Saturday, September 02, 2006


BBC "World Have Your Say" features "Brad in Detroit", again

I am a regular listener of a radio call-in show on the BBC called "World, Have Your Say". It is your basic political call-in show but the callers are from across the globe. They were reporting live from the US one week last spring and I decided to call in the day they broadcast from my hometown, Detroit. I figured the the show could really use a pro-union, anti-racist, anti-capitalist spin on what has happened to this town and who might be to blame. So I called in and gave my little tirade about falling living standards and rising profits and about the need for the rebirth of class struggle politics. Eventually they cut me off, but it was pretty exciting to get in a couple punches in an otherwise vapid, liberal rap session on why the Midwest is hurting (you know, somthing along the lines of "wages were too high, it's their fault") or what is to be done ( "a shiny new downtown will change everything"). I was excited to score one for the home team even if for only a minute on the radio.
So when I discovered that the topic this last May first was the immigrant rights movement and the nation wide walk-out I sent them an email saying I would be attending a rally near my house and would love to phone in an update for their show.
They called about a half hour later and not only did I give them an update, but also noted that this was the first true MAY DAY in this country for generations and that this new, insurgent civil righs movements was bringing issues of class, race, and economic exploitation to US politics like no movement since the 1960's.
I found out the key to getting to say everything you want on the radio is writing out notes in advance... one pause and they interrupt or go to the next caller. So I had my notes ready and blazed through the essentials of what I would assume any socialist would say about a movement that simultaneously takes aim American racism and class exploitation and makes itself known to the world by declaring a nationwide strike on May Day. And all this on a world-wide radio show. I was pretty thrilled about the whole thing, once again.
So imagine my delight when last week a producer at the BBC called me early in the morning and asked if I had any opinions of hostage taking generally and the hostage crisis in Gaza specifically. They had my name and number on file as someone in the US that could talk on various issues. Instantly I knew this was my chance to speak my mind on the IDF, the occupation, US imperialism... I figured I could lay out a whole anti-imperialist critique of the Middle East on live radio!
I had an hour to get my head together, and then after an hour of callers discussing the minutia of various examples and situations with scant mention of any political context they called me. I didn't have much time but here is what I said.

We’ve been taking this hour about hostage taking around the world. Let’s go to Brad in Detroit.

Brad in Detroit: Well, there are many ways to deal with a hostage crisis. We’ve seen how Israel deals with one this last month: over a thousand dead and Lebanon is in tatters.

Hostage taking is an essential part of any asymetrical warfare. When one army is much smaller it’s going to look for ways to.. . it needs a lever, in this case it is to get their comrades out of prison. I heard a caller say that often the demands of hostage-takers, even from political groups, are unrealistic or somehow irrational, I heard one say. There are thousands of Palestinian and Lebanese POW’s in Israeli prisons and for people to want them out, to want them free, I don’t think is at all irrational or unrealistic.

And with this thing with the Fox News journalist—which is being covered in the media here in the US a lot less than maybe you would guess—you know, Fox was targeted for a reason. They are widely viewed as being racist in their portrayal of the conflicts in the Middle East, and being colonial in their outlook and coverage.

Of course the back drop to all of this that the Palestinian parliament is still held hostage. When this whole thing started earlier in the summer two thirds of the Palestinian parliament were taken hostage by the Israeli army of occupation! They are still held hostage.

The even bigger back drop, of course, is that the West Bank and Gaza have been held hostage for nearly forty years.

BBC: OK, I hear Brad saying that there needs to be some kind of political response…

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