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Gangs of the State

Police & the Hierarchy of Violence

Frank Castro

December 15th,after the killings of Officers Liu and Ramos of the NYPD, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted "When police officers are murdered, it tears at the foundation of our society. This heinous attack was an attack on our entire city." On July 18th, the day after Eric Garner, a longtime New Yorker and father of six, was choked to death by NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo, the mayor of of the Big Apple had only this to say: "On behalf of all New Yorkers, I extend my deepest condolences to the family of Eric Garner." In his condolences there was no mention of a "heinous attack" against the actual people of New York City. There was no mention of the "tearing at the foundation of our society" either. Still further, in the case for the police officers, de Blasio went as far as to use the word "murdered" long before a shred of evidence was provided. Yet in the face of video footage (that pesky thing called evidence) of Eric Garner's actual murder at the literal hands of an NYPD officer, de Blasio showed no "outrage," only platitudinous sentiment. Such reactions are typical, but there is nothing shocking about them when we understand that our society operates on a clearly defined, yet often unarticulated, hierarchy of violence, and that the function of politicians and police is to normalize and enforce that violence. Thus, as an institution, police act as state-sanctioned gangs charged with the task of upholding the violent, racist hierarchy of white supremacist capitalism and, whenever possible, furthering a monopoly of power where all violence from/by those higher on the hierarchy upon those lower can be normalized into business as usual.

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Disproportionate Representation

A Look at Women Leadership in Congress

Cherise Charleswell

Political representation is defined as the election of officials, who then stand in for, and speak for a group of their constituents in the legislature, for a set period of time. Unfortunately, moneyed interests, the threat of being "primaried" by the tea party lunatic fringe, and other factors have dismantled this process. Over the last few years, and certainly for most of the Obama Administration, Congress has had a low approval rating - so much so that they have been nicknamed the "Do Nothing" Congress. These elected officials have been voting in lock-step with each other, and often opposite the opinions and desires of the American people. Consider the public's desire to implement some degree of regulations on gun use in this country (In 2012, 54% wanted more strict laws, and 90% wanted to expand background checks), and Congress's unwillingness to even deliberate on the matter. Thus, the questions have to be asked - Who are these congressional members really representing? What values do they represent? Who do they really speak for? What issues do they advocate for? What segment of the American populace do they look like? One merely has to take a glance at the collective members of the United State Congress to realize that there is, and has always been, a glaring problem. That problem has to do with representation, and not just political representation. In short, Congress, like The Academy of Motion Pictures and Arts, is not an equal-opportunity employer, and yes #CongressSoWhite. Women make up 50.8% of the U.S. population but only 19.4% of the current 114th U.S. Congress. In fact, Congress resembles a frat house where young intoxicated men are replaced with..

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What is Liberation Theology?

Michael Orion Deschamps

The left and right wing political paradigm is a very convenient one and has served political discourse since the French Revolution, when it was coined to describe the various sides of that conflict. In the religious world, especially the Christian world, the terms do not go away. In the Catholic world especially, the terms may be at their most potent and most accurate. There is a clear chasm between the Left and Right in the Catholic world and has been for quite a while. While many American Protestant churches offer a moderate, liberal or conservative interpretation of the gospel (depending on if you're a Baptist, which leans more conservative, or, say, a Methodist, who lean more progressive), the Catholic Church pushes towards extremes. Catholicism, with its drastic and sometimes intense traditions, is much more a hotbed of political radicalism than most Protestant sects. The right-wing history of the Catholic Church is infamous and horrible. From the Crusades all the way to the sex abuse scandals, there is a long history of reaction, corruption, fear and repression from the Vatican. It took decades for Oscar Romero's martyrdom to be vindicated while the church became associated with some of the world's worst regimes. It failed to stand in the way of the rise of the Third Reich..

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The Common Core of Being

A Conversation about the Philosophical Foundations of "Common Core" in Education

Tod Desmond and Boyce Brown

Standards-based education is the most influential educational policy reform model of the last several decades. Common Core is its latest and most pervasive iteration. The overarching tendency of standards-based education is to establish a set of general performance guidelines that dictate the skills each student should have in each subject at each grade. Common Core nationalizes this impulse. At its peak it was adopted by 46 states. This trend was accelerated when states were incentivized to adopt it to gain points in their applications for federal Race to the Top education funding. Three of the 46 states that had previously adopted it have since dropped out. These are South Carolina, Indiana and Oklahoma. Louisiana is pursuing a lawsuit against it and several other states have or are considering legislative action to withdraw from it. Criticism of the model stems from a variety of reasons, pedagogical, philosophical and political (right and left). The statewide longitudinal data systems program of the United States Department of Education, began in fiscal year 2005 and reauthorized with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009..

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