James of Oakland’s Letter

Dear Mister Capitalism,

My name is James and I have been attending the protests in Oakland the last three days to express my anger at the George Zimmerman verdict in Florida this past week. (for those who don’t know, read more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shooting_of_Trayvon_Martin)

For me, allowing this man to go free after killing Trayvon Martin in cold blood is truly a travesty. And not just a travesty for young black men who have been subject to this kind of treatment for literally hundreds of years, but even moreso for the nation as a whole, where people can still be killed or discriminated against because of the way they look. The cases of Trayvon Martin and Oscar Grant should be a signal to the rest of the country that the lynchings of the past are not over, but rather that they are simply done under a different name. It used to be the Ku Klux Klan, now it is the Police Departments who carry out these wanton crimes, but the story is the same: black people get killed, and the killers get off scot free.

All these important issues aside, I would like to ask you to address a different (and yet somehow similar) question in this regard, Mr. Capitalism. Why, with all the injustice in this case, and all the legitimate anger shown by protestors (called “rioters” by the mainstream press), has so much focus been placed not on the issue at hand, but rather on the minor property damage done and the burning of the American flag? Which is worse, the death of a 17-year old boy, or the breaking of a window? The shooting of a man in the back on a subway platform, or a piece of fabric?

Angry and confused,


Dear James,

There is a falsehood in this country that our founding fathers set out to create a country that was about the freedom of each person to do as he pleased. This was not true then, nor is it true now. As the great president James Madison once said, “Government is instituted no less for the protection of the property than of the persons of individuals.” And this is exactly right: we value property and goods more than people in this country and we always have, if you’re just waking up to this fact, then you haven’t been reading your textbooks lately.

You ask the question, what is more important: a window or a 17-year old boy? Well, I would have to ask you a counter-question: where was that boy from and how big was the window? If the glass was tinted, double-paned, perhaps even heat resistant to keep the cool air conditioning breeze inside, then that can get damn expensive!!! Trayvon Martin? What was he worth? Was he double-paned? Was he able to keep customers cool or warm depending on the whims of a store manager? Hell no! He was some good for nothing punk, who was skulking around a neighborhood in a hooded-sweatshirt and he “looked suspicious.” That’s all I need if some kid comes into my community: I don’t care if he’s black, or brown or purple, if there’s someone in my yard I don’t know, I shoot him and let the cops sort it out. (and pay the appropriate fees to have it “sorted out” properly, of course. Now that’s the American way!)

To your second point, I think we can all agree that you are way off-base. Calling the American flag “a piece of fabric” is far more a travesty than the American justice system that you whine about so much. Those stars and stripes are a symbol of everything that makes this country great. And on top of that, it is property itself! Somebody paid their hard cash for that flag, what about them? Sure, you have every right to protest, but protest in a way that doesn’t affect me in any way! Don’t block my streets and cause traffic, don’t break my windows and don’t spray paint my cop cars. In fact, why don’t you just protest in your own homes so I don’t have to see your ugly faces at all? As you must have learned by now, we’re going to ignore you no matter what you do, so you might as well quit while you’re behind.



Unknown’s Letter (the Mask is Off)


To whom it may concern,

I take umbrage at the NSA and their so-called PRISM surveillance program (code name US-984XN. Spooky name, no?). A little spying is to be expected from the most corrupt, technology-based government on the planet, but this simply goes too far.

The government ridiculously claims that the data they have collected in the PRISM project cannot “be intentionally used to target anyone living in the United States.” What the hell does that mean? In other words, they are saying: “Uh, yeah sure we’re spying on you, but we won’t use it against you in any way, we promise.” They don’t even need those guys in the movies in the “Jim’s Flowers” van anymore, they can just kick back, relax, and read all your emails from the comfort of their own home!

Even prior to the startling admission that major companies like Microsoft, Yahoo, Google and Facebook were freely giving information to the government when “pressured”, I may have been somewhat paranoid when it comes to online information. I try to stay low profile, not sending anything on Facebook or in an email that contains personal data (let alone credit card numbers like some other crazy people out there!) I also avoid social media except when it is absolutely necessary, preferring instead to use the little-remembered concept known in the 19th century as “speech” as my main form of communication.

Nonetheless, I must admit that I have Twitter and Facebook accounts, and a Tumblr page. In a few days I plan to remove myself from all of these services, but in the meantime I am trying to explain to both my friends and business associates why I am doing so . . . and sadly, the only way to share my message of change far and wide without having to tell the same story over and over is to use those same websites that I plan to remove myself from!

So Mr.Capitalism, this brings me to my question: in the world that we have created, is it possible to remove yourself from social media and the blogosphere entirely? Can one really achieve and sustain a productive social and work life without the usage of these new technologies?

Sadly, I fear that the answer might be no. What we have done is created a world where not only are these media services ‘tools’ to be molded and shifted according to ones beliefs, but rather as necessities, without which you are to be seen as a social pariah, out of touch with reality and the modern world. In that kind of world, everyone must recognize that they are susceptible to this kind of monitoring.

