Monday, September 28, 2015

News on Refugees, History, etc.

The refugee crisis continues in September and it will continue in October of 2015. Video from the border on September 15 and 16 showed Hungarian riot police using tear gas and water cannons indiscriminately against desperate refugees--including families with small children--clamoring to be allowed into the country from neighboring Serbia.  On September 21, Orban's right-wing Fidesz party backed with the far-right nationalist Jobbik party to pass a new law that allows the military to use even greater force against refugees who want to cross the border, including "rubber bullets, pyrotechnical devices, tear gas grenades and net guns," according to a statement on the Hungarian parliament's website. Hungary has deployed the army against refugees too. This happened after the parliament of Hungary passed a constitutional amendment on Monday, which permitted the deployment of the country’s army at the country’s borders to repel refugees. There were 152 votes in favor of this including the votes of the ruling Fidesz party and the far right Jobbik party. The bill received the two-thirds majority required for changes to the constitution. The new law will allow the armed forces to stop people at the border and search vehicles. The army will also be allowed to use batons, rubber bullets, and nets.  The initial draft also allowed police to search homes without a court order if they suspected the presence of refugees. This provision was then deleted from the final text following a wave of protest. Hungarian soldiers have already been mobilized on the country’s border with Serbia to erect a high barbed wire fence. They are also permitted to reinforce police units at the border. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban defended closing the border in parliament too. Orban has already built a 175 kilometer long fence on Hungary’s border with Serbia. It is currently building similar fences on its borders with Romania and Croatia. On September 15, a law also came into existence that made the illegal entry into Hungary a serious crime, punishable by three years in prison or deportation. The mobilization of the military at the border, while targeting refugees, aims at annulling fundamental democratic rights for the entire population. Civil rights activists have criticized this policy. People who are restrained in a camp under “house arrest” are not allowed to take phone calls or have personal conversations with a defense lawyer. Some in Germany, Latvia, and in other European countries want border fences or troops on the borders of their nations in order for them to prevent more refugees from coming into their nations. Slovenia has also sealed off its border using the harshest of measures. Last week Slovenian police used tear gas against hundreds of refugees, including children, on its border with Croatia. There is a war on refugees on Europe. People are risking their lives to survive war zones in the Middle East and many of them are treated as criminals instead of being treated in a humanitarian way. That is why refugees should never be scapegoated for the evil actions of ISIS and Western imperialists. Many Europeans advocate mass action and solidarity with the refugees in order for their rights to be protected. The rights of all immigrants and all refugees must be protected, so justice and democracy are maintained.

Recently, Pope Francis I canonized a person (or a California friar) who colonized Native Americans. The Pope did this in the Washington basilica. The canonized person is named Junipero Serra. Serra promoted Catholicism in California in about 300 years ago. Serra was involved in the colonizing of North America (which was also done by Euro-Americans). Corrina Gould, the co-founder Indian People Organizing for Change (and is a member of the Chochenyo Ohlone people, indigenous to what is now northern California) said of the Pope’s action: “The canonization of Serra is not complicated or complex. It is fairly simple, My ancestors were enslaved at this concentration camp created by Serra for his own ego, for the Spanish crown and for the Catholic Empire. Serra didn’t save us. We already had our own religion! In fact, we were the ones that were civilized and it was Serra that introduced us to HELL.” Valentin Lopez, chairman of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band told NBC News “It is very offensive to canonize the person who actually enslaved, whipped, tortured and separated families and destroyed our cultural and spiritual beliefs. How can that behavior be recognized as saintly behavior?”   Serra founded missions where Native Americans were imprisoned and tortured and where thousands died. In essence, Serra was no true “evangelizer.” He was an agent of colonialism, death, and destruction. He started missions in 1769.  As San Francisco magazine’s Gary Kamiya recently pointed out, “Every schoolchild knows that California Indians at Serra’s missions were taught the Gospel, fed and clothed; few know that many were also whipped, imprisoned, and put in stocks.” Serra’s mission, “to convert pagan Indians into Catholic Spaniards resulted not only in the physical punishment of countless Indians, but in the death of tens of thousands of them – and, ultimately, in the eradication of their culture.” Critics of Serra’s sainthood abound: Valentin Lopez, chairman of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band and whose ancestors were at Mission San Juan Batista, told Nolte that “the missions were hellholes,” “They brought suffering, destruction, death and rape,” to the natives. “I felt betrayed,” Louise Miranda Ramirez, tribal chairwoman of the Ohlone Costanoan Esselen Nation, whose people occupied much of northern California before Serra’s arrival, told Gary Kamiya. “The missions that Serra founded put our ancestors through things that none of us want to remember. I think that the children being locked into the missions, the whippings. … That pain hasn’t gone away.” Steven Hackel, history professor at the University of California, Riverside, and author of a 2013 biography of Serra, said “There’s no question that his goal was to radically alter Native culture, to have Indians not speak their Native languages, to practice Spanish culture, to transform Native belief patterns in ways that would make them much less Native. He really did want to eliminate many aspects of Native culture.” Terrorism and colonialism are evils that should be always be repudiated.

Obviously, life should be more than about Netflix. Both men and women in relationships should show a strong effort in caring for each other and showing that they want a relationship beyond just watching a movie. Dates in restaurants, parks, other countries, and in other places not only build up social skills and mutual bonds. They are fun and are exciting. Therefore, life is about balance. We can balance work and fun, so a fuller life can be realized. Any relationship should develop the human bonds of love, trust, and reciprocity. I am elated at the History Makers project. This is incredibly great news. Students need access to a diverse array of our people, so that they can be inspired to follow their dreams. Mentorships are important. Young people need to know that they have value, their lives count, and that they can have excellence via hard work and determination. These black role models should be applauded for their efforts. Technology via the digital archive is such a wonderful way for many people (especially black people) to know about the richness of the African American experience. Many of us have to go into college or be educated by our parents about black history in a comprehensive way. The digital archive gives people more access to black history in a way that's interactive and interesting. Last year the Centers for Disease Control said the prevalence of obesity dropped 43% among young children -- aged 2-4 -- between 2004 and 2012. Still, we have a long way to go. We know about the issues. The problem is that we have certain political figures who refuse to invest in the solutions, because of ideological reasons (some folks worship laissez faire capitalism instead of helping the people). It is true that many poor communities lack healthy food choices. That should change. We need better health care too and there are programs in the black community who are talking about this issue. Also, another important point must be made. We know that point. A healthy body image doesn't have to be extremely skinny. There are healthy people in a variety of sizes or physical appearances. We want people to be healthy without demonizing or disrespecting someone because of their weight. That point must be emphasized. A comprehensive approach is needed.

There can be no mention of Atlanta without mentioning the civil rights leader Andrew Young. He was born in March 12, 1932 in New Orleans, Louisiana to Daisy Fuller Young and Andrew Jackson Young Sr. He experienced Jim Crow segregation first hand in New Orleans. He graduated from Howard University. He earned a divinity degree from Hartford Seminary in Hartford, Connecticut in 1954. He was a preacher too. He preached in Marion, Alabama and followed nonviolent action as way for social change to come about. He encouraged African Americans to register to vote. During the 1950’s, he became a friend and ally of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He moved to Atlanta, Georgia in 1961 after he joined the SCLC in 1960. He was the executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. He was one of Dr. King’s lieutenants. Dr. King and Andrew Young agreed on many matters. Andrew Young was more conservative than the progressive Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Andrew Young worked in the Civil Rights Campaigns of Birmingham (1963), St. Augustine (1964), Selma (1965), and in Atlanta (1966). Andrew Young worked with Dr. King in Memphis too. He originally had doubts on Dr. King’s anti-Vietnam war campaign (later, he strongly opposed the Vietnam War) and on the Poor Peoples Campaign, but he allied with Dr. King ultimately. According to Harry Belafonte, Dr. King said that Andrew Young was a capitalist while he or Dr. King was not a capitalist. Andrew Young, according to Belafonte, said that it is just part of the system which was the problem, but Dr. King said that the entire system is the problem (and he wanted to change it). Dr. King was assassinated in 1968. Later, Andrew Young ran for Congress in Georgia as a Democrat in 1970. He lost. Andrew Young would be a member of the Congressional Black Caucus in the 1970’s as a Congressman. The CBC or the Congressional Black Caucus was invented originally to make sure that the political and social issues of black people are represented fairly in American society. He was appointed by Jimmy Carter in 1977 as Ambassador to the United Nations. Ambassador Young helped to secure Israeli-Egypt peace talks.

The peace treaty between Israel and Egypt was one of the greatest accomplishments of the Jimmy Carter Presidency. Ironically, Andrew Young was criticized in 1978 for telling the truth that America has hundreds of political prisoners in America (like civil rights and anti-war protesters). Andrew Young called for a Palestinian state back in the late 1970’s too. Sister Coretta Scott King and others inspired Andrew Young to run for the mayor of Atlanta. He won in 1981. Andrew Young as mayor continued and expanded Maynard Jackson's programs for including minority and female-owned businesses in all city contracts. The Mayor's Task Force on Education established the Dream Jamboree College Fair that tripled the college scholarships given to Atlanta public school graduates. He opposed apartheid in South Africa and he wanted economic development in the Third World, espically in Africa. In 1985, he was involved in renovating the Atlanta Zoo, which was renamed Zoo Atlanta. Young was re-elected as Mayor in 1985 with more than 80% of the vote. Atlanta hosted the Convention during Young's tenure. He was prohibited by term limits from running for a third term. During his tenure, he talked about how he was "glad to be mayor of this city, where once the mayor had me thrown in jail.” Andrew Young unsuccessfully ran for Governor of Georgia. He co-founded Good Works International, which has gone throughout controversies. As time went on in the 21st century, Andrew Young would be more neoliberal on some issues. He wrote letters praising the war monger Paul Wolfowitz, who was once the President of the World Bank. Wolfowitz (his ally is George Schultz) was one man (out of many) who was responsible for the terrible war on terror, especially the Iraq war that has killed thousands of human beings. Andrew Young, years ago, allied with Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria (who has a controversial history during the 1960’s and during the 1970’s). Andrew Young has worked with many big corporations too. Today, Andrew Young has worked in international business ventures, funding various programs, etc. To be fair, Andrew Young made great accomplishments for black people (including all people) and he made mistakes. So, we will always remember this important history of Atlanta.

By Timothy

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