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Bill Moyers Rewind: Susan Jacoby

This week, Bill Moyers speaks with Susan Jacoby, author of THE AGE OF AMERICAN UNREASON. In the clip below of a 2004 interview from NOW WITH BILL MOYERS, Jacoby discusses her previous book, FREETHINKERS: A HISTORY OF AMERICAN SECULARISM.

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I think that we should pull back are troops from the war in Afganistan.

Way to miss the point, Annette!

1) I have a feeling that Jacoby would be horrified that you're griping about not having 39 minutes to read to your child(ren). That you can't manage that paltry amount means that you are well below average, and guess what? Your kids will probably be well below average in school for it. Way to go!

2) Funny how people have 2 hours to let their children's brains rot in front of a TV, but can't take any of that 2 hours to read to their children.

3) I'm not surprised that you would resort to the logical fallacy of the straw man, which is misrepresenting what someone says because it's easier for you to kick that around rather than the actual point.

Jacoby never said that parents had to spend 39 consecutive minutes reading to a child; there's this thing called breaking up the time into shorter increments over the course of a morning or evening. This is quite easy to do, since most books for young children take about 10-15 minutes.

BTW--maybe the boys you know don't know how to sit still, but mine would sit by me as long as I could read books to him. Maybe the reason he could do that was because I started reading to him for long enough times, early enough in his life, rather than plonking him in front of the idiot box.

4) I was a military mom working 10-12 hours a day, with a military husband who was TDY half the year. I found lots of time to read to my child after cooking dinner and cleaning house. Your excuse has been....?

IOW, don't assume others are as inept at managing their time as you are.

Bill,
I really enjoyed listening to Susan Jacoby's thoughts on a wide range of interesting subjects and found her to be very thoughtful in general.

She quoted some findings from the Kaiser Family Foundation about the amount of time parents spend reading to their young children (39 minutes) vs. the amount of time they spend watching TV/video (2 hours)per day. Ms. Jacoby linked this finding to the dumbing down of American culture and in general to the short attention span of Americans. This comment insinuates that parents who "only" read to their young children for 39 minutes a day are part of the problem. This perspective makes me think that Ms. Jacoby is rather out of touch with the American family.

In many (most?) families, both parents work. By the time parents get home (6pm), make dinner (6:30pm), eat dinner (7pm), give the kids a bath (7:30 pme), there is not a great deal of time for much more than 39 minutes of reading.

Young children (and especially boys) do not particularly like to sit still for more than 40 minutes being read to, even if they are enjoying themselves.

I am sorry that American culture is getting dumber but a break from the ivory tower might be helpful in gaining some perspective on the realities of what we are facing in this daily battle.

Dear Mr. Bill Moyer,
I recently watched your interview with Susan Jacoby (http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/archives/jacobynow_flash.html) and found it to be quite outstanding. While there were many valuable points made, there are a few worth elaborating upon. First, I can imagine why certain groups of society would be so troubled by the idea of separation between church and state, as proposed by Jacoby. Of course some Christians, Protestants, and such groups may oppose this idea, for they are the groups being represented when the state and church collaborate. The practicing Catholic who thinks that homosexuality is a disease will of course defend Bush’s opposition to same-sex marriage. My question is, what about the other religions that are not represented? America is a diverse nation, it is no longer a Protestant, Caucasian population. No longer is it just an opinion to have church and state separated, but it is vital for this country. Twenty+ years from now, the minority will be the majority. So for those advocating church and state working together, you may just want to think twice about that since Christianity may not be the dominant religion in 2030.
Jacoby also quotes, “I believe that our obligation is to make life better because it's our obligation to each other as human beings. Not in relation to eternal rewards and eternal punishments.” What a wonderful thought! In business, managers are always encouraged to keep their team, such as accountants, project managers, marketers, and so on, working toward the same goal. In doing so, each and every person will stay on track and will be more motivated to complete his or her objectives. They do this in order to approach the company’s goal, not because they are fearful of losing their job. From that perspective, this country is like one large business. Have everyone come together to work toward one common goal for the great good of humanity.
Instead of shifting the focus on defined political/religious parties aiming at separate goals, why not just write it out like Jacoby: Our country’s goal is to make life better because it’s our obligation to each other as human beings. Not because that’s what the bible says, because some don’t believe in the bible. Not because of penalty by law, because some disregard the law. Let’s just do it for the greater good of society. I know this seems unrealistic, but maybe that’s because we have all grown up in a culture driven by religion, political affiliation, and so on. As Jacoby stated so well, “the separation of church and state will nourish both church and state”.
In conclusion, perhaps we need to become more open-minded and think of the long-term effect of having a secular government. Perhaps the Free-Thinkers need to become the majority in this country. In doing so, we can be a nation of acceptance, diversity, and unity.

Could we, in consideration of the religious discussions here, simply agree that Jesus' Sermon on the Mount embodies the greatest wisdom of our species. AND that a LOT of the rest of the religious stumblings that have been foisted off on us are indeed made up out of whole cloth!

'Amazing Grace', and all of the other insults to basic decency legislated by the 'chirch' to ease (or afflict) consciences, are blasphemous to anything that Jesus ever said.

Dear Mr. Bill Moyer,

I recently come watched a video in your website. The video that I found was about “Americans on Steroids” dated 21 December 2007.
http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/12212007/profile4.html

This video was very interesting to be as it gave me a view of different people dealing with steroids. In the country that I grew up, we are allowed to do steroids as long as it doesn’t affect anybody. Basically this discussion involves steroids in the society and how it combines the Americans view on different issues. I agree with the statement that was said about how in our society the rich and famous gets better deals than the average, pornography sells more than history, and how the government refuses to air how the they make their fortunes through the political system. This is reality.

Even though the video says that it is unfair to the other players if one takes steroids, it is obvious that American’s will do whatever possible to get ahead of the game. They believe they have to do whatever they can to be better than their peers. The fans normally like dirt on players, and this is a cycle, whether it is with athletes, actors, artists, politicians, basically anyone who is well known.

In the last part of the video, the lesson George Mitchell unconsciously made was that if Americans don’t feel strong enough about any subject or issue, they will not fight for it. An example they gave was that not enough Americans are concerned about the war in Iraq; they will not fight for what they truly believe.

I believe that if a baseball player is putting all his energy, time and money into making himself better, it should be entirely up to him. As long as he does not harm other players he is fine. If he chooses to do that to himself it should be accepted for him to be able to express him views.

I really injoyed listening to what Ms. Jacoby had to say. Unfortunately, people who don't agree with what she says, probably, are the ones who will accept whatever the headlines say without question. We need insightful people like Jacoby, this is rational thinking, without dividiing the country.

Great woman, Ms. Jacoby, pointing out that the gullibility not just of the American public, but of people practically the world over, and the dumbing influence the Establishment and its religious branches exert, is a serious problem that affects all of us in more ways than we realize.
She mentioned the Rapture. This is a product of the fertile imagination of someone claiming that it is based on what is written in the bible. It is not. This is not surprising, since the religions of the world are not based on anything written in the bible either. All religion is, as Bill Maher likes to say, made up out of whole cloth. So is the Rapture.
What many people don’t realize is that the Rapture came about because two words: “earth” and world” have (deliberately?) become to be thought of as one and the same article. Of course they are not. One is the solid ball we stand on and the other is an abstract, representing the mess we have made on it.
The problem for the Establishment is the pronouncement made by Jesus, fervently anti-religionist and anti-establishment, when he talked about “the end of the world”. He meant their world, the one he rejected when he was offered power over “all the kingdoms of the world”, if he would accept it on the Establishment’s terms. Later on he said “I am not of this world”, also falsely interpreted by some religious spokespersons as meaning “I came from another planet”.
By subtly substituting “earth” for “world” in our minds, the prediction is given a fearful meaning, as if the Creator would blow his wonderful creation to smithereens. This will not happen, but it keeps us in fear, and that is where the Establishment wants us. It keeps them in business. They may even suggest that their scientists will do anything in their power to prevent God from destroying the planet with us on it.
The Rapture, be assured, is not going to happen, because there is no need for it. The earth is not going to be destroyed, not by the creator, and not by our feeble efforts either.
Words are powerful tools, but a word can totally lose its original meaning, as Ms. Jacoby relates what happened to the word “soldier”, which has been replaced by “troop”. It would be more appropriate to refer to them as victims of the usual lies when it comes to waging war.
In this connection look at what happened to the word “faith”. One can have faith, but one cannot have “a faith”. Faith used to stand for the conviction that a prediction would come true, as one could say “I have faith in Jesus’ prediction that this violent world will come to an end and will be replaced on earth by a “kingdom of heaven” (not one “in heaven”. Heaven is not a place, but a condition).
By making the adverb “faith” into a noun all the original meaning is lost, since it now became another word for “religious sect”.
It would be well to realize that our minds are being manipulated by the Establishment and its religions. They count on us not to be too critical and ask too many questions, so that they can continue their profitable practices unhindered.


Great woman, Ms. Jacoby, pointing out that the gullibility not just of the American public, but of people practically the world over, and the dumbing influence the Establishment and its religious branches exert, is a serious problem that affects all of us in more ways than we realize.
She mentioned the Rapture. This is a product of the fertile imagination of someone claiming that it is based on what is written in the bible. It is not. This is not surprising, since the religions of the world are not based on anything written in the bible either. All religion is, as Bill Maher likes to say, made up out of whole cloth. So is the Rapture.
What many people don’t realize is that the Rapture came about because two words: “earth” and world” have (deliberately?) become to be thought of as one and the same article. Of course they are not. One is the solid ball we stand on and the other is an abstract, representing the mess we have made on it.
The problem for the Establishment is the pronouncement made by Jesus, fervently anti-religionist and anti-establishment, when he talked about “the end of the world”. He meant their world, the one he rejected when he was offered power over “all the kingdoms of the world”, if he would accept it on the Establishment’s terms. Later on he said “I am not of this world”, also falsely interpreted by some religious spokespersons as meaning “I came from another planet”.
By subtly substituting “earth” for “world” in our minds, the prediction is given a fearful meaning, as if the Creator would blow his wonderful creation to smithereens. This will not happen, but it keeps us in fear, and that is where the Establishment wants us. It keeps them in business. They may even suggest that their scientists will do anything in their power to prevent God from destroying the planet with us on it.
The Rapture, be assured, is not going to happen, because there is no need for it. The earth is not going to be destroyed, not by the creator, and not by our feeble efforts either.
Words are powerful tools, but a word can totally lose its original meaning, as Ms. Jacoby relates what happened to the word “soldier”, which has been replaced by “troop”. It would be more appropriate to refer to them as victims of the usual lies when it comes to waging war.
In this connection look at what happened to the word “faith”. One can have faith, but one cannot have “a faith”. Faith used to stand for the conviction that a prediction would come true, as one could say “I have faith in Jesus’ prediction that this violent world will come to an end and will be replaced on earth by a “kingdom of heaven” (not one “in heaven”. Heaven is not a place, but a condition).
By making the adverb “faith” into a noun all the original meaning is lost, since it now became another word for “religious sect”.
It would be well to realize that our minds are being manipulated by the Establishment and its religions. They count on us not to be too critical and ask too many questions, so that they can continue their profitable practices unhindered.


