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Revolution #468 December 5, 2016
Updated December 7, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Water protectors gather to hear the announcement by the Army Corps of Engineers, December 4. Photo: revcom.us
The past 24 hours have seen dramatic developments in the battle to stop the Dakota Access Oil Pipeline (DAPL) from endangering the water and violating the treaty rights of the Standing Rock Sioux.
On Sunday, December 4, the day before the federal and state authorities were threatening to evict water protectors from the Oceti Sakowin camp near the Standing Rock reservation, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced: “The Department of the Army will not approve an easement that would allow the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline to cross under Lake Oahe in North Dakota.” Lake Oahe is a Corps of Engineers reservoir on the Missouri River, and that decision effectively blocks, for now, the completion of the pipeline on its current route.
The implications of this decision need to be further understood. And there are undoubtedly battles to come. But one thing is for sure: The U.S. government would not have backed off on approving the final completion of the DAPL had it not been for the heroic and inspiring resistance at Standing Rock.
For months, thousands of Native American Indians and their supporters have been defending the water and resisting the pipeline. Hundreds have been arrested. Hundreds more have been subjected to beatings, mace, rubber bullets and unending harassment and insult by police, the National Guard, and oil pipeline company mercenaries. But they have refused to back down. Images of militarized police blasting protesters with high-pressure water hoses in sub-zero weather on the night of November 20, outraged millions.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (which has jurisdiction over the land on which people are camped) and North Dakota authorities used the onset of a brutal North Dakota winter, and the pretense of “concern for the safety” of the very protesters they have repeatedly brutalized and arrested, to announce they would evict the water protectors on December 5.
People from all walks of life and coming from many different views have come to Standing Rock. And they have refused to leave (see “Voices From Standing Rock—Standing Firm in the Face of Threats”). Hundreds of Native tribes are represented at Standing Rock. Churches have sent delegations. Artists, construction workers, and engineers have joined the camp. The largest organization of nurses in the U.S. has sent contingents of nurses and other medical workers. The Revolution Clubs went out to the South Side of Chicago and to communities in Los Angeles to tell people about what is going on and why people should stand with Standing Rock. And Revolution Clubs from several cities sent delegations to connect the resistance with organizing for an actual revolution at the soonest possible time.
The organization Veterans Stand for Standing Rock mobilized thousands of veterans to come to act as human shields, protecting the encampment (see “A Letter to All of the Veterans Standing for Standing Rock, from Carl Dix ” at revcom.us). A million dollars has been raised through social media to fund the protest. And the camp multiplied in size as the eviction date approached. In many ways, the whole world was watching.
With all this coming to a head, the Army Corp of Engineers released their statement today, December 4. It includes the following:
“Although we have had continuing discussion and exchanges of new information with the Standing Rock Sioux and Dakota Access, it’s clear that there’s more work to do.” And, “The best way to complete that work responsibly and expeditiously is to explore alternate routes for the pipeline crossing.”
And the Corps of Engineers statement said, “Consideration of alternative routes would be best accomplished through an Environmental Impact Statement with full public input and analysis.”
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell also released a statement that said, “The thoughtful approach established by the Army today ensures that there will be an in-depth evaluation of alternative routes for the pipeline and a closer look at potential impacts...”
The U.S. government has a 400-year record of refusing to respect the land of Native peoples and violating treaties. What the statement from the Corps of Engineers means, short term and long term, will be in large part defined by how strong the struggle stays and grows. People need to be vigilant.
For now, local and federal authorities have dialed down the most extreme threats to evict the Oceti Sakowin camp. But ongoing harassment of the water protectors continues. When a couple hundred of the Veterans Stand for Standing Rock went to a bridge on Highway 1806, where authorities viciously attacked water protectors on November 20, they were met with reinforced violent forces of repression from the other side.
As we post this late Sunday night, a long line of cars continues to head into camp, filled with people determined to stand with the water defenders. Late Sunday night, Carl Dix, a representative of the Revolutionary Communist Party who is at Standing Rock, said to Revolution, “There is not a mood of ‘this is over.’”
As we’ve been writing, in relation to Standing Rock, “The truth is this: America Was Never Great! Only a revolution—a genuine communist revolution that aims to institute the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America as its framework—can end the oppression suffered by the Native peoples, as well as other oppressed nationalities, and can end the insane plunder of the environment by the capitalists. Battles like the one in Standing Rock can be and must increasingly be built as part of strengthening the movement to make that revolution. And in the shadow of the looming fascism of Trump, the struggle for the basic justice of the demands of the water protectors in Standing Rock takes on even greater significance.”
The eyes of the whole world will continue to be watching in the next days, and months, to see what the people of this country are going to do. The U.S. government has broken every treaty it has ever made, and the only promise they ever kept was that they promised to take the land of the Native peoples and they took it. At the same time, the fact that the Army Corps of Engineers decided to back off for now, and everything that led up to that, DOES show the potential strength of the masses of people. And it reveals as well the vulnerability of the system to both determined struggle and to the costs this was incurring to their national AND international legitimacy.
The risks, and stakes, remain high.
Revolution #468 December 5, 2016
December 1, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
The battle to stop the Dakota Access Pipe Line is nearing a crucial juncture. The authorities have already viciously attacked the Water Protectors of the Standing Rock Reservation and their supporters. They have unleashed security guards and law enforcement officers with attack dogs, mace, sound cannons, rubber bullets, tasers and more on the people fighting to stop the pipeline. They have arrested children, elders and others, marked them with numbers and kept them in dog kennels. They used water cannons on people in freezing temperatures and launched concussion grenades at protesters. This is outrageous—and it recalls the whole horrible history of how this country and system has treated Native Americans.
Now the Army Corps of Engineers has issued an order to evacuate “federal lands” by Monday, December 5, and threatened to arrest anyone who doesn't comply with this order. The Governor of North Dakota has piled onto this attack by issuing his own evacuation order—effective immediately. The Water Protectors have defiantly responded to these threats by declaring, “We aren't going anywhere.”
Shortly before this order was issued, a group of veterans began organizing to come to Standing Rock to support the Water Protectors. The organizers of this mobilization feel that as veterans they have a special role to play in stopping this injustice. While I’m not part of that contingent, I too am a veteran of the U.S. military. In 1970, they ordered me to go to Vietnam. But I was able to find out that this war was being fought to crush other oppressed people, to drown the liberation struggle of the Vietnamese people in blood. So, along with five other soldiers, known as the Fort Lewis 6, I refused these orders. I was sent to Leavenworth Military Penitentiary for two years for taking this stand.
The way I see it, Veterans Standing for Standing Rock could flip the script on the history of savagery the U.S. military has inflicted on Native people in this country. But there is a problem if we see this as “part of the great tradition” of the U.S. military. We need to be clear: the tradition of this military is a bloody, genocidal one, beginning with the way it nearly wiped out the Native peoples of this land! The U.S. military carried out massacres in which whole villages were wiped out, and men, women and children were slaughtered. The U.S. military drove Native people on the Trails of Tears, the long forced marches when tribes were forced from their land to distant areas, with many people dying en route. Every time the government violated a treaty with a tribal group, the U.S. military enforced that violation. And then that same U.S. military, once it had done all this shameful genocidal stuff to the Native American Indians, was sent all over the world to do it to other oppressed people.
Ask yourself this: Who and what have we been sent to fight for over and over again?
The revolutionary leader Bob Avakian has said:
It is not uncommon to hear these days, from government officials and others, that only 1 percent of the population is in the U.S. military but that this 1 percent is fighting for the freedom of the other 99 percent. The truth, however, is this: That 1 percent, in the military, is in reality fighting for the other 1 percent: the big capitalist-imperialists who run this country—who control the economy, the political system, the military, the media, and the other key institutions—and who dominate large parts of the world, wreaking havoc and causing great suffering for literally billions of people. It is the “freedom” of these capitalist-imperialists—their freedom to exploit, oppress, and plunder—that this 1 percent in the military is actually killing and sometimes dying for. (BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian, 1:5)
So why should any of us feel proud of having fought for that “1 percent”—the capitalist-imperialists who run this country? Why should we uphold any part of that? While doing time in Leavenworth for refusing to go to Vietnam, I learned what the real nature of this system was and the actual role the military plays in keeping all that in effect. So I decided to fight, alright—but for the oppressed people, to bring about a whole better world... and to fight AGAINST that system that tried to force me to kill other people who were fighting for liberation. I joined protests with Vietnam Veterans Against the War, and I became a revolutionary, eventually becoming a member of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, led by Bob Avakian.
To the veterans who are coming to Standing Rock to play a different role: I will stand side by side with you and everyone else who is coming together to stop the attack on the rights of Native people and on the environment. Together, we will support these Water Protectors heart and soul.
While we do, let’s talk about the REAL nature of this system and its armed forces. And let’s talk about a truly liberating future where we can get out of this madness. Bob Avakian has written a blueprint for a radically better society—the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America. We’ve developed the strategy to actually win a revolution and to work for it today. And we’ve got the leadership for doing this in Bob Avakian and the party he leads.
Coming to Standing Rock, you are taking an important step. As we fight shoulder to shoulder here, let the next step be beginning the dialogue, the debate, and the organizing for the fight for the future—the emancipation of all humanity.
Revolution #468 December 5, 2016
Revcoms at Standing Rock:
November 30, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Revcom.us interviewed Travis Morales and a young member of the Revolution Club who have been out at Standing Rock for over a month now. The following is an excerpt, edited for publication.
Revcom.us: Both of you went there with the understanding that the system is the problem and that communist revolution—the new communism is the answer. From that perspective and with that understanding, what insights and thoughts do you have about how the world doesn’t need to be this way, how society doesn’t need to be this way—what it might look like to have a whole different kind of society that’s in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America that would end the oppression suffered by the Native Peoples, for like you say 400 years? And that would begin to address the environmental emergency from a whole different perspective?
Revolution Club Member [RCM]: I mean here you have a situation where thousands of people from all over the country and all over the world have come together to fill a really great need and that is to put their bodies and put their lives on the line to stop this pipeline—which would have huge disastrous implications for humanity if it goes through in terms of the Missouri River and the remaining people in this region of the country, the poisoning this river that effects millions of more people. So you have people coming together on that basis, to stop this pipeline...
Revcom.us: I just want to interject the other dimension to it is the violation of the treaty rights and sovereignty of the Standing Rock Sioux...
RCM: That is an extremely important dimension of things for sure. What’s happening here is incredibly inspiring and shows the potential for humanity to come together around a totally different—coming together to actually—like under communism, coming together and people contributing what they can and getting back what they need. This is really what is happening here. There are people coming here who have things and many more who come who don’t have skills—but contributing what they can and sharing. Same thing goes for the food here. People who have some more skills to be able to make very large batches of food for people and then there are people who don’t have a clue but they are learning and contributing. Anyone who comes here has that spirit to contribute as much as they can towards this effort and there is no shortage of need here and especially as we approach this very brutal winter. And again you have thousands of people here who are determined to do whatever they can to make sure to see this all the way through.
Travis Morales: There are people who live off the grid, people who are professional people who have medical skills, who do construction. People have been unleashed; this is something that matters to people... These are people who are standing with the Native Peoples against the genocide, against the poisoning of the water, and you do see the potential here for—as we have discussed with many people, it’s going to take a revolution to actually put into practice a lot of the ideas and the things that people are doing here—on a mass scale, for people to work cooperatively together.
And there is a huge question, a huge challenge—which side are you on? Are you coming to stand with these oppressors under orders from the highest levels of government who are out here brutalizing and coming close to murdering some people to ram through this pipeline? Or are you going to stand with the people who have suffered this genocide for 400 years, who are taking this stand that we’re not going to let this pipeline go through and we’re not going to let them poison this water? This is a question of “which side are you on”? And I think—almost two and a half months from now a fascist is going to be declared president of this country. And what’s going on here could be a challenge to this whole fascist regime that is about to go into power, becoming a real flash point. People coming together to stand up to the pipeline and quite frankly the U.S. capitalists who are trying to ram this through and this could be quite a crisis for the Trump regime that is coming in.
And I think we see some potential here... It’s going to take communist leadership to make revolution and within that you can see how all kinds of people can be drawn into political life very quickly from different perspectives, who come into resistance to the status quo. The revolutionary communist line actually [brings this out] that this is quite possible.
Revcom.us: That seems like a good note to end on.
RCM: I just wanted to add this question of sacrifice because when people look at what’s happening here—people look at how it’s fun and all this kind of stuff—but at the same time there has been a lot of sacrifices to be here. It’s not easy to be here to face these kinds of conditions, this brutal winter that’s coming. There is the potential for people to sacrifice, their jobs, their families, their jobs that they’ve left. People making incredible sacrifices. And the way people have stood up against these vicious police.
That’s not easy, that’s not fun to get shot point blank at by rubber bullets, to get maced. But it matters a great deal and when you ask people who have been through this, been brutalized, is it worth it, they say, of course, of course it’s worth it. All these sacrifices are worth it because it matters to stand up against this modern day genocide and so all these sacrifices that people are making are for that and people are willing to make these sacrifices for that.
Revolution #468 December 5, 2016
November 9, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Donald Trump has now won the presidency. Under the slogan “Make America Great Again,” he has viciously attacked Mexicans and Muslims, threatened to deport millions and boasted that he will build walls and close borders. He incites people to fear and hate those who are “different,” or who come from other countries or nationalities, or practice different religions. He crudely demeans and degrades women, and openly boasts about molesting them. He’s a champion of white supremacy who has insulted and threatened Black people, and whipped up a racist lynch-mob mentality. Trump has mocked the disabled. He is an aggressive and unapologetic militarist, who threatens to use nuclear weapons and will have his fingers on the nuclear codes. He openly advocates war crimes and crimes against humanity—including torture and killing the families of people accused of terrorism. He plans to pack the Supreme Court with justices who will gut and reverse the right to abortion, gay rights, and other important legal rights. He calls climate change a hoax and his policies will wreak further devastation on the environment. He has attacked and threatened the press and stirred up his supporters to do the same. Trump has utter contempt for facts and the truth, and consistently lies to advance his agenda. As for the rule of law, Trump went so far as to openly threaten his opponent, Hillary Clinton, not only with jail, but even assassination. Donald Trump is an outright fascist. And he is now the president-elect.
Fascism is a very serious thing. Fascism foments and relies on xenophobic nationalism, racism, and the aggressive reinstitution of oppressive “traditional values.” Fascism feeds on and encourages the threat and use of violence to build a movement and come to power. Fascism, once in power, essentially eliminates traditional democratic rights. Fascism attacks, jails, and executes its opponents, and launches violent mob attacks on “minorities.” In Nazi Germany in the 1930s and ’40s, under Hitler, fascism did all these things. They imprisoned millions in concentration camps and exterminated millions of Jews, Roma people (Gypsies), and other “undesirables.” And Hitler did almost all of this through the established institutions and the “rule of law.” This is where this goes. And yes, Hitler himself could “talk graciously” when he felt it would serve his interests and lull his opponents.
Trump did not even win the popular vote, (even though he did win the “electoral college” which decides elections in the U.S.). Hitler himself came to power through democratic procedures, including through the process of elections. Should people have accepted Hitler?! Unfortunately, they did, at a horrific cost to humanity. Today, with nuclear weapons, that cost could be far higher.
In the name of humanity, we must refuse to accept a fascist America!
The fact that Trump won as many votes as he did must be understood. The fact that he got more than even 10 percent of the vote is disgraceful and reveals some very ugly things about America. So why did this happen? The world today is turbulent, full of changes. Those who supported Trump’s fascist program were overwhelmingly sections of white people, especially but not only white men, who yearn for the days of open white supremacy and American global domination, and the blatant subjugation of women. A significant minority of white people did oppose him, but we have to confront how deep the racism, the national chauvinism, and the hatred of women is woven into this society... and not give in to this, but vigorously challenge and fiercely oppose it.
But even more than this, Trump was backed by powerful forces in this society. Beyond those who directly supported him, the media, the Democratic Party, and others treated him as a legitimate candidate, refused to call him out as the fascist he is, and now call on everyone to accept his ascension to power. All the major powerful forces in this society bear the responsibility—it is they who have, over decades, either built up this fascist force or have “enabled” it.
You cannot try to “wait things out” with fascists. Those who lived through Hitler’s Germany and sat on the sidelines, looking on as Hitler rounded up one group after another, became shameful collaborators with monstrous crimes against humanity. Trump and his regime must be resisted and defied, beginning now, in many different ways and in every corner of society.
Reconciliation and collaboration would be nothing less than criminal and deadly. Literally. Come together... resist... and let the whole world know that we will not allow this to stand!
Revolution #468 December 5, 2016
As Democrats Still Call for "Working With" Trump...
December 5, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Anyone who thinks that Donald Trump will not act as the fascist he promised to be in his campaign needs to take a hard look at reality.
As we stressed two weeks ago, Trump has put together a very hard core of fascists in his team of Pence, Bannon, Flynn, Sessions, and Pompeo. In the time since then, he has filled this out further with other like-minded minions, like the Christian fascist DeVos. (See rogues gallery at "Trump Installs His Fascist Team.")
This week he did two more things: he made some more ominous appointments; and he resumed his openly fascist agitation, including a threat to strip the citizenship from anyone who burns an American flag in protest.
This week, Trump appointed the former Marine Corps general James Mattis as defense secretary. This appointment comes on top of his earlier appointment of the retired general Michael Flynn as his national security adviser and goes along with Trump's very public flirtation with retired general David Petraeus for the position of secretary of state.
If approved, Mattis will be the first retired general in over 60 years to head up the Pentagon. This in itself is extremely unusual, and raises real issues about the direct role of the military in civic and political life. U.S. law dictates that army officers must wait seven years after retiring before assuming the post of secretary of defense, but all agree that a waiver of this rule will be passed by Congress. The last general to do this was mainly known as an able administrator more than a warrior.
Mattis, by contrast, prides himself on his supposed identity as a "warrior monk" and his nickname of "mad dog"—and Trump could barely restrain his glee as he uttered that nickname. Commentators agree that Mattis favors a more aggressive stance in the Middle East and elsewhere. Clearly, the appointment of Mattis both sends a message and sets the stage for an even more openly militaristic and aggressive stance toward other countries—in keeping with Mattis's nickname, you could say a more openly rabid stance.
But the significance here may go beyond policy or protocol. Bob Avakian, in the piece "The Truth About Right-Wing Conspiracy...And Why Clinton and the Democrats Are No Answer," makes an extremely important analysis of the role of the military in the fascist political constellation:
What is also important to recognize is that within the armed forces there has been, for some time now, the development and cultivation of a situation in which the outlook of the fundamentalist reactionaries occupies a prominent place, including among higher level officers. In the book Making the Corps (which, as the title suggests, focuses on the Marine Corps but also discusses other branches of the American military) the author, Thomas E. Ricks, notes that "the military increasingly appears to lean toward partisan conservatism." Ricks cites a number of statements from people in the military illustrating this viewpoint, and he quotes a typical denunciation of "'cultural radicals, people who hate our Judeo-Christian culture...[whose] agenda has slowly codified into a new ideology, usually known as 'multiculturalism' or 'political correctness,' that is in essence Marxism translated from economic into social and cultural terms.'" Ricks goes on to observe that this "reads like fairly standard right-wing American rhetoric of the nineties," such as might be expected from Robertson or Pat Buchanan, but its significance lies in the fact that its authors were two Marine reservists and William S. Lind, "a military analyst who has been influential on the doctrinal thinking of the Marines"; and, as Ricks expresses it, their "startling conclusion" is that "the next real war we fight is likely to be on American soil."1
This trend was further discussed and analyzed in Making Revolution and Emancipating Humanity, a talk given by Bob Avakian in 2007. It's worth quoting at some length:
This underscores the importance for the ruling class of a religious fundamentalist—a Christian Fascist—movement, which insists that America should have, and must have, a special relationship to God and must impose its "God-ordained mission" on the world, at the point of a gun (or through high-tech military means). It further explains (and "situates") the very fervent advocacy on the part of a section of the ruling class on behalf of this Christian Fascist orientation and program as a cohering force, in the context of the juggernaut of war and repression that is being driven forward now by the Bush regime.
Very significantly, there are two major forces and institutions in the U.S. today which, in opposition to the rampant individualism characterizing the society as a whole, embody an opposite pole. That is, two major forces and institutions which represent the interests of the ruling class and embody an opposite pole to extreme individualism in that way—an opposite pole of reactionary, fascistic-oriented, and extremely hierarchal collectivism. What are these two institutions? The Christian Fascist churches and the military. Here we see another basis for the close intertwining of the two and the great influence of the Christian Fascists within particularly the officer corps of the U.S. military.
While Trump himself "models" an extreme individualism, both those forces have learned to "make allowances" for that and are very much "down with the program." And now both those forces are strongly represented and being further welded together in the Trump core in what seems to be shaping up as an even tighter way.
In addition to the theocratic fanaticism of Mike Pence (see "Mike Pence: A Christian Fascist Who's a Heartbeat Away From the Presidency"), there is also the lesser-known Christian fascist angle of Steven Bannon, Trump's chief adviser. With Bannon, it's hard to know where to start in going into his reactionary views, and a lot of people have very justly emphasized Bannon's ties to and promotion of the so-called "alt-right"—which, as we and others have pointed out, should actually be called "neo-Nazi."
In the past few weeks, however, a talk that Bannon gave two years ago at a conference held inside the Vatican has emerged. In this talk, Bannon quite clearly lays out a "holy war" perspective of "Judeo-Christian capitalism" versus Islam. He traces this back to religious wars of the past and in the process accuses "secularism" of sapping the "strength" of the West.2
Bannon brings together Christian fascism with the unabashed promotion of white supremacy and the incredibly putrid, hate-filled, and open misogyny trafficked in by Breitbart.com, which he ran before joining up with Trump. Flynn, with Mattis and whoever else may come aboard from the military, adds in significant sections of the imperialist armed forces. This is a vicious, toxic alliance.
Nevertheless, the liberal bourgeoisie continues to attempt to "normalize" and legitimize Trump. The New York Times, in a front-page article that could justly be called a "puff piece," last week promoted Bannon as a "combative populist." ("In Trump, Populist Provocateur Found a Man For His Mission," Scott Shane, November 28) The article was filled with "up close-and-personal" (though sometimes anonymous) character references alleging Bannon's supposed personal lack of racism, along with irrelevant material about how hard he works, etc., but included only a relatively minimal mention of the political trends he was promoting in his mission to, as he put it in July, give the "alt-right a platform" at Breitbart.com. The method here was to give a very toned-down and not-very-substantive rendition of the criticism of Bannon, then answer this with anecdotes and personal testimonies, and then move on, evidently hoping to leave the reader in a muddle—left to feel that the personal anecdotes somehow refute the political accusations, or that this guy is kind of complex. To put it another way, there was just enough negative in the piece to make it come off to liberal Times readers uncomfortable with Bannon as "balanced," while the net effect was to "humanize" him. Meanwhile, this guy is a monster methodically putting in place monstrous people and promoting monstrous things.
When some Times readers correctly protested what has to be called a "whitewashing"—one reader put it that "Populist as a euphemism for white supremacist is why the Times continues to fail its readers"—and did so in apparently large enough numbers to require a public defense, the "public editor" took the readers to task. ("When the Language of Politics Becomes a Minefield," Liz Spayd) The readers, said Spayd, did not appreciate the "bravery" of the author's use of "nuance." With this attitude, you'll "bravely nuance" your way into watching them load the trains to the concentration camps, reflecting on the complexity of Trump and his thugs and the "messiness" of the truth about him. Spayd goes on to defend the Times by trivializing the critiques of those who think that the Times is party to "duping" (her word) the public into granting Trump legitimacy. She does this by making it out as if the critics are quibbling over definitions and word usage (which in fact ARE significant) but ignores the larger criticisms of its overall stance and coverage. (See, for instance, "The New York Times Meets with Trump: A Dangerous Step in 'Normalizing' Fascism.")
She ends by mentioning that by Friday, after several other major news organizations had decided to continue using the sanitized term "alt-right" but only with definitions, the Times said it would henceforth describe "alt-right" as a "racist, far-right fringe movement that embraces an ideology of white nationalism and is anti-immigrant, anti-Semitic and anti-feminist." Let's leave aside that this definition itself is somewhat sanitized. What the fuck is "white nationalism" if it is NOT white racism and white supremacy, taken to the genocidal extremes of at minimum segregation and ethnic cleansing and at worst straight-up concentration camps? And let's not forget that these people were "hailing" Trump at their rally—and to call Bannon and his "alt-right platform" Breitbart.com "anti-feminist" considerably softens the extreme misogyny of the site*—do you really think we'll get a two-and-a-half-page piece any time soon from the Times on "In Trump, Neo-Nazi Provocateur Found a Man for His Mission"?3
But to return to the Christian fascist component of the Trump clique per se, while a great deal of attention has deservedly been paid to the Supreme Court—which Trump will almost certainly be able to pack with extreme right-wing and openly Christian fascist judges—very little has been paid to the federal courts below it. These courts decide a great many more cases than the Supreme Court and these decisions—including decisions which "go against precedent" (that is, decisions which change the understanding of what is constitutionally permitted or not)—often "set the table" for the Supreme Court. Right now, 30 percent of those judgeships are vacant, due to the Republican refusal for the past six years to allow Obama to fill them. Trump, with a pliant Republican Congress, will honeycomb these courts with Christian fascists.
How do we know this? Because Trump himself, in order to win over these Christian fascists, released a list last spring of those whom he would consider for the Supreme Court and other federal judgeships, and this was little more than a Christian fascist wish list.
You quite often hear people say that Trump won't really be able to institute fascism in the U.S. because of the "checks and balances." Really? The heart of the so-called checks and balances is supposed to be the courts—but these courts will be filled with Trump appointees. What then happens to everything from the rights of free expression and the legal safeguards for criminal defendants to the right to abortion and birth control, from the right for Black people and Brown people to vote or travel or go to school to the right of gay people to marry, and so on down the line?
Compounding that has been the vast expansion of executive power overseen by George W. Bush and then Obama, in which U.S. presidents literally have arrogated to themselves the power to order the deaths of U.S. citizens—without a trial, without charges, without even acknowledging they did it.
Ever since the election, Trump has continued to use his Twitter account to lash out at his critics. Be the criticisms mild or fierce, dull or pointed, none must dare speak against the emperor.
Yet on Tuesday, November 29, Trump went further in this—apparently set off by a controversy at Hampshire College, where students burned an American flag in protest. Trump demanded that flag burners be sent to prison or have their citizenship stripped. As we wrote in "Trump Threatens Flag Burners... A Challenge to All Who Stand with HUMANITY": "But now the president-elect of the United States, the next commander in chief, just decreed—without any legal justification—that this act of dissent and free speech should result in people going to jail, or even becoming stateless people without citizenship, without any legal protections at all. Trump's threat smacks of the Nazi legislation—and the Nazi mentality—that made it a crime to 'profane' the swastika. This is deadly serious. It is a hint, along with so many other outrages, of the kind of fascist regime that Trump intends to impose. It is yet another reason why people cannot normalize this, but must actually undertake unprecedented resistance to prevent Trump from consolidating his regime."
Here it's important to note that Trump is not alone in wanting to imprison people for constitutionally protected protest—Hillary Clinton, as recently as 2005, put in a bill demanding a year in prison for anyone burning a flag. This is bad enough; where Trump "goes her one worse" is in the utterly illegal demand that people who protest forced patriotism be made into stateless pariahs, without any rights anywhere.
Then on Thursday, Trump held a mass rally in Cincinnati, which had all the character of his pre-election rallies—the "lock her up" and "build the wall" chants, the strutting and preening, the fact-free claims and boasts. Within this disgusting stew, Trump reiterated his call for "consequences" for those who burn the flag. (Trump's followers, organized by the fascist zealot Alex Jones, had earlier tried to both prevent the Revolution Club and Joey Johnson from burning the flag at the Republican National Convention by physically attacking them—they admitted this on YouTube—and then, when that didn't work, colluded with the Cleveland Police to arrest and frame them. See "Joey Johnson and the RNC 16 Put the System on Trial in Cleveland.")
This rally in Cincinnati was not just egomania. That's an element, to be sure, but there's method and purpose to this madness. Trump aims to continue stoking his social base to stay on the offensive as a key part of how he intends to rule.
In an article titled "'Putting lipstick on a pig': Experts on why Obama is lending Trump a hand," the Guardian newspaper (Sunday, December 4) noted the unusually frequent phone calls between Obama and Trump. The article notes that many think this is having the effect of legitimizing Trump. Here again the newspaper notes the charges that Obama is "normalizing" Trump, only to give pride of place (and space) to those who rush to refute such charges, assuring us that Obama is actually reining Trump in.
Really? Leaving aside who's playing who, the objective effect of making known Obama's cooperation with Trump is in fact to not just normalize Trump, but to politically disarm those who look to Obama—including a great many Black people, as well as progressive-minded people more generally—as to the dire threat posed by Trump. This has gone along with a lot of talk about respecting the process of "our great tradition of the peaceful transfer of power."
This reveals an important truth: the much‑proclaimed "peaceful transfer of power" is in fact nothing more than the relatively orderly passing of the reins of government and the organs of state power among competing factions within the same capitalist‑imperialist ruling class, with the bourgeois electoral process serving as a key vehicle through which this is achieved. In this regard, Obama unwittingly performed a real service when, in speaking to why it is proper and necessary to accept the results of such elections, even when they are disappointing, he invoked this metaphor: This is an "intramural" contest, among people on the same team.
Precisely so, for you Mr. Obama, and the rest of the murderous "ladies and gentlemen" of the capitalist‑imperialist ruling class—and thank you for making very clear once again where, and with whom and with what, you actually stand. But this is not a game for the masses of humanity, who are not on the same "team" with you and those you represent—masses whose interests, right now and in fundamental terms, are in profound and antagonistic opposition to all the atrocity and horror perpetrated and enforced by your "team" and the system it serves.
Similarly the actions of Bernie Sanders, who talks of working with Trump "where we agree and opposing him where we disagree," which amounts to saying you'd vote for Hitler to build the concentration camps but vote against actually putting the Jews in them... or of those who talk of meeting the Trump supporters halfway and listening to their legitimate grievances, as if the open espousal or at minimum tolerance of blatant racism, woman-hating, and xenophobia does not delegitimize what they do or say... all this feeds conciliation, accommodation, and collaboration. The real infrastructure it builds is the architecture of hell.
For these people, it is clear: they would rather see Trump comfortably in office, "succeeding," subject at most to some petty hectoring from Democratic politicians, than to see masses in the streets demanding that this program be stopped and prevented, and Trump ousted. Why this is so has been well-outlined in BAsics 3:11, we'll run it again here:
These right-wing politicians (generally grouped within the Republican Party) can, will, and do actively mobilize this essentially fascist social base...yet, on the other side, the sections of the ruling class that are more generally represented by the Democratic Party are very reluctant to, and in fact resistant to, mobilizing...the base of people whose votes and support in the bourgeois political arena the Democrats seek to gain. This (Democratic Party) side of the ruling class generally is not desirous of—and in fact recoils at the idea of—calling that base into the streets, mobilizing them either to take on the opposing forces in the ruling class and their social base or in general to struggle for the programs that the Democratic Party itself claims to represent and actually in some measure does seek to implement....
As an amplification of the basic point here, it is important to recognize this: Within the framework of the capitalist-imperialist system, and with the underlying dynamics of this system, which fundamentally set the terms, and the confines, of "official" and "acceptable" politics, fascism—that is, the imposition of a form of dictatorship which openly relies on violence and terror to maintain the rule and the imperatives of the capitalist-imperialist system—is one possible resolution of the contradictions that this system is facing—a resolution that could, at a certain point, more or less correspond to the compelling needs of this system and its ruling class—while revolution and real socialism, aiming toward the final goal of communism, throughout the world, is also a possible resolution of these contradictions, but one that would most definitely not be acceptable to the capitalist-imperialist ruling class nor compatible with the imperatives of this system!
Trumpism can be defeated. But it can only be defeated by stepping outside the bounds of what this system and its representatives, whether Democrat or Republican, deem to be acceptable.
But there's a further point, which we must not lose sight of: This most recent bourgeois electoral process has necessitated, on the part of those representing this ruling class, an emphasis on the importance of this "peaceful transfer of power," well beyond what has been the case in more "normal" times. This illustrates both how important this "peaceful transfer of power" is as a key part of the cohering mythology of this system as a "bastion of democracy" and that this has been significantly torn and tattered through this current bourgeois electoral process, particularly through the actions of Trump and the fascist forces he has further called forth and cohered.
In short, the rise of Trump shows on the one hand the real teeth of this system and the fundamental unity of those running it, whatever their differences and however sharp they may be. We must not underestimate the harm Trump can bring down, all over the world and right here. Trump has attacked hundreds of millions of people around the world, threatening and demeaning them, and comes to office with a range of programs that take the horrors of imperialism to a more grotesque and horrific level. The threats of war, of tremendously accelerated destruction of the environment, of the all-round slamming down and slamming back of women, of an inhuman and vicious attitude toward immigrants and to anyone who is different, and a program of outright fascist suppression for Black and other oppressed nationalities within the U.S.—this, together with constant threats of legal and extralegal attack against all who oppose this program, is fascism. And this is Trumpism.
At the same time, we must not underestimate the potential for resistance to this. Again, there is the very fact that, as noted above, the legitimacy of the "process" is torn and tattered to a large degree. The fact that the liberal capitalist politicians and newspapers have to scramble to normalize Trump, and then defensively claim that they are not, shows just how volatile things are for them. There is a huge reservoir of people for whom Trump is illegitimate: this is a problem for the ruling class, which they are working on; but this is a potential strength for people who want a better, more liberated world and who, as part of that refuse to accept a fascist America. And this is something which we, all of us, must work on.
What is clear from the past few weeks is this: Trump intends to institute a Fascist America; there are significant forces, institutions, and people bent on normalizing this; and there is an urgent need to set different terms and to resist.
Trump must be prevented from consolidating this fascist regime. He must be ousted. And a system that gives rise to a Trump—that not only gives rise to Trump, but as Bob Avakian shows so convincingly in "The Truth About Right-Wing Conspiracy...And Why Clinton and the Democrats Are No Answer" and "The Fascists and the Destruction of the 'Weimar Republic'... And What Replaces It," has paved the way for this and now requires something of this order to keep going—must be overthrown.
This process must be taken much, much further. Now.
1. Democrats, and some liberals, including Ricks himself, have welcomed Mattis’ appointment, from the viewpoint that this “mad dog” will introduce some realism to Trump. This is more wishful thinking, combined with a view that the realism that Mattis stands for—more efficiently brutal use of U.S. military force, in the service of bloody worldwide domination—is actually a good thing. In fact, the “mad dog” will either obey his master’s command or he will be fired. Indeed, Trump openly boasted during his campaign, when asked what would happen if a general refused an order to commit war crimes, said “they’ll follow the orders” in a tone so nasty that the “or else” was clearly implied. Meanwhile, the militarism so characteristic of and necessary to fascism has been further reinforced, to the accompaniment of liberal wishful thinking and accommodation in advance to the horrors yet to come.
2. To get a sense of this, read the following question/answer from this talk:
Questioner: One of my questions has to do with how the West should be responding to radical Islam. How, specifically, should we as the West respond to Jihadism without losing our own soul? Because we can win the war and lose ourselves at the same time. How should the West respond to radical Islam and not lose itself in the process?
Bannon: From a perspective—this may be a little more militant than others. I think definitely you’re going to need an aspect that is [unintelligible]. I believe you should take a very, very, very aggressive stance against radical Islam. And I realize there are other aspects that are not as militant and not as aggressive and that’s fine.
If you look back at the long history of the Judeo-Christian West struggle against Islam [editor’s note: Islam full stop, not “radical Islam”], I believe that our forefathers kept their stance, and I think they did the right thing. I think they kept it out of the world, whether it was at Vienna, or Tours, or other places... It bequeathed to us the great institution that is the church of the West.
And I would ask everybody in the audience today, because you really are the movers and drivers and shakers and thought leaders in the Catholic Church today, is to think, when people 500 years from now are going to think about today, think about the actions you’ve taken—and I believe everyone associated with the church and associated with the Judeo-Christian West that believes in the underpinnings of that and believes in the precepts of that and want to see that bequeathed to other generations down the road as it was bequeathed to us, particularly as you’re in a city like Rome, and in a place like the Vatican, see what’s been bequeathed to us—ask yourself, 500 years from today, what are they going to say about me? What are they going to say about what I did at the beginning stages of this crisis?
Because it is a crisis, and it’s not going away. You don’t have to take my word for it. All you have to do is read the news every day, see what’s coming up, see what they’re putting on Twitter, what they’re putting on Facebook, see what’s on CNN, what’s on BBC. See what’s happening, and you will see we’re in a war of immense proportions. It’s very easy to play to our baser instincts, and we can’t do that. But our forefathers didn’t do it either. And they were able to stave this off, and they were able to defeat it, and they were able to bequeath to us a church and a civilization that really is the flower of mankind, so I think it’s incumbent on all of us to do what I call a gut check, to really think about what our role is in this battle that’s before us.
3. For example, Breitbart’s technology editor, Milo Yiannopoulos, was the point man in promoting “GamerGate,” a vicious misogynistic campaign that included a flood of degrading attacks and terroristic threats against the small number of prominent women in the video-game development community.
Revolution #468 December 5, 2016
A Talk by Sunsara Taylor at Revolution Books New York
December 2, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
The following is a presentation given by Sunsara Taylor writer for Revolution/revcom.us, on November 30 at Revolution Books called, "What the Trump/Pence Victory Means for Women." The description of that talk was, "Trump is a walking embodiment of rape culture—bragging about sexual assault, crudely degrading and insulting women and girls. Pence is a Christian fascist theocrat determined to criminalize abortion, deny birth control, and legalize bigotry against LGBT people. Together, their victory represents an unprecedented threat against women. They must be met with massive, determined resistance."
Revolution #468 December 5, 2016
December 5, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Donald Trump has chosen retired Marine Corps General James “Mad Dog” Mattis as his Secretary of Defense. He’s the latest addition to Trump’s storm trooper team. Mattis’ mantra: "Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everyone you meet."
Mattis' got his nickname “Mad Dog” for his role in leading U.S. troops in laying waste to the Iraqi city of Fallujah in November 2004, massacring insurgents and civilians alike. Most of that modern city of 300,000 was completely destroyed, reduced to rubble. At least 60 percent of those killed were women, children, and the elderly. A correspondent wrote: "There has been nothing like the attack on Fallujah since the Nazi invasion and occupation of much of the European continent—the shelling and bombing of Warsaw in September 1939, the terror bombing of Rotterdam in May 1940."
The U.S. terrorist attack in Fallujah that Mattis led included use of white phosphorus, the chemical fired by Marine artillery battery units. Use of white phosphorus violates international law and is a war crime. Often compared with the devastating effects of napalm, used extensively by the U.S. military during the Vietnam War, white phosphorus can burn right through skin to the bone. A U.S. Army specialist involved in the Fallujah attack reported: "I saw the burned bodies of women and children.... Whoever is within a 150-meter radius has no hope."
When the U.S. launched its invasion of Iraq in 2003, Mattis, then leader of a Marine division as a major general, used the call name "Chaos" to reflect the utter havoc and destruction he set out to wreak on the march to Baghdad. He once told Iraqi leaders: "If you fuck with me, I'll kill you all."
During the campaign, Trump promised escalate the war against Islamic fundamentalism with a no-holds barred, ruthless approach. In last month's interview with the New York Times, Trump said “I think it’s time maybe, it’s time for a general. Look at what’s going on. We don’t win, we can’t beat anybody, we don’t win anymore. At anything.”
“President Trump is also likely to double down on the use of conventional military force.” Andrew Bacevich, author of America’s War for the Greater Middle East, wrote before Mattis’ selection. “In that regard, his promise to ‘quickly and decisively bomb the hell out of ISIS’ offers a hint of what is to come. His appointment of the uber-hawkish Lieutenant General Michael Flynn as his national security adviser and his rumored selection of retired Marine Corps General James (“Mad Dog”) Mattis as defense secretary suggest that he means what he says.”
All this promises great horrors for humanity. It must be stopped.
Revolution #468 December 5, 2016
December 5, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Fascism is the exercise of blatant dictatorship by the bourgeois (capitalist-imperialist) class, ruling through reliance on open terror and violence, trampling on what are supposed to be civil and legal rights, wielding the power of the state, and mobilizing organized groups of fanatical thugs, to commit atrocities against masses of people, particularly groups of people identified as “enemies,” “undesirables,” or “dangers to society.”
At the same time—and this can be seen through studying the examples of Nazi Germany and Italy under Mussolini—while it will likely move quickly to enforce certain repressive measures in consolidating its rule, a fascist regime is also likely to implement its program overall through a series of stages and even attempt at different points to reassure the people, or certain groups among the people, that they will escape the horrors—if they quietly go along and do not protest or resist while others are being terrorized and targeted for repression, deportation, “conversion,” prison, or execution.
Revolution #468 December 5, 2016
December 5, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
...as the confrontation comes down between this system and its brutal repression, on the one side—and masses of people who are and will be going up against this in fighting against the oppression perpetrated by this system and for a more just society, on the other?
Revolution #468 December 5, 2016
December 5, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
“This is how our system works,” say those—fascist and liberal alike—who insist that you have to accept the results of this election.
This is how your system works—and look what it has produced!
In the Name of Humanity, We REFUSE to Accept a Fascist America.
Revolution #468 December 5, 2016
December 5, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
One of the main ways that fascism is being “normalized” now is to deny that fascism is fascism—to deny that blatant racism is racism, that blatant misogyny is misogyny, that blatant xenophobia is xenophobia—to deny that bigotry is bigotry, even when it is spewed forth in genocidal terms.
Revolution #468 December 5, 2016
Editors' note: The following is an excerpt from the new work by Bob Avakian, THE NEW COMMUNISM. In addition to excerpts already posted on revcom.us, we will be running further excerpts from time to time on both revcom.us and in Revolution newspaper. These excerpts should serve as encouragement and inspiration for people to get into the work as a whole, which is available as a book from Insight Press. A prepublication copy is available on line at revcom.us.
This excerpt comes from the section titled "III. The Strategic Approach to An Actual Revolution."
Here is a point that’s been made before: You have this kind of pyramid, with the ruling class at the top, and on one side of this are openly reactionary and fascistic forces, like all those clowns—and worse than clowns—competing even now for the Republican nomination. Jesus Christ! Donald Trump, 75% of the news these days is about Donald Trump. But there’s a reason for that. Not just one section of the ruling class, but the ruling class as a whole feels it’s important to have this atmosphere of anti-immigrant hysteria, and other reactionary fascistic kinds of programs, put forward as part of “legitimate political discourse.” And the more openly reactionary and fascist section of the ruling class, on one side at the top of this pyramid, is very aggressively pushing its program, while the other side is continually conciliating with that—and even when they fight back, they mainly fight back to conciliate and compromise more. Then you go down the two sides of the pyramid, and you get the different social bases in society: you get those forces in society that more spontaneously gravitate toward the ruling class programs and policies that are promoted as “liberal” or “progressive”; and, on the other side, you have those who more spontaneously gravitate toward openly reactionary fascistic-type programs and policies. Well, we have to repolarize this to a very great degree—and we not only have to win over large numbers of those who are presently “under the wing” of the section of the ruling class presenting itself as “liberal,” or “progressive” (as embodied, more or less, in the Democratic Party); we also have to win over, or politically neutralize, as much as possible, those who now look to the section of the ruling class that is more openly reactionary and fascistic (as represented by the core of the Republican Party). It is important to be clear on this: There are decisive and deep-going contradictions around which there are very real differences within the ruling class, in terms of how to deal with those contradictions—and the sharpening of those differences, to the point where it becomes increasingly difficult for the ruling class as a whole to maintain relative unity in its ranks and continue ruling in a way that maintains the “normal functioning” of its system, is one of the key elements in the development of a revolutionary situation—but the coming civil war is not going to take shape in terms of the “liberal section” of the ruling class waging some kind of all-out fight against the fascist section of the ruling class. That’s not how it’s gonna go—and that’s not the situation, and the polarization, that we want and need. The alignment in society has to be radically transformed—winning growing numbers of people, not just among the basic masses but more broadly as well, away from a position of subordination and “allegiance” to one or another section of the ruling class and to the system that this ruling class as a whole represents and enforces.
These things are—here comes that word again—complex. An actual revolution might involve a significant element of fighting against attempts to undermine or to eliminate certain aspects of bourgeois-democratic rights (things like the right to protest); and we, as scientific communists, have to know not only how to correctly wage but to lead that aspect of the fight, without allowing it to be, or to remain, on the terms of bourgeois democracy (just preserving the bourgeois system with the rights you’re supposed to have under this system). In the book Democracy: Can’t We Do Better Than That? the point is made that the contradiction between the professions of bourgeois democracy and the reality of what it means to live under what is in fact the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie—that contradiction is a constant source of two things: a constant source of struggle, of resistance and rebellion, against the way in which the ruling class and its state constantly trample on supposed rights under this system; and, at the same time, a constant source of regenerating illusions (“If we could just have our rights, if everybody could just be treated equally,” and so on and so forth). Well, we have to know how to handle that contradiction in a way that doesn’t reinforce bourgeois democracy—which is, in reality and in essence, bourgeois dictatorship—but instead leads toward the overthrow of the bourgeois (capitalist) system that this dictatorship maintains and enforces. Here enters in another important point from Lenin, which we have to grasp firmly: Lenin emphasized that a socialist revolution is not made in some kind of simpleminded way where one army lines up somewhere and says, “we’re for socialism,” and another army lines up and says, “we’re for imperialism.” Nothing that simpleminded will ever lead to a revolution. There is, and will be, all kinds of complexity in the field, including forces who are all over the map and going this way and that.
Now, speaking of maps, this relates to the point I’ve made before, using the metaphor of a multi-colored and multi-layered map—although I don’t know if people have understood that metaphor, and what it’s getting at, correctly. That metaphor is speaking to social contradictions and contradictory social phenomena and trends. What it’s getting at is that there are different ways that people in society can be identified and “categorized”—for example, population by gender, population by “race,” population by income and social status, identification of people according to whether they hold different beliefs, and so on—and these things both overlap and separate people out. For example, you have in the middle strata, or particularly in the educated middle strata, a growing move toward secularism. A lot of atheists are coming out of the closet these days. And this growing phenomenon of secularism among educated middle strata is definitely a positive development. But, they have a lot of shit that keeps them away from the revolution. You can think of what is represented by that skeptic Michael Shermer, to whom I referred to earlier—on the one hand, opposition to religious obscurantism and a fairly passionate advocacy of critical thinking and rational thought, but on the other hand a striking blindness regarding the actual reality of capitalism and its consequences, and what can only be described as a kind of shamefaced apology for the horrors that are embodied in the history of this country and the development of capitalism here, including the reality and role of slavery in all this. And, at the same time, among this section of the middle class in particular, there is at this point all the relativism, as well as anti-communism, with which we are all too familiar. This is very sharply dissected in the Interview with Ardea Skybreak, where she speaks about the contradictory attitudes that are common among these people: Well, we kinda want radical change, but, uhhhh, we kinda don’t. But there is this positive development toward secularism, as well as some other positive sentiments and inclinations among these strata.
Then you’ve got the people who are the real bedrock base for this revolution, and who most desperately need this revolution, but who are, more than ever right now, steeped and mired in a lot of religious obscurantism.
So, if you have a simpleminded approach, you’re never going to get anywhere. All you can do is add up the negative parts: We can’t get to the middle strata because they’re all caught up in this, “Eh, we kinda do, but, eh, we kinda don’t; oh, and my life’s not so bad, personally, if you don’t mind my saying so, and even if you do”; and, on the other hand, you have masses who are, yes, terribly oppressed, but they’re overwhelmingly caught up in religion right now, and this is a real chain on them. You could look at that and conclude that we’re never gonna get anywhere. But if you are being scientific—if you are applying dialectical materialism, in a living way—you recognize that these are contradictions we’re faced with, and the question is: How are we going to work on them, in which direction are we working on these contradictions? How do we carry out work and struggle so that, as Mao put it, we mobilize all positive factors? Not by making them up in our imaginations—or by trying to “add up” the positive elements in a linear and mechanical way, while ignoring the negative side of things—but by working on the actual contradictions with an approach that, yes, unites with and builds on the positive aspects, and at the same time transforms and repolarizes people, and in that way combines all positive factors. These are all the kinds of things you have to deal with if you actually want to get out from this horror show that masses of people are forced to live under, day after day, generation after generation.
Introduction and Orientation
Foolish Victims of Deceit, and Self-Deceit
Part I. Method and Approach, Communism as a Science
Materialism vs. Idealism
Through Which Mode of Production
The Basic Contradictions and Dynamics of Capitalism
The New Synthesis of Communism
The Basis for Revolution
Epistemology and Morality, Objective Truth and Relativist Nonsense
Self and a “Consumerist” Approach to Ideas
What Is Your Life Going to Be About?—Raising People’s Sights
Part II. Socialism and the Advance to Communism:
A Radically Different Way the World Could Be, A Road to Real Emancipation
The “4 Alls”
Beyond the Narrow Horizon of Bourgeois Right
Socialism as an Economic System and a Political System—And a Transition to Communism
Abundance, Revolution, and the Advance to Communism—A Dialectical Materialist Understanding
The Importance of the “Parachute Point”—Even Now, and Even More With An Actual Revolution
The Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America—
Solid Core with a Lot of Elasticity on the Basis of the Solid Core
Emancipators of Humanity
Part III. The Strategic Approach to An Actual Revolution
One Overall Strategic Approach
Hastening While Awaiting
Forces For Revolution
Separation of the Communist Movement from the Labor Movement, Driving Forces for Revolution
National Liberation and Proletarian Revolution
The Strategic Importance of the Struggle for the Emancipation of Women
The United Front under the Leadership of the Proletariat
Youth, Students and the Intelligentsia
Struggling Against Petit Bourgeois Modes of Thinking, While Maintaining the Correct Strategic Orientation
The “Two Maximizings”
The “5 Stops”
The Two Mainstays
Returning to "On the Possibility of Revolution"
Internationalism and an International Dimension
Internationalism—Bringing Forward Another Way
Popularizing the Strategy
Part IV. The Leadership We Need
The Decisive Role of Leadership
A Leading Core of Intellectuals—and the Contradictions Bound Up with This
Another Kind of “Pyramid”
The Cultural Revolution Within the RCP
The Need for Communists to Be Communists
A Fundamentally Antagonistic Relation—and the Crucial Implications of That
Strengthening the Party—Qualitatively as well as Quantitatively
Forms of Revolutionary Organization, and the “Ohio”
Statesmen, and Strategic Commanders
Methods of Leadership, the Science and the “Art” of Leadership
Working Back from “On the Possibility”—
Another Application of “Solid Core with a Lot of Elasticity on the Basis of the Solid Core”
The New Synthesis of Communism:
Fundamental Orientation, Method and Approach,
and Core Elements—An Outline
by Bob Avakian
Framework and Guidelines for Study and Discussion
Selected List of Works Cited
About the Author
Revolution #468 December 5, 2016
Excerpt from SCIENCE AND REVOLUTION, On the Importance of Science and the Application of Science to Society, the New Synthesis of Communism, and the Leadership of Bob Avakian, An Interview with Ardea Skybreak
December 5, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
In the early part of 2015, over a number of days, Revolution conducted a wide-ranging interview with Ardea Skybreak. A scientist with professional training in ecology and evolutionary biology, and an advocate of the new synthesis of communism brought forward by Bob Avakian, Skybreak is the author of, among other works, The Science of Evolution and the Myth of Creationism: Knowing What’s Real and Why It Matters, and Of Primeval Steps and Future Leaps: An Essay on the Emergence of Human Beings, the Source of Women’s Oppression, and the Road to Emancipation. This interview was first published online at www.revcom.us.
This excerpt from the interview discusses how the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America is an application of the new synthesis brought forward by Bob Avakian. (The topic of "What is New in the New Synthesis?" is discussed in another excerpt from this interview with Ardea Skybreak, posted November 16, 2015).
AS Continues: And there are also the very important theoretical advances brought forward by the new synthesis in relation to how to start building a new society, on the correct basis and with the right methods and approaches. Here too there are a lot of ways you could go horribly off-track with all this, so it is very important to grapple, even now, with what would constitute those correct vs. incorrect approaches. There are so many things you’d have to move quickly to restructure, and some that would take more time. Of course you should have a planned economy, and you should bring into play ways of restructuring the economy so it’s not geared for private profit (the way it is under capitalism) and instead it’s more geared to meet the material needs of the people broadly in society. But this can’t be approached narrowly or simplistically or with narrow reductionist objectives. There are many complex contradictions involved in precisely how to do that, as everybody in the past has discovered. Whom you involve, where you put your priorities, what the overall feel of life in the society will be like, and so on. The methods of the new synthesis allow you not only to recognize the core aspects of what’s wrong with capitalist economies and to contrast that with the core features of a socialist planned economy that you should work to institute right away—the new synthesis also shows you how to do that in such a way as to bring along broader and broader sections of the people to willingly and consciously participate and contribute to that great societal restructuring.
Just to use one example, there’s some really radical thinking in that Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America about how to constitute civil society after the seizure of power. How do you restructure not just the economic institutions and the planning, and so on, but how do you establish and apply the rule of law? And a very radical thing, relative to past experience, is that the new synthesis' breakthroughs epistemologically and philosophically have led Bob Avakian to argue that a new socialist society should not have an official ideology. And that the communist party should seek to lead primarily politically and ideologically, in other words primarily through political and ideological orientation and guidance and struggle—more in that way than by trying to “tightly control” every single institution of society, as seems to have been too much the case in past socialist societies. This is very important, and it’s a good example of how the new synthesis has managed to internalize some of the positives of past socialist experience while also analyzing and breaking with some of the past rigidity in the approach to leading a new society. Certain critical institutions, like the armed forces for instance, would still be led by the Party, but at the same time they would be accountable to the Constitution, and it would be a violation of this Constitution, and the basic principles it embodies, for the armed forces to act against the rights of the people that are set forth in that Constitution. There would be civil institutions, and the role of the Party would remain somewhat separate from that. The new synthesis puts forward a lot of such very, very concrete and very new thinking in terms of how to approach building the new society, looking ahead to how you would structure things: the rule of law, the role of elections, contrasting elections in the current society and the future society, and speaking to the role elections should play in the overall process of the new society—these are all very concrete questions that are being deeply examined, and re-examined, on the basis of the new synthesis. How you protect people’s rights, while also keeping the society moving in the general direction in which it needs to go to meet the needs of humanity, to advance toward communism. How you deal with the question of the international contributions to the revolution and how that relates to the domestic situation.
So there are many, many complex questions that this new theoretical framework actually gives you a leg up on, a good starting point, to try to very concretely deal with the challenges of building a new society, in such a way that most people would want to live in it and that it keeps going forward toward the goal of communism. So here I have to put in another plug for this Constitution for the NSR, because I don’t know how much people realize what this actually represents, how radical this is! In other words, it’s kinda giving us a blueprint for what to start doing “the day after.” Sometimes I think, Oh, it’d be great to get to the seizure of power and actually have a socialist revolution and actually start building a new society. And then I often think, Oh boy, the day after the seizure of power—what do you do? That’s pretty complex, running a whole society, right? [laughs] But this Constitution, if people look through it, just even look at the headings and topics it covers, it actually gives you such a detailed, concrete framework...it’s a concrete application of the new synthesis to what the new society would look like. It really gives you a sense of where you could start, what you would start to work on transforming, and why. And I think that this Constitution for the NSR can be a very inspiring thing right now, today, as it can give people more of a sense of what the new society would actually look like. I think most people would actually find their place, with some genuine ease of mind, in this kind of society. I think that most people, if they really look into it, would say, “You know, I don’t know about everything in here, but I think I could live in this kind of new society. I think it would deal with a whole lot of the terrible abuses of this current society overnight, and that there would be enough room for some differences and for working things out that aren’t all figured out yet, and for moving things in a direction that would benefit the vast majority of people.” So this Constitution for the NSR is a very inspiring document, which is a direct result, a direct application, of Bob Avakian’s new synthesis of communism.
Revolution #468 December 5, 2016
December 5, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Students at colleges and universities across the country are raising the just demand that their schools declare themselves sanctuary campuses—places where undocumented immigrants, as well as LGBT people, Black people, and others targeted by Trump-ite fascists would be protected. Trump has threatened, among other anti-immigrant steps, to immediately cancel two measures signed by Obama that temporarily removed the threat of deportation from some youths who arrived in the U.S. as young children and some adults who have children born in the U.S. The program lured more than 700,000 youths into signing on to government databases—and among them are students at campuses around the country, now vulnerable to attacks from the government as well as fascist mobs whipped up by Trump.
On Wednesday, November 16, thousands of students at more than 100 schools walked out of classes, held rallies, and marched around campuses and through city streets demanding that their schools become sanctuaries where undocumented immigrants, LGBT people, and others are protected. Students were called to action via social media hashtag #SanctuaryCampus. Campuses where student walkouts took place included NYU and Columbia in New York City; other Ivy League universities like Yale, Harvard, Princeton, and Brown; Notre Dame; Stanford; University of Southern California; Oregon State University at Corvallis; University of Memphis; Rutgers in New Jersey; University of Michigan; Oberlin in Ohio; and Middlebury College in Vermont.
There was another #SanctuaryCampus protest call for Thursday, December 1. We are trying to learn more about those actions (and we encourage readers to send us reports on these and other resistance—send to email@example.com). Among the protests on December 1 were actions by students at three campuses in Texas. In Denton, north of Dallas, about 150 students at the University of North Texas and 100 at Texas Woman’s University walked out, rallied at their campuses, and then marched and joined together at Denton Town Square. At Texas State University in the Austin area, students from a coalition of groups rallied at the campus quad. Students at these and other campuses nationwide are also organizing petition campaigns to put forward their demands for sanctuary campuses to school administrators.
On the same day, December 1, the governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, sent out a threatening Twitter message: “Texas will not tolerate sanctuary campuses or cities. I will cut funding for any state campus if it establishes sanctuary status.” According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, a Georgia legislator is pushing a bill to defund any schools that declare themselves sanctuary campuses.
In response to the student protests and demands, some schools have declared themselves sanctuary campuses, and others, while not using the word “sanctuary,” have made public statements saying they are committed to following Obama’s executive order deferring deportations for hundreds of thousands of youths (known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA). The Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities issued a similar statement.
These statements by school administrators generally say that they are committed to not handing over information on the citizenship status of any students and not allowing any law enforcement to come on campus to arrest undocumented students—unless they have a court order, warrant, or subpoena. This caveat about a court order or subpoena is not right. Whatever the intentions of those who are putting this forward, it is a slippery road to collaboration with fascists.
If you were in Nazi Germany, should you say you won’t hand over Jewish people you were protecting to the Gestapo unless they had a subpoena from a court? Or if you were in the slavery-era South, should you say that you wouldn’t hand over a runaway slave you were sheltering to slave catchers unless they had a legal order? NO! You should not. Throughout history, no meaningful change for the better has ever come about by people staying within the bounds of unjust, oppressive laws. Look at the courageous students and others who deliberately broke the Jim Crow laws, or the Sanctuary Movement in the 1980s that defied and obstructed the U.S. government’s attempts to deport immigrants, just to name a couple of examples from this country.
Colleges, and everyone else, should say that they will stand in the way of any white supremacist, America-First fascists—whether officially from the government or in the form of mobs—coming after undocumented immigrants and others, NO MATTER WHAT.
Revolution #468 December 5, 2016
Updated February 26, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Roll over to enlarge
To understand the roots and the dynamics of Trump's election, get into these two pieces by Bob Avakian:
Excerpt from the film REVOLUTION AND RELIGION: A Dialogue Between CORNEL WEST & BOB AVAKIAN
View the entire film HERE.
Donald Trump went after the truth. He lied about Mexico and Mexicans. He lied about refugees. He lied about Black people. He lied about things extremely crucial and things unbelievably petty.
But this blizzard of lies had a purpose....
December 14, 2016
November 28, 2016
In the face of Donald Trump’s election, revcom.us put out a call to “REFUSE To Accept a Fascist America,” saying, “Don’t Conciliate... Don’t Accommodate... Don’t Collaborate.”
Let’s break these terms down, and look at some history:
Updated January 25, 2017
Updated February 15, 2017
Roll over to enlarge
On the Importance of Science and the Application of Science to Society, the New Synthesis of Communism, and the Leadership of Bob Avakian
An Interview with Ardea Skybreak
Available for download as PDF
Excerpt from the Interview: "The Constitution for the New Socialist Republic—A Visionary and Concrete Application of the New Synthesis"
The Advisory Board of RefuseFascism.org has updated the Call to Act that was issued in December 2016.
This new call is a continuation of the basic message, purpose and objective of RefuseFascism. This updated Call to Action is the unifying mission of RefuseFascism.org. RefuseFascism encourages people to sign this Call to Act, donate funds for its dissemination, and take up the fight to drive out the Trump/Pence Regime.
Read, Sign & Distribute The New Updated Refuse Fascism Call to Action:
The Trump/Pence Regime is a Fascist Regime. Not insult or exaggeration, this is what it is.
For the future of humanity and the planet, we, the people, must drive this regime out.
Donald Trump and Mike Pence have assembled a vicious cabal that has put forth positions and begun initiatives which demonstrate that they fully intend to shred political and social norms with catastrophic consequence. Because Trump has his finger on the nuclear trigger, the Trump/Pence regime is more dangerous to the world than even Hitler.
Fascism has direction and momentum. Dissent is piece by piece criminalized. The truth is bludgeoned. Group after group is demonized and targeted along a trajectory that leads to real horrors. All of this has already begun under the Trump Regime. History has shown that fascism must be stopped before it becomes too late.
Millions of people, outraged by this regime, took to the streets delivering a stinging rebuke to Trump the day after the inauguration. Protest and resistance continues against the many attacks on the people by the Trump/Pence administration. This must grow broader, deeper, and more determined. This resistance is righteous and necessary, but it is not sufficient. We must recognize that the character of fascism is that it can absorb separate acts of resistance while continually throwing the opposition off balance by rapidly moving its agenda forward. The Trump/Pence regime will repeatedly launch new highly repressive measures, eventually clamping down on all resistance and remaking the law... IF THEY ARE NOT DRIVEN FROM POWER... Read the entire Call to Action
Revolution #468 December 5, 2016
December 5, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On Tuesday, November 29, Donald Trump made the following post on his Twitter account: “Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag—if they do, there must be consequences—perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!”
This vile threat from the president-elect is part of a whole fascist assault on people’s rights and the rule of law, shredding established constitutional rights and imposing open violent repression against dissent. Burning the American flag is constitutionally protected free speech. Even the vicious and now-deceased Supreme Court “Justice” Antonin Scalia ruled with the majority in insisting that burning the flag is and must be protected speech. But Donald Trump has displayed utter contempt for traditional democratic rights, including the right to free speech and political dissent. On top of this, threatening to revoke citizenship in this way violated at least two other Supreme Court rulings.
What this threat underscores is that if Trump’s fascist regime is allowed to consolidate power, it will demolish what few rights and legal protections have been won through fierce struggle against the oppressive rule of bourgeois democracy, and there will be HELL to pay. This cannot be allowed.
There were immediate outpourings of anger and dissent online. Thousands of posts went up with the tags #NotMyPresident and #FreeSpeech. Recognizing the full danger of this threat from Trump and the need to act against it “IRL” (in real life), as well as from online, representatives of the New York City Revolution Club burned the American flag in front of the Trump International Hotel in Midtown Manhattan. Three of those are part of the RNC 16, Gregory "Joey" Johnson and 15 other people facing criminal charges for having burned the American flag as an act of protest outside the Republican National Convention this past summer.
The revcoms released footage of this and issued a #FlagBurningChallenge via Sunsara Taylor’s Twitter and Facebook feeds. As they burned the flag, Taylor stated, “[This flag] is a symbol of oppression. It is a symbol of slavery and genocide. The American flag stands for plunder. It stands for death squads in Guatemala. It stands for police murder of Black and Brown people. This flag stands for genocide of Native people and the assault on Standing Rock. This flag deserves to burn.”
In an interview about this action later on Fox radio's Alan Colmes Show, Sunsara Taylor explained that she burned the flag because it represents “a country that was founded on slavery and genocide and is a symbol of oppression.” But she also went further, explaining that Trump’s threat against flag burners is part of “shredding the Constitution,” criminalizing all dissent, and establishing “a fascist regime Donald Trump is promising.” She defended her reasons for burning the flag, but also called on everyone who refuses to accept a fascist America to stand up against this dangerous threat.
Powerful images and videos of the revcoms burning the U.S. flag were quickly disseminated through channels such as Reuters, Business Insider, Fox News, and many others. Major reactionary, as well as outright fascist, websites picked this up and spread it as well, like the New York Post, Brietbart, Alex Jones’ PrisonPlanet, Daily Mail, and many, many others.
By that night, #FlagBurningChallenge was trending on Twitter in the U.S. People around the country were sending photos of burning flags, a few sent footage of themselves burning the flag, and others sent commentary (for example, asking Donald Trump why he was more upset about burning flags than burning crosses). At the University of California, Berkeley, students answered the challenge of the Bay Area Revolution Club to step up and burn the flag on the spot, recording themselves making statements as they lit flags on fire in defiance of Trump’s tweet.
Along with this positive response, Trump’s fascist trolls launched vicious online harassment and threats against people who burned flags. This included, in at least one case, publishing the person’s home address. Such harassment and threats have long been serious, but it is important to now grasp that those doing this will have a champion in the White House. Clearly, the already very high stakes concentrated in flag burning, which is supposed to be constitutionally protected free speech, have gone up and are about to go up further. How we defend our movement and each other against such attacks is an increasingly pressing question.
On Thursday night, December 1, Trump doubled down on his threats. Speaking in Cincinnati, the first stop in his “Thank You Tour,” he whipped the crowd into a frenzy by asking them, “Do you agree with my stance that if people burn the American flag, there should be consequences?” The crowd went wild with cheers, then erupted into chants of “USA! USA!”
This makes all the more clear that his tweet was something he really meant and which he intends to follow through on. Further, even before he is able to act on this through the power of the state, he is consciously whipping up and unleashing a mob mentality among his base. Just like he whipped up violence at his campaign rallies by saying out loud how much he’d like to punch the protesters, or by pining for the days when protesters would be carried out in stretchers, he is very consciously whipping up a mob mentality and potentially violent acts against people who burn the flag today. This is extremely dangerous.
Trump is also doing more than this. Ohio is where the Republican National Convention took place. It is also where Gregory “Joey” Johnson and 15 others were arrested for burning the American flag as a form of protest outside the convention last summer. These 16 people, the RNC 16, are currently facing serious charges. (See Joey Johnson, Notorious Flag Burner: Burning the Flag at the RNC Was Right and Necessary; Donald Trump’s Threats Cannot Be Allowed.” By insisting that there must be consequences, Trump is objectively weighing in very heavily and making it much less likely they will receive a fair trial. Worth noting as well: In the same set of comments where Trump again threatened flag burners, he called out protesters who criticize him but also don’t vote. Members of the RNC 16, most of them revcoms, were very boldly making clear the whole time that they were organizing to overthrow, not vote for, the system that rules over us. While Trump didn’t name them specifically, his description was strikingly specific.
At times like this, there is no neutrality. The divide in society is sharpening up everywhere. Courageous water defenders at Standing Rock face down dangerous assault and state-backed repression. Protesters against police murder and modern day lynchings are assaulted as white supremacists and Nazis are elevated to positions of power in the state. Campuses and religious communities are stepping forward to have the backs of immigrants whose lives and families are directly threatened as hate crimes and bigotry hit record levels. The right to abortion and basic respect for women are in lethal danger as Trump and Vice President-elect Pence will soon select a Supreme Court justice and have been legitimized through this election. The future of millions and millions throughout this country, and literally billions around the world, will be affected for the worse if Trump is able to consolidate his fascist program. A key part of stopping him—and resisting every crime he carries out and every new assault he and his followers unleash—is defending the right of people to stand up and protest, to speak freely what is on their minds, and to not be forced to risk physical assault, jail, denial of citizenship or death to do so.
Defend the right to burn the flag. Take up the #FlagBurningChallenge. Support the RNC 16.
Revolution #468 December 5, 2016
December 5, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On November 29, Donald Trump threatened: “Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag—if they do, there must be consequences—perhaps loss of citizenship or a year in jail.”
Gregory “Joey” Johnson and others from the Revolution Club burned the American flag in Cleveland at the entrance of the Republican National Convention on July 20, 2016, the night Trump was nominated. Joey Johnson and other flag burners were violently assaulted by the police and pro-Trump fascist thugs associated with Alex Jones and InfoWars. Joey Johnson is the same Johnson in the U.S. Supreme Court case Texas v. Johnson (1989) that established flag burning as protected speech. Johnson and 15 others—the RNC 16—currently face serious criminal charges in Cleveland. (The defense has filed motions to discover the role of federal and other authorities in the assault on the RNC 16.)
The prosecution of the RNC 16 case looms even larger in light of the president-elect and next commander in chief of the United States having just decreed, without legal justification, that flag burning—an act of political dissent and free speech—should result in people going to jail, or even becoming stateless people without citizenship and any legal protections at all. This is one of the first legal challenges to the dangerous and deadly regime Trump intends to impose.
On December 1, Trump declared from his bully pulpit at a rally in Ohio (the state where the RNC 16 cases are being prosecuted): “And do you agree with my stance, that if people burn the American flag, there should be consequences. Think so. I think so.” This was followed by chants from the crowd of “USA, USA, USA.”
The fact that the president-elect is declaring that people don’t have the right to burn the American flag and should be punished for doing so (contrary to the reality that burning the flag is legal), in addition to his whipping up fascist mobs across the country to terrorize, threaten, and intimidate anyone from carrying out a constitutionally protected free speech act—all this has serious implications for the RNC 16 case. Trump is poisoning public opinion, including the jury pool, and this raises the question of whether the RNC 16 can get a fair and impartial jury, if this case goes to trial.
Joey Johnson with the support of the Revolution Club burned the American flag outside the Republican National Convention to protest the toxic chauvinism and reactionary ideas of all stripes surrounding Trump's nomination. Joey Johnson said, "We're standing here with the people of the world."
On December 1, more than 20 attorneys for the RNC defendants appeared at a pre-trial hearing held in Cleveland. They were prepared to make clear to the new judge, assigned to preside over the cases against all the 14 defendants now facing criminal misdemeanor charges, that the RNC 16 are determined to fight these charges and put the authorities and their system on trial. (Two other RNC 16 defendants are facing five serious felony charges and two misdemeanor charges before the Cuyahoga County Court.) Even though this hearing was intended by the judge to address procedural and logistical issues of the cases before him, the attorneys put before the court why they have filed motions to dismiss—that the defendants were attacked and are now being prosecuted for carrying out the constitutionally protected act of flag burning. They also brought to the light of day and to the judge further evidence relating to why the charges should be dismissed immediately. At this hearing, two important hearings were set for January 11 and January 26, 2017, on the defendants’ motions to dismiss the charges against those facing misdemeanor charges.
The attorneys for the defendants presented to the judge that the only charge against Joey Johnson and one of the other RNC 16 is assault on two Alex Jones/InfoWars/Trump operatives who claimed to have been burned by the flag burning. The court was informed that these so-called “victims” posted a video the night of July 20 where they bragged in an interview with Alex Jones that they went to the protest to attack Johnson—and actually attacked Johnson—to try to stop him from carrying out the flag burning. It was also pointed out that this video was provided by defense counsel to the prosecutor in August. This was evidence enough to show the charges against Joey and the other RNC defendant were bogus and should have been dropped immediately by the prosecutor. The attorneys for the two defendants charged with assault also filed motions to dismiss in September and October, which the prosecutor opposed.
In early November, the lead prosecutor of these cases, Kimberly Barnett-Mills, admitted in letters to the defense attorneys that her office had “misplaced” the evidence in this case—the statements and the video provided by the so-called “victims,” which are the basis of the assault charges. And she said that she could not verify the replacement video again provided by the so-called “victims”! The defense counsel argued before the judge that all this was further grounds for the charges being dropped.
In addition, the RNC 16 attorneys have been fighting to force authorities to turn over evidence that will reveal how a whole slew of government agencies and fascists collaborated and conspired to attack them when they exercised what is supposed to be a constitutionally protected form of free speech. Specifically, they are trying to uncover the relationship of Alex Jones to the U.S. Secret Service, which was the lead agency responsible for security at the RNC, along with other federal agencies, in order to expose what collaborating and conspiring went into the pre-planned assault and continues with the prosecution of the RNC 16. Alex Jones had a special guest credential to the RNC. In October, the prosecutor opposed a subpoena served on Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams and refused to order him to turn over such documents, arguing that any “plans, strategies, tactics, methods of intelligence gatherings or briefings” are confidential. (For more, see “We did nothing wrong—we have right on our side: RNC Flag Burners Go On the Offensive.”) Since the election, the special and close relationship that Alex Jones had with Trump before the election—and continues to have with him—has been all over the news.
At the December 1 hearing, the prosecutor backed off from refusing to turn over the documents demanded by the defense, and told the court that they would turn over those documents by December 15. The defense attorneys are prepared to file further motions to the court if ALL the documents demanded are not turned over on that date.
After hearing the arguments presented, the court set January 11 at 1:30 pm for a pre-trial hearing for the two defendants charged with assault to review what, if any, documents were turned over by the prosecution due on December 15. Defense attorneys are prepared to argue that if all the documents demanded are not turned over, this is further grounds for dismissal of the charges against the defendants, as the prosecution has refused and continues to refuse to turn over documents that could reveal the involvement of federal and other governmental agencies in the illegal assault and arrests of the RNC 16.
The court also set January 26 at 10 am for a hearing on the motion to dismiss all the misdemeanor charges against the other RNC defendants. One of the attorneys for the RNC 16 made the point to the judge that the court should make arrangements for the hearing to be in a larger courtroom to allow the public, including supporters of the RNC 16 and the media, to attend and observe.
This case can and must be part of setting different terms in society for the storms to come and for all those who refuse to accept a fascist America. People must demand that the prosecutors drop the charges NOW and pledge to pack the courtroom for the upcoming hearings on January 11 and 26 if the charges are not dropped.
DROP THE CHARGES ON JOEY JOHNSON AND THE RNC 16!
Revolution #468 December 5, 2016
December 5, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Brian Willson is a Vietnam War vet, lawyer, and author. In 1987, during a blockade of a Navy base in Concord, California, to protest the shipping of U.S. arms to reactionary forces in Central America, Willson was struck by a train and lost both his legs. The following was posted December 2 on Brian’s blog and Facebook page.
In April 1969, I witnessed the immediate aftermath of bombings of several inhabited, undefended Vietnamese villages, where virtually all of its inhabitants were napalmed, most very young children—burned to their death (murdered). A few days later, I read in the military newspaper, “Stars & Stripes,” of a young man in the US who was jailed for burning the US flag in protest of the US war.
I experienced a mind fuck because the pilots who dropped the napalm were commended and promoted, while the person who burned the US flag which represented the symbol of the bombing and burning of human beings, was jailed. What is wrong with this picture?
And the US bombed 13,000 of Viet Nam’s 21,000 villages, many napalmed, and in total when the US war ended, somewhere between 5,000,000 and 6,000,000 Southeast Asians had been murdered by our (US) grotesquely illegal and criminal invasion and occupation of another country that simply wanted to be free to pursue their own sovereignty free of western colonial powers.
Where is the outrage about what the US does every day—every fucking day—as it continues to bomb 7 countries under Obomber? (Sorry, Mr. Barack Obama, but you have earned a new spelling of your name, managing every Tuesday your kill list from the air via drones, the ultimate terrorist machine).
The piece of cloth—the US flag—the symbol—is focused on, while the egregious policies continue unabated. When do we become outraged—really outraged—at the systematic US killing of humans? Burn the fucking flag if you want as a free speech protest, but all the folks who condemn that act just sigh over the fucking murders of countless human beings around the world DIRECTLY attributable to very intentional US policy. NONE of them deserve to be murdered, while our political and military leaders continue committing their Nuremberg-style crimes against humanity and war crimes, with absolute impunity.
The US is one big Fucking lie, since our origins, and the sooner we massively revolt and withhold our continued cooperation and complicity with it, the sooner it will collapse to the benefit of the earth and her many species.
Revolution #468 December 5, 2016
December 5, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and the host of Talk Nation Radio. He is director of WorldBeyondWar.org and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org. He is a 2015 and 2016 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee. He recently wrote a piece titled, “Why Flag Burning Matters,” which begins:
“The national religion of the United States of America is nationalism. Its god is the flag. Its prayer is the pledge of allegiance.
“The flag’s powers include those of life and death, powers formerly possessed by traditional religions. Its myths are built around the sacrifice of lives to protect against the evils outside the nation. Its heroes are soldiers who make such sacrifices based on unquestioning faith. A ‘Dream Act’ that would give citizenship to those immigrants who kill or die for the flag embodies the deepest dreams of flag worship. Its high priest is the Commander in Chief. Its slaughter of infidels is not protection of a nation otherwise engaged, but an act that in itself completely constitutes the nation as it is understood by its devotees. If the nation stopped killing it would cease to be.
“What happens to myths like these when we discover that flying killer robots make better soldiers than soldiers do? Or when we learn that the president is using those flying robots to kill U.S. citizens? Which beliefs do we jettison to reduce the dissonance in our troubled brains?
“Some 85% of U.S.ians, and shrinking rapidly, are theists. Flag worship may be on the decline as well, but its numbers are still high. A majority supports a ban on flag burning. A majority supports the power of the president to kill non-U.S.ians with drones, while a significantly smaller percentage supports the president’s power to kill U.S. citizens with drones abroad. That is to say, if the high priest declares someone an enemy of god, many people believe he should have the power to kill that enemy... unless that enemy is a U.S. citizen. In secular terms, which make this reality seem all the crazier, many of us support acts of murder based on the citizenship of the victim....”
Read David Swanson’s article here.
Revolution #468 December 5, 2016
December 5, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
In a December 2 op-ed at Billboard.com, Wayne Kramer, the leader of the legendary rock band MC5, ridicules Donald Trump's attacks on flag burning. Kramer writes: "In this country, the Constitutionally protected right to tear, burn, or otherwise destroy a flag might just be your best way to make a point."
"It’s what the flag represents in the hearts, minds, and laws of the citizens of this country that is the issue, not the object itself. And if you think this is the best way for you to express your feelings about your government’s actions, you have the right to burn it. It’s a colorful cloth. It’s not a church, or a school, or a person’s home, or a human being. Those burnings are something to get upset about, and should—and do—have serious lawful consequences. There is a big difference..."
Read his entire piece here.
Revolution #468 December 5, 2016
November 30, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On Tuesday, September 20, Keith Lamont Scott—a Black man—sat in his parked truck in a small parking lot, waiting to pick up his son as he got off the school bus. Keith Lamont Scott was known to neighbors in the mostly white neighborhood as the man who read while he waited for his son every day.
But on this day, police rolled up on the scene. Video taken by Keith Lamont Scott's wife, Rakeyia Scott, shows police banging on the windows of Keith's pick-up truck, screaming “drop the gun.” It shows her screaming: “He doesn't have a gun! Don't shoot him... He has a TBI [traumatic brain injury]. He's not going to do anything to you guys. He just took his medicine.” Shots rang out – bam! Bam! Bam! Bam...
Rakeyia Scott shouts at the police:
Did you shoot him!?
Did you shoot him!?
He better not be fucking dead!
But the police did shoot Keith Lamont Scott. And then left him to die on the ground. Police dashboard camera video shows pigs handcuffing a helpless Keith Lamont Scott, and chatting with each other without any regard for his life, while he bleeds to death on the ground.
Protests, including defiant blockades of downtown streets and freeways, broke out in Charlotte, demanding justice. Only after days of protest did police release their dashcam video showing their utter disdain for the life of Keith Lamont Scott after they shot him.
Today, the North Carolina State District Attorney declared that no charges of any kind would be brought against any of the murderers. The District Attorney released a “report” that purported to be an objective investigation. It is a bald cover up.
The prosecutor's report ignores the reality revealed by the video courageously taken by Keith Lamont Scott's wife, Rakeyia Scott. Police have no interest in Rakeyia's attempts to intervene, to defuse the situation, to explain her husband's serious medical condition that impairs his ability to react to the kind of terror the police are instigating. Rakeyia Scott's video and the pigs’ own dash-cam show trigger-happy police, itching to shoot a Black man, coming up on Scott's truck and blasting away.
The fact that police shouted “drop the gun”—with their dashboard camera recording that—doesn't in any way prove Keith Lamont Scott had a gun, was pointing a gun at them, or posed a threat to anyone. It does prove police were invoking standard police procedure of yelling “stop resisting,” as they beat on someone. Or “put your hands where we can see them,” when they shoot someone. Or, “drop the gun....” to justify murdering people of color.
And the pigs utter disdain for the life of Keith Lamont Scott is further documented in their own video which shows them kneeling on him, chatting about what they're going to do next, while he lies dying. Without doing anything to make a pretense of trying to save his life.
The prosecutor's report dismisses substantial evidence from non-police witnesses. For example, statements by at least two witnesses—damning indictments of the police—are dismissed in part because these witnesses say Keith Lamont Scott was reading a book when the pigs started banging on his window. The prosecutor's report claims their statements are “inconsistent with the believable evidence” because a book “was never recovered.” But the prosecutor's own report says: “a purple composition notebook” was found on the front seat of the car, next to where Keith Lamont Scott was sitting, “wedged between the center console and the front passenger seat.” This kind of contempt and ridicule of credible statements by courageous witnesses runs through the prosecutor's report.
And the report justifies the police killing of Keith Lamont Scott because police claim he was smoking marijuana, had an unconcealed weapon in a state where that is legal, and looked at a pig with a “blank stare.” And that this murder by police was “self-defense.”
The report says Scott was in possession of an unconcealed gun. That is contested by witnesses. But in any event, it is not illegal in North Carolina. It says he was in possession of “a partially smoked blunt” as if that is a justifying factor in police killing someone. And it says a cop feared for his life because Scott looked at him with a “blank stare.”
All to justify the police murder of a Black man who was doing nothing but sitting in his truck, minding his own business, waiting to pick up his son from school.
As we go to press, people are in the streets protesting. There are reports that at least four people have been arrested in protests outside the Charlotte Police Headquarters.
Protesters gather outside Charlotte Police Headquarters on hearing the news that the police who murdered Keith Lamont Scott will not be indicted. Photo: @JustineIMiller/Twitter
Revolution #468 December 5, 2016
December 5, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Revolution #468 December 5, 2016
December 5, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Bob Avakian recently wrote that one of three things that has "to happen in order for there to be real and lasting change for the better: People have to fully confront the actual history of this country and its role in the world up to today, and the terrible consequences of this." (See "3 Things that have to happen in order for there to be real and lasting change for the better.")
In that light, and in that spirit, "American Crime" is a regular feature of revcom.us. Each installment focuses on one of the 100 worst crimes committed by the U.S. rulers—out of countless bloody crimes they have carried out against people around the world, from the founding of the U.S. to the present day.
THE CRIME: At 10:15 pm on March 19, 2003, George W. Bush announced to the world: "At this hour, American and coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, to free its people and to defend the world from grave danger."
March 20, 2003, U.S. bombing of Baghdad, Iraq. Photo: AP
Children killed by U.S. airstrikes, near Baghdad, 2006. Photo: AP
As Bush spoke, U.S. bombs and missiles were raining on Iraq. Some 160,000 troops—overwhelmingly American—were poised to storm the country by land. Twenty-one days later, after a blitzkrieg-like invasion and some 27,000 bombs, the U.S. had seized control of Iraq's major cities. Baghdad, Iraq's capital, had fallen on April 9. Saddam Hussein's Ba'athist regime had been deposed and the U.S. took control of the country. On May 1, standing on the deck of the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln in front of a giant "Mission Accomplished" banner, Bush declared "major combat operations" were over.
The U.S. government, military, and media portrayed this operation, with its "precision" bombs and missiles, as clean and surgical. The U.S. refused to count or release figures for civilian casualties. Images were widely broadcast picturing Iraqis welcoming the coalition forces as "liberators."
But in reality, thousands of Iraqi civilians were killed and wounded. During the most intense fighting in and around Baghdad, some of its hospitals were flooded with more than a hundred patients an hour. There were many instances of U.S. troops firing on people in cars and trucks. It turned out that U.S. military planners designated certain areas as "kill boxes"—grid-like zones where U.S. pilots were ordered to bomb and fire on anything that moved. In all, Iraq Body Count estimates that some 7,415 Iraqi civilians were killed during the invasion phase of the war in March and April.
But this was only a tiny glimpse of the staggering horrors that would be unleashed by the U.S. invasion, its nine-year occupation, and its aftermath. The U.S. shattered Hussein's Ba'athist state, and then installed a reactionary, Shi'ite-dominated regime. This unleashed all kinds of reactionary forces battling for a share of power. This included an armed Sunni-based insurgency, Sunni fundamentalist jihadists (which later formed ISIS, or the Islamic State), and Shi'ite militias with backing from Iran. The U.S. has attempted to play these different forces off against each other, and other regional powers have also entered the battle over Iraq's future.
The net result: the Iraqi people have suffered in unbelievable ways—thanks to the U.S. invasion and occupation, and all the reactionary forces and warfare it unleashed.
The toll has been staggering in its dimensions, its magnitude, and its duration. Iraq Body Count has documented between 168,239 and 187,378 civilian deaths from violence, and total violent deaths including combatants at 251,000 from 2003 through September 2016. Other studies of the direct and indirect toll of the war (due, for example, to the destruction and disruption to water and power systems, health care and food production): 655,000 according to a 2006 Lancet study; 1 million according to a 2008 Opinion Research Business study; and other current estimates reaching 1.2 to 1.4 million. More than 4.2 million Iraqis have been injured and at least 4.5 million have been driven from their homes. Women have suffered terribly, directly from the war and from the new, U.S.-backed government's imposition of reactionary Sharia law with separate, unequal laws for women.
And this reactionary violence by different Iraqi forces, as well as by the U.S., continues to this day. In October 2016 alone, at least 5,561 people were killed and 2,463 were wounded across Iraq—a heart-rending count that barely merits coverage in the U.S. press.
Bush administration: President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Assistant Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, and all arms of the U.S. government.
The Bush administration began debating war on Iraq within hours of the attacks of September 11, 2001. By late October or early November 2001, top Bush officials had secretly decided to wage war on Iraq. Reportedly, by April 2002 they had likely decided on a massive assault to remove Hussein.
In October 2001, the Pentagon set up a new intelligence/operations arm—the Office of Special Plans—to slant, spin, and concoct "intelligence" to justify war. Vice President Cheney pushed the CIA to produce reports that Iraq had chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and ties to Al Qaeda.
