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Imam Aiyub Abdul-Baki, Justice Committee, Islamic Leadership Council of New York; Ashton Applewhite, writer and activist; Ed Asner, actor; Bill Ayers, activist educator; Dawoud Bey, artist; Paul Von Blum, African American Studies Center, UCLA*; Fr. Bob Bossie, SCJ, anti-war activist; Herb Boyd, activist, author, journalist and teacher; Karen Brooks, People’s Music Long Hill Farm The Trouble Sisters; Charles Burnett, filmmaker; Isabel Cardenas, Salvadoran-American activist; Mary Celeste Kearney, Director, Gender Studies, University of Notre Dame*; Kenneth Chamberlain, Jr., son of Kenneth Chamberlain, Sr., murdered by NYPD; Margaret Cho, comedian, actor; Kia Corthron, playwright; Chuck D, rapper, author; Joe Dante, filmmaker; Shannon Dawdy, MacArthur Fellow, Anthropologist; Carl Dix, Founding member, Revolutionary Communist Party, USA*; Tom F. Driver, Paul J. Tillich Professor of Theology and Culture Emeritus, Union Theological Seminary*; Brian Drolet, Executive Director, Deep Dish TV*; Alex Ebert, musician; Niles Eldredge, evolutionary biologist; Kurt Elling, musician; Eve Ensler, playwright; Chase Iron Eyes, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe*; Everett Iron Eyes, Sr., Water Administrator, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe*; Dorothy Fadiman, filmmaker; Joan Ferrante, Professor Emerita English, Columbia University*; Charles Gaines, visual artist; Merrill Garbus, Founding band member, tUnE-yArDs; Henry Giroux, McMaster University Chair for Scholarship in the Public Interest*; Pastor Gregg L. Greer, Freedom First International, SCLC*; David Gunn, Jr., son of slain abortion doctor, David Gunn, Sr.; David Harris, Charles Hamilton Houston Institute, Harvard University*; Lalah Hathaway, singer; Marc Lamont Hill, CNN commentator and professor, Morehouse College*; Bianca Jagger; Phyllis Jackson, Associate Professor Art History, Pomona College*, Former Black Panther; Gregory “Joey” Johnson, defendant in U.S. Supreme Court flag burning case, Texas v. Johnson 1989, Revolution Club*; Erin Aubrey Kaplan, writer and journalist; Evelyn Fox Keller, Professor Emerita of History and Philosophy of Science, MIT*; Robin D.G. Kelley, Gary B. Nash Professor of American History at UCLA*; Wayne Kramer, musician; John Landis, filmmaker; Fran Luck, Executive Producer of Joy of Resistance Multicultural Feminist Radio, WBAI*; Peter McLaren, Professor Emeritus Education, UCLA*; Julie Mehretu, artist; Vic Mensa, rapper; Debra Messing, actor; jessica Care moore, poet; Thurston Moore, singer, songwriter, guitarist of Sonic Youth; PZ Myers, evolutionary developmental biologist; Rosie O’Donnell, comedian, actor; Arturo O’Farrill, composer and musician; Outernational, band; Amado Padilla, Professor, Stanford Graduate School of Education*; Rev. John T. Pawlikowski, OSM, Ph.D, Catholic Theological Union*; Eric Perl, Chair of Philosophy, Loyola Marymount*; Michelle Phillips, musician; Jean-Pierre Protzen, Professor Emeritus Architecture, UC Berkeley*; Don Rojas, Director of Communications of the Institute of the Black World; Milton Saier, PhD, Professor of Molecular Biology UCSD*; Yusef Salaam, one of the Central Park Five; Dread Scott, visual artist; Michael Shannon, actor; Matthew Shipp, musician; Danny Simmons, visual artist; Ted Sirota, jazz musician; Judith Stacey, sociologist, New York University*; Bob Stein, Institute for the Future of the Book*; David Strathairn; Sunsara Taylor, writer, Revolution Newspaper*; Michelle Tea, poet and author; Alice Walker, author; Naomi Wallace, playwright; Judith Weiss, marine biologist, Rutgers University*; Cornel West, writer and professor; Saul Williams, poet and performer; Allen Wood, Professor Emeritus, Philosophy, Stanford*; Michael A. Wood, Jr.; Rev. Frank Wulf, United Methodist minister; Andy Zee, spokesperson, Revolution Books*; David Zeiger, filmmaker
*Affiliations are listed for identification purposes only
...and more than 6,000 others have signed the Call to Action below.
In the Name of Humanity,
We REFUSE To Accept a Fascist America!
Donald Trump, the President-elect, is assembling a regime of grave danger. Millions of people in the U.S. and around the world are filled with deep anxiety, fear, and disgust. Our anguish is right and just. Our anger must now become massive resistance – before Donald Trump is inaugurated and has the full reins of power in his hands.
Should we fail to rise with determination and daring in our millions now to stop this, the consequences for humanity will be disastrous. We, the undersigned, know in the depths of our beings, the catastrophe that will befall the people of the world should the Trump/Pence regime assume full power.
We therefore CALL FOR A MONTH OF RESISTANCE beginning on December 19th, reaching a crescendo by the January 20th 2017 Inauguration.
Our resistance must spread rapidly to every sphere and every corner of the country. Because we refuse to accept a fascist America, millions must rise up in a resistance with a deep determination such that we create a political crisis that prevents the Trump/Pence fascist regime from consolidating its hold on the governance of society.
The Presidency of Donald Trump is illegitimate.
Donald Trump did not win the popular vote. Not even close, he lost by 2.5 million votes. He won the Electoral College – an institution set up in 1787 to protect slavery. This legacy of the most brutal oppression of Black people has become the means that enabled the election of Trump and Pence.
More fundamentally, it is the fascist character of the Trump/Pence regime and what they are planning to do which renders it illegitimate and an immoral peril to the future of humanity and the earth itself.
Under the slogan “Make America Great Again,” Donald Trump has viciously attacked Mexicans and Muslims, threatening to register and deport millions, closing borders. He incites fear and hate of all who are “different” – nationalities, religions, or gender. He crudely demeans and degrades women, openly boasting about molesting them. He champions white supremacy and whips up a racist lynch-mob mentality. Trump has mocked the disabled. He is a bellicose militarist, who threatens to use nuclear weapons. He openly advocates war crimes — including torture. He vows to pack the Supreme Court with justices who will take away the right to abortion and gay rights. He denies science – calling climate change a hoax and will wreak devastation on the environment. He has attacked and threatened the press and stirred up his supporters to do the same. He has threatened to strip citizenship for constitutionally protected dissent. 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.By any definition, Donald Trump is a fascist. He has put together a regime that will carry out this program, and worse.
This is fascism and it is a very serious thing. It has direction and momentum that must be stopped before it becomes too late.
Fascism foments and relies on xenophobic nationalism, racism, misogyny, and the aggressive re-institution 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, even executes its opponents, and launches violent mob attacks on “minorities.” In Nazi Germany in the 1930s and ’40s, fascism did all these things. This is where this can go. And yes, Hitler himself could “talk graciously” when he felt it would serve his interests and lull his opponents.
In the world today, shockwaves reverberate. Over decades in the U.S. virulent movements of white supremacy and anti-immigrant hysteria have gained momentum. A narrow, intolerant, and political form of Christian fundamentalism has been brought into government and policy at all levels. The Trump/Pence cabinet and judiciary will coalesce all of this and worse at the highest level of power, with horrific consequences. No election, whether fair or fraudulent, should legitimize this. “Reaching across the aisle” only legitimizes that which is illegitimate.
If you work with fascists you normalize the road to horror. You cannot try to “wait things out.” Those who lived through Nazi Germany and sat on the sidelines, looking on as Hitler demonized, criminalized, and eventually rounded up one group after another, became shameful collaborators with monstrous crimes. Don’t Conciliate...Don’t Accommodate...Don’t Collaborate!
The Trump Regime Must and Can Be Stopped Before It Starts!
This is not wishful thinking but could be made a reality if all who hate what is represented by this fascist regime translate our outrage into massive mobilization to create the political conditions which make this possible. We are millions. Our only recourse now is to act together outside normal channels. Every faction within the established power structure must be forced to respond to what we do – creating a situation where the Trump/Pence regime is prevented from ruling.
We call on each and every one who opposes what this regime stands for, and what it will do, to take part in and actively build, this resistance and refusal. Organize. Plan. Act.
The Month of Resistance
Starting 12/19/16, it begins – the day the Electoral College meets to vote in each state: hold a press conference or a protest. Starting now, distribute this Call everywhere and on social media, host house meetings, fundraising events, concerts, and forums. Everywhere step up the resistance: walkouts from schools and work, protests against attacks and threats on Muslims, women, people of color, LGBT people – all linked to the objective of Stopping the Trump/Pence regime. The struggle must grow.
On MLK weekend, there needs to be massive demonstrations of many thousands in key cities, including Washington, DC, that grow to millions over the next week, protests that don’t stop . . . where people refuse to leave and more and more people stand up with conviction and courage demanding:
There exists today in this country a profound contradiction. Among huge numbers of people there is a deep anxiety, alienation, disgust, and anger in relation to the recent presidential election and its outcome. Like the election process itself, this is unprecedented, certainly in modern times. At the same time, however, these sentiments and the people holding them are diffuse and, to a significant extent, confused, particularly about why this has happened and what, if anything, can be done about it. After the initial outpourings of protest in the aftermath of the election, a certain resignation, accompanied by depression and fear, has begun to set in among many—consciously and deliberately fed by politicians, the media, and other institutions and representatives of the established order, along with a number of “commentators,” “pundits,” and others, who have been working to “normalize” the fascism that has prevailed through the election. Even though Trump decisively lost the popular vote, he proclaims that he has been given a “clear mandate,” and we are repeatedly told that there is no alternative but to accept what has happened through the election and just “hope” that things will not be as bad as feared, that the fascistregime that is poised to take power will not actually implement its program.
Still, it would be a very serious error to underestimate the breadth of the angst and outrage which continues to be felt among so many people in this country (as well as many others around the world) regarding what has happened through this election. It is true that the current widespread opposition to this fascist regime could end up becoming deeply disoriented, demoralized, and decimated through repression. But it is also true that the current angst and outrage could be transformed, in a very short, telescoped period of time, into resistance which reaches such massive proportions, and is characterized by such a depth of determination, that it actually creates a “crisis of rule,” and prevents the Trump/Pence fascist regime from consolidating its hold on the governance of society.
For this possibility to be real, there must be, starting now, a significant core of people that is firmly united around the orientation and determination of refusing to accept a fascist America, and is doing everything possible to give the most powerful organized expression to the mass sentiment that exists in opposition to this fascist regime—to transform this mass sentiment into massive resistance, bringing forward growing waves of people, numbering in the millions and millions, in a very short period of time, stepping outside of and going up against the “established norms” of “how things are done,” determined and daring to actually prevent this fascist regime from taking over and implementing its program. There is no “guarantee” that these efforts, even if manifested in a truly massive resistance, will succeed. But there is the possibility. And it can be said with certainty that, if such massive resistance is not built, if this fascist regime is able to consolidate its hold over society and begin implementing its program, the consequences of this, not only for people in this country but for the masses of humanity—indeed for humanity as a whole and for its future—will be nothing short of disastrous.
II. The Illegitimacy of the Trump/Pence Fascist Regime
Trump’s election itself was illegitimate and his ascension to power would be even more so, and must not be allowed.
Donald Trump did not win the popular vote. Not even close, he lost by 2.5 million votes. He won the Electoral College, which is the product and legacy of slavery. James Madison, arguably the most influential of the founders, argued that direct popular election for president would give states without a huge population of slaves too much sway, as it would bypass the “compromise” that had allowed the Southern states to count slaves as part of their population in apportioning representation in Congress. The fact that Trump was decisively defeated in the popular vote and that, moreover, Republican Party representatives and operatives have over the years, especially since the overturning of the Voting Rights Act in 2013 by the Supreme Court, systematically suppressed the votes of Black, Latino, and poor people, further highlight the illegitimacy of this election. The will of the people was NOT expressed in this election.
More fundamental is the illegitimacy of such a fascist regime. As many have noted, Hitler himself came to power through the process of elections and established legal procedures. We can see in retrospect the profound and terrible error of those who hoped it would blow over, who believed that Hitler would expose himself and fall from power on his own, who had faith that the “wise leaders” of the system would somehow intervene, or even those who confined their resistance to helping others survive until the regime would somehow fall on its own.
This is not an exaggerated comparison. Trump has made clear through his campaign and now in his appointments and behavior in its aftermath that he intends to radically attack the rights of immigrants, Muslims, Black people, women, gay and trans people, the disabled, and many others who have been historically oppressed in this society. He has made clear that he will pursue a geopolitical policy that will be very short on facts and long on aggression, threats of aggression, insane nuclear proliferation, torture and threats of torture, and continually going to the brink of war and no doubt beyond, and all while stoking the fires of xenophobia and scapegoating. He has made clear that not only has he no respect for the freedom of the press and expression, but that he intends to attack it—both through threatened legal prosecution and suppression, and through unleashing his newly empowered and extremely toxic minions.
As for academic freedom, the “watch list” is an early warning sign of what is in store. Trump and his top operatives, like Flynn, take lying to a new level, trampling on facts and even the very idea of objectivity and truth. He has already begun to seed the government with Christian fundamentalist theocrats and breathed new life into anti-Semitism. He has not only threatened to overturn Roe v. Wade and continued to hold out the threat of punishing women (and Pence’s state, Indiana, prosecuted and actually imprisoned a woman for a miscarriage during his time as governor), but—using his “bully pulpit”—Trump has created an atmosphere around women that has further empowered rape culture and already damaged the lives and chances of every woman and girl in this country. His views, policies, and appointments on the environment will seriously and qualitatively exacerbate a situation that is already heading to disaster.
