Carolyn Baker interviewed by Jason Miller
Deep crimson stains mottle the pages of humanity’s history. Untold numbers of souls who were skewered, decapitated, eviscerated, or obliterated in anonymity scream out for recognition as one peruses humankind’s memoirs. While our historical manuscript is also generously dappled by the milk of human kindness, much of our narrative is dominated by tales of man’s savage cruelty to man.
And despite widespread misconceptions, the human collective of the United States has acted in accord with the rest of the players on history’s stage.
Relative to its predecessors, the empire sometimes referred to as Pax Americana is not exceptionally exploitative, acquisitive, or genocidal. One can point to numerous historical examples of clans, tribes, or nations with comparable levels of bloodlust. As masters of the world go, the United States has been fairly run of the mill in its pathologies.
Yet what galls many about the United States is the hubristic set of pernicious and enduring myths that portray our nation so disingenuously. Since the founding of our so-called republic, textbook authors, historians, teachers, our government, the mainstream media, and the moneyed elite have striven tenaciously to convince the working class, the rest of the world, and perhaps even themselves of our moral superiority and exemplary virtue.
Recently the Bush administration’s egregious and blatant breaches of morals, ethics, and laws have rendered the illusion of American Exceptionalism virtually untenable.
Yet not unlike Joe Pesci’s witness in My Cousin Vinny, whose testimony could only have been true if the “laws of physics ceased to exist on [his] stove”, there are still many among us in the United States who make claims that could only be true if the “laws of human nature” ceased to exist in our country.
We are as prone to cruelty, greed, gluttony, selfishness, and the like as the rest of the human race. In fact, our refusal to own our collective shadow (coupled with our possession of nearly unlimited economic and military power) has heightened our nation’s tendency to behave like a rogue.
Why do so many amongst the poor and working class of the United States embrace the spiritual cancers of consumerism, patriotism, nationalism, blind allegiance to corporations, and delusional thinking so readily proffered by a relatively tiny group of aristocrats who reside on the other side of a wealth canyon that was once known as a gap?
A few days ago, I caught up with Carolyn Baker, an open-minded and deeply knowledgeable author, essayist, publisher and history professor. She worked as a psychotherapist for two decades and has spoken truth to power for years. I felt confident that Carolyn could shed some serious light on the issues vexing me. So I asked her a series of questions….
1. Please briefly acquaint us with your latest book, US History Uncensored: What Your High School Textbook Didn’t Tell You (1).
This book grew out of years of teaching recent American history (1865 to the present) when after several semesters of teaching, I realized that I should compile my lecture notes and relevant documents into a book. Because I prefer struggling with questions rather than declaring that I have answers, I introduce the book in this way: “How did we arrive where we are now: American society dominated by corporations and their interests, an economy based on war and the weapons industry, trillions of dollars missing from federal government agencies, the annihilation of our civil liberties and the shredding of the U.S. Constitution, the dumbing-down of America and the reduction of our educational system to the lowest common denominator, Peak Oil—the best-kept secret in America, and the polarization of economic prosperity and quality of life?”
The book raises myriad questions about recent American history and offers possible answers, and very well-documented ones at that.
2. Those who are familiar with Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States(2) are probably thinking that the two books sound similar. How would you compare and contrast your book with Zinn’s?
First, Zinn’s books are essentially essays, and they are extremely worthwhile. Zinn has been an enormous inspiration for me, and I can’t get enough of him, but my book is more than a book per se; it is a curriculum abstract. In other words, it was written not only for the reader who just wants to read about U.S. history from the end of the Civil War to the present, but was also written so that history instructors or instructors of other subjects can utilize it as a supplement to their required textbooks or other materials.
In addition, while I have the greatest respect for Howard Zinn, there are some subjects that I do not feel he has sufficiently addressed such as 9/11 and energy depletion as a motivation for epidemic resource wars around the world.
3. I am curious, and I suspect the readers are too, to know more about you as a person. Please favor us (to the degree to which you feel comfortable) with a brief verbal self-portrait of Carolyn Baker.
