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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  January 29, 2012 8:00am-9:00am EST

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find a policy, a single policy on the part of walmart as a corporate entity and the national management that was responsible for all of these various instances of sex discrimination. instead it was individual managers of individual stores, so what joined these cases together? the supreme court decided nothing joined them except the women, except the fact that the .. is going to be very difficult to many of these cases for the individual women to prove their case individually because the statistical evidence might show that a lot of women were discriminated against but it doesn't show that you are one of them. ..
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>> but right now we don't have an alternative, and so dealing with these forms of discrimination that are now the most, the most prevalent and the most serious circle of injustice, civil rights are limited in their ability to make a difference. >> interesting. i've done a lot of these questions. okay, going back to education
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issues, affirmative action, which was originally intended to be about the big picture. where are we now on that? >> well, that's a very big question. >> from a civil rights law standpoint. >> from a civil rights lost hos: template, affirmative action iss legally acceptable in a fairly narrow range of circumstances, but what we see as the legal debate around the affirmative h action, it's done severall interesting things.ings. one, the principles that were at one time understood to be in support of things like integration have now been turned against policies that are designed to integrate workforces, schools and what have you, affirmative action policy. baby goat on a relatively narrow
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idea that the legal entries discrimination and discrimination narrowly defined a from the action, narrowly defined. at it the kit's an instance of the kind of thinking that i am described. that's not tgo say affirmative action shouldn't be controversial, but the precise way in which the laws to come it seems to obscure most of the important questions rather than eliminate them. that's one of myon concerns. we don't make much of a distinction in the popular debate, as result of the legal debate. the leg we don'tal make much of the distention between affirmative action in higher education, between affirmative action and public contracting. these are very good context in which very different concerns may be brought to bear.broughto and one is entirely plausible a sensible person would say they favored one and oppose another, but the public debate now completely obscures those things because they focus on a
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relatively narrow idea of the issues in affirmative action. one other interesting things happened in a affirmative action as result of the law has dealt with the f come is that much ofy the debate around whether or not we should have affirmativeresult action, and particularly inaffi- educat educational context, has been truncated as a result of legal opinions that have said oa there's only, there's basicallyy only one rationale that is acceptable for affirmativeat is action and higher education address diversity. so the diversity, when diversity and almost only diversity was described as the appropriateappr rationale for affirmative action, you had a narrowing ofal na discussion in universities, precisely the place where we would hope to have a robust debate, universities now have tw say its diversity and onlyly diversity. that's why we do it. soy number of other reasons like remedying past discrimination, riveting societal discrimination, those were ruled out by the supreme court for the most part, and i'm over
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supplying a tiny bitcome but as a result, a kind of constructive debate about something that we really need of a robust debatesa about.abou and so the state of the tifirmative action now, thermatc popular conversation about it ir think is an example of rights gone wrong. >> is the issues that the th legislation was too ambiguous, too open ended so that thend courts are been depending on where the political mood is,nd they're interpreting it? inrpreting i mean, is the solution to go back make different legislation that is more specific, with that remedy its? >> in the affirmative actionafft context is that legislation is attacking affirmative action. it's the constitutional principle. so equal protection clause is it what it is, and it is written at
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a very high level of generality, almost inevitable that courts will have to interpret it andabt give it life and substance. but what i'm suggesting issting precisely the courts have interpreted it has been hve hav unfortunate. unfoate in that it's narrowed the debate that we can have about an t important. >> how much of this has to do so with how there was a concerted effort on the part of conservatives to get more conservative judges on alltive a levelsll of the court's?vels? >> certainly that's part of the story, and, but it's not the whole story. so i would say a few things that. one, the court, in the 1960s, liberals have an idea your theyd think many still do, that the courts are naturally the vanguard of social, the courts are going to our last resort in the face of the hostile
