Herewith, a bunch of little irritations that loom larger as they gather.
1. The Third Epoch of American Slavery is here, right now, but it has another name. It’s called our prison system. So ventured Mary Valencia Wilson as we discussed the most important TV show you will never see.
As I noted last week, KNPB TV-5 bumped what is arguably Bill Moyers’ most important program from prime time to 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. It included the best discussion of current American race relations I have seen in decades, preceded by two chillingly important bits of history.
“Moyers discussed America’s inherent racism with two historians and promoted a TV show which I hope KNPB will air,” I noted. Be careful what you wish for.
After first airing it on high-definition channels, which only those with expensive new TV sets can receive, Channel 5 did rerun “Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North,” a documentary produced by descendants of the largest slave-trading family in American history. Trouble was, they did not place it on the schedule. Unless you were watching at midnight Saturday, you missed it. Pouring salt into the wound, TV Guide carried a listing that the bumped Moyers show would re-air last Friday in prime time on Channel 5. Instead, the station ran a Moyers program from 2006.
The bumped episode of “Bill Moyers Journal” had an interview with Douglas Blackmon, author of “Slavery by Another Name,” a history of the reimposition of slavery in the deep South from 1880 to just after World War II. Black men were imprisoned for trumped up crimes, then sold to industrial plants and mines where they lived and died under horror movie conditions — the second epoch of American slavery.
The third was pointed out by the amazing Ms. Valencia Wilson, who once marched with César Chávez. Making China look lenient, the United States incarcerates one in four of the world’s prisoners. A disproportionate number are dark-skinned people increasingly performing work for private contractors at slave wages. Meanwhile, our schools starve.
Slavery is alive and well right here on the High Desert Plantation. Las Vegas has long been recognized as the U.S. hub of slavery and underage forced prostitution.
2. Mirror, mirror: At the end of the show you were not allowed to see, “Traces of the Trade” filmmaker Katrina Browne says, “All of us inherit this unfinished business.”
That is exactly the theme of Rev. John Auer’s quarterly retrospectives on the life of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in the 40th anniversary year of his assassination.
A full slate of programs will take place at the venerable First United Methodist Church in downtown Reno on the last weekend of July. This installment will include song, dance, drawing and writing as part of Artown. Links and info at Barbwire.US.
3. BARBWIRE.TV returns to its permanent time slot on Charter cable channel 16 this Tuesday from 2 to 4 p.m. and every weekday thereafter. The live call-in line is 682-4144.
I dwell a lot on the foibles and fables of Gov. Jim the Dim, and recent talk-rock shows have been no exception. Did anyone notice how, in Thursday’s televised address to the state, the guv trashed the 2003 tax hikes signed into law by his fellow Republican predecessor? If those increases were so bad, why didn’t our taxophobic CEO ask the Legislature to repeal them last week as they were forced to destroy state programs, which will result in peoples’ deaths?
5. God save us, because our elected officials apparently won’t. That’s becoming an all-too-familiar refrain. Not to worry. A cadre of zealots who believe in government by the Christian Bible is once again fielding candidates for office right here in River City.
Starting on Oct. 25, 1998, I began warning about adherents of the extremist National Federation of Republican Assemblies (not part of any state’s lower house of elected officials). They believe in theocracy, domestic ayatollahs carrying a cross. Their Web sites have taken down that extremist aspect, but I have the smoking guns.
In a bizarre twist, they seem to have made common cause with the supporters of Libertarian-Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul, who convened a rump state convention in Reno on Saturday. Complete links to past installments on this sect will be linked to the online edition of this column at Barbwire.US. We will discuss this further at Barbwire.TV this week. Tune in, turn on, call in and tell a friend.
6. While we’re on the subject of morality, has anyone asked John Ascuaga if, upon conclusive proof, will he consider returning the stolen millions allegedly gambled away at his club by an addict-embezzler employed by Washoe County government?
If you buy a car that turns out to have been stolen, the original owner or his insurer may take possession even if you were unaware that the dealer was fencing stolen property. He never had good title to pass. The same would seem to apply to other stolen assets, like cash.
Wonder if Washoe County will pursue the matter.
7. Hot news tips: Negotiations between my brothers and sisters at Teamsters Local 533 and the RTC/RIDE bus system resume on Tuesday at the Nugget. Look for some surprises. Up on the Comstock, local residents are chaffing under what they say is increasing petty harassment and intimidation by the Storey County Sheriff’s Department. They have gone so far as to begin a legal defense fund and are looking for lawyers.
Be well. Raise hell.
Andrew Barbano is a 39-year Nevadan, editor of NevadaLabor.com and a member of the Reno-Sparks NAACP. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Tribune since 1988.