I’m a baby-boomer who grew up in a fundamentalist Christian family in the Midwest. I was raised on McCarthyism, racism, hellfire and brimstone. I bought into it throughout my childhood, and at the age of sixteen was saving my money to join the John Birch Society. I was sent to an evangelical bible college where I became a rebellious skeptic and left there in order to attend a major Big Ten university. One thing that my upbringing was unable to squelch was my thirst for learning, and my university experience proved that indeed, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. I became an activist in the throes of the sixties, and you might say that I have never ceased being one. I spent most of my adult life in the fields of human service and psychology and returned to college teaching about ten years ago. Although I am no longer a psychotherapist as I was for seventeen years of my career, I experience the fields of psychology and history as extremely relevant and complementary to each other. What is history if not the story of the behavior of human beings? Learning from history can alter our psychology, and altering our psychology can re-direct how we make history.
4. Who has been your biggest inspiration?
It is almost impossible to name any one person as my biggest inspiration. In college I was greatly inspired by Norm Pollack, the history professor to whom my book is dedicated, other professors, peers, employers, therapists, and a variety of other activists.
My spiritual path is extremely important to me, and individuals like the poets Rumi, Mary Oliver, Mario Benedetti, and Pablo Neruda have been guiding lights, as well as the principles of indigenous spirituality and specific teachers such as Carl Jung, Matthew Fox, the Gnostics, Pema Chodron, and many more.
Politically, I am inspired by contemporary Latin American socialists such as, President Michelle Bachelet, of Chile; Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, Evo Morales of Bolivia; Che Guevara; others like Vandana Shiva, Cesar Chavez, and Robert Kennedy continue to inform my perspective.
Sometimes when I am feeling depressed or discouraged, I go to the websites of the Latin American presidents I have mentioned, and there I see and hear the changes they are making and the ways in which they are transforming their countries and defeating neoliberalism in Latin America through democratic elections and by engineering humane government, and I am inspired and enlivened. In an article I recently wrote entitled “New Kids On the Block Confront Imperial Bully: Why I Am Smiling”(3), I explained how these people warm my heart and challenge me to keep going. Most of them know more of suffering and the struggle for justice than I ever will, and the ways in which they walk their talk daily reminds me that a better world is possible.
5. Who has influenced you the most?
I suppose I would have to say that the teachings of Jung influenced me the most in my forties and continue to inform my emotional, spiritual, and political perspectives. One does not have to be in the field of psychology to experience illumination of one’s inner and outer worlds from Jung’s writings. While Jung was a product of his time and influenced by the racism and sexism of his era, he was also far ahead of his time in a host of other ways. As a group, I feel that Jungian therapists can sometimes become focused on the inner world to the exclusion of the outer, whereas for me, it is essential to develop both a rich inner world and at the same time, struggle to create a just and humane outer world. In terms of history, it is because of Jung that I insist on looking at the dark aspects of it as well as the positive. Only in this way can real integration occur.
6. Your bio for your new book states that you were an administrator for non-profits and a psychotherapist (for about two decades) before you became a history professor. What motivated your transition?
Perhaps it was exactly what I just mentioned in answer to the last question. I began feeling that it was time for me to get out of the therapist’s office and human service management and into the world more directly.
For one thing, I felt that the injustices in those fields were becoming intolerable. Increasingly, there were no federal and few state funds for non-profits, while the unregulated corporate capitalist system was running amuck. The field of psychotherapy was also being destroyed by the health insurance industry, unbridled and unchecked. For example, we all know that the society in which we live in the United States is not emotionally healthy, and there is a ghastly amount of violence and abuse on every level. In the pre-managed care world, people could receive psychotherapy and be able to use their health insurance benefits indefinitely, but after the triumph of managed care, “brief therapy” prevailed, and people were generally only allowed twelve sessions in which to address gargantuan emotional issues such as sexual abuse or other trauma. Thus, the profession increasingly became about bandaging people up and getting them “repaired” well enough to function. At the same time, the mental health professional has been put in the position of either playing the insurance company’s game in order to survive or taking only clients who can pay out-of-pocket, and the economic situation in this country being what it is, makes that untenable.
