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Category Archives: Government Oppression

Federal Judge Blocks New Florida Law That Would Strip First Amendment Rights of Protesters – Center for Biological Diversity

Posted: September 10, 2021 at 5:34 am

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. A federal judge blocked a new Florida law today that sought to dramatically curtail free speech and the right to assembly and slash legal protections for protesters.

U.S. District Judge Mark Walker ruled that the measure is unconstitutional. Its vagueness permits those in power to weaponize its enforcement against any group who wishes to express any message that the government disapproves of, he wrote.

This decision lifts a massive weight off the shoulders of Floridians who stand united against government oppression, said Jaclyn Lopez, Florida director at the Center for Biological Diversity. Its a relief to see this law shut down so decisively thanks to the quick work of amazing advocates representing the Dream Defenders and the other plaintiffs.

Florida Senate Bill 484, filed by newly elected Sen. Danny Burgess (R-Tampa), and its companion bill, House Bill 1, filed by Rep. Juan Fernandez-Barquin (R-Miami), were proposed in January in response to Gov. Ron DeSantis call for lawmakers to limit protesters First Amendment rights to speech and assembly in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests.

The law, which was enjoined by Walker today, would:

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Government holds together best when citizens understand the actions of their leaders – Murray Ledger and Times

Posted: at 5:34 am

Before declaring independence, our early leaders took their aim with thoughts of liberty. It would be later that the concept of liberty would turn into a revolution against a feudal system that did not tolerate the freedom of knowledge and representative leadership of citizens.

John Adams argued extensively against a monarchy. Along with others, he reasoned that a government holds together best when citizens understand the responsibility of their leaders. He reasoned that Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people, who have a rightand a desire to know; but besides this, they have a right, an indisputable, unalienable, indefeasible, divine right to that most dreaded and envied kind of knowledge, I mean of the characters and conduct of their rulers, President Adams, 1765.

The Teaching American History Project, at the Ashbrook Center says it more concisely, wherever a general knowledge and sensibility have prevailed among the people, arbitrary government and every kind of oppression have lessened and disappeared in proportion. You can therefore conclude that a lack of knowledge for the purpose of accountability of leaders leads to oppression.

It appears there is zero accountability after the unfortunate happenstance of Novembers General Election where Democrats gained a majority, albeit a thin one, in each of the branches of the Federal Government. While the Supreme Court becomes a vestige of conservative Constitutional hope, the court itself is narrowly divided and various Constitutionalist justices have on occasion disappointed conservatives. At least its something.

Losing in Afghanistan, losing at the Mexican border, losing on the streets of major cities, losing domestic oil production, losing because of inflation, losing because of tax increases that will be enacted, and in general, losing our liberty as a result. So many losing scenarios with only eight months into the Biden administration and our one-sided Congress. It appears that arbitrary government is what we have inherited, that includes intentional reversals of working policies fostered and developed during the Trump administration.

But now, its a solo show, where many Americans have zero knowledge of what is really going on. The media plays a big part in this for sure. Media bias is troubling, you might say, widespread within our culture, and is saturated in the digital world targeting new generations. Liberal leaning networks and newspapers are plenty.

Positive conservative stories are shrugged off by the major networks and digital channels and give a pass when the news is bad for Democrats. Joe Concha, a conservative commentator on Fox News and a columnist with The Hill, says the top two newspapers in the country have a track record over the past 60 plus years of endorsing Democrats. The New York Times, the paper of record, has not endorsed a Republican presidential candidate since 1956. The Washington Post in its history has never endorsed a Republican presidential candidate.

Concha also shared a recent study by Axios, an online news organization, and Survey Monkey, a polling agency, that found 80% of independents think the new media either reports news that they know to be fake or false sometimes. Is this happening because the GOP is saying it, he concludes.

But its not just the content of a story covered, its stories that highlight Democrat failures or in broader terms actions for which they need to be held accountable. No mention of any challenges, or simply no coverage about a major issue that the people need to know, is the major issue.

In any event, a free society can only police the media by its audience. Turning off liberal channels, unsubscribing from posts and online platforms or cancelling subscriptions is the only form of silencing a media voice. We accept the good and the erroneous. Even though, erroneous reporting has consequences for government, often perpetuating bad behavior by elected officials.

For example, our military prowess and expertise is suffocating at the expense of insecure political leaders. Crime is escalating in major cities; police and prosecutors are turning their backs on those committing felonies; shootings and murder in Chicago are at record levels. Hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants have crossed the Mexican border and the current administration is transporting them to new living place around the nation. Not to mention, refugees from Afghanistan are awaiting home assignments.

Who will hold Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, and Chuck Schumer responsible for their actions these few months in office? Will citizens realize the damage they have done for our future? Ill leave that for you.

Editors Note: Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the editorial opinion of the Murray Ledger & Times.

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Government holds together best when citizens understand the actions of their leaders - Murray Ledger and Times

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OPINION: Women are oppressed by anti-abortion legislation – Red and Black

Posted: at 5:34 am

On Sept. 1, Texas passed a law banning any abortion after six weeks of pregnancy. This law makes the state of Texas the most restrictive in the nation on abortions.

With the Supreme Court hastily refusing to block the law from passing, many states are planning to launch similar legislation and Georgia is not far behind.

Many women find out they are pregnant after the sixth week has passed. As a mother myself, I found out I was pregnant at nine weeks.

How are women supposed to be supported medically if the law precludes them from abortion access before they even know they might need it?

Abortion is a highly controversial topic, but regardless of your political, religious or other personal views, the government should have no say over a citizens bodily autonomy.

The beauty of America is based upon the idea of a melting pot of ideas and cultures. Now, we are so polarized that people are highly offended by anyone who thinks differently than they do. The melting pot is fading and exclusiveness prevails.

Many peoples legal quarrel with abortion is based in their Christian faith. What about people who practice Buddhism, Islam, Judaism or any other religion? In America, there is supposed to be a place for everyone. There is not supposed to be a place for religion within our government, and certainly not deference to just one.

I will not say that I think it is right for a woman to have an abortion for just any reason.

I think a person needs to have a moral compass and responsibility for their actions. Individuals should not be able to have an egregious number of abortions without cause. There is a point where it moves from a genuine need to carelessness.