He has, perhaps most egregiously of all, super-charged the notion that this is a “white man’s country,” in which the rights and existence of Black people and other people of color count for nothing, and he has put proven white supremacists—people of the ilk of Bannon and Sessions—in positions of power to use that force of the state to directly back that belief up; while he has, at the same time, given impetus to every fascist, neo-Nazi, and bigot to directly express themselves by violently going after people who are not white, male, Christian, or straight. There will not only be no checks whatsoever on the white supremacy and vile racism that permeates the police departments and prison guards of this country, the very worst within them will be given carte blanche and encouragement from the highest offices of the land—as they have already. The days of white vigilantism and, yes, lynch mobs—days that never really went away, as the terrible cases of Trayvon Martin and the Charleston massacre remind us—will now be back with a vengeance and, again, with encouragement from the highest offices of the land.
To treat such a regime as legitimate, to allow it to come to power, to do so when the historical precedents are so plentiful and fraught with lessons—this would be the height of moral and political irresponsibility. Talk of making Trump a “one-term president,” or of building for the 2018 elections, is foolishness. It discounts the damage that will be done to real people, in their billions, in the meantime. It further takes on faith that the already distorted and weighted procedures that gave Trump the presidency will still be in place—when there is nothing to suggest that Trump will not act further to cut down and cut off even those rights that do exist, and plenty to suggest that he will. Hopes in checks and balances in an era of virtually unbridled executive power and at a time when Trump himself will not only make at least one very decisive Supreme Court appointment and will be able to fill, very quickly, the 30 percent of the federal bench that now lies vacant is similarly vain.
It is the moral duty of us all to seriously confront the potential consequences of what this regime could do in power, and then to act accordingly.
III. In the Name of Humanity, We REFUSE To Accept a Fascist America!
What must happen: not just thousands, or tens of thousands, but literally millions and millions of people must be mobilized now in determined, defiant, massive political resistance and refusal to allowfascism to come to power.
NOW Is the Time To STOP This Before It Starts!
And this must be done before this regime officially takes power, isolates and crushes opposition, and moves forcefully to implement its fascist program.
The aim must be nothing less than to create such a profound political crisis before the intended inauguration (January 20, 2017) that the fascist regime is actually not able to take the reins of government.
Imagine if people, in the tens of millions, filled the streets, powerfully declaring that this regime is illegitimate and demanding that it not be allowed to rule! The whole political landscape would be dramatically transformed, every faction within the established power structure would be forced to respond—and all this could well lead to a situation in which this fascist regime is actually prevented from ruling.This is not some idle dream but something which could be made a reality if all those who hate what is represented by this fascist regime translate their outrage into firm determination and massive mobilization to create the conditions which make this possible.
For this to happen, everyone who is opposed to what this regime stands for, and what it will do, must throw themselves into taking part in, and actively building, this resistance and refusal—now, and in an ongoing way: A Month of Massive Resistance To Stop This Fascism!
This massive outpouring and uprising of millions must be built through ongoing, and increasing, acts of defiance and resistance, in every corner of society. We propose that this month officially begin with acts of resistance on December 19, the day of the Electoral College voting and extend to the inauguration. What follows are particular points and steps to do this.
We have drafted a unifying Call that we feel can rally the needed tens of millions (attached). This Call should be signed by people of moral authority—including yourself!—from every walk of life in this country and must be spread through many diverse media and channels throughout the country (and the world) as a whole, with a major impact on public opinion. We are also reaching out to graphic artists to condense the basic message here into a simple but profound graphic design that could quickly “take off” and become a mass “symbol of defiance” (this could, for example, be something as simple as the single word NO!, with a striking and easily recognizable design).We propose that this Call be mass-released going into December 19, and that the period directly after the 19th be a time in which this is spread throughout all of society, and that people take the time of the holidays to hold parties, salons, discussions, gatherings of all kinds to discuss this, and to make this a part of their holiday religious observances and celebrations.
On the basis of this unifying orientation and stand, we should reach out to all those now taking up ways to fight this regime and encourage people in all parts of society to increasingly take initiative to carry out acts of defiance and political resistance of many different kinds and on many different levels (in terms of size and scope, etc.), including such things as walkouts from schools and from jobs; protests against particular outrages against people of color, women, LGBT people, immigrants, Muslims, and other “targeted” groups; major mobilizations on the Martin Luther King holiday weekend that link this to the fight against this fascist regime; and other actions that people, all over the country, take the initiative to organize. This defiance and resistance must increasingly put its stamp on and set the terms of political debate and activityin society, in determined opposition to the forces which are carrying out, supporting, or working to “normalize” this fascism and promote capitulation to it. As part of this, we propose manifestations on New Year’s Eve itself, of many different kinds, including demonstrations at Trump properties all over, here and around the world.
We encourage people everywhere to take initiative to build organization of various kinds to promote and carry out this defiance and resistance, in line with this basic orientation and stand. Organization must be quickly built that is capable of acting as a national coordinating center to link together, around the common orientation and stand, the many diverse actions of defiance and political resistance. This must be combined with a great deal of initiative by people in local areas, and in all different spheres of society, all over the country.
We who sign this commit to reaching out to others, urgently and in a sustained way, not only putting our names and reputations on the line to help build this resistance, but also actively taking part in building it—from here forward. We should not only encourage but be part of initiating events of different kinds, including major artistic performances and presentations, and utilize every venue and means we have for reaching the people, to promote this stand and mobilize people into the ranks of the resistance.
We will need to raise huge sums of money, now and in an ongoing way, from donations big and small, to provide the financial basis that is needed for this to become a reality. Efficient, not overly bureaucratic and cumbersome, organizational means must be quickly developed and utilized to allocate and utilize these funds in the best ways in line with the goal of developing the mass resistance that is urgently needed to actually stop this fascism.
All this must be building toward a massive mobilization of millions at a key concentration point (or points) as well as in some other key areas, before the scheduled inauguration, united around the clear and firm stand: In the Name of Humanity, We Refuse To Accept a Fascist America! and This Fascist Regime Must Be Stopped Before It Starts—It Must Not Be Allowed To Take the Reins of Government!
We send this to you with open arms and open hearts. The times demand unprecedented breadth, diversity, and determination and a movement of integrity, largeness of mind, and generosity of spirit. Let us all rise to that.
Initiators include (list in formation):
Bill Ayers, activist, educator
Herb Boyd, activist, author, journalist and teacher
Isabel Cardenas, Community Consulting Services, Los Angeles; Salvadoran-American activist
Carl Dix, founding member, Revolutionary Communist Party, USA
Niles Eldredge, evolutionary biologist
Charles Gaines, visual artist
Chase Iron Eyes
Everett Iron Eyes Sr., Water Administrator, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe
Robin D. G. Kelley, Gary B. Nash Professor of American History at UCLA*
Fran Luck, Executive Producer of Joy of Resistance, Multicultural Feminist Radio at WBAI
PZ Myers, evolutionary developmental biologist
Arturo O’Farrill, composer and musician
Milton Saier,PhD, Professor of Molecular Biology, UCSD*
Yusef Salaam, one of the Central Park Five
Ted Sirota, jazz musician
Bob Stein, Institute for the Future of the Book
Sunsara Taylor, writer, Revolution Newspaper
Cornel West, writer, professor
Michael A. Wood Jr.
Rev. Frank Wulf, United Methodist minister
Andy Zee, spokesperson, Revolution Books
David Zeiger, filmmaker
Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by about 2.5 million votes. But the Electoral College decides who becomes president. And the Electoral College will—if things remain on course—make Donald Trump the next president.
What is the Electoral College? In short, it is an institution that was set up to protect slavery and one that continues today to be an instrument for enforcing white supremacy.
Whitewashed Reality Behind the Electoral College:
Set Up to Protect Slavery
December 9, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
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.
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
go to the candidate who gets the most votes from voters.
Electoral College is an institution set up to protect slavery.
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
real impetus behind the Electoral College was to multiply the
influence of slaveholders
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
“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
human beings. They were considered property,
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.”
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
The Electoral College as an Instrument Perpetuating White Supremacy
after the formal end of slavery, the Electoral College has continued
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
in the election of Donald Trump.
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.
way the Electoral College is set up, the votes of Black people in
Philadelphia, Detroit and Milwaukee literally didn’t
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
electoral votes in those states went to Trump.
the votes of over
three million people in California (a
state that is majority non-white) didn’t count either (Trump
by well over three million votes). That’s because anything
beyond a one-vote margin in any state is discounted in the Electoral
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.
Electoral College was set up to protect the interests of slave
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.
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]
Outright slavery largely ended with the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1865, immediately after the end of the Civil War. But in the years after the Civil War and the supposed equality it established, Black people were systematically denied the right to vote through all sorts of measures like poll taxes, literacy tests, and others—enforced through outright KKK terror. One result was a continued disproportionate influence, including in presidential elections, of Southern states where Black people formed a large proportion of the population but were prevented from participating in voting.
It was almost 100 years after the Civil War until the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were passed. And that happened only after massive and courageous sacrifice by Black people in the South, and other people, Black and white—especially students—from around the country. Millions were outraged when, in 1964, for example, three civil rights activists—James Earl Chaney, Michael Schwerner, and Andrew Goodman—were murdered by white racist vigilantes working closely with police while attempting to register Black people to vote in Mississippi.
To some extent, these laws restricted discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, and ended the racist voter registration requirements that prevented millions of Black people from voting.
The Impact of the Electoral College Today
To the extent the Voting Rights Act made it possible for Black people to vote, those advances have been dramatically rolled back. In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court basically stripped the Voting Rights Act of any real enforcement power (in Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder). An example of the impact: Shortly after the evisceration of the Voting Right Act, a “Voter ID” law went into effect in Alabama. It was intended to, and did, drive Black people off the voting rolls.
These Voter ID laws are based on lies that Black and Latino people vote illegally in massive numbers. Donald Trump froths at the mouth—utterly without evidence—about “millions of people who voted illegally” in the last election. In a lawsuit filed last year, the Alabama NAACP and Greater Birmingham Ministries documented that “voter fraud” claims—the transparent excuse for Voter ID laws—were totally bogus, with evidence that since the turn of the century, 22.4 million votes have been cast in Alabama with one “documented case where one Alabama voter sought to impersonate another.”
But what is true is that nationwide, 13 percent of African-Americans do not have photo IDs; five percent of white people do not have photo IDs (American National Elections Study, 2012).
The lawsuit says of the Voter ID law that “It is no accident that a disproportionate number of those disfranchised voters are African-American and Latino. Indeed, the photo ID law is simply the latest chapter in Alabama’s long and brutal history of intentional racial discrimination.” Coming before this election, the lawsuit predicted Alabama’s Voter ID law would disenfranchise more than 280,000 citizens in Alabama.
Southern states have increasingly kept Black people from voting by closing polling places. In the 2016 presidential election, in Louisiana, 61 percent of parishes (counties) reduced polling places. In a limited sample of Alabama counties, 67 percent closed polling places. In Texas, 53 percent of counties in a limited sample reduced voting locations (see “The Great Poll Closure” by the Leadership Conference Fund).
In America today, most states have laws that disenfranchise anyone convicted of a felony. Since Black people are disproportionally convicted of felonies, these laws unequally impact Black people--in fact, over two million Black people are barred from voting due to a past conviction. (One in 13 Black people has been disenfranchised in this way, the figure for white people is one in 54!)
* * *
In all these cases where Black people are prevented from voting, states maintain their allotted Electoral College votes, based on total population. And so today, as in slave days, Black people are “counted” in allotting Electoral College votes. But millions of them do not have the right to vote. And so—as was the case under slavery—the Electoral College remains an institution that serves to multiply the power of white voters in the South. Donald Trump lost the popular vote, but was elected president of the United States through an institution founded to protect slavery, and that today still serves to protect white supremacy. That’s not a legitimate election, and he’s not a legitimate president.
If Donald Trump is allowed to take office he will put in place a cabal of
Christian fundamentalist theocrats...
War criminals who have signed on to torture and murder innocent children...
Ghoulish enemies of public education, housing, and the environment...
Christian fundamentalists who want to force women into roles that would be a flip image of what women are subjected to under Islamic fundamentalist regimes...
And his chief strategist and senior counselor who brags about providing a platform for neo-Nazis.
Mike Pence would be Vice President. Pence says “I long to see the day that Roe v. Wade is consigned to the ash heap of history where it belongs and we again embrace a culture of life in America.” That “culture of life” was a nightmare for women who wanted or needed to terminate a pregnancy and ended up dead or were forced to foreclose their lives to bear children against their will. Pence was added to the Trump ticket to congeal a hellish marriage of a woman-groping scumbag with woman-hating Christian fundamentalists.
Steve Bannon would be Trump’s Chief Strategist andSenior Counselor. Bannon brags that his Breitbart “news” website is a “platform” for the so-called “alt-right.” After a white supremacist massacred Black people in a Charleston, South Carolina, church and posed on Facebook with a Confederate flag, Bannon’s website declared, “Hoist It High And Proud: The Confederate Flag Proclaims A Glorious Heritage.” In March, Bannon’s Breitbart site published “An Establishment Conservative’s Guide to the Alt-Right,” which identified Richard Spencer’s website as “a center of alt-right thought.” On November 19, Spencer staged a neo-Nazi rally in DC where he railed against Jews, incited his audience to attack the press quoting Nazi propaganda in the original German, and declared the United States is “A white country designed for ourselves and our posterity. ... It is our creation, it is our inheritance, and it belongs to us.” After Bannon’s Nazi connections came to light big-time, Trump has continued to keep Bannon as his right-hand man.
