Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole (2010)
We have to give props to a kids' movie that can portray an anti-fascist struggle, while downplaying the glamor of war. Soren is a young owl who dreams of meeting his heroes, the Guardians of Ga'Hoole, who are legendary for defending the owls against evil forces. He and his brother Kludd are kidnapped by the fascist owls, "The Pure Ones", who recruit a select few from their species of owls to join their army and enslave all other species of owls. Soren escapes and flees to find the Guardians for help while his brother joins the Nazi owls.
Soren's journey to the Guardians requires him to learn to fly and take a difficult trip with a few fellow travelers who believe in the mission. As the Guardians gather information and prepare for battle with the fascists they learn that one of their leaders is working for the enemy and has betrayed them. This is a good lesson in the need for vigilance against spies and turncoats in the anti-fascist struggle.
Kludd's decision to join the fascists is played as a simplistic need for recognition after a childhood of struggling to achieve next to his brother. But this is not so far off. Fascism appeals to people who are easily convinced that their lack of success can be overcome at the expense of others. In Amerika we have a large labor aristocracy who are paid more than the value of their labor with profits brought home from exploitation of Third World workers; these workers have a material interest in imperialism. Those who are in the lowest stratum of the labor aristocracy look around and see that they are not achieving the same wealth as their peers. This group of people are the most likely to go for fascist rhetoric that blames their failures on immigrants and Third World workers with promises of greater wealth for those who deserve it (i.e. the white nation). There was no labor aristocracy in The Owls of Ga'Hoole but the oppressed nations were represented by the different species of owls who, just by nature of birth, were considered inferior to "The Pure Ones."
When Soren meets the Guardians he gets to know one who is somewhat crazy and a bit of an outcast, only to learn that he was the heroic leader in previous battles. From this owl Soren learns that war is not all glamor and has real consequences. The decision to fight the fascists was taken seriously with this in mind.
For a kids' movie, Legend of the Guardians has a lot to offer, but we'd rather see the oppressed nations (or species in this case), organize to rise up and fight for themselves. The movie makes that impossible by drugging all the slaves and implying that the rest of the owls from other species were completely in the dark about the fascist plot to take over the world. This plot twist might have been possible if they had gone further and The Pure Ones struck out in battle so that other species realized what was happening.
That a group of heroic owls had to save the world and defeat the fascists was made somewhat better by their failure due to turncoat betrayal requiring Soren and his fellow travelers to join the battle and save the day. At least this reinforced that anyone could be a heroic part of the anti-fascist struggle, not just the special heroes of Ga'Hoole.
As we already know, control units are torture chambers where prisoners spend from 22 to 24 hours a day locked up in a tiny cell for long periods of time with a blinding light burning all day, with no educational or other kinds of programs and without proper medical and mental health attention. We are forced to live in here with the pigs oppressing us every day. These conditions are meant to break prisoners' mental states and spirit. They are oppression tools. Here I've seen prisoners give up and lose all hope, lose their mental states, harm, and even kill themselves. There's no doubt that these horrifying places affect the majority of prisoner's mental health. However, we can and should turn these torture chambers into our universities, for the betterment of ourselves and our oppressed comrades.
The first time I was placed in a control unit (here in Florida they are called close management units or CM) I did 2 years locked up in a tiny cell 24 hours a day. In my first few months I was wasting my time bullshitting, fighting and reading mind-killing fiction books. I was blind about the struggle - our struggle, oppressed against oppressor. Then, one day, a comrade handed me a book called "Last Man Standing" by Geronimo Pratt, a top member of the Black Panther Party. That book alone sparked the revolutionary in me and since then I haven't looked back. Then I met George Jackson, Mao, Lenin and Che among others. That's when I started shaping and organizing my ideals. When my family asked me if I needed money for canteen, I told them no. Instead I asked them to send me books on or by the above-mentioned comrades and I started studying full time.
Along the line a comrade gave me a copy of Under Lock & Key and I loved it. That boosted me up on the prison struggle. I started corresponding with MIM and after a while I began writing articles for them. The comrades at MIM(Prisons) supplied me with good and much needed studying material and I kept working hard on behalf of the struggle - our struggle. I've learned to discipline and organize myself in a way that I never thought possible. As I grew mentally and expanded my knowledge of the struggle, I shared it with others and helped awaken their consciousness.