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political conversation or political projects. that hasn't been the historic role of the courts but in many ways the progressives, the has progressive jurisprudence of thn warren court was a historicalr a blip, and partners upgraded timt the courts hadn't occupy that will. they were quite conservative. one could see the later court, e the roberts court has returned to form. at at most the court, they are lacking the political process,ls and so to the extent you have a to political -- because politicians all to appoint a federal judge, so they lack the political process but they're not really t distinct from it. andh es that's something that is important to note. but i would also say that it's m not just the conservative efford to take over the judiciary,
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which is of course a natural part of the political process, note what any power of partyo would try to do.political ocess >> right. >> but it's also a narrowing of is theaboutin p social justice,e reliance on courts, the reliance on individual rights that have left us without other options but it's what i want to focus on what i try to focus on in the book. >> changing hearts and minds. the whole new way of thinking about a question primarily in terms of individual and legal entitlements to think of a broad social policy may not involve legal entitlements are individual rights adderall. >> host: is there any
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argument some of these should be reformed or do we just move line for other things? >> some should be reformed. i could have a long list of potential reform proposals. [laughter] that would take a variety. but yes. civil-rights laws could be reformed to address those more repressing forms but some of those are back to the future because they were advance in the '70s either rejected or narrowed with the judicial opinion. but many involved do approach that may trade-off for lack of a better term of individual entitlements of social justice let me give one example. my back to wal-mart comment instead of the focus on individual entitlements we
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had a focus on the laws that try to change the day-to-day practices. we know those that are vulnerable to bias now businesses are not required but they could be incurred in we are encouraging them if you adopt practice is known to reduce by as you could join some immunity from individual lawsuits. we have greater collective justice for those who could not prove their lawsuit against wal-mart would be better off if colmar were encouraged to have practices less likely to buy as. and in order to encourage them to do that they could enjoy the civil-rights case. that is on possible i.d.'s. >> host: it is interesting on one hand to address a
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more complicated problems to be at we're also in the middle or in the beginning and middle of the at gay-rights civil rights legislation. can you talk about the defense of marriage act had you see this play into these issues that we talk about? >> one thing to note is the gay-rights struggle is part of social injustice the bigotry over discrimination, that has not gone away with minorities and women but it is a smaller part of the problem. -- of louis -- lesbians it is the largest part of a problem. as an example of that, the civil-rights approach is
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appropriate and remarkably effective. the civil-rights movement will remarkably be effective from over discrimination much more effective than many people expect it. particularly in the area of public accommodation the laws that fell very quickly and much less than people thought and for the first generation bias the conventional civil-rights model is a good thing. that is where we are with those of the issues that are currently facing the gay-rights struggle. they could be second generation and issues also right now the focus is on the form of the overt bias. >> host: it ties into your book that the senate judiciary committee just repealed but they don't think that they can pass
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that to the general senate. been no that they can't sew up the same time we have others coming to the judiciary system. how do see that two different process and how they can help? which would be more effective? >> a complex question but on the one hand litigation could inspire the legislative change and so for instance a conventional way to think about brown v. board of education the civil-rights act of 1964 that brown sparked the change to make fat act possible but it is important to note that civil-rights act was necessary to effectuate brown, a very little happened in those years between brown and the civil-rights act of 19642 tide funding for syria's efforts of desegregation.
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also important to note to that achieved through legislation in the minds of many had greater legitimacy than those achieved in the court. when social change is achieved through the courts, the argument is always available for the a legitimate intervention for the political process. the will of the people when it is achieved through legislation that is not available and as we see already, gay-rights advocates thinking hard of the trade-off and what is better to win in the way of massachusetts through litigation or the way they did in new york through legislation and in new york there are doing our victory has greater legitimacy coming to the political process. >> host: right.