Reince Priebus would be Trump’s Chief of Staff. Priebus is billed as the one sane establishment Republican who might rein in the neo-Nazis and Christian fascists in a Trump regime. How’s that working out so far? As Bannon’s neo-Nazi connections came to light, Priebus told MSNBC that Bannon is “a generous, hospitable, wise person to work with.” And Priebus headed the Republican Party that adopted a platform calling for a constitutional amendment to ban all abortion.
“Ex” General War Criminals in a Big Brother/Torture Regime. During the campaign, Trump threatened to do “worse” than torture, and to order U.S. troops to kill innocent family members of suspected terrorists. When a former head of the CIA(!) said the military would refuse to carry out orders like that, Trump said, “They won’t refuse. They’re not gonna refuse me. Believe me.” Now Trump is stacking what would be his cabinet with war criminal retired generals, binding major players in the military to his regime. His war criminal appointees—Lt. General Mike Flynn (National Security Adviser), Marine General James “Mad Dog” Mattis (Secretary of Defense), and Marine General John Kelly (Homeland Security)—will have their hands on key instruments of violent repression at home and terrorist violence around the world. They will have signed on to Trump’s threats of torture and mass murder. And they all have track records that qualify them to do just that. Mattis led U.S. troops who leveled the city of Fallujah, Iraq, in 2004 to send a message to the world of what happens if you defy the U.S. empire. That assault killed thousands in a nearly abandoned city, and “destroyed 36,000 homes, 9,000 shops, 65 mosques, 60 schools, both train stations, one of the two bridges, two power stations, three water treatment plants and the city’s entire sanitation and telephone systems.” (See Blood on our Hands—the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq, by Nicholas J. Davies.) Flynn declares Islamic cultures are inferior to the imperialist West. As head of the U.S. Southern Command, until January of this year, Kelly was responsible for the U.S. torture chamber at Guantánamo Bay and fiercely opposed President Obama’s attempts to close it. Kelly declared, “There are no innocent men down there” and called the force feeding of prisoners on hunger strike a humane approach.
Ben Carson’s “qualification” to be Trump’s Secretary of Housing and Urban Development is that he is determined to shut down public housing and public assistance to tens of millions of desperate people. And that he will do that while claiming to be living proof that Black people can make it in America. Carson shamelessly declares “poverty is really more of a choice than anything else.” Betsy DeVos is an attack dog in the all-out assault on public education. She has put millions of dollars from her brother’s Blackwater war crimes/mercenary agency and her husband’s Amway fortune to sponsor movements to impose theocratic religious oppression and madness by de-funding public schools, and providing government funding for Christian fundamentalist schools that would be a cracked-mirror image of the fundamentalist Islamic “education” in areas that groups like ISIS control. And the incoming Trump regime has slotted her to be Secretary of Education. As Oklahoma attorney general, Scott Pruitt has been on the cutting edge of the war to shred any and all environmental protection laws. He is a climate change denier. He has fought clean air and water rules. He is obsessed with spreading environmentally insane fracking. If Trump succeeds in taking office, Pruitt would head the Environmental Protection Agency.
The U.S. Attorney General supposedly protects civil rights and civil liberties. Trump’s pick is Jeff Sessions.A Black former assistant U.S. attorney testified that Sessions “stated that he believed the NAACP, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Operation PUSH and the National Council of Churches were all un-American organizations teaching anti-American values.” And that Sessions said he believed the Ku Klux Klan was OK until he learned its members smoked marijuana, something the former assistant U.S. attorney testified was not a joke, but something he took as “a serious statement” of Sessions’ views.
Trump picked Kansas congressman Mike Pompeo to head the CIA. Pompeo has been one of the loudest and shrillest voices demanding expanded government spying. He calls for new and worse laws “re-establishing collection of all metadata, and combining it with publicly available financial and lifestyle information into a comprehensive, searchable database. Legal and bureaucratic impediments to surveillance should be removed.”Given how few “legal and bureaucratic impediments” to massive government spying are in place, combined with Trump’s on-record threats to torture around the world, and round up and/or deport over 10 million people in the U.S., Pompeo would set the table for Hitler-level crimes.
In the name of humanity, Trump and this cabal cannot be allowed to take power!
Trump's Tweet Attacks, Nazi Rallies, and Deadly Assault on Truth
December 12, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
What Trump’s Assaults on Megyn Kelly Reveal
One of the targets of Trump’s online assaults is Megyn Kelly, Fox News host with powerful backing and a large public following. Trump became incensed with Kelly after several reports about him on her show, and especially after one of the Republican primary debates, where she was a moderator, when she asked him about the way he referred to women as “fat pigs,” “disgusting animals,” and in other derogatory ways. Trump took to Twitter to call her a “bimbo,” posted fake pictures of her, and began referring to her as “crazy Megyn.” When Trump’s attorney re-tweeted someone saying they wanted to “gut her,” the cyber lynch mob was mobilized into a frenzy. Kelly writes that “Most disturbing were the overwhelming and violent nature of the messages [I] was receiving—and the way Trump’s anger was seen by some as a call to action.” Things got to a point where Kelly felt she had to hire armed guards to protect herself and her young children.
If Trump can do this to a major right-wing media figure... think what can happen to others under a Trump-Pence regime.
» On December 7, Donald Trump sent out tweets attacking Chuck Jones, a Steelworkers Union local official in Indiana, who had said Trump was “lying his ass off” about his grandiose claims about saving jobs at the Carrier air conditioning plant. Within hours Jones began receiving death threats on his phone, including those directed at his kids.
» On December 4, a white man fired an assault rifle inside a pizza joint in Washington, DC. He said he was taking action because of “news” he’d seen on Facebook and elsewhere on the web claiming the restaurant was involved in a child sex-slave ring run by Hillary Clinton. This is a totally false story, unhinged from any actual facts—typical of the huge “fake news” phenomenon. That didn’t stop a member of Trump’s transition team and son of retired Lt. General Michael T. Flynn (Trump’s appointee as national security adviser) from sending out tweets that tried to keep alive the lie about the pizza restaurant.
» Trump has been going around the country on a “victory tour”—something no other U.S. president-elect has done. In front of crowds chanting “USA, USA, USA,” Trump has been making rabid declarations like threatening to jail and strip citizenship from people burning American flags, a constitutionally protected form of political speech.
» In a recent meeting with Time magazine reporters, Trump railed against what he claimed were “illegal” immigrant gang members on Long Island, New York, claiming that they were “killing and raping everybody out there” and declaring that “they’re finished.” A reporter told Trump that he sounded like Philippine President Duterte, who has been heading a campaign of terror resulting in extra-judicial police executions of at least 2,000 people labeled as “drug dealers,” with vigilantes murdering thousands more. Trump, according to Time, made “no objection to the comparison.”
Anybody thinking that things like these come from Trump not acting “presidential” or his being “thin skinned” about criticism—or people around him being “out of control”—are totally off the mark. Such illusions are harmful because they only serve to minimize and normalize what must NOT be minimized and normalized.
For humanity to advance beyond a state in which “might makes right”—and where things ultimately come down to raw power relations—will require, as a fundamental element in this advance, an approach to understanding things (an epistemology) which recognizes that reality and truth are objective and do not vary in accordance with, nor depend on, different “narratives” and how much “authority” an idea (or “narrative”) may have behind it, or how much power and force can be wielded on behalf of any particular idea or “narrative,” at any given point.
Bob Avakian, BAsics 4:10
When Trump tweeted out attacks on the union leader, he was deliberately inciting a cyber lynch mob. His “victory rallies” are like the “Nuremburg rallies” that Hitler held to rile up his supporters. The reactionary gunman in DC—as well as the racist, anti-immigrant, and anti-LGBT assaults taking place around the country where perpetrators shout “Trump, Trump, Trump”—point to the direction his fascist incitement is quickly heading. And Trump’s favorable view of Duterte’s bloody reign of terror is a sign of horrific new leaps this could take.
Trump is taking the “art of the lie” to a whole new level, and this has real, dangerous consequences. His claims about Mexican immigrants being “rapists” and “criminals,” millions of Black and Latino people “voting illegally,” and other lies are outlandish. But this serves to confirm and whip up the fears and hatreds of his followers. And Trump is training people to think about the world in a certain way, and to proceed from a certain epistemology (theory of how people acquire knowledge and how they know what is true or not).
This is how a fascist fighting force is organized and directed in the age of internet and social media—all done in a way that enables Trump to shrug off responsibility.
Any notion that Trump will tone down or drop all this is the kind of wishful thinking that leads to lynch mobs, Kristallnachts,* and even to the concentration camps and ovens. Once Trump is in office, with the stakes of every decision he makes higher, he will almost certainly rely even more on this means of summoning and directing the hatred of his followers. The Trump/Pence fascists MUST BE STOPPED from carrying out even more monstrous crimes.
* After Hitler and the Nazis came to power in Germany in 1933, laws were passed depriving Jews of civil rights. Then there was a pause that some people took as a sign that the worst was over. The illusion was shattered by Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass) on November 9-10, 1938, when Nazi paramilitary forces and mobs attacked Jewish businesses and homes while the official police stood by. [back]
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.
Belafonte Calls for Courage
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.
Warns Against Anti-Communism
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.
Chomsky Invokes Hitler...
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.
But Downplays Trump's Danger
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.
Its Not Just Economics—This is About Fascist, White Supremacist, Misogynist, America-First Revenge
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.
Peeling Trump Supporters Away
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.
What You Can Do RIGHT NOW
To Build the Movement for Revolution and Start Getting To A Whole New—And MUCH BETTER—World:
December 12, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
1You can print up materials from
this website and get them out all over: at school, on public
transportation, at work... everywhere you go. Hand them out to
people or, if you are shy or have reasons not to, leave the printed
materials around. People will see these and read them. If you can,
watch how people respond or react. And let us know. Taken together,
everyone's efforts on this can make a huge difference.
2You can watch the videos of Bob Avakian (BA) on revcom.us and
share them (for example HERE, HERE, and HERE), or watch them with friends. BA has done the work to show people how
to understand this system... how to fight against it and defeat it...
and how to bring something totally better into being. The problem is
that most people don't even know about this. You can be part of
learning about this great new thing and, as you do, sharing it with
others and spreading it.
3You can order copies of the printed
newspaper of this site from RCP Publications and get
them around and sell them where you live.
4You can take articles and memes
from this site that you really like and get them out on social
media. This too makes a difference. Social media graphics are posted HERE.
5You can talk or write to people you
trust about Bob Avakian and the ideas you are getting into at
revcom.us, and send them links to articles that you want them to
read or videos they should watch—or invite them over to watch the
6You can get in touch with the Revolution
Club, through this
website—and they can write back and forth with you, answering
questions, listening to your ideas, learning from your experience,
and helping make your activity part of a unified effort around the
you feel bolder, call a protest. Let others know, even if it is just
you and your friends on a street corner. Right now, these kinds of
things are essential. Fight the
Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution.
7You can buy the "BA Speaks:
REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!" tee-shirt and wear it
everywhere—especially at protests, events, and marches.
8You can go to this site and learn
about the vanguard of the revolution, the
Communist Party, which
leads this website, and find out what it's all about and how to
work with it and join it.
9You can follow @tuneintorevcom on
Twitter and Instagram, and follow @baeverywhere on Twitter and
10Write to us! Write to firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts: on the analysis at revcom.us; your wrangling
with the contradictions of revolution; your experience; the lessons
you are drawing from discussions. Raise questions you're running
into that you want answers to, questions that other readers should
also be reading and learning about.
11Come to Revolution Books in NYC and Berkeley. Revolution Books is the political, intellectual, and cultural center
for the movement for revolution that bases itself on the
revolutionary analysis of Bob Avakian of the problem we confront...
and the solution. On that foundation, Revolution Books embraces a
wide range of scholarly, scientific, and artistic work and thinkers.
Visit and learn about the new communism... get into all kinds of
discussion... and connect with the movement for revolution.
12You can donate funds HERE. Ask friends to donate, too. If you can do it, organize a fundraising
party or event.
These are all basic ways
that YOU can start, right now, learning about and changing the
Distributing the Message "Time To Get Organized for an ACTUAL Revolution"
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."
Excerpt from the section:
Youth, Students and the Intelligentsia
In this connection, we have to recognize the important potential role of youth. It’s true that, right now, a lot of the youth are not in a very good place—or it’s hard to tell what place they’re in, because you can’t get their faces out of their phones! Nonetheless, it’s not the case that they never think about anything bigger than their apps. In any case, they still have the qualities of youth. And, in a minute, I’m going to come back to the George Carlin point that I referred to earlier. There is definitely a struggle to be waged with youth, and the potential for something positive to come out of this, because youth are at that crossroads in life where the question of what your life is going to be about does pose itself, objectively, and many do wrestle with that question. But right now, as I spoke to earlier, even the better parts of this are mainly funneled and channeled into making your way within the world as it is, or giving up on doing so. So there is a big struggle to be waged with these youth—to inspire them, but also to rupture them out of the pit and the rut into which they’re cast and maintained. And—here comes the George Carlin point: He’s not gonna say that the youth should turn against their parents, the way they did in the 1960s, is he? Well, yes, he is. But the way youth turned against their parents in the 1960s was not just to consign their parents to the garbage dump, as hopelessly backward and reactionary. It was to break with the way the parents were conditioning them to just go along with the way things were, and it involved struggling like hell with your parents about these big questions in the world, and to try—not without any success—to win them over to a significant degree, the parents and the older generation. Of course, we do have to recognize that things now are not exactly the same—things are not posed the same way, and they’re not spontaneously nearly as favorable as the coming together of things, the conjuncture, that turned into the ’60s movement—but I still think there is a question of the role of youth here, because youth are not so riveted into the way things are—and we have to think creatively and work creatively to find the ways to bring that forward, to bring forward the positive elements in that and to further develop them.