I had access to nothing except what MIM(Prisons) sent me and my only opportunities to get out of my cell were when I had to see medical or mental health personnel and when we had recreation in a tiny dog pen and showers 3 times a week. Nevertheless, I refused all these. I thought - and still think - that by going to these I was throwing away time that I could use to study and put in work for the cause. I exercised and took bird baths in my cell. I studied even when the lights went out. I used a little bit of light that came in through the back window from a light pole that stood outside the building.
The pigs were used to going around doing their checks and seeing prisoners cuddled up in their beds doing nothing or just staring into space while talking to themselves. In fact, they like to see this because they know that they are breaking the prisoners' minds and fighting spirit. But they hated it when they walked by my cell and saw me sitting on the floor with all kinds of books, dictionaries, papers and pens scattered around me. They couldn't crack me, let alone break me, and that chewed at their insides. I wouldn't give them a chance. I was, and still am, going to fight them until the very end. If I can't fight them physically I will fight them with pen and paper by spreading the word of struggle and helping other oppressed people wake up consciously.
When I was close to being released to open population I told myself that if I started getting off track and losing my discipline I would return to CM on purpose to start disciplining myself all over again. When I was finally released in late 2009 people who knew me before wouldn't associate with me much because they couldn't relate to my new mindset. Fortunately I was able to wake some of them up and have them join forces in the struggle.
In my first prison, after my release from CM, I quickly formed a study group of nine comrades, of which the comrade who first introduced me to MIM(Prisons) was a part. However, the prison in which we were was extremely racist and oppressive and the pigs started targeting us. For being the group's spokesperson they considered me the leader and for that alone they ransacked and destroyed my personal property every time they got a chance, threatened me, then placed me in solitary confinement on false charges. Finally they transferred me to another prison.
At my next prison the pigs already knew about me, so as soon as I got there the searches and property destruction continued, but that didn't discourage me nor did it put a dent in my confidence. In a matter of weeks I had another study group going. But then, not even a year after my release from CM, I had an altercation with another prisoner who was a snitch for the pigs and was returned to CM where I currently find myself.
I have come to the conclusion that open population is not for me. It only takes too much of my study time. Study time that I need for when I get released back into society. Besides, in CM I don't have the pigs in my face all day. In open population there's a great chance that I harm one of them badly and catch more prison time. So I've decided to do my remaining 14 years in a solitary cell. This might be helpful for me, but it is not for everyone because not everyone understands and appreciates it like I do.
If you have no choice but to be in a control unit, don't waste your time bullshitting. Don't let these damn pigs break you. Turn the torture chamber in which you find yourself into your university. Read, study, and educate yourself. Subscribe to Under Lock & Key and other MIM(Prisons) material. If you don't have much material to study, whatever you do have study it over and over. You will be surprised by how much you can learn from reading the same thing over and over. I still have the first Under Lock & Key I ever read, which was given to me by that good comrade 3 years ago, and I still read it every once in a while. And every time I read it, I learn something new.
So comrades, wake up and get to studying. Show the pigs that you won't allow them to break you and that you are willing to fight, learn, struggle, and turn their torture chambers into your university. Just don't turn it into your mental and physical graveyard.
MIM(Prisons) responds: We're glad to see our work having such an impact on comrades in prison and we agree with the recommendations given for those in isolation. But keep in mind that control units exist in order to keep those who study away from the masses. A one-man university is nothing compared to running study groups and organizing sessions with a group of people. For those who are forced into isolation, Under Lock & Key is your connection to dialogue with the larger prison movement.
On November 28, WikiLeaks began releasing U.$. diplomatic cables that have been extremely embarrassing to the U.$. government and its allies. This resulted in increased persecution of the WikiLeaks site and staff, and an international debate about the role of websites like WikiLeaks. This story underscores the failure of mainstream media to do more than serve as a mouthpiece for the imperialists. But it also reveals the lengths to which imperialist governments will go to persecute activists and those causing damage to imperialism.
Humynity benefits from more availability of information about imperialism. As revolutionaries, we welcome the opportunity to expose U.$.-backed atrocities and the imperialists' back room deals. Meanwhile, the attacks on WikiLeaks and its staff present the opportunity to further expose the myth that capitalism = democracy. The basic premises of democracy include transparency of government and freedom of speech. While the communist government in China under Mao encouraged the people to criticize their leaders during the Cultural Revolution and went so far as to provide free paper and space to post big character posters to propagate free speech, the Amerikan government is doing all it can (in collaboration with other governments and capitalist corporations) to shut down the speech of those who are merely exposing facts.
