Happy news, rare in the realm of human rights in Saudi Arabia, occurred on Wednesday when it was learned that Loujain al-Hathloul, held in a Saudi prison for more than three years on what human rights observers agree were ridiculous, trumped-up, politically-motivated charges was released by the Saudi government under certain autocratic conditions. As reported… Read More Loujain al-Hathloul, Saudi Activist for Women’s Rights, Released– But U.S. Must Keep Up Pressure on Saudi Arabia
There is, fortunately, a much better way for defenders of democracy and freedom fighters everywhere to make their liberty-loving presence known: tell the Saudi government to release all the women’s rights activists it has imprisoned on trumped-up charges.… Read More Defend Liberty? Tell the Saudis (and Trump) to Release Women’s Rights Activists
In honor of World Poetry Day Couplets for those who don’t betray The verse of stars, the vow of stones And meet the sinking sun alone– As if a cell can bar a soul … As if a whale can hide the whole.
By John Kaufman PEN International is profiling four poets on World Poetry Day now being held either in prisons or under house arrest for dissenting against injustice through art and/or journalism: Aron Atabek of Kzakhstan, Liu Xia of China, Amanuel Asrat of Eitrea, Dareen Tatour detained by Israel. To see what you can do to… Read More To Honor Poetry on World Poetry Day, Help Imprisoned Poets Across the Globe
By John Frederick Kaufman Speaking of his poetry, here’s what Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko, who died yesterday in Tulsa, Oklahoma at the age of 84, told the Associated Press in an interview back in 2007: “I don’t call it political poetry, I call it human rights poetry; the poetry which defends human conscience as the… Read More The “Human Rights Poetry” of Yevgeny Yevtushenko Very Relevant Today
By John Frederick Kaufman Fists and Flags “America first!” the president cried and raised his fist to punch the sky while someone punched a fascist in the head: the fist is first of many lies, grip of welcome weaponized. In my hand I hold a pen to strike out the wall-like words that slam… Read More A Poem: “Fists and Flags”
When the American novelist/essayist Marilynne Robinson sat down with President Obama for a chat on matters literary, religious and political, President Obama asked her to — “Tell me a little bit about how your interest in Christianity converges with your concerns about democracy.” Robinson: Well, I believe that people are images of God. There’s no… Read More The Novelist & the President: what a true democracy is
Yesterday, at a U.N. summit meeting on women’s rights hosted by, of all nations, China and its president, Xi Jinping, we learned that China will “reaffirm our commitment to gender equality and women’s development,” according to Xi. So far, that reaffirmation has failed to recover the human rights of five Chinese female/feminist activists who were imprisoned… Read More Both China & U.S. need to improve the human rights of women
Becoming Our Enemy Sometime we’ll have to risk Becoming our enemy. It will take some warming up, Eyes and teeth offered Shyly, arms unarmed. No words at first to blur The strange exchange, just Purest greeting: a bow That looks away from Betrayal towards the common ground. By John Kaufman
Torture and war are intimately related. Torture is a subset of war: brutality directed at an individual and justified in the name of “defense.” What was the justification across the Bush administration for the CIA’s recently revealed program of brutal “enhanced interrogation”? The “war on terror.” Torture is the intentional inflicting of terror on someone judged, without a fair… Read More The courage not to be brutal
[A few lines for these times from Langston Hughes.] Besides, They’ll see how beautiful I am And be ashamed— I, too, am America. (Read the rest of the poem at the link below.) I, Too by Langston Hughes : The Poetry Foundation.
“Nonviolent resistance, at the very least, practices what it preaches.”… Read More The “Way Forward”: More War?
I’m breaking my summer silence once again to declare, for what it’s worth, my strong opposition– to the United States’ new bombing campaign in Iraq, the return of military hostilities between Hamas and Israel, and the ongoing war in Ukraine which is increasing the likelihood that Putin will order Russian troops to invade Ukraine, possibly… Read More Opposing More U.S. War in Iraq, Middle East and Ukraine