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.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Racist actors in the drama of apartheid

GUEST: Richard Rothstein, research associate of the Economic Policy Institute and a fellow of the Thurgood Marshall Institute of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, talks about his recently released book, The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America.

Richard Rothstein's book, like James Loewen's Sundown Towns changes the narrative about racism in the United States. Segregation, according to Sundown Towns was mostly done through organized intimidation and violence. Richard Rothstein expands the list of racist actors in the drama of apartheid to include the federal, state and local governments. 

It is a compelling read, history that white people just don't know about. It calls out for a remedy, a legal way to restore our Constitutional rights after decades of racial oppression and injustice.

I think it is amazing the progress the left has made in revealing the structural basis for segregation in our country. All this at the same time as the right wing is stirring up racial hatreds to win elections again. 

We have gone back to the income distribution of the Gilded Age. Who would have thought that we would also be reverting to the blatant racial hostility towards Blacks that characterized the 1890's. It is time for us to march together again for racial justice.




Friday, May 5, 2017

Listening to divergent voices

GUEST: Michael Roberts, London economist, Marxist, and author, talks about the global financial system and his most recent book (written with Guiglelmo Carchedi), The World in Crisis, a compilation of international economists' views on profit and the recurrent crises in global capitalism. Michael Roberts will be a presenter at this year's Left Forum in New York.

Few economists step back and consider the human effects of the policy they study. Marxists do that, so they have become valuable especially in this time of crisis.

But isn't every age a time of crisis? We have certainly seen our share of crises since the Second World War. But only recently have we fully realized that a mistake in policy could be the end of our species. Nuclear war and global warming may not be the most interesting of crises, but both have the potential to be humankind's last. 

Capitalism has become sort of a state religion over the years. Attacking capitalism is like attacking God. It gets you nowhere except investigated by the thought police. But what if capitalism is the problem? What if neoliberalism is the "spiritual death” that MLK warned us about? And what developed country in the world spends a greater amount on "military defense" and a smaller amount on "programs of social uplift"?

A continuation of our species relies now on those who are, in MLK's terms, "the creatively maladjusted." Not on the super rich. Not on the intellectuals who fashion their analysis for money or position (think Paul Krugman coming out for Hillary Clinton). We have to listen to divergent voices to still have a chance.