Dispatches from the Culture Wars - Fools and money edition

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Ongoing Protest of WGBH Board Member Koch to Light up Boston Landmarks

By Dru Sefton
March 27, 2014

Three progressive groups have organized a protest Friday night at Boston's WGBH as they continue to pressure the station to drop conservative activist billionaire David Koch from its board.

The gathering at WGBH coincides with the station's Smart Conversations series on climate change. The progressive organizations - Forecast the Facts, Daily Kos and the Courage Campaign - take issue with Koch because they say the philanthropist funds organizations that "miseducate the public" about climate change.

In addition to the protest at WGBH Friday, huge electronic projections will light up the exterior of the station's studios. Similar projections will illuminate Fenway Park, the Massachusetts Statehouse and the Boston Globe`s headquarters Thursday night. The projections will feature messages targeting WGBH's board.

Koch "is the arch-villain of climate-change deniers," said Forecast the Facts spokesperson Daniel Kessler. Since 1997, the billionaire has provided more than $67 million of funding to groups that insist climate change does not exist, Kessler said.

Hobby Lobby's Secret Agenda: How it's Quietly Funding a Vast Right-Wing Movement

By Eli Clifton
March 27, 2014

Hobby Lobby says it's just trying to protect its religious freedom. The family-founded and -run company is closed on Sundays, has an employee manual that includes biblical references, and announces on its website its commitment to "Honoring the Lord in all we do by operating the company in a manner consistent with biblical principles." The company got in hot water last year when an employee told a blogger that no Hanukkah decorations were stocked "[b]ecause Mr. Green is the owner of the company, he's a Christian, and those are his values."

The battle for its Christian identity was revived this week when lawyers for the company argued before the Supreme Court that the company should not have to comply with the Affordable Care Act's contraception mandate. But a document published here for the first time reveals Hobby Lobby appears to be going much further than protecting freedom, providing funding for a group that backs a political network of activist groups deeply engaged in pushing a Christian agenda into American law. The document shows entities related to the company to be two of the largest donors to the organization funding a right-wing Christian agenda, investing tens, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars into a vast network of organizations working in concert to advance an agenda that would allow businesses to discriminate against gays and lesbians and deny their employees contraceptives under a maximalist interpretation of the Free Exercise Clause of the United States Constitution.

Killing Conservative Books: The Shocking End Of A Publishing Gold Rush

By McKay Coppins
March 21, 2014

The conservative book business has seen better days. Ten years ago, the genre was a major source of intellectual energy on the right, and the site of a publishing boom, with conservative imprints popping up at industry giants like Random House and Penguin. But after a decade of disruption, uneven sales, and fierce competition, many leading figures in the conservative literati fear the market has devolved into an echo of cable news, where an overcrowded field of preachers feverishly contends for the attention of the same choir.

Editors at these imprints face unprecedented pressure to land cable news and radio provocateurs like Ann Coulter, rather than promote the combative intellectuals, like Allan Bloom and Charles Murray, on whom the business was first built.

United Students Against Sweatshops Want Teach for America Off College Campuses

By Julianne Hing
March 26, 2014

United Students Against Sweatshops, a national college student organizing group, wants Teach for America off college campuses. In a "TFA Truth Tour" launched this week, student activists, Teach For America alumni and local teachers are visiting college campuses and speaking up about the politics of Teach for America, and education reform. The tour is slated to hit over a dozen college campuses over the next two weeks to target the undergrads who are the backbone of the Teach for America teaching corps.

TFA focuses its recruitment operations on college campuses and often partners with local universities to offer provisional teaching licenses to fresh college graduates who are brought in for two-year teaching stints in poor communities, says Jan Van Tol, a national organizer with USAS. "TFA recruits based on a social justice and community service message," says Van Tol. "We think that's deceptive and doesn't get at what TFA is really about," which is about dismantling democratic institutions of public education with market-driven education reform.

TFA is indeed a lightning rod in the education reform debate. USAS's goal is to use the tour as a launching pad for a longterm campaign to kick TFA recruiters off college campuses and question universities' current role in sustaining TFA.

Outrage in Indian Country as Redskins Owner Announces Foundation

By ICTMN Staff
March 25, 2014
Indian Country Today Media Network

With a four-page letter released late in the day on Monday, Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder has taken his stubborn defense of the team's name to a new level.

Snyder's letter begins by affirming that he has no intention of ever changing his team's problematic name, referring to a letter he wrote to fans in the fall. The Redskins owner then describes his campaign of outreach to American Indian communities, and cites facts about poverty, health, and standard of living in Native communities that everyone in Indian country is all too familiar with.

Snyder's conclusion: Clinging to his team's racial-slur name is a noble gesture, but isn't enough to solve Indian country's problems. Or as he puts it: "It's not enough to celebrate the values and heritage of Native Americans. We must do more." The letter is rife with self-satisfaction and misdirection, repeatedly emphasizing all the wonderful ways the Redskins, through the Foundation, might help Indian country, with no mention of the elephant in the room: The widespread objection in Indian country to the team's name.

How This Became the Surprising Protest Song of Our Generation

By Shan Wang
March 18, 2014

It's hard to remember that Pharrell wrote "Happy" for an animated film.

The peppy neo-soul song is not in any way controversial. But something strange began happening to it a little while ago. It became a mega pop sensation and an unexpected global anthem for citizens living under troubled regimes.

The movement started slowly - first it was the soundtrack to a video of people dancing joyfully in Paris. But then the song began cropping up in videos from countries in political turmoil. One came from the Philippines, a country still picking up the pieces from Typhoon Haiyan. Soon, one followed from Tunis, still reeling from the aftershocks of the Arab Spring. And then another from Moscow.  While not a "protest" song in its traditional sense, Pharrell's "Happy" has taken on a politically charged meaning as an anthem of international resilience.

Source URL: https://portside.org/2014-04-01/dispatches-culture-wars-fools-and-money-edition