WikiLeaks launched in 2007 to publish documents from anonymous sources that generally expose the actions of imperialist governments and their lackeys. WikiLeaks states that "One of our most important activities is to publish original source material alongside our news stories so readers and historians alike can see evidence of the truth." On their website WikiLeaks summarizes the major stories they have broken; an impressive list of government and corporate corruption, brutality and war.(1) It has been particularly valuable in exposing U.$. atrocities in Afghanistan and Iraq.
As a result of their work exposing governments, corporations, and churches around the world, Wikileaks has faced significant persecution. According to their website, “Since formation in 2007, WikiLeaks has been victorious over every legal (and illegal) attack, including those from the Pentagon, the Chinese Public Security Bureau, the Former President of Kenya, the Premier of Bermuda, Scientology, the Catholic & Mormon Church, the largest Swiss private bank, and Russian companies.“(1) Julian Assange has taken the role of public spokespersyn and as such has faced dramatic persynal persecution, particularly after the release of the U.$. diplomatic cables.
What's the big deal about the U.$. diplomatic cables?
Before we get into the issues of censorship and political persecution, let's take a look at what these diplomatic cables really contain. The U.$. government employs thousands of foreign service staff posted in embassies and consulates around the world. According to the U.$ Department of State website, these people work in one of 5 general jobs:
Consular: Consular Officers protect Americans abroad and strengthen U.S. border security.
Economic: Economic Officers work on economic partnerships and development, support U.S. businesses abroad, and cover environmental, science, technology, and health issues.
Management: Management Officers run our embassies and make American diplomacy work.
Political: Political Officers analyze political events.
Public Diplomacy: Public Diplomacy Officers explain American values and policies.
In other words, many of these people work in foreign countries acting as spies. But not spies who are working in secret; they are overt spies whose job is to meet with people at various levels in other governments and then write up reports about their meetings and the situation in those countries. This is how the U.$. government collects a lot of its information about what's going on around the world. The foreign service staff don't try to hide what they are doing. It's a political game which foreign diplomats sometimes use to get messages through to the U.$. government without having to make public statements. There is a lot of backroom deal making done this way, without having to make information public.
So when people say that the diplomatic cables that WikiLeaks released are embarrassing, what they really mean is that imperialist governments and their lackeys don't want the truth to be known publicly. As WikiLeaks summarizes, “the cables show the extent of US spying on its allies and the UN; turning a blind eye to corruption and human rights abuse in 'client states'; backroom deals with supposedly neutral countries; lobbying for US corporations; and the measures US diplomats take to advance those who have access to them.”(1) So the U.$. government doesn't want people to know these things. They are probably not so much worried about the Amerikan public whose response to this story has been split with many taking the side of their imperialist government, but rather concerned about what people in other countries are going to learn, especially those in the Third World being screwed by the imperialists and the deals they make with their own lackey governments.
Imperialists and censorship on a global scale
There was a quick and coordinated attack against WikiLeaks by the U.$. government and their allies in the international and corporate community. This included a coordinated December 2 attack shutting down their domain via the New Hampshire-based company EveryDNS, and Amazon.com cutting off the infrastructure services they were providing to WikiLeaks. Forced to move to the French internet company OVH, WikiLeaks then faced attacks by the French government looking for ways to ban hosting of the site.
The finance capitalists got in on the game quickly too. On December 3 PayPal cut off the account that was collecting donations for WikiLeaks, claiming that the account violated its "Acceptable Use Policy" by engaging in "activities that encourage, promote, facilitate or instruct others to engage in illegal activity." On December 6 MasterCard announced its plan to cut off WikiLeaks from accepting MasterCard payments because "MasterCard rules prohibit customers from directly or indirectly engaging in or facilitating any action that is illegal." Visa took similar action on December 7. On December 8 WikiLeaks released diplomatic papers that revealed lobbying by the Obama administration on behalf of MasterCard and Visa.(2) And finally, the Swedish bank PostFinance froze Julian Assange's persynal bank account on December 6, using the flimsy excuse that he provided an incorrect address on his account.
On December 23 Apple dropped the WikiLeaks app (program for iPhones) from their app store, just 10 days after it was approved for sale. The app gave users access to the WikiLeaks Twitter feed and the ability to access leaked documents. An Apple spokespersyn gave the official excuse: "Apps must comply with all local laws and may not put an individual or group in harm's way."(3) These examples of corporate censorship help demonstrate the complicity between the imperialist government and big corporations. The imperialists make backroom diplomatic deals to give the capitalists financial advantages, and those same corporations look out for the government's interests by denying anti-imperialists access to resources to exercise their free speech.
