My name is Miriam Perez and I am writing to thank you for sponsoring me as a Peace Kids Youth Intern. I am currently in 11th grade at Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools SVAH, class of 2020. Upon graduation, I hope to attend a four year university in order to pursue my dream job of becoming a graphic novel illustrator and author. Having this career will allow me to share different thoughts and ideas I have so that hopefully others can learn something from them.Read more
A Victory for Historical Accuracy and the Peace Movement: Not One Emmy for Ken Burns and “The Vietnam War"
Originally published in CounterPunch
Ken Burns, branded as “America’s Storyteller,” was shut out at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards ceremony on Sunday, September 9. (The “primetime,” higher-profile Emmys were awarded later, on September 17.) Burns’s latest project, the mammoth PBS series, “The Vietnam War,” was nominated for Emmys in four categories. One by one, through the evening, all four prizes were awarded to other nominees.
It was a surprising conclusion to Burns’s quest for recognition, and canonization, of a project that cost $30 million dollars, and which spanned 10 evenings on PBS, totalling 18 hours of viewing time. (Burns and his associates and PBS had already failed to receive a Peabody nomination in April.)Read more
Life is a remarkable thing.
The next time ICUJP meets, I shall have turned 60. I find the thought of it extremely perplexing. It is only a little time ago that I remember my 6 th birthday with almost as much clarity and with a similar perplexity. What, I wondered, was so special about this day, and why was I receiving a new toy?
To me, now, as I contemplate all this, the experience is not just remarkable but equally it is beautiful. If there is any major difference between my 6th and 60 th birthdays it is, perhaps, that I am beginning to understand this mystery of life, if only by the minutest of fractions.Read more
A Reflection on my Moral and Spiritual Life
I want to talk about the importance and meaning of reflection to ethical living. Think about the basic meaning of a reflection. Consider what you see when you look at a reflection -- what Michael Jackson referred to as "The Man in the Mirror." The first and most important figure to whom we must apply a spiritual vision and a moral interrogation is ourselves. To me, some of the most vital moral and spiritual work we can do is in self-examination and self-criticism, identifying, learning from and overcoming our own transgressions, weaknesses and failures.
I was raised Orthodox Jewish in an immigrant working class family in Brooklyn. My father came to the US from Poland as a teenager in the early 1930s. My parents met on a picket line when my mother was fired for joining a union. I lived a very sheltered life in a small apartment in a large apartment house, walking distance from my yeshiva elementary school and from the two synagogues that we prayed at. I spent six days a week in yeshiva starting when I was about 4-1/2, all the way through high school, and Friday nights and Saturdays at the synagogue from as early as I can remember. I learned to read Hebrew pretty much simultaneously with English, and spent half of every school day studying Torah and the prophets, and later the Talmud in yeshiva high school.Read more
I don’t know if any of you knew my adopted mom, the legendary Esther. If not, maybe you remember my giving a reflection about her just before she died at ninety-five. Esther, who grew up hearing how her mother, as a child, saw her little brother bayoneted by one of the Czar’s soldiers for being Jewish and out after their curfew, Esther who spoke Yiddish as a first language, Esther who became a Communist at fourteen and never quit the struggle while she had any energy in her left in her to give, Esther who refused to wear a Star of David because it is on the Israeli flag, but when her friend gave her a silver chain with a little chai on it, she never removed it from around her neck. Never. My friend, my next-door neighbor, my adopted mom, Esther.
I remember one day she and I were talking and the conversation turned to the Israeli treatment of Palestinians. It was with deep pain that she expressed to me that she couldn’t understand how Jews could treat anyone like this after all they have suffered themselves.
My only answer I could come up for her was of impunity.Read more
In a moment, as time goes, our nation came under a new form of government and new management upon the ratification of the Constitution of the United States of America.
When Benjamin Franklin was returning from the last meeting of the Continental Congress after the drafting of the Constitution, a passing woman called out, “Mr. Franklin, what sort of a government have you given us?” “A republic, madam, if you can keep it.”
If you can keep it. And that has been the challenge lo these past many years. If you can keep it.
Our young nation, from the beginning was beset by errors, stupidity and evil. The new nation was created out of land stolen from numerous native peoples. Even within a generation, those who shared that mythical first Thanksgiving feast were massacring their Indian neighbors.
Can any nation long endure founded on the premise that some humans only counted as three-fifths of a man, and some didn’t count at all if they were female. It wasn’t long after that the infamous Dread Scott Decision settled it – some humans will never have any rights at all, for what rights does property have?Read more
ICUJP Friday Forum regular attendee Patrick Bonner has been conducting a one-man vigil at Wilshire and Vermont on recent Friday mornings, each week bringing attention to pressing issues.
We thank him for his passion and perseverance.
I want to share about something significant that happened on Tuesday in Los Angeles. There is finally the political will to legalize street vending, albeit with conditions that hopefully work both for these informal workers and the businesses that function legitimately along the corridors where vendors will be able to sell their wares.
I first became interested in the informal economy while living in the Philippines from 1974-1982. Between 1976 and 1978 I was pursuing a master’s degree in urban anthropology at the Ateneo de Manila University. For my thesis project, I wanted to study the effects of government relocation programs on the women in squatter settlements in Manila. Thus, I lived for stretches at a time in a site within the city limits and at a site designated as a relocation area outside the city limits. As I observed the activities of these women, I noticed how “masipag” (hard working, entrepreneurial) they were. At this time, wages in the city were low, conditions were poor, and it was clear that the “formal” economy was unable or unwilling to absorb the large labor force. Yet despite their difficulties and complaints, these women who became my friends, who supplemented their income with selling vegetables, cooking food, washing clothes, setting up as petty shop keepers, seemed to be a part of something that kept the city going. And they were proud to be able to work on the solution to their own problems, not just depend on a government that already had let them down.
A decade later, living in Nairobi, Kenya, I again had the privilege of working in some of the slum settlements that form a large part of the city. Once again I was exposed to people who worked hard on the fringes of the economy, working to sustain themselves and their families by a variety of means, just as those in Manila. Selling their wares on the streets of the city was not only a way of surviving, it was a way to feel some control over their lives and it gave them pride to be actively engaged in providing for their families.Read more
I thought this speech, which I first read a few years ago, was strangely on target for ICUJP, despite being 50 years old.
ROD'S SPEECH - Controversy at Moorpark College
delivered December 3, 1968 at Moorpark College, Moorpark, California
There seem to have arisen some complications relevant to my appearance here this evening that should be clarified before I begin. Plainly and simply. I refused to sign a loyalty oath which was submitted to me as a prerequisite both for my appearance and my pay. I gather that your local newspaper and some of its readers read dire and menacing implications in this refusal of mine, and I broach the whole thing only by way of a kind of personal disclaimer.
Number one, I have no interest in overthrowing the government of the United States and number two, to the best of my knowledge I have not or am not now a member of a subversive organization whose aims are similar. I know there are many of you out there who’ve put me in a genetic classification of someplace between a misanthropic kook and an ungracious dope. Actually, I’m neither. I did not sign the loyalty oath and I waived my normal speaking fee, only because of a principle. I think a requirement that a man affix his signature to a document, reaffirming loyalty, in on one hand ludicrous—and on the other demeaning.Read more