Press Conference on Voting Rights with the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition

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.'”

Read the full story at the Chicago Crusader.

Walking Around Blind Without a Cane: “Democracy” in America

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.

A CounterPunch+ subscription costs $4 per month. Please consider subscribing, not only so that you can read my essay, but also some of the best political writing from a genuinely independent source.

“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…”

Read the rest of the essay, “Walking Around Blind Without a Cane: ‘Democracy’ in America.”

Interview on “Pause for Justice” Radio Program

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:

  1. “Think” by Aretha Franklin
  2. “What’s Going On?” by Marvin Gaye
  3. “I Remember, I Believe” by Lizz Wright
  4. “Peaceful World” by John Mellencamp with India.Arie
  5. “People Have the Power” by Patti Smith

Could Genocide Happen in the United States? An Interview with Alexander Laban Hinton

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.

It Can Happen Here

New Essay at CounterPunch: “The Phony Free Speech Panic versus Right Wing Fascism”

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.

50 days of protest in Portland. A violent police response. This is how we  got here. - OPB

Interview on the Peace and Justice Report

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.

Peace & Justice Report - WSLR+Fogartyville

Interview with Jesse Jackson Jr. on voting rights, American history, and the threat to American Democracy

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.

Discussion with Jesse Jackson for the Smithsonian Museum of African American History

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.

Historically Speaking: I Am Somebody - An Evening With Rev. Jesse Jackson And David Masciotra

Dismantle All of This Stuff: A New Interview with Noam Chomsky

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.

Read our conversation at the Los Angeles Review of Books.

12 Books On Activism Recommended By Noam Chomsky | Radical Reads

Coverage and Promotion for “I Am Somebody: Why Jesse Jackson Matters”

Salon recently ran an excerpt from my book, I Am Somebody: Why Jesse Jackson Matters. An excerpt also appeared on the pages of Literary Hub.

William Irwin, Chair of the Philosophy Department at King’s College, called I Am Somebody, a “timely retrospective and much needed rehabilitation.”

I was pleased to give a lecture on behalf of the Chicago Public Library:

I also did a lengthy interview with WZRD radio in Chicago: