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February 10, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Chicago is infamous for the true horror of young Black people killing each other. And now Chicago is ground zero for Trump’s overall offensive against Black people.
There’s no mystery why these heartbreaking murders go on. A whole section of youth, numbering in the millions, are told by the system they’re worth nothing in 1,000 ways. Living in torn-up communities with no future. Given no way to be somebody outside of the street life and the code of revenge. The latest link in a chain stretching back 400 years.
Now comes Trump. The stone-cold racist claims he will “fix” the problem. He promises jobs. In reality, his agents will dole out a few jobs... to buy people as his enforcers. Trump will pull more Black people into the oppressor army to kill off other oppressed people. Trump and Pence will basically destroy the public schools and send the students to schools that train them as Christian fundamentalist robots, unable to think critically or resist.
But the sharp edge of Trump’s program is “sending in the feds to restore law and order.” In reality, this means that the masses of Black people will have no rights whatsoever. The police will be unleashed to kill even more people and crush all resistance. The fascist regime will fill the prisons even fuller, far fuller. The regime will use its lackeys to spy on, confuse, divide and crush those who say NO.
What They Fear
That is their plan. And there’s a reason for this plan.
For centuries, Black people have caught the hardest hell in America. But they have also been a powerful force that called America out and fought it, that created something way different right in the belly of this ugly beast. When Black people stand up against this system, they inspire others to open their eyes and also stand up, and it begins to call the whole thing into question.
We’ve seen it these past few years in the struggle against the murder of Black and Latino people by the police. Try as he might for the system he served, Obama could not cool that out. So Trump whipped up a racist reaction as part of his “Make America White Again” campaign and rode it to power. Trump now aims to once and for all wipe out the struggle of Black people against their oppression as a people, and what’s been forged through that. Worse still: to divide and degrade people, and turn them against each other in ways not yet seen. And if it comes to that, mass roundups, camps and worse.
When Trump says “Make America Great Again” he means fascism. Reinstating open white supremacy within America. But also: running amok all over the world, madly risking catastrophic nuclear war. Forcibly slamming women “back into their place.” Persecuting Muslims and immigrants, and gay and trans people. Fascism means taking away legal and political rights altogether, and putting dissenters into prison or worse.
We Need A Revolution!
Bob Avakian, (BA), the leader of the revolution, has charted a different plan: REVOLUTION. BA says:
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.
We have the method and strategy to understand the world and see the revolution through to victory. BA has authored a Constitution for a new socialist society—a society that will be far better than this, on the road to a truly communist world without exploitation and any kind of oppression. There’s organization in the Revolutionary Communist Party that is the backbone of this.
Right now, the revolution must join with all different kinds of people of many viewpoints to drive out the Trump-Pence fascist regime, before it’s too late. We fight this now, urgently, as part of getting ready for revolution.
There’s a way for you to be part of this revolution, to make this real. Here’s what you need to do now:
Check out and join the Revolution Club. Go to its offices. Get copies of this statement to get out into every community, all over. And get out the stickers that say “NO!” to the fascist Trump-Pence regime, everywhere.
Live by the Revolution Club Points of Attention on this broadsheet. Win over others to do the same.
Get organized to unite to defend the people, against the real enemies. If there are problems and conflicts among the people, come together to solve them non-antagonistically, without bloodshed.
Win people to support the revolution with funds, and other kinds of support.
The Revolution Club upholds, lives by and fights for the following principles:
1 We base ourselves on and strive to represent the highest interests of humanity: revolution and communism. We do not tolerate using the revolution for personal gain.
2 We fight for a world where ALL the chains are broken. Women, men, and differently gendered people are equals and comrades. We do not tolerate physically or verbally abusing women or treating them as sexual objects, nor do we tolerate insults or “jokes” about people’s gender or sexual orientation.
3 We fight for a world without borders, and for equality among different peoples, cultures and languages. We do not tolerate insults, “jokes” or derogatory names about a person’s race, nationality, or language.
4 We stand with the most oppressed and never lose sight of their potential to emancipate humanity—nor of our responsibility to lead them to do that. We work to win people of all backgrounds to take part in the revolution, and do not tolerate revenge among the people.
5 We search for and fight for the truth no matter how unpopular, even as we listen to and learn from the observations, insights and criticisms of others.
6 We are going for an actual overthrow of this system and a whole better way beyond the destructive, vicious conflicts of today between the people. Because we are serious, at this stage we do not initiate violence and we oppose all violence against the people and among the people.
Besides Carrying Out War
and Aggression All Over the World and Committing Crimes Against
Humanity... Besides Deporting Nearly 3 Million Immigrants... Besides
Not Only Leaving Intact But Sharpening Up the Repressive Powers He
Inherited From Bush...
BARACK (AND MICHELLE)
OBAMA, OF ALL PEOPLE, DID MORE HARM TO BLACK PEOPLE DURING THE LAST
February 8, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Protests in Baltimore after police there murdered Freddie Gray, April 2015. AP photo
Bob Avakian: "The police, Black youth and what kind of a system is this?"
From Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About
Barack Obama was
America's first Black president—put in office by a ruling class
that badly needed "plastic surgery" internationally and "at
home" after the disastrous Bush administration with its
blood-soaked and utterly unjustified war on Iraq and everything
concentrated in the callous, racist way it handled Hurricane Katrina.
He came into office promoting the idea that America had at long
last put its "racial problems" behind it, and that it was also
now going to be a great friend to the oppressed peoples of the world.
We'll get into the actual war crimes and crimes against humanity
that he committed at another time. But right now, particularly at a
time when there's a lot of "nostalgia" for the Obama years,
let's look at what he did about and TO Black people—and let's
include Michelle Obama in that as well, for she not only did things in
her own right but also played the role of assuring those who would
normally be raising questions, that she was "authentic" and
"keeping Obama real." And particularly at a time when Obama is doing
great damage in disarming people about the biggest threat they face
right now, it is extremely important to face the TRUTH about this.
1) After Michael
Brown was murdered in Ferguson, Obama's BULLSHIT message was, "First and
foremost, we are a nation built on the rule of law" and "Our
police officers put themselves on the line for us every single day." When the pigs in Baltimore murdered Freddie Gray and the youth of
Baltimore rose up demanding justice—Obama called them "thugs,"
while never condemning the murdering cops. Obama's Department of
Justice issued Consent Decrees on police departments around the
country—which include reports that acknowledged some of the murderous
crimes being carried out by the pigs, but then wrapped all this in
talk of bullshit reforms. In Ferguson, for example, the Justice
Department report showed widespread, pervasive racism—but then
wrapped that sliver of truth in a bigger lie, saying that Michael
Brown caused his own death! The actual Department of Justice record
under Obama was of supporting literally every single act of police
violence that has come before the U.S. Supreme Court. For his
whole eight years in office, Obama continually defended murdering
pigs gunning down Black and Latino youth—and at the same time
both attacked, and at other times misled, those fighting against police murder, telling people to work
with the cops.1
2) Obama put the
blame for the poverty, high prison rates, poor education, and the
whole oppressive situation Black and Latino youth face on the people
themselves. He preached that the problem is the lack of "personal
responsibility"—"absentee fathers“—(often “absentee” due to being thrown into the prison system on a racist basis!), youth with sagging pants, too
much TV, and so on. He completely left out the actual reality of
how this system has devastated communities of the oppressed; left
little "choice" for millions of youth except the underground
economy or the military; how Black people are continually
discriminated against in housing, health care, education, and jobs,
as shown by study after study, making a mockery of the notion of
"equality"; how young Black men are targeted with "stop and
frisk" racial profiling and outright police murder; and how
millions of them are thrown into prisons, many for minor drug
violations. In a speech to graduates from Morehouse College he said,
"We know that too many young men in our community continue to make
bad choices" and now "There's no time for excuses." And who
better than Barack Obama, the first Black president, to deliver this
message to Black youth for their plight? If George Bush or now, Trump
does this—Black people, at least many, would more readily see this
as racist. But when the first Black president did it, it was able to
get people to swallow this poison. And this is a big part ofWHY he was brought
forward and supported by the ruling class as president—to
promote the LIE that America was "post-racial" and that if Black
people were having problems "it was their own fault."2
3) Obama promoted
the notion that Black people should be part of joining the military
and going all over the world to kill other oppressed people in the
interests of U.S. imperialism. In June, 2015 he made a big deal,
posthumously awarding two World War I "heroes" with the Medal of
Honor; one to a Jewish son of Russia immigrants and another to one of the
all-Black "Harlem Hellfighters" who he said had both gone
"unacknowledged and uncelebrated." This was like celebrating the
Black "Buffalo Soldiers" who after the Civil War helped the U.S.
Army steal the land of and carry out the genocide of the Native
Americans. While Michelle Obama made supporting military families and
spouses her personal mission, Barack Obama, as the first Black
president provided a "role model for Black people"—commander in
chief who reaffirmed the policy of indefinite military detentions;
who presided over torture in Guantánamo; who oversaw a weekly "kill
list" and escalated the use of Predator drones, killing countless
innocent civilians. Obama waged war on seven countries and supported
Israel TWICE in its genocidal onslaughts against the Palestinian
people in Gaza. Decades ago, looking at all that U.S. imperialism did
around the world, Malcolm X called "Uncle Sam" a "bloody-jawed
wolf"—Obama is just another one of those wolves, and if anyone can't
see it, it's because they don't want to see
continually attempted to, and too often succeeded in, politically
neutering prominent Black intellectuals and artists, as well as other
artists and intellectuals with progressive reputations, promoting the
illusion that they had "one of their own" in the White
House—covering up that no matter who is in the White House he (or
she) must serve "the bloody-jawed wolf" of U.S. imperialism, and
thereby enlisting them in the crimes against humanity carried out by
the very empire which built itself in the first place on slavery and
genocide. It is a very sad commentary that very few prominent Black
intellectuals or artists besides Cornel West continually and
forcefully condemned Obama for his wars of empire and military
aggression against other oppressed peoples, as well as the extremely dangerous effect he was having on the struggle against the oppression of Black people as a people.4
5) After a
cold-blooded white supremacist massacred nine people in the Emanuel
African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina... because
they were Black... after they had opened their doors to him... Obama
went to South Carolina and delivered what was supposed to be a eulogy
for the Black people who had been slaughtered. And right there, at
the funeral, in front of the loved ones of those who had been killed,
he actually had the nerve to say that this murder was part of "God's
plan"—and that the main thing people needed to learn from this
horrible thing was the "power of forgiving"—when in fact if
anything, what the so-called "power of forgiving" has taught the
people over and over and over again, is that it has enabled nothing
but the people learning to and being forced to live with oppression.
As for the ridiculous notion of this being part of "God's plan,"
then why not chalk up ALL the horrors of the Middle Passage,
centuries of slavery that make the mind and heart ache and boil to
even think of them, the decades of lynching, and now the hell of mass
incarceration and criminalization in every sphere—why not chalk ALL
that up to "God's plan" rather than the workings of U.S.
capitalism-imperialism, its institutions of white supremacy, and the
horrible way that they have conditioned all too many white people to
act? Because everyone except someone like Ben Carson would recognize
what a lie that was, that's why!! And by the way, as long as we're
on the topic of (the nonexistent) "God"—why would anyone
worship a god with a "plan" that fiendish and cruel??!?5
There would be no United States as we now know it today without slavery. That is a simple and basic truth.
6) When Obama
ran for president in 2008, he threw Jeremiah Wright not only
under the bus but off the goddamn bridge for saying a little bit of
the truth about America. Wright had given sermons where he had said
things like: "[The United States] Government lied about their
belief that all men were created equal. The truth was they believe
all White men were created equal" and "The Government lied about
weapons of mass destruction in Iraq being a threat to the United
States' peace. And guess what else? If they don't find them some
Weapons of Mass Destruction, they gonna do just like the LAPD and
plant them some Weapons of Mass Destruction. Governments lie..."
Obama gave an entire well-publicized speech trashing Wright, who had
been his minister in Chicago, saying Wright had "a view that sees
white racism as endemic," and that his thinking was "divisive"
and draws people away from the problems of "two wars, a terrorist
threat, a failing economy, a chronic health care crisis and
potentially devastating climate change." In this way, in a phrase,
Obama covered over how there is systematic oppression of Black people
and an entrenched system of white supremacy running through every
institution of America and at the very core of the country. This kind
of "cover-up" continued throughout his presidency.6
7) Obama did some
high-profile things, like visiting prisons and releasing some
prisoners to give the impression he was actually doing something
about the horror of mass incarceration in the USA—which is an
international scandal where America is known for its "addiction" to
imprisoning Black and Latino men and women under the guise of the
"war on drugs"—part of what amounts to a slow genocide that can
become very fast at any time. Obama implemented some policies aimed at reducing
the prison population like getting rid of some of harsh minimum
sentencing policies that led to the shortening of sentences and/or
the early release of thousands of prisoners. Obama commuted the
sentences of over 1,000 prisoners. But this
is thimble-full in an ocean of blood—in
a prison system where over 2 million people are behind bars. And
consider this: If
the trend set by Obama of reducing the prison population were to
continue—and this is a big IF, now
with Trump in office—it would
take 80-90 years
(!) to get to where the prison population was in 1980. The fact that
Obama did anything at all was consistent with the whole point and
purpose of his presidency—to give a
"fresh progressive face" to America after the horror of the Iraq
War and the open torture of the Bush regime along with the scandal of
its massive prison system that had tarnished America's
reputation—and its ability to
dominate—around the world. And the
fact that this was bullshit cosmetics, designed to fool the
inattentive, was ALSO consistent.7
8) In the face of
a horrible situation where masses of youth are killing each other in
Chicago and other cities, as well as rampant random (or
"white-on-white") slaughter more generally in America, Obama has
covered over the real reason this is happening—refusing to point
the finger at what and who really is causing this. Once again he,
along with Michelle Obama, has led the way in preaching that the
problem is "gun control" when the shooters are white, and gun
control plus a lack of "personal responsibility" when they are
Black or Latino—when in fact, the problem is that these youth have
been left with no future, that they have been trained in and acting
on the very dog-eat-dog outlook of this system as it translates into
their circumstances, and that the only way out of this is the radical
overturning of this system and a whole new economic and political
system and, in the case of the “mass shooters” phenomenon, that this sick and twisted society is unique in the sheer amount of people that it evidently conditions and drives to carry out such monstrous things.8
9) Black people
were especially hard hit by the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis.
Predatory subprime loans, which had much higher interest rates,
affected people of all nationalities, but the banks deliberately
targeted Black and Latino people in particular. It came out in court
that loan officers at Wells Fargo referred to these subprime loans as
"ghetto loans," and referred to Black customers as "mud
people." Foreclosures severely affected Black and Latino
communities at much higher rates than whites. According to a 2008
report this led to "the greatest loss of wealth to people of color
in modern U.S. history—between $164 billion and $213 billion for
loans taken during the past eight years." (State of the Dream 2008:
Foreclosed) Across the nation, more than 240,000 Black people lost
homes they had owned. But Obama did NOTHING to aid Black people who
were devastated by the crash of 2008. The programs Obama introduced
intended to help some of these homeowners are now widely considered
failures. (See: "Obama Failed to Mitigate America's Foreclosure
10) Perhaps worst
of all, Obama became the "normalizer-in-chief"—paving the way
for the fascist Donald Trump. He literally told people, "it's
gonna be alright," reiterating over and over again that it was of
utmost importance to have a "peaceful transition of power"—which
in effect meant telling people to ACCEPT FASCISM. He did absolutely
nothing to sound an alarm about the real and urgent danger
looming over the world or to rally people to resist this. He did the
opposite. He said, "I committed to President-Elect Trump
that my administration would ensure the smoothest possible
transition"—which meant paving the way for this fascist to come
into office without massive opposition, especially from Black people
and other oppressed peoples.10
In fact, it is this
normalization that gives us the best clue as to WHY Obama so deeply
put the knife into the backs of Black people. Remember when Obama
came out after Trump won, a few days later and said: "We are now
all rooting for his [Trump's] success in uniting and leading the
country. The peaceful transition of power is one of the hallmarks of
our democracy... [W]e have to remember that we're actually all on
one team. This is an intramural scrimmage. We're not Democrats
first. We're not Republicans first. We are Americans first. We're
patriots first...." So he TOLD us straight up why he did this—that
he is on the same team as Trump!!!
Think about that. Are
YOU on the "same team" as Trump? Here's someone who's going
to take the masses of Black people into a far lower circle of hell.
Are YOU on that team? Is that what YOU are fighting for? Well, he's
told you that HE is on the same team.
Shit is way too serious
now to harbor any illusions, to cover over any of the hard edges of
what the masses face. This Trump is going to speed up what has
already been a slow genocide. And if he gets away with it—and this
Party is determined he will not, and we want to unite with everyone
else who wants to stand up against this foul fascist pig and his
regime of monsters—but if he does, history will rightly condemn
Barack Obama as his number one accomplice.
Trump and Black People: You Have NO Idea How Bad It Can Get
December 14, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
February 6, 2017: We are reposting this article, originally written in early December, due to its continuing relevance.
Some well-known Black people have gone around saying, “Well, we’ve gone through a lot, we’ll get through Trump”—and some people are echoing this.
Reality check: you have no idea HOW bad Trump is going to be for Black people. Yes, there’s been a reign of terror by police against Black people... yes, there’s been the ugly unending discrimination in every realm of society, from education to health care to housing and jobs... yes, there’s been the constant insult and threat; and now all that is going on steroids.
Read, Sign & Distribute The New Updated Refuse Fascism Call to Action:
Just think of what he’s done already: He took out ads calling for the death penalty against the Central Park 5. The Central Park 5 were Black and Latino youths who were unfairly charged with rape, and who were found innocent years later—after serving long, hard years in jail. And what did Trump say, just this year, when asked about this? That he doesn’t care what the evidence said, he says they’re guilty and they should be back in jail. And then there’s whole birther thing he got behind and got in front of—all that was just a way to say that Black people should have NO rights.
Trump’s convention featured the former New York mayor, Adolph Ghouliani, screaming about “law and order” and “blue lives matter,” and this was a major theme of his campaign. Trump even said he wants to do stop-and-frisk in every major city. And he applauds the Philippine ruler Duterte, who murders suspects straight-up in the street, without even a trial—over 2,000 already since this summer. What do you think he’s gonna do now? Why do you think that every racist pig and prison guard and every sick white racist vigilante wanna-be is drooling? You don’t think they’re gonna go crazy? And is there any doubt who they’re gonna go crazy against?
And then there’s Trump’s picks. His attorney general is Sessions from Alabama—who got turned down for a federal judgeship by Republicans back in the 1980s for being too much of an out-there racist. His top advisor is Bannon, who brags that the website he ran was the “platform for the alt-right”—and the alt-right are a bunch of Nazis. There’s Ben Carson in charge of housing, that Tom who opposes all government assistance and says that if Black people are poor it’s their own fault. What do you think is going to happen to the rights to free expression and political resistance, to voting rights, to hate crimes (they’re already going through the roof), to public housing and so on down the line?
And the jobs Trump promises? If they happen at all, they’ll be minimum wage or below (and don’t be surprised when he puts even more people in prison to work for next to nothing).
Yes, there’s been a reign of terror. But this is gonna be a reign of terror ON TOP OF a reign of terror. Here’s a parallel to think about: After the Civil War, there were 11 years of Reconstruction in the South, where the former slaves got democratic rights and some land. Then there was a close, contested election in 1876, and a deal got made where the winner agreed to pull out federal protection. In the next few years, the Ku Klux Klan killed thousands of Black people, stripped people of their rights, and took almost all the land that people had been able to obtain. This kind of slam back and worse could be what goes down.
But there’s a bigger question. Trump’s already made clear he’s going after Muslims, after immigrants, after women, and after gay people with a vengeance... he’s made clear he’s gonna foul the environment on a level never seen before (and it’s already close to disaster)... he’s made clear he’s gonna be a warmonger. The kind of narrowness that comes at things from “what might this do to me” out, as if that’s the only question, is never any good and never justified—no matter where it comes from.
There’s a chance now to stop the horror, to stop it before it starts. Not a cinch, not a guarantee, but a chance—one worth fighting for. And the stakes for anyone who cares about the fate of Black people, as well as the people and planet as a whole, are very, very high.
ICE Raids Round Up and Terrorize Immigrants Across the Country—
This Offensive Must Be Resisted
February 13, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
In cities across the country, in the first weeks of the fascist Trump/Pence regime, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents have been rounding up and terrorizing immigrants. In response, different people and groups have been taking righteous stands. Here are some examples:
Shaun King, senior justice writer at the New York Daily News and a major voice on social media, sent out this retweet:
The United We Dream organization, an immigrants rights nonprofit based in DC, has put out a call #HereToStay Network where people sign on to a pledge saying: “I am ready to support immigrants at risk of deportation by the Trump regime. I pledge to physically show up for immigrants in my community when they need me...” Over 21,400 have signed up as of February 12.
An Indian-American writer and New York Times columnist, Anand Giridharadas, said in a series of tweets: “The raids have begun. There are reports of agents going door-to-door seeking people’s papers. This is not a test... Yes, we have a Fourth Amendment. But some of our most vulnerable neighbors, in this most frenzied moment, may not correctly assert rights. We are closer than we think to large numbers of Americans sheltering and hiding neighbors. I never dreamed I’d live in such an America. This is getting grave fast. Faxing to reps, giving to the ACLU, lobbying Nordstrom were first steps. But how does a free people resist ICE?”
