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Some lives are lived so well and fully it's almost hard to mourn their passing. To get an idea of what I mean, here are some of the subjects Saul covered in his documentaries: Fidel Castro, Iraq, The Sandinistas, The Free Speech Movement, Subcomandante Marcos, the Syrian uprising, Jamaica, Wounded Knee, Salvador Allende, The Letelier assassination, jailhouse poets, poverty, globalization, torture in Brazil, the CIA and Beirut. He wrote 14 books including a detective novel and a book of poems and numerous articles for Counterpunch, the Guardian and Common Dreams. His work as an investigative journalist is one of the reasons Pinochet was arrested by Spain and Henry Kissinger has to be careful when leaving the US.
He was also a teacher - a really great teacher - to hundreds of students like me. It's been thirty years since I last walked into his classroom, and while plenty of days have gone by where I didn't think of him, very few have passed without his influence. He taught me how to think critically about politics, the media, activism and revolution, and was so good at it that the Governor of California, George Deukmejian, tried to have him fired - essentially for being a commie, but with charges reading more along the lines of corrupting students. And I've got to admit, he corrupted the living hell out of me. I'm just glad I had the foresight to thank him for it when I did, because I'd be crying my eyes out right now if I hadn't.
I know it's a cliche to say that a teacher changed our life, but with Saul there's really no other way to put it: in fact, he probably altered the course of my life more than any other teacher I've had. Questioning authority, afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted, getting off your ass and fighting the good fight - all that stuff - he made it look cool, and that's a dangerous thing to do around a bunch of 19 and 20 year olds. So Saul, thank you. From the bottom of my heart to the top of my FBI file... thank you.