Saturday, April 21, 2018

Institutionally stunted moral compass

Guest: Ursula Wolfe-Rocca, teacher from Lake Oswego, Oregon and author of several articles including “COINTELPRO: Teaching the FBI’s War on the Black Freedom Movement” and "My So-Called Public School: School Foundations and the Myth of Funding Equity," talks about her latest piece in Common Dreams called: "Disguising Imperialism: How Textbooks Get the Cold War Wrong and Dupe Students."
I was very enthusiastic about this interview. Here is the heart of one of our country's most shameful problems, the fact that we teach the propaganda of imperialism. Whether it is the Pledge of Allegiance said at the beginning of each day, or the Star Spangled Banner played at each school event, our children are indoctrinated at an early age.

Nothing they subsequently learn in middle or high school questions the basic lesson that America is exceptionally strong and just. The teaching of history is particularly important. Students are taught that any moral failures of our country have long since been corrected. Slavery is gone so that problem is solved. The Mexican American War maybe wasn't right, but it helped our mighty country achieved its manifest destiny. And so it goes. Our democracy always corrects itself after; that's just the beauty of our Constitution and our system of government.  

Once a student graduates from high school, the rest is a slow process of discovery. The more one reads US history the less benign it seems. Cointelpro is a good example. The FBI actually has a long history of suppressing free speech. Sometimes that suppression has included assassinating Black or Native American leaders or charging them with crimes they didn't commit. Cointelpro is a good example of the FBI acting like the SS. And the CIA? Little more than an American death squad with unlimited resources, boundless confidence, and an institutionally stunted moral compass. 

So how does a high school teacher reconcile these two worlds? By teaching facts it seems. That gives a teacher like Ursula Wolfe-Rocca some protection. The one area that has remained difficult is teaching about Israel. Of course, Israel is the closest to fascism that our society has come with its unlimited racism, endemic corruption, and unbridled militarism. Israel represents one direction that the American Empire could go in. Let us hope for the world's children that our country eventually rejects the Israeli model.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Progressive except for Palestine

GUESTS: Ally and Paul, political activists and members of Jewish Voice for Peace at Vassar College, talk about Israeli Apartheid Week Apr 13 - 20 and the challenges of running a human rights organization on campus.

I decided to us just use first names after talking about what students at various colleges have gone through as members of organizations like Jewish Voice for Peace and Students for Justice in Palestine. 

The Zionist and their henchmen have been particularly vicious on our nation's college campuses. Imagine if Shell Oil had put up posters around Vassar College charging students working for renewable energy with terrorism? Or created websites so these same students might find it hard getting a job after college? The Israel Lobby is on another level altogether. As one congressional aid said about the lobby when we met with him about Palestinian rights, "They scare me." 

The Zionists just don't have another point of view. They support a fascist and racist state, and must believe to some extent in Israeli tactics. Those tactics include shooting unarmed protesters as we have seen all this last week.

And is it the fear of losing donations that makes colleges allow such assaults on intellectual freedom on their campuses? Instead of defending their students, many colleges have simply betrayed them, throwing Palestinian support groups off campus and even expelling some of their members. Someday, this history of collusion will be written. It will be a shameful chapter, especially for colleges that have presented themselves as bastions of liberal thought. Progressive except for Palestine.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Kleptocratic, two party rule

GUEST: Patrick Martin, long time social justice activist and senior writer on US politics for the World Socialist Web Site, talks about why so many Democratic candidates for the House have backgrounds in the CIA, the military, and the national security state.

The National Security Stare wins big with the Democratic Party. Trying to get away from any Bernie reforms at all, the establishment Dems embrace CIA, NSA, and military candidates for Congress. How could a political party really be any worse than this?

Obama ran from any real reforms while claiming he represented "Hope you can believe in." Could anyone still believe in the Democratic Party, after Bill and Hillary Clinton, and then Obama? Maybe a few wealthy neoliberals. But not the working class of this country. They would have elected Mickey Mouse before watching another sellout pretending to do the peoples' business.

Patrick Martin has done his homework, and his interview was filled with details of the Democratic sellout to the security state. It is interesting, of course, but ultimately sad as well. We are led by malicious and venal people, ever eager to sell out their principals for a few million here and there. The proof is beyond any doubt. If we want to save the planet, we will have to trash the current system of kleptocratic, two party rule.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Awakening of our humanity

GUEST: Eli Kassirer, local peace activist and talk radio host, talks about his trip to Yellowstone National Park with the Buffalo Field Campaign and the  Wild Buffalo Defense group, and shares some interviews he did with environmental  activists protecting wild bison herd.

