Camus, Obama & Torture: That Right There is Hell Breakin’ Loose

8 June 1972: Kim Ph?c, center left, running down a road near Trang Bang

after a South Vietnamese Air Force napalm attack.

Last week, I couldn’t figure out why the issue of torture

was consistently being presented in the media
. I have
been busy, writing about
other things, and preparing to
go to graduate school.

I turned to my colleague, Matthew Birkhold and was like

“Dude, why are they tripping of the torture documents
and the pictures, I don’t recall
torture being
made illegal. Is it in the Constitution?”

He then turned to me, and stared for a minute.

Then I said, “Oh, snap, the Geneva Conventions!”
You see, none of the articles I read mentioned
The Geneva
Convention, so I was unsure as
to scope of the implications
of a charge of torture. In
the article
What is a War Crime?, Tarik Kafala describes
the history and historical context of War Crimes. He writes,

The concept of war crimes is a recent one. Before World War II, it was generally accepted that the horrors of war were in the nature of war.

But during World War II the murder of several million people – mainly Jews- by Nazi Germany, and the mistreatment of both civilians and prisoners of war by the Japanese, prompted the Allied powers to prosecute the people they believed to be the perpetrators of these crimes.

The Nuremberg trials in 1945 and 1946 led to 12 Nazi leaders being executed.

A similar process started in Tokyo in 1948. Seven Japanese commanders were hanged, though the Allies decided not to put Emperor Hirohito in the dock.

These trials were essentially the precedents for the cases that the modern-day tribunal in The Hague hears.

In addition, individual governments, feeling that justice has not been done, have acted on their own initiative.

…Article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention defines war crimes as: “Wilful killing, torture or inhuman treatment, including… wilfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health, unlawful deportation or transfer or unlawful confinement of a protected person, compelling a protected person to serve in the forces of a hostile power, or wilfully depriving a protected person of the rights of fair and regular trial, …taking of hostages and extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly.”

To cover his behind, President Bush provided retroactive
for himself and his entire administration for
war crimes. What an amazing move in light of the information
that is being revealed.

I then began to put the pieces to together.
The alleged terrorist have to be housed outside of American
soil, less they be granted due process and a
a trial within the
United States court system. So long as they are housed in
unknown prisons around the world, they will not be charged
and there is no incentive to proceed with due process and give
them their day in court.

President Obama made a campaign promise to close
Guantanamo, however, Congress is saying, no can do,
unless he has a plan.

While writing this, the just reported that President Obama
has decided to transfer
Ahmed Ghailani to New York and
try him in civil court.
The main issue is that some members
of the Senate don’t want
alleged terrorist’s housed in
American prisons.
The fear seems to be rational and I
am unsure as to why.

Andrew Sullivan (aka Mr. Cantankerous and awesome) of
has eloquently summed up President
Obama’s reversal on releasing the
torture photos. Sullivan writes,

Slowly but surely, Obama is owning the cover-up of his predcessors’
war crimes. But covering up war crimes, refusing to prosecute
them, promoting those associated with them, and suppressing
evidence of them are themselves violations of Geneva and
the UN Convention. So Cheney begins to successfully coopt
his successor.

The rationale for the suppression is fatuous:
“their release would endanger the troops.”

You mean releasing evidence of war crimes would
render US soldiers more vulnerable to attack? How?

This IS a Democracy. There is due process.

I was sort of excited to write this piece, not because of
the topic,
but because so many elements that I have been
thinking about
this year have coalesced in this issue.

For instance, back in December, Thaddeus Clark sent
an Esquire article, The Falling Man, by Tom Junod,
photos of taken of folks who jumped out of the
World Trade
Center. Thaddeus and I started having a
conversation on
Twitter about Camus, whom I was
reading a lot
of at the time.

Camus was notoriously anti-death penalty. In his era, folks
decapitated using a guillotine.
Camus’s rationale was
that in order for the death penalty to
be exemplary and
actually discourage other people
committing crimes, then the
heads of the the decapitated
folks should be displayed for the
entire town to see.

Yes. Displayed. Camus was no joke. He was a big believer
in the transparency of death, if the purpose of the death was
deter folks from committing future crimes or vicious acts.

