“Standing Up to the Madness: Ordinary Heroes in Extraordinary Times”

The brother & sister team of progressive journalists Amy Goodman and David Goodman have collected several stories of people who came face to face with some of the evils of the Dubya Squad years but who made the sadly rare but always heartening decision to not take it lying down. They tell these stories in Standing Up to the Madness.

Over the course of the book, team Goodman tell us

  • how the Common Ground Relief group got organized and fought back when the government tried to piggy-back an ethnic cleansing campaign on top of Hurricane Katrina
  • how when an Iraq-born U.S. citizen got kicked off a flight for wearing a T-shirt with Arabic lettering on it, this inspired whole leagues of “I am Sparticus!”-types to challenge effective Arabic-on-transit bans with their own shirts
  • how when the FBI started issuing National Security Letters to libraries — simultaneously demanding patron records without a warrant or court order, denying to the press and to Congress that they were doing any such thing, and issuing a legal gag order to the letter recipients prohibiting them from contradicting the lies — one group of librarians fought back and won
  • how a determined climate scientist at NASA defied White House attempts to turn the agency in to a climate change denial propaganda arm, and bypassed the oil industry public relations handlers who had been put in charge of the agency press office to take agency research directly to Congress and the press
  • how a small number of American Psychological Association professionals exposed that the association’s anonymous task force on complicity with torture had been stacked with pro-torture military psychologists in order to provide cover for psychologists who were helping the government make their torture techniques more precise and effective
  • how a drama teacher and a group of persistent students responded to having their student play about the experiences of Afghanistan and Iraq War veterans banned by the school principal — by working harder to polish the play and taking it off-Broadway
  • how a community rallied around the Jena Six
  • how several soldiers have refused to deploy after coming to a crisis of conscience about war, or learning about the mendacity involved in the current set

All of this is heartwarming and can be inspiring. Team Goodman is writing a book of praise and celebration. Because of this, the episodes are not presented with much nuance or objectivity. They reminded me a bit of the sort of hagiographical stories about Jackie Robinson or Neil Armstrong that I would read in elementary school.

But that said, this would be a good book to inspire any progressive who wants to move on from having correct opinions to being capable of heroic decisions.

Some bits and pieces from here and there: