Law and Disorder Radio – Michelle Alexander on The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness – Ayman Mohyeldin on Gaza – Hosts: Heidi Boghosian, Michael Steven Smith & Michael Ratner – Produced by Geoff Brady

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newjimcrow The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness – Michelle Alexander

Michelle Alexander, author of the new book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness joins hosts. Michelle’s book has been called an incisive critique of racial caste system in America. As many celebrate the “triumph over race” with the election Barack Obama, the majority of young black men in the US are locked behind bars or permanently labeled felons. Michelle Alexander, a former litigator who is a legal scholar, argues that the civil rights community—and all of us—are challenged to place mass incarceration at the forefront of a new movement for racial justice in America.

Michelle Alexander:

  • I began in my own research to question the prevailing political media narrative about the reasons of people of color and ghetto communities cycle through the criminal justice system today; it is not as it appears.
  • I argue that in a few decades after the collapse of Jim Crow, we as a nation have managed to re-create a racial caste system in America. In some major American cities, the majority of African-American men are locked behind bars, labeled felons for life.
  • Legally discriminated against in employment, housing, access to education, and public benefits. We have not ended racial caste; we redesigned it.
  • The Drug War was declared in relation to racial politics, not drug crime. About 30 million were arrested for drug offenses after the launch of the drug war. Most were for marijuana possession, now considered less harmful than alcohol or tobacco.
  • Drug markets, like American society, generally are segregated by race and class
  • The Supreme Court has made it virtually impossible for these cases to be brought.
  • Baldus Study: McKleskey v. Kemp
  • Finding proof of conscious intentional discrimination is nearly impossible. Severe racial disparities are of no consequence, immunized not just the death penalty.
  • I wrote this book largely because I was deeply troubled by the failure of civil rights organizations and black leadership in this country to place mass incarceration and the war on drugs at the top of our racial justice agenda.
  • Ten of millions of people in the United States are now regulated permanently to an under-caste, barred by law from seeking jobs or housing, public benefits, food stamps.
  • Prisons have been holding many rural towns together as jobs have disappeared. The majority of people put behind bars are non-violent offenders. Every race suffers from this drug war; there are white people doing decades in prison for drug possession charges. The suffering of the drug war crosses the color line, and we have to be able to galvanize a level of public awareness and support.
  • Something akin to a racial caste system is alive and well in the United States.

Guest – Professor Michelle Alexander joined the OSU faculty in 2005. She holds a joint appointment with the Moritz College of Law and the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity. Prior to joining the OSU faculty, she was a member of the Stanford Law School faculty, where she served as Director of the Civil Rights Clinic.

Professor Alexander has significant experience in the field of civil rights advocacy and litigation. She has litigated civil rights cases in private practice as well as engaged in innovative litigation and advocacy efforts in the non-profit sector. For several years, Professor Alexander served as the Director of the Racial Justice Project for the ACLU of Northern California.

Ayman gazajanuary aljazeera222Ayman Mohyeldin, Al-Jazeera TV correspondent

Ayman joins hosts in the studio. He is an Al Jazeera TV correspondent and former CNN producer based in Baghdad. He was the only news producer allowed to observe and report on the US handover of Saddam Hussein to an Iraqi judge. Ayman has been stationed in the Gaza Strip since May 2008, where he has covered the Gaza siege. Ayman talks with hosts about his experience covering the destruction during Operation Cast Lead. Filmmakers and producers are working on a documentary film about Ayman’s war reporting in Palestine. Facebook link

Ayman Mohyeldin:

  • Saturday, December 27th, 2008, I had been based in Gaza. It had been quiet in Gaza up to November 4th.
  • We started hearing the first wave of Israeli airstrikes that destroyed government buildings, police station within minutes. It kicked off a series of airstrikes throughout the day. 200 Palestinians were killed that day.
  • We really saw everything, I can’t begin to describe the horrors of what we saw. On the first day we went to the main Gaza hospital.
  • People of Gaza were trapped in a territory subjected to a very modern, sophisticated, well-trained and equipped army.
  • By Israel’s own admission rocket fire into Israel had dropped 98 percent 4 months ago (before Operation Cast Lead)
  • What were the real reasons for the attack? The war was unnecessary given what was achieved in the 4 months prior.
  • The siege on Gaza has allowed Hamas to tighten it’s grip on Gaza. The siege has not punished Hamas.
  • Palestinians have recycled the rubber and steel from the destruction.
  • I was standing on a rooftop and they were dropping hundreds of leaflets from planes, that read “Your area is going to be attacked. If you have any information about Hamas, please call this number.”
  • Goldstone Report: Israel while bombing did not distinguish between military and civilian targets. Not a mistake.
  • Targets include – mosques, schools, ambulance drivers, government buildings, ministries, Palestinian Legislative Council Building.
  • Gaza historically was an affluent place, it was a merchant trade route from Africa into Asia and Europe.
  • Stunted growth is starting to appear among Palestinian children.
  • Gaza: Desperate, frustrated, a sense of abandonment by the international community.

Guest – Ayman Mohyeldin, Arab-American journalist based in the Middle East. Gaza correspondent for the English-language channel Al-Jazeera. Previously a producer with CNN and NBC, Ayman was one of the first western journalists allowed to enter and report on the handing over and trial of the deposed President of Iraq Saddam Hussein by the Iraqi Interim Government for crimes against humanity.