#65: The Sword, Reforged. The Good Fight Begins.

The Sword has ended. The Good Fight has begun. |
On November 14, 2013, the Flaming Sword of Justice was returned to the smelting furnaces of righteousness—and reforged as The Good Fight, a new weekly podcast and radio show with the same spirit, same host, and same sponsor, but a new city, format, time slot, and brand. If you loved the Flaming Sword of Justice, you'll be utterly enthralled by The Good Fight. Check out The Good Fight, with Ben Wikler here!

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#18: Dream Defenders: Origins

Meet the head of the Dream Defenders, the Florida activists fighting for Trayvon's Law |
Topics: Civil rights, Racial justice Thumb_ead3bf89b76f829ba4d2ccd6d2565355

The Dream Defenders have been occupying the Florida State Capitol for 17 days, making national headlines with their call for a special legislative session to pass a "Trayvon's Law"—to repeal Stand Your Ground, ban racial profiling, and end the school-to-prison pipeline.

They've made headlines coast to coast. They're being recognized as the next generation of civil rights leaders. But rewind a month or two, and almost nobody had heard of them. So who are they, and where did they come from? 

This episode of the Flaming Sword of Justice brings you a slice of the back story: the spellbinding journey of Phillip Agnew, the Dream Defenders' co-founder and executive director. In an interview recorded in March of 2013, Phillip recounts growing up in the black church, not much money but a lot of love; his first fight against a racist killing in Florida; the brush with racial profiling that jolted him out of his depressing job selling anti-depressants—and then the creation of the Dream Defenders in the course of a life-changing march to Sanford, Florida after the killing of Trayvon Martin.

Today's Tallahasee Takeover springs directly from the same vibrant vision and bedrock commitment that shines through in this interview, and through the voices of so many of the Dream Defenders. If you want to understand the present and future of Florida politics—and, indeed, of American politics in general, as a rising generation of young people of color moves the balance of power—then you'll want to get to know this extraordinary group.

There's a moment in this interview that we'll never forget, about 34 minutes in: the day Phillip realizes that he can never go back to his old life in corporate America. Don't miss that part. But check out the whole thing.

#64: The world. Getting better?

You're 92. You've seen it all. Still an optimist? |
Topics: Peace Thumb_dc1a9237ef90d708fa33828128af161a
92 years of life can give you some perspective. Especially if you spend seven-odd decades in service of others, as a diplomat and peacebuilder working on five continents. 

Today, we interview Ambassador John W. McDonald, co-founder and chair of the Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy, about his extraordinary journey: from his far-flung childhood in a military family to his arrival as a young foreign service officer in postwar Germany in 1947; from the Berlin airlift to the nerve center of the Marshall Plan; from camel caravans through snow-choked Afghanistan to jungle airports in Bolivia. 

Our guest built a railroad from Turkey to Tehran, helped run United Nations agencies and create new ones—and then, at age 70, after a 40-year career in government, with no resources except a co-founder and a dream, created a new organization that is helping citizens build peace from Cyprus to Kashmir.

Oh, and we should mention: he has a personal connection to the show. You know our host, Ben Wikler? He's John McDonald's grandson.

As you hear Ambassador McDonald share stories and lessons from his long and world-spanning life, you'll catch the intensity of his optimism, his enthusiasm—and you'll see why he's so hopeful about where the world is going next.


#63: Minutemen Murders

Listen to the totally insane story of the Minutemen murders |
Topics: Immigration Thumb_a91d82bbd41b62ad9273cea3512b59f7
What happened to the Minutemen? 

A refresher: the Minutemen were the group that whipped up American conservatives into hysterics around the supposed issue of "border security" a few years back. They called themselves "a citizens' Neighborhood Watch on our border," and organized press stunts in which armed white people would tromp around the border with Mexico and argue that they weren't racist. 

You don't hear from them so much anymore. Partly, that's because their positions—and many of their former members—moved on to the Tea Party. But partly that's because of the story you'll hear in this episode. A story of cold-blooded murder.

The journalist David Neiwert researched the tale for his new book, And Hell Followed With Her. And he joined us at the Netroots Nation conference in San Jose to tell the story on-air.

If you want to understand the politics and the personalities of the hardcore right-wing end of the U.S. immigration debate—or if you just like a rivetingly blood-soaked story of zealotry, xenophobia, and bad ideas gone even worse, don't miss this episode of The Flaming Sword of Justice.

#62: DOMA Loses, Love Wins

Whew. Now we don't have to explain DOMA to our kids. |
Topics: Marriage equality Thumb_46633d6d62d2b1f49875046742e2fcd7
When the Christian Right launched the organization "True Love Waits," they might not have been intentionally referring to the wait for a Supreme Court decision on the constitutionality of the Defense Of Marriage Act. But as of Wednesday, June 26th, 2013, the wait is over. And true love won. 

Today on the Flaming Sword of Justice, we bring you three voices from inside the struggle for equality. First, Darlene Nipper of the Task Force tells about the moment she heard the news about DOMA, reflects on the struggle to get here, and fires us up for the fights ahead.

Then Jamie McGonnigal, who married his husband one month ago, tells us what it was like to stand in front of the Supreme Court today as the decision came down. (The first sign that we'd won? An eruption of screams.) 

And finally, in an interview recorded at the Netroots Nation conference in San Jose, Minnesota's House Majority Leader tells us the tears-inducing story of passing a marriage equality law in her own state—a law that, starting today, will be recognized nationwide.

The Defense of Marriage Act has fallen, and family values have triumphed. Don't miss this special celebratory edition of the Flaming Sword of Justice.

#61: Not supposed to win

This campaign was not supposed to win |
Topics: Campaigns, Elections Thumb_80eea5dbf3c3cb59ac195e3c9a4a17fd
Remember the Dean campaign? It never ended.

In the decade since Dean first electrified progressives across the US, the vision of people-powered politics in all 50 states has become a foundational element of Democratic politics. And although Dean himself didn't become president, the ideas he represented have transformed elections from the White House on down. 

On this episode of the Flaming Sword of Justice, we bring you the engrossing story of one particular Deaniac—from his heartbreak at the Governor's electoral loss through to an election night three years later so laden with hope, fear, and suspense that, as you hear about it, you'll forget to breathe.

Arshad Hasan joined Howard Dean's presidential campaign in 2003 as a 22-year-old. Soon after, he would become the first Training Director at Democracy for America—the organization that sprung up from the remains of the campaign operation—and then rose to become its Executive Director. Today, after a decade in the Dean fold, he's preparing to transition out of his post and seek the next adventure. But before leaving, he spent an hour with us to tell the story of his proudest moment. By the end, you'll understand why he chose this one. 

This week, a ten years ago, Governor Dean struck a match. Arshad, and many others, have carried the torch ever since. Today, the flame burns hot indeed on the Flaming Sword of Justice.

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