The following is some background around the raids by Trump’s ICE gestapo:
Since Wednesday, February 8, ICE has been carrying out a surge of attacks on immigrants in at least the following: Los Angeles; New York City; Chicago; Atlanta; North Carolina; South Carolina; Austin and San Antonio, Texas; Florida; Kansas; and Washington, DC.
In Phoenix, a 36-year-old mother of two was arrested inside the U.S. immigration office after she had reported to them, just as she had been doing every six months for several years. Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos had lived in this country for 22 years, coming here with her parents when she was 14—only weeks after the cut-off date for those who qualified for deferred deportation that Obama put in place. In order to take her away, ICE agents had to force their way through 100 or more immigrant rights defenders who had mobilized immediately after word went out and blocked the van with their bodies. Seven protesters were arrested, and Guadalupe was driven directly from the Immigration office to the Mexican border and deported.
In the Los Angeles area, ICE arrested at least 160 immigrants. One Department of Homeland (DHS) official said about those arrested, “We’re talking about people who are threats to public safety...” and that the majority of those detained were serious criminals, including some who had been convicted of murder. But in fact many of the people targeted had simply been facing deportation orders but had no criminal background. And on top of that, ICE also arrested people who were simply in the same home who lacked documents. Close to 200 protesters responded rapidly to oppose the raids as word broke out. They blocked the driveway in downtown LA where ICE buses were trying to leave; and then they marched to and blocked the nearby entrance to the 101 Freeway.
In other parts of the country, similar stories have been told, exposing that what ICE is doing is not limited to “targeting criminals,” but is arresting anyone they get their hands on who is undocumented. A regional field director for CASA (Court Appointed Support Advocates) in Baltimore County, Maryland, said, “We’re not trying to sow hysteria here,... But it is fair to say we are seeing new tactics across the county.” One small group of people was stopped by ICE agents after they left a courthouse where they had gone to pay a driving ticket. And people reported being arrested after showing up for check-in meetings with the authorities, similar to what took place in Phoenix. In an area inside the DC Beltway, ICE targeted a community of garden apartments where more than 1,000 Latino immigrants live. Twice in one week, ICE staked out one of the apartment complexes and arrested men as they were leaving for work.
An immigration lawyer in Atlanta said she had heard reports of ICE agents going door-to-door in one largely Latino neighborhood asking people to present their papers. A video from Austin that circulated on social media appeared to show ICE agents arresting people in a shopping center parking lot. It was also reported that there were roadway checkpoints where ICE agents were targeting immigrants for random ID checks. After a week of DHS officials claiming that none of this was the result of Trump’s order, the fascist-in-chief sent out a tweet: “The crackdown on illegal criminals is merely the keeping of my campaign promise. Gang members, drug dealers & others are being removed!”
Amnesty International USA released a statement February 11 condemning the raids and calling for their suspension: “It is a violation of human rights to tear families apart through deportation,” Amnesty International executive director Margaret Huang said in a statement: “We call for an immediate pause in these raids and a suspension of this executive order in order to ensure that people’s human rights are protected.”
In a matter of days, these gangsters have struck terror in the hearts of millions and millions of people of this country who happen to be immigrants. The nightmare that so many people, children as well as parents have been living with for years is coming true. Families torn apart. Children not going to school for fear their parents will be taken away. Refugees from Central America whose claims have been denied now facing a far greater likelihood of being deported and being sent to their likely death.
This situation demands that people everywhere respond—to take a stand and act. These immigrants under vicious attack are our people—their humanity, and our own, are at stake. We have to stand shoulder to shoulder with them—NOW!
First Deportation Under Trump’s Fascist Order on Immigrants:
“We're living in a new era now, an era of war on immigrants"
Updated February 13, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On Wednesday, February 8, 200 immigrant rights supporters rushed to the U.S. Immigration office in Phoenix, Arizona as word went out that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents had just arrested a 36-year-old mother of two children and were going to deport her. Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos, the immigrant who was arrested, has been living, working, and raising a family in this country since coming here with her parents when she was 14.
Donald Trump has issued three executive orders radically escalating the war on immigrants: the ban on Muslim immigrants and refugees from seven countries; one threatening sanctuary jurisdictions; and a third that orders government agencies “to deploy all lawful means to secure the Nation’s southern border, to prevent further illegal immigration into the United States.” In the context of a campaign filled with vicious lies and threats against immigrants, that opens the door to deportation of any and every undocumented immigrant in this country. In that light, Ray A. Ybarra Maldonado, Garcia de Rayos’ lawyer, described what this arrest represents: “We are living in a new era now, an era of war on immigrants.”
For hours the protesters blocked enforcement vans from leaving the U.S. Immigration office in Phoenix. A group sat down in front of the van Guadalupe was in, while one protester wrapped his arm around the axle inside the tire well. At 10 p.m., as people chanted “Power to the people, no one is illegal,” police arrested seven demonstrators. Sometime after that the van left, but no one was told, not even her family, whether Guadalupe was sent to a detention facility or taken to the border and deported. In fact, she was immediately deported. The fact that there was no legitimate purpose to single out Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos for arrest and deportation at this time sends an ominous message among immigrants that from now on, no one is safe. Her daughter, in tears, said: “To me this is an injustice. She has always worked to give us a good education.”
Guadalupe was arrested on Wednesday when she went to the immigration office to check in with ICE officials, the same way she had been doing, every six months, since 2009. In 2008 she was arrested in one of the work-site raids carried out by former Maricopa County Sheriff, the pig Joe Arpaio. Those raids have since been challenged in the courts as being unconstitutional. Garcia de Rayos entered a guilty plea for “identity theft” because she had been working with false papers. People in this country without papers, trying to feed themselves and their families, often must use phony IDs to get work. Despite her conviction, for eight years she had been allowed to live in Arizona, as long as she reported every six months to ICE. This time, in the wake of Trump’s order, Guadalupe was arrested and deported.
One young protester said, “Lupita was a victim of Arpaio’s raids, and now she’s a victim of Trump’s deportation machine.”
Sign of What’s to Come
Trump launched his presidential campaign by declaring he is an “America First,” anti-immigrant bigot. He has worked overtime to criminalize immigrants from Mexico, calling them “rapists,” “criminals,” and “drug dealers.” Trump has repeatedly made clear his intention to have everyone in this country without documents deported. And he has called for three million undocumented immigrants to be deported this year.
His new Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, is just as rabid a xenophobic bigot as Trump. In his statement when sworn in, he made it clear that in his eyes, there is no place at all in this country for undocumented immigrants, and there will be no path to citizenship—regardless of how many years of brutal exploitation, degradation, and fear they have endured or the magnitude of the contributions they have made. He said, “We need a lawful system of immigration. One that serves the interests of the people of the United States... We admit a million people a year plus, lawfully, and we need to end this lawlessness that threatens the public safety, pulls down wages of working Americans.” Sessions wasted no time getting the deportation machine in gear—he met with law enforcement officials involved with immigration roundups even before he was approved by the Senate.
Obama earned himself the title “Deporter-in-Chief” from immigration activists after he topped the two million mark for deportations during his presidency—the highest number of deportations under any administration in the history of this country. Trump’s fascist regime now threatens to bring horror on top of horror. His executive order calls for a dramatic increase in Border Patrol agents and an increase in the number of immigrant detention centers. In order to fill their “quotas,” immigration agents are already targeting people for deportable “crimes” as minor as a traffic infraction—or the eight-year-old victimless “crime” committed by Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos who was only trying to get work to support herself and others.
Further, as we wrote about Trump’s executive order on immigrants:
Trump is not just targeting people with criminal convictions. Also in his sights are people who “have been charged with any criminal offense, where such charge has not been resolved” (emphasis added), and people who “In the judgment of an immigration officer, otherwise pose a risk to public safety or national security,” and people engaged in “fraud or willful misrepresentation....” In other words, anyone who has committed the “crime” of being an immigrant working at some crap job in this country. Anyone picked up while they’re waiting for a bus or coming out of a subway station speaking Spanish. Anyone who some racist cop thinks looks “suspicious,” or maybe just “looks Latino,” and gets hauled to jail. Anyone languishing in a county jail month after month, never charged with anything. Anyone who overstayed a student visa, or made a minor mistake on a visa application. (From “Trump Criminalizes Millions of Immigrants and Threatens ‘Sanctuary Cities’”)
The coming to power of the Trump-Pence fascists has already struck fear in immigrant communities around the country: Men and women dreading the possibility of being arrested at work, their children left to come home to find out their parents have been taken away and deported. And children terrified that they will come home and find their parents have been taken away. These kinds of conversations are taking place among five-year-old children in elementary schools. A spokesperson for Puente Arizona, the immigrant rights group that rallied supporters to rush to the Phoenix immigration station, said he anticipates that other undocumented immigrants who have been released on supervision like Guadalupe will stop checking in with ICE and go into hiding.
The plans of this fascist regime are inhumane and criminal, and must be resisted. The response of those who stopped the ICE buses in Phoenix is righteous—and everyone revolted by the Trump-Pence fascist regime has to be prepared to join them.
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.
Between 1850 and 1900, Chinese immigrants were super-exploited in the mines, fields, and railways, and were subjected to savage discrimination and repression, including lynch-mob pogroms.
Beginning in 1848, immediately after invading and seizing over half of Mexico’s land, including the entire state of California, American capitalists began to lure Chinese immigrants to fill their huge thirst for cheap labor for their westward expansion, which was fueled by the California gold rush, and to build the transcontinental railroad. These (nearly all male) immigrants were worked like pack animals in horrific conditions from dusk to dawn and in extreme weather. They were crammed into tiny tents, and were fed and slept on wooden cots. In one incident, when the workers went on strike, the company cut off all food supplies to the remote work camps and starved them for a week.
The role of Chinese immigrants in building the railroads is a story of its own—truly an incredible feat of human sacrifice and inhuman suffering. They shoveled, chipped and drilled holes for explosives, and scrambled up the lines while gunpowder exploded below them along the granite mountain surface. They labored through 60-foot snowdrifts, tunneling, blasting and laying railway tracks. Chinese women were mainly prevented from immigrating unless they could prove they were of “good character” (that is, were not prostitutes), yet some were brought into the U.S. (or bought or kidnapped) to be exactly that.
When Chinese immigrants died in America, it was a common practice for their ashes or bones to be sent back to the villages they had come from in China. In 1870, one newspaper reported that 20,000 pounds of bones had been gathered from shallow graves along roadbeds. These were from the bodies of about 1,200 Chinese workers—some of the thousands of Chinese immigrants who died building the railroads.
To pay for passage to America’s “Gold Mountain,” peasant families in China went into debt. Those unable to acquire loans would get “credit tickets”—money advanced by American employers to cover the voyage but which had to be paid back by wages earned over months or even years slaving away in the U.S., as indentured servants.
Railroad companies sent recruiters to China to bring back thousands of workers. Chinese immigrants were crowded into wretched hulls of ships crossing the Pacific Ocean, packed in like cattle with as many as 500 crowded into one hull, and where as many as one-fifth of them died on the voyage.
Corpses of victims of the largest mass lynching in U.S. history, when a white mob of 500 tortured and murdered 17-20 Chinese in downtown Los Angeles, 1871.
Newspaper illustration of anti-Chinese rioting in Denver, Colorado, 1880.
After the gold rush and railroad construction peaked, Chinese immigrants were shifted into the cheap labor pool for the expansion and growth of many other U.S. industries—reclaiming marshes and swamps for California’s agriculture, fishing and canneries, manufacturing (shoes, garments, cigars, etc.), as farmworkers and more. This super-exploitation was a tremendous source of the wealth that contributed greatly to building the U.S. economy in the latter decades of the 19th century.
To enforce this super-exploitation and maintain white supremacy for over half a century (1850-1900), Chinese immigrants in the U.S. were denied the most basic rights and were subjected to officially sanctioned racist violence and terror that rose to fever pitches during the economic depressions of the late 1870s and 1890s.
The infamous Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 was the first law enacted by Congress to prevent a specific ethnic group from immigrating to the U.S. It prevented Chinese in the U.S. from re-entering without certificates. It barred Chinese residents in the U.S. from acquiring citizenship. This official denial of rights opened the door to all other forms of legal and political attacks on them. It meant families permanently separated. The mainly Chinese male immigrant population could not bring over family members, even a spouse, and also were not allowed to marry whites. This cruel act was not repealed until 1943, and Chinese and other race-based quotas for immigration was U.S. law until 1965.
Scores of municipal, state and federal laws were passed between the mid-1800s and early 1900s that targeted Chinese. There were racist, xenophobic laws that made Chinese ineligible to testify against whites, even for murder. This legally protected white vigilante killers from prosecution.
There were laws that prohibited Chinese from attending public schools, owning real estate or getting business licenses and government contracts; that legalized a California state holiday to allow public anti-Chinese demonstrations; that limited Chinese who could arrive on one ship to 15; that prohibited Chinese the right to bail and habeas corpus; that prevented the hiring of Chinese or forced them out of work in industries they were driven into after the gold rush and railroad completion.
The laws and official attacks unleashed xenophobic mob violence. Gangs of whites stormed through segregated Chinese immigrant ghettos (a/k/a Chinatowns), burning homes and looting shops, shooting, lynching, scalping and branding the victims with hot irons. In one incident, a mob sliced off a Chinese miner’s genitals. In another, they tied a man to a wagon wheel driven at high speed until he was decapitated. In yet another, a Chinese was beaten to death and his corpse mutilated, which was commonly done. In 1885, in Rock Springs, Wyoming—a coal mining center along the Union Pacific Railroad—white vigilantes massacred 28 Chinese miners and left many others wounded.
In 1871, the largest mass lynching in U.S. history took place as a white mob of 500 tortured and murdered 17-20 Chinese in downtown Los Angeles. In the late 1800s, throughout California, anti-Chinese mobs spread like wild fire—Fresno, Sacramento, Los Angeles, Pasadena, San Jose, Stockton, Napa, Chico, Vallejo, Locke, Santa Cruz, Redding, Sonoma, Hollister, Vacaville, Truckee, Petaluma, San Francisco, Placerville, Nevada City, Carson, Yuba City, Santa Rosa, Lincoln and Wheatland. The ethnic cleansing of Chinese went on in other states—in Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Wyoming and beyond.
There is a glaring lack of understanding—and a crying need for people to understand—that there is a system whose basic contradictions and dynamics set the terms of things in a fundamental sense; and for people to be given, in a living and compelling way, a materialist analysis and a materialist estimate, as Lenin put it, of how this system actually works and the role of different classes and social forces in relation to all this.
Bob Avakian, BAsics 4:3
There was a larger global context for this crime in the U.S. Thousands of Chinese were being driven to America as a direct result of imperialist plunder and domination of China. Britain, France and the U.S. had carved up China into “spheres of influence” for foreign trade, opium traffic and missionaries. In the mid-1800s, China was defeated in two Opium Wars, first with England, then with England and France. As a result, China was forced to buy opium from the British and to pay war reparations to England and France, and open its borders to unrestricted exploitation by the Western powers. Foreign-owned manufacturing crushed local industry. And to pay reparations to the colonial powers, the Chinese government hit the people with huge tax increases. The horrible conditions of the Chinese people, who were overwhelmingly peasants at the time, became even worse and drove people to seek work in the U.S.
Leland Stanford was one of the foremost criminals. He built his empire as an industrialist, making millions as president of the Southern Pacific Railroad and later the Central Pacific Railroad. Leland Stanford was elected governor of California in 1861 and became a U.S. senator from 1885 to 1893. In a speech to the California legislature in 1862, he said: “The presence of numbers of that degraded and distinct people would exercise a deleterious [harmful] effect upon the superior [white] race.”
He was a partner in the railroad business with others such as Charles Crocker. Crocker used starvation tactics to break a strike by Chinese railroad workers. He also used his posse of well-armed white men to enforce this.
The use of official and unofficial violence worked together to enforce the super-exploitation and racist oppression of the Chinese immigrants.
This societal culture gave birth to populist union leaders like Dennis Kearny and his Workingman’s Party. Kearny said: “To be an American, death is preferable to life on a par with the Chinese.” He fanned the slogan “the Chinese must go!”
And the Los Angeles Times wrote in 1892: “White men and women who desire to earn a living have for some time been entering into quiet protest against vinyardists and packers employing Chinese in preference to whites.”
Through legal and extra-legal means, the ruling class mobilized U.S. society, including by using its press/media and mass culture, to broadly promote that the Chinese were responsible for taking the jobs of white workers, and driving down wages. Along with this, Chinese immigrants were depicted as inherently evil and sinister foreigners who caused all of America’s economic and social problems. It was said that they were importing mysterious exotic diseases, drugs and prostitution that had to be kept out of the U.S., and that those Chinese already here should submit to being exploited or else “choose to” live in fear.
The owners and operators of the capitalist press played a role in whipping up xenophobic, white supremacist hysteria. For example, in 1873, the San Francisco Chronicle wrote: “Who have built a filthy nest of iniquity and rottenness in our very midst? The Chinese. Who filled our workshops to the exclusion of white labor? The Chinese. Who drives away white labor by their stealthy but successful competition? The Chinese.” The paper’s owner, William Randolph Hearst, coined the phrase and promoted the racist fear of the “yellow peril.”
The Actual Motive
As a pool of super-exploitable labor, the Chinese were brought into the U.S.—some may even have been kidnapped—to build up the foundation of the U.S. economy at a time when it was expanding and needed this vast and cheap labor. But by the 1860s, mining was no longer profitable and the Chinese immigrants who came joined displaced gold miners working to build the railroads. By the 1880s, the U.S. capitalists did not have the same need for this cheap labor pool as they had in earlier decades. The California gold rush ended in 1855, the first transcontinental railway was completed by 1869, other industries had gotten off the ground, and the U.S. was mired in recession by the late 1870s. Southern plantation owners had stopped importing Chinese labor as the system of sharecropping and Jim Crow became more established.
Also, the decision to exclude Chinese immigrants forcibly asserted and helped maintain social cohesion based on white supremacy, particularly in the state of California. Targeting Chinese at a time of economic recession was a means of directing the anger and resentment of many lower-class whites (including in the labor movement) against the immigrants and away from the capitalist system itself as the cause of their misery. It also opened up certain jobs for white workers. And it served to prevent the growth of the non-white Chinese immigrant population (and in fact the Exclusion Act did radically diminish it).
The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 (renewed in 1892 and 1902) set precedent for legally discriminating against an entire group of people based solely on ethnicity and country of origin.
Revolutionary Worker (now revcom.us), February 16, 1997, “Sacramento Delta Blues: Chinese Workers and the building of the California Lees, 1860-1880”
Wikipedia—Chinese Exclusion Act, Leland Stanford, Charles Crocker, History of Chinese-Americans
High Stakes in Trump's War on Sanctuary Jurisdictions
February 13, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Editor’s note: The following is an update and rewrite of an earlier version of this article that was first posted on February 10.
On January 25, Donald Trump signed an executive order that paves the way for a major escalation in persecution and terror aimed at immigrants. As a cutting edge of that attack, the order threatens “sanctuary jurisdictions”— cities, counties, and states that refuse to detain undocumented immigrants who have been arrested for minor offenses and not convicted of any crime, so they can be deported by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE). And shortly after Trump’s executive order, ICE conducted highly publicized and egregiously vicious raids in areas around the country, ripping parents from their children, grabbing people on their way to or from work, banging on doors, deporting people who have lived the vast majority of their lives in this country, and terrorizing and sending shock waves throughout immigrant communities.
In response, there is growing struggle of thousands of people standing with the immigrants and against the persecution, raids, and deportations. That resistance is just and must grow, and the sanctuary movement must be supported and strengthened, both because of the stakes of this battle for tens of millions, and because right now it is a key front in the battle to resist and drive out the Trump-Pence fascist regime.
What Are “Sanctuary Jurisdictions”?
Many states, counties, and cities have laws and policies that provide undocumented immigrants with some legal rights and access to services that allow them to function and survive. In 12 states and the District of Columbia, undocumented people can get driver’s licenses. Many cities issue their own form of government IDs that allow undocumented people access to some services ranging from medical care to school enrollment to library cards. States, counties, and cities, but also schools, social service agencies, and other institutions, have policies that they will not inquire as to the immigration status of people seeking their services. In addition, there is a wide range of public and private institutions—colleges and universities; churches, mosques, synagogues—that offer different degrees and forms of sanctuary, up to and including announcing they will defy and resist any attempt to detain or deport undocumented people.
The specific policy targeted by Trump’s executive order is the policy of not holding undocumented people in local jails simply in order to deport them. The cities and some other jurisdictions that are under attack do send information on everyone they detain to ICE, as required by federal law. But if ICE determines that someone being held is undocumented, and requests that the person be held for deportation, sanctuary jurisdictions do not honor those requests. There is nothing illegal about that. Even more to the point, turning people over to ICE to be deported because they violated traffic laws, or open-bottle laws, or are accused of other violations, is cruel, vicious, and unconscionable. These policies of sanctuary jurisdictions are a layer of protection for people who would otherwise be living completely in the shadows, in constant fear that any encounter with law enforcement can tear a family apart, ruin lives, and send people—even people who have lived in this country almost their entire lives—out of the country.
