postwar american

How to End Crony Capitalism

The largest corporations and richest people in America – who donated billions of dollars to Republican candidates the House and Senate in the 2106 election – appear on the way to getting what they paid for: a giant tax cut.

The New York Times reports that business groups are meeting frequently with key Republicans in order to shape the tax bill, whose details remain secret. 

Speed and secrecy are critical. The quicker Republicans get this done, and without hearings, the less likely will the rest of the country discover how much it will cost in foregone Medicaid and Medicare or ballooning budget deficits.

Donald Trump has been trashing democratic institutions – the independence of the press, judges who disagree with him, uncooperative legislators – while raking in money off his presidency. But don’t lose sight of the larger attack on our democracy that was underway even before Trump was elected: A flood of big money into politics.  

Lest you conclude it’s only Republicans who have been pocketing big bucks in exchange for political favors, consider what Big Tech – the industry that’s mostly bankrolled Democrats – is up to. 

It’s mobilizing an army of lobbyists and lawyers – including senior advisors to Hillary Clinton’s campaign – to help scuttle a proposed law requiring Google, Facebook, and other major Internet companies to disclose who is purchasing their online political advertising.

After revelations that Russian-linked operatives bought deceptive ads in the run-up to the 2016 election, you’d think this would be a no-brainer. But never underestimate the power of big money, whichever side of the aisle it’s aimed at. 

Often, it’s both sides. Last week The Washington Post and “60 Minutes” reported that Big Pharma contributed close to $1.5 million to Democrats as well as Republicans in order to secure enactment of the so-called “Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act of 2016.”

This shameful law weakened the Drug Enforcement Authority’s power to stop prescription opioids from being shipped to pharmacies and doctors suspected of taking bribes to distribute them – a major cause of the opioid crisis. Last year, Americans got 236 million opioid prescriptions, the equivalent of one bottle for every adult.

Overwhelming majorities of House and Senate Democrats voted for the bill, as well as Republicans, and President Obama signed it into law.

There you have it, folks. Big money is buying giant tax cuts, allowing Russia to interfere in future elections, and killing Americans. That’s just the tip of the corrupt iceberg that’s sinking our democracy. 

Republicans may be taking more big money, but both parties have been raking it in. 

Average Americans know exactly what’s going on. 

I just returned from several days in Kentucky and Tennessee, both of which voted overwhelmingly for Trump.

A number of Trump voters told me they voted for him because they wanted someone who’d shake up Washington, drain the swamp, and get rid of crony capitalism. They saw Hillary Clinton as part of the problem.

These people aren’t white nationalists. They’re decent folks who just want a government that’s not of, by, and for the moneyed interests. 

Many are now suffering buyer’s remorse. They recognize Trump has sold his administration to corporate lobbyists and Wall Street. “He conned us,” was the most polite response I heard.

The big money that’s taken over American politics in recent years has created the biggest political backlash in postwar American history – inside both parties.

It’s splitting the Republican Party between its large corporate patrons and a base that detests big corporations and Wall Street.

Trump is trying to straddle both by pretending he’s a champion of the working class while pushing for giant tax cuts. But if my free-floating focus group in Kentucky and Tennessee is any indication, the base is starting to see through it.

Which you might think creates a huge opportunity for Democrats heading into the 2018 midterms and the presidential election of 2020.

Think again. Much of the official Democratic Party is still in denial, continuing to debate whether it should be on the proverbial “left” or move to the “middle.”

But when it comes to getting big money out of politics and ending crony capitalism, there’s no right or left, and certainly no middle. There’s just democracy or oligarchy.

Democrats should be fighting for commonsense steps to reclaim our democracy from the moneyed interests – public financing of elections, full disclosure of all sources of political funding, an end to revolving door between government and business, and attempts to reverse the bonkers Supreme Court decision “Citizens United vs. the Federal Election Commission.”

For that matter, Republicans should be fighting for these, too.

Heres’a wild idea. What if the anti-establishment wings of both parties came together in a pro-democracy coalition to get big money out of politics? 

Then it might actually happen.  


Patton Museum of Cavalry and Armor Part 2

1) M1A1 Abrams. American third-gen MBT named after General Creighton Abrams. Highly mobile, the Abrams is designed for modern armored warfare and tank-to-tank combat. Notable features include the use of a powerful multifuel turbine engine, the adoption of sophisticated composite armor, and separate ammunition storage in a blow-out compartment for crew safety. The M1 Abrams entered U.S. service in 1980, replacing the M60. The M1 remains the principal main battle tank of the United States Army and Marine Corps, and the armies of Egypt, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Australia and Iraq. The M1A1 upgrade began production in 1985 and continued to 1992, adding a pressurized NBC system, a rear bustle rack for improved stowage of supplies and crew belongings, redesigned blow-off panels and new M256 120 mm smoothbore cannon.

2 & 3) XM1 Abrams. American limited production prototype for the M! Abrams MBT. After the MBT-70 program was cancelled, as well as the iterative XM803, funds were reallocated to the XM815, renamed later XM1 Abrams. This new program reused most of the XM803 features but again, in a simpler and cheaper way. The need to eliminates the costliest technologies from the failed MBT-70 project, defined those used in the new tank. In June 1973, Chrysler and GM were awarded the contract to built prototypes of the new tank designated M1, handed over to the US Army for trials in February 1976. The first batch of M1s, before standardization, were still designated XM-1s, as Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) models.

4 & 5) M52A1. American 105mm SPG based off of the M41 Walker Bulldog light tank’s chassis. Development began in 1948 and was known as the T98 Howitzer Motor Carriage and entered service in 1951. Total production amounted to some 541 vehicles and the M52 saw extensive use during Vietnam and remains in service with some armies to this day. This M52A1 was donated by the Army in 1965

6) XM551 Sheridan. American prototype for the M551 Sheridan light tank. In the immediate post-World War II era, the US Army introduced the M41 Walker Bulldog into service to fill the role of a light tank. The lifespan of the M41 was fairly short; at 25 tons it was considered too heavy to be a true light tank, and had a rather short cruising range. With the appearence of the Pt-76 amphibious tank, the prototypes in development were scrapped and the XM551 begun. The XM551 would turn into the questionably useful M551 Sheridan and serve in Vietnam. This Sheridan was acquired by the museum from Army Material Command at Rock Island, Illinois in May 1971/

7) M4A3E8(76)w HVSS. American medium tank of WWII, the M4A3(76) HVSS upgraded the standard M4′s main gun to a more powerful 76mm cannon and Horizontal Volute Spring Suspension. This new suspension allowed for greater mobility as well as heavier armor. The vehicle was mass-produced beginning in late March 1945, with a total of 4542 the М4А3(76)W tanks with both suspension types manufactured.

8) M7B1 Priest. American SPG of WWII. Witnessing the events of the war, U.S. Army observers realized that they would need a self-propelled artillery vehicle with sufficient firepower to support armored operations. Lessons learned with half-tracks also showed that this vehicle would have to be armored and fully tracked. The result was the Priest, based off of the M3 Lee chassis, mounting an open superstructure and a 105mm gun. In addition to WWII, the Priest would fight in Korea with UN forces, and with Israel in the Six-Day War, War of Attrition and Yom Kippur War. The M7B1 variant uses the M4A3 Sherman chassis instead of the M3 Lee.

9 & 10) M41 Walker Bulldog. American postwar light tank that saw limited service in Korea and Vietnam. Designed to succeed the M24 Chaffee. While the Chaffee was a success, its main gun was not effective enough against well armored opponents. Although the primary mission of a light tank was scouting, the U.S. Army wanted one with more powerful armament. The M41 was the solution, thought it did not exactly fulfill the role of a light tank, and rather fit somewhere inbetween a medium and light tank. While the M41 was an agile and well armed vehicle, it was also noisy, fuel-hungry and heavy enough to cause problems with air transport. In 1952 work began on lighter designs (T71, T92), but those projects came to naught and were eventually abandoned.