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so interesting. knu talk about class division and how these might be affecting civil-rights ideas and issues? >> absolutely. one of the most important and overlooked problems in thinking of contemporary civil-rights. increasingly, the division of up for class and middle-class middle americans has grown so stark that it is fair to say the kind of injustices that the relative the privilege have our different not just from degree but from those that the underclass face. as a result those civil rights laws that want them to gather -- together both misdiagnose a problem but the kinds of regional
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justices are much more likely to be subtle, take the form social snubs, invisible impediments to career advancement. but with the problems of the underclass largely the result of isolation. poverty poor public service and high crime neighborhoods. increasingly we need different solutions and fixing the problem for the underclass requires investment in the under class community better schools in reform to the criminal justice system for prosecutorial misconduct and changes to drug laws that are responsible for most of the disparity of incarceration for on the other hand, the changes to address the problems that those face better like the
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wal-mart context. there is very different problems it is not all the usable to lump them together into the category of discrimination. >> host: we will have to close unfortunately it is such a wonderful conversation. i was thinking when i was reading your book from the martin luther king's letter when he talks about we're caught in the inescapable network of mutuality, of whatever affects one directly affects us all indirectly. and your work is so cognizant at these levels for the individual to be a part of the larger whole and it is such an important conversation your emulating and i think you have written this book thank you for joining us. [applause]
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>> host: would you tell us your opinion regarding the judicial opinions of clarence thomas? [laughter] i will tell you a little bit. clarence thomas opinions i
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can only talk about the narrow range there are so many of his jurists prudence on a number of levels but particularly those involving the strong who libertarians of malcolm x and the same opinion that very often, for instance, with the affirmative-action cases to say it is insulting someone would think the only way blacks could get an equal education is to be in the same room with whites. almost pulled directly broke the same time one of the most strident free-market conservatives on the course, that's the did some things that characterizes
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most of the clarence thomas discussion about race. it will not surprise you to hear of the jurisprudence of that race and i don't agree with the consistent thought it is impossible to tell the difference between the nine discrimination they're all forms of racial classification and should be treated with equal contempt. the view that i plush throughout the book is possible to tell the difference between the nine forms and the jobs of judges to evaluate these conflicts in the context in anyone's way. they are called judges for a reason they aren't to make judgment. that maybe hard but that is why repay them. if it were as simple as the people who would finance the simple idea then we could have the computer doing a
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good job that is my strong this point* of disagreement with clarence thomas although there are others. [laughter] >> host: all fares argue racial discrimination is also severely need the strongest laws. -- other authors say we should determine affirmative-action what did your stance? i'm sorry, i can i get some help? [laughter] how can we look? is there an argument that we
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need stronger laws? >> guest: we need stronger laws but also civil-rights are doing not enough and too much at the same time. again with the subtle forms of bias the system reforms we need more but they may not take the form and probably wouldn't those of our conventionally understood but on the other hand,, when the law is applied indiscriminately comment then sometimes it is too much and in many cases as my book is designed to illustrate we do need to say that prohibits ladies' night. it is both it is the end type of problem which is a vexing thinkpad about the contemporary moment. >> host: this is a
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curveball comment on the henry s. storey. is that a civil-rights issue? >> that is a curve ball i don't know if you had a chance to think about that. >> guest: i am aware of the controversy. her resonates because in so many instances, historical a african-americans have been exploited to have their contributions fake and without getting it acknowledgement or credits of there is a sense it is the epitome of that history that includes everything from artistic contribution to the labor and that is why the book resonates. so much.
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yes, it is a civil-rights issue. but it does fall into the category of the issue that does not directly involve discrimination and is said to involve the social structure that a class of people are subject more vulnerable to exploitation of the variety. >> host: a wonderful book. here is another hard one. please tell taka he would change hearts and minds. >> guest: the 1.2 wanted to advance with the book is to think about the social justice struggle from the wide range of perspectives that might not involve individual entitlements or things like that so changing hearts and minds comes into
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that category that right now in many ways advocates for social justice using our hearts and minds perceived into the civil rights narrative so you start off with a narrative and it is a bigoted town. it is the perfect instance but it is ambiguous and a lot of people have legitimate objections to the idea is straightforward civil-rights the you are preaching to the choir. so that says to me a consistent pattern with many are much of the civil-rights agitation of today that we lost the battle to win
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hearts and minds of those. but how to fix that is a complicated question because so many social injustices are not susceptible to a dramatic narrative are susceptible to the narrative of the individual reno has done wrong but instead they are complicated. through statistics and analogies that lead people to flawlessly. that can is the challenge. i don't have a straightforward answer but i do believe that is a challenge to make them more hour to make them come alive to be real without going through the bit to the individual that is a hard narrative to maintain. >> host: have the divide
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and conquer strategy is by the economic elite? darby dunn? [laughter] that i thought that was my time call. are the divide and conquer strategy for the economic elite perpetuated climate for racial characteristics and identification to take on exaggerated her -- importance with the general population? >> guest: a very interesting question. i am not sure about the strategy of the elites but i would say that there are many instances in which civil rights policies have played out and have exacerbated the division between the working class. the example of segregation and busing. one of the things that happened was relatively early on, it was decided by the supreme court that busing could not reach the
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suburban school districts unless they could be found to have been engaged with discrimination involving the traded could not be desegregated within the city because by the time the case got to the federal court it was 85 percent black and the courts held you could not reach the super been districts that could contribute to meaningful desegregation. out one result is the place is for the wealthy live to were and the metropolitan areas were exempt from desegregation. it was the inner cities, the old cities to be engaged where the busing have been and intensified those effects but also made it appear that desegregation and busing were reserved for
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the less well off. so that played a role and resistance to desegregation so the story of the resistance of the desegregation was strongest was the story of racial bigotry but also resentment against the elite and the feeling the white working-class was abandoned by the way to beach. so there are instances that kind of antagonism has been the result may be the unintended result perhaps of the application of civil-rights with poisonous consequences for political dynamics ever since. >> host: what is your
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opinion of the statement, we fought long and hard for immigration. but i tell you harry i have come on the realization that really troubles me. martin luther king to harry belafonte. i don't understand the question i have a great last question that i have one i am not sure that you can address but what about the child civil-rights? >> guest: those are not this civil-rights questions restocking about. >> host: that's is the definition of civil rights could be broad but that is not the subject. >> host: this is the last question. what would you have for
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individuals to exercise their power or position in society on a day-to-day basis despite the more subtle forms? what the people do who want to make a difference? >> i would say focus on the local issues that are closest to you and look for the ways the subtle biases could affect the institutions that you are a part of and the difficult part is very often the practices that are vulnerable to buy as or give rise there also justified for other reasons. and wal-mart, scott store managers have broad discussions to make decisions of criteria that might be a perfectly good strategy to make the
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business conduct themselves but also to be vulnerable to buy as. so then one state of conflict can you do what it takes? even at a cost or when there could be good perfectly neutral reasons to do you are doing now. but most institutions face these questions if they try not to address the problem there could be a cost or a people in trying to address the questions but be willing to do that to take a hard look at your own institution our practices and act if they may be contributing to social injustice. that is what people could do on a day-to-day basis to make a difference. >> guest. >> host: one thing related to that. i have seen cases where individuals might fight for
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entitlements it was tied to racism are sexism and that seemed problematic looking to choose their battles for example, talk about oprah winfrey and then you think she was denied entry but the door was closed. is that a good case she should have fought? but then getting into the larger issues right now the other serious. sir reading a book opens the questions. so one thing you should do is buy the book and read it. [laughter] the makes you think about things you may already have opinions on and opens up the ways that you may connect as an individual to them. thank you so much for coming to >> for more information visit the author's website,
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>> you're watching booktv on c-span2. 48 hours of nonfiction authors and books every weekend. >> william adler recounts the life of labor activist joe hill. next on booktv. joe hill was a member of the industrial workers of the world and he was over his outspoken politics and the many songs he wrote and performed championing workers rights. mr. adler examines joe hill's political life and his death by firing squad in utah for the murder of a salt lake city grocer, a crime the author contends joe hill did not commit. this is a little under an hour. >> welcome everyone. good afternoon. thank you for coming out on this beautiful saturday and joining us. a.q., c-span, who is recording us today, this wonderful event we have at book passage with william adler.
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i am your host and as always i like to begin by thanking all of you for supporting your local independent bookstore. [applause] >> today i'm very pleased to be introducing our very talented author, william adler. author of the land of opportunity and trent will. his work has also been published in a variety of periodicals including "esquire," "rolling stone," and the "mother jones." in addition to our fabulous author we are also very pleased to bring you local folk singer john farmer, the recipient of the 2011 joe hill lifetime achievement award. [applause] william adler is here today to discuss his book, "the man who never died: the life, times, and legacy of joe hill, american labor icon." this is an in depth and extremely well researched
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account of the 1914 murder and conviction of joe hill who may be considered falsely accused because of his connection with the industrial workers of the world. and the man who never died, he presents never before published evidence that strongly suggests that joe hill was, in fact, innocent. gabriel thompson of the book and rail rights, a fascinating and groundbreaking biography. he reviews the life of hill to provide a sweeping portrait of labor activism in the period leading up to world war i. so i think will we begin with john today he would begin, delighting us with some music. welcome, john. [applause] ♪ many people know your welcome to join me. ♪
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♪ life with une ♪ i never died to see ♪ i never died to see. a copper bosses ♪ ♪ they shot you to dive ♪ takes more than guns to kill a man ♪ ♪ joe, didn't died a note ♪ ♪
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♪ ♪ ♪ ♪
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[applause] >> thank you. >> jon fromer everybody. jon, thank you very much. i just want to start by reading a brief section from the introduction, and i want to talk some more about the book and then jon will play more music as well. the introduction is called don't waste any time morning. it was a funeral the lights of
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which chicago had never seen. as early as don to begin gathering at a great singing swarm of humanity. tens of thousands of the city's dispossessed and disappeared. this is a quote. the ghetto, the slums, the lodging of course, the manufacturing districts were buzzing with anticipation. the chicago daily tribune reported that morning. handbills and a dozen different languages had urged attendance at the rights. by 10:00 when the service began, 5000 celebrants, not just the poor but also intellectuals radicals and leftists of many strides including anarchists, union is, socialist, and i was an ordinary nondenominational wage slaves. bums and hopeless jelly of them less than 10% were american "the new york times" sniffed, were packed into every seat and wedged into every cranny along the back and side walls auditorium. it was thursday november 25,
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1915, and unseasonably warm thanksgiving morning. already the temperatures climbed into the '50s and the windows of the great second floor hall were open wide and verse after verse, song after song cascaded outside the blocklong building. outside the westside auditorium at the intersection of taylor and south, a seeming throng, one writer called it a mob of 30,000 people and reported the streets jammed from curb to curb for over a mile and all traffic at a halt, echoed the verses resound from the upstairs hall. as the song built to its final verse, mighty street corrals well to 8% to. workers of the world awaken, rise in all your splendid might, take the wealthy or making, it belongs to you by right. no one will be crying, have freedom, love and health when the grand red flag is flying in
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the workers commonwealth. the grand red flag belong to the union, the industrial workers of the world, a union yes, but it might better be described in its own vernacular, as a loose confederation, hard rock miners and muggers, timber beats, shovel stiffs and straw cats, who trent, sewer hogs and stump renters. these were people with nothing to lose. unskilled transit who swung their bindles on the back, to cities for the promise of work who squandered their last dollars on employment agency cheated him out of jobs, wages and their dignity. who lived in wretched invested bunk houses. sometimes with as many as 500 men packed and stacked like cord wood. these women who labored 12 hours or more daily, seven days a week, and workplaces and unsafe
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and unhealthy as the sleeping quarters and two, when they dare to protest those conditions, were fortunate ones merely fired and blacklisted. the funeral service on that warm thanksgiving day in chicago was testament to the power of song, a power the i.w.w. it recognize right from its start. we have been not, the delegates, we shall be all. wobbly staying in jails and pick up lines and fields and factories and mines, train yards and city streets and hobo jungles. a swedish immigrant named joe hill wrote their songs. not all of them, of course, but it was he said historian who more than any other one writer had made the i.w.w. a seeming movement. the songs were scathing critiques of capitalism, blunt, defined, satirical, rye, cocky and distinctly. but joe hill, the i.w.w.'s
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beloved troubadour of the senate had written his last. six days earlier at the age of 36 he had been silenced, executed a utah firing squad. i was attracted to this story initially as a murder mystery, who done it. because of joe hill didn't do it, a summary thousands of people, hundreds of thousands people committing millions around the world believed at that time in 1915, then i want to find out if possible who did do it. and if he did knew i was curious about why so many people believed he was innocent. so that was my initial impetus. i heard about joe hill many, many years ago. i worked on and off with unions and other nonprofits that were