If sanctuary jurisdictions are destroyed or crippled, life will get far, far worse for immigrants. Millions of immigrants who today—if they manage to avoid getting into legal trouble—are able to at least live, work, and go to school, will be forced into conditions where they cannot even do that. This will have an unimaginable impact on millions and millions of immigrants—documented and undocumented—as well as their friends, their families. It will open the door to criminalizing doctors, teachers, and others who provide services to undocumented people without turning them in for deportation. It will have a horrible impact on society as a whole. It simply CANNOT GO DOWN!
And this attack on sanctuary jurisdictions is not just some scattershot, terrible thing. It is a terrible thing, but it is a key piece of the whole vision and mission of the Trump-Pence fascist regime: demonization, persecution, and driving immigrants out of the U.S.—at least ones who don’t fit into their definition of “white”—and is central and essential to their hellish agenda to “Make America White Again.” For them, there is no turning back in the war on immigrants. They have whipped up mobs of people who believe they are “entitled” to going back—way back—to a nightmarish era of U.S. history, and worse. That requires the violent ethnic cleansing of America.
What people have done so far in response to Trump’s all-out war on immigrants has been very important and inspiring. The outpourings of tens of thousands of people at airports in response to Trump’s ban on Muslims from seven countries entering the U.S., along with the massive women’s marches the day after Trump’s inauguration, sent a message to the world that there was profound, widespread outrage. The direct action people took, for example, to attempt to prevent the deportation of Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos in Phoenix was righteous—and everyone revolted by the Trump-Pence fascist regime has to be prepared to take that kind of stand.
There is some complexity to the battle around sanctuary jurisdictions. They are concessions to decades of struggle and resistance to attacks on immigrants, but these concessions are limited. Even in sanctuary jurisdictions, undocumented immigrants still live precarious lives. In some states and large cities, in particular, high-level Democratic Party officials do have real and sharp differences with Trump’s attack on sanctuary jurisdictions and have spoken out defiantly. Even as their starting point is not the fundamental humanity of immigrants, they fear the tremendous economic, social, and political disruption if Trump’s policies are implemented. All of this points to a need for people to join in to not just defend, but expand the protection of sanctuary jurisdictions.
The battle to defend immigrants and sanctuary jurisdictions is life-and-death in its own right. And there are even bigger stakes. Trump’s threats against sanctuary jurisdictions take place in the context of, and in service of, the regime moving to tighten a death grip on the levers of state power. It is connected to moves to tear down other state-, county-, and city-based concessions like protection for LGBT rights, civil rights ordinances, and environmental protection rules. In response to moves to make California a sanctuary state, Trump threatened, “If we have to, we’ll defund.” And then he said, “California in many ways is out of control, as you know.” All of this has the potential to become a flashpoint in society, eruptions of conflict that could prove pivotal to whether or not the Trump-Pence fascist regime can fully consolidate power.
Attacks on immigrants and sanctuary jurisdictions specifically must be resisted! Sanctuary protections need to be defended and extended. The resistance to attacks on immigrants needs to become more widespread and determined and draw in millions and tens of millions. But the attacks will continue to escalate, to become more terrible and violent, until Trump is driven from office. The battle to defend immigrant rights can, and to have a real lasting impact must, be intensified, and joined in a torrent of struggle to drive out the fascist regime.
February 13, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Mexicans young and old took to the streets in 20 cities on Sunday, February 12, to express their anger and disgust with Donald Trump, organized by some 70 organizations, including business and community organizations, universities, Amnesty International, and more. An estimated 20,000 marched in Mexico City. A professor quoted by CNN said, “We are sending a message to Donald Trump: No wall. No immigrant raids. No aggression to Mexico.” People also condemned Trump’s rhetoric against Muslims and women.
Trump’s attack on undocumented immigrants was principal for most. The images of the arrest and deportation of Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos in Phoenix has had a powerful, galvanizing impact on people, seen as concentrating the treatment that undocumented immigrants are facing under Trump. “I feel disgusted. Quite frankly, you have my community members being yanked from their homes, the streets and their jobs” said a 25-year-old DREAMer who self-deported back to Mexico. Many of those in the streets were condemning Mexico’s President Peña Nieto, carrying signs saying “Fuera Peña,” or “Peña Out.” A woman in Mexico City carried a sign saying: “Trump: Bad hombre for the whole world.”
Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche (Americanah) in The New Yorker, December 2, 2016
"Now is not the time to tiptoe around historical references. Recalling Nazism is not extreme; it is the astute response of those who know that history gives both context and warning."
Statement from Faculty at the University of Southern California, published in the Los Angeles Times, March 23, 2017
We are USC Faculty.
We are scientists, artists, and thinkers from over 115 countries, working together every day, side by side, to understand the world around us and to share what we’ve learned with future generations.
We proudly affirm the core mission of the university as a place for the generation of knowledge, the preservation of scholarship, and informed discussion and debate, all of which are vital to a healthy democracy.
We will vigorously defend our core values of academic freedom, high standards of evidence, free inquiry, openness, and inclusion against policies and actions driven by fear, bigotry, and propaganda.
We are committed to:
— protecting the human rights of our students, our fellow faculty, staff, and all members of the USC community, irrespective of their race, gender, sexual orientation, ability, religion, nationality, or citizenship status.
— supporting and encouraging all university efforts to provide critical resources for staff, students and faculty who are most vulnerable and at greatest risk.
— supporting faculty, students, and staff who engage in civil disobedience and protest if members of the academic community are harmed or deported due to targeted state actions.
We will Fight On!
Shaun King: “No President who ever owned human beings should be honored”
In his article "No President who ever owned human beings should be honored" on March 15, Shaun King wrote in the New York Daily News that Adolf Hitler "is a monster who should never be honored," and continued:
Just as this is true for Hitler, it is true for any American President who ever owned human beings and forced them into a life of slavery. The Holocaust and slavery are each an unjust disgrace.
King details the monstrous horrors of slavery and then calls out Trump:
Today, Donald Trump is going out of his way to honor President Andrew Jackson. He should never be honored. Over his lifetime his family owned at least 300 human beings. This is terrible and no contribution he made in his life will ever outweigh this fact. To this very day, Andrew Jackson's own estate openly admits that the key source of his wealth came from owning human beings and forcing them to work on his plantation. At the time Jackson died, he owned about 150 people. He was a full-fledged unrepentant bigot. The enslaved Africans on his plantation were often whipped and beaten. If they escaped, fugitive squads searched for them and returned them back to the plantation. One advertisement put out by Jackson for a runaway slave offered $10 for every 100 lashes given to the slave who was caught. Is that not sick to you?
This makes Andrew Jackson a monster. Nothing he did as President of the United States is good enough to look past this.
The same holds true for every single American President who owned human beings.
Michael Bennett, NFL football player, supports the women's strike on International Women's Day
Michael Bennett, who plays for the Seattle Seahawks, who participated in the pro football players’ national anthem protest, and who refused to be a shill for Israel against the Palestinian people (see “Pro Football Player Michael Bennett Refuses to Be a Shill for Israel” Revolution, February 14, 2017, revcom.us), had his statement in support of the women’s strike on International Women’s Day read by Dave Zirin on his podcast.
Here are some excerpts from Bennett’s statement:
“As a Black man in America sometimes I get overwhelmed and discouraged by what I see, from the police killings of unarmed Black men to the unequal educational system to mass incarceration, but when I look into my daughter’s eyes, I see the courage of Harriet Tubman, the patience of Rosa Parks, the soul of Ida B. Wells, the passion of Fanny Lou Hamer, and the heart of Angela Davis. I see the future. I see hope. And, I’m inspired because it will be women who lead the future. So, I’m writing this to express my unconditional solidarity for the women’s strike on International Women’s Day, March 8th.”
“It’s about the women across the Earth who are suffering. Women not so worried about the glass ceiling because they are trying to survive a collapsing floor. It’s about women of color across the Earth who live on less than one dollar a day. It’s about all women who are subject to sexual assault and violence.
“I stand with the women’s strike because I agree with their unity statement that reads that this day is ‘organized by and for women who have been marginalized and silenced by decades of neoliberalism directed towards working women, women of color, Native women, disabled women, immigrant women, Muslim women, and lesbian women.’”
“I encourage my fellow football players to take off their helmets and stand with these brave women across the world.”
“We need change, and to quote Frederick Douglass, ‘Without struggle, there is no progress.’”
Former ABC News Reporters, Executives, Producers Urge Strong Stand Against Trump
As of March 1, more than 230 former ABC News correspondents, executives and producers have signed a letter urging the network’s top executive to take a firm stand against any Trump administration effort to curtail press access. The letter was written after White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer held a briefing on February 24 and, in an unprecedented move, excluded several news organizations that have done stories Trump didn’t like.
The letter called the February 24 incident “an alarming new development enacted by an administration that has declared war on respected news outlets” and asked James Goldston, president of ABC News, to “take a public stand” and “Refuse to take part in any future White House briefings based on an invitation list of who’s in/who’s out.” The letter noted that there has been strong public protest by Dean Baquet, executive editor of the New York Times, and statements by the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg that they would not participate in future briefing where reporters are barred.
Signees include former White House correspondent Sam Donaldson; former ABC reporters Ken Kashiwahara, Jeanne Meserve and Lynn Sherr; four former executives and four former executive producers of “World News Tonight” and top leaders at “Nightline,” “20/20″ and “Good Morning America.” Kayce Freed Jennings, the widow of the late anchor Peter Jennings, was also one of the signers.
ABC News is one of the media organizations Trump has labeled as the “enemy of the American people” and “fake news.” ABC was allowed into the Spicer briefing, while CNN, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Politico and BuzzFeed were denied access. Reporters from other organizations, including the Associated Press, USA Today and Time magazine, refused to attend the briefing in protest.
Tim Rogers at Fusion: Calling Trump "Presidential" Is the First Step to Normalizing Fascism
Tim Rogers is senior editor for Latin America at the cable and satellite TV channel Fusion. After Trump’s February 28 speech to Congress, Rogers wrote a piece titled “Calling Trump’s speech ‘presidential’ is the first step to normalizing fascism” (March 1, 2017) noting that “talking heads were quick to applaud Trump for acting ‘presidential.’” Rogers goes on to say:
But Trump’s speech to Congress was only presidential by fascist standards. What Trump laid out, in the methodical words penned by an ideologue behind the throne, was a frightening vision of a country under siege by foreign hordes that are trying to establish a “beachhead of terrorism” to convert the United States into a “sanctuary for extremists.”
Trump depicted a dark world in which the U.S. is fighting “a network of lawless savages” that it must “extinguish ...from our planet.”
Trump was talking about ISIS in that instance, but his fear-mongering over foreigners wasn’t limited to Islamic State fighters any more than the travel ban was limited to Muslims from seven countries. The narrative of barbarians at the gate was woven throughout Trump’s speech, which seemed to build on George W. Bush’s worldview of “You’re either with us, or against us.” But Trump’s view is even racist and alienating by W’s standards.
From his call to build a border wall as “a very effective weapon against drugs and crime,” to reiterating his appallingly cynical pledge to create a new Homeland Security Office to “serve American victims” of crimes committed by immigrants, Trump’s whole speech was to lay out a dichotomy of us versus them, or “America first” in Trumpspeak. ...
When the speech was over, Trump lackeys congratulated themselves on a “home run”—actually, make that a “grand slam.”
But even normally critical pundits said they thought Trump looked “presidential.”
That’s dangerous thinking. Calling Trump’s fear-mongering “presidential” is a first step to normalizing fascism. It’s granting acceptance to the dangerous fascists skulking behind the golden curtains of the Oval Office.
Anderson Cooper 360° ✔ @AC360: Van Jones: Trump “became President of the United States” when he honored the widow of the Navy SEAL killed in Yemen. ...
In an America where Trump’s speech can be called “presidential,” it’ll be a slippery slope to despotism.
"I am vowing, here and now, not to show papers in this situation"
“American citizens had their introduction to the Trump-era immigration machine Wednesday...” So begins “Papers, Please,” an article that appeared in The Atlantic online on February 27, about the February 22 domestic flight from SFO to JFK airport where every passenger was told by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents to show their ID before they could get off the plane. The agents claimed they were looking for a passenger who was undocumented and had a criminal record; it turned out that the person they sought was not on the plane.
In the article, written by Garrett Epps, legal scholar, novelist, and contributing editor to TheAtlantic, he examines all possible legal authorities and concludes that there is no justification in U.S. law for what was done to the passengers on that plane. And then Epps, demonstrating the courage of his convictions, writes:
“I am vowing, here and now, not to show papers in this situation. I know that it will take gumption to follow through if the situation arises. What will be the reaction of ordinary travelers, some with outstanding warrants or other legal worries? Should we expect heroism of people who just want to get off an airplane?”
"I wasn't pulled out because I'm some kind of revolutionary activist, but my God, I am now." Mem Fox's Terrifying Detention at the Los Angeles Airport
Mem Fox, an award winning author from Australia, was pulled off an airplane when she arrived at Los Angeles International Airport and held in detention for almost two hours and interrogated for 15 minutes. In an op-ed article in The Guardian, she tells of her terrifying, belligerent, and violent experience.
She describes the room “like a waiting room in a hospital but a bit more grim than that.... There was no water, no toilet... Everything was yelled...” She said that she “heard things happening in that room happening to other people that made me ashamed to be human.”
She describes an elderly Iranian woman in a wheelchair where they were yelling at her at the top of their voices—“Arabic? Arabic?” They screamed at her “ARABIC?” She told them “Farsi.” A woman from Taiwan was being yelled at about how she made her money: Does it grow on trees? Does it fall from the sky?” Mem said, “...the agony I was surrounded by in that room was like a razor blade across my heart.”
When she was called to be interviewed, she was degraded, and called it “monstrous.” She told them that she writes books about exclusivity. She had one of her books in her bag and said, “I am all about inclusivity, humanity and the oneness of the humans of the world; it’s the theme of my life.” He yelled at her, “I can read!” She was standing the whole time and said, “The belligerence and violence of it was really terrifying. I had to hold the heel of my right hand to my heart to stop it beating so hard.”
Interview with Claudia Koonz, Historian and Author of The Nazi Conscience
Claudia Koonz is a historian of Nazi Germany and the author of Mothers in the Fatherland: Women, the Family and Nazi Politics, The Nazi Conscience, and other works. She was interviewed on The Michael Slate Show on KPFK Pacifica Radio on February 10. This is a transcript of the interview, slightly edited for length and clarity.
Michael Slate: In broad strokes, let’s talk about how fascism developed in Germany.
Claudia Koonz: OK. First of all, let’s remember that nobody ever heard of Hitler until the early 1930s. He was unemployed. The only steady job he ever had in his life was when he fought in World War I for four years. He was quite brave.
This was a splinter party. As late as 1928, ten years after the defeat in World War I, the Nazis got 2.6% of the vote. 1930, they got 18% of the vote. 1932 they were up to the high point ever, 37.4% of the vote. So, the Nazis were never voted into power. Hitler was appointed into power.
So the question is, how did this disreputable, fringe party of loudmouth, brawling Stormtroopers get from a tiny splinter party to the center in 1932, which put Hitler in position to get appointed as chancellor?
John Legend: "Are we going to just accept inhumanity, or are we going to resist?"
The singer John Legend has won ten Grammy Awards, one Golden Globe Award, and one Academy Award. He will be playing Frederick Douglass in the second season of the WGN series Underground. In a recent interview in the New York Times Magazine he was asked, “Has there been a piece of art that has affected you politically?” He replied:
Books have certainly affected me. In college, I took a class that centered on a book called “Obedience to Authority,” which was trying to explain why an ordinary German would be a worker at a concentration camp, or why anyone would be part of a system that is so evil and corrosive, and how they deal with authority and whatever cognitive dissonance they need to have to do something so inhumane. Then we read some James Joyce and Virginia Woolf; all those books in that class opened my eyes to the way human beings deal with authority and deal with how we become inhumane. I took those classes 20 years ago, but I’ve been thinking about that a lot when I think about how we’re reacting to Donald Trump right now.
The interviewer then asked, “How are you applying that thought process to contemporary times?” Legend said:
Yeah, are we just going to go about our lives and try to be normal? I’ve seen a tweet going around about how a lot of people say that they would have been part of the civil rights movement, so this is basically that chance, this moment of truth for our society. Are we going to just accept inhumanity, or are we going to resist?
Read the New York Times Magazine interview with John Legend here.
Ann Frank Center for Mutual Respect Condemns Trump’s So-Called “Condemnation” of Anti-Semitic Attacks
On February 21, Donald Trump issued a statement supposedly condemning anti-Semitic attacks on Jewish institutions. At his February 16 press conference, Trump had insulted and bullied a correspondent from an Orthodox Jewish news agency who asked if Trump could condemn the wave of threats against Jewish institutions. Trump cut him off, yelled “quiet!” and “sit down” and ranted that this was “a very insulting question.” Trump then declared himself “the least anti-Semitic person that you've ever seen in your entire life” while refusing the reporter’s request to condemn attacks on Jewish institutions. Days after this, on February 20, Jewish community centers in ten states were targeted with bomb threats and forced to evacuate. There were also 170 graves at an historic Jewish cemetery in Missouri desecrated in the last few days.
Immediately after Trump’s February 21st statement, the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect posted a response on Facebook. The Center takes inspiration from Anne Frank, a Jewish teenager hunted down and killed by the Nazis. Her Diary is a famous chronicle of hiding out from the Nazis. The center “calls out prejudice, counters discrimination and advocates for the kinder and fairer world of which Anne Frank dreamed.”
The statement said in part:
The President’s sudden acknowledgement is a Band-Aid on the cancer of Antisemitism that has infected his own Administration. His statement today is a pathetic asterisk of condescension after weeks in which he and his staff have committed grotesque acts and omissions reflecting Antisemitism, yet day after day have refused to apologize and correct the record. Make no mistake: The Antisemitism coming out of this Administration is the worst we have ever seen from any Administration. The White House repeatedly refused to mention Jews in its Holocaust remembrance, and had the audacity to take offense when the world pointed out the ramifications of Holocaust denial. And it was only yesterday, President’s Day, that Jewish Community Centers across the nation received bomb threats, and the President said absolutely nothing.
Berkeley Law School Faculty and Staff: #NoBanNoWall
Members of Berkeley Law (University of California, Berkeley School of Law) are taking a public stand against Trump’s executive orders intensifying repression against immigrants and on the U.S.-Mexico border through a #NoBanNoWall photo project. Close-up photos of faculty and staff members show them with handwritten or printed signs.
Their statement reads:
President Trump’s immigration executive orders, enforcement actions, and xenophobic threats directly impact members of our law school community.
They undermine the public mission of our university to ensure access to the talented pool of students and researchers that reflects the diversity in the State of California and the world.
They attack the ability of the university to fulfill its unique role as a site for the generation of knowledge and the free exchange of ideas among students, faculty, and staff of all nationalities, backgrounds, and creeds.
They threaten our values of diversity and inclusion, which ensure a vibrant democracy.
We oppose the executive orders and President Trump’s attacks on certain communities.
We are committed to maintaining the law school as a just and inclusive community.
"Hands Off Our Revolution"—More than 200 Artists Around the World Say "We will not go quietly"
When you go to the website, Hands Off Our Revolution, the first thing you see is the flashing words: HANDS OFF OUR BORDERS... WATER... AIR... LAND... CITIES... HOMES... PLANET... BODIES... HEALTH... JUSTICE... FRIENDS... FAMILIES... LOVES.... LIVES...
More than 200 artists, writers, photographers, musicians and curators from around the world—including well-known figures such as Anish Kapoor, Steve McQueen, Laurie Anderson, Ed Ruscha, Matthew Barney, Rosalind Krauss, Maya Lin, Hank Willis Thomas, Catherine Opie, Yinka Shonibare, David Byrne, and Michael Stipe—have joined this spirit of resistance, signing the following Mission Statement:
We are a global coalition affirming the radical nature of art. We believe that art can help counter the rising rhetoric of right-wing populism, fascism and the increasingly stark expressions of xenophobia, racism, sexism, homophobia and unapologetic intolerance.
We know that freedom is never granted—it is won. Justice is never given—it is exacted. Both must be fought for and protected, yet their promise has seldom been so fragile, so close to slipping from our grasp, as at this moment.
As artists, it is our job and our duty to reimagine and reinvent social relations threatened by right-wing populist rule. It is our responsibility to stand together in solidarity. We will not go quietly. It is our role and our opportunity, using our own particular forms, private and public spaces, to engage people in thinking together and debating ideas, with clarity, openness and resilience.
The website also announces a project to do a “series of contemporary art exhibitions and actions that confront, head on, the rise of right-wing populism in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere... to help envision and shape the world in which we want to live.”
The Mission Statement in 10 different languages and the full description of the project are online at handsoffourrevolution.com.
"I want to be a voice for the voiceless": Pro Football Player Michael Bennett Refuses to Be a Shill for Israel
Bennett, who plays in the NFL (National Football League) for the Seattle Seahawks, announced he will not be joining an NFL delegation to Israel.
