3 Obits, 1 Column

As great as I want to become or as great as I think I am, I can always go to the edge of the ocean, stand there and realize I am nothing in comparison with the universe. — Craig muMs Grant


I often criticize the New York Times for participating in—leading—the mainstream media’s conspiracy of silence regarding Executive Branch nonsense explanations surrounding the attacks of September 2001. Yet nearly every day exemplary reportage is to be found in its pages. Take today.

Why Not Say What Happened’: That is the title of the last book of the literary critic and cultural historian Morris Dickstein, who died at 81 last Tuesday. Its subtitle is “A Sentimental Education.” Nine-eleven “truthers” such as this blogger immediately think the book just might be about that thing, even by someone as well educated as Dickstein was. His obituary did not indicate that to be the case. But the title of the 2015 book just might be a sly dig at the MSM of this century concerning the crime of it (so far). His Times obituary will send readers looking for a book or two of his or of authors whose works he considered. 

Bamboozled’: That is the title of the 2000 Spike Lee movie that included Craig muMs Grant in its cast. Bamboozled also describes what most of the world was in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and in declining percentages over the years still is. (Although there is no way Lee could have known this.) The actor and playwright muMs died last Wednesday at age 52, reportedly from complications of diabetes. “Strange Fruit” is what he titled his “2003 … spoken-word album … from [the title of] the song about lynchings famously recorded by Billie Holiday in 1939,” the Times reported. HERE is a video of her singing it. muMs’s preferred name stands for “manipulator under Manipulation shhhhhhh!”

“Today,” he told the Baltimore Sun in 2003, “strange fruit means we’re the product of everything Black people have been through in this country — Middle Passage, Jim Crow, segregation. It’s a new way of looking at it. The metaphor of strange fruit means life and birth for me, where it used to mean lynching and death. Blacks have been doing that for years, taking the bad and flipping it, making the best of a bad situation.”

I Feel Victimized’: That is what the lawyer Bretton Sciaroni said in the 1980s of being exposed for “a legal opinion [he] had drawn up as a 35-year-old lawyer in Washington justifying a behind-the-scenes deal in which profits from arms sales to Iran were used to fund the Nicaraguan rebels known as the contras, despite a law severely limiting such assistance,” the Times reported. Sciaroni reportedly died this month at his home in Cambodia, where one of his legal opinions in a more than 30-year career there served to justify Prime Minister Hun Sen’s “seizure of full power in a violent 1997 coup,” the Times reported.

And . . .

My 18 Years in Solitary Confinement’: That’s the headline over the top op-ed column in today’s Times, by guest columnist Ian Manuel. He entered the Florida prison system at age 15 in 1992. He had shot a woman when he was 13 during a robbery in which he was coached by older teenagers. She survived. Manuel, who is black, was charged as an adult. Advised by his court-appointed lawyer to plead guilty, Manuel was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment without parole. This highly effective piece of writing on solitary confinement is a taste of what to expect in his forthcoming memoir, My Time Will Come.

It made this blogger think of a prisoner in the Guantanamo Bay detention camp since 2007, the Pakistani citizen Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, currently 55, who is termed “the principal architect of the 9/11 attacks” in the 9/11 Commission Report. Presumably much of the time of this al-Qaeda member’s detention there has been spent in solitary confinement; the form of torture called waterboarding has been used in interrogations of Sheikh Mohammed and others. In 2010 the Guantánamo Review Task Force recommended him for prosecution of war crimes. One wonders when his trial will begin, or began, and how much of it will become known to the public.

— Mark Channing Miller



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