Profile of National Book Award-Winning Poet, Martín Espada

I recently had the immense pleasure of interviewing recent National Book Award winner, Martín Espada. We discussed his life and work, including poetry and radical politics, and right wing book bans, which have twice eliminated his work.

My lengthy profile of Espada is available to CounterPunch subscribers: “‘Put the Blood Back In’: Martín Espada on Poetry, Book Banning, and Radical Politics”



At the Bottom of the Empire: Homelessness, Housing Injustice, and Jesse Jackson’s Call to “Eradicate Poverty”

Last week, I attended a press conference that Reverend Jesse Jackson Sr. and the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition hosted in the Martin Luther King Legacy Apartments in Chicago. Jackson, and other speakers, condemned the “moral disgrace” of widespread poverty, housing injustice, and homelessness in the world’s wealthiest country.

I’ve written a story on the press conference, the history of King and Jackson’s anti-poverty and anti-racism work in Chicago, and the related issues of oppression and exploitation in the present. Read at CounterPunch.

Jesse Jackson recalls Martin Luther King Jr.'s last birthday - Chicago  Tribune

America’s “Culture of Death”: Covid-19, Gun Insanity, White Supremacy, Ecological Destruction, and Public Indifference

I wrote an essay for the December 17 Weekend Edition of CounterPunch – a broad exploration of the deep problems within the United States, turning on my appropriation of the late Pope John Paul II’s phrase, “culture of death.”

Read it at CounterPunch.

New Story for the Progressive: How the GOP Plans to (Legally) Steal the Next Election

I have written a new story for the Progressive, detailing the right wing, fascist assault on voting rights throughout the United States, with a soft focus on the Carolinas. For the story, I spoke with Patricia Sullivan, brilliant historian at the University of South Carolina, and author of the riveting and insightful new book, Justice Rising: Robert Kennedy’s America in Black and White. I also interviewed Joselle Torres, communications manager with Democracy North Carolina, and obtained a statement from Reverend Jesse Jackson Sr., who was born and raised in Greenville, South Carolina, and whose organization, Rainbow PUSH Coalition, is valiantly fighting for voting rights.

This is an important story about the resurrection of Jim Crow. It also makes a good companion piece to my recent profile of former neo-Nazi and current anti-racist leader, Christian Picciolini, as it relates to the ongoing demolition of democracy that he warns is happening right in front of our eyes.

Read the story at the Progressive. It was also reprinted on Common Dreams.

Virginia Becomes a Voting Rights Bastion - The New York Times

New Profile of Former Neo-Nazi and Current Anti-Racist Leader, Christian Picciolini

For the past two months, I’ve been working on this profile of Christian Picciolini, conducting interviews and bolstering the story with supplemental research. Christian was a neo-Nazi skinhead leader in the early 1990s, and left the movement to denounce white supremacy 25 years ago. For the past two decades, he has devoted himself, full time, to fighting white hate, and disengaging members of hate organizations.

He is now shifting focus to long term prevention measures, and in doing so, sounding an urgent warning to the United States, calling everything happening right now, “The skinhead’s dream of the 1990s coming true.”

Take a moment to read Christian’s fascinating and important story. His arc demonstrates that transformation and redemption, with hard work, humility, and good intentions, are possible, and his message shows what America is currently at risk of losing and facing.

The story originally ran on Salon, and was later reprinted on the Raw Story and AlterNet.

Christian Picciolini - Photo by Britton Picciolini 3.jpg.jpg.jpg | KJZZ

Demolishing Dissent: Jesse Jackson and the Propaganda Model of Media – A Lecture

I recently gave a talk at Indiana University Northwest in Gary, IN on how multinational corporations, major media companies, and the two major political parties in the United States coalesced to create explicit bias against Jesse Jackson, and in doing so, played off the implicit bias of the audience. Citing Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman’s seminal, Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media, I explained how in the interest of manufacturing consent, media companies “demolish dissent,” using the work of Jesse Jackson as an emblematic example.

Listen to the lecture:

The “Lowly Origin” of the Religious Right

The Religious Right entered politics as a racist force to preserve school segregation. That is not a matter of opinion, but an assiduously documented fact of history. In my new essay for the Progressive magazine, I write about the Religious Right, and review Bad Faith: Race and the Rise of the Religious Right, the new book by historian of American religion, Randall Balmer.

Read the essay at the Progressive.

Wheaton Faculty Have Released a Statement Condemning 'Abuses of Christian  Symbols" at the Capitol - RELEVANT
Bad Faith - Randall Balmer : Eerdmans

Interview with Christian Picciolini

I interviewed Christian Picciolini, a fascinating and inspiring anti-hate leader. A former neo-Nazi, Picciolini now dedicates his life to battling white supremacy, helping young men in hate groups disengage and reform, and advocating for the full promise of multiracial democracy in the United States. His books, White American Youth and Breaking Hate, are essential for understanding the danger of white supremacy, and how it manifests as a formidable threat against the future of American democracy.

Go to Salon, to read our timely and insightful discussion about racism, the threat to democracy, and how leading right wing figures and Republican officials now sound frighteningly like the neo-Nazis of the 1990s.

Christian Picciolini reads from White American Youth: My Descent into  America's Most Violent Hate Movement—and How I Got Out (Hachette Books,  2017) – Calandra Italian American Institute
Breaking Hate: Confronting the New Culture of Extremism: Picciolini,  Christian: 9780316522939: Amazon.com: Books

The American Fool: How Provincialism, Arrogance, and Greed Make US Foreign Policy an Exercise in Idiocy

I have a new essay in CounterPunch. It covers the “American Fool” factor in US foreign policy. American ignorance, avarice, and hubris have cost millions of people their lives. The latest results are on display in Afghanistan, as a 20 year war of criminality and stupidity comes to an inevitable end.

Read at CounterPunch.

Bush Regrets 'Mission Accomplished' Banner
Who better to lecture Muslims than Islam expert Donald Trump? | David  Shariatmadari | The Guardian

New Essay at The Progressive: The Infrastructure Plan, Democracy, and Abraham Lincoln

I have a new essay in the Progressive about the Democratic infrastructure package. To make the case for its passage, I draw heavily on John F. Wasik’s excellent new book, Lincolnomics: How President Lincoln Constructed the Great American Economy. Robust investments in public goods and services created the economic engine of the United States, and made a large middle class possible – not the so called “miracle of the free market.”

Read it at the Progressive.

Pennsylvania Railroad Station aka The Pennsylvanian aka Union Station aka  Penn Station