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Moyers on Democracy

Doubleday New York Sydney London Auckland Toronto MOYERS ON DEMOCRACY BILL MOYERS P U B L I S H E D B Y DOUBLED

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Doubleday New

York Sydney

London Auckland

Toronto

MOYERS ON

DEMOCRACY

BILL MOYERS

P U B L I S H E D B Y DOUBLEDAY

Copyright © 2 0 0 8 by Bill Moyers All Rights Reserved Published in the United States by Doubleday, an imprint of The Doubleday Broadway Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., New York. www.doubleday.com DOUBLEDAY and the portrayal of an anchor with a dolphin are registered trademarks of Random House, Inc. "The Low Road," from The Moon Is Always Female by Marge Piercy, copyright © 1980 by Marge Piercy. Used by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Moyers, Bill D. Moyers on democracy / Bill Moyers. p. cm. 1. United States—Politics and government—1945-1989. 2. United States—Politics and government—1989- 3. Moyers, Bill D.—Political and social views. 4. Mass media—United States. 5. Press—United States. 6. United States—Religion. I. Title. JK1726.M69 2008 320.973—dc22 2007044910 ISBN 978-0-385-52380-6 P R I N T E D I N T H E U N I T E D STATES O F A M E R I C A

1 3 5 7 9

10 8 6 4 2

First Edition

For Lyn

and

Norman

Lear

. . . a n d P a t r i o t s of t h e G u l l e y ,

w h o keep fighting the good fight .

.

Contents

INTRODUCTION

|

1

P a r t I. THE 1.

FOR

America 2.

AT

AMERICA'S

|

THE

SAKE

phrey

THE

SERVICE

12, 2006: A New Story for

DECEMBER

LARGE

BROAD

SEPTEMBER

|

21,

1986: Peace Corps Twenty-fifth Anniver-

2 3 MARGIN

NOVEMBER

memoration of the Death of John F. Kennedy 4.

OF

11

sary Memorial Service 3.

IDEAL

HAPPY

Institute

WARRIOR

of Public Affairs

in

JUNE

|

22,

1988: Peace Corps Com-

2 9 23,

1998:

Commemoration

Speech to the Democratic National Convention in 1948

The Hubert H.

of Hubert H. |

3 4

Hum-

Humphrey's

x

5.

REMEMBERING

CONTENTS

BILL

COFFIN

APRIL

William Sloane Coffin, June 1, 1924-April 12, 2006

6.

THE

MEANING

OF

FREEDOM

|

20,

2006:

5 3

1 5 , 2006: Excerpt

NOVEMBER

from the Sol Feinstone Lecture at the United States Military Academy

7.

THE

POWER

OF

DEMOCRACY

Eulogy for

FEBRUARY

|

5 9

7, 2007: Woodrow

Wilson National Fellowship Foundation Presented Judith and Bill Moyers with the First Frank E. Taplin jr. Public Intellectual Award

8 .

HELP

9.

|

9 4

FAREWELL

TO

LADY

BIRD

P a r t II. THE USES A

REFUSAL

TO

11.

THE

BIG

tion

129

12.

WHEN

STORY

THE

The Committee of 100

MARCH

PAST

|

for ence

14.

A

VISION

the

National

OF

113

OF HISTORY

|

M A Y 14, 1987: Honorary Doc-

123

7, 1997: Texas State Historical Associa-

MEETS

THE

PRESENT

M A Y 5, 2000:

143

Part 13.

|

R E M E M B E R

torate from the Jewish Theological Seminary

14, 2007: Eulogy for Lady

JULY

Bird Johnson, December 22, 1912-July 11, 2007

10.

8 1

3, 2007: American Association of Collegiate Registrars and

MARCH

Admissions Officers

|

THE

Legislative

III.

POLITICS

FUTURE

Education

MARCH

Foundation's

8, 1 9 9 1 : Keynote Address Democratic

Issues

Confer-

157

SO

GREAT

A

SOUL

JANUARY

28,

Barbara Jordan, February 21, 1936-January 17, 1996

1996: Memorial Service for 169

CONTENTS

1 5 .

M O N E Y

Center |

1 6 .

T A L K S

|

xi

24,

NOVEMBER

1997:

S A V I N G

D E M O C R A C Y

A F T E R

9 / 1 1

2006: Remarks on a Lecture

FEBRUARY

A M E R I C A

1 0 1

|

OCTOBER

27,

2006: Council of the Great City |

P a r t IV. THE T I M E

T O

T E L L

sociation Awards Dinner

2 0 .

|

NOVEMBER

2 3 5

MEDIA

2, 1 9 9 1 : International Documentary As-

2 5 3

R E M E M B E R I N G

F R E D

W .

F R I E N D L Y

for Fred W. Friendly, October 30, 1916-March 13, 1998

2 1 .

T H E

F I G H T

F O R

P U B L I C

2005: National Conference for Media Reform

2 2 .

P E N G U I N S

1 9 3

2 1 9

Schools Fiftieth Anniversary Fall Conference

1 9 .

|

1 6 , 2001: Keynote Address for the Environ-

OCTOBER

mental Grantmakers Association

1 8 .

Community

1 7 7

Series in California on the Issue of Money and Politics

1 7 .

Sacramento

A N D

T H E

MARCH

|

1998: Eulogy

2 6 0

B R O A D C A S T I N G

|

MAY

2 6 5

P O L I T I C S

O F

D E N I A L

OCTOBER

1, 2005: Annual Conference of the Society of Environmental Journalists

2 3 .

D E M O C R A C Y ,

S E C R E C Y ,

A N D

I D E O L O G Y

9, 2005: The Twentieth Anniversary of the National Security Archive

2 4 .

L I F E

O N

T H E

Conference for Media Reform

2 5 .

J O U R N A L I S M

P L A N T A T I O N

|

15,

JANUARY

|

2 8 4

DECEMBER

|

2 99

1 2 , 2007: National

3 1 3

M A T T E R S

AUGUST

9, 2007: Annual Conference

of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication

|

3 3 1

xii

|

Part 26.

GOD

HELP

US

27.

THE

SPORT

V.

1,

JUNE

from Religion in American Life

OF

\

CONTENTS

RELIGION

2000: The Charles E. Wilson Chalice Award

3 5 3

GOD

SEPTEMBER

2005: Union Theological

7,

Seminary Presents Judith and Bill Moyers the Union Medal

Part

28. Service

VI. A

COMMENCEMENT

PASS THE BREAD |

INDEX

I

389

3 6 2

ADDRESS

M A Y 20, 2006: Hamilton College Baccalaureate

379

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

|

|

387

Introduction

D e m o c r a c y in A m e r i c a is a series of narrow escapes, and we may be running out o f luck. T h e reigning presumption about t h e A m e r i c a n experie n c e , as t h e historian L a w r e n c e G o o d w y n has written, is grounded in t h e idea of progress, t h e c o n v i c t i o n t h a t t h e present is "better" t h a n t h e past and t h e future will bring e v e n m o r e improvement. For all of its shortcomings, we keep telling ourselves, " T h e system works." N o w all bets are off. We h a v e fallen under t h e spell of money, faction, and fear, and t h e great A m e r i c a n e x p e r i e n c e in creating a different future together has b e e n subjugated to individual c u n n i n g in the pursuit of wealth and power—and to t h e claims of empire, with its ravenous demands and stuporous distractions. A sense of political i m p o t e n c e pervades t h e c o u n t r y — a mass resignation defined by G o o d w y n as "believing t h e dogma of 'democracy' on a superficial public level but n o t b e lieving it privately." We h o l d e l e c t i o n s , knowing they are unlikely to

2

|

INTRODUCTION

bring t h e corporate state under popular c o n t r o l . T h e r e is considerable vigor at local levels, but it has n o t b e e n translated i n t o n e w vistas of soc i a l possibility or t h e political will to address our most i n t r a c t a b l e c h a l lenges. H o p e n o longer seems t h e operative dynamic o f A m e r i c a , and w i t h o u t h o p e w e lose t h e t a l e n t a n d drive t o c o o p e r a t e i n t h e shaping o f our destiny. T h e s e are t h e m e s t h a t I h a v e addressed in speeches at different times t o different audiences. T h i s b o o k c o n t a i n s many o f those speeches, slightly revised for print. S u c h essays are sometimes referred to by librarians as " o c c a s i o n a l pieces." As such, t h e i r s h e l f life approximates t h a t of an i t e m in a daily newspaper—"today's h e a d l i n e , tomorrow's fish wrapper," as old-time reporters a n d editors c a l l e d it. At first I resisted t h e publisher's offer to share t h e m with a wide readership on just those grounds. B u t reading t h e m again c h a n g e d m y m i n d . W h a t e v e r t h e immediate c o n t e x t o f these talks may h a v e b e e n — a n address t o e n v i r o n m e n t a l journalists, t h e grateful a c c e p t a n c e of an award from an organization of C h i n e s e A m e r i c a n s , an anniversary c e l e b r a t i o n of t h e P e a c e Corps, a k e y n o t e address to educators, a lecture at W e s t P o i n t , a speech to c i t i zens working for more diversity in m e d i a — t h e y all revolve around a nucleus of c o n c e r n s t h a t h a v e preoccupied me in these last few troubled years. If I were to c h o o s e a t h e m e song for these c o n c e r n s , it would be A r l o Guthrie's "Patriot's D r e a m . " T h e earth we share as our c o m m o n gift, to be passed on in good c o n dition to our children's children, is being despoiled. Private w e a l t h is growing as public needs increase apace. O u r C o n s t i t u t i o n is perilously c l o s e t o b e i n g c o n s i g n e d t o t h e valley o f t h e shadow o f death, betrayed by a powerful c a b a l of secrecy-obsessed authoritarians. Terms like "liberty" and "individual freedom" i n v o k e d by generations of A m e r i c a n s w h o battled to widen t h e 1 7 8 7 promise to "promote t h e general welfare" h a v e b e e n perverted to c r e a t e a g o v e r n m e n t primarily dedicated to t h e welfare of t h e state and t h e political class t h a t runs it. Yes, Virginia, t h e r e is a class war and ordinary people are losing it. It isn't necessary to be a J e r e m i a h crying aloud to a sinful Jerusalem t h a t t h e Lord is about to afflict t h e m for their sins of idolatry, or Cassandra, making a n u i s a n c e of

INTRODUCTION

|

3

herself as she wanders around K i n g Priam's palace grounds wailing " T h e G r e e k s are c o m i n g . " Or S o c r a t e s , t h e gadfly, stinging t h e rump of power with jabs of truth. Or e v e n Paul R e v e r e , if horses were still in fashion. You n e e d only be a reporter with your eyes o p e n to see what's happening to our democracy. I h a v e b e e n lucky enough to spend my adult life as a journalist, acquiring a priceless e d u c a t i o n in t h e ways of t h e world, actually getting paid to p r a c t i c e o n e of my craft's essential imperatives: c o n n e c t t h e dots. T h e c o n c l u s i o n t h a t we are in trouble is unavoidable. I report t h e assault on nature e v i d e n c e d in c o a l m i n i n g t h a t tears t h e tops off m o u n tains and dumps t h e m i n t o rivers, sacrificing t h e h e a l t h a n d lives o f those in t h e river valleys to short-term profit, and I see a l i n k b e t w e e n t h a t process and t h e s t o c k - m a r k e t frenzy w h i c h scorns long-term investm e n t s — g e n u i n e savings—in favor of q u i c k turnovers and speculative bubbles whose i n e v i t a b l e bursting leaves insiders with stuffed p o c k e t s and millions of small stockholders, pensioners, and employees out of work, out of luck, and out of h o p e . A n d t h e n I see a c o n n e c t i o n b e t w e e n those disasters and t h e repeal of sixty-year-old b a n k i n g and securities regulations designed during t h e G r e a t Depression t o prevent e x a c t l y t h a t kind o f h u m a n and e c o n o m i c damage. W h o pushed for t h e removal o f t h a t firewall? A n administrat i o n and Congress w h o are t h e political marionettes of t h e speculators, and w h o are well rewarded for their efforts with indispensable campaign c o n t r i b u t i o n s . E v e n h o n o r a b l e o p p o n e n t s o f t h e p r a c t i c e get trapped i n t h e web o f a n e l e c t o r a l system that effectively limits c o m p e t i t i o n t o those w h o c a n afford to spend millions in their run for office. L i k e it or n o t , candidates k n o w t h a t t h e largesse o n w h i c h t h e i r political futures depend will last o n l y as long as their votes are satisfactory to t h e sleek "bundlers" w h o turn t h e spigots of cash on and off. T h e property qualifications for federal office t h a t t h e framers of t h e C o n s t i t u t i o n expressly c h o s e to e x c l u d e for demonstrating an unseemly " v e n e r a t i o n for wealth" are now de facto in force and higher t h a n t h e Founding Fathers could h a v e imagined. " M o n e y rules . . . O u r laws are t h e output of a system w h i c h c l o t h e s rascals in robes and h o n e s t y in

4

|

INTRODUCTION

rags. T h e parties lie to us and t h e political speakers mislead us." T h o s e words were s p o k e n by Populist orator Mary Elizabeth Lease during t h e prairie revolt t h a t swept t h e G r e a t Plains slightly more t h a n 1 2 0 years after t h e C o n s t i t u t i o n was signed. T h e y are true today, and t h a t t o o , spells trouble. T h e n I draw a line to t h e statistics that show real wages lagging beh i n d prices, t h e c o m p e n s a t i o n of corporate barons soaring to heights unequaled anywhere a m o n g industrialized d e m o c r a c i e s ,

t h e relentless

cheeseparing of federal funds devoted to public schools, to retraining for workers whose j o b s h a v e b e e n exported, and to programs of food assist a n c e and h e a l t h care for poor c h i l d r e n , all of w h i c h s n a t c h away t h e ladder by w h i c h A m e r i c a n s with s c a n t m e a n s but willing hands and hearts could work and save their way upward to middle-class independ e n c e . A n d I c o n n e c t those numbers to our triumphant reactionaries' campaigns against labor unions and higher m i n i m u m wages, and to their success in reframing t h e t a x codes so as to strip t h e m of t h e i r progressive character, laying t h e burdens of A t l a s on a shrinking middle class awash in credit card debt as wage earners struggle to k e e p up with rising costs for h e a l t h care, for college tuitions, for affordable h o u s i n g — w h i l e huge i n h e r i t a n c e s go u n t o u c h e d , t a x shelters abroad are legalized, rates on c a p i t a l gains are slashed, a n d t h e r i c h get r i c h e r and w i t h e a c h increase in t h e i r wealth are able to buy themselves more influence o v e r those w h o m a k e and those w h o carry out t h e laws. Edward R . Murrow told his g e n e r a t i o n o f journalists: " N o o n e c a n e l i m i n a t e prejudices—just recognize t h e m . " H e r e is my bias: e x t r e m e s of w e a l t h and poverty c a n n o t be r e c o n c i l e d w i t h a genuinely d e m o c r a t i c politics. W h e n t h e state b e c o m e s t h e guardian o f power and privilege t o t h e n e g l e c t of justice for t h e people as a whole, it m o c k s t h e very c o n c e p t of g o v e r n m e n t as proclaimed in t h e preamble to our C o n s t i t u t i o n ; m o c k s L i n c o l n ' s sacred b e l i e f in " g o v e r n m e n t of the people, by t h e people, a n d for t h e people"; m o c k s t h e d e m o c r a t i c n o t i o n o f g o v e r n m e n t a s "a voluntary u n i o n for t h e c o m m o n good" e m b o d i e d in t h e great wave of reform t h a t produced t h e Progressive Era and t h e two R o o s e v e l t s . In contrast, t h e philosophy popularized in t h e last quarter century t h a t

INTRODUCTION

|

5

"freedom" simply m e a n s freedom to c h o o s e a m o n g c o m p e t i n g brands of c o n s u m e r goods, t h a t taxes are a n unfair theft from t h e p o c k e t s o f t h e successful to reward t h e i n c o m p e t e n t , and t h a t t h e market will m e e t all h u m a n needs while g o v e r n m e n t itself b e c o m e s t h e enabler o f privilege— t h e philosophy of an earlier social Darwinism and laissez-faire capitalism dressed in n e w togs—is as subversive as B e n e d i c t Arnold's betrayal of t h e R e v o l u t i o n he had o n c e served. A g a i n , Mary Lease: " T h e great evils w h i c h are cursing A m e r i c a n society and undermining t h e foundations of t h e republic flow n o t from t h e legitimate operation of t h e great h u m a n g o v e r n m e n t w h i c h our fathers gave us, but they c o m e from tramping its plain provisions underfoot." O u r d e m o c r a c y has prospered most w h e n it was firmly a n c h o r e d in t h e idea t h a t "We t h e P e o p l e " — n o t just a favored few—would identify and remedy c o m m o n distempers and dilemmas and win t h e gamble our forebears undertook w h e n they espoused t h e radical idea t h a t people could govern themselves wisely. W h a t e v e r and whoever tries to supplant t h a t with n o t i o n s of a wholly privatized society of c o m p e t i t i v e c o n sumers undermines a country that, as G o r d o n S. W o o d puts it in his landmark b o o k The Radicalism of the American Revolution,

discovered its

greatness "by creating a prosperous free society belonging to obscure people with their workaday c o n c e r n s and t h e i r pecuniary pursuits of happiness"—a democracy t h a t c h a n g e d t h e lives of "hitherto n e g l e c t e d and despised masses of c o m m o n laboring people." I wish I could say that journalists in general are showing t h e same interest in uncovering t h e dangerous linkages thwarting this democracy. It is n o t for lack of h o n e s t and courageous individuals who would risk t h e i r careers to speak truth to power—a modest risk compared to those of some journalists in authoritarian countries w h o h a v e b e e n jailed or murdered for the identical " c r i m e . " B u t our journalists are n o t in c o n t r o l of the instruments they play. As conglomerates swallow up newspapers, magazines, publishing houses, and networks, and profit rather t h a n product b e c o m e s t h e focus of corporate effort, news organizations—particularly in t e l e v i s i o n — a r e folded i n t o e n t e r t a i n m e n t divisions. T h e "news h o l e " in t h e print media shrinks to m a k e r o o m for advertisements, and

6

|

INTRODUCTION

stories needed by informed citizens working t o g e t h e r are pulled in favor of t h e latest celebrity scandals because t h e media moguls h a v e decided t h a t u n c o v e r i n g t h e inner workings of public and private power is boring and will drive viewers and readers away to greener pastures of pabulum. G o o d reporters and editors c o n f r o n t walls of resistance in trying to place serious and informative reports o v e r w h i c h they h a v e long labored. M e d i a owners w h o should be sounding t h e trumpets of alarm on t h e batt l e m e n t s of d e m o c r a c y instead blow popular ditties through tin horns, undercutting t h e basis for their e x i s t e n c e and their First A m e n d m e n t rights. T h e s e are some o f t h e ideas t h a t run through this c o l l e c t i o n . T h e y bind t h e disparate speeches b e t w e e n covers. I am happy to report t h a t t h e d e m o c r a t i c underground is alive and well, putting t h e lie to t h e hucksters w h o insist t h a t they are only giving t h e public what it wants. W h e n reprinted elsewhere o r posted o n t h e Internet, these speeches h a v e drawn deluges of supportive mail, confirming what I h a v e found in my reporting: a widespread r e c o g n i t i o n t h a t u n a c c o u n t a b l e authority and c u t t h r o a t capitalism will n o t produce a fair and just society. T h e sense t h a t so m a n y people b e l i e v e it is t i m e "to rekindle t h e patriot's d r e a m " — t o m a k e t h e c r o o k e d ways straight—is what I take to justify their transplantation i n t o print. I regret t h a t in print they will lack s o m e t h i n g irreplaceable, t h e living warmth of an auditorium where a speaker is face-to-face with o t h e r citizens. F o r sure, t h e days w h e n a W i l l i a m J e n n i n g s B r y a n could stampede a c o n v e n t i o n with a superlative v o i c e c l a m o r i n g against crucifying m a n k i n d on a cross of gold are g o n e . T h e power of radio and television to r e a c h millions simultaneously is awesome and important, as b o t h dictators and democrats with appealing voices h a v e discovered. Print, as a " c o o l " medium, has a hard t i m e keeping up in spite of its virtue of allowing t i m e to digest and c o n t e m p l a t e . I h a v e indeed b e e n fortunate to h a v e made my living in television for almost forty years now, to h a v e enjoyed a long and c o n t i n u i n g course in adult e d u c a t i o n during w h i c h my reporting o p e n e d doors, enlarged my reading, exposed me to interesting minds and festering problems, and allowed me to draw c o n c l u s i o n s from

INTRODUCTION

|

7

t h e e v i d e n c e I h a d c o l l e c t e d — t h e highest privilege of t h e First A m e n d m e n t guarantee of a free press. S t i l l , I am grateful t h a t from t i m e to t i m e I could steal away from t h e studio and editing r o o m to stand before live audiences and test my c o n clusions and their p a t i e n c e . T h e r e ' s n o t h i n g quite like t h e e x h i l a r a t i o n of seeing t h e distance b e t w e e n you and t h e crowd fast closing, until you are as o n e in awareness and purpose, conscious t h a t no o n e — s p e a k e r or listener—will ever see t h e world t h e same way again because of this e x perience. I am grateful to t h e audiences t h a t heard me out. Every o n e of t h e m blessed my effort and sent me away believing t h a t t h e gravediggers of d e m o c r a c y will n o t h a v e t h e last word.

Part

I

THE IDEAL OF S E R V I C E

1. I F O R A M E R I C A ' S S A K E A

New

Story

D E C E M B E R

for

America

12,

2006

My father dropped out of the fourth grade cause

his family

needed him

and never returned

to pick cotton

to

help make

Great Depression knocked him down and almost out. was making $2

a day

working on the highway

When

to school be-

ends meet. I

was

to Oklahoma City.

The

born he He never

took home more than $100 a week in his working life, and he made that only when he joined the union in the last job he held. He voted for Franklin Roosevelt in four straight elections and would have gone kingdom come if he'd had the chance. "Because he was my friend." cian ever paid him much note.

on voting for him until

I once asked him why,

and he said,

My father of course never met FDR; Many years

no politi-

later when I wound up working

in the White House my parents came for a visit and my father asked to see the Roosevelt Room.

I don't quite know how to explain it,

except that my fa-

ther knew who was on his side. When FDR died my father wept; he had lost his friend.

This

trician in the

man

with a fourth-grade

education

White House meant when he

understood

talked about

what

the pa-

"economic royalism"

|

12

and how private power no less in

the absence

tors

wealth"

had

over

other

control

people's labor,

than public power can bring America to ruin

of democratic controls.

of great

complete

BILL MOYERS

When the president said

concentrated people's

into

their

property,

own

other

"the malefac-

hands

people's

and other people's lives," my father said amen;

president knew what life was like for people like him.

"an

almost

money,

other

he believed the

When the president said

life was no longer free, liberty no longer real, men could no longer follow the pursuit of happiness ded.

against

"economic

tyranny

such as

this,"

my father nod-

He got it when Roosevelt said that a government by money was as much

to be feared as a government by mob, and that the political equality we once had

was

wealth,

meaningless

FDR said that

nized power Today long

in

to

the face

My father

my father would be what

the

sociologist

million

inequality.

of living.

the

Katherine who

Newman occupy

and they are vital to the functioning of the country, attendants,

to the orga-

He

him. would be-

"missing class"*— place

between

the

the minimum but below a se-

year,

hospital

hard for

organized

meant

the

obscure

standard

providers,

work

calls

an

earning wages above They

president

written out of America's story.

Americans

rungs of our social ladder,

knew

cure

day-care

Against

"the American citizen could appeal only

of government."

the fifty-seven

of economic

their

teachers'

$20,000 as

aides,

to

$40,000

a

transit workers,

clerical

assistants.

They live one divorce, one pink slip, one illness away from a free fall. Largely forgotten by safety nets,

the press,

politicians,

they have no nest egg,

and policy

Nation,

the

no way

Over the years I have chronicled

lives of some of these people in my documentaries.

ter the election of 2006, The

who fashion government

no income but the next paycheck,

of paying for their children to go to college. the

makers

Now,

a few days af-

I was asked to speak at a conference sponsored by

Brennan Center for Justice,

the

New

Democracy

Project,

* Katherine S. Newman and Victor Tan Chen, The Missing Class: Portraits of the Near Poor in America (Beacon Press, 2007). The authors lay out several promising initiatives that would "sustain the upward movement" of the near poor—from policies to support low-income housing ownership and saving and asset-building strategies, to the government promotion of business ventures in underserved neighborhoods so that predatory establishments, especially banks, car dealers, and grocers, could no longer overcharge their customers. The authors propose the creation of upward employment opportunities within businesses and ways to increase the benefits that go with those better jobs. Perhaps most important of all, as they themselves acknowledge, they outline ways to improve educational opportunities for "missing class" families, from publicly supported day care and after-school programs to legislation—like the GI Bill of an earlier generation—that would make college affordable for everyone, as it was for my brother and me despite the near penury of our parents.

MOYERS

and Demos

to discuss

ON

DEMOCRACY

the prospects

of democracy.

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13

Those prospects

are

dim,

I realized, unless we write a story of America that includes those people who are living on the edge, with no friend in the White House.

*

*

*

You could n o t h a v e c h o s e n a b e t t e r t i m e to gather. Voters h a v e provided a respite from a right-wing radicalism predicated on t h e philosophy t h a t e x t r e m i s m in t h e pursuit of virtue is no v i c e . It seems only yesterday t h a t t h e T r o j a n horse of conservatism was hauled i n t o W a s h i n g t o n to disgorge N e w t G i n g r i c h , T o m DeLay, R a l p h R e e d , G r o v e r Norquist, and their band of ravenous predators masquerading as a political party of small g o v e r n m e n t , fiscal restraint, and moral piety and promising "to restore a c c o u n t a b i l i t y to Congress . . . ( a n d ) m a k e us all proud again of t h e way free people govern themselves." W e l l , t h e long night of t h e cabal is over, and D e m o c r a t s are ebullient as they prepare to take charge of t h e multitrillion-dollar influence racket t h a t w e used t o call t h e U . S . Congress. L e t t h e m rejoice while they c a n , as long as they r e m e m b e r t h a t they h a v e arrived at this m o m e n t mainly because G e o r g e W. Bush started a war most people h a v e c o m e to believe should n e v e r h a v e b e e n fought in t h e first p l a c e . L e t t h e m r e m e m b e r t h a t although they are reveling in the ruins of a R e p u b l i c a n reign brought down by stupendous scandals, their o w n c l o s e t is stocked with skeletons from an era w h e n they were routed from office following A B S C A M bribes and savings and loan swindles t h a t plucked t h e pockets and purses of hardworking A m e r i c a n s . As they rejoice D e m ocrats would be wise to be mindful of Shakespeare's counsel: " M e r i t doth m u c h , but fortune more." For they were delivered from t h e wilderness n o t by their own goodness b u t by t h e hubris of t h e party in power—a recurring p h e n o m e n o n o f A m e r i c a n democracy. W h a t e v e r o n e might say about t h e 2 0 0 6 e l e c t i o n , t h e real story is o n e t h a t our political and media elites are loath to acknowledge or address. 1 am n o t speaking of t h e lengthy list of priorities t h a t progressives

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and liberals are eager to put on t h e table n o w t h a t D e m o c r a t s h o l d t h e cards in Congress. T h e o t h e r day a message popped up on my c o m p u t e r from a progressive advocate w h o is c o m m i t t e d to m o v e m e n t building from t h e ground up and has results to show for his labors. His request was simple: " W i t h changes in Congress and at our state capitol, we want your input on what top issues our lawmakers should t a c k l e . C l i c k here to submit your top priority." I c l i c k e d . Up c a m e a list of thirty-four issues—an impressive list that began with " A f r i c a n A m e r i c a n " and ran alphabetically through "energy" and "guns" to "higher education," "transportation," "women's issues," and "worker's rights." It wasn't a list to be dismissed by any means, for it c a m e from an unrequited thirst for a c t i o n after a long season of fierce opposition to every aspiration on t h e agenda. I understand t h e mind-set. Here's a fellow w h o values allies and appreciates what it takes to build c o a l i t i o n s ; w h o knows t h a t although our interests as citizens vary, e a c h o n e is an artery to t h e h e a r t t h a t pumps life through t h e body politic, and e a c h is important to t h e h e a l t h of democracy. T h i s is an activist w h o knows political success is t h e sum of many parts. B u t A m e r i c a needs s o m e t h i n g more right n o w t h a n a "must-do" list from liberals and progressives. A m e r i c a needs a different story. T h e very m o r n i n g I read t h e message from t h e progressive activist, The New York Times reported on C a r o l A n n R e y e s . S h e is sixty-three, lives in Los A n g e l e s , suffers from d e m e n t i a , and is homeless. S o m e h o w she made h e r way to a hospital with serious, untreated needs. No details were provided as to what h a p p e n e d to h e r t h e r e , e x c e p t t h a t t h e hospital c a l l e d a c a b and sent h e r b a c k to skid row. True, t h e y p h o n e d ahead to workers at a rescue shelter to let t h e m k n o w she was c o m i n g . B u t some hours later a surveillance c a m e r a picked h e r up "wandering around t h e streets in a hospital gown and slippers." D u m p e d in A m e r i c a . H e r e is t h e real political story, t h e o n e most politicians won't e v e n acknowledge: t h e reality of t h e anonymous, disquieting daily struggle of ordinary people, including n o t only t h e most marginalized and vulnerab l e A m e r i c a n s but also young workers, elders and parents, families and

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c o m m u n i t i e s , searching for dignity and fairness against long odds in an amoral m a r k e t world. Everywhere you turn you'll find people who b e l i e v e they h a v e b e e n written out of t h e story. Everywhere you turn there's a sense of insecurity grounded in a gnawing fear t h a t freedom in A m e r i c a has c o m e to m e a n t h e freedom o f t h e r i c h t o get r i c h e r e v e n a s millions o f A m e r i c a n s are thrown overboard. So let me say w h a t I t h i n k up front: t h e leaders a n d thinkers and activists w h o h o n e s t l y tell t h a t story a n d speak passionately of t h e moral and religious values it puts in play will be t h e first p o l i t i c a l g e n e r a t i o n s i n c e t h e N e w D e a l t o w i n power b a c k for t h e people. T h e r e ' s n o mistaking A m e r i c a i s ready for c h a n g e . O n e o f our leading analysts of public o p i n i o n , D a n i e l Y a n k e l o v i c h , reports t h a t a majority w a n t social c o h e s i o n a n d c o m m o n ground based o n pragmatism a n d c o m p r o m i s e , patriotism and diversity. B u t because of t h e great disparities i n w e a l t h t h e "shining city o n t h e h i l l " has b e c o m e a gated c o m m u n i t y whose privileged occupants, surrounded by moats of m o n e y and prot e c t e d by a p o l i t i c a l system seduced w i t h c a s h i n t o subservience, are rem o v e d from t h e c o m m o n life of t h e country. T h e wreckage o f this r e v o l t o f elites i s all around us. C o r p o r a t i o n s are shredding t h e social c o m p a c t , pensions are disappearing, medium inc o m e s are flattening, and h e a l t h - c a r e costs are soaring. In m a n y ways, t h e average household is generally worse off today t h a n it was thirty years ago, a n d t h e public s e c t o r t h a t improved life for millions of A m e r icans across three generations is in tatters. F o r a t i m e , stagnating wages were s o m e w h a t offset by m o r e work a n d more personal debt. B o t h political parties craftily refashioned those major r e n o v a t i o n s of t h e average h o u s e h o l d as t h e n e w standard, shielding employers from responsibility for a n y t h i n g W a l l S t r e e t would n o t reward. Now, however, t h e more a c u t e m a j o r risks workers h a v e b e e n forced to b e a r as employers reduce their h e a l t h and r e t i r e m e n t costs h a v e revealed t h a t gains made by people w h o live p a y c h e c k to p a y c h e c k are being reversed. Polls show a majority of A m e r i c a n workers n o w b e l i e v e their c h i l d r e n will be worse off

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t h a n they were. In o n e r e c e n t survey, only 14 p e r c e n t of workers said t h a t they h a v e o b t a i n e d t h e A m e r i c a n dream. It is hard to believe t h a t less t h a n four decades ago a key a r c h i t e c t of t h e antipoverty program, R o b e r t L a m p m a n , could argue t h a t t h e " r e c e n t history of W e s t e r n n a t i o n s reveals an increasingly widespread adoption of t h e idea t h a t substantial equality of social and e c o n o m i c c o n d i t i o n s a m o n g individuals is a good thing." E c o n o m i s t s call that postwar era the " G r e a t Compression." Poverty and inequality had d e c l i n e d dramatically for t h e first t i m e in our history. H e r e is h o w a Time magazine report summed up t h e n a t i o n a l outlook in 1 9 5 3 : " E v e n in t h e smallest towns and most isolated areas, t h e U. S. is wearing a very prosperous, middleclass suit of c l o t h e s , and an attitude of r e l a x a t i o n and confidence. People are n o t growing wealthy, but more of t h e m t h a n ever before are getting along . . ." African A m e r i c a n s were still written out of t h e story, but t h a t was changing, too, as h e r o i c resistance emerged across t h e S o u t h to awaken our n a t i o n a l c o n s c i e n c e . W i t h i n a decade, t h a n k s to t h e civil rights m o v e m e n t and President Lyndon J o h n s o n , t h e racial cast of many federal policies—including some N e w D e a l programs—was aggressively repudiated, and shared prosperity began to b r e a c h t h e c o l o r line. To this day I r e m e m b e r J o h n F. Kennedy's landmark speech at the Yale c o m m e n c e m e n t in 1 9 6 2 . E c h o i n g D a n i e l Bell's cold war classic The End of Ideology, J F K proclaimed t h e triumph of "practical m a n a g e m e n t of a m o d e r n e c o n o m y " over t h e "grand warfare of rival ideologies." T h e problem with this is t h a t t h e purported ideological cease-fire ended only a few years later. B u t t h e D e m o c r a t s n e v e r rearmed. W h i l e "practical m a n a g e m e n t of a m o d e r n e c o n o m y " had a kind of surrogate legitimacy as long as it worked, w h e n it no longer worked, t h e n a t i o n faced a paralyzing moral void in deciding how t h e burdens should be b o r n e . W e l l organized conservative forces, firing on all ideological pistons, rushed to fill this void with a story corporate A m e r i c a wanted us to hear. Inspired by bumper-sticker abstractions of M i l t o n Friedman's ideas, propelled by cascades o f c a s h from corporate chieftains like C o o r s and K o c h and " N e u t r o n " J a c k W e l c h , fortified by t h e pious prescriptions of fundamen-

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talist p o l i t i c a l preachers, t h e c o n s e r v a t i v e armies m a r c h e d o n W a s h i n g t o n . A n d t h e y succeeded brilliantly. W h e n R o n a l d R e a g a n addressed t h e R e p u b l i c a n N a t i o n a l C o n v e n t i o n in 1 9 8 0 , he told a simple political story with great impact. " T h e m a j o r issue of this c a m p a i g n is t h e direct political, personal and moral responsibility o f D e m o c r a t i c Party leadership—in t h e W h i t e House a n d in Congress—for this unprecedented c a l a m i t y w h i c h has befallen us." He declared: "I will n o t stand by and w a t c h this great country destroy itself." It was a speech of bold contrasts, of "good" private interest versus "bad" g o v e r n m e n t , of course. M o r e important, it personified these two forces in a larger narrative of freedom, r e a c h i n g b a c k across t h e G r e a t Depression, t h e C i v i l War, a n d t h e A m e r i c a n R e v o l u t i o n , all t h e way b a c k to t h e Mayflower C o m p a c t . It dazzled his followers and so demoralized D e m o c r a t s t h a t they could n o t muster a response to t h e social costs t h a t c a m e with t h e R e a g a n revolution. B u t there is a n o t h e r story of freedom to tell, a n d it, too, reaches b a c k across t h e G r e a t Depression, t h e C i v i l War, and t h e A m e r i c a n R e v o l u tion, all t h e way b a c k to t h e Mayflower C o m p a c t . It's a story with c l e a r and c e r t a i n foundations, like Reagan's, but also a tumultuous and sometimes v i o l e n t history of betrayal that he and o t h e r conservatives consistently and c o n v e n i e n t l y ignore. Reagan's story of freedom superficially alludes to t h e Founding F a thers, but its substance c o m e s from t h e G i l d e d A g e , devised by apologists for t h e robber barons. It is posed abstractly as t h e freedom of t h e individual from g o v e r n m e n t c o n t r o l — a Jeffersonian ideal at t h e r o o t of our B i l l of R i g h t s , to be sure. B u t w h a t it m e a n t in politics a century later, and still m e a n s today, is t h e freedom to a c c u m u l a t e wealth without social or d e m o c r a t i c responsibilities and t h e license to buy t h e political system right out from under everyone else, so t h a t d e m o c r a c y no longer has t h e ability to h o l d capitalism a c c o u n t a b l e to n o t i o n s of fairness and justice. A n d t h a t is n o t h o w freedom was understood w h e n our country was founded. At t h e h e a r t of our e x p e r i e n c e as a n a t i o n is t h e proposition t h a t e a c h citizen has a right to "life, liberty, and t h e pursuit of happi-

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ness." As flawed in its r e a c h as it was at t h e t i m e , that proposition carries an i n h e r e n t imperative:

Inasmuch as the members of a liberal society have a right to basic requirements of human development such as education and a minimum standard of security, they have obligations to each other, mutually and through their government, to ensure that conditions exist enabling every person to have the opportunity for success in life.

T h e quote c o m e s directly from Paul Starr, whose b o o k Freedom's Power: The True Force of Liberalism is a call for liberals to reclaim t h e idea of A m e r i c a ' s greatness as t h e i r own. Starr's b o o k is o n e of three t h a t in a just world would be on every desk in t h e House and S e n a t e w h e n Congress c o n v e n e s again. J o h n E. Schwarz, in Freedom Reclaimed: Rediscovering the American Vision, rescues t h e idea of freedom from market cultists whose "particular idea of freedom .. . has t a k e n us down a terribly mistaken road" toward a political order where " g o v e r n m e n t ends up servicing t h e powerful and taking from everyone else." T h e free-market view " c a n n o t provide us with a philosophy we find c o m p e l l i n g or meaningful," Schwarz writes. N o r does it assure t h e availability of an e c o n o m i c opportunity "that is truly adequate to e a c h individual and t h e status of full legal and political equality." Yet since t h e late n i n e t e e n t h century it has b e e n used to shield private power from d e m o c r a t i c accountability, in no small part because conservative rhetoric has succeeded in denigrating g o v e r n m e n t e v e n as reactionary ideologues plunder it. B u t g o v e r n m e n t , Schwarz reminds us, "is n o t simply t h e way we e x press ourselves collectively, but also often t h e only way we preserve our freedom from private power and its incursions." T h a t is o n e reason the n o t i o n t h a t every person has a right to meaningful opportunity "has assumed t h e position of a moral b o t t o m line in t h e nation's popular culture ever since t h e beginning." Freedom, he says, is "considerably more t h a n a private value." It is essentially a social idea, w h i c h explains why

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t h e worship of t h e free m a r k e t "fails as a c o m p e l l i n g idea in terms of t h e moral reasoning of freedom itself." Let's get b a c k to basics, is Schwarz's message. Let's recapture our story. N o r t o n Garfinkle picks up on b o t h Schwarz and S t a r r in The American Dream vs.

the Gospel of Wealth.

He describes h o w A m e r i c a b e c a m e

t h e first n a t i o n on e a r t h to offer an e c o n o m i c vision of opportunity for e v e n t h e humblest b e g i n n e r t o advance, and t h e n moved, i n f i t s and starts, to t h e i n v o c a t i o n of positive g o v e r n m e n t as t h e means to further t h a t vision through politics. No o n e understood this m o r e clearly, Garfinkle writes, t h a n A b r a h a m L i n c o l n , who called o n t h e federal g o v e r n m e n t t o save t h e U n i o n . He turned to large g o v e r n m e n t expenditures for internal improvem e n t s — c a n a l s , bridges, and railroads. He supported a strong n a t i o n a l b a n k to stabilize t h e currency. He provided t h e first major federal funding for education with t h e c r e a t i o n of land grant colleges. A n d he kept close to his h e a r t an abiding c o n c e r n for t h e fate of ordinary people, especially t h e ordinary worker but also t h e widow and orphan. O u r greatest president kept his eye on t h e sparrow. He believed t h a t g o v e r n m e n t should be n o t just " o f t h e people" and "by t h e people" but "for t h e people." Including, we c a n imagine, a C a r o l A n n R e y e s . T h e great leaders of our tradition—Jefferson, L i n c o l n , and t h e two R o o s e v e l t s — u n d e r s t o o d t h e power of our story. In my t i m e it was F D R who exposed t h e false freedom of t h e aristocratic narrative. He made t h e simple but obvious p o i n t t h a t where o n c e political royalists stalked t h e land, n o w economic royalists owned everything standing. Mindful of Plutarch's warning t h a t "an i m b a l a n c e b e t w e e n r i c h and poor is t h e oldest and most fatal a i l m e n t of all republics," F D R famously told A m e r i c a , i n 1 9 3 6 , t h a t "the average m a n o n c e m o r e confronts t h e p r o b l e m faced b y t h e M i n u t e M a n . " H e gathered together t h e r e m n a n t s o f t h e great reform m o v e m e n t s of t h e Progressive E r a — i n c l u d i n g those of cousin T e d d y — i n t o a singular political cause t h a t would be ratified again and again by people w h o categorically rejected t h e laissez-faire anarchy t h a t had produced destructive, unfettered, and ungovernable power. N o w c a m e c o l l e c t i v e bargaining and workplace rules, cash assistance for poor

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children, S o c i a l Security, t h e G I B i l l , h o m e mortgage subsidies, progressive t a x a t i o n — d e m o c r a t i c instruments that c h e c k e d e c o n o m i c tyranny and helped secure A m e r i c a ' s great middle class. A n d these were only t h e beginning. T h e M a r s h a l l Plan, t h e civil rights revolution, reaching t h e m o o n , a huge leap in life e x p e c t a n c y — e v e r y o n e of these great outward a c h i e v e m e n t s of t h e last century grew from shared goals and collaborat i o n in t h e public interest. So it is t h a t contrary to what we h a v e heard rhetorically for a generation now, t h e individualist greed-driven free-market ideology is only o n e current of our history and is at odds w i t h what most A m e r i c a n s really care about. M o r e and m o r e people agree t h a t growing inequality is bad for t h e country, t h a t corporations h a v e t o o m u c h power, t h a t m o n e y in politics is corrupting democracy, and that working families and poor c o m m u n i t i e s n e e d and deserve h e l p w h e n t h e market system fails to generate shared prosperity. Indeed, t h e A m e r i c a n public is broadly c o m m i t t e d to a set of values t h a t almost perfectly contradicts t h e right-wing agenda now installed in W a s h i n g t o n . T h e question, t h e n , is n o t about c h a n g i n g people; it's about reaching people. I ' m n o t speaking simply of b e t t e r information, a sharper and clearer factual presentation to disperse t h e t h i c k fogs generated by today's spin m a c h i n e s . Of course we always n e e d stronger empirical argum e n t s to b a c k up our case. It would certainly help if at least as many people w h o b e l i e v e t h a t G o d sent G e o r g e W . Bush t o t h e W h i t e House also k n o w t h a t t h e top 1 p e r c e n t of households now has more wealth t h a n t h e b o t t o m 9 0 p e r c e n t c o m b i n e d . Yes, people n e e d far-different information t h a n they get from media c o n g l o m e r a t e s . A n d we need, as we keep hearing, "new ideas." B u t we are at an extraordinary m o m e n t . T h e conservative m o v e m e n t stands intellectually and morally bankrupt while D e m o c r a t s talk about a "new d i r e c t i o n " without c o n v i n c i n g us they k n o w t h e difference b e t w e e n a w e a t h e r v a n e and a compass. T h e right story will set our course for a g e n e r a t i o n to c o m e . T h e wrong story c a n d o o m us. In Collapse: How Societies Choose Success or Failure, Jared D i a m o n d tells of t h e V i k i n g c o l o n y t h a t disappeared in t h e fifteenth century. T h e settlers h a d scratched a living on t h e sparse

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coast of G r e e n l a n d for years, until they e n c o u n t e r e d a series of harsh winters. T h e i r livestock, t h e staple of t h e i r diet, began to die off. A l though t h e nearby waters t e e m e d with h a d d o c k and cod, t h e colony's mythology prohibited t h e eating of fish. W h e n t h e i r supply of hay ran out during a last terrible winter, t h e c o l o n y was finished. T h e y had b e e n d o o m e d by t h e i r story. H e r e in t h e first decade of t h e twenty-first century t h e story t h a t b e c o m e s A m e r i c a ' s d o m i n a n t narrative will shape our c o l l e c t i v e imaginat i o n and our politics for a long t i m e to c o m e . In t h e searching of our souls demanded by this c h a l l e n g e , those of us in this r o o m and kindred spirits across t h e n a t i o n must confront t h e most fundamental liberal failure of t h e current era: t h e failure to e m b r a c e a moral vision of A m e r i c a based on t h e transcendent faith that h u m a n beings are more t h a n t h e sum of their material appetites, our country is m o r e t h a n an e c o n o m i c m a c h i n e , and freedom is n o t license but responsibility—the gift we h a v e received and t h e legacy we must b e q u e a t h . A l t h o u g h our sojourn in life is brief, we are on a great journey. For those who c a m e before us and for those who follow, our moral, political, and religious duty to m a k e sure t h a t this n a t i o n , w h i c h was c o n c e i v e d in liberty and dedicated to t h e proposition t h a t all are equal under t h e law, is in good hands on our watch. T h e conservative story would return A m e r i c a to t h e days of radical laissez-faire, w h e n there was no social c o n t r a c t and all but t h e privileged and powerful were left to forage on their own. O u r story j o i n s the m e m ory of struggles t h a t h a v e b e e n waged w i t h t h e possibility of victories yet to be won. L i k e t h e mustard seed to w h i c h Jesus compared t h e K i n g d o m of G o d , this story has b e e n a long time unfolding. It reminds us t h a t t h e freedoms and rights we treasure were n o t sent from h e a v e n and did n o t grow o n trees. T h e y were, a s J o h n Powers wrote i n his July 4 , 2 0 0 3 , L A Weekly c o v e r story,

born of centuries of struggle by millions who fought and bled and died to assure that government can't just walk into our bedrooms or read our mail, to protect ordinary people from being overrun

22

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BILL MOYERS

by massive corporations, to win a safety net against the sometimes cruel workings of the market, to guarantee that businessmen could not compel employees to work more than 40 hours a week without compensation, to make us free to criticize our government without having our patriotism impugned, and to make sure our leaders are answerable to the people when they send our soldiers into war.

H e r e is t h e lesson we must n e v e r forget: the eight-hour day, t h e m i n i m u m wage, t h e c o n s e r v a t i o n of natural resources, free trade unions, oldage pensions, c l e a n air and water, safe food—all began with citizens and w o n t h e e n d o r s e m e n t of t h e political class only after long struggles and bitter attacks. D e m o c r a c y works w h e n people c l a i m it as their own. It is rarely r e m e m b e r e d t h a t t h e n o t i o n of d e m o c r a c y immortalized by A b r a h a m L i n c o l n in t h e Gettysburg Address had b e e n inspired by T h e o d o r e Parker,

t h e a b o l i t i o n i s t prophet.

D r i v e n from his pulpit,

Parker said: "I will go about and p r e a c h and lecture in t h e city and glen, by t h e roadside and field-side, and wherever m e n and w o m e n may be found." H e b e c a m e t h e ' H o u n d o f Freedom,' and helped t o c h a n g e A m e r i c a through t h e power of the word. We h a v e a story of equal power. It is t h a t t h e promise of A m e r i c a leaves no o n e out. Go now, and tell it on t h e m o u n t a i n s . F r o m t h e rooftops, tell it. F r o m your laptops, tell it. F r o m t h e street corners and from S t a r b u c k s , from delis a n d from diners, tell it. F r o m t h e workplace and t h e bookstore, tell it. On campus a n d at the mall, tell it. T e l l it at t h e synagogue, sanctuary, and mosque. T e l l it where you c a n , w h e n you c a n , and w h i l e you c a n — t o every c a n d i d a t e for office, to every talk-show host and pundit, to corporate e x e c u t i v e s and s c h o o l c h i l d r e n . T e l l it—for A m e r i c a ' s sake.

2. Peace

Corps

|

AT

LARGE

Twenty-fifth

Anniversary

S E P T E M B E R

In

1961

2 1 ,

helping to organize of John

JFK to make Congress

F.

the

Peace Corps.

Kennedy's

it happen,

New

vice president,

to the far more exhilarating work of

Frontier

initiatives,

but

the

man

charged

by

and 1 called on every member of

coached and prodded by LBJ,

allies

and adversaries

on Capitol Hill better

than he

hand.

We succeeded,

and Shriver asked me

to

then deputy director under him.

where I

Congress was skeptical of this most vis-

Sargent Shriver,

to make our pitch,

Service

1986

I negotiated my way from the office of the

was an assistant to Lyndon B. Johnson, ible

Memorial

knew

who knew his old the

palm

of his

become associate director and

It fell to me one weekend to call the parents

of the

first

Peace Corps volunteer to die abroad,

an experience I will never

forget.

Now,

twenty-five

original organizers and re-

turned

volunteers

had

first quarter century

years

later,

many

gathered

at

Arlington

of the Peace

Corps and

of the

National

Cemetery

to remember those

to

mark

the

of our ranks

who had died during the intervening years. As I rose to speak I could see the rows

upon rows

of white

crosses

that

tattooed

the

sloping hillsides

surround-

24

ing us, war.

reminders

of the

BILL MOYERS

men and women who

It seemed fitting to be

which love

|

of one's country

served America in

there and to acknowledge

times

of

the different ways in

can be fulfilled.

* * *

T h e P e a c e Corps volunteers and staff we h o n o r today would n o t wish us to be s e n t i m e n t a l , to m a k e heroes or martyrs of t h e m . I n e v e r m e t a volunteer w h o did n o t w i n c e at t h e tales of idealism and sacrifice spun at headquarters to impress Congress or t h e media. T h e y would shun our praise and agree with t h a t good friend of t h e P e a c e Corps, journalist Murray K e m p t o n , who said t h a t "the true heroes are those who die for causes they c a n n o t quite take seriously." Despite t h e stirring rhetoric of t h e time, our most idealistic volunteers and staff kept t h e i r fingers a little bit crossed. We are here for our sake, n o t for theirs. T h e current P e a c e Corps director, L o r e t t e Ruppe, as dedicated a R e p u b l i c a n as S a r g e n t S h r i v e r was a D e m o c r a t , has renewed t h e bipartisan vision of a forward agenda. B u t she has acknowledged t h a t if new ideas are to m o v e us, n e w purpose engage us, and new dreams inspire us, they will be s u m m o n e d by rememb r a n c e of the values t h a t c o n n e c t t h e past to t h e present and us to t h e work yet to be d o n e . We h a v e , in a sense, c o m e full c i r c l e . A c a r t o o n in t h e 1 9 5 0 s showed U n c l e S a m with his arm around a young A m e r i c a n . T h e y were looking at students demonstrating in some foreign country as U n c l e S a m said, " W e w a n t our young people reading history, n o t writing it." O n c e again a g e n e r a t i o n of A m e r i c a n s is tempted to live undisturbed, buying tranquillity on credit while hearts atrophy, quarantined from any great enthusiasm but private a m b i t i o n . S o m e years ago I interviewed t h e poet laureate o f A m e r i c a , A r c h i b a l d M a c L e i s h . "Every now and t h e n , " he said, "the deepest n e e d of a g e n e r a t i o n appears to be a need n o t to make sense of our lives but to m a k e n o n s e n s e of t h e m . " He recalled how in t h e Dark Ages c o l o n i e s of frightened folk withdrew from

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t h e world to pray for death in filthy cells with t h e i r backs turned to t h e green l e a f and blue water. W h a t M a c L e i s h called "the snake-like sin o f coldness-at-the-heart" is c e l e b r a t e d today by t h e politics a n d c o m m e r c e of images mass-produced in t h e media to do our feeling for us. T h e century has c o n s t a n t l y reminded us t h a t civilization is a t h i n v e n e e r o f civility, stretched across t h e passions o f t h e h u m a n heart. L i t tle did Marshall M c L u h a n k n o w w h e n he said t h e world is a global village t h a t its n a m e would be Belfast, B e i t u t , and Baghdad. T h e image of C h e r n o b y l dwells in t h e mind: just as we were finally about to admit t h a t no m a n is an island, we all woke up o n e m o r n i n g to realize we live on T h r e e M i l e Island. No wonder so m a n y seek refuge in t h e m o d e r n anc h o r i t e s ' c e l l , c o u n t i n g their m o n e y and getting high while television e x p e r i e n c e s t h e world for t h e m . We find it hard to hear t h e "faint flutter of wings, t h e g e n t l e stirring of life a n d hope." Listening this weekend to news reports of a possible summit b e t w e e n t h e two superpowers, I was reminded of a proposal made by t h e s c h o l a r O s k a r M o r g e n s t e r n just before his death a few years ago. He said all meetings of t h e world's statesmen should take p l a c e in o n e very specific s e t t i n g — a bare, u n c o m f o r t a b l e frame building in some unpleasant spot, h o t in summer, frigid in winter, furnished with a plain t a b l e c l o t h and straight w o o d e n chair. T h e h i g h walls o f t h e c o n f e r e n c e r o o m would b e c o v e r e d with large photo-murals depicting m e m o r a b l e scenes that would register our l e a n i n g toward v i o l e n t and i n h u m a n e behavior. T h e statesm e n would n e g o t i a t e surrounded by blowups of t h e wretched t r e n c h e s of Verdun and t h e S o m m e , where 1 , 1 0 0 , 0 0 0 m e n died in a single b a t t l e . T h e r e would be pictures of t h e bodies piled up at B e l l e a u W o o d and C h a t e a u - T h i e r r y ; o f t h e deep-eyed c h i l d r e n k i c k e d and battered i n t h e Warsaw g h e t t o before being shipped t o t h e c h a m b e r s o f Auschwitz; o f t h e SS using makeshift nooses of piano wire to h a n g boys a n d girls in rural Poland; of t h e dead at Iwo J i m a and Dresden and Hiroshima; of t h e prisoners b a y o n e t e d before c h e e r i n g crowds in t h e s o c c e r stadium during t h e Indian-Pakistani war; of S t a l i n ' s gulags and P o l Pot's d e a t h squads; of J o h n Kennedy's limousine in Dallas, standing empty e x c e p t for b l o o d and flowers; of R o b e r t K e n n e d y lying on a h o t e l k i t c h e n floor; of M a r t i n

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BILL MOYERS

L u t h e r K i n g s h o t down on a M e m p h i s b a l c o n y ; of a boy dying on t h e sidewalk at K e n t S t a t e U n i v e r s i t y as t h e b l o o d flowed from his head; of a little V i e t n a m e s e girl running n a k e d down t h e road, seared by napalm; of A r m e n i a n s simply vanished from life; of civilians slaughtered in L e b a n o n a n d t h e c a r n a g e o f worshippers i n a synagogue; o f u n m a r k e d and u n n u m b e r e d graves t h e world over. S o m e t i m e s I envy t h e clarity of t h e soldier's mission. L o o k at t h e thousands o f crosses surrounding this amphitheater. W h e n Tolstoy c o m pared b a t t l e to a vast triangle, with N a p o l e o n at t h e apex and t h e soldier at t h e base, he was saying t h a t t h e closer a m a n is to t h e l i g h t i n g — t h e nearer he is to t h e d a n g e r — t h e more i m p o r t a n t he is to t h e o u t c o m e of t h e b a t t l e , and i f n o t t o t h e b a t t l e t h e n t o his buddy. W h e n veterans relive t h e i r exploits and swap their stories at reunions, they are celebrating t h e shared r e m e m b r a n c e of e m o t i o n s and c o m m i t m e n t s . In war, ordinary people m a k e history together. S h o u l d war be t h e only trumpet calling us to courage and c o m m i t m e n t ? Soldiers are patriots and h o n o r e d for it. B u t no m a t t e r h o w brave and devoted, t h e warrior's patriotism serves a n a t i o n a l i s t spirit. T h e Prussian officers w h o fought for H i t l e r were patriots. As a patriot G e n eral C u r t i s L e M a y urged V i e t n a m b e b o m b e d i n t o t h e S t o n e A g e . G e n eral W e s t m o r e l a n d was a patriot. So was his adversary, G e n e r a l G i a p . In uniform patriotism c a n salute o n e flag only, e m b r a c e but t h e first c i r c l e of life—one's own land and tribe. In war that is necessary, in p e a c e it is not enough. W h e n t h e young G e o r g e W a s h i n g t o n spoke o f his country, h e m e a n t Virginia. E v e n t s enlarged his e m b r a c e to a wholly n e w idea of n a t i o n — t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s o f A m e r i c a . B u t less t h a n a century later his descendant by marriage could n o t slip the more parochial tether. In t h e halls of the family h o m e standing o n t h e h i l l a b o v e us, G e n e r a l R o b e r t E . L e e paced b a c k and forth a s h e weighed t h e offer o f A b r a h a m L i n c o l n t o take c o m m a n d o f t h e U n i o n A r m y o n t h e e v e o f t h e C i v i l W a r . L e e turned t h e offer down and t h a t e v e n i n g t o o k t h e train to R i c h m o n d . His c o u n try was still Virginia. We struggle today with t h e imperative of a new patriotism and c i t i -

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27

zenship. T h e P e a c e Corps has b e e n showing us t h e way, and t h e volunteers and staff w h o m we h o n o r this m o r n i n g are t h e vanguard of t h a t journey. T h e writer W i l l i a m Least H e a t - M o o n reminds us of those old radio broadcasts t h a t spoke of escaped criminals being "at large." It's a fine phrase, he writes, with its implications of an immensity and awareness of life t h a t c a n result. A m e r i c a , he said, put t h a t self-absorption b e h i n d you and go outward—be at large! To be a patriot in this sense means to recognize that we are members of a particular culture and society, but so are all others. It is to acknowledge that their kinship and b o n d s — t h e i r sacred p l a c e s — a r e as import a n t to t h e m as ours are to us. L o v e of country, yes. B u t we carry two passports: o n e stamped t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s of A m e r i c a , t h e o t h e r as a c i t izen of t h e world at large. H u m a n beings belong to t h e same species but our tents are p i t c h e d on different ground, and so we l o o k out on t h e world from separate angles. T h i s has practical results. You go abroad cautious about t h e help you c a n be to others, k n o w i n g t h a t t h e only real c h a n g e you c a n a c c o m p l i s h will be within. B u t you go because the world is your h o m e . As every volunteer testifies, t h e P e a c e Corps is more t h a n a program or mission. It is a way of being in the world. T h i s is a conservative n o t i o n because it holds dear t h e ground of one's own b e i n g — t h e culture and customs t h a t give m e a n i n g to a particular life. B u t it is a liberal n o t i o n for respecting t h e ground revered by others. T h i s double h e l i x in A m e r ica's D N A may yet be t h e source of a new politics and patriotism t h a t could save us from t o x i c self-absorption. W e h a v e learned s o m e t h i n g else from these volunteers. W e learned about living intensely whatever our t i m e here is. W h e n I was his deputy, S a r g e n t S h r i v e r gave me a copy of C h a i m Potok's b o o k The Promise, with this paragraph highlighted:

Human beings don't live forever, Reuven. We live less than the time it takes to blink an eye, if we measure our lives against eternity. So it may be asked what value there is to human life. There is so much pain in the world. W h a t does it mean to have to suffer

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BILL

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so much if our lives are nothing more than a blink of an eye . . . I learned a long time ago, Reuven, that a blink of the eye itself is something. A span of life is nothing. But the man who lives that span, he is something. He can fill that tiny span with memory, so that its quality is immeasurable.

A n d s o they h a v e — t h e m e n a n d w o m e n o f t h e P e a c e Corps w h o m we h o n o r today.

3. | T H E BROAD M A R G I N Peace

Corps

Commemoration

of

the

N O V E M B E R

John F.

Kennedy remains

an enigma

Death

2 2 ,

of John

F.

Kennedy

I988

to me.

During the successful Kennedy-

Johnson campaign of 1 9 6 0 , when I had been a liaison between the traveling entourages earlier

of the

had

been

inspired me.

two

candidates,

competing for

Standing in

two

ambitious

their party's

politicians

nomination,

JFK's

the bitter cold at his inauguration,

and 1 were moved by his summons to

who my

only

days

speeches

had

wife, Judith,

"ask not what your country can do for

you but what you can do for your country."

Then and there 1 realized that

once he launched the Peace Corps, I wanted to be part of it. Only years later, after 1 had left Washington, man whose personal life

did we begin to learn more about this complex

had been as driven by

his rhetoric had been inspiring.

I am fortunate

common human appetites as to have

lived in Washington

when the inner life of a public figure was not the obsession it would later become.

When

Matthew's

the

Peace

Cathedral,

the

niversary of his assassination,

Corps

held

site

of his

a

memorial

funeral,

service

marking

the

for JFK

at

St.

twenty-fifth

an-

I chose to dwell on his ability to requite some-

30

thing in me—and in my flaws that

could have

|

BILL MOYERS

generation—that aspired to excel despite

thwarted

the personal

our dreams.

* * *

I sometimes hear a soundtrack of memories in my head, playing b a c k t h e incongruities o f t h e 1 9 6 0 s . I h e a r t h e sounds of c h e e r i n g crowds and burning cities; of laughing c h i l d r e n and weeping widows; of night riders, nightmares, and napalm; of falling barriers and new beginnings and animosities as old as C a i n and Abel. I h e a r t h e summons t h a t opened t h e d e c a d e — " L e t t h e word go forth"—and t h e m e l a n c h o l y l a m e n t t h a t closed it, composed by a disc o n s o l a t e young m a n who had given his heart to three leaders gunned down by assassins: " T h e stone was at t h e b o t t o m of t h e hill, and we were alone." B u t s o m e t h i n g survived those years w h i c h bullets could n o t stop. An idea survived, embodied in t h e P e a c e Corps volunteers who are n o w 1 2 5 , 0 0 0 strong and still c o m i n g . T h i s idea survived t h e flawed stewardship of those of us w h o were its first custodians and it survived t h e premature death of t h e m a n w h o had asked us to serve it. Of t h e private m a n J o h n K e n n e d y I k n e w little. I saw h i m rarely. O n c e , w h e n t h e 1 9 6 0 campaign was over and he was ending a postelect i o n visit to the L B J R a n c h , he pulled me into a c o r n e r and urged me to a b a n d o n my plans for graduate work at t h e University of T e x a s and j o i n his administration in W a s h i n g t o n . I told h i m t h a t I had already signed up to t e a c h at a Baptist university in T e x a s while pursuing my doctorate. I said, "You're going to h a v e to call on t h e whole faculty at Harvard. You don't n e e d a graduate of S o u t h w e s t e r n Baptist T h e o l o g i c a l Seminary." In m o c k surprise he said, "Didn't you k n o w t h a t t h e first president of Harvard was a Baptist? You'll be right at h o m e . " A n d so I was.

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31

J F K of course was flawed; it runs in our presidents. B u t I r e m e m b e r h i m n o t so m u c h for what he was or wasn't but for what he empowered in m e . We all edit history to give some form to t h e puzzle of our lives, and I cherish t h e late president's memory for awakening me to a differe n t story for myself. T h e best leaders sign us up for c i v i c duty, k n o w ing, as J o h n S t u a r t M i l l wrote, t h a t " t h e worth of a state, in the long run, is t h e worth of t h e individuals composing it." R a t h e r t h a n encouraging us to exalt in our self-interest t h e y c h a l l e n g e us to act b e y o n d our apparent capacities, offering us t h e c h a n c e to sharpen our skills as citizens. T h e t h e o l o g i a n Karl B a r t h was five years old w h e n he first heard t h e music of Mozart. It would delight h i m all his life. A n d in 1 9 5 5 B a r t h addressed a letter to t h e long-deceased Mozart, t h a n k i n g h i m for all t h e pleasure and discovery of t h e music. " W i t h an ear o p e n to your musical dialectic," he wrote, " o n e c a n be young and b e c o m e old, c a n work and rest, be c o n t e n t and sad: in short, o n e c a n live." Politics has its music. In m a n y of his speeches J o h n K e n n e d y challenged my generation to what H e n r y David T h o r e a u called "the broad margin" of life. T h e music said: "signify, serve, and m a k e a difference." O u r volunteers were n o t n a i v e . T h e y waged h a n d - t o - h a n d c o m b a t with cynicism, and most of t h e t i m e they won. B e c a u s e they did, t h e P e a c e Corps has earned a reputation hailed by The Washington Post as o n e of t h e world's most effective grass-roots d e v e l o p m e n t organizations. T h e idea was around. It was in t h e air. G e n e r a l J a m e s M. G a v i n , a wartime hero, had called for a p e a c e t i m e volunteer force to be started as an alternative to military service. S e n a t o r H u b e r t Humphrey was preparing legislation for it. C o n g r e s s m a n H e n r y Reuss and S e n a t o r R i c h a r d Neuberger had co-sponsored a P o i n t Four Youth Corps. B u t it t o o k a president's bully pulpit to sound t h e trumpet. T h e Talmud tells us t h a t "in every age there c o m e s a time w h e n leadership suddenly c o m e s forth to m e e t t h e needs of t h e hour. A n d so, there is no m a n who does n o t find his time, and there is no hour t h a t does n o t h a v e its leader."

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BILL MOYERS

K e n n e d y was right on time with this idea. A n d we responded: C a t h o l i c s , Protestants, humanists, Jews, blacks, whites, from every part of t h e c o u n try, from all e c o n o m i c levels, from various and sundry b a c k g r o u n d s — skiers,

mountain

climbers,

teachers,

big-game

hunters,

preachers,

journalists, prizefighters, football players, p o l o players, e n o u g h lawyers to staff a firm, and e n o u g h P h D s for a liberal-arts c o l l e g e . W h a t drew t h e m ? F r o m m y o w n P e a c e Corps e x p e r i e n c e c a m e a gift from A l b e r t Schweitzer, a photograph inscribed "to the affirmation of life." By this S c h w e i t z e r m e a n t t h e spiritual a c t by w h i c h we cease to live unreflectively. Early on some c r i t i c said t h e urge to j o i n t h e P e a c e Corps was passion a l o n e . N o t so. T h o u s a n d s o f m e n and w o m e n looked their lives over and decided to affirm. T h e y c a m e from a v e i n in A m e r i c a n life as idealistic as t h e D e c l a r a t i o n of I n d e p e n d e n c e and as down-to-earth as a m e c h a n i c ' s manual. R e c e n t l y I interviewed t h e o c t o g e n a r i a n d e a n of A m e r i c a n historians, H e n r y S t e e l e C o m m a g e r . He talked about h o w great things were done by t h e g e n e r a t i o n t h a t won i n d e p e n d e n c e and t h e n formed our g o v e r n m e n t , by t h e g e n e r a t i o n t h a t saved t h e U n i o n and ended slavery, and by t h e g e n e r a t i o n t h a t defeated t h e fascists of Europe and warlords o f J a p a n and t h e n organized t h e p e a c e t h a t followed. A n d h e said t h e r e are still great things to be won h e r e at h o m e and in t h e world. W e k n o w this t o b e true. W e also k n o w t h a t i f w e are t o r e c k o n with t h e growing c o n c e n t r a t i o n and privilege of power; if from t h e silos of our separate realities we are to c r e a t e a n e w consensus of shared values; if w e are t o e x o r c i s e t h e t o x i c r e m n a n t s o f racism, reduce t h e e x t r e m e s o f poverty a n d wealth, a n d o v e r c o m e our i g n o r a n c e o f our heritage, history, and world, we must r e a c h deep i n t o t h e v e i n w h i c h gave rise to t h e P e a c e C o r p s a n d c o m m i t ourselves o n c e again t o t h e broad margins o f life. I n his "Letters at 3 A . M . , " M i c h a e l V e n t u r a wrote:

T h e dream we must now seek to realize, the new human project, is not "security," which is impossible to achieve on the planet Earth in the latter half of the 20th century. It is not "happiness,"

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by which we generally mean nothing but giddy forgetfulness about the danger of all our lives together. It is not "selfrealization," by which people usually mean a separate peace. There is no separate peace . . . T h e real project is to realize that technology has married us all to each other, has made us one peopie on one planet, and that until we are more courageous about this new marriage—ourselves all intertwined—there will be no peace and the destination of any of us will be unknown . . . How far can we go together . . . men and women, black, brown, yellow, white, young and old? We will go as far as we can because we must go wherever it is we are going together. There is no such thing as going alone. Given the dreams and doings of our psyches, given the nature of our world, there is no such thing as being alone. If you are the only one in the room it is still a crowded room. But we are all together of this planet, you, me, us: inner, outer, together, and we're called to affirm our marriage vows. Our project, the new human task, is to learn how to consummate, how to sustain, how to enjoy this most human marriage—all parts, all of us.

A m e r i c a has a rendezvous it has scarcely imagined with what t h e late J o s e p h C a m p b e l l called "a mighty multicultural future." It will n o t be easy to n e g o t i a t e our way in a world crowded with so m a n y aspirations and appetites. But contrary to t h e forlorn l a m e n t of t h e disconsolate young m a n w h o thought it was all over, t h e stone is n o t at t h e b o t t o m o f t h e hill and w e are n o t alone. M o r e t h a n 1 2 5 , 0 0 0 P e a c e Corps volunteers h a v e scouted t h e journey ahead o f us. T h e y h a v e b e e n t o where t h e future is taking shape—truly t h e N e w Frontier.

4. The

THE Hubert

H.

Commemoration

of

HAPPY

Humphrey Hubert

Democratic

Institute

H.

you are

to

not likely

be

the

23,

landmarks

surprised by

a dream." and

Selma. date:

Little

in

to

the

1948

of the

civil rights

what you hear: The

1961

The

movement and 1954

Supreme

Freedom Rides.

when Martin Luther King proclaimed

of

Minneapolis

roused

the

conscience

by

Rock.

Philadelphia,

mayor speeches

Speech

in

"I

The have

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Birmingham. place

1963

Affairs

1998

Court decision to desegregate public schools. March on Washington in

Public

Convention

J U N E

to name

of

Humphrey's

National

Ask my generation

WARRIOR

Hubert

was fourteen at the

rocked of the

H. time.

But

1948.

1

There

the its

add

to

that

litany

in a sweltering hall

Democratic

country.

Humphrey,

would

Mercifully

National short as

another

the

young

Convention compared

impact reverberated far and

to

and later

wide.

I

His words penetrated and disturbed the deeply seg-

regated town in East Texas where I was growing up;

there were murmurs in

the barbershops and diners and on the courthouse square.

The South that had

MOYERS

changed so storm. ever,

little

over so

ON

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long had heard the first

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thunderclap

of a coming

Humphrey would go on to become one of the most influential senators a frustrated vice president,

and an almost-president,

losing to Nixon by

only 511,944 popular votes. I would get to know and work with him over six intense years in Washington, That Speech,

as

he

and we talked on more than one occasion about

called it.

1 never more

gagement than when 1 was asked to make anniversary

of

That

eagerly accepted a speaking en-

the keynote address at the Fiftieth

Speech.

* * *

I h a v e a hard t i m e imagining my life without t h e impact of H u b e r t Humphrey. He was t h e friend who toasted me on my t h i r t i e t h birthday and t h e m e n t o r who nurtured my political s e n t i m e n t s . S o m e of you will r e m e m b e r t h a t it was S e n a t o r Humphrey who first proposed t h a t young A m e r i c a n s be offered t h e c h a n c e to serve their country abroad in p e a c e and n o t just in war. Newly arrived in W a s h i n g t o n , I read his speeches on t h e subject and liberally borrowed from t h e m for t h e speech 1 helped to write for S e n a t o r Lyndon B . J o h n s o n during t h e campaign o f 1 9 6 0 w h e n , at t h e University of Nebraska, he proposed "a youth corps." Two weeks later, on t h e eve of t h e e l e c t i o n , S e n a t o r J o h n F. K e n n e d y called for t h e c r e a t i o n of t h e P e a c e Corps. T h i s speech, too, owed its spiritual lineage to Hubert Humphrey. After t h e 1 9 6 0 e l e c t i o n I finagled my way o n t o t h e P e a c e Corps Task F o r c e , where I worked with S e n a t o r Humphrey on t h e legislation t h a t turned t h e idea from rhetoric to reality. President K e n n e d y t h e n n o m i n a t e d m e t o b e t h e P e a c e Corps deputy director. T h e n o m i n a t i o n ran into trouble on t h e S e n a t e floor w h e n S e n a t o r Frank L a u s c h e ann o u n c e d t h a t "a twenty-eight-year-old boy r e c e n t l y out of c o l l e g e " was being given t o o m u c h responsibility, t o o fast, at a salary far t o o h i g h for s o m e o n e so green b e h i n d the ears. S e n a t o r L a u s c h e was probably right about t h a t ( a l t h o u g h I had informed h i m during t h e c o m m i t t e e hearings t h a t I was n o t twenty-eight, I was twenty-eight and a h a l f ! ) . B u t it didn't matter; he was no m a t c h for H u b e r t Humphrey, w h o rushed to t h e floor

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o f t h e S e n a t e n o t only t o defend m e but t o c h a m p i o n t h e cause o f youth i n public service. S o m e o f you who k n e w H u b e r t H o r a t i o H u m p h r e y will understand w h e n I say there should h a v e b e e n a fourth " H " in his n a m e — f o r "hyperbole." B u t t h e hyperbole felt good t o t h o s e o n w h o m it was s h o w e r e d — i n this case, m e :

I know this man [Moyers] well. I have spent countless hours with him on the Peace Corps legislation. He was in my office hour after hour working out the details of the legislation. He was at the Foreign Relations Committee Room during the period of the hearings on the legislation and the markup on the legislation. If I know any one member of this government, I know Bill Moyers.

A n d t h e n , h e t o o k off, his words r o c k e t i n g across t h e S e n a t e c h a m b e r :

Did not Pitt, the younger, as a rather young man, prove his competence as Prime Minister of Great Britain? He did not have to be fifty, sixty, or sixty-five. He was in his twenties. I invite the attention of my colleagues to the fact that most of the great heroes of the Revolutionary War period . . . were in their twenties and early thirties . . . that many great men in history, from Alexander to Napoleon, achieved greatness when they were in their twenties . . . that the average age of the signers of our Declaration of Independence was thirty-six. I do not wish to use any invidious comparisons, but have seen people who have lived a long time who have not learned a great deal, and I have seen people who have lived only a short time who have learned a very great deal. I think we should judge persons not by the calendar but by their caliber, by the mind and heart and proven capacity . . . My good friend from O h i o [Senator Lausche] said that when this nomination comes to the floor of the Senate he will be here to speak against [it] . . . Just as surely, I say the senator from Minnesota will be here to speak in favor of [it].

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He kept his word. A n d I h a v e b e e n indebted to h i m e v e r s i n c e . I wish he k n e w my grandchildren are growing up h e r e in his state, and I wish he could see this throng of old friends and admirers, gathered to c o m m e m o r a t e o n e o f t h e great acts o f courage i n A m e r i c a n politics. Let's go b a c k to July of 1 9 4 8 — t h r e e weeks after t h e R e p u b l i c a n s triumphantly n o m i n a t e d T h o m a s E . Dewey and began measuring t h e W h i t e House for n e w drapes. T h e dispirited D e m o c r a t s m e t i n Philadelp h i a resigned to n o m i n a t i n g t h e i r a c c i d e n t a l president, Harry T r u m a n . T r u m a n h a d surprised many A m e r i c a n s earlier t h a t year w h e n h e had demanded t h a t Congress pass a strong civil rights package, but now he and his advisers h a d c h a n g e d their tune. A strong civil rights plank in t h e party platform, t h e y were c o n v i n c e d , would antagonize t h e S o u t h and destroy Truman's c h a n c e s for e l e c t i o n . T h e specter of a bitter fight dividing t h e c o n v e n t i o n was all t h e m o r e frightening to t h e D e m o c r a t s since for t h e first t i m e television cameras were m a k i n g t h e i r debut on t h e c o n v e n t i o n f l o o r and the deliberations would b e carried t o t h e c o u n try. So t h e party leaders decided to b a c k away from a strong civil rights stand and offer instead an innocuous plank t h a t would n o t offend t h e South. T h e mayor of M i n n e a p o l i s disagreed. Hubert H u m p h r e y was thirtyseven. After graduating m a g n a c u m laude from t h e University of M i n n e s o t a he a n d his young wife, M u r i e l B u c k , had g o n e to Louisiana for Humphrey to earn his master's degree. W h a t they saw t h e r e of t h e "deplorable daily indignities" visited upon S o u t h e r n blacks was significantly responsible for his long c o m m i t m e n t to t h e politics of equal opportunity. He c a m e b a c k to M i n n e a p o l i s to run for mayor, lost, ran a s e c o n d t i m e , and won. U n d e r his leadership t h e city c o u n c i l established t h e country's f i r s t enforceable M u n i c i p a l Fair E m p l o y m e n t Practices C o m m i s s i o n . H e sent six hundred volunteers walking door-to-door, to factories and businesses, s c h o o l s a n d c h u r c h e s to e x p o s e d i s c r i m i n a t i o n previously ignored. T h e i r report, said M a y o r Humphrey, was "a mirror t h a t might get M i n n e a p o l i s to l o o k at itself." He saw to it t h a t doors o p e n e d to blacks, Jews, and Indians. He suspended a p o l i c e m a n for calling a traffic viola-

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tor "a dirty J e w " and t h e n established a h u m a n relations course for pol i c e officers a t t h e U n i v e r s i t y o f M i n n e s o t a . W h a t H u b e r t H u m p h r e y preached about c i v i l rights, h e p r a c t i c e d . A n d what h e practiced, h e preached. He arrived at t h e D e m o c r a t i c C o n v e n t i o n in P h i l a d e l p h i a fifty years ago with c o n v i c t i o n s b o r n of e x p e r i e n c e . As a c h a r i s m a t i c spokesman for t h e liberal wing of t h e party he was n a m e d to t h e platform c o m m i t t e e , and w h e n after a ferocious debate t h a t very c o m m i t t e e v o t e d down a strong civil rights p l a n k in favor of t h e weaker o n e supported by t h e Trum a n W h i t e House, H u m p h r e y agonized o v e r what to do. S h o u l d he defy t h e party and carry t h e fight to a showdown on t h e c o n v e n t i o n floor? T h e old bulls of his own party said n o . " W h o does this pip-squeak t h i n k he is?" asked o n e powerful D e m o c r a t . President T r u m a n referred to h i m as o n e of those "crackpots" w h o couldn't possibly understand what would happ e n if t h e S o u t h left t h e party. It was a thorny d i l e m m a . If Humphrey forced t h e c o n v e n t i o n to a m e n d t h e platform in favor of a stronger c i v i l rights plank, the delegates might refuse, n o t only setting b a c k t h e fledgling civil rights m o v e m e n t but making a laughingstock of H u b e r t H u m phrey and spoiling his o w n race for t h e S e n a t e later t h a t same year. On t h e o t h e r hand, if he t o o k t h e fight to t h e floor and won, t h e S o u t h e r n delegates might walk out and c o s t Harry T r u m a n t h e presidency. He wrote in his m e m o i r :

In retrospect, the decision should have been easy. T h e plank was morally right and politically right. . . [But] clearly, it would have grave repercussions on our lives: it could make me an outcast to many people; and it could even end my chances for a life of public service. I didn't want to split the party; I didn't want to ruin my career, to go from mayor to "pipsqueak" to oblivion. But I did want to make the case for a clear-cut commitment to a strong civil rights program.

Years later he recalled t h e d i l e m m a in a c o n v e r s a t i o n with an old friend, w h o told h i m : " T h a t sounds like t h e politics of a n u n n e r y — y o u ' d

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rather h a v e b e e n right t h a n b e e n president." " N o t a t all," H u m p h r e y shot b a c k . "I'd rather be right and be president." W h i c h m i g h t explain in part, said t h e friend, why he n e v e r was. Here's e x a c t l y w h a t t h e p l a n k said: " W e c a l l upon Congress to support our President in guaranteeing these basic and fundamental rights: 1) t h e right of full and equal political participation; 2) t h e right to equal opportunity o f e m p l o y m e n t ; 3 ) t h e right o f security o f person; and 4 ) t h e right of equal t r e a t m e n t in t h e service and defense of our n a t i o n . " It sounds so obvious now. A l l people, no m a t t e r w h a t their skin color, h a d t h e same right to v o t e , to work, to live safe from h a r m , to serve their country. B u t it's hard to remember, h a l f a century later, h o w radical those fifty words really were. In 1 9 4 8 t h e S o u t h was still a differe n t country. B e l o w t h e M a s o n - D i x o n L i n e — o r , as some blacks called it, t h e S m i t h & W e s s o n L i n e — s e g r e g a t i o n of t h e races was rigorously uph e l d by law and custom, vigorously p r o t e c t e d by v i o l e n c e if necessary. To most whites, this system was their "traditional way of life," a n d they defended it with a holy fervor. To most blacks, "tradition" m e a n t terror, oppression, h u m i l i a t i o n , e v e n death. R e v i s i t with me what life was like for b l a c k A m e r i c a n s in t h e late 1 9 4 0 s , w h e n H u b e r t H u m p h r e y was facing t h e c h o i c e b e t w e e n dishonoring his c o n s c i e n c e a n d b e c o m i n g a pip-squeak. Every day, b l a c k people were living lives of quiet desperation. T h e e v i d e n c e was everywhere. You see it in t h e numbers, t h e raw measurements of t h e quality of life for b l a c k people. Flip o p e n t h e C e n s u s Bureau's volumes of historical statistics and l o o k under any category for 1 9 4 8 or thereabouts. H e a l t h , for i n s t a n c e . B l a c k people died on average six or s e v e n years earlier t h a n whites. Nearly twice as many b l a c k babies as w h i t e babies died in their first year. A n d more t h a n three times as m a n y b l a c k mothers as w h i t e m o t h e r s died in childbirth. Or take e d u c a t i o n . Young white adults had c o m p l e t e d a m e d i a n of just o v e r twelve years of s c h o o l , while blacks h a d n o t g o t t e n m u c h past e i g h t h grade. A m o n g b l a c k people o v e r seventy-five—those w h o h a d b e e n b o r n during or just after slavery times—fewer t h a n h a l f of t h e m h a d e v e n finished fourth grade.

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R e c a l l t h e standard o f living. T h e median family i n c o m e for whites was $ 3 , 3 1 0 , for blacks just h a l f that. S i x t y p e r c e n t of white agricultural workers were full owners of their farms and about a quarter were tenants, while for blacks, t h e numbers were almost e x a c t l y opposite: only a quarter of blacks o w n e d t h e i r o w n farms, and m o r e t h a n two-thirds were tenants. You see t h e ethos of t h e t i m e in popular culture, full of c a r t o o n creatures like S t e p i n F e t c h i t , A m o s 'n' Andy, and B u c k w h e a t ; you could look till your eyes a c h e d for a single strong, admirable, h u m a n black c h a r a c t e r in a mainstream b o o k or m o v i e . T h e r e ' s a scene in o n e of t h e most b e l o v e d movies ever made, Casablanca, in w h i c h Humphrey B o gart's lost love, t h e beautiful Ingrid B e r g m a n , walks into R i c k ' s Cafe and says to C l a u d e R a i n s , " T h e boy who's playing t h e p i a n o — s o m e w h e r e I've seen h i m . . ." S h e ' s referring, of course, to Dooley W i l s o n , who at nearly fifty was almost twice Bergman's age, but in those days, to whites, it was okay to c a l l a b l a c k m a n a "boy." You see it in a slim b o o k written by R a y Sprigle, an adventurous reporter for t h e Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. W i t h a shaved h e a d and a deep Florida suntan he traveled through t h e S o u t h in 1 9 4 8 posing as a b l a c k m a n to see what life was really like on t h e o t h e r side of t h e c o l o r l i n e . T h r o u g h o u t his trip his b l a c k hosts told h i m horrific stories of indignities, humiliations, lynchings, and murders. W h i l e n o t h i n g untoward h a p p e n e d to Sprigle himself, it was because, as he put it,

I gave nobody a chance. T h a t was part of my briefing: "Don't jostle a white man. Don't, if you value your safety, brush a white woman on the sidewalk." So I saw to it that I never got in the way of one of the master race. I almost wore out my cap, dragging it off my shaven poll whenever I addressed a white man. I "sired" everybody, right and left, black, white and in between. I took no chances. I was more than careful to be a "good nigger."

You see it in t h e r e c o l l e c t i o n s of W i l l i e Morris, who in his celebrated m e m o i r of growing up in Mississippi during t h e ' 4 0 s recalls his c o m p l i -

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c a t e d and mysterious relationship with t h e b l a c k people of his town, a relationship t h a t warped and scarred b o t h black and w h i t e . As a small child, he says, he h a d learned t h e special vocabulary of racism: " 'keeping house like a nigger' was to k e e p it dirty and unswept. ' B e h a v i n g like a nigger' was to stay out at all hours a n d to h a v e several wives or husbands. A 'nigger street' was unpaved and littered with garbage." Morris writes of casual cruelties like t h e t i m e he h i d in t h e bushes until a tiny b l a c k c h i l d walked by, t h e n leaped out to k i c k a n d cuff t h e child. " M y heart was beating furiously, in terror and a curious pleasure," Morris wrote. "For a while I was happy with this act, and my head was strangely light and giddy. T h e n later, t h e more I t h o u g h t about it coldly, I c o u l d hardly bear my secret shame." In t h e small t o w n where I grew up in East T e x a s , there were h i g h s c h o o l kids—classmates of m i n e — w h o made a sport out of "niggerk n o c k i n g . " Driving along a country road they would e x t e n d a b r o o m h a n d l e out of t h e rear window at just t h e right m o m e n t and angle to deliver a stunning blow to an unsuspecting b l a c k pedestrian. T h e n they would go c e l e b r a t e over a few beers. W h i l e I n e v e r participated, it was my secret shame t h a t I n e v e r tried to stop t h e m . T h e r e was a study in 1 9 4 6 by t h e S o c i a l S c i e n c e s Institute at Fisk University, t h e b l a c k c o l l e g e in N a s h v i l l e , about white attitudes toward b l a c k people. In interview after interview, average citizens throughout t h e S o u t h n e v e r talked of overt v i o l e n c e or flaming hatred, but their det a c h e d and imperturbable c a l m was in some ways e v e n more grotesque t h a n physical v i o l e n c e . L i s t e n t o their voices: A female t e a c h e r i n K e n t u c k y : " W e h a v e n o p r o b l e m o f equality b e cause they are in t h e i r n a t i v e e n v i r o n m e n t . If we permitted t h e m to be equal t h e y wouldn't respect us. We n e v e r h a v e any riots because t h e i r interests are looked after by t h e white people." A housewife in N o r t h C a r o l i n a : " T h e y are as lovable as a n y o n e in a lower order of life could be . . . I had to go see an old sick w o m a n yesterday. We feel toward t h e m like we do about our pets. I h a v e no horror of a b l a c k m a n . W h y , some of t h e m are t h e n i c e s t old b l a c k niggers. T h e y are b e t t e r t h a n a barrel of monkeys for a m u s e m e n t . "

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A businessman in N o r t h C a r o l i n a : "I h a v e a feeling of aversion toward a rat or s n a k e . T h e y are harmless but I d o n ' t like t h e m . I feel t h e same toward a nigger. I wouldn't kill o n e but there it is." Or a m e c h a n i c in G e o r g i a : "During t h e war I was s t a t i o n e d at a n o r t h e r n naval yard. T h e southern N e g r o was g i v e n t h e same privileges as w h i t e m e n . He was n o t used to it, and it ruined a good N e g r o . In t h e south he is treated as a nigger and is at h o m e h e r e . He knows this t r e a t m e n t is t h e best for h i m . . . We h a v e a good group around h e r e . It's years and years s i n c e we've h a d a l y n c h i n g . It's n o t necessary to l y n c h t h e m . T h e sheriffs i n this c o u n t y take more c a r e o f t h e darky t h a n t h e white man." By n o w these words are making you twist and cringe in your seats. I h a v e trouble forcing t h e m out of my m o u t h . B u t these words were t h e c o i n o f t h e realm i n 1 9 4 8 . A f t e r more t h a n two centuries o f slavery a n d nearly a n o t h e r o f J i m C r o w segregation, b l a c k people were still struggling to realize t h e i r most basic rights as h u m a n beings, let a l o n e as c i t izens. T h e framers o f t h e C o n s t i t u t i o n made t h e i r notorious decision i n 1 7 8 7 t h a t for census purposes e a c h slave would c o u n t as three-fifths of a person. I n t h e minds o f m a n y w h i t e S o u t h e r n e r s i n 1 9 4 8 , t h a t fraction still s e e m e d about right. Y e t s o m e t h i n g was b e g i n n i n g to c h a n g e . T h e steadfast but quiet resistance long p r a c t i c e d by m a n y S o u t h e r n b l a c k s was n o w being s t r e n g t h e n e d by a n e w d e v e l o p m e n t : thousands of b l a c k veterans were c o m i n g h o m e from Europe and t h e Pacific. T h e s e m e n h a d fought for t h e i r country. S o m e h a d e v e n fought for t h e right to fight for their country, n o t just to dig ditches and drive trucks and peel potatoes for their country. T h e y had served in a segregated army t h a t h a d a c c e p t e d t h e i r l a b o r a n d t h e i r sacrifice w i t h o u t a c c e p t i n g t h e i r humanity. S o m e o f t h e m h a d c o m e h o m e heroes, others h a d c o m e h o m e e m b i t t e r e d , and m a n y h a d also c o m e h o m e d e t e r m i n e d t h a t things would b e different now. T h e y h a d e a r n e d t h e respect o f t h e i r fellow A m e r i c a n s and it was t i m e they got it. T h a t m e a n t starting at t h e b a l l o t b o x — a tool b o t h practical and symbolic in t h e struggle to ensure t h e i r status as full citizens.

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A l l over t h e S o u t h , where for decades blacks h a d b e e n systematically harassed, intimidated, or o v e r t a x e d to keep t h e m from voting, intense registration drives for t h e 1 9 4 6 campaigns swelled t h e rolls with f i r s t - t i m e b l a c k voters. A n d t h e white supremacists were f i g h t i n g b a c k . S o m e t i m e s it was brute and r a n d o m v i o l e n c e . In Mississippi a group of b l a c k veterans was dumped off a truck and b e a t e n up. In G e o r g i a two b l a c k m e n , o n e a veteran, were out driving with t h e i r wives w h e n they were ambushed and shot by a m o b of whites. T h e m o b t h e n turned on t h e w o m e n w h o h a d witnessed t h e c r i m e . In S o u t h C a r o l i n a , a b l a c k v e t e r a n returning h o m e by bus after fifteen m o n t h s in t h e S o u t h Pacific angered t h e driver with some m i n o r act t h a t struck t h e white m a n as uppity. At t h e n e x t stop t h e soldier was t a k e n off t h e bus by t h e local c h i e f of police and b e a t e n so badly he went blind. Permanently. U n d e r pressure from t h e N A A C P , s o m e t h i n g unusual happened: t h e c h i e f was put o n trial. T h e n n o r m a l c y returned. T h e c h i e f was acquitted, t o t h e c h e e r s o f t h e courtroom. B u t t h e demagogues also made deliberate efforts to stop t h e b l a c k v o t e by whatever m e a n s necessary. In G e o r g i a , G e n e Talmadge ran for governor and won on a frankly, e v e n joyfully, racist platform. " I f I get a N e g r o v o t e it will be an a c c i d e n t , " he declared, a n d his m a c h i n e figured out ways to c h a l l e n g e and purge t h e rolls of most of t h e m . T h e brave b l a c k voters w h o w e n t to t h e polls anyway often paid dearly for t h e i r rights. A n o t h e r veteran, t h e only b l a c k to v o t e in Taylor County, was shot and killed as he sat on his p o r c h t h r e e days after t h e primary and a sign posted o n a nearby b l a c k c h u r c h boasted t h a t

T H E FIRST NIGGER T O

VOTE W I L L N E V E R VOTE AGAIN.

I n Mississippi, t h e racist T h e o d o r e B i l b o was r e e l e c t e d t o t h e S e n ate with t h e h e l p of a c a m p a i g n of threats and v i o l e n c e t h a t kept most b l a c k people h o m e on E l e c t i o n Day. " T h e way to keep t h e nigger from t h e polls is to see h i m t h e n i g h t before," B i l b o was fond of saying. B u t this t i m e b l a c k voters fought b a c k and filed a c o m p l a i n t with t h e S e n ate. Nearly two hundred b l a c k Mississippians trekked to J a c k s o n — a n d its segregated c o u r t r o o m — t o testify about t h e myriad pressures, b o t h subtle and brutal, t h a t h a d kept t h e m from voting. T h e i r e l o q u e n t testi-

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m o n y failed t o c o n v i n c e t h e h o n o r a b l e m e m b e r s . B i l b o was e x o n e r a t e d b y t h e majority o f t h e c o m m i t t e e m e m b e r s — d e s p i t e (or perhaps because of) h a v i n g used t h e word "nigger" s e v e n t y - n i n e times during his own testimony. It was a t o x i c word, a poisonous and deadly word. A n d it was still p r e v a l e n t as a t e r m of derision in t h e early 1 9 6 0 s . In August 1 9 6 4 , following t h e d e a t h o f his father, t h e writer J a m e s B a l d w i n said o n t e l e vision: " M y father is dead: A n d he had a terrible life. B e c a u s e , at t h e b o t t o m o f his heart, h e believed what people said o f h i m . H e b e l i e v e d h e was a nigger." W h e n H u b e r t Humphrey stood u p a t t h e D e m o c r a t i c N a t i o n a l C o n v e n t i o n in P h i l a d e l p h i a a n d urged t h e delegates to support his c i v i l rights plank, h e could h a v e h a d n o doubt h o w ferociously most S o u t h ern delegates would oppose his words—and h o w desperately all S o u t h ern citizens, w h i t e a n d b l a c k , really n e e d e d to h e a r t h e m . It was a short s p e e c h and it t o o k less t h a n t e n m i n u t e s to deliver—doubtless s o m e k i n d o f record for t h e m a n whose o w n wife reportedly o n c e told h i m , "Hubert, you d o n ' t h a v e t o b e i n t e r m i n a b l e t o b e immortal." M o s t o f t h e time h e c o u l d n ' t h e l p being i n t e r m i n a b l e . S o m e o n e said t h a t w h e n G o d passed out t h e glands, H u b e r t t o o k two helpings. He set records for t h e n u m b e r o f subjects h e could approach simultaneously with a n o p e n m o u t h . At a press c o n f e r e n c e in C a l i f o r n i a , his first t h r e e answers to questions lasted, respectively, fourteen, e i g h t e e n , and s i x t e e n minutes. No o n e dared ask h i m a fourth question for fear of missing dinner! B u t i n P h i l a d e l p h i a i n 1 9 4 8 , H u b e r t H u m p h r e y spoke briefly. A n d t h e s e n o t i n t e r m i n a b l e words b e c a m e immortal because they were right. He h a d agonized, he had weighed t h e odds as any p o l i t i c i a n must; he was a p o l i t i c i a n , and this was a time w h e n t h e way to get a h e a d was n o t to go b a c k on your party. B u t n o w he was listening to his c o n s c i e n c e , n o t his party, and he was appealing to t h e best, instead of t h e basest, instincts of his country, and his words rolled through t h e c o n v e n t i o n hall like "a swelling wave."

To those who say that we are rushing this issue of civil rights, I say to them we are 172 years late . . . To those who say that this civil-

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rights program is an infringement on states' rights, I say this: T h e time has arrived in America for the Democratic party to get out of the shadow of states' rights and to walk forthrightly into the bright sunshine of human rights.

W h e n he finished a mighty roar w e n t up from t h e crowd. Delegates stood and whooped and shouted and whistled; a forty-piece band played in t h e aisles, and t h e tumult subsided only w h e n C h a i r m a n S a m R a y burn ordered t h e lights dimmed throughout t h e h a l l . T h e platform c o m m i t t e e was t h e n overruled and Humphrey's p l a n k voted in by a wide margin. Mississippi's entire delegation and h a l f of A l a b a m a ' s stalked out in protest. T h e renegades later formed t h e D i x i e c r a t Party on a platform calling for "the segregation of t h e races and t h e racial integrity of e a c h race," and n o m i n a t e d S t r o m T h u r m o n d for president. " T h e r e ' s n o t e n o u g h troops in t h e army to break down segregation and admit t h e N e gro into our h o m e s , our eating places, our swimming pools, and our t h e aters," T h u r m o n d declared on t h e campaign trail. A majority of t h e voters in S o u t h C a r o l i n a , Mississippi, A l a b a m a , and Louisiana agreed with h i m . B u t Harry T r u m a n didn't lose. T h e Minneapolis Star got it right t h e morning after t h e c o n v e n t i o n w h e n it said Humphrey's speech "had lifted t h e Truman campaign out of t h e rut of just a n o t h e r political drive to a crusade." Harry T r u m a n w o n — a n d t h e S o u t h e r n walkout to protest c i v i l rights actually ended up helping t h e civil rights agenda. If a D e m ocrat could go on to win t h e presidency anyway, e v e n without t h e solid S o u t h b e h i n d h i m , t h e n t h e segregationist stranglehold on t h e party was clearly weaker t h a n advertised, and e v e n t h e most timid politician could see t h a t supporting civil rights might n o t be a political death s e n t e n c e after all. T h e late Murray K e m p t o n o n c e wrote t h a t " a political c o n v e n t i o n is just n o t a place from w h i c h you c a n c o m e away with any trace of faith in h u m a n nature." T h i s o n e was different, because Hubert H u m phrey kept t h e faith. T h e r e were o t h e r forces at work of course. As a Star-Tribune editorial put it recently, it would be misleading to suggest t h e D e m o c r a t i c ship

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turned on a few e l o q u e n t phrases from a young upstart, or t h a t t h e party had e x p e r i e n c e d a moral epiphany. Politics is rarely t h a t simple. T h e r e were o t h e r forces at work. During t h e cold war A m e r i c a needed to put its best face forward. D e m o c r a t s n e e d e d to consolidate t h e i r h o l d on t h e n o r t h e r n industrial states. A m e r i c a needed to respond affirmatively to those returning b l a c k veterans. B u t it would be equally wrong to underestimate what H u b e r t Humphrey did. A n idea whose time has c o m e c a n pass like t h e wind on t h e sea, rippling t h e surface without disturbing t h e depths, if there is no v o i c e to i n c a r n a t e and proclaim it. In a d e m o c r a c y a moral m o v e m e n t must h a v e its political m o m e n t to crystallize and enter t h e bloodstream of t h e n a t i o n . T h i s was such a m o m e n t , and H u m phrey embodied it. B u t 1 9 4 8 wasn't the end of t h e struggle. It turned out to be just t h e beginning. S i x t e e n years later, in 1 9 6 4 , Lyndon J o h n s o n staked his reputation on getting a c o m p r e h e n s i v e civil rights bill passed into law. A n d Hubert Humphrey, now S e n a t o r Humphrey, was t h e m a n assigned t h e gargantuan c h a l l e n g e of shepherding t h e bill through Congress in t h e face of a resolute S o u t h e r n filibuster. O n c e again I was privileged to work with h i m . By now I was an assistant to t h e president, and t h e C i v i l R i g h t s A c t o f 1 9 6 4 was our c h i e f imperative. T h e face o f t h e segregated S o u t h had c h a n g e d — s o m e w h a t . T h e landmark S u p r e m e C o u r t decision Brown vs. Board of Education had given legal aid and comfort to t h e long moral crusade to o p e n t h e public schools to all races, while courageous activists were putting their o w n bodies on t h e line in determined efforts to desegregate t h e buses, t h e l u n c h counters, t h e b e a c h e s , t h e restrooms, t h e swimming pools, and t h e universities o f t h e S o u t h . But all t h e court decisions and sit-ins in t h e world had n o t c h a n g e d the d e t e r m i n a t i o n of t h e die-hard segregationists to defend their vision of t h e S o u t h "by any means necessary," and the few federal laws on t h e books were t o o weak to stop t h e m . A lot of this story, while awful, is familiar. We may t h i n k we h a v e a pretty good idea what was at stake w h e n Hubert H u m p h r e y made his s e c o n d great stand for c i v i l rights. W e ' v e seen t h e photographs and t h e television images; we know about t h e ugly

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mobs taunting t h e quiet b l a c k teenagers outside t h e schools and inside t h e W o o l w o r t h , we k n o w about t h e beatings a n d a t t a c k dogs and fire hoses, we k n o w about t h e murders. During F r e e d o m S u m m e r — t h e very same summer t h a t t h e S e n a t e c o m p l e t e d work o n t h e civil rights b i l l — Mississippi endured thirty-five shootings, t h e b o m b i n g o r burning o f sixty-five h o m e s and c h u r c h e s , t h e arrest of o n e thousand activists and t h e beating o f eighty, and t h e killing o f three volunteers with t h e a c t i v e c o n n i v a n c e o f t h e N e s h o b a C o u n t y sheriff's department, their bodies bulldozed i n t o an e a r t h e n dam. B u t we don't k n o w as m u c h about another, more silent t a c t i c of white resistance t h a t was just as oppressive, and in some ways m a y b e e v e n m o r e effective t h a n t h e v i o l e n c e . I m e a n t h e spying, t h e smearing, the sabotage, and t h e subversion ordered by t h e highest officials in states across t h e S o u t h . We were reminded of t h e twisted depths of official segregation just this spring, w h e n after decades of court battles Mississippi was ordered to o p e n t h e secret f i l e s o f t h e S t a t e S o v e r e i g n t y C o m m i s s i o n . T h i s was a n official g o v e r n m e n t agency, bountifully funded with taxpayer money, lavished with almost unlimited p o l i c e and investigative powers, and charged with upholding t h e separation o f t h e races. M o s t o f t h e S o u t h ern states h a d similar agencies, but Mississippi h a d a well-deserved repu t a t i o n as t h e worst. I h a v e read some of those S o v e r e i g n t y C o m m i s s i o n files. A n d I understand h o w a l o n g t i m e activist in J a c k s o n could r e c e n t l y tell a reporter: " T h e s e files betray t h e absolute paranoia and craziness of t h e g o v e r n m e n t in those times. T h i s was a police state." T h e c o m m i s s i o n devoted astonishing amounts o f effort, t i m e , and m o n e y to snooping i n t o t h e private lives of any citizen w h o supported civil rights, w h o might be supporting civil rights, or w h o m t h e y suspected of stepping over t h e c o l o r l i n e in any way. It tracked down rumors t h a t this n o r t h e r n v o l u n t e e r had VD and t h a t o n e was gay. Its staff c o m b e d through letters to t h e editor in local and n a t i o n a l newspapers, and wrote indignant personal replies to a n y o n e w h o h e l d a contrary o p i n i o n . It sent agents to a J o a n Baez c o n c e r t at a b l a c k c o l l e g e to c o u n t h o w many

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w h i t e people c a m e , and posted people a t N A A C P meetings t o write down t h e license numbers of every c a r in t h e parking lot. It stole lists o f n a m e s from F r e e d o m S u m m e r activists and asked t h e House U n A m e r i c a n A c t i v i t i e s C o m m i t t e e t o c h e c k o n t h e m . I t w e n t through t h e trash at t h e F r e e d o m Houses a n d paid undercover informants to report on leadership squabbles and w h e t h e r t h e white w o m e n were fornicating with t h e b l a c k m e n . T h e most i n c r i m i n a t i n g d o c u m e n t s were purged long ago, but buried deep in those files is still ample e v i d e n c e of t h e v i o l e n c e and brutality. I am h a u n t e d by t h e case of a b l a c k v e t e r a n n a m e d C l y d e K e n nard. W h e n h e insisted o n applying t o t h e local c o l l e g e , o n e for whites only, he was framed on trumped-up charges of stealing c h i c k e n feed and sent to P a r c h m a n , t h e infamous prison farm, for seven years. W h i l e there he developed c o l o n c a n c e r and for m o n t h s was denied t r e a t m e n t . Eventually, after p r o m i n e n t activists brought public pressure to bear on t h e governor, K e n n a r d was released, but it was t o o late. In July 1 9 6 3 , a year before the passage of t h e C i v i l R i g h t s A c t , C l y d e K e n n a r d died following surgery. He was thirty-six years old. R e a d i n g t h e s e files you are struck by t h e brutality a n d banality of evil. You find in t h e m t h e story of a divorced m o t h e r of two w h o was investigated after t h e c o m m i s s i o n heard a rumor t h a t h e r third child was fathered by a b l a c k m a n . An agent arrived to interview witnesses, c o n front t h e m a n , and look at t h e child. "I had a weak feeling in t h e pit of my s t o m a c h , " he reported; he a n d t h e sheriff "were n o t qualified to say it was a part N e g r o c h i l d , but we could say it was n o t 1 0 0 p e r c e n t C a u casian." A f t e r t h a t visit, t h e woman's two older boys were removed from h e r custody. You c a n read in these files about h o w a l o c a l legislator reported to t h e c o m m i s s i o n t h a t a married white w o m a n h a d given b i r t h to a baby girl with "a m u l a t t o c o m p l e x i o n , dark h a i r t h a t h a s a t e n d e n c y to 'kink,' dark hands, and light palms." A d o c t o r and an investigator were i m m e diately dispatched t o e x a m i n e t h e c h i l d , t h e n shelled out $ 6 2 for b l o o d tests to d e t e r m i n e its paternity. T h e tests c a m e b a c k i n c o n c l u s i v e but a c o u p l e of m o n t h s later shots were fired at night i n t o t h e family's h o m e

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and a t h r e a t e n i n g letter signed by t h e K K K , referring to "your wife and N e g r o c h i l d , " was left on their doorstep. T h e y moved out immediately. It was insane and it was official. T h i s was t h e rampant and unc h e c k e d abuse of state power turned against citizens of t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s o f A m e r i c a . A n d this was t h e S o u t h e r n background music t o Lyndon J o h n s o n ' s 1 9 6 4 civil rights bill, w h i c h called for t h e integration of public a c c o m m o d a t i o n s , authorized t h e attorney general to sue s c h o o l districts and o t h e r segregated facilities, outlawed discrimination in e m ployment, and further protected voting rights. W h e n S e n a t o r H u m phrey a c c e p t e d t h e assignment as floor manager for this bill, he k n e w h o w crucial as well as how difficult it would be to gather e n o u g h votes to end t h e S o u t h e r n filibuster. He also k n e w his o w n career was again on t h e line, as L B J was using t h e assignment to test Humphrey's worth as his potential v i c e presidential candidate. T h e filibuster began on M a r c h 9 and went o n , it seemed, forever. B u t Humphrey was prepared and organized. A couple of times during those long m o n t h s of debate I slipped i n t o t h e gallery of t h e S e n a t e to w a t c h h i m lead t h e fight. T h e same deep fire of justice t h a t burned in h i m at t h e 1 9 4 8 c o n v e n t i o n burned within h i m still. He was utterly determined. He held regular strategy meetings. He issued a daily newsletter. He enlisted a different colleague to focus on e a c h title of t h e bill. He schmoozed and c o a x e d and c h a r m e d t h e key m e n whose support he needed. He persuaded t h e R e p u b l i c a n leader, E v e r e t t Dirksen, to retreat from at least forty a m e n d m e n t s that would h a v e gutted t h e bill. He orchestrated t h e support of religious organizations until it seemed t h e corridors and galleries of Congress were overflowing with ministers, priests, and rabbis. " T h e secret of passing t h e bill," he said, "is t h e prayer groups." But t h e open secret was Hubert Humphrey. As R o b e r t M a n n reminds us in The Walls of Jericho, his good h u m o r and boundless optimism prevented t h e debates from dissolving into personal r e c r i m i n a t i o n . O n c e again he kept t h e faith. As he told his longtime supporters at t h e A m e r i c a n s for D e m o c r a t i c A c t i o n after more t h a n two m o n t h s of frustration and delay,

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N o t too many Americans walked with us in 1 9 4 8 , but year after year the marching throng has grown. In the next few weeks the strongest civil rights bill ever enacted in our history will become the law of the land. It is not saying too much, I believe, to say that it will amount to a second Emancipation Proclamation. As it is enforced, it will free our Negro fellow-citizens of the shackles that have bound them for generations. As it is enforced, it will free us, of the white majority, of shackles of our own—for no man can be fully free while his fellow man lies in chains.

H i s skills and c o m m i t m e n t paid off. Seventy-five days later, on J u n e 1 0 , t h e S e n a t e finally v o t e d for cloture with four votes to spare. A C a l ifornia senator, ravaged w i t h cancer, was w h e e l e d in to v o t e , w h i c h he could only do by pointing to his eye. A f t e r cloture ended t h e filibuster, t h e bill passed by a wide margin. On July 2, President J o h n s o n signed it. During all t h a t t i m e H u b e r t Humphrey broke only o n c e — o n t h e aft e r n o o n o f J u n e 1 7 , two days before t h e historic v o t e . S u m m o n e d from t h e S e n a t e floor to take an urgent c a l l from Muriel, he learned their son R o b e r t h a d b e e n diagnosed with a m a l i g n a n t growth in his throat and must h a v e i m m e d i a t e surgery. T h e r e in his office, H u b e r t H u m p h r e y wept. As his son struggled for his life and his own greatest legislative triu m p h was in sight, H u b e r t H u m p h r e y realized h o w i n t e r m i n g l e d are t h e triumphs and tragedies of life. W e talked a b o u t this t h e last t i m e I saw h i m , early i n t h e s u m m e r o f 1 9 7 6 . H e c a m e t o our h o m e o n L o n g Island where I interviewed h i m for public television. W e talked about m a n y things: about his father w h o set such h i g h standards for t h e boy he n a m e d H u b e r t H o r a t i o ; about his granddaughter C i n d y ( a little p i x i e , h e c a l l e d h e r ) ; about waking u p o n t h e m o r n i n g after h e had lost t o R i c h a r d N i x o n b y only 5 1 1 , 9 4 4 votes out of 73 m i l l i o n cast; about t h e tyrannies of working for Lyndon J o h n son (said H u m p h r e y o f J o h n s o n : " H e often reminded m e o f m y fatherin-law and t h e way he used to treat c h i l b l a i n s . G r a n d p a B u c k would get some c h i l b l a i n s and he said t h e best way to treat t h e m was put your feet first in c o l d water, t h e n in h o t water. A n d s o m e t i m e s [with L B J ] I'd feel

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51

myself in h o t water, t h e n I'd be over in cold water. I'd be t h e household h e r o for a week and t h e n I'd be in the doghouse"). W e talked about t h e necessity o f c o m p r o m i s e , t h e o b l i g a t i o n t o stand firm w h e n necessary against t h e odds, and t h e difficulty of m a k i n g t h e d i s t i n c t i o n . W e talked about t h e life-threatening illness h e had h i m self r e c e n t l y endured and what kept h i m going through t h e vicissitudes of life. G r o w i n g up on t h e great n o r t h e r n plains h a d made a difference, h e told m e :

I used to think as a boy that in the Milky Way each star was a little place, a sort of light for somebody who had died . . . I used to go pick up the milk—we didn't have milk delivery in those days— I'd go over to Dreyer's Dairy and pick up a gallon of milk. I can remember those cold, wintery nights and blue sky, and I'd look up and see that Milky Way and I'd think every time anybody died they got a star up there. A n d all the big stars were for the big people. You know, like Caesar or Lincoln. It was a childhood fantasy. But it was a comforting thing.

