#Justise4All No. 3


⟦On the Pro-Life initiative⟧

If you are someone who supports the defunding or closing of Planned Parenthood, you are not Pro-Life, simply because you inadvertently support the violent terrorist actions taken against Planned Parenthood facilities and Pro-Choice medical professionals. Social media activists and Pro-Choice advocates have been compiling over 40 years of violence, vandalism, petit crime, bombings, and homicides associated with so-called Pro-life supporters. You can read some of them: Click Here. The bottom line is this: Unless you yourself are taking measures to stop these acts of domestic terrorism on American soil, all you are doing is posturing your demonizing view on reproductive rights, allowing for these criminals to literally get away with murder. While my views on this particular issue are mixed, I will never stand with public hypocrites or moral bigots who choose to use their respectability politics to stifle the rights of any human being and permit the most extreme believers of their agenda to carry out such heinous and unconscionable crimes against humanity. Finally, as I've always said, if you identify as a so-called "Pro-Lifer," but support American warfare, nevermind being a hypocrite. You're just a liar.

⟦On Patriotism⟧

With the series of events that have taken place over the last several years involving social justice, law enforcement reform, international military campaigns, and systemic discrimination, it has become clear that those who do not agree with my convictions have chosen to see me as Un-American, indeed, unpatriotic. They choose to believe that my views and expressive manner in which I rail against the problems of the world have now rendered me some sort of dissident, hellbent on destroying the very fabric of this country’s identity. They have chosen to see me as [what some would call] a traitor, a rebel, a radical.

While some of that may be true (wink), most of it is not.

I have said before, and still believe, that this nation does have the opportunity to truly live up to the standards it has set through its legislature and some of its history. But that is the optimist in my optimistic realism. Reality insists that the future is far more bleak with far less options for salvaging what a basic socioeconomic overview of the US indicates is a collision course with a full implosion of its infrastructure, marked by violence, homegrown terrorism, and a vast dissolution of the ties that have bound the Union up for nearly two-and-a-half-centuries since the signing of the Declaration of Independence. If there is any hope to deter us from this path, it is in understanding that loving one’s country is about cultivating that love through hard work, a commitment to blind justice, and reparative task-based solutions to address the ongoing plight of its most marginalized, oppressed peoples. The love that folks I know who do not see my perspective speak of is not love, but blind, dangerous Patriotism.

It’s the kind of reckless, nationalistic zeal that has led many of our countrymen to place their hope in a crony capitalist bigot whose interests in becoming the next Commander-In-Chief are about as laughable as they are destructive. The kind of unexamined, sycophantic devotion to a sovereign nation that history proves has borne untold misery against its own people. It is the type of ignorant expectancy that allows the insanity of believing we can make major changes to our insidious systems of governance & justice by repeating the problematic routines that have brought us to this precipice in the first place.

This is Patriotism at its worst, and, without reservation, most harmful.

In my mind, a true Patriot, one who truly wants the best for his country, is not afraid to call out when it has done wrong by its citizens. A Patriot understands that it is the people, and not the products, of any country that allow it to survive and thrive. A true Patriot realizes that in order to manifest a place of origin that exercises noble standards like full, unhindered human rights for his fellow man, he must, as Baldwin notes, “insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.” What’s more, a Patriot must be ready, willing, and able to put in the actual work that goes along with that critique, because while words are world-changing, they simply aren’t enough.

It must be understood by anyone who wishes to critique me on these topics that in addition to being able to hold intelligent debate with citable sources for your perspective, I am stressing very much the aspect of how people are the backbone of this movement. We have invested uncountable amounts of time, money, and sacrifice to uphold fleeting concepts like national ideals, systems, and positions of power. This is the very reason why we aren’t solving the problems I speak of so strongly. We aren’t focusing on the fact that said systems & ideals are bereft of compassion or empathy for the human experience, hence the highly volatile state in which these United States find themselves.

We have to realize that were this whole structure to collapse tomorrow in some catastrophic turn of events, no law, no title, and no concept would help with the immediate reaction or rebuilding. It would have to be the people who would decide how to move forward.

In this spirit, I challenge anyone who challenges me on my opinions to step outside of their comfort zone and ask themselves why I feel so strongly, and what it would mean for themselves and the people around them if, instead of shutting down a defensible argument, allowing the possibility that there is merit to that argument through a more comprehensive, compassionate assessment of some of the worst of what our country has to offer. I challenge all of us to see the people we have been told to hate through a lens of objectivity, instead of the filter of patriotic phobias. It is, quite literally, the only way we can find methods by which to pull ourselves out of this complex set of problems and create long-term answers.

We have run out of time to keep believing that American Patriotism, as we have been taught to understand it, is going to save America. It was never meant to be saved in such a way, since its success hinges on the violent, exploitative subjugation of others. True American patriotism must be cultivated by seeing everyone for what they are: humans, who are capable of doing both wonderful & terrible things. If we count out those who our zealous preconceptions suggest are not human, or less worthy of our compassion, we will be left with nothing. Then, and only then, will the most stubborn and hateful amongst us see that when all else fails, the worst kind of excuses for that failure are the ones coming from the mind of fanatics who have placed their false hopes in a false concept of Patriotism.