But more importantly, my leaving those fields also had to do with a transition from life in California, as I responded to an inner calling to move to the Southwestern US and specifically to live in closer proximity to Latin America and its cultures. Nevertheless, the experiences and enrichment of the two prior decades continue to inform every aspect of my current work as a teacher and writer.
7. How long have you been teaching history?
I have been teaching history at the college/university level for almost a decade.
8. How valuable has your humanitarian background been to you in your efforts to teach and record history in ways that deviate significantly from the “traditional approach”?
Well, as I said in my answer to #3, I see the two worlds as very compatible and complementary to each other. Much of the psychotherapy world, certainly when one has a Jungian perspective on board, is about finding meaning—critically thinking about any subject, analyzing, looking deeper than the bland, superficial material that is printed in college textbooks. My graduate studies in history were all about that, and when I became a teacher of college history myself, I was appalled at the lack of concern for this. Students came into classes loathing history based on their experiences of it in high school which were overwhelmingly about memorizing dates and names and with absolutely no attempt to connect the dots or make meaningful sense of history.
9. Quoting from your book’s forward: “….the relegating of history to an antiquated closet of insignificance is not only intellectually unsound but fundamentally dangerous.” How much of the US American publics’ minimization of the value of history do you think is orchestrated by the plutocracy which has managed to leverage most of the wealth and power in the United States?
I do believe that a significant amount of the minimization of history is orchestrated by the plutocracy, but there are other factors at work as well. First, we have a president who received an undergraduate degree in history from Yale and nearly brags about his doing so by making C’s and D’s. In addition, technology, which I love and utilize as much as anyone else, has seduced us into believing that only that which is instant, momentary, or future-focused is worth considering. Current conditions do not lend themselves to a consideration of history as relevant or valuable. I believe that we live in an infantilized culture, and I have written about this extensively, as recently as in my commentary on the film “Children Of Men”. Part of the infantilization is due not only to the United States being a very young nation compared with European countries, but we have little sense of history. What inkling most Americans do have is inordinately positive. Few students coming into my classes have any concept of Native American genocide or the actual treatment of African Americans before or after the Civil War. For most of them, U.S. history is “white, bright, and light”—we were the good guys in white hats, devoid of any dark side. I’ve noticed, however, that during the past six years, that attitude has been changing specifically as a result of war-weariness and the demise of Bush’s popularity.
Moreover, and this is extremely important, if people do not know their own history, then like children, they are easily manipulated and controlled and have little discernment about when they are being lied to by their government or the extent of corruption in their government. Being unfamiliar with the U.S. Constitution and the process by which it was formulated makes citizens extremely vulnerable to oppression because as a result of their ignorance, they do not know when their rights are being violated, why they should not be violated, why hundreds of thousands of men and women died so that these rights would not be violated, and that citizens have every right, not only to make certain that their liberties are not violated, but that according to the Constitution, when their government does so, they have a right and a duty, to abolish that government. Certainly, such ignorance of history benefits the plutocracy and no one else. That is the danger of not knowing one’s history.
10. How do you believe the opulent class and corporatists use the dearth of historical knowledge amongst the masses in the United States to their advantage? If the question is too broad, perhaps you could simply provide a few specific examples.
No, the question isn’t too broad. As stated above, unfamiliarity with the history of the U.S. Constitution creates people who function like sheep in obedience to their government. For example, unfamiliarity with the war in Vietnam makes certain that young men and women have no historical perspective about fighting in wars. Many have heard that the “poor U.S. troops” upon returning from Vietnam were spit on by protestors, but they have no clue that thousands of those returning troops quickly joined the anti-war movement, and they have no clue about why because they have no historical understanding of the Vietnam War and what it was about.
