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[Culture] [ULK Issue 27]
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Movie Review: Snow White and the Huntsman

Snow White in long-term isolation cell

Snow White and the Huntsman is a more in-depth, live-action take on the Disney classic. A variety of themes are explored in this film that were glossed over or undeveloped in the animated version, but the basic plot remains the same.

The story begins with Snow White as a small girl. Her mother falls ill and dies. Shortly thereafter the widower king is drawn into battle with a "dark and mysterious" army, whose warriors are made of obsidian or glass. The army is defeated and a prisoner, a beautiful womyn, is rescued. The king marries the prisoner the very next day, and she quickly is revealed to be an evil witch. The new queen kills the king, locks Snow White in a tower, and destroys the entire kingdom. How Snow White survived her decade of solitary confinement was not addressed in the film, but would have been interesting for us to analyze and likely criticize.

The queen was under a spell that kept her the fairest in the land, so long as she sucks the youth and beauty out of young wimmin to constantly replenish her powers. This beauty enables her to manipulate people who are distracted by her good looks, and to cast spells of her own. The spell can only be broken by "fairest blood," and as Snow White comes of age in her prison tower, she becomes a threat to the queen's powers. The magic mirror on the wall instructs the queen to eat Snow White's heart so that she will become immortal.

The queen's brother goes to retrieve Snow White for a meeting with the queen. Of course Snow White escapes, and through a course of events leads a revolution to take back the kingdom from the evil queen. It is Snow White's "purity" and "innocence" (as well as a blessing from a forest creature straight out of Princess Mononoke) that give her magical powers to overcome the queen's spells and tricks. A classic Jesus story, complete with a resurrection.

When the evil queen first took power, the subjects initially tried to resist her rule. They were defeated each time, and eventually everyone gave up, broke into sects, turned alcoholic, and warred with each other just trying to stay alive. An oracle dwarf identified Snow White as having a "destiny." It was only the power of this destined leader that could bring everyone together and overcome the evil queen.

The take-home lessons from Snow White and the Huntsman are defeatist. "Find a good leader and follow them." "People's struggle isn't winnable." "There's nothing you can do to challenge the all-powerful status quo." These are typical messages to be expected from a mainstream Amerikkkan movie.

The only theme that was remotely interesting was the queen's views on gender and beauty. She has been a victim of beauty for twenty lifetimes and has built up a lot of resentment toward men. This resentment comes up in her murder of the king, because she is distrustful of men, who will just throw her out when she ages. In a later scene, she is assessing two male prisoners who have just been captured, and one is young and handsome. Before killing him with her own fingers, she gives a monologue about how he would have been her ruin, but instead she will be his ruin. This is a good critique of the fetishization of youth and beauty and its contribution to a variety of mental health challenges people in our society must face. Had the queen not been valued by men only for her beauty, she may have been a more benevolent dictator, at least to the handsome young men who cross her path.

Snow White and the Huntsman doesn't get my recommendation. We don't need any more encouragement in our society to drink our sorrows about the status quo away, waiting for our own Snow White. And it's unnecessary to wait, because your Snow White is you!

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[Racism] [Missouri] [ULK Issue 27]
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More News About Missouri Please

I have some concerns about articles that are from California prisons. Aren't these same things going on in Missouri prisons as well? There are Trayvons happening everyday in Missouri, but no one talks about it. In Missouri prisons you can't even come together for a strike or anything else because if you do you will be put in SHU.

All I am asking my brothers and sisters of MIM(Prisons) is to please take a look at these Missouri prisons.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We appreciate this comrade's desire to see more in Under Lock & Key about what's going on in prisons in h state. But this is really a call to h, and others who feel their state is underrepresented in ULK, to send us articles. We rely on our readers for news. Become a correspondent and send regular articles about what's going on in your prison and you will see more news about your state in ULK. Ask for a copy of our writing guide to get started.

This article referenced in:
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[Abuse] [Organizing] [Lanesboro Correctional Institution] [North Carolina]
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Lockdown in North Carolina Needs Organized Response

I was transferred to Lansboro CI on May 27. Lansboro is said to be the "most dangerous prison in North Carolina" and next on the list is Scotland. Recently, on June 6, the Prison Emergency Rescue Team (PERT) raided the prison 200-300 deep and ripped it apart. Their main purpose was to find drugs, weapons and most of all cell phones. They really wanted the cell phones to shut off any chances of communication from prison to prison. Their goal was to eliminate any chance of a future mass movement and current communication from top rank "gang" leaders.

In all, there were about 70-100 people who were nabbed. The PERT team brought with them a sensor detector (an enhanced metal detector used at airports) that they forced everyone to walk through. This detects drugs, weapons or cell phones. The people who set the detector off were then taken to "dry cell", in which the prisoner had nothing in their cells but their boxers, shower shoes and mattress. They were made to stay there for 48 hours until they used the bathroom - in which the officers would search the feces for contraband.

In their search for cell phones (which prisoners had hidden in their rectum), they also put the entire prison on lockdown until all contraband was confiscated. In the midst of the confusion, the PERT team confiscated some of our hygiene, threw prisoners religious items on the floor, personal pictures in the toilet and trash and even assaulted a couple of my brothers - all just as harassment.

These 70-100 prisoners have been sitting in an empty cell with feces in their toilets for 2-5 days; most of them have no contraband on them. After they have defecated, they will be forced to go through an x-ray machine, which the prison needs the prisoners' signed permission for, and they do not have it.

Our human rights have been violated by these oppressive prison officials and it must be resolved by the prisoners first. We must take a stand against this bullshit they think they can pull on us. Out of all 70-100 people they nabbed, they have only reported to have found 10-20 cell phones and modicum amounts of drugs and weapons. Their lack of effort to resolve the situation and get on with confiscating instead of leaving prisoners in their cells with feces is not only inhumane, but a prolonging of having the prison on lockdown. We have been on lockdown since June 6.

Segregation pods are already overcrowded to the point where they have prisoners on dry cell in the receiving area. They have to transfer prisoners due to so many receiving long-term isolation sentences (between 6 months and 1.5 years.) Prisoners here must turn our frustration and anger against our oppressors instead of each other. But I can say it is very difficult to do when you always have to watch your back because someone may stab you or your brothers at any moment - which is rampant here. It is possible, but it will take a hellava push by tribe members, who control this prison! Let's get to work!!!


MIM(Prisons) responds: We echo this prisoner's call for unity among the Lumpen Organizations (LOs) in prison. Many individuals and organizations have signed on to the United Front for Peace in Prisons to move the struggle against the criminal injustice system forward. The first principal of the UFPP is Peace: "We organize to end the needless conflicts and violence within the U.$. prison environment. The oppressors use divide and conquer strategies so that we fight each other instead of them. We will stand together and defend ourselves from oppression."

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[Organizing] [Brown Berets - Prison Chapter] [ULK Issue 28]
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Prisoner Uprisings Foretell Growing Movement

Recently, prisoners have begun to rediscover their voice and power power in some of the most vile dungeons in Amerika. On May 22, 2012, the latest development has come from Red Onion State Prion in Virginia where prisoners rose up and defied the oppressor. This refusal to be passive in the face of brutality seems to occur more and more often these days. Red Onion shares the same oppression as Pelican Bay SHU prisoners and others across Amerika who face many of the same forms of abuse, cruelty and neglect.

There are over 90 thousand people in Amerika being held in solitary or segregation of some sort. Most of these 90 thousand are Latino or Black, making this mass imprisonment also a manifestation of national oppression.(1) But national oppression is also tied to the economic relations as today's developments with the world economies and social unrest point to the exhaustion of capitalism. This exhaustion coupled with the changing demographic where more than half of all babies born in the U.$. are non-white(2) is unleashing a mass imprisonment of Latinos and New Afrikans in unprecedented numbers. These are basically internment camps for the internal semi-colonies.

This rise in oppression is not simply in imprisonment; there has also been an economic offensive to go with it. Indeed, states comprising Aztlán and New Afrika have seen a more than 20% rise in poverty between 2007 and 2010.(3) We should see that it's not simply a case of a couple crooked cops, or some faulty prison administrators that cause us to be held in miserable conditions. It is much bigger and much deeper than that. What we experience is a long legacy of oppression unleashed on the people since the first settler stepped foot on this continent. This legacy can now be traced up to the highest levels of the ruling class, and sometimes reveals itself. But for the most part, the oppression we face is drenched in secrecy and washed in legalese to the point that laymen cannot grasp it even when experiencing it directly.