Buffalo Field Campaign

So nice to have Eli back from Yellowstone. We had a little trouble playing his first interview directly from an iPhone. We finally put it on speakerphone and held it close to the mic. Playing it back, I could hear the interview quite well. He has others, and we are troubleshooting our connection so the quality is better next time.

I'm not going to say too much about Eli's trip. Hopefully, we can put a bunch of pictures on this blog, and broadcast more interviews. It is heartening that people will make this trip out West and spend weeks in fairly primitive cabins to get up early each morning and cross country ski through buffalo territory. Such devotion is the antithesis of what our pioneers ancestors did. The destruction of the buffalo was part of the American genocide of its native peoples. Maybe the current preservation efforts are more than symbolic. They are an awakening of our humanity.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

An anachronism in the age of empire

GUESTS: Eve Madalengoitia (team leader) and Elizabeth Armstrong, members of the Dutchess County Progressive Action Alliance healthcare group, talk about New York State's plan for Single Payer and how it might be enacted.

Dutchess County Progressive Action Alliance

I continue to be impressed by this group. Of course, many of them were Bernie supporters, trying to make there way in Trump's dysfunctional America. The surprising thing is that their answer is not just to elect more Democrats to Congress. They are demanding real progressives, not corporate stooges and multimillionaire politicians.

Nancy Pelosi destroyed the hopes of millions of Americans. So did the likes of Bill Clinton and Obama. Always eager to give up worker rights without a fight, they betrayed the fine rhetoric that got them into office. They were intelligent, well spoken and completely without moral character. Trump sits in a White House already despoiled by charlatans and corporate hacks. Trump is just more honest in his lack of any legitimacy. Serving the people has long been unfashionable, an anachronism in the age of empire and endless war.

Can universal healthcare be won in a corporate controlled state? Or must the entire system be rethought?

The mediocracy of homogenized opinion

GUEST: Jon Queally, managing editor and staff writer for Common Dreams, covering US politics, foreign policy, human rights, and the climate crisis, talks about the role of on-line publications in the resistance.

Common Dreams

Jon Queally is the managing editor of a news service that didn't exist when I was growing up. We only had three TV stations, and they all said pretty much the same thing. There was no real way to check out anything a politician said. It would take you weeks of library work, and people just didn't do it.

Now we have sites like Common Dreams, where every day a reader can get the type of news that corporate America prefers us not to have. The reader can also get the opinions of the best thinkers and writers of the day, ideas that used to be invisible.

Of course, we have the news and opinions of those who work for the top newspapers, like The NYT. But often the news there is slanted, and the opinions tend to reflect the corporate line. That is the old model, where writers and reporters internalize their blinders if they want to get to the top.

Each day, we can free ourselves from the Pentagon's opinions of Iran, North Korea, and Venezuela. We can explore the criticisms of our national security state. We can make the connections between endless war abroad and endless profits for the few. I do read The NYT every day to do Activist Radio. But to be stuck in this mediocracy of homogenized opinion? Sites like Common Dreams just offer us more to think about.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Killing far away and not readily viewable

GUEST: David Swanson, prominent activist and author of numerous books including Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union, War Is a Lie, and War No More: The Case for Abolition, talks about his latest focus, billboards opposing drone assassinations and US war crimes.

Billboards opposing drone wars

How to get people to realize how wrong it is to fly drones into other countries and kill selected individuals or groups? Maybe it is billboards like the ones David Swanson and World Beyond War are putting up.

But we are a numb people, mostly immune to the terrible things our military does in the rest of the world. Like school shootings, we only lift our eyes once in a while from our routine of jobs and children and cutting the front lawn.

Chelsie Manning paid a terrible price for showing us the wanton murders our soldiers were committing in Iraq. You can't look at it and go right back to the lawn.

Collateral Murder: U.S. Apache helicopters killing journalists in Iraq

David didn't think much of my question about drones murdering American citizens (a cleric and a few weeks later, his teenage son). His response that all lives matter sort of misses the point. The rights of US citizens, guaranteed by our Constitution, mean something to most Americans. I think it is a good way to bring attention to drone killings in general. As long as the killing is far away and not readily viewable, Americans have trouble focusing on universal human rights. But we understand due process when it comes to our own rights. Killing an American for his written opinions, and then murdering his son without a trial, on secret evidence, is a violation of citizens' rights that go back to the Magna Carta of 1215:
NO Freeman shall be taken or imprisoned, or be disseised of his Freehold, or Liberties, or free Customs, or be outlawed, or exiled, or any other wise destroyed; nor will We not pass upon him, nor condemn him, but by lawful judgment of his Peers, or by the Law of the land. We will sell to no man, we will not deny or defer to any man either Justice or Right.
It is the basis for our belief in and support of our own government. What a shame to discount these rights of the governed in favor of a vague statement about all of humanity. If we want to change the way American's think about war, we must start with what moves them the most.