Wednesday, February 22, 2017

True peace that comes from justice

GUEST: Jamal Joseph, American writer, director, poet, activist, college professor, and former member of the Black Panther Party and Black Liberation Army, talks about his new film, Chapter & Verse: A Harlem Story.

I really enjoyed this discussion with Jamal Joseph. His life, of course, exceeds even the aspirations of his film characters: Black Panther, prisoner, and finally filmmaker and college professor. 

Was his view of the world wrong as a Black Panther? It doesn't seem as if his politics have changed that much, just his tactics for fighting racism and social injustice. Jamal suggested that I read Malcolm X's talk at Oxford University. Here is the speech in full.

The movie, according to Jamal, was made to reflect Black experiences in the United States, not to point out what whites should be doing about it. That was a response to my question about why the film didn't show more of the racism and social injustice that has left people of color at the bottom of our economic system. 

White people watching Jamal's film will be aware of the forces that have diminished Black Peoples' chances of success: the segregated neighborhoods, the lucrative prison/industrial complex, and the long history of racial injustice. Here is how Black People in Harlem cope, and how they find meaning in a system that has perpetually kept them down. In fact, the white people in Chapter and Verse are for the most part kind and trustworthy. It is the racist system that is broken in this county, and both whites and Blacks must join forces to fix it if we are going to have the true peace that comes from justice.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Small communities rise to the occasion

GUEST: Sarah van Gelder, co-founder and editor-at-large of YES! magazine, talks about her brand new book: The Revolution Where You Live: Stories from a 12,000-Mile Journey Through a New America.

This gem of a book takes a quick look at many small revolutions that are happening in America. Each emphasis is slightly different, but they all involve some sort of local community building. Are you reading this on a computer? Well, according to Sarah, you are not really a part of this movement until you are working shoulder to shoulder with those down the block or on the next floor of the local factory. Decisions are made collectively and courage begets more courage in these miniature, alternative worlds. 

Can enough people of the US begin acting outside of the capitalist juggernaut to really make a difference. It is too soon to judge that, since education is really the first step. Let enough workers know how the system works, and someday the corporate owned, two party system grinds to a halt. 

A nightmare, or a chance for small communities to rise to the occasion through farming and manufacturing co-ops that take care of most local needs? Whatever the chances of success, these mostly rural initiatives show us how to start chipping away at the empire's endless wars and wanton destruction of our collective planet. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

A way to support Israel without accepting Zionism

GUEST: Alice Rothchild, obstetrician-gynecologist, human rights activist and writer, talks about her new book Condition Critical: Life and Death in Israel/Palestine.

Dr. Alice Rothchild helps us all look at what Israel has become, a violent and racist state. She does this by writing about those who suffer from the illegal occupation, the Palestinians.

She also offers hope. Although the establishment Jewish religion in the US supports almost everything the Israelis do, a younger generation of Jews do not want the apartheid state to define their cultural and religious identity.

How can the religion support human rights, and at the same time defend Israel's continued occupation of Palestinian lands? Dr. Rothchild cites PTSD from the Holocaust. The older generation who lived through the Nazi genocide can't really come to terms with what Israel has become. "Progressive except for Israel" is a symptom of fearful and dysfunctional thinking. Groups like Jewish Voice for Peace offer a way to support Israel without accepting Zionism with its ethnic cleansing and racist brutality.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Going beyond mainstream sources

GUEST: Deirdre Griswold, co-founder of the Workers World Party and long time editor of its weekly newspaper, talks about US aggression in Asia and its decades long effects on Korea.

How narrow the political discourse is in the US. With all the talk about how terrible Trump is and how he is threatening our "free press," we often overlook the fact that our media is already hopelessly compromised by establishment thinking.

That is why guests like Deirdre Griswold are so important to a real political debate. What is the reality of the US involvement in Korea since World War II? Have we supported dictators and covered up political suppression and even massacres? Is the Pentagon trying to start another war between the north and south? And what do the Korean people want?

