People For the American Way
27th May 2011
I have always been an admirer of Norman Lear as a producer, writer, philanthropist, and activist. In particular, I was impressed with his creation of the group PEOPLE FOR THE AMERICAN WAY. In 1988, Lear’s office contacted me about attending a fundraiser on behalf of Michael Dukakis’ campaign. I explained that I was working in South Florida. But the chance to meet Lear was invaluable, so I jumped on a plane to meet both the candidate and the great man. Within a short time, I was on the board of People For the American Way, one of the first major boards I joined.
Lear’s creation has grown enormously since it was founded in 1981. Its original mission statement included the following language:
In times of hardship, in times of crises, societies throughout history have experienced wrenching dislocations in their fundamental values and beliefs. We are alarmed that some of the current voices of stridency and division may replace those of reason and unity. If these voices continue unchallenged, the results will be predictable: a rise in “demonology” and hostility, a breakdown in community and social spirit, a deterioration of free and open dialogue, and the temptation to grasp at simplistic solutions for complex problems.
People For the American Way was established to address these matters. Our purpose is to meet the challenges of discord and fragmentation with an affirmation of “the American Way.” By this, we mean pluralism, individuality, freedom of thought, expression and religion, a sense of community, and tolerance and compassion for others. People For the American Way will reach out to all Americans and affirm that in our society, the individual still matters; that there is reason to believe in the future – not to despair of it – and that we must strengthen the common cords that connect us as humans and citizens.
Since then, PFAW has served a vital role in providing intelligent analysis of political events and issues including Supreme Court and federal bench appointments, protecting the rights of union workers, clean election reforms and PFAW’s Right Wing Watch program.
Here is their link: www.pfaw.org