By one estimate there were five to ten million Native People living in what is now the United States. They were socially, spiritually, morally and ethically superior to Europeans. The whites had two advantages, their guns, and their utter ruthlessness. Of the two; the Natives were most bewildered by the second. As Chief Black Hawk lamented upon his defeat and capture by white soldiers, "An Indian who is as bad as the white men could not live in our nation; he would be put to death and eaten up by the wolves.... The white men do not scalp the head; but they do worse - they poison the heart."
Thanksgiving is a time to appreciate the bounty of Autumn harvest. After white Europeans gained a foothold on this continent, Autumn became a time to hunt down Native Peoples and return their early hospitality by destroying villages. It was a time to pay back Native generosity by burning their corn fields and plundering their stores of dried food. Starvation and disease were left to carry out the white's ruthless policy of genocide.
For these reasons I find it impossible to celebrate a "traditional" Thanksgiving. Instead, I often find it a time of sorrow and reflection, though I try to appreciate what good I can find in myself and in the world. This year I commemorate the passing of William Kunstler and give thanks for his lifetime of activism.
Bill Kunstler was an attorney who championed the struggle for justice, often representing those whom the system had already condemned before the trial had begun -- and he usually won. At the trial of the Chicago Eight he pioneered the defense tactic of putting the government on trial. When Bobby Seale was hauled out of the courtroom and brought back in bound and gagged, Kunstler says he learned an important lesson: "Bobby's treatment opened my eyes to misuse of power by federal judges. From that moment on, I knew that the judge and the prosecution were my enemies and that the trial was a fake." Bill Kunstler, a long-time PLN supporter and subscriber, will be sorely missed.
Dare I suggest that Thanksgiving is a time for PLN readers to give thanks for the news and legal analysis we deliver each month? As I write this the PLN coffers are dangerously low. We like to keep at least three months operating expenses as a reserve. These past two months we have had to pay bills from income we got that month! It's insane to operate on the edge that way. We have cut down our expenses to the bare bones. The price of printing and postage have risen to the point where it is hard for us to stay on top of our expenses. If you have something extra you can send our way, this is the time to do it.
We are entirely "reader supported," which means that we serve no masters other than you, our readers. This empowers you to have a voice in what we print. But since "Freedom of the Press" belongs to those who own the press... If you want to own a share of the unique coverage we provide, please make a generous contribution to PLN.
We can not continue to operate without knowing from month to month if we'll be able to meet the next month's expenses. If we don't increase our income, you may see us go to publishing bi-monthly sometime next year. So please, make an extra contribution this year to help PLN continue publishing every month.
Finally, I often plug other small press publications in my editorials. I do this to let you know about other zines I personally enjoy and recommend. This month I'm suggesting that you check out a copy of Dollars and Sense, One Summer Street, Somerville, MA 02143. They offer free subscriptions for prisoners. I highly recommend this zine. As I have discovered: there can be no criminal justice without social justice, and there can be no social justice without economic justice. If you want to learn more about "economic justice," there is simply no other zine on the market that gives you the insight and information that you'll find in each issue of D&S!
That's all for this month. Enjoy this issue of PLN and pass it along to a friend when you're done. For those of you who are able to support us financially, I thank you for your generosity.
As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.
Already a subscriber? Login