.

On face, this is a question of balancing the state budget in Wisconsin. The question is, “Should Wisconsin balance its budget by making state workers take a hit to their pensions and health care plans?”

Obama’s Occupations

In the 2010 midterm elections, Democrat Mike McIntyre won reelection over Tea Party Republican Ilario Pantano, who served in Iraq with the Marine Corps, in North Carolina’s 7th Congressional District. Second lieutenant Ilario Pantano openly admits and legitimizes his participation in the 2005 fatal point-blank shooting of two Iraqis, who on his campaign website he describes as “terrorists.”
Obama's War
The two Iraqis were executed at a detention point near Falluja, where Pantano emptied the clip of his M16A4 into these two men, then reloaded and emptied another fresh clip into their bodies — already corpses –totalling nearly 60 shots fired. A later search of the Iraqis’ truck revealed no weapons. Pantano adorned the corpses with a placard bearing the Marine Core motto: “No better friend, No worse enemy.”

Military judges dropped all charges against Pantano due to “insufficient evidence,” despite witnesses claiming the two detainees were non-threats and were kneeling on the ground prior to the shooting.

Pantano was honorably discharged and proceeded to run for Congress. McIntyre avoided both the murders and Pantano’s belief that the Park51 community center planned for New York City represents Islamic “religious, ideological and territorial conquest” of the West.

These issues of murder and anti-Islamic hate were largely sidestepped in the election, downplayed in media coverage of the campaign.

The anti-war movement in the United States is lying dormant.

Call to Democrats, Rerouted

RESPONSE TO – Secretary of College Democrats Speaks Out

The main thrust of Dave Chapman’s opinion is that the midterm “shellacking” should be a wake-up call for Democrats, who are in serious danger in 2012 — and I agree. It would be difficult, however, for me to disagree more about what course of action this wake-up call demands.

The narrative of the jumbled Democratic docket is a myth that no liberal of any color should perpetuate; the left-center caucus did in fact tackle the economy first. Further, they tried to work with Republicans. Econ 102 and the past 100 years of history validate Obama’s fiscal stimulus as the best move toward “making conditions conducive to job creation.” However, Republicans made it clear from day one that fixing the economy was not “something that both parties wanted” — the anemic stimulus was too watered down by the other side of the aisle to have the desired affect, although economists generally agree that it prevented the economy from slipping into further decline. While some may argue that Keynesian economics are “divisive” and even “socialist”, the right’s only solution was more tax cuts (those worked well under Bush, right?), which economists now know are relatively ineffective compared to a stimulus.

Cease All Settlements

RESPONSE TO — Partners in Peace?

David Michelson pointedly inquires why Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should extend the freeze on settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

There are three good reasons for doing so:

  1. The settlements are illegal under international law.

Partners in Peace?

Israel exists and will continue to exist only until Islam obliterates it. The Day of Judgment will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews, killing the Jews, when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.” (The Hamas Charter)

Israeli-Palestinian peace talks — launched amidst a 10-month halt on construction of new Israeli settlements in the West Bank — came to a screeching halt on September 26 as the moratorium expired. Palestinian leaders say that peace talks cannot continue unless Israel extends its settlement freeze, or drafts a new one altogether. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is not inclined to do so — not without major enticements from the Obama Administration. And why should he be? What happened the last time Israel agreed to give up its settlements for the promise of peace in negotiations orchestrated by an American President?

One Nation March

Fighting for What’s Right (and Against the Right)

There are not many opportunities in a lifetime when a person’s hope for humanity is restored. When trapped in a hailstorm of bigotry, hate speech, political and corporate greed, and bla- tant media lies, it becomes difficult to hope to be rescued from the quicksand. In a society willing to spend more on locking up the bodies of youths than on educating and opening minds, this generation is growing disillusioned with contemporary polity. It is easy to feel like a small, garbled voice lost in the furor of a bustling city and lose the motivation to fight back.

On October 2nd, tens of thousands of small voices turned into a voice greater than could be imagined (or, at the very least, greater than the voices of Glenn Beck’s rally!).

