I will be swapping a TV studio for a webcam in my living room in order to produce the next episodes of Other Voices TV. Like seemingly everybody else, we’re going to do the Zoom Webinar thing. And I hope you’ll tune in from wherever you are.
I created Other Voices TV for Peninsula Peace and Justice Center in the fall of 1997. It has been through some format changes over the years. It started out as a televised version of the monthly forums we had already been holding on a monthly basis. So it was a guest lecturer followed by Q&A with the audience.
“Obama has the thing that Trump has always craved but never achieved, and that’s respect. I’ve always thought that … is something that just eats Trump alive inside.” ~ Matthew Miller, former Obama Public Affairs Director, quoted in Trump’s latest attack shows endless obsession with Obama, The Guardian 5/16/20
My first direct experience of state violence came during the protests that erupted after the Kent State killings on May 4, 1970. By “direct” I mean getting teargassed and billy clubbed live and in person! I wasn’t alone.
The week that followed the Kent State tragedy was a week of explosive protests around the country, mostly on college campuses. The protests were uniformly met with police violence. Hundreds of colleges and high schools were closed down by students going on strike in protest of the killings and the escalating Vietnam War. Some four million students joined the strikes. A mere five days after the shootings, 100,000 people descended on the nation’s capitol to express their outrage.
To celebrate May Day this year, I am hereby launching Operation Postcard, a project with the three-in-one goals of helping to save the Post Office, sending a message of support to postal workers, and engaging in a bit of human outreach in this time of sheltering in place.
Here’s the deal: I’ll send you a postcard featuring one of my photographs and a hand-written note. In return, you promise to contact your US Senators and urge them to bail out and save the US Postal Service. Obviously, this will be on the honor system, but I trust you. For now, all you need to do is send me your snail mail address. You can message me on Facebook or email me at email@example.com (Offer valid only while supplies or my postage budget last.)
I’ll get into the nuts and bolts of why we need to do this in a moment, but first let me point out a couple of hidden benefits to this offer beyond saving the post office. First, I consider myself a pretty good photographer, a lifelong hobbyist who has often been told that I have a “good eye”. So you’ll be getting a photograph that you’ll be proud to stick on your refrigerator door. That’s one thing. The other benefit is that the hand-written note from me will undoubtedly be a hot item for future Paul George memorabilia collectors. Your descendants will be forever grateful to you, I’m sure.
I’ve been away from the blog for a bit because I’ve been helping my former employer, Peninsula Peace and Justice Center, organize an online Virtual Climate Rally. In addition to learning and testing the online platform (Zoom … what else?), I’ve mostly had my head buried in Adobe Premiere editing the video you see above. It was worth the effort.
Friday, April 24 was originally set as the date for another round of global protests like the Global Climate Strike that took place last September. The virus dashed those plans.
As a result of going virtual, however, we’ve ended up with a film filled with inspiration. As the individual videos arrived from the student activists who had been invited to speak, I was touched time and again. Here they are facing two immense threats to their future — a global pandemic that is still burning out of control and the specter of climate change — yet each of them expressed determination and hope.
“Virtual” anything is a poor substitute for the real thing. But the dedication and commitment evinced by these young people is absolutely authentic.
In addition to the inspiration, the video features a moving musical interlude from blues man Kenny Neal and some fun video surprises engineered by editing wizard TD. After watching, please share far and wide!
Here’s the contact info for everybody appearing in the video.
Aria Luna – Young artist and climate activist Aria Luna, who showcases a short animation she created for this special event. https://www.arialuna.com
Kristy Mualim – Kristy Mualim is formally trained as a computational geneticist at Stanford University, and is also part of the Sunrise Movement fighting for state-level Green New Deal policies. email firstname.lastname@example.org
Kenny Neal is known as a modern swamp-blues and multi-instrumentalist. His Grammy nominated songs draw from the sizzling sounds of his native Louisiana. http://www.kennyneal.net/
“Thousands of Americans would be alive today if President Trump had spent more time listening to the World Health Organization instead of trying to destroy it.” Nicholas Kristof, Trump’s Deadly Search for a Scapegoat NY Times 4/15/2020
In yet another pathetic effort to deflect blame from himself, the Mad Orange King has announced a suspension of US funding for the World Health Organization. In the midst of a global pandemic.
While the Mad Man-Child’s motive may be pathetic, the results will be tragically fatal. Congress must stop him. Now.
Back in 1975, an influential think tank called the Trilateral Commission issued a report titled “The Crisis of Democracy.” The report gloomily described the problems of governance in the major western democracies. According to the report, the problems stemmed “from an excess of democracy” caused primarily by the “new activism” in the United States, especially the robust antiwar movement.
You read that right. Too much democracy was causing headaches for the ruling elite. Poor things.
Today, Trump and the morally bankrupt Republican Party are facing a similar crisis of too much democracy. This time the excess of democracy arises from the growing calls to have universal mail-in balloting for the November presidential elections. Mail-in voting is, in fact, the number one recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control for keeping voters safe in the age of coronavirus.
Although I had spent most of the previous year working for the Gene McCarthy for president campaign — the leading anti-Vietnam War candidate of the 1968 election — I didn’t get to personally participate in a mass anti-war demonstration until April 5, 1969, fifty-one years ago. As a 17-year-old, I was impressed.
The march was held in New York City. I and two friends drove up together from our New Jersey suburbs. We rented a double room at a YMCA (in or near Greenwich Village, as best as I recall). We managed to increase the sleeping capacity of the small room when we came upon another room that was in the middle of being cleaned. The door was wide open and the beds were stripped. Most importantly, no one was around. So we grabbed one of the mattresses and ran down the hall to our room. Voila! Accommodations for three.
On Saturday the 5th, we protesters gathered in Bryant Park and eventually marched up Sixth Avenue (the so-called Avenue of the Americas) to Central Park, where the rally was held. The march was kept to one side of Sixth Avenue so traffic could continue to flow. Every once in a while, police would hold up the march to allow crosstown traffic to cross the road. It was all very polite. Somewhere between 50,000 and 100,000 people participated.
I don’t recall any of the speeches or speakers. I don’t recall any of the musical performers, although I’d bet that there were some big names involved. It was New York City, after all, in 1969. What I do remember quite clearly is feeling something I’d never experienced before — the feeling of being part of a movement. A mass movement. It felt powerful. It was exhilarating. It was inspiring. I wanted more.
The arc of my life started taking shape in 1968 during the McCarthy campaign. The anti-war march in New York cemented it. I’ve been marching ever since. And when this coronavirus thing is finally over, we all better be marching again.
One thing that’s been bothering me from the start of this virus outbreak is the use of the term “social distancing.” Obviously, its widespread use has worked pretty well. People are definitely learning to keep their distance from one another, students on Spring Break in Florida being a notable and regrettable exception.