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.
A public high school in Muldrow, Oklahoma, recently decided to remove plaques of the Ten Commandments from its classrooms  after an atheist student urged the Freedom From Religion Foundation to threaten a lawsuit.  The removal of the Decalogue displays offended numerous community members, thereby evoking a prior controversy regarding a Ten Commandments monument placed in the Alabama Supreme Court building by its Chief Justice, Roy Moore, who claims that the Ten Commandments are the foundation of American law. A federal court predictably found the monument unconstitutional. Another legal dispute will soon lead the Supreme Court to decide whether it is constitutional to conduct Christian prayers at an official town meeting. 
In the recurrent clash over the separation of church and state, both the religious right and the secular left invoke the Founding Fathers' original intent to justify their positions. Simply put, the religious right believes that America was intended to be a Christian country, whereas the secular left believes it was intended to be a secular one. In reality, neither side is completely correct on the historical dimension of the issue.
A week ago, many of you thought Detroit needed an emergency manager. You said, on Twitter and at dinner, that it was "about time someone fixed Detroit."
You haven't noticed the school closings nor have you bothered to read anything about the failing state district Educational Achievement Authority, other than last year's full-page advertisements. You can't wait to shop at the new Meijer on what used to be public property.
Then Kevyn Orr said he might sell off some works of art from the DIA's collection. Oh, the humanities! Not our art, you decry!
Wait a second: Your school wasn't closed. Your fairground wasn't sold. Your street lights didn't get shut off. Your police force wasn't downsized. Your democratic process wasn't eliminated. How, then, can this be your art?
Did Bradley Manning "aid the enemy", as the prosecution contests? Or is possible that the enemy is an American Empire blinded by power, greed and its own bloated sense of Exceptionalism?
I grew up in Orlando. In middle school, visiting Disney was considered a "field trip," much to the chagrin of my former central Illinois classmates. When you live only 40 minutes from most people's summer tourist destination, it's easy to get burned out on Disney – and amusement parks in general – very quickly, even with the Florida resident discounted ticket price.
If you go to Disney one time too many, you start noticing little things here and there that the average tourist doesn't pick up. Add that extra scrutiny to the politics of a labor and anti-war activist turned loose in the "Happiest Place on Earth," and you end up with an over-politicized critical analysis of Walt Disney World. Call it, "the Political Economy of Mickey Mouse."
Years ago, an elder told me that the Indigenous cultures of Abya Yala, CemAnahuac or Pachamama – the ancient cultures of this continent – do not need to be revived, because they never died. Instead, the elder said, it is we who have been severed or disconnected from those cultures.
The culture, the languages, the songs and the stories are all there – rather than revive them, we just need to access them. And equally important, we also need to create and contribute to our own cultures.
I think about that now because of two monumental educational struggles taking place in Arizona and California, both of which have been instrumental in reconnecting our communities to ancestral and living Indigenous knowledges. In both cases, the schools and programs in question continue to be under daily siege. In Tucson, the highly successful Raza Studies program has been dismantled whereas in Los Angeles, the charter for Anahuacalmecac is on the verge of being revoked.
My name is Senior Airman, e-4 Heather Linebaugh. I joined the United States Air Force on January 6th 2009, under the impression I was going to be an Imagery Analyst. I was told by my recruiter I had a "badass job option" because I tested well on the ASVAB".
From then until 2012 I served as a Geo-spatial Intelligence Analyst for the drone program at Beale Air Force Base, California, where I witnessed daily the horrors that were released to the world by Bradley Manning. I experienced the lack of humanity of the Occupation first hand. I witnessed the disregard for human life, the dehumanizing of the culture of Afghans and Iraqi's, the moral confusion of a war where the poor fight the poor and their leaders give orders for bombings and killings with little-to-no justification. With no say in the matter, the enlisted are forced to carry out these orders, lest they be punished.
My trade union is part of a platform together with professional associations and neighborhood organizations. This platform protests the construction work in Taksim that will demolish the park there. Therefore, I was following the related campaigns on Taksim Square.
When I heard that bulldozers came and the trees in the park were cut, I ran to the park. Instead of shutting down the illegal construction – the court revoked the construction project - the police used tear gas against people who want to save the trees.
The exponentially intensifying causes of the social, political, and ecological crises faced by peoples across the globe are becoming increasingly obvious; the wellbeing of all life on planet earth depends upon the eradication of market-driven social structures that bolster the few at the expense of the many. The image of ourselves as separate – from one another, from nature, and from the havoc being wreaked – has reinforced the disastrously misguided impression that competition (as opposed to collaboration) and the quest for material wealth (as opposed to the cultivation of caring relationships) are not only prerequisites for fulfillment, but inevitable factors in the course of "evolution."
Before I head out the door, I watch Morning Joe on MSNBC. It's part of my workday routine. This morning they were talking about the latest issue of the New Republic and its lead story entitled, "How the NRA is Going Down: This is How the NRA Ends." Since the Newtown tragedy, Republican Joe Scarborough, the show's host, is openly advocating for gun control. Still, Joe disagreed with the assertion that the NRA's power and influence is eroding, especially in the wake of recently defeated gun control legislation.
In the midst of this exchange, John Heilemann, an author, journalist and political analyst who frequents Morning Joe (and who occasionally says things that make sense to me), said, "But who's the SCALP?" John paraphrased this statement by saying, "who's gonna pay the price for having voted the wrong way?"
In 2011 around the world, the silence was broken. From Tunisia to Cairo, from Rome to Madrid, those who had been voiceless began to speak. In the beginning of the global uprising was the word. Acts of refusal and resistance were their language. As people took to the streets and squares, waves of awakening crossed the Atlantic, becoming a verb that was unstoppable.
"We Occupy!" At the epicenter of economic corruption and injustice, victims of the foreclosed American Dream began to fight back against the corporate powers that had stolen their dignity and future. The American Dialect Society named "Occupy" the word of the year for 2011. It had become a part of everyday language. Occupy was the movement infused by action rather than empty slogans.