Incarceration Nation

Fearing for Tom Turkey

By Lynne Stewart

Tom is the live Thanksgiving1 Turkey donated to the White House for the dinner. And every year since he has taken office, Obama has pardoned him. I am afraid for the poor bird this year since this same President does not seem to have it in his heart or intellect to understand the true nature of mercy to be shown to birds, not to mention human beings.

While the government opens and closes and the debt ceiling rises and falls, thousands in the federal prisons are awaiting the fateful word on whether their requests for release, based on terminal illness, age, loss of ability to function, extended sentence and simple justice to undo evils of the past, will be granted or not. This suffering humanity is only to be compared to the WWII prison camps and the death and destruction of the endless wars. We have only empty words of Attorney General Holder about intentions—no concrete actions. We have a report from the Inspector General’s office citing compassionate release as “cruelty” because so many die before any decision is ever reached. As far as pardons and clemency are concerned—the wait is two to three years and Obama has exercised his “ benign prerogative” only 39 times. The despised Reagan and Bush both did ten and three times as many. So all of you (us) who voted Obama as being the lesser of the two evils (which is still evil, remember!) need to hold his forgetful feet to the fire.

But then again, maybe my concern for Tom Turkey is premature. Maybe this austere President will once again do the right thing for the poor bird. After all, he has impressionable children who might be distressed at the slaughter of the Turkey. I just want him to remember all the impressionable children, grandchildren and great grandchildren of the prisoners who are waiting. I have a cousin who has a Turkey farm in Duanesburg, New York. I’m sure Tom would be happy to be there and live out his life with the other turkeys. As for me, I have a family and a shortened life waiting for me in Brooklyn, New York. I, like Tom, would be happy to be there if only the President and his bureaucrats can find the heart.

1 Thanksgiving is not my name for this holiday. Rather as some prominent Native American activists suggest it should be Thanks-taking. And those who fast on this day at Plymouth Rock have my respect, solidarity and esteem.