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OpEdNews Op Eds    H1'ed 1/29/10

The People's State of the Union

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In honor of the people's teacher, Howard Zinn.

Activists, advocates for social justice, defenders of freedom, and people of the United States:

Every now and then it is appropriate for the people to take a look at themselves and assess their situation; to note the suffering and injustice in their communities and to consider the power they hold as individuals to speak out and act in a struggle for a world more conducive to humanity.

The people of this country have examples they can look at to see that it is times when people stood up and struggled with power that change was effected. Like when John Woolman refused to pay taxes to support the British and spoke up against slavery years before the Revolutionary War, like when Dalton Trumbo wrote "Johnny Got His Gun" and presented a stirring representation of the brutal effects of war on humans who participate in it, like when Ella Baker counseled, supported, and guided young black people in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the militant edge of the civil rights movement in the Deep South that contributed greatly to the fight against racism in America.

One year ago, Obama came to office. Troops were being deployed for third and fourth tours of duty in wars of choice in the Middle East, corporations were manipulating science to further profit at the expense of Mother Earth, many immigrants were falling victim to ICE raids and suffering from an erosion of civil liberties, detainees were being tortured and abused at places like Guantanamo or Baghram Air Force Base, "pay or die" health care was killing around 18,000 Americans a year, No Child Left Behind was opening schools to privatization, free trade agreements like NAFTA were destroying the lives of working class people all over the world, and corporate crime especially casino capitalism on Wall Street had spurred a major recession that was earning comparisons to the Great Depression America experienced in the 1930s.

Many of these problems still exist. The Afghanistan War has been expanded with at least 30,000 troops being sent to escalate a war in a country widely believed to be the graveyard for empires. Guantanamo prisons have not been closed despite a pledge to close the prisons at Guantanamo and instead, policies of rendition have continued and, worse, policies of indefinite and preventive detention have gained popularity. Lack of health care still kills as many Americans if not more and, worse, as Congress is slow to enact "reform" of health insurance private insurance companies prepare for regulations and drop those who have pre-existing conditions they do not want to be forced to cover.

The people of this nation responded overwhelmingly to Barack Obama's presidential candidacy. Record numbers clamored for a chance to see the first black president inaugurated. Unfortunately, many people have found the hope hasn't lived up to the hype.

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Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure." He was an editor for OpEdNews.com
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