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Letters-and-Politics-Logo-No-Background-327x230LUMPENPROLETARIATDr. Henry Giroux has been named by Routledge one of the top fifty educational thinkers of the modern period.  And he’s certainly one of my favourite scholars, which I’ve encountered during my research as an undergraduate because of his intellectual courage, honesty, and sheer relevance.  Today, Dr. Giroux joined free speech radio to discuss critical pedagogy vis-à-vis terror propaganda promulgated by the state and for-profit media. [1]  Listen (or download) here.

Messina

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LETTERS AND POLITICS—(c. 0:01)  “This is Pacifica Radio’s Letters and Politics.  On today’s show:

DR. HENRY GIROUX:  “I mean, if this stuff isn’t the foundation for fascism, what is?  Building walls?  Calling Mexicans rapists?  Claiming that we wanna ban Muslims from entering the United States?  Claiming that we should carpet bomb the Middle East?  That language—I hate to say it—is too reminiscent of a language, that we heard in fascist, in Nazi Germany in the 1930s.  It’s a language that we heard in Chile and Argentina in the 1970s.  This language has a long history.  First, it demonises.  Then, it puts people in camps.  And then it eliminates them.” [2]

MITCH JESERICH:   “A conversation on political language with educational expert, Henry Giroux.  He’s the author of the book, America’s Addiction to Terrorism.  But, first, we’ll go to Burns, Oregon, and talk to Arun Gupta about the latest at the armed occupation at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.  That’s next on Letters and Politics.  But, first, the news.”

[News Headlines (read by Aileen Alfandary) omitted by transcriptionist]

MITCH JESERICH:  (c. 19:10) “Today, we’re gonna be in conversation about terrorism and education—and, using the word education in its broadest sense and, in fact, using the word terrorism broadly as well.  My guest is Henry Giroux.  Henry Giroux is a founding figure in the critical pedagogy movement.  And he was recently awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Educational Research Association.  He holds the McMaster University Chair for Scholarship in the Public Interest in the English and Cultural Studies Department.  He’s the author of some 60 books.  His latest is a collection of essays.  It’s called America’s Addiction to Terrorism.  He joins over Skype.  Henry Giroux, it is my pleasure to welcome you to this programme.”

DR. HENRY GIROUX:  “Hi, Mitch.  Thanks for having me on.”  (c. 20:08)  []  (c. 25:21)

MITCH JESERICH:  “In your book, America’s Addiction to Terrorism, you quote the philosopher John Dewey, who once said that:  The nation needs to be reborn in each generation.  And education is its midwife.

“Yet, college, for a lot of people today, is seen as necessary for your future and career, for your economic, your ability to provide for a family economically, not necessarily for creating people to participate in a democratic society.  Has that changed over the years?”

DR. HENRY GIROUX:  “Well, it’s far more intense than it’s ever been.  And it may be, now, the most prominent view of what the mission of higher education actually is.  I mean I think that, as higher education is corporatised, and as we all know, it’s been increasingly corporatised, the very notion of how we define education has changed.  It’s no longer seen as a public good.  It’s really seen as an entitlement.  It’s seen as a right.  It’s credentialised.  It’s now about getting credentials.  It’s now about getting a job.

“And I think, in a sense, by doing that, by transforming the mission of higher education, we have so denuded it of, so eliminated and erased, any real sense of education as a public good that it really in some way puts democracy itself at risk because we’re no longer generating the formative culture in higher education, that’s needed for people to, not only, learn how to act critically and think otherwise, but to act socially responsibly and to take seriously what it means to be a citizen.

“Being a citizen is not somebody who’s simply a worker.  Being a citizen is not somebody who is simply a consumer.  Being a citizen is somebody who has care and compassion for others, who cares about justice and human rights, equality, all those things that make a society viable and make it more democratic.

“And I think that all you have to do is listen to these right-wing politicians on the left and the right—in the Republican and Democratic parties—when they talk about education.  They don’t have a clue.  I mean, as far as they’re concerned, education is simply—they don’t talk about education.  Actually, to put it somewhat differently—”

MITCH JESERICH:  “Yeah; they, they don’t talk about it.  It’s not what you’re hearing about.”