When I teach the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century periods of U.S. history, students rarely know that working people at the time were subjected to ghastly mistreatment by management with no laws to protect them. They take working five days a week with a guaranteed lunch break and bathroom breaks for granted, as they take getting a paycheck and having a weekend for granted, not knowing that working people of earlier eras in the U.S. often worked 18 hours a day, 6 days a week and got no paycheck or were cheated on the amount they received. In my class they learn where these things that they take for granted in the workplace came from, and they learn about the lives that were lost in the cause of making sure that working people had humane treatment and that their civil liberties were respected.
When you do not know your history, you can be sorely taken advantage of, and of course, who does that benefit?
11. As I watched Scott Pelley interview our unitary executive on Sixty Minutes last Sunday, I literally felt a chill go down my spine followed almost immediately by a feeling of intense rage when I heard this exchange:
PELLEY: Do you believe as commander-in-chief you have the authority to put the troops in there no matter what the Congress wants to do?
BUSH: In this situation, I do, yeah. Now, I fully understand they could try to stop me from doing it. But I made my decision, and we’re going forward.
Drawing on your knowledge of history, when has another US president so boldly asserted his intention to utterly defy the system of checks and balances so crucial to the preservation of our Constitutional Republic? Obviously, the Bush Regime has dealt many blows to what is left of our Constitution. How much weight do you give this one relative to the Patriot Act, Signing Statements, and MCC?
To my knowledge, no other U.S. president has so blatantly disregarded checks and balances, but in my book, I discuss a couple of incidents in which Bush’s father did the same kind of thing as Reagan’s Vice-President, but did so behind the scenes. For example, I explain in detail the creation of a black budget for the military industrial complex under Vice-President Bush which egregiously violates the U.S. Constitution.
While I give little attention to mainstream media, I do watch Keith Olbermann’s “Countdown” on MSNBC every night. In the throes of debate on the Military Commissions Act a couple of months ago, I listened to Olbermann interview Jonathan Turley, law professor at George Washington University, and as they discussed the appalling violation of the Constitution that the Act is, Turley’s principal lament was that the American people and Congress were doing nothing about it. Congress has little excuse since most of its members have some knowledge of U.S. history, but the American citizenry, ignorant of their history, if they had even heard of the Military Commissions Act, had virtually nothing to say about it, and if they did, it was most likely in support of torture and “doing whatever it takes” to get rid of those nasty terrorists.
I consider one of the final steps of sealing our fate as a fascist empire, this 2006 act which violates every principle of liberty in the U.S. Constitution. The violation is blatant—unprecedentedly blatant, but no other president of earlier generations could have gotten away with shredding the Constitution or calling it as Bush did “a goddamn piece of paper”. That’s because in those times, people still had enough sense of history to prevent such outrageous usurpation of power.
12.Your book touches on the darker aspects of US American history which are often white-washed or ignored in “mainstream” texts. Most history students spend very little time learning about the Native American genocide, chattel slavery, the violent oppression of labor and social movements by the moneyed class, US imperialism, and unprosecuted US war crimes (i.e. Dresden and the secret bombings in Cambodia). How much time do your students spend studying these facets of US history?
My students spend a great deal of time learning about those facets, alongside the positive aspects of our history. Zinn has done a fabulous job in PEOPLE’S
HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES in recounting noble, courageous, and heroic acts undertaken by ordinary people in our nation’s history that served to make us, in principle at least, a great nation. I educate my students in the necessity of knowing the dark side of their history, just as they should know some of the not-so-pretty parts of the personality of a person they plan to marry, or the unpleasant aspects of a job they want to be hired for. Without an integration of the dark side and the light side, we either become cynical and depressed, or infantilized sycophants. Either way, we cannot function as informed and useful citizens.
One thing I want my students to know about is role models in U.S. history other than presidents. In fact, I spend very little time talking about presidents because, as I tell students, presidents don’t run the United States, in my opinion, and because this nation was built on the backs of people of color, women, and the poor. One of my favorite assignments is a reaction paper on the “Autobiography of Frederick Douglass” in which students must read the autobiography and write a paper, putting themselves in his place. There are specific questions they must address in the paper, but without exception, when students read the life of the former slave and imagine themselves in his shoes, they begin to see themselves, people of color, and their entire world differently. I have had students contact me years after doing the assignment and tell me that it was the most life-changing college assignment they had.