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associate with labor and heard the song that jon just thinks a wonderfully competent to all on your about joe hill. anthony downes of to have a dozen years ago now i was reading bob dylan's memoir, and in it he devotes three pages to joe hill. he talks a what an influence he'll had been on woody guthrie, and mr. guthrie's influence on future generations of folksingers. pete singer of course was the same generation but dylan and so many others. and he struck me that this was a guy who is the cornerstone of american protest music. and i want to find out more about him. and not just the lessons are the myths of joe hill as expressed in that song, really i wanted to try to separate them, the facts from the fiction because i did know what was true and what wasn't true in that song. so as i say, i started looking at it as a murder mystery, and
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the more i looked at it, the more i read the trial transcript of what exists of the, a lot of it has been missing for 60 odd years now. but also the newspaper coverage. they were for two newspapers in salt lake city, utah, at the time. they all covered this trial extensively. the coverage was widely divergent. you wouldn't even notice the same case reading for papers. nevertheless, that was valuable in itself. sorry, jon. so i wanted to try to put all that together and see what i could find out and look at it as a cold case. but as a begin digging into this case it seemed to me that although it was called state of utah versus joseph hellstrom, which was hills, his americanized name, it really wasn't about utah versus the. it was about us versus them. us was civil society. and then was the radical union,
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industrial workers of the world, which the prosecutor never made any bones about. he wasn't exactly trying to help in this case to get the i.w.w. in his sights and that's who he was expert in fact in his closing arguments, joe hill's murder case, he talked about the importance of convicting hill two, what did he say, a place of liberty against the dark sky of anarchy. that's the way he spoke in this case. and although he talked about the parasites of the i.w.w. and the thugs and savages. so he was dehumanizing and humanizing hill as much more than a murderer because you represent the very dangerous strain in american society that needed to be snuffed out. so what that suggested to me though was that this was a case that was much more than a simple murder case. this was a case, to me that open
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of its panorama on american history. this year that i knew very little about what passing the between a term of the 20 century and world war i. when labor and capital really were at the barricades like never before, or since for that matter, so it seemed that the hill case was a great prism through which to see that. and i was really interested in trying to tell that story through the story of joe hill's life and times. the economy was changing greatly at the onset of the 20 century, just like it is now. this was an era just as jeffersonian, but clearly it wasn't yet on this path to modern industrial capitalism but there was an alternative and that was socialism. and it was viewed not as some un-american subversive plot, but as a legitimate and humane
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detour around the inequities of modern industrial capitalism. and so i want to try to tell that story as well, just a snapshot of it through the case of joe hill. and everything i wanted wanted to look at was the making of myth. how to joe hill become a folk hero? jon, we mentioned earlier, was awarded the joe hill lifetime achievement award from the labor heritage foundation in washington this year, and that there is even such an award is interesting to me. and i wanted to find out what it was about field that inspired this legend making. what interesting things i found was that he was complicit in his legend making. and that's something i i hadn't really thought about before. but i also began to think about how one does become a folk hero in this country. and i thought about other folk heroes, and the first names that popped into my head work jon
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henry and paul bunyan and babe the blue ox, and they seem to mean that hill didn't belong in that category. because as one of his friend said, he earned his mythology the hard way. how did he learn, how did he earn his mythology and it seemed to me that he earned a because of his answer to a profound question, which was if they cause is important enough to live for, isn't also worth dying for? and it was in the answer to that question i think that he began to become a folk hero. so how did he come to answer that question in the affirmative? you have to extend his character and his beliefs, and to do that you've got to study his beginning steps i wanted to study his swedish boyhood and his family origins, which i did, and which i think were important
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to understand the influences. how did he become an activist? and how did he become to write the music that he did? where he developed his sense of humor, which is pretty biting and pretty wicked. and what determined his decision or influenced his decision to emigrate in the first place, and then once you, why do you joined the i.w.w., the radical invalids? so those are all questions that i had, want to try to get to the bottom of, at least as closely as i could in this book. and to start to answer some of those questions anyway, i did go to sweden and alert he came from a family of musical dissidents. his parents really were brought together music in the first place, and they also were united in both i think in their fear and dislike of the state church, the church of sweden, which were
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born into an joe hill's time, and they kept close tabs on everyone and everything. and in a case of joe hill's mother, that was a dangerous thing for her because she had been born out of wedlock, i learned, and the official church record branded her as a horse child, her mother, joe hill's grandmother was a slot. and so right from beginning to have this scarlet letter on her and she was of course not predisposed not to really follow the church teachings it and it was a movement sweeping sweden and, indeed, europe at the time of hill's birth in 1879, and that was a free church movement, a revival burden among, and awaken. they were a month the first to join a movement in sweden, and is actually centered in joe hill's hometown, which was, which is 100 miles north of