He was called t h e "Happy W a r r i o r " because he loved politics a n d because of his natural e b u l l i e n c e and resiliency. I asked h i m : " S o m e people say you're too happy and t h a t this is n o t a happy world." He answered:

Well, maybe I can make it a little more happy . . . I realize and sense the realities of the world in which we live. I'm not at all happy about what I see in the nuclear arms race . .. and the machinations of the Soviets or the Chinese . . . the misery that's in our cities. I'm aware of all that. But I do not believe that people will respond to do better if they are constantly approached by a negative attitude. People have to believe that they can do better. They've got to know that there's somebody that's with them that wants to help and work with them, and somebody that hasn't tossed in the towel. I don't believe in defeat, Bill.

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BILL MOYERS

He lost some e l e c t i o n s in his long career, but Hubert H u m p h r e y was n e v e r defeated. M o r e t h a n a n y o n e else in politics, he gave me to believe t h a t in time, j u s t i c e c o m e s — n o t because it is i n h e r e n t in t h e universe but because somewhere, at some place, s o m e o n e will m a k e a stand and do t h e right thing, turning t h e course of events. As H u b e r t Humphrey did.

My own recollections of Hubert Humphrey were rekindled by three books I highly recommend: Carl Solberg's Hubert Humphrey: A Biography; Robert Mann's The Walls of Jericho; and Humphrey's memoir, The Education of a Public Man. I am indebted to them and to my editorial associate Andie Tucher for contributions to this speech.

5.

|

REMEMBERING

Eulogy

for

William

Sloane

Coffin,

June

20,

A P R I L

BILL 1,

COFFIN

1924-April

12,

2006

2006

Two strokes had slurred his speech and robbed his legs of agility and his fingers of their feel for the piano. fin,

But the last time I saw William Sloane Cof-

he remained a hopeful man.

can arouse, troubled, gry

as always,

when

"Hope," he told me,

a passion for the possible"—even in he

by

tossed

"arouses as nothing else

the face

of death.

He

was

the state of America and was angry, as Jesus was an-

the

money

places make me really angry,"

changers from he said,

the

"because

temple.

"People

in

high

they are so callous.

When

you see uncaring people in high places, everybody should be mad as hell."

He

was,

in-

nonetheless,

dependent of the

more state

but despair,

and we

a

in

long life

Army, sity,

hope,

hopeful of the

than angry—"hope nation.

can't afford despair; reflection,

minister,

then

serving years

the

being a state

opposite it numbs

and public service.

three years with the CIA, a decade

The

historic

of hope

is

of mind

not pessimism

and paralyzes." A

captain

He

lived

the

U.S.

in

seventeen years as chaplain at Yale Riverside

of campaigning for

Church

nuclear

in New

disarmament.

Univer-

York as He

had

senior been

54

arrested

more

Freedom

Rider,

race.

often

than

opponent

|

any of the

BILL MOYERS

eighty-one-year-old Vietnam

I

War,

knew—as

protester

Grief had been so frequent a visitor that he finally

an old companion; cident,

borrowed from Hemingway

to remind us

become strong at the

broken places."

in Riverside Church to pay of faith and action,

civil

rights

the

arms

accepted sorrow as

his eulogy to his twenty-four-year-old son,

all helps us negotiate the inescapable:

a

against

hope

that above

"The world breaks everyone,

then some

A

of the one

killed in an ac-

host of friends and followers gathered

our final respects

to

this broken but strong man

lying now in a plain pine coffin,

wearing a red plaid shirt.

* * *

T h e r e are so m a n y of you in this vast congregation who should be up here instead of m e . You rode with B i l l Coffin through t h e D e e p S o u t h chasing J i m C r o w from barriers long imposed on freedom. You rose with Bill against t h e V i e t n a m War, were arrested with h i m , jailed with h i m , and at night in your cells j o i n e d in singing t h e Hallelujah Chorus with h i m . You rallied with h i m to protest t h e horrors of t h e b o m b . You sang with h i m , laughed with h i m , drank w i t h h i m , prayed with h i m , grieved with h i m , worshipped and wept with h i m . E v e n at this m o m e n t w h e n your hearts are breaking with loss, you must be comforted by t h e b a l m of those memories. I envy your lifelong membership in his beloved c o m m u nity, and I am h o n o r e d t h a t Randy, his wife, asked me to speak today about t h e Bill Coffin I knew. I saw little of h i m personally until late in his life. We m e t o n c e in the early ' 6 0 s w h e n he was an adviser to t h e P e a c e Corps, w h i c h 1 had helped to organize and run. He spoke to t h e staff, inspired us to t h i n k of what we were doing as t h e moral equivalent of war, and told us t h e story of h o w as a young captain in t h e infantry, following military orders at t h e end o f W o r l d W a r II, h e had b e e n charged with sending b a c k t o t h e S o viet U n i o n thousands of Russian refugees made prisoners by t h e G e r mans. S o m e o f t h e m h e had deceived into boarding trains for h o m e t h a t carried t h e m to sure d e a t h at t h e hands of S t a l i n . T h a t burden of guilt

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sat heavily on Bill's h e a r t for t h e rest of his life. He wrote about it in his autobiography, and raised it forty years later w h e n we m e t in t h e waiting r o o m of t h e television studio where I was about to interview h i m . T h a t ' s t h e m o m e n t we bonded, two old m e n by now, sharing our grief t h a t b o t h in different ways had o n c e confused duty with loyalty, and confessing to e a c h o t h e r our gratitude t h a t we h a d lived long enough to a t o n e — somewhat. " W e l l , " said Bill, "we needed a lot of time. We had a lot to a t o n e for." I had called h i m for t h e interview after mutual friends had told me t h a t his doctors had said his t i m e was now running out. W h e n he c a m e down from V e r m o n t to t h e studio h e r e in N e w York, I greeted h i m with t h e question, " H o w you doing?" He threw b a c k his head, his eyes flashed, and with t h a t slurred but still-vibrant v o i c e , he answered, " W e l l , I am praying t h e prayer of S t . Augustine: G i v e me chastity and selfrestraint . . . but n o t yet." He taught us h o w to be a C h r i s t i a n . His witness taught us—he preached what he practiced. His writings taught us, t o o — O n c e to Every Man, Living the Truth in a World of Illusion, The Heart Is a Little to the Left, Credo, Letters to a Young Doubter, and of course t h a t unforgettable eulogy to his drowned son, A l e x , w h e n he called on us to "improve t h e quality of our suffering." During my interview with h i m I asked h i m h o w he had summoned t h e strength for so powerful a message of suffering and love. He said, " W e l l , we all do what we k n o w h o w to do. I went right away to t h e piano. A n d I played all t h e h y m n s . A n d I wept and I wept, and I read t h e poems, like A. E. Housem a n — ' T o an A t h l e t e Dying Young.' T h e n I realized t h e folks in R i v e r side C h u r c h had to k n o w w h e t h e r or n o t they still h a d a pastor. So I wrote t h e sermon. I wanted t h e m to know." T h e y knew, B i l l , they knew. T h i s may surprise some of you. N o t t o o long ago B i l l told Terry Gross t h a t he would rather n o t be k n o w n as a social activist. T h e happiest m o m e n t s of his life, he said, were less in social activism t h a n in t h e i n t i m a t e settings of t h e pastor's c a l l i n g — " t h e m o m e n t s w h e n you're do-

56

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BILL MOYERS

ing marriage counseling . . . o r baptizing a baby . . . o r a c c o m p a n y i n g people w h o h a v e suffered l o s s — t h e m o m e n t s w h e n people tend to be most h u m a n , w h e n they are most vulnerable." S o h e had t h e pastor's h e a r t but h e e d e d t h e prophet's calling. T h e r e burned in his soul a sacred r a g e — t h a t v o l a t i l e m i x of grief a n d anger and love t h a t produced what his friend, t h e artist and writer R o b e r t S h e t terly, described as "a holy flame." If you lessen your anger at t h e structures of power, he said, you lower your love for t h e v i c t i m s of power. I o n c e heard Lyndon J o h n s o n urge M a r t i n L u t h e r K i n g to h o l d off o n his m a r c h i n g i n t h e S o u t h t o give t h e president t i m e t o neutralize t h e old guard in C o n g r e s s and c r e a t e a consensus for finally ending institutionalized racism i n A m e r i c a . M a r t i n L u t h e r K i n g listened, and t h e n h e answered (I paraphrase): "Mr. President, t h e gods of t h e S o u t h will n e v e r be appeased. T h e y will n e v e r h a v e a c h a n g e of heart. T h e y will n e v e r repent o f their sins and c o m e t o t h e altar seeking forgiveness. T h e t i m e has passed for consensus, t h e t i m e has c o m e to break t h e grip of history a n d c h a n g e t h e course o f A m e r i c a . " W h e n t h e discussion was o v e r Dr. K i n g had carried the day. T h e president said, "Dr. K i n g , you go on out t h e r e n o w a n d m a k e it possible for me to do t h e right thing." Lyndon J o h n s o n h a d seen t h e light. For h i m t o d o t h e right t h i n g s o m e o n e had to subpoena A m e r i c a ' s c o n s c i e n c e and send it m a r c h i n g from t h e ground up against t h e citadels of power and privilege. L i k e M a r t i n L u t h e r K i n g , B i l l Coffin k n e w t h e h e a r t of power is hard, k n e w it arranged t h e rules for its o w n advantage, k n e w t h a t before j u s t i c e could roll down like water and righteousness like a flowing river, t h e dam of oppression, d e c e p t i o n , and corruption h a d first to be broken, c r a c k e d o p e n by t h e moral power of people demanding t h e right t h i n g be d o n e . " I n times of oppression," he said, " i f you don't translate c h o i c e s o f faith i n t o p o l i t i c a l c h o i c e s , you run t h e danger o f washing your hands, like P i l a t e . " So he a i m e d his i n d i g n a t i o n at root causes. " M a n y of us are eager to respond to injustice," he said, "without h a v i n g to c o n f r o n t t h e causes of i t . . . and that's why so m a n y business and g o v e r n m e n t a l leaders today

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are promoting charity. First these leaders proclaim themselves experts on matters e c o n o m i c , and prove it by taking t h e most out of t h e economy. T h e n they p r o m o t e charity as if it were t h e work of t h e c h u r c h , finally telling troubled clergy to shut up and bless t h e e c o n o m y as o n c e we blessed t h e battleship." W h e n he c a m e down from V e r m o n t two years ago for that interview, we talked about h o w democracy had r e a c h e d a fork in t h e road. T a k e o n e fork and t h e road leads to an A m e r i c a where military power serves empire rather t h a n freedom; where we lose from w i t h i n what we are trying to defend from without; where fundamentalism and t h e state s c h e m e to write t h e rules and regulations; where true believers in t h e gods of t h e market turn the law of t h e jungle into the law of t h e land; where in t h e n a m e of patriotism we keep our h a n d over our heart pledging allegiance to t h e flag while our leaders pick our pockets and plunder our trust; where elites insulate themselves from t h e c o n s e q u e n c e s of their o w n actions. T a k e t h e other fork and t h e road leads to t h e A m e r i c a whose promise o f "life, liberty, and t h e pursuit o f happiness" includes everyone. B i l l Coffin spent his life pointing us down t h a t road in that direction. T h e r e is nothing Utopian about it, Bill said; h e was an idealist but h e was not an ideologue. He said in our interview t h a t we have to k e e p pressing t h e socialist questions because they are t h e questions of justice, but we should be dubious about t h e socialist answers because while A m o s may call for justice to roll down as waters, figuring out the irrigation system is d a m n e d hard! He believed in democracy. T h e r e is no simpler way to put it. He b e lieved democracy was t h e only way to assure that t h e rewards of a free society would be shared with everyone, and n o t just t h e elites in charge. T h a t last t i m e we talked he told me h o w m u c h he had liked t h e story he h a d heard Joseph C a m p b e l l tell me in our series The Power of Myth—the story of t h e fellow who turns t h e corner and sees a brawl in t h e middle of t h e b l o c k . He runs right for it, shouting: "Is this a private fight, or c a n anyone get in it?"

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BILL MOYERS

For B i l l , d e m o c r a c y was everyone's fight. H e ' d be in t h e middle of t h e fork-in-the-road a c t i o n . A n d his message would be t h e same today as t h e n : S i g n up, j u m p in, fight on. S o m e o n e sidled up to me t h e o t h e r n i g h t at a n o t h e r gathering where Bill's d e a t h was discussed. T h i s person said, " H e was no saint, you know." I wanted to answer: "You're kidding?" We knew. S a i n t s flourish in a m y t h i c world. B i l l Coffin flourished h e r e , in t h e c r a c k e d c o m m o n clay of an earthly and earthy life. He liked it h e r e . E v e n as he was trying to c o o p e r a t e gracefully with t h e inevitability of death, he was also c o a c h i n g Paul N e w m a n t o play t h e preacher i n t h e f i l m version o f M a r ilynne R o b i n s o n ' s n o v e l Gilead. He enjoyed n o t h i n g m o r e t h a n wine and song a t his h o m e w i t h R a n d y a n d friends. A n d h e n e v e r lost his c o n v i c t i o n that a b e t t e r world is possible if we fight hard enough. At a dinn e r in his h o n o r in W a s h i n g t o n he h a d reminded us t h a t "the world is t o o dangerous for anything but truth and t o o small for anything but love." B u t as we left he winked at me and said, " G i v e ' e m h e l l . " F a i t h , he o n c e said, "is being seized by love." Seized he was, by what he c a l l e d "everlasting arms." "You know," he told m e , "I lost a son. A n d people will say, ' W e l l , w h e n you die, A l e x will c o m e forth and bring you through t h e pearly gates.' T h a t ' s a n i c e thought, and I w e l c o m e it. B u t I don't n e e d t o b e l i e v e that. A l l I n e e d t o k n o w is, G o d will b e there. A n d our lives go from G o d , in G o d , to G o d again. Hallelujah, you know? T h a t should b e e n o u g h . " He's there n o w — i n those everlasting arms. B u t we are still h e r e . I h e a r his v o i c e in my heart: " D o n ' t tarry long in mourning. Organize."

6.

|

THE M E A N I N G OF F R E E D O M E x c e r p t from

the

United

Sol

States

Veinstone

Lecture

Military

Academy

NOVEMBER

The invitation was short and simple: I

write

Academy

to inform you has

approved

that

the

15,

the

2006

"It is with a great deal of pleasure that

Superintendent of the

the recommendation of the

vite you as our speaker for the

at

United States Military

selection

Sol Feinstone Lecture."

committee

to

in-

The details followed,

but I could hardly get beyond the first sentence.

The committee had to have

known of my opposition to the invasion of Iraq,

in no small part because 1

had served

in

the

White

of the war in Vietnam, the same mistakes.

House

during President

Lyndon Johnson's

What would I say

to young men and women who within

a year could be dying in another unnecessary war because ers

misled

Honor,

the

Country

country!

These

and were

now

cadets

had

being asked

committed to fulfill

war they should never have been asked to fight. accept or decline,

escalation

and 1 saw the Bush administration repeating many of their civilian lead-

themselves those

to

Duty,

obligations

in a

As I weighed the decision to

I fastened on the title of the lecture series: The Meaning of

60

Freedom.

The annual event dated back

Herman Will,

Wouk,

Sidney

Milton

bright,

Hook,

Friedman,

Doris Kearns "The

Isaac

Elie

was

born

to

of a

Torah scribe,

everything,

an

at

a

including permission

rubles

to

obtain passports,

gally.

When he was fourteen,

load of hay

and included,

A.

Singer,

Bartlett Gould,

Carl

among others, Sagan,

Giamatti, and H.

George

Madeleine Ross

Al-

Perot. Just

to want such an array of speakers in his name? And Researching his

impoverished family to

when

leave

most

life

in Lithuania,

time

the the

proved

instructive.

He

then part

of Poland,

the

czarist government country.

impoverished emigrants

Without had

controlled

standing

to get out

or ille-

Sol Feinstone hid in a peasant's cart under a

to reach a barn where

men trying to escape

1971

Stephen Jay

Meaning of Freedom?"

son

to

Bashevis

Wiesel,

Goodwin,

who was Sol Feinstone, why

BILL MOYERS

|

the czar's army,

thirty-five

other emigrants,

were hiding.

mostly

young

They made it across the

German border to Antwerp where Sol boarded a ship for America with a $40 ticket paid for by his brother and sister who were already in New York, ing in a sweatshop.

Young Sol wound up making sleeves for coats,

work-

earning $6

a week and taking $2 from each paycheck to pay off the money he owed his siblings.

With

school for forestry, made

no

went

on

his fortune

he found American

elementary

fifteen

in

or was

the

University

to

he

Syracuse

University

to

of Pennsylvania for

chemistry,

and

at

in real estate and construction.

the

new

Revolution to me,

education

accepted

and

country

that

set

libraries

up

Feinstone Collection at the academy. history;

high-school

months,

a reminder

that

he

He so cherished the

collected to

attended

house

original them,

documents including

night study then liberty of the

the

Sol

To the cadets he had given a legacy of the

meaning of freedom is

what you make

of it.

* * *

As I prepared for this o c c a s i o n , I c o n s t a n t l y reminded myself t h a t many of you will be heading for Iraq. I h a v e n e v e r b e e n a soldier myself, n e v e r b e e n tested under fire, n e v e r faced hard c h o i c e s b e t w e e n duty and c o n s c i e n c e under deadly c i r c u m s t a n c e s . I will n e v e r know if I h a v e t h e courage to be shot at, or to s h o o t back, or t h e discipline to do my duty k n o w i n g t h e people who dispatched me to k i l l — o r be k i l l e d — h a d no idea of t h e moral abyss into w h i c h they were plunging m e .

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I h a v e tried to learn about war from those w h o k n o w it best: veterans, t h e real experts. B u t they h a v e b e e n such reluctant reporters of t h e e x p e r i e n c e . My father-in-law, J o e Davidson, was thirty-seven years old with two young daughters w h e n war c a m e in 1 9 4 1 ; he enlisted and served in t h e Pacific but I n e v e r succeeded in getting h i m to describe what it was like to be in harm's way. My u n c l e c a m e h o m e from t h e Pacific after his ship had b e e n sunk, taking m a n y friends down with it, and w h e n I asked h i m about the e x p e r i e n c e he would l o o k away and c h a n g e t h e subject. O n e of my dearest friends, w h o died this year at ninety, returned from c o m b a t in Europe as if he had t a k e n a vow of silence about t h e terrifying things t h a t c a m e h o m e with h i m , uninvited. Curious about this, some years ago I produced a documentary called From D-Day to the Rhine. W i t h a c a m e r a crew I a c c o m p a n i e d several veterans of W o r l d W a r II who for t h e first t i m e were returning together to t h e path of c o m b a t t h a t carried t h e m from t h e landing at N o r m a n d y in 1 9 4 4 i n t o t h e heart o f G e r m a n y . M e m b e r s o f t h e i r families were along this time—wives, grown sons and daughters—and they told me t h a t until now, on this trip, forty-five years after D-Day, their husbands and fathers rarely talked about their c o m b a t experiences. T h e y had c o m e h o m e , l o c k e d their memories in their mind's attic, and h u n g a PASSING

NO TRES-

sign o n it. E v e n as they retraced their steps almost h a l f a c e n -

tury later, I would find these aging G I s , standing alone and silent on t h e very spot where a buddy had b e e n killed, or they themselves had killed, or where they had b e e n t a k e n prisoner, a G e r m a n soldier standing over t h e m with a Mauser pointed right b e t w e e n their eyes, saying, "For you, t h e war is over." As they tried to tell t h e story, t h e words c h o k e d in their throats. T h e s t e n c h , t h e vomit, the blood, t h e fear: W h a t outsider— journalist or k i n — c o u l d imagine t h e demons still at war in their heads? W h a t I r e m e m b e r most vividly from t h a t trip is t h e opening s c e n e of t h e film: J o s e L o p e z — t h e father of two, who h a d lied about his age to get into t h e army ( h e was t o o o l d ) — w e n t ashore at Normandy, fought his way across F r a n c e and B e l g i u m with a water-cooled m a c h i n e gun, rose t o t h e rank o f sergeant, and received t h e Congressional M e d a l o f H o n o r after single-handedly killing o n e hundred G e r m a n troops in t h e

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B a t t l e o f t h e Bulge. J o s e Lopez, b a c k o n O m a h a B e a c h a t age seventyn i n e , quietly saying to m e , "I was really very, very afraid. T h a t I want to scream. I want to cry and we see o t h e r people was laying wounded and screaming and everything and it's n o t h i n g you could do. We could see t h e m groaning in t h e water and we keep walking"—and t h e n , m o v i n g away from t h e c a m e r a , dropping to his knees, his hands clasped, his eyes wet, as it all c a m e back, memories so excruciating there were no words for t h e m . O v e r t h e years I've turned to t h e poets for h e l p in understanding t h e realities of war; it is from the poets we outsiders most often learn what you soldiers e x p e r i e n c e . I admired your former superintendent G e n e r a l W i l l i a m L e n n o x , who h e l d a doctorate in literature and taught poetry classes h e r e because, he said, "poetry is a great v e h i c l e to t e a c h cadets as m u c h as a n y o n e c a n what c o m b a t is like." So it is. From t h e opening lines of t h e Iliad

Rage, Goddess, sing the rage of Peleus' Son Achilles .

.

. hurling down to the House of Death

so many souls, great fighters' souls, but made their bodies carrion for the dogs and birds . . .

to Wilfred Owen's pained cry from t h e t r e n c h e s of F r a n c e

I am the enemy you killed, my friend . . .

t o W . D . Ehrhart's s t a c c a t o r e c i t a t i o n o f t h e

Barely

tolerable conglomeration of mud,

dirt, rain, pain, fear .

.

heat,

sweat,

. we march grinding under the

weight of heavy packs, feet dialed to the ground . . . we wonder . . .

poets with their empathy and e v o c a t i o n o p e n to bystanders what lies buried in t h e soldier's soul. T h o s e of you soon to be leading others in

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c o m b a t may wish to take a m e t a p h o r i c a l detour to t h e Hindenburg L i n e of W o r l d W a r I, where t h e officer and poet Wilfred O w e n , a m a n of e x traordinary courage w h o was killed a week before t h e armistice, wrote: "I c a m e out in order to h e l p these boys—directly by leading t h e m as well as an officer c a n ; indirectly, by watching their sufferings t h a t I may speak of t h e m as well as a pleader c a n . " People in power should be required to take classes in t h e poetry of war. As a W h i t e House assistant during t h e early e s c a l a t i o n of t h e war in V i e t n a m , I r e m e m b e r h o w t h e president b l a n c h e d w h e n t h e c h a i r m a n o f t h e J o i n t C h i e f s o f S t a f f said i t would take o n e m i l l i o n fighting m e n and t e n years to w i n in V i e t n a m , but e v e n t h e n t h e talk of war was about policy, strategy, numbers, and budgets, n o t severed limbs and eviscerated bodies. T h a t e x p e r i e n c e , and t h e e x p e r i e n c e forty years later o f w a t c h i n g a n o t h e r W h i t e House go to war, also relying on inadequate i n t e l l i g e n c e , exaggerated claims, and premature judgments, keeping Congress in t h e dark while wooing a gullible press, c h e e r e d on by partisans, pundits, and editorial writers safely divorced from realities on t h e ground, ended any t o l e r a n c e I m i g h t h a v e had for those w h o a d v o c a t e war from t h e loftiness of t h e pulpit, t h e safety of a laptop, t h e comfort of a t h i n k t a n k , or t h e glamour of a television studio. H o w often we h e a r t h e most vigorous argument for war from those w h o c o u n t on others of valor to fight it. As G e n e r a l W i l l i a m T e c u m s e h S h e r m a n said after t h e C i v i l W a r : "It is only those w h o h a v e n e i t h e r fired a shot n o r heard t h e shrieks and groans of t h e wounded w h o cry aloud for blood, more v e n g e a n c e , more desolation." Rupert M u r d o c h c o m e s to m i n d — o n l y because he was in t h e news last week talking about Iraq. In t h e m o n t h s leading up to t h e i n v a s i o n M u r d o c h turned t h e dogs of war loose in t h e corridors of his media e m pire, and t h e y howled for blood, although n o t their own. M u r d o c h h i m self said, just weeks before t h e invasion, t h a t t h e "greatest t h i n g to c o m e of this to t h e world e c o n o m y , if you could put it t h a t way [as you c a n , if you are a media mogul], would be $ 2 0 a barrel for oil." O n c e t h e war is

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b e h i n d us, R u p e r t M u r d o c h said, " T h e whole world will benefit from c h e a p e r oil, w h i c h will be a bigger stimulus t h a n anything else." Today M u r d o c h says he has no regrets, t h a t he still believes it was right "to go in t h e r e , " and t h a t "from a historical perspective" t h e U . S . death toll in Iraq was "minute." "Minute." T h e word r i c o c h e t e d in my h e a d . I had just b e e n reading about Emily Perez. Your Emily Perez: S e c o n d L i e u t e n a n t Perez, t h e first w o m a n of c o l o r to b e c o m e a c o m m a n d sergeant major in t h e history of t h e academy, and t h e first w o m a n graduate to die in Iraq. I had b e e n in W a s h i n g t o n w h e n word of h e r death made t h e news, and because she had lived there before c o m i n g to W e s t P o i n t , t h e W a s h i n g t o n press told us a lot about her. People remembered h e r as "a little superwoman"—straight A s , c h o i r member, charismatic, optimistic, a friend to so many; she had j o i n e d t h e medical service because she wanted to help people. T h e obituary in The Washington Post said she had b e e n a ball of fire at t h e P e a c e Baptist C h u r c h , where she helped start an H I V / A I D S ministry after some o f h e r own family members c o n t r a c t e d t h e virus. A c c o u n t s o f h e r funeral h e r e at W e s t P o i n t reported t h a t some of you wept as you c o n templated t h e loss of so vibrant an officer. " M i n u t e ? " I don't t h i n k so. Historical perspective or n o . So w h e n I arrived today I asked t h e academy's historian, S t e v e G r o v e , to t a k e me to where Emily Perez is buried, in S e c t i o n 36 of your cemetery, below S t o r m K i n g M o u n t a i n , overlooking t h e Hudson River. S t a n d i n g there, on sacred A m e r i c a n soil hallowed all t h e m o r e by t h e likes of L i e u t e n a n t Perez. I thought t h a t to describe their loss as " m i n u t e " — e v e n from a historical perspective—is to underscore t h e great divide that has opened in A m e r i c a b e t w e e n those w h o advocate war while avoiding it and those who h a v e t h e courage to fight it without ever knowing what it's all about. We were warned of this by our founders. T h e y had put themselves in jeopardy by signing the D e c l a r a t i o n of I n d e p e n d e n c e ; if they had lost, t h a t p a r c h m e n t could h a v e b e e n their death warrant, for they were traitors to t h e C r o w n a n d likely to be hanged. In t h e fight for freedom they

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had put themselves on t h e l i n e — n o t just their fortunes and sacred h o n o r but t h e i r very persons, t h e i r lives. A f t e r t h e war, forming a gove r n m e n t and understanding b o t h t h e nature o f war and h u m a n nature, they d e t e r m i n e d to m a k e it hard to go to war e x c e p t to defend freedom; war for reasons save preserving t h e lives and liberty of your citizens should be made difficult to a c h i e v e , they argued. H e r e is J o h n Jay's passage in Federalist N o . 4:

It is too true, however disgraceful it may be to human nature, that nations in general will make war whenever they have a prospect of getting anything by it; nay, absolute monarchs will often make war when their nations are to get nothing by it, but for the purposes and objects merely personal, such as thirst for military glory, revenge for personal affronts, ambition, or private compacts to aggrandize or support their particular families or partisans. These and a variety of other motives, which affect only the mind of the sovereign, often lead him to engage in wars not sanctified by justice or the voice and interests of his people.

A n d here, a few years later, is J a m e s Madison, perhaps t h e most delibetative m i n d o f t h a t g e n e r a t i o n i n assaying t h e dangers o f a n unfettered e x e c u t i v e prone to war:

In war, a physical force is to be created; and it is the executive will, which is to direct it. In war, the public treasures are to be unlocked; and it is the executive hand, which is to dispense them. In war, the honours and emoluments of office are to be multiplied; and it is the executive patronage under which they are to be enjoyed. It is in war, finally, that laurels are to be gathered; and it is the executive brow they are to encircle. T h e strongest passions and most dangerous weaknesses of the human breast; ambition, avarice, vanity, the honourable or venial love of fame, are all in conspiracy against the desire and duty of peace.

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I w a n t to be c l e a r on this: V i e t n a m did n o t m a k e me a dove. N o r has Iraq; I am no pacifist. B u t t h e y h a v e m a d e me study t h e C o n s t i t u t i o n more rigorously, b o t h as journalist and citizen. A g a i n , J a m e s M a d i s o n :

In no part of the Constitution is more wisdom to be found, than in the clause which confides the question of war and peace to the legislature, and not to the executive department. Beside the objection to such a mixture to heterogeneous powers, the trust and the temptation would be too great for any one man . . .

T w i c e in forty years we h a v e n o w g o n e to war paying only lip service to t h o s e warnings; t h e first war we lost, t h e s e c o n d is a bloody d e b a c l e , and b o t h rank a m o n g t h e great blunders in our history. It is impossible for soldiers to sustain in t h e field what c a n n o t be justified in t h e C o n s t i tution; asking t h e m to do so puts A m e r i c a at war with itself. So w h e n t h e v i c e president o f t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s says i t doesn't m a t t e r what t h e people t h i n k , he and t h e president i n t e n d to prosecute t h e war anyway, he is c o m m i t t i n g heresy against t h e fundamental tenets of t h e A m e r i c a n p o l i t i c a l order. T h i s is a tough subject to address w h e n so m a n y of you may be heading for Iraq. I would prefer to speak of sweeter things. B u t I also k n o w t h a t twenty or thirty years from n o w any o n e of you may be t h e c h i e f of staff or t h e n a t i o n a l security adviser or e v e n t h e president—after all, two of your boys, G r a n t and Eisenhower, did m a k e it from W e s t P o i n t to t h e W h i t e House. A n d t h a t b e i n g t h e case, it's m o r e important t h a n ever t h a t citizens and soldiers—and citizen-soldiers—honestly discuss and frankly consider t h e k i n d of c o u n t r y you are serving and t h e k i n d of organization to w h i c h you are dedicating your lives. You are, after all, t h e heirs of an army b o r n in t h e A m e r i c a n R e v o l u t i o n , whose radicalism we c o n s i s t e n t l y underestimate.

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No o n e understood this radicalism, no o n e in uniform did m o r e to h e l p us define freedom in a profoundly A m e r i c a n way t h a n t h e m a n whose m o n u m e n t here at W e s t P o i n t I also visited today—Thadeusz K o s ciuszko. I first b e c a m e intrigued by h i m m o r e t h a n forty years ago w h e n I arrived in W a s h i n g t o n . Lafayette Park, on P e n n s y l v a n i a A v e n u e , across from t h e W h i t e House, hosts several statues of military heroes w h o c a m e to fight for our i n d e p e n d e n c e in t h e A m e r i c a n R e v o l u t i o n . For seven years, e i t h e r looking down on these figures from my office at t h e P e a c e Corps or walking across Lafayette Park to my office in t h e W h i t e House, I was reminded of these m e n w h o c a m e voluntarily to fight for A m e r i c a n i n d e p e n d e n c e from t h e monarchy. T h e most c o m pelling, for m e , was t h e d e p i c t i o n o f Kosciuszko. O n o n e side o f t h e statue he is directing a soldier b a c k to t h e battlefield, and on t h e o t h e r side, wearing an A m e r i c a n uniform, he is freeing a b o u n d soldier, representing A m e r i c a ' s revolutionaries. Kosciuszko h a d b e e n b o r n i n t h e P o l i s h - L i t h u a n i a n C o m m o n wealth, where he was trained as an e n g i n e e r and artillery officer. A r r i v ing in t h e t h i r t e e n c o l o n i e s in 1 7 7 6 , he broke down in tears w h e n he read t h e D e c l a r a t i o n o f I n d e p e n d e n c e . T h e n e x t year, h e helped engin e e r t h e B a t t l e of Saratoga, organizing t h e river and land fortifications t h a t put A m e r i c a n s i n t h e stronger position. G e o r g e W a s h i n g t o n t h e n c o m m i s s i o n e d h i m to build t h e original fortifications for W e s t P o i n t . S i n c e his m o n u m e n t d o m i n a t e s t h e p o i n t h e r e a t t h e academy, this part of t h e story you must k n o w well. B u t what many don't realize about Kosciuszko is t h e depth of his c o m m i t m e n t t o republican ideals and h u m a n equality. O n e historian called h i m " a mystical visionary o f h u m a n rights." T h o m a s Jefferson wrote t h a t Kosciuszko was "as pure a son of liberty as I h a v e ever k n o w n . " T h a t phrase of Jefferson's is often quoted, but if you read t h e a c tual letter, Jefferson goes on to say: " A n d of t h a t liberty w h i c h is to go to all, and n o t to t h e few and t h e rich a l o n e . " T h e r e is t h e clue to t h e m e a n i n g of freedom as Thadeusz Kosciuszko saw it.

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After t h e A m e r i c a n R e v o l u t i o n , h e returned t o his h o m e l a n d , w h a t was t h e n t h e P o l i s h - L i t h u a n i a n C o m m o n w e a l t h . I n 1 7 9 1 t h e Poles adopted their celebrated M a y C o n s t i t u t i o n — E u r o p e ' s first codified n a t i o n a l c o n s t i t u t i o n ( a n d t h e s e c o n d oldest in t h e world, after our o w n ) . T h e M a y C o n s t i t u t i o n established political equality b e t w e e n t h e middle class and t h e nobility and also partially abolished serfdom by giving civil rights to t h e peasants, including t h e right to state p r o t e c t i o n from landlord abuses. T h e autocrats a n d n o b l e s o f Russia feared such reforms, and in 1 7 9 4 , w h e n t h e Russians sought to p r e v e n t their spread by partitioning t h e C o m m o n w e a l t h , Kosciuszko led an insurrection. His untrained peasant forces were armed mostly with single-blade sickles, but they w o n several early battles in fierce h a n d - t o - h a n d fighting, until they were finally overwhelmed. Badly injured, Kosciuszko was t a k e n prisoner and held for two years in S t . Petersburg, and that was t h e e n d of t h e PolishL i t h u a n i a n C o m m o n w e a l t h , w h i c h h a d stood, by t h e way, as o n e of Europe's leading centers of religious liberty. U p o n his release from prison, Kosciuszko c a m e b a c k to t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s and began a lasting friendship with Jefferson, w h o called h i m his "most i n t i m a t e and beloved friend." In 1 7 9 8 , he wrote a will leaving his A m e r i c a n estate to Jefferson, urging h i m to use it to purchase t h e freed o m and e d u c a t i o n of Jefferson's o w n slaves, or, as Jefferson interpreted it, of "as many of t h e children of bondage in this country as it should be adequate t o . " For this emigre, as for so many who would c o m e later, t h e m e a n i n g of freedom included a passion for universal j u s t i c e . In his " A c t of Insurrection" at t h e outset of t h e 1 7 9 4 uprising, Kosciuszko wrote of t h e people's "sacred rights to liberty, personal security, and property." N o t e t h e t e r m "property" here. F o r Jefferson's "pursuit of happiness" Kosciuszko substituted Locke's n o t i o n of property rights. B u t it's n o t what you think: t h e goal was n o t simply to protect "private property" from public interference (as it is taught today), but rather to secure productive property for all as a right to citizenship. It's easy to forget t h e difference w h e n huge agglomerations of personal wealth are defended as a sacred right of liberty, as they are today with t h e gap b e t w e e n t h e rich and poor in A m e r i c a greater t h a n it's b e e n in almost o n e hundred years.

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K o s c i u s z k o — G e n e r a l Kosciuszko, from tip to toe a military m a n — w a s talking about investing t h e people with productive resources. Yes, freed o m had to be w o n on t h e battlefield, but if freedom did n o t lead to political, social, and e c o n o m i c opportunity for all citizens, freedom's m e a n i n g could n o t be truly realized. T h i n k about it: a Polish general from t h e O l d W o r l d , infusing t h e n e w n a t i o n with what would b e c o m e t h e marrow o f t h e A m e r i c a n dream. S m a l l wonder t h a t Kosciuszko was often called a "hero of two worlds" or t h a t just twenty-five years ago, in 1 9 8 1 , w h e n Polish farmers, supported b y t h e R o m a n C a t h o l i c C h u r c h , w o n t h e right t o form a n ind e p e n d e n t union, sending s h o c k waves across t h e C o m m u n i s t empire, Kosciuszko's n a m e was heard in t h e victory s p e e c h e s — h i s egalitarian soul present at yet a n o t h e r revolution for h u m a n freedom and equal rights. After Jefferson won t h e presidency in 1 8 0 0 , Kosciuszko wrote h i m a t o u c h i n g letter advising h i m to be true to his principles: "do n o t forget in your post be always a virtuous R e p u b l i c a n with justice and probity, without pomp and a m b i t i o n — i n a word be Jefferson and my friend." T w o years later, Jefferson signed into being this professional officers s c h o o l , on t h e site first laid out as a fortress by his friend, t h e general from P o l a n d . Every turn in A m e r i c a n history confronts us with paradox, and this o n e is no e x c e p t i o n . H e r e was Jefferson, k n o w n for his vigorous and e l o q u e n t opposition to professional armies, presiding over t h e establishm e n t of W e s t P o i n t . It's a paradox t h a t you will understand, because you yourselves represent a paradox of liberty. You are free m e n and w o m e n w h o of your own free c h o i c e h a v e j o i n e d an institution dedicated to prot e c t i n g a free n a t i o n , but in t h e process you h a v e voluntarily agreed to give up, for a specific t i m e , a part of your own liberty. An army is n o t a debating society and n e i t h e r in t h e field nor in headquarters does it ask for a show of hands on w h e t h e r orders should be obeyed. T h a t is undoubtedly a necessary idea, but for you it c o m p l i c a t e s t h e already tricky question o f "the m e a n i n g o f freedom." I said earlier t h a t our founders did n o t want t h e power of war to re-

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side in a single m a n . M a n y were also dubious about h a v i n g any k i n d of regular, or as t h e y called it "standing," army at all. S t a n d i n g armies were hired supporters o f absolute m o n a r c h s and imperial tyrants. T h e m e n drafting t h e C o n s t i t u t i o n were steeped in classical and historical learning. T h e y recalled h o w C a e s a r i n a n c i e n t times and O l i v e r C r o m w e l l later h a d used t h e c o n q u e r i n g armies t h e y h a d led to m a k e t h e m s e l v e s dictators. T h e y k n e w h o w t h e R o m a n legions h a d made and unmade emperors, and h o w O t t o m a n rulers of t h e Turkish Empire had supported t h e i r tyrannies o n t h e shoulders o f formidable e l i t e warriors. W h e r e v e r they looked in history, they saw an a l l i a n c e b e t w e e n e n e m i e s of freedom in palaces a n d in officer corps drawn from t h e ranks of nobility, b o u n d by a warrior c o d e t h a t stressed h o n o r and bravery—but also d e d i c a t i o n to t h e sovereign and t h e sovereign's god, and distrust a m o u n t i n g to c o n tempt for t h e ordinary run of t h e sovereign's subjects. T h e c o l o n i a l e x p e r i e n c e with British regulars—first as allies in t h e F r e n c h and I n d i a n W a r s , and t h e n as e n e m i e s — d i d n o t increase A m e r i c a n respect for t h e old system of military leadership. Officers were c h o sen and promoted o n t h e basis o f aristocratic c o n n e c t i o n s , commissions were bought, and ineptitude was t o o often tolerated. T h e lower ranks were often rootless a l u m n i of jails a n d workhouses, lured or c o e r c e d i n t o service by t h e paltry pay and c h a n c e of adventure—brutally hard types, kept in line by brutally harsh discipline. N o t e x a c t l y your model for t h e army of a republic of free citizens. W h a t the framers c a m e up with was a n o t h e r novelty. T h e first battles of t h e R e v o l u t i o n were fought mainly by v o l u n t e e r m i l i t i a from t h e states, such as V e r m o n t ' s G r e e n M o u n t a i n Boys, t h e most famous militia of t h e t i m e . T h e y were gung ho for revolution and flushed w i t h a fighting spirit. B u t in t h e e n d they were no substitute for t h e bettertrained regiments of t h e C o n t i n e n t a l line and t h e F r e n c h regulars sent over b y France's king after t h e a l l i a n c e o f 1 7 7 8 . T h e view n o n e t h e l e s s persisted t h a t in t i m e s of p e a c e , o n l y a small p e r m a n e n t army would be n e e d e d to repel invasions—unlikely e x c e p t from C a n a d a — a n d deal with t h e frontier Indians. W h e n and if a real crisis c a m e , it was believed,

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volunteers would flock to t h e colors like t h e armed m e n of G r e e k mythology w h o sprang from dragon's t e e t h planted in t h e ground by a divinely approved h e r o . T h e real safety of t h e n a t i o n in any hour of crisis would rest with m e n who spent most of their working lives b e h i n d t h e plow or in t h e workshop. A n d this was long before t h e huge conscript armies of t h e n i n e t e e n t h and t w e n t i e t h centuries made t h a t a c o m m o n place fact. W h o would b e i n t h e top c o m m a n d o f b o t h t h a t regular force and of volunteer forces w h e n actually called into federal service? N o n e o t h e r t h a n t h e top e l e c t e d civil official of t h e government, t h e president. T h i n k a b o u t t h a t for a m o m e n t . T h e professional army fought hard and long to c r e a t e a system of selecting and keeping officers on t h e basis of proven c o m p e t e n c e , n o t popularity. B u t t h e highest c o m m a n d e r o f all served strictly at t h e pleasure of t h e people and had to submit his c o n tract for renewal every four years. A n d w h a t of t h e need for trained and expert leadership at all t h e levels of c o m m a n d w h i c h quickly b e c a m e apparent as t h e tools and t a c tics of warfare grew more sophisticated in a modernizing world? T h a t ' s where W e s t P o i n t c a m e in, filling a n e e d that could no longer be ignored. B u t what a special military academy it was! We t e n d to forget t h a t t h e W e s t P o i n t curriculum was heavily tilted toward engineering; in fact, it was o n e of t h e nation's first engineering colleges and was publicly supported and free. T h a t ' s what made it attractive to young m e n like H i ram Ulysses G r a n t , familiarly k n o w n as " S a m , " w h o wasn't anxious to be a soldier but wanted to get somewhere more promising t h a n his father's O h i o farm. Hundreds like G r a n t c a m e to W e s t P o i n t and left to use t h e i r c i v i l engineering skills in a country badly n e e d i n g t h e m , some in civil life after serving out an e n l i s t m e n t but many right there in uniform. It was t h e army t h a t explored, mapped, and surveyed t h e wagon and railroad routes to t h e west, starting with t h e Corps of E x p l o r a t i o n under Lewis and C l a r k sent out by t h e protean Mr. Jefferson. It was t h e army t h a t had a h a n d in clearing rivers of snags and brush and building dams t h a t allowed steamboats to avoid rapids. It was t h e army that put up

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lighthouses in t h e harbors and whose exhaustive geologic and topographic surveys were important contributions to publicly supported scientific r e s e a r c h — a n d to e c o n o m i c d e v e l o p m e n t — i n the young republic.

A l l of this would surely h a v e pleased G e n e r a l Kosciuszko, who believed in a society of broad equality. Indeed, add all these facts together and what you c o m e up with is a portrait of s o m e t h i n g new under t h e s u n — a peacetime army working directly w i t h and for t h e c i v i l society in improving the n a t i o n so as to guarantee t h e greater opportunities for individual success i n h e r e n t in t h e promise of democracy. A n d a wartime army in w h i c h temporary citizen-soldiers were and still are led by longterm professional citizen-soldiers w h o were molded out of t h e same clay as those they c o m m a n d . A n d all of t h e m led from t h e top by t h e o n e political figure c h o s e n by t h e entire n a t i o n a l e l e c t o r a t e . T h i s arrangem e n t — t h i s bargain b e t w e e n t h e m e n with the guns and t h e citizens who provide t h e guns—is t h e heritage passed on to you by t h e revolutionaries w h o fought and won A m e r i c a ' s i n d e p e n d e n c e and t h e n swore fidelity to a civil c o m p a c t t h a t survives today, despite tumultuous m o m e n t s and perilous passages. O n c e again we e n c o u n t e r a paradox: n o t all our wars were on t h e side of freedom. T h e first t h a t seriously engaged t h e a l u m n i of W e s t P o i n t was the M e x i c a n War, w h i c h was n o t a war to p r o t e c t our freedoms but to grab land—facts are facts—and was n o t only bitterly criticized by part of t h e c i v i l i a n population b u t e v e n looked on w i t h skepticism by some graduates like G r a n t himself. S t i l l , he n o t only fought well in it but it was for h i m , as well as for most of t h e generals on b o t h sides in t h e impending C i v i l War, an unequaled training s c h o o l and rehearsal stage. W h e n the C i v i l W a r c a m e , i t offered a n illustration o f h o w t h e m e a n i n g of freedom isn't always easy to pin down. F r o m t h e p o i n t of view o f t h e N o r t h , t h e hundreds o f S o u t h e r n W e s t Pointers who re-

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signed to fight for t h e C o n f e d e r a c y — R o b e r t E. L e e included—were turning against t h e people's g o v e r n m e n t t h a t h a d educated and supported t h e m . T h e y were traitors. B u t from t h e S o u t h e r n p o i n t o f view, t h e y were fighting for t h e freedom of t h e i r local g o v e r n m e n t s to leave t h e U n i o n when, as they saw it, it t h r e a t e n e d their way of life. T h e i r way of life tragically included the right to h o l d o t h e r m e n in slavery. T h e C i v i l War, n o n e t h e l e s s , confirmed t h e i m p o r t a n c e o f W e s t P o i n t training. European military observers were amazed at t h e skill with w h i c h t h e better generals on b o t h sides, m e a n i n g for t h e most part W e s t Pointers and n o t p o l i t i c a l appointees, m a n e u v e r e d huge armies o f m e n over vast areas of difficult terrain, used modern t e c h n o l o g i e s like t h e railroad and t h e telegraph to c o o r d i n a t e m o v e m e n t s and a c c u m u l a t e supplies, and made t h e best use of newly developed weapons. T h e N o r t h had more of these advantages, and w h e n t h e final victory c a m e , adulat i o n and admiration were showered o n G r a n t and S h e r m a n , who h a d c o m e to a realistic and u n r o m a n t i c understanding of m o d e r n war, precisely because they h a d n o t b e e n steeped in t h e mythologies of a warrior caste. T h e i r triumph was seen as v i n d i c a t i o n of h o w well t h e army of a d e m o c r a c y could work. Just as L i n c o l n , the self-educated rail-splitter, had provided a c i v i l i a n leadership that also proved h i m t h e equal of any p o t e n t a t e o n t h e globe. After 1 8 6 5 t h e army shrank as its c h i e f e n g a g e m e n t was n o w in wiping out t h e last vestiges of Indian resistance to t h e i r dispossession a n d subjugation: o n e people's a d v a n c e b e c a m e another's a n n i h i l a t i o n and o n e of t h e most shameful episodes of our history. In 1 8 9 8 t h e army was briefly used for t h e first effort in exporting d e m o c r a c y — a n idea t h a t does n o t travel well in military transports—when it warred with S p a i n to h e l p t h e C u b a n s c o m p l e t e a war for i n d e p e n d e n c e t h a t h a d b e e n in progress for three years. T h e C u b a n s found their liberation s o m e w h a t illusory, however, w h e n t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s made t h e island a virtual prot e c t o r a t e and allowed it to be ruled by a corrupt dictator. A m e r i c a n s also lifted t h e yoke of S p a i n from t h e Filipinos, only to learn t h a t they did n o t want t o e x c h a n g e it for o n e stamped

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U S A . It t o o k a three-year war, during w h i c h t h e army killed several thousand so-called insurgents, before t h e i r leader was captured and t h e F i l ipinos were cured of t h e illusion t h a t i n d e p e n d e n c e m e a n t . . . well, i n d e p e n d e n c e . I bring up these reminders n o t to defame t h e troops. T h e i r a c t i o n s were supported by a majority of t h e A m e r i c a n p e o p l e e v e n in a progressive phase of our p o l i t i c a l history ( t h o u g h there was some principled and stiff o p p o s i t i o n ) . N o n e t h e l e s s , we h a v e to remind ourselves t h a t t h e armed forces c a n ' t b e e x p e c t e d t o b e morally m u c h b e t t e r t h a n t h e people w h o send t h e m i n t o a c t i o n , and t h a t w h e n h o n o r a b l e b e h a v i o r c o m e s i n t o conflict with racism, h o n o r is usually t h e loser unless people such as yourself fight to m a i n t a i n it. O u r brief participation i n t h e First W o r l d W a r temporarily e x p a n d e d t h e army, helped by a draft t h a t had also proven necessary in t h e C i v i l W a r . B u t rapid demobilization was followed by a long period of evershrinking military budgets, especially for the land forces. N o t until W o r l d W a r II did t h e army again take part in such a long, bloody, and fateful conflict as t h e C i v i l W a r h a d b e e n , a n d like the C i v i l W a r i t o p e n e d a n entirely n e w period i n A m e r i c a n history. T h e incredibly gigantic mobilization of t h e e n t i r e n a t i o n , t h e victory it produced, and t h e ensuing sixty years of wars, quasi-wars, mini-wars, secret wars, and a virtually p e r m a n e n t crisis c r e a t e d a superpower and forever c h a n g e d the nation's relationship to its armed forces, c o n f r o n t i n g us with problems we h a v e to address, no m a t t e r h o w unsettling it may be to do so in t h e midst of yet a n o t h e r war. T h e armed services are no longer stepchildren in budgetary terms. Appropriations for defense and defense-related activities (like veterans' care, pensions, and debt service) r e m i n d us t h a t t h e costs of war c o n tinue long after t h e fighting ends. O b j e c t i o n s to ever-swelling defensive expenditures are, e x c e p t in rare cases, a greased slide to p o l i t i c a l suicide. It should be troublesome to you as professional soldiers t h a t e l e v a t i o n to t h e p a n t h e o n o f u n t o u c h a b l e i c o n s — r i g h t there alongside m o t h e r h o o d , apple pie, and t h e flag—permits a great deal of political lip service to rep l a c e g e n u i n e efforts to improve t h e lives a n d working c o n d i t i o n s , in c o m b a t and out, o f those w h o serve.

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L e t m e c u t closer t o t h e b o n e . T h e cheerleaders for war i n W a s h i n g t o n , w h o at this very m o m e n t are busily defending you against supposed "insults" or betrayals by t h e opponents of t h e war in Iraq, are likewise those w h o h a v e cut budgets for medical and psychiatric care; w h o h a v e b e e n so skimpy and late with pay and w i t h provision of necessities t h a t military families in t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s h a v e h a d to apply for food stamps; w h o sent t h e m e n and w o m e n w h o m you may soon b e c o m m a n d i n g i n t o Iraq understrength, under-equipped, and unprepared for dealing with a kind of war fought in streets and h o m e s full of civilians against e n e m i e s undistinguishable from n o n c o m b a t a n t s ; w h o h a v e t i m e and again brok e n promises t o t h e c i v i l i a n N a t i o n a l G u a r d s m e n bearing m u c h o f t h e burden by c a n c e l i n g their redeployment orders and e x t e n d i n g their tours. You may or may n o t agree on t h e justice and necessity of t h e war itself, but I h o p e t h a t you will agree t h a t flattery and adulation are no substitute for genuine support. M u c h of t h e m o n e y that could be directed to t h a t support has g o n e i n t o h i g h - t e c h weapons systems t h a t were supposed to produce a new, m o b i l e , c o m p a c t "professional" army t h a t could easily defeat t h e armies of any o t h e r two n a t i o n s c o m b i n e d , but is useless in a war against n a tionalist or religious guerrilla uprisings that, like it or n o t , h a v e some support, c o e r c e d o r otherwise, a m o n g t h e local population. W e learned this lesson in V i e t n a m , only to see it forgotten or ignored by t h e t i m e this administration invaded Iraq, creating t h e c o n d i t i o n s for a savage sectarian and civil war with our soldiers trapped in t h e middle, unable to discern c i v i l i a n from c o m b a t a n t , where it is impossible to kill your e n emy faster t h a n rage makes n e w ones. A n d w h o has b e e n the real beneficiary o f creating this h i g h - t e c h army called to fight a war c o n c e i v e d a n d c o m m i s s i o n e d and c h e e r e d on by politicians and pundits n o t o n e of w h o m ever e n t e r e d a c o m b a t zone? O n e o f your boys answered that: Dwight Eisenhower, class o f 1 9 1 5 , w h o told us t h a t t h e real winners of t h e anything-at-any-price philosophy would be t h e "military-industrial c o m p l e x . " I c o n t e n d t h a t t h e A m e r i c a n military systems t h a t evolved in t h e

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early days of this republic rested on a bargain b e t w e e n t h e c i v i l i a n authorities and t h e armed services, and t h a t t h e army has, for t h e most part, k e p t its part of t h e bargain and that, at this m o m e n t , t h e c i v i l i a n authorities w h o m you loyally obey are shirking theirs. A n d before you assume t h a t I am c a l l i n g for an insurrection against t h e c i v i l i a n deciders of your destinies, h e a r me out, for t h a t is t h e last thing on my m i n d . You h a v e kept your e n d of t h e bargain by fighting well w h e n called upon, by refusing to b e c o m e a praetorian guard for a reigning administration at any t i m e , and by respecting c i v i l c o n t r o l at all times. For t h e most part, our military leaders h a v e made no serious efforts to meddle in politics. T h e two most n o t a b l e cases were G e n e r a l G e o r g e M c C l e l l a n , w h o endorsed a p r o - S o u t h e r n and pro-slavery policy in t h e first year of t h e C i v i l W a r and was openly c o n t e m p t u o u s o f L i n c o l n . B u t L i n c o l n fired h i m in 1 8 6 2 , and w h e n M c C l e l l a n ran for president two years later, t h e voting public h a n d e d h i m his h a t . Douglas M a c A r t h u r ' s a t t e m p t to d i c t a t e his o w n C h i n a policy i n 1 9 5 1 ran h e a d - o n i n t o t h e resolve o f Harry Truman, who, surviving a firestorm of hostility, happily w a t c h e d a M a c A r t h u r b o o m l e t for t h e R e p u b l i c a n n o m i n a t i o n for t h e presidency fizzle out in 1 9 5 2 . O n t h e o t h e r side o f t h e ledger, however, t h e bargain has n o t b e e n kept. T h e last t i m e Congress declared war was i n 1 9 4 1 . S i n c e t h e n presidents o f t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s , including t h e o n e I served, h a v e g o t t e n Congress, o c c a s i o n a l l y under demonstrably false pretenses, to suspend c o n s t i t u t i o n a l provisions t h a t required t h e m t o get t h e c o n s e n t o f the people's representatives in order to c o n d u c t a war. T h e y were h a n d e d a b l a n k c h e c k to send the armed forces i n t o a c t i o n at their personal disc r e t i o n and on dubious c o n s t i t u t i o n a l grounds. Furthermore, t h e current president has made e x t r a - c o n s t i t u t i o n a l c l a i m s o f authority b y repeatedly a c t i n g a s i f h e were c o m m a n d e r i n c h i e f o f t h e e n t i r e n a t i o n and n o t merely o f t h e armed forces. M o s t dangerously to our moral h o n o r and to your o w n welfare in t h e e v e n t of capture, he has likewise ordered t h e armed forces to violate c l e a r m a n d a t e s o f t h e U n i f o r m C o d e o f M i l i t a r y J u s t i c e and t h e G e n e v a c o n v e n t i o n s b y

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c l a i m i n g a right to interpret t h e m at his pleasure, so as to allow indefin i t e and secret d e t e n t i o n s and torture. T h e s e claims c o n t r a v e n e a basic principle usually made clear to recruits from their first day in s e r v i c e — t h a t t h e y may n o t obey an unlawful order. T h e president is a t t e m p t i n g to h a v e t h e m violate t h a t longstanding rule by personal definitions of w h a t t h e law says and means. T h e r e is yet a n o t h e r way t h e a r m c h a i r warriors are failing you. In t h e O c t o b e r issue o f t h e magazine o f t h e C a l i f o r n i a Nurses A s s o c i a t i o n , you c a n read a long report e n t i t l e d " T h e B a t t l e at H o m e . " In veterans' hospitals across t h e c o u n t r y — a n d in a growing n u m b e r of ill-prepared, underfunded psych and primary-care c l i n i c s as w e l l — t h e report says t h a t nurses "have witnessed t h e guilt, rage, e m o t i o n a l numbness, and torm e n t e d flashbacks of G I s just b a c k from Iraq." Yet "a returning vet must wait an average of 1 6 5 days for a VA decision on initial disability b e n e fits," a n d an appeal c a n take up to three years. Just in t h e first quarter of this year, t h e VA treated 2 0 , 6 3 8 Iraq veterans for post-traumatic stress disorder, and faces a backlog of 4 0 0 , 0 0 0 cases. T h i s is reprehensible. I repeat: these are n o t palatable topics for soldiers about to go to war; I would like to speak of sweeter things. B u t freedom m e a n s we must face reality: "You shall k n o w t h e truth and t h e truth shall set you free." Free enough, surely, to t h i n k for yourselves about these breaches of c o n t r a c t t h a t crudely undercut t h e traditions of an army of free m e n and w o m e n w h o h a v e b o u n d themselves voluntarily t o serve t h e n a t i o n e v e n u n t o death.

W h a t , t h e n , c a n you d o about i t i f disobedience t o t h e c h a i n o f c o m m a n d is ruled out? F o r o n e , you didn't give up your freedom to v o t e n o r did you totally quit your m e m b e r s h i p in civil society w h e n you put on t h e uniform, e v e n though, as E i s e n h o w e r said, you did a c c e p t "certain i n h i b i t i o n s " at t h e t i m e . He said t h a t w h e n questioned about M a c A r t h u r ' s dismissal,

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and he made sure his own uniform was b a c k in t h e trunk before his c a m paign in 1 9 5 2 . It has b e e n most encouraging, by t h e way, to see veterans o f Iraq o n the c a m p a i g n trail i n our r e c e n t e l e c t i o n s . S e c o n d , r e m e m b e r t h a t t h e r e are limitations t o what military power c a n do. D e s p i t e t h e valor a n d skills o f our fighting forces, s o m e o b j e c tives are n o t o b t a i n a b l e at a h u m a n , diplomatic, and financial cost t h a t is a c c e p t a b l e . O u r casualties in Iraq are n o t " m i n u t e " and t h e cost of t h e war has b e e n p r o j e c t e d by some sources to r e a c h $2 trillion dollars. S o m e t i m e s , in t h e real world, a truce is t h e most h o n o r a b l e solution to conflict. D w i g h t E i s e n h o w e r — w h o is a candidate for my favorite W e s t P o i n t graduate o f t h e t w e n t i e t h c e n t u r y — k n e w t h a t w h e n , i n 1 9 5 3 , h e w e n t to K o r e a and a c c e p t e d a stalemate rather t h a n carrying out his bluff o f using n u c l e a r weapons. T h a t was t h e best t h a t c o u l d b e d o n e and it saved more years of stalemate and casualties. Douglas M a c A r t h u r ann o u n c e d in 1 9 5 1 t h a t "there was no substitute for victory." B u t in t h e wars of t h e twenty-first c e n t u r y there are alternative meanings to victory and a l t e r n a t i v e ways to a c h i e v e t h e m . Especially in tracking down and e l i m i n a t i n g terrorists, we n e e d to c h a n g e our m e t a p h o r from a "war on t e r r o r " — e x a c t l y what, pray tell, is t h a t ? — t o t h e mind-set of Interpol tracking down master criminals t h r o u g h i n t e n s e global c o o p e r a t i o n a m o n g n a t i o n s , o r t h e F B I stalking t h e Mafia, o r l o c a l p o l i c e d e t e r m i n e d to quell street gangs without leveling t h e entire n e i g h b o r h o o d in t h e process. H e l p us to t h i n k b e y o n d a "war on t e r r o r " — w h i c h politicians could wage w i t h o u t end, with no measurable way to judge its effectiveness, against stateless e n e m i e s w h o h o p e we will destroy t h e neighborh o o d , c r e a t i n g recruits for t h e i r s i d e — t o counterterrorism m o d e l e d on extraordinary p o l i c e work. T h i r d , don't let your natural and c o m m e n d a b l e loyalty to comradesin-arms lead you i n t o t h i n k i n g t h a t c r i t i c i s m of t h e mission you are on spells l a c k of patriotism. N o t every p o l i t i c i a n w h o flatters you is your ally. N o t everyone w h o believes t h a t war is t h e wrong c h o i c e to s o m e problems is your enemy. B l i n d faith in bad leadership is n o t patriotism. In t h e words of G. K. C h e s t e r t o n : " T o say my country right or wrong is

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s o m e t h i n g no patriot would utter e x c e p t in dire c i r c u m s t a n c e ; it is like saying my m o t h e r drunk or sober." Patriotism m e a n s insisting on our political leaders being sober, strong, and c e r t a i n about what they are doing w h e n they put you in harm's way. Fourth, be m o r e prepared to a c c e p t t h e credibility and integrity of those who disagree about t h e war e v e n if you do n o t agree with their positions. I say this as a journalist, k n o w i n g it is t e m p t i n g in t h e field to d e n o u n c e or despise reporters who ask nosy questions or file critical reports. B u t their first duty as reporters is to get as close as possible to t h e verifiable truth and report it to t h e A m e r i c a n people—for your sake. If there is m i s m a n a g e m e n t and i n c o m p e t e n c e , exposing it is more helpful to you t h a n paeans to candy given to t h e locals. I trust you are familiar with t h e study done for t h e army in 1 9 8 9 by t h e historian W i l l i a m H a m mond. He e x a m i n e d press coverage on K o r e a and V i e t n a m and found t h a t it was n o t t h e cause of disaffection at h o m e ; what disturbed people at h o m e was t h e death toll; w h e n casualties jumped, public support dropped. O v e r time, he said, t h e reporting was vindicated. In fact, "the press reports were often more accurate t h a n t h e public statements of t h e administration in portraying t h e situation in V i e t n a m . " Take n o t e : t h e A m e r i c a n people want t h e truth about h o w t h e i r sons and daughters are doing in Iraq and what they're up against, and that is a good thing. Finally, and this above a l l — a lesson I wish I had learned earlier. If you rise in t h e ranks to important positions—or e v e n if you d o n ' t — speak t h e truth as you see it, e v e n if t h e questioner is a higher authority w i t h a c l e a r preference for o n e and only o n e answer. It m a y n o t be t h e way to p r o m o t e your career; it c a n in fact h a r m it. A m o n g my military heroes of this war are t h e generals who frankly told the president and his advisers t h a t their information and t h e i r plans were b o t h i n c o m p l e t e and misleading—and who paid t h e price of being ignored and bypassed and possibly frozen forever in their existing ranks: m e n like G e n e r a l Eric K. S h i n s e k i , a n o t h e r son of W e s t P o i n t . It is n o t easy to be h o n e s t — a n d fair—in a bureaucratic system. B u t it is what free m e n and w o m e n h a v e to do. Be true to your principles, G e n e r a l Kosciuszko reminded T h o m a s

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Jefferson. If doing so exposes t h e i g n o r a n c e and arrogance of power, you may b e doing m o r e t o save t h e n a t i o n t h a n exploits i n c o m b a t c a n achieve. I k n o w t h e final rule of t h e military C o d e of C o n d u c t is already writt e n in your hearts: "I am an A m e r i c a n , fighting for freedom, responsible for my actions, and dedicated to the principles w h i c h made my country free . . ." T h e m e a n i n g of freedom begins with t h e still, small v o i c e of c o n s c i e n c e , w h e n e a c h of us decides what we will live, or die, for. I salute your d e d i c a t i o n to A m e r i c a and I wish all of you good luck.

THE

7.

Woodrow Judith

POWER

Wilson and

National

Bill

Moyers

OF Fellowship

with

Public

DEMOCRACY

the

Foundation

First

Intellectual

F E B R U A R Y

7 ,

Frank

E.

Presented Taplin Jr.

Award

2 0 0 7

Arthur Levine was on the phone.

The former president of Teachers College at

Columbia

the

University

now

heads

Woodrow

Wilson

National

Fellowship

Foundation named in honor of the political scientist who became eighth president.

The foundation's

mission

ing,

and

innovation.

citizenship,

colleagues my

wanted to present Judith—my wife

creative partner

Taplin Jr.

educational

is

Public

learning and the he had been a

in

all

Award for

broader public sphere." figure

to encourage excellence in Arthur

was

of more

our productions—and me

Intellectual

our twenty-

using

to

say

his

than half a century and the first

television

Although we

calling

teach-

ever

"to

Frank

bridge

E.

formal

had never met Taplin,

familiar for his leadership in the arts, environment, and

education;

his imprimatur alone was reason enough to be flattered by Arthur's

invitation.

But

there

was

another reason:

Woodrow

Wilson.

I

had just fin-

ished reading two biographies of him for a P B S series about America's progres-

82

BILL MOYERS

|

sive traditions, and I had come to think it was time for a fresh look at his legacy.

One moment Wilson was

"the supreme

figure

in world history,"

T h e New York Times said at the time, and the next he was hermit of the White House," brought down

as

"the embittered

"on the altar of his own obstinacy"

by his inability to "sacrifice one iota of a noble theory for its practical consummation." to

That of course

translate

have earned a PhD, scholar,

is

the

recurring dilemma of democratic politics:

Big Ideas into practical policies.

and before he was thrust into politics he was a noted

a popular teacher,

cation reformer.

and,

as president of Princeton

Critics said his mind was clogged with

have common thought," and common thought, in a leader of democracy. cause

of his

called

"for

I

dynamics

emancipation of the generous

University,

they said,

is

the great essential

In no small part be-

of government energies

an edu-

"too much thinking to

believe that criticism wrong.

understanding of the

the

how

Wilson is our only president to

and

politics,

of a people"—the

he subti-

tle of a stirring compilation of his speeches in the campaign of 1912 published as T h e New Freedom. When in doubt about democracy,

I pull the book from

my shelf to be reminded of one man's faith in liberty as

"a fundamental de-

mand of the

life of the

human spirit,

a fundamental necessity for the

His diagnosis of the deepening crisis in democracy's struggle ance

the

ravenous

demands

of industrial

capitalism

to check and bal-

proved prophetic:

We have come upon an age when we do not do business in the way in which we used to do business,—when we do not carry on any of the operations

of manufacturing,

sales,

transportation,

or communication

as men used to carry them on. There is a sense in which in our day the individual has been submerged. In most parts of our country men work, not for themselves, not as partners in the old way in which they used to work,

but generally as employees,—in a higher or lower grade,—of

great corporations. There was a time when corporations played a very minor part in our business affairs, but now they play the chief part, and most men are the servants of corporations. You know what happens when you are the servant of a corporation. You have no instant access to the men who are really determining the policy of the corporation. If the corporation is doing the things that it ought not to do, you really have no voice in the matter and must obey the orders, and you have oftentimes with deep mortification to cooperate in the doing of things which you know are against the public interest.

Your individuality

is

swallowed up in

purpose of a great organization.

the

soul."

individuality and

MOYERS

America,

he said,

had

solutely free opportunity class,

no

may

distinction

win or lose on

ON

DEMOCRACY

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83

"lifted to the admiration of the world its ideals of ab.

.

.

of blood,

where there is supposed to be no distinction of no distinction of social status,

their merits."

blow,

said Wilson,

but where

men

America was changing

"because the laws of this country do not prevent the strong from crushing the weak." After Arthur Levine called, and read those words again. parties

both in

family

dynasties

than

thrall

to huge

dominating

I took T h e New Freedom from the shelf

Almost a century corporate

those

later,

with our two political

and financial conglomerates,

parties,

Wilson's

words

are

and

more

two

urgent

ever.

* * *

Judith and I t h a n k you for recognizing t h a t our work, like our lives, has b e e n a shared project. We h a v e b e e n fortunate to make this journey together and to h a v e made so m a n y friends like you on t h e way. I wish we had k n o w n Frank Taplin. He was clearly a kindred spirit whose life expressed so m a n y of t h e passions t h a t h a v e informed our journalism. As a friend of t h e e n v i r o n m e n t he inspired people to see the art in an unspoiled m o u n t a i n meadow or to h e a r t h e music in its songbirds. As a trustee of t h e E n v i r o n m e n t a l Defense Fund he devoted h i m s e l f to educating t h e public about global warming—a prophet before his t i m e . As a supporter of t h e T h i r d S t r e e t M u s i c S e t t l e m e n t he saw it as "a giant sprinkler watering t h e soils of raw talent and enabling seeds to sprout into blossoms of many varieties, shapes, and colors." As a trustee o f S a r a h L a w r e n c e h e helped preserve t h e creative e n v i r o n m e n t t h a t had made t h e college so hospitable to remarkable teachers like J o s e p h C a m p b e l l . As a patron of t h e arts—including t h e presidency of t h e M e t ropolitan O p e r a — h e found love and j o y in music and good company. H e r e was a m a n at h o m e in t h e world of ideas w h i c h Judith and I h a v e made a primary beat as journalists and producers. No h o n o r given us has b e e n more c o m p a t i b l e with t h e life of its benefactor, and we are grateful to you for making t h e c o n n e c t i o n .

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We are often asked why as journalists we h a v e given so m u c h t i m e over t h e years to humanists: novelists, playwrights, artists, historians, philosophers, composers, scholars, teachers. I tried to answer this quest i o n some years ago w h e n I was invited to testify before a House of Representatives c o m m i t t e e on funding of t h e arts and h u m a n i t i e s . O p p o n e n t s were making t h e i r skepticism felt toward the Public Broadcasting S e r v i c e , t h e N a t i o n a l E n d o w m e n t for t h e Arts, and t h e N a t i o n a l E n d o w m e n t for t h e Humanities. I had b e e n present at t h e c r e a t i o n of all three during my time in t h e W h i t e House with Lyndon J o h n s o n , and n o w all three were o n c e again in t h e crosshairs of conservatives who were asking: W h y should we subsidize intellectual curiosity? R e a d i n g S h a k e s p e a r e , it was said, does n o t erase the budget deficit. Plunging into t h e history of t h e fifteenth century does n o t ease traffic jams. L i s t e n i n g to Mozart or reading t h e a n c i e n t G r e e k s does n o t repair t h e ozone layer. A t t h e t i m e o f m y testimony, w e had r e c e n t l y produced t w o series on poetry called The Language of Life and Power of the Word. O u r series Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth was resonating far and wide, m u c h to t h e displeasure of sectarian dogmatists. We had created a d o c u m e n tary special called The Power of the Past, about h o w F l o r e n c e valued art for public, and n o t merely private, c o n s u m p t i o n . O u r series World of Ideas offered conversations from a wide spectrum of voices: C h i n u a A c h e b e , Carlos Fuentes, N o r t h r o p Frye, J o s e p h Heller, T h o m a s W o l f e , R i c h a r d Rodriguez, B h a r a t i M u k h e r j e e , J o n a s S a l k , W i l l i a m L . Shirer, T u W e i - m i n g , T o n i Morrison, Barbara T u c h m a n , Ernesto C o r t e s , M . F . K . Fisher, Mary A n n G l e n d o n , E . L . Doctorow, L e o n Kass, and s o m a n y others w h o o p e n e d our viewers to what my late friend and colleague Eric S e v a r e i d called "news o f t h e m i n d . " We had t a k e n n o t e of David Denby's l a m e n t in The Atlantic Monthly t h a t " A m e r i c a n s h a v e ceased talking to o n e another. Instead, they entertain o n e another, and do so in all sorts of places where e n t e r t a i n m e n t is beside t h e p o i n t or corrupting. U n d e r t h e tyranny of affability and simplicity, public discourse—in politics, religion, and e d u c a t i o n — h a s collapsed into smiling drivel." We were also influenced by t h e educator H e r b e r t K o h l , w h o wrote:

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If we do not provide time for the consideration of people and events in depth, we may end up training another generation of television adults who know what kind of toilet paper to buy, who know how to argue and humiliate others, but who are thoroughly incapable of discussing, much less dealing with, the major social and economic problems that are tearing America apart.

C r i t i c s reminded us that these programs taught no o n e h o w to bake bread or build bridges. A n d they were right: despite public t e l e v i s i o n — despite symphony orchestras, municipal libraries, art museums, and public t h e a t e r s — c r i m e was still rampant, t h e divorce rate was soaring, corruption flourished in politics, legislatures remained stubbornly profligate, corporations c o o k e d their books, liberals were loose in the world doing t h e work of t h e devil, a n d you still couldn't get a good m e a l on t h e M e t r o t o W a s h i n g t o n . W h y persist, some members o f Congress w a n t e d to know, w h e n t h e r e are so many more urgent needs to be met, so m a n y more p r a c t i c a l problems to be solved? N o t t h a t we h a d n ' t wrestled with these questions ourselves. J u d i t h knows of t h e angst I e x p e r i e n c e in c h o o s i n g b e t w e e n producing a series on faith and reason, as we did last summer, and taking on an investigative documentary on m o u n t a i n t o p mining, skulduggery in t h e boardroom, or t h e manipulation of i n t e l l i g e n c e to justify a war. Life is short and funding scarce, and h o w to c o m m i t one's t i m e and resources is a dil e m m a n o t for journalists and producers a l o n e but for a n y o n e struggling to m a k e t h e best c h o i c e w h e n two roads diverge in t h e yellow wood. So I w e n t down to W a s h i n g t o n without a tried-and-true answer for t h e representatives. I could n o t h a n d t h e m a ledger showing that ideas h a v e c o n s e q u e n c e s . I c h o s e instead to tell t h e m w h a t t h e y could h a v e learned if they h a d b e e n listening to just a few of t h e people w h o appeared in our broadcasts. T h e y would h a v e heard t h e n o v e l i s t M a x i n e H o n g K i n g s t o n say: " A l l h u m a n beings h a v e this burden in life to c o n s t a n t l y figure out what's true, what's a u t h e n t i c , what's meaningful, what's dross, what's a h a l l u c i n a t i o n , what's a figment, what's madness. We all n e e d to figure

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out what is valuable, constantly. As a writer, all I am doing is posing t h e question in a way that people c a n see very clearly." T h e y would h a v e heard Peter Sellars, t h e i c o n o c l a s t i c director o f Shakespeare in a swimming pool and Mozart in t h e B r o n x , e x p l a i n that he wants "to put our society up n e x t to these great masterpieces. A r e we t h i n k i n g big enough? A r e we generous of spirit? W h a t does our society look like, n e x t to t h e greatest things a h u m a n being ever uttered?" T h e y would h a v e heard V a r t a n Gregorian, president o f t h e N e w York Public Library, talk about h o w "in a big library, suddenly you feel h u m b l e . T h e w h o l e of h u m a n i t y is in front of you. It gives you a sense of c o s m i c relation, but at t h e same tim e a sense of isolation. You feel b o t h pride and insignificance. H e r e it is t h e h u m a n endeavor, h u m a n aspiration, h u m a n agony, h u m a n ecstasy, h u m a n bravura, and h u m a n failures—all before you. A n d you look around and say, ' O h , my G o d ! I am n o t going to be able to k n o w it all.' " T h e y would h a v e heard t h e philosopher M a r t h a Nussbaum confess t h a t in o n e sense there is no message or moral in t h e a n c i e n t G r e e k dramatists—"simply t h e revelation of life as seen through t h e sufferer." But there is a value, she w e n t on, "in seeing t h e c o m p l e x i t y in life, and seeing it honestly, without flinching, and without reducing it to some excessively simple theory." You begin "to realize that trying to wrest a good life from t h e world may lead to tragedy, but you still must try." T h e y would h a v e heard t h e filmmaker David P u t t n a m tell h o w as a boy he sat through dozens of screenings of A M a n for All Seasons, t h e story of S i r T h o m a s More's fatal defiance of H e n r y V I I I . "It allowed me t h e enormous c o n c e i t of walking out of t h e c i n e m a t h i n k i n g , 'Yeah, I t h i n k I might h a v e had my head cut off for t h e sake of a principle.' I k n o w absolutely I wouldn't, and I probably n e v e r m e t anyone who would, but t h e c i n e m a allowed me t h a t c o n c e i t . It allowed me for o n e m o m e n t to feel t h a t everything d e c e n t in me had c o m e together." A n d they would h a v e heard t h e educator M i k e R o s e talk about what it's like t e a c h i n g disadvantaged older college students in California. He told me of his battle with a streetwise grown-up who was slogging her way through Macbeth. S h e would ask h i m , " W h a t does Shakespeare

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h a v e to do with m e ? " B u t w h e n she finally got through t h e play she said to M i k e : "You know, people always hold this stuff over you. T h e y m a k e you feel stupid. B u t now, I've read it. I c a n say, ' I , O l g a , h a v e read S h a k e speare.' I w o n ' t tell you I like it, because I don't k n o w if I do, or I don't. B u t I like knowing what it's about." A n d M i k e said: " T h e p o i n t is n o t t h a t reading Shakespeare gave h e r overnight some new discriminating vision of good and evil. W h a t she got was s o m e t h i n g more precious: a sense t h a t she was n o t powerless and she was n o t dumb." I am pleased to report t h a t those m e m b e r s of Congress got it. T h e y realized t h a t we were talking n o t only about how to improve our lives as individuals but h o w to nurture a flourishing democracy. W o u l d n ' t we h a v e b e e n likely to deal more effectively and quickly with pollution if we had thought about where we fit i n t o t h e long sweep of t h e earth's story? C o u l d we b e t t e r t a c k l e our spending priorities as a society if we were prepared to acknowledge and confront t h e pain of conflicting c h o i c e s , w h i c h t h e a n c i e n t poets knew to be t h e incubus of agony and t h e crucible of wisdom? M i g h t we better decide h o w to use our wealth and power if we h a v e measured and tested ourselves against t h e greatest things a h u m a n being ever uttered? A r e we n o t likely to be more wisely led by officials who h a v e learned from history and literature t h a t great nations die of too m a n y lies? Furthermore, if we nurtured t h e higher affections of our i n t u i t i o n — what has b e e n called our "inner tutor"—might we be m o r e resolute in sparing our c h i l d r e n from t h e appalling a c c r e t i o n of v i o l e n t entertainm e n t t h a t permeates A m e r i c a n life, w h a t Newsweek has described as " t h e flood of mass-produced and mass-consumed v i o l e n c e t h a t pours upon us, masquerading as a m u s e m e n t and t h r e a t e n i n g to erode t h e psyc h o l o g i c a l and moral boundary b e t w e e n real life and make-believe"? A m o n g t h e e n e m i e s o f democracy are what t h e late C l e a n t h B r o o k s identified as t h e "bastard muses": propaganda, w h i c h pleads, sometimes unscrupulously, for a special cause or issue at t h e e x p e n s e of t h e total truth; sentimentality, w h i c h works up e m o t i o n a l responses unwarranted by, and in excess of, t h e o c c a s i o n ; and pornography, w h i c h focuses upon o n e powerful h u m a n drive at t h e e x p e n s e of t h e total h u m a n personal-

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ity. To c o u n t e r t h e "bastard muses," C l e a n t h B r o o k s proposed cultivating t h e "true muses" of t h e moral imagination. N o t only do these arm us to resist t h e little lies and fantasies of merchandising, t h e big lies of power, and t h e ghoulish products of nightmarish minds, they o p e n us to t h e lived e x p e r i e n c e o f others. W h e n Lear cried out t o G l o u c e s t e r o n t h e h e a t h , "You see h o w this world goes," Gloucester, who was blind, answered, "I see it feelingly." M a n y years ago we produced a series called Six Great Ideas with t h e didactic, irascible, and provocative philosopher M o r t i m e r A d l e r — o n e broadcast e a c h on liberty, equality, justice, truth, beauty, and goodness. F r o m t h e deluge of mail I kept two letters t h a t summed up t h e response. O n e c a m e from U t a h .

Dear Dr.

Adler:

I am writing in behalf of a group of construction workers (mostly,

believe it or not, plumbers!)

teacher worth listening to.

who have finally found a

While we cannot all agree whether or

not we would hire you as an apprentice, we can all agree that we would love to listen to you during our lunch breaks. I am sure that it is just due to our well-known ignorance as tradesmen that not a single one of us had ever heard of you until one Sunday afternoon we were watching public television and Bill Moyers came on with S i x Great Ideas. We listened intensely and soon became addicted and have been ever since.

We never knew a world of ideas existed.

The study of ideas has completely education .

.

. We have grown to love the ideas behind our coun-

try's composition, your books

we

turned around our impression of

and since reading and discussing numerous have all become devout Constitutionalists.

of

We

thank you and we applaud you. We are certain that the praise of a few plumbers could hardly compare with the notoriety serve from distinguished colleagues,

that you de-

but we salute you just the

same. We may be plumbers during the day, but at lunch time and at night and on weekend, bless

you.

we are Philosophers at Large.

God

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T h e second letter c a m e from t h e federal prison i n M a r i o n , O h i o . T h e writer said he had b e e n a faithful viewer of t h e series. He described t h e e x p e r i e n c e as "a truly joyous opportunity . .. for an institutionalized intellectual. After several m o n t h s in a c e l l , with n o t h i n g but a T V , it was salvation." Salvation. I had to t h i n k about this for a while before I realized what he m e a n t . H o w is it a m a n c o n d e m n e d to an institution for t h e remainder of his years finds salvation in a television program? A n d t h e n o n e day I c a m e across a passage from L e o Strauss. T h e G r e e k word for "vulgarity," Strauss said, is apeirokalia, t h e l a c k of e x p e r i e n c e in things beautiful. W h e r e v e r you are and however it arrives, a liberal e d u c a t i o n c a n liberate you from t h e coarseness and crudity of circumstances beyond your c o n t r o l . E v e n in prison. W a t c h i n g and listening to our public discourse today, I realize we are all "institutionalized" in o n e form or a n o t h e r — l o c k e d away in our separate realities, our parochial loyalties, our fixed ways of seeing ourselves and others. For d e m o c r a c y to flourish, we n e e d to escape those bonds and j o i n what J o h n Dewey called "a life of free and e n r i c h i n g c o m m u n i o n " — a n apt description o f t h e c o n v e r s a t i o n o f democracy. O n c e upon a tim e t h e very c o n c e p t of "public" could be defined as "a group of strangers who gather to discuss t h e news." T h e late scholar J a m e s W. C a r e y wrote that in early A m e r i c a t h e printing press generated a body of popular knowledge. Towns were small, and taverns, inns, coffeehouses, street corners, and t h e public greens were places where people gathered to discuss what they were reading. T h e s e places of public c o m m u n i c a t i o n "provided t h e underlying social fabric of t h e town and, w h e n t h e R e v o l u t i o n began, made it possible to quickly gather militia companies, to form effective c o m m i t t e e s of correspondence and of inspection, and to organize and to m a n a g e mass t o w n meetings." T h e public was no fiction, Carey said. B u t without news, t h e public had n o life, n o social relationships. T h e news was what activated c o n versation b e t w e e n strangers, and strangers were assumed to be capable of conversing about t h e news. T h e whole point of t h e press was n o t so m u c h to disseminate fact as to assemble people. T h e press furnished ma-

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terials for a r g u m e n t — " i n f o r m a t i o n " in t h e narrow s e n s e — " b u t t h e value of t h e press was predicated on t h e e x i s t e n c e of t h e public, n o t t h e reverse." T h e media's role was to take t h e public seriously. It is hard to argue t h a t t h e mass m e d i a takes t h e public seriously tod a y — e x c e p t as consumers of advertising. T h e I n t e r n e t may prove redemptive for democracy, but so far t h e results are mixed; but for sure radio and television h a v e c o m b i n e d t o transform t h e public i n t o w h a t J . R. Priestly described as "a vast crowd, a p e r m a n e n t audience, waiting to be amused." W h a t kind o f "public i n t e l l e c t u a l " thrives i n this e n v i r o n m e n t ? Turn on t h e television and you're likely to see o n e talking about t h e war i n Iraq, w h i c h h e has c h e e r e d o n despite h a v i n g n e v e r b e e n there, b e e n shot at, or e v e n worn a uniform. N o t i c e where he s i t s — i n a T i m e s S q u a r e studio or on a media stage in W a s h i n g t o n , his enthusiasm-forbattle (as long as s o m e o n e else is fighting it) message b e a m e d uncritically to millions by huge media c o n g l o m e r a t e s i n t e n t on maximizing profit through t h e delivery to advertisers of mass audiences with short att e n t i o n spans. P o o r S o c r a t e s . T h e A t h e n i a n m a v e r i c k would b e lost i n this e n v i r o n m e n t . Arguably t h e first public i n t e l l e c t u a l — p r o c l a i m e d by t h e orac l e o f D e l p h i a s t h e wisest o f m e n — S o c r a t e s w e n t about A t h e n s o n a divine m a n d a t e of self-reflection, s o m e celestial spark glowing in his breast, s o m e v o i c e whispering in his h e a d t h a t only he could hear. He called o n t h e wise m e n and great poets and master t e c h n i c i a n s o f t h e city to c r o s s - e x a m i n e t h e m , casting doubt on their knowledge, especially t h e r e c e i v e d o p i n i o n s and u n e x a m i n e d assumptions that produced t h e deep-seated corruption o f t h o u g h t w h i c h exposed t h e city t o grave moral danger. He made a n u i s a n c e of h i m s e l f by simply p o i n t i n g to t h e c o m m o n failing of so m a n y experts w h o mistake t h e i r expertise in o n e subj e c t or p r a c t i c e for universal wisdom about t h e h u m a n c o n d i t i o n . Exposing t h e i g n o r a n c e of t h e leaders was S o c r a t e s ' way of helping t h e "cause o f G o d , " a s h e e x p l a i n e d w h e n h e was put o n trial. A s h e reasoned, t h e wisest of m e n is t h e o n e w h o is most conscious of his o w n ign o r a n c e , most aware of t h e limits of knowledge w h i c h are introduced by

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our limited methods of obtaining knowledge. M e l e t u s , t h e m a i n accuser featured in t h e Apology (as told by P l a t o ) , was a young religious fanatic who charged S o c r a t e s with believing in deities of his o w n i n v e n t i o n rather t h a n t h e gods recognized by t h e state. S o m e scholars n o w b e l i e v e Meletus to h a v e b e e n simply a front m a n for political interests, put forward to stir t h e public against t h e p h i l o s o p h e r — a forerunner of m o d e r n punditry. I t h i n k sadly of C o l i n Powell addressing t h e U n i t e d N a t i o n s in F e b ruary 2 0 0 3 , with his artist's renderings of those trailers t h a t were supposed to be m o b i l e biological warfare factories; and I t h i n k of all t h e rest of t h e c o o k e d i n t e l l i g e n c e t h a t sold so many of our public intellectuals on advocating t h e invasion of Iraq. Relying on t h e knowledge of selfinterested experts and deluded leaders proved disastrous. W h e n his peers s e n t e n c e d S o c r a t e s to death, he reminded t h e m t h a t they were proving h o w groundless knowledge made it impossible to escape from doing wrong. S u c c u m b i n g to wishful t h i n k i n g t h a t leads to disastrous selfdelusion, he pointed out, is t h e only real death. " W h e n I leave this court," he said of his jurors, "I will go away c o n d e m n e d by you to death." B u t his accusers "will go away c o n v i c t e d by truth h e r s e l f . . ." N o t so t o day. A stockbroker w h o makes bad picks doesn't last t o o long. A baseball player in an e x t e n d e d slump gets traded. A worker made redundant by c h e a p e r labor abroad or by a new m a c h i n e — s h e ' s done for, t o o . B u t four years after t h e invasion of I r a q — t h e greatest blunder in foreign policy s i n c e V i e t n a m — t h e public apologists and advocates of t h e war flourish in t h e media, while t h e costs of their delusions accrue in body c o u n t s and lost treasure. A public t h a t detests t h e war is relegated to t h e b l e a c h ers, fated to w a t c h from afar t h e playing out by political and media elites of a game t h a t has b e e n rigged against t h e truth. T h e Hebrew prophet was a n o t h e r kind o f public intellectual, also c o n d e m n e d and persecuted by political elites. A century before S o c r a t e s , o n e of those p r o p h e t s — J e r e m i a h — c a m e from a small village into Jerusalem to preach r e p e n t a n c e to a faithless Israel, with its houses full of treachery, and its r i c h kings and princes who gave no justice to t h e poor widow and t h e fatherless child.

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N e a r t h e e n d of his own life, Jesus of Nazareth went to Jerusalem, too, to p r e a c h t h e same message in an e v e n m o r e dangerous public way, confronting t h e ruling elites before great crowds on t h e T e m p l e grounds. W h e n h e predicted t h e i r i m m i n e n t destruction, i n his parable about t h e wicked t e n a n t s w h o hoarded t h e fruits of c r e a t i o n , his fate was sealed. Jesus would n o t be crucified today. T h e prophets would n o t be stoned. S o c r a t e s would n o t drink t h e h e m l o c k . T h e y would instead b e b a n n e d from t h e Sunday talk shows and op-ed pages by t h e sentries of e s t a b l i s h m e n t t h i n k i n g w h o guard against dissent with t h e o n e weapon of mass destruction m o s t cleverly designed to obliterate d e m o c r a c y : t h e rubber stamp. Yet d e m o c r a c y requires a public aroused by t h e knowledge of w h a t is being d o n e to their country in their n a m e . A n d h e r e is t h e crisis of t h e times as I see it: We talk about problems, issues, policies, but we don't talk about what d e m o c r a c y m e a n s — w h a t it bestows on u s — t h e revolutionary idea t h a t it isn't just about t h e m e a n s of g o v e r n a n c e but t h e means of dignifying people so t h e y b e c o m e fully free to c l a i m their moral and political agency. "I b e l i e v e in D e m o c r a c y because it releases t h e energies o f every h u m a n being." T h e s e are t h e words o f W o o d r o w W i l s o n , t h e n a m e s a k e of your foundation and still your guiding spirit. T h e only P h D ever t o r e a c h t h e W h i t e House was a public i n t e l l e c tual and g e n u i n e reformer w h o understood t h a t h i g h e r e d u c a t i o n was a major battleground of ideas. He learned what t h e political struggle was about while a professor and later t h e president of P r i n c e t o n , where he lost his share of institutional battles with wealthy a l u m n i w h o largely c o n t r o l l e d t h e university's d e v e l o p m e n t and t h e n a t i o n b e y o n d . In his political t e s t a m e n t The New Freedom, W i l s o n t o o k up s o m e t h i n g of t h e a n c i e n t , critical task of t h e public intellectual, a fact all t h e more remarkable i n t h a t h e h a d r e c e n t l y b e e n e l e c t e d president o f t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s . " D o n ' t d e c e i v e yourselves for a m o m e n t as to t h e power o f t h e great interests w h i c h n o w d o m i n a t e our d e v e l o p m e n t , " h e wrote from t h e c e n t e r of power. " N o m a t t e r t h a t there are m e n in this country big e n o u g h t o own t h e g o v e r n m e n t o f t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s . T h e y are going to o w n it if they c a n . [But] t h e r e is no salvation in t h e pitiful c o n d e -

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scensions of industrial masters. Guardians h a v e no place in a land of freemen. Prosperity guaranteed by trustees has no prospect of e n durance." F r o m his stand c a m e progressive i n c o m e t a x a t i o n , t h e federal estate t a x , tariff reform, a n d a resolute spirit "to deal with t h e n e w a n d subtle tyrannies according to t h e i r deserts." W i l s o n described his vision in plain English t h a t no o n e could fail to understand: " T h e laws of this country do n o t p r e v e n t t h e strong from crushing t h e weak." A n d those laws must be resisted, as t h e y could be only through releasing t h e energies of every citizen. T h a t was true in 1 8 0 0 , 1 8 6 0 , 1 8 9 2 , 1 9 1 2 , and 1 9 3 2 , and it is true today, as m o n e y holds our politics in a h a m m e r l o c k , a c c e l e r a t i n g our divisions of race, class, and power, and frustrating t h e egalitarian spirit of t h e A m e r i c a n R e v o lution. N e v e r has it b e e n more imperative to r e m e m b e r t h a t every t i m e we h a v e b e e n pressed to t h e l i m i t and t h o s e energies were released, t h e r e c a m e a great wave of reform. I believe o n e is c o m i n g again. Toward t h e e n d of h e r career, H e l e n Keller was speaking at a small midwestern c o l l e g e . A student asked her, "Miss Keller, is there anything t h a t could h a v e b e e n worse t h a n losing your sight?" H e l e n K e l l e r replied, "Yes, I could h a v e lost my vision." T h e A m e r i c a n vision o f life, liberty, and t h e pursuit o f happiness, nurtured in a framework of g o v e r n m e n t of, by, a n d for t h e people, has n o t b e e n lost. W h a t we must d e t e r m i n e now, in t h e words of W o o d r o w W i l s o n , your n a m e s a k e , "is w h e t h e r we are big enough . . . w h e t h e r we are free enough, to t a k e possession again of t h e g o v e r n m e n t w h i c h is our own."

8. American

|

HELP

Association and

of

Admissions

M A R C H

Walking into the library at the more than half a century ago, asking—stacks

upon

stacks

labors

and generosity

since,

my

heroes

3,

Registrars

Officers

2007

University of Texas my

first

week on campus

I was overwhelmed at what was there for the

of

of legions

have

Collegiate

books—everything of people

been people

who

in

whom make

place

because

of

I would never know. institutions

the Ever

work for others—

especially for poor kids like me who would never have made it by ourselves. The term "future generations" passes our lips so often and so easily it has become a cliche. tion

to

But it wasn't a cliche for the men who intended our Constitu-

"secure

Philosophers

the

debate

Blessings "the

claim they have upon us,

of Liberty

moral

what

might

benefit

ourselves

of future

and

our

persons"—just

Posterity." how

much

how can we have duties to nonexistent beings whom

we will never know as individuals, just

status

to

"them."

how do we even tell with any confidence Fortunately

for

me,

these

abstractions

did

not deter the framers of the Constitution or the president of the new Repub-

MOYERS

lic of Texas,

Mirabeau B.

ON

Lamar,

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who went on a buffalo hunt to the small

town of Waterloo on the Colorado River in Central Texas and liked what he saw so much that he moved the capital there in 1839, renamed it Austin, and preached so eloquently

the virtues of public education that he became

ther of Texas education."

In

sity

day

that

1

would one

low-cost but

first-class

to

state

me from

1881

Austin became the site of the new univer-

attend for tuition fees

of $40

education today

a semester.

The

education that 1 received there was a life-changing gift

legislators,

faculty,

administrators,

maintenance

taxpayers whom 1 would never know but can never forget. college

"the fa-

soars

As

crews,

and

the cost of a

beyond the reach of working families

like mine

in the mid-1950s, I think of a fellow named Dave, whom 1 met by chance the evening I traveled to Boston to speak to the gatekeepers of higher education. Who is

thinking about the Daves of our future?

* * *

W h e n I a c c e p t e d your i n v i t a t i o n to speak I promised your officers and staff t h a t I wouldn't talk about t h e issues you wrestle with every day on your j o b s . You k n o w far more about those subjects t h a n I do. W i t h t h a t promise I ruled out topics such as w h e t h e r n a t i o n a l testing c a n be done on computers and trusted, and t h e tug-of-war b e t w e e n those of you w h o would like to see t h e tests more oriented to t h e classroom and those who believe they should assess "aptitude." My promise m e a n t 1 didn't h a v e to raise with you what t h e "wasted year" of h i g h - s c h o o l seniors means for t h e freshman year at college. Or h o w state funding growth for higher edu c a t i o n is t h e lowest in two decades, or how tuition at public universities is up 42 p e r c e n t over five years, resulting in t h e silent privatization of those institutions as t h e costs are passed on to parents and students. Or such unpleasant realities as t h e fact t h a t in 1 9 9 3 one-third of your students graduated w i t h debt, and in 2 0 0 4 two-thirds did; or t h e fact t h a t t h e total volume of private student loans has grown at an average rate o f 2 7 p e r c e n t s i n c e 2 0 0 1 . O r t h a t private loans n o w carry interest rates as h i g h as 19 percent e v e n as banks h a v e mobilized against direct lending by t h e g o v e r n m e n t t h a t is far c h e a p e r and could save students money. I e v e n told myself t h a t I wouldn't go n e a r t h e scandal waiting to

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break in h o w universities are being offered k i c k b a c k s by organizations maneuvering to be their preferred lender on campus. A l l of these subjects interest me as a journalist, but I t h o u g h t you deserved a m o r n i n g off from business as usual. W h y bring to B o s t o n t h e unpleasant issues you t a c k l e every day on your campuses? T h e n I met Dave. D a v e i s 1 0 0 p e r c e n t B o s t o n . B o r n and raised h e r e . A n d h e ' l l die h e r e if he lives t h a t long. T h e car service sent D a v e to p i c k me up late last n i g h t at t h e train station. W h i l e driving is his livelihood, his joy clearly c o m e s from m e e t ing so m a n y people from faraway places and talking with t h e m while p o i n t i n g out t h e oldest c h u r c h in B o s t o n or t h e best place to get a great sandwich at m i d n i g h t . D a v e asked m e , " W h a t are you doing in town?" " I ' m m a k i n g a speech," I said. " W h o t o ? " " T o college registrars and admissions officers and people like t h e m w h o run universities all o v e r t h e country." He almost drove through a red light as he turned around and in a v o i c e decibels h i g h e r said, "You are? You're really talking to those people?" "I a m . " T h e n , turning b a c k to t h e w h e e l just in t i m e to miss a truck t h a t h a d stopped abruptly a h e a d of us, D a v e said, more softly now, " O h , my G o d . I wish I was talking to t h e m . " " W h y ? " I asked. "I got a kid in c o l l e g e h e r e in B o s t o n — g o o d kid, a junior, but it's killing us." "How's t h a t ? " " T u i t i o n — t h i r t y grand a year plus, and I'm just a working stiff. We d o n ' t h a v e any money, but I was determined he would go to college, like I n e v e r did." " H o w are you managing?" I asked. " W e sat down and looked a t our assets. W e got $ 2 0 0 , 0 0 0 i n equity in t h e house we saved for but I told h i m I couldn't risk t h e house. So I told h i m I would o p e n my 4 0 1 ( k ) and would pay h a l f his c o l l e g e tuition."

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" W h e r e ' s t h e o t h e r h a l f c o m i n g from?" " L o a n — 7 . 9 p e r c e n t . B u t he won't h a v e to start paying it b a c k for six m o n t h s after he gets out n e x t year. I just h o p e he lands in a j o b where he c a n pay it b a c k . " " S o h o w are you going to m a k e up in your 4 0 1 ( k ) t h e m o n e y you t o o k out to give h i m ? " " C a n ' t . I won't ever retire. T h e y ' l l h a v e to lift me out of this c a r and put me directly in t h e hearse." " S o w h a t would be your message for those people in my audience t o morrow?" I asked. H e answered, "Help." As we said goodbye I t h a n k e d h i m . "For w h a t ? " he asked. I said, "For inspiring me to throw out t h e speech I had intended to give and talk about y o u — a n d all t h e people like you." E d u c a t i o n a l T e s t i n g S e r v i c e r e c e n t l y c o n c l u d e d t h a t a perfect storm is brewing, with our colleges and universities right at t h e c e n t e r of it. T h r e e powerful forces are converging: wide disparities in skill levels (reading and m a t h ) , widening wage gaps of seismic proportions, and sweeping demographic shifts of more people with less e d u c a t i o n and fewer skills. If we don't confront these c h a n g e s with n e w t h i n k i n g and n e w policies, we will find it difficult to sustain a vibrant middle class. T h e A m e r i c a n dream o f d e c e n t jobs and livable wages could vanish i n our t i m e . I heard Lyndon J o h n s o n talk a great deal about t h a t dream b a c k in t h e 1 9 6 0 s . I was a young assistant to t h e president. He h a d b e e n a s c h o o l t e a c h e r and often talked about his own e x p e r i e n c e in a classroom of poor kids. N o w he was president, and almost forty-two years ago to this day, I heard h i m deliver a speech describing A m e r i c a as a land of towering e x p e c t a t i o n s . T h i s was to be a n a t i o n , he said, where e a c h c i t izen "could be ruled by the c o m m o n c o n s e n t of a l l — e n s h r i n e d in law, given life by institutions, guided by m e n themselves subject to its rule." A l l people of every station a n d origin, President J o h n s o n said, "would be t o u c h e d equally in o b l i g a t i o n and in liberty."

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It was an e l o q u e n t speech. B u t L B J was n o t o n l y e l o q u e n t t h a t day, he was adamant. As he spoke A m e r i c a was engaged in a mighty struggle in t h e streets, in t h e corridors of Congress, a n d across t h e country to c o n s u m m a t e t h e e x p e c t a t i o n s of all A m e r i c a n s for equal t r e a t m e n t under t h e law. T h e C i v i l R i g h t s A c t o f 1 9 6 4 had n o t b e e n law a year, and t h e resistance was fierce across t h e S o u t h to o p e n i n g public a c c o m m o dations to a race t h a t had b e e n forced to sit in t h e b a c k of t h e bus, in t h e b a l c o n y of t h e theaters, and on rough b e n c h e s in poorly lit, poorly h e a t e d , a n d poorly funded schools. It t o o k some audacity to talk about j u s t i c e for all people of every station and origin, t h e " i m m e n s e thrill of discovery" t h a t should be every A m e r i c a n ' s birthright, and A m e r i c a as a " h o m e for freedom," w h e n in fact we h a d n o t c o m e to grips with t h e profound c o n t r a d i c t i o n a t t h e h e a r t o f t h e A m e r i c a n e x p e r i e n c e . B u t w h e n Lyndon J o h n s o n talked about A m e r i c a as a land of towering e x p e c t a t i o n s , h e k n e w t h a t t h e difference b e t w e e n t h e promise and t h e reality was a scar across A m e r i c a ' s c o n s c i e n c e . We h a d a long way to go, and he intended t h a t day to give us a push. T h i s was t h e speech t h e president delivered w h e n h e signed t h e H i g h e r E d u c a t i o n A c t o f 1 9 6 5 . T h i s historic legislation was t h e first providing college scholarships to h i g h - s c h o o l graduates as well as support for libraries and faculty d e v e l o p m e n t . T h o s e provisions for e d u c a t i o n were about just i c e — i n t e n d e d to h e l p fulfill what L B J called t h e "fair e x p e c t a t i o n s " inh e r e n t i n t h e D e c l a r a t i o n o f I n d e p e n d e n c e and t h e C o n s t i t u t i o n . B a b y b o o m e r s were about to stream into h i g h e r e d u c a t i o n far b e yond t h e capacity o f t h e institutions t o h a n d l e t h e m . S o m e 5 0 p e r c e n t of c o l l e g e libraries didn't m e e t m i n i m u m standards for t h e i r c o l l e c t i o n s . Y e t this seemed like m i n o r upkeep compared to t h e social, racial, and class divide i n h i g h e r e d u c a t i o n . T h e rate o f college a t t e n d a n c e for h i g h e r - i n c o m e households was more t h a n twice t h a t for l o w e r - i n c o m e households. A n d m a n y o f those a t t h e b o t t o m w h o got t o college didn't m a k e it through t h e first year because of financial distress. W h e n L B J signed t h e bill, nearly h a l f of all h i g h - s c h o o l graduates were n o t going to college, hundreds of thousands because of financial n e e d . B u t n o w a h i g h - s c h o o l graduate admitted to c o l l e g e could get up to $ 1 , 0 0 0 a year

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in federal grant money, as m u c h as $ 4 0 0 a year in work-study funds, and interest-free loans. M a n y of t h e people I k n e w in W a s h i n g t o n at t h e t i m e had g o n e to c o l l e g e o n t h e G I B i l l . W h a t ' s b e e n largely forgotten i s t h a t t h e n u m e r ous e d u c a t i o n programs of t h e GI B i l l were n o t m u c h less discriminatory t h a n t h e society soldiers returned to in 1 9 4 6 . A f t e r t h e war, only 4 perc e n t o f all college students enrolled through t h e G I B i l l were b l a c k v e t erans. T h i r t y p e r c e n t of all veterans in t h e S o u t h at t h e t i m e were b l a c k , but only 8 p e r c e n t of participants in o n - t h e - j o b training programs were; 8 6 p e r c e n t o f t h e professional j o b s filled b y t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s Employm e n t S e r v i c e in Mississippi after t h e war were h e l d by whites, while 92 p e r c e n t of t h e low-wage m e n i a l jobs were filled by blacks. T h e e n d pattern was clear: for whites, t h e GI B i l l was a powerful m o t o r for upward mobility. B y 1 9 5 5 , 4 1 p e r c e n t o f W W I I veterans were professionals, forem e n , or skilled workers. B u t few b l a c k veterans found a place in this success story. In those days, affirmative a c t i o n was for whites only. I m i g h t still be working for t h e grocery store in t h e small T e x a s t o w n where I grew up were it n o t for affirmative a c t i o n for S o u t h e r n w h i t e boys. B y 1 9 6 5 , A m e r i c a h a d waged C i v i l W a r and survived t h e G r e a t D e pression, but we were still confronting J i m C r o w — a l l in order to fulfill t h e ideals of freedom and c o m m o n welfare inscribed in our founding d o c u m e n t s . We faced what we t h o u g h t at t h e t i m e was t h e last great hurdle i n this struggle. W h e n h e signed t h e H i g h e r E d u c a t i o n A c t , L B J pleaded with A m e r i c a n s to h e e d t h e destiny it was m e a n t to secure:

W h e n you look into the faces of your students and your children and your grandchildren, tell them that you were there when it began. Tell them that a promise has been made to them. Tell them that the leadership of your country believes it is the obligation of your Nation to provide and permit and assist every child born in these borders to receive all the education that he can take.

Everywhere we turn today, we h e a r about e d u c a t i o n needs and t h e global e c o n o m y . T h e r e is n o t an e c o n o m i s t or p o l i t i c i a n — r i g h t , left, or

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c e n t e r — w h o does n o t say t h a t e d u c a t i o n is c r i t i c a l if A m e r i c a is to c o m pete a t t h e h i g h e n d o f t h e n e w global e c o n o m y . T h e r e were already glimmers of such t h i n k i n g in those e d u c a t i o n programs we e n a c t e d in t h e 1 9 6 0 s . B u t Lyndon J o h n s o n was n o prophet o f t h e so-called k n o w l edge e c o n o m y . T h a t sort o f t e c h n o c r a t i c ideal wasn't t h e real m o t i v a t i o n for what he was trying to a c c o m p l i s h b a c k t h e n . A n d it doesn't e x p l a i n t h e rare political courage t h a t J o h n s o n needed to do what he did. He did what he did because he believed in affirmative a c t i o n for poor c h i l d r e n . A n d h e believed i t should include h i g h e r e d u c a t i o n . T h i s is n o t simply a p o i g n a n t detail about President J o h n s o n . It is about a president w h o did more t h a n a n y o n e else to establish federal aid to education, w h o was h i m s e l f educated at a small teacher's c o l l e g e — S o u t h w e s t T e x a s S t a t e in S a n M a r c o s . T h i s was hardly t h e ideal setting or t h e best c r e d e n t i a l for l a u n c h i n g a political career, but it was t h e k i n d of place o n e could go to get a sense of w h e t h e r t h e A m e r i c a n dream h a d a political future. J o h n s o n , a b o r n politician, apparently learned t h a t it did w h e n he was t h e r e . A year or two out of college, with some t e a c h ing under his belt, he w e n t directly i n t o politics where he r e m a i n e d for t h e rest of his life. B a c k t h e n , t h e A m e r i c a n dream was a simple proposition, o n e widely taught and just as widely denied: from small beginnings you could a c h i e v e a secure life and liberty and pursue happiness if you worked hard and had t h e will to succeed. J o h n s o n called it, simply, j u s t i c e , and it was as close to a n a t i o n a l creed as a free people pledged to religious liberty h a d ever had. You c a n imagine t h e relish i n w h i c h Lyndon J o h n s o n traveled b a c k t o T e x a s t o sign t h e H i g h e r E d u c a t i o n A c t a t his old teacher's c o l l e g e . He talked about his first t e a c h i n g j o b in t h e little t o w n of C o t u l l a , south o f S a n A n t o n i o . Forty years later and through countless political battles those c h i l d r e n r e m a i n e d a fixture of his political vision. He repeatedly acknowledged what he h a d learned from t h e m , and what he felt for t h e m i n all t h e years s i n c e . N o w h e could finally h o n o r t h e m . N o w h e could give t h e m s o m e portion o f t h e e d u c a t i o n a l opportunities w h i c h he first understood to be t h e most sacred pledge of d e m o c r a c y w h e n he " l o o k e d in their eyes," as he often said—there in t h a t segregated " M e x -

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i c a n " s c h o o l in a b a c k w a t e r of backwaters, rural, impoverished, darkskinned C o t u l l a , T e x a s . He believed passionately t h a t e d u c a t i o n was t h e great overriding power t h a t could throw down t h e m a n - m a d e d o m i n i o n s of racial caste and social class. In a n o t h e r speech t h a t same year—this o n e signing t h e V o t i n g R i g h t s A c t — h e talked about how clearing prejudice and m a t e rial want from t h e p a t h of e a c h c h i l d was a sacred aim of g o v e r n m e n t , and h e m e a n t t o k e e p t h e faith. L B J would be delighted today t h a t A m e r i c a n s , in huge majorities, still share this great spirit of assistance and o v e r c o m i n g : a r e c e n t survey found 93 p e r c e n t of A m e r i c a n s agreeing t h a t "we should h e l p people w h o are working hard to o v e r c o m e disadvantages and succeed in life." A n d 72 p e r c e n t disagreed t h a t "some people are b o r n poor and there's n o t h i n g we c a n do about that." O n l y a fringe of 16 p e r c e n t believes t h a t "we shouldn't give special help at all, e v e n to those w h o started out with more disadvantages t h a n most." B u t he would be disturbed at how t h o s e attitudes are n o t shaping public policy. C o l l e g e e n r o l l m e n t s are far out of sync with majority public o p i n i o n o n opportunity and t h e role o f g o v e r n m e n t . F o r e x a m p l e , African A m e r i c a n s and Hispanics are only about 6 p e r c e n t of t h e freshm a n classes of t h e 1 4 6 most selective four-year colleges today while 74 p e r c e n t of t h e students at t h e most s e l e c t i v e colleges c o m e from families in t h e top quarter of t h e family i n c o m e s c a l e . Just 3 p e r c e n t c o m e from t h e b o t t o m quarter and only 10 p e r c e n t from roughly t h e b o t t o m half. S i n c e t h e R e a g a n revolution almost thirty years ago, t h e value of federal tuition aid, like t h e m i n i m u m wage and o t h e r key forms of public assistance, has plummeted. In the m i d - 1 9 7 0 s , t h e m a x i m u m Pell G r a n t for l o w - i n c o m e families c o v e r e d about 4 0 p e r c e n t o f private c o l lege t u i t i o n costs. Today it covers only 15 p e r c e n t . For public schools, t h e value has dropped from 6 0 p e r c e n t o f tuition t o 4 0 p e r c e n t . T h e c o m p o s i t i o n of student financial aid has c h a n g e d radically as scholarship aid has d e c l i n e d . Today about 58 p e r c e n t of student aid is in t h e form of loans and 41 p e r c e n t is grant money. T h a t ratio is essentially t h e reverse of what it was thirty years ago.