Great woman, Ms. Jacoby, pointing out that the gullibility not just of the American public, but of people practically the world over, and the dumbing influence the Establishment and its religious branches exert, is a serious problem that affects all of us in more ways than we realize.
She mentioned the Rapture. This is a product of the fertile imagination of someone claiming that it is based on what is written in the bible. It is not. This is not surprising, since the religions of the world are not based on anything written in the bible either. All religion is, as Bill Maher likes to say, made up out of whole cloth. So is the Rapture.
What many people don’t realize is that the Rapture came about because two words: “earth” and world” have (deliberately?) become to be thought of as one and the same article. Of course they are not. One is the solid ball we stand on and the other is an abstract, representing the mess we have made on it.
The problem for the Establishment is the pronouncement made by Jesus, fervently anti-religionist and anti-establishment, when he talked about “the end of the world”. He meant their world, the one he rejected when he was offered power over “all the kingdoms of the world”, if he would accept it on the Establishment’s terms. Later on he said “I am not of this world”, also falsely interpreted by some religious spokespersons as meaning “I came from another planet”.
By subtly substituting “earth” for “world” in our minds, the prediction is given a fearful meaning, as if the Creator would blow his wonderful creation to smithereens. This will not happen, but it keeps us in fear, and that is where the Establishment wants us. It keeps them in business. They may even suggest that their scientists will do anything in their power to prevent God from destroying the planet with us on it.
The Rapture, be assured, is not going to happen, because there is no need for it. The earth is not going to be destroyed, not by the creator, and not by our feeble efforts either.
Words are powerful tools, but a word can totally lose its original meaning, as Ms. Jacoby relates what happened to the word “soldier”, which has been replaced by “troop”. It would be more appropriate to refer to them as victims of the usual lies when it comes to waging war.
In this connection look at what happened to the word “faith”. One can have faith, but one cannot have “a faith”. Faith used to stand for the conviction that a prediction would come true, as one could say “I have faith in Jesus’ prediction that this violent world will come to an end and will be replaced on earth by a “kingdom of heaven” (not one “in heaven”. Heaven is not a place, but a condition).
By making the adverb “faith” into a noun all the original meaning is lost, since it now became another word for “religious sect”.
It would be well to realize that our minds are being manipulated by the Establishment and its religions. They count on us not to be too critical and ask too many questions, so that they can continue their profitable practices unhindered.


Thanks for Susan Jacoby, as well as your other explorations.

Speaking of dumbing down,
we seem about to select a presidential candidate based on MOMENTUM largely because we continue to support a cockamamy procedure for selecting candidates. Time to retire the arcane caucus/primary system that allows such dumbing down. If we are truly interested in representative government, it is time for a national primary. Hope you will schedule Selecting Candidates 101 in the near future.

Thank you so much for continuing to have thought provoking programs.
It was refreshing to have someone who challenges us. Susan Jacoby thank you from those of us who think and not just acquiesce. Maps? Dictionaries? Read? ........Absolutely!!!!

Whoops, it should be "his or her" disappointment...

Don't blame me for the dumbing down. As an older person returning to the classroom, I almost ruined my career in 1976 when I gave out "bad" but well-documented report cards. Finally I had got fed up with the charade (stupid me.) Thought I was getting paid to be accurate and truthful--- else how can anything change? Americans have got the schools they've demanded. In nine years of teaching fifth grade, there were never more that one-fourth to one-third of students doing what I considered grade-level work, yet I was supposed to never give a "C" much less anything lower. If I did, it meant I was a bad teacher! Parents would get angry, and everybody is afraid of parents. No one seemed to be able to overcome their initial disappointment at a "bad" report card and become interested in the overall picture of public education, then and now.

Listening carefully to Sylvia Jacoby talk about her latest book I realized she has no idea about 'we the people'.
She seems to think we understand nothing.
WE were the ones who Knew that the Iraq war was a NO GO. Why have our demonstrations and out crys been ignored by the Congress and now Jacoby.
I do however, agree that a secular nation is a must.
I guess WE are not so dumb


Excellent interview with Susan Jacoby. How American politics let itself be poisoned by right wing think tanks and fundamentalist ideologues is one of the great tragedies of our time. Why didn't Susan and other freethinkers speak out even louder during the Reagan 1980's when the seeds were being sown for the Christian Bush onslaught?

Secularists and Atheists must be come more militant to combat the hideously dangerous encroachment into American democracy by Christian and other religious denominations who
do not belong in the affairs of the state.
The United States is far from being "united."

R: Susan Jacoby. It took me a few minutes to realize this wasn't some joke, send-up, "mad woman from the left" piece. Thankyou for reminding us that there are people like that out there (out there, get it?). This is what what passes for American thought. Sad.

Bill,
Great show last night with Susan Jacoby - that is a book that needs to go to the White House. Have you noticed how many books have to do with the idea of reason or a lack of, along with abuse of power, the dumbing down of a disconnected public? Instead of "What I learned in Kindergarten" going to the White House which is cute but pardon my saying so, stupid, the ideals of kindergarten are long gone when people are fighting to survive. Al Gore's book, "The Assault on Reason" is a far better choice, it also discusses Susan Jacoby's topic (the lost of reason and the intellectual disconnect of the public), is brilliantly and elegantly written and Noam Chomsky's "Failed States" talks about all of the above and should have been on the must have list to the White House.

For SUZANNE PRICE:

I too was struck deeply by the graphic anguish of the victims and the malevolence of the terrorists. It is very very sad in deed.

I could understand a motive for ransom. Did Ms. Grinker ever discover the purpose of the raping and pillaging? Profit? I've heard some Iraquis are making fortunes. I don't know if the Americans there are participating -- are the global 'mercenary' contractors also involved in the kidnaping and violence? Can you give us a report on that, Bill?

Does her exhibit also show mass graves and tortures from the Saddam era ... if they really existed? I've never seen but a few snaps in the media, very inadequate to our total war understanding.

Why couldn't we just put up another Iraqi "strong man" to dictate law and order, suspend all our Democracy holy war, then depart entirely and wish them good luck? All by the Clinton deadline of March 2008.

Looking back, I can see we were not well informed and did make mistakes there in 2003-04. On the other hand, today I must ask myself if premature withdrawal is an even greater mistake, now that we are finally informed by our media.


Finally -- I wondered if that tiny hovel sheltering that damaged family had previously housed other families, or is it a new postwar structure. How does it compare with shelter in Africa or Syria?

I hope to examine her book to satisfy these questions and get a better grasp of Ms. Grinker's point of view.

You opened the show with a comment stating that you believe the 9/11 Truth Movement organized a campaign to have David Ray Griffin's DEBUNKING 9/11 DEBUNKING considered for your book contest without providing a substantive rationale, other than two emails advocating the book. The common source of the Family Values outfit that killed Postcard from Buster was clearly a one man shop. 9/11 Truth have MILLIONS of ACTIVE members many of whom are former govt officials, so your premise itself has been DEBUNKED.

Perhaps they should actually fulfill your prophesy and FORCE YOU TO EAT YOUR WORDS, cause you choke on your delusional belief in the OFFICIAL DoD account that even commissioner Kean admits doesn't hold water. Let's see how your ratings do from here on out, shall we.

NOTE:
Without Precedent: The Inside Story of the 9/11 Commission, written by 9/11 Commission co-chairmen Thomas H. Kean and Lee H. Hamilton, who claim that the commission was lied to, not once but consistently

www.amazon.com/Without-Precedent-Inside-Commission-Vintage/sim/0307276635/1/ref=pd_sexpl_s_b/102-7428369-4773745?ie=UTF8&pf=book

www.911truth.org/downloads/Family%20Steering%20Cmte%20review%20of%20Report.pdf

http://static.scribd.com/FlashPaperS3_7.swf?guid=a389zpp8y9ywk&document_id=9721

www.scribd.com/doc/9721/The-911-Commission-Report-Omissions-and-Distortions-by-Dr-David-Ray-Griffin

www.scribd.com/doc/11042/Popular-Mechanics-Assault-on-911

The translators that helped us need our help to escape torture and death. Will this be our legacy? What is the problem with this country? We need to call/email our legislators to help these people escape.

AS I LISTENED TO YOUR 2/15 PROGRAM, I FELT THE FRUSTRATION BUILD ONCE AGAIN. THE IRAQ STORIES AND PICTURES MAKES ME FEEL HOPELESS/HELPLESS. WHAT CAN I DO TO CHANGE THIS? THE AMERICAN PEOPLE IN GENERAL ARE SO SCARED OF THE SHADOW THAT THEY ARE HAPPY TO SEE IRAQIS SLAUGHTERED AS LONG AS OUR INTERESTS ARE BEING PROTECTED. IT WOULD BE GREAT IF YOU COULD MENTION HOW WE CAN HELP ON YOUR PROGRAM. IT'S LIKE DARFUR...WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT THAT? I VOTE FOR THOSE THAT ARE AWARE AND WILLING TO MAKE A STAND;BUT, WHAT ABOUT THE LAST 7 YEARS? I THINK GEO. W. WILL BE RECOGNIZIED AS THE MOST DANGEROUS PRESIDENTS ARE COUNTRY HAS KNOWN.

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