Artist of the Day

Frank Stella

Effingham II
Flourescent alkyd and epoxy on canvas
635 ½ × 132 in
1614.2 × 335.3 cm

Frank Stella, an iconic figure of postwar American art, is considered the most influential painter of a generation that moved beyond Abstract Expressionism toward Minimalism. In his early work, Stella attempted to drain any external meaning or symbolism from painting, reducing his images to geometric form and eliminating illusionistic effects. His goal was to make paintings in which pictorial force came from materiality, not from symbolic meaning. He famously quipped, “What you see is what you see,” a statement that became the unofficial credo of Minimalist practice. In the 1980s and ‘90s, Stella turned away from Minimalism, adopting a more additive approach for a series of twisting, monumental, polychromatic metal wall reliefs and sculptures based on Herman Melville’s Moby Dick.
courtesy of


Ad Reinhardt, How to Look: Art Comics

I wrote in 2011: “It frustrates me to no end that there isn’t an easily available collection of Reinhardt’s cartoons. They’re so brilliant.”

And lo’ and behold! Now there’s a collection. More about ‘em:

…long before Roy Lichtenstein and Robert Rauschenberg took shots at the high-mindedness of the postwar American avant-garde, Ad Reinhardt (1913-67) was blasting away from a privileged vantage in the middle of the fray. A wise-cracking contrarian whose penchant for dialectics would not allow him to hold any position he could not later undermine, he was a consummate art-world insider and a fierce defender of abstract painting. At the same time, his ingrained populism made him suspicious of the rhetoric and institutional power brokering that supports any art elite.

His visual and verbal assaults took their most lasting form in a series of cartoons and satires, done mainly for the liberal New York newspaper PM in the late 1940’s and for ArtNews in the early 1950’s…

The critic Thomas Hess wrote in a booklet for the 1975 edition that Reinhardt’s lampoons are ”like precious containers of the air of New York, 1946-61.” They are also like core samples from the artist’s brain, revealing a side of his personality not apparent in his canvases. Using cutouts from 19th-century illustrated books and periodicals, as well as line drawings and hand-drawn dialogue balloons, he concocted a style in which the surrealism of J. J. Grandville and Max Ernst was inflected with a tough Queens accent.

One of his recurring panels shows a stick figure pointing at a canvas of crisscrossed lines and asking, ”What does this represent?” The indignant painting, having grown eyes, a mouth, arms and legs, punches him in the jaw and answers with an even more aggressively New York question, ”What do you represent?’”

In the 16-panel ”How to Look at Art-Talk,” from 1946, he continues the question-answer format. ”Isn’t abstract art ‘just a design,’ just ‘composition,’ just an empty bucket into which one can drop some subject matter?” asks a young woman wearing a blindfold. To which her companion answers bluntly, ”No.”

Really beautifully produced book.

“In this beautifully paced show, hung by the Whitney curator Barbara Haskell, Davis’s earlier phases prove most absorbing. They detail stages of a personal ambition in step with large ideals.” — The New Yorker’s Peter Schjeldahl on Stuart Davis: In Full Swing

Stuart Davis (1892–1964), Egg Beater No. 2, 1928. Oil on canvas, 29 ¼ × 36 ¼ in. (74.3 × 92.1 cm). Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth. © Estate of Stuart Davis / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

[Bertie Wooster’s] native language, so to speak, is man-about-town English as it was spoken in London before 1914, a blend of clichés, public schoolboys’ tags, and upper-class slang, curiously enriched by a good deal of postwar American slang. In emergencies, however, Bertie can draw on the linguistic resources of his valet, Jeeves, who reads Spinoza in his spare time and has memorized all the treasured bits of English poetry.
—  Edward L. Galligan, “P.G. Wodehouse Master of Farce”

The most recent rotation of American Legends: From Calder to O'Keeffe is full of work to discover, including this 1977 sculpture by Roy Lichtenstein, Gold Fish Bowl. To illustrate the rich dialogue between America’s pre- and post-war art, Lichtenstein’s work is installed alongside paintings by Edward Hopper.