While diverting resources from WikiLeaks' primary mission, these attacks have also served to expose the imperialists, who only give lip service to freedom of speech when it serves their interest. And this has galvanized a counter attack by defenders of WikiLeaks. This counter offensive includes hackers who have launched denial-of-service attacks to shut down web sites that have cut off WikiLeaks, targeting EveryDNS, Amazon, MasterCard and Visa among others.
In the United $tates, the imperialists are running around with their pants down, unsure how to control the information already released. On December 3 the White House issued a directive that forbids unauthorized Federal employees from accessing the classified documents that are now available on WikiLeaks. Carrying out this order, the Library of Congress blocked access to WikiLeaks from its computers. Government employees, military personnel and employees of some private corporations are prohibited from reading the documents, even from home. Meanwhile, college students are being threatened that if they post info about WikiLeaks online they will not be eligible for government jobs after graduation.(8)
Amerikan public opinion is split between those who think it's right to investigate those in power and those who want to see Assange prosecuted. It might be surprising that so many Amerikans care about freedom of speech when the imperialists so clearly oppose it. This is promising for activists looking for ways to win over people who have a material interest in imperialism, even if only for specific battles against the imperialists.
Political persecution of activists
Julian Assange and others have complained of surveillance and harassment in various countries in the past, but after the release of the diplomatic cables this has stepped up to a level that may lead to death or permanent imprisonment of those associated with the site. While throwing around baseless accusations of "terrorism" against Assange, North Amerikan politicians have openly called for him to be illegally assassinated - the definition of terrorism.(9)
The U.$. Justice Department has been scouring the books searching for something to prosecute Assange on, some way to punish him and stop his work, and they are negotiating with Sweden to get him extradited to the U.$. Assange was taken into custody in Britain after an arrest warrant was issued by Sweden to question him on allegations of sex crimes, and has since been released on bail.
In the United $tates, there has been a strong push to make it illegal to conduct investigative journalism that is not approved by the State. Senator Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, argues that Assange's actions violate the Espionage Act, a World War I-era law crafted to punish individuals who spy on the country during wartime. This is despite the fact that WikiLeaks has not released any Top Secret documents and even offered to work with the U.$. government to redact any facts that would endanger individuals in the field (which the U.$. turned down). An initial hearing on WikiLeaks and the Espionage Act was held on December 16 by the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee. So far no decisions about prosecution have been made. Senator Joseph Lieberman goes further and has urged the administration to consider charges against media outlets that produced news articles based on the leaked documents. These organizations, according to Lieberman, have "committed at least an act of bad citizenship, but whether they have committed a crime - I think that bears a very intense inquiry by the Justice Department."(4)
In the 1970s a very similar attack against Daniel Ellsberg was carried out after he released the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times, exposing the Amerikan government's lies about the Vietnam War. The U.$. government attacked Ellsberg both covertly and overtly in court where they put him on trial for theft and conspiracy under the Espionage Act. Ellsberg explains, "The truth is that every attack now made on WikiLeaks and Julian Assange was made against me and the release of the Pentagon Papers at the time."(5)
If the outcome is more chilling this time around, it will be with the mainstream media cheering for the repression of their own rights to report on facts. They'd rather talk about sex and persynalities anyway.
We talk about sex to stop talking about sex
Pseudofeminists have lined up on two sides of the Julian Assange "rape" debate. One recognizes the obvious truth that this is a political ploy by the imperialists to distract from the facts and attack Wikileaks. The other side says we need to stand by all wimmin who claim that they are raped. The latter are a dream come true for the FBI. The former are on the right track, but falter in their attempts to define "real" rape. This situation was painfully obvious in a series of debates on Democracy Now! this week that degenerated into a pornographic discussion of the details of various sexual encounters.(6) To both defend Assange and uphold that some sex is not rape, Naomi Wolf ended up making some embarrassingly incorrect claims.
If we can just admit that all sex is rape, then we can get on with the original discussion of hundreds of thousands of wimmin (and men of course) dying at the hands of the U.$. military as exposed by WikiLeaks documents. The real feminist here is white male Julian Assange who responded to TV news host Larry King's inquiry about the sex charges with: "It is not right to bring in sensational and, in fact, false claims, a relatively trivial matter compared to the deaths of 109,000 people... CNN should be ashamed of doing that." Assange was referring to a death toll released on WikiLeaks that was recorded by the U.$. military in Iraq who previously claimed to not be tracking Iraqi deaths.
To assure readers that these tactics are nothing new, a parallel story played out within our own movement just 2 years ago. The decades old MIM website at etext.org was shut down by people outside of MIM on January 9, 2009. This occurred as the primary editor of the website was reporting death threats and the circulation of rape charges by multiple white wimmin. He has referred to this as a "lynching," as rape charges have always been a tool of social control of oppressed nation men under the rule of white power. While MIM(Prisons) and at least one other cell made efforts to restore the content of the site, the damage was done as all incoming links were defunct. Traffic to those documents remains at a fraction of what it used to be.
The editor of the etext.org MIM site later explained that he did not restore the site immediately as it could just as quickly be taken down again. WikiLeaks is unique in its resources and high profile status, so it has largely managed to remain online, with its mission receiving a net benefit from the press coverage. But when decades of material are separated from their domain name as happened to MIM, as well as many of the over 80 hip hop websites shut down by Homeland Security last month(7), their access to the rest of the world is seriously challenged. As we have mentioned in the past, independent institutions of the oppressed online are very fragile. Some combination of technology, security tactics and alliances with the national bourgeoisie in anti-imperialist nations will need to provide solutions to this problem as the imperialists increase their repression on the internet.
The need for anti-imperialist media sources
A University of Maryland study titled “Misinformation and the 2010 Election” found that people who are exposed to mainstream news sources are quite misinformed about the facts. For instance, 42% of people surveyed didn't know that Obama was born in the U.$. The survey looked at newspapers and news magazines, network TV news broadcasts, public broadcasting (NPR or PBS), Fox News, MSNBC and CNN. They found “Looking at the frequency of misinformation among the consumers of various news sources, one striking feature is that substantial levels of misinformation were present in the daily consumers of all news sources. Even the daily consumers of news sources with the lowest levels of misinformation still included substantial numbers with misinformation.”(10)
This doesn't mean we should all stop following the news; people with higher levels of exposure to news sources had lower levels of misinformation. This last fact had a few striking exceptions, for instance, Fox News topped the misinformation list with the viewers with the most incorrect information and a trend showing that the more a persyn watches Fox the more misinformed they become. However, consumers of other mainstream media sources were also very mislead on key facts, including NPR and PBS consumers and viewers of other daily TV news.(10) Without a viable daily source of anti-imperialist news, revolutionaries still need to use mainstream media, but we need to look at it with a critical eye and use as many international sources as we can get our hands on.
The clear misinformation being spread by mainstream media, combined with the constant covering up of even the most mundane of facts by the imperialist governments and their allies, mean that the value of alternative media sources can not be overstated. WikiLeaks provides a clear service to anti-imperialists even without any significant political analysis on their website. The politics are clear in the context of the content that comes through WikiLeaks daily exposing imperialism as a system of corruption, brutality and exploitation. News sources like this are crucial to revolutionaries and we must defend their existence.
It is our task to go further and provide context for the facts and help people make connections between all the terrorist acts committed by the U.$. and other imperialist countries and the just revolutionary struggles of the oppressed peoples around the world.
There's this confusing aspect I've never quite been able to understand about christian morality. You see, I've sat alone for three years in the solitary superman control unit sensory deprivation dungeon. Where every emotion is sharpened a hundred fold but every avenue to share or express this feeling is cruelly taken away. Except mail. And my pen.
So it irks me to receive these fancy gilded colorful christmas cards from total strangers where they tell me they love me but damn me to the depths of hell in the same breath. Because I'm a sinner my soul is in limbo and its time for me to repent and prostrate myself to the all might glorious one, or burn!
But I love you. Brother. Take care.
Is this what a motherfucker needs? Maybe if you all got together out there and started chanting and holding hands these walls that hold amerikka's 2.4 million political prisoners would crumble and we could join you with a psalm.
Of course, maybe because we are top notch "sinners" in your books the last thing you want is for us to be released. Does that thought frighten you! Is it a whole hell of a lot easier to pray for someone's soul than it is to minister to their torturous mindfucked life? Because, in reality, christians and "criminals" are both mindwashed masses. I'd be surprised if one could exist without the other. The former needs the latter to lord over and condemn. And preach to from afar. (The further the better - no?) and what would a "criminal" do without the piles upon piles of guilt, shame, sense of inferiority and hurt his brother christian bestows? In shiny christmas cards.
