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Jena: the next step
Yesterday's demonstration in Jena was a great success on many fronts, but still has two important goals to achieve.
‘Jena Is America’
In the alleyway between de jure and de facto, Jim Crow conceived a son. Even though the deed took place in broad daylight, everybody tried not to notice, and in time some would even try to pretend it hadn’t happened. For most of his long life, Jim Crow Sr. had been a powerful and respected man. His word was law, his laws were obeyed and those who transgressed were punished without mercy. But in his dotage these crude and brutal ways became a liability. Finally, and after some protest, he was banished. Some claimed he had died. But nobody found the body.
Apart from the noose, this is an everyday story of modern America
It was here that Kenneth Purvis asked the headmaster at Jena high school if he could sit under the "white tree" - the tree in the school courtyard where the white children used to hang out during break. The principal said he could sit where he liked. Purvis took him at his word. The next day he went with his cousin Bryant and stood under the tree. The day after that white students hung three nooses there.


Malcolm X
Scaring White America
Playboy's timing couldn't have been better. In this interview in May 1963 it caught Malcolm X at the pinnacle of his most combative black nationalist phase and America in the grip of racial turmoil. Within a year Malcolm X had repudiated almost every stance in the interview. He had broken with the Nation of Islam movement, fallen out with its leader Elijah Muhammad, renounced black supremacy and embraced racial equality, human rights and pan-African solidarity. Within two years he would be assassinated in Harlem's Audubon Ballroom.
Shock effects
There is the general and there is the specific. The general, overarching thrust of Naomi Klein's latest book, The Shock Doctrine is a brilliant exploration and expose of the manner in which free market capitalism exploits crises - whether they come in the form of tsunamis, wars or hurricanes - to accelerate its agenda and overwhelm its opponents.
In the US, class war still means just one thing: the rich attacking the poor
Last week it was the turn of the Idaho senator Larry Craig, who in June was caught propositioning an undercover officer in the toilets of Minneapolis airport. Two months later he pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct without consulting his lawyer. Then Craig, who finally resigned over the weekend, claimed that he framed himself. "I was trying to handle this matter myself quickly and expeditiously," he explained. "In hindsight, I should not have pled guilty." If he's telling the truth now he's a perjurer; if he was telling the truth then, he's a gay man who legislates against gay people.
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Stranger in a Strange Land – Encounters in the Disunited States
book review
'It often takes an outsider to look inside. This is especially true of the United States.'
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