Poets and Professors: Criminals?

Dareen Tatour, a Palestinian poet, has been jailed by the Israeli government for being a poet and doing what poets do: write poems! Israel commits crimes against the humanity of the Palestinian people every day, and the rest of the world ignores it. Not only that, my own government rewards them by giving them about $38 BILLION over the next 10 years.

Here is a link to Dareen’s poem translated into English: https://arablit.org/2016/04/27/the-poem-for-which-dareen-tatours-under-house-arrest-resist-my-people-resist-them

And here is a link to a poem she wrote in prison, “A Poet Behind Bars,” provided in its English translation: https://arablit.org/2016/09/01/a-poet-behind-bars-a-new-poem-from-dareen-tatour/

Needless to say, Israel is not the only abhorrent human rights abuser. Take a look at Turkey today. As I have written before, in a poem, in fact, what is happening in Turkey under Erdoğan is death to freedom of speech. Using the failed coup attempt, Erdoğan is ridding the country of anyone who speaks out against his government. His government, by the way, is regressive, dictatorially, extremely conservative in a religious sense, and totally opposite the modernizing vision of Ataturk, who brought Turkey back into civilization and the contemporary world.  One major attack is against academics. The exact number is unclear, but it appears over 20,000 teaches, professors, deans, and academic personnel have been arrested since the coup attempt. One recent example is Professor Candan Badem, who was arrested because he had a book by the alleged mastermind of the coup, which has yet to be substantiated with any proof. A book on his shelf? My history professor in college had a copy of Das Kapital on his shelf, but he was no Marxist. How do you learn about opposing views if not to read about them? I would hope to see a diversity of books on any professor’s shelf.

For more information on Professor Badem see: http://www.endangeredscholarsworldwide.net/single-post/2016/08/03/Turkish-Professor-Candan-Badem-has-been-arrested-for-having-a-book-written-by-Fetullah-G%C3%BClen-in-his-office

But you don’t have to be a member of the intelligentsia to be arrested. In Mexico, they don’t bother with arrests, they just killed 43 students two years ago, who were simply traveling to protest for better living wages for their teachers and other issues with the government’s education policy! What a crime. This link provides background on the events and the conclusions, which the Mexican government still has done nothing about: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/25/world/americas/missing-mexican-students-suffered-a-night-of-terror-investigators-say.html?_r=0

This is just a minute sampling of what is happening to intelligent, competent thinking people in a few places around the world.

A word of warning: it can happen in my country if that appalling, narcissistic, lying, inarticulate, bigoted, hypocrite of a Republican candidate is not defeated soundly. Make no mistake this election is NOT about the usual two competing parties that aren’t all that different underneath. This is a battle for what kind of country we want to be. It won’t be perfect under Hillary, but it will continue as a democratic, sane society with a sense of the world.


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