Clarence Darrow, American Iconoclasts, and Modern Politics

December 19, 2011
by andrewkersten
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Kersten to talk about Darrow on “The Business of Wisdom” with Dr. Alvin Jones, Dec. 20, 2011

Listen along at http://washington.cbslocal.com/show/the-business-of-wisdom-with-dr-alvin/.

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December 12, 2011
by andrewkersten
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Kersten on Milwaukee Public Radio talking about Gov. Walker and Labor

I was on Milwaukee Public Radio this morning talking about Governor Walker and the history of unions in Wisconsin. Here is the link:

http://www.wuwm.com/programs/news/view_news.php?articleid=9601

Keep listening; it is a great series!

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December 6, 2011
by andrewkersten
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A Vote for Newt is a Vote for Child Labor!

A few days before Thanksgiving—a holiday which celebrates among other things kith and kin—GOP Presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich spoke at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. It was there that Gingrich announced that he sees federal child labor laws are yet another quaint, outdated, and in his words “stupid” part of our government. As president, he would push to eliminate those laws so that he could help employers get rid of unionized janitors, replacing them with poor children.

I had a visceral reaction to Gingrich’s words and ideas. I wondered if Gingrich had ever worked as a janitor and if he had sent his children out of the home to work in a job like that. Moreover, I wondered what would happen if the Kennedy School of Government had invited someone as articulate who would argue for protective labor laws. I wondered what Darrow would have told the audience. Continue Reading →

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December 1, 2011
by andrewkersten
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“Tim Tebow is football’s Clarence Darrow” says Huffington Post

Linda Kenney Baden—criminal prosecutor, trial attorney, and sports fanatic—writes in the Huffington Post that “Tim Tebow is football’s Clarence Darrow.” Really?  Baden is referring to Tebow’s amazing football instincts, comparing them to Darrow’s instincts in the courtroom. The problem with the metaphor is that neither Darrow nor Tebow is famous for instincts. Rather, it’s politics not courtroom practices or offensive schemes that make these two important. Tebow’s rise to cultural stardom has much more to do with his religious beliefs, their public display, and his conservative politics. And, as I have argued, Darrow’s importance in American history relates to politics. Further, Darrow’s politics were completely opposite of Tebow’s—as least what I know of Tebow’s politics. If you are looking for a more apt comparison for Tebow, take a look at William Jennings Bryan, who also had good courtroom instincts and whose politics are a better match.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/linda-kenney-baden/tim-tebow_b_1120871.html

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October 31, 2011
by andrewkersten
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Darrow and Occupy America

A few weeks ago, at the dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. national memorial, President Obama stated boldly that MLK would have approved of the Occupy Wall Street Movement. Indeed, he would have! Other cherished ghosts of America’s radical past are also smiling down on those who are protesting monopoly, plutocracy, greed, austerity, unemployment, and the do-nothing attitude of many conservative pundits and politicians: Eugene Debs, Mother Jones, Lucy Parsons, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, Joe Hill, John Reed, Walter Reuther, A. Philip Randolph, Hubert Harrison, Rosa Parks, Henry Demarest Lloyd, Doris Stevens, César Chávez, Victor Berger, Ben Fletcher, Emma Goldman, Bayard Rustin, Norman Thomas, Michael Harrington, Helen Keller, Ella Baker, Dolores Huerta, Thomas Paine, Benjamin Spock, Walt Whitman, Frederick Douglass, Don West, Big Bill Haywood, etc, etc, etc…

And yes, Clarence Darrow, too! Darrow would have relished the chance to speak before the masses. He would have cheered them on, praising their willingness to stand up against these modern Robber Barons whose rapaciousness rivals that of the Gilded Age’s fat cats. And, he would have urged them to project their movement into the political process because voting still matters as do the policies and actions of our politicians. He might have even urged them to think about a third party. As he once said at a gathering of Populists in 1894, “Today the privileged institutions of America, fattened by unjust laws and conditions, boastfully proclaim that monopoly is king, but I think I hear a voice rising loud, and louder from the common people, a voice which says in thunder tones, not monopoly but the People are king, and that these people, emancipated and aroused, will one day claim their own.” Perhaps that day is near.

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October 11, 2011
by andrewkersten
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Oh, For the Love of Money

I am amazed at how long-lived some of the criticisms of Clarence Darrow have been. One common complaint about Darrow was AND is that he took cases for money and would do anything to see that his clients got the best possible deal in court. According to some, Darrow’s desire to get paid and see his clients go free made him not a hero but a sham at the least and a villain himself at worst. I made a promise to myself that if the issue came up again that I would write a bit about it. Continue Reading →

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October 4, 2011
by andrewkersten
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Kersten to Speak on Darrow in Grand Rapids, Michigan

On October 10, I will give a talk about Darrow’s “highly political legal career” at the Grand Rapids (Michigan) Public Library. The event starts at 7 pm and is open to the public.

For more information about the event as well as the Great Michigan Read program (which is focusing on Kevin Boyle’s wonderful book Arc of Justice) see:

http://michiganhumanities.org/programs/tgmr/?page_id=11

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September 24, 2011
by andrewkersten
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Strike of the Millionaires

Republican Majority Leader John Boehner (OH) made a startling and astonishing admission on September 15. In a speech, which was billed as a rebuttal to President Obama’s legislative proposal to create jobs in the United States, dubbed the American Jobs Act, Boehner stated frankly that “job creators in America are essentially on strike.” Upon hearing this, my jaw dropped. Surely he was not serious. During the worst economic collapse in nearly a century, could the people with the ability to hire be purposefully not employing workers for political ends? Have major employers locked out workers so that their candidates win elections? Continue Reading →

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September 22, 2011
by andrewkersten
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S.S. Clarence Darrow

File it under “learn something new everyday.” Today I learned about the Liberty ship called the “S.S. Clarence Darrow” which saw duty in the Pacific during the Second World War. Below is a link to a news story about a veteran whose company used the ship as well as a photo of the ship itself.

“Tour of Duty: Vigus recalls adventures of 530th Army Engineers”

http://www.baxterbulletin.com/article/20110919/NEWS01/109190332/Vigus-recalls-adventures-530th-Army-Engineers?odyssey=nav%7Chead

SS Clarence Darrow

From the website “Armed Guard.com” http://www.armed-guard.com/lsip10.html. This photo was taken after the war and the ship appeared to have been renamed.

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September 20, 2011
by andrewkersten
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Purchasing “The Battle for Wisconsin” Without an E-Reader

I frequently get asked how to purchase “The Battle for Wisconsin: Scott Walker and the Attack on the Progressive Tradition” without an e-reader like a Kindle or Nook or iPad. Here’s how:

1) Go to Amazon.com or Barnesandnoble.com and download their free e-reader software for your PC or MAC

http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html/ref=sa_menu_karl3?ie=UTF8&docId=1000493771

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/u/free-nook-apps/379002321/

2) Run the software and use your existing Amazon or Barnes and Noble Account or create a new one.

3) From this free software you can purchase and read the book. Again, “Battle for Wisconsin” is only 99 cents.

I look forward to receiving comments from readers!

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