Lyrics: We are all your children If you hear us, join us now We’re gonna strike because the waters are rising We’re gonna strike because our people are dying We’re gonna strike for life and everything we love We’re gonna strike for you Will you strike for us?
YouTube Today, we’re announcing YouTube’s get out the vote campaign, #voteIRL, where together with the YouTube creator community, we’re helping get young people to the polls. Even though people are clearly following the election online, we want to make sure they get involved “in real life,” too. We believe in giving everyone a voice. So this U.S. elections season, we’re committed to making sure that people–especially young people–use their voice by voting. REGISTER TO VOTE NOW: http://g.co/elections/134 Did you know it only takes 1:34 to register to vote? For National Voter Registration Day, starting today the YouTube community will be making 1:34 videos to make sure that you’re registered to vote. Keep an eye out for familiar 1:34 faces all week long: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list…
When I was a high school junior in New Orleans taking AP American history, my teacher assigned us a paperback book. Slim in contrast to our hulking required textbook, it was a funny, compelling, even shocking read. Lies My Teacher Told Me, by James Loewen, explained how history textbooks got the story of America wrong, usually by soft-pedaling, oversimplifying and burying the thorny drama and uncertainties of the past under a blanket of dull, voice-of-God narration.
The book also taught a lot of history. It introduced me to concepts that still help me make sense of the world, like the “racial nadir” — the downturn in American race relations, starting after Reconstruction, that saw the rise of lynchings and the Ku Klux Klan. In doing so, Lies My Teacher Told Me overturned one assumption embedded in the history classes I’d been sitting through all my life: that the United States is constantly ascending from greatness to greatness.
The book has racked up many awards and sold around 2 million copies since it was first published in 1995. In a new edition out this summer, James Loewen — now professor emeritus of sociology at the University of Vermont — is championing the cause of critical thinking in the age of fake news.
He tells NPR, “I started out the new edition with the famous two photographs of the inaugural crowds of this guy named President Obama, his first inauguration, and this guy named President Trump, his first and maybe only inauguration. And you just look at those two photos and they’re completely different. There’s all kinds of grass and gaps that you see in the Trump photo. … What that does, I hope, is signal to every reader of the book: Yes, there are such things as facts here. You can see with your own eyes.”
The following conversation has been edited for clarity and length.
Can you take me back to the original inspiration for the book?
My first full-time teaching job was at a black college, Tougaloo College in Mississippi. I had 17 new students in my new second semester [freshman sociology] seminar and I didn’t want to do all the talking the first day of class so I asked them, “OK, what is Reconstruction? What comes to your mind from that period?”
And what happened to me was an aha experience, although you might better consider it an oh-no experience: 16 out of my 17 students said, “Well, Reconstruction was the period right after the Civil War when blacks took over the government of the Southern states. But they were too soon out of slavery and so they screwed up and white folks had to take control again.”
My little heart sank. I mean, there’s at least three direct lies in that sentence.
Blacks never took over the government of the Southern states — all of the Southern states had white governors throughout the period. All but one had white legislative majorities.
Second, the Reconstruction governments did not screw up. Across the South without exception they built the best state constitutions that the Southern states have ever had. Mississippi, in particular, had better government during Reconstruction than at any later point in the 19th century.
A third lie would be, whites didn’t take control. It was white supremacist Democrats — indeed, it was the original Ku Klux Klan.
So I thought to myself, “My gosh, what must it do to you to believe that the one time your group was center stage in American history, they screwed up?”
So you set out to write your own textbook, didn’t you?
[Loewen, along with colleagues and students, co-wrotea new high school state history textbook called Mississippi: Conflict and Change. Despite high ratings from reviewers, the Mississippi State Textbook Purchasing Board rejected the book on the grounds that it was racially inflammatory. Loewen and his co-authors sued the board.]
The lawsuit had a “Perry Mason” moment — only your older listeners will understand what that is. Let’s say it had a dramatic moment, and that came when John Turnipseed [of the Mississippi State Textbook Purchasing Board] was on the stand.
