A Brief Interview With Elijah D. Manley on Education in America

elijah-manley-at-green-party-national-convention-2016

 


This blog is the first of a planned series of brief interviews where I will discuss various youth rights and other assorted political issues with Elijah D. Manley, the first underager to run for President of the United States, which he did as a nominee in the 2016 Green Party primaries at the “mere” age of 17. The interviews in this series are intended to be short enough that most people can consume them in a single sitting. As a few examples of his political exploits over the past year, here is Elijah speaking at the 2016 Green Party National Convention in Houston, Texas (Elijah’s speech starts around the 12:44 time stamp; unfortunately, this video has a poor and inconsistent audio quality, so listen carefully on a device with a good sound system!); and here is his interview on The Young Turks.

 


Though the nomination went to Jill Stein, Elijah did quite well for a campaign that was radical even by the progressive standards of the Greens. He managed to get on the ballot of two states and the District of Columbia, and gained an impressive 41% of the votes and 3 of the 7 Green delegates in his home state of Florida, with the rest of the votes and the state’s other 4 delegates going to Jill Stein; and this despite all 6 Green primary candidates being on the Florida ballot. As an additional surprise, he was given a quarter of a delegate from among the District of Columbia’s 2 delegates (with another quarter going to Bill Kreml, and the rest going to Jill Stein).

 


I was honored beyond words when I was asked by Elijah to be campaign manager for his historic run, and needless to say, it was quite a ride! As expected, Elijah is far from done with politics, and I thank him for graciously giving his time to my blog for this series of interviews. Let us now begin! The interview was conducted via instant messaging, and is edited only for grammar and clarity, with no change or modification in content or context.

 

CN: As a major participant in the youth liberation movement who also happens to be legally “underage” and still in high school, do you think the American schooling system teaches students to be good critical and independent thinkers, or is it more about encouraging a conformity of thought?
 I believe that the education system in America does not encourage free thinking. It instead encourages conformity. This education system is undemocratic, particularly because it is hierarchical. Instead of helping students think for themselves, it discourages thinking.
CN:  Based on your personal observations and discussions with many other students across the U.S., do you feel that the small number of students who are naturally critical and independent thinkers are treated well by the adult staff at the schools?
 —
 No. I believe that students who are independent and free thinkers are seen as a threat in schools. These students are likely disrespected, disciplined for not conforming, and/or watched.
 —
CN:  There are some who believe that the hierarchical, top-down nature of the contemporary schooling environment in America — where older adults are treated as always knowing best, having full control over the school curriculum, etc. — has a lot to recommend it as long as there is mutual respect between the adult staff and students. Do you believe that the hierarchical, adult-controlled structure of the current schooling system allows for or encourages much mutual respect between the adult staff and students?
No. I believe that in order for there to be a successful schooling system, students must have a full say in all decision-making. It must be what I call a “vertical structure of power.”
CN: Would you describe the vertical structure of power as a bottom-to-top command structure where students share decision-making power with teachers and other staff, including participating in team teaching efforts?
 —
 Yes, exactly. This requires a say in the formulation of curriculum.
CN: Do you believe that equal say should include the rules of the school related to attire, which programs funding is allocated to, etc.?
 —
 Yes. All decisions made by school administrations and boards should be approved or rejected by student bodies.
CN: Many have complained that contemporary youths are very vapid in terms of their interests, i.e., only interested in modern fashions, the latest trendy movies (or trends in general), an over-interest in consuming all the latest technology (useful or otherwise), and almost sole interest in modern movies, books, and music with little interest in the classics in each of these mediums. Do you believe that what passes for “youth culture” today has anything to do with how the schooling system is formulated and conducted?
No. I believe that youth culture is developed as time goes by, and if it has anything to do with school, maybe it is the social setting in school. Attacking youth culture is what I consider to be “gentrification of youth.”
CN: How would you personally define “gentrification of youth” if asked to elaborate?
 Outside groups or age demographics attacking, targeting or trying to influence or change youth culture.
 —
CN:  Having been in the contemporary schooling system for at least 12 years now, do you feel that it gives you and other students a positive attitude towards learning and education?
 —
 No. It honestly makes us hate school and the education system even more. Most of us do not feel like we really learned valuable information to prepare us for life after HS. We also feel that the info we have learned is in part irrelevant. I doubt that many students are enthusiastic about the schooling system.
CN: Any last things you would like to add about your experiences in the American schooling system for those outside the nation who may be wondering about it?
 The biggest problems I have evaluated about the American schooling system is that it is run like a big corporation, and not a school. There is too much standardized testing, and not enough learning time. Failure should not even be a way to refer to children who have not succeeded in acquiring a certain level of knowledge. The biggest problem of them all is that the students’ concerns and voices are ignored.
 —
CN: I think the video you put up that recorded your experience with the school board may well attest to that.
Yep [laughter] there are a lot!
CN: Cases in point are here and here.