13. You wrote that educators face a backlash for deviating from teaching “traditional history”. How has your critical and honest examination of US history affected your professional career?
Personally, I believe that it is easier to teach alternative history in college than in high school. There are too many constraints–parents and administration looking over the shoulders of high school teachers. College and university professors have greater latitude.
My professional career has not suffered as a result of my alternative views. As I mention in the book, one student once said in front of the entire class, “We may not agree with you, but we will never forget this class.” In 2004, one of my very activist students wanted to give an oral presentation on the war in Iraq and used a couple of video clips she had gotten from a returning veteran. Some of the scenes were gory, but overall, they simply raised disturbing questions about why the U.S. was even occupying Iraq. There were several complaints to the administration about the class and my not being “patriotic”, but I was not personally penalized. Today, in 2007, attitudes have shifted enormously, and what I hear and feel in class from students is rage at the current administration—bitterness and despair over having lost relatives and friends in a war that they now recognize as vile and based on lies. The overwhelming majority of my students are Hispanic and therefore are disproportionately affected by a recruitment system that promises them the sun, the moon, and the stars, but either gets them killed in combat or does very little to help them when they return to the U.S. gravely disabled or suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
14. How much pressure have you felt from the university where you teach to curb your efforts, which often (in your words) lead people to accuse you of “hating America and lacking gratitude for the benefits of being born in this nation”?
As stated above, I have not felt a great deal of pressure. What I have seen in the classroom in the past three years is the almost-total evaporation of patriotism and a burgeoning cynicism and despair.
15. Despite the existence of nearly innumerable sources of evidence that obliterate the incredibly disingenuous assertion “that the United States of America is the most tolerant, moral, non-aggressive, and benevolent nation on earth”, many US Americans cling tenaciously to this pernicious delusion. How do you account for this?
Actually—and fortunately, I’m finding that many students these days are not clinging to this disingenuous assertion. I think that because many of my students are working class Hispanics and have seen the darker side of U.S. history in terms of the experiences of family members who have come to this country to have a better life, only to find that the U.S. isn’t the “land of the free” they had fantasized, perhaps they are more open to an alternative view of U.S. history. However, there are still some who do embrace the “America can do no wrong” delusion, and of course, I believe, this is true of many more Anglo American adults. My sense of that is not only what Jung says, that human beings can only handle so much reality, but that people who cling to this assertion need to do so because to entertain a different perception is too threatening, i.e., coming to realize that they have been egregiously betrayed and that what they have worked so hard to support and affirm is not as it seems. All of our institutions in the U.S. serve to perpetuate this myth, so without profound life experiences that break through the fantasy, many people never do.
16. In your opinion, considering the unbridled power of corporations, unchecked militarism, propaganda disseminated by the corporate media, erosion of civil liberties, and concentration of power into the Executive branch, has the United States devolved far enough for the label of fascism to be accurate? Please elaborate on the reasoning you used to draw your conclusion.
As I tell students, we tend to think of fascism as soldiers marching around in jackboots, flags with swastikas draping the entrances of buildings, and Jews being loaded into boxcars headed for death camps. But Mussolini gave us a very simple definition of fascism which I emphasize in my book: the merging/symbiosis, enmeshment of the state and corporations. In fact, he said fascism should be more properly called “the corporate state.”
It is no longer possible in the United States to define where corporations leave off and the state begins. That situation has existed for decades, but the current Bush administration has taken fascism not just to the next level, but to a new galaxy—a new realm of power of the state and of capitulation by the citizenry, as well as a carte blanche for corporations more lenient than we have seen since the late nineteenth century.