The assistant attorney general for the state of Mississippi asked why he had voted against our book. And he had us turn to [a] page where there’s a photo of a lynching. Now, our textbook at that time was the only textbook in America that included a photo of a lynching. And ironically almost none do to this day.
Turnipseed is on the stand and he says: “Now, you know, some ninth-graders, especially black male ninth-graders, are pretty big, and I worried that teachers, especially white lady teachers, would have trouble controlling their classes with material like this in the book.”
The judge — who was an [older] white Mississippian, but a man of honor — took over the questioning, and he said, “But that happened, didn’t it? Didn’t Mississippi have more lynchings than any other state?” And Turnipseed said, and again I quote, “Well, yes, but that all happened so long ago. Why dwell on it now?” And the judge said, “Well, it is a history book.”
The U.S. District Court found for Loewen and the textbook was adopted for several years.
That whole escapade proved to me that history can be a weapon. And that it had been used against my students. And that’s what got me so interested in American history as a weapon.
The book is called Lies My Teacher Told Me. What’s the biggest lie in the book?
Usually when I’m asked, “What’s the biggest lie?” I put my hand out in front of me slanting upward and to the right. And what I mean by that is the overall theme of American history is we started out great and we’ve been getting better ever since kind of automatically. And the trouble with that is two things. First of all, it’s not always true. …
And the second part is what it does to the high school student. It says you don’t need to protest; you don’t need to write your congressman; you don’t need to do any of the things that citizens do, because everything’s getting better all the time.
So it encourages passivity.
And then the other part about it is the enormous textbooks. I mean, you talk about the way that they present history as being settled intellectually, too.
It’s so boring! If you think about it, the very first thing that happened in terms of American history is people came to the land that we now know as the United States. Now how did they get here?
Well, every single textbook that I looked at says that they came across the Bering Strait during an Ice Age. It turns out they might have. It also turns out they might not have.And what we should therefore do is let students in on the fact that we don’t know, that there’s a controversy here and invite them to go research it themselves. …
And that would be fascinating. That would get them thinking like a historian right from the beginning of a U.S. history course.
I feel like there is a tension in what you’re saying because we do want to debate and understand where there’s genuine uncertainty in history, but how do students discriminate among various sources of information? Especially in the age of the Internet and thousands of pages on any subject.
Well, I think there’s one key question to be asked of any source, and that is “Why do you find it credible?”Now, a KKK site on American history is perfectly credible if you’re asking the question “What does the KKK believe about the Civil War?” OK. If, on the other hand, you’re asking, “Why did the Southern states secede?” Maybe you don’t want to cite a KKK site.
In her first extended broadcast interview in the United States, we spend the hour with Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish climate activist who has inspired millions across the globe. Last year she launched a school strike for the climate, skipping school every Friday to stand in front of the Swedish parliament, demanding action to prevent catastrophic climate change. Her protest spread, quickly going global. Hundreds of thousands of schoolchildren around the globe have participated in their own local school strikes for the climate. Since her strike began in 2018, Greta has become a leading figure in the climate justice movement. She has joined protests across Europe. She has addressed world leaders at the U.N. climate talks in Poland and the European Union Parliament. She has even met the pope. And now she is in New York to join a global climate strike on September 20 and address the U.N. Climate Action Summit on September 23. Greta has refused to fly for years because of emissions, so she arrived here after a two-week transatlantic voyage aboard a zero-emissions racing yacht. She is also planning to attend the U.N. climate summit in Santiago, Chile, in December.
Greta joined us Tuesday in our Democracy Now! studio.
Many progressives supported prohibition of alcoholic beverages, ostensibly to destroy the political power of local bosses based in saloons, but others out of a religious motivation. At the same time, women’s suffrage was promoted to bring a “purer” female vote into the arena. A third theme was building an Efficiency Movement in every sector that could identify old ways that needed modernizing, and bring to bear scientific, medical and engineering solutions; a key part of the efficiency movement was scientific management, or “Taylorism“. In Michael McGerr’s book A Fierce Discontent, Jane Addams stated that she believed in the necessity of “association” of stepping across the social boundaries of industrial America.
