The Unfinished Oscar Speech


(Daily Kos | February 26, 2016)

Despising “celebrity” in every Hollywood sense of the word, Marlon Brando used his fame to make statements, bring awareness, and create change. Blatantly against any form of racism, Brando marched in 1963 during the Civil Rights Movement in DC, and often carried his fight for equal rights into his movie roles. In one film, Brando insisted that his air-force pilot character in Sayonara marry the pilot’s Japanese lover at the end. This was in 1957 during a time when America was steeped in Japanese racism. In 1967, Brando was the first leading actor to play, in a sympathetic way, a closeted homosexual military officer in Reflections in a Golden Eye.

But Marlon Brando’s most renowned example of human rights activism took place in 1973 when he forfeited an Oscar for The Godfather in order to bring international awareness to the wrongs being committed against American Indians. After the winner of the category Best Actor was announced, Sacheen Littlefeather went up on stage and spoke on behalf of Marlon Brando. The actress and activist gave a short eloquent and provocative speech which was received by the live audience, and around the world with mixed reactions.

Here is the entire speech (which can also be found here (The New York Times)):

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — For 200 years we have said to the Indian people who are fighting for their land, their life, their families and their right to be free: ”Lay down your arms, my friends, and then we will remain together. Only if you lay down your arms, my friends, can we then talk of peace and come to an agreement which will be good for you.”

When they laid down their arms, we murdered them. We lied to them. We cheated them out of their lands. We starved them into signing fraudulent agreements that we called treaties which we never kept. We turned them into beggars on a continent that gave life for as long as life can remember. And by any interpretation of history, however twisted, we did not do right. We were not lawful nor were we just in what we did. For them, we do not have to restore these people, we do not have to live up to some agreements, because it is given to us by virtue of our power to attack the rights of others, to take their property, to take their lives when they are trying to defend their land and liberty, and to make their virtues a crime and our own vices virtues.

But there is one thing which is beyond the reach of this perversity and that is the tremendous verdict of history. And history will surely judge us. But do we care? What kind of moral schizophrenia is it that allows us to shout at the top of our national voice for all the world to hear that we live up to our commitment when every page of history and when all the thirsty, starving, humiliating days and nights of the last 100 years in the lives of the American Indian contradict that voice?

It would seem that the respect for principle and the love of one’s neighbor have become dysfunctional in this country of ours, and that all we have done, all that we have succeeded in accomplishing with our power is simply annihilating the hopes of the newborn countries in this world, as well as friends and enemies alike, that we’re not humane, and that we do not live up to our agreements.

Perhaps at this moment you are saying to yourself what the hell has all this got to do with the Academy Awards? Why is this woman standing up here, ruining our evening, invading our lives with things that don’t concern us, and that we don’t care about? Wasting our time and money and intruding in our homes.

I think the answer to those unspoken questions is that the motion picture community has been as responsible as any for degrading the Indian and making a mockery of his character, describing his as savage, hostile and evil. It’s hard enough for children to grow up in this world. When Indian children watch television, and they watch films, and when they see their race depicted as they are in films, their minds become injured in ways we can never know.

Recently there have been a few faltering steps to correct this situation, but too faltering and too few, so I, as a member in this profession, do not feel that I can as a citizen of the United States accept an award here tonight. I think awards in this country at this time are inappropriate to be received or given until the condition of the American Indian is drastically altered. If we are not our brother’s keeper, at least let us not be his executioner.

I would have been here tonight to speak to you directly, but I felt that perhaps I could be of better use if I went to Wounded Knee to help forestall in whatever way I can the establishment of a peace which would be dishonorable as long as the rivers shall run and the grass shall grow.

I would hope that those who are listening would not look upon this as a rude intrusion, but as an earnest effort to focus attention on an issue that might very well determine whether or not this country has the right to say from this point forward we believe in the inalienable rights of all people to remain free and independent on lands that have supported their life beyond living memory.

Thank you for your kindness and your courtesy to Miss Littlefeather. Thank you and good night.

This statement was written by Marlon Brando for delivery at the Academy Awards ceremony where Mr. Brando refused an Oscar. The speaker, who read only a part of it, was Shasheen Littlefeather.


Banksy and the Calais Jungle

A new artwork by Banksy criticising the use of teargas in the “Jungle” refugee camp in Calais has appeared on the French embassy in London. The artwork, which depicts a young girl from the film and musical Les Misérables with tears in her eyes as CS gas billows towards her, appeared overnight on Saturday.

In a first for the elusive graffiti artist, the artwork is interactive and includes a stencilled QR code beneath. If viewers hold their phone over the code, it links them to an online video of a police raid on the camps on 5 January.