December 15th 1939: Gone With The Wind premieres

On this day in 1939 the iconic film ‘Gone With The Wind’ premiered in Atlanta, Georgia, in the United States. It is based on Margaret Mitchell’s 1936 novel and starred Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh. The film tells the epic love story of Rhett Butler (Gable) and Scarlett O’Hara (Leigh) and is set to the backdrop of the American Civil War and postwar Reconstruction in the American South. The film was a commercial success and was critically acclaimed, receiving ten Academy Awards. While some still see it as a great love story, the film has been criticized for its depiction of slavery and attitude towards African-Americans, in particular its defense of the white supremacist Ku Klux Klan during Reconstruction.


Colonel Gail S. “Hal” Halvorsen (born October 10, 1920) is a retired career officer and command pilot in the United States Air Force known as the original Candy Bomber or the “Rosinenbomber” in Germany. He was born in Salt Lake City, Utah. He is best known for piloting C-47s and C-54s during the Berlin airlift (also known as “Operation Vittles”) during 1948–1949.

Shortly before landing at the Berlin Tempelhof Airport in the American sector of Berlin, Halvorsen would drop candy attached to parachutes to children below. This action, which was dubbed Operation Little Vittles and sparked similar efforts by other crews, was the source of the popular name for the pilots — the candy bombers. Halvorsen wanted to help raise the morale of the children during the time of uncertainty and privation.

Halvorsen started by giving a few treats to children watching the planes from outside the Tempelhof base. Wanting to give more, he promised to drop more candy from his plane the next day. Because the planes would arrive nearly every three minutes, the children naturally couldn’t distinguish his aircraft from the others. However, Halvorsen promised to wiggle the wings to identify himself, which led to his nickname “Onkel Wackelflügel” (“Uncle Wiggle Wings”). The other American candy bombers became known as the Rosinenbomber (Raisin Bombers). 

The operation was soon noticed by the press and gained widespread attention. A wave of public support led to donations which enabled Halvorsen and his crew to drop 850 pounds of candy. By the end of the airlift, around 25 plane crews had dropped 23 tons of chocolate, chewing gum, and other candies over various places in Berlin. 

Halvorsen’s actions as the original candy bomber had a substantial impact on the postwar perception of Americans in Germany and are still pointed to as a symbol of German-American relations.

Recs for Fan/Girl/Queer/ Women’s History Scholarship

Disclaimer: I should begin by saying I am *not* a fan studies scholar, but a feminist film historian and so this list of suggestions is not only completely *subjective* but also coming from a women’s history/cultural studies perspective. Although I have respect for pioneering works on fan studies scholarship, the truth is they are mostly written by white males studying white male fandoms; thus my interest in them is limited. That means you won’t find Henry Jenkins, Matt Hills, etc in this list although I recognize their importance. I also tend towards readings that explore lived experiences and historical audience members instead of general analyses of “fan groups.” Alright, that is it. Proceed with queer caution ;)

Fan Studies:

My favorite anthology on fan studies is an oldie but golden: The Adoring Audience. You’ll get your review of major literature and lots of interesting pieces on girls and women’s engagement with mass media (the article about Beatlemania and girls is particularly great).

If you want shorter pieces on contemporary feminism fan topics (online fan communities, fan labor, 50 Shades of Grey, etc) read “In Focus: Fandom and Feminism,” in Cinema Journal (Spring 2015). You can download it for free online. The Summer 2009 “In Focus” section “Fandom and Feminism: Gender and the Politics of Fan Production” is also amazing.

Google what Kristina Busse and Francesca Coppa have published on female fans, LiveJournal, and feminism (and BBCSherlock!). They are really informative and opinionated scholars. I don’t a have a favorite piece by either of them, but appreciate their pioneering work on the field (even if I disagree with Coppa’s reading of Sherlock as ace in the BBC show, she is so very knowledgeable of ethnographic fan research). Busse’s  anthology Fan Fiction and Fan Communities in the Age of the Internet: New Essays is also worth a look. 

