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Revolution #472 January 2, 2017
Updated January 17, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
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
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:
Revolution #472 January 2, 2017
Revolution #472 January 2, 2017
January 2, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Carl Dix, of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, and an initiator of Refuse Fascism, lays out the vision and plan for spreading the “No Trump! No Pence! No Fascist 2017!” message to every corner of society and building massive resistance.
Editor’s note: The following is a slightly edited version of the speech Carl Dix gave to protesters in the streets of New York City on New Year’s Eve.
We are in the right place tonight. And we are here to say “NO!” No Trump! No Pence! No Fascist 2017! We say that because we know what Trump and Pence will mean for humanity. So we say NO! No Muslim registry. No immigrant bashing. No wall. No “pussy grabbing.” No taking away women’s right to abortion. No law-and-order president. No climate change denying. No suppressing civil liberties. No to every fucking thing Trump represents.
And look, this has got to be more than just us declaring that we don’t like Donald Trump. We don’t, but it’s got to be more than declaring that we don’t. We have to act on that declaration. We have to act in a determined way to reach out to and organize others into organizing others into organizing others to bring out people in their millions and millions to take to the streets in massive numbers and in a determined way, refusing to accept this fascist regime. That’s what we gotta do. And see, this is up to us. It ain’t no waiting and seeing what’ll happen. It ain’t hoping that the check and balances of the system will stop Trump. It is up to us, to take it into our hands and write history by stopping this fascist regime.
And look, I know that we weren’t planning to be three weeks away from a fascist regime taking the reins of power in society. This ain’t where we expected to be. But this is where we are. This is the challenge that is before us. People in the future will look back on this period, and what will they say? Will they say that we recognized the horror of the fascist Trump-Pence regime and threw our all, did everything we could to act to stop it now? Or will they say we failed to do that? That is not yet written. That will be determined by what we do, starting now.
And we have to go out, starting now, to build the kind of resistance that can force a political crisis and stop this regime. This is something that can be done. Millions and millions of people have already shown that they hate the things Trump campaigned on. That they hate what he stands for. That they are fearful, anguished, and outraged by everything he represents. We have to put before those millions that there is a way to act to stop it now. And we have to organize them into that way, taking up all the questions that they have, struggling with them to join in with us and be part of organizing others to join us. This is what we have to do.
Now we have a vision for that. That vision is up on the refusefascism.org website. And a key part of that is a paragraph that starts off with: Imagine, people in their tens of millions, taking to the street, acting in a determined way, refusing to accept this regime. This could force a situation where all factions in the authorities are faced with an ungovernable society and they have to determine how to deal with it. This could create the conditions that stop the Trump-Pence regime. This is not an idle dream. It is reality. And reality that can be realized, a vision that can be realized, if we act in a determined way.
And we got a plan for doing that. It basically comes down to taking our message, “No Trump!, No Pence!, No Fascist 2017!” to every corner of society to people and organizing them, struggling with them from the get-go to themselves become organizers, and organizers of organizers. We need to do that having it resonating from one side of the country to the other. A big opening shot in it is gonna be the publication of the call of Refuse Fascism as an ad in the New York Times with a broad and diverse array of signatories, including some well-known voices of conscience. This is gonna be an announcement to everybody that there is a broad and diverse array of people who are determined to act to stop it. A whole lot of people are going to be delighted to see it and inspired and want to get with this, and we have to organize them into it. Now a whole lot of other people ain’t gonna like it. They’re gonna hate it. They’re gonna attack it. But we are not gonna back down in the face of their attacks. In fact we’re gonna use their attacks jujitsu-style to build even greater momentum to bring people into the streets to stop this regime.
And part of getting this out, all over, we need to do a major blast in social media around this as well.
And this NO! does have to resonate in every arena of society. Starting tonight, you gotta take these NOs! that you got, in fliers and palm cards and in other ways on the subway, hand them out on your way back. Posting them in your neighborhoods. And that has to be building up to being in DC before Trump becomes president, and stopping that!
Educators have to go back to school and disrupt what usually goes on and say, we gotta have a teach-in, we gotta have a bunch of teach-ins, to get into: What is fascism? What’s the horror it causes? And how can we act to stop it? That too has to be building up to being in DC before Trump becomes president, and stopping that!
Students have to walk out of school. If you’re in college, if you’re in high school, if you’re in middle school, walk out to show your determination to not accept a future of being ruled by a fascist regime. And when you walk out of your school, if there’s another school across town that ain’t walked out yet, go over there and organize them to get with it and walk out and join this. Students need to be organizing to be in DC to change the course of history!
If you work in a laboratory or somewhere else where they do scientific research, you’ve got to publicly declare that you will not allow your expertise to be utilized to implement a fascist agenda, the agenda of Trump-Pence. You’ve got to do this in public, and you’ve got to throw into this movement.
If you are in a museum, a theater, or other cultural institution, you’ve got to go dark for several hours or even for a day to dramatize your refusal to accept this regime.
Every arena of society, we’ve got to be disrupting business as usual. We’ve got to draw from the experience of ACT-UP when it said, we are facing an AIDS epidemic and everybody in society has got to face that reality. They took it before everybody in society. We’ve got to do that with this message of NO! to Trump and Pence. And all that has to be building up to being in DC before Trump becomes president, and stopping that!
We’ve got to learn from the way that young people especially flowed into the streets after the system refused to indict the pigs that murdered Michael Brown in Ferguson and Eric Garner in Staten Island. They took to the streets. They blocked traffic. They blocked highways. They stayed in the streets. We gotta learn from that.
And we gotta learn from Occupy Wall Street and the way they went to Zuccotti Park and stayed in Zuccotti Park, bringing the message of the inequality in this society before everybody. We’ve got to do the same.
And, again, this has to culminate in people coming to DC before the MLK holiday weekend, and not coming there for a protest one day and then go home. We gotta stay in the streets of DC, disrupting business as usual down there and calling for others to come, in the thousands and tens of thousands, then hundreds of thousands and even millions. And people all across the country gotta be doing the same thing, disrupting the business as usual, saying whatever usually goes down in this society is not going to be allowed to go down, because we are refusing to accept the imposition of a fascist regime.
OK, and I gotta tell you, I’m going down to DC early. I might be down there next week. Some of y’all got to volunteer to come down with me so we can do advance work and organizing to get things ready for what we need to do. But if you ain’t coming down there, you’ve got to start right now. Get your friends together. Get your group together. Make your plans for spreading the message of NO!, starting right now, starting tomorrow, make your plans for that. Make your plans for getting down to DC and bringing others with you. Of if you can’t make it to DC, make your plans for how you’re gonna raise hell wherever you are. Because we have to act, in the millions and tens of millions, in a determined way, to stop this fascist regime before it can get started.
Remember, in the future they will look back at this period when a fascist regime was looming before humanity. What will they say? What will they say we did? We have to make sure they’ll be able to say, these people recognized this horror for what it is, and they threw everything they could into acting to stop it... and they stopped it. Thank you, sisters and brothers.
Revolution #472 January 2, 2017
January 2, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
(The following is adapted from a letter shared with us by a reader in writing to people about signing the Call to Resist.)
We face the most serious situation in this country in nearly 150 years: in a few weeks a fascist regime will be implanted. I don’t use that word lightly: I use it to describe a certain kind of rule, pioneered by Hitler and Mussolini, finding expression in Chile and other Latin American countries in the ’70s and ’80s, and today taking shape in Turkey. The logic of fascism, once implanted, is to constantly “double down” and push further, and today this logic continues to assert itself even before ascending to power. While forces like Obama and others in the ruling structure of society oppose and fear aspects of what Trump-Pence threaten to do, they are mainly normalizing the transition and working for stability. So, despite the anguish and opposition of tens of millions, despite ever more and newer and worse outrages, the ascension of the Trump-Pence regime to the reins of power proceeds apace.
But this is not yet a “done deal.” This does not have to stay this way. There have been times when masses of people in the millions have streamed into the streets to resist blatant tyranny, often with little warning and minimal prior organization, and become unstoppable... as recently as Tunisia and Egypt several years ago, South Korea a few weeks ago, and other instances as well... The basis for such a thing exists—in the millions and millions who are sickened by this prospect, who are already protesting and raising their voices in many different ways, but who need to come together as a force now to PREVENT this.
The following paragraph captures the dynamic I’m talking about:
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.
Some ask, “But how can that really happen?” There is no guarantee as to how these things turn out... but sometimes such mass upheavals can create a political crisis throughout all of society, reaching to the very top and, as the vision above says, forcing every faction in the power structure to respond. The ways are suddenly found, where seemingly none existed, to oust the tyrant and open up hope. Indeed, once there is sufficient will, there is no shortage of ways that can be found. Of course, sometimes the upheavals don’t work, crashing up against the rocks. And in either event there are real sacrifices and real costs.
But there IS one guarantee and that is this: if we DON’T try this, there will be a fascist regime consolidated in a country that already has repressive capacities far beyond Germany in 1933... in a society where the established parties and forces have gone along with and gotten in on the implantation of this regime and where a section of people have had all their worst aspects validated and stoked and marshaled into a force... and where nuclear weapons are not only available, but are already being brandished before the destructive demagogue has even gotten into office.
You can call this a long shot; but it is our best shot at averting nearly unimaginable horror. And sometimes, when the underdog throws all they have into it and rises to the occasion, the long shot comes in. If enough of us throw into this now, and organize others, we have a chance...a real chance... our best chance of preventing catastrophe.
There is a ton that you could do. Go to the website. Listen to the initiators. Get involved. Sign the call, today. This goes up this week in the New York Times and other significant outlets and you can donate and spread it and make this something that everyone in society is checking out and thinking about and looking toward.
Revolution #472 January 2, 2017
Trump's "Stay Strong Israel" Tweet
January 2, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On December 23, the Obama administration refused to veto a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israeli “settlements” in Palestine. (For background, see “Obama Abstains on a UN Resolution Condemning Israel... Trump Lashes Back: Not a ‘Sign of Hope,’ a Preview of Incoming Horrors.”)
In response, Donald Trump tweeted: “Stay strong Israel, January 20th is fast approaching!”
Trump’s tweet portends a paradigm shift away from any pretense of the U.S. restraining Israel’s ongoing and escalating ethnic cleansing of Palestine. The implications for the Palestinian people are literally genocidal.
Israel is built, literally, on the land and bones of Palestinian people. Thousands of Palestinians were slaughtered and millions driven from their homes in the war to establish the state of Israel in 1948. Then in 1967 Israel seized more land through war, and began building “settlements” on these lands. These settlements have amounted to ongoing and escalating ethnic cleansing of Palestine by 800,000 heavily armed Israelis, backed by the violence of the Israeli government. (See Revolution special issue, “Bastion of Enlightenment... or Enforcer for Imperialism: The Case of ISRAEL.”
The Obama administration has raised formal diplomatic objections to the advance of these settlements, and actually does see the rapid expansion of settlements as something that hurts the interests of the U.S. and Israel. All the while, the Obama administration has pumped billions of dollars of aid into Israel in various forms, provided Israel with cutting edge military technology, enabled Israel’s nuclear arsenal, and (for the most part) shielded Israel from UN condemnation. And Obama has repeatedly insisted that Israel is an outpost of democracy, enlightenment, and tolerance while it massacres Palestinians in Gaza and encircles them with walls and settlements in the West Bank region (the area west of the Jordan River, actually the eastern part of Palestine).
To take one very basic example of what this means: Israeli settlements systematically steal all the available water supplies in the region where they are set up, providing settlers with West European lifestyles, swimming pools, lawns and gardens in militarized suburban-style enclaves. Other land seized from Palestinians is used for large-scale corporate farms with vast water demands. The result: Palestinian small farmers who manage to retain their land cannot water their crops, feed their children, or maintain minimal sanitation. And this is a widespread and systematic phenomenon. (See “Troubled Waters—Palestinians Denied Fair Access To Water,” Amnesty International. Also see the video "Farming Without Water. Palestinian Agriculture in the Jordan Valley")
There are very direct parallels between what Israel is doing now to how the Nazis systematically drove the Jews of Germany, Poland and, other countries into smaller and smaller desperate ghettos, before implementing the “final solution.”
What Trump is threatening would be far, far worse than what Israel is doing now with U.S. backing—unimaginable as that is.
Trump’s “stay strong” tweet followed his appointment of David Friedman to be ambassador to Israel. Friedman is not only an exponent of unfettered expansion of Israeli settlements, he personally funds some of them. An Israeli newspaper described him as “more hardline in his views than Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,” the current leader of Israel and notorious for invading the Gaza Strip and slaughtering thousands of Palestinian civilians. An Israeli commentator said Friedman “might find a place” in one of Israel’s extremist parties, “but only on its right-wing fringes.”
And Trump has repeatedly insisted that the United States will trample on promises made to the Palestinians by the U.S. and the UN for decades, by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Jerusalem is the historic capital of Palestine. It is a city considered sacred by Islam, Christianity, as well as Judaism. Recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel (which so far no country on Earth does) would spit in the face of the aspirations of the Palestinian people and provoke outrage among people all over the world.
The status quo is utterly intolerable. The Palestinian people in the West Bank are encircled by a towering wall, their land is broken up by militarized settlements, and they live in constant fear of Israeli violence. In Gaza, two million Palestinians live in what amounts to a massive outdoor prison, subject to periodic Israeli massacres.
But removing all diplomatic constraints on Israeli settlements would be a green light to further isolate Palestinians in shrinking enclaves, separated from each other, subject to more overt and direct Israeli military rule, deprived of any pretense of democratic rights, and increasingly in conditions that make human survival untenable. It would mark a leap into a qualitatively worse situation.
In the eyes of Trump, Pence, and ruling class forces around them, the status quo in Israel is untenable. That is not—for them—because of what it means to the Palestinian people. Nor is it because Israel is a nation built on ethnic cleansing. And for them, it is definitely not because of the IM-morality of invoking the Holocaust—a great crime committed against Jewish people—to justify Jewish people carrying out great crimes against the Palestinians.
But the Trumpites do see a need to violently reshuffle the deck in the U.S.-Israel relationship. The coherence and stability of Israel depends on a sense of security for Jewish Israelis (overwhelmingly of U.S. and European descent), and crushing the lives and spirits of the Palestinian people. If that coherence starts to unravel, cracks and even deep fissures could widen in what today is a seemingly invincible juggernaut (Israel). Sections of the Jewish Zionist settler population could begin to lose confidence in the viability of Israel, and even the acceptability of Zionism, to one degree to another.
And in the eyes of the hard-core Zionist rulers of Israel, and their Trumpite promoters, things like a unanimous vote of the UN Security Council (with the U.S. abstaining) condemning settlements, undermine the legitimacy and credibility of Israel in dangerous and unacceptable ways.
The Trumpites see negotiation, a pretense of a “two-state solution,” and maintaining a pose of supporting human rights of the Palestinians as undermining the stability of Israel. The “two-state solution” itself is an imperialist scheme that seeks to legitimize the ethnic cleansing of Palestine by Zionist settlers with the backing of Western imperialism, and confine the Palestinian people to small, isolated areas within their homeland, subject to Israeli military encirclement and terror. This “two-state solution” has been the official position of the UN and the U.S. government more or less since the establishment of Israel. It is not a just solution to the violent dispossession of the Palestinian people. But even this pretense of providing for the rights and humanity of the Palestinian people has been increasingly pushed off the table by the rulers of Israel and the U.S.
Trump’s disdain for any pretense of reining in Israel is, in and of itself, reason for everyone to throw their all into making sure he does not actually attain the power to rule the U.S. Beyond that, it is a concentration of the Trumpite vision of Making America Great Again. Or, to quote that vision in the original German: “America Über Alles.”
“Great” in their eyes includes the vaporization of almost 200,000 people with atomic bombs in Japan. It includes massacring millions of Indochinese in a war of empire in the ‘60s and ‘70s. It includes the invasion of Iraq (before it turned into a fiasco for the U.S.). And “great again” means more of that, and worse. (For a picture of what “Make America Great Again” means for the world, read the American Crime series.)
Trump is not just an epitome of the Ugly American—pissing on world public opinion, gratuitously insulting foreign governments, trampling diplomatic convention, and throwing around cavalier threats to use nuclear weapons. He is all that. But there is a method to his madness.
Throughout his campaign, Trump threatened U.S. allies that they would only get U.S. protection (in the Mafia sense) if they “fulfill their obligations to us.” Quotes like this were overwhelmingly misinterpreted or spun in ways that obscured reality by mainstream media as “isolationist,” or narrowly defining U.S. interests in economic terms. The particular quote about allies “fulfilling their obligations” was in relation to Europe, South Korea, and Japan, but, along with other statements and the overall demeanor he projected in relation to the rest of the world, represented Trump’s determination to recast the world into one where U.S. domination is unchallenged and where U.S. allies are whipped into line, and know their place in the global pecking order.
Trump and his cabal see the need to violently re-assert U.S. global dominance in the most extreme ways. In that light, Trump and his inner circle of fanatic militarists and Christian fascists see a value in overtly taking the leash completely off Israel, and throwing red meat to the rabid Zionists running that state. That is part of the message they are sending to the world. Israel is a model of the Trump vision of a U.S. ally.
Trump’s fascist reconfiguring of U.S. foreign policy would create all kinds of chaos in the Middle East. It would put the reactionary rulers of U.S. allies like Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey in extremely untenable positions. The credibility of those regimes rests, in part, on presenting themselves as defenders of the Palestinian people (and defenders of Islam). What Trump proposes to do would create new dangers and opportunities for global rivals like Russia and China, and regional powers like Iran, with a wide range of terrible and unpredictable results up to and including nuclear war. And what Trump is setting out to do would undoubtedly ratchet up the level of the hellish clash between Western imperialism and fundamentalist Islamic Jihad.
Trump’s “solution” to everything his policies would provoke is what he repeatedly promised in his campaign: torture (“a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding”), censorship, legal persecution and mob violence against dissent, and war—including a vastly increased likelihood of using nuclear weapons. (See: “What Would It Mean to Have a ‘Madman’ in the White House With His Finger on the Nuclear Trigger?”). His promise that come January 21, all constraints on Israel will be removed is a piece of that picture.
For what a Trump regime would mean to the Palestinian people, to the Middle East, and for what it would mean to humanity, it must be stopped before it starts.
May 2014, a 54-year-old man sits in front of his demolished home in the Palestinian Bedouin community Jabal al-Baba, with the Israeli settlement of Maaleh Adumim in the background. Photo: AP (Click photo above to enlarge)
This 2005 map of the West Bank of Palestine shows part of the reality of the on-going ethnic cleansing against the Palestinian people. The land allotted to Palestinians has been chopped down to the atomized, disconnected portions shown by the two darkest shades of brown on the map. The West Bank, along with the Gaza Strip, is less than 30% of the land of historic Palestine (before the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948) and in 1991 it was promised to Palestinians as part of the "two state solution." Map: PalMap.org (Click map above to enlarge)
Above: An area of Gaza City destroyed by Israeli airstrikes in August 2014. Israel committed war crimes, pounding Gaza in a massively disproportionate assault: over 6000 airstrikes, plus tank shelling in which 2,251 Palestinians were killed, including 1,462 Palestinian civilians, of whom 299 were women and 551 children. That was with U.S. support from the Obama administration. Imagine what it would mean for a Trump regime to "unleash" Israel in a qualitatively more aggressive way. Photo: AP
For background on the nature and role of Israel see the special Revolution/revcom.us issue: The Case of Israel: Bastion of Enlightenment or Enforcer for Imperialism?
Revolution #472 January 2, 2017
Updated March 23, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Editor's note: Important voices are calling out the ominous implications of a Trump presidency from a range of viewpoints. And challenging people to confront what that means, and to resist.
Voices of Conscience posted on this page
(click to read or watch):
We are USC Faculty.
We are scientists, artists, and thinkers from over 115 countries, working together every day, side by side, to understand the world around us and to share what we’ve learned with future generations.
We proudly affirm the core mission of the university as a place for the generation of knowledge, the preservation of scholarship, and informed discussion and debate, all of which are vital to a healthy democracy.
We will vigorously defend our core values of academic freedom, high standards of evidence, free inquiry, openness, and inclusion against policies and actions driven by fear, bigotry, and propaganda.
We are committed to:
— protecting the human rights of our students, our fellow faculty, staff, and all members of the USC community, irrespective of their race, gender, sexual orientation, ability, religion, nationality, or citizenship status.
— supporting and encouraging all university efforts to provide critical resources for staff, students and faculty who are most vulnerable and at greatest risk.
— supporting faculty, students, and staff who engage in civil disobedience and protest if members of the academic community are harmed or deported due to targeted state actions.
We will Fight On!
In his article "No President who ever owned human beings should be honored" on March 15, Shaun King wrote in the New York Daily News that Adolf Hitler "is a monster who should never be honored," and continued:
Just as this is true for Hitler, it is true for any American President who ever owned human beings and forced them into a life of slavery. The Holocaust and slavery are each an unjust disgrace.
King details the monstrous horrors of slavery and then calls out Trump:
Today, Donald Trump is going out of his way to honor President Andrew Jackson. He should never be honored. Over his lifetime his family owned at least 300 human beings. This is terrible and no contribution he made in his life will ever outweigh this fact. To this very day, Andrew Jackson's own estate openly admits that the key source of his wealth came from owning human beings and forcing them to work on his plantation. At the time Jackson died, he owned about 150 people. He was a full-fledged unrepentant bigot. The enslaved Africans on his plantation were often whipped and beaten. If they escaped, fugitive squads searched for them and returned them back to the plantation. One advertisement put out by Jackson for a runaway slave offered $10 for every 100 lashes given to the slave who was caught. Is that not sick to you?
This makes Andrew Jackson a monster. Nothing he did as President of the United States is good enough to look past this.
The same holds true for every single American President who owned human beings.
Read the whole article here
Michael Bennett, who plays for the Seattle Seahawks, who participated in the pro football players’ national anthem protest, and who refused to be a shill for Israel against the Palestinian people (see “Pro Football Player Michael Bennett Refuses to Be a Shill for Israel” Revolution, February 14, 2017, revcom.us), had his statement in support of the women’s strike on International Women’s Day read by Dave Zirin on his podcast.
Here are some excerpts from Bennett’s statement:
“As a Black man in America sometimes I get overwhelmed and discouraged by what I see, from the police killings of unarmed Black men to the unequal educational system to mass incarceration, but when I look into my daughter’s eyes, I see the courage of Harriet Tubman, the patience of Rosa Parks, the soul of Ida B. Wells, the passion of Fanny Lou Hamer, and the heart of Angela Davis. I see the future. I see hope. And, I’m inspired because it will be women who lead the future. So, I’m writing this to express my unconditional solidarity for the women’s strike on International Women’s Day, March 8th.”
“It’s about the women across the Earth who are suffering. Women not so worried about the glass ceiling because they are trying to survive a collapsing floor. It’s about women of color across the Earth who live on less than one dollar a day. It’s about all women who are subject to sexual assault and violence.
“I stand with the women’s strike because I agree with their unity statement that reads that this day is ‘organized by and for women who have been marginalized and silenced by decades of neoliberalism directed towards working women, women of color, Native women, disabled women, immigrant women, Muslim women, and lesbian women.’”
“I encourage my fellow football players to take off their helmets and stand with these brave women across the world.”
“We need change, and to quote Frederick Douglass, ‘Without struggle, there is no progress.’”
(The statement is 35 minutes into the podcast at https://www.thenation.com/article/the-edge-of-sports-podcast-the-enduring-legacy-of-hoop-dreams/)
As of March 1, more than 230 former ABC News correspondents, executives and producers have signed a letter urging the network’s top executive to take a firm stand against any Trump administration effort to curtail press access. The letter was written after White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer held a briefing on February 24 and, in an unprecedented move, excluded several news organizations that have done stories Trump didn’t like.
The letter called the February 24 incident “an alarming new development enacted by an administration that has declared war on respected news outlets” and asked James Goldston, president of ABC News, to “take a public stand” and “Refuse to take part in any future White House briefings based on an invitation list of who’s in/who’s out.” The letter noted that there has been strong public protest by Dean Baquet, executive editor of the New York Times, and statements by the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg that they would not participate in future briefing where reporters are barred.
Signees include former White House correspondent Sam Donaldson; former ABC reporters Ken Kashiwahara, Jeanne Meserve and Lynn Sherr; four former executives and four former executive producers of “World News Tonight” and top leaders at “Nightline,” “20/20″ and “Good Morning America.” Kayce Freed Jennings, the widow of the late anchor Peter Jennings, was also one of the signers.
ABC News is one of the media organizations Trump has labeled as the “enemy of the American people” and “fake news.” ABC was allowed into the Spicer briefing, while CNN, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Politico and BuzzFeed were denied access. Reporters from other organizations, including the Associated Press, USA Today and Time magazine, refused to attend the briefing in protest.
Tim Rogers is senior editor for Latin America at the cable and satellite TV channel Fusion. After Trump’s February 28 speech to Congress, Rogers wrote a piece titled “Calling Trump’s speech ‘presidential’ is the first step to normalizing fascism” (March 1, 2017) noting that “talking heads were quick to applaud Trump for acting ‘presidential.’” Rogers goes on to say:
But Trump’s speech to Congress was only presidential by fascist standards. What Trump laid out, in the methodical words penned by an ideologue behind the throne, was a frightening vision of a country under siege by foreign hordes that are trying to establish a “beachhead of terrorism” to convert the United States into a “sanctuary for extremists.”
Trump depicted a dark world in which the U.S. is fighting “a network of lawless savages” that it must “extinguish ...from our planet.”
Trump was talking about ISIS in that instance, but his fear-mongering over foreigners wasn’t limited to Islamic State fighters any more than the travel ban was limited to Muslims from seven countries. The narrative of barbarians at the gate was woven throughout Trump’s speech, which seemed to build on George W. Bush’s worldview of “You’re either with us, or against us.” But Trump’s view is even racist and alienating by W’s standards.
From his call to build a border wall as “a very effective weapon against drugs and crime,” to reiterating his appallingly cynical pledge to create a new Homeland Security Office to “serve American victims” of crimes committed by immigrants, Trump’s whole speech was to lay out a dichotomy of us versus them, or “America first” in Trumpspeak. ...
When the speech was over, Trump lackeys congratulated themselves on a “home run”—actually, make that a “grand slam.”
But even normally critical pundits said they thought Trump looked “presidential.”
That’s dangerous thinking. Calling Trump’s fear-mongering “presidential” is a first step to normalizing fascism. It’s granting acceptance to the dangerous fascists skulking behind the golden curtains of the Oval Office.
Anderson Cooper 360° ✔ @AC360: Van Jones: Trump “became President of the United States” when he honored the widow of the Navy SEAL killed in Yemen. ...
In an America where Trump’s speech can be called “presidential,” it’ll be a slippery slope to despotism.
Read Tim Roger’s article in its entirety here.
“American citizens had their introduction to the Trump-era immigration machine Wednesday...” So begins “Papers, Please,” an article that appeared in The Atlantic online on February 27, about the February 22 domestic flight from SFO to JFK airport where every passenger was told by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents to show their ID before they could get off the plane. The agents claimed they were looking for a passenger who was undocumented and had a criminal record; it turned out that the person they sought was not on the plane.
In the article, written by Garrett Epps, legal scholar, novelist, and contributing editor to The Atlantic, he examines all possible legal authorities and concludes that there is no justification in U.S. law for what was done to the passengers on that plane. And then Epps, demonstrating the courage of his convictions, writes:
“I am vowing, here and now, not to show papers in this situation. I know that it will take gumption to follow through if the situation arises. What will be the reaction of ordinary travelers, some with outstanding warrants or other legal worries? Should we expect heroism of people who just want to get off an airplane?”
Mem Fox, an award winning author from Australia, was pulled off an airplane when she arrived at Los Angeles International Airport and held in detention for almost two hours and interrogated for 15 minutes. In an op-ed article in The Guardian, she tells of her terrifying, belligerent, and violent experience.
She describes the room “like a waiting room in a hospital but a bit more grim than that.... There was no water, no toilet... Everything was yelled...” She said that she “heard things happening in that room happening to other people that made me ashamed to be human.”
She describes an elderly Iranian woman in a wheelchair where they were yelling at her at the top of their voices—“Arabic? Arabic?” They screamed at her “ARABIC?” She told them “Farsi.” A woman from Taiwan was being yelled at about how she made her money: Does it grow on trees? Does it fall from the sky?” Mem said, “...the agony I was surrounded by in that room was like a razor blade across my heart.”
When she was called to be interviewed, she was degraded, and called it “monstrous.” She told them that she writes books about exclusivity. She had one of her books in her bag and said, “I am all about inclusivity, humanity and the oneness of the humans of the world; it’s the theme of my life.” He yelled at her, “I can read!” She was standing the whole time and said, “The belligerence and violence of it was really terrifying. I had to hold the heel of my right hand to my heart to stop it beating so hard.”
Claudia Koonz is a historian of Nazi Germany and the author of Mothers in the Fatherland: Women, the Family and Nazi Politics, The Nazi Conscience, and other works. She was interviewed on The Michael Slate Show on KPFK Pacifica Radio on February 10. This is a transcript of the interview, slightly edited for length and clarity.
Michael Slate: In broad strokes, let’s talk about how fascism developed in Germany.
Claudia Koonz: OK. First of all, let’s remember that nobody ever heard of Hitler until the early 1930s. He was unemployed. The only steady job he ever had in his life was when he fought in World War I for four years. He was quite brave.
This was a splinter party. As late as 1928, ten years after the defeat in World War I, the Nazis got 2.6% of the vote. 1930, they got 18% of the vote. 1932 they were up to the high point ever, 37.4% of the vote. So, the Nazis were never voted into power. Hitler was appointed into power.
So the question is, how did this disreputable, fringe party of loudmouth, brawling Stormtroopers get from a tiny splinter party to the center in 1932, which put Hitler in position to get appointed as chancellor?
The singer John Legend has won ten Grammy Awards, one Golden Globe Award, and one Academy Award. He will be playing Frederick Douglass in the second season of the WGN series Underground. In a recent interview in the New York Times Magazine he was asked, “Has there been a piece of art that has affected you politically?” He replied:
Books have certainly affected me. In college, I took a class that centered on a book called “Obedience to Authority,” which was trying to explain why an ordinary German would be a worker at a concentration camp, or why anyone would be part of a system that is so evil and corrosive, and how they deal with authority and whatever cognitive dissonance they need to have to do something so inhumane. Then we read some James Joyce and Virginia Woolf; all those books in that class opened my eyes to the way human beings deal with authority and deal with how we become inhumane. I took those classes 20 years ago, but I’ve been thinking about that a lot when I think about how we’re reacting to Donald Trump right now.
The interviewer then asked, “How are you applying that thought process to contemporary times?” Legend said:
Yeah, are we just going to go about our lives and try to be normal? I’ve seen a tweet going around about how a lot of people say that they would have been part of the civil rights movement, so this is basically that chance, this moment of truth for our society. Are we going to just accept inhumanity, or are we going to resist?
Read the New York Times Magazine interview with John Legend here.
On February 21, Donald Trump issued a statement supposedly condemning anti-Semitic attacks on Jewish institutions. At his February 16 press conference, Trump had insulted and bullied a correspondent from an Orthodox Jewish news agency who asked if Trump could condemn the wave of threats against Jewish institutions. Trump cut him off, yelled “quiet!” and “sit down” and ranted that this was “a very insulting question.” Trump then declared himself “the least anti-Semitic person that you've ever seen in your entire life” while refusing the reporter’s request to condemn attacks on Jewish institutions. Days after this, on February 20, Jewish community centers in ten states were targeted with bomb threats and forced to evacuate. There were also 170 graves at an historic Jewish cemetery in Missouri desecrated in the last few days.
Immediately after Trump’s February 21st statement, the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect posted a response on Facebook. The Center takes inspiration from Anne Frank, a Jewish teenager hunted down and killed by the Nazis. Her Diary is a famous chronicle of hiding out from the Nazis. The center “calls out prejudice, counters discrimination and advocates for the kinder and fairer world of which Anne Frank dreamed.”
The statement said in part:
The President’s sudden acknowledgement is a Band-Aid on the cancer of Antisemitism that has infected his own Administration. His statement today is a pathetic asterisk of condescension after weeks in which he and his staff have committed grotesque acts and omissions reflecting Antisemitism, yet day after day have refused to apologize and correct the record. Make no mistake: The Antisemitism coming out of this Administration is the worst we have ever seen from any Administration. The White House repeatedly refused to mention Jews in its Holocaust remembrance, and had the audacity to take offense when the world pointed out the ramifications of Holocaust denial. And it was only yesterday, President’s Day, that Jewish Community Centers across the nation received bomb threats, and the President said absolutely nothing.
Members of Berkeley Law (University of California, Berkeley School of Law) are taking a public stand against Trump’s executive orders intensifying repression against immigrants and on the U.S.-Mexico border through a #NoBanNoWall photo project. Close-up photos of faculty and staff members show them with handwritten or printed signs.
Their statement reads:
President Trump’s immigration executive orders, enforcement actions, and xenophobic threats directly impact members of our law school community.
They undermine the public mission of our university to ensure access to the talented pool of students and researchers that reflects the diversity in the State of California and the world.
They attack the ability of the university to fulfill its unique role as a site for the generation of knowledge and the free exchange of ideas among students, faculty, and staff of all nationalities, backgrounds, and creeds.
They threaten our values of diversity and inclusion, which ensure a vibrant democracy.
We oppose the executive orders and President Trump’s attacks on certain communities.
We are committed to maintaining the law school as a just and inclusive community.
The PDF of the poster is available here.
When you go to the website, Hands Off Our Revolution, the first thing you see is the flashing words: HANDS OFF OUR BORDERS... WATER... AIR... LAND... CITIES... HOMES... PLANET... BODIES... HEALTH... JUSTICE... FRIENDS... FAMILIES... LOVES.... LIVES...
More than 200 artists, writers, photographers, musicians and curators from around the world—including well-known figures such as Anish Kapoor, Steve McQueen, Laurie Anderson, Ed Ruscha, Matthew Barney, Rosalind Krauss, Maya Lin, Hank Willis Thomas, Catherine Opie, Yinka Shonibare, David Byrne, and Michael Stipe—have joined this spirit of resistance, signing the following Mission Statement:
We are a global coalition affirming the radical nature of art. We believe that art can help counter the rising rhetoric of right-wing populism, fascism and the increasingly stark expressions of xenophobia, racism, sexism, homophobia and unapologetic intolerance.
We know that freedom is never granted—it is won. Justice is never given—it is exacted. Both must be fought for and protected, yet their promise has seldom been so fragile, so close to slipping from our grasp, as at this moment.
As artists, it is our job and our duty to reimagine and reinvent social relations threatened by right-wing populist rule. It is our responsibility to stand together in solidarity. We will not go quietly. It is our role and our opportunity, using our own particular forms, private and public spaces, to engage people in thinking together and debating ideas, with clarity, openness and resilience.
The website also announces a project to do a “series of contemporary art exhibitions and actions that confront, head on, the rise of right-wing populism in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere... to help envision and shape the world in which we want to live.”
The Mission Statement in 10 different languages and the full description of the project are online at handsoffourrevolution.com.
Bennett, who plays in the NFL (National Football League) for the Seattle Seahawks, announced he will not be joining an NFL delegation to Israel.
Bennett has been involved in the struggle by professional athletes to protest police brutality. He took up the protest in the NFL started by San Francisco 49er Colin Kaepernick, who refused to stand for the national anthem. Bennett called for white athletes to take a stand against police murders, saying “You need a white guy to join the fight. The white guy is super important to the fight. For people to really see social injustices, there must be someone from the other side of the race who recognizes the problem, because a lot of times if just one race says there’s a problem, nobody is realistic about it.” Bennett has also posted photos and quotes from Black Panther leader Fred Hampton on his Instagram page.
Bennett had originally planned to be on the delegation because he wanted to have interaction with both Palestinian and Israeli people. But he learned from an article in the Times of Israel that the trip would isolate him from the Palestinian people and turn him into a “goodwill ambassador.” Then he read an open letter in The Nation magazine, signed by John Carlos, Danny Glover, Harry Belafonte, Alice Walker, and others calling on the athletes to ”reconsider taking this trip to ensure you are standing on the right side of history.”
Bennett then wrote an open letter that he posted on Instagram and Twitter.
Actor Meryl Streep received the National Ally for Equality Award at a fundraising gala held by the Human Rights Campaign, a national LGBTQ civil rights organization, on Saturday night, February 11. In her acceptance speech, Streep said:
[F]undamentalists, of every stripe everywhere, are exercised and fuming. We should not be surprised that these profound changes come at a steeper cost than we originally thought. We should not be surprised that not everyone is totally down with it.
If we live through this precarious moment, if his catastrophic instinct to retaliate doesn’t lead us to nuclear winter, we will have much to thank this president for. He will have woken us up to how fragile freedom is....
I am the most overrated, overdecorated and, currently, over-berated actress, who likes football, of my generation. But that is why you invited me here! Right?
The weight of all these honors is part of what brings me to this podium. It compels me, against every one of my natural instincts (which is to stay home), it compels me to stand up in front of people and say words that haven’t been written for me, but that come from my life and my conviction and that I have to stand by....
It’s terrifying to put the target on your forehead. ... And it sets you up for all sorts of attacks and armies of brownshirts and bots and worse, and the only way you can do it is if you feel you have to. You have to. You don't have an option, but you have to stand up and speak up and act up.
Hear Meryl Streep’s whole speech here.
The Grammy Awards on Sunday night, February 12, closed with an electrifying set by the legendary hip-hop crew A Tribe Called Quest joined by Busta Rhymes, Anderson .Paak, and Consequence. At mid-point in the Tribe’s medley of several songs, Busta Rhymes came—on and focused right on the outrages being carried out by Trump and his regime: “I’m not feeling the political climate right now. I just want to thank President Agent Orange for perpetuating all of the evil that you’ve been perpetuating throughout the United States. I want to thank President Agent Orange for your unsuccessful attempt at the Muslim ban. When we come together—we the people, we the people, people!” As he said those words, Tribe member Q-Tip, along with a woman wearing a hijab and others, bust through a wall on the stage.
Q-Tip then launched into the Tribe song “We the People.” And as he went into the hook, which sarcastically hits at those who spew hate and intolerance—“All you Black folks you must go/All you Mexicans you must go/And all you poor folks, you must go/Muslims and gays, boy, we hate your ways/So all you bad folks, you must go”—a diverse grouping of people of different nationalities, genders, and style of clothing walked up on to the stage. The performers all lined up at one point with fists in the air, and protest signs reading “No Wall No Ban” and photos of different faces were projected in the background.
The powerful performance, inspiring performance closed with the chants from the stage: “Resist! Resist! Resist!”
On Tuesday, February 7, on CNBC’s Halftime Report, Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank called Trump “a real asset for the country” and lauded his plans to “make bold decisions and be really decisive.” The next day, ballerina Misty Copeland, actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and NBA star Steph Curry, who all have endorsement deals with the athletic clothing company, spoke out against Plank.
Copeland wrote in an Instagram post, “I strongly disagree with Kevin Plank’s recent comments in support of Trump.” In a Facebook post, Johnson said Plank’s comments were “neither my words, nor my beliefs” and said that he would ultimately “stand with this diverse team, the American and global workers, who are the beating heart and soul of Under Armour.” Curry told the San Jose Mercury News that he agreed with Plank’s comment on Trump... “if you remove the ‘et’” from the word “asset.” When asked if he would abandon Under Armour, Curry said that if “the leadership is not in line with my core values, then there is no amount of money, there is no platform I wouldn’t jump off if it wasn’t in line with who I am.” Curry went on to say, “So that’s a decision I will make every single day when I wake up. If something is not in line with what I’m about, then, yeah, I definitely need to take a stance in that respect.”
George Prochnik wrote the book The Impossible Exile: Stefan Zweig at the End of the World (2015). Zweig was an Austrian novelist, playwright, journalist, and biographer who at the height of his literary career in the 1920s and ’30s, was one of the world’s most popular writers and most widely translated living author. Zweig was a Jewish intellectual and his books were burned in Berlin in 1933. Like millions of others, with the rise of Hitler, he was driven into exile. Zweig went to London, New York, and then to Brazil where he committed suicide in 1942. Prochnik wrote a piece in the February 6 issue of The New Yorker, “When It’s Too Late To Stop Fascism, According to Stefan Zweig.” Prochnik says when Zweig sat down to write his biography, “He was determined to trace how the Nazis’ reign of terror had become possible, and how he and so many others had been blind to its beginnings.” Zweig wrote: “the big democratic newspapers, instead of warning their readers, reassured them day by day, that the [fascist] movement ... would inevitably collapse in no time” and that Hitler had “elevated lying to a matter of course.”
Reading in Zweig’s memoir how, during the years of Hitler’s rise to power, many well-meaning people “could not or did not wish to perceive that a new technique of conscious cynical amorality was at work,” it’s difficult not to think of our own present predicament. Last week, as Trump signed a drastic immigration ban that led to an outcry across the country and the world, then sought to mitigate those protests by small palliative measures and denials, I thought of one other crucial technique that Zweig identified in Hitler and his ministers: they introduced their most extreme measures gradually—strategically—in order to gauge how each new outrage was received. “Only a single pill at a time and then a moment of waiting to observe the effect of its strength, to see whether the world conscience would still digest the dose,” Zweig wrote. “The doses became progressively stronger until all Europe finally perished from them.”...
In Zweig’s view, the final toxin needed to precipitate German catastrophe came in February of 1933, with the burning of the national parliament building in Berlin—an arson attack Hitler blamed on the communists but which some historians still believe was carried out by the Nazis themselves. “At one blow all of justice in Germany was smashed,” Zweig recalled. The destruction of a symbolic edifice—a blaze that caused no loss of life—became the pretext for the government to begin terrorizing its own civilian population. That fateful conflagration took place less than 30 days after Hitler became chancellor. The excruciating power of Zweig’s memoir lies in the pain of looking back and seeing that there was a small window in which it was possible to act, and then discovering how suddenly and irrevocably that window can be slammed shut.
To read the whole article, go here.
In a February 8 paid ad in the Staten Island Advance newspaper, 33 professors at Wagner College, a liberal arts college in New York City, denounced Trump’s executive orders and other actions. The statement is in the form of an open letter to Representative Dan Donovan, a Republican congressman from a district on Staten Island, who supported Trump’s executive order banning refugees and immigrants from seven majority-Muslim countries saying it was “in America’s best interest.” The Wagner professors’ statement said they “first and foremost” condemn that ban, saying that “this order creates religious discrimination and does so intentionally.”
The professors also condemned Trump’s removal of any mention of climate change and LGBTQ rights from the White House website, Trump’s attacks on the press and fact-based journalism, and his continued profit-making from his global holdings. They ended their statement with: “We believe the above actions, among others, taken by the Trump Administration are a threat to our democracy, our economy, our American values, our international alliances, and the ideals of citizenship and respect for knowledge and diversity that we strive to foster in our students.”
Read the statement and list of signatories (PDF) here.
From a reader:
This week GQ published an article by Jay Willis, “Gregg Popovich and Steve Kerr Would Make a Great Presidential Ticket” where “these two have no time for the ‘stick to sports’ bullshit.” Kerr and Popovich, both who are white, have been close friends since Kerr played for the San Antonio Spurs, coached by Popovich. Kerr coaches the Golden State Warriors in the San Francisco Bay Area.
When Popovich was asked about Black History Month he said,
“But more than anything, I think if people take the time to think about it, I think it is our national sin. It always intrigues me when people come out with, ‘I’m tired of talking about that or do we have to talk about race again?’ And the answer is you’re damned right we do. Because it’s always there, and it’s systemic in the sense that when you talk about opportunity it’s not about ‘Well, if you lace up your shoes and you work hard, then you can have the American dream.’ That’s a bunch of hogwash. If you were born white, you automatically have a monstrous advantage educationally, economically, culturally in this society and all the systemic roadblocks that exist, whether it’s in a judicial sense, a neighborhood sense with laws, zoning, education, we have huge problems in that regard that are very complicated, but take leadership, time, and real concern to try to solve. It’s a tough one because people don’t really want to face it.”
Kerr was born in Lebanon, where his father was president of the American University of Beirut. His father was murdered at the university by two men in 1984, and soon after an unknown Islamic group called the press to claim responsibility. Kerr weighed in on Trump’s Muslim Ban this past week when he said,
“As someone whose family member is a victim of terrorism, having lost my father—if we’re trying to combat terrorism by banishing people from coming to this country, we’re really going against the principles of what our country is about, and creating fear. It’s the wrong way to go about it. If anything, we could be breeding anger and terror, so I’m completely against what’s happening. I think it’s shocking. I think it’s a horrible idea and I feel for all the people who are affected, families are being torn apart.”
Kerr also had something to say about the liars in the Trump administration when he told reporters after a game with the Orlando Magic that “Sean Spicer will be talking about my Magic career any second now. 14,000 points. Greatest player in Magic history.” Kerr actually scored 5,437 points while playing in the NBA from 1988-2003.
In a February 3 article for the Advocate titled "Trump's Executive Orders: Divide and Conquer," Shawn Gaylord, advocacy counsel for Human Rights First focusing on LGBT issues, makes an important point about how Trump must not be allowed to pit different sections of the people against each other.
Gaylord writes, "I am sure I am not alone in reading through each statement and each executive order [from Trump] with a sense of foreboding as we watch community after community being targeted by a government that seems determined to roll back the progress of the last few decades." He notes that so far Trump's executive orders have not "specifically targeted people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity," though, as he points out, among the sections of the people targeted so far—women, refugees, immigrants, religious minorities, people of color—LGBT people are part of each.
Noting that there is one direct mention of "sexual orientation" is Trump's executive order banning immigrants and refugees from seven mainly Muslim countries, Gaylord writes:
A quick read might cause you to think it was actually a move to protect LGBT people. But on closer examination, you quickly realize that what is at play is something we dreaded all along. The protection of LGBT people is cited as a justification for a set of cruel and unnecessary new immigration policies that, no matter how carefully worded they might be, amount to a Muslim ban.
The "Purpose" section, which purports to explain what the executive order is designed to accomplish, notes, "The United States should not admit ... those who would oppress members of one race, one gender, or sexual orientation." It is not clear exactly how immigration authorities would know which individuals "would" take such actions, although I suspect they will turn to broad generalizations about religious groups. This language, like other sections of the order, seems clearly designed to target Muslims. We saw this coming and we cannot let it stand....
The Trump administration seems to be employing every tactic at its disposal, but one of the most egregious is this strategy of "divide and conquer." By appealing to the shared desire that LGBT people might live their lives free from violence, the Trump administration is hoping we will turn that desire into fear and hatred of another marginalized community. He did it after Orlando, he did it with this executive order, and I would call on the entire LGBT community to stand up and say "not in our name."
Read Shawn Gaylord's article at the Advocate web site.
When Trump signed the executive order banning Muslims from seven countries from entering the U.S., one of the people affected was a first-year internal medicine student at the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic hospital, Dr. Suha Abushamma. Even though she has a legal visa and documents allowing her to legally study and work in the United States, she was not allowed to re-enter the country because she has a passport from Sudan—one of the seven banned countries—and was forcibly diverted to Saudi Arabia.
Her colleagues at the Cleveland Clinic, along with more than 1,400 other medical students, doctors, and other medical staff have issued an open letter criticizing the heads of the hospital for not taking a stand against Trump's Muslim ban. The letter points out that far from condemning Trump's actions, "the Cleveland Clinic silently continues to promote ties with the Trump administration." In fact, an upcoming Cleveland Clinic fundraiser—with tickets costing upwards of $100,000—is scheduled to be held at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.
The open letter says:
Through this action you are supporting a president who has, in his first ten days in office, reinstated the global gag rule, weakened the Affordable Care Act, fast-tracked construction of both the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines through legally protected native lands, and banned legal U.S. residents from majority-Muslim countries. All of these actions directly harm human health and well-being in the United States and abroad. Your willingness to hold your fundraiser at a Trump resort is an unconscionable prioritization of profit over people. It is impossible for the Cleveland Clinic to reconcile supporting its employees and patients while simultaneously financially and publicly aiding an individual who directly harms them.
The open letter and list of signatories is available here
After Trump announced the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court seat that has been empty since Antonio Scalia died last year (see “Trump Picks ‘Scalia Clone’ to Replace Scalia on the Supreme Court“), the pro-choice group NARAL issued a statement saying in part:
...President Trump’s decision to speed up the announcement of his Supreme Court nominee will not distract from the hundreds of thousands of Americans demonstrating in the streets and at airports. After Trump’s disastrous first week on the job—from his global gag rule to his travel ban on Muslims—we cannot afford to elevate his destructive agenda with a lifetime appointment to our nation’s highest court.
With Judge Neil Gorsuch, the stakes couldn’t be higher when it comes to women and our lives. Gorsuch represents an existential threat to legal abortion in the United States and must never wear the robes of a Supreme Court justice.
With a clear track record of supporting an agenda that undermines abortion access and endangers women, there is no doubt that Gorsuch is a direct threat to Roe v. Wade and the promise it holds for women’s equality. The fact that the court has repeatedly reaffirmed Roe over the past four decades would no longer matter, just as facts often don’t seem to matter to President Trump. Confirming Gorsuch to a lifetime on the Supreme Court would make good on Trump’s repeated promises to use his appointments to overturn Roe v. Wade and punish women.
NARAL and our 1.2 million member-activists call on the Senate to reject Trump’s nominee using any and all available means, including the filibuster.
The complete statement from NARAL on Trump’s nomination of Gorsuch is online here.
At the Screen Actors Guild award on January 29, Emma Stone won the award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role for her work in the film La La Land. In her acceptance speech she said:
We’re in a really tricky time in the world and our country and things are very inexcusable and scary and need action and I’m so grateful to be part of a group of people that cares and that wants to reflect things back to society.
Later in an interview backstage, she said:
We have to speak up against injustice, and we have to kick some ass.... I was thinking about art this year, and that in a time like this, for so many, horrific things are happening. It’s so special to be a part of people who want to reflect what’s happening back to the world and to make people happy. I would hope that people would fight for what’s right and what’s just fucking human....
I think if we’re human beings, and we see injustice, we have to speak up, because staying silent, as they say, only really helps the oppressor. It never helps the victim. So I think that, yes, right now, I would hope that everyone, when seeing things being done that are absolutely unconstitutional and inhumane, would say something, anything. Whether it’s at school or at an awards show or work, offices, or online.
Saira Rafiee, an Iranian Ph.D. student in political science at the CUNY (City University of New York) Graduate Center, was traveling back to the U.S. from Iran when Trump issued the executive order banning people from seven majority Muslim countries, including Iran, from entering the U.S. Rafiee, an Iranian citizen, was visiting family and was on her way back to New York, with legal documents, to resume her work and studies at CUNY.
Saira Rafiee wrote on Facebook about what happened:
I got on the flight to Abu Dhabi, but there at the airport was told that I would not be able to enter the U.S. I had to stay there for nearly 18 hours, along with 11 other Iranians, before getting on the flight back to Tehran. I have no clue whether I would ever be able to go back to the school I like so much, or to see my dear friends there. But my story isn’t as painful and terrifying as many other stories I have heard these days
The sufferings of all of us are just one side of this horrendous order. The other side is the struggle against racism and fascism, against assaults on freedom and human dignity, against all the values that even though are far from being realized, are the only things that would make life worth living. As a student of sociology and political science, I have devoted a major part of my scholarly life to the study of authoritarianism. The media has published enough statistics during the past few days to show how irrelevant this order is to the fight against terrorism. It is time to call things by their true names; this is Islamophobia, racism, fascism. We, the 99% of the world, need to stand united in resisting the authoritarian forces all over the world.
Ben Cohen is the founder and editor of The Daily Banter (thedailybanter.com). Originally from London and now living in Washington, DC, he has written for the Huffington Post and ESPN.com. His January 27 article, “Trump's Weekly List of Crimes Committed by Immigrants is Straight Up Fascism,” says in part:
Adding to his list of executive orders and policy proposals designed to roll back civil liberties, wreck the environment and insult foreign nations, the Trump administration is also mandating that Homeland Security “make public a comprehensive list of criminal actions committed by aliens.” This was included in Trump's new executive order on immigration, and according to the Independent, "Will also include details of so-called ‘sanctuary cities’ that refuse to hand over immigrant residents for deportation"...
Make no mistake about it, this is straight up fascism... nothing more than a nasty scare tactic designed to instill fear in white Americans and create a new way of dividing the country along ethnic identity lines. We have seen this over and over again throughout history. Fascist dictators rise to power through the scapegoating of immigrants and minorities, then hold onto office by continuing the tactic. The Trump administration clearly believes it is a winning formula and Trump has made so called "illegals" the focal point of his first few days in office. From insisting that he only lost the popular vote due to (completely non-existent) widespread voter fraud to his executive order to build a wall stopping Mexicans from entering the country, Trump is betting big on white fear keeping him in office. The weekly list of immigrant crime is appalling and will simply fan the flames of xenophobia and hate....
Read Cohen’s article here.
On January 28, singer Rihanna tweeted:
Disgusted! The news is devastating! America is being ruined right before our eyes! What an immoral pig you have to be to implement such BS!!
As of January 30, there have been 175,000 re-tweets of this Rihanna tweet.
On Sunday night, January 29, the Netflix series Stranger Things won the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble. A capsule description of the series says: “In a small Indiana town in the early 1980s, a boy goes missing after finding something sinister lurking in the woods. Nearby, a girl with extraordinary powers escapes from a sinister government facility and joins together with the boy’s friends to get him back.” At the televised SAG award show, David Harbour, who plays Chief Hopper in the series, stepped up to the mic to accept the award on behalf of the cast. After making a number of acknowledgements he turned to current events. He called on his fellow actors to:
Go deeper and through our art battle against fear, self-centeredness, and exclusivity of our predominantly narcissistic culture.... As we act in the continuing narrative of Stranger Things, we 1983 Midwesterners will repel bullies. We will shelter freaks and outcasts, those who have no hope. We will get past the lies. We will hunt monsters! And when we are at a loss amidst the hypocrisy and the casual violence of certain individuals and institutions, we will, as per Chief Hopper, punch some people in the face when they seek to destroy the weak and the disenfranchised and the marginalized! And we will do it all with soul, with heart, and with joy. We thank you for this responsibility.
Three university science professors—Graham Coop, Professor of Evolution and Ecology, UC Davis; Michael B. Eisen, Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology, UC Berkeley; Molly Przeworski, Professor of Biological Sciences, Columbia University—have issued a statement in support of scientists within the government who are under attack.
Their message is as follows:
Governmental scientists employed at a subset of agencies have been forbidden from presenting their findings to the public. We have drafted the following response for distribution, and encourage other scientists to post it to their websites, when feasible.
In Defense of Science
We are deeply concerned by the Trump administration’s move to gag scientists working at various governmental agencies. The US government employs scientists working on medicine, public health, agriculture, energy, space, clean water and air, weather, the climate and many other important areas. Their job is to produce data to inform decisions by policymakers, businesses and individuals. We are all best served by allowing these scientists to discuss their findings openly and without the intrusion of politics. Any attack on their ability to do so is an attack on our ability to make informed decisions as individuals, as communities and as a nation.
If you are a government scientist who is blocked from discussing their work, we will share it on your behalf, publicly or with the appropriate recipients. You can email us at USScienceFacts@gmail.com.
Laurence Tribe, Professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard Law School and the Carl M. Loeb University Professor at Harvard University, sent out a series of tweets on January 28—as thousands of people protested at airports across the U.S. against the anti-Muslim order Trump signed the day before:
Vital to impeach and remove Trump before his cruel brand of bigotry and scapegoating seeps even more deeply into our national bloodstream.
Trump just said what he’s doing at the airports “is working out very nicely.” The man has no eyes, no brain, and no heart.
Trump must be impeached for abusing his power and shredding the Constitution more monstrously than any other President in American history.
The tragic scenes unfolding at JFK and other US airports expose Trump as a heartless merciless monster. He must be stopped.
Trump’s promise to prioritize Christian over Muslim refugees when the 90-day ban lifts violates the Religion Clauses of our First Amendment.
On January 25, Jewish Voices for Peace released the following statement in anticipation of Trump’s issuing of an executive order the next day targeting refugees and immigrants from mainly Muslim countries:
As the Trump administration follows through on the some of most harmful and alarming promises of his campaign, we will follow through on ours: to love, defend and fight alongside our friends, neighbors, and communities directly under attack.
Decades of racist, Islamophobic, and xenophobic policies and discourses around national security, the “War on Terror,” and immigration have laid the groundwork for this nightmare set of policies designed to target, profile, surveil and ban people due to their religion, race, national origin or legal status. These new policies will build on existing infrastructure, primarily impacting people who have fled from countries that the United States has bombed or invaded, as well as those whose local economies have been destroyed by our military operations and trade policies.
While the details of these new policies are still unfolding, we pledge to resist in every way that we can. We’ll put our hearts, souls, and bodies on the line to stop hateful and racist attacks. We will organize our communities to stand alongside our Muslim, immigrant & refugee neighbors, in the halls of Congress & government institutions, and in the streets.
We cannot let this stand.
“My heart breaks for the next generation with these fools in the white house. Asking us to give Trump a chance is like asking Jews to give Hitler a chance. I read that eight percent of blacks voted for him. That’s like a vote for slavery. I’m so proud of women for standing up at the Women’s Marches all over the country. In Washington it was so crowded that you couldn’t move. These women were telling Donald Trump ‘not on our watch’. Saying they won’t bow down or bend over and take the worse from him. Why take abortion and make us have children and then deny those kids healthcare?...
“Trump will not listen and only a fool would try to reason with him. He is beyond redemption.”
For the entire interview go here:
Philip Roth’s 2004 novel The Plot Against America imagines a scenario where there is a fascist takeover in America—through the ballot box. The aviation pioneer Charles Lindbergh—who in his day was one of the three or four biggest celebrities in the world and a Nazi sympathizer—sweeps the 1940 election in a landslide. Then, in steps both incremental and rapid, fascism comes in. At the time, Roth wrote in the New York Times Book Review that he did not intend to write this as a political roman à clef (a novel in which real people or events appear with invented names). He said he wanted to dramatize some “what-ifs” that never happened in America.
Now Roth is commenting about the current relevance of The Plot Against America. A piece titled “Philip Roth E-Mails On Trump” by Judith Thurman appears in the January 30 issue of The New Yorker. Thurman says Roth was asked via e-mail if the scenario in his book has now happened. Roth’s response, in part:
It isn’t Trump as a character, a human type—the real-estate type, the callow and callous killer capitalist—that outstrips the imagination. It is Trump as President of the United States.
I was born in 1933, the year that F.D.R. was inaugurated. He was President until I was twelve years old. I’ve been a Roosevelt Democrat ever since. I found much that was alarming about being a citizen during the tenures of Richard Nixon and George W. Bush. But, whatever I may have seen as their limitations of character or intellect, neither was anything like as humanly impoverished as Trump is: ignorant of government, of history, of science, of philosophy, of art, incapable of expressing or recognizing subtlety or nuance, destitute of all decency, and wielding a vocabulary of seventy-seven words that is better called Jerkish than English...
Unlike writers in Eastern Europe in the nineteen-seventies, American writers haven’t had their driver’s licenses confiscated and their children forbidden to matriculate in academic schools. Writers here don’t live enslaved in a totalitarian police state, and it would be unwise to act as if we did, unless—or until—there is a genuine assault on our rights and the country is drowning in Trump’s river of lies. In the meantime, I imagine writers will continue robustly to exploit the enormous American freedom that exists to write what they please, to speak out about the political situation, or to organize as they see fit...
My novel wasn’t written as a warning. I was just trying to imagine what it would have been like for a Jewish family like mine, in a Jewish community like Newark, had something even faintly like Nazi anti-Semitism befallen us in 1940, at the end of the most pointedly anti-Semitic decade in world history. I wanted to imagine how we would have fared, which meant I had first to invent an ominous American government that threatened us. As for how Trump threatens us, I would say that, like the anxious and fear-ridden families in my book, what is most terrifying is that he makes any and everything possible, including, of course, the nuclear catastrophe.
The New Yorker piece with quotes from Philip Roth is available online here.
Roger Cohen is an author and columnist for the New York Times. Before becoming a columnist for the Times, he worked as a foreign correspondent in 15 countries. In the January 24 edition of the Times, his column titled “The Banal Belligerence of Donald Trump” said in part:
I have tried to tread carefully with analogies between the Fascist ideologies of 1930s Europe and Trump. American democracy is resilient. But the first days of the Trump presidency—whose roots of course lie in far more than the American military debacles since 9/11—pushed me over the top. The president is playing with fire.
To say, as he did, that the elected representatives of American democracy are worthless and that the people are everything is to lay the foundations of totalitarianism. It is to say that democratic institutions are irrelevant and all that counts is the great leader and the masses he arouses. To speak of “carnage” is to deploy the dangerous lexicon of blood, soil and nation. To boast of “a historic movement, the likes of which the world has never seen before” is to demonstrate consuming megalomania. To declaim “America first” and again, “America first,” is to recall the darkest clarion calls of nationalist dictators. To exalt protectionism is to risk a return to a world of barriers and confrontation. To utter falsehood after falsehood, directly or through a spokesman, is to foster the disorientation that makes crowds susceptible to the delusions of strongmen.
Trump’s outrageous claims have a purpose: to destroy rational thought. When Primo Levi arrived at Auschwitz he reached, in his thirst, for an icicle outside his window but a guard snatched it away. “Warum?” Levi asked (why?). To which the guard responded, “Hier ist kein warum” (here there is no why).
As the great historian Fritz Stern observed, “This denial of ‘why’ was the authentic expression of all totalitarianism, revealing its deepest meaning, a negation of Western civilization.”
Americans are going to have to fight for their civilization and the right to ask why against the banal belligerence of Trump.
Read the whole Cohen column here.
The poem, “I am a nasty woman” by 19-year-old Nina Donovan was performed by actress Ashley Judd at the Women’s March in Washington, DC on January 21. It starts:
I’m not nasty as a man who looks like he bathes in Cheetos dust.
A man whose words are a distract to America.
Electoral college-sanctioned, hate-speech contaminating this national anthem.
I’m not as nasty as Confederate flags being tattooed across my city.
Maybe the South actually is going to rise again.
Maybe for some it never really fell.
Blacks are still in shackles and graves, just for being black.
Slavery has been reinterpreted as the prison system in front of people who see melanin as animal skin.
I am not as nasty as a swastika painted on a pride flag, and I didn’t know devils could be resurrected but I feel Hitler in these streets.
A mustache traded for a toupee.
Nazis renamed the Cabinet Electoral Conversion Therapy, the new gas chambers shaming the gay out of America, turning rainbows into suicide.
I am not as nasty as racism, fraud, conflict of interest, homophobia, sexual assault, transphobia, white supremacy, misogyny, ignorance, white privilege ... your daughter being your favorite sex symbol, like your wet dreams infused with your own genes.
Yeah, I’m a nasty woman — a loud, vulgar, proud woman.
To listen to the whole poem performed by Ashley Judd go here:
The Sierra Club is the largest grassroots environmental organization in the U.S., with more than 2.7 million members and supporters. On the day of his inauguration, Trump released his energy plan (available on the White House website). In response, Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune released the following statement:
Minutes after he was sworn in, any illusion that Trump would act in the best interests of families in this country as President were wiped away by a statement of priorities that constitute an historic mistake on one of the key crises facing our planet and an assault on public health. What Trump has released is hardly a plan—it’s a polluter wishlist that will make our air and water dirtier, our climate and international relations more unstable, and our kids sicker. This is a shameful and dark start to Trump’s Presidency, and a slap in the face to any American who thought Trump might pursue the national interest.
Matthew Rothschild is the executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a nonprofit, nonpartisan political watchdog group. His January 21 article titled, “The fascist overtones in Trump’s inaugural address” starts underneath a photo of Benito Mussolini, leader of Italy's National Fascist Party from 1922 until 1943, and says in part:
It was hard to listen to Trump’s inaugural address without hearing some not-so-faint echoes of fascism.
The most obvious was his invocation of “America First” as the “new vision” that “will govern our land.” But it’s not a new vision or a new name. In fact, “America First” was the name of the isolationist and anti-Semitic organization in the 1930s that wanted to accommodate Nazi Germany.
But there were other echoes as well....
Like 20th century fascists, he extolled the nation’s “glorious destiny.” He saluted “the great men and women of our military and law enforcement.”
And then he invoked the divine will. “Most importantly,” he said, “we are protected by God.”
And let’s not forget that his campaign slogan and the coda to his inaugural address, “Make America great again,” itself strikes a fascist chord: nostalgia for national greatness, mixed with grievances (that can lead to scapegoating) about who is to blame for the loss of such greatness.
If you were looking for Trump to take the high ground in his inaugural address and call on “the better angels of ourselves,” you were kidding yourself.
That is not who he is. He is Trumpolini.
To read the whole article go here
Vanity cards have become a trademark for Chuck Lorre Productions. At the end of every episode of shows Lorre produces there are different messages that read somewhat like a comment or observation on life or what’s going on in society. This was done with shows Lorre produced like Dharma & Greg and Two and a Half Men. And these vanity cards appear at the end of The Big Bang Theory—the #1 comedy on TV for many seasons. On the eve of Donald Trump’s inauguration, the message that flashed across at the end of The Big Bang was the lyrics to George Harrison’s song, “Beware of Darkness”:
Watch out now, take care,
Beware of greedy leaders
They’ll take you where you should not go
While Weeping Atlas Cedars
They just want to grow, grow and grow
Beware of darkness
Then another quote, this one from Monty Python:
Run away! Run Away!
Roger Waters, English singer, songwriter, bassist, and composer, is the co-founder of the rock band Pink Floyd—internationally known for albums like The Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall. On January 20, the day of Trump’s inauguration, Waters posted a video for his Trump-slamming performance of “Pigs (Three Different Ones)” in Mexico City last October. A message also went up on his Facebook: “The resistance begins today.”
The performance took place in Zόcalo Square before 300,000 fans. During the song, the huge screens flash graphics of ugly Trump faces with text like “Charade” and “Gotta stem the evil tide.” There is an image of Trump doing a Hitler Nazi salute and the KKK. At the end, disgusting quotes from Trump are seen on the screen. The final text: “Trump eres un pendejo” (Trump, you’re an asshole).”
Some of the lyrics to “Pigs (Three Different Ones)”:
Big man, pig man, ha ha charade you are
You well heeled big wheel, ha ha charade you are
And when your hand is on your heart
You’re nearly a good laugh
Almost a joker
With your head down in the pig bin
Saying “Keep on digging.”
Pig stain on your fat chin
What do you hope to find
When you’re down in the pig mine
You’re nearly a laugh
You’re nearly a laugh
But you’re really a cry
At his January 11 press conference, Trump refused to take a question from CNN reporter Jim Acosta, saying, “You are fake news.” Angelo Carusone from Media Matters posted a petition, “Tell the White House Press Corps: Stand up to Trump’s blacklist,” to be delivered to the White House Correspondents’ Association, which says:
If Trump blacklists or bans one of you, the rest of you need to stand up. Instead of ignoring Trump’s bad behavior and going about your business, close ranks and stand up for journalism. Don’t keep talking about what Trump wants to talk about. Stand up and fight back. Amplify your colleague’s inquiry or refuse to engage until he removes that person/outlet from the blacklist.
The goal is to get 300,000 signatures. As of January 22, nearly 290,200 people had signed. The petition includes a background that says in part:
Trump has a history of doing this—and worse.
He has literally banned the Des Moines Register from covering his events. He banned Univsion from attending his events. He revoked The Washington Post’s credentials for a period in retaliation for a headline that he didn’t like. He revoked Politico’s credentials for a while to punish them for an article he didn’t like. BuzzFeed—which Trump called “a pathetic pile of garbage” during the press conference—has been on a blacklist since June of 2015. The Daily Beast is on the blacklist and is almost always denied credentials as a result. This list isn’t exhaustive, either.
But journalists covering Trump don’t learn. Time and time again, as one outlet after another is frozen out, reporters continue to go about their interactions with Trump and his people as if nothing is wrong.
Enough is enough. Some principles are more important than competition among news outlets....
To read the petition and full background go here.
Citizen Therapists for Democracy, an association of psychotherapists, states that their mission is to: “Learn and spread transformative ways to practice therapy with a public dimension; Rebuild democratic capacity in communities; and Resist anti-democratic ideologies and practices.” The website of Citizen Therapists for Democracy contains “A Public Manifesto” from Citizen Therapists Against Trumpism. It has been signed by 3,500 people and says in part:
As psychotherapists practicing in the United States, we are alarmed by the rise of the ideology of Trumpism, which we see as a threat to the well-being of the people we care for and to American democracy itself. We cannot remain silent as we witness the rise of an American form of fascism. We can leverage this time of crisis to deepen our commitment to American democracy....
Why speak collectively? Our responses thus far have been primarily personal—and too often confined to arm-chair diagnoses of Donald Trump. But a collective crisis faces our nation, a harkening back to the economic depression and demoralization of the 1930s (which fed European fascism) and the upheaval over Jim Crow and Black civil rights in the 1950s.... As therapists, we have been entrusted by society with collective responsibility in the arena of mental, behavioral, and relational health. When there is a public threat to our domain of responsibility we must speak out together, not just to protest but to deepen our commitment to a just society and a democratic way of life. This means being citizen therapists who are concerned with community well-being as much as personal well-being, since the two are inextricably joined.
To read the whole statement go here.
United Nations, hardcore supergroup led by frontman for the band Thursday, Geoff Rickly, released a new song on January 20, the day of Trump’s inauguration. The song is called “Stairway to Mar-a-Lago”—Mar-a-Lago is Trump’s estate in Florida which he says will be his “winter White House.”
Some of the lyrics go:
From on your cross
Tell them who matters
Policing cities in ruin
It blows my mind
How these Nazis
Took the stage
And pandered to
Your deepest fears
Dead and cold
The Gipper must be
Rolling in his grave
Again and again
Never again is
The band Outernational released a new song and video on the morning of the Trump inauguration, titled “Decision.” Miles Solay of Outernational wrote, “I am writing to you from the USA on the morning that a fascist regime is being coronated. I will be in the streets of Washington, DC today and tomorrow. The regime of Donald Trump and Mike Pence is illegitimate because fascism is illegitimate. If ever there was a time in our lives to act as if the future depended on us, now would be that time. GET INVOLVED AND TAKE TO THE STREETS WHEREVER YOU ARE.”
The lyrics of “Decision” include:
You can’t say you hate this
While you’re waiting for the cure...
All the lies!
America was never great
Eat your apple pie and genocide
Of your life!
How will you live?
What will you decide?...
Listen and download audio here.
“There are people who say we ought to give you a chance. But there’s not a chance in hell that we’ll sit back and watch you try to turn back the clock and sigh and say, oh well.”
This is how “Not Gonna Say Your Name” starts—a new song released on January 16 by Los Angeles-based musician Guy Blakeslee (aka ENTRANCE). The song’s video features clips of anti-Trump protests that broke out in the days after the election.