However, I understand and respect that abortions can be medically necessary.

Some women are victims of sexual assault. The Texas law makes no exceptions for pregnancies resulting from incest or rape, according to the New York Times, and allows private citizens to sue those attempting abortion.

Some women have life-threatening pregnancies or preexisting medical conditions. Some are told if the baby is carried to term the mother wont survive. Other times, the baby will not survive if carried to term.

Instead of granting women power over their bodies and health, the government is oppressing women who need access to safe abortions.

Women in need of health care will not stop seeking providers who are willing to risk their careers and lives to help.

Banning abortions will cause the injury and death of countless women who are refused care. Restrictive legislation does nothing but force women to turn to dangerous methods.

Methodsinclude but are not limited to: the use of sharp sticks inserted through the cervix and into the uterus; ingestion of toxic substances like bleach, herbal mixtures inserted into the vagina or infliction of trauma like hitting the abdomen or falling.

You can find more details about these horrific practices due to the lack of health carehere.

According to Doctors Without Borders, unsafe abortion is one of the top five causes of maternal mortality: more than 22,000 women and girls die annually from dangerous methods of abortion.

The lives of these women and girls could be saved if the government did not limit their access to needed care.

We are in a crucial period for womens rights. States are attempting to fully overturn Roe v. Wade.

Restrictive access to abortions is one of the most impactful injustices against women. The United States is transforming from a nation of bodily freedom to a nation of bodily oppression.

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OPINION: Women are oppressed by anti-abortion legislation - Red and Black

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Afghan refugees need help. Will the U.S. again fall short? – The Bucknellian

Posted: at 5:34 am

The Talibans quick rise to control in Afghanistan was a surprise for much of the watching world. Less of a surprise, however, are the abiding fears of human rights abuses and conflict in the country which just saw the end of a 20-year war. Female, LGBTQ+, and religious minority voices had a rare opportunity to flourish under the previous Western-friendly Afghan Republic. However, under Afghanistans new (and old) government, their calls to the international community for support have been overwhelming. In the face of these terrifying realities, the United States should take the diplomatic initiative and help ensure that Afghan dissidents can safely escape the Talibans governance.

Here, I am not commenting on the Biden administrations justification for the nature of the U.S. militarys departure, nor the Bush administrations reasons for invasion in the first place. Those actions are history now. United States withdrawal, and Taliban control, is the current situation a diplomatic, sociopolitical and cultural minefield which the international community must now work around. That is, the political occupation itself is now essentially a given, but the likely impending repression coming to millions of Afghan civilians is not, should other nations take appropriate action.

Its clear that the international response to the plight of these marginalized groups has been positively underwhelming. It was terrifying to watch humans with families cling to the side of an American plane leaving Kabuls airport in the hopes of refugee or asylum status. Such an action clearly signals the Afghan publics lingering fears of their new government. Why? Nearly all involved parties have recognized the unreliability of the Talibans promises to provide amnesty to prior U.S. and Afghan government contacts. Conservative pundits have latched onto the heart-wrenching reports that those identities were disclosed to the Taliban by Americans. After 20 years of ouster from government by the American military and its allies, what would the Taliban do with that information?

Whether fears carried over from the situation prior to the 2001 U.S. invasion are well founded or not, the widely-publicized scenes of last months exit do little to truly describe the growing dread of the Afghan people. Instead, its clear that life for those in Afghanistan could soon be fully unrecognizable once it is under the control of an all-male government with worrying institutions like the Ministry for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice. What would this mean for minority groups in Afghanistan?

An anonymous Afghan student, writing for the BBC, noted that the Taliban has attacked schools for [girls of my minority ethnicity] before, killing hundreds. So they will surely kill us, probably rape us, kill us. As a girl and also as a minority, there is no space for me in my own country. Another said, As a gay person in Afghanistan If I reveal myself to my family, maybe they will beat me, maybe they will kill me. [] I dont think I will ever continue my education. My friends, I have lost contact with them. I dont know if theyre okay.

What will happen to their identity? Their life?

Many more women, LGBTQ+ people, and Afghan religious minorities have expressed terror at the Talibans takeover for those exact same reasons: fear of censorship, punishment, imprisonment or worse, for living the way they did under the previous government. They are faced with oppressive regimes likely to violate fundamental human rights and prevent political dissidents from seeking asylum elsewhere. What can be done to help them?

Most observers would agree that the answer is not continued occupation of a foreign country, nor the nation-building recently disavowed by Biden. The purported reason for the United States continued Afghan presence is to fight terrorist groups and those that enable them. But, as with most matters of foreign policy, those that enable them isnt a clear cut category from the other side of the world. Instead, Western-style republican governments have many more challenges in an area in which they dont naturally arise. Thousands of arms across dozens of unique militia groups combined with famously mismanaged foreign aid have made such groups highly competitive with state and national governments for regional authority. In the Talibans case, August showed that they and their allies were more than competitive with the Afghan fighters and their allies.

A former U.S. ambassador to Pakistan described Pakistani officials as repeatedly stressing, We know you. We know you dont have patience for the long fight. We know the day will come when you just get tired and go home its what you do. But we arent going anywhere this is where we live. So if you think we are going to turn the Taliban into a mortal enemy, you are completely crazy.

That is, the incentive for Afghanistans neighbors to work against the Taliban even those neighbors that are often allied with the United States might not be nearly as intense as one would expect. Purporting to be a benevolent power in a foreign country doesnt mean much in the face of historically tribal and militant Afghan leadership. Instead, for a country like the United States, examining the nature of these human rights abuses and working on the ground becomes all the more important.

Now the moral imperative for the United States shifts: if we actually believe the Talibans actions in Afghanistan are all that reprehensible, then we should actually act upon our lofty purported values. That means supporting Afghan families who are looking for a new home by granting them asylum status, with a path to citizenship. That means spending money to alleviate the notorious visa application backlog. That means funding NGOs that support the egress of dissidents and their families from Afghanistan. That means appropriately sanctioning oppressive regimes and moving business elsewhere, to states that share the United States values of free speech and expression.

