Progressive. Queer. Feminist. Opinionated.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Good Merchandise and Howard Zinn

I'm sure none of you need an excuse to spend more money, but I found a site with very excellent merch.

POAC Store
is the shop kept by the people who run The Project for theOld American Century. POAC has their Principles and some other background up to read. In a nutshell, they are a group I would place on the far left (with crazy lil' ol' me) but even if you are not in agreement with their politics, they make some damn fine artwork. They sell some of the pieces (all in the style of old-fashioned war posters) on clothing, as prints or as magnets. Give it a look.

Here are some of my favorites:

Also, on a totally unrelated note, Howard Zinn (My historian boyfriend --- I'm losing so many butch points for admitting that) wrote a nifty article critiquing our current censensus judicial philosophy. Or, rather, politicians' judicial philosphy.

Even listening to pieces of Roberts's confirmation hearings was enough to induce despair: the joking with the candidate, the obvious signs that, whether Democrats or Republicans, these are all members of the same exclusive club. Roberts's proper "credentials," his "nice guy" demeanor, his insistence to the Judiciary Committee that he is not an "ideologue" (can you imagine anyone, even Robert Bork or Dick Cheney, admitting that he is an "ideologue"?) were clearly more important than his views on equality, justice, the rights of defendants, the war powers of the President. Read On.

He's shrewd and a good writer (I'm reading his A People's History of the United States right now --- he explores early feminism and civil liberties in a voice more conscious of the underdog than the Power Elite) Also, he's been around the history scene a good while so he's had ample time to assemble his version of the big picture. It really comes out in this article.

There is enormous hypocrisy surrounding the pious veneration of the Constitution and "the rule of law." The Constitution, like the Bible, is infinitely flexible and is used to serve the political needs of the moment. When the country was in economic crisis and turmoil in the Thirties and capitalism needed to be saved from the anger of the poor and hungry and unemployed, the Supreme Court was willing to stretch to infinity the constitutional right of Congress to regulate interstate commerce. It decided that the national government, desperate to regulate farm production, could tell a family farmer what to grow on his tiny piece of land.

Also, it's nice that someone says this out loud.

It would be naive to depend on the Supreme Court to defend the rights of poor people, women, people of color, dissenters of all kinds. Those rights only come alive when citizens organize, protest, demonstrate, strike, boycott, rebel, and violate the law in order to uphold justice.

Here's that big picture quality coming out. He's clearly impassioned about all of this, but I like the way he stays fairly unemotional here. This is a violent country, built on the tides of rightious anger. That's the way it's worked for 200 years.

He closes with a rallying cry, though he is also consoling us. We should take his advice.

Still, knowing the nature of the political and judicial system of this country, its inherent bias against the poor, against people of color, against dissidents, we cannot become dependent on the courts, or on our political leadership. Our culture-the media, the educational system-tries to crowd out of our political consciousness everything except who will be elected President and who will be on the Supreme Court, as if these are the most important decisions we make. They are not. They deflect us from the most important job citizens have, which is to bring democracy alive by organizing, protesting, engaging in acts of civil disobedience that shake up the system. That is why Cindy Sheehan's dramatic stand in Crawford, Texas, leading to 1,600 anti-war vigils around the country, involving 100,000 people, is more crucial to the future of American democracy than the mock hearings on Justice Roberts.

That is why the St. Patrick's Four need to be supported and emulated. That is why the GIs refusing to return to Iraq, the families of soldiers calling for withdrawal from the war, are so important.

That is why the huge peace march in Washington on September 24 bodes well.

Let us not be disconsolate over the increasing control of the court system by the right wing.

The courts have never been on the side of justice, only moving a few degrees one way or the other, unless pushed by the people. Those words engraved in the marble of the Supreme Court, "Equal Justice Before the Law," have always been a sham.

No Supreme Court, liberal or conservative, will stop the war in Iraq, or redistribute the wealth of this country, or establish free medical care for every human being. Such fundamental change will depend, the experience of the past suggests, on the actions of an aroused citizenry, demanding that the promise of the Declaration of Independence-an equal right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness-be fulfilled.


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