Blakeslee says, “I really wanted to write a song expressing my own feelings about the election and the state of things in our country—like many I was in a state of mourning. I wondered, how can I sing about this without saying his name?” All proceeds from song purchases are going to Planned Parenthood. Blakeslee said: “I decided to use the song to benefit PP because one of the things that is so shocking about the election result is that it sends such a negative message to women and girls.... It’s the least I could do - for all of the women in the world, in my life, and especially for my mother - to fight back and make a clear statement that we will not accept this backwards agenda.” In a piece in TheTalkhouse, Blakeslee wrote:
When the result was called at the crack of dawn that November morning, I knew I had to come back home as soon as possible and join with my fellow Americans in resisting this imminent slide toward fascism, tyranny, intolerance, bigotry, sexism, xenophobia and unchecked capitalist pillaging.
In a psychological state quite similar to mourning, I was inspired and comforted watching from afar on social media as friends and family joined hundreds of thousands of others in the streets and wished I could be there with them to say NO to hatred and regression and YES to love and continued communal progress.
While in Amsterdam a few days later, the idea for this song (“Not Gonna Say Your Name” ) came to me; I was writing a lot of angry words and I was desperately trying to figure out how to say something positive, to make some kind of contribution and offer a different way of thinking about the situation instead of just complaining and fixating on this person that so many of us can’t help but despise.
To read the whole piece by Blakeslee go here
To watch the video of “Not Gonna Say Your Name” go here.
The Girl Scouts of America have come under severe criticism for its decision to have 75 Girl Scouts march in Trump’s inauguration parade. People are saying they should not participate—given Trump’s ugly comments about women and Pence’s extreme anti-abortion views. Jean Hannah Edelstein, a New York-born, London-based journalist and the author of Himglish and Femalese: Why Women Don’t Get Why Men Don’t Get Them, wrote in a January 18 opinion piece in the Guardian:
The news that the Girl Scouts are sending a contingent to participate in Donald Trump’s inauguration filled me with real rage. How can an organization that promises to build “girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place” send them to celebrate the ascent of a leader who would likely consider them fair game for sexual assault if they grow up to be “beautiful”?
...what would be emotionally and physically safe for a girl about watching the swearing-in of Mike Pence as Vice President, a man who’s sworn to overturn the laws that allow them to use the bathrooms where they feel safe? What of Muslim Girl Scouts, who’ve been told that their names will be put on a list, or undocumented girls, who are also welcome to join Girl Scouts? Should they march, or should only the girls who Donald Trump might one day rate “a 10” be encouraged to participate?
...Yes, it’s a tradition: they’ve marched at inauguration for decades. But does tradition justify collaboration with an administration that promises to oppress the young women it’s supposed to serve? As shown by John Lewis and the other members of Congress who are choosing to skip the inauguration, sometimes human rights are more important than protocol. The Girl Scouts is an organization that has stood up for the human rights of girls and women for many years. Why quit now?
Read this whole piece here.
New York Times columnist, Charles M. Blow’s piece on January 19, 2017 is titled, “Are You Not Alarmed?” and says:
I continue to be astonished that not enough Americans are sufficiently alarmed and abashed by the dangerous idiocies that continue to usher forth from the mouth of the man who will on Friday be inaugurated as president of the United States.
Toss ideology out of the window. This is about democracy and fascism, war and peace, life and death. I wish that I could write those words with the callous commercialism with which some will no doubt read them, as overheated rhetoric simply designed to stir agitation, provoke controversy and garner clicks. But alas, they are not. These words are the sincere dispatches of an observer, writer and citizen who continues to see worrisome signs of a slide toward the exceedingly unimaginable by a man who is utterly unprepared.
In a series of interviews and testimonies Donald Trump and his cronies have granted in the last several days, they have demonstrated repeatedly how destabilizing, unpredictable and indeed unhinged the incoming administration may be. Their comments underscore the degree to which this administration may not simply alter our democracy beyond recognition, but also potentially push us into armed conflict...
This is insanity. But too many Americans don’t want to see this threat for what it is. International affairs and the very real threat of escalating militarization and possibly even military conflict seems much harder to grasp than the latest inflammatory tweet.
Maybe people think this possibility is unthinkable. Maybe people are just hoping and praying that cooler heads will prevail. Maybe they think that Trump’s advisers will smarten him up and talk him down.
But where is your precedent for that? When has this man been cautious or considerate? This man with loose lips and tweeting thumbs may very well push us into another war, and not with a country like Afghanistan, but with a nuclear-armed country with something to prove.
Are you not alarmed?
To read the whole piece go here.
Green Day continues to call out Trump as a fascist. A video of the song “Troubled Times” from their latest album, Revolution Radio, was released on Monday, MLK Day. A statement from Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong said, "Today we celebrate love and compassion more than ever." The song/video doesn’t name Trump but the message is clear through the imagery. There’s a Trump-like figure with KKK teeth wearing a “Make America Great Again” cap—spewing hateful, racist garbage before crowds as Kluckers come out of the White House. Cops beating up Black people. But there are also images of resistance: People with signs saying “Stop racism, islamophobia, and war,” “No border wall,” and “Against racist hate.” Clips from the Civil Rights Movement and the the women’s suffrage battle. At the end, the stakes of the situation are underscored with a nuclear mushroom cloud.
This isn’t the first time Green Day has called out Trump. Shortly after the election, during their MTV and American Music Awards performances of the song “Bang Bang,” they added the chant: "No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA." Armstrong said, "It was a good start to challenge [Trump] on all of his ignorant policies and his racism."
The lyrics to "Troubled Times" are searing:
What good is love and peace on earth?
When it's exclusive?
Where's the truth in the written word?
If no one reads it
A new day dawning
Comes without warning
So don't blink twice
We live in troubled times
We live in troubled times
What part of history we learned
When it's repeated
Some things will never overcome
If we don't seek it
The world stops turning
So don't think twice
We live in troubled times
We live in troubled times
On MLK Day, Rapper T.I. (Tip Harris) sent out a series of tweets and videos addressed to Black celebrities and athletes who are meeting with Trump.
“Attn.!!!! Be clear.... There IS an agenda behind all these meetings. “There’s a strategic plan that people are trying to make you a part of.... Do not accept any invitation to have any meeting, no matter how positive you think the outcome may be.” “Given what’s going on between him & Congressman Lewis... All y’all looking CRAZY right now!!!! Be Aware, BE Alert, Or Be Bamboozled.”
One tweet has a photo of Malcolm X with a quote from him: “The first thing the (white racist) does when he comes in power, he takes all the Negro leaders and invites them for coffee. To show that he’s all right. And those Uncle Toms can’t pass up the coffee. They come away from the coffee table telling you and me that this man is all right.” T.I. writes: “Sound familiar? Malcolm knew it then.... Be Aware, Be Alert, or Be Bamboozled.”
One tweet addresses Trump: “Should it ever seem at times like we are against you, I assure it is a result of you defining yourself as the representative of those who are and who always have been against us... The deck has always been stacked against us in this country. With every generation there has been strategic steps to oppress, imprison, and control us.”
See T.I.’s tweets and videos here.
A small but determined group of protesters rallied in the cold Chicago rain on MLK Day, where Christian clergy, representatives from the Muslim community, and youth spoke along with other fighters in the movement to Stop Trump and Pence. After the rally the protest took off in two parallel marches down both sides of State Street, stopping on the corners to speak to people who were out on the cold, wet street. Protestors criss-crossed back and forth across State Street, blocking traffic briefly a number of times. Some people along the route joined in the march briefly, and others took up posters and/or bundles of the Call and were organized to organize others in the fight to stop the fascist Trump-Pence regime.
Speakers at the rally addressed the need and possibility of stopping the Trump-Pence regime from taking power and the recently released Justice Department report detailing years of abuse of Black and brown people by the Chicago police. They included Rev. Gregg Greer of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference; Rev.Pughsley; Salman Aftab from the American Muslim Task Force on Civil Rights and Elections; Raja Yaqub from the American Muslim Aliance; and a middle school student who spoke about the terror Pence will bring to the LGBTQ community with his promotion of electro-shock torture “conversion therapy.” The following statement from Michael Dietler, professor of anthropology at the University of Chicago was read.
This day, of all days, should raise awareness of the danger that Donald Trump poses to this country, and to the world. The contrast with Martin Luther King could not be stronger.
Today the nation honors a fearless champion of human rights and human dignity, a man of principle who dedicated his life to the service of others and was willing to be sacrificed in the struggle against injustice. We also honor all those heroes of the Civil Rights movement, those thousands of ordinary people who courageously put their bodies and their lives on the line to oppose the racist, oppressive, violent regimes that tried to deny people their rights.
In ironic contrast, this Friday, a new president will be sworn in who waged a disgraceful campaign of lies and deceit, of racist bigotry and hatred, of misogyny, fear, and ignorance. Donald Trump has no principles, no concern for anyone but himself. He has spent his life in the relentless pursuit of personal wealth and power, using any means available without regard to the consequences for others.
He is a liar, fraud, and a dangerous egomaniac who has already normalized racism, xenophobia, and misogyny and prepared a cabinet of robber barons ready to pillage the country. Now is the time for all good people of conscience to come together to oppose this destructive force, before it is too late. Let the voice of the people rise again in solidarity with the spirit of the Civil Rights movement: justice and equality for all! Stand up against racism, xenophobia, misogyny, and greed!
Ava DuVernay is an American director, screenwriter, film marketer, and film distributor. Her film Selma, which told the story of the campaign led by Dr. Martin Luther King for equal voting right and the famous march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965,was nominated for Best Picture at the 2014 Oscars. And DuVernay became first Black female director to be nominated for a Golden Globe Award.
DuVernay’s recent Netflix documentary 13th just picked up three Critics’ Choice Awards and is on the Oscar shortlist for best documentary. 13th, named for the constitutional amendment that abolished slavery with the exception of punishment for crime, digs deeply into and exposes the rise of mass incarceration in the USA. 13th includes a series of powerful clips that shows Donald Trump and footage from the Civil Right era—where Trump is talking about “the good old days.”
During the film’s press screening at the New York Film Festival in October, DuVernay talked about how she debated whether to include Trump, who at the time was the Republican presidential candidate, in the documentary. She said, “Take him out? Leave him in? No, he doesn’t deserve a place in this thing, and such. But you gotta show that stuff because it’s too important and it can’t be forgotten,”
13th is available to stream on Netflix.
At his January 11 press conference, Trump refused to take a question from CNN reporter Jim Acosta, saying, “You are fake news.” In an article in the Columbia Journalism Review titled “Trump berated a CNN reporter, and fellow journalists missed an opportunity” Pete Vernon says:
CNN Senior White House Correspondent Jim Acosta stood pleading with Trump to acknowledge his question, referencing earlier attacks made by Trump and his press secretary about the accuracy of a CNN report detailing Trump’s ties to Russia. “Mr. President-elect, since you have been attacking our news organization, can you give us a chance?” Acosta yelled above the scrum of reporters.
“No! Not you. No! Your organization is terrible,” the President-elect shot back. When Acosta persisted in shouting for recognition, Trump pointed a finger at him and said, “Don’t be rude. No, I’m not going to give you a question.”
Trump then turned to the next question, and the press conference proceeded from there. It was a striking moment not only for the direct confrontation between the two men, but also for the fact that it seemed to have no effect on other journalists in the room. No one immediately leapt to Acosta’s defense....
I wished those journalists in attendance had picked up Acosta’s line of questioning, or even refused to continue asking questions, until the President-elect acknowledged the organization he had earlier attacked....
Next Friday, the new administration begins. As a candidate, and now as the President-elect, Trump and his team have shown a willingness to retaliate, bully, and ban journalists whose questions he doesn’t want to answer. As an industry, we must be prepared for more moments like today’s, and we must be ready to respond accordingly.
Peter Vernon’s article is available online here.
A group of Christian theologians of various denominations delivered an open letter to the heads of the Senate Judiciary Committee to oppose the nomination of Jeff Sessions as U.S. Attorney General. The signatories include Peter Goodwin Heltzel, New York Theological Seminary; Jeannine Hill Fletcher, Fordham University; Gary Agee, Anderson University (Indiana); Cornel West, Harvard University; James Cone, Union Theological Seminary; Jim Wallis, Sojourner; and others.
The theologians’ letter says in part:
Vulnerable populations in our country—victims of police brutality, undocumented workers, LGBTQ persons, women, people of color, and people of non-Christian faiths—are placed at increased risk of further harm when our laws are not upheld. Yet, throughout his career, Senator Sessions has taken positions that compromise the rights of these vulnerable populations. His racist comments reflect prejudice against people of color. His opposition to immigration reform, LGBTQ rights, women’s rights and equal access for persons with disabilities make it unlikely that he shares the Christian vision of justice and protection of the vulnerable that we embrace.
The letter and signatories are available online here.
A moving and deeply thought-provoking PSA video produced by Katy Perry asks the question: is history repeating itself? The short video features actor Hina Khan, a Muslim of Pakistani heritage, and begins with the voice of 89-year-old Haru Kuromiya—recalling how, when she was a girl during World War 2, her family, along with about 120,000 other Japanese Americans, were first put on a registry and then forced by the U.S. government into concentration (internment) camps.
According to the LA Times, “Codirected by filmmakers Aya Tanimura and Tim Nackashi, the #DontNormalizeHate PSA landed the early support of director Spike Jonze and actor-activist George Takei. But it was Perry whom Tanimura credits for making the short possible.” The video has close to 300,000 views since it was posted on YouTube—it should be seen by millions. Watch it below:
Bruce Springsteen on Marc Maron’s WRTF podcast on January 2 (at the end) is asked what his biggest fear is about Trump and says:
That a lot of the worst things and the worst aspects of what he appealed to come to fruition. When you let that genie out of the bottle – bigotry, racism, when you let those things out of the bottle, intolerance, they don't go back in the bottle that easily if they go back in at all. Whether it's a rise in hate crimes, people feeling they have license to speak and behave in ways that previously were considered un-American and are un-American. That's what he's appealing to. And so my fears are that those things find a place in ordinary, civil society; demeans the discussions and events of the day and the country changes in a way that is unrecognizable and we become estranged, as you say, you say hey well, wait a minute you voted for Trump, I thought I knew who you were, I’m not sure. The country feels very estranged, you feel very estranged from your countrymen. So those are all dangerous things and he hasn’t even taken office yet.
The podcast is available here
Recently, Threshold, an imprint of the book publisher Simon & Schuster, gave a $250,000 book deal to Milo Yiannopoulos, writer for the neo-Nazi, white-supremacist Breitbart News Network and supporter of Trump. There was immediate outrage against the deal from writers, bookstores, book reviewers, and others. (See “Outrage at Simon & Schuster’s Book Deal for Pro-Trump Racist.”) Now more than 160 children’s and young adult (YA) book authors and illustrators with Simon & Schuster have sent a letter protesting the deal to the Simon & Schuster CEO and “all the readers and supporters of books for children.”
As technology editor at Breitbart, Yiannopoulos promoted “GamerGate,” a vicious flood of degrading attacks and terroristic threats against prominent women in the video game development community. This summer he was banned from Twitter after his followers carried out a racist harassment campaign against Black comedian/actor Leslie Jones.
The letter from the authors and illustrators reads in part:
Threshold has placed Simon & Schuster’s considerable reputation and weight behind one of the most prominent faces of the newly repackaged white supremacist/white nationalist movement and financially supported a man who routinely denigrates, verbally attacks, and directs dangerous internet doxxing and hate campaigns against women, minorities, LGBTQ individuals, Muslims, and anyone he chooses to target who supports equality and human decency. Irrespective of the content of this book, by extending a mainstream publication contract, Threshold has chosen to legitimize this reprehensible belief system, these behaviors, and white supremacy itself....
As Simon & Schuster authors and illustrators who are already published, with books in the release pipeline, with contracts in place, we do not have to quietly accept or assent to this “Gleichschaltung,” this getting in line with fascism and making it mainstream. We reject the wisdom of this decision. This man, and this book, are not America. This man, and this book, are not the bulk of Simon & Schuster. This man, and this book, are not us, the authors and illustrators of Simon & Schuster. We believe that the children we write for deserve a better America.
Among the signers of the letter are winners of Newbery, Caldecott, and National Book Award honors, including Cassandra Clare, Laurie Halse Anderson, Christian Robinson, Dan Santat, Marla Frazee, Ellen Hopkins, and Rachel Renée Russell. The Publisher’s Weekly article on this, including the text of the full letter and the list of signatories, is available online here.
Charlotte Church is a Welch singer who performs in many genres and has a big following. She has sold over ten million records worldwide.
The Trump team, which has already been turned down by most of the entertainers they have asked to perform at the inauguration, sent an invitation to Church. Church tweeted her reply directly to Trump @realDonaldTrump:
“Your staff have asked me to sing at your inauguration, a simple Internet search would show I think you’re a tyrant. Bye.”
Her message was followed by four poop emoji.
This is the link to her tweet.
At the Australian Open tennis tournament, Australian tennis star Nick Kyrgios made a statement about Donald Trump with his T-shirt. During his match with Rafael Nadal he wore a shirt that had Trump’s face covered with devil-like illustrations and the words “Fuck Donald Trump” at the bottom.
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights sent a letter to the U.S. Senate opposing the confirmation of Sessions as Attorney General, saying:
On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition of more than 200 national organizations committed to promote and protect the civil and human rights of all persons in the United States, and the 144 undersigned organizations, we are writing to express our strong opposition to the confirmation of Senator Jefferson B. Sessions (R-AL) to be the 84th Attorney General of the United States.
Senator Sessions has a 30-year record of racial insensitivity, bias against immigrants, disregard for the rule of law, and hostility to the protection of civil rights that makes him unfit to serve as the Attorney General of the United States. In our democracy, the Attorney General is charged with enforcing our nation’s laws without prejudice and with an eye toward justice. And, just as important, the Attorney General has to be seen by the public—every member of the public, from every community—as a fair arbiter of justice. Unfortunately, there is little in Senator Sessions’ record that demonstrates that he would meet such a standard.
To read the whole letter go here
Shaun King’s column in the Monday, January 9 New York Daily News was titled “Americans must call Trump out on lies, not get so used to them that we become desensitized to his dishonesty.” King writes, in part:
Last night, Meryl Streep, in an acceptance speech for a lifetime achievement award that she won at the Golden Globes, reminded the audience that our incoming President once openly mocked a reporter with a physical disability from the stage of a rally....Trump has now outrageously said he has no recollection of ever meeting Kovaleski and was not aware of his disability, but that is another outrageous lie. He did not meet Kovaleski once or twice. He did not meet him three or four times, or even half a dozen times, but met with Kovaleski at least a dozen times across the years. They met in Trump’s office, at events, and at press conferences. They were so close that Kovaleski described them as being “on a first name basis for years.”
To fight back against Streep reminding us of what he did, Trump is lying about lies about lies. His lies have so many layers that it often seems like he gets lost and simply cannot keep up....
Our incoming President of the United States is a liar. He tells them often. He lies far more often than he tells the truth. We must call him out on it. We must not become desensitized to his lies. We must not get so used to them that they become normal to us.
One of the most dishonest men on Earth is about to become our leader. I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t deeply concerned about what comes next.
To read the whole piece by Shaun King, go here.
On Sunday night, January 8, Meryl Streep received The Cecil B. DeMille Award, an honorary Golden Globe Award given by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for “outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment.” In accepting the award, she said, in part:
An actor’s only job is to enter the lives of people who are different from us and let you feel what that feels like. And there were many, many, many powerful performances this year that did exactly that—breathtaking compassionate work. But there was one performance this year that stunned me. It sank its hooks in my heart. Not because it was good. There was nothing good about it. But it was effective and it did its job. It made its intended audience laugh and show their teeth. It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter, someone he outranked in privilege, power and the capacity to fight back. It kind of broke my heart when I saw it and I still can’t get it out of my head because it wasn’t in a movie. It was real life. And this instinct to humiliate, when it’s modeled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody’s life because it kind of gives permission for other people to do the same thing. Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence incites violence. When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.
Watch Meryl Streep’s acceptance speech here
Jello Biafra is the former lead singer for the band Dead Kennedys, known for songs like “California Über Alles” and “Nazi Punks Fuck Off.” In a recent interview in Rolling Stone magazine he said:
As laughable as Rick Perry has been as governor of Texas and other [presidential] campaigns, he’s also very dangerous. At first they were saying Secretary of Agriculture for him, but then suddenly Secretary of Energy. That dude is in charge of our nukes now and he’s also part of a fundamentalist Christian doomsday cult. ... It was basically yet another cult like the one Sarah and Todd Palin prescribed, whose whole mindset was “Jesus is coming soon, and in order to expedite we should be wasting every last natural resource and clear-cutting every tree we can right now because Jesus is coming back again. It’s OK to run up further budget deficits, because Jesus loves America, he’s going to put the money back.”...
People are freaked out that Trump has made the head of Exxon the Secretary of State, and the guy is so tight and in bed with Putin—well, there’s another part of Rex Tillerson I hope people are going to highlight, too. He’s the one who finally admitted climate change existed as head of Exxon, but then he said mankind will adapt and so it’s no big deal....
What we’re looking at here is Jim Crow 2.0, and they’re going to be even more hardcore about that in the 2018 election, to keep anybody with a conscience from being able to vote. Look at who the new Attorney General is going to be, the same guy who in the Eighties said he thought the people in the Ku Klux Klan were all right “until I saw some of them smoked pot.”
Cornell William Brooks, president and CEO of the NAACP, and five other civil rights leaders were arrested January 3 after sitting in at Jeff Sessions’ office in Washington, DC, demanding the withdrawal of his nomination by Trump for Attorney General. In a January 5 interview on Democracy Now, Brooks said:
Our objections are, fundamentally, Senator Sessions represents a kind of dim and dystopian view of American civil liberties and civil rights. And so our objections are at least threefold, first of which is that he has demonstrated an unwillingness to acknowledge the reality of voter suppression that we have seen from one end of the country to the other, as attested to in the Fourth Circuit decision that found voter suppression in North Carolina, the Fifth Circuit decision which found voter suppression in Texas. He has not acknowledged the reality of that, and certainly not the reality of voter suppression in his own state...
In terms of immigration rights, he is one—among one of the most conservative, ultraconservative, extremist senators in terms of his opposition to comprehensive immigration reform. In addition to that, he has voiced an openness to a immigration ban on a global religion, namely Islam, which cannot be squared in any way, shape, fashion or form with the U.S. Constitution.
Number three, his views on criminal justice reform stand in stark contrast to both red state and blue state governors. In other words, he stands for law and order in Nixonian and draconian terms, at a moment in which we have over 2 million Americans behind bars, 65 million Americans with criminal records, 1 million fathers behind bars....
Brooks said the NAACP is “unapologetically opposed” to Sessions and is calling for civil disobedience protests:
The board of directors of the NAACP voted to oppose this nomination. And we’re doing so not only as a matter of policy, but we’re doing so bodily, spiritually, morally, by encouraging civil disobedience—that is to say, standing in the tradition of Mohandas K. Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, standing in that tradition by sitting down. And so, we understand that the odds may be difficult, but we, as the NAACP, don’t gauge our principled opposition to a nominee based upon odds and probabilities, but rather the rightness of the cause....
Read the whole interview here.
In the November-December issue of California Teacher, Joshua Pechthalt, the president of the California Federation of Teachers (CFT), which is part of the American Federation of Teachers, has a piece titled “Responding to election of Donald Trump: Reassess, Mobilize, Defend.” Pechthalt writes:
In the last few weeks, I have had many discussions trying to sort out the implications of a Trump presidency. His nomination for Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, who has been a pro-voucher, pro-charter school advocate, demonstrates he wants to privatize and charterize public schools. President-elect Trump is making clear where he wants to take the country.
Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, who has said positive things about the KKK and will likely head the Justice Department, indicates this administration will not be an advocate for criminal justice reform, voting rights, and countless other social justice efforts. More disturbing will be Trump’s appointments to the Supreme Court. A generation of justices will be in the majority and committed to an agenda that is opposed to union rights, women’s rights, voting rights, environmental protection, and other matters that will affect our children and grandchildren.
Trump has also strengthened his relationship with Steve Bannon, the former leader of Breitbart News and one of the leaders of a movement known as the alt-right. The alt-right sees this appointment as an opportunity to fan the flames of white nationalism, racism and anti-Semitism. One needs only to watch the Nazi salute at a recent gathering of alt-right supporters in the nation’s capital to be alarmed. The similarities with the rise of fascism in Europe in the 1930s, and the growing neo-fascist movement now gaining traction in Western European countries, are chilling and require a response...
The issue of California Teacher containing the article by Pechthalt is available online here.
The University of Tennessee marching band is scheduled to march in Trump’s Inauguration parade, but a lot of alumni of the school and residents of Tennessee are protesting this. More than 3,340 people have already signed an online petition calling on the president and director of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville to stop the university marching band from playing in the inaugural parade. The change.org petition, signed “Concerned Citizens and Alumni,” says in part:
As either proud residents of Tennessee or proud University of Tennessee alumni, we are greatly disturbed by the behavior exhibited by Donald Trump both during and after the recent presidential campaign. He has made racist and sexist remarks that should never come out of the mouth of someone in public office.
As residents of Tennessee, we believe that the attendance at the upcoming inauguration of a band representing the state of Tennessee would condone this behavior. As alumni, we believe that no university should risk its reputation and credibility by welcoming such ignorance and celebrating a man like Trump. It is for this reason that we urge that the band not march at the upcoming inauguration.
On January 1, comedian and TV entertainer Rosie O’Donnell tweeted:
DONALD TRUMP IS MENTALLY UNSTABLE -
LESS THAN 3 WEEKS TO STOP HIM AMERICA
The day before, in response to a Donald Trump New Year’s Eve tweet, O’Donnell tweeted:
@realDonaldTrump - we know what to do RESIST YOU - and everything you represent #notANYONESpresident #resist #liar #cheater #fraud #crook
She also tweeted:
Nobody can go back
and start a new beginning,
but anyone can start today
and make a new ending.
~ Maria Robinson
Then on January 3, @ROSIE retweeted:
The amount of flak @Rosie O’Donnell is taking right now for stating fact, as if SHE’s out of line, is criminal. #NoFascistUSA #DontNormalize
Olivet Nazarene is a Christian university located south of Chicago in Illinois. When school officials announced that the Olivet Nazarene band would be taking part in Trump’s inauguration, there was immediate opposition. An online petition, “Withdraw Olivet Nazarene University from Inaugural Parade,” has gathered over 2,000 signers. The petition, addressed to the college president and administrators, says in part:
Sadly, President-elect Trump has consistently articulated and advocated policies that undermine the Christian commitments of communities like Olivet. His well-documented sexism, his political alliances with white supremacists, and his hostility towards immigrants and refugees are just a few positions incompatible with Christian teachings in general and the Nazarene message of holiness in particular.
Any university presence at the inauguration would suggest toleration or, even worse, endorsement of the President-elect’s objectionable attitudes on these and other issues. Such a presence is simply unacceptable.
We call on you to decline this and any other invitations to participate in President-elect Trump’s inaugural festivities. We make this request not out of partisan opposition. Both educational and religious organizations should be capable of holding differing political opinions within the bonds of community. Yet, conservatives and liberals alike acknowledge that President-elect Trump has demeaned and alienated many, with little or no effort made towards reconciliation. For Olivet to embody the faith it proclaims, we have a responsibility to stand with those marginalized by the President-elect’s divisive rhetoric rather than march in celebration of it.
Rebecca Ferguson is a British singer and songwriter. Her 2015 album “Lady Sings the Blues,” covering classic songs by Billie Holiday, made the charts in the UK. Ferguson says she was asked to sing at Trump’s inauguration and says she will do it.... IF she can sing “Strange Fruit”—a song first recorded by Billy Holliday in 1939 that scathingly indicts the lynchings of Black people in the American South. Ferguson wrote on TwitLonger:
I’ve been asked and this is my answer. If you allow me to sing “strange fruit” a song that has huge historical importance, a song that was blacklisted in the United States for being too controversial. A song that speaks to all the disregarded and down trodden black people in the United States. A song that is a reminder of how love is the only thing that will conquer all the hatred in this world, then I will graciously accept your invitation and see you in Washington. Best Rebecca X
Soon after the election, Gregg Popovich, one of the top coaches in the National Basketball Association (NBA), was asked to comment on Trump’s victory. The following are excerpts from his comments:
It’s our country, we don’t want it to go down the drain. Any reasonable person would come to that conclusion. But it does not take away the fact that he is fear-mongering—all the comments, from day one—the race baiting, trying to make Barack Obama, the first Black president, illegitimate. It leaves me wondering where I’ve been living and with whom I’m living.
And the fact that people can just gloss that over and start talking about the transition team, and we’re all gonna be kumbaya now and try to make the country good without talking about any of those things. And now we see that he’s already backing off of immigration and Obamacare and other things, so was it a big fake? Which makes you feel it’s even more disgusting and cynical that somebody would use that to get the base that fired up. To get elected. And what gets lost in the process are African-Americans, and Hispanics, and women, and the gay population, not to mention the eighth-grade developmental stage exhibited by him when he made fun of the handicapped person. I mean, come on. That’s what a seventh-grade, eighth-grade bully does. And he was elected president of the United States. We would have scolded our kids. We would have had discussions and talked until we were blue in the face trying to get them to understand these things. And he is in charge of our country. That’s disgusting.
See a YouTube of Popovich (along with another NBA coach, Stan Van Gundy) commenting on Trump here.
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir is scheduled to sing at Trump’s inauguration and 19,000 members of the Mormon Church have already signed a petition against them performing. Now, a member of the choir, Jan Chamberlin, has resigned over this, saying, “I could never throw roses to Hitler. And I certainly could never sing for him." Her letter, which was posted on Facebook, says:
Since “the announcement” [of the Choir performing at the inauguration], I have spent several sleepless nights and days in turmoil and agony. I have reflected carefully on both sides of the issue, prayed a lot, talked with family and friends, and searched my soul.
I’ve tried to tell myself that by not going to the inauguration, that I would be able to stay in Choir for all the other good reasons.
I have highly valued the mission of the Choir to be good-will ambassadors for Christ, to share beautiful music and to give hope, inspiration, and comfort to others.
I’ve tried to tell myself that it will be alright and that I can continue in good conscience before God and man.
But it’s no use. I simply cannot continue with the recent turn of events. I could never look myself in the mirror again with self respect...
I also know, looking from the outside in, it will appear that Choir is endorsing tyranny and fascism by singing for this man...
Tyranny is now on our doorstep; it has been sneaking its way into our lives through stealth. Now it will burst into our homes through storm. I hope that we and many others will work together with greater diligence and awareness to calmly and bravely work together to defend our freedoms and our rights for our families, our friends, and our fellow citizens. I hope we can throw off the labels and really listen to each other with respect, love, compassion, and a true desire to bring our energies and souls together in solving the difficult problems that lie in our wake...
History is repeating itself; the same tactics are being used by Hitler (identify a problem, finding a scapegoat target to blame, and stirring up people with a combination of fanaticism, false promises, and fear, and gathering the funding). I plead with everyone to go back and read the books we all know on these topics and review the films produced to help us learn from these gargantuan crimes so that we will not allow them to be repeated. Evil people prosper when good people stand by and do nothing.
We must continue our love and support for the refugees and the oppressed by fighting against these great evils.
For me, this is a HUGELY moral issue....
I only know I could never “throw roses to Hitler.” And I certainly could never sing for him.
To read the whole letter go here.
The Radio City Rockettes, whose trademark routine is a line of dancers doing eye-high leg kicks in perfect unison, are scheduled to perform at Trump’s inauguration. Right away there were signs that some of the dancers are very disturbed about this. In a shameful move, the union representing the Rockettes, the American Guild of Variety Artists, sent an email to the dancers saying they were “obliged” to perform at the inauguration. Later the company that owns the Radio City Rockettes, the Madison Square Garden Company, told Rolling Stone magazine that individual dancers “are never told they have to perform at a particular event, including the inaugural. It is always their choice.” But one can imagine the pressure being put on these women to perform and what it could mean for their careers if they refuse.
Recently, MarieClaire.com wrote a piece about this controversy, including quotes from an exclusive interview they did with “Mary,” one of the Rockettes. The following are some excerpts from this article:
The dancer next to Mary was crying. Tears streamed down her face through all 90 minutes of their world-famous Christmas Spectacular as they kicked and pirouetted and hit mark after mark on the glittering Radio City Music Hall stage. This was Thursday, three days before Christmas, the day the Rockettes discovered they’d been booked to perform at the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump.
“She felt she was being forced to perform for this monster,” Mary told MarieClaire.com in an exclusive interview. “I wouldn’t feel comfortable standing near a man like that in our costumes,” said another dancer in an email to her colleagues.
For Mary? “If I had to lose my job over this, I would. It’s too important. And I think the rest of the performing arts community would happily stand behind me.” ...
“There is a divide in the company now, which saddens me most,” Mary says. “The majority of us said no immediately. Then there’s the percentage that said yes, for whatever reason—whether it’s because they’re young and uninformed, or because they want the money, or because they think it’s an opportunity to move up in the company when other people turn it down.” ...
Mary says that to her knowledge, no women of color have signed up to perform that day. “It’s almost worse to have 18 pretty white girls behind this man who supports so many hate groups.” ...
“This is not a Republican or Democrat issue—this is a women’s rights issue,” she continues. “This is an issue of racism and sexism, something that’s much bigger than politics. We walk into work and everyone has different political views. The majority of the stage crew are Trump supporters; there’s a ‘Make America Great Again’ bumper sticker on the crew doors at the side of the stage.”
But the majority of the staff skews liberal, she says, especially considering the many LGBT employees at Radio City. “It’s the ensemble. It’s the people in our wardrobe and hair department, some of whom are transgender,” she says. “These are our friends and our family, who we’ve worked with for years. It’s a basic human-rights issue. We have immigrants in the show. I feel like dancing for Trump would be disrespecting the men and women who work with us, the people we care about.”
On December 29, former Rockette Autumn Withers said in an interview on cable news channel MSNBC that the group has performed at previous inaugurations but Trump is different:
[W]e’ve never had an incoming president who has publically and repeatedly demeaned women and said derogatory things about women. And I think that’s what makes this is a really unique situation and elevates it above a situation of just doing your job as a Rockette as you would for any other event and elevates it to a moral issue, a woman’s rights issue. What does this say, the optics of having the Rockettes perform at Trump’s inauguration? How does that normalize these comments and remarks that Trump has made to women at large and is that OK?
He has talked about grabbing women’s genitals, he has called them names from dogs, pigs, slobs, crooked, nasty. And to have a beautiful line of women dancing behind him I think on a larger level kind of normalizes his derogatory comments. I have Republican female family members and even when you bring up his comments they’re very uncomfortable and they still agree that this is a women’s rights issue....
The whole MarieClair.com article is available here.
To listen to the MSNBC interview with Autumn Withers, go here.
The Fulbright Program, funded by the U.S. government and private sources, gives prestigious scholarships to about 8,000 recipients yearly—for students, academics, artists and others in the U.S. to study and do research abroad and for recipients in other countries to do the same in the U.S. After the presidential election, three past and current Fulbright grant recipients wrote an open letter expressing alarm at Trump’s victory. The letter has gathered signatures from over 1,500 other past and current Fulbright scholarship recipients from 95 countries.
Their letter says in part: “We have, for the last eighteen months, watched the electoral process unfold in the United States as the president-elect openly engaged in demagoguery against a number of vulnerable populations, courted hate groups, threatened the press, and promised vindictive actions against his opponents. This is not populism; it is recklessness. The consequence could be dire for both international cooperation and peace. We are now worried by the prospect of his inauguration into one of the world’s most powerful offices with the power to carry out his stated intentions. While we respect the American electoral system, we write to express our deepest concerns.”