Actually my favorite scholarly work on BBC Sherlock are: Fathallah, Judith. 2015. “Moriarty’s Ghost: Or the Queer Disruption of the BBC’s Sherlock.” Television and New Media vol.16, no.5: 490-500, and Greer, Stephen. 2015. “Queer (Mis)recognition in the ‘BBC’s Sherlock.’”Adaptation vol.8 no.1: 50-67. Extra radical, angry points for: Basu, Balaka. 2012. “Sherlock and the (Re) Invention of Modernity,” Sherlock and Transmedia Fandom. Eds. Louisa Stein and Kristina Busse. Jefferson NC: McFarland Press, 196-209.

Still in the feminist “fan” studies grouping but written from an anthropological perspective, here’s the two classics:

Jackey Stacey’s Stargazing, pooling British women about their engagement with Hollywood movie actresses after WWII; and Reading the Romance by Janice Radway, analyzing a group of Long Island women’s relationship with romance novels (can be a bit condescending and elitist at times, but welcome to first wave of fan studies)

Girl Studies and Media:

The classic is Mary Celeste Kearney’s Girls Make Media and her articles are pretty thought-provoking as well (and she’s a lovely lady to boot). 

Look into Angela McRobbie for a cultural studies approaches to bedroom culture and urban girl culture (from 1970s-80s perspective). Also Valerie Walkerdine (film analysis and girl studies from a psychoanalytical perspective), Carol Gillian and Jacqueline Rose (psychoanalytical-feminist theory)

My favorite historical reading on girl’s culture is: Kelly Schrum’s Some Wore Bobbysox: The Emergence of Teenage Girls’ Culture, 1920–1945 but Rachel Devlin‘s Relative Intimacy. Fathers, Adolescent Daughters, and Postwar American Culture is also a wonderful book.

Siân Lincoln is doing some interesting work on these topics too.

Also see: Sarah Projansky’s Spectacular Girls.

and Marnina Gonick’s “Between ‘Girl Power’ and ‘Reviving Ophelia:’ Constituting the Neoliberal Girl Subject.”2009. NWSA Journal vol.18 no .2: 1-23.

Really this list could go forever if it’s not very media-specific.

Women’s History and Early Film:

This is my jam. It is also, historically, a male-dominated field so not many books really entice me.

My near and dear book is Movie-Struck Girls by my friend Shelley Stamp (okay I call her that even though I guess I should say “colleague” and keep some veneer of professional distance but fuck it, it’s Tumblr and we hang out so and I’m not going to John-Watson this anymore–so there, *friend*). It’s so well-written and well researched that–if you ever make it to Tumblr Shelley, here’s my Valentine to you!

Seminal as well are Nan Enstad’s Ladies of Labor and Kathy Peiss’s Cheap Amusements. They both focus on working women’s relationship with the movies in the 1900s-1910s (my decades of predilection) and engage with everyday people, which I love. 

Kathy Fuller-Seeley’s At the Picture Show: Small Town Audiences and the Creation of Movie Fan Culture is also very well-researched.

Richard Abel might be worth a look too. Do it at the library if you can because you’ll be cherry-picking chapters.

(Please remember these people were writing and researching early cinema BEFORE THE INTERNET EXISTED!) There’s a lot of labor and love going into these books.

Specifically on young female fans and early cinema there’s virtually nothing. I am working on it as *we speak* (well, kinda speak). If I tell you any more about this, I will have to kill you.

Queer/Lesbian Studies:

This is my faaaaavorite. Really. Heather Love’s Feeling Backwards: Loss and the Politics of Queer History. Yep, it focus mostly on literature and queer (female and male) authors that were closeted or derided, but it’s written BEAUTIFULLY and it’ll open your eyes to the ways we erase queer voices from history.

Patricia White’s Uninvited: Classical Hollywood Cinema and Lesbian Representability and Terry Castle’s The Apparitional Lesbian: Female Homosexuality and Modern Culture are classics and wonderfully look at how lesbians viewers/readers have tried to find representation in mainstream film and literature for decades.

Laura Horack’s Girls Will be Boys: Cross-Dressed Women, Lesbians, and American Cinema, 1908-1934 if you are interested in cross-dressing and lesbian desire in classical Hollywood. 


