Back in Afghanistan…
I regretted not having my computer and keyboard with me on this journey to Standing Rock. I knew that regardless of the notes I took and the promises I made myself to hold close to memory all of the things I wanted to share, much would be lost. Now, 5 days after returning home, that feeling is even stronger. I’ve meant to sit down and document the experience a hundred times since returning but haven’t done so until now for reasons unknown. I think part of the delay is feeling inadequate to the job along with the understanding that what I contributed to the effort is minuscule, in my mind almost insignificant and the juxtaposition of that feeling with the anticipation when we first started out is jolting. I have no idea where this narrative will go. I don’t plan to do very much editing and if it goes on and on and on and you choose to leave it behind, that’s okay! I can tell you I came home changed and challenged as if this is the culmination of 65 years of the journey so far. Here goes……
* If you plan to go to Standing Rock, be sure to check your ego and white self at the door when you leave your house. This is a hard lesson for many of us. It was humbling to say the least, to be in a community where my face and experience were part of a most noticeable minority; where my thoughts about what/how things should or should not go are absolutely meaningless and quite frankly, disdained by the native people who are on their own sacred land and IN CHARGE of every iota of planning, decision making and definition. I was reminded of the lessons I am still learning from Black Lives Matter – support does NOT mean leadership or decision making. Support means accepting that we are limited in our understanding and that often those whom we support have every right and reason to look at our faces and first see a historical enemy.
Washington, DC (TFC) – TIME ran a piece on 16 August entitled “Russia and Iran Fly Across a Key Threshold in the Middle East” which opens with the following quote: “Looks like the U.S. and its allies have a new “axis of evil” in the Middle East: Syria, Iran and Russia.” A desire for an attention-grabbing opening line notwithstanding, this sort of propagandist statement only serves to cloud the already murky waters of the Syrian Civil War and reveals the Western bias of the mainstream media. The problems don’t end at the first line, but let’s unpack that first, and perhaps along the way we can find a more salient discourse on the Syrian conflict.
The phrase “axis of evil” is an echo of a speech by then President George W. Bush, who named Iraq, Iran, and North Korea in the positions TIME writer Mark Thompson assigns to Syria, Iran, and Russia. It’s hardly a surprise that Iran again made the cut; the demonization of that country in the West has continued virtually without pause in the intervening years. The phrase is in itself a reference to the Axis Powers of World War Two, a rhetorical device designed to associate the named countries with Nazism, genocide, and the ever-amorphous “Evil.” The veracity of this comparison has to be called into question, however.
Five months ago, 21 year old Christopher Davis was shot dead by police in Muskego, Wisconsin. Today, his family wrestles with the frustrating reality that Chris’s killer won’t be charged with a crime. Key details gleaned during federal investigations, however, bring that decision into sharp questioning.
During February of 2016, Christopher Davis accompanied friends driving from Milwaukee Wisconsin to Muskego. Driver Jose Lara told investigators they’d gone to inspect a car for purchase. At the time of the shooting Davis’ cousin, a US Army private, stated this as well. Being uncomfortable with freeway driving, Davis allowed Lara to drive his car. Davis and Lara were accompanied by a third individual, Roberto Juarez Nieves, MJS reports. Nieves’ name, however, was redacted in the investigative report.
Two more Americans are lying in morgues. The nation is once again outraged. While particulars of the cases in Baton Rouge and Falcon Heights are still being spun by various media outlets and government officials, one thing is certain: both shootings were completely avoidable. Both shootings included officers who were relying on poor training. Departments will say they don’t have the funding for proper training. This might have been the case a year ago, however on September 9, 2015 The Fifth Column and The Anti-Media offered to pay the fees for instructors to provide better training. While several individual officers who deserve to be applauded sought out the training on their own, neither department involved in either shooting did.
The Fifth Column released an article that provided a tiny glimpse into the offered training. Even though the article only provided a small sampling of the training, it touched on the faulty training that contributed to both shootings. It cited the case of Tamir Rice as an example of why officers need to keep their distance after receiving a report of an armed person. Had the officers in Baton Rouge done this, Alton Sterling would still be alive. The article reads:
Surprisingly, it wasn’t simply to be inflammatory and you probably can’t guess why.
The Fifth Column posted a simple Memorial Day message: “We salute veterans who died fighting for our freedom.” The image chosen to accompany it was a photo of Christopher Dorner. Christopher Dorner didn’t die fighting in a war in Afghanistan or Iraq. He died fighting a war in California. The war he died fighting in was a war on police corruption. In the process of his war he killed an innocent.
Last month, the Column’s most popular post was a quote about how veterans and activists need to work together to cause real change in the United States. While it was a very popular post, there was a heated debate with insults and accusations thrown by both sides in the comments section. This outlet tries to serve as a battleground for ideas. When heated debate occurs, the outlet is doing is job.
As expected, there were a number of comments under our Memorial Day post of the same nature. This article was drafted prior to the post going live to respond to the anticipated objections. Below are anticipated objections or statements, almost all of which can be found in the comments section under the post.
Apparently, in a decade and a half Harriet Tubman is going to be on the twenty dollar bill.