Book Review by Roger Stoll, NLG SF Bay Area Chapter
FOLLOW THE MONEY: Radio Voices for Peace and Justice. Pacifica Radio Network KPFA’s Flashpoints Interviews 2009-2016 by Dennis J. Bernstein. Foreword by Mumia Abu-Jamal. Selected, transcribed and edited by Riva Enteen. Dedicated to Robert Parry. (2018, Left Coast Press)
Recently on Dennis Bernstein’s Flashpoints on KPFA the guests talked about South Korean President Moon Jae-in. Tim Beal: “[It’s] as if Dennis Kucinich had become president of the United States.” K. J. Noh: “No, it’s as if William Kunstler or Lynne Stewart had become president.” Noh then recounted Moon’s background as a political prisoner, torture victim and celebrated people’s lawyer.
This depth is typical of the program. Dennis Bernstein is perhaps the most perceptive and skilled interviewer on radio. He is also a widely published investigative journalist and poet.
Now we have Dennis’s interviews in this collection spanning the years of the Obama administration. Bernstein’s editor is Riva Enteen, past program director of the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild.
The foreword is by Mumia Abu-Jamal, who notes that in prison he cannot listen to Flashpoints and so is especially grateful for the book. (Hear Mumia read the foreword.) In her introduction, the editor aptly suggests that the volume’s 66 interviews done in the seven years preceding the 2016 US presidential election “provide the writing on the wall for the toxic stew we now live in.”
The interviews are grouped into nine themes, for example, “The Class War,” “Domestic Dissent” and “Global Militarism and Empire.” Many of today’s most important journalists and academics on the Left are featured. Their voices are invariably eloquent, insightful, and informative:
Shahid Buttar: [T]he Obama administration is already our nation’s far-and-away most aggressive anti-press administration. More national security whistleblowers faced prosecution in the last five years than in the entire preceding 225-year history of the Republic.
Vernellia Randall: Of all the churches [Dylan Roof] could have picked in that town, he picked the church that was celebrating its 193-year anniversary. That’s a church standing since slavery, with membership since slavery. One of the co-founders of the church was hung, murdered by the system, for supposedly organizing a slave revolt.
Martin Espada: “How to Read Ezra Pound” / At the poets’ panel, / after an hour of poets / debating Ezra Pound, / Abe the Lincoln veteran, / remembering / the Spanish Civil War, / raised his hand and said: / “If I knew / that a fascist / was a great poet, / I’d shoot him / anyway.”
Interviewees also include: Ali Abunimah; Mustafa Barghouti; Helen Benedict; Blase Bonpane; Francis Boyle; Helen Caldicott; Darryl Cherney; Ramsey Clark; Marjorie Cohn; Kevin Cooper; Phil Donahue; Richard Falk; Laura Flanders; Danny Glover; Kevin Alexander Gray; Katharine Gun; Christine Hong; Dolores Huerta; Dahr Jamail; Benjamin Todd Jealous; Birgitta Jonsdottir; Antonia Juhasz; Phyllis Kim; Bill Means; Greg Palast; Robert Parry; John Pilger; Kevin Pina; Ai-jen Poo; Vijay Prashad; Walter Riley; Tim Shorrock; Oliver Stone; Mara Verheyden-Hilliard; Alice Walker; Brian Willson; Richard D. Wolff.
Anyone engaged by the world will find this book eye-opening, and a keeper.
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Roger Stoll is an NLG member and a Latin America & Caribbean solidarity activist with the Task Force on the Americas, a three-decades-old anti-imperialist human rights organization.