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BainsBane

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Member since: Sat Sep 15, 2012, 01:49 PM
Number of posts: 29,207

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Corrections (for outside readers)

since Little Blue has said he doesn't bother to read my posts. I nonetheless feel compelled to correct some of this so as not to allow false information to stand unchecked in case anyone comes across his post and decides to take it as fact.

Slave masters certainly did vary considerably as individuals, that is true. Many slave narratives, like that of Frederick Douglass, show a change were a slave started with a reasonable master but was later sold or hired out to a particularly cruel one. To argue that treatment depended on the type of crop produced, however, is not accurate. Certainly some work was harder than others, but the treatment depended on the mores in the particular region as well as the character of the planter. There were literally hundreds of different occupations on sugar plantations. English lacks a word to describe the sugar plantation complex, known as ingenios in Spanish and engenhos in Portuguese. Many slaves worked as field laborers and others operating some of the highly skilled functions necessary to construct, maintain, and operate the sugar mill, or trapiche. See Manuel Moreno Fraginals, The Sugarmill on sugar ingenios in Cuba. He lists the huge variety of slave occupations necessary to keep the sugar plantation complex going.

Historians debated for years where treatment was harsher in the US or in Catholic countries in Latin America. There was no resolution to the debate. Some aspects, like whippings, were more severe in places like Brazil (the country that received the overwhelming majority of African slaves), but they also had greater protection under the law and greater opportunities for manumission. The bottom line is that slavery was incredibly oppressive wherever it existed, though aspects of the institution did vary from region to region and country to country.

While house slaves did not do arduous labor in the fields, they remained under the master's, and mistress's, gaze all the time. To survive, they had to wear a mask of compliance that belied their real feelings (referred to by historians as the "Sambo mask"). They were not "treated like family." Planters told themselves they treated their slaves like family, but one does not own family members or sell off their children. As union troops approached during the war, those household slaves that masters believed were "like family" were often the first to flee. (See Leon Litwack, Been in the Storm so Long). That demonstrated that they certainly did not see their owners as family.

To argue that slave women had it "easiest" is patently false and ignores the reality of life in the Big House. Women working in households were regularly raped, though field slaves were also raped. Masters, however, had easier access to female house slaves. Read, for example, the testimonial by a former slave and abolitionist. Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in a life of a Slave Girl. There is not a single testimonial of a slave woman that does not speak about her rape by a master, overseer, or member of the master's family. It was not uncommon for slave girls to bear their master's children. Plantation mistresses often took their frustrations over their husbands infidelity out on slave girls by inflicting particularly brutal punishments. (See Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, Within the Plantation Household).

To argue that female household slaves were "concubines" who had it easiest is a completely false and offensive statement. It ignores the fact those women were owned, regularly beaten by masters, slaves, and overseers, and that they were repeatedly raped and lived under the close surveillance of the master's family. How "easy" would your life be if you were raped on a continual basis? That reality has led historians to write about slave women's double-exploitation, as both forced laborers and sex slaves. See Deborah Gray-White, Ar'n't I a Woman?: Female Slaves in the Plantation South. I also found this article on double-exploitation online through Jstor, which allows limited free access.
http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/4030682?uid=3739736&uid=2129&uid=2&uid=70&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid=21104576137323

I can't help but observe this discussion over slave women "having it easy" dovetails with recent discussions on prostitution and human trafficking. The fact that a slave is owned and has no right to choose her sexual partners, one would think, should be obvious to anyone. Little wonder some think human trafficking not worth concerning themselves with, while others insist that underage girls as young as 9, as one poster insisted, willingly "choose the profession" of prostitution. People give lip service to notions of consenting adults and ignore that a great deal of the sex trade is anything but. Whether now or in the Antebellum era, slaves do not consent to sex. They are forced into it because they are owned. Children and young teens cannot consent to sex because they are under age. These are basic concepts that one would think anyone would understand. Sadly that is not the case.

Who was it who mentioned "glaring hypocrisy"?

