Reflections on 40 Years of Fighting for Racial and Social Justice in Journalism

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Good evening, everyone. My thanks to the J School’s dean, Jelani Cobb, and to Mae Ngai, the co-director of the Center for Ethnicity and Race, for sponsoring this event. My deepest gratitude to professors Nina Alvarez and Claudio Lomnitz and to moderator Ed Morales, a true dream team of journalists and scholars, for agreeing to give their time this afternoon to engage in conversation with me.

Many of you may have heard by now that in a few weeks I will be leaving the New York area, the city that I’ve called home for most of my life, where I grew up, where I was shaped professionally and politically, and will instead be relocating to Chicago, the hometown of my marvelous wife, Lilia Fernández, who’s here, where all her family still resides and where she is now professor of history at University of Illinois. At my age — and I just turned 75 this month — that’s called a major change. And the deeper you get into your golden years, the more aches and pains and illnesses gnaw at you, the greater the tendency to look back and ask, “What did I do with my life all these years?”

So it occurred to me that the best way to say goodbye to this city where I’ve had so many terrific memories, so many friends and colleagues, was with some farewell talks that I would turn up — I would attempt to sum up some of the key lessons I’ve gleaned, through much trial and error, through successes and setbacks, perhaps to reveal, as well, some incidents from the past that I’ve never had the opportunity to disclose but which could provide insight to a younger generation, who are still determined to practice good journalism and still devoted to making a better world possible.

As some of you know, mine has not been your typical journalism career. I’ve been grappling now for more than 50 years — initially as an activist, then for decades as a journalist

— source | Dec 06, 2022

Nullius in verba


Burning Books and Destroying Education on the Path to Fascist Dictatorship

Widening the lens on the escalating assault on education and those who teach it offers chilling thoughts on the future of U.S. democracy.

From book bans to classroom demonizing trans youth and LGBTQ lives, to eradicating the real history of the U.S. and its ongoing legacy on racial and gender oppression, to the intimidation of educators and purging those who don’t toe the line, global parallels with where this repression leads should set off alarms.

Chile provides a case study. After the 1973 coup, led by Augusto Pinochet with U.S. support against democratically elected Socialist President Salvador Allende, “the military seized control of campuses and swept out those they felt sympathized with Allende rule,” as the Christian Science Monitor put it.

Active-duty generals were appointed to run the universities and primary and secondary schools were placed under the rule of mayors appointed by Pinochet to promote full government control of classroom instruction.

Targeting educators was a priority with strict penalties imposed on what could be taught, leading to the firing of thousands of university professors and teachers, while others

— source | Chuck Idelson | Feb 28, 2023

Nullius in verba

Russell Banks, John Brown and the American Soul

The deep malaise that defines American society — the rage, despair and widespread feelings of betrayal and loss — is rarely captured and almost never explained in the pages of newspapers or on screens. To grasp what has happened to the United States, the savage economic and emotional cost of deindustrialization; the destruction of our democratic institutions; the Neolithic violence that sees us beset with almost daily mass shootings in malls, offices, schools and movie theaters; the rise of the militarized state; and the consolidation of national wealth by a tiny cabal of corrupt bankers and corporations, we must turn to our artists, poets and writers. Foremost among writers who explored our peculiar American

— source | Chris Hedges | Jan 15, 2023

Nullius in verba

GOP Is Stoking Political Violence

A California man is facing charges of attempted homicide, burglary, assault with a deadly weapon, and elder abuse after police say he broke into House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco home early Friday morning. Police say the man assaulted Pelosi’s husband, Paul Pelosi, with a hammer, fracturing his skull. The assailant, who has been identified as 42-year-old David DePape, reportedly yelled “Where is Nancy? Where is Nancy?” The House Speaker was in Washington at the time. According to some press accounts, the assailant had zip ties and duct tape with him at the time of his arrest.

Police say they’re still determining a motive for the attack on Paul Pelosi, but numerous outlets report the assailant had posted conspiracy theories online about QAnon, about the 2020 elections. So many of what he posted was antisemitic and filled with hate. The man’s former partner described him as mentally ill.

In a letter to other lawmakers, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she and her family are “heartbroken and traumatized.” Paul Pelosi was hospitalized after the attack, required surgery on his skull.

— source | Oct 31, 2022

Nullius in verba

Powell Memo: Start of the Counterrevolution

It was good seeing CounterPunch publish an article on what is known as the “Powell Memo” by Brad Wolf. He rightfully notes, “Powell expressed his grave concern that American business and free enterprise were under full-scale attack from “leftists” and might altogether collapse unless drastic steps were taken.” However, far more was at stake.

Lewis Powell was a Virginia attorney, tobacco-industry lobbyist and future Supreme Court Judge. He can be credited with helping launch the conservative social wars of the last half-century. In 1971 he delivered a secret study for the Chamber of Commerce entitled, “Attack on the American Free Enterprise System.” His advice to the business community was simple:

Business must learn the lesson . . . that political power is necessary; that such power must be assiduously cultivated; and that when necessary, it must be used aggressively and with determination—without embarrassment and without the reluctance which has been so characteristic of American business.

He took special care to note:

There should be no hesitation to attack the [Ralph] Naders, the [Herbert] Marcuses and others who openly seek destruction of the system. There should not be the slightest

— source | David Rosen | Jan 20, 2023

Nullius in verba

Socialism Is Back in the Wisconsin Legislature

Daniel Hoan, one of three Socialist mayors who have led the city of Milwaukee. He served as mayor from 1916 to 1940. (Robert Sennecke / ullstein bild via Getty Images)

When a pair of newly elected Democratic legislators from Milwaukee—the city that elected three Socialist Party mayors in the 20th century—took seats in the Wisconsin State Assembly last week, they promptly announced that they would be forming a socialist caucus.

“We wanted to make sure that we were uplifting bolder ideas and solutions,” said Darrin Madison, a democratic socialist who won a competitive Democratic primary in August before his victory in November. “That’s something that democratic socialists have always done in Wisconsin.”

Madison’s fellow Assembly Democrat Ryan Clancy, who has been a high-profile member of the Milwaukee county board for several years, said, “It’s important that we do this. We are both Democrats and we are both democratic socialists. We’ll often vote with our Democratic

— source | John Nichols | Jan 11, 2023

Nullius in verba

The Specter of “Woke Communism”

Ron DeSantis, governor of Florida and perhaps the next president of the United States, is waging war against something he and many others on the right identify as “woke communism.” DeSantis even persuaded the Florida legislature to pass a Victims of Communism law, mandating that every November 7th (the anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia), all public schools in the state must devote 45 minutes of instruction to the evils of the red menace.

You might reasonably ask: What menace? After all, the Soviet Union fell apart more than 30 years ago and, long before that, communist parties around the world had dwindled in numbers and lost their revolutionary zeal. The American Communist Party was buried alive nearly three-quarters of a century ago during the McCarthy hysteria of the 1950s.

How then can there be a muscular rebirth of anti-communism when there’s no communism to face off against? The Claremont Institute, a right-wing think tank, explains the paradox this way: the powers that be of the present moment, including “education, corporate media, entertainment, big business, especially big tech, are to varying degrees aligned with the Democratic Party which is now controlled by Woke Communism.”

All clear now? A “cold civil war” is afoot, so we’re assured by DeSantis and crew, and if we don’t act quickly, “woke communism will replace American justice… the choice is

— source | Steve Fraser | Feb 16, 2023

Nullius in verba

Of Death’s-Head Kvellers and Rosa Luxemburg

Anatol Lieven is a respected commentator on international affairs. He is even considered by left wing authorities reliable and reasonable in his opinions. His pronouncements on the Ukraine conflict, however, cast a dark shadow on this reputation. In a recent interview, he states—or kvells:

Russia has only managed to capture half of Luhansk and most … of Zaporizhzhia and Kherson. That’s all that Russia has added to what it’s held since 2014—Crimea and the eastern Donbass. So it does have to be said that Ukraine has—with Western help—already achieved a historic victory. Remember also that this isn’t just a victory compared to Russian hopes—and Western fears—back in February. This is a colossal transformation in terms of the past 400 years of Russian domination of Ukraine—I don’t think the West sufficiently recognizes how significant this change is and the true extent of Ukraine’s victory and Russia’s defeat. (“Stopping the Killing,” January 19, 2023)[1]

In other words, (1) a discrete entity named “Ukraine” has been repressed for four centuries by another discrete entity named “Russia”; (2) Ukraine has finally liberated itself from this timeless Russian oppression; but (3) “the West” hasn’t “sufficiently recognize[d]” this “historic victory,” “colossal transformation,” and “the true extent of Ukraine’s

— source | Norman Finkelstein | Jan 29, 2023

Nullius in verba

Is Europe Deindustrialising?

European industry is reeling under the twin threat of high energy prices and President Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) which, in essence, bribes Europe’s green industries to migrate to the United States. Are Europe’s industrial heartlands about to become rustbelts? Will Germany experience the trauma that Britain suffered as its factories closed, compelling its high-skilled manufacturing-based labor force to accept low-skill, low-productivity, low-wage jobs?
The threat is reverberating in Europe’s corridors of power. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz moved quickly to propose a new European Union fund that will offer state aid for EU companies tempted by the US subsidies to emigrate. But in view of how slowly Europe moves, especially when common debt needs to be issued to finance anything, it is questionable whether the EU subsidies will counter the US subsidies in a timely and proportionate manner.
Germany’s car industry is a good example of what is at stake. Carmakers were dealt a double blow by the return of inflation: rising fuel prices deterred customers and increased

— source | Yanis Varoufakis | 23/01/2023

Nullius in verba