At the same time many prisoners are beginning to break through the shell of settler propaganda to see our oppression for what it is. We can see that when corporate media says prisoners are "gang members" they are simply attempting to cover up our brutal treatment. When it reports on a "riot" it is really an uprising. But prisoners, whether in California, Virginia or even the secret prisons, are all being oppressed with the same intent by the state: to break our resistance! This was revealed most recently on a news program where a self-described CIA operative Jorge Rodriguez described torturing suspected-Al Qaeda prisoners. It was in this interview where he described psychological torture inflicted to "instill a sense of hopelessness."(4)

Such was the intent of the solitary confinement: leaving prisoners naked, physical abuse, and the use of what he called "dietary manipulation," which is starving a prisoner with skimpy trays or rotten uncooked food — sound familiar? This was all done intentionally to instill this sense of hopelessness in order to force the prisoner to cooperate with the state. These methods are not materialized spontaneously but are designed from years of study in military and intelligence schools for psy-warfare. What we are experiencing in Amerika's superman prisons is a long legacy that is drenched in blood. Yet we are not victims, but survivors of capitalism. Our survival baffles the oppressor who cannot grasp that the people don't need profit to propel us, to motivate us on our path to freedom. Our drive is mysterious to the oppressor whose only action is brought on by profit.

Prisons will continue to have uprisings as more and more are now conscious and aware that things don't have to be the way they are, and torture does not have to be tolerated. Marx summed it up when he said "mankind always sets itself only such tasks as it can solve; since, looking at the matter more closely it will always be found that the task itself only arises when the material conditions for its solution already exist or are at least in the process of formation. At the same time the productive forces developing in the womb of bourgeois society create the material conditions for the solution of that antagonism."(5) What this is basically saying is once the productive forces develop to a point, they will naturally enter the next stage in social evolution. I think prisoners are at the stage in social evolution across Amerika and this is reflected in the uprisings we are seeing develop as never before.

The folks in Red Onion are a link in a long chain that reaches from concentration camp to concentration camp and the Brown Berets - Prison Chapter stands in solidarity with them in our common march towards human rights!


Notes:
1. http://www.abolishcontrolunits.org/research
2. NPR, Latino USA, 7-13-2012
3. Stateline/Pew Center 2012.
4. CBS, 60 minutes. "Hard measures" 4-29-2012
5. Preface to "The Critique of Political Economy" by Karl Marx. pg 329.

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[Idealism/Religion] [Download and Print] [ULK Issue 48]
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Truly Quoting Marx on Religion

Often we hear or read quick quotes which are taken to mean something, or infer something different from the intended meaning. Marx's quote on religion is just such an example.

We have all heard or read Marx's "statement" that "religion is the opiate of the masses." This is not an accurate quote of what Marx wrote in his "Contribution to the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right." This quote has given rise to the belief that Marx did not take the issue of religion seriously and dismissed it as folly. This is not true.(1)

Let's review in context what Marx did write about religion:

"Religious distress is at the same time the expression of real distress and the protest against real distress. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people."

The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusions about conditions is the demand to give up a condition that needs illusions. The criticism of religion is therefore in embryo the criticism of the vale of woe, the halo of which is religion. Criticism has plucked the imaginary flowers from the chain, not so that man will wear the chain without any fantasy or consolation, but so that he will shake off the chain and cull the living flower.

Clearly Marx is not discussing the seriousness of religion, or the role it plays in the lives of oppressed peoples. Marx realizes the power of delusion that religion holds over people. I disagree with MIM(Prisons) that religion "is simply a belief in authority."(2) Perhaps that is true for some people. But I believe it is a panacea for woe and oppression — a search and hope for a better life than the one believers currently lead. It is the oppressed's answer to the question of existentialism.

Due to the anxieties of existence — anxieties people experience as the result of natural causes like floods, famine and earthquakes, or man-made causes such as enslavement, exploitation or oppression — that make people feel powerless, they often resort to magical thinking, or beliefs in supernatural agents as a plea for the anxiety to end. Thus was born religion, its roots in anxiety.

Religion is a potent tool of capitalism and imperialism. To eliminate one, all must be eliminated if the people are to experience true freedom and liberation.


MIM(Prisons) responds: Overall, we have great unity with what this comrade writes about religion and Marx's view of it. But eir disagreement with something we wrote is a bit of a strawpersyn argument. First, it is ironic to use Christopher Hitchens to criticize us as too dismissive of religion. Hitchens was popular for his atheist ideas among the Amerikan petty bourgeoisie. His attack on so-called "Islamo-fascism" was better received than his allies on the left (led by Bob Avakian) and right (epitomized in David Horowitz). All three represent the spectrum of white nationalist thinking that uses religion as an excuse to attack the oppressed nations, primarily in the Islamic world today.

