Cutting School

September 30, 2017
Here’s another book for teachers, educators, and anyone who wants to better understand the role of schools in the perpetuation of structural racism: CUTTING SCHOOL
Privatization, Segregation, and the End of Public Education by Noliwe Rooks (The New Press 2017).
 
Cutting School dives into a contradiction at the root of the school struggles troubling society today: the abiding and courageous press of Black parents for a full and decent education for their children as a pathway to authentic citizenship and real equality, and the relentless grasp of private interests and profiteers to get their hands on the largest possible share of the billions of dollars invested in public education.
A fundamental question haunts every page: Is education a public good or a private enterprise, a product to be sold at the marketplace like a hammer or a laptop, or a universal human right, a commodity or an entitlement each person secures at birth?
Noliwe Rooks stares the question down, and follows up: Will America ever decide to educate the children of formerly enslaved people (or for that matter the children of First Nations peoples or the children of immigrants from poor nations) or will it find new and deceptive ways to cling to its shameful tradition of apartheid schooling?
With this smart book and wise intervention Noliwe Rooks will change the way you understand the challenges and possibilities ahead.
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An American Colony

September 28, 2017
Puerto Rico has the status of a US colony, a predatory, exploitative relationship. In the current crisis that relationship is exposed, and one example is the use of the Jones Act.
I just signed the petition, “Department of Homeland Security: Waive the Jones Act for ALL Cargo at Ports in Puerto Rico to Aid Hurricane Maria Relief.” Please sign it too.
Here’s the link:

What Are We Going to Learn Today?

September 27, 2017

I just finished reading “What Are We Going to Learn Today? How All Children Can Become Enthusiastic Lifelong Learners” by Anne Cummings Jacopetti. Get a copy; read it; pass it on to teachers, parents, students, community members, and anyone interested in what schools and classrooms could be (and should be) at their best, as well as the challenges we face as we continue the struggle to create meaningful educational experiences for all children and youth.

“What Are We Going to Learn Today?” is an illuminating read, filled with hard-won wisdom from a lifetime of teaching. Jacopetti writes beautifully, and her stories are packed with wisdom about the power of dialogue and questioning, curiosity and first-hand experiences in teaching and authentic learning. She urges us to release our wildest imaginations as we nurture a tolerance for improvisation, confusion, experimentation, perpetual uncertainty, reciprocity, spontaneity, uniqueness, and flux.

And she helps us understand the terms of resistance: education for free people is powered, after all, by a particularly precious and fragile ideal: every human being is of infinite and incalculable value, each a work in progress and a force in motion, each a unique intellectual, emotional, physical, spiritual, moral, and creative force, each born equal in dignity and rights, each endowed with reason and conscience and agency, each deserving recognition and respect, and a dedicated place in a community of solidarity. We resist anything that dehumanizes or thingifies human beings, all the mechanisms to indoctrinate, inspect, rank, appraise, censure, order about, register, sort, admonish, and sermonize. And we recognize, further, that the fullest development of each individual—given the tremendous range of ability and the delicious stew of race, ethnicity, points of origin, and background—is the necessary condition for the full development of the entire community, and, conversely, that the fullest development of all is essential for the full development of each.

Jacopetti gets it: learning is an entirely natural human pursuit, and we are learning all the time. Curiosity is inherent, living in a wildly complex and diverse human community is all the motivation we need to keep growing and learning.

Wherever and whenever questioning, researching, reimagining, rebuilding, pursuing authentic questions and interests and experiences, and undertaking active work in the community is the order of the day, a spirit of open communication, interchange, and analysis becomes commonplace as an expression of love. In these places there is a certain natural disorder, some anarchy and chaos, as there is in any busy workshop. But there is also a sense of joy, and a deeper discipline at work, the discipline of getting things done and learning with one another and through life. We see clearly in these cases that education at its best is always generative, for teachers and students alike.


