Saturday, December 15, 2018

The history of a very racist country

December 13


GUEST: Paul Bermanzohn, psychiatrist, social activist and survivor of the 1979 Greensboro Massacre, talks about the use of racism to block labor organizing and impede the liberation of African Americans.

Survivors of 1979 Greensboro Massacre Testify

Paul and I had an interesting discussion on racism and capitalism. I went to his house and realized quite soon how different a personal interview is. On the phone, I can review my notes as we speak. In person, I can't really take my eyes off the person I am interviewing.

I make extensive notes before each interview, so I knew some of the questions I had planned. But since I couldn't  take the time to read my notes, there were questions that got omitted.

I also hadn't planned to get into the specifics of the Greensboro Massacre itself. Paul is a committed activist who has spent his life thinking and writing about racism in America. He was badly wounded in the KKK attack. My last interview with Paul had skirted the issue of his own injuries and suffering.

His parents were Holocaust survivors, and he told me that he began his interest in racism at the age of three. Greensboro was the first time in US history that the KKK and the Nazi Party had worked together in a terrorist attack. And the event had heralded a new era of armed extremists doing the bidding of corporate America. Paul sees the attack as planned by elements of the police and the factory owners to thwart an integrated union of plant workers.

Paul doesn't like to talk about fascism, and prefers concrete examples of racism directed at various minorities as they attempt to fight discrimination and unionize. I am not sure I agree. I think that fascism defines a deep seated tendency of some people to glorify power and the militarism that is often its source. It is the devotion to authority and the willingness to do what one is told, despite the murder it often entails. Maybe fascism is the opposite of love. Certainly established religions talk about love all the time, while they thrive on a system of worshiping the "divine."

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Saving the planet and the "business party"

December 6


GUEST: Steve Greenfield, long time activist, member of the New Paltz Fire Department, and Green Party Congressional Candidate for the NY-19th District, talks about the role of race in this election and why his candidacy did better with conservative voters than more liberal ones.

Thanks for supporting my campaign

Some progressive candidates did win, and time will tell whether the corporate fed, mainstream Democrats will succeed in sabotaging meaningful change. Pelosi's backroom deals to block universal healthcare are only one example.

So how does the system really change? Corporate Democrats have to be challenged in every primary. The Green Party should fight for greater recognition, given the fact that its platform is what a majority of Americans want for their country. Finally, progressive movements have to divorce themselves from the corporate controlled parties and apply pressure pressure even when there is no election on the immediate horizon. The thousands of young people protesting environmental sellouts in our nation's capital have to expand to hundreds of thousands. Saving the planet won't be accomplished by the "business party."

Steve's focus on a Green New Deal, and his comments on the use of racism in the 19th District help the reform process take hold. Read his letter above thanking his supporters. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

A weapon against the powerful and privileged

GUEST: DeeDee Halleck, media activist, founder of Paper Tiger TV, co-founder of Deep Dish TV and Democracy Now! Television, and Professor Emerita in the Department of Communication at the University of California, San Diego, talks about her upcoming Supreme Court case, Manhattan Community Access Corp. v. Halleck.

DeeDee Halleck

It was a pleasure having DeeDee Halleck on the show. Her belief in the video camera as a revolutionary tool has made her an important pioneer in using technology to achieve social change.

She was the right person to have on our side a decade ago in Kingston, NY, when she filmed our small, Palestinian rights group being told that the park was "closed for the day." According to the police, the park had been rented out for Israel Day, and our flyers were against the law.

"Even on the sidewalk?" we asked the sergeant.

"There you are blocking business," we were told.

We watched DeeDee's tape over and over again, and finally sought out a lawyer who would take the case. When it came down to a trial in Albany, we had all our witnesses ready. But the video DeeDee had made was too damming, and at the last minute, the lawyer for the city of Kingston offered us about $25,000 to settle the case. Our group, Middle East Crisis Response http://www.mideastcrisis.org was funded for the next ten years!

Justice sometimes comes when wrongs are documented on tape. Technology becomes the guaranteer of truth, a weapon against the powerful and privileged who often lie through their teeth.