Initially the movement operated chiefly at the local level, but later it expanded to the state and national levels. Progressives drew support from the middle class, and supporters included many lawyers, teachers, physicians, ministers, and business people. Some Progressives strongly supported scientific methods as applied to economics, government, industry, finance, medicine, schooling, theology, education, and even the family. They closely followed advances underway at the time in Western Europe and adopted numerous policies, such as a major transformation of the banking system by creating the Federal Reserve System in 1913 and the arrival of cooperative banking in the US with the founding of the first credit union in 1908. Reformers felt that old-fashioned ways meant waste and inefficiency, and eagerly sought out the “one best system”.
The private prison industry is set to be upended after California lawmakers passed a bill on Wednesday banning the facilities from operating in the state. The move will probably also close down four large immigration detention facilities that can hold up to 4,500 people at a time.
The legislation is being hailed as a major victory for criminal justice reform because it removes the profit motive from incarceration. It also marks a dramatic departure from California’s past, when private prisons were relied on to reduce crowding in state-run facilities.
Private prison companies used to view California as one of their fastest-growing markets. As recently as 2016, private prisons locked up approximately 7,000 Californians, about 5% of the state’s total prison population, according to the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics. But in recent years, thousands of inmates have been transferred from private prisons back into state-run facilities. As of June, private prisons held 2,222 of California’s total inmate population.
The state’s governor, Gavin Newsom, must still sign AB32, but last year he signaled support for the ban and said during his inaugural speech in January that the state should “end the outrage of private prisons once and for all”.Advertisement
Currently, one company, the Geo Group, operates four private prisons in California under contract with the California department of corrections and rehabilitation. The contracts for these four prisons expire in 2023 and cannot be renewed under AB32, except to comply with a federal court order to reduce crowding in state-run facilities.
In addition to signaling a major criminal justice reform, AB32 also has become a flashpoint in California’s fight with the Trump administration over the treatment of immigrants.
The bill’s author, the assemblymember Rob Bonta, originally wrote it only to apply to contracts between the state’s prison authority and private, for-profit prison companies. But in June, Bonta amended the bill to apply to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency’s four major California detention centers.
Bonta’s amendment, say immigrant rights advocates, appears to have caught Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (Ice) and the private prison companies at a moment when their current contracts are expiring. The result is that instead of slowly phasing out immigration detention centers as their existing contracts expire years down the road, most will face closure next year – unless Ice and its private prison contractors find a workaround.
“I think Geo Group is realizing their scheme to circumvent state law is putting them in a place where they could end up being be nailed,” said Hamid Yazdan Panah, an immigration attorney and the regional director for the Northern California Rapid Response & Immigrant Defense Network.
Two of Ice’s largest immigrant detention centers in California are operated by the Geo Group through complicated contracts that use cities as middlemen.
The city of Adelanto signed an agreement in 2011 with ICE to hold up to 1,300 immigrant detainees facing deportation. Adelanto then subcontracted the prison operations to Geo Group.
“What Ice does is they locate in these very poor and remote areas,” said Lizbeth Abeln, of the Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice. “The private prison comes in and lobbies and promises jobs, and tax money.”
A similar process unfolded just north of Bakersfield in McFarland, where in 2015 the city agreed to serve as the middleman for the Geo Group, which operates the 400-bed Mesa Verde detention facility.
Geo Group expanded the Adelanto center in 2015 to 1,940 beds, making it the second-largest adult detention center in the country, and with the Trump administration’s crackdown against undocumented immigrants, another 1,000-bed expansion is planned.
But these complicated contracts were outlawed last year. Under the state Dignity Not Detention Act, cities and counties, including Adelanto and McFarland, were barred from signing new agreements with Ice or amending existing contracts to permit expansion.
“To expand their detention center, Geo Group and Ice would have to cut their ties with the city of Adelanto,” said Jose Servin, the communications coordinator of the California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance.