Speaking about parents today, particularly parents in the middle strata, there’s another thing you never had back in the day—at least not on anything like the scale on which it exists now—this phenomenon called “helicopter parents,” hovering all around the affairs of their kids, even when they go off to college. You hear all these professors complaining because, if the professors have the nerve to give the kid a B+ instead of an A, the parents contact them and complain about the grade they gave their kid. This kind of shit has got to go: What kind of self-respecting youth wants to have “helicopter parents” hovering around?
This is going to involve a lot of struggle—it’s not going to happen just because youth are youth. The youth, too, are shaped by the larger things going on in the world at any given time, and some of the youth, in certain periods, can be quite bad. So, it’s not some kind of romantic idea about youth, but I do think there’s still that contradiction of being at that crossroads of life, objectively, and that is something we have to think about, and work on, from a strategic standpoint.
And, within the broader category of youth, there is the particularity of students, including students at the more elite colleges. There is a reason why, historically, whenever there’s been any kind of radical movement in society, or revolutionary movement, students have been a significant part of and played a significant role in that. But my sense is that we have not put ourselves, in the way we need to, to figuring out, and carrying out, a systematic approach to bringing forward a radical student movement and a real revolutionary and communist current within that. We have not applied ourselves, the way we need to, to dealing with the contradictions involved in that. There are the qualities of youth, and the qualities of students—wanting to search out things for themselves, not wanting to be told what to think, and so on—there are all those kinds of things, which are not entirely negative by any means, even with all this relativist nonsense going on. From a strategic standpoint, we certainly shouldn’t have an attitude that critical thinking, even when it’s turned against us—that is, even when it leads to hard questions about what we are setting out to do—is negative in its main aspect. But we also shouldn’t tail this. We have to know how to work on these things. As a movement, as a party, we have to develop a more systematic approach to this. You can’t go from no radical student movement to a mass radical student movement in one week or one month—although it does need to be emphasized that there are situations when a great deal needs to be, and can be, achieved in a short, telescoped period of time, with systematic work. In fact, this is one of those times, and we have to put ourselves to it. We have to develop concretely, and actually implement, a way of going to work on this, because I will say again that there will never be a revolution without a significant component of a radical student movement, within which the pole of revolution and communism is a significant and growing force: both a force of attraction and also a force that’s contending within that student movement, as well as in the broader society, fighting to win people to communist revolution. I’m going to talk about this some more when I get to the question of leadership, but people who work in the realm of ideas and who propagate ideas in various ways have a disproportionate influence—an influence greater than their numbers—in terms of how they can affect society. This is something that can be wielded on behalf of one program or another—ultimately one class and one system or another. And we have to go to work on developing a force that’s actively wielding this ability and this influence for the revolution we need.
Introduction and Orientation
Foolish Victims of Deceit, and Self-Deceit
Part I. Method and Approach, Communism as a Science
Materialism vs. Idealism Dialectical Materialism
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
Sparks of Outrage and Protest Against the Fascist Trump-Pence Regime
Updated April 21, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
A fascist regime that represents an unprecedented danger to humanity has assumed the reins of power in the U.S. Starting right from the inaugural speech and every day since then, the Trump-Pence regime has carried through new outrages—and they surely have more to come. Right now, the different forces in the ruling class are either supporting this enthusiastically or going along with at most a few petty amendments.
As Carl Dix, Sunsara Taylor, and Andy Zee—three people who kicked off refusefascism.org—said in their January 25 letter: “That does NOT mean that the possibility of ousting this regime through truly massive action is over, and that all people can do is work on local projects or hope for some pendulum swing somewhere down the road—while Trump-Pence carry out truly monstrous things and put the whole planet in jeopardy. Far from it. Precisely because this regime is fascist and a qualitative change from the ‘normal workings’ of this system, and because millions of people—correctly—view this regime as utterly illegitimate, the possibility of crisis erupting at any time is great....”
And they also noted: “So we stand at a new juncture. The regime is in power, and moving quickly. At the same time, millions have registered their opposition and many are looking for a way to fight. Over these next few weeks, revcom.us will be covering the regime and the resistance to it with the same intensity and level of analysis that we have since the election.”
There are millions who hate what is represented by this fascist regime, and some of this outrage continues to surface in different kinds of resistance, as seen here on this page. There are also many in different spheres—academia, sciences, arts and entertainment, journalism, and others—who are raising their voices against Trump-Pence and their fascist outrages. See these voices here. It’s crucial to grasp that these sparks and voices represent a much bigger and broader anger and opposition to the fascist regime.
We encourage Revolution/revcom.us readers to send us news and reports, pictures, and videos of the ways people are resisting (send to: email@example.com).
Protesters—and T. Rex Dinos—Denounce Rex Tillerson for "Declaring War on Our Planet"
Joined by 15 T. Rex dinosaurs, 200 environmental activists marched through Washington, D.C. Wednesday, January 11, denouncing Rex Tillerson. May Boeve, executive director of 350.org, said in a statement: "By tapping Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State, Donald Trump is essentially declaring war on our planet and betting against a livable future." See video here
On Saturday, December 10, in San Francisco, 500 people marched in the rain to deliver the message “This Is Not Normal!” The action was initiated by people who had never organized a protest before. The march involved a broad range: people from the LGBT community, tech workers, students, artists, feminists, and others. The Revolution Club led many chants taken up by the march, like “We will not conciliate! We will not accommodate! We will not collaborate!” and read the statement “In the Name of Humanity, We REFUSE to Accept a Fascist America” from the rally stage. Joey Johnson, revolutionary communist and notorious flag burner, spoke to the huge stakes for humanity in stopping the fascists, and pointed to Trump’s threat to jail and strip citizenship from people burning the American flag as one concentration of the fascist program.
On the same day, in Los Angeles, thousands of people from many walks of life converged downtown to demand the complete stop of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). The DAPL threatens the water source for the Standing Rock Sioux people and sites that are important to their culture, and if completed will add significantly to the the global climate change endangering the planet. More than 600 copies of Revolution newspaper were distributed along the march, and hundreds of people carried posters declaring “In the Name of Humanity, We REFUSE to Accept a Fascist America.”
On Monday, December 5, hundreds of Boston high school and college students walked out of classes and rallied at Boston Commons. According to the Boston Globe, the students delivered a list of demands to the Massachusetts governor and the Boston mayor, “to protect minorities and immigrants, support public education, and denounce white nationalists who have been energized by a Trump victory.”
Trump has threatened to immediately deport millions of immigrants and cancel Obama’s temporary deferrals of deportations of young undocumented people. In response, students across the country are organizing and acting—through walkouts, rallies, and petition campaigns—to demand that their schools become “sanctuary campuses” that protect undocumented immigrants, as well as LGBT people and other who may come under attack from the government as well as fascist mobs. (See “Students Across the County Demand Sanctuary Campuses: Schools Should Be Safe Zones from Fascist Attacks—No Matter What”)
On December 6, at Texas A&M University, neo-Nazi leader Richard Spencer’s appearance on the campus was met with righteous protest by hundreds of students and hundreds of others from Houston, Austin, and other cities and towns in Texas. This school is known as one of the most conservative state universities in the country—so this raucous protest of thousands was very significant. (See “Thousands Protest Neo-Nazi Richard Spencer at Texas A&M”)
On December 7, on the anniversary of the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor that began the war between U.S. and Japan, a number of Japanese American community organizations in Los Angeles led a protest in the Little Tokyo neighborhood against Trump’s attack on immigrants and Muslims. They compared what Trump is saying and threatening to the U.S. government’s vilification, mass round-ups, and imprisonment in concentration camps of people of Japanese ancestry during World War 2. There were calls for Little Tokyo to become a sanctuary for those singled out by Trump, and for people to “put their bodies” between those targeted and the authorities.
The Jewish group IfNotNow, which came together in 2014 to opposes the horrific U.S.-backed Israeli war on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, has been protesting Richard Bannon, the white-supremacist, anti-Semitic neo-Nazi who is Trump’s “chief strategist.” On December 8, IfNotNow in New York City posted on their Facebook page: “This morning, we delivered white roses to the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, and demanded that they join our call to #FireBannon. The white rose was used by students from The University of Munich as a symbol of nonviolent resistance to the Nazi regime, and now we claim it as our own—to demonstrate our resistance to state-sponsored hate as the #JewishResistance.”
On December 10, 200 people marched around the M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore to protest Trump who was attending the Army-Navy football game. The Baltimore Sun said that the protesters chanted “No hate, no fear, immigrants are welcome here” and “We reject the president-elect” and held up signs like “Resist” and “Make fascists hide again.”
On Friday, December 9, at the annual awards ceremony of the International Documentary Association (IDA) held at the Paramount Theater in Los Angeles, TV writer and producer Norman Lear said from the stage that the country is entering “a very dangerous time” with the election of Trump, which poses “serious obligations”: “If, for example, he or his administration in any way threatens the free speech rights of our documentary filmmakers, the IDA and every supporter in this room must—will, I am sure—hunker down together and fight our asses off.” According to Hollywood Reporter, “Feelings on this topic were clearly running high all around, as an audience member yelled, ‘He’s a fascist!’ during Lear’s speech.”
Spurred by the rise of Trump, a website called “Professors Watchlist” has been posting names professors they accuse of “leftist propaganda”—more than 200 names so far. This kind of fascist witch-hunt on campuses will only become more extreme if the Trump regime is allowed to firm up its grip on power. When two professors at Notre Dame university appeared on the list, more than 100 faculty members at the campus took a stand against the witch-hunt with an open letter saying the watch list should add their names in order to reaffirm “our values and recommitting ourselves to the work of teaching students to think clearly, independently and fearlessly.” See the “Other Voices Against Trump” page at www.revcom.us for this statement and other voices of resistance, including MIT professors, Cornel West, New York Times columnist Charles Blow, and others.
There are various calls for protests in Washington, DC, as the date for Trump inauguration approaches. On December 10, Shaun King—New York Daily News writer and widely followed social media commentator—sent out a tweet saying: “Many people asking me if people should clog the streets of DC to prevent the inauguration ceremony. On general principle alone, YES.” A few days earlier, filmmaker Michael Moore tweeted: “Disrupt the Inauguration. The Majority have spoken—by nearly 2.7 million votes &counting! Silence is not an option.”
Update: On December 12, there were protests in a number of cities around the country in response to a "Women and Allies" call to "deliver the message in a unified voice that we are ready to stand against any government action that would serve to erode the rights of women and other vulnerable groups." See "'Women and Allies' Actions Oppose Trump-Pence Attacks."
Trump to Planet Earth: Fuck You
Plans to End NASA Climate Research
by Raymond Lotta | December 5, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Internationalism—The Whole World Comes First.
Bob Avakian, BAsics 5:8
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 planetin 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:
For humanity to advance beyond a state in which "might makes right"—and where things ultimately come down to raw power relations—will require, as a fundamental element in this advance, an approach to understanding things (an epistemology) which recognizes that reality and truth are objective and do not vary in accordance with, nor depend on, different "narratives" and how much "authority" an idea (or "narrative") may have behind it, or how much power and force can be wielded on behalf of any particular idea or "narrative," at any given point.
Bob Avakian, BAsics 4:10
» 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.
Authored by Bob Avakian,
and adopted by the
Central Committee of the RCP
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!
Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche (Americanah) in The New Yorker, December 2, 2016
"Now is not the time to tiptoe around historical references. Recalling Nazism is not extreme; it is the astute response of those who know that history gives both context and warning."
Statement from Faculty at the University of Southern California, published in the Los Angeles Times, March 23, 2017
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!
Shaun King: “No President who ever owned human beings should be honored”
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.
Michael Bennett, NFL football player, supports the women's strike on International Women's Day
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.’”
Former ABC News Reporters, Executives, Producers Urge Strong Stand Against Trump
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 at Fusion: Calling Trump "Presidential" Is the First Step to Normalizing Fascism
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.
"I am vowing, here and now, not to show papers in this situation"
“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 TheAtlantic, 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?”
"I wasn't pulled out because I'm some kind of revolutionary activist, but my God, I am now." Mem Fox's Terrifying Detention at the Los Angeles Airport
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.”
Interview with Claudia Koonz, Historian and Author of The Nazi Conscience
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?
John Legend: "Are we going to just accept inhumanity, or are we going to resist?"
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.
Ann Frank Center for Mutual Respect Condemns Trump’s So-Called “Condemnation” of Anti-Semitic Attacks
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.
Berkeley Law School Faculty and Staff: #NoBanNoWall
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.
"Hands Off Our Revolution"—More than 200 Artists Around the World Say "We will not go quietly"
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.
"I want to be a voice for the voiceless": Pro Football Player Michael Bennett Refuses to Be a Shill for Israel
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.
Meryl Streep on standing up against "armies of brownshirts and bots": "You have to! You don't have an option"
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.
A Tribe Called Quest at Grammys: "Resist, Resist, Resist"
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!”
"The Rock," Misty Copeland, Steph Curry Hit Under Armour for Calling Trump an "Asset"
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 on Stefan Zweig, Trump, and "When It's Too Late to Stop Fascism"
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.