The One Nation Working Together march was a rally of thousands — of unions, organizations, and student groups —

marching to put America back to work, demanding good jobs, equal justice, and quality public education for all. Despite this main goal, the vision of the march was whatever the attend- ees made of it. Topics from LGBTQ rights to Palestinian lib- eration were displayed on the myriad signs of the marchers.

It’s never too late to stand up and fight the Right. With a voice as powerful as the one that bellowed on October 2nd, I don’t doubt that victory lies in our future. We come from all ethnic backgrounds, faiths or non-faiths, sexual orientations, gen- der identities, nationalities, races, immigration statuses and abilities; and we demand a society of equality — a society with liberty and justice for ALL, not some. Stand up now and fight for full equality — liberty and justice not for some, but for all.

BY NAT SOWINSKI

SELF HATING WHO?!

In last month’s edition of The Perspective, I published a blurb which praised the Obama administration’s recent firm stance on Israeli settlement expansion. I did not explicitly criticize the State of Israel – but merely suggested the Obama administration’s relatively nuanced stance on Israel could have positive ramifications in the pursuit of Middle East peace.

After reading the quarter-page blurb, a key figure in the Jewish campus community believed he had adequate evidence to state, “There’s nothing worse than a self-hating Jew.”

In response to those who would label Jewish supporters of Obama’s Israel policy as “self-hating,” I would like to call your attention to a recent Haaretz poll. The poll, released on April 13, found that 73% of American Jews agree with Obama’s policy towards Israel – characterizing relations between Israel and the U.S. as “positive” or “very positive.” Do three out of four American Jews hate themselves?

I will not delve into the multitude of reasons why this individuals’ snarky comment about me is absurd, but will instead use it as an opportunity to elaborate on the message of last month’s blurb. Pejoratives like “self-hating Jew” or “anti-Semite” are representative of the exact issue I wished to address in the article.

Until it is acknowledged that an individual can oppose an Israeli government policy—which happens to be illegal under international law—and not be anti-Semitic, no substantive progress can be made in peace processes in the Middle East.

The dialogue surrounding the Israel-Palestine conflict is so crippled by taboo, it is impossible to hold any sort of meaningful discussion on the matter without being accused of either ignorance or hatred.

The blurb was intended to give credit to President Obama for not caving into the fear of being labeled an “anti-Semite” by some fringe hard-lined Zionists. I encourage others to follow suit, and not be afraid to stand openly against unjust Israeli policy.

Editor’s Note: Glenn Eisenberg is also known as Glenn Eisenblurb

FIGHTBACK TCNJ

We all know, cuts abound: money continues to be surreptitiously funneled away from public education reserves, putting desperate strain on K-12 school districts throughout the state, as well as on our own college. So where has all the aid gone? Yes, everything is being cut – ostensibly because New Jersey is trying to close an $11 billion budget deficit.

Troublesome economic times call for more careful prioritization of public funds, not aimless dismantling of any conceivable program. Education – an indispensable investment in the future – should be the last stock from which to divest.

In this spirit, a coalition of students, faculty, union leaders, college staff, and parents have joined to form FIGHT BACK TCNJ, an advocacy group aiming to build a democratic, grassroots, activist movement in defense of public education and in opposition to Governor Chris Christie’s budget cuts. Awareness, discussion and support is mediated largely through its interactive web site, FIGHTBACKTCNJ.org.

Their first major initiative was a “teach-in” on April 21, an educational event intended to increase awareness of ongoing class-oriented struggles that have culminated in Gov. Christie’s unprecedented withdrawal of state education funding.

Why care? To assume that everything will be accounted for would be naïve; to assume we can have no impact on the policy-making process is only more so. Having money is the only way to make our values correspond with concrete services and activities – whether we like or not, money is the privilege to do things.

Many of the College’s programs will inevitably have to go, and student groups face a voting process to determine what TCNJ can afford to keep. This may not be the worst of all consequences,and college students may not feel the full force of the financial burden now, but the old strategy of divide and conquer is at work.

