The Sanctity of the First Amendment

[A rather uneventful college commencement season full of the usual platitudes and bromides was shaken up by British novelist Ian McEwan’s refreshingly challenging the zeitgeist of trigger warnings, free-speech zones, and campus censorship at Dickinson College in Pennsylvania this week. McEwan did not shy away from addressing the current temper on campus, choosing to focus on the creeping group-think in faculty lounges and discussion sections instead of the all too easy targets of Russian crackdowns on free speech or the “industrial scale” state-sponsored censorship in China. McEwan directly confronted the problem of a country rooted in the tradition of free expression under the First Amendment meekly submitting to what he called “bi-polar thinking” — the eagerness of some to “not side with Charlie Hebdo because it might seem as if  we’re endorsing George Bush’s War on Terror.”

Read more here | The National Review

On Sacred Ground

Indigenous communities around the world resist threats to their sacred places—the original protected lands—in a growing movement to defend human rights and restore the environment. In this four-part documentary series, native people share ecological wisdom and spiritual reverence while battling a utilitarian view of land in the form of government megaprojects, consumer culture, and resource extraction as well as competing religions and climate change.

Birth of the Prison: A Military-​Medical Gaze and the US-​Mexico Border

[…. In The Politics of Health in the Eighteenth Century, Michel Foucault traces the historical shift in medical perception towards the poor by which the poor became no longer the objects of a charitable, ecclesiastical concern for justice but instead an economic, political and medical liability of the nation-​state. For Foucault this transition from an ecclesiastical model of care based on justice in the 17th century to our more familiar economic, security-​centric model of care that emerged in the 18th century thus forms the politics within which our perceptions of the poor are circumscribed today. In The Birth of the Clinic, Foucault had observed that this peculiar economic-​political analysis of the sick poor also extended to the relationship between the examiner and the examined where, in order to be cured, the sick patient must submit to being objectified, her suffering made a spectacle for the benefit of public health and the economic interests of the nation. This implicit contract between the doctor and patient created in the space of the clinic, Foucault observed, was a “tacit form of violence” foisted upon “…a sick body that demands to be comforted, not displayed.” [4] The modern medical gaze, for Foucault, was thus constituted from the moment that the sick poor were transformed into a useful asset and economic liability for the liberal state.

In the context of US-​Mexico Border Patrol, perceptions and policies towards immigrant refugees fleeing the poverty and violence of Mexico and Central America had, in the 1990s, for the most part resisted the transition Foucault marks between a more humanitarian and security-​centric model of care. Indeed, throughout the 1990s, Border Patrol adopted what was referred to as a “Good Samaritan” policy towards the sick and injured, wherein agents were restricted from taking into custody subjects who were sick or injured, and were prevented from attempting to establish alienage (undocumented status) in cases where injury or illness was suspected. As political geographer Jill Williams has documented, pre-​9/​11 Border Patrol security policy and attitudes towards undocumented immigrants had, in general, respected the boundary between enforcement and the humanitarian concern for helping the sick and injured asylum seeker.[5]Before 9/​11, Williams notes, border patrol agents viewed sick or injured border crossers as ‘off-​limits’, since the unofficial “hands-​off” approach to migrant care adopted by the border security apparatus prevented agents from getting involved in the responsibility of delivering medical care to the undocumented border-​crossers. Rather than attempting to establish an injured persons’ alienage – and thus begin the process of removal and repatriation – Border Patrol policy in the 1990s held that “(W)here an alien’s injured condition precludes our determination of alienage or deportability, or where an alien’s injured condition renders the alien unlikely to escape, we cannot and do not take custody at the scene.”[6]Medical care, in the eyes of 1990s border security, was the responsibility of non-​governmental humanitarian and church-​based organizations. In short, the sick or injured 1990s border-​crosser remained for the Border Patrol off-​limits to the security apparatus of the state….]

Read the full article | Critical Legal Thinking


A White God We Should All Believe In

The Power of Images | Being in One’s Shoes

One Photograph Is Turning America’s Racist History on Its Head | MIC

[“A lot of artists want an exact statement for everything they do,” he said. “But I never want to not create something because I’m afraid of what it might say.”

Even so, you might assume that the 33-year-old photographer from Jacksonville, Florida — who built his newest photo series around the civil rights era’s most potent images and symbols — is at least somewhat politically driven.

You might also assume that he has much to say about the state of American race relations, especially since the high-profile police killings of black men and boys like Walter Scott and Michael Brown.

But you’d be wrong — to a point. For starters, Shields is clear about how little he follows current events.

“I live in my own world,” he said. “I try to get my news the old-fashioned way, through word of mouth. So when it finally gets to me, it’s usually already a big story.”]


Running Wild… on so Many Fronts

The Rohingya Refugees That No Country Will Take In

Reporters on Thursday found about 400 refugees from Myanmar’s Muslim Rohingya minority crammed aboard a wooden fishing boat in the Andaman Sea, desperate for food and water.

The refugees said they had been at sea for almost three months and had fled persecution in their home country. They had hoped to reach Malaysia but were turned away by Malay authorities. Six days ago, smugglers abandoned their ship, and ten people had already perished onboard, refugees said. The emaciated faces of hundreds of refugees found adrift in Thai waters on Thursday spoke volumes about the scale of the humanitarian crisis unfolding in South Asia.

Read the full story | The World Post