 —

My thanks to Elijah for his time!


elijah-manley-and-jill-stein

Moving forward against all odds!

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To My Fellow Progressives: Stop Defending Hillary!

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders01
Hillary: “Pssst! And don’t you ever  bring up universal health care, free college tuition, or the word ‘socialism’ ever again, Bernie.” 
Bernie: “Okay, I told you, Hillary, I’m sorry, I’m sorry… ‘stronger together,’ remember?”
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This particular political tirade is in response to some conversations I’ve recently had both on and off Facebook with individuals who present themselves as fellow progressives. The subject is in regards to their continued misguided support for Hillary Clinton, and/or their insistence that she is the “lesser evil” of Donald Trump rather than an individual of equal demerits to take up the Power Throne in the Oval Office. Some of these individuals I had these exchanges with were valued friends and family, others mere acquaintances, and others simply individuals who participated in certain threads or comments sections of political sites I was also engaging in discourse on.
Most importantly, however, this blog is about providing good evidence to back up my statements, particularly in the absence of any evidence on the end of the opposing view, and to hopefully convince as many people on the Left as possible why they need to give up any respect for Hillary they may be holding onto.
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I. “HILLARY’S NOT AS BAD AS YOU MAKE HER OUT TO BE, CHRIS! BE THANKFUL SHE’S NOT TRUMP!”
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The first of my delightful (yea, right!) tirades will be in response to too many of my fellow progressives who insist on supporting Hillary Clinton by saying, “She’s not the monster that so many make her out to be.” Seriously? I have to ask people who say this: where, exactly, did they acquire the information to back up such a statement? Or perhaps more importantly, are they in fact basing it on any actual information or evidence, or could their defense of her possibly be based on any of the following factors:

 

1. Are you simply supporting Hillary because she is “not Trump”? If so, that may make you a good Democrat, but certainly not a good progressive. Have you seriously looked at Hillary’s policies and conduct over the many years since her family took power in Washington? Warning: you’re about to see a lot of that presented here! Please consider what you will see objectively before you conclude she is a lesser evil than Trump, rather than simply a rival who wants essentially the same policies but speaks less forthrightly and more in “code” than The Donald does.

 

2. Are you defending Hillary in deference to her gender rather than her behavior in office? If so, that is not progressive or feminist thinking, but identity-biased, anti-egalitarian, and even thinly veiled misandry. It constitutes a school of thought which is increasingly coming to be called “oppressive liberalism” — the negative, reactionary side of the Left, which twists honorable platforms favoring progressive change and female empowerment into policies which canonize and demonize individuals based upon their identity category rather than their actual behavior or the content of their character. If you fancy yourself a true progressive and feminist who wants to see a female president, why not prove your honor and scruples by voting NOT simply for the most powerful and “electable” female candidate, but one who actually supports progressive values and feminist empowerment by virtue of their principles and behavior such as Dr. Jill Stein or Sedinam Curry, both of whom are presidential nominees for the Green Party? Or again, do you favor powerful  women over that of principled women who actually support the 99%? Please ask yourself the above questions, and demand you give yourself an honest answer! Also please note the difference between female power  and female  empowerment, and understand how one is the mere inversion of hierarchy whereas the other is the full repudiation of it..

 

3. Or is it because Hillary is a Democrat, and you insist that this second party of Wall Street can still be “reformed” to give up all of that lucre thrown into its coffers by the corporate lobbyists, divest itself of the numerous pro-corporate centrists who dominate and control the inner workings of the party via the Democratic Leadership Council (DNC), so that it it will ever again stand up for the 99%? Or do you think being a centrist yourself in any way benefits a person belonging to the 99%? Or that supporting a puppet of Wall Street and the Democrats as they are today is the best we can actually achieve in this country, or worse, the best we should  actually achieve?  If you’re one of the millions of centrists who are having severe financial problems, and can’t find a job that pays enough so that you do not have to continuously choose between rent and groceries, then you need to do some serious thinking and re-assess your political loyalties.  That honestly makes as much logical sense as a group of politically active people of color supporting the Ku Klux Klan by insisting that it has an important place in the world even if they must concede that the Klan is “imperfect” and sometimes does things they do not particularly care for. That analogy is by no means outlandish if you honestly think about the logic or wisdom of a member of the labor class supporting a politician or political party which stands for the interests of the capitalist class. The majority of the 1% is comprised of privileged individuals who consider themselves superior to the 99% much as the Klan was comprised of white people who considered themselves superior to individuals of color, so the comparison is very apt. Yet how many black people would be foolish enough to vote for a political party based on support for the Klan’s ideologies and policies? So why are so many members of the labor class continuing to align themselves with political parties who serve the interests and agendas of the capitalist class, and seek to perpetuate and even escalate the conditions that are crushing both ourselves and the biosphere itself?