What followed was a 17-month deluge of lies and propaganda claiming Saddam Hussein was linked to Al Qaeda and 9/11 and that his possession of dangerous chemical, biological, and possibly nuclear weapons posed a "grave and growing danger" to the Middle East and to the United States itself. The administration also smeared and attacked those, like former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who attempted to expose their lies.
Democratic Party: The ruling class, including Republicans, former government officials, and establishment "experts," all supported the Iraq war and repeated Bush administration claims. So did the leadership and overwhelming majority of Democrats in Congress, including Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden. (During the 1990s, the Democrats and the Bill Clinton administration had bombed, sanctioned, and supported overthrowing Hussein, helping pave the way for the 2003 invasion.)
U.S. Media: The U.S. media repeated and promoted the Bush regime's lies and cheer-led the war. It never seriously questioned the war's legality or legitimacy. During the war all major media outlets agreed to "embed" with U.S. military units on Pentagon terms, and refused to seriously question U.S. motives for the war, or the military's war crimes. They widely promoted U.S.-orchestrated photo ops like the tearing down of Saddam Hussein's statue to give the impression that all Iraqis welcomed the invasion. The New York Times played a particularly criminal role, prominently featuring articles by their correspondent Judith Miller, who was closely tied to the Bush regime, and repeated its fabrications about Iraqi WMD. When the Bush administration's WMD claims were exposed as completely baseless, the government and the media spun and covered it up as an "intelligence failure."
THE ALIBI: The U.S. claimed that Hussein's government had ties to Al Qaeda and was involved in the attacks on 9/11. It also argued that Saddam Hussein must immediately be disarmed because his regime possessed chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons that posed a grave and immediate danger, including a nuclear attack on the U.S. Secretary of State Rice warned there would always be some uncertainty about the progress of Hussein's nuclear program, but "we don't want the smoking gun [of evidence] to be a mushroom cloud."
In Bush's January 2003 State of the Union speech, and then in Colin Powell's February 5 performance at the United Nations, the administration presented what they claimed was specific evidence of Iraq's massive WMD programs. Bush warned that Saddam Hussein had or could have "biological weapons materials which could be sufficient to produce over 25,000 liters of anthrax; enough doses to kill several million people." He repeated similar terrifying claims concerning botulinum toxin—"enough to subject millions of people to death by respiratory failure"—as well as sarin, mustard gas, and VX nerve agent. He claimed that during the 1990s, the Hussein regime had "an advanced nuclear weapons development program," and that now "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa," raising the specter that Hussein was building a nuclear bomb.
The Bush administration also claimed it invaded to "free the Iraqi people." "We come to Iraq with respect for its citizens, for their great civilization and for the religious faiths they practice," Bush II declared the night the war began. "We have no ambition in Iraq, except to remove a threat and restore control of that country to its own people."
THE ACTUAL MOTIVE: During the 1980s, the Hussein regime did produce chemical and biological weapons (with Western support) and used them against Iranian forces during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war, as well as against Iraq's Kurdish people, most infamously at Halabja in 1988. Iraq also had a secret nuclear weapons program.
But by the late 1990s, the U.S. knew that Hussein had been forced by the 1991 Persian Gulf War and U.S.-United Nations sanctions to dismantle his WMD programs, as the UN concluded in 1998. In September 2002, the Defense Intelligence Agency concluded that there was "no definitive, reliable information" that Iraq either possessed or was manufacturing chemical or biological weapons. In the months right before the war, top Iraqi officials confirmed to the U.S. and Britain that Iraq had no WMD, and UN inspectors went to Iraq and found no WMD. In early 2002, the New York Times reported the CIA had "no evidence that Iraq has engaged in terrorist operations against the United States in nearly a decade, and that President Saddam Hussein has not provided chemical or biological weapons to Al Qaeda or related terrorist groups."
After the 2003 war, a team of 1,400 U.S. and British experts scoured Iraq for banned weapons. After four months of searching, none were found. The failure to find any chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons or prohibited missiles showed not only that the Bush regime was blatantly and consciously lying but that the U.S. had been lying about Iraq's purported WMD for nearly a decade.
Because Iraq had neither attacked nor posed any threat to the U.S., and because the U.S. failed to secure UN Security Council authorization for its invasion, the 2003 war on Iraq violated the UN Charter, the Geneva Conventions, as well as U.S. law, making it a war crime under U.S. and international law.
What were the U.S.'s real motives? The U.S. rulers had been shocked by the 9/11 attacks, and summed up that anti-U.S. Islamist jihadism, as well as other regional and global changes, represented major threats to U.S. domination of the Middle East, and to its global hegemony, demanding an aggressive multi-pronged response. The Bush team felt compelled to quickly and massively lash back, first by attacking Afghanistan and then by invading Iraq. This was designed to preserve the U.S. empire's global military credibility and to establish its prerogative to depose regimes around the world as it saw fit.
During a secret November 2001 meeting, as reported by Bob Woodward in State of Denial: Bush at War, Part III, leading strategists close to the Bush administration argued that the 9/11 attacks required a "two-generation battle" to defeat "radical Islam." One dimension was to quickly take down regimes in Iraq, Iran, and Syria that were contributing to the spread of anti-U.S. fundamentalism or that posed obstacles to the U.S. The Bush strategists thought this would open the door to transforming the entire region—"draining the swamp," as Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz put it shortly after September 11—to transforming the conditions giving rise to jihadism, as well as solidifying U.S. control. The participants concluded the U.S. couldn't defeat Islamic radicalism without first overthrowing Saddam Hussein.
The U.S. planned to turn Iraq into a launching pad for the restructuring of the entire Middle East. After the invasion, the Bush team attempted to quickly and radically reshape Iraqi politics, economics, and society in line with this overall vision. The invasion of Iraq was part of an ensemble of actions undertaken to solidify U.S. control of the arc from North Africa through the Middle East to Central Asia. These goals in turn were linked to a larger goal of locking in American global hegemony against rising rivals like Russia and China. None of this had anything to do with "liberating" the Iraqi people.
Iraq: The Human Cost, MIT Center for Human Studies
Casualties of the Iraq War, Wikipedia
"Ten Years After U.S. Invasion of Iraq: A War Based on Lies... And a History of Brutal Intervention," revcom.us/Revolution, April 7, 2013
"The U.S. Legacy 10 Years After Invading Iraq: Death, Disease, Devastation, Displacement," revcom.us/Revolution, March 31, 2013
Larry Everest, Oil, Power and Empire: Iraq and the U.S. Global Agenda, Common Courage Press, 2004
Andrew J. Bacevich, America’s War For the Greater Middle East - A Military History
Revolution #468 December 5, 2016
December 5, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Revolution Books (RB) was packed with over 75 people Friday night, December 2. Arturo O’Farrill, the great Afro-Latin jazz musician, came to do a benefit concert for RB's first anniversary at its new location in Harlem. The store was stocked with its new holiday book and gift offerings, and the concert kicked off a month of holiday fund-raising. Copies of The New Communism by Bob Avakian, as well as Science and Revolution, an interview with Ardea Skybreak, were on prominent display, and the shelves brimmed with all kinds of works from other viewpoints bringing to light all kinds of dimensions of the world we live in... the world we need more urgently than ever to learn about, and transform.
Arturo O’Farrill and his group at Revolution Books NYC, December 2. Photo: Deanna Gorzinski
People came from Harlem, around the city, and beyond to hear Arturo and support RB. Spirits soared. Arturo and his band played their hearts out in two electrifying sets—inaugurating Revolution Books’ new performance space. He performed several of his own compositions, Horace Silver’s “Peace,” and one of his tunes that he retitled “Trump, Fuck Trump.” The joy and defiance of the music were infectious. Arturo himself was inspired and played more than he had planned to.
Andy Zee, Revolution Books spokesperson, December 2. Photo: Deanna Gorzinski
Arturo and RB spokesperson Andy Zee made brief remarks. Both spoke to the enormity of the new situation since the election of the fascist Trump—and the need for massive resistance. Arturo gave a real sense of the stakes—of the “millions of people” who could be killed by a Trump regime. Andy Zee stressed that people must simply have a place that bases itself on Bob Avakian’s revolutionary analysis of the problem we confront AND the solution to it—and from that foundation reaches out to and embraces a wide range of scholarly, scientific and artistic works and thinkers—the political, intellectual and cultural center of the movement for revolution. People then broke into animated groups, discussing the evening’s concert, the situation and what we’re gonna do about it, and the store—while browsing the shelves, eating delicious food donated by area restaurants and sipping wine donated by a neighboring liquor store.
Significant funds were raised and some new sustainers signed up, and there was a sense of a “site of resistance” in an increasingly chilly time. Of immediate importance: Zee announced a number of important programs for December, as part of the store’s “65 Days of Resistance,” building to and then going beyond Trump’s inauguration. For a list of these, go to revolutionbooksnyc.org.
Revolution #468 December 5, 2016
In the Name of Humanity, We Refuse to Accept a Fascist America...
Updated December 5, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
As Donald Trump assembles a dangerous leading core of outright bigots, white supremacists, xenophobes, and misogynists—what is taking shape is nothing less than the beginning of a fascist regime. This must be understood. This must be resisted. It must be stopped.
Five days after the election... Revolution Books New York called for 65 days of urgent programming. To dig into why this fascist has been elected president; what is fascism; what are the roots and present-day reality of the vicious demonization and oppression of Black people, immigrants, women, and LGBT persons. To get into what are the truly dangerous implications for the people of the world. To identify and get to the root of the denial of science and truth, and the whole Christian fascist program and social base that is now cohered in the Trump-Pence package.
65 Days of excavating the roots of the real horrors Trump’s “Make America Great” fascist program and the historical precedents of fascism. There will be exploration, discussion, and debate about what must be done NOW to STOP this, and what this new situation tells us about the necessity, possibility, and desirability of an actual revolution.
In the weeks to come... Historians and scholars who have analyzed fascism historically and currently will give talks. Voices of conscience and resistance, progressive clergy, journalists, essayists, and novelists will be invited to speak. There will be presentations and exchanges on Bob Avakian’s writings on fascism and the origins of the fascist movement in the history of America and the workings of this system, and fighting the imposition of the Trump regime’s program from the perspective of preparing the ground for revolution. There will be roundtable discussions, film showings, poetry and music of resistance and revolution. RB will be the resource to find the relevant books to read and study.
These are times to raise people’s understanding and determination—to build very broad unity and fan resistance everywhere to refuse to accept a fascist America, to not conciliate, accommodate, or collaborate with this direction. And, at the same time, we will invite people to discuss and engage the new communism developed by Bob Avakian and to become a part of the movement for an actual revolution.
And so we announce and invite all who care about the fate of humanity to join in... 65 Defiant Days at Revolution Books!
Check out the coming events in column at right.
Revolution #468 December 5, 2016
by Raymond Lotta | December 5, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Donald Trump has declared climate change, a well-established scientific fact, to be a "hoax." He has promised to reinvigorate coal mining, one of the most destructive-to-the-planet sources of energy. He has pledged to overturn domestic environmental regulations—and break the U.S. out of the few and woefully inadequate international agreements that limit emissions of carbon dioxide.
In short, Donald Trump aims to remove any and all restraints on the ability of U.S. capital to plunder the planet in pursuit of profit and greater empire. But this is only part of the ominous picture.
In the last few weeks, Trump has also floated out his intention to strip NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) of $2 billion that goes towards climate research. NASA is a federal government agency that oversees civilian space exploration and conducts research about Earth's atmosphere. He has done this through his so-called "science policy advisers," dangerous and lying buffoons who deny the reality of global warming (although one apparently welcomes it).
Trump's "science" advisers make the absurd charge that climate research is nothing but a bunch of "politically correct environmental monitoring"—and therefore NASA should just stick to outer space. In fact, his proposed defunding of climate research is a targeted attempt to impede and block knowledge about human-induced global warming that would have serious implications for humanity and the planet—and for science itself.
I. If this plan to stop NASA Earth-science research goes through, it would have disastrous effects on efforts to monitor and counter global warming:
» NASA has helped build, launch, and operate 15 Earth-science satellites that track global rainfall, rising surface temperatures and greenhouse (carbon-trapping) emissions, retreating glaciers and ice sheets, soil moisture and vegetation growth, and much more. These Earth-observing satellites are the most advanced in the world. They deliver detailed information, much like an x-ray does in a hospital.
» NASA's climate monitoring and models are used by research labs around the world. Earth scientists vitally depend on this information.
» With this satellite technology and information, it is possible to monitor floods and droughts and hurricanes; to detect soil moisture patterns that influence agricultural production systems; ocean changes that affect navigation and shipping; environmental conditions that allow health workers to anticipate the spread of illnesses caused by mosquitoes.
II. Imperialist criminality that cuts two ways:
» On the one hand, the U.S. is the largest cumulative contributor to carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in the atmosphere. This has everything to do with the fact that U.S. capitalism-imperialism has historically developed along paths highly destructive to Earth's environment. Fossil fuels became and remain central to the profitable functioning of U.S. capital, and to America's life-destroying global dominance (the genocidal U.S. military runs on fossil fuels).
» On the other hand, as result of the U.S.'s dominant position, its global empire in the world and the unequal concentration of wealth and advanced productive forces in the U.S., a disproportionate share of scientific personnel, technology, and technical capacity is also concentrated in the U.S.
And much of the world depends on NASA's research into what is happening to planet Earth. Any significant blow to this research would have profound effects worldwide. The work of Earth scientists would be hobbled. The worldwide network of measuring stations that monitor temperature, water salinity (salt levels), and air currents would be hurt. The ability of governments, institutions, and agencies to make policy in response to and in anticipation of changes in temperature, rainfall, severe weather, and so on, would be impaired.
This at a time of rapid global warming, extreme weather events, rising sea levels, and more that will directly and indirectly affect the lives of billions on the planet. It is criminal! The system of capitalism-imperialism, driven by the competitive quest for profit and more profit, is the underlying cause of global warming. And now this same system, in the extreme incarnation of Donald Trump, stands ever more as the barrier to humanity acting with the requisite speed and scope to address a climate crisis that imperils ecosystems and life itself.
All the research conducted by NASA under Obama did not prevent him from presiding over the breakneck expansion of oil and natural gas production, especially fracking, with all its adverse environmental consequences. The difference now, if Trump gets his way, is that NASA would officially turn a blind eye to global warming.
III. The attack on global warming research: an assault on science and evidence-based thought that serves a viciously chauvinist political and ideological agenda:
» The fascist agenda that Trump is seeking to coalesce and implement mocks and bullies certain arenas of science. It aims not only to suppress NASA's observations of the Earth from space and the ability to analyze and understand climate change. It also derides science and the scientific method of knowing the world as it actually is and is actually changing. The fascist forces ridicule global warming as an indulgent hobby-horse, a "special interest" of pampered environmental activists and scientists. Facts don't matter, empirical and rational thought don't matter. No, whatever is declared to be true is true.
» And the fascist agenda of 'making America great again'—it never was!—promotes an ultra-chauvinist contempt for any and all that is not white, territorial America. An expanding coal industry and coal exports contribute to rising sea levels that could inundate Pacific Islanders...who cares...fuck them all and the planet too.
All this emphasizes: In the name of humanity, we must REFUSE to accept a fascist America!
Revolution #468 December 5, 2016
by Dr. Hubert Locke
Reposted December 5, 2016. Originally posted January 29, 2006 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
The following is a reposting of a talk given by Dr. Hubert Locke, which originally appeared in the print issue of Revolution newspaper and online at revcom.us in January 2006. Dr. Locke delivered his talk at the Pacific School of Religion (PSR) in Berkeley on May 17, 2005. Dr. Locke is a retired African-American professor of urban studies, a former trustee and acting president of PSR and former dean of the Daniel J. Evans Graduate School of Public Affairs at the University of Washington. The views expressed by Dr. Locke are, of course, his own, and he is not responsible for the views expressed elsewhere on revcom.us.
Dr. Locke’s talk was among the voices of religious thinkers and writers as well as clergy people who sounded the alarm on the danger of the growing and powerful Christian fascist movement in this country. This talk has remained very relevant and is quite timely now when Mike Pence—part of a Christian fascism movement that aims to impose on society a government, laws, and dominant morality based on strict interpretation of the Bible—is set to become vice president.
I'm always delighted by the opportunity to come and visit my dear friends at PSR but I'm a bit uneasy about what I have been asked to do at the outset of this important meeting. A meditation, by definition, is expected to be thoughtful and reflective; it should be a calm and dispassionate discourse that helps set the mood and atmosphere for whatever is to follow. I hope what follows is thoughtful but I have to forewarn you that it is neither calm nor dispassionate, for I am persuaded we face in our country a movement that is trying its best to hijack this nation in the name of a set of ideals and values it claims to be Christian but which, on examination, are the very antithesis of the Gospel that our Lord preached and by which we, as Jesus' disciples, are challenged to live our lives in the world. If this movement is successful--if it is not stopped in its tracks--it will transform the United States into a political and cultural nightmare that not only turns its back on two hundred years of American history, it will be also one that leaves this nation unrecognizable from all that we have been and all that we might aspire to be as a democratic society.
For me at least, this is the only way to interpret the current campaign by the religious right--an assault on the nation's courts and its judges, an assault on the Constitutional principle of the separation of church and state, an attack on science and its place in the modern world, and an assault on the ideas of tolerance and pluralism in American life. Only a year ago, we thought we were confronting a movement fixated on the issues of abortion and homosexuality as litmus tests of whether one subscribed to moral values in our national life. These turn out to be only the hot-button topics that are used to rally the troops; what is at stake and where the battlelines are now being drawn today are over a wider set of issues and processes far more intrinsic to the way in which this nation conducts its business and makes its policy decisions. The not-so-subtle assault on the principle of the separation of church and state, for example, is an attempt to impose a notion of theocratic rule on this country that died with the Puritan colonists. The attack on the nation's judiciary that takes the form of a crude attempt to pack the courts with jurists who support the right-wing agenda seeks to wipe out any legal opposition to the decrees of state legislatures and a Congress that the religious right believes it has firmly under its sway. And when the president of the National Religious Broadcasters declares "Today, the calls for diversity and multiculturalism are nothing more than thinly-veiled attacks on anyone willing, desirous, or compelled to proclaim Christian truths," his is a thinly-veiled cry to return to a set of ideals and values that this nation demolished when the South lost the Civil War.
The current issue of Harper's magazine describes on its cover what it terms "The Christian Right's War on America." That may be hyperbolic for some but to the extent that it serves as a wake-up call to the rest of the Christian community, I find it wholly appropriate. Let me risk what some might find even greater exaggeration by a reference--not a comparison, mind you, but a reference--to what, for me, has always been the classic modern clash between Christianity and the modern state.
In the aftermath of World War I, the people of three European nations--Italy, Germany and Spain--turned to fascism as a political creed and proceeded to catapult into power governments which promoted fascistic ideals--that peculiar set of notions which manage to combine the interests of unfettered capitalism with excessive nationalism and a totalitarian view of the role of the state that can enforce its will on the populace. In all three countries but particularly in Germany which, unlike Italy and Spain, had more than a single religious tradition among its populace, the church found itself riven by two, diametrically opposed views. One view held that it was the duty of the church to support and uphold the policies of the state which, in turn, would be expected to advance the principles and beliefs of the church; the other that insisted the church owes its allegiance to a different and higher power--one that sits in judgment on the state and on any government that would presume to be a political manifestation of the Divine will.
Because of the cataclysmic devastation that the fascist government of Germany wrought on the world, our attention has tended--and rightly so--to focus on the twelve-year period that it was in power. During that period, James Luther Adams--one of the revered theologians of my generation who taught at Chicago and Harvard--went to Germany as was then the tradition among all newly-minted PhDs where he pursued post-doctoral studies. Adams saw the clash of the church with German fascism first-hand. A quarter-century ago, as he watched the emergence of the religious right in this country as a political force dedicated to "taking back the nation for God," Adams said to his students that they would find themselves having to fight "the Christian fascists" in this nation. He warned that the American fascists would not come wearing swastikas and brown shirts. The American variety, he said, would come carrying crosses and chanting the Pledge of Allegiance.
We should make no mistake about what is at stake in this battle with the religious right. It is not happenstance that it is a movement that draws its strength and finds its support principally in the so-called heartland of the nation and especially in its southern precincts. This is the portion of the United States that has never been comfortable with post-WWII America. The brief period of normalcy after the war was followed within a decade by a pent-up and long overdue racial revolution that overturned centuries of culture and tradition, especially in the South. The disillusionment, two decades later, with an unpopular war in southeast Asia shook the foundations of traditional/conventional patriotism in American life; it was followed in the next decade by a sexual revolution that upset deeply entrenched views among this portion of the American populace about the subordinate place of women in society and the non-place of gay and lesbian persons in American life. These political and social and cultural defeats have now erupted into a pitched battle to turn back the clock on the last half-century and return America to its pre-war purity. It is not without significance that teaching creationism in the schools, for example, is such a prominent part of the religious right agenda. That was a battle the right lost in the mid-1920s but it is not one that the right ever acknowledged losing--just as some die-hards have never acknowledged losing the Civil War. Consequently, the restoration the religious right seeks is one that would recapture a way of life that disappeared in this nation a half-century ago.
Were all this only a battle for the hearts and minds of the American people, we could wade into the conflict with a great deal less concern, confident that good sense and human decency would ultimately triumph over ignorance and bigotry. But this is a battle for power--it's about seizing the reins of government, manipulating the courts and judicial decisions, controlling the media, and making incursions into every possible corner of our private lives and relationships, so that what the religious right perceives as the will of God will reign in America.
Our discussion this afternoon and evening, as I understand it, is to determine how this school responds to this situation. It is a discussion that is, thank God, beginning to occur across the country but it is one which has a special compelling urgency for this school. There are at least two reasons for that urgency. In Germany, when the National Socialists came to power and the noise of fascism began to echo throughout the country, the response of the churches came mainly from the pulpits. Here and there, individual theologians spoke out, offering guidance to church councils and synods but by and large the theological faculties were silent, as were the voices of the professoriate in general. That's the first reason why it is important that the seminary be heard early and clearly in this struggle. What is needed is clear theological reflection, theological argumentation, theological challenges to what I believe are the false doctrines, in some instances, and the rank heresies, in others, of the religious right. Those reflections, arguments, and challenges can come best from the theological faculties who can help preachers, parsons and the laity in the mainline Christian community gird themselves for the struggle before us.
Second, this school has staked out for itself a special place in the effort to aid and encourage a religious understanding and embracement of gay and lesbian members in our society. It is, to my knowledge, the only theological institution that has taken up this special challenge and task. The importance of that task has taken on an heightened significance in this larger struggle that I've just tried to describe, and James Luther Adams offers us a poignant reminder of why this is so. Let me cite the last paragraphs of the Harper's article:
Adams had watched American intellectuals and industrialists flirt with fascism in the 1930s. Mussolini's "Corporatism," which created an unchecked industrial and business aristocracy, had appealed to many at the time as an effective counterweight to the New Deal. In 1934, Fortune magazine lavished praise on the Italian dictator for his defanging of labor unions and his empowerment of industrialists at the expense of workers. Then as now, Adams said, too many liberals failed to understand the power and allure of evil, and when the radical Christians came, these people would undoubtedly play by the old, polite rules of democracy long after those in power had begun to dismantle the democratic state. Adams had watched German academics fall silent or conform. He knew how desperately people want to believe the comfortable lies told by totalitarian movements, how easily those lies lull moderates into passivity.
Adams told us to watch closely the Christian right's persecution of homosexuals and lesbians. Hitler, he reminded us, promised to restore moral values not long after he took power in 1933, then imposed a ban on all homosexual and lesbian organizations and publications. Then came raids on the places where homosexuals gathered, culminating on May 6, 1933, with the ransacking of the Institute for Sexual Science in Berlin. Twelve thousand volumes from the institute's library were tossed into a public bonfire. Homosexuals and lesbians, Adams said, would be the first "deviants" singled out by the Christian right. We would be the next.
Revolution #468 December 5, 2016
Updated December 5, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Obama has refused to take action to protect the immigrants and Dreamers who came out of the shadows thanks to Obama's promises of a path to citizenship, even though Trump has explicitly threatened mass deportations and ripping families apart.
Last Friday, November 25, Obama indicated he would not take action to pardon heroic whistleblower Edward Snowden, who courageously exposed illegal spying and massive violations of people's rights. This, even though Trump's choice to head the CIA, Mike Pompeo, has called Snowden a "traitor" who should be executed.
On all these fronts, Obama refuses to act, as if it was bad form or would break tradition for a sitting president to take preemptive action before a new administration took over.
But there's one front where Obama has shown no such hesitation: giving Trump greatly expanded war powers. The New York Times (November 28) reports that the Obama administration has quietly decided to "expand the legal scope" of the so-called war on terror to include the Islamist group Shabab in Somalia. This, according to the Times, is intended to "shore up" the legal basis for "an intensifying campaign of airstrikes and other counterterrorism operations" on forces in Somalia. (In recent months, the Obama administration has quietly expanded such "authorizations" for the use of force in Afghanistan and Libya as well.)
For starters, this is totally illegitimate. The "war on terror" has always actually been a war of imperialism and empire. Its legal justification was the authorization, granted after September 11, 2001, to wage war on those who carried out those attacks. But that authorization has since been used to justify all manner of U.S. aggression, including now in Somalia. Somalia had nothing to do with the attacks of 9/11, and Somalia's Shabab didn't even exist until 2007.
The expansion of war powers is also barbaric and criminal. Trump and his new appointees are promising a bloodthirsty expansion of torture and the "war on terror," without even the pretense of regard for civilian casualties, the laws of war, or whole populations who are being targeted. Now, according to an expert cited by the New York Times, "this administration leaves the Trump administration with tremendously expanded capabilities and authorities" to carry out their savage plans.
Lessons: One, both the Democrats and Republicans are ruling class parties that act to further the interests of U.S. capitalism-imperialism and its global empire.
Two, their differences are over how to maintain their rule and their empire, not over how best to serve the people.
Three, the imposition of fascism through Trump will represent a leap in the horror—and this shows that people cannot count on Obama and the Democrats to seriously oppose, much less stop, the Trump gang from attempting to consolidate a fascist regime. That is up to us!,
Four, and most important: Why should we settle for a system like this when a much better world without these imperialist crimes and horrors is really possible—when there is a blueprint for a new society (the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America), the strategy to get to that new society ("HOW WE CAN WIN—How We Can Really Make Revolution"), and the leadership that can guide this incredibly complex but liberating undertaking (Bob Avakian and the Revolutionary Communist Party, which he leads). (See THE NEW COMMUNISM: The science, the strategy, the leadership for an actual revolution, and a radically new society on the road to emancipation.)
Revolution #468 December 5, 2016
December 3, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
The Army of Corps of Engineers, and the governor of North Dakota, have issued threats to arrest anyone who remains in the camp with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe after Monday, December 5. Revolution correspondents at Standing Rock shared these responses from people they talked to about those threats.
If you are at Standing Rock, write to us. Tell us why you are there, your thoughts on what is happening and why, and what needs to happen.
Write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dawne, Shawnee Delaware Sisseton Wahpeton Sioux, Oklahoma
The Army Corps of Engineers told DAPL they do not have a permit to this land. Then they give us an eviction order, supposedly for our safety. It’s really a slap in the face... We’re standing up for the rights of the people, and that goes across the globe, worldwide. We’re leading by example. If there’s an eviction notice, we’ll stand our ground, and do what we have to do. We’re here in a prayerful, ceremonial way, but at the same time, everyone has their boundaries. We are clearly on our land, unceded land from the Fort Laramie Treaty. So we have a right to be here and they do not. And that’s how I feel about it, and it’s not going to change.
Rafael, Art Monk
I’m here with the Art Monastery Project. I’m an Art Monk. It’s inspiring to see people here pulling together. I don’t see people going anywhere and I intend to be here well past the 5th.
Dan, Nez Perce Umatilla, Washington State
I’ve been here since September. Around us here, you see the river warriors, who came down the river, canoeing for eight days. Back home we have a canoeing crew and we are related to coastal tribes, so we’re camped all here together—river warriors. It’s been a really hard time. We worked really hard to fortify ourselves for the winter. We understand the weather can reach minus 40 to minus 70 with windchill. The winds are really brutal here. We worked from when the sun comes up on the morning till you drag your butt to bed... And all of a sudden we heard about the evacuation. How could we pack all of this up and move? So we talked in our camp, with one another. There are so many people here, people are happy to be here. But in our mind we were really stressing, are we gonna move? Or stay? But then a blizzard is coming, so maybe the creator made the choice for us. We’re gonna stay here. It’s been quite an emotional journey but we’re gonna stay here.
Mikkel, a solar technician from Washington.
I see this group of people banding together in unity and taking care of each other. It’s hardship. But this is a really strong group. I have not seen these people give up. The reason I came here is because this nation, Standing Rock nation, sent out the word universally that they need help. The land we’re standing on right now is unceded land of the Laramie 1851 Treaty. That’s why we’re standing ground here, over that... This is the seventh generation, it has been spoken about that this would happen, because we are preparing for the eighth generation.
Revolution #468 December 5, 2016
December 5, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On Thursday, December 1, Joe McKnight, a 28-year-old Black man, was murdered by a white man in broad daylight on a busy street on the edge of New Orleans. McKnight, who had no weapon, was shot three times at close range. Bullets penetrated his liver and his left lung, according to the first report from a doctor. Cops showed up and briefly detained the killer, Ronald Gasser. Before the sun came up on Friday, Gasser was back on the streets, WITH NO FUCKING CHARGES FOR SHOOTING AND KILLING A BLACK MAN.
This is lynch law, straight up. This is law that says a Black man has no rights that a white man is bound to respect, as the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the days of slavery. Does anyone think if the situation had somehow been reversed—if a Black man had shot and killed an unarmed white man in the middle of the afternoon in front of multiple witnesses—the Black man would be politely questioned and released by police?
Joe McKnight had been a star football player in high school and college, and had played professionally in the NFL. He was hoping for a comeback after overcoming injuries. In 2009 the New Orleans Times Picayune named him the local high school “athlete of the decade.” His life touched many people in and around New Orleans, and there has been an outpouring of grief and rage since people learned of his death. Hundreds of people gathered for a vigil for Joe McKnight on Saturday.
Jefferson Parish Sheriffs say the incident that led to Joe McKnight’s death was “road rage.” But the Times Picayune reported that a woman who was at the intersection where Joe McKnight was shot and killed said she saw one man “yelling at another man, who was trying to apologize. The man who was yelling shot the other man more than once, she said. She said the shooter shot the man, stood over him and said ‘I told you don't you fuck with me.’ Then he fired again, she said.”
There have been no videos released of Joe McKnight’s murder. The head pig in Jefferson Parish, Newell Normand, blustered that he wasn’t going to be “rushed to judgement” and defended releasing Gasser. He disputed the woman’s claim that McKnight was apologizing for whatever incident may have happened between them on the road—which means he is already saying he believes whatever Gasser told him.
Then Normand implied that Gasser could use a “stand your ground” defense—similar to the legal argument the racist murderer George Zimmerman used to defend his murder of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Normand, who had just allowed a killer to walk free, finished his statement by threatening to arrest people protesting his department’s refusal to charge and arrest Gasser.
Time after infuriating time, over and over and over, police get away with murdering Black and Latino people. For centuries in this country, the laws and courts—all the way up to the Supreme Court—have allowed white people to perpetrate violence, including murder, upon Black people. It seems there is literally nothing these pigs and racists can’t do to Black people and be punished for it.
This is completely illegitimate. It must be resisted and fought. And most of all, there must be an actual revolution that thoroughly defeats the capitalist-imperialist system that thrives on such horrors, as soon as it can possibly be made.
Revolution #468 December 5, 2016
Updated March 23, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Editor's note: Important voices are calling out the ominous implications of a Trump presidency from a range of viewpoints. And challenging people to confront what that means, and to resist.
Voices of Conscience posted on this page
(click to read or watch):
We are USC Faculty.
We are scientists, artists, and thinkers from over 115 countries, working together every day, side by side, to understand the world around us and to share what we’ve learned with future generations.
We proudly affirm the core mission of the university as a place for the generation of knowledge, the preservation of scholarship, and informed discussion and debate, all of which are vital to a healthy democracy.
We will vigorously defend our core values of academic freedom, high standards of evidence, free inquiry, openness, and inclusion against policies and actions driven by fear, bigotry, and propaganda.
We are committed to:
— protecting the human rights of our students, our fellow faculty, staff, and all members of the USC community, irrespective of their race, gender, sexual orientation, ability, religion, nationality, or citizenship status.
— supporting and encouraging all university efforts to provide critical resources for staff, students and faculty who are most vulnerable and at greatest risk.
— supporting faculty, students, and staff who engage in civil disobedience and protest if members of the academic community are harmed or deported due to targeted state actions.
We will Fight On!
In his article "No President who ever owned human beings should be honored" on March 15, Shaun King wrote in the New York Daily News that Adolf Hitler "is a monster who should never be honored," and continued:
Just as this is true for Hitler, it is true for any American President who ever owned human beings and forced them into a life of slavery. The Holocaust and slavery are each an unjust disgrace.
King details the monstrous horrors of slavery and then calls out Trump:
Today, Donald Trump is going out of his way to honor President Andrew Jackson. He should never be honored. Over his lifetime his family owned at least 300 human beings. This is terrible and no contribution he made in his life will ever outweigh this fact. To this very day, Andrew Jackson's own estate openly admits that the key source of his wealth came from owning human beings and forcing them to work on his plantation. At the time Jackson died, he owned about 150 people. He was a full-fledged unrepentant bigot. The enslaved Africans on his plantation were often whipped and beaten. If they escaped, fugitive squads searched for them and returned them back to the plantation. One advertisement put out by Jackson for a runaway slave offered $10 for every 100 lashes given to the slave who was caught. Is that not sick to you?
This makes Andrew Jackson a monster. Nothing he did as President of the United States is good enough to look past this.
The same holds true for every single American President who owned human beings.
Read the whole article here
Michael Bennett, who plays for the Seattle Seahawks, who participated in the pro football players’ national anthem protest, and who refused to be a shill for Israel against the Palestinian people (see “Pro Football Player Michael Bennett Refuses to Be a Shill for Israel” Revolution, February 14, 2017, revcom.us), had his statement in support of the women’s strike on International Women’s Day read by Dave Zirin on his podcast.
Here are some excerpts from Bennett’s statement:
“As a Black man in America sometimes I get overwhelmed and discouraged by what I see, from the police killings of unarmed Black men to the unequal educational system to mass incarceration, but when I look into my daughter’s eyes, I see the courage of Harriet Tubman, the patience of Rosa Parks, the soul of Ida B. Wells, the passion of Fanny Lou Hamer, and the heart of Angela Davis. I see the future. I see hope. And, I’m inspired because it will be women who lead the future. So, I’m writing this to express my unconditional solidarity for the women’s strike on International Women’s Day, March 8th.”
“It’s about the women across the Earth who are suffering. Women not so worried about the glass ceiling because they are trying to survive a collapsing floor. It’s about women of color across the Earth who live on less than one dollar a day. It’s about all women who are subject to sexual assault and violence.
“I stand with the women’s strike because I agree with their unity statement that reads that this day is ‘organized by and for women who have been marginalized and silenced by decades of neoliberalism directed towards working women, women of color, Native women, disabled women, immigrant women, Muslim women, and lesbian women.’”
“I encourage my fellow football players to take off their helmets and stand with these brave women across the world.”
“We need change, and to quote Frederick Douglass, ‘Without struggle, there is no progress.’”
(The statement is 35 minutes into the podcast at https://www.thenation.com/article/the-edge-of-sports-podcast-the-enduring-legacy-of-hoop-dreams/)
As of March 1, more than 230 former ABC News correspondents, executives and producers have signed a letter urging the network’s top executive to take a firm stand against any Trump administration effort to curtail press access. The letter was written after White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer held a briefing on February 24 and, in an unprecedented move, excluded several news organizations that have done stories Trump didn’t like.
The letter called the February 24 incident “an alarming new development enacted by an administration that has declared war on respected news outlets” and asked James Goldston, president of ABC News, to “take a public stand” and “Refuse to take part in any future White House briefings based on an invitation list of who’s in/who’s out.” The letter noted that there has been strong public protest by Dean Baquet, executive editor of the New York Times, and statements by the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg that they would not participate in future briefing where reporters are barred.
Signees include former White House correspondent Sam Donaldson; former ABC reporters Ken Kashiwahara, Jeanne Meserve and Lynn Sherr; four former executives and four former executive producers of “World News Tonight” and top leaders at “Nightline,” “20/20″ and “Good Morning America.” Kayce Freed Jennings, the widow of the late anchor Peter Jennings, was also one of the signers.
ABC News is one of the media organizations Trump has labeled as the “enemy of the American people” and “fake news.” ABC was allowed into the Spicer briefing, while CNN, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Politico and BuzzFeed were denied access. Reporters from other organizations, including the Associated Press, USA Today and Time magazine, refused to attend the briefing in protest.
Tim Rogers is senior editor for Latin America at the cable and satellite TV channel Fusion. After Trump’s February 28 speech to Congress, Rogers wrote a piece titled “Calling Trump’s speech ‘presidential’ is the first step to normalizing fascism” (March 1, 2017) noting that “talking heads were quick to applaud Trump for acting ‘presidential.’” Rogers goes on to say:
But Trump’s speech to Congress was only presidential by fascist standards. What Trump laid out, in the methodical words penned by an ideologue behind the throne, was a frightening vision of a country under siege by foreign hordes that are trying to establish a “beachhead of terrorism” to convert the United States into a “sanctuary for extremists.”
Trump depicted a dark world in which the U.S. is fighting “a network of lawless savages” that it must “extinguish ...from our planet.”
Trump was talking about ISIS in that instance, but his fear-mongering over foreigners wasn’t limited to Islamic State fighters any more than the travel ban was limited to Muslims from seven countries. The narrative of barbarians at the gate was woven throughout Trump’s speech, which seemed to build on George W. Bush’s worldview of “You’re either with us, or against us.” But Trump’s view is even racist and alienating by W’s standards.
From his call to build a border wall as “a very effective weapon against drugs and crime,” to reiterating his appallingly cynical pledge to create a new Homeland Security Office to “serve American victims” of crimes committed by immigrants, Trump’s whole speech was to lay out a dichotomy of us versus them, or “America first” in Trumpspeak. ...
When the speech was over, Trump lackeys congratulated themselves on a “home run”—actually, make that a “grand slam.”
But even normally critical pundits said they thought Trump looked “presidential.”
That’s dangerous thinking. Calling Trump’s fear-mongering “presidential” is a first step to normalizing fascism. It’s granting acceptance to the dangerous fascists skulking behind the golden curtains of the Oval Office.
Anderson Cooper 360° ✔ @AC360: Van Jones: Trump “became President of the United States” when he honored the widow of the Navy SEAL killed in Yemen. ...
In an America where Trump’s speech can be called “presidential,” it’ll be a slippery slope to despotism.
Read Tim Roger’s article in its entirety here.
“American citizens had their introduction to the Trump-era immigration machine Wednesday...” So begins “Papers, Please,” an article that appeared in The Atlantic online on February 27, about the February 22 domestic flight from SFO to JFK airport where every passenger was told by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents to show their ID before they could get off the plane. The agents claimed they were looking for a passenger who was undocumented and had a criminal record; it turned out that the person they sought was not on the plane.
In the article, written by Garrett Epps, legal scholar, novelist, and contributing editor to The Atlantic, he examines all possible legal authorities and concludes that there is no justification in U.S. law for what was done to the passengers on that plane. And then Epps, demonstrating the courage of his convictions, writes:
“I am vowing, here and now, not to show papers in this situation. I know that it will take gumption to follow through if the situation arises. What will be the reaction of ordinary travelers, some with outstanding warrants or other legal worries? Should we expect heroism of people who just want to get off an airplane?”
Mem Fox, an award winning author from Australia, was pulled off an airplane when she arrived at Los Angeles International Airport and held in detention for almost two hours and interrogated for 15 minutes. In an op-ed article in The Guardian, she tells of her terrifying, belligerent, and violent experience.
She describes the room “like a waiting room in a hospital but a bit more grim than that.... There was no water, no toilet... Everything was yelled...” She said that she “heard things happening in that room happening to other people that made me ashamed to be human.”
She describes an elderly Iranian woman in a wheelchair where they were yelling at her at the top of their voices—“Arabic? Arabic?” They screamed at her “ARABIC?” She told them “Farsi.” A woman from Taiwan was being yelled at about how she made her money: Does it grow on trees? Does it fall from the sky?” Mem said, “...the agony I was surrounded by in that room was like a razor blade across my heart.”
When she was called to be interviewed, she was degraded, and called it “monstrous.” She told them that she writes books about exclusivity. She had one of her books in her bag and said, “I am all about inclusivity, humanity and the oneness of the humans of the world; it’s the theme of my life.” He yelled at her, “I can read!” She was standing the whole time and said, “The belligerence and violence of it was really terrifying. I had to hold the heel of my right hand to my heart to stop it beating so hard.”
Claudia Koonz is a historian of Nazi Germany and the author of Mothers in the Fatherland: Women, the Family and Nazi Politics, The Nazi Conscience, and other works. She was interviewed on The Michael Slate Show on KPFK Pacifica Radio on February 10. This is a transcript of the interview, slightly edited for length and clarity.
Michael Slate: In broad strokes, let’s talk about how fascism developed in Germany.
Claudia Koonz: OK. First of all, let’s remember that nobody ever heard of Hitler until the early 1930s. He was unemployed. The only steady job he ever had in his life was when he fought in World War I for four years. He was quite brave.
This was a splinter party. As late as 1928, ten years after the defeat in World War I, the Nazis got 2.6% of the vote. 1930, they got 18% of the vote. 1932 they were up to the high point ever, 37.4% of the vote. So, the Nazis were never voted into power. Hitler was appointed into power.
So the question is, how did this disreputable, fringe party of loudmouth, brawling Stormtroopers get from a tiny splinter party to the center in 1932, which put Hitler in position to get appointed as chancellor?
The singer John Legend has won ten Grammy Awards, one Golden Globe Award, and one Academy Award. He will be playing Frederick Douglass in the second season of the WGN series Underground. In a recent interview in the New York Times Magazine he was asked, “Has there been a piece of art that has affected you politically?” He replied:
Books have certainly affected me. In college, I took a class that centered on a book called “Obedience to Authority,” which was trying to explain why an ordinary German would be a worker at a concentration camp, or why anyone would be part of a system that is so evil and corrosive, and how they deal with authority and whatever cognitive dissonance they need to have to do something so inhumane. Then we read some James Joyce and Virginia Woolf; all those books in that class opened my eyes to the way human beings deal with authority and deal with how we become inhumane. I took those classes 20 years ago, but I’ve been thinking about that a lot when I think about how we’re reacting to Donald Trump right now.
The interviewer then asked, “How are you applying that thought process to contemporary times?” Legend said:
Yeah, are we just going to go about our lives and try to be normal? I’ve seen a tweet going around about how a lot of people say that they would have been part of the civil rights movement, so this is basically that chance, this moment of truth for our society. Are we going to just accept inhumanity, or are we going to resist?
Read the New York Times Magazine interview with John Legend here.
On February 21, Donald Trump issued a statement supposedly condemning anti-Semitic attacks on Jewish institutions. At his February 16 press conference, Trump had insulted and bullied a correspondent from an Orthodox Jewish news agency who asked if Trump could condemn the wave of threats against Jewish institutions. Trump cut him off, yelled “quiet!” and “sit down” and ranted that this was “a very insulting question.” Trump then declared himself “the least anti-Semitic person that you've ever seen in your entire life” while refusing the reporter’s request to condemn attacks on Jewish institutions. Days after this, on February 20, Jewish community centers in ten states were targeted with bomb threats and forced to evacuate. There were also 170 graves at an historic Jewish cemetery in Missouri desecrated in the last few days.
Immediately after Trump’s February 21st statement, the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect posted a response on Facebook. The Center takes inspiration from Anne Frank, a Jewish teenager hunted down and killed by the Nazis. Her Diary is a famous chronicle of hiding out from the Nazis. The center “calls out prejudice, counters discrimination and advocates for the kinder and fairer world of which Anne Frank dreamed.”
The statement said in part:
The President’s sudden acknowledgement is a Band-Aid on the cancer of Antisemitism that has infected his own Administration. His statement today is a pathetic asterisk of condescension after weeks in which he and his staff have committed grotesque acts and omissions reflecting Antisemitism, yet day after day have refused to apologize and correct the record. Make no mistake: The Antisemitism coming out of this Administration is the worst we have ever seen from any Administration. The White House repeatedly refused to mention Jews in its Holocaust remembrance, and had the audacity to take offense when the world pointed out the ramifications of Holocaust denial. And it was only yesterday, President’s Day, that Jewish Community Centers across the nation received bomb threats, and the President said absolutely nothing.
Members of Berkeley Law (University of California, Berkeley School of Law) are taking a public stand against Trump’s executive orders intensifying repression against immigrants and on the U.S.-Mexico border through a #NoBanNoWall photo project. Close-up photos of faculty and staff members show them with handwritten or printed signs.
Their statement reads:
President Trump’s immigration executive orders, enforcement actions, and xenophobic threats directly impact members of our law school community.
They undermine the public mission of our university to ensure access to the talented pool of students and researchers that reflects the diversity in the State of California and the world.
They attack the ability of the university to fulfill its unique role as a site for the generation of knowledge and the free exchange of ideas among students, faculty, and staff of all nationalities, backgrounds, and creeds.
They threaten our values of diversity and inclusion, which ensure a vibrant democracy.
We oppose the executive orders and President Trump’s attacks on certain communities.
We are committed to maintaining the law school as a just and inclusive community.
The PDF of the poster is available here.
When you go to the website, Hands Off Our Revolution, the first thing you see is the flashing words: HANDS OFF OUR BORDERS... WATER... AIR... LAND... CITIES... HOMES... PLANET... BODIES... HEALTH... JUSTICE... FRIENDS... FAMILIES... LOVES.... LIVES...
More than 200 artists, writers, photographers, musicians and curators from around the world—including well-known figures such as Anish Kapoor, Steve McQueen, Laurie Anderson, Ed Ruscha, Matthew Barney, Rosalind Krauss, Maya Lin, Hank Willis Thomas, Catherine Opie, Yinka Shonibare, David Byrne, and Michael Stipe—have joined this spirit of resistance, signing the following Mission Statement:
We are a global coalition affirming the radical nature of art. We believe that art can help counter the rising rhetoric of right-wing populism, fascism and the increasingly stark expressions of xenophobia, racism, sexism, homophobia and unapologetic intolerance.
We know that freedom is never granted—it is won. Justice is never given—it is exacted. Both must be fought for and protected, yet their promise has seldom been so fragile, so close to slipping from our grasp, as at this moment.
As artists, it is our job and our duty to reimagine and reinvent social relations threatened by right-wing populist rule. It is our responsibility to stand together in solidarity. We will not go quietly. It is our role and our opportunity, using our own particular forms, private and public spaces, to engage people in thinking together and debating ideas, with clarity, openness and resilience.
The website also announces a project to do a “series of contemporary art exhibitions and actions that confront, head on, the rise of right-wing populism in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere... to help envision and shape the world in which we want to live.”
The Mission Statement in 10 different languages and the full description of the project are online at handsoffourrevolution.com.
Bennett, who plays in the NFL (National Football League) for the Seattle Seahawks, announced he will not be joining an NFL delegation to Israel.
Bennett has been involved in the struggle by professional athletes to protest police brutality. He took up the protest in the NFL started by San Francisco 49er Colin Kaepernick, who refused to stand for the national anthem. Bennett called for white athletes to take a stand against police murders, saying “You need a white guy to join the fight. The white guy is super important to the fight. For people to really see social injustices, there must be someone from the other side of the race who recognizes the problem, because a lot of times if just one race says there’s a problem, nobody is realistic about it.” Bennett has also posted photos and quotes from Black Panther leader Fred Hampton on his Instagram page.
Bennett had originally planned to be on the delegation because he wanted to have interaction with both Palestinian and Israeli people. But he learned from an article in the Times of Israel that the trip would isolate him from the Palestinian people and turn him into a “goodwill ambassador.” Then he read an open letter in The Nation magazine, signed by John Carlos, Danny Glover, Harry Belafonte, Alice Walker, and others calling on the athletes to ”reconsider taking this trip to ensure you are standing on the right side of history.”
Bennett then wrote an open letter that he posted on Instagram and Twitter.
Actor Meryl Streep received the National Ally for Equality Award at a fundraising gala held by the Human Rights Campaign, a national LGBTQ civil rights organization, on Saturday night, February 11. In her acceptance speech, Streep said:
[F]undamentalists, of every stripe everywhere, are exercised and fuming. We should not be surprised that these profound changes come at a steeper cost than we originally thought. We should not be surprised that not everyone is totally down with it.
If we live through this precarious moment, if his catastrophic instinct to retaliate doesn’t lead us to nuclear winter, we will have much to thank this president for. He will have woken us up to how fragile freedom is....
I am the most overrated, overdecorated and, currently, over-berated actress, who likes football, of my generation. But that is why you invited me here! Right?
The weight of all these honors is part of what brings me to this podium. It compels me, against every one of my natural instincts (which is to stay home), it compels me to stand up in front of people and say words that haven’t been written for me, but that come from my life and my conviction and that I have to stand by....
It’s terrifying to put the target on your forehead. ... And it sets you up for all sorts of attacks and armies of brownshirts and bots and worse, and the only way you can do it is if you feel you have to. You have to. You don't have an option, but you have to stand up and speak up and act up.
Hear Meryl Streep’s whole speech here.
The Grammy Awards on Sunday night, February 12, closed with an electrifying set by the legendary hip-hop crew A Tribe Called Quest joined by Busta Rhymes, Anderson .Paak, and Consequence. At mid-point in the Tribe’s medley of several songs, Busta Rhymes came—on and focused right on the outrages being carried out by Trump and his regime: “I’m not feeling the political climate right now. I just want to thank President Agent Orange for perpetuating all of the evil that you’ve been perpetuating throughout the United States. I want to thank President Agent Orange for your unsuccessful attempt at the Muslim ban. When we come together—we the people, we the people, people!” As he said those words, Tribe member Q-Tip, along with a woman wearing a hijab and others, bust through a wall on the stage.
Q-Tip then launched into the Tribe song “We the People.” And as he went into the hook, which sarcastically hits at those who spew hate and intolerance—“All you Black folks you must go/All you Mexicans you must go/And all you poor folks, you must go/Muslims and gays, boy, we hate your ways/So all you bad folks, you must go”—a diverse grouping of people of different nationalities, genders, and style of clothing walked up on to the stage. The performers all lined up at one point with fists in the air, and protest signs reading “No Wall No Ban” and photos of different faces were projected in the background.
The powerful performance, inspiring performance closed with the chants from the stage: “Resist! Resist! Resist!”
On Tuesday, February 7, on CNBC’s Halftime Report, Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank called Trump “a real asset for the country” and lauded his plans to “make bold decisions and be really decisive.” The next day, ballerina Misty Copeland, actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and NBA star Steph Curry, who all have endorsement deals with the athletic clothing company, spoke out against Plank.
Copeland wrote in an Instagram post, “I strongly disagree with Kevin Plank’s recent comments in support of Trump.” In a Facebook post, Johnson said Plank’s comments were “neither my words, nor my beliefs” and said that he would ultimately “stand with this diverse team, the American and global workers, who are the beating heart and soul of Under Armour.” Curry told the San Jose Mercury News that he agreed with Plank’s comment on Trump... “if you remove the ‘et’” from the word “asset.” When asked if he would abandon Under Armour, Curry said that if “the leadership is not in line with my core values, then there is no amount of money, there is no platform I wouldn’t jump off if it wasn’t in line with who I am.” Curry went on to say, “So that’s a decision I will make every single day when I wake up. If something is not in line with what I’m about, then, yeah, I definitely need to take a stance in that respect.”
George Prochnik wrote the book The Impossible Exile: Stefan Zweig at the End of the World (2015). Zweig was an Austrian novelist, playwright, journalist, and biographer who at the height of his literary career in the 1920s and ’30s, was one of the world’s most popular writers and most widely translated living author. Zweig was a Jewish intellectual and his books were burned in Berlin in 1933. Like millions of others, with the rise of Hitler, he was driven into exile. Zweig went to London, New York, and then to Brazil where he committed suicide in 1942. Prochnik wrote a piece in the February 6 issue of The New Yorker, “When It’s Too Late To Stop Fascism, According to Stefan Zweig.” Prochnik says when Zweig sat down to write his biography, “He was determined to trace how the Nazis’ reign of terror had become possible, and how he and so many others had been blind to its beginnings.” Zweig wrote: “the big democratic newspapers, instead of warning their readers, reassured them day by day, that the [fascist] movement ... would inevitably collapse in no time” and that Hitler had “elevated lying to a matter of course.”
Reading in Zweig’s memoir how, during the years of Hitler’s rise to power, many well-meaning people “could not or did not wish to perceive that a new technique of conscious cynical amorality was at work,” it’s difficult not to think of our own present predicament. Last week, as Trump signed a drastic immigration ban that led to an outcry across the country and the world, then sought to mitigate those protests by small palliative measures and denials, I thought of one other crucial technique that Zweig identified in Hitler and his ministers: they introduced their most extreme measures gradually—strategically—in order to gauge how each new outrage was received. “Only a single pill at a time and then a moment of waiting to observe the effect of its strength, to see whether the world conscience would still digest the dose,” Zweig wrote. “The doses became progressively stronger until all Europe finally perished from them.”...
In Zweig’s view, the final toxin needed to precipitate German catastrophe came in February of 1933, with the burning of the national parliament building in Berlin—an arson attack Hitler blamed on the communists but which some historians still believe was carried out by the Nazis themselves. “At one blow all of justice in Germany was smashed,” Zweig recalled. The destruction of a symbolic edifice—a blaze that caused no loss of life—became the pretext for the government to begin terrorizing its own civilian population. That fateful conflagration took place less than 30 days after Hitler became chancellor. The excruciating power of Zweig’s memoir lies in the pain of looking back and seeing that there was a small window in which it was possible to act, and then discovering how suddenly and irrevocably that window can be slammed shut.
To read the whole article, go here.
In a February 8 paid ad in the Staten Island Advance newspaper, 33 professors at Wagner College, a liberal arts college in New York City, denounced Trump’s executive orders and other actions. The statement is in the form of an open letter to Representative Dan Donovan, a Republican congressman from a district on Staten Island, who supported Trump’s executive order banning refugees and immigrants from seven majority-Muslim countries saying it was “in America’s best interest.” The Wagner professors’ statement said they “first and foremost” condemn that ban, saying that “this order creates religious discrimination and does so intentionally.”
The professors also condemned Trump’s removal of any mention of climate change and LGBTQ rights from the White House website, Trump’s attacks on the press and fact-based journalism, and his continued profit-making from his global holdings. They ended their statement with: “We believe the above actions, among others, taken by the Trump Administration are a threat to our democracy, our economy, our American values, our international alliances, and the ideals of citizenship and respect for knowledge and diversity that we strive to foster in our students.”
Read the statement and list of signatories (PDF) here.
From a reader:
This week GQ published an article by Jay Willis, “Gregg Popovich and Steve Kerr Would Make a Great Presidential Ticket” where “these two have no time for the ‘stick to sports’ bullshit.” Kerr and Popovich, both who are white, have been close friends since Kerr played for the San Antonio Spurs, coached by Popovich. Kerr coaches the Golden State Warriors in the San Francisco Bay Area.
When Popovich was asked about Black History Month he said,
“But more than anything, I think if people take the time to think about it, I think it is our national sin. It always intrigues me when people come out with, ‘I’m tired of talking about that or do we have to talk about race again?’ And the answer is you’re damned right we do. Because it’s always there, and it’s systemic in the sense that when you talk about opportunity it’s not about ‘Well, if you lace up your shoes and you work hard, then you can have the American dream.’ That’s a bunch of hogwash. If you were born white, you automatically have a monstrous advantage educationally, economically, culturally in this society and all the systemic roadblocks that exist, whether it’s in a judicial sense, a neighborhood sense with laws, zoning, education, we have huge problems in that regard that are very complicated, but take leadership, time, and real concern to try to solve. It’s a tough one because people don’t really want to face it.”
Kerr was born in Lebanon, where his father was president of the American University of Beirut. His father was murdered at the university by two men in 1984, and soon after an unknown Islamic group called the press to claim responsibility. Kerr weighed in on Trump’s Muslim Ban this past week when he said,
“As someone whose family member is a victim of terrorism, having lost my father—if we’re trying to combat terrorism by banishing people from coming to this country, we’re really going against the principles of what our country is about, and creating fear. It’s the wrong way to go about it. If anything, we could be breeding anger and terror, so I’m completely against what’s happening. I think it’s shocking. I think it’s a horrible idea and I feel for all the people who are affected, families are being torn apart.”
Kerr also had something to say about the liars in the Trump administration when he told reporters after a game with the Orlando Magic that “Sean Spicer will be talking about my Magic career any second now. 14,000 points. Greatest player in Magic history.” Kerr actually scored 5,437 points while playing in the NBA from 1988-2003.
In a February 3 article for the Advocate titled "Trump's Executive Orders: Divide and Conquer," Shawn Gaylord, advocacy counsel for Human Rights First focusing on LGBT issues, makes an important point about how Trump must not be allowed to pit different sections of the people against each other.
Gaylord writes, "I am sure I am not alone in reading through each statement and each executive order [from Trump] with a sense of foreboding as we watch community after community being targeted by a government that seems determined to roll back the progress of the last few decades." He notes that so far Trump's executive orders have not "specifically targeted people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity," though, as he points out, among the sections of the people targeted so far—women, refugees, immigrants, religious minorities, people of color—LGBT people are part of each.
Noting that there is one direct mention of "sexual orientation" is Trump's executive order banning immigrants and refugees from seven mainly Muslim countries, Gaylord writes:
A quick read might cause you to think it was actually a move to protect LGBT people. But on closer examination, you quickly realize that what is at play is something we dreaded all along. The protection of LGBT people is cited as a justification for a set of cruel and unnecessary new immigration policies that, no matter how carefully worded they might be, amount to a Muslim ban.
The "Purpose" section, which purports to explain what the executive order is designed to accomplish, notes, "The United States should not admit ... those who would oppress members of one race, one gender, or sexual orientation." It is not clear exactly how immigration authorities would know which individuals "would" take such actions, although I suspect they will turn to broad generalizations about religious groups. This language, like other sections of the order, seems clearly designed to target Muslims. We saw this coming and we cannot let it stand....
The Trump administration seems to be employing every tactic at its disposal, but one of the most egregious is this strategy of "divide and conquer." By appealing to the shared desire that LGBT people might live their lives free from violence, the Trump administration is hoping we will turn that desire into fear and hatred of another marginalized community. He did it after Orlando, he did it with this executive order, and I would call on the entire LGBT community to stand up and say "not in our name."
Read Shawn Gaylord's article at the Advocate web site.
When Trump signed the executive order banning Muslims from seven countries from entering the U.S., one of the people affected was a first-year internal medicine student at the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic hospital, Dr. Suha Abushamma. Even though she has a legal visa and documents allowing her to legally study and work in the United States, she was not allowed to re-enter the country because she has a passport from Sudan—one of the seven banned countries—and was forcibly diverted to Saudi Arabia.
Her colleagues at the Cleveland Clinic, along with more than 1,400 other medical students, doctors, and other medical staff have issued an open letter criticizing the heads of the hospital for not taking a stand against Trump's Muslim ban. The letter points out that far from condemning Trump's actions, "the Cleveland Clinic silently continues to promote ties with the Trump administration." In fact, an upcoming Cleveland Clinic fundraiser—with tickets costing upwards of $100,000—is scheduled to be held at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.
The open letter says:
Through this action you are supporting a president who has, in his first ten days in office, reinstated the global gag rule, weakened the Affordable Care Act, fast-tracked construction of both the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines through legally protected native lands, and banned legal U.S. residents from majority-Muslim countries. All of these actions directly harm human health and well-being in the United States and abroad. Your willingness to hold your fundraiser at a Trump resort is an unconscionable prioritization of profit over people. It is impossible for the Cleveland Clinic to reconcile supporting its employees and patients while simultaneously financially and publicly aiding an individual who directly harms them.
The open letter and list of signatories is available here
After Trump announced the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court seat that has been empty since Antonio Scalia died last year (see “Trump Picks ‘Scalia Clone’ to Replace Scalia on the Supreme Court“), the pro-choice group NARAL issued a statement saying in part:
...President Trump’s decision to speed up the announcement of his Supreme Court nominee will not distract from the hundreds of thousands of Americans demonstrating in the streets and at airports. After Trump’s disastrous first week on the job—from his global gag rule to his travel ban on Muslims—we cannot afford to elevate his destructive agenda with a lifetime appointment to our nation’s highest court.
With Judge Neil Gorsuch, the stakes couldn’t be higher when it comes to women and our lives. Gorsuch represents an existential threat to legal abortion in the United States and must never wear the robes of a Supreme Court justice.
With a clear track record of supporting an agenda that undermines abortion access and endangers women, there is no doubt that Gorsuch is a direct threat to Roe v. Wade and the promise it holds for women’s equality. The fact that the court has repeatedly reaffirmed Roe over the past four decades would no longer matter, just as facts often don’t seem to matter to President Trump. Confirming Gorsuch to a lifetime on the Supreme Court would make good on Trump’s repeated promises to use his appointments to overturn Roe v. Wade and punish women.
NARAL and our 1.2 million member-activists call on the Senate to reject Trump’s nominee using any and all available means, including the filibuster.
The complete statement from NARAL on Trump’s nomination of Gorsuch is online here.
At the Screen Actors Guild award on January 29, Emma Stone won the award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role for her work in the film La La Land. In her acceptance speech she said:
We’re in a really tricky time in the world and our country and things are very inexcusable and scary and need action and I’m so grateful to be part of a group of people that cares and that wants to reflect things back to society.
Later in an interview backstage, she said:
We have to speak up against injustice, and we have to kick some ass.... I was thinking about art this year, and that in a time like this, for so many, horrific things are happening. It’s so special to be a part of people who want to reflect what’s happening back to the world and to make people happy. I would hope that people would fight for what’s right and what’s just fucking human....
I think if we’re human beings, and we see injustice, we have to speak up, because staying silent, as they say, only really helps the oppressor. It never helps the victim. So I think that, yes, right now, I would hope that everyone, when seeing things being done that are absolutely unconstitutional and inhumane, would say something, anything. Whether it’s at school or at an awards show or work, offices, or online.
Saira Rafiee, an Iranian Ph.D. student in political science at the CUNY (City University of New York) Graduate Center, was traveling back to the U.S. from Iran when Trump issued the executive order banning people from seven majority Muslim countries, including Iran, from entering the U.S. Rafiee, an Iranian citizen, was visiting family and was on her way back to New York, with legal documents, to resume her work and studies at CUNY.
Saira Rafiee wrote on Facebook about what happened:
I got on the flight to Abu Dhabi, but there at the airport was told that I would not be able to enter the U.S. I had to stay there for nearly 18 hours, along with 11 other Iranians, before getting on the flight back to Tehran. I have no clue whether I would ever be able to go back to the school I like so much, or to see my dear friends there. But my story isn’t as painful and terrifying as many other stories I have heard these days
The sufferings of all of us are just one side of this horrendous order. The other side is the struggle against racism and fascism, against assaults on freedom and human dignity, against all the values that even though are far from being realized, are the only things that would make life worth living. As a student of sociology and political science, I have devoted a major part of my scholarly life to the study of authoritarianism. The media has published enough statistics during the past few days to show how irrelevant this order is to the fight against terrorism. It is time to call things by their true names; this is Islamophobia, racism, fascism. We, the 99% of the world, need to stand united in resisting the authoritarian forces all over the world.
Ben Cohen is the founder and editor of The Daily Banter (thedailybanter.com). Originally from London and now living in Washington, DC, he has written for the Huffington Post and ESPN.com. His January 27 article, “Trump's Weekly List of Crimes Committed by Immigrants is Straight Up Fascism,” says in part:
Adding to his list of executive orders and policy proposals designed to roll back civil liberties, wreck the environment and insult foreign nations, the Trump administration is also mandating that Homeland Security “make public a comprehensive list of criminal actions committed by aliens.” This was included in Trump's new executive order on immigration, and according to the Independent, "Will also include details of so-called ‘sanctuary cities’ that refuse to hand over immigrant residents for deportation"...
Make no mistake about it, this is straight up fascism... nothing more than a nasty scare tactic designed to instill fear in white Americans and create a new way of dividing the country along ethnic identity lines. We have seen this over and over again throughout history. Fascist dictators rise to power through the scapegoating of immigrants and minorities, then hold onto office by continuing the tactic. The Trump administration clearly believes it is a winning formula and Trump has made so called "illegals" the focal point of his first few days in office. From insisting that he only lost the popular vote due to (completely non-existent) widespread voter fraud to his executive order to build a wall stopping Mexicans from entering the country, Trump is betting big on white fear keeping him in office. The weekly list of immigrant crime is appalling and will simply fan the flames of xenophobia and hate....
Read Cohen’s article here.
On January 28, singer Rihanna tweeted:
Disgusted! The news is devastating! America is being ruined right before our eyes! What an immoral pig you have to be to implement such BS!!
As of January 30, there have been 175,000 re-tweets of this Rihanna tweet.
On Sunday night, January 29, the Netflix series Stranger Things won the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble. A capsule description of the series says: “In a small Indiana town in the early 1980s, a boy goes missing after finding something sinister lurking in the woods. Nearby, a girl with extraordinary powers escapes from a sinister government facility and joins together with the boy’s friends to get him back.” At the televised SAG award show, David Harbour, who plays Chief Hopper in the series, stepped up to the mic to accept the award on behalf of the cast. After making a number of acknowledgements he turned to current events. He called on his fellow actors to:
Go deeper and through our art battle against fear, self-centeredness, and exclusivity of our predominantly narcissistic culture.... As we act in the continuing narrative of Stranger Things, we 1983 Midwesterners will repel bullies. We will shelter freaks and outcasts, those who have no hope. We will get past the lies. We will hunt monsters! And when we are at a loss amidst the hypocrisy and the casual violence of certain individuals and institutions, we will, as per Chief Hopper, punch some people in the face when they seek to destroy the weak and the disenfranchised and the marginalized! And we will do it all with soul, with heart, and with joy. We thank you for this responsibility.
Three university science professors—Graham Coop, Professor of Evolution and Ecology, UC Davis; Michael B. Eisen, Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology, UC Berkeley; Molly Przeworski, Professor of Biological Sciences, Columbia University—have issued a statement in support of scientists within the government who are under attack.
Their message is as follows:
Governmental scientists employed at a subset of agencies have been forbidden from presenting their findings to the public. We have drafted the following response for distribution, and encourage other scientists to post it to their websites, when feasible.
In Defense of Science
We are deeply concerned by the Trump administration’s move to gag scientists working at various governmental agencies. The US government employs scientists working on medicine, public health, agriculture, energy, space, clean water and air, weather, the climate and many other important areas. Their job is to produce data to inform decisions by policymakers, businesses and individuals. We are all best served by allowing these scientists to discuss their findings openly and without the intrusion of politics. Any attack on their ability to do so is an attack on our ability to make informed decisions as individuals, as communities and as a nation.
If you are a government scientist who is blocked from discussing their work, we will share it on your behalf, publicly or with the appropriate recipients. You can email us at USScienceFacts@gmail.com.
Laurence Tribe, Professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard Law School and the Carl M. Loeb University Professor at Harvard University, sent out a series of tweets on January 28—as thousands of people protested at airports across the U.S. against the anti-Muslim order Trump signed the day before:
Vital to impeach and remove Trump before his cruel brand of bigotry and scapegoating seeps even more deeply into our national bloodstream.
Trump just said what he’s doing at the airports “is working out very nicely.” The man has no eyes, no brain, and no heart.
Trump must be impeached for abusing his power and shredding the Constitution more monstrously than any other President in American history.
The tragic scenes unfolding at JFK and other US airports expose Trump as a heartless merciless monster. He must be stopped.
Trump’s promise to prioritize Christian over Muslim refugees when the 90-day ban lifts violates the Religion Clauses of our First Amendment.
On January 25, Jewish Voices for Peace released the following statement in anticipation of Trump’s issuing of an executive order the next day targeting refugees and immigrants from mainly Muslim countries:
As the Trump administration follows through on the some of most harmful and alarming promises of his campaign, we will follow through on ours: to love, defend and fight alongside our friends, neighbors, and communities directly under attack.
Decades of racist, Islamophobic, and xenophobic policies and discourses around national security, the “War on Terror,” and immigration have laid the groundwork for this nightmare set of policies designed to target, profile, surveil and ban people due to their religion, race, national origin or legal status. These new policies will build on existing infrastructure, primarily impacting people who have fled from countries that the United States has bombed or invaded, as well as those whose local economies have been destroyed by our military operations and trade policies.
While the details of these new policies are still unfolding, we pledge to resist in every way that we can. We’ll put our hearts, souls, and bodies on the line to stop hateful and racist attacks. We will organize our communities to stand alongside our Muslim, immigrant & refugee neighbors, in the halls of Congress & government institutions, and in the streets.
We cannot let this stand.
“My heart breaks for the next generation with these fools in the white house. Asking us to give Trump a chance is like asking Jews to give Hitler a chance. I read that eight percent of blacks voted for him. That’s like a vote for slavery. I’m so proud of women for standing up at the Women’s Marches all over the country. In Washington it was so crowded that you couldn’t move. These women were telling Donald Trump ‘not on our watch’. Saying they won’t bow down or bend over and take the worse from him. Why take abortion and make us have children and then deny those kids healthcare?...
“Trump will not listen and only a fool would try to reason with him. He is beyond redemption.”
For the entire interview go here:
Philip Roth’s 2004 novel The Plot Against America imagines a scenario where there is a fascist takeover in America—through the ballot box. The aviation pioneer Charles Lindbergh—who in his day was one of the three or four biggest celebrities in the world and a Nazi sympathizer—sweeps the 1940 election in a landslide. Then, in steps both incremental and rapid, fascism comes in. At the time, Roth wrote in the New York Times Book Review that he did not intend to write this as a political roman à clef (a novel in which real people or events appear with invented names). He said he wanted to dramatize some “what-ifs” that never happened in America.
Now Roth is commenting about the current relevance of The Plot Against America. A piece titled “Philip Roth E-Mails On Trump” by Judith Thurman appears in the January 30 issue of The New Yorker. Thurman says Roth was asked via e-mail if the scenario in his book has now happened. Roth’s response, in part:
It isn’t Trump as a character, a human type—the real-estate type, the callow and callous killer capitalist—that outstrips the imagination. It is Trump as President of the United States.
I was born in 1933, the year that F.D.R. was inaugurated. He was President until I was twelve years old. I’ve been a Roosevelt Democrat ever since. I found much that was alarming about being a citizen during the tenures of Richard Nixon and George W. Bush. But, whatever I may have seen as their limitations of character or intellect, neither was anything like as humanly impoverished as Trump is: ignorant of government, of history, of science, of philosophy, of art, incapable of expressing or recognizing subtlety or nuance, destitute of all decency, and wielding a vocabulary of seventy-seven words that is better called Jerkish than English...
Unlike writers in Eastern Europe in the nineteen-seventies, American writers haven’t had their driver’s licenses confiscated and their children forbidden to matriculate in academic schools. Writers here don’t live enslaved in a totalitarian police state, and it would be unwise to act as if we did, unless—or until—there is a genuine assault on our rights and the country is drowning in Trump’s river of lies. In the meantime, I imagine writers will continue robustly to exploit the enormous American freedom that exists to write what they please, to speak out about the political situation, or to organize as they see fit...
My novel wasn’t written as a warning. I was just trying to imagine what it would have been like for a Jewish family like mine, in a Jewish community like Newark, had something even faintly like Nazi anti-Semitism befallen us in 1940, at the end of the most pointedly anti-Semitic decade in world history. I wanted to imagine how we would have fared, which meant I had first to invent an ominous American government that threatened us. As for how Trump threatens us, I would say that, like the anxious and fear-ridden families in my book, what is most terrifying is that he makes any and everything possible, including, of course, the nuclear catastrophe.
The New Yorker piece with quotes from Philip Roth is available online here.
Roger Cohen is an author and columnist for the New York Times. Before becoming a columnist for the Times, he worked as a foreign correspondent in 15 countries. In the January 24 edition of the Times, his column titled “The Banal Belligerence of Donald Trump” said in part:
I have tried to tread carefully with analogies between the Fascist ideologies of 1930s Europe and Trump. American democracy is resilient. But the first days of the Trump presidency—whose roots of course lie in far more than the American military debacles since 9/11—pushed me over the top. The president is playing with fire.
To say, as he did, that the elected representatives of American democracy are worthless and that the people are everything is to lay the foundations of totalitarianism. It is to say that democratic institutions are irrelevant and all that counts is the great leader and the masses he arouses. To speak of “carnage” is to deploy the dangerous lexicon of blood, soil and nation. To boast of “a historic movement, the likes of which the world has never seen before” is to demonstrate consuming megalomania. To declaim “America first” and again, “America first,” is to recall the darkest clarion calls of nationalist dictators. To exalt protectionism is to risk a return to a world of barriers and confrontation. To utter falsehood after falsehood, directly or through a spokesman, is to foster the disorientation that makes crowds susceptible to the delusions of strongmen.
Trump’s outrageous claims have a purpose: to destroy rational thought. When Primo Levi arrived at Auschwitz he reached, in his thirst, for an icicle outside his window but a guard snatched it away. “Warum?” Levi asked (why?). To which the guard responded, “Hier ist kein warum” (here there is no why).
As the great historian Fritz Stern observed, “This denial of ‘why’ was the authentic expression of all totalitarianism, revealing its deepest meaning, a negation of Western civilization.”
Americans are going to have to fight for their civilization and the right to ask why against the banal belligerence of Trump.
Read the whole Cohen column here.
The poem, “I am a nasty woman” by 19-year-old Nina Donovan was performed by actress Ashley Judd at the Women’s March in Washington, DC on January 21. It starts:
I’m not nasty as a man who looks like he bathes in Cheetos dust.
A man whose words are a distract to America.
Electoral college-sanctioned, hate-speech contaminating this national anthem.
I’m not as nasty as Confederate flags being tattooed across my city.
Maybe the South actually is going to rise again.
Maybe for some it never really fell.
Blacks are still in shackles and graves, just for being black.
Slavery has been reinterpreted as the prison system in front of people who see melanin as animal skin.
I am not as nasty as a swastika painted on a pride flag, and I didn’t know devils could be resurrected but I feel Hitler in these streets.
A mustache traded for a toupee.
Nazis renamed the Cabinet Electoral Conversion Therapy, the new gas chambers shaming the gay out of America, turning rainbows into suicide.
I am not as nasty as racism, fraud, conflict of interest, homophobia, sexual assault, transphobia, white supremacy, misogyny, ignorance, white privilege ... your daughter being your favorite sex symbol, like your wet dreams infused with your own genes.
Yeah, I’m a nasty woman — a loud, vulgar, proud woman.
To listen to the whole poem performed by Ashley Judd go here:
The Sierra Club is the largest grassroots environmental organization in the U.S., with more than 2.7 million members and supporters. On the day of his inauguration, Trump released his energy plan (available on the White House website). In response, Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune released the following statement:
Minutes after he was sworn in, any illusion that Trump would act in the best interests of families in this country as President were wiped away by a statement of priorities that constitute an historic mistake on one of the key crises facing our planet and an assault on public health. What Trump has released is hardly a plan—it’s a polluter wishlist that will make our air and water dirtier, our climate and international relations more unstable, and our kids sicker. This is a shameful and dark start to Trump’s Presidency, and a slap in the face to any American who thought Trump might pursue the national interest.
Matthew Rothschild is the executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a nonprofit, nonpartisan political watchdog group. His January 21 article titled, “The fascist overtones in Trump’s inaugural address” starts underneath a photo of Benito Mussolini, leader of Italy's National Fascist Party from 1922 until 1943, and says in part:
It was hard to listen to Trump’s inaugural address without hearing some not-so-faint echoes of fascism.
The most obvious was his invocation of “America First” as the “new vision” that “will govern our land.” But it’s not a new vision or a new name. In fact, “America First” was the name of the isolationist and anti-Semitic organization in the 1930s that wanted to accommodate Nazi Germany.
But there were other echoes as well....
Like 20th century fascists, he extolled the nation’s “glorious destiny.” He saluted “the great men and women of our military and law enforcement.”
And then he invoked the divine will. “Most importantly,” he said, “we are protected by God.”
And let’s not forget that his campaign slogan and the coda to his inaugural address, “Make America great again,” itself strikes a fascist chord: nostalgia for national greatness, mixed with grievances (that can lead to scapegoating) about who is to blame for the loss of such greatness.
If you were looking for Trump to take the high ground in his inaugural address and call on “the better angels of ourselves,” you were kidding yourself.
That is not who he is. He is Trumpolini.
To read the whole article go here
Vanity cards have become a trademark for Chuck Lorre Productions. At the end of every episode of shows Lorre produces there are different messages that read somewhat like a comment or observation on life or what’s going on in society. This was done with shows Lorre produced like Dharma & Greg and Two and a Half Men. And these vanity cards appear at the end of The Big Bang Theory—the #1 comedy on TV for many seasons. On the eve of Donald Trump’s inauguration, the message that flashed across at the end of The Big Bang was the lyrics to George Harrison’s song, “Beware of Darkness”:
Watch out now, take care,
Beware of greedy leaders
They’ll take you where you should not go
While Weeping Atlas Cedars
They just want to grow, grow and grow
Beware of darkness
Then another quote, this one from Monty Python:
Run away! Run Away!
Roger Waters, English singer, songwriter, bassist, and composer, is the co-founder of the rock band Pink Floyd—internationally known for albums like The Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall. On January 20, the day of Trump’s inauguration, Waters posted a video for his Trump-slamming performance of “Pigs (Three Different Ones)” in Mexico City last October. A message also went up on his Facebook: “The resistance begins today.”
The performance took place in Zόcalo Square before 300,000 fans. During the song, the huge screens flash graphics of ugly Trump faces with text like “Charade” and “Gotta stem the evil tide.” There is an image of Trump doing a Hitler Nazi salute and the KKK. At the end, disgusting quotes from Trump are seen on the screen. The final text: “Trump eres un pendejo” (Trump, you’re an asshole).”
Some of the lyrics to “Pigs (Three Different Ones)”:
Big man, pig man, ha ha charade you are
You well heeled big wheel, ha ha charade you are
And when your hand is on your heart
You’re nearly a good laugh
Almost a joker
With your head down in the pig bin
Saying “Keep on digging.”
Pig stain on your fat chin
What do you hope to find
When you’re down in the pig mine
You’re nearly a laugh
You’re nearly a laugh
But you’re really a cry
At his January 11 press conference, Trump refused to take a question from CNN reporter Jim Acosta, saying, “You are fake news.” Angelo Carusone from Media Matters posted a petition, “Tell the White House Press Corps: Stand up to Trump’s blacklist,” to be delivered to the White House Correspondents’ Association, which says:
If Trump blacklists or bans one of you, the rest of you need to stand up. Instead of ignoring Trump’s bad behavior and going about your business, close ranks and stand up for journalism. Don’t keep talking about what Trump wants to talk about. Stand up and fight back. Amplify your colleague’s inquiry or refuse to engage until he removes that person/outlet from the blacklist.
The goal is to get 300,000 signatures. As of January 22, nearly 290,200 people had signed. The petition includes a background that says in part:
Trump has a history of doing this—and worse.
He has literally banned the Des Moines Register from covering his events. He banned Univsion from attending his events. He revoked The Washington Post’s credentials for a period in retaliation for a headline that he didn’t like. He revoked Politico’s credentials for a while to punish them for an article he didn’t like. BuzzFeed—which Trump called “a pathetic pile of garbage” during the press conference—has been on a blacklist since June of 2015. The Daily Beast is on the blacklist and is almost always denied credentials as a result. This list isn’t exhaustive, either.
But journalists covering Trump don’t learn. Time and time again, as one outlet after another is frozen out, reporters continue to go about their interactions with Trump and his people as if nothing is wrong.
Enough is enough. Some principles are more important than competition among news outlets....
To read the petition and full background go here.
Citizen Therapists for Democracy, an association of psychotherapists, states that their mission is to: “Learn and spread transformative ways to practice therapy with a public dimension; Rebuild democratic capacity in communities; and Resist anti-democratic ideologies and practices.” The website of Citizen Therapists for Democracy contains “A Public Manifesto” from Citizen Therapists Against Trumpism. It has been signed by 3,500 people and says in part:
As psychotherapists practicing in the United States, we are alarmed by the rise of the ideology of Trumpism, which we see as a threat to the well-being of the people we care for and to American democracy itself. We cannot remain silent as we witness the rise of an American form of fascism. We can leverage this time of crisis to deepen our commitment to American democracy....
Why speak collectively? Our responses thus far have been primarily personal—and too often confined to arm-chair diagnoses of Donald Trump. But a collective crisis faces our nation, a harkening back to the economic depression and demoralization of the 1930s (which fed European fascism) and the upheaval over Jim Crow and Black civil rights in the 1950s.... As therapists, we have been entrusted by society with collective responsibility in the arena of mental, behavioral, and relational health. When there is a public threat to our domain of responsibility we must speak out together, not just to protest but to deepen our commitment to a just society and a democratic way of life. This means being citizen therapists who are concerned with community well-being as much as personal well-being, since the two are inextricably joined.
To read the whole statement go here.
United Nations, hardcore supergroup led by frontman for the band Thursday, Geoff Rickly, released a new song on January 20, the day of Trump’s inauguration. The song is called “Stairway to Mar-a-Lago”—Mar-a-Lago is Trump’s estate in Florida which he says will be his “winter White House.”
Some of the lyrics go:
From on your cross
Tell them who matters
Policing cities in ruin
It blows my mind
How these Nazis
Took the stage
And pandered to
Your deepest fears
Dead and cold
The Gipper must be
Rolling in his grave
Again and again
Never again is
The band Outernational released a new song and video on the morning of the Trump inauguration, titled “Decision.” Miles Solay of Outernational wrote, “I am writing to you from the USA on the morning that a fascist regime is being coronated. I will be in the streets of Washington, DC today and tomorrow. The regime of Donald Trump and Mike Pence is illegitimate because fascism is illegitimate. If ever there was a time in our lives to act as if the future depended on us, now would be that time. GET INVOLVED AND TAKE TO THE STREETS WHEREVER YOU ARE.”
The lyrics of “Decision” include:
You can’t say you hate this
While you’re waiting for the cure...
All the lies!
America was never great
Eat your apple pie and genocide
Of your life!
How will you live?
What will you decide?...
Listen and download audio here.
“There are people who say we ought to give you a chance. But there’s not a chance in hell that we’ll sit back and watch you try to turn back the clock and sigh and say, oh well.”
This is how “Not Gonna Say Your Name” starts—a new song released on January 16 by Los Angeles-based musician Guy Blakeslee (aka ENTRANCE). The song’s video features clips of anti-Trump protests that broke out in the days after the election.
Blakeslee says, “I really wanted to write a song expressing my own feelings about the election and the state of things in our country—like many I was in a state of mourning. I wondered, how can I sing about this without saying his name?” All proceeds from song purchases are going to Planned Parenthood. Blakeslee said: “I decided to use the song to benefit PP because one of the things that is so shocking about the election result is that it sends such a negative message to women and girls.... It’s the least I could do - for all of the women in the world, in my life, and especially for my mother - to fight back and make a clear statement that we will not accept this backwards agenda.” In a piece in TheTalkhouse, Blakeslee wrote:
When the result was called at the crack of dawn that November morning, I knew I had to come back home as soon as possible and join with my fellow Americans in resisting this imminent slide toward fascism, tyranny, intolerance, bigotry, sexism, xenophobia and unchecked capitalist pillaging.
In a psychological state quite similar to mourning, I was inspired and comforted watching from afar on social media as friends and family joined hundreds of thousands of others in the streets and wished I could be there with them to say NO to hatred and regression and YES to love and continued communal progress.
While in Amsterdam a few days later, the idea for this song (“Not Gonna Say Your Name” ) came to me; I was writing a lot of angry words and I was desperately trying to figure out how to say something positive, to make some kind of contribution and offer a different way of thinking about the situation instead of just complaining and fixating on this person that so many of us can’t help but despise.
To read the whole piece by Blakeslee go here
To watch the video of “Not Gonna Say Your Name” go here.
The Girl Scouts of America have come under severe criticism for its decision to have 75 Girl Scouts march in Trump’s inauguration parade. People are saying they should not participate—given Trump’s ugly comments about women and Pence’s extreme anti-abortion views. Jean Hannah Edelstein, a New York-born, London-based journalist and the author of Himglish and Femalese: Why Women Don’t Get Why Men Don’t Get Them, wrote in a January 18 opinion piece in the Guardian:
The news that the Girl Scouts are sending a contingent to participate in Donald Trump’s inauguration filled me with real rage. How can an organization that promises to build “girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place” send them to celebrate the ascent of a leader who would likely consider them fair game for sexual assault if they grow up to be “beautiful”?
...what would be emotionally and physically safe for a girl about watching the swearing-in of Mike Pence as Vice President, a man who’s sworn to overturn the laws that allow them to use the bathrooms where they feel safe? What of Muslim Girl Scouts, who’ve been told that their names will be put on a list, or undocumented girls, who are also welcome to join Girl Scouts? Should they march, or should only the girls who Donald Trump might one day rate “a 10” be encouraged to participate?
...Yes, it’s a tradition: they’ve marched at inauguration for decades. But does tradition justify collaboration with an administration that promises to oppress the young women it’s supposed to serve? As shown by John Lewis and the other members of Congress who are choosing to skip the inauguration, sometimes human rights are more important than protocol. The Girl Scouts is an organization that has stood up for the human rights of girls and women for many years. Why quit now?
Read this whole piece here.
New York Times columnist, Charles M. Blow’s piece on January 19, 2017 is titled, “Are You Not Alarmed?” and says:
I continue to be astonished that not enough Americans are sufficiently alarmed and abashed by the dangerous idiocies that continue to usher forth from the mouth of the man who will on Friday be inaugurated as president of the United States.
Toss ideology out of the window. This is about democracy and fascism, war and peace, life and death. I wish that I could write those words with the callous commercialism with which some will no doubt read them, as overheated rhetoric simply designed to stir agitation, provoke controversy and garner clicks. But alas, they are not. These words are the sincere dispatches of an observer, writer and citizen who continues to see worrisome signs of a slide toward the exceedingly unimaginable by a man who is utterly unprepared.
In a series of interviews and testimonies Donald Trump and his cronies have granted in the last several days, they have demonstrated repeatedly how destabilizing, unpredictable and indeed unhinged the incoming administration may be. Their comments underscore the degree to which this administration may not simply alter our democracy beyond recognition, but also potentially push us into armed conflict...