The time has come to turn the tables.
Your religion and those U$ concentration kamps; your steeples and the judges pulpit; the church and the courthouse are one and the same. Tools of oppression. Both are filled with bigotry, racism and egotism. The priest and the judge. The gangster, the killer and the dope dealer. Who are the real sinners here? Who's the bad guy? The true gang?
I heard once that to interact with the true insanity in a person one has to be aware of the fact that craziness likes to jump ship. Meaning a crazy person has the ability to make you feel like you're the one that's nuts. And I'd say the same applies to unjust systems in power. They have a way of mindwashing you into a nazi or a 'mexican-border-fascist-crazed-minuteman.'
So father-elder-sister-brother our struggle is a fight to survive. Day to day. Minute to minute as human beings. Your creed and country are killing us as you pass around the collection plate and mail form letters to us to ease your consciences. Our struggle attempts to raise our fellow captives self-esteem and heal; not guilt-trip and destroy as your church does, the living, right here and now, interest us. Not some idealist bourgeois bullshit afterlife.
It is your imperialist system that must lay down and prostrate and ask for mercy. And not from the almighty or some winged man. But from your fellow man you'll kneel in supplication.
And I"m going to go there. I must.
Why are we the ones hated? The prisoners. We who sit and study and starve to death. And why are they the ones supported? The soldiers. The ones who drop bombs on innocent people for a paycheck. Maybe because all we do is keep beds full and a handful of you employed we're inferior? At least compared to those that keep your gas tanks full and new amerikkan colonies occupied we are. no?
But I digress.
Brother christian, I'll wish you a merry christmas also. And I send my love. But please note I'm not parting with some "beefed up scare tactic ultimatum" that might leave you in tears tonight fingering your pistol. I understand that your kind, who keep medical science in a moral chokehold and evolution out of the elementary schools, are escapists and weak. I know a person who's a citizen of earth's most 'murderous-racist-atomic-imperialist-hypocritical' nation feels a need to bury the old head in the sand. I feel you. I used to hide beneath the needle myself.
I just ask you keep your demons to yourself. Please. Never once did I try to push my dope on you. So give me the same respect.
And as you stand bent over with your head in a stale hole. Know the rest of us have woken up and changed the CD. That bass beat you hear as you lose consciousness isn't the stars and stripes.
We're rocking the anthem of international socialism round these parts. The international! Let no one build walls to divide us, walls of hatred nor walls of stone. come greet the dawn and stand beside us, we'll live together or we'll die alone. in our world poisoned by exploitation, those who have taken, now they must give! And end the vanity of nations... we want no condescending saviors to rule us from their judgment hall...
I just completed my fourth reading of a pamphlet I received from you titled "Shut Down Control Units in Prison," and I found it in step with my own thoughts on the subject.
Your interpretation on how prisoners are validated is right on point and I'm living proof of it, my validation was based on my being in possession of written materials and an image of a dragon. But the inept way in which I was validated isn't what made me go into a state of frenzy, it was the fact that after being in the prison system for 12 years, prior to my being validated, I had no idea of what the validation process was. As one who spent a great deal of his time studying the rules and regulations of the prison system, I can only guess that the reason I overlooked the validation process is because I became too busy fighting to make a difference in other areas of the prison system, but now that I'm in the grasp of the demon I'm going to alter the hell he has pulled so many into.
After spending about a year in the SHU trying to figure out how the hell I was validated, I rolled up my sleeves and started working on how to not only get myself out of the SHU, but the multitude of others around me. But I soon found out that a large number of prisoners in the SHU feel so defeated that they have given up hope and become content with being in the SHU. Some have even become proud of being validated and don't want to hear anything from me about what we can do to get out of the SHU.
One of the first cases that I started studying about the validation process is a case you wrote about in the pamphlet you sent to me which is the Castillo case. Now don't get me wrong the case knocked on the door of change, but it should have kicked down the door. An example of what I'm referring to is the rule change requiring that a prisoner has to be in possession of items such as written materials or symbols on their body before they are placed in the SHU. But what the attorneys who represented Castillo didn't ask the court to make a requirement of is that the CDCR must list the names of which written materials, tattoos and symbols are "gang related," because as we now know the CDCR can say anything that they want is a gang related item.