Geo Group asked both cities to break off their Ice contracts and the cities agreed. Ice then provided Geo Group with temporary contracts to operate Adelanto and Mesa Verde. Both agreements expire next March, after AB32 is expected to go into effect.
“My understanding is AB32 would prevent new contracts for these facilities,” said Panah. “The fact they’re on a one-year bridge, it won’t allow them to move from the one-year contract to a longer-term contract.”
Ice declined to answer any questions about how AB32 affects its detention center contracts.
CoreCivic operates the Otay Mesa detention center in San Diego under a direct contract with Ice and is building a 512-bed expansion to house immigrant detainees, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings. But its Ice contract expires in June 2020.
“When California’s prison system capacity was at 200% and conditions were so challenging as to be deemed unconstitutional, companies like ours were one of the solutions the state turned to,” said Brandon Bissel, a CoreCivic spokesperson.
In recent years, contracts with California’s prison authority have amounted to as much as 12% of CoreCivic’s total revenue, more than any other state prison authority in the US, according to SEC filings.
CoreCivic and Geo Group spent $130,000 during the first six months of this year lobbying the legislature and governor against AB32.
On 6 September, AB32 was amended to allow Geo Group, CoreCivic and other for-profit prison companies to continue operating after 2020, but only to help the state comply with a court-ordered prison population cap.
Otherwise, the use of private prisons for state inmates is to be fully phased out by 2028.
Immigration advocates still worry that Ice and its contractors could find a way to circumvent the ban.
“This legislation is the most powerful we’ve had. It’s a very big step,” said Abeln about AB32. “But we know Geo Group and Ice work in secrecy, and they work to circumvent contract laws, so we’re still monitoring things.”
Servin said that while the new law was a significant victory, there was one other thing immigrants rights groups were concerned about. When several sheriffs’ departments canceled their contracts to house Ice detainees last year, instead of freeing the detainees, Ice moved many of them to prisons in Colorado and Hawaii.
“We have to worry about all the people who are detained right now,” said Servine. “Where will they end up?”
Construction workers employed by the Tennessee Valley Authority, 1942. (Photo: Shutterstock)
From single-payer health care to climate change, the 2020 Democrats have ambitious plans. But these new, grand, and green deals aren’t as radical as some make them sound. In fact, big public projects are what made America great.
When President Dwight “Ike” Eisenhower took office in 1953, America had been buffeted by the Great Depression of the 1930s and World War II in the 1940s. The Cold War put us in competition with Soviet “5-Year Plans” and Chinese “Great Leaps Forward.”
Eisenhower was concerned that soldiers would return home to closing factories. So Ike pushed for massive infrastructure spending, creating the “Dwight D. Eisenhower System of Interstate and Defense Highways.”
Congress funded a half-century of highway construction, building 47,000 miles—the biggest public works project in the history of the world. It cost $500 billion in today’s dollars, with 90 percent coming from Washington and 10 percent from the states.
The interstate highways transformed America.
In 1919, it took a month or more to drive cross-country; the record today is a little over 24 hours. Automobile ownership skyrocketed, gas sales jumped, motels mushroomed, the suburbs ﬂourished, and malls were built. Construction companies, automakers, and oil companies ﬂourished, too, along with their workers.
There was a downside, of course. Rail and mass transit were marginalized, urban sprawl spread across the land, the daily commute grew longer, and our carbon footprint grew bigger, as multi-lane highways destroyed urban communities.
Still, it puts lie to the chant that “the U.S. has never been a socialist country!” After all, we drive on socialist, government-owned roads.
Meanwhile there’s almost universal support for Social Security, our government insurance. And half the country—including Medicare and Medicaid recipients, veterans, and federal elected officials — receives some form of socialist, government-funded health care.
Consider also the Tennessee Valley Authority, a federally owned corporation created by Congress in 1933. Tennessee and five nearby states were devastated by poverty, hunger, and ill health. Only 1 percent of farm families had indoor plumbing, and about a third of the population in the valley had malaria.
Starting in 1933, our taxes paid to build TVA power plants, ﬂood control, and river navigation systems. In 1942 alone, the construction of 12 hydroelectric and one coal steam plant employed a total of 28,000 workers.
