Monday, October 29, 2007

Studs Terkel still fighting for the working man

By Libby Spencer

Somehow it encourages me greatly to know Studs Terkel is on our side. I urge you to read the whole op-ed but here's a meaty portion.

During my lifetime, there has been a sea change in the way that politically active Americans view their relationship with government. In 1920, during my youth, I recall the Palmer raids in which more than 10,000 people were rounded up, most because they were members of particular labor unions or belonged to groups that advocated change in American domestic or foreign policy. Unrestrained surveillance was used to further the investigations leading to these detentions, and the Bureau of Investigation — the forerunner to the F.B.I. — eventually created a database on the activities of individuals. This activity continued through the Red Scare of the period.

In the 1950s, during the sad period known as the McCarthy era, one’s political beliefs again served as a rationale for government monitoring. Individual corporations and entire industries were coerced by government leaders into informing on individuals and barring their ability to earn a living.
I was among those blacklisted for my political beliefs. My crime? I had signed petitions. Lots of them. [...]

I have observed and written about American life for some time. In truth, nothing much surprises me anymore. But I always feel uplifted by this: Given the facts and an opportunity to act, the body politic generally does the right thing. By revealing the truth in a public forum, the American people will have the facts to play their historic, heroic role in putting our nation back on the path toward freedom. That is why we deserve our day in court.

Studs is one of the plaintiffs in the citizen lawsuits against the telecoms that would be shut down if retroactive immunity is passed by the Congress. He has been wielding his eloquence on behalf of the working man for most of his 95 years. We couldn't ask for a better champion in this fight. The Democrats would do well to allow him to wage it instead of cowering in faux fear of the White House to excuse placating their deep pocket corporate funders in the telecom industry.

(Cross-posted at The Impolitic.)

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