Islamo fascism

In this attempt to critique, we think this comrade takes the quote from the Fundamental Political Line of the Maoist Internationalist Ministry of Prisons out of context. The article presents the religious view in a discussion on science, correctly stating that it is simply a belief in authority, rather than a belief in one's own ability to study reality and find truth.

The MIM article also discusses pre-scientific thinking, addressing religion's role as a "panacea for woe and oppression." In pre-capitalist times, such thinking was the norm and religion was more than just an attempt to deal with the bad times, it was an attempt to explain all aspects of reality. Once scientific thought was developed and popularized, it has been the class interests of the oppressors that have kept religious ideology alive to serve their interests, as this comrade alludes. But that doesn't mean everyone who is religious is a dupe. Muslims are currently striking some of the greatest blows against U.$. imperialism, so they must have a pretty good grasp on how to actualize their own interests in a world that throws many horrors in their direction.


Notes:
1. "God is not great: how religion poisons everything" by Christopher Hitchens p9-10
2. "Fundamental Political Line of the Maoist Internationalist Ministry of Prisons" March 2012. p17.

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[Rhymes/Poetry]
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What Else

Comrades, I'm white
and I hate white people
not because they are white
but because they love themselves
too much
more than anyone else
more than anything else
more than all else
I love all else
my mom's white
my brother's white
father and sisters white
and I hate white people
not because they are white
but because they are killing my people
and my planet
all for green paper
and towering white steeples
I'm a traitor
who grew up in a trailer
I branded cows in my youth
ninety miles to the south
the nearest traffic light
we pissed off the porch
poached deer - ate rattlesnake
comrades, I'm white
But don't hold that against me
because I hate this motherfucking country
to death
my pen's my weapon
my blood - my breath
my planet - my species
above all else

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[Political Repression] [Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Center] [Connecticut]
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Punished for Writing Protest of Shortened Visits

In May the Department of Corrections in Radgowski Correctional Institution tried to shorten our visits and decrease the number of visitors allowed in the visiting room. So I organized a good amount of brothers to put pen to paper and the response was immediate. Some of us were shipped out of the jail and some to other parts of the jail. I myself was moved from the privileged part of the jail to the assessment drums.

A move is only done when you catch a ticket which I had not. I refused housing and went to the box. Since then drugs have been planted on prisoners as well as false positive urines. Now I am a level 2 prisoner but I am being housed in level 4 (max). I have basically just got the run around about my transfer. I am writing to the commissioner now with no hopes of a positive or righteous response, more so just to exhaust the administrative remedies.


MIM(Prisons) responds: Grievances are not only ignored by prisons but filing them often results in punishment, like what is described by this comrade as happening in Connecticut. Yet each state bureaucracy will go to lengths to explain the "systems" they have in place for prisoners to address any abuse they face on their watch. A campaign to demand grievances be addressed was initiated in California and has spread to Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Texas. It is needed in every state because there are prisons in every state. We need volunteers who can modify the petition to work in their state. Write to us for a copy of the petition.

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[Organizing]
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Response to: A Peaceful Revolution

I myself fully understand as well as live the principles the brother from Jersey as well as New York are speaking of in the Under Lock & Key article Time for Peaceful Revolution. Both brothers bring up valid points. There are 3 stages to that life within that LO and both of these brothers seem to be third stage brothers.

Now the origin and founder of this lumpen organization differs by who you speak to. But I believe the focus needed is to get the brothers from primitive stages to third stage. All these issues are intertwined but as leaders one can't speak for the whole (LO), no man can do that, that is why there is a chain of command in all LOs. The body moves everything at the end of the day. So it is one thing to tell these brothers to strap up or go on a hunger strike. They very may well follow orders. But once you're separated the fire will dwindle till it no longer exists!

Now if we take those brothers in the true cause of all LOs, which for the most part all have revolutionary roots, from such parties as the Young Lords, Black Panthers, etc. If we educate the body of the LO as a whole, then they will know what they are fighting for. That will be the difference between a few minor victories and the whole war. People need to know what they're fighting for. Then it will be a lot easier to get leaders of LOs to sit down and work towards our common goals while maintaining orders on our terms in these day kennels.

I respect 100% my brothers from Jersey as well as NY. We need to educate ourselves, so a rebirth of the mind is needed. But in a split second we need to be ready to turn it up if we have to.