Today the TVA is a federally-owned corporation with assets worth over $34 trillion, according to the SEC. And while Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell rails against socialism, half of his constituents in Kentucky buy cheap, publicly produced TVA electricity. Free-market, for-profit, capitalist power states often pay twice as much.
Like our highway system, we need to change our TVA to meet the challenges of climate change. But that means better priorities and more investment, not less.
Federal taxes paid for the highways and the TVA, which are now supported by gas taxes and electric bills. In those years of great public works projects, the wealthy elite paid a much greater share of their income in taxes, with the highest marginal tax rate reaching 94 percent.
Claiming that government is the problem, not the solution, administrations since the 1970s have reduced that top rate over and over. The 2017 tax law again reduced the top rate for billionaires, creating great fortunes for a few, and great national debt, but not great public works.
Let’s get past the S-word—socialism—and have a real discussion on how to build an America that’s great for all of us.
Tim Butterworth is a retired teacher and former state legislator from Chesterfield, New Hampshire.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.
The 9/11 attacks, Sen. Bernie Sanders said Wednesday, “began an era of endless war for our country and we must change course.” (Photo: Erik McGregor/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Sen. Bernie Sanders marked the anniversary of the September 11th attacks on Wednesday by calling for the nation to get off the path of never-ending war it’s pursued since the start of the so-called war on terror.
“Instead of staying focused on those who attacked us,” Sanders said in a statement, “the Bush administration chose to declare a global ‘war on terror’ in order justify its 2003 invasion of Iraq, a country that had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks. The war on terror has turned into an endless war.”
And that, Sanders continued, has had deleterious effects, including a $6 trillion price tag and a weakening of U.S. democracy. Endless war has also unleashed blowback—”it has produced more terrorists,” he said.
His somber reflection stressed the need to one of the post-9/11 conflicts—the war in Afghanistan.
“If we do not move decisively to end America’s longest war,” Sanders wrote on Twitter, “we will soon see servicemembers fight and die in Afghanistan and around the world in a conflict that was started before they were born.'”
A new approach to global engagement is necessary, said Sanders.
“We must envision a new form of American engagement: one in which we lead not in war-making but in finding shared solutions to shared global challenges,” he said. “U.S. power should be measured not by our ability to blow things up, but to bring people together around our common humanity.”
Sanders is one of the Democratic White House hopefuls that has signed a pledge affirming his intention of ending the “endless war.”
Rolled out earlier this year by the veteran-led grassroots organization Common Defense, signers promise they will “act to bring the Forever War to a responsible and expedient conclusion.”
While frontrunner Joe Biden has not added his name, other 2020 Democrats have: Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker, former HUD Secretary Julian Castro, and entrepreneur Andrew Yang.Our work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. Feel free to republish and share widely.
California’s groundbreaking Public Banking Act, AB 857, was approved by the State Senate today with widespread support 25 Aye’s, 11 No’s. The bill now has 17 co-authors in addition to the two lead authors Assemblymembers David Chiu and Miguel Santiago.
Next stop: The bill returns to the Assembly floor for a concurrence vote due to amendments added by the Senate. The California Public Banking Alliance is highly optimistic that the Assembly will pass the bill a second time and that Gov. Gavin Newsom will sign it, following a very encouraging meeting last month between the Alliance and his office. The Assembly vote could come as soon as tomorrow, Sept 12, and the California Public Banking Alliance is asking Californians to call their Assemblymembers to urge the ten undecided members to vote YES on AB 857:
With these votes, California is on the verge of a real financial revolution.
The Progressive Era was a period of widespread social activism and political reform across the United States that spanned the 1890s to the 1920s. The main objectives of the Progressive movement were eliminating problems caused by industrialization, urbanization, immigration, and political corruption. The movement primarily targeted political machines and their bosses. By taking down these corrupt representatives in office, a further means of direct democracy would be established. They also sought regulation of monopolies (trust busting) and corporations through antitrust laws, which were seen as a way to promote equal competition for the advantage of legitimate competitors.