The letter and list of signatories are available online here.
Franz Wasserman, 96 years old, was a youth in Germany during the 1930s and saw the rise of the Nazis first-hand. He’s never considered himself an activist. But with the election of Trump, he felt he had to act. He wrote a letter to U.S. senators warning of the parallels between Trump and Hitler—and shared it with others. Jerry Lange, a columnist for the Seattle Times, received a copy, and he wrote a piece on Wasserman that appeared on December 26.
Wasserman begins the letter: “I was born in Munich, Germany, in 1920. I lived there during the rise of the Nazi Party and left for the U.S.A. in 1938. The elements of the Nazi regime were the suppression of dissent, the purging of the dissenters and undesirables, the persecution of communists, Jews and homosexuals and the ideal of the Arians as the master race. These policies started immediately after Hitler came to power, at first out of sight but escalated gradually leading to the Second World War and the holocaust. Meanwhile most Germans were lulled into complacency by all sorts of wonderful projects and benefits.”
Today, Wasserman writes, “The neo-Nazis and the KKK have become more prominent and get recognition in the press. We are all familiar with Trump’s remarks against all Muslims and all Mexicans. But there has not been anything as alarming as the appointment of Steve Bannon as Trump’s Chief Strategist. Bannon has, apparently, made anti-Semitic remarks for years, has recently condemned Muslims and Jews and he and Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the pick as National Security Adviser, advocate the political and cultural superiority of the white race. At the same time Trump is trying to control the press... We can hope that our government of checks and balances will be more resistant than the Weimar Republic was. Don’t count on it.”
The Seattle Times article with quotes from Franz Wasserman and his story is available here.
The following “Statement by Feminist Scholars on the Election of Donald Trump as President” is posted at a number of sites on the Internet and so far has more than 900 signatories:
“On Tuesday, November 8, 2016, a sizeable minority of the U.S. electorate chose to send billionaire Donald Trump, an avowed sexist and an unrepentant racist, who has spent nearly forty years antagonizing vulnerable people, to the White House. Spewing hatred at women, people of color, immigrants, Muslims, and those with disabilities is Trump’s most consistent, and well-documented form of public engagement. Trump bragged about sexually assaulting women because, as he quipped, his celebrity made it easy for him to do so. We can only assume that the hostile climate and anxiety about what is to come were contributing factors. The political shift we are witnessing, including the appointment of open bigots to the president-elect’s cabinet, reaffirms the structural disposability and systemic disregard for every person who is not white, male, straight, cisgender, able-bodied, and middle or upper class.
“As a community of feminist scholars, activists and artists, we affirm that the time to act is now. We cannot endure four years of a Trump presidency without a plan. We must protect reproductive justice, fight for Black lives, defend the rights of LGBTQIA people, disrupt the displacement of indigenous people and the stealing of their resources, advocate and provide safe havens for the undocumented, stridently reject Islamophobia, and oppose the acceleration of neoliberal policies that divert resources to the top 1% and abandon those at the bottom of the economic hierarchy. We must also denounce militarization at home and abroad, and climate change denial that threatens to destroy the entire planet.
“We must also reject calls to compromise, to understand, or to collaborate. We cannot and will not comply. Our number one priority is to resist. We must resist the instantiation of autocracy. We must resist this perversion of democracy. We must refuse spin and challenge any narratives that seek to call this moment “democracy at work.” This is not democracy; this is the rise of a 21st century U.S. version of fascism. We must name it, so we can both confront and defeat it. The most vulnerable, both here and abroad, cannot afford for us to equivocate or remain silent. The threats posed by settler colonialism and empire around the globe have never been more real, nor has our resolve to oppose these injustices ever been stronger. Concretely, within the U.S., we oppose the building of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, and the establishment of a registry for Muslim residents.
“We owe this moment and the communities we fight for our very best thinking, teaching, and organizing. We must find creative solutions to address the immediate needs of those who will be acutely affected within the first 100 days of Trump’s presidency. We must push ourselves into new, and more precise and radical analytical frameworks that can help us to articulate the stakes of this moment.
“The most important thing we can do in this moment is to make an unqualified commitment to those on the margins through our actions, insist that the media be allowed to do its job; and protect the right to protest and dissent. We recognize clearly that our silence will not protect us. Silence, in the aftermath of 11/8 is not merely a lack of words; it is a profound inertia of liberatory thought and praxis. So - what are we waiting for? We are who we are waiting for. We pledge to stand and fight, with fierce resolve, for the values and principles we believe in and the people we love.”
The statement and list of signatories is available here.
Shortly after Trump’s election, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) in New York City issued this statement:
"We send love and solidarity to all those who are hurting and afraid that Donald Trump’s America excludes them. We share the despair of the millions who are in shock that a candidate supported by the KKK has won the presidency of the United States.
"If there is a silver lining in this election result it is that it is impossible now to deny the racism, sexism, and xenophobia that have been part of America for centuries. Our duty is to stand together with all those who dissent from this bigotry and to defend and protect vulnerable communities. That has been CCR’s mission for 50 years, and we will work harder than ever to defend civil and human rights and the U.S. Constitution.
"The dangers of a Trump presidency go beyond the attacks on people of color, women, Muslims, immigrants, refugees, LGBTQI people, and people with disabilities. His campaign was marked by the strategies and tactics of authoritarian regimes: endorsing and encouraging violence against political protesters, threatening to jail his opponent, refusing to say he would accept the results of the election if he lost, punishing critical press. Together with all those who value freedom, justice, and self-determination, we must resist and prevent at all costs a slide into American fascism.
"Resistance is our civic duty."
Lauren Duca is an editor for Teen Vogue magazine and has been a contributing reporter/writer for several other magazines including Huffington Post, Vice, New York, and The New Yorker. In a December 10, article published in Teen Vogue titled “Donald Trump Is Gaslighting America,” she writes:
“Trump won the Presidency by gas light. His rise to power has awakened a force of bigotry by condoning and encouraging hatred, but also by normalizing deception. Civil rights are now on trial, though before we can fight to reassert the march toward equality, we must regain control of the truth. If that seems melodramatic, I would encourage you to dump a bucket of ice over your head while listening to ‘Duel of the Fates.’ Donald Trump is our President now; it’s time to wake up.
“‘Gas lighting’ is a buzzy name for a terrifying strategy currently being used to weaken and blind the American electorate. We are collectively being treated like Bella Manningham in the 1938 Victorian thriller from which the term ‘gas light’ takes its name. In the play, Jack terrorizes his wife Bella into questioning her reality by blaming her for mischievously misplacing household items which he systematically hides. Doubting whether her perspective can be trusted, Bella clings to a single shred of evidence: the dimming of the gas lights that accompanies the late night execution of Jack’s trickery. The wavering flame is the one thing that holds her conviction in place as she wriggles free of her captor’s control.
“To gas light is to psychologically manipulate a person to the point where they question their own sanity, and that’s precisely what Trump is doing to this country.... At the hands of Trump, facts have become interchangeable with opinions, blinding us into arguing amongst ourselves, as our very reality is called into question.... The good news about this boiling frog scenario is that we’re not boiling yet. Trump is not going to stop playing with the burner until America realizes that the temperature is too high. It’s on every single one of us to stop pretending it’s always been so hot in here...
“The road ahead is a treacherous one. There are unprecedented amounts of ugliness to untangle, from deciding whether our President can be an admitted sexual predator to figuring out how to stop him from threatening the sovereignty of an entire religion. It’s incredible that any of those things could seem like a distraction from a greater peril, or be only the cherry-picked issues in a seemingly unending list of gaffes, but the gaslights are flickering. When defending each of the identities in danger of being further marginalized, we must remember the thing that binds this pig-headed hydra together. As we spin our newfound rage into action, it is imperative to remember, across identities and across the aisle, as a country and as individuals, we have nothing without the truth.”
To read the whole article go here.
On December 19, Summer Brennan, an award-winning investigative journalist, author, and visiting scholar at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University, tweeted:
“Trump is a fascist. I promise to be a siren going off about this national disaster until it is averted or stopped. #resist”
In an open letter to Trump dated December 13, constitutional legal scholars associated with law schools across the U.S. wrote, “Some of your statements and actions during the campaign and since the election cause us great concern about your commitment to our constitutional system.”
The open letter gets into some of these issues: First Amendment protection of the rights of free speech and free press; “poisonous anti-Muslim rhetoric”; violation of government checks and balances; threats to overturn the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion; appointment of Alabama Senator Sessions, with a “troubling history on voting rights and civil rights,” as Attorney General; “baseless charges concerning voter fraud”; and “inflammatory rhetoric” that has been “taken as invitation to discriminate and to act out in all kinds of hate-filled ways.”
In the point on anti-Muslim attacks, the open letter notes: “To make matters worse, your proposed national security advisor, Michael Flynn, has described what he calls ‘Islamism’ as a ‘vicious cancer inside the body of 1.7 billion people’ that ‘has to be excised.’ Such rhetoric is shocking in its ignorance and bigotry; it must not become normalized. We continue to hear talk of a ‘Muslim registry’ being created by your administration—or a nationality-based registry that would be a proxy for religious discrimination. To our national shame, the federal government during World War II carried out—and the Supreme Court’s discredited Korematsu decision upheld—the mass internment of Japanese Americans based upon no individualized suspicion of wrongdoing; the federal government under President Ronald Reagan subsequently apologized and paid reparations. We urge you to reconsider your naming of Flynn and to renounce a Muslim registry or anything like it.”
The open letter concludes: “Although we sincerely hope that you will take your constitutional oath seriously, so far you have offered little indication that you will. We feel a responsibility to challenge you in the court of public opinion, and we hope that those directly aggrieved by your administration will challenge you in the courts of law. We call upon legal conservatives who cherish constitutional values to join us in speaking law to power. And we call upon citizens, lawyers, educators, public officials, and religious leaders to use every legal means available to protect the most vulnerable members of our society and our constitutional guarantees. At no point that any of us can remember has this need been more imperative than it is now.”
See a pdf of the open letter and list of signatories here.
America Ferrera is an actress who has won many awards, including an Emmy, a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Guild Award. In a December 14 interview, she was asked, “How are you feeling about the future of our environment during the Trump administration?” She said:
“When you have a president-elect who says he doesn’t even know if climate change is real, for the next four to eight years, the future looks pretty horrible. We know that climate change is real, and yet he’s still questioning it. So, that’s pretty terrifying. We haven’t had any time to waste for a long time now, and it’s a pretty devastating thing to start moving backward. So yes, I think that it’s really daunting. But we have to be committed to staying alert and staying awake and staying educated and using our voices to push back. It doesn’t mean it’s gonna be easy, or there’s ever going to be a defining last fight where we win and we never have to go back and defend the idea that climate change is the real thing we need to pay attention to. But we can’t give up the fight.”
During his presidential campaign, many musicians, actors, and other celebrities spoke out against Donald Trump. And now he and his team are having a hard time getting musicians to perform at his inauguration. A number of celebrities have been asked and refused, and some have made it clear that if they are asked, they will refuse.
Read more here
On November 20, Sarah Houghton wrote an Open Letter to Julie Todaro, President of the American Library Association, protesting a press release from the ALA in which Todaro stated, “We are ready to work with President-elect Trump, his transition team, incoming administration and members of Congress to bring more economic opportunity to all Americans and advance other goals we have in common.”
Houghton has been an active member of the ALA for 16 years and says, “I have never before this week considered canceling my membership.” Houghton says in her letter: “I am absolutely not ready to work with President-elect Trump. He has stood for racism, prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination for his entire life—including during his campaign. Those are all things ALA stands firmly against. Explain to me why we’re ready to work with a bigot? Because I’m not ready for that at all. The rest of this release went on to detail some of the things libraries do for communities—coming off as a weak and pandering missive begging for scraps and, in truth, coming from a place of fear.”
Houghton points to another ALA press release that highlights “how libraries can advance specific policy priorities of the incoming Trump administration in the areas of entrepreneurship, services to veterans and broadband adoption and use” and says:
“This trajectory away from justice and toward collaboration with a fascist regime disturbs me greatly. These comments are tone deaf and, not only do not represent my values as a librarian, but do not represent the shared values of the American Library Association and its membership. There is a time to walk a middle road, to give voice to a moderate viewpoint of an organization’s membership. This is not that time. This is the time to stand tall and proud, and give voice to the fiery ethics and values that our profession has held dear for so long in the face of fascism and bigotry.
“I have no intention of supporting this incoming administration in any way whatsoever. With the transition team and other appointments being floated in the press, President-elect Trump has made it clear that racism, sexism, bigotry, assault, discrimination of all kinds, and the destruction of basic civil liberties are foundational to his administration’s philosophy. I refuse to be complicit in the work of the Trump administration and cannot in good faith remain part of a professional organization that chooses to be complicit.”
Read the whole letter here.
Anthony Bourdain, currently host of CNN’s travel and food show Parts Unknown, was asked in a recent interview about sushi chef Alessandro Borgognone’s decision to move his restaurant to Trump’s Washington, DC, hotel. Bourdain said he would “never eat in his restaurant” and felt “utter and complete contempt” for the chef. He explained, “I’m not asking you to start putting up barricades now, but when they come and ask you, ‘Are you with us?’ you do have an option. You can say, ‘No thanks, guys. I don’t look good in a brown shirt. Makes me look a little, I don’t know, not great. It’s not slimming.’” In a tweet on December 22, Bourdain said, “I am not ‘boycotting’ anything. I choose to not patronize chefs who tacitly support deporting half the people they’ve ever worked with”—clear reference to Trump’s threat to deport millions of Mexican immigrants.
José Andrés operates more than a dozen restaurants in cities including Washington, DC; Miami; Las Vegas; and Los Angeles. In 2015, after Trump made disgusting racist comments about Mexican immigrants, Andrés withdrew the commitment he’d made to open a restaurant in Trump’s new DC hotel. Trump sued him for breach of contract, seeking $10 million in damages. Andrés countersued, and said, “More than half of my team is Hispanic, as are many of our guests. And, as a proud Spanish immigrant and recently naturalized American citizen myself, I believe that every human being deserves respect, regardless of immigration status.” Andrés tweeted on December 19: “I am a proud immigrant!! To my fellow immigrants thank you for the amazing work you do every day. #ToImmigrantsWithLove” Trump is required to appear to be deposed in Andrés’s suit, just weeks before his scheduled inauguration.
At the December 18 “We Rock with Standing Rock” benefit concert in Los Angeles, singer Fiona Apple did a fiery performance of her version of the Christmas standard “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire” that begins: “Trump’s nuts roasting on an open fire...” She ends with “Donald Trump... Fuck You!” to the loud cheers of the audience. Watch it here:
George Polisner, a top executive at the tech corporation Oracle, publicly resigned from the company on December 19 after Oracle co-CEO Safra Catz announced she was going to join Trump’s presidential transition team. Catz was among the executives from major tech companies, including Amazon, Google, and Apple, who met with Trump last week—a shameful meeting that helped to lend legitimacy to the Trump-Pence fascist cabal. When Polisner learned of this, he sent his letter to Catz and at the same time posted it on the LinkedIn website.
His resignation letter says in part, “Trump stokes fear, hatred and violence toward people of color, Muslims and immigrants. It is well-known that hate crimes are surging as he has provided license for this ignorance-based expression of malice.... He seeks to eviscerate environmental protections, the public education system, LGBTQ rights and women’s rights.”
And Polisner says in the letter: “I am not with President-elect Trump and I am not here to help him in any way. In fact—when his policies border on the unconstitutional, the criminal and the morally unjust—I am here to oppose him in every possible and legal way.” (emphasis in the original)
Polisner told the UK Guardian that he decided to make his resignation letter public because he “decided it was too important to die as a private letter” and that “I thought I could either be a role model in terms of a path forward or a cautionary tale.”
Read George Polisner’s resignation letter here.
Michael Sheen is a Welsh stage and screen actor whose work includes starring roles in the 2008 film Frost/Nixon and the current Showtime series Masters of Sex. On December 17, the Sunday Times of London ran a profile on him, titled “Michael Sheen gets political. This time it’s for real.” The writer of the profile had expected Sheen to discuss his role in the upcoming sci-fi film Passengers. “Instead, Sheen, 47, wants to talk about politics. Lately, it’s been bothering him a lot. No, that’s not nearly strong enough. What he calls the ‘demagogic, fascistic’ drift of politics in the western world in the past few years, culminating in Donald Trump’s election victory, has left Sheen horrified, furious and determined to do everything he can to counter it. It’s why, after several years of increasing commitments to a broad spread of causes, including the NHS, Unicef, the Freedom of Information Act, fighting homelessness and campaigning against fracking, the actor is preparing to go all in. He plans to start fighting the rise of the ‘hard populist right’—evident in France, Austria, Poland, Hungary, the Netherlands, Britain and the United States—via grassroots organizing in his beloved Port Talbot (he pronounces it “P’Talbot”) and see where it takes him.” (Port Talbot is Sheen’s hometown in Wales.)
Later, the profile quotes Sheen saying, “In the same way as the Nazis had to be stopped in Germany in the Thirties, this thing that is on the rise has to be stopped. But it has to be understood before it can be stopped.”
The whole profile is available at the Times website here (the site requires registration for free access).
A website called “Professor Watchlist,” run by a group called Turning Point USA, has posted the names of more than 200 professors they accuse of putting forward “leftist propaganda” and “discriminating” against right-wing students. This campus witch-hunt is a sign of the time of Trump.
Among the names appearing on the Watchlist are two Notre Dame academics: philosophy professor Gary Gutting and Iris Outlaw, director of Multicultural Student Programs and Services. The Watchlist said Gutting was added because he wrote that the country’s “permissive gun laws are a manifestation of racism,” and Outlaw because she “taught a ‘white privilege’ seminar that pledged to help students acknowledge and understand their white privilege.”
In response, more than 100 Notre Dame faculty members published an open letter in the Observer, the student newspaper at Notre Dame, defying the Professor Watchlist. Their statement said in part: “We surmise that the purpose of your list is to shame and silence faculty who espouse ideas you reject. But your list has had a different effect upon us. We are coming forward to stand with the professors you have called ‘dangerous,’ reaffirming our values and recommitting ourselves to the work of teaching students to think clearly, independently, and fearlessly.
“So please add our names, the undersigned faculty at the University of Notre Dame, to the Professor Watchlist. We wish to be counted among those you are watching.”
The full letter and list of the names are available at the Observer site.
"What if Trump has shown himself beyond doubt and with absolute certainty to be a demagogue and bigot and xenophobe and has given space and voice to concordant voices in the country and in his emerging Legion of Doom cabinet? In that reality, resistance isn't about mindless obstruction by people blinded by the pain of ideological defeat or people gorging on sour grapes. To the contrary, resistance then is an act of radical, even revolutionary, patriotism. Resistance isn't about damaging the country, but protecting it..."
Read the whole column here
More than 500 members of the faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have issued a statement opposing Trump’s official appointments and “upholding the value of science and diversity.” The signers include people from every academic department at MIT, nine department and program heads, and four Nobel Prize recipients. Notable signatories to date include Susan Solomon, Co-Chair of the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; Tim Berners-Lee, World Wide Web inventor; Noam Chomsky, Institute Professor Emeritus; Joichi Ito, Director of the MIT Media Lab; and Junot Díaz, Pulitzer Prize winning author.
This is an important development, and this kind of stand needs to spread to other campuses and through the academic community, even as people get more clarity on the actual fascist nature of Trump and the incoming regime. Read the MIT faculty statement here.
New York Daily News columnist Shaun King's writes: "Now, in the name of a peaceful transition, both President Obama and Hillary Clinton are striking a conciliatory tone. I understand that such a tone is a tradition in American politics, but everything about Donald Trump and this election breaks with tradition. President Obama may feel obligated to strike such a tone, but I don't have such an obligation. Perhaps President Obama feels that by striking such a tone, it makes it more likely that Donald Trump will be moderate after his inauguration. I don't believe that for one second."
His column concludes: "We can't wait until he does those things before we act against him. We must outsmart and out-organize his team. I implore you to ignore anybody saying anything other than that. They've been wrong all year. We must act and we must act now."
Read Shaun King's piece here.
"Trump is saying Hitler-level things in public... And I feel like it's dangerous for us to be complacent"
Read John Legend's comments here.
During the live TV broadcast of the American Music Awards on Sunday night, November 20, the punk rock band Green Day let loose with a defiant condemnation of Donald Trump. In the middle of performing “Bang Bang,” from their latest album Revolution Radio, the band, led by singer Billie Joe Armstrong, broke into the chant:
“No Trump! No KKK! No fascist USA!”
ABC TV executives were reportedly thrown “completely off guard.” The audience gave Green Day a standing ovation.
This is the kind of bold, truth-telling denunciation of Trump—calling out what he actually represents—that we need much more of, right now!
Watch a video clip here.
Whatever place we now live in is not the same place it was on Nov. 7. No matter how the rest of the world looked at us on Nov. 7, they will now look at us differently ...
With Trump's election, I think that the ideal of an objective, truthful journalism is dead, never to be revived. Like Nixon and Sarah Palin before him, Trump ran against the media, boomeranging off the public's contempt for the press. He ran against what he regarded as media elitism and bias, and he ran on the idea that the press disdained working-class white America. Among the many now-widening divides in the country, this is a big one, the divide between the media and working-class whites, because it creates a Wild West of information – a media ecology in which nothing can be believed except what you already believe.
With the mainstream media so delegitimized — a delegitimization for which they bear a good deal of blame, not having had the courage to take on lies and expose false equivalencies — they have very little role to play going forward in our politics. I suspect most of them will surrender to Trumpism — if they were able to normalize Trump as a candidate, they will no doubt normalize him as president. Cable news may even welcome him as a continuous entertainment and ratings booster. And in any case, like Reagan, he is bulletproof. The media cannot touch him, even if they wanted to. Presumably, there will be some courageous guerillas in the mainstream press, a kind of Resistance, who will try to fact-check him. But there will be few of them, and they will be whistling in the wind. Trump, like all dictators, is his own truth.
Read more here.
Two days after Trump’s election, Robert Ivy, the CEO and executive vice president of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), sent a memorandum to the organization's members saying, “The AIA and its 89,000 members are committed to working with President-elect Trump to address the issues our country faces, particularly strengthening the nation’s aging infrastructure. … It is now time for all of us to work together to advance policies that help our country move forward.”
When Frederick “Fritz” Read, the founder and head of Read & Company Architects in Baltimore, saw this, he acted immediately. He sent a letter condemning Ivy’s statement and declaring his resignation from the AIA. He wrote: “The alacrity with which Robert Ivy hopped out there to promise the President-Elect that the AIA will play nice with his administration, without even a pro forma caution that what Mr. Trump has promised and threatened are deeply antithetical to the values that many of us cherish, is the final straw for me, the last bit of evidence I needed, that our only serious interest as an organization has become a craven interest in securing our piece of the action. The AIA does not represent my personal or professional interests. Please consider this my resignation from the AIA, effective immediately, and remove both my name and that of my firm from your membership records. I am appalled.”
In a subsequent email to an official of the Baltimore AIA chapter who talked about how AIA relations with the U.S. government have always been and should continue to be “neutral,” Read wrote: “Am so curious how a pledge made explicitly on behalf of all 89,000 members of open-ended and unqualified support for a climate-change-denying, xenophobic, racist, sexist, repeated bankrupt can possibly be understood as a statement of organizational neutrality. … Ours is not an honorable history of willingness to forgo enrichment simply on principle, and this statement slips all too closely to the worst of that: are we all too young or forgetful to recall that Albert Speer was one of ours?” Speer was Hitler’s chief architect who headed major projects under the Nazi regime and became Minister of Armaments and War Production during World War 2.
Under mounting criticism from architects, architecture faculty, and other architecture professionals, Ivy and other leading AIA officials were forced to apologize to the membership for their craven remarks about working with the Trump administration.
Read more about this here at Architect News online
In the November 10 issue of their online newsletter “Endangered Earth,” the Center for Biological Diversity included a statement saying, “We're only thinking about one thing right now: stopping Donald Trump from destroying the planet.” The statement goes on to say, “If President Trump carries out the disastrous promises he made while campaigning, the Environmental Protection Agency will be gutted, the Endangered Species Act will be repealed, old-growth forests will be clearcut, hard-fought global climate change agreements will be undermined, and polluters will be given free rein over our water and air.”
And the center vowed, “There's no way in hell we're letting that happen.” Read the entire statement here.
Read the Center's piece here.
Hostility to immigrants and refugees strikes particularly close to home for us as historians of the Jews. As an immigrant people, Jews have experienced the pain of discrimination and exclusion, including by this country in the dire years of the 1930s. Our reading of the past impels us to resist any attempts to place a vulnerable group in the crosshairs of nativist racism. It is our duty to come to their aid and to resist the degradation of rights that Mr. Trump's rhetoric has provoked.
However, it is not only in defense of others that we feel called to speak out. We witnessed repeated anti-Semitic expressions and insinuations during the Trump campaign. Much of this anti-Semitism was directed against journalists, either Jewish or with Jewish-sounding names. The candidate himself refused to denounce—and even retweeted--language and images that struck us as manifestly anti-Semitic. By not doing so, his campaign gave license to haters of Jews, who truck in conspiracy theories about world Jewish domination.
Read entire statement here
Issa Rae is star of the HBO series Insecure. Sunday night, January 9, on the red carpet at the Golden Globes awards in Los Angeles., she was asked what she thought of Trump. Rae said:
Every single time I see a tweet from that man, every single time I see the administration that he’s bringing in, it just gets worse and worse. And the scariest part to me is how normal it’s becoming to some people. And I think we just have to keep calling things out, it’s like nope, you’re lying, nope, that’s not true, nope, that doesn’t work that way. As long as we don’t continue to let him slide, then there might be some hope, but it’s scary.
Debra Messing, best known for her starring role in the TV comedy series Will & Grace, tweeted on December 18:
This is a regime that will strip away the rights of millions. Threaten the lives of millions. And threatens the planet. #NOFASCISTUSA
Messing is one of the signatories of the Call to Action of RefuseFascism.org. On Wednesday, January 4, when the Call appeared as a full page in the New York Times, she tweeted a photo of that Times page with the #NoFascistUSA hashtag and link to refusefascism.org.
Philip Elliot is the editor-in-chief of Into The Void, a print and digital literary magazine based in Dublin, Ireland, “dedicated to providing fantastic fiction, nonfiction, poetry and visual art from all over the world.” In a recent roundtable with several editors, the online journal The Review Review asked the question “How Will a Trump Presidency Impact Literary Magazines?” Elliot answered:
Fascism is rising. Not just in the U.S. but across Europe too. In the West we’re experiencing similar circumstances that led to its rise a century ago and now the wheel has turned again. People say to me, especially because I live in Ireland, that I’m overreacting to this; that’s it’s just more politics, everything will blow over, etc. They fail to see the bigger picture. What’s been put into motion here, catalyzed by the election but arisen from a far more complex sense of discontent and fear, is the greatest threat to our newly-progressive societies that we’ve ever seen. More than anything else, my fear is that we as artists and curators of art will allow our way of thinking to become the “It’s just politics, it will all blow over soon” attitude. I fear that because nothing terrible is going to happen right away, we will normalize this whole affair and accept it. What people forget is that Hitler began his slow climb to absolute power in 1918. Bad things are coming, that’s for certain, but they will come slowly, and they will come under the guise of good. As writers, we peer under the masks of things for a living and that skill is more important now than ever. Art’s duty to criticize the bad and protect the good is infinitely more important in times of darkness. It reminds us what we can be. And it must also remind us of the terrible evil we once did. Because if we truly remembered, how could we have let this happen again? At Into the Void, we’ll be paying close attention to work that criticizes the actions of our supposed leaders in the months and years to come.
Elliot’s comments and others can be found here.
When the St. Louis Art Museum announced that they were making an artwork from their collection available on loan to serve as a centerpiece of the Trump inauguration luncheon, art historian Ivy Cooper and artist Ilene Berman began an online petition calling for the cancellation of the loan. According to the petition, the 1855 painting, “Verdict of the People” by George Caleb Bingham, “depicts a small-town Missouri election, and symbolizes the democratic process in mid-19th century America.” The petition goes on to say:
We object to the painting’s use as an inaugural backdrop and an implicit endorsement of the Trump presidency and his expressed values of hatred, misogyny, racism and xenophobia. We reject the use of the painting to suggest that Trump’s election was truly the “verdict of the people,” when in fact the majority of votes—by a margin of over three million—were cast for Trump’s opponent. Finally, we consider the painting a representation of our community, and oppose its use as such at the inauguration.
Art can be used to make powerful statements. Its withdrawal can do the same. Join us in our campaign.
As of January 6, close to 2,700 people have signed the petition, which is available here.
In a January article at Gothamist.com, an article by Rebecca Fishbein titled “Celebrities, Activists Publish Anti-Fascist, Anti-Trump Ad In NY Times“ said, in part:
Rosie O’Donnell, Debra Messing, and a handful of celebrities and activists have joined forces with RefuseFascism.org, a Cornel West and Carl Dix-helmed group dedicated to opposing the incoming Trump Administration and calling Trump’s presidency “illegitimate.”
The group took out a full page ad in the Times yesterday calling for a month long resistance effort against Trump: [facsimile of the ad is included]
Refuse Fascism is also asking for donations to help reprint the Times ad in papers across the country, as well as “to support volunteers going to D.C., to produce millions of copies of Refuse Fascism material and get them out everywhere, and to support organizers and speakers.”
It’s a noble cause, and there’s nothing wrong with celebrities speaking out. Influential people should be speaking out against Trump, and advocating activism, and fighting him at every turn....
Rafael Jesús González, poet and Professor Emeritus of Creative Writing & Literature, has taught at the University of Oregon, Western State College of Colorado, Central Washington State University, the University of Texas El Paso, and Laney College, Oakland where he founded the Mexican and Latin American Studies Dept. In a New Year’s Eve blog post, González wrote of Donald Trump:
Shall I repeat the litany of his faults—his misogyny, his racism, his homophobia, his bigotry, his profound ignorance? His analysis, his description, his judgment of anything does not go beyond stock superlatives; he knows nothing of ideas, much less policy, not an iota of science. “I am a business man,” he says proudly as if that justified all his conniving, his dishonesty, his thievery. Should we doubt it, he has his billions to prove it. So the empire now gets its own, homegrown Caligula. Sociopathic megalomaniac, he too may come to declare himself divine. True, we have been governed by criminals before (can one govern an empire and not be criminal?), but this is a case apart.
It is the cruelty I fear, the utter heartlessness in the face of suffering, the willingness, nay, the intent to cause suffering and pain. Nor compassion nor justice is a hallmark of the 1%, the Republican Party he represents and that brought him to power. (Being a Democrat is no guarantee of decency, but it seems that a decent Republican is an oxymoron.) With Republican control of Congress, the Supreme Court, and the Executive (the proposed Cabinet reads like a Hitlerian wish-list), full-fledged U. S. fascism has come, a fascism prepared to destroy the Earth itself for the sake of wealth and power. Can it be called anything but madness?
He went on to write:
Democracy once lost is very hard to restore. Our resistance must be immediate and overwhelming, our love fierce, our joy protected. Our homes, our neighborhoods, our cities must be made bulwarks of justice, of refuge. Our schools sanctuary of freedom of thought and inquiry, our churches voices for justice rooted in compassion. Much is demanded of us and great may be the sacrifice, but if we all share it, it will be much, much less. Let us then take to the streets and public places dressed in our most joyful colors, making music with our drums and flutes, dragging our pianos out our doors if we must, dancing, singing, chanting, turning all our art into protest and celebration—and make our spaces truly our own.
Read the whole piece by Rafael Jesús González, titled “Thoughts for the Last Day of the Year 2016,” available in English and Spanish here.
More than 1,100 law school professors from across the country are behind a letter sent to the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, January 2, calling for the rejection of Trump’s nomination of Jeff Sessions for attorney general. The letter says (in full):
We are 1140 faculty members from 170 different law schools in 48 states across the country. We urge you to reject the nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions for the position of Attorney General of the United States.
In 1986, the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee, in a bipartisan vote, rejected President Ronald Reagan’s nomination of then-U.S. Attorney Sessions for a federal judgeship, due to statements Sessions had made that reflected prejudice against African Americans. Nothing in Senator Sessions’ public life since 1986 has convinced us that he is a different man than the 39-year-old attorney who was deemed too racially insensitive to be a federal district court judge.
Some of us have concerns about his misguided prosecution of three civil rights activists for voter fraud in Alabama in 1985, and his consistent promotion of the myth of voter-impersonation fraud. Some of us have concerns about his support for building a wall along our country’s southern border. Some of us have concerns about his robust support for regressive drug policies that have fueled mass incarceration. Some of us have concerns about his questioning of the relationship between fossil fuels and climate change. Some of us have concerns about his repeated opposition to legislative efforts to promote the rights of women and members of the LGBTQ community. Some of us share all of these concerns.
All of us believe it is unacceptable for someone with Senator Sessions’ record to lead the Department of Justice.
The Attorney General is the top law enforcement officer in the United States, with broad jurisdiction and prosecutorial discretion, which means that, if confirmed, Jeff Sessions would be responsible for the enforcement of the nation’s civil rights, voting, immigration, environmental, employment, national security, surveillance, antitrust, and housing laws.
As law faculty who work every day to better understand the law and teach it to our students, we are convinced that Jeff Sessions will not fairly enforce our nation’s laws and promote justice and equality in the United States. We urge you to reject his nomination.
To read the statement with list of signatories go here.
When the book publisher Simon & Schuster recently signed Milo Yiannopoulos, writer for Breitbart News Network, to a $250,000 book deal for the Threshold imprint, there was immediate outrage. Breitbart is a neo-Nazi, misogynistic, white-supremacist website whose former owner, Steve Bannon, is now Trump’s chief strategist and senior counselor. As technology editor at Breitbart, Yiannopoulos promoted the vicious campaign known as “GamerGate,” a flood of viciously degrading attacks and terroristic threats against the very small number of prominent women in the video-game development community. Among the despicable things he’s written is: “...Donald Trump and the rest of the alpha males will continue to dominate the internet without feminist whining. It will be fun! Like a big fraternity...” And Yiannopoulos was banned from Twitter this summer after his followers mounted a racist harassment campaign against Black comedian/actor Leslie Jones.
After the Simon & Schuster signing of Yiannopoulos, the Chicago Review of Books tweeted:
In response to this disgusting validation of hate, we will not cover a single @simonschuster book in 2017.
A bookstore in Dublin, Ireland, tweeted that it would not be carrying any Simon & Schuster titles:
Sometimes it’s a tough call for bookshops between respecting free speech and not promoting hate speech. Sometimes not. Byebye
Writer Danielle Henderson’s memoir is scheduled for publication by Simon & Schuster next year. Henderson wrote in a series of tweets:
I’m looking at my @simonschuster contract, and unfortunately there’s no clause for “what if we decide to publish a white nationalist”
But know this: i’m well aware of what hill I am willing to die on, and my morals and values are at the top of that list.
I will happily go back to slinging coffee—I’m not afraid to stand for what I believe in, and I make a MEAN cappuccino foam
Comedian Sara Silverman tweeted:
The guy has freedom of speech but to fund him & give him a platform tells me a LOT about @simonschuster YUCK AND BOO AND GROSS
Shannon Coulter, a marketing specialist who started a campaign to boycott Ivanka Trump products, tweeted (“@Lesdoggg” is Leslie Jones’ Twitter handle):
@simonschuster are you concerned $250k book deal you gave Milo Yiannopoulos will read as condoning the racist harassment @Lesdoggg endured?