Neo-imperialist nation building only adds fuel to the fire of years-long hypocritical oppression of foreign countries. For the time being, it appears that the United States has learned that lesson the hard way: the Afghanistan War led to the death of 174,000 people, including over 47,245 civilians and 2,420 Americans. While it may be a relief to write that in the past tense, it doesnt excuse the sheer human loss of continued brutal war.

TheUnited States should use its power in the world not to conquer more nations, as was exceedingly popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but instead to use its outsize global influence to help those who do not wish to live under the Taliban.

The protection of human rights for those under the foot of oppressive regimes should ring true for United States lawmakers. Moving forward we should expound upon the Statue of Libertys promise. We must work to be the nation that can confidently say, Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, and make good on that vow.

The Afghan people, along with refugees around the world, are looking to the United States to breathe free again. Will we let them?

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Behind Karnal SDM’s ‘Break the Heads’ Remark Lies a Feudal View of Government Service – The Wire

Posted: at 5:34 am

In a recent incident recorded on video, a young IAS officer Ayush Sinha posted as the sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) of Karnal is found ordering the police to break the heads of any farmer protesting against the farm laws who crossed a certain barricade. The farmers wanted to reach the venue of a BJP meeting, attended by the Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar. In the police action that followed, about 10 people were injured. For many of us, it rekindled the painful memory of the colonial era when Lala Lajpat Rai was martyred following a lathi-charge in which James Scott, the then superintendednt of police (SP) of Lahore had broken his head.

Puerile attempt to defend the indefensible

Most regrettably, the chief minister of Haryana sought to make a contrived defence of the SDM, Although the officers choice of words was not correct, strictness had to be maintained to ensure law and order situation there was kept under check. The defence put up by the district magistrate of Karnal, one Nishant Yadav, was even more ridiculous, He used some words in heat of the moment, he shouldnt have. But his intention was not wrong. (sic)

Farmers injured in the lathicharge resorted to by Haryana Police in Karnal on August 28. Photo: Twitter/@_YogendraYadav.

Both of them betrayed a singular ignorance of law pertaining to public protests and the police response to them. The chief minister spoke of protests, road blockades, and traffic jams as if the country was witnessing them for the very first time in history. He claimed that he was receiving calls from people asking to deal with farmers protesting against the laws in a strict manner, but the administration was still exercising restraint. That was indeed remarkable. This means, in his view, modalities of law and order management in the country ought to be decided by what some people want and not what the law dictates.

Also read:Why the Public Looks at the Police With Disdain

The DM invoking heat of the moment is as ridiculous as it could get. The SDM was quite composed when he ordered the breaking of heads with forceful, deliberate hits. In fact, he got it repeatedly endorsed by a subservient police posse in proper filmi style of faujis. Moreover, what would they do if members of the public were to invoke the heat of the moment as they broke the head of the SDM or some cop or hit them in the testicles, leading to vasovagal shock and possibly death? Inexperience and pressure of duty are no excuse if someone is given so much power under the law, he is answerable for his actions.

In the following section, we will examine the legal issues pertaining to the use of force by the police on agitators as well as the sociological and psychological reasons that make officers indulge in such obnoxious behaviour.

Grey areas in the law regarding public protests and police response

The democratic right to peaceful protests has been acknowledged in a series of judgments like Babulal Parate (1961); Baldev Singh Gandhi (2002); Ramlila Maidan (2012); Anita Thakur (2016); Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sanghatan (2018); and Bimal Gurung (2018). How the protests may be carried out was discussed in Amit Sahni (2020) in connection with the Shaheenbagh protests.

Beyond this expression of a laudable sentiment, the law is shrouded in a grey mist. In the past 160 years, in one of the greatest frauds committed upon the Indian people, governments have deliberately refrained from clarifying critical aspects of the law so that they could always interpret them in their favour as the situation demanded and ride roughshod over the people.

For example, who will determine on the ground what is a peaceful protest and what is a violent protest? What is the exact legal definition of a violent protest? What actions by a mob qualify to be called violent and what are peaceful? Who will determine what is reasonable restriction in the interest of public order which the state seeks to impose and how? What could empower the magistrates and their wisdom to weigh things on a Golden Scale?

There are no clear answers anywhere. Unfortunately, the judgments in Himat Lal K. Shah (1973); Railway Board (1969); Madiga Reservation Porata Samithi (1999); and Mechineni Kishan Rao (2002) have not explained how are the people supposed to know whether the restrictions imposed by the police are reasonable or whimsical. If they are to blindly accept all the orders of the public servants, even if they are unreasonable, how will they ever exercise their fundamental rights? Many contentious issues regarding processions have been left unanswered even in Acharya Jagdishwarananda Avadhuta (2004) that prohibited weapons in processions.

A violent mob could indulge in a wide variety of acts:

Section 129 (dispersal of assembly by use of civil force) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) empowers the police to use even lethal force to disperse an unlawful assembly. Now what is an unlawful assembly? Section 141 (unlawful assembly) IPC, being a classic relic of the spirit of oppression that had characterised the colonial era, provides a long list of their supposed intentions, which would label them an unlawful assembly. The modern Indian state continues to cling to such colonial powers with a maniacal doggedness. Under this law, five people or more could be accused of overawing, by a show of criminal force, the central or any state government or parliament or the legislature of any state! Imagine five people overawing the parliament of a nation of 140 crores!

How exactly the legal powers vested in Section 129 CrPC are to be used was discussed in the case of Karam Singh (1979). Still, the legal issues that remain unanswered are:

Where it is prescribed in Section 129 CrPC or in any judgment as to what sort of force is to be used in which situation? Should fire be opened when the agitators are damaging rail tracks, but not if they are burning some police vehicle or private vehicles? Should fire be opened when protesters are seen raping or molesting women or should the police exercise restraint in the larger political interests of the ruling party? According to the polices own admission, during the Azad Maidan riots of August 2012, at least five women police personnel were molested by the mob. The police remained a mute spectator and did nothing.

Or, should fire be opened even on those protesters also that are not posing any immediate threat? Exactly this thing had happened in the police firing in Tuticorin in May 2018 during a protest against proposed expansion of a copper smelter plant run by Sterlite Corporation in Thoothukudi town. Thirteen people were killed and 102 injured. There were photographs of policemen standing on top of medium vehicles and firing, clearly establishing that their targets were at least a couple of hundreds of yards away. Still, shockingly, for the death of 13 persons, as the New Indian Express reported in March 2021, the CBI had filed chargesheet against just one inspector of police but 71 protesters!

The much-touted words like minimum force and maximum restraint do not find any place in judicial pronouncements even as they remain lofty moral principles and find expression in UN Basic Principles for the Use of Force and Firearmsetc. In fact, in cases like Pancham Lal (1977), Akhilesh Prasad (1981), D. N. Srivastava (1982) and Manoj Sharma (W.P.(Crl.) No. 1014-16/2006), etc., it was held that the officer on the spot would be the best judge of the degree of force which would be required to control a particular situation.

Also read:Indian Citizens Must Start Demanding a Better Policing System

Still, it must be kept in mind that the use of lethal force is permitted only by shootingnot by a barbaric breaking of heads. Police cant use swords, for example, even if the rioters have swords. Lathis have to be used according to prescribed lathi drill, which specifically prohibits hitting the head. Even Tasers are not allowed under the Arms Rules.

Citizens of this country should not forget that it was because of such deliberately left grey areas with the obvious intention of allowing upper hand to the government that the Hunter Committee, which had three eminent Indian jurists also in it, could hold Reginald Dyer guilty of the grave error of judgment only and he could not be prosecuted for a crime. It is disclosed in the Hansard (the traditional name of the transcripts of parliamentary debates in Britain) that all that he suffered was that he was made to resign!

Sociological and psychological reasons for highhanded behaviour

The fundamental sociological reason for making officials prone to such behaviour is the unnaturally excessive, feudal-type social prestige associated with government jobs, particularly in the law enforcement: police, magistracy, IAS/IPS, etc. Prevailing societal notions imbue them with almost supernatural wisdom that could do no wrong. The colonial legacy of civil service in selecting one-exam wonders is fundamentally flawed in that it usually catapults undeserving people into positions of immense power. That actually makes them believe that they are there to rule over people and not serve them.

Police make a human barricade to stop various farmers organisations protesting three new farm laws from marching to New Delhi, in Hisar, November 25, 2020. Photo: PTI

Historically, in India, the state has existed for the ruler, not for the ruled. All the organs of the state (the armed forces, police, other government officials) existed essentially to oppress their own people first; that they could, at times, protect them from some external threat or depredations of criminals was only incidental. This identification with the rulers bred a very characteristic pattern of obnoxious behaviour in them; uncontrolled, impertinent, aggressive, rude, abusive, arrogant, barbarous, and brutish.

Also read:Its Time to Stop Treating Police as Mere Pawns in the Hands of Political Class

This popular feudal imagery of government officials and the power, which the Indian laws have imbued them with, derange them. As Avay Shukla, himself a retired IAS officer points out, Most IAS officers have very high levels of schadenfreude (pleasure derived by someone from another persons misfortune), and love nothing better than to see the proletariat squirm.

Like feudal lords of yore, they too tend to look down upon the poor people as some sort of vermin that could be squished brutally anytime. Speaking of the popular bias against farmers, Rohit Kumar cites agricultural economist Devinder Sharma, You should see how many people on my Twitter feed are condoning the actions of the police and saying the farmers are gundas and that they deserve this!

Atrocities by the minions of the state are actually atrocities by the state. The state is the mind; its servants are the muscle. India has always suffered from a problem that the loyalty of the officials has been to the rulers and not to the people. Bheeshma was perhaps the greatest warrior of his era. During the shameful episode of the disrobing of Draupadi, had he even risen from his seat, the entire Kaurav clan would have trembled. Yet, his sin was that he placed his dharma as a servant before his dharma as a human being.

The officials have completely forgotten that their loyalty must be to the nation, the people and the constitution, not to the regime of the day. A democratic country like ours cannot afford to leave matters of life and death to the discretion of magistrates and cops brimming with bhakti of the regime and eagerness to please the political masters.

Dr. N. C. Asthana is a retired IPS officer and a former DGP of Kerala. Of his 49 books, 14 are on civil rights, social justice, law, and police including the latest State Persecution of Minorities and Underprivileged in India. He tweets @NcAsthana.

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Behind Karnal SDM's 'Break the Heads' Remark Lies a Feudal View of Government Service - The Wire

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China’s oppression of Tibetans serves as warning to Taiwan: Exiled Tibetan official – Devdiscourse

Posted: at 5:34 am

Representative of the Tibetan government-in-exile Kelsang Gyaltsen Bawa on Thursday lambasted Beijing for its atrocities on Tibetans and said that this "oppression should serve as a warning to the people of Taiwan." Kelsang is representing the exiled Tibet government in Taiwan.

During a book launch event in Taiwan, Kelsang also said that "Intellectuals from Tibet have either been forced into exile or they face brutal crackdowns in their homeland by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), and their suffering continues to the present day," as reported by Taiwanese news agency Focus Taiwan. He also pointed to the 'Seventeen Point Agreement' that affirmed China's sovereignty over Tibet but promised Tibetans a high degree of autonomy. "The signing of a peace treaty between the Dalai Lama's government and CCP in Beijing in 1951 was "seven decades of blood and tears shed by Tibetans," he added.

Meanwhile, Taiwanese Legislator Freddy Lim also said that Taiwanese should cherish freedom of expression and fight for democracy, Focus Taiwan reported. Beijing claims full sovereignty over Taiwan, a democracy of almost 24 million people located off the southeastern coast of mainland China, despite the fact that the two sides have been governed separately for more than seven decades.

Taipei, on the other hand, has countered the Chinese aggression by increasing strategic ties with democracies including the US, which has been repeatedly opposed by Beijing. China has threatened that "Taiwan's independence" means war. On June 1, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged to complete reunification with self-ruled Taiwan and vowed to smash any attempts at formal independence for the island.

Reacting to Xi's remarks, Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) accused the CCP of tightening its dictatorship in the name of national rejuvenation internally and attempting to alter the international order with its hegemonic ambitions externally, Focus Taiwan reported. (ANI)

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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We may never know the impact we have | Mind Matters – Northern Beaches Review

Posted: at 5:34 am

Decades ago, a Detroit-based guy named Rodriguez, calling himself Sugar Man, wrote songs and sang like Bob Dylan. I especially like his song I Wonder.

Rodriguez never really made it in the music business. His two albums barely sold in the competitive US market.

Meanwhile - unbeknownst to Rodriguez - in South Africa, near the end of apartheid, his songs became wildly popular as anthems for the freedom from government oppression both white and black people craved.

The government helped by banning the songs from the radio. Then everyone had to listen to them.

Word spread in South Africa that Sugar Man had died on stage after setting himself on fire.

The image of that ending propelled more sales. A South African man spent huge amounts of time trying to obtain the details of the rise and fall of Sugar Man.

After many months of effort, decades after the reported suicide, he found that Rodriguez was still alive and cleaning houses in Detroit.

Almost no one in South Africa believed the man.

Rodriguez turned out to be an unusually nice person, who still knew how to sing and play his guitar.

The man talked with Rodriguez, who was astounded to learn how popular he was in South Africa.

The man invited Rodriguez to come and perform.

Rodriguez went and played a series of concerts to huge crowds. He was finally a star - in another land, where his songs helped usher in the start of democracy and freedom.

I tell you this story, from the documentary Searching for Sugar Man, to make a simple point: we cannot always tell what positive impacts we have on others.

The effects may be much delayed. The effects may never be clear.

I think about the possibility of positive impacts when I write for newspapers and when I interact with others. I may not be another Sugar Man, but I may have positive effects here and there.

If we keep that potential in mind, we may have greater positive impacts.

The impact might be from a kind word or a good deed at the right time or from something of value we create - a child for instance.

We may never know the impact we have. We may never perform in front of adoring fans. But we may be able to look back and think, I did my best, under the circumstances, to have a positive impact.

John Malouff is an Associate Professor at the School of Psychology, University of New England.

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Federal election 2021: Gender-based violence is an issue we should all prioritize – The Conversation CA

Posted: at 5:34 am

National strategies to end gender-based violence, public activism movements like #MeToo and One Billion Rising and the continued use of tough-on-crime policies have failed to reduce rates of gender-based violence.

Read more: "Tough on crime" a waste of time -- let's be effective instead

In fact, rates continue to rise. The amplification of the concurrent pandemics of racism and violence against women and children during the COVID-19 crisis has resulted in urgent calls to action for the type of change needed to end gender-based violence.

So why isnt gender-based violence on the federal election agenda?

Before the pandemic, persistent and unacceptably high rates of intimate partner violence resulted in 107,000 victims calling the police in 2019. This number represents nearly one third of all crimes that are reported to police by victims in Canada.

When considering that only 30 per cent of this violence is reported to police, the actual numbers are much higher.

Intersectional feminists highlight the ways in which gender-based violence is intensified by forms of systemic oppression that include colonialism, racism, ableism, heterosexism, transphobia, ageism and poverty.

Indigenous women and girls are three times as likely to report being a victim of intimate partner violence, and 12 times more likely to be murdered or go missing than other women and girls in Canada. Women living with physical and cognitive impairments experience violence two to three times more often than women living without impairments.

Academics and activists have identified how the mass shooting that killed 22 people in Nova Scotia in April 2020 is linked to gender-based violence. While it may be impossible to determine the exact number of people who are victims of domestic violence, the scope and magnitude is astounding.

In response to persistent rates of gender-based violence, pro-prosecution measures were introduced largely through the efforts of feminists to prioritize the safety of victims, to deter crimes and hold perpetrators of violence accountable. However, they have not been effective.

A recent report published by Dalhousie University shares how government lawyers (the Crown), police officers, allied professionals, victims and offenders have described these measures as punitive, not trauma-informed or family-centred, inflexible, unidirectional, outdated and unhelpful.

Victims say the criminal legal system has been harmful to them and their families, retraumatizing them and falling short of delivering justice. For those who are socially, racially and economically marginalized, these effects are compounded.

Offenders who have often experienced prior trauma and violence in their lives say imprisonment results in further violence and doesnt encourage accountability or healing.

Read more: Let's call the Nova Scotia mass shooting what it is: White male terrorism

As such, politicians who promise to reduce gender-based and family violence through tough-on-crime strategies like increased front-line police responses and harsher criminal sentences are committing to action that hasnt been shown to prevent violence and further harms to individuals, families and communities.

More often than not, the result is victims are held responsible for crimes committed against them, perpetrators are met with unhelpful punitive responses and governments fail to address the root causes of social inequity.

Government ideals that emphasize increased productivity, debt reduction and economic growth in times of uncertainty also inform policies, legislation and action that erode communities.

The motivation for renewed action must come from an acknowledgement that Canada is not a safe place for many people, particularly women and children, and that all forms of interpersonal violence are unacceptable. We must do better. Our voice matters, and we must speak out against injustices.

Transformative action requires replacing punitive one-size-fits-all measures with a critical reflection of our roles in producing and reproducing harm, a respect for lived experiences and civil dialogue that prioritizes compassionate accountability and collective healing.

These actions are also required of Canadian politicians responsible for a government that was built by oppressing Indigenous and Black people through legacies of colonialism and slavery.

Read more: Not in the past: Colonialism is rooted in the present

As we head towards the Sept. 20 election, transformative action means voting for alternatives to tough-on-crime measures and for those committed to specific, actionable and timely plans to end gender-based violence in Canada.

It also means honouring the Calls for Justice from the report on Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and acknowledging the public outrage of the Black Lives Matter and #MeToo movements as legitimate.

Voting for immediate action that shifts from the use of the criminal legal system as a viable solution to end gender-based violence is aligned with transformative action, and responds to calls for justice.

In this tumultuous time characterized by racism, gender-based violence, the unearthing of mass graves at former residential schools and loud calls to defund the police and reform criminal justice systems, its clear our votes matter.

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"Mental health is inherently political": From poverty to racial discrimination, Malaysian youth-led collective examines systemic factors…

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This article contains material on suicide and mental health issues. Readers discretion is advised.

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA Discussions on mental health and suicide cannot be extricated from systemic issues such as poverty and racial discrimination, among other forms of oppression and setbacks faced by marginalised and underprivileged groups in society.

This is the crux of youth-led activism group MISI: Solidaritis campaign on decriminalising attempted suicide in Malaysia, particularly in view of the governments mishandling of the pandemic.

A British colonial relic, attempted suicide remains an offence in the eyes of Malaysian law under Section 309 of the Penal Code. Sentencing may entail a jail term of up to a year, or a fine, or both.

MISI: Solidariti said that it has recorded more than 1,099 cases of suicide during the pandemic and 1,080 suicide attempts in 2020 alone.

The pandemic, it said in an Instagram post on Thursday (9 Sep), has dug us a deep, inescapable mental health hole.

Citing research firm Merdeka Centres findings, MISI: Solidariti noted that 2.8 million Malaysians could fall into poverty due to the pandemic, with many from the M40 (middle-class) becoming B40 (lower-income) overnight.

These pandemic-related uncertainties and constraints have led to the B40 group being more prone to mental illnesses, said the group, adding that the number of suicide cases between Jan and May this year surpassed those in the entirety of 2020.

Government financial aid, particularly in the form of Employee Provident Fund (EPF) withdrawal, has done little to alleviate the economic hardship faced by many.

In fact, said MISI: Solidariti, EPF withdrawal has forced EPF contributors to deplete their savings, which could have been invested in education, retirement, and asset accumulation.

Even with the EPF withdrawal initiative, the retirement fund is insufficient in protecting 52 per cent of households from financial precarity, the group noted.

On top of poverty and the lack of financial stability, other factors such as gender, race, and sexuality may increase the risk of suicide.

Women, for example, are more susceptible to attempting suicide than men due to cultural factors, gender roles, and gender-specific violence on top of biological differences.

In terms of race, suicide is most prevalent among Malaysians of Indian descent, which is likely due to racial discrimination in the country, said MISI: Solidariti, citing a psychiatric review by the General Hospital.

Being systematically discriminated puts you at a socioeconomic drawback, which also increases suicide risks, said MISI: Solidariti.

Mental health is inherently political. Our mental state is greatly affected by the world around us, the group stressed.

The main thrust of MISI: Solidaritis Decriminalise Suicide Now campaign includes a petition urging the Attorney-Generals Chambers to impose an immediate moratorium on pending suicide attempt cases and, on a larger scale, to promptly decriminalise suicide in Malaysia.

As at 10.05 am on Friday (10 Sep), the petition on moratorium garnered 1,258 signatures while the petition on decriminalising suicide gained 21,983 signatures.

The latter petition, started by Minds First on Change.org, highlights how the criminalisation of attempted suicide punishes those who need help and prevents them from getting the support they need.

In the petition addressed to Attorney-General Tan Sri Idrus Harun and Members of Parliament Minds First, in calling for the repeal of Section 309, proposed making mandatory counselling & psychological services accessible to the people who need it the most.

They highlighted that studies originating from countries that have repealed legislation criminalising attempted suicide including Canada and New Zealand have shown that suicides did not increase post-decriminalisation.

Ten Malaysians die by suicide every day We cannot let this go on. Decriminalising suicide is an important step in breaking down the stigma surrounding mental health and ensuring a society where we are able to access support without fear of judgement, discrimination, or punishment, the statement read.

Through MISI: Solidaritis Decriminalise Suicide Now campaign, members of the public have been called on to send pressure emails to their MPs.

People are also encouraged to tag relevant ministers such as newly appointed Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin and Women, Family and Community Development Minister Rina Harun on social media to urge them to address the matter in the upcoming Parliament sitting.

The campaign also utilises hashtags such as #DecriminaliseSuicideNow and #BunuhDiriBukanJenayah (#SuicideIsNotACrime).

More information on the campaign can be found on MISI: Solidaritis website here.

Andrew Mohanraj, president of the Malaysian Mental Health Associationhighlighted in Aug last year that the discussion on repealing Section 309 should go beyond the decriminalisation of attempted suicide.

The call to decrimininalise suicide, he said, should also serve as a plea for Malaysia to move more towards a compassionate society by destigmatising mental illness and safeguarding the interests of persons with mental illness and their families.

Noting that over 90 per cent of people attempting suicide suffer from major psychiatric illnesses such as major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, or schizoaffective disorders, Dr Mohanraj said in relation to the sentencing of an unemployed 28-year-old man that a psychiatric examination would have been the preferred course of action before a court decides to convict a suicide attempt survivor under Section 309.

If this unemployed man who attempted to jump to death cannot pay his fine and is sent to prison, it is hoped that the Director-General of Prisons refers him to a psychiatric unit for assessment and treatment to prevent any suicidal attempt while in prison.

Such a referral is provided for under Section 26 of the Prisons Act 1995. Ultimately justice must be tempered with mercy, he stressed.

The man in question was initially sentenced by the Magistrates Court here to a fine of RM3,000 or a three-month jail term in lieu of the fine under Section 309.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Nurilya Ellyna Nor Azmal had reportedly asked the court to impose an appropriate sentence as a lesson because he had inconvenienced many parties.

However, the High Court here later revised the fine to a good behaviour bond lasting over a year.

In line with Section 323 and Section 327 of the Criminal Procedure Code, Judicial Commissioner Aslam Zainuddin set aside the lower courts order after hearing that the survivors depression was so severe that he did not eat for three days.

Three years ago, then-deputy minister of the Women, Community and Family Development Ministry Hannah Yeoh called for a repeal of Section 309 of the Penal Code, as the provision has not deterred individuals from attempting suicide.

ShetoldNew Straits Times that suicide attempt survivors should not be treated as criminals, but should be given opportunities for rehabilitation and restoration in terms of their mental health.

Elsewhere in Southeast Asia such as in Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines, suicide attempts are not punishable by law.

The Philippines even passed aMental Health Actin 2018, which outlines the protections and rights those suffering from mental health conditions and their families are entitled to, particularly for disadvantaged groups and high-risk individuals.

The Act also provides for the integration of mental health care into the Philippines national healthcare framework, includingsuicide prevention, and lists the obligations and responsibilities of mental health professionals in the country.

In Singapore, attempted suicide was decriminalised in January last year.

Previously, those found guilty of attempting suicide could face a maximum of a year in jail and a fine of S$10,000 or both.

CNAnoted, however, that only an average of 0.6 per cent of arrests in such cases led to prosecution.

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"Mental health is inherently political": From poverty to racial discrimination, Malaysian youth-led collective examines systemic factors...

