Friends gathered at the Stark Street meetinghouse for this public-invited showing of 13th, a widely distributed, award-winning documentary about the ongoing cultural and civil war in North America.
Although Lincoln declared the slaves free, an opening shot in his war to preserve the Union, the South was not on board with providing them with full human rights overnight. Women couldn't vote yet either. A system of apartheid was instituted that continues to this day.
The Civil Rights movement won some semblance of equality before the law, but then social engineers in the White House realized a "get tough on crime" approach might be used to stimulate mass incarceration of mostly black people. Presidents Nixon, Reagan and Clinton pursued this agenda to the tune of billions of borrowed dollars.
The War on Drugs became a war of oppression against black US Americans, a continuation of Prohibition, which had earlier criminalized most whites as well.
Once in prison, people could be made to work as slaves again, according to the terms of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.
Mass incarceration is currently falling out of favor, as even ALEC admits, but in the meantime has been useful for maintaining the privileges of the non-criminal population.
Nowadays, white people are finding themselves addicted to drugs as well, especially opiates such as Oxycontin, and want medical treatment, not prison. They've also found marijuana congenial and have started legalizing it for both medical and recreational use. The huge prison population of over two million, earning the US its reputation as a Prison State, will need to come down in light of these changes.
The movie does not touch on the 14th Amendment, originally designed to acknowledge that blacks were fully human. This amendment was used by another caste of less protected person, the corporate being with artificial personhood, to gain more privileges under US law.
Based on this loophole in the Constitution, corporations were enabled to attain full personhood and continue their strategy of masked domination. Anonymous shareholders were protected from personal bankruptcy and stood to lose (or gain) only to the extent of their investment. Corporations that do not run afoul of the law eventually gain superpowers relative to ordinary humans, thanks to their relative size and immortality. They become giants, a part of "the Grunch" per Medal of Freedom winner R. B. Fuller in Grunch of Giants.
Unequal Protection by Thom Hartmann (which quotes Fuller) traces this connected story. The two stories overlap in that corporate persons now manage much of the US prison system for profit. Social engineers have developed school systems based around standardized testing, that are guaranteed to feed these hungry corporations with future inmates. At AFSC (Quaker) this design is called the "school to prison pipeline". The US continues to feed its appetite for free labor, undercutting wages for those still on the outside not living on investment income.
Lew Frederick, to be sworn in on Monday as an Oregon state senator, was with us to watch the movie and discuss it afterwards. He's an Earlham grad, black, and comes to meeting quite often. He'd not seen the film before and found it moving and educational.
[ first published on QuakerQuaker ]