March 6, 2021

Our everlasting complacency

March 4

GUEST: James Jordan, National Co-Coordinator for the Alliance for Global Justice and organizer for its Colombia, labor, and ecological solidarity programs talks about the US interference in Colombia and Venezuela under the cover of international labor solidarity.

As Violence Rises, Can Colombia’s Peace Endure?

James Jordan reviewed the long history of US aggression in Latin America. Maybe we should start with what countries have escaped US backed assassinations or outright US coups over the last century. Looking at recent history obscures that fact that the US has been running most of these countries since the 1850s. 

So my challenge is pick a Latin American country and read some history. How many times has the US sent gunboats, mined their harbors, dropped bombs on them, or sent US troops to invade and occupy them? 

And the motivation behind this carnage? Why profits for the major US corporations, of course. In the words of Major General Smedley Butler, at the time of his death, the most decorated Marine in U.S. history: 

I spent thirty-three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country's most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle-man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.

More specifically, General Butler identified conflicts in which he "served" the rich elite of his time:

I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.

What is missing from this picture is how we citizens of the US can go on believing the lies, generation after generation. James Jordan wants to tell us the specifics about this age. He wants to talk about the role of greedy corporations in destroying the lives of millions of people south of our boarder. But we read the "Alliance for Global Justice" newsletter at our own peril. That is if we dare to learn about Venezuela, Honduras, Nicaragua, Columbia and Haiti. Our tax dollars are a big part of this story. That and our everlasting complacency.    



March 4, 2021

Courtney's photographs point the way

February 25

GUEST: Andrew Courtney, fine arts photographer, social justice activist, and teacher, who has documented life in Viet Nam, Central America, South Africa, Northern Ireland, the Middle East and the streets of the United States, talks about his work in areas of the world struggling for survival, independence and self-determination.

Andrew Courtney Portraits and Social Networks

Our country doesn't know its history, its racist history within the US and its imperialist history in the Third World. We remain ignorant until an artist like Andrew Courtney shows us images that don't quite fit with our comfortable misconceptions. 

Courtney has traveled to many of the places that our country has destroyed in its quest for dominance and proHow the CIA Helped to Crush Turkey’s Post-War Leftfit. We see pictures of Cuba, Venezuela and Palestine that make us want to know more. Are we responsible for the poverty and suffering that many of the images portray? 

Try reading about what the empire did to one country. CounterPunch recently reviewed the US violence directed at Turkey since World War II. The democratic leaders overthrown, the covert bombings and killings that insured US dominance over the decades. Almost any Third World country has a similar story, one that is hidden from us by our corporate controlled media and comatose educational system. 

Courtney's photographs point the way. Read about the role of the CIA in Turkey, and start to free your mind: "How the CIA Helped to Crush Turkey’s Post-War Left."


February 20, 2021

Completely reconfigure what police do in our society

February 18

GUEST: Michael Sussman, former Trial Attorney for the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice and former Assistant General Counsel for the NAACP, talks about reforming police policies as well as his long career fighting racism and discrimination.

Attorneys and residents criticize police reform process

Most white people have not worried too much about the police. That is unless they have been part of a political group not favored by the rich elite and their powerful corporations. Those who have marched against US wars in Vietnam, Panama, Afghanistan, and Iraq know the nation's police a little better. So do various animal rights advocates who have been targeted as domestic terrorists. Those questioning US wars in Latin America know how the nation's top cops, the FBI, operate to spy on and entrap activists. So some whites know what law enforcement abuses can be like.

But living as a Black person in America is a whole different story. Just walking down the street can get you killed. A broken taillight can get you beaten and hauled off to jail. Many cops are deeply racist, full of pent up rage agains people who don't look like them.

There is an interesting book called The Kidnapping Club: Wall Street, Slavery, and Resistance on the Eve of the Civil War. This well researched work explores Tammany Hall, Wall Street, and the origins of anti Black prejudice in the NYPD. The Democratic Party of the 1840s relied on stoking anti Black hatred among the waves of newly arrived immigrants, mostly the Irish. Wall Street encouraged this prejudice because Black and white abolitionists of the day threatened the newly created fortunes based on Southern cotton and slave labor. Much of the actual kidnapping of freed Black citizens were done by the Irish police, not to mentioned the periodic assaults on Black businesses. The NYPD was Wall Street's enforcer, and the whole system was run by an utterly corrupt Tammany Hall. Police in this country have a long history of racially based violence.

Michael Sussman has spent his career exposing and winning compensation for the victims of police crimes. But good civil rights lawyers are simply not the answer. We have to completely reconfigure what police do in our society. The police must simply stop serving the very rich, and become part of the communities that they are hired to protect. 


Oligarchy slides very easily into fascism

February 11

GUEST: Thom Hartmann, top rated progressive national and internationally syndicated talk show host and New York Times bestselling author of over 30 books, talks about his recently published work, The Hidden History of American Oligarchy - Reclaiming Our Democracy from The Ruling Class.

