For those of you who missed or may be interested in a recent lecture i gave at the Washington DC, chapter of the GIA Alumni Association, here is a free link to the You Tube lecture:
Richard W. Wise, Author's Blog
The optics of the U. S. pullout of Afghanistan looks a lot like Saigon in 1975. According to White House spokesman, Jake Sullivan, speaking on this Sunday's Meet the Press, we have evacuated 30,000 Afghanis since the airlift began in mid-June, 25,000 of those in the past two weeks.
In a May 1975 article in the New York Times, President Ford discussed resettlement of 120,000 Vietnamese who had been brought to the U. S. as part of the American pullout. The images of helicopters airlifting diplomats and Vietnamese nationals off the roof of the American embassy on April 30th 1975 was dramatic, but by the following month we had taken in many more as part of Vietnamese resettlement effort. Obviously, this all must have begun months prior.
To be fair, the optics are somewhat misleading. Many of the those desperate people crowding the Kabul airport and hanging off of planes are not the people we should be concerned with anymore than were those surrounding our Saigon embassy.
More than 300,000 Afghan civilians have been affiliated with the American mission over its two-decade presence in the country, according to the International Rescue Committee. This doesn't count families, though not all of them qualify for resettlement, plenty do or should. About 60,000 have been resettled thus far.
Although, the buck stops with Biden, I can't imagine the chaos that would have ensued had Trump been reelected and stuck with his May timeline, but that is no excuse. Biden, not Trump is our president. Pentagon planners knew Biden would order troops out since the day he announced his run for the presidency. Where were the planners? Why was there no contingency plan in place? How will we save these people?
Jun 29, 2021 Leila rated it: "It was amazing"
"I was worried what this book would be like. It was written… differently. (Not bad). I found the written language and terminology to be different than the norm." I found it slightly difficult to read because of this and found myself re-reading parts to ensure I understood it, but the storyline itself is what grabbed me from the start and did not let go.
Initially, I really was wondering where this book would lead. I was worried it was going to be political and educational and boring, but then I found myself engrossed in the story, turning pages, trying to read faster (which did not work!) and did not want to put the book down! I had to read more; I had to know who and what!
In addition to the engrossing story; I was educated. I bonus, in my opinion. Who doesn't like to read a good suspense read while learning something new at the same time!?
Redlined is the first book I have read by Richard Wise, and I hope he writes more suspense and thrill because this was an excellent read. I highly recommend picking up Redlined and giving it a read!"
"Richard Wise's novel draws on an actual grassroots community organizing effort to fight redlining and disinvestment in a Boston neighborhood during the 1970's. Set in Jamaica Plain (JP), Redlining creatively combines historical fact with literary fiction, mixing a number of actual events and real people with fictitious characters and imaginary episodes. Wise certainly knows that history especially well, since he played a key role in shaping it. Hired by a federation of neighborhood churches in 1974, he organized an array of block clubs, which he subsequently brought together to form a powerful coalition. The Jamaica Plain Mortgage Committee launched an impressive campaign to defend the area, not only from redlining, but also from high-end development plans that would have displaced most low-income and working-class residents" Click to read more.
I just finished reading Arrivederci, New York, the first volume of Eugene Christy's promised five volume family saga, the Twentieth Century Quintet. An ambitious undertaking by any standard.
The first volume focuses on Tony LaStoria, a ten year old Italian boy seeking to return to New York. A very young boy fleeing a brutal father. Christy renders the beginning of Tony's adventures with verve and a lyrical prose which borders the poetic. "On his cheeks he felt tears carving rivulets into his face the way the rivers of time and place chiseled rivers into the mountains.
Then Tony arrives in Manhattan and Christy's astonishing grasp of a particular time and place transports the reader back to the New York City of the early days of the 20th century. Without sacrificing the story, Christy does an excellent job of describing the exploitation and the many hardships immigrants were forced to endure in the old New York before the rise of the unions—the sweatshops, the piecework system of the garment district, structured not unlike today with work done by "independent" contractors.
Arrivederci, New York is a rich narrative. We are treated to a whole cast of characters, Italians, Polish and Jew, as well as contemporary politics and union organizing. Christy has done his homework. This is a very different sort of fictionalized memoir, an immigrant's saga which both tells a great story and informs the reader. I highly recommend it and look forward to the next book in the series.
In her new book, After Redlining, The Urban Reinvestment Movement in the Era of Deregulation, Author Rebecca K. Marchiel, tells how a Alinsky style community organization discovered the economic underpinnings of urban disinvestment and developed a series of political strategies to successfully combat the forces that create urban slums. This is where the story begins, with The Organization for a Better Austin (OBA).
OBA's initial steps and mis-steps, eventually leading to effective solutions reveal a process whereby a group of neighborhood leaders, aided by professional community organizers, identified a process that had destroyed urban neighborhoods all over the country and revealed solutions that had stumped professional planners and urbanologists for decades.
Led by an Austin homemaker, Gale Cincotta and an Alinsky trained organizer named Shel Trapp, the peoples' organization expanded first to other Chicago neighborhoods. After determining that the solution required national legislation, organized a coalition of urban neighborhood groups called National People's Action (NPA) and pushed two pieces of legislation through Congress against the opposition of the Savings & Loan industry.
Meticulously researched and well written, Dr. Marachiel has told a story which badly needed telling. It is a story of ordinary people analyzing a problem, developing solutions, taking control of their shared destiny and making significant social change. For decades, experts viewing urban decay saw only what was in front of them; minorities, welfare recipients, municipal neglect, slumlords, blockbusters. They failed to detect the underlying economic conditions that permitted some of these actors to thrive. It shows the extraordinary things that ordinary people can do. I was one of the community organizers, working in Boston, who had a ringside view of this struggle. I highly recommend After Redlining.
By Richard W. Wise ©2021
Freedom of Speech is not absolute. In the words of Oliver Wendell Holmes: "your freedom to act ends where my nose begins." However, while we applaud the fact that social media platforms have cut off the hate speech and plans of Donald Trump and his insurrectionist allies we have to ask ourselves, are we ready to cede control of our constitutional rights to private media corporations. The answer, I think, is no.
There is good evidence that the insurrectionists who took over our capital on December 6th, planned and communicated their plans on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Parler. So did the dissidents who overthrew Egyptian dictator, Hosni Mubarak, during the 2011 Arab Spring. The Egyptians did pretty well until the government shut down the internet. How, then, do we make the distinction, support good things and stop bad things from happening and who should have the right to make the choice? The easy answer is the courts, but given the speed of digital communication and the clanking inefficiency of our court system, that's not going to work—at least not in the short term.
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press..." (U. S. Constitution)
Some are arguing that the first amendment states only that Congress shall make no law affecting speech—Twitter, a private company, is not Congress and therefore has the right to deny anyone they choose from access to their platform. I wish it were that simple.
Freedom of speech is meaningless without the right to be heard. In 1750 the population of the original thirteen colonies was a shade over 1.5 million. Any citizen could mount a soapbox on the Boston Common, provided his voice was loud enough and be heard. Today, with a population of 330 million, much more amplification is required and social media has replaced the soapbox. Denial of access is, in a real sense, a defacto denial of the right of free speech itself.
Trump's attempted coup has focused a bright spotlight on a problem not envisioned by our founders. Thus far Twitter, Facebook and other social media companies have bobbed and weaved, claiming they should not be regulated because they are not media, just neutral platforms which allow everyone a megaphone to use to present their opinions and cannot be held responsible for those who use it.
Social media may be technically private but it serves a public function. It is a hybrid, some of both and whether we're talking insurrectionists or freedom fighters, it can be a powerful double-edged sword. As such, it cannot and should not escape regulation for much longer.