Revolution #476, January 30, 2017 (revcom.us)

Voice of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

Please note: this page is intended for quick printing of the entire issue. Some of the links may not work when clicked, and some images may be missing. Please go to the article's permalink if you require working links and images.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/476/the-alternative-facts-of-donald-trump-vs-the-truth-en.html

Revolution #476 January 30, 2017

The "Alternative Facts" of Donald Trump vs. the Truth

January 30, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

This week, Donald Trump went after the truth. He lied about Mexico and Mexicans. He lied about refugees. He lied about Black people. He lied about things extremely crucial and things unbelievably petty.

But this blizzard of lies had a purpose. This whole method of relentlessly piling on lie after lie is calculated to both raise or reinforce doubts among many as to whether reality is even knowable, and at the same time to inculcate in his core followers the conviction that the phony, upside-down version of the world that Trump creates (and that confirms their ugliest, most backward sentiments and resentments) is actually real and worth fighting and dying for. Many of Trump’s core followers have been trained by years of FOX News. Others not only drink at the poisoned well of FOX but are members of fanatical right-wing Christian fascist congregations and/or watch the Christian Broadcasting Network (which was among the first two new organizations recognized at the first White House press conference) where outlandish and bizarre beliefs, e.g., that “demons” control major American cities, that “god” called down Hurricane Katrina or 9/11 to punish America for gay rights, etc.—are solemnly put forward and believed.

The very pace at which Trump churns out these lies means that before people have even refuted the first one, he’s asserted three more and as president, it’s his assertions and not the refutations that get heard and that stick.

BAsics 4:10 by Bob Avakian
Click to enlarge and share

But—there IS such a thing as objective reality; there is a “real world out there” that can be measured, probed, tested, analyzed, and understood. There are ideas about the world and why it is the way it is that can be tested, and which can be determined to be true. There is a process of observation, study, testing of ideas, summing up evidence and discovering the patterns within that and why they happen that contributes to real knowledge. There is a way to find out what is true and what is false—the scientific method. Without such a method to get at and find out the truth—there is no way forward; with such a method, and the truths it reveals about reality and the possible pathways through which it might be changed, humanity’s horizons open up. On that basis, to paraphrase the old slogan, a better world really IS possible.

There are many crucial and critical battles to wage against the monstrous fascist Trump-Pence regime, and the battle for the truth runs through them all. As part of waging this battle... as part of understanding reality... we are both taking on and shredding three of Trump's biggest and most dangerous lies... and calling your attention to works by BA, both longer pieces and shorter quotes, on the struggle for and method of getting at the truth and why it matters, as well as SCIENCE AND REVOLUTION, an interview with Ardea Skybreak, a critical work on BA’s new synthesis of communism which gets very deeply into the scientific method for knowing and changing... the world.

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/476/trumps-alternative-facts-on-mexico-lies-vs-the-truth-en.html

Revolution #476 January 30, 2017

Trump's "Alternative Facts" on Mexico (LIES) vs. the TRUTH

The U.S. Has Ripped Off and Bitterly Oppressed Mexico for Nearly 200 Years and Has No Right Whatsoever to Dictate to It

January 30, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

On Friday, January 27, a scheduled meeting between Donald Trump and Mexico’s president Enrique Peña Nieto collapsed. That same day, Trump tweeted: “Mexico has taken advantage of the U.S. for long enough. Massive trade deficits & little help on the very weak border must change, NOW!”

It would be difficult to pack more lies into 140 characters.

“Weak border”?!?

In 1846 the U.S. invaded Mexico and stole—yes, stole—about 55 percent of its territory. The U.S. Southwest from Texas to California and north to states like Nevada and Colorado was once part of Mexico.

The border between the two countries is one of the most heavily militarized zones in the world. The air is prowled by drones and surveillance aircraft; patrol boats scour the waters of the Pacific and Gulf of Mexico; the land crawls with tens of thousands of heavily armed “law enforcement” agents of every conceivable variety, hundreds of vigilantes, and contains several large military bases; the border itself is scarred with barbed wire, razor wire, and yes, walls.

All of it on one side—the U.S. side. All of it aimed at preventing impoverished immigrants seeking work from reaching the U.S. And those who do manage to get inside the U.S. encounter a landscape dotted with concentration camps called “detention centers,” where even children are subjected to what can only be called torture.

“Massive trade deficits”?!?

A cornerstone of U.S. wealth and global power has been ruthless domination of Mexico. For over a century some of the most profitable and powerful pillars of the U.S. economy—the great agricultural regions of California, the rich mines of the West and Southwest—developed on the backs of Mexicans and their descendants. For several decades now, bitter exploitation of Mexican and Central American immigrants in every corner of this country has been pivotal to the profitable development of U.S. capitalism. Immigrants work in key industries in every state of the country—in low-wage factory and field jobs, or driving a taxi or sweeping floors. All face rampant racist discrimination and insult in every sphere of their lives, and those who are undocumented live in fear every day that they will be fired because of their legal status, or rounded up by the immigration police.

“Mexico has taken advantage of the U.S.”?!?

What Is Capitalism?

by Bob Avakian


3-part excerpt from Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About.

U.S. capitalism-imperialism has sucked almost limitless wealth out of Mexico—its rich and varied agriculture; its oil production; the maquiladoras that line the border and subject young women to extreme, relentless exploitation and abuse. Most of all, it has forced millions of people to leave behind their families, their friends, their communities... and try to make a desperate journey across difficult terrain, past soldiers, border agents, and racists so they can hopefully find work at some shit job in the U.S. Imperialism is literally sucking the calcium out of the bones of farmworkers. If you think that’s exaggeration—learn something about the farmworkers of Guanajuato.

Now Trump is moving to greatly expand the number of people who will be deported, by declaring that virtually anyone picked up for any “offense” is a “criminal.” He says he will punish cities where police don’t go along with a federal mandate that they inquire about and turn over all immigration information they have to immigration authorities, so people can be put in detention and deported. Trump’s spokesman said, “We’re going to create more detention space for illegal immigrants along the southern border to make it easier and cheaper to detain them and return them to their country of origin.”

Renegotiating Exploitation

In 1994 the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico went into effect. This week Trump tweeted, “I will renegotiate NAFTA. If I can’t make a great deal, we’re going to tear it up.” Trump threatens that this will make “Mexico ... treat the United States fairly with respect.”

Another of Trump’s big lies is that NAFTA has victimized the U.S. and enriched Mexico. But who’s fucking over who here? As Laura Carlsen of the Center for International Policy wrote, “NAFTA has cut a path of destruction through Mexico.” Wages have plummeted, prices and unemployment have risen. One illustration of that—over two million Mexican farmers and their families have been driven from their land because massive imports of heavily subsidized U.S. grain have undercut their ability to make a living.

       

U.S. capital has poured into Mexico, taking advantage of Mexico’s “cheap labor” (i.e., deeply exploited people) to cut their overall costs of production, while disrupting the development of Mexico’s overall economy. NAFTA has opened Mexico up to even more thorough and devastating imperialist plunder. It has helped impoverish millions of Mexican people and enrich U.S. imperialism.

But this is not enough for a fascist section of the U.S. ruling class coalesced around Trump, who are out to impose even more ruthless exploitation of immigrants in this country and unrestrained domination of Mexico. Trump is out to bring Mexico to its knees. Think about it. Who the hell is Trump or the U.S. to impose its will on the people of the world, and then demand “You better be nice to us”? The U.S. has no right to do this!

Trump demands to renegotiate NAFTA so that it is even more beneficial to the U.S. and squeezes even more out of Mexico’s people. This threat would greatly worsen the conditions of the Mexican people—more unemployment, more children living in poverty, a society already being torn apart by the murders and violence of drug cartels going to new levels of mayhem.

There Is No Immigration Problem; There Is a Capitalism Problem

Bob Avakian wrote:

There is nothing sacred to us about the USA, as it is presently constituted, or about the borders of the U.S. as they are presently constituted. Quite the opposite.
BAsics 3:20

America was never great--border
Click to enlarge and share

The U.S.-Mexico border was created through brutal conquest, and has served domination and exploitation since.

In the hall of mirrors that is Trumpworld, Mexico pushes around spineless America, and the border is a sieve letting in criminals who wreak havoc upon this country. In the real world, the border is a hyper militarized war zone that crushes the lives of countless people hoping for a chance to work. Mexico and its resources have been bled white by a century of U.S. imperialist domination, and millions of its people are suffering—living on the brink of starvation in a land rich in agricultural potential; scuffling for small change in a country that ships so much of its wealth to the U.S.

In this country, ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) is being beefed up for whole new levels of round-ups of immigrants. People are being forced into the shadows, living with the constant fear that their child, or parent, or loved one, will suddenly disappear. The federal program that lured tens of thousands of young people to turn their personal information in to federal authorities, thinking they would avoid deportation, instead put them on lists that can be handed over to immigration police, and be swept up at any time. If this sounds like what happened in Nazi Germany, that’s because it is. And it’s what these fascists are developing the ability to do here—if they are able to succeed.

What Trump is trying to unleash against Mexican and Central American immigrants, and against the country of Mexico, is not “a pendulum swing to the right.” It is an utterly illegitimate, fascist escalation of repression.

This must not be allowed to happen. It must be vigorously opposed and defeated as part of going up against the entire fascist program of Trump-Pence.

But more than that, we have to repeat the question Bob Avakian has repeatedly raised: why do we even have borders, and the divisions between people they enforce and concentrate? Why can’t we get beyond that into a freely living community of human beings everywhere on this planet? We can—by making REVOLUTION—and a big part of that revolution will be forging the links between the masses of people in Mexico, and their struggle against both imperialist domination and “their own” exploiters and oppressors, and the masses of people in the U.S., in a struggle to get rid of this imperialist system, once and for all.

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/476/trumps-alternative-facts-about-black-people-vs-the-truth-en.html

Revolution #476 January 30, 2017

Trump's "Alternative Facts" (LIES) About Black People vs. the Truth

No, Trump, You Racist Pig, You Will NOT Get Away With Your LIES About Black People... or Your Genocidal Police-State Plans

January 30, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Last week Trump threatened to send “the Feds” into Chicago to stop what he called “the carnage” of young people killing each other. He started this theme in his inaugural speech when he said a few words about the lack of jobs and the failing schools, and then gave his punch line: “And the crime and gangs and the drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential. This American carnage stops right here and right now.”

Trump blames the entire situation in which this system gives Black and Latino youth in the inner cities no shot at a future on them. These youth, according to Trump, are the culprits stealing the lives of people. The police, according to Trump, must not be criticized but must be strengthened and allowed to further run amok in the communities of the oppressed. The prisons, according to Trump and his designated attorney general, must be filled with even more oppressed youth. And sending “the Feds” according to Trump—presumably some combination of the FBI and National Guard, with a declaration of martial law suspending all rights, is the solution.

This entire program of Trump is an upside down inversion of reality. Trump takes one highly distorted aspect of the truth, and he fashions out of it a BIG LIE—one with horrible consequences.

So let’s tell the truth.

This SYSTEM Has Created Carnage on Top of Carnage... and That Is the Truth

Let’s tell some basic truths here. Study after study, book after book, has sifted through mountains of evidence and, using rigorous and basically scientific methods, has shown that the system consciously decided to confine Black and Brown youth to lives of no future, and to criminalize them. Study after study, book after book, again, with extensive documentation and rigorous methods, have shown definitively how the federal government (with the help of racist realtors like Trump) created and reinforced the ghettos of the cities, how the police were allowed to impose terror against the people with absolute impunity, how the federal government in the 1960s—yes, under the Democrats—created the so-called “war on crime” as a way to control and beat down these youth. Study after study, book after book, have shown how the gangs were allowed to flourish by the police even while they were being controlled and messed with, and how the recent increase in violence among the people in Chicago has everything to do with measures taken by the police to disrupt these gangs, and to destroy public housing and then disperse Black people into different neighborhoods. And study after study, book after book, have shown how capitalists have systematically moved factories out of the cities into the suburbs, systematically discriminated in hiring, systematically created unequal schools, and all the rest.

Let’s drill down even further. As Bob Avakian has said, “There would be no United States as we now know it today without slavery. That is a simple and basic truth.” (BAsics 1:1) Again, there has been a mountain of scholarly work and research into the real existing world using source documents and standing up to rigorous criticism, showing the truth of the matter: the centrality of slavery to the great power and wealth of the U.S., and to its dominant position in the world. There has been a tremendous amount of scholarly work showing the terror unleashed against Black people after the Civil War, the murder of literally thousands and the imprisonment of hundreds of thousands, in an attempt to crush their resistance and their striving for a better life. (See the 2005 report from Equal Justice Initiative, “Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror.”) A tremendous amount of scholarly work showing, again, the terror unleashed against Black people after World War 1, where it’s estimated over a thousand people died from white pogroms (racial or ethnic massacres) against Black people.

Further, a tremendous amount of work, in this case using documents “liberated” from the FBI itself, which were later verified by a Congressional committee, has also been done to show how the federal government spied on, fomented splits, set up and carried out murders of Black leaders and revolutionary, and even non-revolutionary organizations, in the 1960s, as part of preparing for the long counter-revolutionary years beginning in the 1970s, when the prisons expanded by tenfold and the conditions of the masses sharply worsened, while a small sliver among the oppressed were allowed some opportunities, even as they were subject to the relentless and all-sided oppression that went with, and still goes with, being Black, Latino, or Native American in this society.

The Threat to Go With the Lies

Trump will mean hell for Black people
Tweet this

Trump, this racist who has a whole history of discriminating against, lying about, and going after Black people—going back to his demands that the Central Park 5 be executed and his continuing insistence down to today that they be re-imprisoned, even after they served heavy years for a crime for which they have been legally exonerated, and extending to his insistence that Obama was not born in the U.S.—now says that he is going to “save the day” with some kind of federal force that will... do what? He doesn’t say, but his meaning is clear: sending in pigs of one kind or another to murder, rampage, imprison, spy, and suppress. This ugly clown, who would be pitiful if he were not so utterly vicious and extremely dangerous, has put Black people directly in his sights, and he is preparing the ground with the BIG LIE.

Carnage, Herr Trumpf? Your system has created carnage untold, crimes unequalled in the history of humanity.

The revcoms will tell the truth and take it to the masses. We will stand with and work with all those who want to oppose this Nazi pig and his plans to make the situation a thousand times worse in Chicago. We will challenge—and have been challenging—those youth to whom this system has given no chance, and whom Trump now wants to round up, brutalize, and worse, to be part of fighting the fight that needs to be fought—against this system. And we will build all this as one part of the revolution that needs to happen to get rid of this system, and bring in a society where this oppression and inequality can actually be eliminated and a whole better world brought into being.


These are some of the many published materials that are relevant to what is discussed in this article:

Anatomy of a Lynching: The Killing of Claude Neal, James R. McGovern, LSU Press (October 2013)

The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover’s Secret FBI, Betty L. Medsger, Vintage (October 2014)

Code of Silence” (a series of articles exposing systematic brutality and corruption in the Chicago police department), The Intercept, Jamie Kalven (October 2016)

COINTELPRO: The FBI’s Secret War on Political Freedom, Nelson Blackstock, Anchor Foundation (September 1988)

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, Matthew Desmond, Crown (March 2016)

From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime: The Making of Mass Incarceration in America, Elizabeth Hinton, Harvard University Press (May 2016)

Gang Leader for a Day, A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets, Sudhir Venkatesh Penguin Books (December 2008)

Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present, Harriet A. Washington, Anchor (January 2008)

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, Michelle Alexander, The New Press (January 2012)

On the Run: Fugitive Life in an American City, Alice Goffman, Picador (April 2015)

The Origins of the Urban Crisis, Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit, Thomas J. Sugrue, Princeton University Press (1996)

Savage Inequalities: Children in America’s Schools, Jonathan Kozol, Broadway Books (July 2012)

Turbo Capitalism: Winners and Losers in the Global Economy, Edward Luttwak, Harper Perennial (February 2000)

When Affirmative Action Was White, An Untold History of Racial Inequality in Twentieth-Century America, Ira Katznelson, W. W. Norton & Company (August 2006)

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/476/trumps-alternative-facts-on-refugees-vs-the-truth-en.html

Revolution #476 January 30, 2017

Trump’s “Alternative Facts” on Refugees vs. the Truth

The U.S. and Other Imperialist Powers Created 60 Million Refugees and Must Not Be Allowed to Demonize, Discriminate Against and Deport Them

January 30, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

On Friday, January 27, President Trump issued an executive order blocking all refugees from around the world from entering the U.S. for 120 days, and banning those from Syria indefinitely. He also suspended any immigration from Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, Libya, Syria, and Sudan—all Muslim majority countries—for 90 days. (See "Trump's Executive Order Attacking Refugees: 'Extreme Vetting'=Extreme Cruelty and Racism, with a Genocidal Logic")

Trump's Fascist "Alternative Facts" vs. Refugee Crisis Realities

Trump's order claimed these steps were necessary "to ensure that those approved for refugee admission do not pose a threat to the security and welfare of the United States." Trump warned that many could be "radical Islamic terrorists" who pose a danger to people in the U.S. He told ABC those being barred from coming into the U.S. were people who "are going to come in and cause us tremendous problems." He declared: “You’re looking at people that come in, in many cases, in some cases with evil intentions. I don’t want that. They’re ISIS. They’re coming under false pretense. I don’t want that.”

These Trumpian "alternative facts" are naked lies. Refugees are not endangering people in the U.S. It's the U.S. which is endangering tens of millions of people around the world, and is more responsible for the largest global refugee crisis in history than any other country on earth. And now Trump's fascist regime is targeting and vilifying the victims in order to justify radically escalating this global humanitarian atrocity and outrage.

Over the past decade, a tsunami has been building, a tsunami of human beings now numbering some 42,500 every single day on average—forced to flee for their lives from war, terror, persecution, and increasingly environmental devastation, desperately seeking safety and shelter anywhere they can find it. This deluge of displacement has reached a total of over 60 million people. Half of them are children!

What do the overwhelming majority of these refugees—the 12 million Syrians, nearly four million Afghans, some five million Iraqis, and 15 million from Sub-Saharan Africa—have in common? They're escaping regions where imperialism has made life hell, through decade after decade of exploitation and plunder, of backing torture regimes, and now more than 15 years of the so-called "war on terror"—in reality a war of imperialism. This war has taken the lives of millions directly or indirectly. It has fanned the flames of reactionary Islamic jihadist terror, which has created its own nightmares for the people. One major driver of the tidal wave of global refugees: the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, an illegitimate, criminal war based on lies. It led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, drove over 4 million from their homes, and turned Iraq into the birthplace of ISIS.

Refugee at Greek island of Lesbos screams for helpRefugees arrive by dinghy at the Greek island of Lesbos, 2015. AP photo


Droughts caused by global warming and climate change are also increasingly fueling global migration and refugees. The climate crisis is caused overwhelmingly by the United States and other imperialist powers, but its impacts are being felt most immediately and devastatingly in impoverished and oppressed countries, including North Africa and the Middle East. It is estimated that [between] "50 million and 200 million people — mainly subsistence farmers and fishermen — could be displaced by 2050 because of climate change." (New York Times, 5/16/16)

These millions are desperately fleeing horrors that all too many Americans can't (or refuse to) even imagine, for their lives and the lives of their loved ones. They're carrying tiny children and whatever belongings they can carry, crossing parched deserts, dangerous borders, deadly combat zones, risking their lives in flimsy rubber rafts on the high seas, all to find shelter and sustenance – not commit acts of terrorism.

Refugees a danger? New York Times columnist Roger Cohen points out, "A Cato Institute study of refugees admitted to the United States between 1975 and 2015 found that the chance of an American being killed in a terrorist attack committed by a refugee is 1 in 3.64 billion"—in other words far, far, far less than the danger of being killed in an auto-accident or in a mass shooting by some deranged American—or murdered by some mad-dog cop.

These refugees are being demonized and dehumanized by the Trump fascists who are truly the sewer-dwelling scum of the earth. News outlets like Breitbart and InfoWars are spreading "fake news" that immigrants from the Middle East are spreading diseases, raping women, and threatening them with genital mutilation. All this has real parallels with how the Holocaust started—not immediately with concentration camps, but with lies—with the vilification and dehumanization of the Jewish people as vermin, as disease carriers, as anti-German radicals and communists, and more.

Trump-Pence: Making America's Racist, Inhumane Refugee Stance Far, Far Worse

The Trump-Pence fascists claim that U.S. borders have been wide open to anyone and everyone—including "Islamic terrorists." Another "alternative fact"/lie. The reality is that U.S. borders have never been wide open, including under Obama, but closed very tightly to the vast majority of humanity fleeing the wars, persecutions, and environmental horrors the U.S. has done the lion's share in creating.

Of 5 million Syrian refugees, the U.S. took a mere 10,000 last year. Of the world's 60 million refugees, most end up in relatively poor countries like Turkey, Iran and Pakistan. According to the New York Times, "One in four refugees now finds shelter in the world's poorest countries, with Ethiopia and Kenya taking many more refugees than, say, Britain and France." Think about this: the world's capitalist powers have become wealthy by dominating and plundering the world's poorest countries. Then when that poverty, war and oppression becomes impossible to survive and people flee for safe haven, those imperialist countries slam the door shut and force other impoverished countries to deal with the crisis.

Saturday night at airports across the U.S. we began to get a glimpse of the leaps in the targeting of whole populations being put in place by Trump-Pence. Suddenly with no warning, people with families in the Middle East were threatened with being divided forever, never being able to visit their relatives, or have their relatives visit the U.S. Students away on break couldn't get back into the U.S. Even those who are green card holders—legal residents of the U.S.—were detained at least temporarily (some 375) if they were traveling from countries targeted by Trump. In other words, anyone from whole swaths of the Middle East who's a Muslim is being targeted as a suspected terrorist—a cloud is cast over the whole population of nine million Muslims living in the U.S. (Many anti-Muslim hate crimes have already been reported across the U.S., the latest, a mosque in Victoria, Texas which had been the target of threats in the past, was burned to the ground on Saturday night.)

The Muslim Ban, the Fascist Remaking of America, and the Danger of War

All this is part of a broader, more deadly and sinister fascist remaking of the U.S. that Trump-Pence are trying to steamroller through. To take one dimension, Trump's order discriminated against Muslims entering the U.S. and favored Christians. In other words, it imposed what's called a "religious test" for entering the U.S. "The document does not explicitly mention any religion," the New York Times stated in an editorial, "yet it sets a blatantly unconstitutional standard by excluding Muslims while giving government officials the discretion to admit people of other faiths"—in other words Christians.

(Trump told the Christian Broadcasting Network that under past presidents, "If you were a Muslim you could come in [to the U.S.], but if you were a Christian, it was almost impossible." Yet another lie: "In fact, the United States accepts tens of thousands of Christian refugees," the New York Times reports, "According to the Pew Research Center, almost as many Christian refugees (37,521) were admitted as Muslim refugees (38,901) in the 2016 fiscal year.")

As revcom.us analyzes, the "religious test" inserted in his executive order is part of a broader fascist program: "Trump and the Christian theocrats in his cabinet of ghouls are out to forcefully impose an explicitly Christian identity on this country, and embed that in U.S. policy." (See "Lives in the Balance...Which Will Win? Trump's First Days: The Heavy Hand of Fascism and the Spark of Resistance")

Trump is painting these refugees as suspected terrorists—until they can prove otherwise—and broadly painting the 200 plus million people living in the countries his executive order targeted, as well as the world's 1.6 billion Muslims as terrorists as well, part of a "radical religion," which his National Security Advisor Michael Flynn calls "a cancer." And Flynn has made a point of targeting the Islamic Republic of Iran—one of the countries named in Trump's executive order.

Ominously, as Trump directs his generals to prepare new military options in the Middle East, his executive order must also be seen as part of preparing the ground for escalating the U.S. slaughter – even genocide – of peoples in the Middle East and beyond in the name of "eradicating radical Islamic terrorism from the face of the earth."

All this is further fueling and exacerbating the reactionary clash between outmoded imperialism and outmoded Islamic fundamentalism which has caused so much destitution, suffering and death across the region, especially since the U.S. launched its "war on terror" in 2001. In fact, if the aim was to intensify this contradiction, Trump couldn't have done better than his latest actions.

No Airport Business-As-Usual, and Driving Out Trump-Pence

On Saturday, beginning at New York's JFK airport, then quickly mushrooming nationwide to airports in Houston, San Francisco, Dallas, Salt Lake City, Denver, Chicago, Washington, DC, Portland, Newark, Seattle-Tacoma, Boston, San Diego, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Milwaukee, and Los Angeles, people righteously disrupted airport business-as-usual to denounce and stop the Muslim and refugee ban. (Breitbart attacked the protests immediately with the blaring, "alternative fact" headline: "Terror-Tied Group CAIR Causing Chaos, Promoting Protests & Lawsuits, as Trump Protects Nation.")

These were very important actions – and showed the broad potential to quickly mobilize many thousands. But Trump's executive order is still in place, his regime is still in power and aggressively defending its actions and fighting forward. So there's a great need for people (especially those who are not Muslims and not from the Middle East) to continue to stand up for those being targeted, to spread this struggle to more people and more places, and to build this as part of a movement of millions saying NO!, and determined to drive the illegitimate Trump-Pence regime from power.

       

How Would a Humane, Emancipatory Society Deal With Refugees?

The U.S.'s barbaric, inhumane treatment of those around the world in the greatest need of help, raises the question – what's the alternative? What would be a humane way to deal with the displacement of millions?

Answer: with exactly the opposite goals, methods, culture and morality than that of the Trump-Pence regime – which is an extreme expression of the essential nature of U.S. capitalism-imperialism.

There is no way the United States could ever make up for or repay the masses for the death, destruction, and suffering it has caused them all over the world, including now in particular the countries it has devastated of North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia.

Even a genuine revolutionary socialist state could not make full restitution for the centuries of horrors the United States has inflicted on people. But a revolutionary socialist state on the road to communism would work and struggle to overcome the scars that this imperialist monstrosity has left on the world and its people. Such a state would be coming from a whole different standpoint and would move to make huge changes so that such horrors were stopped, and a world brought into being where they could never happen again. Such a revolutionary state would put the world, and the revolutionary emancipation of all humanity first—not "my country." And not holding onto any form of oppression or privileged position vis-a-vis other peoples or countries.

Among many other things, such a state would not intensify the plunder, military conquest, and environmental destruction that are driving the refugee crisis in the world today, but move to end them as part of uprooting the capitalist-imperialist system these horrors spring from. And its immediate orientation, in foreign relations, culture, education, morality and economic decision-making would be to support and assist people around the world fighting oppression, and to build a society which puts humanity first, not America.

This is not a dream—it is real, and realizable, and laid out in tremendous detail in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, authored by Bob Avakian and adopted by the Revolutionary Communist Party. Today, everyone should join in and strengthen the inspiring resistance now being waged around the country against the Trump-Pence regime's fascist ban; and as we do so, we should also be wrangling over what it would take to truly get beyond a world of such horrors.

American Lives Are Not More Important Than Other People's Lives!
—Bob Avakian, BAsics 5:7

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/476/new-threats-and-demands-in-trump-regime-war-on-truth-en.html

Revolution #476 January 30, 2017

New Threats and Demands in the Trump Regime's War on Truth

January 30, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Trump's "Alternative Facts" vs the truth
Tweet this

In just nine days, the Trump regime has pumped out lie after lie. Trump demonizes all Muslims, devoid of evidence. He promotes the most outrageous lies about the cause and nature of the global refugee crisis. Trump dehumanizes Black people and Mexicans. He insists, against all facts, that the turnout for his inauguration was under-reported. He claimed, and when challenged insisted—without any basis—that “millions” of people voted against him illegally. This is not just a series of lies, this is a war on truth. And in the past few days, top people in the Trump regime and Trump himself have moved to enforce that war on truth.

In a statement that unapologetically upheld lying, Trump’s key advisor, Kellyanne Conway, defended Trump’s lie about millions of illegal voters as “alternative facts.” When her quote made it into newscasts, Conway demanded—on Fox News channel—that networks “get rid of” reporters who simply reported what she said. She ranted: “Who is cleaning house? Which one is going to be the first network to get rid of these people, the people who think things were just not true?” And, “I’m too polite to mention their names, but they know who they are, and they are all wondering who will be the first to go. The election was three months ago. None of them have been let go.”

This followed Trump saying he was in a “running war” with the media. It followed demands by Trump’s top advisor, Steve Bannon, that the mainstream media should “keep its mouth shut.” And after Conway’s demands, on January 29, Trump himself tweeted that someone “should buy the FAKE NEWS and failing @nytimes and either run it correctly or let it fold with dignity!”

These moves by the Trump regime are in line with the Nazi propaganda machine under Hitler. The Nazis used iron-fisted control over the media, including silencing voices of radical resistance, as well as mainstream media that questioned some of Hitler’s lies and actions.

The Nazis established an atmosphere of terror to silence critical thinking. All to cover up, or justify, the historic crimes they were committing against humanity. Not this time! This is a regime that must be stopped.

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/476/professor-watchlist-targeting-critical-thinking-and-dissent-in-the-universities-en.html

Revolution #476 January 30, 2017

"Professor Watchlist"—
Targeting Critical Thinking and Dissent in the Universities

January 28, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

BAsics 4:10 by Bob Avakian
Click to enlarge and share

A dangerous movement on the campuses across the country jumped out right after the election—the “Professor Watchlist”—which has begun identifying professors whose scholarship, curricula, and role as public intellectuals are seen by its organizers as un-American and unacceptable. While this kind of attack on academia is not new, it is now taking place in an atmosphere and against the backdrop of the rise to power of a fascist regime, and with clear support from its highest levels.

This witch hunt began by publicizing the names of 195 professors, along with photographs, and descriptions of the “crimes” which earned them a place on the “enemies” list. Who is being targeted? The stated objective of the Professor Watchlist is to “expose and document college professors who discriminate against conservative students, promote anti-American values and advance leftist propaganda in the classroom.” And the organizers are calling on students to report any professors they believe belong on the list.

What Can Get You on the Professor Watchlist?

Here are just a few of the activities that can put you on the list to be watched:

Fascists Target the University as Dangerous Source of Evidence-Based Thinking

The Professor Watchlist is organized by Turning Point USA, a reactionary student group started in 2012, which is funded by very rich right-wing donors, including the governor of Illinois, and claims to have chapters on more than 1,000 campuses. Their founder, Charlie Kirk—in his early 20s—was invited to speak at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland that anointed Trump as their candidate. And he has met with the Trump-Pence transition team—because he is considered capable of mobilizing millennials into a reactionary student movement that will transform the atmosphere on the campuses.

This development must be taken extremely seriously. Trump fully intends to enforce his America First program, and bring the force of the state against any sectors of society that seriously oppose him. These fascists understand that the universities are one institution in society that can stand in the way of the fundamental reordering of society that their America First program requires. The Trump administration, which brazenly promotes notions of “alternative facts,” sees the university as a dangerous source of evidence-based thinking. As Raymond Lotta has pointed out: “The university is a place where dissent and critical and radical thinking have some initiative. It is a space that has helped incubate social movements—from civil rights to antiwar, women’s and environmental.”

While the watchlist is going after a range of professors, the Trump administration, which dismisses the scientific consensus on human-made climate change, has been putting a particular target on the backs of climate scientists. It is attempting to shut down NASA’s climate-change research and monitoring and vetting the research of NASA and other government agency employees. As Michael Mann, a professor of atmospheric science at Penn State, wrote in a recent Washington Post op-ed: “We know that we could be hauled before Congress to face hostile questioning.... We know we could be at the receiving end of federal subpoenas demanding our personal emails. We know we could see our research grants audited or revoked.” Mann also recounts email and phone threats of violence against him.

There is precedent for this kind of witch hunt with the nationwide campaign launched by David Horowitz against critical thinking and dissent in academia a decade ago, and the publication of his 2006 book The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America. This went hand-in-hand with the Ward Churchill case—an overtly politically motivated attack by the University of Colorado which fired Churchill, a tenured professor and chair of Native American Studies, for an essay he wrote after 9/11. The firing of a tenured professor for the content of an essay criticizing the government seriously chilled the atmosphere among faculty on campuses everywhere.

       

There is already growing concern among those who have appeared on the list, and more broadly, about where and how far this can go, way beyond anything accomplished in the campaign by Horowitz and his allies in the Bush administration. People are recognizing the connection between the Professor Watchlist and Trump’s assumption to power. A journalism professor at Columbia University whose name was added to the list expressed his fears: “We have a list, we know who you are – then suddenly you’re marking people as targets. We look at history, we saw it happen in Italy, in Germany with this kind of thing, we saw it with McCarthy ... that’s my fear, that these buffoons are taken seriously.”

That which you will not resist and mobilize to stop, you will learn--or be forced--to accept.
Tweet this

Retired professor Ellen Schrecker, author of No Ivory Tower: McCarthyism and the Universities—about a period in the U.S. in the 1950s when thousands in academic and cultural and political life were subjected to investigation, blacklisting, and dismissal from positions (also known as the “Red Scare”)—was interviewed about the Professor Watchlist by the Boston NPR station WBUR in December 2016. Comparing the watchlist to the McCarthy period, Schrecker said she wasn’t sure whether people would lose their jobs; and then added, “One just hopes that the academic community doesn’t fold. It did fold in the 1950s.” After describing the treatment of three university professors who were targeted by McCarthy, then fired from the university, with one being sent to prison, Schrecker said: “What made the Red Scare’s effect insidious was that it produced not resistance, but silence.”

Beginning Opposition—and the Need for Broader Determined Resistance

There has been a positive response by many of the faculty appearing on the watchlist—both taking it very seriously and refusing to be intimidated. And colleagues and others have stepped forward in support. In response to the appearance of the names of colleagues at the University of Notre Dame on the watchlist, more than 100 professors on the campus sent a powerful statement to Professor Watchlist, which said in part:

We will not tolerate our colleagues being subject to policing of their work, their thoughts and their teaching. We will not repeat the passivity of the past, when intellectuals were blacklisted for disagreeing with a particular agenda. When you challenge them, you challenge us.

As of January 8, more than 2,250 professors from campuses in this country and beyond have signed the statement, telling the watchlist that they want their names added as well.

But there needs to be much more awareness within the academic community, and in society as a whole, of the significance of where this whole assault on dissent and critical thinking is coming from, and the larger picture that fits into. In 2007, in a special supplement titled “WARNING: The Nazification of the American University,” we wrote about the offensive on critical thinking and dissent in academia at that time, surrounding the attack on Ward Churchill. The following from that special supplement is critical to understanding the urgency of taking these attacks seriously; at this moment when critical thinking and dissent must be fostered, not muzzled or silenced:

Bob Avakian, in analyzing the core objectives behind this organized attack on academia, has emphasized that today’s imperialist agenda cannot stand up to critical thinking and a rational pursuit of the truth. And so those behind this agenda have to change the definition of what is the truth and how the truth is arrived at. And they have to rule out of order and beyond the pale critical thinking and dissent that would call into question not only the justification of particular policies, but also the foundation on which those justifications are built. (We encourage readers to listen to BA’s talk “Balance” Is the Wrong Criterion—And a Cover for a Witch-hunt—What We Need Is the Search for the Truth: Education, Real Academic Freedom, Critical Thinking and Dissent,” one of his 7 Talks.)

Students, faculty, and administrations on the campuses must stand up to this witch hunt by mobilizing and organizing to meet this menace. And broader segments of society must join with them. We must defend those who have been singled out for attack and, more fundamentally, defend the ability of professors and students to hold—and propagate—dissenting and radical views.

At this moment, with the rise of this American fascist Trump regime, it is vitally important that the new generation of students and professors oppose Trump’s campus goons, and step forward to defend the unfettered search for the truth, intellectual ferment, and dissent. One way or another, this struggle over the university and intellectual life will have profound repercussions on the struggle to refuse fascism—and on the prospects for bringing a whole new society into being.

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/avakian/science/ba-the-new-communism--materialism-vs-idealism-en.html

Revolution #476 January 30, 2017

The Science...Actual Revolution title image

Download PDF of entire work

Editors' note: The following is an excerpt from the new work by Bob Avakian, The New Communism, which is available as a book from Insight Press. An updated pre-publication PDF of this major work—now including the appendices—is available here.

Excerpt from the section:
Part I. Method and Approach, Communism as a Science

To get into this, let’s start with some basic and essential questions: 1) Is the world actually a horror for the masses of humanity? 2) Is revolution, and the final goal of a communist world, the necessary means for radically changing all this, to eliminate oppression and exploitation, and the plundering of the environment? 3) Can such a revolution actually succeed, can a radically different and liberating society and world really be brought into being? Those are three big questions. Now, I imagine that we can all recite the “correct answers” to these questions: yes, yes, and yes. And the substance of these answers—the compelling reasons why those are the answers in fact—all this is brought to life in talks and writings of mine and, in an ongoing way, through the website revcom.us and Revolution newspaper. But here we need to focus on this question: How, with what method, do we arrive at these answers—by religiosity and just repeating dogma, or by some other means? And what approach do we take to understanding things in general? This has everything to do with epistemology—with the theory of knowledge, how people acquire knowledge and how they know whether something is true, whether it has to do with reality or not. In other words, questions such as: What is truth? Is there objective reality—believe it or not, that’s a question that is hotly debated in society—is there objective reality and can we come to know it, and how do we go about knowing the truth about reality? We are never going to get where we need to go without a correct, scientific method and approach for knowing the world as it really is, and as it is moving and changing. And we are never going to get where we need to go without challenging not only what people think but, even more fundamentally, how they think—and how they “approach the world.”

The science of communism—communism as a science—this is another thing that’s thrown around a lot. But this question, communism as a science—whether in fact communism is a science, whether it meets and applies the standards and methods of science, and whether it can, and needs to be, applied to society and to transforming society—all this is sharply contended not only in this society, and the world, overall and in general, but also specifically among many who claim to be seeking some kind of “progressive” or radical change, and even among many who proclaim themselves to be “communists,” “Maoists,” and so on. All this is spoken to in very important ways in the Interview with Ardea Skybreak, SCIENCE AND REVOLUTION: On the Importance of Science and the Application of Science to Society, the New Synthesis of Communism and the Leadership of Bob Avakian, as well as in the article, the polemic, in Demarcations #4, “Ajith—A Portrait of the Residue of the Past.”* And those works definitely deserve to be returned to and dug into repeatedly. Now, again, I would expect that, at least at this point, people here would answer “yes” to the question of whether communism is a science that must be applied to changing reality, and in particular the reality of human society—although it does need to be asked, and we should ask ourselves, whether people have actually thought this to be true before now, and have acted consistently in accordance with that. But, rather than directly pursuing that question, right now, let’s instead get into some of the basic elements of communism as a science.

To begin with a basic question: what is science? This, too, is spoken to in a very straightforward, substantial and compelling way in the Interview with Ardea Skybreak, emphasizing that science is an evidence-based process (in that Interview, she says many times: you can’t just tell me this and tell me that, show me the evidence, I want to see the evidence). Science is an evidence-based process which seeks to understand reality—not just the surface phenomena and what is immediately apparent, but the broader patterns and deeper relations of things in the real world of material reality—things as they actually are, and as they are changing.

Rather than going into that further here, because we don’t have infinite time, I will refer people to that part of the Interview with Ardea Skybreak—and to the Interview as a whole—which is, once again, definitely something that should be repeatedly returned to and dug into. But here let’s explore this question: We communists often say that dialectical materialism is a thoroughly scientific method and approach—in fact, the most thoroughly and consistently scientific method and approach—but why is this so?

Materialism vs. Idealism

Here we get to materialism versus idealism. First of all, there is the question: what is materialism? Materialism has everything to do with and flows from the scientific method and approach. Materialism means that you approach, and seek to understand, the world as it, in fact, objectively exists. It means that you understand that there is a material reality and that all of reality, all of existence, is made up of material reality and nothing else. Engels, who along with Marx, was the founder of the communist movement, made the point, a very important point, that there are, in basic terms, two fundamental and two fundamentally opposed schools of philosophy: one is idealism and the other is materialism.

Now, we have to understand these terms not as they’re often used by people in everyday language, but in a scientific way. A lot of times people use idealism in a positive way: so-and-so is very idealistic, they have high ideals, meaning they have a lot of principles and they’re not narrow-minded or selfish or whatever. But in the philosophical sense, idealism, the school of idealism, means that you think that reality is an extension of ideas—that’s why it’s called idealism, you think reality is an extension of ideas—ideas in the mind of individuals. For example: “Maybe this doesn’t exist for you, but it exists for me.” We hear this kind of thing all the time, this relativism: “Well, that may be your truth, but my truth says something different. God may not exist for you, but God definitely exists for me.” No! If god exists at all, then god exists for everybody. See, that’s the thing we have to recognize. Either there’s a god or there’s not. God is not the kind of thing that can just exist in one person’s mind—unless it’s your own personal god that you just made up, and then that’s easy to deal with. But the idealist school of thought in philosophy says that the reality that we perceive is an extension of ideas—either different individuals’ ideas or the ideas of one great mind, which is another way of saying what? God. So, naturally, you can’t test those ideas against reality, because their basis exists within the mind of either some supposed god or of individual human beings. And this is completely out of line with reality—the idea that there are multiple realities depending on each individual’s, or some supposed god’s, thinking or feelings or ideas or whatever—it’s completely out of keeping with the actual reality. (Ooh, there’s that scary concept again, objective reality, actual reality. We’re on the verge of totalitarianism now!)

Engels also made the point that one of the ways we know this, that material reality actually exists, is that we can interact with it—not only learn about it, but change it. And when we change it, it changes the same way for everybody. Different people may respond to how it changes in different ways, or have different feelings or thoughts about it, but it changes objectively. So that’s the philosophical school of materialism, as Engels pointed out. The school of materialism, as opposed to idealism, says that the material world objectively exists independently of any individual, or any supposed god, and their ideas and thinking. And that, in fact, individuals and their thinking is a process of material reality itself—people’s brains, nervous systems, and so on—this is what goes into thought. Now, it’s true, we don’t understand everything about how this works, although more is constantly being learned, and at the same time there is struggle over how to interpret what’s being learned in many cases. But we do know that the human nervous system and brain are actual material reality that undergoes actual material processes, and that’s what thoughts are constituted of. And those thoughts in turn are ultimately, and in a fundamental sense, a reflection of objective reality, a reflection in the minds of the thinking person. These ideas may be a correct or an incorrect, an accurate or an inaccurate, reflection of reality, but that’s what they ultimately are, some reflection of reality. So that’s a fundamental dividing line, between materialism and idealism.

Now it’s true that, for example, in art, in culture, often things will be presented which are different than actual material reality. And that’s a good thing. You wouldn’t want to see art that only, always and simply, reflected reality back to you just exactly the way it is. You want it presented in different ways, including many ways that are not in keeping with how reality actually is, which can inspire and challenge and provoke you to think, including about actual reality. So there is that role in art. But that art, that culture, is still a reflection of material reality in the final analysis. That’s the raw material—the actual reality out there is the raw material out of which art is built, even if it deliberately distorts and skews it in order to present things in a different way. So we’re back again to this fundamental dividing line between a materialist understanding and an idealist mis-understanding of how things actually are.

What we mean by materialism, as one of the two opposing schools in philosophy, is different once again than the way this is often used in everyday life—for example, how preachers sometimes use this term, or how it is often used in popular language— meaning something like consumerism: “That person’s very materialist,” meaning they want to go out and grab a bunch of consumer goods, they’re continually consumed with shopping, buying more video games, or shoes, or whatever. Or, sometimes materialism is used by religious people and others to refer to people who are very narrow and grubby: they’re philistine—they don’t think about big things, they’re very “materialist” in the sense of wanting to just deal with the narrowest scope of things, and don’t have much use for big philosophical questions, or questions of “spirituality,” and so on. But, in the scientific sense, in terms of the two basic schools of philosophy, materialism means that you recognize that material reality objectively exists, that everything that actually exists is made up of material reality, in many different forms, and that this includes the minds of people and their thoughts.

Now, once again, people sometimes say things like: “Well, maybe the world objectively exists, but we can’t actually know it as it objectively exists, we can only know it as we perceive it, or as we construct it in our minds, out of our perceptions.” Engels pointed out the prominent philosopher Immanuel Kant was an example of that. But without going into all that right now, the point is, as Engels made clear, that even people who argue in that way are still in the philosophical camp of idealism, because if you say we can’t really know anything about reality outside of how we perceive it, or how we construct it in our minds, then in effect you’re saying that the only material reality there is, or the only material reality you can be certain of, is the material reality you perceive and how you perceive it, or “construct” it. All that falls into the philosophical school of idealism that says that reality exists in the minds of people, or in the mind of one great god, and then everything else is an extension of that. So, once again, this is a fundamental dividing line in how you approach understanding the world and therefore your ability to change it. It may sound like we’re talking about obscure theoretical abstractions, but everybody here, I’m sure, in talking to people, runs into this kind of thinking—the idealist way of thinking—in all different kinds of forms. You get it in very sophisticated theses sometimes—or sometimes not very sophisticated feces—from some of these academics. And you get it in very down-on-the-ground everyday terms from “regular people.” Again, “That may be true for you, but it’s not true for me.” Or, “How can we really say what’s true?” Or, “God may not exist for you, but I know God exists for me—without God I couldn’t have done this, I couldn’t have done that, I couldn’t have gotten off drugs, so God exists for me, anyway.” I’ve even had people tell me: “Well, you may not believe in God, but I believe God sent you here to do this.”

We hear this kind of thing in all different kinds of forms all the time. And it’s very important that we approach things correctly in how we deal with this and how we struggle over this with people. I mean, you’re not going to go to the masses of people and say, “Now, listen, you have to understand there are two basic schools of philosophy—Engels pointed out...” “What the fuck are you talking about?!” No, you have to break this down for people—it’s not that you should water it down, but you have to break it down, you have to make this accessible to people. At the same time, you have to remain firmly grounded in the basics here. Otherwise, you’re going to lose your bearings, you’re not going to be able to struggle in a good way with people, because people will set all kinds of terms on which they want to discuss and struggle with you about things, and you have to recast the terms back to what they actually are, or else you get lost and run around in a circle. I think everybody has experienced this at one time or another.

So that’s materialism as opposed to idealism, two basic schools of philosophy: one in accord, in correspondence, with how things actually are, and one completely out of line (upside down, if you will) in terms of how things actually are.


* Ishak Baran and K.J.A., “Ajith—A Portrait of the Residue of the Past” in Demarcations: A Journal of Communist Theory and Polemic, Issue Number 4, Winter 2015. Available at demarcations-journal.org and revcom.us. [back]

 

Contents

Publisher's Note

Introduction and Orientation

Foolish Victims of Deceit, and Self-Deceit

Part I. Method and Approach, Communism as a Science

Materialism vs. Idealism
Dialectical Materialism
Through Which Mode of Production
The Basic Contradictions and Dynamics of Capitalism
The New Synthesis of Communism
The Basis for Revolution
Epistemology and Morality, Objective Truth and Relativist Nonsense
Self and a “Consumerist” Approach to Ideas
What Is Your Life Going to Be About?—Raising People’s Sights

Part II. Socialism and the Advance to Communism:
            A Radically Different Way the World Could Be, A Road to Real Emancipation

The “4 Alls”
Beyond the Narrow Horizon of Bourgeois Right
Socialism as an Economic System and a Political System—And a Transition to Communism
Internationalism
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—Revolutionary Defeatism
Internationalism and an International Dimension
Internationalism—Bringing Forward Another Way
Popularizing the Strategy
Fundamental Orientation

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”

Appendix 1:
The New Synthesis of Communism:
Fundamental Orientation, Method and Approach,
and Core Elements—An Outline
by Bob Avakian

Appendix 2:
Framework and Guidelines for Study and Discussion

Notes

Selected List of Works Cited

About the Author

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/avakian/science/36ba-science...revolution-another-kind-of-pyramid-pt-2-en.html

Revolution #476 January 30, 2017

The Science...Actual Revolution title image

Download PDF of entire work

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. An updated pre-publication PDF of this major work—now including the appendices—is available here.

This excerpt comes from the section titled "IV. The Leadership We Need."

Excerpt 2 from the section:
Another Kind of "Pyramid"

But to return to intellectuals, and their relation to revolution, another contradiction bound up with the role of intellectuals as, in Marx’s formulation, the political and literary representatives of a class, is that in every revolution that has taken place so far, the political and literary representatives of a class are different than that class itself. This has been true in the bourgeois revolution, and not just in the proletarian revolution. Here we get to another important point of Marx’s, about the shopkeeper and the democratic intellectual: Marx points out that, in terms of how they approach the world, in their daily lives, they may be as far apart as heaven and earth; but the democratic intellectuals, much as they may philosophize in lofty realms and talk about the rights of the people and so on, do not, in the world of ideas, get beyond the limits of bourgeois right, any more than the shopkeeper gets beyond this in the realm of practical everyday activity. This same basic principle applies when such intellectuals lead a bourgeois revolution: They are different than the actual class of capitalists that they objectively represent, even as they remain within the same realm, within the same limits of bourgeois relations and the rights that correspond to that.

But this contradiction—between intellectuals and the class they lead in making revolution—becomes much more acute when it comes to the proletarian revolution. In the bourgeois revolution, the masses fight and die, and an exploiting class comes to power, if that revolution is successful—an exploiting class led by its intellectuals, its political and literary representatives. In the proletarian revolution it has to be different—but it isn’t automatically different. So here’s a very sharp contradiction: This revolution, too, is led by people who are different than the masses of people they are leading, even if some of them came, originally, from among those masses. That was my point earlier—they are different. They have developed these intellectual capacities—here again is that other “pyramid point”: you can use those capacities you have developed for one class or another. You can go over to using them for the capitalist system, even if you didn’t start out intending to do that. That’s one of the things about intellectuals: As I pointed out in Ruminations and Wranglings, they can detach themselves, so to speak, from one class and attach themselves to another class, even though their position in society corresponds, more or less, to that of the petite bourgeoisie, the middle class. In other words, they can take up the cause of one class or another, and use the same intellectual skills, more or less—not the same science, but the same basic intellectual skills—on behalf of one class or another.

In the bourgeois revolution, it doesn’t matter that an exploiting class comes to power, and it doesn’t matter that the intellectuals who lead it are in the service, ultimately, of that exploiting class. I’m being deliberately provocative here. By saying “it doesn’t matter,” what I mean is this: that’s the nature of the bourgeois revolution. I don’t literally mean it doesn’t matter—actually it matters a great deal—but that’s the nature of the bourgeois revolution. The proletarian revolution, however, has a whole different character and aim. The proletarian revolution has to lead to the end of exploitation, as its ultimate goal, the end of all oppression. But it still, for a long time, requires a group, even if it’s a growing group, of intellectuals to lead it; and those intellectuals can detach themselves from the proletarian cause and go over to the cause of the bourgeoisie—not just as an act of willfulness—they consciously decide to betray the revolution—but mainly because the material contradictions in the world still provide the basis for the capitalist road to be taken, instead of the socialist road leading to communism. And this will be true for a long time, even in socialist society. So, as opposed to the bourgeois revolution, it matters a great deal whether this revolution, the proletarian revolution, ends up bringing to power (or  bringing back to power), a group of exploiters, or proceeds on the road of communism, with the goal of doing away with all systems and relations of exploitation and oppression.

These are some of the contradictions that have to be confronted, if you’re going to play a leading role, at various levels, in a revolution. It doesn’t matter where you start out: The more you develop and the more responsibility you have, the more these contradictions are going to be part of what you have to deal with, in your own role but beyond that in the larger world, because this is not just a matter of individuals, it’s a social phenomenon—it has to do with the conditions that still exist, and will exist for a long time, even after you’ve overthrown capitalism, even after you establish the dictatorship of the proletariat and embark on the socialist road. It’s going to be a constant struggle for the leadership to stay on the socialist road, and to bring forward more and more people to be leaders on that road, and not some other.

Contents

Publisher's Note

Introduction and Orientation

Foolish Victims of Deceit, and Self-Deceit

Part I. Method and Approach, Communism as a Science

Materialism vs. Idealism
Dialectical Materialism
Through Which Mode of Production
The Basic Contradictions and Dynamics of Capitalism
The New Synthesis of Communism
The Basis for Revolution
Epistemology and Morality, Objective Truth and Relativist Nonsense
Self and a “Consumerist” Approach to Ideas
What Is Your Life Going to Be About?—Raising People’s Sights

Part II. Socialism and the Advance to Communism:
            A Radically Different Way the World Could Be, A Road to Real Emancipation

The “4 Alls”
Beyond the Narrow Horizon of Bourgeois Right
Socialism as an Economic System and a Political System—And a Transition to Communism
Internationalism
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—Revolutionary Defeatism
Internationalism and an International Dimension
Internationalism—Bringing Forward Another Way
Popularizing the Strategy
Fundamental Orientation

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”

Appendix 1:
The New Synthesis of Communism:
Fundamental Orientation, Method and Approach,
and Core Elements—An Outline
by Bob Avakian

Appendix 2:
Framework and Guidelines for Study and Discussion

Notes

Selected List of Works Cited

About the Author

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/476/skybreak-a-scientific-approach-to-society-and-the-world-en.html

Revolution #476 January 30, 2017

Excerpt from SCIENCE AND REVOLUTION, On the Importance of Science and the Application of Science to Society, the New Synthesis of Communism, and the Leadership of Bob Avakian, An Interview with Ardea Skybreak

A Scientific Approach to Society, and Changing the World

and

A Scientific Outlook, A Boundless Curiosity About the World

January 30, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

In the early part of 2015, over a number of days, Revolution conducted a wide-ranging interview with Ardea Skybreak. A scientist with professional training in ecology and evolutionary biology, and an advocate of the new synthesis of communism brought forward by Bob Avakian, Skybreak is the author of, among other works, The Science of Evolution and the Myth of Creationism: Knowing What’s Real and Why It Matters, and Of Primeval Steps and Future Leaps: An Essay on the Emergence of Human Beings, the Source of Women’s Oppression, and the Road to Emancipation. This interview was first published online at www.revcom.us.

This excerpt from the interview discusses what a scientific method and approach to society and changing the world is, and what it means to have a scientific outlook. This discussion draws from key elements of the new synthesis brought forward by Bob Avakian. (The topic of “What is New in the New Synthesis?” is discussed in another excerpt from this interview with Ardea Skybreak, posted November 16, 2015.)

A Scientific Approach to Society, and Changing the World

A New Theoretical Framework for a New Stage of Communist Revolution What is New in the New Synthesis? An Explorer, a Critical Thinker, a Follower of BA; Understanding the World, And Changing It For the Better, In the Interests of Humanity Some Thank Yous That Need To Be Said Aloud Order the book here Download the full interview in PDF format here

Question:       I thought we would start by briefly asking some questions about science and the scientific method. So I actually wanted to start with kind of a provocative question: What does science have to do with understanding and changing the world? And, just quickly for some background on that, I think most people, including most natural scientists, don’t think that you can, that you need to, or that you should take a scientific approach to analyzing society, or analyzing the “social world,” much less changing it. So I wanted to ask you: Why is that notion wrong, what does science and the scientific method have to do with understanding and changing society and the world?

Ardea Skybreak:     Well, I think that’s a very important question because, as you say, even many people who are scientists in the natural sciences and who apply very rigorous scientific methods when trying to deal with the natural world (biology, astronomy, physics, and so on), when you talk to them about society–the problems of society, the way societies are organized–all of a sudden it seems like their grasp of scientific method goes completely out the window! Many natural scientists actually start to revert then to a kind of crass populism, to just kind of talking vaguely about the “will of the people,” or about elections, or some other things that really have little or nothing to do with analyzing in a scientific way the main features of a given society–how it’s set up, how it functions–or with analyzing in a scientific way what’s wrong in a society, or how societal problems could be solved in a scientific way. Not everyone is like that, but it’s striking–the degree to which many advanced thinkers in the natural sciences seem to forget or drop everything they know about scientific methods whenever they try to think about the problems of society!

I think it’s very, very important to understand that science as a method has not been around in the history of humanity for all that long. So people generally are simply not accustomed to trying to understand and transform reality in a scientific way. For most of the history of human beings on this planet, the understanding of both the natural and social world was derived more from a sort of basic trial-and-error approach, trying to figure things out catch-as-catch-can, and trying to solve problems that way–often making up all sorts of mystical and supernatural explanations to fill in the gaps in people’s understanding. So, you know, people used to think lightning was the anger of the gods, or something like that, because for a long time they didn’t have a scientific understanding of what actually caused lightning.

So I think it might be worth starting a little bit by talking about what is science, to demystify it a little bit. I mean, science deals with material reality, and you could say that all of nature and all of human society is the province of science, science can deal with all that. It’s a tool–science–a very powerful tool. It’s a method and approach for being able to tell what’s true, what corresponds to reality as it really is. In that sense, science is very different than religion or mysticism, or things like that, which try to explain reality by invoking imaginary forces and which provide no actual evidence for any of their analyses. By contrast, science requires proof. It requires evidence. It is an evidence-based process. That’s very important. Science is an evidence-based process. So whether you’re just trying to understand something in the world, or trying to figure out how to change reality–for instance, you might be trying to cure a disease, or you might be trying to understand the dynamics of a rain forest or a coral reef ecosystem, or you might be trying to make a revolution to emancipate humanity, you know, the full range of material experience–science allows you to figure out what’s really going on and how it can change.

I read somewhere that Neil deGrasse Tyson, in popularizing the importance of science, said something like‑I’m paraphrasing here, but he said something like: Science allows you to confront and identify problems, to recognize problems and figure out how to solve them, rather than run away from them. And I think that’s an important point, too. Science is what allows you to actually deal with material reality the way it really is. Whether you’re talking about the material reality of a disease, of a natural ecosystem, or of a social system that human beings live under, science allows you to analyze its components, its history, how it came to be the way it is, what it’s made of, what are its defining characteristics and underlying contradictoriness (and we’ll come back to that) and therefore also what is the basis for it to change, or to be changed, if your intent is to change it. Whether you want to cure a disease or make a better society, you need that scientific evidence-based process.

