My guest today is author, peace journalist and frequent OpEdNews guest, Bob Koehler. Welcome back to OpEdNews, Bob.
Joan Brunwasser: You recently wrote STRIP AND FLIP: DEMOCRACY IN A CAGE In it, you discuss Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman's newest book, THE STRIP & FLIP SELECTION OF 2016: Five Jim Crows & Electronic Election Theft [paperback, 2016]. What about this book caught your attention?
Bob Koehler: I've known the authors, Bob and Harvey, for a long time, and have always appreciated their work. So I was intrigued by this new book and started looking at it. What grabbed my attention and pulled me in -- and made me want to write a column about it -- was the depth to which they plunge into U.S. history, by which I mean the terrible parts of it: slavery, the concept that African-Americans were declared to be, as the nation came into being, three-fifths human. Their book tied slavery and racism to our election system: our "democracy," and in the process made it clear how fragmented and inadequate that democracy was and still is.
JB: Many considered the election and then reelection of Barack Obama to be evidence that it was finally time to close the door on racism. Do you disagree? Where did we go wrong?
BK: I see the election of Obama as a powerful moment in American democracy -- a large majority of people voted against both racism and the Bush-Cheney war. His majority was large enough that the results couldn't be gamed and changed. Alas, while the Obama presidency did a few good things, he continued and even expanded the war on terror, helping turn it into endless war. The triumph over racism was real, but superficial. The changes did not go deep. They didn't address the dehumanization process that is war.
JB: So let's go back to what seems to be the central thesis of Fitrakis and Wasserman's book: that slavery and its aftermath have led to a continuation of the same racist policies, simply adapted to post-slavery times. While many of us would readily agree that slavery was a fundamental part of our history, isn't it overkill to say that those same sentiments have continued to flourish and still serve to guide our course? Are we really that stuck after all these years?