SpeakOut is Truthout's treasure chest for bloggy, quirky, personally reflective, or especially activism-focused pieces. SpeakOut articles represent the perspectives of their authors, and not those of Truthout.

Some images move us, or at least should move us, to sudden insight into the consequences of our actions. Images of innocent victims of violence, particularly children, should have the capacity to penetrate the most hardened defenses and touch our hearts. However, the truth is that this does not always occur. Skewed information environments, operating over time, may condition us to react with compassion only to images depicting the suffering of our own community. When many of us see the anguish we have caused an "enemy," we feel not compassion or regret but annoyance. The reaction is: "Why are you showing me that? Don't you know it is their (the other's) own behavior that made us hurt them? It is their own fault." That we react this way to the horrors we are capable of causing is a sure sign that those same actions have dehumanized us.

Mar 04

Journey for Justice Testimonies: Kansas City and Chicago

By Jamekia Kendrix and Rico Gutstein , SpeakOut | Op-Ed

I am a parent of a third grader and volunteer parent organizer for Kansas City Public Schools, an unaccredited school district.

As an organizer, I serve on the District Advisory Committee, chair the Parent Advocacy Task Force and work with other parent leaders to research local education issues, provide unbiased information to parents and community members, gather parent and community feedback, and use research and feedback to advocate at the school, district and state levels. In 2009 and 2010, as we closed 28 of our 61 schools, much of my work focused on school closings.

Like many urban school districts facing school closures, Kansas City has been struggling to maintain enrollment since the 1960's when the district served more than 70,000 students. By 1980 enrollment dropped to 35,000. In 2010, with an enrollment of 17,000, many of our schools were operating at less than 40% capacity.

Mar 04

Drone Strike Justice

By William B Daniels, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

The individual focus of President Obama's assassination drone strikes suggests that the United States has an alternative criminal justice procedure for al-Qaida terrorists. Unlike one-on-one assassination, drone strikes eliminate more than the target. They inflict collateral damage killing innocent civilians and traumatizing drone operators. Should we accept this alternative criminal justice procedure that in one instant captures, tries, convicts, and executes a suspected terrorist?

Recently The New York Times news analyst Peter Barker wrote that it was President Obama's turn to be criticized for his counter-terrorism excesses and for striking the wrong balance between civil liberties and national security. "Particularly stark has been the secret memo authorizing targeted killing of American citizens deemed terrorists under certain circumstances without judicial review..."

Mar 04

Once Upon a Foggy Bottom

By DH Garrett, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

My seven years as a junior Foreign Service Officer with the Department of State left me with a profound admiration for the ability of the Department to ignore reality at the behest of its political, military, economic - and in particular - immediate superior in the career pecking order - overlords. This ability to manufacture whole-cloth cover for manifest stupidity truly is a thing of rare beauty that serves our nation well. As the new Secretary of State recently put it, "Americans have a right to be stupid," and so does the nation as a whole in some of its policies, and the Department of State must of course loyally find a way of presenting the various 'shit accompli' in socially presentable ways. It is, alas, some of what they have to do.

The American labor movement is once again facing a most controversial issue — the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. While the KXL debate has largely centered around the environmental risks, from labor's perspective opening up the Canadian Tar Sands is often seen as an economic, not an environmental, issue. And it's no wonder: Construction unemployment is double the national average and, from a worker's perspective, Keystone jobs will be good-paying union jobs in an economy that increasingly offers up only minimum-wage service work.

As AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka explained last year, "mass unemployment makes everything harder and feeds fear. . . opponents of the pipeline [need to] recognize that construction jobs are real jobs, good jobs." KXL advocates have worked hard to capitalize on this fear by arguing that labor must choose between creating jobs and protecting the planet.

If being armed made you safe, no law enforcement officer would ever get killed. President Reagan would not have been shot and Chris Kyle, arguably the best shot in America, would have not been killed.

Rather than a High Noon, duel like scenario in which the armed opponent approaches from two blocks away, the violence that befalls law enforcement officers and befell Kyle and President Reagan is unexpected and cannot be defended against.

Mar 01

Middle-Out Economics 101

By Heather Boushey, Center for American Progress | Video

For more on CAP’s Middle-Out Economics project, please visit its project page.

CAP Senior Economist Heather Boushey explains how middle-out economics helps bolster the U.S. economy.

Mar 01

Time for Outrage!

By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers, Occupy Washington DC | Op-Ed

“Ninety-three years old. The last leg of my journey. The end is in sight. I am lucky to be able to seize the time I have left to reflect on my lifelong commitment to politics: the Resistance and the program designed sixty-six years ago by the National Council of the Resistance.” 

These are the opening lines from “A Time for Outrage!”(“Indignez-vous!”) a 35 page book written by Stephane Hessel in 2010 which sold 3 million copies in 30 languages and inspired protests like “Occupy” in the United States and The Indignados in Spain. Hassel died this week at the age of 95. 
Each week we see reasons for outrage and, thankfully, more and more people are joining the culture of resistance. 

Jim Crow is alive and well — and he has mounted a new attack on the law Martin Luther King dreamed of: the Voting Rights Act.

On February 27, the Supreme Court will hear a suit brought by Shelby County, Alabama, which challenges the right of the Department of Justice to review changes in voting procedure. Example: Attempts to cut the number of early voting days, to expunge "illegal alien" voters without any evidence, refusing Spanish-language ballots, have been blocked by the Department of Justice and Courts because they have stopped Black and Hispanic citizens casting ballots.

In 2011, a Democratic Congressional Investigating Committee determined that 14 leading oil companies used 2500 different toxic fracking liquids. The liquids contained 750 different chemicals, including 270 undisclosed ingredients protected by industry trade secret laws which the oil and gas service companies themselves were unable to identify. Prior to the onset of fracking, and in total disregard of a vast literature of previous work on water ingress, retention and release in deep geological formations, oil and gas industry scientists and environmental officials argued that deep layers of rock beneath the earth would safely entomb the liquid waste for millennia. They were dead wrong and should have known it.