In the 1930s, historian Robert Brady wrote a powerful and chilling analysis, The Spirit and Structure of German Fascism(4), in which he examined the creation of the Nazi empire, but also argued that fascism was not necessarily unique to Germany. In the book he states that “…almost the entirety of the German Nazi program and line of argumentation is identical in content and point of view with that of the American business community.” (P.380) He continues:
If the analysis given here is correct, the only difference between fascist and non-fascist capitalist states—between Italy, Germany, Portugal, Austria, Hungary, Brazil, etc, on the one hand, and England, France, and the United States, the Argentine, Belgium, etc. on the other—is to be found not in the content, but in the level on which the propaganda is promoted.(P.384)
Brady then asserts: “…in the United States business is still trying to ‘sell itself to the public’ while in Germany this is no longer necessary—it has sold the public to itself, and those who do not believe, who do not accept, and who do not conform are branded as ‘traitors’ to the state and treated accordingly.” (P. 384)
I submit that the corporatocracy of the United States has “sold itself” unequivocally to the American people, and the Bush II administration is putting the finishing touches of institutionalized fascism on the society—a society that has little sense of history and what actually happened in Germany in the 1930s.
If you have any doubt left, you must watch Aaron Russo’s fabulous documentary “America: From Freedom to Fascism.”(5)
17. You have indicated that you see a connection between the 2000 Presidential “election” and the events on 9/11. What does that entail?
One point I made in the book is that 9/11 is not necessarily the most significant event of the twenty-first century because I believe that the 2000 presidential election was. I believe that it was unambiguously a coup d’etat, and that that coup was completed with the orchestration by the U.S. government of the 9/11 attacks. Thus, the two events are inextricably connected.
You know, on the night of the 2000 elections I was teaching at the university in Juarez, Mexico, and I was watching the election returns on TV in the faculty lounge, quite appalled at what I was witnessing. Then one of my colleagues, a friend and a Mexican national, playfully but seriously said to me, “It looks like you Gringos are living what we Mexicans have been living for decades—dirty elections that have nothing to do with how the people actually voted.”
Very soon on my site (www.carolynbaker.org) I will be reviewing the book 9/11 And American Empire: Intellectuals Speak Out(6) which is one of the best examinations of 9/11 in the past year. A chapter at the very end “Parameters Of Power In The Global Dominance Group: 9/11 & Election Irregularities in Context” by Peter Phillips, Bridget Thornton, and Celeste Vogler, superbly connects the dots between this administration’s usurpation of power illegally and “The New Pearl Harbor” of 9/11. Overwhelming evidence of every kind points to the orchestration of the attacks by the Bush administration, and on this point, most Americans cannot and will not allow themselves to demand a deeper investigation because they are terrified of what such an investigation may uncover: that their government—yes, that government that is supposed to be the most liberal, uncorrupted, pure- as- the -driven -snow entity on earth, murdered 3000 of its own people as a pretext for endless war and global dominance.
Thinking critically and analytically demands that we penetrate the veneer of the “official” story of that event; otherwise we will not understand the current occupation of Iraq, the likely escalation into Iran and Syria, or the plethora of resource wars provoked and carried out by the United States that will ensue for the remainder of this century and beyond.
18. You are one of a growing number who now calls the United States an “empire”. What do you say to those who claim that we US Americans only use our military might to maintain a peaceful, free, and orderly world?
Well, don’t take it from me, take it from history! In my book is a marvelous article by Zoltan Grossman, a professor at Evergreen State College, Olympia, Washington in which he presents a detailed and very well-documented list of all U.S. interventions internationally in our nation’s history. It is one thing to have heard about this, and it is quite another to actually see the list with one’s own eyes. It appears almost infinite. And history absolutely does not confirm that these interventions served to maintain a peaceful, free, orderly world. Quite the contrary!
But that’s empire on the geopolitical front.
The consequences of empire are always a draining and hollowing out of the domestic economy as a result of endless military adventures abroad. Catherine Austin Fitts writes and speaks of this hollowing out as “slow burn” in which the nation’s economy and infrastructure are gradually eviscerated as a result of war and corporate privatization, or as she says “piratization’ of resources at home and abroad. An honest examination of the current U.S. economy—an examination that looks beyond the rosy picture of the financial pages of U.S. media, reveals that this is precisely what is occurring, and precisely why the American middle class and working people are working themselves to death but have nothing to show for it—or as a friend of mine says, “I’m working my tail off, but I feel like I’m on welfare.”
