As the plan to consolidate Connecticut’s public colleges moves forward, there is one thing the Board of Regents must do: take some remedial history courses. Their “Students First” scheme (so named without apparent irony) has no intention of canceling student debt or cutting the ever rising costs of college, which have increased over 1,000% since I attended the University of Connecticut. Our state’s history points to a better approach, based on the tradition, purpose, and vision of free and equal education access, promised to all American since the Founders. This approach was known as the Federal College.
A new civil war?
Are we heading for a civil war in this country? Frankly, I don’t think so. But if we fail to oppose racist and fascist actions like those in Charlottesville, Va., we do so at our peril. Make no mistake: in Connecticut, fascist fear mongers have long been with us. While the recent reappearance of racist and neo-Nazi forces is horrifying, it’s important to take a look back on how local communities have defeated the hateful right in the past.
Are we the ‘bewildered herd’ led by propagandists?
Fake News. Alternative facts. “Truthiness.” These are new labels for an old enemy of democracy: propaganda. It is particularly relevant to take a critical look at how propaganda is employed by our own government today.
Godzilla is really, really hard to kill
Nuclear power was once considered “too cheap to meter.” The “peaceful atom” was a spurious claim spread by nuke proponents, with little public opposition, after the atomic attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Dominion Energy, owner of the Millstone nuclear plant, has failed to convince our Connecticut General Assembly that it needs a new deal to ensure long-term profits. The defeat signals another corporate myth that’s been debunked. Dominion and its welfare scheme is “a toxic brand now, literally radioactive,” said Rep. Lonnie Reed, co-chair of the Energy Committee last week. “Let’s let it go and figure out a new way.”
Lessons of the abolitionists are important today
The organizing efforts of black and white abolitionists in the 1800s can provide us with powerful inspiration as we face the dangers of Trump and the Republican majority. That’s one reason on May 18 I will be joining the upcoming celebration of Frederick Douglass’s first visit to the capital city at the Center Church (First Church of Christ in Hartford).
How should we remember World War I?
How should World War I be remembered? Connecticut libraries and historical groups are now gearing up for this year’s 100th anniversary of April 6, 1917– the day we entered the “Great War.” What exactly will we commemorate? Thirty-seven million people were killed in the war from 1914 to 1918. U.S. forces averaged 297 casualties a day. Here was a conflict, historian Howard Zinn wrote, where “no one since that day has been able to show that the war brought any gain for humanity that would be worth one human life.”
Politics in 2016: The unthinkable can happen here
On Oct. 27, 1936, Connecticut theater-goers watched It Can’t Happen Here, performed by the Federal Theater Project, one of the New Deal’s progressive jobs programs. The Nobel prize winner Sinclair Lewis had refashioned his dystopian novel into a dramatic play. It premiered simultaneously in 21 cities across the country, including Hartford and Bridgeport. Americans in the 1930s were being groomed to accept fascism as a macho solution to the troubles faced by the United States. Lewis’s It Can’t Happen Here was a roadblock to that disturbing movement.
American working class discovered in Connecticut!
On this Labor Day, I have an important discovery to announce. No, it’s not Proxima b, the nearest planet to our solar system. My discovery is this: there is an American working class! And it exists right here in Connecticut. In fact, 62 percent of the population is working class. Because it’s not about income, it’s about power. Most of us have no control over what we do. The corporate elite (under 2 percent) make those decisions for us.
The Gatling gun and other tools to limit bloodshed
Dr. Richard Gatling lived in a Hartford mansion overlooking the Colt Firearms factory in Dutch Point. His 1861 invention– the first WMD — was built by the Colt company while it was being run by Samuel Colt’s widow Elizabeth. The good doctor said he wanted to limit bloodshed in war, so he created a machine of death powerful enough to scare away the enemy. Also, the gun could limit battlefield deaths, Gatling argued, because we wouldn’t need so many soldiers.
With rights and Connecticut lives at stake, words matter
Quiet down, class. It’s time to review some definitions. This time, let’s focus on current events: “Black Lives Matter.” Here’s a phrase that has been incorrectly defined with increasing frequency. To insist on the value of African American lives is not to say that “all lives” don’t matter.
A day to stop, remember… and ask an important question
I took this photo with my Instamatic on Oct. 15, 1969. I was in Hartford at the anti-war demonstration known as the Vietnam Moratorium. That day, 90,000 peoples joined protests around Connecticut to stop what they were doing and concentrate on the enormous costs of the U.S. war in Southeast Asia. There was no business as usual that day, for millions of people around the country.
Could Connecticut be wooed by a fascist candidate?
We can argue whether Donald Trump is a “fascist” as some people claim. For me, the important question is: Would Americans follow a fascist? Would they elect a fascist president? We can look to Connecticut history for clues, and some parallels.
Police surveillance of citizens not new in Connecticut
Did you feel that shiver running up your spine? Then you’ve read about the Chicago Police Department’s use of sophisticated “Stingray” technology to spy on local citizens. Here in Connecticut, we’re no strangers to illegal police surveillance.
A Connecticut story for the U.S. Supreme Court justices
I was nervous. This was my first case before the United States Supreme Court. But here I was, ready to argue against Friedrichs vs. California Teachers Association. In this case, a few public school teachers claim they shouldn’t have to pay union dues because it violates their First Amendment rights. A conservative ruling would be bad, extending to Connecticut teachers, many of whom went to jail in the 1970s to win improvements in collective bargaining….
We helped create Puerto Rico’s problems, and should correct them
Puerto Rico is in a severe economic crisis, and Connecticut shares some of the responsibility. After all, we made the island what it is today: a colony. Our state’s congressional leaders must act to correct this long-standing injustice.