Author Archives: Richard Esbenshade

About Richard Esbenshade

12-year resident of Urbana, taught history for several years at UIUC, specializing in Eastern Europe; contract not renewed due to budget cuts, currently self-employed; longtime activist in peace/green/social justice/solidarity movements; father of two, including Public i alumna Shara.

Understanding the Rise of the Right in Poland

First of two parts On November 11, Poland’s Independence Day, some 60,000 people converged in a Warsaw demonstration organized by Polish extreme-right nationalist groups; large banners proclaimed slogans including “Pure Blood” and “White Europe.” The Interior Minister of the ruling … Continue reading

Posted in Poland, Politics | Comments Off on Understanding the Rise of the Right in Poland

“Anti-Refugeeism without Refugees” in Eastern Europe

Analysts of post-World War II, post-Holocaust Eastern Europe coined the term “Anti-Semitism without Jews” to characterize the uncanny persistence of prejudice in countries mostly cleansed of any actual Jewish presence. The category of “Jew” took on a symbolic character, incorporating … Continue reading

Posted in International, Politics, Refugees | Comments Off on “Anti-Refugeeism without Refugees” in Eastern Europe

The Beheading of a Saint: Junipero Serra and the California Monument Wars

During his visit to Mexico in February, Pope Francis apologized for the “systematic and organized” exclusion of indigenous Americans over the centuries. This took place in San Cristobal de las Casas, the epicenter of the indigenous-identified Zapatista uprising in 1994, … Continue reading

Posted in Indigenous, Latino/a, Politics | Comments Off on The Beheading of a Saint: Junipero Serra and the California Monument Wars

Students Rally for Coal Divestment

On April 4, the student group UIUC Beyond Coal rallied on the Quad to push the Academic Senate to pass a resolution urging the University divest $5.1 million held in the coal industry through stock index funds, in order to slow … Continue reading

Posted in Environment, Politics | Comments Off on Students Rally for Coal Divestment

Whither the Refugees, W(h)ither Europe?

Since I arrived in Hungary in early summer, the media, and everyday conversations, were filled with the refugee crisis. From the dangerous boat crossings from Libya to Europe’s Mediterranean island outposts such as Lampedusa, Italy, the main flow had shifted … Continue reading

Posted in International, Politics, Section | Comments Off on Whither the Refugees, W(h)ither Europe?

The Greek Crisis: Beginning of the End for European Unity?

Protesters burn an EU flag during an anti-austerity demonstration in Thessaloniki, Greece. Practically since the moment of its victory in the January 25 elections, Greece’s Syriza party has been locked in a struggle with the “troika,” the triumvirate of the … Continue reading

Posted in International, Politics, Politics | Comments Off on The Greek Crisis: Beginning of the End for European Unity?

Political Soccer: A Global Phenomenon—Except Here

This summer’s soccer World Cup—always the most-watched sporting event on the planet—in Brazil was accompanied by enormous demonstrations, at times violently repressed. Citizens protested the diversion of vast resources from urgent social needs to the building of hugely expensive stadiums, … Continue reading

Posted in International, Politics | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Political Soccer: A Global Phenomenon—Except Here

Monumental Struggles in Hungary

After midnight on Saturday, July 19, dozens of workers with heavy machinery, protected by hundreds of special-unit police, installed the Monument to the German Occupation on Szabadság (Freedom) Square in central Budapest. The surprise nighttime action and heavy police presence … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Monumental Struggles in Hungary

Ukraine: Is There an Alternative?

Surveying both the mainstream and the alternative/Left media on the Ukraine crisis can seem like switching between alternate universes. In one, Ukrainians struggling for democracy, European values and independence, after toppling a corrupt President in thrall to oligarchs and the … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Ukraine: Is There an Alternative?

Hungarians Debate their Nuclear Future

On the weekend of February 1-2, thousands of Hungarians took to the streets to oppose the government’s plans to double the capacity of the country’s only nuclear power plant, with construction and financing by Vladimir Putin’s Russia. The plant, at … Continue reading

Posted in Environment, International, Politics | Comments Off on Hungarians Debate their Nuclear Future