I was raised in an Irish-American home in Detroit where assimilation was the uppermost priority. The price of assimilation and respectability was amnesia. Although my great-grandparents were victims of the Great Hunger of the 1840's, even though I was named Thomas Emmet Hayden IV after the radical Irish nationalist exile Thomas Emmet, my inheritance was to be disinherited. My parents knew nothing of this past, or nothing worth passing on.
Neoconservatives and the Pentagon have good reason to fear the return of the Vietnam Syndrome. The label intentionally suggests a disease, a weakening of the martial will, but the syndrome was actually a healthy American reaction to false White House promises of victory, the propping up of corrupt regimes, crony contracting and cover-ups of civilian casualties during the Vietnam War that are echoed today in the news from Baghdad.
All my life I've been involved with racial politics. I was a Freedom Rider in the South. I was the author of books on gang violence, I was a community organizer in Newark, New Jersey, and when I spoke to the Black Caucus, congressional and state, I realized they were going all the way for Hillary [Clinton] and so was the Latino caucus in Sacramento and I asked myself this question: "Do I really want to cast my vote against these people who have been central to my life and to the soul of the country?" And so I went... Read more »