Ethnic Studies Courses for White Children

ethnic studies October 30th, 2018

The following blog is written by guest blogger Jon Greenberg, a high school teacher, activist and writer. I wanted to present this take on white privilege because I believe that it is important in this time of hyperpartisanship, ethnic divisions, and political demagoguery. I am pretty much on the left when it comes to how I feel about race, racism, privilege, institutionalized racism, etc. That is to say that I am not all the way to the left; for example, I find Mr. Greenberg’s use of capitalization in the phrase “People of Color” to be silly and overdone. However, it is only slightly more mistaken than a lot of the beliefs and customs that my fellow European Americans to the right of me hold. Somewhere in between political correctness and social justice is where I come down on this topic. What follows is why Mr. Greenberg believes ethnic studies courses are useful for his white children (and white Americans everywhere):

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America’s Oligarchy Is Repugnant

oligarchy is repugnant September 12th, 2018

I am now preparing for Hurricane Florence to pummel the crap out of my family and me. It is astonishing, angering, and outrageous to hear a tape of Donald Trump touting the great job he and his team did with Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico last year. He is just such an appallingly poor excuse for a president I can hardly describe it without throwing my computer monitor out of the window. It’s that bad in my opinion. I thought G.W. Bush was bad, but now when I hear him talk, I long for those days! It’s just topsy-turvy in the extreme. My point in this blog is that I hope Hillary Clinton, Bill, Chuck Schumer, the DNC, and especially Debbie Wasserman-Schultz wake up every day and lament their actions in the 2016 Democratic Primary. The Ancient Athenian historian and general Thucydides pointed out that “Ordinary men usually manage public affairs better than their more gifted fellows. For on public matters no one can hear and decide so well as the many”; he was speaking against oligarchy in favor of democracy. Though democracy has never been perfect, and our founders feared granting power to anyone but aristocratic white men, it seems abundantly clear that America’s oligarchy is repugnant. 

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Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick on V.P. Henry Wallace

Henry Wallace January 14th, 2018

Henry Wallace was truly a remarkable American. He really cared about people and their economic condition. He was also against racism, colonialism, imperialism, and war with the Soviet Union. He grew from an Iowa farmer to be a very influential progressive statesman. Not only did he serve three terms with Roosevelt and play a huge role in politics for a vice-president, he was widely respected both at home and abroad. He co-founded the magazine The New Republic, became a millionaire based on the genetic improvements of corn he pioneered, and ran on the Progressive Party ticket for POTUS. Oliver Stone, Peter Kuznick, and Matt Graham tell the story of his rise and fall in their Untold History of the United States. Here is a brief summary of the man, and his political assassination.

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A Man of Principle: Bernie Sanders Quotes

Bernie Sanders quotes December 21st, 2017

Bernie Sanders, the independent Senator from Vermont, is known to almost all nowadays. For decades, though, he has been serving his community, state, and country with dignity, honor, and dedication. He really is a man of principle; I believe that. He probably isn’t perfect, but he has taken up the progressive torch and run hard with it. Not only is that an extremely challenging role, he also has billionaires, oligarchs, plutocrats, and other shady characters aligned against him. It’s amazing that the only things that have come out about him that are dubious, hyperbolic, and made-up. It is my pleasure to run through a dozen compelling Bernie Sanders quotes to inspire, enlighten, and reassure you during these extraordinarily tough times. I will also note which value or values I believe each of his quotations are truly about. 

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Economic Justice: My Ideal Society Described

justice December 9th, 2017

What would a society that really paid attention to economic justice look like? Here are some thoughts on the philosophical underpinnings of such a society. The basic structure of my favored economic system is roughly welfare statism centers around merit, equity, progressive goals, and just desserts. There is little of laissez-faire capitalism in this system, though, to my understanding, the welfare state needs to be based on an open market, with its emphasis on supply and demand, private ownership of the means of production, and due recognition of human nature. Thus, my system would stop short of a true, radical egalitarianism, or Marxism/State socialism/Communism. Those systems are too pie-in the-sky and frankly, just political impossibilities. Whereas many of the ideas Bernie Sanders touted during his almost-successful bid for the presidency are workable and politically possible, the State taking over all the means of production and taking private property from the oligarchs and plutocrats in this globalized system is a non-starter. Most Americans would not be in favor of a radically egalitarian distribution of societal goods, either. It just isn’t in our ethos. There is a lot we would be up for, and I will spell out my thoughts about economic justice in an ideal society.

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Politics: Interview w/ Arianna Huffington (V&E-6)

politics October 15th, 2017

The following is an excerpt from the book Values & Ethics: From Living Room to Boardroom, taken from the name of an Internet-based talk radio show I did in times past. The topic of chapter six is “Morality Applied to Politics.” My two impressive partners in dialogue are noted author and thought leader Arianna Huffington and progressive economics, politics, and philosophy expert, David Callahan, Ph.D. Discussed are progressive politics, morality in politics, government, ethics, and responsive government.

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Greed: Wall Street’s Financial Fraud

greed October 11th, 2017

This blog is about skepticism toward America’s financial services sector: Wall Street, big banks, hedge funds, etc., as well as the lobbyists, politicians, and professors who collude and conspire with the industry’s many bad actors. I’m talking about capitalism and power run amok. Greed. I just watched Inside Job,  by remarkable filmmaker Charles Ferguson. America has such a complex financial and political landscape, I want to criticize, but it is hard to know where to begin. I will crack my knuckles and give you what I’ve got.

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Quotations on Virtue, Liberty & Character

quotations on virtue September 22nd, 2017

The Declaration of Independence, the drafting of the Constitution of the United States, and the men (alas, they were all men) who framed these documents are our intellectual forbearers. We – at least those of us who are on the Left – tend not to think about them that much. Heck, I have an oil painting of Jefferson, Adams and Franklin hashing out the Declaration and I rarely think about the principles of the founders. However, I bought a 12-part lecture on these men, their ideas, and their ingenious works: American Ideals: Founding a Republic of Virtue. In this blog, I will share a few quotations on virtue, liberty, character, duty, democracy, and republic – 18th-century wisdom that can help us in our struggles and challenges today.

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Virtues: Society’s Guiding Light

love is best among virtues September 10th, 2017

Since time immemorial, values, virtues, and societal norms (and mores, folkways, etc.) have been part and parcel of the fabric of every civilization. Not only is interesting to think of the ways in which different cultures differ from each other and how societies can spin out of control, it is exciting to think of the ways in which certain virtues hold up beautifully over time. For example, every society has more or less valued the virtue of truth: honesty, fair dealing, justified belief, etc. A society which prized chicanery, deceit, and unscrupulous behavior would not long last. Trust and law are the glue that hold a people together, and thus, the virtue of truth is written into the sacred texts, myths, laws, and norms of a society. Read on to see which virtues are tried and true, and ideally gain some inspiration for honoring them. 

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The Commons: Crucial Public Goods

The Commons means "public" September 10th, 2017

K. Sabeel Rahman wrote a tidy piece about “public goods” – basically, goods and services open to the public. Contrast this with private and member-only kinds of benefits and accoutrements. Things such as public roads, public water, public sewer, open spaces and parks, museums, schools, fire protection and the like are public goods that (typically) are funded by tax dollars. Here is why preserving the Commons for us all is critical.

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