I've written to the attorneys who represented Castillo, and one told me that they no longer work on prison cases and the other one who you wrote about in the article told me that he wanted $5000 to answer my questions about the Castillo ruling. So I filed a 602-appeal, and to make a long story short my appeal was shot down due to my filing it too late, and although that door was closed another one has opened and I'll keep you updated on the outcome.
Another thing you wrote about prisoners being in the SHU that I agree with is how atrocious it is that a prisoner can be put in the SHU for a determinate term for committing a violent act, but a prisoner who has a tattoo, symbol or certain written materials in their possession will be put in the SHU without committing any violent action for an indeterminate term for a minimum of 6 years (this also is a stipulation that the attorneys for Castillo could have changed). In conversations that I've had with some Institutional Gang Investigators (IGI), they have agreed with me about the flaws in the validation process, but also said that it isn't their responsibility to correct it. I can understand why they would say it, so myself and other prisoners must pick up the baton and run with it towards the finish line of change. It's time for me to step down from my podium speaking about subjects you already have a full understanding of, so in closing I thank you for all that you are doing for those of us behind prison walls and I look forward to hearing from you again.
MIM(Prisons) adds: Check out our campaign against control units for more information on the fight against these torture chambers filled with people on false gang validations.
I am shocked by the stupidity of the Amerikan people to recognize the causes of this economic cri$i$ and the roots of the current covert and overt imperialist wars (i.e. massacres) against other native nations and majority-driven grass roots movements. But I am equally disturbed in what I see going on within Amerika. I don't believe there is any will by the Amerikkkan people to resist against this United Snakes of surveillance. Instead what we have is ridiculous groups like the Tea Party whose true fear is of Amerika losing its hegemony to rising Oppressed Nations.
A lot is to be blamed for this. Like letting political pundits and the co-opted media determine the topic and language of social debates. And don't get me started on the media's go-to military West Point grad analysts who are supposedly going to give us a fair and truthful analysis. All we hear is terror terror terror, national security security security, austerity cuts cuts cuts, and planned protest protest protest.
To hell with the debate over Republikkkan or Democrat$. I'm ready for the revolution. A revolution is what we need to uproot the military industrial complex. A revolution would make the imperialist monopolies U$ currency paper worthless. A revolution would accomplish all that is needed. Yet our potential comrades are bogged down in appeasing Saturday or Sunday protest while the CEOs and corporate board members are out on their yachts. We're stuck in de-centralized legal battles while the political establishment appoints and upholds outrageous U$ supreme court decisions which undermine dozens of hard fought legal battles.
I could elaborate all century about the genocides, entrapments, and swindling business that this police state has committed but that is of little use to us enlightened few. Tactics, strategy and the execution of both is what we should focus on. The execution of tactical and strategic methods will vary depending on your individual prisons and predicaments within those bars of oppression. I myself am very limited in the activism I can contribute to the revolutionary movement because I'm in solitary confinement for the next three years (minimum). But through obscure ways I can talk with others. I use this channel of communication to convince and discuss current, past and future events.
I never discuss or answer anything in the language of the oppressor. What justice does it do us to use the term "bailout" when it's really a robbery? What justice does it do to call a Saudi fighting in Afghanistan a foreign fighter or terrorist and then on the contrary call an Amerikkan soldier fighting there a liberator or patriot. What justice does it do us to call a hungry man who takes from the oppressive rich a criminal and then on the contrary enable U$ exploitative foreign policy by calling it national interest. When we talk in the language of the oppressor we legitimize the frivolous arguments that ignorant amerikans have been partaking in since the consolidation of the modern media establishment that sponsors this imperialist empire.
So please comrades be more conscious of your choice of words when debunking this "amerikan dream" myth. This imperialist hegemony is in judicial, information, and economic cardiac-arrest (I wish I could say the same about the military). Propaganda is in full swing and the best tactical defense and offense is that of dialectical historical materialism. DHM is more than just 19th century literature It's a social and political science developmental pattern that serves as the best kryptonite to capitalism and this so-called democracy. So lets all convey our messages as revolutionary comrades and not as stupefied soldiers.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade makes a good point about the importance of language in shaping our discussion about politics and current events. We need to use every tool at our disposal to expose the imperialists. However, we do not agree that Amerikans are "stupid" for not recognizing the causes of the economic crisis, or that the media is to blame for this. While the mainstream media is certainly serving the imperialists, Amerikans are going along with it because it is what they want to hear. The vast majority of Amerikan's have been bought off by imperialism and are paid more than the value of their labor with superprofits brought home from the exploitation of Third World. This gives Amerikans an economic interest in sticking their heads in the sand and supporting imperialism. It's important that we understand the classes within U.$. borders so that we know who has a material interest in revolution and what demands we should be rallying people around. For a more detailed case study of Amerikan wealth, see the MIM(Prisons) article on the U$ housing market printed in ULK17.
