Letters and Politics, for July 8, 2011 - 10:00am
More from this show: About the Show | Archives of this Show | Playlists from this Show
Summary of Broadcast
• News Headlines (read by Rose Ketabchi)
• Including - Alabama: struggle over new anti-immigrant law, more draconian than Arizona's SB1070
1. Mitch Jeserich vs. Dr. Sylvia Allegretto (Economist, Institute for Labour and Unemployment, UC Berkeley) on new economic report indicating the minuscule job growth in the U.S. economy during the current U.S. Great Recession and global economic calamity, particularly in Greece, Spain, Ireland, etc. and Obama's response.
2. Andy Kroll (Associate Editor, TomDispatch.com and Reporter, Mother Jones magazine; based in Washington D.C.) on his new article ("What We Don't Talk About When We Talk About Jobs: How racism, global economics, and the new Jim Crow fuel Black America's crippling jobs crisis," dated Tue. July 5, 2011 12:20 PM PDT, see http://m.motherjones.com/politics/2011/07/job-crisis-black-unemployment-... ) and the economic effects of racism, as well as the persistently high Black unemployment rate (evidenced in new economic report this month, as Black Congressional Caucus assails Obama: if any other group faced this fact, e.g. White women, there would be Congressional hearings, town hall meetings, etc.)
The Devil's Advocate
Mitch Jeserich really loves to play devil's advocate, to the point of sounding unsympathetic to the very real suffering of the masses. We understand the clinical detachment necessary for certain professions, such as a doctor or even an educator or broadcaster. And we also understand the need to consider an idea or concept from all sides. Yet, we understand the effect upon an audience of sounding indifferent. The radio host is, above all, a storyteller, a guide of collective consciousness around the communal fire of our modern times.
It is a fact our nation faces a deficit of motivation toward everyday civic participation. Clinical detachment or "objectivity" will never help lessen that deficit. We don't expect Letters and Politics to foment the masses. The question remains. Why not? The notion broadcasters speaking honestly equates to telling listeners how to think is baseless.
One may think: well, Mitch Jeserich's perpetual role-playing as devil's advocate allows his guests to argue and support their cases. But often, it sets the starting point for a discussion further back and causes the guest to work her/his way back from the thicket of regressive sophistries hoisted upon her/him.
For example, in conversation with Dr. Sylvia Allegretto, Mitch Jeserich knew very well lowering the minimum wage will not help the impoverished masses. Yet, he began his inquiry from that point instead of framing the question as the absurdity that it is from the start. If workers were paid living wages, of course, their teenagers could spend more time studying and less time working. Imagine Jeserich contributing to the conversation by reminding his audience, for example, that the federal income tax wasn't passed by Congress until the Revenue Act of 1913, instead of entertaining conservative points of view all the time. Mitch Jeserich should listen to Kevin Pena's broadcasts on Flashpoints (as on Friday, 7/8/11) to hear what a more honest approach to broadcast journalism sounds like.
One may be reminded of Frantz Fanon (from Les damnes de la terre [bracketed notes are mine]):
"The nationalist leaders [or those sympathetic to the poor, in today's world] know that international opinion is formed solely by the Western press. Now, when a journalist from the West asks us questions, it is seldom in order to help us. In the Algerian war, for example, even the most liberal of French reporters [in this case all too many KPFA radio hosts] never cease to use ambiguous terms in describing our struggle. When we reproached them for this, they replied in all good faith that they were being objective. For the native [or those sympathetic with the oppressed] objectivity is always directed against him."
Illusions of objectivity predominate news media too often, even at KPFA, just as illusions of objectivity predominate our national jurisprudence. We see this in the reactionary and hollow cries against "activist judges." We know even the most "objective" judge is, alas, a human being and always colours her/his decisions with her/his experiences and behaviour-thought-feeling patterns (BTF patterns). Indeed, it is the will to humanity, which makes the best judges of everyday people and not just a cunning intellect.
But kudos to Dr. Sylvia Allegretto for resisting Mitch Jeserich's will toward "objectivity" and speaking plainly. Not all of us are college educated, yet we all understand the inhumanity of bad government, bad leadership, and bad journalism. And we all deserve to hear plainly where a speaker or journalist is coming from. Nuance is not always the friend of the people. Give me an illiterate champion of the people over a literate intellectual fence-sitter any day of the week.
"Which side are you on, boy? Which side are you, on?" (sang Pete Seeger, sing the people…)
"The [U.S.] people should be out in the streets [protesting regressive U.S. domestic policy]..." affirmed truthfully Dr. Sylvia Allegretto. What sacrilege to the holy grail of "objectivity" it would be for Mitch Jeserich to agree. Jeserich may upset privileged connoisseurs of nuance or show his true colours--yet, how refreshing that would be.
A humble intelligence is not easily insulted.
"Which side are you on, boy? Which side are you, on?"
(64K stereo mp3)
KPFA 94.1 FM (24k mp3)
KPFB 89.3 FM (16k mp3)
Comcast Digital Cable 967
iPhone: Public Radio App
Android: TuneIn Radio App
WebOS: Public Radio App
KPFA Live Stream Channel
Click Here For Help Listening