The Great Dismal World Outside the Swamp

The Smithsonian magazine recently published an article about the Great Dismal Swamp. I picked up the book that the article is based on, but the article does a better job of telling the story; I don’t recommend the book.

The Great Dismal Swamp of Virginia and North Carolina appears to have been a place where African, European, and Native Americans found refuge from slavery, indenture, and genocide ? and not just momentary refuge, but permanent settlement that lasted for centuries with read more

Who Killed the People of California? Should Kaepernick Protest His Uniform?

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has been given much deserved credit for protesting racism by sitting out the Star Spangled Banner, which not only glorifies war (which everyone, including Kaepernick is totally cool with) but also includes racism in an unsung verse and was written by a racist slave owner whose earlier version had included anti-Muslim bigotry. As long as we?re opening our eyes to unpleasant history hiding in plain sight, it?s worth asking why read more

Snowden: Best Film of the Year

Snowden is the most entertaining, informing, and important film you are likely to see this year.

It?s the true story of an awakening. It traces the path of Edward Snowden?s career in the U.S. military, the CIA, the NSA, and at various contractors thereof. It also traces the path of Edward Snowden?s agonizingly slow awakening to the possibility that the U.S. government might sometimes be wrong, corrupt, or criminal. And of course the film takes us through Snowden?s courageous read more

One City Is Following Through on Protests of Confederate Monuments

Charlottesville is a diverse, enlightened, and progressive college town in Virginia with its public spaces dominated by war memorials, in particular memorials to Confederate soldiers not from Charlottesville who represent a five-year moment in the centuries of this place?s history, as viewed by one wealthy white male racist donor at another moment in the 1920s. As the Black Lives Matter movement took off nationally this year, many Charlottesville residents demanded that imposing monuments read more

The Activist as a Young Girl

Clare Hanrahan’s memoir The Half Life of a Free Radical: Growing Up Irish Catholic in Jim Crow Memphis is a remarkable feat: part Jack Kerouac, part Dorothy Day, part Howard Zinn, and a bit of Forest Gump.

First and foremost this is an entertaining and irreverent tale of childhood and adolescence told with great humor, honesty, and empathy. But it?s also told by someone who became a peace and justice and environmentalist activist in later life, someone able to look back on the poverty, read more

"Flag Day Has Been Canceled!"

If that headline sounds a bit like “God Is Dead” to you, you just might be from the United States. Only what the people who live in this one country of the American hemisphere call “an American” carries that variety of flag passion. If, on the other hand, you find watching paint dry more engaging than the suspense of waiting for the next Flag Day, you just might be a candidate for citizen of the world.

In fact, I think Flag Day read more