SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE: “How Atheist Campaigner Madalyn Murray O’Hair Became America’s Most-hated Woman” / The Guardian ☮

This week, the film The Most Hated Woman in America comes to Netflix, with Melissa Leo playing Madalyn Murray O’Hair, the atheist who campaigned against the church’s influence in public and political life (the title comes from the headline on a 1964 interview with her in Life magazine). While Murray O’Hair is not widely known outside of the US, she had an extraordinary life. Long before the likes of Richard Dawkins, she gained notoriety for helping to push bible readings out of schools, and in 1963 she founded American Atheists. It’s a group that is still going today, campaigning against Donald Trump’s plan to abolish the rule that forbids religious institutions, among other charitable organisations, from getting involved in political activity and funding). For the next few decades, Murray O’Hair devoted her life to campaigning against the church’s power. She was a contentious figure, and when she disappeared in 1995, along with her son and granddaughter from their home in Austin, Texas, that too was controversial.

h/t: Continue reading . . .

A true-crime biopic about the disappearance of Madalyn Murray O’Hair, founder of the “American Atheists” and pioneering firebrand in the political culture war, The Most Hated Woman in America captures the rise and fall of a complex character who was a controversial villain to some and an unlikely hero to others.

The film stars Academy Award® winner Melissa Leo, Josh Lucas, Adam Scott, Vincent Kartheiser and Juno Temple, and was directed by Tommy O’Haver from a script by O’Haver and Irene Turner. Elizabeth Banks, Max Handelman and Laura Rister produced.

The Most Hated Woman in America premieres on Netflix on March 24, 2017.

PROGRESSIVE INDEPENDENT JOURNALISM: “Pres. Correa: Fighting Poverty and Foreign Domination” / Empire Files / Abby Martin ☮

After 10 years and three terms, Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa’s time in office has ended. Under his administration Ecuador made far-reaching economic and social gains, despite having inherited a country on the brink of collapse.

In one of his last interviews before leaving office, Abby Martin talks to him about his legacy, his critics, and the struggle ahead for Ecuador and beyond.

From commenting on Trump and the global crisis of inequality, to addressing CIA plots and opposition in his own country, hear Correa’s last words as President to the people of Latin America and the United States.

PROGRESSIVE INDEPENDENT JOURNALISM: “Trump, Fascism, and the Christian Right” / teleSUR English / Empire Files / Chris Hedges and Abby Martin ☮

For the first time in modern history, a fringe wing of Christian extremists have obtained the highest seats of power in the US government—from Mike Pence to Betsy DeVos.

This new development is coupled with the emergence of the Alt Right, the Trump movement, and the rise of fascist movements abroad.

Renowned journalist and author Chris Hedges has embedded himself in what he calls “Christianized Fascism” and warns that this is the biggest danger we face under Trump.

PROGRESSIVE INDEPENDENT JOURNALISM: “James Baldwin and the Meaning of Whiteness” / truthdig / Chris Hedges / 02.19.2017 ☮

james_baldwin_37_allan_warren_590Raoul Peck’s “I Am Not Your Negro” is one of the finest documentaries I have ever seen—I would have stayed in the theater in New York to see the film again if the next showing had not been sold out. The newly released film powerfully illustrates, through James Baldwin’s prophetic work, that the insanity now gripping the United States is an inevitable consequence of white Americans’ steadfast failure to confront where they came from, who they are and the lies and myths they use to mask past and present crimes. Baldwin’s only equal as a 20th century essayist is George Orwell. If you have not read Baldwin you probably do not fully understand America. Especially now.

To see a trailer for “I Am Not Your Negro,” click here. Click here for a longer version.

History “is not the past,” the film quotes Baldwin as saying. “History is the present. We carry our history with us. To think otherwise is criminal.”

The script is taken from Baldwin’s notes, essays, interviews and letters, with some of the words delivered in Baldwin’s voice from audio recordings and televised footage, some of them in readings by actor Samuel L. Jackson. But it is not, finally, the poetry and lyricism of Baldwin that make the film so moving. It is Peck’s understanding of the core of Baldwin’s message to the white race, a message that is vital to grasp as we struggle with an overt racist as president, mass incarceration, poverty gripping half the country and militarized police murdering unarmed black men and women in the streets of our cities.

Whiteness is a dangerous concept. It is not about skin color. It is not even about race. It is about the willful blindness used to justify white supremacy. It is about using moral rhetoric to defend exploitation, racism, mass murder, reigns of terror and the crimes of empire.

Continue reading . . .

PROGRESSIVE INDEPENDENT JOURNALISM: “The Soldiers of Odin: Inside Canada’s Extremist Vigilante Group” / VICE News / Ben Makuch ☮

VICE News investigates the Soldiers of Odin and their declared commitment to preserving Canadian values. Amid rising Islamophobia and violence in Canada, reporter Ben Makuch explores the blurry line between nationalist pride and racist rhetoric.