Bennett has been involved in the struggle by professional athletes to protest police brutality. He took up the protest in the NFL started by San Francisco 49er Colin Kaepernick, who refused to stand for the national anthem. Bennett called for white athletes to take a stand against police murders, saying “You need a white guy to join the fight. The white guy is super important to the fight. For people to really see social injustices, there must be someone from the other side of the race who recognizes the problem, because a lot of times if just one race says there’s a problem, nobody is realistic about it.” Bennett has also posted photos and quotes from Black Panther leader Fred Hampton on his Instagram page.
Bennett had originally planned to be on the delegation because he wanted to have interaction with both Palestinian and Israeli people. But he learned from an article in the Times of Israel that the trip would isolate him from the Palestinian people and turn him into a “goodwill ambassador.” Then he read an open letter in The Nation magazine, signed by John Carlos, Danny Glover, Harry Belafonte, Alice Walker, and others calling on the athletes to ”reconsider taking this trip to ensure you are standing on the right side of history.”
Bennett then wrote an open letter that he posted on Instagram and Twitter.
Meryl Streep on standing up against "armies of brownshirts and bots": "You have to! You don't have an option"
Actor Meryl Streep received the National Ally for Equality Award at a fundraising gala held by the Human Rights Campaign, a national LGBTQ civil rights organization, on Saturday night, February 11. In her acceptance speech, Streep said:
[F]undamentalists, of every stripe everywhere, are exercised and fuming. We should not be surprised that these profound changes come at a steeper cost than we originally thought. We should not be surprised that not everyone is totally down with it.
If we live through this precarious moment, if his catastrophic instinct to retaliate doesn’t lead us to nuclear winter, we will have much to thank this president for. He will have woken us up to how fragile freedom is....
I am the most overrated, overdecorated and, currently, over-berated actress, who likes football, of my generation. But that is why you invited me here! Right?
The weight of all these honors is part of what brings me to this podium. It compels me, against every one of my natural instincts (which is to stay home), it compels me to stand up in front of people and say words that haven’t been written for me, but that come from my life and my conviction and that I have to stand by....
It’s terrifying to put the target on your forehead. ... And it sets you up for all sorts of attacks and armies of brownshirts and bots and worse, and the only way you can do it is if you feel you have to. You have to. You don't have an option, but you have to stand up and speak up and act up.
A Tribe Called Quest at Grammys: "Resist, Resist, Resist"
The Grammy Awards on Sunday night, February 12, closed with an electrifying set by the legendary hip-hop crew A Tribe Called Quest joined by Busta Rhymes, Anderson .Paak, and Consequence. At mid-point in the Tribe’s medley of several songs, Busta Rhymes came—on and focused right on the outrages being carried out by Trump and his regime: “I’m not feeling the political climate right now. I just want to thank President Agent Orange for perpetuating all of the evil that you’ve been perpetuating throughout the United States. I want to thank President Agent Orange for your unsuccessful attempt at the Muslim ban. When we come together—we the people, we the people, people!” As he said those words, Tribe member Q-Tip, along with a woman wearing a hijab and others, bust through a wall on the stage.
Q-Tip then launched into the Tribe song “We the People.” And as he went into the hook, which sarcastically hits at those who spew hate and intolerance—“All you Black folks you must go/All you Mexicans you must go/And all you poor folks, you must go/Muslims and gays, boy, we hate your ways/So all you bad folks, you must go”—a diverse grouping of people of different nationalities, genders, and style of clothing walked up on to the stage. The performers all lined up at one point with fists in the air, and protest signs reading “No Wall No Ban” and photos of different faces were projected in the background.
The powerful performance, inspiring performance closed with the chants from the stage: “Resist! Resist! Resist!”
"The Rock," Misty Copeland, Steph Curry Hit Under Armour for Calling Trump an "Asset"
On Tuesday, February 7, on CNBC’s Halftime Report, Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank called Trump “a real asset for the country” and lauded his plans to “make bold decisions and be really decisive.” The next day, ballerina Misty Copeland, actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and NBA star Steph Curry, who all have endorsement deals with the athletic clothing company, spoke out against Plank.
Copeland wrote in an Instagram post, “I strongly disagree with Kevin Plank’s recent comments in support of Trump.” In a Facebook post, Johnson said Plank’s comments were “neither my words, nor my beliefs” and said that he would ultimately “stand with this diverse team, the American and global workers, who are the beating heart and soul of Under Armour.” Curry told the San Jose Mercury News that he agreed with Plank’s comment on Trump... “if you remove the ‘et’” from the word “asset.” When asked if he would abandon Under Armour, Curry said that if “the leadership is not in line with my core values, then there is no amount of money, there is no platform I wouldn’t jump off if it wasn’t in line with who I am.” Curry went on to say, “So that’s a decision I will make every single day when I wake up. If something is not in line with what I’m about, then, yeah, I definitely need to take a stance in that respect.”
George Prochnik on Stefan Zweig, Trump, and "When It's Too Late to Stop Fascism"
George Prochnik wrote the book The Impossible Exile: Stefan Zweig at the End of the World (2015). Zweig was an Austrian novelist, playwright, journalist, and biographer who at the height of his literary career in the 1920s and ’30s, was one of the world’s most popular writers and most widely translated living author. Zweig was a Jewish intellectual and his books were burned in Berlin in 1933. Like millions of others, with the rise of Hitler, he was driven into exile. Zweig went to London, New York, and then to Brazil where he committed suicide in 1942. Prochnik wrote a piece in the February 6 issue of The New Yorker, “When It’s Too Late To Stop Fascism, According to Stefan Zweig.” Prochnik says when Zweig sat down to write his biography, “He was determined to trace how the Nazis’ reign of terror had become possible, and how he and so many others had been blind to its beginnings.” Zweig wrote: “the big democratic newspapers, instead of warning their readers, reassured them day by day, that the [fascist] movement ... would inevitably collapse in no time” and that Hitler had “elevated lying to a matter of course.”
Reading in Zweig’s memoir how, during the years of Hitler’s rise to power, many well-meaning people “could not or did not wish to perceive that a new technique of conscious cynical amorality was at work,” it’s difficult not to think of our own present predicament. Last week, as Trump signed a drastic immigration ban that led to an outcry across the country and the world, then sought to mitigate those protests by small palliative measures and denials, I thought of one other crucial technique that Zweig identified in Hitler and his ministers: they introduced their most extreme measures gradually—strategically—in order to gauge how each new outrage was received. “Only a single pill at a time and then a moment of waiting to observe the effect of its strength, to see whether the world conscience would still digest the dose,” Zweig wrote. “The doses became progressively stronger until all Europe finally perished from them.”...
In Zweig’s view, the final toxin needed to precipitate German catastrophe came in February of 1933, with the burning of the national parliament building in Berlin—an arson attack Hitler blamed on the communists but which some historians still believe was carried out by the Nazis themselves. “At one blow all of justice in Germany was smashed,” Zweig recalled. The destruction of a symbolic edifice—a blaze that caused no loss of life—became the pretext for the government to begin terrorizing its own civilian population. That fateful conflagration took place less than 30 days after Hitler became chancellor. The excruciating power of Zweig’s memoir lies in the pain of looking back and seeing that there was a small window in which it was possible to act, and then discovering how suddenly and irrevocably that window can be slammed shut.
Wagner College (Staten Island, NYC) Profs Denounce Trump Executive Orders
In a February 8 paid ad in the Staten Island Advance newspaper, 33 professors at Wagner College, a liberal arts college in New York City, denounced Trump’s executive orders and other actions. The statement is in the form of an open letter to Representative Dan Donovan, a Republican congressman from a district on Staten Island, who supported Trump’s executive order banning refugees and immigrants from seven majority-Muslim countries saying it was “in America’s best interest.” The Wagner professors’ statement said they “first and foremost” condemn that ban, saying that “this order creates religious discrimination and does so intentionally.”
The professors also condemned Trump’s removal of any mention of climate change and LGBTQ rights from the White House website, Trump’s attacks on the press and fact-based journalism, and his continued profit-making from his global holdings. They ended their statement with: “We believe the above actions, among others, taken by the Trump Administration are a threat to our democracy, our economy, our American values, our international alliances, and the ideals of citizenship and respect for knowledge and diversity that we strive to foster in our students.”
Read the statement and list of signatories (PDF) here.
Two NBA Coaches Take On Trump this Week
Popovich and Kerr Speak on Racial Inequality and the Muslim Ban
From a reader:
This week GQ published an article by Jay Willis, “Gregg Popovich and Steve Kerr Would Make a Great Presidential Ticket” where “these two have no time for the ‘stick to sports’ bullshit.” Kerr and Popovich, both who are white, have been close friends since Kerr played for the San Antonio Spurs, coached by Popovich. Kerr coaches the Golden State Warriors in the San Francisco Bay Area.
When Popovich was asked about Black History Month he said,
“But more than anything, I think if people take the time to think about it, I think it is our national sin. It always intrigues me when people come out with, ‘I’m tired of talking about that or do we have to talk about race again?’ And the answer is you’re damned right we do. Because it’s always there, and it’s systemic in the sense that when you talk about opportunity it’s not about ‘Well, if you lace up your shoes and you work hard, then you can have the American dream.’ That’s a bunch of hogwash. If you were born white, you automatically have a monstrous advantage educationally, economically, culturally in this society and all the systemic roadblocks that exist, whether it’s in a judicial sense, a neighborhood sense with laws, zoning, education, we have huge problems in that regard that are very complicated, but take leadership, time, and real concern to try to solve. It’s a tough one because people don’t really want to face it.”
Kerr was born in Lebanon, where his father was president of the American University of Beirut. His father was murdered at the university by two men in 1984, and soon after an unknown Islamic group called the press to claim responsibility. Kerr weighed in on Trump’s Muslim Ban this past week when he said,
“As someone whose family member is a victim of terrorism, having lost my father—if we’re trying to combat terrorism by banishing people from coming to this country, we’re really going against the principles of what our country is about, and creating fear. It’s the wrong way to go about it. If anything, we could be breeding anger and terror, so I’m completely against what’s happening. I think it’s shocking. I think it’s a horrible idea and I feel for all the people who are affected, families are being torn apart.”
Kerr also had something to say about the liars in the Trump administration when he told reporters after a game with the Orlando Magic that “Sean Spicer will be talking about my Magic career any second now. 14,000 points. Greatest player in Magic history.” Kerr actually scored 5,437 points while playing in the NBA from 1988-2003.
Shawn Gaylord, Advocacy Counsel for Human Rights First: "I would call on the entire LGBT community to stand up and say 'not in our name'"
a February 3 article for the Advocate
"Trump's Executive Orders: Divide and Conquer," Shawn Gaylord,
advocacy counsel for Human Rights First focusing on LGBT issues,
makes an important point about how Trump must not be allowed to pit
different sections of the people against each other.
Gaylord writes, "I am
sure I am not alone in reading through each statement and each
executive order [from Trump] with a sense of foreboding as we watch
community after community being targeted by a government that seems
determined to roll back the progress of the last few decades." He
notes that so far Trump's executive orders have not "specifically
targeted people based on their sexual orientation or gender
identity," though, as he points out, among the sections of the
people targeted so far—women, refugees, immigrants, religious
minorities, people of color—LGBT people are part of each.
Noting that there is one
direct mention of "sexual orientation" is Trump's executive
order banning immigrants and refugees from seven mainly Muslim
countries, Gaylord writes:
A quick read might cause
you to think it was actually a move to protect LGBT people. But on
closer examination, you quickly realize that what is at play is
something we dreaded all along. The protection of LGBT people is
cited as a justification for a set of cruel and unnecessary new
immigration policies that, no matter how carefully worded they might
be, amount to a Muslim ban.
The "Purpose" section,
which purports to explain what the executive order is designed to
accomplish, notes, "The United States should not admit ... those
who would oppress members of one race, one gender, or sexual
orientation." It is not clear exactly how immigration authorities
would know which individuals "would" take such actions, although
I suspect they will turn to broad generalizations about religious
groups. This language, like other sections of the order, seems
clearly designed to target Muslims. We saw this coming and we cannot
let it stand....
The Trump administration
seems to be employing every tactic at its disposal, but one of the
most egregious is this strategy of "divide and conquer." By
appealing to the shared desire that LGBT people might live their
lives free from violence, the Trump administration is hoping we will
turn that desire into fear and hatred of another marginalized
community. He did it after Orlando, he did it with this executive
order, and I would call on the entire LGBT community to stand up and
say "not in our name."
Cleveland Clinic Doctors, Medical Students, and Other Medical Staff: Trump's actions "directly harm human health and well-being in the United States and abroad"
When Trump signed the
executive order banning Muslims from seven countries from entering
the U.S., one of the people affected was a first-year internal
medicine student at the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic hospital,
Dr. Suha Abushamma. Even though she has a legal visa and documents
allowing her to legally study and work in the United States, she was
not allowed to re-enter the country because she has a passport from
Sudan—one of the seven banned countries—and was forcibly
diverted to Saudi Arabia.
colleagues at the Cleveland Clinic, along with more than 1,400 other
medical students, doctors, and other medical staff have issued an
open letter criticizing the heads of the hospital for not taking a
stand against Trump's Muslim ban. The letter points out that far
from condemning Trump's actions, "the
Cleveland Clinic silently continues to promote ties with the Trump
In fact, an upcoming Cleveland Clinic fundraiser—with tickets
costing upwards of $100,000—is scheduled to be held at Trump's
Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.
open letter says:
Through this action you
are supporting a president who has, in his first ten days in office,
reinstated the global gag rule, weakened the Affordable Care Act,
fast-tracked construction of both the Keystone XL and Dakota Access
Pipelines through legally protected native lands, and banned legal
U.S. residents from majority-Muslim countries. All of these actions
directly harm human health and well-being in the United States and
abroad. Your willingness to hold your fundraiser at a Trump resort
is an unconscionable prioritization of profit over people. It is
impossible for the Cleveland Clinic to reconcile supporting its
employees and patients while simultaneously financially and publicly
aiding an individual who directly harms them.
open letter and list of signatories is available here
...President Trump’s decision to speed up the announcement of his Supreme Court nominee will not distract from the hundreds of thousands of Americans demonstrating in the streets and at airports. After Trump’s disastrous first week on the job—from his global gag rule to his travel ban on Muslims—we cannot afford to elevate his destructive agenda with a lifetime appointment to our nation’s highest court.
With Judge Neil Gorsuch, the stakes couldn’t be higher when it comes to women and our lives. Gorsuch represents an existential threat to legal abortion in the United States and must never wear the robes of a Supreme Court justice.
With a clear track record of supporting an agenda that undermines abortion access and endangers women, there is no doubt that Gorsuch is a direct threat to Roe v. Wade and the promise it holds for women’s equality. The fact that the court has repeatedly reaffirmed Roeover the past four decades would no longer matter, just as facts often don’t seem to matter to President Trump. Confirming Gorsuch to a lifetime on the Supreme Court would make good on Trump’s repeated promises to use his appointments to overturn Roe v. Wade and punish women.
NARAL and our 1.2 million member-activists call on the Senate to reject Trump’s nominee using any and all available means, including the filibuster.
The complete statement from NARAL on Trump’s nomination of Gorsuch is online here.
Emma Stone, Actor: “We have to speak up against injustice, and we have to kick some ass”
At the Screen Actors Guild award on January 29, Emma Stone won the award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role for her work in the film La La Land. In her acceptance speech she said:
We’re in a really tricky time in the world and our country and things are very inexcusable and scary and need action and I’m so grateful to be part of a group of people that cares and that wants to reflect things back to society.
Later in an interview backstage, she said:
We have to speak up against injustice, and we have to kick some ass.... I was thinking about art this year, and that in a time like this, for so many, horrific things are happening. It’s so special to be a part of people who want to reflect what’s happening back to the world and to make people happy. I would hope that people would fight for what’s right and what’s just fucking human....
I think if we’re human beings, and we see injustice, we have to speak up, because staying silent, as they say, only really helps the oppressor. It never helps the victim. So I think that, yes, right now, I would hope that everyone, when seeing things being done that are absolutely unconstitutional and inhumane, would say something, anything. Whether it’s at school or at an awards show or work, offices, or online.
Saira Rafiee, CUNY Grad Student: “We, the 99% of the world, need to stand united in resisting the authoritarian forces all over the world”
Saira Rafiee, an Iranian Ph.D. student in political science at the CUNY (City University of New York) Graduate Center, was traveling back to the U.S. from Iran when Trump issued the executive order banning people from seven majority Muslim countries, including Iran, from entering the U.S. Rafiee, an Iranian citizen, was visiting family and was on her way back to New York, with legal documents, to resume her work and studies at CUNY.
Saira Rafiee wrote on Facebook about what happened:
I got on the flight to Abu Dhabi, but there at the airport was told that I would not be able to enter the U.S. I had to stay there for nearly 18 hours, along with 11 other Iranians, before getting on the flight back to Tehran. I have no clue whether I would ever be able to go back to the school I like so much, or to see my dear friends there. But my story isn’t as painful and terrifying as many other stories I have heard these days
The sufferings of all of us are just one side of this horrendous order. The other side is the struggle against racism and fascism, against assaults on freedom and human dignity, against all the values that even though are far from being realized, are the only things that would make life worth living. As a student of sociology and political science, I have devoted a major part of my scholarly life to the study of authoritarianism. The media has published enough statistics during the past few days to show how irrelevant this order is to the fight against terrorism. It is time to call things by their true names; this is Islamophobia, racism, fascism. We, the 99% of the world, need to stand united in resisting the authoritarian forces all over the world.
Ben Cohen, Founder/Editor of The Daily Banter: “This Is Straight Up Fascism”
Ben Cohen is the founder and editor of The Daily Banter (thedailybanter.com). Originally from London and now living in Washington, DC, he has written for the Huffington Post and ESPN.com. His January 27 article, “Trump's Weekly List of Crimes Committed by Immigrants is Straight Up Fascism,” says in part:
Adding to his list of executive orders and policy proposals designed to roll back civil liberties, wreck the environment and insult foreign nations, the Trump administration is also mandating that Homeland Security “make public a comprehensive list of criminal actions committed by aliens.” This was included in Trump's new executive order on immigration, and according to the Independent, "Will also include details of so-called ‘sanctuary cities’ that refuse to hand over immigrant residents for deportation"...
Make no mistake about it, this is straight up fascism... nothing more than a nasty scare tactic designed to instill fear in white Americans and create a new way of dividing the country along ethnic identity lines. We have seen this over and over again throughout history. Fascist dictators rise to power through the scapegoating of immigrants and minorities, then hold onto office by continuing the tactic. The Trump administration clearly believes it is a winning formula and Trump has made so called "illegals" the focal point of his first few days in office. From insisting that he only lost the popular vote due to (completely non-existent) widespread voter fraud to his executive order to build a wall stopping Mexicans from entering the country, Trump is betting big on white fear keeping him in office. The weekly list of immigrant crime is appalling and will simply fan the flames of xenophobia and hate....
Disgusted! The news is devastating! America is being ruined right before our eyes! What an immoral pig you have to be to implement such BS!!
As of January 30, there have been 175,000 re-tweets of this Rihanna tweet.
Cast of Stranger Things: “We will get past the lies. We will hunt monsters!”
On Sunday night, January 29, the Netflix series Stranger Things won the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble. A capsule description of the series says: “In a small Indiana town in the early 1980s, a boy goes missing after finding something sinister lurking in the woods. Nearby, a girl with extraordinary powers escapes from a sinister government facility and joins together with the boy’s friends to get him back.” At the televised SAG award show, David Harbour, who plays Chief Hopper in the series, stepped up to the mic to accept the award on behalf of the cast. After making a number of acknowledgements he turned to current events. He called on his fellow actors to:
Go deeper and through our art battle against fear, self-centeredness, and exclusivity of our predominantly narcissistic culture.... As we act in the continuing narrative of Stranger Things, we 1983 Midwesterners will repel bullies. We will shelter freaks and outcasts, those who have no hope. We will get past the lies. We will hunt monsters! And when we are at a loss amidst the hypocrisy and the casual violence of certain individuals and institutions, we will, as per Chief Hopper, punch some people in the face when they seek to destroy the weak and the disenfranchised and the marginalized! And we will do it all with soul, with heart, and with joy. We thank you for this responsibility.
University Science Professors Call for Defense of Science and Government Scientists
Three university science professors—Graham Coop, Professor of Evolution and Ecology, UC Davis; Michael B. Eisen, Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology, UC Berkeley; Molly Przeworski, Professor of Biological Sciences, Columbia University—have issued a statement in support of scientists within the government who are under attack.
Their message is as follows:
Governmental scientists employed at a subset of agencies have been
forbidden from presenting their findings to the public. We have drafted
the following response for distribution, and encourage other scientists
to post it to their websites, when feasible.
In Defense of Science
We are deeply concerned by the Trump administration’s move to gag
scientists working at various governmental agencies. The US government
employs scientists working on medicine, public health, agriculture,
energy, space, clean water and air, weather, the climate and many other
important areas. Their job is to produce data to inform decisions by
policymakers, businesses and individuals. We are all best served by
allowing these scientists to discuss their findings openly and without
the intrusion of politics. Any attack on their ability to do so is
an attack on our ability to make informed decisions as individuals,
as communities and as a nation.
