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Dean Robb: An Unlikely Radical Interview Part 5

Welcome to GAL Radio brought to you by the Greatest American Lawyer Blog.  Changing the way law is practiced through technology, innovation, and creativity.  Turning the business of law on its head and shaking things up to the betterment of clients, lawyers, law firms and society.  This is one in a series of shows featuring Dean Robb, activist lawyer and a leader in the legal arm of the civil rights movement.  Dean is the subject of the book: “DEAN ROBB: An Unlikely Radical.”  Now here’s your host, Steve Quick.

Steve Quick:  Hi.  We’re back with Dean Robb, lawyer and activist, and subject of the book: “An Unlikely Radical.”  We’ll pick up our conversation.  Dean, you mentioned the phrase a new McCarthyism.  Do you think there’s going to be some sort of a backlash from possibly conservative leaders overstepping their bounds? 

Dean Robb Dean Robb:  I think so.  That’s what happened with the whole McCarthy movement, blaming everything on communism.  It didn’t exist.  The communist party couldn’t have overthrown an outhouse when we were taught to be scared of people that were alleged to be communist and, yet, we got, you know, for about five or six years, this terror, almost, existed here in America.   Between 1947, ‘48, ‘49 clear up into the 50’s, but they overstepped their grounds.  When McCarthy made the charge that the American Army was honeycombed and infested with communist, and Joe Welch, the lawyer from Boston, and McCarthy took off on Mr. Welch because Mr. Welch had hired a student who was a member of the National Lawyers Guild.  That’s when he made that famous phrase to McCarthy, “Have you no shame.”  And that hearing, the Army Hearings, I think it was in 1953 or ‘54, maybe ‘55, that basically embarrassed McCarthy before the whole world, and, of course, that ended.  Now, was this going to happen here?  I hope so, because it’s really all backed on the Chamber of Commerce in Washington and all of their affiliates against collective bargaining.  They’re against Unions.  They’re blaming the…basically, blaming the middle class for the financial crisis we’re in, which is ridiculous, and collective bargaining.  A small number of Americans are in Unions, but the few that are, at least, are organized and can fight back a little bit.  I’m sort of a believer in the tipping point.  When…if there is this much injustice down at the bottom, and we’re seeing it, all these people losing their homes, losing their jobs, good people, good American citizens, middle class, most of them. Of course, in America, we all think we’re in the middle class, but actually, we’re all in the lower class now.  We don’t want to admit that either, but we are.  And I think that that injustice, I don’t know whether it’s boiling down there, what’s happening. There’s certainly not much protest by all the people who are being treated unfairly.  They’re pretty quiet, although this Wisconsin, Ohio and now Michigan takeover to bust Unions, like yesterday, I guess, or a day before, they took over Benton Harbor.  Benton Harbor, a beautiful little town.  I know it’s had troubles, but it’s had troubles because of racism.   It’s had troubles because of Whirlpool pulling out and moving to Mexico, I guess, or at least moving out of Benton Harbor.  It’s a one- industry town just like Detroit was a one-industry auto town.  Benton Harbor is now the first takeover by our new Governor.  I don’t know where this is going, but the idea that elected officials can be just by summarily dismissed, and that Union contracts and people can be fired and misplaced and city councils can be made powerless, when we are the country of, particularly, America believes in local government and local controls, school districts, school boards, village councils, city commissions.  According to this new mandate, I guess this new law that slipped through our legislature, our governor can say no to the elected officials.  You’re out.  Good Bye.  Now, I don’t think America is going to put up with that.  I just don’t think we will. 

Steve Quick:   Do you think that a legal challenge is inevitable? 

Dean Robb:  Yeah.  I do.  I think…I haven’t seen any constitutional analysis of that, but I would think that in our state constitution, we’re guaranteed this autonomy by constitutional mandate of villages, cities, and how they’re run.  And this completely contradicts that by just a legislative edict.  I don’t know whether…it doesn’t seem like that would stand up.  Now, the only trouble is we now have a ya-ya supreme court maybe that will do anything that the, what I consider, the right-wing wants.   I hope that isn’t true, and I hope the supreme court will come…our courts will fight back.  I don’t know.  I hope so.  Anyway, it’s a new strange period we’re in now.  I think the world, right now, is on tilt.  If it was a pinball machine, the thing wouldn’t operate right now.  And I don’t know what it is.   The weather, the tsunamis, the earthquakes, and this crazy wind we’re suffering up here.  I don’t know.  Something’s really strange right now.  And I don’t know whether… I think there’s probably explanations for all this, but I’m sure it’s confusing to our citizens.  I know I’m confused.  My answers been the world’s on tilt right now, Steve.   To me, it’s also an exciting period.   When you have these periods of unrest, when you have these periods of your basic premises of your life are somewhat being challenged, it’s also a chance to grow.  In other words, we’re stretched right now.  What do we do?  What can we do?  And we’re thinking about that.  And I think a lot of people…I think this is the tipping point.  I think when we get enough of this silliness going on, it reaches a point that tips the scales the other way, and people suddenly say woe, we’ve had enough of this.  We’re going back to some more rational decisions, and we’re going to listen to the poor people. We’re going to help each other get out of this mess. 

Steve Quick:  We’ve been speaking with Dean Robb, lawyer, activist and subject to the book: “An Unlikely Radical”.  We’ll continue our conversation next time. 

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Sarah Conners

Radical interview indeed, great job.

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