Chris Hedges Explains How Entire Regions Within the US Are Treated Like Exploited Colonies
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I think Cone is also right that this interpretation is a far more genuine rendering of the Christian narrative than the sterilized narrative adopted by the white-elites, that identify with systems of power, and ultimately systems of oppression. People in all of these communities tended to fall on two sides of the divide: One, there was the use of alcohol, narcotics and drugs to cope with horrific human suffering and pain, and the other was faith--not necessarily Christian faith. For example, in Pine Ridge, those people who managed to pull it together recovered their identities as Lakota--through their language, sweat-lodges, sun-dances and various other rituals. I went to one over the summer. It was deeply moving, with four days of fasting, and dancing, and sort of flesh offerings. They take pegs with ropes attached to them and at the end of the four days will pull them out, leaving small scars on their chests. Many of these men were just out of prison. So, when you fall that low, when life is desperate, you can hang on by building a structure of belief, or you often disintegrate. That was very common. There were very few people in the middle.
Emanuele: Can you talk more specifically about the difference between "legal" and "economic" victories?
Hedges: Sure, well, King recognized this towards the end of the Civil Rights Movement. Of course he was killed while supporting a garbage workers strike in Memphis. Remember, King kept saying that there would be no racial justice if there is not economic justice. And that is where the white liberals walked out on him. They were willing to support legal mechanisms by which African Americans were theoretically granted equality before the law. But economic justice was something totally different. So they managed to get that legal victory, however it's been subverted: I was just in Alabama, and 34% of African American males in Alabama are disqualified and subsequently disenfranchised from the voting rolls because of prior convictions. It's essentially a resurrection of Jim Crow. So, once people got the right to vote, they created mechanisms to take away that right. And I think the Occupy Movement is important in this regard, because it recognizes the issue of inequality as one that has effectively been used to keep the majority of the poor, and especially African Americans, trapped in what King and Malcolm X called "Internal Colonies." Again, places like Camden, New Jersey, where the upper 1/3, or elite within the African American community, were integrated into white culture and society, the way Michelle and Barrack Obama have been. But for the bottom 2/3 of African American society life is worse than when King marched in Selma, Alabama.
Chris Hedges spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa, and the Balkans. He has reported from over 50 countries around the world. Hedges is currently a senior fellow at the Nation Institute in New York City and has taught at New York University, Columbia University and Princeton University. He currently teaches inmates at a correctional facility in New Jersey. He has written twelve books, his latest, written with illustrator Joe Sacco, is entitled Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt. This transcribed interview covers the first two chapters in Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt.