Monday, October 14, 2013

Columbus Day: A Terrible American Holiday

Happy Columbus Day, everybody. This has become a No Spoon tradition - a post reflecting on Columbus. Yet another year and another day off for me because of arguably the worst holiday in America. It feels wrong to celebrate somebody who massacred an indigenous population. It feels worse because kids are generally taught that Columbus was some sort of hero, and learn pretty much nothing about the atrocities he committed. Should we be teaching young kids about genocide? Well...at the very least, we shouldn't be teaching them to lionize somebody who did horrible things. Just keep in mind what Columbus actually did. We've known about the specifics, in pretty specific and graphic detail, for quite some time now, thanks to La Casas.

Anyway, I wanted to refer you to 3 4 things (see, I update this post every year!) on Columbus Day. One is a previous year's post about it from me. Two, check out this video from the National History Day documentary competition. It's relatively short (10 minutes). Three, it's high time to rethink Columbus Day. Four, check out this good read on Columbus, La Casas, and many things we simply have wrong about Columbus (for instance, did you know that Columbus was, in some way, the father of the trans-Atlantic slave trade?).


Columbus - The Hidden History from Nonchalant Filmmakers on Vimeo.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Podcast Episode 8: Reflections on the post 9-11 Decade

Note: this podcast originally appeared on No Spoon on October 14, 2011.

Photographer:  MANDEL NGAN Copyright/Source: AFP/Getty Images


  
On this two-part episode of There is No Spoon we discuss the post 9-11 decade. We cover the cultural and political shifts that we've witnessed in America since the day of the attacks. In particular, we address the leadership gaps, the PATRIOT act and the civil liberties that Americans have "traded" (knowingly or unknowingly) over the past 10 years.
Shahid Buttar, the Executive Director of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee offers an overview of just how far we've wandered from the ideals of a free American democracy, and we talk about whether we can find a way back on track so that we can reclaim some of our constitutional rights.

Joining the discussion are No Spoon team members: Will Ley,  Reggie Miller, Fouad Pervez and Jen Palacio.
Listen to Part 1: Listen to Part 2: Download part 1: Download this episode (right click and save)
Download part 2:Download this episode (right click and save)
More about the Bill of Rights Defense Committee:
Ten years ago on September 11, 2001, the United States suffered the worst terrorist attack in the nation’s history. In the panic of the weeks that followed, the American government began changing its counterterrorism policies in ways that undermined constitutionally guaranteed civil liberties, culminating in the passage of the USA PATRIOT Act on October 26, 2001. Within two weeks of that law’s passage, on November 10, 2001, organizers in Massachusetts founded the Bill of Rights Defense Committee to fight against that dangerous law and others that followed.
To mark the tenth anniversary of these pivotal events in American history and the history of our organization itself, the Bill of Rights Defense Committee is running a series of articles looking back on the last ten years.

The 9/11 Decade - A Leadership Gap

Note: This post originally appeared on No Spoon on September 18, 2011.

We've just recently seen the 10 year anniversary of 9/11. There have been countless articles and pieces of analysis in the media about the topic, but I wanted to touch on an issue that I think many have neglected: the lack of political and civic leadership in framing 9/11 as a tragedy to connect Americans with others across the globe, which I'd argue has resulted in mostly a lost decade. Instead, 9/11 became an event to separate America from others. This helped enable hyper-nationalism and increased American exceptionalism, both very unusual given the nature of the event. Many leaders, particularly political ones, played this up. A consequence has been that Americans are, today, more likely to distance themselves from various out-groups, both outside of, and in, America (the Islamophobia industry is one of the downstream effects of this).

The Greatest Casualty of 9/11: The America we Knew

Note: This post originally appeared on No Spoon on September 11, 2011.
Liberty
Shahid Buttar is the Executive Director of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee.

Reflections on the 9/11 attacks are important and moving. But most overlook the enduring legacy of the attacks, in the form of the vastly greater damage done to American principles over the past decade. Whether in the context of surveillance, torture, or the congressional cowardice that has enabled them, our leaders have sullied the legacy of an America that once inspired the world.

Earlier this summer, when facing a crucial accountability moment for an agency that continues to abuse the rights of millions of Americans, members of Congress asked no tough questions, avoided controversy, and submitted to a White House proposal to entrench the FBI leadership—at the same time as they fought to the knuckles over issues that Congress created in the first place by spending the country into a fiscal black hole and absurdly cutting taxes in the midst of multiple wars.

9/11 - 12 Years Later

We at No Spoon have written and discussed the events of September 11th and American society in the years after quite a bit over the years. A lot of what we've discussed is as relevant today as it was then, so I wanted to put up some of our previous posts. Look for them momentarily. In the meantime, I can't help but think of all the innocent people whose lives were taken or shattered in those planes, those towers, the Pentagon, Afghanistan and Iraq, the northern areas of Pakistan, Yemen, as well as all the transgressions against the Constitution and the Bill of Rights in the name of security.