Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Slippery Slope of Memorial Day

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New World Notes News
Vol. 5, No. 21 -- May 26, 2012

This week in New World Notes, radio program #221, May29, 2012

The Slippery Slope
of Memorial Day

In brief

An anti-war, anti-militarism perspective on Memorial Day.

Features journalist Robert Fisk's antiwar reflections (there's no "Good War"--not after 1945--he concludes). Plus Howard Zinn's 1976 newspaper column on whom Memorial Day ought to honor (which got him fired from the Boston Globe) ... plus commentary by me and Steppenwolf's antiwar classic, "Monster."

This installment is a rerun of NWN #65 (May 2009).

A Zinn Personal Anecdote

After recording this installment in 2009, I sent an email "fan letter" to Howard Zinn expressing my admiration for his Memorial Day essay.

An old English major, I decribed the essay enough to show that I understood how it works. I thought its framing device was especially clever. The essay begins and ends by discussing highway smashups--an American Memorial Day tradition. But by the end, smashup doesn't mean just vehicular carnage. It becomes a metaphor for (you might say) the collision of American values, ethics, and government policy. A metaphor for where American militarism is leading us.

I told him that the essay was my favorite, of the many Zinn essays I had read. That's still true.

Within two hours, the eminent historian had written and sent me a gracious personal reply. He thanked me for my kind remarks and told me that, in fact, the Memorial Day essay was one of his favorites too.

Zinn died, four months after our exchange, in January 2010.

Howard Zinn in May, 2009

Notes, credits, & links

Fisk talk courtesy of Zinn essay, "Whom Will We Honor Memorial Day?"--and much other good stuff--from The Zinn Reader (Seven Stories Press, 1997).

New World Notes is produced under the auspices (Latin for "nihil obstat") of WWUH-FM, a community service of that beacon of light in darkest Connecticut, the University of Hartford.

You can listen to any installment of New World Notes online or else download it (as an mp3 audio file) for later listening. The show is archived at both and (from #90 onwards) The Internet Archive. Either link should get you a reverse-chrono listing of available installments. Or browse the show's Web site: Each installment has a page, and each page has links to the recorded audio. See the gray sidebar on the right ("CONTENTS [Links]") for a table of contents.

Series overview:
Political and social commentary in a variety of genres. Exploring the gap between what we want ... and what they're trying to make us settle for.
Above: Graphic by Eric Drooker.
Below: "Spain, 1936" by Robert Capa.

Coming soon (Tuesday air debut date shown)
  • June 5 & 12 -- "Unsustainable": Michael Pollan on Factory Farming
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