Monday, January 31, 2011

Just when I thought I'd never cite Chris Matthews

Have a look at this, from Chris Matthews in response to Michele Bachmann on how hard the Founding Fathers fought against slavery.

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ETA: hat tip Prometheus 6 where I saw this first (sorry about that)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A diversity effort I agree with: Fred Korematsu Day

People who encounter me elsewhere (e.g. at Prometheus6) know I retain a certain cynicism over "diversity efforts" writ large. I dislike those that try to leave our collective checkered past unexamined. I like those with an atonement factor, in which government openly acknowledges past wrongdoing. This is one of the latter.

Kevin Fagan, Chronicle Staff Writer
Saturday, January 29, 2011

Ines Trinh scanned her class of 29 fifth-graders in San Lorenzo on Friday and took a deep breath. It was time to make the lesson personal.

"Just imagine, you're told to leave your home, you've got to pack up and you have only two suitcases for everything," Trinh told them. The Lorenzo Manor Elementary schoolkids' eyes widened. "I want you to think about it. How would you feel?"

Ten hands shot up. "Mad," said the first boy. "Sad," said a girl. "Insulted ... guilty ... lonely ... disgusted," intoned others.

Trinh smiled. Sixty-nine years after U.S. soldiers herded 120,000 Japanese Americans into internment camps during World War II, she was able in one moment to make her young charges gain a new understanding of racial discrimination in America - and it was all really thanks to one man.

That man is Fred Korematsu.

Sunday is his day in California, the first in U.S. history to be officially named after an Asian American, and more than 500 teachers like Trinh are using it to tell elementary and high school students about his life and its landmark place in the annals of civil rights.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

It's easy to be here and not in Haiti

My biggest problem right now is not anywhere near as bad as the average problem in Haiti, so here is an update from a set of folks who are actually getting work done there, in and around the organizations that are holding up the show. They were working before the January 2010 earthquake, during the quake, and after the quake.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Everyone should post an MLK item. Here's Grace Lee Boggs and Vincent Harding

Today, I only want to add my appreciation for any MLK posts anywhere that go beyond the one part of the one speech we all know and love and (if we are not careful) take out of context. I present this example for your appreciation. Off you go, then:

A favorite piece on MLK, from the YES! archive. A conversation between Grace Boggs and Vincent Harding

by Grace Lee Boggs
posted Jan 17, 2011

Over the holidays my old friend Vincent Harding, the African-American historian who worked closely with Martin Luther King during the 1960s (Harding drafted King's 1967 anti-Vietnam war speech) spent several days with me. When he couldn't make it to my 90th birthday party in June, Vincent explained, he resolved to visit me during my 90th year and before I might be leaving this life.

A lot of our discussion centered around how in the last three years of his life, King called for a revolution in values against the triple threats of racism, materialism, and militarism. Why do most King celebrations back away from or ignore this message? Is it because he was going where most Americans don't want to go — so that there was almost a sigh of relief when he was assassinated?

King's challenge was not only directed to white people. As Vincent put it ten years ago: "All we need to do is look around us and see how much over the past 15-20 years we black folks have decided (consciously or not) to fight racism by seeking equal opportunity or a fair share in the nation's militarism and materialism. In other words, we have chosen to fight against one of the triple threats by joining the other two."...

Read the rest of Grace Lee Boggs/Vincent Harding at: YES!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Why did you back-burner Haiti?

The media are doing ritualistic "one year later" stories about the Haiti earthquake as one would expect. If you just went "Oh! Right, mustn't forget," what does that say? Check the photos at the link but don't skip the commentary. I think "indecision" is the word that best applies, after "tragedy."

Monday, January 10, 2011

I can't top this Shakesville post on the Tucson shootings, so just go read it

Melissa McEwan at Shakesville has written a piece that deserves to go viral. This is my small contribution to that effort. Here is your teaser:

Posted by Melissa McEwan at Monday, January 10, 2011
[Trigger warning for violent rhetoric of many different stripes.]

Both sides are, in fact, not "just as bad," when it comes to institutionally sanctioned violent and eliminationist rhetoric.

An anonymous commenter at Daily Kos and the last Republican vice presidential nominee are not equivalent, no matter how many ridiculously irresponsible members of the media would have us believe otherwise.

There is, demonstrably, no leftist equivalent to Sarah Palin, former veep candidate and presumed future presidential candidate, who uses gun imagery (rifle sights) and language ("Don't Retreat, RELOAD") to exhort her followers to action.

There is no leftist equivalent to the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), a group which was created from the mailing list of the old white supremacist White Citizens Councils and has been noted as becoming increasingly "radical and racist" by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which classifies the CCC as a hate group—and is nonetheless considered an acceptable association by prominent members of the Republican Party, including a a former senator and the last Republican presidential nominee...

...This is not an argument there is no hatred, no inappropriate and even violent rhetoric, among US leftists. There is.

This is evidence that, although violent rhetoric exists among US leftists, it is not remotely on the same scale, and, more importantly, not an institutionally endorsed tactic, as it is among US rightwingers.

This is a fact. It is not debatable.

And there is observably precious little integrity among conservatives in addressing this fact, in the wake of the attempted assassination of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords...

Go read the full post at: