Become America

Become America

Civic Sermons on Love, Responsibility, and Democracy

Book - 2019
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What does it mean to be an engaged American in today's divided political landscape, and how do we restore hope in our country? In a collection of "civic sermons" delivered at gatherings around the nation, popular advocate for active citizenship Eric Liu takes on these thorny questions and provides inspiration and solace in a time of anger, fear, and dismay over the state of the Union. Here are 19 stirring explorations of current and timeless topics about democracy, liberty, equal justice, and powerful citizenship. This book will energize you to get involved, in ways both large and small, to help rebuild a country that you're proud to call home. Become America will challenge you to rehumanize our politics and rekindle a spirit of love in civic life.
Publisher: Seattle : Sasquatch Books, [2019]
ISBN: 9781632172570
1632172577
Branch Call Number: 323.65097 L7402B 2019

Opinion

From Library Staff

Liu, a local author and founder of the Civic Saturday movement, provides a roadmap to building an engaged and involved citizenry in a divided nation through this collection of "civic sermons."

WINNER of the 2020 Washington State Book Award for Creative Nonfiction.


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MichelleinBallard
Jun 23, 2019

Prior to reading his book, my only exposure to Eric Liu's background and ideas were listening to him as a guest on KUOW radio. I confess to being intrigued and hopeful about what I heard.

Liu's book is a great disappointment. The subtitle to his book is "Civic Sermons on Love, Responsibility, and Democracy" and, despite any pretenses to the contrary, Liu is preaching his sermons to the Democratic Party faithful and then not to convince them to repent for their smug sense of superiority, authoritarian tendencies, ethical myopia, or neoliberal identitarianism.* No, in Liu's sermons he preaches the false gospel of a phony civic virtue while, among other things, stroking his "progressive" audience's intolerant tolerance.

I didn't vote for Donald Trump in 2016 and don't plan to vote for him in 2020. There's a lot to dislike and oppose about Trump and his administration. However, attacking Trump is attacking a symptom instead of the disease and anyone who compares him to Hitler, as Liu does repeatedly, is either profoundly ignorant and/or simply manipulating his readers. In his Hitler-Trump comparisons Liu can't even be bothered with historical truth.

To give just one example, in his very first sermon, on page 10, Liu claims "the people of Germany made Hitler" and "the German parliament, following the mechanisms of democracy, voted to ban parties. Voted to allow Hitler to suspend the Constitution as needed." In fact, Hitler was born and raised in Austria, a separate country until it was forcibly annexed by Germany in 1938. Hitler didn't move to Germany until he was 24-years-old.

More importantly, there were two Reichstag elections in 1932. The National Socialists never had a majority in the Reichstag and in the second Reichstag election of 1932 they lost 34 seats--more than any other party--and were unable to form a parliamentary majority. Hitler was never elected to national office in a functioning parliamentary democracy, he was appointed by Hindenburg as Chancellor in 1933 and then he exploited the Reichstag fire to tighten his grip on power, including gutting the German parliament.

Hitler might still have been stopped in 1933 had it not been for two key, fateful events that year. First, the Centre Party, a Roman Catholic party, succumbed to fear and dissolved itself in the wake of the Reichskonkordat, an agreement between the Vatican and Hitler's government. Second, the Jewish Zionist Federation of Germany concluded their own deal with Hitler's government, known in Hebrew as the Haavara Agreement, and ended the international economic boycott of Germany.

Ultimately, though, the rise of the Nazis in Germany can be placed squarely at the feet of the punitive, victorious allies and the oppressive terms of the Treaty of Versailles following WW I along with the failure of the Left-dominated Weimar Republic in the wake of the Great Depression.

But why resort to historical fact when there are scary fables of Hitler and Trump to be told? Liu literally begins and ends his book with sermons featuring Hitler and Nazi Germany. If you're a partisan Democrat who is happy to self-righteously stoke the fires of fear and polarization then "Become America" is a book for you. If you care about love, responsibility, and democracy then keep looking, you'll only find a negative example in Liu's book.

* If you don't know what is meant by "neoliberal identitarianism" here are some online articles you might want to read:
- "Adolph Reed: Identity Politics Is Neoliberalism" by Ben Norton on bennorton.com, June 29, 2015
- "Beyond Neoliberal Identity Politics" by Paul Street on CounterPunch.org (May 24, 2017)
- "Time to give up on identity politics: It's dragging the progressive agenda down" by Anis Shivani on Salon.com, September 2, 2017

s
StarGladiator
Apr 30, 2019

Oh wow! Former policy advisor and speechwriter to President Bill Clinton, soon to be speaking in Seattle with his wife, former Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton, who cleverly revoked Edward Snowden's passport when he was awaiting a connecting flight at the Moscow airport, stranding him Russia!

Perhaps a Bill Clinton Retrospective is in order for his arrival: he signed legislation, killing Glass-Steagall, allowing the banks, especially Citigroup, to go on a global fraud spree.
He signed legislation killing oversight on credit derivatives, ensuring that the banks would go on a global fraud spree.
As president of the USA, he went to Guatemala and publicly apologized for past American government transgressions in their internal affairs. Some years later, his wife, as SecState, would publicly support the military coup in neighborhing Honduras, ousting the democratically elected President Zelaya, and replacing him with an oligarchy and gang-ocracy!
As president, Bill Clinton gave away the over-the-horizon missile targeting technology to the Chinese Communisty Party, allowing them to jump ahead 25 years and be on part with American defense technology.
As president, Clinton also delivered the latest cruise missile technology to the Chinese Communist Party. Yet, he and his wife refer to the victims of the terrorists in Sri Lanka as // Easter worshippers \\ , they are both afraid of any public references to Christians.
Bill Clinton, anti-Christian but pro-Chinese Communist Party!
As president, Clinton radically altered the social safety net, aided by his banker benefactor and Rockefeller protege, Peter G. Peterson [Blackstone Group//Peterson Institute//CFR//FRBNY//Austerity for the 90% - - New America Founation//expelled from MIT and an usher at the funeral of John J. McCloy]
As president, Bill Clinton had an anti-Social Security speech planned, where he would announce his directive to privatize Social Security, but on the morning of his planned assault on the citizenry the breaking scandal with Monica Lewinsky broke, completely altering his plans - - God bless Monica Lewinsky!

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