You won't know the answer to any of these questions if you read The New York Times. There are certain types of stories that our newspaper of record consistently distorts to fit the needs of our hidden empire. Coverage of Cuba, Venezuela, Iran and Korea is worse than inadequate; it is simply state propaganda.

Do I agree with Workers World and its take Korean history? I spent a year there in the US Army, so I try to follow Korea closely, reading every article I can. I think that Ms. Griswold's analysis is much closer to the truth than anything I have read in the US media. That's not to say I agree with everything. But to be informed, one needs to be exposed to a variety of opinions, something that is not very easy unless you read alternative media. The search for truth about the US empire requires going beyond mainstream sources. 

Friday, January 20, 2017

Open your refrigerator

GUEST: Mariel Fiori, a professional journalist from Argentina and co-founder / managing editor of La Voz, a Spanish magazine distributed in the Hudson Valley, talks about the needs and rights of the Latino community in the age of Trump.

We had an interesting discussion with Mariel Fiori. Fighting for Latino rights, according to her, means providing critical information to those scared of being deported. That is why La Voz is only printed in Spanish, although some of the stories get translated on the magazines website. 

We did get into her defense of immigrant populations. "Open your refrigerator and tell me what would be there if everyone was sent back," she said. Immigrants, legal and illegal bring value to the communities where they live. They should not live their lives in fear.

The interview helped me understand how sanctuary is the forefront of immigrant rights in the US. Nearby Kingston, NY just declared itself a "sanctuary city," so the resistance to Trump's racist and fascist regime has already begun!

On another topic, Activist Radio is proud to be included on the Progressive Radio Network every Sunday from 5 - 6 pm. Join us there, and take a look at the many other great programs on the network. 

Friday, January 13, 2017

A common narrative

GUEST: Eitan Bronstein, founder of the NGO Zochrot, co-author of "Nakba" in Hebrew, and co-creator of the De-Colonizer website, talks about his personal journey of decolonizing his identity as an Israeli.

Eitan's research fit perfectly into one of the themes in this program: the privilege of doing the right thing.

Eitan is an Israeli who insists that his people acknowledge how the the Jewish state was born, by ethnic cleansing. 

Will our country ever acknowledge the ethnic cleansing and genocide visited on our Native American populations? Or the centuries of slavery and Jim Crow that forced Black people into brutalized and marginalized lives? If we are to be free, of course, we must be honest. Liars are never free from the fear of being exposed, and the American Empire is the most fearful nation on earth. 

So we. like Eitan, will continue speaking truth to power. Only by crafting a common narrative can there be peace. And let's face it, our future is either going to be peace or annihilation.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Send in the gunships!

GUEST: Sara Flounders, co-director of the International Action Center, writer for the Workers World newspaper, and organizer of mass rallies against imperialism, talks about the US "Pivot to Asia" and the threat of war in coming years.

Was it too much of a stretch talking about the Opium Wars to describe what the US wants from China today? 

Sara spent several minutes describing how European gunships forced China to accept the opium trade in the middle 1800's by signing treaties giving sovereignty to Western nations. The US military buildup in the South China Sea might be seen as a similar attempt by the US to control China's trade. We are looking at a century and a half of attempts to dominate China, something our media would never remind its readers of.

Why now for renewed US imperialism in the region? "Free trade" has always meant the right to dictate terms favorable to Western powers. The right to sell opium to the Chinese in exchange for silk, spices, and precious metals was won through military force, with Western gunboats patrolling China's major rivers. The introduction of opium had already devastated large areas of China, but to the Western powers, any trade that benefited their corporations was morally justified. 

So the "pivot to Asia" is really old news. China is asserting the right to trade with the rest of the world without Western intervention. Send in the gunships!

US aggression, however, is a dangerous provocation when both countries are armed with nuclear weapons.