Another result of empire is that it must make war not only on the rest of the world but on its own citizens. American citizens are now the targets of unprecedented totalitarian surveillance in the United States, and like the frog placed in a pan of cold water who feels quite comfortable; the heat is being turned up daily and will continue to rise until the contented inhabitant of the cold water is cooked.
19. How has your friendship with “conspiracy theorist” Michael Ruppert affected your academic career and reputation?
Well, first of all, Mike would say that he doesn’t deal in conspiracy “theory” but deals only in conspiracy fact. Mike’s research has been pivotal in my political awakening in recent years. His writing, speaking, and research are superb and impeccably documented. In my opinion, he has written the definitive book on 9/11, Crossing the Rubicon, and while I believe that physical evidence on 9/11 is important even though it has all been destroyed, Rubicon provides us with indisputable evidence of motive, means, and opportunity regarding the atrocities of 9/11.
And by the way, ALL theories of 9/11 are conspiracy theories. The greatest conspiracy theory ever devised is the premise that 19 Arab males under the direction of Osama bin Laden hijacked four airplanes and flew three of them into the World Trade Center and Pentagon. Once we understand that all theories of 9/11 are conspiracy theories, then we have to decide which conspiracy theory, based on a thorough examination of the evidence, we will embrace.
20. Are you still affiliated with Michael’s From the Wilderness website?
From the Wilderness, of which I was the last Managing Editor, went out of business late in 2006. I link to the FTW archives on my website(7) and maintain a site that is extremely current with breaking news and trends, as well as offer a free subscription to my daily news service in which I email the most current stories from websites people may not know about or have time to visit.
21. Catherine Austin Fitts, a former Wall Street banker and Assistant Secretary of Federal Housing Commissioner at HUD under Bush I, wrote the foreword to your book. Catherine is now a strident critic of the Empire and a strong supporter of Cynthia McKinney. She cites you as a guiding influence in her profound conversion. How much influence did you have in her metamorphosis?
I believe that I have had a great deal of influence in Catherine’s understanding of history, but her “conversion” as you say, began long before she met me in 2002. Catherine’s story is extraordinary, and as a result, she cannot possibly be considered a conspiracy theorist because she has lived through an enormous conspiracy by the U.S. government to destroy her. I strongly urge folks to not only study her website at www.solari.com but also her newer site at www.dunwalke.com which she constructed while I was writing my book and which she constructed with my book and history classes in mind. The latter site documents the extent of U.S. government and corporate corruption during the past fifty years.
And by the way, I would like to add that one of the topics I offer to my recent American history students for research and an end-of-semester oral presentation is: MOST AMERICANS BELIEVE THAT THE U.S. GOVERNMENT, UNLIKE THE GOVERNMENT OF MEXICO, IS NOT CORRUPT. DO YOU AGREE OR DISAGREE? WHY? EXPLORE THE REALITY $59 MILLION MISSING FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND DEVELOPMENT (H.U.D.) AND $1.3 TRILLION MISSING FROM THE PENTAGON.
Catherine’s story and research profoundly inspired me to include this as one of the topics of research and oral presentation. As I mentioned above, many of my students have their roots in Mexico, where they and most Americans presume the worst corruption on earth exists. Without exception, however, I have never had a student, with roots in Mexico or otherwise, who completed the assignment and did not overwhelmingly conclude that the U.S. is one of the most corrupt nations on earth.
22. You have impacted me positively as I have been awakening from my corporate media-induced slumber over the last few years. Care to speculate on how many others you may have truly enlightened along the way?
I’m honored and humbled to have impacted you, Jason.
