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

Beauty Contestants Now for World War, not World Peace

Even within what Dr. King called the greatest purveyor of violence in the world, there used to be one constituency you could count on to speak up for world peace: beauty contestants.

No more. And the switch has produced no scandal. Last year, when Miss Italy said she wished she could live during World War II, survivors of that worst ever horror that humanity has inflicted on itself, and other people of normal intelligence in Italy, were scandalized.

But when a soon-to-be Miss USA recently praised read more

Lessons for Peace from Back in the USSR

In the early 1980s almost nobody from the United States traveled to the Soviet Union or vice versa. The Soviets wouldn’t let anybody out, and good Americans were disinclined to visit the Evil Empire. But a woman in California named Sharon Tennison took the threat of nuclear war with the seriousness it deserved and still deserves. She got a group of friends together and asked the Russian consulate for permission to visit Russia, make friends, and learn.

Russia said fine. The U.S. government, read more

Front Line Scratches Surface of Saudi Arabian Squalor

Watch the new Front Line show on Saudi Arabia. Any time (and there are not many) that a corporate U.S. media outlet (yes, that it what PBS is) covers crimes and abuses of a government that the U.S. government is not seeking to overthrow and is in fact propping up, applause is due.

This program shows us how Saudi Arabia shoots protesters, jails protesters and bloggers, tortures people into confessions, executes prisoners, mass-executes prisoners, publicly whips and executes prisoners with knives read more

Secession, Trump, and the Avoidability of Civil War

The Governor of California has joked about building a wall all the way around his state if Donald Trump becomes president of the other 49. Secession would not be a joke had it not been given an undeserved bad name. It would not have that bad name but for our universal acceptance of imperialism and of an overly simplistic history of the U.S. Civil War.

Slavery in the U.S. South was widespread through World War II, Jim Crow through the 1960s, mass incarceration read more