Arrogance, incompetence and racism are becoming the signature features of American military rule in Iraq. Exhibit one: the siege of Falluja, where hundreds have died. Even more are set to die at the hands of U.S. Marines.
The realpolitik of the civil rights era is probably the least understood aspect of that halcyon period. Awash as it was with the moral high tone of redemptive suffering, of marching blacks and whites, and of America finally living up to its creed of equality and justice for all, its no small wonder that the eras actual policies and practices are not yet fully understood. Today, Dr. King is even the poster boy for conservative colorblind policies; former lieutenants of De Lawd (as SNCC activists called King) now use his legacy to advance self-aggrandizing schemes like the Wall Street Project.
At 12:30 p.m. on Jan. 16, 2004, Nicholas Yarris walked out of the Pennsylvania state prison at Greene after serving 22 years of a death sentence for a crime he did not commit. Although he celebrated that moment with triumphant hugs and tears of joy, Yarris quickly realized that his world had changed dramatically since he left it for death row in 1982. “My community is gone,” he said a few weeks later. “I am a ghost in my own life.”
I have a relic of sorts that I hold dear. Its a green foam beer cozy, worn thin from carrying hundreds of bottles of Michelob. Across it, in faded red letters, is the phrase No Excuses! The cozy belongs to my Uncle Peter, my moms brother. I swiped it the last time I saw him.
Andrew Boyd, founder of Billionaires for Bush, is excited these days. November is a long way off, way too far to call anything related to the presidential election. However, his street theater group is getting a lot of press these days, whether they are mocking Bush fundraisers in Long Island, calling for four more wars at the one-year anniversary demonstration against the war in Iraq or thanking the poor working suckers of America on April 15th for paying our share so we dont have to.