One thing about science is that it asks a lot of questions about how things came to be the way they are, and about how things have changed over time. I’ve always been very interested in what’s called the historical sciences–for instance, biological evolution, but there are also other historical sciences, including the science of human society–which deal with how things change over time. And then, of course, if you’re studying how things change over time, you can study how things can change some more, including in directions that human beings might be inclined to have it go. All of reality has evolved, has changed over time, and it’s still changing all of the time, whether you’re talking about the natural world or the social world. If you want to change life, if you want to change the way a society is organized, if you want to change the world, if you want to change anything in nature or society, you need a scientific method, because that’s the only way to deeply and systematically uncover how reality really is, on the basis of systematic observations and interactions, manipulations, and transformations of reality. That’s how you learn how things really are, how they got to be that way, and how they can be changed. Again, it’s an evidence-based process, it’s not just “what you think” or “what I think.” We need evidence, accumulated over time. This is what reveals what reality is made up of, how it came to be a certain way, how it may be changing right now, or how it may be possible for human beings to further change it.

Here’s an important point: Without science, you can only say what you as an individual think reality is, or maybe you can say what a whole bunch of people think reality is, or maybe you can say what a government, or religious authority, or some other authority might tell you reality is like, but that doesn’t make any of it true. Without science you are at the mercy of being manipulated, of having your thinking manipulated and not being able to tell what’s right from what’s wrong, what’s true from what’s false. If you really want to know what’s what, what’s true, and what to do, you need science–not fantasies or wishful thinking, but concrete evidence and a systematic process, a systematic method of analysis and synthesis. The analysis breaks down experience and knowledge over time; synthesis brings it back together in a higher way, in a more systematic way, getting the bigger lessons, the core lessons out of the accumulated experience.

So this is one of the reasons why you need scientific revolutionary theory if you really want to change a society at its roots. You know, we talk about radical change in society. Well, the word “radical” comes from the Latin meaning “root”; it means get to the root of the problem. Don’t just stay on the surface of what the problem appears to be, on a superficial level or at just one moment in time. Get underneath it, get deeper, the way a good scientist does, to understand what are the deeper rules of the system, what are the deeper ways the contradictions inside a system make it work certain ways that cause problems, or that can bring forth possibilities.

Question:       Well, if I could interject just for a second, this strikes me as really important and critical in terms of what is science and what’s involved in a scientific approach to reality; what you’re saying about the importance of science being evidence-based and the different points you were making about that, I think are very important there. One  thing I wanted to interject is to kind of zero in on this question: I think a lot of people would recognize, including a lot of natural scientists–and obviously you, yourself, were trained as a natural scientist, and so maybe you would have some particular insights on this–but a lot of even natural scientists would probably look at what you were saying and respond, OK, I see how that process can be applied to the natural world, to the natural sciences–patterns, looking for evidence, synthesis–but then they would kind of recoil at the idea that you could actually apply that to human beings and human society. Or maybe another way to go at it is that some people would say, Well, OK, but human beings and human societies, that’s just too complicated to be scientific about or to apply science. So maybe we could zero in a little bit on what does it mean specifically to take a scientific approach to human beings and human society and their development, and why is that correct?

AS:     Well, look, for one thing, in any system, whether it’s in the natural world or human society, there’s both complexity and simplicity. The idea that human beings or human societies are just too complex to analyze with science is ridiculous. It’s the exact opposite. How could you possibly deal with the complexity of human social organizations and interactions over various historical periods and up to today, and all the contradictions within that, all the complicated patterns and things, and the different forces, and so on, and different objectives of different peoples and different periods of history–how could you deal with all that without science? How could you even begin to make sense of it and understand it? And it’s not true that natural systems are somehow simpler, you know. If you want to understand the dynamics of complex ecosystems–like, for instance, a rain forest, which has many different layers of trees and shrubs in the undergrowth and so on, and which is characterized by very complex dynamics in terms of the many different kinds and levels of interactions among and between the incredibly diverse plant and animal species–I mean, you could spend a lifetime, and many people do, just trying to get a beginning understanding of a lot of these complex dynamics. Or, if you wanted to better understand coral reef ecosystems, or desert ecosystems, or the differences between different ecosystems and which ones might be more vulnerable to being disrupted and which ones might be relatively more stable, or assess relative species diversity or how to preserve diversity...so many questions worth exploring further... Look, I’m not trying to get into all that right now because I know you want to talk mainly about human social systems, but what I am saying is that in both the natural and social world, material reality is very complex, and that while we as human beings always have some shortcomings in our understanding (things that at any given time we don’t quite get yet) we also have tremendous abilities and a lot of accumulated knowledge. Our brains are capable of actually investigating and exploring all sorts of questions, from many different angles, and we’re actually capable of summing things up over a period of time, accumulating historical experience and knowledge that way. This is one of the things that’s very particular to human beings: our great ability to accumulate understanding over generations, over centuries, over millennia, and to understand some of the patterns of organization of societies or of natural systems or whatever we turn our minds to.

 

       

And we humans are also capable of doing some very important projections into the future, not just the future tomorrow, or of a month from now, but also trying to understand what could be happening to this planet, for instance–the entire planet–from an environmental standpoint, looking ahead generations, not just tomorrow. Similarly with social systems, we actually have the ability to analyze different patterns of social organization throughout past human history and up through today, and we can also project ahead to the way things could be in the future. We can therefore also make some conscious decisions about what we want to work on now–in which direction do we want to try to push things, because we do have conscious initiative to do that. So, for instance, when you talk about a human society, about human social organization, you can see that a society is basically a way that human beings come together–work together, or oppose each other or whatever–but come together to essentially work on meeting the requirements of life of people in a given time. It might be done well, or it might be done poorly, but this is what a human society is, it’s a form of organization. Right? And, you know, we’ve all lived in this capitalist-imperialist world for so long, those of us who are alive today, that sometimes it’s hard to remember or to think about the fact that human societies haven’t always been organized this way, and they don’t have to be organized this way. Capitalism-imperialism is not the only way to organize a human society, and I would argue strenuously that it’s certainly not the best way. But in any case it’s not the only way, and that is worth understanding and thinking about. The fact is we can apply science to try to understand some of those earlier social systems. For instance, many societies in the history of human beings were organized on the basis of slavery, the exploitation of slaves, the domination of slaves who were literally the property of the slavemasters, and the slavemasters made them build the economy that way. And I won’t get into all the details of it, but that’s a very different kind of society than the ones that mainly prevail today, on a large scale at least. There’s still slavery in the world, by the way, including sexual slavery, which is a very big problem. But the fundamental and dominant forms of organization of societies in the world today are mainly not organized on the basis of slavery. But for a long time in the history of human beings, that was a dominant form of social organization.

Another significant form of social organization was the system of feudalism, and there are certainly still remnants of feudalism in many parts of the world today, we see it everywhere. But in feudal systems you had lords and masters, you had nobilities, you had aristocracies, and you had oppressed and dominated people like serfs and peasants, who would typically be growing the crops and having to turn much of it over to the lords of a region or whatever, and they had to pay terrible taxes and tributes to the lords, and they were just barely one notch above being outright slaves. It was even very common for a serf to have to turn over his daughter to the local lord of the region, to basically have sex with and do with whatever he will and there was nothing serfs could do about any of that under the existing rules of the feudal system. Feudalism in turn is a very different system than what’s called bourgeois democracy, the kind of more typical capitalist-imperialist system of social organization that dominates the world today. I’m not going to try to get into any of this in detail right now, but I will say that it is worth thinking about the fact that scientific methods can be–and have been–applied to analyzing the patterns of social organization of all those different past social systems; and if we can do it for the past, we can also do it for the future.

Some people will say, well, OK, systems such as slavery, the feudal system, and maybe even the capitalist system, are not good ways to organize society, but what we should really do is just go back to an early communal system. Such people argue that we just need to organize on a small scale in our local areas, so that people can work together in small groups, and make all the decisions together, and can create “genuine democracy” and make collective decisions about how to meet the needs of the people, and promote local agriculture, local production, and so on. The problem with such views is that they are simply not rooted in the actual reality of the world today! Look, I would agree that there’s a lot we could still learn from hunter-gatherer societies that prevailed for most of the history of humanity, that there’s a lot we could still learn from some remnants of those societies in the world today, and that there’s a lot we can learn from people today who have all sorts of ideas about how better to organize things, in a more rational way, on a relatively small and local scale, in terms of such things as agricultural production, waste reduction, promoting use of local products, and so on. So yes, there are things that we can learn from some of the social experiments that people are doing, trying to figure out how to get away from some of the problems of modern society that cause natural and social dislocations, pollution, the destruction of soils, and so on and so forth. But let’s get real, OK? We need to talk about the scope and scale of the human species spread out throughout this entire planet. Billions and billions of people. You’re not gonna resolve the problems of society by going backwards to some kind of idealized, romanticized primitive communalism! So if that’s not going to cut it, if that’s not going to be able to meet the key and critical problems of  today, and certainly not with sufficient scope and scale, then what? Look, a slave-based system, a feudal system, a capitalist-imperialist system, these are all just material ways of organizing human societies and they can all be analyzed by science and critically evaluated. But you can also apply the same scientific methods to figuring out how to build completely new and different societies that would not only be better, but also be able to encompass the whole planet. Because I’m really not interested in talking about philosophies and methods that cannot, ultimately, encompass and benefit all of humanity.

One of the things you get from Bob Avakian [BA] which I really appreciate is that he’s promoted this concept that we need “emancipators of humanity” and that we need to move in the direction of making this world, this entire planet, a good place to live in and function for all of humanity, where we can get away from the idea that some groups of people, and some categories of people, or some whole countries, are lording it over others, and exploiting and dominating and oppressing others. That’s the whole idea of this revolutionary communism, and one of the things you really get from BA is the need to always think and proceed back from the need to emancipate all of humanity. Otherwise, you can easily fall into things that go off track. BA has talked about how the goal is not for the last to be first and the first to be last, it can’t be about revenge, about the oppressed taking revenge on people. I agree that’s not the kind of world we should be striving for. And my point here is that without science you’re going to be lost, because without a scientific method to analyze the patterns, to really understand why things are the way they are and how they could be different, and on what basis could they be different, you’re going to go off track all the time.

You know, one of the hallmarks of good science–because there is bad science, too–but one of the hallmarks of good science is really having a critical spirit and promoting critical thinking–which, by the way, is another hallmark of BA’s work. He’s really stressing the need for everyone to get into this–it doesn’t matter what your level of education is...I would like to talk about this. Science is not something that should only be done by an elite, or by people who have gone to graduate school or gotten Ph.D. degrees or something like that. I firmly believe–and I can provide evidence of this–that people who are not even trained in basic literacy can actually function as scientists. You know, you can train people in scientific methods, in even just a weekend you can start to do that. If you want to get people doing science in the natural world, you can spend a weekend doing some good science in a rain forest or in a desert, and I guarantee you it will be real scientific work, real scientific investigation. And I don’t care if you don’t even have a sixth-grade education. If you are a healthy human being, you can take up and apply scientific methods, whether to the problems of nature or of human society. And one of the things I’m very concerned about is that we promote scientific understanding and scientific methods very, very broadly, so that everyone can learn to use these methods, and it’s not just the province of a few or a province of the elites.

 

A Scientific Outlook, A Boundless Curiosity About the World

Question:       Well, you just touched on something I wanted to ask you about. Very frequently the way science is portrayed and is viewed–and I think this relates to the point that you were just making about science being portrayed as the province of the elite–it’s also often portrayed as cold, boring, lifeless, dry, maybe even some people think of it as being dogmatic or rigid, or something a relatively small number of people are practicing, kind of cut off from the world. And so I wanted you to respond to that view and portrayal of science.

AS:     Oh boy, don’t get me started! [laughs] I mean, at the risk of sounding ridiculous, some of the most passionate and lively people I’ve ever known have been scientists, including in the natural sciences. Science itself is not...how can anybody think of it as being dry or lifeless, or whatever, when the whole point of science is to have boundless curiosity about the world, about everything, about the way things came to be. Where did we come from? Where did life on earth come from? How did it come together? Why is this bird building its nest in this way in this tree and what is it doing? And what is this cat doing running across the road? I’m not trying to get into a lot of questions right now, but the point is that a good scientist is constantly asking questions about everything. It’s what is often so wonderful about little kids, how little kids want to know everything about everything: why is this like this, why is this like that, how did it come to be that way, what is this? And so on. And unfortunately that natural scientific curiosity that pretty much every kid has, often gets kind of sucked out them, beaten out of them–if not physically then just through the stultifying educational system, and through the way this society is, and what it encourages and discourages.

Why do so many people think of science as something scary or dry or lifeless? Frankly, it’s for a number of reasons. One, they often haven’t been taught correctly in schools what science is. Science is sometimes taught as if it’s just a bunch of dry precepts or formulas–just a bunch of end-point conclusions people are supposed to remember–but that’s not science. Science is a process. It is a lively method of investigation. Think of science as a way that allows you to ask a whole lot of questions, about everything and anything, and that gives you a method and approach to enable you to systematically and methodically investigate things, to act sort of like a detective out in the world, to deeply investigate natural reality, or social reality. There’s nothing lifeless about it! It’s all about trying to understand things, including because of the basic principle that if you want to change anything you’d better first understand it, and not understand it just in a superficial way. You need evidence, accumulated over time, and not just in scattered little bits and pieces. You need to discover the patterns, including the patterns of how things relate to each other: If you want to understand the interactions between, say, oak trees and the squirrels that disperse their acorns; or between some of the flowering plants and the bees or butterflies or birds or even monkeys that may act as their pollinators; or between sharks and their prey, just to use a few examples–if you want to understand any of this, you need to uncover the evidence of the underlying patterns and the underlying dynamics and you need science to do this. Life is full of dynamic interactions–not just in that broader natural world, but in the human social world as well. So if you want to change anything, you first really have to understand why things are the way they are, how they came to be that way, and which way they are moving. And if you don’t like the way it’s going, and it has to do with human society, then do something about it, by using human conscious influence to try to change the course or direction of things. That’s what gets done whenever scientists come up with a cure for a disease, or figure out something like how a badly damaged river ecosystem might be reinvigorated by periodically releasing water from the dam that caused all the damage.

Well, these are some examples of science applied to the natural world, and I could give you millions of similar examples. Science is all about understanding the nature of things, understanding patterns, and understanding transformation–the way things get transformed even on their own, how things move, thanks to their internal dynamics and the effects of outside influences...you see, everything is always moving, material reality is always moving. Whether you’re talking on the scale of the cosmos, the planets, the galaxies, or whether you’re talking, on a more micro scale, about ants in an anthill or cells in your body or subatomic particles, everything in material reality is always moving and changing, nothing ever stands still. And when it comes to social life, human beings should be using the same methods of science to understand how societies got to be the way they are, and to analyze–scientifically–what’s wrong with them; to analyze–scientifically–how could they be better; and to determine what would be a strategy for moving in the right direction–again, on a scientific basis.

Another reason people are sometimes turned off by science is because there has been bad science. There will always be “science” that’s misused and misapplied, you know, but it’s bad science, OK? For instance, take examples about the way sometimes in the course of history science has been used to promote the idea that some races are inferior to other races, are mentally inferior, or something like that. Well, that’s junk science. In fact you can use rigorous scientific methods to prove that that was all bad science. It’s not just “morally” bad–it is that, but it’s also scientifically bad–it’s completely false and you can use good science to prove that.

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/476/avakian-leap-faith-leap-rational.html

Revolution #476 January 30, 2017

"A Leap of Faith" and
a Leap to Rational Knowledge:
Two Very Different Kinds of Leaps,
Two Radically Different Worldviews and Methods

by Bob Avakian

January 30, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

Editors' note: The following consists of major parts of an article written by Bob Avakian in response to a letter that was sent to him via RCP Publications. In addition to attacking communism, that letter also argued against the basic scientific viewpoint and method and insisted that atheism is just another form of religion. This article responds to a number of points in that letter while focusing on the fundamental difference between a scientific outlook and method—and more particularly the scientific outlook and method of communism—on the one hand and, on the other hand, a religious worldview which relies on “leaps of faith.” The article in its entirety can be found in Revolution #10, July 31, 2005, and is posted at revcom.us.

Not long ago I received a letter from someone who was provoked by hearing parts of my talk, “God Does Not Exist—We Need Liberation Without Gods,” that were played by Michael Slate on Pacifica radio station KPFK in Los Angeles.1 In that letter, there are many distortions....

But what I want to focus on here—because it is a very important point of distortion which not only characterizes this letter but is much more broadly promoted, particularly by religious fundamentalists, and is the source of considerable confusion and misunderstanding—is the insistence that communism (and atheism generally) is actually just another form of religion and that in fact not only communism but all scientific thinking involves just as much a “leap of faith” as does religion. In this article, I will discuss how this is completely wrong and will examine the crucial differences between religion and “leaps of faith,” on the one hand, and science and the scientific method—including communism, with its thorough, systematic and comprehensive scientific outlook and method—on the other hand.

This claim that communism (and more generally a scientific outlook and method) is just another form of religion is concentrated in the following from this letter:

“I hope you’re not offended that I call your atheism faith. I’m sure you realize atheism is a faith system too. And since you’ve pinned you’re [sic] hope on its truthfulness, we can call it your religion. How about that!? Bob Avakian is a religious man!

“You probably realize what most evolutionists don’t since no one was there to record the Big Bang, it too is just as much a leap of faith as the biblical version of creation. But no worries, you can always make your case stronger by stating forcefully, ‘Evolution is a fact!’”

The heart of the matter here—and what is fundamentally wrong in the viewpoint of the writer of this letter—is the attempt to distort what is involved in the application of a scientific method and approach, in the process of scientific investigation and analysis and in the drawing of scientifically based conclusions. More specifically, what is fundamentally wrong is the attempt to say that the actual leaps that are involved in arriving at rational knowledge of things—including through the application of the scientific method—somehow amount to the same thing as “leaps of faith” that are characteristic of religion. In fact, these are profoundly and radically different kinds of “leaps,” and digging into the difference will not only further expose the confusion and outright distortions and misrepresentations in this letter, and in the method of thinking of its author, but much more importantly can help clarify the fundamental difference between a scientific and a religious approach to reality and to changing—or not changing—reality, including human society.

The Leap From Perceptual to Rational Knowledge

As Mao Tsetung pointed out in his important philosophical works, such as “On Practice,” in the gaining (or accumulation) of knowledge by people, there are two basic stages: The first is the stage of perceptual knowledge, and the second stage is that of rational knowledge. And arriving at the second stage, of rational knowledge, not only involves and requires building on what is learned through the first (perceptual) stage but also making a leap in systematizing what is perceived: identifying the “patterns” in what is perceived and the essential character and basic identity of things that lie beyond the outward appearance of things. Getting into this further, and using some examples from “everyday life” can help illustrate this fundamental point. It can make more clear the fundamental difference between the actual acquiring of rational knowledge, through a leap from perceptual knowledge to rational knowledge, and a religious “leap of faith” which does not, and cannot, lead to rational knowledge.

As Mao also pointed out, when we first encounter anything, we see it in only a partial and scattered way, observing some of its features but not what “ties them together”—what is the essential character of something, which gives to that thing its identity as such—and how it is both different from and at the same time relates to other things. This is the stage of simply perceiving something, of perceptual knowledge. For example, many people who are not “into football” have commented that, in looking at a game of football (on television, for example) it just appears that a lot of very bulked‑up guys, wearing a lot of strange equipment, are running around and violently banging into and jumping in piles on each other! But, if you watch football for a while and persevere in attempting to grasp what is actually going on, you can begin to see the “patterns” involved, and the “rules” and “laws” that actually govern and give shape and identity to what is happening. Football fans are familiar with the basic nature and essential character of the game, with its “rules” and “laws,” and can readily offer all kinds of opinions and judgements about what is going on, based on an understanding of all this. But, of course, when such fans first started watching football themselves, they were not familiar with all this and it seemed to them, too, to be a bunch of random, arbitrary and “disjointed” activity. So what is involved in moving from that to an understanding of the nature of this game and its governing “rules” and “laws” is a matter of accumulating more and more perceptual knowledge and then making a leap, “putting this together” and systematizing it—analyzing it and making a synthesis of what is at the heart of it, what are the key “patterns” involved and what “ties it all together” and gives this game its character as “football.” Now, quite often this actual leap, from perceptual to rational knowledge, goes on largely unconsciously after a certain point—in many cases, the person involved is not aware of consciously making this leap to rational knowledge—but it is a real leap nonetheless and leads to a higher form of understanding, rational knowledge. (Whether it is worth it to engage in the process and effort of moving from perceptual knowledge to rational knowledge with regard to football is, of course, something that is culturally and socially influenced, and also involves matters of personal preference within that context—and I will not offer any opinions or judgements about this, one way or the other, here!)

But let’s contrast this kind of leap—a leap from perceptual to rational knowledge of real things—to a “leap of faith.” Let us imagine someone saying, “I don’t have to watch football, or listen to explanations about it, I can come to understand it because ‘god will reveal it to me.’” That would be putting forward a “leap of faith” as the way to acquire knowledge of something (in this case football). But, in fact, this kind of “leap” will not lead to actual knowledge of real things, nor can it be tested by applying means and methods that relate to the actual world of real things—there is no way to test that person’s assertion that “god will reveal” this knowledge to them, there can be no evidence of this, outside of their own claim about it. But I certainly wouldn’t advise you to be guided by that kind of “knowledge,” supposedly arrived at through that kind of “leap of faith,” if you are going to Las Vegas or Atlantic City to bet on football games!

Let’s take another example: a trial in which someone is accused of robbery. The prosecutor will try to present evidence (witness testimony and/or other evidence) which shows that the defendant was at the place where the robbery occurred, at the time it occurred, and perhaps that the defendant was found in possession of a weapon that is very much like (or even identical to) the weapon used in the robbery, and so on. On the other side, the defense may try to show (through witness testimony, etc.) that the defendant was somewhere else entirely at the time the robbery occurred, and/or that the weapon the defendant was found with is in fact a different weapon than the one used in the robbery, and so on. When the jury moves to render a verdict, they will be called on to make a leap from perceptual to rational knowledge—to “sift through” the testimony and other facts and get to the essence of what is shown by that evidence. Of course, the jury may do this poorly—they may be influenced by prejudices, particularly against the defendant, and/or they may simply make a mistake in their attempt to determine the “patterns” and the “essential reality” of what has been presented to them—but that does not change the fact that what is required, what they are called on to do, is precisely to make a leap from facts presented (testimony, etc.) to a conclusion about what those facts reveal that is essential about what is at issue (whether or not the defendant committed the robbery). Once again, what is involved is a leap from perceptual knowledge to rational knowledge.

If, for example, the defense presents 10 witnesses, including people who have no relation to the defendant, who testify that, at the time the robbery was committed, they are certain that they saw the defendant in a different location entirely from where the robbery occurred—and especially if the prosecution is not able to “shake” those witnesses with regard to this testimony—then it is only logical to conclude that the defendant did not commit the robbery and must be found not guilty. But the important thing, in relation to the points being discussed here, is to recognize that what is involved in arriving at that verdict is “drawing a conclusion from the facts”—which again involves and requires an actual leap from perceptual knowledge (hearing the testimony) to rational knowledge (making the determination, drawing the conclusion, that the person could not have committed the robbery). That this is the only logical conclusion that could be drawn from the facts presented may tend to “blur” the fact that there is a leap involved—that reaching this conclusion requires going beyond the mere hearing of the facts to “putting the facts together” and grasping the essence of what those facts show. And it is important to emphasize that what is involved is precisely a logical conclusion—one that is arrived at by applying logical reasoning to enable the leap from perceptual to rational knowledge.

Again, let us contrast this with a “leap of faith.” If someone were sitting on the jury and they said, “I know that boy is guilty because ‘The Lord told me so’”—that would be the opposite of applying logic and reason: It would be a “leap of faith,” as opposed to the leap from perceptual to rational knowledge—a “leap of faith” that would fly in the face of the facts and of the logical process involved in making a radically different kind of leap: a leap from perceptual to rational knowledge. And I don’t think I have to make much of an argument that it would not be very desirable to have people on a jury who would be proceeding by making those kinds of “leaps of faith” and determining the fate of someone in that way.

Or, let’s take a final example from “everyday life.” If a small child observes traffic—and especially if what is involved in the flow of traffic, etc., is explained to the child by an adult—the child will come to see, before too long, that if they step out into moving traffic, they will be badly hurt, or even killed: they will have gone from seeing what at first appears to be the random movement of vehicles, without a definite “pattern” and character, to understanding what the “pattern” and the essential character of this movement of vehicles is, and when it is safe, and not safe, to cross the street. Here again what is involved is the kind of leap from perceptual to rational knowledge that we have seen illustrated in previous examples. But if the adult instructing the child were to tell them, “It is safe to walk out in front of the moving traffic, because ‘god will protect you’”—that would be, not a leap from perceptual to rational knowledge, but a “leap of faith” that flies in the face of reason and logic—and would almost certainly have terrible and tragic consequences.

Scientific Knowledge and the Scientific Method

And if this crucial difference between these two radically different kinds of leaps—the leap from perceptual to rational knowledge, as opposed to a “leap of faith”—applies, and is of real importance, in “everyday life,” this is so in a concentrated way with regard to scientific knowledge: knowledge that is acquired and tested through the consistent and systematic application of the scientific method—in contrast with “leaps of faith.”

The scientific method involves carrying out investigations of reality, including through observation and experimentation, to accumulate facts which then are systematized into a theory which gets to what it is that these facts have in common, what patterns they reveal, and what is the essential character of what is involved. Then this theory is tested by applying it once more against the standard of what can be learned through further experimentation and observation proceeding according to this theory, to see if the results are consistently in line with what is predicted by this theory. If, in the application of this scientific method, results are obtained—things are observed or results produced through experiments, and so on—that contradict the theory; if, for example, things can be shown to happen which this theory predicts could not happen; then it must be concluded that the theory is wrong, or at least that it contains flaws (is wrong in some respects). If, however, after repeated testing, from a number of different directions and over a whole period of time, the results continue to be consistently in line with what is predicted by the theory—and no results or observations lead to facts which are in contradiction to the theory, or cannot be explained by it—then it can be concluded that this theory is correct. But, even in achieving the status of a generally accepted scientific theory, any particular theory must not only be subjected to repeated testing but it must also be subjected to review by other scientists, particularly those with knowledge and expertise in the particular field of science that the theory relates to; and if it “passes” that review—if none of these scientists can show that the theory is flawed, or simply wrong, if there are no results which can be shown to contradict the theory and its predictions about reality—then the theory will acquire general acceptance in the scientific community as a valid and true explanation of reality (or that part of reality that the theory deals with).

Now, it is true that the development of scientific theories generally involves the formulation of initial “conjectures” and “preliminary hypotheses” about things—in other words, in a sense scientists often make “informed guesses” about the way something in reality might be, even before they can provide proof of this. But, first of all, even these preliminary hypotheses are themselves based on previously accumulated, and verified, evidence about the way reality actually is—as opposed to “leaps of faith” and religious declarations about things, which we are simply expected to believe without any concrete evidence or the prospect of ever being able to obtain such evidence. Secondly, scientists take their preliminary hypotheses and systematically test them in the real world, and only on that basis are new scientific facts generated which can then contribute to the development of generally accepted scientific theories.

Of course, scientists can, do, and have made mistakes. This has happened not only with individual scientists but at times even with the scientific community in general and those who are regarded as “experts” and “authorities” in various fields of science. Scientists are after all human beings with limitations; they live in and are part of society, and they are influenced in various ways by the ideas which prevail in society at a given time. At the same time, as further knowledge is acquired—as further experimentation and observation goes on, not only in direct relation to a particular theory but in science, and indeed in the world at large—any particular theory will be subjected to continued testing and review, and it may turn out that new things that are learned call into question parts, or in some cases even all, of a particular theory, and then the theory will have to be modified or even completely discarded. But the crucial point is this: The scientific method provides the means for continuing to investigate reality and continuing to learn more about it, and on that basis to correct mistakes that are made.

The understanding of reality that is gained, through the leap from perceptual to rational knowledge, becomes, in turn, the basis, the foundation, from which further perceptual knowledge that is accumulated is analyzed and synthesized to make further leaps of this kind (from perceptual to rational knowledge yet again...and then again...). So the acquiring of knowledge—by individuals and by society and humanity overall—is not a “one‑time” thing, but an ongoing process. This applies to “everyday life” and it applies in a concentrated way with regard to the conscious and systematic application of the scientific method. This relates to another point Mao emphasized: beyond the leap from perceptual knowledge to rational knowledge, there is a further leap—from rational knowledge to practice, in the course of which material reality is changed and further perceptual knowledge is gained, laying the foundation for a further leap to rational knowledge...and on...and on.

A “Leap of Faith” is a Leap Away From
a True Understanding of Reality

In opposition to this, a religious worldview—which insists on a reliance on faith and “leaps of faith” instead of investigation and analysis of the real world and the leap from perceptual to rational knowledge—such a religious worldview cannot lead to a true understanding of reality, and in fact is bound to lead away from such an understanding in fundamental ways. Of course, not all people who are religious are “scriptural literalists”—who insist on an acceptance of the Bible (or some other scripture of some other religion) as the declared word of a supposed all‑powerful and all‑knowing supernatural being and therefore the “absolute truth.” In fact, there are many religious people who accept a good deal of the conclusions of science, and there are more than a few who try to reconcile their belief in some kind of supernatural being with an acceptance of the scientific method and its results, as applied to the realm of material existence. At the same time, however, their religious viewpoint insists that there is some other realm, of non‑material existence, when in fact there is not; and there has never been and could not be evidence offered for the existence of this non‑material realm which could meet the test of scientific investigation. And it is a fact that even those who attempt to reconcile religious belief, of one kind or another, with a general acceptance of the scientific method and the results of applying this method, cannot consistently do so, because those religious beliefs are bound to conflict, at certain times and in certain ways, with the conclusions reached by the application of the scientific method.

The Big Bang, Evolution, and Revolution

Let’s return to a core argument of this letter, as expressed in the part I quoted above. Let’s take what has been said here—contrasting the scientific method with a religious worldview, and contrasting in particular the leap from perceptual to rational knowledge with “leaps of faith”—and apply this to examples the writer of this letter emphasizes: evolution and the Big Bang. It is a fact that evolution and the Big Bang have in common that they are scientific theories that provide explanation for fundamental aspects of the development of the known universe (the universe that is known to human beings) and of our earth and the living things, including human beings, on this earth. (In very basic terms, the Big Bang theory says that the universe, as we know it today, including our earth, originated with a cataclysmic [sudden and violent] explosion of matter billions of years ago.) At the same time, while there is substantial scientific evidence supporting the theory of the Big Bang, the theory of evolution is even more firmly established and has been confirmed by over 150 years of scientific testing and review, since the time that Charles Darwin first systematized the theory of evolution in the 19th century. This includes the understanding that human beings evolved out of a long succession of life-forms that have evolved over several billion years, and it includes clear evidence that human beings and the great apes are closely related biologically, and that in fact they shared common ancestor species from which they diverged along separate evolutionary paths only a few million years ago. The very important series The Science of Evolution, by Ardea Skybreak, which appeared in our Party’s newspaper (and which I understand will be published in the not-too-distant future as a book by Insight Press2), provides a thorough explanation of the theory of evolution and how it has been demonstrated—repeatedly, from many different directions, and by the application of the scientific method in many different fields—to be true; how continuing scientific investigation and summation, from many different fields of science (including genetics as well as the fossil record and many other “fields of scientific inquiry”) continue to validate and provide further evidence for evolution; how there has not ever been a single scientific discovery or verified fact which in any way would disprove evolution or call it into question; how, in sum, evolution is one of the most well-established and fundamental theories in all of science, one of the most fundamental components of a true understanding of reality. And The Science of Evolution also thoroughly exposes and refutes attempts by religious fundamentalists and some others to call evolution into question or to challenge its fundamental truths, through putting forward literal Biblical “Creationism” or “more sophisticated” distortions of reality, such as “Intelligent Design,” which is in fact another variant of “Creationism.”

With this in mind, let’s look at the claim by the writer of this letter that evolution, no less than the Big Bang, is “just as much a leap of faith as the biblical version of creation.” From all that has been said so far, it should be clear that this statement is utterly and completely false. Evolution has been shown to be true and has been continually further verified, by application of the scientific method—which, again, involves definite leaps from perceptual to rational knowledge but involves nothing of a “leap of faith.” In fact, “leaps of faith” are alien to, and are in direct conflict with and violation of, the scientific method—and if it can be shown that, as opposed to a logical leap from perceptual to rational knowledge, a scientific theory actually involved “a leap of faith” which by definition could not be substantiated, or even tested, by scientific methods, that theory would immediately be understood to be invalid according to the standards of science and the scientific method. There are no “leaps of faith” in the scientific method, and there is no “leap of faith” in the theory of evolution; its findings and the means by which they have been arrived at (and are continually being further verified and validated), are in direct opposition to “leaps of faith” and to the notion of an understanding of reality that relies on such “leaps of faith” and on “faith” as some kind of means for arriving at the truth about reality. Therefore, when I (and, more significantly for this discussion, the overwhelming, overwhelming majority of scientists in the field of biology and more generally people in the scientific community) declare, without hesitation, that “Evolution is a fact!”—this may annoy the writer of this letter and upset his religious prejudices, but that does not make it any less true that evolution is, indeed, a fact.

And by now it should also be clear what is fundamentally wrong with the comment by the writer of this letter that, “since no one was there to record the Big Bang, it too is just as much a leap of faith as the biblical version of creation.” While (at least to my understanding) the Big Bang, as a scientific theory, is not as well substantiated and verified as evolution—and while there is definitely much more to be learned about the origins and developments of the universe (or perhaps many different universes), and people in the field of physics (or other sciences) would be the first to say this—it is not at all the case that the theory of the Big Bang is just as much a matter of a “leap of religious faith” as the myth of biblical creation. First of all, the story of creation, as told in the book of Genesis in the Bible, is simply wrong—it is clearly contradicted by many scientifically established facts in many particular details and in its overall presentation—not the least of which is the fact that it can be shown, scientifically, that the earth is billions of years old, not a few thousand years old, that the earth revolves around the sun, and that many other forms of plant and animal species existed long before human beings first appeared on earth. In opposition to this biblical creation myth, while (again, to my understanding) the Big Bang theory has not been as thoroughly verified by scientific methods as evolution has, it is certainly not the case that the Big Bang theory is, at this point at least, contradicted, in its main features, by scientific understanding and by results arrived at through the scientific method—as, again, is definitely the case with the biblically based myth of creation.

It is of course true that no human being was around at the time of the Big Bang. But this does not invalidate the Big Bang theory or reduce it to “an article of faith” like the biblically based myth of creation. Human beings come to know many things about reality which we do not directly experience or witness. The Big Bang theory has in fact been formulated and developed through a process (which is ongoing) of proceeding from things that have already been clearly established and demonstrated, from many directions, to be true, and “putting these things together” to draw a conclusion about the larger reality that these things are part of. In other words, there is indeed a leap involved here—but, once again, it is not a “leap of faith,” or anything like it, but a leap from evidence to a conclusion about what the evidence shows to be true.

In short, in developing the Big Bang theory, scientists in the fields of astronomy and physics, and other fields, have proceeded from what they do know—what has been scientifically established and tested and verified—about the universe to draw further inferences and conclusions about the universe, including its origins. And at every stage in the development of this scientific theory (as in all scientific theories), these inferences and conclusions have to be, and are, subjected to further testing in reality before they can be raised to the level of a verified theory and gain general acceptance. The Big Bang theory is a work in progress, but it is not idle speculation: the very questions it poses and explores, the research it stimulates, and the concrete facts it has so far helped to uncover are based on previously accumulated scientific evidence about reality. And this once again marks a profound difference between the scientific method and “religious faith”—since the latter, by definition, does not draw its conclusions, or make its assertions, based on a scientific investigation of and summation of actual reality and cannot, by definition, be tested by scientific methods. In contrast to the biblical creation story of the origin of the universe, the fact is that the Big Bang theory is being continually subjected to further scientific “probing” and analysis. Even though it is true that no human being was present at the time that scientists have calculated that the Big Bang occurred (about 15 billion years ago) the development of new technology—including more powerful telescopes and related instruments, which can be sent into space to record things—has enabled scientists to learn much more about what happened at a time which was shortly after the time when the Big Bang is believed to have occurred, at a point in space far from where our earth now exists. (“Shortly” in this context means something like a billion years, which is not that great a time span in the context of the universe and its development. The reason that scientists are able, in this way, to “see far into the past” in the universe’s development has to do with the relation between time and space. Since things that are observed by human beings—directly or with the aid of telescopes and similar instruments—are “transmitted” to us through the medium of light, and at the speed of light, things that occurred long ago but also a long distance from the observer take a long time to reach the observer, even though the speed of light is very fast compared to other everyday movements we are familiar with. For example, if you are in a thunderstorm, you will see a lightning bolt before you hear the thunder connected with it, even though the two actually are part of one phenomenon and actually occurred at the same time. The reason you see the lightning first is that lightning travels at the speed of light, which is much faster than the speed of sound which brings the noise of the thunder.)

What scientists have learned through this “looking back in time,” getting ever closer to the time when the Big Bang is believed to have occurred, has tended to substantiate (to back up and further confirm) the Big Bang theory, even while it has raised new questions relating to all this. But once more the crucial fact here, in relation to what is raised by the writer of this letter—and, more importantly, in relation to fundamental questions concerning what is truth and how human beings arrive at knowledge of the truth, and test that knowledge—is that in no way does this increasing knowledge relating to the origins of the known universe have anything to do with the application of religious principles or “leaps of faith.” In fact, once again this increasing knowledge—arrived at through scientific methods and logical leaps from perceptual to rational knowledge that are consistent with and part of the scientific method—is in contradiction to, and refutes the biblically based myth of creation, further providing evidence that it is exactly that: a myth, invented several thousand years ago, by human beings who lacked knowledge of how the universe (as we know it), the earth, and the living things on the earth (including human beings) actually came into being.

*****

Knowing about actual reality—and continually learning more about it—is vitally important for humanity and its future; it is vitally important not only for people in the sciences and the academic world but for the brutally oppressed and exploited people of the earth, who must and can be the backbone and driving force of a revolution to throw off and put an end to all forms of exploitation and oppression, throughout the globe—to be the emancipators not only of themselves but ultimately of all humanity. Confronting reality as it actually is—and as it is changing and developing—and understanding the underlying and driving forces in this, is crucial in order to play a decisive and leading role in bringing about this revolution and ushering in a whole new era in human history, which will shatter and remove forever not only the material chains—the economic, social and political shackles of exploitation and oppression—that enslave people in today’s world but also the mental chains, the ways of thinking and the culture, that correspond to and reinforce those material chains. In the Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, who founded the communist movement over 150 years ago, declared that the communist revolution, and its emancipating principles, methods, and aims, involves a “radical rupture” not only with the traditional property relations that enslave people, in one form or another, but also a radical rupture with all traditional ideas that reflect and reinforce those traditional property relations.

The struggle in the realm of epistemology—the theory of knowledge and how it is acquired by people, the theory of what is true and how people come to know the truth—is a crucial arena in the overall battle for the emancipation of the oppressed and exploited majority of humanity, and ultimately of humanity as a whole. Grasping the defining characteristics and the importance of the scientific method—and, most of all, the most consistent, systematic and comprehensive scientific approach to reality, the communist world outlook and method, which can embrace without replacing or suffocating the many fields of human knowledge and endeavor and can give expression to the richest process of learning about reality and transforming it in the interests of humanity—is of vital importance for this emancipatory struggle. Understanding the profound difference between the attempt to impose “faith-based” notions on reality and, in opposition to that, pursuing a scientific understanding of reality, including of religion and its origins and effects—understanding the radical difference between “leaps of faith” and the ongoing acquisition of knowledge through continual leaps from perceptual knowledge to rational knowledge—this is a crucial part of carrying forward the struggle to achieve the two radical ruptures that mark the communist revolution as the leap to a whole new, liberating era in human history.

Notes:

1. Audio files of the talk “God Does Not Exist—We Need Liberation Without Gods” are available online at bobavakian.net.

2. This series has now been published as a book: Ardea Skybreak, The Science of Evolution and the Myth of Creationism—Knowing What’s Real and Why It Matters, Insight Press, 2006.

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/476/rnc-16-hearing-on-motion-to-dismiss-misdemeanor-charges-en.html

Revolution #476 January 30, 2017

RNC 16 Hearing on Motion to Dismiss Misdemeanor Charges

January 30, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

When the people resist, the rulers attack. And when movements of the people raise fundamental questions about the nature and legitimacy of that system—and provide leadership to overthrow that system and bring into being a whole better world, as Joey Johnson and the RNC 16 have done, the rulers attack ruthlessly. The response must be to fight against these attacks every inch of the way, further exposing the nature of the system and bringing forward more and more people to defend the resisters and to resist themselves.

****

Joey Johnson Flag Burning Cleveland RNC

Joey Johnson with the support of the Revolution Club burned the American flag outside the Republican National Convention to protest the toxic chauvinism and reactionary ideas of all stripes surrounding Trump's nomination. Joey Johnson said, "We're standing here with the people of the world."

On January 26 in Cleveland, in a courtroom packed with the RNC 16 defendants, attorneys, supporters, and several media outlets that came and recorded the entire hearing, the arguments for the defendants’ motion to dismiss all the misdemeanor charges against the RNC 16 were heard. The RNC 16, along with Joey Johnson, were arrested and charged off of the burning of the American flag at the Republican National Convention (RNC) last summer that nominated the fascist Trump.

The attorneys for the RNC 16 presented a compelling case as to why the charges should be dismissed. This included putting Cleveland Police Chief Williams and a police lieutenant on the stand. Both of them had been subpoenaed by the RNC 16 attorneys to appear in court. They testified with their “alternative facts” and spun their outrageous and at times ridiculous lies and justifications for the illegal, pre-emptive, brutal assault and arrests of the defendants. This was challenged and exposed throughout their testimony, with the defendants’ attorney using the Cleveland Police Department’s own documents regarding political protests during the RNC, along with the CPD’s own audio tapes and written police reports, to impeach their testimony. Further revelations came out in their testimony about the surveillance of the Revolution Club before and during the RNC. As a surprise witness, Joey Johnson testified, refuting the lies of the police. After Williams’ testi-lying, the attorney for the defendants stated that the “chaos” Williams attempted to blame on the defendants for that day was a product of the illegal actions of the police who were rushing in their attempt to prevent Joey Johnson from burning the American flag.

Late the night before the hearing, several cars arrived in Cleveland, packed with some of the RNC 16 and other Revolution Club members who had been in Washington, DC, days in advance of the inauguration of the Trump-Pence regime. They had been marching all day and all night—saying “No! In the Name of Humanity, We Refuse to Accept a Fascist America” and calling people into the streets to stop this regime from coming to power. On the day before the Cleveland hearing, they had participated in the protest in DC outside the court appearances of those who were arrested for disrupting Congress at the confirmation hearing for the white supremacist attorney general-select Jeff Sessions, demanding all those charges be dropped. Then they jumped into the cars to head for this important hearing in Cleveland.

The day was kicked off with the RNC 16 and supporters chanting and marching in front of the Cleveland INjustice Center courthouse before going in to court. There was an air of anticipation as well as seriousness as the defendants and supporters came into the courtroom with the understanding that this hearing (as well as the continued prosecution of the two RNC defendants facing serious felony charges) is one of the first legal challenges under the Trump-Pence regime to the criminalization of political protests, and in particular flag burning as a constitutionally protected expression of free speech. This hearing was coming on the heels of the prosecutor being forced to drop assault charges against Joey Johnson and one other RNC defendant just two weeks prior.

While we will be writing with more analysis of this hearing and what was exposed and revealed, here are the highlights:

The hearing opened with one of the RNC 16 attorneys, Michael Murray, arguing on behalf of all the defendants, stating the purpose and aim of the decision of Joey Johnson and the Revolution Club to go to the entrance of the Republican National Convention on the very day that Donald Trump was being selected as their presidential candidate to burn the American flag was based on their “strongly held views about society and the RNC,” and he repeated for the judge the chant they did before and during the flag burning: “1, 2, 3, 4, slavery, genocide and war. 5, 6, 7, 8, America was never great!” He stated the timing of this action came at the most important juncture in the nation, for the Republican National Convention and Donald Trump, and the defendants had an extremely important message they wanted the world to see.

Cleveland Chief Pig Williams Exposed as He Testi-lies

The first called to the stand was Cleveland Chief Pig Williams. After being shown key documents outlining the policies and procedures prepared by the CPD as well as other agencies to ensure the rights and safety of those who wanted to conduct constitutionally protected political protests, including flag burning and the responsibility of the law enforcement agencies in carrying this out, Williams arrogantly declared that all his officers as well as all the other law enforcement agencies who had come to Cleveland in their thousands, went through extensive training and were fully aware of these policies, including that flag burning is a constitutionally protected free speech expression.

In response, Murray showed him the press release announcing Joey Johnson’s intention to burn the flag, and asked what preparations were made by the CPD and other agencies to ensure Johnson’s ability to carry out this political protest safely and successfully. Williams denied knowing in advance about this flag burning, declaring that had the CPD known, he would have ensured that Johnson would be able to carry out the flag burning safely. When confronted with the police report written by his lieutenant stating: “Open Source information was forwarded to officers working the crowd management detail warning that members of a group that identified themselves as ‘rev.com’ were advertising a flag burning to take place at E. 4th and Prospect at 1600 hours,” Williams could only say he was not aware in advance of this action.

Williams was also shown the photo of a defendant taken immediately after she was arrested holding a whiteboard, which stated that her charge was “desecration of a flag.” He weakly claimed that the final charges are determined by the prosecution, as she is now charged with failure to comply with a lawful order and aggravated disorderly conduct, not desecration of a flag. The fact remains that the police illegally and brutally arrested her for “desecration of a flag,” which is a constitutionally protected expression of free speech. (That is, it is not illegal to desecrate a flag, so the prosecutor changed the charge.)

       

As to why these defendants were arrested, Williams stated that when he arrived on the scene after the flag burning, “there was total chaos,” so he declared the scene an unlawful assembly and issued an order for everyone to disburse and that these defendants failed to comply with that order. When Murray asked him to describe who was in the area at the time the dispersal order was given, Williams stated that there were hundreds of people, citizens and media. When asked if all those other people left after the dispersal order was given, Williams would not say, stating there was lots of media and he couldn’t tell the difference between people and media, thus admitting that there were many people who did not comply with the dispersal order. At that point it was clear to everyone sitting in court that the only people arrested and facing charges arising from this flag burning were those singled out by the police and other law enforcement agencies for participating in the flag burning.

The CPD lieutenant was called to the stand, and after testifying that he had reviewed and been trained under all the guidelines that Williams testified were in place for the RNC, this cop was then shown the supplemental police report he wrote the day after the arrests, which included the above-referenced statement shown to Williams. He stated that he was aware that Joey Johnson was planning to burn the flag at the announced time and place. He also confirmed that he had written in the same report: “Open flames and burning of any sort were deemed prohibited by the City of Cleveland in the RNC event zone.” Based on this statement, he decided that the flag burning should be stopped. He admitted that he went to the location and “as soon as they began to and lit the fire” he went in to extinguish it. Murray then introduced into evidence and played for the whole courtroom the video of the flag burning, which clearly showed him (in the white shirt) pushing through the crowd and the Revolution Club’s safety circle, as he attempted to stop the flag burning even before the flag was set on fire. Up until then, the safety circle had been secure. As Murray stated, the safety circle was collapsed by the actions of the lieutenant and the dozens and dozens of other cops from various agencies who charged in, brutally assaulting and attacking the protesters.

The lieutenant pig also admitted in court that the CPD immediately began following the revcoms as they headed for the location of the protest. (As you can see from the video, the revcoms only put on their distinctive black BA Speaks: Revolution—Nothing Less! shirts when they arrived at the RNC entrance as they formed their safety circle.) When asked how the CPD was able to identify the revcoms while they were en route, he stated that they were “advised by undercovers who pointed them out.” When questioned by Murray as to who were these undercovers, he stated that “these undercovers were mostly CPD,” and went on to admit and acknowledge under questioning that there were many other police agencies involved, including the FBI and Secret Service. Earlier, Chief Pig Williams admitted that the revcoms were very well known to him well before the RNC, from the end of 2014 (Williams became the pig chief in 2014), and that in the CPD preparations going into the RNC, the revcoms were discussed.

The last to testify was Joey Johnson, who described what happened at the gates of the RNC on July 20. He described starting with agitation explaining why he and the Revolution Club were there and why he was burning the American flag. He went on to describe how the safety circle was intact and it was clearly safe for him to burn the flag. Yet within seconds of the flag being lit, he saw the police charging in on him and he was grabbed from behind and put in a chokehold while he was holding the flag. He testified that he was not burned and no one was on “fire.”

The hearing concluded with Michael Murray stating in part: “We live in an age and a climate, it seems to me, where the right of freedom of speech has never been more important than it is today. And the protests that occurred in July in the City of Cleveland by these defendants to express their disapproval with what the RNC was about to do is among the most important political speech that any citizen can express ... and should be afforded the highest protection.”

Following the filing of post-hearing briefs, the judge will render his decision. After the hearing, several media outlets interviewed Joey Johnson.

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/476/steve-bannon-white-supremacist-christian-fascist-neo-nazi-en.html

Revolution #476 January 30, 2017

Steve Bannon: White Supremacist, Christian Fascist Neo-Nazi at Core of Trump-Pence Regime

January 30, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

We must stop this pig-headed Hydra Trump-Pence regime

A Teen Vogue magazine editor aptly described the Trump-Pence regime as a “pig-headed hydra”—and one of the main heads of this fascist monstrosity is Steve Bannon. Among Trump’s first acts after his election was to appoint Bannon, who headed up his campaign, as chief strategist and senior counselor. Before taking the reins of Trump’s campaign, Bannon was the owner and hands-on force behind the ultra-reactionary website Breitbart News Network and was closely associated with the so-called “alt-right”—which should just actually be called what it is, neo-Nazi.

Under Bannon, Breitbart spewed out all kinds of racist, anti-women, anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, anti-critical thinking poison that served to rile and pull together a lot of the base for what has become the Trump-Pence regime. One example: After white racist Dylann Roof—who posed online with Nazi symbols and the Confederate flag—massacred nine Black people at a Charleston, South Carolina, church, Breitbart came out with an article titled “Hoist It High And Proud: The Confederate Flag Proclaims A Glorious Heritage.”

When Trump named Bannon to the White House inner circle, David Duke—former KKK “imperial wizard”—called it “excellent” and said, “You have an individual, Mr. Bannon, who’s basically creating the ideological aspects of where we’re going. And ideology ultimately is the most important aspect of any government.”

While VP Mike Pence’s theocratic fanaticism is fairly well known, there is also a major Christian fascist element to what Bannon is about. In a talk that Bannon gave two years ago at a conference held inside the Vatican, he quite clearly laid out a “holy war” perspective of “Judeo-Christian capitalism” versus Islam. He traced this back to religious wars of the past and in the process accused “secularism” of sapping the “strength” of the West.

Since the Trump-Pence regime’s assumption of the reins of power, Bannon’s powerful role has become even clearer. According to the Wall Street Journal, Bannon, along with another top adviser, wrote Trump’s inaugural speech—which, along with his speech at the CIA a day later, made chillingly clear the regime’s determination to radically and quickly reorder the current political order in the U.S. into fascism.

In an interview with the New York Times, Bannon ratcheted up the Trump-Pence regime’s Nazi-style attacks on the press by declaring, “The media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while.... The media here is the opposition party.” The message and threat was clear: The media should just “report” what is coming out of the Trump-Pence White House. And any real questioning of this, any stepping out of line by journalists will be met with being shut out of the regime’s press events... or worse.

An executive order signed by Trump on January 27 on the reorganization of the National Security Council (NSC) named Bannon to play a key role in this crucial body, while deemphasizing the role of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Director of National Intelligence. The NSC is supposed to bring together cabinet, military, and spy agency officials to give high-level advice to the president and implement decisions. A Washington Post op-ed noted, “The NSC is effectively the central nervous system of the U.S. foreign policy and national security apparatus.”

Clearly, this white-supremacist, Christian fascist neo-Nazi is increasingly playing a central role in the Trump-Pence regime.

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/476/protest-action-in-the-mixteca-oaxaca-mexico-en.html

Revolution #476 January 30, 2017

Revcom.us/Revolution received the following report in Spanish from Aurora Roja, voice of the Organización Comunista Revolucionaria, Mexico. The translation is the responsibility of revcom.us/Revolution.

Protest Action in the Mixteca, Oaxaca, Mexico:
NO! In the Name of Humanity, We Refuse to Accept a Fascist America

January 28, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Tlaxiaco, Oaxaca, Mexico, January 20, 2017. On the day of Trump's inauguration, we held a political-cultural protest rally and speak-out in unity with the Call "NO! In the Name of Humanity, We Refuse to Accept a Fascist America" from the Refuse Fascism initiative (RefuseFascism.org; @RefuseFascism). The Movimiento Popular Revolucionario (Revolutionary People’s Movement), a student from the U.S., youths from the hip hop culture, active and retired teachers, a young trova musician, painters, and others who supported with car horns and microphones gathered in the park of this town in the Mixteca to proclaim, "Get out Trump! Get out [Mexican president] Peña Nieto! Down with the whole system!"

We put up a banner made by painters with the fascist Trump’s face and the slogan "Get out Trump! Get out Peña Nieto! Down with the whole system!” We pasted sheets of paper on poster board to make a wall newspaper that was hung on a rope tied to the trees of the park with the call of RefuseFascism.org, several posters that we downloaded from revcom.us (of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA), exposing the fascism of the Trump-Pence regime, as well as other posters against women’s oppression, about Ayotzinapa with Peña Nieto behind bars, the poster of the Proclamation "Prepare the Revolution!" of the Organización Comunista Revolucionaria, Mexico (OCR,M; Revolutionary Communist Organization), and the flyer "The truth on the fascists Trump and Pence, and the necessary fight to stop them" (available at aurora-roja.blogspot.com).

Dozens of people approached and read the wall newspaper. The people there or who were passing by came up to take flyers, contribute and to express an opinion against Trump, and many consider him a danger for Mexico. Among students, shopkeepers, teachers, some peasants, and other youths who were hanging around, we handed out hundreds of fliers from Aurora Roja, the voice of the OCR, M, against Trump and Pence, the Proclamation, and a leaflet on the recent gasolinazo [sharp January 1 price increase for gasoline] and the widespread protest it provoked. When talking to some people, they said that they have relatives or acquaintances in different places in the United States and that they are worried about what they see is going to come with the deportations. Some asked for leaflets to take to others. A teacher said that she has already seen us in other events and that it is very good this protest was held. She said that a revolutionary change is needed and that we should contact her. One student said it was very good this event was being held, because no one else does so. Overall, we talked to people who were worried and repudiated the Mexican government and president Peña Nieto for conciliating with the U.S. fascist government.

At the rally, two compañeros from the Movimiento Popular Revolucionario (MPR) exposed what Trump represents: a fascist, racist, macho, misogynist, and homophobe. He is threatening to expel millions of Mexican and Central American migrants who he accuses of being criminals; he threatens to knock down the rights women have won such as the right to abortion, and to do away with the right of lesbian, gay and trans people to love each other, get married, and live without fear. He denies the proven fact of global warming and will accelerate the voracious destruction of the environment. He is an imperialist predator: Trump openly defends the use of torture and threatens to use nuclear weapons. He is a danger and a threat to all humanity.

They also exposed the Mexican state represented by Peña Nieto as a criminal government subordinate to U.S. imperialism, which represents the interests of the foreign and Mexican big capitalists. They called on people to support the demonstrations of people in struggle in the United States against Trump and the fight in Mexico against the system, and to transform people for communist revolution. They said that the problem is this world capitalist-imperialist system and the solution is communist revolution, a new society with another economy where no longer do a few live off of the work of others, where the armed forces and police forces truly give their life for the people, instead of taking it away, as they have done in Ayotzinapa, Nochixtlán, Tlatlaya, and so many other places in Mexico. They called on people to link up with the Call "NO! In the Name of Humanity, We REFUSE To Accept a Fascist America." The slogan "Get out Trump! Get out Peña Nieto! Down with the whole system!" was also shouted out.

The student from the United States exposed the fascist character of Trump and his goal to go back to having a more powerful United States. He exposed how the U.S. became a power: it massacred the Indians and stole their lands, it enslaved Black people for 250 years, and stole half of Mexico's territory. He also said that in the United States, the police are constantly murdering Blacks and Latinos; the jails are full of more Black and Latino youths than anywhere else; and reactionary armies have invaded and looted people throughout history. He said that another society is necessary and possible, as expressed by the compañeros of the MPR. It is right and good that this event has been organized in Tlaxiaco. He finished with the slogan "Get out Trump! Down with the system! Up with revolution!"

There were several cultural presentations. A young troubadour sang songs while playing guitar and called on people to participate in this fight. A young rapper also sang and called on people to read the wall newspaper and join the fight. The compañero from the U.S. also sang a song in English with guitar and a few words in Spanish: Bob Marley/Peter Tosh's song "Get up, Stand up."

The event ended at 8 p.m. with a man who requested the microphone and exposed that the problem of why we are in this situation is due to the state and the church. He made a call to organize, get informed and participate. From the news we learned that in the city of Oaxaca, a few hundred Americans held a demonstration denouncing the Trump regime, in addition to demonstrations that took place in Mexico City and other cities in Mexico, important protests in the United States and around the world.

In the face of the fascist Trump-Pence regime, criminals like Peña Nieto who are conciliating with this fascist regime, and capitalism and imperialism in general, we are fighting for the unity and combative mobilization of the masses of people on both sides of the border and throughout the world.

