Monday, July 24, 2017

Get rid of it; it is your right

GUEST: Harvey J Kaye, Professor of Democracy and Justice Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and award-winning author of numerous books, including Thomas Paine and the Promise of America, and his newest book, The Fight for the Four Freedoms: What Made FDR and the Greatest Generation Truly Great, talks about the need to rediscover our radical roots.

Rediscovering our roots doesn't sound that radical unless one begins to understand the revolutionary thought that produced the United States of America. 

In a way, our revolution was more a template than permanent way to govern. Try again if things aren't working out says our Declaration of Independence. Your rights come first; discard any rule or government that doesn't live up to your radical expectations. 

Harvey Kaye reminds us that positive changes in American history have always harkened back to these ideas. And it is only because most citizens don't quite understand how dangerous these ideas are that the corrupt leaders of today are able to manipulate both parties and most the media to favor the very richest. The Declaration of Independence has one answer to the kleptocracy that we find ourselves ruled by in this century. Get rid of it; it is your right.


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Leaving us all vulnerable

GUEST: Alex Beauchamp, Northeast Region Director at Food & Water Watch who has worked on issues related to fracking, factory farms, genetic engineering, and water privatization, talks to us about the Cuomo Tax, the billion dollar giveaway to the nuclear energy industry.

Alex took us through the recent history of nuclear energy in New York State. This latest ripoff of the citizenry has a long history of the very rich determining the very worst and most expensive of energy policies for the rest of us. Nuclear power never really made any sense. Not even the immense problem of nuclear waste was addressed, leaving time bombs where nuclear plants are closed down.

Giving billions more to the nuclear industry so that aged plants can last another 20 years is ludicrous public policy. The giveaway will slow down the transition to renewable energy as well. Incentives for  wind and solar will suffer, bringing the specter of global warming ever nearer.

Our political leaders don't care. They just do what the billionaires tell them to. It is an insane system, of course. A failure of our species to adapt, leaving us all vulnerable if not doomed. Too clever by half.

Can the US be far behind?

GUEST: Andy Clarno, assistant professor of sociology and African American studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago, talks about his new book, Neoliberal Apartheid, Palestine/Israel and South Africa After 1994 that explores racism, capitalism, colonialism, and empire in the early 21st century, with a focus on the relationship between marginalization and securitization.

Sharon, who is from South Africa, helped me with this interview. I hadn't put neoliberal with apartheid, and certainly didn't know the reasons that South Africa remained mired in extreme poverty even after Black Africans had "won their freedom."

The book is a page turner in that it pulls you into aspects of neoliberalism that you hadn't considered. Could it be that all three societies, South Africa, Israel, and the United States will end up with a tiny percentage on the very top, supported and maintained by a huge security force. It is a dystopian vision, but one that we now see emerging in all three countries. 

The role of the oppressed in joining and protecting this gross division between the halves and the have nots is another interesting consideration. South African Blacks without jobs join security firms to protect the very rich. Palestinian security forces make up a good deal of the repressive apparatus that keeps an occupied people subservient. Can the US be far behind?

Friday, June 23, 2017

The truly ugly part

GUEST: Dr. Reza Mansoor, cardiologist, past president of the Islamic Council of New England, and author of Stigmatized: From 9/11 to Trump and Beyond, talks about his work in combating racial hatreds.

Dr. Reza Mansoor is an articulate and compassionate person. Like all true leaders, he refuses to channel hatred, but instead talks of love and understanding.

I asked several questions about his reluctance to consider the role of the United States in the Middle East. Our country has devastated the region, killing millions and driving many more from their homes. It is, of course, the Project for the New American Century, a plan of global domination drafted during the Clinton presidency. 

The current focus on "reforming" Islam is nothing more than a sham. It's like blaming Blacks in America for being shot by racist, white cops. Did Dr. Mansoor feel that this was a good subject to bring up in his talks about racism?

He didn't deny the role of the United States in creating the bloodbath that is the Middle East. But he said that he preferred to reach out rather than blame the American people.

Muslims constitute about one percent of the US population. Maybe speaking truth to power would enflame the American public even more than the racist language coming from our current president and ruling class. Or maybe it is time to fight back and identify the racist elements in our foreign and domestic policy that have enraged a generation of the world's Muslims. 

I don't know the answer. The United States is not above the neoliberal apartheid inflicted on Blacks, Native Americans and other vulnerable minorities. I do know that it must be hard for people like Dr. Mansoor to keep his civility when attacked for his faith. From that I hear, his talk at the Woodstock Jewish Center was not particularly easy, with several in the audience expressing islamophobic sentiments. That brings us to the truly ugly part of this type of racism, the role of the Israel Lobby and many in the Jewish religious community in promoting race hatred in America. 


Explaining to grandchildren

GUEST: Alice Rothchild, obstetrician-gynecologist, Palestinian human rights activist and writer, talks about the making of her new movie: "Voices Across the Divide."

This interview was done by Sharon, our first Activist Radio field reporter. 

Eli and I sat in the WVKR studio spellbound by the interview. Both women were so articulate in conveying the grief and suffering of the Palestinian people during their 50 years of Israeli occupation. 

Oppression leaves lasting scars, even for those who manage to emigrate to a foreign country. But for the Palestinians still there, life is an unremitting series of humiliation and deprivation. The fact that the United States supports this racist atrocity, the longest running apartheid in the world, will be our country's lasting shame. Many of my ancestors were German, and I know what it is like questioning the morality and even the humanity of my own people. How did the Germans do what they did? How did a society become so debased as to commit genocide? 

The genocide of the Palestinian people is fostered and encouraged by the United States. Our tax dollars buy the guns, the cluster bombs, the white phosphorus, and the illegal settlements in the West Bank. Explain that to your grandchildren if you can.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Women and men fighting back

GUEST: Donna Goodman, long time peace and justice activist in New York’s Hudson Valley, talks about her new book: Women Fight Back: The centuries-long struggle for liberation.

Both Eli and I know Donna well and enjoyed reading her book. How much of women's history I didn't know. 

The history, of course, helps us understand the current fight for women's rights. Will reproductive rights take a back seat to expressing women's desire to express their own sexuality? Reading Donna's book helps us understand the current direction of the resistance. 

Expect to go beyond neoliberalism in considering alternatives that promote better social justice outcomes. But our listeners are ready for that. Donna's analysis isn't full of feel good proclamations, but enables the reader to fully understand how women and men must fight back. 


Monday, May 22, 2017

Gracious with her time

GUEST: Aliya, college student and a leader of Students for Justice in Palestine at Bard College, talks about the challenges of advocating for Palestinian human rights on campus.

I had done this interview at Bard College right after a Students for Justice in Palestine event. Aliya was gracious with her time (she was taking the two filmmakers out to dinner that night). She was also gracious with her college and her country.

Aliya holds a fervent belief that the human rights of the Palestinians will eventually be upheld. To advocate for the rights of millions being ethnically cleansed from their homeland is simply the right thing to do. Her college will see that, as will her country.

I am not as sure. The colonialism and racism of our current system of government has been with us for a long time. Israel is part of our occupation on the Middle East. Billions depend on it. The oil companies and weapons makers will never sacrifice their profits to do the right thing.

Maybe that is the difference in our ages. Aliya is in her first year of college. I thought the world was changing in the 1960's. Now I see that such changes may not come in my lifetime. But what we do share is a determination to continue the struggle for human rights, believing like MLK that the arc of all life on earth bends toward justice.