If you are a government scientist who is blocked from discussing their
work, we will share it on your behalf, publicly or with the appropriate
recipients. You can email us at USScienceFacts@gmail.com.
Laurence Tribe, Constitutional Law Professor: "Trump must be impeached for abusing his power"
Laurence Tribe, Professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard Law School and the Carl M. Loeb University Professor at Harvard University, sent out a series of tweets on January 28—as thousands of people protested at airports across the U.S. against the anti-Muslim order Trump signed the day before:
Vital to impeach and remove Trump before his cruel brand of bigotry and scapegoating seeps even more deeply into our national bloodstream.
Trump just said what he’s doing at the airports “is working out very nicely.” The man has no eyes, no brain, and no heart.
Trump must be impeached for abusing his power and shredding the Constitution more monstrously than any other President in American history.
The tragic scenes unfolding at JFK and other US airports expose Trump as a heartless merciless monster. He must be stopped.
Trump’s promise to prioritize Christian over Muslim refugees when the 90-day ban lifts violates the Religion Clauses of our First Amendment.
Jewish Voices for Peace on Trump’s Anti-Muslim, Anti-Refugee Order: “We pledge to resist in every way that we can”
On January 25, Jewish Voices for Peace released the following statement in anticipation of Trump’s issuing of an executive order the next day targeting refugees and immigrants from mainly Muslim countries:
As the Trump administration follows through on the some of most harmful and alarming promises of his campaign, we will follow through on ours: to love, defend and fight alongside our friends, neighbors, and communities directly under attack.
Decades of racist, Islamophobic, and xenophobic policies and discourses around national security, the “War on Terror,” and immigration have laid the groundwork for this nightmare set of policies designed to target, profile, surveil and ban people due to their religion, race, national origin or legal status. These new policies will build on existing infrastructure, primarily impacting people who have fled from countries that the United States has bombed or invaded, as well as those whose local economies have been destroyed by our military operations and trade policies.
While the details of these new policies are still unfolding, we pledge to resist in every way that we can. We’ll put our hearts, souls, and bodies on the line to stop hateful and racist attacks. We will organize our communities to stand alongside our Muslim, immigrant & refugee neighbors, in the halls of Congress & government institutions, and in the streets.
We cannot let this stand.
Nikki Giovanni, the well-known African- American poet, essayist, and a University Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech, recently spoke with the Huffington Post. During the interview, she said the following:
“My heart breaks for the next generation with these fools in the white house. Asking us to give Trump a chance is like asking Jews to give Hitler a chance. I read that eight percent of blacks voted for him. That’s like a vote for slavery. I’m so proud of women for standing up at the Women’s Marches all over the country. In Washington it was so crowded that you couldn’t move. These women were telling Donald Trump ‘not on our watch’. Saying they won’t bow down or bend over and take the worse from him. Why take abortion and make us have children and then deny those kids healthcare?...
“Trump will not listen and only a fool would try to reason with him. He is beyond redemption.”
Philip Roth on Trump: “What is most terrifying is that he makes any and everything possible, including, of course, the nuclear catastrophe”
Philip Roth’s 2004 novel The Plot Against America imagines a scenario where there is a fascist takeover in America—through the ballot box. The aviation pioneer Charles Lindbergh—who in his day was one of the three or four biggest celebrities in the world and a Nazi sympathizer—sweeps the 1940 election in a landslide. Then, in steps both incremental and rapid, fascism comes in. At the time, Roth wrote in the New York Times Book Review that he did not intend to write this as a political roman à clef (a novel in which real people or events appear with invented names). He said he wanted to dramatize some “what-ifs” that never happened in America.
Now Roth is commenting about the current relevance of The Plot Against America. A piece titled “Philip Roth E-Mails On Trump” by Judith Thurman appears in the January 30 issue of The New Yorker. Thurman says Roth was asked via e-mail if the scenario in his book has now happened. Roth’s response, in part:
It isn’t Trump as a character, a human type—the real-estate type, the callow and callous killer capitalist—that outstrips the imagination. It is Trump as President of the United States.
I was born in 1933, the year that F.D.R. was inaugurated. He was President until I was twelve years old. I’ve been a Roosevelt Democrat ever since. I found much that was alarming about being a citizen during the tenures of Richard Nixon and George W. Bush. But, whatever I may have seen as their limitations of character or intellect, neither was anything like as humanly impoverished as Trump is: ignorant of government, of history, of science, of philosophy, of art, incapable of expressing or recognizing subtlety or nuance, destitute of all decency, and wielding a vocabulary of seventy-seven words that is better called Jerkish than English...
Unlike writers in Eastern Europe in the nineteen-seventies, American writers haven’t had their driver’s licenses confiscated and their children forbidden to matriculate in academic schools. Writers here don’t live enslaved in a totalitarian police state, and it would be unwise to act as if we did, unless—or until—there is a genuine assault on our rights and the country is drowning in Trump’s river of lies. In the meantime, I imagine writers will continue robustly to exploit the enormous American freedom that exists to write what they please, to speak out about the political situation, or to organize as they see fit...
My novel wasn’t written as a warning. I was just trying to imagine what it would have been like for a Jewish family like mine, in a Jewish community like Newark, had something even faintly like Nazi anti-Semitism befallen us in 1940, at the end of the most pointedly anti-Semitic decade in world history. I wanted to imagine how we would have fared, which meant I had first to invent an ominous American government that threatened us. As for how Trump threatens us, I would say that, like the anxious and fear-ridden families in my book, what is most terrifying is that he makes any and everything possible, including, of course, the nuclear catastrophe.
The New Yorker piece with quotes from Philip Roth is available online here.
Roger Cohen, NY Times Columnist: “Trump’s outrageous claims have a purpose: to destroy rational thought”
Roger Cohen is an author and columnist for the New York Times. Before becoming a columnist for the Times, he worked as a foreign correspondent in 15 countries. In the January 24 edition of the Times, his column titled “The Banal Belligerence of Donald Trump” said in part:
I have tried to tread carefully with analogies between the Fascist ideologies of 1930s Europe and Trump. American democracy is resilient. But the first days of the Trump presidency—whose roots of course lie in far more than the American military debacles since 9/11—pushed me over the top. The president is playing with fire.
To say, as he did, that the elected representatives of American democracy are worthless and that the people are everything is to lay the foundations of totalitarianism. It is to say that democratic institutions are irrelevant and all that counts is the great leader and the masses he arouses. To speak of “carnage” is to deploy the dangerous lexicon of blood, soil and nation. To boast of “a historic movement, the likes of which the world has never seen before” is to demonstrate consuming megalomania. To declaim “America first” and again, “America first,” is to recall the darkest clarion calls of nationalist dictators. To exalt protectionism is to risk a return to a world of barriers and confrontation. To utter falsehood after falsehood, directly or through a spokesman, is to foster the disorientation that makes crowds susceptible to the delusions of strongmen.
Trump’s outrageous claims have a purpose: to destroy rational thought. When Primo Levi arrived at Auschwitz he reached, in his thirst, for an icicle outside his window but a guard snatched it away. “Warum?” Levi asked (why?). To which the guard responded, “Hier ist kein warum” (here there is no why).
As the great historian Fritz Stern observed, “This denial of ‘why’ was the authentic expression of all totalitarianism, revealing its deepest meaning, a negation of Western civilization.”
Americans are going to have to fight for their civilization and the right to ask why against the banal belligerence of Trump.
Poem by Nina Donovan, “I am a nasty woman” performed by Ashley Judd at Women’s March: “I feel Hitler in these streets”
The poem, “I am a nasty woman” by 19-year-old Nina Donovan was performed by actress Ashley Judd at the Women’s March in Washington, DC on January 21. It starts:
I’m not nasty as a man who looks like he bathes in Cheetos dust.
A man whose words are a distract to America.
Electoral college-sanctioned, hate-speech contaminating this national anthem.
I’m not as nasty as Confederate flags being tattooed across my city.
Maybe the South actually is going to rise again.
Maybe for some it never really fell.
Blacks are still in shackles and graves, just for being black.
Slavery has been reinterpreted as the prison system in front of people who see melanin as animal skin.
I am not as nasty as a swastika painted on a pride flag, and I didn’t know devils could be resurrected but I feel Hitler in these streets.
A mustache traded for a toupee.
Nazis renamed the Cabinet Electoral Conversion Therapy, the new gas chambers shaming the gay out of America, turning rainbows into suicide.
I am not as nasty as racism, fraud, conflict of interest, homophobia, sexual assault, transphobia, white supremacy, misogyny, ignorance, white privilege ... your daughter being your favorite sex symbol, like your wet dreams infused with your own genes.
Yeah, I’m a nasty woman — a loud, vulgar, proud woman.
To listen to the whole poem performed by Ashley Judd go here:
Sierra Club on Trump's Energy Plan: "A shameful and dark start"
The Sierra Club is the largest grassroots environmental organization in the U.S., with more than 2.7 million members and supporters. On the day of his inauguration, Trump released his energy plan (available on the White House website). In response, Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune released the following statement:
Minutes after he was sworn in, any illusion that Trump would act in the best interests of families in this country as President were wiped away by a statement of priorities that constitute an historic mistake on one of the key crises facing our planet and an assault on public health. What Trump has released is hardly a plan—it’s a polluter wishlist that will make our air and water dirtier, our climate and international relations more unstable, and our kids sicker. This is a shameful and dark start to Trump’s Presidency, and a slap in the face to any American who thought Trump might pursue the national interest.
Matthew Rothschild: “Trumpolini.... Beware”
Matthew Rothschild is the executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a nonprofit, nonpartisan political watchdog group. His January 21 article titled, “The fascist overtones in Trump’s inaugural address” starts underneath a photo of Benito Mussolini, leader of Italy's National Fascist Party from 1922 until 1943, and says in part:
It was hard to listen to Trump’s inaugural address without hearing some not-so-faint echoes of fascism.
The most obvious was his invocation of “America First” as the “new vision” that “will govern our land.” But it’s not a new vision or a new name. In fact, “America First” was the name of the isolationist and anti-Semitic organization in the 1930s that wanted to accommodate Nazi Germany.
But there were other echoes as well....
Like 20th century fascists, he extolled the nation’s “glorious destiny.” He saluted “the great men and women of our military and law enforcement.”
And then he invoked the divine will. “Most importantly,” he said, “we are protected by God.”
And let’s not forget that his campaign slogan and the coda to his inaugural address, “Make America great again,” itself strikes a fascist chord: nostalgia for national greatness, mixed with grievances (that can lead to scapegoating) about who is to blame for the loss of such greatness.
If you were looking for Trump to take the high ground in his inaugural address and call on “the better angels of ourselves,” you were kidding yourself.
Big Bang Theory on Eve of Trump Inauguration: “Beware of Darkness”
Vanity cards have become a trademark for Chuck Lorre Productions. At the end of every episode of shows Lorre produces there are different messages that read somewhat like a comment or observation on life or what’s going on in society. This was done with shows Lorre produced like Dharma & Greg and Two and a Half Men. And these vanity cards appear at the end of The Big Bang Theory—the #1 comedy on TV for many seasons. On the eve of Donald Trump’s inauguration, the message that flashed across at the end of The Big Bang was the lyrics to George Harrison’s song, “Beware of Darkness”:
Watch out now, take care,
Beware of greedy leaders
They’ll take you where you should not go
While Weeping Atlas Cedars
They just want to grow, grow and grow
Beware of darkness
Then another quote, this one from Monty Python:
Run away! Run Away!
Roger Waters from Pink Floyd on Inauguration: "The resistance begins today"
Roger Waters, English singer, songwriter, bassist, and composer, is the co-founder of the rock band Pink Floyd—internationally known for albums like The Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall. On January 20, the day of Trump’s inauguration, Waters posted a video for his Trump-slamming performance of “Pigs (Three Different Ones)” in Mexico City last October. A message also went up on his Facebook: “The resistance begins today.”
The performance took place in Zόcalo Square before 300,000 fans. During the song, the huge screens flash graphics of ugly Trump faces with text like “Charade” and “Gotta stem the evil tide.” There is an image of Trump doing a Hitler Nazi salute and the KKK. At the end, disgusting quotes from Trump are seen on the screen. The final text: “Trump eres un pendejo” (Trump, you’re an asshole).”
Some of the lyrics to “Pigs (Three Different Ones)”:
Big man, pig man, ha ha charade you are
You well heeled big wheel, ha ha charade you are
And when your hand is on your heart
You’re nearly a good laugh
Almost a joker
With your head down in the pig bin
Saying “Keep on digging.”
Pig stain on your fat chin
What do you hope to find
When you’re down in the pig mine
You’re nearly a laugh
You’re nearly a laugh
But you’re really a cry
Petition to White House Correspondents' Association: "Stand up to Trump's blacklist"
At his January 11 press conference, Trump refused to take a question from CNN reporter Jim Acosta, saying, “You are fake news.” Angelo Carusone from Media Matters posted a petition, “Tell the White House Press Corps: Stand up to Trump’s blacklist,” to be delivered to the White House Correspondents’ Association, which says:
If Trump blacklists or bans one of you, the rest of you need to stand up. Instead of ignoring Trump’s bad behavior and going about your business, close ranks and stand up for journalism. Don’t keep talking about what Trump wants to talk about. Stand up and fight back. Amplify your colleague’s inquiry or refuse to engage until he removes that person/outlet from the blacklist.
The goal is to get 300,000 signatures. As of January 22, nearly 290,200 people had signed. The petition includes a background that says in part:
Trump has a history of doing this—and worse.
He has literally banned the Des Moines Register from covering his events. He banned Univsion from attending his events. He revoked The Washington Post’s credentials for a period in retaliation for a headline that he didn’t like. He revoked Politico’s credentials for a while to punish them for an article he didn’t like. BuzzFeed—which Trump called “a pathetic pile of garbage” during the press conference—has been on a blacklist since June of 2015. The Daily Beast is on the blacklist and is almost always denied credentials as a result. This list isn’t exhaustive, either.
But journalists covering Trump don’t learn. Time and time again, as one outlet after another is frozen out, reporters continue to go about their interactions with Trump and his people as if nothing is wrong.
Enough is enough. Some principles are more important than competition among news outlets....
Citizen Therapists Against Trumpism: "We cannot remain silent as we witness the rise of an American form of fascism"
Citizen Therapists for Democracy, an association of psychotherapists, states that their mission is to: “Learn and spread transformative ways to practice therapy with a public dimension; Rebuild democratic capacity in communities; and Resist anti-democratic ideologies and practices.” The website of Citizen Therapists for Democracy contains “A Public Manifesto” from Citizen Therapists Against Trumpism. It has been signed by 3,500 people and says in part:
As psychotherapists practicing in the United States, we are alarmed by the rise of the ideology of Trumpism, which we see as a threat to the well-being of the people we care for and to American democracy itself. We cannot remain silent as we witness the rise of an American form of fascism. We can leverage this time of crisis to deepen our commitment to American democracy....
Why speak collectively? Our responses thus far have been primarily personal—and too often confined to arm-chair diagnoses of Donald Trump. But a collective crisis faces our nation, a harkening back to the economic depression and demoralization of the 1930s (which fed European fascism) and the upheaval over Jim Crow and Black civil rights in the 1950s.... As therapists, we have been entrusted by society with collective responsibility in the arena of mental, behavioral, and relational health. When there is a public threat to our domain of responsibility we must speak out together, not just to protest but to deepen our commitment to a just society and a democratic way of life. This means being citizen therapists who are concerned with community well-being as much as personal well-being, since the two are inextricably joined.
Punk Band United Nations on Inauguration Day: "Never Again Is Fucking Happening Again"
United Nations, hardcore supergroup led by frontman for the band Thursday, Geoff Rickly, released a new song on January 20, the day of Trump’s inauguration. The song is called “Stairway to Mar-a-Lago”—Mar-a-Lago is Trump’s estate in Florida which he says will be his “winter White House.”
Some of the lyrics go:
From on your cross
Tell them who matters
Policing cities in ruin
It blows my mind
How these Nazis
Took the stage
And pandered to
Your deepest fears
Dead and cold
The Gipper must be
Rolling in his grave
Again and again
Never again is
New from Outernational: "Decision"—"How will you live? What will you decide?"
The band Outernational released a new song and video on the morning of the Trump inauguration, titled “Decision.” Miles Solay of Outernational wrote, “I am writing to you from the USA on the morning that a fascist regime is being coronated. I will be in the streets of Washington, DC today and tomorrow. The regime of Donald Trump and Mike Pence is illegitimate because fascism is illegitimate. If ever there was a time in our lives to act as if the future depended on us, now would be that time. GET INVOLVED AND TAKE TO THE STREETS WHEREVER YOU ARE.”
The lyrics of “Decision” include:
You can’t say you hate this
While you’re waiting for the cure...
All the lies!
America was never great
Eat your apple pie and genocide
Of your life!
How will you live?
What will you decide?...
New Anti-Trump Song by Entrance: "Not Gonna Say Your Name"
“There are people who say we ought to give you a chance. But there’s not a chance in hell that we’ll sit back and watch you try to turn back the clock and sigh and say, oh well.”
This is how “Not Gonna Say Your Name” starts—a new song released on January 16 by Los Angeles-based musician Guy Blakeslee (aka ENTRANCE). The song’s video features clips of anti-Trump protests that broke out in the days after the election.
Blakeslee says, “I really wanted to write a song expressing my own feelings about the election and the state of things in our country—like many I was in a state of mourning. I wondered, how can I sing about this without saying his name?” All proceeds from song purchases are going to Planned Parenthood. Blakeslee said: “I decided to use the song to benefit PP because one of the things that is so shocking about the election result is that it sends such a negative message to women and girls.... It’s the least I could do - for all of the women in the world, in my life, and especially for my mother - to fight back and make a clear statement that we will not accept this backwards agenda.” In a piece in TheTalkhouse, Blakeslee wrote:
When the result was called at the crack of dawn that November morning, I knew I had to come back home as soon as possible and join with my fellow Americans in resisting this imminent slide toward fascism, tyranny, intolerance, bigotry, sexism, xenophobia and unchecked capitalist pillaging.
In a psychological state quite similar to mourning, I was inspired and comforted watching from afar on social media as friends and family joined hundreds of thousands of others in the streets and wished I could be there with them to say NO to hatred and regression and YES to love and continued communal progress.
While in Amsterdam a few days later, the idea for this song (“Not Gonna Say Your Name” ) came to me; I was writing a lot of angry words and I was desperately trying to figure out how to say something positive, to make some kind of contribution and offer a different way of thinking about the situation instead of just complaining and fixating on this person that so many of us can’t help but despise.
To watch the video of “Not Gonna Say Your Name” go here.
News of Girl Scouts Marching for Trump Inauguration “filled me with rage”
The Girl Scouts of America have come under severe criticism for its decision to have 75 Girl Scouts march in Trump’s inauguration parade. People are saying they should not participate—given Trump’s ugly comments about women and Pence’s extreme anti-abortion views. Jean Hannah Edelstein, a New York-born, London-based journalist and the author of Himglish and Femalese: Why Women Don’t Get Why Men Don’t Get Them, wrote in a January 18 opinion piece in the Guardian:
The news that the Girl Scouts are sending a contingent to participate in Donald Trump’s inauguration filled me with real rage. How can an organization that promises to build “girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place” send them to celebrate the ascent of a leader who would likely consider them fair game for sexual assault if they grow up to be “beautiful”?
...what would be emotionally and physically safe for a girl about watching the swearing-in of Mike Pence as Vice President, a man who’s sworn to overturn the laws that allow them to use the bathrooms where they feel safe? What of Muslim Girl Scouts, who’ve been told that their names will be put on a list, or undocumented girls, who are also welcome to join Girl Scouts? Should they march, or should only the girls who Donald Trump might one day rate “a 10” be encouraged to participate?
...Yes, it’s a tradition: they’ve marched at inauguration for decades. But does tradition justify collaboration with an administration that promises to oppress the young women it’s supposed to serve? As shown by John Lewis and the other members of Congress who are choosing to skip the inauguration, sometimes human rights are more important than protocol. The Girl Scouts is an organization that has stood up for the human rights of girls and women for many years. Why quit now?
Charles M. Blow on the Day Before Inauguration Day: "Are You Not Alarmed?"
New York Times columnist, Charles M. Blow’s piece on January 19, 2017 is titled, “Are You Not Alarmed?” and says:
I continue to be astonished that not enough Americans are sufficiently alarmed and abashed by the dangerous idiocies that continue to usher forth from the mouth of the man who will on Friday be inaugurated as president of the United States.
Toss ideology out of the window. This is about democracy and fascism, war and peace, life and death. I wish that I could write those words with the callous commercialism with which some will no doubt read them, as overheated rhetoric simply designed to stir agitation, provoke controversy and garner clicks. But alas, they are not. These words are the sincere dispatches of an observer, writer and citizen who continues to see worrisome signs of a slide toward the exceedingly unimaginable by a man who is utterly unprepared.
In a series of interviews and testimonies Donald Trump and his cronies have granted in the last several days, they have demonstrated repeatedly how destabilizing, unpredictable and indeed unhinged the incoming administration may be. Their comments underscore the degree to which this administration may not simply alter our democracy beyond recognition, but also potentially push us into armed conflict...