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I w a n t to m a k e a b r i e f detour h e r e . As a journalist 1 follow t h e efforts to deal with legal restrictions on affirmative a c t i o n and in some states outright bans. W h e n affirmative a c t i o n was b a n n e d in t h e California public institutions by voter referendum in 1 9 9 6 , A f r i c a n A m e r i c a n e n r o l l m e n t i n t h e most selective universities plunged. A t U C L A i t i s now at its lowest p o i n t in thirty years, about 2 p e r c e n t of total enrollm e n t there. A c r o s s t h e whole U n i v e r s i t y o f California system, b l a c k e n r o l l m e n t is only 3 . 4 p e r c e n t today. M i c h i g a n now faces t h e same situation, t h e state of W a s h i n g t o n , t o o , and ballot efforts in o t h e r states are being t h r e a t e n e d . It's n o secret t h a t t h e so-called A m e r i c a n C i v i l R i g h t s Initiative, w h i c h has b e e n pushing these ballot efforts, is a darling of right-wing foundations, all catalysts of t h e white b a c k l a s h to t h e civil rights m o v e m e n t . B u t I b e t e v e n they were surprised w h e n o n e of their leading spokesmen, W a r d Connerly, a c c e p t e d t h e e n d o r s e m e n t o f t h e K u K l u x K l a n for his M i c h i g a n ballot initiative, saying: " I f t h e Ku K l u x K l a n thinks t h a t equality is right, G o d bless t h e m . " O n e of t h e great injuries to fairness in A m e r i c a is this idea, increasingly c o m m o n p l a c e , t h a t bann i n g efforts to create racial diversity in important institutions is a defense of equality. C o n n e r l y also reveals a more perverse side to this crusade w h e n he says t h a t if schools and o t h e r institutions b e c o m e less diverse without affirmative a c t i o n , it's okay because people c a n m i x together in o t h e r venues, such as t h e racetrack. As s o m e o n e who "frequents t h e r a c e t r a c k " himself, he says he enjoys being "thrown in with people from all around t h e globe." B u t n o t h i n g trumps t h e c y n i c i s m of J o h n Fund in The Wall Street Journal, standing in for a whole g e n e r a t i o n of reactionaries who h a v e sought to stamp t h e bleak persisting reality of racial segregation in A m e r i c a with t h e seal of " c o n s t i t u t i o n a l " approval, as newly "colorblind" admissions policies take h o l d in educational institutions. " M i c h i gan voters struck a blow for equality this m o n t h , " Fund wrote after t h e b a n on affirmative a c t i o n passed in t h a t state with 58 p e r c e n t of t h e v o t e last fall. He e v e n compared U n i v e r s i t y of M i c h i g a n president Mary S u e

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C o l e m a n to G e o r g e W a l l a c e w h e n she declared, after the v o t e , that "diversity matters at M i c h i g a n . It matters today, and it will m a t t e r tomorrow." W h a t W a l l a c e had said was: "Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, and segregation forever." W h a t kind of degraded discourse permits such distortion of values and i n t e n t ? T h o s e who try to c r e a t e more diversity in h i g h e r e d u c a t i o n are likened to white segregationists who denied e v e n basic civil rights to African A m e r i c a n s and others for generations, and w h e n t h a t failed simply used terror. You h a v e to wonder what motivates such desperate revisionism in t h e minds of so d o m i n a n t a class. In Whitewashing Race, A n g e l a Harris describes t h e devastating political logic of such arguments well:

As the legal structures that continue to disadvantage people of color become increasingly "race-neutral" in a constitutional sense, the moral model of discrimination facilitates both the denunciation of bigotry and the maintenance of existing distributions of wealth and power.

T h e reactionaries k n o w what they are doing. T h e y e m b r a c e t h e n o t i o n of an A m e r i c a ruled by elites served by everyone else. A n d they k n o w t h a t m o r e t h a n ever, college admissions are a key gatekeeper of wealth and power in A m e r i c a . In 1 9 8 0 , if you o b t a i n e d a graduate degree you earned about $ 5 0 , 0 0 0 a year on average; by 2 0 0 0 you were earning $ 7 0 , 0 0 0 w i t h t h e same kind o f degree; o v e r t h e same period those w i t h b a c h e l o r degrees saw their i n c o m e rise from about $ 4 0 , 0 0 0 to $ 5 0 , 0 0 0 . In contrast, h i g h - s c h o o l graduates saw no gain in i n c o m e , and those without h i g h - s c h o o l diplomas saw their i n c o m e drop. T h e figures from t h e Census Bureau estimate that college graduates will earn about $ 2 . 5 million over their lifetimes in today's dollars, compared with $ 1 . 5 m i l l i o n for h i g h - s c h o o l graduates. Clearly, college education, indeed graduate educ a t i o n , has b e e n critical to upward mobility today. Yet lower-income households remain far less likely to send children to college t h a n upper-

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i n c o m e households—precisely the recipe for keeping poor households poor and rich ones rich. A n d precisely t h e opposite of Lyndon J o h n s o n ' s ideal of helping everyone realize "the fair e x p e c t a t i o n s " of a life. As affirmative a c t i o n is b a n n e d in o n e place after a n o t h e r , on t h e grounds of promoting "equality," legacy admissions thrive as t h e means of a c h i e v i n g t h e two-tier s o c i e t y — o f r i c h investors served by poor worke r s — t h a t cause class warriors to salivate. In this worldview t h e mediocre children of r i c h alumni are m u c h more deserving of special t r e a t m e n t t h a n t h e descendants of slaves and sharecroppers struggling to m a k e their way up. G e o r g e W. Bush is t h e poster boy of special handling. O u r president opposes affirmative a c t i o n and was appalled at t h e M i c h i g a n undergraduate admissions program t h a t awarded points if a candidate was b l a c k or Hispanic or N a t i v e A m e r i c a n . I wonder what he thought while rehearsing t h a t line in t h e mirror as he shaved in t h e morning. I wonder, too, about t h e person who lost t h e spot they gave G e o r g e W. at Yale, solely for his n a m e . W h a t if she were president today? W i l l i a m B o w e n argues t h a t t h e preference system Bush enjoyed on his way to the W h i t e House serves to "reproduce t h e h i g h - i n c o m e / h i g h education/white profile" of leading colleges and universities, providing t h e offspring of elites like Bush a perpetual trust fund of power, place, and privilege. We c a n ' t e v e n kid ourselves about seeking to release t h e talents of every A m e r i c a n from every c o n d i t i o n of life until we're h o n est about t h e privileges of t h e rich and t h e corruption such privileges breed in policy and t h e law. You will want to read t h e b o o k by Isabel S a w h i l l and S a r a M c L a n a han, The Future of Children. T h e y remind us t h a t t h e A m e r i c a n ideal of a classless society was "one in w h i c h all children h a v e a roughly equal c h a n c e o f success regardless o f t h e e c o n o m i c status o f t h e family into which they were born." You'll want to read t h e work of t h e e c o n o m i s t Jeffrey Madrick, who reminds us t h a t o n c e upon a time only 20 p e r c e n t of one's future i n c o m e was determined by t h e i n c o m e of one's father. N e w research suggests t h a t t h e level of a father's i n c o m e today determines 60 percent of a son's i n c o m e . In o t h e r words, children no longer h a v e a roughly equal c h a n c e of success regardless of t h e e c o n o m i c status

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of t h e family i n t o w h i c h they are born. S m a l l wonder t h a t in 2 0 0 1 — 2 0 0 2 , a c c o r d i n g t o t h e research organization D e m o s , m o r e t h a n 4 0 0 , 0 0 0 l o w - i n c o m e h i g h - s c h o o l graduates w h o were qualified to a t t e n d c o l l e g e did n o t enroll in a four-year c o l l e g e , and 1 6 8 , 0 0 0 did n o t enroll in c o l lege at all. O v e r a decade t h a t trend m e a n s millions of qualified students will n o t g o t o c o l l e g e . G a p s i n e n r o l l m e n t b e t w e e n l o w - i n c o m e families and h i g h - i n c o m e families are as great as they were thirty years ago. Your c h a n c e s of success are greatly improved if you were b o r n on third base and your father has b e e n tipping t h e umpire. In t h e face of t h a t brewing perfect storm, we are witnessing a slow mortgaging of our future. O u r leaders h a v e c o n v i n c e d working A m e r i c a n s t h a t while there may be little we c a n do to p r o t e c t t h e m from t h e loss o f good and secure jobs, t h e i r c h i l d r e n c a n a c h i e v e t h e A m e r i c a n dream, or at least a c h i e v e a middle-class life, if t h e y graduate from c o l lege. So across every race and class, parents are putting m o r e and more energy i n t o and pressure on their c h i l d r e n to insure t h a t they are eligible for a d v a n c e d e d u c a t i o n . Yet t h e c o s t of tuition at public universities is soaring—up 42 perc e n t over five years. S t a t e g o v e r n m e n t s are slowly reducing t h e p e r c e n t age of t h e c o s t t h a t they provide to colleges; on a per-pupil basis, state support for public universities is at a twenty-five-year low, and t u i t i o n has more t h a n doubled. B e t w e e n 1 9 9 4 and 2 0 0 4 , states h a v e shifted financial-aid resources from need-based aid to merit-based aid, seeking to attract high-performing students. N o n - n e e d aid has more t h a n doubled, t o 2 7 p e r c e n t o f t o t a l state aid. Yes, we are witnessing t h e silent privatization of public universities. W e are pricing college out o f t h e r e a c h o f more and more poor families. I n 2 0 0 6 , t h e R e p u b l i c a n congress t o o k $ 1 2 b i l l i o n out o f student l o a n funds—the largest single c u t from discretionary s p e n d i n g — a n d used it to h e l p pay for t h e c o s t of t h e t a x cuts for t h e wealthiest A m e r i c a n s . D e m o c r a t s h a v e promised to reverse t h a t and to c u t interest rates in half. A bill to a c h i e v e t h a t — b u t only over five years—has passed t h e House. A S e n a t e bill with m o r e ambitious provisions is n o w pending. B u t n e i t h e r of these c o m e s close to m a k i n g college affordable for all

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who h a v e earned admission. N e i t h e r represents t h e clarion c o m m i t m e n t to t h e n e x t g e n e r a t i o n t h a t they will h a v e the opportunity to gain t h e e d u c a t i o n they deserve. N e i t h e r suggests t h a t A m e r i c a is going to ensure t h a t public i n v e s t m e n t will m a k e advanced training and e d u c a t i o n a c cessible to all. W h o knows where it will end? In 1 9 9 3 one-third of students graduated with debt; in 2 0 0 4 , two-thirds. T h e average student debt burden is almost 6 0 p e r c e n t h i g h e r t h a n i t was i n t h e m i d - 1 9 9 0 s . T h i s debt makes public-service j o b s less and less affordable, as graduating students c a n no longer afford to e n t e r c o m m u n i t y organizing, teaching, nursing, and o t h e r helping v o c a t i o n s . A c c o r d i n g t o t h e C o l l e g e Board, t h e total v o l ume of private student loans has grown at an average rate of 27 p e r c e n t per year s i n c e 2 0 0 1 , and n o w totals $ 1 7 . 3 billion, o r 2 0 p e r c e n t o f all student-loan volume. S o m e private loans carry interest rates as h i g h as 19 p e r c e n t — c o m p a r e d to 6 . 8 p e r c e n t for loans through t h e g o v e r n m e n t programs. Elizabeth W a r r e n , t h e Harvard law professor who is an expert on household debt and bankruptcy law, told The Wall Street Journal t h a t "student loan c o l l e c t o r s h a v e power t h a t would m a k e a m o b s t e r e n v i ous." O n l y s o m e o n e who is "totally, p e r m a n e n t l y disabled" has a c h a n c e of escaping their grip. T h o u s a n d s of others w h o do n o t m e e t that standard but h a v e o t h e r kinds of real problems struggle to find relief—people like Lori S i l e r of Westfield, Indiana. S h e told h e r story to a columnist at M S N Money, and it isn't a happy o n e . In 1 9 9 9 she dropped out of Purdue U n i v e r s i t y carrying t h e m a x i m u m a m o u n t o f federal loans, $ 4 6 , 0 0 0 . H e r unpaid debt exploded t o more t h a n $ 1 0 0 , 0 0 0 . S h e has two c h i l d r e n and earns $ 3 2 , 0 0 0 a year as a secretary, and h e r lender wants h e r to pay a quarter of her m o n t h l y w a g e s — $ 6 5 0 a m o n t h — f o r the n e x t thirty-five years. M e a n w h i l e , S a l l i e M a e , t h e country's largest student-loan lender, now touts debt m a n a g e m e n t operations (a euphemism for c o l l e c t i n g on d e l i n q u e n t and defaulted loans) as a key c o m p o n e n t of its earnings growth. A c c o r d i n g to Fortune magazine, fee-based revenue a c c o u n t s for about 3 0 p e r c e n t o f S a l l i e Mae's business. A s t h e share price o f t h e c o m -

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pany rose precipitously over t h e last decade, top e x e c u t i v e s e x t r a c t e d hundreds o f millions o f dollars i n s t o c k options. B e t w e e n t h e m t h e c h a i r m a n and C E O made $ 3 6 7 m i l l i o n b e t w e e n 1 9 9 9 and 2 0 0 4 . T h e s e e x e c u t i v e s are reaping t h e benefits of rising t u i t i o n costs t h a t force students to assume larger and larger debt burdens. T h e average student n o w graduates with about $ 1 9 , 0 0 0 worth of debt, more t h a n double t h e average level in 1 9 9 3 . C o n s i d e r what they're up against as they m o v e out i n t o the larger society, where t h e e c o n o m i c growth has b e e n distributed upward for two decades now. I n 1 9 8 9 , C E O s o f large A m e r i c a n c o m p a n i e s earned 7 1 times more t h a n t h e average worker. L a s t year, t h e average C E O made roughly $ 1 0 . 8 m i l l i o n . T h e Federal R e s e r v e reports t h a t 1 0 p e r c e n t o f i n c o m e earners n o w o w n 70 p e r c e n t of t h e wealth, and t h e wealthiest 1 p e r c e n t own more t h a n t h e b o t t o m 9 5 p e r c e n t . I n 2 0 0 5 , t h e top 7 0 0 , 0 0 0 A m e r i c a n s enjoyed about t h e same share o f t h e n a t i o n a l i n c o m e — 2 1 8 p e r c e n t — a s t h e b o t t o m 1 5 0 m i l l i o n . S u c h disparities open wider t h e advantage of c o l l e g e to heirs of t h e top, e v e n as working people h a v e to take on great burdens to make it to c o l l e g e , stay in, and pay off t h e loans. T h e e c o n o m i s t Paul Krugman illustrates what's b e e n h a p p e n i n g by imagining a line of 1 , 0 0 0 people who represent t h e entire population of A m e r i c a . T h e y are standing i n ascending order o f i n c o m e , with t h e poorest person o n t h e left a n d t h e richest person o n t h e right. T h e i r h e i g h t is proportional to their i n c o m e — t h e r i c h e r they are, t h e taller they are. S t a r t with 1 9 7 3 . If you assume t h a t a h e i g h t of 6 feet represents t h e average i n c o m e in t h a t year, t h e person on t h e far left side of the l i n e — representing those A m e r i c a n s living in e x t r e m e poverty—is o n l y 16 inches tall. By t h e t i m e you get to the guy at t h e e x t r e m e right, he towers o v e r t h e line at more t h a n 1 1 3 feet. N o w take 2 0 0 5 . T h e average h e i g h t has grown from 6 feet to 8 feet, reflecting t h e modest growth in average i n c o m e s over t h e past generation. A n d t h e poorest people on t h e left side of t h e line h a v e grown at

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about t h e same rate as those n e a r t h e m i d d l e — t h e gap b e t w e e n t h e middle class and t h e poor, in o t h e r words, hasn't c h a n g e d . B u t people to t h e right h a v e b e e n on steroids: t h e figure at t h e e n d of t h e line is n o w 5 6 0 feet t a l l — a l m o s t 5 times taller t h a n his 1 9 7 3 counterpart. We h a v e c o m e to a c r i t i c a l m o m e n t in our long self-fashioning as a d e m o c r a t i c people. On January 1, 2 0 0 5 , The Economist warned:

A growing body of evidence suggests that the meritocratic ideal is in trouble in America. Income inequality is growing to levels not seen since the Gilded Age, around the 1880s. But social mobility is not increasing at anything like the same pace . .. Everywhere you look in modern America—in the Hollywood Hills or the canyons of Wall Street, in the Nashville recording studios or the clapboard houses of Cambridge, Massachusetts—you see elites mastering the art of perpetuating themselves. America is increasingly looking like imperial Britain, with dynastic ties proliferating, social circles interlocking, mechanisms of social exclusion strengthening and a gap widening between the people who make decisions and shape the culture and the vast majority of ordinary working stiffs.

It is impossible as a reporter to ignore t h e c o n s e q u e n c e s — t o w n s und o n e by p l a n t closings, families u n d o n e by debt or m e d i c a l bills or prison. Upward mobility is stalled—a well-hidden fact in t h e mass m e dia but easy to recognize if you just sit down and talk with people in their living rooms. T h e y will describe a big difference today in how t h e risks of life are b o r n e . D e b t and risk and insecurity flourish in isolated towns and in families, in dark nights of worry and hopeless dawns. We used to p o o l t h e risks of life in public systems t h a t bore t h e brunt of such forces. No more. T h e British journalist Godfrey Hodgson has b e e n observing A m e r ica for forty years. He writes t h a t "great and growing inequality has b e e n t h e most salient social fact about t h e A m e r i c a o f t h e c o n s e r v a t i v e ascendancy." A n d yet our political system and media institutions h a v e d o n e

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little to c h a l l e n g e such division, while doing m u c h to reward it and simply to deny its e x i s t e n c e .

W h i l e you are in B o s t o n this weekend, walk t h e Freedom Trail. C o n template h o w long a struggle " W e t h e P e o p l e " h a v e had to wage to realize t h e citizen power i n h e r e n t in d e m o c r a c y — a n d h o w far we still h a v e to go. Ever since A m e r i c a n s declared for i n d e p e n d e n c e in 1 7 7 6 , t h e m e a n i n g o f t h e word h a s b e e n c o n t e s t e d . " T h e shepherd drives t h e w o l f from t h e sheep's throat, for w h i c h t h e sheep thanks t h e shepherd as a liberator, while t h e w o l f d e n o u n c e s h i m for t h e same a c t as t h e destroyer of liberty." President L i n c o l n said this i n 1 8 6 4 - N o o n e listening made any mistake about who was t h e wolf. It was t h e slave power. B u t t h e truly disturbing thing was n o t what slavery did—that was c l e a r — b u t w h a t it c l a i m e d t o b e , namely, a n institution worthy o f p r o t e c t i o n under A m e r i c a n principles of freedom. L i n c o l n said t h e same conflict of m e a n i n g e x isted in t h e N o r t h , b e t w e e n workers and employers—"all professing to love liberty." W h e n our forebears declared for i n d e p e n d e n c e from t h e monarchy, they put freedom on a new moral foundation: t h e assertion t h a t all are created equal. But what of this self-evident truth in a highly stratified, e v e n segregated society, where people c a n reside in t h e same city but a c tually live, b r e a t h e , learn, work, and die in two entirely different worlds? You r e m e m b e r G e o r g e Orwell's sharp rejoinder i n Animal F a r m : A L L A N IMALS A R E CREATED EQUAL,

reads a sign in t h e barnyard. B u t w h e n some

decide they'd rather h a v e power over o t h e r s t h a n live t o g e t h e r i n c o m m o n , t h e sign is amended: OTHERS.

B U T SOME ANIMALS A R E MORE EQUAL T H A N

More equal than others. T h a t must h a v e a familiar ring to college

administrators like you who see t o o m a n y young people turned around at t h e gateways to a b e t t e r life. U n a b l e to deny t h e obvious facts of growing inequality, c o n s e r v a t i v e elites t o o k to gloating about t h e public's seeming t o l e r a n c e for this situation. T h e y boasted t h a t we no longer care about equality or at least no

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longer t h i n k it's a public problem. Godfrey H o d g s o n writes h o w t h e rea c t i o n a r y narrative offered c o r r o b o r a t i n g subplots to bolster it against reality. T h e s e were deployed with ruthless efficiency by a well-funded ideological c o m m a n d structure in W a s h i n g t o n and a c o m p l i a n t establ i s h m e n t media. T h e first subplot, in t h e 1 9 8 0 s , was t h e collapse of c o m m u n i s m , interpreted n o t as a triumph of d e m o c r a c y — n o t e v e n t h e happiest c o l d warrior could c l a i m t h a t t h e result was d e m o c r a t i c — b u t r a t h e r as a vind i c a t i o n o f A m e r i c a n - s t y l e free-market capitalism. T h e s e c o n d subplot was t h e growing flood of c h e a p imported goods in t h e 1 9 9 0 s , w h i c h c r e ated a sense of more purchasing power e v e n as skyrocketing h e a l t h and e d u c a t i o n and r e t i r e m e n t costs made millions increasingly vulnerable to e c o n o m i c ruin. T h e third subplot was t h e l a t e - 1 9 9 0 s s t o c k b u b b l e and t h e n t h e housing bubble, w h i c h kept t h e e c o n o m y afloat e v e n as real wages stagnated and n a t i o n a l savings w e n t i n t o t h e negative. T h e result was to h i d e t h e strategy to perpetuate plutocracy disguised as democracy. B u t as you walk t h e F r e e d o m Trail this weekend, r e m e m b e r t h a t there h a v e b e e n m o m e n t s like this throughout our history and leaders w h o seized t h e m to c h a m p i o n our fundamental ideals. W o o d r o w W i l son, for o n e — t h e only professional educator with a P h D to occupy the O v a l Office. I n his c a m p a i g n o f 1 9 1 2 , with t h e born-again progressive Teddy R o o s e v e l t b r e a t h i n g fire under his feet, W i l s o n captured a m o m e n t and a spirit quite similar to t h e c h a n g e s we feel c o m i n g today. He didn't trim his sails on t h e scale of w h a t was needed, or fail to specify t h e danger we were in and w h o was to b l a m e for it. " W h y are we in t h e prese n c e , why are we at t h e threshold, of a r e v o l u t i o n ? " he asked. " B e c a u s e we are profoundly disturbed by t h e influences w h i c h we see reigning in t h e d e t e r m i n a t i o n of our public life and our public policy." L i k e t h e guardians of privilege today, t h e people in power, W i l s o n said, o n l y c a r e for principles w h e n it benefits t h e m to do so. T h e y are all for declaring equality with T h o m a s Jefferson, and e v e n equality under law with M a r t i n L u t h e r K i n g . B u t , in W i l s o n ' s words, "they h a v e no consciousness of t h e war for freedom t h a t is going on to-day." A century ago W i l s o n ran for president on a simple moral premise:

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t h e n e e d for fundamental c h a n g e and t h e basis for doing so in t h e values we h o l d dear. " W h a t form does t h e c o n t e s t b e t w e e n tyranny and freedom take to-day?" he asked. " W h a t are to be t h e items of our n e w d e c l a r a t i o n o f i n d e p e n d e n c e ? " A r i s t o c r a c y was g o n e . T h e slave power fell. B u t a new tyranny loomed:

By tyranny, as we now fight it, we mean control of the law, of legislation and adjudication, by organizations which do not represent the people, by means which are private and selfish. We mean, specifically, the conduct of our affairs and the shaping of our legislation in the interest of special bodies of capital and those who organize their use. We mean the alliance, for this purpose, of political machines with selfish business. We mean the exploitation of the people by legal and political means.

T h e great e n m i t y against h u m a n dignity and t h e destiny o f d e m o c racy t h a t W i l s o n saw all around h i m was n e v e r so nakedly exposed as it had b e e n in t h e first G i l d e d A g e whose devastating effects b o t h T h e o dore R o o s e v e l t and W o o d r o w W i l s o n h a d to answer. A century later, t h e words of t h a t era o n c e again e c h o clearly, just as t h e cry of t h e sharecropper and t h e former slave b e c a m e o n e i n Lyndon J o h n s o n ' s eyes. T h e trapped miner, t h e gang-raped maid, t h e stooped migrant fruit picker, t h e unemployed autoworker, t h e h o m e l e s s v e t e r a n — t h e very n o t i o n o f " W e t h e P e o p l e " makes t h e i r struggle o n e cause, o n e h o p e , and o n e dream. "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere," M a r t i n L u t h e r K i n g Jr. wrote from a j a i l in B i r m i n g h a m , A l a b a m a . " W e are caught in an inescapable web of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. W h a t e v e r affects o n e directly, affects all indirectly." K i n g subp o e n e d t h e nation's c o n s c i e n c e . He was killed for it. R i g h t n o w A m e r i c a ' s c o n s c i e n c e asks us to consider o n e basic t h i n g amid a vast array of c h a l l e n g e s : t h e escalating plight of ordinary A m e r i cans, searching for dignity a n d fairness in a world where g o v e r n m e n t s side w i t h t h e predators of privilege. You h a v e a role in this fight. I c a n imagine h o w hard it is to take re-

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sponsibility for what you do in an age of new e d u c a t i o n a l "business models" a n d high-stakes d e v e l o p m e n t campaigns. A n d I imagine it is e v e n harder if you care about equality of opportunity in A m e r i c a . B u t we c a n take h e a r t from our knowledge o f A m e r i c a n history. T h e egalitarian roots o f this country run deep. T h e t i m e has c o m e t o r e c l a i m those r o o t s — t o resurrect t h e revolution t h a t h e l d out "life, liberty, a n d t h e pursuit o f happiness" for all. T h e t i m e has c o m e t o raise h e l l until A m e r ica squares its performance with its promise.

9.

| F A R E W E L L TO L A D Y BIRD Eulogy

for

December

22,

Lady

Bird

1912-July

14,

J U L Y

Johnson, 11,

2007

2 0 0 7

For a long time Lady Bird Johnson and I had seen less of each other than either of us wished.

But 1 had left the White House two years before her hus-

band

I

had

strained to Mrs.

thought

Johnson,

many years

should

the breaking point, I

learned,

earlier.

or

would,

and

my

relationship

with

him

was

for reasons neither he nor I wholly understood.

grieved over

the

situation.

We had been born in

She

the same

and

I

had bonded

East Texas county

(al-

though years apart), attended the same high school, and went to the same university,

where we

chronic

homesickness for our

friendships forged

both majored in journalism. a

nostalgia

roots, that

where was

power of race to divide and conquer.

We confessed

intimacies

hard

to

of nature,

explain

labored and plotted

given

culture,

and

the persistent

We also shared a deep affection for the

man she had married and who would become my mentor. I went to work for him.

to each other a

During my White House

together and occasionally

cried

I first met her when

years we had laughed and on each

other's

shoulder.

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BILL MOYERS

|

But my exit was abrupt and we didn't see each other for years. his death,

Then,

after

our paths began to cross again. After her stroke, which robbed her

of speech but not of her acute interest in public affairs, ful viewer of my

broadcasts,

she had been a faith-

listened to audiotapes of my speeches,

some of my writings read to her.

and had

She asked me to lay the wreath on LBJ's

grave at one of the ceremonies she held annually on his birthday.

It was on

that occasion she let me know that she wanted me to speak at her funeral. refused to let the thought of that inevitability take hold in my head. til three years death,

when I received the call that she was just hours from

did I take out my yellow pad and begin to write. At the service in

Austin first

a few

days

later,

ladies,

official

old

retainers,

causes, guardians her

later,

I

Not un-

final

and

looked out

scores

and

friends

from

strangers

for hours across long distances

on

veterans of Secret

then her friends,

days,

grandchildren,

I

families,

the

host

of mourners—presidents,

of

campaigns

Service

agents

and who

environmental had

been

her

the nurses and technicians who had attended across

whose

the

admiration

years,

grandchildren

had prompted

them

and

great-

to

drive

to be there—and realized there was one

thing

above all that 1 most wanted to say about Lady Bird Johnson.

* * *

It is u n t h i n k a b l e to me t h a t she is g o n e . Lady Bird was so m u c h a part of t h e landscape, so m u c h a part of our lives and our times, so m u c h a part of our country for so long t h a t I b e gan to imagine h e r with us always. Now, although t h e fields of purple, orange, and blue will long e v o k e h e r gifts to us, t h a t vibrant presence has departed, and we are left to mourn our loss e v e n as we c e l e b r a t e h e r life. S o m e people arriving earlier today were asked, " A r e you sitting with t h e family?" I looked around at this t h r o n g and said to myself, "Everyone here is sitting with t h e family. T h a t ' s h o w she would treat us. A l l of us." W h e n I arrived in W a s h i n g t o n in 1 9 5 4 , to work in S e n a t o r Lyndon J o h n s o n ' s m a i l r o o m b e t w e e n my sophomore a n d j u n i o r years, I didn't k n o w a single person in t o w n — n o t e v e n t h e J o h n s o n s , w h o m I only m e t t h a t first week. S h e soon recognized t h a t the weekends were especially

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l o n e s o m e f o r m e , and she c a l l e d o n e day t o ask m e o v e r f o r S u n d a y brunch. I h a d n e v e r e v e n heard of Sunday brunch, m u c h less b e e n to o n e ; for all I knew, it was an Episcopalian sacrament. W h e n I arrived at 3 0 t h P l a c e t h e family was t h e r e — t h e two little girls, Lady Bird, and himself. B u t s o were R i c h a r d Russell and S a m R a y b u r n and J . Edgar H o o v e r — didn't l o o k like Episcopal priests to m e . T h e y were sitting around t h e smallish r o o m reading t h e n e w s p a p e r — e x c e p t for L B J , w h o was o n t h e p h o n e . If this is their idea of a sacrament, I thought, I'll just stay a B a p tist. B u t Mrs. J o h n s o n k n e w s o m e t h i n g about t h e bachelors she h a d invited there, including t h e kid fresh up from h e r n a t i v e East T e x a s . On a S u n d a y m o r n i n g t h e y n e e d e d a family, and she h a d offered us c o m m u n i o n at h e r table. In a way, it was a sacrament. It was also very good politics. S h e told me s o m e t h i n g t h a t summer t h a t would make a difference in my life. S h e was shy, and in t h e presence of powerful m e n , she usually kept her c o u n s e l . S e n s i n g that I was shy, t o o , and aware t h a t I had no e x p e r i e n c e to enforce a n y opinions, she said, " D o n ' t worry. If you are unsure of what to say, just ask questions, and I promise you t h a t w h e n they leave, they will t h i n k you were t h e smartest o n e in t h e room, just for listening to t h e m . W o r d will get around." S h e k n e w t h e ways of t h e world, and how they could be made to work for you, e v e n w h e n you didn't fully understand what was going o n . S h e told m e o n c e , years later, t h a t s h e didn't e v e n understand everything about t h e m a n she h a d married—nor did she w a n t t o , she said, as long as he n e e d e d her. O h , h e needed her, all right. You k n o w t h e famous i n c i d e n t . O n c e , trying to l o c a t e h e r in a crowded r o o m , he growled aloud: " W h e r e ' s Lady Bird?" A n d she replied: " R i g h t b e h i n d you, darling, where I've always been." " W h o e v e r loves, believes t h e impossible," Elizabeth B a r r e t t B r o w n ing wrote. Lady Bird truly loved this m a n she often found impossible. " I ' m no more bewildered by Lyndon t h a n he is bewildered by himself," she o n c e told m e .

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L i k e e v e r y o n e he loved, she often found h e r s e l f in t h e path of his V e s u v i a n eruptions. During t h e c a m p a i g n of 1 9 6 0 I slept in t h e bed in t h e i r b a s e m e n t w h e n w e returned from t h e road for sessions o f t h e S e n ate. S h e k n e w 1 was l o n e s o m e for J u d i t h and our s i x - m o n t h - o l d son w h o were b a c k i n T e x a s . S h e would often c o m e down t h e two flights o f stairs to ask if I was doing all right. O n e n i g h t t h e senator and I got h o m e e v e n later t h a n usual. He brought with h i m some unresolved dispute from t h e S e n a t e c l o a k r o o m . A t m i d n i g h t I c o u l d still h e a r h i m upstairs, carrying on as if he were about to purge t h e entire D e m o c r a t i c caucus. Pretty s o o n I heard h e r footsteps on t h e stairs a n d I c a l l e d out: " M r s . J o h n s o n , you d o n ' t n e e d t o c h e c k u p o n m e . I ' m all right." A n d she called b a c k , " W e l l , I was c o m i n g down to tell you I'm all right, t o o . " S h e s e e m e d to grow c a l m e r as t h e world around h e r b e c a m e m o r e furious. T h u n d e r s t o r m s struck in h e r life so often, you h a d to wonder why t h e gods on Olympus kept testing her. S h e lost h e r m o t h e r in an a c c i dent w h e n she was five. S h e was two cars b e h i n d J F K in Dallas. S h e was i n t h e W h i t e H o u s e w h e n M a r t i n L u t h e r K i n g was shot a n d W a s h i n g t o n burned. S h e grieved for t h e family of R o b e r t Kennedy, and for t h e lives lost in V i e t n a m . Early in t h e W h i t e House, a well-meaning editor up from T e x a s said, "You poor thing, h a v i n g to follow J a c k i e Kennedy." Mrs. J o h n s o n ' s m o u t h dropped o p e n , in amazed disbelief. A n d she said, " O h , n o , d o n ' t pity m e . W e e p for Mrs. Kennedy. S h e lost h e r husband. I still h a v e my Lyndon." S h e aimed for t h e c o n s o l a t i o n and comfort of others. It was n o t only h e r t a l e n t at n e g o t i a t i n g t h e c i v i l war raging in his nature. It was n o t just t h e way she r e m a i n e d u n c o n s c r i p t e d by t h e factions into w h i c h family, friends, and advisers inevitably divide around a powerful figure. S h e did h e r best t o k e e p o p e n all t h e roads t o r e c o n c i l i a t i o n . L i k e h e r b e l o v e d flowers in t h e field, she was a w o m a n of m a n y hues. A strong manager, a c a n n y investor, a shrewd judge of people, friend a n d f o e — a n d she n e v e r confused t h e two. D e l i b e r a t e in c o m i n g to judgm e n t , she was sure in c o n c l u s i o n .

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B u t let m e speak especially o f t h e o n e quality t h a t most captured m y admiration and a f f e c t i o n — h e r courage. It is t h e fall of 1 9 6 0 . A few days before t h e e l e c t i o n we're in Dallas, where n e i t h e r K e n n e d y nor J o h n s o n are l o c a l h e r o e s . W e start across t h e street from t h e A d o l p h u s t o t h e B a k e r H o t e l . T h e reactionary congressm a n from Dallas has organized a d e m o n s t r a t i o n of w o m e n — p r e t t y w o m e n , in costumes of red, w h i t e , and blue, waving little A m e r i c a n flags above t h e i r cowboy hats. At first I take t h e m to be cheerleaders h a v i n g a good t i m e . B u t suddenly t h e y are an angry m o b , snarling, salivating, spitting. A roar, a primal frightening roar, swells around us—my first e x p e r i e n c e w i t h c o l l e c t i v e h a t e roused to a fever p i t c h . I ' m right b e h i n d t h e J o h n s o n s . S h e ' s t a k e n his arm and as she turns left and right, n o d ding to t h e m o b , I c a n see she is smiling. A n d I see in t h e eyes of some of those w o m e n a c o n f u s i o n — w h a t I t a k e to be t h e i r realization t h a t this is t h e m at their most u n c i v i l , confronting a w o m a n w h o is t h e triumph of civility. So h e l p m e , h e r very d e m e a n o r created a small zone of grace in t h e middle of t h a t tumultuous throng. A n d t h e y m o v e b a c k a little, and again a little, Mrs. J o h n s o n c o n t i n u i n g to n o d and smile, until we're inside t h e B a k e r and upstairs in t h e suite. N o w L B J is s m i l i n g — h e knows t h a t T e x a s was up for grabs until this m o m e n t , and t h e b a c k l a s h will decide it for us. B u t Mrs. J o h n s o n has pulled b a c k t h e curtains and is looking down t h a t street as t h e m o b disperses. S h e has s e e n a dark and disturbing o m e n . " T h i n g s will n e v e r be t h e same again," she says, quietly. N o w it is 1 9 6 4 . T h e disinherited descendants of slavery, still d e n i e d their rights as citizens after a century of segregation, h a v e resolved to c l a i m for themselves t h e A m e r i c a n promise of life, liberty, and t h e pursuit of happiness. President J o h n s o n has thrown t h e full power of his office t o t h e i r side. H e has just signed t h e C i v i l R i g h t s A c t — t h e greatest single sword of j u s t i c e raised for equality s i n c e t h e E m a n c i p a t i o n P r o c l a m a t i o n . A few weeks later, b o t h J o h n s o n s plunge i n t o his c a m p a i g n for e l e c t i o n in his o w n right. A f t e r t h a t historic legislation he has m o r e or less given up on t h e S o u t h , but she will n o t . T h e s e were h e r people, h e r e were h e r roots, and she is n o t ready to sever t h e m . So she sets out on a

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whistle-stop journey o f nearly s e v e n t e e n hundred miles through t h e h e a r t o f h e r past. S h e i s o n h e r o w n n o w — c a m p a i g n i n g independently—across t h e M a s o n - D i x o n L i n e past t h e b u c k l e o f t h e B i b l e B e l t all t h e way down to t h e port of N e w O r l e a n s . I c a n n o t all these years later do justice to what she faced: t h e boos, t h e jeers, t h e h e c k l e r s , t h e crude signs and cruder gestures, t h e insults, and t h e threats. T h i s is t h e land still ruled by J i m C r o w and J o h n B i r c h , w h o c o n t r o l t h e law and enforce it with t h e cross and club. It's 1 9 6 4 , and b a t h r o o m signs still read WHITE

LADIES

and C O L O R E D

WOMEN.

I n R i c h m o n d , she is greeted w i t h signs t h a t read BIRD.

In Charleston,

BLACKBIRD GO HOME.

row h o l d up signs practically in h e r face:

F L Y AWAY,

LADY

C h i l d r e n p l a n t e d in t h e front

J O H N S O N IS A N I G G E R L O V E R .

In

S a v a n n a h t h e y curse h e r daughter. T h e air has b e c o m e s o m e n a c i n g t h a t we run a separate e n g i n e fifteen minutes ahead of her in case of a b o m b . S h e later said, "People were c o n c e r n e d for m e , but I was c o n c e r n e d for t h e e n g i n e e r in t h e train out in front; he was in far greater danger." R u mors spread of snipers, and in t h e p a n h a n d l e of Florida t h e threats are so o m i n o u s t h a t t h e F B I orders a yard-by-yard sweep of a s e v e n - m i l e bridge t h a t h e r train would cross. S h e n e v e r flinches. U p t o forty times a day from t h e platform o f t h e c a b o o s e she will speak, s o m e t i m e s raising a single white-gloved h a n d to p u n c t u a t e h e r words—always t h e lady. W h e n t h e insults grew so raucous in S o u t h C a r o l i n a , she tells t h e crowd t h e ugly words were c o m i n g " n o t from t h e good people o f S o u t h C a r o l i n a but from t h e state o f confusion." In C o l u m b i a she answers h e c k l e r s w i t h what o n e observer c a l l e d "a maternal bark." A n d she says, " T h i s is a country of many viewpoints. I respect your right to express your own. N o w is my turn to express m i n e . " A n a d v a n c e m a n c a l l e d m e a t t h e W h i t e House from t h e pay p h o n e at a l o c a l train depot. He was c h o k i n g b a c k t h e tears. " A s long as I live," he said, in a v o i c e breaking with e m o t i o n , "I will t h a n k G o d I was here today, so t h a t I c a n tell my c h i l d r e n t h a t I saw t h e difference courage makes." Yes, she p l a n t e d flowers a n d worked for highways a n d parks a n d vistas t h a t o p e n e d u s t o t h e T e c h n i c o l o r splendors o f our world. W a l k this

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w e e k e n d among t h e paths and trails a n d flowers a n d see t h e beauty she loved. B u t as you do, r e m e m b e r she also loved democracy, and saw a beauty in it—rough though t h e ground may be, hard and stony, as t a n gled and as t h r e a t e n e d with blight as nature itself. A n d r e m e m b e r t h a t this shy little girl from K a r n a c k , T e x a s — w i t h eyes as wistful as cypress a n d m a n n e r s as soft as t h e whispering p i n e — g r e w up to show us h o w to c u l t i v a t e t h e beauty in democracy: t h e v o i c e raised against t h e m o b , t h e courage to o v e r c o m e fear, c o n v i c t i o n s as true as steel. C l a u d i a A l t a Taylor—Lady Bird J o h n s o n — s e r v e d t h e beauty in nature a n d t h e beauty in us, and right down to t h e e n d of h e r long and bountiful life, she inspired us to serve t h e m , t o o .

Part

II

THE USES OF HISTORY

10.

A

Honorary

REFUSAL Doctorate

from

the

the Jewish Theological Seminary

REMEMBER

Jewish

14,

MAY

When

TO

Theological

Seminary

1987

invited me

to accept an honorary

doc-

torate,

I felt as if I were going home.

1 am of course a Baptist from East

Texas

with

a

a

Master

Theological Seminary,

of Divinity located on

the preeminent center outside bond 1 felt, however,

from the

Baptist

Seminary,

you

the most complete

can

touch

of Israel for

the academic study

collection of Judaica in

there—physically

mitment to preserve the past. premier of the The

New

the class

Times

that

and

the

The

The JTS

library

western hemisphere,

emotionally—records

of a

1 had chosen the library as

called

mighty

and com-

the venue for the

"a perennial,

elusive,

and possibly

unanswer-

What is a Jew?" In that first episode I mentioned to my guest,

scholar Yosef Yerushalmi, in

of Judaica.

is

PBS series Heritage Conversations in which I explored what

York

able question:

the Jewish

had nothing to do with geography or theology and every-

thing to do with a mutual regard for the power of memory. houses

and

Upper West Side of New York City,

Baptist

something I

seminary

in

had

Texas—that

learned the

years

Hebrew

ago

in

Hebrew

word for

remem-

124

BILL

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ber, zakhor, occurs in the Bible 169 times. I wanted to know why this is important

in Jewish

history.

Yerushalmi answered, original fabric book

of Job

biblical

Jews

religion from commanded

its to

and obscure kings and rulers and others? a lot could and should be forgotten;

to

then he doesn't rate." The Jews,

inception." remember

remember," .

But

minute,

.

.

why,

Professor part of the

say,

concrete

in

the

genealogies

The professor said I had it wrong—

"if a king did evil in the sight of the Lord,

he said,

historical writing.

"They

had given me

text for my speech.

the

command

"is one of the crucial commandments

of Jewish are

"The

remembered

that

had developed a very special kind of which

was

vital

to

remember."

He

* * *

T h i s one-hundredth anniversary of your seminary stirs t h e power of memory, and t h a t is no small feat in a society hypnotically fascinated with t h e m o m e n t . My own business—broadcast news—helps to m a k e this an anxious age of agitated amnesiacs. N o t a disaster happens in t h e world t h a t we do n o t instantly h e a r of it. B u t rarely is there c o n t e x t for t h e endless procession o f problems, crimes, accusations, and c o n t r a d i c t i o n s . W e s e e m t o k n o w everything about t h e last twenty-four hours but very little of t h e last sixty years or t h e last sixty centuries. In his speech a c c e p t i n g t h e N o bel Prize for Literature in 1 9 8 0 , t h e poet Czeslaw Milosz said, "Our p l a n e t that gets smaller every year, with its fantastic proliferation of mass media, is witnessing a process t h a t escapes definition, characterized by a refusal to remember." O n e o f t h e documentaries in my r e c e n t series, A

Walk

Through the

Twentieth Century, deals w i t h t h e propaganda battles of W o r l d W a r II. Propaganda is as old as t h e sorcery and pageantry by w h i c h a n c i e n t emperors awed their subjects—as old as missionaries and t h e D e c l a r a t i o n o f I n d e p e n d e n c e . B u t i n t h e twentieth-century superstate, propaganda has b e c o m e a fearful means for a zealous few to manipulate t h e minds of millions. T h i s documentary explores t h e b l a c k art through t h e work of Fritz Hippler, t h e c h i e f of Hitler's film ministry. We found

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h i m living i n B e r c h t e s g a d e n — h e a l t h y and unrepentant; h e thinks t h e only mistake H i t l e r made was to lose t h e war. In a c h i l l i n g interview Hippler speaks of h o w he tried to r e a c h t h e "soul of t h e masses" through appalling movies like The Eternal Jew, w h i c h planted t h e seed for genocide. T h e o t h e r portrait i n t h e documentary i s o f t h e c o c k y little S i c i l i a n immigrant F r a n k C a p r a , famed for his gentle m o v i e s like M r . Smith Goes to Washington, in w h i c h ordinary folks and apple-pie virtue c o m e out ahead. Frank C a p r a was drafted by F D R to answer Hitler's propaganda. He was in his n i n e t i e s w h e n I interviewed h i m , and he brought a portfolio o f pictures with h i m t o our m e e t i n g . T h e y were photographs t a k e n by A m e r i c a n soldiers entering D a c h a u and B u c h e n w a l d as t h e war ended. C a p r a had kept t h e m all t o remind h i m o f what had b e e n a t stake. S u c h horrors h e l p to e x p l a i n w h a t has h a p p e n e d to history as a c o n c e p t and discipline in t h e t w e n t i e t h century. Bernard Weisberger, t h e historian who advised us on A Walk Through the Twentieth Century, reminded me t h a t around 1 9 0 0 a c a d e m i c and popular historians alike looked upon history as a current whose force could be measured and whose direction could be charted, and it was taking us to glorious destinations. W r i t e r s like J o h n Fiske and Francis P a r k m a n "proved," as it were, t h a t G a l i l e o and Luther and C o l u m b u s and N e w t o n had unwittingly b e e n working together, weaving t h e design of progress. As B e r n a r d Weisberger explained, history as e i t h e r art or s c i e n c e showed h o w all t h e pieces fit n i c e l y together in a p a t t e r n of improving c i v i l i zation. O n l y skeptics like M a r k T w a i n and H e n r y A d a m s doubted t h a t w e were getting b e t t e r all t h e t i m e . T h e general buoyancy o f t h e times was expressed by R o b e r t U n d e r w o o d J o h n s o n , editor of t h e popular Century Magazine, in his p o e m "In Tesla's Laboratory," written after h e had witnessed a n e x p e r i m e n t i n t h e p h e n o m e n a o f h i g h - t e n s i o n electricity:

.

.

. Blessed spirits waiting to be born—

Thoughts to unlock the fettering chains of Things;

126

The Better Time,

the

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Universal Good,

Their smile is like the joyous break of mom .

.

.

T h e n c a m e t h e grim reaper. After t h e S o m m e and Verdun, after L e n i n and S t a l i n , H i t l e r and t h e Holocaust, t h e neatly constructed edifice of optimism lay in shambles. R e i n h o l d N i e b u h r said t h a t t h e Devil was b a c k . W e ' d seen h i m i n t h e B e t l i n e r Sportpalast a n d i n R e d Square, in t h e death camps and t h e gulags, in t h e rubble of cities. T h e barbarians weren't "out t h e r e " in j u n g l e and steppe, waiting to be transformed b y t h e advancing wave o f civilization. W e ' d seen t h e m — i n uniform, c h a n t i n g slogans, pulling down synagogues, burning books, herding people i n t o barbed-wire enclosures and c a t t l e cars and dispatching t h e m to t h e furnace. O n e way or another, they were there right in t h e c e n t e r of our amazing new webs of technology, our c o m p l e x political labyrinths, our sophisticated e c o n o m i c networks. H e n r y A d a m s had said that m o d e r n m e n and w o m e n were gripped by forces t h a t simply flung t h e m around as if they had grabbed hold of a live wire. T h e new century's cruelties were as awful as t h e marvels were awesome. It seemed as if t h e Dark A g e s were b a c k . N o w historians wrote of a "post-historic" era. In t h e 1 9 6 0 s , many young people threw out t h e w h o l e rational and scientific frame of m i n d of t h e i r parents and grandparents, d e n o u n c e d history as a fraud, and dived into t h e depths of I C h i n g and astrology. T h e world made so little sense to t h e m t h a t o n e might well believe in c h a r a c t e r form a t i o n by birth date. N o t only h a d optimism perished under dreadful events but n o w t h e sheer v e l o c i t y of c h a n g e toppled t h e familiar landmarks as if they were t h e last dry leaves of autumn, s h a k e n and swept away by t h e first howling wind of winter. It was argued that we no longer had a usable past. D o n ' t l o o k to history for guidance, we were told. In his a c c o u n t of V i e n n a at t h e turn of t h e century, C a r l S c h o r s k e wrote t h a t "the m o d e r n m i n d has b e e n growing indifferent to history because history, c o n c e i v e d as a c o n t i n u o u s nourishing tradition, has b e c o m e useless to it." N a t h a n T e i t e l describes

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as o n e of t h e most disquieting features of A m e r i c a n life " t h e lack of historical c o n t i n u i t y and c o m m u n i c a t i o n b e t w e e n t h e generations. W h a t i s h a p p e n i n g today, this hour, this very m i n u t e , seems to be our sole c r i t e rion for j u d g m e n t and a c t i o n . " W h a t a sad world it is t h a t exists only in t h e present, unaware of t h e long procession b e h i n d us. S a d , and dangerous, t o o . It is no a c c i d e n t t h a t Big Brother, in t h e n o v e l 1984, banishes history to t h e m e m o r y h o l e where i n c o n v e n i e n t facts simply disappear. T h e power of despotism described by O r w e l l relies on t h e police for e n f o r c e m e n t , but it rests on an o b l i t e r a t i o n of t h e past. O ' B r i e n , t h e personification o f Big Brother, says t o W i n s t o n S m i t h , t h e protagonist: " W e shall squeeze you empty, and t h e n we shall fill you with ourselves." A n d t h e y do. People are made to r e m e m b e r only w h a t t h e y are taught to r e m e m b e r and t h e c o n t e n t of t h e i r m e m o r y is c h a n g e d overnight. T h e bureaucrats i n t h e Ministry o f T r u t h destroy t h e records of t h e past and publish new versions. T h e s e in turn are superseded by yet more revisions, until history b e c o m e s o n e long erasure for t h e c o n v e n i e n c e o f t h e state. W h y do those in charge go to such lengths to wipe out memory? B e cause t h e y know t h e past is indispensable to freedom. People w i t h o u t m e m o r y are at t h e mercy of their rulers because t h e r e is n o t h i n g against w h i c h to measure what they are told today. W i n s t o n S m i t h says, "History has stopped." It has also b e e n tortured beyond r e c o g n i t i o n . H i t l e r c o m p o s e d his o w n selective version of t h e past to give e m o t i o n a l force to his vision of t h e future. G e r m a n y h a d not b e e n defeated in 1 9 1 8 , he insisted; it h a d b e e n stabbed in t h e b a c k — b e t r a y e d by Jews, Marxists, and liberals, w h o were undermining traditional G e r m a n i c values. H i s twisted a c c o u n t of history b e c a m e t h e t o u c h s t o n e for wiping out t h e s h a m e of 1 9 1 8 , purging t h e evil in G e r m a n life, a n d restoring t h e G e r m a n n a t i o n to its rightful place in t h e world. History b e c a m e t h e scribe to m a l i c e . In his s p e e c h in S t o c k h o l m , Milosz said, " W e are surrounded today by fictions about t h e past, contrary t o c o m m o n sense and t o a n e l e m e n t a r y p e r c e p t i o n o f

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good and e v i l . " S o i t i s t h a t t h e n u m b e r o f b o o k s i n various languages w h i c h deny t h a t t h e H o l o c a u s t e v e r t o o k p l a c e n o w e x c e e d s o n e h u n dred. It is possible e v e n in a free society for history to perish n o t by design but by ignorance, until we are reduced to o n e d i m e n s i o n of being. T h e refusal to r e m e m b e r b e c o m e s a c o l l e c t i v e n a t i o n a l h a b i t — a costly o n e . M a r k T w a i n n o t e d t h a t a c a t , o n c e it had sat on a h o t stove, would never do so again, but it would n e v e r sit on a cold o n e , either. We h u m a n b e ings c a n c o u n t and weigh and sort our experiences a n d t h e reflections t h e y prompt, and share t h e m w i t h others. A b r a h a m L i n c o l n understood t h e power o f memory t o shape t h e c o n t i n u i t y and c h a r a c t e r of people. In his first inaugural address he talked about " t h e mystic chords of memory stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and h e a r t h s t o n e all over this broad land." T h o s e words define t h e power of h u m a n beings to transmit e x p e r i e n c e through generations of t i m e . Instead of a row of bare facts to be memorized by s c h o o l c h i l d r e n or an old picket fence slowly and silently rotting away in our own backyard, history b e c o m e s t h e perpetual c o n v e r s a t i o n b e t w e e n t h e past and t h e present. E a c h of us lends our v o i c e t o t h a t c o n v e r s a t i o n , but n o o n e o f u s has t h e last word. A s B e r t o l t B r e c h t wrote i n his p o e m "New A g e " :

New ages don't begin all at once; My grandfather lived in the new age. My grandson will still live in the old. New meat is eaten with old forks, From the new antennae come the old stupidities, Wisdom is passed from mouth to mouth.

T h i s seminary is a crucial institution to C o n s e r v a t i v e Judaism. You are t h e keepers of historic wisdom held up to t h e light of new experie n c e . W h e r e t h e past and t h e future m e e t , you are witnesses. O n e of your o w n said it eloquently: "In r e m e m b r a n c e is t h e secret of redemption."

11.

THE BIG STORY

Texas

State

Historical

MARCH

7,

Association

1997

How is it you can grow up well churched,

well taught,

and well loved and still

be so unaware of what is happening to other people living a few blocks across town?

Many

1950s

and

by

Southerners the

of my

1960s—have

caring parents,

generation—coming

wrestled

instructed by

passionate pastors—and

yet it

snarling dogs

devoted

took and

with

the

this

teachers, Freedom

We

bombs

martyrdom of black resisters against segregation before I could not have culture

was

a

roughly

WHITES

ONLY

as

half white,

any

went to matinees

through

the

the I

late

nurtured

Chief Bull

com-

in

Birm-

O'Connor,

the scales fell

been happier growing up in Marshall, below

half black;

near others marked

of Police

the

the

Southern

in were

and prayed over by Rides,

and the as

hoses

majority

ingham,

from our eyes.

water

to

question.

Mason-Dixon Line. drank from

The

water fountains

Texas,

population marked

COLORED

ONLY.

O n Saturday afternoons I

the front entrances

of the

Paramount and Lynn

the-

aters while black kids my age had to enter by a side door leading to the "crow's nest"

in

the

balcony.

No place

was

more

segregated

than

the

sanctuary

on

130

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except for classes in our public schools all day,

through Friday.

I

every day,

recall not a single black friend from those days. As

life unfolded and my work in government and journalism took me into the

conflicts

of color and race,

1

realized

how

inadequately

my

conscience

had

been touched by the experience of black people in the very place where I had lived so comfortably.

When I was invited to give

annual convention of the comed the opportunity

Texas

movement,

that

and

its

"History

Roberts,

asserted in his

institutions many

years

learned

affecting that

had been

in

1997,

The association had been organized in

like that of Texas is rare.

instructiveness

ical and social science, people do or think,

Historical Association

I

wel-

to think out loud about how we had been taught his-

tory in those formative years. the principle

State

the keynote address at the

when

viewed from

it has few parallels." inaugural address

In its color, the

standpoint

Its founding president,

that

"any

1897

on

dramatic of politOran M.

and everything that the

that tends to form habits of life, or to build up prevailing society, material

constitutes had

been

material so

for

carefully

history."

Yes,

but

for

winnowed

that

what

we

half a history.

* * *

Every Texas s c h o o l c h i l d knows t h e old story about G e n e r a l Philip S h e r i dan. W h e n he passed through G a l v e s t o n in 1 8 6 6 he was quoted as saying t h a t if he owned T e x a s and all hell, h e ' d rent out T e x a s and live in h e l l . F r o m t h a t day on S h e r i d a n suffered t h e unremitting fury and disgust of every right-thinking T e x a n . B u t a s historians you k n o w t h e rest o f t h e story. W h e n G e n e r a l S h e r i d a n c a m e b a c k many years later to attend a d i n n e r h o n o r i n g Ulysses S . G r a n t , h e tried t o apologize. H e explained t h a t a t t h e t i m e h e had b e e n returning from a difficult j o u r n e y to M e x i c o ; it was August, h o t and dusty, and he had traveled for days without a break. His m e n were sick, and w h e n he arrived in G a l v e s t o n desperate for a bath and bed, t h e first person he m e t was a journalist who rushed up to h i m and asked h i m h o w he liked t h e city. S h e r i d a n said he replied with s o m e t h i n g intemperate and ill-considered, but he really didn't m e a n it; he was just angry at t h e journalist for asking such a question under t h e c i r c u m s t a n c e s .

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T h e very n e x t day after t h e general's apology, a local reporter wandered out to get some m a n - i n - t h e - s t r e e t c o m m e n t a r y about t h e i n c i dent. T h e f i r s t person h e talked t o said, " I h a v e n e v e r understood t h a t there was any feeling of bitterness toward G e n e r a l S h e r i d a n on a c c o u n t o f his h a v i n g made t h a t remark. T h e only reason people thought hard o f h i m , at all, was on a c c o u n t of his failing to kill t h e reporter." I've often pondered t h e differences b e t w e e n journalism and history, and there's o n e thing I k n o w for sure: m o r e people h a v e wanted to kill reporters t h a n historians. So I take h e a r t from t h e fact t h a t your current president and former president sitting h e r e at t h e head table are b o t h journalists w h o n o t only survived hanging around historians but were c h o s e n by historians to lead this association. S o m e m i g h t call t h a t "defining deviancy upward," but I call it a triumph for b o t h journalism and history. T h e r e ' s always b e e n a t e n s i o n b e t w e e n these two ways of figuring t h e world o u t — b e t w e e n history and j o u r n a l i s m — a n d w h e n you first t h i n k about it, t h e historians seem to get the b e t t e r deal. Journalists t a c k l e t h e h e r e and now, w h i c h c a n rear up and b i t e you; historians t e n d to deal with t h e dead and gone, who are in no position to c o m p l a i n . Journalism encourages t h e making o f snap judgments and t h e drawing o f facile c o n clusions; history grows out of sustained study and a p a t i e n t resolve to c o n n e c t t h e dots. Journalists who m a k e mistakes get sued for libel; historians who m a k e mistakes get to publish a revised edition. T h e r e ' s a bigger difference yet. O n e of my valued colleagues is b o t h a journalist and a historian. A n d i e T u c h e r w o n t h e A l l a n N e v i n s Prize a few years ago for h e r doctoral dissertation, w h i c h was t h e n published as a fine b o o k entitled Froth and Scum. As a h i g h - s c h o o l student A n d i e was fascinated by my P B S series A Walk Through the Twentieth Century, and in t i m e she wrote me to inquire about working in television. For five years she was my editorial researcher, and she made many singular c o n tributions to my productions, as well as to this s p e e c h t o n i g h t . W h e n we were talking about this e v e n t I asked A n d i e what she thought the differe n c e is b e t w e e n history and journalism. " A b o u t a year," she said. T i m e c a n m a k e all t h e difference in our understanding of t h e e v e n t s

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o f our lives. A n d o f course history i s n e v e r d o n e , o n c e a n d for all. W h i l e journalists must c o n t e n d w i t h t h e frustration o f feeling t h a t w e n e v e r finish t h e story, historians often find themselves going b a c k to t h e same story over and over again because t h e y h a v e found n e w information, gained n e w insights, outgrown old ideas, or discarded old prejudices. T i m e invites and requires second thoughts. W e journalists should visit t h e past more often. T h i s impulse to r e e x a m i n e t h e old stories is what underlies o n e of t h e noisiest and most difficult debates in history today: multiculturalism. I t raises t h e most basic o f questions: W h o owns history? W h o gets t o participate i n history? W h o gets t o tell history? W h o ' s b e e n left out o f history? A n d whose history gets told? S o m e t i m e s this debate c a n get ugly. R e c e n t l y t h e historians' ivory tower h a s b e e n s h a k e n by vociferous voices questioning t h e accuracy and inclusiveness o f o n e historical r e c o n s t r u c t i o n o r another. T h e E n o l a G a y e x h i b i t i o n in W a s h i n g t o n was simply supposed to c o m m e m o r a t e t h e fiftieth anniversary of t h e flight t h a t dropped t h e first a t o m i c b o m b on J a p a n , but it aroused such a passionate battle over big questions of national responsibility and guilt that t h e curators gave up, t o o k out all t h e parts t h a t were offending o n e side or another, and ended up with virtually n o t h i n g to show. If you consider " E n o l a G a y " to be fighting words, try these: " T h o m a s Jefferson." W h a t with all t h e r e c e n t books, magazine articles, d o c u m e n taries, a n d m o v i e s rehashing t h e question o f his relationship w i t h slavery i n g e n e r a l — a n d o n e female slave i n particular—he's b e e n m o r e i n t h e news t h e s e past m o n t h s t h a n t h e e n t i r e congressional delegation from Virginia. It's easy to ridicule m u c h of this passion as " P C " — s h o r t h a n d a m o n g m a n y critics for history they t h i n k is t o o balkanized, t o o c o n c e r n e d with inclusiveness, t o o e t h n i c a l l y oriented. T h e s e critics portray a cadre of historians preoccupied with m a k i n g sure t h a t every b o o k , every newspaper, every magazine, every m o v i e include a proper n u m b e r of clearly disc e r n i b l e w o m e n , children, people of color, old people, working-class people, disabled people, fat people, short people, gay people, people in

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recovery, and vegetarian people. T h e subtext is t h a t taking a multicultural approach to h i s t o r y — t h a t parceling out one's a t t e n t i o n a m o n g t h e amazing diversity of t h e people w h o h a v e lived t h e nation's story—is bad because it places m o r e emphasis on n o t hurting people's feelings t h a n on searching out some pure and eternal truth. S o m e t i m e s those critics are right. B u t sometimes they c a n be grievously wrong. S o m e t i m e s ignoring t h e stories of those who h a v e b e e n less visible c a n lead to s o m e pure and nearly e t e r n a l l i e — e v e n fatal lies. I c a n give you o n e e x a m p l e t h a t strikes very close to h o m e . M a n y of you in this audience recall Texas History Movies, those rip-roaring c a r t o o n a c c o u n t s of t h e early days of t h e L o n e S t a r S t a t e . T h e y started running in t h e Dallas News in 1 9 2 6 , but w i t h i n a couple of years t h e M a g n o l i a P e t r o l e u m C o m p a n y — t h e forerunner to M o b i l O i l — w a s issuing t h e c o m i c s in b o o k l e t form and distributing t h e m to schools all over T e x a s . In its preface to t h e books, t h e c o m p a n y said it was "prompted by a desire to be of service to t h e pupils of t h e public schools of T e x a s and to h a v e some small part in helping imptess upon t h e m t h e remarkable past of t h e i r state, its today, and its future, offering unlimited opportunities to every person in T e x a s . " In m a n y places those cartoons b e c a m e de facto curriculum; n o t only in elementary s c h o o l but in what we t h e n called j u n i o r h i g h s c h o o l , e n compassing t h e s e v e n t h , eighth, and n i n t h grades. T h e y had t h e cultural status of official history, and they painted in bold relief t h e swashbuckling drama o f Texas heroes. T h e y told o f t h e exploits o f C a b e z a d e V a c a and t h e wonders o f t h e N e w W o r l d ; o f m e n who bravely stepped over t h e line w h e n C o l o n e l Travis slashed i n t o t h e dirt with his sword at t h e A l a m o ; of exploits bound to stir t h e imagination of a young white boy walking h o m e from S a m H o u s t o n E l e m e n t a r y S c h o o l , down C r o c k e t t o r B o w i e or F a n n i n S t r e e t s to his h o m e at 8 0 1 E. A u s t i n , two blocks from A l a m o Boulevard. In t i m e , though, I t o o k a s e c o n d l o o k at those booklets, and saw t h a t n o t only had those simple pictures and breezy c a p t i o n s enshrined our h e roes, but they had encapsulated our bigotry and c h a u v i n i s m . T h e y told t h e story c o m p l e t e l y from t h e winner's c i r c l e , where anyone w h o was n o t

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a white Protestant A m e r i c a n male was either invisible or ridiculous. In o n e strip a T e x a n slams a M e x i c a n soldier in t h e h e a d with his rifle butt shouting, " S w e e t Dreams, G r e a s e r ! " — w h i l e a n o t h e r yells, " D o w n with t h e T a m a l e Eaters!" A T e x a n seeing Spaniards bathing remarks, "It must be Saturday." An A m e r i c a n prisoner in a M e x i c a n jail boasts of having assaulted a priest. B l a c k people with spiky hair, white eyes, and enormous lips say things like: " A h sho likes dis p l a c e " or " A h wish Ah wuz way down souf in A f r ic a ." C h i n e s e people sporting pigtails mutter, "I no talkee Englesh." A n y youngster reading Texas History Movies could h a v e reasonably c o n c l u d e d that b l a c k people enjoyed being owned body and soul by a master. O f course i t was some o f t h e masters—or s o m e o f their c h i l d r e n and g r a n d c h i l d r e n — w h o were telling those tales. N o t until many years later did it o c c u r to me to wonder h o w these stories would h a v e sounded had they b e e n written by t h e c h i l d r e n and grandchildren of slaves. As s c h o o l c h i l d r e n we read: " A n y m a n w h o inherited slaves was b o u n d to free o n e - t e n t h of t h e number." T h a t was a lie; slaves were legally designated c h a t t e l , n o t flesh and blood, and any m a n who inherited slaves was no more bound to free a single o n e of t h e m t h a n he was obligated to liberate a portion of his c o t t o n fields, his pigs, or his grandmother's silver. "S l av es could c h a n g e masters at will," we read. A n o t h e r lie. A n d we read: " T h e law provided for t h e e d u c a t i o n of Negroes e v e n while they were slaves"—this under a picture of a little barefoot b l a c k c h i l d in a shabby s c h o o l r o o m spelling out " K - A - T . " In truth, t h e law provided for t h e severe p u n i s h m e n t of any slaves caught educating themselves. T h e c o m i c s h a v e b e e n revised since t h e n , most r e c e n t l y i n t h e 1 9 7 0 s . T h e racism has b e e n eradicated, t h e propaganda has b e e n diluted, n e w t e x t h a s b e e n added. A big eraser has b e e n t a k e n to o t h e r scenes, removing what would h a v e b e e n offensive odors to t h e m o d e r n nose. T h e r e ' s less casual v i o l e n c e in t h e m , for o n e t h i n g — t h e irate M e x ican official who o n c e v e n t e d his fury by kicking t h e c a t high across t h e r o o m n o w kicks at n o t h i n g at all, looking more like a R o c k e t t e t h a n a

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bully. A n d a b o t t l e of what was clearly an a l c o h o l i c beverage has b e e n removed from t h e governor's desk. Yes, some o f t h e revisions s m a c k o f what m i g h t b e called political correctness. B u t t h e issue with history as c a r t o o n caricature isn't t h a t t h e i r casual brutality hurt people's feelings; t h e issue is t h a t their casual brutality did in fact represent t h e group m i n d of t h e times. T h o s e cart o o n s were true to life. I don't m e a n , of course, true to t h e lives of Indians in t h e s i x t e e n t h century or b l a c k people in t h e n i n e t e e n t h ; they were true t o t h e worldview o f these w h i t e T e x a n s w h o t h o u g h t M e x i c a n s were greasy, Indians stupid, Spaniards dirty, and slaves happy in a state o f nature. I h a v e wrestled with what it m e a n t for generations of T e x a s s c h o o l c h i l d r e n to read all this, in books given to us by g e n t l e , intelligent, and caring t e a c h e r s — g i v e n to us by t h e very same people telling us o t h e r truths, like five times five equals twenty-five and Paris is t h e capital of F r a n c e . No wonder so many of us w h o grew up well c h u r c h e d , well loved, a n d well taught could also r e m a i n so ignorant of w h a t life was like for others. B a d history c a n h a v e c o n s e q u e n c e s as devastating as bad j o u r nalism. T h e whiskey b o t t l e could be erased from t h e governor's desk and t h e abused c a t e l i m i n a t e d from t h e r e a c h of t h e kicker's foot more easily t h a n t h e mind's eye cleansed of stereotypes and distortions insinuated i n t o it by culture. History may be " o n e d a m n e d t h i n g after another," as t h e British poet laureate J o h n Masefield o n c e said, but it is n o t only t h e t h i n g itself, t h e e v e n t ; history is also w h a t people t h i n k , a n d wish, a n d imagine. W h a t people b e l i e v e is often t h e progenitor of history, t h e sources of those roiling waters of w h i c h t h e journalist sees only t h e surface. M a c a u l a y m a i n t a i n e d t h a t history is a c o m p o u n d of poetry and philosophy and "impresses general truths on t h e m i n d by a vivid represent a t i o n o f particular characters and incidents." W h a t happens i f t h e "vivid representation of particular characters and i n c i d e n t s " impress on t h e m i n d n o t 'general truths' but persistent lies? No wonder it t o o k us so long to do j u s t i c e . It was n o t only laws on t h e books t h a t had to be

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c h a n g e d but pernicious images in t h e mind in w h i c h were incubated powerful habits o f t h e heart. W h e n I t h i n k b a c k o n t h e impact o f bad history, I ask myself: W h a t are we blind to now? W h a t is happening t h a t we c a n n o t see? W h a t ate we believing t h a t our children will h a v e to learn to disbelieve? Texas History Movies illustrate o n e lesson t i m e has taught us about h o w history c a n go wrong: it c a n denigrate and dehumanize people w h o h a v e no v o i c e to tell their o w n stories. But there's a n o t h e r p r o b l e m with history written only from t h e winner's c i r c l e : t h e losers c a n disappear completely. T h e people without v o i c e s are at risk of being erased altogether. N o t only historians but journalists h a v e a great power h e r e . N o t writing about s o m e o n e c a n write t h e m out o f e x i s t e n c e . A r o u n d t h e same t i m e t h a t I was reading Texas History Movies, I was also listening to t h e radio. My father bought our first c o n s o l e radio so we could listen to t h e news pouring out of t h a t magic b o x every night. E v e n as a boy I knew t h a t I was living in t h e midst of great events, t h a t giants like F r a n k l i n R o o s e v e l t and monsters like A d o l f Hitler were shaking t h e world around me and my world to c o m e . W h a t I didn't k n o w was what life was like for others whose worlds were being upended by those events. U n t o l d numbers o f c h i l d r e n were going t o t h e i r deaths i n Europe while I was playing marbles in Marshall, T e x a s . T h e r e I was, growing up poor but pleasantly in a small t o w n in East T e x a s , playing chase down safe streets, roaming t h e piney woods t h a t surrounded us, going to movies on Saturday afternoon and family reunions and c h u r c h suppers, while on t h e same planet at t h e same time boys and girls my age were being shattered and assaulted and buried in pits. S o m e o f you may h a v e seen our r e c e n t P B S series o n t h e stories o f G e n e s i s , t h e first b o o k o f t h e B i b l e . I n t h e episode o n C a i n and A b e l w e spend considerable t i m e on t h e first murder. Two brothers b o t h seek God's favor. C a i n , t h e farmer, brings t h e first fruit of t h e soil. A b e l , t h e shepherd, brings t h e firstborn of t h e flock. G o d , playing favorites, c h o o s e s Abel's offering over Cain's, and t h e e l e v a t i o n of t h e younger leads to t h e h u m i l i a t i o n of t h e elder, who t h e n murders his brother w h e n

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they are alone in t h e field. A b e l is i n n o c e n t , yet A b e l dies. T h e n o v e l ist Mary G o r d o n goes on to say t h a t t h e c h a l l e n g e for a moral person "is always to be a witness to A b e l . To be an e t h i c a l h u m a n b e i n g is to say, ' I ' m in t h e place of t h a t person unjustly cut down. I am a witness to that.' " H e r e history, like literature and journalism, finds a moral purpose, c o n n e c t i n g us to what t h e novelist E. L. D o c t o r o w calls t h e Big Story: W h o are we? W h a t are we trying to be? W h a t is our fate? W h e r e will we stand in t h e moral universe w h e n these things are r e c k o n e d ? We n e e d history to m a k e t h a t c o n n e c t — f o r a boy shooting marbles in Marshall, T e x a s , o n e day to k n o w his c o n t e m p o r a r y was a little girl n a m e d A n n e Frank hiding i n a n A m s t e r d a m a t t i c . On a cross-country flight recently I read T h o m a s Cahill's bestselling How the Irish Saved Civilization.

C a h i l l writes of t h e cloistered

m o n k s who on t h e i r isolated island rescued so m u c h of our W e s t e r n intellectual heritage from t h e c h a o s of t h e Dark A g e s by copying and preserving hundreds of classical manuscripts—Plato, Aristotle, Thucydides, C i c e r o , Tacitus. It's a lovely b o o k , beautifully written, and has astounded t h e publishing world by selling almost o n e m i l l i o n copies with very little publicity or p r o m o t i o n . As I was reading a fellow across t h e aisle leaned over and asked, "Is t h a t a good b o o k ? " A n d w h e n I said, " O h yes, it's wonderful," he asked, "Is it hard? I've b e e n wanting to read it, my m o t h e r gave it to m e , but I was wondering—is it, you know, full of facts and stuff? Is there t o o m u c h history?" T o o m u c h history! If only he were here today, listening to all t h a t t h e T e x a s S t a t e Historical A s s o c i a t i o n is doing to tell long-neglected stories, I believe he would realize t h a t we n e e d m o r e history. M o r e history of t h e sort you are practicing h e r e is t h e only possible antidote to t h e deafening effects of history written by winners. It's t h e way to c o m e to an understanding of w h o we were, where we've g o n e wrong, w h a t we've d o n e right, and who we might b e c o m e . T h a t ' s what history is w h e n pursued with integrity and openness and with zest for t h e telling of untold stories. T h e r e is s o m e t h i n g wonderfully d e m o c r a t i c about an organization like this t h a t nourishes and encourages all c o m e r s who bring with t h e m

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a sense of curiosity. I am a regular reader of your quarterlies, essays, monographs, and books. W i t h delight I h a v e b e e n plowing randomly through your n e w Handbook of Texas History. I am fascinated by t h e papers you are presenting h e r e . You are exploring t h e lives of w o m e n as members of families and also as doctors and writers and historians and pilots. T h e lives o f farmers, and t h e lives o f ranchers. T h e life and work of T e x a s B a p t i s t s — a n enormous task, as you know, because as my father used to say, there are more Baptists in Texas t h a n people. A n d a prickly task, t o o . O n e of my seminary professors compared Baptists to j a l a p e n o peppers: o n e or two m a k e for a tasty dish, but a w h o l e b u n c h of t h e m t o gether in o n e place brings tears to your eyes. You're also writing about t h e life and work o f T e x a s C a t h o l i c s . T h e music and art o f T e x a s , and t h e p o l i c e and N a t i o n a l G u a r d o f T e x a s . A f r i c a n A m e r i c a n s i n T e x a s . M e x i c a n s in T e x a s . O i l m e n and immigrant laborers. C r i m i n a l s , and segregationists, and filibusterers, and P O W s , and t h e famously e n i g m a t i c Yellow R o s e o f T e x a s . W h e n I read what you're writing I daydream of re-creating myself as a journalist in o t h e r t i m e s — a Forrest G u m p , or Zelig, with a press pass. T h e people who emerge from your research I would dearly love to h a v e interviewed, to b a l a n c e t h e understanding of t h e story promulgated earlier this century by Texas History Movies. Imagine talking t o Mary R a b b , o n e o f t h e original three hundred colonists. A tall w o m a n with dark eyes and b l a c k hair, riding to T e x a s on h e r iron-gray horse, Tormenter, h e r baby on h e r lap; m o v i n g from o n e place to another, t h e flies and mosquitoes so bad the w o m e n couldn't sew or c h u r n , settling finally on B a r t o n Springs n e a r where we m e e t t o night; rising early in t h e morning, while h e r husband was away down t h e Brazos, to keep h e r new spinning w h e e l "whistling all day and i n t o t h e n i g h t " so she wouldn't h e a r t h e strangers prowling outside t h e house. Imagine having a c a m e r a to record in person what M a r y R a b b wrote with h e r pen:

How many trials and troubles have we passed through together here in Texas, and no opportunity of going to church; Yet God

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was mindful of us, and blessed us, and gave us his spirit, and made us feel He was here.

Or Dilue R o s e Harris, t e n years old and fleeing with her family during t h e runaway scrape; I'd like to ask h e r h o w t h e y m a n a g e d to haul their c l o t h e s , bedding, and provisions on a sleigh with o n e y o k e of o x e n , a n d w h a t they felt and feared those t h r e e days they waited to cross at t h e Lynchburg Ferry, t h e c h i l d r e n sickly with measles, sore eyes, and w h o o p ing cough. O r M a t h i l d e W a g n e r , whose p o i g n a n t a c c o u n t s o f t h e c h o l e r a t h a t struck S a n A n t o n i o i n t h e 1 8 7 0 s are a n a n t i d o t e t o nostalgia for t h e good old days. People died by t h e scores, she reported. T h e r e were few houses where d e a t h did n o t c o m e . T h e carts traveled in t h e dark with lanterns to light t h e way, a n d t h e drivers called out: " A n y dead here? A n y dead h e r e ? " S o m e t i m e s , says M a t h i l d e W a g n e r , w h e n a poor fellow was dying, t h e carters would sit by t h e wagon a n d wait, so they m i g h t take his body away, warm in t h e sheet on w h i c h he died, to be buried in o n e of t h e long, unmarked t r e n c h e s filling with numberless bodies. A n d S y l v i a K i n g . W h a t a n interview she would b e ! B o r n i n M o r o c c o , she was married with three c h i l d r e n w h e n she was stolen from h e r h o m e , drugged, and shipped in t h e b o t t o m of a b o a t to N e w O r l e a n s , where blacksmiths pulled h e r t e e t h a n d she was stripped naked for inspection by strangers. S o l d on t h e b l o c k at a u c t i o n and transported in c h a i n s to T e x a s , to a master visited often by S a m H o u s t o n , a master in whose service she spent cold winter nights spinning with two threads, o n e in e a c h h a n d and a foot on t h e pedal as h e r baby slept on h e r lap. S y l v i a K i n g lived until she was nearly o n e hundred, well i n t o our c e n tury. F r e e m a n S m a l l e y is s o m e o n e else I'd like to interview. He was t h e first Baptist minister to preach in T e x a s , and his audiences were always small because of his abolitionist views. H o w he kept his spirits up I don't know, but B r o t h e r S m a l l e y organized t h e first antislavery c h u r c h just n o r t h o f h e r e i n W i l l i a m s o n County, and h e stuck t o his c o n v i c t i o n s e v e n during t h e C i v i l W a r as threats were made against his life and

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thieves made off with his possessions. T h a n k s to a T e x a s historian, t h e "still small v o i c e " of F r e e m a n S m a l l e y speaks across t h e years. A n d K i c k i n g Bird, t h e K i o w a c h i e f w h o a d v o c a t e d p e a c e a n d a c c o m m o d a t i o n with whites, and suffered from b o t h sides for it. H a v i n g led his braves t o victory o v e r t h e U . S . military i n a n e n g a g e m e n t h e didn't w a n t to fight, K i c k i n g Bird was t h e n castigated as a traitor by those same warriors w h e n he was forced to c h o o s e w h i c h of his tribesm e n would go to an A m e r i c a n prison in Florida. K i c k i n g Bird died in 1 8 7 5 after drinking a cup of coffee t h a t was widely t h o u g h t to h a v e b e e n poisoned. I wish I could h a v e asked h i m what it was like to live b e t w e e n two worlds. I just missed interviewing C h r i s t i n a Adair. S o m e of you may h a v e k n o w n her. S h e was b o r n i n 1 8 9 3 , i n V i c t o r i a , and after graduating from Prairie V i e w taught elementary s c h o o l in E d n a where o n e of h e r students was Barbara Jordan's father. H e r family had b e e n L i n c o l n R e p u b licans, b u t w h e n W a r r e n Harding c a m p a i g n e d i n T e x a s , h e r students were standing right in front of t h e o b s e r v a t i o n gate where Harding appeared during a whistle-stop. W a r r e n Harding r e a c h e d right o v e r t h e b l a c k c h i l d r e n to shake t h e w h i t e children's hands, a n d right t h e n and there C h r i s t i n a A d a i r b e c a m e a D e m o c r a t . S h e w e n t o n t o b e c o m e the first recording secretary o f t h e first H o u s t o n c h a p t e r o f t h e N A A C P — and a l o n g t i m e b a t t l e r for c i v i l rights. It was C h r i s t i n a A d a i r w h o bought a $ 2 7 girdle she didn't n e e d a n d insisted on trying it on in t h e fitting r o o m t h a t was off-limits to b l a c k w o m e n . It was C h r i s t i n a A d a i r w h o with h e r allies crusaded to c l o s e down a notorious holding p e n on t h e c o u n t y l i n e where b l a c k m e n were t a k e n t o b e b e a t e n b e y o n d prying eyes. T h e n o n e day, C h r i s t i n a A d a i r was t h e r e at H o b b y Airport w h e n J o h n K e n n e d y stopped on his fateful trip to T e x a s . As she pushed t h e c h i l d r e n closer to see t h e president, o n e little boy was j o s t l e d u n t i l his cap fell off. T h e president of t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s picked it u p — t h e presid e n t h i m s e l f ! — a n d handed i t t o t h e child, patting h i m o n t h e head and saying, "You lost your cap, didn't you, sonny?" C h r i s t i n a A d a i r h e l p e d to c h a n g e h e r times, and our history. S o did O c t a v i a G a r c i a , w h o didn't learn t o speak English until h e

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was s e v e n t e e n . After working on his father's r a n c h near Falfurria he decided to study m e d i c i n e , and did so well at t h e medical s c h o o l in S t . Louis, where he had arrived purely by c h a n c e , t h a t he emerged as a brilliant student, senior intern, and t h e n c h i e f resident at t h e U n i v e r s i t y Hospital. He married a Jewish girl n a m e d C e c i l e and together they c a m e down to M c A l l e n looking for a place to settle after t h e Depression wiped out his father's holdings. A M e x i c a n d o c t o r with a Jewish wife. No hospital wanted h i m or would take his patients, and many physicians refused to assist h i m in surgery. O c t a v i a G a r c i a persisted. His patients got better w h e n others did n o t , and his reputation m o u n t e d . S k i l l triumphed over skin, and he b e c a m e a h e r o in t h e community. "I don't w a n t to please you," he told people. "I want to tell you t h e truth." Of all t h e diseases he fought, t h e worst was bigotry. A l l this is solid and important history t h a t I've learned from you. B u t it's s o m e t h i n g more. I suppose you could call it multicultural in outl o o k — b u t it's s o m e t h i n g more t h a n that, too. It may e v e n e n d up hurting people's feelings, n o t by willfully and cynically distorting t h e truth, as some of those old Texas History Movies did, but by facing and n a m i n g t h a t sad reality t h a t is a part of every people's public l i f e — t h e reality t h a t we don't always do right or justly. On t h e o t h e r h a n d , sometimes we do. History also t e a c h e s us this. Twice I was privileged to interview Barbara T u c h m a n . S h e saw history as a story of folly and as a source of inspiration, and she liked reminding me t h a t across t h e centuries m e n and w o m e n h a v e pursued knowledge, exercised reason, sparked laughter, enjoyed pleasure, played games with zest; showed courage, heroism, honor, and d e c e n c y ; e x p e r i e n c e d love, comfort, c o n t e n t m e n t , and occasionally happiness; and made sacrifices for t h e good of others. It was also my good fortune several times to interview t h e historian H e n r y S t e e l e C o m m a g e r . H e insisted t h a t t o c o u n t e r bouts o f pessimism, I should read Huizinga's History of the Middle Ages. Huizinga reminds us h o w in those times it was bad form to praise t h e world and life openly. It was fashionable to see only t h e suffering and t h e misery, to discover everywhere t h e signs o f d e c a d e n c e and t h e end. I n short, t o c o n d e m n

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t h e times and to despise t h e m . Yet looking b a c k we k n o w t h a t t h e M i d dle A g e s were n o t only t h e end, they were t h e beginnings—the prelude to t h a t great and vibrant flowering of beauty, art, and i n t e l l i g e n c e k n o w n as t h e R e n a i s s a n c e , t h e soaring of t h e h u m a n spirit. History says to optimist and pessimist alike: W a i t a m i n u t e , c o u n t to ten. You are making a real world of t h e past, what T h o m a s Carlyle called "a void of grey haze." T h e people w h o live there are n o t ghosts but players in t h e unfolding drama of w h i c h we are t h e present cast. B e c a u s e your work h o n o r s t h e experiences and takes seriously t h e lives of so m a n y different and diverse people, it says to everyone gathered in this room, and to others all over T e x a s , all over t h e country, as far as words c a n fly: history is all of us. Everyone is part of t h e life of this n a t i o n ; everyone has a stake in t h e B i g Story. In t h e n o v e l The Irish Signorina, by J u l i a O ' F a o l a i n , t h e protagonist is a young Irishwoman who demonstrates h e r knowledge and affection for Italian culture and makes a wry a c k n o w l e d g m e n t of its similarities to h e r n a t i v e land w h e n she says, "Our thoughts are a n c i e n t and recycled. L i k e c o a l , they're made up of old matter. T h e y flame, but they're old stuff. T h e v o i c e of t h e tribe speaks through us." S o i t does. T h e o n e and many tribes.

For many of the examples cited in this chapter I am indebted to Jo Ella Powell Exley, whose Texas Tears and Texas Sunshine (Texas A & M Press, 1986) has provided my wife and me with hours of pleasurable reading.

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WHEN THE PAST M E E T S THE PRESENT The

Committee

of

100

M A Y 5 , 2000

I meant to call this speech nese American,

"The Paradox of Success." The audience was Chi-

gathered under the auspices of the Committee of 100,

ganization founded by architect I.

M.

professions

and China and

in

the

United States

Pei

an or-

to encourage contact between

the

to encourage fuller Chinese

American participation in all aspects of life in this country.

I

knew many on

the committee by first name and had marveled at their personal stories.

Many

had arrived penniless on strange shores and against the odds had risen to the top.

I met them when my wife, Judith, and our team of producers had set out

to research a PBS series The series two men

took on a sense whom

news for months. when to the

Becoming American: T h e Chinese Experience. of urgency for me

I never met—John

when controversies

Huang and Wen

Huang had fled China for Taiwan with his family

the Communists

took over the country.

United States in

1969,

Ambitious

involving

Ho Lee—dominated but broke,

in

the 1949

he came

studied statistics as a graduate student while

144

manning a factory

lathe,

banking.

way

Along the

and he

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climbed

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swiftly

in

the

world

of international

became so successful as a Democratic fund-raiser

that President Clinton put him in charge of Asian trade matters at the Commerce

Department.

raise

The

Democratic

money for Clinton's

the White world

House,

imploded.

and,

chastened,

a nuclear scientist at Los Alamos, confinement for

government

and

community

was

Lee,

I followed

recruited

With extraordinary

raising funds

500

China.

of

with

and

solitary

Committee

1996.

he seemed destined for greater stardom when, Charged

Huang pleaded guilty hours

National

reelection in

278

by

the

days

national

sentenced

service. on

the case closely,

illegally

That

to

same

from

him

to

access

to

suddenly,

foreign

one

his

sources,

year of probation

year—1999—Wen

Ho

was arrested and held without bail in suspicion

of having given

was appalled at Lee's media,

which,

relying

secrets

treatment on

by

to the

unsubstantiated

sources, made a spectacle of the story. It seemed to many of us that Lee had been singled out because of his Chinese heritage.

No charge of espionage was

ever brought against him and he was released after pleading guilty dling classified information. in America,

From our research on

the

I realized that no matter the circumstances,

had been caught up in a panorama of prejudice tle of my

speech from

"The

of the

Chinese

both Huang and Lee

that began when the first Chi-

nese arrived in this country looking for Gold Mountain. the

history

to mishan-

Paradox of Success"

to

So 1 changed the ti"When

the

Past Meets

Present."

* * *

W h a t shall w e m a k e o f t h e deluge o f news about the scientist and t h e fund-raiser? T h e fund-raiser, as everyone here knows, is J o h n Huang. He has pleaded guilty to charges of making illegal c o n t r i b u t i o n s to President C l i n t o n ' s r e e l e c t i o n i n t h e campaign o f 1 9 9 6 . T h e scientist i s W e n H o L e e , suspected, i t would seem, o f espionage. We do n o t k n o w at t h e m o m e n t if he is guilty or i n n o c e n t of t h e charges against h i m . W h a t we do k n o w is t h a t t h e media spectacle t h a t descended upon h i m assumed his guilt and made a m o c k e r y of due process. Curious, isn't it? W h i l e J o h n Huang did bring in big donations from t h e A s i a n A m e r i c a n community, t h e C l i n t o n administration looked t h e

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o t h e r way until t h e press revealed t h e foreign sources of the money. Huang was t h e n fired and made t h e fall guy, proving in o n e way—a perverse w a y — t h a t C h i n e s e A m e r i c a n s h a v e made it in this country. Politics is an arms race today, with m o n e y doing t h e work of missiles. O n c e you h a v e made it in A m e r i c a , you are w e l c o m e in t h e race because it is presumed you c a n afford t h e dues. T h e Irish will tell you this. A n d t h e Jews. A n d t h e Italians. A n d t h e Pakistanis, who recently ponied up big m o n e y for a m e e t i n g with Hillary C l i n t o n in an effort to persuade h e r husband, t h e president, to stop in their n a t i v e country on his way to India. You are w e l c o m e in t h e arms race as long as you h a v e t h e money. B u t remember, as J o h n Huang surely remembers, t h e weapons c a n e x plode in your face. T h e r e is a n o t h e r d i m e n s i o n to t h e story t h a t I want to discuss w i t h you today. I m e a n t h e intersection where t h e past meets t h e present. J o h n Huang was made the fall guy for D e m o c r a t i c fund-raisers w h o want us to b e l i e v e they had their eyes closed e v e n as they had their hands out. B u t as Huang b e c a m e t h e fall guy, others suffered t h e fallout. Investigators looking into sources of fraudulent contributions called only people with "Chinese-sounding" last names. In o t h e r words, there was m o r e t h a n a small h i n t of guilt by a s s o c i a t i o n — t h e t e n d e n c y to judge t h e e n tire group by o n e of its members. T h e W e n Ho L e e case takes us e v e n deeper below t h e surface. I repeat: we don't k n o w if he is guilty, but under our system he deserves t h e presumption o f i n n o c e n c e until proven otherwise. A n d that presumption has b e e n violated. C o n s i d e r t h e following:

1. T h e former head of counterintelligence at Los Alamos, R o b e r t Vrooman, participated in t h e investigation. He now tells The Washington Post that W e n Ho Lee was singled out because of his ethnicity. A lot of Caucasians—white folks—were n o t investigated although they had access to t h e same information and t h e same people in C h i n a as L e e did. 2. After being fired and branded as a suspected spy, L e e was arrested last D e c e m b e r and indicted—but n o t for espionage. He was charged

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on fifty-nine counts of illegally downloading classified information and transferring t h e data o n t o n i n e t e e n portable computer tapes, of which seven were missing. N o t a smart thing to do if you work in a sensitive area. But n o t espionage. Yet L e e has been denied bail, held in solitary confinement, shackled at his waist, and allowed only o n e visit a week from his family. ( M e a n w h i l e , and in contrast, during his tenure as director of the C I A J o h n D e u t c h transferred 1,700 pages of classified documents, some secret, o n t o his unsecured h o m e c o m puters w h i c h were attached to modems with access to the Internet, and therefore vulnerable to hackers. W h e n t h e transfer was discovered, D e u t c h refused to be interviewed and dozens of the files in his computer were mysteriously deleted. No a c t i o n was taken for a year; t h e C I A didn't e v e n formally notify the Justice Department of the security breach. D e u t c h is now teaching at M I T . ) 3. T w o and a h a l f m o n t h s after L e e was fired from Los A l a m o s , but six m o n t h s before he was indicted on something other t h a n espionage, a House S e l e c t C o m m i t t e e chaired by Congressman Christopher C o x released a 9 0 9 - p a g e report on C h i n e s e nuclear espionage. In addition to demonizing C h i n a as America's arch e n e m y ( e v e n as A m e r i c a n entrepreneurs swarm over t h e country, looking for business), the C o x Report warned t h a t "essentially all C h i n e s e visitors to the U . S . are potential spies." Furthermore, all C h i n e s e A m e r i cans are potential "sleeper agents" who may n o t be activated for a decade or more. By this measure, everyone in this room is a potential suspect, with all t h a t implies for the need for surveillance, wiretaps, anonymous tips, and the onerous intrusions and abrasions of t h e cold war. For its J u n e 7, 1 9 9 9 , issue, Time magazine put on its c o v e r a C h i n e s e eye peering through a star with a red background. T h e headline read

T H E NEXT COLD WAR?

T h e C o x R e p o r t has subsequently b e e n widely discredited and den o u n c e d by scientists a n d policy i n t e l l i g e n c e experts. Notably, a S t a n ford U n i v e r s i t y study c o n d e m n e d t h e report for its "sloppy research,

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factual errors, and weakly justified inferences." Less t h a n a m o n t h after its public release, t h e President's Foreign I n t e l l i g e n c e Advisory B o a r d said t h a t in t h e C o x R e p o r t "possible damage has b e e n m i n t e d as probable disaster; workaday delay and bureaucratic confusion h a v e b e e n cast as diabolical conspiracies." E v e n so, w h e n t h e C o x R e p o r t was issued, t h e tabloids had a field day. You would h a v e t h o u g h t every A m e r i c a n of C h i n e s e d e s c e n t is working for t h e C h i n e s e g o v e r n m e n t . T h e airwaves filled with t o x i c fumes from t h e wastelands of nativism, paranoia, and prejudice, suggesting t h a t C h i n e s e agents are embedded in all levels of our nation's most sensitive military facilities. L i s t e n i n g to talk radio after t h e C o x R e p o r t , I heard s o m e t h i n g profoundly disturbing: t h e wrenching, grating, ear-piercing, soul-shaking sound of t h e past m e e t i n g t h e present. T h o s e people I h e a r d — h o s t s and c a l l e r s — t h o u g h t t h e y were v o i c i n g their own opinions. B u t in fact t h e i r loathing, spite, and fear were e c h o e s from t h e past. For t h e soil of A m e r i c a n e x p e r i e n c e has b e e n fertilized b y two centuries o f racist r h e t o r i c and crude caricature whose m e m o r y traces are imbedded deeply in our social D N A . A n d yet it didn't start t h a t way. T h e founders of this n a t i o n were m e n of ideas; some were intellectuals. A l t h o u g h they didn't possess any firsthand knowledge of C h i n a , they were fascinated by what t h e y learned from contemporary Europeans w h o celebrated C h i n a as a prosperous and h a r m o n i o u s n a t i o n of industrious peasants and craftsmen governed by b e n e v o l e n t and moral rulers. B e n j a m i n F r a n k l i n marveled a t h o w t h e most populous country o n earth still " c l o t h e s its i n h a b i t a n t s with silk, while it feeds t h e m p l e n t i fully." F r a n k l i n e v e n upheld t h e C h i n e s e civilization as a model for t h e n e w country. " C o u l d we be so fortunate as to introduce t h e industry of t h e C h i n e s e , their arts of living and i m p r o v e m e n t s in husbandry, A m e r i c a m i g h t b e c o m e in time as populous as C h i n a , " F r a n k l i n wrote. J a m e s M a d i s o n wanted t o k n o w all h e could about C h i n e s e agricultural t e c h niques. J a m e s M o n r o e and T h o m a s Jefferson admired C h i n a ' s political

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disengagement as a m a r k of superiority and i n d e p e n d e n c e . Upper-class A m e r i c a n s prized C h i n e s e wallpaper, silk canopies, vases, and lacquered screens. G e o r g e W a s h i n g t o n b o u g h t a p o r c e l a i n d i n n e r service from C h i n a traders i n 1 7 8 6 . B u t t h e n tastes c h a n g e d , and t h e young n a t i o n saw C h i n a less as a m o d e l t h a n as a market. A m e r i c a n s needed m o n e y and wanted trade. B u t they h a d little to offer. Early in t h e n i n e t e e n t h century, m e r c h a n t s finally found a profitable export for t h e C h i n a trade—opium. T h e y realized they could do as t h e British were doing and redress our b a l a n c e of trade by exporting opium. T h e r e was a h i t c h : A m e r i c a had no opium. M e r c h a n t s h a d to go to India to buy it from t h e British. T h i s cut profits substantially so t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s encouraged t h e peasants in Turkey and Persia to grow opium, w h i c h they did. (Now, two hundred years later, we are paying Turkish peasants n o t to grow opium. C a l l it poetic j u s t i c e . C a l l it t h e long arm of t h e past.) S o o n every A m e r i c a n firm doing business with C h i n a was handling opium, with t h e most p r o m i n e n t firms in B o s t o n b e c o m i n g t h e lead traffickers. A m o n g t h e m were names t h a t would b e c o m e famous for o t h e r reasons: A b b o t t , Low, Forbes, Delano. G o v e r n m e n t agents k n e w a good thing w h e n they saw it. In 1 8 1 2 , B e n j a m i n W i l c o c k s was appointed A m e r i c a n consul i n C a n t o n , and three years later, he used his official seal to prevent t h e C h i n e s e from searching an o p i u m ship o w n e d by his family. A m e r i c a n s soon m o v e d on from t h e opium trade to what was called t h e "pig trade." A m e r i c a n ships began to transport indentured laborers from C h i n a t o B r i t i s h c o l o n i a l p l a n t a t i o n s i n t h e C a r i b b e a n , including C u b a . T h e y were called "coolies"—from t h e Hindi word kuli, m e a n i n g unskilled labor. Impoverished young C h i n e s e peasants were tricked, or kidnapped, and made to sign dubious labor c o n t r a c t s . T h e y were held in b a r r a c o o n s — p i g p e n s — u n t i l t h e y were p a c k e d o n t o ships, often in c h a i n s . T h e majority were brought t o L a t i n A m e r i c a where they were simply worked to death. In 1 8 5 5 a l o n e , five A m e r i c a n ships smuggled t h r e e thousand c o o l i e s from a southern C h i n e s e port t h a t was n o t offi-

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d a i l y o p e n for foreign trade. In 1 8 6 1 , as t h e first shots were being fired in our C i v i l W a r , t h e A m e r i c a n ship Norway made a harrowing journey from M a c a o to H a v a n a carrying 1,037 C h i n e s e m e n . During t h e voyage 1 3 0 died from dysentery and gunshot wounds. Historians tell us t h e survival rate a m o n g C h i n e s e shipped to C u b a was about as low as t h a t of t h e African slave trade. Do you see h o w t h e ideology grew? We saw t h e C h i n e s e as utilitarian o b j e c t s instead of h u m a n beings. T h e y b e c a m e e x o t i c curiosities for e x p l o i t a t i o n and amusement. P. T. B a r n u m o p e n e d a C h i n e s e museum at 5 3 9 Broadway in lower M a n h a t t a n whose m a i n a t t r a c t i o n b e c a m e a seventeen-year-old girl with tiny feet. B a r n u m advertised h e r as "the first C h i n e s e lady that has yet visited C h r i s t e n d o m . " A m e r i c a n traders published their memoirs, describing C h i n e s e merc h a n t s as "the greatest villains in t h e universe." W r o t e a Portsmouth, N e w Hampshire, trader: " T h e C h i n e s e of t h e present day are grossly superstitious . . . depraved and vicious gambling is u n i v e r s a l . . . they use pernicious d r u g s . . . are gross g l u t t o n s . . . bloodthirsty and inhuman." First trade, t h e n religion. O n e of t h e first A m e r i c a n missionaries to C h i n a wrote to his father: "I h a v e b e e n h e r e a week . . . and in that short t i m e have seen e n o u g h idolatries to call forth all t h e energies I h a v e . To see t h e a b o m i n a t i o n s practiced . .. and n o t to be affected with a deep sense of t h e depth to w h i c h this people h a v e sunk, is impossible to a warm C h r i s t i a n m a n . " A journal published in C h i n a for W e s t e r n missionaries concluded t h a t C h i n a was "a defective civilization." C o n n e c t t h e dots: trade t o religion t o culture. I n 1 8 2 4 , A m e r i c a ' s foremost philosopher rendered his j u d g m e n t on a land he h a d n e v e r visited and a people he h a d n e v e r known. R a l p h W a l d o E m e r s o n wrote:

T h e closer contemplation we condescend to bestow, the more disgustful is that booby nation . . . I have no gift to see a meaning in the venerable vegetation of this extraordinary people. They are tools for other nations to use. Even miserable Africa can say I have hewn the wood and drawn the water to promote the civiliza-

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tion of other lands. But China, Reverend Dullness, Hoary Ideot! All she can say at the convocation of nations must be—"I made the tea."

C o n n e c t t h e dots: trade, religion, culture, politics. I n 1 8 7 7 t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s was in t h e fourth year of a major depression. On t h e m o r n i n g of July 16 railroad workers b l o c k e d a train in W e s t Virginia to protest a wage cut. T h e strike spread—Buffalo, Pittsburgh, C h i c a g o , B o s t o n , Newark, t h e Midwest, t h e S o u t h . Federal troops j o i n e d t h e state militia to put down t h e unrest. Newspaper headlines warned of a n a r c h y and revolution. W a s h i n g t o n needed t o mollify t h e workers. T h e powers t h a t be needed a scapegoat. W h y n o t t h e C h i n e s e ? T h e y were subh u m a n , right? O p i u m smokers, "pig" workers, freaks, and h e a t h e n s all. N o w Chinese exclusion—immigration restriction—became a political p a n a c e a : to m a k e the angry w h i t e workers t h i n k t h a t t h e i r troubles were t h e fault n o t of t h e politicians, speculators, and bankers but of a weak, vulnerable minority o f C h i n e s e laborers. S c a p e g o a t i n g had b e e n hugely successful in California. During t h e presidential campaign o f 1 8 7 6 b o t h t h e R e p u b l i c a n and D e m o c r a t i c parties needed to take C a l i f o r n i a to win t h e e l e c t i o n . B o t h decided they c o u l d n ' t w i n t h e W h i t e House w i t h o u t running against a d e m o n . T h e C h i n e s e were an easy target. R e p u b l i c a n s demanded a congressional investigation o f t h e effects o f C h i n e s e immigration. T h e D e m o c r a t s went further, calling for legislation to "prevent further importation or immigration of t h e M o n g o l i a n race." Hateful i n v e c t i v e filled t h e air, aimed at C h i n e s e workers. T h e e l e c t i o n t h a t year produced t h e closest e l e c t o r a l margin i n t h e nation's history. T h e R e p u b l i c a n — R u t h e r f o r d B . H a y e s — w o n b y o n e v o t e i n the E l e c t o r a l C o l l e g e . T h e press said h e would n e v e r h a v e carried C a l i f o r n i a if there had n o t b e e n an a n t i - C h i n e s e p l a n k in t h e platform. B o t h parties got t h e message: n a t i o n a l political d o m i n a n c e would require t h e C a l i f o r n i a v o t e , and t h a t m e a n t running against t h e C h i n e s e . A n d t h a t m e a n t demonizing a whole people. O v e r t h e c o m i n g years t h e ideology t o o k on an apocalyptic fervor.

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A m b i t i o u s m e n b e c a m e apostles of m a l i c e for their o w n gain. Preparing t o run for t h e W h i t e House, S e n a t o r J a m e s G . B l a i n e c o n v e r t e d t o t h e cause. In a sp e e c h supporting t h e restriction to limit C h i n e s e immigration, he said,

T h e question lies in my mind thus: Either the Anglo-Saxon race will possess the Pacific slope or the Mongolians w i l l . . . you cannot work a man who must have beer and bread, and would prefer beer, alongside of a man who can live on rice. It cannot be done.

I n 1 8 8 1 R e p u b l i c a n senator J o h n M i l l e r o f California introduced a bill in Congress to suspend immigration of C h i n e s e laborers. He spoke for two hours on t h e S e n a t e floor:

T h e Chinese are inhabitants of another planet. . . machinelike .. . they are automatic engines of flesh and blood. W h y not discriminate? W h y aid in the increase and distribution over our domain of a degraded and inferior race, and the progenitors of an inferior sort of m e n . . . we ask you to secure to us American Anglo-Saxon civilization without contamination or adulteration. Let us keep pure the blood which circulates through our political system .. . and preserve our life from the gangrene of oriental civilization.

The New York Times called Miller's s p e e c h "A masterly s t a t e m e n t . . . admirable in temper and judicial in fairness." A popular c a r t o o n that year replaced t h e S t a t u e of Liberty in N e w York harbor with o n e of a C h i n e s e radiating "Filth," "Immorality," "Diseases," and " R u i n t o W h i t e Labor." A widely circulated pamphlet proclaimed " T h e Last Days of t h e N a tion." C h i n e s e were depicted as invaders and conquerors. T h e r e is an old proverb: " T h e fathers have e a t e n a sour grape, and t h e children's t e e t h are set o n edge." W h e n t h e news b r o k e about J o h n Huang and W e n Ho L e e , I listened to talk radio indict a whole people

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for t h e alleged transgressions of a few. In t h e angry voices of callers and t h e c o n d e s c e n d i n g snideness of t h e hosts, I heard e c h o e s of B o s t o n traders and Y a n k e e missionaries, of P. T. B a r n u m and R a l p h W a l d o E m e r s o n , J a m e s B l a i n e and J o h n Miller. A virus spread through t h e m o lecular m e m b r a n e s of A m e r i c a ' s o t h e r G N P , our gross n a t i o n a l psycholo g y — t h o s e subterranean c h a m b e r s , w h i c h send us their silent signals without our knowing their source. N o w you k n o w why I w a n t to tell t h e story of t h e C h i n e s e experie n c e i n A m e r i c a . O n P B S we've told t h e story o f t h e Jews i n A m e r i c a . T h e Irish i n A m e r i c a , t h e English i n A m e r i c a , t h e Italians i n A m e r i c a , and t h e Africans in A m e r i c a . B u t n o t this story. It, t o o , is a story of terror and tragedy. B u t it is also o n e of triumph. T h e C h i n e s e fought b a c k . A hundred years ago a twenty-two-yearold C h i n e s e c o o k n a m e d W o n g K i m A r k returned t o S a n F r a n c i s c o , t h e city of his birth, after visiting his parents in C h i n a . He was denied entry. I m m i g r a t i o n officers declared t h a t he was a laborer and could n o t enter t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s under t h e C h i n e s e E x c l u s i o n A c t . H e sued, arguing t h a t he was, by birth, a citizen. He t o o k his case all t h e way to t h e S u p r e m e C o u r t . T h e U n i t e d S t a t e s g o v e r n m e n t opposed h i m . T h e S o l i c i t o r G e n e r a l asked t h e S u p r e m e C o u r t : " A r e C h i n e s e c h i l d r e n b o r n in this country to share with t h e descendants of t h e patriots of t h e A m e r i c a n R e v o l u t i o n t o e x a c t e d qualification o f being eligible t o t h e presidency o f t h e n a t i o n ? " T o practically everyone's surprise, t h e S u p r e m e C o u r t said: " Y e s . " T h e C o u r t decided for t h e c o o k . C h i n e s e A m e r i c a n s w e n t o n t o c h a l lenge t h e C h i n e s e E x c l u s i o n A c t w i t h more t h a n 7 , 0 0 0 petitions i n state and federal courts—cases t h a t profoundly affected t h e course of A m e r i c a n jurisprudence and c o n t r i b u t e d t o t h e molding o f equal-protection jurisprudence under t h e F o u r t e e n t h A m e n d m e n t . E v e n as we m e e t here today, far away in N e w H a v e n , C o n n e c t i c u t , t h e president of Yale U n i v e r s i t y is w e l c o m i n g t h e C h i n e s e minister of e d u c a t i o n and a select group of Yale alumni and friends. T h e y are there, i n t h e G r a n d H a l l o f o n e o f A m e r i c a ' s oldest and most elite universities, to unveil a portrait of t h e first C h i n e s e to earn a diploma from an A m e r -

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i c a n university. His n a m e was Yung W i n g . He graduated from Yale in 1 8 5 4 at a t i m e w h e n C h i n e s e were considered by m a n y to be immoral h e a t h e n s . Yet Yung W i n g was highly regarded at Yale; he married a girl from a p r o m i n e n t Hartford family, befriended M a r k Twain, b e c a m e a naturalized citizen, and died h e r e . He did this at a t i m e in this country w h e n C h i n e s e were b e i n g massacred in western states and a C h i n e s e m a n could put his life at risk by speaking to a w h i t e woman. Yet Yung W i n g wasn't afraid to speak out or to fight t h e C h i n e s e E x c l u s i o n A c t . O n l y two states voted against t h a t a c t — M a s s a c h u s e t t s and C o n n e c t i cut. Yung W i n g ' s grandson says he c a n ' t h e l p t h i n k i n g t h a t Yung W i n g could h a v e b e e n a factor influencing that v o t e . He also established t h e C h i n e s e E d u c a t i o n a l Mission and brought 1 2 0 young C h i n e s e boys to A m e r i c a t o study W e s t e r n s c i e n c e and technology. S o m e o f t h e descendants of those first students are at t h e unveiling today. So is Yung Wing's grandson. You're part of this great story. T h e C o m m i t t e e of 1 0 0 reads like a who's who of C h i n e s e descent in A m e r i c a . Your success in corporate and h i g h - t e c h A m e r i c a and your leadership in politics, t h e arts, c o m m u n i c a tions, and literature confirm t h e latest c h a p t e r o f t h e C h i n e s e experie n c e in A m e r i c a . It's t h e story of how, in t h e last h a l f of t h e t w e n t i e t h century, C h i n e s e n o t only entered t h e mainstream o f A m e r i c a n society but rose to its p i n n a c l e . I don't k n o w h o w many of you shared t h e e x p e r i e n c e of r e j e c t i o n and exclusion suffered by earlier generations, but all of you are beneficiaries of t h e sacrifices they endured as they struggled to m a k e A m e r i c a their h o m e . You stand on t h e shoulders of brave ghosts. A personal n o t e . Thirty-five years ago President Lyndon J o h n s o n descended from a h e l i c o p t e r a t t h e base o f t h e S t a t u e o f Liberty. T h e r e h e signed into law t h e I m m i g r a t i o n and N a t i o n a l i t y A c t , w h i c h removed t h e previous quota system t h a t had favored n o r t h e r n and western European immigrants. His signature marked t h e true end of C h i n e s e e x c l u s i o n in A m e r ica. I was on t h a t h e l i c o p t e r with President J o h n s o n . I was thirty-one at t h e time, o n e o f his W h i t e House assistants w h o helped draft what h e said t h a t day. L e t me read it to you:

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This bill that we will sign today . . . is one of the most important acts of this Congress and this administration. For it does repair a very deep and painful flaw in the fabric of American justice. It corrects a cruel and enduring wrong in the conduct of the American Nation . . . This bill says simply that from this day forth those wishing to immigrate to America shall be admitted on the basis of their skills and their close relationship to those already here . . . T h e fairness of this standard is so self-evident.. . Yet the fact is that for over four decades the immigration policy of the United States has been twisted and distorted by the harsh injustice of the national origins quota system . . . This system violated the basic principle of American democracy . . . Today, with my signature, this system is abolished.*

A n d so it is. B u t we still h a v e work to do if we are finally to throw off t h e yoke of prejudice t h a t is our burden from t h e past.