DR. HENRY GIROUX:  “Yeah.  They don’t talk about education.  And, when they do, they talk about training.  I mean they—they’re confused.  They don’t know what education is.  I mean when somebody like Sarah Palin can stand up and be taken seriously as a political figure you know that something has happened in the country, that we have crossed into a realm of anti-intellectualism in which it’s easier to be stupid than it is to be informed.  And, actually, one is rewarded for being stupid, as opposed to being informed, because being informed means that one is potentially dangerous.  That education is now seen as dangerous.  Training is seen as safe.”  (c. 28:08)

MITCH JESERICH:  “You also quote Hannah Arendt in your book:  Thoughtlessness was the foundation of totalitarianism.”

DR. HENRY GIROUX:  “I think that is such an essential insight.  I mean I—you know.  She was very concerned about the inability of people to think, the inability of people to think critically, the inability of people to hold power accountable—you know—the inability of people to recognise that their very sense of agency, in part, depended on their being able to understand critically their relationships to others, the larger world, and be self-reflective about themselves.

“And she argued that, when you can’t do that, when all of a sudden the foundations and the registers and the institutions and the public spaces and the social spaces disappear, in which that becomes possible, you empty politics out of its democratic possibilities.  And what begins to emerge is a kind of fascism, a kind of totalitarianism, in which people don’t have to think and they’re told that they shouldn’t think.  And the reasons are obvious, because people who have power don’t want people who, basically, are in a position to question what they do.

“I mean:  Think about what we’re hearing in these presidential debates.  I mean:  You just have to sit back and ask yourself:  Is the apocalypse here?  I mean, if this stuff isn’t the foundation for fascism, what is?  Building walls?  Calling Mexicans rapists?  Claiming that we wanna ban Muslims from entering the United States?  Claiming that we should carpet bomb the Middle East?  I mean:  One candidate, Trump, he argues that we should implement waterboarding again.  He wants to implement torturing people.

“I mean:  That language—I hate to say it—is too reminiscent of a language, that we heard in fascist, in Nazi Germany in the 1930s.  It’s a language that we heard in Chile and Argentina in the 1970s.  This language has a long history.  First, it demonises.  Then, it puts people in camps.  And then it eliminates them.  That’s where this language goes.”  (c. 30:12)

[partial transcript]

Learn more at LETTERS AND POLITICS.

[Transcription by Messina for Lumpenproletariat]

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[1]  N.B.:

[2]  Notably, Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump has defended his position of advocating for detention camps by invoking President Franklin D. Roosevelt‘s ordering of the incarceration of Japanese Americans in detention camps during World War II, shortly after Imperial Japan‘s attack on Pearl Harbor.  Of course, Trump, and those of his ilk, are loathe to mention the fact that the Redress Movement, inspired by the Civil Rights Movement, forced President Gerald Ford to proclaim in 1976 that the internment of Japanese Americans was “wrong” and a “national mistake”, which “shall never again be repeated” (Stone, Geoffrey R. Perilous Times. 2004, page 305).

In 1988, U.S. President Ronald Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which had been sponsored by Representative Norman Mineta and Senator Alan K. Simpson, who had met while Mineta was interned at Heart Mountain Relocation Center in Wyoming.  The Civil Liberties Act of 1988 provided financial redress of $20,000 for each surviving detainee, totaling $1.2 billion.  And on September 27, 1992, the Civil Liberties Act Amendments of 1992, appropriating an additional $400 million to ensure all remaining internees received their $20,000 redress payments, was signed into law by President George H. W. Bush.  Bush issued another formal apology from the U.S. government on December 7, 1991, on the 50th-Anniversary of the Pearl Harbor Attack, saying:

In remembering, it is important to come to grips with the past. No nation can fully understand itself or find its place in the world if it does not look with clear eyes at all the glories and disgraces of its past. We in the United States acknowledge such an injustice in our history. The internment of Americans of Japanese ancestry was a great injustice, and it will never be repeated.

So, today, we find ourselves woefully regressing with fascist rhetoric coming from Republican candidates, such as Donald Trump, calling for the demonization and criminalization of segments of the American population under the pretext of some nebulous War on Terror.  Meanwhile, Democrats, such as President Obama, have furthered the shredding of the US Constitution to the point that, for example, under Section 1021 and 1022 of the NDAA for 2012, the USA federal government can detain anyone, anywhere on Earth indefinitely without a trial or any semblance of due process.  So, we cannot just blame our nation’s drift toward fascism solely on Republicans.

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[4 FEB 2016]

[Last modified 4 FEB 2016  08:08 PDT]

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