Imperial Dreams/ Human Nightmares

September 22, 2017

The notorious CIA heavy, Edward Lansdale, spoke clearly and honestly in regard to the US war against Vietnam “There is only one means of defeating an insurgent people who will not surrender, and that is extermination. There is only one way to control a territory that harbours resistance, and that is to turn it into a desert.” This is the guiding principle of US policy to this day.


Santa Fe

September 22, 2017

https://www.abqjournal.com/1067393/radical-activists-to-discuss-next-steps-of-resistance-ex-former-weather-underground-members-to-join-sfais-equal-justice-residents-on-panel.html


Brother/Comrade Rick Ayers

September 20, 2017

Minor commentary on Ken Burns/Lynn Novick documentary, “Vietnam War.”

Episode two (Riding the Tiger, 1961-63):

My first thought: Yes, please do watch this series; it is totally worth watching it. I don’t know why so many people on FB declare their criticism of a piece by saying they won’t watch something. Check it out, especially if you are younger than 70. There is much for you to learn. And there is plenty to criticize. For this episode, I watched on line so I could include “explicit language.”

Great music. #2 starts with “So What?” by Miles Davis

The whole series is suffused with a feeling of white innocence, white privilege not only in the framing of the story but just in the way the script is written. It is really a missed opportunity. It was a white man’s war fought by thousands of Black and Brown conscripts against Asian peasants. And yes many white youth were drafted too, which proved fatal to the war plan – too many were getting beaten down. But all of these brutal realities are softened. So many white talking heads in the interviews. Even the guy who describes the power of the Black freedom movement in the early 60’s – it’s a white guy.

They now frame Le Duan as the bad guy, the counter to a more avuncular Uncle Ho. Perhaps in time Ho Chi Minh will be defanged in American mythology the way they tried to turn Martin Luther King into a harmless man with a dream – instead of the revolutionary activist he was. As for Le Duan, read his work.

The key to the US defeat was of course people’s war – a combination of broad organizing and guerrilla resistance. This approach has been used to eject invaders since forever (viz. American revolution). The invader is dogged day and night, small ambushes, hit-and-run. They find themselves walled up in safe fortifications, unable to move. The US and its Saigon allies responded with “search and destroy” missions which were utter failures. Then they implemented “Strategic Hamlets” (villages caged in by barbed wire) Burns/Novick describe as a ineffective but not what they really were: prison camps. The British tried this first, in Malaya, always to rob the guerrillas of their base, to dry up the sea that the fish swim in. But it is a genocidal, hateful policy that is self defeating as it creates more enemies.

The story of Ap Bac is itself reason to watch Episode 2. This 1963 battle was a moment when the National Liberation Front (NLF) forces switched tactics, fighting a pitched battle at a location and time of their own choosing. It was a defeat for the Americans and South Vietnamese Army (ARVN) and it’s something to understand. Quite a bit of footage brings you close to this moment – including yes interviews with NLF cadre.

Another typical theme of the western point of view is emerging: the incompetence of our puppet forces. Those darn ARVN troops, they wouldn’t fight. They were cowardly, corrupt. This is such a racist perspective. “What’s wrong with them?” lament the invading Germans about the Vichy French (collaborationist) forces. “They don’t fight well, even when we tell them where to attack.” It’s an old story. Those darn Iraqi army forces, those darn Afghans. We send advisers, trainers. They just don’t know how to fight. They are corrupt. Why do the enemy, those who reject the blessings we are bringing to them, fight so well, so heroically? You will find ARVN-blaming throughout this series. So that’s the formula: well-intentioned Americans (“we had to kill the Vietnamese to save them”), cunning evil guerrillas, and corrupt, incompetent friends of the Americans. Expect to hear that version for the next 8 episodes.