*This was the system, embodied in legislation in 1 9 2 4 , that restricted immigration from southern and eastern Europe.

Part

III

POLITICS

A VISION Keynote

Address

for

Foundation's

OF T H E

the

National

Democratic

M A R C H

When 1 left the White House in hind.

1967

Legislative

Issues

8,

FUTURE Education

Conference

1991

for journalism,

1 left partisanship be-

As best I can remember, during these forty years my wife and I have

made

two

financial

ning for state

contributions

in

a

office far from where

we

partisan live.

race—for I

close

vote—journalists

and we allow the franchise of a civil muscle to atrophy at peril. invitation came ference

in

the organizers, Legislative variety

to deliver the

1991,

I

declined.

keynote speech at the

Foundation for

of opinions

and

the

they persisted,

because

sault on government sidetracked

by

George

Democratic Issues

Con-

and

the National

of exposing Democrats Republican

journalists

to

a and

I was persuaded.

And 1 was grate-

I had something on my mind.

The right-wing as-

that had H.

are citizens, So when the

to be sponsored by

purpose

ideas—conservative

analysts had also spoken over the years. ful

run-

Overnight came a renewed plea in writing from

explaining that the event was

Education

friends

W.

been

launched

Bush,

who

by was

Ronald Reagan, no

temporarily

antigovernment ideologue,

158

was

again

ballast;

gathering force.

they

were

no

role of government.

MOYERS

Furthermore,

longer

Bewildered

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articulating by

the

the

seemed

fundamental

at

sea

without

argument for

antigovernment populism on

the

the Right,

Democrats were functioning less and less as a grassroots party devoted to mobilizing citizens for

sustained participation

in

our political

had become essentially a fund-raising machine cial interests,

which only produced more

dinary

more

people

skeptical,

of its critical promises. political,

and

religious

This, forces

even

in the service

scandals

cynical,

is

essential

to

that

addressing

will own

but the party

they

of organized spe-

and gridlock

that made or-

in turn, played into the hands of the corporate, were

the

attempting

to

Americans

is everybody's

that claims it,

separate

government

Those of us who believe govern-

problems

needed once again to affirm why politics partisan truth,

Instead,

that government could fulfill any

from the people who were most in need of it. ment

life.

face

business.

in This

common is no

I wanted to tell the Democrats,

the future.

*

*

*

I was h o n o r e d by your invitation and I am pleased to be here. T h e c o m pany of so m a n y members of Congress recalls some of my happier m e m ories from an earlier i n c a r n a t i o n — m e m o r i e s of t h e H i l l . I spent t h e summer o f 1 9 5 4 o n t h e staff o f S e n a t o r Lyndon J o h n s o n . H e t o o k a fancy to letters I wrote on his b e h a l f and w h e n 1 finished graduate s c h o o l , he invited me b a c k in 1 9 6 0 . I was twenty-six. S i n c e t h e n , I h a v e spent my entire adult life in and around public affairs, as a congressional and presidential assistant, as an organizer for t h e P e a c e Corps, a newspaper publisher, and a broadcaster. I left partisanship b e h i n d w h e n I left t h e W h i t e House in 1 9 6 7 for journalism. B u t my roots are tangled with yours. In T e x a s I was nourished on mother's milk and F D R ' s speeches. I still c h e r i s h t h e party's defining stands. It was a D e m o c r a t i c president who inspired my father's g e n e r a t i o n to m e e t despair with courage and it was t h e same president who rallied t h e n a t i o n against H i t l e r and t h e warlords of J a p a n . A n o t h e r D e m o c r a t i c president drew t h e line against e x p a n s i o n of t h e S o v i e t e m -

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pire, c o m m i t t e d us to t h e generous r e c o n s t r u c t i o n of our vanquished foes, to t h e U n i t e d N a t i o n s , and called on us to support t h e n e w state of Israel. T w o D e m o c r a t i c presidents in t h e ' 6 0 s roused us to r e j e c t poverty as an act of G o d and segregation as immutable, so t h a t L B J , in his finest hour, could stand before t h e Congress and t h e n a t i o n and declare, " W e shall o v e r c o m e . " T h o s e are t h e m o m e n t s I r e m e m b e r most proudly from this party's history in my time. B u t I r e m e m b e r o t h e r things, t o o . We w e n t to war in V i e t n a m against a foe t h a t refused to mass his troops for our c o n v e n i e n c e ; we w e n t without either t h e preparation or speed so decisive in battle, and without t h e global consensus President G e o r g e H. W. B u s h organized against S a d d a m Hussein, and we went to war without t h e c o n fidence of t h e public t h a t gives c o n v i c t i o n to a cause and spares young soldiers from dying in a morass of ambiguity. So we left our successors a lost cause and a bloody mess, with our leadership spent, our budget broken, t h e dollar weakened, and t h e public embittered. T h e country's faith in t h e D e m o c r a t s ability to govern was so s h a k e n t h a t soon it was n o t principle but survival w h i c h defined t h e party's mission. Your adversaries delight in all this. For t h e m , given their ideological appetite for conformity, o n e party is enough. W h e n only o n e t e a m shows up to play, t h e o t h e r forfeits t h e game. Just t h e o t h e r day The Wall Street journal urged in an editorial t h a t D e m o c r a t s learn a lesson from t h e Persian Gulf. T h e lesson was t h a t you should be m o r e like R e p u b l i c a n s . It criticized—and listed t h e n a m e s of—those members of Congress, most o f t h e m D e m o c r a t s , w h o had voted against t h e use o f force i n t h e G u l f in favor of sustained i n t e r n a t i o n a l diplomacy and it suggested t h a t no D e m o c r a t will ever win t h e W h i t e House until t h e party sheds its image as a b u n c h of pacifists opposed to a "strong U . S . role in t h e world." T h a t , of course, is t h e usual c a r t o o n i s t distortion of realities t h a t we h a v e c o m e to e x p e c t from t h e R i g h t . Truth is, t h e Persian G u l f v o t e was an e x a m p l e of party politics at its b e s t — e x a c t l y because there were two parties to c h o o s e from, parties with c l e a r differences. B e c a u s e there is always m o r e t h a n o n e possible

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answer to an issue, voters n e e d to h e a r t h e c h o i c e s forcefully argued, as they were in this case. T h e editorial suggested t h a t t h e "central p r o b l e m " for t h e D e m o c r a t s who preferred c o n t i n u i n g t h e embargo instead of using force is t h a t they are "now seen to be so obviously wrong." W e l l , since t h e embargo was n e v e r given a c h a n c e to prove itself o n e way or another, no o n e knows w h e t h e r t h e idea was obviously wrong. In fact, w h e n t h e UN agreed on t h e s a n c t i o n s against Iraq, it was a m o m e n t w h e n an alternative to war was proposed and recognized and a c c e p t e d by t h e world community. T h a t G e o r g e H. W. Bush c h o s e war in no way diminishes t h e courage many of you demonstrated in framing a clear alternative to war. Furthermore, A m e r i c a n s were seriously divided over going to war in t h e Persian Gulf. As many did n o t w a n t war as did. A political system t h a t does n o t reflect t h e natural divisions of o p i n i o n will n o t long h o l d to its legitimacy. Your stand reflected at least h a l f t h e A m e r i c a n people and m u c h o f its leadership—including eight o f n i n e former defense secretaries, two r e c e n t c h a i r m e n o f t h e J o i n t Chiefs o f Staff, and articulate liberal and conservative voices alike. A principled stand remains h o n o r a b l e , no m a t t e r h o w politically vulnerable. C o n s c i e n c e , n o t conformity, defines A m e r i c a . Otherwise, we might still be British subjects. W h o remembers t h e names in t h e crowd t h a t voted for t h e G u l f of T o n k i n R e s o l u t i o n , b u t who c a n forget t h e names of W a y n e Morse and Ernest G r u e n i n g , who voted against it? It is an affront to d e m o c r a c y to require A m e r i c a n s to judge their political parties as if they were comparing identical twins. For t e n years now, t h e o t h e r party has e m b r a c e d t h e n o t i o n t h a t "war is t h e h e a l t h of t h e state," but in t h e long run, t h e future belongs to t h e party t h a t knows t h a t t h e h e a l t h o f t h e people precedes the h e a l t h o f t h e state. In t h e last decade, A m e r i c a has e x p e r i e n c e d t h e worst recession s i n c e t h e ' 3 0 s , t h e deterioration of our manufacturing base, a burst of speculation in stocks and bonds unequaled since 1 9 2 9 , and t h e biggest stock market collapse in nearly six decades. T h i s is t h e landscape described by K e v i n Phillips, t h e former R e p u b l i c a n strategist, whose bestselling

book

Electorate in

The the

Politics

of Rich

and

Poor:

Wealth

and

Reagan Aftermath describes h o w A m e r i c a

the

American

is dividing

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along cleavages of wealth, i n c o m e , race, education, opportunity, and h o p e . For millions, says Phillips, t h e A m e r i c a n dream is c r u m b l i n g — n o t just in inner-city ghettoes and farm townships, but in blue-collar n e i g h borhoods and e v e n middle-class suburbs. He offers t h e statistics to b a c k up his c l a i m . W e are rightly c o n c e r n e d that t h e future o f t h e newly emerging democracies of t h e dismantled East b l o c lives up to its first bright promise. B u t t h e thirty to forty m i l l i o n A m e r i c a n s living in poverty are m o r e i n n u m b e r t h a n t h e entire population o f East G e r m a n y and Hungary combined. T h e r e are more A m e r i c a n s without h e a l t h insurance t h a n there are people living in all of C e n t r a l A m e r i c a . Just look at today's lead story in The Wall Street Journal: thousands of W e s t Virginians are left in dire straits b y t h e collapse o f B l u e Cross and B l u e S h i e l d there. O n e o f t h e m is a thirty-two-year-old gas-line repairman who must n o w find a way to pay family medical bills of $ 3 6 , 0 0 0 on a yearly i n c o m e from two j o b s of $ 2 3 , 0 0 0 . "I couldn't pay off $ 3 6 , 0 0 0 in a lifetime," he says. H a l f of t h e c h i l d r e n who e n t e r our urban primary schools n e x t fall will fail to finish s c h o o l . Yet we spend four times as m u c h on the S t r a t e gic Defense I n i t i a t i v e — S t a r W a r s — t h a n we do on t h e early-education program H e a d S t a r t , w h i c h works. I n 1 9 7 0 , o n e i n seven A m e r i c a n s e x p e r i e n c e d poverty i n c h i l d h o o d or youth. In 1 9 8 0 , o n e in six. In 1 9 9 0 , o n e in five. As always, t h e burdens of poverty are falling disproportionately on African A m e r i c a n , Hispanics, and inner-city residents. It's outrageous t h a t o n e in every five c h i l d r e n is poor. B u t a m o n g b l a c k children, t h e percentage rises to nearly half. T h e population of poor b l a c k children in A m e r i c a is about equal to t h e entire population of Israel. T h e U n i t e d S t a t e s is t h e most murderous n a t i o n in t h e world, w i t h a h o m i c i d e rate t e n times as great as E n g l a n d or J a p a n . In many of our major cities c r i m e , as J o h n Lindsay famously said, "is a slow m o t i o n riot," c o m m i t t e d by small armies of hustlers, fundamentally illiterate and disc o n n e c t e d from anything anybody understands as being A m e r i c a n . Passing through those years without acquiring t h e capacity and m o t i v a t i o n

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required by a regular j o b , t h e y are likely to e n d up a ward of t h e governm e n t , a disability case, or a c o n v i c t e d c r i m i n a l . N i n e thousand b l a c k m e n are in prison in our nation's capital. O u r prison population actually e x c e e d s t h e n u m b e r o f Kuwaiti citizens. M e a n w h i l e , an epic is washing up on our shores—a n e w wave of immigrants from A s i a , C e n t r a l A m e r i c a , Africa, a n d t h e C a r i b b e a n . I n t h e Los A n g e l e s unified s c h o o l district, Hispanics are 6 2 p e r c e n t o f t h e s c h o o l population but four out of t e n of those H i s p a n i c kids will n e v e r m a k e i t through h i g h s c h o o l . B y t h e turn o f t h e century, according t o o n e study, most L a t i n o s will live in squalid towns without paved roads or e l e c t r i c i t y and stagger under h e a v y taxes to support S o c i a l S e c u r i t y and o t h e r old-age benefits for retired whites. T h e i n c o m e gap b e t w e e n rich and poor in A m e r i c a is greater t h a n at any time s i n c e records were first kept forty years ago. By several measures, t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s in t h e late t w e n t i e t h century leads all o t h e r major industrial n a t i o n s in t h e gap dividing t h e upper fifth of t h e popul a t i o n from t h e lower. T h e richest 2.5 m i l l i o n A m e r i c a n taxpayers will p o c k e t as m u c h m o n e y this year as t h e 1 0 0 m i l l i o n poorest c o m b i n e d . W h e n Phillips and others r e c o u n t such f i g u r e s , reactionaries accuse t h e m of fomenting "class warfare." B u t you don't h a v e to a d v o c a t e class warfare to a d v o c a t e fairness in A m e r i c a . T h e simple fact is t h a t e x t r e m e s of wealth and poverty u n d e r m i n e democracy. Poorly educated kids and illiterate adults get left o u t of democracy. C r i m e traumatizes democracy. A n d racism tribalizes d e m o c racy. T o g e t h e r these forces prevent us from developing a dynamic society t h a t creates opportunity for all A m e r i c a n s . It should be no secret to anyo n e t h a t what t h e richest and strongest members of society w a n t for t h e i r families is w h a t all m e m b e r s of society w a n t for theirs, t o o . T h e y w a n t t h e i r c h i l d r e n to grow up and function independently. T h e y want a p l a c e t h e y c a l l h o m e . T h e y w a n t t h e m e a n s t o c o p e w i t h illness a n d o t h e r misfortunes. T h e y want enough m o n e y for a sufficient living and a secure old age. T h e y w a n t to live freely as citizens w i t h o u t fear. A n d t h e y want to c o n t r i b u t e s o m e t h i n g to society.

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A society whose e c o n o m y c a n n o t m a k e these opportunities widely available is deeply in trouble, no m a t t e r h o w m a n y glorious victories it wins over third-world dictators. A s t h e N o b e l laureate e c o n o m i s t K e n n e t h A r r o w has written, " T h e vast inequalities of i n c o m e w e a k e n a society's sense of mutual c o n c e r n .. . T h e sense t h a t we are. all members of t h e social order is vital to t h e m e a n i n g of civilization." Travel t h e country today and you h e a r in person what t h e pollsters report in percentages. People believe t h e i r g o v e r n m e n t and its policy makers h a v e failed t h e m — t h a t t h e system no longer produces solutions to our problems. T h e y are talking about t h e fact t h a t schools are n o t adequately educating t h e i r children, t h a t t h e e n v i r o n m e n t is polluted, t h e federal deficit grows, t h e cost of h e a l t h care keeps rising, and unfettered develo p m e n t threatens t h e quality of life in their c o m m u n i t i e s . It's n o t surprising t h a t millions of A m e r i c a n s are restless to get on with our revolution—working together to create "a more perfect union." In their b o o k Starting with the People, D a n i e l Y a n k e l o v i c h and S i d n e y H a r m a n c o n c l u d e that "People do n o t buy t h e premise that t h e i r role is merely to listen passively, absorb information t h e experts pass out, and t h e n c h o o s e a m o n g t h e experts." T h e 1 9 9 1 report Citizens and Politics by t h e K e t t e r i n g F o u n d a t i o n concludes:

W h e n it comes to politics, Americans are both frustrated and downright angry. They argue that politics have been taken away from them—that they have been pushed out of the political process. This feeling of impotence is revealed for instance in a fervent belief that individual citizens can no longer have their voice heard on important public issues. T h a t many, if not most public issues are talked about by experts in ways that neither connect with the concerns of citizens nor make any sense to them. It is revealed also in citizens' belief that they have been squeezed out of politics by a system dangerously spiraling out of control, a system made up of lobbyists, political action committees, special interest organizations, and the media . .. T h e y sense that we risk losing

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something precious to the meaning of the American experience .. . that the very meaning of the public good is disappearing in a sea of self-seeking.

I travel frequently and widely as a journalist. I h e a r A m e r i c a n s t a l k seriously about public life and our c i v i c culture. I hear t h e m saying they want to signify morally and t h e y want their country to signify morally, t o o . V a c l a v H a v e l talks about a n e e d "to i n j e c t ideas of spirituality, mutual understanding, and mutual t o l e r a n c e i n t o t h e affairs of state." T h e s e ideas exposed t h e hollowness of S o v i e t shibboleths and forged resistance to one-party d o m i n a t i o n . T h e y kept alive t h e n o t i o n of a participatory public, of people a c c o u n t a b l e for t h e i r own destiny. I find traces of these ideas in A m e r i c a today. Perhaps they are no bigger at t h e m o m e n t t h a n t h e mustard seed. B u t we k n o w what happens to t h e mustard seed. So I see two important stories are emerging in t h e i n t e r s e c t i o n b e t w e e n t h e secular and t h e spiritual, b e t w e e n G o d and politics. O n e is t h e a t t e m p t to find a n e w vision for A m e r i c a w h i c h has t h e authority and power of a religious vision but w h i c h is i n c l u s i v e — n o t sectarian. At its best, religion's great a c c o m p l i s h m e n t has b e e n to c r e a t e social bonds based on love, j u s t i c e , a n d mutual respect. In a pluralistic and secular democracy, w h a t gives us that energizing and organizing vision now? H o w c a n we be properly e n t h u s i a s t i c — h o w do we h o n o r t h e religious s e n s e — w i t h o u t denying reason? W h a t does it m e a n to be inspired? In o t h e r words, h o w is t h e hunger of t h e soul to be suitably filled? T h e second story is t h e effort to rewrite our own history so t h a t we c a n tell t h e truth about A m e r i c a and still b e proud o f t h e country. S o m e where b e t w e e n t h e righteous R i g h t and t h e cynical Left is a real country people c a n recognize and improve without having to deny t h e dark side o f o n e e x p e r i e n c e . President B u s h c h o k e d up t h e o t h e r day as he recalled t h e televised s c e n e of four terrified Iraqi soldiers, emerging from t h e i r bunkers to surrender to an A m e r i c a n soldier w h o told t h e m , "It's O K . You're all right now. You're all right." T h e president said, " W e are a good people, we are

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a generous people." I thought: Yes, but w h a t about all those Iraqi soldiers and civilians—people whose only offense was t h e i r inability to escape Saddam's tyranny and our t e c h n o l o g y — w h o were smashed to a pulp by A m e r i c a n power? S a d d a m is said by psychologists to be t h e i n c a r n a t i o n of "malignant narcissism"—willing to use others' pain for one's own purpose. We did his dirty work for h i m and made t h e m pay t h e penalty for t h e i r leader's transgressions. Following t h e president's address to Congress t h a t same night, I saw a n o t h e r television report. A c a m e r a h a d recorded Los A n g e l e s p o l i c e swinging t h e i r nightsticks at a b l a c k motorist, jostling o n e a n o t h e r to t a k e turns h i t t i n g and k i c k i n g h i m until he was battered and bruised and bleeding. N o t long before, President B u s h had praised t h e Los A n g e l e s c h i e f o f p o l i c e i n o n e o f those generalized b e n e d i c t i o n s t h a t t a k e n o n o t e of c o m p l e x A m e r i c a n realities. Yes indeed, while we c a n be "a good people, a generous people," our record is stained by cruelty, racism, and c h a u v i n i s m . D e d i c a t e d t o t h e proposition t h a t all m e n are created equal, A m e r i c a n s still violently dispossessed t h e Indian and nurtured slavery in t h e cradle of liberty. So w h a t is t h e story we c a n write t h a t does n o t deny our sin but does n o t end in cynicism? H o w c a n we write our story so t h a t it is m e a n i n g ful e v e n w h e n t h e truth is uncomfortable? We begin by resurrecting t h e n e g l e c t e d side of the A m e r i c a n story. Individual initiative succeeded only w h e n it led to a strong system of mutual support. Laissez-faire had given England seven-day workweeks, twelve-hour workdays, and filthy, dangerous factories. B u t h e r e in A m e r ica, we would m o v e beyond t h e philosophy of "live and let live" to t h e active and affirmative n o t i o n of "live and help live." I couldn't sit in my clearing while you sweated and strained a l o n e to raise your barn. N e i g h bors c a m e t o g e t h e r to h e l p . B a r n raisings b e c a m e a social o c c a s i o n , a way of expressing solidarity and caring. You helped to deliver o n e another's babies. W h e n a family was sick, you t o o k turns sitting at t h e bedside or helping with t h e meals. You helped bury t h e dead. Before my father died last year, we sat on his p o r c h in Marshall, T e x a s , as he reminisced about his o w n c h i l d h o o d in a family of poor

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farmers living near the R e d R i v e r b e t w e e n O k l a h o m a and Texas. He was fourteen w h e n his father died during t h e flu epidemic of 1 9 1 8 . N e i g h bors washed his father's body, neighbors dug t h e grave, and neighbors laid my grandfather in t h e earth. E v e n as late as my h i g h - s c h o o l days, my father and others in t h e c h u r c h would sit all n i g h t at t h e funeral h o m e beside t h e corpse of a friend. I o n c e asked h i m , " W h y did you do that, k n o w i n g you had to work hard all t h e n e x t day driving a truck?" He looked at me as if I were an ignoramus and answered, " B e c a u s e it was just t h e t h i n g we did." Just the thing W E did. I often remind audiences of t h e historical marker n o t far from where I grew up w h i c h records t h a t in 1 8 4 2 , o n e J o h n M c G a r r a h brought his family to Texas and settled there, founding t h e town of Buckner. S o o n a c h u r c h was built, t h e n a s c h o o l , t h e n a trading p o s t — i n d i c a t i o n s t h a t neighbors had settled nearby. Four years later, on July 4, 1 8 4 6 , J o h n M c G a r r a h and his neighbors elected t h e i r first public officials and opened a post office. T h e marker captures t h e story of civilization, t h e progression from solitary initiative to social c o o p e r a t i o n . First the prime family unit; t h e n t h e wagon train; t h e n t h e c h u r c h and t h e school for worship and learning; t h e n a trading post for t h e goods of survival and comfort; t h e n local g o v e r n m e n t for roads and public order; t h e n t h e post office for c o m m u n i c a t i o n s with others; t h e n a public holiday for c e l e b r a t i o n and recreation. S t a n d i n g there, as I did h i t c h h i k i n g to college, I began to understand t h e web of c o o p e r a t i o n j o i n i n g individuals to family, friends, c o m munities, and country, creating in e a c h a sense of r e l i a n c e on t h e whole, a r e c o g n i t i o n of t h e self in c o m p a n i o n s h i p w i t h others, sharing powerful loyalties. R o b e r t B e l l a h speaks of "habits of t h e heart." O u r c h a l l e n g e is to c r e a t e a political culture that nurtures obligation, reciprocity, and trust, to bring about policies t h a t h a v e wide public support. I c a n hear some of you say, "Moyers, you're just being r o m a n t i c . T h e frontier is long g o n e . L e t t h e dead bury t h e dead." In o n e sense, that's true. As R o b e r t R e i c h tells us in Tales of a New America, we don't h a v e c o m m u n i t i e s and neighborhoods t h e way we used t o . R a t h e r , more

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A m e r i c a n s lived o n military bases i n t h e ' 8 0 s t h a n i n w h a t could b e called " n e i g h b o r h o o d s " in t h e traditional sense—card games on t h e front porch, kids running over lawns and fields, c o r n e r soda fountains, e t c . T h e majority today live i n suburban subdivisions t h a t e x t e n d helterskelter in every direction, bordered by highways and punctuated by large shopping malls; or in c o n d o m i n i u m s , t o w n houses, co-ops, and retirem e n t c o m m u n i t i e s t h a t provide privacy and safety; or they i n h a b i t dilapidated houses and apartments. T h a t old sense of c o m m u n i t y is gone, depriving us of shared loyalties and landmarks, making us more nervous, vulnerable, and a m e n a b l e to n o n s e n s e and v i o l e n c e . Fearful and fragmented, we seek refuge in t h e comfortable lie rather t h a n face t h e uncomfortable truth. T h e lie is J o h n W a y n e : t h e e m b o d i m e n t of t h e rugged individual as savior of t h e W e s t . T h e truth is t h e wagon train: if we don't get there together, we won't get t h e r e at all. At root this is a moral enterprise. Before J o h n M c G a r r a h could h a v e a trading post, there had to be a community, and there couldn't be a c o m m u n i t y unless its members agreed on t h e difference b e t w e e n a horse trader and a horse thief. T h e distinction, as Edward Ericson says, is e t h ical. W i t h o u t it, society is a war of all against a l l — a free m a r k e t for wolves b e c o m e s a slaughter for t h e lambs. A stable system of law, c l e a n and safe streets, secure pensions, and schools where c h i l d r e n learn w h e t h e r they live in r i c h n e i g h b o r h o o d s or poor—all of this is part of t h e bargain w e strike with o n e another. T h e myths notwithstanding, our society is d e p e n d e n t on a far-reaching a n d c o m p l e x organizational and institutional network. Every personal need, every want we satisfy, practically every a c t i o n we take, our very ability to survive depends on a tremendously c o m p l e x production and delivery system t h a t e x t e n d s n o t only across t h e n a t i o n but sometimes across t h e e n t i r e world. We live, in o t h e r words, in a highly c o m p l e x country where we are all c o n n e c t e d . G o v e r n m e n t has b e c o m e bigger and more centralized, n o t because we h a v e b e c o m e careless of our freedoms or morally lazy in our c o m m i t m e n t to individual values, but because t h e important tasks t h a t n e e d to be d o n e in our n a t i o n today are beyond t h e r e a c h of indi-

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vidual m e n and w o m e n . M a k i n g our society w o r k — t h e flourishing of civilization—is everyone's business. It's what we do. O u r individual freed o m depends upon our participating m e m b e r s h i p i n democracy. T h e party t h a t translates this vision i n t o politics will lead our country in t h e twenty-first century.

14.|

SO

Memorial February

GREAT A SOUL Service

21,

for

Barbara

1936-January

JANUARY

Jordan,

17,

28,

1996

1996

Barbara Jordan's booming voice mesmerized the nation in Judiciary

Committee

took

up

the

impeachment

1974 as

the House

of Richard Nixon:

"My

faith

in the Constitution is whole; it is complete; it is total. And I am not going to sit here and be an idle spectator to struction, she

of the Constitution."

had not been

drew up

the

the diminution,

daughter

"We

the

nation's political compact. of a

warehouse

magna cum laude from college, sity, three

and came home years

until she

People" There

she became

clerk

and

when

the

Founding Fathers

is no more

dramatic personal

to fulfill that compact than Barbara, Baptist

preacher,

who

obtained her law degree from Boston

graduated Univer-

to Houston to practice law out of her parents' home for saved enough

election to the Texas Senate, colleagues,

the de-

Yet as she also said in that electrifying speech,

included in

story in the unfolding of the long struggle the

the subversion,

money

to open an office.

After winning

where she also won over her thirty white male

the first black woman from a Southern state

to serve

170

in

Congress.

mise as

She

personified

the art of politics.

BILL

|

tenacity,

MOYERS

mastered

from

multiple

sclerosis

young people to see is

the

between

necessary the

grasped

compro-

and

operating

University of Texas, from

a

where,

wheelchair,

she

sufferinspired

that politics at its best, for all the wheeling and dealing,

and

people

and

We became friends after she left Congress to teach

at the LB] School of Public Affairs at the ing

detail,

enabling means

and

their

of democracy,

representatives.

could belt out an old Baptist hymn like

At

Barbara.

requiring an parties

and

ethical

salons

no

bond one

Only in her final hours did

J know that she had asked me to speak when she would not be there to sing.

*

*

*

W h e n D e a n M a x S h e r m a n called t o tell m e t h a t Barbara J o r d a n was dying and t h a t she h a d asked me to speak at this service, I h a d b e e n reading a story in t h a t morning's New York Times about t h e discovery of forty billion new galaxies to go with t h e t e n billion we already knew about. As I put t h e p h o n e down, I thought: It will t a k e an infinite c o s m i c vista to a c c o m m o d a t e so great a soul. T h e universe has b e e n getting ready for her. Now, at last, she has an amplifying system equal to h e r v o i c e . As we gather in her memory, I c a n imagine t h e c a d e n c e s of h e r e l o q u e n c e e c h o i n g at t h e speed of light past orbiting planets and pulsars, past b l a c k holes and white dwarfs and hundreds of millions of sunlike stars, until t h e w h o l e c o s m i c spectrum stretching out to t h e far fringes of space toward t h e very origins of t i m e resonates to h e r presence. T h e day after h e r death, t h e h e a d l i n e in t h e Houston Chronicle read: A V O I C E F O R J U S T I C E DIES.

A n d I thought: N o t so. T h e body, yes: "dust to

dust and ashes to ashes." B u t t h e voice t h a t speaks for j u s t i c e j o i n s t h e music o f t h e spheres. W h a t does t h e universe e v e n k n o w o f j u s t i c e unless informed by a Barbara Jordan? C o c k your ear toward t h e mysterious and invisible m a t t e r that shapes t h e galaxies and sustains their c o h e r e n c e , and you will h e a r n o t h i n g o f justice. O n matters o f m e a n i n g and morality t h e universe is dumbstruck, t h e planets silent. O u r n o t i o n s of right and wrong, of how to live together, c o m e from our prophets, n o t

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from t h e planets. It is t h e human v o i c e t h a t c o m m a n d s j u s t i c e to roll down "like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream." A n d what a v o i c e this was! T h e y say t h a t after T h e o d o r e R o o s e v e l t was in h e a v e n a few days, he c o m p l a i n e d to S t . P e t e r t h a t t h e c h o i r was weak and should be reorganized. " A l l right," said S t . Peter, "reorganize it." A n d Teddy R o o s e v e l t replied: " W e l l , I'll n e e d 1 0 , 0 0 0 sopranos, 1 0 , 0 0 0 altos, and 1 0 , 0 0 0 tenors." " A n d what about t h e basses?" asked S t . Peter. " O h , " said Teddy R o o s e v e l t , "I'll sing bass." W e l l , they c a n all retire in h e a v e n now. Sopranos, altos, t e n o r s — and Teddy, t o o . T h e r e ' s a new c h o i r in town, and she's a Baptist from t h e Fifth W a r d in Houston. Barbara was singing t h e last time we were together. T h e r e were twoscore of us at Liz Carpenter's up on S k y l i n e Drive, b e l t i n g forth old favorites from t h e B r o a d m a n and Cokesbury hymnals. " S t a n d i n g on t h e Promises," " T h r o w O u t t h e Lifeline," " T h e O l d Rugged Cross." A n d spirituals, t o o . "Swing Low, S w e e t C h a r i o t , " " D e e p River," " M y Lord, W h a t a M o r n i n g . " Friends h a v e said h e r music often eased t h e smarting wounds of h e r long b a t t l e w i t h multiple sclerosis. B u t this night some o t h e r wellspring opened as she sang o n e of h e r favorite blues songs. Hands on t h e arms of h e r e l e c t r i c chariot, t h a t big head tilted b a c k , a mischievous gleam of light in h e r eyes, she sang "Nobody Knows You W h e n You're D o w n and O u t . "

It's mighty strange, without a doubt Nobody knows you when you're down and out I mean, when you're down and out

As I recall t h a t m o m e n t now, t h e B a r b a r a J o r d a n who appears in my mind's eye is not t h e mature, powerful, accomplished, and c e l e b r a t e d w o m a n whose music filled our c i r c l e of fellowship t h a t n i g h t . N o , I see a small c h i l d in H o u s t o n looking up at a water fountain posted

WHITES

O N L Y . I see a little girl riding in t h e b a c k o f t h e bus to a m o v i e she has

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to e n t e r through a side door to sit in t h e b a l c o n y as prescribed by law. I see a teenager in a segregated h i g h s c h o o l preparing to go, as e x p e c t e d , to an all-black c o l l e g e . A n d I see t h e young c o l l e g i a n leading t h e T e x a s S o u t h e r n debating t e a m and placing first in oratory against all w h i t e opp o n e n t s but required, e v e n in victory, to sleep in quarters and e a t in restaurants "for coloreds only." I see a young w o m a n c o m i n g b a c k from B o s t o n t o o p e n h e r law p r a c t i c e o n t h e d i n i n g - r o o m table o f h e r parents' modest b r i c k house at a t i m e t h a t no white firm would h i r e her. I see h e r running for office and losing. R u n n i n g a g a i n — a n d losing. B u t e a c h t i m e , getting up and c o m i n g b a c k without bitterness or rancor, a n d on h e r third t i m e , winning. I see h e r arriving in A u s t i n , a political oddity and outcast, and I see h e r just six years later, S p e a k e r pro tem of t h e Texas Senate. H o w does it h a p p e n t h a t w h e n "nobody knows you w h e n you're down a n d out," Barbara k n e w herself? A l l along t h e way, with t h e shadow of J i m C r o w falling across h e r every step like an eclipse of t h e sun, she k n e w herself. S h e k n e w h e r family, t o o — h e r mother, A r l y n e , and father, B e n j a m i n , w h o o n c e told h e r : "I'll stick with you and go with you as far as you want to go." A n d R o s e m a r y and B e n n i e — s h e k n e w her sisters and t h e songs they sang together. A n d she k n e w t h e people of G o o d H o p e Missionary Baptist C h u r c h , where reportedly t h e Lord called often. S h e k n e w h e r ancestors, t o o . N o t only t h e bloodlines running b a c k to t h e sharecroppers and t e n a n t farmers and former slaves and proud Africans, but h e r p o l i t i c a l lineage as well. S o c r a t e s was Barbara's kin; with h i m she believed you c a n n o t h a v e a h e a l t h y state w h e n "you h a v e o n e h a l f t h e world triumphing a n d t h e o t h e r plunged in grief." A n d P l a t o was h e r kin, e x h o r t i n g young people, as she did, to "take part in t h e great c o m b a t , w h i c h is t h e c o n t e s t of life." M o n t e s q u i e u was h e r kin, w h o said t h e state of nature bestows on us equality t h a t society t h e n robs from us, and we r e c o v e r it "only by t h e p r o t e c t i o n o f t h e laws." W i t h h i m , she would h o l d t h a t " a g o v e r n m e n t is like everything else; to preserve it, we must love it." E d m u n d B u r k e was h e r kin, w h o h e l d t h a t "all persons possessing

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any portion of power ought to be strongly and awfully impressed with t h e idea t h a t they act in trust; and t h a t they are to a c c o u n t for t h e i r c o n d u c t in t h a t trust to the o n e great Master, A u t h o r , and Founder of society." A n d L i n c o l n — L i n c o l n was surely Barbara's k i n , who said, " W e will m a k e c o n v e r t s day by day. A n d unless truth be a mockery and j u s t i c e a h o l l o w lie, we will be in t h e majority after a while . . . " W h o also said, " T h e b a t t l e of freedom is to be fought out on principle." D e a d white males—from G r e e c e , F r a n c e , England, and Illinois. A n d a b l a c k w o m a n from H o u s t o n . K i n . N o t b y blood. N o t through t h e c o l o r of skin. N o t from place of birth or tribe of origin. N o t by station, rank, or office. N o , kinship in this universal republic is forged from t h e love of truth, t h e passion for liberty, and t h e c o n v i c t i o n t h a t j u s t i c e c a n n o t long be denied if a people are to prosper. W h a t made Barbara so effective is t h e way she brought those ideas to d o w n - h o m e politics. True, she was an extraordinary speaker. ( I t was said of t h e famous M e t h o d i s t preacher G e o r g e W h i t e f i e l d t h a t " H e could

make

men

laugh or

cry

by

pronouncing

the

single

word

' M e s o p o t a m i a . ' " Barbara could do it with t h e word " C o n s t i t u t i o n . " ) B u t h e r a m b i t i o n was n o t a few lines of immortality in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations. N o r was she c o n t e n t just to capture your heart. S h e wanted your v o t e . S h e began i n H o u s t o n politics licking stamps and k n o c k i n g o n doors; they still talk about t h e t i m e she organized t h e city's first b l a c k p r e c i n c t drive for K e n n e d y and J o h n s o n in 1 9 6 0 . H e r e in A u s t i n , h a l f t h e bills she submitted for consideration were e n a c t e d into law. In a legislature t h a t was practically an oligarchy, she made things happen for laundry workers, d o m e s t i c helpers, and farm laborers. A n d up in W a s h i n g t o n , for only three terms, she so mastered t h e process and details of procedure t h a t n o t e v e n t h e craftiest patriarchs of Congress could outfox her. H e r 1 9 7 5 campaign t o h o l d T e x a s a c c o u n t able to t h e V o t i n g R i g h t s A c t was a triumph over e n t r e n c h e d and powerful opponents. A journalist colleague of m i n e said she was "as cozy as a pile driver, but considerably more impressive." B u t in h e r study of t h e

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parliamentary arts, she had clearly listened to t h e counsel of t h e experie n c e d , w h i c h holds t h a t "as w i t h sailing, so w i t h politics; m a k e your c l o t h t o o taut, and your ship will dip and k e e l , but s l a c k e n off and trim your sails, a n d things h e a d off again." M a y b e she got t h a t from h e r political godfathers, F r a n k l i n R o o s e v e l t and Lyndon J o h n s o n . R o o s e v e l t was a h e r o because h e r family owed to his e l e c t i o n t h e little brick house t h a t h e r grandfather was able to buy in H o u s t o n with h e l p from t h e H o m e F i n a n c e C o r p o r a t i o n . A n d L B J showed h e r h o w to m a n e u v e r a m o n g movers and shakers without being m o v e d and s h a k e n from h e r o w n principles. L i k e b o t h of t h e m , she understood that A m e r i c a ' s d e v e l o p m e n t owed m u c h of its story to t h e affirmative a c t i o n o f g o v e r n m e n t . F r o m t h e c o m m o n purse, throughout our history, h a d poured m o n e y for just about every i m p r o v e m e n t you could n a m e — c a n a l s , dams, roads, forts, river c h a n n e l s , m i n i n g and fishing rights, and e v e n orange groves. So s h e argued, as b o t h R o o s e v e l t and J o h n s o n had argued, t h a t t h e fruits of d e m o c r a c y belonged on t h e table o f t h e simplest h o m e n o less t h a n i n t h e b a n q u e t hall o f t h e grandest mansion. B u t she was no creature of g o v e r n m e n t . S h e went, she served, and she c a m e h o m e . A f t e r just six years in office, she voluntarily imposed term limits upon h e r career in Congress, long before there was a n a t i o n a l movement to make them

mandatory. W o o d r o w W i l s o n h a d said,

" T h i n g s get very lonely i n W a s h i n g t o n . T h e real v o i c e o f t h e great people of A m e r i c a s o m e t i m e s sounds faint a n d distant in t h a t strange city." N o t for Barbara J o r d a n . S h e heard t h e v o i c e o f t h e people, and she gave t h e people a v o i c e . T h e y held h e r i n respect approaching r e v e r e n c e . After h e r death, people w h o h a d n e v e r m e t h e r poured out their personal eulogies. I c a m e across o n e last Friday in a letter to t h e Los Angeles Times signed by a twenty-four-year-old immigrant from C h i l e n a m e d F a b i o Escobar. He said:

I did not grow up in the United States. I do not remember the Watergate Hearings or Jordan's keynote address at the 1 9 7 6 Dem-

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ocratic Convention. I only learned of her career while studying philosophy and political science at Cal State a few years ago. I never met her except through the books and tapes of her speeches. But I know Barbara Jordan's accomplishments extend far beyond the narrow scope of the political realm. S h e spoke for millions of individuals who yearned for leaders who would commit themselves to a core set of issues grounded not in polls, but in the solid footing of raw, personal conviction. No American politician of recent times has done that better than she did. S h e stood on conviction and fought for what she believed was right. This is the noblest and most difficult task a person can undertake, and she did it with exceptional quality.

T h i s , from a young m a n whose n a t i v e language was S p a n i s h . To people like F a b i o Escobar, Barbara J o r d a n was an inspiration; to others, a hero; to t h e lucky, a friend. To m e , she was all these things a n d s o m e t h i n g more. I n 1 9 8 7 , she b e c a m e m y muse. T h a t summer was t h e two-hundredth anniversary o f t h e C o n s t i t u tional C o n v e n t i o n in Philadelphia, where remarkable minds had talked t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s into being. T h a t r e m e m b r a n c e made t h e C o n s t i t u t i o n m y "beat" o n P B S t h a t year. S o m e o f t h e programs w e were producing were unabashedly celebratory; I still marvel t h a t any group of fifty-six prickly m e n , m e e t i n g in t h e breathless h e a t of an urban summer, could h a v e agreed on anything, let a l o n e a firm and lasting foundation for a n e w k i n d o f n a t i o n n o o n e h a d ever seen before. B u t some o f our programs t h a t summer were m u c h less hopeful and m u c h less inspiring— remember, in 1 9 8 7 , e v e n as we were c e l e b r a t i n g t h e making of t h e C o n s t i t u t i o n , we were also w a t c h i n g its a t t e m p t e d undoing as t h e IranC o n t r a scandal revealed yet o n e more conspiracy t o subvert t h e C o n s t i t u t i o n by those sworn to uphold it. R e p o r t i n g on t h a t scandal, I kept c l o s e to my heart Barbara's stirring words during t h e W a t e r g a t e hearings scarcely a decade earlier. S h e h a d electrified t h e n a t i o n w h e n she h a d famously declared h e r whole and t o tal faith in t h e C o n s t i t u t i o n despite h a v i n g b e e n excluded from it b e -

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cause o f h e r race. T h e c o n v e n t i o n o f 1 7 8 7 h a d decided people like her were " 6 0 p e r c e n t a person," w h i c h is h o w slaves were to be e n u m e r a t e d for t h e purposes of representation. B u t t h e truth is, in h e r understanding of j u s t i c e , Barbara J o r d a n would h a v e fit right in with any of t h e 1 0 0 perc e n t w h i t e m e n in that hall, two hundred years ago, in Philadelphia. G e o r g e M a s o n h a d asked: " S h a l l any m a n b e a b o v e j u s t i c e ? " E d m u n d R a n d o l p h h a d declared: " G u i l t wherever found ought t o b e punished." A n d G o u v e r n e u r Morris had said: " T h e Magistrate is n o t t h e King. T h e people are t h e King." H e r e is what Barbara J o r d a n said: " I f the society today allows wrongs to go u n c h a l l e n g e d , the impression is c r e a t e d t h a t those wrongs h a v e t h e approval o f t h e majority." A n d this: "Justice o f t h e right i s always t o take p r e c e d e n c e over might." T h e founders would h a v e b e e n lucky t o h a v e had h e r i n t h a t C o n stitutional C o n v e n t i o n . If she had b e e n present, it would h a v e t a k e n far less t i m e for Barbara J o r d a n to be recognized as a whole person in t h e sight of t h e law, or for this country to fulfill its promise. As it is, t h e good fortune has b e e n yours and m i n e . Just w h e n we despaired of finding a h e r o , she showed up, to give t h e sign of democracy. Do you k n o w what t h e odds of this happening had to be? T h a t in a universe existing billions of years, with fifty billion galaxies and more, on a p l a n e t of modest size, c i r c l i n g an ordinary sun in an u n e x c e p t i o n a l galaxy, t h a t you a n d I would h a v e arrived in t h e same time zone as Barbara J o r d a n , a t s u c h a m o m e n t o f serendipity t o b e t o u c h e d b y this o n e woman's life, to e n c o u n t e r h e r spirit and her faith? T h i s is no small thing. C a l l it grace.

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MONEY TALKS

Sacramento

Community

24,

N O V E M B E R

Center

1997

You would think the measure of any democratic system of politics would be its ability nothing

to address seems

to

the problems be

working

that it has created for itself. to

anyone's

But in America

satisfaction—except,

that

is,

the

wealth machine that keeps enriching the people at the top. For them, the system puts King Midas, with his golden touch,

to shame.

rangement—"the

producing

system"—might

not

be

Merely to suggest this arthe

best

results

multitudes brings down opprobrium and charges of "class warfare" tic.

So

the multitudes go on faithfully voting (well,

for

the

on the skep-

at least half of them do),

knowing that the savior on the ballot likely will turn out to be one more pretender,

making only nominal changes

to a system

that is costly and inefficient

but thrives by rewarding the very people who have gamed it.

You will even hear

it argued that what ails us can't be cured by democracy. Alan Greenspan came down from Mount Olympus to tell T h e W a l l S t r e e t Journal that

"politics is

less important,

taking over

domestically,

than it was,

because globalization is

an ever increasing part of the decision-making process

..."

This prompted the

178

old curmudgeon Nicholas of saying,

and

longer adheres is

von Hoffman to snort:

their promises,

to the now puny

mortgages;

catch pneumonia;

but

offices

the power,

the decisive

way

power,

they are breaking their butts

hedge

can do anything about it. fund

managers

your grandmother is

home whose staff has been cut by that owns

"This is a fancy dancy

no

to get

" He is onto something: people are seized by a sense that everything

out of control and nobody

American

MOYERS

'You foolish little persons can get all worked up as you wish about

your candidates elected to.'

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sneeze

lying in

German funds

and

American

hold

workers

her own waste at a nursing

20 percent because

the private equity fund

the chain is squeezing every ounce of profit out of the business—and

to them it is just a business—in order quickly to dump it for a huge return on investment. This, we're told, is simply the way the world has to work if capitalism is to be served.

"Globalism is given to us as the ineluctable working out

of the laws of nature,

as though there is anything natural about a complex eco-

nomic system erected by human beings, but

according

to

their

own

will,

not according to

their pleasure,

their

the

laws of anything

confusions

and

their

lusts," von Hoffman writes, ft is a strange turn of events for a people who once sent

the

king's

men

packing.

Perhaps—God

forbid—it

will

calamity to shake us from the benign neglect of our own destiny. alternative

to saying nothing:

take

a

costly

But there is an

break the monopoly control of the moneyed inter-

ests that fund our politicians and buy the power to set our agenda. Public funding of elections is our only way to compete with the private money that pours into

campaigns.

It's

no pipe

dream.

Several

states

and

municipalities

have

shown us that public funding can help level the playing field once people understand the stakes.

And there's plenty of evidence to convince them.

Many of my

speeches over the past ten years have been devoted to making that case based on what I found in my reporting of money

and politics.

Audiences respond fer-

vently when they realize how they are affected by the money that fuels the system that they sense is heading for the cliff. given ten years apart.

The following two speeches were

During that decade the money chase became more fren-

zied and our system more dysfunctional.

"We are asleep with compasses in our

hands," writes the poet W. S. Merwin. And the cliffs are dead ahead.

*

*

*

W h e n in doubt about w h e t h e r or n o t money in politics matters to you, consider this.

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It was just a couple of years ago t h a t controversy erupted o v e r t h e so-called date-rape drug R o h y p n o l . Rapists were found to be using it to drug and sedate t h e i r v i c t i m s before e x p l o i t i n g t h e m . S p a r k e d by public indignation, m e m b e r s of Congress m o v e d to designate t h e drug as a c o n trolled substance, w h i c h would h a v e m e a n t stiff penalties for its abuse. Lobbyists for t h e p h a r m a c e u t i c a l industry, w h i c h obviously does n o t c o n d o n e rape but does oppose regulation t h a t m i g h t interfere with its ast r o n o m i c a l profits, killed t h e effort. T h e y smothered it to d e a t h with money, big c o n t r i b u t i o n s t o R e p u b l i c a n s and D e m o c r a t s alike. T h e m o n e y talked and t h e politicians shut up. In 1 9 9 6 President C l i n t o n signed i n t o law a raise in t h e m i n i m u m wage from $ 4 . 2 5 t o $ 5 . 1 5 . T h e W h i t e House made a n elaborate c e r e m o n y of t h e signing, to underscore t h a t finally W a s h i n g t o n was giving A m e r i c a ' s working stiffs a break. O n l y later did we read t h e fine print. T h e bill actually c o n t a i n e d a lot of gifts to m u l t i n a t i o n a l c o r p o r a t i o n s — t a x breaks for banks, t a x breaks for newspaper publishers, t a x breaks for t h e very wealthy. Guess what? T h e y were big contributors to b o t h D e m ocrats and R e p u b l i c a n s . In W a s h i n g t o n you c a n ' t e v e n give working people a modest raise without giving big contributors a windfall. T h e cheers w e n t u p w h e n Congress and t h e president r e c e n t l y agreed to b a l a n c e t h e budget and c u t taxes. S o m e lobbyists weren't around to cheer. T h e y had skedaddled to t h e nearest bar to raise a glass t o their own success. T h e bill c o n t a i n e d billions o f dollars i n tax breaks for five industries t h a t since 1 9 9 5 c o n t r i b u t e d $ 3 5 m i l l i o n t o members o f C o n g r e s s — t o leaders in b o t h parties w h o h a v e t h e most influence o v e r w h o wins and w h o loses in any legislation. You ask: M o n e y talks, what's new? A n d you're right. T h i s is an old story. " T h e r e are two things t h a t are important in politics," said t h e wealthy O h i o businessman M a r k H a n n a . " T h e first is m o n e y and I c a n ' t r e m e m b e r what t h e s e c o n d o n e is." He said t h a t a hundred years ago. H a n n a was t h e first m o d e r n political fund-raiser. On b e h a l f of presidential c a n d i d a t e W i l l i a m M c K i n l e y , h e tapped t h e banks, insurance c o m panies, railroads, and o t h e r industrial trusts o f the late 1 8 0 0 s . T h e D e m o c r a t s ' W i l l i a m J e n n i n g s Bryan, w h o was perceived as a real c h a l -

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lenge to organized wealth due to his Populist roots, raised o n e - t e n t h as m u c h as H a n n a did for M c K i n l e y . Bryan lost. W h a t ' s n e w is this: politics today has b e c o m e an all-out arms race, with m o n e y doing t h e work of missiles. Federal e l e c t i o n s last year c o s t $ 1 . 6 b i l l i o n and t h a t could double i n t h e year 2 0 0 0 . T h e lid's off, and t h e biggest givers h a v e a n u c l e a r arsenal to unleash. In every e s c a l a t i o n of this arms race, t h e a n t e gets raised. Let's talk about t h e s e c o n d thing, w h i c h M a r k H a n n a forgot: democracy. O n e o f t h e networks r e c e n t l y c o m m i s s i o n e d a n interesting poll. Voters were asked, " D o you t h i n k our e l e c t e d representatives are dedic a t e d public servants o r lying windbags?" T h e response: 4 4 p e r c e n t — nearly h a l f t h e public—said our e l e c t e d officials were a b u n c h of lying windbags. Just 36 p e r c e n t said they thought e l e c t e d officials were dedic a t e d public servants. A n d this was true of voters regardless of their party. T h e r a n k a n d file of b o t h parties—as well as I n d e p e n d e n t s — s e e a b u n c h of lying windbags in W a s h i n g t o n , D . C . I w i n c e at t h e term, but that's h o w t h e poll put t h e question. W h e n asked w h o really c o n t r o l s W a s h i n g t o n , voters o v e r w h e l m ingly answered: special interests. N e a r l y e v e r y o n e t h i n k s c o n t r i b u t i o n s affect t h e v o t i n g b e h a v i o r o f Congress. A n d three-quarters o f t h e public says t h a t e l e c t e d officials c a r e m o r e about g e t t i n g r e e l e c t e d t h a n about doing what's best for t h e country. In a n o t h e r poll only 14 p e r c e n t of t h e people give members of Congress a h i g h rating for h o n e s t y and e t h i c a l standards. Is this w h a t politics has b e c o m e : a b u n c h of self-interested, lying windbags on t h e take from m o n e y e d special interests? I don't k n o w w h e t h e r to laugh or cry. On t h e o n e h a n d , these polls tell us t h a t A m e r icans are a pretty smart b u n c h and see through t h e surface reporting that passes for coverage of W a s h i n g t o n . On t h e o t h e r hand, there is a terribly important warning h e r e : A m e r i c a n s are disillusioned about d e m o c racy. T h e y feel betrayed, sold out. T h e anger, however, has produced apathy. Less t h a n h a l f of us

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b o t h e r to v o t e at all in our presidential e l e c t i o n s — c o m p a r e d to 80 perc e n t a century a g o — a n d only about a third in our congressional e l e c tions. In 1 9 9 6 fewer people b o t h e r e d to w a t c h t h e presidential debates or t h e parties' n a t i o n a l c o n v e n t i o n s t h a n ever before. Every n o w and t h e n a reporter from o n e of our big newspapers ventures o u t to listen to voters in t h e heartland and brings b a c k a h e a d l i n e like this o n e from The New York Times:

THE

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IN T H E CAPITAL BRINGS

A

YAWN

IN

PEORIA.

T h e reporter was trying to find out w h a t voters t h o u g h t about t h e hearings on campaign finance reform, and w h a t he found is t h a t people simply don't t h i n k W a s h i n g t o n has m u c h interest in what happens to t h e m in their daily lives. S o m e people don't t h i n k there's anything so terrible about this. R e publican S e n a t o r M i t c h M c C o n n e l l , w h o gloats about defeating e v e n t h e most modest efforts at political reform, thinks there's n o t h i n g at all to worry about in this great withdrawal from democracy. On the S e n a t e floor he declared: "Low v o t e r turnout shows t h a t people are happy with t h e j o b we're doing i n W a s h i n g t o n . " ( A s J i m Hightower says, " I f h e gets any dumber t h a n that, we're going to h a v e to start watering h i m twice a week.") M o r e t h a n h a l f o f ordinary A m e r i c a n s are n o t satisfied with t h e state of things; millions believe there has b e e n a hostile takeover of our e l e c toral and g o v e r n m e n t a l process. W e ' r e b e c o m i n g two A m e r i c a s , divided by our position in life and access to power. T h e i m p o r t a n t divide in politics is n o t R e p u b l i c a n s versus D e m o c r a t s but t h e "ins" versus t h e "outs." It's b e t w e e n t h e top 1 0 p e r c e n t o f A m e r i c a n s w h o o w n m o r e t h a n 6 0 p e r c e n t o f t h e entire nation's wealth and t h e m o r e t h a n 7 0 p e r c e n t o f people who h a v e essentially no n e t worth. B e t w e e n those whose c h i l dren go to t h e best schools and those whose children grow up poor. B e t w e e n those w h o are c o n n e c t e d and those w h o feel pushed aside by a system d o m i n a t e d by professional politicians and their contributors and consultants. As a result, our democracy is b e c o m i n g unresponsive and intractable i n t h e face o f radical capitalism—unfettered markets, t a x flight, and deterioration of t h e public sphere.

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I b e l i e v e t h e soul of d e m o c r a c y to be t h e fundamental n o t i o n of political e q u a l i t y — " g o v e r n m e n t of, by, a n d for t h e people," w h i c h means, as F D R o n c e defined it, t h a t "inside t h e polling b o o t h every A m e r i c a n m a n and w o m a n stands as t h e equal of every o t h e r A m e r i c a n m a n and w o m a n . T h e r e they h a v e n o superiors. T h e r e they h a v e n o masters save t h e i r o w n minds a n d c o n s c i e n c e s . " Perhaps. B u t R o g e r Tamraz has his o w n take on representation. Tamraz is t h e o i l m a n w h o paid $ 3 0 0 , 0 0 0 to t h e D e m o c r a t i c Party to get a m o m e n t at B i l l C l i n t o n ' s ear. He wanted t h e president to support a pipeline from Russia to t h e M e d i t e r r a n e a n t h a t would h a v e given h i m c o n t r o l o f exports from t h e C a s p i a n S e a , t h e richest undeveloped pool of oil left on earth. Tamraz h a d also made large c o n t r i b u t i o n s to Presid e n t R e a g a n — e n o u g h to e a r n h i m status as a " R e p u b l i c a n Eagle." A l l of this got h i m called before t h e r e c e n t S e n a t e hearings o n c a m p a i g n f i n a n c e , where his c a n d o r made h i m t h e star. His money, he said, h a d produced p o t e n t i a l benefits for h i m far beyond t h e pipeline project. He h o p e d it m i g h t someday lead to a foreign policy post. A f t e r all, he n o t e d , "a lot of our c a b i n e t ministers and a lot of our ambassadors" h a v e b e e n large donors—including, he said, F e l i x R o h a t y n , now ambassador to F r a n c e , and S e c r e t a r y of t h e Treasury R o b e r t R u b i n . If you were w a t c h ing t h e performance, you k n o w t h e senators put on a good show. T h e y fumed. T h e y expressed outrage. A t o n e p o i n t S e n a t o r Fred T h o m p s o n b o o m e d : " D o you t h i n k you h a v e a c o n s t i t u t i o n a l right to h a v e your business deal considered personally by t h e president of t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s ? " Tamraz looked right b a c k at h i m and said, " S e n a t o r , I go to t h e outer limits. W h y not? You set the rules and we're following. T h i s is politics as usual." A n d t h e n t h e p u n c h l i n e . In a final effort to shake h i m o n e s e n a t o r asked Tamraz if he had ever voted or registered to v o t e . N o , he replied, "I t h i n k [money] is a bit more t h a n a v o t e . " A n d there is t h e developer A n g e l o K. Tsakopoulos, here in S a c r a m e n t o . I n 1 9 9 5 h e was l o c k e d i n a nasty f i g h t o v e r d e v e l o p m e n t o f eight hundred acres o f pasture i n t h e southern part o f t h e county. T h e federal

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g o v e r n m e n t insisted on saving t h e wetlands a n d endangered species. Despite federal warnings, his work crews w e n t forward—without t h e required permits. Now, Tsakopoulos is a l o n g t i m e D e m o c r a t i c fundr a i s e r — $ 1 6 5 , 0 0 0 i n o n e year a l o n e . S o guess w h o got t o sleep i n t h e L i n c o l n B e d r o o m ? R-i-g-h-t. A n d guess w h o winds up sipping coffee with t h e president and n i n e o t h e r guests in t h e same r o o m where t h e course of W o r l d W a r II was charted? R i g h t again! A n d unless you were b o r n yesterday I'll b e t you c a n predict w h a t happened after he pressed his case a t t h e W h i t e House. You got it. A n E n v i r o n m e n t a l P r o t e c t i o n A g e n c y official in W a s h i n g t o n directed t h e W e s t C o a s t office to forego any major fines or criminal sanctions against t h e developer. O n e E P A official on t h e W e s t C o a s t admitted: "Mr. Tsakopoulos has a direct line to t h e W h i t e House." S a i d another, "He has clout, he has access . . . W e ' r e aware o f it." T h e U . S . Wildlife S e r v i c e e v e n waived its o w n policy requiring landowners to restore wetlands they destroy. I could go on. T h e c h a i r m a n and C E O of Federal Express bought his way i n t o t h e W h i t e House for a forty-five-minute o n e - o n - o n e session with t h e president to discuss a trade issue important to his company's lucrative business in A s i a . It was a legitimate issue, but e v e n the W h i t e House h a d to c o n c e d e t h a t individual businessmen pressing such causes are rarely granted exclusive access to t h e president. C e r t a i n l y people making m i n i m u m wage and h o p i n g to raise it couldn't afford t h e same privilege. T h r e e weeks after t h e m e e t i n g Federal Express gave $ 1 0 0 , 0 0 0 t o t h e D e m o c r a t i c N a t i o n a l C o m m i t t e e . W h e n I heard this, I t h o u g h t of t h e judge w h o called o n e of the opposing lawyers in a civil suit to the b e n c h and said, "Your o p p o n e n t gave me $ 5 , 0 0 0 last n i g h t to decide t h e case his way. I'm an h o n e s t m a n and c a n ' t be influenced. So why don't you give me $ 5 , 0 0 0 and t h e n I c a n decide it on t h e merits." We h a v e lost t h e ability to call t h e most basic t r a n s a c t i o n by its right n a m e . If a baseball player stepping up to h o m e plate were to lean over a n d h a n d t h e umpire a wad of bills before he called t h e p i t c h , we'd call t h a t a bribe. B u t w h e n a real estate developer buys his way i n t o t h e

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W h i t e House and gets a favorable g o v e r n m e n t ruling t h a t wouldn't be available to you or m e , what do we c a l l that? A "campaign c o n t r i b u tion." Let's call it w h a t it is: a bribe. A bribe is in effect w h a t N e w t G i n g r i c h a n d T r e n t L o t t got from t h e t o b a c c o industry: more t h a n $ 1 3 m i l l i o n in "soft m o n e y " to t h e R e p u b l i c a n Party s i n c e 1 9 9 5 . B e h o l d ! Earlier this year, without any debate or e v e n an acknowledged sponsor, G i n g r i c h and L o t t , with t h e c o m p l i c i t y o f t h e W h i t e House, slipped a $ 5 0 billion t a x credit t o t h e t o b a c c o c o m panies, w h i c h they were going to use to lower t h e cost of their pending s e t t l e m e n t of all those state lawsuits. O n l y after it was exposed and there was a vast outcry did b o t h houses of Congress rescind t h e giveaway. A n o t h e r e x a m p l e : t h e founder o f t h e A m w a y C o r p o r a t i o n , R i c h a r d D e V o s , gave m o r e t h a n a m i l l i o n dollars to t h e R e p u b l i c a n Party in t h e last two years. T h e n T r e n t L o t t and N e w t G i n g r i c h delivered a last-minute addit i o n to t h e t a x bill easing t h e burden on Amway's two A s i a n affiliates. It's estimated t h a t t a x break will c o s t you, t h e public, $ 2 8 0 m i l l i o n . T h i s is t h e same N e w t G i n g r i c h , by t h e way, w h o said in 1 9 9 0 : "Congress is increasingly a system of corruption in w h i c h m o n e y politics is defeating and driving out citizen politics." T h a t was before he b e c a m e Speaker. I n t h e last e l e c t i o n S p e a k e r G i n g r i c h raised more t h a n $ 1 0 0 m i l l i o n for R e p u b l i c a n House candidates. H e raised m o r e t h a n $ 6 million for his o w n r e e l e c t i o n — t h e most expensive House race o f 1 9 9 6 — and a n o t h e r $1 m i l l i o n to c o v e r legal bills related to ethics charges against h i m i n t h e House. N o wonder he's b e e n called " t h e godfather o f t h e n e w R e p u b l i c a n Party." Bribes work in odd ways. T h e r e ' s a t a x - e x e m p t organization called t h e A s i a Pacific E x c h a n g e F o u n d a t i o n t h a t sends members o f Congress to B u r m a as guests of t h e country's military rulers. O n e of t h e i r stops is a r e m o t e m o u n t a i n where t h e A m e r i c a n o i l c o m p a n y U n o c a l a n d a F r e n c h c o m p a n y are building a natural-gas pipeline. T h e project could be in jeopardy if W a s h i n g t o n imposes sanctions against B u r m a for h u m a n rights violations. W o u l d you be surprised to learn t h a t t h e t a x e x e m p t organization t h a t sponsors t h e j u n k e t s is underwritten by A m e r -

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i c a n c o m p a n i e s with major financial reasons to oblige dictators, including, guess who? U n o c a l . S i n c e t h e c o m p a n i e s c a n m a k e tax-deductible c o n t r i b u t i o n s to t h e foundation, you k n o w w h o has to m a k e up t h e lost t a x revenue. P o l i t i c i a n s a n d press in W a s h i n g t o n talk in euphemisms w h e n it c o m e s to t h e impact of money. It's t i m e for a different language to describe m o r e accurately t h e real terms of e n d e a r m e n t inside t h e Beltway: cash constituents, cashing in, conflicts of interest, corruption, dialing for dollars, fat cats, h o n e s t graft, influence peddling, interested money, legalized bribery, loopholes, m o n e y chase, quid pro quo, regulatory e x e m p tions, subsidies, t a x breaks, vested interests, a n d t h e institution t h a t makes it all possible, t h e w e a l t h primary. If our e l e c t e d representatives didn't first h a v e to raise thousands, e v e n millions of dollars from r i c h individuals and m o n e y e d interests to finance their c a m p a i g n s — t h e socalled w e a l t h primary that determines who is a viable candidate and w h o is just a well-meaning person with some good ideas and a few friends—maybe people like you would h a v e more of a v o i c e in what goes on in Washington. W e ' r e talking here about winners and losers—not just in p o l i t i c a l campaigns but in policy c h o i c e s . T h e E n v i r o n m e n t a l P r o t e c t i o n A g e n c y estimates t h a t its newly proposed n a t i o n a l air pollution standards for ozone (smog) and fine particles ( s o o t ) will lead t o 6 0 , 0 0 0 fewer cases o f c h r o n i c b r o n c h i t i s , 2 5 0 , 0 0 0 fewer cases of aggravated asthma in c h i l d r e n and adults, 1.5 m i l l i o n fewer cases of significant breathing problems, and 2 0 , 0 0 0 saved lives. A s t h m a a l o n e is t h e leading serious c h r o n i c illness of c h i l d r e n in t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s and t h e number-one cause o f s c h o o l absences attributed to c h r o n i c illness. A s t h m a attacks send an estimated 1.6 m i l l i o n A m e r icans to e m e r g e n c y rooms e a c h year and a c c o u n t for approximately o n e i n six o f all pediatric e m e r g e n c y r o o m visits i n t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s . T h e direct h e a l t h costs from asthma are $ 9 . 8 billion a year. W e k n o w why these kids are getting sick. I n U t a h Valley n e a r Provo, researchers from B r i g h a m Young U n i v e r s i t y studied hospital admissions over a several-year period during w h i c h a local steel mill closed

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and t h e n reopened. T h e steel mill was t h e source of nearly all t h e small particles in t h e local atmosphere. T h i s is an area where very few people smoke, due t o t h e influence o f t h e M o r m o n C h u r c h . T h e researchers found t h a t t h e opening of t h e mill c o i n c i d e d with a doubling and e v e n a tripling (depending on t h e t i m e of year) in hospital admissions for p n e u m o n i a , pleurisy, bronchitis, and asthma, especially among young people. Despite this kind of e v i d e n c e , some people argue t h a t we h a v e already d o n e e n o u g h to improve t h e nation's air. T h e s e people h a p p e n to b e associated with t h e A m e r i c a n A u t o m o b i l e Manufacturers Association, t h e A m e r i c a n Petroleum Institute, t h e A m e r i c a n E l e c t r i c Power C o m p a n y , t h e N a t i o n a l M i n i n g A s s o c i a t i o n , and t h e N a t i o n a l A s s o c i a t i o n of Manufacturers. T h e c o a l i t i o n fighting t h e new air standards is reported t o h a v e s o m e t h i n g like $ 3 0 million pooled i n its war chest. T h e A m e r i c a n Lung A s s o c i a t i o n , by comparison, doesn't e v e n h a v e a political a c t i o n c o m m i t t e e . I n t h e H o u s e o f Representatives, 1 9 2 m e m b e r s h a v e signed o n t o legislation to force t h e E P A to delay t h e new standards for at least four years. T h e s e members of Congress h a v e received nearly three times as m u c h in campaign c o n t r i b u t i o n s from big air polluters t h a n members w h o h a v e n o t signed o n t o t h e bill. A c c o r d i n g t o t h e E n v i r o n m e n t a l W o r k i n g Group, t h e more m o n e y a House m e m b e r receives from major air polluters, t h e m o r e likely t h a t p o l i t i c i a n is to support a n t i - c l e a n air legislation. By comparison, representing constituents in a heavily polluted area does n o t necessarily lead a House m e m b e r to oppose t h e bill. As R o g e r Tamraz reminds us, t h e m o n e y matters more. A n d as David C o r n writes in The Nation, " S o o t and smog are n o t t h e only pollutants in t h e air of C a p i t o l Hill. T h e r e is also money. So m u c h , you c a n almost b r e a t h e it." H e r e in California, w h i c h for m a n y years has had o n e of t h e leastregulated systems of campaign finance in the country, t h e legislature has long b e e n for sale. You don't h a v e to take my word for it. You've got a former state senator out here who served two years in prison after plead-

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ing guilty to corruption charges. In a 1 9 9 4 article by K i m A l e x a n d e r for t h e Sacramento News & Review, here's what A l a n R o b b i n s had to say about h o w m o n e y works its way in t h e state capital:

W h a t goes on, every day, in Sacramento is that the same lobbyist comes in and on Monday he talks to you about how he's arranging for a campaign contribution to come from his client, and on Tuesday he comes back and asks you to vote on a piece of legislation for that same client. It doesn't take very long before the leastbright legislator figures out if he keeps ignoring the Tuesday request then the lobbyist is going to stop coming to his fundraisers. And especially when you talk about a lobbyist who controls over $1 million a year of campaign money, who can make or break one's career, it's very easy for legislators to come to the conclusion that his arguments are persuasive.

We all pay for a system rigged against us. We pay at t h e grocery story because Congress has done sweetheart deals for major campaign contributors. T h e price of milk w e n t up twenty c e n t s a gallon in N e w England states last year because of a special subsidy for area dairy farmers passed by Congress. A five-pound bag of sugar costs fifty c e n t s m o r e t h a n it should because year in and year out, c o n tributions from t h e sugar lobby help keep alive sugar price support. W h e n you buy a brand-name drug that isn't available in generic form, it may be because a p h a r m a c e u t i c a l c o m p a n y maneuvered to keep t h e generic version off t h e market, with help from officials who h a v e received campaign contributions from t h a t company. A n e i g h t e e n - o u n c e j a r of peanut butter costs thirty-three c e n t s more because Congress still allows a peanut subsidy program. Dairy farmers, sugar growers, t h e pharm a c e u t i c a l industry, and peanut political a c t i o n c o m m i t t e e s h a v e all dumped millions of dollars i n t o Congress, and it worked. W e pay higher bills for c a b l e T V because t h e industry poured m o n e y into Congress prior t o t h e passage o f t h e T e l e c o m m u n i c a t i o n s A c t o f

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1 9 9 6 . T h a t bill ostensibly was t o p r o m o t e c o m p e t i t i o n i n t h e broadcast industry but it has allowed c a b l e c o m p a n i e s to raise t h e i r rates at three times t h e inflation rate s i n c e it was passed. We pay in delays on t h e release of c h e a p e r generic drugs, while c o m panies t h a t produce e x p e n s i v e n a m e - b r a n d products use their c a m p a i g n c o n t r i b u t i o n s to buy e x t e n s i o n s on their m o n o p o l i e s from Congress. We pay for less-fuel-efficient cars a n d more dangerous roads. We pay for high h e a l t h insurance and restricted service from managed-care providers and insurance c o m p a n i e s w h o b l o c k h e a l t h care reform with their c a m p a i g n c o n t r i b u t i o n s . We pay for corporate subsidies t h a t the c o n s e r v a t i v e representative J o h n K a s i c h estimates cost at least $ 1 1 b i l l i o n a year. T h e libertarian C a t o Institute suggests t h e n u m b e r is more like $ 6 5 b i l l i o n in u n n e c e s sary programs supporting already profitable businesses. A n d this is n o t c o u n t i n g t h e plums in t h e n e w budget agreement. C h i l d r e n pay, t o o . T h e y don't v o t e and t h e y don't lobby. T h e y don't c o n t r i b u t e to political campaigns and they don't pay for candidates' trips. T h e y don't go to soirees on C a p i t o l H i l l and they don't do l u n c h . T h e y don't respond to polls and t h e y don't h o l d fund-raisers. A b o u t t h e only t h i n g a c h i l d does for political candidates is provide a p h o t o opportunity. A n d w h a t do they get in return? Classrooms and schools and public libraries with peeling paint, leaky roofs, no h e a t in t h e winter a n d no air-conditioning in t h e summer, b r o k e n or boarded-up windows, electric a l systems u n a b l e t o h a n d l e c o m p u t e r networks. C h i l d r e n h a v e n o m o n e y to c o n t r i b u t e , and they h a v e g o t t e n w h a t they paid for.

S o m e t i m e s people pay with t h e i r lives. T h i n k o f C y n t h i a C h a v e z W a l l , a single m o t h e r w h o worked at a t e x t i l e factory near H a m l e t , N o r t h C a r olina, for t h i r t e e n years. S h e was making $8 an hour until she was abruptly fired o n e day for failing to c o m e to work w h e n h e r daughter was stricken with p n e u m o n i a . S h e t h e n w e n t t o work a t Imperial Food Prod-

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ucts for $ 4 . 9 5 an hour, cutting up and preparing c h i c k e n parts t h a t were sold to fast-food restaurants. S h e worked up against fryers with oil h e a t e d t o 4 0 0 degrees. T h e r e was n o air-conditioning o r fans. S h e often w e n t h o m e with h e r hands bleeding from cuts. In his b o o k There's Nothing in the Middle of the Road but Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos, J i m Hightower c o n t i n u e s t h e story:

T h e n on the morning of September 3, 1 9 9 1 , women in one area of the plant began to yell, "Fire!" Flames flared and smoke billowed throughout the building, which had no sprinkler system, no evacuation plan, and only one fire extinguisher. As the fire spread quickly, panicked workers raced to the exits, but the people shoved on the closed doors to no avail. All but the very front doors had been padlocked from the outside. Company executives later said they did this to prevent chicken parts from being stolen. Trapped, twenty-five of the ninety employees died in the flames. More than fifty others were burned or injured. Cynthia Chavez Wall's body was found at one of the doors.

T h e media called it a "horrific a c c i d e n t . " B u t J i m Hightower writes:

These people were effectively placed in a death trap by their employer—a death trap that had never once in its eleven-year existence been inspected by safety officials, though it was regularly visited by U . S . Agriculture Department inspectors checking on the quality of the chicken meat. Earlier in the year the North Carolina legislature had rejected proposals to toughen the state's safety regulation; even though the system is so lax that the average North Carolina workplace is inspected once every seventyfive years. Under Reagan and Bush, Washington, too, had cut back on the number of federal inspectors, leaving us even today with fewer than 1,200 to check out 7 million American workplaces.

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Two years after C y n t h i a C h a v e z Wall's death, two years after t h e media had scurried away to t h e n e x t "big story" and t h e politicians had h e l d t h e i r hearings and m o v e d on, t h e watchdog G o v e r n m e n t A c c o u n t ability P r o j e c t revisited H a m l e t and t h e surrounding area. Imperial F o o d Products is no longer there, but in o t h e r poultry plants n o t h i n g has c h a n g e d . A s s e m b l y - l i n e speedups c o n t i n u e to cause e x c e s s i v e injuries. Stifling h e a t and oppressive working c o n d i t i o n s remain. S i c k and injured employees are forced to stay on t h e line or be fired, and, yes, doors are still l o c k e d from t h e outside. W i l l i a m Greider got it right in his b o o k Who Will Tell the People? T h e hard questions o f g o v e r n a n c e , h e said, "are questions o f h o w and why some interests are allowed to d o m i n a t e t h e government's decision making while others are excluded." T h e s e rarely get explained to t h e public despite t h e fact t h a t

this is the reality of politics that matters to people in their everyday lives. [Yet] no one can hope to understand what is driving political behavior without grasping the internal facts of governing and asking the kind of gut-level questions that politicians ask themselves in private: " W h o are the winners in this matter and who are the losers. W h o gets the money and who has to pay? W h o must be heard on this question and who can be safely ignored?"

Sadly, t h e larger problems facing our n a t i o n — i n c r e a s i n g j o b insecurity, declining real wages and i n c o m e , children living in poverty, inadequate and costly h e a l t h insurance, increasing disparity of i n c o m e and wealth, pollution and e n v i r o n m e n t a l d e g r a d a t i o n — c a n n o t be seriously addressed by our politicians. To do so would offend the people w h o pay to play. Here's t h e good news. W h i l e t h e political class scoffs at the n o t i o n t h a t ordinary citizens really care, out across t h e country a different story i s unfolding. A t t h e e n d o f O c t o b e r , some two thousand citizen activists fanned out across t h e state of Massachusetts carrying petitions seeking to put t h e Massachusetts C l e a n E l e c t i o n s Law on t h e b a l l o t before t h e

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voters n e x t year. By t h e end of t h e day, despite a cold, driving rainstorm, they h a d c o l l e c t e d m o r e t h a n fifty thousand signatures—close to t h e total n e e d e d to qualify for t h e ballot. C l e a n E l e c t i o n s for Massachusetts wants to set up a system under w h i c h candidates w h o m a k e a binding a g r e e m e n t to raise almost no private m o n e y and to abide by spending limits would receive c o m p e t i t i v e public financing, and no longer owe their victories to private c a m p a i g n contributors. T h i s goes beyond anything currently b e i n g talked about in W a s h i n g t o n — b u t guess what? Polls show t h a t e v e n after hearing arguments against t h e proposal, Massachusetts voters b a c k e d it by m o r e t h a n a t w o - t o - o n e margin. T h e voters i n M a i n e last N o v e m b e r broke t h e mold o f w h a t activists t h o u g h t was possible, b e c o m i n g t h e first in t h e n a t i o n to e n a c t c l e a n m o n e y financing o f state e l e c t i o n s . T h i s J u n e , V e r m o n t lawmakers proved t h a t such a reform could be e n a c t e d legislatively, w i t h broad bipartisan support. B u t this isn't just a N e w E n g l a n d p h e n o m e n o n . Now, in addition to Massachusetts, initiative campaigns aimed at the 1 9 9 8 ballot are also gaining ground in Arizona, Idaho, Missouri, N e w York, and W a s h i n g t o n S t a t e ; r e c e n t polls in these places show strong support across t h e political spectrum. Legislatures in C o n n e c t i c u t , Illinois, a n d N o r t h C a r o l i n a are currently considering similar bills, and m o v e m e n t s are under way in more t h a n a dozen o t h e r states. T h e basic idea is this: candidates w h o voluntarily agree to raise no private m o n e y and abide by spending limits, and c a n demonstrate t h a t they h a v e a basic level of support in t h e i r district, c a n opt to r e c e i v e " c l e a n m o n e y " from a public fund. T h i s breaks t h e direct l i n k b e t w e e n special interest donors and politicians t h a t is proving so debilitating to our democracy. C l e a n - m o n e y reform won't end t h e power of organized special interests in W a s h i n g t o n , but with it candidates will h a v e a c h o i c e about h o w t o f i n a n c e their campaigns t h a t they d o n o t h a v e now. T h e m o n e y c h a s e , w h i c h so many candidates find so exhausting, will be tempered. G o o d people w h o today c h o o s e n o t to run because they c a n ' t raise t h e money, or don't w a n t to get on their knees before big donors, will h a v e a fighting c h a n c e t o run serious campaigns. T h e i n h e r e n t conflicts o f interest

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t h a t arise w h e n public servants are privately financed will be e l i m i n a t e d , restoring n e e d e d public c o n f i d e n c e in t h e process. A n d at a m i n i m u m , t h e voters will finally h a v e a real c h o i c e on E l e c t i o n Day. H e r e we are b e t w e e n two centuries, facing what t h e scholar J a m e s D a v i s o n H u n t e r describes as " t h e never-ending work of democracy: t h e tedious, hard, perplexing, messy, and seemingly endless task of working through what k i n d of people we're going to be and what k i n d of c o m m u nities w e will live in." T h e work o f d e m o c r a c y encompasses practically everything t h a t we c a n and must do t o g e t h e r . . . h o w we e d u c a t e our children, design our c o m m u n i t i e s and neighborhoods, feed ourselves and dispose of our wastes, h o w we care for t h e sick and elderly and poor, h o w we relate to t h e natural world, h o w we e n t e r t a i n and e n l i g h t e n ourselves, h o w we defend ourselves and what values we seek to defend, what roles are c h o s e n for us by virtue of our identity and what roles we c r e a t e for ourselves. T h e s e fundamental issues are for all of us to address, as free and equal citizens, through t h e political process. B u t w h e n public servants are privately financed, ordinary people are shut out of politics. E l e c t i o n s are turned i n t o auctions and access to public officials i n t o a c o m m o d i t y available only t o t h e highest bidders. M o s t o f t h a t m o n e y t h e n goes t o e n r i c h t h e broadcasting industry through distorted political c o m m e r cials, w h i c h in turn lead to what o n e l o n g t i m e observer calls "the cynical a c c e p t a n c e of falsehood as a way of g o v e r n m e n t and a way of life." We must c h a n g e t h e rules, and it won't be easy. Powerful e n t r e n c h e d interests write t h e rules to t h e i r o w n advantage. B u t an aroused public c a n c h a n g e this system. N o t h i n g less t h a n d e m o c r a c y is at stake.

16.

SAVING D E M O C R A C Y Remarks on

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a Issue

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on a speaking tour in California when Vice

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California

President Cheney acciden-

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emerged,

cozy world of power that is

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glimpse

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I I will leave to J o n Stewart t h e rich threads of h u m o r to pluck from t h e h u n t i n g incident in T e x a s . A l l of us are relieved t h a t t h e v i c e president's friend has survived. We c a n a c c e p t D i c k C h e n e y ' s word that t h e a c c i d e n t was o n e o f t h e worst m o m e n t s o f his life. W h a t

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intrigues me as a journalist is t h e rare glimpse we h a v e serendipitously b e e n offered into t h e tightly k n i t world of t h e elites who govern today. T h e v i c e president was h u n t i n g on a fifty-thousand-acre r a n c h owned by a lobbyist friend w h o is t h e heiress to a family fortune of land, c a t t l e , banking, and oil (ah, yes, t h e quickest and surest way to t h e A m e r i c a n dream remains to c h o o s e your parents w e l l ) . T h e circumstances o f t h e h u n t and t h e identity o f t h e hunters provoked a l a m e n t from The Economist. T h e most influential pro-business magazine in t h e world is c o n c e r n e d t h a t hunting in A m e r i c a is b e c o m ing a m a t t e r of class: t h e rich are doing more, t h e working stiffs less. T h e annual loss of 1.5 m i l l i o n acres of wildlife h a b i t a t and 1 m i l l i o n acres of farm and r a n c h l a n d to d e v e l o p m e n t and sprawl has c o m e "at t h e e x pense of The Deer Hunter crowd in t h e small towns of t h e north-east, t h e rednecks of t h e south and t h e cowboys of t h e west." T h e i r places, says The Economist, are being t a k e n by t h e affluent who pay plenty for such c o n v e n i e n c e s as being driven to where t h e c o v e y cooperatively awaits. T h e magazine (hardly a M a r x i s t rag, r e m e m b e r ) describes Mr. C h e n e y ' s own expedition as "a lot closer to Gosford Park t h a n The Deer Hunter— a group of fat old toffs waiting for wildlife to be flushed towards t h e m at huge e x p e n s e . " We h a v e h e r e a m e t a p h o r of power. T h e v i c e president turned his host, K a t h a r i n e Armstrong, t h e lobbyist who is also t h e r a n c h owner, into his de facto news manager. S h e would disclose t h e shooting only w h e n C h e n e y was ready and only on his terms. Sure enough, n o t h i n g was made public for almost twenty hours until she finally leaked t h e authorized version to t h e local newspaper. A r m s t r o n g suggested t h e b l a m e lay with t h e v i c t i m , who, she indicated, had failed to inform t h e v i c e president of his whereabouts and walked i n t o a hail of friendly fire. T h r e e days later C h e n e y revised t h e story and apologized. It has b e e n reported t h a t s o m e o n e from t h e h u n t i n g party was in t o u c h with Karl R o v e a t t h e W h i t e House. For c e r t a i n R o v e ' s t h e kind o f fellow you want o n t h e o t h e r e n d o f t h e line w h e n great c o n c o c t i o n s are being h a t c h e d , especially if you wish t h e v i c t i m to h a n g for t h e c r i m e c o m m i t t e d against h i m .

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W a t c h i n g these people work is a study of t h e inner c i r c l e at t h e top o f A m e r i c a n politics. T h e journalist S i d n e y B l u m e n t h a l , writing o n S a l o n . c o m , reminds us of t h e relationship b e t w e e n t h e A r m s t r o n g dynasty and t h e B u s h family a n d its retainers. Armstrong's father invested in R o v e ' s p o l i t i c a l consulting firm, w h i c h managed G e o r g e W. Bush's e l e c t i o n as governor of T e x a s a n d as president. A n n e A r m s t r o n g is a l o n g t i m e R e p u b l i c a n activist and donor. R o n a l d R e a g a n appointed h e r to t h e F o r e i g n I n t e l l i g e n c e Advisory B o a r d after h e r tenure as ambassador t o t h e U n i t e d K i n g d o m under President Ford, whose c h i e f o f staff was a young D i c k C h e n e y . A n n e A r m s t r o n g served on t h e board of directors o f Halliburton, w h i c h hired C h e n e y t o run t h e company. H e r daughter, K a t h a r i n e , host of t h e h u n t i n g party, was o n c e a lobbyist for t h e powerful H o u s t o n law firm founded by t h e family of J a m e s A. B a k e r III, w h o was c h i e f of staff to R e a g a n , secretary of state under G e o r g e H. W. Bush, and t h e m a n designated by t h e B u s h family to m a k e sure t h e younger B u s h was n a m e d president in 2 0 0 0 despite having lost t h e popular v o t e . A c c o r d i n g t o B l u m e n t h a l , o n e o f K a t h a r i n e Armstrong's more r e c e n t lobbying j o b s was w i t h a large c o n s t r u c t i o n firm with c o n t r a c t s in Iraq. It is a D i c k C h e n e y world out t h e r e — a world where politicians a n d lobbyists h u n t together, dine together, drink together, play together, pray together, and prey together, all t h e while carving up t h e world according to t h e i r own interests.

T w o years ago, in a report e n t i t l e d " A m e r i c a n D e m o c r a c y in an A g e of Rising Inequality," t h e A m e r i c a n Political S c i e n c e A s s o c i a t i o n c o n cluded t h a t progress toward realizing A m e r i c a n ideals of d e m o c r a c y "may h a v e stalled, a n d in s o m e arenas reversed." Privileged A m e r i c a n s "roar with a clarity and consistency that policy-makers readily h e a r a n d routinely follow" while citizens "with lower or moderate i n c o m e s speak with a whisper."

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T h e following year, o n t h e eve o f President G e o r g e W . Bush's seco n d inauguration, t h e editors of The Economist, reporting on inequality in A m e r i c a , c o n c l u d e d t h a t t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s "risks calcifying into a European-style, class-based society." As great wealth has accumulated at t h e top, t h e rest of society has n o t b e e n benefiting proportionally. I n 1 9 6 0 t h e gap b e t w e e n t h e top 2 0 p e r c e n t and t h e b o t t o m 20 p e r c e n t was thirtyfold. N o w it is seventyfive-fold. A r e c e n t article in t h e Financial Times reports on a study by t h e A m e r i c a n e c o n o m i s t R o b e r t J . G o r d o n , who finds "little long-term c h a n g e i n workers' share o f U . S . i n c o m e over t h e past h a l f century." Middle-ranking A m e r i c a n s are being squeezed, he says, because the top 10 p e r c e n t of earners h a v e captured almost h a l f t h e total i n c o m e gains in t h e past four decades and t h e top 1 p e r c e n t has gained t h e most of a l l — m o r e i n fact, t h a n t h e entire b o t t o m 5 0 p e r c e n t . No wonder working m e n and w o m e n and their families are strained to c o p e with t h e rising cost of h e a l t h care, p h a r m a c e u t i c a l drugs, housing, h i g h e r education, and public transportation—all of w h i c h h a v e risen faster in price t h a n typical family i n c o m e s . T h e r e c e n t b o o k Economic Apartheid in America describes h o w "thirty zipcodes

in A m e r i c a

h a v e b e c o m e fabulously wealthy" while "whole urban and rural c o m m u nities are languishing in u n e m p l o y m e n t , crumbling infrastructure, growing insecurity, and fear." T h i s is a profound transformation in a country whose D N A c o n t a i n s t h e i n h e r e n t promise of an equal opportunity at life, liberty, and t h e pursuit of happiness and whose c o l l e c t i v e memory resonates w i t h t h e h a l lowed idea—hallowed by b l o o d — o f g o v e r n m e n t of t h e people, by t h e people, and for t h e people. T h e great progressive struggles in our history h a v e b e e n waged to m a k e sure ordinary citizens, and n o t just t h e rich, share in t h e benefits of a free society. Yet as t h e public today supports such broad social goals as affordable medical coverage for all, d e c e n t wages for working people, safe working c o n d i t i o n s , a secure retirement, and c l e a n air and water, there is no g o v e r n m e n t to deliver on those aspirations. Instead, our e l e c t i o n s are b o u g h t out from under us and our public officials do t h e bidding of mercenaries. So powerfully has wealth

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shaped our political agenda t h a t we c a n n o t say A m e r i c a is working for all o f A m e r i c a . In t h e words of Louis Brandeis, o n e of t h e greatest of our S u p r e m e C o u r t justices: "You c a n h a v e w e a l t h c o n c e n t r a t e d in t h e hands of a few, or democracy, but you c a n n o t h a v e b o t h . " M o n e y is c h o k i n g d e m o c r a c y to death.

S o m e simple facts: T h e cost o f running for public office i s skyrocketing. I n 1 9 9 6 , $ 1 . 6 billion was spent on t h e congressional and presidential e l e c t i o n s . E i g h t years later, t h a t t o t a l h a d m o r e t h a n doubled, t o $ 3 . 9 b i l l i o n . T h a n k s to our system of privately financed campaigns, millions of regular A m e r i c a n s are being priced out of any meaningful participation in democracy. Less t h a n 0.5 p e r c e n t of all A m e r i c a n s made a political c o n t r i b u t i o n o f $ 2 0 0 o r more t o a federal candidate i n 2 0 0 4 . W h e n t h e average cost of running and winning a seat in t h e House of R e p r e s e n t a tives has topped $1 million, we c a n no longer refer to t h a t august c h a m ber as t h e "People's House." A t t h e same t i m e t h a t t h e cost o f getting e l e c t e d i s exploding b e yond t h e r e a c h of ordinary people, t h e business of gaining access to and influence with our e l e c t e d representatives has b e c o m e a growth industry. S i x years ago, in his first campaign for president, G e o r g e W. B u s h promised h e would "restore h o n o r a n d integrity" t o t h e g o v e r n m e n t . R e p e a t edly, during his first c a m p a i g n for president, he would raise his right h a n d and, as if taking an oath, tell voters t h a t he would c h a n g e h o w things were d o n e in t h e nation's capital. "It's t i m e to c l e a n up t h e t o x i c e n v i r o n m e n t in W a s h i n g t o n , D . C . , " he would say. His administration would ask " n o t only what is legal but w h a t is right, n o t w h a t t h e lawyers allow but what t h e public deserves." Hardly. S i n c e B u s h was e l e c t e d t h e n u m b e r of lobbyists registered to do busi-

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ness in W a s h i n g t o n has more t h a n doubled. T h a t ' s 1 6 , 3 4 2 lobbyists in 2 0 0 0 to 3 4 , 7 8 5 last year. Sixty-five lobbyists for every m e m b e r of C o n gress. T h e a m o u n t that lobbyists charge their new clients has increased by nearly 1 0 0 p e r c e n t in that same period, according to The Washington Post, going up from $ 2 0 , 0 0 0 to $ 4 0 , 0 0 0 a m o n t h . S t a r t i n g salaries h a v e risen to nearly $ 3 0 0 , 0 0 0 a year for t h e b e s t - c o n n e c t e d people, those leaving Congress or t h e administration. T h e total spent per m o n t h by special interests wining, dining, and seducing federal officials is n o w nearly $ 2 0 0 m i l l i o n . Per month. B u t numbers don't tell t h e whole story. T h e r e has b e e n a qualitative c h a n g e as well. W i t h pro-corporate business officials running b o t h t h e e x e c u t i v e and legislative branches, lobbying that was o n c e reactive has g o n e on t h e offense, seeking huge windfalls from public policy and public m o n i e s . O n e example cited by The Washington Post is Hewlett-Packard, the California c o m p u t e r maker. T h e c o m p a n y nearly doubled its budget for c o n t r a c t lobbyists in 2 0 0 4 and t o o k on an elite lobbying firm as its W a s h i n g t o n arm. Its goal was to pass R e p u b l i c a n - b a c k e d legislation that would e n a b l e t h e c o m p a n y to bring b a c k to t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s , at a dramatically lowered tax rate, as m u c h as $ 1 4 . 5 billion in profit from foreign subsidiaries. T h e extra lobbying paid off. T h e legislation passed and H e w l e t t - P a c k a r d c a n n o w reduce its c o n t r i b u t i o n to t h e social c o n t r a c t . T h e company's director of g o v e r n m e n t affairs was quite candid: " W e ' r e trying t o take advantage o f t h e fact t h a t R e p u b l i c a n s c o n t r o l t h e House, t h e S e n a t e , and t h e W h i t e House." W h a t e v e r t h e c o m p a n y paid for t h e lobbying, t h e i n v e s t m e n t returned enormous dividends. I believe in equal opportunity muckraking. W h e n I left W a s h i n g t o n for journalism I did n o t leave b e h i n d my c o n v i c t i o n t h a t g o v e r n m e n t should see to it t h a t we h a v e a more level playing field with o n e set of rules for everyone, but I did leave b e h i n d my partisan affections. A n y o n e who saw t h e documentary my t e a m and I produced a few years ago on t h e illegal fund-raising for B i l l C l i n t o n ' s r e e l e c t i o n knows I am no fan of t h e D e m o c r a t i c m o n e y m a c h i n e that h e l p e d tear t h e party away from

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whatever roots it o n c e h a d in t h e daily lives and struggles of working people, turning it i n t o a j u n i o r partner of t h e c h a m b e r of c o m m e r c e . I m e a n people like T o n y C o e l h o , w h o as a D e m o c r a t i c congressman from C a l i f o r n i a in t h e 1 9 8 0 s realized t h a t his party c o u l d milk t h e business c o m m u n i t y for m o n e y if they promised to "pay for play." I m e a n people like Terry M c A u l i f f e , t h e former D e m o c r a t i c N a t i o n a l C o m m i t t e e c h a i r m a n , w h o gave B i l l C l i n t o n t h e idea o f renting t h e L i n c o l n B e d r o o m out to donors, and w h o did such a good j o b raising big m o n e y for t h e D e m o c r a t s t h a t by t h e e n d of his reign, D e m o c r a t s h a d fewer small donors t h a n t h e R e p u b l i c a n s and more fat cats writing t h e m milliondollar c h e c k s . B u t let's b e realistic h e r e . W h e n t h e notorious W i l l i e S u t t o n was asked why he robbed banks, he answered, " B e c a u s e there is where t h e m o n e y is." If I seem to be singling out t h e R e p u b l i c a n s , it's for o n e reason: that's where t h e power is. T h e y h a v e a m o n o p o l y over g o v e r n m e n t . First they gained c o n t r o l o f t h e House o f R e p r e s e n t a t i v e s i n 1 9 9 4 , t h e n their self-proclaimed revolution w e n t i n t o overdrive with t h e i r taking of t h e W h i t e House i n 2 0 0 0 and t h e S e n a t e i n 2 0 0 2 . T h e i r revolution s o o n b e c a m e a cash c o w and W a s h i n g t o n a one-party t o w n ruled by money. L o o k b a c k at t h e bulk of legislation passed by Congress in t h e past decade: an energy bill t h a t gave oil c o m p a n i e s huge t a x breaks at t h e same t i m e t h a t E x x o n M o b i l just posted $ 3 6 b i l l i o n i n profits i n 2 0 0 5 and our gasoline and h o m e h e a t i n g bills are at an all-time high; a bankruptcy "reform" bill written by credit card c o m p a n i e s to m a k e it harder for poor debtors to escape t h e burdens of divorce or m e d i c a l catastrophe; t h e deregulation of t h e banking, securities, a n d insurance sectors, w h i c h led to rampant corporate malfeasance and greed and t h e destruction of t h e r e t i r e m e n t plans o f millions o f small investors; t h e deregulation o f t h e t e l e c o m m u n i c a t i o n s sector, w h i c h led to cable-industry price gouging and an undermining of news coverage; p r o t e c t i o n for r a m p a n t overpricing of p h a r m a c e u t i c a l drugs; and t h e b l o c k i n g of e v e n t h e mildest att e m p t t o prevent A m e r i c a n corporations from dodging a n estimated $ 5 0 b i l l i o n in annual taxes by o p e n i n g a post-office b o x in an offshore t a x h a v e n like B e r m u d a or t h e C a y m a n Islands.

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In every case t h e pursuit of this legislation was driven by Big M o n e y . O u r public representatives, t h e holders of our trust, n e e d huge sums to finance their campaigns, especially to pay for television advertising, and m e n and w o m e n w h o h a v e mastered t h e m o n e y game h a v e t a k e n advantage of that weakness in our d e m o c r a c y to systematically sell it off to t h e highest bidders. Let's start w i t h t h e K S t r e e t P r o j e c t . K S t r e e t is t h e W a l l S t r e e t of lobbying, t h e address of many of W a s h i n g t o n ' s biggest lobbying firms. T h e K S t r e e t P r o j e c t was t h e b r a i n c h i l d o f T o m D e L a y and G r o v e r Norquist, t h e right-wing strategist w h o famously said t h a t his goal is to shrink g o v e r n m e n t so t h a t it c a n be "drowned in a b a t h t u b . " T h i s , of course, would render it i m p o t e n t to defend ordinary people against t h e large e c o n o m i c f o r c e s — t h e so-called free m a r k e t — t h a t Norquist and his pals b e l i e v e should be running A m e r i c a . T o m DeLay, m e a n w h i l e , was a businessman from Sugar Land, T e x a s , w h o ran a pest e x t e r m i n a t i o n business before he entered politics. He h a t e d t h e g o v e r n m e n t regulators w h o dared t o tell h i m t h a t some o f the pesticides he used were dangerous—as, in fact, t h e y were. He got h i m self e l e c t e d to t h e T e x a s legislature at a time w h e n t h e R e p u b l i c a n s were b e c o m i n g t h e majority in t h e o n c e - s o l i d D e m o c r a t i c S o u t h , and his repu t a t i o n for j o i n i n g in t h e wild parties around t h e state capital in A u s t i n earned h i m t h e n i c k n a m e " H o t T u b T o m . " B u t early i n his p o l i t i c a l c a reer, and with exquisite t i m i n g and t h e help of some videos from rightwing p o l i t i c a l evangelist J a m e s D o b s o n , T o m D e L a y found Jesus and b e c a m e a full-fledged born-again C h r i s t i a n . He would later h u m b l y a c knowledge t h a t G o d had c h o s e n h i m t o restore A m e r i c a t o its biblical worldview. " G o d , " said T o m DeLay, "has b e e n walking me through an incredible journey . .. G o d is using m e , all t h e time, everywhere . .. G o d is training m e . G o d is working with me . . ." Yes, indeed: G o d does work in mysterious ways. In addition to finding Jesus, T o m D e L a y also discovered a secular ally to serve his a m b i t i o n s . " M o n e y is n o t t h e r o o t of all evil in politics," D e L a y o n c e said. " I n fact, m o n e y is t h e lifeblood of politics." By raising more t h a n $2 m i l l i o n from lobbyists and business groups and distribut-

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ing t h e m o n e y to dozens of R e p u b l i c a n candidates in 1 9 9 4 , the year of t h e R e p u b l i c a n breakthrough i n t h e House, D e L a y bought t h e loyalty o f m a n y freshmen legislators a n d got h i m s e l f e l e c t e d majority whip, t h e n u m b e r - t h r e e m a n i n N e w t G i n g r i c h ' s " G a n g o f S e v e n " w h o ran t h e House. Here's h o w t h e y ran it. On t h e day before t h e R e p u b l i c a n s formally t o o k c o n t r o l o f C o n g r e s s o n January 3 , 1 9 9 5 , D e L a y m e t i n his office with a c o t e r i e of lobbyists from some of t h e biggest c o m p a n i e s in A m e r ica. T h e journalists M i c h a e l W e i s s k o p f and David Maraniss report t h a t "the session inaugurated an unambiguous c o l l a b o r a t i o n of political and c o m m e r c i a l interests, certainly n o t u n c o m m o n i n W a s h i n g t o n but remarkable this t i m e for t h e ease and eagerness with w h i c h these allies combined." D e L a y virtually invited t h e m t o write t h e R e p u b l i c a n agenda. W h a t they wanted first was " P r o j e c t R e l i e f " — a wide-ranging moratorium on regulations t h a t had originally b e e n put i n t o p l a c e for t h e h e a l t h a n d safety of t h e public. F o r starters, they wanted " r e l i e f " from labor standards t h a t p r o t e c t e d workers from t h e physical injuries of repetitive work. T h e y w a n t e d "relief" from tougher rules o n m e a t inspection. A n d they wanted "relief" from effective m o n i t o r i n g of hazardous air pollutants. S c o r e s o f c o m p a n i e s were soon gorging o n T o m DeLay's generosity, adding o n e j u i c y and e x p e n s i v e tidbit after a n o t h e r to t h e bill. A c c o r d i n g t o W e i s s k o p f and Maraniss, o n t h e e v e o f t h e debate twenty major corporate groups advised lawmakers t h a t "this was a key v o t e , o n e t h a t would be considered in future campaign c o n t r i b u t i o n s . " On t h e day o f the v o t e lobbyists o n C a p i t o l Hill were still writing a m e n d m e n t s o n their laptops and forwarding t h e m to House leaders. S p e a k e r o f t h e House N e w t G i n g r i c h famously told t h e lobbyists: " I f you are going to play in our revolution, you h a v e to live by our rules." T o m D e L a y b e c a m e his enforcer. T h e rules were simple and blunt. C o n t r i b u t e to R e p u b l i c a n s only. Hire R e p u b l i c a n s only. W h e n t h e e l e c t r o n i c s industry ignored t h e warning and c h o s e a D e m o c r a t i c m e m b e r of Congress to run its trade association, D e L a y played so rough—pulling from t h e calendar a bill t h a t t h e

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industry h a d worked on two years, aimed at bringing most of t h e world i n a l i g n m e n t with U . S . copyright l a w — t h a t e v e n the House E t h i c s C o m m i t t e e , t h e watchdog t h a t seldom barks and rarely bites, stirred itself to rebuke h i m . Privately, of course. D e L a y wasn't fazed. N o t only did he c o n t i n u e to m a k e sure t h e lobbying j o b s w e n t to R e p u b l i c a n s , he also saw to it t h a t his o w n people got a lion's share of t h e best j o b s . At least t w e n t y - n i n e of his former employees landed major lobbying p o s i t i o n s — t h e most of any congressional office. T h e journalist J o h n Judis found t h a t t o g e t h e r e x - D e L a y people represent around 3 5 0 firms, including t h i r t e e n of t h e biggest trade associations, most o f t h e energy c o m p a n i e s , t h e giants i n finance and t e c h nology, t h e airlines, automakers, t o b a c c o c o m p a n i e s , and t h e largest h e a l t h - c a r e and p h a r m a c e u t i c a l c o m p a n i e s . W h e n t o b a c c o c o m p a n i e s wanted to b l o c k t h e F D A from regulating cigarettes, they hired DeLay's man. W h e n t h e p h a r m a c e u t i c a l c o m p a n i e s — B i g P h a r m a — w a n t e d t o make sure c o m p a n i e s wouldn't be forced to n e g o t i a t e c h e a p e r prices for drugs, they hired six of T o m DeLay's t e a m , including his former c h i e f of staff. T h e m a c h i n e b e c a m e a blitzkrieg, oiled by campaign c o n t r i b u t i o n s that poured in like a gusher. W a t c h i n g a s D e L a y b e c a m e t h e virtual d i c t a t o r o f C a p i t o l H i l l , I was reminded of t h e cardsharp in T e x a s w h o said to his prey, "Now play the cards fair, R e u b e n , I k n o w what I dealt you." T o m D e L a y and his cronies were stacking t h e deck. T h e y centralized in their o w n hands t h e power to write legislation. Drastic revisions to m a j o r bills were often written at night, with lobbyists hovering o v e r t h e m , t h e n rushed through as "emergency measures," giving members as little as h a l f an h o u r to consider what they m i g h t be voting o n . T h e D e m o c r a t i c minority was locked out o f c o n f e r e n c e c o m m i t t e e s where t h e House a n d S e n a t e are supposed to iron out t h e i r differences with b o t h parties i n t h e loop. T h e R e p u b l i c a n bosses e v e n t o o k upon themselves t h e power to rewrite a bill in secrecy and m o v e it directly to a vote without any o t h e r hearings or public review. S o m e t i m e s this m e a n t overruling what the majority o f House m e m -

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bers really wanted. C o n s i d e r what h a p p e n e d with t h e bill to provide M e d i c a r e prescription drug coverage, as analyzed by R o b e r t K u t t n e r in The American Prospect. As t h e measure was c o m i n g to a v o t e , a majority of t h e full House was sympathetic to allowing c h e a p e r imports from C a n a d a and to giving t h e g o v e r n m e n t t h e power to n e g o t i a t e wholesale drug prices for M e d i c a r e beneficiaries. B u t D e L a y and his cronies were working o n b e h a l f o f Big P h a r m a and would h a v e n o n e o f it. S o they made sure there would be no a m e n d m e n t s on t h e floor. T h e y held off t h e final roll call a full three hours—well after m i d n i g h t — i n order to strongarm members who wanted to v o t e against t h e bill. It was n o t a pretty sight out there on t h e floor of t h e House. At o n e p o i n t D e L a y m a r c h e d over t o o n e reluctant R e p u b l i c a n — R e p r e s e n t a tive N i c k S m i t h , w h o opposed t h e M e d i c a r e b i l l — a n d attempted t o c h a n g e his mind. S m i t h , who was serving his final t e r m in office, later alleged t h a t he was offered $ 1 0 0 , 0 0 0 for his son's campaign to succeed h i m . W h e n h e subsequently retracted his accusation, t h e House E t h i c s C o m m i t t e e looked i n t o t h e charges and countercharges and wound up admonishing b o t h S m i t h and DeLay, w h o admitted t h a t h e had offered to endorse S m i t h ' s son in e x c h a n g e for S m i t h ' s support but t h a t no m o n e y o r bribe was involved. T i m o t h y N o a h o f S l a t e . c o m has mused about w h a t DeLay's e n d o r s e m e n t would n o n e t h e l e s s h a v e m e a n t in later campaign c o n t r i b u t i o n s i f S m i t h had gone along. W h i l e t h e H o u s e E t h i c s C o m m i t t e e n e v e r did find out t h e true story, N o a h asks: " W h o did whisper ' $ 1 0 0 , 0 0 0 ' in S m i t h ' s ear? T h e report is full of plausible suspects, including D e L a y himself, but it lacks any e v i d e n c e on this crucial finding. You get t h e feeling t h e authors would prefer to forget this mystery ever existed." T h e r e are no victimless crimes in politics. T h e price of corruption is passed on to you. W h a t c a m e of all these shenanigans was a bill t h a t gave industry what it wanted and taxpayers t h e shaft. T h e bill covers only a small share of drug expenses. It has a major gap in c o v e r a g e — t h e so-called doughnut h o l e . It explicitly forbids beneficiaries from purchasing private coverage to fill in t h e gap and explicitly forbids t h e federal g o v e r n m e n t from bargaining for lower drug prices. M o r e t h a n o n e c o n -

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sumer organization has estimated t h a t most seniors could e n d up paying e v e n m o r e for prescription drugs t h a n before t h e bill passed. Furthermore, despite these large flaws t h e c o s t of t h e bill is h o r r e n d o u s — b e t w e e n $ 5 0 0 b i l l i o n and $ 1 trillion i n its first t e n years. T h e c h i e f actuary for M e d i c a r e c a l c u l a t e d a realistic estimate of w h a t t h e bill would cost, but he later testified before Congress t h a t he was forbidden from releasing t h e information by his boss, T h o m a s Scully, t h e h e a d of t h e C e n t e r s for M e d i c a r e a n d M e d i c a i d S e r v i c e s , w h o was t h e n n e g o t i ating for a lucrative j o b with t h e h e a l t h - c a r e industry. S u r e enough, hardly had t h e prescription drug bill b e c o m e law t h a n S c u l l y w e n t to work for t h e largest private equity investor in h e a l t h c a r e a n d at a powerful law firm focusing on h e a l t h care and regulatory matters. O n e i s reminded o f Boies Penrose. B a c k i n t h e G i l d e d A g e , Penrose was a U n i t e d S t a t e s s e n a t o r from P e n n s y l v a n i a w h o h a d b e e n put a n d kept in office by t h e railroad t y c o o n s and oil barons. He assured t h e moguls: "I b e l i e v e in t h e division of labor. You send us to Congress; we pass laws under w h i c h you m a k e m o n e y . . . and out of your profits you further c o n t r i b u t e to our c a m p a i g n funds to send us b a c k again to pass m o r e laws to e n a b l e you to m a k e more money." G i l d e d a g e s — t h e n a n d n o w — h a v e o n e t h i n g i n c o m m o n : audacious and shameless people for w h o m t h e very idea of t h e public trust is a cynical joke. T o m D e L a y was e l e c t e d t o Congress b y t h e ordinary people o f Sugar L a n d , T e x a s . T h e y h a d t h e right t o e x p e c t h i m t o represent t h e m . T h i s e x p e c t a t i o n is t h e very soul of democracy. We c a n ' t all g o v e r n — n o t e v e n tiny Switzerland practices pure democracy. S o w e A m e r i c a n s c a m e to b e l i e v e our best c h a n c e of responsible g o v e r n m e n t lies in o b t a i n i n g t h e considered judgments of those we e l e c t to represent us. H a v i n g cast our ballots in t h e sanctity of t h e voting b o o t h w i t h its assurance of political equality, we go about our daily lives e x p e c t i n g t h e people we put in office to weigh t h e c o m p e t i n g interests and decide to t h e best of t h e i r ability w h a t is right. Instead, they h a v e given the A m e r i c a n people reason t o b e l i e v e t h e

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conservative journalist P. J. O ' R o u r k e was right in describing Congress as "a parliament of whores." A r e c e n t C B S N e w s - N e w York Times poll found t h a t 70 p e r c e n t of A m e r i c a n s believe lobbyists bribing members of Congress is t h e way things work. Fifty-seven p e r c e n t t h i n k a t least h a l f o f t h e members o f Congress a c c e p t bribes or gifts that affect their votes. Findings like these underscore t h e fact t h a t ordinary people b e l i e v e their bonds w i t h d e m o c r a c y are n o t only stretched but sundered. You see t h e b r e a c h clearly with T o m DeLay. A s h e b e c a m e t h e king of campaign fund-raising, t h e A s s o c i a t e d Press writes, " H e began to live a lifestyle his constituents b a c k in Sugar L a n d would h a v e a hard t i me ever imagining." Big corporations such as R. J. Reynolds, Philip Morris, R e l i a n t Energy, El Paso, and Dynegy provided private jets to take h i m to places of luxury most A m e r i c a n s h a v e n e v e r s e e n — p l a c e s with "dazzling views, warm golden sunsets, golf, goose-down comforters, marble bathrooms and balconies overlooking t h e o c e a n . " T h e A P reports that various organizations—campaign c o m m i t t e e s , political a c t i o n c o m m i t t e e s , e v e n a children's charity established by D e L a y — p a i d more t h a n $ 1 mill i o n on hotels, restaurants, golf resorts, and corporate jets on DeLay's b e half: at least forty-eight visits to golf clubs and resorts ( t h e R i t z - C a r l t o n in J a m a i c a , t h e P r i n c e H o t e l in Hawaii, t h e M i c h e l a n g e l o in N e w York, t h e P h o e n i c i a n i n S c o t t s d a l e , t h e E l C o n q u i s t a d o r i n Puerto R i c o , where villas average $ 1 , 3 0 0 a n i g h t ) ; o n e hundred flights aboard corporate jets arranged by lobbyists; and five hundred meals at fancy restaurants, some averaging $ 2 0 0 for a dinner for two. T h e r e was e v e n a $ 2 , 8 9 6 shopping spree at a boutique on Florida's A m e l i a Island offering "gourmet cookware, S a b a t i e r cutlery and gadgets for your every need." D e L a y was a m a n on t h e m o v e and on t h e t a k e . But he needed help to sustain t h e cash flow. He found it in a fellow right-wing ideologue n a m e d J a c k Abramoff. A b r a m o f f personifies t h e R e p u b l i c a n m o n e y mac h i n e of w h i c h DeLay, with t h e blessing of t h e House leadership, was t h e maestro. It was A b r a m o f f who helped D e L a y raise those millions of dollars from campaign donors t h a t bought t h e support of o t h e r politicians

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and b e c a m e t h e base for an empire of corruption. D e L a y praised A b r a m o f f as " o n e of my closest friends." Abramoff, in turn, told a c o n v e n t i o n o f C o l l e g e R e p u b l i c a n s , " T h a n k G o d T o m D e L a y i s majority leader of t h e house. T o m D e L a y is w h o all of us want to be w h e n we grow up." Just last m o n t h J a c k A b r a m o f f pleaded guilty to fraud, tax evasion, and conspiracy to bribe public officials, a spectacular fall for a m a n whose rise to power began twenty-five years ago with his e l e c t i o n as c h a i r m a n o f t h e C o l l e g e R e p u b l i c a n s . Despite its innocuous n a m e , t h e organization b e c a m e a political a t t a c k m a c h i n e for t h e far right and a launching pad for younger conservatives on t h e m a k e . "Our j o b , " t h e twenty-two-year-old A b r a m o f f wrote after his first visit to t h e R e a g a n W h i t e House, "is to remove liberals from power permanently—[from] student newspaper and radio stations, student g o v e r n m e n t s , and academia." Karl R o v e had o n c e held t h e same j o b as c h a i r m a n . So did G r o v e r Norquist, who ran Abramoff's campaign. A youthful $ 2 0 0 - a - m o n t h intern n a m e d R a l p h R e e d was at their side. T h e s e were t h e rising young stars of t h e conservative m o v e m e n t who c a m e to town to lead a revolution and stayed to run a racket. T h e y reeked o f piety. L i k e DeLay, who had proclaimed h i m s e l f God's messenger, R a l p h R e e d found Jesus, was born-again, and wound u p running Pat Robertson's C h r i s t i a n C o a l i t i o n , landing o n t h e c o v e r o f Time as " t h e R i g h t H a n d of G o d . " Reportedly after seeing Fiddler on the Roof A b r a m o f f b e c a m e an O r t h o d o x religious J e w who finagled fake awards as " S c h o l a r of B i b l i c a l and A m e r i c a n History," "Distinguished B i b l e S c h o l a r " (from a n apparently n o n e x i s t e n t organization), t h e " B i b lical M e r c a n t i l e Award" allegedly from t h e C a s c a d i a n Business Institute through w h i c h m o n e y was funded for DeLay's famous visit to a plush S c o t t i s h golf club, and t h e N a t i o n a l O r d e r o f M e r i t from t h e U S A Foundation, whose c h a i r m a n w a s . . . J a c k Abramoff. It is impossible to treat all t h e schemes and scams this crowd c o n c o c t e d t o subvert democracy i n t h e n a m e o f G o d and greed. B u t thanks to some superb reporting from t h e Associated Press and K n i g h t Ridder, a m o n g others, we c a n t o u c h on a few.