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What Is Owed – The Nation

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Freed slaves, 1863. (Bettmann / Getty images)

Reparations are having a moment. This march, Evanston, Ill., became the first government in the United States to attempt to address racial inequality by providing mortgage assistance and $25,000 homeownership and improvement grants to descendants of residents harmed by discriminatory housing policies in the city. Soon afterward, the US House of Representatives began hearings on HR 40, which would create a commission to study reparations for slavery and other forms of discrimination against Black people in the United States. President Biden expressed support for the study and reiterated that support at the commemoration of the 1921 race massacre in Tulsa, Okla., in May. Meanwhile, California became the first state to initiate an official task force to study and develop a reparations plan for African Americans harmed by slavery and its legacies. Books in Review

Bolstered by the Black Lives Matter movement and last summers protests following the murder of George Floyd, support for reparations has also been aided by a growing awareness of the history of slavery and other forms of racial exploitation in the United States. In the past decade, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Nikole Hannah-Jones, and other Black journalists have exposed a broad readership to the question of reparations as well as to the scholarship on slaverys importance in the development of capitalism and American democracy, the racial inequalities inherent to New Deal social policies, and the causes and effects of mass incarceration. By doing so, they helped shift the discussion about racial inequality from a question of marginalization and oppression to a focus on the central role that Black people have played in the economic and political history of the United States. Despite the increasing awareness of this history, however, nearly two-thirds of Americans still oppose federal payments to Black people whose ancestors were enslaved. Opposition is strongest among Republicans, who view reparations as overly divisive and unjustified, but barely half of all Democrats, and only a third of white Democrats, support them.

In From Here to Equality, William A. Darity Jr. and A. Kirsten Mullen draw on both journalistic and scholarly sources to make a strong case for cash payments to Black descendants of slaves. To those who dismiss reparations as a recent claim for an ancient crime, they point out that African Americans have been demanding compensation since the end of slavery and that the debt has been redoubled by officially sanctioned violence and discrimination since abolition. Likewise, to the alarmingly large numbers of Americans, both white and black, who do not believe that racial inequality and discrimination continue to exist, Darity and Mullen provide a detailed analysis of the deep disparities in wealth, income, education, and other measures of well-being that have persisted since emancipation.

Yet despite their clear evidence of the lingering effects of slavery and Jim Crow, Darity and Mullen isolate African American reparations from claims for compensation by Native Americans, immigrants, and others. Not only does this risk alienating potential allies, it also narrows the scope of what the Black freedom movement has almost always pursued: A radical program for economic and racial justice for all Americans.

The core of From Here to Equality is a rich historical account of how the economic inequalities between Black and white Americans were created and perpetuated through centuries of slavery and the legally enforced systems of discrimination and political disfranchisement that followed. Drawing on the work of Anne Farrow, Craig Wilder, Joel Lang, and Jennifer Frank, Darity and Mullen explain that slavery was integral to the nationalnot just the Southerneconomy, and that its proceeds therefore helped establish some of the nations most prominent banks, insurance companies, and universities.

Emphasizing several periods when the United States might have taken a different path, they show how slavery became more durable and racialized in the colonial era and then expanded rapidly in the South after a brief period of ambivalence about it during the Revolution. They also explain how Abraham Lincoln and other Northern politicians sought to avoid conflict by appeasing Southern slave owners, and how their hands were forced by the recalcitrance of the Confederate states, rising opposition to the war among Northern whites, and the insistence of African Americans on turning the war into a fight against slavery.

In Darity and Mullens telling, the Civil War was a critical moment not just because it ended slavery but because it also raised the question of how the formerly enslaved would be compensated for centuries of unpaid labor. They cite the testimony of the formerly enslaved minister Garrison Frazier in 1865, who explained to Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman and Secretary of War Edwin Stanton that the freedom, as I understand itis taking us from under the yoke of bondage, and placing us where we could reap the fruit of our own labor, take care of ourselves, and assist the Government in maintaining our freedom. Current Issue

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This testimony was the inspiration for Shermans famous Field Order No. 15, which would have distributed over 5 million acres of plantation land to formerly enslaved families along the Atlantic coast. A version of Shermans order was taken up by Congress, but in yet another missed opportunity to repair the damage done by slavery, Andrew Johnson vetoed it and returned the land to former slave owners.

But the Civil War was not the last missed opportunity, and a key component of Darity and Mullens case is that the plunder of Black America, as Ta-Nehisi Coates dubbed it, continued unabated throughout the 20th century and into the 21st century. Drawing on the work of Coates and other journalists, sociologists, and historians who have charted this pillage over the past century and a half, Darity and Mullen offer a story of dispossession, exploitation, and disfranchisement whose devastating costs, they argue, also make the case for reparations.

Having explored the centuries of injustice that now demand compensation, Darity and Mullen turn to the most common objections that they have encountered in the 15 years that they have spent researching and developing their case.

Over that period, Darity and Mullen explain, increased awareness of racial inequality has led to a multiplicity of reactions, from challenging the legitimacy of reparations to asking questions about the logistics of a reparations plan. Most of these objections are answered in previous chapters, but they also examine the claims that past injustices were addressed by emancipation, 20th-century social welfare policies, and affirmative action, and they show why all of these are clearly unsatisfactory in the face of the history they have recounted. Indeed, they argue, many of those initiativesin particular welfare and affirmative action programsnot only failed to end racial inequalities but at times deepened them.Related Article

In the final chapters of the book, Darity and Mullen lay out a program for determining who is responsible for paying reparations, who would be eligible, how much would be paid, and how the funds would be distributed.

The detailed history Darity and Mullen present supports the moral and economic claims for reparations. Yet given the persistent opposition, it is puzzling that they describe the potential constituency for reparations in the narrowest possible terms. In written testimony submitted to a congressional hearing on HR 40, Darity suggested that the bill be amended to clarify that it would benefit only people who identify as black, Negro, or African American and have at least one ancestor who was enslaved in the United States. Acknowledging that this excludes post-slavery immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean, whose own ancestors are likely to have been subjected to enslavement and colonialism elsewhere, he suggested they could make their claims against the United Kingdom or France, but not the United States.

In addition to alienating potential allies, the exclusion of Black immigrants from reparations obscures not only the consequences of racism and segregation in the aftermath of emancipation but also the inherently international character of slavery and the inequalities it forged. The scholarship that Darity and Mullen draw on emphasizes the centrality of racial exploitation to the development of the United States, but it also demonstrates that the national story was, as W.E.B. Du Bois put it, but a local phase of a world problem.

The historian Ana Lucia Araujo, in her transnational and comparative history Reparations for Slavery and the Slave Trade, shows that the demand for compensation in the United States has always been related to reparations movements in the Caribbean, South America, and Africa. That tradition is carried on today by the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America, which links demands on the US government with a transnational movement seeking reparations for people of African descent.

To limit the scope of what could be an international movement is a missed opportunity, but it also overlooks the influence of the United States and its role in international slavery and racial inequality. As Araujo explains, the US governments refusal to recognize Haiti weakened the Black-led republic at a time when it was attempting to establish economic independence from Europe and was revised only out of hope that African Americans could be resettled in the Caribbean after the Civil War. Since then, US political, military, and economic power has undermined the economic status of former slaves and their descendants in the Caribbean and Central America and led many of them to seek refuge and opportunity through migration to the United States. Certainly, the US government bears some responsibility for those affected by its imperial power.

And that responsibility does not end with people of African descent. Darity and Mullens account of slaverys centrality to the economic development of the United States includes frequent references to Negro, mulatto and Indian slaves, and as Tiya Miles and other historians have shown, African American history has long been deeply intertwined with that of Native Americans. Commenting on the anniversary of the Tulsa massacre, Robin D.G. Kelley noted, Any discussion of repair and reparations, of grieving and mourning the events of 1921 and its aftermath, must grapple with the colonial violence that made Tulsa or Oklahoma and its settler regime possible.

Darity and Mullen acknowledge that Native Americans could make a far more costly claim on the American government than black Americans, potentially including the entire territory of the United States. Yet rather than casting Indigenous people as potential allies in the demand for reparations, they insist that such claims are irrelevant to the specific urgency of the black reparations claim.

Black West Indians and Latin Americans are not the only immigrants with a potential interest in reparations. Emphasizing the whiteness, education, and wealth that some immigrants have brought with them to the United States, Darity and Mullen conclude that voluntary immigrants who arrived after the end of slavery have benefited from Americas Jim Crow regime and its established and ongoing racial hierarchy and therefore share responsibility for reparations. But what of the Chinese and other Asian immigrants who were deprived of legal protections, landownership, and citizenship by racist exclusion laws; refugees from US military interventions in Afghanistan, Southeast Asia, and Central America; and Mexican guest workers and undocumented migrants who powered the internal colonialism that, according to the historian Mae Ngai, was also central to the economic development of the southwestern United States? As Erika Lees recent history of xenophobia shows, anti-immigrant sentiment has often been closely linked to anti-Black racism.

These histories may help explain why Asian and Latino Americans are far more supportive of reparations for slavery than white Americans, and why, rather than dismiss all immigrants as beneficiaries of racial inequality, we should ask which among them might find common cause in a movement to end it.

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In the context of an increasingly racially diverse United States, the need for allies is an issue of strategy as much as of justice. Acknowledging that not enough Americans support reparations, Darity and Mullen caution that their proposals will not be possible without a dramatic change in national leadership and an inspired national movement dedicated to the fulfillment of the goal of racial justice. With African Americans holding steady at roughly 12 percent of the population, it is difficult to see how they could build such a movement on their own. Darity and Mullen suggest that support could also come from whites descended from slave owners who are seeking atonement, but guilt seems a weak foundation for a political alliance. It seems more feasible to build a coalition of those with an interest in repairing the damage done by slavery and other forms of racial exploitation.

But if we are to build such a movement, its demands have to go beyond just one groups claims and one policy program alone. Darity and Mullen describe the goal of reparations as sharp and enduring reductions in racial disparities, particularly economic disparities like racial wealth inequality, and corresponding sharp and enduring improvements in black well-being. These are admirable objectives, but even with reparations and the reduction of these racial disparities in wealth, African Americans would still face other falling standards of well-being endured by Americans as a whole. For example, if Black families were equal to white ones, their median net worth would increase from $23,000 to $184,000, but most of their gains would go to a few wealthy households: 10 percent of Black families would control 76 percent of Black household wealth while just 1 percent would go to the poorest half of Black families. To use another metric, in an economically equal United States, African Americans would likely still be killed by police and be incarcerated at far higher levels than citizens of nearly every other nation in the world. Likewise, they would still likely fall victim to a health care system that prioritizes profit and a labor market that values productivity over humanity. Yet Darity and Mullen assert that once the reparations program is executed and racial inequality eliminated, African Americans would make no further claims for race-specific policies on their behalf from the American governmenton the assumption that no new race-specific injustices are inflicted upon them.

In his opening address at the 1963 March on Washington, A. Philip Randolph characterized the Black freedom movement as a massive moral revolution aimed not only at securing equal access to voting rights, government services, public accommodations, and jobs, but also at creating a society where the sanctity of private property takes second place to the sanctity of the human personality. Americans of all races had a stake in that transformation, he explained, but it falls to the Negro to reassert this proper priority of values, because our ancestors were transformed from human personalities into private property. Darity and Mullen draw a far more modest lesson from the African American struggle against slavery, Jim Crow, and other forms of racial exploitation. Their demand for repayment of the wealth and income taken since the nations founding is worthy in its own right and would help address the deep economic disparities between Black and white Americans. Yet as Randolph suggested, the legacy of these freedom struggles is far more ambitious and revolutionary than the simple calculus of compensation.

Any political movement powerful enough to secure policies sufficient to repair the damage inflicted by centuries of slavery and other forms of racial oppression in the United States will also have the power to secure a more radical and enduring transformation of our social and political order, and it should do so for practical and moral reasons. To win reparations will require allies who have a shared interest in addressing the countrys history of racial exploitation, but it will also need more expansive forms of solidarity and systemic change. As Randolph observed over 50 years ago, Black people are in the forefront of todays movement for social and racial justice, because we know we cannot expect the realization of our aspirations through the same old anti-democratic social institutions and philosophies that have all along frustrated our aspirations.

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What Is Owed - The Nation

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