Burns/Novick

September 20, 2017
I’m starting to watch the Burns/Novick documentary on PBS. I am visiting my sister and brother-in-law in Spokane, Washington, both of whom have health problems. I want to focus on them more, but they wanted to watch the second episode last night. I have read several articles about the PBS series, along with what people are posting on Full Disclosure. I am sure I am no different than most people. I have been somewhat hesitant to watch the Burns film, because I am away from my friends and support group back in Portland, Oregon. When I came back from Vietnam, I was eventually hospitalized in a psychiatric facility for PTSD, once in 1980, and in 1994 after I came back from my first return to Vietnam with three close friends who were also Vietnam veterans. One of those friends was involved in the Phoenix Program, where he was personally pulling the trigger on assassinations. Another friend in our group was involved in radio intercept. Halfway through his tour in Vietnam, he realized he was giving B-52 pilots coordinates in the bombing of civilian targets. When he realized he was involved in mass murder, he walked into the orderly room on his base, and told his company commander that his tour in Vietnam was officially over. Well, they threatened him with a court martial, and even a firing squad, but he stuck to his guns, and told them to go fuck themselves. He was eventually sent back to the US as a psychiatric case, and wound up on a psyche ward at Madigan Army Hospital. His war was over, and he spent the next twenty years drinking heavily, and packing a pistol. He was basically suffering from the LIE of the Vietnam War, and the dismantling of his core belief system. He absolutely hated the US Government, and called the Pentagon a house of goons. He used profound articulate sarcasm to get through his day, as he referred to the American flag as a Nazi symbol riddled with madness. To this day, he is a person I have the utmost respect for, because he walked into his orderly room in Vietnam, and told people that he could no longer morally commit murder for corporate America. Now, run this voice through the 18-hour Burns documentary on The Vietnam War. This is not complicated, except for people who are still looking for a noble cause for America’s involvement in Vietnam. The LIE is the truth of the Vietnam War. That LIE put me in two psychiatric hospitals, and that is why I dearly love my friend, because he validated me to the core.

Before I went to Vietnam, I spent a year in Denver, Colorado at Fitzsimmons Army Hospital attending an advanced 41 week medic course. Fitzsimmons had a lot of amputees from Vietnam, as they were going through various stages of being severely wounded. I saw a lot of people in wheelchairs during the year that I was there. One experience I had, as we were involved in many medical rotations throughout the hospital, was my two week rotation on the psyche ward. Many soldiers coming back from Vietnam were severely wounded psychologically, and the drug of choice was Thorazine. You could tell soldiers were on heavy doses of Thorazine, because they had the Thorazine shuffle. When soldiers did not respond to drugs ( if they ever would ), they often received shock therapy. As a student, I witnessed one of those high voltage treatments. I remember they brought this young American kid into the room on a gurney and we transferred him to the shock table. He was strapped down to the table, a padded tongue blade was put in his mouth. He was already on a sedative, but the nurses were there to give him as much comfort as they could. Electrodes were attached to his head, and the switched was executed. His body became very rigid, and he convulsed with jerking movements that seemed to elevate him off the table. What I saw in that moment, was the utter LIE of the entire Vietnam War in a nutshell. I wish Ken Burns had a clip of that shock therapy session in his 18-hour epic on The Vietnam War, as it would cut through a lot of bullshit ideological rhetoric. When you get away from emotional intelligence, and the incredible grief and sorrow of the Vietnam Holocaust, you are still discussing whether it was a noble cause. When I saw the end results of a couple of American soldiers commit suicide in Vietnam, and a good Vietnam vet friend hang himself in a motel room twenty years after he got back from Vietnam, I didn’t need anymore proof on weather it was a noble cause of not. I had the blood on my hands to prove it, and the emotional trauma of the LIE for a lifetime.

Mike Hastie
Army Medic Vietnam
September 20, 2017
Full Disclosure

You do not bring the enemy to the peace table by just killing military combatants. You ultimately bring the enemy to the peace table by killing innocent civilians, because they are military targets. The primary goal of the aggressor nation is to break the will of the people, and their ability to defend their homeland. This strategy is as old as warfare itself.

Mike Hastie
Vietnam Veteran

Sent from my iPhone