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A b r a m o f f made his n a m e , so to speak, representing Indian tribes with gambling interests. As his partner he hired a D e L a y crony n a m e d M i c h a e l S c a n l o n . T o g e t h e r they would bilk h a l f a dozen Indian tribes who hired t h e m to protect their tribal gambling interests from c o m p e t i tion. W h a t they had to offer, of course, were their well-known c o n n e c tions to t h e R e p u b l i c a n power structure, including members of Congress, friends at t h e W h i t e House (Abramoff's personal assistant b e c a m e Karl Rove's personal assistant), C h r i s t i a n R i g h t activists like R a l p h R e e d , and right-wing ideologues like G r o v e r Norquist (according to The Texas Observer, two lobbying clients of A b r a m o f f paid $ 2 5 , 0 0 0 to Norquist's organ i z a t i o n — A m e r i c a n s for T a x R e f o r m — f o r a l u n c h date and m e e t i n g with President Bush i n M a y 2 0 0 1 ) . A b r a m o f f and S c a n l o n c a m e up with o n e s c h e m e they called " G i m m e F i v e . " A b r a m o f f would refer tribes to S c a n l o n for grassroots public relations work, and S c a n l o n would t h e n k i c k b a c k about 5 0 perc e n t to Abramoff, all without t h e tribes' knowledge. Before it was over t h e tribes had paid t h e m $ 8 2 million, m u c h of it going directly into Abramoff's and S c a n l o n ' s pockets. A n d that doesn't c o u n t t h e t h o u sands more that A b r a m o f f directed t h e tribes to pay out in campaign contributions. S o m e of t h e m o n e y found its way i n t o an outfit called t h e C o u n c i l of R e p u b l i c a n s for E n v i r o n m e n t a l A d v o c a c y , founded by G a l e N o r t o n before she b e c a m e secretary of t h e interior, t h e c a b i n e t position most responsible for Indian gaming rights (as well as oil-and-gas issues, public lands and parks, and s o m e t h i n g else we'll get to in a m o m e n t ) . S o m e of t h e m o n e y went to so-called charities set up by A b r a m o f f and D e L a y t h a t filtered m o n e y for lavish trips for members of Congress and their staff, as well as salaries for congressional family members and DeLay's pet projects. A n d some of t h e m o n e y found its way to t h e righteous folks of t h e religious R i g h t . O n e who had his h a n d out was R a l p h R e e d , t h e C h r i s t i a n Coalition's poster boy against gambling. " W e believe gambling is a c a n c e r on t h e A m e r i c a n body politic," R e e d had said. "It is stealing food from t h e mouths of children . . . [and] turning wives i n t o widows."

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W h e n he resigned from t h e C h r i s t i a n C o a l i t i o n (just as it was c o m i n g under federal investigation and slipping i n t o financial arrears), R e e d sought a cut of t h e lucre flowing to A b r a m o f f and S c a n l o n . He sent A b r a m o f f an e-mail: " N o w that I am leaving electoral politics, I n e e d to start humping in corporate accounts . . . I'm c o u n t i n g on you to help me with some c o n t a c t s . " A b r a m o f f c a m e through. A c c o r d i n g to The Washington Post's S u s a n S c h m i d t and R . Jeffrey S m i t h , h e and S c a n l o n paid R e e d some $ 4 million to whip up C h r i s t i a n opposition to gambling initiatives that could cut i n t o t h e profits o f J a c k Abramoff's clients. R e e d called i n some o f t h e brightest stars in t h e C h r i s t i a n f i r m a m e n t — P a t R o b e r t s o n , Jerry Falwell, J a m e s D o b s o n , Phyllis S c h l a f l y — t o participate in what b e c a m e a ruse on Abramoff's behalf. T h e y would oppose gambling on religious and moral grounds in strategic places at decisive m o m e n t s w h e n c o m p e t i t i v e c h a l lenges t h r e a t e n e d Abramoff's clients. Bogus C h r i s t i a n fronts were part of t h e strategy. Baptist preachers in T e x a s rallied to Reed's appeals. Unsuspecting folks in Louisiana heard t h e v o i c e of G o d on t h e radio—with Jerry Falwell and P a t R o b e r t s o n doing t h e h o nor s — t hunder i ng against a riverboat gambling s c h e m e t h a t o n e of Abramoff's c l i e n t s feared would undermine its advantage. R e e d e v e n got J a m e s Dobson, whose n a t i o n wide radio "ministry" reaches millions of people, to deluge p h o n e lines at t h e D e p a r t m e n t of t h e Interior and W h i t e House with calls from indignant Christians. In 1 9 9 9 A b r a m o f f arranged for t h e Mississippi C h o c t a w s , who were trying to stave off c o m p e t i t i o n from o t h e r tribes, to c o n t r i b u t e m o r e t h a n $ 1 m i l l i o n t o Norquist's A m e r i c a n s for T a x R e f o r m , w h i c h t h e n passed t h e m o n e y along t o t h e A l a b a m a C h r i s t i a n C o a l i t i o n and t o ano t h e r antigambling group R e e d had duped into aiding t h e cause. It is unclear h o w m u c h these C h r i s t i a n soldiers "marching as to war" k n e w about t h e true purpose of their crusade, but R a l p h R e e d k n e w all along that his m o n e y was c o m i n g from Abramoff. T h e e-mails b e t w e e n t h e two m e n read like Elmer Gantry. It gets worse.

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S o m e of Abramoff's m o n e y from lobbying w e n t to start a nonprofit organization called t h e U . S . Family N e t w o r k . N i c e n a m e , yes? A n uplifting a l l - A m e r i c a n n a m e , like so m a n y others t h a t fly t h e conservative b a n n e r in W a s h i n g t o n . T o m D e L a y wrote a fund-raising letter in w h i c h he described t h e U . S . Family N e t w o r k as "a powerful nationwide organization dedicated to restoring our g o v e r n m e n t to citizen c o n t r o l . " Fund-raising appeals warned t h a t t h e A m e r i c a n family "is being att a c k e d from all sides: c r i m e , drugs, pornography . .. and gambling." So help m e , I'm n o t m a k i n g this up. You c a n read R. Jeffrey S m i t h ' s m i n d boggling a c c o u n t of it on The Washington Post W e b site, where he writes t h a t t h e organization did no discernable grassroots organizing and its m o n e y c a m e from business groups with no demonstrated interest in t h e "moral fitness" agenda that was t h e network's professed aim. Let's call it what it was: a s c a m — o n e more cog in t h e m o n e y laundering m a c h i n e c o n t r o l l e d by D e L a y and Abramoff. A former top assistant to D e L a y founded t h e organization. It bought a town house just three blocks from DeLay's congressional quarters and provided h i m w i t h fancy free office space where he would go to raise money. DeLay's wife also got a salary. B u t that's t h e least of it. W o r k i n g with A b r a m o f f through a now-defunct law firm in L o n d o n and an obscure offshore c o m p a n y in t h e B a h a m a s , Russian oil-and-gas e x e c u t i v e s were using t h e U . S . Family N e t w o r k t o funnel m o n e y t o influence t h e majority leader o f t h e House o f Representatives—yes, t h a t c h a m b e r o f A m e r i c a n g o v e r n m e n t o n c e k n o w n a s t h e "People's House." O u r witness for this is t h e C h r i s t i a n pastor w h o served as t h e titular president o f t h e U . S . Family N e t w o r k , t h e R e v e r e n d C h r i s t o p h e r G e e s l i n . He told The Washington Post t h a t t h e founder of t h e organization, t h e former D e L a y aide, told h i m t h a t a m i l l i o n dollars was passed through from sources in Russia who wanted DeLay's support for legislat i o n e n a b l i n g t h e I n t e r n a t i o n a l M o n e t a r y Fund to bail out t h e faltering Russian e c o n o m y without demanding t h a t t h e country raise taxes on its energy industry. As M o l l y Ivins pointed out in a r e c e n t c o l u m n , right on cue D e L a y found his way o n t o F o x News Sunday to argue t h e Russian po-

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sition. T h a t same titular h e a d o f t h e U . S . Family N e t w o r k , t h e C h r i s tian pastor, said DeLay's former c h i e f of staff also told h i m , " T h i s is t h e way things work in W a s h i n g t o n . " This is the way things work in Washington. T w e n t y - f i v e years ago G r o v e r Norquist had said t h a t " W h a t R e p u b licans n e e d is 50 J a c k Abramoffs in W a s h i n g t o n . T h e n this will be a different town." W e l l , they got it, and t h e arc of t h e conservative t a k e o v e r of gove r n m e n t was c o m p l e t e d . A b r a m o f f had o n c e said t h a t his goal was to banish liberals from college campuses, and that "all of my political work is driven by philosophical interests, n o t by t h e desire to gain wealth." N o w his i n t e n t i o n s , as he admitted to M i c h a e l C r o w l e y of T h e New York Times, were "to push t h e R e p u b l i c a n s on K S t r e e t to be m o r e helpful to t h e conservative m o v e m e n t . " M o n e y , politics, and ideology b e c a m e o n e and t h e same in a juggernaut of power t h a t crushed everything in sight, including c o r e conservative principles. H e r e we c o m e to the heart of darkness. O n e of Abramoff's first big lobbying clients was t h e N o r t h e r n M a r i ana Islands in t h e Pacific. A f t e r W o r l d W a r II t h e M a r i a n a s b e c a m e a trusteeship o f t h e U n i t e d N a t i o n s , administered b y t h e U . S . g o v e r n m e n t under t h e stewardship o f t h e D e p a r t m e n t o f t h e Interior. W e should all r e m e m b e r that thousands of marines died there, fighting for our way of life and our freedoms. Today these islands are a h a v e n for tourists—firstclass hotels, beautiful b e a c h e s , a c h a m p i o n s h i p golf course. B u t t h e islands were e x e m p t e d from U . S . labor and immigration laws, and over t h e years tens of thousands of people, primarily C h i n e s e , mostly w o m e n , were brought there as garment workers. T h e s e so-called guest workers found themselves living in crowded barracks in miserable c o n d i t i o n s . T h e m a i n island, Saipan, b e c a m e k n o w n as A m e r i c a ' s biggest sweatshop. In 1 9 9 8 a g o v e r n m e n t report found workers there living in substandard conditions, suffering severe malnutrition and h e a l t h problems, and subjected to unprovoked acts of v i o l e n c e . M a n y had signed "shadow c o n t r a c t s , " w h i c h required t h e m to pay up to $ 7 , 0 0 0 just to get a j o b . T h e y also had to r e n o u n c e their c l a i m to basic h u m a n rights, including

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political and religious activities, socializing, and marrying. If they protested, they could b e summarily deported. A s G r e g M c D o n a l d wrote i n t h e Houston Chronicle, t h e garments produced on S a i p a n were manufactured for A m e r i c a n c o m p a n i e s from tariff-free A s i a n c l o t h and shipped duty- and quota-free t o t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s . S o m e o f t h e biggest names i n t h e retail c l o t h i n g industry—Levi Strauss, G a p , J.Crew, Eddie Bauer, R e e b o k , P o l o , T o m m y Hilfiger, Nordstrom, Lord & Taylor, J o n e s N e w York, and Liz C l a i b o r n e — h a d b e e n able to slap a "made in t h e U S A " lab e l on t h e c l o t h e s and import t h e m to A m e r i c a , while paying the workers practically n o t h i n g . W h e n these scandalous c o n d i t i o n s began t o attract a t t e n t i o n , t h e sweatshop moguls fought all efforts at reform. K n o w i n g t h a t J a c k A b r a m o f f was close to T o m DeLay, they hired h i m to lobby for t h e islands. C o n s e r v a t i v e members of Congress lined up as Abramoff's t e a m arranged for t h e m to visit t h e islands on carefully guided j u n k e t s . C o n servative intellectuals and journalists, for hire at rates considerably above what t h e w o m e n on t h e islands were making, also signed up for expense-free trips to t h e Marianas. T h e y flew first-class, dined at posh restaurants, slept in comfort at t h e beachfront h o t e l , and returned to write and speak of t h e islands as "a true free m a r k e t success story" and "a laboratory of liberty." A b r a m o f f t o o k T o m D e L a y and h i s wife t h e r e , t o o . D e L a y practically swooned. He said t h e Marianas "represented what is best about A m e r i c a . " H e called t h e m "my Galapagos"—"a perfect petri dish o f c a p italism." T h e s e fellow travelers—right-wing members of Congress, t h e i r staffs, and their lapdogs in t h e right-wing press and t h i n k t a n k s — b e c a m e a solid p h a l a n x against any and all attempts to provide the workers on t h e islands with a living wage and d e c e n t c o n d i t i o n s . W h e n a liberal California D e m o c r a t , G e o r g e Miller, and a conservative A l a s k a n senator, Frank Murkowski, indignant at t h e "appalling c o n d i t i o n s , " wanted to e n a c t a bill to raise m i n i m u m wages on t h e islands and at least prevent summary deportation of t h e workers, D e L a y and A b r a m o f f stopped t h e m cold. As R e p r e s e n t a t i v e M i l l e r told it, " T h e y killed my re-

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form bill year after year. A n d e v e n w h e n an immigration reform bill by S e n a t o r F r a n k Murkowski, a R e p u b l i c a n , was approved by t h e full S e n ate, t h e y b l o c k e d it repeatedly in t h e H o u s e . " After t h e 2 0 0 0 e l e c t i o n , w h e n t h e spoils o f victory were being divided up, A b r a m o f f got h i m s e l f n a m e d to t h e B u s h transition t e a m for t h e D e p a r t m e n t o f t h e Interior. H e w a n t e d t o m a k e sure t h e right p e o ple wound up overseeing his c l i e n t s , t h e M a r i a n a s . He enlisted R e e d , w h o said he would raise t h e m a t t e r with R o v e , to stop at least o n e app o i n t m e n t t o t h e D e p a r t m e n t o f t h e I n t e r i o r t h a t m i g h t prove troubles o m e . A b o u t this t i m e R e e d wrote an e-mail to Enron's top lobbyist touting his pal A b r a m o f f as "arguably t h e most influential a n d effective G O P lobbyist in Congress. I share several c l i e n t s with h i m a n d h a v e yet to see h i m lose a b a t t l e . He also is very c l o s e to D e L a y and could help enormously on t h a t front, raised $ for bush . . . he [sic] assistant is S u s a n R a l s t o n [who would b e c o m e R o v e ' s assistant]." For his services t o t h e M a r i a n a s J a c k A b r a m o f f was paid nearly $ 1 0 million, including t h e fees he charged for b o o k i n g his guests on t h e golf courses and providing t h e m copies o f N e w t G i n g r i c h ' s b o o k . O n e o f t h e sweatshop moguls w i t h w h o m A b r a m o f f was particularly c l o s e c o n tributed h a l f a m i l l i o n dollars t o — y o u guessed i t — t h e U . S . Family N e t work t h a t laundered m o n e y from Russian oligarchs to T o m DeLay. To this day, workers on t h e M a r i a n a s are denied the federal m i n i m u m wage while working long hours for subsistence i n c o m e in their little "perfect petri dish of capitalism." B o t h ends o f P e n n s y l v a n i a A v e n u e were n o w i n sync. G e o r g e W . B u s h h a d c r e a t e d his o w n v e r s i o n o f t h e K S t r e e t P r o j e c t . R e m e m b e r h o w he emerged from t h e crowded field of R e p u b l i c a n candidates in early 1 9 9 9 and literally blew several of t h e m out of t h e water? He did so by drowning his o p p o n e n t s with money. In just his first six m o n t h s of fund-raising, B u s h c o l l e c t e d some $ 3 6 m i l l i o n — n i n e times more t h a n his nearest o p p o n e n t , J o h n M c C a i n . T h e m o n e y c a m e from t h e titans o f A m e r i c a n business and lobbying w h o understood t h a t t h e i r c o n t r i b u tions would b e rewarded. You've h e a r d o f t h e P i o n e e r s and R a n g e r s — people w h o raised a t least $ 1 0 0 , 0 0 0 and $ 2 0 0 , 0 0 0 for B u s h . A m o n g

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t h e m were people like T o m DeLay's brother, also a lobbyist; t h e C E O o f E n r o n , K e n n e t h ( " K e n n y B o y " ) Lay; a n d hundreds o f e x e c u t i v e s from t h e country's banks, i n v e s t m e n t houses, oil-and-gas c o m p a n i e s , e l e c t r i c utilities, and o t h e r corporations. W h i l e T o m D e L a y kept a ledger on K S t r e e t , ranking lobbyists as friendly and unfriendly, t h e B u s h campaign assigned a tracking n u m b e r to every major contributor, m a k i n g sure to k n o w w h o was bringing in t h e bucks and where they were c o m i n g from. I n M a y o f 1 9 9 9 t h e trade association for t h e e l e c t r i c utility industry s e n t a l e t t e r to p o t e n t i a l c o n tributors o n B u s h c a m p a i g n stationery, reminding t h e m t h a t c a m p a i g n managers "have stressed t h e i m p o r t a n c e of h a v i n g our industry incorporate t h e tracking n u m b e r in your fundraising e f f o r t s . . . it does ensure t h a t our industry is credited a n d t h a t your progress is listed . . ." T h e bounty was plentiful. A score of Pioneers and Rangers were paid off with ambassadorships. At least thirty-seven were n a m e d to poste l e c t i o n transition teams, where they h a d a major say in selecting political appointees at key regulatory positions across t h e g o v e r n m e n t . R e m e m b e r t h e C a l i f o r n i a energy crisis, w h e n E n r o n traders boasted o f gouging grandmothers to drive up the prices for energy? W e l l , Enron's K e n n e t h Lay h a d b e e n Bush's biggest c a m p a i g n funder o v e r t h e years and what he asked n o w as a payoff was a p p o i n t m e n t to t h e D e p a r t m e n t o f Energy transition t e a m . T h i s i s h o w Enron's boss got t o n a m e t w o o f t h e five members of t h e Federal Energy Regulatory C o m m i s s i o n , w h o looked t h e o t h e r way while E n r o n rigged California's energy prices a n d looted billions right out o f t h e pockets o f California's citizens. T h e r e are, repeat, n o victimless crimes i n politics. T h e c o s t o f c o r ruption i s passed o n t o you. W h e n t h e g o v e r n m e n t o f t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s falls under t h e t h u m b of t h e powerful and privileged, regular folks get squashed. T h i s week I visited for t h e first t i m e t h e M u s e u m of t h e Presidio in S a n F r a n c i s c o . F r o m there A m e r i c a n troops shipped out t o c o m b a t i n t h e Pacific. M a n y n e v e r c a m e b a c k . O n t h e walls o f o n e corridor are photographs of s o m e of t h o s e troops, a long way from h o m e . L o o k i n g at t h e m , I wondered: Is this what those marines died for on t h e M a r i a n a s —

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for sweatshops, t h e plunder of our public trust, t h e corruption of d e m o c racy? G o v e r n m e n t of t h e Abramoffs, by t h e DeLays, and for the people w h o bribe t h e m ? I don't t h i n k so. B u t this crowd in charge has a vision sharply at odds with t h e A m e r i c a n people. T h e y would arrange W a s h i n g t o n and t h e world for t h e c o n v e n i e n c e of themselves and t h e transnational corporations t h a t pay for t h e i r e l e c t i o n s . I n t h e words o f A l Meyeroff, t h e Los A n g e l e s attorney w h o led a successful class a c t i o n suit for t h e workers on S a i p a n , t h e people w h o c o n t r o l t h e U . S . g o v e r n m e n t today want " a society run b y t h e powerful, oblivious to t h e weak, free of any oversight, enjoying a cozy relationship with g o v e r n m e n t , and thriving on c r o n y capitalism." A m e r i c a as their petri d i s h — t h e M a r i a n a s , many times over. T h i s is an old story and our c o n t i n u i n g struggle. A century ago T h e odore R o o s e v e l t said t h e c e n t r a l fact of his t i m e was that corporations h a d b e c o m e so d o m i n a n t they would c h e w up d e m o c r a c y and spit it out. His cousin F r a n k l i n R o o s e v e l t warned t h a t a g o v e r n m e n t of m o n e y was as m u c h to be feared as a g o v e r n m e n t by m o b . O n e was a progressive R e publican, t h e o t h e r a liberal D e m o c r a t . T h e i r s e n t i m e n t s were e c h o e d by a n i c o n o f t h e c o n s e r v a t i v e m o v e m e n t , Barry Goldwater, i n 1 9 8 5 during his s t a t e m e n t before t h e C o m m i s s i o n o n N a t i o n a l E l e c t i o n s :

T h e fact that liberty depended on honest elections was of the utmost importance to the patriots who founded our nation and wrote the Constitution. T h e y knew that corruption destroyed the prime requisite of Constitutional liberty, an independent legislature free from any influence other than that of the people . .. representative government assumes that elections will be controlled by the citizenry at large, not by those who give the most money. Electors must believe their vote counts. Elected officials must owe their allegiance to the people, not to their own wealth or to the wealth of interest groups who speak only for the selfish fringes of the whole community.

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I h a v e painted a bleak picture of out political process. I b e l i e v e it is a true picture. But it is n o t a hopeless picture. S o m e t h i n g c a n be d o n e about it. Organized people h a v e always had to t a k e on organized money. If they had not, blacks would still be slaves, w o m e n wouldn't h a v e t h e v o t e , workers couldn't organize, and c h i l d r e n would still be working in t h e mines. O u r democracy today is m o r e inclusive t h a n in the days of t h e founders because t i m e and again, t h e people h a v e organized t h e m selves to insist t h a t A m e r i c a b e c o m e "a more perfect union." It is t i m e to fight again. T h e s e people in W a s h i n g t o n h a v e no right to be doing what they are doing. It's n o t their government, it's your gove r n m e n t . T h e y work for you. T h e y ' r e public e m p l o y e e s — a n d if t h e y let us down and sell us out, they should be fired. T h a t goes for t h e lowliest bureaucrat i n t o w n t o t h e senior leaders o f C o n g r e s s o n u p t o t h e president of the United States. T h e y would h a v e you b e l i e v e this is just "a lobbying scandal." T h e y would h a v e you t h i n k t h a t if they pass a few n o m i n a l reforms, put a little more distance b e t w e e n t h e politician and t h e lobbyist, you will t h i n k everything is okay and they c a n go b a c k to business as usual. T h e y ' r e trying it now. Just l o o k at C o n g r e s s m a n J o h n B o e h n e r , e l e c t e d to replace T o m D e L a y as House majority leader. Today he speaks t h e language of reform, but t e n years ago B o e h n e r was handing out c h e c k s from t h e t o b a c c o e x e c u t i v e s on t h e floor of the House. He's b e e n a full player in t h e K S t r e e t P r o j e c t and DeLay's m o n e y m a c h i n e , holding weekly meetings with some of t h e most powerful lobbyists in t h e Speaker's suite a t t h e C a p i t o l . H e has thought n o t h i n g o f hopping o n corporate j e t s or cruising t h e C a r i b b e a n during winter breaks with highpowered lobbyists. Moreover, C o n g r e s s m a n R o y B l u n t has b e e n e l e c t e d to DeLay's first j o b as majority whip despite being deeply compromised by millions upon millions of dollars raised from t h e same interests t h a t bought off DeLay. A n d what n o w of D e L a y ? He's under i n d i c t m e n t for m o n e y laundering in T e x a s and h a d to resign as majority leader. B u t just t h e o t h e r day t h e party bosses in Congress gave h i m a seat on t h e powerful House

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Appropriations C o m m i t t e e where big contributors get t h e i r rewards. A n d — a r e you ready for t h i s ? — t h e y put h i m on t h e s u b c o m m i t t e e overseeing t h e J u s t i c e D e p a r t m e n t , w h i c h is investigating t h e A b r a m o f f scandal, including Abramoff's c o n n e c t i o n s to DeLay. Business as usual. T h e usual rot. You may say, " S e e ? T h e s e forces c a n ' t be defeated. T h e y ' r e t o o rich, they're t o o powerful, they're t o o e n t r e n c h e d . " B u t l o o k a t what has h a p p e n e d i n C o n n e c t i c u t , o n e o f t h e most corrupt states in t h e U n i o n . R o c k e d by multiple scandals t h a t brought down a state treasurer, a state senator, and t h e governor h i m s e l f with c o n v i c t i o n s of bribery, t a x evasion, a n d worse, t h e people finally h a d enough. A l t h o u g h many of t h e parties had to be forced k i c k i n g and screaming to do it, last D e c e m b e r t h e legislature passed c l e a n - m o n e y reform and t h e n e w governor signed it i n t o law. T h e bill bans c a m p a i g n c o n t r i b u t i o n s from lobbyists and state c o n t r a c t o r s and makes C o n n e c t i cut t h e very first state in t h e n a t i o n where t h e legislature and governor approved full public funding for t h e i r o w n races. C o n n e c t i c u t isn't t h e only place where t h e link b e t w e e n public officials a n d private c a m p a i g n c o n t r i b u t i o n s h a s b e e n b r o k e n . B o t h A r i zona and M a i n e offer full public financing of statewide and legislative races. N e w Jersey, N e w M e x i c o , N o r t h C a r o l i n a , and V e r m o n t h a v e c l e a n - m o n e y systems for some races. T h e cities of Portland, O r e g o n , and A l b u q u e r q u e , N e w M e x i c o , r e c e n t l y approved full public financing for citywide races. In these places, candidates for public office—-executive, legislative, and in some cases j u d i c i a l — h a v e t h e o p t i o n of running on a limited and equal grant of full public funding, provided t h e y t a k e little or no private c o n t r i b u t i o n s . To qualify they h a v e to pass a threshold by raising a large n u m b e r of small c o n t r i b u t i o n s from voters in their district. T h e system allows candidates to run c o m p e t i t i v e campaigns for office e v e n if they do n o t h a v e ties to well-heeled donors or Big M o n e y lobbyists, a n e a r impossibility w h e n public e l e c t i o n s are privately funded. In places where c l e a n e l e c t i o n s are law, we see more c o m p e t i t i o n for

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legislative seats and a more diverse group of people running for office. A n d t h e r e are policy results as well. In Arizona, o n e of t h e first a c t s of G o v e r n o r J a n e t N a p o l i t a n o , e l e c t e d under t h e state's public financing program, was to institute reforms establishing low-cost prescription drug subsidies for seniors. C o m p a r e t h a t to t h e M e d i c a r e debacle going on at t h e n a t i o n a l level. I n M a i n e , where c l e a n e l e c t i o n s h a v e b e e n i n place since 2 0 0 0 , t h e r e h a v e also b e e n advances i n providing low-cost pharm a c e u t i c a l drugs for residents, and in making sure t h a t every state resident has m e d i c a l coverage. W h y ? B e c a u s e t h e politicians c a n d o what's right, n o t what they're paid to do by big donors. T h e y , n o t t h e lobbyists, write t h e legislation. C a l i f o r n i a may soon follow C o n n e c t i c u t . C a l l i n g for t h e p o l i t i c a l equivalent of e l e c t r o s h o c k therapy, t h e Los Angeles Times recently urged Californians: "Forget half-measures. T h e cure is voluntary public financing o f e l e c t i o n campaigns." Already t h e C l e a n M o n e y and Fair E l e c t i o n s bill has passed t h e state assembly and is headed for t h e senate. T h i n k about this: Californians could buy b a c k t h e i r e l e c t e d representatives at a c o s t of about $5 or $6 per resident. N a t i o n a l l y we could buy b a c k our Congress and t h e W h i t e House with full public financing for about $ 1 0 per taxpayer per year. You c a n c h e c k this out on t h e W e b site for Public C a m p a i g n (www.publicampaign.org). Public funding won't solve all t h e problems. T h e r e ' s no way c o m pletely to legislate predators from abusing our trust. B u t it would go a long way to breaking t h e link b e t w e e n big donors and public officials and to restoring d e m o c r a c y to the people. U n t i l we offer qualified c a n didates a different source of funding for their c a m p a i g n s — c l e a n , disinterested, a c c o u n t a b l e public m o n e y — t h e selling o f A m e r i c a will g o o n . F r o m scandal to scandal. R e p r e s e n t a t i v e B a r n e y F r a n k says o f Congress: " W e are t h e o n l y people in t h e world required by law to take large amounts of m o n e y from strangers and t h e n act as if it has no effect on our behavior." W h a t law is he talking about? T h e unwritten law t h a t says your c o n gressman has to raise $ 2 , 0 0 0 per day from t h e day he or she is sworn in

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t o t h e n e x t E l e c t i o n Day—weekdays, Saturdays, Sundays, C h r i s t m a s E v e , and t h e Fourth o f July. A s long a s e l e c t e d officials n e e d t h a t c o n stant stream of cash, s o m e o n e will run our country but it w o n ' t be you. E v e n some business lobbyists are having s e c o n d thoughts. O n e o f t h e m , S t a n t o n A n d e r s o n , was r e c e n t l y quoted in BusinessWeek: " A s a c o n s e r v a t i v e , I've always opposed g o v e r n m e n t i n v o l v e m e n t . But it seems to me t h e real answer is federal financing of Congressional e l e c tions." Mr. A n d e r s o n understands this isn't about a few bad apples. T h i s is about t h e system. W e c a n c h a n g e t h e system. B u t w e h a v e t o believe d e m o c r a c y is worth fighting for. L i s t e n to what T h e o d o r e R o o s e v e l t said in 1 9 1 2 in C h i c a g o w h e n h e t o o k o n t h e political bosses and Big M o n e y o f his t i m e for c o m m i t ting "treason to t h e people":

We are standing for the great fundamental rights upon which all successful free government must be based. We are standing for elementary decency in politics. We are fighting for honesty against naked robbery. It is not a partisan issue; it is more than a political issue; it is a great moral issue. If we condone political theft, if we do not resent the kinds of wrong and injustice that injuriously affect the whole nation, not merely our democratic form of government but our civilization itself cannot endure.

We n e e d t h a t fighting spirit t o d a y — t h e tough, outraged, and resilient spirit t h a t knows we h a v e b e e n delivered t h e great and precious legacy, " g o v e r n m e n t of, by, and for t h e people," and by G o d we're going to pass it o n .

17. Keynote

Address

AFTER

for

the

Environmental

O C T O B E R

16,

Before the terrorists struck on vironmental

Grantmakers

9/11

Association

I

was still in mourning. as

But 1

especially

environmentalists political

to

activities,

and

on

the

other

the

visions

windows

of K

politics,

then five weeks away; the country

public-interest lobbyists

the grief. advocates

were

Street—the

suddenly

had

suspended

mounting

a

that where

normal full-court

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predatory the

In Washington,

epicenter

heads

of Washington;

of lobbyists.

inside,

And in corporate

the country CEOs were waking up to the prospect of a bonanza

born of tragedy. corporate

in

began to notice some items in the news

of newfound gold danced in

suites across

of money

talk about money and politics while

press for special favors at taxpayer expense. on

impact

When 1 went on the air with a daily

repugnant amid all

corporate

Association

2001

thought of canceling the speech,

it just didn't seem timely struck me

Grantmakers

I had been scheduled to speak to the En-

one of my regular beats in journalism. broadcast after 9/11

9/1 1

directors

Within

two weeks of 9/11

rushing

to

give

the business press was telling of

bargain-priced stock options

to

their

top

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220

executives. gether:

BILL

T h e W a l l S t r e e t Journal*

MOYERS

would later piece

stocks had fallen sharply after the attacks,

ber 21; families of 9/11

victims

the whole story

to-

reaching a low on Septem-

were still waiting for some piece

of flesh or

bone to confirm the loss of a loved one;

soldiers were loading their gear for

deployment

executives

to Afghanistan;

their shekels

to notice.

and corporate As

stock

warm

"Grab the days

the more lucrative they are.

ourselves,"

goes

an

loot and run."

top executives

option grants—more

than

twice

September ployees

now

just

as

1 0 0 companies did

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at

so.

One

before

the

many

as

begun

chairman,

it,

his

New

spokesman

mayor

let us

it

reads: last

said

in recent options

laying

in

off em-

nonetheless,

and when Journal rethe

CEO

wouldn't

be

"1 don't want to put him in the position of

he feel about potentially

York

buy

During the

company—Teradyne—had

President Bush had already

shopping.

English,

terrorists

available for an interview because edy."

to

in comparable periods

later,

ask about

answering how does

to

that did not regularly grant stock

helped himself to 602,589 options just two weeks to

right

1 8 6 companies gobbled up stock-

the

wanted

the

"Since the house is on fire,

struck;

porters

hours

counting

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511

Almost

busy

the lower the price when options

Italian proverb.

of September,

years.

too

options grant executives

shares at that low price for years to come, are awarded,

were

Rudy

urged us

benefiting from

the

9/11

trag-

to prove our patriotism by going

Giuliani

went

on

television

to

say

we

should "step up to the plate right now and show the strength of the American economy." newfound ism.

Giuliani celebrity

And

complex ing ruins.

in

himself would soon to

advise

Washington

salivated at

the

be

corporations the

prospect

hauling in a fortune on

marionettes

how of

to protect the

of windfall profits

Grief would prove no match for greed.

exploiting his against

terror-

military-industrial-security rising from

the

smolder-

1 decided not to cancel the

speech.

* * *

T h i s isn't t h e s p e e c h I e x p e c t e d to give today. I intended s o m e t h i n g else. For several years I've b e e n taking every possible opportunity to talk * See Charles Forelle, James Bandler, and Mark Maremont, "Executive Pay: T h e 9/11

Factor," The Wall Street Journal, July 15, 2006.

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about t h e soul of democracy. " S o m e t h i n g is deeply wrong with politics today," I told a n y o n e w h o would listen. A n d 1 wasn't referring to t h e partisan mudslinging, o r t h e n e g a t i v e T V ads, t h e e x c e s s i v e polling, o r t h e empty campaigns. I was talking about s o m e t h i n g deeper, s o m e t h i n g troubling a t t h e c o r e o f politics. T h e soul o f d e m o c r a c y — g o v e r n m e n t of, by, and for t h e p e o p l e — h a s b e e n drowning in a rising tide of m o n e y c o n tributed by a narrow, unrepresentative e l i t e t h a t has betrayed A b r a h a m L i n c o l n ' s vision o f self-government. T h i s , to m e , is t h e big political story of t h e last quarter century, a n d I started reporting it as a journalist in t h e late 1 9 7 0 s with t h e first t e l e vision d o c u m e n t a r y about political a c t i o n c o m m i t t e e s . I i n t e n d e d to talk about this t o d a y — a b o u t t h e soul o f d e m o c r a c y — a n d t h e n c o n n e c t it to your e n v i r o n m e n t a l work. T h a t was my i n t e n t i o n . T h a t ' s t h e speech I was working on six weeks ago. Before 9 / 1 1 . W e ' v e all b e e n rocked o n our heels b y what happened. W e h a v e b e e n reminded t h a t while t h e c l o c k and t h e calendar m a k e it seem as if our lives unfold h o u r by hour, day by day, our passage is marked by e v e n t s — o f c e l e b r a t i o n and crisis. W e share those i n c o m m o n . T h e y c r e ate t h e memories w h i c h m a k e us a people, a n a t i o n with a history. Pearl Harbor was t h a t e v e n t for my parents' g e n e r a t i o n . It c h a n g e d their world, as it c h a n g e d t h e m . T h e y n e v e r forgot t h e m o m e n t t h e y heard t h e news. F o r my g e n e r a t i o n it was t h e assassinations of t h e K e n n e d y s and M a r t i n L u t h e r K i n g , t h e b o m b i n g o f t h e S i x t e e n t h S t r e e t B a p t i s t C h u r c h , t h e dogs and fire hoses i n A l a b a m a . T h o s e e v e n t s b r o k e our hearts. For this present generation, that m o m e n t will b e S e p t e m b e r 1 1 , 2 0 0 1 . We will n e v e r forget it. In o n e sense, this is what terrorists i n t e n d . Terrorists don't w a n t to o w n our land, wealth, m o n u m e n t s , buildings, fields, or streams. T h e y ' r e n o t after tangible property. S u r e , they a i m to a n n i h i l a t e t h e targets they strike. B u t t h e i r real goal is to get inside our heads, our psyche, and to deprive u s — t h e survivors—of p e a c e of m i n d , of trust, of faith, to prevent us from believing again in a world of mercy, justice, and love, or working to bring t h a t b e t t e r world to pass.

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T h i s is t h e i r real target, to turn our imaginations i n t o private Afghanistans, where they c a n rule by fear. O n c e they possess us, they are hard to e x o r c i s e . T h i s summer our daughter and son-in-law adopted a baby boy. On S e p t e m b e r 1 1 , our son-in-law passed through t h e shadow o f t h e W o r l d Trade C e n t e r to his office up t h e b l o c k . He got there in t i m e to see t h e eruption of fire and s m o k e . He saw t h e falling bodies. He saw t h e people j u m p i n g to t h e i r deaths. H i s building was e v a c u a t e d and for long awful m o m e n t s he couldn't r e a c h his wife to say he was okay. S h e was in agony until h e finally got t h r o u g h — a n d e v e n t h e n h e couldn't get h o m e t o his family until t h e n e x t morning. It t o o k h i m several days to get his legs b a c k fully. Now, in a matter-of-fact v o i c e , our daughter tells us how she often lies awake at n i g h t , wondering where a n d w h e n it m i g h t h a p p e n again, going to t h e c o m p u t e r at three in t h e m o r n i n g — h e r baby asleep i n t h e n e x t r o o m — t o c h e c k out what she c a n about bioterrorism, germ warfare, a n t h r a x , and the vulnerability of children. B e y o n d t h e carnage left by t h e sneak attack, terrorists c r e a t e a n o t h e r kind of h a v o c , invading and despoiling a n e w mother's deepest space, holding h e r imagination hostage to t h e most dreadful possibilities. T h e building where my wife and I produce our television programs is in m i d t o w n M a n h a t t a n , just o v e r a mile from ground zero. It was e v a c uated immediately after t h e disaster although t h e two of us remained with o t h e r colleagues to h e l p k e e p t h e station on t h e air. O u r building was e v a c u a t e d again late in t h e e v e n i n g a day later because of a b o m b scare at t h e nearby E m p i r e S t a t e Building. We h a d just ended a live broadcast for P B S w h e n t h e security officers swept through and ordered everyone out o f t h e building. A s w e were m a k i n g our way d o w n t h e stairs I t o o k Judith's arm and was suddenly struck by a thought: Is this the last t i m e I'll t o u c h her? C o u l d our marriage of almost fifty years e n d here, on this dim and bare staircase? I e j e c t e d t h e t h o u g h t forcibly from my mind; like a b o u n c e r r e m o v i n g a rude intruder, I shoved it out of my consciousness by s h e e r force of will. B u t in t h e first hours of m o r n i n g , the specter crept back. R e t u r n i n g from W a s h i n g t o n on t h e train last week, I l o o k e d up a n d

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for t h e first t i m e in days saw a plane in t h e sky. A n d t h e n another, and a n o t h e r — a n d every plane I saw invoked u n w e l c o m e images and terrifying thoughts. U n w e l c o m e images, t e r i f y i n g thoughts—embedded in our heads by terrorists. I wish I could find t h e wisdom in this. B u t wisdom is a very elusive thing. W i s d o m c o m e s , if at all, slowly, painfully, and only after deep reflection. Perhaps w h e n we gather n e x t year t h e wisdom will h a v e arranged itself like t h e colors of a kaleidoscope, and we will l o o k b a c k on S e p t e m b e r 11 and see it differently. B u t I h a v e n ' t b e e n ready for reflection. I h a v e wanted to stay busy, on t h e go, or on t h e run, perhaps, from t h e n e e d to c o p e with t h e reality t h a t just a few subway stops south of where I get off at P e n n S t a t i o n in midtown M a n h a t t a n , three thousand people died in a m a t t e r of minutes. O n e minute they're pulling off t h e i r j a c k e t s , sipping t h e i r coffee, adjusting t h e picture of a c h i l d or sweeth e a r t or spouse in a frame on their desk, b o o t i n g up t h e i r c o m p u t e r — and in t h e n e x t , t h e i r world ends. Practically every day The New York Times has b e e n running c o m pelling profiles of t h e dead and missing, and I've b e e n keeping t h e m . N o t out of some m a c a b r e desire to stare at death, but to see if I might recognize a face, a n a m e , some old a c q u a i n t a n c e , a former colleague, e v e n a stranger I m i g h t h a v e seen occasionally on t h e subway or street. T h a t was my original purpose. B u t as t h e file has grown I realize w h a t an amazing m o n t a g e it is of life, a portrait of t h e A m e r i c a those terrorists wanted to shatter. I study e a c h little story for its c o n t r i b u t i o n to t h e m o saic of my country, its particular revelation about t h e nature of d e m o c racy, t h e people with w h o m we share it. I v h a n Luis C a r p i o Bautista: It was his birthday, and he had t h e day off from W i n d o w s on t h e W o r l d , t h e restaurant high atop t h e W o r l d Trade C e n t e r . B u t b a c k h o m e in Peru his family depended on Luis for t h e m o n e y h e had b e e n sending t h e m s i n c e h e arrived i n N e w York two years ago speaking only S p a n i s h , and there was t h e tuition he would soon b e paying t o study a t J o h n Jay C o l l e g e o f C r i m i n a l J u s t i c e . S o o n S e p t e m b e r 1 1 , Luis Bautista was putting in o v e r t i m e . He was twentyfour.

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W i l l i a m S t e c k m a n : F o r thirty-five o f his f i f t y - s i x years h e t o o k c a r e o f t h e N B C transmitter a t O n e W o r l d Trade C e n t e r , working t h e n i g h t shift because it let h i m spend t i m e during t h e day with his five c h i l d r e n and fix things up around t h e house. His shift ended at six a.m. but this m o r n i n g his boss asked h i m to stay on to help install some n e w equipm e n t , and W i l l i a m S t e c k m a n said sure. Elizabeth H o l m e s : S h e lived i n H a r l e m with h e r son and jogged every m o r n i n g around C e n t r a l Park where I often go walking, and I h a v e b e e n wondering if Elizabeth H o l m e s and I perhaps crossed paths early o n e day. I figure we were kindred souls; she, t o o , was a Baptist, and sang in t h e c h o i r at t h e C a n a a n Baptist C h u r c h . S h e was e x p e c t i n g a ring from h e r fiance at C h r i s t m a s . L i n d a Luzzicone and R a l p h G e r h a r d t : T h e y were p l a n n i n g t h e i r wedding, t o o . T h e y h a d their parents c o m e t o N e w York i n August t o m e e t for t h e f i r s t t i m e and talk about t h e plans. T h e y h a d discovered e a c h o t h e r i n nearby cubicles o n t h e 1 0 4 t h floor o f O n e W o r l d Trade C e n t e r and fell in love. T h e y were working t h e r e w h e n t h e terrorists struck. M o n G j o n b a l a j : H e c a m e h e r e from A l b a n i a . B e c a u s e his n a m e was hard to p r o n o u n c e his friends c a l l e d h i m by t h e C a j u n "Jambalaya" and he grew to like it. He lived with his t h r e e sons in t h e B r o n x and was to h a v e retired w h e n he turned sixty-five last year, b u t he was so a t t a c h e d t o t h e building and s o enjoyed t h e c o m p a n y o f t h e o t h e r j a n i t o r s t h a t h e often showed up an hour before work just to s h o o t t h e bull. In my mind's eye I c a n see h i m t h a t m o r n i n g , horsing around with his buddies. Fred Scheffold: H e liked his j o b , t o o — c h i e f o f t h e twelfth b a t t a l i o n of firefighters in H a r l e m . He loved his m e n . B u t he n e v e r told his daughters in t h e suburbs about t h e bad stuff in all t h e fires he h a d fought over the years. He didn't want to worry t h e m . T h i s morning, his shift had just ended and he was starting h o m e w h e n t h e alarm rang. He jumped i n t o the truck with t h e others and a t O n e W o r l d Trade C e n t e r h e pushed through t h e crowds to t h e staircase, heading for t h e top. T h e last t i m e a n y o n e saw h i m alive he was h e a d i n g up t h e stairs. As hundreds poured

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past h i m going down, Fred Scheffold just kept going up through t h e flames and smoke. N o w you k n o w why I c a n ' t give t h e speech I was working on. T a l k ing about my work in television would be t o o parochial. A n d what's h a p p e n e d s i n c e t h e attacks would seem to put t h e lie to my fears about t h e soul of democracy. A m e r i c a n s rallied t o g e t h e r in a way t h a t I c a n n o t rem e m b e r since W o r l d W a r II. In real and i n s t i n c t i v e ways we h a v e felt t o u c h e d — s i n g e d — b y t h e fires t h a t brought down those buildings, e v e n those of us w h o did n o t directly lose a loved o n e . G r e a t and ordinary alike, we h a v e b e e n h u m b l e d by a renewed sense of our c o m m o n mortality. T h o s e planes t h e terrorists turned into suicide bombers cut through a c o m p l e t e cross-section of A m e r i c a — s t o c k b r o k e r s and dishwashers, bankers and secretaries, lawyers and janitors, H o l l y w o o d producers and n e w immigrants, urbanites and suburbanites alike. O n e c o m m u n i t y near where I live in N e w Jersey lost twenty-three residents. A single c h u r c h near our h o m e lost e l e v e n members of t h e c o n g r e g a t i o n . Eighty n a t i o n s are represented among t h e dead. T h i s catastrophe has reminded us of a basic truth at t h e heart of our democracy: no m a t t e r our wealth or status or faith, we are all equal before t h e law, in t h e v o t i n g b o o t h , and w h e n d e a t h rains down from t h e sky. We h a v e also b e e n reminded that despite years of scandals and political corruption, despite the stream of stories of personal greed and l o b byists s c a m m i n g t h e treasury, despite t h e retreat from t h e public sphere and t h e race toward private privilege, despite squalor for t h e poor and gated c o m m u n i t i e s for t h e rich, we h a v e b e e n reminded t h a t A m e r i c a n s h a v e n o t yet given u p o n t h e idea o f " W e t h e P e o p l e . " T h e y h a v e refused to a c c e p t t h e n o t i o n , p r o m o t e d so diligently by right-wingers, t h a t gove r n m e n t — t h e public service—should be shrunk to a size where they c a n drown it in t h e b a t h t u b , as G r o v e r Norquist said is t h e i r goal. T h e s e right-wingers t e a m e d up after 9 / 1 1 with d e e p - p o c k e t bankers to stop t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s from c r a c k i n g down o n terrorist m o n e y h a v e n s . A s Time magazine reports, thirty industrial n a t i o n s were ready to t i g h t e n t h e screws on offshore financial c e n t e r s whose banks h a v e t h e p o t e n t i a l to

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hide and often h e l p launder billions of dollars for drug cartels, global crime s y n d i c a t e s — n o t to m e n t i o n groups like O s a m a b i n Laden's al Q a e d a organization. N o t all offshore m o n e y is linked to c r i m e or terrorism; m u c h of it c o m e s from wealthy people w h o are hiding m o n e y to avoid t a x a t i o n . A n d right-wingers b e l i e v e in n o t h i n g if n o t in avoiding t a x a t i o n . So they and t h e bankers' lobbyists w e n t to work to stop t h e A m e r i c a n g o v e r n m e n t from participating in t h e crackdown on dirty money, arguing t h a t closing t a x h a v e n s in effect leads to h i g h e r t a x e s on t h e people trying to hide their money. T h e president of t h e Heritage F o u n d a t i o n spent an hour, according to The New York Times, with S e c retary of t h e Treasury Paul O ' N e i l l , T e x a s bankers pulled t h e i r strings at t h e W h i t e House, and p r e s t o ! — t h e Bush administration pulled out of t h e i n t e r n a t i o n a l campaign against tax h a v e n s . H o w about t h a t for patriotism? B e t t e r terrorists get their dirty m o n e y t h a n t a x c h e a t e r s b e prevented from hiding t h e i r money. A n d this from people w h o wrap themselves in t h e flag and sing " T h e StarSpangled B a n n e r " with gusto. H. L. M e n c k e n got it right w h e n he said t h a t w h e n you h e a r some m e n talk about their love of country, it's a sign they e x p e c t to be paid for it. B u t today's heroes are public servants. T h o s e brave firefighters and p o l i c e m e n and Port A u t h o r i t y workers and emergency rescue personnel were public employees all, most of t h e m drawing a modest middle-class i n c o m e for extremely dangerous work. T h e y c o m m a n d our imaginations n o t only because of their h e r o i c deeds but because we k n o w so many people like t h e m , people we took for granted. For o n c e , our TV screens h a v e b e e n filled with t h e modest declarations of average A m e r i c a n s c o m i n g to e a c h other's aid. I find this thrilling and sobering. It could offer a n e w beginning, a renewal of c i v i l values t h a t could leave our society stronger and m o r e t o gether t h a n ever, working on c o m m o n goals for t h e public good. In a 1 9 9 1 interview in Theater Week, t h e playwright T o n y K u s h n e r wrote:

There are moments in history when the fabric of everyday life unravels, and there is this unstable dynamism that allows for incred-

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ible social change in short periods of time. People and the world they're living in can be utterly transformed, either for the good or the bad, or some mixture of the two.

T h i s is such a m o m e n t , and it could go e i t h e r way. Here's o n e sighting. In t h e wake of S e p t e m b e r 11 there's b e e n a h e a r t e n i n g c h a n g e in h o w A m e r i c a n s view their g o v e r n m e n t . F o r t h e first time in more t h a n thirty years a majority of people say we trust t h e federal g o v e r n m e n t to do t h e right t h i n g "just about always" or at least "most of t h e t i m e . " It's as if t h e c l o c k has b e e n rolled b a c k to t h e early sixties, before V i e t n a m and W a t e r g a t e t o o k such a toll on the gross n a t i o n a l psychology. T h i s newfound h o p e for public c o l l a b o r a t i o n is based in part on h o w people view what t h e g o v e r n m e n t has d o n e in response to t h e attacks. President B u s h acted with c o m m e n d a b l e resolve and restraint in those early days. B u t this is a case where yet again t h e people are ahead of t h e politic i a n s . T h e y ' r e expressing greater faith in g o v e r n m e n t right now because t h e long-standing gap b e t w e e n our ruling elites and ordinary citizens has seemingly disappeared. To most A m e r i c a n s , g o v e r n m e n t right n o w doesn't m e a n a faceless bureaucrat or a p o l i t i c i a n auctioning access to t h e highest bidder. It m e a n s a courageous rescuer or brave soldier. Instead of representatives spending their evenings c l i n k i n g glasses with fat cats, they are out walking a m o n g t h e wounded. In W a s h i n g t o n it seemed m o m e n t a r i l y possible t h a t t h e political class h a d b e e n j o l t e d out of old habits. S o m e old partisan rivalries and arguments fell by t h e wayside as our representatives acted decisively on a fund to rebuild N e w York. A d versaries like D e n n i s Hastert and D i c k G e p h a r d t were linking arms. T h e r e was e v e n a ten-day moratorium on political fund-raisers. I was b e ginning t o b e optimistic t h a t t h e mercenary culture o f W a s h i n g t o n m i g h t finally be on its k n e e s in r e p e n t a n c e . A l a s , it was n o t to b e . T h e r e are o t h e r sightings to report. It doesn't take long for t h e wartime opportunists—the mercenaries of W a s h i n g ton, the lobbyists, lawyers, a n d political fund-raisers—to emerge from their offices on K S t r e e t to grab what they c a n for t h e i r c l i e n t s . W h i l e in N e w York we are still attending m e m o r i a l services for firemen and po-

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l i c e , w h i l e everywhere A m e r i c a n s ' c h e e k s are still stained with tears, while t h e president calls for patriotism, prayers, and piety, t h e predators of W a s h i n g t o n are up to t h e i r old tricks in t h e pursuit of private plunder at public e x p e n s e . In t h e wake of this awful tragedy wrought by terrorism, t h e y are c a s h i n g in. H o w would t h e y h o n o r t h e thousands of people w h o died in t h e attacks? H o w do t h e y propose to fight t h e long and costly c a m p a i g n A m e r i c a must now undertake against terrorists? W h y , restore t h e three-martini lunch—surely t h a t will strike fear in t h e h e a r t o f O s a m a b i n L a d e n ! You t h i n k I'm kidding, but bringing b a c k the deductible l u n c h is o n e of t h e proposals on t h e table in W a s h i n g t o n right n o w i n t h e aftermath o f 9 / 1 1 . T h e r e are m e m b e r s o f Congress w h o believe you should sacrifice in this t i m e of crisis by paying for lobbyists' long lunches. A n d cut capital gains for t h e wealthy, naturally—that's A m e r i c a ' s patriotic duty, t o o . A n d while we're at it, don't forget to e l i m i n a t e t h e corporate alternative m i n i m u m tax, e n a c t e d fifteen years ago to prevent corporations from taking so m a n y credits and deductions t h a t they owed little if any taxes. B u t don't just repeal their m i n i m u m t a x , give those corporations a refund for all t h e m i n i m u m t a x they h a v e ever b e e n assessed. You l o o k incredulous. B u t these proposals are being pushed hard in W a s h i n g t o n right n o w in an effort to e x p l o i t t h e trauma of 9 / 1 1 . W h a t else c a n A m e r i c a do to strike at t h e terrorists? W h y , slip in a special t a x break for poor G e n e r a l E l e c t r i c while everyone's distracted, and torpedo t h e r e c e n t order t o c l e a n t h e Hudson R i v e r o f P C B s . D o n ' t worry about N B C , C N B C , o r M S N B C reporting it; they're all i n t h e G E family. It's t i m e for C h u r c h i l l i a n courage, we're told. So h o w to assure t h a t future generations will l o o k b a c k a n d say, " T h i s was our finest hour"? T h a t ' s easy. G i v e c o a l producers m o r e freedom to pollute. S h o v e l generous t a x breaks to those giant energy c o m p a n i e s . O p e n t h e A l a s k a n wilderness to drilling. A n d while t h e red, white, and blue waves at halfmast o v e r t h e land of t h e free and t h e h o m e of t h e brave, give t h e pres-

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ident t h e power to discard o p e n d e b a t e and t h e rule of law c o n c e r n i n g controversial trade agreements, and set up secret tribunals to run roughshod o v e r l o c a l c o m m u n i t i e s trying to p r o t e c t their e n v i r o n m e n t and their h e a l t h . It's h a p p e n i n g as we m e e t . If I sound a little bitter about this, I am. T h e president rightly appeals every day for sacrifice. B u t to these mercenaries sacrifice is for suckers. I am angry, yes, but my sadness is greater t h a n my anger. O u r business and political class owes us b e t t e r t h a n this. T h e y ' r e on top. If ever t h e y were going to put patriotism o v e r profits, if ever t h e y were going to p r a c t i c e t h e m a g n a n i m i t y of winners, this was t h e m o m e n t . To hide n o w b e h i n d t h e flag while ripping off a country in crisis fatally separates t h e m from t h e c o m m o n course o f A m e r i c a n life. Understandably, in t h e hours after t h e attacks many e n v i r o n m e n t a l organizations stepped down from aggressively pressing their issues. G r e e n p e a c e c a n c e l e d its thirtieth-anniversary c e l e b r a t i o n . T h e S i e r r a C l u b stopped all advertising, p h o n e banks, a n d mailing. T h e E n v i r o n m e n t a l W o r k i n g G r o u p postponed a n a t i o n a l report on c h l o r i n a t i o n in drinking water. T h a t was t h e proper way to observe a period of mourning. B u t t h e polluters and t h e i r p o l i t i c a l cronies a c c e p t e d n o such c o n straints. Just o n e day after t h e attack, o n e day i n t o t h e maelstrom of h o r ror, loss, and grief, many senators called for prompt c o n s i d e r a t i o n of t h e president's proposal to subsidize t h e country's largest and richest energy c o m p a n i e s . W h i l e A m e r i c a was mourning they were marauding. O n e congressman e v e n suggested t h a t ecoterrorists m i g h t be b e h i n d t h e attacks. A n d with t h a t smear h e and his k i n d w e n t o n t h e offensive i n Congress, a t t e m p t i n g to a t t a c h to a defense bill massive subsidies for t h e oil, c o a l , gas, and n u c l e a r c o m p a n i e s . To a defense bill! W h a t an insult to t h e sacrifice of our m e n a n d w o m e n in uniform! To pile corporate welfare totaling billions of dollars o n t o a defense bill in an e m e r g e n c y like this is repugnant to t h e nostrils a n d a scandal against democracy. T h e y ' r e c o u n t i n g on patriotism to distract you from t h e i r plunder.

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T h e y ' r e c o u n t i n g on you to stand at a t t e n t i o n with your h a n d over your heart, pledging allegiance to t h e flag, while they p i c k your p o c k e t ! Let's face it: t h e predators of t h e R e p u b l i c present citizens with no options but t o c l i m b b a c k i n t h e ring. W e are i n w h a t educators c a l l " a t e a c h a b l e m o m e n t . " A n d we'll lose it if we roll over. D e m o c r a c y wasn't c a n c e l e d o n S e p t e m b e r 1 1 , but d e m o c r a c y won't survive i f citizens turn i n t o lemmings. Yes, t h e president is our c o m m a n d e r in chief, and in h u n t i n g down t h e terrorists in A f g h a n i s t a n w h o a t t a c k e d us, he deserves our support. B u t we are n o t t h e president's m i n i o n s . If in t h e n a m e of t h e war on terrorism President B u s h hands t h e state over to t h e most powerful interests c i r c l i n g W a s h i n g t o n , it's every patriot's duty to j o i n t h e loyal opposition. If t h e mercenaries try to e x p l o i t A m e r i c a ' s good faith to grab what they wouldn't get through fairly in p e a c e t i m e , t h e disloyalty will n o t be our dissent but our subservience. T h e greatest sedition would be our s i l e n c e . Yes, there's a fight going o n — a g a i n s t terrorists abroad, but just as certainly there's a fight going on h e r e at h o m e , to decide t h e kind of c o u n t r y this will be during t h e war on terrorism. During two r e c e n t trips to W a s h i n g t o n I heard people talking mostly about e c o n o m i c stimulus and t h e n a t i o n a l security. H o w do we renew our e c o n o m y and safeguard our n a t i o n ? T h o s e are t h e issues you are h e r e to address, and you are uniquely equipped to address t h e m with powerful leadership and persuasive argument. If you want to fight for t h e e n v i r o n m e n t , don't hug a tree, hug an e c o n o m i s t . Hug t h e e c o n o m i s t w h o tells you t h a t fossil fuels are n o t o n l y t h e third most heavily subsidized e c o n o m i c sector after road transportat i o n and agriculture but t h a t they also promote vast inefficiencies. Hug t h e e c o n o m i s t w h o tells you t h a t t h e most efficient i n v e s t m e n t of a dollar is n o t in fossil fuels but in renewable energy sources t h a t n o t only provide n e w j o b s b u t c o s t less o v e r t i m e . Hug t h e e c o n o m i s t w h o tells you t h a t t h e price system matters; it's potentially t h e most p o t e n t tool of all for c r e a t i n g social c h a n g e . L o o k what California did this summer in responding to its r e c e n t energy crisis with a price structure t h a t rewards

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those w h o c o n s e r v e and punishes those w h o don't. Californians cut t h e i r e l e c t r i c c o n s u m p t i o n by up to 15 percent. Do we want to send t h e terrorists a message? Go for c o n s e r v a t i o n . Go for c l e a n , h o m e g r o w n energy. A n d go for public h e a l t h . If we reduce emissions from fossil fuel, we will c u t t h e rate of asthma a m o n g children. H e a l t h i e r c h i l d r e n and a h e a l t h i e r e c o n o m y — h o w about t h a t as a response to t h e terrorists? As for n a t i o n a l security, well, it's t i m e to expose t h e energy plan b e fore Congress for t h e dinosaur it is. E v e r y o n e knows A m e r i c a needs to reduce our r e l i a n c e on fossil fuel. B u t this energy plan is more of t h e same: m o t e subsidies for t h e rich, more pollution, more waste, more inefficiency. G e t t h e message out. S t a r t with J o h n Adams's wake-up call. T h e h e a d o f t h e Natural R e sources Defense C o u n c i l says t h e terrorist attacks spell out in frightful terms t h a t A m e r i c a ' s u n c h e c k e d c o n s u m p t i o n o f oil has b e c o m e our A c h i l l e s ' h e e l . It constrains our military options in t h e face of terror. It leaves our e c o n o m y dangerously vulnerable to price shocks. It invites e n v i r o n m e n t a l degradation, e c o l o g i c a l disasters, and potentially c a t a strophic c l i m a t e c h a n g e . Go to T o m P a i n e . c o m a n d you will find t h e two simple facts we n e e d to get to t h e A m e r i c a n people: first, t h e m o n e y we pay at t h e gasoline pump helps prop up o i l - r i c h sponsors of terrorism like S a d d a m Hussein and M u a m m a r al-Qaddafi; and s e c o n d , a big reason we spend so m u c h m o n e y policing t h e Middle E a s t — $ 3 0 b i l l i o n every year, by o n e r e c k o n ing—has t o d o with our d e p e n d e n c e o n t h e oil there. T h e single most important t h i n g e n v i r o n m e n t a l i s t s c a n do to ensure A m e r i c a ' s n a t i o n a l security is to fight to reduce our nation's d e p e n d e n c e on oil, w h e t h e r imported or d o m e s t i c . You see t h e magnitude of t h e c h a l l e n g e . You understand t h e work t h a t we must do. It's why you must n o t lose heart. Your adversaries will c a l l you unpatriotic for speaking t h e truth w h e n conformity reigns. Ideologues will smear you for c h a l l e n g i n g their spin. M a i n s t r e a m media will ignore you, and t h o s e gasbags o n c a b l e T V and t h e radio t a l k shows will

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ridicule and vilify you. B u t I urge you to hold to these words: "In t h e course of fighting t h e present fire, we must n o t a b a n d o n our efforts to create fire-resistant structures of t h e future." T h o s e words were written by t h e activist R a n d y K e h l e r m o r e t h a n t e n years ago, as A m e r i c a geared up to fight t h e G u l f W a r . T h e y ring as true today. T h o s e fire-resistant structures must include an electoral system that is no longer d o m i n a t e d by Big M o n e y , where t h e v o i c e s and problems of average people are attended on a fair and equal basis. T h e y must include an energy system t h a t is m o r e sustainable and less dangerous. A n d they must include a press t h a t takes its responsibility to inform us as seriously as its interest in e n t e r t a i n i n g us. My o w n personal response to O s a m a b i n L a d e n is n o t grand, or rousing, or dramatic. A l l I k n o w to do is to keep practicing as best I c a n t h e craft t h a t has b e e n my calling for most of my adult life. My colleagues and I h a v e rededicated ourselves to t h e production of several environm e n t a l reports t h a t were in progress before S e p t e m b e r 1 1 . As a result of our two specials this year—Trade Secrets and Earth on Edge—PBS is asking all of public television's production teams to focus on t h e environm e n t for two weeks around E a r t h Day n e x t April. O u r documentaries will a n c h o r t h a t endeavor. O n e will report on h o w an obscure provision i n t h e N o r t h A m e r i c a n Free Trade A g r e e m e n t c a n turn t h e rule o f law upside down and undermine a community's h e a l t h and e n v i r o n m e n t . O u r four-part series America's First River looks at h o w t h e Hudson R i v e r shaped A m e r i c a ' s c o n s e r v a t i o n m o v e m e n t a century ago and, m o r e recently, t h e m o d e r n e n v i r o n m e n t a l m o v e m e n t . W e ' r e producing a n o t h e r documentary on t h e search for alternative energy sources, and a n o t h e r on children and t h e e n v i r o n m e n t — t h e questions scientists, researchers, and pediatricians are asking about children's vulnerability to hazards in the environment. W h a t does O s a m a bin L a d e n h a v e t o d o with these? H e has given me n o t o n e but three thousand and m o r e reasons for journalism to signify on issues t h a t matter. I began this talk with t h e n a m e s of some of t h e m — t h e victims w h o died on S e p t e m b e r 1 1 . I did so because I n e v e r

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want to forget the h u m a n i t y lost in the horror. I n e v e r want to forget t h e e-mail sent by a d o o m e d employee in t h e W o r l d Trade C e n t e r w h o , j u s t before his life was over, wrote his c o m r a d e : " T h a n k you for being such a great friend." I n e v e r want to forget t h e m a n and w o m a n holding hands as t h e y leaped t o g e t h e r to t h e i r death. I n e v e r w a n t to forget t h o s e firem e n w h o just kept going up; they just kept going up. A n d I n e v e r w a n t to forget t h a t t h e very worst of w h i c h h u m a n beings are c a p a b l e c a n bring out t h e very best. In response to t h e sneak a t t a c k on Pearl Harbor, my parents' genera t i o n waged and w o n a long war, t h e n c a m e h o m e to establish a m o r e prosperous and just A m e r i c a . We will follow in their footsteps if we rise to t h e spiritual and moral c h a l l e n g e o f 9 / 1 1 . M i c h a e l B e r e n b a u m has defined t h a t c h a l l e n g e for m e . A s president o f t h e Survivors o f t h e S h o a h Visual History Foundation, he worked with people w h o escaped t h e H o l o c a u s t . Here's w h a t he says:

T h e question is what to do with the very fact of survival. Over time survivors will be able to answer that question not by a statement about the past but by what they do with the future. Because they have faced death, many will have learned what is more important: life itself, love, family, community. T h e simple things we have all taken for granted will bear witness to that reality. T h e survivors will not be defined by the lives they have led until now but by the lives that they will lead from now on. For the experience of near death to have ultimate meaning, it must take shape in how one rebuilds from the ashes. Such for the individual; so, too, for the nation.

We are survivors, you and I. We will be defined n o t by t h e lives we led until S e p t e m b e r 1 1 , but by t h e lives we will lead from n o w on. S o g o h o m e a n d m a k e t h e best grants you've ever made. A n d t h e b i g g e s t — t i m e is t o o precious to p i n c h pennies. B a c k t h e most c o m m i t -

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ted and courageous people a n d b a c k t h e m with media to spread their message. S t i c k your own n e c k out. L e t your work be charged with passion and your life with a mission. F o r w h e n all is said and d o n e , t h e most important grant you'll ever m a k e is t h e gift of yourself to t h e work at hand.

18. Council

of

AMERICA

the

Great

City

Fall

schools

with

Schools

Fiftieth

27,

2006

being cheated of their revolutionary

high concentrations

Anniversary

Conference

O C T O B E R

Our children are

101

heritage.

of poor and minority

children

Go

to

urban

and you

can

understand what it must have meant to Native Americans

to be segregated on

reservations—isolated,

participate

powerless,

shorn

of any

ing your destiny in the larger world.

In

tennial

and

of

the

American

bicentennial of the

Revolution,

Constitution,

and steadily

ing documentaries about education, realized how little we

chance

in

shap-

again

in

1986,

over

the

last decade while mak-

kids in peril,

teach children the

to

1976, filming a series on the bicenfilming for

the

and life in the inner city,

I

true story of America—how the out-

come of that story is in their hands, if only they are charged to claim it. Their imaginations our history

are disenfranchised. can

democracy

more

they

written

are

be

seen

as

They do not know a

long journey

the

Declaration

of

the whole course

of different

vibrant and America more just. into

that

No

one

Independence:

struggles has

told

created

of

to

make

them

that

equal,

in

value,

as citizens,

amendments hibition, democracy. the own.

before

BILL

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the

law.

to the Constitution,

three

with

the

MOYERS

They are not

told that of the

one deals with the judiciary,

presidency,

and

twenty

with

twenty-six

two with Pro-

some

extension

of

So they do not know that every generation must struggle to make

Constitution

more

consonant

with

the

No one has read them Thomas

Declaration—to

claim

it

as

their

Wolfe:

I believe that we are lost here in America, but I believe we shall be found . . . I think the true discovery of America is before us. I think the true fulfillment of our spirit, of our people, of our mighty and immortal land, is yet to come. I think the true discovery of our democracy is still before us.

Just about everywhere think

of themselves

we

turn

narrowly

as

sumers—everything but citizens. a different message. ban

the

next generation is

producers,

The

I have no solutions

schools—achievement

scores,

but I know we must change

to

spectators,

especially

and

con-

to

hear

need

disabilities,

teacher

shortages—

the curriculum in order to change the metaphor

Who will teach them that they, Great City

too, Schools,

to its rightful sons

and daughters.

can mount a Boston Tea Party? representing sixty-six

large

city

districts, asked me to give the keynote address at its annual conference, yes,

to

the particular challenges facing ur-

learning

of our children from orphans of democracy the Council of the

employees,

least among us

being indoctrinated

When school I said

knowing that in the audience 1 might find more than a few Paul Reveres,

poised to teach their students the words of a ballad popular in

Great nature's

law inspires,

All freeborn souls While

common

1776:

unite,

interest fires

Us to defend our rights.

* * *

W h e n we talk about "urban e d u c a t i o n " we are talking about t h e poorest and most vulnerable children in A m e r i c a — k i d s for w h o m "at risk" has c o m e to describe their fate and n o t simply their circumstances. T h e i r e d u c a t i o n should be t h e c e n t e r p i e c e of a great and diverse

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A m e r i c a made stronger by equality and shared prosperity. It has instead b e c o m e t h e e p i t o m e of public n e g l e c t , perpetuated by a class divide so permeated b y race t h a t i t m o c k s t h e b e d r o c k principles o f t h e A m e r i c a n promise. G e o r g e B e r n a r d S h a w said t h e m a r k of a truly educated person is to be deeply moved by statistics. If so, A m e r i c a ' s governing class should be k n o c k e d off t h e i r feet b y t h e fact t h a t more t h a n 7 0 p e r c e n t o f b l a c k children are now attending schools t h a t are overwhelmingly n o n w h i t e . In 1 9 8 0 t h a t figure was 63 p e r c e n t . L a t i n o students are e v e n m o r e isolated. Brown v. Board of Education's "all deliberate speed" of 1 9 5 4 has bec o m e slow m o t i o n in reverse. In R i c h a r d Kahlenberg's words, " W i t h t h e law in retreat, geography takes c o m m a n d . " N o t just t h e kids suffer. A n a t i o n t h a t devalues poor c h i l d r e n also d e m e a n s their teachers. For t h e life of me I c a n n o t fathom why we e x p e c t so m u c h from teachers and provide t h e m so little in return. In 1 9 4 0 , t h e average pay of a male t e a c h e r was actually 3 . 6 p e r c e n t more t h a n what o t h e r college-educated m e n earned. Today it is 60 p e r c e n t lower. W o m e n teachers n o w earn 1 6 p e r c e n t less t h a n o t h e r college-educated w o m e n . T h i s bewilders m e . C h i l d r e n aren't b o r n lawyers, corporate e x ecutives, engineers, and doctors. T h e i r a c h i e v e m e n t s bear t h e imprint o f t h e i r teachers. T h e r e was n o P l a t o w i t h o u t S o c r a t e s , and n o J o h n C o l t r a n e without M i l e s Davis. Is there a n y o n e h e r e whose p a t h was n o t marked by t h e inspiration of some t e a c h e r ? Mary S u l l i v a n , Bessie Bryant, Miss W h i t e , t h e Brotze sisters, Inez H u g h e s — I c a n n o t imagine my life without t h e m . T h e i r classrooms were my world, and e a c h o n e of t h e m kept enlarging it. Yet teachers n o w are e x p e c t e d to staff t h e p e r m a n e n t e m e r g e n c y rooms of our country's dysfunctional social order. T h e y are e x p e c t e d to c o m p e n s a t e for what families, c o m m u n i t i e s , and culture fail to do. L i k e our soldiers in Iraq, they are s e n t into urban c o m b a t zones, on impossible missions under inhospitable c o n d i t i o n s , and t h e n a b a n d o n e d by politicians and policy makers w h o h a v e already cut and run, leaving teachers on their own. O n e morning I opened The New York Times to read t h a t tuition at

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M a n h a t t a n ' s e l i t e private schools h a d r e a c h e d $ 2 6 , 0 0 0 a year, starting in kindergarten. On t h a t same page was a n o t h e r story about a s c h o o l in M o u n t V e r n o n , just across t h e city line from t h e B r o n x , where 97 perc e n t o f t h e students are b l a c k and 9 0 p e r c e n t o f those are s o impoverished t h e y are eligible for free lunches. During B l a c k History M o n t h , a s i x t h grader researching L a n g s t o n Hughes could n o t find a single b o o k by Hughes in t h e library. T h i s wasn't an oversight: there were virtually no books relevant to b l a c k history in t h a t library. M o s t of t h e books on t h e shelves dated b a c k to t h e 1 9 5 0 s and 1 9 6 0 s . A child's primer on work begins with a youngster learning to be a telegraph delivery boy! It has t a k e n c o n s t a n t litigation to bring to light this c h r o n i c n e g l e c t o f basic learning i n poor c o m m u n i t i e s . I n 1 9 9 9 , t h e D e p a r t m e n t o f Edu c a t i o n estimated t h a t $ 1 2 7 b i l l i o n were n e e d e d t o bring "the nation's s c h o o l facilities i n t o good overall c o n d i t i o n . " T h e N a t i o n a l E d u c a t i o n A s s o c i a t i o n puts t h e figure a t $ 2 6 8 billion. N o w t h e N e w York S t a t e C o u r t of Appeals has ruled t h a t the N e w York C i t y s c h o o l system a l o n e is due approximately $ 1 5 b i l l i o n "to provide students with their c o n s t i tutional right to t h e opportunity to r e c e i v e a sound basic e d u c a t i o n . " Surely this inexcusable u n d e r i n v e s t m e n t is o n e significant reason why, despite a n a t i o n a l gross domestic product ( G D P ) h i g h e r t h a n virtually all of Europe c o m b i n e d , A m e r i c a n students as a whole fare so poorly c o m p a r e d to their counterparts in o t h e r advanced countries. In 2 0 0 3 , t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s ranked twenty-fourth out o f t w e n t y - n i n e adv a n c e d countries i n c o m b i n e d m a t h e m a t i c a l literacy, according t o t h e Programme for I n t e r n a t i o n a l S t u d e n t Assessment. A b e t t e r ranking in c o m b i n e d reading literacy—fifteenth out of twenty-seven O r g a n i s a t i o n for E c o n o m i c C o - o p e r a t i o n and D e v e l o p m e n t countries i n 2 0 0 0 — might be c o u n t e d a success w h e n c o m p a r e d to our abysmal m a t h perform a n c e , but this c a n hardly be comforting if we consider t h a t students are performing significantly b e t t e r in countries without A m e r i c a ' s vast wealth. T h e n e g l e c t of urban e d u c a t i o n — a capital moral offense in its o w n right—is but a symptom of what is h a p p e n i n g in A m e r i c a . We are retreating from our social c o m p a c t all down the l i n e .

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O u r country is falling apart. Literally. In 2 0 0 5 t h e A m e r i c a n S o c i e t y of C i v i l Engineers issued a report on our crumbling infrastructure. T h e engineers said we are "failing to m a i n t a i n e v e n substandard c o n d i t i o n s " in our highway system—with significant e c o n o m i c effects. Poor road c o n d i t i o n s cost motorists $ 5 4 billion a year in repairs and operating costs, and t h e 3.5 b i l l i o n hours per year A m e r i c a n s spend stuck in traffic costs t h e e c o n o m y more t h a n $ 6 7 billion annually in lost productivity and wasted fuel. T h e report said t h e country's power grid is likewise "in urgent n e e d of modernization" as m a i n t e n a n c e spending on transmission facilities has d e c l i n e d 1 p e r c e n t annually since 1 9 9 2 , while growth in demand has risen 2 . 4 p e r c e n t annually over t h e same period. In 2 0 0 2 , t h e Departm e n t of Energy warned t h a t system " b o t t l e n e c k s " due to transmission constraints were adding to c o n s u m e r costs and t h r e a t e n i n g blackouts. In August of 2 0 0 3 a b l a c k o u t b l a n k e t e d t h e Midwest and N o r t h e a s t , leaving fifty million people in t h e dark, some for days, costing billions of dollars in lost c o m m e r c e and production. E v e n our much-touted t e c h n o l o g i c a l superiority is in doubt. As my colleagues and I reported on my most r e c e n t P B S special, The Net at Risk, A s i a n and European countries h a v e raced ahead of us in broadband speed—pushing A m e r i c a from fourth to twelfth place on t h e informat i o n superhighway. T h e Japanese, for e x a m p l e , h a v e near-universal a c cess to high-speed broadband c o n n e c t i o n s , averaging s i x t e e n times faster t h a n U . S . c o n n e c t i o n s at a m u c h lower cost. C o n n e c t t h e dots: n e g l e c t e d schools, crumbling roads, p e r m a n e n t e n v i r o n m e n t a l "dead zones," inadequate emergency systems, understaffed hospitals, library cutbacks, the l a c k of affordable housing, i n c o m p e t e n t g o v e r n m e n t agencies ( w h e t h e r F E M A o r state bureaucracies charged with protecting helpless c h i l d r e n ) — t h e s e are characteristic features of our public sector today. Partly it's about money; little n o t i c e d amid all t h e c o n c e r n about growing deficits and e n t i t l e m e n t spending is this fact: nondefense discretionary spending d e c l i n e d 3 8 p e r c e n t b e tween 1 9 8 0 and 1 9 9 9 as a share of G D P . A c c o r d i n g to e c o n o m i s t s Barry B l u e s t o n e and B e n n e t t Harrison, federal i n v e s t m e n t in nondefense

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capacities, including research and education, plummeted—from m o r e t h a n 2.5 p e r c e n t of G D P in t h e 1 9 8 0 s to only 1.5 p e r c e n t in t h e late 1990s. A l l this c o m e s at a p o i n t w h e n A m e r i c a n workers are losing ground in t h e marketplace as c h e a p e r labor overseas b e c o m e s increasingly available through globalization, trade agreements, foreign i n v e s t m e n t , and t e c h n o l o g i c a l outsourcing. R u b t h e crystal ball: in t h e n e x t few decades, w h e n t h e huge liabilities start c o m i n g due from S o c i a l S e c u r i t y and M e d i c a r e , there will be a dogfight for public needs like education, highways, disaster relief, social services, and n a t i o n a l h e a l t h care. S m a l l wonder t h a t t h e W a l l S t r e e t investor P e t e Peterson, a lifelong R e p u b l i c a n w h o served as President N i x o n ' s c o m m e r c e secretary, says our children's future is being ruined by a reckless fiscal "theology." T h e o l o g y asserts propositions t h a t are believed w h e t h e r or n o t they m e e t t h e test of reality. N o t only do our governing elites a c t as if there's no tomorrow, but they b e h a v e as if there is no reality. A l a s , they won't be around to feel our grandchildren's pain. In his r e c e n t book, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, t h e Pulitzer Prize-winning anthropologist Jared D i a m o n d writes about h o w governing elites throughout history isolate and delude themselves until it is t o o late. He reminds us t h a t t h e c h a n g e people inflict on t h e i r e n v i r o n m e n t was o n e of t h e m a i n factors in t h e decline of earlier societies. For e x a m p l e : t h e M a y a n natives o n t h e Y u c a t a n peninsula w h o suffered as their forests disappeared, t h e i r soil eroded, and their water supply deteriorated. C h r o n i c warfare made matters worse as they e x hausted dwindling resources. A l t h o u g h M a y a n kings could see their forests vanishing and their hills eroding, they were able to insulate themselves from t h e rest of society. By e x t r a c t i n g wealth from c o m m o n ers, they could r e m a i n well-fed while everyone else was slowly starving. Realizing t o o late t h a t they could n o t reverse their deteriorating e n v i ronment, they b e c a m e casualties of t h e i r own privilege. A n y society c o n t a i n s a built-in blueprint for failure, D i a m o n d warns, if elites insulate themselves from the c o n s e q u e n c e s of their decisions. He

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goes o n t o describe a n A m e r i c a i n w h i c h elites h a v e c o c o o n e d t h e m selves in gated c o m m u n i t i e s , guarded by private security patrols and filled with people w h o drink bottled water, depend on private pensions, and send t h e i r c h i l d r e n to private schools. Gradually t h e y lose t h e i r m o t i v a t i o n to support t h e p o l i c e force, t h e municipal water supply, social security, and public schools. T h e isolation o f our schools, t h e crumbling o f our infrastructure, and t h e reckless disregard of our fiscal affairs signal a retreat from t h e social c o m p a c t t h a t made A m e r i c a unique a m o n g n a t i o n s . O u r culture o f d e m o c r a c y derived from t h e rooted e x p e r i e n c e of shared values, c o m m o n dreams, and mutual aspirations t h a t are proclaimed in t h e most disregarded s e c t i o n in t h e C o n s t i t u t i o n — t h e p r e a m b l e — w h i c h a n n o u n c e s a moral c o n t r a c t a m o n g " W e t h e People of t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s . " Yes, I know: w h e n those words were written " W e t h e P e o p l e " didn't include slaves, or w o m e n , or exploited workers, or u n w e l c o m e immigrants. B u t t h e very idea of it, t h e vision of it, t h e p o t e n t i a l power of " W e t h e P e o ple" let loose by t h e A m e r i c a n R e v o l u t i o n was to c h a n g e t h e consciousness of t h e world. H o w radical it was to imagine citizens as political equals sharing in t h e c o n s e n t required for self-government and in t h e great e x p e r i m e n t o f n a t i o n building. A b r a h a m L i n c o l n understood this. H e recognized t h a t freedom requires an e c o n o m i c system in w h i c h individuals c a n enjoy t h e fruits of their labor, and t h a t t h e j o b of g o v e r n m e n t was to keep t h e playing field level. L i n c o l n fought t o preserve t h e U n i o n because h e k n e w governm e n t " o f t h e people, b y t h e people, and for t h e people" rested o n e c o n o m i c opportunity, social mobility, a n d shared prosperity. A m e r i c a ' s great strength, in his eyes, derived from a unique and b a l a n c e d b l e n d of d e m o c r a c y and capitalism, and as t h e president of t h e R o c k e f e l l e r B r o t h e r s Fund, S t e p h e n Heinz, recently put it, "It is hard to imagine e i t h e r d e m o c r a c y or capitalism functioning at peak performance without t h e other." B u t look around: t h e great ideals of t h e A m e r i c a n R e v o l u t i o n as articulated in t h e preamble to t h e C o n s t i t u t i o n are being sacrificed to t h e Gospel of Wealth.

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T h e e v i d e n c e abounds. Despite c o n t i n u e d growth i n t h e economy, real median household i n c o m e d e c l i n e d b e t w e e n 2 0 0 0 and 2 0 0 4 . B e tween 1 9 8 0 and 2 0 0 4 , real wages in manufacturing fell 1 p e r c e n t while t h e real i n c o m e of t h e richest 1 p e r c e n t rose by 1 3 5 p e r c e n t . In 1 9 7 6 t h e top 1 p e r c e n t of A m e r i c a n s owned 22 p e r c e n t of our total wealth. T o day, t h e top 1 p e r c e n t controls 38 p e r c e n t of our total wealth. In 1 9 6 0 t h e gap i n terms o f wealth b e t w e e n t h e top 2 0 p e r c e n t and t h e b o t t o m 20 p e r c e n t was thirtyfold. N o w it is seventy-five-fold. In 1 9 9 6 there were just t h i r t e e n billionaires i n A m e r i c a . N o w there are m o r e t h a n o n e thousand. A c c o r d i n g t o o n e study, t h e c o m b i n e d wealth o f A m e r i c a n m i l l i o n a i r e s — $ 3 0 trillion—more t h a n equals t h e aggregated G D P o f t h e European U n i o n , J a p a n , C h i n a , Russia, and Brazil. S u c h c o n c e n t r a t i o n s of wealth would be far less of an issue if t h e rest o f society were benefiting proportionately. B u t that's n o t t h e case. T h e Census Bureau reports t h a t A m e r i c a n s h a v e b e c o m e progressively less likely to advance up t h e s o c i o e c o n o m i c ladder. O n e study c i t e d by S t e p h e n Heinz concludes, " T h e r i c h are likely t o r e m a i n rich and t h e poor are likely to remain poor." A r i s t o t l e thought injustice resulted from pleonexia, literally, "having more." A class of people having more t h a n their share of t h e c o m m o n wealth was t h e characteristic feature of an unjust society. P l a t o thought t h a t t h e c o m m o n good required a ratio of only five to o n e b e t w e e n t h e richest and poorest members of a society. E v e n J. P. M o r g a n thought bosses should only get twenty times m o r e t h a n their workers, at most. H o w quaint: i n 2 0 0 5 t h e average C E O earned 2 6 2 times w h a t t h e average worker got. As hard as it is to believe, t h e average real weekly wage for bluecollar workers, adjusted for rising costs of living, was about $ 2 7 8 a week in 2 0 0 4 ( i n c o n s t a n t 1 9 8 2 dollars). In 1 9 7 2 , it was $ 3 3 2 a week. T h a t ' s n o t a slight downward trend—it's a significant and steady d e c l i n e . So what of t h e argument t h a t t h e rising tide lifts all boats? W h a t we are seeing today is closer to t h e old view of class struggle. A r e c e n t G o l d m a n S a c h s report says it outright: " T h e most important contributor to h i g h e r

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profit margins o v e r t h e past five years has b e e n a d e c l i n e in labor's share of national income." Yet in a country where t h e press n o w represents t h e d o m i n a n t class through a n u n p r e c e d e n t e d c o n c e n t r a t i o n o f media ownership, instead o f this remarkable divergence of profits and wages making news, what grabs t h e headlines is t h e daily m o m e n t u m of t h e s t o c k market. Rarely does t h e corporate media n o t e t h a t t h e share o f G D P going t o wages i s n o w a t t h e lowest p o i n t since 1 9 4 7 , w h e n t h e g o v e r n m e n t started measuring things. T h o s e w h o l o o k fondly on "market discipline" t h a t keeps wages down ignore t h e deep distortions built i n t o a system in w h i c h capital is highly organized and workers are n o t . So it is t h a t to m a k e ends m e e t in t h e face of stagnant or d e c l i n i n g i n c o m e s , regular A m e r i c a n s h a v e g o n e deeper and deeper in d e b t — w i t h credit card debt nearly tripling since 1 9 8 9 . P o o r kids are dropping out of h i g h s c h o o l and college at alarming rates. T h e middle class and working poor h a v e b e e n h i t hard by a housing squeeze. Forty-five m i l l i o n or more A m e r i c a n s — e i g h t out o f t e n o f t h e m i n working families—are without h e a l t h insurance. " T h e strain o n working people," says t h e e c o n o m i s t Jeffrey M a d r i c k , "has b e c o m e significant. W o r k i n g families and t h e poor are losing ground under e c o n o m i c pressures t h a t deeply affect household stability, family dynamics, social mobility, political participation, and civic life." T h e A m e r i c a n d r e a m — o n life support. T h i s wasn't m e a n t to b e . A m e r i c a was n o t intended to be a country where t h e w i n n e r takes all. O u r system o f c h e c k s and b a l a n c e s — r e a d t h e Federalist Papers—was m e a n t to k e e p an equilibrium in h o w power works and for w h o m . As M a d r i c k reminds us, because equitable access to public resources is t h e lifeblood of democracy, A m e r i c a n s made primary s c h o o l i n g free to all. B e c a u s e everyone deserves a s e c o n d c h a n c e , debtors—especially t h e relatively p o o r — w e r e p r o t e c t e d by state law against r i c h creditors. C h a r t e r s to establish corporations were n o t restricted t o elites. G o v e r n m e n t encouraged A m e r i c a n s t o own t h e i r o w n p i e c e of land, a n d e v e n supported squatters' rights. In my lifetime, equal

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access to opportunity began to materialize for millions of us, especially i n t h e period following W o r l d W a r II, w h e n t h e r i s i n g tide o f our e c o n omy began to lift all boats m o r e or less equally. T h e i n c o m e s of t h e bott o m 80 p e r c e n t grew faster t h a n t h e i n c o m e s of t h e top 1 p e r c e n t , and those at t h e b o t t o m grew most rapidly of all. A m e r i c a was indeed b e c o m i n g a shared project. I don't n e e d to tell you t h a t a profound transformation is occurring in A m e r i c a . A n d it's m a n - m a d e . O v e r t h e last thirty years a well-funded and closely coordinated c o a l i t i o n of corporate elites, power-hungry preachers, and hard-line ideologues has m o u n t e d an aggressive drive to dismantle t h e public foundations and philosophy of shared prosperity and fairness in A m e r i c a . It's all right there in such essential reading as W i l l i a m S i m o n ' s A Time for Truth. He argued t h a t "funds generated by business" would h a v e to "rush by multimillions" into conservative causes to uproot t h e institutions and t h e " h e r e t i c a l " morality o f t h e N e w D e a l . A n " a l l i a n c e " b e t w e e n right-wing leaders and " m e n of a c t i o n in t h e capitalist world" must m o u n t a "veritable crusade" against everything brought forth by t h e long struggle for a progressive A m e r i c a . R e a d i n g right out of t h e new reactionary playbook, t h e business press somberly concluded t h a t "some people will obviously h a v e to do with l e s s . . . It will be a bitter pill for m a n y A m e r i c a n s to swallow t h e idea of doing with less so t h a t big business c a n h a v e more." T h e y succeeded b e y o n d e x p e c t a t i o n s . Instead of a level playing field, g o v e r n m e n t now favors t h e powerful and privileged. Public institutions, laws and regulations, t h e ideas, norms, and beliefs w h i c h aimed to p r o t e c t t h e c o m m o n good and h e l p e d to create A m e r i c a ' s i c o n i c middle class are n o w greatly w e a k e n e d and increasingly vulnerable to attack. T h e N o b e l laureate e c o n o m i s t R o b e r t S o l o w sums i t u p succinctly. W h a t it's all about, he says, "is t h e redistribution of w e a l t h in favor of t h e wealthy and of power in favor of t h e powerful." W a l k i n g out o f U n i o n S t a t i o n i n W a s h i n g t o n t h e o t h e r day toward t h e huge dome of t h e C a p i t o l , I was struck by t h e realization t h a t there's n o t a stone in t h a t building t h a t isn't owned by t h e people w h o make

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t h e big c o n t r i b u t i o n s . T h e y o w n b o t h ends o f P e n n s y l v a n i a A v e n u e l o c k , stock, and barrel. T h e simple proposition o f t h e c o m m o n good t h a t m i g h t b a l a n c e t h e influence o f organized wealth w i t h t h e interests o f ordinary p e o p l e — t h e most basic assumption of all political t e a c h i n g s i n c e a n c i e n t G r e e c e — i s being written out o f W a s h i n g t o n life. Here's an e x a m p l e of t h e difference it makes, reported by t h e t a x journalist David C a y J o h n s t o n . Maritza R e y e s c l e a n s houses in East Los A n g e l e s . S h e scrubs toilets and mops floors for about $ 7 , 0 0 0 a year. S h e is also a liar and a fraud, if you b e l i e v e t h e I R S after agents audited h e r t a x returns. T h e y didn't find unreported i n c o m e or mysterious deductions on h e r returns; n o , they found an address they t h o u g h t made h e r ineligible to c l a i m an E a r n e d I n c o m e T a x Credit. S h e was ordered to return several years' credits, equal to nearly a year's worth of h e r wages. T h e Earned I n c o m e T a x C r e d i t is for t h e working poor, mainly t h o s e with children. First e n a c t e d in 1 9 7 5 , praised by R o n a l d R e a g a n and significantly expanded under President C l i n t o n , it helps lift working-poor families out of poverty by reducing their i n c o m e taxes below zero and thus supplying a refund. It is essentially a form of wage support. W i t h o u t it we would h a v e many millions more in poverty today. B u t after C l i n t o n expanded t h e credit, t h e self-styled revolutionaries w h o t o o k over Congress in 1 9 9 4 started to a t t a c k it as "backdoor welfare," or, as O k l a h o m a senator D o n N i c k l e s put it, as an " i n c o m e redistribution program." To save it, C l i n t o n c u t a deal with t h e R e p u b licans t h a t gave t h e m m o t e t h a n $ 1 0 0 m i l l i o n a year for I R S audits o f people w h o file for t h e credit. It was hard for t h e radicals to repeal a t a x policy t h a t rewarded work w h e n they were trying to abolish welfare for rewarding i n d o l e n c e . So they c h a n g e d t h e i r drumbeat to fraud and dec e i t , m a k i n g a c o t t a g e industry of a t t a c k i n g t h e credit as a h a v e n for t a x cheats. T h e I R S said R e y e s was c h e a t i n g because she had an address t h a t made it appear she lived with h e r husband. In fact, they were separated and she lived in a c o t t a g e at t h e b a c k of his lot with their younger s o n — probably o n e step away from homelessness. U n d e r t h e law, she is eligi-

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b l e for t h e E a r n e d I n c o m e T a x C r e d i t as a single "head of h o u s e h o l d " with children, but t h e I R S set out to prove t h a t she was really living h i g h off t h e hog under h e r husband's r o o f and her head-of-household filing was a charade designed to bilk t h e g o v e r n m e n t . B u t w h e n t h e t a x court judge c a m e t o Los A n g e l e s i n 2 0 0 0 , I R S lawyers h a d no e v i d e n c e to disprove Reyes's claims t h a t she was h e a d of a separate h o u s e h o l d on h e r husband's lot. A student from C h a p m a n U n i versity Law S c h o o l helped h e r prevail before t h e t a x judge, n o t i n g t h a t " i f just o n e person had t a k e n the t i m e to listen to her t h e y would h a v e seen what t h e judge did." To F r a n k D o t i , h e a d of C h a p m a n ' s legal c l i n i c for poor people, Reyes's case is typical of what he's seen in r e c e n t years: g o v e r n m e n t c o m e s down hardest o n t h e easiest targets—those without resources and power to defend themselves. H o w does this measure o n t h e scales o f justice? I n 2 0 0 1 , 3 9 7 , 0 0 0 people w h o applied for t h e Earned I n c o m e T a x C r e d i t were audited, o n e out of every forty-seven returns. T h a t ' s a rate eight times h i g h e r t h a n t h e rate for people earning $ 1 0 0 , 0 0 0 or more. O n l y o n e out of every 3 6 6 returns of wealthy households was audited. O v e r t h e previous e l e v e n years, in fact, audit rates for t h e p o o f increased by a third, while t h e wealthiest enjoyed a 90 p e r c e n t d e c l i n e in I R S scrutiny. O f all t h e 7 4 4 , 0 0 0 t a x returns audited b y t h e I R S i n 2 0 0 2 , more t h a n half, J o h n s t o n finds, were filed by t h e working poor. M o r e t h a n h a l f o f I R S audits targeted people w h o a c c o u n t for less t h a n 2 0 p e r c e n t o f taxpayers, t h e poorest 2 0 percent. It doesn't m a k e sense, by t h e logic of justice, to spend $ 1 0 0 m i l l i o n a year of taxpayer m o n e y to audit t h e working poor, while actively foregoing billions in revenue from t h e wealthy w h o hide or defer t h e i r inc o m e ! B u t o f course t h e g o v e r n m e n t piles m u c h , m u c h more o n t o t h e r i c h man's side of t h e scale: every year, as m u c h as $ 7 0 b i l l i o n is legally sheltered from t a x a t i o n in offshore trusts and o t h e r financial devices. Big a c c o u n t i n g firms like Ernst & Young actually sell t a x shelters for a good share o f their own huge profits. O n e o f their "products" costs $ 5 m i l l i o n and, in e x c h a n g e , the c l i e n t gets up to $ 2 0 m i l l i o n in t a x obligations wiped out. T h e r e ' s an e n t i r e new c o t t a g e industry devoted to m a k i n g t a x

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obligations disappear, h e l p i n g t h e r i c h get r i c h e r a t t h e e x p e n s e o f t h o s e w h o h a v e no c h o i c e but to pay their fair s h a r e — a n d mostly feel o b l i gated to do so anyway. It's stunning. A l l told, we h a v e a " t a x g a p " — t h e difference b e t w e e n taxes owed and t a x e s p a i d — o f m o r e t h a n $ 3 4 5 b i l l i o n a year, m o r e t h a n n i n e times our entire D e p a r t m e n t o f H o m e l a n d S e c u r i t y budget. M a k e no mistake; every foregone dollar t h e r i c h owe is o n e you ultimately pay for in e i t h e r higher taxes or fewer services down t h e road. W h e n our t a x c o d e permits such public larceny, you k n o w w h o writes t h e laws in t h i s country. C o n s i d e r : more t h a n eighty-two c o m p a n i e s paid no t a x at all in at least o n e of t h e first three years of t h e present Bush administration. W h e n I was in c o l l e g e in t h e 1 9 5 0 s t h e proportion of federal i n c o m e from corporate taxes was 33 percent; by 2 0 0 3 it was just 7.4 p e r c e n t , as more and more c o m p a n i e s — t h e tax system rigged by t h e i r highly paid W a s h i n g t o n lobbyists—went A W O L from social responsibility. E v e n those w h o break t h e law h a v e less and less to fear. Last summer t h e I R S quietly m o v e d t o e l i m i n a t e t h e jobs o f nearly h a l f o f its estate t a x auditors, a m o v e t h a t o n e I R S lawyer described as a "backdoor way for t h e Bush administration to a c h i e v e w h a t it c a n n o t get from Congress, w h i c h is repeal of t h e estate t a x . " T h e journalist o f t h e A m e r i c a n R e v o l u t i o n , T h o m a s Paine, described t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s of his day as t h e A r c h i m e d e a n point of d e m o c r a t i c liberty. He invoked t h e G r e e k proverb: "Had we a place to stand upon, we might raise t h e world." To P a i n e , t h a t p l a c e was A m e r i c a . H e r e citizens would fight for their rights against imperial g o v e r n m e n t a n d arbitrary power, agitate for social justice, and stand up against d o m i n a t i o n by organized wealth. Today t h a t revolution has b e e n b l u n t e d by t h e reactionaries of t h e last thirty years c e l e b r a t i n g ostentatious wealth, inequality, and social Darwinism. T h e egalitarian creed o f t h e A m e r i c a n promise is m o c k e d in all but n a m e , and t h e bar of t o l e r a n c e for inequality is n o w brought so low t h a t g e n e t i c sorting in t h e h u m a n population is o n c e again "respectfully" debated as a leading cause. T h e d o m i n a n t elites in A m e r i c a today—corporate e x e c u t i v e s , wealthy contributors, a n d t h e officials they h a v e bankrolled i n t o office—possess a degree of

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influence and privilege befitting a true ruling class. T h e y are t h e M a y a n elites of our t i m e w h o would h a v e us a c c e p t as immutable t h e i r preferred vision of t h e world. W h a t these thirty years o f redistributing w e a l t h upward h a v e d o n e to A m e r i c a is d o c u m e n t e d in a growing literature on inequality and its social c o n s e q u e n c e s . B u t t h e spiritual c o s t s — l o s t faith in democracy, failing empathy, growing distrust and d i v i s i o n — m a y be greater. W e k n o w from history what c a n h a p p e n w h e n people say "Enough's enough." History tells us t h a t t h e Jeffersonian "second revolution" of t h e 1 7 9 0 s , t h e Populist revolt o f t h e 1 8 9 0 s , t h e Progressive Era o f reform, t h e powerful electoral ratification of t h e N e w Deal, t h e equally powerful rej e c t i o n o f discrimination i n t h e 1 9 6 0 s — a l l moved A m e r i c a closer t o t h e egalitarian values o f democracy. So I h a v e a practical suggestion for those of you who are principals, superintendents, school-board members, and teachers: G o h o m e from h e r e and revise your c o r e curriculum. Yes, t e a c h t h e t h r e e R s and t h e A B C s . M a k e sure your kids learn algebra, biology, and calculus. B u t t e a c h t h e m about t h e A m e r i c a n R e v o l u t i o n — t h a t i t isn't just about w h i t e m e n in powdered wigs carrying muskets in a t i m e long g o n e . It's about slaves w h o rose up and w o m e n w h o wouldn't be denied and unw e l c o m e immigrants and exploited workers w h o against great odds c l a i m e d t h e R e v o l u t i o n as t h e i r o w n and b r e a t h e d life i n t o it. T e a c h your kids they don't h a v e to a c c e p t what they h a v e b e e n h a n d e d . T e a c h t h e m t h a t they are n o t only equal citizens under t h e law but equal sons and daughters—heirs, every o n e — o f t h a t R e v o l u t i o n , and t h a t it is t h e i r right to c l a i m it as their own. T e a c h t h e m to shake t h e torpor t h a t has b e e n prescribed for t h e m by elders and ideologues. T e a c h t h e m that there is only o n e force strong e n o u g h to c o u n t e r t h e power of organized m o n e y today, and t h a t is t h e power of organized people. T h e y are waiting for this message. T h e kids in your schools h a v e b e e n made to feel like victims—powerless, ashamed, inferior, and disenfranchised. T e l l t h e m t h a t despite their poverty, c i r c u m s t a n c e s , and t h e long odds they are handed, they h a v e t h e power to m a k e t h e world over again. Yesterday I visited t h e M u s e u m of t h e Presidio in S a n F r a n c i s c o .

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T h a t former military e n c l a v e b e n e a t h t h e G o l d e n G a t e Bridge is n o w a marvelous c e n t e r o f vital c o m m e r c e and c i v i c purpose—saved from e x p l o i t a t i o n and despoliation by citizens w h o rose up on its behalf. On t h e wall of o n e of t h e m a i n buildings I c a m e upon a painting of an enormous deep blue wave with whitecaps against an equally blue sky. T h e artist's inscription b e n e a t h t h e painting reads: " T h i s h u m a n wave expresses t h e c o n c e p t of people at t h e b o t t o m rungs of society waking up to using t h e i r united strength to c l a i m their universal rights to e c o n o m i c , social, and environmental justice." Put t h a t i n your c o r e curriculum. A m e r i c a 1 0 1 .

Part

IV

THE MEDIA

19. International

|

TIME

Documentary

TO

TELL

Association

N O V E M B E R

2 ,

Awards

Dinner

1 9 9 1

My father and 1 were visiting the place of his youth and my birth in Oklahoma when I the

told him about my new job:

documentary

unit established

by

Edward

He put down the barbecue sandwich, "Exactly

what is a documentary?"

for which

I

had no

satisfactory

senior correspondent for C B S Reports, R.

Murrow

and

Fred

wiped his lips with a napkin,

1 was flummoxed. answer.

I

had

Friendly. and said,

It was a good question

watched many

documentaries

but couldn't come up with a neat description that encompassed all that 1 had seen. one

Even now, answer.

mentaries

after years of practicing the form,

Go

are

to

www.filmsite.org/docfilms

"non-fictional,

'slice

of life'

and factual

I am certain there is no you

will read

works

that

docu-

of art—and

some-

times known as c i n e m a verite." But journalism is not art, and some of the best documentaries made

them

pens rarely,

ever made are journalistically

thought of documentaries as

as

"life caught unawares"

driven.

The people

"life caught unawares," is usually mundane,

tells us very little unless embedded in a story.

In

who

first

but that hap-

if not boring,

and

1928 the Russian filmmaker

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Dziga Vertov filmed a typical day in Moscow from dawn to dusk, excerpt of it that I once saw was boring and unrevealing. ture of the form would depend on reporting the truth, sors would insist, around first

Robert

only the

Flaherty's

feature-length

"official"

Nanook

documentary.

truth.

North, .

Nanook

Some

mentaries

thought

it

was.

were made solely for propaganda.

twentieth century

my

colleagues and

usually

re-created

make the life of the indigenous hero more himself probably

but as Stalin's film cen-

A school of scrutiny has grown up

of the

Flaherty

1

but even an

Vertov said the fu-

.

some

.

mentioned of the

as

the

scenes

to

well, more interesting than

of the

most powerful

docu-

While creating a series about the

took one

sequence from Leni

Riefen-

stahl's Triumph of the Will—filmed at the Nazi Party rally in 1934 as propaganda for Hitler—and just for sport used it to make

the Nazis

opposed

The Nazis

to

Riefenstahl's portrait of them as superior.

silly nor superior; was

the

truth lay

creating documentaries for

somewhere else.

Hitler,

the

About the

look silly as were neither

time

Roosevelt administration

Riefenstahl was

turn-

ing to film to sell the New Deal.

The documentaries were technically sophisti-

cated

only

but

still

propaganda—the

films for commercial release.

With

the

Hollywood film director Frank Capra understand—the

series

was

peacetime

production

of

government

outbreak of war Roosevelt recruited to

create propaganda

called W h y We

Fight.

to

the

help Americans

When I met Capra many

years later, I told him that I had seen his films—made with the help of some of Hollywood's

legendary

form could be used

directors—and to nurture

was

nervous

at

how

effectively

the response sought by government.

the

He had

worried over it, too, and said that he had only decided the series was justified when at the end of the war he had seen photographs of Auschwitz and Buchenwald and

Treblinka.

By

the

time

the

International

Documentary

Association

invited me to receive its lifetime achievement award, I still didn't have a sure answer for my father's question.