NO! In the name of humanity, we refuse to accept a fascist America

Get out Trump! Get out Peña Nieto! Down with the whole system!

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/476/trump-criminalizes-millions-of-immigrants-and-threatens-sanctuary-cities-en.html

Revolution #476 January 30, 2017

High Stakes in Trump's War on Sanctuary Jurisdictions

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/475/coming-to-grips-with-the-new-situation-en.html

Revolution #476 January 30, 2017

A Letter from Carl Dix, Sunsara Taylor, and Andy Zee

Coming to Grips with the New Situation

January 25, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

This letter was updated by the authors on February 15, 2017.

 

As the three people who kicked off refusefascism.org, we write today to all who have taken up the Call: In the Name of Humanity, We REFUSE To Accept a Fascist America, and to everyone following the campaign. We can say now, January 25, that the Trump-Pence fascist regime has basically assumed the reins of power. Every day they carry through some new outrage, be it in the realm of reactionary and repressive executive orders or appointments or proposed legislation, in threats of war or the re-legalization of torture, or in the almost equally dangerous assertion of their “alternative facts” (that is, their lies) as the truth. They surely have more, and worse, yet to come. Right now the ruling class is—some grudgingly and some enthusiastically—either going along with this or at most offering petty amendments.

That does NOT mean that the possibility of ousting this regime through truly massive action is over, and that all people can do is work on local projects or hope for some pendulum swing somewhere down the road—while Trump-Pence carry out truly monstrous things and put the whole planet in jeopardy. Far from it. Precisely because this regime is fascist and a qualitative change from the “normal workings” of this system, and because millions of people—correctly—view this regime as utterly illegitimate, the possibility of crisis erupting at any time is great. There could be some new outrage—an attack from the Trump-Pence fascists on some section of the people which calls forth resistance and pushes people into the streets in a mushrooming sort of dynamic. There could be a conflict within the ruling class brought on by some move of Trump deemed by others at the top to be too risky, posing too much of a threat to the functioning of the established order and to what they see as their imperialist interests. We should all keep this in mind and remain tense and attuned to seize on even the hints of such possibilities.

But the period when millions could be directly summoned into the street to prevent the consolidation of Trump-Pence is drawing to a close. The regime has achieved a relative stability, and things will be proceeding on that basis—of a fascist regime in power rapidly working to impose fascism. This is not the reality we worked and fought to bring into being, but it is the reality that humanity faces; we did not achieve our objective, and that has consequences. So it is important now to take stock.

Refusefascism.org

A little over a month ago, supporters of the Revolutionary Communist Party united with other people into refusefascism.org to initiate an effort to “stop the regime before it starts.” Together, we put out a Call for millions to recognize the fascist nature of the regime and to start taking the streets in early January. This was possible based on the anger manifested in the street demonstrations directly after the election and the continuing anguish even after those died down.

The Call to Act set out a goal and a realistically founded means to get there, stating:

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 the 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. (See full Call to Act.)

Accompanying this call was the mission and plan that drew from history and an understanding of the basis for sudden “jolts” in society to make the case for HOW this might be done, why it could work and what would have to be done to make it happen. Hundreds of people took this up, thousands more supported it, and millions were reached with this basic message. Many other forces, with different strategies and goals but also strongly opposed to Trump-Pence, also began to mobilize and fight against the prospect of what this regime would do. People raised their voices and fought hard, many were arrested, and the legitimacy of this regime was called into question deeply enough that Trump still feels forced to continually (and defensively) insist on it. Yet both the necessary level of struggle (millions in the streets, night after night) and the necessary kind of struggle (breaking out of the confines of the normal channels) that refusefascism.org aimed for did not materialize.

Then, this past weekend, two big things happened. On Friday, Trump was inaugurated and from the first minutes of his speech he made sharply clear that he would indeed rule as a fascist. On Saturday, millions of people worldwide turned out for the Women’s March to express their revulsion and opposition to Trump, in an unprecedented mobilization against the new regime.

On the basis of these two new factors in the situation, we and others in Refuse Fascism still hoped to be able to call out sufficient numbers of those who had been mobilized, and get the dynamic going early in the week where this would snowball and create the necessary conditions where, despite the inauguration, the regime could not consolidate itself. (See "The world changed this weekend.") We knew, and stated, that this was a long shot, but it was a shot worth taking, given what is at stake. Had it succeeded, a huge danger would have been averted and a new point of departure would have been achieved from which to go forward in struggle. But now, more than midway through the week, it is clear that it has not.

The New Juncture

So we stand at a new juncture. The regime is in power, and moving quickly. At the same time, millions have registered their opposition and many are looking for a way to fight. Over these next few weeks, revcom.us will be covering the regime and the resistance to it with the same intensity and level of analysis that we have since the election.

Right now it is very important that those who came together around refusefascism.org stay together, reflect on and sum up the rich experience of the past six weeks, and develop new strategy. As one key element of this, it will be important to join with and at times initiate actions against the outrages continually perpetrated by Trump, reaching out to others and sharing perspectives with them.

For the two bedrock points from which we joined with others to start this initiative remain true. One, that this regime is indeed fascist and as such poses a mortal threat and must be defeated. And two, that there are people—millions and tens of millions—who can potentially be mobilized to fight against it and who must be led to step outside the confines of politics-as-usual (including protest-as-usual) to actually OUST this horrendous monstrosity.

Finally, moving into a new phase, it is important to look at what WAS done, as well as what was not. In the space of a month, people came together in refusefascism.org to develop and get out the Call to Act, and Mission and Plan that clearly assessed the danger and illegitimacy of this regime and sounded the alarm about its fascist nature. Refusefascism.org held emergency meetings in the week before Christmas, bringing together people of many different viewpoints, united around the shared goal of preventing Trump-Pence from ruling. Thousands of signatures were garnered, including prominent voices in society, and together we raised the money to print the call to act in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and elsewhere and get it before millions. We struggled for people to understand that what we face right now goes beyond all the truly horrible things that this regime has already begun to do and actually constitutes a fascist re-ordering of society with even more dire consequences, and got this understanding out in one form or another to literally millions. Refuse Fascism developed and popularized the NO! symbol. We united people to step out in so many different ways (in cultural programs, in forums, in school walkouts, getting out the wonderful videos and memes on social media, etc.) during the short time between New Year’s and January 20. Volunteers from refusefascism.org left their homes to go to DC weeks early to fight for this (even getting arrested and abused in doing so). Our message got into the media, from Fox News to the Amsterdam News in Harlem, from Pacifica Radio to Allhiphop.com and all kinds of other places, whether in in-depth interviews or contentious exchanges with reactionaries or the posters with the NO! symbol that popped up on the network and cable news and in the print media during the week leading into the inauguration; and people created from scratch a dynamic social media presence. Refusefascism.org brought together scientists, cultural figures, activists of different viewpoints, clergy of all different denominations and nationalities, designers, former political prisoners, scholars and many others in a beginning community of resistance—and we forged a model of relating diametrically opposed to that of Trump-Pence and their minions. As part of that, we discussed and wrangled over and debated out how we got to into this situation, about this system and its dynamics and how it could be changed and whether there is a whole other and better way we could be living.

All this strengthens the basis from which to fight forward. That is no small thing. And that is what we now must do.

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/469/sparks-of-outrage-and-protest-potential-for-mass-resistance-to-stop-the-fascists-from-consolidating-power-en.html

Revolution #476 January 30, 2017

Sparks of Outrage and Protest Against the Fascist Trump-Pence Regime

Updated September 15, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

A fascist regime that represents an unprecedented danger to humanity has assumed the reins of power in the U.S. Starting right from the inaugural speech and every day since then, the Trump-Pence regime has carried through new outrages—and they surely have more to come. Right now, the different forces in the ruling class are either supporting this enthusiastically or going along with at most a few petty amendments.

As Carl Dix, Sunsara Taylor, and Andy Zee—three people who kicked off refusefascism.org—said in their January 25 letter: “That does NOT mean that the possibility of ousting this regime through truly massive action is over, and that all people can do is work on local projects or hope for some pendulum swing somewhere down the road—while Trump-Pence carry out truly monstrous things and put the whole planet in jeopardy. Far from it. Precisely because this regime is fascist and a qualitative change from the ‘normal workings’ of this system, and because millions of people—correctly—view this regime as utterly illegitimate, the possibility of crisis erupting at any time is great....”

And they also noted: “So we stand at a new juncture. The regime is in power, and moving quickly. At the same time, millions have registered their opposition and many are looking for a way to fight. Over these next few weeks, revcom.us will be covering the regime and the resistance to it with the same intensity and level of analysis that we have since the election.”

There are millions who hate what is represented by this fascist regime, and some of this outrage continues to surface in different kinds of resistance, as seen here on this page. There are also many in different spheres—academia, sciences, arts and entertainment, journalism, and others—who are raising their voices against Trump-Pence and their fascist outrages. See these voices here. It’s crucial to grasp that these sparks and voices represent a much bigger and broader anger and opposition to the fascist regime.

We encourage Revolution/revcom.us readers to send us news and reports, pictures, and videos of the ways people are resisting (send to: revolution.reports@yahoo.com).

 


"This Is Not Normal"

 

Some recent protests...



Flagburner Gregory "Joey" Johnson speaking in San Francisco, December 10, 2016.

Protest of Dakota Access Pipeline at Standing Rock, December 10, Los Angeles.Protest of Dakota Access Pipeline at Standing Rock, December 10, Los Angeles. Photo: Special to revcom.us

Boston student walkout, December 5
Student walkout in Boston, December 5. Photo: Twitter/campuslately

 

Texas students join thousands to protest neo-Nazi Richard Spencer, December 6Hundreds of A&M students with homemade placards and banners joined thousands of people to protest neo-Nazi (aka "alt-right") Richard Spencer, December 6. (AP photo)

December 7--Japanese American community groups led a protest in the Little Tokyo neighborhood of Los Angeles to oppose Trump's threats against Muslims and immigrants.
December 7—Japanese American community groups led a protest in the Little Tokyo neighborhood of Los Angeles to oppose Trump's threats against Muslims and immigrants. Photo: Twitter/@josie_huang

Earlier Sparks of Outrage and Protest

~~~~~~~~~~

On Saturday, December 10, in San Francisco, 500 people marched in the rain to deliver the message “This Is Not Normal!” The action was initiated by people who had never organized a protest before. The march involved a broad range: people from the LGBT community, tech workers, students, artists, feminists, and others. The Revolution Club led many chants taken up by the march, like “We will not conciliate! We will not accommodate! We will not collaborate!” and read the statement “In the Name of Humanity, We REFUSE to Accept a Fascist America” from the rally stage. Joey Johnson, revolutionary communist and notorious flag burner, spoke to the huge stakes for humanity in stopping the fascists, and pointed to Trump’s threat to jail and strip citizenship from people burning the American flag as one concentration of the fascist program.

On the same day, in Los Angeles, thousands of people from many walks of life converged downtown to demand the complete stop of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). The DAPL threatens the water source for the Standing Rock Sioux people and sites that are important to their culture, and if completed will add significantly to the the global climate change endangering the planet. More than 600 copies of Revolution newspaper were distributed along the march, and hundreds of people carried posters declaring “In the Name of Humanity, We REFUSE to Accept a Fascist America.”

On Monday, December 5, hundreds of Boston high school and college students walked out of classes and rallied at Boston Commons. According to the Boston Globe, the students delivered a list of demands to the Massachusetts governor and the Boston mayor, “to protect minorities and immigrants, support public education, and denounce white nationalists who have been energized by a Trump victory.”

Trump has threatened to immediately deport millions of immigrants and cancel Obama’s temporary deferrals of deportations of young undocumented people. In response, students across the country are organizing and acting—through walkouts, rallies, and petition campaigns—to demand that their schools become “sanctuary campuses” that protect undocumented immigrants, as well as LGBT people and other who may come under attack from the government as well as fascist mobs. (See “Students Across the County Demand Sanctuary Campuses: Schools Should Be Safe Zones from Fascist Attacks—No Matter What”)

On December 6, at Texas A&M University, neo-Nazi leader Richard Spencer’s appearance on the campus was met with righteous protest by hundreds of students and hundreds of others from Houston, Austin, and other cities and towns in Texas. This school is known as one of the most conservative state universities in the country—so this raucous protest of thousands was very significant. (See “Thousands Protest Neo-Nazi Richard Spencer at Texas A&M”)

On December 7, on the anniversary of the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor that began the war between U.S. and Japan, a number of Japanese American community organizations in Los Angeles led a protest in the Little Tokyo neighborhood against Trump’s attack on immigrants and Muslims. They compared what Trump is saying and threatening to the U.S. government’s vilification, mass round-ups, and imprisonment in concentration camps of people of Japanese ancestry during World War 2. There were calls for Little Tokyo to become a sanctuary for those singled out by Trump, and for people to “put their bodies” between those targeted and the authorities. 

The Jewish group IfNotNow, which came together in 2014 to opposes the horrific U.S.-backed Israeli war on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, has been protesting Richard Bannon, the white-supremacist, anti-Semitic neo-Nazi who is Trump’s “chief strategist.” On December 8, IfNotNow in New York City posted on their Facebook page: “This morning, we delivered white roses to the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, and demanded that they join our call to #FireBannon. The white rose was used by students from The University of Munich as a symbol of nonviolent resistance to the Nazi regime, and now we claim it as our own—to demonstrate our resistance to state-sponsored hate as the #JewishResistance.”

On December 10, 200 people marched around the M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore to protest Trump who was attending the Army-Navy football game. The Baltimore Sun said that the protesters chanted “No hate, no fear, immigrants are welcome here” and “We reject the president-elect” and held up signs like “Resist” and “Make fascists hide again.”

On Friday, December 9, at the annual awards ceremony of the International Documentary Association (IDA) held at the Paramount Theater in Los Angeles, TV writer and producer Norman Lear said from the stage that the country is entering “a very dangerous time” with the election of Trump, which poses “serious obligations”: “If, for example, he or his administration in any way threatens the free speech rights of our documentary filmmakers, the IDA and every supporter in this room must—will, I am sure—hunker down together and fight our asses off.” According to Hollywood Reporter, “Feelings on this topic were clearly running high all around, as an audience member yelled, ‘He’s a fascist!’ during Lear’s speech.”

Spurred by the rise of Trump, a website called “Professors Watchlist” has been posting names professors they accuse of “leftist propaganda”—more than 200 names so far. This kind of fascist witch-hunt on campuses will only become more extreme if the Trump regime is allowed to firm up its grip on power. When two professors at Notre Dame university appeared on the list, more than 100 faculty members at the campus took a stand against the witch-hunt with an open letter saying the watch list should add their names in order to reaffirm “our values and recommitting ourselves to the work of teaching students to think clearly, independently and fearlessly.” See the “Other Voices Against Trump” page at www.revcom.us for this statement and other voices of resistance, including MIT professors, Cornel West, New York Times columnist Charles Blow, and others.

There are various calls for protests in Washington, DC, as the date for Trump inauguration approaches. On December 10, Shaun King—New York Daily News writer and widely followed social media commentator—sent out a tweet saying: “Many people asking me if people should clog the streets of DC to prevent the inauguration ceremony. On general principle alone, YES.” A few days earlier, filmmaker Michael Moore tweeted: “Disrupt the Inauguration. The Majority have spoken—by nearly 2.7 million votes &counting! Silence is not an option.”

Update: On December 12, there were protests in a number of cities around the country in response to a "Women and Allies" call to "deliver the message in a unified voice that we are ready to stand against any government action that would serve to erode the rights of women and other vulnerable groups." See "'Women and Allies' Actions Oppose Trump-Pence Attacks."

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/465/other-voices-on-trump-resistance-en.html

Revolution #476 January 30, 2017

Voices of Conscience and Resistance in the Time of Trump/Pence

Updated October 9, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Also see videos and statements from initiators and others on the importance of Refuse Fascism

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):

Hertha Berlin Soccer Team Takes a Knee in Solidarity with Kaepernick

Hertha BSC (Berliner Sports Club), a German association soccer club based in the Charlottenburg area of Berlin, took a knee in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick and the NFL players’ protest during their home game on Saturday, October 14. Hertha’s starting lineup, coaching staff, general manager, club officials, and substitutes joined in the protest before the start of the game.

Sebastian Langkamp, Hertha’s defender, told Sky TV, “We’re no longer living in the 18th century but in the 21st century. There are some people, however, who are not that far ideologically yet. If we can give some lessons there with that, then that’s good.” The Club released a statement on Twitter that said, “Hertha BSC stands for tolerance and responsibility! For a tolerant Berlin and an open-minded world, now and forevermore!”

Salomon Kalou, a forward for the team, who is from Ivory Coast, said their action was inspired by the NFL players’ protest against police brutality and murder of Black and other people of color, in the face of the attacks against them by Trump. He said, “We stand against racists and that’s our way of sharing that. We are always going to fight against this kind of behavior, as a team and as a city... [Racism] shouldn’t exist in any kind of event, in the NFL or in the football world, soccer as they call it there. It shouldn’t exist in any sport, period.”

German soccer club takes a knee

Hertha BSC (Berliner Sports Club), a German association soccer club based in the Charlottenburg area of Berlin, protests Saturday, October 14, in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick and the NFL players

Credit: AP

Return to top

Richard E. Frankel, Professor of Modern German History, on Trump’s Pardon of Anti-Immigrant Sheriff Joe Arpaio: “To this German historian, the implications are ominous”

Richard E. Frankel is associate professor of Modern German History at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and is the author of Bismarck’s Shadow: The Cult of Leadership and the Transformation of the German Right, 1898-1945. The following originally appeared at historynewsnetwork.org, website of the Columbian College of Arts & Sciences at George Washington University.

In August of 1932, in the town of Potempa, nine Nazi Stormtroopers murdered a supporter of the German Communist Party, kicking him to death in his own apartment as his family watched in horror. Six were convicted with five receiving the death penalty. After the verdict, Hitler sent them a telegram in which he declared to them his “boundless loyalty.” Shortly after he came to power in 1933, he pardoned the killers. While former Sheriff Joe Arpaio never kicked anyone to death, his pardon by President Trump raises disturbing parallels.

Upon gaining power, Hitler immediately pardoned allies who’d perpetrated ghastly crimes against those deemed enemies of the nation. What do we make of Trump’s pardon of a political ally, a man duly convicted of systemic deprivations of people’s constitutional rights—people Trump never considered part of his America? As a professor of modern German history, this administration seemingly provides such unpleasant reminders of Germany’s dark past on a regular basis. What can German history teach us about this latest episode? How, for example, did the pardon of the Potempa killers help us better understand Hitler? What implications did it have for development of the Third Reich? And how does that knowledge help us better understand Trump and the danger that his pardon of Arpaio poses for the future of the United States?  Read complete article.

Return to top

Roger Waters: “I support my hero Colin Kaepernick, and all the fellow heroes in the NFL who stood up for rights and justice and equality”

At his September 28 concert in Boston, Roger Waters took a knee in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick and other sports stars resisting police murder and the recent attacks from Trump.

As he took the knee on stage in front of a massive screen with the word RESIST projected on it, Rogers said:

I support my hero Colin Kaepernick, and all the fellow heroes in the NFL who stood up for rights and justice and equality. They’re part of a far larger movement all over the globe standing up for equal civil rights and equal rights for all the peoples of the world no matter what their race, ethnicity or religion.

Rogers’ entire current Us + Them tour has been laced with statements of resistance against the Trump/Pence fascist regime.

Return to top

NBA Basketball Players and Coaches Speak Out in Support of the NFL Players' Protests Against Trump

From a reader:

On Sunday, September 24, the world saw NFL players, joined in some cases by coaches and owners, deliver a powerful statement by sitting, taking a knee, locking arms together, or remaining in the locker room during the singing of the national anthem at nearly every game played that day and at the Monday night game. They were responding to the vicious, racist attacks unleashed by Trump at his Nazi rally in Alabama Friday when he declared that when a player refuses to stand for the national anthem, the owners should "get that son of a bitch off the field now." The taking the knee protest was started last year by then S.F. 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick against the police brutality and murder of people of color. As Carl Dix said, with Trump's fascist, racist rant against the NFL player protesters, this Klucker-in-chief was making clear what his "Make America Great Again" is all about.

The day following the NFL players' Sunday protests was the first day of NBA basketball practice, when all of the teams speak to the press. Many players and some coaches made thoughtful comments to the media, giving a glimpse of the impact the actions of the football players is having. It should be mentioned that last week, after Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors NBA team publicly said he wasn't going to be part of any team celebration at the White House, Trump tweeted that he was disinviting the Warriors.

Here are highlights from some of the comments from NBA players and coaches:

Jabari Parker, player for the Milwaukee Bucks:

I'm not really surprised at what he said, because basically that's the narrative of Mr. Trump and that's the type of person he is. ... I think that anybody with any responsibility has the opportunity to create change and to take a side. You have good and you have bad. There's no in-between, because when you're in the middle, you're in favor of the oppressor. That's a quote by Desmond Tutu.

As far as the flag goes, it's not like people are [protesting] for any ordinary reason. There's a huge meaning, a broad horizon to it. A lot of people are frustrated that nothing's changed from the time that we've learned it from kids until now. There's been a lot of bad going on with the oppression of colored folks and minorities...

Stan Van Gundy, head coach, Detroit Pistons:

There are serious issues of inequality and injustice in this country. People of conscience are compelled to oppose racism, sexism and intolerance of people of different sexual identities and orientation wherever and whenever they see it. I stand with those opposing such bigotry. I as an individual and the Detroit Pistons as an organization support diversity, inclusion and equality.

J.J. Redick, player for the Philadelphia 76ers:

There's very few days that go by where I don't get pissed off at something Trump does, so this weekend was kind of like a normal thing... There's nothing that I would ever want to say to Trump or interact with Trump. I agree with LeBron [James, of the Cleveland Cavaliers] in the sense that what the White House and what the presidency used to represent does not represent that during these four years. It just does not. It's now a mockery of what the presidency and the White House stood for. So, I would have zero interest in ever going there. [Reddick is a white player.]

Gregg Popovich, coach of the San Antonio Spurs:

Obviously, race is the elephant in the room and we all understand that. Unless it is talked about constantly, it's not going to get better. "Oh, they're talking about that again. They pulled the race card again. Why do we have to talk about that?" Well, because it's uncomfortable. There has to be an uncomfortable element in the discourse for anything to change, whether it's the LGBT movement, or women's suffrage, race, it doesn't matter. People have to be made to feel uncomfortable, and especially white people, because we're comfortable. We still have no clue what being born white means....

You have advantage that are systemically, culturally, psychologically rare. And they've been built up and cemented for hundreds of years.... People want to hold their position, people want their status quo, people don't want to give that up. Until it's given up, it's not going to be fixed....

[Referring to NASCAR team owners who said NFL protesters should be fired and even leave the country...] I had no idea that I lived in a country where people would actually say that sort of thing. I'm not totally naive but I think these people have been enabled by an example that we've all been given. You've seen it in Charlottesville, and on and on and on.

Erik Spoelstra, coach of the Miami Heat:

I commend the Golden State Warriors for the decision they made [not to accept Trump's invitation to go to the White House]. I commend NFL players and organizations for taking a stand for equality, for inclusion, for taking a stand against racism, bigotry, prejudice...

Return to top

Professor's first act as American citizen—get arrested for protesting in support of DACA students

Harvard Professor Ahmed Ragab's first act as an American citizen was to get arrested for protesting in support of DACA students. Ragab drove directly from his citizenship ceremony to a protest in Cambridge, Massachusetts to stand in solidarity with other Boston area professors and protest the DACA repeal.

He wrote in part in a Washington Post opinion letter:

With the Trump administration abolishing DACA, my students now live in fear that the lives they have built will be wrestled away, that they could be thrown out of this country, which is theirs as much as it will ever be mine. Adding insult to injury, President Trump is using them as pawns in his political games. First, shirking his responsibility, he put their fate in the hands of Congress. Then he suggested that he would take action if Congress doesn’t, and that they will not be a deportation priority. Finally, he tweeted that they have nothing to fear “for six months.” Throughout, the abuse continues. These young people are to continue working, studying and serving this country while simply hoping that Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents don’t show up, and they are expected to believe in a system that consistently rejects their rights and threatens their lives and families.

The discourse defending DACA focuses on these young people being in the United States “through no fault of their own.” This narrative vilifies their parents to avoid difficult, broader questions about immigration, racism and xenophobia. My “DACAmented” students are here thanks to their parents, who made many sacrifices to offer their children better lives. Two generations ago, James Baldwin wrote of “the American Negro”: “It is a terrible thing for an entire people to surrender to the notion that one-ninth of its population is beneath them. Until ... we are able to accept that we need each other, that I am one of the people who build the country, there is little hope for the American Dream.” Baldwin’s prescient diagnosis is still germane; our society still denies the contribution of millions of undocumented Americans to the making of this country, and dismisses their rights to the fruits of what they helped build. The American Dream lives in tortured dissociation: claimed to be for all, but denied to many.

So last week, my fellow Boston professors and I protested beside a statue of Charles Sumner, an abolitionist who nearly lost his life for rejecting the Fugitive Slave Act. We crossed Massachusetts Avenue to stand in the middle of the street. As a friend put it, we wanted to bridge the distance between law and justice with our bodies. Before we were arrested, the officers informed us that we were disturbing the peace. But the peace that we disturbed is but a veneer obscuring the injustices embedded in arbitrary immigration systems and institutional racism.

Banner unfurled at Boston’s Fenway Park:
“Racism is as American as Baseball”

Letter from a reader:

On Wednesday, September 13, a group of white people dropped an enormous banner, “RACISM IS AS AMERICAN AS BASEBALL,” over the famous “Green Monster” wall in Boston’s Fenway Park during a nationally televised game between the Boston Red Sox and the Oakland Athletics.

The group stated “We are a group of white anti-racist protesters.  We want to remind everyone that just as baseball is fundamental to American culture and history, so too is racism. White people need to wake up to this reality before white supremacy can truly be dismantled. We urge anyone who is interested in learning more or taking action to contact their local racial justice organization.” “We are responding to a long history of racism and white supremacy in the United States that continues to pervade every aspect of American culture today.  We deliberately chose a platform in an attempt to reach as many people as possible.” After Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles was taunted with bags of peanuts thrown at him and being called the “N-word” by Boston fans earlier in the season, the group decided that something had to be done. Other Black players spoke up after Jones did, saying similar things happened to them when they played in Boston against the Red Sox. The Boston Red Sox was the last Major League Baseball team to have a Black player on its roster. Tom Yawkey, the owner of the Red Sox from 1933 to 1976, continuously rejected any attempts to integrate the team. He refused to sign Jackie Robinson, who called Yawkey “one of the most bigoted guys in baseball.” The current owner of the Red Sox, John Henry, is attempting to remove the name of the street, Yawkey Way, where Fenway Park is located and rename it with the name of a famous Red Sox player, like David Ortiz, who is known as “Big Papi.” In speaking to the issue of racism in Boston, the group that dropped the banner said, “…we saw, we see Boston continually priding itself as a kind of liberal, not racist city, and are reminded also constantly that it’s actually an extremely segregated city. It has been for a long time, and that no white people can avoid the history of racism, essentially. So we did this banner as a gesture towards that, to have a conversation about that.”

Return to top

A Voice of Conscience in Sports World— ESPN Reporter Calls Trump a "White Supremacist"

From a reader:

The shit hit the fan on Tuesday, September 12, after Jemele Hill, an anchor on ESPN's SC6 (SportsCenter at 6) news show, tweeted out on Monday that Donald Trump is a "white supremacist."

Hill has been known for not shying away from politics in her commentaries.

She began her tweets about Trump by first going after singer Kid Rock, a supporter of the fascist Trump/Pence regime, by responding to his tweet that he was thinking about running for the U.S. Senate and claiming he "loves black people," and then accused the "extreme left" of "trying to use the old confederate flag BS" to label him a racist. Hill responded by tweeting out, "He loves black people so much that he pandered to racists by using a flag that unquestionably stands for dehumanizing black people."

The Twitter thread by Hill continued after she was attacked for her tweet about Kid Rock. She posted her Trump tweets in reply to them:

Hill then was barraged with racist and anti-woman tweets calling her a "nigger" and a "bitch." The white supremacist supporters of Trump, including Breitbart and Fox News, called for ESPN to fire her. ESPN tried to throw her under the bus when they "disavowed" what she said, and put out a statement, "We have addressed this with Jemele and she recognizes her actions were inappropriate." 

Then on Wednesday September 13 the White House called for ESPN to fire Hill—Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee-Sanders responded to a question about the tweets by saying "That's one of the more outrageous comments that anyone could make and certainly something that I think is a fireable offense by ESPN."

But broadly from athletes, Hill immediately got support from Colin Kaepernick, who tweeted out, "We are with you @jemelehill." Deadspin.com reported, "ESPN Issues Craven Apology For Jemele Hill's Accurate Descriptions Of Donald Trump." Reggie Miller, former NBA basketball all-star, tweeted out, "I'm on team @jemelehill..." Current NBA all-star Dwayne Wade responded to Miller's tweet with, "Sign me up!"

Hill, who grew up in poverty-ridden Detroit, has continuously brought politics into sports. In 2008, she compared rooting for the Detroit Pistons with rooting for the Boston Celtics, a team that traditionally became known as the team for white people to root for in a predominantly Black league, when she wrote, "Rooting for the Celtics is like saying Hitler was a victim. It's like hoping Gorbachev would get to the blinking red button before Reagan. Deserving or not, I still hate the Celtics." (Listen to Bob Avakian's talk about the NBA, "Marketing the Minstrel Show and Serving the Big Gangsters," at revcom.us)

Earlier this year, Hill was reporting on Colin Kaepernick not currently being signed by an NFL team because of his political views by refusing to stand for the national anthem in protest of police brutality and murders against Black people. In reporting that Kaepernick had compared the cops of today with "slave patrols," she said the comparison of police to "slave patrols" was "inflammatory, but historically accurate."

After she was attacked for bringing politics into sports and ESPN was attacked as being liberal, she gave an interview to Yahoo.com (See https://finance.yahoo.com/news/sportscenter-anchor-jemele-hill-espns-politics-athletes-dragging-us-193537563.html)

I just hadn't noticed the correlation between us being called more liberal as you see more women in a position on our network... as you see more ethnic diversity, then all of a sudden ESPN is too liberal. So I wonder, when people say that, what they're really saying. The other part of it is that we're journalists, and people have to understand, these uncomfortable political conversations... the athletes are dragging us here. I didn't ask Colin Kaepernick to kneel. He did it on his own. So, was I supposed to act like he didn't? Gregg Popovich, every week at his press conferences, is having a 10-minute soliloquy on Donald Trump. Am I supposed to act like he's not doing that? You have athletes saying they're going to the White House, not going to the White House, that's all sports news. It didn't just start with this generation of athletes, it's always been that way. Sometimes when I hear a viewer say they don't want their politics mixed with sports, I say, "What did you think about Muhammad Ali?" And then all of a sudden it's glowing praise.

In another interview she said:

Whether we want to discuss it or not, athletes are dragging us into these conversations. It's not that Mike [her co-host, Michael Smith] and I wake up one day and say, "Hey, today we're going to be MSNBC." It's usually based off a news story that is relevant to sports.

If ESPN attempts to suspend or fire Jemele Hill for telling the truth, people need to come to her defense in a big way.

Return to top

Munroe Bergdorf, L'Oréal's First Trans Model Fired for Calling Out White Supremacy

Munroe Bergdorf, a transgender model was recently hired by L'Oréal to be featured in a YouTube ad for its True Match Foundation. However, Bergdorf's deal with the company did not last very long.

Bergdorf posted comments on Facebook calling out white supremacy, white privilege and systemic racism in the United States. She wrote:

Honestly I don't have energy to talk about the racial violence of white people any more. Yes ALL white people" .... "Because most of ya'll don't even realize or refuse to acknowledge that your existence, privilege and success as a race is built on the backs, blood and death of people of colour. Your entire existence is drenched in racism. From micro-aggressions to terrorism, you guys built the blueprint for this shit." .... "Come see me when you realise that racism isn't learned, it's inherited and consciously or unconsciously passed down through privilege," she added. "Once white people begin to admit that their race is the most violent and oppressive force of nature on Earth... then we can talk."

Immediately the media attacked Bergdorf filled with vitriol, how can she say, "All white people are racist?" The media continued by spreading falsehoods and distorting her statements. In fact, Bergdorf's statements represent undeniable truths about the nature of this system and its foundation in white supremacy that continues up until today. Bergdorf did not remain silent after being fired. She took to Facebook again to clarify her statements, making a powerful point:

"When I stated that 'all white people are racist,' I was addressing that fact that western society as a whole, is a SYSTEM rooted in white supremacy—designed to benefit, prioritise and protect white people before anyone of any other race," she wrote. "Unknowingly, white people are SOCIALISED to be racist from birth onwards. It is not something genetic. No one is born racist."

To read more of Munroe Bergdorf's posts and her response to L'Oréal click here

Messages of Resistance at the MTV Video Music Awards

This week MTV held its annual Video Music Awards. This year's VMAs were far from apolitical—a number of artists made righteous political statements, many against white supremacy.

During her presentation for best pop video, Paris Jackson, daughter of Michael Jackson, condemned the white supremacists and Nazis that marched in Charlottesville. Jackson said, "I hope we leave here tonight remembering that we must show these Nazi, white supremacist jerks in Charlottesville and all over the country that as a nation with liberty as our slogan, we have zero tolerance for their violence, hatred and their discrimination."

Katy Perry jokingly compared the votes for best video award for the show to the votes cast in the election, saying this is "one election where the popular vote actually matters." Somali nominee K'naan wore a mock "Make America Great Again" hat with a message scrawled in Arabic.

The night's big performance was by Kendrick Lamar, who started his song with a brief message about police brutality. Later in the night, singer Cardi B showed support by giving a shout out to Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who is being blackballed from the the NFL because of his refusal to stand for the national anthem in protest of police brutality and murder of people of color. Cardi said, "Colin Kaepernick, as long as you kneel with us, we gonna be standing for you baby."

Susan Bro, whose daughter Heather Heyer was killed in Charlottesville when a white supremacist slammed his car into a group of anti-racist protestors, took the stage at one point. She was joined by Robert Wright Lee IV, pastor and descendant of Confederate general Robert E. Lee. "We have made my ancestor an idol of white supremacy, racism and hate," said Lee. "Today, I call on all of us with privilege and power to answer God's call to confront racism and white supremacy head-on."

Strong and steadfast, Susan Bro spoke about Heather and the foundation she has started in honor of her. She then presented the Best Fight Against the System Awards as a tribute to Heather's passion for social justice. Susan Bro said, "I want people to know that Heather never marched alone. She was always joined by people from every race and every background in this country."

The winners of the Best Fight Against the System Awards were: Logic ft. Damian Lemar Hudson, for "Black Spider Man"; The Hamilton Mixtape, for "Immigrants (We Get the Job Done); Big Sean for "Light"; Alessia Cara, for "Scars To Your Beautiful" (Body image); Taboo ft. Shailene Woodley, for "Stand Up/Stand N Rock #NoDAPL"; and John Legend for "Surefire."

Return to top

Punk Rock Band Anti-Flag: Time to remove "all monuments to the Confederacy and the racism for which they stand"

Punk rock band Anti-Flag has released a new track, "Racists," in the wake of the recent fascist/white supremacist rally in Charlottesville. In the lyric video, photos of the KKK, Confederate flag, pro-Trump signs, and other images appear on the screen along with the song's words, including the chorus:

Just 'cause you don't know you're racist
A bigot with a check list
Just 'cause you don't know you're racist
You don't get a pass when you're talkin' your shit

Along with releasing the song, the band released a statement saying:

We stand in solidarity with those fighting racism and fascism in the streets of Charlottesville and beyond. We believe it is time for the removal of all monuments to the confederacy and the racism for which they stand. We must put these symbols of white supremacy into places where the proper context can be provided for what they actually are; outdated, backwards, and antithetical to what we believe the values of humanity should be. It is past time to have real conversations on systemic racism and America's history of it. There are museums memorializing the Holocaust all across Europe, while America continues to try to hide from its racist and murderous past and present

Return to top

NFL Player Anquan Boldin Quits Because of Charlottesville: "There's something bigger than football"

All-Pro National Football League wide receiver and Super Bowl champion Anquan Boldin has quit football, just two weeks after signing a contract with the Buffalo Bills, saying, “Just seeing things that transpired over the last week or so [in Charlottesville], I think for me there’s something bigger than football at this point.” In an interview with ESPN, Boldin said he was “drawn to make the larger fight for human rights a priority” and that “my life’s purpose is bigger than football.”

Boldin, a 14-year NFL veteran, said that he has been considering retirement for a while, but the events that unfolded in Charlottesville helped prompt his decision. He said, “I can remember as a kid wanting to get to the NFL and wanting to be a professional football player. I dedicated my life to that, and I never thought anything would take the place of that passion. But for me, it has.”

He went on, “I’m uncomfortable with how divided we are as a country. Is it something new to us? No. Is it something that we’re just starting to experience? No. But to see just how divided we are, I’m uncomfortable with that.”

Last year, Boldin was awarded the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award for his volunteer and charity work. In talking about that, he said, “Humanitarian work is something that I’ve been working on for years. Advocating for equality, criminal justice reform, all of those things are something that I’ve been working on for years. So this is not just a fly-by-night decision for me. It’s something that I’ve been dealing with for years, and it’s something that I’m willing to dedicate my life towards. Do I think I can solve all the problems that we have in this country? Of course not. But I think I do have a duty to stand up and make my voice heard and be a voice for those that don’t have a voice.

“My passion for the advocacy work that I do outweighs my passion for football at this point,” he said. “So I’m not coming back to play for a contender or to do anything else. I’m done with the game of football.”

Artist Joseph Guay on his "Border Wall" Installation in Atlanta

Several weeks ago, a large art installation popped up along a busy Atlanta street. The project is "Border Wall," by Joseph Guay, who explains, "It is modeled after the proposed $20 Billion dollar wall for the US/Mexico 1,989 mile border. The purpose of this installation is to create social awareness on the issues surrounding immigration in the United States." Guay's wall is 40 feet long, 16 feet tall and made of steel, rebar, and concrete.

As part of his conception for the work, the "Border Wall" was constructed by undocumented Mexican workers. One side of the wall shows a giant image of Donald Trump, the other side is adorned with a massive Mexican flag. The "Border Wall" sits strikingly behind a barbwire fence in an abandoned parking lot. Guay has invited anyone who wants to express their thoughts on the Trump wall and on the issue of immigrants and immigration by posting and writing graffiti on the wall. In just a few weeks, the wall has been covered mostly with anti-Trump statements, messages of love for immigrants, and a number of Refuse Fascism NO! signs.

On his website, Joseph Guay says:

"The incredible souls that we label as illegals, poor immigrants, the people who want to steal our jobs...( undocumented Mexican labor workers ) have actually come together to help construct this wall. They believe in showing the world what a dividing wall looks and feels like. They believe in letting the American public know, in a peaceful way, that they are not here to take anything. They are actually here to give and help build our 'United' States. One worker has shared several stories of his difficult journey here. He also explained how other individuals raised $15,000 US in order to pay an illegal transporter to get them into this country... only to be treated like slaves on their arrival. Every story he tells makes me upset at the incorrect way we are dealing with this issue. I hope this project will give a better voice to the difficult topics individuals face that are only looking for a better life, and the difficult topics we face as a country. I can't help but ask myself... Does this wall stand for more than just a border crossing point? Maybe it's a symbol of division.... division of land, of cultures, of race, and equality. If we start going in this direction as a nation then where do we stop? I do not know, but I hope we can collectively explore the path together and find a more humane solution."

Artist Joseph Guay's “Border Wall” Installation in Atlanta  
Photo: special to revcom.us

Return to top

Mitch O’Connell, Artist, on his Anti-Trump Billboard in Mexico City: “Mexico came to mind because Trump started out his campaign by being cruel and mean to everyone in Mexico”

Chicago-based artist Mitch O’Connell’s artwork featuring an “alien invader” image of Donald Trump now towers above one of Mexico City’s busiest roads. The billboard features a monstrous image of Trump with a blue and red fleshless face and the slogan “Make America Great Again,” and an American flag waves in the background.

O’Connell said the idea came as he was designing a poster for a science-fiction and horror film festival. The artist said that he intended the project to be posted in a U.S. city but was denied a permit 30 times. “No one wanted to touch it because it's political," he said. O’Connell’s mind then turned to Mexico. He said, “Mexico came to mind because Trump started out his campaign by being cruel and mean to everyone in Mexico." With the help of an Argentinian artist living in Mexico City, O’Connell brought his controversial billboard to fruition.

O’Connell says, "With every month that passed since I did the drawing two years ago, he has become more like that crazy alien. It seems over time he became more and more like the movie, so it became more and more appropriate over time."

Return to top

David Strathairn: "July 15, We Have to Stand Up and Say NO!"

From David Strathairn:

Our form of a humane, compassionate, all-inclusive governance, guaranteed us by the founding principles of our constitution, a government, remember?, “of the people, by the people, and for the people”, is in a battle for its life against the vile, malignant, fascist agenda of the Trump/Pence regime.

This regime and it’s co-conspirators, is being allowed to infiltrate more widely, more deeply, and more insidiously, into the precious fabric of our daily lives, everyday, assaulting our inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness by spreading bias, hatred, greed, and distrust; threatening to tear apart our own nation’s vital need for communality and inclusiveness; displaying a disgusting example of basic human decency; attempting to establish economic policies that will only fill their already bulging pockets while fleecing tens of millions of people of essential human services; trying to pass laws of ethnic, religious, and gender oppression; seeking to control the way we chose our public servants; arrogantly and ignorantly destabilizing crucial global alliances to a frightening degree; and willfully denying, while adding to, the undisputed scientific facts that the health of our planet is under serious duress. And this is all happening right under our noses.

We have to stand up and say NO. However we can, Wherever we can. Before it’s too late. Add your voice on July 15th. The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go.

Lily Eskelsen García, National Education Association: “We will not find common ground with an administration that is cruel and callous to our children and their families.”

Over the weekend, the National Education Association (NEA) met for their annual conference in Boston. The NEA has three million members at all levels of education and describes itself as the “largest professional employee organization” in the U.S. The tone of the conference was certainly different from years past—fear and defiance of the Trump Regime permeated the air.

Lily Eskelsen García, the president of the NEA, delivered a speech indicting Trump and his Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, for their “profoundly disturbing” agenda aimed at destroying public education. She said, “I do not trust their motives. I do not believe their alternative facts. I see no reason to assume they will do what is best for our students and their families.”

While not naming them by name, García made clear that the NEA was taking a sharply different stand from heads of other unions who have had friendly meetings with Trump: “There will be no photo-op…. We will not find common ground with an administration that is cruel and callous to our children and their families.”

In her speech García warned that educators’ resistance will have a backlash from the Trump regime: “They’re going to hit us with everything they’ve got because we are a threat to them. They will try to take away your freedom to organize. They will try to take away your freedom to negotiate with a collective voice. They will try to silence us because when we win, the entire community wins.” García went on to say that teachers must be prepared to fight back against the Trump/Devos’s fascist agenda while defending the students, families, and communities under attack.

Read text of her talk here

Watch FB video of her speech (starts about 13:15)

Neil Young: “Children of Destiny”

Neil Young surprise-released a new song titled “Children of Destiny” in time for the Fourth of July weekend. The song features a new young rock group, Promise of the Real, fronted by Willie Nelson’s son, Lukas Nelson, as well as a 65-piece orchestra. The video for the song shows flag-waving crowds, protests/marches, beautiful nature scenes, and the destruction of war. The song shifts between upbeat to melancholy and so does the imagery.

The song’s chorus is powerful and a call to resistance. Young sings:

Stand up for what you believe
Resist the powers that be
Preserve the land and save the seas
For the children of destiny.
The children of you and me

Then, suddenly, the imagery shifts and so does the emotion of the song as Young sings:

Should goodness ever lose, and evil steal the day
Should happy sing the blues, and peaceful fade away.
What would you do?
What would you say?
How would you act on that new day?

The upbeat chorus kicks back in as Young answers his own questions with images of resistance and protests: “Resist the powers that be…”

Watch the video:

Corey Stoll, actor in New York Public Theater’s production of Julius Caesar, calls the performance an act of resistance

Corey Stoll played Julius Caesar’s assassin, Marcus Brutus, in the New York Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park production of Julius Caesar. The Public Theatre’s staging of the play depicted the murdered title character as Donald Trump—and this outraged the fascists. Trump’s fascist base was up in arms, and they disrupted the performances multiple times.

In an essay written after the final show, Stoll says that he realized that the play itself was an act of resistance. “The protesters never shut us down, but we had to fight each night to make sure they did not distort the story we were telling,” recalls Stoll. He continues, “At that moment, watching my castmates hold their performances together, it occurred to me that this is resistance.”

Stoll and the rest of the cast performed amidst the media’s distortion of the meaning and intention of the play, along with fascist trolls yelling things like, “Liberal hate kills” and “Goebbels would be proud.” (Joseph Goebbels was the Minister of Propaganda in Nazi Germany.) In addition, Donald Trump Jr. went on TV to lambaste the play, claiming that it was responsible for the shooting at the congressional baseball game. The director of the play also said that the performance received multiple death threats.

Stoll writes, “In this new world where art is willfully misinterpreted to score points and to distract, simply doing the work of an artist has become a political act. I’m thankful for all the beautiful defenses of our production written in the last few weeks. But the cliché is true: In politics, when you’re explaining, you’re losing. So if you’re making art, by all means question yourself and allow yourself to be influenced by critics of good faith. But don’t allow yourself to be gaslighted or sucked into a bad-faith argument. A play is not a tweet. It can’t be compressed and embedded and it definitely can’t be delivered apologetically. The very act of saying anything more nuanced than ‘us good, them bad’ is under attack, and I’m proud to stand with artists who do. May we continue to stand behind our work, and, when interrupted, pick it right back up from ‘liberty and freedom.’”

Read Stoll’s entire essay at Vulture.com.

Diala Shamas, supervising attorney at the International Human Rights Clinic, on Supreme Court reinstating parts of Trump’s Muslim ban: “Lawyers alone can’t save us from Trump. The Supreme Court just proved it.”

Diala Shamas, a lecturer in law and supervising attorney at Stanford Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic, has worked extensively with Muslim communities in the U.S. as well as refugees abroad. Her June 27 piece for the Washington Post, which appeared right after the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated large parts of the Trump/Pence regime’s Muslim ban, was titled “Lawyers alone can’t save us from Trump. The Supreme Court just proved it.”

Shamas begins by recalling that when Trump first issued the Muslim ban in January, she and other lawyers who went to the airports to help immigrants and refugees detained or stranded because of the ban were treated like “superheroes” by the crowds that had gathered. While she appreciated the good will, she also writes that “it also seemed to foreshadow a dangerous tendency to rely on the courts and lawyers to act as a balance to our new administration’s executive power.”

Her fear came to life when the Supreme Court reinstated significant parts of the Muslim ban, which had been blocked by several appeals courts. Shamas explains that “The logic of this decision turns fundamental premises of refugee law, immigration law and the international system on their heads...” As she notes, “Significantly, it was also a per curiam decision, issued on behalf of the full court—meaning that the justices usually considered bastions of the left partook in its holding and its underlying logic.”

Shamas warns, “While lawyers are important allies, the dangers of entrusting us with the pushback against executive overreach—as the liberal camp began to do almost instantly after Trump issued the original executive order—are now evident.” She points to U.S. history and present-day struggles as evidence that rights cannot be won solely by relying on the courts: “Even landmark civil rights cases—whether Roe v. Wade or Brown v. Board of Education—were preceded by significant organizing and mobilization. Victories in the Supreme Court (and in lower courts) reflected their times, cementing hard-earned popular progress only after the political ground had already begun to shift.”

Shamas cautions people against “finding comfort” in the possibility of the Supreme Court further reviewing the case or the case becoming moot by that time. Instead, she remarks, “We must renew popular and political interest in pushing back against the executive order—and the many iterations that could follow, including other forms of discriminatory immigration profiling—in more sustained, nonlegal ways.”

Read Diala Shamas’s article here.

Moby: "In This Cold Place" music video portrays horrors of the Trump regime—and is attacked by fascist ghouls

Musician Moby and the Void Pacific Choir recently released the new music video “In This Cold Place” featuring animation by Steve Cutts. Among the many animated characters in the video is Trump as a Transformers-like robot that wreaks destruction and then turns into a swastika/dollar sign and self-destructs. Trump supporters are lashing out at Moby for this work of art. One fascist blog, for example, accused him of “corrupting children into hatred and accepting violence against President Trump.” As RefuseFascism.org points out, “Meanwhile, around the country, Muslims, immigrants, people of color, and others face threats to their well-being and their very lives on a daily basis at the hands of these same fascists. This is art that plays an important part in exposing the illegitimacy of this regime. It deserves to be shared, debated, and defended.”

Watch the video:

Reza Aslan, former host of CNN series Believer: “When the house is on fire you can’t just calmly describe the flames. You need to get onto the roof and scream at the top of your lungs, ‘Fire!’”

Reza Aslan is the former host of the CNN show Believer, which followed Aslan as he traveled the world and explored different religions. Aslan, who is Muslim, and his staff were deep into the production of the second season of the show, and he was literally packing his bags to fly to the first location to shoot some footage when he received the news that his show had been canceled. Why? Following the recent terror attacks in London, Trump seized the opportunity to reiterate the fascist call for a ban on Muslims traveling to the U.S. Outraged, Aslan took to Twitter and called President Trump “a piece of shit”—and for that, CNN fired him. This was soon after this same network cravenly fired comedian Kathy Griffin for a joke she made that Trump did not like.

In a recent interview on Deadline.com, Aslan said he was “bummed” about the canceling of his show and having to let his staff go in the middle of production—but, he said, “I think that there is something much more important right now, which is the assault on our democracy and I need to make sure that that fight is the fight that I am fighting first and foremost.”

Asked whether he regrets his tweet, Aslan responded, “I don’t regret the sentiment. I’m not trying to exaggerate here but look, when the house is on fire you can’t just calmly describe the flames. You need to get onto the roof and scream at the top of your lungs, ‘Fire!’ And I think that nothing less is tolerable at this time that we are living in.”

Aslan’s sense of urgency is something that people broadly should learn from and act on.

Read the rest of Reza Aslan’s interview here.

Jacob Ayol, Security Supervisor at Denver International Airport and Sudanese Refugee, Speaks Out Against Trump’s Muslim Ban

Jacob Ayol came to the United States in 2003 from Sudan. He spent several years in the U.S. military before finding his current job as security supervisor for the Denver International Airport.

He was at the airport when Trump’s first Muslim travel ban went into effect, and says there was lots of fear and confusion among many people at the airport. As the head of security, he faced questions from employees and passengers who were coming to him for answers that he could not provide. He states that there was an overall “fear of the unknown.” The travel ban reminded him of the fear felt in his former country and the religious divide between Sudan and South Sudan. “Each wanted to be superior, and each was afraid of the other,” Ayol says. “It has brought our country to its knees and divided our country. It’s not just history; it’s real life. We just all want to live. We want to appreciate life and not tell the other what to believe.”

Ayol has joined with the Service Employees International Union in opposing the travel ban and believes that sharing his story and the stories of other refugees will help in that fight. “It’s important if you’ve ever lived where you don’t see buildings, where you don’t know where you will eat tomorrow, you don’t see clean water. If you ever live like that, you will understand that it is very important that someone have a shot at life.”

Read the rest of Jacob Ayol’s story here.

Steven Thrasher, Writer for the Guardian: “Yes there is a free speech crisis. But its victims are not white men.”

A writer at large for the Guardian US, Steven Thrasher was, among other honors, named Journalist of the Year in 2012 by the National Gay and Lesbian Journalists Association. In a June 5 piece at theguardian.com, Thrasher makes incisive points about what is widely being discussed by media “talking heads on both the left and the right” as a “freedom of speech crisis.” Thrasher notes that those talking heads are “not lacking in a freedom to speak, nor are the white conservatives on college campuses they seem so worried about. It’s women and people of color who struggle the most finding a platform—but there is a conspicuous lack of concern about that by free speech crusaders.”

Thrasher raises the recent example of what happened to Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, a Princeton professor and the author of From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation. After she gave a commencement address at Hampshire College in which she said that Donald Trump had “fulfilled the campaign promises of a campaign organized and built upon racism, corporatism and militarism,” she was threatened with lynching and being shot in the head; and she said, “I have been repeatedly called ‘nigger,’ ‘bitch,’ ‘cunt,’ ‘dyke,’ ‘she-male,’ and ‘coon’—a clear reminder that racial violence is closely aligned with gender and sexual violence.”

Thrasher writes that he and his journalist colleagues have also been recipients of such outrageous and violent threats. And as Thrasher notes, all this is not happening in a vacuum: “They are happening in a country where the majority of white voters elected a man who bragged about grabbing women ‘by the pussy’ without consent. They are happening in a country where, as Business Insider put it, ‘Trump has unleashed a white crime wave’ against people of color from Maryland to Kansas to Oregon.

“They are happening in a country where Confederate monuments are removed at night (for the safety of those removing them) but where pro-Confederate forces feel safe to carrying torches. They are happening in a country where an academic philosophy journal will publish a Black Lives Matter symposium without any black philosophers.

“And they are happening in a country where black children are shot by the police, where the greatest basketball player of all time has a racial slur painted on his home, and where a noose was found at the nation’s newest black history museum.”

Read Steven Thrasher’s article online here.

C. Christine Fair, Georgetown University Professor, on Confronting neo-Nazi Leader Richard Spencer: “This is our December 1932“

Christine Fair is a Provost’s Distinguished Associate Professor at Georgetown University’s Security Studies Program in the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service. A May 25 op-ed in the Washington Post by Fair was titled, “I confronted Richard Spencer at my gym. Racists don’t get to lift in peace.” Recently, while working out at the gym, Fair came face to face with Richard Spencer. Spencer heralds himself as the new face of white supremacy, the “alt-right,” which is in fact a euphemism for fascist neo-Nazi thugs. Spencer is a strong supporter of Trump, whom he believes is mainstreaming his racist vision of an “ethno-state.” Some will recall, after the election, Spencer and his “alt-right” storm troopers celebrating and referring to Donald Trump as their “Führer,” giving Nazi salutes, and shouting “Hail Trump,” summoning to mind the Nazi “Heil Hitler.”

Fair courageously called Spencer out as a “vocal propagandist for racism” right in the middle of his workout. Immediately, Spencer took to YouTube to decry his “unfair” treatment and lambaste Fair in the most misogynist of terms.

As Fair points out, Spencer “sought to garner sympathy by arguing that he is a model gym user—he should be allowed to spread hate and stoke racist, misogynist, anti-Semitic, Islamophobic and other bigoted forms of violence, and organize torchlit nighttime rallies that conjure up images of similar rallies staged by the Klan—all without facing consequences for his actions when off the job, so to speak.” Fair simply responds, “But Spencer is wrong.”

Fair goes on to compare the current historical moment with that of Germany in December 1932. She says, “I imagine Germans sitting around their tables in December 1932 lamenting the eroding civil society and expansion of hateful, nationalist rhetoric between bites of Wiener schnitzel and sips of beer. They see what’s coming but they are too uncomfortable to do anything.”

Fair ends her article with a challenge to today’s “Good Germans” (she refers to Richard Collins, a Black U.S. Army lieutenant who was recently murdered by a white man who was involved in a Facebook group that posts racist material):

This is our December 1932. We have a choice. Good people can acquiesce to the purported demands of polite society and concede that Spencer’s right to lift weights in peace is more important that the rights of men like Collins to live full and productive lives, that being a white supremacist is not a 9-to-5 job, and that as long as he doesn’t bring his torch into an establishment, Spencer and his associates should be treated as any other civilized person. Or we can refuse to treat this hateful, dangerous ideology as just another way of being, and fight it in every space we occupy.

I’ve made my choice. You need to make yours.

Read C. Christine Fair’s op-ed here.

Lincoln Blades, Contributor to Teen Vogue: “White male terrorists are an issue we should discuss”

In a May 9 piece for Teen Vogue, Lincoln Blades explores why the United States needs to take seriously the presence of white male extremists. He contrasts the swirling media coverage and intense government response of mass attacks carried out by Islamic jihadists and the lack of coverage by the media and the government’s reluctance to identify attacks carried out by white (often right wing) men as acts of terrorism. He also notes Trump and other politicians’ fierce response to attacks by Muslims, while refusing to address the far more likely scenario of white supremacists attacking Black people.

After the San Bernardino shooting, Republican presidential candidates Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, and Marco Rubio all jumped at the opportunity to declare that America was at “war.” Then candidate, and current president, Donald Trump took the rhetoric a step further by calling for a broad-sweeping ban on Muslims entering the United States. But, five days earlier, a Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs was targeted by a white male devout Christian, and there was no degree of rage expressed by those same Republican presidential candidates or the accompanying hyperbolic war proclamations. In fact, the shooter, Robert Dear, was referred to as a “gentle loner” by The New York Times....

Who radicalized Dylann Roof, the white supremacist who in 2015 executed nine unarmed black churchgoers inside of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in South Carolina? After he was arrested, it was discovered that he had published a website where he espoused racist ideology, regurgitating bigoted talking points on the false “epidemic” of “black-on-white” crimes, espousing that black people are inherently “violent” and that white women need to be protected from black men. It’s easy to say that his views were influenced by a small, fringe group of insane right-wing extremists, but it’s seemingly far more difficult for us to collectively accept that these prejudiced talking points have been given life through mainstream media bias, and even by the president of the United States, who once tweeted a racist meme that incorrectly cited myths about “black-on-white” crime in America as fact.

Read Lincoln Blade’s entire article here.

Rev. Dr. Chuck Currie—on connection between the murders by a white-supremacist Nazi in Portland and Trump’s anti-Muslim bigotry

On May 26, Jeremy Joseph Christian, a known white supremacist and neo-Nazi, began harassing two teenage Muslim women on MAX, Portland’s subway train. Christian was verbally assaulting the two young women, yelling racist and anti-Muslim slurs. When several men on the train attempted to intervene, Christian pulled out a knife and stabbed three men. Two of the men died from their wounds, and a third is in a hospital.

Rev. Dr. Chuck Currie, a contributor at HuffingtonPost.com wrote a powerful piece a day after the attacks. Currie is a minister in the United Church of Christ, Director of the Center for Peace and Spirituality, and University Chaplain at Pacific University. He lives just a few blocks from where the attack took place. In his piece, Currie discusses correlation between hate crimes and the election of Donald Trump, pointing to the reported increase in hate crimes by 197% since the day after the election to February. He notes that Trump and others are being helped in spreading anti-Muslim bigotry by “Christian leaders such as Franklin Graham, a close ally of the president."

Dr. Currie calls on Christians and others to oppose the hate incited by Trump and his cronies:

Islam is not evil or a dangerous religion. Fundamentalism, however, can turn any faith tradition into a violent movement. Consider the number of terrorist bombings at women’s health clinics in the United States by so-called Christians over the last several decades, and the link between white nationalist domestic terrorist groups that identify as part of a fringe movement within Christianity.

Trump, Graham, and others have helped to incite violence at their rallies and in the streets. This new normal can only be called sinful. The attack in Portland can only be called domestic terrorism.

My prayer is that every Christian body speaks out against hate crimes such as the one that occurred in Portland last night. It is vital that the interfaith movement in the United States continues to stand-up as a counterweight to those who would use religion as a tool of division. All our faith traditions, at their core, are about building just societies and freeing people from oppression. We must be about the work of bringing people together; not building walls to keep one another apart.

Read the whole article by Rev. Dr. Chuck Currie article here.

Max Perry Mueller, Religious Studies Professor: How Trump and Pence Together Embody a "White Christian America" in Decline

Religious studies professor Max Perry Mueller, writing before the election of the Trump/Pence regime, dug into the seeming contradiction between the worldview of Donald Trump and Mike Pence. Mueller, an assistant professor at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, described Mike Pence’s long history of perverse Christian fascist legislation, which is substantial to say the least. He reminded readers that Pence as vice president would be “just a heartbeat—or impeachment—away from the Oval Office,” describing him as “a politician who, as Pence himself implied at the vice presidential debate, believes it his ‘calling’ to legislate his religious views into public policy.”

In his piece, Mueller hit on some important reasons why Trump and Pence, despite some of their obvious differences in worldview and public persona, dangerously complement each other:

Pence’s first—and primary—identity as a conservative Christian and the governing worldview that it forms in many ways aligns with Trump’s own view of seeing the world divided starkly into allies and enemies, good deals and bad deals, security and menace.

In this sense, both Trump and Pence are restorationists. And their restorationist visions for America are complementary. Trump’s is racial; Pence’s is religious. Together, their ticket embodies a “white Christian America” in decline, as Robert P. Jones has powerfully described it. In a Trump-Pence ticket, white Christian America not only hopes to resist the forces demographic and cultural change, but to restore white Protestant Americans (especially men) to their place of unchallenged preeminence.

See Mueller’s article, “The Christian Worldview of Mike Pence,” here.

Michelangelo Signorile, Editor of HuffPost "Queer Voices" on Firing of Comey: "Stop Being Polite and Immediately Start Raising Hell"

In a May 10 article, Michelangelo Signorile, editor-at-large of the “Queer Voices” column on HuffPost, says that with the firing of FBI Director James Comey, Donald Trump “made his most frightening authoritarian power grab yet.” He writes, “This could be viewed as a direct step toward consolidating power and, yes, toward fascism, as we’ve seen play out in other countries―in Turkey recently, and in many other countries in history from which you could choose as an example.”

Signorile puts forward sharply that, given this very dangerous situation, “It’s time to move beyond polite protests within specified boundaries. It’s time to escalate the expression of our outrage and our anger in a massive way.”

He goes on:

Starting today and from here on, no elected official―certainly those in the GOP defending and supporting Trump on a variety of issues, for example―should be able to sit down for a nice, quiet lunch or dinner in a Washington, DC eatery or even in their own homes. They should be hounded by protestors everywhere, especially in public―in restaurants, in shopping centers, in their districts, and yes, on the public property outside their homes and apartments, in Washington and back in their home states.

White House officials too―those enabling the authoritarian―need to be challenged everywhere, as do all those at the conservative think tanks who support Trump and those who publicly defend him in their columns and on television. 

Go here to read the entire piece, “To Save America We Must Stop Being Polite And Immediately Start Raising Hell.”

Joan Baez: "In the new political and cultural reality in which we find ourselves, there is much work to be done"

On April 7, in recognition of her nearly 60-year folk singing career, Joan Baez was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The following is from her acceptance speech:

What has given my life deep meaning, and unending pleasure, has been to use my voice in the battle against injustice. It has brought me in touch with my own purpose. It has also brought me in touch with people of every background... And I've met and tried to walk in the shoes of those who are hungry, thirsty, cold and cast out, people imprisoned for their beliefs, and others who have broken the law, paid the price, and now live in hopelessness and despair. Of exonerated prisoners who have spent decades in solitary confinement, awaiting execution. Of exhausted refugees, immigrants, the excluded and the bullied. Those who have fought for this country, sacrificed, and now live in the shadows of rejection. People of color, the old, the ill, the physically challenged, the LGBTQ community.

And now, in the new political and cultural reality in which we find ourselves, there is much work to be done.

Where empathy is failing and sharing has been usurped by greed and the lust for power, let us double, triple, and quadruple our own efforts to empathize and to give of our resources and our selves. Let us together repeal and replace brutality, and make compassion a priority. Together let us build a great bridge, a beautiful bridge to once again welcome the tired and the poor, and we will pay for that bridge with our commitment. We the people must speak truth to power, and be ready to make sacrifices. We the people are the only one who can create change. I am ready. I hope you are, too. I want my granddaughter to know that I fought against an evil tide, and had the masses by my side.

Read the whole speech here.

Henry Scott Wallace: “American Fascism, in 1944 and Today”

In a May 12 op-ed in the New York Times, Henry Scott Wallace—lawyer and co-chairman of the foundation Wallace Global Fund, which promotes “sustainable development”—compares Trump to the fascist Benito Mussolini, whose regime ruled Italy leading up to and through World War 2. Wallace’s grandfather was Henry A. Wallace, who was vice-president under Franklin D. Roosevelt in the early 1940s.

In 1944, Henry A. Wallace wrote an article in the New York Times titled “The Danger of American Fascism.” According to Henry Scott Wallace, his grandfather’s article “described a breed of super-nationalist who pursues political power by deceiving Americans and playing to their fears...” He writes, “’[I]n my view, he predicted President Trump.”

In the op-ed, Henry Scott Wallace cites different quotes from his grandfather’s article and points to their relevance today. One point the op-ed addresses is how fascists use lies:

In fact, they use lies strategically, to promote civic division, which then justifies authoritarian crackdowns. Through “deliberate perversion of truth and fact,” [Henry A. Wallace] said, “their newspapers and propaganda carefully cultivate every fissure of disunity.”

Thus might lying about unprecedented high crime rates legitimize a police state. Lying about immigrants being rapists and terrorists might justify a huge border wall, mass expulsions and religion-based immigration bans. Lying about millions of illegal votes might excuse suppression of voting by disfavored groups.

The op-ed appears in the May 12 print issue of the NY Times and online here.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Americanah) in The New Yorker, December 2, 2016

"Now is not the time to tiptoe around historical references. Recalling Nazism is not extreme; it is the astute response of those who know that history gives both context and warning."

Statement from Faculty at the University of Southern California, published in the Los Angeles Times, March 23, 2017

We are USC Faculty.

We are scientists, artists, and thinkers from over 115 countries, working together every day, side by side, to understand the world around us and to share what we’ve learned with future generations.

We proudly affirm the core mission of the university as a place for the generation of knowledge, the preservation of scholarship, and informed discussion and debate, all of which are vital to a healthy democracy.

We will vigorously defend our core values of academic freedom, high standards of evidence, free inquiry, openness, and inclusion against policies and actions driven by fear, bigotry, and propaganda.

We are committed to:

— protecting the human rights of our students, our fellow faculty, staff, and all members of the USC community, irrespective of their race, gender, sexual orientation, ability, religion, nationality, or citizenship status.

— supporting and encouraging all university efforts to provide critical resources for staff, students and faculty who are most vulnerable and at greatest risk.

— supporting faculty, students, and staff who engage in civil disobedience and protest if members of the academic community are harmed or deported due to targeted state actions.

We will Fight On!

Shaun King: “No President who ever owned human beings should be honored”

In his article "No President who ever owned human beings should be honored" on March 15, Shaun King wrote in the New York Daily News that Adolf Hitler "is a monster who should never be honored," and continued:

Just as this is true for Hitler, it is true for any American President who ever owned human beings and forced them into a life of slavery. The Holocaust and slavery are each an unjust disgrace.

King details the monstrous horrors of slavery and then calls out Trump:

Today, Donald Trump is going out of his way to honor President Andrew Jackson. He should never be honored. Over his lifetime his family owned at least 300 human beings. This is terrible and no contribution he made in his life will ever outweigh this fact. To this very day, Andrew Jackson's own estate openly admits that the key source of his wealth came from owning human beings and forcing them to work on his plantation. At the time Jackson died, he owned about 150 people. He was a full-fledged unrepentant bigot. The enslaved Africans on his plantation were often whipped and beaten. If they escaped, fugitive squads searched for them and returned them back to the plantation. One advertisement put out by Jackson for a runaway slave offered $10 for every 100 lashes given to the slave who was caught. Is that not sick to you?

This makes Andrew Jackson a monster. Nothing he did as President of the United States is good enough to look past this.

The same holds true for every single American President who owned human beings.

Read the whole article here

Michael Bennett, NFL football player, supports the women's strike on International Women's Day

Michael Bennett, who plays for the Seattle Seahawks, who participated in the pro football players’ national anthem protest, and who refused to be a shill for Israel against the Palestinian people (see “Pro Football Player Michael Bennett Refuses to Be a Shill for IsraelRevolution, 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/)

Former ABC News Reporters, Executives, Producers Urge Strong Stand Against Trump

As of March 1, more than 230 former ABC News correspondents, executives and producers have signed a letter urging the network’s top executive to take a firm stand against any Trump administration effort to curtail press access. The letter was written after White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer held a briefing on February 24 and, in an unprecedented move, excluded several news organizations that have done stories Trump didn’t like.

The letter called the February 24 incident “an alarming new development enacted by an administration that has declared war on respected news outlets” and asked James Goldston, president of ABC News, to “take a public stand” and “Refuse to take part in any future White House briefings based on an invitation list of who’s in/who’s out.” The letter noted that there has been strong public protest by Dean Baquet, executive editor of the New York Times, and statements by the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg that they would not participate in future briefing where reporters are barred.

Signees include former White House correspondent Sam Donaldson; former ABC reporters Ken Kashiwahara, Jeanne Meserve and Lynn Sherr; four former executives and four former executive producers of “World News Tonight” and top leaders at “Nightline,” “20/20″ and “Good Morning America.” Kayce Freed Jennings, the widow of the late anchor Peter Jennings, was also one of the signers.

ABC News is one of the media organizations Trump has labeled as the “enemy of the American people” and “fake news.” ABC was allowed into the Spicer briefing, while CNN, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Politico and BuzzFeed were denied access. Reporters from other organizations, including the Associated Press, USA Today and Time magazine, refused to attend the briefing in protest.

Tim Rogers at Fusion: Calling Trump "Presidential" Is the First Step to Normalizing Fascism

Tim Rogers is senior editor for Latin America at the cable and satellite TV channel Fusion. After Trump’s February 28 speech to Congress, Rogers wrote a piece titled “Calling Trump’s speech ‘presidential’ is the first step to normalizing fascism” (March 1, 2017) noting that “talking heads were quick to applaud Trump for acting ‘presidential.’” Rogers goes on to say:

But Trump’s speech to Congress was only presidential by fascist standards. What Trump laid out, in the methodical words penned by an ideologue behind the throne, was a frightening vision of a country under siege by foreign hordes that are trying to establish a “beachhead of terrorism” to convert the United States into a “sanctuary for extremists.”

Trump depicted a dark world in which the U.S. is fighting “a network of lawless savages” that it must “extinguish ...from our planet.”

Trump was talking about ISIS in that instance, but his fear-mongering over foreigners wasn’t limited to Islamic State fighters any more than the travel ban was limited to Muslims from seven countries. The narrative of barbarians at the gate was woven throughout Trump’s speech, which seemed to build on George W. Bush’s worldview of “You’re either with us, or against us.” But Trump’s view is even racist and alienating by W’s standards.

From his call to build a border wall as “a very effective weapon against drugs and crime,” to reiterating his appallingly cynical pledge to create a new Homeland Security Office to “serve American victims” of crimes committed by immigrants, Trump’s whole speech was to lay out a dichotomy of us versus them, or “America first” in Trumpspeak. ...

When the speech was over, Trump lackeys congratulated themselves on a “home run”—actually, make that a “grand slam.”

But even normally critical pundits said they thought Trump looked “presidential.”

That’s dangerous thinking. Calling Trump’s fear-mongering “presidential” is a first step to normalizing fascism. It’s granting acceptance to the dangerous fascists skulking behind the golden curtains of the Oval Office.

Anderson Cooper 360° ✔ @AC360: Van Jones: Trump “became President of the United States” when he honored the widow of the Navy SEAL killed in Yemen. ...

In an America where Trump’s speech can be called “presidential,” it’ll be a slippery slope to despotism.

Read Tim Roger’s article in its entirety here.

"I am vowing, here and now, not to show papers in this situation"

American citizens had their introduction to the Trump-era immigration machine Wednesday...” So begins “Papers, Please,” an article that appeared in The Atlantic online on February 27, about the February 22 domestic flight from SFO to JFK airport where every passenger was told by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents to show their ID before they could get off the plane. The agents claimed they were looking for a passenger who was undocumented and had a criminal record; it turned out that the person they sought was not on the plane.

In the article, written by Garrett Epps, legal scholar, novelist, and contributing editor to 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?

Read more

"I wasn't pulled out because I'm some kind of revolutionary activist, but my God, I am now." Mem Fox's Terrifying Detention at the Los Angeles Airport

Mem Fox, an award winning author from Australia, was pulled off an airplane when she arrived at Los Angeles International Airport and held in detention for almost two hours and interrogated for 15 minutes.  In an op-ed article in The Guardian, she tells of her terrifying, belligerent, and violent experience.

She describes the room “like a waiting room in a hospital but a bit more grim than that.... There was no water, no toilet... Everything was yelled...” She said that she “heard things happening in that room happening to other people that made me ashamed to be human.”

She describes an elderly Iranian woman in a wheelchair where they were yelling at her at the top of their voices—“Arabic? Arabic?”  They screamed at her “ARABIC?”  She told them “Farsi.”  A woman from Taiwan was being yelled at about how she made her money: Does it grow on trees? Does it fall from the sky?”  Mem said, “...the agony I was surrounded by in that room was like a razor blade across my heart.”

When she was called to be interviewed, she was degraded, and called it “monstrous.”  She told them that she writes books about exclusivity.  She had one of her books in her bag and said, “I am all about inclusivity, humanity and the oneness of the humans of the world; it’s the theme of my life.”  He yelled at her, “I can read!”  She was standing the whole time and said, “The belligerence and violence of it was really terrifying. I had to hold the heel of my right hand to my heart to stop it beating so hard.”

Read more

Interview with Claudia Koonz, Historian and Author of The Nazi Conscience

Claudia Koonz is a historian of Nazi Germany and the author of Mothers in the Fatherland: Women, the Family and Nazi Politics, The Nazi Conscience, and other works. She was interviewed on The Michael Slate Show on KPFK Pacifica Radio on February 10. This is a transcript of the interview, slightly edited for length and clarity.

Michael Slate: In broad strokes, let’s talk about how fascism developed in Germany.

Claudia Koonz: OK. First of all, let’s remember that nobody ever heard of Hitler until the early 1930s. He was unemployed. The only steady job he ever had in his life was when he fought in World War I for four years. He was quite brave.

This was a splinter party. As late as 1928, ten years after the defeat in World War I, the Nazis got 2.6% of the vote. 1930, they got 18% of the vote. 1932 they were up to the high point ever, 37.4% of the vote. So, the Nazis were never voted into power. Hitler was appointed into power.

So the question is, how did this disreputable, fringe party of loudmouth, brawling Stormtroopers get from a tiny splinter party to the center in 1932, which put Hitler in position to get appointed as chancellor?

Read the whole interview

John Legend: "Are we going to just accept inhumanity, or are we going to resist?"

The singer John Legend has won ten Grammy Awards, one Golden Globe Award, and one Academy Award. He will be playing Frederick Douglass in the second season of the WGN series Underground. In a recent interview in the New York Times Magazine he was asked, “Has there been a piece of art that has affected you politically?” He replied:

Books have certainly affected me. In college, I took a class that centered on a book called “Obedience to Authority,” which was trying to explain why an ordinary German would be a worker at a concentration camp, or why anyone would be part of a system that is so evil and corrosive, and how they deal with authority and whatever cognitive dissonance they need to have to do something so inhumane. Then we read some James Joyce and Virginia Woolf; all those books in that class opened my eyes to the way human beings deal with authority and deal with how we become inhumane. I took those classes 20 years ago, but I’ve been thinking about that a lot when I think about how we’re reacting to Donald Trump right now.

The interviewer then asked, “How are you applying that thought process to contemporary times?” Legend said:

Yeah, are we just going to go about our lives and try to be normal? I’ve seen a tweet going around about how a lot of people say that they would have been part of the civil rights movement, so this is basically that chance, this moment of truth for our society. Are we going to just accept inhumanity, or are we going to resist?

Read the New York Times Magazine interview with John Legend here.

Ann Frank Center for Mutual Respect Condemns Trump’s So-Called “Condemnation” of Anti-Semitic Attacks

On February 21, Donald Trump issued a statement supposedly condemning anti-Semitic attacks on Jewish institutions. At his February 16 press conference, Trump had insulted and bullied a correspondent from an Orthodox Jewish news agency who asked if Trump could condemn the wave of threats against Jewish institutions. Trump cut him off, yelled “quiet!” and “sit down” and ranted that this was “a very insulting question.” Trump then declared himself “the least anti-Semitic person that you've ever seen in your entire life” while refusing the reporter’s request to condemn attacks on Jewish institutions. Days after this, on February 20, Jewish community centers in ten states were targeted with bomb threats and forced to evacuate.  There were also 170 graves at an historic Jewish cemetery in Missouri desecrated in the last few days.

Immediately after Trump’s February 21st statement, the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect posted a response on Facebook. The Center takes inspiration from Anne Frank, a Jewish teenager hunted down and killed by the Nazis. Her Diary is a famous chronicle of hiding out from the Nazis.  The center “calls out prejudice, counters discrimination and advocates for the kinder and fairer world of which Anne Frank dreamed.”

The statement said in part:

The President’s sudden acknowledgement is a Band-Aid on the cancer of Antisemitism that has infected his own Administration. His statement today is a pathetic asterisk of condescension after weeks in which he and his staff have committed grotesque acts and omissions reflecting Antisemitism, yet day after day have refused to apologize and correct the record. Make no mistake: The Antisemitism coming out of this Administration is the worst we have ever seen from any Administration. The White House repeatedly refused to mention Jews in its Holocaust remembrance, and had the audacity to take offense when the world pointed out the ramifications of Holocaust denial. And it was only yesterday, President’s Day, that Jewish Community Centers across the nation received bomb threats, and the President said absolutely nothing.

Berkeley Law School Faculty and Staff: #NoBanNoWall

Members of Berkeley Law (University of California, Berkeley School of Law) are taking a public stand against Trump’s executive orders intensifying repression against immigrants and on the U.S.-Mexico border through a #NoBanNoWall photo project. Close-up photos of faculty and staff members show them with handwritten or printed signs.

Their statement reads:

President Trump’s immigration executive orders, enforcement actions, and xenophobic threats directly impact members of our law school community.

They undermine the public mission of our university to ensure access to the talented pool of students and researchers that reflects the diversity in the State of California and the world.

They attack the ability of the university to fulfill its unique role as a site for the generation of knowledge and the free exchange of ideas among students, faculty, and staff of all nationalities, backgrounds, and creeds.

They threaten our values of diversity and inclusion, which ensure a vibrant democracy.

We oppose the executive orders and President Trump’s attacks on certain communities.

We are committed to maintaining the law school as a just and inclusive community.

Poster of Berkeley Law Faculty & Staff: NoBanNoWall
Click to enlarge

The PDF of the poster is available here.

"Hands Off Our Revolution"—More than 200 Artists Around the World Say "We will not go quietly"

When you go to the website, Hands Off Our Revolution, the first thing you see is the flashing words: HANDS OFF OUR BORDERS... WATER... AIR... LAND... CITIES... HOMES... PLANET... BODIES... HEALTH... JUSTICE... FRIENDS... FAMILIES... LOVES.... LIVES...

More than 200 artists, writers, photographers, musicians and curators from around the world—including well-known figures such as Anish Kapoor, Steve McQueen, Laurie Anderson, Ed Ruscha, Matthew Barney, Rosalind Krauss, Maya Lin, Hank Willis Thomas, Catherine Opie, Yinka Shonibare, David Byrne, and Michael Stipe—have joined this spirit of resistance, signing the following Mission Statement:

We are a global coalition affirming the radical nature of art. We believe that art can help counter the rising rhetoric of right-wing populism, fascism and the increasingly stark expressions of xenophobia, racism, sexism, homophobia and unapologetic intolerance.

We know that freedom is never granted—it is won. Justice is never given—it is exacted. Both must be fought for and protected, yet their promise has seldom been so fragile, so close to slipping from our grasp, as at this moment.

As artists, it is our job and our duty to reimagine and reinvent social relations threatened by right-wing populist rule. It is our responsibility to stand together in solidarity. We will not go quietly. It is our role and our opportunity, using our own particular forms, private and public spaces, to engage people in thinking together and debating ideas, with clarity, openness and resilience.

The website also announces a project to do a “series of contemporary art exhibitions and actions that confront, head on, the rise of right-wing populism in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere... to help envision and shape the world in which we want to live.”

The Mission Statement in 10 different languages and the full description of the project are online at handsoffourrevolution.com.

"I want to be a voice for the voiceless": Pro Football Player Michael Bennett Refuses to Be a Shill for Israel

Bennett, who plays in the NFL (National Football League) for the Seattle Seahawks, announced he will not be joining an NFL delegation to Israel.

Bennett has been involved in the struggle by professional athletes to protest police brutality. He took up the protest in the NFL started by San Francisco 49er Colin Kaepernick, who refused to stand for the national anthem. Bennett called for white athletes to take a stand against police murders, saying “You need a white guy to join the fight. The white guy is super important to the fight. For people to really see social injustices, there must be someone from the other side of the race who recognizes the problem, because a lot of times if just one race says there’s a problem, nobody is realistic about it.” Bennett has also posted photos and quotes from Black Panther leader Fred Hampton on his Instagram page.

Bennett had originally planned to be on the delegation because he wanted to have interaction with both Palestinian and Israeli people. But he learned from an article in the Times of Israel that the trip would isolate him from the Palestinian people and turn him into a “goodwill ambassador.” Then he read an open letter in The Nation magazine, signed by John Carlos, Danny Glover, Harry Belafonte, Alice Walker, and others calling on the athletes to ”reconsider taking this trip to ensure you are standing on the right side of history.”

Bennett then wrote an open letter that he posted on Instagram and Twitter.

Read more

Meryl Streep on standing up against "armies of brownshirts and bots": "You have to! You don't have an option"

Actor Meryl Streep received the National Ally for Equality Award at a fundraising gala held by the Human Rights Campaign, a national LGBTQ civil rights organization, on Saturday night, February 11. In her acceptance speech, Streep said:

[F]undamentalists, of every stripe everywhere, are exercised and fuming. We should not be surprised that these profound changes come at a steeper cost than we originally thought. We should not be surprised that not everyone is totally down with it.

If we live through this precarious moment, if his catastrophic instinct to retaliate doesn’t lead us to nuclear winter, we will have much to thank this president for. He will have woken us up to how fragile freedom is....

I am the most overrated, overdecorated and, currently, over-berated actress, who likes football, of my generation. But that is why you invited me here! Right?

The weight of all these honors is part of what brings me to this podium. It compels me, against every one of my natural instincts (which is to stay home), it compels me to stand up in front of people and say words that haven’t been written for me, but that come from my life and my conviction and that I have to stand by....

It’s terrifying to put the target on your forehead. ... And it sets you up for all sorts of attacks and armies of brownshirts and bots and worse, and the only way you can do it is if you feel you have to. You have to. You don't have an option, but you have to stand up and speak up and act up.

Hear Meryl Streep’s whole speech here.

 

A Tribe Called Quest at Grammys: "Resist, Resist, Resist"

The Grammy Awards on Sunday night, February 12, closed with an electrifying set by the legendary hip-hop crew A Tribe Called Quest joined by Busta Rhymes, Anderson .Paak, and Consequence. At mid-point in the Tribe’s medley of several songs, Busta Rhymes came—on and focused right on the outrages being carried out by Trump and his regime: “I’m not feeling the political climate right now. I just want to thank President Agent Orange for perpetuating all of the evil that you’ve been perpetuating throughout the United States. I want to thank President Agent Orange for your unsuccessful attempt at the Muslim ban. When we come together—we the people, we the people, people!” As he said those words, Tribe member Q-Tip, along with a woman wearing a hijab and others, bust through a wall on the stage.

Q-Tip then launched into the Tribe song “We the People.” And as he went into the hook, which sarcastically hits at those who spew hate and intolerance—“All you Black folks you must go/All you Mexicans you must go/And all you poor folks, you must go/Muslims and gays, boy, we hate your ways/So all you bad folks, you must go”—a diverse grouping of people of different nationalities, genders, and style of clothing walked up on to the stage. The performers all lined up at one point with fists in the air, and protest signs reading “No Wall No Ban” and photos of different faces were projected in the background.

The powerful performance, inspiring performance closed with the chants from the stage: “Resist! Resist! Resist!”

"The Rock," Misty Copeland, Steph Curry Hit Under Armour for Calling Trump an "Asset"

On Tuesday, February 7, on CNBC’s Halftime Report, Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank called Trump “a real asset for the country” and lauded his plans to “make bold decisions and be really decisive.” The next day, ballerina Misty Copeland, actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and NBA star Steph Curry, who all have endorsement deals with the athletic clothing company, spoke out against Plank.