This is insanity. But too many Americans don’t want to see this threat for what it is. International affairs and the very real threat of escalating militarization and possibly even military conflict seems much harder to grasp than the latest inflammatory tweet.
Maybe people think this possibility is unthinkable. Maybe people are just hoping and praying that cooler heads will prevail. Maybe they think that Trump’s advisers will smarten him up and talk him down.
But where is your precedent for that? When has this man been cautious or considerate? This man with loose lips and tweeting thumbs may very well push us into another war, and not with a country like Afghanistan, but with a nuclear-armed country with something to prove.
Green Day continues to call out Trump as a fascist. A video of the song “Troubled Times” from their latest album, Revolution Radio, was released on Monday, MLK Day. A statement from Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong said, "Today we celebrate love and compassion more than ever." The song/video doesn’t name Trump but the message is clear through the imagery. There’s a Trump-like figure with KKK teeth wearing a “Make America Great Again” cap—spewing hateful, racist garbage before crowds as Kluckers come out of the White House. Cops beating up Black people. But there are also images of resistance: People with signs saying “Stop racism, islamophobia, and war,” “No border wall,” and “Against racist hate.” Clips from the Civil Rights Movement and the the women’s suffrage battle. At the end, the stakes of the situation are underscored with a nuclear mushroom cloud.
This isn’t the first time Green Day has called out Trump. Shortly after the election, during their MTV and American Music Awards performances of the song “Bang Bang,” they added the chant: "No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA." Armstrong said, "It was a good start to challenge [Trump] on all of his ignorant policies and his racism."
The lyrics to "Troubled Times" are searing:
What good is love and peace on earth?
When it's exclusive?
Where's the truth in the written word?
If no one reads it
A new day dawning
Comes without warning
So don't blink twice
We live in troubled times
We live in troubled times
What part of history we learned
When it's repeated
Some things will never overcome
If we don't seek it
The world stops turning
So don't think twice
We live in troubled times
We live in troubled times
Rapper T.I.: "Be Aware or Be Bamboozled"
On MLK Day, Rapper T.I. (Tip Harris) sent out a series of tweets and videos addressed to Black celebrities and athletes who are meeting with Trump.
“Attn.!!!! Be clear.... There IS an agenda behind all these meetings. “There’s a strategic plan that people are trying to make you a part of.... Do not accept any invitation to have any meeting, no matter how positive you think the outcome may be.” “Given what’s going on between him & Congressman Lewis... All y’all looking CRAZY right now!!!! Be Aware, BE Alert, Or Be Bamboozled.”
One tweet has a photo of Malcolm X with a quote from him: “The first thing the (white racist) does when he comes in power, he takes all the Negro leaders and invites them for coffee. To show that he’s all right. And those Uncle Toms can’t pass up the coffee. They come away from the coffee table telling you and me that this man is all right.” T.I. writes: “Sound familiar? Malcolm knew it then.... Be Aware, Be Alert, or Be Bamboozled.”
One tweet addresses Trump: “Should it ever seem at times like we are against you, I assure it is a result of you defining yourself as the representative of those who are and who always have been against us... The deck has always been stacked against us in this country. With every generation there has been strategic steps to oppress, imprison, and control us.”
Statement from Michael Dietler, professor of anthropology at the University of Chicago, at Chicago Protest Against Trump-Pence Regime and Police Terror on MLK Day
A small but determined group of protesters rallied in the cold Chicago rain on MLK Day, where Christian clergy, representatives from the Muslim community, and youth spoke along with other fighters in the movement to Stop Trump and Pence. After the rally the protest took off in two parallel marches down both sides of State Street, stopping on the corners to speak to people who were out on the cold, wet street. Protestors criss-crossed back and forth across State Street, blocking traffic briefly a number of times. Some people along the route joined in the march briefly, and others took up posters and/or bundles of the Call and were organized to organize others in the fight to stop the fascist Trump-Pence regime.
Speakers at the rally addressed the need and possibility of stopping the Trump-Pence regime from taking power and the recently released Justice Department report detailing years of abuse of Black and brown people by the Chicago police. They included Rev. Gregg Greer of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference; Rev.Pughsley; Salman Aftab from the American Muslim Task Force on Civil Rights and Elections; Raja Yaqub from the American Muslim Aliance; and a middle school student who spoke about the terror Pence will bring to the LGBTQ community with his promotion of electro-shock torture “conversion therapy.” The following statement from Michael Dietler, professor of anthropology at the University of Chicago was read.
This day, of all days, should raise awareness of the danger that Donald Trump poses to this country, and to the world. The contrast with Martin Luther King could not be stronger.
Today the nation honors a fearless champion of human rights and human dignity, a man of principle who dedicated his life to the service of others and was willing to be sacrificed in the struggle against injustice. We also honor all those heroes of the Civil Rights movement, those thousands of ordinary people who courageously put their bodies and their lives on the line to oppose the racist, oppressive, violent regimes that tried to deny people their rights.
In ironic contrast, this Friday, a new president will be sworn in who waged a disgraceful campaign of lies and deceit, of racist bigotry and hatred, of misogyny, fear, and ignorance. Donald Trump has no principles, no concern for anyone but himself. He has spent his life in the relentless pursuit of personal wealth and power, using any means available without regard to the consequences for others.
He is a liar, fraud, and a dangerous egomaniac who has already normalized racism, xenophobia, and misogyny and prepared a cabinet of robber barons ready to pillage the country. Now is the time for all good people of conscience to come together to oppose this destructive force, before it is too late. Let the voice of the people rise again in solidarity with the spirit of the Civil Rights movement: justice and equality for all! Stand up against racism, xenophobia, misogyny, and greed!
Clip from Ava DuVernay Documentary 13th—Searing Exposure of Trump on the “Good Old Days”
Ava DuVernay is an American director, screenwriter, film marketer, and film distributor. Her film Selma, which told the story of the campaign led by Dr. Martin Luther King for equal voting right and the famous march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965,was nominated for Best Picture at the 2014 Oscars. And DuVernay became first Black female director to be nominated for a Golden Globe Award.
DuVernay’s recent Netflix documentary 13th just picked up three Critics’ Choice Awards and is on the Oscar shortlist for best documentary. 13th, named for the constitutional amendment that abolished slavery with the exception of punishment for crime, digs deeply into and exposes the rise of mass incarceration in the USA. 13th includes a series of powerful clips that shows Donald Trump and footage from the Civil Right era—where Trump is talking about “the good old days.”
During the film’s press screening at the New York Film Festival in October, DuVernay talked about how she debated whether to include Trump, who at the time was the Republican presidential candidate, in the documentary. She said, “Take him out? Leave him in? No, he doesn’t deserve a place in this thing, and such. But you gotta show that stuff because it’s too important and it can’t be forgotten,”
13th is available to stream on Netflix.
Pete Vernon in Columbia Journalism Review: "Trump and his team have shown a willingness to retaliate, bully, and ban journalists"
At his January 11 press conference, Trump refused to take a question from CNN reporter Jim Acosta, saying, “You are fake news.” In an article in the Columbia Journalism Review titled “Trump berated a CNN reporter, and fellow journalists missed an opportunity” Pete Vernon says:
CNN Senior White House Correspondent Jim Acosta stood pleading with Trump to acknowledge his question, referencing earlier attacks made by Trump and his press secretary about the accuracy of a CNN report detailing Trump’s ties to Russia. “Mr. President-elect, since you have been attacking our news organization, can you give us a chance?” Acosta yelled above the scrum of reporters.
“No! Not you. No! Your organization is terrible,” the President-elect shot back. When Acosta persisted in shouting for recognition, Trump pointed a finger at him and said, “Don’t be rude. No, I’m not going to give you a question.”
Trump then turned to the next question, and the press conference proceeded from there. It was a striking moment not only for the direct confrontation between the two men, but also for the fact that it seemed to have no effect on other journalists in the room. No one immediately leapt to Acosta’s defense....
I wished those journalists in attendance had picked up Acosta’s line of questioning, or even refused to continue asking questions, until the President-elect acknowledged the organization he had earlier attacked....
Next Friday, the new administration begins. As a candidate, and now as the President-elect, Trump and his team have shown a willingness to retaliate, bully, and ban journalists whose questions he doesn’t want to answer. As an industry, we must be prepared for more moments like today’s, and we must be ready to respond accordingly.
Theologians Raise Opposition to Jeff Sessions for "positions that compromise the rights of these vulnerable populations"
A group of Christian theologians of various denominations delivered an open letter to the heads of the Senate Judiciary Committee to oppose the nomination of Jeff Sessions as U.S. Attorney General. The signatories include Peter Goodwin Heltzel, New York Theological Seminary; Jeannine Hill Fletcher, Fordham University; Gary Agee, Anderson University (Indiana); Cornel West, Harvard University; James Cone, Union Theological Seminary; Jim Wallis, Sojourner; and others.
The theologians’ letter says in part:
Vulnerable populations in our country—victims of police brutality, undocumented workers, LGBTQ persons, women, people of color, and people of non-Christian faiths—are placed at increased risk of further harm when our laws are not upheld. Yet, throughout his career, Senator Sessions has taken positions that compromise the rights of these vulnerable populations. His racist comments reflect prejudice against people of color. His opposition to immigration reform, LGBTQ rights, women’s rights and equal access for persons with disabilities make it unlikely that he shares the Christian vision of justice and protection of the vulnerable that we embrace.
The letter and signatories are available online here.
Powerful Video Produced by Katy Perry: #DontNormalizeHate
A moving and deeply thought-provoking PSA video produced by Katy Perry asks the question: is history repeating itself? The short video features actor Hina Khan, a Muslim of Pakistani heritage, and begins with the voice of 89-year-old Haru Kuromiya—recalling how, when she was a girl during World War 2, her family, along with about 120,000 other Japanese Americans, were first put on a registry and then forced by the U.S. government into concentration (internment) camps.
According to the LA Times, “Codirected by filmmakers Aya Tanimura and Tim Nackashi, the #DontNormalizeHate PSA landed the early support of director Spike Jonze and actor-activist George Takei. But it was Perry whom Tanimura credits for making the short possible.” The video has close to 300,000 views since it was posted on YouTube—it should be seen by millions. Watch it below:
Bruce Springsteen: "The country feels very estranged..."
Bruce Springsteen on Marc Maron’s WRTF podcast on January 2 (at the end) is asked what his biggest fear is about Trump and says:
That a lot of the worst things and the worst aspects of what he appealed to come to fruition. When you let that genie out of the bottle – bigotry, racism, when you let those things out of the bottle, intolerance, they don't go back in the bottle that easily if they go back in at all. Whether it's a rise in hate crimes, people feeling they have license to speak and behave in ways that previously were considered un-American and are un-American. That's what he's appealing to. And so my fears are that those things find a place in ordinary, civil society; demeans the discussions and events of the day and the country changes in a way that is unrecognizable and we become estranged, as you say, you say hey well, wait a minute you voted for Trump, I thought I knew who you were, I’m not sure. The country feels very estranged, you feel very estranged from your countrymen. So those are all dangerous things and he hasn’t even taken office yet.
Children's and YA authors refuse "to quietly accept or assent to this 'Gleichschaltung,' this getting in line with fascism and making it mainstream"
Recently, Threshold, an imprint of the book publisher Simon & Schuster, gave a $250,000 book deal to Milo Yiannopoulos, writer for the neo-Nazi, white-supremacist Breitbart News Network and supporter of Trump. There was immediate outrage against the deal from writers, bookstores, book reviewers, and others. (See “Outrage at Simon & Schuster’s Book Deal for Pro-Trump Racist.”) Now more than 160 children’s and young adult (YA) book authors and illustrators with Simon & Schuster have sent a letter protesting the deal to the Simon & Schuster CEO and “all the readers and supporters of books for children.”
As technology editor at Breitbart, Yiannopoulos promoted “GamerGate,” a vicious flood of degrading attacks and terroristic threats against prominent women in the video game development community. This summer he was banned from Twitter after his followers carried out a racist harassment campaign against Black comedian/actor Leslie Jones.
The letter from the authors and illustrators reads in part:
Threshold has placed Simon & Schuster’s considerable reputation and weight behind one of the most prominent faces of the newly repackaged white supremacist/white nationalist movement and financially supported a man who routinely denigrates, verbally attacks, and directs dangerous internet doxxing and hate campaigns against women, minorities, LGBTQ individuals, Muslims, and anyone he chooses to target who supports equality and human decency. Irrespective of the content of this book, by extending a mainstream publication contract, Threshold has chosen to legitimize this reprehensible belief system, these behaviors, and white supremacy itself....
As Simon & Schuster authors and illustrators who are already published, with books in the release pipeline, with contracts in place, we do not have to quietly accept or assent to this “Gleichschaltung,” this getting in line with fascism and making it mainstream. We reject the wisdom of this decision. This man, and this book, are not America. This man, and this book, are not the bulk of Simon & Schuster. This man, and this book, are not us, the authors and illustrators of Simon & Schuster. We believe that the children we write for deserve a better America.
Among the signers of the letter are winners of Newbery, Caldecott, and National Book Award honors, including Cassandra Clare, Laurie Halse Anderson, Christian Robinson, Dan Santat, Marla Frazee, Ellen Hopkins, and Rachel Renée Russell. The Publisher’s Weekly article on this, including the text of the full letter and the list of signatories, is available online here.
Charlotte Church, Singer, Refuses Invitation from Tyrant Trump
Charlotte Church is a Welch singer who performs in many genres and has a big following. She has sold over ten million records worldwide.
The Trump team, which has already been turned down by most of the entertainers they have asked to perform at the inauguration, sent an invitation to Church. Church tweeted her reply directly to Trump @realDonaldTrump:
“Your staff have asked me to sing at your inauguration, a simple Internet search would show I think you’re a tyrant. Bye.”
Australian Tennis Star: T-Shirt Statement on Trump
At the Australian Open tennis tournament, Australian tennis star Nick Kyrgios made a statement about Donald Trump with his T-shirt. During his match with Rafael Nadal he wore a shirt that had Trump’s face covered with devil-like illustrations and the words “Fuck Donald Trump” at the bottom.
Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights: "Sessions has 30-year record of racial insensitivity, bias against immigrants, disregard for the rule of law, and hostility to the protection of civil rights"
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights sent a letter to the U.S. Senate opposing the confirmation of Sessions as Attorney General, saying:
On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition of more than 200 national organizations committed to promote and protect the civil and human rights of all persons in the United States, and the 144 undersigned organizations, we are writing to express our strong opposition to the confirmation of Senator Jefferson B. Sessions (R-AL) to be the 84th Attorney General of the United States.
Senator Sessions has a 30-year record of racial insensitivity, bias against immigrants, disregard for the rule of law, and hostility to the protection of civil rights that makes him unfit to serve as the Attorney General of the United States. In our democracy, the Attorney General is charged with enforcing our nation’s laws without prejudice and with an eye toward justice. And, just as important, the Attorney General has to be seen by the public—every member of the public, from every community—as a fair arbiter of justice. Unfortunately, there is little in Senator Sessions’ record that demonstrates that he would meet such a standard.
Shaun King: "One of the most dishonest men on Earth is about to become our leader"
Shaun King’s column in the Monday, January 9 New York Daily News was titled “Americans must call Trump out on lies, not get so used to them that we become desensitized to his dishonesty.” King writes, in part:
Last night, Meryl Streep, in an acceptance speech for a lifetime achievement award that she won at the Golden Globes, reminded the audience that our incoming President once openly mocked a reporter with a physical disability from the stage of a rally....Trump has now outrageously said he has no recollection of ever meeting Kovaleski and was not aware of his disability, but that is another outrageous lie. He did not meet Kovaleski once or twice. He did not meet him three or four times, or even half a dozen times, but met with Kovaleski at least a dozen times across the years. They met in Trump’s office, at events, and at press conferences. They were so close that Kovaleski described them as being “on a first name basis for years.”
To fight back against Streep reminding us of what he did, Trump is lying about lies about lies. His lies have so many layers that it often seems like he gets lost and simply cannot keep up....
Our incoming President of the United States is a liar. He tells them often. He lies far more often than he tells the truth. We must call him out on it. We must not become desensitized to his lies. We must not get so used to them that they become normal to us.
One of the most dishonest men on Earth is about to become our leader. I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t deeply concerned about what comes next.
Meryl Streep at Golden Globe Awards Speaks Out on Trump: "When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose"
On Sunday night, January 8, Meryl Streep received The Cecil B. DeMille Award, an honorary Golden Globe Award given by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for “outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment.” In accepting the award, she said, in part:
An actor’s only job is to enter the lives of people who are different from us and let you feel what that feels like. And there were many, many, many powerful performances this year that did exactly that—breathtaking compassionate work. But there was one performance this year that stunned me. It sank its hooks in my heart. Not because it was good. There was nothing good about it. But it was effective and it did its job. It made its intended audience laugh and show their teeth. It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter, someone he outranked in privilege, power and the capacity to fight back. It kind of broke my heart when I saw it and I still can’t get it out of my head because it wasn’t in a movie. It was real life. And this instinct to humiliate, when it’s modeled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody’s life because it kind of gives permission for other people to do the same thing. Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence incites violence. When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.
Jello Biafra on Trump: "What we're looking at here is Jim Crow 2.0"
Jello Biafra is the former lead singer for the band Dead Kennedys, known for songs like “California Über Alles” and “Nazi Punks Fuck Off.” In a recent interview in Rolling Stone magazine he said:
As laughable as Rick Perry has been as governor of Texas and other [presidential] campaigns, he’s also very dangerous. At first they were saying Secretary of Agriculture for him, but then suddenly Secretary of Energy. That dude is in charge of our nukes now and he’s also part of a fundamentalist Christian doomsday cult. ... It was basically yet another cult like the one Sarah and Todd Palin prescribed, whose whole mindset was “Jesus is coming soon, and in order to expedite we should be wasting every last natural resource and clear-cutting every tree we can right now because Jesus is coming back again. It’s OK to run up further budget deficits, because Jesus loves America, he’s going to put the money back.”...
People are freaked out that Trump has made the head of Exxon the Secretary of State, and the guy is so tight and in bed with Putin—well, there’s another part of Rex Tillerson I hope people are going to highlight, too. He’s the one who finally admitted climate change existed as head of Exxon, but then he said mankind will adapt and so it’s no big deal....
What we’re looking at here is Jim Crow 2.0, and they’re going to be even more hardcore about that in the 2018 election, to keep anybody with a conscience from being able to vote. Look at who the new Attorney General is going to be, the same guy who in the Eighties said he thought the people in the Ku Klux Klan were all right “until I saw some of them smoked pot.”
Cornell William Brooks: NAACP opposes nomination of Jeff Sessions "bodily, spiritually, morally, by encouraging civil disobedience"
Cornell William Brooks, president and CEO of the NAACP, and five other civil rights leaders were arrested January 3 after sitting in at Jeff Sessions’ office in Washington, DC, demanding the withdrawal of his nomination by Trump for Attorney General. In a January 5 interview on Democracy Now, Brooks said:
Our objections are, fundamentally, Senator Sessions represents a kind of dim and dystopian view of American civil liberties and civil rights. And so our objections are at least threefold, first of which is that he has demonstrated an unwillingness to acknowledge the reality of voter suppression that we have seen from one end of the country to the other, as attested to in the Fourth Circuit decision that found voter suppression in North Carolina, the Fifth Circuit decision which found voter suppression in Texas. He has not acknowledged the reality of that, and certainly not the reality of voter suppression in his own state...
In terms of immigration rights, he is one—among one of the most conservative, ultraconservative, extremist senators in terms of his opposition to comprehensive immigration reform. In addition to that, he has voiced an openness to a immigration ban on a global religion, namely Islam, which cannot be squared in any way, shape, fashion or form with the U.S. Constitution.
Number three, his views on criminal justice reform stand in stark contrast to both red state and blue state governors. In other words, he stands for law and order in Nixonian and draconian terms, at a moment in which we have over 2 million Americans behind bars, 65 million Americans with criminal records, 1 million fathers behind bars....
Brooks said the NAACP is “unapologetically opposed” to Sessions and is calling for civil disobedience protests:
The board of directors of the NAACP voted to oppose this nomination. And we’re doing so not only as a matter of policy, but we’re doing so bodily, spiritually, morally, by encouraging civil disobedience—that is to say, standing in the tradition of Mohandas K. Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, standing in that tradition by sitting down. And so, we understand that the odds may be difficult, but we, as the NAACP, don’t gauge our principled opposition to a nominee based upon odds and probabilities, but rather the rightness of the cause....
Joshua Pechthalt, Calif. Federation of Teachers President: “The similarities with the rise of fascism in Europe in the 1930s...are chilling”
In the November-December issue of California Teacher, Joshua Pechthalt, the president of the California Federation of Teachers (CFT), which is part of the American Federation of Teachers, has a piece titled “Responding to election of Donald Trump: Reassess, Mobilize, Defend.” Pechthalt writes:
In the last few weeks, I have had many discussions trying to sort out the implications of a Trump presidency. His nomination for Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, who has been a pro-voucher, pro-charter school advocate, demonstrates he wants to privatize and charterize public schools. President-elect Trump is making clear where he wants to take the country.
Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, who has said positive things about the KKK and will likely head the Justice Department, indicates this administration will not be an advocate for criminal justice reform, voting rights, and countless other social justice efforts. More disturbing will be Trump’s appointments to the Supreme Court. A generation of justices will be in the majority and committed to an agenda that is opposed to union rights, women’s rights, voting rights, environmental protection, and other matters that will affect our children and grandchildren.
Trump has also strengthened his relationship with Steve Bannon, the former leader of Breitbart News and one of the leaders of a movement known as the alt-right. The alt-right sees this appointment as an opportunity to fan the flames of white nationalism, racism and anti-Semitism. One needs only to watch the Nazi salute at a recent gathering of alt-right supporters in the nation’s capital to be alarmed. The similarities with the rise of fascism in Europe in the 1930s, and the growing neo-fascist movement now gaining traction in Western European countries, are chilling and require a response...
The issue of California Teacher containing the article by Pechthalt is available online here.
Thousands Sign Petition Against University of Tennessee Marching Band Participation in Trump Inauguration
The University of Tennessee marching band is scheduled to march in Trump’s Inauguration parade, but a lot of alumni of the school and residents of Tennessee are protesting this. More than 3,340 people have already signed an online petition calling on the president and director of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville to stop the university marching band from playing in the inaugural parade. The change.org petition, signed “Concerned Citizens and Alumni,” says in part:
As either proud residents of Tennessee or proud University of Tennessee alumni, we are greatly disturbed by the behavior exhibited by Donald Trump both during and after the recent presidential campaign. He has made racist and sexist remarks that should never come out of the mouth of someone in public office.
As residents of Tennessee, we believe that the attendance at the upcoming inauguration of a band representing the state of Tennessee would condone this behavior. As alumni, we believe that no university should risk its reputation and credibility by welcoming such ignorance and celebrating a man like Trump. It is for this reason that we urge that the band not march at the upcoming inauguration.
San Francisco teacher calling on educators across the country to take up the "NO!"
Rosie O'Donnell on Trump: "Less than 3 weeks to stop him"
On January 1, comedian and TV entertainer Rosie O’Donnell tweeted:
DONALD TRUMP IS MENTALLY UNSTABLE -
LESS THAN 3 WEEKS TO STOP HIM AMERICA
The day before, in response to a Donald Trump New Year’s Eve tweet, O’Donnell tweeted:
@realDonaldTrump - we know what to do RESIST YOU - and everything you represent #notANYONESpresident #resist #liar #cheater #fraud #crook
She also tweeted:
Nobody can go back
and start a new beginning,
but anyone can start today
and make a new ending.
~ Maria Robinson
Then on January 3, @ROSIE retweeted:
The amount of flak @Rosie O’Donnell is taking right now for stating fact, as if SHE’s out of line, is criminal. #NoFascistUSA #DontNormalize
Petition at Olivet Nazarene, Christian University, Speaks Out Against Trump's "well-documented sexism, his political alliances with white supremacists, and his hostility toward immigrants and refugees"
Olivet Nazarene is a Christian university located south of Chicago in Illinois. When school officials announced that the Olivet Nazarene band would be taking part in Trump’s inauguration, there was immediate opposition. An online petition, “Withdraw Olivet Nazarene University from Inaugural Parade,” has gathered over 2,000 signers. The petition, addressed to the college president and administrators, says in part:
Sadly, President-elect Trump has consistently articulated and advocated policies that undermine the Christian commitments of communities like Olivet. His well-documented sexism, his political alliances with white supremacists, and his hostility towards immigrants and refugees are just a few positions incompatible with Christian teachings in general and the Nazarene message of holiness in particular.
Any university presence at the inauguration would suggest toleration or, even worse, endorsement of the President-elect’s objectionable attitudes on these and other issues. Such a presence is simply unacceptable.
We call on you to decline this and any other invitations to participate in President-elect Trump’s inaugural festivities. We make this request not out of partisan opposition. Both educational and religious organizations should be capable of holding differing political opinions within the bonds of community. Yet, conservatives and liberals alike acknowledge that President-elect Trump has demeaned and alienated many, with little or no effort made towards reconciliation. For Olivet to embody the faith it proclaims, we have a responsibility to stand with those marginalized by the President-elect’s divisive rhetoric rather than march in celebration of it.
Rebecca Ferguson Says She'll Sing at Trump Inauguration Invite IF She Can Sing "Strange Fruit"
Rebecca Ferguson is a British singer and songwriter. Her 2015 album “Lady Sings the Blues,” covering classic songs by Billie Holiday, made the charts in the UK. Ferguson says she was asked to sing at Trump’s inauguration and says she will do it.... IF she can sing “Strange Fruit”—a song first recorded by Billy Holliday in 1939 that scathingly indicts the lynchings of Black people in the American South. Ferguson wrote on TwitLonger:
I’ve been asked and this is my answer. If you allow me to sing “strange fruit” a song that has huge historical importance, a song that was blacklisted in the United States for being too controversial. A song that speaks to all the disregarded and down trodden black people in the United States. A song that is a reminder of how love is the only thing that will conquer all the hatred in this world, then I will graciously accept your invitation and see you in Washington. Best Rebecca X
Gregg Popovich, Coach of NBA San Antonio Spurs: "[Trump] is in charge of our country. That's disgusting"
Soon after the election, Gregg Popovich, one of the top coaches in the National Basketball Association (NBA), was asked to comment on Trump’s victory. The following are excerpts from his comments:
It’s our country, we don’t want it to go down the drain. Any reasonable person would come to that conclusion. But it does not take away the fact that he is fear-mongering—all the comments, from day one—the race baiting, trying to make Barack Obama, the first Black president, illegitimate. It leaves me wondering where I’ve been living and with whom I’m living.
And the fact that people can just gloss that over and start talking about the transition team, and we’re all gonna be kumbaya now and try to make the country good without talking about any of those things. And now we see that he’s already backing off of immigration and Obamacare and other things, so was it a big fake? Which makes you feel it’s even more disgusting and cynical that somebody would use that to get the base that fired up. To get elected. And what gets lost in the process are African-Americans, and Hispanics, and women, and the gay population, not to mention the eighth-grade developmental stage exhibited by him when he made fun of the handicapped person. I mean, come on. That’s what a seventh-grade, eighth-grade bully does. And he was elected president of the United States. We would have scolded our kids. We would have had discussions and talked until we were blue in the face trying to get them to understand these things. And he is in charge of our country. That’s disgusting.
See a YouTube of Popovich (along with another NBA coach, Stan Van Gundy) commenting on Trump here.
Mormon Tabernacle Singer Quits Over Trump Inauguration: "I could never throw roses to Hitler."
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir is scheduled to sing at Trump’s inauguration and 19,000 members of the Mormon Church have already signed a petition against them performing. Now, a member of the choir, Jan Chamberlin, has resigned over this, saying, “I could never throw roses to Hitler. And I certainly could never sing for him." Her letter, which was posted on Facebook, says:
Since “the announcement” [of the Choir performing at the inauguration], I have spent several sleepless nights and days in turmoil and agony. I have reflected carefully on both sides of the issue, prayed a lot, talked with family and friends, and searched my soul.
I’ve tried to tell myself that by not going to the inauguration, that I would be able to stay in Choir for all the other good reasons.
I have highly valued the mission of the Choir to be good-will ambassadors for Christ, to share beautiful music and to give hope, inspiration, and comfort to others.
I’ve tried to tell myself that it will be alright and that I can continue in good conscience before God and man.
But it’s no use. I simply cannot continue with the recent turn of events. I could never look myself in the mirror again with self respect...
I also know, looking from the outside in, it will appear that Choir is endorsing tyranny and fascism by singing for this man...
Tyranny is now on our doorstep; it has been sneaking its way into our lives through stealth. Now it will burst into our homes through storm. I hope that we and many others will work together with greater diligence and awareness to calmly and bravely work together to defend our freedoms and our rights for our families, our friends, and our fellow citizens. I hope we can throw off the labels and really listen to each other with respect, love, compassion, and a true desire to bring our energies and souls together in solving the difficult problems that lie in our wake...
History is repeating itself; the same tactics are being used by Hitler (identify a problem, finding a scapegoat target to blame, and stirring up people with a combination of fanaticism, false promises, and fear, and gathering the funding). I plead with everyone to go back and read the books we all know on these topics and review the films produced to help us learn from these gargantuan crimes so that we will not allow them to be repeated. Evil people prosper when good people stand by and do nothing.
We must continue our love and support for the refugees and the oppressed by fighting against these great evils.
For me, this is a HUGELY moral issue....
I only know I could never “throw roses to Hitler.” And I certainly could never sing for him.
Rockette Speaks Out Against Trump: "A moral issue, a women's issue"
The Radio City Rockettes, whose trademark routine is a line of dancers doing eye-high leg kicks in perfect unison, are scheduled to perform at Trump’s inauguration. Right away there were signs that some of the dancers are very disturbed about this. In a shameful move, the union representing the Rockettes, the American Guild of Variety Artists, sent an email to the dancers saying they were “obliged” to perform at the inauguration. Later the company that owns the Radio City Rockettes, the Madison Square Garden Company, told RollingStone magazine that individual dancers “are never told they have to perform at a particular event, including the inaugural. It is always their choice.” But one can imagine the pressure being put on these women to perform and what it could mean for their careers if they refuse.
Recently, MarieClaire.com wrote a piece about this controversy, including quotes from an exclusive interview they did with “Mary,” one of the Rockettes. The following are some excerpts from this article:
The dancer next to Mary was crying. Tears streamed down her face through all 90 minutes of their world-famous Christmas Spectacular as they kicked and pirouetted and hit mark after mark on the glittering Radio City Music Hall stage. This was Thursday, three days before Christmas, the day the Rockettes discovered they’d been booked to perform at the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump.
“She felt she was being forced to perform for this monster,” Mary told MarieClaire.com in an exclusive interview. “I wouldn’t feel comfortable standing near a man like that in our costumes,” said another dancer in an email to her colleagues.
For Mary? “If I had to lose my job over this, I would. It’s too important. And I think the rest of the performing arts community would happily stand behind me.” ...
“There is a divide in the company now, which saddens me most,” Mary says. “The majority of us said no immediately. Then there’s the percentage that said yes, for whatever reason—whether it’s because they’re young and uninformed, or because they want the money, or because they think it’s an opportunity to move up in the company when other people turn it down.” ...
Mary says that to her knowledge, no women of color have signed up to perform that day. “It’s almost worse to have 18 pretty white girls behind this man who supports so many hate groups.” ...
“This is not a Republican or Democrat issue—this is a women’s rights issue,” she continues. “This is an issue of racism and sexism, something that’s much bigger than politics. We walk into work and everyone has different political views. The majority of the stage crew are Trump supporters; there’s a ‘Make America Great Again’ bumper sticker on the crew doors at the side of the stage.”
But the majority of the staff skews liberal, she says, especially considering the many LGBT employees at Radio City. “It’s the ensemble. It’s the people in our wardrobe and hair department, some of whom are transgender,” she says. “These are our friends and our family, who we’ve worked with for years. It’s a basic human-rights issue. We have immigrants in the show. I feel like dancing for Trump would be disrespecting the men and women who work with us, the people we care about.”
On December 29, former Rockette Autumn Withers said in an interview on cable news channel MSNBC that the group has performed at previous inaugurations but Trump is different:
[W]e’ve never had an incoming president who has publically and repeatedly demeaned women and said derogatory things about women. And I think that’s what makes this is a really unique situation and elevates it above a situation of just doing your job as a Rockette as you would for any other event and elevates it to a moral issue, a woman’s rights issue. What does this say, the optics of having the Rockettes perform at Trump’s inauguration? How does that normalize these comments and remarks that Trump has made to women at large and is that OK?
He has talked about grabbing women’s genitals, he has called them names from dogs, pigs, slobs, crooked, nasty. And to have a beautiful line of women dancing behind him I think on a larger level kind of normalizes his derogatory comments. I have Republican female family members and even when you bring up his comments they’re very uncomfortable and they still agree that this is a women’s rights issue....
The whole MarieClair.com article is available here.
To listen to the MSNBC interview with Autumn Withers, go here.
1,500 Past and Current Fulbright Scholarship Recipients: "The consequence [of Trump becoming president] could be dire for both international cooperation and peace"
The Fulbright Program, funded by the U.S. government and private sources, gives prestigious scholarships to about 8,000 recipients yearly—for students, academics, artists and others in the U.S. to study and do research abroad and for recipients in other countries to do the same in the U.S. After the presidential election, three past and current Fulbright grant recipients wrote an open letter expressing alarm at Trump’s victory. The letter has gathered signatures from over 1,500 other past and current Fulbright scholarship recipients from 95 countries.
Their letter says in part: “We have, for the last eighteen months, watched the electoral process unfold in the United States as the president-elect openly engaged in demagoguery against a number of vulnerable populations, courted hate groups, threatened the press, and promised vindictive actions against his opponents. This is not populism; it is recklessness. The consequence could be dire for both international cooperation and peace. We are now worried by the prospect of his inauguration into one of the world’s most powerful offices with the power to carry out his stated intentions. While we respect the American electoral system, we write to express our deepest concerns.”
The letter and list of signatories are available online here.
Franz Wasserman, Survivor of Nazi Germany: “We have to counter this trend toward fascism in every way we can.”
Franz Wasserman, 96 years old, was a youth in Germany during the 1930s and saw the rise of the Nazis first-hand. He’s never considered himself an activist. But with the election of Trump, he felt he had to act. He wrote a letter to U.S. senators warning of the parallels between Trump and Hitler—and shared it with others. Jerry Lange, a columnist for the Seattle Times, received a copy, and he wrote a piece on Wasserman that appeared on December 26.
Wasserman begins the letter: “I was born in Munich, Germany, in 1920. I lived there during the rise of the Nazi Party and left for the U.S.A. in 1938. The elements of the Nazi regime were the suppression of dissent, the purging of the dissenters and undesirables, the persecution of communists, Jews and homosexuals and the ideal of the Arians as the master race. These policies started immediately after Hitler came to power, at first out of sight but escalated gradually leading to the Second World War and the holocaust. Meanwhile most Germans were lulled into complacency by all sorts of wonderful projects and benefits.”
Today, Wasserman writes, “The neo-Nazis and the KKK have become more prominent and get recognition in the press. We are all familiar with Trump’s remarks against all Muslims and all Mexicans. But there has not been anything as alarming as the appointment of Steve Bannon as Trump’s Chief Strategist. Bannon has, apparently, made anti-Semitic remarks for years, has recently condemned Muslims and Jews and he and Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the pick as National Security Adviser, advocate the political and cultural superiority of the white race. At the same time Trump is trying to control the press... We can hope that our government of checks and balances will be more resistant than the Weimar Republic was. Don’t count on it.”
The Seattle Times article with quotes from Franz Wasserman and his story is available here.
Feminist Scholars: "We cannot and will not comply. Our number one priority is to resist."
The following “Statement by Feminist Scholars on the Election of Donald Trump as President” is posted at a number of sites on the Internet and so far has more than 900 signatories:
“On Tuesday, November 8, 2016, a sizeable minority of the U.S. electorate chose to send billionaire Donald Trump, an avowed sexist and an unrepentant racist, who has spent nearly forty years antagonizing vulnerable people, to the White House. Spewing hatred at women, people of color, immigrants, Muslims, and those with disabilities is Trump’s most consistent, and well-documented form of public engagement. Trump bragged about sexually assaulting women because, as he quipped, his celebrity made it easy for him to do so. We can only assume that the hostile climate and anxiety about what is to come were contributing factors. The political shift we are witnessing, including the appointment of open bigots to the president-elect’s cabinet, reaffirms the structural disposability and systemic disregard for every person who is not white, male, straight, cisgender, able-bodied, and middle or upper class.
“As a community of feminist scholars, activists and artists, we affirm that the time to act is now. We cannot endure four years of a Trump presidency without a plan. We must protect reproductive justice, fight for Black lives, defend the rights of LGBTQIA people, disrupt the displacement of indigenous people and the stealing of their resources, advocate and provide safe havens for the undocumented, stridently reject Islamophobia, and oppose the acceleration of neoliberal policies that divert resources to the top 1% and abandon those at the bottom of the economic hierarchy. We must also denounce militarization at home and abroad, and climate change denial that threatens to destroy the entire planet.
“We must also reject calls to compromise, to understand, or to collaborate. We cannot and will not comply. Our number one priority is to resist. We must resist the instantiation of autocracy. We must resist this perversion of democracy. We must refuse spin and challenge any narratives that seek to call this moment “democracy at work.” This is not democracy; this is the rise of a 21st century U.S. version of fascism. We must name it, so we can both confront and defeat it. The most vulnerable, both here and abroad, cannot afford for us to equivocate or remain silent. The threats posed by settler colonialism and empire around the globe have never been more real, nor has our resolve to oppose these injustices ever been stronger. Concretely, within the U.S., we oppose the building of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, and the establishment of a registry for Muslim residents.
“We owe this moment and the communities we fight for our very best thinking, teaching, and organizing. We must find creative solutions to address the immediate needs of those who will be acutely affected within the first 100 days of Trump’s presidency. We must push ourselves into new, and more precise and radical analytical frameworks that can help us to articulate the stakes of this moment.
“The most important thing we can do in this moment is to make an unqualified commitment to those on the margins through our actions, insist that the media be allowed to do its job; and protect the right to protest and dissent. We recognize clearly that our silence will not protect us. Silence, in the aftermath of 11/8 is not merely a lack of words; it is a profound inertia of liberatory thought and praxis. So - what are we waiting for? We are who we are waiting for. We pledge to stand and fight, with fierce resolve, for the values and principles we believe in and the people we love.”
The statement and list of signatories is available here.
Center for Constitutional Rights: “We must resist and prevent at all costs a slide into American fascism”
Shortly after Trump’s election, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) in New York City issued this statement:
"We send love and solidarity to all those who are hurting and afraid that Donald Trump’s America excludes them. We share the despair of the millions who are in shock that a candidate supported by the KKK has won the presidency of the United States.
"If there is a silver lining in this election result it is that it is impossible now to deny the racism, sexism, and xenophobia that have been part of America for centuries. Our duty is to stand together with all those who dissent from this bigotry and to defend and protect vulnerable communities. That has been CCR’s mission for 50 years, and we will work harder than ever to defend civil and human rights and the U.S. Constitution.
"The dangers of a Trump presidency go beyond the attacks on people of color, women, Muslims, immigrants, refugees, LGBTQI people, and people with disabilities. His campaign was marked by the strategies and tactics of authoritarian regimes: endorsing and encouraging violence against political protesters, threatening to jail his opponent, refusing to say he would accept the results of the election if he lost, punishing critical press. Together with all those who value freedom, justice, and self-determination, we must resist and prevent at all costs a slide into American fascism.
"Resistance is our civic duty."
Lauren Duca, Teen Vogue Editor: Trump's "Gaslighting" and the Fight for the Truth
Lauren Duca is an editor for TeenVogue magazine and has been a contributing reporter/writer for several other magazines including Huffington Post, Vice, New York, and The New Yorker. In a December 10, article published in Teen Vogue titled “Donald Trump Is Gaslighting America,” she writes:
“Trump won the Presidency by gas light. His rise to power has awakened a force of bigotry by condoning and encouraging hatred, but also by normalizing deception. Civil rights are now on trial, though before we can fight to reassert the march toward equality, we must regain control of the truth. If that seems melodramatic, I would encourage you to dump a bucket of ice over your head while listening to ‘Duel of the Fates.’ Donald Trump is our President now; it’s time to wake up.
“‘Gas lighting’ is a buzzy name for a terrifying strategy currently being used to weaken and blind the American electorate. We are collectively being treated like Bella Manningham in the 1938 Victorian thriller from which the term ‘gas light’ takes its name. In the play, Jack terrorizes his wife Bella into questioning her reality by blaming her for mischievously misplacing household items which he systematically hides. Doubting whether her perspective can be trusted, Bella clings to a single shred of evidence: the dimming of the gas lights that accompanies the late night execution of Jack’s trickery. The wavering flame is the one thing that holds her conviction in place as she wriggles free of her captor’s control.
“To gas light is to psychologically manipulate a person to the point where they question their own sanity, and that’s precisely what Trump is doing to this country.... At the hands of Trump, facts have become interchangeable with opinions, blinding us into arguing amongst ourselves, as our very reality is called into question.... The good news about this boiling frog scenario is that we’re not boiling yet. Trump is not going to stop playing with the burner until America realizes that the temperature is too high. It’s on every single one of us to stop pretending it’s always been so hot in here...
“The road ahead is a treacherous one. There are unprecedented amounts of ugliness to untangle, from deciding whether our President can be an admitted sexual predator to figuring out how to stop him from threatening the sovereignty of an entire religion. It’s incredible that any of those things could seem like a distraction from a greater peril, or be only the cherry-picked issues in a seemingly unending list of gaffes, but the gaslights are flickering. When defending each of the identities in danger of being further marginalized, we must remember the thing that binds this pig-headed hydra together. As we spin our newfound rage into action, it is imperative to remember, across identities and across the aisle, as a country and as individuals, we have nothing without the truth.”
Journalist Summer Brennan: "I promise to be a siren going off..."
