Keyword: Civil Rights

Howard Zinn, RIP: The People's Champion Email Print

The death of Howard Zinn last week at 87 is a loss deeply felt by the grassroots citizenry that he so ardently championed.

Zinn's longtime friend and ideological compatriot Noam Chomsky put the historian-activist's life of achievement in perspective in a quote from an obituary in the Boston Globe January 27:

"He made an amazing contribution to American intellectual and moral culture.  He's changed the conscience of America in a highly constructive way.  I really can't think of anyone I compare him to in this respect."

Scores of others of us, Dr. Chomsky, also cannot think of anyone to compare Howard Zinn in that respect, someone who delivered a lifelong commitment to America's intellectual and moral culture along with unswerving identification to serving people and seeking to help establish a progressive agenda.

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The American Stain Email Print

Crossposted from MY LEFT WING

Punishment in a forced labor camp
Georgia -- 1930s

Determined to bring to a blessed end my three day journey into the painful miasma explored by Douglas A. Blackmon in his extraordinary Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of African Americans from the Civil War to World War II, I chose sleep deprivation last night and read long past dawn.

I passed over not a word -- not even the Ibids in the extensive footnotes and bibliography section. Even that ostensibly dry and academic denouement had its horrors, however. I encountered citation upon citation of Congressional and federal records marking the infuriating inaction of the risibly defined protectors and defenders of the Constitution that exposed the Emancipation Proclamation (and subsequent Amendments to the Constitution regarding slavery and the role of African Americans in the United States) as the cruel joke it turned out to be for nearly a century after the ostensible "freeing of the slaves."

Nothing related to race, African Americans, American history, political "facts" or sociological issues in America will ever be the same again for me.

Perhaps I should rejoice in the fact that I am capable of being educated and instructed, of absorbing wholly new information at my advanced age of 40...

But I feel a weight upon me just now, so heavy it seems it will never be lifted; and perhaps that's as it should be. Self-congratulation for finally having attempted to learn something I ought to have sought out long ago wouldn't simply be unseemly; it would only be mildly less grotesque than that same attitude expressed by innumerable whites who still see nothing solecistic in claiming "We" fought the Civil War to end slavery, freed Europe from Hitler, defeated communism, marched for civil rights and so on.

I used to assure myself, privately, that despite the obvious shared ancestral shame of so many white Americans, my ancestors had nothing to do with that ugliness. After all, they were Irish and Scots -- northerners all, poor or working class until my mother's generation. Aside from the admittedly insidious and long-lived spectre of inveterate racism in their attitudes (which persists to this day, albeit in a milder and assuredly less overt form, in some of my mother's brothers and cousins), what evil deeds could they -- shunned and discriminated against themselves --  have perpetrated, after all? Surely my relatives and I share only the merest, microscopic percentage of the collective taint befouling all whites in America born second generation or earlier?

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Heaven On Earth And the Christian Right Email Print

          The problem with the new Christians, and the Republicans, is they think they can design and orchestrate the construction of the Kingdom of God, right here on earth, in THIS time, BEFORE its time. Even though Jesus went to great lengths to explain that this would never take place until AFTER HE RETURNS!
     I view this effort as a hostile takeover of this country by the Christian Right, yet they have no right to do this.

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Mystery DC PAC seeks civil rights split ? Email Print

On a piece crossposted to Exgay Watch and Talk To Action, Mike Airhart describes a bizarre recent effort that in Airhart's judgement seeks to splinter the civil rights movements. Writes Airhart:

There has never been just one civil rights movement; there have been numerous movements: for Jews and other religious minorities, for blacks, for women, for Japanese-Americans after World War II, and for gays since approximately the 1950s.

Nevertheless, it has become a mantra among the religious right that certain groups are "hijacking" the one solitary civil rights movement. Meanwhile, in the small universe of web sites that advertise the existence of "former homosexuals," there are many exgay sites that join the religious right in promoting antigay discrimination -- but few sites that offer sound, clinically proven advice to people who strive to overcome or moderate unwanted sexual attractions and behaviors.

