August 27, 2015

Perhaps we should all be disrupters

GUEST: Medea Benjamin, co-founder of Code Pink, talks about the forces in America promoting war with Iran (pre-recorded at the Woodstock Town Hall).

With a country run by millionaires, there aren't many ways to get the people's voice heard. 

Code Pink is inspired theater, like The Daily Show is inspired comedy. But in a time when our media has completely sold out to the interests of the monied elite, both are so much more. By being provocative and at times outrageous, Code Pink and the Daily Show provide honest feedback on a system that has long since given up on serving the public good. 

In her talk, Medea calls herself a "disrupter." Perhaps we should all be disrupters of the system rather than participants in a sham democracy. Voting is so easy, and holding up a sign and shouting is so very hard. But without disruption, we will not be heard at all, and the oligarchy can role along using racism and fraud to impoverish America's working people.  

August 26, 2015

We make the road by walking

GUEST: Dr. Tom Hansen, Executive Director of the Mexico Solidarity Network and former Director of Pastors for Peace, talks about coalitions that further social justice in Latin America.

Tom and his Mexico Solidarity Network does really amazing work. After attempting to move members of Congress towards a more human and just policy in Central America, the network decided it was a waste of time. Influencing a "bunch of millionaires" to do anything that goes against their elite fundraisers was bound to fail. 

Instead, the network started a mini government in Chicago, intent on solving local problems like poor housing, job discrimination, and racism. The work involved bringing young volunteers in, both as teachers and as participants in educational trips to Mexico. In essence, the participants "Make the Road by Walking," the name of a revolutionary book by Myles Horton and Paulo Freire.

Tom and I (along with my brother, Dave) took a truck caravan together to Nicaragua in 1989. We were bringing supplies and medical equipment to the Nicaraguan people, in an attempt to expose the immorality and illegality of the Contra Wars. One of our stops was a visit to Myles Horton at the Highlander Center. We were making the road, and teaching ourselves in the process. 

August 6, 2015

Our state officially murders people, and in large numbers

GUEST: Scott Langley, lead organizer for The Abolitionist Action Committee, an organization devoted to ending the death penalty in the US., talks about this summer's vigil and fast in front of the US Supreme Court.

How to make the right argument against the death penalty? We have all used different tactics with different people. Not interested in considering racism against African Americans? Look at the expense of killing someone versus long term imprisonment. It is a waste of taxpayer dollars!

Perhaps building a constituency for any reform is done this same way. Conjure up enough good arguments, and we have built the critical mass of people needed to force a change in governmental policy.

But what if all murders were treated in the same way? Murdering our neighbor might be considered economically bad for the community, and therefore a crime. I don't think that is the reason why almost all societies have banned the killing of neighbors. It has more to do with the collective lessons of civilization as expressed through religion and philosophy. Thou shalt not kill.

America has made so many exceptions to this basic principal that we have ended up being a murderous state. Obviously, the killing of Native Americans and Blacks have been tolerated for hundreds of years, and sometimes even encouraged by politicians looking for votes. Our ever expanding empire has more and more enemies, all categorized as violent terrorists and placed on the President's drone hit lists. In a country so obsessed with whom to kill, why should we be surprised that our state officially murders people, and in large numbers.