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stockholm on the east coast of sweden, the baltic coast. and the church preached the gospel of social justice as opposed to church of sweden. and it was something that hill's family embrace when he was young. he grew up in that church, but began to leave it as he got older because he was in this state church school, began to resent it and really to buck against it. and he grew up in a fairly middle-class home. his father had been a railroad conductor, salaried employee, but his father died when hill was eight years old, and that left his mother with six children under the age of 12, with no appreciable income at all. she do a small widow's pension from the railroad, and that was about it. there were many days when the family went hungry, according to letters that his sister later wrote. sometimes they would find a sack of potatoes on the road and
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dragged him and that's all they would have to eat for days. and so hill went to work himself at the age of 12 and a rope factory. a few years later though he contracted a serious, nearly fatal case of tuberculosis, and it's his first brush with premature death. not his last. he went down to stockholm for some excremental life could be. they didn't seem to be working and, in fact, is given his last rites. somehow came out of it and he returned home, only to see his mother died a short time afterwards. at that point it just turned 21 years old, and the six children decided to sell the family house, split the proceeds, and trend and what his his two older brothers decided to emigrate, and they arrived in the states, in new york, in 1900 to come in the fall of 1902, hill had just turned 23 at the point. when he got here, he apparently
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worked for a year doing odd jobs in new york, claiming spittoons on the bowery and other areas unskilled worker and penny starr to make his way out west, joined the migrant stream and get a ride of odd jobs, for which i don't know exactly what he was doing or where he was for about the next four, six years or so. he was a migrant worker. he didn't leave a lot of breadcrumbs. we don't know at all times when he was. i do know, however, that in 1906 in april he was in san francisco. he was caught in the great quake year and wrote about it, which is how i know he was here. he sent an article to his hometown newspaper, and it was a harrowing first person account of surviving the quake. he talked about slipping through the floorboards in his watching kaus he was staying in, crashing to the basement, got darker to close his eyes. he said some sunday school hymns and he prepared to meet his
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fate, he said. he lives. that was his second brush with death. when he got out of there, he left san francisco like, like so many people do. he went to the northwest to portland, oregon, where he first encountered the i.w.w., the industrial workers of the world where he he joined the union. that would've been in 1908 or so. the following year he went to spokane, washington, were apparently there was work to be had and hill needed were. they all needed work of course. and it was there that the i.w.w. first hit upon the idea of writing songs and using music both as a tool of social protest, as a weapon of social protest and as a tool of organizing workers. so it's an important check and both hill's life and in the history of international workers of the world. what happened was the i.w.w. had been dealing with these private employment agencies, labor
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sharks the cold in there and don't work what you would go in commute by a job for two or $3 from the labor chart and you would be dispatched to someplace in the empire, someplace way outside of spokane. you could go to idaho, you could go to british columbia, you could go to eastern washington or oregon. but invariably when you cannot do what find was that 10 or 2025 and had been hired for the same job, where there was no job. or the job only lasted a week or two weeks. board you out so much to the company after a month or so, or you had to work so many hours, and he deducted so much money that you ended up owing the company money at the end of a month or so. so you find your way back to spokane to the i.w.w. all and you filed a complaint of fraud with them trying to get some of your money back from the labor
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sharks. well, it was fruitless and really counterproductive for the i.w.w. to try to do with each individual claim. so they organized what they call don't buy jobs campaign. and they started so boxing on the streets in spokane, and literally have these corridors -- orator's hop on a soapbox and try to rally all these workers to the cause of boycotting these private employment agencies. and it started to pinch these labor sharks, as they put it, and the labor sharks responded pretty cleverly. they hired the salvation army band to start drowning out the i.w.w. or doors. passionate orators. as strong as these guys were in terms of so boxing, they couldn't compete with the bass drum and horns of the salvation army band. so it was an irritation but it
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also was a revelation to the i.w.w. because it gave them a bright idea of writing their own lyrics to the melodies the salvation army band was playing. [laughter] and it was a great, great idea. and this is where hill and his compatriots in the i.w.w. really came up with that idea of writing songs and using music. the first song that hill wrote for the i.w.w. was a song called the preacher and asleep it is a direct dissertation of the salvation army in what he considered to be its blatant hypocrisy. so jon fromer, please come up and play that would force, if you would. >> need your help on the courts.


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