Paralysis In The US Antiwar Movement; and Free Speech And Censorship In The United States

Paralysis In The US Antiwar Movement

The proxy war between the United States and Russia has been going on in Ukraine, according to some, since February. Others argue its been happening since 2014 with the U.S.-organized coup which overthrew the elected government of Ukraine and replaced it with a government more favorable to U.S. interests.

The corporate news media in the United States have downplayed the U.S. role in the 2014 coup, which brought fascists into a European countr’ys government for the first time since World War II. At that point, the coup government launched a military action against the Russian speaking population of the eastern Donbas region which had declared its independence by a popular vote. This military action by Ukrainian forces resulted in 14,000 deaths.

It is the position of many antiwar activists in the United States that Russia initiated a war of aggression by invading Ukraine this past February. Other antiwar activists say that Russia acted in self-defense, considering what happened in 2014, the expansion of NATO and military bases up to Russia’s borders; they have refused to outright condemn the Russian invasion.

This disagreement has caused a paralysis in the U.S. peace movement. Moreover, the United States has supplied the Ukrainian government with billions of dollars worth of weapons and has demonstrated no inclination to support a cease-fire or a negotiated settlement.

Some have observed that the United States will fight the Russians to the last drop of Ukrainian blood.

The danger of a nuclear conflagration between the United States and Russia, the worlds two most heavily nuclear armed countries, increases daily. The United States has now articulated its goal in the war: to subjugate the Russians and overthrow the Putin government.

For its part, the Ukrainian government is under tremendous pressure from right-wing forces in the country (the same forces that participated with rifle fire in the 2014 coup) to refrain from engaging in peace discussions. The Ukrainian government is operating under martial law and has banned all opposition parties, including socialists and those advocating for negotiations and peace. Repression in Ukraine is being carried out by the SUB, the Ukraine political police, with advice from the CIA.

What will it take to mobilize antiwar Americans so they act together in a unified way? What demands should they raise?

Guest – Medea Benjamin, a leader for many years in the U.S. peace movement and the cofounder of CodePink, a major antiwar organization in our country.


Free Speech And Censorship In The United States

We are taught from a very young age that one of the many blessings of living in an open and democratic nation is that we all have the right to say publicly what is on our mind; that free speech is one of the great hallmarks of our democracy. And yet, throughout our nations history there have been periods of time when the constitutional guaranty of free speech has been under serious assault. And this is one of those times. Less than 50% of students, as well as all other American adults, feel the right of free speech is fully secure in the United States today. And I’m afraid they are correct.

In recent years a number of public opinion surveys have disclosed that a goodly number of Americans believe people with hateful or very controversial views that might unduly excite people, or insult people, should not be allowed to express those views in the public arena. And this is true of both liberals and conservatives. At least one in four college students think its fine to ban highly controversial speakers from their college campus and, in fact, one in six students believe that if all else fails, they can resort to physical intervention to prevent them from speaking on campus.

Well, as the old adage about it not being legally permissible to shout fire in a crowded movie theater, what are the limits on free speech today? Should racist speech be allowed? How about misogynous speech? Or pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel speech? Does the fact that our nation is very divided, very tribal today, inform the answers to such questions? Well, we’ve a lot to cover today. Lets get started.

Guest – Attorney Nadine Strossen is the New York Law Schools John Marshall Professor of Law, Emerita. From 1991-2008 she served as the president of the American Civil Liberties Union, the first woman to do so. When she stepped down as ACLU president in 2008, three US Supreme Court Justices participated in her farewell and tribute luncheon: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, David Souter and Antonin Scalia. Her 2018 book, is HATE: Why We Should Resist It With Free Speech, Not Censorship, and her earlier book, Defending Pornography: Free Speech, Sex, and the Fight for Womens Rights, was named a notable book of 1995 by the New York Times.

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