The reality is that this burden is merely being paddled back and forth; right now high schools face the deepest cuts, but in years past higher education bore the brunt of the burden. Rather than disregard the severity and relevance of current cuts for K-12 schools and playing into the government’s stratagem, it is imperative that New Jerseyans unite to defend public education. A strong showing of elementary and secondary education majors attended the sessions, but they should not be the only ones to care about the welfare of the future. April 21 was an all-day kickoff of five sessions and an evening plenary designed to understand current budget woes within the context of a broader social narrative.

First session speaker, Trina Scordo, introduced us to the theoretical and historical basis for the existence of unions. I’ll admit I never allotted much thought to or care for unions. As far as I was concerned, they simply exist; you join a profession, you join the corresponding union – standard operating procedure. However, many people are rightfully suspicious of unions. Scordo addressed this distrust and how it came about when the bargaining process was formalized. In stuffing the working class into suits and setting them opposite the table from business officials, the working class should expect the unfortunate results – no concessions from higher-ups. Once union representatives enmesh themselves too deeply in the process, they become removed from the constituents they are supposed to represent.

But she asked us instead why, rather than being angry at government employees who receive good benefits and pensions, as Christie is encouraging the public to do, we don’t make demands and work for ourselves: for better education and better benefits? A striking point, she made. Truth is, we are tentative to make demands; the concept of “to each his due” comes under fire. What one deserves by right (as opposed to what one is entitled to by merit) conflicts with the individualism and capitalist ethic, which America holds by the claws. It is not something I could easily let go, but working from an agreed rather than decreed baseline is an attractive idea.

Students have the right to demand the highest quality teachers and professors; however, it is difficult to reform a system that does not take student complaints seriously. The session revealed the relevance of unions and how students can harness their voices. The process of how we are allowed to make change says just as much, if not more, about how much leverage we really have.

One of the second session pairs was a throwback to the 1960s: lessons from movements. One student brought up the hippie culture associated with the activism of which we tend to think – what came first, the culture or the reform? Second opinions emerged from faculty as to which historical organizations best represent the current situation and if they failed, how and why. Here’s an easy SparkNotes version: activism spreads when people who care about one issue are apt to see the struggles of another group. Every issue relates in some way to nearly every other issue, and the synergy created by individuals and groups working collaboratively makes for substantial accomplishments on all fronts. No lecture attendance necessary.

Students don’t have the power to shut anything down in order to prove a point, but they have always been the passion behind a tired work force that can do so. Even there we may be proving them wrong with recent high school walkouts – hello, empowerment.

Reactions are proof; Michael Drewniak, Gov. Christie’s press secretary, hoped to dismiss the walkouts as “motivated by youthful rebellion or spring fever – and not by encouragement from any one-sided view of the current budget crisis in New Jersey,” and said students “belong in the classroom.”

Governor Chris Christie was no more pleased: “The schools did a lousy job in really permitting…students to walk out in the middle of the school day. Their parents send them there not to protest.; they send them there to learn. And I have no problem with students protesting. They have absolutely every right to exercise their first amendment rights. But they should exercise their first amendment rights either before school or right after school.”

Drewniak wasn’t wrong, and said himself, “Students would be better served if they were given a full, impartial understanding of the problems that got us here in the first place.” Why are the details of the budget cuts, then, not more public than they are?

Gov. Christie has a point, students are sent to school to learn; but what drove scores of high school students to walk out on their classes? One might consider that they saw walkouts during the school day as more effective than before or after-school rallies. Regardless, having to demand an explanation for the budget cuts is as good as hiding it, and protesting in such a manner casts doubt on the willingness of school systems to listen.

Drewniak seemed to suspect students were motivated by a biased, narrow-minded understanding, and it feels that students have somehow been pitted against the rest of the state. Yet the 15 sheer scope of the budget crisis should be regarded as the real problem.

The remaining attendees gathered in the Social Science Atrium after dinner for a small but powerful rally cry to close the divide between students, faculty, and legislators. Nearing the end of the night, senior Matt Hoke made an interesting point: colleges and other institutions churn students out to replace the infrastructure of the country as we know it.

