“Standing Up to the Madness: Ordinary Heroes in Extraordinary Times” by Amy Goodman and David Goodman (Hyperion, 2008)

Standing Up to the Madnessstarstarstarstar

The award-winning and bestselling brother and sister team, Amy Goodman  (popular and successful host of the TV and radio show Democracy Now!) and David Goodman (an investigative journalist), authors of Static and Exception to the Rulers, return with Standing Up to the Madness.  The Goodmans strike out on a new path in aiming to not retread on the familiar ground of endlessly criticizing the Bush administration and its endeavors, but to report and record grassroots stories of people from across the country who have suffered under the current regime, and how they have fought back and gained some ground.

The stories in the book are grouped into subjects on how science is being threatened, schools and education being threatened, the war in Iraq, and simply “Standing up to the Madness.”  There is the story of Malik Rahim, a native of New Orleans who was there when Hurricane Katrina struck, and is still there now trying to rebuild the ravaged country and its torn and exiled people.  Rahim tells of the little help he has seen from the government, and what there remains now.  He also provides startling insights into the horrific acts of racism that are now commonplace in the ruins of the city.  But Rahim has started a charity group from scratch, Common Ground, that is now strong and increasing in size and popularity, providing aid and shelter to the many citizens of New Orleans that still have nowhere to call home.

Raed Jarrar, a US citizen originally from Iraq, tells the story of his being prevented from flying on JetBlue because he was wearing a T-shirt that read “We Will Not Be Silent” in both English and Arabic. Clearly it was because of the color of his skin, and with help from the original manufacturers of the T-shirt, he was able to make a stand for freedom of speech.  Librarians across the country tell their story of standing against the Patriot Act and its supposed allowance of turning over library members reading histories.  Psychologists speak out against the use of their members being used as litmus tests and decision makers when witnessing torture at Guantanamo Bay.  American soldiers back from Iraq tell the true story of what was really taking place in the Middle East, and why every day is another step in the wrong direction.

It is easy to criticize the Bush administration, but the authors of Standing Up to the Madness challenge the reader to do something other than criticize.  Through the voices and lives revealed in this book, one can see that change and justice is possible, and with an epilogue of advice and suggestions, it gives one fuel to begin the change that is necessary to make America the land of the free once again.

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Originally written on July 11th 2008 ©Alex C. Telander.