Wagner College (Staten Island, NYC) Profs Denounce Trump Executive Orders
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.
Two NBA Coaches Take On Trump this Week
Popovich and Kerr Speak on Racial Inequality and the Muslim Ban
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.
Shawn Gaylord, Advocacy Counsel for Human Rights First: "I would call on the entire LGBT community to stand up and say 'not in our name'"
a February 3 article for the Advocate
"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."
Cleveland Clinic Doctors, Medical Students, and Other Medical Staff: Trump's actions "directly harm human health and well-being in the United States and abroad"
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.
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
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.
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.
open letter and list of signatories is available here
...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 Roeover 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.
Emma Stone, Actor: “We have to speak up against injustice, and we have to kick some ass”
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, CUNY Grad Student: “We, the 99% of the world, need to stand united in resisting the authoritarian forces all over the world”
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, Founder/Editor of The Daily Banter: “This Is Straight Up Fascism”
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....
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.
Cast of Stranger Things: “We will get past the lies. We will hunt monsters!”
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.
University Science Professors Call for Defense of Science and Government Scientists
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, Constitutional Law Professor: "Trump must be impeached for abusing his power"
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.
Jewish Voices for Peace on Trump’s Anti-Muslim, Anti-Refugee Order: “We pledge to resist in every way that we can”
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.
Nikki Giovanni, the well-known African- American poet, essayist, and a University Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech, recently spoke with the Huffington Post. During the interview, she said the following:
“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.”
Philip Roth on Trump: “What is most terrifying is that he makes any and everything possible, including, of course, the nuclear catastrophe”
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, NY Times Columnist: “Trump’s outrageous claims have a purpose: to destroy rational thought”
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.
Poem by Nina Donovan, “I am a nasty woman” performed by Ashley Judd at Women’s March: “I feel Hitler in these streets”
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:
Sierra Club on Trump's Energy Plan: "A shameful and dark start"
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: “Trumpolini.... Beware”
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.
Big Bang Theory on Eve of Trump Inauguration: “Beware of Darkness”
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 from Pink Floyd on Inauguration: "The resistance begins today"
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
Petition to White House Correspondents' Association: "Stand up to Trump's blacklist"
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....
Citizen Therapists Against Trumpism: "We cannot remain silent as we witness the rise of an American form of fascism"
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.
Punk Band United Nations on Inauguration Day: "Never Again Is Fucking Happening Again"
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
New from Outernational: "Decision"—"How will you live? What will you decide?"
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?...
New Anti-Trump Song by Entrance: "Not Gonna Say Your Name"
“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 watch the video of “Not Gonna Say Your Name” go here.
News of Girl Scouts Marching for Trump Inauguration “filled me with rage”
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?
Charles M. Blow on the Day Before Inauguration Day: "Are You Not Alarmed?"
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.
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
Rapper T.I.: "Be Aware or Be Bamboozled"
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.”
Statement from Michael Dietler, professor of anthropology at the University of Chicago, at Chicago Protest Against Trump-Pence Regime and Police Terror on MLK Day
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!
Clip from Ava DuVernay Documentary 13th—Searing Exposure of Trump on the “Good Old Days”
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.
Pete Vernon in Columbia Journalism Review: "Trump and his team have shown a willingness to retaliate, bully, and ban journalists"
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.
Theologians Raise Opposition to Jeff Sessions for "positions that compromise the rights of these vulnerable populations"
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.
Powerful Video Produced by Katy Perry: #DontNormalizeHate
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: "The country feels very estranged..."
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.
Children's and YA authors refuse "to quietly accept or assent to this 'Gleichschaltung,' this getting in line with fascism and making it mainstream"
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, Singer, Refuses Invitation from Tyrant Trump
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.”
Australian Tennis Star: T-Shirt Statement on Trump
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.
Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights: "Sessions has 30-year record of racial insensitivity, bias against immigrants, disregard for the rule of law, and hostility to the protection of civil rights"
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.
Shaun King: "One of the most dishonest men on Earth is about to become our leader"
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.
Meryl Streep at Golden Globe Awards Speaks Out on Trump: "When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose"
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.
Jello Biafra on Trump: "What we're looking at here is Jim Crow 2.0"
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: NAACP opposes nomination of Jeff Sessions "bodily, spiritually, morally, by encouraging civil disobedience"
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....
Joshua Pechthalt, Calif. Federation of Teachers President: “The similarities with the rise of fascism in Europe in the 1930s...are chilling”
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.
Thousands Sign Petition Against University of Tennessee Marching Band Participation in Trump Inauguration
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.
San Francisco teacher calling on educators across the country to take up the "NO!"
Rosie O'Donnell on Trump: "Less than 3 weeks to stop him"
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
Petition at Olivet Nazarene, Christian University, Speaks Out Against Trump's "well-documented sexism, his political alliances with white supremacists, and his hostility toward immigrants and refugees"
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 Says She'll Sing at Trump Inauguration Invite IF She Can Sing "Strange Fruit"
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
Gregg Popovich, Coach of NBA San Antonio Spurs: "[Trump] is in charge of our country. That's disgusting"
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.
Mormon Tabernacle Singer Quits Over Trump Inauguration: "I could never throw roses to Hitler."
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.
Rockette Speaks Out Against Trump: "A moral issue, a women's issue"
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 RollingStone 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.
1,500 Past and Current Fulbright Scholarship Recipients: "The consequence [of Trump becoming president] could be dire for both international cooperation and peace"
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, Survivor of Nazi Germany: “We have to counter this trend toward fascism in every way we can.”
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.
Feminist Scholars: "We cannot and will not comply. Our number one priority is to resist."
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.
Center for Constitutional Rights: “We must resist and prevent at all costs a slide into American fascism”
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, Teen Vogue Editor: Trump's "Gaslighting" and the Fight for the Truth
Lauren Duca is an editor for TeenVogue 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.”
Journalist Summer Brennan: "I promise to be a siren going off..."
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”
Constitutional Law Scholars to Trump: "We feel a responsibility to challenge you in the court of public opinion"
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: Future under Trump is "terrifying" but "we can't give up the fight"
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.”
Celebrities Refuse to Perform at Trump Inauguration
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.
Open Letter Protesting American Library Association Press Release: "I am
absolutely not ready to work with President-elect Trump"
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.”
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.
Fiona Apple's Christmas Song: "Trump's nuts roasting on an open fire..."
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, Executive of Tech Company Oracle: "I am here to oppose [Trump] in every possible and legal way"
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.”
Actor Michael Sheen: "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"
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).
100+ Professors at Notre Dame Say: We are coming forward to stand with the professors you have called "dangerous"
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.”
In his December 5 piece titled "Trump's Agents of Idiocracy," in the New York Times, columnist Charles Blow wrote:
"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..."
MIT Faculty: "The President-elect has appointed individuals to positions of power who have endorsed racism, misogyny and religious bigotry, and denied the widespread scientific consensus on climate change."
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.
Shaun King: "No, we should not wait and see what a Trump administration does. We should organize our resistance right now."
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."
Green Day at American Music Awards, November 20: NO TRUMP! NO KKK! NO FASCIST USA!
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 RevolutionRadio, 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!
“Farewell, America” by author Neal Gabler, November 10
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.
Architect Resigns from Association for Pledging to “Play Nice” with Trump
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.”
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
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.
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.
more about this here at Architect News online
Center for Biological Diversity: “Lash Out at the Darkness and Fight Like Hell”
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
the center vowed, “There's no way in hell we're letting that
happen.” Read the entire statement here.
Jewish historians speak out on the election of Donald Trump
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.
Issa Rae, Actor: "The scariest part is how normal it's becoming to some people"
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.
Actor Debra Messing: "This is a regime that will strip away the rights of millions..."
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.
Literary Magazine Editor Philip Elliot: "Fascism is rising. Not just in the U.S. but across Europe too"
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.
Petition Against Museum Loan of Art for Inauguration: "We object...to an implicit endorsement of the Trump presidency"
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.
Gothamist.com on Refuse Fascism NY Times Ad: "It's a Noble Cause..."
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 Literature Professor: “Full-fledged U.S. fascism has come”
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 Professors Tell Senate to Reject Sessions Nomination
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.
Outrage at Simon & Schuster's Book Deal for Pro-Trump Racist
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?
Poet Nikky Finney: Talladega College should stand with others "protesting the inauguration of one of the most antagonistic, hatred spewing, unrepentant racists"
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.
Stan Van Gundy, Detroit Pistons Coach: "We have just thrown a good part of our population under the bus"
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.
Scientist Lawrence M. Krauss on "Donald Trump's War on Science"
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.
Mormon Church Members Protest Mormon Tabernacle Choir Singing at Trump's Inauguration
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.
Law Students Speak Out Against Trump's Attorney General Nominee: "Sessions stated that he believed the Ku Klux Klan was okay"
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.”
National Nurses United: Trump pick for Health and Human Services would throw "our most sick and vulnerable fellow Americans at the mercy of the healthcare industry"
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...”
Thousands of Doctors Speak Out Against Trump's Pick to Head Health and Human Services
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, Associate Editor of TheHumanist.com: "Now is the time for us to stand in solidarity with those who face oppression"
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.”
Andrea Bocelli Fans Raise Uproar to Stop Him from Singing at Trump Inauguration
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.”
Hollywood PR Agency Cancels Parties to "defend the values we hold dear"
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.”
George Takei Speaks Out Against Trump on Nuclear Weapons and Registry for Muslims
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.”
“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.”
Patti Smith's rendition of Bob Dylan's "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" at Nobel Prize ceremony resonates powerfully today
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.”
Danny Glover: "We have to fight him every inch"
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.”
Rosie O'Donnell: "Not My President"
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.”
IBM Employees Denounce CEO's Collaboration with Trump
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
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]
Writers Resist NYC: Louder Together for Free Expression
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.
500 Women Scientists: "We reject the hateful rhetoric that was given a voice during the U.S. presidential election..."
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.
Mystery Writer Elizabeth George: "I will not ever accept what's going on right now in the US as the new normal"
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.”
Playwright and Literature Professor Ariel Dorfman: "Now America Knows How Chile Felt"
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.”
Neveragain.tech: "We refuse to facilitate mass deportations of people the government believes to be undesirable"
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.
In a piece titled "Forward Ever, Normal Never: Taking Down Donald Trump" in Monthly Review, Susie Day writes:
"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?'
Cornel West: “Goodbye, American neoliberalism. A new era is 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.
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.
Undocumented in Trump’s America By Jose Antonio Vargas, November 20
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 ...
An abortion doctor on Trump's win: "I fear for my life. I fear for my patients." By Warren M. Hern, November 11
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.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: "We cannot let justice be denied by waiting. History has shown us over and over what horrors that leads to."
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.
In a November 10 speech in the Irish Parliament, Senator Aodhán Ó Riordáin made a strong speech denouncing Donald Trump as a fascist—and condemning the Irish government's conciliatory response.
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.
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.
Anna Yocca—Punished, Shamed and Rotting in Prison for This System's Crimes Against Women
A Horrific Harbinger of Trump/Pence's Program for Women
by Sunsara Taylor
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.
Forced Motherhood Is Female Enslavement
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!
Reality Check: Trump and Pence—Total Unity When It Comes to Enslaving Women
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!
Trump Threatens Flag Burners, Revolution Club Hits Back
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!”
A Dangerous Assault on the Rule of Law, Constitutional Rights, Free Speech, and Dissent
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.
Many Raise Their Voices for Free Speech and Revcoms Burn U.S. Flag Outside Trump Hotel
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.
The #FlagBurningChallenge Goes Viral
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.
Trump Doubles Down on His Threat
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.
Poisoning the Chance of a Fair Trial for the RNC 16
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.
Which Side Are YOU On?
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.
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.
Erwin Chemerinsky, Law School Dean: Law is clear that flag-burning is protected by the First Amendment
December 12, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
In a December 7 op-ed in the Los Angeles Daily News, prominent legal scholar Erwin Chemerinsky spoke out against Donald Trump’s threat to jail people who burn American flags in protest and strip them of their citizenship. Chemerinsky, who is dean of University of California, Irvine School of Law, wrote, in part:
“In cases in 1989 and 1990, the Supreme Court unequivocally held that there is a First Amendment right to burn a flag as a form of protest. Texas v. Johnson, in 1989, involved the conviction of an individual who burned a flag at the 1984 Republican National Convention in Dallas and uttered the words, ‘Red, white and blue, we spit on you.’ He was convicted and sentenced to a year in prison under a Texas law prohibiting any person to ‘deface, damage or otherwise physically mistreat’ a flag in a way he knows ‘will seriously offend one or more persons likely to observe or discover his action.’
The Supreme Court declared the Texas law unconstitutional. The court explained that the law’s purpose was to keep the flag from being used to communicate protest or dissent. The court said that ‘[i]f there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because it finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.’”
Dorothee Benz, of Center for Constitutional Rights: "There is no part of the First Amendment that Donald Trump likes"
December 12, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Dorothee Benz is the Communications Director for the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) in New York City. In a November 30 post on the CCR blog “The Daily Outrage,” Benz wrote in part:
“As CCR has said elsewhere, Trump’s extremist agenda is ‘more than just locker room talk’ and we need to actively resist that agenda.
“In the case of the First Amendment, resisting Trumpism means vigorously exercising and defending our First Amendment rights rather than assuming the settled constitutionality of those rights will somehow protect us by itself. Now, more than ever, we need a critical, combative press, one that understands, as Orwell put it, that ‘Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations.’ Now, more than ever, we need to flood the streets in protest, to stand up and sit in and lay our bodies down in defense of the civil rights and civil liberties of all those targeted and threatened by the Trump agenda.”
