Archive | July, 2012

The Nameless: Deportees and Immigrants

25 Jul 9781568586816

In 1948,  Woody Guthrie wrote his haunting song “Deportee” after reading a New York Timesarticle that identified the victims of an airplane crash simply as “deportees” without names, but identified the names of the pilot and crew. Yesterday’s New York Times did the same thing in an article about a truck crash in Texas that killed 14 people identified in the headline and story only as “illegal immigrants.”   I wrote about this disturbing parallel in theHuffington Post today in an article,  “64 Years Later, Dead Undocumented Immigrants Are Still Nameless in the New York Times.”

Guthrie’s words, written 64 years ago about the mistreatment of Mexican migrant workers –“They chase us like outlaws, like rustlers, like thieves” – are, unfortunately, hardly outdated.

Saul Alinsky Elementary School?!

24 Jul 9781568586816

Saul Alinsky Elementary School?

Gloria Steinem Middle School?

Pete Seeger High?

Seem far-fetched? You’d be surprised by all the radicals and progressives whose names adorn public schools and other public spaces.  My article in today’s Huffington Post provides a list.

Who Is the “Greatest”?

20 Jul 9781568586816

When Matt Lewis, a conservative blogger, interviewed me on his “Daily Caller” radio show last week, he mistakenly (and perhaps inadvertently) called my new book, “The 100 Greatest Progressives of the 20th Century.” In fact, the book is called “The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame.”  But his confusion is understandable, because most lists of “greatest” Americans include the usual suspects like Henry Ford, Charles Lindbergh, John Rockefeller, Ronald Reagan,  Walt Disney, Louis B. Mayer, D. W. Griffith, and even Babe Ruth and Elvis Presley.  You won’t find any of those names in my book.  They may have been accomplished in their specific fields, but they did not contribute to making America a more just, equal, or democratic society, which is how I define “greatest.”  Most of them, in fact, actively opposed movements for social justice. Henry Ford was a reactionary, an anti-semite, a vicious union buster, and an admirer of Hitler. Aviator Lindbergh shared Ford’s anti-semitism and admiration of Hitler.  Rockefeller, Disney and Mayer were corporate tycoons, right wingers, and union busters. Filmmaker Griffith was a pathbreaker in his use of camera techniques, but he was a rapid racist, as revealed in his most famous movie, The Birth of a Nation, which included positive portrayals of slavery and the Ku Klux Klan and outrageous stereotypes of African Americans. Reagan, a one-time union president, became a right-wing Republican and foe of progressive movements. Babe Ruth was a fantastic athlete and Elvis was a remarkable entertainer, but neither meet my criteria for greatness. Muhammad Ali used to call himself “The Greatest.”  He was referring to his boxing skills. If that was his only claim to fame, he wouldn’t be profiled in my book. But he was not only an outstanding pugilist but also a fierce opponent of America’s war in Vietnam who defied his government by refusing to be drafted, risking prison and the withdrawal of his boxing title.  Ali transcended his role as a sports figure to become a man acclaimed around the world as a person of conscience. So he does belong in my book of 100 Greatest Americans of the 20thCentury, along with folks like Eugene Debs, Jane Addams,  Emma Goldman, Helen Keller, W.E.B. DuBois, Dorothy Day, Norman Thomas, A.J. Muste, A. Philip Randolph, Ella Baker, Saul Alinsky, Pete Seeger, Howard Zinn, Gloria Steinem, Michael Harrington, Ted Kennedy,  Barbara Ehrenreich, Bruce Springsteen, and Michael Moore.

TUNE IN! KCRW tonight @ 7 p.m.

19 Jul 9781568586816

I will be speaking on Warren Olney’s show tonight about my new book.

Tune in at 7 p.m. on KCRW (89.9 FM)…

Tune in for some straight talk about social justice!

Check out the 100 and offer your thoughts

18 Jul 9781568586816

The 100 Americans profiled in the book have just been posted!

Check out the list and let me know what you think in the comments section at the bottom of the list.

     

Is there someone you think should be on the list who isn’t? Or someone who is on the list who you don’t think should be there?

The Sweatshop Olympics

18 Jul 9781568586816

Out of nowhere, members of Congress, including Republicans, are outraged that the uniforms for the 2012  U.S. Olympic team are made in China. Some of them even want to burn the uniforms and force the US Olympic Committee to purchase American-made versions.  But what’s outrageous is not that the uniforms are made in China, but that they are made in sweatshops! And the same Republicans who pretend to be outraged at the Olympic Committee’s out-sourcing haven’t lifted a finger to deal with the exploitation of Asian workers toiling for US-based corporations like Wal-Mart, Nike, and most other global companies that produce clothing, toys, and computers. What did they expect? The US Olympic Committee raises its money from private corporations who, in turn, expect their corporate names and logos to be attached to the Olympics in endless ways. The American team uniforms were made by Ralph Lauren which, like almost every other apparel corporation, produces its clothing in Asians sweatshops.  There IS an alternative, however – trade agreements that set standards for workers’ rights.  And for a real-live example of a clothing factory that respects workers’ rights, read about the Alta Gracia factory in the Dominican Republican, which I wrote about for the Nation last year.   (By the way, most American flags are made in China!!)

HOT review from Frying Pan News

17 Jul 9781568586816

“Writer/professor Peter Dreier’s new book is called The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century, a nervy title that dares readers to take a poke at the author’s chin. A corrective to Greatest Generation blather, Dreier’s 100 profiles refract a century of progressive movements through the lives of leaders whose native radicalism helped push America toward a more humane vision of society.”

Check out the rest of the article here.

Visualize Our Lopsided Economy

16 Jul 9781568586816

I’m often impressed by how some people with better graphic skills than me can put together graphs and charts that explain key aspects of our economy that are easy to understand but not over-simplified.  The Telltale Chart website is one of the best, including this graphic, Robber Barons Revisited showing the increasing share of our GDP that goes to owners (versus workers).  The ConnecttheDotsUSA website has this fantastic graphic revealing Wealth Distribution: Perception vs. Reality. It reveals that Americans are much more egalitarian than most media or politicians give them credit for. And thanks to the progressive think tank Demos for this series of easy-to-read charts tracking the reality of poverty.

Interviews…

15 Jul 9781568586816

Matt Lewis, a conservative blogger, interviewed me about my new book on his “Daily Caller” radio show. Most of his radio guests lean to the right, but I was impressed that his questions were fair and balanced (to coin a phrase), and that he’d obviously read the book!  You can hear the 30-minute interview here. Barry Lynn interviewed me today on his syndicated “Culture Shocks” radio show about my book. You can hear the 40-minute interview on the show’s website, linked here.  Jon Wiener, the respected historian who writes frequently for The Nation, interviewed me on his KPFK radio show last Wednesday (7/11), which you can hear here.   

The Homeowner Bill of Rights: brought to you by the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment

13 Jul 9781568586816

The Homeowner Bill of Rights is a HUGE victory for progressives. This article explains why it will help lot of homeowners facing foreclosure. But, in a ridiculous example of “he said/she said” reporting, the reporter quotes an economist hired by the banking lobby to defeat the bill, but doesn’t explain that this victory was the result of an incredible two-year grassroots campaign led by the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), which isn’t even mentioned in the article. The ACCE-led coalition beat the combined power of the banking, real estate, and business lobby, including the Chamber of Commerce.