We're having a special Book Salon double-header on Sunday, May 20.
At 1:00, Laura Flanders, the host of RadioNation on Air America, will come by to discuss her new book, Blue Grit: True Democrats Take Back Politics from the Politicians.
Blue Grit is both a love letter and a wake-up call. Like Diogenes in search of an honest man, Flanders travels the country looking for the soul of the Democratic Party. She finds it not among the Sunday morning talking heads or the national party leaders, but in places like Utah, South Dakota, Mississippi and southern Ohio–places where liberal Democrats have grown victorious candidates in less-than-fertile soil. These are the Democrats with blue grit, the ones who understand that "to change people's minds, you have to stir things up. You have to really pick a fight, not pick at it, squirm and flinch."
Throughout the book, Flanders points out that the success of candidates like Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer and Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson is due less to the fine qualities of those candidates themselves than to the hours, days, months and years of work that other people put into energizing, organizing and uniting people. She draws an important distinction between mobilizing and organizing and leaves no doubt that the latter is a winning strategy. I'll say this: anyone who can have her book blurbed by Fran Lebowitz, Chuck D and Richard Viguerie knows something about building a political party.
Then at 5:00, Ilona Meagher will be on to talk about her book, Moving a Nation to Care: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and America's Returning Troops. Meagher is a citizen-journalist for ePluribus Media and the editor of the online journal PTSD Combat: Winning the War Within. The discussion will be hosted by Taylor Marsh.
When Meagher began blogging about the veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who came home with the invisible wounds of PTSD, her first sentence was "I grieve for this generation."
I'm almost 40, and so, grew up in that idyllic time of relative peace and ease in the states. My generation was too young to have to fight in Vietnam, too old (generally) to fight in this war. Although we may have slipped through unscathed, the younger generation now fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan are not. And this affects us all. They are part of our nation's fabric; they are our neighbors; they are our brothers and sisters; they are our co-workers.
When they return, they return to us all.
While the deplorable conditions at Walter Reed have been covered extensively, a less-known but just as serious crisis exists in the way veterans with PTSD are treated–or too often, not treated–by the military and the VA. Meagher documents how their psychological wounds affect not only themselves, but also their families and friends in profound (and sometimes violent) ways.
One other book note: in advance of Chris Hedges' June 3 discussion of American Fascists, check out his lecture "Who Are the American Fascists?" on the WGBH Forum.