November 22, 2015

Rooted in capitalist system ideology?

GUEST: Kaya Weidman, co-founder of Kite’s Nest, an organization that runs the Social Justice Leadership Academy's five week workshop for teenagers in Hudson, NY, talks about teaching community organizing and self expression to Black and Latino students through youth produced radio, music, poetry and public speaking.

This very interesting interview was done well over a month ago. I never thought that I would have a backload of excellent guests, but that is what has happened. We only interview one guest for each show. Perhaps we should expand this and cut back on Fantasy Land Media and our history section. Eli and I are going to review our mix in the coming weeks to see what needs to be changed.

One of the reasons we have so many thought provoking guests is that Gail Leondar-Wright, a book publicist, is sending me such great choices. And she sends me the books well before each show so that I can read them first. In fact, Activist Radio could rely completely on Gail and Just World Books for left oriented writers to interview. But that would leave out local connections to students and progressive community activists. 

Kaya is firmly in the community activist category. What she does in Hudson, NY, would go unnoticed without a local radio station like WVKR. Not completely unnoticed because there are other independent stations in the Mid Hudson area, and because Kaya is a good writer and gets articles published in progressive media. In fact, that is where I found Kaya. 

If you listened to our interview, we talk a lot about community organizing. Do whites have a role in teaching African Americans how to resist the oppression and racism that seems to be part of the fabric of our society? Back we go to Myles Horton and the Highlander Center, such an important part of the Civil Rights Movement. 

Myles considered himself an outsider who was thoroughly committed to overthrowing the status quo. He told us during a short visit I made to the Highlander Center that his type of activism came from an anti-authority streak rooted deeply in Southern consciousness. Early on, Myles had grown up outside the system, reading the Bible and Marx. He put a world view together for himself, free from miccle class influences. I feel that his teaching was equally free from white, middle class moralizing about how Blacks should better themselves. One of his books, We Make the Road by Walking, highlights this method of pedagogy. Myles was a traveler on the road, not a person with all the answers, and his rebellion extended all the way to how we learn in a capitalist society. Do we actually learn, or are we taught what to say and think? And can a person rooted in capitalist system ideology ever value human rights and economic justice for others? 

November 13, 2015

Time of commitment and joy

GUEST: Maria Luisa Rosal, field organizer for SOA Watch, and planner for the upcoming vigil on Nov 20 - 22 to close the School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia, talks about the disastrous results of US military training being given to Latin American army personnel.

I remember first hearing former Roman Catholic priest Roy Bourgeois, founder of SOA Watch, at the St. Margaret's Episcopal Church in Staatsburg. He has a gift for educating people about the difficult subject of American militarism abroad. Most of his work has been done in Central and South America, a part of the world still suffering from US sponsored death squads and CIA funded coups against democratically elected presidents.

The subject is difficult for two reasons. We as American citizens rarely hear about what is being done to other countries in our name. Our media is closer to state sponsored propaganda than most of us realize, and since The New York Times doesn't cover imperialism in Latin America, we just don't know about it.

It is also difficult because once we learn the full extent of the suffering, we experience intense grief. Tens of thousands of women and children have been murdered by US supported dictators. Some of the worst butchery has been carried out using US supplied guns, ammunition and training. It is only after we have come to terms with this grief that we can organize to oppose US policy.

There is an exhilaration that comes from seeing that we can resist our country's racism and militarism in Latin America. Armed with a knowledge of US oppression, we can expose the long history of wars and military interventions based on US corporate profits.

November 20 - 22 is such a time of commitment and joy.

November 11, 2015

Behind Israel's war crimes

GUEST: Bassem Tamimi, internationally recognized Palestinian human rights activist from the West Bank farming village of Nabi Selah, talks about the weekly nonviolent demonstrations held in opposition to illegal Israeli settlement construction and military occupation.

I found it much harder watching  this YouTube video of this young Palestinian boy than talking to the young boy's father, Bassem.

Bassem Tamimi has a quite way about him, possibly from the beatings and torture he received in Israeli prisons for his activism. As he spoke to me, I became increasingly aware of what the Israelis will have to do to the Palestinians to permanently subjugate them or drive them away from their lands; Israel will have to massacre them. After over 65 years, the Palestinians are still resisting. Not only that, whole families like Bassem's have made keeping their lands and keeping their dignity their most important human value. 

Of course, in trying to ethnically cleanse the Palestinians from their homeland, the Israelis have lost their religion as well as their humanity. Occupation does that to the occupying nation. In the end, the occupier must become the murderer. 

Unexpectedly, Bassem talked about the Holocaust with sadness and sensitivity. Jews have suffered greatly, and now it is his people who bear the brunt of hatred and vicious racism. Did he feel a kinship with the Jews being persecuted in Germany during the 1930s? He certainly expressed his admiration for the Jewish Israelis who stand with him against the taking of his land and the murdering of his people. 

Like most human rights activists, Bassem has come to the conclusion that it is the apartheid state of Israel that is responsible for the impending genocide of his people. And behind it all stands the empire, always ready to provide Israel with weapons, billions in aid, and protection at the UN. Yes, behind Israel's war crimes are the American people, you and me.