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.

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PROGRESSIVE INDEPENDENT JOURNALISM: “Medicare for All with Dr. Margaret Flowers” / RT America / On Contact with Chris Hedges ☮

In this week’s episode of On Contact, Chris Hedges discusses how the dysfunctional U.S. health care system can be fixed with Dr. Margaret Flowers, a pediatrician and leading advocate for a single-payer system. RT Correspondent Anya Parampil looks at the soaring cost of health care.

PROGRESSIVE INDEPENDENT JOURNALISM: “The Elites Won’t Save Us” / truthdig / Chris Hedges / 02.12.2017 ☮

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The four-decade-long assault on our democratic institutions by corporations has left them weak and largely dysfunctional. These institutions, which surrendered their efficacy and credibility to serve corporate interests, should have been our firewall. Instead, they are tottering under the onslaught.

Labor unions are a spent force. The press is corporatized and distrusted. Universities have been purged of dissidents and independent scholars who criticize neoliberalism and decry the decay of democratic institutions and political parties. Public broadcasting and the arts have been defunded and left on life support. The courts have been stacked with judges whose legal careers were spent serving corporate power, a trend in appointments that continued under Barack Obama. Money has replaced the vote, which is how someone as unqualified as Betsy DeVos can buy herself a Cabinet seat. And the Democratic Party, rather than sever its ties to Wall Street and corporations, is naively waiting in the wings to profit from a Trump debacle.

“The biggest asset Trump has is the decadent, clueless, narcissistic, corporate-indentured, war-mongering Democratic Party,” Ralph Nader said when I reached him by phone in Washington. “If the Democratic strategy is waiting for Godot, waiting for Trump to implode, we are in trouble. And just about everything you say about the Democrats you can say about the AFL-CIO. They don’t control the train.”

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PROGRESSIVE INDEPENDENT JOURNALISM: “Insane Clown President” with Matt Taibbi” / RT America / On Contact with Chris Hedges ☮

On this week’s episode of On Contact, Chris Hedges examines the spectacle of the 2016 presidential election and the system that created President Donald Trump with Matt Taibbi, author of “Insane Clown President”. RT Correspondent Anya Parampil highlights some of the more absurd moments of the election season.

PROGRESSIVE INDEPENDENT JOURNALISM: “The Power of Political Cartoons with Mr. Fish” / RT America / On Contact with Chris Hedges ☮

On this week’s episode of On Contact, Chris Hedges discusses the influence of editorial cartoons and the plight of the artists who make them with political cartoonist Dwayne Booth, also known as Mr. Fish. RT Correspondent Anya Parampil explores what we have done to dissident artists throughout American history.

PROGRESSIVE INDEPENDENT JOURNALISM: “American Psychosis” / truthdig / Chris Hedges / 01.29.2017 ☮

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Reality is under assault. Verbal confusion reigns. Truth and illusion have merged. Mental chaos makes it hard to fathom what is happening. We feel trapped in a hall of mirrors. Exposed lies are answered with other lies. The rational is countered with the irrational. Cognitive dissonance prevails. We endure a disquieting shame and even guilt. Tens of millions of Americans, especially women, undocumented workers, Muslims and African-Americans, suffer the acute anxiety of being pursued by a predator. All this is by design. Demagogues always infect the governed with their own psychosis.

“The comparison between totalitarianism and psychosis is not incidental,” the psychiatrist Joost A.M. Meerloo wrote in his book “The Rape of the Mind: The Psychology of Thought Control, Menticide, and Brainwashing.” “Delusional thinking inevitably creeps into every form of tyranny and despotism. Unconscious backward forces come into action. Evil powers from the archaic past return. An automatic compulsion to go on to self-destruction develops, to justify one mistake with a new one; to enlarge and expand the vicious pathological circle becomes the dominating end of life. The frightened man, burdened by a culture he does not understand, retreats into the brute’s fantasy of limitless power in order to cover up the vacuum inside himself. This fantasy starts with the leaders and is later taken over by the masses they oppress.”

The lies fly out of the White House like flocks of pigeons: Donald Trump’s election victory was a landslide. He had the largest inauguration crowds in American history. Three million to 5 million undocumented immigrants voted illegally. Climate change is a hoax. Vaccines cause autism. Immigrants are carriers of “[t]remendous infectious disease.” The election was rigged—until it wasn’t. We don’t know “who really knocked down” the World Trade Center. Torture works. Mexico will pay for the wall.

This 70-year-old man with orange-tinted skin and hair that Penn Jillette has likened to “cotton candy made of piss” is, as Trump often reminds us, “very good looking.” He knows little of history, politics, law, philosophy, culture or governance but insists “[m]y IQ is one of the highest—and you all know it! Please don’t feel so stupid or insecure, it’s not your fault.” The mediocrities and half-wits he has installed in his Cabinet, some of whom have vowed to destroy the agencies they are appointed to run, have “by far the highest IQ of any Cabinetever assembled.” Conspiracy theories are fact. Scientific facts are conspiracies. America will be great again.

It is an avalanche of absurdities.

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PROGRESSIVE INDEPENDENT JOURNALISM: “The American Empire with Allan Nairn” / RT America / On Contact with Chris Hedges ☮

On this week’s episode of On Contact, host Chris Hedges examines the future of the American empire under the Trump Administration with investigative journalist Allan Nairn. RT Correspondent Anya Parampil looks at the global reach of the American military.