The year-old exgay web site is marketed via Wikipedia as "Ex Gay Political PAC, Focused on Ex Gay Civil Rights." But WeAreThinking has no declared owners, operators, or sponsors, no specific entity to accept responsibilty for its content. In short, the public is not intended to know the identity of "We" in the site name "We Are Thinking."

Here's another irony: The site does not propose an exgay civil rights movement; it undermines existing civil-rights movements.

[ editor : Talk To Action guest contributor Mike Airhart is the editor of Ex Gay Watch ]

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A Dignitarian Manifesto Email Print

When it comes to politics, new language and new thinking are different things. Whatever new language progressives used in 2004 failed to change the electoral outcome, and at most it'll help them eke out a few victories in the coming years. New language is like changing the window treatment, not the window, not the view, not the perspective.

What's required for social change, and it could come from either party, is the kind of political realignment we get once every 50 years. Such realignment pulls a sizeable majority from the vast non-ideological, sensible middle of the political spectrum, and creates a real mandate for fundamental social change. Like those that FDR and LBJ presided over. Like the universal health care and campaign finance reform that we need now.

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Silly request Email Print

i can't seem to find an "unrecommend" feature and we're trying to get the "12 Days of Justice" diary off of the reco list, maybe replace it with today's action.

would readers clicking "don't recommend" do the trick?  would a someone or two please try this for us?  and if you feel so inclined, recommend the new one.

goofy; i know.  thanks!


Discuss (2 comments)

Anti-Alito Brigade For Justice, Day 4! Email Print

Update [2005-12-18 3:14:26 by Cedwyn]: The author of our first day's letter had a brilliant idea: tampopo is printing these up to hand out as booklets to people! How's that for an action item!? Moving on with today's diary action item, aka, "Defying Reality and Disrespecting the Disabled."

It's all in a day's work for Mr. ScAlito.  Today's Anti-Alito Brigade For Justice piece is up and the indefatiguable Susan Hu did not disappoint!

It appears, from his dissent in Nathanson v. Medical College of Pennsylvania (1991), that Judge Alito's view of discrimination against persons with disability is so restrictive that "few if any...cases would survive summary judgment." (ThinkProgress)

Most critically, the Bazelon Center has released an exhaustive compendium of "'highlights of a long and troubling record' of disability right cases [including very recent decisions] decided by Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito."

As recently as 2002, "Judge Alito ruled along with other judges on the Third Circuit excusing local zoning boards from engaging in a process to identify reasonable accommodations needed to provide equal access for people with disabilities. (Lapid Laurel, L.L.C. v. Zoning Board of Adjustment of Scotch Plains, 284 F.3d 442 (3d Cir. 2002)." (Bazelon Center's analysis via Ragged Edge Magazine)

Game on!  Let's bombard our congresscritters with yet more phone calls, emails and the much-harder-to-ignore faxes befitting a dangerous idealogue like ScAlito.  And share this far and wide, won't you?  Below is yet more information on Alito's judicial hubris for the arsenal, as well as additional groups and resources for fighting his nomination:

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Are You Racist? Email Print

Can we please - please, please, please - start a substantive conversation on race in America?  There are ground rules though - no kicking, screaming, eye-gouging or biting allowed.  All participants have to agree not to put on silly hats or funky bandanas and march around with crosses or guns.  Think I'm being facetious?  OK - try having this discussion without the accompanying folderol.  Someone always has to start the button pushing - and immediately the ears close, the mouths open and for all intents and purposes we might as well be at a Jerry Springer taping.  

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John F. Kennedy: Remembering Best of His Life on Day of His Death Email Print

This is not about conspiracy theories, assassinations or JFK's death.  This is about his life---in particular, two days in his last year of life that I remember as the high points of his presidency, especially in terms of the future---our future, and beyond.

He is remembered by a single soundbite from his elegant Inaugural (that gets ever briefer each time---an entire generation may now believe that all he said was two words, "Ask not.") Historians may rightly point to the Berlin crisis in 1961 and especially the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.

But on this anniversary of his death, I want to highlight two consecutive days in June 1963.  They stand out on this day in particular because it seems to me, if somehow JFK had learned he had one year to live, he would have done pretty much what he did throughout 1963, and these two summer days would be the summer of his life and legacy.

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