Thursday, May 19, 2005

Democracy Now: Manning Marable & remembering Malcolm X; Ruth Conniff; Tom Hayden; Hollis Henry; Howard Zinn

Democracy Now! (Marcia: "always worth watching")

Headlines for May 19, 2005
- U.S. Rethinks Plans to Cut Back Troop Level
- Army Officers Staged Mock Executions in Iraq
- Senate Opens Judicial Nominee Debate
- AIDS Becomes Leading Cause of Death in South Africa
- FBI May Gain More Power To Subpoena Records
- FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force Criticized
- Environmental & Animal Rights Activists Seen As Threat
- 16 Arrested At Halliburton Protest in Houston

A Life of Reinvention: Manning Marable Chronicles the Life of Malcolm X
Malcolm X was born 80 years ago today. To commemorate the occasion we hear a speech by Columbia University professor Manning Marable chronicling his life. Marable is currently working on a major new biography of Malcolm X which is tentatively titled "Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention."

Malcolm X: Make it Plain
On the 80th anniversary of Malcolm X's birthday we play excerpts of the documentary, "Malcolm X: Make it Plain" produced and directed by Orlando Bagwell. It includes rare archival footage of Malcolm X as well as interviews with such figures as John Henrik Clarke, Maya Angelou, Ossie Davis and much more.

From Headlines, we'll note this item:

FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force Criticized For Questioning Activists
The FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force is coming under new scrutiny for a series of interviews it conducted ahead of last year's political conventions. Dozens of activists and antiwar protesters were questioned by local and federal authorities. At the time FBI officials and then-Attorney General John Ashcroft said that the interviews were based on indications that protesters may be planning violent disruptions. Authorities said one specific threat involved plans to blow up a media van in Boston. But now the FBI has begun releasing documents connected to the conventions and they tell a different story. According to the Washington Post, the new memos provide no indication of specific threat information. Instead, one heavily censored memo from the FBI's Denver field office, characterized the effort as "pretext interviews to gain general information concerning possible criminal activity at the upcoming political conventions and presidential election." Mark Silverstein, of the ACLU of Colorado, said "It's absolutely clear now that the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force -- the one right here in Denver -- is collecting information about peaceful political activity that has nothing to do with terrorism."

From Ruth Conniff's Monday blog at The Progressive, KeShawn e-mails to note "Hillary, Newt, and the real leftwing candidate:"

But this alliance is not really so surprising. Craven self-promotion often trumps ideology in Washington. The buzz Newt and Hillary are generating is something akin to the inside-the-Beltway excitement about the unveiling of a Vice Presidential candidate. Joe Lieberman! Imagine! How daring! How outside-the-box!
As Hillary rolls on toward her inevitable run in 2008, Democrats, progressives, and pundits are talking more and more about whether the old lightning rod for rightwing resentment could turn out to be a viable, moderate candidate after all. Everyone loves the contrarian, "surprising" analysis on Hillary, and the Newt Gingrich news feeds into it: Maybe she's a moderate after all. Maybe she's for a stronger military and a weaker plan for health care.
Actually, Hillary's hawkishness and incrementalism have been on view for a long time.
The enormous hatred she aroused in the Clinton years had little to do with her actual policy positions. As much of the Hillary-bashing focused more on her hairstyle and facial expressions and presumed ball-busting personality as on her (wrongly) perceived leftwing politics. That's why a little shift to the right won't make much difference in how people perceive her. Just the fact of her running will motivate tons of angry Christian soldiers to go to the polls.
Remember, the Republicans took down John Kerry on his Vietnam War record--and for running away from his progressive positions, including his principled opposition to Vietnam. Do you really think Hillary can pull off the moderate makeover that Kerry did not?

Melody e-mails to note Tom Hayden's "No Mystery to Iraq Insurgency, No Mystery to Peace." Here's the opening:

It's scary when the Emperor is blind, especially when it's the Empire's scribes like the New York Times Sunday Review, pondering "the mystery of the insurgency" in Iraq (May 15, 2005). Admitting their complete lack of understanding of the “insurgency”, all the experts interviewed by the Times nevertheless conclude that the military occupation must continue. In this "analysis", the military invasion and occupation become the response to the "insurgency" when the truth is the reverse: the occupation is the cause. The common thread of the diverse strands of insurgency is nationalism. Unable to grasp this essential, the Times is unable to consider that ending the occupation could reduce the violence. Instead, in this weird imperial logic, maintaining the occupation, even it was a mistake, is essential to restoring order. It’s possible, of course, that this mysterious "insurgency" will wither and collapse. But that would be to indulge in faith-based thinking. If the Times would interview anyone with experience in revolutions, armed struggle, or successful peace processes, a different perspective might emerge.

That's just the opening. It's worth reading in full.

The Black Commentator has a their new edition up. (Note, there will not be a May 26th issue:
"Black Commentator will not publish on May 26, 2005. BC will be attending the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists Convention in Phoenix, Arizona.") From it, Russ notes Hollis Henry's "Song of a Never-Was South: Will Disney re-release a twisted film." Here's the opening:

"Davy, Davy Crockett, trackin' the redskins down!" the song goes. If you want to hear the rest, buy Walt Disney's "Davy Crockett – The Complete Televised Series," DVD. The lines, and other choice lyrics like “them redskin varmints,” are from the theme music of the 1950’s show. The DVD was released in 2001. For over two decades now, Disney has been much more careful with another of their “classics” – “Song of the South.” But next year, after resting in the company vault since the 1980’s, this controversial film may be available again.
Since its original, highly successful release in 1946, “Song of the South” has had and continues to have detractors. Adam Clayton Powell Jr. is reported to have called the film an “insult to American minorities.” The NAACP was highly critical of it. Movie critic Roger Ebert, while not advocating total censorship, said in his Chicago Times-Tribune column, that it should be withheld from general audiences because of the effect it could have on children. Of its own volition, Disney sealed away the movie since its last theatrical re-release in 1986 because of the racial stigma attached to it. Jim Hill, a writer specializing in Disney news, reported on his website in late March that the company plans on releasing a "Song of the South" DVD in 2006 for its 60th anniversary.
But the question isn’t whether the film should be banned. The important phenomenon is the legion of incensed and activist fans (white and black) of the movie, fighting hard to have Disney release “Song of the South.” They argue that it’s only a children’s movie. They say any offensive elements the film might have can be looked past. They say Walt Disney’s intentions were good. And most importantly, they question whether the film is offensive at all.

And note that in the upcoming In These Times, Aaron Sarver has an interview with Howard Zinn.

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