The work is the latest in a series of pieces by the graffiti artist criticising Europe’s handling of the ongoing refugee crisis. It is a direct comment on the recent attempts by French authorities to bulldoze part of the camp in Calais – which has now been deemed unsafe – and evict about 1,500 refugees. (THE GUARDIAN)




Workmen cover up a new artwork by Banksy. The artwork opposite the French embassy includes a QR code that links to a video of a police raid on the Calais ‘jungle’ camp | Photograph: Yui Mok/PA

See also: Clearing of the “Calais Jungle” in Pictures | THE GUARDIAN

The Slave Ship: An Operative Architecture Responsible for the Atlantic Crossing

A concentration on a micro-argument in the context of a greater argument some subjects of which include German citizens during WWII, non-black South African citizens during Apartheid, American citizens during slavery or their encounters with native Americans, soldiers carrying out illegal orders, Israeli citizens about the Palestinians, Japanese citizens during WWII, and the list goes on seemingly forever. Here it is:

The argument of these articles in the broader context of the research exposed on this platform is simple: although architecture and design (and through them, architects and designers) cannot be held responsible for the founding logic of the genocide that constitutes the slave trade, the latter could simply have never existed without their active contribution and, as such, architecture is fundamentally responsible for the operativity of slavery. (THE FUNAMBULIST)


La Marie-Séraphine (1770) / Excerpt from Bertrand Guillet, La Marie-Séraphine: Navire négrier, Nantes: Editions MeMo, 2009

[… Here, more than ever, we need to forget any dissociation between the various scales of design: the plantation cabin is architecture, of course (see Clifton Ellis and Rebecca Ginsburg (eds), Cabin, Quarter, Plantation, New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010) but more broadly, any materialized form of whatever size or nature implementing the organization of bodies in space is also architecture. This includes the slave ship and its inherent tension between the fundamental cruelty of its design and the economization of life that its function requires vis-a-vis its “human cargo.”

What the example of slave ship allows, because of the world in itself it constitutes, is a representation of the holistic dimension of the weaponization of its architecture. In other words, every component of the slave ship is designed to contribute to the organization of bodies in a spatial configuration optimizing its function, as the illustrations (above and below) of the French slave ship La Marie-Séraphine (1769-1776), show well. This includes the bodies themselves: the sailors’ bodies, in their choreographed accomplishment of navigating this “vast machine” (see Rediker, 2007), the daily ‘care’ of the hundreds of bodies living under the deck, as well as the individualized or collective deadly suppression of potential forms of revolt. In The Slave Ship: A Human History (Penguin, 2007), Marcus Rediker describes the frequent deaths of these bodies during the triangular crossings, which we can interpret through a logic that shares some similarities with slavery itself: not considering bodies individually but rather, through their muscular operativity as a whole by the ship’s captain and owners. Nevertheless, the sailors’ bodies are not the only one engaged in the holistic optimization of the slave ship through its design. The imprisoned African bodies themselves, through the deliberate overpopulation of their space (see past article), were involuntarily acting as as much walls for each other — the illustrations presented here was drawn by the ship’s officer, not an abolitionist and, as such, is very likely to have minimized the amount of bodies present — in particular when these bodies were handcuffed by two, as Rediker describes in his book.]

What is this Notorious Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)?

The TTIP (Trans-Atlantic Partnership Agreement) TISA, (Trade in Services Agreement) and TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement) are highly controversial and top secret deals that would affect the lives of citizens worldwide, yet the general public have no right to decide whether we want them- or even know the details of the draft legislation.

TTIP, in particular, is of major concern. As ANONYMOUS have reported, the deal allegedly threatens to allow corporations to sue governments who do not comply with their wishes, compromise online privacy, make fracking a standard procedure across 28 countries, privatize European health systems, force GMO food on unwilling citizens, strip us of our civil liberties, and ensure that corporations have control over the European Parliament.

Julian Assange called TTIP “The most important thing happening in Europe right now,” which is why Wikileaks is raising a 100,000 euro reward for any information relating to the deal. The site says of TTIP:

“It remains secret almost in its entirety, closely guarded by the negotiators, and only big corporations are given special access to its terms. The TTIP covers half of global GDP and is one of the largest agreements of its kind in history. The TTIP aims to create a global economic bloc outside of the WTO framework, as part of a geopolitical economic strategy against the BRICS countries of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.”

