The Flaming Sword of Justice, with Ben Wikler






August 2017
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Last year, student loan debt passed $1 trillion—surpassing credit card debt for the first time. We talk to two organizers helping people tackle the student debt crisis in different ways: Chris Hicks, of Jobs with Justice, who is helping students stand up to loan giant Sallie Mae; and William Winters of, who tells the story of Ella Edwards, a woman who started a petition after her son died... but whose student loans lived on. Help came from an unexpected source. Tune in.

Direct download: Sword_2013_03_22.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:42pm EDT

Until Newtown, talking about gun violence was politically taboo. But it wasn't just the horrific killings that changed the debate. It was also the voices of survivors of the mass shootings of the last few years—voices like that of our guest, Stephen Barton's, who was hit and nearly killed by a shotgun blast during the massacre in Aurora, Colorado in 2012. Stephen tells the story of that awful night... and the story of how, instead of trying to put that trauma behind him, he joined the fight to stop tragedies like that from happening again. It's an intense, but ultimately uplifting, episode of The Flaming Sword of Justice.

Direct download: Sword_2013_03_21.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:47pm EDT

What happens in US politics will happen in Florida first. And a new group called Dream Defenders—an alliance led by Black and Brown youth, founded after the killing of Trayvon Martin—is rising up to tackle the injustices that deny the American Dream to so many. Hear about their launch action that shook the Tallahassee statehouse; Phillip's personal journey from a childhood in the church to lifetime dedication to social justice, with a depressing detour in corporate America selling, ironically, anti-depression drugs; and the transformative forty-mile march that set Dream Defenders in motion.

Direct download: Sword_2013_03_20.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:55pm EDT

Since Aaron Swartz's tragic suicide in January 2013, tens of thousands of words have been written about his life, his death, and his legacy. What none of them noticed is what he was doing with most of his time for the last couple of years of his life (other than fighting an outrageous prosecution and launching the campaign that stopped SOPA—a story he told on The Flaming Sword of Justice episode 2). So what was keeping him busy? For one thing, he met, and fell in love with, Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman. For another, he co-founded this very show. We tell both stories on this personal edition of The Flaming Sword of Justice. 

Direct download: Sword_2013_03_19.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:41pm EDT

Joan Blades and Wes Boyd, founders of, tell the inside story of how it all began—and the thrill and terror of waking up to discover that hundreds of thousands of people are asking you what they should do next.

Direct download: Sword_2013_03_06.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:53pm EDT

Two Executive Directors of and present--take us inside the philosophy and some early formative moments of the progressive powerhouse that defined online organizing in the 21st century. First, Eli Pariser remembers MoveOn's first wave of citizen lobbying of members of Congress, in the lead-up to the Iraq war. Then Anna Galland, MoveOn's new ED, tells us her own journey in activism and organizing, from her grandmother's house being shot all the way through MoveOn's new Million Member Strategy.

Direct download: Sword_2013_02_26.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:27pm EDT

Andy Barr tells the story of working with Al Franken on the path from comedian to Senator--from the formation of Team Franken, the research operation behind 2003's Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right, through driving a tank on a USO tour, through election night 2008... and a very long night it was. 

Direct download: Sword_2012_05_06.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:41pm EDT

Christine Roque, activist and journalist from the Philippines, describes her experience of the SMS-fueled 2001 uprising that bloodlessly overthrew the government--as a 15-year-old. Plus, the fascinating back story of a journalist massacre.

Direct download: Sword_2012_04_29.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:36pm EDT

Billy Wimsatt, aka Upski, is a behind-the-scenes, and sometimes in-front-of-the-scenes, force in national progressive politics--but he was a force to be reckoned with long before he started thinking about political power. On a special Flaming Sword of Justice, hear Billy's backstory--how he went from writing the book Bomb the Suburbs to write Please Don't Bomb the Suburbs without changing his underlying commitment to justice.

Direct download: Sword_2012_04_08.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:29pm EDT

Sam McLean and Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman tell how they helped GetUp!, Australia's online advocacy group, end a national government's 11-year regime, bring home a Guantanamo prisoner, and transform their national politics forever.

Direct download: Sword_2012_04_01.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:02am EDT