This is insanity. But too many Americans don’t want to see this threat for what it is. International affairs and the very real threat of escalating militarization and possibly even military conflict seems much harder to grasp than the latest inflammatory tweet.
Maybe people think this possibility is unthinkable. Maybe people are just hoping and praying that cooler heads will prevail. Maybe they think that Trump’s advisers will smarten him up and talk him down.
But where is your precedent for that? When has this man been cautious or considerate? This man with loose lips and tweeting thumbs may very well push us into another war, and not with a country like Afghanistan, but with a nuclear-armed country with something to prove.
Are you not alarmed?
To read the whole piece go here.
Green Day continues to call out Trump as a fascist. A video of the song “Troubled Times” from their latest album, Revolution Radio, was released on Monday, MLK Day. A statement from Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong said, "Today we celebrate love and compassion more than ever." The song/video doesn’t name Trump but the message is clear through the imagery. There’s a Trump-like figure with KKK teeth wearing a “Make America Great Again” cap—spewing hateful, racist garbage before crowds as Kluckers come out of the White House. Cops beating up Black people. But there are also images of resistance: People with signs saying “Stop racism, islamophobia, and war,” “No border wall,” and “Against racist hate.” Clips from the Civil Rights Movement and the the women’s suffrage battle. At the end, the stakes of the situation are underscored with a nuclear mushroom cloud.
This isn’t the first time Green Day has called out Trump. Shortly after the election, during their MTV and American Music Awards performances of the song “Bang Bang,” they added the chant: "No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA." Armstrong said, "It was a good start to challenge [Trump] on all of his ignorant policies and his racism."
The lyrics to "Troubled Times" are searing:
What good is love and peace on earth?
When it's exclusive?
Where's the truth in the written word?
If no one reads it
A new day dawning
Comes without warning
So don't blink twice
We live in troubled times
We live in troubled times
What part of history we learned
When it's repeated
Some things will never overcome
If we don't seek it
The world stops turning
So don't think twice
We live in troubled times
We live in troubled times
On MLK Day, Rapper T.I. (Tip Harris) sent out a series of tweets and videos addressed to Black celebrities and athletes who are meeting with Trump.
“Attn.!!!! Be clear.... There IS an agenda behind all these meetings. “There’s a strategic plan that people are trying to make you a part of.... Do not accept any invitation to have any meeting, no matter how positive you think the outcome may be.” “Given what’s going on between him & Congressman Lewis... All y’all looking CRAZY right now!!!! Be Aware, BE Alert, Or Be Bamboozled.”
One tweet has a photo of Malcolm X with a quote from him: “The first thing the (white racist) does when he comes in power, he takes all the Negro leaders and invites them for coffee. To show that he’s all right. And those Uncle Toms can’t pass up the coffee. They come away from the coffee table telling you and me that this man is all right.” T.I. writes: “Sound familiar? Malcolm knew it then.... Be Aware, Be Alert, or Be Bamboozled.”
One tweet addresses Trump: “Should it ever seem at times like we are against you, I assure it is a result of you defining yourself as the representative of those who are and who always have been against us... The deck has always been stacked against us in this country. With every generation there has been strategic steps to oppress, imprison, and control us.”
See T.I.’s tweets and videos here.
A small but determined group of protesters rallied in the cold Chicago rain on MLK Day, where Christian clergy, representatives from the Muslim community, and youth spoke along with other fighters in the movement to Stop Trump and Pence. After the rally the protest took off in two parallel marches down both sides of State Street, stopping on the corners to speak to people who were out on the cold, wet street. Protestors criss-crossed back and forth across State Street, blocking traffic briefly a number of times. Some people along the route joined in the march briefly, and others took up posters and/or bundles of the Call and were organized to organize others in the fight to stop the fascist Trump-Pence regime.
Speakers at the rally addressed the need and possibility of stopping the Trump-Pence regime from taking power and the recently released Justice Department report detailing years of abuse of Black and brown people by the Chicago police. They included Rev. Gregg Greer of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference; Rev.Pughsley; Salman Aftab from the American Muslim Task Force on Civil Rights and Elections; Raja Yaqub from the American Muslim Aliance; and a middle school student who spoke about the terror Pence will bring to the LGBTQ community with his promotion of electro-shock torture “conversion therapy.” The following statement from Michael Dietler, professor of anthropology at the University of Chicago was read.
This day, of all days, should raise awareness of the danger that Donald Trump poses to this country, and to the world. The contrast with Martin Luther King could not be stronger.
Today the nation honors a fearless champion of human rights and human dignity, a man of principle who dedicated his life to the service of others and was willing to be sacrificed in the struggle against injustice. We also honor all those heroes of the Civil Rights movement, those thousands of ordinary people who courageously put their bodies and their lives on the line to oppose the racist, oppressive, violent regimes that tried to deny people their rights.
In ironic contrast, this Friday, a new president will be sworn in who waged a disgraceful campaign of lies and deceit, of racist bigotry and hatred, of misogyny, fear, and ignorance. Donald Trump has no principles, no concern for anyone but himself. He has spent his life in the relentless pursuit of personal wealth and power, using any means available without regard to the consequences for others.
He is a liar, fraud, and a dangerous egomaniac who has already normalized racism, xenophobia, and misogyny and prepared a cabinet of robber barons ready to pillage the country. Now is the time for all good people of conscience to come together to oppose this destructive force, before it is too late. Let the voice of the people rise again in solidarity with the spirit of the Civil Rights movement: justice and equality for all! Stand up against racism, xenophobia, misogyny, and greed!
Ava DuVernay is an American director, screenwriter, film marketer, and film distributor. Her film Selma, which told the story of the campaign led by Dr. Martin Luther King for equal voting right and the famous march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965,was nominated for Best Picture at the 2014 Oscars. And DuVernay became first Black female director to be nominated for a Golden Globe Award.
DuVernay’s recent Netflix documentary 13th just picked up three Critics’ Choice Awards and is on the Oscar shortlist for best documentary. 13th, named for the constitutional amendment that abolished slavery with the exception of punishment for crime, digs deeply into and exposes the rise of mass incarceration in the USA. 13th includes a series of powerful clips that shows Donald Trump and footage from the Civil Right era—where Trump is talking about “the good old days.”
During the film’s press screening at the New York Film Festival in October, DuVernay talked about how she debated whether to include Trump, who at the time was the Republican presidential candidate, in the documentary. She said, “Take him out? Leave him in? No, he doesn’t deserve a place in this thing, and such. But you gotta show that stuff because it’s too important and it can’t be forgotten,”
13th is available to stream on Netflix.
At his January 11 press conference, Trump refused to take a question from CNN reporter Jim Acosta, saying, “You are fake news.” In an article in the Columbia Journalism Review titled “Trump berated a CNN reporter, and fellow journalists missed an opportunity” Pete Vernon says:
CNN Senior White House Correspondent Jim Acosta stood pleading with Trump to acknowledge his question, referencing earlier attacks made by Trump and his press secretary about the accuracy of a CNN report detailing Trump’s ties to Russia. “Mr. President-elect, since you have been attacking our news organization, can you give us a chance?” Acosta yelled above the scrum of reporters.
“No! Not you. No! Your organization is terrible,” the President-elect shot back. When Acosta persisted in shouting for recognition, Trump pointed a finger at him and said, “Don’t be rude. No, I’m not going to give you a question.”
Trump then turned to the next question, and the press conference proceeded from there. It was a striking moment not only for the direct confrontation between the two men, but also for the fact that it seemed to have no effect on other journalists in the room. No one immediately leapt to Acosta’s defense....
I wished those journalists in attendance had picked up Acosta’s line of questioning, or even refused to continue asking questions, until the President-elect acknowledged the organization he had earlier attacked....
Next Friday, the new administration begins. As a candidate, and now as the President-elect, Trump and his team have shown a willingness to retaliate, bully, and ban journalists whose questions he doesn’t want to answer. As an industry, we must be prepared for more moments like today’s, and we must be ready to respond accordingly.
Peter Vernon’s article is available online here.
A group of Christian theologians of various denominations delivered an open letter to the heads of the Senate Judiciary Committee to oppose the nomination of Jeff Sessions as U.S. Attorney General. The signatories include Peter Goodwin Heltzel, New York Theological Seminary; Jeannine Hill Fletcher, Fordham University; Gary Agee, Anderson University (Indiana); Cornel West, Harvard University; James Cone, Union Theological Seminary; Jim Wallis, Sojourner; and others.
The theologians’ letter says in part:
Vulnerable populations in our country—victims of police brutality, undocumented workers, LGBTQ persons, women, people of color, and people of non-Christian faiths—are placed at increased risk of further harm when our laws are not upheld. Yet, throughout his career, Senator Sessions has taken positions that compromise the rights of these vulnerable populations. His racist comments reflect prejudice against people of color. His opposition to immigration reform, LGBTQ rights, women’s rights and equal access for persons with disabilities make it unlikely that he shares the Christian vision of justice and protection of the vulnerable that we embrace.
The letter and signatories are available online here.
A moving and deeply thought-provoking PSA video produced by Katy Perry asks the question: is history repeating itself? The short video features actor Hina Khan, a Muslim of Pakistani heritage, and begins with the voice of 89-year-old Haru Kuromiya—recalling how, when she was a girl during World War 2, her family, along with about 120,000 other Japanese Americans, were first put on a registry and then forced by the U.S. government into concentration (internment) camps.
According to the LA Times, “Codirected by filmmakers Aya Tanimura and Tim Nackashi, the #DontNormalizeHate PSA landed the early support of director Spike Jonze and actor-activist George Takei. But it was Perry whom Tanimura credits for making the short possible.” The video has close to 300,000 views since it was posted on YouTube—it should be seen by millions. Watch it below:
Bruce Springsteen on Marc Maron’s WRTF podcast on January 2 (at the end) is asked what his biggest fear is about Trump and says:
That a lot of the worst things and the worst aspects of what he appealed to come to fruition. When you let that genie out of the bottle – bigotry, racism, when you let those things out of the bottle, intolerance, they don't go back in the bottle that easily if they go back in at all. Whether it's a rise in hate crimes, people feeling they have license to speak and behave in ways that previously were considered un-American and are un-American. That's what he's appealing to. And so my fears are that those things find a place in ordinary, civil society; demeans the discussions and events of the day and the country changes in a way that is unrecognizable and we become estranged, as you say, you say hey well, wait a minute you voted for Trump, I thought I knew who you were, I’m not sure. The country feels very estranged, you feel very estranged from your countrymen. So those are all dangerous things and he hasn’t even taken office yet.
The podcast is available here
Recently, Threshold, an imprint of the book publisher Simon & Schuster, gave a $250,000 book deal to Milo Yiannopoulos, writer for the neo-Nazi, white-supremacist Breitbart News Network and supporter of Trump. There was immediate outrage against the deal from writers, bookstores, book reviewers, and others. (See “Outrage at Simon & Schuster’s Book Deal for Pro-Trump Racist.”) Now more than 160 children’s and young adult (YA) book authors and illustrators with Simon & Schuster have sent a letter protesting the deal to the Simon & Schuster CEO and “all the readers and supporters of books for children.”
As technology editor at Breitbart, Yiannopoulos promoted “GamerGate,” a vicious flood of degrading attacks and terroristic threats against prominent women in the video game development community. This summer he was banned from Twitter after his followers carried out a racist harassment campaign against Black comedian/actor Leslie Jones.
The letter from the authors and illustrators reads in part:
Threshold has placed Simon & Schuster’s considerable reputation and weight behind one of the most prominent faces of the newly repackaged white supremacist/white nationalist movement and financially supported a man who routinely denigrates, verbally attacks, and directs dangerous internet doxxing and hate campaigns against women, minorities, LGBTQ individuals, Muslims, and anyone he chooses to target who supports equality and human decency. Irrespective of the content of this book, by extending a mainstream publication contract, Threshold has chosen to legitimize this reprehensible belief system, these behaviors, and white supremacy itself....
As Simon & Schuster authors and illustrators who are already published, with books in the release pipeline, with contracts in place, we do not have to quietly accept or assent to this “Gleichschaltung,” this getting in line with fascism and making it mainstream. We reject the wisdom of this decision. This man, and this book, are not America. This man, and this book, are not the bulk of Simon & Schuster. This man, and this book, are not us, the authors and illustrators of Simon & Schuster. We believe that the children we write for deserve a better America.
Among the signers of the letter are winners of Newbery, Caldecott, and National Book Award honors, including Cassandra Clare, Laurie Halse Anderson, Christian Robinson, Dan Santat, Marla Frazee, Ellen Hopkins, and Rachel Renée Russell. The Publisher’s Weekly article on this, including the text of the full letter and the list of signatories, is available online here.
Charlotte Church is a Welch singer who performs in many genres and has a big following. She has sold over ten million records worldwide.
The Trump team, which has already been turned down by most of the entertainers they have asked to perform at the inauguration, sent an invitation to Church. Church tweeted her reply directly to Trump @realDonaldTrump:
“Your staff have asked me to sing at your inauguration, a simple Internet search would show I think you’re a tyrant. Bye.”
Her message was followed by four poop emoji.
This is the link to her tweet.
At the Australian Open tennis tournament, Australian tennis star Nick Kyrgios made a statement about Donald Trump with his T-shirt. During his match with Rafael Nadal he wore a shirt that had Trump’s face covered with devil-like illustrations and the words “Fuck Donald Trump” at the bottom.
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights sent a letter to the U.S. Senate opposing the confirmation of Sessions as Attorney General, saying:
On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition of more than 200 national organizations committed to promote and protect the civil and human rights of all persons in the United States, and the 144 undersigned organizations, we are writing to express our strong opposition to the confirmation of Senator Jefferson B. Sessions (R-AL) to be the 84th Attorney General of the United States.
Senator Sessions has a 30-year record of racial insensitivity, bias against immigrants, disregard for the rule of law, and hostility to the protection of civil rights that makes him unfit to serve as the Attorney General of the United States. In our democracy, the Attorney General is charged with enforcing our nation’s laws without prejudice and with an eye toward justice. And, just as important, the Attorney General has to be seen by the public—every member of the public, from every community—as a fair arbiter of justice. Unfortunately, there is little in Senator Sessions’ record that demonstrates that he would meet such a standard.
To read the whole letter go here
Shaun King’s column in the Monday, January 9 New York Daily News was titled “Americans must call Trump out on lies, not get so used to them that we become desensitized to his dishonesty.” King writes, in part:
Last night, Meryl Streep, in an acceptance speech for a lifetime achievement award that she won at the Golden Globes, reminded the audience that our incoming President once openly mocked a reporter with a physical disability from the stage of a rally....Trump has now outrageously said he has no recollection of ever meeting Kovaleski and was not aware of his disability, but that is another outrageous lie. He did not meet Kovaleski once or twice. He did not meet him three or four times, or even half a dozen times, but met with Kovaleski at least a dozen times across the years. They met in Trump’s office, at events, and at press conferences. They were so close that Kovaleski described them as being “on a first name basis for years.”
To fight back against Streep reminding us of what he did, Trump is lying about lies about lies. His lies have so many layers that it often seems like he gets lost and simply cannot keep up....
Our incoming President of the United States is a liar. He tells them often. He lies far more often than he tells the truth. We must call him out on it. We must not become desensitized to his lies. We must not get so used to them that they become normal to us.
One of the most dishonest men on Earth is about to become our leader. I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t deeply concerned about what comes next.
To read the whole piece by Shaun King, go here.
On Sunday night, January 8, Meryl Streep received The Cecil B. DeMille Award, an honorary Golden Globe Award given by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for “outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment.” In accepting the award, she said, in part:
An actor’s only job is to enter the lives of people who are different from us and let you feel what that feels like. And there were many, many, many powerful performances this year that did exactly that—breathtaking compassionate work. But there was one performance this year that stunned me. It sank its hooks in my heart. Not because it was good. There was nothing good about it. But it was effective and it did its job. It made its intended audience laugh and show their teeth. It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter, someone he outranked in privilege, power and the capacity to fight back. It kind of broke my heart when I saw it and I still can’t get it out of my head because it wasn’t in a movie. It was real life. And this instinct to humiliate, when it’s modeled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody’s life because it kind of gives permission for other people to do the same thing. Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence incites violence. When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.
Watch Meryl Streep’s acceptance speech here
Jello Biafra is the former lead singer for the band Dead Kennedys, known for songs like “California Über Alles” and “Nazi Punks Fuck Off.” In a recent interview in Rolling Stone magazine he said:
As laughable as Rick Perry has been as governor of Texas and other [presidential] campaigns, he’s also very dangerous. At first they were saying Secretary of Agriculture for him, but then suddenly Secretary of Energy. That dude is in charge of our nukes now and he’s also part of a fundamentalist Christian doomsday cult. ... It was basically yet another cult like the one Sarah and Todd Palin prescribed, whose whole mindset was “Jesus is coming soon, and in order to expedite we should be wasting every last natural resource and clear-cutting every tree we can right now because Jesus is coming back again. It’s OK to run up further budget deficits, because Jesus loves America, he’s going to put the money back.”...
People are freaked out that Trump has made the head of Exxon the Secretary of State, and the guy is so tight and in bed with Putin—well, there’s another part of Rex Tillerson I hope people are going to highlight, too. He’s the one who finally admitted climate change existed as head of Exxon, but then he said mankind will adapt and so it’s no big deal....
What we’re looking at here is Jim Crow 2.0, and they’re going to be even more hardcore about that in the 2018 election, to keep anybody with a conscience from being able to vote. Look at who the new Attorney General is going to be, the same guy who in the Eighties said he thought the people in the Ku Klux Klan were all right “until I saw some of them smoked pot.”
Cornell William Brooks, president and CEO of the NAACP, and five other civil rights leaders were arrested January 3 after sitting in at Jeff Sessions’ office in Washington, DC, demanding the withdrawal of his nomination by Trump for Attorney General. In a January 5 interview on Democracy Now, Brooks said:
Our objections are, fundamentally, Senator Sessions represents a kind of dim and dystopian view of American civil liberties and civil rights. And so our objections are at least threefold, first of which is that he has demonstrated an unwillingness to acknowledge the reality of voter suppression that we have seen from one end of the country to the other, as attested to in the Fourth Circuit decision that found voter suppression in North Carolina, the Fifth Circuit decision which found voter suppression in Texas. He has not acknowledged the reality of that, and certainly not the reality of voter suppression in his own state...
In terms of immigration rights, he is one—among one of the most conservative, ultraconservative, extremist senators in terms of his opposition to comprehensive immigration reform. In addition to that, he has voiced an openness to a immigration ban on a global religion, namely Islam, which cannot be squared in any way, shape, fashion or form with the U.S. Constitution.
Number three, his views on criminal justice reform stand in stark contrast to both red state and blue state governors. In other words, he stands for law and order in Nixonian and draconian terms, at a moment in which we have over 2 million Americans behind bars, 65 million Americans with criminal records, 1 million fathers behind bars....
Brooks said the NAACP is “unapologetically opposed” to Sessions and is calling for civil disobedience protests:
The board of directors of the NAACP voted to oppose this nomination. And we’re doing so not only as a matter of policy, but we’re doing so bodily, spiritually, morally, by encouraging civil disobedience—that is to say, standing in the tradition of Mohandas K. Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, standing in that tradition by sitting down. And so, we understand that the odds may be difficult, but we, as the NAACP, don’t gauge our principled opposition to a nominee based upon odds and probabilities, but rather the rightness of the cause....
Read the whole interview here.
In the November-December issue of California Teacher, Joshua Pechthalt, the president of the California Federation of Teachers (CFT), which is part of the American Federation of Teachers, has a piece titled “Responding to election of Donald Trump: Reassess, Mobilize, Defend.” Pechthalt writes:
In the last few weeks, I have had many discussions trying to sort out the implications of a Trump presidency. His nomination for Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, who has been a pro-voucher, pro-charter school advocate, demonstrates he wants to privatize and charterize public schools. President-elect Trump is making clear where he wants to take the country.
Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, who has said positive things about the KKK and will likely head the Justice Department, indicates this administration will not be an advocate for criminal justice reform, voting rights, and countless other social justice efforts. More disturbing will be Trump’s appointments to the Supreme Court. A generation of justices will be in the majority and committed to an agenda that is opposed to union rights, women’s rights, voting rights, environmental protection, and other matters that will affect our children and grandchildren.
Trump has also strengthened his relationship with Steve Bannon, the former leader of Breitbart News and one of the leaders of a movement known as the alt-right. The alt-right sees this appointment as an opportunity to fan the flames of white nationalism, racism and anti-Semitism. One needs only to watch the Nazi salute at a recent gathering of alt-right supporters in the nation’s capital to be alarmed. The similarities with the rise of fascism in Europe in the 1930s, and the growing neo-fascist movement now gaining traction in Western European countries, are chilling and require a response...
The issue of California Teacher containing the article by Pechthalt is available online here.
The University of Tennessee marching band is scheduled to march in Trump’s Inauguration parade, but a lot of alumni of the school and residents of Tennessee are protesting this. More than 3,340 people have already signed an online petition calling on the president and director of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville to stop the university marching band from playing in the inaugural parade. The change.org petition, signed “Concerned Citizens and Alumni,” says in part:
As either proud residents of Tennessee or proud University of Tennessee alumni, we are greatly disturbed by the behavior exhibited by Donald Trump both during and after the recent presidential campaign. He has made racist and sexist remarks that should never come out of the mouth of someone in public office.
As residents of Tennessee, we believe that the attendance at the upcoming inauguration of a band representing the state of Tennessee would condone this behavior. As alumni, we believe that no university should risk its reputation and credibility by welcoming such ignorance and celebrating a man like Trump. It is for this reason that we urge that the band not march at the upcoming inauguration.
On January 1, comedian and TV entertainer Rosie O’Donnell tweeted:
DONALD TRUMP IS MENTALLY UNSTABLE -
LESS THAN 3 WEEKS TO STOP HIM AMERICA
The day before, in response to a Donald Trump New Year’s Eve tweet, O’Donnell tweeted:
@realDonaldTrump - we know what to do RESIST YOU - and everything you represent #notANYONESpresident #resist #liar #cheater #fraud #crook
She also tweeted:
Nobody can go back
and start a new beginning,
but anyone can start today
and make a new ending.
~ Maria Robinson
Then on January 3, @ROSIE retweeted:
The amount of flak @Rosie O’Donnell is taking right now for stating fact, as if SHE’s out of line, is criminal. #NoFascistUSA #DontNormalize
Olivet Nazarene is a Christian university located south of Chicago in Illinois. When school officials announced that the Olivet Nazarene band would be taking part in Trump’s inauguration, there was immediate opposition. An online petition, “Withdraw Olivet Nazarene University from Inaugural Parade,” has gathered over 2,000 signers. The petition, addressed to the college president and administrators, says in part:
Sadly, President-elect Trump has consistently articulated and advocated policies that undermine the Christian commitments of communities like Olivet. His well-documented sexism, his political alliances with white supremacists, and his hostility towards immigrants and refugees are just a few positions incompatible with Christian teachings in general and the Nazarene message of holiness in particular.
Any university presence at the inauguration would suggest toleration or, even worse, endorsement of the President-elect’s objectionable attitudes on these and other issues. Such a presence is simply unacceptable.
We call on you to decline this and any other invitations to participate in President-elect Trump’s inaugural festivities. We make this request not out of partisan opposition. Both educational and religious organizations should be capable of holding differing political opinions within the bonds of community. Yet, conservatives and liberals alike acknowledge that President-elect Trump has demeaned and alienated many, with little or no effort made towards reconciliation. For Olivet to embody the faith it proclaims, we have a responsibility to stand with those marginalized by the President-elect’s divisive rhetoric rather than march in celebration of it.
Rebecca Ferguson is a British singer and songwriter. Her 2015 album “Lady Sings the Blues,” covering classic songs by Billie Holiday, made the charts in the UK. Ferguson says she was asked to sing at Trump’s inauguration and says she will do it.... IF she can sing “Strange Fruit”—a song first recorded by Billy Holliday in 1939 that scathingly indicts the lynchings of Black people in the American South. Ferguson wrote on TwitLonger:
I’ve been asked and this is my answer. If you allow me to sing “strange fruit” a song that has huge historical importance, a song that was blacklisted in the United States for being too controversial. A song that speaks to all the disregarded and down trodden black people in the United States. A song that is a reminder of how love is the only thing that will conquer all the hatred in this world, then I will graciously accept your invitation and see you in Washington. Best Rebecca X
Soon after the election, Gregg Popovich, one of the top coaches in the National Basketball Association (NBA), was asked to comment on Trump’s victory. The following are excerpts from his comments:
It’s our country, we don’t want it to go down the drain. Any reasonable person would come to that conclusion. But it does not take away the fact that he is fear-mongering—all the comments, from day one—the race baiting, trying to make Barack Obama, the first Black president, illegitimate. It leaves me wondering where I’ve been living and with whom I’m living.
And the fact that people can just gloss that over and start talking about the transition team, and we’re all gonna be kumbaya now and try to make the country good without talking about any of those things. And now we see that he’s already backing off of immigration and Obamacare and other things, so was it a big fake? Which makes you feel it’s even more disgusting and cynical that somebody would use that to get the base that fired up. To get elected. And what gets lost in the process are African-Americans, and Hispanics, and women, and the gay population, not to mention the eighth-grade developmental stage exhibited by him when he made fun of the handicapped person. I mean, come on. That’s what a seventh-grade, eighth-grade bully does. And he was elected president of the United States. We would have scolded our kids. We would have had discussions and talked until we were blue in the face trying to get them to understand these things. And he is in charge of our country. That’s disgusting.
See a YouTube of Popovich (along with another NBA coach, Stan Van Gundy) commenting on Trump here.
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir is scheduled to sing at Trump’s inauguration and 19,000 members of the Mormon Church have already signed a petition against them performing. Now, a member of the choir, Jan Chamberlin, has resigned over this, saying, “I could never throw roses to Hitler. And I certainly could never sing for him." Her letter, which was posted on Facebook, says:
Since “the announcement” [of the Choir performing at the inauguration], I have spent several sleepless nights and days in turmoil and agony. I have reflected carefully on both sides of the issue, prayed a lot, talked with family and friends, and searched my soul.
I’ve tried to tell myself that by not going to the inauguration, that I would be able to stay in Choir for all the other good reasons.
I have highly valued the mission of the Choir to be good-will ambassadors for Christ, to share beautiful music and to give hope, inspiration, and comfort to others.
I’ve tried to tell myself that it will be alright and that I can continue in good conscience before God and man.
But it’s no use. I simply cannot continue with the recent turn of events. I could never look myself in the mirror again with self respect...
I also know, looking from the outside in, it will appear that Choir is endorsing tyranny and fascism by singing for this man...
Tyranny is now on our doorstep; it has been sneaking its way into our lives through stealth. Now it will burst into our homes through storm. I hope that we and many others will work together with greater diligence and awareness to calmly and bravely work together to defend our freedoms and our rights for our families, our friends, and our fellow citizens. I hope we can throw off the labels and really listen to each other with respect, love, compassion, and a true desire to bring our energies and souls together in solving the difficult problems that lie in our wake...
History is repeating itself; the same tactics are being used by Hitler (identify a problem, finding a scapegoat target to blame, and stirring up people with a combination of fanaticism, false promises, and fear, and gathering the funding). I plead with everyone to go back and read the books we all know on these topics and review the films produced to help us learn from these gargantuan crimes so that we will not allow them to be repeated. Evil people prosper when good people stand by and do nothing.
We must continue our love and support for the refugees and the oppressed by fighting against these great evils.
For me, this is a HUGELY moral issue....
I only know I could never “throw roses to Hitler.” And I certainly could never sing for him.
To read the whole letter go here.
The Radio City Rockettes, whose trademark routine is a line of dancers doing eye-high leg kicks in perfect unison, are scheduled to perform at Trump’s inauguration. Right away there were signs that some of the dancers are very disturbed about this. In a shameful move, the union representing the Rockettes, the American Guild of Variety Artists, sent an email to the dancers saying they were “obliged” to perform at the inauguration. Later the company that owns the Radio City Rockettes, the Madison Square Garden Company, told Rolling Stone magazine that individual dancers “are never told they have to perform at a particular event, including the inaugural. It is always their choice.” But one can imagine the pressure being put on these women to perform and what it could mean for their careers if they refuse.
Recently, MarieClaire.com wrote a piece about this controversy, including quotes from an exclusive interview they did with “Mary,” one of the Rockettes. The following are some excerpts from this article:
The dancer next to Mary was crying. Tears streamed down her face through all 90 minutes of their world-famous Christmas Spectacular as they kicked and pirouetted and hit mark after mark on the glittering Radio City Music Hall stage. This was Thursday, three days before Christmas, the day the Rockettes discovered they’d been booked to perform at the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump.
“She felt she was being forced to perform for this monster,” Mary told MarieClaire.com in an exclusive interview. “I wouldn’t feel comfortable standing near a man like that in our costumes,” said another dancer in an email to her colleagues.
For Mary? “If I had to lose my job over this, I would. It’s too important. And I think the rest of the performing arts community would happily stand behind me.” ...
“There is a divide in the company now, which saddens me most,” Mary says. “The majority of us said no immediately. Then there’s the percentage that said yes, for whatever reason—whether it’s because they’re young and uninformed, or because they want the money, or because they think it’s an opportunity to move up in the company when other people turn it down.” ...
Mary says that to her knowledge, no women of color have signed up to perform that day. “It’s almost worse to have 18 pretty white girls behind this man who supports so many hate groups.” ...
“This is not a Republican or Democrat issue—this is a women’s rights issue,” she continues. “This is an issue of racism and sexism, something that’s much bigger than politics. We walk into work and everyone has different political views. The majority of the stage crew are Trump supporters; there’s a ‘Make America Great Again’ bumper sticker on the crew doors at the side of the stage.”
But the majority of the staff skews liberal, she says, especially considering the many LGBT employees at Radio City. “It’s the ensemble. It’s the people in our wardrobe and hair department, some of whom are transgender,” she says. “These are our friends and our family, who we’ve worked with for years. It’s a basic human-rights issue. We have immigrants in the show. I feel like dancing for Trump would be disrespecting the men and women who work with us, the people we care about.”
On December 29, former Rockette Autumn Withers said in an interview on cable news channel MSNBC that the group has performed at previous inaugurations but Trump is different:
[W]e’ve never had an incoming president who has publically and repeatedly demeaned women and said derogatory things about women. And I think that’s what makes this is a really unique situation and elevates it above a situation of just doing your job as a Rockette as you would for any other event and elevates it to a moral issue, a woman’s rights issue. What does this say, the optics of having the Rockettes perform at Trump’s inauguration? How does that normalize these comments and remarks that Trump has made to women at large and is that OK?
He has talked about grabbing women’s genitals, he has called them names from dogs, pigs, slobs, crooked, nasty. And to have a beautiful line of women dancing behind him I think on a larger level kind of normalizes his derogatory comments. I have Republican female family members and even when you bring up his comments they’re very uncomfortable and they still agree that this is a women’s rights issue....
The whole MarieClair.com article is available here.
To listen to the MSNBC interview with Autumn Withers, go here.
The Fulbright Program, funded by the U.S. government and private sources, gives prestigious scholarships to about 8,000 recipients yearly—for students, academics, artists and others in the U.S. to study and do research abroad and for recipients in other countries to do the same in the U.S. After the presidential election, three past and current Fulbright grant recipients wrote an open letter expressing alarm at Trump’s victory. The letter has gathered signatures from over 1,500 other past and current Fulbright scholarship recipients from 95 countries.
Their letter says in part: “We have, for the last eighteen months, watched the electoral process unfold in the United States as the president-elect openly engaged in demagoguery against a number of vulnerable populations, courted hate groups, threatened the press, and promised vindictive actions against his opponents. This is not populism; it is recklessness. The consequence could be dire for both international cooperation and peace. We are now worried by the prospect of his inauguration into one of the world’s most powerful offices with the power to carry out his stated intentions. While we respect the American electoral system, we write to express our deepest concerns.”
The letter and list of signatories are available online here.
Franz Wasserman, 96 years old, was a youth in Germany during the 1930s and saw the rise of the Nazis first-hand. He’s never considered himself an activist. But with the election of Trump, he felt he had to act. He wrote a letter to U.S. senators warning of the parallels between Trump and Hitler—and shared it with others. Jerry Lange, a columnist for the Seattle Times, received a copy, and he wrote a piece on Wasserman that appeared on December 26.
Wasserman begins the letter: “I was born in Munich, Germany, in 1920. I lived there during the rise of the Nazi Party and left for the U.S.A. in 1938. The elements of the Nazi regime were the suppression of dissent, the purging of the dissenters and undesirables, the persecution of communists, Jews and homosexuals and the ideal of the Arians as the master race. These policies started immediately after Hitler came to power, at first out of sight but escalated gradually leading to the Second World War and the holocaust. Meanwhile most Germans were lulled into complacency by all sorts of wonderful projects and benefits.”
Today, Wasserman writes, “The neo-Nazis and the KKK have become more prominent and get recognition in the press. We are all familiar with Trump’s remarks against all Muslims and all Mexicans. But there has not been anything as alarming as the appointment of Steve Bannon as Trump’s Chief Strategist. Bannon has, apparently, made anti-Semitic remarks for years, has recently condemned Muslims and Jews and he and Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the pick as National Security Adviser, advocate the political and cultural superiority of the white race. At the same time Trump is trying to control the press... We can hope that our government of checks and balances will be more resistant than the Weimar Republic was. Don’t count on it.”
The Seattle Times article with quotes from Franz Wasserman and his story is available here.
The following “Statement by Feminist Scholars on the Election of Donald Trump as President” is posted at a number of sites on the Internet and so far has more than 900 signatories:
“On Tuesday, November 8, 2016, a sizeable minority of the U.S. electorate chose to send billionaire Donald Trump, an avowed sexist and an unrepentant racist, who has spent nearly forty years antagonizing vulnerable people, to the White House. Spewing hatred at women, people of color, immigrants, Muslims, and those with disabilities is Trump’s most consistent, and well-documented form of public engagement. Trump bragged about sexually assaulting women because, as he quipped, his celebrity made it easy for him to do so. We can only assume that the hostile climate and anxiety about what is to come were contributing factors. The political shift we are witnessing, including the appointment of open bigots to the president-elect’s cabinet, reaffirms the structural disposability and systemic disregard for every person who is not white, male, straight, cisgender, able-bodied, and middle or upper class.
“As a community of feminist scholars, activists and artists, we affirm that the time to act is now. We cannot endure four years of a Trump presidency without a plan. We must protect reproductive justice, fight for Black lives, defend the rights of LGBTQIA people, disrupt the displacement of indigenous people and the stealing of their resources, advocate and provide safe havens for the undocumented, stridently reject Islamophobia, and oppose the acceleration of neoliberal policies that divert resources to the top 1% and abandon those at the bottom of the economic hierarchy. We must also denounce militarization at home and abroad, and climate change denial that threatens to destroy the entire planet.
“We must also reject calls to compromise, to understand, or to collaborate. We cannot and will not comply. Our number one priority is to resist. We must resist the instantiation of autocracy. We must resist this perversion of democracy. We must refuse spin and challenge any narratives that seek to call this moment “democracy at work.” This is not democracy; this is the rise of a 21st century U.S. version of fascism. We must name it, so we can both confront and defeat it. The most vulnerable, both here and abroad, cannot afford for us to equivocate or remain silent. The threats posed by settler colonialism and empire around the globe have never been more real, nor has our resolve to oppose these injustices ever been stronger. Concretely, within the U.S., we oppose the building of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, and the establishment of a registry for Muslim residents.
“We owe this moment and the communities we fight for our very best thinking, teaching, and organizing. We must find creative solutions to address the immediate needs of those who will be acutely affected within the first 100 days of Trump’s presidency. We must push ourselves into new, and more precise and radical analytical frameworks that can help us to articulate the stakes of this moment.
“The most important thing we can do in this moment is to make an unqualified commitment to those on the margins through our actions, insist that the media be allowed to do its job; and protect the right to protest and dissent. We recognize clearly that our silence will not protect us. Silence, in the aftermath of 11/8 is not merely a lack of words; it is a profound inertia of liberatory thought and praxis. So - what are we waiting for? We are who we are waiting for. We pledge to stand and fight, with fierce resolve, for the values and principles we believe in and the people we love.”
The statement and list of signatories is available here.
Shortly after Trump’s election, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) in New York City issued this statement:
"We send love and solidarity to all those who are hurting and afraid that Donald Trump’s America excludes them. We share the despair of the millions who are in shock that a candidate supported by the KKK has won the presidency of the United States.
"If there is a silver lining in this election result it is that it is impossible now to deny the racism, sexism, and xenophobia that have been part of America for centuries. Our duty is to stand together with all those who dissent from this bigotry and to defend and protect vulnerable communities. That has been CCR’s mission for 50 years, and we will work harder than ever to defend civil and human rights and the U.S. Constitution.
"The dangers of a Trump presidency go beyond the attacks on people of color, women, Muslims, immigrants, refugees, LGBTQI people, and people with disabilities. His campaign was marked by the strategies and tactics of authoritarian regimes: endorsing and encouraging violence against political protesters, threatening to jail his opponent, refusing to say he would accept the results of the election if he lost, punishing critical press. Together with all those who value freedom, justice, and self-determination, we must resist and prevent at all costs a slide into American fascism.
"Resistance is our civic duty."
Lauren Duca is an editor for Teen Vogue magazine and has been a contributing reporter/writer for several other magazines including Huffington Post, Vice, New York, and The New Yorker. In a December 10, article published in Teen Vogue titled “Donald Trump Is Gaslighting America,” she writes:
“Trump won the Presidency by gas light. His rise to power has awakened a force of bigotry by condoning and encouraging hatred, but also by normalizing deception. Civil rights are now on trial, though before we can fight to reassert the march toward equality, we must regain control of the truth. If that seems melodramatic, I would encourage you to dump a bucket of ice over your head while listening to ‘Duel of the Fates.’ Donald Trump is our President now; it’s time to wake up.
“‘Gas lighting’ is a buzzy name for a terrifying strategy currently being used to weaken and blind the American electorate. We are collectively being treated like Bella Manningham in the 1938 Victorian thriller from which the term ‘gas light’ takes its name. In the play, Jack terrorizes his wife Bella into questioning her reality by blaming her for mischievously misplacing household items which he systematically hides. Doubting whether her perspective can be trusted, Bella clings to a single shred of evidence: the dimming of the gas lights that accompanies the late night execution of Jack’s trickery. The wavering flame is the one thing that holds her conviction in place as she wriggles free of her captor’s control.
“To gas light is to psychologically manipulate a person to the point where they question their own sanity, and that’s precisely what Trump is doing to this country.... At the hands of Trump, facts have become interchangeable with opinions, blinding us into arguing amongst ourselves, as our very reality is called into question.... The good news about this boiling frog scenario is that we’re not boiling yet. Trump is not going to stop playing with the burner until America realizes that the temperature is too high. It’s on every single one of us to stop pretending it’s always been so hot in here...
“The road ahead is a treacherous one. There are unprecedented amounts of ugliness to untangle, from deciding whether our President can be an admitted sexual predator to figuring out how to stop him from threatening the sovereignty of an entire religion. It’s incredible that any of those things could seem like a distraction from a greater peril, or be only the cherry-picked issues in a seemingly unending list of gaffes, but the gaslights are flickering. When defending each of the identities in danger of being further marginalized, we must remember the thing that binds this pig-headed hydra together. As we spin our newfound rage into action, it is imperative to remember, across identities and across the aisle, as a country and as individuals, we have nothing without the truth.”
To read the whole article go here.
On December 19, Summer Brennan, an award-winning investigative journalist, author, and visiting scholar at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University, tweeted:
“Trump is a fascist. I promise to be a siren going off about this national disaster until it is averted or stopped. #resist”
In an open letter to Trump dated December 13, constitutional legal scholars associated with law schools across the U.S. wrote, “Some of your statements and actions during the campaign and since the election cause us great concern about your commitment to our constitutional system.”
The open letter gets into some of these issues: First Amendment protection of the rights of free speech and free press; “poisonous anti-Muslim rhetoric”; violation of government checks and balances; threats to overturn the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion; appointment of Alabama Senator Sessions, with a “troubling history on voting rights and civil rights,” as Attorney General; “baseless charges concerning voter fraud”; and “inflammatory rhetoric” that has been “taken as invitation to discriminate and to act out in all kinds of hate-filled ways.”
In the point on anti-Muslim attacks, the open letter notes: “To make matters worse, your proposed national security advisor, Michael Flynn, has described what he calls ‘Islamism’ as a ‘vicious cancer inside the body of 1.7 billion people’ that ‘has to be excised.’ Such rhetoric is shocking in its ignorance and bigotry; it must not become normalized. We continue to hear talk of a ‘Muslim registry’ being created by your administration—or a nationality-based registry that would be a proxy for religious discrimination. To our national shame, the federal government during World War II carried out—and the Supreme Court’s discredited Korematsu decision upheld—the mass internment of Japanese Americans based upon no individualized suspicion of wrongdoing; the federal government under President Ronald Reagan subsequently apologized and paid reparations. We urge you to reconsider your naming of Flynn and to renounce a Muslim registry or anything like it.”
The open letter concludes: “Although we sincerely hope that you will take your constitutional oath seriously, so far you have offered little indication that you will. We feel a responsibility to challenge you in the court of public opinion, and we hope that those directly aggrieved by your administration will challenge you in the courts of law. We call upon legal conservatives who cherish constitutional values to join us in speaking law to power. And we call upon citizens, lawyers, educators, public officials, and religious leaders to use every legal means available to protect the most vulnerable members of our society and our constitutional guarantees. At no point that any of us can remember has this need been more imperative than it is now.”
See a pdf of the open letter and list of signatories here.
America Ferrera is an actress who has won many awards, including an Emmy, a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Guild Award. In a December 14 interview, she was asked, “How are you feeling about the future of our environment during the Trump administration?” She said:
“When you have a president-elect who says he doesn’t even know if climate change is real, for the next four to eight years, the future looks pretty horrible. We know that climate change is real, and yet he’s still questioning it. So, that’s pretty terrifying. We haven’t had any time to waste for a long time now, and it’s a pretty devastating thing to start moving backward. So yes, I think that it’s really daunting. But we have to be committed to staying alert and staying awake and staying educated and using our voices to push back. It doesn’t mean it’s gonna be easy, or there’s ever going to be a defining last fight where we win and we never have to go back and defend the idea that climate change is the real thing we need to pay attention to. But we can’t give up the fight.”
During his presidential campaign, many musicians, actors, and other celebrities spoke out against Donald Trump. And now he and his team are having a hard time getting musicians to perform at his inauguration. A number of celebrities have been asked and refused, and some have made it clear that if they are asked, they will refuse.
Read more here
On November 20, Sarah Houghton wrote an Open Letter to Julie Todaro, President of the American Library Association, protesting a press release from the ALA in which Todaro stated, “We are ready to work with President-elect Trump, his transition team, incoming administration and members of Congress to bring more economic opportunity to all Americans and advance other goals we have in common.”
Houghton has been an active member of the ALA for 16 years and says, “I have never before this week considered canceling my membership.” Houghton says in her letter: “I am absolutely not ready to work with President-elect Trump. He has stood for racism, prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination for his entire life—including during his campaign. Those are all things ALA stands firmly against. Explain to me why we’re ready to work with a bigot? Because I’m not ready for that at all. The rest of this release went on to detail some of the things libraries do for communities—coming off as a weak and pandering missive begging for scraps and, in truth, coming from a place of fear.”
