As politicians hem and haw about removing the Confederate flag from the South Carolina capitol building, one activist decided she’d take matters into her own hands – literally. On June 27, Bree Newsome, an activist and artist who’s spent a lifetime opposing injustice, climbed the flagpole, removed the flag and was arrested promptly upon hitting the ground. Continue reading
Even as mass shootings in America have become almost a banality, last week’s massacre in Charleston, South Carolina manages to stand out. White supremacist Dylann Roof brought a concealed handgun into an African-American church, issued a series of terrifying proclamations about a race war, and murdered nine people. He intentionally left witnesses so they could repeat his words. Later research uncovered a trove of racism, including a detailed manifesto and pictures of the shooter wearing patches of racist African regimes on his jacket.
Any sane person could acknowledge that our gun culture, combined with venomous and widely proliferated rhetoric about black “takers” and “thugs,” were the ingredients for this act of terror. Yet in the tragedy’s immediate aftermath, conservatives threw their hands up in the air, offered meaningless condolences and said, essentially, “Who knows what went wrong or what we can do about it?” Continue reading
Jerry Seinfeld is not too happy with young people. In a few recent appearances, including Late Night with Seth Meyers, the comedian bemoaned the tendency of millennials to disapprove of “politically incorrect” comedy. Using an audience’s muted reaction to a joke as his example, Seinfeld is worried hypersensitivity is damaging comedy as a profession and art form. Continue reading
The word “socialism” possesses the power in American political discourse to end debates, thwart policy proposals and tarnish reputations. All FOX News has to do is put a politician’s name and “socialist” in the same sentence and the message to their viewers is clear. For millions of Americans, socialism is regarded as an existential, heretical threat.
Part of what enables this is the corruption of our vocabulary to the point where words like “socialism,” “big government” and “fascism” have almost no meaning. It’s bad enough that the technical definitions vary from textbook to textbook and society to society, but many times they often simply stand in for, as George Orwell put it, “something not desirable.” So wildly misunderstood are these concepts that in 2009, anti-Obamacare activists carried signs demanding, “Keep government socialism away from my Medicare.” This is a bit like saying, “Keep the post office away from my mail.”
Now, with self-described democratic socialist Senator Bernie Sanders entering the 2016 presidential race and drawing widespread popular support, the tide might be changing. But convincing Americans to violate capitalist dogma is tricky, even if it’s in their best interest. Here, capitalism is not so much an economic model as it is a national religion, with defenders as fanatical as any other. Continue reading
Of the last seven presidential terms, only Barack Obama’s two have not been held by a Bush or Clinton. Preliminary media coverage is already predicting the 2016 ticket will be Jeb Bush vs. Hillary Clinton, keeping the dynastic tradition intact. A more depressing – not to mention less democratic – prospect is difficult to imagine. But Americans are lucky to have a candidate who promises to shake up our lesser-of-two-evils politics in 2016: Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Continue reading