I don’t like to apply numbers to the people who have been exposed to my classes or writings. One of the unfortunate aspects of being a teacher of any kind is that unlike being a psychotherapist, one does not always get to see progress in the moment. A student may take my classes and yawn his or her way through, not appearing to be deeply affected by anything he or she heard there. Yet years later, a light bulb may go on, and much of what I said in class is recollected by the student. That very thing has happened on a number of occasions as students have contacted me years later to relate such an experience. But if I make a difference in only one person’s life, I will have served my purpose on this earth.
My passion today is getting information out into the world because if I believe nothing else, I believe—I know, that knowledge is power. How can we create options to navigate the daunting future ahead of us if we do not have information?
Therefore, I am pleased to announce many positive changes occurring on my website in the coming months. We are beginning to feature pivotal articles by talented writers who will offer the best in writing and research. Other changes are in the works as well, and I invite everyone reading this article to visit us and become a news service subscriber.
Incidentally, today, I received the following comment on my book:
I had to comment on your book. I purchased it recently and once I opened it, I read it cover to cover – it’s that compelling. As a ‘baby boomer’ who experienced doubts about the JFK assassination, researched conspiracies, protested the war etc., this book was a must read. It provides a cogent approach in weaving together seemingly disparate and disjointed historical events into a definitive context – one in which the American public has been repeatedly lied to and led like ‘sheeple’. Hopefully, research like this will raise consciousness of awareness and will stem the tide of inequities and lies.
Keep up the great work. I would recommend this to anyone.
—Dennis from Texas
You see Jason, not everyone in Texas is jaded!
23. In closing, I note that the introduction to US History Uncensored: What Your High School Textbook Didn’t Tell You would seem to indicate that you are encouraging history instructors to incorporate your book into their curriculum. In today’s increasingly academic environment (which is increasingly subject to over and covert oppression of “alternative” or “subversive” viewpoints), how could a text like your proliferate?
I have no illusions that my book will become a “best-seller” in academia, but some professors may want to use it supplementally or as the foundation of their teaching. I think the best way to test its usefulness is simply to use it and see what happens. If an instructor wants to generate discussion, it is guaranteed to assist that process.
I also believe that the academic experience can generate both positive and negative results. Sometimes we emerge from academia with constricted notions about what it means to be part of academia—how we “should” think, how we “should” teach. I notice that many academics are terrified of being called a conspiracy theorist which is one reason that I so admire the individuals who participated in the writing of 9/11 And American Empire: Intellectuals Speak Out.
In recent years I have taught a course in the Education Department on academic excellence in addition to my history courses, and one section of the course addresses critical thinking. I have incorporated into that section of the course a segment on 9/11 and created a critical thinking project on the official story of 9/11. The project certainly revealed to me on the deepest level why students are fearful of knowing the full extent of the evidence regarding the event, and in the process, I also learned how fearful some instructors are of being accused of being labeled nut-jobs for questioning the official story.
So I would say, use my book and tear it to pieces, but use it!
In conclusion, thank you Jason for giving me this opportunity to share more of who I am and what I do.
Carolyn, on behalf of those who will read this piece and myself, I thank you for taking the time to provide such insightful commentary.
I also want to express appreciation for your stalwart efforts to enlighten people.
While food is fairly abundant here in the United States, many of us suffer varying degrees of chronic spiritual malnutrition. Truth is essential to the well-being of our souls, yet it is woefully scarce in the lives of US Americans.
Carolyn, may you continue to follow the noble path blazed by the Religious Society of Friends in the 18th Century as you speak truth to power….
And to the rest of us!
CAROLYN BAKER, Ph.D., is an adjunct professor of history, an author, and former psychotherapist. Her lastest book is U.S. HISTORY UNCENSORED: What Your High School Textbook Didn’t Tell You.
Jason Miller is a wage slave of the American Empire who has freed himself intellectually and spiritually. He writes prolifically, his essays have appeared widely on the Internet, and he volunteers at homeless shelters. He welcomes constructive correspondence at email@example.com or via his blog, Thomas Paine’s Corner, at http://civillibertarian.blogspot.com/