by a South Carolina prisoner December 2010 permalink
With whom shall we unite? As Maoists, and as materialists, one focus in this imperialist country should be on the economic interest of its various segments in order to determine with whom we should or shouldn't fight. Tactically speaking, An enemy of my chief enemy is as fate would have it a friend to me. Sometimes permanently, many times temporarily, it depends on their particular ideological and political stance you see. The grave consequence of revisionism in the heart of imperialism is a subtle yet vicious schism between imperialist country so-called communist workers and the revolutionary practice of proletarian internationalism. Such division born of revisionism threatens the success of one revolutionary socialist mission. It puts us in a dire position which psycho-socially translates into an unhealthy state of nihilism and terminates any possibility of an anti-imperialist united front. It puts one's enemy forces in a position to win but to begin with as dialectics teaches, it is the internal contradictions within our own camp that is the determining factor in making our foes into the triumphant champs. So these contradictions must be speedily resolved. They must be solved and we must consciously involve ourselves in their resolution beyond the limited subjective confines of our egotistic idealistic minds. In short order, we must refine our scientific use of the materialist method of analysis if we are to successfully persist in the massive work of building an expanded revolutionary united front.
Cartoons aren't real. But in the mind of the public, that's what prison inmates have become; a not-quite-real depiction, a 'Freddie' or 'Nightmare on Elm Street,' or 'Chuckie' the evil, knife wielding doll from a similar themed movie. We are quite simply, 'The Boogie Man' to much of the public.
The news media has lifted this image of us in total, from the drawing pad of the prosecution and police spokesmen who have a budget funding interest in heightening the public's fear of prisoners. They traffic in fear for profit just as surely as any drug dealer traffics in narcotics.
As a group, prisoners are shunned and isolated from society, which serves to keep us unheard, unseen and sufficiently distant to mask the inconvenient truth of our humanity. Unsatisfied with our present excessive sentences and hopeless parole hearings, the state, through the ever-solicitous news media, paints a picture of prisoners as cartoon cut-outs of a somnolent evil, awaiting an 'early' release (which is in their eyes, any release this side of death). Then to swoop down and fall on society, like the mongolian hoards of Attila or the evil flying monkeys from 'The Wizard of OZ.'
The gang member, the mentally ill, and the drug dealer are each depicted as heinous, the sex-offender has the honor and burden of being designated the premier 'hated minority.' Some of our fellow prisoners believe, mistakenly, that the legal excesses directed at the sex-offender, will drain off the venom and hatred of the fear-driven stampede headed our way. It will not. Emboldened by their success against sex-offenders, they see no reason not to widen the scope of their offensive against liberty and justice, to 'cast a wider net.' And as they do so, we are unable to counter this wider application of law or restriction because with the unchallenged perversion of justice burdening the sex-offender there is legal precedent for us to be yoked together and like-wise bear an excessive penalty and burden. In the end we are all equally heinous in the eyes of the law.
Once started, this treatment of people as less-than-human, progresses inexorably, ever-widening, all-encompassing and proud of its own inhumanity. First the sex-offenders, then gang-members, then felons of every type, then misdemeanants, inflators, infractors, smokers and skateboarders, the 'disapproved', will each in turn, become one of 'those' who don't deserve justice. We've seen this before. Pick any pogrom, massacre, ethnic cleansing, relocation or concentration camp in history and you'll find that it's genesis was right here in the same denial of humanity and justice.
We are nearing the end of 2010 and the progression of anti-human, anti-liberty and anti-justice continues unabated. Here in the Fresno, California area, the young father, who put a thumb-nail sized tattoo on his son's side was sentenced to eight years in prison, pleading guilty to a child abuse charge to avoid a life in prison sentence. And just in time! A new law just passed in California, called 'Adams' Law', reflecting the shameful practice of naming unjust and legally dubious laws after children who have suffered death or abuse. What kind of memorial for a child is it, when the state commits injustice in their name?