Oh, right. This guy: http://www.democraticunderground.com/?com=view_post&forum=1002&pid=5361450

The invisible victims of victimless crime

In a discussion about legalizing prostitution, no one wants to pay attention to my personal first-hand experience with the subject. The frustration I feel at being ignored in that discussion mirrors my personal experience with the subject matter.

People say prostitution is a victimless crime, but that only imagines two people in the scenario: the John and a willing sex worker, presumably an adult. There is lots of evidence about underage prostitution and how legalizing prostitution leads to increased human trafficking, which is a fancy word for slavery. I set that aside here to speak of my own experience as someone who grew up in an area where prostitution flourished.

The inner city neighborhood I grew up in was a main area for prostitution. The main street in the neighborhood housed a police station, but since the cops were paid off, prostitution was essentially legal in the area.

Starting at age 9 or 10 (as soon as I moved to the neighborhood), adult men would stop me when I walked down the street to try to get me to have sex with them. It happened to my sister, and I imagine every other little girl (and likely many boys) in the neighborhood as well. This was part of my daily experience growing up. These Johns didn't live in the area. They had cars (many in my neighborhood did not), and their cars were nice. They doubtless came from the suburbs, where guys like them always come from. Preying on children came with no consequences because they were protected by the police. As residents of that neighborhood, we had little recourse. As a child, I was completely powerless. The police didn't care.

Now, when I try to share that story to demonstrate that prostitution is not the victimless crime people insist, I am again rendered invisible. The OP proclaimed he would not read my post, even though in the subject line of my second response I was clear I was talking about children being preyed upon. The victims of this victimless crime remain invisible. Our experiences are ignored because we don't fit the popular neoliberal narrative. Well I am here to say we exist, even if some find our lives inconvenient. I am no longer 10 yrs old, and now I will shout my story for all to hear so that people understand there is another aspect to this issue. If people ignore it, they ignore the lives of children and adults in poor communities throughout this country--communities that serve as Third World playgrounds for the middle- and upper-middle class men who want us to remain invisible.

Abu Ghraib Torture Victims May Sue U.S. Corporation, Appeals Court Rules

This story is over a month old, but I don't recall seeing it posted here. It seems pertinent to recent discussions. Of course these are civil rather than criminal proceedings.

June 30, 2014, Richmond, VA – Today, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that victims of torture and abuse in Abu Ghraib prison could pursue legal claims for their abuse against private military contractors. The appeals court ruling overturned a lower court decision that had barred the survivors from suing U.S. corporations involved in the torture in U.S. courts. U.S. military investigators had determined in 2004 that private U.S.-based contractor CACI Premier Technology, Inc. (CACI) had participated in torture and other “sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses” of detainees at Abu Ghraib, yet a district judge ruled that the 2013 Supreme Court decision in Kiobel v. Shell/Royal Dutch Petroleum foreclosed claims arising out of Iraq. Today’s decision, by contrast, recognized that CACI could be held liable in U.S. courts under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) for its role in the torture. The case, Al Shimari v. CACI International Inc., was filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) on behalf of four Iraqi men who were tortured at Abu Ghraib.

Said CCR Legal Director Baher Azmy, “Today’s court ruling affirms that U.S. corporations are not entitled to impunity for torture and war crimes and that holding U.S. entities accountable for human rights violations strengthens this country’s relationship to the international community and basic human rights principles.”

Kiobel recognized a “presumption against extraterritorial application” of the ATS, but explicitly held that the presumption could be displaced in cases that “touch and concern” the United States “with sufficient force.” At Abu Ghraib, the men were subjected to electric shocks, sexual violence, forced nudity, broken bones, and deprivation of oxygen, food, and water. U.S. military investigators concluded that several CACI employees serving as interrogators directed abuse of Abu Ghraib employees in order to “soften” them up for interrogations. The court of appeals found that human rights abuses committed by a U.S. corporation at a U.S.-controlled prison in a conspiracy with U.S. soldiers, does “touch and concern” the United States sufficiently to permit the claims to proceed.

“This is an important ruling not just for our clients, who have sought justice for over a decade; it affirms the vitality of human rights litigation even after the Supreme Court’s decision in Kiobel.” continued Azmy.