Houghton points to another ALA press release that highlights “how libraries can advance specific policy priorities of the incoming Trump administration in the areas of entrepreneurship, services to veterans and broadband adoption and use” and says:
“This trajectory away from justice and toward collaboration with a fascist regime disturbs me greatly. These comments are tone deaf and, not only do not represent my values as a librarian, but do not represent the shared values of the American Library Association and its membership. There is a time to walk a middle road, to give voice to a moderate viewpoint of an organization’s membership. This is not that time. This is the time to stand tall and proud, and give voice to the fiery ethics and values that our profession has held dear for so long in the face of fascism and bigotry.
“I have no intention of supporting this incoming administration in any way whatsoever. With the transition team and other appointments being floated in the press, President-elect Trump has made it clear that racism, sexism, bigotry, assault, discrimination of all kinds, and the destruction of basic civil liberties are foundational to his administration’s philosophy. I refuse to be complicit in the work of the Trump administration and cannot in good faith remain part of a professional organization that chooses to be complicit.”
Read the whole letter here.
Anthony Bourdain, currently host of CNN’s travel and food show Parts Unknown, was asked in a recent interview about sushi chef Alessandro Borgognone’s decision to move his restaurant to Trump’s Washington, DC, hotel. Bourdain said he would “never eat in his restaurant” and felt “utter and complete contempt” for the chef. He explained, “I’m not asking you to start putting up barricades now, but when they come and ask you, ‘Are you with us?’ you do have an option. You can say, ‘No thanks, guys. I don’t look good in a brown shirt. Makes me look a little, I don’t know, not great. It’s not slimming.’” In a tweet on December 22, Bourdain said, “I am not ‘boycotting’ anything. I choose to not patronize chefs who tacitly support deporting half the people they’ve ever worked with”—clear reference to Trump’s threat to deport millions of Mexican immigrants.
José Andrés operates more than a dozen restaurants in cities including Washington, DC; Miami; Las Vegas; and Los Angeles. In 2015, after Trump made disgusting racist comments about Mexican immigrants, Andrés withdrew the commitment he’d made to open a restaurant in Trump’s new DC hotel. Trump sued him for breach of contract, seeking $10 million in damages. Andrés countersued, and said, “More than half of my team is Hispanic, as are many of our guests. And, as a proud Spanish immigrant and recently naturalized American citizen myself, I believe that every human being deserves respect, regardless of immigration status.” Andrés tweeted on December 19: “I am a proud immigrant!! To my fellow immigrants thank you for the amazing work you do every day. #ToImmigrantsWithLove” Trump is required to appear to be deposed in Andrés’s suit, just weeks before his scheduled inauguration.
At the December 18 “We Rock with Standing Rock” benefit concert in Los Angeles, singer Fiona Apple did a fiery performance of her version of the Christmas standard “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire” that begins: “Trump’s nuts roasting on an open fire...” She ends with “Donald Trump... Fuck You!” to the loud cheers of the audience. Watch it here:
George Polisner, a top executive at the tech corporation Oracle, publicly resigned from the company on December 19 after Oracle co-CEO Safra Catz announced she was going to join Trump’s presidential transition team. Catz was among the executives from major tech companies, including Amazon, Google, and Apple, who met with Trump last week—a shameful meeting that helped to lend legitimacy to the Trump-Pence fascist cabal. When Polisner learned of this, he sent his letter to Catz and at the same time posted it on the LinkedIn website.
His resignation letter says in part, “Trump stokes fear, hatred and violence toward people of color, Muslims and immigrants. It is well-known that hate crimes are surging as he has provided license for this ignorance-based expression of malice.... He seeks to eviscerate environmental protections, the public education system, LGBTQ rights and women’s rights.”
And Polisner says in the letter: “I am not with President-elect Trump and I am not here to help him in any way. In fact—when his policies border on the unconstitutional, the criminal and the morally unjust—I am here to oppose him in every possible and legal way.” (emphasis in the original)
Polisner told the UK Guardian that he decided to make his resignation letter public because he “decided it was too important to die as a private letter” and that “I thought I could either be a role model in terms of a path forward or a cautionary tale.”
Read George Polisner’s resignation letter here.
Michael Sheen is a Welsh stage and screen actor whose work includes starring roles in the 2008 film Frost/Nixon and the current Showtime series Masters of Sex. On December 17, the Sunday Times of London ran a profile on him, titled “Michael Sheen gets political. This time it’s for real.” The writer of the profile had expected Sheen to discuss his role in the upcoming sci-fi film Passengers. “Instead, Sheen, 47, wants to talk about politics. Lately, it’s been bothering him a lot. No, that’s not nearly strong enough. What he calls the ‘demagogic, fascistic’ drift of politics in the western world in the past few years, culminating in Donald Trump’s election victory, has left Sheen horrified, furious and determined to do everything he can to counter it. It’s why, after several years of increasing commitments to a broad spread of causes, including the NHS, Unicef, the Freedom of Information Act, fighting homelessness and campaigning against fracking, the actor is preparing to go all in. He plans to start fighting the rise of the ‘hard populist right’—evident in France, Austria, Poland, Hungary, the Netherlands, Britain and the United States—via grassroots organizing in his beloved Port Talbot (he pronounces it “P’Talbot”) and see where it takes him.” (Port Talbot is Sheen’s hometown in Wales.)
Later, the profile quotes Sheen saying, “In the same way as the Nazis had to be stopped in Germany in the Thirties, this thing that is on the rise has to be stopped. But it has to be understood before it can be stopped.”
The whole profile is available at the Times website here (the site requires registration for free access).
A website called “Professor Watchlist,” run by a group called Turning Point USA, has posted the names of more than 200 professors they accuse of putting forward “leftist propaganda” and “discriminating” against right-wing students. This campus witch-hunt is a sign of the time of Trump.
Among the names appearing on the Watchlist are two Notre Dame academics: philosophy professor Gary Gutting and Iris Outlaw, director of Multicultural Student Programs and Services. The Watchlist said Gutting was added because he wrote that the country’s “permissive gun laws are a manifestation of racism,” and Outlaw because she “taught a ‘white privilege’ seminar that pledged to help students acknowledge and understand their white privilege.”
In response, more than 100 Notre Dame faculty members published an open letter in the Observer, the student newspaper at Notre Dame, defying the Professor Watchlist. Their statement said in part: “We surmise that the purpose of your list is to shame and silence faculty who espouse ideas you reject. But your list has had a different effect upon us. We are coming forward to stand with the professors you have called ‘dangerous,’ reaffirming our values and recommitting ourselves to the work of teaching students to think clearly, independently, and fearlessly.
“So please add our names, the undersigned faculty at the University of Notre Dame, to the Professor Watchlist. We wish to be counted among those you are watching.”
The full letter and list of the names are available at the Observer site.
"What if Trump has shown himself beyond doubt and with absolute certainty to be a demagogue and bigot and xenophobe and has given space and voice to concordant voices in the country and in his emerging Legion of Doom cabinet? In that reality, resistance isn't about mindless obstruction by people blinded by the pain of ideological defeat or people gorging on sour grapes. To the contrary, resistance then is an act of radical, even revolutionary, patriotism. Resistance isn't about damaging the country, but protecting it..."
Read the whole column here
More than 500 members of the faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have issued a statement opposing Trump’s official appointments and “upholding the value of science and diversity.” The signers include people from every academic department at MIT, nine department and program heads, and four Nobel Prize recipients. Notable signatories to date include Susan Solomon, Co-Chair of the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; Tim Berners-Lee, World Wide Web inventor; Noam Chomsky, Institute Professor Emeritus; Joichi Ito, Director of the MIT Media Lab; and Junot Díaz, Pulitzer Prize winning author.
This is an important development, and this kind of stand needs to spread to other campuses and through the academic community, even as people get more clarity on the actual fascist nature of Trump and the incoming regime. Read the MIT faculty statement here.
New York Daily News columnist Shaun King's writes: "Now, in the name of a peaceful transition, both President Obama and Hillary Clinton are striking a conciliatory tone. I understand that such a tone is a tradition in American politics, but everything about Donald Trump and this election breaks with tradition. President Obama may feel obligated to strike such a tone, but I don't have such an obligation. Perhaps President Obama feels that by striking such a tone, it makes it more likely that Donald Trump will be moderate after his inauguration. I don't believe that for one second."
His column concludes: "We can't wait until he does those things before we act against him. We must outsmart and out-organize his team. I implore you to ignore anybody saying anything other than that. They've been wrong all year. We must act and we must act now."
Read Shaun King's piece here.
"Trump is saying Hitler-level things in public... And I feel like it's dangerous for us to be complacent"
Read John Legend's comments here.
During the live TV broadcast of the American Music Awards on Sunday night, November 20, the punk rock band Green Day let loose with a defiant condemnation of Donald Trump. In the middle of performing “Bang Bang,” from their latest album Revolution Radio, the band, led by singer Billie Joe Armstrong, broke into the chant:
“No Trump! No KKK! No fascist USA!”
ABC TV executives were reportedly thrown “completely off guard.” The audience gave Green Day a standing ovation.
This is the kind of bold, truth-telling denunciation of Trump—calling out what he actually represents—that we need much more of, right now!
Watch a video clip here.
Whatever place we now live in is not the same place it was on Nov. 7. No matter how the rest of the world looked at us on Nov. 7, they will now look at us differently ...
With Trump's election, I think that the ideal of an objective, truthful journalism is dead, never to be revived. Like Nixon and Sarah Palin before him, Trump ran against the media, boomeranging off the public's contempt for the press. He ran against what he regarded as media elitism and bias, and he ran on the idea that the press disdained working-class white America. Among the many now-widening divides in the country, this is a big one, the divide between the media and working-class whites, because it creates a Wild West of information – a media ecology in which nothing can be believed except what you already believe.
With the mainstream media so delegitimized — a delegitimization for which they bear a good deal of blame, not having had the courage to take on lies and expose false equivalencies — they have very little role to play going forward in our politics. I suspect most of them will surrender to Trumpism — if they were able to normalize Trump as a candidate, they will no doubt normalize him as president. Cable news may even welcome him as a continuous entertainment and ratings booster. And in any case, like Reagan, he is bulletproof. The media cannot touch him, even if they wanted to. Presumably, there will be some courageous guerillas in the mainstream press, a kind of Resistance, who will try to fact-check him. But there will be few of them, and they will be whistling in the wind. Trump, like all dictators, is his own truth.
Read more here.
Two days after Trump’s election, Robert Ivy, the CEO and executive vice president of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), sent a memorandum to the organization's members saying, “The AIA and its 89,000 members are committed to working with President-elect Trump to address the issues our country faces, particularly strengthening the nation’s aging infrastructure. … It is now time for all of us to work together to advance policies that help our country move forward.”
When Frederick “Fritz” Read, the founder and head of Read & Company Architects in Baltimore, saw this, he acted immediately. He sent a letter condemning Ivy’s statement and declaring his resignation from the AIA. He wrote: “The alacrity with which Robert Ivy hopped out there to promise the President-Elect that the AIA will play nice with his administration, without even a pro forma caution that what Mr. Trump has promised and threatened are deeply antithetical to the values that many of us cherish, is the final straw for me, the last bit of evidence I needed, that our only serious interest as an organization has become a craven interest in securing our piece of the action. The AIA does not represent my personal or professional interests. Please consider this my resignation from the AIA, effective immediately, and remove both my name and that of my firm from your membership records. I am appalled.”
In a subsequent email to an official of the Baltimore AIA chapter who talked about how AIA relations with the U.S. government have always been and should continue to be “neutral,” Read wrote: “Am so curious how a pledge made explicitly on behalf of all 89,000 members of open-ended and unqualified support for a climate-change-denying, xenophobic, racist, sexist, repeated bankrupt can possibly be understood as a statement of organizational neutrality. … Ours is not an honorable history of willingness to forgo enrichment simply on principle, and this statement slips all too closely to the worst of that: are we all too young or forgetful to recall that Albert Speer was one of ours?” Speer was Hitler’s chief architect who headed major projects under the Nazi regime and became Minister of Armaments and War Production during World War 2.
Under mounting criticism from architects, architecture faculty, and other architecture professionals, Ivy and other leading AIA officials were forced to apologize to the membership for their craven remarks about working with the Trump administration.
Read more about this here at Architect News online
In the November 10 issue of their online newsletter “Endangered Earth,” the Center for Biological Diversity included a statement saying, “We're only thinking about one thing right now: stopping Donald Trump from destroying the planet.” The statement goes on to say, “If President Trump carries out the disastrous promises he made while campaigning, the Environmental Protection Agency will be gutted, the Endangered Species Act will be repealed, old-growth forests will be clearcut, hard-fought global climate change agreements will be undermined, and polluters will be given free rein over our water and air.”
And the center vowed, “There's no way in hell we're letting that happen.” Read the entire statement here.
Read the Center's piece here.
Hostility to immigrants and refugees strikes particularly close to home for us as historians of the Jews. As an immigrant people, Jews have experienced the pain of discrimination and exclusion, including by this country in the dire years of the 1930s. Our reading of the past impels us to resist any attempts to place a vulnerable group in the crosshairs of nativist racism. It is our duty to come to their aid and to resist the degradation of rights that Mr. Trump's rhetoric has provoked.
However, it is not only in defense of others that we feel called to speak out. We witnessed repeated anti-Semitic expressions and insinuations during the Trump campaign. Much of this anti-Semitism was directed against journalists, either Jewish or with Jewish-sounding names. The candidate himself refused to denounce—and even retweeted--language and images that struck us as manifestly anti-Semitic. By not doing so, his campaign gave license to haters of Jews, who truck in conspiracy theories about world Jewish domination.
Read entire statement here
Issa Rae is star of the HBO series Insecure. Sunday night, January 9, on the red carpet at the Golden Globes awards in Los Angeles., she was asked what she thought of Trump. Rae said:
Every single time I see a tweet from that man, every single time I see the administration that he’s bringing in, it just gets worse and worse. And the scariest part to me is how normal it’s becoming to some people. And I think we just have to keep calling things out, it’s like nope, you’re lying, nope, that’s not true, nope, that doesn’t work that way. As long as we don’t continue to let him slide, then there might be some hope, but it’s scary.
Debra Messing, best known for her starring role in the TV comedy series Will & Grace, tweeted on December 18:
This is a regime that will strip away the rights of millions. Threaten the lives of millions. And threatens the planet. #NOFASCISTUSA
Messing is one of the signatories of the Call to Action of RefuseFascism.org. On Wednesday, January 4, when the Call appeared as a full page in the New York Times, she tweeted a photo of that Times page with the #NoFascistUSA hashtag and link to refusefascism.org.
Philip Elliot is the editor-in-chief of Into The Void, a print and digital literary magazine based in Dublin, Ireland, “dedicated to providing fantastic fiction, nonfiction, poetry and visual art from all over the world.” In a recent roundtable with several editors, the online journal The Review Review asked the question “How Will a Trump Presidency Impact Literary Magazines?” Elliot answered:
Fascism is rising. Not just in the U.S. but across Europe too. In the West we’re experiencing similar circumstances that led to its rise a century ago and now the wheel has turned again. People say to me, especially because I live in Ireland, that I’m overreacting to this; that’s it’s just more politics, everything will blow over, etc. They fail to see the bigger picture. What’s been put into motion here, catalyzed by the election but arisen from a far more complex sense of discontent and fear, is the greatest threat to our newly-progressive societies that we’ve ever seen. More than anything else, my fear is that we as artists and curators of art will allow our way of thinking to become the “It’s just politics, it will all blow over soon” attitude. I fear that because nothing terrible is going to happen right away, we will normalize this whole affair and accept it. What people forget is that Hitler began his slow climb to absolute power in 1918. Bad things are coming, that’s for certain, but they will come slowly, and they will come under the guise of good. As writers, we peer under the masks of things for a living and that skill is more important now than ever. Art’s duty to criticize the bad and protect the good is infinitely more important in times of darkness. It reminds us what we can be. And it must also remind us of the terrible evil we once did. Because if we truly remembered, how could we have let this happen again? At Into the Void, we’ll be paying close attention to work that criticizes the actions of our supposed leaders in the months and years to come.
Elliot’s comments and others can be found here.
When the St. Louis Art Museum announced that they were making an artwork from their collection available on loan to serve as a centerpiece of the Trump inauguration luncheon, art historian Ivy Cooper and artist Ilene Berman began an online petition calling for the cancellation of the loan. According to the petition, the 1855 painting, “Verdict of the People” by George Caleb Bingham, “depicts a small-town Missouri election, and symbolizes the democratic process in mid-19th century America.” The petition goes on to say:
We object to the painting’s use as an inaugural backdrop and an implicit endorsement of the Trump presidency and his expressed values of hatred, misogyny, racism and xenophobia. We reject the use of the painting to suggest that Trump’s election was truly the “verdict of the people,” when in fact the majority of votes—by a margin of over three million—were cast for Trump’s opponent. Finally, we consider the painting a representation of our community, and oppose its use as such at the inauguration.
Art can be used to make powerful statements. Its withdrawal can do the same. Join us in our campaign.
As of January 6, close to 2,700 people have signed the petition, which is available here.
In a January article at Gothamist.com, an article by Rebecca Fishbein titled “Celebrities, Activists Publish Anti-Fascist, Anti-Trump Ad In NY Times“ said, in part:
Rosie O’Donnell, Debra Messing, and a handful of celebrities and activists have joined forces with RefuseFascism.org, a Cornel West and Carl Dix-helmed group dedicated to opposing the incoming Trump Administration and calling Trump’s presidency “illegitimate.”
The group took out a full page ad in the Times yesterday calling for a month long resistance effort against Trump: [facsimile of the ad is included]
Refuse Fascism is also asking for donations to help reprint the Times ad in papers across the country, as well as “to support volunteers going to D.C., to produce millions of copies of Refuse Fascism material and get them out everywhere, and to support organizers and speakers.”
It’s a noble cause, and there’s nothing wrong with celebrities speaking out. Influential people should be speaking out against Trump, and advocating activism, and fighting him at every turn....
Rafael Jesús González, poet and Professor Emeritus of Creative Writing & Literature, has taught at the University of Oregon, Western State College of Colorado, Central Washington State University, the University of Texas El Paso, and Laney College, Oakland where he founded the Mexican and Latin American Studies Dept. In a New Year’s Eve blog post, González wrote of Donald Trump:
Shall I repeat the litany of his faults—his misogyny, his racism, his homophobia, his bigotry, his profound ignorance? His analysis, his description, his judgment of anything does not go beyond stock superlatives; he knows nothing of ideas, much less policy, not an iota of science. “I am a business man,” he says proudly as if that justified all his conniving, his dishonesty, his thievery. Should we doubt it, he has his billions to prove it. So the empire now gets its own, homegrown Caligula. Sociopathic megalomaniac, he too may come to declare himself divine. True, we have been governed by criminals before (can one govern an empire and not be criminal?), but this is a case apart.
It is the cruelty I fear, the utter heartlessness in the face of suffering, the willingness, nay, the intent to cause suffering and pain. Nor compassion nor justice is a hallmark of the 1%, the Republican Party he represents and that brought him to power. (Being a Democrat is no guarantee of decency, but it seems that a decent Republican is an oxymoron.) With Republican control of Congress, the Supreme Court, and the Executive (the proposed Cabinet reads like a Hitlerian wish-list), full-fledged U. S. fascism has come, a fascism prepared to destroy the Earth itself for the sake of wealth and power. Can it be called anything but madness?
He went on to write:
Democracy once lost is very hard to restore. Our resistance must be immediate and overwhelming, our love fierce, our joy protected. Our homes, our neighborhoods, our cities must be made bulwarks of justice, of refuge. Our schools sanctuary of freedom of thought and inquiry, our churches voices for justice rooted in compassion. Much is demanded of us and great may be the sacrifice, but if we all share it, it will be much, much less. Let us then take to the streets and public places dressed in our most joyful colors, making music with our drums and flutes, dragging our pianos out our doors if we must, dancing, singing, chanting, turning all our art into protest and celebration—and make our spaces truly our own.
Read the whole piece by Rafael Jesús González, titled “Thoughts for the Last Day of the Year 2016,” available in English and Spanish here.
More than 1,100 law school professors from across the country are behind a letter sent to the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, January 2, calling for the rejection of Trump’s nomination of Jeff Sessions for attorney general. The letter says (in full):
We are 1140 faculty members from 170 different law schools in 48 states across the country. We urge you to reject the nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions for the position of Attorney General of the United States.
In 1986, the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee, in a bipartisan vote, rejected President Ronald Reagan’s nomination of then-U.S. Attorney Sessions for a federal judgeship, due to statements Sessions had made that reflected prejudice against African Americans. Nothing in Senator Sessions’ public life since 1986 has convinced us that he is a different man than the 39-year-old attorney who was deemed too racially insensitive to be a federal district court judge.
Some of us have concerns about his misguided prosecution of three civil rights activists for voter fraud in Alabama in 1985, and his consistent promotion of the myth of voter-impersonation fraud. Some of us have concerns about his support for building a wall along our country’s southern border. Some of us have concerns about his robust support for regressive drug policies that have fueled mass incarceration. Some of us have concerns about his questioning of the relationship between fossil fuels and climate change. Some of us have concerns about his repeated opposition to legislative efforts to promote the rights of women and members of the LGBTQ community. Some of us share all of these concerns.
All of us believe it is unacceptable for someone with Senator Sessions’ record to lead the Department of Justice.
The Attorney General is the top law enforcement officer in the United States, with broad jurisdiction and prosecutorial discretion, which means that, if confirmed, Jeff Sessions would be responsible for the enforcement of the nation’s civil rights, voting, immigration, environmental, employment, national security, surveillance, antitrust, and housing laws.
As law faculty who work every day to better understand the law and teach it to our students, we are convinced that Jeff Sessions will not fairly enforce our nation’s laws and promote justice and equality in the United States. We urge you to reject his nomination.
To read the statement with list of signatories go here.
When the book publisher Simon & Schuster recently signed Milo Yiannopoulos, writer for Breitbart News Network, to a $250,000 book deal for the Threshold imprint, there was immediate outrage. Breitbart is a neo-Nazi, misogynistic, white-supremacist website whose former owner, Steve Bannon, is now Trump’s chief strategist and senior counselor. As technology editor at Breitbart, Yiannopoulos promoted the vicious campaign known as “GamerGate,” a flood of viciously degrading attacks and terroristic threats against the very small number of prominent women in the video-game development community. Among the despicable things he’s written is: “...Donald Trump and the rest of the alpha males will continue to dominate the internet without feminist whining. It will be fun! Like a big fraternity...” And Yiannopoulos was banned from Twitter this summer after his followers mounted a racist harassment campaign against Black comedian/actor Leslie Jones.
After the Simon & Schuster signing of Yiannopoulos, the Chicago Review of Books tweeted:
In response to this disgusting validation of hate, we will not cover a single @simonschuster book in 2017.
A bookstore in Dublin, Ireland, tweeted that it would not be carrying any Simon & Schuster titles:
Sometimes it’s a tough call for bookshops between respecting free speech and not promoting hate speech. Sometimes not. Byebye
Writer Danielle Henderson’s memoir is scheduled for publication by Simon & Schuster next year. Henderson wrote in a series of tweets:
I’m looking at my @simonschuster contract, and unfortunately there’s no clause for “what if we decide to publish a white nationalist”
But know this: i’m well aware of what hill I am willing to die on, and my morals and values are at the top of that list.
I will happily go back to slinging coffee—I’m not afraid to stand for what I believe in, and I make a MEAN cappuccino foam
Comedian Sara Silverman tweeted:
The guy has freedom of speech but to fund him & give him a platform tells me a LOT about @simonschuster YUCK AND BOO AND GROSS
Shannon Coulter, a marketing specialist who started a campaign to boycott Ivanka Trump products, tweeted (“@Lesdoggg” is Leslie Jones’ Twitter handle):
@simonschuster are you concerned $250k book deal you gave Milo Yiannopoulos will read as condoning the racist harassment @Lesdoggg endured?
The January 2 announcement that Talladega College, a historically Black college in Alabama, would send its marching band to be part of Trump’s inauguration march was met with immediate outrage from many students and alumni. Nikky Finney, a poet whose 2011 work Head Off & Split won the National Book Award, is an alumna of Talladega and currently a chair in creative writing and Southern Studies at the University of South Carolina. Finney said of Talladega’s decision:
The news that Talladega College has forgotten its steady and proud 150 years of history, by making the decision to not stand in solidarity with other clear-eyed and courageous people, academic institutions, and organizations, protesting the inauguration of one of the most antagonistic, hatred-spewing, unrepentant racists, has simply and unequivocally broken my heart today. Historical Black colleges are duty bound to have and keep a moral center and be of great moral consciousness while also teaching its students lessons about life that they will need going forward, mainly, that just because a billionaire—who cares nothing about their 150 years of American existence—invites them to a fancy, gold-plated, dress-up party, they have the moral right and responsibility to say “no thank you,” especially when the blood, sweat, and tears and bodies, of black, brown, and native people are stuffed in the envelope alongside the RSVP.
This should have been a teachable moment for the President of Talladega College instead it has become a moment of divisiveness and shame. Bags of money and the promise of opportunity have always been waved in front of the faces and lives of struggling human beings, who have historically been relegated to the first-fired and the last-hired slots of life. It has been used to separate us before. It has now been used to separate us again.
Speaking about Trump after his election victory, Stan Van Gundy, coach of the National Basketball Association (NBA) Detroit Pistons, said in part:
We have just thrown a good part of our population under the bus, and I have problems with thinking that this is where we are as a country. It’s tough on [the team], we noticed it coming in. Everybody was a little quiet, and I thought, “Well, maybe the game the other night.” [The Pistons were badly beaten in the game that night.] And so we talked about that, but then Aron Baynes said, “I don’t think that’s why everybody’s quiet. It’s last night.”
It’s just, we have said—and my daughters, the three of them—our society has said, “No, we think you should be second-class citizens. We want you to be second-class citizens. And we embrace a guy who is openly misogynistic as our leader.” I don’t know how we get past that.
Martin Luther King said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but bends toward justice.” I would have believed in that for a long time, but not today.... What we have done to minorities... in this election is despicable. I’m having a hard time dealing with it. This isn’t your normal candidate. I don’t know even know if I have political differences with him. I don’t even know what are his politics. I don’t know, other than to build a wall and “I hate people of color, and women are to be treated as sex objects and as servants to men.” I don’t know how you get past that. I don’t know how you walk into the booth and vote for that. I understand problems with the economy. I understand all the problems with Hillary Clinton, I do. But certain things in our country should disqualify you. And the fact that millions and millions of Americans don’t think that racism and sexism disqualifies you to be our leader, in our country....
We presume to tell other countries about human-rights abuses and everything else. We better never do that again, when our leaders talk to China or anybody else about human-rights abuses. We just elected an openly, brazen misogynist leader and we should keep our mouths shut and realize that we need to be learning maybe from the rest of the world, because we don’t got anything to teach anybody...
To see a YouTube of Van Gundy’s remarks (along with another NBA coach, Gregg Popovich) go here.
Lawrence M. Krauss is a theoretical physicist and cosmologist who is Foundation Professor of the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University, and director of its Origins Project. He was one of the producers of the documentary film The Unbelievers, which promotes a scientific view of the world. An article by Krauss appeared in the December 13 issue of The New Yorker titled, “Donald Trump’s War on Science.” In this article Krauss says:
The first sign of Trump’s intention to spread lies about empirical reality, “1984”-style, was, of course, the appointment of Steve Bannon, the former executive chairman of the Breitbart News Network, as Trump’s “senior counselor and strategist.” This year, Breitbart hosted stories with titles such as “1001 Reasons Why Global Warming Is So Totally Over in 2016,” despite the fact that 2016 is now overwhelmingly on track to be the hottest year on record, beating 2015, which beat 2014, which beat 2013. Such stories do more than spread disinformation. Their purpose is the creation of an alternative reality—one in which scientific evidence is a sham—so that hyperbole and fearmongering can divide and conquer the public.
Bannon isn’t the only propagandist in the new Administration: Myron Ebell, who heads the transition team at the Environmental Protection Agency, is another. In the aughts, as a director at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, he worked to kill a cap-and-trade bill proposed by Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman; in 2012, when the conservative American Enterprise Institute held a meeting about the economics of a possible carbon tax, he asked donors to defund it. It’s possible, of course, to oppose cap-and-trade or carbon taxes in good faith—and yet, in recent years, Ebell’s work has come to center on lies about science and scientists. Today, as the leader of the Cooler Heads Coalition, an anti-climate-science group, Ebell denies the veracity and methodology of science itself. He dismisses complex computer models that have been developed by hundreds of researchers by saying that they “don’t even pass the laugh test.” If Ebell’s methods seem similar to those used by the tobacco industry to deny the adverse health effects of smoking in the nineteen-nineties, that’s because he worked as a lobbyist for the tobacco industry.
When Ebell’s appointment was announced, Jeremy Symons, of the Environmental Defense Fund, said, “I got a sick feeling in my gut.... I can’t believe we got to the point when someone who is as unqualified and intellectually dishonest as Myron Ebell has been put in a position of trust for the future of the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the climate we are going to leave our kids.” Symons was right to be apprehensive: on Wednesday, word came that Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma’s attorney general, will be named the head of the E.P.A. As Jane Mayer has written, it would be hard to find a public official in the United States who is more closely tied to the oil-and-gas industry and who has been more actively opposed to the efforts of the E.P.A. to regulate the environment. In a recent piece for National Review, Pruitt denied the veracity of climate science; he has led the effort among Republican attorneys general to work directly with the fossil-fuel industry in resisting the Clean Air Act. In 2014, a Times investigation found that letters from Pruitt’s office to the E.P.A. and other government agencies had been drafted by energy lobbyists; right now, he is involved in a twenty-eight-state lawsuit against the very agency that he has been chosen to head...
And the Trump Administration is on course to undermine science in another way: through education. Educators have various concerns about Betsy DeVos, Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education—they object to her efforts to shield charter schools from government regulation, for example—but one issue stands above the rest: DeVos is a fundamentalist Christian with a long history of opposition to science. If her faith shapes her policies—and there is evidence that it will—she could shape science education decisively for the worse, by systematically depriving young people, in an era where biotechnology will play a key economic and health role worldwide, of a proper understanding of the very basis of modern biology: evolution....
Taken singly, Trump’s appointments are alarming. But taken as a whole they can be seen as part of a larger effort to undermine the institution of science, and to deprive it of its role in the public-policy debate. Just as Steve Bannon undermines the institution of a fact-based news media, so appointments like Ebell, Pruitt, McMorris Rodgers, Walker, and DeVos advance the false perception that science is just a politicized tool of “the élites.”
...It is not only scientists who should actively fight against this dangerous trend. It is everyone who is concerned about our freedom, health, welfare, and security as a nation—and everyone who is concerned about the planetary legacy we leave for our children.
To read the whole article go here.
Some members of the Mormon church are protesting the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing at Trump’s inauguration. A petition saying “Mormon Tabernacle Choir Should NOT Perform at Trump Inauguration” has now been signed by close to 19,000 people. It says in part: “As members and friends of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we strongly urge the Church to stop this practice and especially for an incoming president who has demonstrated sexist, racist, misogynistic, and xenophobic behavior that does not align with the principles and teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” The online petition can be found here.
After Trump nominated Alabama white supremacist and Senator Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, the American Constitution Society (ACS) at Harvard Law School—one of the most prestigious law schools in the world—wrote a letter to Trump opposing the nomination and began distributing it for signatures through ACS chapters across the country. As of December 22, it was signed by 1,060 law students from many different schools.
The letter points at some of Sessions’s outrageous record:
*“As a four-term member of the U.S. Senate, former Alabama Attorney General and U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama, Senator Sessions consistently opposed laws advancing civil rights, environmental protections, reproductive rights, criminal justice, voting rights, immigration and marriage equality.”
*“During the unsuccessful confirmation hearing [for federal judgeship in 1986], witnesses testified under oath that Sessions described a white civil rights attorney as a ‘race traitor’; referred to a black attorney as ‘boy’; and called the ACLU, NAACP, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, National Council of Churches and other groups ‘un-American organizations.’”
*“During the 1986 hearing, a former colleague also testified that Sessions stated that he believed the Ku Klux Klan was okay, until he learned its members smoked marijuana.”
The letter and signatories are online here.
National Nurses United (NNU) is the largest union of registered nurses in the United States. It recently organized a national network of volunteer RNs to go to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation to meet the first aid needs of thousands who were there to stop the Dakota Access oil pipeline. On December 22, the NNU sent a letter calling on the Senate to reject Trump’s nominee for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Tom Price.
According to a NNU press release, the letter says in part: “If confirmed, it is clear that Rep. Price will pursue policies that substantially erode our nation’s health and security—eliminating health coverage, reducing access, shifting more costs to working people and their families, and throwing our most sick and vulnerable fellow Americans at the mercy of the healthcare industry.”
Price has played a major role in attempts by Republicans to undercut or repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Obama’s healthcare law (see “Tom Price, Trump’s Pick for Health and Human Services: A Slasher of Healthcare for the Poor and Women“). The NNU letter says: “Even today, four years after enactment of the Affordable Care Act, we have seen a drop in U.S. life expectancy rates for the first time in decades, millions of people who self-ration prescription medications or other critical medical treatment due to the high out-of-pocket costs, and continuing disparities in our health care system based on race, gender, age, socio-economic status, or where you live.
“While our organization repeatedly voiced concerns that the ACA did not go far enough, repealing the law, especially the expansion of Medicaid which extended health care coverage to millions of low and moderate income adults, and limits on some of the most chronicled abuses in our present insurance based system, would only exacerbate a healthcare crisis many Americans continue to experience...”
Read the NNU press release here.
On November 29, the American Medical Association (AMA), which represents about a quarter of doctors in the U.S., issued a statement saying that it “strongly supports” Trump’s nomination to head the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Tom Price, and calling on the Senate to “promptly consider and confirm” him for the position.
In response, three physicians from the University of Pennsylvania—Drs. Manik Chhabra, Navin Vij and Jane Zhu—posted a statement online opposing the Trump nominee. The statement has been signed by over 5,500 doctors as of December 16.
Their statement, “The AMA Does Not Speak for Us,” says in part:
We are practicing physicians who deliver healthcare in hospitals and clinics, in cities and rural towns; we are specialists and generalists, and we care for the poor and the rich, the young and the elderly. We see firsthand the difficulties that Americans face daily in accessing affordable, quality healthcare. We believe that in issuing this statement of support for Dr. Price, the AMA has reneged on a fundamental pledge that we as physicians have taken — to protect and advance care for our patients.
We support patient choice. But Dr. Price’s proposed policies threaten to harm our most vulnerable patients and limit their access to healthcare. We cannot support the dismantling of Medicaid, which has helped 15 million Americans gain health coverage since 2014. We oppose Dr. Price’s proposals to reduce funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, a critical mechanism by which poor children access preventative care. We wish to protect essential health benefits like treatment for opioid use disorder, prenatal care, and access to contraception.
We see benefits in market-based solutions to some of our healthcare system’s challenges. Like many others, we advocate for improvements in the way healthcare is delivered. But Dr. Price purports to care about efficiency, while opposing innovations by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid to improve value and eliminate waste in healthcare. He supports plans to privatize Medicare, a critical program which covers 44 million of our elderly patients.
The AMA’s vision statement includes “improving health outcomes” and “better health for all,” and yet by supporting Dr. Price’s candidacy — and therefore, his views — the AMA has not aligned itself with the well-being of patients.
For the complete statement and list of signatories, go here.
Merrill Miller is associate editor of TheHumanist.com and Communications Associate at the American Humanist Association. The January/February 2017 issue of the Humanist includes an article by Miller titled, “Who Will We Speak For? Humanism’s Role in Defending Human Rights and Civil Liberties.” The piece starts with the famous quote from Protestant pastor Martin Niemöller, who spent seven years in one of Hitler’s concentration camps, about how he had not spoken out when the Nazis attacked different sections of the people until there was no one left to speak for him.
Miller writes: “For many humanists and those in the progressive community at large, these past weeks have, in some ways, felt like decades. We’ve seen Hillary Clinton win the popular vote for president by an enormous margin and still lose the Electoral College to Donald Trump, who is now president-elect. We’ve seen Stephen Bannon, who fueled the fires of racism, sexism, and bigotry in his time at Breitbart News, named as a chief strategist for the Trump administration, as climate change deniers and individuals with no respect for church-state separation (Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, for one) are being nominated or considered for other top positions. We’ve heard talk of legislation that would chip away at our constitutional right to free, peaceable assembly, such as Washington State Senator Doug Ericksen’s bill to classify street protests as a form of ‘economic terrorism’...
“Humanists are in a unique position to demonstrate outrage...We must harness that capacity for outrage now—not just to defend church-state separation but to protect all of our basic human rights and civil liberties.
“We can start by directing that outrage at the notion that the government would profile and register people based on their race and religion, as the Muslim registry would do. While current discussions of this registry would focus on immigrants, Trump said during his campaign that he would require all Muslims to register, presumably including US citizens. Humanist groups should reach out to their local mosques and Islamic community centers and ask them what their community needs are and how to help...
“Now is the time for us to stand in solidarity with those who face oppression, whether they are undocumented immigrants in danger of losing their basic human dignity or women in danger of losing their hard-won reproductive rights. We must stand up for all people of color and LGBTQ individuals, who are terrified by the bigotry unleashed by Trump’s campaign and his coming presidency. We must stand up for healthcare for the elderly and for everyone in our nation or else more than 22 million people (as estimated by Vox) will be without it, even though a national, single-payer healthcare system should be considered a human right. We must stand with the labor movement to fight for economic justice for all low-wage workers, whose rights will be threatened by Republican-controlled executive, legislative, and judiciary branches of government. We must do all that we can to protect these and other vulnerable communities and individuals, because the very foundations of our democracy, our civil liberties, and our human rights are at stake. If humanists and nontheists don’t speak up for these marginalized groups while we can, there is a distinct possibility that when we’re specifically threatened, there will be no one left to speak for us.”
To read the full article go here.
Apparently Donald Trump is a fan of the famous Italian opera tenor Andrea Bocelli. When word went out that Trump had approached Bocelli to perform at his inauguration, and there were reports that Bocelli had tentatively agreed (which, if true, is utterly shameful), there was a huge uproar of protest from Bocelli’s fans. Some threatened to #BoycottBocelli if he decided to sing on January 20. Here are a few tweets, among many: “Dumped @AndreaBocelli CD’s in trash, won’t be buying tickets to Feb. Orlando concert after all. DONE with him. Will #boycottBocelli forever.” “Please accept the inauguration offer because the Klu Klux Klan makes great fans!” “Contact @AndreaBocelli's booking agent & manager to warn of #BoycottBocelli if he sings for fascist Trump.” One fan wrote on Facebook: “Mr Bocelli, please do not sing for Donald Trump. He stands for racism, misogyny, and hatred of others. Music is beautiful, sacred. Don’t let this man buy you and desecrate art, hope, and beauty.”
In the face of the outrage from so many of his fans, Bocelli announced he would not be performing at the inauguration. Trump’s people claimed that they had rescinded the invitation.
Earlier, in the summer, the widow and daughters of another famous Italian tenor, Luciano Pavarotti, asked Trump to stop using his recording of Puccini’s aria “Nessun Dorma” at his campaign events. They said that “the values of brotherhood and solidarity which Luciano Pavarotti expressed throughout the course of his artistic career are entirely incompatible with the worldview offered by the candidate Donald Trump.”
Sunshine Sachs is a PR agency that represents stars like Leonardo DiCaprio, Ben Affleck and Natalie Portman. Every year they usually hold a big holiday party, on both the East and West coasts. But this year they didn’t feel the usual “holiday cheer.” CEO Shawn Sachs said, “However I felt the morning after [Trump was elected] was nothing compared to how I felt talking to people in this office, those who felt their citizenship—in a matter of moments—was gone or had been lessened... Being the diverse workplace we are, many of us felt under assault.” So Sunshine Sachs cancelled its annual bicoastal holiday celebrations, and will donate the money that would have been spent for the lavish galas to 16 different organizations, including the ACLU, the Human Rights Campaign, the Environmental Defense Fund and Planned Parenthood. The agency sent out an email saying their decision was a gesture to “defend the values we hold dear.”
Responding to Trump saying he wants to “strengthen and expand” the nuclear capabilities of the U.S., actor George Takei tweeted on Thursday, December 22: “Trump wants to expand our nuclear arsenal. I think of my aunt and baby cousin, found burnt in a ditch in Hiroshima. These weapons must go.”
Takei and his family spent years in one of the U.S. concentration (“internment”) camps for people of Japanese descent during World War 2. In his November 18 op-ed for the Washington Post titled, “They interned my family. Don’t let them do it to Muslims,” Takei wrote:
“During World War II, the government argued that military authorities could not distinguish between alleged enemy elements and peaceful, patriotic Japanese Americans. It concluded, therefore, that all those of Japanese descent, including American citizens, should be presumed guilty and held without charge, trial or legal recourse, in many cases for years. The very same arguments echo today, on the assumption that a handful of presumed radical elements within the Muslim community necessitate draconian measures against the whole, all in the name of national security....
“Let us all be clear: ‘National security’ must never again be permitted to justify wholesale denial of constitutional rights and protections. If it is freedom and our way of life that we fight for, our first obligation is to ensure that our own government adheres to those principles. Without that, we are no better than our enemies.
“Let us also agree that ethnic or religious discrimination cannot be justified by calls for greater security....”
In a December 8 interview on CNN, Takei said that during World War 2, before they were sent to an internment camp, his family was placed on a registry of Japanese Americans and subjected to a curfew: “We were confined to our homes from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. in the morning, imprisoned in our homes at night. Then they froze our bank accounts. We were economically paralyzed. Then the soldiers came... I remember the two soldiers walking up our driveway, marching up our driveway, shiny bayonets on the rifle, stopping at the front porch and with their fists started banging on the front door and that sound resonated throughout the house....”
Takei connected that history to what is happening today: “It is an echo of what we heard from World War II coming from Trump himself. That sweeping statement characterizing all Muslims. There are more than a billion Muslims in this world. To infer they are all terrorists with that kind of sweeping statement is outrageous, in the same way that they characterized all Japanese Americans as enemy aliens.”
At the Nobel Prize ceremony in Stockholm, Sweden, singer Patti Smith performed a moving tribute to Bob Dylan, the winner of this year’s laureate for literature. She chose to sing one of Dylan’s songs—“A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall,” released in 1963, a time when the civil rights movement and anti-Vietnam War protests were a sign of the times.
Check out the performance here:
The final stanza, especially, resonates very powerfully today:
“And what’ll you do now, my blue-eyed son?
And what’ll you do now, my darling young one?
I’m a-goin’ back out ’fore the rain starts a-fallin’
I’ll walk to the depths of the deepest black forest
Where the people are many and their hands are all empty
Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters
Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison
And the executioner’s face is always well hidden
Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten
Where black is the color, where none is the number
And I’ll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it
And reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it
Then I’ll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin’
But I’ll know my song well before I start singin’
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall.”
At a December 7 rally in Washington, DC, to support striking federal workers, actor Danny Glover criticized people who say Trump should be given “a chance.” Glover said, “Give him a chance what? We know who he is. We know exactly who he is. We have to accept that. But we have to fight him every inch. We have to fight him every moment.”
