Hundreds of NYC and NJ Students Walk Out Against Trump’s Muslim Ban
February 9, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
From a member of the Revolution Club, NYC:
February 7—This afternoon, several hundred students from high schools and middle schools across New York City as well as in New Jersey walked out of school to oppose fascist Trump's illegitimate Muslim ban. Folks from the NYC Revolution Club met up with students from Beacon High School who called for the walkout. On the way to the rally in lower Manhattan, Rev Club members made announcements to people on the subway platform as well as in the subway cars that these students were heroes for standing up against this Muslim ban and that people should support them and join them at Foley Square. Many people who heard the announcements were viscerally moved and applauded.
At Foley Square, hundreds poured in constantly over the course of the hour rally. There was an incredible diversity of youth from all over, with some large groups coming from more widely known progressive schools like Beacon High School and Bard High School, as well as smaller groups from schools who haven’t been known for being politically active. They came with creative home-made signs, many with artistic renderings of the orange monster Trump. Students chanted "America is on fire! Donald J. Trump is a racist fuckin liar!", "No Trump, No KKK, No fascist USA", "No ban, no registry, fuck white supremacy!" There was a speak-out where mainly the student organizers addressed the crowd.
Through the course of the day we got into things deeper with many students. There was a broad sentiment among them that Muslims and immigrants were “their people” and that it was not OK to be silent as these sections of people are being targeted by Trump. We asked students what the "scene" has been like on their campuses since the inauguration and in the context of all the protests and social unrest. Some students described how their teachers have been encouraging conversations regarding Trump. But when we talked about the fascist character of this regime, the students did not have much sense of this—and across the board, they said teachers were not saying that.
One student, after some discussion on what fascism actually is, responded that if that is what we are actually facing, then people would have to go beyond protests as usual and what their teachers wanted to confine things to. We brought up the UC Berkeley protest that shut down the fascist Breitbart News editor Milo Yiannopoulos—how righteous that was and how the fascist offensive on the campuses must be met with fierce and determined resistance. This student had not heard about this nor did she actually know who Milo Yiannopoulos was, but she was horrified that this fascist was being given a platform to speak to students. We talked about the difference it could make if the “NO” to fascism signs got out everywhere, and how this was part of calling forward the millions to resist the Trump-Pence regime. We put to her and her classmates that they had a responsibility to get out the NO. They were very excited to get going on this and were grappling with how this is part of transforming things from protests as usual to mass refusal of fascism.
Another grouping of students from LaGuardia High School and Beacon High had just heard the news of the confirmation of Betsy DeVos—who aims to wreck public education and impose Christian fascism on schools—as Trump’s Secretary of Education. This sent waves of anger through the students. Brooklyn Preparatory students joined the discussion, and when someone described fascism as "open terrorism from the state itself—it poisons the very soul of a society," one young Black woman spoke emotionally about the horrors the U.S. is carrying out against the people in North Africa and the Middle East. A Club member shared with the students a palm card bearing two quotes from Bob Avakian: "Internationalism—The Whole World Comes First!" (BAsics 5:8) and "American Lives Are Not More Important Than Other People's Lives" (BAsics 5:7). They took the cards and passed them around their circles, and also took some Refuse Fascism materials with them into the crowd.
These students are being trained in their schools and by the larger society that the way to bring about change ultimately comes down to appealing to the ruling class. Many are being told to call their senators and to get ready to vote in 2020. We walked through with some students that the interests of the ruling class—whether the Trump-Pence regime and other Republicans or the Democrats—are not the same as the interests of the people. We talked about how this is a fascist regime, and you do not work with fascists. If the people in Germany had confronted the fascist character of Hitler and the Nazis and acted on that right away, they could have potentially prevented the horror that the Nazis carried out. The thinking of these students was being challenged and changing on the spot in relation to some of these points, but of course there is a lot more work to do.
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