I was a little dismayed to note that among the “best” things that happened to me today was learning about the extent of indigenous slavery, which was more prevalent in the New England colonies than African slavery until 1720! But it’s the truth! This beautifully produced, 12-minute documentary is a suitable conversation starter for ANY classroom where the history of slavery, or themes of inequality are talked about.
Zinn’s decision to not report his male students’ grades to the Selective Service System is one eloquent moment in the history of educators who defied the grading policies of those allegedly in charge (Thanks to Rethinking Schools for republishing this gem, which scholar Robert Cohen found in the archives at NYU, where Zinn’s papers are kept!)
We can create safe and thriving communities by joining the growing number of cities who are re-appropriating funds from a punishment-based system and re-aiming them towards a new system that builds thriving communities.
I was unfamiliar with the work of Seattle teacher and activist, Jesse Hagopian before reading this opinion piece he wrote for the Seattle Times last week. The story of his personal involvement with police violence and the lawsuit he won against the Seattle Police Department is important background for this piece too. A quick Twitter search reveled this gif of the author being maced by SPD as he was trying to make a phone call. WTF?
Does anyone know the salary of Seattle police officer Sandra Delafuente (the cop who pepper sprayed me in the face at 2015 Martin Luther King rally)? pic.twitter.com/QGAUlKoc68
— Jesse Hagopian (@JessedHagopian) June 23, 2020
Whoever wants to know a thing has no way of doing so except by coming into contact with it, that is, by living (practicing) in its environment… If you want knowledge, you must take part in the practice of changing reality. If you want to know the taste of a pear, you must change the pear by eating it yourself… If you want to know the theory and methods of revolution, you must take part in revolution. All genuine knowledge originates in direct experience.
Mao Tse Tung “On Practice” (July 1937), Selected Works, Vol. I, pp. 299-300.
August 6— It’s an overcast and windy morning. There was an occasional drizzle on my way into work. The school and the city just observed the anniversary of the first nuclear carpet bombing. 74 years ago today this city was reduced to smoldering, irradiated rubble in carpet-bombing targeting civilians, designed to strike terror and hopelessness into the hearts of the Japanese population and win the Pacific War ahead of a Russian invasion of the Japanese mainland. It was a unique bombing only in terms of the type of weapon used. Otherwise, it is I think fair to say that bombings like these continue into the present day, initiated by the American Executive, left unchecked by the Congress and largely ignored by the American populace. These bombings still target civilians and kill tens of thousands of innocent people every year in places like Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen and Somalia. End the American Capitalist Death Cult!
Portrait of Sadako Sasaki – a young girl who became the symbol of the innocent lives lost in the bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima and to the brutalities of World War II. Artwork by Joëlle Jones. From Red Flag Magazine: https://redflag.org/magazine/issue-6/wish-upon-a-crane/
This piece I found on consortiumnews.com was written in June by William J. Astore. It’s a great summary of America’s obsession with “air supremacy.” Astore calls the American Military Industrial Complex a “cult,” as do the authors of the “Eyes Left” podcast, which I highly recommend.
This is the best new podcast I heard in 2018, and I didn’t catch it until the very end of the year, after one of its creators appeared on another show I love called, The Antifada.
I have gotten a lot of guff from my fellow lefties in the past about my pacifist views– pacifism is naive, it’s too idealistic, what about Hitler, Pearl Harbor, blah blah blah. . . or more compellingly, recently what about antifa– how can I square my desire to punch a white supremacist with avowed pacifism? The creators of “Eyes Left” have done an excellent job of helping me think through these issues, by making some of the philosophical and historical underpinnings and context of socialist anti-war thinking available in convenient, timely audio packets.
I have now listened through their entire back catalog, and it is all superb– their voices are those of authentic, insiders. But while they often specifically address their podcast to a military audience and don’t shy away from jargon, they give explanations when necessary and explicitly reject the macho bullshit veneer of the military.
Spenser Rapone, one-time West Point cadet, now “Other-than-Honorably-Discharged” podcaster. Solidarity!
One of the most severe mudslides caused the highway to collapse into a pile of mud on top of the commuter train line below.
Schools in Japan typically operate on a trimester system, so it’s not the start of a new school year, but it is the end of summer vacation. August is when, according to Shinto tradition, the dead return en masse to the world of the living. But these imperialist ghosts are also joined in August in Hiroshima by the ghosts of the victims of the atomic bombs. The number of living hibakusha (atomic bomb victims) are declining along with the population of this country, which has suffered the slow burn of neo-liberalism since the 1980s Nakasone government.
The public high school where I work has only about 600 students now, compared to 1200 a quarter century ago. And the future of public schools here does not look good. In a picture typical of any system you might find globally where the government has been completely captured by capital, public infrastructure is allowed to crumble while school curriculum is reduced to the churn of human resources to feed the corporate machine.
As a more disturbing illustration of the damage global capital is doing to my local school district, I present the case of the landslides, and flooding which left some of the more mountainous areas outside of Hiroshima in chaos and cut some communities off almost completely from the rest of the country. As you can see in the video I’ve included, the main highway connecting Kure, the suburb where I live, to Hiroshima, where my school is located, has collapsed and what used to be the railway line below, is buried under several meters of mud and rock. At the beginning of the summer, my home, like many thousands of my neighbors’ homes, was without running water. We relied on military supply stations for drinking water and even laundry and bathing facilities
In short, this was my first direct experience with the extreme environmental harm wrought by global climate change. Like the levees in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit, the drainage systems, roads and river bridges in our community just couldn’t withstand the onslaught of a super-storm. To hold capitalism responsible for such disasters doesn’t mean that I believe Sony or Mazda or Tepco or Ratheon or Amazon somehow ordered up this storm. It just means that these companies have too long held the human and environmental costs of their enterprises at arms-length as externalities or liabilities.
When the trains start running again, and as my commute time returns to normal in the next few weeks, I intend to teach about the connections between these seemingly disparate phenomena: mudslides, atomic bombs, and decaying schools.
Dorothea Lange’s Migrant Mother photograph from 1936 Dorothea Lange—well-known for her FSA photographs like Migrant Mother—was hired by the U.S. government to make a photographic record of the “evacuation” and “relocation” of Japanese-Americans in 1942. She was eager to take the commission, despite being opposed to the effort, as she believed “a true record of the evacuation would be valuable in the future.” The military commanders that reviewed her work realized that Lange’s contrary point of view was evident through her photographs, and seized them for the duration of World War II, even writing “Impounded” across some of the prints. The photos were quietly deposited into the National Archives, where they remained largely unseen until 2006.