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"Freeing yourself was one thing; claiming ownership of that freed self was another." author Toni Morrison (1931- 05.08.2019)

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"Make your story count". Michelle Obama

"Social pain is understood through the lens of racial animus". Researcher/author Sean McElwee writing in Salon, 2016

"We are citizens, not subjects. We have the right to criticize government without fear."  Chelsea Manning; activist/whisleblower

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“We have a system of justice in this country that treats you much better if you're rich and guilty than if you're poor and innocent”. from civil rights attorney Bryan Stevenson

“This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony. Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak today?” Frederick Douglass, WHAT TO THE SLAVE IS 4TH JULY? 07.05.1852 (full text in blog)

Senator Elizabeth Warren "We're a country that is built on our differences; that is our strength, not our weakness"

 

"We are more alike than we are different"v  Maya Angelou

As a Black writer, I was expected to accept the role of victim. That made it difficult in the beginning to be a writer.      James Baldwin

I often feel that there must have been something that I should’ve done that I didn’t do. But I can’t identify what it is that I didn’t do. That’s the first difficulty. And the second is, what makes you think you’re it?   

         Harry Belafonte, activist and singer at 89

 

It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble; It's what you know for sure that just ainst so.

Mark Twain

 

You can't be brave if you've only had wonderful things happen to you.

Mary Tyler Moore

 

 You can’t defend Christianity by being against refugees and other religions

Pope Francis:

 

"I don't have to be what you want me to be". Muhammad Ali

"The Secret of Living Well and Longer: eat half, walk double, laugh triple, and love without measure"  attributed to Tibetan sources

Recent audio posts include interviews with Rumi interpreter Shahram Shiva, London-based author Aamer Hussein, South African Muslim scholar, professor Farid Esack, and Iraqi journalist Nermeen Al-Mufti's brief account of Kirkuk City history. Your comments on our blogs are always welcome.

 

Geraldo Rivera, my favorite talk-radio host: where are you?

2016-01-21

by Barbara Nimri Aziz

When he initially disappeared from the airwaves I thought my favorite talk-radio host had taken family leave following his daughter’s traumatic experience in Paris during the November attacks there. By end December however Rivera hadn’t returned to his nationally syndicated slot on WABC Radio. His was the sole show I tuned to on that notorious, conservative media outlet. WABC Radio, broadcasting across the country from New York, is often scary. It permits hosts to utter shamefully venomous comments, sometimes bordering on illegal, on the airwaves.

I can never discuss with my friends what I hear on WABC; not only do they reject the network for what they find fascist and hateful; they assume that if I myself tune in, I’ve eschewed our shared progressive values. A wall rises between us. Admitting I listen to WABC is like confessing that I occasionally consume a McDonalds double cheeseburger; I’m thereby supporting global warming and contributing to America’s obesity epidemic.

Why do I tune to the station? Because I want to experience firsthand how those putative right-wingers talk; I want to the hear what Americans who I normally never meet—you know: those obese illiterates who carry guns and drink gallons of beer—say about issues being debated here. To me, both as an anthropologist and as a journalist, everybody counts. Shouldn’t I hear them directly rather than as objects of satire on “The Daily Show”?

 It was out of this compulsion that in 2012 I became a regular morning listener to Geraldo Rivera’s show. Promoted as “not red (left), not blue (right) but red-white- and-blue”, Rivera tries to tread a middle road. More to the point, he attracts listeners from across our social and economic spectrum—positions less heard in our increasingly polarized society. Geraldo always, always listens to his callers, even when they’re far right of him politically. And unlike many others on this network (and Fox TV), Rivera’s guests represent a wide range of positions. I first heard Donald Trump on his show (I don’t recall what they discussed); my colleague, comedian and commentator Dean Obeidallah was a regular on Geraldo too.  

In contrast to other voices on WABC (and Fox TV), Rivera is an advocate for immigrant rights. Not only because of his Hispanic heritage through his Puerto Rican father; he reminds us that like most newcomers here, immigrants are hard working, they’re needed, and they’re --we are-- the history of this country. While he’s pro-military and veterans’ rights—who cannot be in today’s fierce nationalist atmosphere?-- Rivera isn’t an advocate for military intervention in countries whose policies don’t conform to US dictate.

Another three weeks pass absent Geraldo’s voice on my radio; I decide to Google him. (I’ll follow him to his new network, I optimistically think.) And I learn that he’s been fired! How did this happen? In an FB posting Rivera details his termination by WABC referring to a shakeup in network management. He doesn’t explicitly say WABC has a new editorial policy that won’t accommodate his liberalism. But I wonder if, in this election year when the ‘right’ and ‘far-right’ are battling for big stakes, Rivera might have become a liability-- out of step with Republican and Tea Party agendas. (Contrary to the power attributed to American television, radio talk shows are highly influential, e.g. Limbaugh and Beck who’ve made conservative talk-radio a national political movement.) Thus, right wing media bosses may demand that everyone march to their tune; so Rivera, known as a ‘loose cannon’, is jettisoned.

His personal life and his reputation for sensationalist encounters aside, Rivera is a media specialist who fused law and journalism to raise American journalistic standards. He arrived on the scene in 1970 with a television expose on the abuse of intellectually disabled patients in Willowbrook, a New York care center. He was the attorney for the nationalist Puerto Rican ‘Young Lords’, and before that an investigator for NYPD. He’s variously described as an attorney, author, TV personality and reporter. He’s a first class journalist too.

Details of his eclectic career are easily available, so find out what makes this bombastic fellow tick and why we need him in that lonely middle ground of US politics. 

What's your experience with Geraldo Rivera? Comments welcome

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