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New Media We Recommend

March 31, 2011

Below is a list of new materials that we have read/watched in recent weeks. The comments are not a “review” of the material, instead sort of an endorsement of ideas and investigations that can provide solid analysis and even inspiration in the struggle for change. All these books are available at The Bloom Collective, so check them out and stimulate your mind.

The Coke Machine: The Dirty Truth Behind the World’s Favorite Soft Drink, by Michael Blanding – Much has been written about Coca Cola’s involvement in murdering union leaders in Colombia, theft of water and how the most branded beverage company in the world has been targeting children with their sodas. What makes The Coke Machine stand out is that is tackles of these topics and more. Blanding’s book begins with the founding of the company, which is also mired in deception and greed, and then lays out a well-documented history of Coca Cola’s contribution to environmental destruction and human misery. This book is an excellent example of how issues like labor rights, ecological destruction and human health are linked. An excellent text for anyone who wants a concrete example of how corporate power works.

Who Is Rigoberta Menchu?, by Greg Grandin – Since David Stoll’s book on Rigoberta Menchu’s story was published in 1999 the political right in this country has been attempting to undermine the credibility of the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize winner Ribogerta Menchu Tum. This book is Grandin’s response to those attacks, not so much to defend Rigoberta, but to challenge one of the premises of Stoll’s book. Grandin provides important analysis about the 36 – year war in Guatemala based on the extensive reports by both the UN Historical Clarification Commission and the Guatemala Archdiocese Human Rights reports that came out after the 1996 Peace Accords were signed. Who Is Rigoberta Menchu? Is an important book in that it discusses how we read history and how we frame testimonial literature as a legitimate source of information and history.

Islamophobia: The Ideological Campaign Against Muslims, by Stephen Sheehi – More than any other book to date, Islamophobia dissects the varying forces in both the political and academic world that have sought to demonize Islam and its practitioners. Sheehi lays out a well-documented account of how “academics” such as Daniel Pipes, Bernard Lewis, Fareed Zacharia and many more have infected public discourse on how we talk about Islam since 9/11, 2001. Sheehi also demonstrates that even many Liberal sectors in US politics also have adopted an ideological position on Islam that has justified the so-call War on Terror that began under Bush and continues with the Obama administration. An important contribution to our understanding of how pervasive anti-Islamic ideology is within American institutions.

Roses in December (DVD) – Originally released in 1982, this documentary is about the four US church women who were murdered by death squads in El Salvador in December of 1980. The film investigates the murders as well as focusing specifically on Jean Donavan, who was a lay missionary with the Maryknoll order. This story and the film had a huge impact on my political education in the early 80s and since it was re-released (with updated) material it is still a valuable and powerful example of human courage and resistance to oppression. Highly recommended!


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