 

I wish all of you Hillary supporters would seriously ask yourselves the above three questions before you put any portion of your heart and soul into Hillary, as opposed to, say, supporting and helping build a third party with candidates and platforms which actually represent the interests of the 99% (the Green Party being the largest example). Didn’t the eight-year debacle of Obama in office teach you a lesson? Please learn from your mistakes instead of insisting on repeating them every election year ad nauseum and ad infinitum.

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II. NOW, FOR THE EVIDENCE…

TELL MORE LIES, TELL MORE SWEET LITTLE LIES!

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Here we start the fun part: providing the evidence so many of you need to see and heed.

This video consists of a straight 13 minutes of news footage featuring the numerous times Hillary has been caught on camera lying and backpedaling with the flow of politics. Think of it as a detailed video history of how often she backtracks on various positions depending upon what is politically popular at any given time (e.g., gay marriage rights, her position on NAFTA, her non-support for universal health care), about whether or not she is a progressive or centrist (yes, Virginia, there is a difference!), about how she lied about being under gunfire upon arriving in Bosnia circa 1996 (this one was epic!), and how often she was caught contradicting herself during Senate hearings on her recent shameful e-mail scandal… yes, the one the Senate decided not to go forward with charges on despite all of these stated contradictions! But I guess we all agree that powerful politicians and average people should be subject to different standards when it comes to criminal activity, right? And it doesn’t matter if Hillary is a liar, untrustworthy, or a chronic flip-flopper as long as she “gets things done,” as the narrative claims, huh?

Let’s close this section of the blog by reading author and journalist Michael Walsh’s article for the New York Post  exposing a long laundry list of Hillary’s lies, thus making it all the more baffling as to why so many people on the Left insist on trusting her in the most powerful seat in the world. Remember Whitewater? Remember her claims of attempting to join the Marine Corps. in 1975? Click on the link and revisit Hillary’s long history of doing what she does best (hint: it’s not  enacting sensible foreign and domestic policies for a democratic nation).

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Hillary Clinton looking puzzled

“Hey, you act like it’s my fault these people keep believing my lies!”

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III. HILLARY’S GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENTS AS SECRETARY OF STATE ARE NOTHING YOU’D WANT ON YOUR RESUME!

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Very telling is this PJTV video where several Hillary supporters are asked what they think Hillary’s greatest accomplishments as Secretary of State happen to be. Note how none of them can actually point out anything substantive, instead giving numerous statements of how cool it would be to have a woman president (Jill Stein and Sedinam Curry, please!); or how one of them said it would be cool to have a Clinton family legacy in the White House just like we already had a Bush legacy; or how one interviewee mentioned that Hillary did “many” great things as Secretary of State, but he would be damned if he could name one, since he’s not up-to-date on politics (in other words, he has no idea what she did as Secretary of State, but who cares,’cause “Hillary is cool” and that’s the “in” thing to say!). Another says she made “no major mistakes” as Secretary of State… huh?! Um… Libya! Syria! Women’s rights activists in Honduras! (Sorry, feminist supporters of Hillary!) Baiting Russia and China! Need I go on?

 

Please note the numerous actions and policies, both domestic and foreign, which incited people to protest Hillary when she visited her home town of Chappaqua in this video. In particular is how she is taken to task for the cover-up and lies she was responsible for in Benghazi, when she refused to offer aid to four American journalists trapped there.

But now let’s look at what may arguably be her greatest accomplishment of all time: the brutal sustained and agonizing torture and murder of deposed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Here is a link to a video of Hillary gleefully saying in an interview, “We came, we saw, he died!” regarding Muammar Gaddafi when the latter was barbarically beaten and sodomized with a spear by NATO rebels whose coup of the Libyan government was supported by the U.S. government, and largely orchestrated by Hillary circa 2011 during her reign as Secretary of State. And yes, that is seriously Hillary laughing about this in the interview; she is not  being taken out of context here! But c’mon now, Hillary isn’t the monster so many people try to make of her, right? Puh-lease, people! Look at her conduct in this video!