The January 2 announcement that Talladega College, a historically Black college in Alabama, would send its marching band to be part of Trump’s inauguration march was met with immediate outrage from many students and alumni. Nikky Finney, a poet whose 2011 work Head Off & Split won the National Book Award, is an alumna of Talladega and currently a chair in creative writing and Southern Studies at the University of South Carolina. Finney said of Talladega’s decision:
The news that Talladega College has forgotten its steady and proud 150 years of history, by making the decision to not stand in solidarity with other clear-eyed and courageous people, academic institutions, and organizations, protesting the inauguration of one of the most antagonistic, hatred-spewing, unrepentant racists, has simply and unequivocally broken my heart today. Historical Black colleges are duty bound to have and keep a moral center and be of great moral consciousness while also teaching its students lessons about life that they will need going forward, mainly, that just because a billionaire—who cares nothing about their 150 years of American existence—invites them to a fancy, gold-plated, dress-up party, they have the moral right and responsibility to say “no thank you,” especially when the blood, sweat, and tears and bodies, of black, brown, and native people are stuffed in the envelope alongside the RSVP.
This should have been a teachable moment for the President of Talladega College instead it has become a moment of divisiveness and shame. Bags of money and the promise of opportunity have always been waved in front of the faces and lives of struggling human beings, who have historically been relegated to the first-fired and the last-hired slots of life. It has been used to separate us before. It has now been used to separate us again.
Speaking about Trump after his election victory, Stan Van Gundy, coach of the National Basketball Association (NBA) Detroit Pistons, said in part:
We have just thrown a good part of our population under the bus, and I have problems with thinking that this is where we are as a country. It’s tough on [the team], we noticed it coming in. Everybody was a little quiet, and I thought, “Well, maybe the game the other night.” [The Pistons were badly beaten in the game that night.] And so we talked about that, but then Aron Baynes said, “I don’t think that’s why everybody’s quiet. It’s last night.”
It’s just, we have said—and my daughters, the three of them—our society has said, “No, we think you should be second-class citizens. We want you to be second-class citizens. And we embrace a guy who is openly misogynistic as our leader.” I don’t know how we get past that.
Martin Luther King said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but bends toward justice.” I would have believed in that for a long time, but not today.... What we have done to minorities... in this election is despicable. I’m having a hard time dealing with it. This isn’t your normal candidate. I don’t know even know if I have political differences with him. I don’t even know what are his politics. I don’t know, other than to build a wall and “I hate people of color, and women are to be treated as sex objects and as servants to men.” I don’t know how you get past that. I don’t know how you walk into the booth and vote for that. I understand problems with the economy. I understand all the problems with Hillary Clinton, I do. But certain things in our country should disqualify you. And the fact that millions and millions of Americans don’t think that racism and sexism disqualifies you to be our leader, in our country....
We presume to tell other countries about human-rights abuses and everything else. We better never do that again, when our leaders talk to China or anybody else about human-rights abuses. We just elected an openly, brazen misogynist leader and we should keep our mouths shut and realize that we need to be learning maybe from the rest of the world, because we don’t got anything to teach anybody...
To see a YouTube of Van Gundy’s remarks (along with another NBA coach, Gregg Popovich) go here.
Lawrence M. Krauss is a theoretical physicist and cosmologist who is Foundation Professor of the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University, and director of its Origins Project. He was one of the producers of the documentary film The Unbelievers, which promotes a scientific view of the world. An article by Krauss appeared in the December 13 issue of The New Yorker titled, “Donald Trump’s War on Science.” In this article Krauss says:
The first sign of Trump’s intention to spread lies about empirical reality, “1984”-style, was, of course, the appointment of Steve Bannon, the former executive chairman of the Breitbart News Network, as Trump’s “senior counselor and strategist.” This year, Breitbart hosted stories with titles such as “1001 Reasons Why Global Warming Is So Totally Over in 2016,” despite the fact that 2016 is now overwhelmingly on track to be the hottest year on record, beating 2015, which beat 2014, which beat 2013. Such stories do more than spread disinformation. Their purpose is the creation of an alternative reality—one in which scientific evidence is a sham—so that hyperbole and fearmongering can divide and conquer the public.
Bannon isn’t the only propagandist in the new Administration: Myron Ebell, who heads the transition team at the Environmental Protection Agency, is another. In the aughts, as a director at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, he worked to kill a cap-and-trade bill proposed by Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman; in 2012, when the conservative American Enterprise Institute held a meeting about the economics of a possible carbon tax, he asked donors to defund it. It’s possible, of course, to oppose cap-and-trade or carbon taxes in good faith—and yet, in recent years, Ebell’s work has come to center on lies about science and scientists. Today, as the leader of the Cooler Heads Coalition, an anti-climate-science group, Ebell denies the veracity and methodology of science itself. He dismisses complex computer models that have been developed by hundreds of researchers by saying that they “don’t even pass the laugh test.” If Ebell’s methods seem similar to those used by the tobacco industry to deny the adverse health effects of smoking in the nineteen-nineties, that’s because he worked as a lobbyist for the tobacco industry.
When Ebell’s appointment was announced, Jeremy Symons, of the Environmental Defense Fund, said, “I got a sick feeling in my gut.... I can’t believe we got to the point when someone who is as unqualified and intellectually dishonest as Myron Ebell has been put in a position of trust for the future of the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the climate we are going to leave our kids.” Symons was right to be apprehensive: on Wednesday, word came that Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma’s attorney general, will be named the head of the E.P.A. As Jane Mayer has written, it would be hard to find a public official in the United States who is more closely tied to the oil-and-gas industry and who has been more actively opposed to the efforts of the E.P.A. to regulate the environment. In a recent piece for National Review, Pruitt denied the veracity of climate science; he has led the effort among Republican attorneys general to work directly with the fossil-fuel industry in resisting the Clean Air Act. In 2014, a Times investigation found that letters from Pruitt’s office to the E.P.A. and other government agencies had been drafted by energy lobbyists; right now, he is involved in a twenty-eight-state lawsuit against the very agency that he has been chosen to head...
And the Trump Administration is on course to undermine science in another way: through education. Educators have various concerns about Betsy DeVos, Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education—they object to her efforts to shield charter schools from government regulation, for example—but one issue stands above the rest: DeVos is a fundamentalist Christian with a long history of opposition to science. If her faith shapes her policies—and there is evidence that it will—she could shape science education decisively for the worse, by systematically depriving young people, in an era where biotechnology will play a key economic and health role worldwide, of a proper understanding of the very basis of modern biology: evolution....
Taken singly, Trump’s appointments are alarming. But taken as a whole they can be seen as part of a larger effort to undermine the institution of science, and to deprive it of its role in the public-policy debate. Just as Steve Bannon undermines the institution of a fact-based news media, so appointments like Ebell, Pruitt, McMorris Rodgers, Walker, and DeVos advance the false perception that science is just a politicized tool of “the élites.”
...It is not only scientists who should actively fight against this dangerous trend. It is everyone who is concerned about our freedom, health, welfare, and security as a nation—and everyone who is concerned about the planetary legacy we leave for our children.
To read the whole article go here.
Some members of the Mormon church are protesting the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing at Trump’s inauguration. A petition saying “Mormon Tabernacle Choir Should NOT Perform at Trump Inauguration” has now been signed by close to 19,000 people. It says in part: “As members and friends of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we strongly urge the Church to stop this practice and especially for an incoming president who has demonstrated sexist, racist, misogynistic, and xenophobic behavior that does not align with the principles and teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” The online petition can be found here.
After Trump nominated Alabama white supremacist and Senator Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, the American Constitution Society (ACS) at Harvard Law School—one of the most prestigious law schools in the world—wrote a letter to Trump opposing the nomination and began distributing it for signatures through ACS chapters across the country. As of December 22, it was signed by 1,060 law students from many different schools.
The letter points at some of Sessions’s outrageous record:
*“As a four-term member of the U.S. Senate, former Alabama Attorney General and U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama, Senator Sessions consistently opposed laws advancing civil rights, environmental protections, reproductive rights, criminal justice, voting rights, immigration and marriage equality.”
*“During the unsuccessful confirmation hearing [for federal judgeship in 1986], witnesses testified under oath that Sessions described a white civil rights attorney as a ‘race traitor’; referred to a black attorney as ‘boy’; and called the ACLU, NAACP, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, National Council of Churches and other groups ‘un-American organizations.’”
*“During the 1986 hearing, a former colleague also testified that Sessions stated that he believed the Ku Klux Klan was okay, until he learned its members smoked marijuana.”
The letter and signatories are online here.
National Nurses United (NNU) is the largest union of registered nurses in the United States. It recently organized a national network of volunteer RNs to go to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation to meet the first aid needs of thousands who were there to stop the Dakota Access oil pipeline. On December 22, the NNU sent a letter calling on the Senate to reject Trump’s nominee for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Tom Price.
According to a NNU press release, the letter says in part: “If confirmed, it is clear that Rep. Price will pursue policies that substantially erode our nation’s health and security—eliminating health coverage, reducing access, shifting more costs to working people and their families, and throwing our most sick and vulnerable fellow Americans at the mercy of the healthcare industry.”
Price has played a major role in attempts by Republicans to undercut or repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Obama’s healthcare law (see “Tom Price, Trump’s Pick for Health and Human Services: A Slasher of Healthcare for the Poor and Women“). The NNU letter says: “Even today, four years after enactment of the Affordable Care Act, we have seen a drop in U.S. life expectancy rates for the first time in decades, millions of people who self-ration prescription medications or other critical medical treatment due to the high out-of-pocket costs, and continuing disparities in our health care system based on race, gender, age, socio-economic status, or where you live.
“While our organization repeatedly voiced concerns that the ACA did not go far enough, repealing the law, especially the expansion of Medicaid which extended health care coverage to millions of low and moderate income adults, and limits on some of the most chronicled abuses in our present insurance based system, would only exacerbate a healthcare crisis many Americans continue to experience...”
Read the NNU press release here.
On November 29, the American Medical Association (AMA), which represents about a quarter of doctors in the U.S., issued a statement saying that it “strongly supports” Trump’s nomination to head the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Tom Price, and calling on the Senate to “promptly consider and confirm” him for the position.
In response, three physicians from the University of Pennsylvania—Drs. Manik Chhabra, Navin Vij and Jane Zhu—posted a statement online opposing the Trump nominee. The statement has been signed by over 5,500 doctors as of December 16.
Their statement, “The AMA Does Not Speak for Us,” says in part:
We are practicing physicians who deliver healthcare in hospitals and clinics, in cities and rural towns; we are specialists and generalists, and we care for the poor and the rich, the young and the elderly. We see firsthand the difficulties that Americans face daily in accessing affordable, quality healthcare. We believe that in issuing this statement of support for Dr. Price, the AMA has reneged on a fundamental pledge that we as physicians have taken — to protect and advance care for our patients.
We support patient choice. But Dr. Price’s proposed policies threaten to harm our most vulnerable patients and limit their access to healthcare. We cannot support the dismantling of Medicaid, which has helped 15 million Americans gain health coverage since 2014. We oppose Dr. Price’s proposals to reduce funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, a critical mechanism by which poor children access preventative care. We wish to protect essential health benefits like treatment for opioid use disorder, prenatal care, and access to contraception.
We see benefits in market-based solutions to some of our healthcare system’s challenges. Like many others, we advocate for improvements in the way healthcare is delivered. But Dr. Price purports to care about efficiency, while opposing innovations by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid to improve value and eliminate waste in healthcare. He supports plans to privatize Medicare, a critical program which covers 44 million of our elderly patients.
The AMA’s vision statement includes “improving health outcomes” and “better health for all,” and yet by supporting Dr. Price’s candidacy — and therefore, his views — the AMA has not aligned itself with the well-being of patients.
For the complete statement and list of signatories, go here.
Merrill Miller is associate editor of TheHumanist.com and Communications Associate at the American Humanist Association. The January/February 2017 issue of the Humanist includes an article by Miller titled, “Who Will We Speak For? Humanism’s Role in Defending Human Rights and Civil Liberties.” The piece starts with the famous quote from Protestant pastor Martin Niemöller, who spent seven years in one of Hitler’s concentration camps, about how he had not spoken out when the Nazis attacked different sections of the people until there was no one left to speak for him.
Miller writes: “For many humanists and those in the progressive community at large, these past weeks have, in some ways, felt like decades. We’ve seen Hillary Clinton win the popular vote for president by an enormous margin and still lose the Electoral College to Donald Trump, who is now president-elect. We’ve seen Stephen Bannon, who fueled the fires of racism, sexism, and bigotry in his time at Breitbart News, named as a chief strategist for the Trump administration, as climate change deniers and individuals with no respect for church-state separation (Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, for one) are being nominated or considered for other top positions. We’ve heard talk of legislation that would chip away at our constitutional right to free, peaceable assembly, such as Washington State Senator Doug Ericksen’s bill to classify street protests as a form of ‘economic terrorism’...
“Humanists are in a unique position to demonstrate outrage...We must harness that capacity for outrage now—not just to defend church-state separation but to protect all of our basic human rights and civil liberties.
“We can start by directing that outrage at the notion that the government would profile and register people based on their race and religion, as the Muslim registry would do. While current discussions of this registry would focus on immigrants, Trump said during his campaign that he would require all Muslims to register, presumably including US citizens. Humanist groups should reach out to their local mosques and Islamic community centers and ask them what their community needs are and how to help...
“Now is the time for us to stand in solidarity with those who face oppression, whether they are undocumented immigrants in danger of losing their basic human dignity or women in danger of losing their hard-won reproductive rights. We must stand up for all people of color and LGBTQ individuals, who are terrified by the bigotry unleashed by Trump’s campaign and his coming presidency. We must stand up for healthcare for the elderly and for everyone in our nation or else more than 22 million people (as estimated by Vox) will be without it, even though a national, single-payer healthcare system should be considered a human right. We must stand with the labor movement to fight for economic justice for all low-wage workers, whose rights will be threatened by Republican-controlled executive, legislative, and judiciary branches of government. We must do all that we can to protect these and other vulnerable communities and individuals, because the very foundations of our democracy, our civil liberties, and our human rights are at stake. If humanists and nontheists don’t speak up for these marginalized groups while we can, there is a distinct possibility that when we’re specifically threatened, there will be no one left to speak for us.”
To read the full article go here.
Apparently Donald Trump is a fan of the famous Italian opera tenor Andrea Bocelli. When word went out that Trump had approached Bocelli to perform at his inauguration, and there were reports that Bocelli had tentatively agreed (which, if true, is utterly shameful), there was a huge uproar of protest from Bocelli’s fans. Some threatened to #BoycottBocelli if he decided to sing on January 20. Here are a few tweets, among many: “Dumped @AndreaBocelli CD’s in trash, won’t be buying tickets to Feb. Orlando concert after all. DONE with him. Will #boycottBocelli forever.” “Please accept the inauguration offer because the Klu Klux Klan makes great fans!” “Contact @AndreaBocelli's booking agent & manager to warn of #BoycottBocelli if he sings for fascist Trump.” One fan wrote on Facebook: “Mr Bocelli, please do not sing for Donald Trump. He stands for racism, misogyny, and hatred of others. Music is beautiful, sacred. Don’t let this man buy you and desecrate art, hope, and beauty.”
In the face of the outrage from so many of his fans, Bocelli announced he would not be performing at the inauguration. Trump’s people claimed that they had rescinded the invitation.
Earlier, in the summer, the widow and daughters of another famous Italian tenor, Luciano Pavarotti, asked Trump to stop using his recording of Puccini’s aria “Nessun Dorma” at his campaign events. They said that “the values of brotherhood and solidarity which Luciano Pavarotti expressed throughout the course of his artistic career are entirely incompatible with the worldview offered by the candidate Donald Trump.”
Sunshine Sachs is a PR agency that represents stars like Leonardo DiCaprio, Ben Affleck and Natalie Portman. Every year they usually hold a big holiday party, on both the East and West coasts. But this year they didn’t feel the usual “holiday cheer.” CEO Shawn Sachs said, “However I felt the morning after [Trump was elected] was nothing compared to how I felt talking to people in this office, those who felt their citizenship—in a matter of moments—was gone or had been lessened... Being the diverse workplace we are, many of us felt under assault.” So Sunshine Sachs cancelled its annual bicoastal holiday celebrations, and will donate the money that would have been spent for the lavish galas to 16 different organizations, including the ACLU, the Human Rights Campaign, the Environmental Defense Fund and Planned Parenthood. The agency sent out an email saying their decision was a gesture to “defend the values we hold dear.”
Responding to Trump saying he wants to “strengthen and expand” the nuclear capabilities of the U.S., actor George Takei tweeted on Thursday, December 22: “Trump wants to expand our nuclear arsenal. I think of my aunt and baby cousin, found burnt in a ditch in Hiroshima. These weapons must go.”
Takei and his family spent years in one of the U.S. concentration (“internment”) camps for people of Japanese descent during World War 2. In his November 18 op-ed for the Washington Post titled, “They interned my family. Don’t let them do it to Muslims,” Takei wrote:
“During World War II, the government argued that military authorities could not distinguish between alleged enemy elements and peaceful, patriotic Japanese Americans. It concluded, therefore, that all those of Japanese descent, including American citizens, should be presumed guilty and held without charge, trial or legal recourse, in many cases for years. The very same arguments echo today, on the assumption that a handful of presumed radical elements within the Muslim community necessitate draconian measures against the whole, all in the name of national security....
“Let us all be clear: ‘National security’ must never again be permitted to justify wholesale denial of constitutional rights and protections. If it is freedom and our way of life that we fight for, our first obligation is to ensure that our own government adheres to those principles. Without that, we are no better than our enemies.
“Let us also agree that ethnic or religious discrimination cannot be justified by calls for greater security....”
In a December 8 interview on CNN, Takei said that during World War 2, before they were sent to an internment camp, his family was placed on a registry of Japanese Americans and subjected to a curfew: “We were confined to our homes from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. in the morning, imprisoned in our homes at night. Then they froze our bank accounts. We were economically paralyzed. Then the soldiers came... I remember the two soldiers walking up our driveway, marching up our driveway, shiny bayonets on the rifle, stopping at the front porch and with their fists started banging on the front door and that sound resonated throughout the house....”
Takei connected that history to what is happening today: “It is an echo of what we heard from World War II coming from Trump himself. That sweeping statement characterizing all Muslims. There are more than a billion Muslims in this world. To infer they are all terrorists with that kind of sweeping statement is outrageous, in the same way that they characterized all Japanese Americans as enemy aliens.”
At the Nobel Prize ceremony in Stockholm, Sweden, singer Patti Smith performed a moving tribute to Bob Dylan, the winner of this year’s laureate for literature. She chose to sing one of Dylan’s songs—“A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall,” released in 1963, a time when the civil rights movement and anti-Vietnam War protests were a sign of the times.
Check out the performance here:
The final stanza, especially, resonates very powerfully today:
“And what’ll you do now, my blue-eyed son?
And what’ll you do now, my darling young one?
I’m a-goin’ back out ’fore the rain starts a-fallin’
I’ll walk to the depths of the deepest black forest
Where the people are many and their hands are all empty
Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters
Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison
And the executioner’s face is always well hidden
Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten
Where black is the color, where none is the number
And I’ll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it
And reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it
Then I’ll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin’
But I’ll know my song well before I start singin’
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall.”
At a December 7 rally in Washington, DC, to support striking federal workers, actor Danny Glover criticized people who say Trump should be given “a chance.” Glover said, “Give him a chance what? We know who he is. We know exactly who he is. We have to accept that. But we have to fight him every inch. We have to fight him every moment.”
Time magazine had just come with their annual “Person of the Year” issue with Trump on the cover. Glover said, “It’s irresponsible to make him Person of the Year. Based on what? Based on the fact that he won the Electoral College? Based on the fact that he lied to people? Based on the fact that all the stories of all he’s done to women and what he thinks about women? Based on his racism? A racist as Person of the Year? I’m appalled, I’m appalled. I’m angry now that Time magazine would name this person Person of the Year. It’s incredible.” He said this was a “slap in our face” and “the most disrespectful thing.”
Actor and TV personality Rosie O’Donnell has been calling on people to stand up against Trump in a number of recent tweets. In response to someone who tweeted, “we need to organize an anti-Trump inauguration,” O’Donnell tweeted: “no one go – film urself – periscope STANDING keep saying ‘NOT MY PRESIDENT – LIFE – WITH MILLIONS OF OTHERS.” She also wrote “its called STAY HOME – DO NOT WATCH IT.” And she quoted from writer and journalist Norman Cousins: “There is nothing more powerful than an individual acting out of conscience.”
On November 15, IBM Corporation CEO, Ginni Rometty, published an open letter to Donald Trump, offering the tech giant’s cooperation to “advance a national agenda” and offering “ideas that I believe will help achieve the aspiration you articulated” in his Election-night acceptance speech.
The following week, Elizabeth Wood, a senior content specialist in IBM Marketing, wrote her own open letter, denouncing Rometty’s shameless offer to collaborate with the new fascist regime, and resigning from her position.
Wood’s letter said (all emphasis in original):
“Your letter offered the backing of IBM’s global workforce in support of his agenda that preys on marginalized people and threatens my well-being as a woman, a Latina and a concerned citizen. The company’s hurry to do this was a tacit endorsement of his position. ...
“The president-elect has demonstrated contempt for immigrants, veterans, people with disabilities, Black, Latinx, Jewish, Muslim and LGBTQ communities. These groups comprise a growing portion of the company you lead, Ms. Rometty. ...
“When the president-elect follows through on his repeated threats to create a public database of Muslims, what will IBM do? Your letter neglects to mention.1
Read Wood’s entire letter here.
Wood’s action inspired others at IBM to stand up. In early December, 10 current IBM employees started a petition to Rometty insisting that IBM has “a moral and business imperative to uphold the pillars of a free society by declining any projects which undermine liberty, such as surveillance tools threatening freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom from unreasonable search and seizure,” and that “history teach[es] us that accommodating those who unleash forces of aggressive nationalism, bigotry, racism, fear, and exclusion inevitably yields devastating outcomes for millions of innocents.”2 And they specifically demand that IBM execs respect the right of individual employees to “refuse participation in any U.S. contracts that violate constitutional and civil liberties.”
The petition circulated privately at first, and went public on December 19. It now has at least 500 signatories—employees, former employees, IBM stockholders and others in the tech community. The petition is available online here.
1. On December 16, after Wood’s letter was published, as well as a statement from at least 800 tech workers saying they would refuse to work on such a Muslim registry, IBM, as well as Google, Apple and Uber, all told BuzzFeed that they also would refuse. [back]
2. This history includes the fact that IBM put its precursor to the computer—the IBM punch card sorter system—at the service of Hitler’s genocide of Jewish people. In IBM and the Holocaust, Edwin Black writes: “IBM Germany, using its own staff and equipment, designed, executed, and supplied the indispensable technologic assistance Hitler's Third Reich needed to accomplish what had never been done before—the automation of human destruction. More than 2,000 such multi-machine sets were dispatched throughout Germany, and thousands more throughout German-dominated Europe. Card sorting machines were established in every major concentration camp. People were moved from place to place, systematically worked to death, and their remains cataloged with icy automation.” [back]
On January 15, writers across the U.S. and other countries are holding Writers Resist events to “focus public attention on the ideals of a free, just, and compassionate society.” The “flagship” event on that day is slated for New York City and is co-sponsored by the writers’ group PEN America. It is described on the PEN America website as a “literary protest” that will be held on the steps of the New York City Library at 5th Avenue and 42nd Street in Manhattan “to defend free expression, reject hate crimes and uphold truth in the face of lies and misinformation.”
The protest “will bring together hundreds of writers and artists and thousands of New Yorkers on the birthday of civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. American poet laureates Robert Pinsky and Rita Dove will each offer hope and inspiration with original ‘inaugural’ poems written for the occasion.”
And, “After the readings and performances, a group of PEN America leaders and any who wish to join will walk the blocks to Trump Tower together to present PEN America’s free expression pledge on the First Amendment signed by over 110,000 individuals to a member of the President-elect’s team. We are confident the reading at the library and the subsequent march, as two distinct but powerful events to uphold free expression and human rights for all, will be powerful.”
According to Writers Resist organizers, in addition to NYC, January15 events are planned for “Houston, Austin, New Orleans, Seattle, Spokane, Los Angeles, London, Zurich, Boston, Omaha, Kansas City, Jacksonville, Madison, Milwaukee, Bloomington, Baltimore, Oakland, Tallahassee, Newport, Santa Fe, Salt Lake, and Portland (Oregon AND Maine) and many other cities.”
For more on the protest and participants, go here.
An online letter by a group of women scientists against Trump’s attacks on science and on his hateful poison directed at different sections of the people has gathered over 11,000 signatures from around the world as of December 23. In an article published by Scientific American, ecologist Kelly Ramirez said that, after the Trump-Pence victory, she and a small group of scientist friends began discussing “how can we take action?” On November 17, they posted their letter with signatures of 500 women scientists.
The letter begins: “Science is foundational in a progressive society, fuels innovation, and touches the lives of every person on this planet. The anti-knowledge and anti-science sentiments expressed repeatedly during the U.S. presidential election threaten the very foundations of our society. Our work as scientists and our values as human beings are under attack. We fear that the scientific progress and momentum in tackling our biggest challenges, including staving off the worst impacts of climate change, will be severely hindered under this next U.S. administration. Our planet cannot afford to lose any time.
“In this new era of anti-science and misinformation, we as women scientists re-affirm our commitment to build a more inclusive society and scientific enterprise. We reject the hateful rhetoric that was given a voice during the U.S. presidential election and which targeted minority groups, women, LGBTQIA [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual], immigrants, and people with disabilities, and attempted to discredit the role of science in our society. Many of us feel personally threatened by this divisive and destructive rhetoric and have turned to each other for understanding, strength, and a path forward. We are members of racial, ethnic, and religious minority groups. We are immigrants. We are people with disabilities. We are LGBTQIA. We are scientists. We are women.”
The letter outlines a number of actions that the signers pledge to take “to increase diversity in science and other disciplines.” The complete letter (available in English, Spanish, Portuguese, German, French, Dutch, and Farsi), signatories, and other related information is available online here.
Elizabeth George is a U.S.-based writer of mystery novels set in Great Britain. She is widely known for her series of books featuring Inspector Thomas Lynley. In a recent post titled “Mea Culpa” on her website, part of a series of essays on the 2016 elections, George wrote in part: “...what I cannot forgive is the effort being made on all sides to normalize what is going on, to say ‘let’s give him a chance.’ To this I say that, for me, what’s going on is not the new normal. So far and at the time of my writing this, Donald Trump has given cabinet positions to two of his billionaire friends, has chosen a Wall Street bigwig from Goldman Sachs to head the Treasury Department, has selected a foe not only of women’s rights to choose but also of insurance supplied contraception as his head of Health and Human Services, has chosen a racist as his attorney general, has chosen a climate-change denying non-scientist to head the EPA, has chosen a woman who sank the educational system in Detroit to be the head of the Department of Education.... If at some horrible point in the future, Muslims are told that they must register, I intend to register as a Muslim and I encourage everyone else to do the same. I will not ever accept what’s going on right now in the US as the new normal.”
She closes the essay with: “Normal is actually standing for something and drawing a line in the sand across which racial hatred, religious intolerance, sexual aggression, misogyny, fascism, Nazism, white supremacy, Hitler salutes, the Ku Klux Klan, and LGBTQ persecution dare not cross.
“That’s the new normal, that’s the old normal, and that’s the only normal that I will ever accept or support.”
Read the whole piece by Elizabeth George here.
Ariel Dorfman is a Chilean-American playwright, novelist, human rights activist and an emeritus professor of literature at Duke University. In an op-ed titled “Now, America, You Know How Chileans Felt” that appeared in the New York Times on December 17, Dorfman describes how after Salvador Allende had won the presidential election in 1970, U.S. President Richard Nixon and the CIA worked to undermine the results, including the assassination of a general who stood in the way of the U.S. plans. When the U.S. was not able to block Allende’s inauguration, “American intelligence services, at Henry A. Kissinger’s behest, continued to assail our sovereignty, sabotaging our prosperity (‘make the economy scream,’ Nixon ordered) and fostering military unrest. Finally, on Sept. 11, 1973, Allende was ousted, replaced by a vicious dictatorship that lasted nearly 17 years. Years of torture, executions, disappearances and exile.”
Dorfman notes the irony of the CIA “now crying foul because its tactics have been imitated by a powerful international rival,” referring to allegations of Russian interference in U.S. elections. He writes that when Donald Trump dismisses those allegations, “he is bizarrely echoing the very responses that so many Chileans got in the early ’70s when we accused the C.I.A. of illegal intervention in our internal affairs.” And Dorman writes, “The United States cannot in good faith decry what has been done to its citizens until it is ready to face what it did so often to the equally decent citizens of other nations. And it must resolve never to engage in such imperious activities again.”
Ariel Dorfman’s piece is online here.
On December 13, a group of people who work in tech organizations and companies based in the U.S. issued a strong statement pledging “solidarity with Muslim Americans, immigrants, and all people whose lives and livelihoods are threatened by the incoming administration’s proposed data collection policies.” They said they refuse to build databases of people based on their religious beliefs and to facilitate mass deportations. Their statement was also in defiance of top execs from major tech companies like Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Tesla, and Alphabet (Google), who a day earlier met with Trump, adding to the efforts to normalize fascism.
The statement says: “We have educated ourselves on the history of threats like these, and on the roles that technology and technologists played in carrying them out. We see how IBM collaborated to digitize and streamline the Holocaust, contributing to the deaths of six million Jews and millions of others. We recall the internment of Japanese Americans during the Second World War. We recognize that mass deportations precipitated the very atrocity the word genocide was created to describe: the murder of 1.5 million Armenians in Turkey. We acknowledge that genocides are not merely a relic of the distant past—among others, Tutsi Rwandans and Bosnian Muslims have been victims in our lifetimes.
“Today we stand together to say: not on our watch, and never again.”
As of the evening of December 14 the statement has close to 800 signers. The statement and other resources are available here.
"People often compare the ascendance of Trump and his cabinet of deplorables to the rise of the Nazis—taking momentary refuge in the fact that 1933 Germany didn't have the nuclear option. Apropos of Trump's take on flag burning, one of the first things Hitler did as chancellor was to rescind freedom of speech, assembly, the press. . . Then the arrest of political opponents, the forcing of Jews to register their property, wear Stars of David. Remember those "good" Germans, who may have lamented, but went along because they could—because they still fit in to what remained normal?'
Read the entire article here
...In this bleak moment, we must inspire each other driven by a democratic soulcraft of integrity, courage, empathy and a mature sense of history – even as it seems our democracy is slipping away.
We must not turn away from the forgotten people of US foreign policy – such as Palestinians under Israeli occupation, Yemen's civilians killed by US-sponsored Saudi troops or Africans subject to expanding US military presence.
As one whose great family and people survived and thrived through slavery, Jim Crow and lynching, Trump's neofascist rhetoric and predictable authoritarian reign is just another ugly moment that calls forth the best of who we are and what we can do.
For us in these times, to even have hope is too abstract, too detached, too spectatorial. Instead we must be a hope, a participant and a force for good as we face this catastrophe.
Read entire statement here
On November 30, in the middle of a song they were performing at Palacio de los Deportes in Mexico City, the band Guns N’ Roses cut the music and brought a giant piñata of Donald Trump onstage. According to an online TIME magazine report, Axl Rose, the band’s front man, said, “Let’s bring up some people and give them a fucking stick... Express yourselves however you feel.” Fans got up on the stage and began swinging at the piñata.
On election night, while making my way through a crowd gathered outside the Fox News headquarters in Midtown Manhattan, a white man wearing a Mets cap patted my back and said through the noise: "Get ready to be deported." Rattled, I made it inside the green room and waited to go on the air.
I am an undocumented immigrant. I outed myself in a very public way in The New York Times in 2011, and since then have appeared regularly on cable news programs, especially on Fox, to humanize the very political and polarizing issue of immigration ...
What will you do when they start rounding us up?
Read entire article here
As I've headed to work in recent days to see abortion patients in my office, I have felt bereft: All the premises of my life, work, education, and future were gone. Something very profound in the meaning of the America I know has been destroyed with the election of Donald J. Trump as president ...
Under an unrestrained Donald Trump and this Republican Congress, I fear for my life, I fear for my family, and I fear for my future. I fear for my staff and my patients.
Even more, I fear for my country, and I fear for the world.
Read entire article here
In a December 1 article for the Washington Post online edition, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar calls for resistance against Trump. Writing from his viewpoint of protecting this country’s “most sacred values,” Abdul-Jabbar criticizes others and their “hide-beneath-the-bed tactic”—like Jack Rosen, president of the American Jewish Congress, who says “we should take a look-and-see approach” and Black Entertainment Television founder and Hillary Clinton supporter Bob Johnson who said African Americans should give Trump “the benefit of the doubt.” He writes that the appointments Trump has been making already show that “these people and their contra-constitutional view are a clear and present danger” and calls for civil disobedience in different forms.
See Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s article here.
After the election of Trump, Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny called to congratulate him and ask whether the annual White House celebration of St. Patrick’s Day was still on. Irish Senator Aodhan O'Riordáin, fired off this response in the Irish Seanad (Senate):
Edmund Burke once said the only way evil can prosper is for good men to do nothing. American has just elected a fascist and the best thing that good people in Ireland can do is to ring him up and ask him if they can still bring the Shamrock on St. Patrick’s Day. I’m embarrassed about what the Irish government has done I can’t believe the reaction from the government. And I don’t use the word fascist lightly. What else would you call somebody threatens to imprison his political opponents? What else would you call somebody who threatens to not allow people of a certain religious faith into their country? What would you say, or how would you describe somebody who is threatening to deport 10 million people. What would you say about somebody who says that the media is rigged, the judiciary is rigged, the political system is rigged. And then he wins the election and the best we can come out with is a call to say is it still ok to bring the shamrock...I am frightened. I am frightened for what is happening in this world and in our inability to stand up to it. I want to ask you, leader, to ask the Minister of Foreign of Affairs into this house and ask him how we are supposed to deal with this monster who has just been elected president of America because I don’t think any of us in years to come should look back on this period and say we didn’t do everything in our power to call it out for what it is.
See the whole speech below.
This Irish politician just said what many American leaders are too scared to say about Trump pic.twitter.com/Q2MeB815jz— NowThis (@nowthisnews) November 17, 2016
Andrew Sullivan is a well-known conservative writer and online commentator, currently a contributing editor to the New York magazine. We want to bring to our readers’ attention a November 9 online article by Sullivan titled “The Republic Repeals Itself.” While we have differences with Sullivan overall and with this particular article in certain dimensions, we think he makes important points that are worthy of reflection.
Read Andrew Sullivan's piece here.
Revolution #472 January 2, 2017
Obama Signs 2017 National Defense Authorization Act
January 2, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
At the end of December, in a series of tweets and statements, Trump threatened to use the ultimate U.S. military weapon—nuclear bombs—to incinerate the world. He said: “The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes,” and, “Let it be an arms race. We will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all.”
Right when this was happening, Obama signed the 2017 NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act), which strengthens the power of the U.S. military to dominate and wage war all over the world. The NDAA is a U.S. federal law that specifies the budget and expenditures of the U.S. Department of Defense. Each year’s NDAA includes added provisions.
What Obama will now hand over to Trump, if Trump is allowed to become president, are $619 billion for war and military spending; an increase in the number of active-duty soldiers to more than 1.3 million; and the continued operation of, and restrictions on, transfers of prisoners out of the U.S. torture camp known as the Guantánamo Bay detention center.
