I had a big new essay at CounterPunch+ last weekend, examining how and why “democracy” is a hazy concept to most Americans, which places it in greater danger from the growing right wing threat of fascism.
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“Declarations that the United States has fallen into conditions resembling a ‘civil war’ have become hackneyed and cliched. That such an extreme condemnation of American culture and politics can transform into a bromide demonstrates how deeply institutional and social dysfunction trouble the world’s wealthiest country. Even more disturbing are those surveyors of politics and history who persuasively argue that, in many ways legally and culturally significant, the Confederacy has triumphed long after Gettysburg…”
I was recently a guest on the “Pause for Justice” radio program, broadcasting out of the University of St. Francis in Joliet, IL. Gracious and thoughtful host, Allison Heard, and I had a great conversation about my book, “I Am Somebody: Why Jesse Jackson Matters,” as well as related issues of civil rights and social justice.
Ms. Heard also gave me the opportunity to select the songs that would play during the broadcast. Here were my choices:
“Think” by Aretha Franklin
“What’s Going On?” by Marvin Gaye
“I Remember, I Believe” by Lizz Wright
“Peaceful World” by John Mellencamp with India.Arie
I have a new story at Salon. It is an interview with Alexander Laban Hinton, one of the world’s leading authorities on genocide and atrocity crimes. In a deeply disturbing but fascinating conversation, Hinton explains how the US is at risk of mass atrocity crimes from white power groups. His new book, “It Can Happen Here,” deals with the same subject. I was engrossed by our discussion, and am happy to share with you his important analysis.
I have a new essay running in the July 2nd, Weekend Edition, of CounterPunch. It compares the phony free speech panic (“Cancel culture!” “Wokeism!” The horror!) and the actual laws that suppress, penalize, and threaten the exercise of free speech from fascistic Republicans in multiple states. The right wing is now censoring and punishing educators and protestors who discuss topics and advocate for causes that they do not like.
It is a truly dangerous and frightening move that coalesces with the ongoing Republican effort to demolish voting rights, and limit access to the ballot for voters of color and college students.
American democracy is under assault, and my new essay describes a critical element of the problem.
On June 16th, I was a guest on the WSLR Peace and Justice Report – an outstanding program on progressive politics, broadcasting live from beautiful Sarasota, Florida.
The hosts conducted a gracious and thoughtful interview, asking me questions about my book, I Am Somebody: Why Jesse Jackson Matters, an assortment of political issues, and the future of American democracy. The entire episode is worthy of your attention, but my segment begins at the halfway point.
Early last week, I had the pleasure of speaking at length with former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. about his groundbreaking work and prescient ideas regarding voting rights, “states’ rights” racism, and democracy itself. Read my story on his meticulous dissection of the dangers facing American democracy, and his bold and imaginative proposal for rectification at Salon. You would be hard pressed to find this high quality of analysis elsewhere in mainstream discourse.
Pictured below is Jackson and me at the chart of Jackson’s making, which I describe in the story.
Here is a video of the discussion that took place on May 24th for the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History with Reverend Jesse Jackson Sr. and me. A couple of disclaimers are necessary:
1. The museum director, in his introduction, said that my book, “I Am Somebody: Why Jesse Jackson Matters,” is a memoir that Rev. Jackson and I wrote together. The director, clearly, did not even look at the title of the book, or the museum’s own advertisements for the event. While the interviews Jackson gave were crucial, and provide the heart of the book, “I Am Somebody” is my biography, independently written, of Jesse Jackson.
2. There were numerous technical difficulties. Therefore, if you watch, you might notice a few abrupt and awkward cuts.
Despite these unfortunate errors, it is a great discussion. Reverend Jesse Jackson Sr. spoke with characteristic brilliance and inspiration about human rights, progressive politics, and his own battles for genuine democracy. Our moderator, Aaron Bryant, showed some wonderful photographs from the museum’s archives of a young Jesse Jackson leading the Poor People’s Campaign of 1968.
Reigning queen of cool, Chrissie Hynde, recorded a magnificent new record using cell phone technology during the pandemic: Standing in the Doorway: Chrissie Hynde Sings Bob Dylan.
I was happy to review it for No Depression. Read my thoughts on Hynde’s singing and new arrangements, the mini-genre of Dylan tribute albums by women singers that has emerged in the past few years, Dylan’s songwriting, and the record itself.
In a new essay for CrimeReads, I write about one of the best novels I’ve read in recent years, Willy Vlautin’s The Night Always Comes. Not only a riveting story with characters who feel as alive as your next door neighbors, it is also a brilliant exploration of class struggle and the abuse of the working class in present day Portland, and more the broadly, the United States. In addition to reviewing The Night Always Comes, I also explore the rich tradition in crime literature of dealing with class struggle in the United States, and the dearth of contemporary stories that present the financial precarity of life in the “world’s wealthiest nation.”
I had the honor and pleasure of interviewing Noam Chomsky for the second time. We discussed his answer to the question, “What is politics?”, intellectual culture in the United States, the power and necessity of activism, and a variety of other historical and political issues. Chomsky provided brilliant analysis on topics ranging from modern state capitalism to the fascistic threat from the Republican Party. He also reminisced about his childhood, and the culture of solidarity that existed within his “first generation, mostly working class” community.