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[Rhymes/Poetry]
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This Country

I was born of a womb
of a mother who smokes
grew of age in a concrete tomb
choking on I-15's exhaust smoke
my veins I must stretch to feel at ease
This is what my life is like
from conception to the grave
unable to breathe
quit what it is you hate
while you still hate it
three quarters done with my sentence
hoping someone's still there to say
"You've made it"
Considered depressed and despondent
since the age of five
that's when I learned to pledge allegiance
age five
they taught us loyalty to one's country
as I smuggled cans of copenhagen and snickers
to my daddy
in prison
age five
I was born of a country
Built on and maintaining DOC brutality
Pledged allegiance to a flag
that destroyed my family
So, you see
this is what my life is like
from conception to the grave
Still
unable to breathe

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[Abuse] [Migrants] [Organizing] [Adams County Correctional Center] [Mississippi] [Federal] [ULK Issue 27]
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Prisoners Take Over Adams Correctional Center in Protest of Conditions

Adams Correctional Facility
Outside Adams County Correctional Facility during the rebellion
On May 20 prisoners at the privately run Adams County Correctional Center in Natchez, Mississippi, rose up in protest of the violence, abuse and neglect at this prison for non-citizens incarcerated for re-entering the United $tates after deportation and for other charges. Prisoners took control of the facility for over eight hours before SWAT teams took back the prison using pepper spray grenades and tear gas bombs among other weapons.

The prison administration is claiming the violence was a result of prisoner-on-prisoner conflicts but one prisoner involved in the struggle called a Jackson TV station and clearly articulated that the riot was due to mistreatment of prisoners: "They always beat us and hit us. We just pay them back... We're trying to get better food, medical, programs, clothes, and we're trying to get some respect from the officers and lieutenants." The prisoner confirmed his identity by sending photos from inside the prison.(1)

In recent years the U.$. has hit 400,000 deportations a year, the majority Latino nationals. Pre-deportation Detention Centers are the site of widespread abuse as the prison guards are accountable to no one and the prisoners are among the least valued people in Amerika by those in charge.

As we reported in a 2009 article "National Oppression as Migrant Detention", migrants are the fastest growing prison population and they face significant abuse behind bars: "The American Civil Liberties Union says that the conditions in which these civil detainees are held are often as bad as or worse than those faced by people imprisoned with criminal convictions. These detention centers are described as 'woefully unregulated.' The 'requirements' that they do have about how to treat people have no legal obligation, reducing them essentially to suggestions." So it should be no surprise that these prisoners in Mississippi are fighting back.

The economic motivations of the private company that runs Adams County CC, Correctional Corporation of America, is directly counter to the humyn rights of prisoners. Again from the 2009 MIM(Prisons) article: "The Correctional Corporation of America, a private prison management company who controls half of the detention facilities run by private companies, spent $3 million lobbying politicians in 2004. They want stricter immigration laws so they can have access to more prisoners, which will bring them more money. In turn, ICE is able to pay 26% less per day to house prisoners in a private versus state-run facility. This is possible because of the lack of public as well as governmental oversight at private facilities, where they reduce costs by getting rid of everything that would help prisoners, including necessary-to-life medical care. One reason state governments shied away from private prisons for their own citizens was the scandals that they quickly became associated with. In the year 1998-99, Wackenhut's private prisons in New Mexico had a death rate 55 times that of the national average for prisons. The migrant population's lack of voice allows these corporations to get away with their cost-cutting abusive conditions when contracted by ICE. This is another good example of how capitalism values profit over humyn life."

The distinction between legal and illegal residents of the United $tates is a clear example of the enforcement of imperialist wealth and poverty using borders. Those who happen to be born on the north side of the artificial border to Mexico have access to many resources and opportunities, and most of those born on the south side live in poverty with very limited opportunities. The United $tates can't let migrants through the border because that would open up jobs to all who want to compete, rather than keeping them for the well off labor aristocracy. Instead the imperialists set up corporations to suck the wealth out of Latin American countries, devastate their economies with loan programs and puppet governments, and benefit from the cheap labor that results.

Prisons are just one aspect of the imperialist oppression of undocumented migrants. We support the prisoners in Mississippi and across the country who are fighting back against inhumane conditions. We need more reporting directly from the prisoners involved in these protests. Help us spread the word by sending your stories to Under Lock & Key and request MIM lit in Spanish to spread our message.

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