Yesterday’s iteration of the Petaluma Progressive Festival was solid good stuff – classic Progressive Festival if you will. Way more people than last year and with the SF Mime Troupe. Very good to see hear them present what we all are witnessing in satiric rendition, their new story: Schooled. “Today, the schools, tomorrow, the WORLD!” says Trump-like Babbitt, twisted narcisist corporate take-over of schools guy. After his “upgrades,” students watch selected misleading videos of American history rather than attend school and must wear arm bands if they want to be allowed on campus. Sigh. Too close to true to be anything but scary!
Thanks to all the many volunteers who make Progressive Festival stirring, thought provoking and even joyful year after year…wishing for many more years to come!
Came home with a mini Peace Pole with May Peace Prevail on Earth written in English, Japanese, Russian and Spanish plus a DVD of life after the bomb in Hiroshima back to back with Japanese short performance art. OK! Nearly bought a solar light for someone(s) in Gaza (where they get 4hrs of electricity a day), but will likely want to send more to UNICEF to save children at risk in Syria and Etheopia and Nigeria where, yesterday, I heard, 1/4 million children are currently severely malnurished and attacks by Boka Haram make rescue efforts nearly impossible. Tragic news.
Always glad to see Roots of Peace, Linda Speel and friends and her handsome grandchildren at the Festival! Even met a Bernie Sanders supporter who plans to run for Petaluma City Council – more power to her! Seems smart and focused and determined – good going! Shared some of the food fare – traditional tomales, rice and beans – no food trucks brought in from anywhere.
Daniel Ellsberg was the speaker of note – was very pleased to here his clear, thoughtful assessment of what we face in the upcoming presidential election and repercussions of that.
Ellsberg, once a military advisor, worked on the top secret McNamara study of U.S. Decision-making in Vietnam, 1945-68, which later came to be known as the Pentagon Papers after which some dubbed him “the most dangerous man in the world.”
Trump, as president, he says “would be the most dangerous man in the world.” Trump’s alliance with racists could get him the election, Ellsberg warns, pointing to Nixon’s bump up in ratings following the death of Alabama Gov. George Wallace, a dedicated segregationist who was assasinated. No surprize David Duke, former Grand Wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan announced his run for office the day Trump was secure as GOP nominee. The “rust belt” states, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana, may well determine who wins this battle for head of the largest economy in the world. These states, where unemployment is a major factor, tend to be Republican strongholds so reaching them is critical to block a Trump presidency. Anybody you know starting up calls to get out the vote in rust belt states?
Ellsberg decried the foreign policy record of Hillary Clinton and said he never considered Barack Obama a true progressive, BUT, he said, Hillary does obviously love women and children and more, can catch your heart with her support for education and gender equality, an end to gun violence and, with nudging from Bernie Sanders, the Democratic platform is more progressive than any in history. So, he said, it would be a negative to harm Hillary by voting Green Party; it could bring us a Trump presidency.
Education. It’s like the weather: everyone has an opinion but nobody does anything about it. That’s how Livina Jones feels about her son Tom’s new school, Eleanor Roosevelt High. With its old textbooks, crumbling classrooms, and racist treatment of kids just like hers Livina believes Roosevelt is exactly the sort of school that can benefit from a little free-market common sense. The nanny-state government has failed to see students as individuals, and failed to give them the real-world skills they’ll need to get ahead. So who says it isn’t time for some big money, for-profit schooling?
Ethel Orocuru, for one. She’s the long serving history/civics/American government/basketball coach at Eleanor Roosevelt, and she’s willing to fight for her version of education as long as her reconstructed hips will allow. But is she fighting for a system that can be fixed, or is she just too blind by her past to see how times have left her and her school behind? And when an efficiency expert, Mr. Babbit, is assigned to improve her class is it a sign that Ethel is behind the times, or a sign of something more sinister? And with privatization on the line, and a Wall Street heavy hitter lined up to fold the entire district into his conglomerate, suddenly the next School Board election is more about a hidden agenda than the open curriculum. And when did the hall monitors start wearing brown shirts and arm bands?
So with the character Babbitt (after a narrow-minded George Babbitt character of Sinclair Lewis in 1922) resembling our GOP Pres. candidate Trump, we see a self-aggrandizing show off who says, near the end, “First the schools, then the WORLD!” Ohhh Kay…and the eager beaver student activist replies, last line of the story “Is this really what you WANT?!?”
Did we go to the first Progressive Festival? Can’t quite recall – that’s 19 years ago. I do remember Wayne bringing his Jungle Cart from his Jungle Vibes Gift and Toy Emporium over full of free ice cream and coffee plus a few African and Indonesian gift items and some books. We had great fun sharing and talking with whoever. Little kids? Sure; and their doting politically correct parents, dogs, the occasional cat on a leash (no; they REALLY don’t like it).
The audience changes, ages, but remains connected and relevant. And big. I’ll be back next time and may well help ahead of the Festival next year. Again.