Considering the impact all three of these trade deals will allegedly have on democracy, human rights, food safety and the environment, public awareness should be widespread. (ANONYMOUS)

Some more information on the subject:

Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) | OFSE

Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) | OFFICE OF THE US TRADE REPRESENTATIVE

What is the TTIP? | USECONOMY

Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership | WIKIPEDIA

What is TTIP, and How Does it Affect Us? | GUARDIAN

The TTIP of the Spear | ECONOMIST






Are These 2 Reasons to Reform Islam Convincing Enough? | Ayaan Hirsi Ali Speaks

AYAAN - FEB28 - Author Ayaan Hirsi Ali talks about her autobiography. tb (Photo by Tony Bock/Toronto Star via Getty Images) By: Tony Bock Collection: Toronto Star

AYAAN – FEB28 – Author Ayaan Hirsi Ali talks about her autobiography. tb (Photo by Tony Bock/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
By: Tony Bock
Collection: Toronto Star

[Author and activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali says she doesn’t buy into worries about Islamophobia in the United States. Ali doesn’t think it’s as big a problem as it’s often laid out, and that the treatment of Muslims in America far surpasses the treatment of Christians, women, Jews, et al. in traditionally Muslim countries. Furthermore, she subscribes to a theory that manipulative interest groups encourage Muslims in America to feel victimized.]  Read and watch the full opinion piece here | BIG THINK

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a Dutch-American feminist filmmaker and political writer. She is author of several books, the latest of which is Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now. She is also founder of the AHA Foundation, a former fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a former member of the Dutch parliament.

Ali is a vocal critic of Islam whose writings often focus on the religion’s subjugation of women. Her work is controversial and has resulted in numerous death threats. In 2004 Ayaan gained international attention following the murder of Theo van Gogh. Van Gogh had directed her short film Submission, a film about the oppression of women under Islam. The assassin left a death threat for her pinned to Van Gogh’s chest. This tragic event, and Ayaan’s life leading up to it, are all chronicled in her best-selling book, Infidel.


Author, Journalist and Activist Asra Nomani Talks to Bill Maher about Extremism

Let’s Listen to Bill Maher: On Paris, religion and race, Maher walks a fascinating and tricky line | SALON

Ayn Rand on Racism, Slavery and Native Americans | Speech and Q&A at West Point’s Graduating Class of 1974


Racism, Slavery

To begin with, there is much more to America than the issue of racism. I do not believe that the issue of racism, or even the persecution of a particular race, is as important as the persecution of individuals, because when you deprive individuals of rights, if you deprive any small group, all individuals lose their rights. Therefore, look at this fundamentally: If you are concerned with minorities, the smallest minority on Earth is an individual. If you do not respect individual rights, you will sacrifice or persecute all minorities, and then you get the same treatment given to a majority, which you can observe today in Soviet Russia.

But if you ask me well, now, should America have tolerated slavery? I would say certainly not. And why did they? Well, at the time of the Constitutional Convention, or the debates about the Constitution, the best theoreticians at the time wanted to abolish slavery right then and there—and they should have. The fact is that they compromised with other members of the debate and their compromise has caused this country a dreadful catastrophe which had to happen, and that is the Civil War. You could not have slavery existing in a country which proclaims the inalienable rights of Man. If you believe in the rights and the institution of slavery, it’s an enormous contradiction. It is to the honor of this country, which the haters of America never mention, that people died giving their lives in order to abolish slavery. There was that much strong philosophical feeling about it.

Certainly slavery was a contradiction. But before you criticize this country, remember that that is a remnant of the politics and the philosophies of Europe and of the rest of the world. The black slaves were sold into slavery, in many cases, by other black tribes. Slavery is something which only the United States of America abolished. Historically, there was no such concept as the right of the individual. The United States is based on that concept. So that so as long as men held to the American political philosophy, they had to come to the point, even of a civil war, but of eliminating the contradiction with which they could not live—namely, the institution of slavery.

Incidentally, if you study history following America’s example, slavery or serfdom was abolished in the whole civilized world during the 19th century. What abolished it? Not altruism. Not any kind of collectivism. Capitalism. The world of free trade could not coexist with slave labor. And countries like Russia, which was the most backward and had serfs liberated them, without any pressure from anyone, by economic necessity. Nobody could compete with America economically so long as they attempted to use slave labor. Now that was the liberating influence of America.

That’s in regard to the slavery of Black people. But as to the example of the Japanese people—you mean the labor camps in California? Well, that was certainly not put over by any sort of defender of capitalism or Americanism. That was done by the left-wing progressive liberal Democrats of Franklin D. Roosevelt. 

[Massive applause follows, along with a minute in which the moderator asks Ayn Rand to respond to the point about the genocide of Native Americans. She continues.] 

If you study reliable history, and not liberal, racist newspapers, racism didn’t exist in this country until the liberals brought it up—racism in the sense of self-consciousness and separation about races. Yes, slavery existed as a very evil institution, and there certainly was prejudice against some minorities, including the Negroes after they were liberated. But those prejudices were dying out under the pressure of free economics, because racism, in the prejudicial sense, doesn’t pay. Then, if anyone wants to be a racist, he suffers, the workings of the system is against him. 

