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Science fiction writer Ursula Le Guin: ‘We will need writers who can remember freedom’

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In the midst of all the end-of-the-year lists and reminiscences, there is a speech that made the social media rounds recently that we thought deserved a special mention here at BillMoyers.com.

In accepting the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters at this year’s National Book Awards, eminent sci-fi writer Ursula Le Guin made a knock-out speech about the power of capitalism, literature and imagination that, as she put it afterwards, “went sort-of viral on YouTube.”

The 85-year-old writer started with a shout-out to her fellow fantasy and sci-fi writers, who have for so long watched “the beautiful awards,” like the one she’d just received, go to the “so-called realists.” She continued:

I think hard times are coming when we will be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now and can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine some real grounds for hope. We will need writers who can remember freedom. Poets, visionaries — the realists of a larger reality. …

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Books, you know, they’re not just commodities. The profit motive often is in conflict with the aims of art. We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art — the art of words.

I have had a long career and a good one. In good company. Now here, at the end of it, I really don’t want to watch American literature get sold down the river. We who live by writing and publishing want — and should demand — our fair share of the proceeds. But the name of our beautiful reward is not profit. Its name is freedom.

Le Guin’s speech was fully transcribed by Parker Higgins, an activist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco. You can read the entire speech at Higgins’s blog.

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In 2000, Bill Moyers interviewed Le Guin about the 1980 PBS adaptation of her 1971 book, The Lathe of Heaven, that became the most requested film ever in the PBS archives. The plot revolves around the main character’s dreams altering reality. Le Guin tells Bill she was very skeptical that it could be adapted for television. We’re working on adding the show to our archive, but in the meantime, here’s a version from YouTube.

December 27, 2014 by BillMoyers.com Staff

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This post first appeared on BillMoyers.com.


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Stephen Colbert mocks Eric Trump in a way that must be seen to be believed

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Stephen Colbert mocked Eric Trump so badly it has to be seen to be believed.

The moment came after Colbert played a clip of the young Trump child saying that 95 percent of the United States supports him, the camera cut to Colbert doing his Eric impression.

"I've got big gums, and I cannot lie," Colbert said.

"Yeah, 95, guys, I'm tellin' ya," Colbert said, pretending to be Eric with his lips curled up.

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Black Pennsylvania Trump voter wonders if he’s still welcome in the GOP

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Tuesday, CNN released interviews with Texas Trump supporters who defended his racist attacks on four Congresswomen of color. Wednesday night, Van Jones showed his panel of supporters of both President Donald Trump and former President Barack Obama. But things got tense when a Black Trump supporter was asked about the president's racially charged statements.

Two men, one white one Black, in the group said they supported Trump and probably would again because business was good. Two women in the group lamented that Trump's racism was hurtful for the country.

"I just go back to values," the older women said. "I value treating people with dignity. And if there is anything that is incongruent with those values, then I'm not for that. So I'm not going to put profit over my values."

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Don Lemon lists ‘manipulative garbage’ Trump uses to exploit his supporters’ ignorance

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CNN host Don Lemon thinks that President Donald Trump is using issues like race to manipulate his voters into voting against their own interest.

In his opening commentary, Lemon showed the clip of Trump's supporters chanting "send her back" at Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), who is a Somali immigrant who came to the U.S. when she was just 12 years old.

He then cited a tweet that Trump sent out earlier Wednesday.

"New Poll: The Rasmussen Poll, one of the most accurate in predicting the 2016 Election, has just announced that "Trump" numbers have recently gone up by four points, to 50 percent. Thank you to the vicious young Socialist Congresswomen. America will never buy your act! #MAGA2020," Trump tweeted.

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