Links to this and the previous ruling at: http://ccrjustice.org/newsroom/press-releases/abu-ghraib-torture-victims-may-sue-u.s.-corporation%2C-appeals-court-rules

Obama and War Crimes, 2009, 2011 and 2014

Ever since I saw the fuss on DU on Friday, I've been wondering why people only now are outraged about the Obama administration's decision not to prosecute war crimes, when I recall it's being clear early on, even before his inauguration, that he had decided not to have the Justice Department pursue indictments.

I remember objecting to it at the time, but not many people seemed concerned. Yet suddenly Friday people here began to express outrage due to the comments in the President's press conference. We even have an OP reposting a piece by Charlies Pierce in Esquire, positioned below Cameron Diaz in a wet shirt, declaring the President's statement at the press conference "the single most revolting thing this president ever said in public."

Now I may be at a disadvantage in not having had television the past couple of months, but I am having trouble understanding why those comments were worse than his decision six years ago not to proceed with full investigations and prosecutions of war crimes. Is my lack of outrage due to being deprived a repeat loop on cable television reminding me how this above all else is a seminal moment the Obama Presidency? Did I hallucinate prior press coverage from years ago making clear no prosecutions would take place?

No, it turns out I did not hallucinate. Jan 11, 2009, NYTimes:

President-elect Barack Obama signaled in an interview broadcast Sunday that he was unlikely to authorize a broad inquiry into Bush administration programs like domestic eavesdropping or the treatment of terrorism suspects. . . .

In the clearest indication so far of his thinking on the issue, Mr. Obama said on the ABC News program “This Week With George Stephanopoulos” that there should be prosecutions if “somebody has blatantly broken the law” but that his legal team was still evaluating interrogation and detention issues and would examine “past practices.”

Mr. Obama added that he also had “a belief that we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards.”

“And part of my job,” he continued, “is to make sure that, for example, at the C.I.A., you’ve got extraordinarily talented people who are working very hard to keep Americans safe. I don’t want them to suddenly feel like they’ve got spend their all their time looking over their shoulders.” . . .

There was no immediate reaction from Capitol Hill, where there has been a growing sense that Mr. Obama was not inclined to pursue these matters. In resisting pressure for a wider inquiry, he risks the ire of influential Democratic lawmakers on Congressional judiciary and intelligence committees and core constituencies who hoped his election would cast a spotlight on President Bush’s antiterror efforts.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/12/us/politics/12inquire.html?_r=0


Using the Google machine, I found some articles from 2011 maintaining that the President feared a coup if he pressed for prosecutions.

Advisors for President-Elect Barack Obama feared the new administration would face a coup if it prosecuted Bush-era war crimes, according to a new report out this morning.

Christopher Edley Jr., law dean at the University of California and a high-ranking member of the Obama transition team, made the revelation during a 9/11 forum at his law school on September 2. Andrew Kreig, director of the D.C.-based Justice Integrity Project, reports that Edley's comments were in response to questions from Susan Harman, a long-time California peace advocate.


Edley apparently tried to justify Obama's "look forward, not backwards" policy toward Bush-era lawbreaking. Instead, Kreig writes, Edley revealed the Obama team's weakness in the face of Republican thuggery:

Edley's rationale implies that Obama and his team fear the military/national security forces that he is supposed be commanding--and that Republicans have intimidated him right from the start of his presidency even though voters in 2008 rejected Republicans by the largest combined presidential-congressional mandate in recent U.S. history. Edley responded to our request for additional information by providing a description of the transition team's fears, which we present below as an exclusive email interview. Among his important points is that transition officials, not Obama, agreed that he faced the possibility of a coup.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/09/07/1014303/-Obama-Advisors-Feared-a-Coup-if-the-Administration-Prosecuted-War-Crimes


I don't know if those fears about a coup were legitimate. They strike me as exaggerated, and I certainly can't comment on what actual threat might have existed. However, my question to DU is the following: Where were you on this issue in Jan. of 2009? Were you outraged then? Did you communicate those views to the President? Or did you wait until this past Friday to become upset? Why did it take six years? And why was the speech Friday worse than the interview on ABC's This Week in Jan. 2009 when it was clear he had decided not to move forward on prosecutions? Did you think he would magically change his mind over those six years? Or did you just not think about it until Friday's press conference? How is it possible that the statement on Friday can actually be worse than the decision not to prosecute six years ago?