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Hillary Clinton with thumbs up

Hillary watching the video-taped mob murder of Muammar Gaddafi as she waited for her servant to finish making the popcorn.

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IV. BUT AT LEAST HILLARY’S NOT RACIST LIKE TRUMP, RIGHT? 

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Those among you who are actually informed about politics yet continue to say Hillary is a lesser evil than Trump often argue that unlike The Donald, she is not racist. That claim, of course, only holds the metaphorical H2O if you judge Trump by what he verbalizes forthrightly to what Hillary only says in code, and  you ignore the nature of the policies she has enacted and endorsed.

Someone whose intelligence and knowledge I greatly respect also recently told me to ask any black voter I know about this matter, and they will say they support Hillary Clinton. This must mean she cannot possibly be racist, right? Well, again, that’s only if you look past the self-serving networking Hillary has done with the black community due to her connections with the Democratic ticket and look at her coded statements and the end results of her policies.

 

Let’s take a look at both of these thing now.

 

We’ll start by revisiting Hillary’s statement about the group people chiefly targeted by the infamous, very conservative “three strikes and you’re out” Crime Bill of 1994, enacted by   her husband and endorsed heavily by First Lady Hillary herself, specifically the group of young people she referred to as “super-predators”. Here is Exhibit #1. It quickly became evident that the term “super-predator” was a loaded slur against young black people. In case you want to argue that it was not young black people she was referring to with that word, consider this uncomfortable fact: that 1994 legislation resulted in mass incarceration of a disproportionate number of young black males, which made it quite clear whom these laws were heavily targeting. I would wager that the large number of black people who support Hillary are ignorant of this fact, just like the bulk of everyone outside of the 1% who continues to support her.

 

Let’s now look at this Exhibit #2, a video where we see young black activist                           Ashley Williams (not to be confused with that guy on Starz who kills the Deadites!), who paid $500 to attend one of Hillary’s speeches (hey, the rich have to make a living, right?) and there demanded an apology for underhandedly referring to young black people as “super-predators” while endorsing legislation which resulted in a record number of incarcerations for young blacks, particularly males. Please note that a huge amount of these incarcerations were not due to gang violence or theft of property, but for non-violent drug-related crimes such as purchasing or smoking marijuana. It’s been estimated that four times as many young blacks were arrested and incarcerated under these drug laws than white youths, despite it being well-known that white people partake of recreational drugs more often than black people. Note Hillary dismissing Ashley’s questions in that video, and how the young woman ended up escorted out for her confrontational questions (after spending $500 to attend! For that, was she supposed to just listen and not be heard?).

 

Hmmm, I wonder if Ashley Williams would be one of those black voters who are quick to endorse the woman who endorsed this legislation. Or how about the Latino activists telling Hillary she isn’t welcome for all of her many atrocities during her speech recorded in this video? I see no great love for Hillary there among minority activists.

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Hillary Clinton going military

“My major regret is that I couldn’t be there taking pot shots at those silly little Syrians myself! I’ll have to spend another 48 hours straight playing  Call of Duty  and  Full Auto  to get me out of this melancholy mood…”

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V. OWNING UP TO THE EVIDENCE

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With all of this evidence made clear, I would like to respectfully ask all Hillary supporters to take a hard, objective look at this evidence, and at the same time, to take a hard, objective look at their reasons for supporting her. While you’re at it, I ask you to please take an equally hard look at why you continue to support the Democrats, and why despite your personal situation — both social and financial — you continue to remain center-of-left in the political spectrum. As a member of the 99%, supporting Hillary and the Democrats in general benefits you in no way whatsoever, regardless of your gender, race, or job.
If you’re of feminist leanings, consider the true equality for women that would result if we achieved the eco-socialist objectives fought for by the Green Party and various smaller socialist organizations in the U.S.

If you simply want to better your situation in a material sense, then your continued support for one of the two major parties of capitalism are going to leave you exactly in the situation you and millions of your fellow 99% are in, and endanger those of the “middle class” into ending up in precisely the same situation during when the next capitalist economic crisis strikes, and President Hillary Clinton (or one of her successors) spends billions of taxpayer dollars to bail out the multi-billionaire culprits — just as Obama did with the bankers in 2008.

If you are suffering from health problems and worry about how you’re going to pay for it, then consider how Hillary callously boasted during her sparring with Bernie Sanders (who has now capitulated to her) that it’s improper to have a  “theoretical debate” about universal health care, since it’s something that will “never, ever come to pass” in the U.S… that is, if she and her fellow Democrats and centrists in Washington have anything to say about it.  How is this benefiting you as a member of the 99%, who is going to have to pay out the arse for expensive health insurance and pharmaceuticals to even hope to partially cover any medical expenses you may incur? And how does this make Hillary even remotely a decent person who is in any way capable of looking beyond the perspective of Wall Street?

If you actually want to see terrorism and the cycle of violence plaguing the U.S. and elsewhere in the Western world finally end; and, if you should also happen to care about the lives of innocent families in the Middle East who routinely see their homes and family members blown to bits by U.S. drones as a result of the government’s present policy of perpetual war and a capitalist system which thrives on war profiteering, then you need to realize that an inveterate war-monger like Hillary Clinton and her fellow centrist Democrats are going to continue with these policies and the general militarization of our culture and social mindset that is the main source of terrorist spree killings (sorry, but it’s not the mere availability of guns alone which causes the problem! The typical, emotionally driven fear of guns by Democrats — so long as they are in the hands of civilians, that is — are both hypocritical and ineffective considering the militarization and pro-violence mentality which so many Democratic politicians gleefully support when it’s soldiers abroad and police officers on our own streets literally taking the shots).

Consider all of the following. Hillary and company are going to continue committing numerous war crimes in your name, and continue to spend 57 cents of every single tax dollar on the Pentagon to fight numerous wars that will in no way benefit the 99% at home. Now please ask yourselves the following questions:

What is going to happen as a result of her continued baiting of Russia and China? What is her continued support for Israel and its war crimes against the Palestinians going to mean for the U.S.’s standing in the world? Do you seriously believe that Hillary will cease supporting the ruling family of Saudi Arabia, which a lot of evidence suggests is the true supplier and financier of most fundamentalist Middle Eastern terrorist groups? Do you seriously think she is going to reverse Obama’s blocking of the 9/11 families suing Saudi Arabia for its complicity in the 9/11 tragedy? (And you gotta love his business-oriented rationale for opposing this legislation! And how it will “open the doors” to the many foreigners who lost family and property to the U.S. government’s drones from suing the U.S.! Who wants to leave themselves open to the consequences for their actions, right, Mr. President?) How can you possibly argue that those who cover for terrorist-supporters for what amount to business and P.R. reasons, and falsely blame and attack sovereign nations who had nothing to do with it for similar business reasons (it’s all about the oil and establishing oppressive regimes friendly to U.S. corporate interests!), are “not the monsters some people claim they are”?

Seriously, why do you give that much moral deference to those who have sizable political and economic power over and above the 99% of us who do not? Would you think as highly of your fellow labor class neighbor if he blew up a tenement full of innocent people to get maybe one or two vicious drug dealers? Conversely, would you call the police on any of your working class neighbors and have them harshly incarcerated and indicted simply for smoking a joint? Would you trust a neighbor who was constantly caught lying to house-sit for you when you were away? How much respect would you have for a fellow 99 percenter neighbor who paid a bunch of thugs to slowly beat and torture someone who refused to do business with them to death, and ended the whole thing by shoving a sharpened blade up their rectum? Would someone who was commander-in-chief of the U.S. military that did such things be more  or less  of a threat than one of these hypothetical working class neighbors who did the same thing?

I respectfully ask everyone who supports Hillary and bothers to read this blog to reflect on the above questions and seriously think about them. If you fancy yourself a true progressive, I ask you to reflect on why you continue to be loyal to this economic system and one of the two parties who continue to represent the interests of its small handful of beneficiaries (and that’s not  you, my fellow 99 percenters!). Finally, ask yourself this: how does being a centrist benefit you in any way, shape, or form?

And in closing, considering all of the above, why not support constituents of a third party who truly represent the 99%, and actually supports fundamental change in the structure of the economy that are geared towards ending rather than perpetuating the economic equality which is the source of all the major problems in human civilization, including those making your own life so difficult? Think about it, people, the next time you give Hillary, or any other Democrat, such a firm defense.  I also ask those who choose to wash their hands of the entire political process and vote for  no one at all  to likewise consider these important questions.

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Hillary Clinton doing the LOL

Hillary: “Bwah-ha-hah!” 

Off-panel commentator: “Okay, okay, Hillary, I won’t bring up universal health care again. But you will cancel this $180,000 of college debt I incurred to become a journalist, right?” 

Hillary: “BWAH-HAH-HAAHH!” 

Off-panel commentator: “Okay, alright, I’ll get back to the subject of improving drone technology…” 

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