Continuing to Stand Strong at Standing Rock... and Spreading the Struggle
December 12, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Over the past week, there have been important developments in the resistance to the Dakota Access Oil Pipeline (DAPL) that threatens the water and tramples treaty rights of the Standing Rock Sioux in the western Dakotas. Revolution reported on how thousands of people, including a contingent of veterans, went to Standing Rock to stand with people threatened with eviction by federal and state officials (see coverage here). Revolution Clubs mobilized around the country and sent a delegation to stand with people there, and connect them with organizing for an actual revolution (see “Revolution Club Delegation to Standing Rock: An Unforgettable Inspiring Experience”).
As brutal winter in the Dakotas sets in, a coalition of four groups have put out a message that they are going to stay at Standing Rock. Others are joining them. The groups are: The Indigenous Environmental Network, International Indigenous Youth Council, Honor the Earth, and Sacred Stone Camp. They will support each other and work together. People who are staying are prepared to withstand sub-zero temperatures, as well as ongoing threats by authorities to the camp. And they need stepped-up support from around the country, and the world.
At the Standing Rock encampent. (Photo: John Packard)
At the same time, this is a critical moment to spread the resistance and build support for Standing Rock. On December 10, thousands of people, from many walks of life, converged in downtown Los Angeles to protest construction of DAPL. This week in New York City, there will be concerts and events in support of Standing Rock. At this very sharp turning point in the struggle, it is significant that thousands participated in the LA protest, and that actions are taking place around the country.
Los Angeles, December 10. (Photo: Special to revcom.us)
Activists at Standing Rock have been subjected to terrorist threats and attacks from local reactionaries. In an important response last week, Shaun King wrote a column in the New York Daily News, “Masked white men in North Dakota terrorize the indigenous people of Standing Rock—just like the KKK.” (December 9). King, who has a large following opposed to police brutality against Black people, wrote: “The day of white men in masks targeting and terrorizing people of color who are standing up for their civil and human rights did not die in the 20th century. It’s happening right now in North Dakota, in the shadows of Standing Rock, to those who are protesting the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline through sacred lands and important water sources.”
On December 4, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers forbade the construction of DAPL under Lake Oahe, a section of the Missouri river adjacent to the Standing Rock Sioux reservation. But the companies building DAPL immediately went to court to try to get a a federal judge to overturn that decision. So it’s very, very important that people continue to mobilize, and continue to resist, to stop this pipeline, to stop the genocide of Native American people, to stop the poisoning of the Earth.
The risks, and stakes, remain high in this battle—both for what it means to the struggle against 400 years of genocide against Native peoples, for the environment, and for the future.
As we wrote recently in Revolution, “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.”
Revolution Club Delegation to Standing Rock: An Unforgettable Inspiring Experience
December 12, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Arriving at the Standing Rock encampment. (Photo: John Packard)
Pitching the tent. (Photo: John Packard)
On their second day at Standing Rock, the Revolution Club marched up the hill into the camp chanting “1, 2, 3, 4, slavery, genocide, and war, 5, 6, 7, 8, America was never great.” We then filed into a long single line of people, which, to my understanding, totally encircled the camp. While up there, a Native couple from Canada did an interview for Facebook live with two of us from the Club about what our shirts were all about, who Bob Avakian is, and what kind of revolution we are talking about. The interviewer said she was the first female to be a tribal peacemaker.
They signed up for an e-sub to Revolution.
Along the way, we came across a banner welcoming people with the message “Standing Rock Awakens the World.” People entering the camp were posing next to it, and we did as well (above). We also encountered a huge white banner with red letters demanding “Free Red Fawn.” We later learned that Red Fawn, an Oglala Sioux activist, was serving as a medic when the police raided the front lines of the Standing Rock resistance on October 27. During a showdown, three officers tackled her, threw her to the ground, pointed a gun to her back, and then charged HER with attempted murder of them! She is facing 20 years in prison. Thousands have signed a petition at change.org demanding that the charges be dropped and her release from custody. (Photo: Special to revcom.us)
Revolution Club delegation in their tent at Standing Rock.
One of the tents at the encampment.
(Photos: John Packard)
Cornel West (center) and Carl Dix (right) with a member of the Revolution Club delegation
Saturday, December 3, as the first vehicle with members of the Revolution Club got within sight of the Standing Rock encampment, everyone began snapping pictures with their phones. While we had all followed the battle at Standing Rock on revcom.us, actually seeing the camp live was different. We were filled with awe.
The entire road along the entrance was lined with colorful banners brought there by people from all over the country and across the globe. Next to a Palestinian flag, a large green banner with white lettering read “From Palestine to Standing Rock, We Are United.” A blue banner with a gorgeous painting of a Native warrior on horseback was ringed with the words, “Kiowa Tribe Oklahoma,” Others read: “Respect Life, Water is Sacred”; “Roslyn Wa Stands with Standing Rock”; and “No DAPL, People Over Pipelines.”
Along the way, we came across a banner welcoming people with the message “Standing Rock Awakens the World.” People entering the camp were posing next to it, and we did as well (see photo). We also encountered a huge white banner with red letters demanding “Free Red Fawn.” We later learned that Red Fawn, an Oglala Sioux activist, was serving as a medic when the police raided the front lines of the Standing Rock resistance on October 27. During a showdown, three officers tackled her, threw her to the ground, pointed a gun to her back, and then charged HER with attempted murder of them! She is facing 20 years in prison. Thousands have signed a petition at change.org demanding that the charges be dropped and her release from custody.
Behind the banners we could see the outlines of the camp. Pointing up from the snow were tepees, tents, RVs, a yellow school bus, and other structures.
As we pulled into the camp, the excitement was palpable. We donned our 2XL and 3XL shirts over our winter gear. The mighty, mighty revcoms had begun to arrive at Standing Rock. Over the next several hours, more vehicles carrying Club members arrived. When everyone was there and had put on their shirts, we were an awesome sight: 17 mighty, mighty revcoms had answered the call from revcom.us for delegations from the Revolution Clubs to pour into Standing Rock for the showdown looming on Monday December 5, when authorities had threatened to evict the camp.
We were young and old. Black, Latino, and white. Born in the U.S. and other parts of the world. We had come from NYC, Cleveland, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Antelope Valley in Southern California, and Phoenix.
This was the start of what for all of us was an unforgettable and truly inspiring experience. We forged bonds with each other and with people at the camp from small towns, reservations, large cities from all over the U.S. and different parts of the world. Livingston, Montana. The Northwest Territories in Canada. Fargo, North Dakota. The Nez Perce reservation in Idaho. A small town in New Hampshire. Humboldt County, California. Germany, France, and more.
With our labor we contributed to a new communal kitchen and group sleeping quarters—erecting a 20-plus-person army tent, solidifying it with bales of straw and finding heating to keep it warm. This tent became our staging and sleeping area while there. People from neighboring tents and tepees joined in to help and joined meetings we held. Through this we got to know many of the people who were part of the infrastructure of the camp—people responsible for erecting housing, feeding people, looking out for the sick, and more. Everywhere there were volunteers—some who had been in the camp since the start and others who had only been there at day or two. A Native woman, who put up a tent inside our tent, talked with Club members about the history of her tribe.
Everywhere we went, we brought the message that there is a way out of this madness—Revolution, Nothing Less. Over and over and over, people came up to us, asking, “Who is BA” after reading our shirts. We introduced many, many people to Bob Avakian, the leader of the revolution, and the new communism he has forged. Over meals, and as people gathered to stay warm, we dug into the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America with people from so many different places and walks of life. We discussed what socialism leading to communism would look like, why revolution was necessary and possible. We went through the pamphlet “How We Can WIN—How We Can Really Make Revolution” with people.
The call “In the Name of Humanity, We Refuse To Accept a Fascist America” got out widely and people collectively grappled with us about what it would take to actually stop the Trump regime from consolidating power. All over the camp you could see people with Revolution newspaper. A young man from North Dakota and his friends met with Club members and discussed plans for forging a Revolution Club there. A young man from LA joined our meeting and laid plans to get with the Club there when he got back home.
Several of us noted that you could see the seeds of the communist future in the morality of the encampment. While not its conscious motto, much of the camp seemed to run on the principle “from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs.” This stood in contrast to many traditional, outmoded, and patriarchal ways of thinking, which were also part of the camp ethos.
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.
“Pizzagate” and the Lunatic and Dangerous Lies of the Trump Fascists
December 7, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
For humanity to advance beyond a state in which “might makes right”—and where things ultimately come down to raw power relations—will require, as a fundamental element in this advance, an approach to understanding things (an epistemology) which recognizes that reality and truth are objective and do not vary in accordance with, nor depend on, different “narratives” and how much “authority” an idea (or “narrative”) may have behind it, or how much power and force can be wielded on behalf of any particular idea or “narrative,” at any given point.
Bob Avakian, BAsics 4:10
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.
The people who run this country wouldn’t recognize the truth if they had a head-on collision with it.
Bob Avakian, BAsics 4:9
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.
What the Trump Presidency Will Mean to...
Gay, Lesbian, Bi-Sexual and Transgender People
December 12, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) people face truly grave threats from the Trump regime.
Trump himself has not publicly demonized LGBT people in the same way he has Muslims and immigrants. But his government is committed to implementing the anti-gay Republican Party platform, and it is thick with Christian fascists! Vice president-elect Mike Pence believes Biblical law should guide the U.S. today; hostility to gay people has been his trademark throughout his political career. Senator Jeff Sessions, Trump’s nominee for Attorney General (who would have responsibility for protecting LGBT rights) has been 100% consistent in opposing any laws protecting LGBT people.
Here is some of what is at risk at their hands:
Same sex marriage was legalized nationally by a 2015 Supreme Court decision. Last January, Trump told Fox News that he would “strongly consider” appointing Supreme Court judges who would overturn that decision. Mike Pence told Congress in 2006 that gay marriage was a sign of “societal collapse.” Jeff Sessions introduced a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. What do you think this crew will do as it consolidates power?
Adoption is regulated by the states. Gay adoption was outright illegal in many of them until recently. In 2013, a federal law passed saying that adoption agencies receiving federal funds could not discriminate against gay prospective parents, and in about a dozen states there are state laws providing some degree of protection for gay—and in a very few states, transgender—people who want to adopt. But in the great majority of states, there is no protection, meaning that adoption agencies are free to discriminate against LGBT people, as long as their agency does not receive federal funds. And under the Trump regime (and Republican congress) that law could be repealed; religious exceptions established (excluding religious agencies from the law, even if they receive federal funds), or federal funding to adoption agencies (and hence anti-discrimination leverage) could be cut... in order to make adoption even more difficult for LGBT people.
“Conversion Therapy”—based on the idea that not conforming to traditional gender roles and identity is a sickness, aberration, or offense against god—is the practice of “deprogramming” LGBT people, particularly teens, with methods that include isolation, humiliation, electric shocks, and “praying the gay away.” It is illegal in California, and should be illegal everywhere.
But the Republican Party Platform defends this barbaric practice: “We support the right of parents to determine the proper treatment or therapy, for their minor children.” And Pence argued that the federal government should fight HIV-AIDS by funneling its resources “toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.” Trump’s nominee to head the Department of Education, Betsy DeVos, is also associated with support for “Conversion Therapy.”
Transgender rights and social acceptance are even more fragile than gay rights as a whole. Christian fascists have been spreading fear and hatred of trans people, in particular around the right to access public bathrooms, by equating trans women using women’s rest rooms with male rapists and child molesters.
Pence openly opposes any laws protecting transgender people. As Governor, Pence recently defied a federal directive that schools should allow transgender youth to use the bathroom of the gender they identify with, and then a number of local school districts in Indiana followed suit. Trump’s position is that the federal government should stay out of this issue and leave it to the states—knowing full well that Christian fascist forces are deeply entrenched in many state governments.
LGBT people are already the targets of bullying, beatings, and even murder, and the effect of the whole Trump campaign has been to greatly increase all hate crimes—against LGBT people, Blacks, women, Mexicans, and Muslims. This has intensified since the election and is bound to be further escalated after Trump takes office, as reactionaries get a clear signal from the highest offices in the land that it is right to carry out these attacks, and as laws that penalize these crimes are blocked or overturned.
Legal Protection Against Discrimination and Violent Attack:
The Trump team will fight any laws that protect LGBT people. Pence opposes “any effort to recognize homosexuals as a ‘discreet and insular minority’ entitled to the protection of anti-discrimination laws.” Senator Sessions opposed a law to classify violent attacks on or murder of gay people as “hate crimes” and provide protection from them.
Trump supports the federal First Amendment Defense Act, which protects people’s “right” to discriminate against LGBT people, as long as they have a religious motivation. (As Indiana governor, Mike Pence pushed through a similar bill, The Religious Freedom Restoration Act.) Today that means landlords could legally refuse to rent to gays, employers could fire them, etc., by claiming that homosexuality violates their religious beliefs.
“In ancient Israel, it was believed that blood shed in murder would defile the land and that shedding the blood of a killer was restitution to the land.”
“Those who were considered incorrigible, who had committed unseemly acts that turned Israel against God or destroyed the fabric of society, had only one alternative—capital punishment. Through capital punishment, society was rid of that offense, and the land was cleansed of evil.”
Avakian goes on to note that
Here Robertson begins by speaking of murder, and he never specifically identifies any crime other than murder, but the fact is—and obviously this is well known to Robertson—in ancient Israel many acts besides murder brought the death penalty. As Robertson himself points out: “the same law that included the Ten Commandments also had clear provision for capital punishment for specific offenses.” But, also very significantly, Robertson avoids saying what those offenses were. For they included not only murder but also the alleged crimes of homosexuality, practicing witchcraft and magic, worshipping idols and gods other than the god of Israel, adultery and fornication—which, for women, meant any sex outside marriage—and rebelliousness, or even disrespect, on the part of children toward their parents. As shown in these examples (and many others that could be cited), in ancient Israel capital punishment was meted out for a number of things which, according to long-established standards of bourgeois society, are not even crimes, or certainly are not crimes deserving capital punishment.
This is what these people actually believe, even while they understand that at this point they can’t put their full agenda on the table without most people in society—even many of their supporters—seeing them as what they are, cruel and monstrous representatives of a deeply oppressive order. If they are allowed to consolidate their fascist regime (which includes the ability to violently crush any opposition), that “constraint” will cease to matter.
Dangers... That Cannot Be Allowed to Happen
What all of this amounts to is more than just the very real legal harm to peoples’ hard-won rights; it amounts to resurrecting and enshrining in law and culture the view that LGBT people are not people, not human beings, not deserving of love, respect or justice, and in fact, following the logic to its conclusion, an obstacle to god and country that must be forcibly broken or eliminated. This could well bring about horrors that people today may not be able to imagine. It is imperative that this NOT be allowed to happen.
Trump, the CIA, and the "Hacking" Controversy: Some Points of Orientation
Updated January 6, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Update 1/6/17: As the date of Donald Trump's scheduled inauguration approaches, the political storm continues to rage over alleged CIA findings that Russia hacked computers of the Democratic and Republican parties and worked to favor the election of Donald Trump. What does that signify? What does it mean to people who find the prospect of a Trump regime terrible or intolerable? The following article, originally posted December 12, contains important analysis on what is going on with the "hacking" controversy and what interests are at work. We re-post it now as it continues to be very relevant.
A major political storm has erupted over alleged CIA findings that Russia not only hacked computers of the Democratic and Republican parties’ national committees, but actually worked to favor the election of Donald Trump through selective leaks mainly targeting Hillary Clinton and her campaign. Trump tweeted and his spokespeople ridiculed the allegations as groundless. They pointed to CIA fabrications before the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq that the Iraqis had “weapons of mass destruction” (no such weapons were ever found). They said the charges were a ruse designed to delegitimize Trump’s election. At the same time, some prominent Republican senators and former high intelligence officials in Republican ranks publicly broke with Trump, calling for further investigation and hearings. Others, including senior Democrats aligned with Clinton’s campaign, are supporting a call for the CIA findings to be made available to electors that comprise the Electoral College so they can assess the scope of this alleged Russian interference and its connections with the Trump campaign, and determine if “Trump is fit to serve as President,” posing questions of legitimacy of the electoral outcome.
What is going on? And what interests lie behind this?
On one level, we can’t definitively determine the truth of these specific charges. It is true that damaging e-mails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign were leaked; it is true that imperialist powers wage fierce cyber-warfare (invasion of each other’s computer networks for intelligence) against each other; but beyond that no real proof has been produced and some of the key players—most notably, Julian Assange of Wikileaks, who released many of the e-mails from the Democratic National Committee—have disputed these allegations.
On the other hand, there are a few things that CAN be said.
First, U.S. presidents usually spend a big part of their time on coming to office learning about perceived threats to imperialist interests from the CIA; it is unprecedented for an incoming president to launch an attack ON the CIA. On the other hand, intelligence agencies usually “fit themselves” to serve the way the incoming president views U.S. strategic (that is, imperialist) interests. So Trump’s attacks on the CIA are highly unusual, to put it mildly. Further: the political parties of incoming presidents usually close ranks around that president; yet today high-ranking Republicans like Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham are coming into conflict with Trump over whether to hold hearings on these allegations, or simply put them to rest.
These open arguments point to even sharper conflicts underneath. Up to now, both Democrats and Republicans have mainly taken a hard line against Russian attempts to assert its imperialist interests in different spheres such as in Syria and Ukraine, even while working with them at times. McCain and others in advocating for the hearings has repeatedly called out Putin, the Russian leader, as a “butcher” and a “thug.” As of posting, Trump seems to be tending in a different direction, including choosing as advisors people with ties to the Putin regime, for example Trump's nomination of Rex Tillerson, the head of ExxonMobil, as Secretary of State. Tillerson is reportedly against sanctions imposed by the U.S. against Russia following its annexation of the Crimea from Ukraine. Michael Flynn, Trump’s national security adviser in waiting, has also had ties with Russia.
Some of these differences are linked to different approaches and responses to a host of difficult and intractable contradictions faced by the U.S. ruling class—both internationally and within the U.S. itself. Much of the conflict right now within the capitalist-imperialist class centers on how to approach and deal with the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, including reactionary movements rooted in this ideology, like ISIS, mainly centered in Iraq and Syria, or the Taliban in Afghanistan. Trump seems to favor a different and closer alignment with Russia in dealing with these movements, even while they are engaged in intense rivalry for domination in these regions.
Bob Avakian has made the following point on this phenomenon:
What we see in contention here with Jihad on the one hand and McWorld/McCrusade [increasingly globalized western imperialism] on the other hand, are historically outmoded strata among colonized and oppressed humanity up against historically outmoded ruling strata of the imperialist system. These two reactionary poles reinforce each other, even while opposing each other. If you side with either of these "outmodeds," you end up strengthening both.
While this is a very important formulation and is crucial to understanding much of the dynamics driving things in the world in this period, at the same time we do have to be clear about which of these "historically outmodeds" has done the greater damage and poses the greater threat to humanity: It is the historically outmoded ruling strata of the imperialist system, and in particular the U.S. imperialists.
Bob Avakian, BAsics 1:28
This clash between the two outmodeds—with the U.S. playing the most aggressive and murderous role by far—has been a disaster for the people of the world, with the dynamic further intensifying in the aftermath of the Arab Spring1. The war the U.S. launched in 2003 against Iraq not only caused unspeakable carnage, it developed into a significant setback for U.S. imperial interests. Neither Bush nor Obama fundamentally succeeded in solidifying U.S. domination over the Middle East. In some respects their grip was actually shaken and certain strategic weaknesses of the U.S. military were revealed and even exacerbated. This was a major point of attack by Trump against both Obama and, it should be noted, George W. Bush as well.
To be clear: both sides of this dispute are fighting FOR U.S. domination of the region (as part of dominating the globe) and both are willing to shed however much blood of the people of this region that proves necessary for that domination. But within that reactionary unity, there is a great deal of struggle and there are possible splits within the imperialist camp, precisely because they have run into difficulties in pursuing those interests. This is manifest sharply in approaches to the civil war in Syria and the situation in Iraq, and Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran.
Second, it is very significant that this finds itself touching on questions of the legitimacy of this election. But this is knotty. For masses of people, Trump’s illegitimacy focuses on his extremely reactionary stance toward the people here and all over the world and, most of all, the fascist program he aims to impose and is already putting into place, even before reaching office. This program will be nothing short of catastrophic for the people and because of that Trump must be prevented, by massive political struggle involving millions, from consolidating his rule. It is also illegitimate because Trump’s ascendancy to President-elect, despite losing the popular vote, is based on the Electoral College, which is a product and legacy of slavery and white supremacy and its continued manifestations. (See, "The Electoral College—A Legacy of Slavery and Living Expression of Oppression—Cannot Be Used to Legitimize This Team of Fascists.")
At the same time, for sections of the imperialists who oppose Trump, their concerns focus on both significant differences over what strategy will best advance the interests of the U.S. Empire and whether Trump is “fit to be commander-in-chief”—that is, does he have the right experience and “temperament” to cold-bloodedly carry out what is required of whoever assumes the top imperialist office? This has mainly flared in the international arena. At the same time many ruling class figures, concentrated in the Democratic Party do have differences with Trump around how he will rule “at home” as well; these differences are not insignificant but they do not override the unity between ruling class politicians as to the need to carry out that rule OVER the people. This is why, in the main, top Democrats like Obama have been arguing to give Trump a chance and work with him, while hoping to “influence” him. The conflict over the CIA assessment is part of that struggle to “influence” Trump by other ruling class factions.
Third, faced with this situation, it will be very important that people NOT get caught up in pinning their hopes on one or another representative or section of the imperialists. If the imperialists are allowed to set the terms of the struggle and determine its parameters, and masses of people allow their activity to be confined to being marshaled by one or another camp of imperialists to fight around what THEY deem to be significant, that struggle will only and can only end up in continued imperialist domination.
Here we’ll draw on “The Truth About Right-Wing Conspiracy... And Why Clinton and the Democrats Are No Answer”; though written nearly 20 years ago, the principle below applies very much to the situation we face now. Bill Clinton, then the president, faced an attack by Christian fascist Republican politicians who formed the spearpoint of an entire offensive of what was called at the time “the politics of poverty, punishment and patriarchy,” an attack most fundamentally directed against masses of people, but which also involved conflicts among different sections of the imperialists and which took the form of a move to impeach Clinton. Even as things have changed, some of the same questions, and some of the same forces, are in the field today.
Here’s what BA wrote:
It is extremely important to step back from the immediate situation and the terms in which things are presented to us, and ask: How did we get to the situation where the choices, the framework and limits we are supposed to accept are marked at one end by outright fascists and at the other end by someone [this refers to Bill Clinton] who, as even a mainstream columnist describes him, is the most conservative Democratic President since Truman, who heads a Democratic administration that has served as an aggressive and effective instrument in a many-sided reactionary offensive against the basic masses and broader sections of people? Where will we be, before long, and what will the future look like, if people, especially those who see the need to oppose this reactionary offensive, nevertheless are convinced to confine their political objectives and activity within the logic and dynamic that has led us to the present situation? And, most importantly, how do we get out of this situation? The answer is that it must and can only be done by mobilizing broad ranks of people, uniting people from many different strata and walks of life, to build determined resistance to this whole reactionary program and to transform the whole terms of political contention and struggle, the whole "political terrain"—resistance that is not limited to and does not rely on the very political structures, institutions and processes that are the means through which this reactionary offensive is being carried out and given "legitimacy."
With that kind of “determined resistance to the whole reactionary program” from below, struggles between different ruling class forces can assume heightened significance. The proposal now being circulated for a month of massive resistance to prevent the consolidation of fascism urgently presents a picture of such resistance, and argues for it and its possible effects:
Imagine if people, in the tens of millions, filled the streets, powerfully declaring that this regime is illegitimate and demanding that it not be allowed to rule! The whole political landscape would be dramatically transformed, every faction within the established power structure would be forced to respond—and all this could well lead to a situation in which this fascist regime is actually prevented from ruling. This is not some idle dream but something which could be made a reality if all those who hate what is represented by this fascist regime translate their outrage into firm determination and massive mobilization to create the conditions which make this possible.
This could be done—such a thing is necessary and possible precisely because Trump is NOT normal; he represents the imposition of a fascist form of capitalist dictatorship, and millions are rightly revolted by this—by what he has declared as his intentions and what he has already done even before assuming office. But not by lining up behind a program and leadership that locates any possible illegitimacy of Trump in his failure to “stand up” consistently enough for imperialist interests against other imperialist powers.
The final point is this: revolutionaries need, in waging this struggle, to compellingly put forward the way out of this madness altogether. Through www.revcom.us and spoken agitation people need to learn about the blueprint for an entirely different society in which the politics of society are not dominated by imperialist forces struggling over how best to dominate the masses, but in which the masses of people are led to wage struggle to transform the world to do away with exploitation and oppression, and, yes, led to carry out vigorous struggle over how to do that; that blueprint exists in theConstitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, written by Bob Avakian and adopted by the Central Committee of the Revolutionary Communist Party. More, revolutionaries, in waging this struggle to stop the Trump/Pence regime, should bring forward the strategy that could actually defeat these imperialists and the leadership we have to do that: BA—an entirely different kind of leader with an orientation toward liberating and unleashing masses, and a method and approach that can enable them to ever more consciously transform the world and themselves—and the vanguard he leads.
1. Beginning in December of 2010 and lasting for 10 months, the “Arab Spring” was a powerful series of uprisings that rocked the nations of the Middle East and North Africa. By the end of February 2012, tyrants had been forced from power in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen with major uprisings in 14 different countries. [back]
"Women and Allies" Actions Oppose Trump-Pence Attacks
December 13, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
New York City, December 12. Photo: Special to revcom.us
New York City, December 12. Photo: Cindy Trinh – Activists of New York
December 12—There were protests in a number of cities around the country in response to a “Women and Allies” call to “deliver the message in a unified voice that we are ready to stand against any government action that would serve to erode the rights of women and other vulnerable groups.” Along with New York City and Los Angeles, we’ve so far heard of actions in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and Portland, Oregon.
In New York City, 200 to 300 rallied and marched. A reader reported: “There were people with all kinds of perspectives, deeply troubled by the advent of the Trump presidency... People were HUNGRY for the signs saying ‘In the name of humanity, We REFUSE to Accept a Fascist America’... Eve Ensler gave a POWERFUL opening to the event in which she emphasized the need to act now to STOP Trump before he achieves the full reins of governmental power....” The Revolution Club marched in formation to join the action.
In Los Angeles, over 100 marched from Trump’s star at the Hollywood “Walk of Fame” to the CNN building. The Revolution Club reported: “People chanted things like ‘no inauguration without investigation.’ We came up with a better chant: ‘In the name of liberation, we say no inauguration.’ We wanted to unite with the defiant spirit and counter the implication that if there is an investigation which yields no evidence of Russian influence in the election, the inauguration would be acceptable. Fascism is not acceptable under any conditions. We did some agitation about the need to get organized for revolution and to get organized to stop fascism before it starts. We told people about the month of resistance and challenged them around the need to build mass resistance to stop this rather than relying on the Democrats or the Electoral College to save us. We led people in a pledge of resistance—people raised their fists and came up to us afterward wanting to know what we were all about.”