Since WWII?

Why the limit? Most of the most contentious crises were in the nineteenth century, the Bank and Nullification being commonly cited. Ultimately the Secession of Southern States would prove to be the ultimate Constitutional Crisis, leading to Civil War.

Constitutional Crisis is a term greatly overused. Conflicts between branches of governments emerge that are not crises. While I would think it clear that the CIA's spying of the senate violated the constitution, a violation is not the same as a crisis. For it to be a crisis, the Executive and Congressional branches would both have to assert their actions were justified and that they each in turn had authority over the issue. The CIA and the White House are not claiming that to be the case. They admit it was a violation. Therefore no constitutional crisis is triggered. https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&frm=1&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CB0QFjAA&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.law.upenn.edu%2Flive%2Ffiles%2F104-levinsonbalkin157upalrev7072009pdf&ei=yn7cU9zKMoydyAT374KgAg&usg=AFQjCNECWsJN5yPSZcbzU8-8FViORj2riQ&sig2=zfq9x53DDQST5jv6vHQqBA

The author of the article above cites Little Rock in 1957 as an example of a type of constitutional crisis where different branches of government each assert authority and refuse to acknowledge the authority of the other.

I can tell you of constitutional violations I consider more concerning than spying on congress: NSA surveillance and effective nullification of the Fourth Amendment. I do not consider spying of congress more serious than of ordinary Americans. I am relieved to know that you discovered congress exists, however. You have spent at least a year focusing entirely on the Presidency and it's potential occupants.

I would also say suspension of Habeas Corpus during the war on terror is of greater concern.

In terms of the CIA particularly, involvement in the assassination of Americans on US soil in furtherance of a brutal right-wing dictatorship strikes me as more serious. http://www2.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB199/ As well as Americans and Chileans killed in the aftermath of the US sponsored coup that overturned the oldest democracy in Latin America. http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&frm=1&source=newssearch&cd=1&ved=0CBsQqQIoADAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fpeoplesworld.org%2Fjudicial-finding-in-chile-says-u-s-complicit-in-death-of-young-americans%2F&ei=1XPcU-HTMpOHyATVvoGQBw&usg=AFQjCNHAJIes8opvby8KPstz1HGrc1ZY9A&sig2=iD3l6HWU3ehcfP8B2OVyWw

The Iran Contra affair violated congressional authority since the White House and CIA broke the the Boland Amendment that made it illegal to arm the contra rebels seeking to overturn the Sandinista government in Nicaragua.

The US sponsored coup against Arbenz in 1954 was atrocious. US action was influenced by the fact that both the Director of the CIA and Secretary of State were major stock holders in United Fruit, a US company whose holdings were threatened by land reform proposed by the Arbenz government (only lands not currently cultivated). That coup led to the installation of a series of military dictatorships that would, with military aid and instruction by the US military (in the School of the Americas) and CIA, the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Guatemalans, mostly indigenous, over the subsequent four decades. That included torture of Guatemalans and Americans, like Sister Diana Ortiz, who wrote about her torture at the hands of an American. http://www.amazon.com/The-Blindfolds-Eyes-Journey-Torture/dp/1570755639

Other horrors by the CIA included the overthrow in 1953, of the Mosaddegh administration in Iran. That would set the conditions that would lead to the Iranian revolution of 1979, whose consequences we continue to face, including through the arming of Hamas and the conflict going on this very moment.

Really, Brenner has nothing on Allen Dulles, head of CIA during both of the above coups as well as the Bay of Pigs.

So it's one thing to say the spying on congress is bad and to give reasons why, but your ahistorical hyperbole irritates me. It seems the point as ever is to pretend Obama is the worst President in history. I have long grown weary of it.

On Banning, Criticism, and Liberalism

I was engaged in a discussion about why some people mistake criticism with calls for banning. The question about distinctions of liberalism vs. libertarianism also emerged. Unfortunately, as I was writing my response, that thread was deleted, so I will post it here, along with some context for clarification.

Essentially the other thread, as best as I can recall, asked why people support banning of books and how they see resistance to banning as being libertarian as opposed to liberal.

I noted that people mistake dissent for calls for banning. They seem to think any criticism of anything related to sex is the same as banning. Every time anything related to sex is discussed, a good portion of members insist on bringing out the banning canard, when in fact no one that I've seen has promoted banning. I have to wonder why it is so many have trouble with dealing with dissent as actually articulated and why they time and time again ignore those arguments and instead create false charges of banning? I also noted that most of the criticisms made were not in fact about consensual sex but rape, or what they believed to be rape.

When scolded for refusing to address the question of libertarianism, I wrote this reply (before the thread was deleted). The OP seemed more interested in definitions of libertarian vs. liberal, whereas I was more concerned with substance of arguments being made.

Since most DUers do not describe themselves as libertarian. I choose to avoid such labels whenever possible. A strawman about banning has been set up. NO ONE has proposed banning. No one I have seen, and whenever I have asked for examples they provide none. The question is why is it that people cannot honestly deal with the arguments people make without falsely attributing entire positions people have not taken?

I choose to avoid such labels because people have such widely different understandings of them. As one poster noted, they serve to insult more than anything. However, someone did send me these definitions from Wikipedia:


Liberalism (from the Latin liberalis) is a political philosophy or worldview founded on the idea of liberty and equality. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally they support ideas such as free and fair elections, civil rights, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, free trade, and a right to life, liberty, and property.

Libertarianism is the group of political philosophies which advocate minimizing coercion and emphasize freedom, liberty, and voluntary association. Libertarians generally advocate a society with significantly less government compared to most present day societies
.

I have encountered one person on DU who used the term libertarian to describe himself and insisted it could be a leftist ideology. That has not been my understanding, so I cannot speak to that point of view.

I think what is happening is that people have very different understandings of liberalism and ultimately maintain differing core values. Some focus to a large extent on the rights of the individual, while others care more about equal rights, on racial and gender equality in particular. It is my view that many are not aware of the extent to which their conception of liberty is bound by race, gender, and class. The emphasis on sex as inviolate is built around a male-gendered conception of rights in which women are extensions of male desire. Yes, many women maintain similar views, just as many poor people uphold the rights of the wealthy without understanding they undermine their own position in the process. The notion that everything in society having to do with sex is good and should never be criticized ignores the extent to which cultural representations serve the interests of capital and patriarchy. Rape, "elastic" notions of consent, and objectification are examples.

If you want to understand libertarianism or why someone calls others libertarian, you will need to engage with someone who uses that label.


NOTE: This is not an OP to discuss the much referenced book but rather the general ideas outlined above.

Someone mentioned furries!

and I got all excited!











Them's fighing words

I find this thread disturbing

The number of recs makes it more so. Using the Holocaust as a point of reference for discussing Israeli actions in Palestine is just wrong. The Holocaust was an event unparalleled in human history. That it sought the extinction of the Jewish people makes this analogy all the more troubling. Israel is engaged in an occupation and war on Palestine. It does not have gas chambers set up; they are not using Arab skin to make trophies, or any of the other horrific actions that was the Holocaust. However unjust you find Israel's actions in Palestine, it does not approach that level, and I consider this sort of equivalency disturbing.

I am of the view that the Holocaust and Hitler should not be used as reference points for any current event. But to then use it to refer to Israel, a nation that is overwhelmingly Jewish, is particularly disturbing. We do not see Schindler's List referenced in regard to the US invasion of Iraq, to Assad's battle against insurgents (the majority of whom are not, like him, Alawite). We don't see it used to reference the detention and rounding up of immigrant children along the border or Muslims picked up after 9/11. Nor do we see it as a comparison with the Mexican War, in which it is possible to argue that the US took a position similar to Israel toward Palestine.

Why do we see it in this instance? Because Israel is a nation of Jews, and Jews were the target of the Holocaust. Think about that.
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