The Flaming Sword of Justice, with Ben Wikler






August 2017
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Social Security is under attack. And we've traced the cuts. They're coming from inside the party. 

On today's Flaming Sword of Justice, we report to the barricades, bringing you inside the front lines of the fight to make sure America's most important social insurance program remains untouched. Our guests are some of the central strategists in what could well be one of the defining political battles of the year: the leaders of MoveOn, Social Security Works, CREDO, and the PCCC. Tune in and mount up... the battle is on.

Direct download: Sword_2013_04_08.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:31pm EDT

When the AP announced this week that it would stop using the phrase "illegal immigrant," American media (and Americans in general) took notice. But in all the many, many news accounts of the AP's decision, few reporters acknowledged the highly coordinated, strategic, and empathic campaign that made it happen—a campaign that built on work by leaders and citizens in social movements dating back decades. Our guest, Monica Novoa, the coordinator (and sole full-time employee) of the "Drop the I Word" campaign, was at the heart of making it happen—and in this episode, she tells her story, and the story of this movement, like you've never heard it before. You'll laugh, sing, cry, and cheer. Tune in and spread the word!

Direct download: Sword_2013_04_04.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:37pm EDT

When the world's biggest corporations caught wind of the campaign for paid sick leave in New York City, they knew it was a matter of principle. Not the principle of whether working people should have to choose between going to work sick or losing their jobs. No, the principle they seized upon was whether corporations should ever ever have to bow to basic decency, common sense, and the will of regular citizens like you and me.  
It was a fight they thought they could win. They had the New York Republicans in their pocket. They had the New York Democrats in their pocket. 
But they forgot that in New York, there's a third party to reckon with, a party utterly beyond the control of the special interests, a party whose name tells you exactly who it works for: the Working Families Party. 

The corporations, it turns out, never had a chance. Last week, the New York City council passed a landmark sick-leave bill that guaranteed protections to more than a million working New Yorkers and instantly became a model for the nation. And the Working Families Party rocketed into the national progressive spotlight. 
On today's show, Dan Cantor of the Working Families Party explains who they are, how they won, and what it means for revitalizing progressive politics across America. Tune in and share this episode!
Direct download: Sword_2013_4_3.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:41pm EDT

There are times when changing the world can feel like pushing a pickup truck up Mount Everest. But there are also times when something clicks—and the world seems to change in an instant.  Last Tuesday was one of those times: a day when, to the amazement of so many who worked for so long to build support for equal marriage rights for LGBT Americans, millions upon millions of citizens announced their support in the most public way possible: changing the photos on Facebook that represent themselves. Their personal profile photos. To red and pink symbol for equality.  Suddenly, from that moment on, nobody who believed in full rights for gay Americans could think they were all alone. It was the kind of cultural sea-change moment that's impossible to plan. But it wouldn't have happened without our guest—the one and only Anastasia Khoo, director of Marketing for the Human Rights Campaign, who created the equality logo that swept news feeds from coast to coast and beyond.

Direct download: Sword_2013_4_2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:14pm EDT

On today's program, we explore a question that until not long ago, would've seemed hopeless: how do you beat the NRA?
We start with a guest on the front lines of a fight over a gun violence prevention law in her home state of Minnesota, where the NRA, even after Newtown, still seems nearly impossible to defeat. But our next guest—who works on the gun-violence team of a certain Michael R Bloomberg—brings stories from not one, but two states where the NRA's might has been overwhelmed by the combined forces of common sense, real information, and well-financed organizing both at the grasstops and the grassroots. Bullets aren't the only things flying through the air: there's also hope.
Sign Rebecca Lowen's petition for gun violence prevention in Minnesota
Join the national grassroots movement demanding action on gun violence, powered by Mayors Against Illegal Guns:
Our guests:
Direct download: Sword_2013_4_1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:37pm EDT

Ever been harassed on the street? Ever wanted to fight back, with a vast global network of awesome activists standing with you? Your wait is over: Hollaback has got your back. Our guest, co-founder and executive director Emily May, tells the story of the group's founding all the way through to the present—62 cities, 25 countries, 250 trained leaders, 4000 stories, and one world getting changed by the minute. 

Plus, a call from the Working Families Party to celebrate their paid sick leave victory yesterday!

Direct download: Sword_2013_03_29.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:01pm EDT

Imagine paying $3000 to visit America through a cultural exchange/guest-worker program—and then being forced to live on a cot in a packed basement room, abused at work, and threatened with expulsion if you called out your boss... who owns both the McDonald's where you work and the basement where you live. He can get you kicked out of the country with a single phone call. Do you try to bear it? Or do you fight back? Today's guests took the latter option—with some help from labor organizing pioneer Jess Kutch and her new organization, Four guests, outrageous injustice, and a very satisfying ending... all on today's Flaming Sword of Justice.

In this episode: Jess Kutch,, the National Guestworker Alliance, the McDonald's Must Pay campaign

Photo credit: Kara Newhouse

Direct download: Sword_2013_03_28.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:02pm EDT

How does it feel, after decades of battling hate and discrimination, to stand in front of thousands of people cheering their support for your right to marry the person you love? On today's show, Darlene Nipper brings us with her as she MCs the rallies for marriage equality outside the Supreme Court. Dare you not to cry.

Direct download: Sword_2013_3_27.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:47pm EDT

A decade ago, attacks on marriage equality helped Bush win reelection—and scared Democrats away from equality for years. Today, as the U.S. Supreme Court considers the issue for the first time, everything has changed. But the massive shift in public opinion was not inevitable. Our guest, Rashad Robinson of ColorOfChange—and, formerly, GLAAD—tells the story of his own work to change minds by touching hearts... including a story about a TV network president that will make you want to cheer. Plus, how America's largest online civil rights group shut down corporate funding of ALEC. It's a great show!

Direct download: Sword_2013_3_26.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:57pm EDT

When you're thinking about climate change, it's easy to get demoralized. Happens to everyone. But for the organizers of, even the darkest moment in recent climate-movement history—the aftermath of the global Copenhagen climate summit in 2009, when world leaders tried and failed to create a global treaty—couldn't keep them down. Hear how 350 went from that moment ("Take a nap, and get back to work") to devising a whole new strategy of civil disobedience (see: Keystone XL) and corporate campaigning (, and breathed new life into the global climate movement. Plus, the origin of the word "crisitunity!"
Direct download: Sword_2013_03_25.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:18pm EDT