Two Sonnets for Memorial Day

(To Jessie Pope,[1] etc.)

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge
Till on the haunting fires we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of disappointed shells that dropped behind.
GAS! Gas! Quick, boys! An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And floundering like a man in fire or in lime.—
Dim, through misty panes and thick green light
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest,
To children ardent for some distant glory
The old lie: DULCE ET DECORUM EST
PRO PATRIA MORI
.[2]

—Wilfred Owen (Oct. 1917).

The poet, Wilfred Owen began work on this poem in October 1917 while on leave in England. This is his best known poem. He never completed it for publication, because a year later he was dead. On November 4, 1918 he was killed on the front in a meaningless battle for the Sambre–Oise Canal seven days before the warring governments finalized the Armistice.

  1. [1] Jesse Pope was an Leicester poet who wrote light verse before the Great War and then during the War published a series of patriotic poems in the Daily Mail urging young men to enlist and celebrating patriotic sacrifice, using verse like the following: Who’s for the Game, the biggest that’s played / The red crashing game of a fight? Who’ll grip and tackle the job unafraid / And who thinks he’d rather sit tight? . . . / Who knows it won’t be a picnic—not much— / Yet eagerly shoulders a gun? / Who would much rather come back with a crutch / Than lie low and be out of the fun?
  2. [2] A line from the imperial poet Horace’s Odes. In English, Sweet it is and becoming to die patriotically [= for the patria]. In 1913, shortly before the outbreak of the War, the line was carved into a wall at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.

Who Cares?

So you tell me that your country cannot survive an influx of migrants from other countries, or from some other country in particular. OK, well, so what? Who cares?

If it is a question of survival, and if countries have to perish so that people can live, then I am on the side of people, not on the side of your territorially organized ethno-political combines. Of course I am. Why aren’t you?

If countries’ survival and people’s survival come into conflict, then good lord of course people are always categorically more important.

\‪#‎ImmigrantRights‬ ‪#‎OpenAllBorders‬ ‪#‎AbolishAllNations‬

Also.

Local Government Vs. The City of Detroit

This news is, of course, perfectly appalling.

Shared Article from Motor City Muckraker

City of Detroit threatens John K. King bookstore over building b…

The city is threatening to take legal action if the book store doesn't remove two banners from its iconic warehouse.

motorcitymuckraker.com


John K. King books is one of the best bookstores in the world, and a local landmark in the city of Detroit. The janky banners are part of the charm, and a perfectly legitimate form of self-promotion that helps the store look like it’s supposed to, and connect with the people they are trying to connect with, while harming exactly no-one.

The local government’s extortionate demands for a permit are uncalled-for. The claim that such demands come from the city of Detroit are, of course, also absurd. Almost no-one in the city of Detroit cares. Those who do are as likely to be on King Books’ side as they are to be on the city government’s. It would be far more accurate to say that this is yet another instance of the local government threatening the city of Detroitwhich King Books is a far more valuable and productive part of, than any bureaucratic entity or a parasitic control freak like Mike Duggan.

King Books isn’t hurting anyone. They’re doing a great thing. Leave them alone.

See also.

Open all borders, end all national boundaries. A Manifesto.

Today, March 16th, is Open Borders Day, according to the folks over at OpenBorders.info. In honor of the day, they have posted an Open Borders Manifesto, which they are asking people to sign. It’s a good start, but it doesn’t go far enough. As manifestos go, it rightly defends the essential importance of open borders, but it undercuts itself by carving out vast areas for government border policing and border control, in the interest of taking a reformist approach. That’s an understandable choice if you think that reformist approaches are a productive means of securing incremental reforms. But I don’t think that they are, really, at least not incremental reforms in the direction that I would like to see. So I’ve taken their manifesto and I’ve used it to create my own. As you may know if you know my views on borders, this is actually a pretty level-headed and moderate statement. But not one that will leave any room for government border policing or suggest that there are legitimate reasons to deny people freedom of travel.

Open Borders Manifesto (Non-Reformist Edition)

Written by Charles Johnson, as a re-writing of OpenBorders.info’s original Open Borders Manifesto.

Freedom of movement is a basic liberty that no government and no individual has the right to invade. This includes movement across national boundaries.

International human rights agreements already recognize the right of any individual to leave his or her country. But a right to emigrate is meaningless if you have nowhere to immigrate to. International and domestic law must respect not only the right of individuals to peacefully leave the country they are in, but also the right of individuals to peacefully enter other countries. Governments have no right to discriminate against foreign nationals simply on the basis of their nationality: freedom of movement and residence are fundamental rights and should not be circumscribed.

Border enforcement is both morally unconscionable and economically destructive. Border controls restrict the movement of people who bear no ill intentions. Most of the people legally barred from moving across international borders today are fleeing persecution or poverty, desire a better job or home, striving to rejoin their families or to make a better life for themselves and their loved ones. They deserve sympathy and solidarity, not scapegoating, stigma, criminalization, arrest or exile.

National borders bar ordinary people from pursuing the life and opportunity they desire simply because of where they are from, not because they lack merit or because they pose a danger to others. Under the status quo billions of people are discriminated against, targeted, criminalized, legally barred from families, livelihoods, ambitions and justice purely on the basis of an accident of birth: where they were born. This is a drain on the economic and innovative potential of human societies across the world. It is indefensible in any order that recognizes the moral worth and dignity of every human being.

We seek for every law, policy or government that bars cross-border movement, that polices or penalizes people for immigrating across borders, to be altered or abolished. The economic toll of the restrictive border regime is vast, the human toll for billions of ordinary people is incalculable. To end this, we do not need a philosopher’s utopia or a world government. As human beings, we only demand accountability from governments for the senseless immigration laws that they enact in our name and inflict on our neighbors. Border controls should be uprooted and abolished. International borders should be open for all to cross, in both directions.