I think your answer can shed a lot of light on this issue since you straddle both sides of the debate: you both fund and supply the surveillance companies with the technological equipment they require AND you fight in the courts for the government to stay out of everyone’s business affairs and personal lives. Thank you for your time, I hope you choose to stand alongside internet activists around the world in choosing to call for greater transparency in governmental programs such as PRISM.

(No name was signed to this letter)

Dear “Anonymous” (like that really exists),

I would like to thank you for your letter, and further would like to let you know that your IP address, social security number and current location have been registered and sent to the proper authorities for analysis.

Just kidding! (Or am I . . .) Dun dun dun.


Rodney’s Post

Dear Mr.Capitalism,

This is Rodney here and I would like to make a complaint. A complaint about America and a complaint about honor and a complaint about decency and a complaint about patriotism. Mostly what I want to complain about is that damn Obama, his military budget cuts and how it affects me: I live in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania and they’ve got rid of my Armed Forces Day festivities. This is absolutely a top 50 yearly outdoor-drunken opportunity that I’m missing out on here!!!

Sometimes you hear about stuff on the news like this military sequestration, but when it really hits home you can see how that Communist and his cabal can hurt regular Americans across this land. The third Saturday of May is sacred for me so I can show much I love this country by going to the local base, saluting the flag, setting up a bunch of lawn chairs and a blanket, cook meat on a grill out of the back of my SUV, and get absolutely trashed. What better way to show the rest of the world that they can’t mess with this great nations of ours?

The core of the US of A is its military, and without it we are nothing. I support our troops, but obviously our joke of a president doesn’t share the same sentiment. Too bad our generals are too patriotic to do what they really should: take the White House back by force and restore the nation to people who care about the regular Joes who fight all over the world. Do something Mr.Capitalism!


Dear Rod,

You are a true patriot and I am proud to call myself American when there are people like you around. By spending all your disposable income on beer and guns, you’re keeping the economy humming like never before—if every American (especially children) took the same initiative, then China wouldn’t stand a chance.

You know, I heard Obama speak on the sequestration the other day

and he keeps focusing on how we spend eleven dollars on the armed forces for every one dollar we spend on education. This might seem unfair to our kids, but the truth of the matter is that bombs are just more expensive than pencils and paper—you have to have priorities. In 2011 we spent $711 billion on the military, which was more than the next 13 countries combined, and every penny of it was well spent.

I’ve also heard complaints from people who clearly aren’t the patriots that Rodney here is, that the reason for the roll back in spending is that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are winding down. The problem with this logic is that, once we are faced with another threat like those looming in North Korea or Syria or Libya or Grenada, (you gotta watch out for this island, you never know when we’ll have to re-invade) we won’t have the man-power or weaponry to fight back effectively. Maybe the president doesn’t know it, but we are still at war with terrorism and the only way to solve the problem is to out-spend everyone by a mile. It’s the American way!

Don’t worry, Rodney, I’m on top of it: I guarantee we’ll have someone in power next time that will know that cutting the military budget is no solution. For now, stage your own rogue-Armed Forces Day celebration this Saturday by raising the biggest flag you can find and burning all the pictures of that Muslim who (temporarily) has control of this great nation. I still have lots of people in good places, trust me.


Wallace’s Second Letter

Dear Mr. Capitalism –

JACK POT BABY! JACK POT! Who said God doesn’t love lawyers and agents? He has sure planted a great big kiss on the head of yours truly, Wallace J. Stone. My head is spinning after the most important news since the coming of Jackie Robinson – we have our gay athlete in the NBA and his name is Jason Collins.

I can’t go into all the details of my involvement but look closely and you’ll see my fingerprints all over this pot of gold. He is black and he is gay. The black part we all knew, the gay part we wondered. Wonder no more. AND HE IS A FREE AGENT, able to sign with any team smart enough, rich enough, brave enough to want him bad enough.

As I so cooly predicted when I last wrote you, teams are now be faced with the most important question of the age: Why didn’t _______________(insert team name) sign him? Are they afraid of gays? Are they in league with the homophobes in bars and dressing rooms?

So far I have lined up dozens of supporters – none of them bidders for his signature on the dotted line you will notice. But what is the limit to what we can ask for when you think about the crowds filling every single arena for every single basketball game in which he plays? Is half a million a game too outrageous?

Think on it – for the first time in the history of the world people will wish they were and black and gay. I am all atingle.

Yours truly,


Dear Wallace my boy,

Good work, good work! I suspected you all along, you ol’ devil you! And such a clean cut boy too, someone who every mother across America would gladly bring home to meet their son! And he went to Stanford, is already rich beyond most people’s wildest dreams (not mine) and he’s well-spoken to boot!

