Sunday, October 15, 2017

Like fighting any malignant, tenacious disease

GUEST: Peter Heymann, member of The People's Institute for Survival and Beyond and the Anti-Racist Alliance, talks about his Undoing Racism Workshops and the anti-racist structural analysis of educational, corporate and community institutions.

There are surprises to be had when studying racism. The book, "Sundown Towns" reveals how towns all across North America forced their Black populations out, starting in 1890. Another book, "The Color of Law" presents research on how this policy was augmented by local, state and national regulations. Segregation didn't just happen; Blacks were ethnically cleansed. 

Recent studies of Islamophobia reveal the active hand of the Jewish Defense League in spreading hate. The JDL even produced movies equating Muslims with terrorists, and somehow one of these films was used to train police in New York City. 

So racism is complex, with unexpected players. Fighting racism becomes a process of learning the hidden history of our country. And that's before we actually confronts the racism that our culture has implanted in us. Racism from fathers and mothers. Racism from TV shows we have grown up with. Fighting racism is a long term project, like fighting any malignant, tenacious disease.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Palatable to a white majority

GUEST: James Kilgore, college professor, social justice activist, and author of three published novels while he was incarcerated, talks about his latest campaign, Challenging E-Carceration.

It was great having James Kilgore back again, talking about prison reform and e-carceration. 

James reminds us that prison reform won't come through technology, but through a rethinking of racism in America. Of course, we must be aware of the system before we have the moral courage to change it. Racism has long been used by our politicians. Trump is only the latest example. 

Racism, combined with a global crisis of capitalism, puts us in a dangerous time. For the very wealthy to increase their gains, there has to be more and more surveillance and repression. The prison system is built to criminalize poverty and dissent, and racism is the hatred that will make such a system palatable to a white majority. 

Determined to rule the rest of the world

GUEST: Laura Finley, associate professor of sociology and criminology and author of several books on social justice, talks about her current focus on the militarization of police forces in inner city communities.

The price we pay for empire. A society armed to the teeth with weapons and drenched in killing. Gun control is part of the problem. But a society that can somehow justify the killing of millions abroad for corporate profit, is already debased, its humanity already striped away. 

The characteristic that will bring down our species is most apparent in the American Empire and its murderous allies, Saudi Arabia and Israel. High tech combined with corporate greed and unrelenting violence brings about a unique form of fascism. Like the Third Reich, there are no norms, no boundaries for bloodshed. 

Americans are unequally unaware of the empire, even though we pay 700 billion a year to feed the cancer. We grieve our losses, but memories are short, and few see the overarching problem of a country determined to rule the rest of the world at any cost.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Opinions too close to the truth

GUEST: Joel Kovel, psychotherapist, college professor, political activist, and author of many books including Enemy of Nature and Overcoming Zionism, talks about his latest book The Lost Traveller's Dream.

Joel Kovel's most recent book is an adventure story, his own wanderings in an often corrupt and morally bankrupt world. 

Often paying the price for writing opinions too close to the truth, Kovel describes his time at Bard College after his Overcoming Zionism was published. It turns out that Bard, supposedly a bastion of liberal thought along the Hudson River, is a hotbed of Zionist machinations. Where else would one find out how many times the president, Leon Botstein, travelled to Israel in one year (10 times), and who pays the bills when Botstein travels abroad as emissary of American neoliberalism (George Soros). 

William Blake's rarely pleased anyone with his attacks on the Church of England, perhaps the moral tyranny of his day. Like his compatriot, Thomas Paine, his expressions were always too harsh, too damning. Blake, like Paine, wanted to throw off the chains of oppression and didn't care who was insulted by his blazing contradictions. 

Joel Kovel thinks that Zionism is but another tragedy for the Jewish People. He thinks that capitalism will inevitably bring about the end of life on Earth. Not popular opinions, of course. But by presenting the contradictions of American life, we can begin to envision a greater truth. 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Alliances to mute criticism of Israel's apartheid state

GUEST: Donna Nevel, psychologist, educator, writer and long time activist for justice in Palestine and Israel, talks about her Islamophobia training program and the role of the Israel Lobby in spreading racism directed towards Muslims.

Talking to Donna Nevel about American racism is a learning experience. She has thought and written about so many types of discrimination that she can compare and contrast different movements, and even explain their histories.

That is why I am so impressed by her Islamophobia training seminars. Donna is Jewish, but her religion presents no barrier to exposing and attacking racism where it exists. Part of the history of Islamophobia in the US can be traced to Zionist Jewish and Christian groups. Without a full understanding of why the Jewish Defense League pours money into convincing Americans to hate Muslims, we are all powerless to stop this most recent form of racism. 

PEP is the acronym for progressive except for Palestine. Leaving one group out isn't really about human rights at all. It is more about making alliances to mute criticism of Israel's apartheid state. Like  all true progressives, Donna values everyone's rights. Our country desperately needs teachers like Donna Nevel.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Paying my taxes to the empire

GUEST: Robert Piper, Deputy Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and the Humanitarian Coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territory, with the rank of UN Assistant Secretary General, talks about his role in documenting Palestinian suffering under Israeli occupation.

Robert called in from Gaza, where he travels through at least once every week. He knows all the players, so his insights were new and interesting.

He had boundaries, of course. The interview taught me as much about the UN as about Gaza. There were positions that could not be taken, like the fact that Hamas is openly resisting the occupation while the PA, bought and paid for the Israel and the US, is content with being the occupation's boots on the ground.

Israel's vicious military slaughters in Gaza were "conflicts" rather than war crimes, with blame attributed to both sides. Were those Robert's observations, or the what the UN, itself under US financial and military control, is forced to say?

Words like apartheid and genocide were not part of our discussion. Can the UN be more that a reporting agency under these restraints? And can the reports it issues really get to the bottom of Israel's 60 years of occupation and repression? 

Like many of us who work on the left, the acceptance of evil makes us into facilitators rather than agents of change. I like to think that I am free to say what I want on this radio program, and I feel very good about that. I have also paid my taxes to the empire for the last sixty years of Israel's occupation. Perhaps we are all facilitators. 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Neoliberalism in an app

GUEST: Tom Slee, software industry critic and author of several books including No One Makes You Shop at Walmart and more recently, What’s Yours Is Mine, Against the Sharing Economy, talks about Uber, AirB&B, and the destruction of the commons.

Tom led us into an interesting discussion of the "commons," community structures that people create and maintain for the good of all. Sometimes these commons are monetized, leading to a few people getting rich by selling what many others have created.

The Internet seems to have accelerated this process, first promising an enhanced "commons," but in the end destroying how communities really work.

Tom adds a good deal of research to his book, showing how a current lack of regulation accelerates the ripping off of the public good. Hedge funds pour billions in, and CEO's become desperate to make a return on investments by squeezing employees and cutting down on safety requirements. 

In a sense, these Internet corporations have not resulted in more freedom at all. Just a more sophisticated externalizing of costs and maximizing of profits. Neoliberalism in an app.