Intellectuals as subjects and objects of violence

by Henry A. Giroux Edward Snowden, Russ Tice, Thomas Drake, Jeremy Scahill, and Julian Assange, among others, have recently made clear what it means to embody respect for a public intellectual debate, moral witnessing and intellectual culture. They are not just whistle-blowers or disgruntled ex-employers but individuals who value ideas, think otherwise in order to act otherwise, and use the resources available to them to address important social issues with what might be called a fearsome sense of social responsibility and civic courage. Their anger is not treasonous or self-serving as some critics argue, it is the indispensable sensibility and … Continue reading Intellectuals as subjects and objects of violence

The teachers strike: An emerging revolutionary ideal

by Henry A. Giroux What the world is witnessing in Chicago as thousands of teachers, staff and support personnel strike is the emergence of a revolutionary ideal. This is an ideal rooted in the promise of democracy — one that challenges corrupt neo-liberal practices, such as giving corporations and markets the right to define the purpose and meaning of public education; opposes policies that systemically defund public education by shifting the burden of low tax rates for the rich, and the cost of bloated military expenditures, to teachers and other public servants; and refuses to support educational reforms that help … Continue reading The teachers strike: An emerging revolutionary ideal

Beyond the politics of the Big Lie

by Henry A. Giroux “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” — Martin Luther King, Jr. The American public is suffering from an education deficit.  By this I mean it exhibits a growing inability to think critically, question authority, be reflective, weigh evidence, discriminate between reasoned arguments and opinions, listen across differences, and engage the mutually informing relationship between private problems and broader public issues. This growing political and cultural illiteracy is not merely a problem of the individual, one that points to simple ignorance. It is a collective and social problem that goes … Continue reading Beyond the politics of the Big Lie

Free speech, war, and academic freedom

by Peter Neil Kirstein To justify American expansionism, presidential war messages frequently contained nationalistic proclamations of American innocence and virtue. President James Knox Polk in seeking war with Mexico on May 11, 1846 as a mandate of the nation’s “Manifest Destiny,” demonized it as a “menace,” lied that it had invaded the United States and argued war was necessary to protect American democracy. “[W]e are called upon by every consideration of duty and patriotism to vindicate with decision the honor, the rights, and the interests of our country.”[1] President William McKinley in asking Congress for a declaration of war to … Continue reading Free speech, war, and academic freedom

Fahrenheit 451 redux

by Henry A. Giroux “The great strength of the totalitarian state is that it forces those who fear it to imitate it…. A violently active, intrepid, brutal youth—that is what I am after… I will have no intellectual training. Knowledge is ruin for my young men.” — Adolf Hitler “They that start by burning books will end by burning men.” – Heinrich Heine Every once in a while events flash before us that might at first seem trivial or commonplace given how in tune they are with the political and ideological temper of the times; but in reality they sometimes … Continue reading Fahrenheit 451 redux