We as students are both customers and products of schools; then why are we paying so much money – money we have no power over – if the stability of the work world depends on us equally as we do on it?

The origin of unions may not appear relevant, yet as one of the last session speakers, Nagesh Rao, said, “You can’t take a snapshot of how things are today without looking at where things are and how they got there.” We may just be in the same predicament as those workers today. It may not be a comfortable thought, but there is a lesson to be learned: stagnant apathy is no way to work toward a better status quo.

I noticed during this finale, a few onlookers leaning over the second floor balcony with cool removal, crossed feet and suited, presumably for another event. I became aware of the disconnect, and it took me out of the teach-in’s warm enclave. I am sure that they only heard something about unions and students among the echoes of shouts. I am not even sure if the thought that the ensuing noise pertained to them, had even crossed their minds. Whatever your views, watch your allocation of funds, and you may be able to return to business as usual.

This Land is My Land!

Arizona’s recent passage of a new law that enables police officers to act as immigration control agents has sparked racially charged activism and debate around the country about who has the right to exist on this land. However, despite arguments over the constitutionality or cost-benefits of the law, very little has been said about the root causes of human migration. If the proponents of this bill truly want to halt undocumented immigration, it will not be through a law criminalizing movement; they need to critically examine the effects of foreign policy, particularly the economic policies between the United States and Mexico that leave many Mexicans no better option than to make the dangerous trek into the American Southwest.

Recent global adherence to free-market capitalism has not led to the prosperity of all people, as promised. In fact, the opposite has occurred–in countries with weaker economies, the dismantling of borders and opening of markets to foreign investment and ownership by way of lowered or absent tariffs effectively killed domestic businesses which cannot compete with large multinational corporations.

Mexican farmers who are unable to offer prices lower than American and Canadian agro-corporations are forced out of agriculture and aren’t able to move to another sector. Mexican peasants and working class, increasingly unemployed as foreign industry’s advantageous position outcompetes domestic industry, are forced to contribute to the plight of their countrymen as they buy the cheaper, foreign produced products and foodstuffs. In Mexico, where there is now little opportunity for work or sustainable wages, those negatively affected by free-market economics move into the ranks of the permanently unemployed, many times in rapidly urbanizing areas, or to the migratory life of a seasonal worker. Or they attempt the move to America where there exists some semblance of an opportunity to carve out a life for themselves.

Despite Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s assessment of the Arizona bill, which he says will “open the door to racial discrimination,” he has not addressed the conditions or unequal trade agreements like NAFTA that leave Mexican citizens little choice but to emigrate. Mexican immigration to the U.S. would seriously halt if opportunity within their homeland existed for impoverished people, but under the present conditions, the development of a viable Mexican economic infrastructure is hampered by competition with the U.S. and Canada as established by free-market economics and structural adjustment policies. Both the U.S. and Canada could work to dismantle free-market agreements like NAFTA, but why would they if they benefit from the terms of the agreement? The daily comforts and low prices American and Canadian citizens enjoy come at a heavy price – one that is implicitly Third World, and in this case Mexican.

If we seek a considerate response to immigration, we as United States citizens need to look at the effects of our actions on people around the world. We cannot allow jingoistic, anti-immigrant Americans to monopolize the debate about immigration around “protecting what is ours” or “keeping this an English-speaking country.” I don’t feel most Mexicans are enthusiastic about leaving their families and native homeland to travel to a country where they will experience language barriers, social segregation, and in most cases little job security and illegally low wages. It is not acceptable to turn a blind eye to the plight of these courageous people because they’re willing to work for cheap; that’s monstrously inhumane and casts Mexicans as more important as workers than they are as human beings.

What is necessary is a disavowal of privilege from First World nations to dictate the terms of other nation’s economies. When we can begin to identify as human beings–and not along borders of socially constructed nationalities–we can begin to acknowledge that we are all members of the human race deserved of equal treatment and opportunity, regardless of our country of origin.

We need to critically examine the effects of free-market economic policies disseminated by the U.S. abroad and understand that all of us, through our purchasing power and democratic right to demand action by our government, are part of the process contributing to undocumented immigration.