The U.S. camp at Guantánamo Bay was set up in 2002 by the Bush regime after 9/11 and has continued to operate for eight years under Obama. The prisoners at Guantánamo—the majority never even charged with anything—have been subjected to physical and psychological torture. Obama didn’t close down Guantánamo, as he had promised, and has now added restrictions that will make it even harder for remaining prisoners to be released.
Just think about how Trump, if allowed to become president, will use this NDAA provision. This is the man who told the Miami Herald, “We’re gonna load it [Guantánamo] up with some bad dudes, believe me,” and who has threatened to do “worse” than torture.
Another part of the 2017 NDAA is a “Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act,” which mandates the creation of a “Global Engagement Center.”
This purpose of this center is basically to compile and examine information coming out of foreign governments and what is termed “foreign propaganda and disinformation efforts.” The center will then “develop, plan, and synchronize,” in coordination with the secretary of defense and other government departments and agencies, initiatives to “expose and counter foreign propaganda and disinformation directed against United States national security interests and proactively advance fact-based narratives that support United States allies and interests.” What this translates to is looking at anything from foreign governments and the press in those countries that is deemed harmful to U.S. imperialist interests and then launching counter-propaganda campaigns. The targets of such U.S. actions could include, for example, something like the Guardian, based in the UK, which has done extensive and ongoing exposure about police murder and brutality in the United States.
Now, think about what Trump, if he is allowed to become president, would do with what is essentially a ministry of U.S. imperialist propaganda. He will be the one to appoint the director of it. He and his fascist regime will be the ones to determine what constitutes “anti-U.S. propaganda” and what measures would be used to punish foreign governments and foreign press that put out information that these fascists deem “harmful to U.S. security.”
Trump is a man who spits out lies on a daily basis. He has attacked journalists who he disagrees with just for saying critical things about him. He totally disregards the U.S. Constitution and has attacked freedom of the press. While this provision in the NDAA is aimed at restricting “foreign propaganda,” it could open the door to similar measures aimed at the media and journalists in the United States.
This is yet one more reason to STOP THE FASCIST TRUMP-PENCE REGIME BEFORE IT STARTS.
Revolution #472 January 2, 2017
Sights and Sounds of:
Updated January 3, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Carl Dix, of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, and an initiator of Refuse Fascism, lays out the vision and plan for spreading the "No Trump! No Pence! No Fascist 2017!" message to every corner of society and building massive resistance, culminating in people coming to Washington, DC, before the MLK weekend. Dix said he is heading to DC soon and called on people to join him—to stay in the streets and disrupt business as usual to prevent the Trump-Pence regime from ruling.
Marching through the streets toward Trump Tower.
When members of the South Asian Fund for Education Scholarship and Training, whose members are predominantly from Bangladesh and many of whom are Muslims, were not able to hook up with the main Refuse Fascism protest, they took the initiative to get the "NO!" message out among the New Year's Eve crowds.
Marching down Market Street in downtown San Francisco toward Justin Herman Plaza where tens of thousands gather for New Year's Eve, and calling on people to join the movement to stop the fascist regime before it starts.
Protesters held up signs reading "ILLEGITIMATE" at the Beverly Hills headquarters of Breitbart News, which was headed up by Trump's fascist, white supremacist chief strategist, Steve Bannon. There was a march from there to West Hollywood, a progressive LGBTQ area. The Revolution Club LA reported, "It was a very determined crowd, full of a defiant, festive spirit.... We marched along La Cienega Blvd ... where there was a positive response among the affluent crowd out for New Year's, together with the valet parking attendants and others working that night.... A parking enforcement worker even stopped to talk, saying he was supportive but was agonizing whether it was too late to do anything about it and ended up taking a stack of fliers for the Call to Action."
The protest in front of the Trump Tower downtown.
Projection on the side of a building next to the Peachdrop in Atlanta, New Year's Eve
The "No Fascist USA" contingent joined the First Night Boston procession, the focal point for hundreds of thousands who stream downtown to celebrate.
Protesters dropped a banner from the balcony of the popular historic market space and chanted "No Trump, No Pence, No KKK, No Fascist USA!" as many in the crowd cheered and raised fists.
From a reader: "We marched around the city streets, bringing the message of NO! to thousands of onlookers and partygoers, disrupting business as usual, letting the masses of people know that it is time to prepare for the struggle against the fascist regime and the plan to stop them in their tracks.... At midnight, at the stroke of the new year, a masked drum line appeared suddenly and took the intersection. We saw the opportunity and trailed behind them with our banners and signs, dancing along to their drum beat. Onlookers joined in slowly until a full-fledged street party broke out."
A banner with the words "¡NO! EN NOMBRE DE LA HUMANIDAD, NOS NEGAMOS A ACCEPTAR A UN ESTADOS UNIDAS FASCISTA/IN THE NAME OF HUMANITY, WE REFUSE TO ACCEPT A FASCIST AMERICA" was put up at a busy commercial area so people could sign it. According to one person involved, "Overwhelmingly, people signing thanked us for the opportunity to send a message. Many Mexicanos and non-U.S. tourists signed."
December 30—150-200 protesters hurled fury and defiance against the whole Trump-Pence fascist regime as Pence spoke at a $2,700 a plate fundraising event. High school students, reproductive rights organizers, LGBTQ activists, Christian activists, and revolutionary communists stepped up to the mic outside the Chicago Club, speaking with great passion to call on people to stop fascism. The call was read from refusefascism.org for people to become organizers of organizers so that millions come to DC to stop Trump-Pence from taking power. People took several thousand fliers in bundles with the Refuse Fascism call to distribute more broadly.
Revolution #472 January 2, 2017
December 28, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
A special feature of Revolution to acquaint our readers with the views of significant figures in art, theater, music and literature, science, sports and politics. The views expressed by those we interview are, of course, their own; and they are not responsible for the views published elsewhere in our paper.
Sunsara Taylor, writer for revcom.us/Revolution, recently interviewed Yusef Salaam, one of the initiators of RefuseFascism.org.
Yusef Salaam (AP photo)
Sunsara Taylor: I thought it would be helpful to introduce yourself and talk a little bit about The Central Park Five, and your earliest encounters learning about Donald Trump.
Yusef Salaam: My name is Yusef Salaam; I’m one of the so-called Central Park Five. On April 19th of 1989, I became a part of a group accused of a crime we didn’t commit. A crime which we were exonerated of 13 years later. That crime was the rape and near murder of a white investment banker in New York City along with the assault of others who has been in Central Park that infamous night. Interestingly, Donald Trump became the figurehead of the mob mentality that New York City took against us. Sarah Burns recently wrote a book which encapsulates the thought process of New York at that time; it is called The Central Park Five, A Chronicle of a City Wilding. The city was wilding against us.
There were assumptions made, and the worst assumption of course came from Donald Trump. Two weeks in, Donald Trump used his money to pay for ad space in New York City’s newspapers, essentially calling for the reinstatement of the death penalty specifically for The Central Park Five. He wants “us” to be murdered. Mind you, many people don’t make $85,000 in a year, the tab it cost him to pay for the ads, but for him it wasn’t even crumbs off his table, it was dust. And here it was, he was making this grand assumption about Black and Brown people, an indictment because of the color of our skin, that we were the “worst of the worst” because we had been “accused.” Instead of the law being the law of the land for everyone, the law was not, and still is not, the law for Black and Brown folks. We are guilty and have to prove ourselves innocent.
So there we were, because of the accusation of “us” being near murderers and rapists, “us” being called “urban terrorists,” as Mayor David Dinkins had said back then, even though he has since apologized. “Super-predators,” as one of the presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton, called “us.” She also has apologized. But Donald Trump has never apologized, and still stands on the side of the full-page ads he paid for decades ago. He still thinks and maintains that we had to be guilty of something.
And it’s unfortunate, because it’s that same thought process that a lot of people have. Where if you are accused of a crime, if your name is mentioned in the media as a person of interest, then you have to be guilty. And I don’t blame the masses, I blame the System imposed upon us. A system, although highly fallible, pushes the idea that it’s infallible. That the police department(s) of New York City, of the country, and perhaps of the world, are infallible. That they’re there to impose the law for the citizens they are sworn to protect, and make sure that things stay under control. This isn’t an indictment against the good officers; we're talking about the bad apples that spoil the bunch. In our case there was a willful overstepping of the boundaries of the law. We were scapegoated and railroaded into the System. A System where the overwhelming majority are Black and Brown folks.
Ultimately we spent upwards of 13 years in prison for crimes we didn’t commit. And when it was found that we didn’t do it, the System whispered, “We’re sorry. We apologize.” And then we began our tremendous uphill legal battle, trying to piece our lives back together, and also trying to seek some type of monetary justice. There was no speedy method to repair this wrong, but there was a speedy means to convict. Another 12 years passed, we didn’t receive an award until 2014.
Yusef Salaam entering court with his mother, Sharonne Salaam, 1990. (AP photo)
ST: How old were you? And how old were the others who were accused? You emphasized that you were eventually exonerated legally. But even at the time, the only quote, unquote “evidence” the police produced was extracted through a tremendous amount of intimidation and mistreatment to very, very young people. What is the toll that this took on you?
YS: We were between the ages of 14 and 16. I was 15 years old. When you think about what scientists have stated, that a child’s mind is not fully developed until they reach the age of 25; we should have been afforded the opportunity to be children. Instead, the System turned on us in such a way that they said you know we need to treat these youngsters as adults. They began changing the laws based on the prosecution of The Central Park Five. This is one of the reasons why we have the cry to “raise the age.” When we were exonerated they never changed those laws back, it was now the law of the land. This took a heavy toll on us, we were pariahs, and we became the examples of what they wanted to bring down against Black and Brown folks. The future present of what was to happen.
We were being paraded in the media. Our names, phone numbers and addresses were published in the newspapers. All of this was as a result of us being accused. We weren’t even convicted yet. And then people like Donald Trump begin to chime in and other media personalities followed suit. One guy in particular was a guy named Pat Buchanan. He essentially said we should take the eldest one and hang him from a tree in Central Park, and take the others and horse-whip them.
Usually people don’t think about the collateral damage. What happens to the individual? What happens to their families? And what happens to the communities those families came from? You know, they changed the name of the building complex that I was living in because people didn’t want it to be associated with this horrific crime that had happened back in 1989, even though we were found to be innocent. But there was this cloud, a sort of dust that made people confused as to our guilt or innocence. The collective thought was “maybe they let them go because of some type of a technicality, or something like that” The truth in the case was never presented in the way we were introduced to the nation. The tsunami of media covering our innocence was dwarfed by 1989.
There were over 400 articles written within the first few weeks of this case in 1989 attacking us in the media. When we were found to be innocent, my mother testified at City Hall, in front of City Council, and stated it was a whisper that she wondered if the rats of New York City had heard. So to this day, there is this cloud of doubt in the minds of lots of people. It’s not until they get a chance to sit down and speak with some of us that they get the opportunity to really see and experience our innocence for themselves. There is usually a collective “how did I believe that these guys were guilty of these crimes?”
Not everyone has seen the famed film that Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, and David McMahon produced called The Central Park Five. I really encourage everyone to see that film because it really paints the picture of both sides, even though the Police Department says that they weren’t interviewed. They were asked to be interviewed and they declined.
That didn’t matter, all of the media coverage surrounding this case that had already been produced. The false confessions that had been made by four out of the five of us, these historical documents, these historical pieces of evidence, were used in order to paint the full picture of what happened. And just like in 1989, the film shows these false confessions to the public for them to decide again. The difference this time was that they showed these false confessions side by side, and you had an opportunity to hear Raymond Santana talk about his version of what happened alongside of Korey King Wise's version of what happened, and that of Kevin Richardson's, and of Antron McCray's. And it was almost the first time the public began to realize that these versions were inconsistent.
TV shows like the CSI and NCIS teach us something. They teach us that the science of forensics is very, very exact. So much so, that if a crime happened, forensic scientists can come in and recreate the crime scene, even if there’s no one there to tell it. They can tell by the splatter of blood whether the assailant was left-handed or right-handed, by the footprints what height the assailant is. You know, all of these things tell them bits and pieces of information. And here you have the retelling of this story by the famed filmmaker Ken Burns, you found out for the first time that these stories were completely inconsistent.
People were very upset, people were very, very upset because they felt like they had been hoodwinked. On the one hand, you had Mayor Koch stating this was the crime of the century. He said, people want to see how the justice system works, and they’re going to be able to see that through the Central Park Jogger Case. And then they railroaded us. We became modern day Scottsboro Boys1 Had they had their way, we would have also become a modern day Emmett Till.2 Every single one of us. Every single one of us.
And the part that’s really, really scary, and I’m very, very concerned about, is that Donald Trump, throughout his campaign, he kept talking about making America great again, and it was almost like a code word that he was going to try to make America white again. We began to see the darker enclaves of society start to raise their ugly heads. The people, who absolutely believe in the annihilation of races other than their own, begin to raise their heads. The people who believe that slavery was good and should be continued, begin to rear their heads. The people who believe that we need to go to a state of Hitlerism, a state of alt-right, I didn’t say all right, this whole Nazi attitude and idea of making a superior race, is what Donald Trump was talking about.
If you talk to these people, they will most absolutely, certainly say, “No, I didn’t mean it like that.” But the people who have eyes to see and ears to hear know exactly what’s going on. Because, as people were being beat up as they came to the rally to protest against Donald Trump, Donald Trump told people that he would pay their bail money. Donald Trump said that he could go on Fifth Avenue right now, shoot someone and he wouldn’t lose any supporters. And true to form, this is exactly what his thought process was, and probably still is. The person(s) dying from his assault would be Black and Brown folks. While others take out their cell phones to broadcast it to the world.
And I think that the worst part is that now we as a country have to deal with this very real threat of a person who does not have our best interests at heart; a person who has repeatedly told us what his thoughts and ideas are throughout his campaign. And none of that stuff is good for any of us. And by “any of us” I mean the whole melting pot of people who are in the Americas. And then we have to think also about the rest of the world who is going to be affected by this new regime that Donald Trump is putting in place. You know, back in the day, it would be said that the president really doesn’t have any power; it’s only a position. But when you look at what Donald Trump is doing, he is putting persons in position so that when he says anything, these people will absolutely agree and carry out his orders.
We need to be very, very concerned about this. Fights have already broken out, people have been assaulted, and threats have been made. Statements like “go back to Mexico, or Africa” are the least of our worries. There are folks running around with the mentality of Klan. Folks who braggadociously brandish their Confederate flags and dare us to say something. When I would drive around, I would see that kind of stuff all the time. And now it’s a little bit scarier because you realize that just down the road are folks who have their Klan symbolism right out there in front of their homes, letting you know exactly what they think, and letting you know that now their time has returned. It’s a very scary time for us to be in.
ST: You recently became one of the co-initiators of the fight to stop the Trump-Pence regime before it comes to power, www.refusefascism.org. Could you talk about that?
YS: The pulse of America right now is one of anguish. The majority had their hopes squashed, because the Electoral College did not only give Donald Trump the presidency, but when recently challenged by “We the People” they reconfirmed. People began to have this “wait and see” attitude, one where we’ll just buckle down and prepare for the next four years, and then after that we’ll deal with things on a different level.
I really think we have to be wiser about what this really represents for us as a people. It doesn’t represent four years. It represents something much bigger and much greater than that. There’s a real threat out there. For example, for years you’d see YouTube videos talking about American concentration camps, these open-air camps, I mean prisons; I called them camps but they were really prisons. And they didn’t have anyone in them. This is in America... my thought was, what are they getting ready for? And what they’re getting ready for is what this day represents.
Here we are. We’re on the cusp and the brink of a precipice. But what’s different is we most certainly have everything in our power right now to change our tomorrow, to change the course of time and the course of history of what our tomorrow is going to be about. But if we sit back and wait and see; wait and say let’s buckle down and just prepare for the next four years without doing anything, I think that that is one of the worst things that we could do. We need to be very vigilant and prepare. Preparation is key, but in that preparation we also need to make sure that we align ourselves with people who are fighting for freedom, justice, and equality; people who are thinking about things on a completely different level, and that level is possibly and most certainly the ability for us to make sure that this person doesn’t even come into power.
I think that this is one of the most powerful things that we can do as a people. I have always encouraged people to stand on the side of history that is right and correct. And I think that this is something that is absolutely right, and absolutely correct, and something that we all should get behind, and push forward. Like we need to not just get behind, but also think about our position and this great ability of ours. We need to now collectively drop our shoulders down, and begin to push forward as a people to make sure that we can change the course of history.
That’s how I think about this whole process now. It’s not enough to wait and see. I think we already saw and anticipated what’s going to happen. It’s not going to be the best of times. No, this is going to be the worst of times. This is going to be much more worse than what we even imagined. And this is why I’m very concerned.
ST: Yusef, it's really important that people hear what you are saying and many more join in, as you say, right now. I want to thank you for doing the interview.
1.The Scottsboro Boys: In 1931, nine young Black men were framed for the rape of two white women and initially sentenced to death, except for the 12-year-old defendant who was given a sentence of life imprisonment. In a subsequent trial, four were acquitted, but the others spent years in jail and achieved their release only after a massive campaign against this injustice. [back]
2. Emmett Till: In 1955, Till, a Black 14-year-old in Mississippi, was horribly beaten, shot, and his dead body thrown in a river for allegedly whistling at a white woman. His body was so badly disfigured that even his own mother could hardly recognize him. [back]
Revolution #472 January 2, 2017
A CALL FROM CHICAGO
Updated January 25, 2017, first published December 29, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Today, January 25, Trump sent out a tweet threatening to send the Feds into Chicago if Chicago doesn’t fix the horrible “carnage” going on: 228 shootings in 2017 with 42 killings (up 24 percent from 2016). This is the second time in January that Trump has tweeted about the shootings in Chicago. The threats are escalating. His inaugural speech had a genocidal thrust toward communities of color... and these threats must be taken seriously. As Refuse Fascism has said, “Justifying violent repression of whole neighborhoods and sections of people viewed as ‘the enemy’ is a classic fascist tactic to consolidate power and frighten people into submission.”
We are reposting here a statement from the Revolution Club, Chicago sent to revcom.us after Trump’s first tweet.
Many of us from the bottom of society get caught up in a lot of fucked-up shit because of the brutal and harsh conditions we are forced to live under. We have seen way too many of our loved ones and homies lose their lives to senseless and unnecessary violence. This violence and destruction is promoted and encouraged by the forces who really run this shit. In other words, they would like nothing more than for us to continue to kill and destroy ourselves. We are being played over and over again!
Now is the time to stop being played. An openly racist, woman-hating, and fascist Trump regime is in power. Yes, it’s true, no president prior gave a damn about a Black or Brown life. But it’s also true that shit is going to get a whole lot worse if we allow Trump to take hold—a whole worse world of hurt and pain for people we hold near and dear and for people all over the planet.
Let’s be about real courage, real daring, real risk, and real meaning and come together and take on THESE fascists in massive defiant struggle.
We need to rise above the petty beefs and clique tripping and get organized to fight the power. This is not about any one individual. This is about the fate of humanity and the planet. Get in touch with your local Revolution Club. Go to www.revcom.us and www.refusefascism.org. Join the fight to Stop the Trump-Pence Regime!
Initiated by an ex-prisoner who was once caught up with everything wrong with the street life, and the Chicago Revolution Club.
Revolution #472 January 2, 2017
December 26, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
The Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund recently passed along two letters from a prisoner, one sent six days after the elections and the second a week after that. There are some important observations and points made in this comrade's letter, extremely important questions that he raises, a lot to unite with, and a lot to get into. What follows are the comrade's letter and an excerpt from the second letter, and a reply from the editors of revcom.us.
First, I want to note the difference that this comrade, and others like him, make to those who are “on the outside” fighting for revolution and a far better world. In spreading the word of revolution behind the prison walls, in writing your thoughts to those of us beyond those walls, and in particular sharing your questions and contributions with the voice of the Party, the comrade fills a great social need, in the most difficult of circumstances.
The comrade makes the point in his first letter that while the elections themselves were a “farce,” “there is something particular about the candidate [Trump] that really does rock me back on my heels.... [Y]ou would have to go back to the 60s & 70s & prior to get a candidate or movement who was built on so much overt hatred.” He writes about seeing this manifested inside the prisons every day—presumably from both the guards, whose racist brutality has been well documented, and some of the white prisoners themselves. He points to the fact that someone who gave expression to some of the vilest forms of that has now won—and what it says that so many white people (a majority of those who voted) “refused to reject even the most overt & vile forms of hatred. And even more so rallied around that movement.”
The comrade says: “It’s actually hard to write you guys. So much to say. So much anger, so much love. So many obstacles. It is quite overwhelming.”
Let’s just say straight up, you are far from alone in feeling that. As we said in our statement on November 9, “[t]he fact that Trump won as many votes as he did must be understood. The fact that he got more than even 10 percent of the vote is disgraceful and reveals some very ugly things about America. So why did this happen? The world today is turbulent, full of changes. Those who supported Trump’s fascist program were overwhelmingly sections of white people, especially but not only white men, who yearn for the days of open white supremacy and American global domination, and the blatant subjugation of women. A significant minority of white people did oppose him, but we have to confront how deep the racism, the national chauvinism, and the hatred of women is woven into this society... and not give in to this, but vigorously challenge and fiercely oppose it.
“But even more than this, Trump was backed by powerful forces in this society. Beyond those who directly supported him, the media, the Democratic Party, and others treated him as a legitimate candidate, refused to call him out as the fascist he is, and now call on everyone to accept his ascension to power. All the major powerful forces in this society bear the responsibility—it is they who have, over decades, either built up this fascist force or have ‘enabled’ it.”
The whole electoral process—what was, and especially what was not, criticized about Trump (note how no major Democratic Party figure attacked Trump for his demand that the Central Park 5 be put back in prison, despite their having been exonerated!) and how this was criticized—served to set this situation up.
Yet it is still a bitter pill to swallow—that this shameless racist was put into power and that at least millions of those who voted for him were acting on the rock-hard racist beliefs and millions more at most shrugged and pulled the lever anyway. The comrade wrote again a week later expressing that... “wow, it’s hard to digest & accept exactly what is the fabric of America.”
True. But the questions confronting us now are how we understand that and what we do about it.
First, there were millions, including many millions of whites, who voted against Trump. More important, there is the fact that, as the “mission and plan” for the month of resistance to STOP this fascism put it, “among huge numbers of people there is a deep anxiety, alienation, disgust, and anger in relation to the recent presidential election and its outcome.” “Unprecedented,” it goes on to say. And they have continued to feel this, despite the efforts of Obama and others to reassure them, to get them to “move on.” So again, and to speak directly to the comrade writing this heartfelt letter, you are NOT alone in your acute disgust with what this revealed about the depth of American racism, chauvinism, and all-round bigotry and backwardness, and how many millions that has conditioned and corrupted—there are millions and millions who feel that. And among them are millions of white people. But again, the challenge before us is this: OK, the boil has burst; now what do we do about the pus that is pouring out all over the place? How do we mobilize the millions who are in fact revulsed by that into a force powerful enough to defeat it?
Those feelings of deep anxiety, alienation, disgust, and anger among tens of millions must now be mobilized, in a very short space of time, to create a political crisis in this country of a magnitude not seen in generations. If we should fail, the consequences will be very bad—it will strike a severe blow in many dimensions to the ability of the masses to even conceive of, let alone organize for and wage, any larger struggle... to act on or fight for any better, and even potentially, revolutionary aspiration. In other words, the problem here is both what this election reveals about the mentality of far too many people in this country but even more so what the coming to power of Trump will mean in terms of the actual leap in attacks on masses here and around the world and the active setting back of any struggle for any larger goal or aspiration.
Comrade, in taking up this battle right now, revolutionaries must reach out to many, many different people who do NOT share our views on the source of the problem—capitalism-imperialism—and the fundamental solution to it—revolution. We are making those views clear and we are bringing them to bear, but we are focusing on the objective we now face: preventing the Trump-Pence regime from coming to power and imposing a fascist USA. We are not watering down what Trump-Pence represents, or talking about “understanding the [so-called] valid concerns of the Trump voters”—the only way for this movement to succeed is to make clear and take on, and win tens of millions to take on, the FASCIST character of the Trump regime and all that means: in terms of genocidal racism, in terms of severe repression against all “minorities,” in terms of a violent reinforcement of the patriarchy, and, yes, in terms of a heightened likelihood of war, including nuclear war... not to mention the insane and breakneck accelerated destruction of the environment.
Through the course of this, if and as this movement gains ground, and if we are to win, we are going to have to set many of them in motion to sharply confronting and breaking with the racism you call out, changing their actions and their views, and, yes, through all this, their gut feelings. To a certain extent, as this movement takes on increasing conviction and momentum and clearly focuses itself on the fascist character of this regime, that will be part of what will happen (there was a glimpse of this when the Revolution Club and others went right in the face of the fascist mobs in the Mt. Greenwood section of Chicago). We’ve seen that before. And others will dig in with their racism and fight for it. We’ve seen that before, too.
When something different had the initiative and was setting the terms in the 1960s—and I’m talking about the radical movements of the 1960s and the Black Panther Party as the most advanced expression within that—then all kinds of people began seeing and acting in different ways, began changing the world and changing themselves, long before anything like a majority was won to that. A whole generation of white youth broke with America and everything it represented and fought, sometimes with real sacrifice, AGAINST America. Not least of those was our Chairman, Bob Avakian, in a process outlined in his memoir, From Ike to Mao and Beyond. And he’s never stopped fighting—a fact for which the both of us, I know, are quite thankful!
Yes, the backward die-hards will be out there, and this new movement will have to stand up to and oppose them. There’s no alternative, other than capitulating to it, and that nobody should do. Some of them we’ll win over or at least neutralize, and some of them we won’t. This movement won’t have to win every last person or even have to win the majority of white people to actively support this; but we do need to win enough people of ALL nationalities to really throw in on this (tens of millions, including the vast numbers of whites who do oppose him and some of the ones who should have but didn’t), and enough people to either passively support this or who at least feel like they don’t want to go against it—to create the overall situation called for in the mission and plan:
“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 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.”
Should this initiative succeed in that, then the question of what is to replace the Trump-Pence clique will come to the fore; and different forces will struggle things out from there. We for our part will strive to represent the interests of “the seven billion” and the emancipation of ALL humanity at that point, as we are striving to do now in undertaking, with others, this bold initiative. Exactly what that will mean can’t be predicted from here, other than to say that we will be “searching out the key concentrations of social contradictions and the methods and forms which can strengthen the political consciousness of the masses, as well as their fighting capacity and organization in carrying out political resistance against the crimes of this system; which can increasingly bring the necessity, and the possibility, of a radically different world to life for growing numbers of people; and which can strengthen the understanding and determination of the advanced, revolutionary-minded masses in particular to take up our strategic objectives not merely as far-off and essentially abstract goals (or ideals) but as things to be actively striven for and built towards....” (from BAsics 3:30)
Let’s be clear: Whatever repolarization we’re able to effect in the course of this next month won’t last forever, and it won’t be sufficient for the total transformation we need. Out of that 1960s re-polarization we referred to earlier, some, like BA, stayed with it and took it further; others did not and were pulled back down by the gravity of the system that, after all, stayed in place. This leads to a larger point: without a deep-going transformation of the economic base, the political structure and the dominant ideas of society, as envisioned in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America... and without a revolution to make that Constitution the “law of the land”... the virulent racism so deeply baked into the foundation of capitalist-imperialist USA will never go away, and will continually reassert itself in different and ugly forms. With that Constitution, and the new state power it outlines, the process of uprooting this poisonous tree can begin in earnest, one that will last for generations but in which extremely radical transformations in how people live, think and feel can be made almost overnight.
Bob Avakian said it in BAsics, and it remains at the core of what we’re about:
There will never be a revolutionary movement in this country that doesn’t fully unleash and give expression to the sometimes openly expressed, sometimes expressed in partial ways, sometimes expressed in wrong ways, but deeply, deeply felt desire to be rid of these long centuries of oppression [of Black people]. There’s never gonna be a revolution in this country, and there never should be, that doesn’t make that one key foundation of what it’s all about. (BAsics 3:19)
With that, comrade, we ask you—and we ask all who get this paper inside those walls—to do everything you can to continue to influence the course of events to a world without the madness you so righteously decry and condemn in these letters—and a world in which the love you speak so movingly of can actually flourish. Anything that can be done on your parts to amplify the struggle not only for revolution but—right now—the urgent objective to prevent this fascist regime from taking power and consolidating itself—would be extremely important.
With revolutionary love and hopes for the new year,
Revolution #472 January 2, 2017
December 26, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
“Nuclear war would wipe out most of life on Earth, as we know it. Humankind and most of the animal life would disappear because of the rising of the dust and smoke and fire of a nuclear mushroom cloud. The sun would be blocked for a significant, long period of time. The Earth would begin to freeze, literally. We would not be able to grow food. Radiation sickness would be everywhere. So we’d either die from the radiation sickness, or we’d die from hunger, very quickly. Life on Earth would essentially stop.” (See “Interview with Bruce Gagnon of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space, on the Danger of Nuclear War: ‘The planet would survive. But humankind would disappear’.”)
Mushroom cloud over Hiroshima.
Nagasaki mail carrier Sumiteru Taniguchi's back injuries, taken in January 1946, from the U.S. atomic bomb attack on August 9, 1945.
On December 22, Donald Trump tweeted:
The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.
When questioned about this by an MSNBC reporter, he said
Let it be an arms race. We will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all.
The “fuck you” tone, the fascistic threats of “strengthening and expanding” nuclear weapons, the threats of an arms race, and the obscene brazenness of these threats, is not only a cold statement of aims—but it imminently escalates the danger of nuclear war—by design or accident.
Nuclear weapons were introduced into war when the United States dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. At Ground Zero in Hiroshima, almost everything was simply destroyed and every human being died. Even two miles from the blast, human skin was severely burned. The wind blew at 1,000 miles per hour—shattering the bodies of thousands of people as it hurled them through the air or brought buildings crashing down upon them. When the firestorm died down, the former city was a scorched plain. A heavy black rain brought radioactive dust back down to earth. Some of the dead had been vaporized, many others lay where they died, in their thousands and thousands. When President Harry Truman was told of the Hiroshima bombing, he said, “This is the greatest thing in history.” (See “American Crime Case #97: August 6 and 9, 1945—The Nuclear Incineration of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”)
In the decades that followed, there were repeated incidents that came within a hair trigger of setting off such a nuclear war, including during the Cuba Missile Crisis, in 1962. (See “Massive Death by Nukes... And Close Calls.”)
Since the 1980s, it has been the policy of both the U.S. and Russia to decrease their stockpiles of nuclear weapons. That has not, actually, decreased the danger of nuclear war. During his administration, Barack Obama moved to modernize the U.S. nuclear arsenal. He installed missiles in Eastern Europe that have been seen as a provocation to Russia. He has instituted a trillion-dollar program to upgrade the U.S. nukes. And the U.S. has built up “missile defense” systems that increase the viability—at least in the eyes of the U.S. military—for “winning” a nuclear war. In that sense, Obama has built and handed a loaded nuclear gun to Trump.
Under Obama, drones, invasions, occupations, assassinations, and coups (and the threat of nuclear attack) have been combined with diplomacy, sanctions, and other forms of “soft power” that advance U.S. interests, including projecting the U.S. as the global champion of human rights and democracy. The Iran nuclear deal—a product of vicious sanctions aimed at creating suffering among the populace and squeezing the regime—put severe restrictions on Iran’s nuclear technology capacity. It is a model of the Obama approach. And it is reviled by the Trumpites because, in their eyes, Iran and other countries that challenge U.S. power need to be pulverized, not just restrained.
And Obama has been careful, in that context, to avoid overtly expanding the U.S. nuclear arsenal. He has insisted his goal is to “reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy.”
Let’s stipulate, for the minute, that it is part of the insanity of this system that these different imperialist and regional powers gamble with the continued existence of humanity as part of their calculations as to how to advance their own narrow, exploiting-class interests. It’s crazy, it’s sick, and it’s part of why this system has to be overthrown and something far better put in its place. Having said that, in one tweet and an explanation, Trump has made that much worse—perhaps exponentially worse. He has at best destabilized what was already a criminally unstable status quo.
Even before he has assumed office, Trump has thrown out the window all pretenses that the U.S. is trying to prevent nuclear war. He rants, “Let it be an arms race.” And he brags that in a race to destroy human life, “We will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all.”
There’s no mystery about whether rival powers and other challengers to the U.S. will stand by while the U.S. builds up overwhelming nuclear weaponry. Kingston Reif, director for disarmament and threat reduction policy at the Arms Control Association, characterized Trump’s tweet as “Pouring more gasoline on the fire is exactly the opposite of what is needed.” And calculations are being made now by the rulers of other countries as to what risky moves they might need to make now to preempt nuclear blackmail by the U.S.
There is a “logic” behind the madness Trump is projecting around using nuclear weapons.
If you are coming from the interests of humanity, there is a very clear answer to why the world cannot tolerate a nuclear arms race. Because nuclear weapons, weapons of mass destruction whose objective is to massacre huge numbers of humans, are a crime against humanity. They should be “forever banned,” right now. Not “strengthened” and “expanded.”
But in the eyes of the Trump-Pence regime, “strengthening” and “expanding” the U.S. nuclear arsenal, and making it clear they won’t hesitate to use it, is essential. When Donald Trump talks about “Making America Great Again,” he, and the sections of the ruling class who have rallied around him, are talking about dramatically reinforcing and strengthening U.S. domination over other imperialists and the world as a whole. When they talk about bringing the world “to its senses,” they mean other countries going along with that domination. And, in their eyes, this requires profound, violent recasting of the way things have been for decades, including rewriting the rules not of whether, but how overtly to threaten humanity with nuclear war.
To them, the threat to U.S. power posed by the rise of Russia and China, along with challenges from fundamentalist Islamic Jihad, from regional powers like Iran, and from “wild card” states like North Korea, is close to reaching a point of no return. And these different crises interpenetrate with each other in a volatile mix. As they see it, Obama has been far, far too soft, when what is needed is to project the U.S. as a power that will obliterate all who stand in its way without regard to pretenses of respecting human rights, rule of law, and concern for the danger of nuclear war.
Deeply embedded in the fascist mix around Trump are people like Lt. General Michael Flynn, appointed to the very powerful position of National Security Advisor. Flynn has said Islam is a “political ideology” that “hides behind this notion of it being a religion” and is “like a malignant cancer that has metastasized.” (see video) Think about the implications of that analogy, and the fact that this former general will be a top adviser to Donald Trump. And then think about Trump having his fingers on the launch codes for the U.S. nuclear arsenal!
At the same time, these other powers are not exactly willing to lie down for the U.S. They are working to heighten their ability to counter U.S. military force and themselves cannot necessarily afford to back down—certainly not each and every time.
Here, the madness factor enters in. This is actually an articulated doctrine for behavior of U.S. presidents, attributed to former president Richard Nixon. Nixon told advisers to spread rumors to the leaders of the Vietnamese revolutionary war against the U.S. invasion that he was a madman who had no hesitation to launch nuclear weapons. Trump takes that further. In campaign rallies and interviews, Trump has worked to cultivate that image, with statements like “I would bomb the shit out of ’em,” “I wanna be unpredictable,” and “I love war.” What is even more dangerous with Trump is that it is not at all clear what may be bluster and bluff and what is real—please note again his point at the top of this article, threats to greatly strengthen and expand U.S. nuclear capability and to outmatch and outlast every rival in an arms race.