In the essay, Reflections on the Guillotine, Camus
writes about the death penalty and watching his
father return home and
throwing up, after witnessing
a public execution. He writes,

When the extreme penalty simply causes vomiting on the part of the respectable citizen, it is suppose to
how can anyone mistaken that it is likely, as it
out to be, to bring
peace and order into the community.

….People write about capital punishment as if they are a whisper… But when silence or tricks of language contributes to the maintaining abuse that must be reformed or a suffering that can be relieved, then there is no solution but to speak out and show the obscenity hidden under the verbal cloak

In the article, Falling Man, Tom Junod discusses a
left on the website, Here is New York, which
speaks to the discomfort
that we have with death and
photos of dead bodies. Junod writes,

.….on the Here Is New York Website, a visitor offers this commentary: “This image is what made me glad for censuring [sic] in the endless pursuant media coverage.” More and more, the jumpers — and their images — were relegated to the Internet underbelly, where they became the provenance of the shock sites that also traffic in the autopsy photos of Nicole Brown Simpson and the videotape of Daniel Pearl’s execution, and where it is impossible to look at them without attendant feelings of shame and guilt. In a nation of voyeurs, the desire to face the most disturbing aspects of our most disturbing day was somehow ascribed to voyeurism, as though the jumpers’ experience, instead of being central to the horror, was tangential to it, a sideshow best forgotten.

American’s are interesting. We enjoy death as entertainment
but are incapable of being a witness to the actual death’s in
Iraq and Afghanistan wars, death committed in our name.

If those photographs are released, the entire tone and scope
and conversation around the Iraq and Afghanistan war’s will change.

The men and woman (are their any women in Guantanamo)
who are being held in Guantanamo will be seen as both
human beings and as alleged terrorists. If they are tried
and found guilty of these awful acts, then they need to be

The American men and women, the American troops, who
have died will go from being abstract entities, in the minds
of the mainstream public, to human beings who have
died in our name.

We are all human beings.

We all have a mother.

We have all been children.

Someone changed all of our diapers.

The same way the photos of the My Lai Massacre
and of Kim Phuc significantly changed public opinion on
the Vietman war, the release of the torture photos will
change how we feel and hopefully inform our choices
around the Iraq and Afghanistan

It is time to release the photos.

Should the president release the photo’s?

What kind of country has one set of rules for its
and another for its prisoners?

Did President Bush plan on keeping the detainees
forever? It seems like it, as there was no plan
to deal with them via release?

What kind of Democracy holds alleged criminals

I’d Rather Be Poor and White than Rich and Black: McCain and the White Vote

Obama is a Hooligan, Terrorist and a Socialist?

Greg Sargent at Talking Points Memo
has an interesting piece
up on how McCain is fanning the flames of anger and rage on
the campaign trail. He writes,

Look, it’s easy to dismiss the guy at this rally as a crank. But the larger context here is important. The McCain campaign — with public statements and ads suggesting Obama is linked to terrorists and many other tactics — is very deliberately trying to whip up mass fear and loathing about the prospect of an Obama presidency.

When they stood up and started I was lightweight reminded of a
lynchmob. Before you dismiss me consider this.
Black men were
lynched under the auspices
of protecting the sexual well being
of the southern bell, however
there was an more stealth agenda
operating as well. Black men were also lynched as an act of voter
suppression and as an act of economic oppression. According to

There were often three motives for lynchings in the United States. The first was the social aspect: punishing some social wrong or perceived social wrong (such as a violation of Jim Crow) to restore social order.

Another motive was the economic aspect. For example, upon successful lynching of an African American farmer or immigrant merchant, the land would be available and the market opened for white Americans. In much of the Deep South lynchings peaked in the late 19th century, as whites turned to terrorism to dissuade blacks from voting and to enforce Jim Crow laws. In the Mississippi Delta lynchings of blacks increased in the early 20th century as white planters tried to enforce control of labor when more blacks became sharecroppers and laborers.

Lynchings occurred in frontier areas where legal recourse was distant. In the West cattle barons took the law into their own hands by hanging those they perceived as cattle thieves.

Journalist and anti-lynching crusader Ida B. Wells wrote in the 1890s that black lynching victims were accused of rape or attempted rape only about one-third of the time. The most prevalent accusation was murder or attempted murder, followed by a list of infractions that included verbal and physical aggression, spirited business competition and independence of mind. White lynch mobs formed to restore the perceived social order.[3]

How can working class whites identify with affluent whites over
other working
class Black folks, Latino folks and Asian folks?

