Our cover this month was born the night after Fighting Bob Fest—the great gathering of progressive speakers we co-host every year in Madison, Wisconsin. Publisher Norm Stockwell and I were sitting around with Dave Zirin and Kevin Alexander Gray at a local diner after the day’s events.

Kevin and Dave had been talking with young activists and athletes across the country who were galvanized by Colin Kaepernick’s protest of police violence against African Americans, and his refusal to stand for the national anthem. 

Black and white, men and women, boys and girls—players in all different sports across the nation have been joining the protest and taking a knee during the anthem. Some of those athletes wanted more information about the history of the struggle for racial justice, and Dave was getting them copies of Kevin’s book, Killing Trayvons: An Anthology of American Violence.

The Progressive should capture the iconic image of these historic protests on the cover of the magazine, Kevin and Dave urged.

But we had already been working on a cover package based on another inspiring wave of activism. Thousands of people were joining the Native nations gathered at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota to block the construction of a pipeline, the bulldozing of sacred sites, and the pollution of a precious water supply. Which stories could we hold?

We decided to publish them all. The rebellion against the forces of repression on Native American lands in North Dakota and African American citizens and their allies standing up to police violence are closely related. We could cover both movements in one issue.

Dave Zirin put us in touch with former NBA star Etan Thomas, who writes about the movement Kaepernick started, and how it is related to the protests of other athletes, including his own pioneering rejection of the Iraq War.

Our art director Kerstin Vogdes Diehn reached out to Taylor Callery to create our cover art. The image he drew resonates beyond any one moment, encompassing the refusal of American citizens to accept repression and bullying in all its forms.

As Kevin Alexander Gray writes in our editorial Comment this month, quoting Martin Luther King Jr., “The problem of racism, the problem of economic exploitation, and the problem of war are all tied together.” The resistance to these “triple evils” is what binds together our progressive movement for peace and social justice.

Who better to speak to our theme, Truth to Power, than Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman, who received an arrest warrant for her coverage of Standing Rock? Norm, who has worked with Amy for many years, interviews her about covering liberation movements and her belief that “independent media is the hope” for the future. 

Our On the Line section and our profile of attorney Jeff Haas also deal with the crisis at Standing Rock. More broadly, Suez Taylor and Sadie Luetmer cover the insidious efforts of Enbridge, Inc., to construct a massive network of crude oil pipelines through the Midwest—a plan that far surpasses TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline in scope. Taylor and Luetmer document the pushback against Enbridge in Minnesota and the threat in neighboring Wisconsin, where The Progressive is based.

And Arvind Ganesan of Human Rights Watch tells the shattering tale of a tribe that got pulled into a risky financial venture. 

One of our favorite writers,  Mark Anthony Rolo, describes the successful resistance of Native American people in this state to a mine owner who donated money to Republican Governor Scott Walker. 

My colleague Bill Lueders, whose deft editing and high standards are indispensable to this magazine, happens to be our home state’s leading advocate for open records. In his Smoking Gun column this month, Bill reveals some of the lesser-known documents from the trove of emails leaked to The Guardian detailing Scott Walker’s prodigious fundraising efforts and what his donors received in return for their cash. 

If we are to forge a more progressive future, it is essential that we know what we are up against.

Power to the people.

Ruth Conniff is editor-in-chief of The Progressive. 


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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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