Alright, hope this helps and it’ll be enjoyable to peruse. There’s so many more wonderful monographs and articles out there. These are just some highlights and personal favorites. I’m tagging people that might be interested in seeing this on their dash, or asked me for these recs. If I forgot anyone, sorry! Feel free to message me for more recs. I can be a human dispensing machine.


Today for #noirvember, we’re gonna go with literature. More specifically, NON-FICTION. I dunno about you, but many noir fans have asked about what some of the “best” or “must-have” books are about noir. So for this part of the day, we’ve put together a list of some titles that we think are pretty good reading when it comes to noir. There are many many more. But these ones are darn good! So if your pals ask? Send ‘em this list!

  • What’s being said about Goodis: A Life in Black and White, the amazing and bizarre life story of noir’s most mysterious writer - “Philippe Garnier moves through the shadows of Goodis’ life like a dogged private eye and his revelations are surprising and at times surreal.” - Duane Swierczynski, The Blonde and Severance Package    
  • Published in 1978, the first edition of this text assembled scholars and critics committed to understanding the cinema in terms of gender, sexuality, politics, psychoanalysis and semiotics. This edition is expanded to include essays which explore “neo-noir”, postmodernism and other trends.
  • This bountiful anthology combines all the key early writings on film noir with many newer essays, including some published here for the first time. If you enjoy this one (and it’s really a must-have for any noir fan) there are 3 more volumes by the Silver/Ursini team!
  • ”Wonderfully readable: Hirsch is clear, knowledgeable, and concise. He covers a lot of ground, from the European antecedents of noir in German expressionism to the noir-derived work of Scorsese and Schrader in Taxi Driver… . Hirsch and his editors have rightly understood that well-chosen and well-printed stills are vital to a book of this kind, and the product justifies their concern. The Dark Side of the Screen puts illustrations where they belong and where they advance the argument—it’s a visual as well as literary pleasure.” — Martin Jackson, Cineaste
  • “Rode can honestly be called an expert on the film noir genre. He is one of our most important film historians and it can be safely stated that anything this man writes is gold…a total must-read. Rode is a natural writer with a genuine love of film…absolutely riveting…I highly recommend this book…well-written, long overdue biography…a first-rate book…sensational…Alan is a highly knowledgeable researcher with a good eye for what’s important in a biography and an excellent, readable writer who clearly loves film and seeks out his subject’s work to authoritatively discuss it.” –Classic Images
  • “Few cinematographers have had as decisive an impact on the cinematic medium as John Alton. Best known for his highly stylized film noir classics T-Men, He Walked by Night, and The Big Combo, Alton earned a reputation during the 1940s and 1950s as one of Hollywood’s consummate craftsmen through his visual signature of crisp shadows and sculpted beams of light. No less renowned for his virtuoso color cinematography and deft appropriation of widescreen and Technicolor, he earned an Academy Award in 1951 for his work on the musical An American in Paris. First published in 1949, Painting With Light remains one of the few truly canonical statements on the art of motion picture photography, an unrivaled historical document on the workings of postwar American cinema. In simple, non-technical language, Alton explains the job of the cinematographer and explores how lighting, camera techniques, and choice of locations determine the visual mood of film. Todd McCarthy’s introduction provides an overview of Alton’s biography and career and explores the influence of his work on contemporary cinematography and the foreword, written expressly for this edition by award-winning cinematographer John Bailey, explores Alton’s often contentious relationships with colleagues, the American Society of Cinematographers, and the movie industry itself.” - UC Press
  • “Shot in stark black and white, dressed in negligees and toting pistols, the dangerous dames of film noir boldly linger in our minds. In this entertaining and often insightful look at noir stars Marie Windsor, Audrey Totter, Jane Greer, Ann Savage, Evelyn Keyes and Coleen Gray, Muller recreates 1950s Hollywood, the heyday of film noir and B thrillers, and reports on these actors today. Combining interviews with his subjects, a comprehensive knowledge of Hollywood and an astute analysis of the social, political and economic pressures of the industry, Muller (Dark City: The Lost World of Film Noir) shrewdly documents the role of women (as characters and performers) in the genre and the industry…The book’s strength lies in Muller’s portraits of these women today; all lead contented and productive lives and, aided by Muller’s fluid narrative style, tell tales shimmering with mystique, absurdity, scandal or poignancy. While covering a specific slice of Hollywood and film history primarily the 1940s and '50s, Muller’s look at these noted female performers is an important addition to popular feminist and film literature.” - Publishers Weekly
  • Wilder made some of the best and some of the most “classic” noir films- Sunset Blvd, Double Indemnity, Lost Weekend. Worth picking up.
  • The real life history of Los Angeles is about as film noir as it gets. SERIOUSLY. This book coulda been written by a crime fiction writer. 
  • “One of the very best film books in recent years… . There are any number of books on noir, but none as comprehensive, as rigorous, as far- reaching as Naremore’s… . It will be the essential work for the field.” - (Dana Polan, University of Southern California)

