March 19, 2015

Children of his rainbow race

GUEST: Wes Brain, retired member of SEIU#503 and organizer with Southern Oregon Jobs with Justice, talks about his weekly radio program in Southern Oregon called The Brain Labor Report.

I said at the end of this interview how encouraged I was that there were other local programs out there with a progressive message. Wes and his crew do a great job out in Oregon talking about labor unions, antiwar activities, and social justice. 

Check out the: Brain Labor Report

Southern Oregon's Labor Radio Program
Wednesdays, 9-10 am

We even started both our shows with Anne Feeney's great song, "War on the Workers," a true hymn to labor activism. His wife picks the songs, and from the selections I have heard on Wes' show, I am going to ask him for her list. Music is such a part of movement building, yet we are always surprised at how effective it is when we come back to it.

March 19, 1963 was the day that the blacklisting of Pete Seeger (and other members of The Weavers) from the folk music television show "Hootenanny" prompted a boycott by 50 folk artists (The Kingston Trio, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and Peter, Paul & Mary, among others). The forces of repression have always understood the power of song. But they were never able to stop our own Pete Seeger, and we are all the children of his rainbow race. From Poughkeepsie, NY to Ashland, OR. 

March 15, 2015

You don't do anything about it, that's violence

GUEST: Naomi Jaffe, long time activist and a founder of the New York State Prisoner Justice Network, talks about the education and coalition building that are necessary in changing a racist system of incarceration in the US.

Naomi and I tried to sort out how organizations can take on our racist criminal justice system. Groups in NYC turn out to be more focused on individual aspects, like stop and frisk, lack of legal representation, and prosecutorial misconduct. Upstate groups, like our own End the New Jim Crow Action Network, tend to embrace the many facets of racial injustice that lead to what we see above.

Should we also consider the everlasting wars that the US orchestrated over the last several decades? Naomi thought that imperialism is a form of racism, and that to rob and kill people in the Third World brought with it an heightened sense of racial mistrust and hatred in America. We talked about the war on Muslims being waged in our media and in our national security agencies.

Naomi wanted to leave out her history in the Weatherman, and of course, I did. Too bad in a way, because the radical organization was formed after the police assassination of Black Panther Fred Hampton in Chicago. Perhaps it was the failure of the radical left in the 1970's that allowed the "new Jim Crow" to creep back into our political system.
We felt that doing nothing in a period of repressive violence is itself a form of violence. That's really the part that I think is the hardest for people to understand. If you sit in your house, live your white life and go to your white job, and allow the country that you live in to murder people and to commit genocide, and you sit there and you don't do anything about it, that's violence.                                                                                -Naomi Jaffe
Too many people after the 1960's sat home and did nothing, for years and years, while the police state that is America rebuilt its system of oppression.

March 5, 2015

It infects us with its racism

Guest: Jennifer Pacanowski, Iraq veteran, writer, and poet speaks with us about PTSD, her work with vets and their families, and her desire to teach Americans the true cost of war.

Jennifer is a true spokesperson for the truth. I liked her analysis of the racism of war. She said that to fight, you have to separate yourself from another people and learn to hate them. She thought this type of racism came home with returning vets, and was responsible for much of the violence directed at people of color in this country. 

Of course, many vets came back to take jobs in the nation's police departments, where they quickly adjusted their "us against them mentality" to abusing minority groups. 

The American Empire can only exist if the vast majority of our nation's citizens are unaware of the price they pay for endless wars. Our returning vets bring the truth home, that killing millions in wars of conquest and occupation abroad eventually creates militarism and racism at home. 

"We the people of mainland France, have only one lesson to draw from these facts: colonialism is in the process of destroying itself. But it still fouls the atmosphere. Is is our shame; it mocks our laws or caricatures them. It infects us with its racism..." -Jean-Paul Sartre

March 4, 2015

Citizens of the empire and how their war machine works

GUEST: Nadia Tonova, Director of the National Network of Arab American Communities and the Take On Hate Initiative, talks about civil liberties, human rights the rise of Islamophobia.

Nadia was articulate and insightful about racism directed at Muslim Americans. Once we got into the international area, she returned to her group's focus, community organizing. Specifically, she did not want to comment on the wholesale slaughter of Palestinian children in Gaza as an example of how Muslim lives don't matter when it comes to US foreign policy objectives.

Nadia did say that Muslims in America felt under attack and were not willing to risk a great deal in the face of massive discrimination. It is easy for me to say that Muslim organizations should risk more in connecting racism to the US and Israeli occupation of the Middle East. I don't risk very much identifying US imperialism as a major source of Islamophobia in the world. 

I would risk much more if I were black or Muslim and living in America. MLK probably lost his life by equating racism against blacks in the US to racism against Vietnamese peasants in Southeast Asia (Riverside Church speech). But until the citizens of the empire realize how their war machine works, there is little hope for real change.