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.
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.”
I had the great thrill and honor of talking with journalist extraordinaire, Tavis Smiley, about my book, I Am Somebody: Why Jesse Jackson Matters. Smiley endorsed I Am Somebody, calling it a “wonderfully written book that profoundly makes its case.” Listen to our conversation in the archives of KBLA, Smiley’s new radio station in Los Angeles.
On July 13th, I participated in a press conference with the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition in Chicago, addressing the Republican assault on voting rights and democracy. Chinta Strausberg, a reporter with the Chicago Crusader, interviewed me for her story:
“…Asked his opinion about the Republicans using Trump’s ‘big lie’ to pass hundreds of bills in 17 states that restrict access to voting for Black and brown people, Masciotra said, ‘If you study the history of any fascist regime in the history of the world or any autocracy, they are following that playbook.’
‘It’s happened recently in Hungary, in Poland where right-wing governments use lies, various forms of racism and hatred to demolish democratic norms, institutions and rights and take control with an authoritarian agenda,’ explained Masciotra.
‘What the Republicans are doing right now threatens the very foundation of the U.S., and our lives in his country.’
‘Reverend Jackson risked his life in the form of civil rights leadership. My grandfather risked his life as a veteran of WW II, and all of that is on the line right now. We all need to wake up and get involved with organizations, like the Rainbow PUSH, to stop this destruction of our way of life, of our Bill of Rights of our democratic system.'”
In my newest essay for Salon, I examine how Barack Obama, making brilliant use of his own life as metaphor, confiscated patriotism from the reactionary right wing, and claimed it as property of liberalism. As central to the American spirit and story, Obama emphasized diversity, and the enlargement of opportunity and liberty. He injected Whitman’s poetry into politics, making it clear that America is full of contradiction, and that it contains multitudes.
One of the most nauseating aspects of the US Presidential election is its nostalgic focus on Baby Boomer issues of manufacturing employment and “abandoned factories.”
The maudlin litany of boomer reminiscence for “how it used to be” manipulates many people, because it implies that most jobs are lost to trade, when in reality they are lost to automation, and gives lazy thinkers the illusion that the jobs are “coming back.” The jobs are never coming back. The 1960s ended a long time ago.
Worse than the political manipulation is the cultural misdirection of focus away from imperatives of the future. Young people are not longing for the reopening of textile mills. They want debt-free education, job training, and easier access to home ownership and entrepreneurship. Pathetic and sentimental weeping over manufacturing gets them exactly nothing, and betrays the future in service of the past.
One of the most hideous scandals of American culture is the continued indifference toward the high rates of rape in the United States military, and the regularity of domestic violence in military homes.
The universal application of the honorific title of “hero” to combat veterans is one, among many, cultural obstacles preventing honest scrutiny and deliberate action to reduce pain and suffering among military women and the wives of military men.
Read my essay on the subject at Salon, and pay particular attention to my summary of the truly heroic life and work of Stacy Bannerman, the leading advocate for military spouses who fall victim to domestic violence.
In a recent essay for Salon, I examined the suicide story of a college wrestler who suffered from multiple concussions, to argue that, in addition to damaging the lives of countless women, the mindless macho culture of many men is also self-destructive.