Time magazine had just come with their annual “Person of the Year” issue with Trump on the cover. Glover said, “It’s irresponsible to make him Person of the Year. Based on what? Based on the fact that he won the Electoral College? Based on the fact that he lied to people? Based on the fact that all the stories of all he’s done to women and what he thinks about women? Based on his racism? A racist as Person of the Year? I’m appalled, I’m appalled. I’m angry now that Time magazine would name this person Person of the Year. It’s incredible.” He said this was a “slap in our face” and “the most disrespectful thing.”
Actor and TV personality Rosie O’Donnell has been calling on people to stand up against Trump in a number of recent tweets. In response to someone who tweeted, “we need to organize an anti-Trump inauguration,” O’Donnell tweeted: “no one go – film urself – periscope STANDING keep saying ‘NOT MY PRESIDENT – LIFE – WITH MILLIONS OF OTHERS.” She also wrote “its called STAY HOME – DO NOT WATCH IT.” And she quoted from writer and journalist Norman Cousins: “There is nothing more powerful than an individual acting out of conscience.”
On November 15, IBM Corporation CEO, Ginni Rometty, published an open letter to Donald Trump, offering the tech giant’s cooperation to “advance a national agenda” and offering “ideas that I believe will help achieve the aspiration you articulated” in his Election-night acceptance speech.
The following week, Elizabeth Wood, a senior content specialist in IBM Marketing, wrote her own open letter, denouncing Rometty’s shameless offer to collaborate with the new fascist regime, and resigning from her position.
Wood’s letter said (all emphasis in original):
“Your letter offered the backing of IBM’s global workforce in support of his agenda that preys on marginalized people and threatens my well-being as a woman, a Latina and a concerned citizen. The company’s hurry to do this was a tacit endorsement of his position. ...
“The president-elect has demonstrated contempt for immigrants, veterans, people with disabilities, Black, Latinx, Jewish, Muslim and LGBTQ communities. These groups comprise a growing portion of the company you lead, Ms. Rometty. ...
“When the president-elect follows through on his repeated threats to create a public database of Muslims, what will IBM do? Your letter neglects to mention.1
Read Wood’s entire letter here.
Wood’s action inspired others at IBM to stand up. In early December, 10 current IBM employees started a petition to Rometty insisting that IBM has “a moral and business imperative to uphold the pillars of a free society by declining any projects which undermine liberty, such as surveillance tools threatening freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom from unreasonable search and seizure,” and that “history teach[es] us that accommodating those who unleash forces of aggressive nationalism, bigotry, racism, fear, and exclusion inevitably yields devastating outcomes for millions of innocents.”2 And they specifically demand that IBM execs respect the right of individual employees to “refuse participation in any U.S. contracts that violate constitutional and civil liberties.”
The petition circulated privately at first, and went public on December 19. It now has at least 500 signatories—employees, former employees, IBM stockholders and others in the tech community. The petition is available online here.
1. On December 16, after Wood’s letter was published, as well as a statement from at least 800 tech workers saying they would refuse to work on such a Muslim registry, IBM, as well as Google, Apple and Uber, all told BuzzFeed that they also would refuse. [back]
2. This history includes the fact that IBM put its precursor to the computer—the IBM punch card sorter system—at the service of Hitler’s genocide of Jewish people. In IBM and the Holocaust, Edwin Black writes: “IBM Germany, using its own staff and equipment, designed, executed, and supplied the indispensable technologic assistance Hitler's Third Reich needed to accomplish what had never been done before—the automation of human destruction. More than 2,000 such multi-machine sets were dispatched throughout Germany, and thousands more throughout German-dominated Europe. Card sorting machines were established in every major concentration camp. People were moved from place to place, systematically worked to death, and their remains cataloged with icy automation.” [back]
On January 15, writers across the U.S. and other countries are holding Writers Resist events to “focus public attention on the ideals of a free, just, and compassionate society.” The “flagship” event on that day is slated for New York City and is co-sponsored by the writers’ group PEN America. It is described on the PEN America website as a “literary protest” that will be held on the steps of the New York City Library at 5th Avenue and 42nd Street in Manhattan “to defend free expression, reject hate crimes and uphold truth in the face of lies and misinformation.”
The protest “will bring together hundreds of writers and artists and thousands of New Yorkers on the birthday of civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. American poet laureates Robert Pinsky and Rita Dove will each offer hope and inspiration with original ‘inaugural’ poems written for the occasion.”
And, “After the readings and performances, a group of PEN America leaders and any who wish to join will walk the blocks to Trump Tower together to present PEN America’s free expression pledge on the First Amendment signed by over 110,000 individuals to a member of the President-elect’s team. We are confident the reading at the library and the subsequent march, as two distinct but powerful events to uphold free expression and human rights for all, will be powerful.”
According to Writers Resist organizers, in addition to NYC, January15 events are planned for “Houston, Austin, New Orleans, Seattle, Spokane, Los Angeles, London, Zurich, Boston, Omaha, Kansas City, Jacksonville, Madison, Milwaukee, Bloomington, Baltimore, Oakland, Tallahassee, Newport, Santa Fe, Salt Lake, and Portland (Oregon AND Maine) and many other cities.”
For more on the protest and participants, go here.
An online letter by a group of women scientists against Trump’s attacks on science and on his hateful poison directed at different sections of the people has gathered over 11,000 signatures from around the world as of December 23. In an article published by Scientific American, ecologist Kelly Ramirez said that, after the Trump-Pence victory, she and a small group of scientist friends began discussing “how can we take action?” On November 17, they posted their letter with signatures of 500 women scientists.
The letter begins: “Science is foundational in a progressive society, fuels innovation, and touches the lives of every person on this planet. The anti-knowledge and anti-science sentiments expressed repeatedly during the U.S. presidential election threaten the very foundations of our society. Our work as scientists and our values as human beings are under attack. We fear that the scientific progress and momentum in tackling our biggest challenges, including staving off the worst impacts of climate change, will be severely hindered under this next U.S. administration. Our planet cannot afford to lose any time.
“In this new era of anti-science and misinformation, we as women scientists re-affirm our commitment to build a more inclusive society and scientific enterprise. We reject the hateful rhetoric that was given a voice during the U.S. presidential election and which targeted minority groups, women, LGBTQIA [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual], immigrants, and people with disabilities, and attempted to discredit the role of science in our society. Many of us feel personally threatened by this divisive and destructive rhetoric and have turned to each other for understanding, strength, and a path forward. We are members of racial, ethnic, and religious minority groups. We are immigrants. We are people with disabilities. We are LGBTQIA. We are scientists. We are women.”
The letter outlines a number of actions that the signers pledge to take “to increase diversity in science and other disciplines.” The complete letter (available in English, Spanish, Portuguese, German, French, Dutch, and Farsi), signatories, and other related information is available online here.
Elizabeth George is a U.S.-based writer of mystery novels set in Great Britain. She is widely known for her series of books featuring Inspector Thomas Lynley. In a recent post titled “Mea Culpa” on her website, part of a series of essays on the 2016 elections, George wrote in part: “...what I cannot forgive is the effort being made on all sides to normalize what is going on, to say ‘let’s give him a chance.’ To this I say that, for me, what’s going on is not the new normal. So far and at the time of my writing this, Donald Trump has given cabinet positions to two of his billionaire friends, has chosen a Wall Street bigwig from Goldman Sachs to head the Treasury Department, has selected a foe not only of women’s rights to choose but also of insurance supplied contraception as his head of Health and Human Services, has chosen a racist as his attorney general, has chosen a climate-change denying non-scientist to head the EPA, has chosen a woman who sank the educational system in Detroit to be the head of the Department of Education.... If at some horrible point in the future, Muslims are told that they must register, I intend to register as a Muslim and I encourage everyone else to do the same. I will not ever accept what’s going on right now in the US as the new normal.”
She closes the essay with: “Normal is actually standing for something and drawing a line in the sand across which racial hatred, religious intolerance, sexual aggression, misogyny, fascism, Nazism, white supremacy, Hitler salutes, the Ku Klux Klan, and LGBTQ persecution dare not cross.
“That’s the new normal, that’s the old normal, and that’s the only normal that I will ever accept or support.”
Read the whole piece by Elizabeth George here.
Ariel Dorfman is a Chilean-American playwright, novelist, human rights activist and an emeritus professor of literature at Duke University. In an op-ed titled “Now, America, You Know How Chileans Felt” that appeared in the New York Times on December 17, Dorfman describes how after Salvador Allende had won the presidential election in 1970, U.S. President Richard Nixon and the CIA worked to undermine the results, including the assassination of a general who stood in the way of the U.S. plans. When the U.S. was not able to block Allende’s inauguration, “American intelligence services, at Henry A. Kissinger’s behest, continued to assail our sovereignty, sabotaging our prosperity (‘make the economy scream,’ Nixon ordered) and fostering military unrest. Finally, on Sept. 11, 1973, Allende was ousted, replaced by a vicious dictatorship that lasted nearly 17 years. Years of torture, executions, disappearances and exile.”
Dorfman notes the irony of the CIA “now crying foul because its tactics have been imitated by a powerful international rival,” referring to allegations of Russian interference in U.S. elections. He writes that when Donald Trump dismisses those allegations, “he is bizarrely echoing the very responses that so many Chileans got in the early ’70s when we accused the C.I.A. of illegal intervention in our internal affairs.” And Dorman writes, “The United States cannot in good faith decry what has been done to its citizens until it is ready to face what it did so often to the equally decent citizens of other nations. And it must resolve never to engage in such imperious activities again.”
Ariel Dorfman’s piece is online here.
On December 13, a group of people who work in tech organizations and companies based in the U.S. issued a strong statement pledging “solidarity with Muslim Americans, immigrants, and all people whose lives and livelihoods are threatened by the incoming administration’s proposed data collection policies.” They said they refuse to build databases of people based on their religious beliefs and to facilitate mass deportations. Their statement was also in defiance of top execs from major tech companies like Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Tesla, and Alphabet (Google), who a day earlier met with Trump, adding to the efforts to normalize fascism.
The statement says: “We have educated ourselves on the history of threats like these, and on the roles that technology and technologists played in carrying them out. We see how IBM collaborated to digitize and streamline the Holocaust, contributing to the deaths of six million Jews and millions of others. We recall the internment of Japanese Americans during the Second World War. We recognize that mass deportations precipitated the very atrocity the word genocide was created to describe: the murder of 1.5 million Armenians in Turkey. We acknowledge that genocides are not merely a relic of the distant past—among others, Tutsi Rwandans and Bosnian Muslims have been victims in our lifetimes.
“Today we stand together to say: not on our watch, and never again.”
As of the evening of December 14 the statement has close to 800 signers. The statement and other resources are available here.
"People often compare the ascendance of Trump and his cabinet of deplorables to the rise of the Nazis—taking momentary refuge in the fact that 1933 Germany didn't have the nuclear option. Apropos of Trump's take on flag burning, one of the first things Hitler did as chancellor was to rescind freedom of speech, assembly, the press. . . Then the arrest of political opponents, the forcing of Jews to register their property, wear Stars of David. Remember those "good" Germans, who may have lamented, but went along because they could—because they still fit in to what remained normal?'
Read the entire article here
...In this bleak moment, we must inspire each other driven by a democratic soulcraft of integrity, courage, empathy and a mature sense of history – even as it seems our democracy is slipping away.
We must not turn away from the forgotten people of US foreign policy – such as Palestinians under Israeli occupation, Yemen's civilians killed by US-sponsored Saudi troops or Africans subject to expanding US military presence.
As one whose great family and people survived and thrived through slavery, Jim Crow and lynching, Trump's neofascist rhetoric and predictable authoritarian reign is just another ugly moment that calls forth the best of who we are and what we can do.
For us in these times, to even have hope is too abstract, too detached, too spectatorial. Instead we must be a hope, a participant and a force for good as we face this catastrophe.
Read entire statement here
On November 30, in the middle of a song they were performing at Palacio de los Deportes in Mexico City, the band Guns N’ Roses cut the music and brought a giant piñata of Donald Trump onstage. According to an online TIME magazine report, Axl Rose, the band’s front man, said, “Let’s bring up some people and give them a fucking stick... Express yourselves however you feel.” Fans got up on the stage and began swinging at the piñata.
On election night, while making my way through a crowd gathered outside the Fox News headquarters in Midtown Manhattan, a white man wearing a Mets cap patted my back and said through the noise: "Get ready to be deported." Rattled, I made it inside the green room and waited to go on the air.
I am an undocumented immigrant. I outed myself in a very public way in The New York Times in 2011, and since then have appeared regularly on cable news programs, especially on Fox, to humanize the very political and polarizing issue of immigration ...
What will you do when they start rounding us up?
Read entire article here
As I've headed to work in recent days to see abortion patients in my office, I have felt bereft: All the premises of my life, work, education, and future were gone. Something very profound in the meaning of the America I know has been destroyed with the election of Donald J. Trump as president ...
Under an unrestrained Donald Trump and this Republican Congress, I fear for my life, I fear for my family, and I fear for my future. I fear for my staff and my patients.
Even more, I fear for my country, and I fear for the world.
Read entire article here
In a December 1 article for the Washington Post online edition, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar calls for resistance against Trump. Writing from his viewpoint of protecting this country’s “most sacred values,” Abdul-Jabbar criticizes others and their “hide-beneath-the-bed tactic”—like Jack Rosen, president of the American Jewish Congress, who says “we should take a look-and-see approach” and Black Entertainment Television founder and Hillary Clinton supporter Bob Johnson who said African Americans should give Trump “the benefit of the doubt.” He writes that the appointments Trump has been making already show that “these people and their contra-constitutional view are a clear and present danger” and calls for civil disobedience in different forms.
See Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s article here.
After the election of Trump, Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny called to congratulate him and ask whether the annual White House celebration of St. Patrick’s Day was still on. Irish Senator Aodhan O'Riordáin, fired off this response in the Irish Seanad (Senate):
Edmund Burke once said the only way evil can prosper is for good men to do nothing. American has just elected a fascist and the best thing that good people in Ireland can do is to ring him up and ask him if they can still bring the Shamrock on St. Patrick’s Day. I’m embarrassed about what the Irish government has done I can’t believe the reaction from the government. And I don’t use the word fascist lightly. What else would you call somebody threatens to imprison his political opponents? What else would you call somebody who threatens to not allow people of a certain religious faith into their country? What would you say, or how would you describe somebody who is threatening to deport 10 million people. What would you say about somebody who says that the media is rigged, the judiciary is rigged, the political system is rigged. And then he wins the election and the best we can come out with is a call to say is it still ok to bring the shamrock...I am frightened. I am frightened for what is happening in this world and in our inability to stand up to it. I want to ask you, leader, to ask the Minister of Foreign of Affairs into this house and ask him how we are supposed to deal with this monster who has just been elected president of America because I don’t think any of us in years to come should look back on this period and say we didn’t do everything in our power to call it out for what it is.
See the whole speech below.
This Irish politician just said what many American leaders are too scared to say about Trump pic.twitter.com/Q2MeB815jz— NowThis (@nowthisnews) November 17, 2016
Andrew Sullivan is a well-known conservative writer and online commentator, currently a contributing editor to the New York magazine. We want to bring to our readers’ attention a November 9 online article by Sullivan titled “The Republic Repeals Itself.” While we have differences with Sullivan overall and with this particular article in certain dimensions, we think he makes important points that are worthy of reflection.
Read Andrew Sullivan's piece here.
Revolution #468 December 5, 2016
Let them not fool you—with Obama’s soothing and comforting talk of all of them being on the “same team” and the election being merely but an “intramural scrimmage,” some saying Trump is “softening” on his hatred and hated policies, and that he does not really intend carrying them through, and yet others saying “let’s give him a chance.” NO!
Miles Solay of revolutionary rock band Outernational reading the important statement from www.revcom.us: "In the Name of Humanity, We REFUSE To Accept a Fascist America."
Seattle, November 20: 500 people rally and march in “#DumpTheTrump #NotMyPresident” protest. Photo: Special to revcom.us
Rutgers University in New Jersey, where more than 1,000 walked for the #SanctuaryCampus protest, November 16. (Credit: Jav Mendez/Twitter)
University of Massachusetts, Amherst, November 16. (Credit: Devyn Giannetti/Twitter)
A diverse crowd of about 300 people marched from Wright Park, Tacoma, Washington, down a major avenue blocking all four lanes of traffic, November 19.
New York City, Jimmy Van Bramer, a member of the city council, led a march from Queens across the Queensboro Bridge to Trump Tower in Manhattan. Photo: Special to revcom.us
Los Angeles, November 12.
Updated December 5, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
From a reader: On Sunday, December 4, 2,000 people marched down Hollywood Blvd. and rallied at the CNN headquarters in opposition to Trump. The event attracted a cross section of middle strata people, many of them electoral progressives, "third party" Greens and democratic socialists. The event was coined "Bernie's Unity March" and "Our Political Revolution, Phase Two." Many hundreds carried the posters with the slogan “In The Name of Humanity, We REFUSE to Accept a Fascist America.” We had a plan to distribute Revolution newspaper to everyone at the event, and people were greatly appreciative as well as challenged. We got over $500 in donations for the 700 Revolution newspapers, 325 posters and 600 flyers that were distributed.
At CNN, the Revolution Club led hundreds in pledging “In the name of humanity, we REFUSE to accept a fascist America.” One of the main slogans of the march was "Love Trumps Hate, That's What Makes America Great," but that conclusion was being challenged by what the Club was exposing about “America Was NEVER Great,” the reality of the foundation of the country being genocide and slavery and America's continuing crimes. At the end of their speech, the Revolution Club clearly spelled why there was a need for revolution and that there is leadership for this revolution, concentrated in Bob Avakian.
From a reader: On December 3, the South Asian immigrant group DRUM, with 42 organizations as co-sponsors and 26 organizations as endorsers, led an action in the Sunnyside and Jackson Heights neighborhoods of Queens to demand New York City be a hate-free zone. More than 300 people came out and it was a very diverse and determined group—a large number were South Asian and Arab and Muslim immigrants. There was a significant presence of Latin American immigrants, LGBT immigrant groups, and many white people there to express their strong opposition to the attacks and demonization of immigrants, Muslims, and gay people. There were people with homemade signs like “Organize, Not Normalize” and “Here to Stay, Here to Fight” and many against hate and for sanctuary for immigrants. Our crew got out the print issue of Revolution newspaper and the statement “In the Name of Humanity, We REFUSE to Accept a Fascist America,” which was warmly received by the vast majority of the people there.
Twitter video Seattle Women’s March Against Hate, December 3
“Black Friday” protest in Seattle, November 25. Photo: Special to revcom.us
Protesters chant "the people united will never be defeated!" in Spanish pic.twitter.com/FffVYNoJNS— Emma Sapong (@EmmaSapong) November 24, 2016
March in Minneapolis, November 23.
Banner in front of the Episcopal Church of Our Saviour in Silver Springs, Maryland, that replaced the one defaced by fascists. Photo: Robert Harvey/Facebook
From a reader: On Saturday, December 3, about 5,000 people rallied and marched in a protest called Seattle Women March Against Hate. They gathered at Volunteer Park in an upscale neighborhood and from there marched to Cal Anderson Park in a student, LGBT, and youth neighborhood. The crowd was largely but not exclusively white and middle class, mostly women but also many men. One sector was older middle class women, and there were also many young women there. Overall there was a deep receptivity to the statement “In the Name of Humanity, We REFUSE to Accept a Fascist America!” Revcom.us supporters got out about 1,500 copies of the statement and 170 of the latest print issue of Revolution newspaper. This march of thousands was important, but the resistance needs to go to a whole other level to prevent the consolidation of fascism.
On “Black Friday,” the day after Thanksgiving, there were protests around the country against Trump, supporting the Standing Rock struggle against modern-day genocide of Native Americans and environmental destruction, denouncing murders by police, and opposing exploitation of minimum-wage workers. We received this snapshot from a reader on the protest in Seattle:
“November 25: Over 1,000 people marched and blocked the main streets and intersections of the downtown shopping core on Black Friday, declaring it ‘Black Lives Matter!’ Friday and chanting ‘No Trump, No KKK, No Racist USA.’ Over 1,500 copies of the statement ‘In the Name of Humanity, We REFUSE To Accept a Fascist America’ were distributed along with Revolution newspaper.
“The response of shoppers and tourists was highly polarized, with some people crossing police lines and reaching over barricades to grab the statement, while a smaller but more vocal minority angrily shouted ‘No!’ and ‘Get over it’ or got offended that others would call Trump a fascist and refuse to accept his victory.”
The night before Thanksgiving, November 23, 200 people marched through the streets of Minneapolis. They chanted, in Spanish and English, against Trump’s threats to immediately deport millions of immigrants and his whipping up of open racism, and called for cities to become sanctuaries for immigrants.
Earlier in the day, at Towson University near Baltimore, 100 students mobilized to oppose a campus rally called by Trump supporters. Among the few who showed up for the pro-Trump rally was one wearing a “Nazi-esque arm band with a T in the place of a swastika.”
On Thanksgiving Day, Portland’s Roseland Theater was the venue for two sold-out shows by the Compton rapper YG and his crew, who are on their Fuck Donald Trump tour. YG, along with Nipsey Hussle, had released a song and video titled “FDT (Fuck Donald Trump)” in the summer. According to Billboard.com, “During the evening performance, the artists didn’t water down their message, taking the opportunity in each of their sets to start ‘F—k Donald Trump’ chants. Sad Boy, perhaps best known for describing the discrimination Hispanics face in L.A. on YG’s song ‘Blacks & Browns,’ exercised his freedom of speech by having his hype man wave Mexico’s flag as a signal of pride. It felt like a direct middle finger to Trump and his stance on immigration.”
Trump has energized and emboldened fascists, racists, and reactionaries of all kinds. And people are taking this on in various ways from their viewpoints. These are some recent examples:
» Silver Springs, Maryland: In the Thanksgiving Day parade here, a number of people carried a banner saying “Silver Springs Loves and Welcomes Immigrants!” The story behind this banner involves people coming together to make a stand against Trump-inspired fascist attacks on immigrants. The Episcopal Church of Our Saviour has a congregation that is mainly made up of immigrants, from 50 different countries. A few days after the election, the church’s pastor found that a banner in Spanish that usually hangs outside the church was defaced with an ugly message saying “Trump Nation. Whites Only.” The same words were also painted on the church’s brick walls. When the pastor, Robert Harvey, was leaving the church a few days later, he found that someone had put a new banner up outside a church with a very different message—this was the banner carried in the Thanksgiving Day parade, and which received cheers from the crowds lining the parade route. The banner was the work of a middle school teacher who said that at first she was overwhelmed by “a feeling of hopelessness and impotence” after Trump’s election—but when she heard about the fascist graffiti on the church, she decided she must act and raised the money for the banner. Other people also came to the church with flowers and messages of support for immigrants.
» Burlington, North Carolina: A group that declares they are for preserving “Southern rights” announced a rally at the municipal building on Saturday, November 26. Immediately, people opposed to these reactionaries mobilized a counter-protest, including religious people speaking out against those using the Bible as justification for their poison. Rev. Holly Lux-Sullivan, an organizer of the action, said about the group promoting “Southern rights”: “The things their website says and things their founders say sound very much to me like thinly veiled racism, homophobia, xenophobia, misogyny, and so we wanted to be here to speak for love and justice for all. We are here about love and peace, and not exclusion of forgetting that part of Southern heritage was a horrific time of slavery, and we don’t want to go back to the ‘way things were.’”
» Albuquerque, New Mexico: On November 23, at a Smith’s grocery store, a woman began harassing another shopper who wore a hijab, yelling things like “You’re a terrorist, get out of here.” One witness posted on Facebook: “The entire store banded together and yelled at the Nazi to get out. Smith’s employees dragged the racist out. They later escorted the woman to her car past the screaming Nazi.”
Rally at Adam Yauch Park in Brooklyn, NY, November 20. Photo: @DanielSquadron/Twitter
» Brooklyn, NY: On November 20, hundreds of people gathered at Adam Yauch Park to make their voices heard against fascist graffiti, including swastikas and the words “Go Trump,” that had appeared in the park after the election. Adam Yauch, who died in 2012, was a founding member of the rap group the Beastie Boys. Yauch spoke out against racism, including on national TV at the MTV Music Awards in 1998 when he denounced “racism that comes from the United States toward Muslim people and towards Arabic people.” The rally included Jewish and Muslim religious leaders. According to a tweet from the Beastie Boys, the action was meant to “denounce hate and intimidation in Brooklyn and across the country.”
From a reader:
November 20—The Pasadena Doo Dah Parade is a popular farcical and flamboyant parade held in Pasadena, California, each year. Absurd and unique participants such as the Shopping Cart Drill Team, the Bastard Sons of Lee Marvin, and the Men of Leisure Synchronized Nap Team form contingents, and thousands of people line the streets to watch and have fun.
Bozeman, Montana, November 21: Hundreds march against Trump. Photo: Twitter @GSTuttle
Hundreds of Jewish protesters marching against Steve Bannon, Trump's fascist chief strategist, Philadelphia, November 22.
On Monday night, November 21, people from a number of environmental groups used a high-powered projector to project huge images and text onto the front of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) headquarters to protest Trump’s stand on climate change. Trump appointed Myron Ebell—who denies that human-caused climate change is happening, and is close to the coal industry—to head the transition at the EPA and who may be named its head. (See “Trump’s Victory—A Disaster for the Environment Requiring Massive Resistance,” at revcom.us) Messages projected onto the EPA building included “Don’t Let a Climate Denier Take Over the EPA” and could be clearly seen from the building across the street—the Trump Hotel.
As protests have continued around the country this week, one thing to note is the fact that people are taking it to the streets not only in larger cities but smaller areas as well, like Bozeman, Montana, where hundreds marched last Sunday; Providence, Rhode Island; Columbus, Ohio; Gainesville, Wilton Manors, and Palm Beach, Florida, where people marched around Trump’s estate; Newport News, Virginia; Palm Springs, California; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Charlotte, North Carolina; Springfield, Missouri; and Northampton, Massachusetts. A revcom.us reader who is helping this site cover the nationwide protests observed, “I personally believe that some of these protests in smaller towns and smaller cities, and in spread out parts of the country (like Bozeman, Montana) are ... important indicators of the moment we’re in.”
On Tuesday, November 22, the group IfNotNow, a U.S. Jewish organization that opposes Israel’s occupation of Palestine, protested outside Pennsylvania Republican Senator Pat Toomey’s office to demand that he denounce Steve Bannon, the virulently white supremacist fascist Trump chose as his chief strategist. A first year rabbinical college student, who said her grandmother was a Holocaust survivor, said: “We have seen this before, and we know the most dangerous thing we could possibly do right now is to wait it out and see what happens.” Many people carried white roses—the symbol of a group of students and professors in Germany who resisted Hitler and the Nazis.
The statement “In the Name of Humanity, We REFUSE to Accept a Fascist America” is getting out in some of these protests—and it urgently needs to spread much, much more broadly, into the hands of hundreds of thousands in the protests, through social media, and other ways. On Sunday night, November 20, there was a “#DumpTheTrump #NotMyPresident” rally and march of 500 people in Seattle. A reader wrote about an important part of this scene: “TV news coverage included a revcom.us supporter reading out the statement ‘In the Name of Humanity, We REFUSE To Accept a Fascist America’ on the mic. After she did, she then asked people to join her in making a pledge: She then ‘mic checked’ the full title of the statement. Stacks of the statement were passed into the crowd to distribute and also take back to people’s communities. About 1,000 copies total were got out during the whole event.”
As Trump and the incoming fascist regime forge ahead toward taking over the White House, protests have continued across the country—on the campuses and in the streets and with a broad range of people raising their voices in different ways.
Throughout the week of November 14, thousands of high school and college students walked out, rallied, and marched, taking the lead in protesting Trump. On Monday, more than 1,000 high school students from at least a dozen highs schools in Oakland, California, marched out of classes. At the rally downtown, an Asian student got repeated cheers when he said, “We are in protest against regressive policy, regarding religion, abortion—who is to say you can’t do what you want with your own body? We are not here just to protest Trump, we are here to protest Pence—the man who as part of the Republican Party opposes gay marriage, abortion... We are here to organize. We are here to say to the system, fuck you!"
In Silver Springs, Maryland, a suburb north of Washington, DC, 500 youths from five high schools joined together—chanting “we reject the president-elect” and blocking downtown traffic. Hundreds of students marched on the state capitol in Denver, Colorado, and on city hall in Portland, Oregon. In Los Angeles, 4,000 students from at least a dozen high schools—many expressing fear and anger that friends and relatives who are undocumented are now under even greater threat of deportation—walked out. The next day, November 15, more than 1,000 middle and high school students walked out in DC and protested outside Trump International Hotel. Among the other student protests that day, hundreds of high school and college students joined together in New York City and marched down busy 5th Avenue in cold, rainy weather. The high school walkouts continued through the week.
Anti-Trump Jewish Protesters Occupy Trump Transition HQ in Washington, DC, Shut Down Bannon in New York
On November 17, anti-Trump Jewish protesters occupied Trump’s transition headquarters in Washington, DC.
On Sunday night November 20, in New York City, hundreds of Jewish people and others, including Muslim people, staged a loud protest for hours outside a conference of the Zionist Organization of America where Trump's Senior Counselor Steve Bannon was supposed to speak. They defied repeated threats by the NYPD to arrest them. Some protesters emphasized unity with Muslims targeted by Trump. Many signs invoked the legacy of the Holocaust, Hitler's genocide against Jews and others in Nazi Germany. Mainstream news is reporting that Bannon did not show up for the event.
Oakland, CA, November 14, more than 1,000 high school students from at least a dozen highs schools marched out of classes. Photos: Special to revcom.us
Portland, Oregon, November 16, Protesters chant before approximately 100 students march through the streets. Photo: AP
Jackson, Mississippi, November 16. Students protest at Millsaps College. Photo: AP
Brown University, November 16. Hundreds of students walked out of their classrooms and activities at 3 p.m.
November 16, Yale University students to join together and declare Yale as a "Sanctuary Campus" protecting undocumented immigrant college students. Photo: Eino Sierpe
Rutgers, NJ, November 16. Hundreds of Rutgers University students block College Ave. in New Brunswick. Photo: AP
Wichita Falls, Texas, November 16. Students from Midwestern State University march in protest. Photo: AP
The high point of protests on college campuses during the week was on Wednesday, November 16, when thousands of students walked out of classes, held rallies, and marched around campuses and through city streets demanding that their schools become sanctuaries—places of protection for undocumented immigrants, LGBT people, and others who Trump has targeted for increased repression. Students were called to action via social media hashtag #SanctuaryCampus. Walkouts reportedly took place in more than 100 campuses, including NYU and Columbia in New York City; Ivy League universities like Yale, Harvard, Princeton, and Brown; Notre Dame; Stanford; University of Southern California; Oregon State University at Corvallis; University of Memphis; Rutgers in New Jersey; University of Michigan; Oberlin in Ohio; and Middlebury College in Vermont
Other marches and various kinds of protests took place in cities across the country, including demos of hundreds in smaller cities like Tacoma, Washington, and Albuquerque, New Mexico. In Seattle, 5,000 people, mainly white and middle class, held hands to create a 2.8-mile human chain around Green Lake.; One participant said, “We just want to come together and let everybody know we will protect you, we are here to fight for you. We will not stop.”
There were a number of actions where people went directly up against fascists and white supremacists. There were several such protests on Saturday, November 19. In Austin, Texas, several hundred people confronted a racist group calling themselves “White Lives Matter,” some of them armed, who were protesting a new monument recognizing contributions of Black people to the state.
In downtown Washington, DC, several hundred people protested outside the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, where the National Policy Institute, a white supremacist group, was celebrating Trump’s victory. New York City, Jimmy Van Bramer, a member of the city council, led a march from Queens across the Queensboro Bridge to Trump Tower in Manhattan—Van Bramer had received a threatening email after announcing the march, saying in part, “Rest of the people from Queens do not agree with your homosexual lifestyle, so get the fuck out of this country, you fucking traitor...Execution is the penalty for a traitor...”
And on Sunday, November 20, determined protesters opposed white supremacy and police murder in Mt. Greenwood in Chicago, in the face of a howling racist mob. (See NO to Police Murder and Lynch-Mob Threats! Standing Up to White Supremacy in Mount Greenwood.)
People with voices of influence, including in the arts and entertainment communities, have been speaking out. Fashion designer Sophie Theallet, who has designed dresses for Michelle Obama, declared publicly that she refuses to have anything to do with designing for Melania Trump, saying, “The rhetoric of racism, sexism, and xenophobia unleashed by her husband’s presidential campaign are incompatible with the shared values we live by... I encourage my fellow designers to do the same.” Singer John Legend said, “Trump is saying Hitler-level things in public... And I feel like it’s dangerous for us to be complacent.” Read other voices of conscience here.
The protests and different expressions of resistance that have been happening are significant—and need to not only continue but grow and become even more determined and broad. In the midst of this, it is very important that the revcom.us statement “In the Name of Humanity, We REFUSE To Accept a Fascist America” has been getting out and taken up by all kinds of people. (For example, see a report from the Revolution Club, Los Angeles about school walkouts in that city.) The statement needs to spread much more widely throughout society.
November 12, 2016, Dallas. Credit: @pabloaarauz
Portland, OR, November 11. Photo: AP
As part of his fascist program, Trump has vowed to build a border wall, throw out Obama’s policy of deferring deportations for some undocumented youth, and immediately deport millions of immigrants. Members of his circle have talked about instituting a “registry” of Muslims in the U.S., even making comparisons with the rounding up of 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry in the U.S. into concentration camps during World War 2. In the face of this, on Wednesday, November 16, thousands of college and university students across the U.S. walked out of classes, rallied, and marched to demand that their campuses become sanctuaries for immigrants.
Students were called to action with the social media hashtag #SanctuaryCampus, and walkouts reportedly took place in more than 100 campuses, including NYU and Columbia in New York City; Ivy League university like Yale, Harvard, and Brown; Notre Dame; Stanford; University of Southern California; Oregon State University at Corvallis; University of Memphis; Rutgers in New Jersey; University of Michigan; Oberlin in Ohio; and Middlebury College in Vermont.
A student involved in organizing the protest at NYU told the NY Post: “'We as students are walking out today because we recognize undocumented students are among the most vulnerable on our campus and so we are rallying to say that, as citizens or students with privilege, we will put our bodies on the line between them and a Trump presidency.”
At the University of Memphis, where about 100 students took part, chants included "Say it loud, say it clear, refugees are welcome here" and "No racists, no KKK, no fascist USA.” That “...no fascist USA” chant was heard on different campuses, including at Rutgers, where more than 1,000 students, teachers, and staff marched on the campus and took to the streets.
The protests on the campuses need to continue, spread, and become even more determined, as crucial part of the overall resistance against fascist America. As we said in “To ALL Revolutionaries, Students, Professors, and Others on Campuses! With the election of Trump, we confront a FASCIST America, No Less!” [link]: “Establish Trump-free and fascist-free zones! We need teach-ins and sit-ins! We need massive multifaceted resistance to the whole program represented by Trump, any acts of white supremacy and misogyny, any attacks on immigrants and Muslims, and other manifestations of fascism.”
Students took the lead in carrying forward protests against Trump for a sixth and seventh straight day. Hundreds of high school students around the country organized walkouts.
Students walked out of schools in California, Colorado, Maryland, Washington and other states. In Los Angeles, more than 1,000 students marched out of classes. Many said they have relatives and friends in the country illegally who they fear will be deported. The United Teachers Los Angeles union applauded the walkouts, saying the union "stands proudly" with the students.
In Oakland, a citywide protest drew more than 1,000 students from at least a dozen high schools. In Denver, 200 middle and high school students walked out of two charter schools to march to the state capitol. In Silver Spring, Maryland, a northern suburb of Washington, DC, youth from five high schools all walked out and marched together, 500 strong, chanting "we reject the president-elect" and blocking traffic on a busy downtown street. In Portland, Oregon, hundreds of students from at least three schools walked out and marched to City Hall.
Thousands of students from high schools all over Los Angeles walked out to protest the election of Donald Trump. In some schools, they did this in real defiance against school administrators trying to prevent students from walking out. In one school, they had a large sign in front of the school that said, “Don’t Walk Out, WALK IN.” Other schools sent home letters to parents so that the parents could stop the youth who wanted to walk out. One school in particular made an announcement that said, “Students should remain on campus where they’re safe. Ignorance can often lead to violence: please understand that the greatest way to overcome ignorance is through education.” Despite these efforts of the administrators in different schools, over 4,000 students from different high schools walked out and marched to City Hall. Read a report from the Los Angeles Revolution Club
Washington, D.C., more than 1,000 middle school and high school students staged a walkout and protested outside of Trump International Hotel, holding signs that read "Boycott Bigotry" and "Stronger Together." The demonstrations were organized by Wilson High School students.
Just outside of D.C. in Beltsville, Maryland, students walked out of High Point High School and held a sit-in, blocking major roads for more than half an hour. Students held an anti-Trump protest at Ohio State.
Hundreds of high school and college students in New York City came out in cold, rainy weather and took to the streets again, marching down 5th Avenue.
Youth, together with the Revolution Club in Los Angeles, protest Trump at CNN building in Hollywood.
Tens of thousands marched in cities from coast to coast. This day saw the largest protests since Tuesday’s election—with over 10,000 in Los Angeles and more than 10,000 in New York City. For the fifth night, in Portland, Oregon, protesters went up against the police who attacked and arrested demonstrators.
One demonstrator in Los Angeles was quoted in the press, expressing the sentiment of many in the crowd: “If you’re gay, if you’re LGBT, if you’re Muslim, if you’re Latin, if you’re special needs, if you’re female, it’s a much unsafer place now. What is happening today [protests] is going to be the normal for a while, because we’re not going to just sit back and watch our rights being taken away, our health care being taken away.”
In Cincinnati, anti-Trump demonstrators were joined by hundreds of people protesting the hung jury in the murder trial of a University of Cincinnati cop who shot and killed Sam DuBose, a Black man, in July 2015.
There were protests with thousands of people in other big cities, like Chicago, Miami, and Atlanta, as well as demonstrations of hundreds in smaller cities like Detroit; Minneapolis; Kansas City, Missouri; Olympia, Washington; Worcester, Massachusetts; Iowa City, Iowa; Dayton, Ohio; Oklahoma City; Salt Lake City; Providence, Rhode Island; and Las Vegas.
On Friday, for a fourth night in a row, thousands took to the street across the country in protests against Trump—some disrupting traffic and blocking interstate highways, some going into the early morning hours of Saturday. Cities included: New York; Los Angeles; Miami; Chicago; Portland, Oregon; Atlanta; Miami; Iowa City; Washington, DC; New Haven, Connecticut; Orlando; Boston; Asheville, North Carolina; Nashville; Columbus, Ohio; San Diego; Denver; Kansas City, Missouri; Norfolk, Virginia; Philadelphia; and Detroit
The New York Times reported that demonstrators in Atlanta rushed over a bridge to block a highway, and in front of the Georgia State Capitol, a U.S. flag was set on fire as protesters “revising Mr. Trump’s campaign slogan, chanted, ‘America was never great.’”
In Los Angeles, a protest of 3,000 people who blocked the 101 Freeway and marched through downtown went into early Saturday; and police arrested around 200 people. Thousands marched in Miami, surrounding cars and blocking both lanes of Interstate 395 and then went through downtown.
In Iowa City, hundreds of demonstrators marched through downtown and shut down Interstate 80; earlier in the day, 200 high school students walked out of class and marched through downtown. At the protest in Dallas, people dragged and kicked a Trump piñata through the streets.
Chicago, November 12. Photo: Special to revcom.us
Cincinnati, OH, November 12. Anti-Trump demonstrators were joined by hundreds of people protesting the hung jury in the murder trial of a University of Cincinnati cop who shot and killed Sam DuBose, a Black man, in July 2015. Photo: @DariceChapel
Los Angeles, November 10. Photo: twitter/@SophiaArmen
Columbus, OH, November 10. Photo: twitter/@_miabarnes
Minneapolis, November 10. Photo: twitter@bengarvin
American University, Washington DC, burning the U.S. flag. November 9. Photo: twitter/@kneeczarr
For a third night after the election, protests spread across the country in response to the Trump election. CNN reported that “Tens of thousands filled the streets in at least 25 U.S. cities overnight.” Thousands rallied in front of Trump Tower in Manhattan. Hundreds marched in Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles; there were protests in Madison and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Dallas, Houston, and Austin, Texas. Protests took place in Columbus, Ohio; Greensboro, North Carolina; Salt Lake City, Utah; Louisville, Kentucky; Indianapolis; Athens Georgia; and Tampa, Florida.
Thousands of protesters stepped into the streets in Portland, Oregon with determination, not backing down in the face of the riot police that attacked with pepper spray and rubber bullets—and going up against vilification by the media and officials for their righteous resistance.
High school students in the Bay Area, from San Francisco to the East Bay to surrounding suburbs, walked out of school in their thousands. Thousands occupied the streets of Oakland, and there were fires and clashes with police.
Protests continued in college and university campuses all over, from large schools to small—from Michigan State University to Texas State University and elsewhere. One correspondent wrote, “Two dozen students at Antelope Valley College [in southern California] organized a rally at library plaza. We chanted ‘racist sexist anti-gay Republican fascist go away” and shouted calls for people to fight in defense of immigrants, the gay and lesbian community, Muslims and women! At one point students took up the chant ‘always so full of hate, America was NEVER great.’”
According to the AP, “A Louisiana University football coach disciplined four players in response to a locker room video showing members of the team dancing and singing the lyrics of the a rap song by YG and Nipsey Hussle called FDT ‘Fuck Donald Trump’ and the video was made sometime shortly before Tuesday’s election in which Trump was elected president.”
Protesters represented a wide range of perspectives. Many of the signs and chants included defiant outrage at Trump’s attacks on immigrants (“I will not live in fear,” “Fight back, stand up,” “¡Si se puede!”). A Trump effigy was set on fire outside Los Angeles City Hall. Lady Gaga, Mark Ruffalo, and Cher were among the thousands protesting outside Trump Tower in NYC late on election night.
A correspondent in Seattle, where 5,000 people were in the streets on Tuesday night, reported: The feeling was that of the despair and shock hanging in the air being transformed into activity and brave resistance. A backdrop to this was a massive array of armed pigs in riot gear, on bicycles, on motorcycles, and in cars...”
We continue to receive reports from protests and will update this page as we hear more.
At the White House, Washington, DC 11/10 @ChuckModi1
Michigan State University protests with thousands on campus pic.twitter.com/aAe4dTSRaq— Daniel Eggerding (@DanielEggerding) November 11, 2016
Michigan State University, 11/10 @DanielEggerding
Chicago, November 10. Photo: worldcantwait.net
On the day after the election of fascist Trump as president, protests continued and spread in cities and on campuses across the U.S.
In the morning, protesters were out in front of the Massachusetts State House in Boston, and later in the day thousands of college students and youth rallied downtown and marched through the streets.
In front of the State House, Boston, 11/9:
In the evening, thousands of people took to the busy Manhattan streets in New York City. In Chicago, according to a correspondent, “Thousands of angry young protesters of all nationalities swarmed the area around Trump Tower. They marched back and forth over major streets around the Trump Tower, including taking over all six lanes of Michigan Avenue on the Magnificent Mile. At one point crowds broke through the police lines guarding Trump Tower.” The protesters then shut down Lakeshore Drive, a major multi-lane thoroughfare. People were out in the streets Oakland and San Jose, California; Tempe, Arizona; Portland, Oregon; and various other cities.
