Author: Matthew Friedman

Letter to America

Come From Away is one of the hottest tickets on Broadway. It was nominated for seven Tony awards last year and won the prize for Best Direction of a Musical. A film adaptation is in the works. The musical tells the story of what happened when 38 airliners en-route to and from the United States were forced to land in Gander, Newfoundland when American air traffic was grounded following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The people of Gander welcomed the passengers and crews – mostly Americans – with open arms. It is a story of a shared humanity, of the...

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Matthew Barlow wins prestigious book prize

The Canadian Historical Association awarded Politics/Letters Music Editor Matthew Barlow the Clio prize for his book Griffintown: Identity and Memory in an Irish Diaspora Neighbourhood, at its annual meeting in Regina, SK yesterday. The prize recognizes meritorious publications or for exceptional contributions by individuals or organizations to regional history. Barlow won for the Quebec region. Each year, the CHA awards Clios for five regions across Canada. In social media, Barlow expressed shock at the announcement. “I am in some pretty heavy-duty company,” he wrote “This award was completely unexpected and shocking. I am kinda overwhelmed.” Griffintown is a deft...

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The Memorial Project: Katyn Massacre Memorial, Exchange Place, Jersey City, NJ

Over a period of several weeks in the spring of 1940, agents of the NKVD and soldiers of the Soviet Red Army systematically murdered almost 22,000 Polish army officers, political and cultural leaders on orders from Josef Stalin and secret police chief Lavrenti Beria. Their bodies were buried in mass graves in a forest near Katyn, about 15 miles from the Russian city of Smolensk. Soviet forces had invaded Poland the previous September, pushing toward the west as the Nazi blitzkrieg drove east. It was all part of a secret plan hatched that summer, when the Soviet foreign minister...

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The Memorial Project: Haymarket Martyrs’ Monument, Forest Home Cemetery, Forest Park, IL

Although muffled by the shroud that draped his head and body, the voice of August Spies rang out in cramped prison yard where he, Albert Parsons, Adolph Fischer, and George Engel stood on the scaffold on 11 November 1887. A fifth man, Louis Lingg, had cheated the hangman by taking his own life the day before. “The day will come,” Spies shouted, “when our silence will be more powerful than the voices you are throttling today.” The hangman released the trap; the silence was deafening. The executions marked both an end and a beginning in American labor history. The...

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Speaking Ill of the Dead

I was dismayed to read Randa Jarrar’s tweet yesterday. Marking the death of Barbara Bush, she wrote that she was an “amazing racist who, along with her husband, raised a war criminal.” Later, she doubled-down, and claimed to be happy that “the witch is dead.” While I respect Jarrar’s honestly-held opinion, and I am appalled that she might face disciplinary action or dismissal for exercising her right to free speech, I found the sentiment tasteless, and deeply offensive. Worse still was the chorus of my comrades on the left who chimed-in with their own, often gleeful condemnations. Make no...

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