Writing

Piece 59 – In Defense of Bail Reform By. Raimondo Graziano

In Defense of Bail Reform

By. Raimondo Graziano

 

There is a deep history of systemic racism and deliberate incarceration pointed at predominantly black and brown communities, people of color and in some of the most historically marginalized communities across the United States. It is something that is deeply ingrained in American culture and finds its sordid roots in the very founding of the nation, in that fateful deliberate choice to allow the birth of a new nation under the oppression that is the institution of slavery. In that moment, the moment we stand at today, was forged. A nation conceived with the ideals of liberty and justice for all founded upon a foundation whose core pillar which would last for nearly a hundred years after its founding, denied that very ideal to a large portion of the population, thus sowing the continuance of the plague of racism that still deeply grips this country. In our failure to leave slavery in the past with the founding of our country we set the stage for generational poverty, income inequality between whites and blacks, and the perpetuating of racism and discrimination.

This plight did not end either with the emancipation proclamation, or the 13th or 14th Amendment. Racists in government, whose very thinking is antithetical to the god they often defer to, crafted devious methods and means to deny people their rights long after the end of slavery. These empty husks of humanity, parading as human beings, found ways of stifling communities who never had the chance to build wealth and foundations here uninhibited by a system meant to keep them in the mud – from suppressing votes, to housing and labor discrimination and the stain of segregation which lasted well into the 20th century, and in some cases still to this day – racists hell bent on the belief that one race is superior to another, that one race has divine favor while the other is lesser have imbedded themselves in American society and pushed an agenda diametrically opposed to the ideals that this nation was founded on. Though perhaps the greatest sin of all, is denying a free man his freedom through targeted and systemic enforcement of laws built to suppress the black and brown communities of this country through mass incarceration.

Righting the wrongs of our past will take time, and in many cases will take measures that some may deem extreme, the circumstances under which these problems first arose where in essence extreme, inhumane, brutal, and demand rectification. The United States has the largest incarcerated population of any nation in the entire world – land of the free? When a quarter of the worlds prison population rests in the supposed seat of the steward of democracy, we indeed have a problem. For decades now, black and brown communities have been disproportionately targeted for crimes solely based on the color of their skin. Studies have shown that blacks and whites commit crimes at the same rate, then why is that the large majority of the prison population is black men? Many rotting in a jail cell for minor possession charges, and facing insurmountable odds upon being reingratiated in society – if they ever manage to get out.

With polices such as mandatory minimums, coupled with a discriminatory attitude in police forces we have condemned a generation of black and brown individuals to languish away in jail, sons without their mothers, daughters without their fathers, families torn and teared apart – a deep moral scar on the very face of this country. In order for us to right these wrongs bold action must be taken, we must work to stem the tide of continued incarceration through measures that may be unpopular, but that are necessary. The problem we have created must be rectified, and if some may view them as extreme than they fail to see the severity of the situation. Not only are we trying to end mass incarceration, but we have to account for those imprisoned already. It is as if a one man or woman is holding two walls of inequity at arm’s length from crushing and suffocating him or her, and that man or woman is named liberty. The Bail Reforms enacted in New York State are a necessary first step towards righting the wrongs of our morally degenerative epoch in this country, we should not overturn them, we should work to ensure they are enforced effectively and to the benefit of all people, especially those most affected by the racism that persists here, and all across this nation.

Writing

Piece 43 – Tensions with Iran, A Turning Point By. Raimondo Graziano

 

Tensions with Iran, A Turning Point

By. Raimondo Graziano

In recent weeks tensions between the United States and Iran have reached a fever pitch. The relations between our nation and their own have always been strained, and we are, as is often the case, partly responsible for the situation that currently exists today. After all it is our deposition of their democratically elected leader, decades ago, that spurred on the revolution in the late 70’s. And it is the withdrawal of the United States from the JCPOA, negotiated under the former President and withdrawn from by the current, that has created both an air of uncertainty and a potential international crisis, regardless of the merits of the deal that was struck.

Now, nations have come to trade blows with one another in the past while limiting the severity of escalations, in many cases it is a ruse to bring one and the other to the negotiating table to hammer out differences. What is different now is the degree at which escalations are increasing, and tone with which this war of words is being wage has taken a sharper lean. One expects belligerence and bellicose rhetoric from the President of the United States, after all it is his way. Though for an internationally recognized moderate like Hassan Rouhani, it is an alarming escalation.

The door for diplomacy is closed in his words due to the ratcheting up of sanctions by the Americans, meant to cripple the Iranian economy. If the door to diplomacy is closed, what then? In recent weeks there have been attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf and in oil fields in Iraq, a downing of an American surveillance craft, an execution of an American prisoner and numerous other acts of aggression by the Iranians. We are perhaps stumbling into a war, whose reach and scope would be catastrophic. It is true Iran is the world’s largest purveyor of state sponsored terrorism. Our allies in the region are itching for a conflict to settle their own personal scores with the nation. Saudi Arabia and Iran are locked into a proxy war in Yemen over their numerous differences. Israel has threatened aggression before for their fear of annihilation of the state – a threat propagated by the Iranians themselves. It is obvious that conflict is in the air.

What’s troubling is not only the potential for miscalculation and careless loss of life, but the strangle it will have on global oil markets as the strait of Hormuz is a critical point in the infrastructure of global oil shipping. With more troops being sent to the Middle East to counter the threats posed by Iran, a regional power in its own right, the threat of war looms. It will not be like Iraq, nor Afghanistan nor is the conflicts context similar to that of the war of words between the President and Chairmen Kim. The nuances ate stark and the implications grave. Of course, we must push for diplomacy and engage our allies in this effort, but above all we cannot become hostage to Iranian demands and increasing belligerence on their part. From the threat of raising the threshold of production of material that could be used in the production of nuclear weapons, to the threats leveled at Europe to further test their ballistic missiles if they are not granted waivers from sanctions for trade.

The West cannot be held hostage and capitulate to the demands of a regime which seeks the downfall of Western institutions and the propping up of its own allies – the likes of Russia, China and other authoritarian regimes. Let alone the human rights abuses perpetuated by them. If we capitulate, then what is the West then but a vestige of a forgotten cause? With this in mind, we too have to keep a check on Saudi Arabia, our hopelessly convenient ally in the region on their own abuses and misgivings. The West must take a stand on all fronts. Diplomacy always, but prepared for any eventuality. We must move forward with caution and resolve. 

 

Old Howard Union

38 – How I Became Interested In Politics, and Lessons Learned

Tonight a slight digression from the usual talk of politics, social movements and the like to address a question posed by a listener – how is it that I became interested in politics. It’s a long journey. With many diversions, but always a singular unifying theme – service to a higher cause.

Show Notes

No show notes this evening.

Old Howard Union

Issue Brief, 7 – Mindfulness