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Tereza Coraggio

Third Paradigm is an out-of-the-box thinktank on community sovereignty and regenerative economics.

We look at how to take back our cities, farmland and water; our money, production and trade; our media, education and culture, our religion and even our God.

We present a people's history of the Bible and a parent's view on how to raise giving kids in a taking world.

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Past Shows


Twilight Zone of the Inaugeuphoria

January 30, 2009

3P-011 Show Information (includes MP3 download link)

Welcome to the eleventh edition of Third Paradigm and the eleventh hour of the US empire. The title of our episode is The Twilight Zone of the Inaugeuphoria. It's been a week of echoes – Martin Luther King one day and Barack Hussein Obama the next, whose inaugural address sounded like King if you gloss over a few veiled threats and a smidgen of war-mongering. In the primary school my daughter watched the address, the way I remember watching the funerals of JFK and MLK. It was the only time we went into the nun's convent, since schools didn't have TV's back then. On my street this week all the neighbors gathered to watch the inauguration and drink champagne at 9 am. I said that I was hoping to soon retire the "Torture is Wrong" sign on my door. Neighbors who I'd lived by for 20 years and had never met said that they cheered each time they went past my sign. The household that threw the party put up their own big sign saying "HOPE." So now torture is on one side of the street and hope is on the other. There's a metaphor for you.

As my daughters reminded me, though, hope is that fragile thing with wings. Put away your BB gun, Mom, just for the day. It was good advice. When Obama finished his speech, there was much honking and blowing of noses. I glanced around the room where some were dabbing at their eyes and others openly crying. It was like we'd all been holding our breath, not daring to believe that something could go right, and had let out a collective sigh of relief. I might have reservations about the events on TV, but the strong and resilient community in that room was awe-inspiring. I decided that my contradictions could wait until tomorrow.

But as Arnold Toynbee said and MLK quoted:

"We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now."


Now that we're in the long hereafter, can I say that I would have preferred a President like Dennis Kucinich, someone who's white on the outside but black on the inside because he identifies with all oppressed people, including Palestinians and Afghanis? On Democracy Now, Amy Goodman quoted an Israeli official who asked for anonymity. He said that the withdrawal started Sunday night to be accomplished in time for the inauguration. Is this a coincidence? Noam Chomsky confirmed that it was not. Is it coincidence that Obama was in Hawaii playing golf, unavailable for comment when the bombing started? How many coincidences does it take to make a conspiracy? How credible was his claim that there was only one President at a time, when it didn't stop him from going to Congress with the economic stimulus package? That was a crisis that demanded immediate action, in his words, but to him Gaza was not.

Environmental justice activist Van Jones told a group of high-school dropouts in New Bedford, Massachusetts: "I love Barack Obama. I'd pay money just to shine the brother's shoes. But I'll tell you this. Do you hear me? One man is not going to save us. I don't care who that man is. He's not going to save us. And, in fact, if you want to be real about this - can y'all take it? I'm going to be real with y'all. Not only is Barack Obama not going to be able to save you - you are going to have to save Barack Obama."

Maybe it's because my daughter's rehearsing the Crucible, but it seems to me that Obama has made a deal with the devil, telling the Israeli lobby, Do what you want with Palestine. Just make sure you're out before I take office." This seems horribly cynical for our bright and shiny new President, but what's the alternative? That Israel's killing spree is consistent with his ethics? To give Obama the benefit of the doubt, maybe this was the only way he could have been elected and it keeps him up at night. Maybe he does need us to save him, to save his soul. We have to be more committed, more unified, more strategic than the Israeli lobby and all of the for-profit lobbies put together. It takes a network to undermine an empire. On inauguration day, in the honeymoon period of the inaugeuphoria, the evidence of that network has never been stronger. It's enough to make you cry.

But also enough to make me cry is realizing that homeland security is running ads on primetime TV. Do your children know what to do in the event of a terrorism attack? It's the Red Scare all over again with schoolkids hiding under desks. But a group of teachers are not hiding under their desks. Clay Burrell is a High School teacher and blogger at posting from Seoul, Korea. His latest post is "I Have a Dream that Obama Will Have A Vision." One of his many daring suggestions is to educate kids about social realities through simulated trauma. He suggests turning the classroom into a sweatshop for a day with parents authentically playing supervisors and imposing the actual conditions. Of course the school day would need to be extended by 11 to 15 more hours.

Another unafraid teacher group is at They embed their curriculum for social change into Mathematics, Science, Literature, and Art. Their book, Reading, Writing, and Rising Up features this poem by Martin Espada:

Jorge the Church Janitor Finally Quits

No one asks
Where I am from,
I must be
From the country of janitors,
I have always mopped this floor.
Honduras, you are a squatter's camp
Outside the city
Of their understanding.