Documentaries,

I

realized,

are

like

nitroglyc-

erin: they can be turned into dynamite to blow things up, or into medicine for an ailing heart.

It's the form I still prefer after almost forty years as a journal-

ist. Our aim is to get as close as possible to the verifiable truth, and the truth can be mighty powerful when supported by

*

the coupling of word and image.

* *

I wish I could wave a wand and turn this m i c r o p h o n e i n t o a m e g a p h o n e t h a t would r e a c h beyond this r o o m to producers, directors, c a m e r a m e n

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and -women, sound m e n , engineers, editors, researchers, a n d others w h o h a v e made it possible for me to be h e r e . I h a v e b e e n their front m a n , a n d I relish this work because it is a c o l l a b o r a t i v e medium. W h e n I wandered i n t o d o c u m e n t a r y television twenty years ago, I was a greenhorn. I k n e w s o m e t h i n g about t h e power of d o c u m e n t a r i e s to tell stories because I h a d b e e n deeply m o v e d by C B S ' s Harvest of Shame and b y N B C ' s The Tunnel, w h i c h told o f t h e escape t o t h e W e s t o f G e r m a n s digging b e n e a t h t h e B e r l i n W a l l . B u t I k n e w n e x t t o n o t h i n g a b o u t h o w t o tell such stories myself. M y n e w colleagues a t W N E T i n N e w York, all of t h e m veterans of t h e craft, assured me n o t to worry. It's only television, t h e y said; it's n o t brain surgery. As I've learned in t h e last twenty years, they were wrong. It is b r a i n surgery. Just three days ago, in t h e operating r o o m of a hospital in B e i j i n g , I stood beside a t e a m of surgeons as they removed a tumor from t h e brain of a thirty-seven-year-old s c h o o l t e a c h e r . S h e and t h e doctors had agreed to let us film t h e operation for a documentary on traditional C h i n e s e medicine. B e c a u s e t h e surgeons w a n t e d t h e patient's c o o p e r a t i o n during t h e d e l i c a t e operation, they used for anesthesia a c o m b i n a t i o n of W e s t e r n sedatives, about h a l f t h e dosage t h a t would otherwise h a v e b e e n n e c e s sary, and acupuncture-—needles inserted at strategic points in t h e young woman's h e a d and feet. H e r pain was interrupted and diminished e v e n as she remained c o n s c i o u s throughout t h e surgery. N o t only did t h e d o c tors talk to h e r as they performed t h e operation, so did I. As t h e y rem o v e d h a l f o f t h e flesh o f h e r forehead and h a l f o f her scalp, and b e g a n to probe deep i n t o t h e tissues of h e r brain for t h a t b l a c k intruder of a tumor, she a n d I carried on a h a l t i n g c o n v e r s a t i o n . I asked h e r how she was doing, and to describe what she was e x p e r i e n c i n g . S h e was ever so cordial, as if lying on a table with forceps inside h e r c r a n i u m and two c a m eras poised a b o v e h e r h e a d was s o m e t h i n g she did every m o r n i n g after rice dumplings and tea. I was t h e nervous o n e . T h e surgeons and p a t i e n t were fine. I h a v e often said t h a t journalism has b e e n for me a c o n t i n u i n g course in adult e d u c a t i o n . T h i s world's capacity to amuse, please, pro-

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v o k e , and c h a l l e n g e its t e n a n t s has b e e n abundantly revealed to me over these years, and my o w n surprises, t h e eurekas t h a t kept exploding in my o w n h e a d w h e n joy, knowledge, humor, sorrow, or wisdom presented themselves t o m e , h a v e b e e n m o m e n t s that this medium enabled m e t o share w i t h millions of others. T h e d e m o c r a c y o f e x p e r i e n c e i s t h e documentary's c h i e f c l a i m t o legitimacy. W h e t h e r we are reliving t h e C i v i l War, revealing t h e secret g o v e r n m e n t , getting inside an A m e r i c a n family or C h i n e s e surgery, or seeing h o w others live or cells divide or t h e r o c k e t flies, t h e d o c u m e n tary brings close what was distant, making bold what was hidden, and putting into t h e h a n d of many knowledge t h a t was o n c e possessed by t h e few. In this m e t a p h o r i c sense, t h e documentary is a kind of brain surgery. It c a n r e m o v e a cancerous prejudice, a t o x i c stereotype, or a morbid fear. Just as those C h i n e s e doctors t o o k out of t h a t t e a c h e r an ugly growth t h a t was strangling h e r good cells, film c a n take out barriers in t h e mind t h a t isolate us from o n e another. In this era of shrinking a t t e n t i o n spans, dwindling sound bites, and shriveling news budgets, t h e survival of this long form of journalism c a n n o t be t a k e n for granted. T h e irony is t h a t t h e documentary's greatest strength is e x a c t l y t h e quality that most imperils its survival. T i m e is t h e hardest c o m m o d i t y to c o m e by these days. A n d time is t h e best thing t h a t t h e documentary has going for it. T i m e confers a perspective t h a t is hard to a c h i e v e in t h e c h a o t i c daily world of news, print or broadcast. N o t all of us c a n take years for a single project, as K e n Burns did with The Civil War or Barbara Kopple with American Dream. B u t t h a t t h e documentary provides us t h e luxury of plotting our deadlines on t h e calendar instead of on t h e w a t c h , in weeks or m o n t h s rather t h a n hours, is a rare b o o n . G e o r g e Bernard S h a w c o m p l a i n e d that reporters are unable seemingly to discriminate b e t w e e n a b i c y c l e a c c i d e n t and t h e collapse of civilization. B u t some of history's most epic collapses started out looking very m u c h like a b i c y c l e a c c i d e n t . A young m a n n a m e d Paris ran off

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with a beautiful w o m a n who was married to s o m e o n e else, and t h e c i v i lization of Troy b e g a n to unwind. A middle-aged b l a c k seamstress, riding in a M o n t g o m e r y bus, h a d tired feet, and an ugly social order b e g a n to collapse. A n i g h t guard at an office c o m p l e x in W a s h i n g t o n , D . C . , found masking tape on a doorjamb, and a presidency b e g a n to unravel. W h a t journalist, writing o n deadline, c o u l d h a v e imagined t h e walloping k i c k t h a t R o s a Parks's tired feet would give to t h e e n t r e n c h e d institution of segregation? W h o could h a v e fantasized t h a t a third-rate burglary on a dark n i g h t c o u l d do to R i c h a r d N i x o n what Hubert H u m phrey and G e o r g e M c G o v e r n n e v e r c a m e c l o s e t o managing? O n l y t i m e c a n help us disentangle t h e S c h w i n n from cataclysm. O n l y t h e documentary gives t h e journalist t h e freedom o f t i m e . B u t t i m e does s o m e t h i n g else. N o t o n l y does t i m e free t h e journalist, it also frees t h e story. T i m e gives t h e story a c h a n c e to tell itself. Probably t h e most famous television documentary of t h e 1 9 5 0 s was the C B S documentary o n S e n a t o r Joseph McCarthy. W e remember i t as t h e instrument Edward R. Murrow used to skewer a red-baiting senator, but w h e n you w a t c h t h a t broadcast again, you're struck with h o w l i t t l e o f Murrow i s i n it. H e a n d Fred Friendly made t h e brilliant d e c i sion to let M c C a r t h y speak for himself, n o t to use a script but to feature M c C a r t h y ' s own bullying words, an entire broadcast's worth, n o t just a couple o f minutes. A n d M c C a r t h y obligingly h a n g e d h i m s e l f o n n a tional television far more effectively and fatally t h a n a n y o n e else's words could. It's o n l y through this unhurried h o n o r i n g o f reality t h a t w e c a n e v e n approach t h e myriad and messy truths o f t h e h u m a n heart. T h e y c a n n o t be hurried, scripted, forced. T h e y must be nurtured. It is nearly a century n o w s i n c e t h e Lumière brothers i n v e n t e d a c a m e r a t h a t would capture t h e world's m e m o r y in m o t i o n . T h e y started by d o c u m e n t i n g t h e i n t i m a t e drama of daily life: trains arriving, c h i l d r e n swimming, employees playing at a p i c n i c . B u t w i t h i n a year of t h e i r inv e n t i o n , they also discovered t h a t t h e i r cameras could capture t h e world's mistakes, tragedies, and injustices in m o t i o n , t o o .

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A L u m i è r e photographer traveled to Russia to film t h e c e r e m o n i a l installation o f t h e newly crowned Czar N i c h o l a s II. A s police tried t o b e a t b a c k t h e massive crowd t h a t surged around t h e czar clamoring for gifts, an improvised viewing platform gave way. T h o u s a n d s of people died in t h e p a n i c . Officials confiscated t h e cameraman's c a m e r a and destroyed his film, and no word of t h e tragedy was published. B u t for t h e first t i m e , those in power c a m e up against an e v e n greater power: t h e living record of t h e i r own deeds, a c o m p e t i n g vision of truth. It's h a p p e n e d often s i n c e t h e n , this a t t e m p t by authority to direct t h e people's moral sight line. T h a t ' s why F r e n c h g o v e r n m e n t officials kept The Sorrow and the Pity off F r e n c h television. T h e film challenged t h e myth t h a t F r e n c h people m o u n t e d a steadfast, n o b l e , and unified campaign of resistance against t h e Nazi occupiers; c e r t a i n myths, said off i c i a l s , must n o t b e destroyed. T h a t ' s why t h e U . S . S t a t e D e p a r t m e n t tried to pressure P B S n o t to air a documentary on t h e e x e c u t i o n of a Saudi princess and h e r lover for c o m m i t t i n g adultery. Officials said it might "offend t h e Saudis" and M o b i l O i l , w h i c h j o i n e d in t h e pressure campaign. T h a t ' s why it t o o k twenty-five years, and a ruling from t h e Massachusetts Superior C o u r t , to overturn a b a n on t h e airing of Titicut Follies, Frederick W i s e m a n ' s harrowing film about c o n d i t i o n s in a corr e c t i o n a l institution for t h e criminally insane. It might, said t h e authorities, invade t h e privacy of t h e inmates it portrayed, t h e pitiful and brutalized inmates whose privacy was t h e greatest p r o t e c t i o n their brutalizers had. Shamefully, however, sometimes pressure c o m e s n o t from outside but from inside, n o t from authority but from ourselves, from t h e e x e c u tives of our o w n industry. T h a t ' s why J o n Alpert's footage of t h e devast a t i o n inflicted on Iraq was n o t shown on c o m m e r c i a l television. A l l t h e more reason to keep at it. T h e journalist M a r t h a G e l l h o r n , who covered c o m b a t from t h e S p a n i s h C i v i l W a r through V i e t n a m , recently said t h a t she n o longer believes t h a t simply telling t h e truth, simply pointing out dishonor and injustice, will c o m p e l people to d e m a n d t h e saving a c t i o n , t h e punishm e n t o f wrongdoers, o r care for t h e i n n o c e n t . S h e c o n c l u d e d t h a t " N o

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b e h a v i o r is f i n a l . . . V i c t o r y and defeat are b o t h passing m o m e n t s . T h e r e are no ends, t h e r e are o n l y means, and j o u r n a l i s m is a m e a n s . .. I n o w t h i n k t h a t t h e a c t of keeping t h e record straight is valuable in and of itself." T h a n k s to all of you for h o n o r i n g our craft by helping to k e e p t h e record straight.

20.

|

REMEMBERING FRIENDLY Eulogy October

for

30,

Fred

W.

13,

1998

1998

Broadcast news might have been saved if we had Fred

Friendly.

over

a sixty-year groundbreaking career

evitable

that

ning battle

Despite the

the

platoons

commercial forces

would eventually

triumph.

of proteges in

figured he

broadcasting,

against which Even as

he

it

carry

of

advertising

revenues,

into

the

Wisconsin, Joseph McCarthy. fighting for CBS would have

News

made

ble on-air journalist. ports,

setting the

Fred ground his

to signify.

the The

refused

disreputable

to clone the field

virtually

waged a

Fred and Edward R.

the

hearings

into

was

had

1950s,

loss

out how

discharged

were molding CBS News in their image in the McCarthy

W.

Friendly,

1916-March

MARCH

FRED

to tactics

the

landmark

of the junior

transition from radio icon

1 doubt to

two of them created S e e

Murrow

the network, fearing

teeth over that one

Without him

in-

long-run-

Army-

senator from but he

Edward R.

kept

Murrow

television's most formidaIt N o w and C B S R e -

standard for investigative reporting and documentaries

of

MOYERS

unprecedented mote

the

lions has

power

DEMOCRACY

impact.

They

pooled

|

their

261

personal funds

broadcast that used McCarthy's own words and deeds

of Americans never forgiven

signed

and

ON

the job

he

fused to carry

against the

his

demagoguery—something for

"Communist Broadcasting System."

had relished—CBS

News

which In

president—when

live Senate hearings on the Vietnam War,

to

to

the

1966 the

pro-

turn milRight

Fred re-

network re-

choosing instead to

run a repeat of I Love Lucy. As an adviser to the Ford Foundation he became

the prime

casting,

which

values."

His

how

mover in he

own

"to make

the

creation of the

envisioned as Fred

the agony

Friendly

being

"free

Seminars

Corporation for Public of commercials

on

of decision-making so

and

Broad-

commercial

public

television

demonstrated

intense

that you can escape

only by thinking." His death in 1998 was more than the felling of a great oak; we lost the forest. At his memorial service I saw tears in the eyes of some crusty

old

journalists.

*

*

*

W h e n Fred Friendly was president o f C B S News and I was t h e W h i t e House press secretary, he would c o m e down from N e w York on t h e shuttle and slip in t h e b a c k door of t h e W h i t e House and along t h e hall past t h e C a b i n e t R o o m to t h e private e n t r a n c e to my office for an hour-or-so c h a t . O c c a s i o n a l l y t h e president would stop by. W a t c h i n g e a c h o f t h e m t a k e t h e other's measure was like w a t c h i n g K i n g K o n g and Godzilla simultaneously squeeze through t h e same airport m e t a l detector. T h e president sized Friendly up as a straight s h o o t e r and t o o k a liking to h i m , all t h e more so w h e n he discovered Fred wasn't just " a n o t h e r Harvard graduate." I realized this because of s o m e t h i n g t h a t h a p p e n e d in late 1 9 6 5 . I had n o t sought or w e l c o m e d t h e press j o b and was always lobbying L B J for my release. T h e president would h a v e n o n e of it, until o n e day, after I had written yet a n o t h e r p e t i t i o n requesting a parole, he burst i n t o my office waving t h e n o t e , slapped it down on my desk, and a n n o u n c e d : " A l l right, you c a n l e a v e — o n o n e c o n d i t i o n . I'll let you go if you persuade Fred Friendly to s u c c e e d you." I t o o k h i m at his word and began to plot my escape. I called Fred in N e w York and told h i m I needed to see h i m . He c a m e down t h e n e x t af-

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t e r n o o n . W h e n I explained t h e s c h e m e t o h i m h e didn't b l i n k . H e just looked me straight in t h e eye and said, " I ' m flattered, B i l l , but leaving C B S N e w s t o c o m e t o t h e W h i t e House would b e a step down. U n l e s s , of course, t h e president offered me his j o b . " I dutifully reported this to t h e president t h a t e v e n i n g as he shoveled down his tapioca. He glowered and grumbled s o m e t h i n g to t h e effect t h a t I should remind t h e arrogant S O B t h a t every C B S station l i c e n s e would b e c o m i n g u p for renewal o n our w a t c h and a little humility on Fred's part m i g h t spare B i l l Paley ( t h e founder of C B S ) a stroke. Obviously I deep-sixed t h a t suggestion. S e v eral m o n t h s later w h e n Fred resigned from C B S N e w s o v e r a dispute about airing t h e S e n a t e hearings o n V i e t n a m , t h e president c a l l e d m e and said, "You tell h i m he should be glad I didn't take h i m up on his offer. He c a n quit his j o b and I c a n ' t . " O v e r t h e n e x t several m o n t h s , Fred c a m e down t o W a s h i n g t o n several times to m e e t with M c G e o r g e Bundy, w h o was leaving his j o b as nat i o n a l security adviser to run t h e Ford F o u n d a t i o n a n d had engaged Friendly as adviser. T h e two of t h e m were h a t c h i n g plans to transform e d u c a t i o n a l television. I had d o n e some preliminary work at t h e Office of E d u c a t i o n in 1 9 6 4 on t h e future of public television, and I s o o n recognized Fred as a true believer. He and Bundy were by t h e office o n e day and Fred was soaring. He w e n t on and on about television "that dignifies instead of debases" and about t h e p o t e n t i a l i m p o r t a n c e of "at least o n e c h a n n e l free of c o m m e r c i a l s and c o m m e r c i a l values." He was public television's J o h n n y Appleseed in those formative days, and he persuaded t h e Ford F o u n d a t i o n to put its m o n e y where his m i n d was. I eventually wound up on public television myself, a n c h o r i n g a weekly broadcast with Fred's first t e a c h i n g assistant, M a r t i n C l a n c y , as my star producer; it was usually o n e of Fred's people w h o taught me t h e most about our craft. W h e n I left for C B S t h e f i r s t t i m e , h e c h e e r e d m e o n . H e w e l c o m e d m e b a c k t o public television two years later. T h e n , w h e n C B S b e c k o n e d again, h e urged m e t o try again. N o o n e understood b e t t e r t h a n Fred t h e grounds for my vagrancy. F i v e years later, w h e n it was no longer possible to do at C B S what I w a n t e d to do, Fred

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told m e : "You're n e v e r going to do t h e work you most w a n t to do until you do it for yourself." So I quit and h e a d e d for t h e life of an independent producer. It's remarkable h o w often he was right. R e m a r k a b l e h o w often he was t h e r e for us. W h e n I later realized how m a n y proteges he had, h o w m a n y aspirants, acolytes, a n d apprentices were being nurtured by h i m , I wondered h o w he found t i m e for all of us. B u t t i m e to Fred was life, and life was to be shared. I miss his calls. S o m e t i m e s they were subtle persuasions. S o m e t i m e s they were assault and battery. W h e n I missed t h e mark with a broadcast, he said so. W h e n I c a m e close, he gave me t h e h i g h sign. O n e n i g h t as o n e of my specials was e n d i n g — i t was almost e l e v e n — I got up from t h e c h a i r and started for t h e h a l l . " W h e r e are you going?" J u d i t h asked. " T o answer t h e p h o n e , " I said. "It's n o t ringing," she said. "It will," I said. A n d it did. Fred was calling. S o m e t i m e s he c a l l e d just to c o m m i s e r a t e , l a m e n t , or protest. " W e ' r e i n v e n t i n g t h e wheel on t h e way to t h e guillot i n e , " he would say. I could m o u t h t h e words w i t h h i m : " B e c a u s e television c a n m a k e so m u c h m o n e y doing its worst, it often c a n n o t afford to do its best." A n d he would say, " T o turn a m o v i e t h e a t e r i n t o a burlesque house may be an owner's prerogative, but a civilized society doesn't do t h a t to its c i v i c c e n t e r ! " T h e r e ' s hardly o n e of us h e r e today singing his praises w h o didn't o n c e break his heart. B u t he n e v e r gave up on us. Journalism was a mission to h i m , n o t a business, so he grew more forlorn and frustrated as he w a t c h e d news and public affairs m o r p h i n t o e n t e r t a i n m e n t . E v e n his o w n offspring, public t e l e v i s i o n — h i s last best h o p e for a c i v i c c e n t e r in this m u l t i c h a n n e l n a t i o n — c o u l d let h i m down, as he and R u t h found it harder and harder to secure prime t i m e for t h e i r b e l o v e d S o c r a t i c seminars featuring m a n y of t h e country's finest thinkers as participants. O n c e h e called—early o n a Saturday m o r n i n g — t o protest s o m e thing h e h a d s e e n t h e n i g h t before o n t h e air, s o m e t h i n g t h a t h e h a d found trivializing and a waste of precious airtime. A w a k e n e d from a deep sleep, I said in exasperation: "Fred, didn't a n y o n e ever tell you all things

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MOYERS

h u m a n given time, go badly? W h y should television be any different?" T h e r e was a long s i l e n c e . A n d t h e n he said softly: " W h a t kind of world would it be if we settled on just being h u m a n ? " So this overbearing, gruff, flawed, restless, brilliant, t e m p e r a m e n t a l , driven m a n , whose c o n v i c t i o n s were as stout as his h e a r t — t h i s cross b e tween J e r e m i a h , M a r k H o p k i n s , and T h o m a s P a i n e — t u r n s out t o b e our b e t t e r angel, perhaps our last b e t t e r angel, w h o until t h e very end was trying to wake us from our slumber. E x c u s e m e , I h e a r t h e p h o n e ringing.

21.

|

THE FIGHT FOR PUBLIC BROADCASTING National

Conference

for

Media

Reform

M A Y 1 5 , 2005

You might have satisfied. Truth,

Here

thought was

the

Fox

Bush administration would have News

functioning

as

the

and Rush Limbaugh and a host of wannabes

right-wing agitprop,

and

the

Republican

by

that paid the

than

Ministry

of

constituting an OPEC

of

Beltway press according the

sure of deference surpassed only

been more

White

Kremlin

by

House a meaIzvestia:

Karl

Rove could look at a media map of America and boast of it as occupied territory.

Why

bother about the sliver of the

spectrum held by

cially about a single hour allocated once a week, public

affairs

larger than, in

broadcast say,

the media aerie

broadcast became

that

would

Guam—on Rove's the

that

the

surely

show

wall map?

PBS,

and espe-

on Friday nights,

to a lone

up

as

a

Bush White House didn't want

target of a campaign

pinprick—no

to politicize.

My

waged secretly,

at first,

by a right-wing ideologue who occupied the very office

that had been

charged

with

broadcasting from

intimidate

took wing

PBS,

protecting public

to

mere

Yet not a sparrow

political

interference.

In

the

266

great

scheme

of this

administration's

this was a mere skirmish. satiable

and

control Their

all

unrestrained three

attempted

members

of

plotter's

own

broadcast at the

excesses.

imperial

of a

designs

on

the

Bill

regime

that

was

not

and

bring

the

press

of government

of public

Congress,

MOYERS

an

broadcasting failed

unimpeachable But

end of 2004,

even the

thanks

inspector

after bizarre

I details

content just to

to

general,

the

National

Conference

for

Media

its

vigilant

the

retired—voluntarily—from continued

to

to

knees.

some and

emerge.

they are as I recounted the story in two speeches the following year, to

of Rights,

But the story would prove to be revealing of the inappetite

branches coup

BILL

|

chief my Here

the first

Reform.

* * *

I c a n ' t imagine b e t t e r c o m p a n y on this beautiful Sunday morning in S t . Louis. T h e r e ' s no c o n g r e g a t i o n in t h e country where I would be more likely to find more kindred souls t h a n are gathered here. W h a t joins us all is our c o m m i t m e n t to public media. Patricia Aufderheide wrote in t h e r e c e n t issue of In These Times:

This is a moment when public media outlets can make a powerful case for themselves. Public radio, public T V , cable access, public D B S channels, media arts centers, youth media projects, nonprofit Internet news services . . . low-power radio and webcasting are all part of a nearly-invisible feature of today's media map: the public media sector. They exist not to make a profit, not to push an ideology, not to serve customers, but to create a public—a group of people who can talk productively with people who don't share their views, and defend the interests of the people who have to live with the consequences of corporate and governmental power.

In t h a t spirit I've c o m e to share with you a story t h a t goes to t h e core o f our b e l i e f t h a t t h e quality o f democracy and t h e quality o f journalism

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are deeply e n t w i n e d . I c a n tell this story because I've b e e n living it. It's b e e n in t h e news this week, including reports of more attacks on a single journalist—yours truly—by t h e right-wing media and their allies at t h e C o r p o r a t i o n for Public Broadcasting. T h e y ' v e b e e n demonizing m e for years now, a n d I h a v e n ' t given up although I retired m o r e t h a n six m o n t h s ago. I h a v e learned to take t h e i r partisan assaults in stride, but I should put my detractors on n o t i c e : t h e y m i g h t just c o m p e l me out of t h e rocking c h a i r and b a c k i n t o t h e a n c h o r chair. As some of you know, C P B was established almost forty years ago to set broad policy for public broadcasting and to be a firewall b e t w e e n political influence and program c o n t e n t . W h a t some on this board are n o w doing today—led by its c h a i r m a n , K e n n e t h T o m l i n s o n — i s wholly at odds with t h a t mission. W e ' r e seeing unfold a c o n t e m p o r a r y e x a m p l e of t h e age-old ambit i o n of power and ideology to squelch and punish journalists who tell t h e stories t h a t make princes and priests u n c o m f o r t a b l e . W h o are they? T h e y are t h e apologists for t h e people in power. I m e a n t h e people w h o are hollowing out middle-class security e v e n as they enlist t h e sons and daughters of t h e working class in a war started under false pretenses. I m e a n t h e people w h o turn faith-based initiatives i n t o a slush fund and encourage t h e pious to l o o k heavenward and pray so as n o t to see t h e long arm of privilege and power picking their p o c k ets. I m e a n t h e people w h o would discredit dissent and present t h e i r ideology as t h e official view of reality from w h i c h any deviation b e c o m e s unpatriotic heresy. T h a t ' s w h o I m e a n . A n d if that's editorializing, so be it. A free press is o n e where it's okay to state t h e c o n c l u s i o n you're led to by t h e evidence. T h e s e apologists for power h a v e c o m e after my colleagues and me because we didn't play by t h e c o n v e n t i o n a l rules of Beltway journalism. T h o s e rules divide t h e world i n t o D e m o c r a t s and R e p u b l i c a n s , liberals and conservatives, and allow journalists to pretend t h e y h a v e d o n e t h e i r j o b if, instead of reporting t h e truth b e h i n d t h e news, t h e y merely give e a c h side an opportunity to spin t h e news.

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J o n a t h a n M e r m i n writes about this in a r e c e n t essay in World Policy journal and

in his book Debating War and Peace:

Intervention

in

the

Post-Vietnam

Media Coverage

of U.S.

Era.

M e r m i n quotes David Ignatius of The Washington Post on why t h e deep interests of t h e A m e r i c a n public are so poorly served by establishm e n t journalism. T h e "rules of our game," says Ignatius, "make it hard for us to tee up an issue . .. without a news peg." He offers a case in point: t h e debacle o f A m e r i c a ' s o c c u p a t i o n o f Iraq. " I f S e n a t o r s o and s o hasn't criticized post-war planning for Iraq," says Ignatius, " t h e n it's hard for a reporter to write a story about that." M e r m i n also quotes public television's J i m Lehrer. W h y were journalists n o t discussing t h e o c c u p a t i o n of Iraq? B e c a u s e , L e h r e r said, "the word o c c u p a t i o n . . . was n e v e r m e n t i o n e d in t h e run-up to t h e war." W a s h i n g t o n talked about t h e invasion as a war of liberation, n o t a war of o c c u p a t i o n , and as a c o n s e q u e n c e "those of us in journalism n e v e r e v e n looked at t h e issue of o c c u p a t i o n . " M e r m i n takes this t o m e a n t h a t " i f t h e g o v e r n m e n t isn't talking about it, we don't report it." A n d he concludes:

[Lehrer's] somewhat jarring declaration, one of many recent admissions by journalists that their reporting failed to prepare the public for the calamitous occupation that has followed the "liberation" of Iraq, reveals just how far the actual practice of American journalism has deviated from the First Amendment ideal of a press that is independent of the government.

C o n s i d e r t h e witness o f C h a r l e s J . Hanley, t h e Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for t h e A s s o c i a t e d Press, whose 2 0 0 3 story on t h e torture of Iraqis in A m e r i c a n prisons, w h i c h appeared before a U . S . A r m y report and photographs d o c u m e n t i n g t h e abuse surfaced, was ignored by major A m e r i c a n newspapers. H a n l e y attributes this indifference to t h e fact t h a t "it was n o t an officially s a n c t i o n e d story t h a t begins w i t h a handout from an official source." Furthermore, Iraqis recounting their own personal e x p e r i e n c e o f A b u G h r a i b simply did n o t h a v e t h e credibility with

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Beltway journalists of A m e r i c a n officials denying that such things happened. J u d i t h M i l l e r of The New York Times, a m o n g others, relied on t h e credibility of official but u n n a m e d sources w h e n she served essentially as a stenographer for n e o - c o n s e r v a t i v e a n d g o v e r n m e n t claims t h a t Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. T h e s e "rules of t h e g a m e " allow W a s h i n g t o n officials to set t h e agenda for journalism, with journalists essentially left to r e c o u n t w h a t they are told instead of subjecting official words and deeds to c r i t i c a l scrutiny. Instead of acting as filters for readers a n d viewers, sifting t h e truth from t h e propaganda, t h e press transcribes b o t h sides of t h e spin, invariably failing to provide c o n t e x t , background, or any sense of w h i c h claims h o l d up and w h i c h are misleading. I realized long ago t h a t this wasn't h e a l t h y for democracy. O b j e c t i v ity is n o t satisfied by two opposing people offering c o m p e t i n g opinions, leaving t h e viewer to split t h e difference. O v e r t h e years—in d o c u m e n taries on t h e W a t e r g a t e scandals, t h e C l i n t o n administration's illegal fund-raising scandals, t h e I r a n - C o n t r a scandal, and t h e c h e m i c a l industry's long and despicable withholding from workers and consumers critical data about its t o x i c products—I realized t h a t investigative journalism is n o t a c o l l a b o r a t i o n b e t w e e n t h e journalist and t h e subject. W i t h o u t a t r a c e of irony, t h e powers t h a t be h a v e appropriated t h e N e w s p e a k vernacular of G e o r g e Orwell's 1984. O n e of Orwell's characters in 1984 is S y m e , whose j o b is to h e l p produce t h e totalitarian society's dictionary. He explains to t h e protagonist Winston,

"Don't you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought?. . . Has it ever occurred to you, Winston, that by the year 2 0 5 0 , at the very latest, not a single human being will be alive who could understand such a conversation as we are having now? T h e whole climate of thought will be different. In fact there will be no thought, as we understand it now. Orthodoxy means not thinking—not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness."

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An u n c o n s c i o u s people, an i n d o c t r i n a t e d people, a people fed only on partisan information and o p i n i o n t h a t confirm their o w n bias, a people made morbidly obese in m i n d and spirit by t h e j u n k food of propaganda is less i n c l i n e d to put up a fight, to ask questions and be skeptical. I learned about this t h e hard way. I grew up in the S o u t h where t h e truth about slavery, race, and segregation had b e e n driven from t h e pulpits, t h e classrooms, and t h e newsrooms. It t o o k a bloody C i v i l W a r to bring t h e truth h o m e and t h e n it t o o k a n o t h e r hundred years for t h e truth to m a k e us free. In t h e J o h n s o n administration where I served, we c i r c l e d t h e wagons to k e e p out e v i d e n c e at odds with our arguments for war. T h e results were devastating. T h e s e experiences shaped m y resolve after 9 / 1 1 w h e n P B S asked m e to start a n e w weekly broadcast. We were urged to make it different from a n y t h i n g else on t h e a i r — c o m m e r c i a l or public b r o a d c a s t i n g — t o tell stories no o n e else was reporting and to offer a v e n u e to people who m i g h t n o t otherwise be heard. T h a t wasn't a hard sell. S c h o l a r l y studies of t h e c o n t e n t of public television o v e r the previous decade found that political discussions on our public affairs programs were generally restricted to a limited set of voices and a narrow range of perspectives. A c cording to this research, public affairs programs on P B S stations were populated by t h e standard set of elite news sources. W h e t h e r t h e talk was about politics or t h e e c o n o m y , public television was offering t h e same k i n d of discussions and a similar brand of insider discourse t h a t was featured regularly on c o m m e r c i a l television. A l t e r n a t i v e perspectives were rare and were effectively drowned out by g o v e r n m e n t , expert, and corporate views. T h e experts w h o got most o f t h e airtime c a m e primarily from m a i n s t r e a m news organizations and W a s h i n g t o n t h i n k tanks. E c o n o m i c news, for e x a m p l e , was almost entirely refracted through t h e views of business people, investors, and business journalists. V o i c e s outside t h e c o r p o r a t e - W a l l S t r e e t universe—blue-collar workers, labor representatives, c o n s u m e r advocates, and t h e general p u b l i c — w e r e infrequently heard. A l l this was contrary t o t h e Public Broadcasting A c t o f 1 9 6 7 that

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created t h e C o r p o r a t i o n for Public Broadcasting. I know. I was there. As a policy assistant to President J o h n s o n , I had attended meetings i n t h e office o f t h e commissioner o f e d u c a t i o n i n 1 9 6 4 t o explore t h e future of public television. I k n o w firsthand that t h e Public Broadcasting A c t was m e a n t t o provide a n alternative t o c o m m e r c i a l television and to reflect a m u c h greater diversity of people, ideas, and opinions. T h i s , too, was o n m y mind w h e n w e assembled t h e team for N O W with Bill Moyers s o o n after t h e terrorist attacks of 9 / 1 1 . We decided on two priorities. First, we would talk to people from across t h e s p e c t r u m — left, right, and c e n t e r . T h i s m e a n t poets, philosophers, politicians, scientists, sages, and scribblers. It m e a n t t h e novelist Isabel A l l e n d e and columnist for t h e Financial Times A m i t y S h l a e s . It m e a n t t h e former n u n and best-selling author K a r e n Armstrong, and it m e a n t t h e right-wing evangelical columnist C a l T h o m a s . I t m e a n t A r u n d h a t i R o y from India, Doris Lessing and W i l l H u t t o n from L o n d o n , and David Suzuki from C a n a d a . It also m e a n t two successive editors of The Wall Street journal, R o b e r t Bartley and Paul G i g o t ; the editor of The Economist, B i l l E m mett; The Nation's K a t r i n a v a n d e n Heuvel; a n d t h e LA Weekly's J o h n Powers. It m e a n t liberals like Ossie Davis and Gregory N a v a and conservatives like F r a n k Gaffney, G r o v e r Norquist, and R i c h a r d Viguerie. It m e a n t A r c h b i s h o p D e s m o n d Tutu and B i s h o p W i l t o n Gregory o f t h e C a t h o l i c Bishops C o n f e r e n c e in this country. It m e a n t t h e conservative C h r i s t i a n activist and lobbyist R a l p h R e e d , and the liberal C a t h o l i c S i s ter J o a n Chittister. In o t h e r words, we threw t h e c o n v e r s a t i o n of d e m o c r a c y o p e n to all comers. Typical of t h e response was a letter I received from t h e R e p u b l i c a n congressman from T e x a s , R o n Paul, after h e had b e e n o n t h e broadcast: "I h a v e received hundreds of positive e-mails from your viewers. I appreciate t h e format of your program w h i c h allows t i m e for a full discussion of ideas .. . I'm tired of political shows featuring two guests shouting over e a c h o t h e r and offering t h e s a m e arguments . . . NOW was truly refreshing." H o l d your applause because that's n o t t h e p o i n t of t h e story.

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We h a d a s e c o n d priority: strong, h o n e s t , and accurate reporting of stories we k n e w people in h i g h places wouldn't like. I told our producers and correspondents t h a t our j o b in covering W a s h i n g t o n was to get as close as possible to t h e verifiable truth. T h i s was all t h e m o r e imperative in t h e aftermath of t h e terrorist attacks. A m e r i c a could be entering a long war against an elusive and stateless enemy with no definable measure of victory and no limit to its duration, cost, or foreboding fear. T h e rise of a h o m e l a n d security state m e a n t gove r n m e n t could justify extraordinary measures in e x c h a n g e for protecting citizens against u n n a m e d , e v e n unproven, threats. Furthermore, increased spending during a n a t i o n a l e m e r g e n c y c a n produce a spectacle of corruption b e h i n d a s m o k e s c r e e n of secrecy. I reminded our t e a m of t h e news photographer in T o m Stoppard's play w h o said, "People do terrible things to e a c h other, but it's worse w h e n everyo n e is kept in t h e dark." So we went about reporting on g o v e r n m e n t as no o n e else in broadcasting was doing. W e reported o n t h e e x p a n s i o n o f the J u s t i c e Department's power of surveillance; on t h e escalating P e n t a g o n budget and e x p e n s i v e weapons t h a t didn't work; on h o w c a m p a i g n c o n t r i b u t i o n s influenced legislation and policy to skew resources to t h e c o m f o r t a b l e and well c o n n e c t e d while our troops were fighting in A f g h a n i s t a n and Iraq with inadequate training and armor. W e reported o n h o w t h e B u s h administration was shredding t h e F r e e d o m o f I n f o r m a t i o n A c t ; how closed-door decisions in W a s h i n g t o n were costing ordinary workers and taxpayers their livelihood and security; and on offshore t a x h a v e n s t h a t e n a b l e wealthy A m e r i c a n s t o avoid paying t h e i r fair share o f t h e c o s t o f n a t i o n a l security and t h e social c o n t r a c t . B e c a u s e w h a t A m e r i c a n s k n o w depends on w h o owns t h e press, we kept c o m i n g b a c k in our reporting to t h e media business itself, to h o w mega-media corporations were pushing journalism further and further down t h e hierarchy of values, h o w giant radio cartels were silencing critics while shutting c o m m u n i t i e s off from essential information, and how t h e m e d i a giants were lobbying t h e F C C for approval o f e v e n greater c o n c e n t r a t i o n o f ownership.

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T h e broadcast caught o n . O u r ratings grew every year. For a spell we were t h e only public affairs broadcast on P B S whose audience was going up instead of down. O u r journalistic peers t o o k n o t i c e . T h e Los Angeles Times said, " N O W s t e a m o f reporters has regularly put t h e rest o f t h e media t o s h a m e , pursuing stories few others b o t h e r to t o u c h . " The Philadelphia Inquirer said our segments on the sciences, t h e arts, politics, and t h e e c o n o m y were "provocative public television at its best." T h e Austin American-Statesman called NOW "the perfect antidote to today's h i g h - p i t c h e d d e c i b e l l e v e l — a smart, c a l m , timely news program." Frazier M o o r e of t h e A s s o c i a t e d Press said we were "hard-edged w h e n appropriate but n e v e r Hardball. D o n ' t e x p e c t c o m b a t . C i v i l i t y reigns." A n d t h e Baton Rouge Advocate said, "NOW invites viewers to c o n sider t h e deeper implication of t h e daily headlines," drawing on "a wide range of viewpoints w h i c h transcend t h e typical labels of the political left or right." L e t me repeat that: NOW draws on "a wide range of viewpoints w h i c h transcend t h e typical labels of t h e political left or right." T h e reviewer had n o t failed to n o t e t h e appearance on our broadcast of such right-wing stalwarts as Paul G i g o t , R i c h a r d Viguerie, G r o v e r Norquist, R a l p h R e e d , and D a v i d K e e n e , a m o n g others, as well as guests w h o defied t h e traditional television labels of D e m o c r a t or R e p u b l i c a n , liberal or conservative. T h e Public Broadcasting A c t o f 1 9 6 7 had b e e n prophetic. Offer diverse interests, ideas, and voices, be fearless in your b e l i e f in democracy, and t h e public will respond. H o l d your applause—that's n o t t h e p o i n t of t h e story. T h e point of t h e story is t h a t a b a c k l a s h was building in W a s h i n g t o n against our reporting. T h e m o r e w e investigated n o n c o m p e t i t i v e H a l l i b u r t o n c o n t r a c t s , corruption a t t h e D e p a r t m e n t o f t h e Interior, t h e government's failure to provide U . S . troops with adequate materiel and

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wounded veterans with adequate care, lobbyists writing legislation, and p o l i t i c a l favors to insiders, t h e m o r e offended officials c o m p l a i n e d to P B S e x e c u t i v e s . W e were reporting t h e very stories t h a t partisans i n high places did n o t w a n t told, and we were getting t h e stories right; in only three stories in t h r e e years did we err factually, and in e a c h case we corrected t h e errors as soon as we confirmed their inaccuracy. T h e problem was t h a t we were getting it right, n o t right-wing. My analysis of e v e n t s was a case in power. T h e powerful R e p u b l i c a n senator T r e n t L o t t roared in protest w h e n t h e week after t h e midterm e l e c t i o n s in 2 0 0 2 I described t h e probable agenda of t h e party t h a t now c o n t r o l l e d all t h r e e b r a n c h e s o f g o v e r n m e n t . R a t h e r t h a n c e l e b r a t i n g their victory as F o x News, R u s h Limbaugh, and o t h e r right-wing partisans were doing, I provided a different analysis of w h a t t h e victory m e a n t . A n d I did it t h e old-fashioned way: I looked at t h e record, t o o k t h e winners at t h e i r word, and drew t h e logical c o n c l u s i o n as to t h e agenda t h e n e w conservative regime was likely to pursue. H e r e is what I said:

Way back in the 1950s when I first tasted politics and journalism, Republicans briefly controlled the W h i t e House and Congress. W i t h the exception of Joseph McCarthy and his vicious ilk, they were a reasonable lot, presided over by that giant war hero Dwight Eisenhower, who was conservative by temperament and moderate in the use of power. T h a t brand of Republican is gone. A n d for the first time in the memory of anyone alive, the entire federal government—the Congress, the executive, the judiciary—is united behind a rightwing agenda for which George W. Bush believes he now has a mandate. T h a t mandate includes the power of the state to force pregnant women to give control over their own lives. It includes using the taxing power to transfer wealth from working people to the rich.

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It includes giving corporations a free hand to eviscerate the environment and control the regulatory agencies meant to hold them accountable. And it includes secrecy on a scale you cannot imagine. Above all, it means judges with a political agenda appointed for life. If you liked the Supreme Court that put George W. Bush in the W h i t e House, you will swoon over what's coming. And if you like G o d in government, get ready for the Rapture. These folks don't even mind you referring to the G O P as the party of God. W h y else would the new House majority leader say that the Almighty is using him to promote "a biblical worldview" in American politics? So it is a heady time in Washington—a heady time for piety, profits, and military power, all joined at the hip to ideology and money. Don't forget the money. It came pouring into this election, to both parties, from corporate America and others who expect the payback. Republicans out-raised Democrats by $ 1 8 4 million. A n d came up with the big prize—monopoly control of the American government, and the power of the state to turn their ideology into the law of the land. Quite a bargain at any price.

E v e n t s of course confirmed t h e a c c u r a c y of t h a t analysis, but, being right, as I said, is e x a c t l y w h a t t h e R i g h t doesn't want journalists to be. S t r a n g e things b e g a n t o h a p p e n . Friends i n W a s h i n g t o n c a l l e d t o say there were muttered threats b e i n g heard about Congress holding up o n renewed funding o f P B S "unless Moyers i s dealt with." T h e c h a i r m a n of t h e C o r p o r a t i o n for Public Broadcasting, K e n n e t h T o m l i n s o n , a diehard right-wing R e p u b l i c a n , was reportedly quite agitated. O n e source at C P B called t o tell m e that she had heard T o m l i n s o n say t h a t his mission was to "get Moyers." T h e n c a m e t h e last straw. T h e r e was apoplexy in t h e right-wing aerie w h e n on t h e air I put an A m e r i c a n flag in my lapel and said—well, here's e x a c t l y what I said:

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I wore my flag tonight. First time. Until now I haven't thought it necessary to display a little metallic icon of patriotism for everyone to see. It was enough to vote, pay my taxes, perform my civic duties, speak my mind, and do my best to raise our kids to be good Americans. Sometimes I would offer a small prayer of gratitude that I had been born in a country whose institutions sustained me, whose armed forces protected me, and whose ideals inspired me; I offered my heart's affections in return. It no more occurred to me to flaunt the flag on my chest than it did to pin my mother's picture on my lapel to prove her son's love. Mother knew where I stood; so does my country. I even tuck a valentine in my tax returns on April 15. So what's this doing here? Well, I put it on to take it back. T h e flag's been hijacked and turned into a logo—the trademark of a monopoly on patriotism. On those Sunday morning talk shows, official chests appear adorned with the flag as if it is the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. During the State of the Union, did you notice Bush and Cheney wearing the flag? How come? No administration's patriotism is ever in doubt, only its policies. And the flag bestows no immunity from error. W h e n I see flags sprouting on official lapels, I think of the time in China when I saw Mao's little red book on every official's desk, omnipresent and unread. But more galling than anything are all those moralistic ideologues in Washington sporting the flag on their lapels while writing books and running W e b sites and publishing magazines attacking dissenters as un-American. They are people whose ardor for war grows disproportionately to their distance from the fighting. They're in the same league as those swarms of corporate lobbyists wearing flags and prowling Capitol Hill for tax breaks even as they call for more spending on war. So I put this on as a modest riposte to men with flags on their lapels who shoot missiles from the safety of Washington think tanks, or argue that sacrifice is good as long as they don't have to

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make it, or approve of bribing governments to join the coalition of the willing (after they first stash the cash). I put it on to remind myself that not every patriot thinks we should do to the people of Baghdad what Osama bin Laden did to us. T h e flag belongs to the country, not to the government. A n d it reminds me that it's not un-American to think that war—except in self-defense—is a failure of moral imagination, political nerve, and diplomacy. C o m e to think of it, standing up to your government can mean standing up for your country.

T h a t did it. A t hearings i n Congress S e n a t o r L o t t protested t h a t t h e Corporat i o n for Public B r o a d c a s t i n g — c o n t r o l l e d by his o w n party—"has n o t seemed willing to deal with Bill Moyers." President Bush's new app o i n t e e to t h e board, t h e R e p u b l i c a n fund-raiser C h e r y l Halperin, told L o t t that C P B needed more power to do just t h a t sort of thing, leaving no doubt t h a t she thought journalistic malefactors should be brought to heel. I asked to m e e t with t h e board. H a v i n g b e e n present at t h e c r e a t i o n and part of t h e system for almost forty years, I wanted to remind t h e m t h a t C P B had b e e n established as a h e a t shield to p r o t e c t public broadcasters from e x a c t l y this k i n d of political intimidation. I had s e e n w h a t had happened w h e n t h a t shield was removed. Early on public television had b e e n feisty and irreverent, and often targeted for attacks. A W o o d y A l l e n special t h a t poked fun at H e n r y Kissinger had b e e n c a n c e l e d . T h e N i x o n W h i t e H o u s e h a d b e e n s o outraged o v e r t h e documentary The Banks and the Poor t h a t P B S was driven to adopt new guidelines. T h a t didn't satisfy N i x o n , and w h e n public television hired N B C reporters R o b e r t M a c N e i l and S a n d e r V a n o c u r t o c o - a n c h o r some news broadcasts, N i x o n exploded. A c c o r d i n g t o W h i t e House m e m o s a t t h e time, he was determined to "get t h e left-wing c o m m e n t a t o r s who are cutting us up off public television at o n c e — i n d e e d , yesterday if possible." S o u n d familiar? N i x o n v e t o e d t h e authorization for C P B w i t h a message written in

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part by his sidekick Pat B u c h a n a n , who had privately castigated Vanocur, MacNeil,

Washington Week in Review,

Black journal,

and B i l l Moyers as

"unbalanced against t h e administration." Familiar, indeed. B u c h a n a n and N i x o n managed t o cut C P B funding for almost all public affairs programming. T h e y k n o c k e d out multiyear funding for t h e N a t i o n a l Public Affairs C e n t e r for Television, otherwise k n o w n as N P A C T . A n d they managed t o take away from t h e P B S staff t h e ultim a t e responsibility for t h e production of programming. B u t in those days—and this is w h a t I wanted to share with K e n n e t h T o m l i n s o n and his partisan loyalists on t h e C P B b o a r d — t h e r e were still R e p u b l i c a n s in A m e r i c a who stood on principle against politicizing public television. T h e c h a i r m a n of t h e public station in Dallas was an industrialist, a R e p u b l i c a n but no party h a c k , w h o saw t h e W h i t e House intimidation as an assault on freedom of t h e press and led a nationwide effort t o stop it. T h e c h a i r m a n o f C P B was t h e former R e p u b l i c a n c o n gressman T h o m a s Curtis, also a principled man, who resigned rather t h a n do N i x o n ' s bidding. A n d t h e public rallied b e h i n d public television. W i t h i n a few m o n t h s , t h e crisis was over. C P B m a i n t a i n e d its ind e p e n d e n c e , P B S grew in strength, and President N i x o n would soon face i m p e a c h m e n t and resign for violating t h e public trust, n o t just public broadcasting. Paradoxically, t h e very N a t i o n a l Public Affairs C e n t e r for T e l e v i s i o n t h a t N i x o n had tried t o kill put P B S o n t h e map by broadcasting t h e daily W a t e r g a t e hearings, drawing huge ratings night after n i g h t and affirming public television's ability to serve t h e public interest. T h a t was thirty-three years ago. I figured t h e current C P B board, led by K e n n e t h T o m l i n s o n , would like to hear and talk about t h e import a n c e of standing up to political interference. I was wrong. T h e y wouldn't m e e t with me. T h r e e times I tried, but to no avail. I invited T o m l i n s o n to c o m e on t h e air to discuss t h e issues publicly. He declined, but he did go on F o x News to deny t h a t he was following a W h i t e House m a n d a t e or t h a t he had ever had any conversations with any Bush ad-

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ministration official about P B S . B u t The New York Times reported t h a t h e had enlisted t h e h e l p o f Karl R o v e t o h e l p kill o n e proposal affecting t h e C P B board and t h a t "on t h e r e c o m m e n d a t i o n o f administration officials" had hired a W h i t e House flack n a m e d Mary C a t h e r i n e Andrews as a senior C P B staff member. W h i l e she was still reporting to Karl R o v e at t h e W h i t e House, M s . Andrews set up C P B ' s n e w ombudsman's office and had a h a n d in hiring t h e two people w h o will fill it, o n e of w h o m o n c e worked for . . . K e n n e t h T o m l i n s o n . I would like to give M r . T o m l i n s o n t h e benefit of t h e doubt, but I c a n ' t . A c c o r d i n g to a b o o k written about Reader's Digest w h e n he was its editor in chief, he surrounded h i m s e l f with o t h e r right-wingers—a pattern he's now following at t h e C o r p o r a t i o n for Public Broadcasting. As everyone n o w knows, he also put up a considerable sum of public funds, reportedly more t h a n $5 million, for a new weekly broadcast featuring t h e editorial board of The Wall Street Journal and its editor, Paul G i g o t . I had G i g o t on N O W as a guest several times and e v e n proposed t h a t he b e c o m e a regular c o n t r i b u t o r to t h e broadcast. B u t I confess to some puzzlement t h a t T h e Wall Street Journal, w h i c h o v e r t h e years had editorialized to cut P B S off from t h e public tap, would n o w be subsidized by A m e r i c a n taxpayers although its parent company, Dow J o n e s , had revenues in just t h e first quarter of this year of $ 4 0 0 million. I had always thought public television was an alternative to c o m m e r c i a l media, n o t a funder of it. B u t in this weird deal, you get a glimpse of t h e kind of programming preferred by t h e very partisan a n d ideological K e n n e t h T o m l i n s o n . A l o n e of t h e big major newspapers, The Wall Street Journal has no op-ed page where different o p i n i o n s c a n c o m p e t e with its right-wing editorials. ( G i g o t would bring this p r a c t i c e to The Wall Street Journal's n e w P B S broadcast, where right-wingers talked only to e a c h other.) T h e r e ' s more. Two weeks ago we learned t h a t T o m l i n s o n had spent $ 1 0 , 0 0 0 last year to hire o n e of his pals w h o would w a t c h my show and report o n political bias. T h a t ' s right. T h e c h a i r m a n o f C P B spent $ 1 0 , 0 0 0 of your m o n e y to find out w h o my guests were and what my stories were.

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T e n thousand dollars. G e e , K e n , for $ 2 . 5 0 a week, you could p i c k up a copy of TV Guide on t h e newsstand. A subscription is e v e n cheaper, and I would h a v e sent you a c o u p o n t h a t c a n save you up to 62 percent. For that matter, all you had to do was w a t c h t h e show yourself. Or you could h a v e g o n e o n l i n e where t h e listings are posted. H e l l , you could h a v e called m e — c o l l e c t — a n d I would h a v e told you. B u t having paid s o m e o n e else to find out for h i m , w h a t did he learn? O n l y Mr. T o m l i n s o n knows. He decided n o t to share t h e results with his staff or his board. T h e public paid for t h e monitoring, but K e n T o m l i n son acts as if he owns it. In a r e c e n t op-ed p i e c e in t h e conservative Washington Times, he m a i n t a i n e d t h a t he had n o t released t h e findings because he did n o t w a n t to "damage public broadcasting's image with controversy." W h e r e I c o m e from in Texas, we shovel t h a t kind of stuff every day. As we learned just this week, that's n o t t h e only news Mr. T o m l i n son tried to keep to himself. It turns out t h a t C P B c o m m i s s i o n e d two surveys designed to probe what people t h i n k about public broadcasting. W h e n t h e surveys were c o m p l e t e d , however, they were n o t released to t h e m e d i a — n o t e v e n t o P B S and N P R ! A c c o r d i n g t o a source who talked to S a l o n . c o m , " t h e first results were t o o good and [Tomlinson] didn't b e l i e v e t h e m . After t h e Iraq W a r , t h e board c o m m i s s i o n e d ano t h e r round of polling and they t h o u g h t they'd get worse results." B u t they didn't. T h e data revealed t h a t public broadcasting has a n 8 0 p e r c e n t favorable rating and t h a t " t h e majority o f t h e U . S . adult population does n o t b e l i e v e t h a t t h e news and information programming on public broadcasting is biased." M o r e t h a n h a l f believed P B S provided more in-depth and trustworthy news and information t h a n t h e networks and 55 perc e n t said P B S was "fair and b a l a n c e d . " N o w consider this: K e n T o m l i n s o n was t h e m a n running t h e V o i c e o f A m e r i c a b a c k i n 1 9 8 4 w h e n a R e p u b l i c a n partisan n a m e d C h a r l i e W i c k was politicizing t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s Information A g e n c y ( o f w h i c h V o i c e of A m e r i c a was a p a r t ) . S o m e o n e h i g h up developed a blacklist of

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n a m e s t h a t h a d b e e n r e m o v e d from t h e list o f p r o m i n e n t A m e r i c a n s sent abroad t o lecture o n b e h a l f o f A m e r i c a and t h e U S I A . A m o n g those on the lists of journalists, writers, scholars, and politicians were dangerous subversives like W a l t e r C r o n k i t e , J a m e s Baldwin, G a r y Hart, R a l p h Nader, B e n Bradlee, C o r e t t a S c o t t King, and David Brinkley. W h a t ' s more, more t h a n seven hundred d o c u m e n t s h a d b e e n shredded t h a t c o n t a i n e d e v i d e n c e as to h o w those people were c h o s e n to be blacklisted. T h e right-winger w h o t o o k t h e fall for t h e blacklist resigned. S h o r t l y thereafter, s o did K e n n e t h T o m l i n s o n , w h o had b e e n o n e o f t h e people in the agency w i t h t h e authority to see t h e lists of potential speakers and allowed to strike people's names. L e t me be clear about this: there is no record, apparently, of what K e n T o m l i n s o n did. W e don't k n o w w h e t h e r h e supported o r protested the blacklisting o f s o m a n y A m e r i c a n liberals. O r w h a t h e t h i n k s o f it now. B u t I had hoped B i l l O ' R e i l l y would h a v e asked h i m about this w h e n T o m l i n s o n appeared on The O'Reilly Factor this week. He didn't. Instead, with O ' R e i l l y egging h i m o n , T o m l i n s o n kept up his attacks on me, denying all t h e time t h a t he was carrying out a partisan m a n d a t e despite published reports to t h e contrary. T h e only t i m e you could be sure T o m l i n s o n was telling t h e truth was a t t h e e n d o f t h e broadcast w h e n h e said to O'Reilly, " W e love your show." " W e love your show." No kidding! T h e r e is o n e o t h e r thing in particular I wanted to ask T o m l i n s o n . In an op-ed essay this w e e k in The Washington Times, he tells of a p h o n e call from an old friend c o m p l a i n i n g about bias on public t e l e v i s i o n — about Moyers in particular. T o m l i n s o n wrote: " T h e friend explained that the foundation he heads made a six-figure c o n t r i b u t i o n to his local public television station for digital conversion. B u t he declared there would be no m o r e c o n t r i b u t i o n s until s o m e t h i n g was d o n e about t h e network's bias." Apparently that's K e n n e t h Tomlinson's desired m e t h o d of govern a n c e . M o n e y talks, stations grovel.

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I would ask h i m to listen to a different v o i c e . T h i s letter c a m e to me last year from a w o m a n in N e w York—five h a n d w r i t t e n pages. S h e said, among o t h e r things, t h a t "After t h e worst sneak a t t a c k in our history, there's n o t b e e n a m o m e n t to reflect, a m o m e n t to let t h e horror resonate, a m o m e n t to feel t h e pain and regroup as h u m a n s . N o , since I lost my husband on 9 / 1 1 , n o t only our family's world, but t h e whole world seems to h a v e g o t t e n e v e n worse t h a n t h a t tragic day." S h e told me h e r husband h a d n o t b e e n on duty t h a t day. " H e was h o m e with me h a v i n g coffee. My daughter and grandson, living o n l y five b l o c k s from t h e Towers, h a d to be evacuated with masks—terror all around . . . my o t h e r daughter, n e a r t h e B r o o k l y n Bridge . . . my son in h i g h s c h o o l . B u t my C h a r l i e took off like a lightning b o l t to be with his m e n from t h e S p e c i a l O p e r a t i o n s C o m m a n d . ' B r i n g my gear to t h e plaza,' he told his aide immediately after t h e first plane struck t h e N o r t h T o w e r . . . H e t o o k a c t i o n based o n t h e responsibility h e felt for his j o b and his m e n and for those Towers t h a t he loved." I n t h e Fire D e p a r t m e n t o f N e w York, she c o n t i n u e d , chain-ofc o m m a n d rules e x t e n d to every c a p t a i n of every firehouse in t h e city. " I f a n y t h i n g happens in t h e firehouse—at any t i m e — e v e n if t h e c a p t a i n isn't on duty or on v a c a t i o n — t h a t c a p t a i n is responsible for everything t h a t goes on there 2 4 / 7 . " T h e n she asked: " W h y is this administration responsible for n o t h i n g ? A l l t h a t t h e y do is pass t h e b l a m e . T h i s is n o t leadership . . . W a t c h everyone pass t h e b l a m e again in this r e c e n t torture case [ A b u G h r a i b ] o f Iraqi prisons . . . " A n d t h e n she wrote: " W e n e e d more programs t o wake A m e r i c a up . . . S u c h programs must c o n t i n u e amidst t h e sea of false images and n a m e calling t h a t divide A m e r i c a n o w . . . S u c h programs give us h o p e t h a t t h e search will c o n t i n u e t o get this imperfect h u m a n c o n d i t i o n o n to a h i g h e r p l a n e . So t h a n k you and all of those w h o work with you. W i t h o u t public broadcasting, all we would c a l l news would be merely carefully c o n t r o l l e d propaganda." E n c l o s e d with t h e letter was a c h e c k made out t o " C h a n n e l 1 3 — N O W " for $ 5 0 0 .

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I k e e p a copy of that c h e c k above my desk to remind me w h o I am working for. J o h n S t e i n b e c k o n c e wrote: " T h e r e used to be a thing or a c o m m o d ity we put great store by. It was c a l l e d t h e people." K e n n e t h T o m l i n s o n has his demanding donors. I'll take t h e widow's m i t e any day.

Kenneth Tomlinson resigned from the C P B Board of Directors on November 3, 2 0 0 5 , one day after CPB's inspector general released a scathing report critical of his leadership and alleging that he violated agency procedures, federal laws, and the Director's Code of Ethics. Among other things, the inspector general found that Tomlinson had been strongly motivated by political ideology and used "political tests" as a major criteria to recruit a president and chief executive officer for C P B in violation of statutory prohibitions against such tests.

2 2 . | P E N G U I N S AND T H E POLITICS OF DENIAL Annual Society

Conference

of

of

Environmental

O C T O B E R

the journalists

2005

1,

The fiercest critics on the Right have labeled people like me apologists for a disastrous war and a failed administration,

"Bush haters." As it's

the

best they

can do. Truth is, I don't know George W. Bush well enough to hate him. I have never even met him.

And hatred is a poison whose first victim is

the

hater; it's no way to spend your energy or day. N o , the emotion I feel observing this administration is sadness.

The president has

turned the

Oval Office

into a cocoon where a war is hatched from fiction, people struggling to make a living are more

invisible,

dangerous

Bush presidency,

and the future

than when it is

doesn't count.

A government is

separated from reality.

Six years

the writer Bill McKibben remarked that it is possible

never

into

the

to for-

get just how radical the group of men and women running our country really is.

Their perceptions of the

as

McKibben puts

it,

world are without roots in lived experience,

"they've

changed

the

setting for our political

life

and, so

MOYERS

comprehensively shaking. " the

DEMOCRACY

that indignation slowly gives

way

Exhibit number one for McKibben,

environment,

change.

ON

is

Despite

the

administration's

the steady to

take

At

the

U.S.

ments—even more

conferences

to

address

the

delegation was ered faxes,

of the

the

environment—was

led by

quoted

Think about it:

Harlan Watson,

by

the

McKibben,

U.S.

the

of climate

at

crisis.

The

any

to

agree-

Americans

walked

speak.

who got his job, the

"forceful

toward

new

Bill Clinton—not exactly allowed

of repre-

larger steps

opposed

of the

thwart every

Montreal conference

delegation

meeting when former president

subject

the facts

which aimed to take

emissions,

on

toward

the administration has tried to

controlling carbon of the

to a kind of numbed head-

who is noted for his writing on

hostility

it seriously.

sentatives from the developed world,

out

285

outpouring of scientific data pointing to one

greatest threats in human history, international effort

|

a radical

Our government's

according to uncov-

urging

of ExxonMobil."

representative on global warming in fact was repre-

senting the petrochemical giant

that has

long cast global warming as a myth

and has spent large sums of money to discredit the science that confirms the threat.

God only knows

the consequences of this refusal to face the facts be-

cause they will come due after George W. successors nately,

to

many

wrestle

with

Bush has gone home,

consequences

of his denial

in his own base of evangelical Christians

president over

this

issue.

White

and

its

House

the In the

network

last

two years,

of right-wing

leaving his

of reality.

have

Fortu-

broken with the

despite opposition from the

religious

operatives,

evangelical leaders have signed on to a major initiative

scores

of

to fight global warm-

ing as an act of stewardship for the earth. As I said in this speech to the Society

of Environmental Journalists,

faithful

believers

are

desperately

needed

if we are to close the gap between policy and reality.

***

T h a n k you for c o u n t i n g me as a colleague. I don't fit neatly into t h e j o b description of an e n v i r o n m e n t a l journalist although I h a v e returned to t h e b e a t ever s i n c e my first documentary on t h e subject some thirty years ago. T h a t was a story about h o w t h e R e p u b l i c a n governor of O r e g o n , T o m M c C a l l , set out t o prove t h a t t h e e c o n o m y and t h e e n v i r o n m e n t could share t h e c e n t e r lane on t h e highway to t h e future. T h o s e were optimistic years for t h e emerging e n v i r o n m e n t a l m o v e -

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merit. R a c h e l C a r s o n had rattled t h e cage with Silent Spring, and on t h e first E a r t h Day in 1 9 7 0 twenty m i l l i o n A m e r i c a n s rose from t h e grass roots to speak for t h e planet. E v e n R i c h a r d N i x o n couldn't say no to so powerful a subpoena by public opinion, and he put his signature to some far-reaching measures for e n v i r o n m e n t a l protection. I shared t h a t optimism and believed journalism would help to fulfill it. I thought t h a t w h e n people saw a good e x a m p l e they would imitate it, t h a t if A m e r i c a n s k n e w t h e facts and possibilities they would a c t on t h e m . After all, h a l f a century ago as a student I had walked every day across t h e campus of t h e University of Texas and could look up at t h e inscription o n t h e m a i n tower: TRUTH SHALL SET YOU FREE.

YOU SHALL KNOW THE TRUTH AND T H E

I believed we were really o n t h e way toward

t h e third A m e r i c a n R e v o l u t i o n . T h e first had w o n our i n d e p e n d e n c e as a n a t i o n . T h e second h a d finally opened the promise of civil rights to all A m e r i c a n s . N o w t h e third A m e r i c a n R e v o l u t i o n was t o b e t h e G r e e n R e v o l u t i o n for a healthy, safe, and sustainable future. S o m e t i m e s in a m o m e n t of reverie I imagine t h a t it happened. I imagine t h a t we had brought forth a new paradigm for nurturing and protecting our global life-support system, t h a t we had faced up to t h e greatest ecological c h a l l e n g e in h u m a n history and conquered it with c l e a n renewable energy, efficient transportation and agriculture, and t h e n o n t o x i c production and p r o t e c t i o n of our forests, o c e a n s , grasslands, and wetlands. I imagine us leading t h e world on a new path of sustainability. A l a s , it is only a reverie. R a t h e r t h a n leading t h e world in finding solutions to t h e global e n v i r o n m e n t a l crises, t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s is a rec a l c i t r a n t naysayer and backslider. O u r g o v e r n m e n t and its corporate allies h a v e turned against A m e r i c a ' s e n v i r o n m e n t a l visionaries. T h e y h a v e set out to eviscerate just about every significant gain of t h e past generation, and while they are at it they h a v e managed to b l a m e t h e env i r o n m e n t a l m o v e m e n t itself for t h e failure o f t h e G r e e n R e v o l u t i o n . I f e n v i r o n m e n t a l i s m isn't dead, they say, it should b e . A n d they will gladly lead t h e cortege to t h e grave. Yes, I know: t h e e n v i r o n m e n t a l c o m m u n i t y has stumbled on many

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fronts. A l l of us in this r o o m h a v e heard and reported t h e charges

that

t h e rhetoric is alarmist and t h e ideology polarizing; t h a t c o m m a n d - a n d control

regulation produces bureaucratic

bungles,

slows

economic

growth, and delays t e c h n o l o g i c a l advances t h a t save lives; that what b e gan as a grassroots m o v e m e n t has n o w b e c o m e an e n t r e n c h e d green bureaucracy precariously hanging on

in o c c u p i e d W a s h i n g t o n while

passionate citizens across t h e country are starved for financial resources. T h e r e is some truth in these charges; all m o v e m e n t s flounder and must periodically regroup. Before we consider t h e case closed, however, let me urge you to take a hard l o o k at t h e b a c k l a s h . If the G r e e n R e v o l u t i o n is a bloody pulp today, it is n o t just because t h e e n v i r o n m e n t a l m o v e m e n t mugged itself. It is because t h e corporate, political, and religious R i g h t ganged up on it. Big c o m p a n i e s fund a relentless assault on green values and policies. P o litical ideologues press countless campaigns to strip from g o v e r n m e n t all its functions e x c e p t those t h a t reward their r i c h benefactors. A n d t h e religious R i g h t is more obsessed with demonizing gay people t h a n with saving Earth. I failed to r e c k o n w i t h h o w ruthless t h e reactionaries would b e . W h a t t h e c h e m i c a l c o m p a n i e s did t o R a c h e l C a r s o n w h e n Silent Spring appeared in 1 9 6 2 has b e e n h o n e d to a sharp edge aimed at t h e jugular of a n y o n e who c h a l l e n g e s t h e m . A n a n t i e n v i r o n m e n t a l crowd n o w runs t h e g o v e r n m e n t . President B u s h has turned t h e agencies charged with e n v i r o n m e n t a l p r o t e c t i o n over t o people w h o don't b e l i e v e i n it. T o manage t h e D e p a r t m e n t o f t h e Interior he c h o s e a l o n g t i m e defender of polluters w h o has opposed laws to safeguard wildlife, habitat, and public lands. To run t h e Forest S e r v i c e he c h o s e a timber-industry lobbyist. To oversee our public lands he n a m e d a mining-industry lobbyist w h o believes public lands are u n c o n stitutional. To run t h e Superfund he c h o s e a w o m a n w h o made a living advising corporate polluters how to evade t h e Superfund. A n d in t h e W h i t e House Office of E n v i r o n m e n t a l Policy t h e president placed a lobbyist from t h e A m e r i c a n P e t r o l e u m Institute whose mission was to make sure t h e government's scientific reports on global warming didn't c o n t r a -

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dict t h e party line and t h e interest of oil c o m p a n i e s . Everywhere you look, t h e foxes occupy t h e c h i c k e n c o o p . N o , if t h e e n v i r o n m e n t a l m o v e m e n t is p r o n o u n c e d dead, it w o n ' t be from self-inflicted wounds. W e don't b l a m e slavery o n t h e slaves, t h e Trail o f Tears o n t h e C h e r o k e e s , o r t h e S r e b r e n i c a massacre o n t h e bodies i n t h e grave. T h e l e t h a l threat t o t h e e n v i r o n m e n t a l m o v e m e n t c o m e s from t h e predatory power o f m o n e y and t h e pathological e n m i t y of ideology. T h e o d o r e R o o s e v e l t warned a century ago of the subversive influe n c e of m o n e y o v e r public policy. He said t h e c e n t r a l fact in his t i m e was t h a t big business h a d b e c o m e so d o m i n a n t it would c h e w up d e m o c r a c y and spit it out. T h e power of corporations, he said, h a d to be b a l a n c e d with t h e interest of t h e general public. B u t a hundred years later corporations are o n c e again t h e undisputed overlords of g o v e r n m e n t . Follow t h e m o n e y and you are inside t h e i n n e r s a n c t u m of t h e Business R o u n d table, t h e N a t i o n a l A s s o c i a t i o n o f Manufacturers, and t h e A m e r i c a n Petroleum Institute. As a result, A m e r i c a , o n c e t h e leader in cutting-edge e n v i r o n m e n t a l policies and t e c h n o l o g i e s and awareness, is n o w eclipsed. As t h e scientific e v i d e n c e grows about global warming, our g o v e r n m e n t has b e c o m e an i m p e d i m e n t to a c t i o n , n o t a leader. Earlier this year t h e W h i t e House e v e n c o n d u c t e d a n extraordinary secret c a m p a i g n t o scupper t h e B r i t i s h government's a t t e m p t to t a c k l e global warming—and t h e n to u n d e r m i n e t h e U n i t e d N a t i o n ' s effort to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions. President Bush's failure to lead on global warming m e a n s t h a t e v e n if we were dramatically to decrease greenhouse gases o v e r n i g h t we h a v e already c o n d e m n e d ourselves and generations to c o m e to a warming planet. You surely saw those reports a few days ago t h a t t h e A r c t i c has suffered a n o t h e r record loss of sea i c e . T h i s summer, satellites m o n i t o r i n g t h e region found t h a t i c e r e a c h e d its lowest m o n t h l y p o i n t on r e c o r d — t h e fourth year in a row it has fallen below t h e m o n t h l y downward trend. T h e a n t i c i p a t e d effects are well k n o w n : as t h e A r c t i c region absorbs more h e a t from t h e sun, causing t h e ice to m e l t still further, t h e relentless c y c l e of m e l t i n g and h e a t i n g will shrink t h e massive land glaciers of

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G r e e n l a n d and dramatically raise sea levels. S c i e n t i s t s said that w i t h this n e w a c c e p t a t i o n of m e l t t h e n o r t h e r n h e m i s p h e r e may h a v e crossed a critical threshold beyond w h i c h t h e c l i m a t e c a n n o t recover. N o n e t h e l e s s , last year a Gallup poll found t h a t nearly h a l f of A m e r icans worry "only a little" or "not at all" about global warming or t h e greenhouse effect. I n July o f this year, A B C News reported t h a t 6 6 perc e n t of t h e people in a n e w survey said they don't t h i n k global warming will affect their lives. D e n i a l is t h e only e x p l a n a t i o n for t h e gap b e t w e e n t h e t h r e a t and t h e response. If you've seen t h e film March of the Penguins, you k n o w it is a delight to t h e eye and a tug at t h e heart. T h e c a m e r a follows t h e flocks as they trek b a c k and forth over t h e ice to t h e i r breeding ground. You see t h e m huddle together to protect their eggs in temperatures t h a t average seventy degrees below zero F a h r e n h e i t . So powerful and beautiful a film c a n only increase one's awe of our small neighbors in t h e frozen regions. In The New York Times recently, J o n a t h a n M i l l e r reported t h a t some religious conservatives are invoking March of the Penguins as an inspirat i o n for t h e i r various causes. S o m e praise t h e penguins for t h e i r m o n o g amy. O p p o n e n t s of a b o r t i o n say it verifies " t h e beauty of life and t h e rightness of protecting it." A C h r i s t i a n magazine claims it makes "a strong case for intelligent design." For a while, on a conservative W e b site you could find instructions to take a n o t e b o o k , flashlight, and p e n to t h e t h e a t e r "to write down what G o d speaks to you" as you w a t c h t h e film. Fair enough. It would n o t be t h e first t i m e h u m a n beings felt c o n n e c t e d to a transcendental power through nature. B u t w h a t you will n o t find in t h e film is any reference to global warming. W h y is it relevant? Because to reproduce, t h e penguins must go to t h e t h i c k e s t part of t h e ice where they c a n safely stand without fear it will break b e n e a t h t h e i r weight. G l o b a l warming obviously weakens t h e ice. If it b e c o m e s t o o thin, t h e penguins will lose t h e support necessary for reproduction. Yet t h e film is silent on this threat to these little creatures conservatives h a v e t a k e n as t h e i r mascots in t h e culture wars. T h e film's director e x plained t h a t he wanted to r e a c h as m a n y people as possible and s i n c e

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" m u c h of public o p i n i o n appears insensitive to t h e dangers of global warming," he didn't w a n t to go t h e r e . A g a i n , fair enough. I c a n ' t fault h i m for t h e aspiration to tell t h e story for its o w n sake, in t h e simplest and most profound way. I c a n ' t fault h i m for wanting to avoid disturbing t h e comfort of viewers. I often wish t h a t I were a filmmaker instead of a journalist and didn't h a v e to give people a h e a d a c h e by reporting t h e news they'd rather n o t hear. B u t what we don't k n o w c a n kill us. I k n o w s o m e t h i n g about denial. O u r oldest son is addicted to a l c o h o l and drugs. I'm n o t spilling any family secrets here; my wife, Judith, and I produced a P B S series based on our family's e x p e r i e n c e , Close to Home, because we wanted to r e m i n d people t h a t addiction h i j a c k s t h e brain irrespective of race, creed, color, or street address. He's doing well, t h a n k you—he's b e e n in recovery for t e n years now a n d has b e c o m e o n e of t h e country's leading public advocates for t r e a t m e n t . B u t we almost lost h i m more t h a n o n c e because he was in denial and so were we. For a decade prior to his crash he would n o t admit to h i m s e l f what was happening, and he was able to hide it from us; he was, after all, a rising star in journalism, married, a h o m e o w n e r , and a faithful churchgoer. N a t u rally we believed t h e best about h i m . A drug addict, slowly poisoning h i m s e l f to death? N o t our son! T h e day before he crashed I was c o n c e r n e d about his b e h a v i o r and asked h i m to l u n c h . " A r e you in trouble?" I asked. " A r e you using?" He looked me squarely in t h e eyes and said, " N o , Dad, n o t at all. Just a few problems at h o m e . " " W e l l , " I said, placing my h a n d on his, " I ' m really glad to h e a r that." A n d I switched t h e subject. T h e n e x t day he was g o n e . We searched for days before his m o t h e r and a friend tracked h i m down and c o a x e d h i m from a c r a c k house to t h e hospital. D e n i a l almost cost us our son. T h e y say denial is n o t a river in Egypt. It is, however, t h e governing philosophy in W a s h i n g t o n . T h e president's c o n t e m p t for e v i d e n c e is mind-boggling. H e r e is a m a n w h o was quick to l a u n c h a "preventative war" against Iraq on faulty i n t e l l i g e n c e and premature j u d g m e n t but w h o refuses to take preventive a c t i o n against a truly global m e n a c e about w h i c h t h e scientific e v i d e n c e is overwhelming.

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Unfortunately, t h e people in his c o r e c o n s t i t u e n c y who could most effectively call on this president to lead h a v e b e e n largely silent. I m e a n t h e C h r i s t i a n conservatives who gave President Bush fifteen m i l l i o n votes i n 2 0 0 0 and maybe twenty m i l l i o n i n 2 0 0 4 . S o m e o f these C h r i s tian conservatives are implacable. T h e y h a v e given their proxies to t h e televangelists, pastors, and preachers who h a v e signed on with t h e R e publican Party and turned their faith into a political religion, a weapon of partisan conflict. B u t millions of these people believe they are here on E a r t h to serve a h i g h e r moral power, n o t a partisan agenda. T h e y overwhelmingly respond to natural disasters like last year's tsunami or t h e A I D S crisis in Africa by o p e n i n g wide t h e i r hearts and wallets. Unfortunately, although many of t h e m may believe C h r i s t i a n s h a v e a m o r a l obligation to protect God's creation, most remain uninformed about t h e true scope of t h e e n v i r o n m e n t a l crisis. As a result, they typically v o t e t h e i r c o n sciences on social issues rather t h a n e n v i r o n m e n t a l ones. Listen to this anguished moral missive from J o e l Gillespie, a conservative C h r i s t i a n who recently wrote to On Earth magazine:

I'll admit that when I pushed the button for President Bush, I did so with some sadness, given his dismal environmental record. But many of us who love the natural world . .. feel we face an almost impossible either-or predicament. Voting for pro-environmental candidates usually means voting for a package of other policies that we will never swallow. We're forced to choose unborn babies or endangered species, traditional marriage or habitat protection, cleaning up the smut that comes across the airwaves or the smut that fouls our air. And the fact that we are forced to make such choices has harmed the natural environment and the special places we love and cherish.

M a n y evangelical Christians share Gillespie's dilemma. T h e y n e e d to be challenged to look m o r e closely at their moral c h o i c e s — t o c o n sider w h e t h e r it is possible to be pro-life while also being anti-Earth. If

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you b e l i e v e uncompromisingly in t h e tight of every baby to be b o r n safely i n t o this world, c a n you at t h e same t i m e a b a n d o n t h e future of t h a t child, allowing its h e a l t h and safety to be compromised by a gove r n m e n t t h a t gives corporations l i c e n s e to poison our bodies and t h e environment? During t h e Terri S c h i a v o right-to-die case last spring, President B u s h said, "It is wise to always err on t h e side of life." He pleaded for a "culture o f life." B u t b y ignoring t h e counsel o f thousands o f e n v i r o n m e n t a l scientists, t h e president is n o t erring on t h e side of life. He is playing dice with our children's future—dice t h a t we h a v e likely loaded against our own species, and perhaps against all life on Earth. T h e r e is a market h e r e for journalists w h o are hungry for n e w readers. T h e c o n s e r v a t i v e C h r i s t i a n audience is some fifty m i l l i o n readers strong. B u t t o r e a c h t h e m , w e h a v e t o understand s o m e t h i n g o f their b e lief systems. R e v e r e n d J i m B a l l o f t h e E v a n g e l i c a l E n v i r o n m e n t a l N e t w o r k , for e x a m p l e , tells us "creation-care is starting to resonate n o t just with evangelical progressives but with conservatives w h o are at t h e c e n t e r of t h e e v a n g e l i c a l spectrum." Last year, in a d o c u m e n t entitled "For t h e H e a l t h o f t h e N a t i o n : A n E v a n g e l i c a l C a l l t o C i v i c Responsibility," t h e N a t i o n a l A s s o c i a t i o n o f Evangelicals declared t h a t our B i b l e "implies t h e principle of sustainability: our uses of the E a r t h must be designed to c o n serve and r e n e w t h e E a r t h rather t h a n to deplete or destroy it." In what m i g h t h a v e c o m e from t h e Sierra C l u b itself, t h e d e c l a r a t i o n urged "gove r n m e n t to encourage fuel efficiency, reduce pollution, encourage sust a i n a b l e use of natural resources, and provide for t h e proper care of wildlife and t h e i r natural habitats." Ball and a few e v a n g e l i c a l leaders h a v e also pushed for adding a c l i m a t e c h a n g e plank to their program, standing up to n o - n o t h i n g s like J a m e s D o b s o n , Jerry Falwell, and Pat Robertson. B u t we c a n ' t e x p e c t to engage this vast conservative C h r i s t i a n audie n c e with journalism's standard style of reporting. E n v i r o n m e n t a l journ a l i s m has always spoken in t h e language of e n v i r o n m e n t a l s c i e n c e . B u t evangelicals and Pentecostals speak and t h i n k in a different language.

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T h e i r s is p o e t i c and metaphorical: a speech a n c h o r e d in t h e truth of t h e B i b l e as they read it. T h e i r moral a c t i o n s are guided n o t by t h e newest I n t e r g o v e r n m e n t a l P a n e l o n C l i m a t e C h a n g e report b u t b y t h e books o f M a t t h e w , M a r k , Luke, and J o h n . Here's a n important statistic t o ponder: 4 5 p e r c e n t o f A m e r i c a n s hold a c r e a t i o n a l view of t h e world, discounting Darwin's theory of evolution. I don't t h i n k it is a c o i n c i d e n c e t h e n t h a t in a n a t i o n where nearly h a l f our people b e l i e v e in creationism, m u c h of t h e populace also doubts t h e e v i d e n c e o f c l i m a t e c h a n g e s c i e n c e . C o n t r a s t t h a t t o o t h e r industrial n a t i o n s where c l i m a t e c h a n g e s c i e n c e is o v e r w h e l m ingly a c c e p t e d as truth; in Britain, for e x a m p l e , where 81 p e r c e n t of t h e populace wants t h e g o v e r n m e n t to a c t boldly on t h e threat to Earth. It is simply t h a t millions of C h r i s t i a n s read t h e story of G e n e s i s to dismiss or distrust a l o t of s c i e n c e — n o t only evolution, but paleontology, archaeology, geology, genetics, e v e n biology and botany. To those C h r i s tians w h o b e l i e v e that our history began with A d a m and E v e in t h e G a r d e n of E d e n and t h a t it will e n d soon on t h e plains of A r m a g e d d o n , e n v i r o n m e n t a l s c i e n c e with its urgent e v i d e n c e of planetary peril must l o o k at best irrelevant. At worst t h e e n v i r o n m e n t a l woes we report may be stoically viewed as t h e i n e v i t a b l e playing out of t h e end of t i m e as presented i n t h e b o o k o f R e v e l a t i o n . F o r C h r i s t i a n dominionists w h o believe t h e Lord will provide for all h u m a n needs and n e v e r leave us short of oil or o t h e r resources, no m a t t e r h o w we overpopulate t h e Earth, our reporting may be viewed as a direct a t t a c k on biblical t e a c h ings t h a t urge humans "to be fruitful and multiply." It's e v e n possible t h a t a m o n g m a n y of these religious conservatives, our e n v i r o n m e n t a l r e p o r t i n g — i f they see it at a l l — c o u l d seem arrogant in its assumptions, m e c h a n i s t i c , c o l d , and godless in its worldview. T h a t ' s a tough indictm e n t , but o n e t h a t must be faced if we want to understand h o w people get their news. If I were a freelance journalist looking to offer a major p i e c e on global warming to these people, h o w would I go about it? I wouldn't give up fact-based analysis, of c o u r s e — t h e e t h i c a l obligation of journalists is to ground w h a t we report in e v i d e n c e . B u t I would tell some of my sto-

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ries with an ear for spiritual language, t h e language of parable, for t h a t is t h e language of faith. Let's say I w a n t e d to write a p i e c e about t h e millions of species t h a t m i g h t be put on t h e toad to e x t i n c t i o n by global warming. R e p o r t i n g t h a t story to a scientific audience, I would talk s c i e n c e : tell h o w a species d e c i m a t e d by c l i m a t e c h a n g e could r e a c h a p o i n t of no return w h e n its g e n e pool b e c o m e s too depleted to m a i n t a i n its evolutionary adaptability. S u c h g e n e t i c i m p o v e r i s h m e n t c a n eventually lead to e x t i n c t i o n . B u t how to r e a c h C h r i s t i a n s w h o doubt evolution? H o w would I get t h e m to hear me? I might interview a scientist w h o is also a person of faith and ask h o w he or she would frame t h e subject in a way to engage t h e a t t e n t i o n of o t h e r believers. I m i g h t interview a minister w h o would c o u c h t h e work of today's c l i m a t e and biodiversity scientists in a biblical m e t a p h o r : t h e story o f N o a h and t h e Flood, for o n e . T h e parallels o f this parable are wonderful to behold. B o t h scientists a n d N o a h possess knowledge of a potentially impending global catastrophe. T h e y try to spread t h e word, to warn t h e world, but are laughed at, ridiculed. You c a n almost h e a r some Philistine telling old N o a h he is n o t h i n g but a "gloom and d o o m " e n v i r o n m e n t a l i s t , spreading his tale o f abrupt c l i m a t e c h a n g e , of a great flood t h a t will drown t h e world, of t h e impending e x t i n c t i o n of h u m a n i t y and animals if no o n e acts. B u t n o o n e does act, and N o a h c o n t i n u e s hearing t h e v o i c e o f G o d : "You are to bring into t h e ark two of all living creatures, male and fem a l e , t o keep t h e m alive with you." N o a h does a s G o d c o m m a n d s . H e agrees to save n o t only his own family but to take on t h e daunting task of rescuing all t h e biodiversity of E a r t h . He builds t h e ark a n d is ridiculed as mad. He gathers two of every species, t h e c l i m a t e does c h a n g e , t h e deluge c o m e s as predicted. Everyone n o t safely aboard drowns. B u t N o a h and t h e ark's c o m p l e t e c o m p l e m e n t o f Earth's animals live o n . You've seen depictions of t h e m disembarking b e n e a t h a rainbow, two by two, t h e giraffes and hippos, horses and zebras. N o a h , t h e n , c a n be s e e n as t h e first great preservationist, preventing the first great e x t i n c t i o n . He did e x a c t l y what wildlife biologists a n d climatologists are trying

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to do today: to a c t on t h e i r moral c o n v i c t i o n s to conserve diversity, to protect God's c r e a t i o n in t h e face of a flood of consumerism and indifference by a materialistic world. S o m e of you are no doubt uncomfortable with my parable. N o w you k n o w e x a c t l y h o w a C h r i s t i a n who believes devoutly in c r e a t i o n i s m feels w h e n we journalists write about t h e genetics born of Darwin. If we don't understand h o w they see t h e world, if we c a n ' t empathize with e a c h person's n e e d to grasp a h u m a n p r o b l e m in language of faith, t h e n we will likely fail to r e a c h m a n y C h r i s t i a n s who h a v e a sense of morality and justice as strong as a n y o n e else's. A n d we will h a v e done little to head off t h e sixth great e x t i n c t i o n . T h e r e is s o m e t h i n g else we should also be doing. We are journalists first, and trying to reach o n e important audience doesn't m e a n we abandon o t h e r audiences. N o r does it relieve us of our responsibility for oldfashioned muckraking. As a reminder of strong fact-based reporting, let's go b a c k to A m e r i c a ' s first G i l d e d A g e just over a hundred years ago. T h a t was a t i m e like now. Gross materialism and political corruption engulfed t h e country. Big business bought t h e g o v e r n m e n t right out from under t h e people. Outraged at t h e abuse of power, t h e publisher of M c Clure's Magazine cried out to his fellow journalists: " C a p i t a l i s t s . . . politicians . . . all breaking t h e law, or letting it be broken? T h e r e is no o n e left [to uphold it]: n o n e but all of us." T h e n s o m e t h i n g remarkable happened. T h e G i l d e d A g e b e c a m e t h e golden age of muckraking journalism. L i n c o l n Steffens plunged into t h e shame of t h e c i t i e s — i n t o a putrid urban cauldron of bribery, intimidation, and fraud, including voting roles padded with t h e n a m e s of dead dogs and dead p e o p l e — a n d his reporting sparked an era of electoral reform. N e l l i e B l y infiltrated a m e n t a l hospital, pretending to be insane, and wrote of t h e horrors she found there, arousing the public c o n s c i e n c e . J o h n Spargo disappeared into t h e b l a c k bowels of c o a l mines and c a m e b a c k to crusade against c h i l d labor. As he wrote in his 1 9 0 6 book, The Bitter Cry of Children, Spargo had found there little children

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alone in a dark mine passage hour after hour, with no human soul near; to see no living creature e x c e p t . . . a rat or two seeking to share one's meal; to stand in water or mud that covers the ankles, chilled to the marrow . . . to work for fourteen h o u r s . . . for sixty cents; to reach the surface when all is wrapped in the mantle of night, and to fall to the earth exhausted and have to be carried away to the nearest "shack" to be revived before it is possible to walk to the farther shack called "home."

U p t o n S i n c l a i r waded through h e l l and with "tears and anguish" wrote w h a t h e found o n t h a t arm o f t h e C h i c a g o R i v e r k n o w n a s " B u b bly C r e e k " o n t h e southern boundary o f the stockyards where

all the drainage of the square mile of packing houses empties into it, so that it is really a great open sewer. .. and the filth stays there forever and a day. T h e grease and chemicals that are poured into it undergo all sorts of strange transformations. . . bubbles of carbonic acid gas will rise to the surface and burst, and make rings two or three feet wide. Here and there the grease and filth have caked solid, and the creek looks like a bed of lava . .. the packers used to leave the creek that way, till every now and then the surface would catch on fire and burn furiously, and the fire department would have to come and put it out.

T h e G i l d e d A g e has returned with a v e n g e a n c e . W a s h i n g t o n is again a spectacle of corruption, crony capitalism, a n d an arrogance m a t c h e d only by dogmatism t h a t acts as if t h e r e is no tomorrow. B u t there is a tomorrow. I see it every t i m e I work at my desk. T h e r e , beside my computer, are photographs of Henry, T h o m a s , N a n c y , Jassie, and S a r a J a n e — m y grandchildren, ages fourteen and down. T h e y h a v e n o v o t e . T h e y h a v e n o party. T h e y h a v e n o lobbyists i n W a s h i n g t o n . T h e y h a v e o n l y you and m e — o u r pens and keyboards and m i c r o p h o n e s — t o seek a n d to speak and to publish what we c a n of how power works, how t h e world wags and w h o wags it. T h e powers t h a t be would h a v e us

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merely c o v e r t h e news; our c h a l l e n g e is to u n c o v e r t h e news they would keep hidden. M u c h is riding on your e n v i r o n m e n t a l journalism. You may be t h e last in our craft w h o try to inform t h e rest of us about t h e most c o m p l e x of issues involving t h e survival of life on E a r t h . Last year, on my weekly NOW with Bill Moyers, we produced a documentary episode called "Endangered S p e c i e s , " about a n e i g h b o r h o o d in W a s h i n g t o n , D . C . , k n o w n as A n a c o s t i a , just a few blocks from C a p i t o l Hill. It is o n e of t h e most v i o l e n t and dangerous neighborhoods in t h e city, o n e o f those places t h a t give W a s h i n g t o n t h e horrendous distinct i o n of t h e highest murder rate of any major city in t h e country. It's horrendous i n o t h e r ways, too. T h e A n a c o s t i a R i v e r t h a t gives t h e n e i g h b o r h o o d its n a m e is o n e of t h e most polluted in A m e r i c a ; more t h a n a billion gallons of raw sewage e n d up in it every year. We went there to report on t h e Earth C o n s e r v a t i o n Corps, a proje c t to recruit n e i g h b o r h o o d kids to help c l e a n up t h e river and c o m m u nity. For their efforts, they earn m i n i m u m wage, get h e a l t h insurance, and are offered a $ 5 , 0 0 0 scholarship if they go b a c k to s c h o o l . T h e area where they work is practically a war zone. S i n c e t h e proje c t began an average of o n e corps m e m b e r has b e e n murdered almost every year. O n e was b e a t e n to death. O n e was raped and killed. A n o t h e r died w h e n he was caught in t h e middle of a shooting while riding his b i k e . T h r e e were shot execution-style. O n e of t h e most charismatic of t h e kids w h o j o i n e d t h e corps was n a m e d D i a m o n d Teague. He worked so hard t h e others called h i m " C h o i r Boy." His work b e c a m e his passion. It gave purpose and meaning to his life to try and c l e a n up his n e i g h b o r h o o d and river. But o n e morning while he was sitting on his front p o r c h an assailant walked up and shot h i m i n t h e h e a d . It's t h a t k i n d of p l a c e , n o t far from where t h e swells of Congress are hosted and toasted by lobbyists for A m e r i c a ' s most powerful and privileged interests. After his death D i a m o n d Teague got t h e only press of his short life—thirty-one words in The Washington Post.

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A teenager was found fatally shot about 2:05 Thursday in the 2 2 0 0 block of Prout Place S W , police said. Diamond D. Teague, 19, who lived on the block, was pronounced dead.

T h a t ' s all. T h a t was D i a m o n d Teague's obit. N o t a word about his work for t h e Earth's C o n s e r v a t i o n Corps. N o t a word. It was left to his friends to tell t h e world about D i a m o n d Teague. O n e o f t h e m e x p l a i n e d t o u s t h a t they wanted people t o k n o w t h a t just because a b l a c k m a n gets killed in t h e southeast c o r n e r of t h e nation's capital, "he's n o t just a drug dealer or gangbanger .. . and n o t just disc o u n t h i m as nobody w h e n he deserves for people to k n o w h i m and to k n o w his life." His friends made a video about h i m . T h e y turned out for his funeral in uniform. T h e y wept and prayed for their fallen friend. A n d t h e n they w e n t b a c k to work, on a dusty p a t c h of land squeezed b e t w e e n two factories t h a t t h e y envisioned as a park. " W e see t h e bigger picture," o n e of Diamond's friends told us. " A l l great things h a v e to start in roughness. W e ' r e just at t h e b e g i n n i n g of s o m e t h i n g that's g o n n a be beautiful." T h e y want t o call i t t h e D i a m o n d Teague M e m o r i a l Park, i n h o n o r of t h e i r friend w h o was trying to save an endangered river and neighborh o o d but couldn't save himself. On t h a t fleck of land, where anything beautiful must be b o r n in roughness, t h e y see "the bigger picture." Just blocks away, at opposite ends of P e n n s y l v a n i a A v e n u e , in t h e W h i t e House and t h e C a p i t o l , t h e blind lead t h e blind o n yet a n o t h e r m a r c h of folly. W h o is left to o p e n t h e eyes of t h e c o u n t r y — t o tell A m e r i c a n s what is h a p p e n i n g ? " T h e r e is no o n e left; n o n e but all of us."

23.

DEMOCRACY, SECRECY, AND IDEOLOGY

The

Twentieth

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memorabilia.

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coup

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Kenneth

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democracy,

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ideology.

* * *

I was pleased to be invited to this anniversary c e l e b r a t i o n of t h e N a t i o n a l Security A r c h i v e . Your organization has b e c o m e indispensable to journalists, scholars, and citizens who believe t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s belongs to t h e people and n o t to t h e g o v e r n m e n t , and t h a t to c l a i m t h a t ownership we need to k n o w what t h e g o v e r n m e n t doesn't w a n t us to know. No o n e in this town has done more to fight for o p e n democracy t h a n t h e archive. I admire your long campaign to ensure t h a t t h e Freedom of Informat i o n A c t fulfills its promise. As Herbert Foerstel reminds us in Freedom of Information and the Right to Know, every e i g h t e e n t h - c e n t u r y democ r a t i c c o n s t i t u t i o n includes t h e public's right to information, with two e x c e p t i o n s : S w e d e n and t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s . M a n y powerful forces in A m e r i c a would h a v e preferred to keep it t h a t way. B u t i n 1 9 5 5 t h e A m e r i c a n S o c i e t y o f Newspaper Editors decided t o b a t t l e g o v e r n m e n t secrecy. The Washington Post's J a m e s Russell Wiggins and R e p r e s e n t a t i v e J o h n Moss of California t e a m e d up to spearhead that fight. President K e n n e d y resisted their efforts. W h e n he asked reporters to c e n s o r themselves on t h e grounds t h a t these were times of "clear and present danger," journalists were outraged. Moss refused to give up, and in 1 9 6 6 Congress passed t h e Freedom of Information A c t , although in a m u c h compromised form. I was there, as t h e W h i t e House press secretary, w h e n President Lynd o n J o h n s o n signed t h e legislation i n t o law on July 4, 1 9 6 6 — s i g n e d it with language t h a t was almost lyrical: " W i t h a deep sense of pride that t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s is an o p e n society in w h i c h t h e people's right to k n o w is cherished and guarded."

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W e l l , yes, but L B J h a d to be dragged k i c k i n g and screaming to t h e signing ceremony. He loathed t h e very idea of t h e F r e e d o m of Informat i o n A c t ; loathed t h e t h o u g h t o f journalists rummaging i n g o v e r n m e n t closets and o p e n i n g g o v e r n m e n t files; loathed t h e m c h a l l e n g i n g t h e official view of reality. He dug in his heels and e v e n t h r e a t e n e d to v e t o t h e bill after it r e a c h e d t h e W h i t e House. He might h a v e followed through if Moss and W i g g i n s a n d o t h e r editors hadn't barraged h i m with pleas and petitions. He relented and signed "the d a m n e d thing," as he called it ( I ' m paraphrasing what he actually said in case c h i l d r e n are p r e s e n t ) . He signed it, and t h e n w e n t out to c l a i m credit for it. B e c a u s e o f t h e F r e e d o m o f Information A c t and t h e relentless fight by t h e archive to defend and exercise it, some of us h a v e learned more s i n c e leaving t h e W h i t e House about what h a p p e n e d o n our w a t c h t h a n we k n e w w h e n we were there. C o n s i d e r t h e r e c e n t disclosures about e v e n t s i n t h e G u l f o f T o n k i n in 1 9 6 4 . T h e s e d o c u m e n t s , now four decades old, seem to confirm t h a t there was no s e c o n d a t t a c k on U . S . ships on August 4 and that President J o h n s o n ordered retaliatory air strikes against N o r t h V i e t n a m on t h e basis of i n t e l l i g e n c e that e i t h e r had b e e n "mishandled" or "misinterpreted" or deliberately skewed by subordinates to provide h i m t h e excuse he was looking for to a t t a c k N o r t h V i e t n a m . I was n o t t h e n a player in foreign policy and h a d n o t yet b e c o m e t h e president's press secretary; my portfolio was politics and domestic policy. B u t I was often beside h i m during those frenetic hours. I heard his side of t h e conversations, but n o t what was being told to h i m by t h e S i t u a tion R o o m or Pentagon. It was n e v e r nailed down for c e r t a i n t h a t there was a second attack, but I b e l i e v e t h a t L B J t h o u g h t t h e r e had b e e n . It is true t h a t for m o n t h s h e h a d wanted t o send a message t o H o C h i M i n h t h a t h e m e a n t business about standing b e h i n d A m e r i c a ' s c o m m i t m e n t t o S o u t h V i e t n a m . It is true that he was n o t about to allow the hawkish Barry G o l d w a t e r to outflank h i m on n a t i o n a l security in the fall campaign. It is also true that he often wrestled with t h e real or imaginary fear t h a t liberal D e m o c r a t s , whose hearts still belonged to J F K , would be w a t c h i n g and sizing h i m up

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according to their speculation of h o w K e n n e d y would h a v e decided t h e m o m e n t . Clearly t h e president was prepared to a c t if t h e N o r t h V i e t n a m e s e presented h i m a tit-for-tat opportunity. B u t he wasn't at this t i m e looking for a wider war, only a show of resolve, a flexing of muscles, t h e c h a n c e to swat t h e fly if it landed. N o n e t h e l e s s , this state of mind plus cloudy i n t e l l i g e n c e proved a c o m b u s t i b l e and tragic m i x . In his b e l i e f t h a t a s e c o n d a t t a c k revealed a more deliberate i n t e n t ( o n e a l o n e m i g h t h a v e b e e n a c c i d e n t a l , a n intuitive response by an adversary to an u n e x p e c t e d e n c o u n t e r ) , t h e presid e n t did order strikes against N o r t h V i e t n a m , in effect widening t h e war. He asked Congress to e n a c t a resolution already drawn up by his national security adviser, and three days later Congress responded with the G u l f of T o n k i n R e s o l u t i o n t h a t he would use for future large-scale c o m m i t m e n t s of A m e r i c a n forces. Haste is often t h e e n e m y of j u d g m e n t , and t h e c o n s e q u e n c e s of haste this time would prove costly. B u t did t h e president order up fabricated e v i d e n c e to suit his wish? N o . Did subordinates rig t h e e v i d e n c e to support what t h e y t h o u g h t he wanted to do? It's possible, but I swear I c a n n o t imagine w h o they might h a v e b e e n . Did t h e president a c t prematurely? Yes. W a s t h e response disproportionate to t h e events? Yes. D i d he later agonize o v e r so precipitous a decision? Yes. "For all I know," he said t h e n e x t year, "our navy was shooting at whales out there." By t h e n , however, he found o t h e r reasons to escalate t h e war. A l l these years later it's painful to wonder what could h a v e b e e n if we had waited until t h e fog lifted, or had made t h e public aware of what we did and didn't know, trusting t h e debate in t h e press, Congress, and t h e country to help us shape policies more aligned with facts on t h e ground ( i n this case, on t h e sea) and with t h e o p i n i o n of an informed public. I h a d hoped others would learn from our e x p e r i e n c e . Prior to t h e invasion of Iraq, I said on t h e air that V i e t n a m didn't m a k e me a dove; it made me read t h e C o n s t i t u t i o n . G o v e r n m e n t ' s first obligation is to defend its citizens; t h e r e is n o t h i n g in t h e C o n s t i t u t i o n t h a t says it is permissible for our g o v e r n m e n t to l a u n c h a preemptive a t t a c k on a n o t h e r n a t i o n . C o m m o n sense carries o n e to t h e same c o n c l u s i o n : it's hard to

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get t h e leash b a c k on o n c e you let t h e wild dogs of war out of t h e kenn e l . O u r present secretary of defense has a plaque on his desk t h a t reads: "Aggressive fighting for t h e right is t h e n o b l e s t sport t h e world affords." Perhaps, but while war is sometimes necessary, to treat it as sport is o b s c e n e . At best, war is a crude alternative to shrewd, disciplined diplomacy and t h e forging of a true a l l i a n c e acting in t h e n a m e of intern a t i o n a l law. U n p r o v o k e d , "the noblest sport" of war b e c o m e s t h e slaughter o f t h e i n n o c e n t . I left t h e W h i t e House in early 1 9 6 7 for journalism and put those years and events b e h i n d me, e x c e p t to reflect on h o w they might inform my reporting and analysis of what's happening today. I was c h a s t e n e d by our mistakes b a c k t h e n , and I am chagrined now w h e n others repeat them. In my files is an article by J e f f C o h e n and N o r m a n S o l o m o n ( " 3 0 Year Anniversary: T o n k i n G u l f L i e L a u n c h e d V i e t n a m W a r " ) written a decade ago and long before the r e c e n t disclosures. T h e y might h a v e written it over again during t h e buildup for the invasion of Iraq. On August 5, 1 9 6 4 , t h e headline in T h e Washington Post read:

AMERICAN

PLANES HIT NORTH VIETNAM A F T E R SECOND ATTACK ON O U R DESTROYERS: MOVE TAKEN T O H A L T AGGRESSION.

T h a t , o f course, was t h e official line,

spelled out v e r b a t i m and succinctly on t h e nation's front pages. The New York Times proclaimed in an editorial t h a t t h e president "went to t h e people last n i g h t with t h e somber facts." T h e Los Angeles Times urged A m e r i c a n s "to face t h e fact t h a t t h e c o m m u n i s t s , b y their a t t a c k o n A m e r i c a n vessels in international waters, h a v e escalated t h e hostilities." It was n o t only Lyndon J o h n s o n whose mind was predisposed to judge on t h e spot, with h a l f a loaf. It was also those reporters and editors who were willing to a c c e p t t h e official view of reality as t h e truth of t h e matter. In T h e "Uncensored War," D a n i e l H a l l i n found t h a t journalists at t h e t i m e had a great deal of information available w h i c h c o n t r a d i c t e d the official a c c o u n t of what happened in t h e G u l f of T o n k i n , but "it simply wasn't used." T o m W e l l s , who wrote t h e c o m p e l l i n g b o o k The War Within: America's Battle Over Vietnam, told C o h e n and S o l o m o n it was yet another

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case o f "the media's almost exclusive reliance o n t h e U . S . g o v e r n m e n t officials as sources of information," as well as "their r e l u c t a n c e to quest i o n official p r o n o u n c e m e n t s on n a t i o n a l security issues." I am taking up your t i m e with this h o p i n g you will understand why I h a v e b e c o m e s o m e t h i n g of a fundamentalist on t h e First A m e n d m e n t p r o t e c t i o n of an i n d e p e n d e n t press, a press t h a t will resist t h e seductions, persuasions, and intimidations of people who hold great power—over life and death, war and p e a c e , taxes, t h e fate of t h e e n v i r o n m e n t — a n d , if permitted, would exercise t h a t power arbitrarily, in secrecy. In a telling m o m e n t , t h e B u s h administration opposed t h e declassification o f these forty-year-old G u l f o f T o n k i n documents. W h y ? B e cause they fear uncomfortable comparisons with t h e flawed i n t e l l i g e n c e used to justify t h e war in Iraq. A n d well they might. Just as telling is their opposition to t h e release of two i n t e l l i g e n c e briefings given to President J o h n s o n i n 1 9 6 5 and 1 9 6 8 . T h e C I A claims they should b e kept secret on t h e grounds t h a t their release could impair its mission by revealing its sources and methods of forty years ago. Bull. T h e actual methods used by t h e C I A b a c k t h e n h a v e largely b e e n declassified, w h i c h is why I signed a s t a t e m e n t in your support w h e n t h e N a t i o n a l S e curity A r c h i v e went to court over this matter. I was as disappointed as you w h e n t h e federal judge, in his ruling this past summer, preferred t h e government's p e n c h a n t for secrecy to t h e people's right to k n o w what goes on in their n a m e and with t h e i r money. It must be said: there has b e e n n o t h i n g in our t i m e like t h e Bush administration's obsession with secrecy. T h i s may seem self-serving c o m i n g from s o m e o n e who worked for J o h n F. K e n n e d y and Lyndon B. J o h n s o n , who were n o paragons o f openness. B u t I a m only o n e o f legions w h o h a v e reached this c o n c l u s i o n . S e e t h e r e c e n t pair of articles by t h e indep e n d e n t journalist M i c h a e l Massing in The New York Review of Books. He concludes: " T h e Bush A d m i n i s t r a t i o n has restricted access to public d o c u m e n t s as no o t h e r before it." A n d he b a c k s this up with evid e n c e . A r e c e n t report on g o v e r n m e n t secrecy by the watchdog group O p e n T h e G o v e r n m e n t . o r g says t h e g o v e r n m e n t classified a record 1 5 . 6 m i l l i o n new d o c u m e n t s in fiscal year 2 0 0 4 , an increase of 81 p e r c e n t

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o v e r t h e year before t h e terrorist attacks o n S e p t e m b e r 1 1 , 2 0 0 1 . W h a t ' s more, 6 4 p e r c e n t o f Federal Advisory C o m m i t t e e meetings i n 2 0 0 4 were c o m p l e t e l y closed t o t h e public. N o wonder t h e public knows s o little about h o w t h e B u s h administration has deliberately ignored or distorted reputable scientific research to a d v a n c e its political agenda and t h e wishes of its corporate patrons. I'm talking about t h e suppression of that E n v i r o n m e n t a l P r o t e c t i o n A g e n c y report questioning aspects o f t h e W h i t e House C l e a r S k i e s A c t ; research censorship a t t h e departments o f h e a l t h and h u m a n services, interior, and agriculture; t h e e l i m i n a t i o n of qualified scientists from advisory c o m m i t t e e s on kids and lead poisoning, reproductive h e a l t h , and drug abuse; t h e distortion of scientific knowledge on e m e r g e n c y c o n t r a c e p t i o n ; the manipulation of t h e scientific process involving t h e Endangered S p e c i e s A c t ; and t h e internal sabotage of g o v e r n m e n t scientific reports on global warming. It's an old story: t h e greater t h e secrecy, t h e deeper t h e corruption. T h i s is t h e administration t h a t has illegally produced phony television news stories with fake reporters about M e d i c a r e and g o v e r n m e n t antidrug programs, t h e n distributed t h e m t o l o c a l T V stations around t h e country. In several markets, t h e fake stories aired on t h e six o ' c l o c k news with nary a m e n t i o n t h a t they were propaganda bought and paid for with your t a x dollars. T h i s is t h e administration t h a t paid almost a quarter of a m i l l i o n dollars for t h e obliging c o m m e n t a t o r A r m s t r o n g W i l l i a m s to talk up its N o C h i l d Left B e h i n d e d u c a t i o n program and bankrolled two o t h e r c o n servative columnists to shill for programs p r o m o t i n g t h e president's marriage initiative. T h i s is t h e administration that tacitly allowed inside t h e W h i t e House a p h o n y journalist under t h e n o m d e plume o f J e f f G a n n o n t o file R e p u b l i c a n press releases as legitimate news stories and to ask President Bush planted questions to w h i c h he could respond with p r e c o n c e i v e d answers. A n d this i s t h e administration t h a t has paid more t h a n $ 1 0 0 m i l l i o n to plant stories in Iraqi newspapers and disguise t h e source, while b a n ning TV cameras at t h e return of caskets from Iraq as well as prohibit-

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ing t h e publication of photographs of those c a s k e t s — a restriction t h a t was lifted only following a request through t h e F r e e d o m of Information A c t . A h , F O I A . Obsessed with secrecy, Bush and C h e n e y h a v e made t h e F r e e d o m o f Information A c t their n u m b e r - o n e target, more fervently pursued for e l i m i n a t i o n t h a n O s a m a b i n Laden. No sooner h a d they c o m e i n t o office t h a n t h e y set out t o eviscerate b o t h F O I A a n d t h e Presidential Records A c t . T h e president has b e e n determined t o p r o t e c t his father's secrets w h e n t h e first B u s h was v i c e president and t h e n president. A n d now his own. B u s h omerta. T h i s e n m i t y toward F O I A springs from deep roots in their e x t e n d e d official family. Just read your own N a t i o n a l Security A r c h i v e briefing b o o k n u m b e r 1 4 2 , edited b y D a n Lopez, T o m B l a n t o n , M e r e d i t h Fuchs, and Barbara Elias. It is an a c c o u n t of h o w in 1 9 7 4 President G e r a l d Ford's c h i e f of staff, o n e D o n a l d Rumsfeld, and his deputy c h i e f of staff, o n e D i c k C h e n e y , talked t h e president out of signing a m e n d m e n t s t h a t would h a v e put stronger t e e t h i n t h e F r e e d o m o f Information A c t . A s members o f t h e House o f R e p r e s e n t a t i v e s , Rumsfeld actually co-sponsored t h e a c t and Ford voted for it. B u t t h e n R i c h a r d N i x o n was sent scuttling from t h e W h i t e H o u s e in disgrace after t h e secrets of W a t e r g a t e c a m e spilling out. Rumsfeld and C h e n e y wanted n o m o r e embarrassing revelations o f their party's abuse of power. T h e y were assisted in their arguments by yet ano t h e r rising R e p u b l i c a n star, A n t o n i n S c a l i a , t h e n a top lawyer at t h e Just i c e D e p a r t m e n t . Fast-forward t o 2 0 0 1 , w h e n i n the early m o n t h s o f G e o r g e W . Bush's administration, V i c e President C h e n e y invited t h e tyc o o n s of oil, gas, and c o a l to t h e W h i t e House to divide up t h e spoils of victory. T h e y had, after all, c o n t r i b u t e d millions of dollars to t h e cause, and as C h e n e y would later say of t a x cuts for t h e fraternity of elites w h o had financed t h e campaign, they deserved t h e payoff. B u t to k e e p t h e plunder from disgusting t h e public, t h e identities of t h e participants in t h e meetings were kept secret. T h e Sierra C l u b and t h e conservative watchdog organization Judicial W a t c h filed suit to o p e n this insider trading to public scrutiny. B u t

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after losing in t h e lower court, t h e W h i t e House asked t h e Supreme C o u r t to i n t e r v e n e . Lo and behold, hardly had Justice S c a l i a returned from a duck-hunting trip with the v i c e p r e s i d e n t — t h e blind leading t h e blind t o t h e b l i n d — t h a n t h e S u p r e m e C o u r t upheld t h e W h i t e House privilege to keep secret t h e names of those corporate predators who c a m e to slice t h e pie. You h a v e to wonder if sitting there in t h e marsh, shotguns in h a n d , S c a l i a and C h e n e y reminisced about their collaborat i o n many years earlier w h e n as young m e n in g o v e r n m e n t they had tried to shoot down the dreaded F r e e d o m of Information A c t t h a t kept t h e m looking over their shoulders (Congress, by t h e way, overrode President Ford's v e t o ) . T h i s administration has m u c h to fear from the Freedom of Informat i o n A c t . Just a few days ago, F O I A was used to force t h e D e p a r t m e n t of Justice to m a k e available legal d o c u m e n t s related to t h e record of S a m u e l A l i t o , n o m i n a t e d b y President Bush t o t h e S u p r e m e C o u r t . T h e department reluctantly complied but under very restricted circumstances. T h e records were made available on o n e day, for three hours, from three to six p.m., for reporters only. No citizen or advocacy groups were permitted access. T h e r e were 4 7 0 pages to review. M i c h a e l Petrelis, on his blog spot (mpetrelis.blogspot.com), reckons this m e a n t a reporter had about thirty-four seconds to quickly read e a c h page and figure out if the information was newsworthy or worth pursuing further. " N o t a lot of time to carefully e x a m i n e d o c u m e n t s from our n e x t S u p r e m e C o u r t just i c e , " h e wrote. A n d why wouldn't t h e W h i t e House w a n t reporters foaming the halls of justice? A c c o r d i n g to The Washington Post, two years ago six Just i c e D e p a r t m e n t attorneys and two analysts wrote a m e m o stating unequivocally t h a t t h e Texas congressional redistricting plan c o n c o c t e d by T o m D e L a y violated t h e V o t i n g R i g h t s A c t . T h o s e career professional civil servants were overruled by senior officials, Bush's political appointees, who went ahead and approved t h e plan anyway. W e ' r e only finding this out now because s o m e o n e leaked t h e m e m o . A c c o r d i n g to The Washington Post, t h e d o c u m e n t was kept under tight wraps and "lawyers who worked on t h e case were subjected to an unusual

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gag rule." W h y ? B e c a u s e it is a devastating a c c o u n t of h o w D e L a y helped launder corporate m o n e y to e l e c t a Texas legislature t h a t t h e n shuffled congressional districts to add five new R e p u b l i c a n members of t h e House, nailing down c o n t r o l of Congress for t h e radical and corporate Right. T h e y couldn't get away with all of this if we in t h e press were at t h e top o f our g a m e . N e v e r has t h e n e e d for a n i n d e p e n d e n t m e d i a b e e n greater. People are frightened, their skepticism of power eclipsed by their desire for security. W r i t i n g in The New York Times, M i c h a e l Ignatieff has reminded us t h a t democracy's dark secret is t h a t t h e fight against terror has to be waged in secret, by m e n and w o m e n who defend us with a bodyguard of lies and armory of deadly weapons. Because this is d e m o c racy's dark secret, Ignatieff c o n t i n u e s , it c a n also be democracy's dark nemesis. Yet t h e press is h o b b l e d t o d a y — h o b b l e d by W a l l S t r e e t investors w h o d e m a n d greater and greater profit margins at t h e e x p e n s e of reporting. Layoffs are h i t t i n g papers all across t h e country. Just last week, Newsday, of w h i c h I was o n c e p u b l i s h e r cut seventy-two j o b s and eliminated forty v a c a n c i e s — t h a t ' s in addition to fifty-nine newsroom jobs t h a t had b e e n e l i m i n a t e d t h e previous m o n t h . T h e r e are fewer editors and reporters with less time, resources, and freedom to burn shoe leather and midnight oil, m a k e endless p h o n e calls, and k n o c k on doors in pursuit of t h e unreported story. T h e press is also h o b b l e d by i n t i m i d a t i o n from bullies in t h e propaganda wing of t h e R e p u b l i c a n Party w h o hector, demonize, and lie about journalists w h o ask hard questions of this regime. H o b b l e d , too, by what K e n Silverstein, a Los Angeles Times investigative reporter, calls "spurious b a l a n c e , " kowtowing to those w i t h t h e loudest v o i c e or t h e most august title who d e m a n d t h a t w h e n it c o m e s to reporting, lies must be treated as t h e equivalent of truth; t h a t covering t h e news, including t h e official press release, has greater priority t h a n uncovering t h e news. I want to share with you now a personal story of what c a n happen

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w h e n a journalist reports what this administration doesn't want t h e public to know. I told this story earlier this year to t h e s e c o n d n a t i o n a l M e dia R e f o r m C o n f e r e n c e i n S t . Louis, but n e w details h a v e emerged from t h e shadows t h a t obscure m u c h of what happens in this town. Four years ago, P B S asked me to c r e a t e a n e w weekly broadcast of news, analysis, a n d interviews. O n e m a n d a t e was to give viewers a c h o i c e , n o t a n e c h o . S o for inspiration w e r e a c h e d b a c k t o t h e words o f Lord B y r o n t h a t o n c e graced t h e m a s t h e a d o f many small-town newspapers: " W i t h o u t , or with, offence to friends or foes, I s k e t c h your world exactly as it goes." O v e r t h e m o n t h s we reported h o w faraway d e c i s i o n - m a k i n g affected t h e lives o f regular p e o p l e — h o w p o l i t i c a l influence led t o m o u n t a i n t o p - r e m o v a l m i n i n g and h o w t h e g o v e r n m e n t colluded with industry to c o v e r up t h e effect of mercury in fish on pregnant w o m e n . We described w h a t life was like for h o m e l e s s veterans and c h i l d migrants working in t h e fields. We exposed W a l l S t r e e t shenanigans and tracked t h e W a s h i n g t o n revolving door. W e reported h o w Congress h a d r e j e c t e d safeguards t h a t would mitigate a scandal l i k e E n r o n , and how those efforts were shot down by some of t h e same politicians w h o were t h e n charged with investigating t h e scandal. W e investigated Deputy S e c r e t a r y of t h e Interior S t e v e n G r i l e s a full e i g h t e e n m o n t h s before he h a d to resign o v e r conflicts of interest involving t h e oil and m i n i n g industries for w h i c h he h a d b e e n a lobbyist on t h e o t h e r side o f t h a t revolving door. W e reported h o w E x x o n M o b i l h a d influenced the W h i t e House to replace a scientist w h o believes global warming is real. S u c h reporting angered t h e c h a i r m a n o f t h e C o r p o r a t i o n for Public Broadcasting, K e n n e t h T o m l i n s o n , a R e p u b l i c a n w h o cast h i m s e l f in t h e image of Karl R o v e . T o m l i n s o n set out, secretly, to discredit our broadc a s t — a c a m p a i g n I h a v e described elsewhere. B u t t h e story bears repeating because of details that h a v e emerged only recently. T o m l i n s o n , as these n e w disclosures reveal, was especially outraged by our d o c u m e n tary o n t h e distress o f people living i n t h e small t o w n o f T a m a q u a , P e n n -

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sylvania. A t e x t i l e firm there had laid off more t h a n a third of its workf o r c e — t h e last gasp of an industry t h a t had sustained t h e townspeople after t h e demise of t h e c o a l industry. W i t h t h e i r jobs heading for H o n duras and C h i n a , we put t h e plight of T a m a q u a in t h e c o n t e x t of how t h e N o r t h A m e r i c a n Free Trade A g r e e m e n t — s i g n e d , by t h e way, by President B i l l C l i n t o n a dozen years ago—was contributing to growing inequality in A m e r i c a , with t h e widest gap b e t w e e n r i c h and poor since t h e G r e a t Depression. By bringing t h e story of "free trade" down to scale in t h e little town of T a m a q u a we put a h u m a n face on t h e c o n s e q u e n c e s o f globalization. O u t reporting contradicted t h e rosy scenarios of t h e Bush administration, and T o m l i n s o n went on t h e warpath, describing what he saw as "liberal advocacy j o u r n a l i s m " — t h e m a n t r a hurled by right-wing polemicists for years against fact-based reporting t h a t undermines their worldview. A l l I c a n say is t h a t if reporting what happens to ordinary people because of events beyond their c o n t r o l , and t h e indifference of governm e n t to their fate, is "liberal," I plead guilty. B u t T o m l i n s o n did n o t c o n t e n t h i m s e l f with public complaints. H e began crudely to pressure P B S to c o u n t e r my broadcast, and he r e a c h e d out personally to an ideological soul mate, Paul G i g o t , t h e right-wing editor of The Wall Street Journal's editorial pages, to arrange for Gigot's recently cancelled C N B C broadcast (The Journal Editorial Report)

to be

resurrected by P B S . T h e story has b e e n widely reported, but recently released e-mails b e t w e e n G i g o t and T o m l i n s o n reveal just h o w these two fierce defenders of t h e free market (and o t h e r R e p u b l i c a n d o c t r i n e ) secretly s c h e m e d to direct several m i l l i o n dollars of taxpayer funds to t h e prosperous Wall Street Journal so t h a t "our side," as they called t h e m selves, could get "an absolute duplication of w h a t Moyers is doing." But Gigot's broadcast proved to be n o w h e r e n e a r what my colleague David B r a n c a c c i o and I were doing. We were digging, investigating, and reporting, as well as offering a wide range of v o i c e s — l i b e r a l and conservative among t h e m ; G i g o t and his guests, all like-minded ideologues from his o w n staff, were merely opining. Indeed, in their private e x c h a n g e of

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e-mails, T o m l i n s o n informs G i g o t t h a t o n c e he has received t h e public funds, he doesn't really n e e d to do field reporting. G i g o t is relieved, telling T o m l i n s o n t h a t n o t only is such reporting a waste of t i m e and money, it is "boring." I ' m n o t making this up: o n e of t h e most powerful editors in A m e r i c a admits t h a t r e p o r t i n g — c o l l e c t i n g t h e e v i d e n c e , getting t h e facts, finding reality—is "boring." T h e i r secret e-mails irrefutably reveal t h a t t h e right-wing c h a i r m a n of t h e C o r p o r a t i o n for Public Broadcasting and t h e right-wing editor of t h e editorial page of The Wall Street Journal colluded w i t h public funds to subsidize t h a t rich newspaper to create a broadcast on P B S t h a t would be a v e h i c l e exclusively for right-wing ideology. "Our side" turned out to be o n e more cog in t h e great R e p u b l i c a n noise m a c h i n e . It didn't last; Gigot's show failed to attract an audience and he soon t o o k it to F o x News, where it found a c o m p a t i b l e n i c h e in Rupert Murdoch's empire ( w h i c h now includes The Wall Street Journal). A couple of days after that a n n o u n c e m e n t , The Wall Street Journal published a thoroughly disingenuous editorial, obviously written by G i g o t , defending K e n n e t h T o m l i n son's i n v o l v e m e n t in his s c h e m e , while denigrating the inspector general o f C P B who had investigated t h e mess a t t h e request o f members o f Congress. T h e inspector found t h a t T o m l i n s o n had c o m m i t t e d multiple transgressions: he broke t h e law, violated t h e corporation's guidelines for c o n t r a c t i n g , meddled in program decisions, injected politics i n t o hiring procedures, and admonished C P B e x e c u t i v e staff " n o t t o interfere with his deal" with G i g o t . T h e e-mails show T o m l i n s o n bragging to Karl R o v e about his success i n "shaking things up" a t C P B . T h e y also confirm t h a t h e had consulted t h e W h i t e House about recruiting loyalist R e p u b licans to serve as his confederates at t h e very organization t h a t h a d b e e n created in 1 9 6 7 to prevent just such partisan meddling in public broadcasting. As all this was b e c o m i n g public, T o m l i n s o n was forced to resign from t h e C P B board. He is now under investigation by t h e S t a t e Departm e n t for irregularities i n his o t h e r j o b a s c h a i r o f t h e Broadcasting B o a r d o f G o v e r n o r s , t h e agency t h a t oversees V o i c e o f A m e r i c a , R a d i o Free

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Europe, and o t h e r i n t e r n a t i o n a l broadcasting sponsored by t h e U n i t e d States.* I h a v e shared this sordid little story with you because it is a c a u t i o n ary tale about t h e regime in power. If they were so determined to go with all guns blazing at a single broadcast on public television t h a t is simply doing t h e j o b journalism is supposed to do, you c a n imagine t h e pressure t h a t has b e e n applied to mainstream media. A n d you c a n understand what's at stake w h e n journalists and t h e state collude to further t h e party line, as Paul G i g o t and K e n T o m l i n s o n were doing. In The Gospel According to America, David Dark reminds us of a lesson we always seem to be forgetting, that "as learners of freedom, we might c o m e to understand t h a t t h e price of liberty is eternal vigilance." He might well h a v e b e e n directly addressing t h e press w h e n he wrote:

Keeping one's head safe for democracy (or avoiding the worship of false gods) will require a diligent questioning of any and all tribal storytellers. In an age of information technology, we will have to look especially hard at the forces that shape discourse and the various high-powered attempts, new every morning, to invent public reality.

L o o k closely. T h e y ' r e still at it.

*Just as his improprieties had forced his retirement as Chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in 2 0 0 5 (see page 2 8 3 ) , Kenneth Tomlinson now came under investigation as Chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the federal board that oversees most United States government broadcasts to foreign countries, including V O A , Radio Free Europe, the Arab-language Alhurra, and Radio Marti. T h e State Department's Office of the Inspector General found that he had improperly used his office to promote his own business interests, including his horse racing operation, and had doled out a large consulting contract to a friend without the knowledge of other board members and without providing any of the required documentation. On January 9, 2 0 0 7 , Tomlinson asked that his name not be submitted for reconfirmation as chairman.

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LIFE

ON

THE

PLANTATION

National

Conference

for

Media

J A N U A R Y

12,

2007

Reform

Just as T h e W a l l Street Journal was about to bid its vaunted independence farewell and sail into position as editorial

writers

Fleet in

hoisted a

the form to

Aboard"

signal

of an editorial praising the

mission for relaxing limits Big Media

the flagship in Rupert Murdoch's armada,

"Welcome

swallow

on

in sight.

the

other

its

Admiral of the

Federal Communications

media ownership—in

everything left

to

words,

Rupert greets

Com-

for allowing

no

human act

more warmly than the bowed knee of an editor who knows on which side his bread is

buttered.

You can imagine

minions paid obeisance welcome

on

the

eve

to

his

of his

the smile on his face as his soon-to-be

ravenous

appetite.

annunciation

reassured

This particular Hail the

Caesar

conquering hero

that

"these columns have long favored letting the free market determine the size of a company." about

to

glomerates

At

that very moment the

change to

town—that is,

a rule

increase

that prevents

their

ownership

to imprint a single

Republican majority "cross-ownership," of more

news

thumb more indelibly

on

the

FCC

freeing media outlets on

in

what

a

was consingle

local resi-

314

dents see,

read,

and hear.

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MOYERS

Rupert's smile must have widened to learn from an

editorial page that would soon be his that we have for

the

beneficent

conglomeration

of media

produced

unblinking

of opinion in the

invasion of Iraq,

ensuring George

that he could start a war without having to fear

that some press

had said, just weeks

the

the

that

W.

baron would stab him in

to

outlets

conformity Bush

buildup

"the free market" to thank

back with a sharp dissenting opinion.

before the invasion,

Murdoch

"The greatest thing to come of this

to the world economy, if you could put it that way, would be $20 a barrel for oil .

.

.

stimulus

The whole world will benefit from cheaper oil, which will be a bigger

than

anything else."

Let

us for

the

moment avoid glancing at

the

price of oil today and recall instead how CBS and ABC and NBC and Fox and,

yes,

the

commander

the editorial page of T h e W a l l Street Journal saluted and cheered in

chief as

he

announced

"Mission

ously we owe such courageous unanimity to the livered

us

Clear

Channel with

centralized control approached

a

a

microphone.

In

the

its

Obvi-

"free market." It has also de-

thousand or more

that could push

Accomplished."

"mute"

radio

stations

button when

Orwellian

world

the

under a

the Dixie right-wing

Chicks editorial

page of T h e W a l l Street Journal, before and after Murdoch,

says those of

us

opposing more

who

vigorous

oppose

greater

conglomeration

media competition,

making this up—is

for

the

of media

are

actually

result of all

the

consolidation—I am not

"a media landscape that is more diverse than ever." If Ru-

pert believes that, he must believe oil is $20 a barrel. works,

the few

cable

news

channels,

and

newspapers set the national news agenda. portionately now controls

influence three

what most citizens of them:

the

a small

These

S t r e e t Journal.

three

thousand people fighting for more

handful

ten to

Heading for Memphis

of semi-national

twelve outlets dispro-

will or will not learn,

Fox Network,

Wall

The national TV net-

and Murdoch

Fox News Channel,

and T h e

and a gathering of more

diversity

in media ownership,

than I flew

over land that had once been huge estates cultivating cotton and tobacco. plantation mentality

is

back—this

time

in

the corporate

boardrooms

The

of media

moguls.

* * *

On t h e door of my office is a q u o t a t i o n attributed to B e n j a m i n Franklin: " D e m o c r a c y is two wolves and a l a m b voting on what to h a v e for l u n c h . Liberty is a well-armed l a m b c o n t e s t i n g t h e v o t e . "

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My fellow lambs, it's g o o d to be in M e m p h i s and find you well armed with passion for democracy, readiness for a c t i o n , and courage for the n e x t round in t h e fight for a free a n d i n d e p e n d e n t press. I salute t h e c o n v i c t i o n t h a t brought you h e r e . I c h e r i s h t h e spirit that fills this hall and t h e camaraderie we share today. A l l too often t h e greatest o b s t a c l e to reform is t h e reform m o v e m e n t itself. F a c t i o n s rise, fences go up, jealousies m o u n t — a n d t h e cause all b e l i e v e in is lost in the shattered fragments of what was o n c e a clear and c o m p e l l i n g vision. By avoiding c o n t e n t i o u s factionalism, you h a v e created a strong m o v e m e n t . I was skeptical w h e n R o b e r t M c C h e s n e y and J o h n N i c h o l s first raised t h e issue of m e d i a c o n s o l i d a t i o n a few years ago. I was sympathetic but skeptical. T h e c h a l l e n g e o f actually doing s o m e t h i n g about this issue— beyond simply b e m o a n i n g its impact on democracy—was daunting. H o w c o u l d w e h o p e t o c o m e u p w i t h a n effective response t o a n i n e x orable force? It seemed i n e x o r a b l e because for years a series of mega-media mergers h a d swept t h e country, e a c h deal e v e n bigger t h a n t h e last. T h e lobby representing t h e broadcast, c a b l e , and newspaper industry is extremely powerful, with an iron grip on lawmakers and regulators alike. B o t h parties bowed to their will w h e n t h e R e p u b l i c a n Congress passed, and President C l i n t o n signed, t h e T e l e c o m m u n i c a t i o n s A c t o f 1 9 9 6 . T h a t monstrous assault on democracy, with malignant c o n s e q u e n c e s for journalism, was n o t h i n g but a welfare giveaway to t h e largest, richest, and most powerful media c o n g l o m e r a t e s in t h e w o r l d — G o l i a t h s whose handful of owners c o n t r o l l e d , commodified, and monetized everyone, and everything, in sight. C a l l it t h e p l a n t a t i o n m e n t a l i t y in its m o d e r n i n c a r n a t i o n . H e r e in M e m p h i s they k n o w all about that mentality. As late as 1 9 6 8 t h e civil rights m o v e m e n t was still battling t h e "plantation m e n t a l i t y " on race, gender, and power t h a t permeated S o u t h e r n culture long before and e v e n after t h e groundbreaking legislation o f t h e m i d - 1 9 6 0 s . W h e n M a r tin L u t h e r K i n g Jr. c a m e t o M e m p h i s t o j o i n t h e strike o f garbage workers in 1 9 6 8 , t h e cry from every striker's h e a r t — " I am a m a n " — v o i c e d t h e long-suppressed outrage of a people whose rights were still being

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trampled by an ownership class t h a t had arranged t h e world for its own benefit. T h e p l a n t a t i o n mentality was a p h e n o m e n o n deeply insinuated in t h e A m e r i c a n e x p e r i e n c e early on, and it permeated and corrupted our course as a n a t i o n . T h e journalist of t h e A m e r i c a n R e v o l u t i o n , T h o m a s P a i n e , had envisioned this new republic as "a c o m m u n i t y of o c cupations," prospering "by t h e aid w h i c h e a c h receives from t h e other, and from t h e whole." B u t t h a t vision was repeatedly betrayed, so t h a t less t h a n a century after T h o m a s Paine's death, T h e o d o r e R o o s e v e l t , bolting a R e p u b l i c a n Party whose bosses h a d stolen t h e n o m i n a t i o n from h i m , declared: "Our d e m o c r a c y is now put to a vital test, for t h e conflict is b e t w e e n h u m a n rights on t h e o n e side and on t h e o t h e r special privilege asserted as a property right. T h e parting of t h e ways has come." Today, a hundred years after Teddy Roosevelt's death, those words still ring true. A m e r i c a is socially divided and politically benighted. Inequality and poverty grow steadily along with risk and debt. M a n y working families c a n n o t m a k e ends m e e t with two people working, let alone if o n e stays h o m e to care for children or aging parents. Young people without privilege and wealth struggle to get a footing. S e n i o r s enjoy less and less security for a lifetime of work. We are racially segregated in every meaningful sense e x c e p t t h e letter of t h e law. A n d survivors of segregation and immigration toil for pennies on t h e dollar compared to those they serve. N o n e of this is a c c i d e n t a l . As N o r t o n Garfinkle writes in The American Dream vs. the Gospel of Wealth, the historic vision is t h a t c o n t i n u i n g e c o n o m i c growth and political stability c a n be a c h i e v e d by supporting i n c o m e growth and t h e e c o n o m i c security of middle-class families without restricting t h e ability of successful businessmen to gain wealth. T h e c o u n t e r - b e l i e f is t h a t providing m a x i m u m financial rewards to t h e most successful is t h e way to m a i n t a i n h i g h e c o n o m i c growth. T h i s b e l i e f has prevailed for a generation now. T h e upward distribution of wealth has b e e n willed from t h e top, as corporate and political policy. M o s t of t h e wealth created over t h e past twenty-five years has b e e n captured by t h e top 20 p e r c e n t of households, and most of t h e gains w e n t to t h e wealth-

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iest. T h e top 1 p e r c e n t o f households captured more t h a n 5 0 p e r c e n t o f all gains in financial wealth. T h e s e rich households hold more t h a n twice t h e share their predecessors h e l d o n t h e eve o f t h e A m e r i c a n R e v olution. T h e c h o i c e c a n n o t b e avoided: W h a t kind o f e c o n o m y d o w e seek, and what kind of n a t i o n do we wish to be? Do we want to be a country i n w h i c h t h e r i c h get r i c h e r and t h e poor get poorer? O r d o w e want an e c o n o m y t h a t strengthens t h e social c o n t r a c t embodied in t h e preamble to t h e C o n s t i t u t i o n , offers upward mobility, and supports a middle-class standard of living? In Garfinkle's words:

W h e n the richest nation in the world has to borrow hundreds of billions of dollars to pay its bill, when its middle-class citizens sit on a mountain of debt to maintain their living standards, when the nation's economy has difficulty producing secure jobs or enough jobs of any kind, something is amiss.

You b e t s o m e t h i n g is amiss. A n d it goes to t h e core of why we are here in M e m p h i s for this c o n f e r e n c e . We are talking about a f o r c e — m e d i a — t h a t cuts deep t o t h e foundation o f democracy. W h e n Teddy R o o s e v e l t dissected t h e "real masters of t h e reactionary forces," he c o n cluded t h a t t h e y "directly o r indirectly c o n t r o l t h e majority o f t h e great daily newspapers t h a t are against us." T h o s e newspapers " c h o k e d " (his word) t h e c h a n n e l s of information ordinary people needed to understand what was being d o n e to t h e m . A n d today? Two basic pillars o f A m e r i c a n society—shared e c o n o m i c prosperity and a public sector capable of serving t h e social c o n t r a c t — a r e crumbling. T h e third pillar—an i n d e p e n d e n t press—is under sustained attack, and t h e c h a n n e l s of information are c h o k e d . A few huge corporations now d o m i n a t e our media landscape. A l most all t h e networks carried by most c a b l e systems are owned by o n e of t h e major media c o n g l o m e r a t e s . Two-thirds of today's newspaper markets are m o n o p o l i e s . As ownership gets more and more c o n c e n t r a t e d , fewer and fewer independent sources of information h a v e survived in t h e m a r k e t p l a c e . A n d those few significant alternatives t h a t do survive,

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such as t h e Public Broadcasting S e r v i c e and N a t i o n a l Public R a d i o , are under growing financial and political pressure to reduce c r i t i c a l news c o n t e n t and pay more a t t e n t i o n to t h e prevailing arrangements of power t h a n to t h e b l e a k realities of powerlessness t h a t shape t h e lives of ordinary people. T e l l me now: W h e n is t h e last t i m e you saw or heard on public broadcasting what life is really like for working and poor A m e r i cans? W h a t does today's media system m e a n for t h e n o t i o n of t h e "informed public" cherished by d e m o c r a t i c theory? Q u i t e literally, it means t h a t virtually everything t h e average person sees or hears outside of her o w n personal c o m m u n i c a t i o n s is d e t e r m i n e d by t h e interests of e x e c u tives and investors whose singular goal is increasing profits and raising t h e company's share price. M o r e insidiously, this relatively small group of elites determines what ordinary people do n o t see or hear. In-depth news coverage of anything, let a l o n e of the problems people face day-today, is as scarce as sex, v i o l e n c e , and voyeurism are pervasive. Successful business model or n o t , by d e m o c r a t i c standards this is censorship of knowledge by m o n o p o l i z a t i o n of t h e means of information. It has o n e clear c o n s e q u e n c e : there is more information and easier access to it, but it's m o r e narrow in c o n t e n t and perspective, so t h a t what is seen from t h e c o u c h is overwhelmingly a view from t h e top. P i o n e e r i n g c o m m u n i c a t i o n s s c h o l a r Murray E d e l m a n wrote t h a t " O p i n i o n s about public policy do n o t spring immaculately or autom a t i c a l l y i n t o people's minds; they are always placed t h e r e by t h e interpretations o f those w h o c a n most consistently get t h e i r claims and manufactured cues publicized widely." For years our media m a r k e t p l a c e has b e e n d o m i n a t e d by a highly disciplined, thoroughly networked "noise m a c h i n e , " to use David Brock's term, creating a public discourse t h a t c h a n g e d h o w A m e r i c a n values are perceived. Day after day, t h e ideals of fairness, cooperation, and mutual responsibility h a v e b e e n stripped of their essential dignity and m e a n i n g in people's lives. D a y after day, t h e egalitarian language of our D e c l a r a t i o n of I n d e p e n d e n c e is shredded by sloganeers w h o speak of t h e "death t a x , " t h e "ownership society," t h e "culture of life," "compassionate c o n s e r v a t i o n , " "weak on ter-

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rorism," t h e "end of history," t h e "clash of civilizations," "no c h i l d left b e h i n d . " T h e y h a v e e v e n managed to turn t h e escalation of a preemptive war into a "surge"—as if it were a current of electricity charging through a wire instead of blood spurting from a soldier's ruptured veins. We h a v e all t h e O r w e l l i a n filigree of a public sphere in w h i c h words c o n c e a l reality and t h e pursuit of personal gain and partisan power is wrapped in r h e t o r i c t h a t turns truth to lies a n d lies to truth. So it is t h a t "limited g o v e r n m e n t " has little to do anymore with t h e C o n s t i t u t i o n or local autonomy; n o w it means corporate d o m i n a t i o n and t h e shifting of risk from g o v e r n m e n t and business to struggling families and workers. "Family values" n o w means imposing a sectarian defin i t i o n on e v e r y o n e else. "Religious freedom" m e a n s majoritarianism and public benefits for organized religion without any public burdens. A n d "patriotism" m e a n s blind support for failed leaders. It's what happens w h e n an interlocking media system filters through c o m m e r c i a l values and ideology t h e information and moral viewpoints t h a t people c o n sume in their daily lives. By no stretch of t h e imagination c a n we say t h e d o m i n a n t institutions of today's media are guardians of democracy. D e s p i t e t h e profusion o f new information "platforms" o n cable, o n the I n t e r n e t , o n radio, blogs, podcasts, YouTube, and M y S p a c e , a m o n g others, t h e resources for solid original journalistic work, b o t h investigative and interpretive, are c o n t r a c t i n g rather t h a n expanding. I ' m old-fashioned in this, a h a n g o v e r from my days as a cub reporter and later a publisher. I agree with M i c h a e l S c h u d s o n , o n e of out leading scholars of c o m m u n i c a t i o n , who writes in the January/February

2007

Columbia Journalism Review

that

"while

all

media matter, some m a t t e r more t h a n others, and for t h e sake of d e m o c racy, print still c o u n t s most, especially print t h a t devotes resources to gathering news. N e t w o r k T V matters, c a b l e T V matters, but w h e n i t c o m e s to original investigation and reporting, newspapers are overwhelmingly t h e most important media." B u t newspapers are purposely dumbing down, responding to W a l l Street's insatiable appetite for rates of return far beyond reasonable. M e a n w h i l e , despite some initial promise following t h e s h o c k of 9 / 1 1 , television has returned to its tabloid

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ways, c h a s i n g celebrities and murderers—preferably b o t h at t h e same t i m e — w h i l e its pundits wallow in a self-referential view of t h e world. Worrying about t h e loss of real news is n o t a r o m a n t i c c l i c h e of journalism. It has b e e n verified by history: from t h e days of royal absolutism t o t h e present, t h e c o n t r o l o f information and knowledge had b e e n t h e first line of defense for failed regimes facing public unrest. T h e suppression o f parliamentary dissent during C h a r l e s I ' s " e l e v e n years tyranny" i n England ( 1 6 2 9 - 4 0 ) rested largely o n g o v e r n m e n t c e n sorship operating through strict licensing laws for t h e p u b l i c a t i o n of b o o k s . T h e Federalists' infamous S e d i t i o n A c t o f 1 7 9 8 sought t o quell R e p u b l i c a n insurgency by making it a c r i m e to publish "false, scandalous, and malicious writing" about the g o v e r n m e n t or its officials. In those days, governing bodies a t t a c k e d journalistic freedom with t h e b l u n t instruments of t h e law—padlocks for t h e presses and j a i l cells for outspoken editors and writers. O v e r t i m e , with spectacular wartime e x c e p t i o n s , t h e courts and t h e C o n s t i t u t i o n h a v e struck those weapons out o f their hands. B u t n o w they've found n e w methods, i n t h e n a m e o f " n a t i o n a l security" and e v e n broader claims of " e x e c u t i v e privilege." T h e n u m b e r o f d o c u m e n t s stamped "Top S e c r e t , " " S e c r e t , " o r "Confid e n t i a l " has a c c e l e r a t e d dramatically since 2 0 0 1 , including m a n y formerly accessible d o c u m e n t s t h a t h a v e now b e e n reclassified as secret. B e y o n d what is officially labeled secret or privileged information, t h e p l a n t a t i o n harbors a culture of official manipulation, working through favored media insiders, to a d v a n c e political agendas by leak, inn u e n d o , and spin. T h e r e are, for e x a m p l e , those m i s n a m e d public inform a t i o n offices t h a t c h u r n out blizzards of factually selective releases on a daily basis. As we saw in t h e run-up to t h e invasion of Iraq, t h e plantat i o n m e n t a l i t y t h a t governs W a s h i n g t o n turned m u c h of t h e press corps i n t o sitting ducks for g o v e r n m e n t and n e o c o n s e r v a t i v e propaganda. T h e r e were n o t a b l e e x c e p t i o n s — K n i g h t Ridder's bureau, for o n e — b u t on t h e whole all high-ranking officials had to do was say it, and t h e press repeated i t until i t b e c a m e gospel. T h e h e i g h t o f myopia c a m e with t h e admission by a p r o m i n e n t Beltway a n c h o r t h a t he felt it his responsibil-

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ity to provide officials a forum to be heard. T h e watchdog group Fairness and A c c u r a c y in R e p o r t i n g found t h a t during t h e three weeks leading up t o t h e invasion, only 3 p e r c e n t o f U . S . sources o n t h e e v e n i n g news o f A B C , C B S , N B C , C N N , F O X , and P B S expressed skeptical opinions o f t h e impending war. Two years after 9 / 1 1 , almost 70 p e r c e n t of t h e public still t h o u g h t it likely t h a t S a d d a m Hussein was personally involved in t h e terrorist attacks of t h a t day. An Indiana s c h o o l t e a c h e r told The Washington Post, "From what we've heard from t h e media, it seems like w h a t t h e y feel is t h a t S a d d a m and t h e w h o l e Al Q a e d a thing are c o n n e c t e d . " W i t h a cuckolded media, t h e administration assured t h a t a large majority of t h e public shared this erroneous view during t h e buildup to t h e war—a propaganda feat t h a t S a d d a m h i m s e l f would h a v e envied. It is s t u n n i n g — a n d frightening—how major media organizations were willing, e v e n solicitous, h a n d puppets of a state propaganda campaign, c h e e r e d on by t h e partisan ideological press t h a t was pumping for war. T h e r e are o t h e r ways t h e p l a n t a t i o n mentality keeps reality from A m e r i c a n s . C o m p a r e d t o t h e magnitude o f t h e problem, t h e average person knows little about h o w m o n e y determines policy. Polls tell us that most people generally assume t h a t m o n e y controls our political system. But people will rarely act on s o m e t h i n g they understand only in the abstract. It t o o k a c o n s t a n t stream of images—water hoses, dogs, and c h u r c h e s ablaze—for t h e public at large finally to understand what was happening to b l a c k people in t h e S o u t h . It t o o k repeated scenes of devastation i n V i e t n a m before t h e majority o f A m e r i c a n s saw h o w w e were destroying t h e country to save it. A n d it t o o k repeated c r i m e - s c e n e images to m a i n t a i n public support for many policing and s e n t e n c i n g policies. Likewise, people h a v e to see h o w m o n e y in politics actually works, and c o n c r e t e l y grasp t h e c o n s e q u e n c e s for their p o c k e t b o o k s and their lives, before they will act. O u r press supplies almost n o t h i n g t h a t would reveal who really wags t h e world, a n d how. W h e n I w a t c h o n e of those faux debates on a W a s h i n g t o n public affairs show, with o n e politician saying this is a bad bill and t h e o t h e r politician saying this is a good bill,

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I yearn to see t h e smiling, nodding Beltway a n c h o r suddenly interrupt and insist: " G o o d bill or bad bill, this is a bought bill. W h o s e financial interest are you serving h e r e ? " T h e n t h e r e are t h e social costs of "free trade." F o r more t h a n a decade, free trade has h o v e r e d o v e r t h e political system like a b i b l i c a l c o m m a n d m e n t , striking down anything that gets in t h e way of unbridled greed. L i k e d o m i n o e s they h a v e fallen: trade unions, e n v i r o n m e n t a l prot e c t i o n s , indigenous rights, e v e n t h e c o n s t i t u t i o n a l standing of our own laws passed by our e l e c t e d representatives. T h e broader negative c o n s e q u e n c e of this agenda—increasingly well d o c u m e n t e d by scholars—gets virtually no a t t e n t i o n in t h e d o m i n a n t media. Instead we get optimistic scenarios of c o o r d i n a t e d global growth, and instead of substantive deb a t e , we get a stark, formulaic c h o i c e b e t w e e n free trade to h e l p t h e world and gloomy-sounding " p r o t e c t i o n i s m " t h a t will set everyone b a c k . T h e degree to w h i c h this has b e c o m e a purely ideological debate, devoid of any factual basis t h a t c a n help people weigh n e t gains and losses, is reflected in T h o m a s Friedman's astonishing c l a i m , stated n o t long ago in a television interview, t h a t he endorsed t h e C e n t r a l A m e r i c a n F r e e Trade A g r e e m e n t without e v e n reading i t — t h a t is, simply b e cause it stood for "free trade." No questions asked. It is n o t indifference or laziness or i n c o m p e t e n c e t h a t plagues t h e press, but simply t h e fact t h a t most journalists on t h e p l a n t a t i o n h a v e so internalized c o n v e n t i o n a l wisdom t h e y simply a c c e p t t h e system is working as it should. Similarly, t h e question of w h e t h e r our political a n d e c o n o m i c syst e m is truly just or n o t is off t h e table for investigation and discussion by our d o m i n a n t media elites. A l t e r n a t i v e ideas, alternative critiques, altern a t i v e visions rarely get a hearing, and uncomfortable realities—growing inequality, t h e resegregation of our public schools, t h e devastating onward m a r c h of e n v i r o n m e n t a l deregulation—are obscured because ind e p e n d e n t sources of knowledge and analysis are so few and far b e t w e e n . So if we n e e d to k n o w what is happening, and Big M e d i a won't tell us; if we need to k n o w why it matters, and B i g M e d i a won't tell us; if we

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n e e d to k n o w w h a t to do about it, a n d B i g M e d i a w o n ' t t e l l us—it's clear w h a t we h a v e to do: we h a v e to tell t h e story ourselves. T h i s is what t h e p l a n t a t i o n owners h a v e always feared. O v e r all those decades in t h e S o u t h w h e n t h e y used h u m a n beings as c h a t t e l and quoted scripture to justify it, they secretly lived in fear t h a t o n e day, instead of saying, "Yes, Massa," those gaunt, weary, sweat-soaked field hands b e n d i n g low over t h e c o t t o n under t h e burning sun would suddenly stand up straight, l o o k around at their stooped and sweltering kin, and a n n o u n c e : " T h i s c a n ' t b e t h e product o f intelligent design. T h e boss man's b e e n lying to m e . S o m e t h i n g is wrong with this system." T h i s is t h e m o m e n t freedom b e g i n s — t h e m o m e n t you realize someo n e else has b e e n writing your story and it's t i m e you t o o k t h e p e n from his h a n d and started writing it yourself. W h e n t h e garbage workers struck here in 1 9 6 8 , and t h e walls of these buildings e c h o e d with t h e cry "I am a m a n , " they were writing their own story. M a r t i n L u t h e r K i n g Jr. c a m e here t o h e l p t h e m t e l l it, only t o die o n t h e b a l c o n y o f t h e Lorraine M o t e l . T h e bullet killed h i m , but it couldn't kill t h e story. You c a n ' t kill t h e story o n c e t h e people start writing it. I ' m b a c k n o w where I started—with you a n d with your m o v e m e n t . T h e greatest c h a l l e n g e t o t h e p l a n t a t i o n m e n t a l i t y o f t h e media giants is t h e i n n o v a t i o n and expression made possible by t h e digital revolution. I may still prefer t h e newspaper for its investigative journalism a n d indepth analysis, but we n o w h a v e in our hands t h e m e a n s to tell a differe n t story t h a n Big M e d i a tells. I m e a n t h e other story of A m e r i c a t h a t says free speech is n o t just corporate speech, t h a t news is n o t just what officials say it is, t h a t people are n o t just c h a t t e l in t h e field, living the boss man's story. T h i s is t h e real gift of t h e digital revolution. T h e Internet, and cell p h o n e s and digital cameras that c a n transmit images over t h e I n t e r n e t , m a k e possible a n a t i o n of storytellers—every citizen a T o m P a i n e . L e t t h e m a n i n the big house o n Pennsylvania A v e n u e t h i n k that over. A n d t h e w o m a n o f t h e House o n C a p i t o l Hill. A n d t h e media moguls in their c h a l e t s at S u n Valley, gathered to review t h e plantation's assets and multiply t h e m . N a i l it to t h e d o o r — t h e y no longer o w n t h e

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copyright to A m e r i c a ' s story; it's n o t a top-down story a n y m o r e . O t h e r folks are going to write t h e story from t h e ground up and t h e truth will be out, t h a t t h e media p l a n t a t i o n , like t h e c o t t o n p l a n t a t i o n of old, is n o t divinely s a n c t i o n e d , and it's n o t t h e product of natural forces. R o b e r t M c C h e s n e y h a s eloquently reminded u s h o w e a c h m e d i u m — radio, television, and c a b l e — w a s hailed as a t e c h n o l o g y t h a t would give us greater diversity of v o i c e s , serious news, local programs, and lots of public service for t h e c o m m u n i t y . B u t in e a c h t h e advertisers t o o k over. M o r e t h a n o n e hundred times i n t h e C o m m u n i c a t i o n s A c t o f 1 9 3 4 you will read t h e phrase "public interest, c o n v e n i e n c e and necessity." Educators, u n i o n officials, religious leaders, parents were galvanized by t h e promise of radio as "a classroom for t h e air," serving t h e life of t h e c o u n try and t h e life of t h e mind. T h e n t h e media lobby c u t a deal with t h e g o v e r n m e n t to m a k e c e r t a i n n o t h i n g would t h r e a t e n t h e already vested interests of emerging radio networks and t h e advertising industry. W h a t h a p p e n e d to radio t h e n h a p p e n e d subsequently to television and to c a b l e , and if we are n o t diligent, it will h a p p e n to t h e I n t e r n e t . We will e n d up with a media p l a n t a t i o n for t h e twenty-first century d o m i n a t e d by t h e same corporate and ideological forces t h a t produced t h e system we h a v e today. T w i c e n o w you've shown us what c a n be d o n e to confront t h e plant a t i o n owners. Four years ago w h e n F C C c h a i r m a n M i c h a e l Powell and his ideological sidekicks decided t h a t it was OK if a single corporation o w n e d a community's major newspaper, t h r e e of its TV stations, eight radio stations, its c a b l e - T V system, and its major broadband I n t e r n e t provider, you said, "Enough's enough." Free Press, C o m m o n C a u s e , C o n sumers U n i o n , M e d i a A c c e s s P r o j e c t , t h e N a t i o n a l A s s o c i a t i o n for H i s p a n i c Journalists, and others, working closely with commissioners J o n a t h a n A d e l s t e i n and M i c h a e l Copps, b e g a n organizing public hearings across t h e country. P e o p l e spoke up about h o w poorly t h e m e d i a was serving t h e i r c o m m u n i t i e s . You flooded Congress with petitions. You n e v e r let up. W h e n t h e court said C h a i r m a n Powell h a d to b a c k off, t h e d e c i s i o n cited t h e i m p o r t a n c e o f involving t h e public i n these m e d i a decisions. Incidentally, Powell n o t only b a c k e d off, he b a c k e d out. He left

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t h e c o m m i s s i o n to b e c o m e "senior adviser" at a "private i n v e s t m e n t firm specializing in equity i n v e s t m e n t s in m e d i a c o m p a n i e s around t h e world." T h a t firm made a bid to t a k e over b o t h t h e T r i b u n e and C l e a r C h a n n e l , two mega-media c o m p a n i e s t h a t just a short t i m e ago were under t h e corporate friendly purview o f . . . you guessed i t . . . M i c h a e l Powell. T h a t whishing sound you h e a r is W a s h i n g t o n ' s perpetually revolving door, through w h i c h they c o m e to serve t h e public and through w h i c h they leave t o j o i n t h e p l a n t a t i o n . You showed t h a t t h e public cares about media and democracy. You turned a little-publicized v o t e on a seemingly arcane regulation i n t o a big political fight and public debate. It's true, as C o m m i s s i o n e r Copps has reminded us, t h a t s i n c e t h a t b a t t l e three years ago, more t h a n 3 , 3 0 0 T V and radio stations h a v e h a d their assignment and transfer grants approved. E v e n under t h e old rules, c o n s o l i d a t i o n grows, localism suffers, and diversity dwindles. It's also true t h a t e v e n as we speak M i c h a e l Powell's successor, K e v i n M a r t i n , put t h e r e by President Bush, is ready to take up where Powell left off and give t h e green light to more c o n g l o m eration. So get ready to fight. M o r e r e c e n t l y you lit a fire under citizens to put W a s h i n g t o n on n o tice t h a t it had to guarantee t h e Internet's First A m e n d m e n t p r o t e c t i o n in t h e t e l e c o m industry. B e c a u s e of you, t h e so-called I n t e r n e t neutrality—I prefer to c a l l it t h e "equal a c c e s s " provision of t h e I n t e r n e t — b e c a m e a public issue that o n c e again reminded t h e powers t h a t be that people want t h e media to foster democracy. T h i s is crucial because in a few years virtually all media will be delivered by high-speed broadband, and without equality o f access t h e N e t could b e c o m e just like c a b l e television, where t h e provider decides w h a t you see and what you pay. Inside t h e Beltway p l a n t a t i o n , t h e media thought t h e merger b e t w e e n B e l l S o u t h and A T & T — t h e largest t e l e c o m m u n i c a t i o n s merger in our history—was on a fast track for approval. A f t e r all, t h e B u s h D e p a r t m e n t of J u s t i c e had blessed t h e deal last O c t o b e r without a single c o n d i t i o n o r s t a t e m e n t o f c o n c e r n . B u t t h e y h a d n ' t r e c k o n e d with M i c h a e l C o p p s a n d J o n a t h a n A d e l s t e i n and w i t h this m o v e m e n t . Free Press and S a v e t h e l n t e r n e t . c o m orchestrated eight hundred organiza-

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tions, 1.5 m i l l i o n petitions, countless local events, legions of h o m e m a d e videos, smart c o l l a b o r a t i o n with allies in industry, and a top-shelf c o m m u n i c a t i o n s c a m p a i g n . W h o would h a v e imagined t h a t sitting t o g e t h e r in t h e same d e m o c r a t i c broadband pew would be t h e C h r i s t i a n C o a l i tion, G u n O w n e r s o f A m e r i c a , C o m m o n C a u s e , and M o v e O n . o r g ? W h o would h a v e imagined t h a t these would link arms with some of t h e most powerful "new media" c o m p a n i e s to fight for t h e Internet's First A m e n d m e n t ground? W e owe a tip o f t h e h a t t o R e p u b l i c a n c o m m i s s i o n e r R o b e r t M c D o w e l l . Despite what must h a v e b e e n a great deal of pressure from his side, he did t h e h o n o r a b l e thing and removed h i m s e l f from t h e proceedings because o f a conflict o f interest. S o A T & T had t o cry " u n c l e " t o C o p p s and A d e l s t e i n with a "voluntary c o m m i t m e n t " to h o n o r equal a c cess for at least two years. T h e agreement marks the first t i m e t h a t t h e federal g o v e r n m e n t has imposed true neutrality—equal access—requirem e n t s on an I n t e r n e t access provider since t h e d e b a t e erupted almost two years ago. You c h a n g e d t h e terms of t h e debate. It is no longer about w h e t h e r equality of access will g o v e r n t h e future of t h e I n t e r n e t ; it's about w h e n and how. It also signals a c h a n g e from defense to offense for t h e backers o f a n o p e n N e t . Arguably t h e biggest, most effective o n l i n e organizing c a m p a i g n ever c o n d u c t e d on a media issue c a n now turn to passing good laws rather t h a n always h a v i n g to fight to b l o c k bad ones. S e n a t o r B y r o n Dorgan, a D e m o c r a t , and S e n a t o r O l y m p i a S n o w e , a R e publican, introduced t h e I n t e r n e t Freedom Preservation A c t i n January 2 0 0 7 t o require fair and equitable access t o all c o n t e n t . A n d o v e r i n t h e House, those c h a m p i o n s o f t h e public interest—Edward M a r k e y and M a u r i c e H i n c h l e y — w i l l be leading t h e fight. I bring this up for a reason. Big M e d i a is ravenous. It n e v e r gets enough, it always wants more, and it will stop at n o t h i n g to get it. Last week o n his W e b site M e d i a C h a n n e l . o r g , D a n n y S c h e c h t e r recalled h o w some years ago he m a r c h e d with a b a n d of media activists to t h e headquarters o f all t h e B i g M e d i a c o m p a n i e s c o n c e n t r a t e d i n t h e T i m e s S q u a r e area. T h e i r formidable buildings, fronted with logos and limos a n d guarded by rent-a-cops, projected their power and prestige. D a n n y

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and his c o h o r t s c h a n t e d a n d h e l d up signs calling for h o n e s t news and an end to exploitative programming. T h e y called for diversity and access for m o r e perspectives. "It felt good," D a n n y said, but "seemed like a fool's errand. W e were ignored, patronized, and marginalized. W e couldn't shake t h e i r edifices or influence t h e i r holy 'business models'; we seemed to many like t h a t lonely and forlorn nut in a New Yorker c a r t o o n carrying an 'end of t h e world is n e a r ' placard." W e l l , yes, that's e x a c t l y h o w they want us to feel—as if m e d i a and d e m o c r a c y are a fool's errand. To his credit, D a n n y didn't buy it. He's never given up. N e i t h e r h a v e some of t h e earlier pioneers in this m o v e m e n t — A n d y S c h w a r t z m a n , D o n Hazen, J e f f C h e s t e r . L e t m e confess t h a t I c a m e very close to n o t making this s p e e c h today, in favor of just getting up h e r e and reading from this b o o k — D i g i t a l Destiny, by J e f f Chester. M a k e this your bible. As D o n Hazen writes in his review on A l ternet this week, it's a "respectful, loving, fresh, i n t i m a t e c o m p r e h e n s i v e history of t h e struggles for a 'democratic m e d i a ' — t h e lost fights, t h e opportunities missed, and t h e small victories t h a t h a v e kept t h e corporate media system from having c o m p l e t e carte b l a n c h e over t h e c o m m u n i c a tions c h a n n e l . " It's also a scary b o o k . J e f f describes h o w "we are being shadowed o n line by a slew of software digital gumshoes working for M a d i s o n A v e n u e . O u r m o v e m e n t s in cyberspace are closely tracked and analyzed. A n d interactive advertising infiltrates our unconsciousness to p r o m o t e t h e 'brandwashing of A m e r i c a . ' " J e f f asks t h e hard questions: Do we really w a n t television sets t h a t m o n i t o r w h a t w e w a t c h ? O r a n I n t e r n e t t h a t knows what sites we visit and reports b a c k to advertising companies? Do we really w a n t a m e d i a system designed mainly for advertisers? B u t this is also a hopeful book. Here's a m a n who practices w h a t t h e Italian philosopher G r a m s c i called " t h e pessimism o f t h e i n t e l l e c t and t h e optimism of t h e will." J e f f C h e s t e r sees t h e world as it is and tries to c h a n g e it despite what he knows. So you'll find here t h e c o r e of this m o v e m e n t ' s mission. B u t as t h e P r o j e c t in E x c e l l e n c e c o n c l u d e d in its S t a t e of the M e d i a R e p o r t for 2 0 0 6 , " A t m a n y old-media c o m p a n i e s , t h o u g h n o t all, t h e

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decades-long b a t t l e at t h e top b e t w e e n idealists and a c c o u n t a n t s is now over. T h e idealists h a v e lost." T h e c o m m e r c i a l networks are lost, t o o — lost t o trivia, farce, and ideology. N o t m u c h h o p e t h e r e . C a n ' t raise t h e dead. So o t h e r ways must be secured if t h e public is to h a v e access to diverse, independent, and credible sources of information. T h a t m e a n s going to t h e m a r k e t to find support for stronger i n d e p e n d e n t media. ( M i c h a e l M o o r e and others h a v e proved progressivism doesn't h a v e to equal penury.) It means helping to protect news gathering from predatory forces. It m e a n s fighting for m o r e participatory media, hospitable to a full range of expression. It m e a n s building on L a w r e n c e Lessig's n o t i o n o f t h e creative c o m m o n and Brewster Kahle's I n t e r n e t archives with t h e philosophy of universal access to all knowledge. It m e a n s bringing broadband service to those many millions of A m e r i c a n s w h o are too poor to participate in t h e digital revolution. It m e a n s ownership for w o m e n and people of color. It means reclaiming public broadcasting and restoring it to its original robust a n d fearless mission as an alternative to t h e d o m i n a n t media, offering journalism you c a n ' t ignore, public affairs of w h i c h you're a part, and a wide range of c i v i c and cultural discourse t h a t leaves n o o n e out. W e n e e d t o r e m i n d people t h a t t h e federal c o m m i t m e n t to public broadcasting in this country is about $ 1 . 5 0 per capita c o m p a r e d t o $ 2 8 t o $ 8 5 per capita i n o t h e r d e m o c r a c i e s . T h a t ' s quite an agenda, and there's no assurance you will succeed. T h e armies of t h e Lord are up against mighty hosts. B u t as t h e spiritual leader T h o m a s M e r t o n wrote to an activist grown weary and discouraged while protesting t h e V i e t n a m W a r : " D o n o t depend o n t h e h o p e o f res u i t s . . . c o n c e n t r a t e o n t h e value . . . and t h e truth o f t h e work itself." A n d in case you do get lonely, I'll leave you with this. As my p l a n e was c i r c l i n g M e m p h i s t h e o t h e r day I looked out across those vast miles of fertile soil t h a t o n c e were p l a n t a t i o n s watered by t h e Mississippi R i v e r and t h e sweat from t h e brows of countless m e n and w o m e n w h o had b e e n forced to live s o m e o n e else's story. I t h o u g h t about h o w in time they rose u p — o n e h e r e , t h e n two, t h e n many—forging a great m o v e m e n t t h a t s u m m o n e d A m e r i c a ' s c o n s c i e n c e and brought us close to t h e elusive but beautiful promise of t h e D e c l a r a t i o n of Indepen-

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d e n c e . As we made our last approach to land, t h e words of a Marge Piercy p o e m began to form in my head, and I remembered all over again why we were c o m i n g h e r e .

What can they do to you? Whatever they want. They can set you up, they can bust you, they can break your fingers, they can bum your brain with electricity, blur you with drugs till you can't walk,

can't remember,

they can

take your child, wall up your lover.

They can do anything

you can't stop them from doing. them?

How can you stop

Alone,

you can fight,

you can refuse, you can take what revenge you can but they roll over you.

But two people fighting back to back can cut through a mob, a snake-dancing file can break a cordon, an army can meet an army.

Two people can keep each other sane,

can give support,

conviction,

love, massage, hope, sex. Three people are a delegation, a committee, a wedge.

With four

you can play bridge and start an organization.

With six

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you can rent a whole house, eat pie for dinner with no seconds,

and hold a fund raising party.

A dozen make a demonstration. A hundred fill a hall. A thousand have solidarity and your own newsletter; ten thousand, power and your own paper; a hundred thousand, ten million,

your own media;

your own country.

It goes on one at a time, it starts when you care to act, it starts when you do it again after they said no, it starts when you say We and know who you mean, and each day you mean one more*

*Marge Piercy, "The Low Road," The Moon Is Always Female (New York: Alfred A Knopf, 1 9 8 0 ) .

25

JOURNALISM Annual Association

Conference

for

and

of

Education Mass

MATTERS the in

journalism

Communication

2007

9,

A U G U S T

In the buildup to the invasion of Iraq we learned what the late, great reporter A. J.

Liebling meant when he described the press as

bed of democracy." fellows wing

fell

to

The

the

warmongers

slat broke after the

floor:

establishment journalists,

masquerading

as

fair

"the weak slat under the

invasion and some strange

and

neocon polemicists,

balanced,

bedright-

administration

flaks

leaking lies as classified secrets—all romping on the same mattress in the foreplay dollars

to disaster. later,

still prominent,

Five

years,

thousands

of casualties,

and hundreds

still celebrated,

and still holding forth with no

than a weathercaster who has made a wrong prediction as temperature. quently

of billion

most of the media co-conspirators caught in flagrante delicto are

"Go,

ignored by

and

sin

no

the press.

presidential nomination races

more!"

is

Collectively,

began

to

roll

the

biblical

we never seem out

in

2007,

more

contrition

to the next day's injunction

most fre-

to learn.

As

the

Research

Pew

the

332

Center found

that

two-thirds

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of all political stories—in print,

television and radio—concentrated on ining the

candidates'

MOYERS

the

public records.

horse

The

race

study

at

the

concluded

online,

and on

expense

of exam-

that

the

coverage

had been sharply at odds with what the public says it wants, as voters are eager to know more about the candidates' positions on issues and their personal backgrounds, "Only

more

about

lesser-known

12 percent of the

stories

candidates,

seemed relevant

and to

more

voters'

about

debates.

decision making;

the rest were more about tactics and strategy," T h e New York Times noted. There

are

mance

always

exceptions

yields—America

to

whatever

produces

our

some

latest

dismal

world-class

collective

journalism,

perforincluding

coverage of the Iraq war by men and women as brave as Ernie Pyle—but 1 still wish we own, friend me

had some

kind of professional oath,

a Hippocratic

vow

of our

that might haunt us in the night when we stray from our mission. Michael

Winship,

of the prescience

journalistic vaguely

insider, talented"

president

of the

who

late

described

(ouch!).

of the

Writers

Guild,

Walter Lippmann, journalism

Nonetheless,

as

recently

the

ultimate

"the

Lippmann

last

also

My

reminded Washington

refuge

of

acknowledged

the that

while the press may be a weak reed on which to lean, it is the indispensable support

for

democracy:

In an exact sense the present crisis of western democracy is a crisis of journalism . .

. Everywhere today men are conscious that somehow

they must deal with questions more intricate than any that church or school had prepared them to understand.

Increasingly they know that

they cannot understand them if the facts are not quickly and steadily available . . . All that the sharpest critics of democracy have alleged is true, if there is no steady supply of trustworthy and relevant news. Incompetence and aimlessness,

corruption and disloyalty, panic and ulti-

mate disaster, must come to any people which is denied an assured access to the facts.

So it is that for all the blunders for which we are culpable, for all the disillusionment that has set in among journalists and

disappearing

news

broadcast journalism which so many

by

space, the

for

all

commercial

aspiring young journalists

with every fresh report of job cuts

the

desecration

networks,

for

are consigned,

especially all

the

visited

on

nonsense

to

and for all the fears

that corporate behavior is eroding the quality of the craft,

I still answer em-

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phatically

when

Sometimes it is

ON

young people difficult to

DEMOCRACY

ask,

urge

"Should them on,

I

go

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333

into journalism

especially

today?"

when serious questions

are being asked about how loyal our society is to the reality as well as the idea of an

independent and free

press.

But

I

almost always

answer,

"Yes—if you

have a fire in your belly, you can still make a difference." I try to explain my answer Mass

in

this

speech

Communication—the

to

the

teachers

Association for who

often

Education light

in Journalism

and

that fire.

* * *

H a l f a century ago my o w n journalism t e a c h e r s — S e l m a Brotze in high school, C e c i l Shuford and J i m Rogers a t N o r t h T e x a s S t a t e , and D e w i t t R e d d i c k and Paul T h o m p s o n at the University of T e x a s — s t o k e d my passion for journalism, as you do for so many young people today. T h a t passion b l o o m e d early. In 1 9 5 0 , on my s i x t e e n t h birthday, I went to work for t h e daily newspaper in t h e small East T e x a s town where I grew up—the Marshall News Messenger. It was a good place to be a cub reporter—small enough to navigate but big e n o u g h to keep me busy and learning s o m e t h i n g every day. I s o o n had a stroke of good luck. S o m e of t h e old-timers were on v a c a t i o n or out sick, and I was assigned to cover what c a m e to be k n o w n as t h e "Housewives' R e b e l l i o n . " Fifteen w o m e n in my h o m e t o w n decided n o t to pay t h e S o c i a l Security withholding tax for their domestic workers. T h e y argued t h a t S o c i a l S e c u r i t y was u n c o n stitutional, t h a t imposing it was t a x a t i o n without representation, and that—here's my favorite part—"requiring us to c o l l e c t [the tax] is no different from requiring us to c o l l e c t t h e garbage." T h e y hired themselves a lawyer but lost t h e case and wound up holding their noses and paying t h e tax. I've t h o u g h t over t h e years about those w o m e n and t h e impact their story had on my life and on my journalism. T h e y were regulars at c h u r c h , their children were my friends, m a n y of t h e m were a c t i v e in c o m m u n i t y affairs, and their husbands were pillars of t h e business and professional class in town. T h e y were respectable and upstanding c i t i zens. So it took me a while to figure out what h a d brought on t h e i r spasm

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of reactionary rebellion. It c a m e to me o n e day many years later. Fiercely loyal to t h e i r families, to t h e i r clubs, charities, and c o n g r e g a t i o n s — fiercely loyal, in o t h e r words, to t h e i r o w n k i n d — t h e y narrowly defined d e m o c r a c y t o include only people like themselves. T h e w o m e n w h o washed and ironed their laundry, wiped t h e i r children's bottoms, made t h e i r husband's beds, and c o o k e d t h e i r families' meals, t h e s e w o m e n t o o would grow old and frail, sick and decrepit, lose their m e n and face t h e ravages of t i m e a l o n e , with n o t h i n g to show from their years of labor but t h e crease in their brow and t h e k n o t s on t h e i r knuckles. My life and work were marked by this e x p e r i e n c e . In t i m e I c a m e to realize t h a t small revolt in Marshall, Texas, embodied t h e oldest story in A m e r i c a : t h e struggle to d e t e r m i n e w h e t h e r " W e t h e P e o p l e " is a political r e a l i t y — o n e n a t i o n , indivisible—or merely an e c o n o m i c arrangem e n t masquerading as piety and manipulated by t h e powerful and privileged to sustain their o w n way of life at t h e e x p e n s e of others. S o m e of t h e stories I wrote about t h e housewives were picked up by t h e A s s o c i a t e d Press. O n e day t h e managing editor, S p e n c e r J o n e s , called m e over and pointed t o t h e A P ticker beside his desk. M o v i n g across t h e wire was a n o t i c e citing t h e News Messenger for our reporting. I was h o o k e d . I went off to college two years later with enough experie n c e to land a j o b working for t h e school's news office. T h e spring of my sophomore year I wrote a letter to S e n a t o r Lyndon B. J o h n s o n , w h o m I'd n e v e r met, and said I wanted to b e c o m e a political journalist; could he t e a c h me s o m e t h i n g about politics? I spent t h e summer in W a s h i n g t o n and t h e n at his urging transferred to t h e University of T e x a s where I attended classes full-time and worked overtime at t h e J o h n s o n s ' radio and television station. We were t h e first in T e x a s to buy a station wagon, paint it red, and christen it—what e l s e ? — R e d Rover. I wheeled around town in style, broadcasting from c r i m e scenes and a c c i d e n t s and t h e state legislature, w h i c h some people said was t h e biggest c r i m e s c e n e in town. My path led me on to graduate school, through seminary, and in 1 9 6 0 b a c k to W a s h i n g t o n , where I helped organize t h e P e a c e C o r p s before t h e assassination o f J o h n K e n n e d y thrust Lyndon J o h n s o n i n t o t h e

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W h i t e H o u s e and me w i t h h i m . I left in 1 9 6 7 to b e c o m e publisher of Newsday until it was sold to t h e Los Angeles Times, and t h e n made the leap from print t o television, t o P B S and C B S and b a c k again t o public t e l e v i s i o n — o n e o f those vagrant journalistic souls who, i n t o x i c a t e d with t h e m o m e n t , is always looking for t h e n e x t high: t h e lede yet to be written, t h e p h o t o yet t o b e taken, t h e interview yet t o b e c o n d u c t e d , t h e story yet to be told. I m e n t i o n all this n o t to review my CV with t h e i n t e n t i o n of applying for an adjunct p o s i t i o n — a l t h o u g h don't c o u n t t h a t o u t — b u t to put in perspective what I want to say about t h e c h a n g i n g landscape of journalism. Before he b e c a m e a celebrated humorist R o b e r t B e n c h l e y was a student at Harvard. He arrived at his final e x a m i n a t i o n in i n t e r n a t i o n a l law to find the test consisted of o n e question: "Discuss t h e abstract of the i n t e r n a t i o n a l fisheries protocol and dragnet and procedure as it affects ( A ) t h e p o i n t o f view o f t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s and ( B ) t h e point o f view o f G r e a t B r i t a i n . " B e n c h l e y was desperate but he was also h o n e s t . He wrote: " I k n o w n o t h i n g o f t h e point o f view o f G r e a t B r i t a i n i n regard t o t h e arbitration of t h e i n t e r n a t i o n a l fisheries problem and n o t h i n g of the p o i n t of view of t h e U. S. I will therefore discuss t h e issue from t h e p o i n t o f view o f t h e fish." Here's t h e p o i n t o f view o f o n e small fish i n t h e vast o c e a n o f media. Journalism's b e e n a good life for me. A c o n t i n u i n g course in adult e d u c a t i o n — m y own. I t e n a b l e d m e t o c o v e r t h e summits o f world leaders and t h e lives of poor people in Newark. I was paid richly as a C B S news analyst to put in my two c e n t s ' worth on just about anything t h a t had happened t h a t day. I produced documentaries on issues and subjects that fascinated me—from m o n e y in politics to t h e C h i n e s e e x p e r i e n c e in A m e r i c a , t h e history of t h e Hudson River, t h e power of myth, and t h e making of a poem. W i t h journalism c a m e a passport into t h e world of ideas—my favorite beat. I've enjoyed t h e sometimes intimidating privilege of talking to some of t h e wisest and sanest people around—scientists, historians, scholars, philosophers, artists, and writers—and asking t h e m important questions: W h y i s there s o m e t h i n g instead o f n o t h i n g ? W h a t do we m e a n by a moral life? C a n we learn to be creative?

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O n e of my favorite questions of a l l — w h a t does it m e a n to be a T e x a n ? — I put to t h e sainted writer, raconteur, and radio personality J o h n H e n r y Faulk shortly before his d e a t h i n 1 9 9 0 . Faulk was t h e popular C B S radio host h o u n d e d b y t h e right wing out o f his j o b a n d i n t o court where h e w o n a n important c a s e . J o h n Henry told m e t h e story o f h o w he and his friend B o o t s C o o p e r were playing in t h e c h i c k e n house b e h i n d their h o m e s in c e n t r a l T e x a s w h e n t h e y were about twelve years old. T h e y spied a c h i c k e n snake in t h e top tier of nests, so close it looked like a b o a constrictor. J o h n Henry said, " A l l our frontier courage drained out of our heels—actually, it trickled down our overall legs—and B o o t s and I made a n e w door through t h e h e n h o u s e wall." J o h n Henry's m o m m a c a m e out and, learning what all t h e fuss was about, said to t h e boys, " D o n ' t you k n o w c h i c k e n snakes are harmless? T h e y c a n ' t hurt you!" A n d B o o t s , rubbing his forehead and b e h i n d at t h e same t i m e , said, "Yes, Mrs. Faulk, I k n o w that, but they c a n scare you so bad, it'll cause you to hurt yourself." T h a t ' s an important lesson to t e a c h your students. I h a d to work hard at times to r e m e m b e r it. After t h e early twists a n d turns t h a t put me in t h e W h i t e House as L B J ' s press secretary, it t o o k me a while to get my footing b a c k in journalism. I h a d to learn all o v e r again t h a t what's important for t h e journalist is n o t h o w close you are to power but h o w close you are to reality. I would t o u c h t h a t reality in assignment after assignment, from reporting on famine in Africa and guerrilla war in C e n tral A m e r i c a to documentaries about working families in W i s c o n s i n ravaged by global e c o n o m i c s and corporate cruelty. I also h a d to relearn a n o t h e r of journalism's basic lessons. T h e j o b of trying to tell t h e truth about people whose j o b it is to hide t h e truth is almost as c o m p l i c a t e d and difficult as trying to hide it in t h e first p l a c e . O n e of my m e n t o r s told me t h a t "news is what people w a n t to k e e p hidden; everything else is publicity." W h e n you're digging for what's hidden, unless you're willing to fight and refight t h e same battles until you turn blue in t h e face, drive your colleagues nuts going o v e r every last detail to m a k e c e r t a i n you've got it right, and t h e n take h i t after unfair h i t accusing you of bias, there's no use e v e n trying. You h a v e to love it, and

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I do. B u t I h a v e h a d to keep telling myself to r e m e m b e r J o h n H e n r y Faulk's counsel: D o n ' t spook! W h e n t h e W a s h i n g t o n producer Sherry J o n e s and I reported t h e first documentary ever about t h e purchase of influence by political a c t i o n c o m m i t t e e s , we unfurled across t h e C a p i t o l grounds yard after yard o f c o m p u t e r printouts listing campaign c o n t r i b u t i o n s t o every m e m b e r o f Congress. O n t h a t printout were names o f politicians who had b e e n allies just a few years earlier w h e n I worked at the W h i t e House. S o m e of t h e m were e v e n supporters in Congress of public television, and they were outraged at our transgression. T h e y made themselves heard to P B S . T h e story told of t h e medieval k n i g h t w h o returns to t h e castle after a long a b s e n c e . He rides b a c k through t h e gate with his h e l m e t battered, his shield dented and broken, and his horse limping. T h e master of t h e castle looks down from t h e parapet and shouts, " S i r K n i g h t , w h a t has happened to you?" A n d t h e knight answers, " O h , S i r e , I've b e e n pillaging and plundering your e n e m i e s to t h e east and t h e west." T h e lord of t h e castle looks down at h i m puzzled and says, " B u t I h a v e no e n e m i e s to t h e east and t h e west." A n d t h e k n i g h t answers, "Now you do." W e l l , I'm h e r e to tell you we journalists h a v e e n e m i e s , too. Later, w h e n Sherry and I went digging i n t o t h e I r a n - C o n t r a scandal for our documentary High Crimes and Misdemeanors, Washington's rightwing vigilantes ran t o t h e i r allies i n Congress who accused P B S o f c o m mitting i n public t h e terrible s i n — h o r r o r s ! — o f journalism. T h e C l i n t o n W h i t e House also c o m p l a i n e d after we reported on t h e unbridled and illegal fund-raising by D e m o c r a t s in t h e 1 9 9 6 campaign. But taking on political scandal is n o t h i n g compared to what c a n h a p p e n if you raise questions about corporate power in W a s h i n g t o n . W h e n t h e indomitable producer M a r t y K o u g h a n and I started looking into t h e subject of pesticides and food for a Frontline documentary, Marty learned t h a t t h e industry was attempting b e h i n d closed doors to dilute t h e findings of a N a t i o n a l A c a d e m y of S c i e n c e s study on the effects of pesticide residues o n children. T h e industry heard w e were poking around and m o u n t e d a sophisticated and expensive c a m p a i g n to discredit our broadcast before it aired. T e l e v i s i o n reviewers and t h e edito-

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rial pages of key newspapers were flooded with allegations and innuendos. It was a steady whispering campaign, difficult to discern a n d c o n front. A c o l u m n i s t for The Washington Post t o o k a dig at t h e broadcast w i t h o u t e v e n seeing it and later admitted to me t h a t t h e dirt had b e e n supplied by a top lobbyist for t h e c h e m i c a l industry, who was his neighbor. T h e industry e v e n prepared letters, w h i c h some nervous publ i c television station managers signed and sent t o P B S i n W a s h i n g t o n protesting a film they hadn't e v e n seen. My colleagues at P B S stood firm—even though some of those snakes were b o a c o n s t r i c t o r s — a n d t h e documentary aired, t h e journalism held up, and t h e N a t i o n a l A c a d e m y of S c i e n c e s was e m b o l d e n e d to release t h e study that t h e industry had tried to stifle. B u t win t h e battle, and war goes o n . S h e r r y J o n e s and I spent more t h a n a year working on a n o t h e r documentary called Trade Secrets. T h i s o n e was a two-hour special based on revelations—found in t h e industry's o w n a r c h i v e s — t h a t big c h e m i c a l c o m p a n i e s had deliberately withheld from workers and consumers damaging information about t o x i c c h e m i cals in their products. T h e s e internal d o c u m e n t s were a fact. W h a t they c o n t a i n e d was n o t a m a t t e r of o p i n i o n or p o i n t of view. You could read right t h e r e in t h e industry's o w n records w h a t t h e c o m p a n i e s knew, w h e n they k n e w it, and what they did with what they k n e w — w h i c h was to bury it. T h e facts portrayed a deep and pervasive corruption in a major A m e r i c a n industry and raised profound implications for public policy. W h e n t h e c o m p a n i e s got wind o f w h a t w e were doing, they sharpened their h a t c h e t s and went to work. T h e y hired a public relations firm here in t o w n n o t e d for using private detectives and former C I A , F B I , and drug e n f o r c e m e n t personnel to investigate competitors and critics. O n e of t h e firm's founders is on record boasting of using " u n c o n v e n t i o n a l " m e t h o d s — i n c l u d i n g d e c e i t — o n b e h a l f of his clients. To say they tried to smear t h e messenger is an understatement. To c o m p l i c a t e matters, t h e single biggest congressional recipient of campaign c o n t r i b u t i o n s from t h e c h e m i c a l industry was t h e very m e m b e r o f C o n g r e s s whose c o m m i t tee had jurisdiction over public broadcasting's appropriations. We didn't

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use any public funds to produce t h e documentary, but that didn't spare P B S from a n o t h e r barrage of ferocious pressure. N o n e t h e l e s s , Trade S e crets aired—every fact d o c u m e n t e d — a n d a year later t h e N a t i o n a l A c a d e m y of T e l e v i s i o n n a m e d it t h e outstanding investigative documentary of t h e year. Nowadays journalists w h o try to dig up what's h i d d e n still bring down o n themselves t h e opprobrium o f g o v e r n m e n t and corporations. B u t they must also face t h e wrath of right-wing media whose worldview is to see a liberal lurking b e h i n d every fact. Journalism is under withering fire these days from ideologues—those true believers who h a v e closed t h e i r minds to all contrary e v i d e n c e and h u n g a sign on t h e door with t h e words:

DO N O T DISTURB.

A n y journalist whose reporting dares

to c h a l l e n g e t h e party line b e c o m e s a candidate for G u a n t a n a m o . R u s h Limbaugh, notably, railed against journalists for t h e i r reporting on t h e torture at A b u G h r a i b , w h i c h he dismissed as a little sport for soldiers under stress. He told his audience: " T h i s is no different from what happens at the S k u l l and B o n e s i n i t i a t i o n . . . You ever heard of people [who] n e e d to blow off some steam?" T h e Limbaugh line b e c a m e a drumb e a t i n t h e right-wing e c h o c h a m b e r from w h i c h m a n y millions o f A m e r i c a n now get their news. So I wasn't surprised to read t h a t n a t i o n wide survey by t h e Chicago Tribune in w h i c h h a l f of t h e respondents said there should h a v e b e e n s o m e kind of press restraint on reporting about t h e prison abuse and just as m a n y said they "would e m b r a c e governm e n t controls of some k i n d on free speech, especially if it is found unpattiotic." Imagine: free speech as sedition. T e l l your students: s i l e n c e is sedition. T h o s e of you who saw our documentary Buying the War k n o w that journalists w h o tried to c h a l l e n g e t h e administration's fabricated evid e n c e for invading Iraq found the patriot p o l i c e on t h e i r tail. W h a t e v e r K o o l - A i d he's brewing for The Wall Street Journal, Rupert M u r d o c h could m a k e a singular c o n t r i b u t i o n to journalism simply by uncoupling F o x N e w s from t h e R e p u b l i c a n fog m a c h i n e and giving it t h e mandate to report reality instead of attacking those who do. For sure we'd get

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m o r e real news—what R i c h a r d R e e v e s calls "the news you and I n e e d to keep our freedoms." I k n o w you h a v e s o m e sleepless nights o v e r what's h a p p e n i n g to journalism. I do. A vigorous struggle for t h e survival of professional journalistic values is playing out w i t h particular intensity inside t h e walls of your universities. T h e former Washington Post correspondent N e i l Henry, n o w t e a c h i n g at Berkeley, writes about this in his b o o k American Carnival: Journalism Under Siege in an Age of New Media. He says that those of you in e d u c a t i o n "are in a c o n s t a n t state of flux, fighting to stay current with evolving industry demands and t e c h n o l o g i c a l i n n o v a t i o n while also seeking to p r o t e c t t h e primacy of traditional standards in a world where such values are e i t h e r misguided or threatened." B e c a u s e you are on t h e front lines of t h a t struggle and k n o w t h e issues well, I won't belabor t h e obvious. But no day passes without a rem i n d e r of it. Last Sunday I picked up my copy of The New York Times at t h e c o r n e r newsstand. T h e price had gone u p t o $ 4 from $ 3 . 5 0 . T h e r e on t h e front page, below t h e fold, was a small b o x t h a t read:

Starting Monday, The Times is reducing the width of its pages by an inch and a half, to the national newspaper 12-inch standard. T h e move cuts newsprint expenses and, in some printing press locations, makes special configurations unnecessary. Slight modifications in design preserve the look and texture of The Times, with all existing features and sections and somewhat fewer words per page.

T h e r e you h a v e t h e sign of t h e times: m o r e money, less news. T h e rest is c o m m e n t a r y — t h e loss of advertising, t h e c o n s u m e r migration to digital media, c h a n g i n g viewer habits, shorter a t t e n t i o n spans. W i t h t h e rise of t h r e e - m i n u t e YouTube clips, I find myself t h i n k i n g about t h e late S a u l Bellow's prophesy during an interview I did with h i m two decades ago. He said t h e day would c o m e w h e n "no o n e will be heard w h o does n o t speak in short bursts of truth." S o m e t h i n g will be lost. Buying the

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War was a n i n e t y - m i n u t e documentary t h a t t o o k almost fifteen m o n t h s to produce. O u r expose Trade Secrets t o o k a year. K n i g h t Ridder's journalists J o n a t h a n Landay and W a r r e n S t r o b e l needed weeks to gather, and t h e n space to lay out, t h e e v i d e n c e t h a t c h a l l e n g e d t h e official view of reality leading up to t h e Iraq war. For reporters t i m e is the most valuable thing you invest; for W a l l S t r e e t , t h e o n l y measure is money. You c a n read in t h e morning's paper of t h e latest casualties from W a l l Street's assault o n t h e newsroom. S t a r t i n g last Thursday and c o n tinuing this week, managers at t h e Orange County Register h a v e b e e n tapping staffers on t h e shoulders a n d asking t h e m to leave. T h e editor told t h e m revenues are d o w n 14 p e r c e n t and profits 38 percent. Yet it was only three years ago t h a t t h e owner, t h e privately held F r e e d o m C o m m u n i c a t i o n s , I n c . , worked out a $ 1 . 3 b i l l i o n buyout deal t h a t saw m o r e t h a n h a l f o f t h e members o f t h e founding family cash out their holdings. Two private equity f i r m s — B l a c k s t o n e G r o u p a n d P r o v i d e n c e Equity Partners—purchased nearly 4 0 p e r c e n t o f t h e shares. N o w they are recouping t h e i r i n v e s t m e n t at t h e e x p e n s e of employees. M a n y are longtime reporters, including fifty-year-old M i c h e l e Himmelberg, whose coverage o f t h e N a t i o n a l F o o t b a l l League helped w o m e n reporters gain access to l o c k e r rooms and w o n equal-access policies for all journalists. S h e h a d b e e n working at t h e paper for nearly twenty-four years c o v e r i n g major news events and, in h e r words, "telling t h e stories of people who h a v e shaped our community." M i c h e l e H i m m e l b e r g could be speaking for thousands of journalists w h e n s h e was quoted by t h e Los Angeles Times: "News is a c o n s u m e r product t h a t will c o n t i n u e to be in demand. T h e question is, with t h e m e t h o d s of delivery c h a n g i n g , h o w do t h e people w h o tell t h e s e stories earn a living?" T h e q u e s t i o n goes beyond newspapers. I heard this w e e k from a tale n t e d freelance reporter in his thirties who made t h e media beat a specialty. He has b e e n practicing this craft for fifteen years and loves it, but he has an offer from a n o t h e r field and will probably take it. He told m e : " T h e p r o b l e m in journalism isn't t h a t there are no jobs; my students [he is an adjunct professor in a graduate j o u r n a l i s m program] inevitably e n d

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up with great starter j o b s . M o s t news organizations seem to prefer hiring freshly m i n t e d J - s c h o o l grads and h a v i n g t h e m learn t h e b e a t anew. B u t that's where everything's stuck: at t h e starter level. As a freelancer in broadcasting, I don't h a v e t h e profile in print to land big magazine assignments, t h e only kind t h a t pay well. I'm at t h e top of N P R ' s freelance scales, but N P R pays freelancers dismally—I m a k e less t h a n $ 1 , 0 0 0 for a piece t h a t takes four solid days to report and produce, w h i c h isn't nearly e n o u g h for a h o m e o w n e r who's paying his o w n h e a l t h premiums." T a l k t o t h e Writers G u i l d about this. M y colleague M i c h a e l W i n s h i p sent me t h e study t h e guild has just published describing h o w media c o n glomerates are destroying broadcast news with t h e same tactics o t h e r c o m p a n i e s are using against their workers. T h e y ' r e cutting staff resources and replacing full-time news writers with part-timers and temps. C B S a l o n e has cut t h e n u m b e r of full-time news staff by about 60 p e r c e n t s i n c e 1 9 8 0 ; t h e budget for t h e C B S Evening News, where I succeeded Eric S e v a r e i d as senior news analyst, was cut almost in h a l f from 1 9 9 1 to 2 0 0 0 . I n 1 9 8 9 , C B S network television news employed twenty-eight researchers; t e n years later, n o n e . H a l f t h e guild members reported t h a t at least several times a week, they use no more t h a n a single W e b site to c h e c k t h e accuracy of stories. W i n s h i p says t h a t some writers are working "off t h e c l o c k " to ensure t h a t t h e facts are properly c h e c k e d . W h e n t h e guild asked its members " D o you t h i n k your news outlet spends e n o u g h time and energy making sure t h a t your audience has e n o u g h information to m a k e sound judgments on issues relevant to public life?" 72 p e r c e n t said " N o t e n o u g h " or " N o t nearly enough." S m a l l wonder M S N B C a n c h o r M i k a Brzezinski recently tried t o burn a script on t h e air in frustration over being asked to lead t h e day's news with a story about Paris H i l t o n rather t h a n o n e about Bush's strategy in Iraq. For an old-timer like m e , this is all very sad. For young journalists it's all very confusing. T h a t ' s e x a c t l y what twenty-five-year-old S t e v e n B a r r i e - A n t h o n y wrote in a r e c e n t blog on t h e Huffington Post (for w h i c h he wasn't paid). B a r r i e - A n t h o n y had worked for a spell at t h e Los Ange-

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les Times before w i n n i n g a scholarship for further study, and now wrestling with a multimedia future. Here's what he writes:

It's a terribly confusing time to be a young journalist, but you won't hear many of us complaining out loud. Jobs are too precious, corporate owners too fickle . .. T h e subtext to any conversation about journalism, these days, is the effect of the Internet on newspapers and society in general. There's little question that the W e b will prove deadly to major newspapers unless we figure out how to make real money from online content. Among journalists and media watchers, there's a tendency to either bemoan this development as the end of days, or to worship the ambiguous phoenix emerging from these ashes. T h e N e t is either a democratizing force that will transcend fractious boundaries and borders and move us toward Buddhiststyle interconnection, or a barrage of contagious subjectivity masquerading as objectivity and undermining the very concept of truth. As young journalists, we straddle an interesting divide: we understand well and often trumpet the virtues of traditional journalism, and yet we sheepishly get much of our news online or via The Daily Show. We have MySpace accounts, write blogs and read them, and have come to view Google as an extension of the brain. At this very moment I'm ignoring the advice of a Pulitzer Prizewinning journalist friend, who maintains that writing for the Huffington Post without getting paid is a bad use of time and energy. My inky side understands the problem with journalists working gratis—it devalues the trade—while another part of me thirsts for the immediacy, the intimacy that this venue provides. .. This is clearly the worst of times. On the other hand, I sometimes find myself delighted by all this chaos and ferment. This point could be argued that the in-

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ventions of the quill and scroll, the printing press, the typewriter, the mimeograph, the ballpoint pen, the personal computer, and so forth, are in sum only half the equation in a large transformation to a written and shared conception of self and world. Now that the Internet has completed the circuit, given everybody access to an audience, the point could be argued that society has been so dramatically altered that traditional journalism . . . has been rendered largely moot. Could this be—I dare say it—the best of times?

At almost t h r e e times his age I would no doubt strike t h a t twentyfive-year-old as a codger, but in fact I understand t h e tug he's feeling. I'll m a k e a confession to you. I start my day with J o s h Marshall and e n d it with J o n S t e w a r t — a n d b o t h of t h e m were on my first broadcast this year. J o s h Marshall because his t a l k i n g p o i n t s m e m o . c o m drove t h e story of t h e firings of t h e federal prosecutors; without t h e muscle and m o n e y of t h e mainstream press J o s h relies instead on a small underfunded network of journalists whose single-mindedness is a thing to b e h o l d and imitate. J o n S t e w a r t because M a r k Twain is alive and well on C o m e d y C e n t r a l holding t h e powers t h a t be a c c o u n t a b l e to i n t e l l i g e n c e and wit. W h e t h e r it's t h e best of times or t h e worst, I c a n ' t say. B u t I r e m e m ber from my seminary studies t h a t as A d a m and E v e were on their way out of t h e G a r d e n he reportedly said to her: " M y dear, we live in a t i m e o f transition." So do we, and this association needs to lead t h e way in m a k i n g sure journalists c a n d o t h e best o f things i n t h e worst o f times. W e n e e d t o c a l l on our field, our craft, our allies, sympathizers, and t h e public to address what is at stake in this n e w world order—because t h e market will n o t deliver to d e m o c r a c y t h e news we n e e d to survive. W h i l e I was at C B S N e w s b a c k in t h e 1 9 8 0 s , I saw firsthand t h e deleterious impact of R e a g a n - e r a deregulation. Television, according to t h e F C C c h a i r m a n M a r k Fowler, was just a n o t h e r a p p l i a n c e — a "toaster with pictures." A c c o m p a n y i n g t h a t first major wave of deregulation were c h a n g e s i n t h e ownership o f t h e t h r e e major broadcast networks o f t h a t

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time. As a result of those takeovers, e l e c t r o n i c journalism t o o k a serious hit, w i t h investigative reporting and serious long-form documentary programming eliminated and overseas bureaus closed. T h e c o m m i s s i o n today is besieged for favors on b e h a l f of t h e corporations t h a t largely c o n t r o l our media and t e l e c o m m u n i c a t i o n s systems. T h e s e industries spend e v e n m o r e t h a n t h e oil-and-gas lobby to influence t h e governm e n t . As a result we h a v e fewer owners of t h e key media o u t l e t s — a trend n o w e x t e n d i n g into n e w media as well. In addition to Murdoch's acquisition of M y S p a c e , G o o g l e is buying t h e country's most important digital video distribution service, Y o u T u b e . G o o g l e is also in t h e process of further expanding its advertising power with t h e purchase of D o u b l e C l i c k , a n o t h e r leading o n l i n e advertising battle. V i a c o m , T i m e Warner, Microsoft, Y a h o o , and others h a v e b e e n c o l l e c t i v e l y spending hundreds of millions to strengthen their position in t h e new world of broadband interactive media. T h e r e has b e e n b r e a t h t a k i n g — a n d largely unreported—spending to acquire or merge with c o m p a n i e s in t h e media and t e l e c o m m u n i c a t i o n s field. I n 2 0 0 6 , there were $ 7 2 b i l l i o n worth o f mergers and acquisitions in t h e e n t e r t a i n m e n t and media sector alone, along with an array of corporate alliances involving media, technology, and distribution companies. In t h e first h a l f of this year, $ 3 3 . 4 billion worth of mergers and acquisitions h a v e t a k e n place in t h e marketing and advertising field, according to Advertising Age. T h e key to t h e media future, it seems, is controlling and utilizing c o n s u m e r data for targeted a u d i e n c e s — i n t e r a c t i v e marketing to t r a c k us wherever we are and to create ever-evolving digital profiles of our interests so t h a t "they" c a n send us personalized and powerful interactive messages designed to get us to b e h a v e in ways "they wish." Buy this car, v o t e for t h a t candidate. T a k e a l o o k at what Advertising Age says about Murdoch's r e c e n t coup:

A News Corp-owned Wall Street Journal begs a question: in a world where the attention of consumers and hence advertisers is

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divided among video games, American Idol, and the like, can a business built solely to deliver news—especially long, serious articles about complicated topics—remain independent and successf u l ? . . . T h e nation's leading purveyor of business information, still an agenda-setter for the planet's biggest economy, becomes a cog in a vertically integrated, multinational creator and distributor of entertainment, a machine engineered to pump out synergies such as The Simpsons movie or, more scarily, that aborted O. J. Simpson extravaganza, rather than Pulitzers . .. Sure, Mr. Murdoch will pump capital into the paper, allowing it to build out its international operation, but some are predicting that one effect of that bulking up could be to further his business goals, especially in China. And Journal reportage, now a means to the purist end of watch-dogging the business community, will be called upon also to add more grist to that massive multimedia content mill, in the form of the Fox business network—which is already being positioned as more pro-business than C N B C , absurd as that sounds.

You would h o p e t h a t in a society where capitalism a n d corporations h a v e m o r e power t h a n any o t h e r aggregation of h u m a n beings, t h e business press would bark as loud as t h e most vigilant watchdogs in W a s h ington. D o n ' t b e t on it from Murdoch's empire. He flatters power to profit from it, and there's no reason to t h i n k he will c h a n g e w h e n he d o m i n a t e s business news. W h e r e , t h e n , does journalism stand as t h e future of our media world is being determined by t h e likes of M u r d o c h and by business models t h a t target us as consumers instead of citizens? H o n e s t reporting is so essential to t h e food c h a i n of democracy, we c a n ' t just throw up our hands and say t h a t newspapers and professional journalism h a v e to a c c e p t a fate where

they

become

more

marginalized—or made

irrelevant

from

c h a n g e s in attitudes and behaviors about media, especially from young people. But if journalism remains a vital profession, secure in its mission to report on reality without fear or favor, we n e e d a serious, widespread,

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sustained public campaign for the press in democracy. You c a n be in t h e vanguard to engage t h e field in its m i s s i o n — a n d to help educate and inform t h e public about t h e c o n s e q u e n c e s and c h o i c e s regarding t h e fate of journalism. We n e e d a public debate to h e l p light up this crossroad, o n e t h a t will take us from t h e old m e d i a world e v e n m o r e fully i n t o t h e new digital o n e . We c a n ' t l o o k to t h e conglomerates to tell us what's really going on. E x c e p t on t h e business page, the news media has b e e n largely silent about t h e deregulation and media mergers t h a t are happening at t h e e x pense of journalism. During t h e debate on t h e deregulatory T e l e c o m m u n i c a t i o n s A c t of 1 9 9 6 , w h i c h included a massive giveaway of public property—the airwaves—to t h e T V networks and o t h e r broadcasters, television virtually ignored t h e story. It was newspapers without any broadcast interests t h a t t o o k a stand editorially against t h e giveaway— versus t h e many papers t h a t were e i t h e r silent or supported t h e Beltway deal to b e t t e r p r o m o t e t h e i r corporate agendas. So we n e e d to go to t h e public to affirm foursquare t h a t journalism matters. Let's remind t h e country of t h e crucial role investigative reporting plays; how news bureaus abroad are a form of "national security" t h a t c a n be relied on to tell us what our g o v e r n m e n t won't; h o w as A m e r i c a grows more diverse, it's essential to h a v e reporters, editors, producers, and writers w h o abundantly reflect those n e w v o i c e s and c o n c e r n s ; h o w t h e independent and truth-seeking journalist arms citizens with t h e information they n e e d to hold t h e powerful a c c o u n t a b l e . I know. I know. W e ' r e up against t h e odds. Ed W a s s e r m a n of W a s h ington and L e e U n i v e r s i t y writes o f t h e "palpable sense o f d e c l i n e , o f rot, of a loss of spine, determination, gutlessness" t h a t pervades t h e field today. David S i m o n goes further. T h e former Baltimore Sun reporter c o v ered urban life so brilliantly t h a t his work inspired books and TV series such as Homicide and The Wire. N o w he expresses increasing c y n i c i s m "about t h e ability of daily journalism to affect any kind of meaningful c h a n g e . " A n d h e concludes: " O n e o f t h e sad things about contemporary journalism is t h a t it actually matters very little."

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Maybe. B u t H r a n t D i n k thought journalism matters. H e edited t h e only A r m e n i a n newspaper in Turkey. "I w a n t to write and ask h o w we c a n c h a n g e this historical conflict i n t o p e a c e , " h e told t h e C o m m i t t e e t o P r o t e c t Journalists. D i n k was t h e target of death threats from n a t i o n a l ists w h o saw his work as an a c t of treachery. A n d on January 19 he was shot and killed outside his newspaper's offices. H r a n t D i n k died because journalism matters. S a h a r Hussein A l i al-Haydari thought journalism matters. Targeted twice for abduction last year, she had recovered after surgery following an assassin's a t t e m p t on h e r life. L a t e r in t h e year a g u n m a n killed h e r fia n c e . Al-Haydari was investigating a suicide a t t a c k on a police station w h e n she, too, was shot to death. N o t knowing she was dead, a source called to give h e r more information for t h e story. O n e of t h e g u n m e n answered h e r p h o n e and said to t h e caller: " S h e went to H e l l . " S a h a r Hussein A l i al-Haydari died because journalism matters. Luis Carlos B a r b o n F i l h o thought journalism matters. He was thirtyseven, a reporter for t e n years, w h o drew a t t e n t i o n in 2 0 0 3 with an investigation i n t o a c h i l d prostitution ring for his daily paper, Realidade. His work resulted in t h e arrests and c o n v i c t i o n of four businessmen, five local politicians, and a w a i t e r — o n l y t h e waiter is still in j a i l . After he was forced to shut down his paper because of financial problems, two masked assailants shot h i m twice at close range. He died, leaving his wife a widow and his two c h i l d r e n fatherless. B e c a u s e journalism matters. It mattered to Miguel Perez J u l c a , t h e popular Peruvian radio c o m mentator. His radio program, El Informativo del Pueblo (Bulletin of the People), uncovered allegations of g o v e r n m e n t corruption c o n n e c t e d to local c r i m e . For weeks he received death threats on his c e l l p h o n e . T h e n , o n M a r c h 17, two h o o d e d g u n m e n shot and killed Miguel Perez J u l c a in front of his wife and children. B e c a u s e journalism matters. C h a u n c e y B a i l e y believed journalism matters. T h e editor o f t h e Oakland Post was murdered a week ago on t h e streets of his city. T h e nineteen-year-old suspect told p o l i c e he ambushed and killed B a i l e y for

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writing n e g a t i v e stories a b o u t suspicious activities at a l o c a l bakery. Fift e e n hundred p e o p l e turned out this week for his funeral because journalism matters. T e l l your students t h a t journalism matters. T e l l t h e m over and again. S o t h a t n o m a t t e r t h e m e d i u m o r t h e t e c h n o l o g y o r t h e odds, some o f t h e m will go o u t to m a k e sure it does.

Part V

RELIGION

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354

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economics. landscape.

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BILL

compelling a

of the promises

I tried,

|

that was to shake

emerging plural-

I did not anticipate

the landscape one year after I deliv-

remarks.

* * *

I take my t e x t from P e t e r Shaffer's Equus, from t h e c h a r a c t e r M a r t i n Dysart:

I wish there was one person in my life I could show. O n e instinctive, absolutely unbrisk person I could take to Greece and stand in front of certain shrines and sacred streams and say, "Look! Life is only comprehensible through a thousand local gods. And not just the old dead ones with names like Zeus—no, but living G e niuses of Place and Person. And not just Greece, but modern England! Spirits of certain trees, certain curves of brick wall, certain chip shops, if you like, and slate roofs—just as of certain frowns in people and slouches" . . . I'd say to them: "Worship as many gods as you can see—and more will appear."

So it was in G r e e c e , and n o w in A m e r i c a . We are destined to b e c o m e a dynamically pluralistic society, and this is an e x c i t i n g t i me to be a journalist interested in t h e life of t h e spirit. O u r n a t i o n is being re-created right before our eyes. D i a n a E c k vividly describes an A m e r i c a dotted with mosques—in places like T o l e d o , P h o e n i x , and A t l a n t a . W e h a v e huge Hindu t e m p l e s — i n Pittsburgh, Albany, and California's S i l i c o n Valley. T h e r e are S i k h c o m m u -

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nities i n S t o c k t o n and Q u e e n s , N e w York, and Buddhist retreat centers in t h e mountains of V e r m o n t and W e s t Virginia. A Buddhist A m e r i c a n died on t h e Challenger. A Muslim A m e r i c a n is mayor of a town in my n a t i v e state o f T e x a s . Hindu A m e r i c a n s are n o w managers o f B o s t o n , Edison, and Proctor & G a m b l e . B e c a u s e every religion conveys possible ways of expressing h u m a n e x p e r i e n c e and self-understanding, and because e a c h c a n appear utterly i n c o m p r e h e n s i b l e to t h e other, we are facing what G e r a l d Burns describes as a " c o n t e s t of narratives." W h a t is happening in A m e r i c a is a reflection of w h a t is happening around t h e globe. In The New York Times, G u s t a v N i e b u h r recently reported on h o w Christianity is no longer "a predominantly W e s t e r n religion." T h e majority o f C h r i s t i a n s n o w live outside Europe and N o r t h A m e r i c a . To take o n e example, the World Christian Encyclopedia docum e n t s t h e fascinating migration o f t h e Moravians, whose roots run t o c e n t r a l Europe and to A m e r i c a n c o m m u n i t i e s that date to t h e eight e e n t h century. O f t h e 7 0 0 , 0 0 0 M o r a v i a n s worldwide, h a l f are i n east Africa, in Tanzania, where t h e annual membership increase is more t h a n t h e total M o r a v i a n membership o f 5 0 , 0 0 0 i n t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s . Furthermore, as N i e b u h r reported, there are m o r e missionaries at work today t h a n ever before in history, of w h o m at least 1 0 0 , 0 0 0 are being sent out by Protestant c h u r c h e s in n o n - W e s t e r n countries. Korea alone has some 8 , 0 0 0 Protestant missionaries serving outside t h e country. T h e religious landscape of our world is changing, t o o . I would like to live long enough to c o v e r t h e c o n s e q u e n c e s of these transformations as t h e twenty-first century matures and the changes multiply. No o n e knows h o w t h e world's religions will co-exist as they take root in A m e r i c a . In my optimistic m o m e n t s I imagine we m i g h t all take h e e d o f t h a t i n j u n c t i o n i n t h e K o r a n w h i c h says: " I f w e had wished we could h a v e made you o n e people, but as it is, we h a v e made you many. T h e r e f o r e , vie among yourselves in good works." B u t I am n o t always optimistic. I recall t h a t although we A m e r i c a n s pride ourselves on n o t only tolerating but also c e l e b r a t i n g diversity, t o l e r a n c e was always

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m o r e t h e ideal t h a n t h e reality. So we h a v e to wonder w h e t h e r we c a n avoid t h e i n t o l e r a n c e , t h e c h a u v i n i s m , t h e fanaticism, t h e bitter fruits t h a t o c c u r w h e n different religions rub up against e a c h other. It's no rhetorical question. T h e religious scholar E l a i n e Pagels said r e c e n t l y t h a t "there's practically no religion I k n o w of t h a t sees o t h e r people in a way t h a t affirms t h e other's c h o i c e . " M o r e disturbing, we frequently h a v e reason to r e m e m b e r t h a t t h e first murder arose out of a religious act. A d a m and Eve h a v e two s o n s — t h e first parents to c o p e with w h a t it means to raise C a i n . B o t h brothers are rivals for God's favor so b o t h bring G o d an offering. C a i n , a farmer, offers t h e first fruits of t h e soil. A b e l , a shepherd, offers t h e first l a m b from t h e flock. Two generous gifts. B u t in t h e story G o d plays favorites, chooses Abel's offering over C a i n ' s , and t h e e l e v a t i o n o f t h e younger leads t o t h e h u m i l i a t i o n o f t h e elder. C a i n is so jealous t h a t he strikes out at his brother and kills h i m . T h e i r rivalry leads to v i o l e n c e and ends in death. O n c e this pattern is established, it's played out in t h e story of Isaac and Ishmael, J a c o b and Esau, J o s e p h and his brothers, and down through t h e centuries in generation after g e n e r a t i o n of conflict b e t w e e n Muslims and Jews, Jews and Christians, C h r i s t i a n s and Muslims, so t h a t t h e red thread of religiously spilled blood runs directly from east of E d e n to Beirut to B o s n i a to B e l f a s t — t o every place in t h e world where brothers and believers, sisters and seekers turn from compassion to c o m p e t i t i o n . In his b o o k In Praise of Religious Diversity, J a m e s Wiggins reminds us t h a t virtually every armed conflict occurring on the p l a n e t today is e x plicitly driven by religious motives or by memory traces of persisting religious conflict. So we get S u n n i Muslims in A f g h a n i s t a n fighting a civil war with S h i i t e Muslims. W e get fundamentalists i n Algeria shooting t e e n a g e girls in t h e face for n o t wearing a veil and cutting professors' throats for t e a c h i n g m a l e and female students in t h e same classroom. We get M u s l i m suicide bombers killing busloads of Jews. A n d a fanatical Jewish doctor with a m a c h i n e gun mowing down praying Muslims in a mosque. T h e young O r t h o d o x J e w w h o assassinated Yitzhak R a b i n declares on television: "Everything I did, I did for t h e glory of G o d . " In In-

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dia, Hindus and Muslims kill o n e another. H e r e in A m e r i c a , Muslims b o m b N e w York's W o r l d Trade C e n t e r t o smite t h e G r e a t S a t a n . T i m o thy M c V e i g h blows up t h e federal building in O k l a h o m a City, killing 1 6 8 people, in part as revenge against t h e g o v e r n m e n t for killing David Koresh and his followers. Groups calling themselves t h e C h r i s t i a n Identity M o v e m e n t and t h e C h r i s t i a n Patriot League c o l l e c t arsenals, and at a political c o n v e n t i o n in Dallas n o t long ago, at a so-called C h r i s t i a n b o o t h in t h e e x h i b i t hall, you could buy an apron with two p o c k e t s — o n e for t h e B i b l e and o n e for a gun. R e l i g i o n has a h e a l i n g side; we k n o w this. But we h a v e b e e n loath to admit that religion also has a killing side. In W i l l i a m Penn's words, " T o be furious in religion is to be furiously irreligious." So in t h e real world of d e m o c r a c y h o w do we c o p e with a thousand local gods? H o w do I h o l d my truth to be t h e truth w h e n everyone else sees truth differently? 1 put this question to t h e renowned scholar of comparative religion Huston S m i t h , w h o has spent his adult life trying to penetrate t h e essence of t h e world's great faiths. In his classic study he wrote that "religions are like rivers, dynamic and changing, bearing t h e heritage of t h e past to water t h e fields of t h e present. T h e s e rivers are converging and we need to build bridges." I asked h i m h o w we are to do this. If you saw our series The Wisdom of Faith, you saw H u s t o n S m i t h actually t h i n k i n g before h e answered—one o f those e l o q u e n t m o m e n t s o f sil e n c e t h a t are rare o n t e l e v i s i o n — a n d t h e n h e said, " W e listen. W e list e n as alertly to t h e o t h e r person's description of reality as we h o p e they listen to us." T h i s frightens some people. T h e y fear that hearing what others h a v e to say about faith will lead to t h e loss of their own distinctive tradition. T h e y fear they may h a v e to shed t h e uniqueness of their own beliefs to e m b r a c e a flimsy e c u m e n i c i s m in w h i c h all religions are reduced to saying t h e same thing. T h e y e v e n imagine they will be dragged into accepting some vapid consensus of " o n e faith for o n e world." It doesn't h a v e to b e . We saw t h e alternative in Genesis, our series

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produced for P B S . T h e r e were t e n broadcasts over t e n weeks, e a c h devoted to o n e of t h e great stories from t h e first b o o k of t h e B i b l e . A simple series, by television's standard—seven people facing o n e a n o t h e r in a c i r c l e of c o n v e r s a t i o n . B u t n o n e of our work on television until t h e n had created more media response prior to broadcast t h a n those t e n discussions. A l l over t h e country people organized into groups so they could w a t c h t h e programs together and t h e n talk about t h e m afterward. O n e organization a l o n e signed up a m i l l i o n people just for t h a t purpose. T h o m a s M o o r e says c o n v e r s a t i o n is "the interpretation of worlds." T h e people I interview provide me with a passport into an e x p e r i e n c e I would n o t likely e n t e r without their invitation. Furthermore, talking with people w h o agree with you is like jogging in a cul-de-sac. W h e n I was growing up in East T e x a s , Baptists talked about t h e B i b l e with B a p tists, Presbyterians with Presbyterians, Episcopalians w i t h Episcopalians, Methodists with Methodists, and Jews with Jews. But we n e v e r talked about t h e B i b l e across our faiths, m u c h less across our r a c e . It's why you could grow up e v e n in a small town well c h u r c h e d , well taught, and well loved and still be ignorant of people just blocks away. So we wanted to be sure our participants in Genesis didn't c o m e from t h e same n e i g h b o r h o o d . We sought out people from different b a c k grounds, different faiths, professional fields, age, and gender. We wanted to see if they could talk about their beliefs in public without politicizing religion o r polarizing t h e community. W e h o p e d t o show t h a t you c a n disagree passionately about things t h a t matter without surrendering your own principled beliefs or without going for your neighbor's throat; t h a t we c a n engage with others in serious c o n v e r s a t i o n about t h e most deeply felt subjects—our religious beliefs, t h e nature of faith, our relationship w i t h o n e a n o t h e r — a n d truly c h a l l e n g e o n e another, t e a c h o n e another, and learn from o n e another. In a 2 0 0 6 interview, S a l m a n Rushdie told me t h a t in a d e m o c r a c y all ideas—including religion—are arguable and that

Citizens of a free society do not preserve their freedom by pussyfooting around their fellow citizens' opinions, even their most

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cherished beliefs. In free societies you must have the free play of ideas, there must be an argument, and it must be impassioned and untrammeled. Free societies are dynamic, noisy, turbulent, and full of radical disagreement. You can't cry foul when your ideas are challenged, even when you assert your ideas of God-

We put t h a t idea to t h e test, a n d it worked. O u r G e n e s i s c o n v e r s a tions were notably e n r i c h e d because we didn't all c o m e from t h e same n e i g h b o r h o o d . O f t e n we disagreed and sometimes t h e more we talked, t h e m o r e we disagreed. We were critical, e v e n s k e p t i c a l — n o o n e was politely dishonest e n o u g h to let a p o i n t pass t h a t called for a c h a l l e n g e . Talking about t h e issues exposed our differences, but it also brought closer t o g e t h e r people w h o h a d b e e n strangers w h e n they met. W e were c o n s t a n t l y reminded that differences b e t w e e n faiths are real, n o t to be papered o v e r for reasons of protocol, but we discovered t h a t people w i t h deep differences c a n t e a c h a n d learn from o n e another. It's marvelous how minds, hearts, and lives c a n be profoundly t o u c h e d with genuine understanding w h e n you listen to t h e loves of others. I b e l i e v e t h a t w i t h i n t h e religious q u e s t — i n t h a t deeper realm of spirituality w h i c h may well b e t h e primal origin o f all r e l i g i o n — l i e s w h a t Gregg Easterbrook calls "an essential aspect o f t h e h u m a n prospect." H e r e we are confronted with questions of life and purpose, of m e a n i n g and loss, of yearning and h o p e . We seek t h e answers to those questions first in our own tradition. T. S. E l i o t wrote t h a t " n o m a n has ever c l i m b e d to t h e h i g h e r stages of t h e spiritual life w h o has n o t b e e n a b e liever in a particular religion, or at least a particular philosophy." As I h a v e dug deeper i n t o my o w n roots, I h a v e c o m e to see t h a t all t h e great religions grapple with things t h a t matter, although e a c h may c o m e out at a different place; t h a t e a c h arises from w i t h i n and expresses a lived h u m a n e x p e r i e n c e ; and t h a t e a c h a n d every o n e o f t h e m deserves a t t e n t i o n for t h e unique insight they offer i n t o t h e h u m a n prospect. F r o m Buddhists I h a v e learned about t h e delight of c o n t e m p l a t i o n and "the infinite w i t h i n . " Sufi Muslims h a v e o p e n e d me to a deeper understanding o f worship a n d prayer. T h e a n c i e n t prophets o f J u d a i s m will n o t al-

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low me to forget t h e imperative of justice; from Hindus 1 h a v e learned about "realms of gold hidden in t h e depth of our hearts"; from C o n f u cianists about t h e empathy necessary to sustain t h e fragile web of civilization. N o t h i n g I take from these traditions has c o m e at t h e e x p e n s e of my own story. F a i t h is n o t acquired in t h e same way you c h o o s e a m e a l in a cafeteria, but there is s o m e t h i n g liberating about no longer being quite so t o n e - d e a f to what others h a v e to report from t h e i r e x p e r i e n c e . T h i s discovery leads us away from an ineffectual and c o n d e s c e n d i n g tole r a t i o n o f o t h e r faiths t o a n a n t i c i p a t i o n and e n g a g e m e n t with t h e m and to t h e understanding so beautifully expressed by K a t h l e e n Norris w h e n she writes: " W e are all G o d ' s c h o s e n now." In t h e n e x t b r e a t h she prays, " G o d h e l p us because we are."

