Curtain Raiser

Turn Rebellion Into Law, Colltalers

Juneteenth, now a national holiday, is a step further in the current reckoning of the Black experience in America. After massive street rallies of recent years, it’s the recovery of yet another fragment of memory and history to make us all whole. But pro-racial rights aren’t as easy to pass as jubilee dates.
It’s been two weeks since Pedro Castillo won most presidential votes in Peru but no swear-in ceremony yet. Rival Fujimori, daughter of the jailed ex-dictator, won’t concede. And now, the military is saying something. No surprises in Iran, though: new president Ebrahim Raisi is an Ayatollah favorite.
Let’s start with what it’s been already off most headlines: Israel’s bombing of Gaza, breaking the ceasefire yet again, and the deafening silent reaction from the world. That means, Palestinians either being evicted in occupied territories or rebuilding their destroyed open-prison land, have few friends in high places these days. As President Biden refuses to act, it’d be up to the leadership of U.S. Jewish groups to step up to the plate and do the right thing.
In Yemen, scores were killed as Iran-supported Huthi rebels fight government forces and Saudi Arabia’s U.S.-supplied warplanes for control of Marib and, what else? its surrounding oil fields. As it enters its seventh year of virtual Saudi occupation, and the worst humanitarian crisis of modern times, Yemen is yet another example of our trained indifference to human suffering. But the U.S. has said it’ll retrieve some war equipment from the region.
In France, the tragedy of femicide has finally reached the mainstream as a man who murdered Julie Douib in Corsica three years ago was sentenced to life in prison. The number of women being killed by men they once loved has skyrocketed worldwide, partly aggravated by the forced lockdowns. But thanks to women’s rights advocacy, there’s now a new understanding of the magnitude of this global crisis, which is being called the Other Pandemic.
Speaking of Covid, Brazil’s broken through the sad 500,000 deaths threshold, and Brazilians went back to the streets to accuse President Bolsonaro of having caused it. Calls have abounded for his impeachment as a Senate investigation gives support to protesters. Media stories revealed a corollary of bad decisions taken by him, from opposing lockdowns and masks to touting ineffective meds to refusing vaccines to his failure to act like a president.
However, just like in Peru, military forces are never too far from breathing over the shoulders of power and it’s happening again in South America. It’s unclear whether the army inserts itself into the political conversation or it’s called upon by enemies of democracy, but history has proven that its actions are always disastrous, including every coup they’ve staged. Bolsonaro dragging their boots to his corner is typical but Brazilians now want something else.
Alberto Fujimori was convicted of “crimes against humanity” for his role in the 1990s killings and kidnappings by security forces and is serving 25 years in prison. In March, his daughter Keiko was also accused of corruption and may serve an even longer sentence. That is if she doesn’t win Peru’s presidency. But after all the presidential votes were counted, she came in short and decided to launch a mainly fact-free campaign to reverse its results.
Now a group of retired military officers came to her aid by suggesting on a social media letter the category could reject Castillo over the allegations. Apart from such patriotic grandstanding, their real aim is at relevance, which is at odds with the will of Peruvians who’d rather they’d stay out of this.
As for the Iranian elections, being predictable doesn’t mean things are not very much sizzling. The new president is empowered to negotiate new terms for a nuclear agreement which is likely to include the right for Iran to build some sort of nuke weapon. Hail the admirable New World, thanks to #45.
June is Pride Month in the U.S., still a refuge for the LGBTQ+ community, no matter how much has to be achieved. It marks the 52nd anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall Riots when patrons of the famous NYC Greenwich Village club rebelled against years of brutal police harassment and fought back. Despite issues of corporate appropriation and representativeness, Gay Pride and its multicolor parades and parties are a big, inclusive celebration of love.
That’s why it’s so disturbing to read about killings of Two-Spirit people which is how Native members of the community are known. A report by the Sovereign Bodies Institute and the California Rural Indian Health Board found increased violence, often fatal, against indigenous gay and trans people. Not a new phenomenon, it stems from the same “heteropatriarchal violence and racism,” as The Guardian put it, behind every sexual abuse crime.
Perhaps because it’s a new presidency, one immediately challenged by threats to democracy, the electoral system, women’s reproductive rights, and the perpetuation of crimes against people of color, many thought that this could be a breakthrough summer. Given the fact that the majority is inoculated against the coronavirus, Americans could pick this time to refocus the conversation on race, sexual freedom, and climate change. But it may not be.
We may’ve advanced on representation and almost frank discussions about slavery as the foundation of U.S. economic might, and how much-needed reparations may start the healing process. But we claim to follow the rule of law and that has mostly failed both descendants of slaves and Indigenous Americans. Laws can only be fixed in Congress so for as long as it’s been illicitly held by Mitch McConnell and his filibusters, there will be no change.
“If you look at the history of the U.S. legislation in the last decade, you see it doesn’t really represent the public interest. You simply look at public polling and then you look at the legislative history of the issue and you see they don’t align.” That’s Edward Snowden, who is 38 today, speaking at the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s 30th anniversary. And that’s his life, from having a nice job to be forced to live in a strange and dangerous country.
He had no desire to become an international pariah even as celebrated for his courage and decency as he is. And yet, his resolve to demand integrity and transparency from world leaders remains admirably intact. He’s even willing to pay the fair price for his idealism. Thus Happy Birthday, Ed.
It happens on the Summer Solstice, the year’s longest day. Ah, the ones to follow it, heat waves, likely blackouts, hot nights of romance, and wildfires from hell. But please spare us from the nightmare of spiderweb-covered towns in Australia and India. Look it up, it’s frightening. Nuff said. Avanti! WC


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