No one can speak
My name,
I host the fiesta
Of the bathroom,
Stirring the toilet
Like a punchbowl.
The Spanish music of my name
Is lost
When the guests complain
About toilet paper.

What they say
Must be true:
I am smart,
But I have a bad attitude.

No one knows
That I quit tonight,
Maybe the mop
Will push on without me,
Sniffing along the floor
Like a crazy squid
With stringy gray tentacles.
They will call it Jorge.

~ Martin Espada ~
From Rebellion is the Circle of a Lover's Hands

That was by Martin Espada and dedicated to my producer Skidmark Bob whose day job is sanitation engineer. The article in Rethinking Our Schools talks about students who justify dropping trash as giving the custodian something to do. Martin Espada was also asked to write a poem for Nike's commercials during the 1998 Winter Olympics. He refused and listed the reasons in The Progressive. Here are some of them:

"I could reject your offer based on the fact that your deadline is ludicrous...A poem is not a pop-tart."

"I could reject your offer based on the fact that to make this offer to me in the first place, you must be totally and insultingly ignorant of my work as a poet, which strives to stand against all that you and your client represent. Whoever referred me to you did you a grave disservice."

"I could reject your offer based on the fact that your client Nike has – through commercials such as these – outrageously manipulated the market, so that even low-income adolescents feel compelled to buy products they do not need at prices they cannot afford."

"Ultimately, however, I am rejecting your offer as a protest against the brutal labor practices you impose. I will not associate myself with a company that engages in the well-documented exploitation of workers in sweatshops..."

Like Clay Burrell, the High School teacher in Korea who advocates simulated sweatshops, Martin makes students see the invisible workers who make their clothes and swab their floors. It bugs me that teenagers have adults as servants – picking up after them, cleaning the bathrooms, preparing their lunches, painting over graffiti, manicuring lawns. Why doesn't school consist of first doing all the chores, maybe on a rotating basis? If a team doesn't do a good job, they're on detail again the next day. How are we ever going to transition to growing our own food, sewing our own clothes, and making our own stuff if we can't even clean up after ourselves?

This weekend a group called Transition Santa Cruz has an event called The Future of Local Food. Saturday is an open meeting day for brainstorming. I'll be batting around ideas for a High School summer camp to be held at the University's Community Sustainability and Agroecology Center aka the farm. We're hoping to trick kids into working hard through the proximity of the opposite sex. It's worked for every church group and cult throughout history, for every overpriced college – why shouldn't we use it too? If you'd like to join the discussion of this or other topics more relevant to you.

We'll break for John Ondrasik of 'Five for Fighting' with What Kind of World Do You Want? – a pertinent question for youth of any age.

[Five For Fighting – What Kind Of World Do You Want]

That was John Ondrasik of Five for Fighting with What Kind of World Do You Want? His website offers youth a place to post videos answering the question. Each time one is viewed, a dollar is donated by sponsors to one of five charities selected by Ondrasik. The sponsors, however, include Safeway, Sears, and the Jewish Community of Houston. The five charities include one for autism, one for alzheimer's, and two to help military families, including providing free wedding dresses. The only one that benefits the world we're attacking is Save the Children – a charity I'm personally skeptical about. Our member of Congress Sam Farr issued his 2008 summary. He states that 11,000 people on the central coast are employed by the Dept. of Defense for a total budget of $800 million annually. Ondrasik's site has raised $271,000 so far, although some of them specify certain charities. I could only find $150 that was specified for Save the Children. At maximum, this is $50,000 to benefit the world's children and $800 million to threaten their existence just on our local payroll.

My middle daughter is taking a videoediting class next semester. I've offered to bribe her if she'll make a video about Iraq, Afghanistan or Palestine and submit it. I'm as shameless as any fundamentalist Christian in using my children to promote my beliefs, but in my case it's a belief in the equal value of all human life.

A vivid demonstration of the world we don't want made me huddle in a corner of the kitchen and sob this week. It was the US college student on Democracy Now talking about the prolonged death of his Palestinian brother after being shot in the leg by Israeli soldiers. I listened to him cry as he described his 18-yr-old brother saying, Father, I'm so cold," while he bled to death and the soldiers prevented an ambulance from coming through. On the other side of the car, where the father was forbidden to go, was the body of his other brother, the architecture student. I couldn't help but think, what if that was my daughter's broken body that I was forbidden to touch even in death? What if my sweet middle daughter lay shivering and in pain while soldiers threatened to shoot me if I tried to comfort her? What if my last daughter was in the country that paid and armed the soldiers, a country euphoric about a new President committed to protecting my daughters' killers? A country where charity extends to the soldier's families and stops there?