Copeland wrote in an Instagram post, “I strongly disagree with Kevin Plank’s recent comments in support of Trump.” In a Facebook post, Johnson said Plank’s comments were “neither my words, nor my beliefs” and said that he would ultimately “stand with this diverse team, the American and global workers, who are the beating heart and soul of Under Armour.” Curry told the San Jose Mercury News that he agreed with Plank’s comment on Trump... “if you remove the ‘et’” from the word “asset.” When asked if he would abandon Under Armour, Curry said that if “the leadership is not in line with my core values, then there is no amount of money, there is no platform I wouldn’t jump off if it wasn’t in line with who I am.” Curry went on to say, “So that’s a decision I will make every single day when I wake up. If something is not in line with what I’m about, then, yeah, I definitely need to take a stance in that respect.”

George Prochnik on Stefan Zweig, Trump, and "When It's Too Late to Stop Fascism"

George Prochnik wrote the book The Impossible Exile: Stefan Zweig at the End of the World (2015). Zweig was an Austrian novelist, playwright, journalist, and biographer who at the height of his literary career in the 1920s and ’30s, was one of the world’s most popular writers and most widely translated living author. Zweig was a Jewish intellectual and his books were burned in Berlin in 1933. Like millions of others, with the rise of Hitler, he was driven into exile. Zweig went to London, New York, and then to Brazil where he committed suicide in 1942. Prochnik wrote a piece in the February 6 issue of The New Yorker, “When It’s Too Late To Stop Fascism, According to Stefan Zweig.” Prochnik says when Zweig sat down to write his biography, “He was determined to trace how the Nazis’ reign of terror had become possible, and how he and so many others had been blind to its beginnings.” Zweig wrote: “the big democratic newspapers, instead of warning their readers, reassured them day by day, that the [fascist] movement ... would inevitably collapse in no time” and that Hitler had “elevated lying to a matter of course.”

Prochnik writes:

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.

Wagner College (Staten Island, NYC) Profs Denounce Trump Executive Orders

In a February 8 paid ad in the Staten Island Advance newspaper, 33 professors at Wagner College, a liberal arts college in New York City, denounced Trump’s executive orders and other actions. The statement is in the form of an open letter to Representative Dan Donovan, a Republican congressman from a district on Staten Island, who supported Trump’s executive order banning refugees and immigrants from seven majority-Muslim countries saying it was “in America’s best interest.” The Wagner professors’ statement said they “first and foremost” condemn that ban, saying that “this order creates religious discrimination and does so intentionally.”

The professors also condemned Trump’s removal of any mention of climate change and LGBTQ rights from the White House website, Trump’s attacks on the press and fact-based journalism, and his continued profit-making from his global holdings. They ended their statement with: “We believe the above actions, among others, taken by the Trump Administration are a threat to our democracy, our economy, our American values, our international alliances, and the ideals of citizenship and respect for knowledge and diversity that we strive to foster in our students.”

Read the statement and list of signatories (PDF) here.

Two NBA Coaches Take On Trump this Week
Popovich and Kerr Speak on Racial Inequality and the Muslim Ban

From a reader:

This week GQ published an article by Jay Willis, “Gregg Popovich and Steve Kerr Would Make a Great Presidential Ticket” where “these two have no time for the ‘stick to sports’ bullshit.”  Kerr and Popovich, both who are white, have been close friends since Kerr played for the San Antonio Spurs, coached by Popovich.  Kerr coaches the Golden State Warriors in the San Francisco Bay Area.

When Popovich was asked about Black History Month he said,

“But more than anything, I think if people take the time to think about it, I think it is our national sin. It always intrigues me when people come out with, ‘I’m tired of talking about that or do we have to talk about race again?’ And the answer is you’re damned right we do. Because it’s always there, and it’s systemic in the sense that when you talk about opportunity it’s not about ‘Well, if you lace up your shoes and you work hard, then you can have the American dream.’ That’s a bunch of hogwash. If you were born white, you automatically have a monstrous advantage educationally, economically, culturally in this society and all the systemic roadblocks that exist, whether it’s in a judicial sense, a neighborhood sense with laws, zoning, education, we have huge problems in that regard that are very complicated, but take leadership, time, and real concern to try to solve. It’s a tough one because people don’t really want to face it.”

Kerr was born in Lebanon, where his father was president of the American University of Beirut.  His father was murdered at the university by two men in 1984, and soon after an unknown Islamic group called the press to claim responsibility.  Kerr weighed in on Trump’s Muslim Ban this past week when he said,

“As someone whose family member is a victim of terrorism, having lost my father—if we’re trying to combat terrorism by banishing people from coming to this country, we’re really going against the principles of what our country is about, and creating fear. It’s the wrong way to go about it. If anything, we could be breeding anger and terror, so I’m completely against what’s happening. I think it’s shocking. I think it’s a horrible idea and I feel for all the people who are affected, families are being torn apart.”

Kerr also had something to say about the liars in the Trump administration when he told reporters after a game with the Orlando Magic that “Sean Spicer will be talking about my Magic career any second now. 14,000 points. Greatest player in Magic history.”    Kerr actually scored 5,437 points while playing in the NBA from 1988-2003.

Shawn Gaylord, Advocacy Counsel for Human Rights First: "I would call on the entire LGBT community to stand up and say 'not in our name'"

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.

Return to top

Cleveland Clinic Doctors, Medical Students, and Other Medical Staff: Trump's actions "directly harm human health and well-being in the United States and abroad"

When Trump signed the executive order banning Muslims from seven countries from entering the U.S., one of the people affected was a first-year internal medicine student at the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic hospital, Dr. Suha Abushamma. Even though she has a legal visa and documents allowing her to legally study and work in the United States, she was not allowed to re-enter the country because she has a passport from Sudan—one of the seven banned countries—and was forcibly diverted to Saudi Arabia.

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

Return to top

NARAL Pro-Choice America: “Gorsuch represents an existential threat to legal abortion in the United States...”

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.

Emma Stone, Actor: “We have to speak up against injustice, and we have to kick some ass”

At the Screen Actors Guild award on January 29, Emma Stone won the award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role for her work in the film La La Land. In her acceptance speech she said:

We’re in a really tricky time in the world and our country and things are very inexcusable and scary and need action and I’m so grateful to be part of a group of people that cares and that wants to reflect things back to society.

Later in an interview backstage, she said:

We have to speak up against injustice, and we have to kick some ass.... I was thinking about art this year, and that in a time like this, for so many, horrific things are happening. It’s so special to be a part of people who want to reflect what’s happening back to the world and to make people happy. I would hope that people would fight for what’s right and what’s just fucking human....

I think if we’re human beings, and we see injustice, we have to speak up, because staying silent, as they say, only really helps the oppressor. It never helps the victim. So I think that, yes, right now, I would hope that everyone, when seeing things being done that are absolutely unconstitutional and inhumane, would say something, anything. Whether it’s at school or at an awards show or work, offices, or online.

Saira Rafiee, CUNY Grad Student: “We, the 99% of the world, need to stand united in resisting the authoritarian forces all over the world”

Saira Rafiee, an Iranian Ph.D. student in political science at the CUNY (City University of New York) Graduate Center, was traveling back to the U.S. from Iran when Trump issued the executive order banning people from seven majority Muslim countries, including Iran, from entering the U.S. Rafiee, an Iranian citizen, was visiting family and was on her way back to New York, with legal documents, to resume her work and studies at CUNY.

Saira Rafiee wrote on Facebook about what happened:

I got on the flight to Abu Dhabi, but there at the airport was told that I would not be able to enter the U.S. I had to stay there for nearly 18 hours, along with 11 other Iranians, before getting on the flight back to Tehran. I have no clue whether I would ever be able to go back to the school I like so much, or to see my dear friends there. But my story isn’t as painful and terrifying as many other stories I have heard these days

The sufferings of all of us are just one side of this horrendous order. The other side is the struggle against racism and fascism, against assaults on freedom and human dignity, against all the values that even though are far from being realized, are the only things that would make life worth living. As a student of sociology and political science, I have devoted a major part of my scholarly life to the study of authoritarianism. The media has published enough statistics during the past few days to show how irrelevant this order is to the fight against terrorism. It is time to call things by their true names; this is Islamophobia, racism, fascism. We, the 99% of the world, need to stand united in resisting the authoritarian forces all over the world.

Ben Cohen, Founder/Editor of The Daily Banter: “This Is Straight Up Fascism”

Ben Cohen is the founder and editor of The Daily Banter (thedailybanter.com). Originally from London and now living in Washington, DC, he has written for the Huffington Post and ESPN.com. His January 27 article, “Trump's Weekly List of Crimes Committed by Immigrants is Straight Up Fascism,” says in part:

Adding to his list of executive orders and policy proposals designed to roll back civil liberties, wreck the environment and insult foreign nations, the Trump administration is also mandating that Homeland Security “make public a comprehensive list of criminal actions committed by aliens.” This was included in Trump's new executive order on immigration, and according to the Independent, "Will also include details of so-called ‘sanctuary cities’ that refuse to hand over immigrant residents for deportation"...

Make no mistake about it, this is straight up fascism... nothing more than a nasty scare tactic designed to instill fear in white Americans and create a new way of dividing the country along ethnic identity lines. We have seen this over and over again throughout history. Fascist dictators rise to power through the scapegoating of immigrants and minorities, then hold onto office by continuing the tactic. The Trump administration clearly believes it is a winning formula and Trump has made so called "illegals" the focal point of his first few days in office. From insisting that he only lost the popular vote due to (completely non-existent) widespread voter fraud to his executive order to build a wall stopping Mexicans from entering the country, Trump is betting big on white fear keeping him in office. The weekly list of immigrant crime is appalling and will simply fan the flames of xenophobia and hate....

Read Cohen’s article here.

Rihanna: “What an immoral pig”

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.

Cast of Stranger Things: “We will get past the lies. We will hunt monsters!”

On Sunday night, January 29, the Netflix series Stranger Things won the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble. A capsule description of the series says: “In a small Indiana town in the early 1980s, a boy goes missing after finding something sinister lurking in the woods. Nearby, a girl with extraordinary powers escapes from a sinister government facility and joins together with the boy’s friends to get him back.” At the televised SAG award show, David Harbour, who plays Chief Hopper in the series, stepped up to the mic to accept the award on behalf of the cast. After making a number of acknowledgements he turned to current events. He called on his fellow actors to:

Go deeper and through our art battle against fear, self-centeredness, and exclusivity of our predominantly narcissistic culture.... As we act in the continuing narrative of Stranger Things, we 1983 Midwesterners will repel bullies. We will shelter freaks and outcasts, those who have no hope. We will get past the lies. We will hunt monsters! And when we are at a loss amidst the hypocrisy and the casual violence of certain individuals and institutions, we will, as per Chief Hopper, punch some people in the face when they seek to destroy the weak and the disenfranchised and the marginalized! And we will do it all with soul, with heart, and with joy. We thank you for this responsibility.

University Science Professors Call for Defense of Science and Government Scientists

Three university science professors—Graham Coop, Professor of Evolution and Ecology, UC Davis; Michael B. Eisen, Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology, UC Berkeley; Molly Przeworski, Professor of Biological Sciences, Columbia University—have issued a statement in support of scientists within the government who are under attack.

Their message is as follows:

Governmental scientists employed at a subset of agencies have been forbidden from presenting their findings to the public. We have drafted the following response for distribution, and encourage other scientists to post it to their websites, when feasible.

In Defense of Science

We are deeply concerned by the Trump administration’s move to gag scientists working at various governmental agencies. The US government employs scientists working on medicine, public health, agriculture, energy, space, clean water and air, weather, the climate and many other important areas. Their job is to produce data to inform decisions by policymakers, businesses and individuals. We are all best served by allowing these scientists to discuss their findings openly and without the intrusion of politics. Any attack on their ability to do so is an attack on our ability to make informed decisions as individuals, as communities and as a nation.

If you are a government scientist who is blocked from discussing their work, we will share it on your behalf, publicly or with the appropriate recipients. You can email us at USScienceFacts@gmail.com.

Laurence Tribe, Constitutional Law Professor: "Trump must be impeached for abusing his power"

Laurence Tribe, Professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard Law School and the Carl M. Loeb University Professor at Harvard University, sent out a series of tweets on January 28—as thousands of people protested at airports across the U.S. against the anti-Muslim order Trump signed the day before:

Vital to impeach and remove Trump before his cruel brand of bigotry and scapegoating seeps even more deeply into our national bloodstream.

Trump just said what he’s doing at the airports “is working out very nicely.” The man has no eyes, no brain, and no heart.

Trump must be impeached for abusing his power and shredding the Constitution more monstrously than any other President in American history.

The tragic scenes unfolding at JFK and other US airports expose Trump as a heartless merciless monster. He must be stopped.

Trump’s promise to prioritize Christian over Muslim refugees when the 90-day ban lifts violates the Religion Clauses of our First Amendment.

Jewish Voices for Peace on Trump’s Anti-Muslim, Anti-Refugee Order: “We pledge to resist in every way that we can”

On January 25, Jewish Voices for Peace released the following statement in anticipation of Trump’s issuing of an executive order the next day targeting refugees and immigrants from mainly Muslim countries:

As the Trump administration follows through on the some of most harmful and alarming promises of his campaign, we will follow through on ours: to love, defend and fight alongside our friends, neighbors, and communities directly under attack.

Decades of racist, Islamophobic, and xenophobic policies and discourses around national security, the “War on Terror,” and immigration have laid the groundwork for this nightmare set of policies designed to target, profile, surveil and ban people due to their religion, race, national origin or legal status. These new policies will build on existing infrastructure, primarily impacting people who have fled from countries that the United States has bombed or invaded, as well as those whose local economies have been destroyed by our military operations and trade policies.

While the details of these new policies are still unfolding, we pledge to resist in every way that we can. We’ll put our hearts, souls, and bodies on the line to stop hateful and racist attacks. We will organize our communities to stand alongside our Muslim, immigrant & refugee neighbors, in the halls of Congress & government institutions, and in the streets.

We cannot let this stand.

Nikki Giovanni, the well-known African- American poet, essayist, and a University Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech, recently spoke with the Huffington Post. During the interview, she said the following:

“My heart breaks for the next generation with these fools in the white house. Asking us to give Trump a chance is like asking Jews to give Hitler a chance. I read that eight percent of blacks voted for him. That’s like a vote for slavery. I’m so proud of women for standing up at the Women’s Marches all over the country. In Washington it was so crowded that you couldn’t move. These women were telling Donald Trump ‘not on our watch’. Saying they won’t bow down or bend over and take the worse from him. Why take abortion and make us have children and then deny those kids healthcare?...

“Trump will not listen and only a fool would try to reason with him. He is beyond redemption.”

For the entire interview go here:

Philip Roth on Trump: “What is most terrifying is that he makes any and everything possible, including, of course, the nuclear catastrophe”

Philip Roth’s 2004 novel The Plot Against America imagines a scenario where there is a fascist takeover in America—through the ballot box. The aviation pioneer Charles Lindbergh—who in his day was one of the three or four biggest celebrities in the world and a Nazi sympathizer—sweeps the 1940 election in a landslide. Then, in steps both incremental and rapid, fascism comes in. At the time, Roth wrote in the New York Times Book Review that he did not intend to write this as a political roman à clef (a novel in which real people or events appear with invented names). He said he wanted to dramatize some “what-ifs” that never happened in America.

Now Roth is commenting about the current relevance of The Plot Against America. A piece titled “Philip Roth E-Mails On Trump” by Judith Thurman appears in the January 30 issue of The New Yorker. Thurman says Roth was asked via e-mail if the scenario in his book has now happened. Roth’s response, in part:

It isn’t Trump as a character, a human type—the real-estate type, the callow and callous killer capitalist—that outstrips the imagination. It is Trump as President of the United States.

I was born in 1933, the year that F.D.R. was inaugurated. He was President until I was twelve years old. I’ve been a Roosevelt Democrat ever since. I found much that was alarming about being a citizen during the tenures of Richard Nixon and George W. Bush. But, whatever I may have seen as their limitations of character or intellect, neither was anything like as humanly impoverished as Trump is: ignorant of government, of history, of science, of philosophy, of art, incapable of expressing or recognizing subtlety or nuance, destitute of all decency, and wielding a vocabulary of seventy-seven words that is better called Jerkish than English...

Unlike writers in Eastern Europe in the nineteen-seventies, American writers haven’t had their driver’s licenses confiscated and their children forbidden to matriculate in academic schools. Writers here don’t live enslaved in a totalitarian police state, and it would be unwise to act as if we did, unless—or until—there is a genuine assault on our rights and the country is drowning in Trump’s river of lies. In the meantime, I imagine writers will continue robustly to exploit the enormous American freedom that exists to write what they please, to speak out about the political situation, or to organize as they see fit...

My novel wasn’t written as a warning. I was just trying to imagine what it would have been like for a Jewish family like mine, in a Jewish community like Newark, had something even faintly like Nazi anti-Semitism befallen us in 1940, at the end of the most pointedly anti-Semitic decade in world history. I wanted to imagine how we would have fared, which meant I had first to invent an ominous American government that threatened us. As for how Trump threatens us, I would say that, like the anxious and fear-ridden families in my book, what is most terrifying is that he makes any and everything possible, including, of course, the nuclear catastrophe.

The New Yorker piece with quotes from Philip Roth is available online here.

Roger Cohen, NY Times Columnist: “Trump’s outrageous claims have a purpose: to destroy rational thought”

Roger Cohen is an author and columnist for the New York Times. Before becoming a columnist for the Times, he worked as a foreign correspondent in 15 countries. In the January 24 edition of the Times, his column titled “The Banal Belligerence of Donald Trump” said in part:

I have tried to tread carefully with analogies between the Fascist ideologies of 1930s Europe and Trump. American democracy is resilient. But the first days of the Trump presidency—whose roots of course lie in far more than the American military debacles since 9/11—pushed me over the top. The president is playing with fire.

To say, as he did, that the elected representatives of American democracy are worthless and that the people are everything is to lay the foundations of totalitarianism. It is to say that democratic institutions are irrelevant and all that counts is the great leader and the masses he arouses. To speak of “carnage” is to deploy the dangerous lexicon of blood, soil and nation. To boast of “a historic movement, the likes of which the world has never seen before” is to demonstrate consuming megalomania. To declaim “America first” and again, “America first,” is to recall the darkest clarion calls of nationalist dictators. To exalt protectionism is to risk a return to a world of barriers and confrontation. To utter falsehood after falsehood, directly or through a spokesman, is to foster the disorientation that makes crowds susceptible to the delusions of strongmen.

Trump’s outrageous claims have a purpose: to destroy rational thought. When Primo Levi arrived at Auschwitz he reached, in his thirst, for an icicle outside his window but a guard snatched it away. “Warum?” Levi asked (why?). To which the guard responded, “Hier ist kein warum” (here there is no why).

As the great historian Fritz Stern observed, “This denial of ‘why’ was the authentic expression of all totalitarianism, revealing its deepest meaning, a negation of Western civilization.”

Americans are going to have to fight for their civilization and the right to ask why against the banal belligerence of Trump.

Read the whole Cohen column here.

Poem by Nina Donovan, “I am a nasty woman” performed by Ashley Judd at Women’s March: “I feel Hitler in these streets”

The poem, “I am a nasty woman” by 19-year-old Nina Donovan was performed by actress Ashley Judd at the Women’s March in Washington, DC on January 21. It starts:

I’m not nasty as a man who looks like he bathes in Cheetos dust.

A man whose words are a distract to America.
Electoral college-sanctioned, hate-speech contaminating this national anthem.
I’m not as nasty as Confederate flags being tattooed across my city.
Maybe the South actually is going to rise again.
Maybe for some it never really fell.
Blacks are still in shackles and graves, just for being black.
Slavery has been reinterpreted as the prison system in front of people who see melanin as animal skin.

I am not as nasty as a swastika painted on a pride flag, and I didn’t know devils could be resurrected but I feel Hitler in these streets.
A mustache traded for a toupee.
Nazis renamed the Cabinet Electoral Conversion Therapy, the new gas chambers shaming the gay out of America, turning rainbows into suicide.
I am not as nasty as racism, fraud, conflict of interest, homophobia, sexual assault, transphobia, white supremacy, misogyny, ignorance, white privilege ... your daughter being your favorite sex symbol, like your wet dreams infused with your own genes.
Yeah, I’m a nasty woman — a loud, vulgar, proud woman.

To listen to the whole poem performed by Ashley Judd go here:

Sierra Club on Trump's Energy Plan: "A shameful and dark start"

The Sierra Club is the largest grassroots environmental organization in the U.S., with more than 2.7 million members and supporters. On the day of his inauguration, Trump released his energy plan (available on the White House website). In response, Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune released the following statement:

Minutes after he was sworn in, any illusion that Trump would act in the best interests of families in this country as President were wiped away by a statement of priorities that constitute an historic mistake on one of the key crises facing our planet and an assault on public health. What Trump has released is hardly a plan—it’s a polluter wishlist that will make our air and water dirtier, our climate and international relations more unstable, and our kids sicker. This is a shameful and dark start to Trump’s Presidency, and a slap in the face to any American who thought Trump might pursue the national interest.

Matthew Rothschild: “Trumpolini.... Beware”

Matthew Rothschild is the executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a nonprofit, nonpartisan political watchdog group. His January 21 article titled, “The fascist overtones in Trump’s inaugural address” starts underneath a photo of Benito Mussolini, leader of Italy's National Fascist Party from 1922 until 1943, and says in part:

It was hard to listen to Trump’s inaugural address without hearing some not-so-faint echoes of fascism.

The most obvious was his invocation of “America First” as the “new vision” that “will govern our land.” But it’s not a new vision or a new name. In fact, “America First” was the name of the isolationist and anti-Semitic organization in the 1930s that wanted to accommodate Nazi Germany.

But there were other echoes as well....

Like 20th century fascists, he extolled the nation’s “glorious destiny.” He saluted “the great men and women of our military and law enforcement.”

And then he invoked the divine will. “Most importantly,” he said, “we are protected by God.”

And let’s not forget that his campaign slogan and the coda to his inaugural address, “Make America great again,” itself strikes a fascist chord: nostalgia for national greatness, mixed with grievances (that can lead to scapegoating) about who is to blame for the loss of such greatness.

If you were looking for Trump to take the high ground in his inaugural address and call on “the better angels of ourselves,” you were kidding yourself.

That is not who he is. He is Trumpolini.

Beware.

To read the whole article go here

Big Bang Theory on Eve of Trump Inauguration: “Beware of Darkness”

Vanity cards have become a trademark for Chuck Lorre Productions. At the end of every episode of shows Lorre produces there are different messages that read somewhat like a comment or observation on life or what’s going on in society. This was done with shows Lorre produced like Dharma & Greg and Two and a Half Men. And these vanity cards appear at the end of The Big Bang Theory—the #1 comedy on TV for many seasons. On the eve of Donald Trump’s inauguration, the message that flashed across at the end of The Big Bang was the lyrics to George Harrison’s song, “Beware of Darkness”:

Watch out now, take care,
Beware of greedy leaders
They’ll take you where you should not go
While Weeping Atlas Cedars
They just want to grow, grow and grow
Beware of darkness

Then another quote, this one from Monty Python:

Run away! Run Away!

Roger Waters from Pink Floyd on Inauguration: "The resistance begins today"

Roger Waters, English singer, songwriter, bassist, and composer, is the co-founder of the rock band Pink Floyd—internationally known for albums like The Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall. On January 20, the day of Trump’s inauguration, Waters posted a video for his Trump-slamming performance of “Pigs (Three Different Ones)” in Mexico City last October. A message also went up on his Facebook: “The resistance begins today.”

The performance took place in Zόcalo Square before 300,000 fans. During the song, the huge screens flash graphics of ugly Trump faces with text like “Charade” and “Gotta stem the evil tide.” There is an image of Trump doing a Hitler Nazi salute and the KKK. At the end, disgusting quotes from Trump are seen on the screen. The final text: “Trump eres un pendejo” (Trump, you’re an asshole).”

Some of the lyrics to “Pigs (Three Different Ones)”:

Big man, pig man, ha ha charade you are
You well heeled big wheel, ha ha charade you are
And when your hand is on your heart
You’re nearly a good laugh
Almost a joker
With your head down in the pig bin
Saying “Keep on digging.”
Pig stain on your fat chin
What do you hope to find
When you’re down in the pig mine
You’re nearly a laugh
You’re nearly a laugh
But you’re really a cry

Petition to White House Correspondents' Association: "Stand up to Trump's blacklist"

At his January 11 press conference, Trump refused to take a question from CNN reporter Jim Acosta, saying, “You are fake news.” Angelo Carusone from Media Matters posted a petition, “Tell the White House Press Corps: Stand up to Trump’s blacklist,” to be delivered to the White House Correspondents’ Association, which says:

If Trump blacklists or bans one of you, the rest of you need to stand up. Instead of ignoring Trump’s bad behavior and going about your business, close ranks and stand up for journalism. Don’t keep talking about what Trump wants to talk about. Stand up and fight back. Amplify your colleague’s inquiry or refuse to engage until he removes that person/outlet from the blacklist.

The goal is to get 300,000 signatures. As of January 22, nearly 290,200 people had signed. The petition includes a background that says in part:

Trump has a history of doing this—and worse.

He has literally banned the Des Moines Register from covering his events. He banned Univsion from attending his events. He revoked The Washington Post’s credentials for a period in retaliation for a headline that he didn’t like. He revoked Politico’s credentials for a while to punish them for an article he didn’t like. BuzzFeed—which Trump called “a pathetic pile of garbage” during the press conference—has been on a blacklist since June of 2015. The Daily Beast is on the blacklist and is almost always denied credentials as a result. This list isn’t exhaustive, either.

But journalists covering Trump don’t learn. Time and time again, as one outlet after another is frozen out, reporters continue to go about their interactions with Trump and his people as if nothing is wrong.

Enough is enough. Some principles are more important than competition among news outlets....

To read the petition and full background go here.

Citizen Therapists Against Trumpism: "We cannot remain silent as we witness the rise of an American form of fascism"

Citizen Therapists for Democracy, an association of psychotherapists, states that their mission is to: “Learn and spread transformative ways to practice therapy with a public dimension; Rebuild democratic capacity in communities; and Resist anti-democratic ideologies and practices.” The website of Citizen Therapists for Democracy contains “A Public Manifesto” from Citizen Therapists Against Trumpism. It has been signed by 3,500 people and says in part:

As psychotherapists practicing in the United States, we are alarmed by the rise of the ideology of Trumpism, which we see as a threat to the well-being of the people we care for and to American democracy itself. We cannot remain silent as we witness the rise of an American form of fascism. We can leverage this time of crisis to deepen our commitment to American democracy....

Why speak collectively? Our responses thus far have been primarily personal—and too often confined to arm-chair diagnoses of Donald Trump. But a collective crisis faces our nation, a harkening back to the economic depression and demoralization of the 1930s (which fed European fascism) and the upheaval over Jim Crow and Black civil rights in the 1950s.... As therapists, we have been entrusted by society with collective responsibility in the arena of mental, behavioral, and relational health. When there is a public threat to our domain of responsibility we must speak out together, not just to protest but to deepen our commitment to a just society and a democratic way of life. This means being citizen therapists who are concerned with community well-being as much as personal well-being, since the two are inextricably joined.

To read the whole statement go here.

Punk Band United Nations on Inauguration Day: "Never Again Is Fucking Happening Again"

United Nations, hardcore supergroup led by frontman for the band Thursday, Geoff Rickly, released a new song on January 20, the day of Trump’s inauguration. The song is called “Stairway to Mar-a-Lago”—Mar-a-Lago is Trump’s estate in Florida which he says will be his “winter White House.”

Some of the lyrics go:

Dimwitted bigot
Misplacing sympathies
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

Never again,
Again and again
Never again is
Fucking happening
Again

New from Outernational: "Decision"—"How will you live? What will you decide?"

The band Outernational released a new song and video on the morning of the Trump inauguration, titled “Decision.” Miles Solay of Outernational wrote, “I am writing to you from the USA on the morning that a fascist regime is being coronated. I will be in the streets of Washington, DC today and tomorrow. The regime of Donald Trump and Mike Pence is illegitimate because fascism is illegitimate. If ever there was a time in our lives to act as if the future depended on us, now would be that time. GET INVOLVED AND TAKE TO THE STREETS WHEREVER YOU ARE.”

The lyrics of “Decision” include:

Decision!
Enforced!
You can’t say you hate this
While you’re waiting for the cure...

Deception!
All the lies!
America was never great
Eat your apple pie and genocide

Decision!
Of your life!
How will you live?
What will you decide?...

Listen and download audio here.

New Anti-Trump Song by Entrance: "Not Gonna Say Your Name"

“There are people who say we ought to give you a chance. But there’s not a chance in hell that we’ll sit back and watch you try to turn back the clock and sigh and say, oh well.”

This is how “Not Gonna Say Your Name” starts—a new song released on January 16 by Los Angeles-based musician Guy Blakeslee (aka ENTRANCE). The song’s video features clips of anti-Trump protests that broke out in the days after the election.

Blakeslee says, “I really wanted to write a song expressing my own feelings about the election and the state of things in our country—like many I was in a state of mourning. I wondered, how can I sing about this without saying his name?” All proceeds from song purchases are going to Planned Parenthood. Blakeslee said: “I decided to use the song to benefit PP because one of the things that is so shocking about the election result is that it sends such a negative message to women and girls.... It’s the least I could do - for all of the women in the world, in my life, and especially for my mother - to fight back and make a clear statement that we will not accept this backwards agenda.” In a piece in TheTalkhouse, Blakeslee wrote:

When the result was called at the crack of dawn that November morning, I knew I had to come back home as soon as possible and join with my fellow Americans in resisting this imminent slide toward fascism, tyranny, intolerance, bigotry, sexism, xenophobia and unchecked capitalist pillaging.

In a psychological state quite similar to mourning, I was inspired and comforted watching from afar on social media as friends and family joined hundreds of thousands of others in the streets and wished I could be there with them to say NO to hatred and regression and YES to love and continued communal progress.

While in Amsterdam a few days later, the idea for this song (“Not Gonna Say Your Name” ) came to me; I was writing a lot of angry words and I was desperately trying to figure out how to say something positive, to make some kind of contribution and offer a different way of thinking about the situation instead of just complaining and fixating on this person that so many of us can’t help but despise.

To read the whole piece by Blakeslee go here

To watch the video of “Not Gonna Say Your Name” go here.

News of Girl Scouts Marching for Trump Inauguration “filled me with rage”

The Girl Scouts of America have come under severe criticism for its decision to have 75 Girl Scouts march in Trump’s inauguration parade. People are saying they should not participate—given Trump’s ugly comments about women and Pence’s extreme anti-abortion views. Jean Hannah Edelstein, a New York-born, London-based journalist and the author of Himglish and Femalese: Why Women Don’t Get Why Men Don’t Get Them, wrote in a January 18 opinion piece in the Guardian:

The news that the Girl Scouts are sending a contingent to participate in Donald Trump’s inauguration filled me with real rage. How can an organization that promises to build “girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place” send them to celebrate the ascent of a leader who would likely consider them fair game for sexual assault if they grow up to be “beautiful”?

...what would be emotionally and physically safe for a girl about watching the swearing-in of Mike Pence as Vice President, a man who’s sworn to overturn the laws that allow them to use the bathrooms where they feel safe? What of Muslim Girl Scouts, who’ve been told that their names will be put on a list, or undocumented girls, who are also welcome to join Girl Scouts? Should they march, or should only the girls who Donald Trump might one day rate “a 10” be encouraged to participate?

...Yes, it’s a tradition: they’ve marched at inauguration for decades. But does tradition justify collaboration with an administration that promises to oppress the young women it’s supposed to serve? As shown by John Lewis and the other members of Congress who are choosing to skip the inauguration, sometimes human rights are more important than protocol. The Girl Scouts is an organization that has stood up for the human rights of girls and women for many years. Why quit now?

Read this whole piece here.

Charles M. Blow on the Day Before Inauguration Day: "Are You Not Alarmed?"

New York Times columnist, Charles M. Blow’s piece on January 19, 2017 is titled, “Are You Not Alarmed?” and says:

I continue to be astonished that not enough Americans are sufficiently alarmed and abashed by the dangerous idiocies that continue to usher forth from the mouth of the man who will on Friday be inaugurated as president of the United States.

Toss ideology out of the window. This is about democracy and fascism, war and peace, life and death. I wish that I could write those words with the callous commercialism with which some will no doubt read them, as overheated rhetoric simply designed to stir agitation, provoke controversy and garner clicks. But alas, they are not. These words are the sincere dispatches of an observer, writer and citizen who continues to see worrisome signs of a slide toward the exceedingly unimaginable by a man who is utterly unprepared.

In a series of interviews and testimonies Donald Trump and his cronies have granted in the last several days, they have demonstrated repeatedly how destabilizing, unpredictable and indeed unhinged the incoming administration may be. Their comments underscore the degree to which this administration may not simply alter our democracy beyond recognition, but also potentially push us into armed conflict...

This is insanity. But too many Americans don’t want to see this threat for what it is. International affairs and the very real threat of escalating militarization and possibly even military conflict seems much harder to grasp than the latest inflammatory tweet.

Maybe people think this possibility is unthinkable. Maybe people are just hoping and praying that cooler heads will prevail. Maybe they think that Trump’s advisers will smarten him up and talk him down.

But where is your precedent for that? When has this man been cautious or considerate? This man with loose lips and tweeting thumbs may very well push us into another war, and not with a country like Afghanistan, but with a nuclear-armed country with something to prove.

Are you not alarmed?

To read the whole piece go here.

Green Day: Trump and "Troubled Times"

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
Paradise burning
So don't think twice

We live in troubled times
We live in troubled times

Rapper T.I.: "Be Aware or Be Bamboozled"

On MLK Day, Rapper T.I. (Tip Harris) sent out a series of tweets and videos addressed to Black celebrities and athletes who are meeting with Trump.

“Attn.!!!! Be clear.... There IS an agenda behind all these meetings. “There’s a strategic plan that people are trying to make you a part of.... Do not accept any invitation to have any meeting, no matter how positive you think the outcome may be.” “Given what’s going on between him & Congressman Lewis... All y’all looking CRAZY right now!!!! Be Aware, BE Alert, Or Be Bamboozled.”

One tweet has a photo of Malcolm X with a quote from him: “The first thing the (white racist) does when he comes in power, he takes all the Negro leaders and invites them for coffee. To show that he’s all right. And those Uncle Toms can’t pass up the coffee. They come away from the coffee table telling you and me that this man is all right.” T.I. writes: “Sound familiar? Malcolm knew it then.... Be Aware, Be Alert, or Be Bamboozled.”

One tweet addresses Trump: “Should it ever seem at times like we are against you, I assure it is a result of you defining yourself as the representative of those who are and who always have been against us... The deck has always been stacked against us in this country. With every generation there has been strategic steps to oppress, imprison, and control us.”

See T.I.’s tweets and videos here.

Statement from Michael Dietler, professor of anthropology at the University of Chicago, at Chicago Protest Against Trump-Pence Regime and Police Terror on MLK Day

A small but determined group of protesters rallied in the cold Chicago rain on MLK Day, where Christian clergy, representatives from the Muslim community, and youth spoke along with other fighters in the movement to Stop Trump and Pence. After the rally the protest took off in two parallel marches down both sides of State Street, stopping on the corners to speak to people who were out on the cold, wet street. Protestors criss-crossed back and forth across State Street, blocking traffic briefly a number of times. Some people along the route joined in the march briefly, and others took up posters and/or bundles of the Call and were organized to organize others in the fight to stop the fascist Trump-Pence regime.

Speakers at the rally addressed the need and possibility of stopping the Trump-Pence regime from taking power and the recently released Justice Department report detailing years of abuse of Black and brown people by the Chicago police. They included Rev. Gregg Greer of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference; Rev.Pughsley; Salman Aftab from the American Muslim Task Force on Civil Rights and Elections; Raja Yaqub from the American Muslim Aliance; and a middle school student who spoke about the terror Pence will bring to the LGBTQ community with his promotion of electro-shock torture “conversion therapy.” The following statement from Michael Dietler, professor of anthropology at the University of Chicago was read.

This day, of all days, should raise awareness of the danger that Donald Trump poses to this country, and to the world. The contrast with Martin Luther King could not be stronger.

Today the nation honors a fearless champion of human rights and human dignity, a man of principle who dedicated his life to the service of others and was willing to be sacrificed in the struggle against injustice. We also honor all those heroes of the Civil Rights movement, those thousands of ordinary people who courageously put their bodies and their lives on the line to oppose the racist, oppressive, violent regimes that tried to deny people their rights.

In ironic contrast, this Friday, a new president will be sworn in who waged a disgraceful campaign of lies and deceit, of racist bigotry and hatred, of misogyny, fear, and ignorance. Donald Trump has no principles, no concern for anyone but himself. He has spent his life in the relentless pursuit of personal wealth and power, using any means available without regard to the consequences for others.

He is a liar, fraud, and a dangerous egomaniac who has already normalized racism, xenophobia, and misogyny and prepared a cabinet of robber barons ready to pillage the country. Now is the time for all good people of conscience to come together to oppose this destructive force, before it is too late. Let the voice of the people rise again in solidarity with the spirit of the Civil Rights movement: justice and equality for all! Stand up against racism, xenophobia, misogyny, and greed!

Clip from Ava DuVernay Documentary 13th—Searing Exposure of Trump on the “Good Old Days”

Ava DuVernay is an American director, screenwriter, film marketer, and film distributor. Her film Selma, which told the story of the campaign led by Dr. Martin Luther King for equal voting right and the famous march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965,was nominated for Best Picture at the 2014 Oscars. And DuVernay became first Black female director to be nominated for a Golden Globe Award.

DuVernay’s recent Netflix documentary 13th just picked up three Critics’ Choice Awards and is on the Oscar shortlist for best documentary. 13th, named for the constitutional amendment that abolished slavery with the exception of punishment for crime, digs deeply into and exposes the rise of mass incarceration in the USA. 13th includes a series of powerful clips that shows Donald Trump and footage from the Civil Right era—where Trump is talking about “the good old days.”

During the film’s press screening at the New York Film Festival in October, DuVernay talked about how she debated whether to include Trump, who at the time was the Republican presidential candidate, in the documentary. She said, “Take him out? Leave him in? No, he doesn’t deserve a place in this thing, and such. But you gotta show that stuff because it’s too important and it can’t be forgotten,”

13th is available to stream on Netflix.

Pete Vernon in Columbia Journalism Review: "Trump and his team have shown a willingness to retaliate, bully, and ban journalists"

At his January 11 press conference, Trump refused to take a question from CNN reporter Jim Acosta, saying, “You are fake news.” In an article in the Columbia Journalism Review titled “Trump berated a CNN reporter, and fellow journalists missed an opportunity” Pete Vernon says:

CNN Senior White House Correspondent Jim Acosta stood pleading with Trump to acknowledge his question, referencing earlier attacks made by Trump and his press secretary about the accuracy of a CNN report detailing Trump’s ties to Russia. “Mr. President-elect, since you have been attacking our news organization, can you give us a chance?” Acosta yelled above the scrum of reporters.

“No! Not you. No! Your organization is terrible,” the President-elect shot back. When Acosta persisted in shouting for recognition, Trump pointed a finger at him and said, “Don’t be rude. No, I’m not going to give you a question.”

Trump then turned to the next question, and the press conference proceeded from there. It was a striking moment not only for the direct confrontation between the two men, but also for the fact that it seemed to have no effect on other journalists in the room. No one immediately leapt to Acosta’s defense....

I wished those journalists in attendance had picked up Acosta’s line of questioning, or even refused to continue asking questions, until the President-elect acknowledged the organization he had earlier attacked....

Next Friday, the new administration begins. As a candidate, and now as the President-elect, Trump and his team have shown a willingness to retaliate, bully, and ban journalists whose questions he doesn’t want to answer. As an industry, we must be prepared for more moments like today’s, and we must be ready to respond accordingly.

Peter Vernon’s article is available online here.

Theologians Raise Opposition to Jeff Sessions for "positions that compromise the rights of these vulnerable populations"

A group of Christian theologians of various denominations delivered an open letter to the heads of the Senate Judiciary Committee to oppose the nomination of Jeff Sessions as U.S. Attorney General. The signatories include Peter Goodwin Heltzel, New York Theological Seminary; Jeannine Hill Fletcher, Fordham University; Gary Agee, Anderson University (Indiana); Cornel West, Harvard University; James Cone, Union Theological Seminary; Jim Wallis, Sojourner; and others.

The theologians’ letter says in part:

Vulnerable populations in our country—victims of police brutality, undocumented workers, LGBTQ persons, women, people of color, and people of non-Christian faiths—are placed at increased risk of further harm when our laws are not upheld. Yet, throughout his career, Senator Sessions has taken positions that compromise the rights of these vulnerable populations. His racist comments reflect prejudice against people of color. His opposition to immigration reform, LGBTQ rights, women’s rights and equal access for persons with disabilities make it unlikely that he shares the Christian vision of justice and protection of the vulnerable that we embrace.

The letter and signatories are available online here.

Powerful Video Produced by Katy Perry: #DontNormalizeHate

A moving and deeply thought-provoking PSA video produced by Katy Perry asks the question: is history repeating itself? The short video features actor Hina Khan, a Muslim of Pakistani heritage, and begins with the voice of 89-year-old Haru Kuromiya—recalling how, when she was a girl during World War 2, her family, along with about 120,000 other Japanese Americans, were first put on a registry and then forced by the U.S. government into concentration (internment) camps.

According to the LA Times, “Codirected by filmmakers Aya Tanimura and Tim Nackashi, the #DontNormalizeHate PSA landed the early support of director Spike Jonze and actor-activist George Takei. But it was Perry whom Tanimura credits for making the short possible.” The video has close to 300,000 views since it was posted on YouTube—it should be seen by millions. Watch it below:

Bruce Springsteen: "The country feels very estranged..."

Bruce Springsteen on Marc Maron’s WRTF podcast on January 2 (at the end) is asked what his biggest fear is about Trump and says:

That a lot of the worst things and the worst aspects of what he appealed to come to fruition. When you let that genie out of the bottle – bigotry, racism, when you let those things out of the bottle, intolerance, they don't go back in the bottle that easily if they go back in at all. Whether it's a rise in hate crimes, people feeling they have license to speak and behave in ways that previously were considered un-American and are un-American. That's what he's appealing to. And so my fears are that those things find a place in ordinary, civil society; demeans the discussions and events of the day and the country changes in a way that is unrecognizable and we become estranged, as you say, you say hey well, wait a minute you voted for Trump, I thought I knew who you were, I’m not sure. The country feels very estranged, you feel very estranged from your countrymen. So those are all dangerous things and he hasn’t even taken office yet.

The podcast is available here

Children's and YA authors refuse "to quietly accept or assent to this 'Gleichschaltung,' this getting in line with fascism and making it mainstream"

Recently, Threshold, an imprint of the book publisher Simon & Schuster, gave a $250,000 book deal to Milo Yiannopoulos, writer for the neo-Nazi, white-supremacist Breitbart News Network and supporter of Trump. There was immediate outrage against the deal from writers, bookstores, book reviewers, and others. (See “Outrage at Simon & Schuster’s Book Deal for Pro-Trump Racist.”) Now more than 160 children’s and young adult (YA) book authors and illustrators with Simon & Schuster have sent a letter protesting the deal to the Simon & Schuster CEO and “all the readers and supporters of books for children.”

As technology editor at Breitbart, Yiannopoulos promoted “GamerGate,” a vicious flood of degrading attacks and terroristic threats against prominent women in the video game development community. This summer he was banned from Twitter after his followers carried out a racist harassment campaign against Black comedian/actor Leslie Jones.

The letter from the authors and illustrators reads in part:

Threshold has placed Simon & Schuster’s considerable reputation and weight behind one of the most prominent faces of the newly repackaged white supremacist/white nationalist movement and financially supported a man who routinely denigrates, verbally attacks, and directs dangerous internet doxxing and hate campaigns against women, minorities, LGBTQ individuals, Muslims, and anyone he chooses to target who supports equality and human decency. Irrespective of the content of this book, by extending a mainstream publication contract, Threshold has chosen to legitimize this reprehensible belief system, these behaviors, and white supremacy itself....

As Simon & Schuster authors and illustrators who are already published, with books in the release pipeline, with contracts in place, we do not have to quietly accept or assent to this “Gleichschaltung,” this getting in line with fascism and making it mainstream. We reject the wisdom of this decision. This man, and this book, are not America. This man, and this book, are not the bulk of Simon & Schuster. This man, and this book, are not us, the authors and illustrators of Simon & Schuster. We believe that the children we write for deserve a better America.

Among the signers of the letter are winners of Newbery, Caldecott, and National Book Award honors, including Cassandra Clare, Laurie Halse Anderson, Christian Robinson, Dan Santat, Marla Frazee, Ellen Hopkins, and Rachel Renée Russell. The Publisher’s Weekly article on this, including the text of the full letter and the list of signatories, is available online here.

Charlotte Church, Singer, Refuses Invitation from Tyrant Trump

Charlotte Church is a Welch singer who performs in many genres and has a big following. She has sold over ten million records worldwide.

The Trump team, which has already been turned down by most of the entertainers they have asked to perform at the inauguration, sent an invitation to Church. Church tweeted her reply directly to Trump @realDonaldTrump:

“Your staff have asked me to sing at your inauguration, a simple Internet search would show I think you’re a tyrant. Bye.”

Her message was followed by four poop emoji.

This is the link to her tweet.

Australian Tennis Star: T-Shirt Statement on Trump

At the Australian Open tennis tournament, Australian tennis star Nick Kyrgios made a statement about Donald Trump with his T-shirt. During his match with Rafael Nadal he wore a shirt that had Trump’s face covered with devil-like illustrations and the words “Fuck Donald Trump” at the bottom.

Nick Kyrgios wearing anti-Trump T-shirt

Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights: "Sessions has 30-year record of racial insensitivity, bias against immigrants, disregard for the rule of law, and hostility to the protection of civil rights"

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights sent a letter to the U.S. Senate opposing the confirmation of Sessions as Attorney General, saying:

On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition of more than 200 national organizations committed to promote and protect the civil and human rights of all persons in the United States, and the 144 undersigned organizations, we are writing to express our strong opposition to the confirmation of Senator Jefferson B. Sessions (R-AL) to be the 84th Attorney General of the United States.
Senator Sessions has a 30-year record of racial insensitivity, bias against immigrants, disregard for the rule of law, and hostility to the protection of civil rights that makes him unfit to serve as the Attorney General of the United States. In our democracy, the Attorney General is charged with enforcing our nation’s laws without prejudice and with an eye toward justice. And, just as important, the Attorney General has to be seen by the public—every member of the public, from every community—as a fair arbiter of justice. Unfortunately, there is little in Senator Sessions’ record that demonstrates that he would meet such a standard.

To read the whole letter go here

Shaun King: "One of the most dishonest men on Earth is about to become our leader"

Shaun King’s column in the Monday, January 9 New York Daily News was titled “Americans must call Trump out on lies, not get so used to them that we become desensitized to his dishonesty.” King writes, in part:

Last night, Meryl Streep, in an acceptance speech for a lifetime achievement award that she won at the Golden Globes, reminded the audience that our incoming President once openly mocked a reporter with a physical disability from the stage of a rally....Trump has now outrageously said he has no recollection of ever meeting Kovaleski and was not aware of his disability, but that is another outrageous lie. He did not meet Kovaleski once or twice. He did not meet him three or four times, or even half a dozen times, but met with Kovaleski at least a dozen times across the years. They met in Trump’s office, at events, and at press conferences. They were so close that Kovaleski described them as being “on a first name basis for years.”

To fight back against Streep reminding us of what he did, Trump is lying about lies about lies. His lies have so many layers that it often seems like he gets lost and simply cannot keep up....

Our incoming President of the United States is a liar. He tells them often. He lies far more often than he tells the truth. We must call him out on it. We must not become desensitized to his lies. We must not get so used to them that they become normal to us.

One of the most dishonest men on Earth is about to become our leader. I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t deeply concerned about what comes next.

To read the whole piece by Shaun King, go here.

Meryl Streep at Golden Globe Awards Speaks Out on Trump: "When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose"

On Sunday night, January 8, Meryl Streep received The Cecil B. DeMille Award, an honorary Golden Globe Award given by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for “outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment.” In accepting the award, she said, in part:

An actor’s only job is to enter the lives of people who are different from us and let you feel what that feels like. And there were many, many, many powerful performances this year that did exactly that—breathtaking compassionate work. But there was one performance this year that stunned me. It sank its hooks in my heart. Not because it was good. There was nothing good about it. But it was effective and it did its job. It made its intended audience laugh and show their teeth. It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter, someone he outranked in privilege, power and the capacity to fight back. It kind of broke my heart when I saw it and I still can’t get it out of my head because it wasn’t in a movie. It was real life. And this instinct to humiliate, when it’s modeled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody’s life because it kind of gives permission for other people to do the same thing. Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence incites violence. When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.

Watch Meryl Streep’s acceptance speech here

Jello Biafra on Trump: "What we're looking at here is Jim Crow 2.0"

Jello Biafra is the former lead singer for the band Dead Kennedys, known for songs like “California Über Alles” and “Nazi Punks Fuck Off.” In a recent interview in Rolling Stone magazine he said:

As laughable as Rick Perry has been as governor of Texas and other [presidential] campaigns, he’s also very dangerous. At first they were saying Secretary of Agriculture for him, but then suddenly Secretary of Energy. That dude is in charge of our nukes now and he’s also part of a fundamentalist Christian doomsday cult. ... It was basically yet another cult like the one Sarah and Todd Palin prescribed, whose whole mindset was “Jesus is coming soon, and in order to expedite we should be wasting every last natural resource and clear-cutting every tree we can right now because Jesus is coming back again. It’s OK to run up further budget deficits, because Jesus loves America, he’s going to put the money back.”...

People are freaked out that Trump has made the head of Exxon the Secretary of State, and the guy is so tight and in bed with Putin—well, there’s another part of Rex Tillerson I hope people are going to highlight, too. He’s the one who finally admitted climate change existed as head of Exxon, but then he said mankind will adapt and so it’s no big deal....

What we’re looking at here is Jim Crow 2.0, and they’re going to be even more hardcore about that in the 2018 election, to keep anybody with a conscience from being able to vote. Look at who the new Attorney General is going to be, the same guy who in the Eighties said he thought the people in the Ku Klux Klan were all right “until I saw some of them smoked pot.”

Cornell William Brooks: NAACP opposes nomination of Jeff Sessions "bodily, spiritually, morally, by encouraging civil disobedience"

Cornell William Brooks, president and CEO of the NAACP, and five other civil rights leaders were arrested January 3 after sitting in at Jeff Sessions’ office in Washington, DC, demanding the withdrawal of his nomination by Trump for Attorney General. In a January 5 interview on Democracy Now, Brooks said:

Our objections are, fundamentally, Senator Sessions represents a kind of dim and dystopian view of American civil liberties and civil rights. And so our objections are at least threefold, first of which is that he has demonstrated an unwillingness to acknowledge the reality of voter suppression that we have seen from one end of the country to the other, as attested to in the Fourth Circuit decision that found voter suppression in North Carolina, the Fifth Circuit decision which found voter suppression in Texas. He has not acknowledged the reality of that, and certainly not the reality of voter suppression in his own state...

In terms of immigration rights, he is one—among one of the most conservative, ultraconservative, extremist senators in terms of his opposition to comprehensive immigration reform. In addition to that, he has voiced an openness to a immigration ban on a global religion, namely Islam, which cannot be squared in any way, shape, fashion or form with the U.S. Constitution.

Number three, his views on criminal justice reform stand in stark contrast to both red state and blue state governors. In other words, he stands for law and order in Nixonian and draconian terms, at a moment in which we have over 2 million Americans behind bars, 65 million Americans with criminal records, 1 million fathers behind bars....

Brooks said the NAACP is “unapologetically opposed” to Sessions and is calling for civil disobedience protests:

The board of directors of the NAACP voted to oppose this nomination. And we’re doing so not only as a matter of policy, but we’re doing so bodily, spiritually, morally, by encouraging civil disobedience—that is to say, standing in the tradition of Mohandas K. Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, standing in that tradition by sitting down. And so, we understand that the odds may be difficult, but we, as the NAACP, don’t gauge our principled opposition to a nominee based upon odds and probabilities, but rather the rightness of the cause....

Read the whole interview here.

Joshua Pechthalt, Calif. Federation of Teachers President: “The similarities with the rise of fascism in Europe in the 1930s...are chilling”

In the November-December issue of California Teacher, Joshua Pechthalt, the president of the California Federation of Teachers (CFT), which is part of the American Federation of Teachers, has a piece titled “Responding to election of Donald Trump: Reassess, Mobilize, Defend.” Pechthalt writes:

In the last few weeks, I have had many discussions trying to sort out the implications of a Trump presidency. His nomination for Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, who has been a pro-voucher, pro-charter school advocate, demonstrates he wants to privatize and charterize public schools. President-elect Trump is making clear where he wants to take the country.

Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, who has said positive things about the KKK and will likely head the Justice Department, indicates this administration will not be an advocate for criminal justice reform, voting rights, and countless other social justice efforts. More disturbing will be Trump’s appointments to the Supreme Court. A generation of justices will be in the majority and committed to an agenda that is opposed to union rights, women’s rights, voting rights, environmental protection, and other matters that will affect our children and grandchildren.

Trump has also strengthened his relationship with Steve Bannon, the former leader of Breitbart News and one of the leaders of a movement known as the alt-right. The alt-right sees this appointment as an opportunity to fan the flames of white nationalism, racism and anti-Semitism. One needs only to watch the Nazi salute at a recent gathering of alt-right supporters in the nation’s capital to be alarmed. The similarities with the rise of fascism in Europe in the 1930s, and the growing neo-fascist movement now gaining traction in Western European countries, are chilling and require a response...

The issue of California Teacher containing the article by Pechthalt is available online here.

Thousands Sign Petition Against University of Tennessee Marching Band Participation in Trump Inauguration

The University of Tennessee marching band is scheduled to march in Trump’s Inauguration parade, but a lot of alumni of the school and residents of Tennessee are protesting this. More than 3,340 people have already signed an online petition calling on the president and director of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville to stop the university marching band from playing in the inaugural parade. The change.org petition, signed “Concerned Citizens and Alumni,” says in part:

As either proud residents of Tennessee or proud University of Tennessee alumni, we are greatly disturbed by the behavior exhibited by Donald Trump both during and after the recent presidential campaign. He has made racist and sexist remarks that should never come out of the mouth of someone in public office.

As residents of Tennessee, we believe that the attendance at the upcoming inauguration of a band representing the state of Tennessee would condone this behavior. As alumni, we believe that no university should risk its reputation and credibility by welcoming such ignorance and celebrating a man like Trump. It is for this reason that we urge that the band not march at the upcoming inauguration.

San Francisco teacher calling on educators across the country to take up the "NO!"

Rosie O'Donnell on Trump: "Less than 3 weeks to stop him"

On January 1, comedian and TV entertainer Rosie O’Donnell tweeted:

DONALD TRUMP IS MENTALLY UNSTABLE -

LESS THAN 3 WEEKS TO STOP HIM AMERICA

 

The day before, in response to a Donald Trump New Year’s Eve tweet, O’Donnell tweeted:

@realDonaldTrump - we know what to do RESIST YOU - and everything you represent #notANYONESpresident #resist #liar #cheater #fraud #crook

She also tweeted:

Nobody can go back
and start a new beginning,
but anyone can start today
and make a new ending.
~ Maria Robinson

Then on January 3, @ROSIE retweeted:

#NoFascistUSA ‏@RefuseFascism

The amount of flak @Rosie O’Donnell is taking right now for stating fact, as if SHE’s out of line, is criminal. #NoFascistUSA #DontNormalize

Petition at Olivet Nazarene, Christian University, Speaks Out Against Trump's "well-documented sexism, his political alliances with white supremacists, and his hostility toward immigrants and refugees"

Olivet Nazarene is a Christian university located south of Chicago in Illinois. When school officials announced that the Olivet Nazarene band would be taking part in Trump’s inauguration, there was immediate opposition. An online petition, “Withdraw Olivet Nazarene University from Inaugural Parade,” has gathered over 2,000 signers. The petition, addressed to the college president and administrators, says in part:

Sadly, President-elect Trump has consistently articulated and advocated policies that undermine the Christian commitments of communities like Olivet. His well-documented sexism, his political alliances with white supremacists, and his hostility towards immigrants and refugees are just a few positions incompatible with Christian teachings in general and the Nazarene message of holiness in particular.

Any university presence at the inauguration would suggest toleration or, even worse, endorsement of the President-elect’s objectionable attitudes on these and other issues. Such a presence is simply unacceptable.

We call on you to decline this and any other invitations to participate in President-elect Trump’s inaugural festivities. We make this request not out of partisan opposition. Both educational and religious organizations should be capable of holding differing political opinions within the bonds of community. Yet, conservatives and liberals alike acknowledge that President-elect Trump has demeaned and alienated many, with little or no effort made towards reconciliation. For Olivet to embody the faith it proclaims, we have a responsibility to stand with those marginalized by the President-elect’s divisive rhetoric rather than march in celebration of it.

Rebecca Ferguson Says She'll Sing at Trump Inauguration Invite IF She Can Sing "Strange Fruit"

Rebecca Ferguson is a British singer and songwriter. Her 2015 album “Lady Sings the Blues,” covering classic songs by Billie Holiday, made the charts in the UK. Ferguson says she was asked to sing at Trump’s inauguration and says she will do it.... IF she can sing “Strange Fruit”—a song first recorded by Billy Holliday in 1939 that scathingly indicts the lynchings of Black people in the American South. Ferguson wrote on TwitLonger:

I’ve been asked and this is my answer. If you allow me to sing “strange fruit” a song that has huge historical importance, a song that was blacklisted in the United States for being too controversial. A song that speaks to all the disregarded and down trodden black people in the United States. A song that is a reminder of how love is the only thing that will conquer all the hatred in this world, then I will graciously accept your invitation and see you in Washington. Best Rebecca X

Gregg Popovich, Coach of NBA San Antonio Spurs: "[Trump] is in charge of our country. That's disgusting"

Soon after the election, Gregg Popovich, one of the top coaches in the National Basketball Association (NBA), was asked to comment on Trump’s victory. The following are excerpts from his comments:

It’s our country, we don’t want it to go down the drain. Any reasonable person would come to that conclusion. But it does not take away the fact that he is fear-mongering—all the comments, from day one—the race baiting, trying to make Barack Obama, the first Black president, illegitimate. It leaves me wondering where I’ve been living and with whom I’m living.

And the fact that people can just gloss that over and start talking about the transition team, and we’re all gonna be kumbaya now and try to make the country good without talking about any of those things. And now we see that he’s already backing off of immigration and Obamacare and other things, so was it a big fake? Which makes you feel it’s even more disgusting and cynical that somebody would use that to get the base that fired up. To get elected. And what gets lost in the process are African-Americans, and Hispanics, and women, and the gay population, not to mention the eighth-grade developmental stage exhibited by him when he made fun of the handicapped person. I mean, come on. That’s what a seventh-grade, eighth-grade bully does. And he was elected president of the United States. We would have scolded our kids. We would have had discussions and talked until we were blue in the face trying to get them to understand these things. And he is in charge of our country. That’s disgusting.

See a YouTube of Popovich (along with another NBA coach, Stan Van Gundy) commenting on Trump here.

Mormon Tabernacle Singer Quits Over Trump Inauguration: "I could never throw roses to Hitler."

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir is scheduled to sing at Trump’s inauguration and 19,000 members of the Mormon Church have already signed a petition against them performing. Now, a member of the choir, Jan Chamberlin, has resigned over this, saying, “I could never throw roses to Hitler. And I certainly could never sing for him." Her letter, which was posted on Facebook, says:

Since “the announcement” [of the Choir performing at the inauguration], I have spent several sleepless nights and days in turmoil and agony. I have reflected carefully on both sides of the issue, prayed a lot, talked with family and friends, and searched my soul.

I’ve tried to tell myself that by not going to the inauguration, that I would be able to stay in Choir for all the other good reasons.

I have highly valued the mission of the Choir to be good-will ambassadors for Christ, to share beautiful music and to give hope, inspiration, and comfort to others.

I’ve tried to tell myself that it will be alright and that I can continue in good conscience before God and man.

But it’s no use. I simply cannot continue with the recent turn of events. I could never look myself in the mirror again with self respect...

I also know, looking from the outside in, it will appear that Choir is endorsing tyranny and fascism by singing for this man...

Tyranny is now on our doorstep; it has been sneaking its way into our lives through stealth. Now it will burst into our homes through storm. I hope that we and many others will work together with greater diligence and awareness to calmly and bravely work together to defend our freedoms and our rights for our families, our friends, and our fellow citizens. I hope we can throw off the labels and really listen to each other with respect, love, compassion, and a true desire to bring our energies and souls together in solving the difficult problems that lie in our wake...

History is repeating itself; the same tactics are being used by Hitler (identify a problem, finding a scapegoat target to blame, and stirring up people with a combination of fanaticism, false promises, and fear, and gathering the funding). I plead with everyone to go back and read the books we all know on these topics and review the films produced to help us learn from these gargantuan crimes so that we will not allow them to be repeated. Evil people prosper when good people stand by and do nothing.

We must continue our love and support for the refugees and the oppressed by fighting against these great evils.

For me, this is a HUGELY moral issue....

I only know I could never “throw roses to Hitler.” And I certainly could never sing for him.

To read the whole letter go here.

Rockette Speaks Out Against Trump: "A moral issue, a women's issue"

The Radio City Rockettes, whose trademark routine is a line of dancers doing eye-high leg kicks in perfect unison, are scheduled to perform at Trump’s inauguration. Right away there were signs that some of the dancers are very disturbed about this. In a shameful move, the union representing the Rockettes, the American Guild of Variety Artists, sent an email to the dancers saying they were “obliged” to perform at the inauguration. Later the company that owns the Radio City Rockettes, the Madison Square Garden Company, told 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.

1,500 Past and Current Fulbright Scholarship Recipients: "The consequence [of Trump becoming president] could be dire for both international cooperation and peace"

The Fulbright Program, funded by the U.S. government and private sources, gives prestigious scholarships to about 8,000 recipients yearly—for students, academics, artists and others in the U.S. to study and do research abroad and for recipients in other countries to do the same in the U.S. After the presidential election, three past and current Fulbright grant recipients wrote an open letter expressing alarm at Trump’s victory. The letter has gathered signatures from over 1,500 other past and current Fulbright scholarship recipients from 95 countries.

Their letter says in part: “We have, for the last eighteen months, watched the electoral process unfold in the United States as the president-elect openly engaged in demagoguery against a number of vulnerable populations, courted hate groups, threatened the press, and promised vindictive actions against his opponents. This is not populism; it is recklessness. The consequence could be dire for both international cooperation and peace. We are now worried by the prospect of his inauguration into one of the world’s most powerful offices with the power to carry out his stated intentions. While we respect the American electoral system, we write to express our deepest concerns.”

The letter and list of signatories are available online here.

Franz Wasserman, Survivor of Nazi Germany: “We have to counter this trend toward fascism in every way we can.”

Franz Wasserman, 96 years old, was a youth in Germany during the 1930s and saw the rise of the Nazis first-hand. He’s never considered himself an activist. But with the election of Trump, he felt he had to act. He wrote a letter to U.S. senators warning of the parallels between Trump and Hitler—and shared it with others. Jerry Lange, a columnist for the Seattle Times, received a copy, and he wrote a piece on Wasserman that appeared on December 26.

Wasserman begins the letter: “I was born in Munich, Germany, in 1920. I lived there during the rise of the Nazi Party and left for the U.S.A. in 1938. The elements of the Nazi regime were the suppression of dissent, the purging of the dissenters and undesirables, the persecution of communists, Jews and homosexuals and the ideal of the Arians as the master race. These policies started immediately after Hitler came to power, at first out of sight but escalated gradually leading to the Second World War and the holocaust. Meanwhile most Germans were lulled into complacency by all sorts of wonderful projects and benefits.”

Today, Wasserman writes, “The neo-Nazis and the KKK have become more prominent and get recognition in the press. We are all familiar with Trump’s remarks against all Muslims and all Mexicans. But there has not been anything as alarming as the appointment of Steve Bannon as Trump’s Chief Strategist. Bannon has, apparently, made anti-Semitic remarks for years, has recently condemned Muslims and Jews and he and Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the pick as National Security Adviser, advocate the political and cultural superiority of the white race. At the same time Trump is trying to control the press... We can hope that our government of checks and balances will be more resistant than the Weimar Republic was. Don’t count on it.”

The Seattle Times article with quotes from Franz Wasserman and his story is available here.

Feminist Scholars: "We cannot and will not comply. Our number one priority is to resist."

The following “Statement by Feminist Scholars on the Election of Donald Trump as President” is posted at a number of sites on the Internet and so far has more than 900 signatories:

“On Tuesday, November 8, 2016, a sizeable minority of the U.S. electorate chose to send billionaire Donald Trump, an avowed sexist and an unrepentant racist, who has spent nearly forty years antagonizing vulnerable people, to the White House. Spewing hatred at women, people of color, immigrants, Muslims, and those with disabilities is Trump’s most consistent, and well-documented form of public engagement. Trump bragged about sexually assaulting women because, as he quipped, his celebrity made it easy for him to do so. We can only assume that the hostile climate and anxiety about what is to come were contributing factors. The political shift we are witnessing, including the appointment of open bigots to the president-elect’s cabinet, reaffirms the structural disposability and systemic disregard for every person who is not white, male, straight, cisgender, able-bodied, and middle or upper class.

“As a community of feminist scholars, activists and artists, we affirm that the time to act is now.  We cannot endure four years of a Trump presidency without a plan. We must protect reproductive justice, fight for Black lives, defend the rights of LGBTQIA people, disrupt the displacement of indigenous people and the stealing of their resources, advocate and provide safe havens for the undocumented, stridently reject Islamophobia, and oppose the acceleration of neoliberal policies that divert resources to the top 1% and abandon those at the bottom of the economic hierarchy. We must also denounce militarization at home and abroad, and climate change denial that threatens to destroy the entire planet.

“We must also reject calls to compromise, to understand, or to collaborate. We cannot and will not comply. Our number one priority is to resist. We must resist the instantiation of autocracy. We must resist this perversion of democracy. We must refuse spin and challenge any narratives that seek to call this moment “democracy at work.” This is not democracy; this is the rise of a 21st century U.S. version of fascism. We must name it, so we can both confront and defeat it. The most vulnerable, both here and abroad, cannot afford for us to equivocate or remain silent. The threats posed by settler colonialism and empire around the globe have never been more real, nor has our resolve to oppose these injustices ever been stronger. Concretely, within the U.S., we oppose the building of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, and the establishment of a registry for Muslim residents.

“We owe this moment and the communities we fight for our very best thinking, teaching, and organizing. We must find creative solutions to address the immediate needs of those who will be acutely affected within the first 100 days of Trump’s presidency. We must push ourselves into new, and more precise and radical analytical frameworks that can help us to articulate the stakes of this moment.

“The most important thing we can do in this moment is to make an unqualified commitment to those on the margins through our actions, insist that the media be allowed to do its job; and protect the right to protest and dissent. We recognize clearly that our silence will not protect us. Silence, in the aftermath of 11/8 is not merely a lack of words; it is a profound inertia of liberatory thought and praxis. So - what are we waiting for? We are who we are waiting for. We pledge to stand and fight, with fierce resolve, for the values and principles we believe in and the people we love.”

The statement and list of signatories is available here.

 

Center for Constitutional Rights: “We must resist and prevent at all costs a slide into American fascism”

Shortly after Trump’s election, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) in New York City issued this statement:

"We send love and solidarity to all those who are hurting and afraid that Donald Trump’s America excludes them. We share the despair of the millions who are in shock that a candidate supported by the KKK has won the presidency of the United States.

"If there is a silver lining in this election result it is that it is impossible now to deny the racism, sexism, and xenophobia that have been part of America for centuries. Our duty is to stand together with all those who dissent from this bigotry and to defend and protect vulnerable communities. That has been CCR’s mission for 50 years, and we will work harder than ever to defend civil and human rights and the U.S. Constitution.

"The dangers of a Trump presidency go beyond the attacks on people of color, women, Muslims, immigrants, refugees, LGBTQI people, and people with disabilities. His campaign was marked by the strategies and tactics of authoritarian regimes: endorsing and encouraging violence against political protesters, threatening to jail his opponent, refusing to say he would accept the results of the election if he lost, punishing critical press. Together with all those who value freedom, justice, and self-determination, we must resist and prevent at all costs a slide into American fascism.

"Resistance is our civic duty."

Lauren Duca, Teen Vogue Editor: Trump's "Gaslighting" and the Fight for the Truth

Lauren Duca is an editor for 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.

Journalist Summer Brennan: "I promise to be a siren going off..."

On December 19, Summer Brennan, an award-winning investigative journalist, author, and visiting scholar at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University, tweeted:

“Trump is a fascist. I promise to be a siren going off about this national disaster until it is averted or stopped. #resist”

Constitutional Law Scholars to Trump: "We feel a responsibility to challenge you in the court of public opinion"

In an open letter to Trump dated December 13, constitutional legal scholars associated with law schools across the U.S. wrote, “Some of your statements and actions during the campaign and since the election cause us great concern about your commitment to our constitutional system.”

The open letter gets into some of these issues: First Amendment protection of the rights of free speech and free press; “poisonous anti-Muslim rhetoric”; violation of government checks and balances; threats to overturn the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion; appointment of Alabama Senator Sessions, with a “troubling history on voting rights and civil rights,” as Attorney General; “baseless charges concerning voter fraud”; and “inflammatory rhetoric” that has been “taken as invitation to discriminate and to act out in all kinds of hate-filled ways.”

In the point on anti-Muslim attacks, the open letter notes: “To make matters worse, your proposed national security advisor, Michael Flynn, has described what he calls ‘Islamism’ as a ‘vicious cancer inside the body of 1.7 billion people’ that ‘has to be excised.’ Such rhetoric is shocking in its  ignorance and bigotry; it must not become normalized. We continue to hear talk of a ‘Muslim registry’ being created by your administration—or a nationality-based registry that would be a proxy for religious discrimination. To our national shame, the federal government during World War II carried out—and the Supreme Court’s discredited Korematsu decision upheld—the mass internment of Japanese Americans based upon no individualized suspicion of wrongdoing; the federal government under President Ronald Reagan subsequently apologized and paid reparations. We urge you to reconsider your naming of Flynn and to renounce a Muslim registry or anything like it.”

The open letter concludes: “Although we sincerely hope that you will take your constitutional oath seriously, so far you have offered little indication that you will. We feel a responsibility to challenge you in the court of public opinion, and we hope that those directly aggrieved by your administration will challenge you in the courts of law. We call upon legal conservatives who cherish constitutional values to join us in speaking law to power. And we call upon citizens, lawyers, educators, public officials, and religious leaders to use every legal means available to protect the most vulnerable members of our society and our constitutional guarantees. At no point that any of us can remember has this need been more imperative than it is now.”

See a pdf of the open letter and list of signatories here.

America Ferrera: Future under Trump is "terrifying" but "we can't give up the fight"

America Ferrera is an actress who has won many awards, including an Emmy, a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Guild Award. In a December 14 interview, she was asked, “How are you feeling about the future of our environment during the Trump administration?”  She said:

“When you have a president-elect who says he doesn’t even know if climate change is real, for the next four to eight years, the future looks pretty horrible. We know that climate change is real, and yet he’s still questioning it. So, that’s pretty terrifying. We haven’t had any time to waste for a long time now, and it’s a pretty devastating thing to start moving backward. So yes, I think that it’s really daunting. But we have to be committed to staying alert and staying awake and staying educated and using our voices to push back. It doesn’t mean it’s gonna be easy, or there’s ever going to be a defining last fight where we win and we never have to go back and defend the idea that climate change is the real thing we need to pay attention to. But we can’t give up the fight.”

Celebrities Refuse to Perform at Trump Inauguration

During his presidential campaign, many musicians, actors, and other celebrities spoke out against Donald Trump. And now he and his team are having a hard time getting musicians to perform at his inauguration. A number of celebrities have been asked and refused, and some have made it clear that if they are asked, they will refuse.

Read more here

Open Letter Protesting American Library Association Press Release: "I am absolutely not ready to work with President-elect Trump"

On November 20, Sarah Houghton wrote an Open Letter to Julie Todaro, President of the American Library Association, protesting a press release from the ALA in which Todaro stated, “We are ready to work with President-elect Trump, his transition team, incoming administration and members of Congress to bring more economic opportunity to all Americans and advance other goals we have in common.”

Houghton has been an active member of the ALA for 16 years and says, “I have never before this week considered canceling my membership.” Houghton says in her letter: “I am absolutely not ready to work with President-elect Trump. He has stood for racism, prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination for his entire life—including during his campaign. Those are all things ALA stands firmly against. Explain to me why we’re ready to work with a bigot? Because I’m not ready for that at all. The rest of this release went on to detail some of the things libraries do for communities—coming off as a weak and pandering missive begging for scraps and, in truth, coming from a place of fear.”

Houghton points to another ALA press release that highlights “how libraries can advance specific policy priorities of the incoming Trump administration in the areas of entrepreneurship, services to veterans and broadband adoption and use” and says:

“This trajectory away from justice and toward collaboration with a fascist regime disturbs me greatly. These comments are tone deaf and, not only do not represent my values as a librarian, but do not represent the shared values of the American Library Association and its membership. There is a time to walk a middle road, to give voice to a moderate viewpoint of an organization’s membership. This is not that time. This is the time to stand tall and proud, and give voice to the fiery ethics and values that our profession has held dear for so long in the face of fascism and bigotry.

“I have no intention of supporting this incoming administration in any way whatsoever. With the transition team and other appointments being floated in the press, President-elect Trump has made it clear that racism, sexism, bigotry, assault, discrimination of all kinds, and the destruction of basic civil liberties are foundational to his administration’s philosophy. I refuse to be complicit in the work of the Trump administration and cannot in good faith remain part of a professional organization that chooses to be complicit.”

Read the whole letter here.

Celebrity Chefs vs. Trump

Anthony Bourdain, currently host of CNN’s travel and food show Parts Unknown, was asked in a recent interview about sushi chef Alessandro Borgognone’s decision to move his restaurant to Trump’s Washington, DC, hotel. Bourdain said he would “never eat in his restaurant” and felt “utter and complete contempt” for the chef. He explained, “I’m not asking you to start putting up barricades now, but when they come and ask you, ‘Are you with us?’ you do have an option. You can say, ‘No thanks, guys. I don’t look good in a brown shirt. Makes me look a little, I don’t know, not great. It’s not slimming.’” In a tweet on December 22, Bourdain said, “I am not ‘boycotting’ anything. I choose to not patronize chefs who tacitly support deporting half the people they’ve ever worked with”—clear reference to Trump’s threat to deport millions of Mexican immigrants.

José Andrés operates more than a dozen restaurants in cities including Washington, DC; Miami; Las Vegas; and Los Angeles. In 2015, after Trump made disgusting racist comments about Mexican immigrants, Andrés withdrew the commitment he’d made to open a restaurant in Trump’s new DC hotel. Trump sued him for breach of contract, seeking $10 million in damages. Andrés countersued, and said, “More than half of my team is Hispanic, as are many of our guests. And, as a proud Spanish immigrant and recently naturalized American citizen myself, I believe that every human being deserves respect, regardless of immigration status.” Andrés tweeted on December 19: “I am a proud immigrant!! To my fellow immigrants thank you for the amazing work you do every day. #ToImmigrantsWithLove” Trump is required to appear to be deposed in Andrés’s suit, just weeks before his scheduled inauguration.

Fiona Apple's Christmas Song: "Trump's nuts roasting on an open fire..."

At the December 18 “We Rock with Standing Rock” benefit concert in Los Angeles, singer Fiona Apple did a fiery performance of her version of the Christmas standard “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire” that begins: “Trump’s nuts roasting on an open fire...” She ends with “Donald Trump... Fuck You!” to the loud cheers of the audience. Watch it here:

George Polisner, Executive of Tech Company Oracle: "I am here to oppose [Trump] in every possible and legal way"

George Polisner, a top executive at the tech corporation Oracle, publicly resigned from the company on December 19 after Oracle co-CEO Safra Catz announced she was going to join Trump’s presidential transition team. Catz was among the executives from major tech companies, including Amazon, Google, and Apple, who met with Trump last week—a shameful meeting that helped to lend legitimacy to the Trump-Pence fascist cabal. When Polisner learned of this, he sent his letter to Catz and at the same time posted it on the LinkedIn website.

His resignation letter says in part, “Trump stokes fear, hatred and violence toward people of color, Muslims and immigrants. It is well-known that hate crimes are surging as he has provided license for this ignorance-based expression of malice.... He seeks to eviscerate environmental protections, the public education system, LGBTQ rights and women’s rights.”

And Polisner says in the letter: “I am not with President-elect Trump and I am not here to help him in any way. In fact—when his policies border on the unconstitutional, the criminal and the morally unjust—I am here to oppose him in every possible and legal way.” (emphasis in the original)

Polisner told the UK Guardian that he decided to make his resignation letter public because he “decided it was too important to die as a private letter” and that “I thought I could either be a role model in terms of a path forward or a cautionary tale.”

Read George Polisner’s resignation letter here.

Actor Michael Sheen: "In the same way as the Nazis had to be stopped in Germany in the Thirties, this thing that is on the rise has to be stopped"

Michael Sheen is a Welsh stage and screen actor whose work includes starring roles in the 2008 film Frost/Nixon and the current Showtime series Masters of Sex. On December 17, the Sunday Times of London ran a profile on him, titled “Michael Sheen gets political. This time it’s for real.” The writer of the profile had expected Sheen to discuss his role in the upcoming sci-fi film Passengers. “Instead, Sheen, 47, wants to talk about politics. Lately, it’s been bothering him a lot. No, that’s not nearly strong enough. What he calls the ‘demagogic, fascistic’ drift of politics in the western world in the past few years, culminating in Donald Trump’s election victory, has left Sheen horrified, furious and determined to do everything he can to counter it. It’s why, after several years of increasing commitments to a broad spread of causes, including the NHS, Unicef, the Freedom of Information Act, fighting homelessness and campaigning against fracking, the actor is preparing to go all in. He plans to start fighting the rise of the ‘hard populist right’—evident in France, Austria, Poland, Hungary, the Netherlands, Britain and the United States—via grassroots organizing in his beloved Port Talbot (he pronounces it “P’Talbot”) and see where it takes him.” (Port Talbot is Sheen’s hometown in Wales.)

Later, the profile quotes Sheen saying, “In the same way as the Nazis had to be stopped in Germany in the Thirties, this thing that is on the rise has to be stopped. But it has to be understood before it can be stopped.”

The whole profile is available at the Times website here (the site requires registration for free access).

100+ Professors at Notre Dame Say: We are coming forward to stand with the professors you have called "dangerous"

A website called “Professor Watchlist,” run by a group called Turning Point USA, has posted the names of more than 200 professors they accuse of putting forward “leftist propaganda” and “discriminating” against right-wing students. This campus witch-hunt is a sign of the time of Trump.

Among the names appearing on the Watchlist are two Notre Dame academics: philosophy professor Gary Gutting and Iris Outlaw, director of Multicultural Student Programs and Services. The Watchlist said Gutting was added because he wrote that the country’s “permissive gun laws are a manifestation of racism,” and Outlaw because she “taught a ‘white privilege’ seminar that pledged to help students acknowledge and understand their white privilege.”

In response, more than 100 Notre Dame faculty members published an open letter in the Observer, the student newspaper at Notre Dame, defying the Professor Watchlist. Their statement said in part: “We surmise that the purpose of your list is to shame and silence faculty who espouse ideas you reject. But your list has had a different effect upon us. We are coming forward to stand with the professors you have called ‘dangerous,’ reaffirming our values and recommitting ourselves to the work of teaching students to think clearly, independently, and fearlessly.

“So please add our names, the undersigned faculty at the University of Notre Dame, to the Professor Watchlist. We wish to be counted among those you are watching.”

The full letter and list of the names are available at the Observer site.

Return to top

In his December 5 piece titled "Trump's Agents of Idiocracy," in the New York Times, columnist Charles Blow wrote:

"What if Trump has shown himself beyond doubt and with absolute certainty to be a demagogue and bigot and xenophobe and has given space and voice to concordant voices in the country and in his emerging Legion of Doom cabinet? In that reality, resistance isn't about mindless obstruction by people blinded by the pain of ideological defeat or people gorging on sour grapes. To the contrary, resistance then is an act of radical, even revolutionary, patriotism. Resistance isn't about damaging the country, but protecting it..."

Read the whole column here

Return to top

MIT Faculty: "The President-elect has appointed individuals to positions of power who have endorsed racism, misogyny and religious bigotry, and denied the widespread scientific consensus on climate change."

More than 500 members of the faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have issued a statement opposing Trump’s official appointments and “upholding the value of science and diversity.” The signers include people from every academic department at MIT, nine department and program heads, and four Nobel Prize recipients. Notable signatories to date include Susan Solomon, Co-Chair of the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; Tim Berners-Lee, World Wide Web inventor; Noam Chomsky, Institute Professor Emeritus; Joichi Ito, Director of the MIT Media Lab; and Junot Díaz, Pulitzer Prize winning author.

This is an important development, and this kind of stand needs to spread to other campuses and through the academic community, even as people get more clarity on the actual fascist nature of Trump and the incoming regime. Read the MIT faculty statement here.

Return to top

Shaun King: "No, we should not wait and see what a Trump administration does. We should organize our resistance right now."

New York Daily News columnist Shaun King's writes: "Now, in the name of a peaceful transition, both President Obama and Hillary Clinton are striking a conciliatory tone. I understand that such a tone is a tradition in American politics, but everything about Donald Trump and this election breaks with tradition. President Obama may feel obligated to strike such a tone, but I don't have such an obligation. Perhaps President Obama feels that by striking such a tone, it makes it more likely that Donald Trump will be moderate after his inauguration. I don't believe that for one second."

His column concludes: "We can't wait until he does those things before we act against him. We must outsmart and out-organize his team. I implore you to ignore anybody saying anything other than that. They've been wrong all year. We must act and we must act now."

Read Shaun King's piece here.

Return to top

Singer John Legend

"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.

Return to top

Green Day at American Music Awards, November 20: NO TRUMP! NO KKK! NO FASCIST USA!

During the live TV broadcast of the American Music Awards on Sunday night, November 20, the punk rock band Green Day let loose with a defiant condemnation of Donald Trump. In the middle of performing “Bang Bang,” from their latest album 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.

Return to top

“Farewell, America” by author Neal Gabler, November 10

Whatever place we now live in is not the same place it was on Nov. 7. No matter how the rest of the world looked at us on Nov. 7, they will now look at us differently ...

With Trump's election, I think that the ideal of an objective, truthful journalism is dead, never to be revived. Like Nixon and Sarah Palin before him, Trump ran against the media, boomeranging off the public's contempt for the press. He ran against what he regarded as media elitism and bias, and he ran on the idea that the press disdained working-class white America. Among the many now-widening divides in the country, this is a big one, the divide between the media and working-class whites, because it creates a Wild West of information – a media ecology in which nothing can be believed except what you already believe.

With the mainstream media so delegitimized — a delegitimization for which they bear a good deal of blame, not having had the courage to take on lies and expose false equivalencies — they have very little role to play going forward in our politics. I suspect most of them will surrender to Trumpism — if they were able to normalize Trump as a candidate, they will no doubt normalize him as president. Cable news may even welcome him as a continuous entertainment and ratings booster. And in any case, like Reagan, he is bulletproof. The media cannot touch him, even if they wanted to. Presumably, there will be some courageous guerillas in the mainstream press, a kind of Resistance, who will try to fact-check him. But there will be few of them, and they will be whistling in the wind. Trump, like all dictators, is his own truth.

Read more here.

Return to top

Architect Resigns from Association for Pledging to “Play Nice” with Trump

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

Return to top

Center for Biological Diversity: “Lash Out at the Darkness and Fight Like Hell”

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.

Return to top

Jewish historians speak out on the election of Donald Trump

Hostility to immigrants and refugees strikes particularly close to home for us as historians of the Jews. As an immigrant people, Jews have experienced the pain of discrimination and exclusion, including by this country in the dire years of the 1930s. Our reading of the past impels us to resist any attempts to place a vulnerable group in the crosshairs of nativist racism. It is our duty to come to their aid and to resist the degradation of rights that Mr. Trump's rhetoric has provoked.

However, it is not only in defense of others that we feel called to speak out. We witnessed repeated anti-Semitic expressions and insinuations during the Trump campaign. Much of this anti-Semitism was directed against journalists, either Jewish or with Jewish-sounding names. The candidate himself refused to denounce—and even retweeted--language and images that struck us as manifestly anti-Semitic. By not doing so, his campaign gave license to haters of Jews, who truck in conspiracy theories about world Jewish domination.

Read entire statement here

Return to top

Issa Rae, Actor: "The scariest part is how normal it's becoming to some people"

Issa Rae is star of the HBO series Insecure. Sunday night, January 9, on the red carpet at the Golden Globes awards in Los Angeles., she was asked what she thought of Trump. Rae said:

Every single time I see a tweet from that man, every single time I see the administration that he’s bringing in, it just gets worse and worse. And the scariest part to me is how normal it’s becoming to some people. And I think we just have to keep calling things out, it’s like nope, you’re lying, nope, that’s not true, nope, that doesn’t work that way. As long as we don’t continue to let him slide, then there might be some hope, but it’s scary.

Actor Debra Messing: "This is a regime that will strip away the rights of millions..."

Debra Messing, best known for her starring role in the TV comedy series Will & Grace, tweeted on December 18:

This is a regime that will strip away the rights of millions. Threaten the lives of millions. And threatens the planet. #NOFASCISTUSA

Messing is one of the signatories of the Call to Action of RefuseFascism.org. On Wednesday, January 4, when the Call appeared as a full page in the New York Times, she tweeted a photo of that Times page with the #NoFascistUSA hashtag and link to refusefascism.org.

Literary Magazine Editor Philip Elliot: "Fascism is rising. Not just in the U.S. but across Europe too"

Philip Elliot is the editor-in-chief of Into The Void, a print and digital literary magazine based in Dublin, Ireland, “dedicated to providing fantastic fiction, nonfiction, poetry and visual art from all over the world.” In a recent roundtable with several editors, the online journal The Review Review asked the question “How Will a Trump Presidency Impact Literary Magazines?” Elliot answered:

Fascism is rising. Not just in the U.S. but across Europe too. In the West we’re experiencing similar circumstances that led to its rise a century ago and now the wheel has turned again. People say to me, especially because I live in Ireland, that I’m overreacting to this; that’s it’s just more politics, everything will blow over, etc. They fail to see the bigger picture. What’s been put into motion here, catalyzed by the election but arisen from a far more complex sense of discontent and fear, is the greatest threat to our newly-progressive societies that we’ve ever seen. More than anything else, my fear is that we as artists and curators of art will allow our way of thinking to become the “It’s just politics, it will all blow over soon” attitude. I fear that because nothing terrible is going to happen right away, we will normalize this whole affair and accept it. What people forget is that Hitler began his slow climb to absolute power in 1918. Bad things are coming, that’s for certain, but they will come slowly, and they will come under the guise of good. As writers, we peer under the masks of things for a living and that skill is more important now than ever. Art’s duty to criticize the bad and protect the good is infinitely more important in times of darkness. It reminds us what we can be. And it must also remind us of the terrible evil we once did. Because if we truly remembered, how could we have let this happen again? At Into the Void, we’ll be paying close attention to work that criticizes the actions of our supposed leaders in the months and years to come.

Elliot’s comments and others can be found here.

Petition Against Museum Loan of Art for Inauguration: "We object...to an implicit endorsement of the Trump presidency"

When the St. Louis Art Museum announced that they were making an artwork from their collection available on loan to serve as a centerpiece of the Trump inauguration luncheon, art historian Ivy Cooper and artist Ilene Berman began an online petition calling for the cancellation of the loan. According to the petition, the 1855 painting, “Verdict of the People” by George Caleb Bingham, “depicts a small-town Missouri election, and symbolizes the democratic process in mid-19th century America.” The petition goes on to say:

We object to the painting’s use as an inaugural backdrop and an implicit endorsement of the Trump presidency and his expressed values of hatred, misogyny, racism and xenophobia. We reject the use of the painting to suggest that Trump’s election was truly the “verdict of the people,” when in fact the majority of votes—by a margin of over three million—were cast for Trump’s opponent. Finally, we consider the painting a representation of our community, and oppose its use as such at the inauguration.

Art can be used to make powerful statements. Its withdrawal can do the same. Join us in our campaign.

As of January 6, close to 2,700 people have signed the petition, which is available here.

Gothamist.com on Refuse Fascism NY Times Ad: "It's a Noble Cause..."

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 Literature Professor: “Full-fledged U.S. fascism has come”

Rafael Jesús González, poet and Professor Emeritus of Creative Writing & Literature, has taught at the University of Oregon, Western State College of Colorado, Central Washington State University, the University of Texas El Paso, and Laney College, Oakland where he founded the Mexican and Latin American Studies Dept. In a New Year’s Eve blog post, González wrote of Donald Trump:

Shall I repeat the litany of his faults—his misogyny, his racism, his homophobia, his bigotry, his profound ignorance? His analysis, his description, his judgment of anything does not go beyond stock superlatives; he knows nothing of ideas, much less policy, not an iota of science. “I am a business man,” he says proudly as if that justified all his conniving, his dishonesty, his thievery. Should we doubt it, he has his billions to prove it. So the empire now gets its own, homegrown Caligula. Sociopathic megalomaniac, he too may come to declare himself divine. True, we have been governed by criminals before (can one govern an empire and not be criminal?), but this is a case apart.

It is the cruelty I fear, the utter heartlessness in the face of suffering, the willingness, nay, the intent to cause suffering and pain. Nor compassion nor justice is a hallmark of the 1%, the Republican Party he represents and that brought him to power. (Being a Democrat is no guarantee of decency, but it seems that a decent Republican is an oxymoron.) With Republican control of Congress, the Supreme Court, and the Executive (the proposed Cabinet reads like a Hitlerian wish-list), full-fledged U. S. fascism has come, a fascism prepared to destroy the Earth itself for the sake of wealth and power. Can it be called anything but madness?

He went on to write:

Democracy once lost is very hard to restore. Our resistance must be immediate and overwhelming, our love fierce, our joy protected. Our homes, our neighborhoods, our cities must be made bulwarks of justice, of refuge. Our schools sanctuary of freedom of thought and inquiry, our churches voices for justice rooted in compassion. Much is demanded of us and great may be the sacrifice, but if we all share it, it will be much, much less. Let us then take to the streets and public places dressed in our most joyful colors, making music with our drums and flutes, dragging our pianos out our doors if we must, dancing, singing, chanting, turning all our art into protest and celebration—and make our spaces truly our own.

Read the whole piece by Rafael Jesús González, titled “Thoughts for the Last Day of the Year 2016,” available in English and Spanish here.

More Than 1,100 Law Professors Tell Senate to Reject Sessions Nomination

More than 1,100 law school professors from across the country are behind a letter sent to the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, January 2, calling for the rejection of Trump’s nomination of Jeff Sessions for attorney general. The letter says (in full):

We are 1140 faculty members from 170 different law schools in 48 states across the country. We urge you to reject the nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions for the position of Attorney General of the United States.

In 1986, the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee, in a bipartisan vote, rejected President Ronald Reagan’s nomination of then-U.S. Attorney Sessions for a federal judgeship, due to statements Sessions had made that reflected prejudice against African Americans. Nothing in Senator Sessions’ public life since 1986 has convinced us that he is a different man than the 39-year-old attorney who was deemed too racially insensitive to be a federal district court judge.

Some of us have concerns about his misguided prosecution of three civil rights activists for voter fraud in Alabama in 1985, and his consistent promotion of the myth of voter-impersonation fraud. Some of us have concerns about his support for building a wall along our country’s southern border. Some of us have concerns about his robust support for regressive drug policies that have fueled mass incarceration. Some of us have concerns about his questioning of the relationship between fossil fuels and climate change. Some of us have concerns about his repeated opposition to legislative efforts to promote the rights of women and members of the LGBTQ community. Some of us share all of these concerns.

All of us believe it is unacceptable for someone with Senator Sessions’ record to lead the Department of Justice.

The Attorney General is the top law enforcement officer in the United States, with broad jurisdiction and prosecutorial discretion, which means that, if confirmed, Jeff Sessions would be responsible for the enforcement of the nation’s civil rights, voting, immigration, environmental, employment, national security, surveillance, antitrust, and housing laws.
As law faculty who work every day to better understand the law and teach it to our students, we are convinced that Jeff Sessions will not fairly enforce our nation’s laws and promote justice and equality in the United States. We urge you to reject his nomination.

To read the statement with list of signatories go here.

 

Outrage at Simon & Schuster's Book Deal for Pro-Trump Racist

When the book publisher Simon & Schuster recently signed Milo Yiannopoulos, writer for Breitbart News Network, to a $250,000 book deal for the Threshold imprint, there was immediate outrage. Breitbart is a neo-Nazi, misogynistic, white-supremacist website whose former owner, Steve Bannon, is now Trump’s chief strategist and senior counselor. As technology editor at Breitbart, Yiannopoulos promoted the vicious campaign known as “GamerGate,” a flood of viciously degrading attacks and terroristic threats against the very small number of prominent women in the video-game development community. Among the despicable things he’s written is: “...Donald Trump and the rest of the alpha males will continue to dominate the internet without feminist whining. It will be fun! Like a big fraternity...” And Yiannopoulos was banned from Twitter this summer after his followers mounted a racist harassment campaign against Black comedian/actor Leslie Jones.

After the Simon & Schuster signing of Yiannopoulos, the Chicago Review of Books tweeted:

In response to this disgusting validation of hate, we will not cover a single @simonschuster book in 2017.

A bookstore in Dublin, Ireland, tweeted that it would not be carrying any Simon & Schuster titles:

Sometimes it’s a tough call for bookshops between respecting free speech and not promoting hate speech. Sometimes not. Byebye

Writer Danielle Henderson’s memoir is scheduled for publication by Simon & Schuster next year. Henderson wrote in a series of tweets:

I’m looking at my @simonschuster contract, and unfortunately there’s no clause for “what if we decide to publish a white nationalist”

But know this: i’m well aware of what hill I am willing to die on, and my morals and values are at the top of that list.

I will happily go back to slinging coffee—I’m not afraid to stand for what I believe in, and I make a MEAN cappuccino foam

Comedian Sara Silverman tweeted:

The guy has freedom of speech but to fund him & give him a platform tells me a LOT about @simonschuster YUCK AND BOO AND GROSS

Shannon Coulter, a marketing specialist who started a campaign to boycott Ivanka Trump products, tweeted (“@Lesdoggg” is Leslie Jones’ Twitter handle):

@simonschuster are you concerned $250k book deal you gave Milo Yiannopoulos will read as condoning the racist harassment @Lesdoggg endured?

 

 

Poet Nikky Finney: Talladega College should stand with others "protesting the inauguration of one of the most antagonistic, hatred spewing, unrepentant racists"

The January 2 announcement that Talladega College, a historically Black college in Alabama, would send its marching band to be part of Trump’s inauguration march was met with immediate outrage from many students and alumni. Nikky Finney, a poet whose 2011 work Head Off & Split won the National Book Award, is an alumna of Talladega and currently a chair in creative writing and Southern Studies at the University of South Carolina. Finney said of Talladega’s decision:

The news that Talladega College has forgotten its steady and proud 150 years of history, by making the decision to not stand in solidarity with other clear-eyed and courageous people, academic institutions, and organizations, protesting the inauguration of one of the most antagonistic, hatred-spewing, unrepentant racists, has simply and unequivocally broken my heart today. Historical Black colleges are duty bound to have and keep a moral center and be of great moral consciousness while also teaching its students lessons about life that they will need going forward, mainly, that just because a billionaire—who cares nothing about their 150 years of American existence—invites them to a fancy, gold-plated, dress-up party, they have the moral right and responsibility to say “no thank you,” especially when the blood, sweat, and tears and bodies, of black, brown, and native people are stuffed in the envelope alongside the RSVP.

This should have been a teachable moment for the President of Talladega College instead it has become a moment of divisiveness and shame. Bags of money and the promise of opportunity have always been waved in front of the faces and lives of struggling human beings, who have historically been relegated to the first-fired and the last-hired slots of life. It has been used to separate us before. It has now been used to separate us again.

Stan Van Gundy, Detroit Pistons Coach: "We have just thrown a good part of our population under the bus"

Speaking about Trump after his election victory, Stan Van Gundy, coach of the National Basketball Association (NBA) Detroit Pistons, said in part:

We have just thrown a good part of our population under the bus, and I have problems with thinking that this is where we are as a country. It’s tough on [the team], we noticed it coming in. Everybody was a little quiet, and I thought, “Well, maybe the game the other night.” [The Pistons were badly beaten in the game that night.] And so we talked about that, but then Aron Baynes said, “I don’t think that’s why everybody’s quiet. It’s last night.”

It’s just, we have said—and my daughters, the three of them—our society has said, “No, we think you should be second-class citizens. We want you to be second-class citizens. And we embrace a guy who is openly misogynistic as our leader.” I don’t know how we get past that.

Martin Luther King said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but bends toward justice.” I would have believed in that for a long time, but not today.... What we have done to minorities... in this election is despicable. I’m having a hard time dealing with it. This isn’t your normal candidate. I don’t know even know if I have political differences with him. I don’t even know what are his politics. I don’t know, other than to build a wall and “I hate people of color, and women are to be treated as sex objects and as servants to men.” I don’t know how you get past that. I don’t know how you walk into the booth and vote for that. I understand problems with the economy. I understand all the problems with Hillary Clinton, I do. But certain things in our country should disqualify you. And the fact that millions and millions of Americans don’t think that racism and sexism disqualifies you to be our leader, in our country....

We presume to tell other countries about human-rights abuses and everything else. We better never do that again, when our leaders talk to China or anybody else about human-rights abuses. We just elected an openly, brazen misogynist leader and we should keep our mouths shut and realize that we need to be learning maybe from the rest of the world, because we don’t got anything to teach anybody...

To see a YouTube of Van Gundy’s remarks (along with another NBA coach, Gregg Popovich) go here.

Scientist Lawrence M. Krauss on "Donald Trump's War on Science"

Lawrence M. Krauss is a theoretical physicist and cosmologist who is Foundation Professor of the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University, and director of its Origins Project. He was one of the producers of the documentary film The Unbelievers, which promotes a scientific view of the world. An article by Krauss appeared in the December 13 issue of The New Yorker titled, “Donald Trump’s War on Science.” In this article Krauss says:

The first sign of Trump’s intention to spread lies about empirical reality, “1984”-style, was, of course, the appointment of Steve Bannon, the former executive chairman of the Breitbart News Network, as Trump’s “senior counselor and strategist.” This year, Breitbart hosted stories with titles such as “1001 Reasons Why Global Warming Is So Totally Over in 2016,” despite the fact that 2016 is now overwhelmingly on track to be the hottest year on record, beating 2015, which beat 2014, which beat 2013. Such stories do more than spread disinformation. Their purpose is the creation of an alternative reality—one in which scientific evidence is a sham—so that hyperbole and fearmongering can divide and conquer the public.

Bannon isn’t the only propagandist in the new Administration: Myron Ebell, who heads the transition team at the Environmental Protection Agency, is another. In the aughts, as a director at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, he worked to kill a cap-and-trade bill proposed by Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman; in 2012, when the conservative American Enterprise Institute held a meeting about the economics of a possible carbon tax, he asked donors to defund it. It’s possible, of course, to oppose cap-and-trade or carbon taxes in good faith—and yet, in recent years, Ebell’s work has come to center on lies about science and scientists. Today, as the leader of the Cooler Heads Coalition, an anti-climate-science group, Ebell denies the veracity and methodology of science itself. He dismisses complex computer models that have been developed by hundreds of researchers by saying that they “don’t even pass the laugh test.” If Ebell’s methods seem similar to those used by the tobacco industry to deny the adverse health effects of smoking in the nineteen-nineties, that’s because he worked as a lobbyist for the tobacco industry.

When Ebell’s appointment was announced, Jeremy Symons, of the Environmental Defense Fund, said, “I got a sick feeling in my gut.... I can’t believe we got to the point when someone who is as unqualified and intellectually dishonest as Myron Ebell has been put in a position of trust for the future of the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the climate we are going to leave our kids.” Symons was right to be apprehensive: on Wednesday, word came that Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma’s attorney general, will be named the head of the E.P.A. As Jane Mayer has written, it would be hard to find a public official in the United States who is more closely tied to the oil-and-gas industry and who has been more actively opposed to the efforts of the E.P.A. to regulate the environment. In a recent piece for National Review, Pruitt denied the veracity of climate science; he has led the effort among Republican attorneys general to work directly with the fossil-fuel industry in resisting the Clean Air Act. In 2014, a Times investigation found that letters from Pruitt’s office to the E.P.A. and other government agencies had been drafted by energy lobbyists; right now, he is involved in a twenty-eight-state lawsuit against the very agency that he has been chosen to head...

And the Trump Administration is on course to undermine science in another way: through education. Educators have various concerns about Betsy DeVos, Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education—they object to her efforts to shield charter schools from government regulation, for example—but one issue stands above the rest: DeVos is a fundamentalist Christian with a long history of opposition to science. If her faith shapes her policies—and there is evidence that it will—she could shape science education decisively for the worse, by systematically depriving young people, in an era where biotechnology will play a key economic and health role worldwide, of a proper understanding of the very basis of modern biology: evolution....

Taken singly, Trump’s appointments are alarming. But taken as a whole they can be seen as part of a larger effort to undermine the institution of science, and to deprive it of its role in the public-policy debate. Just as Steve Bannon undermines the institution of a fact-based news media, so appointments like Ebell, Pruitt, McMorris Rodgers, Walker, and DeVos advance the false perception that science is just a politicized tool of “the élites.”

...It is not only scientists who should actively fight against this dangerous trend. It is everyone who is concerned about our freedom, health, welfare, and security as a nation—and everyone who is concerned about the planetary legacy we leave for our children.

To read the whole article go here.

Mormon Church Members Protest Mormon Tabernacle Choir Singing at Trump's Inauguration

Some members of the Mormon church are protesting the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing at Trump’s inauguration. A petition saying “Mormon Tabernacle Choir Should NOT Perform at Trump Inauguration” has now been signed by close to 19,000 people. It says in part: “As members and friends of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we strongly urge the Church to stop this practice and especially for an incoming president who has demonstrated sexist, racist, misogynistic, and xenophobic behavior that does not align with the principles and teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” The online petition can be found here.

Law Students Speak Out Against Trump's Attorney General Nominee: "Sessions stated that he believed the Ku Klux Klan was okay"

After Trump nominated Alabama white supremacist and Senator Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, the American Constitution Society (ACS) at Harvard Law School—one of the most prestigious law schools in the world—wrote a letter to Trump opposing the nomination and began distributing it for signatures through ACS chapters across the country. As of December 22, it was signed by 1,060 law students from many different schools.

The letter points at some of Sessions’s outrageous record:

*“As a four-term member of the U.S. Senate, former Alabama Attorney General and U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama, Senator Sessions consistently opposed laws advancing civil rights, environmental protections, reproductive rights, criminal justice, voting rights, immigration and marriage equality.”

*“During the unsuccessful confirmation hearing [for federal judgeship in 1986], witnesses testified under oath that Sessions described a white civil rights attorney as a ‘race traitor’; referred to a black attorney as ‘boy’; and called the ACLU, NAACP, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, National Council of Churches and other groups ‘un-American organizations.’”

*“During the 1986 hearing, a former colleague also testified that Sessions stated that he believed the Ku Klux Klan was okay, until he learned its members smoked marijuana.”

The letter and signatories are online here.

National Nurses United: Trump pick for Health and Human Services would throw "our most sick and vulnerable fellow Americans at the mercy of the healthcare industry"

National Nurses United (NNU) is the largest union of registered nurses in the United States. It recently organized a national network of volunteer RNs to go to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation to meet the first aid needs of thousands who were there to stop the Dakota Access oil pipeline. On December 22, the NNU sent a letter calling on the Senate to reject Trump’s nominee for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Tom Price.

According to a NNU press release, the letter says in part: “If confirmed, it is clear that Rep. Price will pursue policies that substantially erode our nation’s health and security—eliminating health coverage, reducing access, shifting more costs to working people and their families, and throwing our most sick and vulnerable fellow Americans at the mercy of the healthcare industry.”

Price has played a major role in attempts by Republicans to undercut or repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Obama’s healthcare law (see “Tom Price, Trump’s Pick for Health and Human Services: A Slasher of Healthcare for the Poor and Women“). The NNU letter says: “Even today, four years after enactment of the Affordable Care Act, we have seen a drop in U.S. life expectancy rates for the first time in decades, millions of people who self-ration prescription medications or other critical medical treatment due to the high out-of-pocket costs, and continuing disparities in our health care system based on race, gender, age, socio-economic status, or where you live.

“While our organization repeatedly voiced concerns that the ACA did not go far enough, repealing the law, especially the expansion of Medicaid which extended health care coverage to millions of low and moderate income adults, and limits on some of the most chronicled abuses in our present insurance based system, would only exacerbate a healthcare crisis many Americans continue to experience...”

Read the NNU press release here.

Thousands of Doctors Speak Out Against Trump's Pick to Head Health and Human Services

On November 29, the American Medical Association (AMA), which represents about a quarter of doctors in the U.S., issued a statement saying that it “strongly supports” Trump’s nomination to head the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Tom Price, and calling on the Senate to “promptly consider and confirm” him for the position.

In response, three physicians from the University of Pennsylvania—Drs. Manik Chhabra, Navin Vij and Jane Zhu—posted a statement online opposing the Trump nominee.  The statement has been signed by over 5,500 doctors as of December 16.

Their statement, “The AMA Does Not Speak for Us,” says in part:

We are practicing physicians who deliver healthcare in hospitals and clinics, in cities and rural towns; we are specialists and generalists, and we care for the poor and the rich, the young and the elderly. We see firsthand the difficulties that Americans face daily in accessing affordable, quality healthcare. We believe that in issuing this statement of support for Dr. Price, the AMA has reneged on a fundamental pledge that we as physicians have taken — to protect and advance care for our patients.

We support patient choice. But Dr. Price’s proposed policies threaten to harm our most vulnerable patients and limit their access to healthcare. We cannot support the dismantling of Medicaid, which has helped 15 million Americans gain health coverage since 2014. We oppose Dr. Price’s proposals to reduce funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, a critical mechanism by which poor children access preventative care. We wish to protect essential health benefits like treatment for opioid use disorder, prenatal care, and access to contraception.

We see benefits in market-based solutions to some of our healthcare system’s challenges. Like many others, we advocate for improvements in the way healthcare is delivered. But Dr. Price purports to care about efficiency, while opposing innovations by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid to improve value and eliminate waste in healthcare. He supports plans to privatize Medicare, a critical program which covers 44 million of our elderly patients.

The AMA’s vision statement includes “improving health outcomes” and “better health for all,” and yet by supporting Dr. Price’s candidacy — and therefore, his views — the AMA has not aligned itself with the well-being of patients.

For the complete statement and list of signatories, go here.

Return to top

Merrill Miller, Associate Editor of TheHumanist.com: "Now is the time for us to stand in solidarity with those who face oppression"

Merrill Miller is associate editor of TheHumanist.com and Communications Associate at the American Humanist Association. The January/February 2017 issue of the Humanist includes an article by Miller titled, “Who Will We Speak For? Humanism’s Role in Defending Human Rights and Civil Liberties.” The piece starts with the famous quote from Protestant pastor Martin Niemöller, who spent seven years in one of Hitler’s concentration camps, about how he had not spoken out when the Nazis attacked different sections of the people until there was no one left to speak for him.

Miller writes: “For many humanists and those in the progressive community at large, these past weeks have, in some ways, felt like decades. We’ve seen Hillary Clinton win the popular vote for president by an enormous margin and still lose the Electoral College to Donald Trump, who is now president-elect. We’ve seen Stephen Bannon, who fueled the fires of racism, sexism, and bigotry in his time at Breitbart News, named as a chief strategist for the Trump administration, as climate change deniers and individuals with no respect for church-state separation (Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, for one) are being nominated or considered for other top positions. We’ve heard talk of legislation that would chip away at our constitutional right to free, peaceable assembly, such as Washington State Senator Doug Ericksen’s bill to classify street protests as a form of ‘economic terrorism’...

“Humanists are in a unique position to demonstrate outrage...We must harness that capacity for outrage now—not just to defend church-state separation but to protect all of our basic human rights and civil liberties.

“We can start by directing that outrage at the notion that the government would profile and register people based on their race and religion, as the Muslim registry would do. While current discussions of this registry would focus on immigrants, Trump said during his campaign that he would require all Muslims to register, presumably including US citizens. Humanist groups should reach out to their local mosques and Islamic community centers and ask them what their community needs are and how to help...

“Now is the time for us to stand in solidarity with those who face oppression, whether they are undocumented immigrants in danger of losing their basic human dignity or women in danger of losing their hard-won reproductive rights. We must stand up for all people of color and LGBTQ individuals, who are terrified by the bigotry unleashed by Trump’s campaign and his coming presidency. We must stand up for healthcare for the elderly and for everyone in our nation or else more than 22 million people (as estimated by Vox) will be without it, even though a national, single-payer healthcare system should be considered a human right. We must stand with the labor movement to fight for economic justice for all low-wage workers, whose rights will be threatened by Republican-controlled executive, legislative, and judiciary branches of government. We must do all that we can to protect these and other vulnerable communities and individuals, because the very foundations of our democracy, our civil liberties, and our human rights are at stake. If humanists and nontheists don’t speak up for these marginalized groups while we can, there is a distinct possibility that when we’re specifically threatened, there will be no one left to speak for us.”

To read the full article go here.

Andrea Bocelli Fans Raise Uproar to Stop Him from Singing at Trump Inauguration

Apparently Donald Trump is a fan of the famous Italian opera tenor Andrea Bocelli. When word went out that Trump had approached Bocelli to perform at his inauguration, and there were reports that Bocelli had tentatively agreed (which, if true, is utterly shameful), there was a huge uproar of protest from Bocelli’s fans. Some threatened to #BoycottBocelli if he decided to sing on January 20. Here are a few tweets, among many: “Dumped @AndreaBocelli CD’s in trash, won’t be buying tickets to Feb. Orlando concert after all. DONE with him. Will #boycottBocelli forever.” “Please accept the inauguration offer because the Klu Klux Klan makes great fans!” “Contact @AndreaBocelli's booking agent & manager to warn of #BoycottBocelli if he sings for fascist Trump.” One fan wrote on Facebook: “Mr Bocelli, please do not sing for Donald Trump. He stands for racism, misogyny, and hatred of others. Music is beautiful, sacred. Don’t let this man buy you and desecrate art, hope, and beauty.”

In the face of the outrage from so many of his fans, Bocelli announced he would not be performing at the inauguration. Trump’s people claimed that they had rescinded the invitation.

Earlier, in the summer, the widow and daughters of another famous Italian tenor, Luciano Pavarotti, asked Trump to stop using his recording of Puccini’s aria “Nessun Dorma” at his campaign events. They said that “the values of brotherhood and solidarity which Luciano Pavarotti expressed throughout the course of his artistic career are entirely incompatible with the worldview offered by the candidate Donald Trump.”

Hollywood PR Agency Cancels Parties to "defend the values we hold dear"

Sunshine Sachs is a PR agency that represents stars like Leonardo DiCaprio, Ben Affleck and Natalie Portman. Every year they usually hold a big holiday party, on both the East and West coasts. But this year they didn’t feel the usual “holiday cheer.” CEO Shawn Sachs said, “However I felt the morning after [Trump was elected] was nothing compared to how I felt talking to people in this office, those who felt their citizenship—in a matter of moments—was gone or had been lessened... Being the diverse workplace we are, many of us felt under assault.” So Sunshine Sachs cancelled its annual bicoastal holiday celebrations, and will donate the money that would have been spent for the lavish galas to 16 different organizations, including the ACLU, the Human Rights Campaign, the Environmental Defense Fund and Planned Parenthood. The agency sent out an email saying their decision was a gesture to “defend the values we hold dear.”

George Takei Speaks Out Against Trump on Nuclear Weapons and Registry for Muslims

Responding to Trump saying he wants to “strengthen and expand” the nuclear capabilities of the U.S., actor George Takei tweeted on Thursday, December 22: “Trump wants to expand our nuclear arsenal. I think of my aunt and baby cousin, found burnt in a ditch in Hiroshima. These weapons must go.”

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.”

Patti Smith's rendition of Bob Dylan's "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" at Nobel Prize ceremony resonates powerfully today

At the Nobel Prize ceremony in Stockholm, Sweden, singer Patti Smith performed a moving tribute to Bob Dylan, the winner of this year’s laureate for literature. She chose to sing one of Dylan’s songs—“A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall,” released in 1963, a time when the civil rights movement and anti-Vietnam War protests were a sign of the times.

Check out the performance here:

The final stanza, especially, resonates very powerfully today:

“And what’ll you do now, my blue-eyed son?
And what’ll you do now, my darling young one?
I’m a-goin’ back out ’fore the rain starts a-fallin’
I’ll walk to the depths of the deepest black forest
Where the people are many and their hands are all empty
Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters
Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison
And the executioner’s face is always well hidden
Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten
Where black is the color, where none is the number
And I’ll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it
And reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it
Then I’ll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin’
But I’ll know my song well before I start singin’
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall.”

Danny Glover: "We have to fight him every inch"

At a December 7 rally in Washington, DC, to support striking federal workers, actor Danny Glover criticized people who say Trump should be given “a chance.” Glover said, “Give him a chance what? We know who he is. We know exactly who he is. We have to accept that. But we have to fight him every inch. We have to fight him every moment.”

Time magazine had just come with their annual “Person of the Year” issue with Trump on the cover. Glover said, “It’s irresponsible to make him Person of the Year. Based on what? Based on the fact that he won the Electoral College? Based on the fact that he lied to people? Based on the fact that all the stories of all he’s done to women and what he thinks about women? Based on his racism? A racist as Person of the Year? I’m appalled, I’m appalled. I’m angry now that Time magazine would name this person Person of the Year. It’s incredible.” He said this was a “slap in our face” and “the most disrespectful thing.”

Rosie O'Donnell: "Not My President"

Actor and TV personality Rosie O’Donnell has been calling on people to stand up against Trump in a number of recent tweets. In response to someone who tweeted, “we need to organize an anti-Trump inauguration,” O’Donnell tweeted: “no one go – film urself – periscope STANDING keep saying ‘NOT MY PRESIDENT – LIFE – WITH MILLIONS OF OTHERS.” She also wrote “its called STAY HOME – DO NOT WATCH IT.” And she quoted from writer and journalist Norman Cousins: “There is nothing more powerful than an individual acting out of conscience.”

IBM Employees Denounce CEO's Collaboration with Trump

On November 15, IBM Corporation CEO, Ginni Rometty, published an open letter to Donald Trump, offering the tech giant’s cooperation to “advance a national agenda” and offering “ideas that I believe will help achieve the aspiration you articulated” in his Election-night acceptance speech.

The following week, Elizabeth Wood, a senior content specialist in IBM Marketing, wrote her own open letter, denouncing Rometty’s shameless offer to collaborate with the new fascist regime, and resigning from her position.

Wood’s letter said (all emphasis in original):

Your letter offered the backing of IBM’s global workforce in support of his agenda that preys on marginalized people and threatens my well-being as a woman, a Latina and a concerned citizen. The company’s hurry to do this was a tacit endorsement of his position. ...

“The president-elect has demonstrated contempt for immigrants, veterans, people with disabilities, Black, Latinx, Jewish, Muslim and LGBTQ communities. These groups comprise a growing portion of the company you lead, Ms. Rometty. ...

When the president-elect follows through on his repeated threats to create a public database of Muslims, what will IBM do? Your letter neglects to mention.1

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]

Writers Resist NYC: Louder Together for Free Expression

On January 15, writers across the U.S. and other countries are holding Writers Resist events to “focus public attention on the ideals of a free, just, and compassionate society.” The “flagship” event on that day is slated for New York City and is co-sponsored by the writers’ group PEN America. It is described on the PEN America website as a “literary protest” that will be held on the steps of the New York City Library at 5th Avenue and 42nd Street in Manhattan “to defend free expression, reject hate crimes and uphold truth in the face of lies and misinformation.”

The protest “will bring together hundreds of writers and artists and thousands of New Yorkers on the birthday of civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. American poet laureates Robert Pinsky and Rita Dove will each offer hope and inspiration with original ‘inaugural’ poems written for the occasion.”

And, “After the readings and performances, a group of PEN America leaders and any who wish to join will walk the blocks to Trump Tower together to present PEN America’s free expression pledge on the First Amendment signed by over 110,000 individuals to a member of the President-elect’s team. We are confident the reading at the library and the subsequent march, as two distinct but powerful events to uphold free expression and human rights for all, will be powerful.”

According to Writers Resist organizers, in addition to NYC, January15 events are planned for “Houston, Austin, New Orleans, Seattle, Spokane, Los Angeles, London, Zurich, Boston, Omaha, Kansas City, Jacksonville, Madison, Milwaukee, Bloomington, Baltimore, Oakland, Tallahassee, Newport, Santa Fe, Salt Lake, and Portland (Oregon AND Maine) and many other cities.”

For more on the protest and participants, go here.

500 Women Scientists: "We reject the hateful rhetoric that was given a voice during the U.S. presidential election..."

An online letter by a group of women scientists against Trump’s attacks on science and on his hateful poison directed at different sections of the people has gathered over 11,000 signatures from around the world as of December 23. In an article published by Scientific American, ecologist Kelly Ramirez said that, after the Trump-Pence victory, she and a small group of scientist friends began discussing “how can we take action?” On November 17, they posted their letter with signatures of 500 women scientists.

The letter begins: “Science is foundational in a progressive society, fuels innovation, and touches the lives of every person on this planet. The anti-knowledge and anti-science sentiments expressed repeatedly during the U.S. presidential election threaten the very foundations of our society. Our work as scientists and our values as human beings are under attack. We fear that the scientific progress and momentum in tackling our biggest challenges, including staving off the worst impacts of climate change, will be severely hindered under this next U.S. administration. Our planet cannot afford to lose any time.

“In this new era of anti-science and misinformation, we as women scientists re-affirm our commitment to build a more inclusive society and scientific enterprise. We reject the hateful rhetoric that was given a voice during the U.S. presidential election and which targeted minority groups, women, LGBTQIA [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual], immigrants, and people with disabilities, and attempted to discredit the role of science in our society. Many of us feel personally threatened by this divisive and destructive rhetoric and have turned to each other for understanding, strength, and a path forward. We are members of racial, ethnic, and religious minority groups. We are immigrants. We are people with disabilities. We are LGBTQIA. We are scientists. We are women.”

The letter outlines a number of actions that the signers pledge to take “to increase diversity in science and other disciplines.” The complete letter (available in English, Spanish, Portuguese, German, French, Dutch, and Farsi), signatories, and other related information is available online here.

Mystery Writer Elizabeth George: "I will not ever accept what's going on right now in the US as the new normal"

Elizabeth George is a U.S.-based writer of mystery novels set in Great Britain. She is widely known for her series of books featuring Inspector Thomas Lynley. In a recent post titled “Mea Culpa” on her website, part of a series of essays on the 2016 elections, George wrote in part: “...what I cannot forgive is the effort being made on all sides to normalize what is going on, to say ‘let’s give him a chance.’ To this I say that, for me, what’s going on is not the new normal. So far and at the time of my writing this, Donald Trump has given cabinet positions to two of his billionaire friends, has chosen a Wall Street bigwig from Goldman Sachs to head the Treasury Department, has selected a foe not only of women’s rights to choose but also of insurance supplied contraception as his head of Health and Human Services, has chosen a racist as his attorney general, has chosen a climate-change denying non-scientist to head the EPA, has chosen a woman who sank the educational system in Detroit to be the head of the Department of Education.... If at some horrible point in the future, Muslims are told that they must register, I intend to register as a Muslim and I encourage everyone else to do the same. I will not ever accept what’s going on right now in the US as the new normal.”

She closes the essay with: “Normal is actually standing for something and drawing a line in the sand across which racial hatred, religious intolerance, sexual aggression, misogyny, fascism, Nazism, white supremacy, Hitler salutes, the Ku Klux Klan, and LGBTQ persecution dare not cross.

“That’s the new normal, that’s the old normal, and that’s the only normal that I will ever accept or support.”

Read the whole piece by Elizabeth George here.

Playwright and Literature Professor Ariel Dorfman: "Now America Knows How Chile Felt"

Ariel Dorfman is a Chilean-American playwright, novelist, human rights activist and an emeritus professor of literature at Duke University. In an op-ed titled “Now, America, You Know How Chileans Felt” that appeared in the New York Times on December 17, Dorfman describes how after Salvador Allende had won the presidential election in 1970, U.S. President Richard Nixon and the CIA worked to undermine the results, including the assassination of a general who stood in the way of the U.S. plans. When the U.S. was not able to block Allende’s inauguration, “American intelligence services, at Henry A. Kissinger’s behest, continued to assail our sovereignty, sabotaging our prosperity (‘make the economy scream,’ Nixon ordered) and fostering military unrest. Finally, on Sept. 11, 1973, Allende was ousted, replaced by a vicious dictatorship that lasted nearly 17 years. Years of torture, executions, disappearances and exile.”

Dorfman notes the irony of the CIA “now crying foul because its tactics have been imitated by a powerful international rival,” referring to allegations of Russian interference in U.S. elections. He writes that when Donald Trump dismisses those allegations, “he is bizarrely echoing the very responses that so many Chileans got in the early ’70s when we accused the C.I.A. of illegal intervention in our internal affairs.” And Dorman writes, “The United States cannot in good faith decry what has been done to its citizens until it is ready to face what it did so often to the equally decent citizens of other nations. And it must resolve never to engage in such imperious activities again.”

Ariel Dorfman’s piece is online here.

Neveragain.tech: "We refuse to facilitate mass deportations of people the government believes to be undesirable"

On December 13, a group of people who work in tech organizations and companies based in the U.S. issued a strong statement pledging “solidarity with Muslim Americans, immigrants, and all people whose lives and livelihoods are threatened by the incoming administration’s proposed data collection policies.” They said they refuse to build databases of people based on their religious beliefs and to facilitate mass deportations. Their statement was also in defiance of top execs from major tech companies like Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Tesla, and Alphabet (Google), who a day earlier met with Trump, adding to the efforts to normalize fascism.

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.

Return to top

In a piece titled "Forward Ever, Normal Never: Taking Down Donald Trump" in Monthly Review, Susie Day writes:

"People often compare the ascendance of Trump and his cabinet of deplorables to the rise of the Nazis—taking momentary refuge in the fact that 1933 Germany didn't have the nuclear option.  Apropos of Trump's take on flag burning, one of the first things Hitler did as chancellor was to rescind freedom of speech, assembly, the press. . .  Then the arrest of political opponents, the forcing of Jews to register their propertywear 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

Return to top

Cornel West: “Goodbye, American neoliberalism. A new era is here”

...In this bleak moment, we must inspire each other driven by a democratic soulcraft of integrity, courage, empathy and a mature sense of history – even as it seems our democracy is slipping away.

We must not turn away from the forgotten people of US foreign policy – such as Palestinians under Israeli occupation, Yemen's civilians killed by US-sponsored Saudi troops or Africans subject to expanding US military presence.

As one whose great family and people survived and thrived through slavery, Jim Crow and lynching, Trump's neofascist rhetoric and predictable authoritarian reign is just another ugly moment that calls forth the best of who we are and what we can do.

For us in these times, to even have hope is too abstract, too detached, too spectatorial. Instead we must be a hope, a participant and a force for good as we face this catastrophe.

Read entire statement here

Return to top

Guns N’ Roses Invites Mexico Fans Onstage to Destroy Trump Piñata

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.

Return to top

Undocumented in Trump’s America
By Jose Antonio Vargas, November 20

On election night, while making my way through a crowd gathered outside the Fox News headquarters in Midtown Manhattan, a white man wearing a Mets cap patted my back and said through the noise: "Get ready to be deported." Rattled, I made it inside the green room and waited to go on the air.

I am an undocumented immigrant. I outed myself in a very public way in The New York Times in 2011, and since then have appeared regularly on cable news programs, especially on Fox, to humanize the very political and polarizing issue of immigration ...

What will you do when they start rounding us up?

Read entire article here

Return to top

An abortion doctor on Trump's win: "I fear for my life. I fear for my patients."
By Warren M. Hern, November 11

As I've headed to work in recent days to see abortion patients in my office, I have felt bereft: All the premises of my life, work, education, and future were gone. Something very profound in the meaning of the America I know has been destroyed with the election of Donald J. Trump as president ...

Under an unrestrained Donald Trump and this Republican Congress, I fear for my life, I fear for my family, and I fear for my future. I fear for my staff and my patients.

Even more, I fear for my country, and I fear for the world.

Read entire article here

Return to top

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: "We cannot let justice be denied by waiting. History has shown us over and over what horrors that leads to."

In a December 1 article for the Washington Post online edition, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar calls for resistance against Trump. Writing from his viewpoint of protecting this country’s “most sacred values,” Abdul-Jabbar criticizes others and their “hide-beneath-the-bed tactic”—like Jack Rosen, president of the American Jewish Congress, who says “we should take a look-and-see approach” and Black Entertainment Television founder and Hillary Clinton supporter Bob Johnson who said African Americans should give Trump “the benefit of the doubt.” He writes that the appointments Trump has been making already show that “these people and their contra-constitutional view are a clear and present danger” and calls for civil disobedience in different forms.

See Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s article here.

Return to top

In a November 10 speech in the Irish Parliament, Senator Aodhán Ó Riordáin made a strong speech denouncing Donald Trump as a fascist—and condemning the Irish government's conciliatory response.

After the election of Trump, Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny called to congratulate him and ask whether the annual White House celebration of St. Patrick’s Day was still on. Irish Senator Aodhan O'Riordáin, fired off this response in the Irish Seanad (Senate):

Edmund Burke once said the only way evil can prosper is for good men to do nothing. American has just elected a fascist and the best thing that good people in Ireland can do is to ring him up and ask him if they can still bring the Shamrock on St. Patrick’s Day. I’m embarrassed about what the Irish government has done I can’t believe the reaction from the government. And I don’t use the word fascist lightly. What else would you call somebody threatens to imprison his political opponents? What else would you call somebody who threatens to not allow people of a certain religious faith into their country? What would you say, or how would you describe somebody who is threatening to deport 10 million people. What would you say about somebody who says that the media is rigged, the judiciary is rigged, the political system is rigged. And then he wins the election and the best we can come out with is a call to say is it still ok to bring the shamrock...I am frightened. I am frightened for what is happening in this world and in our inability to stand up to it. I want to ask you, leader, to ask the Minister of Foreign of Affairs into this house and ask him how we are supposed to deal with this monster who has just been elected president of America because I don’t think any of us in years to come should look back on this period and say we didn’t do everything in our power to call it out for what it is.

See the whole speech below.

Return to top

Andrew Sullivan: "The Republic Repeals Itself"

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.

Return to top

 

 

 

       

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/476/call-to-professors-and-students-make-university-a-zone-of-resistance-en.html

Revolution #476 January 30, 2017

A Call to Professors, Students and All in Academia:
Starting This Semester… Make the University a Zone of Resistance to the Fascist Trump Regime and the Coming Assault on the Academy

January 27, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Sign, circulate, and act on this statement, inspired by refusefascism.org:

SIGN THIS CALL

 

Historically, the university has been the institution where dissent and critical thinking have had the greatest initiative in society. It has helped incubate social movements—like antiwar and civil rights, women's liberation and environmental. This vital role must be defended from fascist assault—and is needed more than ever.

The weekend of January 21st, millions in the U.S. and around the world marched to register their revulsion at the Trump-Pence regime. That same weekend the Trump-Pence regime pushed aggressively forward with its fascist agenda: an inaugural speech of chauvinistic and war-mongering "America first," then attacks on the press, followed by ominous declarations that this will be a "law and order" administration. What will come tomorrow?

The Trump-Pence regime threatens to bring catastrophe to humanity. We must expose the truth about the Trump regime, build resistance, and continue to demand its impeachment and removal.

We call on fellow academics and intellectuals to join the millions in the U.S. and around the world who have taken to the streets to oppose hate, racism, sexism, other forms of intolerance, dishonesty, and the authoritarianism of the Trump regime and its allies. Faculty and students must be encouraged to speak freely, in and out of class, about the dangerous character of the Trump regime. We must stand in solidarity with professors “named” and threatened for their progressive or radical views by the rightwing “Professor Watchlist” and other enforcers of the new McCarthyism.

The university must become a zone of resistance—a site of "NO" to fascism in America—and a haven of dissent, critical thinking, and free speech… and for upholding civil and human rights and liberties… and fostering society-wide resistance to this regime.

This semester:

Organize teach-ins and walk-ins, inviting students and others to come and speak up. Create new spaces to address this social emergency.

Classes and curriculum should reflect that we are facing a social emergency. Classes can become forums to discuss everything from what fascism is and the lessons of history, as in Germany… to Trump and the attack on civil liberties, women and LGBTQ, Black lives, immigrants, and the environment… to what this fascist agenda bodes for the university itself. Put "NO!" posters on blackboards and windows—and make them available to colleagues and students.

Be part of marches, demonstrations, and a visible presence on the streets and other public places.

Support and join with students who are organizing and engaging in resistance to the Trump regime. Stand with immigrant and Muslim students and professors, as well as outspoken professors, who are targeted and attacked. The movement for “sanctuary campuses” must expand, and pledges by administrations to protect undocumented students must be upheld no matter the pressures and orders.

The university community must find the ways to make common cause with, and invite into the community, people from all of walks of life who are resisting.

In these dark times, the resistance we mount can contribute to bringing a far better world into being.

Initial Signers:
Christopher Chase-Dunn, Distinguished Professor of Sociology, University of California, Riverside*
Fidel Fajardo-Acosta, Professor of English, Creighton University*
David J. Harris, Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice, Harvard University*
Ivan Huber, Professor Emeritus of Biology, Fairleigh Dickinson University*
Raymond Lotta, Political economist, writer for Revolution/revcom.us
Ceasar McDowell, Professor, Department of Urban Studies and Planning, MIT*
Reverend John T. Pawlikowski, Professor of Social Ethics, Catholic Theological Union, Chicago*
Bruce Price, Harvard Medical School*
Phil Rice, Harvard Medical School*

*Institutional affiliations listed for identification purposes only

 

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/475/lives-in-the-balance-trumps-first-days-en.html

Revolution #476 January 30, 2017

Lives in the Balance... Which Will Win?

Trump's First Days: The Heavy Hand of Fascism and the Spark of Resistance

Updated with new introduction January 25, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

January 25: This article was written shortly after the Women’s March on Saturday, January 21. Millions took to the streets across the country and around the world. What the article calls for and what needed to happen in the days following the March was not achieved. We are continuing to call the attention of our readers to the analysis in the article. It remains timely and relevant.

 

On its first weekend in power, the Trump-Pence regime moved quickly to establish a fully fascist state. At the same time, millions of people around the world demonstrated against Trump and Pence in the Women’s March, demonstrating the tremendous potential for resistance.

The fate of billions now directly hangs on whether Trump-Pence will be able to fully consolidate this fascist state... or whether this massive opposition can be marshaled into a force to prevent its consolidation and move to oust it from power altogether.

Two futures contend. There is still time to stop this, but we must act soon.

Fascist Terms Are Set

History is filled with examples where people fought against tremendous odds and were fictorious...
Click to enlarge

Through Trump’s inaugural address and then his speech to the CIA, as well as through use of the White House website and handling of the press, the Trump-Pence regime made chillingly clear its determination to radically and quickly reorder the current form of political rule in the U.S. into fascism. We’re going to walk through the key points of what this is, and in a separate appendix to this article we annotate each point with examples from Trump’s two speeches.

Trump’s inaugural address privileged those who voted for him as the legitimate citizens, directly addressing them above all. He claimed his supporters as a “movement” of “forgotten Americans,” who will now be taken care of... by him. He recited a list of their grievances—some real, some imagined, and all of them distorted through the fascist, racist funhouse mirrors of Trumpworld. He stoked their resentment against “the elites”—by whom Trump clearly means intellectuals, artists, scientists, political people who opposed his election for whatever reason, as well as those who attempt to win some reforms on the more egregious abuses of this system, and not the finance-capitalist billionaires, the “mad dog” generals, the stone-cold racists, and lunatic religious fanatics with whom he has stocked his cabinet—and he portrayed himself as the champion who will now vanquish those enemies.

The racism and sexism, the systemic discrimination that permeates U.S. society is totally denied in Trumpworld—while there may be some vague “prejudice,” that can be washed away in the blood shed by patriots. Trump goes so far as to say that “at the bedrock of our politics will be a total allegiance to the United States of America, and through our loyalty to our country, we will discover loyalty to each other.” Please note: “bedrock” and “total allegiance” (emphasis added). If you can’t see how stunning this statement is, then substitute the word Germany or the “volk” for “United States of America,” and tell us why such a statement would not work for Adolf Hitler. Those who are not white, those who may have at one time or another dissented, may be allowed into this brave new world, but only on condition of their submission and “total allegiance.” This is a world in which the fascists, and white people in general, will have rights and privileges and legal standing, and those who are not fascists—or who are not white males—will live as second-class citizens at best.

In line with this, in a move that was as unusual as it was ominous, Trump said nothing in his speech about the Constitution and the primacy of the rule of law over the whim of individual rulers, but said that he owed his allegiance—and presumably derived his authority—from “you the people.”

Trump aggressively threatened the entire rest of the world with American power, reviving and popularizing the fascist slogan from the 1940s of “America First,” and calling it a “new decree” and “a new vision that will govern our land.” In every encounter, according to Trump, the U.S. will assert its interests and mess over whoever must be messed over to gain them. Trump promised to “eradicate” those he deemed to be enemies “completely from the face of the earth.”

To understand the roots and the dynamics of Trump's ascension to power, get into these two works

by Bob Avakian:

The Truth About Right-Wing Conspiracy... And Why Clinton and the Democrats Are No Answer

The Fascists and the Destruction of the 'Weimar Republic'...And What Will Replace It

At the CIA, Trump—who has falsely claimed that he opposed the Iraq war from the beginning—nonetheless said that once there, the U.S. should have taken the oil, and went so far as to enunciate the principle of “to the victor belong the spoils.” The U.S. military—already larger and more powerfully armed than the next six militaries after it combined—will now be further put on steroids. Trump said that he would support the CIA 1000 percent—meaning, given his campaign promises, that kidnapping, torture, assassination, unlimited drone strikes, and all-round brutality will no longer have even the pretense of checks. People should check out the American Crime series to get just a hint of the literally millions the CIA has had killed and tortured over the past 70 years, all over the planet, in the service of U.S. imperialism. Trump promises, in a world in which U.S. power faces new challenges, that he will take this exploitation and domination to a whole new level, enforcing it if need be with nuclear arms, and that he will let the CIA, the military, and the police totally off their leashes, supporting them “like never before.”

Trump unleashed a war against the press. Trump whipped up the CIA against the press in his speech to the agency, a blatant threat to the right to free expression. Further: he violated what has been an accepted norm for centuries that the army and other forces of the state are to remain “neutral” or “apolitical” in the sense of not siding with one or another faction of the ruling class; instead, Trump bragged in his CIA speech about his great support in the military, the intelligence agencies, and the police. This whole speech—given on an off-day of work, so that most of the people who attended were those who favored Trump and who gave him a chillingly enthusiastic welcome—smacked of forming a faction within the agency to directly serve his interests against other forces. This goes with Trump’s unprecedented seeding of his cabinet with “retired” generals. To return, however, to the muzzling of the press, it is true that the big media in U.S. society generally train people in the outlook of capitalism-imperialism and the ruling class, and generally act as stenographers for “government sources”; but Trump has already begun to intimidate and suppress anything in the media that he deems to get in his way and in the way of the radical re-ordering of society that he is moving forward with.

Trump made clear in his inaugural speech a genocidal thrust toward communities of color, painting stereotypes of subhuman communities and implying extreme repression to “stop the carnage.” It is not for nothing that Trump has expressed a certain kinship to Rodrigo Duterte, the ruler of the Philippines who has unleashed a reign of terror in the ghettos there, carrying out thousands of extra-judicial street killings in less than a year. You could say the same about Trump’s call for nationwide stop-and-frisk (against Black and Latino people “to stop crime”), or his appointment of the most consistently racist senator in the entire U.S. Senate to be his attorney general. And it is extremely significant—and extremely ominous—that one of the first things on the White House website was a call to take the supposed restraints off the police and to enforce law and order.

Trump and Pence have made the theocratic Christian fascist movement a key part of their ruling alliance, with Trump now draping himself in the clothes of someone “chosen by god.” How else to explain his seemingly serious remarks to the CIA on how god interrupted the rain so that he could give his inaugural speech? Or the chilling medieval passage in his inaugural speech in which, after detailing the changes he would make, he said that god and the U.S. military and police would protect us? Indeed, the Trump-Pence regime is an anthill of Christian fascist fanatics, beginning with Pence himself, but also including Ben Carson, Betsy DeVos, and Steve Bannon.

       

Trump attempted to impose an alternate reality of “Trumpworld” on public discourse, a world in which the facts are what Donald Trump says they are and those who disagree will be threatened and silenced. In this bizarro world, Trump’s attacks on the CIA all through December and January for their finding that the Russians had conducted “cyberwarfare” intended to help his election never happened; it was all an attempt by the press to create a feud. In this bizarro world, Trump’s inauguration attendance broke all records (when in fact it was rather pitiful by comparison with Obama's and other past inaugurations). In this bizarro world, the press secretary takes no questions but tells the press what is reality and insults and threatens them for reporting what actually did happen—for reporting the most simple and minimal facts which everyone can see. Yes, there is an egomaniac psychopathology to Trump, but that is not at the heart of this: Fascism always seeks to impose an absolutist and fantastical version of reality on society and to straitjacket any attempts to get at the objective truth of anything.1

Trump called out and attacked other sections of the ruling class—for the purpose of silencing them and bludgeoning their acquiescence in his fascist reordering of society. Trump directly blamed those who have ruled the U.S. for the past quarter century for the problems of the masses, claiming that they enriched themselves while plundering the people. And it is certainly true that sitting on the stage of the inauguration were big-time criminals and criminal accomplices who have indeed ordered and carried out terrible things. But Trump is essentially attacking and implicitly threatening them for not being criminal enough, in his eyes, and he’s doing this to extract their cooperation, or at least silence, in his move to fascism. Forget the lurid tales about Russian prostitutes—Trump figuratively pissed all over his rivals at his own inauguration. And then, at the banquet afterwards, like the pimp and con man that he is, he played the “nice guy,” the “schmoozer.”

Resistance to the “New Order”

Throughout the week leading up to the inauguration, resistance began to grow. By Friday, Trump’s inauguration was forced to share the headlines with demonstrations in the streets that went all day and into the night, full of spirit and determination.

Then, on Saturday, millions of people in the U.S. and around the world turned out at “The Women’s March,” expressing serious but exuberant opposition to Trump. These marches swept up many, many people who do not normally demonstrate and are far from politically radical, but who cleared the day and in some cases came hundreds and even thousands of miles to make their statement. This in turn represents a broader layer of humanity and, potentially, billions. In short, this was something to take real heart from, and to welcome.

At the same time, the ways must be found—now—to take this further. Haunting this march was a precedent: the weekend shortly before the launching of the war against Iraq by George W. Bush, in which perhaps eight million people around the world came out to voice their opposition. This, too, was a great thing; but Bush held in his hands the power of state, and he ignored the marchers and launched what has turned out to be an utter and truly horrific disaster not only for the people of Iraq, but for people all over the Middle East and, indeed, the world. The toll in deaths and trauma of that war is terrible to contemplate, it continues today, and it will continue for some time.

The vows back then to “punish them at the polls” were worse than meaningless; they derailed people from building the fierce, unyielding opposition that was required. People around Bush crowed that they were “creating reality on the ground” that others would have to relate to—an approach taken up by Trump, in spades—and they did in fact set new terms, effectively silencing most opposition for several years until the war they launched ended in such an utter disaster for U.S. imperialist interests in that region and around the world that they lost initiative.

Such an approach with Trump and Pence—the idea that the road forward is for people to take over and “revitalize” the Democratic Party—is wrong on many, many counts, but in terms of the current moment it is most wrong because it disarms people in the face of an extremely dire threat. The Trump-Pence “brand,” to use the parlance of the day, is not conservatism, or populism, or even “just” reactionary and ugly racism, sexism, and xenophobia (though it is indeed all that)—it is FASCISM. Fascism is greater than the sum of its parts—it is, to again cite the definition we’ve used in these pages over the past months:

...the exercise of blatant dictatorship by the bourgeois (capitalist-imperialist) class, ruling through reliance on open terror and violence, trampling on what are supposed to be civil and legal rights, wielding the power of the state, and mobilizing organized groups of fanatical thugs, to commit atrocities against masses of people, particularly groups of people identified as “enemies,” “undesirables,” or “dangers to society.”

At the same time—and this can be seen through studying the examples of Nazi Germany and Italy under Mussolini—while it will likely move quickly to enforce certain repressive measures in consolidating its rule, a fascist regime is also likely to implement its program overall through a series of stages and even attempt at different points to reassure the people, or certain groups among the people, that they will escape the horrors—if they quietly go along and do not protest or resist while others are being terrorized and targeted for repression, deportation, “conversion,” prison, or execution.

The danger is this: while you are setting out to do “the hard work of grassroots organizing for the long haul,” Trump and Pence are gearing up the machinery of a fully fascist state, rousing their social base, and moving to crush the masses of people and any efforts at such grassroots organizing that they cannot neutralize in an extremely telescoped time frame.

As for the Democrats, and all those antiwar people who were drawn back then into working so hard to “remake” the Democratic Party only to find themselves supporting the essentially pro-war candidate John Kerry, we must quote the bitter truth put forth by Bob Avakian:

If you try to make the Democrats be what they are not and never will be, you will end up being more like what the Democrats actually are. (BAsics 3:12)

Now, to be clear, there is in fact a path of hope, a way forward. But to find that way, we have break out of the channels and, indeed, constraints that set the terms for our thinking.

What Is To Be Done?

The logic of fascism is to stay on the attack, to move quickly and to threaten and bludgeon anything or anyone who gets in their way. The method of fascism is shock and intimidation, one outrage after another, until people are reduced to crouching and cringing in the face of repeated and unpredictable blows.

We now face a situation in which Trump and Pence hold in their hands the power of state and in which they have begun to work that logic. But as yet, this power is not consolidated.

There is not much time... but there is yet a window that still exists.

If on Monday and Tuesday of this week, people answered the call of refusefascism.org in sufficient numbers to begin to stop business as usual, and to call forward others to do that...

If as the week went on, others answered that call, in a snowballing effect, and—as happened just last fall in South Korea when millions came into the streets and in the space of a few months drove the president from office—thousands and then millions came into the streets, in many different forms of protest...

If these men and women and young people refused to be divided and deterred, but stuck to the simple truth of the NO! to Trump-Pence fascism...

If this reached into every corner of civil society and the culture at large...

If this combined with over-reaching by Trump-Pence, or with yet another outrage that “crosses a line,” and if all this further opened people’s eyes to the true nature of this regime and what it would mean for humanity, and still more growing numbers of people, reaching into all of society including the government itself, found ways to resist...

If those who knew and had access to the facts were inspired to find the ways to get out any of the real stories behind Trump-Pence and their means and methods and motives and histories, and this created even greater unease, scandal, and crisis...

If the sheer numbers began to demoralize and even peel away or win over some Trump supporters (even as it would inevitably energize others), and the momentum began to shift further so as to make not just the lack of support but the fierce and growing opposition to this fascist regime clearer, and there were breaks in the opposition camp...

If forces in the power structure itself, some of whom are for various reasons disquieted by the move to fascism or seriously concerned by and opposed to some of what Trump is aiming to do (which, after all, IS a radical and extremely risky restructuring of how the ruling class “normally” rules), and some of whom may feel directly threatened by it, but who will not act unless the actions of all society begin to make them feel that they have to act... if those forces began to come out in serious opposition in an effort to put the regime on the defensive (as was done, in fact, in the 1970s when ruling class forces came together to force Nixon out of office)...

If, in short, a serious political crisis arose... then this regime could be stopped.

To those who say this can’t happen overnight, we are tempted to say it could best happen overnight; that comparable instances like South Korea last fall or Egypt in 2011, when the dictator of 30 years was driven from office in the space of less than a month, show the possibility of doing this; and that the terrible and grievous experience of Germany—where Hitler used the time he had after his initial ascent to power to step-by-step wipe out his opposition and radically (though “legally”) alter the laws of Germany—shows the dangers of not acting with speed. But instead, we’ll say only that this IS possible and that attempts to defeat and uproot this regime later on would be immeasurably harder than it would be right now.

This is not to say that this path would not be difficult, nor to minimize the dangers. It IS to say that the path of waiting to see would be worse.

The momentum from this weekend has created a rare opening; it will not last forever. Let history not judge that we squandered it.


1. Indeed, Trump’s narcissism is right out of the fascist playbook, in which the followers personally identify with and put blind faith in the “strongman,” seen as anointed by god to “redeem” the nation. [back]

[Scroll down for annotations]

Tahrir SquareEgypt, Tahrir Square, 2011
In the winter of 2011, five years ago, the people of Egypt flooded into Tahir Square and rose up in rebellion against decades of brutally oppressive rule by the Mubarak regime—a regime backed by and playing a key role in preserving the interests of the U.S. empire. They stayed in the Square in the tens and hundreds of thousands until on February 11 of that year, Mubarak was driven from office. (Photos: AP)

South Korea In South Korea, for almost three months now, people have gone into the streets, week after week, demanding the immediate removal of President Park Geun-hye. In a country of 50 million people, there have been 2 million at some of the protests. Park and her family are hated: Her father, Park Chung-hee, brutally ruled South Korea from 1961 to 1979 after seizing power in a military coup. Park Geun-hye is accused of corruption, the government has been forced to impeach her, and a court is now deciding whether to uphold this decision. Protests are continuing, with the people demanding the immediate ouster, arrest, and imprisonment of the president.

Annotations

Trump’s inaugural address privileged those who voted for him as the legitimate citizens...

Trump began the inaugural speech by addressing the people in general. He said that now “the people will become the rulers of this nation again.” Directly after that paragraph, however, Trump performed a rhetorical sleight of hand and made clear that he was addressing only those who voted for him, saying that “you came by the tens of millions to become part of an historic movement, the likes of which the world has never seen before.” While he did take the oath of office, at no time in the speech did he mention the Constitution or the importance of the rule of law (there is no phrase to the effect that “this is a government of laws, not of men and women”). The entire thrust of the first part of his speech was to actually posit a new legitimacy of Trump voters.

~~~~~~~~~~

Trump aggressively threatened the entire rest of the world with American power...

In his inauguration speech, Trump said, “We assembled here today are issuing a new decree to be heard in every city, in every foreign capital, and in every hall of power. From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land. From this moment on, it’s going to be only America first, America first.” And later, “America will start winning again, winning like never before.” Trump then made clear what that means, and what extreme military measures he will take, when he said, “We will reinforce old alliances and form new ones—and unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the earth.”

In his speech to the CIA, Trump reiterated his threat: “We have to get rid of ISIS. We have to get rid of ISIS. We have no choice. Radical Islamic terrorism—and I said it yesterday—has to be eradicated. Just off the face of the earth.” Right in the beginning, Trump previewed a theme of his talk: “We’re going to do great things. We’re going to do great things. We’ve been fighting these wars for longer than any wars we’ve ever fought. We have not used the real abilities that we have. We’ve been restrained.” Then he said, “There can be wars between countries. There can be wars.” Trump talked about all the military people he is putting in his administration, saying, “the generals are wonderful and the fighting is wonderful.” And then he talked about the Iraq war in order to put forward his agenda for why the U.S. should utilize its military might ever more aggressively and more viciously in the world. He said, “The old expression: ‘to the victor belongs the spoils’—you remember? You always used to say ‘keep the oil’.” Trump then lied: “I didn’t want to go into Iraq.” But then he followed that up with, “Maybe we’ll have another chance.” In this way Trump made it clear that he intends to use the full extent of U.S. military might, including nuclear arms, to wipe anyone considered an enemy of the U.S. off the face of the earth. And by telling the CIA, “I am with you 1,000 percent,” Trump made clear he will back any and all measures, including torture and other unconstitutional practices, in the service of U.S. imperialist interests.

~~~~~~~~~~

Trump unleashed a war against the press...

Trump bragged about his support in the military, police, and CIA. He said in the speech at the CIA: “You know, the military, and the law-enforcement generally speaking—but, all of it—but the military, gave us tremendous percentages of votes. We were unbelievably successful in the election with getting the vote of the military and probably almost everybody in this room voted for me, but I will not ask you to raise your hands if you did. But I would guarantee a big portion. Because we’re all on the same wavelength, folks. We’re all on the same wavelength.”

A major part of his speech to the CIA was to continue his attack on the press. In the first minutes, he said, “I always call them ‘the dishonest media.’” He also said, “They [media] are among the most dishonest human beings on earth.” Trump filled his speech to the CIA with . lies about the turnout for his inauguration. These claims—or what were called “alternative facts” by those in the Trump camp—have been proven to be lies by photos, historical facts, and other evidence by the press. Trump called the press liars for saying the turnout was 250,000: “We had a massive field of people. You saw that. Packed... It looked like a million and a half people. Whatever it was... and I get this network and it showed an empty field. And it said we drew 250,000 people. Now that’s not bad. But it’s a lie.” And then Trump threatened: “So we caught them. And we caught them in a beauty. And I think they’re going to pay a big price.” So on day one of his presidency Trump has made it clear he is going to intimidate and suppress anything in the media that gets in the way of his fascist agenda.

~~~~~~~~~~

Trump made clear in his inaugural speech a genocidal thrust toward communities of color, painting stereotypes of subhuman communities and implying extreme repression to “stop the carnage”...

At the end of the first part of his inauguration speech, Trump mentioned the conditions of “mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities,” and blasted the education system, ending with “And the crime and gangs and the drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential.” It is this last sentence that carries the weight of the paragraph—clearly targeting Black and Latino youth caught up in the gang life as the source of the problem. And then he followed up with: “This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.” In the one mention of the conditions of Black and Latino people in the inner cities, Trump clearly blamed the conditions on a section of the victims themselves, left out any mention of institutional and systemic racism, including mass incarceration and police brutality and murder, and went so far as to purloin a major slogan of the movement against police murder (No More Stolen Lives!) for his own purposes. In this context—and with a page posted at the White House webpage that very day titled “Standing Up For Our Law Enforcement Community” saying that “The Trump Administration will be a law and order administration”—this is a threat, not a promise.

~~~~~~~~~~

Trump and Pence have made the theocratic Christian fascist movement a key part of their ruling alliance...

In the CIA speech, as part of his diatribe against the press for reporting the fact that there was low attendance for the inauguration, Trump said: “And they said ‘Donald Trump did not draw well.’ And I said, ‘well it was almost raining.’ The rain should have scared them away. But God looked down and he said ‘we’re not going to let it rain on your speech.’” This is, on one level, lunacy—but it is deadly serious. Trump is claiming that he has the blessing of god, and he will use this claim to justify all sorts of horrific actions. In a similar vein, Trump declared in his inaugural speech, “We will be protected by the great men and women of our military and law enforcement and, most importantly, we will be protected by God.” The close connection he makes here between the military/police and god is aimed at advancing the claim that whatever the military and police do is, again, blessed by god.

~~~~~~~~~~

Trump attempted to impose an alternate reality of “Trumpworld” on public discourse...

In the CIA speech, once again as part of his attacks on the press, Trump said, “And they sort of made it sound like I had a feud with the intelligence community. And I just want to let you know, the reason you’re the number one stop is exactly the opposite. Exactly.” Here Trump simply denies the fact—amply recorded in his many tweets and quotes—that he has been repeatedly attacking the CIA and other spy agencies in the last couple of months.

~~~~~~~~~~

Trump called out and attacked other sections of the ruling class—for the purpose of silencing them and bludgeoning their acquiescence in his fascist reordering of society...

After some perfunctory acknowledgement of the presence of previous presidents at the inauguration and the help of the Obamas in the transition, Trump immediately launched into a verbal assault on the other sections of the ruling class: “For too long, a small group in our nation’s capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost. Washington flourished—but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered—but the jobs left, and the factories closed. The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country. Their victories have not been your victories; their triumphs have not been your triumphs; and while they celebrated in our nation’s capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land.” Trump didn’t name names—but it was clear he was including in this attack many of those in his audience he sees as ruling class opponents of his fascist vision and program.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/474/on-peaceful-transition-of-power-legitimacy-illegitimacy-fascism-en.html

Revolution #476 January 30, 2017

On the "Peaceful Transfer of Power," Legitimacy and Illegitimacy, and Fascism

January 18, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

There is much talk today about “the peaceful transfer of power” and “legitimacy.” But what’s the reality behind these concepts?

First, on the “peaceful transfer of power”: this refers to the fact that through most of its history the ruling class of the U.S. has been able to switch power between different factions without falling into open clashes outside the legal framework. This is not to say that all kinds of extra-legal infighting does not go on between these factions—it does, and it can be very fierce—but generally speaking, they have been able to use the framework of their legal system to settle disputes among them. The glaring exception to this is the decidedly un-peaceful Civil War, through which the horror of slavery was finally ended—not through elections but by armed force.

This tradition—again, leaving aside the Civil War—goes back to the founding of the U.S. 240 years ago. The “founders” developed a unified state with a constitution to provide for passing laws and an army to enforce those laws. This new state had essentially four purposes:

  1. To prevent different European colonial powers of the day from gaining a foothold in different parts of the North American continent and becoming, or setting up, competing power centers;
  2. To develop the structures and procedures through which the dominant classes in society—the merchant-capitalists of the North and the slaveholders centered in the South—could struggle out conflicts and coordinate policy for the mutual advance of their class and individual interests;
  3. To create a framework in which individual small farmers, businessmen, etc. (the early middle class) could be allowed to pursue the goal of enriching themselves and to have some sense of stability in doing that and some sense of protection from the state in pursuing their economic and political objectives within the constraints of the system set up by the Constitution (and how, in return, they would identify with and become defenders of that system);
  4. Most fundamentally, to maintain the huge population of severely exploited Black enslaved people in a state of terror and subjugation, to continue the genocidal warfare and theft of land of the Native peoples who lived here, and if need be to crush revolts of disaffected poor white farmers or proletarians. For the exploited and oppressed sections of society—then and now—protection from the state and the means to politically wage struggle, as codified in the Bill of Rights, was either non-existent or (as time went on, and through a great deal of struggle and sacrifice) only honored in a curtailed and stunted way, and sometimes not at all. (This depended how great a threat the ruling class judged any particular movement among the oppressed to pose to their system.)

The Foundation of Political Power in the U.S.: Exploitation

Thus the political power codified in the Constitution rested on the foundation of this economic exploitation, land thievery, and forms of domination so horrific that they are painful to even contemplate today. As time went on, the first purpose of the state developed into a system of economically exploiting the entire world and preserving that domination through the most massive and destructive military machine in history, i.e., capitalism-imperialism, waging war all over the planet. And while slavery was eventually eliminated (again, in an extremely violent and very necessary civil war), the state has continued to keep the masses of Black people (as well as other “minorities”) in a state of check: exploited in the worst jobs or denied jobs, imprisoned en masse and murdered by police with impunity, and oppressed in a thousand other ways and through a thousand mechanisms, deeply embedded in every political, economic and civic institution, as well as the culture, of this society.

       

It is, in sum, the power to use the state to struggle out conflicts at the top and along with that to either sidetrack, contain or crush resistance coming from below—to keep the machinery of exploitation humming, in short—that is peacefully transferred every four years between one or another faction of the class that rules over this: the capitalist-imperialists.

Legitimacy and Illegitimacy

What then is legitimacy? You hear this term a lot too, especially since John Lewis said that Trump would be an illegitimate president.

There are two meanings here. First there is the question of whether those who rule are seen as legitimate. This too was provided for in the Constitution: they developed elections in which the new leader was said to express the will of the people. Yet the actual choices in these elections, as well as the terms and limits of debate, are dictated from above, by the most powerful class (or, while slavery still existed, classes); and every candidate fought for the reinforcement and extension of capitalism (and today capitalism-imperialism).

“Legitimacy” also means that most people most of the time recognize the right of the rulers to wield the machinery of violence of the state in defense of what has been imposed, and are generally recognized, as the “legitimating norms” of society (the basic principles as to how economic, political and civic life should be ordered... “the rules of the game,” so to speak), even as this is supposed to be done within certain limits.

You hear a lot of people say that “Trump is not normal.” And he’s not, but not only in the psychological sense. Trump will impose a new set of norms. The new norms of a Trump-Pence regime would constitute fascism, which we have defined as follows:

Fascism is the exercise of blatant dictatorship by the bourgeois (capitalist-imperialist) class, ruling through reliance on open terror and violence, trampling on what are supposed to be civil and legal rights, wielding the power of the state, and mobilizing organized groups of fanatical thugs, to commit atrocities against masses of people, particularly groups of people identified as “enemies,” “undesirables,” or “dangers to society.”

At the same time—and this can be seen through studying the examples of Nazi Germany and Italy under Mussolini—while it will likely move quickly to enforce certain repressive measures in consolidating its rule, a fascist regime is also likely to implement its program overall through a series of stages and even attempt at different points to reassure the people, or certain groups among the people, that they will escape the horrors—if they quietly go along and do not protest or resist while others are being terrorized and targeted for repression, deportation, “conversion,” prison, or execution.

What Is the Same, and What Is Different, About Fascism

Fascism is still capitalism-imperialism, still a system of exploitation and oppression, but one in which the intensity and forms of the repression and the strength of reaction is on a qualitatively different level. Because it also can involve suppression of other sections of the ruling class, and because its logic is to stay on the offensive and bludgeon its way out of any problems it creates (a very risky strategy), there is not only a lot of anguish and anger throughout society, there can be (and are right now) real qualms within the power structure. So, some forces right at the top of society are questioning the legitimacy of a Trump-Pence administration—which again means, literally, their right to wield force to back up their decisions; even if this is mainly being framed in terms of “Russian meddling” in the elections, it is not possible to fully separate this from the essence of the matter, which is the fascist character of what Trump-Pence are attempting to embark on.

At the same time, most of the imperialist politicians (including Obama) are NOT questioning legitimacy of a Trump-Pence regime and instead are harping on the importance of honoring the “peaceful transfer of power.” Even those who may be worried about the risks involved to their system with the Trump-Pence regime in power evidently think it would be even riskier to call into question his legitimacy. These politicians fear that taking out one thread invites the possibility of unraveling the whole thing and runs the risk of even greater instability, conflict, and questioning this could cause throughout society.

Once that begins, a lot of things can open up—including masses of people coming to question the foundations of legitimacy and to see other principles and values, and forces based on those principles, as actually being legitimate. If millions come to see things this way and if there are “jolts” in the imperialist system brought on by the workings of that system itself, and if there is a vanguard with ties to the masses... you can enter into a situation in which revolution becomes directly possible.

So these top politicians and most of the media are hammering endlessly at this “peaceful transfer of power” as the “great thing about America”—when in fact (as we have shown) a) all this has meant for centuries is the “peaceful” transfer of the power to oppress millions and today billions, and b) all this means today is the “peaceful transfer of power” to outright fascists who pose extraordinary dangers to humanity. While Trump and Pence may or may not have been lawfully elected, the point is that their fascist program should delegitimize their rule for any decent, humane person. After all, as refusefascism.org has said, Hitler also came to power through legal means—does that mean that people should not have done everything they could to stop him from being able to rule?

A Larger Question

All this should raise a larger question of legitimacy: what is legitimate about a system that celebrates such a transfer of power, whether peaceful or not? What is legitimate, and what is just, about a system that can only function through exploitation of people all over the world and in which power is wielded by the biggest exploiters—whether they succeed in smoothly transferring that power or not? What is legitimate about a system that not only produces and celebrates a Donald Trump, but actually selects him as its president? And why should we put up with such a system in which there is not only the constant, grinding oppression of the day-to-day dictatorship carried out by this state in normal times, but the open, blatant and qualitatively more severe repression of fascism always “waiting in the wings” (and now ready to assume center stage)?

Answer: there is nothing legitimate about such a system and we should NOT put up with it. There is a whole better way, codified in a qualitatively different constitution—the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, authored by Bob Avakian (BA) and adopted by the Central Committee of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA. There is a strategy to get there, very clearly laid out in HOW WE CAN WIN—How We Can Really Make Revolution. There is the larger framework of which that is all a part, in BA’s new book THE NEW COMMUNISM. And there is, right now, an urgency for everyone who grasps how dire the situation is to both resist the implantation and consolidation of this fascism, to seriously question how humanity got to this pass, and to dig into the viability of the whole other way charted out by Bob Avakian.

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/476/trumps-executive-order-attacking-refugees-en.html

Revolution #476 January 30, 2017

Trump's Executive Order Attacking Refugees

"Extreme Vetting"=Extreme Cruelty and Racism, with a Genocidal Logic

January 27, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Today Donald Trump signed an executive order that all-but-openly brands all Muslims as “terrorists” unless they can prove they are not, and then treats them as criminals who will be denied even the most basic acts of humanity, such as providing refuge to people seeking safety and sustenance for themselves and their children. And he launched a criminal attack on refugees from the non-Muslim world as well.

This order (signed on International Holocaust Remembrance Day) immediately evoked the shameful memory of how the U.S. refused to accept Jewish refugees fleeing the Nazi genocide during World War 2, turning ships away from its ports and sending thousands back to die in Hitler’s gas chambers.

In fact, U.S. immigration and refugee policies have always been quite racist and cold-blooded. In the case of Syria, the U.S. was taking a relatively tiny number of refugees even before Trump’s order. (The U.S. settled 10,000 Syrians last year; Canada, with one-ninth the population of the U.S., took 35,000.) And Obama carried out a policy of imprisoning whole families of refugees from Central America.

       

But Trump is going much further in slamming the door on desperate people, and in “modeling,” feeding on and whipping up a heartless spirit of narrow-minded selfishness and ugly American chauvinism—the outlook that it doesn’t matter how many other people suffer and die, all that matters is the safety and comfort of Americans. “From now on, America First,” he bellowed at his inauguration, and he is only beginning to show us the horrors that those words foretold.

Even more ominous is the genocidal demonization of all Muslims that this order embodies. “We don’t want them here,” Trump said today in defending the order. He pretended to be speaking of “Islamic terrorists,” but quite plainly he was referring to all Muslim people—and taking the first major leap to fulfilling his campaign threat to ban all Muslims from entry to the U.S.

The order references terrorist incidents in the U.S. apparently carried out by people who had emigrated from Muslim countries. Horrible though these incidents were, they are a minuscule part of the massive violence in the U.S., and the even vaster violence on a world scale. Roger Cohen, writing in the New York Times, cited a study showing that a person in the U.S. has a 1-in-3.64 billion chance of being killed in a terrorist attack committed by a refugee.

And of course, the order does not mention white-supremacist terrorist acts like Dylan Roof’s killing of nine Black people in a church, Christian fundamentalist terrorists who bomb abortion clinics and kill doctors, or the rising tide of violent hate attacks on Muslims (as well as Blacks, Latinos and Jews) by people who are “inspired” by Trump to go out and terrorize innocent people.

And still less does it mention the unholy terror that the U.S. has rained down on the Middle East for decades, killing millions of people, destroying the social and economic structure of several countries, and creating the situation in which millions of people from that region are forced to flee for their lives (and also the conditions in which a small minority of Muslim people get drawn into Islamic jihadism).

But this reality is no barrier to Trump whipping up racist fear and hatred of “Muslim terrorists.” And this racism has a logic and a direction. If all Muslims from the Middle East are “suspected terrorists,” then what about the Muslims already here? Doesn’t the logic of this order say that they too need to prove themselves innocent before they can be trusted? And then, what to do with them “until” they have passed whatever racist tests the fascists devise for them?

This order will immediately lead to more suffering and death for hundreds of thousands of refugees, and the logic behind it will lead to even more barbaric attacks on people in Muslim countries, and potentially to genocidal attacks on Muslims here. And it will in turn give strength and encouragement to similar fascist and anti-immigrant forces in Europe, including in governments, where millions of people who are seeking refuge are facing barbed wire and heavily policed borders, police sweeps on their settlement camps, and attacks from racist mobs.

Trump’s order and the toxic outlook and orientation it represents must be opposed with fearless determination by people of all faiths and nationalities, from now forward.

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/475/why-does-trump-continually-lie-about-the-elections-en.html

Revolution #476 January 30, 2017

Why Does Trump Continually Lie About the Elections And the Size of the Crowds At His Inauguration?

January 24, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

 

Trump seems to be fixated on proving that he had a larger turnout at his inauguration than Obama (he did not) and that he won the popular vote of the election (which in fact he lost by nearly 3 million votes). These are easily proven facts—the first by photo comparisons, statistics of subway ridership on the days of the inauguration, etc.—and the second by the insistence of the mainly Republican state governments that the illegal votes Trump claims were cast for Clinton simply were not. So why does he keep doing this?

The most common explanation is that he is sick—a pathological narcissist who cannot tolerate the idea that he is not the most beloved person ever to walk the earth.

Trump is a sociopath. Yet there is a method to this sort of madness. And that method is fascism.

The first and main thing to understand is that Trump is mainly focused on speaking to, and continually firming up, his hard core of true believers. He is reassuring them that they and—and really he—represent the “real Americans,” the vast majority, and that the “liberal elites” and the groups of people whom he continually demonizes and delegitimizes (immigrants, Muslims, Black people, etc) are lying to frustrate and prevent Trump and his followers from getting “their rightful due.” He is trying to make them impervious to the actual reality of things, to objective facts, and instead providing them “alternative facts,” in the words of his adviser Kellyanne Conway, through which they can sustain their faith. He is preparing them as a fighting force, if need be, to defend him.

The second purpose for this madness is to provide further rationalization to prevent Black and Latino people from voting, through laws whose one and only purpose is to deny the right to vote to Black and Latino people, such as voter ID laws and forbidding ex-felons from voting (which affects Black and Latino people disproportionately due to discrimination in all spheres of American life, especially but not only the criminal “justice” system).

Lindsey Graham, a Republican senator from South Carolina, has pleaded with Trump to not do this because it will delegitimize the electoral system. And that leads to the third reason. Trump announced in advance that if he lost, he would not recognize the results since his loss would prove that the elections were rigged. There is little doubt that he would have waged a no-holds-barred battle to get in power. Looking down the road, he does not intend to be deterred in his “mission” by the matter of elections; and he is even now preparing public opinion to invalidate any election that might not go his way, presuming that elections continue to be held.

Last point: people say we should not “normalize” Trump—and that is correct. But the main meaning of that must not be his narcissistic madness, but the fact that he is a FASCIST.

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/476/american-crime-case-68-1965-us-invasion-of-dominican-republic-en.html

Revolution #476 January 30, 2017

American Crime

Case #68: The 1965 U.S. Invasion of the Dominican Republic

January 28, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Bob Avakian recently wrote that one of three things that has "to happen in order for there to be real and lasting change for the better: People have to fully confront the actual history of this country and its role in the world up to today, and the terrible consequences of this." (See "3 Things that have to happen in order for there to be real and lasting change for the better.")

In that light, and in that spirit, "American Crime" is a regular feature of revcom.us. Each installment will focus on one of the 100 worst crimes committed by the U.S. rulers—out of countless bloody crimes they have carried out against people around the world, from the founding of the U.S. to the present day.

American Crime

See all the articles in this series.

 

THE CRIME

The April 24, 1965 rebellion in the dominican Republic was a mix of forces.
The April 24 rebellion was a complex mix of political forces. There were sections of the Dominican military, groupings of radical reformers, those influenced by the Cuban revolution of 1959, as well as real revolutionaries who looked to Mao and China, which was a revolutionary socialist country at that time. Thousands of previously unorganized and ordinary people poured into the streets in the midst of the upheaval.

On April 28, 1965, the U.S. sent thousands of troops to invade the Dominican Republic in order to brutally crush the mass armed rebellion that arose on April 24.
On April 28, 1965, the U.S. sent thousands of troops to invade the Dominican Republic in order to brutally crush the mass armed rebellion that arose on April 24.

A U.S. checkpoint and search of civilians in Santo Domingo during U.S. assault on the Dominican Republic, 1965.
During the assault, U.S. jets bombed bridges and other areas of the capital city of Santo Domingo, and U.S. troops conducted house-to-house raids and blew up entire buildings in residential neighborhoods. But even with such savagery and a huge military advantage, it still took the U.S. days to retake Santo Domingo and months to fully defeat the insurgency. Above, a U.S. checkpoint and search of civilians in Santo Domingo.

On April 28, 1965, the U.S. sent its Marines to invade the Dominican Republic in an assault they dubbed “Operation Power Pack.” Within 10 days, the U.S. landed over 22,000 troops made up of Marines and the elite counter insurgency 82nd Airborne unit, Special Forces, psychological operations units, and a fleet of 41 vessels to blockade the island. Ultimately, 40,000 U.S. troops took part in this military onslaught. The U.S. also cobbled together another 2,000 to 3,000 troops from their Latin American allies, which they dubbed the “Inter-American Peace Force.”

The objective of the 1965 U.S. invasion was to brutally crush the mass armed rebellion that arose on April 24, 1965 in the Dominican Republic. This rebellion grew out of a coup aimed at toppling the U.S.-backed dictator, Donald Reid Cabral, and to reinstate Juan Emilio Bosch, a liberal reformer elected in 1962. What began as a coup had quickly turned into an armed revolt of tens of thousands.

During the assault, U.S. F-4 Phantom jets bombed bridges and other areas of the capital city of Santo Domingo, and U.S. troops conducted house-to-house raids and blew up entire buildings in residential neighborhoods. But even with such savagery and a huge military advantage, it still took the U.S. days to retake Santo Domingo and months to fully defeat the insurgency. While the U.S. began to slowly withdraw some of its military in late May 1965, the last invading forces did not leave until September 1966 when a new pro-U.S. president, Joaquin Balaguer, was installed.

The full extent of death and destruction that befell the Dominican people was not recorded and is not fully known, even today. Most estimates are that 3,000 to 4000 were killed; some estimates say that as many as 6,000 to 10,000 Dominicans were killed during this invasion.

After the initial phase of the invasion, the U.S. military occupied the Dominican Republic for 14 more months, during which they carried out guided bombing missions and brutally broke up public demonstrations.

After U.S. troops withdrew, a wave of terror was unleashed by the new U.S.-backed regime. In the 1970s under Balaguer, it was estimated that, on average, someone was disappeared every 34 hours. And generations of Dominicans were forced to leave the island and seek refuge elsewhere, many ending up inside the belly of the beast in areas like Washington Heights in New York City.

1965 was not the first time the U.S. invaded the Dominican Republic—a country that they considered as part of their strategic interests in “their backyard” in all that is south of the U.S.-Mexico border. It was the fourth time. The first invasion was in 1916 with an occupation that lasted until 1924.

THE CRIMINALS

President Lyndon B. Johnson, who gave the orders for the U.S. military invasion, and orchestrated the Organization of American States (OAS) participation as part of rallying support for the murderous assault internationally and domestically.

U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic, W. Tapley Bennett, Jr., who called the uprising “collective madness” and for LBJ to send troops saying “I recommend...armed intervention to restore order beyond a mere protection of lives....”

The U.S. military, including numerous generals who personally directed the attack and committed war crimes in the murderous invasion and subsequent 14 months long occupation. Foremost among them was Bruce Palmer Jr. and Robert York, commanders of the 18th Airborne Corp and the 82nd Airborne Division, respectively. There were also the generals and forces from the OAS and the Dominican Republic’s own military and reactionaries who took part in the suppression of the people during and after the rebellion of April 24.

Joaquin Balaguer, who unleashed a wave of violence against the Dominican left, using death squads and driving thousands out of the country. He would funnel most of Dominican Republic’s minerals and sugar into the warehouses of U.S. businesses. Overall, he brought hell for the Dominican people’s living and working conditions (e.g., an unemployment rate of around 30 percent).

THE ALIBI

BAsics 5:7

President Lyndon B. Johnson made public statements, in White House press conferences with national and international press and media, announcing that the invasion was necessary “in order   to give protection to hundreds of American lives.” In June 1965, he said it was to stop a situation where “1,500 innocent people were murdered and shot, and their heads cut off, and six Latin American embassies were violated and fired upon over a period of 4 days before we went in.”

THE ACTUAL MOTIVE

Even as President Johnson was making pronouncements about saving (only American) lives, and ordering the evacuation of hundreds of U.S. citizens from the Dominican Republic, the actual U.S. motive was to preserve its imperialist stranglehold on the Dominican Republic.

 

       

The commander of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Earle Wheeler, wrote in his orders to Bruce Palmer about the dual purpose of the invasion: “Your announced mission is to save U.S. lives. Your unannounced mission is to prevent the Dominican Republic from going communist. The President has stated that he will not allow another Cuba—you are to take all necessary measures to accomplish this mission. You will be given sufficient forces to do the job.” President Johnson, speaking of the Dominican Republic, secretly told his National Security Adviser: “I sure don’t want to wake up... and find out Castro’s in charge.”

Washington considers the Dominican Republic, less than 1,000 miles from Florida, and 530 miles from Cuba, as part of “their backyard.” For the U.S., the Caribbean and Latin America have been pillars historically to its whole rise to a global dominant power economically, politically and militarily. This is why 1965 was not the first time the Marines stormed the shores of the Dominican Republic but the fourth. In 1916, the U.S. declared martial law, invaded and then occupied the Dominican Republic until 1924.

During the late 1950s and 1960s, a wave of national liberation struggles was sweeping across the world, most powerfully in Vietnam. By 1965, the U.S. was escalating its war there, and it feared this “contagion” could take root in the Dominican Republic as well.

Although Bosch’s promised reforms were modest, they were not in line with the needs of U.S. imperialism and the Dominican reactionary forces at that time. Just months after being elected, he was overthrown with CIA involvement. Many of the forces in the April 24 uprising supported Bosch’s program, which began as an attempted coup, but quickly turned into a mass revolt.

The April 24 rebellion was a complex mix of political forces. There were sections of the Dominican military, groupings of radical reformers, those influenced by the Cuban revolution of 1959, as well as real revolutionaries who looked to Mao and China, which was a revolutionary socialist country at that time. Thousands of previously unorganized and ordinary people poured into the streets in the midst of the upheaval. In this wild mix, who would win leadership and seize political power was not predetermined. It was an open question with different possibilities. None of this was tolerable to the U.S. imperialists, and they moved decisively to crush the uprising and re-establish control over their strategic imperialist interests.

Operation Power Pack served as a model for the U.S military to move rapidly and forcefully to defend U.S. imperialist interests in the western hemisphere, as in the U.S. invasion of Haiti in 1994.

Sources

A World to Win News Service, “The Dominican Republic, April 1965: A powerful popular revolt unexpectedly explodes in the Yankee ‘backyard’,” May 4, 2015

www.revcom.us,April 1965—The U.S. Invasion of the Dominican Republic and the Heroism of the Dominican People,”; April 27, 2015

Jacobinmag.com, “LBJ’s Other War,”by Rory Fanning; April 28, 2015

Wikipedia: “Dominican Republic,” “Dominican Civil War

www.history.com: “U.S. Troops Land in the Dominican Republic”; April 28, 1965

Junot Diaz: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao; Riverhead Books, 2007

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/476/lynching-an-all-american-sport-en.html

Revolution #476 January 30, 2017

Lynching—An All-American Sport

January 30, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

From a reader:

An effigy of a Mexican man has continually hanged from the second floor balcony of Main Street, at the center of its public square, in downtown Placerville (aka Hangtown), California—a city that is a favored tourist stop-over between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe. This is a reflection of California state history where at least 163 Mexicans were lynched between 1848 and 1860 alone.

The largest mass lynching in American history took place in the fall of 1871: between 17-20 Chinese (some reports say including children) were systematically tortured and lynched by a mob of 500 whites (which was more than 10 percent of the population of Los Angeles at the time), including members of the upper classes and law enforcement. This incident was covered up for over 140 years.

The history of the lynching of African Americans have barely been excavated and exposed in popular literature and mass consciousness in the recent decades in America, through books like Without Sanctuary (2000) and the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) landmark report on lynching (2015). But the bulk of this American crime is still hidden and buried along with  thousands and thousands of its victims in the South—the deep Southern states as well as states south of the Canadian border.

The EJI report “Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror” was able to document over 4,000 mob killings of Black people between 1877 and 1950 in just 12 Southern States. This is only a fraction of the actual numbers brutally murdered given that many, maybe even most, had gone unreported or covered up.

As viscerally spoken to by Bob Avakian in his talk Revolution: Why It’s Necessary, Why It’s Possible, and What It’s All About, in the chapter “postcards of the hanging,” these violent depraved actions were public events, often mass celebrations advertised ahead of time, tolerated and often encouraged if not assisted by federal, state and local officials and law enforcement. Most of the time, no one was convicted and jailed if they were even arrested and tried in court.

Historians Cleve Webb and William Carrigan’s 2015 book Forgotten Dead: Mob Violence Against Mexicans in the United States 1848-1928 documents for the first time this little known aspect of how much lynching has been embedded in the national culture of U.S. history to terrorize whole segments of its population.

It is relevant to the unfolding of Trump regime’s fascist program, whipping up of a lynch mob hysteria with his Nuremberg-like rallies and now executive orders. In a New York Times piece (2/20/2015) titled “When Americans Lynched Mexicans,” Webb and Carrigan observe that in those 60 years after the 1846 U.S. invasion of Mexico seized over 55 % of Mexico’s land, mobs had murdered untold thousands of Mexicans, even though they were only able to positively and fully document less than 600 due to lack of accurate and detailed historical accounts.

Some of the sickening incidents they documented in their New York Times article were:

» July 5, 1851, a mob of 2,000 in Downieville, Calif., watched the extralegal hanging of a [pregnant] Mexican woman...

» November 3, 1910, a mob snatched a 20-year-old Mexican...in Rock Springs, Texas... bound him to a mesquite tree, doused him with kerosene and burned him alive...thousands turned out to witness the event...

» January 28, 1918, a band of Texas Rangers and ranchers rounded up nearly two dozen [Mexican] men, searched their houses, and marched 15 of them to a rock bluff near the village and executed them.

The website California’s Forgotten Lynchings has an insightful observation that “[g]iven the local approval and enjoyment of the killing spectacle, lynching clearly was not just an issue of the American Southeast, but rather a deep-seated national trait....For context, the...Mexican-American War was waged [for] the ideal of Manifest Destiny, namely the belief that it was America’s God-given right to take over the entire continent...President James Polk...declared war, citing that ‘[Mexico] has invaded our territory and shed American blood upon American soil.’” They also note that “Mexicans with long-held land-grants were driven from their claims and portrayed as mongrels and bandits....”

Trump has the perfect smirk and swagger of the all-American lynch mobster.

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/476/protesters-go-up-against-christian-fascist-anti-abortion-march-and-trump-regime-en.html

Revolution #476 January 30, 2017

Protesters Go Up Against Christian Fascist Anti-Abortion March—and Trump Regime

January 27, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

In front of the U.S. Supreme Court, Washington, DC, January 27
In front of the U.S. Supreme Court, Washington, DC, January 27. Photo: Twitter/@NationalNOW

Video: NYC Revolution Club

Friday, January 27—Determined protesters went up in the face of thousands of reactionary anti-abortion fanatics who were doing their annual march in DC, and who were newly pumped up because of the ascension of the Trump-Pence regime to power. They call their event the “March for Life”—but it is really a March for Forced Motherhood and March for Extreme Patriarchy. Vice President Mike Pence addressed the crowd—the first time a high-level White House official spoke in person at this anti-abortion march (in previous years Republican presidents have spoken by video or audio). Against this Christian fascist mob, protesters from NOW, Stop Patriarchy, Refuse Fascism, Georgetown University, and others called for defense of safe and legal abortions and resistance against the assaults on the rights and the very lives of women.

 

Stop Patriarchy, Georgetown University students, and others in front of the Supreme Court, January 27
Stop Patriarchy, Georgetown University students, and others in front of the Supreme Court, January 27. Photo: Twitter/NYCRevolutionClub

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/476/trump-whitewashes-the-holocaust-en.html

Revolution #476 January 30, 2017

Trump Whitewashes the Holocaust—a Gauntlet Is Thrown Down for Humanity

January 27, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Donald Trump issued a statement on Holocaust Memorial Day, January 27, that had no mention of Jewish people—the people who were overwhelmingly the victims of the Holocaust. Nor did he acknowledge the Nazis’ systematic and complete annihilation of other demonized and persecuted people—Roma people, handicapped people, LGBT people, radicals, dissidents and communists. Instead, Trump made vague references to “victims, survivors, heroes” and “innocent people,” specifically avoiding noting who the victims were.

History is filled with examples where people fought against tremendous odds and were fictorious...
Click to enlarge

The Holocaust was one of the great crimes in human history. Under Adolf Hitler, the Nazis gassed to death, buried alive, killed in mob pogroms, starved, and tortured to death six million Jews and others. And while their Jewish neighbors, colleagues, and friends were rounded up for extermination, the German people and others overwhelmingly stood by in passive complicity.

The omission of any mention of Jews or the other victims of Nazis genocide was no “slip-up.” At a moment when the parallels between Trump and the rise of Hitler are coming into sharper and sharper focus, Trump’s “Holocaust Remembrance” statement was so vague and meaningless that it essentially constituted Holocaust denial. And on the very same day Trump issued this statement, he singled out one religious group—Muslims—from entering the United States, while demonizing them and targeting them for surveillance and vastly intensified persecution.

The lesson of the Holocaust is that “never again” should humanity stand by while any group of people is singled out for demonization and persecution leading up to genocide. And that such moves must be opposed from the beginning, before it is too late, regardless of who is singled out first.

Trump has thrown down a gauntlet for humanity. The lesson of the actual Holocaust must be learned from and acted on right now.

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/475/trump-signs-global-anti-abortion-order-en.html

Revolution #476 January 30, 2017

Trump Revives Global Anti-Abortion Order—and Makes It an Even More Deadly Weapon Against Women

Updated January 26, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

This article was originally posted on January 23, the day Trump signed the order on the global gag rule. Since then, more has come out about what Trump's order means, and we have updated the article.

One of the main facets of the Trump-Pence fascist program is a major ramping up of attacks on women, and in particular the right to abortion. On Monday, Trump took the first official step of the regime in this war on women by signing an executive order that restored an anti-abortion measure with global effect. Known as the “Mexico City policy” (because it was first implemented under Ronald Reagan at a 1984 UN conference in that city), the measure denies U.S. family planning funding and technical assistance to foreign NGOs—including clinics, private hospitals, and reproductive health and family planning organizations—that perform or “promote” abortions.

This policy is also known as the “global gag rule” because it prohibits the NGOs that receive U.S. funding from even discussing abortion as an option or referring women to an abortion provider. And the rule also bans those groups from advocating for greater access in general to abortion in those countries.

When the global gag rule first went into effect, there was already a ban on the use of U.S. foreign aid for abortions—and this ban continues. What the global gag rule does is to expand the anti-abortion dictates by imposing U.S. control over how the NGOs use their own funds raised from sources other than U.S. aid. It forced many public health and family planning organizations, especially in poor countries, that depend greatly on outside funding to make a choice: stop performing or even advocating for abortion, which is crucial for women’s health and their lives overall—or continue this vital service but lose significant amounts of funding that support other important medical services they provide.

But what is starting to become clear is that Trump is not just restoring the global gag rule that existed before, as bad as that was. Trump’s executive order actually pushes this forward in a qualitatively worse direction. In a January 25 online piece for The New Yorker, writer Margaret Talbot wrote:

Trump’s version is a radically expanded one, as reporters have begun to notice. In the past, foreign N.G.O.s had to accept the conditions set out by the Mexico City Policy in order to get funds from two stipulated sources: U.S.A.I.D. and, after 2003, the U.S. State Department. But Trump’s version extends the requirement to global aid furnished by all U.S. governmental departments and agencies. This is both sweeping and, in the Trumpian way, very confusing to the people trying to do their jobs in the federal government. It could potentially affect an enormous range of health activities that the United States government engages in around the world, including work combatting H.I.V. and many other infectious diseases, and promoting maternal and child nutrition. In 2003, when George W. Bush broadened the rule to cover State Department aid, he made a point of exempting global H.I.V./AIDS programs. But Trump’s version offers no exceptions. “The government agencies are still scrambling to figure out what this means,” Sneha Barot, a policy analyst with the Guttmacher Institute, told me. “There have been no official guidelines issued. But this is not the global gag rule we know. This is a whole new policy.”

Under President Reagan and again under the two Bushes, the global gag rule had real—often deadly—consequences for women. Groups like Population Action International (PAI) have documented how it led to more women in poor countries having unwanted pregnancies or dying from unsafe abortions. Worldwide, 68,000 women die each year from complications from trying to end pregnancies unsafely—using materials like turpentine or bleach, with blows to the stomach, or in unsterile procedures carried out by incompetent practitioners. The closing of health clinics or reduction in their services limited or closed off people’s access to contraceptives and to health care for wide range of problems from malaria to HIV/AIDS.

Obama struck down the Mexico City policy with an executive order at the beginning of his first term. Trump has now revived the global gag rule, and it will have devastating consequences for women around the world. In a statement on Trump’s executive order, PAI said:

Trump’s Global Gag Rule will not only severely restrict access to legal abortion, but will also have more insidious and damaging effect on women’s health overall. Health care providers will be forced to cut services, increase fees, and even close clinics altogether as a result of severe funding cuts. There are 225 million women in developing countries who want to avoid pregnancy but are not using modern contraception, but this policy will put birth control even farther from their reach...

“Trump’s Global Gag Rule will obstruct and destroy the work of health care providers who are often women’s main—and sometimes only—source for reproductive health care, and their entry point for receiving a wide range of primary health care services," said Suzanne Ehlers, President & CEO of PAI. “To be clear, this policy is an attack on women’s bodily autonomy and freedom, and we will see an increase in unintended pregnancies and unsafe abortions as a result.”

The Talbot piece from The New Yorker gives an example of how Trump’s global gag rule will affect women around the world:

I spoke with Banchi Dessalegn, who is the director of Marie Stopes International’s operations in Ethiopia. “Seventy per cent of the women we’re serving with our U.S. government dollars are women who have no education at all; they’ve never been to school,” she told me. These women live in remote rural areas, survive on subsistence farming, and give birth, on average, to six or seven children each. The funding that Dessalegn’s organization received from U.S.A.I.D. allowed her workers to travel to these villages—“six or seven hours each way, dusty roads, huts”—and call together meetings of men and of women in which they offered information about where to get and how to use contraception; the N.G.O. also provided tubal ligations and vasectomies for those who wanted them. Ethiopia has a high maternal death rate—four hundred and twenty women out of each hundred thousand die as a result of pregnancy-related complications like hemorrhages and sepsis—and the more children a woman already has, the more likely she is to die in childbirth. Dessalegn felt that she and her colleagues were doing a good deal to turn that around. “That is what we are so afraid will be compromised now,” she said.

* * * * *

While Trump is now bringing back a previous Republican anti-abortion policy that had been canceled by Democrats, this is not just a “swing of the pendulum.” As we have written about the events of the last couple of days, “the Trump-Pence regime made chillingly clear its determination to radically and quickly reorder the current form of political rule in the U.S. into fascism” (from “Lives in the Balance... Which Will Win? Trump’s First Days: The Heavy Hand of Fascism and the Spark of Resistance”) With the executive order on the Mexico City policy, Trump is firing the opening shot in a major component of this fascist reordering of political rule, the overturning of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion. It’s a rallying cry for the Christian fascists' fighting forces who want to see Roe v. Wade, in the words of Trump’s VP, Mike Pence, “consigned to the scrap heap of history.”

This is not about the health of women or to “protect life” or any other falsehoods used as justification by the anti-abortion fanatics. The real objective is to greatly intensify patriarchal control over women—to turn women into nothing more than incubators and sexual playthings for men—under the signboard of “make America great again.”

This is a horrible vision and program that the fascist regime is now moving quickly to forcibly implement—and it must be stopped by massive resistance of millions, acting in the interests of humanity.

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/472/come-together-truce-to-stop-the-trump-pence-regime-before-it-starts-en.html

Revolution #476 January 30, 2017

A CALL FROM CHICAGO

COME TOGETHER—TRUCE—TO STOP THE TRUMP-PENCE REGIME

Updated January 25, 2017, first published December 29, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

One Single Unifying Objective: Stop this Fascist Trump-Pence Regime Before It Starts

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.

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/476/protests-across-the-country-condemn-trumps-anti-muslim-ban-en.html

Revolution #476 January 30, 2017

Protests Across the Country
Condemn Trump's Anti-Muslim Ban

January 30, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

On Sunday, January 29, massive crowds rallied and marched in the streets of New York City and Boston and at airports from coast to coast, including Atlanta, Birmingham, Boise, Las Vegas, San Diego, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles, Phoenix, and Washington, D.C., as outrage grows following Trump's sudden, vicious attack on immigrants and refugees from Muslim countries.

Tens of thousands of protesters flooded Battery Park in downtown Manhattan, New York City, before marching north to Foley Square. (See "Thousands Rally and March in Lower Manhattan: "No Hate, No Fear, Refugees Are Welcome Here" on this page.) In Boston, 20,000 protesters jammed into Copley Square to protest President Trump's actions. In Washington, D.C., thousands rallied in Lafayette Square, across from the White House. Five hundred protesters converged on Chicago's O'Hare Airport. In Cleveland, hundreds marched in and around Hopkins International Airport. They gathered outside the airport's upper-deck departure area, then marched through the ticketing plaza, down to baggage claim, went outside and circled around again. Someone recounted the story of a Cleveland Clinic internal medicine resident doctor, a citizen of Sudan, who had been returning to work after visiting family overseas when she was detained in a room for 10 hours in New York—and then forced to board a plane back to Saudi Arabia.

In Los Angeles, thousands of protesters converged on the airport. Demonstrators filled the lobby of the international terminal and called for the release of those behind held. The protesters spilled into the street outside the terminal, chanting "Let them in!" The director of immigrant rights for the ACLU in California announced the filing of habeas petitions on behalf of seven people who were detained at the L.A. airport on Saturday. They reported that people being held were "advised" by federal officials to waive or drop their application for admission and just leave the country "voluntarily"—or else face deportation, which would make it very difficult for them to return to the U.S. One of the signs and chants heard and seen at L.A. and elsewhere: "No fence, no walls, you build it up, we'll tear it down."

Washington, DC, march against the ban.

Los Angeles International Airport, Los Angeles, CA

New York City, tens of thousands march.

Portland International Airport, OR, January 29

McCarran Airport Las Vegas

Birmingham, Alabama

Detroit Metropolitan Airport, MI—29 degrees

Thousands Rally, March in Lower Manhattan:
“No Hate, No Fear, Refugees Are Welcome Here"

From a reader:

#NoBanNoWall! On Sunday afternoon, tens of thousands packed New York City's Battery Park in Manhattan to angrily condemn Trump's ban on refugees and immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries. This was the day after 2,000 people protested at JFK airport. The spirit: a defiant "No Hate, No Fear, Refugees Are Welcome Here! Say It Loud, Say It Clear, Refugees Are Welcome Here!"

Organizers, including the New York Immigration Coalition, National Immigration Law Center, and New York Civil Liberties Union-NYCLU, called on people not to lose momentum but to continue to protest until Trump's "inhumane executive orders" were reversed and "human rights and dignity for refugees and immigrants" was ensured.

"Build a Wall, We'll Tear it Down"/"No Trump, No KKK, No Fascist USA"

A massive, mostly youthful and very multinational and passionate march to Foley Square followed the rally. A young Jewish woman and a young Jewish man (carrying a sign: "Never Again Means Never Again—No Ban, No Wall") both said one reason they were there was that what's happening now reminded them of how Jews fleeing Hitler were blocked from entering the U.S. before World War 2. The young woman's grandparents who were allowed entry survived; those who weren't died in the Holocaust.

A young Yemeni woman described the anguish her family felt at the possibility they would not be able to bring their grandfather to the U.S. to escape the war now raging in Yemen. A Palestinian said, "We have to fight, we have to fight—otherwise they'll kill one group off after another, one religion after another." What brought one gay couple out? "My outrage at the singularly morally repugnant actions by our president," and the fear gay people would be targeted. Which of Trump's actions most outraged them? They (like others) had trouble naming one or two, and ended up with "all of them!" Two young women were chanting, "Build a Fence Around Mike Pence!" and said, "Mike Pence may be an even bigger threat to American women than Donald Trump; he threatens the most vulnerable women here and around the world."

San Francisco. The crowd at San Francisco International Airport swelled to 1,000. Protesters spilled onto the road that circled the international terminal, briefly blocking access for cars attempting to get to the terminal. Credit RefuseFascism.org

Houston. News reports said between 3,000 and 4,000 people at the Discovery Green (downtown), most of whom then went to the international terminal at Bush Airport. Photo: Special to revcom.us

Eugene, Oregon. Thousands rally downtown. Photo: Special to revcom.us

Washington, DC. Thousands gather at the White House to protest the ban on immigrants. Credit @CollinRees

Seattle. About 3,000 protesters gathered at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport January 28 and continued protesting through early Sunday morning, the AP reports. Photo: AP

Thousands rally in Boston's Copley Square. Credit @NicholsUprising

Atlanta. Thousands of demonstrators streamed through Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Photo: Special to revcom.us

 

 

       

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/475/immigrants-detained-immediately-after-trumps-anti-muslim-order-and-hundreds-protest-at-jfk-airport-en.html

Revolution #476 January 30, 2017

Immigrants Detained Immediately After Trump's Anti-Muslim Order—Thousands Protest at JFK and Airports Across the Country

January 28, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

January 28, 2017:

JFK Airport, NYC

 

JFK Airport, NYC

 

O'Hare Airport, Chicago

 

JFK Airport, NYC

 

Denver International Airport, CO

 

Washington Dulles Airport, Virginia

 

Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, Dallas, TX

 

Seattle–Tacoma Airport, Seattle, WA

When Trump signed an executive order on Friday targeting Muslim immigrants and refugees (see "'Extreme Vetting'=Extreme Cruelty and Racism, with a Genocidal Logic"), there were immigrants already in the air on the way to the U.S. or waiting to board planes at overseas airports. The order immediately shut the door on them, and some were taken into detention.

Hundreds of people quickly gathered at JFK Airport to demand the release of refugees who had begun their trip to the U.S. before Trump signed his order, and were then detained when they landed. The protest grew to more than 2,000 by late afternoon and early evening (see "From the JFK Protest: Thousands Block Airport Street: 'No deportations. No Muslim registry. No fascist USA!'"). This is very good—and something everyone should learn from: the Trump-Pence regime's fascist actions must not become normalized but must be resisted immediately. The JFK action denounced the detentions and the Trump ban on Muslim immigrants and refugees, and called for welcoming refugees and immigrants. Michael Moore tweeted out a call for people to come to join the JFK protest. One of the chants raised by the protesters is "Hey, hey, JFK—No Fascist USA!"

People mobilized to protest at airports in other cities across the U.S., including Chicago, San Francisco, Washington, DC, Boston, Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, Newark, and Denver

The ACLU and the Council on American-Islamic Relations are filing lawsuits challenging Trump's order. Omar Jadwat, director of ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project, said, "President Trump's war on equality is already taking a terrible human toll. This ban cannot be allowed to continue." Saturday night, a judge in Brooklyn, New York, issued a stay on a part of Trump's executive order—ruling that the affected refugees and immigrants who arrived yesterday in the U.S. should not be sent back. This is estimated to affect 200 people across the U.S. And the order also said immigrants and refugees with approved documents who were about to come to the U.S. should also not be sent back to their countries of origin. But it is not clear at all as of Saturday night what will happen to these people, and it is possible the 200 or so in the U.S. airports may be sent to detention centers.

Trump's order puts a freeze on all refugees from entering the U.S. and an indefinite ban on refugees from Syria. It also put into effect a ban on any immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries entering the U.S. The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee said they received more than 1,000 calls by noon on Saturday from people who had been stranded or detained at U.S. and overseas airports as a result of Trump's order.

Among the 11 people detained at the JFK Airport in New York City were two Iraqi refugees. One had worked as an interpreter for the U.S. in Iraq was detained for 19 hours before being released. With tears in his eyes as he spoke to reporters, he put his hands behind his back to show how he had been handcuffed by border agents. Another man was still in custody as of Saturday afternoon; when his lawyer asked a border agent "Who is the person we need to talk to?", the agent said, "Call Mr. Trump."

According to USA Today, "Abed Ayoud, legal and policy director for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, said legal immigrants who were traveling overseas to attend funerals and visit family when Trump signed his order are now unable to return to the U.S. Foreigners studying at U.S. universities who were part of study abroad programs are also stuck."

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported on a Syrian family—two parents and four kids aged 6 to 15—who were due to finally leave the Turkish refugee camp they are in early next week and arrive to re-settle in Cleveland. Their plans are now scrapped—like many others from Syria and other countries who are trying to flee desperate and dangerous conditions. Danielle Drake, an official with the refugee resettlement organization in Cleveland, noted to the Plain Dealer that this was taking place on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, and said, "That this can happen on this day is disturbing on so many levels. All those times that people said 'never again,' well we're doing it again. We're turning people away again (referring to U.S. turning away of Jewish refugees before World War 2). Have we not learned from the past?"

What happened on the very first day under Trump's order for "extreme vetting" of Muslim refugees and immigrants is an outrage. And it indicates a very ominous logic and direction, including very possibly registry, round-ups and other genocidal attacks on Muslim people here in the U.S.

 

 

 

       

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/476/jfk-protest-thousands-block-airport-street-en.html

Revolution #476 January 30, 2017

From the JFK Protest

Thousands Block Airport Street: "No deportations. No Muslim registry. No fascist USA!"

January 28, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

We received this report direct from the January 28 protest of thousands at JFK Airport in New York City.

Protest at JFK airport, January 28

Protesting Muslim ban at JFK Airport, January 28
JFK Airport, January 28. (Credits: top: AP; bottom: revcom.us)

Several thousand people were here at one point at John F. Kennedy Airport. When we first arrived here around 6 pm, there were people who had been here all day. For the last hour or two, people have been blocking the road outside Terminal 4, shutting down the traffic, and demanding that the people who had been detained be released. People were chanting “No deportations. No Muslim registry. No fascist USA!” This is what the people who were leading the protest were chanting. They were also chanting at different times “No Trump, No KKK, No fascist USA!," "No ban, no registry, fuck white supremacy!” “Refugees are welcome here—let them in, let them in!” “Fuck Donald Trump”—that was very popular. There’s still (around 9:30 pm) hundreds of people in the streets, blocking traffic. There were a lot of people holding the “NO!” sign from Refuse Fascism.

There is a whole determined atmosphere here among the people of: This has to stop! We’re not going to allow this. There were a lot of people calling Trump a fascist. There was an extended Egyptian family out here, agitating about doing here what the Egyptian people did in Tahrir Square (during Arab Spring in 2011,when they drove out the U.S.-backed ruler, Mubarak). This was a very young crowd. Obviously, there were a lot of people from the Middle East, but this was a very diverse crowd. White, Latino, Black—but among people generally, again, a real feeling that we cannot let what Trump is trying to do happen. There were people saying that they follow RefuseFascism.org.

An Egyptian-American woman at the protest told Revolution/revcom.us, “I’m an American citizen, here at JFK, I’m at Terminal 4. I came here today with my family to defend the rights of fellow Americans that have been banned from coming back home, or poor refugees that have been forced out of their homes by tyrants and dictators in their own countries, and have been seeking refuge at our home. And we’re turning them away. We said it before, ‘Never again,’ and we say it again, ‘Never again.’ We cannot let such a travesty take place and be quiet about it. We cannot. We have to keep up the fight, we have to let them know that this is not right. This is not about Republicans and Democrats. This is about morals, about principle. This is about what’s right and what’s wrong. And this is absolutely wrong! Not acceptable. And we are not going to stand for it.”

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/476/acting-attorney-general-fired-for-refusing-to-uphold-trumps-muslim-ban-en.html

Revolution #476 January 30, 2017

Acting Attorney General Fired for Refusing to Uphold Trump's Muslim Ban

Rule of Law? TRUMP'd by America Über Alles

January 30, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Trump’s ban on Muslims from seven countries entering the U.S. targeted people whose lives have been intrusively investigated for years. And people with legal visas and green cards (permanent residency status). It was met with a massive and inspiring outpouring of protest across the U.S. And it was immediately challenged in court by several lawsuits, based on the fact that it is unconstitutional.

Earlier on Monday, Acting Attorney General Sally Yates instructed the Department of Justice to not defend the ban. She said, in part: “My responsibility is to ensure that the position of the Department of Justice is not only legally defensible, but is informed by our best view of what the law is after consideration of all the facts.” And, "At present, I am not convinced that the defense of the Executive Order is consistent with these responsibilities, nor am I convinced that the Executive Order is lawful."

Within hours, Trump fired Yates. The White House issued a statement claiming this was because she “betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order....” Then, after that perfunctory claim that Trump’s Muslim ban is “legal,” the next part of the White House statement declared the ban should be enforced because it was “designed to protect the citizens of the United States." As if any assertion by these xenophobic fascists that “American lives are in danger” justifies anything (see “Who poses the greatest threat to humanity in this world?” at right). And the White House statement lashed out at Yates as “an Obama Administration appointee who is weak on borders and very weak on illegal immigration."

Trump’s ban on people entering the U.S. is such a thinly disguised ban on Muslims that it doesn’t even qualify as a disguised attack on people of one religion. Rudy Giuliani said publicly that Trump asked him to come up with a “Muslim ban” but to do it “legally.” Trump himself told Christian Broadcast News that the ban was intended to give priority to “Christians” seeking asylum. And in case anyone didn’t get the point, Christians from the seven predominantly Muslim countries on the list are specifically given preference–not by name, but by obvious distinction as a “minority religion.”

In the fascist logic of the Trump regime, laws or constitutional rights that stand in the way of America Über Alles are overruled by his fascist agenda. Trump’s Muslim ban poured fuel on explosive, violent, ignorant fear and hatred of Muslims. And it clearly violates the supposed guarantees in the U.S. Constitution against targeting people for their religion, and imposing a state religion.

Trump’s firing of an Acting Attorney General who noted that fact was in blatant contempt for rule of law. And it foreshadows the same kinds of things happening in all kinds of realms as, or if, the Trump regime continues to rule.

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/476/forceful-response-from-academia-to-trump-attack-on-muslim-immgrants-en.html

Revolution #476 January 30, 2017

"Forceful" Response from Academia to Trump's Attack on Muslim Immigrants

January 31, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

“The Trump administration’s entry ban triggered wide condemnation from colleges, associations, faculty groups and others in higher education,” described in an article by Paul Fain, writing at Inside Higher Ed on Monday, January 30th. Fain pointed out that, “The speed and volume of the response by the large number of colleges and academic groups—some without a tradition of quickly weighing in on political developments—was highly unusual.”

The university and academic associations whose presidents have issued statements include: the American Anthropological Association; the American Association of State Colleges and Universities; the Association of American Universities; the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities; and the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities. Also issuing statements were the presidents of Harvard University; Bard College; Cornell University; Ohio State University; Purdue; Notre Dame; Portland State; Kansas; the Chancellors of the University of California; the University of Virginia; and more.

Adam Falk, president of Williams College, wrote: “This is a distressing time, but Williams prepares us for moments when moral courage is required. We can—and must—show the world we’re capable of something greater and nobler than fear.” Read their statements here.

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/476/hot-topic-discussion-fascist-trump-and-war-on-immigrants-en.html

Revolution #476 January 30, 2017

Hot Topic Discussion with Raymond Lotta

The Fascist Trump and the War on Immigrants

Wednesday, February 1, 7:00 pm
Revolution Books, New York City
437 Malcolm X Blvd @ 132nd

January 31, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

What you gonna do?

On Friday, January 27, President Trump issued an executive order that all but openly brands Muslims as terrorists, unless they can prove they are not. It treats desperate people fleeing all kinds of horrors as criminals—and denies them the most basic humane acts, such as providing safety and sustenance for them and their children. Trump launched a criminal attack on refugees from the non-Muslim world as well.

In response, thousands of people over the weekend righteously disrupted business as usual at airports across the country: welcoming immigrants and demanding the lifting of Trump’s ban.

» What is behind the largest refugee crisis in history... and what does U.S. imperialism have to do with it?

» What are the big lies and “alternative facts” that Trump is spreading? And why is he targeting, and vilifying people who are in fact victims?

» How would a humane, emancipatory society deal with refugees?

Raymond Lotta is a political economist. He writes for Revolution/revcom.us, and is a spokesperson for The Bob Avakian Institute. His books include America in Decline and the e-book You Don’t Know What You Think You “Know" About... The Communist Revolution and the Real Path to Emancipation.

JOIN THE HOT TOPIC DISCUSSION WITH RAYMOND LOTTA on Facebook
Revolution Books
Revolution Books, New York City
12 noon till 9 pm daily, except Monday
437 Malcolm X Blvd @ 132nd, Take #2/3 to 135th Stop
Call 212-691-3345

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/476/fascism-on-the-march-sharpening-crisis-and-the-urgency-to-act-en.html

Revolution #476 January 30, 2017

Fascism on the March, Sharpening Crisis, and the Urgency to Act

by Sunsara Taylor

January 31, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

On January 27, Donald Trump issued a vicious ban on immigrants from seven majority Muslim countries and a ban on all refugees. With the stroke of a pen, the lives of thousands were destroyed and shockwaves of terror and fear were sent into entire countries and communities. By that evening, thousands amassed at airports in protest—chanting, forming emergency legal clinics, blocking traffic and completely upending business as usual. These protests have continued in different forms for days, clogging major cities and towns all across the country and in other parts of the world.

Yet, the Trump-Pence regime barreled ahead.

This Muslim travel ban from Trump is not only cruel, immoral and illegal—it is FASCIST. In its content and in how it is being carried out, the Trump-Pence fascist regime has not only escalated its extreme xenophobia and nationalism, demonizing and unleashing terror against those it deems as "enemies," "undesirables," or "dangers to society." It has also gone further in shredding what have up till now been the supposed civil and legal rights of the people and the "checks and balances" which have long been considered foundational to U.S. society.

Meanwhile, Kellyanne Conway escalated the regime's assault on the media and the truth by demanding that journalists who had "talked smack" about Trump be fired. Christian fascist and white supremacist ideologue Steve Bannon was added as a core member of the National Security Council. All on top of a dizzying week in which Trump green-lighted environmentally devastating pipelines, moved ahead with his vicious border wall, lied about basic facts, and then threatened people who challenged his LIES, muzzled government agencies, assaulted science itself, escalated the war on women and abortion rights worldwide, and pushed forward with his cabinet of Christian fascists and war criminals, and more.

This regime is fascist. It is illegitimate. It must be driven from power.

One of the great strengths of the outpourings against Trump's Muslim ban—in addition to the immediacy of people's actions and the depth of their anger and determination—was the degree to which they linked this assault to the other elements of the Trump-Pence program. Pink pussy hats from the Women's Marches dotted every outpouring. Hundreds grabbed up signs from RefuseFascism.org, "No! In the Name of Humanity—We REFUSE to Accept a Fascist America." Many invoked the lessons of Nazi Germany, including homemade signs that read, "First they came for the Muslims, and we said Not This Time Motherfuckers!" Even the hashtag that took off, #NoBanNoWall, linked the ban on Muslims to the vicious assault on Mexicans and other Latinos.

All this must be built upon—but it also must go further. Resisting every attack by Trump-Pence is essential, but it alone will not be sufficient. The regime as a whole must be driven from power. This is what we must set our sights on.

Unless and until we succeed in this, the Trump-Pence fascist regime will continue to barrel ahead with its fascist agenda, to trample the objections of the masses of people, to cut down any within the ruling structures who oppose them, to shred even the limited previously existing "checks and balances," and to hammer into place a radically new world order and fascist form of governance in this country.

It is clear that there are people—millions and tens of millions—who can potentially be mobilized to fight against it and who must be led to step outside the confines of politics-as-usual (including protest-as-usual) to actually OUST this horrendous monstrosity.

This, and only this, is what can avert the brewing catastrophe for the planet and its people.

 

Sunsara Taylor is a writer for revcom.us and a co-initiator of RefuseFascism.org. Follow her on Twitter: @SunsaraTaylor

#NoFascistUSA • 917-407-1286
info@refusefascism.org
@refusefascismFacebook.com/refusefascism
RefuseFascism.org

 

 

       

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/476/lawyers-fight-muslim-ban-en.html

Revolution #476 January 30, 2017

Lawyers Mobilize to Fight the Muslim Ban

January 31, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

JFK airport, January 29
Protest at JFK airport. Photo: Revolution/revcom.us

Volunteer lawyers, translators and others camped out in a diner at John F. Kennedy Airport, trying to find and free people detained under the fascist ban, January 29.
Volunteer lawyers, translators and others camped out in a diner at John F. Kennedy Airport, trying to find and free people detained under the fascist ban, January 29. (AP photo)

With a stroke of Trump’s pen, an executive order upended the lives of 1,000s of people who were born in the predominantly Muslim countries Trump put on his banned list. The door slammed shut with no notice. Passengers in mid-flight when the order was signed were “detained.” Instead of being greeted by loved ones, they were in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) service under the direction of the Department of Homeland Security. Permanent residents of the U.S. (green card holders) were among those barred from entry, as were refugee families who had been screened for years and finally admitted to the U.S., valid visa holders... even a five-year-old separated from his parents, a stage 4 breast cancer patient—all were being barred from entering the U.S.

All across the country (including in red states like Kentucky, Indiana, Arkansas) people swarmed to the airports and public squares by the hundreds and thousands to demand they be let into the country and to protest Trump’s barely disguised Muslim ban. (See "Fascism on the March, Sharpening Crisis, and the Urgency to Act" by Sunsara Taylor.) It was very important that people did not wait to see how the legal fight in the courts would turn out, but immediately jumped into the fray.

At the same time, it was also very significant that lawyers mobilized to fight this Muslim ban. Immigration attorneys by the hundreds answered appeals from humanitarian groups, dropped everything and headed to the many U.S. airports where international flights land to help the people being detained. Together with and buoyed by the thousands of protesters, these attorneys fought to identify the people being detained, prevent their deportation, and secure their release. Pictures of their makeshift offices showed lawyers sitting on the floor of the airport terminal or camped out in an airport food court surrounded by cases of water and food donated by other volunteers to help keep them going, often through the night.

These lawyers worked with family members, sought out translators, and demanded that the rights of those being detained be respected. In one case, lawyers forced a plane to go back to the gate so that a woman who was being unlawfully deported to Syria could enter the U.S. Meantime, other lawyers and legal organizations, including very importantly the ACLU, worked feverishly to prepare the legal arguments that they took into federal courts around the country. They won court orders partially blocking the government’s expulsion of those who were on flights to the U.S. when the ban was ordered by Trump. In New York on Saturday, federal judge Ann M. Donnelly held that the petitioners had a “strong likelihood of success” in establishing that their removal “violates their rights to Due Process and Equal Protection guaranteed by the United States Constitution.” The judge blocked part of Trump’s order banning their entry into the U.S. in light of the immediate danger and irreparable damage if they were deported. Federal judges in Virginia and Massachusetts and other federal jurisdictions issued similar orders.

 

       

As important as these rulings are, they only block the removal of people already in the U.S. who were (or are) being detained at U.S. airports from the seven banned countries. The orders do not say that people being detained must be released, only that they can not be removed from the U.S. The orders do not overturn the executive order. Estimates are that up to 20,000 people who have been going through the difficult process of coming to the U.S. legally are now having their lives and plans torn up by the ban. This is the focus of another lawsuit being prepared by the ACLU. As a sign of opposition to the Muslim ban, the ACLU received more than $20 million in donations in just a few days.

CBP reportedly continued in some cases to carry out Trump’s executive order, even after the court orders blocking parts of the executive order (Muslim ban) were issued. Lawyers are quoted in the press from different parts of the country saying that they were denied knowledge of who was being detained and forcibly deported or denied access to their clients. Congresspeople seeking the same information were also turned away by CBP.

Some of the horror stories are only now starting to come to light.

The Guardian newspaper reported on a lawsuit filed on behalf of two Yemeni brothers, 19 and 20 years old, who were on their way to reunite with their father, a U.S. citizen, when they landed at Dulles Airport in Washington, DC. They were coerced into giving up their green cards with the threat that if they did not do so voluntarily, they would be barred from coming to the U.S. for another five years. They were denied access to lawyers, forced to buy their own return tickets, and shipped out of the country immediately.

There has to be a  major political and legal fight to end the ban, stop the wall, and most of all to oust the fascist regime that is on the march, trampling on people’s lives.

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/476/now-is-a-crucial-time-en.html

Revolution #476 January 30, 2017

Now is a crucial time...

January 31, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

 

To revcom.us readers: Now is a crucial time to join in the protests and other events where masses of people all over are acting against the fascist outrages by the Trump-Pence regime—especially get out to the campuses! Take with you palm cards with the slogan "NO! In the Name of Humanity, We Refuse to Accept a Fascist America" and with the quotes from Bob Avakian (BA) on truth and the approach to understanding reality (epistemology). Get the PDF/jpg for the cards here. Find creative ways to get these cards out all over and into the hands of many, many people. Write to us with reports (and photos/videos) about what you did; questions and controversies that are coming up; ideas for other places to go to and people to talk to. Email to: revolution.reports@yahoo.com

8.5x11 flier
Download PDF HERE
Download JPEG HERE

5.5x8.5 flier (two on 8.5x11 sheet)
Download PDF HERE
Download JPEG HERE

A System Much Better Than One That Produces a Trump Is Possible
There Is a Viable Vision and Framework for a Far Better World and the Leadership in Bob Avakian to Get There

Print these double-sided palmcards using the COMMON BACK (shown below with information about BAsics) and each of the palmcards with quotes as the fronts.

COMMON BACK for BAsics palmcards:

Download PDF HERE
Download JPEG HERE

 

 

       

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/476/trump-picks-scalia-clone-for-supreme-court-en.html

Revolution #476 January 30, 2017

Trump Picks "Scalia Clone" to Replace Scalia on the Supreme Court

January 31, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

When the ghoulishly reactionary U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died last year, Obama’s choice to replace him was the conservative, “bipartisan” Merrick Garland. Powerful sections of the ruling class treated Garland as absolutely unacceptable. Republicans stonewalled his nomination and gambled on getting the chance to put someone on the Court who would continue to advance their vision of a reactionary, Christian fascist America. On Tuesday, their wish came true. Donald Trump announced Antonin Scalia’s replacement: Scalia’s “clone”—Neil Gorsuch, a federal judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit.

As we wrote when Scalia died:

Until his death, Antonin Scalia was a “vicious operative for the capitalist-imperialist class who sat on their Supreme Court...” He “made his bones” by viciously opposing affirmative action and voting rights for Black and other minority people; the rights of women to abortion; the rights of gay and lesbian people to marry and raise children, and to generally live their lives free from government persecution; and the basic legal rights of defendants in criminal cases. He consistently fought for capital punishment, on and off the bench....

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/476/thomas-homan-trumps-new-head-of-immigration-dept-en.html

Revolution #476 January 30, 2017

Thomas Homan, a Pig's Pig, Is Trump's New Head of Immigration Department

Fascist Regime Gears Up for Mass Sweeps and Deportations

January 31, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

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.

Not an immigration problem, a capitalism problem
Tweet this

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 New York Times says the agency has been criticized for “an inability to discipline officers and for policies concerning the use of force.” To state it plainly, they are notorious for brutality, corruption, sexual abuse and murder—at least 33 people were killed by Border Patrol or ICE agents between January 2010 and October 2015, including a 12-year-old boy playing on the Mexican side of the border who the Border Patrol accused of throwing rocks.

The decision to give these thugs veto power over who is made their boss reflects the intent of Trump-Pence to have these pigs go hog wild on the immigrant masses. Getting rid of Morgan was like throwing a piece of raw meat to a junkyard dog to keep it loyal, happy and vicious.

This was the backdrop to Monday’s decision to replace Daniel Ragsdale, the acting director of ICE, with Thomas Homan.

Homan is a pig’s pig. A former New York cop, he spent almost 30 years in immigration enforcement, starting as a Border Patrol agent and moving up into administration. “I’m a cop in a cop’s job, and cops work for me,” Homan said in a 2015 interview with the Times. And Homan stressed his role as an enforcer, saying that once he gets an order to deport someone, “their due process is over”!

In 2009 Homan was made head of the newly formed ICE Enforcement and Removal Operation (ERO)—the part of ICE that actually rounds up and deports people. In that capacity he made “advances” in drawing local and state police into targeting people for deportation. In 2014, tens of thousands of mothers with small children, as well as unaccompanied minors, fleeing epidemic violence in Central America, surged across the Mexican border. Homan had major responsibility for rounding them up and detaining whole families in brutal make-shift detention centers. (See revcom.us article “Children Make Desperate 2,000 Mile Journey Seeking Safety: Now They Face a New Terror, Homeland ‘Security’ Police“] In 2015 (under Obama) Homan was given the 2015 Presidential Rank Award—the highest civil service award in the U.S.—for his “extraordinary” work in this crime against humanity.

To put it in a nutshell, Homan is, on the one hand a veteran pig with very close ties to the rank-and-file pigs that are to be the shock troops of mass deportations, and on the other hand, he has demonstrated both the organizational ability and the utter heartlessness, to be able to round up and detain tens of thousands of mothers and children in inhuman camps, to await being shipped back to the hellish conditions from which they had escaped at the risk of their lives.

All of these changes—radically new rules, massively more pigs, and new leadership capable of and committed to leading large scale fascist operations—are a clear signal that major assaults on immigrants in the U.S. are coming soon. This poses major challenges to the resistance which has sprung to life in recent days, and to all justice-loving people: to defend the people and places that are under attack, and do it in a way that further exposes the barbarity of this regime, spreads the spirit of resistance and revolt, brings more people into the organized forces taking this on, and does so as part of the fight to drive this fascist regime from power.

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/476/black-history-month-at-revolution-books-en.html

Revolution #476 January 30, 2017

Updated February 9, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

BLACK HISTORY MONTH at Revolution Books

In the Age of Trump-Pence Fascism:
Black History... The Fight for Emancipation... and the Future

 

Carl DixSunday, February 12, 4pm + Tuesday, February 21, 7pm

Carl Dix on Bob Avakian's "The Oppression of Black People & the Revolutionary Struggle to End All Oppression"

[Part 1 was rescheduled from Thursday, February 9 due to weather]

~~~~~~~~~~

 

Yusef SalaamMonday, February 13, 7:00pm

Yusef Salaam of the Central Park 5

In Conversation with Andy Zee and Carl Dix: How the Trump Regime Will Be "Giuliani Time" on Steroids, And What This Will Mean for Humanity

~~~~~~~~~~

Ngugi wa Thiong'oFriday, February 24, 7pm

An Evening with Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o

World-renowned Kenyan novelist, post-colonial theorist and prisoner of conscience

+ Kenyan writers Peter Kimani + Mũkoma wa Ngũgĩ

~~~~~~~~~~

Friday, February 17, 7:00pm 

Daina Ramey Berry

author of new book 
The Price for Their Pound of Flesh: 

The Value of the Enslaved, from Womb to Grave, in the Building of a Nation 

~~~~~~~~~~

Friday, February 10, 7:00pm
"Future People" Open Mic Night sponsored by the Revolution Club of NYC

Saturdays, February 11, 18, 25--11am to 12:30pm
Children's Events for Black History Month

Begins Saturday, February 11: An Interactive Introduction to Langston Hughes, recommended ages 7-12 (all ages welcome)

Saturday, February 18, 7pm
Film Showing and Discussion: Fred Hampton and Attica Rebellion episodes from documentary Eyes on the Prize

Sunday, February 26, 5:00pm
Special Poetry Reading Charles Kraal Kayo + Brad Walrond

Plus more coming...

Revolution Books / 437 Malcolm X Blvd @ 132nd, #2/3 to 135th
212-691-3345 www.revolutionbooksnyc.org

* Revolution Books Educational Fund Inc., a not-for-profit organization authorized by the IRS to receive tax-deductible contributions, funds programming and events at Revolution Books.

Humanity needs revolution. The revolution needs Revolution Books

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/476/lying-despicable-white-supremacist-enforcer-of-empire-en.html

Revolution #476 January 30, 2017

Steve Bannon Is a Lying, Despicable, White-Supremacist Enforcer of Empire... V.I. Lenin Sought the Truth of Society and the World, and Fought For the Emancipation of Humanity

by Raymond Lotta | February 1, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

The Internet is buzzing with a statement attributed to Steve Bannon, the neo-Nazi chief strategist and advisor to Trump. In an interview Bannon allegedly said, "I'm a Leninist... Lenin wanted to destroy the state, and that's my goal too... to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today's establishment." Whether Bannon did say this... the fact is, no two human beings could be further apart in their thinking and actions than the fascist Steve Bannon and the revolutionary leader and theorist V.I. Lenin.

Steve Bannon and V.I. Lenin are polar opposites.

 

 

       

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/476/chicago-police-dept-lying-murdering-pigs-train-more-en.html

Revolution #476 January 30, 2017

Chicago Police Department:
Two Lying, Murdering Chicago Pigs in Line to Train More Lying, Murdering Pigs

February 1, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Recently there was a revelation in the Chicago Tribune that two police officers, who murdered Black citizens in separate incidents and then lied under oath to justify the murders, have been selected to train other police officers.

One of the newly promoted, soon-to-be-trainers is Raoul Mosqueda, who along with his partner Gildardo Sierra shot Darius Pinex to death in January 2011 during a “traffic stop.”  The other is Michael St. Clair II who shot William Hope, Jr. to death in July 2010.

Police murder--on video--over and over
Tweet this

In separate court suits brought by the Pinex and Hope families, both St. Clair and Mosqueda each gave sworn testimony that was contradicted by tapes from the time of the murders. 

The revelation of these two lying murdering pigs being promoted in this way followed on the heels of a damning Justice Department report which detailed the CPD’s history of trampling on the civil and human rights of its Black and Latino residents. The injustice and racism of law enforcement in Chicago is legion, and it is a concentration of what police do in cities across the U.S.

A press conference and protest was held at the Chicago district police station where Mosqueda works.  It was attended by Gloria Pinex, mother of Darius Pinex, the Pinex family attorney in the civil suit, the Revolution Club, and family members and representatives of other people murdered by the police.

At the press conference Gloria stated, “[Mosqueda] lied on the witness stand.  He got caught in a lie.  And now he is facing a promotion—which I think is truly absurd.  And I’m here demanding that he get fired  [and] face criminal charges.  The St. Clair guy—he killed a man in a parking lot of Popeye’s.  He should be fired as well.  There’s no way these officers should be training officers.  You gonna train them to be liars?  You gonna train them to be murderers?... And I’m not giving up with every breath in my body... He will not be a police officer for long.”  She went on to say, “The city signed a check. That means nothing to me.  No justice, no peace!”

Steve Greenberg, the Pinex family attorney, said, “Promoting an officer just days after you pay millions of dollars to pay off the case of the officer who killed someone and lied about it sends the wrong message.... The policy now in this police department apparently is to promote officers for killing and for lying in court.... Maybe if they started punishing the bad officers then people would get the message they shouldn’t do these things.”

The Revolution Club read BAsics 1:24:

“The role of the police is not to serve and protect the people. It is to serve and protect the system that rules over the people. To enforce the relations of exploitation and oppression, the conditions of poverty, misery and degradation into which the system has cast people and is determined to keep people in. The law and order the police are about, with all of their brutality and murder, is the law and the order that enforces all this oppression and madness.”

This system cannot do away with murder by police
Tweet this

The Revolution Club went into how “we see these promotions as being right in line with Trump’s vicious call to bring in the Feds to further enforce a genocidal program.” 

What the Revolution Club is pointing to can be seen at Trump’s White House website, where one of the first things done when Trump took office was the removal of the page devoted to the history of Civil Rights.  Now there’s a whole section dedicated to “Standing Up For Our Law Enforcement Community.” It opens with a threat to anyone who would dare to challenge this full unleashing of the killers in blue: “A Trump Administration will empower our law enforcement officers to do their jobs and keep our streets free of crime and violence... The dangerous anti-police atmosphere in America is wrong. The Trump Administration will end it.” [our emphasis]

As we said in our article on the DOJ report about the Chicago police, "these police are but the spear point enforcing a whole system of high unemployment and low wages when there is work... of piss-poor education... of terrible health care and epidemic levels of high blood pressure, diabetes, AIDS, and cancer... of mass incarceration and mass eviction and homelessness... of saddling people with onerous debts from court cases and then jailing them again when they cannot pay for court costs... of the terrible demoralization and hopelessness that leads people to lash out against others who look like them... and so much more. Yes, this is a system—a system of white supremacy that lies close to the heart of this larger capitalist-imperialist system—a system that MUST be overthrown at the soonest possible time, and the ground cleared to do away with all traces of this white supremacy."

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/476/reality-check-who-is-being-provocative-and-threatening-war-in-middle-east-en.html

Revolution #476 January 30, 2017

Reality Check:

Who Is Being "Provocative" and Threatening War in the Middle East?
Iran? Or the Trump Fascists?

February 1, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Illegitimate

Today National Security Advisor Michael Flynn burst into the White House daily press briefing and threatened Iran* for have “provocatively” tested a non-nuclear ballistic missile, and for backing the Houthi rebels in Yemen.* “The Trump administration condemns such actions by Iran that undermine security, prosperity and stability throughout and beyond the Middle East and place American lives at risk,” he declared, warning, “As of today, we are officially putting Iran on notice.” Press Secretary Sean Spicer declared that the U.S. won’t “sit by and not act on those actions.”

This is naked imperialist aggression justified by lies, like everything else Trump is doing that has nothing to do with any life aside from the predatory, earth-killing system Trump embodies. Trump brags about building up the U.S. military and then condemns another (much smaller) country for even testing military equipment. Missile tests are not prohibited under the recent U.S.-Iran nuclear agreement or even UN Security Council resolutions, which only prohibit Iran from testing nuclear-capable ballistic missiles. The Houthis, who are waging a civil war against pro-Saudi forces in Yemen, have been subjected to a criminal, murderous bombing campaign by Saudi Arabia, made possible by U.S. planes, bombs, and support. Now, the Trump-Pence regime appears to be threatening even more murderous attacks.

Escalating already savage U.S. aggression around the world is yet another horrendous feature of the fascist regime now rapidly being consolidated under Trump-Pence. This is yet further proof of the urgency of driving this fascist regime from power!

*See previous issues of revcom.us for in-depth coverage of the U.S., Iran, and Yemen.

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/476/reality-check-why-did-trump-ban-travel-from-7-muslim-majroity-countries-en.html

Revolution #476 January 30, 2017

Reality Check:

Why Did Trump Ban Travel From Seven Muslim-Majority Countries?
His Businesses? Or U.S. Imperialism's?

February 1, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Almost no one from the seven predominantly Muslim countries Trump banned from entering the U.S. has carried out terror on U.S. soil. Yet several countries from which 9/11 attackers came were not banned.

Some explain this by pointing to Trump’s personal business ties in those countries not banned.

No. The target list was dictated by U.S. imperialist interests—the interests (and necessity) this system has to plunder countries around the world, and to reconfigure and dominate the Middle East region.

This is wrong. American lives are NOT more important than other people’s lives.

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/476/new-york-taxi-workers-association-en.html

Revolution #476 January 30, 2017

New York Taxi Workers Association: When "rhetoric of hate is spewed from the bully pulpit, hate crimes increase"

February 1, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Protest at JFK Airport, January 28
JFK Airport, January 28. (AP photo)

On Saturday night, January 28, thousands of people demonstrated at the JFK Airport in Queens, New York against Trump’s executive order to ban Muslims from traveling to the United States. To show their support for the protests, the New York Taxi Workers Association refused to pick up passengers while the protests were going on and they issued the following statement:

Professional drivers are over 20 times more likely to be murdered on the job than other workers. By sanctioning bigotry with his unconstitutional and inhumane executive order banning Muslim refugees from seven countries, the president is putting professional drivers in more danger than they have been in any time since 9/11 when hate crimes against immigrants skyrocketed.

Our 19,000-member-strong union stands firmly opposed to Donald Trump’s Muslim ban. As an organization whose membership is largely Muslim, a workforce that is rooted in the defense of the oppressed, we say no to this inhumane and unconstitutional ban.

We know all too well that when government programs sanction outright Islamophobia, and the rhetoric of hate is spewed from the bully pulpit, hate crimes increase and drivers suffer gravely. Our Sikh and other non-Muslim brown and black members also suffer from anti-Muslim violence.

Today, drivers are joining the protest at JFK Airport in support of all those who are currently being detained at the airport because of Trump’s unconstitutional executive order. Drivers stand in solidarity with refugees coming to America in search of peace and safety and with those who are simply trying to return to their homes here in America after traveling abroad. We stand in solidarity with all of our peace-loving neighbors against this inhumane, cruel, and unconstitutional act of pure bigotry.

This statement is available online here

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/476/bob-avakian-on-the-oppression-of-black-people-en.html

Revolution #476 January 30, 2017

Bob Avakian (BA) on the Oppression of Black People and the Revolutionary Solution

February 1, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

There is the potential for something of unprecedented beauty to arise out of unspeakable ugliness: Black people playing a crucial role in putting an end, at long last, to this system which has, for so long, not just exploited but dehumanized, terrorized and tormented them in a thousand ways—putting an end to this in the only way it can be done—by fighting to emancipate humanity, to put an end to the long night in which human society has been divided into masters and slaves, and the masses of humanity have been lashed, beaten, raped, slaughtered, shackled and shrouded in ignorance and misery.

Bob Avakian, Chairman,
Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

BLACK HISTORY MONTH at Revolution Books in NYC

In the Age of Trump-Pence Fascism:
Black History... The Fight for Emancipation... and the Future

Read more

 

 

       

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/476/over-70-arrests-in-assault-on-water-protectors-at-standing-rock-en.html

Revolution #476 January 30, 2017

Over 70 Arrests in Government Assault on Water Protectors at Standing Rock

February 1, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Supporters of the new camp at Standing Rock (left) confront militarized police who made over 70 arrests.
Photo: Thunder Walks About

News sources, authorities, and social media are reporting over 70 arrests this afternoon in a major government assault on Water Protectors defending the Standing Rock Sioux from the Dakota Access Oil Pipeline (DAPL). This attack took place one week after Donald Trump “Executive Order” that government agencies basically abandon any pretense of environmental impact studies ordered by the Obama administration on the danger DAPL poses to the water supply of the Standing Rock Sioux. And it spits on long-standing, and repeatedly violated treaty rights promised to Native peoples by the U.S. government (see “Trump Order Gives Green Light to Dakota Access Pipeline—Tramples on Native American Rights and People’s Struggle.”)

Activists had set up a new camp in response to moves by the pipeline contractor to immediately resume construction. One videographer on the scene reported militarized police moved in with multiple armored personnel carriers, sound-assault weapons, and rifles. One of those arrested was Chase Iron Eyes—a prominent activist in the movement at Standing Rock, and an initiator of Refuse Fascism. As the Army Corps of Engineers threatened them with arrest for “trespassing,” a Facebook post from someone on the frontline declared: “We came here to stop a pipeline, and that’s what we intend to do. There are people from many Native nations here, to show the world that we not only deserve clean water, not only is water sacred, not only is it the foundation of all economic value, but it’s our birthright to determine our own destiny, to seek a life of dignity, and to be free from legal, economic and political oppression which is being perpetrated by the United States government, by the state of North Dakota.”

And he said: “This movement has grown to include the constitutional rights, civil rights, and human rights struggles of everybody that does not fall into the demographic that Donald Trump falls into—that is euro, hetero, and patriarchy. So we’re talking about Black Lives Matter. We’re talking about the entirety of the Muslim faith, which is being banned from entering the United States from seven countries. We’re talking about Native people, and they’re going to be prohibited from their right to travel, that predate the 240-year history of this country. And this struggle also includes people demanding a different energy economy, a different way of life.”

People at Standing Rock have been subjected to hundreds of vicious arrests; to assaults by private mercenaries; helicopter surveillance, drones, and harassment by reactionary white people in the area.

The Facebook message declared: “But we are going to hold it down on the high ground here. We don’t have a choice but to be that inspiration that the world is depending on.”

Activists are calling on people who are in a position to function in the brutal North Dakota winter to join them. In response to Trump’s initial declaration to roll forward with DAPL, protests broke out in many cities. Today, with the arrests, a spokesperson for Veterans Stand with Standing Rock issued a statement that: “We are committed to the people of Standing Rock, we are committed to nonviolence, and we will do everything within our power to ensure that the environment and human life are respected. That pipeline will not get completed. Not on our watch.”

The stakes at Standing Rock have always been high, for humanity. Now, with Trump putting Standing Rock in the crosshairs of his fascist agenda, they are much, much higher.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/476/trump-and-frederick-douglass-en.html

Revolution #476 January 30, 2017

Hey Trump, you ignorant fascist...here's who Frederick Douglass was. Now, read what he said, fool.

February 1, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

To mark Black history month, Trump said, “Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more, I notice...” Do you think Trump noticed this amazing job of a speech by Frederick Douglass? This rings as true today as ever and should definitely be recognized more and more.

“What, to the American slave, is your Fourth of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days of the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade, and solemnity, are, to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy - a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation of the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of these United States, at this very hour.

Go search where you may, roam through all the monarchies and despotisms of the Old World, travel through South America, search out every abuse, and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practices of this nation, and you will say with me, that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival.” (1852)

From Revolution:Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About. A film of a talk by Bob Avakian in 2003.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/476/three-points-on-the-righteous-shutdown-of-fascist-milo-yiannopoulos-at-UC-berkeley-en.html

Revolution #476 January 30, 2017

Three Points on the Righteous Shutdown of Fascist Milo Yiannopoulos at UC Berkeley

February 2, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

 

Last night, February 1, thousands of students, professors, and others protested the appearance and organizing rally of Milo Yiannopoulos, a major fascist operative, shutting it down. This was righteous and much more like this is needed.

In response, widespread attacks, distortions, and threats are being issued, including from the Fascist-In-Chief Trump himself, who threatened to cut off all federal funding to UC Berkeley.

These dangerous threats must be vigorously exposed and opposed.

Let’s be clear: Milo Yiannopoulos is not engaging in “free speech.” He is consciously spearheading the Nazification of the American University.

One: In his speeches and writings, Yiannopoulos is not simply voicing opinions—and he is certainly not “courageously challenging political orthodoxy” as he would like people to believe. Rather, he spews forth hateful, crude, unthinking bigotry and low-level insults against marginalized and oppressed people, and he has a documented record of knowingly unleashing campaigns of harassment, stalking, and threats of violence.

Two: Even more fundamentally, Yiannopoulos is a fascist operative with connections to the highest echelons of the Trump-Pence fascist regime. He is a senior editor at Breitbart News, the home of the white supremacist, anti-Semitic, woman-hating “alt-right” movement whose former head, Steve Bannon, is now a powerful driver of Trump’s fascist regime. In his current tour, Yiannopoulos has teamed up with David Horowitz, a man with a decades-long record of attacking and working to get fired progressive and radical-minded professors for their political views and for challenging lies used to justify U.S. empire and its role in the world. An explicit mission of their joint effort is to end sanctuary campuses and target undocumented students.

Three: Yiannopoulos’ campus tour is part of a larger, rapidly escalating, society-wide fascist assault on critical thinking, science, the ability to discover basic truths about objective reality and to challenge fascist lies. The Trump-Pence regime is relentlessly lying, muzzling government agencies, threatening the media, and firing or threatening government officials who stand up to them. This is because their fascist program is violently at odds with both basic facts about the world and what most people think is just. It is part of preparing their fanatical thugs to mindlessly carry out atrocities in service of their program.

In this context, the campuses pose a strategic problem for this fascist regime because they—more than the rest of society—expose students to the broader world, encourage people to think critically, and to explore contrary viewpoints. It is for this reason that fascists like Yiannopoulos and Horowitz have so viciously targeted the universities and why Trump himself jumped in so eagerly to give them backing.

*****************

For all these reasons, what happened at UC Berkeley is part of the kind of broad, powerful, and meaningful protest that needs to continue on an unprecedented scale to OUST this regime from power. These protests should be supported and defended by all those who value critical thought, the ability to pursue and debate what is actually true, science and scientific thinking, the space to dissent—and all who oppose this whole fascist direction and reordering of the world with its unparalleled threats to all humanity and the planet itself.

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/476/fascist-assault-at-seattle-protest-against-milo-yiannopoulos-en.html

Revolution #476 January 30, 2017

Fascist Assault at Seattle Protest Against Milo Yiannopoulos

February 1, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

 

On the day of Trump’s inauguration, January 20, a serious fascist assault occurred at the University of Washington (UW), where more than 1,000 people attempted to shut down the appearance of fascist Trump mouthpiece Milo Yiannopoulos. Despite attacks by police trying to break up the lines of people locking arms to stop his talk, protesters held firm and most of those who wanted to hear this fascist hatemonger were prevented from getting in.

But one of the people at the protest was shot by a supporter of Yiannopoulos and Trump. This became known only about a week later. The shot person is a member of the Industrial Workers of the World and has been working locally with the Neighborhood Action Coalition, which organizes defense of people that Trump-Pence forces are targeting.

In the middle of a tense scene and scuffles between protesters and pro-fascists, this fucker pulled out a gun and shot the man in the chest, critically injuring him. He is going to recover, although he easily may have died. After the shooting, the UW police did nothing to warn people or target the fascists. Later the same evening, the shooter turned himself in to police after his description was circulated through the press. He claimed that he shot in self-defense and that he thought he was being attacked by a “white supremacist.” Outrageously, he was almost immediately released by the police after telling his story, portraying himself as the victim.

His justification for shooting someone is simply unbelievable and just a lie. The person he shot is an anti-fascist, and according to friends was trying to separate people in the scuffles. An eyewitness account is consistent with this, saying he had been trying to stop someone, apparently from the Yiannopoulos side, who was trying to pepper spray people. On top of this, there is absolutely no justification for pulling out a gun and then shooting someone, in a situation where no one was in danger of serious injury until he pulled his gun, and which he was carrying against university rules about carrying weapons on campus. Still, the police let him go.

For days the press basically repeated the shooter’s story. Then it finally came out that the shooter is a Yiannopoulos and Trump supporter, according to his Facebook page. He even texted Yiannopoulos during the protest asking Yiannopoulos to get him another “make America great again” hat because someone had “jacked it” during the protest. While Yiannopoulos didn’t respond, it was reported he heartlessly refused to cancel the speech after hearing about the shooting because if he did, “they [the protesters] will have won.”

Police claim they are still investigating the incident, but now, almost two weeks later, the shooter has not been arrested or charged, and is still running around free. This shooting is a very serious escalation of fascist violence against the millions who hate Trump and Pence and everything they stand for, many of whom have bravely stood up to resist in many ways.

Further, blood is on the hands of the university’s president, Ana Mari Cauce, who refused to cancel Yiannopoulos’ speech on the grounds of “free speech,” then cynically and hypocritically released a statement decrying the violence that occurred after the shooting. What did she expect? Cauce allowed the event to go on despite Yiannopoulos’ history of racist and misogynist hate speech and all the brutality he is part of advocating, so completely evident now after Trump’s first 10 days in office. Thousands had signed a petition demanding Cauce cancel the speech, but she refused. Instead, Cauce allowed hateful, vicious fascists to come together and coalesce, and then one of these fuckers shot someone. Cauce should be ashamed and condemned for her part in allowing all of this to go on.

It is very important that this assault be exposed in its real terms and that people demand the shooter be charged and jailed, while continuing to struggle to resist Trump-Pence and build to the point they are driven out.

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/476/chicago-hundreds-march-through-downtown-against-muslim-ban-en.html

Revolution #476 January 30, 2017

Chicago: Hundreds March Through Downtown Against the Muslim Ban

February 2, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

From readers:

On Wednesday, February 1,  the Chicago Arab American Action Network (AAAN) and a coalition of other groups organized a press conference and march to protest Trump’s Muslim ban. This same grouping had organized people to go to O’Hare Airport for two days in a row when the ban was first announced. Billed as “Day 5 of the resistance to Trump’s executive orders,” the event began with a press conference outside the offices of the Department of Homeland Security. Lots of media showed up as an array of speakers spoke out against the ban. Besides Arabs, there were speakers representing Filipinos, Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar, Mexicans and Africans, and overall immigrant rights groups.

As the crowd took to the streets more people joined in, reaching possibly 1,000 at its height. The crowd was overwhelmingly people in their 20s or early 30s who feel strongly about the Trump regime’s demonizing and targeting of Muslims and immigrants, and who see this often connected to racism and white supremacy in the U.S. The majority appeared to be white but there were also sizable sections of Arabs and other minorities, many of whom were immigrants. Given the fear and terror directed toward immigrant and Muslim communities, this is important. Among the slogans people took up: “No papers, no fear, immigrants are welcome here”; “No Trump, No KKK, no racist USA”; “From Palestine to Mexico, All the Walls Have Got to Go!”

Refuse Fascism’s “No! We REFUSE to Accept a Fascist America” signs in English and Arabic and English and Spanish were taken up by people in the crowd. We passed out hundreds of copies of the important new statement from Sunsara Taylor, “Fascism on the March, Sharpening Crisis, and the Urgency to Act.”

At the end of the protest the crowd chanted, “The People Demand, The Fall of the Trump Regime!”

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/476/prisoners-rebel-in-delawares-largest-prison-en.html

Revolution #476 January 30, 2017

Prisoners Rebel in Delaware's Largest Prison

"Donald Trump. Everything that he did. All the things that he's doing now."

February 3, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

This week 100 prisoners at a Delaware prison rose up in a rebellion ("rebellion" was the word used by the prisoners themselves). This took place in building "C" of Delaware's largest adult prison—the Vaughn Correctional Center. The Department of Corrections immediately locked down all the prisons in the state.

The prisoners seized that portion of the prison at 10:30 Wednesday morning, February 1, and held it until 2:30 Thursday morning, when the prison authorities stormed the facility and took back control.

The prisoners were able to speak with the Wilmington News Journal newspaper with the help of people on the outside. When asked what triggered their rebellion, the prisoners answered: "We're trying to explain the reasons for doing what we're doing. Donald Trump. Everything that he did. All the things that he's doing now. We know that the institution is going to change for the worse. We got demands that you need to pay attention to, that you need to listen to and you need to let them know. Education, we want education first and foremost. We want a rehabilitation program that works for everybody. We want the money to be allocated so we can know exactly what is going on in the prison, the budget."

A former prisoner who had been in the same section of the prison reportedly told the News Journal that the conditions are poor and inmates have limited access to education programs. And because the prison is so overcrowded, prisoners are not transferred to medium-security buildings even when they have earned that right.

The Vaughn prison houses about 2,500, prisoners—from minimum to maximum security, including people sentenced to death. And people who are simply awaiting trial and who cannot afford bail are imprisoned there as well. Those awaiting trial are locked up for much of the day, according to a lawyer who has represented prisoners at Vaughn. These people have no access to gyms or libraries, and there "gets to be a tremendous pressure on these inmates."

Five people were reported held by the prisoners during the rebellion. Prison authorities report that one of their officers was found dead when they entered the prison. No explanation of the cause of death has been put forward. But the warden told the media that he intends to treat all 100 prisoners as "suspects."

Heather Ann Thompson, author of Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy, writing in the Jacobin online about the prisoner's rebellion at Vaughn, made this important statement: "The history of prison rebellions in this country shows we should be very cautious when we have to depend on state officials to tell us what happened, or is still happening, in any penal facility experiencing unrest."

 

 

       

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/476/from-revolution-club-nyc-en.html

Revolution #476 January 30, 2017

From a member of the Revolution Club, New York

In the Midst of A Real Yearning to Go Further Ideologically and Politically

February 3, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

 

The Revolution Club has been part of some of the major manifestations in the past week on the war on immigrants.  The following are some observations and thoughts off of interactions with the crowds that are attending the gatherings and marches:

At Columbia University, it was clear that both the students and professors organizing the rally were being newly awakened to political life or re-entering the political struggle.  Speaker after speaker spoke with great passion on the Islamophobia, the xenophobia, anti-immigration, and much more.  In the main these were graduate students working on dissertations—highly trained intellectuals—that for an evening (because of the larger reality) put the books down and left the campuses as student contingents to march into the streets.  This was very new and significant.  This happened at several different campuses in the city. 

The Revolution Club led chants, helped to bring together the different contingents, agitated at different points on the illegitimacy of this fascist regime.  But what was different (and this I noticed at a larger march in the city the previous day) was that there was a real yearning to go further (ideologically and politically).  Why is this fascism?  If we drive this fascist regime out of office what will replace it?  Are there radical alternatives to this system?  What type of leadership do we need? 

And within all this I think there's been a real struggle to take this further (ideologically and politically) with individuals and amongst groupings of people.  We were invited guests at a writers’ workshop.  In the main everything we talked about was either very new or were thoughts they had (but didn't know how to articulate).  There was a real yearning to act to refuse to accept a fascist america and a real living curiosity of why we also advocate for a communist revolution. 

While these are just a few examples I think there's more to wrestle with as the larger world is quickly changing; as we're bringing out the true nature of this fascist regime there is a need to lead people to change their priorities, to act on their convictions.... And while this fascist regime is still in power and people's fears are real, there is the reality that if we in our millions refuse to accept a fascist america it could drive this regime from power.  And while that's a lot to wrestle with I think there's great openings before us amongst large sections of society.  

 

@Noche_RC at #NoBanNoWall yesterday. @refusefascism Protests Across Country Condemn Trump's Anti-Muslim Ban: https://t.co/tECkkd3Vz7 #revcom pic.twitter.com/MTXOBcvTBY

— NYC Revolution Club (@NYCRevClub) January 30, 2017

 

"American lives are NOT more important than other people's lives!"#NYC #MuslimBanprotest #DriveThemOut#NoFascistUSA pic.twitter.com/XGTCb6cJ5y

— #NoFascistUSA (@RefuseFascism) January 29, 2017

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/476/fdt-interrupts-regular-radio-programs-en.html

Revolution #476 January 30, 2017

"FDT (Fuck Donald Trump)" Interrupts Regular Radio Programs

February 3, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

On Trump's inauguration day, January 20, people listening to a number of radio stations in several states heard the song "FDT (Fuck Donald Trump)" play over and over again. This was not part of these stations' regular programming. Someone or some people had hacked the stations with the anti-Trump rap. (The YouTube of "FDT (Fuck Donald Trump)" by YG and Nipsey Hussle has over 15 million views as of February 3.) According to news reports, the radio stations that were hacked with "Fuck Donald Trump" included one in San Angelo, Texas, that normally airs R&B oldies; a Spanish-language station in Murfreesboro, Tennessee; a Catholic station in Evansville, Indiana; and a local music station in Louisville, Kentucky.

The "FDT" hackers struck again on January 31. The president of a station in South Carolina that usually plays oldies and beach music put up a Facebook post saying: "Our internet has been HACKED at our transmitter site and the station has played anti-Trump songs. This is NOT our broadcast!"

 

 

       

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/476/solidarity-with-immigrants-feb04-en.html

Revolution #476 January 30, 2017

February 4: Resistance Against Trump's Fascist Muslim Ban Spreads Across the U.S. and Around the Globe

February 4, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

A week after Trump's ban on all refugees and immigrants from seven mainly Muslim countries, protests against this fascist attack are not only continuing—they are spreading. On Saturday, February 4, people in many cities across the U.S. and in a number of cities in Europe, Australia, and Asia marched and rallied against Trump's fascist attacks against Muslim people.

In the U.S., people took to the streets and demonstrated at airports in many major cities as well as in smaller communities. They involved a very broad range of people and forces expressing solidarity with people from other countries and disgust and outrage at the Trump-Pence regime's racist, xenophobic poison.

In Denver, Colorado, at least 10,000 people gathered at the downtown Civic Center Park for a Protect Our Muslim Neighbors rally. An official from the Colorado Muslim Society said the protest allowed "Muslims and non-Muslims to come together and say we are not going to stand for this." In Salt Lake City, Utah, thousands filled downtown streets in a March for Refugees which joined with Mormons March for Muslims. They marched to the state Capitol chanting "No hate, no fear, refugees are welcome here!" One man who came to the march from the suburbs with his wife said, "We just felt we had to come out and show some solidarity with all of these people. We want to let (leaders) know that you can't treat people that way."

Hundreds of people marched in West Palm Beach, Florida, to Mar-a-Lago, Trump's lavish estate, where he was reportedly spending the weekend. In Washington, D.C., more than 1,000 protesters marched from the White House to the Supreme Court in an action organized by Peace for Iran, a group of Iranian-American professionals. Huffington Post reported, "Families from the Virginia and Maryland suburbs joined college students and teenagers from the city in chants like, 'When Muslims are under attack—what do we do? Stand up, fight back.'"

In New York City, thousands of LGBT people and others rallied at the historic Stonewall Inn—site of the 1969 rebellion by gays against degrading raids by the pigs, marking the birth of the gay rights movement. A woman in her 50s who was part of the Saturday rally said, "Whether we're straight, gay, immigrant, Native American—no matter who you are, we're all standing up to fascists." At one point during the protest, the police stepped in to protect some pro-Trump fascist counter-protesters, and arrested four people, including members of the Revolution Club NYC and Refuse Fascism activists.

In Los Angeles, people protesting Trump, chanting "Let them in now!" and "No ban, no wall, sanctuary for all!" confronted pro-Trump reactionaries who supported the ban. Hundreds marched in Janesville, Wisconsin, on the offices of Paul Ryan, the head of the Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives. In Houston, Texas, on the eve of the Super Bowl game taking place in the city, hundreds marched—and protests are planned on Super Bowl Sunday itself. In Chicago, Refuse Fascism and others marched in solidarity with immigrants in an area where South Asian stores and restaurants are concentrated.

There were protests in many smaller cities, including Raleigh, North Carolina; Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania; North Adams, Massachusetts; Ogden, Utah; and Rhinelander, Wisconsin. One protest that took place earlier in the week was in Starkville, Mississippi, more than 200 people gathered for a vigil organized by the Religious Diversity Organization on the Mississippi State University campus.

Outside the U.S., there were protests in Toronto, Canada; London, UK; Paris, France; Berlin, Germany; Sydney Australia; Jakarta, Indonesia; Manila, Philippines; and other places.

Mar-a-Lago, Palm Beach, Florida

New York City, Stonewall Inn. Members of the LGBT community and many others rally to stand with immigrants. (Photo: Twitter/@Samynemir)

Washington, DC

Janesville, WI

Miami, FL

Salt Lake City, UT

Ogden, UT

London, UK, outside the U.S. Embassy

Houston, TX

Chicago march in South Asian community

Denver, CO (Photo: Twitter/@dcwoodruff)

Los Angeles, CA (Photo: Twitter/@lebowskigrande)

Atlanta, GA (Photo: Twitter/@FatSpinster)

St. Louis, MO (Photo: Twitter/@aswb83)

Philadelphia, PA (Photo: Twitter/@SierraClubPA)

San Francisco, CA (Photo: Twitter/@anaulin)

Rhinelander, WI (Photo: Twitter/@sarah_lukas)

 

 

       

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/476/austin-texas-human-shield-to-protect-muslims-en.html

Revolution #476 January 30, 2017

Austin, Texas: 1,000+ Supporters Form a Human Shield to Protect Muslims

February 4, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 


Local TV news coverage of January 31 Texas Muslim Capitol Day in Austin, TX

On January 31, at least 1,000 people in Austin, Texas linked arms to protect Muslim participants in an event called Texas Muslim Capitol Day from attacks by Christian fascists. Capitol Day, which takes place every two years, is organized by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Texas as an educational event for Muslim students and others to learn about the state government. During the event two years ago, a vitriolic group of Christian fascist fanatics heckled the participants, and one of them grabbed the microphone and ranted, “I proclaim the name lord Jesus Christ over the capitol of Texas... Islam will never dominate the United States!”

This year’s Capitol Day took place at a time when those who have declared Islam as a religion and Muslims generally as the “enemy” now run the federal government—and a few days after Trump’s executive order banning Muslim immigrants and refugees. Also, a Texas state legislator had recently sent a letter to mosque leaders and Muslim student associations across the state asking them to fill out a “poll” about their beliefs, in preparation for a “homeland security” summit he planned to hold. And two mosques in Texas have recently been hit with arson attacks.

So clearly there was apprehension among Muslims participating in this year’s Capitol Day, but people were determined to go ahead. And a large crowd of supporters turned out to put themselves between the Muslim participants and anyone who would harass or harm them. Many wore t-shirts saying “I stand with my Muslim neighbors.” One woman, an ESL teacher, who was part of the human shield told the Texas Tribune that this was the first time that she had ever taken part in a protest. She said, “I feel that with the political situation the way it is now, it’s time for all of us to stand up and defend the Constitution.”

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/476/controversy-erupts-over-shutdown-of-milo-yiannopoulos-at-UC-Berkeley-en.html

Revolution #476 January 30, 2017

Controversy Erupts Over Shutdown of Milo Yiannopoulos at UC Berkeley

Feburary 4, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

From a member of the Revolution Club, SF Bay Area:

Dear Revcom,

There is intense controversy all over the country but especially here in the Bay Area in the aftermath of the shutdown of Milo Yiannopoulos’ speaking engagement at UC Berkeley. The morning after the shutdown media reports decried the “violence” of the shutdown and how this was a “dark day for free speech at the home of the free speech movement.” President Trump sent a tweet threat: “If U.C. Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view—NO FEDERAL FUNDS?”

So quickly several of us from the Revolution Club printed out several hundred copies of the revcom piece “Three Points on the Righteous Shut-Down of Fascist Milo Yiannopoulos at UC Berkeley” and made two posters, “Talk to me about the righteous shutdown of the fascist Yiannopoulos ” and “Yiannopoulos is not engaging in ‘free speech.’ He is consciously spearheading the Nazification of the American university,” and headed to the campus.

For over three hours, we kicked off and anchored a swirl of debate with anywhere from 50-100 students at a time. Media outlets that had come to the follow-up reporting listened in as well. Most definitely, the shutting down of the fascist Yiannopoulos was hugely controversial.

There were students in the mix that thought it was righteous that Yiannopoulos was shut down and some of them spoke up. It was really important that we were out there to lead people to see the bigger picture this particular protest was part of. Most students—even those who recognize the profound bigotry, white-supremacy, misogyny, and viciousness of Yiannopoulos—have very little understanding of his links to the highest offices in the land or how his campus tour fits into a whole society-wide assault on critical thinking, real intellectual inquiry, and the search for the truth. In contrast, many students were not coming to terms with the fact that Yiannopoulos is a fascist operative for the Trump regime.

Too many were just seeing Yiannopoulos as just another person engaging in free speech, or just as an asshole and internet troll, and that by shutting him down, it was just feeding the troll. People saying that they hated Yiannopoulos’ misogyny and xenophobia and racism, but still treating him like he was just a social provocateur—too much of all this was separated from the real world, Yiannopoulos’ real track record and the real fascist regime of Trump he is an operative for.

There were people who were against Yiannopoulos, but a number of them said what happened the night before did not discredit him, but instead gave him more attention which is what he wants. Some argued that people should have just ignored him. Or that the protest should have been more “protest as usual” and “people registering their dissent.” That what happened played into the hands of the right-wing forces who could now portray themselves as victims of the intolerant left. I mean people really had the view that people everywhere were going to be turned against the students at UC Berkeley because the media was portraying them as bad.

We struggled with people that: First, it is not the case that if you ignore fascism it will go away—that these fascists are running the government, and we asked how’s ignoring them been working out so far? Second, whether most people agree with a protest (or anything else)—or whether the media is able turn people against something—is not how to determine whether it was right. The Abolitionists were demonized in their day, but they were right even when most (white people) disagreed with them. Third: we argued that it was completely one sided to think that everyone who saw the media reports were going to think Berkeley students were “intolerant.” We argued that tens of millions of people across the country, let alone around the world are already sick at heart and outraged at the Trump regime and will be inspired that people stood up and said no to fascism! I felt the students were largely missing this, not giving people enough credit, including for being able to read “between the lines” of the way things are reported and slandered in the mainstream media.

We challenged the students, “If you were around in Nazi Germany in 1932, and the lecture halls on the university campus were being filled with Hitler Youth—and knowing now what you know about the horrors that followed—would you have not done everything you could to shut down the Nazis? Some students clearly said they would, others really had to pause and consider the comparison and others did not want to or refused to go there. And, yeah, there were a few so stuck in their framework who said that even back in Hitler’s time he should have been allowed to speak.

Some of the students said they were concerned about how the way the media reported things would cause Trump’s fascist followers to be against the students, along with Trump’s threats to withhold millions in federal funding. We told them that even before the fascist Yiannopoulos was shut down, Trump and his regime resented the campuses—resent that it is a place where people think and are encouraged to think critically, more than in the rest of society. The fascist regime of Trump and Pence don’t like that; they feel threatened by it. We asked where were the protests the most intense after Trump’s election victory? The universities! They want to shut that down. They want to get a fascist foothold on the campuses and that is the purpose of Yiannopoulos’ tour in the first place.

We asked the students, how can you just look at Yiannopoulos from the framework of “free speech” when the regime he is an operative for, and Trump, who Yiannopoulos calls “daddy,” is the absolute antithesis of critical thinking and we used the point from the flyer: “Yiannopoulos’ campus tour is part of a larger, rapidly escalating, society-wide fascist assault on critical thinking, science, the ability to discover basic truths about objective reality and to challenge fascist lies. The Trump-Pence regime is relentlessly lying, muzzling government agencies, threatening the media, and firing or threatening government officials who stand up to them. This is because their fascist program is violently at odds with both basic facts about the world and what most people think is just. It is part of preparing their fanatical thugs to mindlessly carry out atrocities in service of their program.”

We told the students, Yiannopoulos and the Trump regime are fascists, they don’t care what you think. They are not about having a dialogue. They don’t want to debate with you about the merits of fascism. What is Trump telling 1,000 people at the State Department who have expressed disagreement with them? “Agree or go.” They want everyone intimidated and cowed. They operate on the principle of “might makes right” and imposing their “alternative facts” on the world. And Yiannopoulos is not dangerous because his ideas are so edgy and powerful, but because of the fascist regime that is behind his ideas and backs his warped ideas.

       

Some people thought Yiannopoulos should be shut down, but not the way that he was. Windows were broken and there was a fire and this “violence” “... makes the students look bad or turns everyone against the movement.” There is debate and more to get into, but once again I think the real thing was these students resist confronting that this is a fascist regime we are up against. Why do they resist that? Do they really think it can’t happen in the U.S., because of some inviolable principles, some checks and balances, or some senator that is going to ride in on a horse to save the day? These are questions we need to continue to explore.

We challenged the students to look at the violence and havoc already carried out by the Trump regime. The women around the globe suffering a violent assertion of patriarchy by Trump’s global ban on abortion, the tens of thousands of immigrants and refugees trapped in violence because of Trump’s ban, the threats of war that Trump had made in just one day on Mexico and Iran! We asked the students: Were they sleepless at night? Were they in anguish over that and Yiannopoulos’ promotion of that? We asked the students if they knew that Yiannopoulos came out on stage in a cop uniform in one of his recent appearances at a border state university and ran out his anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim venom. We asked: What about how Yiannopoulos rails against Black Lives Matter and all the Black people that have already been murdered with impunity during Obama’s presidency and how Trump wants to put all that “law and order” on steroids? Let alone for all the people that have been victims of hate crimes because of the white supremacy, the misogyny, the xenophobia that the Trump regime—and yes, their operative Yiannopoulos—are pumping out and whipping up. What about ALL THAT violence?

There was something really troubling when some of the students accused all the two thousand or more people that were involved in shutting Yiannopoulos down of bringing the “wrath of the right.” Once again, “Let’s just be quiet and maybe those fascists won’t notice us.” It completely misses everything that is in the “Three Points on the Righteous Shut-Down of Fascist Milo Yiannopoulos at UC Berkeley” statement and we told the students it is the moral equivalent of blaming the civil rights activists for the brutality they suffered, the Freedom Riders who went South to fight against segregation, it is the equivalent of blaming them for “bringing trouble.”

So here we were standing out on the famed Sproul Plaza, home of the Free Speech Movement having this intense debate. And one student said to us, “This is where the Free Speech Movement started and this is where it died.” And to me it is crazy. The fact of the matter is the Free Speech Movement was a movement against official oppression, the oppression of the state!

In the immediate sense, most of the students did not agree with us. This is how things often start out when thousands of people are newly drawn into political debate—most come with the assumptions society has instilled in them. At the same time, powerful forces are working overtime to put students and others on the defensive for the righteous political resistance they were part of. For these reasons, it was so important that revcom.us spoke to this whole situation in such a timely way and that we were out there broadly engaging, debating, listening, and leading a process of people sorting out what is actually true and what is the bigger picture this particular protest was part of. People did a great thing together in standing up against Milo Yiannopoulos. The powers that be are hitting back. Now, we have to go out even more broadly to build on the real lessons and positive experience and draw even more people forward with even deeper understanding to take things forward from here.