Individual or organizational signatories are welcome.

See also.

We need government cops because private protection forces would be accountable to the powerful and well-connected instead of being accountable to the people.

A St. Louis County grand jury on Monday decided not to indict Ferguson, Missouri, police Officer Darren Wilson in the August killing of teenager Michael Brown. The decision wasn’t a surprise — leaks from the grand jury had led most observers to conclude an indictment was unlikely — but it was unusual. Grand juries nearly always decide to indict.

Or at least, they nearly always do so in cases that don’t involve police officers.

Former New York state Chief Judge Sol Wachtler famously remarked that a prosecutor could persuade a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich. The data suggests he was barely exaggerating: According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. attorneys prosecuted 162,000 federal cases in 2010, the most recent year for which we have data. Grand juries declined to return an indictment in 11 of them.

Wilson’s case was heard in state court, not federal, so the numbers aren’t directly comparable. Unlike in federal court, most states, including Missouri, allow prosecutors to bring charges via a preliminary hearing in front of a judge instead of through a grand jury indictment. That means many routine cases never go before a grand jury. Still, legal experts agree that, at any level, it is extremely rare for prosecutors to fail to win an indictment.

If the prosecutor wants an indictment and doesn’t get one, something has gone horribly wrong, said Andrew D. Leipold, a University of Illinois law professor who has written critically about grand juries. It just doesn’t happen.

Cases involving police shootings, however, appear to be an exception. As my colleague Reuben Fischer-Baum has written, we don’t have good data on officer-involved killings. But newspaper accounts suggest, grand juries frequently decline to indict law-enforcement officials. A recent Houston Chronicle investigation found that police have been nearly immune from criminal charges in shootings in Houston and other large cities in recent years. In Harris County, Texas, for example, grand juries haven’t indicted a Houston police officer since 2004; in Dallas, grand juries reviewed 81 shootings between 2008 and 2012 and returned just one indictment… .

— Ben Casselman, It’s Incredibly Rare For A Grand Jury To Do What Ferguson’s Just Did
FiveThirtyEight (November 24, 2014).

Protesters in Seattle, Washington react to the announcement of the grand jury’s decision not to indict Darren Wilson (November 24, 2014)

I’m not invested in indicting Darren Wilson though I understand its (symbolic) import to many people, most especially Mike Brown’s family and friends. Vincent Warren of the Center on Constitutional Rights speaks for many, I think, when he writes:

Without accountability, there can be no rule of law. If Wilson is not indicted, or is under-indicted, the clear message is that it is open season on people of color, that St. Louis has declared that Darren Wilson is not a criminal but that the people who live under the thumbs of the Darren Wilsons of this country are. It would say to the cry that “Black lives matter” that, no, in fact, they do not.

I understand the sentiment that Warren expresses. Yet I don’t believe that an indictment of Wilson would be evidence that black lives do in fact matter to anyone other than black people. Nor do I think his indictment would mean that it was no longer open season on people of color in this country. If we are to take seriously that oppressive policing is not a problem of individual “bad apple” cops then it must follow that a singular indictment will have little to no impact on ending police violence. As I type, I can already feel the impatience and frustration of some who will read these words.

? It feels blasphemous to suggest that one is disinvested from the outcome of the grand jury deliberations. “Don’t you care about accountability for harm caused?” some will ask. “What about justice?” others will accuse. My response is always the same: I am not against indicting killer cops. I just know that indictments won’t and can’t end oppressive policing which is rooted in anti-blackness, social control and containment. Policing is derivative of a broader social justice. It’s impossible for non-oppressive policing to exist in a fundamentally oppressive and unjust society. . . .

The pattern after police killings is all too familiar. Person X is shot & killed. Person X is usually black (or less frequently brown). Community members (sometimes) take to the streets in protest. They are (sometimes) brutally suppressed. The press calls for investigations. Advocates call for reforms suggesting that the current practices and systems are ‘broken’ and/or unjust. There is a (racist) backlash by people who “support” the police. A very few people whisper that the essential nature of policing is oppressive and is not susceptible to any reforms, thus only abolition is realistic. These people are considered heretic by most. I’ve spent years participating in one way or another in this cycle. . . .

— Mariame Kaba, Whether Darren Wilson Is Indicted or Not, the Entire System Is Guilty
In These Times (November 17, 2014).

So, to those in Ferguson, there are ways of channeling your concerns constructively and there are ways of channeling your concerns destructively. . . . Those of you who are watching tonight understand that there’s never an excuse for violence . . . .

— President Barack Obama Remarks by the President After Announcement of the Decision by the Grand Jury in Ferguson, Missouri
November 24, 2014

Barack Obama, President of the United States and Commander-in-Chief of the largest and most heavily armed military force in the world, got onto the television to tell us that there’s never an excuse for violence just as heavily-armed police throughout Ferguson began launching teargas against everyone in sight on the streets. Of course, when he said violence he meant violence by protesters. It is eerily reminiscent of Lyndon Banes Johnson in July 1967, going on national television to announce that We will not endure violence. It matters not by whom it is done or under what slogan or banner, — saying this at the height of the Vietnam War, and on the specific occasion of his decision to send U.S. soldiers and tanks down Woodward Avenue.

The police are irresponsible and unaccountable. That is what makes them the police. Unless we hold them accountable. The law, for its part, will never curtail the racist violence of the law. Only social accountability for police officers, not legal processes, can do that.

The NAACP circulated this image on social media, reading “No more Michael Browns: I support an end to police brutality and militarization.”
You had me at I support an end to police.

Abolish the police.

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