Interviewing Mickey Z. about his new book, “50 American Revolutions You’re Not Supposed To Know: Reclaiming American Patriotism”
Can you tell ZNet, please, what your new book, “50 American Revolutions You’re Not Supposed To Know: Reclaiming American Patriotism,” is about? What is it trying to communicate?
Patriotism has become a dirty word for many Americans. So I thought: Why not steal it back and give it new meaning? Sort of like what Reagan did with the word “peacekeeper.” Let’s call it “patriotism” when Eugene V. Debs runs for president from his prison cell and gets nearly a million votes. It was “patriotism” that reigned at Stonewall, patriotism when Public Enemy urged us to “fight the power,” and patriotism was everywhere in the efforts of the Bonus Army Dorothea Lange, Food Not Bombs, and Daniel Ellsberg. Today, we see a new “patriotism” in action when families of some 9/11 victims say NO to military intervention and revenge or when a dead soldier’s mother asks the Commander-in-Chief exactly what her son has died for. My book recalls 50 such episodes in American history…episodes any progressive can be proud of.
Can you tell ZNet something about writing the book? Where does the content come from?
I looked for episodes that ran the gamut from political to personal to cultural and beyond. I wanted to create a book that was open-minded enough to include everyone from Helen Keller to Billie Holiday, from Rachel Carson to I.F. Stone. The hardest part was narrowing it down to 50.
What are your hopes for “50 American Revolutions”?
I think it’s crucial to recognize how powerful and pervasive the attempts at indoctrination are in U.S. Outside a very small “radical” community, most Americans are not receptive to positive stories about, say, violent insurrections. However, the same folks who reflexively dismiss such episodes as “anti-American” admire the rebellious spirit of a Katherine Hepburn or William Burroughs or Charlie Parker or Patti Smith. From such admiration can grow a greater openness to challenging the cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all formula being sold to us by corporate pirates. It certainly worked that way for me. Well before I had ever heard of Noam Chomsky or Emma Goldman, I was taken by Jackson Pollock, William S. Burroughs, Patti Smith, and others of their ilk. I found the style intoxicating…thumbing their noses at convention. Without realizing it, I was laying the groundwork for a radical transformation.
“50 American Revolutions You’re Not Supposed To Know: Reclaiming American Patriotism” by Mickey Z. was published by Disinformation in September 2005.
More information at: http://www.disinfo.com/site/displayarticle12641.html or http://www.mickeyz.net.