As for Trump taking to Twitter to overturn existing nuclear weapons policy, the medium is part of the message. Given the understanding among at least sections of people about what nuclear war would mean, every previous U.S. administration has felt compelled to produce long, detailed policy positions on nuclear policy. Great pains have been taken to create the appearance—for the domestic public and global audience—that the U.S. rulers are aware of the risk involved, and would not use nuclear weapons without careful consideration of all factors involved. In announcing his policy, before he is president, in a tweet, Trump advertised how thoroughly he will disdain any and all conventions that have maintained a tense, profoundly dangerous status quo in nuclear weapons.
The situation the world confronts is this: The wide range of obstacles and challenges to actually implementing “America über alles,” combined with Trump’s outlook and threats, are already intensifying the odds that one or another of a whole set of conflicts (or even accidents) could trigger a nuclear holocaust that could end life on Earth.
That regime cannot come to power!
Revolution #472 January 2, 2017
December 30, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
December 30, 2016. In downtown Chicago today, 150-200 protesters hurled fury and defiance against the whole Trump-Pence fascist regime. Pence’s $2,700 a plate speech was the first attempt by the fascists to show their faces since Trump’s Chicago rally last March was shut down by protesters and cancelled. High school students, reproductive rights organizers, LGBTQ activists, Christian activists, and revolutionary communists stepped up to the mic outside the Chicago Club, speaking with great passion to call on people to stop fascism. The call was read from refusefascism.org for people to become organizers of organizers so that millions come to DC to stop Trump-Pence from taking power. ANSWER coalition put out their call for shutting down DC on January 20. Musician Ted Sirota called for artists and musicians to unleash their creativity and inspire more people to join the resistance. Throughout the protest people cheered when the Festival of NO! on New Years Eve at Trump Tower was announced. People felt the urgency of the moment, and a group of high school students enthusiastically talked about how people get empowered when they see others take action. People took several thousand flyers in bundles with the Refuse Fascism call to distribute more broadly. (Photo: Special to revcom.us)
Revolution #472 January 2, 2017
Updated January 11, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
January 20, 2017
The night before Trump’s inauguration, there was a Musicians Against Fascism concert at Symphony Space in New York City featuring outstanding jazz musicians. This was a benefit for refusefascism.org. The host for the evening, five-time Grammy winner Arturo O’Farrill, made these opening remarks:
January 9, 2017
Revolution: A call has come out from prominent artists and critics calling for a January 20 Art Strike against Trump’s inauguration. You are one of the signers. Talk to us about this call.
January 12, 2017
Carl Dix, of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, and one of the co-initiators of RefuseFascism.org, speaks at New Year's Eve protest at Columbus Circle, NYC. Carl lays out the vision and plan for taking the "No Trump! No Pence! No Fascist 2017!" message to every corner of society in the coming days and building massive resistance culminating in people coming to Washington, D.C. before the MLK holiday. Carl Dix is heading to DC, and calling on people to join him there, and to stay in the streets and disrupt business as usual to prevent the Trump-Pence regime from ruling.
I missed the protests of the 1960s because I was too young. I was on the sidelines of 1970s activism because I was working and trying to get through college. In the 1980s I had young children. In the 1990s I was working a couple of jobs and did little more than sign the occasional petition. I have no excuses for not doing more to support or protect what I believe in, during the aughts and beyond, other than complacency—I am a journalist and I am well read, so I have absolutely no excuses.
That’s the mea culpa part. And that chapter is over. It ended effective Nov. 9, 2016, when I woke up, read the election results, and first stumbled around in a daze for a few hours, then began fretting, weeping, reeling and railing.
Sound familiar? Read on.
Pastor Gregg L. Greer, of Freedom First International-SCLC and one of the signatories of the Refuse Fascism Call to Action, wrote “An Open Letter to America—Why opposing the Trump Regime must be the clarion call of the moment,” dated January 7. He says in the letter:
We the people can no longer sit idle and allow the constitutional rights of our citizens to be taken for granted and so easily dismissed.
"A Southerner, Fascism was well known growing up. So this “new” fascist America is a redux. All the more unbearable for being so. Who wants to go back there?"
December 28, 2016
December 20, 2016
In 1937, Martin Niemöller, a German pastor and theologian who initially welcomed Hitler's 1933 appointment as Chancellor of the German Reich. However, after publicly renouncing the regime, he was arrested and imprisoned in German concentration camps. The powerful and poetic statement (below) expresses Niemöller's deep regret for not having acted sooner to take a decisive stand against the rise of fascism in Germany...
December 24, 2016
December 24, 2016
Pastor Gregg L. Greer is President of Freedom First International (SCLC)
Revolution #472 January 2, 2017
December 31, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Revolution #472 January 2, 2017
December 26, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
» This kind of open, brazen, fascistic threat of nuke expansion and use, and the obscene casualness of it (again, “Trump to humanity and planet Earth: fuck you”), is not only a cold statement of aims—but imminently escalates the nuclear danger...of expansion and use by nuclear powers—use by design or accident.
» The roots and dynamics lie in the intensification of geopolitical rivalry and a view on the part of a section of the U.S. ruling class that the perception of U.S. “weakness” and “lack of resolve” is reaching a precipitous inflection point, i.e., China and Russia on the move, Islamic fundamentalism emboldened. In particular: China as the fundamental strategic adversary—geo-economic and geostrategic—but also a Russia-China connection (Shanghai Cooperation Organization, trade ties, military) and Trump saying “no tolerance for that.” Trump wants some cooperation with Putin to defeat “radical Islam” and perhaps push back China; Putin is seeking to cement a Russian military presence in strategically significant areas—notably the Middle East, Europe, and the Far East—that challenges the U.S. So there is considerable complexity in Trump’s inter-imperialist “courtship” with Putin (and vice-versa).
» On the dialectic between continuity and discontinuity. Yes, Obama once again providing the “loaded gun”—the trillion-dollar nuclear weapons “modernization” plan, no real dismantling of arsenals, etc. Truly outrageous—and nakedly imperialist. But this is a qualitative ratcheting up and shift.
» The “lunacy” and “unpredictability” of Trump and his circle. On the one hand, it serves a strategic calculus (see the Kissinger Face the Nation interview, and others about “madman”); on the other, a real aspect of lunacy and unpredictability that literally threatens humanity and the planet.
Revolution #472 January 2, 2017
Updated February 27, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Donald Trump has been putting in place a cabal of:
Trump's team so far includes:
Sebastian Gorka is emerging into the public eye as a key figure in the Trump/Pence regime’s plans to “eradicate” jihadist forces like ISIS as part of a much broader attack and aggression against Muslim countries and people as a whole.
Gorka is part of the core of people around Steve Bannon, the former editor of Breitbart News, who see America and the “Christian West” as locked in an existential struggle with the Muslim world and non-European/dark-skinned people generally. Bannon is Trump’s chief of strategy, and clearly very close to him in his thinking and policy. Gorka worked for Bannon at Breitbart for the last two years.
In January, Bannon recommended Gorka to be deputy assistant to Trump, and he was then named to the “Strategic Initiatives Group” (SIG), newly created by Bannon and Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. SIG appears to be meant to serve Bannon’s fascist ideological “oversight” of the White House national security apparatus. And in the last month, Gorka has been trotted out for numerous press interviews to defend the Trump regime.
Gorka was considered a “fringe” figure during the last 15 years, working at a series of lecturer positions in U.S. security and military training institutions. His trademark was his bitter disagreement with the mainstream of U.S. imperialist policymakers under Clinton, both Bushes, and Obama over whether or not to target the Islamic religion as a whole, and the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims, as “the enemy” of the U.S. empire.
The appointment Monday (January 30) of Thomas Homan to head Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), is the latest flashing red signal that the Trump regime is gearing up to begin deporting millions of immigrants from Mexico, Latin America and elsewhere.
First came last Wednesday’s executive order from Trump to build “the Wall,” which also ordered the hiring of 15,000 more Border Patrol and ICE agents. That order also changed federal policy to facilitate Border Patrol and ICE working closely with local and state police.
On Thursday, Mark Morgan, the head of the Border Patrol, was forced out of his post. Morgan wanted to stay and sucked up to Trump by publicly criticizing Obama’s immigration policies. But he was opposed by the Border Patrol union, which ran an op-ed on the neo-Nazi Breitbart.com in November saying Morgan was “a disgrace.”
The Border Patrol are front-line enforcers of the U.S. immigration policy.
The supposed mission of the federal Department of Labor is: “To foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.” Trump’s nominee for secretary of this department is Andrew Puzder, a champion of unrestrained exploitation of workers by the capitalists, free of government regulations.
One of Donald Trump's first decisions as president-elect was to name Steve Bannon his chief strategist and senior counselor. Bannon managed Trump's campaign. Before that he was the owner and hands-on force behind the website Breitbart News Network. Mainstream news and Bannon himself call Bannon's politics "conservative," "alt-right," or "white nationalist." It's worse than that.
"Hoist the Confederate Flag"
On June 17, 2015, Charleston, South Carolina: nine people at a Bible study class in the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church were murdered by white racist Dylann Roof. Roof said he carried out the massacre to start a "race war" to turn America back to the days of open segregation. He posed online with pro-Hitler symbols and a confederate flag. Part of the response, very broadly throughout society, was an eruption of outrage against the confederate flags, flags of slavery and lynching.
Breitbart's response: an article headlined "Hoist It High And Proud: The Confederate Flag Proclaims A Glorious Heritage." Steve Bannon ran Breitbart when this article was published. He signed off on it, and as a hands-on editor likely instigated it....
Donald Trump has chosen retired Marine Corps General James “Mad Dog” Mattis as his Secretary of Defense. He’s the latest addition to Trump’s storm trooper team. Mattis’ mantra: "Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everyone you meet."
Mattis' got his nickname “Mad Dog” for his role in leading U.S. troops in laying waste to the Iraqi city of Fallujah in November 2004, massacring insurgents and civilians alike. Most of that modern city of 300,000 was completely destroyed, reduced to rubble. At least 60 percent of those killed were women, children, and the elderly. A correspondent wrote: "There has been nothing like the attack on Fallujah since the Nazi invasion and occupation of much of the European continent—the shelling and bombing of Warsaw in September 1939, the terror bombing of Rotterdam in May 1940."
This week Trump named Lt. General Mike Flynn to be his National Security Adviser, one of the most powerful foreign policy positions in the government. The National Security Advisor is generally the president’s main foreign policy advisor and key coordinator of implementing his decisions. Flynn is seen as one of Trump’s closest and most rabid advisors. (During the Republican National Convention, he joined in the anti-Hillary Clinton chants of "Lock her up!")
Flynn, a retired three-star Army general and former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA, the Pentagon’s spying arm), claims the U.S. is in a global war, not just against Islamic jihadists but against Islam itself. It’s not really a religion, Flynn argues, but a dangerous political ideology. Flynn has called Islam a "cancer" and said "fear of Muslims is rational." In April 2015 he told Fox News, “I've been at war with Islam, or a component of Islam, for the last decade.”
Flynn vitriolically argues that the U.S. shouldn’t be restrained by human rights, international law, rules of engagement, or other forms of “political correctness” but should ruthlessly fight this “existential enemy.” (This stance and his open criticism of the Obama administration’s “softness” toward and “lying” about Islamic fundamentalists probably led to his 2014 firing as head of the DIA.)
Mike Pompeo wants to expand the government’s ability to spy on millions. He advocates legalizing and carrying out torture. He champions gutting fundamental civil rights. Now Trump has named this Congressman and former Army officer to head the Central Intelligence Agency—the CIA—one of the most powerful and deadly arms of the U.S. government’s repressive apparatus.
Pompeo opposed ending the ability of the National Security Agency (NSA) to collect phone records, or metadata, in bulk. Instead, he called for Congress to expandspying and “pass a law 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.” (Wall Street Journal, January 3, 2016)
By any conventional standards, Ben Carson is an obscene joke as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Less than a month ago, Carson’s close friend Armstrong Williams said Carson felt he would “cripple the presidency” in a cabinet position, because, “Dr. Carson feels he has no government experience, he’s never run a federal agency.”
But there is a fascist method to this madness. Trump’s choice of Carson to head up HUD puts someone who wants to decimate public housing and shut down any governmental interference with segregation, and who is a Christian fundamentalist lunatic to boot, in a powerful position in the U.S. government.
Ben Carson says any attempt by the government to address housing discrimination is a “mandated social-engineering scheme.” He says the micro-thin safety net that provides poor people, inner city residents, and Black and Brown people with barely livable shelter—if that—in dangerous projects and filthy homeless shelters is too much—that it just encourages “dependency.” What do you think an appointment like this means to people for whom the existing, shitty government programs are a matter of survival?
On December 16, Donald Trump announced the nomination of David Friedman as U.S. ambassador to Israel.
An Israeli newspaper described Friedman as "more hardline in his views than Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu," the current leader of Israel and notorious for invading the Gaza Strip and slaughtering thousands of Palestinian civilians. An Israeli commentator said Friedman "might find a place" in one of Israel's extremist parties, "but only on its right-wing fringes." Military historian Andrew Bacevich said that if you are looking for stability in the Middle East, this signals changes that will "put us in exactly the opposite direction ... increase the possibility of violence" and "extend the conflicts that have engulfed that part of the world."
Friedman is a fanatical supporter of Israel and an all-around fascist. His orientation is to give full support to the most right-wing positions and the most rabid forces in Israeli society, and to attack and demonize the Palestinian people and anyone who supports or even sympathizes with them, including a large number of Jews in both Israel and the U.S.
The United States will now have a vice president who wants to ban all abortions, overturn laws barring discrimination against LGBT people, fully unleash the police to stop and frisk Black and other oppressed people, and carry out other extreme steps that will lead to horrible new leaps in repression. Mike Pence cites Bible verses to back up such ugly policy stands. He is a Christian fascist who will be #2 in the White House.
One of Trump’s sons reportedly said before the election that his father’s vice president will be “the most powerful vice president in history,” in charge of domestic and foreign policy while Trump concentrates on “making America great.” Trump’s people denied the report—but, in any case, Pence will wield enormous sway. He is already playing a major role, including choosing cabinet and other officials. He met top Republicans in the House of Representatives and told them to “buckle up” to move quickly, making clear he’ll play a leading role in pushing fascist laws through Congress. As writer Jeremy Scahill put it (in an article at TheIntercept.com), “Mike Pence will be the most powerful Christian supremacist in U.S. history.”
Pence is part of a Christian fascist movement that aims to impose on society a government, laws, and dominant morality based on strict interpretations of the Bible. According to a Slate.com article, when Pence was a congressman from Indiana, “Aides and other politicians often saw him reading his Bible, and Pence would cite specific verses to justify policy arguments. ‘These have stood the test of time,’ he told one staffer. ‘They have eternal value.’” He made an anti-evolution speech on the floor of the House saying he believes in “intelligent design” (an unscientific claim that life is too complex to have evolved and must be the work of God) and arguing that it be taught in schools.
This week Donald Trump selected the longtime Alabama white supremacist (and U.S. senator) Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III to be the next Attorney General of the U.S.
Sessions first gained national attention in 1986, when he was nominated for a federal judgeship by Ronald Reagan. In his confirmation hearings, it was exposed that in 1984 when he was a U.S. Attorney in Alabama, Sessions led the prosecution of three Black civil rights workers for attempting to register Black people to vote in areas of Alabama where virtually no Black people had been able to vote—near the infamous town of Selma. They faced 100 years in jail. The three were acquitted by a jury in four hours.
In his confirmation hearing, an associate testified that Sessions had called a white civil rights lawyer a “disgrace to his race” for litigating voting rights cases.
A Black former assistant US 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 U.S. attorney testified was not a joke, but something he took as “a serious statement” of Sessions' views. Sessions made this contemptible statement about the KKK in the aftermath of a trial of two Klansmen for slitting the throat of a Black man in Mobile, Alabama.
Trump’s choices for his cabinet include enemies of public education, housing and the environment to head departments dealing with those issue. Now, for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Trump has picked Tom Price, a ghoul who aims to gut healthcare, especially for the poor, and ban abortion.
Tom Price is a surgeon, a congressman from Georgia, and a member of the fascist Tea Party caucus. Price has been a prominent part of repeated efforts in the Congress to push through bills that would undermine or repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Obama’s healthcare law. A statement by a group of doctors, signed by thousands of physicians, said that Price’s policies attacking public healthcare “threaten to harm our most vulnerable patients and limit their access to healthcare.” (See “Thousands of Doctors Speak Out Against Trump’s Pick to Head Health and Human Services” at our “Voices of Conscience and Resistance in the Time of Trump-Pence” page.)
The reality is that ACA (or “Obamacare”) is not a real solution to the glaring situation where tens of millions of people can’t afford healthcare, with thousands dying needlessly, in a country that has a technologically advanced—and very profitable—healthcare “industry.” In the face of growing outrage among the people over this, sections of the ruling class felt it necessary to contain healthcare costs and expand insurance coverage to some extent. The ACA was a capitalist plan to maintain the profitability of capitalists who have major stakes in healthcare while taking into account the interests of other capitalists, and to make some concessions in order to tamp down a source of political outrage against the system. But from the start, the ACA been the target of Price and other Republicans who promote the view that the government has no responsibility for anything having to do with the well-being and welfare of the people—and that any attempt to soften the predatory impact of the capitalist “market” on people does harm to the interests of their capitalist system.
Donald Trump has nominated Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education.
Betsy DeVos heads The American Federation for Children. This is an organization that describes itself as “the leading national advocacy organization promoting school choice, with a specific focus on advocating for school vouchers, scholarship tax credit programs and Education Savings Accounts.” (emphasis added)
School choice: Allowing white parents to avoid sending their children to integrated public schools. This strips public schools of funding. It leaves them with a high number of special-needs students and without resources to provide a decent education to children.
School vouchers: A tool for channeling state funding into private, religious (overwhelmingly Christian) schools. And thus having the government fund Christian schools, even though that is supposed to be unconstitutional. Parents get vouchers and can use them to pay tuition for segregated, Christian schools.
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 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.
Scott Pruitt is Donald Trump’s nominee for head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). As Attorney General of Oklahoma, Pruitt has been a rabid attack dog for the fossil fuel industry. He fought even the very limited steps the Obama administration took to try to contain global climate change. He has fought clean air and water rules that have been in effect for decades. Pruitt, and the Trump regime, represent an extreme escalation of the danger humanity faces.
Scott Pruitt is a climate change denier. He would head the EPA for a president who belligerently, and with no scientific backing at all, declares climate change a hoax. Pruitt is obsessed with shredding obstacles to fracking. In Oklahoma, that has led to disastrous environmental disaster already. In a state that use to be essentially without earthquakes, fracking has lead to a situation where one Native American Indian reservation suffered 816 earthquakes in one year. He was point man in fighting to extend the dangerous Keystone XL pipeline. He is a cheerleader for coal mining. His record as Attorney General in Oklahoma was one of literally transcribing lying propaganda from oil industry lobbyists and submitting it on official government letterhead to federal agencies.
Revolution #472 January 2, 2017
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."
Now, as a final thought on this overall point of strategy. The orientation and approach in all of this must be one of going to people, particularly among those who most desperately need this revolution, but more broadly as well—among students and among other sections of the people—not in some “aimless way,” lacking any strategic purpose and “revolutionary urgency,” just awaiting passively, and without passion, for “one fine day” when the prospect of revolution will somehow “magically” become “real,” but, instead, working with, and being alive with, the very clear orientation and message: We ARE building a movement for revolution, for an actual revolution, and we ARE building the Party as its leading core; and in this way, to call on, work with, and work to organize, growing numbers of people to become part of this, while giving them a living sense of the larger picture, the strategic thinking and approach and the leadership that is giving shape and direction to this process overall, not just in one small corner but in the whole society and with the whole world in view and in mind—to push forward the “three prepares” (prepare the ground, prepare the people, and prepare the vanguard), really getting ready for the time when millions can be led to fight, all-out, for the seizure of power, with a real chance of winning, to clear the ground of this outmoded, illegitimate, rotten, bankrupt, and murderous system, and open the way to a radically different and emancipating society and world.
Introduction and Orientation
Foolish Victims of Deceit, and Self-Deceit
Part I. Method and Approach, Communism as a Science
Materialism vs. Idealism
Through Which Mode of Production
The Basic Contradictions and Dynamics of Capitalism
The New Synthesis of Communism
The Basis for Revolution
Epistemology and Morality, Objective Truth and Relativist Nonsense
Self and a “Consumerist” Approach to Ideas
What Is Your Life Going to Be About?—Raising People’s Sights
Part II. Socialism and the Advance to Communism:
A Radically Different Way the World Could Be, A Road to Real Emancipation
The “4 Alls”
Beyond the Narrow Horizon of Bourgeois Right
Socialism as an Economic System and a Political System—And a Transition to Communism
Abundance, Revolution, and the Advance to Communism—A Dialectical Materialist Understanding
The Importance of the “Parachute Point”—Even Now, and Even More With An Actual Revolution
The Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America—
Solid Core with a Lot of Elasticity on the Basis of the Solid Core
Emancipators of Humanity
Part III. The Strategic Approach to An Actual Revolution
One Overall Strategic Approach
Hastening While Awaiting
Forces For Revolution
Separation of the Communist Movement from the Labor Movement, Driving Forces for Revolution
National Liberation and Proletarian Revolution
The Strategic Importance of the Struggle for the Emancipation of Women
The United Front under the Leadership of the Proletariat
Youth, Students and the Intelligentsia
Struggling Against Petit Bourgeois Modes of Thinking, While Maintaining the Correct Strategic Orientation
The “Two Maximizings”
The “5 Stops”
The Two Mainstays
Returning to "On the Possibility of Revolution"
Internationalism and an International Dimension
Internationalism—Bringing Forward Another Way
Popularizing the Strategy
Part IV. The Leadership We Need
The Decisive Role of Leadership
A Leading Core of Intellectuals—and the Contradictions Bound Up with This
Another Kind of “Pyramid”
The Cultural Revolution Within the RCP
The Need for Communists to Be Communists
A Fundamentally Antagonistic Relation—and the Crucial Implications of That
Strengthening the Party—Qualitatively as well as Quantitatively
Forms of Revolutionary Organization, and the “Ohio”
Statesmen, and Strategic Commanders
Methods of Leadership, the Science and the “Art” of Leadership
Working Back from “On the Possibility”—
Another Application of “Solid Core with a Lot of Elasticity on the Basis of the Solid Core”
The New Synthesis of Communism:
Fundamental Orientation, Method and Approach,
and Core Elements—An Outline
by Bob Avakian
Framework and Guidelines for Study and Discussion
Selected List of Works Cited
About the Author
Revolution #472 January 2, 2017
January 2, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
The exclusive $264 million Trump National Golf Club Los Angeles, in Rancho Palos Verdes, is ranked among the top 100 courses in the country to play golf. On Christmas Eve, people dining at the club were treated to anti-Trump Christmas carols sung by Black Lives Matter (BLM) protesters.
More than 60 BLM activists staged a Black Brunch protest, walking into the fancy golf club’s restaurant without any objection from staff members. They went right past the maître d and began singing what they called “conscious Christmas carols.” Reportedly, the mainly white diners were initially shocked, but then many of them applauded the singers who were able to sing four songs. A news report said only one diner tried, unsuccessfully, to stop the anti-Trump protesters.
One of the carols, sung to the tune of “The Christmas Song” (aka “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire”) was “Trump’s Nuts Roasting on an Open Fire” by Fiona Apple, which included the lyrics:
Trump’s nuts roasting on an open fire
As he keeps nipping at his foes
You’ll cry “creepy uncle” every time he arrives
For he keeps clawing at your clothes
Everybody knows that money and entitlement can help to make the season white
Mothers of color with their kids out of sight will find it hard to sleep at night
Another song was “Deck the Streets” (to the tune of “Deck the Halls”) and “Hark! The Fighting People Sing” (to the tune of “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”).
Revolution #472 January 2, 2017
Shaun King Writes:
January 2, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
An important piece titled “We’re Not Opposing Donald Trump With The Unified Fierceness He Deserves,” in today’s New York Daily News, by activist and columnist Shaun King begins:
“A man who some believe to be a pretty terrible human being is scheduled to become our next President in less than three weeks. I won't make yet another rundown of all of the awful things he has said and done. I've done that a dozen times. Pretty much every reputable news outlet in the country has covered Trump's lies, deceit, failed commitments, his unethical business dealings, and his personal admissions on mistreating and sexually assaulting women.”
Shaun King makes other very important points in his piece, and concludes:
“South Korea should be our role model. For months on end, in fierce opposition to corruption with their President, millions of people filled the streets in protest. At first, what it would accomplish was not clear, but the people knew that corruption necessitates opposition. As the opposition grew and grew and grew, it gripped the nation and eventually broke the back of the administration, causing the ouster of their President.
“Trump deserves this type of opposition. It will not grow from the establishment, but from the will and energy of the people. If Donald Trump is going to be opposed, it's going to come from the people and it must start now.”
Spread this piece everywhere, now!
Revolution #472 January 2, 2017
January 5, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
From a reader:
The #Earth2Trump Roadshow kicked off in Oakland and Seattle on January 2, and is coming to a town near you in January, on its way to Washington, D.C. on January 20 for Trump’s planned inauguration.
The website www.earth2trump.org says: “The roadshow is rallying and empowering defenders of civil rights and the environment to resist Trump's dangerous agenda. Stopping in 16 cities on its way to Washington, D.C., it’s bringing thousands of people to protest at the presidential inauguration.”
The Oakland launch event featured cultural performances and speeches and was highlighted by the reading of the Pledge of Resistance for the tour:
Pledge of Resistance to Donald Trump's Assault on America's Environment, Democracy and Civil Rights
I pledge to stand in resistance to Donald Trump's assault on America's clean air, clean water, climate, wildlife, civil rights, reproductive rights, gender and racial equality, and freedom of speech and religion.
I pledge to stand in solidarity with those threatened by violence and intimidation because of who they are, what they believe or their opposition to Trump's dangerous agenda.
Donald Trump is an unprecedented threat to our nation's democracy, health and environment. He must not be allowed to dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency, gut the Clean Air and Endangered Species acts, raid our public lands, eliminate regulations protecting poor communities from pollution, deport millions of people, take away our reproductive freedom, or force millions to live in fear.
I pledge to resist Trump through action.
I pledge to speak out, make phone calls, sign petitions, join rallies, support conservation and civil rights groups, educate my family and friends, and keep a compassionate, loving heart while fighting fiercely for the values I cherish most.
One hundred fifty to 200 people attended the Oakland kick-off for the tour. The tour is being anchored by the Center for Biological Diversity, and is supported by many environmental, union, and other organizations. As part of the climax of the launch event, people wrote their own personal statements of why they were resisting Trump, and these were put into a large globe-shaped ball to be carried across the country to D.C.
A high school climate activist who spoke at the event talked of her family living in another country who was forced to move to higher ground because the ocean is rising. She said, “I will not sit idly by while the seas rise.” She said many speak of protecting the earth for future generations, but that this means acting NOW: “We will protect this earth, now, for this generation.”
A professor emeritus from a local college who spoke said that we are “facing the demise of the human race as we know it” and described what is coming as “a culture of empire, greed, and fear.” And he said it is time to “get over our depression and tap into our anger.”
Revolution #472 January 2, 2017
The Revolution Club in Chicago Says:
January 5, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On January 3 Trump tweeted “Chicago murder rate is record setting - 4,331 shooting victims with 762 murders in 2016. If Mayor can’t do it he must ask for Federal help!”
The Revolution Club in Chicago Says: F***K YOU DONALD TRUMP—KEEP YOUR FEDS’ HANDS OFF CHICAGO
Trump and his “feds” coming to Chicago because of the murders here will only make things 100 times worse. Trump is clearly NOT talking about reopening schools, bringing meaningful jobs into the city, overcoming homelessness, funding and developing cultural programs, redoing health care and child-raising support systems top to bottom.
NO. Trump is talking about more killer pigs who already act like an occupying army in our communities. Pigs who repeatedly murder and almost never face charges. The police have already murdered two unarmed people in the first four days of 2017. Trump is talking about massive racial profiling through massive stop-and-frisk. He is talking about MORE jails. And he is talking about flooding the city with federal agents to spy on and repress people who actually try to mobilize masses to go up against this. Along with this, will be the unleashing of the vile racist “blue lives matter” thugs we already saw in Mt Greenwood. NO! NO! NO!
To the youth caught up in murderous rounds of revenge and retaliation we quote from our call:
Stop Killing Each Other. Come Together—Truce—To Stop the Trump/Pence Regime Before It Starts!
[T]oo many of our loved ones have lost their lives to senseless and unnecessary violence. This violence and destruction is promoted and encouraged by the forces who really run this shit. In other words they would like nothing more than for us to continue to kill and destroy ourselves. We are being played over and over again!
Now is the time to stop being played. An openly racist, woman hating, and fascist Trump regime is about to come into power in less than a month. Yes, it’s true, no president prior gave a damn about a Black or Brown life. But it’s also true that sh*t is going to get a whole lot worse if we allow Trump to take hold—a whole worse world of hurt and pain for people we hold near and dear and for people all over the planet.
Let’s be about real courage, real daring, real risk and real meaning and come together and take on THESE fascists in massive defiant struggle..... Join the fight to Stop The Trump/Pence Regime Before It Starts!
We are not talking about just defending the way things already are, or being satisfied with some reforms, because the way things are is a horror—we are talking about getting into making revolution against the whole system... and it is time right now to say NO! to Trump—to fight to prevent his fascist regime from ruling over people.
Revolution #472 January 2, 2017
January 5, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
The United Teachers of LA (UTLA)—the union representing teachers and support service personnel throughout the massive Los Angeles Unified School District—has called for a Pre-Inauguration Citywide Action: We #SchoolTrump.
Home page banner at the LA Teachers’ Union website
According to the UTLA website:
“On January 19, the day before the presidential inauguration, we will stand up for our values as public school educators with actions at school sites citywide. We will show that educators are united with our students and our communities against Trump’s racially charged and anti-immigrant proposals and that we will continue to fight attempts to privatize public education. Join tens of thousands of students, parents, educators, school staff, and community members on the day before the inauguration to shield our public schools from the Trump/DeVos/Broad agenda.” (Trump’s nominee for Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, is an attack dog in the all-out assault on public education for imposing theocratic religious oppression and madness through public schools. The “Broad” agenda is a powerful campaign to privatize education financed by Eli Broad of the Walmart fortune.)
In their newsletter, the UTLA says the “morning actions at school sites will send a spirited message that we are united against all the forms of bigotry given voice during the campaign, including racism, ableism, homophobia, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, misogyny, and anti-immigrant attacks. Our schools must be safe, inclusive spaces, with doors open to all and where all children can learn without being frightened or harassed.”
Revolution #472 January 2, 2017
January 5, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On January 3 Donald Trump tweeted “Chicago murder rate is record setting - 4,331 shooting victims with 762 murders in 2016. If Mayor can’t do it he must ask for Federal help!”
During his campaign, he told you what that means.
Trump’s nominating convention featured former New York mayor, Rudolph “Adolph” Ghouliani, screaming about “law and order” and “blue lives matter.” And this was a major theme of Trump’s campaign.
During the campaign, Trump said, “Chicago needs stop-and-frisk ... with good strong, you know, good strong law and order.”
Chicago actually already has stop-and-frisk policing. A piece in Time magazine (September 27, 2016) summed up that the impact was “singling out black communities as problem areas, and [saddling] them with unique forms of surveillance and control.” And, “Chicago’s violent crime rates would get significantly worse after implementation of stop-and-frisk.”(emphasis in original)
From 2002 to 2011, New York City had a massive Stop-and-Frisk policy. During that time, Black and Latino residents made up close to 90 percent of nearly four million people stopped, frisked, humiliated, insulted, threatened, and abused by police. Overwhelmingly they were not even charged with committing a crime. A federal judge ruled NYC’s Stop-and-Frisk unconstitutional.
Trump has said that violence in Chicago could be stopped in a week if police were “very much tougher.” Trump claims “The police in this country have done an unbelievable job of keeping law and order, and they're afraid for their jobs, they're afraid of the mistreatment they get... they can't act. They're afraid for losing their pension, their job. They don't know what to do.”
In the U.S. police have done “an unbelievable job” of locking up over two million people in prison, killing over a thousand people a year, terrorizing and brutalizing millions more, including young children, and even when caught on video murdering people, they get away with it over and over again. And when Trump says they can’t do their job because people are outraged about this, protesting it, and exposing it, he’s telling you that when police murder people, especially Black and Brown people, they are doing their jobs.
It has been important and necessary that people have been protesting, shining a light on police brutality and terror, and demanding it to STOP. That movement must not stop, but grow and be built toward revolution—an actual revolution that overthrows this system at the soonest possible time—because there is no solution to these outrages under this system, and as long as we live under this system, this will go on... and on.
Which brings us back to the profound danger represented by Trump. As we wrote in Point of Orientation on the Struggle to Prevent the Trump-Pence Fascist Regime:
To make it very clear: If people are beaten down and repressed it is NOT better for revolution. If the masses are decimated, and all their strivings for something better are decimated, if their organizations—including the vanguard—come under severe and open violent repression, we’ll be that much further away from what we need.
Do our youth need to stop killing each other? Of course! (See “The Revolution Club in Chicago Says: F***K YOU DONALD TRUMP—KEEP YOUR FEDS’ HANDS OFF CHICAGO.”) But when Trump threatens these pigs will be “very much tougher” he is threatening to make life much worse, much more dangerous for the oppressed for whom this system has no future. Trump is an admirer of another “tough on crime” leader—Rodrigo Duterte, President of the Philippines who pledged to stop the drug epidemic there by killing 30,000 drug users and dealers in the slums and said he would hand out presidential pardons for mass murder—including to himself—at the end of his term. Duterte’s cops and vigilantes have already killed about 7,000 people.
Our youth need a future. Not death squads and fascist police running amuck.
Trump’s tweet is ominous indeed, and one more very compelling reason why we need to STEP UP our efforts to Stop Trump-Pence BEFORE they come to power.
Revolution #472 January 2, 2017
Updated January 6, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
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 the Constitution 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]
Revolution #472 January 2, 2017
January 5, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
It is UNCONSCIONABLE for people like Bernie Sanders and Chuck Schumer and union head Rich Trumka to be talking about how to work with Trump on legislation for jobs and protectionist trade legislation.
This would be tantamount to Italian unions working with Mussolini to make the trains run on time—and who cares where they’re going and what they’re doing. Worse: this would be tantamount to working with Hitler on his vast public works project (from sports arenas to the “autobahn” [highway system]) while ignoring the thrust of his program. Indeed, all too many people in Germany went along with Hitler because “he improved the economy.”
Some basic points to Bernie Sanders and the rest: Trump and Pence are FASCISTS. You don’t throw the whole rest of the world into the flames of hell, you don’t train people (further) in looking at the workers of the world as their competition and enemy, you don’t cave into the white chauvinism and American chauvinism dripping from the whole Trump “jobs” thing and his “Make America Great” poison by figuring out “how we can work with him.” And you don’t cover that up by once in a while making some weak-ass whimper of protest as people are persecuted and civil rights eviscerated and then turn around once again to talk with real passion about working with Trump to pass public works programs. “How we can work with him where we agree?!?!?” Again, this is “how do we work with Hitler where we agree.”
This is not just morally disgusting, this is POLITICALLY DANGEROUS, a pied piper stunt to draw the people who supported Sanders away from real opposition and resistance and into conciliation and, yes, collaboration!
Revolution #472 January 2, 2017
January 6, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Residents run from their South Vietnam village after napalm was dropped on it. The U.S. dropped 373,000 tons of napalm—jellied gasoline that burns at over 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit—on the Vietnamese people, burning their flesh to the bone and causing agonizing pain and almost certain death.
