I used to read in books how our fathers persecuted mankind. But I never appreciated it. I did not really appreciate the infamies that have been committed in the name of religion, until I saw the iron arguments that Christians used. I saw the Thumbscrew—two little pieces of iron, armed on the inner surfaces with protuberances, to prevent their slipping; through each end a screw uniting the two pieces. And when some man denied the efficacy of baptism, or may be said, 'I do not believe that a fish ever swallowed a man to keep him from drowning,' then they put his thumb between these pieces of iron and in the name of love and universal forgiveness, began to screw these pieces together. When this was done most men said, 'I will recant.' Probably I should have done the same. Probably I would have said: 'Stop; I will admit anything that you wish; I will admit that there is one god or a million, one hell or a billion; suit yourselves; but stop.'But there was now and then a man who would not swerve the breadth of a hair. There was now and then some sublime heart, willing to die for an intellectual conviction. Had it not been for such men, we would be savages to-night. Had it not been for a few brave, heroic souls in every age, we would have been cannibals, with pictures of wild beasts tattooed upon our flesh, dancing around some dried snake f

~ Robert G. Ingersoll

Another site of Leftist struggle [other than Detroit] that has parallels to New Orleans: Palestine. From the central role of displacement to the ways in which culture and community serve as tools of resistance, there are illuminating comparisons to be made between these two otherwise very different places.In the New Orleans Black community, death is commemorated as a public ritual (it's often an occasion for a street party), and the deceased are often also memorialized on t-shirts featuring their photos embellished with designs that celebrate their lives. Worn by most of the deceased's friends and family, these t-shirts remind me of the martyr posters in Palestine, which also feature a photo and design to memorialize the person who has passed on. In Palestine, the poster's subjects are anyone who has been killed by the occupation, whether a sick child who died at a checkpoint or an armed fighter killed in combat. In New Orleans, anyone with family and friends can be memorialized on a t-shift. But a sad truth of life in poor communities is that too many of those celebrate on t-shirts lost their lives to violence. For both New Orleans and Palestine, outsiders often think that people have become so accustomed to death by violence that it has become trivialized by t-shirts and posters.While it's true that these traditions wouldn't manifest in these particular ways if either population had more opportunities for long lives and death from natural causes, it's also far from trivial to find ways to celebrate a life. Outsiders tend to demonize those killed--especially the young men--in both cultures as thugs, killers, or terrorists whose lives shouldn't be memorialized in this way, or at all. But the people carrying on these traditions emphasize that every person is a son or daughter of someone, and every death should be mourned, every life celebrated.

~ Jordan Flaherty