POSTSCRIPT:

Charles E. Wilson was the namesake of the award presented to me

by Religion in American Life when I delivered this speech. T h e rich, successful, and powerful Charlie Wilson did not need my sympathy; he was never even aware of my existence, although my parents owned one of his Chevrolets and at the time I figured the president of General Motors kept a list in his desk drawer of every Chevrolet owner in America. Of course, we had bought ours secondhand, and I suppose even Charlie couldn't keep up with what happened to his cars once the used-car dealers took them over from the original owners. Still, I admired Wilson all the more when I joined the R O T C during my freshman year in college—the very year Eisenhower was elected president and made Wilson his secretary of defense. During confirmation hearings, the Senate Armed Services Committee pressured Wilson to sell his stock in General Motors, then worth about $2.5 million. Wilson said, sure, he would do that. T h e n someone asked if as secretary of defense Wilson thought he could make a decision adverse to G M , which had been one of the giants of our defense production effort during World War II and was now permanently fixed in the new solar system of what Eisenhower himself, leaving office eight years later, would call the military-industrial complex. Charlie Wilson could hardly walk through the corridors of the Pentagon without so much as a nod of his head failing to help or hurt G M , but again Charlie said, sure, he could make a decision even if it af-

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fected GM adversely. T h e n he made an altogether too-common mistake among confident people who appear before congressional hearings: he kept talking. He wanted the committee to know that he didn't think the problem would ever come up "because for years what was good for General Motors was good for the country and vice versa." As often happens in Washington, his remark was garbled in translation and passed into lore as the arrogant claim: "What's good for General Motors is good for the country." As someone who would later experience the chain-saw mentality of Washington, I felt sorry for Wilson as he watched his more nuanced and complex idea hurtle into history in a way he never intended. I confess to being all the more sympathetic because he was a Baptist layman. I admired his early leadership in the National Council of Churches and as a founder and chairman of Religion in American Life, whose mission was to foster church attendance, financial support, and ecumenical cooperation. Charlie would never have recognized the religious landscape at the turn of the century. And although I never met him, I suspect he would have been stunned by its transformation after 9/11.

27. Union

|

THE SPORT

Theological

Seminary

Presents

the

Union

of

my

warriors 9/11.

"marching as Patrick

boasts

"only

doing

the

Charles

work

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...

kike

anguish

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lampshade

or

son we

the a

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militant the

to

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on

transform or

[who]

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you

into

perhaps

don't kill.

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Don't

kill politics,

they?

physical

culture,

Yes,

Holy the

announces

Christian

believers

(now

harassment

bit

Right-wing

"Let a wave of hatred wash over you."

Reed

Senator)

by

militia

that you are a conceited,

suffer

something a

soap."

Ralph

surrogate

only

Representative

violence will

of Christian

war."

His

.

thick of battle."

bitch

Moyers

language

"holy

bags."

this nation

hearing

Bill

Islamist terrorists struck on a

"You should make no mistake of a

wallets

free and metaphors battle.

in

after

with

Republicans

opponents

and

2005

long before

calls

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warned:

arrogant

filled

to war"

his

Christians

Schumer,

groups,

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Buchanan

of putting

that

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notebook

Judith

Medal

S E P T E M B E R

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OF GOD

pain

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war. soul.

and

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Randall

I know:

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bags.

mental a

Terry

speech is Thick of

little reading and

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you

will

hear

war-filled spirit and

in

your

rhetoric

head

echoing

of religion pious

was

princes,

ON

DEMOCRACY

in

the

the

middle

crusades

infused

with

and armed

numbers

war

"against

"Deus

lo

columns

stretched

toxic

hosts,

the

infidels"

vult!

It is

and Jesus—the

bor and forgiving one's and

sick;

from

zeal

God's

the

tax

to

of Christ,

demagogues

weren't just inflames,

Constantinople.

God rode at

outcast

who

welcomed

they

same

Yes,

the

the

and

and exalts righteous murder.

into

or not,

in New York City, Union's

highest

crowds

responded: neigh-

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the

wounded

the

despised

embrace

was

now

kill,

the fright-

the it.

to

the

and heathens

yoked

and

terrorists

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religion

And in the days after 9 / 1 1

when Joseph Hough,

to

stranger, his

all,

delivering

on

9/11

sanctifies, the chro-

Deus lo vult!

the president of Union Seminary

called to say that Judith and I had been selected to receive recognition—the

President's

turn that we speak what was on our minds, notebook where

the

who invited even the loath-

pagans

after

Summoned

mosomes of fury deep in the bowels of half-grown faith cried: So coincidence

kill

head of their warrior

the

Jesus

yes,

and, were

to

talked of loving one's

and hungry beggar;

dictators;

death,

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the

fellowship—this

the

persecuting priests

looked with compassion

and

shouting

cause

who

him

of this

when

"accursed race" of Turks and Arabs

the

flashing shield and slashing sword! godless

by

enemy; to

days

long enough

to

healing Jesus,

collector

aroused

pausing just

who

ened prostitute, forlorn leper, some

night forebears feverish

Jerusalem will."

363

teacher Jesus

who gathered

and forsaken;

for

of the

of Europe:

J e w s in Germany, rode forth to rout the whose

|

years

ago

on

Medal—and

asked

only

in

re-

late that same night I opened my

the flyleaf 1 had copied

the

words of Jonathan

Swift:

But mark me well; Religion is my name; An angel once:

but now a fury grown,

Too often talked of, but too little known.

* * *

At t h e C e n t r a l Baptist C h u r c h in Marshall, Texas, where I was baptized in t h e faith, we believed in a free c h u r c h in a free state. I still do. My spiritual forebears did n o t t a k e kindly to living under theocrats

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w h o e m b r a c e d religious liberty for themselves but denied it to others. " F o r c e d worship stinks in G o d ' s nostrils," thundered t h e dissenter R o g e r W i l l i a m s as he was banished from Massachusetts for denying Puritan authority over his c o n s c i e n c e . Baptists there were a "pitiful negligible minority" but t h e y were agitators for freedom and therefore d e n o u n c e d as "incendiaries of t h e c o m m o n w e a l t h " for holding to t h e i r b e l i e f in t h a t great d e m o c r a c y o f f a i t h — t h e priesthood o f all believers. For refusing t o pay tribute to t h e state religion they were fined, flogged, and exiled. In 1 6 5 1 t h e Baptist O b a d i a h H o l m e s was given thirty stripes with a threecorded whip after he violated t h e law and t o o k forbidden c o m m u n i o n with a n o t h e r Baptist. His friends offered to pay his fine for his release but h e refused. T h e y offered h i m strong drink t o anesthetize t h e p a i n o f t h e flogging. A g a i n he refused. It is t h e love of liberty, he said, "that must free t h e soul." S u c h revolutionary ideas held out the promise t h a t A m e r i c a , with its B i l l o f R i g h t s and C o n s t i t u t i o n t h a t made n o m e n t i o n o f G o d , would be "a h a v e n for t h e cause of c o n s c i e n c e . " No longer could magistrates order citizens to support c h u r c h e s t h e y did n o t attend and r e c i t e creeds t h a t t h e y did n o t b e l i e v e . N o longer would " t h e l o a t h s o m e c o m b i n a t i o n o f c h u r c h and state"—as T h o m a s Jefferson described i t — b e t h e settled order. U n l i k e t h e O l d W o r l d t h a t h a d b e e n wracked w i t h religious wars and persecution, t h e g o v e r n m e n t of A m e r i c a would t a k e no sides in t h e religious free-for-all t h a t liberty would m a k e possible a n d politics would m a k e i n e v i t a b l e . T h e genius o f t h e First A m e n d m e n t i s t h a t i t n e i t h e r i n c u l c a t e s religion nor inoculates against it. A m e r i c a n s could be loyal to t h e C o n s t i t u t i o n without being hostile t o G o d , o r t h e y could pay no h e e d to t h e A l m i g h t y without fear of being mugged by an official G o d S q u a d . It has b e e n a remarkable a r r a n g e m e n t h o n o r i n g "soul freedom"—the inviolate right of e a c h of us to b e l i e v e and worship as our c o n s c i e n c e determines, in a society t h a t h o n o r s freedom over conformity. T h a t right is at risk. Four years ago this week t h e poet's prophetic m e t a p h o r b e c a m e real as "the great dark birds of history" plunged i n t o our lives.

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T h e y c a m e i n t h e n a m e o f G o d . T h e y c a m e b e n t o n murder and martyrdom. It was as if they rode to earth on t h e fierce b r e a t h of A l l a h himself, h a v i n g b e e n steeped in images of a v i o l e n t and vengeful G o d w h o wills life for t h e faithful and horrific t o r m e n t for unbelievers. Yes, t h e K o r a n speaks of mercy and compassion and calls for e t h i c a l living. B u t these martyrs also found there a ferocity of instruction for waging war in God's n a m e . T h e scholar J a c k N e l s o n - P a l l m e y e r carefully traces this trail of holy v i o l e n c e in his b o o k Is Religion Killing Us? He highlights many of t h e verses in t h e K o r a n t h a t t h e Islamic terrorists could h a v e had in their hearts and on their lips four years ago as they moved toward t h e i r gruesome rendezvous:

Those who believe Fight in the cause of Allah, and Those who reject Faith Fight in the cause of Evil. ( 4 : 7 6 )

So We sent against them A furious Wind through days of disaster, that We might Give them a taste of a Penalty of humiliation In this Life; but T h e Penalty of the Hereafter will be More Humiliating still: And they Will find No help. ( 4 1 : 1 6 )

T h e n watch thou For the Day T h a t the sky will Bring forth a kind Of smoke (or mist) Plainly visible, Enveloping the people: This will be a Penalty Grievous. ( 4 4 : 1 0 - 1 1 )

Did the people of the towns Feel Secure against the coming Of Our Wrath by night W h i l e they were asleep? Or else did they feel Secure against its coming in Broad daylight while they Played About (carefree)? Did they then feel secure Against the Plan of Allah?—But no one can feel Secure from the Plan of Allah, except those (Doomed) to ruin. ( 7 : 9 7 - 9 9 )

S o t h e holy warriors c a m e — a n airborne death cult, their sights o n God's e n e m i e s and Paradise beyond. In t h e aftermath of 9 / 1 1 I kept reminding myself n o t only of t h e hor-

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ror of t h a t day but of t h e h u m a n i t y t h a t was revealed w h e n through t h e s m o k e and fire we glimpsed t h e heroism, compassion, and sacrifice of people who did t h e best of things in t h e worst of times. I keep telling myself t h a t this beauty in us is real, t h a t it makes life worthwhile and d e m o c r a c y work, and t h a t no terrorist c a n t a k e it from us. B u t as a journalist I always l o o k for t h e o t h e r side of t h e story. In his b o o k The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Edward G i b b o n o n c e wrote o f historians what could b e said o f journalists:

T h e theologians may indulge the pleasing task of describing religion as she descended from Heaven, arrayed in her native purity. A more melancholy duty is imposed on the historian [read: journalist]. He must discover the inevitable mixture of error and corruption which she contracted in a long residence upon earth, among a weak and degenerate race of beings.

T h e historian and t h e journalist, in o t h e r words, must look at relig i o n w i t h o u t t h e halos. Muslims h a v e n o monopoly o n holy v i o l e n c e . A s N e l s o n - P a l l m e y e r points out, G o d ' s v i o l e n c e in t h e sacred texts of b o t h faiths reflects a deep and troubling pathology "so pervasive, vindictive, and destructive" t h a t it c o n t r a d i c t s and subverts t h e c o l l e c t i v e weight of o t h e r passages t h a t e x h o r t e t h i c a l b e h a v i o r or testify to a loving G o d . For days n o w we h a v e w a t c h e d those heartbreaking scenes on t h e G u l f C o a s t : t h e steaming, stinking, sweltering wreckage o f cities and suburbs; t h e fleeing refugees; t h e floating corpses, hungry babies, and old people huddled together in death, t h e dogs gnawing at t h e i r feet; stranded c h i l d r e n standing in water reeking of feces and garbage; families scattered; a m o t h e r holding her small c h i l d and an empty water jug, pleading for s o m e o n e to fill it; a wife, pushing t h e body of h e r dead husband on a wooden plank down a flooded street; desperate people struggling to survive. N o w transport those current scenes from our newspapers and televi-

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sion b a c k t o t h e first b o o k o f t h e B i b l e , G e n e s i s . T h e destruction wrought by K a t r i n a brings to life w h a t we rarely imagine so graphically w h e n we read of t h e great F l o o d t h a t devastated t h e k n o w n world in biblical times. If you read t h e B i b l e as literally true, as m a n y do, this flood was ordered by G o d .

A n d G o d said to Noah, "I have determined to make an end of all flesh . .. behold, I will destroy them with the earth." ( 6 : 5 - 1 3 )

"I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life from under heaven; everything that is on the earth shall die." ( 6 : 1 7 - 1 9 )

N o a h and his family are t h e only h u m a n s spared; they were, after all, God's c h o s e n . B u t for everyone else

.. . the waters prevailed so mightily . . . that ail the high mountains . .. were covered . .. And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, birds, cattle, beasts . . . and every man; everything on the dry land in whose nostrils was the breath of life, died . . . (7:17-23)

T h e Flood i s merely A c t I . R e a d o n : this G o d first "hardens t h e heart o f P h a r a o h " t o m a k e sure t h e Egyptian ruler will n o t b e m o v e d b y t h e plea of Moses to let his people go. T h e n because Pharaoh's heart is hardened, G o d turns t h e N i l e i n t o blood so people c a n n o t drink its water and will suffer from thirst. N o t satisfied with t h e results, G o d sends swarms of locusts and flies to torture t h e m ; rains hail and fire a n d t h u n d e r on t h e m ; destroys t h e trees and plants of t h e field until n o t h i n g green remains; orders every firstborn c h i l d to be slaughtered, from t h e firstborn o f P h a r a o h right o n down t o "the first-born o f t h e maidservant b e h i n d t h e mill." T h e massacre c o n t i n u e s until "there is n o t a house where o n e was n o t dead." W h i l e t h e Egyptian families mourn their dead, G o d or-

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ders Moses to loot from their houses all their gold and silver and c l o t h ing. Finally, G o d ' s thirst for b l o o d is satisfied, G o d pauses to rest—and boasts: "I h a v e made sport of t h e Egyptians." V i o l e n c e a s t h e sport o f G o d . G o d a s t h e progenitor o f s h o c k and awe. A n d that's just A c t II. A s the story unfolds w o m e n and c h i l d r e n are h a c k e d to d e a t h on orders from G o d , u n b o r n infants are ripped from their mother's wombs; cities are l e v e l e d — t h e i r w o m e n killed if they h a v e h a d sex, t h e virgins t a k e n at G o d ' s c o m m a n d for t h e pleasure of his holy warriors. W h e n his holy warriors spare t h e lives of fifty thousand captives G o d is furious and sends M o s e s b a c k to rebuke t h e m and tell t h e m to finish t h e j o b . O n e tribe after a n o t h e r falls to God-ordered g e n o c i d e : t h e H i t t i t e s , t h e Girgashites, t h e A m o r i t e s , t h e C a n a a n i t e s , t h e Perizzites, t h e J e b u s i t e s — n a m e s so a n c i e n t they h a v e disappeared i n t o t h e mists. Yet they were fathers and mothers and brothers and sisters, grandparents and grandchildren, infants in arms, shepherds, threshers, carpenters, m e r c h a n t s , housewives—living h u m a n beings, flesh and blood:

And when the Lord your God gives them over to you, and you defeat them; then you must utterly destroy them; you shall make no covenant with them, and show no mercy to them .. . (and) your eyes shall not pity them.

So it is w r i t t e n — i n what to m a n y is holy t e x t . Yes, I know: t h e early c h u r c h fathers, trying to c o v e r up t h e b l o o d soaked trail of G o d ' s sport, decreed t h a t anything t h a t disagrees with C h r i s t i a n dogma about t h e perfection of G o d is to be interpreted spiritually. Yes, Edward G i b b o n h i m s e l f acknowledged t h a t t h e literal b i b l i c a l sense of G o d "is repugnant to every principle of faith as well as reason" and t h a t we must therefore read t h e scriptures through a veil of allegory. Yes, we c a n go through t h e B i b l e and c o n s t r u c t a G o d more pleasing to t h e better angels of our nature.

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Yes, C h r i s t i a n s c l a i m t h e O l d T e s t a m e n t G o d of wrath was supplanted b y t h e Gospel's G o d o f love. I k n o w these things; all of us k n o w these things. B u t we must also acknowledge t h a t t h e " v i o l e n c e - o f - G o d " tradition remains embedded deep in t h e tradition of m o n o t h e i s t i c faith. T h e r e are people the world over who consider t h e texts to be literally God's word on all matters. Inside that logic are we to read part of t h e B i b l e allegorically and t h e rest of it literally? C a n you b e l i e v e in t h e virgin birth of Jesus, his crucifixion and resurrection, and t h e d e p i c t i o n o f t h e G r e a t J u d g m e n t a t t h e e n d o f t i m e s — a l l seen as biblically r e v e a l e d — a n d dismiss t h e Bible's description of G o d as sadistic, brutal, vengeful, callow, cruel, and savage? Surely we must wrestle openly and honestly with t h e c o n t r a d i c t i o n , all t h e more so after 9 / 1 1 . Let's go b a c k to t h a t day. T h e ruins were still smoldering w h e n t h e reverends Pat R o b e r t s o n and Jerry Falwell w e n t on television to proc l a i m t h a t t h e terrorist attacks were God's p u n i s h m e n t of a corrupted A m e r i c a . T h e y said t h e g o v e r n m e n t h a d adopted t h e agenda " o f t h e pagans, and t h e abortionists, and t h e feminists, and t h e gays and t h e lesb i a n s " — n o t t o m e n t i o n t h e A C L U and People for t h e A m e r i c a n Way. Just as G o d h a d sent the great Flood to wipe out a corrupted world, now G o d , disgusted with a decadent A m e r i c a , "is lifting his p r o t e c t i o n from us." C r i t i c s said such c o m m e n t s were deranged. B u t to their followers, R o b e r t s o n and Falwell were being perfectly c o n s i s t e n t with t h e logic of the B i b l e as they read it: G o d withdraws favor from sinful nations, and therefore t h e terrorists were m e a n t to be G o d ' s wake-up call. N o t many people a t t h e time seemed t o n o t i c e t h a t O s a m a bin L a d e n h a d also b e e n reading his sacred b o o k closely and literally, and had called on Muslims to resist what he described as a "fierce JudeoC h r i s t i a n c a m p a i g n " against Islam, praying to A l l a h for guidance "to e x alt t h e people w h o obey H i m and h u m i l i a t e t h o s e w h o disobey H i m . " Suddenly we were immersed in t h e pathology of a "holy war" as defined by literalists on b o t h sides. We could see this pathology play out in G e n e r a l W i l l i a m B o y k i n . A professional soldier, G e n e r a l B o y k i n had taken up with a small group called t h e F a i t h F o r c e Multiplier, whose members apply military principles to evangelism with a manifesto sum-

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m o n i n g warriors "to t h e spiritual warfare for souls." A f t e r B o y k i n h a d led A m e r i c a n s in a b a t t l e against a S o m a l i a n warlord, he a n n o u n c e d , "I k n e w my G o d was bigger t h a n his. I k n e w t h a t my G o d was a real G o d , and his was an idol." N o w B o y k i n was going about in fervent revivals preaching t h a t A m e r i c a was in a h o l y war as "a C h r i s t i a n n a t i o n " battling S a t a n and t h a t A m e r i c a ' s M u s l i m adversaries will be defeated "only if we c o m e against t h e m in t h e n a m e of Jesus." F o r such an hour, A m e r i c a surely n e e d e d a godly leader. So G e n e r a l B o y k i n e x p l a i n e d h o w it was t h a t t h e candidate w h o h a d lost t h e popular v o t e in 2 0 0 0 n o n e t h e l e s s wound up in t h e W h i t e House. President Bush, he said, "was n o t e l e c t e d by a majority of t h e v o t e r s — h e was app o i n t e d by G o d . " Instead of being reprimanded for evangelizing w h i l e in uniform, G e n e r a l B o y k i n is n o w t h e deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence. We c a n ' t wiggle out of this c o n u n d r u m . W e ' r e talking about a powerful religious c o n s t i t u e n c y t h a t claims t h e right to tell us what's on G o d ' s m i n d and yearns to decide t h e laws of t h e land according to their interpretation of b i b l i c a l revelation and to enforce those laws on t h e nat i o n as a w h o l e . F o r t h e B i b l e is n o t just t h e foundational t e x t of their faith; it has b e c o m e t h e foundational t e x t for a political m o v e m e n t . Yes, people of faith h a v e always tried to bring their interpretation of t h e B i b l e to bear on A m e r i c a n laws a n d morals. T h i s very seminary is part of t h a t tradition—it's t h e A m e r i c a n way, encouraged and p r o t e c t e d by t h e First A m e n d m e n t . B u t w h a t is unique today is t h a t t h e religious R i g h t has b e c o m e t h e base o f o n e o f A m e r i c a ' s great political parties and is using G o d as a battering ram on almost every issue: c r i m e and punishm e n t , foreign policy, h e a l t h care, t a x a t i o n , energy regulation, and social services. W h a t ' s also unique is t h e intensity, organization, and anger these forces h a v e brought to t h e public square. L i s t e n to t h e i r preachers and evangelists: t h e l o a t h i n g o f o t h e r people's beliefs, o f A m e r i c a ' s secular and d e m o c r a t i c values, of an i n d e p e n d e n t press and judiciary, of reason, s c i e n c e , and t h e search for o b j e c t i v e k n o w l e d g e — a l l h a v e b e c o m e t h e m o t i v a t i o n for a sectarian crusade for state power. T h e s e people use t h e

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language of faith to demonize political opponents, mislead and misinform voters, c e n s o r writers and artists, ostracize dissenters, and marginalize t h e poor. T h e y are t h e foot soldiers in a political h o l y war financed by wealthy e c o n o m i c interests and guided by savvy partisan operatives who k n o w t h a t c o u c h i n g political a m b i t i o n in religious rhetoric c a n ign i t e t h e passion of followers as ferociously as w h e n C o n s t a n t i n e painted t h e sign of C h r i s t ( t h e "Christogram") on t h e shields of his soldiers and on t h e banners of his legions and routed his rivals in R o m e . N e v e r m i n d that t h e emperor h i m s e l f was n e v e r baptized i n t o t h e faith; it served h i m well e n o u g h t o m a k e t h e G o d said t o b e worshipped b y C h r i s t i a n s his most important ally and turn t h e sign of C h r i s t i n t o t h e o n e imperial symbol most widely recognized and feared from east to west. Let's take a brief detour to O h i o and I'll show you w h a t I am talking about. In r e c e n t weeks a m o v e m e n t called t h e O h i o R e s t o r a t i o n P r o j e c t has b e e n launched to identify and train thousands of "Patriot Pastors" to get out t h e conservative religious v o t e in 2 0 0 6 . A c c o r d i n g to press reports, t h e leader of t h e m o v e m e n t — t h e senior pastor of a large c h u r c h in suburban C o l u m b u s — c a s t s t h e c o m i n g e l e c t i o n s as an apocalyptic clash b e t w e e n "the forces of righteousness and the hordes of h e l l . " T h e fear and loathing in Russell J o h n s o n ' s message is palpable. He d e n o u n c e s public schools t h a t won't t e a c h creationism, require t e a c h e r s to read t h e B i b l e in class, or allow c h i l d r e n to pray. He rails against t h e "secular j i hadists" w h o h a v e " h i j a c k e d " A m e r i c a and prevent schoolkids from learning that H i t l e r was "an avid evolutionist." He links a b o r t i o n to children w h o murder their parents. He blasts t h e "pagan left" for trying to redefine marriage. He declares t h a t "homosexual rights" will bring "a flood o f d e m o n i c oppression." O n his c h u r c h W e b site you read: " R e claiming t h e t e a c h i n g o f our C h r i s t i a n heritage among A m e r i c a ' s youth is paramount to a sense of n a t i o n a l destiny t h a t G o d has invested into this n a t i o n . " O n e of t h e p r o m i n e n t allies of t h e O h i o R e s t o r a t i o n P r o j e c t is a popular televangelist in C o l u m b u s n a m e d R o d Parsley w h o heads a $ 4 0 million-a-year ministry t h a t is accessible worldwide via 1,400 TV stations and c a b l e affiliates. A l t h o u g h he describes h i m s e l f as n e i t h e r R e -

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p u b l i c a n n o r D e m o c r a t but a " C h r i s t o c r a t " — a gladiator for G o d m a r c h ing against " t h e very hordes of h e l l in our s o c i e t y " — h e n o n e t h e l e s s has b e e n spotted with so m a n y R e p u b l i c a n politicians in W a s h i n g t o n and elsewhere t h a t he has b e e n publicly described as a "spiritual adviser" to t h e party. T h e journalist Marley G r e i n e r has b e e n following his ministry. S h e writes t h a t b e c a u s e R o d Parsley considers t h e separation o f c h u r c h and state to be "a lie perpetrated on A m e r i c a n s — e s p e c i a l l y believers in J e sus C h r i s t , " he identifies h i m s e l f as a "wall builder" and "wall buster." As a wall builder he will "restore G o d l y presence in g o v e r n m e n t and culture; as a wall buster he will tear down t h e c h u r c h - s t a t e wall." He sees t h e C h r i s t i a n c h u r c h as a sleeping giant t h a t has t h e ability and t h e a n o i n t i n g from G o d to transform A m e r i c a . T h e giant is stirring. At a rally in July he proclaimed to a p a c k e d house: " L e t t h e R e v o l u t i o n b e gin!" A n d t h e c o n g r e g a t i o n roared b a c k : " L e t t h e R e v o l u t i o n begin!" T h e R e v o l u t i o n ' s first goal is to e l e c t as governor n e x t year t h e current God-fearing R e p u b l i c a n secretary of state w h o oversaw t h e e l e c t i o n process in 2 0 0 4 w h e n a surge in faith-based voters narrowly carried G e o r g e W . Bush t o victory. A s G e n e r a l B o y k i n suggested o f President Bush's a n o i n t m e n t , this fellow has acknowledged t h a t " G o d wanted h i m as secretary of state during 2 0 0 4 " because it was such a critical e l e c t i o n . N o w he is crisscrossing O h i o m e e t i n g with Patriot Pastors and t h e i r c o n gregations proclaiming t h a t " A m e r i c a is at its best w h e n G o d is at its center." T h e O h i o R e s t o r a t i o n P r o j e c t i s spreading. I n o n e m o n t h a l o n e last year, in t h e president's h o m e state of T e x a s , a single Baptist preacher added two thousand Patriot Pastors t o the rolls. O n his W e b site h e now encourages pastors to "speak out on t h e great moral issues of our day . . . to restore a n d r e c l a i m A m e r i c a for C h r i s t . " A l a s , these "great moral issues" do n o t include building a moral e c o n o m y . As t h e C h r i s t i a n R i g h t trumpets charity (as in faith-based init i a t i v e s ) , t h e leaders of t h e m o v e m e n t are silent on j u s t i c e . Inequality in A m e r i c a has r e a c h e d scandalous proportions: a few weeks ago t h e gove r n m e n t acknowledged t h a t while i n c o m e s are growing smartly for t h e

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first t i m e in years, t h e primary winners are t h e top e a r n e r s — p e o p l e who r e c e i v e stocks, bonuses, and o t h e r i n c o m e i n addition t o wages. T h e nearly 8 0 p e r c e n t o f A m e r i c a n s w h o rely mostly o n hourly wages barely m a i n t a i n e d t h e i r purchasing power. E v e n as H u r r i c a n e K a t r i n a was hit­ ting t h e G u l f C o a s t , giving us a stark r e m i n d e r of h o w poverty c a n s h o v e poor people i n t o t h e abyss, t h e C e n s u s Bureau reported t h a t o n e m i l l i o n people were added to t h e thirty-six m i l l i o n already living in poverty. A n d s i n c e 1 9 9 9 t h e i n c o m e o f t h e poorest one-fifth o f A m e r i c a n s has dropped almost 9 p e r c e n t . N o n e o f these harsh realities o f ordinary life s e e m t o b o t h e r t h e po­ litically religious R i g h t . O n t h e contrary. I n t h e pursuit o f political power t h e y h a v e c u t a deal with A m e r i c a ' s r i c h e s t interests a n d t h e i r partisan allies in a law-of-the-jungle strategy to "starve" t h e g o v e r n m e n t of resources n e e d e d for vital social services t h a t benefit e v e r y o n e while c h a m p i o n i n g m o r e and m o r e public spending for r i c h c o r p o r a t i o n s and larger t a x cuts for t h e wealthy. H o w else t o e x p l a i n t h e v a c u u m i n t h e i r "great moral issues" o f t h e plight o f m i l l i o n s o f A m e r i c a n s w i t h o u t adequate h e a l t h care? O r o f t h e gross c o r r u p t i o n of politics by c a m p a i g n c o n t r i b u t i o n s t h a t skew govern­ m e n t policies toward t h e wealthy at t h e e x p e n s e of ordinary taxpayers? ( O n t h e very day t h a t oil a n d gas prices r e a c h e d a record high, t h e pres­ ident signed off on huge taxpayer subsidies for energy c o n g l o m e r a t e s al­ ready gorging on windfall profits plucked from t h e p o c k e t s of average A m e r i c a n s filling up at gas stations across t h e country; yet t h e n e x t S u n ­ day you could pass o n e c h u r c h signboard after a n o t h e r w i t h no m e n t i o n of a s e r m o n on c r o n y c a p i t a l i s m . ) T h i s s i l e n c e on e c o n o m i c a n d p o l i t i c a l morality is deafening but re­ vealing. T h e religious R i g h t has b e c o m e t h e d o m i n a n t force i n A m e r ­ ica's governing party. W i t h o u t t h e m t h e g o v e r n m e n t would n o t b e i n t h e hands o f people w h o d o n ' t b e l i e v e i n g o v e r n m e n t . T h e y are culpable i n upholding a system of class and race in w h i c h t h e r i c h thrive a n d t h e poor barely survive. A n d m a n y of t h e m are crusading n o t for a govern­ m e n t of, by, and for t h e people but for o n e based on b i b l i c a l authority. T h i s is t h e c r u x of t h e m a t t e r : to t h e s e believers t h e r e is only o n e le-

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g i t i m a t e religion and only o n e particular brand of t h a t religion t h a t is right; all others are immoral or wrong. T h e y believe they alone k n o w w h a t t h e B i b l e m e a n s . B e h i n d t h e i r attacks o n t h e courts ("vermin i n b l a c k robes," as o n e of their talk-show allies recently put it) is a fierce longing to h o l d judges a c c o u n t a b l e for interpreting t h e C o n s t i t u t i o n according to standards of biblical revelation as literalists define it. To get those judges they needed a party b e h o l d e n to t h e m . So t h e G r a n d O l d P a r t y — t h e G O P — h a s b e c o m e God's O w n Party, m a r c h i n g , i n t h e words of t h e old h y m n , "as to war." A t t h e W e b site o f a n organization called A m e r i c a 2 1 , o n a red, white, and blue h o m e page, there was a reminder that " T h e r e are 7 , 1 7 7 hours until our n e x t N a t i o n a l E l e c t i o n . . . E N L I S T N O W . " C l i c k again and you could read a summons calling C h r i s t i a n pastors "to lead God's people in t h e turning t h a t c a n save A m e r i c a from our e n e m i e s . " U n d e r t h e heading " R e m e m b e r — R e p e n t — R e t u r n " was language r e m i n i s c e n t of Pat R o b e r t s o n and jerry Falwell reminding us t h a t " o n e of t h e unmistakable lessons [of 9 / 1 1 ] is that A m e r i c a has lost t h e full measure of God's pledge of protection." H o w is t h e country to be saved from t h e terrorists? W e must "remember t h e legacy o f our heritage under G o d and our c o v e n a n t w i t h H i m and, in t h e words of II C h r o n i c l e s 7 : 1 4 : 'Turn from our wicked ways.' " T h e r e , on t h e h o m e page of t h a t site, was praise for t h e president's political agenda, including his plans to phase out social security. T h e fine print on t h e b o t t o m of t h e site read: " A m e r i c a 21 is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to educate, engage, and mobilize C h r i s tians to influence n a t i o n a l policy at every level. Founded in 1 9 8 9 by a m u l t i - d e n o m i n a t i o n a l group of Pastors and Businessmen, it is dedicated to being a catalyst for revival and reform of t h e culture and the government" (emphasis added). R e a d i n g those words, I r e m e m b e r e d a b o o k in my library by t h e late anthropologist M a r v i n Harris, who wrote in America Now t h a t

the attack against reason and objectivity is fast reaching the proportions of a crusade . . . We desperately need to reaffirm the prin-

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ciple that it is possible to carry out an analysis of social life which rational human beings will recognize as being true, regardless of whether they happen to be women or men, whites or black, straights or gays, employers or employees, Jews or born-again Christians. T h e alternative is to stand by helplessly as special interest groups tear the United States apart in the name of their "separate realities" or to wait until one of them grows strong enough to force its irrational and subjective brand of reality on all the rest.

T h o s e words were written twenty-five years ago, just as Jerry Falwell's M o r a l Majority was setting o u t on a long m a r c h for p o l i t i c a l supremacy. T h e forces Harris warned against h a v e gained strength ever since and now c o n t r o l t h e e x e c u t i v e and legislative branches of our gove r n m e n t and intend to c o n t r o l t h e judiciary soon. It has to be said that their success has c o m e in no small part because of our a c q u i e s c e n c e and timidity. T o o many people of reason are willing to appease t h e pious on t h e grounds that sincere religious beliefs are beyond criticism. D e m o c r a t s are afraid t h a t if they take on t h e religious R i g h t they will lose what little power they h a v e . B u t they are compromising t h e strongest advantage in th e ir favor—the case for a moral e c o n o m y and for t h e c h e c k s and b a l a n c e s necessary to "a safe h a v e n for the cause o f c o n s c i e n c e . " As I look b a c k on t h e conflicts and c l a m o r of our boisterous past, o n e lesson about d e m o c r a c y stands above all others: bullies—political bullies, e c o n o m i c bullies, and religious b u l l i e s — c a n n o t be appeased; they h a v e to be opposed with courage, clarity, and c o n v i c t i o n . T h i s is n e v e r easy. T h e s e true believers don't fight fair. Robert's Rules of Order is n o t o n e of their holy texts. B u t freedom on any front—and especially f r e e d o m o f c o n s c i e n c e — n e v e r c o m e s t o those w h o hesitate, hoping s o m e o n e else will do t h e heavy lifting. C h r i s t i a n realism requires us to see t h e world as it is, without illusions, and to take it on, including t h e spurious claims of true believers that they speak for G o d . C h r i s t i a n realism also requires love. I do n o t m e a n a vacuous and

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dreamy e m o t i o n . R e i n h o l d N i e b u h r , w h o taught so m a n y years h e r e at U n i o n T h e o l o g i c a l S e m i n a r y where h e wrestled c o n s t a n t l y with applying C h r i s t i a n ethics to political life, put it this way: " W h e n we talk about love w e h a v e t o b e c o m e mature o r w e will b e c o m e s e n t i m e n t a l . Basically love m e a n s .. . being responsible, responsibility to our family, toward our civilization, and n o w by t h e pressures of history, toward t h e universe o f h u m a n k i n d . " We are called to p r a c t i c e that k i n d of love. B u t at t h e same t i m e we must n o t fear taking up a robust and principled defense of secular politics against t h o s e forces t h a t seek a m o n o p o l y over t h e public square. To do so would be to c o n c e d e t h e emerging struggle b e t w e e n d e m o c r a c y and t h e o c r a c y to t h e dogmatists w h o differ only in their understanding o f t h e G o d w h o would rule w h e n t h e dust settles.

Part

VI

A COMMENCEMENT ADDRESS

28.

PASS THE BREAD

Hamilton

College

Baccalaureate

Service

M A Y 20, 2006

If there

is

a tougher audience for a journalist than a college

commencement,

I have yet to face it. Among the thousands of people in front of you are a variety

of constituents:

the graduates,

whose relief at journey's

sadness at parting and anticipation at the ents,

end mingles

unknown ahead of them;

with

their par-

most of whom have sacrificed for this moment and want to celebrate its

sweetness and symbolism;

the faculty,

who have

many times on so many similar occasions pherable words; and go home. with ceremonial,

that they simply mouth the indeci-

and the maintenance crews, Your time as speaker is

acoustics questionable,

and

eager to get it over,

fixed,

the attention spans

as well as personal,

sung the school anthem so clean up,

because the day is full, waning.

significance;

Yet

this

is

the

a ritual

it is meant for celebration.

I never stand on the dais and look out across the audience without realizing that this is the only time these people will be in the same place together; they cherish the momentary closeness,

are aware of its

transience,

and know

that

from here on out they will be on their own. The best thing the speaker can do

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is to let them know that he takes them seriously. They may pretend to be blase about the occasion, but you know it matters to them, and you search to find that thread in

their concerns

that will connect the most cynical part of their

being to the most idealistic. As a journalist I am honor bound to describe for them the world as 1 see it, without illusions; at the same time, I want them to know that even journalists celebrate joy, capacity for both. upstate trustees,

New York—it is Alexander

embrace hope,

and recognize

chilly.

This

Hamilton—bristles

"Little with

Ivy"—named for one of its first

umbrellas

and

thought of keeping my speech as brief as the school motto: as

their

Here at Hamilton College it is raining; for May—even in optimism.

1

Know thyself.

had But

the procession moved down the aisle and a celebratory roar went up from

friends and families of the graduates, I sensed this was no time to hurry. Soon enough they would be scattered to the four winds.

* * *

Fifty years ago I turned t h e same c o r n e r you are turning today and left college for t h e great b e y o n d . L o o k i n g b a c k across h a l f a century I wish our speaker at t h e time had said s o m e t h i n g really useful—something t h a t would h a v e better prepared us for what lay ahead. S o m e t h i n g like: " D o n ' t go." I ' m n o t sure a n y o n e from my g e n e r a t i o n should be saying anything to your generation e x c e p t , " W e ' r e sorry. W e ' r e really sorry for t h e mess you're inheriting. We are sorry for t h e war in Iraq. For t h e huge debts you will h a v e to pay for without getting a new social infrastructure in return. W e ' r e sorry for t h e polarized country. T h e corporate scandals. T h e c o r rupt politics. O u r imperiled democracy. W e ' r e sorry for t h e sprawl and our addiction to oil and for all those toxins in t h e e n v i r o n m e n t . Sorry about all this, class of 2 0 0 6 . G o o d luck c l e a n i n g it up." You're going to h a v e your hands full. I don't need to tell you of t h e gloomy scenarios being written for your t i m e . T h r e e books on my desk right now question w h e t h e r h u m a n beings will e v e n survive t h e twentyfirst century. Just listen to t h e i r titles: The Long Emergency: Surviving the Converging

Catastrophes

of the

Twenty-First

Century;

Collapse:

How

Soci-

MOYERS

eties

Choose

and

the

to

Fail

Destruction

or

ON

DEMOCRACY

Succeed;

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of Change:

Climate,

Weather,

of Civilizations.

T h e s e are just three o f t h e m a n y r e c e n t b o o k s t h a t m a k e t h e apocalypse prophesied in t h e B i b l e look like child's play. I won't summarize t h e m for you e x c e p t to say t h a t t h e y spell o u t doomsday scenarios for global catastrophe. T h e r e ' s a n o t h e r r e c e n t b o o k called The Revenge of Gaia t h a t could well h a v e b e e n subtitled " T h e E a r t h Strikes B a c k " because t h e author, J a m e s L o v e l o c k , says h u m a n c o n s u m p t i o n , our obsession with technology, and our h a b i t of "playing G o d " are stripping bare nature's assets until Earth's only c o n s o l a t i o n will be to take us down with her. Before this century is over, he writes, " B i l l i o n s of us will die and the few breeding pairs of people t h a t survive will be kept in t h e A r c t i c where t h e c l i m a t e remains tolerable." So there you h a v e it: t h e future of t h e race, to be j o i n e d in a final and fatal m a r c h of t h e penguins. Fortunately, that's n o t t h e only scenario. You c a n G o o g l e your way to more optimistic possibilities. For o n e , t h e digital revolution t h a t will transform h o w we do business and live our lives, including active intelligent wireless devices t h a t in just a short t i m e could link every aspect of our physical world and e v e n h u m a n brains, c r e a t i n g hundreds of t h o u sands of small-scale business opportunities. T h e r e are medical breakthroughs t h a t will c o n q u e r many ills and e x t e n d longevity. E c o n o m i c changes will lift hundreds of millions of people out of absolute poverty in t h e n e x t twenty-five years, dwarfing anything that's c o m e along in the previous o n e hundred years. T h e s e are t h e m a n y possible scenarios. But I'm a journalist, n o t a prophet. A l l I c a n say is t h a t you won't be bored. I just wish I were going to be around to see w h a t you do with t h e peril and t h e promise. S i n c e I w o n ' t be around, I w a n t to t a k e this opportunity to say a thing or two t h a t has n o t h i n g to do with my professional life as a journalist. W h a t I h a v e to say today is very personal. If t h e world confuses you a little, it confuses me a lot. W h e n I graduated fifty years ago I thought I had the answers. B u t life is where you get your answers questioned, and t h e odds are t h a t you c a n l o o k forward to being e v e n m o r e perplexed fifty years from now t h a n you are at this

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very m o m e n t . If your parents level with you, truly speak their hearts, I suspect they would tell you t h a t life confuses t h e m , too, and t h a t it rarely turns out t h e way you t h i n k it will. I am alternatively afraid, cantankerous, bewildered, often hostile, sometimes gracious, and battered by a hundred new sensations every day. I c a n be filled with pessimism as gloomy as t h e depth of t h e Middle Ages, yet deep w i t h i n me I ' m possessed of a h o p e t h a t simply won't quit. A friend on W a l l S t r e e t told me t h a t he was optimistic about t h e market. I asked h i m , " T h e n why do you l o o k so worried?" He replied, " B e c a u s e I'm n o t sure my optimism is justified." N e i t h e r am I. So I vacillate b e tween the d e t e r m i n a t i o n to act, to c h a n g e things, and t h e desire to retreat into t h e snuggeries of self, family, and friends. I wonder if any of us in this great, disputatious, over-analyzed, overtelevised, and under-tenderized country k n o w what t h e deuce we're talking about, myself included. A l l my illusions are up for grabs, and I find myself reassessing many of t h e assumptions t h a t served me comfortably m u c h of my life. Earlier this week I listened to a discussion on t h e radio about t h e n e w Disney Broadway production of Tarzan, t h e jungle h e r o who was so popular w h e n I was growing up. As a kid I almost dislocated my tonsils trying to re-create his unearthly sound, swinging on a great v i n e in a graceful arc toward t h e rescue of his distressed m a t e , J a n e , hollering bloody murder all t h e time. So w h a t h a v e we learned since? T h a t Buster C r a b b e and J o h n n y Weissmuller, who played Tarzan in t h e movies, n e v e r made t h a t noise. It was a recording of three m e n , o n e a baritone, o n e a tenor, and o n e a hog caller from A r k a n s a s — a l l yelling at t h e top of t h e i r lungs. T h i s world is hard on believers. As a young m a n I was drawn to politics. I t o o k part in two n a t i o n a l campaigns, served in t h e K e n n e d y and J o h n s o n administrations, and h a v e covered politics ever s i n c e . B u t I understand n o w what T h o m a s Jefferson m e a n t b a c k in 1 7 8 9 w h e n he wrote: "I am n o t a Federalist b e cause I n e v e r submitted t h e whole system of my opinions to t h e creed of any party of m e n , w h e t h e r in religion, in philosophy, in politics, or any-

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thing else. If I could n o t go to H e a v e n but w i t h a party, I would n o t go there a t all." ( O f course w e k n o w there'll b e n o parties i n H e a v e n . N o D e m o c r a t s , n o R e p u b l i c a n s , n o liberals, n o conservatives, n o libertarians or socialists. Just us Baptists.) T h e hardest struggle of all is to r e c o n c i l e life's polar realities. I love books, B e e t h o v e n , and c h o c o l a t e brownies. Yet how do I justify my pleasure in these in a world where m i l l i o n s are illiterate and c h i l d r e n go hungry? H o w do I live sanely in a world so unsafe for so many? I don't k n o w w h a t t h e y taught you h e r e at H a m i l t o n about all this, but I trust you are n o t leaving without t h i n k i n g about h o w you will respond to t h e dissonance in our culture, t h e rivalry b e t w e e n beauty and bestiality in t h e world, and t h e conflicts in your own soul. A l l of us h a v e to c h o o s e sides on this journey. B u t t h e question is n o t so m u c h w h o we are going to fight against as it is w h i c h side of our o w n nature will we nurture: t h e side t h a t c a n grow weary and e v e n c y n i c a l and believe that everything is futile, or t h e side t h a t for all t h e vulgarity, brutality, and cruelty yearns to affirm, c o n n e c t , and signify. A l b e r t C a m u s saw beauty in t h e world as well as h u m i l i a t i o n , and he said, " W e h a v e to strive, hard as it is, n o t to be u n f a i t h f u l . . . in t h e presence o f o n e o r t h e other." As I prepared to c o m e h e r e today, I put myself in your place. I asked w h a t I'd w a n t a stranger from a n o t h e r g e n e r a t i o n to tell me if I h a d to sit through his speech. W e l l , I'd want to h e a r t h e truth. T h e truth is, life's a tough act, t h e world's a hard place, a n d along t h e way you will m e e t a fair share of fools, knaves, and clowns. You'll e v e n a c t t h e fool yourself from t i m e to t i m e w h e n your guard is down or you've h a d too m u c h to drink. D o n ' t try to disguise or deny your lapse in judgment; get up and do better. I'd like to be told t h a t I will e x p e r i e n c e separation, loss, and betrayal, t h a t I'll wonder at times where h a v e all t h e flowers gone. I'd want to be told t h a t while life includes a lot of luck, life is more t h a n luck. It is sacrifice, study, and work: a p p o i n t m e n t s kept, deadlines met, promises h o n o r e d . I'd like to be told t h a t it's okay to love your country right or wrong,

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but it's n o t right to be silent w h e n your country is wrong. A n d I would like t o b e encouraged n o t t o give u p o n the A m e r i c a n e x p e r i e n c e . T o rem e m b e r t h a t t h e same culture w h i c h produced t h e K u K l u x K l a n , L e e H a r v e y Oswald, and A b u G h r a i b also brought forth t h e P e a c e Corps, M a r t i n L u t h e r K i n g , and H a m i l t o n C o l l e g e . A n d 1 would like to be told t h a t there is more to this life t h a n I c a n see, earn, or learn in my t i m e . T h a t beyond t h e day-to-day s p e c t a c l e are c o s m i c mysteries w e don't understand. T h a t i n t h e m e a n t i m e — a n d t h e m e a n t i m e is where we l i v e — w e infinitesimal particles of c r e a t i o n carry on t h e m i r a c l e of loving, by giving and sharing. O n e of my favorite stories is by I. L. Peretz, a founder of m o d e r n Yiddish literature and a m a n w h o struggled with t h e conflict b e t w e e n t h e t r a n s c e n d e n t and the m u n d a n e in everyday life. In o n e of his stories t h e protagonist, B o n t s h e Shvayg, is o n e of Earth's losers. Every possible misfortune befell h i m : he lost his wife, his c h i l d r e n n e g l e c t e d h i m , his house burned down, his j o b disappeared—everything turned to ashes. Yet through all this B o n t s h e n e v e r c o m p l a i n e d , and he did everything he could to return good for evil. W h e n he died t h e angels heard he was arriving at H e a v e n ' s gate and hurried to greet h i m . E v e n t h e Lord was there, so great was t h e regard for this man's character. It was t h e custom in H e a v e n t h a t every n e w c o m e r was interrogated by t h e prosecuting angel, to ensure t h a t all trespasses on E a r t h h a d b e e n a t o n e d . B u t w h e n B o n t s h e r e a c h e d those gates, t h e prosecuting angel arose and for t h e first t i m e in t h e m e m o r y of H e a v e n , said, " T h e r e are no charges against this man." B o n t s h e is t h e n invited to ask for his heart's desire—anything he wants. " A s k , " says t h e Lord, "and it shall be given to you." T h e old m a n raised his eyes slowly and said, " W h a t I'd like most of all is a warm roll with fresh butter every morning." At this t h e Lord and all t h e angels wept a t t h e beautiful simplicity o f his request. T h e j o y o f life he found in t h a t bread. So I brought with me today this ordinary breakfast roll. Perhaps it is o n e like B o n t s h e Shvayg asked for in H e a v e n . I brought it to illustrate t h e last thing I want to say to you. B r e a d is t h e great reenforcer of t h e reality principle. B r e a d is life.

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B u t if you're like me you h a v e a thousand a n d m o r e times repeated t h e ordinary e x p e r i e n c e of eating bread without a t h o u g h t for t h e process t h a t brings it to your table. T h e reality is physical: I n e e d this bread to live. B u t t h e reality is also social: I need others to provide t h e bread. 1 depend for bread on hundreds of people I don't k n o w and will n e v e r m e e t . If they fail m e , I go hungry. If I offer t h e m n o t h i n g of value in e x c h a n g e for t h e i r loaf, I betray t h e m . T h e people w h o grow t h e wheat, process and store t h e grain, a n d transport it from farm to city; w h o b a k e it, package it, and market i t — t h e s e people a n d I are bound t o g e t h e r in a n intricate reciprocal bargain. W e e x c h a n g e value. T h i s reciprocity sustains us. If you doubt it, look around you. H a m i l t o n C o l l e g e was raised by people before your t i m e , people you'll n e v e r know, w h o were n o n e t h e l e s s t h i n k i n g of you before you were b o r n . You h a v e received w h a t t h e y built and b e q u e a t h e d to you a n d in your time you will give s o m e t h i n g b a c k . T h a t ' s t h e deal. O n i t goes, g e n e r a t i o n t o generation. C i v i l i z a t i o n sustains and supports us. B r e a d is its great metaphor. A l l my life I've prayed t h e Lord's Prayer, but I've n e v e r prayed, " G i v e me this day my daily bread." It is always, " G i v e us this day our daily bread." Bread and life are shared realities. T h e y do n o t h a p p e n in isolation. Civilizat i o n i s a n unnatural act. W e h a v e t o m a k e i t happen, you and I , t o g e t h e r with all t h e o t h e r strangers. M y g e n e r a t i o n h a s n ' t d o n e t h e best j o b a t h o n o r i n g this e t h i c a l imperative, a n d our failure explains t h e mess we're handing over to you. You may be our last c h a n c e to get it right. So good luck, G o d s p e e d , enjoy these last few hours together, and don't forget to pass t h e bread.

Acknowledgments

Gerry Howard bears t h e b l a m e for this book. It was his idea. He read several of my speeches as they circulated on t h e I n t e r n e t and said they should be published as a b o o k . I said speeches should be heard, n o t read. Gerry wouldn't give up, w h i c h explains, no doubt, why he is Doubleday's e x e c u t i v e editor at large and I am n o t . As I c o n t i n u e d to resist, he called in his heaviest artillery—our mutual friend and oppressor, S t e v e R u b i n (who had earlier insisted on publishing J o s e p h Campbell's The Power of Myth and o t h e r books based on my television work). I n t i m i d a t e d and harassed, I yielded. S o m e of these s p e e c h e s — o r excerpts and versions of t h e m — h a d appeared in publications such as Army Times, The Nation, Sojourners, Christian Century, the o n l i n e journal Grist, and in an earlier book, Movers on America. Frankly, however, I am today grateful to b o t h Gerry and S t e v e for seeing something in these speeches worth putting b e t w e e n hard covers. T h e y had a faithful and diligent co-conspirator in

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Doubleday's K a t i e Halleron. M y o w n e x e c u t i v e assistant, K a r e n K i m ball, did an extraordinary j o b of tracking down t h e original speeches, organizing t h e m , and poring over t h e m with h e r o w n fine-tooth c o m b ; h e r j u d g m e n t is as admirable as h e r ability to juggle twelve balls and swallow fire in t h e c e n t e r ring of a circus as we also put a weekly broadcast on t h e air. My speeches, like those broadcasts, are t h e result of intense c o l l a b o ration. M a n y people through t h e years h a v e contributed immeasurably as researchers. Elizabeth Karnes, n o w assistant dean of t h e Middlebury Language S c h o o l ; A n d i e Tucher, n o w o n t h e faculty o f t h e C o l u m b i a G r a d u a t e S c h o o l o f Journalism; and R e b e c c a W h a r t o n , o n e o f m y ablest producers, served long stints as my editorial associates during w h i c h they drafted or shaped ideas important to my television work and speeches. I h a v e benefited enormously from t h e efforts of two colleagues, Julie L e i n i n g e r Pycior, professor of history at M a n h a t t a n C o l l e g e , and Lew Daly, S e n i o r Fellow at D e m o s . I owe an incalculable debt to t h e historian B e r n a r d Weisberger, t h e author o f m a n y fine books o n t h e A m e r i c a n e x p e r i e n c e . B e r n i e and I collaborated closely on two P B S series, A Walk

Through

the

Twentieth

Century

and

Report from

Philadelphia;

we

share a c o m m o n passion for t h e progressive tradition in A m e r i c a and I consider i t a n h o n o r t o give v o i c e t o many o f his ideas. J u d i t h D a v i d s o n Moyers is my business and creative partner, t h e e x e c u t i v e editor of everything I do, and my wife of fifty-four years. A m a n is fortunate who marries his muse.

INDEX

Abramoff, Jack, 2 0 5 - 1 5 Abu Ghraib, 2 6 8 - 6 9 , 282, 339, 3 8 4 "Act of Insurrection" (Kosciuszko), 68 Adair, Christina, 140 Adams, Henry, 125, 126 Adams, John, 231 Adelstein, Jonathan, 324, 325 Adler, Mortimer, 88 advertising, media transformed by, 324, 327 affirmative action, 1 0 2 - 4 African Americans, 16 educational inequality and, 39, 98, 99, 101, 1 0 2 - 4 , 162, 172, 237 as war veterans, 42, 46, 99 See also civil rights; racism, racial inequality; segregation; voting rights Agriculture Department, U.S., 189 air pollution, 185, 186 Alexander, Kim, 187 Alito, Samuel, 307 Allan Nevins Prize, 131

Alpert, Jon, 258 American Carnival (Henry), 340 American Civil Rights Initiative, 102 "American Democracy in an Age of Rising Inequality" (American Political Science Association), 195 American Dream (documentary), 256 American Dream vs. the Gospel of Wealth (Garfinkle), 19, 316 American Indians, lobbying for, 2 0 7 - 8 America Now (Harris), 3 7 4 - 7 5 American Revolution, 6 6 - 6 9 , 70, 241 Americans for Democratic Action, 4 9 - 5 0 Americans for Tax Reform, 207, 208 Anderson, Stanton, 218 Andrews, Mary Catherine, 279 Animal Farm (Orwell), 109 Aristotle, 242 Arizona, 191, 216, 217 Ark, Wong Kim, 152 Armstrong, Anne, 195

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Armstrong, Katharine, 194, 195 Arrow, Kenneth, 163 Asia Pacific Exchange Foundation, 1 8 4 - 8 5 asthma, 1 8 5 - 8 6 , 231 Aufderheide, Patricia, 266

Burma, 1 8 4 - 8 5 Burns, Gerald, 355 Burns, Ken, 256 Bush, George H. W, 1 5 7 - 5 8 , 159, 189, 195, 306

Bailey, Chauncey, 3 4 8 - 4 9 Baker, James A., III, 195 Baldwin, James, 44 Ball, Jim, 292

Bush, George W, 13, 20, 66, 104, 1 6 4 - 6 5 , 195, 197, 2 1 2 - 1 3 , 220, 227, 274, 284, 291,292, 307,370,372,374 Bush administration environmental policies of, 285, 286,

Banks and the Poor, The (documentary), 277 Barrie-Anthony, Steven, 3 4 2 - 4 4 Barth, Karl, 31 Bautista, Ivhan Luis Carpio, 2 2 3 - 2 4 Becoming American: The Chinese Experience (PBS series), 143, 152 Bell, Daniel, 16 Bellah, Robert, 166 Bellow, Saul, 3 4 0 Benchley, Robert, 335 Berenbaum, Michael, 233 Bergman, Ingrid, 40 Bible, 2 9 3 , 2 9 4 - 9 5 , 3 6 7 - 6 9 , 371 Bilbo, Theodore, 4 3 - 4 4 Bill of Rights, 1 7 , 3 6 4 bin Laden, Osama, 232, 233, 369 Birmingham, Ala., bombings in, 129, 221 Black History Month, 238 blacks. See African Americans Blaine, James G., 151 Blanton, Tom, 306 Bluestone, Barry, 239 Blumenthal, Sidney, 195 Blunt, Roy, 215 Bly, Nellie, 295 Boehner, John, 215 Bowen, William, 104 Boykin, William, 3 6 9 - 7 0 , 372 Brancaccio, David, 3 1 0 Brandeis, Louis, 197 Brecht, Bertolt, 128 Brock, David, 318 Brooks, Cleanth, 8 7 - 8 8 Brotze, Selma, 333 Browning, Elizabeth Barrett, 115 Brown vs. Board of Education, 46, 237 Bryan, William Jennings, 6 Brzezinski, Mika, 342 Buchanan, Pat, 278, 362 Buck, Muriel, 37, 50 Burke, Edmund, 1 7 2 - 7 3

2 8 7 - 8 8 , 2 8 9 - 9 0 , 305, 309 expansion of special interests under, 1 9 7 - 9 8 , 247 Iraq War and, 59, 63, 66, 75, 7 6 - 7 7 , 91, 272, 273, 290, 302, 304 as isolated from reality, 2 8 4 - 8 5 military support failures of, 7 5 - 7 6 , 272 obsession with secrecy of, 3 0 4 - 8 , 3 2 0 propaganda produced by, 3 0 5 - 6 public broadcasting threatened under, 265-66, 273-83 See also conservatives Buying the War (documentary), 339 Cahill, Thomas, 137 California, 1 0 2 - 3 , 1 5 0 - 5 1 , 1 8 6 - 8 7 , 213, 217,230-31 California, University of, 102 campaign finance reform, 181, 182, 190-92, 216-17 See also political fund-raising Campbell, Joseph, 33, 5 7 - 5 8 , 83 Camus, Albert, 383 Capra, Frank, 125, 254 Carey, James W., 89 Carlyle, Thomas, 142 Carson, Rachel, 287 Cato Institute, 188 CBS, 253, 260, 342, 3 4 4 Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, 204 Central American Free Trade Agreement ( C A F T A ) , 322 Central Intelligence Agency ( C I A ) , 146, 304 chemical industry, 269, 287, 3 3 7 - 3 8 Cheney, Dick, 66, 1 9 3 - 9 5 , 3 0 6 - 7 Chester, Jeff, 327 Chesterton, G. K, 7 8 - 7 9 China, Chinese, 1 4 7 - 5 3 Chinese Americans, 143—47

INDEX

Chinese Educational Mission, 153 Chinese Exclusion Act, 152, 153 Christian Coalition, 206, 207, 208, 3 2 6 Christian conservatives, in the environmental movement, 2 9 1 - 9 5 Christianity, 353, 355, 357, 3 7 5 - 7 6 Citizens and Politics, 1 6 3 - 6 4 civil rights, 16, 20, 140, 315 Humphrey's record on, 34, 3 7 - 3 9 , 4 4 - 4 5 , 46-47 landmarks in fight for, 34 on 1948 Democratic platform, 3 7 - 3 9 , 44-45 See also affirmative action; racism, racial inequality; segregation; voting rights Civil Rights Act of 1964, 34, 48, 50, 98, 117 Civil War, The (documentary), 2 5 6 Civil War, U.S., 26, 63, 7 2 - 7 3 , 74, 76, 99, 1 3 9 - 4 0 , 149, 270 Clancy, Martin, 262 Clark, William, 71 class divide, 2 - 3 , 15, 20, 196, 3 1 6 Clear Channel, 314, 325 Clear Skies Act, 305 climate change. See global warming Clinton, Bill, 144, 179, 182, 1 9 8 - 9 9 , 245, 285,310,315 Close to Home (PBS series), 290 Coelho, Tony, 199 Coffin, Alex, 54, 55 Coffin, Bill, 5 3 - 5 8 Cohen, Jeff, 3 0 3 - 4 Coleman, Mary Sue, 102-3 Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed (Diamond), 2 0 - 2 1 , 2 4 0 - 4 1 College Republicans, 206 Commager, Henry Steele, 32, 141 Commerce Department, U.S., 144 Commission on National Elections, 214 Committee of 100, 143, 153 Committee to Protect Journalists, 348 Communications Act of 1934, 3 2 4 community, sense of, 163, 164, 1 6 5 - 6 8 , 225, 2 2 6 concentration camps, 125 Congress, U.S. Democratic control of, 1 3 - 1 4 Moyers's testimony before, 84, 8 5 - 8 7 public distrust of, 205 Republican control of, 13, 105, 198, 1 9 9 - 2 0 3 , 274, 315

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special interests influence in, 179, 182, 184-88, 2 0 9 - 1 0 , 272, 337, 338 student loans cut by, 105 See also political system, U.S.; specific members and houses Connecticut, 153, 191, 216 Connerly, Ward, 102 conservatives antigovernment populism from, 1 5 7 - 5 8 C P B controlled by, 267, 275, 277, 309 political agenda of, 13, 1 6 - 1 7 , 21, 84, 85, 1 1 0 - 1 1 , 157-58, 200, 225, 244, 275, 374 religious piety claimed by, 206 See also Bush administration; religious Right; Republican Party Constitution, U.S., 2, 1 6 9 , 1 7 5 - 7 6 , 320, 364, 3 7 4 three-fifths compromise in, 42, 176 Copps, Michael, 324, 325 Corn, David, 186 corporate subsidies, 179, 184, 185, 1 8 7 - 8 8 , 198, 199, 2 2 8 - 2 9 , 230, 373 See also special interests Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), 267, 271, 275, 2 7 7 - 7 9 , 300, 309 counterterrorism, "war on terror" vs., 78 Cox Report, 146-47 Credo (Coffin), 55 crime rates, 161, 162 Cromwell, Oliver, 70 Crowley, Michael, 210 Cuba, 73, 148, 149 Curtis, Thomas, 278 Dark, David, 312 Davidson, Joe, 61 Debating War and Peace (Mermin), 2 6 8 debt, 4, 15, 20, 105, 106-7, 163, 243, 316, 380 Declaration of Independence, 6 4 - 6 5 , 67, 235-36 DeLay, Tom, 2 1 5 - 1 6 Abramoff and, 2 0 5 - 6 , 207, 209, 2 1 1 - 1 2 and conservative takeover, 2 0 0 - 2 1 0 political fund-raising for, 2 0 0 - 2 0 1 , 205, 207, 2 0 9 special interests defended by, 2 0 9 - 1 0 Texas redistricting plan of, 2 0 7 - 8 See also K Street Project

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democracy, 180, 192 "bastard muses" as enemy of, 8 7 - 8 8 beauty in, 119 conversation in, 8 9 - 9 0 , 271 definition and core of, 1, 5, 92, 109, 182, 241 digital revolution and, 90 economic inequality and, 2 - 3 , 4, 20, 32, 110, 162, 178, 197, 221 globalization in, 1 7 7 - 7 8 , 240 immigration and, 154 inclusiveness of, 182, 215, 2 4 3 - 4 4 industrial capitalism and, 8 2 - 8 3 , 181, 241,288 informed public needed for, 9 2 , 9 3 , 318, 321-23 intellectual curiosity and, 1 3 7 - 3 8 journalists as guardians of, 4, 5 - 6 , 319 news media and, 8 9 - 9 0 , 269, 315, 319, 325 nurtured by humanism, 87, 89 participation in, 168, 243 public trust in, 1-2 religious diversity and, 357 role in political system of, 1 8 0 - 8 2 secret side of, 3 0 8 spread of, 7 3 - 7 4 , 161 stalled progress of, 195 taking back, 2 1 5 - 1 8 threats to, 8 7 - 8 8 , 1 6 2 , 180, 192, 200 See also political system, U.S. Democratic Issues Conference, 157 Democratic National Committee, 144, 183, 199 Democratic National Convention of 1948, 34, 37, 3 8 - 3 9 Democratic Party, 16, 17, 105, 179, 182, 183, 1 9 8 - 9 9 , 2 0 2 - 3 , 337, 375 Congress controlled by, 1 3 - 1 4 lack of public faith in, 159 Moyers's admiration for administrations of, 1 5 8 - 5 9 1948 platform of, 3 7 - 3 9 , 4 4 - 4 5 political agenda of, 20, 158 South as traditional base of, 37, 3 8 - 3 9 , 44-45 as unfocused, 158 See also progressives Denby, David, 84 deregulation, 199, 3 1 5 - 1 6 , 3 2 5 - 2 6 , 344-45

INDEX

Deutch, John, 146 DeVos, Richard, 184 Dewey, Thomas E., 37 Diamond, Jared, 2 0 - 2 1 , 2 4 0 - 4 1 digital revolution, 9 0 , 3 2 3 - 2 7 , 3 4 3 , 347, 381 Dink, Hrant, 348 Dirksen, Everett, 49 Dixiecrat Party, 45 Dobson, James, 200, 208 documentaries, 2 5 3 - 5 6 , 3 4 5 Moyers's work on; see specific films political attacks on, 258, 3 3 7 - 3 9 truth revealed in, 2 5 8 - 5 9 Dorgan, Byron, 326 Doti, Frank, 246 Earned Income Tax Credit, 2 4 5 - 4 6 Earth on Edge (TV special), 232 Eastetbrook, Gregg, 359 Eck, Diana, 353, 354 Economic Apartheid in America (Collins and Yeskel), 196 economic inequality, 68, 1 0 7 - 1 2 , 162, 190, 242,244,310 democracy undermined by, 2 - 3 , 4, 20, 32, 110, 162, 178, 197, 221 in education, 97, 98, 237, 238 media suppression of, 1 0 8 - 9 , 243 public sense of community undermined by, 163 religious Right as silent on, 372, 373 economy, U.S. declining incomes in, 2 4 2 - 4 3 manufacturing base of, 160 recessions in, 160-61 See also stocks, stock market; taxes, taxation; wages Edelman, Murray, 3 1 8 education, 163, 305 cost of, 9 6 - 9 9 , 1 0 5 - 6 , 196, 238 curriculum in, 2 3 5 - 3 6 , 2 4 8 - 4 9 desegregation and, 34, 46, 237 dropout rates in, 243 economic inequality in, 97, 98, 101, 112, 162, 237, 238 federal funding, 4, 19, 100, 101, 105, 161 higher; see higher education as key to success in global economy, 99-100 as part of social contract, 2 3 8 - 4 1

INDEX

racial inequality and, 39, 97, 98, 99, 162, 172, 237 urban, 235, 2 3 6 - 3 8 Education Department, U.S., 238 Ehrhart, W. D., 62 Eisenhower, Dwight D., 66, 75, 7 7 - 7 8 , 274 elections of 1876, 150 of 1946, 43 of 1 9 4 8 , 3 4 , 3 7 - 3 9 of 1960, 29, 30, 35, 116, 117, 173 of 1 9 6 4 , 1 1 7 - 1 8 of 1994, 201 of 1996, 144, 337 of 2000, 212 of 2002, 2 7 4 - 7 5 of 2004, 372

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clean energy and, 230, 231 national security linked to, 2 3 0 - 3 1 PBS programming on, 232 threats to, 3, 190 See also global warming Environmental Defense Fund, 83 environmental movement, 2 8 5 - 8 8 Christian conservatives in, 2 9 1 - 9 3 public support for, 286 Environmental Protection Agency, U.S., 183, 185, 305 Environmental Working Group, 186, 229 Ericson, Edward, 167 Escobar, Fabio, 1 7 4 - 7 5 Eternal Jews, The (film), 125 Evangelical Environmental Network, 292 executive compensation, 4, 107, 2 1 9 - 2 0 , 242

of 2006, 371 cost of running in, 3, 180, 184, 197, 200, 212-13,216-18 media coverage of, 332 voter turnout, 180-81 See also campaign finance reform; political fund-raising electronics industry, 2 0 1 - 2 Elias, Barbara, 306 Eliot, T. S. 359 elite

Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, 321 Faith Force Multiplier, 3 6 9 - 7 0 Falwell, Jerry, 208, 369, 374, 375 farm subsidies,. 187, 2 3 0 Faulk, John Henry, 336, 337 Federal Advisory Committee, 3 0 5 Federal Communications Commission

as isolated from social decline, 2 4 0 - 4 1 media ownership by, 5 - 6 , 199, 228, 243, 272, 3 1 3 - 1 4 , 3 1 7 - 1 8 , 3 2 4 - 2 5 , 3 4 4 - 4 5 priority gap between public and, 1 5 - 1 6 , 20, 101, 163-64, 190, 196, 227, 288 served by political system, 2, 3 - 4 , 1 1 - 1 2 , 16, 18, 1 7 7 - 7 8 , 186, 193-97, 244, 247-48 social contract shredded by, 15, 1 8 9 - 9 0 , 198 Emerson, Ralph Waldo, 1 4 9 - 5 0 Endangered Species Act, 305 End of Ideology, The (Bell), 16 energy conservation, 2 3 0 - 3 1 Energy Department, U.S., 213, 239 energy industry, 1 8 4 - 8 5 , 202, 228, 229, 285 Bush administration links to, 213, 3 0 6 - 7 price system reform and, 2 3 0 - 3 1 Enron, 213, 309 environment, 163, 229, 3 8 0 asthma linked to hazards in, 1 8 5 - 8 6 Bush administration policies on, 285, 286, 2 8 7 - 8 8 , 2 8 9 - 9 0 , 305, 309

( F C C ) , 272, 313, 3 2 4 - 2 5 , 3 4 4 Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 213 Federal Reserve, 107 Feinstone, Sol, 60 Filho, Luis Carlos Barbon, 348 financial industry, 199, 202, 2 2 5 - 2 6 First Amendment, 6, 7, 364 fiscal theology, 240 Fiske, John, 125 Flahetty, Robert, 254 Foerstel, Herbert, 3 0 0 Food and Drug Administration (FDA), 202 Ford, Gerald, 195, 306 Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, 147, 195 Forest Service, U.S., 287 "For the Health of the Nation" (National Association of Evangelicals), 292 Founding Fathers, 42, 65, 70, 1 4 7 - 4 8 , 176 Fowler, Mark, 344 Fox News, 209, 265, 278, 311, 3 3 9 - 4 0

executive privilege, 3 2 0 ExxonMobil, 199, 285, 309

394

Frank, Barney, 217 Franklin, Benjamin, 147, 314 freedom in conservative agenda, 4 - 5 , 17 equality of opportunity and, 69, 72, 112, 241 history as critical to, 127 of an independent press, 6, 7, 3 2 3 - 2 4 , 328, 333 Kosciuszko's view, 6 8 - 6 9 meaning of, 4 - 5 , 1 7 - 1 9 , 7 2 - 7 3 and military service, 70, 7 7 - 7 8 , 7 9 - 8 0 participatory democracy needed for, 168, 243 preserved by government, 18, 241 in progressive agenda, 18 of time in documentaries, 256, 257 wars fought for, 57, 65, 69, 72 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 272, 299, 3 0 0 - 3 0 1 , 306, 307 Freedom of Information and the Right to Know (Foerstel), 3 0 0 Freedom Rides, 34, 54, 129 Freedom Reclaimed (Schwarz), 1 8 - 1 9 Freedom's Power (Starr), 18 Freedom Summer, 47 Free Press, 324, 3 2 5 - 2 6 free trade, 1 8 - 1 9 , 232, 240, 310, 322 French and Indian Wars, 70 Friedman, Thomas, 322 Friendly, Fred W, 253, 257, 2 6 0 - 6 4 From D-Day to the Rhine (documentary), 61-62 Frontline (TV series), 3 3 7 - 3 8 Froth and Scrum (Tucher), 131 Fuchs, Meredith, 306 Fund, John, 102-3 Future of Children, The (Sawhill and McLanahan), 104 Gannon, Jeff, 305 Garcia, Octavio, 140-41 Garfinkle, Norton, 19, 3 1 6 Gavin, James M., 31 Geeslin, Christopher, 2 0 9 - 2 1 Gellhorn, Martha, 2 5 8 - 5 9 General Electric, 228 Genesis: A Living Conversation (PBS series), 1 3 6 - 3 7 , 3 5 7 - 5 9 Gerhardt, Ralph, 224 Giap, Vo Nguyen, 26

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INDEX

Gibbon, Edward, 366, 3 6 8 GI Bill, 20, 99 Gigot, Paul, 2 7 9 , 3 1 0 - 1 1 Gilead (Robinson), 58 Gillespie, Joel, 291 Gingrich, Newt, 184, 201, 212 Giuliani, Rudy, 220 Gjonbalaj, Mon, 224 globalization, 9 9 - 1 0 0 , 1 7 7 - 7 8 , 240, 310, 322 global warming, 285, 286, 2 8 7 - 8 8 , 2 8 9 - 9 0 , 309 Goldman Sachs, 2 4 2 - 4 3 Goldwater, Barry, 214, 301 Gordon, Mary, 137 Gordon, Robert J . , 196 Gospel According to America, The (Dark), 312 Grant, Hiram Ulysses, 71 Grant, Ulysses S., 66, 72, 73, 130 Great Depression, 99, 141 Green Mountain Boys, 70 Greenspan, Alan, 1 7 7 - 7 8 Gregorian, Vartan, 86 Greider, William, 190 Greiner, Marley, 372 Griles, Steven, 309 Grove, Steve, 64 Gruening, Ernest, 160 Gulf of Tonkin, 160, 3 0 1 - 2 , 304 Gulf War, 1 5 9 - 6 0 Guthrie, Arlo, 2 Halliburton, 195, 273 Halperin, Cheryl, 277 Hamilton College, 3 7 9 - 8 5 Hammond, William, 79 Handbook of Texas History (Texas State Historical Association), 138 Hanley, Charles J . , 268 Hanna, Mark, 1 7 9 - 8 0 Harding, Warren, 140 Harman, Sidney, 163 Harris, Dilue Rose, 139 Harris, Marvin, 3 7 4 - 7 5 Harrison, Bennett, 239 Havel, Vaclav, 164 Haydari, Sahar Hussein Ali al-, 348 Hayes, Rutherford B., 150 Hazen, Don, 327 Head Start, 161

INDEX

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395

health care, 203, 229, 239, 240

Ho Chi Minh, 391

cost of, 4 , 1 5 , 1 6 3 , 1 8 8 , 190, 196, 2 0 3 - 4 for military, 75, 77 racial inequality and, 39 and the uninsured, 161, 243 Heart Is a Little to the Left, The (Coffin), 55 Heat-Moon, William Least, 27 Heinz, Stephen, 241, 242 Henry, Neil, 340 Heritage Conversations, 1 2 3 - 2 4 Heritage Foundation, 226 Hewlett-Packard, 198 High Crimes and Misdemeanors (documentary), 337 higher education

Hodgson, Godfrey, 108, 110 Hoffman, Nicholas von, 178 Holmes, Elizabeth, 224 Holmes, Obadiah, 364 Holocaust, 128, 233

baby boomers and, 98 challenges facing, 9 5 - 9 6 cost of, 9 6 - 9 7 , 9 8 - 9 9 , 105-6, 196 equal opportunity rot, 9 7 - 1 0 1 legacy admissions in, 104 privatization of public, 105 racial inequality in, 98, 99, 100-101 upward mobility via, 103, 1 0 4 - 5 See also education Higher Education A c t of 1965, 98, 99, 100 Hightower, Jim, 181, 189 highway system, 230, 239, 240 Himmelberg, Michele, 341 Hinchley, Maurice, 326 Hippler, Fritz, 1 2 4 - 2 5 Hispanics, 1 0 0 - 1 0 1 , 161, 237 history belief as progenitor to, 1 3 5 - 3 6 as critical to freedom, 127 defining of, 130, 1 3 5 - 3 6 , 141 denunciation of, 1 2 6 - 2 7 as discipline in twentieth century, 125-26 distortion of, 1 2 7 - 2 8 journalism and, 1 3 1 - 3 2 in Judaism, 124 missing voices in, 136 multiculturalism and, 132 political correctness and, 1 3 2 - 3 3 , 135 power of, 136, 137 propaganda in teaching of, 134 teaching of, 1 3 3 - 3 4 truth in, 1 6 4 - 6 5 , 166-67 History of the Middle Ages (Huizinga), 141-42 Hitler, Adolf, 125, 127, 136, 254

Home Finance Corporation, 174 Homeland Security Department, U.S., 247 Hough, Joseph, 363 House of Representatives, U.S. Appropriations Committee of, 216 Ethics Committee of, 202, 203 Select Committee of, 146 Un-American Activities Committee of, 48 See also Congress, U.S.; political system, U.S. House Un-American Activities Committee, 4 8 "Housewives' Rebellion," 333 housing, 4, 20, 110, 196, 239, 243 Houston, Sam, 139 How the Irish Saved Civilization (Cahill), 137 Huang, John, 1 4 3 - 4 5 , 151-52 Huizinga, Johan, 1 4 1 - 4 2 humanism, 8 4 - 8 9 Humphrey, Hubert, 31, 3 4 - 3 9 , 4 4 - 4 7 , 49-52 Humphrey, Robert, 50 Hunter, James Davison, 192 Hussein, Saddam, 165, 231 Idaho, 191 Ignatieff, Michael, 308 Ignatius, David, 2 6 8 Illinois, 191 immigration, 154, 162 and expansion of religious landscape, 353-54 as political football, 1 5 0 - 5 1 , 212 Immigration and Nationality Act, 153 Imperial Food Products, 1 8 8 - 8 9 income; see wages independent press, 6, 7, 3 2 3 - 2 4 , 328, 333 industrial capitalism, 8 2 - 8 3 , 178, 181, 241, 288 In Praise of Religious Diversity (Wiggins), 356 Interior Department, U.S., 208, 210, 212, 273, 287

396

|

Internal Revenue Service, 2 4 5 - 4 7 International Documentary Association, 254 International Monetary Fund (IMF), 209 Internet; see digital revolution Internet Freedom Preservation Act, 3 2 6 Internet neutrality, 3 2 5 - 2 6 "In Tesla's Laboratory" (Johnson), 1 2 5 - 2 6 In These Times (magazine), 266 Iran-Contra, 175, 269, 337 Iraq War, 13, 60, 66, 1 6 4 - 6 5 , 258, 3 8 0 Bush administration and, 59, 63, 66, 75, 7 6 - 7 7 , 91, 272, 273, 290, 302, 304, 339 costs of, 78 media coverage of, 6 3 - 6 4 , 90, 2 6 8 - 6 9 , 3 0 5 - 6 , 314, 3 2 0 - 2 1 , 331, 332, 3 3 9 - 4 0 Moyers's opposition to, 59 Irish Signorina, The (O'Faolain), 142 Islam, 3 5 6 - 5 7 , 359 Israel, 159, 161 Is Religion Killing Us (Nelson-Pallmeyer), 365,366 Ivins, Molly, 2 0 9 - 1 0 Japan, 239 Jay, John, 65 Jefferson, Thomas, 17, 19, 67, 68, 69, 71, 7 9 - 8 0 , 110, 132, 1 4 7 - 4 8 , 3 6 4 , 3 8 2 Johnson, Lady Bird, 1 1 3 - 1 9 Johnson, Lyndon, 16, 23, 35, 46, 4 9 - 5 1 , 56, 9 7 - 9 8 , 99, 100-101, 115-17, 153, 1 5 9 , 1 7 3 , 1 7 4 , 3 0 0 - 3 0 1 , 304, 382 fair opportunities as ideal of, 9 7 - 9 8 , 99, 1 0 0 - 1 0 1 , 104, 111, 154 Johnson, Robert Underwood, 1 2 5 - 2 6 Johnson, Russell, 371 Johnston, David Cay, 245, 246 Jones, Sherry, 337, 338 Jones, Spencer, 334 Jordan, Arlyne, 172 Jordan, Barbara, 1 6 9 - 7 6 Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth (TV series), 84 journalism, journalists basic lessons of, 3 3 6 - 3 7 consequences of bad, 135 documentaries and, 253, 256, 257, 260-61 as educational, 2 5 5 - 5 6 , 335 environmental, 285, 2 9 2 - 9 5 , 297

INDEX

future of, 3 2 1 - 2 3 , 3 4 6 - 4 8 as guardian of democracy, 4, 5 - 6 , 3 1 9 history and, 1 3 1 - 3 2 investigative, 2 6 0 - 6 1 , 269, 2 9 5 - 9 6 , 3 2 3 , 345 as mission, 263 murder of, 3 4 8 - 4 9 power of, 136 salaries in, 3 4 1 - 4 2 teaching of, 3 3 3 , 336, 3 3 9 , 3 4 2 - 4 3 , 3 4 9 time as investment in, 256, 257, 341 in wartime, 79 See also news and media Judaism, 31, 1 2 3 - 2 4 , 206, 356, 359 Judicial Watch, 3 0 6 - 7 Judis, John, 202 Julca, Miguel Perez, 348 Justice Department, U.S., 146, 216, 272, 306, 307, 325 Kahle, Brewster, 3 2 8 Kahlenberg, Richard, 237 Kasich, John, 188 Katrina (hurricane), 3 6 6 - 6 7 , 373 Keller, Helen, 93 Kempton, Murray, 24, 45 Kennard, Clyde, 48 Kennedy, Jackie, 116 Kennedy, John F., 16, 2 3 , 29, 3 0 - 3 1 , 3 2 , 3 5 , 1 1 6 , 117, 140, 173, 2 2 1 , 3 0 0 , 3 0 1 - 2 , 304, 334, 382 Kennedy, Robert, assassination of, 116, 221 Kettering Foundation, 1 6 3 - 6 4 Kicking Bird, Chief, 140 King, Martin Luther, Jr., 56, 110, 111, 116, 315-16, 323,384 King, Sylvia, 139 Kingston, Maxine Hong, 85 Kissinger, Henry, 277 Kohl, Herbert, 8 4 - 8 5 Kopple, Barbara, 256 Koran, 3 5 5 , 3 6 5 Korea, 355 Korean War, 78, 79 Koresh, David, 357 Kosciuszko, Thadeusz, 6 7 - 6 9 , 72, 7 9 - 8 0 Koughan, Marty, 3 3 7 - 3 8 Krugman, Paul, 107 K Street Project, 200, 201, 213, 215, 219 See also DeLay, Tom Ku Klux Klan, 102, 384

INDEX

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397

Kushner, Tony, 2 2 6 - 2 7 Kuttner, Robert, 203

McDowell, Robert, 3 2 6 McGarrah, John, 166, 167 McKibben, Bill, 2 8 4 - 8 5

laissez-faire capitalism, 5, 19, 21, 165 Lamar, Mirabeau B., 95 Lampman, Robert, 16 Language of Life, The (TV series), 84 Latinos; see Hispanics Lausche, Frank, 35, 36 Lay, Kenneth, 213

McKinley, William, 1 7 9 - 8 0 McLanahan, Sara, 104 MacLeish, Archibald, 2 4 - 2 5 McLuhan, Marshall, 25 MacNeil, Robert, 2 7 7 - 7 8 McVeigh, Timothy, 357 Madison, James, 65, 66, 147 Madrick, Jeffrey, 104, 243 Maine, 191, 216, 217 Mann, Robert, 49 Maraniss, David, 201 March of the Penguins (film), 289 March on Washington, 34 Markey, Edward, 3 2 6 Marshall, Josh, 344 Marshall News Messenger (newspaper),

Lease, Mary Elizabeth, 4, 5 Lee, Robert E., 26, 73 Lee, Wen Ho, 143, 144, 1 4 5 - 4 6 , 1 5 1 - 5 2 Lehrer, Jim, 268 LeMay, Curtis, 26 Lennox, William, 62 Lessig, Lawrence, 3 2 8 "Letters at 3:00 A . M . " (Ventura), 3 2 - 3 3 Letters to a Young Doubter (Coffin), 55 Levine, Arthur, 81 Lewis, Meriweather, 71 liberals; see progressives Liebling, A. J . , 331 Limbaugh, Rush, 3 3 9 Lincoln, Abraham, 4, 19, 22, 26, 73, 76, 109, 173, 221, 241 Lindsay, John, 161 Lippmann, Walter, 332 Little Rock, Ark., 34 Living the Truth in a World of Illusion (Coffin), 55 lobbying, lobbyists; see K Street Project; special interests Locke, John, 68 Lopez, Dan, 306 Lopez, Joe, 61 Los Alamos, N.Mex., 144, 1 4 5 - 4 6 Lott, Trent, 184, 274, 277 Lovelock, James, 381 Lumiere, Auguste and Louis, 2 5 7 - 5 8 Luther, Martin, 125 Luzzicone, Linda, 224 Mac Arthur, Douglas, 76, 7 7 - 7 8 McAuliffe, Terry, 199 McCain, John, 212 McCall, Tom, 285 McCarthy, Joseph, 160, 257, 274 McChesney, Robert, 315, 324 McClellan, George, 76 McDonald, Greg, 211

333-34 Marshall Plan, 20 Masefield, John, 135 Mason, George, 176 Massachusetts, 153 Massachusetts Clean Elections Law, 190-91 Massing, Michael, 304 Media Access Project, 324 media activism, 3 2 4 - 2 7 Media Reform Conference, 309 Medicare, 2 0 3 , 217, 2 4 0 Meletus, 91 Memphis, Tenn., 3 1 5 - 1 6 Mencken, H . L , 226 Mermin, Jonathan, 268 Merton, Thomas, 328 Merwin.W. S., 178 Mexican War, 72 Meyeroff, Al, 214 Michigan, University of, 102-3 military freedom and service in, 70, 7 7 - 7 8 , 7 9 - 8 0 leadership in, 7 0 - 7 1 peacetime vs. wartime, 72 professional vs. volunteer, 70 military, U.S. budget of, 7 4 - 7 5 , 229, 272, 309 Bush administration's failure to support, 7 5 - 7 6 , 272, 273 draft used by, 74 establishment of, 70

398

|

peacetime role of, 7 1 - 7 2 political flattery of, 7 4 - 7 5 , 78 president as head of, 71 segregation of, 42 used to export democracy, 7 3 - 7 4 military-industrial complex, 7 5 - 7 6 , 220 Mill, John Stuart, 31 Miller, George, 2 1 1 - 1 2 Miller, John, 151 Miller, Jonathan, 289 Miller, Judith, 269 Milosz, Czeslaw, 124, 1 2 7 - 2 8 "missing" class, 12, 1 4 - 1 5 , 20 Mississippi, segregation as official policy of, 47-49 Missouri, 191 Mobil Oil, 133, 258 Monroe, James, 1 4 7 - 4 8 Moore, Frazier, 273 Moore, Michael, 328 Moore, Thomas, 358 Moral Majority, 375 Mote, Sir Thomas, 86 Morgan, J. P., 242 Morgenstern, Oskar, 25 Morris, Gouverneur, 176 Morris, Willie, 4 0 - 4 1 Morse, Wayne, 160 Moss, John, 3 0 0 - 3 0 1 Moyers, Bill childhood of, 34, 41, 123, 1 2 9 - 3 0 , 133, 136, 158, 3 3 3 - 3 4 , 358, 3 6 3 - 6 4 journalism career of, 157, 158, 2 6 2 - 6 3 , 308, 3 3 3 - 3 4 , 3 3 6 - 4 1 , 344; see also specific programs political backlash against, 2 6 5 - 6 6 , 273-83,284, 309-11,337-39 political career of, 1 1 - 1 2 , 23, 29, 30, 46, 59, 63, 113, 1 1 4 - 1 5 , 153, 158, 2 6 1 - 6 2 , 270, 271, 300, 3 3 4 - 3 5 , 336, 382; see also Peace Corps Moyers, Judith, 29, 81, 83, 85, 116, 143, 222, 263, 290 Moyers, Mr. (father), 11-12, 136, 1 6 5 - 6 6 , 253 Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (film), 125 multiculturalism, 132 Municipal Fair Employment Practices Commission, 37 Murdoch, Rupert, 6 3 - 6 4 , 3 1 3 - 1 4 , 339, 345-46

INDEX

Murkowski, Frank, 2 1 1 - 1 2 Murrow, Edward R., 4, 253, 257, 260 Museum of the Presidio, 2 1 3 - 1 4 , 2 4 8 - 4 9 Nanook of the North (film), 254 Napolitano, Janet, 217 National Academy of Sciences, 337, 338 National Academy of Television, 3 3 9 National Association for the Advancement of Colored People ( N A A C P ) , 140 National Guard, U.S., 75 National Legislative Education Foundation, 157 National Public Affairs Center for Television, 278 National Public Radio (NPR), 280, 318, 342 national security, 2 3 0 - 3 1 , 320 National Security Archive, 2 9 9 - 3 0 0 , 304, 306 Natural Resources Defense Council, 231 Nelson-Pallmeyer, Jack, 365, 366 Net at Risk, The (PBS special), 239 Neuberger, Richard, 31 "New Age" (Brecht), 128 New Freedom, The (Wilson), 82, 92 New Jersey, 216 Newman, Katherine, 12 New Mexico, 216 news and media alternative outlets for, 3 1 7 - 1 8 , 3 2 3 - 2 4 , 328 Bush administration manipulation of, 193-94, 3 0 5 - 6 , 320 consolidation and mergers of, 272, 3 1 3 - 1 4 , 3 1 7 - 1 8 , 319, 3 2 4 - 2 6 , 345 and conversation in democracy, 8 9 - 9 0 in definition of "public," 89 economic pressures on, 308, 318, 324, 327, 3 4 1 - 4 2 Iraq War in, 6 3 - 6 4 , 90, 2 6 8 - 6 9 , 3 0 5 - 6 , 314, 3 2 0 - 2 1 , 331, 332, 3 3 9 - 4 0 mediocrity of, 332 "missing class" overlooked by, 13 ownership of, 5 - 6 , 199, 228, 243, 272, 313-14, 317-18, 324-25, 344-45 political pressure on, 265, 266, 2 6 8 - 6 9 , 300, 304, 3 0 5 - 6 , 308, 312, 318, 320, 3 2 1 - 2 3 , 345 public opinion shaped by, 3 1 8 - 1 9 , 3 2 1 - 2 3 , 332, 339

INDEX

public poorly served by, 1 0 8 - 9 , 181, 243, 268, 332 traditional outlets for, 5, 3 1 9 - 2 0 , 3 2 3 , 324 as transcript of spin, 267, 2 6 9 , 3 1 1 , 3 1 8 - 1 9 transformed by advertising, 324, 327 Vietnam in, 3 0 3 - 4 See also independent press; journalism, journalists; specific outlets Newsday, 308, 335 newspapers, as news outlets, 3 1 9 - 2 0 , 323, 340, 347 Newton, Isaac, 125 New York, N.Y., 1 9 1 , 2 3 8 , 282 New York Public Library, 86 New York Times, 14, 123, 151, 170, 181, 210, 226, 2 3 7 - 3 8 , 279, 303, 332, 340 9/11 profiles in, 2 2 3 - 2 5 Nicholas II, Czar, 258 Nichols, John, 315 Nickles, Don, 245 Niebuhr, Gustav, 3 5 5 Niebuhr, Reinhold, 126, 3 7 6 1984 (Orwell), 127, 269 Nixon, Richard, 35, 50, 169, 240, 2 7 7 - 7 8 , 286, 306 Noah, Timothy, 203 Nobel Prize, 124 No Child Left Behind, 305 Norquist, Grover, 200, 206, 207, 210, 225 Norris, Kathleen, 3 6 0 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), 232, 310 North Carolina, 191, 216 Northern Mariana Islands, 2 1 0 - 1 2 , 2 1 3 - 1 4 Norton, Gale, 207 Norway (ship), 149 NOW with Bill Moyers (TV series), 2 6 5 - 6 6 , 267, 2 7 0 - 7 7 , 282 conservatives' campaign against, 2 6 5 - 6 6 , 273-83 C P B monitoring of, 2 7 9 - 8 0 mandate of, 2 7 1 - 7 2 , 309 political backlash against, 273, 2 7 4 - 7 5 , 309-11 support and reviews for, 273, 2 8 2 - 8 3 topics covered by, 272, 2 7 3 - 7 4 , 297, 309 viewpoints presented on, 273 Nussbaum, Martha, 86 O'Connor, Bull, 129 O'Faolain, Julia, 142

|

399

Office of Education, U.S., 262 Ohio, 3 7 1 - 7 2 oil, price of, 314, 373 oil dependence, 231, 3 8 0 Oklahoma City bombing, 357 Once to Every Man (Coffin), 55 On Earth (magazine}, 291 O'Neill, Paul, 226 OpenTheGovernment.org, 3 0 4 - 5 opium, 148 opportunity, equality of for education, 9 7 - 1 0 1 freedom as path to, 196 at heart of U.S., 196 as ideal of LBJ, 9 7 - 9 8 , 99, 1 0 0 - 1 0 1 , 104, 111, 154 O'Reilly, Bill, 281 O'Reilly Factor, The (TV program), 281 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 238 O'Rourke, P. J . , 205 Orwell, George, 109, 127, 269 Oswald, Lee Harvey, 384 outsourcing, 240 Owen, Wilfred,-62, 63 Pagels, Elaine, 356 Paine, Thomas, 247, 316 Paley, Bill, 262 Parchman prison, 48 Parker, Theodore, 22 Parkman, Francis, 125 Parsley, Rod, 3 7 1 - 7 2 partisanship, 24, 27, 157, 158, 1 5 9 - 6 0 , 198,311 patriotism dissent and, 7 7 - 7 8 , 7 9 - 8 0 , 230, 277, 384 meaning and symbols of, 7 8 - 7 9 , 276 nationalism and, 2 6 - 2 7 new imperative of, 2 6 - 2 7 as smoke screen, 57, 226, 229, 230 of warriors, 26 Patriot Pastors, 371, 372 "Patriot's Dream" (Guthrie), 2 Paul, Ron, 271 Peace Corps, 2, 2 3 - 3 3 , 54, 384 early ideas for, 3 1 - 3 2 , 35 Moyers as organizer for, 23, 27, 32, 3 5 - 3 9 , 54, 158, 334 volunteers for, 32, 33

400

|

Peace Corps Task Force, 35 Pearl Harbor, 221, 233 Pei, I. M., 143 Pell Grant, 101 Penn, William, 357 Penrose, Boies, 204 Peretz, I. L, 384 Perez, Emily, 64 Peterson, Pete, 2 4 0 Petrelis, Michael, 307 Pew Research Center, 3 3 1 - 3 2 pharmaceutical industry, 179, 187, 188, 199, 202, 2 0 3 - 4 Philippines, 7 3 - 7 4 Phillips, Kevin, 1 6 0 - 6 1 , 162 Piercy, Marge, 3 2 9 - 3 0 Pitt, William (the Younget), 36 Plato, 172 Plutarch, 19 poets, on war, 6 2 , 63 Point Four Youth Corps, 31 Poland, Solidarity movement in, 69 Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, 68 political action committees (PACs), 221, 337 political correctness, history and, 1 3 2 - 3 3 , 135 political fund-raising, 1 4 4 - 4 5 , 1 7 9 - 8 0 , 184, 185, 186-87, 197, 227, 2 4 4 - 4 5 , 269, 272, 275, 3 3 7 - 3 9 , 373 See also campaign finance reform political scapegoating, 150, 1 5 1 - 5 2 political system, U.S. apathy toward, 1 8 0 - 8 1 democracy's role in, 1 8 0 - 8 2 in Gilded Age, 204, 295, 296 ideological warfare in, 16-17 at local vs. national levels, 2 military budget as untouchable in, 74-75 money as engine of, 145, 178, 180, 199, 212-13,221,288,321-22 priority gap between majority vs. elite in, 1 5 - 1 6 , 20, 101, 163-64, 190, 196, 227, 288 public distrust in, 1-2, 163, 177, 180, 227 public service of; see public sector services role in community of, 168 to serve public welfare, 3, 4, 5, 15, 19, 20 in service of elite, 2, 3 - 4 , 1 1 - 1 2 , 18, 1 7 7 - 7 8 , 186, 193-97

INDEX

See also Congress, U.S.; democracy; special interests; specific elections and parties Politics of Rich and Poor, The (Phillips), 1 6 0 - 6 1 , 162 popular culture, racism in, 40 Portland, Oreg., 216 Potok, Chaim, 2 7 - 2 8 poverty, 16, 161, 235, 3 1 6 , 373, 381 See also economic inequality Powell, Colin, 91 Powell, Michael, 3 2 4 - 2 5 Power of Myth, The (Campbell), 5 7 - 5 8 Power of the Past, The (documentary), 84 Power of the Word (TV series), 84 Powers, John, 2 1 - 2 2 Presidential Records Act, 306 Priestly, J. R., 90 prison population, 162 Programme for International Student Assessment, 238 progressives, political agenda of, 1 3 - 1 4 , 19-20 Project in Excellence, 3 2 7 - 2 8 Promise, The (Potok), 2 7 - 2 8 propaganda, 134, 269 from Bush administration, 3 0 5 - 6 documentaries as, 254 in World War II, 1 2 4 - 2 5 , 254 public assembled by news, 8 9 - 9 0 definition of, 89 inequality tolerated by, 110, 247 sense of community among, 163, 225, 226 in the U.S.; see United States Public Broadcasting Act of 1967, 2 7 0 - 7 1 , 273 Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) Congressional hearings on, 84, 8 5 - 8 7 conservatives campaign against, 2 6 5 - 6 6 , 273-83 environmental programming on, 232 federal funding of, 275, 328, 3 3 8 - 3 9 Moyers's programming on; see specific programs political backlash against, 2 6 5 - 6 6 , 273-76,283, 309-12, 337-39 public support for, 278, 280, 282 skepticism over need for, 84, 85 Public Campaign, 217

INDEX

|

401

public intellectuals, 9 0 - 9 2 , 270

Reuss, Henry, 31

public sector services, dismantling of, 15, 101, 2 3 9 - 4 0 , 244, 317 public television, 2 7 7 - 7 8 alternative viewpoints on, 270, 318 creation and early days of, 262, 263, 270-71

Revenge of Gaia, The (Lovelock), 381 Reyes, Carol Ann, 14, 19 Reyes, Maritza, 245 Riefenstahl, Leni, 254 Riverside Church, 53, 54, 55 Roberts, Oran M., 130 Robertson, Pat, 206, 208, 369, 374 Rockefeller Brothers Fund, 241 Rogers, Jim, 333 Rohatyn, Felix, 182 Rohypnol, 179

See also Public Broadcasting Service Puttnam, David, 86 Pyle, Ernie, 332 Qaddafi, Muammar al-, 231 Rabb, Mary, 1 3 8 - 3 9 Rabin, Yitzhak, 356 racism, racial inequality, 32, 40, 145-47, 148-49,162 in education, 39, 98, 99, 162, 172, 237 in health care, 39 in prison population, 162 and standard of living, 40 study on attitudes toward, 4 1 - 4 2 Radicalism of the American Revolution (Woods), 5 Radio Free Europe, 3 1 1 - 3 1 2 Ralston, Susan, 212 Randolph, Edmund, 176 Reagan, Ronald, 17, 101, 182, 189, 195, 244, 245 Reddick, Dewitt, 333 Reed, Ralph, 206, 2 0 7 - 8 , 212, 362 Reeves, Richard, 3 4 0 Reich, Robert, 166 religion(s) common ground among, 359 community created by, 164 freedom of, 3 6 3 - 6 4 healing side of, 357 politics' intersection with, 164 violent side of, 3 5 6 - 5 7 , 363, 3 6 5 , 366, 367-69 Religion in American Life, 354 religious landscape, in U.S., 3 5 3 - 5 6 , 357-58 religious Right, 275, 369, 372, 373 See also conservatives Republican Party, 179, 182, 316 Congress controlled by, 13, 105, 198, 199-203, 274,315 ideology of, 159 See also conservatives

Roosevelt, Franklin D., 4, 1 1 - 1 2 , 19, 125, 1 3 6 , 1 5 8 , 1 7 4 , 214, 254 Roosevelt, Theodore, 4, 19, 110, 171, 214, 218, 2 8 8 , 3 1 6 , 3 1 7 Rose, Mike, 8 6 - 8 7 Rove, Karl, 95, 194, 206, 207, 212, 265, 279, 3 0 9 , 3 1 1 Rubin, Robert, 182 Rumsfeld, Donald, 303, 306 Ruppe, Lorette, 24 Rushdie, Salman, 3 5 8 - 5 9 Russia, 68, 2 0 9 - 1 0 Sallie Mae, 106-7 Saratoga, Battle of, 67 savings and loan crisis, 13 Sawhill, Isabel, 104 Scalia, Antonin, 306, 307 Scanlon, Michael, 207 Schechter, Danny, 3 2 6 Scheffold, Fred, 2 2 4 - 2 5 Schiavo, Terri, 292 Schlafly, Phyllis, 208 Schmidt, Susan, 208 Schorske, Carl, 126 Schudson, Michael, 319 Schumer, Charles, 362 Schwarz, John E., 1 8 - 1 9 Schwartzman, Andy, 327 Schweitzer, Albert, 32 Scully, Thomas, 204 Sedition A c t of 1789, 320 See It Now ( T V program), 2 6 0 segregation, 34, 39, 4 0 - 4 4 , 45, 4 6 - 5 0 , 98, 103, 117, 118, 159 See also racism, racial inequality Sellars, Peter, 86 Selma, Ala., 34 Senate, U.S., 3 5 - 3 6 , 182, 261, 262

402

|

September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks as defining moment, 221 heroism after, 3 6 5 - 6 6 Moyers family in aftermath of, 222 political exploitation of, 219, 2 2 0 - 2 1 , 2 2 7 - 3 0 , 362 public rallied by, 225 religious Right and, 3 6 9 spiritual and moral challenge of, 2 3 3 - 3 4 terrorists intent and, 2 2 1 - 2 2 , 3 5 6 - 5 7 , 365 victims of, 2 2 3 - 2 5 , 232, 233 Sevareid, Eric, 342 Shaw, George Bernard, 237, 256 Sheridan, Philip, 1 3 0 - 3 1 Sherman, Max, 170 Sherman, William T., 63, 73 Shetterly, Robert, 56 Shiite Muslims, 3 5 6 Shinseki, Eric K., 79 Shriver, Sargent, 23, 24, 27 Shuford, Cecil, 333 Sierra Club, 229, 292, 3 0 6 - 7 Silent Spring (Carson), 286 Siler, Lori, 106 Silverstein, Ken, 308 Simon, David, 347 Simon, William, 244 Sinclair, Upton, 296 Six Great Ideas (TV series), 8 8 - 8 9 Smalley, Freeman, 1 3 9 - 4 0 Smith, Huston, 357 Smith, Nick, 203 Smith, R. Jeffrey, 208, 209 Snowe, Olympia, 326 social contract, 21 economy of, 3 1 6 - 1 7 retreat from, 2 3 8 - 4 1 shredded by elite, 15, 1 8 9 - 9 0 , 198 See also public service sector social decline, 2 4 0 - 4 1 social mobility, 243, 317 education as path to, 103, 1 0 4 - 5 stalling of, 108, 242 Social Security, 20, 162, 240, 316, 3 3 3 - 3 4 Socrates, 9 0 - 9 1 , 92, 172 Solomon, Norman, 3 0 3 - 4 Solow, Robert, 244 Sorrow and the Pity, The (film), 258 South, racism and segregation in, 34, 39, 4 0 - 4 4 , 45, 4 6 - 5 0 , 98, 103, 117-18, 129, 140, 1 7 1 - 7 2 , 2 7 0 , 3 1 5 , 321

INDEX

Southwest Texas State University, 100 Spanish Civil War, 258 Spargo, John, 295 special interests, 1 7 8 - 8 0 , 1 8 2 - 8 5 , 197, 207 democracy diminished by, 180, 192, 205 expansion under Bush administration, 197-98, 228-29 public as victims of, 1 8 5 - 8 6 , 1 8 7 - 9 0 , 213-14, 309 Sprigle, Ray, 40 Starr, Paul, 18, 19 Starting with the People (Yankelovich and Harman), 163 State Department, U.S., 258, 3 1 1 - 1 2 State Sovereignty Commission, 4 7 - 4 9 Steckman, William, 224 Steffens, Lincoln, 295 Steinbeck, John, 283 stocks, stock market, 3, 110, 160, 2 1 9 , 243 Strauss, Leo, 89 student loans, 105, 106 subsidies; see special interests Sufi Muslims, 359 Sunni Muslims, 3 5 6 Superfund, 287 Supreme Court, U.S., 152, 307 Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation, 233 Sutton, Willie, 199 Swift, Jonathan, 363 Tales of a New America (Reich), 166 Talmadge, Gene, 43 Tamaqua, Penn., 3 0 9 - 1 0 Tamraz, Roger, 182, 186 Taplin, Frank E., Jr., 83 taxes, taxation, 93, 228 on corporations, 184 economic inequality and, 4, 105, 162, 179, 2 4 5 - 4 7 , 373 and offshore shelters, 199, 209, 2 2 5 - 2 6 , 2 4 6 - 4 7 , 272 progressive, 20, 93 Teague, Diamond, 2 9 7 - 9 8 Teitel, Nathan, 1 2 6 - 2 7 telecom industry, 1 8 7 - 8 8 , 199, 3 1 5 - 1 6 , 325-26, 344-45 Telecommunications A c t of 1996, 1 8 7 - 8 8 , 315, 347 television, as news outlet, 3 1 9 - 2 0 , 3 2 4 Teradyne, 220

INDEX

term limits, 174 terrorism, terrorists, 78, 2 2 1 - 2 2 , 2 2 5 - 2 6 , 3 5 6 - 5 7 , 365 Terry, Randall, 362 Texas, 130-31, 133-35, 136, 138-41, 307-8 Texas, University of, 9 4 - 9 5 Texas History Movies (cartoon accounts), 1 3 3 - 3 5 , 1 3 6 , 138, 141 Texas State Historical Association, 129, 130, 137 There's Nothing in the Middle of the Road but Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos (Hightower), 189 "30-year Anniversary: Tonkin Gulf Lie Launched Vietnam War" (Cohen and Solomon), 303 Thompson, Fred, 182 Thompson, Paul, 3 3 3 Thoreau, Henry David, 31 three-fifths compromise, 42, 176 Thurmond, Strom, 45 Time for Truth, A (Simon), 244 Titicut Follies (film), 258 tobacco industry, 184, 202, 215 Tomlinson, Kenneth, 267, 2 7 8 - 8 1 , 283, 300, 3 0 9 - 1 2 TomPaine.com, 231 trade agreements, 232, 240, 310, 322 Trade Secrets (TV special), 232, 3 3 8 - 3 9 , 341 Travis, William B., 133 Triumph of the Will (film), 254 Truman, Harry, 37, 38, 45, 76 Tsakopoulos, Angelo K., 1 8 2 - 8 3 Tucher, Andie, 131 Tuchman, Barbara, 141 Twain, Mark, 125, 153, 3 4 4 "Uncensored War, The" (Hallin), 303 Union Theological Seminary, 376 United Nations, 91, 159, 160, 210 United States crumbling infrastructure of, 2 3 9 - 4 0 , 241, 380 as defined by conscience, 160 distrust in political system, 1-2, 159, 163, 177, 180, 205, 227, 248 lack of historical continuity in, 127 as land of expectations, 97—98 oil dependence of, 231, 380

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403

priority gap between elite and public in 1 5 - 1 6 , 20, 101, 163-64, 190, 196, 227, 288 public memory failures of, 124, 127, 128 public trust in democracy in, 1-2 religious landscape of, 3 5 3 - 5 6 , 3 5 7 - 5 8 as technology leader, 2 3 9 tolerance as ideal of, 3 5 5 - 5 6 true story of, 1 6 4 - 6 5 , 2 3 5 - 3 6 , 2 4 8 - 4 9 , 324 United States Employment Service, 99 United States Information Agency (USIA), 2 8 0 - 8 1 Unocal, 1 8 4 - 8 5 U.S. Family Network, 2 0 9 - 1 0 , 212 Vanocur, Sander, 2 7 7 - 7 8 Ventura, Michael, 3 2 - 3 3 Vermont, 191, 216 Vertov, Dziga, 254 Veteran's Administration, U.S., 77 Vietnam War, 26, 54, 59, 63, 66, 75, 79, 91, 116, 159, 227, 258, 261, 262, 270, 301-1,321,328 Voice of America, 280, 3 1 1 - 1 2 voting rights, 42—43 See also civil rights Voting Rights Act of 1965, 34, 101, 173, 307-8 Vrooman, Robert, 145 wages, 4, 15, 101, 107, 179, 190, 237 Wagner, Mathilde, 139 Walk Through the Twentieth Century, A, (TV series), 1 2 4 - 2 5 , 131 Wall, Cynthia Chavez, 1 8 8 - 9 0 Wallace, George, 103 Walls of Jericho (Mann), 49 Wall Street Journal, 1 0 2 - 3 , 106, 159, 161, 177-78, 2 7 9 , 3 1 0 , 3 1 1 , 3 1 3 - 1 4 , 345-46 war freedom defended and won by, 57, 65, 69, 72 poets on, 6 2 - 6 3 realities of, 6 1 - 6 3 religious motives for, 3 5 6 social decline and, 240 Tolstoy on, 26 U.S. declarations of, 6 5 - 6 6 , 70, 76 "war on terror," counterterrorism vs., 78

404

Warren, Elizabeth, 106 war veterans, 42, 46, 75, 77, 99 War Within, The (Wells), 3 0 3 - 4 Washington, 102, 191 Washington, George, 26, 67, 148 Washington Post, 31, 145, 198, 208, 209, 303, 321, 338 Wasserman, Ed, 347 Watergate, 169, 227, 269, 278, 306 Watson, Harlan, 285 wealth education linked to, 1 0 3 - 4 upward distribution of, 196, 3 1 6 - 1 7 veneration of, 3 - 4 , 1 1 - 1 2 , 19, 57, 241-42 Weisberger, Bernard, 125 Weisskopf, Michael, 201 Wells, Tom, 303 Westmoreland, William C, 26 West Point, 2, 60, 64, 66, 67, 69, 71, 72-73,79 Whitefield, George, 173 White House Office of Environmental Policy, 287 Who Will Tell the People? (Greider), 190

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INDEX

Why We Fight movie series, 254 Wick, Charlie, 2 8 0 Wiggins, James Russell, 3 0 0 - 3 0 1 , 356 Wilcocks, Benjamin, 148 Wildlife Service, U.S., 183 Williams, Armstrong, 305 Williams, Roger, 364 Wilson, Charles, 3 6 0 - 6 1 Wilson, Dooley, 40 Wilson, Woodrow, 8 1 - 8 2 , 9 2 - 9 3 , 1 1 0 - 1 1 , 174 Wing, Yung, 153 Winship, Michael, 332, 342 Wisdom of Faith, The (TV series), 357 Wiseman, Frederick, 258 Woods, Gordon S., 5 World Christian Encyclopedia, 355 World of Ideas (TV series), 84 World Policy Journal, 268 World War I, 6 3 , 7 4 , 127 World War II, 5 4 - 5 5 , 6 1 - 6 2 , 99, 1 2 4 - 2 5 , 126, 210, 225, 244, 254, 258 Yale University, 104, 152 Yankelovich, Daniel, 15, 163