The only mistake you made is that he seems a bit old for this gig, don’t you think? On top of that, something that no one wants to say right now but we all agree upon—Jason Collins really sucks at basketball. At best he’s a third-string center who was just hanging on for dear life to stay in the NBA. Nonetheless, the first openly gay player might as well be someone who wasn’t very good since he’ll get tons of media attention in any case . . . and then Wallace, you can hit them hard the next time: a superstar! Someone who people have actually heard of before the annoucement! Someone who people previously purchased the jersey of and know what they look like. It will just keep building and building!

In any case, he’s not a no one anymore! Not only a smart marketing move for the two of you, but he’s going to make big cash on his upcoming salaries alone! And if one of those teams say they don’t want him, you can always sue for discrimination! Bonus!

Cross-promotions, as we discussed last time, will be key. Since he’s going to be with a new team in any case (although he’s played for practically every franchise already!) we need to include some sort of uniform change to go along with the signing. Perhaps rainbow-jerseys or an in-arena pride parade before every game.

Jason Collins, you are a truly courageous man: you had the fortitude to stand up, realize your playing career was almost over, and you came up with a way to make more cash in your waning playing-days than you ever did for your actual basketball skill. Now that’s capitalism!


T’Shaun’s Letter

Dear Mr.Capitalism,

My name is T’Shaun and I live in Flatbush. I just have a little to say about what’s been going on in Brooklyn these past couple of weeks.

For some background, on March 9th a 16-year old boy, Kimani “Kiki” Gray, was shot by police seven times and killed. I didn’t know the kid, but I live in the area, and have been to all the protests/uprisings/whatever you want to call them, and attended the funeral a few days back. Here’s my take on the situation from someone who was on the ground:

The facts of the incident are pretty straightforward and play out just like pretty much every time there is an occurrence of this sort: cop approaches a kid, there’s a confrontation, kid gets shot, cop gets suspension WITH pay. Afterwards, cop uses vague words like “suspicious” or “questionable” and alleges that the kid has a gun or knife, (which then turns out to be a wallet or a phone) and the press blames the whole thing on the victim. Case closed.

In this particular scenario there was a twist, in that the cops were undercover, plainclothes and driving an unmarked car. On top of that, they never identified themselves as they approached the group of kids that Kimani was hanging out with, despite how late in the evening it was. The rest fits the regular profile–Kimani was shot seven times, twice in the back, and was murdered on the street. Both of the cops involved in the case had been accused in prior incidents for illegally accosting people with no cause—they were never charged, however, as is always the case with the NYPD and virtually every other police force.

What happened next was no less than revolutionary. At a vigil two days after the killing, other young Flatbush residents decided that the status quo was not enough and they began, en masse, to confront the cops about their violent role in their community. By March 13th, the streets were full of black militants (NOT a bunch of white activists as the bullshit press and local centrist politicians claim) speaking out against the oppression in their neighborhoods. Since then, bottles have been thrown at cops, there have been dozens of arrests and the white activist community has indeed joined in an uneasy alliance with the black and Latino kids who started the whole thing in the first place. (Not uneasy because we aren’t fighting for similar things, but rather because there is still a deep, unspoken racism that pervades ALL of American society, including whites who are politically motivated. I hung out with some of these folks, they seemed pretty nice, but they were quite happy to find out I was a college student, that made them relax a whole lot.)

Having a bigger group of people is obviously important for change, but remembering that we started this thing and aren’t going to take directions from people who don’t live in our communities is equally important. Solidarity yes, but we need to remember who got the fire going: the people who are being beaten down not just by the system, but by the cops in front of our homes too.

So my question for you is this, Mr.Capitalism: are you scared?

Dear Shaun,

Am I scared? Of a bunch of poor black kids throwing some bottles at the most heavily armed police force in the history of the US? Scared when we’ve already locked up 2 million people and are building more prisons to house you and all of your delinquent friends for the next 100 years? Was I scared of Martin Luther King? Of Malcolm X? The Black Panthers?

I say this to you niggers people: I am not scared of you nor will I ever be. I know that the cops are here for me, to defend my property and my rights, not to protect your right to protest. That’s something they did in the sixties, didn’t we get rid of all that years ago? Stop wasting your time, go out and buy some shoes or some smart phones or whatever distracts you, that’s why we came up with all this stuff in the first place!

If you rebel, we will crush you. Beat you at your rallies, slander you in the press that I own, and shoot you in the streets if we have to. I’ll also make sure to pay off your leaders to call for “reform” or “peace,” and then once the whole thing has blown over, I’ll punish anyone who so much as suggested insurrection.

Plus, like any self-respecting businessman, I have a whole army of mercenaries at the ready. They walk me from my house to my car, from my car to my office, and then home again at the end of the day. Does that sound like someone who is scared? Cautious maybe, you know I don’t want to take any chances, but I’m not gonna be scared of you.

If all else fails, I’ll cry “law and order,” the middle class always buy that one, then I’ll flood the streets with thousands more cops and wipe you off the face of the Earth.

So, wanna call a truce?