#Justise4All No. 2

[This e-mail was sent on August, 11, 2015, in response to the "Peek-a-Boo, We See You!" initiative ushered in by the NY Sergeant's Benevolent Association, a tactical political answer to the outcry for more accountability on the part of the NYPD and its Unions as it serves the people of New York City.]

cc: Ed Mullins

To Whom It May Concern:

As a resident New Yorker for the majority of my life, and the adopted son of a working class Irish-American family which includes several proud active & retired members of the FDNY, NYPD, and DOE, I am writing to express my extreme disgust and exasperation at the recently reported "Peek-A-Boo" photo initiative put forth by President Ed Mullins.

For as long as the City of New York has existed as one of the most prominent economic and social centers of this country, the problems associated with poverty - homelessness, drug addiction, alcoholism, petty crime - have been a regular component of its growth. Without digressing, it should be understood that so long as such a metropolis engages itself in the Capitalist expansion of its prosperity, one can only expect that poverty and its social ills will persist, regardless of how much assistance it provides to the poor. That said, we who wish to advocate and help those who are clear victims of poverty & class discrimination are at a complete loss as to what purpose is served by having off-duty officers, their friends/family, and members of the public be complicit in the citywide request by your organization to take pictures of a problem that is as old as modern civilization itself.

Keeping in mind the many upstanding NYPD members I know, it is my understanding that the work they do to combat homelessness, going above & beyond the call of duty to help the poor & disenfranchised on a regular basis, is neither hindered nor helped by this public request. Conversely, the fact that usage of quality of life offenses to assist in the kind of broken windows policing that has long been a pervasive issue between officers and civilians in NYC could be seen as a detriment to public outreach is something that organizations such as yours seemingly refuse to address or rectify. Yet, you have now decided that in addition to penalizing and incarcerating the destitute for circumstances that are clearly beyond their immediate control, having "allies" to your cause take photos of their plight is somehow going to raise awareness and magically shift the paradigm of a public which continually proves that it is all too complicit in ignoring the oppressed poor. I have never, not once, had a conversation with a cop in this city who themselves didn't want to use their authority to do more to help rectify these problems, but arguably agreed that the politics behind that notion prohibited them from doing so.

The kind of politics that your organization has now brought to the forefront of this narrative with this unconscionably disingenuous initiative.

At present, I am loosely affiliated with GEMS, an NYS outreach organization "designed to serve girls and young women who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking." Alongside the brave work they have done on their own for nearly 15 years, GEMS is proud to have had major affiliations with high-ranking NYPD Officers, cultivating important relationships within the Department to achieve the expressed goal of removing the stigmatization that is oftentimes associated with young girls involved in commercial sex exploitation. If we are to follow the logic behind the "Peek-A-Boo" proposal, by asking the public to now be vigilant in gathering footage of the homeless and the QOL offenses they represent, you are opening a window into further exploiting, through this kind of footage, the very real dangers faced by young girls (many of whom are also without homes) involved in commercial sex exploitation, since the work that GEMS does for them is usually predicated upon the confidentiality & identity protection of those girls while they undergo the process of reintegrating themselves into society as healthy & productive citizens.

By asserting your political influence into the "Peek-A-Boo" initiative, you are, quite literally, poised to reverse the noble efforts being carried out by countless individuals, groups, organizations, and social projects aimed at helping victims of poverty & homelessness, whose very mission is to be an agent of change without further victimizing their circumstance.

While I understand that I am highlighting the worst possible scenario with President Mullins' request, it does not change the fact that, at the least, this notion is the height of politically motivated futility. And while it is fairly obvious that relations between your organization and the Mayor's Office remain tersely unsettled, this display of institutional bravado seems wholly out of sync with a Union that not six months ago was able to negotiate a contract with said office for its members.

It's not my place to speak on behalf of anyone, but I don't think I would be overstepping my boundaries in saying that when it comes to the disenfranchised members of New York City, many residents would like to see an improvement to their desperate conditions. I don't think that many New Yorkers, officers or civilians, actually enjoy the ongoing problem of homelessness & poverty in their hometown. But, speaking for myself, I truly fail to see how this recent concept does any real good in fighting these conditions. For a department which is seen by many as one of the best in the country, this is a sore mark against a reputation that, despite the aforementioned scrutiny, is still held in high regard by the majority.

I will close this letter by saying that if the Sergeant's Benevolent Association wishes to be an honest ally in the fight against homelessness and poverty, it should continue to reach out to the people and groups who are also involved in that work. A collaborative, determined effort from all walks of life to uplift and advocate for the poor is the only way we can truly overcome its destructive effects. Divisive surface measures like "Peek-A-Boo" cannot do this. As a concerned citizen, I highly advise that President Mullins rethink his strategy in trying to properly represent his law enforcement constituency and assist those in need. Doing the right thing for the poor doesn't require photo footage; it requires critical thinking and compassion.

Joseph P. Murray