January 25, 2016

Tirades about greedy politicians and sycophantic newspapers

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.

Wes and I have interviewed each other over the last year. I played a piece that he did for his show in Southern Oregon.

We talked about our programs' attempts to bring a leftist perspective to the national media. At present, there is the Neoliberal and the Neoconservative agendas, but not much else. Quotes from Bernie Sanders are about the first time the US corporate media has even referred to the ascendency of the very rich over the rest of us. Even Paul Krugman, that "liberal" commentator for the NYT, urges Americans to go slowly and support Wall Street's candidate, the war hawk and Goldman Sachs' Monica Lewinsky, Hillary Clinton.

I did get some feedback recently from a listener who said that Eli and I were too caustic about our country and its leaders. She said that she "just turns us off" when we go on our little tirades about greedy politicians and sycophantic newspapers. The rest of the show, she likes.

The feedback raises some interesting questions. Do we moderate what we really think to make the program more palatable? Or is that just doing what most of the US media does already, deny the obvious class war with its impoverished millions and and massive war machine because it isn't a very nice subject.

Or will speaking truth generate more of a resistance to the US Empire? The spirit of truth is a dangerous thing to the imperial powers that be. As everyone should know, truth is the first step to real change.

January 15, 2016

When we can all sing America

Guest: Deepa Iyer, leading racial justice activist and author of a new book, "We Too Sing America: South Asian, Arab, Muslim, and Sikh Immigrants Shape our Multiracial Future," talks about the consequence of modern day terrorism: the ongoing, state-sanctioned persecution of immigrant peoples.

Deepa Iyer's new book is filled with stories about racism in America. During my interview, she told me that everyone comes to this country with a different history, and that no ethnic group has exactly the same memories. Some were escaping the wars that the US Empire has fought in their homelands, and some were born after the carnage. Some come to raise their families after their economies were destroyed by neoliberal exploitation, and some simply don't remember.

Once here, immigrants must learn the intricacies of an already segregated society. Black people, immigrants learn, must be kept at the bottom if the immigrant wants to be considered white. Therefore, Asian, Arab, Muslim and Sikh immigrants are offered the "racial bribe," join us as whites or be considered a person of color yourself.

Deepa Iyer goes on to describe the opposite of racism, when American citizens reject a hierarchy based on skin color and insist that American institutions do the same. And yes, there will be a date when there are more people of color in the US than there are whites. But that moment will only mean social and economic justice if all the institutions become colorblind as well. 

Our country can overcome the centuries of racism to become an enlightened society. That is the goal, when we can all sing America.

January 13, 2016

The empire and its racism will be washed away

Guests: Susan Smith, who hosts a biweekly program on WVKR called From Ferguson to Palestine, and Sahar AlSahlani, who serves on the boards of Religions for Peace (UN-affiliated NGO) and the Council of American Islamic Relations, will talk about the rise of Islamophobia and what can be done about it.

Susan Smith and Sahar AlSahlani went beyond the usual warnings about racism in America. There is the history of ethnic cleansing of indigenous populations that created our country. There is the long tradition of pitting one group against another, both in politics and in the workplace. Finally, there is the wealth created by centuries of slavery.

Were does the Empire fit in? Can the US expect to rob 1.6 billion Muslims (concentrated in the Middle East and Northern Africa) of their oil and other natural resources without eventually paying a price? To maintain America's endless war against this region, US citizens must learn to hate Muslims in the same way any invading and occupying country uses racism to support war crimes committed abroad. Empires thrive on hatred. 

Listening to our two guests, all this becomes an exercise in logic, rather than an expression of animosity. With America's history and its present commitment to endless wars, there is really no other way to keep the empire's citizens from rebelling. 

Maybe when the rebellion does come, both the empire and its racism will be washed away, along with the power of the white elite that has lived for centuries on the backs of people of color.