The story of Jews for Urban Justice, a strongly Jewish-identified New Left group based in the metropolitan Washington, D.C. area, has been written out of the history books. Its existence and the several projects in which it was involved are discussed minimally or not at all in accounts of New Left activities of the 1960s and in histories of postwar American Jewry. Nor does it merit more than fleeting mention in the far fewer texts on the decade’s radical Jewish movement—and this despite the fact that JUJ was the first radical Jewish group of the 1960s. …From the group’s inception in 1967 onward, and increasingly after 1969, JUJ gained not only notoriety but growing numbers of adherents as well, both through the leadership role it played within the National Jewish Organizing Project, which had affiliates across the United States, and through the heightened visibility of its activities after JUJ organized the first and second Passover Freedom Seders, held in the District of Columbia in April of 1969 and 1970. The seders gained remarkable media attention both for their incorporation of black liberation concerns into the Haggadah and for their interracial attendance. The text of the radical Haggadah sold tens of thousands of copies nationwide. 

…Early activism of Jews for Urban Justice addressed what it identified as the indifference of the local Jewish community to racial injustice in the metropolitan Washington area. It all began in the summer of 1966, when a small group of open housing activists set up a picket line in front of Buckingham Apartments, a “whites only” building just outside Washington. Organized by an antisegregationist group known as ACCESS (Action Coordinating Committee to End Segregation in the Suburbs), the activists had conducted similar pickets for more than a year throughout the metropolitan area. Most landlords, interestingly, agreed to meet with ACCESS to discuss open housing practices. However, in this particular instance, Allie Freed, the owner of Buckingham Apartments, would not budge, and when ACCESS turned to her rabbi to ask him to mediate a meeting with her, he insisted “that the business practices of his congregants were no concern of his.” Shocked by this, eight Jewish members of ACCESS leafleted at Washington Hebrew Congregation (Reform), Freed’s synagogue, on Yom Kippur 1966. (Washington Hebrew Congregation was one of the most prestigious synagogues in the capital, and a key symbol of the Jewish community for non-Jewish Washingtonians.) The leaflet named Freed and outlined her “whites only” housing practices, and noted that the rabbi had declined to get involved. The leaflet read in part:

We are here today because we feel that individuals do not have to wait for a law to pass before they choose to do something that is morally right. We have chosen the Washington Hebrew Congregation because the Rabbi has chosen to remain silent and we as individuals, as human beings, and as Jews, are ashamed!

Predictably, congregants were disgusted that the Jewish members of ACCESS were, as they put it, “ruining the High Holy Day services,” and in the weeks that followed, ACCESS was asked by leaders of Washington’s Jewish community not to “wash out dirty linen in public.”

Michael E. Staub. Torn at the Roots: The Crisis of Jewish Liberalism in Postwar America. 2004.

On the day of Hitler’s suicide, a squad of American soldiers found themselves face to face with the eighty-year-old composer and conductor Richard Strauss. Alex Ross reflects on the story of the encounter:

“Why do I find these tales mesmerizing? Perhaps it has to do with the awkward relationship that any child of the postwar American empire has with the old European colossus of classical music. No matter how deeply we bow before it, we feel like intruders, pulling into the driveways of the great composers and threatening them with eviction.”

Photograph by AP.


The Postwar Prosperity Promise by Paul Malon
Via Flickr: