Readers’ Views, March-April 2014, Part 2

From the March-April 2014 issue of News & Letters:

Readers’ Views, Part 2


I was moved by Yeyetzi Cardiel’s “Language and death in Juarez” (Jan.-Feb. N&L). How that story is told, revealed and transmitted makes the article powerful. It evokes the words of Elie Wiesel in the novel The Oath, that “A deed transmitted is a victory snatched from death.” As one who experienced the Holocaust, Wiesel’s testimony unites absence and presence, memory and responsibility by transforming the object of violence, into a Subject. Primo Levi writes in The Drowned and the Saved that “those who saw Gorgon,” i.e., those who touched bottom, “have not returned to tell about it…no one ever returned to recount his own death…we speak in their stead, by proxy.”

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Readers’ Views, March-April 2014, Part 1

From the March-April 2014 issue of News & Letters:

Readers’ Views, Part 1


Turkey’s Gezi movement shows the universality of occupying as a protest strategy. Another world really is possible! Anti-capitalism is such a realistic worldwide goal for our generation. We aren’t benefiting from capitalism, and we are finally starting to talk about it.

Occupy Boston activist


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Handicap This! March-April 2014

From the March-April 2014 issue of News & Letters:

Handicap This!

by Suzanne Rose

Jonathon Meister, a deaf and non-verbal resident of Manhattan Beach, Calif., was discriminated against by the Hawthorne Police Dept. when they ignored his American Sign Language communication. He claims the police used excessive force by tasering and beating him, leaving bruises and burns all over his body. Jonathon was retrieving belongings from a friend’s house with his friend’s permission when someone called the police about suspicious activity at the house. He was signing to the police when they attacked him.

* * *

A man with Down Syndrome was teased and bullied by Assad’s forces in Syria when he refused to say that he loved Assad. The men surrounded him, laughing, and kept saying, “Kill him and relieve us from him” to each other when the man wouldn’t say what they wanted. He said he wanted freedom instead.

* * *

South Carolina is defending its right to abuse and neglect its mentally ill prisoners. The state claims the courts should stay out of the business of corrections. They are fighting a court order declaring its prisons to be unconscionable dens of abuse and neglect for mentally ill inmates housed there. Many inmates have died for lack of basic mental healthcare and from serious physical injury.

* * *

Sandra Lee, a 59-year-old disabled Chicago woman was illegally evicted from her apartment. Her attorney says she did not get her five-day notice or served a summons to court so she could explain her situation. She was evicted and not allowed back in her apartment even though a judge’s order overturned the eviction and ordered her reinstatement. It was discovered that the landlord’s brother-in-law was listed as a plaintiff to the eviction proceedings and is a Cook County sheriff’s deputy.

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Legislators let us down

From the March-April 2014 issue of News & Letters:

Legislators let us down

Chicago—I attended a “town hall” meeting to let our legislators know about people’s experiences and ideas with and about Medicaid, the minimum wage, disability rights and other topics. Senator Heather Steans and Representatives Kelly Cassidy and Greg Harris from Chicago attended.

One after another, people shared stories about their experiences with these programs and talked about the importance of seeing the human side of issues.

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Detroit fights blight, but who profits?

From the March-April 2014 issue of News & Letters:

Detroit fights blight, but who profits?

Detroit—Blight removal is big news here. The Blight Task Force, a non-profit, has mapped all 302,000 parcels of property in the city in just four months. Homebuilder Bill Pulte’s privately funded Blight Authority has already cleared several “low-density” residential tracts of land.

Residents are concerned: who can use the mapped data; who will fund remediation (both demolition and preservation); will debris be landfilled or illegally dumped; will city residents be hired and trained to deconstruct and recycle building materials?

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Tour the world’s most polluted places

From the March-April 2014 issue of News & Letters:

Tour the world’s most polluted places

Few people relish pollution tourism and fewer still can so appropriately express their disgust and delight as Andrew Blackwell in Visit Sunny Chernobyl: And Other Adventures in the World’s Most Polluted Places. (Rodale Books, 2012)

Blackwell visited the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and five sites of storied filth on four continents. What he learned was respect for the humanity that suffers and, yes, benefits from human-generated catastrophe: the lead-exposed eight-year-old master of motherboard-component extraction; the gunk-muckers of India’s putrid, but sacred, rivers; the all-ages hacky sack devotees in a nearly airless Chinese town; the obsessed woman of ocean garbage gyres; the activist demanding an end to environmental racism in a Texas town; the thriving industry that responds to the routine disasters that accompany the extraction, transportation and refining of fossil fuels.

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The art of Arab Spring

From the March-April 2014 issue of News & Letters:

The art of Arab Spring

Dearborn, Mich.—“Creative Dissent: Arts of the Arab World Uprisings” is an exhibit which magnificently captures the voices, images and revolutionary ideas of participants in the Arab Spring. Although it was open for only three months at the Arab American National Museum here, I hope it will be seen all over the world. It included videos of art and of artists telling their own stories, and fortunately is available online at

The Sprouting of Revolutionary Fists, mural by Zoo Project, Tunis, Tunisia, March-April 2011. Photograph courtesy of Elissa Jobson.

The curators, Christiane Gruber and Nama Khalil of the University of Michigan, organized the exhibit into six concepts: Humor and Subversion, Photographic Truth Claims, Slogans and Songs, Sounding Walls, and Revolution Reloaded. These concepts could be considered six weapons in the revolutionary struggle. Many of the pieces go beyond dissent to images and sounds which embody new ideas of freedom.

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