Reality Check on Trump’s Nominee Rex Tillerson:
Taking the Gloves off U.S. Torture and Terror
December 13, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Remember what Trump said during the campaign: “I would bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding." Trump’s pick for Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson heard it too. He signed on to the job of an undisguised thug nakedly enforcing the interests of the U.S. empire, with intolerable consequences for billions across the planet.
Forget about allowing a token number of refugees into the U.S.
Forget about covering invasions and occupations with the thinnest facade of protecting human rights.
Forget about any pretense of adhering to international law against war crimes and torture.
That was intolerable.
This is hellishly worse. It’s Trump time for the world, and Tillerson will be an enforcer of that.
UNLESS... people, in their tens of millions, actually prevent this fascist regime from ruling.
Trump and Black People: You Have NO Idea How Bad It Can Get
December 14, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
February 6, 2017: We are reposting this article, originally written in early December, due to its continuing relevance.
Some well-known Black people have gone around saying, “Well, we’ve gone through a lot, we’ll get through Trump”—and some people are echoing this.
Reality check: you have no idea HOW bad Trump is going to be for Black people. Yes, there’s been a reign of terror by police against Black people... yes, there’s been the ugly unending discrimination in every realm of society, from education to health care to housing and jobs... yes, there’s been the constant insult and threat; and now all that is going on steroids.
Read, Sign & Distribute The New Updated Refuse Fascism Call to Action:
Just think of what he’s done already: He took out ads calling for the death penalty against the Central Park 5. The Central Park 5 were Black and Latino youths who were unfairly charged with rape, and who were found innocent years later—after serving long, hard years in jail. And what did Trump say, just this year, when asked about this? That he doesn’t care what the evidence said, he says they’re guilty and they should be back in jail. And then there’s whole birther thing he got behind and got in front of—all that was just a way to say that Black people should have NO rights.
Trump’s convention featured the former New York mayor, Adolph Ghouliani, screaming about “law and order” and “blue lives matter,” and this was a major theme of his campaign. Trump even said he wants to do stop-and-frisk in every major city. And he applauds the Philippine ruler Duterte, who murders suspects straight-up in the street, without even a trial—over 2,000 already since this summer. What do you think he’s gonna do now? Why do you think that every racist pig and prison guard and every sick white racist vigilante wanna-be is drooling? You don’t think they’re gonna go crazy? And is there any doubt who they’re gonna go crazy against?
And then there’s Trump’s picks. His attorney general is Sessions from Alabama—who got turned down for a federal judgeship by Republicans back in the 1980s for being too much of an out-there racist. His top advisor is Bannon, who brags that the website he ran was the “platform for the alt-right”—and the alt-right are a bunch of Nazis. There’s Ben Carson in charge of housing, that Tom who opposes all government assistance and says that if Black people are poor it’s their own fault. What do you think is going to happen to the rights to free expression and political resistance, to voting rights, to hate crimes (they’re already going through the roof), to public housing and so on down the line?
And the jobs Trump promises? If they happen at all, they’ll be minimum wage or below (and don’t be surprised when he puts even more people in prison to work for next to nothing).
Yes, there’s been a reign of terror. But this is gonna be a reign of terror ON TOP OF a reign of terror. Here’s a parallel to think about: After the Civil War, there were 11 years of Reconstruction in the South, where the former slaves got democratic rights and some land. Then there was a close, contested election in 1876, and a deal got made where the winner agreed to pull out federal protection. In the next few years, the Ku Klux Klan killed thousands of Black people, stripped people of their rights, and took almost all the land that people had been able to obtain. This kind of slam back and worse could be what goes down.
But there’s a bigger question. Trump’s already made clear he’s going after Muslims, after immigrants, after women, and after gay people with a vengeance... he’s made clear he’s gonna foul the environment on a level never seen before (and it’s already close to disaster)... he’s made clear he’s gonna be a warmonger. The kind of narrowness that comes at things from “what might this do to me” out, as if that’s the only question, is never any good and never justified—no matter where it comes from.
There’s a chance now to stop the horror, to stop it before it starts. Not a cinch, not a guarantee, but a chance—one worth fighting for. And the stakes for anyone who cares about the fate of Black people, as well as the people and planet as a whole, are very, very high.
Hey Baby Boomers, Wake Up! Tonight We Gotta Party Like It's 1969!
December 14, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Your generation fought for civil rights and then Black liberation. You overturned the suffocating gender roles that were handed down to you. You rebelled against and helped end a genocidal war in Vietnam. You got chased, insulted, spat on, ridiculed, arrested, gassed, beaten, and jailed, and some of you were even killed in the name of justice and decency and a better world. But you were ready for a brand new beat, and for a brief time you were able to make history dance to it.
And you drove two presidents from office when you did.
Donald Trump, the President-elect, is assembling a regime of grave danger. Millions of people in the U.S. and around the world are filled with deep anxiety, fear, and disgust. Our anguish is right and just. Our anger must now become massive resistance – before Donald Trump is inaugurated and has the full reins of power in his hands.
Should we fail to rise with determination and daring in our millions now to stop this, the consequences for humanity will be disastrous. We, the undersigned, know in the depths of our beings, the catastrophe that will befall the people of the world should the Trump/Pence regime assume full power.
We therefore CALL FOR A MONTH OF RESISTANCE beginning on December 19th, reaching a crescendo by the January 20th, 2017 Inauguration.
Now we’ve got someone about to assume the presidency who is a textbook-definition genuine fascist, a racist, an admitted molester, a religious demagogue, and a monumental swindler, and a fraud to boot. Someone who, before even assuming office, already has filled society with hate and fear and ignorance... already has assembled a team of neo-Nazis, militarists, religious fanatics, and racists to positions of power... already has made clear that he is putting the world and the future of life on this planet in danger—on a level way beyond what has been done before. This is way past normal. The Trump-Pence regime stands out as a horrific and grotesque threat to all kinds of people and the planet as a whole—and it would stand as a repudiation of everything that people in the ’60s fought and shed blood for, everything that you believed and lived for, back in what were truly great and historic days.
If you say you’re gonna wait and see, think about how that worked in Germany, with Hitler. If you’re figuring you fought your fight, now you want to head into the twilight and take it easy... well, go ahead, then. We got nothing for you.
But if you want to not just fight this fascism but stop it before it starts, if you have that spark, here’s our thing. Throw in with us for the next five weeks, with your support and resources and most of all your time and effort, and you’ll have a chance to leave a real legacy to the future: the defeat of an American fascism and the rekindling of the spark of the dream of a world of possibility for all people. Not a guarantee, but a chance—a fighting chance.
Neveragain.tech: Hundreds of Tech Workers Defiantly Pledge Not to Collaborate with Trump's Mass Deportations
December 15, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Donald Trump, the President-elect, is assembling a regime of grave danger. Millions of people in the U.S. and around the world are filled with deep anxiety, fear, and disgust. Our anguish is right and just. Our anger must now become massive resistance – before Donald Trump is inaugurated and has the full reins of power in his hands.
Should we fail to rise with determination and daring in our millions now to stop this, the consequences for humanity will be disastrous. We, the undersigned, know in the depths of our beings, the catastrophe that will befall the people of the world should the Trump/Pence regime assume full power.
We therefore CALL FOR A MONTH OF RESISTANCE beginning on December 19th, reaching a crescendo by the January 20th, 2017 Inauguration.
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 race, religious beliefs, or national origin that could facilitate mass deportations.
Their statement contrasted starkly with the action of top execs from major tech companies like Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Tesla, and Alphabet (Google) who a day earlier met with Trump. That meeting, like others Trump has been holding with a series of well-known figures like Al Gore, served to help legitimize and normalize fascism.
The statement by people in technology 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.”
They also committed to concrete actions—for example, to “exercise our rights and responsibilities to speak out publicly and engage in responsible whistleblowing” if they “discover misuse of data that we consider illegal or unethical in our organizations.”
The list of people signing on to this pledge is growing rapidly. As of the evening of December 15 the statement has over 1,300 signers. The complete statement and other resources are available here.
Rick Perry—Christian Fascist Lunatic To Be Energy Secretary
December 15, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On Tuesday it was announced that Trump’s choice for Energy Secretary is Rick Perry, the former governor of Texas. All the mainstream press pointed out that while running for president in 2012, Perry stated in a televised presidential debate that he planned to eliminate three federal departments but then forgot the name of the third, the same Department of Energy he’s now been appointed to head.
As funny and bumbling as this makes him look, there are much more frightening ramifications tied up with Perry’s appointment than being a buffoon. The Department of Energy is in charge of designing nuclear weapons, watching over the U.S. nuclear arsenal, and developing and guiding energy policy. It is very influential in deciding the direction of basic science in the U.S.
Now U.S. nuclear and energy policy will be in the hands of a man with a stated hostility to facts and science and with deep connections to Christian fundamentalist fanatics. Perry has ties with the American Family Association and the New Apostolic Reformation movement, fundamentalist trends and individuals that believe Christians are commanded by the Bible to take “dominion” over government and all sectors of modern society. According to an article in the Texas Observer written during Perry’s run in 2012, top “apostles” in this movement believe God speaks directly through them, and when “mankind fails to heed the prophecies, the results can be catastrophic: earthquakes in Japan, terrorist attacks in New York, and economic collapse.” Some of these so-called “prophets” believe they have ended mad cow disease in Germany and brought rain to relieve drought in Texas. And some of these pastors have personal ties to Perry, who they saw as being an agent of God to play a special role in Texas and beyond.
Perry combines lunatic fundamentalism and denial of scientific reality with good old-fashioned capitalist profit-making through playing a central role in expanding fracking in Texas and helping combat communities that tried to ban fracking to save their water and land from spoliation.
Perry is a climate-change denier (he says it is a myth perpetuated by climate change scientists to “keep the money rolling in”). He is an anti-science evolution-denier, who has pushed Texas schools to teach versions of “creationism.”
Now this know-nothing, misogynist, fundamentalist nut case will be heading the leading U.S. agency on nuclear and energy matters, including in relation to the danger of climate change. Perry’s appointment to the Trump/Pence “legion of doom” is further confirmation of the complete illegitimacy of this coming fascist regime.
December 15, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
This past week Trump’s transition team unleashed what had all the marks of a witch hunt on individuals and programs in the Department of Energy (DOE) who’ve been connected to efforts to study or limit climate change.
His team sent a questionnaire asking the DOE to turn over names of employees and contractors who’ve participated in climate change related projects and for communications related to this work. They asked for lists of people who attended international climate talks and “Social Cost of Carbon meetings,” and for materials used and emails associated with the meetings. (“Social cost of carbon” refers to standards agencies have used to determine the impact on society of releasing carbon dioxide, the main gas causing global warming.)
One question asked, “Can you provide a list of all boards, councils, commissions, working groups and FACAs currently active at the Department? For each, can you please provide members, meeting schedules, and authority (statutory or otherwise) under which they were created?” Trump’s team demanded listing of projects connected to Obama’s “Climate Action Plan.” The clear intention of many of these “questions” was to force the DOE to turn over information that could be used to target climate change projects and individuals working on them.
Donald Trump, the President-elect, is assembling a regime of grave danger. Millions of people in the U.S. and around the world are filled with deep anxiety, fear, and disgust. Our anguish is right and just. Our anger must now become massive resistance – before Donald Trump is inaugurated and has the full reins of power in his hands.
Should we fail to rise with determination and daring in our millions now to stop this, the consequences for humanity will be disastrous. We, the undersigned, know in the depths of our beings, the catastrophe that will befall the people of the world should the Trump/Pence regime assume full power.
We therefore CALL FOR A MONTH OF RESISTANCE beginning on December 19th, reaching a crescendo by the January 20th, 2017 Inauguration.
It is normal for a new transition team to ask departments policy questions to get a picture of how things are run and approached. What is unprecedented is asking to identify specific people associated with a certain policy that Trump has already declared his hostility to, and to demand an agency justify programs connected to this policy.
The deputy director of the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Center for Science and Democracy, Michael Halpern called this demand for names of specific employees “alarming.” He told the Washington Post, “If the Trump administration is already singling out scientists for doing their jobs, the scientific community is right to be worried about what his administration will do in office. What’s next? Trump administration officials holding up lists of ‘known climatologists’ and urging the public to go after them?”
Trump’s team also asked for a list of the top 20 salaried employees of the national energy labs connected to the DOE, for copies of their publications and “a list of their professional society memberships, affiliations, and the websites they maintain or contribute to ‘during work hours,’” according to the Washington Post.
These moves were meant to have a chilling affect not only in the energy department, but all governmental agencies. They are part of trying to identify, silence, and weed out or go after if necessary, individuals who may oppose the Trumpites agenda of silencing climate science to open up vast plundering of the environment. They are part of a broader agenda to implement a vicious fascist regime that will target any opposition and deny science and objective reality. All of this must be resisted and not collaborated with.
The questionnaire also indicated interest by Trump’s team in gearing up nuclear power plant projects and if there were any restrictions preventing restarting the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste site, a site shut down by the Obama administration.
Importantly, the DOE has officially refused to turn over names of employees and cooperate with these questions. After this happened, Trump’s team backed down and pretended that the questionnaire had been a simple mistake of a misguided team member. But this whole thing smacks much more of an effort to test the waters in forcing governmental employees to bow to the Trump/Pence fascist agenda.