The Hidden History of American Oligarchy

This is Thom Hartmann's second interview on Activist Radio. His books are an invaluable resource, both for those just learning the hidden history of our country, and for those who have spent a lifetime talking about injustice and inequality in our supposedly democratic society.

I highly recommend Hartman's newest book, The Hidden History of American Oligarchy, because it explains in plain terms just how the very rich have triumphed in our new Gilded Age. 

Mark Twain wrote a novel called  The Gilded Age in the late 1800s. It is full of greedy characters, as well as poor rubes being taken for a ride. It is not his best book, and was even cowritten by another author. But it rings true today. There is nothing like lack of education and poverty to bring out the worst in some people. And the very worst can be seen today, in pictures of the mob that roamed the halls of our Congress looking for things to smash. Racism, poverty, and thievery at the top may well bring down our democracy, for oligarchy slides very easily into fascism. 

February 11, 2021

In every Proud Boy's heart

February 4

GUEST: Dr. Caroline Janney, Professor of the American Civil War, Director of the John L. Nau Center for Civil War History at the University of Virginia, and author  of five books, talks about the power of "lost causes" and how our country can overcome racism and white nationalism. 

History of the American Civil War

The shocking events that happened to the United States this January 6 had many historical precedents. The problem is that most Americans simply aren't aware of them. Take the festering racism that is at the core of any colonial enterprise. Native Americans and Black slaves have always been disposable when there was land to be had or money to be made. 

The recent successes of the Black Lives Matter movement was sure to provoke a white nationalist backlash, the same as it always has before. Turning the loss of white privilege into political power is something that a leader like Trump was able to do quite easily. 

Do we as a nation simply impeach Trump and go on with our lives? Or do we look at the combination of white nationalism, lost causes and gross income disparity and decide to heal our society? Some of the pillars of our republic are rotting and need replacing. Swapping a ridiculous fascist for an agreeable neoliberal will only delay things for another four years. In the meantime, we live in a society rife with violence and economic injustice. We live in a country that has been at war with the Third World for the last two decades. 

Dr. Janney suggests that past mistakes have always informed our national present. We opened our emerging colony up to slavery 400 years ago. That lingering racism is still in our DNA, doing its dirty work in every Proud Boy's heart. 



February 7, 2021

To preserve itself and its filthy system of racist exploitation

January 28

GUESTS: Leena Al-Arian, Executive Director of the Coalition for Civil Freedoms, and Zaira Abu Baker, the daughter of Shukri Abu Baker who was horrifically sentenced to 65 years for providing charity to Palestinians, talk about the criminal justice system's assault on Muslims families in the United States.

Demanding Justice for the Holy Land Five

It is difficult talking about the Holy Land Five. Their convictions for running a Palestinian charity are one of the worst examples of American cynicism when it comes to our criminal justice system. For people of Arab descent, it is all show and no substance. Their trial was a travesty of prosecutorial misconduct and judicial prejudice. It will eventually be put in our history books, along with other sinister examples of the empire's flagrant violations of human rights. In the meantime, The Holy Land Five sit in federal penitentiaries, isolated from their families and the outside world for the rest of their lives. 

Read Injustice: The Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five written by a former Israeli Defense Force member, Miko Peled. Then see if you can forget what our country has done to these men. Maybe it is because I am a former soldier myself, having spent a year in one of America's long term colonies, Korea. Occupations are mostly all the same. People who are being occupied are treated like dirt until they finally free themselves from foreign armies. Israel treats its subjugated Palestinians in the same way, with ethnic cleansing thrown in. 

And the US treats Arabs the same way even when they are American citizens. It doesn't matter to the empire what country you belong to, or even how innocent you might be. There are no laws for the empire; it destroys whole civilizations to preserve itself and its filthy system of racist exploitation. 

January 22, 2021

Enforcers of the new Republican Party

January 21

GUEST: Heather Hurwitz, Activist, lecturer of Sociology and feminist scholar at Case Western Reserve University and author of Are We the 99%? The Occupy Movement, Feminism, and Intersectionality, talks about what happened to Occupy and why the movement is still so important.

Heather Hurwitz on the lessons of Occupy

Are We the 99%?

Heather Hurwitz explores diversity and activism in new book

Talking to Heather and reading her book helped me view Occupy with a different prospective. While it is true that leadership in Occupy sometimes mirrored the inequalities of our broader society, the gains in social justice far outweighed these drawbacks. 

In fact, women's rights, Black Lives, and LGBTQ justice have made immeasurable gains in the years that have followed. One could argue that Trump and his band of Brown Shirt goons were directly related to the new society that Occupy was so successful in envisioning. Like Nixon after the Hippie and African American rebellions of the 1960s, Trump came to office ready to fly the flag of hared and white nationalism. Trump was the more dangerous fascist, willing to risk instigating a violent coup to overturn a presidential election. 

Reading Heather Hurwitz's new book will help the left do it even better next time. Our revolution has to be nonviolent, and it has to appeal to the nation's disempowered whites, who are now being used as the Brown Shirt enforcers of the new Republican Party.