New York City (Photo Revolution/revcom.us)
Sit-in at Trump Tower, Chicago (Photo:@ShararehDrury/Twitter)
In Austin, Texas, as reported by one correspondent, “Hundreds of University of Texas students gathered on the campus Wednesday and set off on a powerful march through downtown Austin. ‘Out of your jobs and into the streets,’ ‘Hey, hey, ho, ho, Donald Trump has got to go,’ ‘Si se puede,’ and other chants rang out as protesters temporarily blocked Austin’s busy Congress Avenue bridge. Many protesters carried homemade signs, including one that read ‘America was Never Great.’”
Students from Fisk University, a historically Black school in Nashville, Tennessee, marched to the state capitol and blocked an on-ramp to a freeway. At the American University in Washington, D.C., hundreds of students protested in front of the campus center, and several U.S. flags were burned—while other pro-Trump protesters tried to stop the flag burning and shouted “USA, USA.”
Albany High School students at Sather Gate, UC Berkeley. (Photo: Special to revcom.us/Revolution)
There were walkouts at high schools in different cities, sometimes joining with college students and others. A correspondent in the San Francisco Bay Area reported, “Berkeley High School students and Albany High School students broke out of school today and marched to UC Berkeley.” In Colorado Springs, known as a “military town” with a major Air Force base nearby, students from the University of Colorado campus and Palmer High School joined together to march through downtown.
Berkeley High School, 11/9:
High school walk-outs were also reported in Richmond, California; Boulder, Colorado; Phoenix, Arizona; Seattle, Washington; and Des Moines, Iowa.
High school students after walk-out in Richmond, CA, 11/9:
Des Moines, Iowa (Photo:@WHOhd)
On college campuses and in cities around the country, furious, defiant protesters took to the streets expressing outrage and resistance in immediate response to the Trump election. And outrage took expression in the Twitter feed: #notmypresident.
As Donald Trump took the stage to deliver his presidential acceptance speech early Wednesday morning, protesters took to the streets of Manhattan. Other street protests broke out in Oakland, Portland, and downtown Los Angeles. Protesters outside the White House chanted "Fuck Donald Trump!"
In Berkeley, a correspondent reports: As the election returns were coming in, at least 5,000 UC Berkeley students gathered to watch, before a giant screen set up in the center of the campus. As it became clear Trump was winning, revolutionaries marched through the crowd, “1,2,3,4, slavery genocide and war, 5,6,7,8, America was never great!” “It’s time, to get organized, for an actual revolution!” rang through the crowd, getting out flyers with the memes “People say ‘don’t you have to accept Majority Rule?’ The majority for a long time in the US favored slavery. Should people have confined themselves to ‘working within the system?’ HELL NO.” After Clinton’s campaign announced she would make a statement in the morning, and the giant screen was shut down, hundreds started marching off the campus, to the streets, towards Oakland—chanting “not our president”, and “Fuck Donald Trump.” Protesters stormed onto a freeway and shut it down.
Protests broke out at other University of California campuses, including Santa Cruz, Davis, and San Diego. Hundreds rallied at San Francisco State.
A thousand UCLA students took to the streets:
At the University of Oregon campus in Eugene, hundreds of University of Oregon students marched and gathered in an anti-Trump protest in response to the presidential election results. Students rallied on campus and spoke out against Trump.
Social media has reports of protests at other schools coast-to-coast including Columbia in NYC, Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles, and the University of Pittsburg.
Send reports to: email@example.com.
Revolution #468 December 5, 2016
December 5, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Excerpt from: REVOLUTION AND RELIGION: The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion; A Dialogue Between CORNEL WEST & BOB AVAKIAN
Cell phone video of murder of Walter Scott.
An American court has refused to convict the racist pig who murdered Walter Scott in South Carolina. Walter Scott was an unarmed Black man. He was running from Michael Slager when he was shot, repeatedly, in the back and murdered in North Charleston, South Carolina, last April. The murder was captured on video. The world saw it.
Police who murder Black, Brown or Native American people are almost never arrested, and almost never go to trial. The fact that the jury could not reach a just verdict of murder in this case–what should’ve been an open-and-shut case–is a damning indictment of this WHOLE SYSTEM, including its IN-justice system.
This outrage—and so many other instances of cops murdering people and getting away with it—raises the question of whether there is ANYthing a pig enforcer of this system can do to a Black human being for which the cop would be punished, even with the evidence right out there for all to see.
What this shows is that when the pigs brutalize, terrorize, and murder Black and Brown people, they are doing their job for this system. THIS CANNOT GO DOWN! All who stand for justice must refuse to accept this, and demand an immediate retrial and conviction of Slager. And THIS CANNOT GO ON. The fight for justice must be linked to building a movement, NOW, organizing to overthrow this whole system.
Go here for background.
Revolution #468 December 5, 2016
December 6, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Trump is a walking embodiment of rape culture—crude degradation, vindictive revenge, and sexual violence against women.
Pence is a Christian fascist—no abortion, no birth control, no sex before marriage. He wants to protect anti-LGBT bigotry and views women as property of men.
A contradiction? Not at all. Both see women as property of men. One sees them as sex objects to be used, abused, and discarded. The other sees them as breeders and life-long servants of men. In fact, women are NEITHER.
Women are FULL HUMAN BEINGS. And we must fight with every fiber of our being for them to be treated as such.
Break the Chains!
Unleash the Fury of Women as a Mighty Force for Revolution!
Revolution #468 December 5, 2016
Update from Standing Rock, December 6:
December 6, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Procession through the Oceti Sakowin camp after it was announced that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers won't grant easement for the Dakota Access oil pipeline, December 4, 2016. (AP photo)
Monday, December 5 was the day both the federal government and North Dakota authorities had threatened to evict thousands of protesters from the Oceti Sakowin camp, just outside the Standing Rock Sioux reservation. Native people and supporters have been camped there since September, resisting attempts by Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) to complete the $4 billion Dakota Access Oil Pipeline (DAPL). DAPL endangers the water supply of the Standing Rock Sioux, violates their treaty rights, and if completed will be a major contributor to global climate change.
By Monday, in response to the threats, the camp had grown—to 10,000 or so people. There are people who have been at Standing Rock for weeks, or months. There are representatives of hundreds of Native tribes. There are people from all walks of life and perspectives.
Over the weekend, hundreds of U.S. military veterans mobilized by Veterans Stand with Standing Rock had joined the camp and declared they will form an unarmed human shield to protect the people from the violence of the authorities. In a ceremony with tribal representatives, Wesley Clark Jr., one of the leaders of the veterans’ mobilization, said:
“Many of us, me particularly, are from the units that have hurt you over the many years. We came. We fought you. We took your land. We signed treaties that we broke. We stole minerals from your sacred hills. We blasted the faces of our presidents onto your sacred mountain. Then we took still more land and then we took your children and then we tried to make your language and we tried to eliminate your language that God gave you, and the Creator gave you. We didn’t respect you, we polluted your Earth, we’ve hurt you in so many ways but we have come to say that we are sorry. We are at your service, and we beg for your forgiveness.”
The day before the threatened eviction, in a dramatic turn of events, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced they would “not approve an easement that would allow the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline to cross under Lake Oahe in North Dakota.” Lake Oahe is a Corps of Engineers reservoir on the Missouri River, and that decision effectively blocked, for now, the completion of the pipeline on its current route.
During the day, people at Standing Rock celebrated, but they and their supporters immediately raised concerns about what the ruling actually meant. The announcement includes language that might provide a pathway for approving the pipeline (see “Resistance at Standing Rock Forces Gov't to Back Down for Now... The Struggle Continues”).
On Monday, Energy Transfer Partners arrogantly denounced the Army Corps of Engineers' decision. Their statement declared they are “fully committed to ensuring that this vital project is brought to completion and fully expect to complete construction of the pipeline without any additional rerouting in and around Lake Oahe. Nothing this Administration has done today changes that in any way.”
News reports indicate ETP is expecting the incoming Trump regime—which is headed by and led by rabid climate change deniers including Steve Bannon and Trump himself—will find a way to reverse the Army Corps of Engineers' ruling. On Monday, Jason Miller, Trump's communications director, said, “We support construction [of the pipelines and] we’ll review the full situation when we’re in the White House and make the appropriate determination at that time.”
People in the camp are discussing and debating how to respond. A 65-year-old woman in the camp from Connecticut told her hometown newspaper, “Come January we have a [expletive] coming into the presidency who is very likely to turn this around.” And, "I can't absolutely verify but I am willing to bet that many of the people living at camp do not have the intention of packing up and going home."
Revolution correspondents at Standing Rock report similar sentiments. A young woman from Oakland, who just arrived on December 4, told them, “I am planning on staying for at least two weeks. This announcement is just a ploy. They aren't going to stop.” A woman from Germany, who has been travelling back and forth from her home to Standing Rock for over a month, said, “This isn't over. We aren't going anywhere.” And a youth who was brutalized by police on November 20, said, “This (announcement) doesn't change anything. We're staying.” And our correspondents report there is significant sentiment among many of the frontline fighters that they do not plan on leaving until they see the pipeline dug up out of the ground.
As we wrote on Sunday, “The eyes of the whole world will continue to be watching in the next days, and months, to see what the people of this country are going to do. The U.S. government has broken every treaty it has ever made, and the only promise they ever kept was that they promised to take the land of the Native peoples and they took it. At the same time, the fact that the Army Corps of Engineers decided to back off for now, and everything that led up to that, DOES show the potential strength of the masses of people. And it reveals as well the vulnerability of the system to both determined struggle and to the costs this was incurring to their national AND international legitimacy.
“The risks, and stakes, remain high.”
Revolution #468 December 5, 2016
December 7, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
AntiHate Protest moving towards line to get into Richard Spencer speech
Texas A&M University has been called the “most conservative state university in the country.” It has long been noted for its “Corps of Cadets” and its reactionary traditions. So it’s significant that on Tuesday night, December 6, thousands of people turned out in College Station, Texas to protest the presence of neo-Nazi (aka “alt-right”) leader Richard Spencer on the A&M campus.
Hundreds of A&M students came out to protest with homemade placards and banners. They were joined by people who traveled from Houston, Austin, and other Texas towns and cities. They confronted police who forcibly prevented them from entering the room where Spencer was speaking.
At Kyle Field, the A&M football stadium, near the venue where Spencer spoke to a handful of people under heavy police protection, thousands of people came to an “Aggies United” event to oppose Spencer.
Many copies of the statement “In the Name of Humanity, We REFUSE to Accept a Fascist America” had circulated on campus prior to Spencer’s appearance. The fact that even at such a conservative bastion as Texas A&M University, a fascist Trumpist like Spencer encounters such vehement opposition indicates the potential and basis for resisting and DEFEATING the consolidation of the Trump regime.
Hundreds of A&M students with homemade placards and banners joined thousands of people to protest neo-Nazi (aka “alt-right”) Richard Spencer, December 6. (AP photo)
Revolution #468 December 5, 2016
December 7, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
By any conventional standards, Ben Carson is an obscene joke as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Less than a month ago, Carson’s close friend Armstrong Williams said Carson felt he would “cripple the presidency” in a cabinet position, because, “Dr. Carson feels he has no government experience, he’s never run a federal agency.”
But there is a fascist method to this madness. Trump’s choice of Carson to head up HUD puts someone who wants to decimate public housing and shut down any governmental interference with segregation, and who is a Christian fundamentalist lunatic to boot, in a powerful position in the U.S. government.
Ben Carson says any attempt by the government to address housing discrimination is a “mandated social-engineering scheme.” He says the micro-thin safety net that provides poor people, inner city residents, and Black and Brown people with barely livable shelter—if that—in dangerous projects and filthy homeless shelters is too much—that it just encourages “dependency.” What do you think an appointment like this means to people for whom the existing, shitty government programs are a matter of survival?
Barack Obama mixed in acknowledgments of America’s “past sins” and programs of reform to somewhat improve living standards among masses of people generally with lectures to Black youth that fundamentally it is their own fault that they are in the situation they are in. Ben Carson does the latter without the acknowledgment that there is any legitimacy to calling out white supremacy. He promotes himself (and is promoted by all kinds of white supremacists) as living proof that Black people can make it in America. And if they can’t, insists Carson, “poverty is really more of a choice than anything else”[!]
Ben Carson channels the spirit of forces among Jewish people in Hitler’s Germany who insisted that working with Hitler was the best way for Jewish people, or at least some of them, to survive under the Nazis. They denounced poorer and more desperate sections of the Jewish population and turned them over to the Nazis (see “Should Oppressed People Join the Police to ‘Make Things Better’? It’s Been Tried Before, So Let’s See How It Worked”).
And then there’s the Christian fascist factor. Carson is a religious fundamentalist and science-basher. He says the earth was created in six days, period. And that the Big Bang theory, which at this point represents the consensus of actual scientists on the origins of the universe as we know it, is “ridiculous.” He is an evolution denier. He insists climate change—which threatens the survival of the human species—is no big deal and not driven by human activity (“there’s always going to be either cooling or warming going on”). And he demands that women be forced to bear children against their will, in the form of banning all abortion except when a woman’s life is endangered—meaning forcing even women who have been raped or victims of incest to bear children. He has said he would “love” to see Roe v. Wade overturned, clearing a path to making abortion illegal in nearly all cases.
Ben Carson is a theocrat who opposes distinctions between church and state. He said during his own campaign for president that “this is a Judeo-Christian nation.” And, “I absolutely would not agree with” allowing a Muslim to be president of the United States. Carson’s addition to the cabinet beefs up the Christian fascist factor, represented by Mike Pence and others in the fascist Trump regime. Or, as New York Times columnist Charles Blow has aptly named them, the Legion of Doom.
So what might appear to be simply the mismatch of a hapless nutcase with no qualifications to be in charge of housing and urban development... is actually a highly conscious and calculated move with the most ominous implications. And one more, very urgent, reason why the Trump Regime must be stopped in its tracks before it gets off the ground.
Revolution #468 December 5, 2016
December 7, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Anna Yocca has been sitting in jail in Tennessee for nearly a year. What is her “crime”? She is accused of having attempted a self-abortion in her own home with a coat-hanger. 32-year-old Anna Yocca was originally charged with attempted murder; then in February that charge was reduced to aggravated assault. And now, prosecutors have succeeded in charging Anna Yocca with three felony charges: aggravated assault with a weapon, attempted procurement of a miscarriage, and attempted criminal abortion.
Whether she attempted a self-abortion or not (something her lawyers contest), only a society and system with utter contempt for women would see this as a “crime”! And yet, that is precisely the kind of society we live in—with far, far worse being promised and normalized already by the president and vice president elect.
We live in a society where the right to abortion is effectively nonexistent for women in huge swaths of this country. Nearly 90 percent of counties do not have any abortion provider. In Tennessee there are just seven abortion clinics, none of which perform abortions after 16 weeks of gestation and many women have to travel more than 100 miles to find a clinic to have an abortion. With federally funded abstinence-only programs the norm in huge numbers of schools, millions and millions of young people never receive any scientific sex education or learn about contraception. A growing movement of religious fascists is fighting to make it more difficult for women to obtain contraception that would prevent an unwanted pregnancy. Fascists threaten and harass women outside almost every abortion facility across this country. And women who get abortions are shamed in most churches, in film, television, mainstream media, and the broader culture.
When a woman is driven to desperate and life-risking acts to terminate a pregnancy because all of society has conspired to prevent her from easily and freely exercising her own reproductive choices, it is this system that has committed a crime! Not the woman!
Yet, rather than recognize the risks that Anna Yocca was forced to take (if she did, indeed, attempt to terminate her own pregnancy) and offering her help and support, the woman-hating system we live under has charged her with three felonies and held her in prison!
But this is not all. If it is true, as she has been accused, that Anna Yocca had wanted to terminate her pregnancy, then the hospital (where she had gone because she was hemorrhaging) carried out a heinous, unconscionable and unforgivable crime against her. They didn’t offer her this option. Instead, two weeks later she gave birth to a 1.5 pound fetus who was immediately put on life support. So, either she wanted to have a child and all the charges are bullshit and should be dropped. Or, she didn’t want to have a child and the hospital and the state disregarded Yocca’s desires and forced her into motherhood against her will.
Rather than showing compassion towards a woman who has been mistreated by this society and needed help and support, they treated her as nothing more than a human incubator and a heartless criminal. Then they turned her over to the police and turned the child over to state custody.
This is an extremely dangerous precedent and it must be fought. Abortion access, birth control and real sex education must be drastically expanded, not further undercut. No woman should ever find herself without access to abortion services on demand and without apology. And if a woman ever does, and decides to take matters into her own hands, she should be supported—not criminalized!
Many people dismissed Donald Trump’s threat during his campaign to “punish” women who get abortions. They were oh-so-relieved and happy to hear him “walk this statement back.” But this is exactly what is already taking place in this country. And, if we do not stand up NOW and STOP the consolidation of the Trump/Pence fascist program against women—with their promise to appoint anti-abortion Supreme Court “justices” and other grotesque and open misogyny, along with their vicious attacks on many other oppressed people—Anna Yocca’s horrific experience will be the future we bestow upon many, many more young women and girls and future generations. Do not sit back and let this happen. We must resist.
Fetuses are NOT babies.
Abortion is NOT murder.
Women are NOT incubators!
Abortion on Demand and Without Apology!
Break the Chains! Unleash the Fury of Women as a Mighty Force for Revolution!
Revolution #468 December 5, 2016
December 7, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
This Revolution special issue focuses on the environmental emergency that now faces humanity and Earth's ecosystems. In this issue we show:
Read the excerpt “The Peculiar History of the United States: Slavery, “States’ Rights” and the Federal Government” from Birds Cannot Give Birth to Crocodiles, But Humanity Can Soar Beyond the Horizon Part I, by Bob Avakian.
Read the work online at revcom.us here.
Click here to order the e-book today through the publisher, Insight Press.
Scott Pruitt is Donald Trump’s nominee for head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). As Attorney General of Oklahoma, Pruitt has been a rabid attack dog for the fossil fuel industry. He fought even the very limited steps the Obama administration took to try to contain global climate change. He has fought clean air and water rules that have been in effect for decades. Pruitt, and the Trump regime, represent an extreme escalation of the danger humanity faces.
Scott Pruitt is a climate change denier. He would head the EPA for a president who belligerently, and with no scientific backing at all, declares climate change a hoax. Pruitt is obsessed with shredding obstacles to fracking. In Oklahoma, that has led to serious environmental disaster already. In a state where significant earthquakes were uncommon, fracking has led to a situation where one Native American Indian reservation suffered 816 earthquakes in one year. He was point man in fighting to extend the dangerous Keystone XL pipeline. He is a cheerleader for coal mining. His record as attorney general in Oklahoma was one of literally transcribing lying propaganda from oil industry lobbyists and submitting it on official government letterhead to federal agencies (See “Scott Pruitt, Donald Trump’s choice to lead the EPA, is a literal stenographer for the oil and gas industry,” New York Daily News December 7, 2016).
Pruitt will join the Christian-fascist faction of the Trump regime. As Oklahoma attorney general, Pruitt fought for the “right” of public school administrators to distribute Bibles to students in classrooms.
There are other Christian fascist, climate-denying, officials who function as full-time mouthpieces for the energy industry. It would have been an obscene insult to appoint any of them to head the EPA. But Pruitt combines an obsession with energy production at whatever cost to the environment, with proven expertise in challenging even long-established environmental regulations. Pruitt has articulated and cohered a “movement” of fascist state officials to challenge the legality of any and all environmental protection under the principle of “states' rights.” An exploration of what is behind, and what is represented by fascists like Pruitt invoking “states' rights” is beyond the scope of this article, but readers are strongly encouraged to dig into the excerpt, “The Peculiar History of the United States: Slavery, ‘States’ Rights’ and the Federal Government,” from the work Birds Cannot Give Birth to Crocodiles, But Humanity Can Soar Beyond the Horizon, by Bob Avakian.
A regime that nominates someone like Scott Pruitt to head an agency supposedly dedicated to “environmental protection” is utterly illegitimate. This regime must be STOPPED, NOW.
Revolution #468 December 5, 2016
December 7, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On December 4, a 28-year-old white man from North Carolina walked into Comet Ping Pong, a popular pizza joint in Washington, DC, carrying an assault rifle, and opened fire. Fortunately, no one was hurt. The gunman, who was arrested, told the police that he had come to the restaurant to “self-investigate” a claim that has been spreading on Facebook and various conspiracy and neo-Nazi sites. The claim, which has come to be known as “Pizzagate,” is that Hillary Clinton and other Democrats have been running a secret child sex-trafficking ring out of the pizza restaurant. This conspiracy theory has absolutely no basis in actual fact, but it whipped up a storm of threatening messages against the restaurant—and now, an actual armed attack.
“Pizzagate” is far from an isolated phenomenon. There’s a whole huge online industry of fake “news” that garners profits through ad revenue. While this fake “news” covers all kinds of topics, during the year-long presidential campaign a lot of it swirled around supposed revelations about Hillary Clinton and the Democrats—”Pizzagate” being one example. It is true that the regular mainstream media influences people in the interests of the ruling forces in this society through slants, distortions, omissions—and at times outright lies. But fake “news” involves stories that are totally invented out of whole cloth, with zero basis in reality.
There’s an ominous convergence between the fake “news” phenomenon and the Trump-Pence fascists. Right after the gun attack on Comet Ping Pong, Michael G. Flynn, son of retired General Michael T. Flynn (Trump’s national security adviser-to-be) tweeted out, “Until #Pizzagate proven to be false, it’ll remain a story.” Michael Flynn, who served as chief of staff and book editor for his father, was trying to keep alive a lie for political purposes. Flynn’s tweet caused an uproar in the regular media, and the Trump-Pence team announced he would have no role in the presidential transition team.
But this is just damage control. The senior Flynn wasn’t involved in spreading Pizzagate per se. But he has spread other fake “news” about Clinton—like a tweet on November 2 saying “U decide—NYPD Blows New Whistle on Hillary Emails: Money Laundering, Sex Crimes w Children, etc...MUST READ!” Again, “news” with no basis in reality.
And then there’s Trump himself who, for years and up till the last months of the presidential campaign, made public accusations falsely claiming that Barack Obama was not born a U.S. citizen—and therefore that his presidency was illegitimate. Trump was effectively the head of the “birther” movement, whose real aim was to rile up the white supremacists. This is just one of a flood of lies that have come out of Trump—from calling immigrants “criminals” and “rapists” to claiming that millions “voted illegally” in the elections, and countless others.
In a recent interview, close Trump supporter and CNN commentator Scottie Nell Hughes captured the Trumpite fascists’ approach to truth: “People that say facts are facts—they’re not really facts. Everybody has a way—it’s kind of like looking at ratings, or looking at a glass of half-full water. Everybody has a way of interpreting them to be the truth, or not truth. There’s no such thing, unfortunately, anymore as facts. And so Mr. Trump’s tweet, amongst a certain crowd—a large part of the population—are truth. When he says that millions of people illegally voted, he has some—amongst him and his supporters, and people believe they have facts to back that up.”
This points to Trump’s wholesale attack on scientific epistemology. (Epistemology is the theory of how people acquire knowledge and how they know whether something is true or not.) There is an all-too-prevalent view broadly in this society that everything is a matter of “narrative”—that there is no objective truth and that there are different “truths” for each individual or groups of people. This kind of warped epistemology prevents people from scientifically looking into reality and discovering truths, and acting to transform the existing situation based on that understanding—including overcoming the brutal, oppressive system of capitalism-imperialism that humanity lives under now and getting to a whole new, liberated world through actual revolution. This unscientific approach is being “legitimized” and promoted on a whole new level with Trump.
This is extremely serious. The “truth doesn’t matter” approach is creating a fantasized universe that confirms and further whips up the fears and hatreds of the fascist social base that Trump is cohering. All this is being taken now to even more lunatic and dangerous extremes. That fascist social base—like the Nazi Brownshirts under Hitler—is and will be increasingly acting in violent ways on the basis of the shit coming from the top.
New York Times columnist Charles Blow got at something real when he wrote in a recent column: “Trump and his agents of idiocracy are now engaged in an all-out crusade to exaggerate the scope of his victory, rewrite racial history, justify their vendettas and hostilities and erase the very distinction between true and false.”
Things are heading very quickly toward the rule of this murderous “idiocracy” becoming the “new norm”—unless Trump-Pence is prevented from consolidating its fascist regime through massive society-wide resistance.
Revolution #468 December 5, 2016
December 7, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Al Gore, seen by many as a defender of the environment... the guy who made the movie An Inconvenient Truth...
This past Monday, Al Gore traded on his reputation to help legitimize the fascist regime of Trump. Gore warmly met with Trump to talk about climate change(!). Afterwards, Gore said, “It was a sincere search for areas of common ground.” Mainstream media hailed this as a sign of hope.
Common ground—with fascism?! Seeking “common ground” with fascism is criminal—period!
Just two days after this meeting, Trump named his new head of the Environmental Protection Agency—a man who, as Oklahoma’s attorney general, fought every environmental protection he could.
Al Gore, for attempting to deliver those who look to him for leadership into the hellish embrace of a fascist America, deserves and hereby receives the Grease Can Award for services in attempting to grease the skids for a fascist America.
In the name of humanity, we must stop this.
IN THE NAME OF HUMANITY, WE REFUSE TO ACCEPT A FASCIST AMERICA!
Revolution #468 December 5, 2016
December 8, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On December 3, Donald Trump had a warm phone conversation with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte. The Philippines is a deeply impoverished Asian country that was long an outright colony of the U.S. and is still thoroughly dominated and viciously exploited by America. And Duterte is a fascist bully who revels in intimidation and violence.
Duterte makes sick “jokes” like saying he wished he’d had the chance to rape a nun before she was gang raped and murdered. He ran for office as a “law-and-order/tough-on-crime” candidate who was not going to let things like rule of law, due process or civil rights get in the way of cracking down on “criminals,” and especially on “drug dealers.”
After taking office on June 30, Duterte unleashed a bloody reign of terror throughout the Philippines, and especially in the vast city slums, in the name of a “war on drugs.” Squads of cops rove through the streets, kicking down doors. They execute people on the spot, often in front of their children—and kids as young as five years old have been killed during the raids. The police then drag their victims’ bodies into the street, hanging signs on their necks saying “drug dealer.” Frequently the cops go after people who had signed up with the government to request drug treatment or had gone to the authorities and “confessed,” with the promise that this was the only way to avoid being murdered.
In just over five months, cops have officially killed 2,000 people in this terror campaign. And Duterte says, “You can expect 20,000 or 30,000 more.” That’s not all—Duterte has also unleashed vigilantes to carry out executions. They ride on motorcycles, gunning down “suspects” with complete impunity and killing thousands more.
Funeral homes are stacking bodies like firewood because the desperately poor families cannot afford to pay for the burial of their loved ones.
And over 35,000 have been arrested, filling prisons to the bursting point. Inmates sleep on the floor, side by side, head to toe, like Africans loaded into the hulls of ships during the slave trade.
According to Duterte, when he and Trump spoke on December 3, “He [Trump] was wishing me success in my campaign against the drug problem. He understood the way we are handling it and he said there is nothing wrong with protecting your country. It was very encouraging...” The Philippine government said that Trump praised Duterte’s violent crackdown as “the right way.” Trump has not released the contents of the conversation, but he and his staff have not denied what Duterte and the Philippines government have said about the talk.
We don’t have to take Duterte’s word for it. Everyone remembers that when Trump launched his presidential campaign, he straight up lied that most undocumented Mexican immigrants are “rapists” and “criminals.” And throughout his campaign, he has used the technique of seizing on a tiny number of violent offenses allegedly committed by undocumented people to brand all immigrants as “violent criminals” and whip up hatred against them.
During a recent sit-down with TIME magazine reporters, Trump at one point brought out a tabloid paper article with a screaming headline about “extremely violent” gangs in Long Island, New York, allegedly made up of undocumented people from Central America. Repeating his anti-immigrant rants, Trump said, “They’re killing and raping everybody out there. They’re illegal. And they’re finished.” A TIME reporter mentioned that what Trump said echoes the rhetoric of Duterte, “who has overseen the extrajudicial killing of thousands of alleged drug dealers and users in recent months.” Trump, according to TIME, offered “no objection to the comparison” (our emphasis).
In fact, Trump told the TIME reporters, “Well, hey, look, this is bad stuff. They slice them up, they carve their initials in the girl’s forehead, OK. What are we supposed to do? Be nice about it?” Trump’s message was unmistakable: he not only supports Duterte’s words, he’s indicating that Duterte’s practice of killing “drug-dealers” without trials should be a model for dealing with the supposed “criminal” immigrants in the U.S.
Trump is not just cozying up to a vicious mass murderer. He is telling us what his own orientation and approach will be once he holds power—towards immigrants in particular, but this will run through everything that his fascist regime does.
Trump is not joking. To refuse to take this seriously, and fail to act with tremendous courage and determination to STOP this before it is consolidated and becomes the “new reality,” is a terrible mistake which will have extremely grave consequences for humanity.
Revolution #468 December 5, 2016
by Gregory "Joey" Johnson | Posted December 8, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
(Gregory “Joey” Johnson, was the defendant in the U.S. Supreme Court case Texas v. Johnson (1989) that established flag burning as protected speech; he writes for Revcom.us and follows the Revolutionary Communist leader Bob Avakian.)
Joey Johnson with the support of the Revolution Club burned the American flag outside the Republican National Convention to protest the toxic chauvinism and reactionary ideas of all stripes surrounding Trump's nomination. Joey Johnson said, "We're standing here with the people of the world."
Today Donald Trump bellowed a new threat: “Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag – if they do, there must be consequences – perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!” Trump was apparently condemning students at Hampshire College who burnt an American flag in protest.
Let’s take a minute to let this latest outrage from “Mein Trumpf” sink in. The commander-in-chief decrees now decrees that speech found to be utterly constitutional by the Supreme Court – in the case that I fought and won there – should in fact be punished. And not just by prison, but by stripping those who exercise this right of all rights of citizenship. This smacks of the Nazi legislation – and the Nazi mentality – that made it a crime to “profane” the swastika.
This is deadly serious. It is a hint, along with so many other outrages, of the kind of fascist regime that Trump intends to impose. It is yet another reason why people cannot normalize this, but must actually undertake unprecedented resistance to prevent Trump from consolidating his regime.
Let’s take another minute to think about why people might want to burn the American flag. What took place under this flag? For one thing, the kidnapping and enslavement, for generations, of millions of people from Africa...followed by a century of Jim Crow segregation and more than 4,000 lynchings of Black people, not one of which was punished... right down to today’s “new Jim Crow” of mass incarceration and murder by police. For another, the genocide of the peoples who lived here, the Native Americans... this flag flew over the many massacres and the trails of tears carried out by the US Army for centuries and it will no doubt fly over the police and troops that will be used when and if the government carries out its threats in Standing Rock. This flag flew over the troops who massacred Vietnamese at My Lai and so many other places, and at the entrance to the torture chambers like Abu Ghraib Iraq, and is probably plastered on the drone that will next week take out a wedding party on the other side of the world.
For all those reasons and more, I burned the American flag in 1984 outside the Republican National Convention in Dallas, Texas as Ronald Reagan was being renominated for a second term. I was arrested for “desecration of a venerated object”, jailed, tried, convicted, sentenced to a year in jail and a $2,000 fine. I appealed the conviction and fought for five years to the U.S. Supreme Court. And I fought in the court of public opinion against forced patriotism. The support built outside the court, combined with the legal strategy of my lawyers (including William Kunstler) led to victory.
Today, however, I again face criminal charges for burning the American flag. This time, I burned an American flag and was arrested along with 15 other people outside the 2016 Republican National Convention as Donald Trump, fangs bared, swore he would “make America great” by hunting immigrants, further unleashing killer cops against Black and other minority people, bashing women, carrying out pogroms against Muslims and ramping up American military firepower and agression. At this protest, we were assaulted by police, illegally arrested, and now face serious criminal charges. You might be interested to know that the “complaining witnesses” were connected to Alex Jones, one of Trump’s many fascist – excuse me, “alt-right” – minions. Jones’ people bragged on Youtube of assaulting us. Yet we are the ones being charged.
I burned the flag because it’s wrong to close our eyes to the crimes this country is committing against people inside the U.S. and even more all over the world. I burned the flag because I agree with the great revolutionary leader Bob Avakian that “American lives are not more important than other people’s lives.”
What’s the best response to Trump’s threats? On an immediate level, nothing would better refute this attack on political expression than a wave of flag burnings. I would also urge you to support the fight already being carried on by myself and 15 others against utterly unconstitutional prosecution [link]. But what must be done most of all now are two things: first, to recognize the threat on so many fronts posed by Trump’s fascism and carry out unprecedented resistance to prevent him from consolidating this; and second, to question deeply why and how we got into what is so truly a nightmare situation and to actually and actively engage the question of revolution at www.revcom.us.
Revolution #468 December 5, 2016
December 8, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On December 5, at the 20th year anniversary of Democracy Now, Harry Belafonte, the legendary singer, actor and activist, commented, “In a few weeks from now, if there is a platform on which I will be privileged to stand and speak, my opening remarks will probably be something like, 'Welcome to the Fourth Reich.'”
To make very clear what he meant, he followed this up by referencing a friend who had survived the Holocaust that had been carried out by Hitler. This analogy is entirely fitting. It is incredibly important that Trump and Pence not be normalized, but called out for the extreme and unprecedented danger they represent for the people of the world.
Later, Belafonte emphasized that this is a time for unparalleled courage. He insisted that people need to have “rebel hearts” and be willing to sacrifice. He invoked the legacy of Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James Cheney, the three civil rights workers who were murdered by racists in the South in 1964. He said that those kinds of extremes will come and that the real nobility is being prepared to pay that price. He insisted that ISIS must not be the only force in the world willing to die for their beliefs, that workers and other oppressed people must also be willing to make whatever sacrifice is necessary to stop what is coming.
Belafonte made a number of other comments, most of which I am not reflecting on here and not all of which I agree with, but one other thing I want to mention is extremely important. He is now almost 90 and he drew from his long experience in the struggle to share a warning. He said it had been a mistake the way that, over the years, many people in the movements were affected by society's anti-communism. He said it had done harm, including to the struggle of Black people, to turn away from any open consideration of communism. Even if he meant this in reference to the old Communist Party, which has actually been against revolution and genuine communism for many decades, his point is still well taken. In my view, the reason to reject the old Communist Party is precisely because they were no longer remotely communist, not because communism is something bad or scary.
Noam Chomsky also weighed in on world events. On the one hand, he started out by recalling watching Hitler speak to crowds at rallies on television during Hitler's Germany when he was much younger and that watching the election results on November 8 conjured up those memories in a very disturbing way. This was very important.
However, Chomsky went on to downplay much of what makes Trump so dangerous. He explicitly said that the world as we know it might come to an end due to events that took place on November 8, but insisted that the key event wasn't the election of Trump/Pence, but the failure of an international meeting of governments about climate change in Marrakesh, Morocco. Chomsky is absolutely correct to sound the alarm about the catastrophic danger of climate change – and many more need to heed this warning. But, despite his long-demonstrated opposition to all the major pillars of Trump and Pence's program, he still seemed to be missing the qualitative and paramount danger it poses. This includes their promise to crush and criminalize all dissent (witness the threat to shred the Constitution by imprisoning and stripping flag-burners of their citizenship, for one potent example), their genocidal views towards immigrants, Muslims and Black people, their vicious hatred of women, as well as their denial of climate change and promotion of climate change deniers to key positions of authority.
Later, Chomsky was asked by Juan González how we should respond to so many “white workers” voting for Trump. First, Chomsky wrongly conceded that the white people who voted for Trump are largely workers. This is not true. Some are, but a great many aren't. Overall the median household of primary Trump voters was $72,000—a full $16,000 higher than the national median household income.
Then, he insisted that many of those who voted for Trump voted for Obama eight years ago. He said they had been sold on Obama's promise of “hope and change,” and when Obama betrayed that promise they were sold on the Con Man Trump. He insisted that, if people came up with a viable program for hope and change, we could win those same voters back over pretty easily. He insisted that we were much further along than at darker times in the past, insisting that organizing white workers in Indiana today is nothing compared to what the Freedom Riders did during the Civil Rights Movement.
This is wrong and misleading. It was not simply hope for change and an improved economic situation that drew people to Trump. The main attraction was precisely the vicious reassertion of open white supremacy and vile revenge against women, along with jingoistic America-first-ism overall.
The fact that many who voted for Trump once supported Obama does not contradict this. Part of the “sell” of Obama's campaigns and presidency was that America would finally “move beyond race.” He didn't make this promise by doing anything meaningful to address the genocidal white supremacy and oppression of Black people and others. Rather, Obama held out the promise that finally these white people could “wash their hands” of responsibility for the millions of Black people who were locked out and locked down. With a Black man as president, the vicious logic went, no Black person had any excuse for not “making it,” if they were still poor or imprisoned it was “their own damn fault.”
Many of these same white people now voted for Trump, a man whose calling card is to demonize immigrants, whip up genocidal support for killer cops, boasts about sexual assault, and hatred of Muslims. This is definitely a very dangerous escalation, but it is not a contradiction.
Yes, it is possible – and it is definitely necessary – to win many of these white people over, to break them out of this terrible shit. But not by appealing to their economic interests and leaving all this hatred, bigotry, revenge and frustrated sense of entitlement intact. Only by directly taking on and challenging the white supremacy, the hatred of women, the xenophobia and often Christian fascist foundations of their outlook can any of them be peeled away from helping to cement fascism.
In this, the analogy to the Freedom Rides is very apt. Both in terms of the monumental stakes for the future of oppressed people and in terms of the risks that must be shouldered by those who undertake this work. A powerful – though far from the only – example of this were the vitriolic and physically threatening mobs of many hundreds that amassed on multiple occasions in Mt. Greenwood, Chicago within recent weeks. These mobs, filled with off-duty police officers, firemen and other residents of a nearly all-white neighborhood, openly celebrated the police murder of Joshua Beal, a Black man, during his cousin's funeral. They shouted racist epithets at Black people, threatened to break the bones of a prominent Catholic priest, and chanted repeatedly, “Trump! Trump! Trump!” As we saw when the Revolution Club spearheaded broad protests out there, it is possible to peel away some of that fascist social base, and to begin to crack open the mentality behind it. But again, this can only be done by mobilizing growing numbers of people to fiercely and directly take on the white supremacy, patriarchy, and jingoism that coheres it.
Throughout the evening, there was a constant theme in the remarks of all the speakers and performers that we have the ability to secure a brighter future through struggle. This is an important orientation, but it can only be made real if we soberly confront the full scope of the unprecedented danger before us and if we, on that basis, rise to the challenge in ways that are even more courageous, even more determined, even more rigorous in our understanding, even more broad and widespread, even more uncompromising, and even more willing to sacrifice than even the best among us have before. It is in the spirit that I share these reflections on both the strengths and the weaknesses of the comments from these two individuals who have contributed so much over so many years.
Revolution #468 December 5, 2016
December 9, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
When the final tally is in from the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton is projected to win the popular vote by about 2.5 million votes. But Donald Trump, of course, is going to be declared the elected president if things continue on their present course.
How does Donald Trump lose the popular vote by over two million, and get elected president? The answer: the Electoral College. Each state is assigned a number of votes in the Electoral College more or less based on population. And in almost every state, all the state’s Electoral College votes go to the candidate who gets the most votes from voters.
The Electoral College is an institution set up to protect slavery.
In an article aptly titled “The Proslavery Origins of the Electoral College,” legal historian Paul Finkelman writes, “the records of the [founding Constitutional] Convention show that in fact the connection between slavery and the [Electoral] college was deliberate, and very much on the minds of many delegates, including James Madison.”1
The real impetus behind the Electoral College was to multiply the influence of slaveholders on U.S. politics. The people who wrote the U.S. Constitution aimed to create a unified, powerful state that could stand up to domination or interference by European powers, carry out genocide and theft of land from the Native peoples, and enforce exploitation in the form of capitalist wage-slavery as well as outright enslavement of Black people. And in order to forge that “more perfect union,” concessions were made to give representatives of the slave owners disproportionate influence in government. The Electoral College was a key part of that.
In the midst of debate among the “Founding Fathers” over how to elect the President, James Madison argued that “the people at large” were “the fittest” to choose the president. His proposal was consistent with a foundational cohering myth in the history and present-day reality of the United States—that this is a country founded in the interests of “We the people…”
In Communism and Jeffersonian Democracy, Bob Avakian digs deeply into how the rulers of this country have aligned significant sections of white people in the U.S. to identify with the exploitive, oppressive ruling class. And how dehumanizing and excluding Black people and Native Americans from any rights at all fits into that picture. And he shines a light on the profound implications of that for today. (Communism and Jeffersonian Democracy is available from the publisher, RCP Publications; from Revolution Books in NYC and Berkeley; and from amazon.com and other online book vendors.)
In the light of what is identified in Communism and Jeffersonian Democracy, we can see how and why the authors of the U.S. Constitution wanted to formally include some non-propertied whites in the direct election of the president.
But… having the president elected by popular vote posed “one difficulty…of a serious nature,” as James Madison put it. Madison, one of the most influential of the “Founding Fathers,” noted that the “right of suffrage was much more diffusive in the Northern than the Southern States; and the latter could have no influence in the election on the score of the Negroes.” In other words: if the president really was elected on the basis of one man, one vote, the slave states would not have sufficient say in national politics. Madison himself was a slave owner. So were just under half of the other authors of the U.S. Constitution.
The “solution” that the founders of the U.S. came up with was two-fold. First, for purposes of representation in the national government, slaves were counted as three-fifths of a person. Of course slaves were not really considered human beings. They were considered property, deprived of any rights at all, and at the total mercy of merciless slave owners. But they got counted for the purpose of figuring out how much representation slave states would have in the government. White voters in slave states were essentially given a huge number of extra electoral college votes each through this “three-fifths rule.”
And this “three-fifths rule” was applied to the Electoral College. Slave states were given votes in the Electoral College far beyond the actual number of (white, male) voters in those states. For the defining first 90 or so years of the United States, the Electoral College served to enshrine and protect the interests of slaveholders, and that was reflected in who was elected president through the Electoral College.
Even after the formal end of slavery, the Electoral College has continued to give greatly disproportionate influence to the votes of white people—in particular, white people in sparsely populated states and rural areas. This was a deciding factor in the election of Donald Trump.
The votes of 100,000 people in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin who voted for Trump counted the same as the votes of over three million people in California who voted against him.
The way the Electoral College is set up, the votes of Black people in Philadelphia, Detroit and Milwaukee literally didn’t count. Here’s how that breaks down: Voters in those cities voted overwhelmingly for Clinton (Trump got just 15 percent of the vote in Philadelphia, for example). But because those cities were in the states of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin that went for Trump by very narrow margins, all the electoral votes in those states went to Trump.
And the votes of over three million people in California (a state that is majority non-white) didn’t count either (Trump lost California by well over three million votes). That’s because anything beyond a one-vote margin in any state is discounted in the Electoral College system.
Donald Trump lost the presidential election by two and a half million people in the popular vote. But he is on his way to being declared the “winner” of the election for president, based on the Electoral College.
The Electoral College was set up to protect the interests of slave owners. The fact that it endures today, and played the deciding role in this election, reflects how deeply slavery and the continuing oppression of Black people continue to define nature of this country.
An election decided by an institution like that is illegitimate.
1. Finkelman’s article includes, from his perspective of upholding the essential nature of the U.S. Constitution, important refutation of influential and harmful liberal/populist critiques of the Electoral College, which deny or bury the central factor of slavery. He notes that “The few [widely promoted histories of the Electoral College] that notice slavery mention it only in passing, and then ignore it, perhaps because an extended investigation of slavery and the electoral college would undermine traditional political science categories.” His article is available online here. [back]