RESPONSE TO HUCKABEE STATEMENT

It is unfortunate that in the wake of his interview with The Perspective, Gov. Mike Huckabee has resorted to ad hominem attacks intended to cast doubt upon our credibility as a publication. This sort of desperate tactic is not surprising, however; politicians in damage-control mode often stoop to attacking the media so they might avoid being accountable for the substance of their remarks.

It is telling that nowhere in his statement did Huckabee suggest he was misquoted in the article, and rightfully so; we have the audio and transcripts to prove that everything reported is accurate.

Huckabee’s problem seems to lie more in the focus of the article, which is centered partially on LGBT issues. We feel that same-sex marriage, laws prohibiting gays and lesbians from adopting children, and ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ are legitimate policy concerns about which to question national political figures. Gov. Huckabee may disagree.

But regardless, his words speak for themselves, and it is a shame that he is now so quickly embarrassed of them.

Further, Huckabee’s claim that he defended RNC Chairman Michael Steele is simply not true.

Have a listen. (Things are a bit out of order — in the interest of getting this out there, we had to improvise.)

If you can tell what was “grossly distorted,” please let us know.

M. C. Tracey
Editor-in-Chief


Original Video- More videos at TinyPic

Huckabee Rips Steele, Romney, LGBT Activists

Calls Romney’s Healthcare Plan “Dismal Failure,” Compares Same-Sex Marriage to Incest

UPDATE: PERSPECTIVE RESPONDS TO HUCKABEE CLAIM THAT HIS VIEWS WERE ‘GROSSLY DISTORTED’ IN ARTICLE (4.13.10)

In an interview Wednesday, former Arkansas governor and Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee weighed in on embattled Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, slammed his potential 2012 presidential primary rival Mitt Romney, and reiterated strong opposition to same-sex marriage and the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.’

FRESHMEN TAKE A STAND (SORT OF)

A PERSPECTIVE POLL

Can you name the current governor of New Jersey? How about the Secretary of Defense? When it comes to some of this era’s most contentious social issues, where do you stand?

In an attempt to take a snapshot of political and social values among the College’s freshman class, The Perspective surveyed eighty-five random residents of Wolfe Hall in early March. Participants remained anonymous.

BRIAN R. HACKETT SPEAKS AT CPAC

TCNJ’s own Brian R. Hackett, senior political science major and former College Republicans chairman, addressed the annual CPAC convention in Washington, D.C. on Friday, February 19. Hackett was selected to appear alongside other young conservative activists from around the country. 

MERCER COUNTY SHERIFF KEVIN LARKIN MUST RESIGN

Mercer County Sheriff Kevin Larkin has betrayed the public trust, and must resign from office.

Reports indicate that the sheriff interrupted a political science class at nearby Mercer County Community College when he learned that the professor, Michael Glass, made remarks about him that Larkin claimed were erroneous.

COLLEGE DEMOCRATS DIVIDED

Having missed the last few College Democrats meetings, David Chapman was surprised to learn that the group had voted to no longer actively support Jon Corzine in the upcoming gubernatorial election. But despite the unexpected revocation, Corzine/Weinberg signs still hang

THE GOOD, THE BAD, & THE THIRD PARTY


Boris Spektor Illustration of Three New Jersey Gubernatorial Candidates

Illustration by Boris Spektor

As New Jersey’s gubernatorial contest draws to a long-anticipated close, there are lessons to be learned from what has been another nauseating campaign season. We are not terribly surprised that the two major candidates, Jon Corzine and Chris Christie, have been relentless with their asinine attack ads and trivial barb-throwing. But we are surprised at how low they have stooped, and the extent to which they have disillusioned the New Jersey electorate.

Weinberg: I Relayed Concerns to Corzine

Sen. Weinberg, right, speaks with students after an event at TCNJ

Sen. Weinberg, right, speaks with students after an event at TCNJ


Sen. Loretta Weinberg, Gov. Jon Corzine’s running mate and Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor of New Jersey, personally voiced concerns to her running mate over their campaign’s use of negative advertising.