Today, it is to everyone’s advantage to form some kind of ethnic collective. The people who share your viewpoint or from whose philosophy those catchphrases come, are the ones who are institutionalizing racism today. What about the quotas in employment? The quotas in education? And I hope to God—so I am not religious, but just to express my feeling—that the Supreme Court will rule against those quotas. But if you can understand the vicious contradiction and injustice of a state establishing racism by law. Whether it’s in favor of a minority or a majority doesn’t matter. It’s more offensive when it’s in the name of a minority because it can only be done in order to disarm and destroy the majority and the whole country. It can only create more racist divisions, and backlashes, and racist feelings. 

If you are opposed to racism, you should support individualism. You cannot oppose racism on one hand and want collectivism on the other.


Native Americans

But now, as to the Indians, I don’t even care to discuss that kind of alleged complaints that they have against this country. I do believe with serious, scientific reasons the worst kind of movie that you have probably seen—worst from the Indian viewpoint—as to what they did to the white man.

I do not think that they have any right to live in a country merely because they were born here and acted and lived like savages. Americans didn’t conquer; Americans did not conquer that country.

Whoever is making sounds there, I think is hissing, he is right, but please be consistent: you are a racist if you object to that [laughter and applause]. You are that because you believe that anything can be given to Man by his biological birth or for biological reasons.

If you are born in a magnificent country which you don’t know what to do with, you believe that it is a property right; it is not. And, since the Indians did not have any property rights—they didn’t have the concept of property; they didn’t even have a settled, society, they were predominantly nomadic tribes; they were a primitive tribal culture, if you want to call it that—if so, they didn’t have any rights to the land, and there was no reason for anyone to grant them rights which they had not conceived and were not using.

It would be wrong to attack any country which does respect—or try, for that matter, to respect—individual rights, because if they do, you are an aggressor and you are morally wrong to attack them. But if a country does not protect rights—if a given tribe is the slave of its own tribal chief—why should you respect the rights they do not have?

Or any country which has a dictatorship. Government—the citizens still have individual rights—but the country does not have any rights. Anyone has the right to invade it, because rights are not recognized in this country and neither you nor a country nor anyone can have your cake and eat it too.

In other words, want respect for the rights of Indians, who, incidentally, for most cases of their tribal history, made agreements with the white man, and then when they had used up whichever they got through agreement of giving, selling certain territory, then came back and broke the agreement, and attacked white settlements.

I will go further. Let’s suppose they were all beautifully innocent savages, which they certainly were not. What was it that they were fighting for, if they opposed white men on this continent? For their wish to continue a primitive existence, their right to keep part of the earth untouched, unused, and not even as property, but just keep everybody out so that you will live practically like an animal, or maybe a few caves about.

Any white person who brings the elements of civilization had the right to take over this continent, and it is great that some people did, and discovered here what they couldn’t do anywhere else in the world and what the Indians, if there are any racist Indians today, do not believe to this day: respect for individual rights.

I am, incidentally, in favor of Israel against the Arabs for the very same reason. There you have the same issue in reverse. Israel is not a good country politically; it’s a mixed economy, leaning strongly to socialism. But why do the Arabs resent it? Because it is a wedge of civilization—an industrial wedge—in part of a continent which is totally primitive and nomadic.

Israel is being attacked for being civilized, and being specifically a technological society. It’s for that very reason that they should be supported—that they are morally right because they represent the progress of Man’s mind, just as the white settlers of America represented the progress of the mind, not centuries of brute stagnation and superstition. They represented the banner of the mind and they were in the right.

[thunderous applause]


[The book Ayn Rand Answers: The Best of Her Q & A includes Rand’s Manifest Destiny-esque defense of settler colonialism among some of the “best of her” public statements. Ayn Rand Answers was edited by philosophy professor Robert Mayhew, whom the Ayn Rand Institute describes as an “Objectivist scholar,” referring to the libertarian ideology created by Rand. ARI lists Prof. Mayhew as one of its Ayn Rand experts, and notes that he serves on the board of the Anthem Foundation for Objectivist Scholarship. The transcript included in Prof. Mayhew’s collection is full of errors, however, and reorders her remarks.

A recording of the West Point commencement address was available for free on the ARI website as early as April 2009. Up until around October 18, 2013, separate recordings of the speech and Q&A were still freely accessible. By October 22, nonetheless, ARI had removed the recordings from its website and put them up for sale.

Some copies of the 1974 recording have circulated the Internet, but in order to verify the quotes and authenticate the transcript, I ordered an official MP3 recording of the event from the Ayn Rand Institute eStore. (After all, I was working on a piece involving Ayn Rand, so I figured it was only natural that I had to buy something.) The quotes in this piece are directly transcribed from the official recording of Rand’s West Point speech and Q&A.]    Read the full article here | ALTERNET
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