I feel like I'm moving in a twilight zone through the inaugeuphoria. I'm also at a loss to know how to respond at my daughter's elementary school. There's a visiting Israeli family whose daughter is friends with my daughter. There are Jewish families that I know to be pro-Israel from previous conversations. Having already caused a couple of scenes, I've been talking to a non-Jewish mom when forced to socialize. But Thursday, I heard her tell the Israeli family that they're going to Israel in the spring as tourists. None of them are walking around with their stomachs tied in knots, wanting to scream, wanting to stop the oblivion. How does life go on so unaware? Why is no one talking about this?

Last night, I happened to google my own show and found an article called Terrorists: The Third Paradigm. It was published last July in Arutz Shiva, the Israeli National News. Professor Steven Plaut describes how the families of Arab suicide terrorists collect "survivor benefits" as citizens of the Israeli state, along with the handsome payoffs from Arab terrorism bankrollers. He writes,

"If only Israel were to get serious... Terrorists are not summarily executed in Israel when caught, nor given the death penalty afterwards. Once captured, they are held under resort conditions, with DVDs and air conditioning. The baby-murderer Samir Kuntar ...was allowed to obtain a BA at an Israeli university and to marry while in prison ...Israel's only method for dealing with terror is to ask the terrorist squad leaders who send out the mass murderers in the first place to kindly take action and arrest the terrorist foot soldiers. Israeli leaders have preached for 16 years that pretending war does not exist is the surest path to peace."

Then he gets to his third paradigm:

"Terrorists must be treated under a third, unique paradigm - neither as POWs nor as criminals. Terrorists must be treated inhumanely. They should be denied human dignities, for behaving without human dignity is the very basis for their behavior and agenda. People who murder groups of children are not entitled to any privileges or exhibitions of compassion. They are beyond the pale. They are garbage. Treating them as such makes a hugely powerful statement to the world. We honor those whose values we cherish in myriad ways; let us also exhibit our contempt for those deserving of it."

As people who have just murdered hundreds of children, Israel should watch what it wishes for – judge as you would be judged. Sick as this made me feel, it also helped me make sense of the lack of concern. I realized that this is what my Jewish friends and other Israelis are reading. It's what Obama is hearing. If my friends were hearing the same news I was out of Palestine, the massacre could never have occurred. What we're engaged in is not a war against Israelis or Jewish-Americans or governments or corporations. It's a war of information against ignorance. It's a war of truth, which prioritizes the facts and puts them into context, against propaganda, which blows lesser details out of proportion and omits their context and meaning. Is this willing ignorance? Absolutely yes. So we need to make the truth harder to avoid.

At this point the damage is done and the consequences are still to come. In three weeks, the Jewish people have squandered the legacy of international sympathy that their parents' generation bought with their suffering. They're no longer a race of victims but a race of fellow oppressors. Welcome to the club. But recently, I've read some analysts identifying the Gaza massacre as Israel's crushing defeat. A London-based site called is a source of Middle Eastern news that I haven't seen the likes of in the US. It shows photos of a pro-Hamas rally in Gaza, of Italian fountains dyed red in solidarity, of 170 million in damage to Gazan farms, and of crying Palestinian children. An article by Sami al-Habib is called "23 Proofs of Israel's Defeat in the 23-day War." Among the reasons he gives are the following:

  1. Estimates are that only one leader and 95 members of Hamas were killed, mostly within the first day.
  2. Two Israeli ambassadors have been expelled from other countries.
  3. Pro-Israel Arab countries have lost credibility and pro-resistance countries like Iran and Syria have gained, shifting the balance of power.
  4. Around the world people united with Muslims in anti-Israeli rallies.
  5. The UN Security Council was publicly discredited by the General Assembly and pressured into calling for a ceasefire.
  6. Moderates and family members have been radicalized.
  7. Hamas and armed resistance movements have gained in popularity.
  8. We are likely to see an exodus as Israel, having done its worst, has left its citizens less safe than before. A negative migration could result in a Jewish minority.

At this point, the stories and photos are just starting to trickle in. Global opinion has yet to catch up, and the full consequences will take years to manifest. But a few far-sighted analysts are asking – what happens when a state with nuclear weapons realizes that it's lost? Maybe it's too optimistic to ask what kind of world we want. Maybe we should start by ensuring that there is a world.

This has been Tereza Coraggio with Third Paradigm. Thanks to Skidmark Bob for production and editing. Our closing song is You Found Me by the Frey. Thanks to my daughter Veronica for listening to the lyrics and recommending it, and thanks to you for listening.

[The Frey – You Found Me]