Saturday, March 13, 2010

Amy Goodman Speaks at DePaul

This was originally Published on Gapers Block.


On Friday, March 12, Amy Goodman, the host of Democracy Now!, spoke at DePaul University. She was one of the best speeches I have seen in a long time. She covered a range of topics; from the history of colonialism in Haiti, where she encouraged solidarity over charity; to the anniversary of the death of Rachel Corrie and her parents civil suit against the Israeli military, to former secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld's home which was the same home that abolitionist Fredrick Douglas and other slaves were beaten in.

Goodman spoke about the late historian Howard Zinn and how as a teacher at the historically Black Spellman College, he incited students to become active in the civil rights movement. His reward was to be kicked out of the school. However, 42 years later Zinn was asked to return to Spellman, where he gave a commencement speech and received an honorary degree.

Goodman then pointed out that, "Times do change. I hope time changes for DePaul too. I hope it takes less than 42 years for Norm Finkelstein to be invited back," which garnered applause. Goodman described Finkelstein's research as important. Finkelstein was a professor at DePaul who was denied tenure, after he raised controversy over Israel's human rights record in the occupied territories of Gaza.

Finkelstein will be speaking in Chicago on April 16 about his new book This Time We Went Too Far: Truth and Consequences of the Gaza Invasion. Goodman said, "I look forward to being in the audience at DePaul when Norman Finkelstein is invited back to speak and express the courage that he has."

Goodman also described the struggle to have independent media in the US. Her show, Democracy Now!, started on the Pacifica station, which was founded by a World War II draft resister who wanted non-corporate anti-war voices to have an outlet.

Several months after Pacifica opened its Houston station in 1970, the Ku Klux Klan used dynamite to bomb the base of the station's transmitter. The leader of Klan called it his "proudest act." Goodman said that it was because he realized how dangerous Pacifica was because it "allows people to speak for themselves. When you hear someone speaking form their own experience whether it is a Palestinian child, an Israeli mother, an Iraqi aunt or an uncle from Afghanistan, that breaks down barriers, breaks down stereotypes, challenges caricatures that fuel the hate groups. We need a media in this country that builds bridges between communities and doesn't advocate the bombing of bridges."

Goodman criticized the small number of corporate media owners. She said that there are hundreds of channels but few owners. She also cited a study from Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting which found that out of 393 interviews about the pending Iraq war on the four major national news shows, only three of the interviews were with anti-war voices. Goodman encouraged revoking licenses of corporate news media that does not act in the public interest, since the airwaves are public property.

Democracy Now! can be viewed from its website, but Goodman urged people to get the show on WBEZ, citing the dozens of NPR and PBS stations that it already airs on.

Audio of the event is available here.

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