Democratic Debate Watch Party co-hosted by Labor for Bernie + East Bay Democratic Socialists of America Tuesday, October 15, 4:30-8:00 pm East Bay Community Space 507 55th st, Oakland RSVP here Facebook event here
STOP DEPORTATION DEMONSTRATIONS at ICE immigration holding center (deportations) Mondays and Wednesdays 4 – 6 pm at 630 Sansome Street San Francisco, California Let’s build a permanent presence at I.C.E. to stop the deportations. Bring signs, Spread widely. Stop Deportations Block I.C.E. Melt I.C.E. with LOVE LOVE not HATE JOIN US NO BAN, NO WALL INSIST ON LOVE We are all immigrants Say it loud, say it clear, // immigrants are welcome here (two sides of a sign) Never Again *non-violence* Chants: No hate, no fear, immigrants are welcome here refugees are welcome here, No ban, no wall, sanctuary for all… Continue reading →
We’ll be having a weekly Phonebank at the Bernie office HQ in the Mission on Wednesday nights, 5-8pm. The address is 2235 Mission St, between 18th and 19th. We’ll start with a training and you’ll get practice how to make effective calls and have great conversations with voters!
San Francisco Peace Vigil@ One Post Street, on the steps facing Market Street, below Feinstein’s office, directly above the Montgomery BART/Muni station)
Oct 16 @ 5:30 pm – 6:30 pm
San Francisco Peace Vigil Join CODEPINK, World Can’t Wait, Occupy SF and others for our weekly (most Wednesdays) Peace Vigil. This week we will rise for Yemeni people. WHEN: Wednesday, April 12th @ 5:30-6:30pm WHERE: find us with a huge PEACE banner at One Post Street in San Francisco (on the steps facing Market Street, below Feinstein’s office, directly above the Montgomery BART/Muni station) Contact us here
Last Chance Don – This is it! Registration and hotel booking for the 2019 Single Payer Strategy Conference closes today at 9PM PT. The time is now – register! REGISTER We are continuously updating the program as new speakers and workshops are confirmed, and all will be finalized by this weekend. Confirmed workshops include: Base-Building: Strategies for Growing Our Grassroots Power What Does a Just Transition Look Like? Winning Municipal Resolutions for Medicare for All Building a feminist, multi-racial, pro-immigrant, accessible movement for Medicare for All: Why and how? Bird-Dogging Reluctant Candidates & Legislators Today is also the last day to book a discounted… Continue reading →
Inspired by the Swedish student, Greta Thunberg, the student strikers and Naomi Klein’s new book “On Fire: The Burning Case for the Green New Deal,” I have decided to upend my life, leave my comfort zone and move to Washington, D.C. for four months to focus on climate change. As Greta said, “This is a crisis. We have to act like our house is on fire, because it is.” So, every Friday I will host an action called — Fire Drill Friday — at 11am on the East Lawn of the Capitol Building, followed by a direct action. Each Friday we will focus on a different… Continue reading →
San Francisco Fridays for Future San Francisco, CA 5 members Public group Join this group What we’re about We need to follow our children and take real action to let our local, state and federal representatives know that this is a climate emergency and needs crisis-level thinking and crisis-level collaboration. Many of us have jobs that won’t let us strike every Friday, but that doesn’t mean we have to just sit on the sidelines. As the awesome Greta Thunberg says, “Activism works. So act” I would like to meet and work with other Bay Area adults and youth who feel… Continue reading →
Sensible Cinema Sponsored by the UUSF Social Justice Council A Tribute to the 400th Anniversary of Slavery in America SLAVERY by Another Name Friday, October 18, 2019, 6:30pm Unitarian Universalist Center 1187 Franklin Street @ Geary Blvd. The belief that slavery ended with the Emancipation Proclamation is challenged in the documentary Slavery By Another Name directed by Sam Pollard. The film recounts how in the years following the Civil War a new form of forced labor emerged in the American South. Tolerated by both the South and the North thousands of African –Americans were subjected to another brutal system of bondage… Continue reading →