It goes back to our history. Irish indentured servants chose
to identify with the affluent white owner class, rather than the Black
folks they were working alongside. Many white folks choose to
identify with
whiteness over class then, and many are choosing
over class now. It is important to note that many or not,
which gives us Obama’s multiracial, multiclass coalition.

This choice is why some working class whites can blame the
loss of their factory jobs on Affirmative Action, not on the fact
that Clinton’s NAFTA gave companies an incentive to move
their jobs to China, Mexico and India.
With the union jobs that have historically created the American middle
class are in China, we are a nation full of service workers (employed
at restaurants and retail jobs as opposed to factories that make
things) earning low wages, and little to no health insurance and
very little job security. Blame Affirmative Action?

Simply, whiteness is a currency. The fact that some white folks choose
race over class is indicative of this. Remember when Chris Rock said,

I love Black people, but I can’t stand N-ggas”. There is something
very similar
operating here. Didn’t Chris stop performing
that joke because white folks were laughing too hard?

Truth hurts.

Some Children Are Disposable

Because what is happening on the streets of Harlem to black
boys and girls is also happening on all America’s streets to
everybody. It’s a terrible delusion to think that any part of this
republic can be safe so long as 20,000,000 members of it are
menaced as they are.

Th reality that I am trying to get at is that the humanity of this
submerged population is equal to the humanity of anyone else,
equal to yours, equal to to that of your child. I know that when
I walk into a Harlem funeral parlor and see a dead boy lying there.
I know, no matter what the social scientists say, or the liberals
say, that it is extremely unlikely that he would be in his grave
so soon if he were not black
-James Baldwin, Words of a Native Son
Playboy December 1964

People vote differently when they have skin in the game.

They MOST certainly vote differently when their children comprise
said “skin”.

I had this thought in mind while reading folks rationalize why
it was “expected” for the Obama’s to send their children to
private school because they are “lawyers” or the children
of a senator.

I don’t have an issue with where the Obama’s send their
children to school per se. I have an issue with our whole
hearted acceptance of an individualized approach to education
that clearly does a disservice to our young people (across ethnicities).

Where is our willingness to critique and reform an educational
and economic
system that has allows parents, policy makers,
and politicians to focus on “their children” and say “good luck”
the others.

It takes a village went out with the Jheri Curl, hunh?

Its easy to be angry but then I began to think about what
an alternate future could look like.

How different would our neighborhoods look if the police
officers had to live in the neighborhoods they served?

How would our schools look if teachers had to live in the
neighborhoods they taught in?

What if public servants had to send their children to public schools?

If the children of the well off are only those that receive a
first rate education then isn’t that more of a feature of an
rather than a Democracy?

All children, in this country are entitled to a first rate education
regardless as to whether their parents are senators, janitors or addicts.

I don’t mean a drill and kill education. But an education that builds
critical thinkers who are content with who they are as human beings
and feel that they have a contribution to make to society.

Baldwin continues in the same essay about how the fate
of all of our children, and I would argue similar to the fate of
our global economy is tied together. He writes,

As long as my children face the future they face, and come to ruin
that they come to, your children are in danger too. They are
endangered above all by the moral apthay which pretends it isn’t
happening. This does something terrible to us. Anyone who
is trying to be conscious must begin to be conscious of that apathy
and must begin to dismiss the vocabulary which we’ve use so
long to cover it up, to lie about the way that things are.
-James Baldwin, Words of a Native Son
Playboy December 1964

Could an Obama Presidency Hurt Blacks?

I don’t do reactionary. At least I try not to. Its draining tiresome and?

I think it predisposed your body for fatal diseases.

So, when I read the paper, I think about the way that I am perceiving
information, especially when it is in the news about African Americans.

Why wouldn’t Obama’s support of a negro agenda fall under the
guise of change?

Why couldn’t Obama support a anti poverty agenda, that is?

necessarily targeted?towards Blacks but all low income folks??
Wasn’t that the Bobby K. Plan??What Matt has implied, yet DID not?
state overtly is that Obama will have to move with fear of being?
accused by Middle Class Whites of favorite Low Income Blacks.

Matt Bai

The argument here is that a President Obama, closely watched for signs of parochialism or racial resentment, would have less maneuvering room to champion spending on the urban poor, say, or to challenge racial injustice. What?s more, his very presence in the Rose Garden might undermine the already tenuous case for affirmative action in hiring and school admissions. Obama himself has offered only tepid support for a policy that surely helped enable him to reach this moment. In ?The Audacity of Hope,? he wrote: ?Even as we continue to defend affirmative action as a useful, if limited, tool to expand opportunity to underrepresented minorities, we should consider spending a lot more of our political capital convincing America to make investments needed to ensure that all children perform at grade level and graduate from high school ? a goal that, if met, would do more than affirmative action to help those black and Latino children who need it the most.?

Matt goes on to argue that the visibility of Obama as a THE black men,

will arguably make the lives of the incarcerated, undereducated,
?underemployed Black men FURTHER invisible?

Then there are the issues that Ben Jealous and others might raise: black men incarcerated at more than six times the rate of white men, black joblessness more than twice as high as the rate for white Americans. Just talking about such disparities as systemic problems could be harder for an African-American president ? for any African-American, really ? than it was before. ?If Obama is president, it will no longer be tenable to go to the white community and say you?ve been victimized,? Artur Davis told me. ?And I understand the poverty and the condition of black America and the 39 percent unemployment rate in some communities. I understand that. But if you go out to the country and say you?ve been victimized by the white community, while Barack Obama and Michelle and their kids are living in the White House, you will be shut off from having any influence.?

When does one Black man’s experience negate the lives of 800
thousand others? (There are 800 thousand Black man in prison, many
for non violent drug offenses).

So basically, we will be told “You have your Black President, now go
shut up

Obama’s presidency as an accelerator of White Middle Class apathy?

Where is the change in this? What agenda, if any, is Matt pushing here?

If this is the case then WE NEED to put faces on our stat’s otherwise
our children are going to perish and/or turn on us, and what will?
have have to say to them in the end?

Are you Ready to Have a Black Man President? No.

Obama Faces Racism in West VirginiaFor more funny movies, click here

The Times also reported last night on Hillary’s rationale for remaining in
the race. Patrick Healey writes,

Rebuffing associates who have suggested that she end her candidacy, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton has made it clear to her camp in recent days that she will stay in the race until June because she believes she can still be the nominee ? and, barring that, so she can depart with some final goals accomplished.

That video is priceless.

HiIllary knows the pledge of allegiances and so does John Mcain.

Birkhold has some very interesting things to so about Hillaries manipulation
of white racism. He writes,

Hillary Clinton?s statement that ?hard-working Americans, white Americans? won?t vote for Barack Obama is quite simply an endorsement of white racism. It also clearly demonstrates what is wrong with American politics.

Because Clinton may be right to say that these folks will never vote for Obama because he?s black illustrates why Obama is needed. Since delivering his now famous race speech in Philadelphia, Obama has consistently challenged working class whites to see the cause of their problems in Washington and in offshoring, not in black people. Clinton, on the other hand, instead of challenging working class whites to rethink how they got where they are, has capitalized on their racism saying that because they won?t vote for Obama, she should get the nomination.

…… A presidential hopeful who capitalizes on white racism to get herself elected is part of the problem and is not interested in making the country a better place to live. At a time when the country needs serious change, we need leadership that will challenge us to change. Because Clinton is using our nation?s unwillingness to change to her advantage, its time we demand she sit down. If we don?t demand this, we also endorse the racism of working class whites.

Macon D, over at Stuff White People Do, also has a post up
on Hillary and Whiteness. He writes,

White Americans tend to overlook the racism of Hillary’s playing, in this instance and others, of the white race card, as well as those by her husband Bill, and by other supporters of her campaign, such as Geraldine Ferraro. White Americans commonly overlook such racism because they’ve been trained into ignoring the more general white supremacist context of contemporary American society.

Democrats are making history this year because for the first time, their nominee will be a person who is either a woman or an African American. While Obama continually downplays his racial status, nearly everyone else foregrounds it. Clinton usually downplays her gender status, and with the exception of many white feminists, who receive little attention in the corporate media, nearly everyone else downplays her gender too. These disparate treatments of Obama and Clinton have more to do with the significance of race, which in this election seems to be trumping the significance of gender.

The White Race Card?

Hillary & White Racism?

What do you think?

The woman in the video stating “I don’t think a Black Man
should be president”.

The skeletons are out apparently.