Highway of Death: On the night of February 26–27, 1991, thousands of Iraqi soldiers and civilians were retreating to Baghdad, after a ceasefire was announced, when President George Bush ordered his forces to slaughter the retreating Iraqi (Photo: Tech Sgt. Joe Coleman)
March 20, 2003, U.S. bombing of Bagdad, Iraq. (AP photo)
Many of the civilian deaths in Iraq were women and children. These children were killed in 2006 by U.S. airstrikes. (AP photo)
Kristallnacht–a night of massive violence, destruction, terror and death aimed at Jews in Germany. Hundreds of Jewish people were killed, tens of thousands of Jewish men were arrested and incarcerated in Nazi concentration camps.
Fascists—as well as “ordinary” imperialists—use, and when they see it as necessary, create incidents to justify monstrous acts. If people are not going to be used, played, manipulated into compliance or even active complicity with great crimes and fascism, this needs to be understood, and acted on.
Here, we look at several such examples, in order to identify a pattern of incidents, pretexts, and traps, and to learn from those patterns in the context of the rise of an American fascist poised to enter the White House.
America’s Record of Pretexts and Crimes
First of all, it is an established fact that U.S. administrations have repeatedly used incidents, invented or real, to carry out terrible war crimes and crimes against humanity. “Normal” U.S. administrations, of both parties, have done this. A few examples:
Incidents and Pretexts... in the Hands of Fascists
The incidents just listed, horrible as they were, took place under the normal operating procedures of this system. This is the history of the United States. But at a moment when we face an attempt to install a fascist regime in the United States, it is critical to confront how fascism takes systematic lying and seizing on incidents—real or not—to carry out crimes against humanity on a whole other level. Let’s look at how incidents were invoked to carry out and justify the historic crime of the Nazi Holocaust, that murdered six million Jews along with communists, Roma people, LGBT people, people with disabilities, and dissidents.
One of the most infamous of such incidents leading up to the Holocaust was the 1933 Reichstag fire. In February 1933, Adolph Hitler was convinced there was a need to move much faster, much more violently, and much more ruthlessly to push civil liberties and rule of law aside in order to terrorize and crush forces in society he saw as an obstacle to his agenda.
Hitler seized on the burning down of the Reichstag—the building housing Germany’s legislature—to do that. In the aftermath of this fire, several communists were arrested and put on trial. One was convicted, the others acquitted. But just one day after the fire, before the trial began, Hitler prevailed on Germany’s President Hindenburg to sign a decree that essentially wiped out constitutional protection of individual and civil liberties. And in the immediate aftermath of the fire, Hitler was given what was, up to that point, a whole new level of access to the German mass media to instigate mob terror. He declared, “Fellow Germans, my measures will not be crippled by any judicial thinking... don’t have to worry about justice; my mission is only to destroy and exterminate, nothing more!... Certainly, I shall use the power of the State and the police to the utmost, my dear Communists, so don’t draw any false conclusions; but the struggle to the death, in which my fist will grasp your necks, I shall lead with those down there—the Brownshirts.” (The Brownshirts were Nazi thugs comparable to the KKK in the U.S.). All the communists elected to Germany’s legislature were rounded up immediately, and thousands became some of the first ones interned in Nazi concentration camps—crushing Hitler’s most defiant opposition and paving the way to the death camps.
On November 7, 1938, a seventeen-year-old German Jewish refugee in France, Herschel Grynszpan, shot and mortally wounded a German diplomat in Paris. Grynszpan’s father had been among ten thousand Jews deported to Poland in boxcars shortly before this. Hitler seized on this as the pretext for Kristallnacht—a night of massive violence, destruction, terror and death aimed at Jews in Germany. Hundreds of Jewish people were killed, tens of thousands of Jewish men were arrested and incarcerated in Nazi concentration camps. Jewish homes, hospitals, and schools were ransacked. Over 1,000 synagogues were burned. Some 7,000 Jewish businesses were destroyed or damaged. In response to worldwide outrage, Hitler blamed “the Jewish world conspiracy” for making Germany look bad.
Critical Patterns to Learn From
The use of pretexts—real or invented—to justify war and repression is part and parcel of the normal workings of capitalism-imperialism. But, again, this takes on a whole other, and critically ominous dimension with the ascendance of fascism, and fascist rulers. Remember: Hitler invoked the Reichstag fire to impose fascism.
These are lessons we all must learn from, and then struggle with other people to learn from. The stakes right now are very high, and the dangers very great. There will be incidents, real and created; these will be turned into pretexts to silence all protest and to give the government huge repressive powers. Do not let them spring the trap; keep your eyes on the real issues, and fight with others do to the same.
Revolution #472 January 2, 2017
January 6, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
From a reader:
When Donald Trump took out a full page ad in the New York Times calling for the death penalty in the case of the Central Park 5—five Black and Brown teenagers (in the case involving the brutal beating and rape of a female jogger)—even before they were convicted, this was fomenting hate. And when he has continued up to this day to call for their imprisonment—even after they were exonerated, even after they spent over 10 years in adult prisons, even after a serial rapist confessed to and was proven to have committed this crime—and now that same Trump is president-elect—that is hatred with power behind it. That is an expression, a celebration, of the oppression of whole peoples this system has demonized and treated as pariah groups since day one. A hate and celebration that continues and is about to be juiced up—that is, put on steroids—with the Trump-Pence fascist regime. Again: hatred with state power behind it.
When Trump calls immigrants from Mexico—people who are forced to leave their loved ones because this capitalist imperialist system has fucked up their countries even more than it has fucked up this one here—when Trump calls them "rapists, murderers, and drug dealers," this too is a concentration and celebration of oppression, and incitement to hate.
When Steve Bannon—Trump’s Strategic Adviser—publishes articles calling on his listeners and readers to proudly hold high the Confederate flag of slavery—when he gives a platform for white supremacy—this is a call for and celebration of hate, of oppression, that reaches millions.
When the police over and over, again and again, murder Black and Latino people—for raising their hands, or not raising their hands—for making eye contact—for running away—for throwing rocks—for having a toy gun—when those same police are rarely if ever arrested for it—this begins to tell us the cold-blooded truth—that this oppressive shit is deeply baked into the crust and toppings that make up this system—and that these pigs are enforcers of all of it—all of its injustices.
No one can compare the white supremacy, the oppression of whole peoples—Black, Latino, Native American, which go to the very roots of the U.S. empire—with the “hate” four Black youth in Chicago are accused of inflicting on a mentally disabled white youth.
What these youth are accused of doing is wrong. It is anger that is misdirected. Directed to the wrong place.
It goes against the revolution that is needed to do away with the oppression these youth are responding to. Lashing out, taking revenge, is the system’s way. To get rid of this oppression you got to go to the roots of it—the base—BAsics—the leadership of Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party—and fight it in the way it can really be eliminated—that is, by becoming part of the revolution to emancipate all humanity.
This hatred—white supremacy—has always had power behind it in America, it has always been the dominant ideology of this country. Right now, it is that hatred that is about to come into power, putting the power of the state behind it on a whole deeper level. This must be stopped, NOW.
Revolution #472 January 2, 2017
January 1, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
By the intersection of two things: first, massive protest and resistance from tens of millions of ordinary people, daring and determined to actually prevent this fascist regime from taking over and implementing its program, beginning more or less immediately and growing to a crescendo in the next few weeks, and through that creating "a crisis of rule"; and second, coupled with this, attempts by different factions in the established power structure that have real differences with Trump-Pence to solve the crisis by preventing them from taking the reins of power.
These protests could be something with the character of the protests against police murder over the past few years, or the Occupy protests before that—but larger by several orders of magnitude and even more determined. Such protests would have to have the effect of figuratively "stopping society in its tracks" and would raise real questions as to whether people very broadly would recognize the legitimacy of such a regime to even rule in basic ways and enforce its edicts.
The "not normal" character of Trump-Pence—the radical changes they embody in how people are to be ruled in this country (in short, the fascist ethos and measures they campaigned on) and in regard to U.S. international policy—have not only created tremendous anguish and anger among many millions of ordinary people, but among ruling factions which have up to now nevertheless chosen to go along with this. But should there be a political eruption "from below," their concerns over Trump would combine with immediate questions as to whether their basic stability and perhaps even the entire system would be endangered by continuing to stick with Trump-Pence.
As that dynamic developed, scandals that up to now have been covered up could erupt, or be treated in a different way so as to raise fundamental constitutional issues, and ways would be found to prevent the coming to power of Trump-Pence.
Yes, it has. In the early 1970s, in the U.S., Spiro Agnew, the vice-president, and then Richard Nixon, the president, were both forced to resign. The Nixon-Agnew regime, though having fairly decisively won the 1972 election, had alienated tens of millions from the very system itself and had also undertaken highly repressive, extraordinary and unconstitutional measures to settle conflicts within the ruling circles. Nixon was forced out, and Gerald Ford—who had not been elected as either president or vice-president—ascended to power.
There are more recent examples as well, from other countries. As 2011 dawned, President Hosni Mubarak had ruled Egypt for decades and seemed to be immovably implanted in power. But Mubarak was forced to leave office and actually arrested after being confronted by massive demonstrations that braved very severe repression, focused in the main square in Cairo, along with opposition from all sectors of society manifesting in different ways. From the time of the first demonstrations to the removal of Mubarak took less than a month. There is also the current situation in South Korea in which massive demonstrations against the legally elected president have resulted in her impeachment and suspension from office in a period of a few months. There are in fact more than a few examples from the past several decades in which mass demonstrations from below have created or exacerbated splits and divisions among ruling elites and led to constitutionally extraordinary changes in government. In the cases cited here, each of the presidents removed had actually received not only majorities of the popular vote but, in the case of Nixon for instance, a true "landslide" victory.
No two societies or periods of time, of course, are exactly alike, and history is not made by analogy—but there are nonetheless underlying dynamics common to these societies that make it possible to learn lessons.
Because Trump-Pence in fact would NOT be "normal"—because they are in fact fascist and their attacks on immigrants, Muslims, women, Black people, the press, the sciences, the rule of law itself are so odious to the basic values of tens of millions and their threats to the environment and to many countries are so very dangerous to humanity itself—there is an extraordinary depth to people's anguish over the prospect of this regime, and an extraordinary breadth of the people who feel that way. While the demonstrations immediately following the elections (themselves unprecedented) have temporarily ebbed, the anguish and anger remain, finding expression in many different statements, including artistic ones, and in people's felt and expressed desire to act and to protect those most vulnerable. These millions can be reached with a way to act that seems commensurate with the challenge of actually preventing this; the thousands in the initial actions can become organizers of organizers of organizers, and there can be rapid geometric growth—again, due to the extraordinary circumstances and the deep feelings of tens of millions.
Early this week, the call for this campaign will hit with tremendous impact via ads in major news outlets, in print and online, co-ordinated with massive and burgeoning social media efforts. Spokespeople will be made available to media in a concerted effort to get the word out and to involve as diverse a group of initiators and other possible spokespeople as possible in doing that. And with this, plans will be announced to "bring DC to a halt" in the week before the scheduled inauguration. Shortly after that we envision the growth of demonstrations and other forms of protest—including especially non-violent direct action disrupting business as usual, occupying public spaces, assemblies and meetings in institutions and workplaces, strikes, etc.—in cities across the country. As people see that there are many who feel like they do and, more than that, are determined and acting to do something about what would almost certainly be a horrific regime, they will themselves become inspired and compelled to join in these. This would have to quickly spread and find ways to overcome resistance and obstacles; but once people are aroused and acting on their highest aspirations, tremendous creativity and resources can become unlocked and things can spread like wildfire. While this is far from assured, historical experience shows that there is a reasonable chance that in the face of extreme provocation from the ruling powers, people can act in extraordinary ways.
As this develops, we envision public spaces being occupied in major cities and millions travelling to DC to protest the inauguration in the days leading up to it (and the millions in the DC and Baltimore areas who DID oppose Trump-Pence making resources and shelter available). This is a highly mobile and highly interknit society in which there is still relative freedom of movement and outlets for expression*; if such a thing could happen in a highly repressive and non-interlinked society like Egypt, it could certainly happen here.
As all this emerges and then comes to a head, we would expect that even further scandals around Trump would surface from various sources, that different sections of the population with different concerns would get drawn into this, and that the social will to stop Trump-Pence from ruling would emerge and the political/legal means to accomplish that would be found.
*Indeed, the prospect of the radical curtailment of those freedoms in a Trump-Pence regime is one thing that should impel people to act now.
First, let's look at the case that is made in the mission and plan for this initiative:
More fundamental [than the illegitimate character of the electoral college] 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 vigilanteism 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% 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.
Beyond that, there is this: waiting to see in similar situations has led to horrors. They have told you what they will do and they have begun to show you: why would you want to risk everything based on a hope that has no basis in the material world?
First, had the shoe been on the other foot—had Trump-Pence won the popular vote by a convincing 2.8 million votes while losing the electoral college (which itself is a relic of slavery), had facts come to light suggesting extraordinary circumstances influencing the outcome of the elections, etc.—they would have not only been all over the courts demanding extraordinary remedial legal action, they would have already mounted major demonstrations in the capital, as well as doing other things—as they had in fact threatened to do. Second, the most important point in evaluating this particular question is this: should this regime take power, based on what they have already said and done, it would be such a breach of the most fundamental rights that people hold dear and essential to political life—freedom of speech, freedom of political expression and association and freedom of the press; the legal rights to social and political participation, along with the guarantee of safety from the state and due process of law for all nationalities and genders and religious faiths; along with a highly aggressive foreign policy and a president who, as candidate, has already promised to ignore the Geneva Conventions on war crimes; etc. etc.—that to accede to this regime's ascension to power would so violate those principles as to render them meaningless. In short, there is a greater good at stake that demands extraordinary action.
Yes. But you are not going to, nor should you want to, mollify fascists by laying low—again, this has been tried in the past with disastrous results. Right now, in the flush of victory, these people are already committing hate crimes—if you give them a veto power over your taking political action by the fear they strike in you, you have already given up. And the consequences of that are unacceptable.
The assumption behind this question is that the circumstances will be more favorable later. Yet the experience with fascist or even authoritarian regimes does not provide comfort for that point of view. When Hitler became chancellor (with a plurality but not a majority of the votes, by the way), he had only two other Nazis in a cabinet of eleven people. Yet he moved quickly to peel off his opponents in and out of government, to eviscerate and then abolish civil liberties, and in relatively short order to consolidate what became an extremely repressive and powerful regime, which carried out extraordinary crimes against humanity. Experience today with the—again, legally elected—Erdoğan regime in Turkey would also argue that the likelihood is that effective opposition and resistance become more, not less, difficult as time goes on. These regimes administer shock after shock to keep any resistance off balance and intimidated, and peel away sources of opposition systematically and in a divide-and-conquer manner.
Trump for his part has promised and already shown that he is likely to move in very extreme ways, creating faits accomplis and "moving the goalposts" fairly quickly, and that he will also not be shy about using the extraordinary powers created by the 2001 "Patriot Act" and other repressive legislation and presidential orders; further, it is also prudent to assume, from what he has said and how he has behaved, that he would not hesitate to act outside the law, carrying out edicts and leaving people to somehow seek redress in the wake of his illegally repressive actions; it is also likely that Trump would summon "cyber-mobs" as part of his repertoire.
Moreover, Trump has promised an extremely reckless and dangerous foreign policy, aimed at making a qualitative leap in U.S. dominance in the world. Counseling people to hold back now, no matter how well-meaning the intentions in doing so, could literally end up putting at risk the continued existence of the world as we know it.
In short, should we hold back now it will almost certainly become immeasurably more difficult to fight back once Trump-Pence are in power and using the vast state power at their disposal to implement their program. The path of holding back, of waiting and seeing, of calculating odds is littered with corpses. Far better to fight as hard as we can now, however difficult the circumstances, fostering an ethos and framework of resistance as we go for victory and going all out in a telescoped period of time for what is indeed our best shot.
There are, of course, no guarantees of victory for people who have right on their side. The only guarantee that has ever existed is that if you don't fight for justice you will certainly not get it.
Let us fight.
Revolution #472 January 2, 2017
Revolution #472 January 2, 2017
January 6, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Today Congress certified Donald Trump's election. Democrat Joe Biden said, "It's over." But growing 1000's, including many prominent voices are saying it is NOT over! "We certify this fascist regime as illegitimate," Carl Dix, one of RefuseFascism.org's initiators, declared today. "We are going to #FloodDC!"
Growing numbers of prominent voices, including Cornel West, Alice Walker, Rosie O'Donnell, Ed Asner and many others, along with thousands of signers, called for millions to take the streets in political protest and resistance to prevent what they argue is a fascist regime from taking power in a full-page signed ad in the New York Times on Wednesday. “Stop the Trump/Pence Regime Before It Starts!” it states.
"Today's Congressional vote underscores the urgency and truth of our Call to Action, Dix says, which states:
"[Stopping Trump/Pence] 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."
For Interviews with Initiators of RefuseFascism.org and signers of the Call to Action, including concerning plans to #FloodDC, contact: Larry Everest 917-553-8972
Go to RefuseFascism.org for Initiators, Call to Action, Plan to STOP Trump/Pence, schedule of Protests and Events
@RefuseFascism Facebook: RefuseFascism #NoFascist2017
Prominent scientists, actors, musicians, intellectuals, activists, religious leaders, and over 3,000 others, have called for massive protests and resistance to “Stop the Trump/Pence Regime Before It Starts!” in a full-page signed ad on January 4 in the New York Times.
The declaration, "NO! In the Name of Humanity, We REFUSE To Accept a Fascist America" warns that Trump is "assembling a regime of grave danger" whose fascist character "renders it illegitimate and an immoral peril to the future of humanity and the earth itself."
They state: “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.” To achieve that they call for “protests that don’t stop—where people refuse to leave, occupying public space, and more and more people stand up with conviction and courage.”
Signers to this “Call to Action” from RefuseFascism.org include: Imam Aiyub Abdul-Baki, Justice Committee, Islamic Leadership Council of New York; Ed Asner, actor; Bill Ayers, activist, educator; Charles Burnett, filmmaker; Isabel Cardenas, Salvadoran-American activist; Margaret Cho, comedian, actor; Chuck D, rapper, author; Joe Dante, filmmaker; Carl Dix, Revolutionary Communist Party, USA; Alex Ebert, musician; Niles Eldredge, evolutionary biologist; Eve Ensler, playwright; Merrill Garbus, Founding band member, tUnE-yArDs; Pastor Gregg L. Greer, Freedom First International, SCLC; Lalah Hathaway, singer; Marc Lamont Hill, CNN commentator and professor, Morehouse College; Chase Iron Eyes, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe; 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; 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; Michelle Phillips, musician; Milton Saier, PhD, Professor of Molecular Biology UCSD; Yusef Salaam, one of the Central Park Five; Michael Shannon, actor; Danny Simmons, visual artist; David Strathairn, actor; Alice Walker, author; Cornel West, writer and professor; Saul Williams, poet and performer. (Organizations, institutions listed for ID purposes only)
Revolution #472 January 2, 2017
January 6, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
This country is days away from installing a fascist regime at its helm. In South Carolina the sentencing hearing is underway for Dylann Roof, the young white supremacist who gunned down nine African Americans during their Bible studies at an historic Black church in Charleston. And yet what is the story leading off the national news, going viral on social media, and portrayed as the most despicable and depraved act by the current administration, CNN and every right-wing mouthpiece? An incident in Chicago where four Black youth are alleged to have kidnaped a white man with mental problems and tormented him, including forcing him to yell “fuck Trump” while someone could be heard in the background saying “fuck white people.”
In response, a virulent national lynch mob is demanding that these youth be charged with a hate crime in addition to the aggravated kidnaping, battery with a deadly weapon, and other serious charges they already face. Across social media people like reactionary radio host Glenn Beck claimed this was the result of the Black Lives Matter movement and too “lenient” policing. Beck told his more than one million Twitter followers, “Stand up with me and demand justice in Chicago for the beating of a disabled trump supporter by BLM [Black Lives Matter].” Mike Cernovich, a major architect of Trump supporters’ social media campaigns, claimed victory for getting the Black youths charged with a hate crime.
Think about it. Overnight, four young Black people in Chicago became the personification of evil—not the incoming Trump-Pence fascist regime that is threatening to eviscerate political and legal rights in this country and do monstrous things to seven billion people on this planet, including ratcheting up the possibility of nuclear war.
It is also an ominous indication of what is to come in Trump’s “Make America Great Again”—a part of which translates into “Make America White Again” with the whipping up of white supremacy and lynch mob hysteria against Black people.
The beating and tormenting of the young man was obviously wrong and should not be done to any human being. And, whatever actually happened, this incident has nothing to do with and is, of course, in no way condoned by those who oppose and are trying to stop the Trump-Pence regime from ruling or by the Black Lives Matter movement. Moreover, this was an isolated situation.
This is in contrast to Trump, who actually fomented violence at his rallies and gleefully said he would pay people’s legal bills for beating up peaceful protestors. Trump openly condones, winks at and effectively fans violence and hatred against various sections of the people who are deemed “undesirable”—and that is precisely part of what makes him a fascist.
Early in the presidential campaign, two white men in Boston beat a homeless man of Mexican heritage with a metal pole and urinated on him, saying, “Donald Trump was right. All these illegals need to be deported.” Trump’s first response? “The people who follow me are very passionate. They love this country. They want this country to be great again.”
Since Trump’s election, across the country there are reports of Latino students being threatened and tormented by other students chanting, “build the wall” and “go back to Mexico.” Sexual assaults on young girls have risen in the wake of Trump’s bragging about it. Mosques in California and Georgia have received letters threatening that Donald Trump is “going to do to you Muslims what Hitler did to the Jews.” A professor at Orange Coast College was forced into hiding because of death threats she received after a lecture that criticized Trump’s election.
Where is the national outcry and wall-to-wall coverage of all these hate crimes and bullying on the part of Trump and his supporters?
Unless there is massive political struggle by millions of people that prevents this, Trump will be commander-in-chief, with Christian fascist Pence at his side, in a few weeks. NO! NO! NO!
Revolution #472 January 2, 2017
January 7, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
The website of the international art magazine Artforum recently reported that “An extensive group of artists and critics have called on colleagues in cultural industries to go on strike on January 20 in protest against the inauguration of President-Elect Donald Trump.”
Influential artists who have signed on to the call so far include Allora and Calzadilla, Paul Chan, Hans Haacke, Barbara Kruger, Richard Serra, and Cindy Sherman. Artforum notes that “Dread Scott, whose work formed the cover of Artforum’s November issue, has signed on as well.” Art critics who have joined the Art Strike call include Hilton Als, Yve-Alain Bois, Benjamin Buchloh, Hal Foster, Lucy Lippard, and Barry Schwabsky.
The call reads:
#J20 Art Strike
An Act of Noncompliance on Inauguration Day.
No Work, No School, No Business.
Museums. Galleries. Theaters. Concert Halls. Studios. Nonprofits. Art Schools.
Close For The Day.
Hit The Streets. Bring Your Friends. Fight Back.
This call concerns more than the art field. It is made in solidarity with the nation-wide demand that on January 20 and beyond, business should not proceed as usual in any realm. We consider Art Strike to be one tactic among others to combat the normalization of Trumpism—a toxic mix of white supremacy, misogyny, xenophobia, militarism, and oligarchic rule. Like any tactic, it is not an end in itself, but rather an intervention that will ramify into the future. It is not a strike against art, theater, or any other cultural form. It is an invitation to motivate these activities anew, to reimagine these spaces as places where resistant forms of thinking, seeing, feeling, and acting can be produced.
We address ourselves to the people who make our cultural institutions run on a daily basis, including many of our own friends and colleagues. Those who work at the institutions are divided in multiple and unequal ways, and any action taken must prioritize the voices, needs and concerns of those with the most to lose. However you choose to respond to this call, Art Strike is an occasion for public accountability, an opportunity to affirm and enact the values that our cultural institutions claim to embody.
The disruptions of J20 are just the beginning. They will resonate with the Women’s March on Washington, D.C. and other cities on January 21, and will stand as beacons of ungovernability as the darkness of the Trump era descends upon us. Let us assemble for the protracted battles that have long been underway, and those on the horizon.
Revolution #472 January 2, 2017
NY Refuse Fascism Organizing Meeting January 4
January 7, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Just as the Refuse Fascism organizing meeting in New York City was about to start, a crew of people came in carrying a huge replica of the ad that had appeared that day in the New York Times: “NO! IN THE NAME OF HUMANITY WE REFUSE TO ACCEPT A FASCIST AMERICA!” They had been getting the word out all day, calling on people to join the fight to “Prevent the Trump/Pence Regime from Taking Power!” It was announced at the meeting that off of the New York Times ad, Fox News had asked Cornel West to be on the O’Reilly Factor show, and that Cornel has requested that Carl Dix come on with him. (See the clip of Cornel and Carl on the O’Reilly Factor here.)
The room was full with about 75 people, including many new people—from many different walks of life and perspectives; quite a few veterans of the ’60s and a lot of young people. Everyone looking for a way to really STOP Trump-Pence from coming to power.
The meeting started with brief overall comments from the leaders of the meeting: The point was made that there are tens of millions of people who already have a real sense of the horror of what the Trump-Pence regime will mean if it comes to power and are in deep anguish over it. Many see that this represents a threat to the people of the world and the planet itself. We can look at Nazi Germany and how that trajectory went—how it came to power through elections on the basis of toxic nationalism, and it didn’t happen all at once. And how way too many people went along with the next horrible thing and then the next—collaborating and accommodating all the way to murder on a mass scale. With Trump, there’s a chill that’s set in with too many people saying “we’ll work with this fascist regime, we’ll find common ground.” But at the same time there are tens of millions who are saying “no fucking way.” And this movement has been called together to stop the fascist regime before it starts—not relying on politicians and looking to powerful people to intervene, but calling people into the streets and building resistance that says “We refuse, we will do everything we can to stop this and there is experience in history that we can look to where mass actions have changed the political terrain.”
The focus of the evening was to make concrete plans. Key points were laid out: an advance team going to DC right away; the MLK weekend to start getting people into the streets of DC and calling on more to come, and actions happening all over the country; getting the NO! message all over; and a whole week of actions with more pouring into DC and STAYING until we stop Trump-Pence before they start.
The bulk of the meeting was breakout groups making CONCRETE PLANS, and there was a lot of lively participation in these teams with all kinds of creative ideas. Here are some of the things that came out from the report back:
A Street Team group focused on making plans to get out to different events in the city, everywhere people are protesting, cultural events, rallies, panel discussion—getting the NO! out and on the spot organizing people to join this campaign. The team will also be getting the NO! out in key areas of the city; mobilizing people like shop owners on major streets and in different neighborhoods in the different boroughs to put up NO! signs everywhere. Teams will also be going out all the time in places like Union Square where thousands of people can be reached and called on to become organizers of even more organizers.
The group that met to organize different Actions was very lively, with lots of people kicking in all kinds of ideas. People especially liked the idea of doing different kinds of street theater to really find ways to STOP people in the street with actions that could not be ignored and where people would feel compelled by the power of the NO! message. One idea was to use gigantic puppets. There was an idea to have a “lie-in,” which in creative ways would expose all the lies Trump has told. Another idea was an interactive “game” in the street where people gathered are challenged to figure out where a quote came from: Is it from Nazi Germany or from Trump USA? One woman in the group is reaching out to her contacts in the graffiti community about doing graffiti to get this message out, as well as reaching out to other artists and getting store owners to let artists do things on the pull-down grates.
The Students group talked about how to reach millions of students—working to tap into different networks that already exist here in New York City and around the country to get the word out about the NO! campaign, and calling on students, teachers and professors to organize large groups to go to DC. There is a big push to have high school walkouts around MLK day on January 12-13. The team also talked about organizing teams to go out to places where youth and students hang out—again, organizing people to organize still more organizers—and also getting performers at cultural events to promote the NO!
The Organization Outreach group discussed plans for reaching out to faith-based institutions as well as other associations. In their report-back they emphasized that this kind of outreach should not be something that just this committee does. Everyone who has contacts in churches, mosques, synagogues, unions, professional associations, etc. should be calling on them to go up to the RefuseFascism.org website, sign up, donate, and organize their membership to go to DC and to make plans to STAY. The group included some members of the Bengali community who contributed good ideas, and there are plans to get the Call translated into Bengali and Arabic and also to get on Bengali TV to get the NO! message out to this community. Someone from the Refuse Fascism National Office made the point that there have been more than 3,000 people who have already signed the Call, and that many have given their phone numbers. So there is a need for volunteers to come in the office and help call those people to get them to donate, become organizers and go to DC.
The Social Media group had a lot of lively and very concrete discussion about how to organize in order to reach many millions of people in a very urgent and on-the-spot, timely way. There was discussion about how to combine both centralized organization of doing social media promotion, where there is thinking and guidance overall, with all kinds of decentralized unleashing of people to reach people via social media in many different spheres. Some people in the group have already developed “campaign tools” to coordinate all of this so people can see very quickly what kinds of stories/news/tweets, etc are coming up and where there is a need to spread the NO! in many different ways—giving people ways to immediately kick into this whole effort to reach millions. The point was made that this all has to be aimed at not just getting the word out, but getting people to join the resistance. Also the point was also made that the message has to go out over social media giving a real vision of what has to happen in DC. One example given was how during Occupy there was a #bringatent hashtag. There is some thinking about developing something like that to orient and prepare people for coming to DC and STAYING until the Trump-Pence fascists are stopped from ruling.
Revolution #472 January 2, 2017
January 7, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Protesters call for impeached President Park Geun-hye to step down during a candle light vigil in Seoul, South Korea, January 7. (AP photo)
On January 7, over half a million protesters took to the streets of Seoul, South Korea, to demand the impeachment and immediate removal of President Park Geun-hye. Other protests took place in cities all over the country. These protests marked the 11th week in a row that people have taken to the streets in Seoul to demand an end to Park’s presidency.
South Korea is a country of 50 million people. For almost three months now, there have been protests every week, some with as many as two million people. Cumulatively, over 10 million people have taken to the streets to demand Park step down.
Park Geun-hye, elected South Korea’s first woman president in 2012, was already very unpopular. But in October public sentiment against her went to a whole new level. A scandal broke out involving her friend, informal adviser, and spiritual guru, Choi Soon-sil. Park is accused of giving Choi access to secret government documents and Choi is said to have used her relationship with Park to force companies to donate millions of dollars to foundations she runs. At the start of November Choi was arrested and charged with abuse of power, extortion, and attempted fraud—charges that could give her up to 15 years in prison.
But the arrest of Choi did not quell the protests, which got even bigger and more determined. As long as Park is in office, she has immunity from criminal charges, but protesters say she must step down AND be jailed.
Reportedly lawmakers were hesitant to take measures to oust Park but in the face of all this, the ruling class looked for a way out of the crisis. On December 9 the National Assembly voted overwhelmingly (234-56)—including Park supporters and her opposition—for impeachment and a court was given six months to rule on the vote.
The next day, half a million people demonstrated—celebrating the vote but also demanding that the court rule immediately to impeach and that Park face criminal charges. Protests continued every week: On Christmas Eve. 500,000 marched toward the presidential Blue House, where Park lives, chanting, “Arrest Park Immediately.” Some were dressed up like Santa and sang Christmas songs with lyrics changed to mock Park. Huge demonstrations were also held on New Year’s Eve.
Before this crisis, there was already a lot of hatred and mistrust among the people for Park and the legacy of her whole family. Her father, Park Chung-hee, seized power in a military coup in 1961 and ruled as a brutal president and military general until he was assassinated in 1979. In 1972, he declared martial law, ushering in a period of open dictatorial rule with intense police surveillance and a National Security Act that gave the government freedom to imprison anyone it considered “anti-government.” The Korean Central Intelligence Agency (KCIA), formed under the guidance of the U.S. CIA, was Park’s apparatus for domestic security. Park Chung-hee oversaw the massive growth of chaebols (global multinational companies) and the further integration of South Korea into global imperialism—while social and economic inequalities, the denial of workers’ rights, and human rights abuses all rapidly grew.
Now people look at this scandal, involving corruption with companies like Samsung and Hyundai. They look at how Park has suppressed journalists. They see how she has instituted repressive measures like declaring demonstrations illegal. They look at the allegations that Park blacklisted some artists for their political beliefs. And many see Park as continuing in her father’s footsteps. And the protests have come to encompass broader concerns about the country’s political system, the power of the presidency, the power of big corporations, and government suppression of the press.
Another big demand that has emerged from the protests has to do with Park’s failure to protect people in the tragic ferry disaster in 2014 in which 300 people died, mainly high school students. For many people, this concentrated the illegitimacy of her rule. Kim Joonhyung, a professor at Handong Global University, says that people’s feelings about the illegitimacy of Park’s presidency and the government itself can be traced back to this ferry disaster: “There was a feeling that if the state doesn’t care about people’s lives, we don’t want to pass this government on to our children.... At the same time, the Korean people feel more empowered they can change their situation. It is a big turning point.”
Park is fighting back. Oral arguments in her impeachment trial began on January 5, but she did not show up and her lawyers say she will not testify. Her lawyers tried to say the protests of millions of people are illegitimate, saying Park is the victim of “mob rule.” They said the protests “are not the will of the people, yet the National Assembly inserted them into its grounds for impeachment.” Park maintains she is innocent, her lawyers say she only made “trivial” mistakes.
In the eyes of millions, Park has lost her legitimacy to rule. And the whole ruling class in South Korea faces great necessity, to try to deal with this whole situation to prevent a legitimacy crisis that goes beyond Park. Millions of people in South Korea are acting on something that others in history have proven to be true: That just because a president is elected, it doesn’t mean the people can’t force them out of power.
Revolution #472 January 2, 2017
January 7, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
From a reader:
On January 4, the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics held a program featuring Trump’s chosen press secretary, Sean Spicer. Reuters news service published a story with video clip headlined, “Incoming Trump press secretary heckled in Chicago.” The story quoted the protester with Chicago RefuseFascism.org yelling, as Spicer approached the podium, “You are a press secretary for Trump who threatens the press, denies facts, suppresses science and threatens people who expose his lies.” This action punctured a carefully orchestrated “normality” being built around the Trump regime including here at University of Chicago, one of the most prestigious centers of the academy in the U.S. The Reuters video was picked up by various news sites.
Controversy began on the University of Chicago campus in the weeks leading up to the Spicer event. The Institute of Politics, led by former Obama Press Secretary David Axelrod, welcomed Spicer’s appointment and invited him to speak as part of a series of events called “America in the Trump Era.” The Chicago Maroon, the campus paper, reported that the Spicer invitation provoked opposition among some students (“Incoming Trump Press Secretary Visit to IOP Sparks Controversy,” December 24). The Maroon quoted Jake Bittle, a fourth-year student and editor of the South Side Weekly, saying, “I don’t think that we need to treat this person like a normal press secretary coming in to talk about life on the job, and I think it is insidious that Axelrod called him a friend and is tacitly normalizing the administration by having him in for a discussion. It turns out that the IOP intends to treat this administration like a normal one and I don’t think students should treat this as business as usual... You would think they would know better than to give implicit sponsorship to a man who intends to change the way that freedom of the press operates in this country.”
Bittle and another University of Chicago student were summoned to the dean’s office, related to what were clearly sarcastic comments made regarding Spicer’s visit—in Bittle’s case, on his personal Facebook page. Bittle was then interviewed in a hostile way on January 2 by Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, which kicked off Twitter threats against Bittle. This is an actual example of what the protester called out at the January 4 Spicer event—how the Trump fascists threaten individuals who stand up to them (whether it’s Trump directly or through his Twitter minions, as happened to Bittle).