On December 19, Summer Brennan, an award-winning investigative journalist, author, and visiting scholar at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University, tweeted:
“Trump is a fascist. I promise to be a siren going off about this national disaster until it is averted or stopped. #resist”
Constitutional Law Scholars to Trump: "We feel a responsibility to challenge you in the court of public opinion"
In an open letter to Trump dated December 13, constitutional legal scholars associated with law schools across the U.S. wrote, “Some of your statements and actions during the campaign and since the election cause us great concern about your commitment to our constitutional system.”
The open letter gets into some of these issues: First Amendment protection of the rights of free speech and free press; “poisonous anti-Muslim rhetoric”; violation of government checks and balances; threats to overturn the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion; appointment of Alabama Senator Sessions, with a “troubling history on voting rights and civil rights,” as Attorney General; “baseless charges concerning voter fraud”; and “inflammatory rhetoric” that has been “taken as invitation to discriminate and to act out in all kinds of hate-filled ways.”
In the point on anti-Muslim attacks, the open letter notes: “To make matters worse, your proposed national security advisor, Michael Flynn, has described what he calls ‘Islamism’ as a ‘vicious cancer inside the body of 1.7 billion people’ that ‘has to be excised.’ Such rhetoric is shocking in its ignorance and bigotry; it must not become normalized. We continue to hear talk of a ‘Muslim registry’ being created by your administration—or a nationality-based registry that would be a proxy for religious discrimination. To our national shame, the federal government during World War II carried out—and the Supreme Court’s discredited Korematsu decision upheld—the mass internment of Japanese Americans based upon no individualized suspicion of wrongdoing; the federal government under President Ronald Reagan subsequently apologized and paid reparations. We urge you to reconsider your naming of Flynn and to renounce a Muslim registry or anything like it.”
The open letter concludes: “Although we sincerely hope that you will take your constitutional oath seriously, so far you have offered little indication that you will. We feel a responsibility to challenge you in the court of public opinion, and we hope that those directly aggrieved by your administration will challenge you in the courts of law. We call upon legal conservatives who cherish constitutional values to join us in speaking law to power. And we call upon citizens, lawyers, educators, public officials, and religious leaders to use every legal means available to protect the most vulnerable members of our society and our constitutional guarantees. At no point that any of us can remember has this need been more imperative than it is now.”
See a pdf of the open letter and list of signatories here.
America Ferrera: Future under Trump is "terrifying" but "we can't give up the fight"
America Ferrera is an actress who has won many awards, including an Emmy, a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Guild Award. In a December 14 interview, she was asked, “How are you feeling about the future of our environment during the Trump administration?” She said:
“When you have a president-elect who says he doesn’t even know if climate change is real, for the next four to eight years, the future looks pretty horrible. We know that climate change is real, and yet he’s still questioning it. So, that’s pretty terrifying. We haven’t had any time to waste for a long time now, and it’s a pretty devastating thing to start moving backward. So yes, I think that it’s really daunting. But we have to be committed to staying alert and staying awake and staying educated and using our voices to push back. It doesn’t mean it’s gonna be easy, or there’s ever going to be a defining last fight where we win and we never have to go back and defend the idea that climate change is the real thing we need to pay attention to. But we can’t give up the fight.”
Celebrities Refuse to Perform at Trump Inauguration
During his presidential campaign, many musicians, actors, and other celebrities spoke out against Donald Trump. And now he and his team are having a hard time getting musicians to perform at his inauguration. A number of celebrities have been asked and refused, and some have made it clear that if they are asked, they will refuse.
Open Letter Protesting American Library Association Press Release: "I am
absolutely not ready to work with President-elect Trump"
On November 20, Sarah Houghton wrote an Open Letter to Julie Todaro, President of the American Library Association, protesting a press release from the ALA in which Todaro stated, “We are ready to work with President-elect Trump, his transition team, incoming administration and members of Congress to bring more economic opportunity to all Americans and advance other goals we have in common.”
Houghton has been an active member of the ALA for 16 years and says, “I have never before this week considered canceling my membership.” Houghton says in her letter: “I am absolutely not ready to work with President-elect Trump. He has stood for racism, prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination for his entire life—including during his campaign. Those are all things ALA stands firmly against. Explain to me why we’re ready to work with a bigot? Because I’m not ready for that at all. The rest of this release went on to detail some of the things libraries do for communities—coming off as a weak and pandering missive begging for scraps and, in truth, coming from a place of fear.”
Houghton points to another ALA press release that highlights “how libraries can advance specific policy priorities of the incoming Trump administration in the areas of entrepreneurship, services to veterans and broadband adoption and use” and says:
“This trajectory away from justice and toward collaboration with a fascist regime disturbs me greatly. These comments are tone deaf and, not only do not represent my values as a librarian, but do not represent the shared values of the American Library Association and its membership. There is a time to walk a middle road, to give voice to a moderate viewpoint of an organization’s membership. This is not that time. This is the time to stand tall and proud, and give voice to the fiery ethics and values that our profession has held dear for so long in the face of fascism and bigotry.
“I have no intention of supporting this incoming administration in any way whatsoever. With the transition team and other appointments being floated in the press, President-elect Trump has made it clear that racism, sexism, bigotry, assault, discrimination of all kinds, and the destruction of basic civil liberties are foundational to his administration’s philosophy. I refuse to be complicit in the work of the Trump administration and cannot in good faith remain part of a professional organization that chooses to be complicit.”
Anthony Bourdain,currently host of CNN’s travel and food show Parts Unknown, was asked in a recent interview about sushi chef Alessandro Borgognone’s decision to move his restaurant to Trump’s Washington, DC, hotel. Bourdain said he would “never eat in his restaurant” and felt “utter and complete contempt” for the chef. He explained, “I’m not asking you to start putting up barricades now, but when they come and ask you, ‘Are you with us?’ you do have an option. You can say, ‘No thanks, guys. I don’t look good in a brown shirt. Makes me look a little, I don’t know, not great. It’s not slimming.’” In a tweet on December 22, Bourdain said, “I am not ‘boycotting’ anything. I choose to not patronize chefs who tacitly support deporting half the people they’ve ever worked with”—clear reference to Trump’s threat to deport millions of Mexican immigrants.
José Andrés operates more than a dozen restaurants in cities including Washington, DC; Miami; Las Vegas; and Los Angeles. In 2015, after Trump made disgusting racist comments about Mexican immigrants, Andrés withdrew the commitment he’d made to open a restaurant in Trump’s new DC hotel. Trump sued him for breach of contract, seeking $10 million in damages. Andrés countersued, and said, “More than half of my team is Hispanic, as are many of our guests. And, as a proud Spanish immigrant and recently naturalized American citizen myself, I believe that every human being deserves respect, regardless of immigration status.” Andrés tweeted on December 19: “I am a proud immigrant!! To my fellow immigrants thank you for the amazing work you do every day. #ToImmigrantsWithLove” Trump is required to appear to be deposed in Andrés’s suit, just weeks before his scheduled inauguration.
Fiona Apple's Christmas Song: "Trump's nuts roasting on an open fire..."
At the December 18 “We Rock with Standing Rock” benefit concert in Los Angeles, singer Fiona Apple did a fiery performance of her version of the Christmas standard “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire” that begins: “Trump’s nuts roasting on an open fire...” She ends with “Donald Trump... Fuck You!” to the loud cheers of the audience. Watch it here:
George Polisner, Executive of Tech Company Oracle: "I am here to oppose [Trump] in every possible and legal way"
George Polisner, a top executive at the tech corporation Oracle, publicly resigned from the company on December 19 after Oracle co-CEO Safra Catz announced she was going to join Trump’s presidential transition team. Catz was among the executives from major tech companies, including Amazon, Google, and Apple, who met with Trump last week—a shameful meeting that helped to lend legitimacy to the Trump-Pence fascist cabal. When Polisner learned of this, he sent his letter to Catz and at the same time posted it on the LinkedIn website.
His resignation letter says in part, “Trump stokes fear, hatred and violence toward people of color, Muslims and immigrants. It is well-known that hate crimes are surging as he has provided license for this ignorance-based expression of malice.... He seeks to eviscerate environmental protections, the public education system, LGBTQ rights and women’s rights.”
And Polisner says in the letter: “I am not with President-elect Trump and I am not here to help him in any way. In fact—when his policies border on the unconstitutional, the criminal and the morally unjust—I am here to oppose him in every possible and legal way.” (emphasis in the original)
Polisner told the UK Guardian that he decided to make his resignation letter public because he “decided it was too important to die as a private letter” and that “I thought I could either be a role model in terms of a path forward or a cautionary tale.”
Actor Michael Sheen: "In the same way as the Nazis had to be stopped in Germany in the Thirties, this thing that is on the rise has to be stopped"
Michael Sheen is a Welsh stage and screen actor whose work includes starring roles in the 2008 film Frost/Nixon and the current Showtime series Masters of Sex. On December 17, the Sunday Times of London ran a profile on him, titled “Michael Sheen gets political. This time it’s for real.” The writer of the profile had expected Sheen to discuss his role in the upcoming sci-fi film Passengers. “Instead, Sheen, 47, wants to talk about politics. Lately, it’s been bothering him a lot. No, that’s not nearly strong enough. What he calls the ‘demagogic, fascistic’ drift of politics in the western world in the past few years, culminating in Donald Trump’s election victory, has left Sheen horrified, furious and determined to do everything he can to counter it. It’s why, after several years of increasing commitments to a broad spread of causes, including the NHS, Unicef, the Freedom of Information Act, fighting homelessness and campaigning against fracking, the actor is preparing to go all in. He plans to start fighting the rise of the ‘hard populist right’—evident in France, Austria, Poland, Hungary, the Netherlands, Britain and the United States—via grassroots organizing in his beloved Port Talbot (he pronounces it “P’Talbot”) and see where it takes him.” (Port Talbot is Sheen’s hometown in Wales.)
Later, the profile quotes Sheen saying, “In the same way as the Nazis had to be stopped in Germany in the Thirties, this thing that is on the rise has to be stopped. But it has to be understood before it can be stopped.”
The whole profile is available at the Times website here (the site requires registration for free access).
100+ Professors at Notre Dame Say: We are coming forward to stand with the professors you have called "dangerous"
A website called “Professor Watchlist,” run by a group called Turning Point USA, has posted the names of more than 200 professors they accuse of putting forward “leftist propaganda” and “discriminating” against right-wing students. This campus witch-hunt is a sign of the time of Trump.
Among the names appearing on the Watchlist are two Notre Dame academics: philosophy professor Gary Gutting and Iris Outlaw, director of Multicultural Student Programs and Services. The Watchlist said Gutting was added because he wrote that the country’s “permissive gun laws are a manifestation of racism,” and Outlaw because she “taught a ‘white privilege’ seminar that pledged to help students acknowledge and understand their white privilege.”
In response, more than 100 Notre Dame faculty members published an open letter in the Observer, the student newspaper at Notre Dame, defying the Professor Watchlist. Their statement said in part: “We surmise that the purpose of your list is to shame and silence faculty who espouse ideas you reject. But your list has had a different effect upon us. We are coming forward to stand with the professors you have called ‘dangerous,’ reaffirming our values and recommitting ourselves to the work of teaching students to think clearly, independently, and fearlessly.
“So please add our names, the undersigned faculty at the University of Notre Dame, to the Professor Watchlist. We wish to be counted among those you are watching.”
In his December 5 piece titled "Trump's Agents of Idiocracy," in the New York Times, columnist Charles Blow wrote:
"What if Trump has shown himself beyond doubt and with absolute certainty to be a demagogue and bigot and xenophobe and has given space and voice to concordant voices in the country and in his emerging Legion of Doom cabinet? In that reality, resistance isn't about mindless obstruction by people blinded by the pain of ideological defeat or people gorging on sour grapes. To the contrary, resistance then is an act of radical, even revolutionary, patriotism. Resistance isn't about damaging the country, but protecting it..."
MIT Faculty: "The President-elect has appointed individuals to positions of power who have endorsed racism, misogyny and religious bigotry, and denied the widespread scientific consensus on climate change."
More than 500 members of the faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have issued a statement opposing Trump’s official appointments and “upholding the value of science and diversity.” The signers include people from every academic department at MIT, nine department and program heads, and four Nobel Prize recipients. Notable signatories to date include Susan Solomon, Co-Chair of the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; Tim Berners-Lee, World Wide Web inventor; Noam Chomsky, Institute Professor Emeritus; Joichi Ito, Director of the MIT Media Lab; and Junot Díaz, Pulitzer Prize winning author.
This is an important development, and this kind of stand needs to spread to other campuses and through the academic community, even as people get more clarity on the actual fascist nature of Trump and the incoming regime. Read the MIT faculty statement here.
Shaun King: "No, we should not wait and see what a Trump administration does. We should organize our resistance right now."
New York Daily News columnist Shaun King's writes: "Now, in the name of a peaceful transition, both President Obama and Hillary Clinton are striking a conciliatory tone. I understand that such a tone is a tradition in American politics, but everything about Donald Trump and this election breaks with tradition. President Obama may feel obligated to strike such a tone, but I don't have such an obligation. Perhaps President Obama feels that by striking such a tone, it makes it more likely that Donald Trump will be moderate after his inauguration. I don't believe that for one second."
His column concludes: "We can't wait until he does those things before we act against him. We must outsmart and out-organize his team. I implore you to ignore anybody saying anything other than that. They've been wrong all year. We must act and we must act now."
Green Day at American Music Awards, November 20: NO TRUMP! NO KKK! NO FASCIST USA!
During the live TV broadcast of the American Music Awards on Sunday night, November 20, the punk rock band Green Day let loose with a defiant condemnation of Donald Trump. In the middle of performing “Bang Bang,” from their latest album RevolutionRadio, the band, led by singer Billie Joe Armstrong, broke into the chant:
“No Trump! No KKK! No fascist USA!”
ABC TV executives were reportedly thrown “completely off guard.” The audience gave Green Day a standing ovation.
This is the kind of bold, truth-telling denunciation of Trump—calling out what he actually represents—that we need much more of, right now!
“Farewell, America” by author Neal Gabler, November 10
Whatever place we now live in is not the same place it was on Nov. 7. No matter how the rest of the world looked at us on Nov. 7, they will now look at us differently ...
With Trump's election, I think that the ideal of an objective, truthful journalism is dead, never to be revived. Like Nixon and Sarah Palin before him, Trump ran against the media, boomeranging off the public's contempt for the press. He ran against what he regarded as media elitism and bias, and he ran on the idea that the press disdained working-class white America. Among the many now-widening divides in the country, this is a big one, the divide between the media and working-class whites, because it creates a Wild West of information – a media ecology in which nothing can be believed except what you already believe.
With the mainstream media so delegitimized — a delegitimization for which they bear a good deal of blame, not having had the courage to take on lies and expose false equivalencies — they have very little role to play going forward in our politics. I suspect most of them will surrender to Trumpism — if they were able to normalize Trump as a candidate, they will no doubt normalize him as president. Cable news may even welcome him as a continuous entertainment and ratings booster. And in any case, like Reagan, he is bulletproof. The media cannot touch him, even if they wanted to. Presumably, there will be some courageous guerillas in the mainstream press, a kind of Resistance, who will try to fact-check him. But there will be few of them, and they will be whistling in the wind. Trump, like all dictators, is his own truth.
Architect Resigns from Association for Pledging to “Play Nice” with Trump
days after Trump’s election, Robert Ivy, the CEO and executive
vice president of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), sent a
memorandum to the organization's members saying, “The AIA and
its 89,000 members are committed to working with President-elect
Trump to address the issues our country faces, particularly
strengthening the nation’s aging infrastructure. … It is
now time for all of us to work together to advance policies that help
our country move forward.”
Frederick “Fritz” Read, the founder and head of Read &
Company Architects in Baltimore, saw this, he acted immediately. He
sent a letter condemning Ivy’s statement and declaring his
resignation from the AIA. He wrote: “The alacrity with which
Robert Ivy hopped out there to promise the President-Elect that the
AIA will play nice with his administration, without even a pro forma
caution that what Mr. Trump has promised and threatened are deeply
antithetical to the values that many of us cherish, is the final
straw for me, the last bit of evidence I needed, that our only
serious interest as an organization has become a craven interest in
securing our piece of the action. The AIA does not represent my
personal or professional interests. Please consider this my
resignation from the AIA, effective immediately, and remove both my
name and that of my firm from your membership records. I am
a subsequent email to an official of the Baltimore AIA chapter who
talked about how AIA relations with the U.S. government have always
been and should continue to be “neutral,” Read wrote: “Am
so curious how a pledge made explicitly on behalf of all 89,000
members of open-ended and unqualified support for a
climate-change-denying, xenophobic, racist, sexist, repeated bankrupt
can possibly be understood as a statement of organizational
neutrality. … Ours is not an honorable history of willingness
to forgo enrichment simply on principle, and this statement slips all
too closely to the worst of that: are we all too young or forgetful
to recall that Albert Speer was one of ours?” Speer was
Hitler’s chief architect who headed major projects under the
Nazi regime and became Minister of Armaments and War Production
during World War 2.
mounting criticism from architects, architecture faculty, and other
architecture professionals, Ivy and other leading AIA officials were
forced to apologize to the membership for their craven remarks about
working with the Trump administration.
more about this here at Architect News online
Center for Biological Diversity: “Lash Out at the Darkness and Fight Like Hell”
the November 10 issue of their online newsletter “Endangered
Earth,” the Center for Biological Diversity included a
statement saying, “We're
only thinking about one thing right now: stopping Donald Trump from
destroying the planet.” The statement goes on to say, “If
President Trump carries out the disastrous promises he made while
campaigning, the Environmental Protection Agency will be gutted, the
Endangered Species Act will be repealed, old-growth forests will be
clearcut, hard-fought global climate change agreements will be
undermined, and polluters will be given free rein over our water and
the center vowed, “There's no way in hell we're letting that
happen.” Read the entire statement here.
Jewish historians speak out on the election of Donald Trump
Hostility to immigrants and refugees strikes particularly close to home for us as historians of the Jews. As an immigrant people, Jews have experienced the pain of discrimination and exclusion, including by this country in the dire years of the 1930s. Our reading of the past impels us to resist any attempts to place a vulnerable group in the crosshairs of nativist racism. It is our duty to come to their aid and to resist the degradation of rights that Mr. Trump's rhetoric has provoked.
However, it is not only in defense of others that we feel called to speak out. We witnessed repeated anti-Semitic expressions and insinuations during the Trump campaign. Much of this anti-Semitism was directed against journalists, either Jewish or with Jewish-sounding names. The candidate himself refused to denounce—and even retweeted--language and images that struck us as manifestly anti-Semitic. By not doing so, his campaign gave license to haters of Jews, who truck in conspiracy theories about world Jewish domination.
Issa Rae, Actor: "The scariest part is how normal it's becoming to some people"
Issa Rae is star of the HBO series Insecure. Sunday night, January 9, on the red carpet at the Golden Globes awards in Los Angeles., she was asked what she thought of Trump. Rae said:
Every single time I see a tweet from that man, every single time I see the administration that he’s bringing in, it just gets worse and worse. And the scariest part to me is how normal it’s becoming to some people. And I think we just have to keep calling things out, it’s like nope, you’re lying, nope, that’s not true, nope, that doesn’t work that way. As long as we don’t continue to let him slide, then there might be some hope, but it’s scary.
Actor Debra Messing: "This is a regime that will strip away the rights of millions..."
Debra Messing, best known for her starring role in the TV comedy series Will & Grace, tweeted on December 18:
This is a regime that will strip away the rights of millions. Threaten the lives of millions. And threatens the planet. #NOFASCISTUSA
Messing is one of the signatories of the Call to Action of RefuseFascism.org. On Wednesday, January 4, when the Call appeared as a full page in the New York Times, she tweeted a photo of that Times page with the #NoFascistUSA hashtag and link to refusefascism.org.
Literary Magazine Editor Philip Elliot: "Fascism is rising. Not just in the U.S. but across Europe too"
Philip Elliot is the editor-in-chief of Into The Void, a print and digital literary magazine based in Dublin, Ireland, “dedicated to providing fantastic fiction, nonfiction, poetry and visual art from all over the world.” In a recent roundtable with several editors, the online journal The Review Review asked the question “How Will a Trump Presidency Impact Literary Magazines?” Elliot answered:
Fascism is rising. Not just in the U.S. but across Europe too. In the West we’re experiencing similar circumstances that led to its rise a century ago and now the wheel has turned again. People say to me, especially because I live in Ireland, that I’m overreacting to this; that’s it’s just more politics, everything will blow over, etc. They fail to see the bigger picture. What’s been put into motion here, catalyzed by the election but arisen from a far more complex sense of discontent and fear, is the greatest threat to our newly-progressive societies that we’ve ever seen. More than anything else, my fear is that we as artists and curators of art will allow our way of thinking to become the “It’s just politics, it will all blow over soon” attitude. I fear that because nothing terrible is going to happen right away, we will normalize this whole affair and accept it. What people forget is that Hitler began his slow climb to absolute power in 1918. Bad things are coming, that’s for certain, but they will come slowly, and they will come under the guise of good. As writers, we peer under the masks of things for a living and that skill is more important now than ever. Art’s duty to criticize the bad and protect the good is infinitely more important in times of darkness. It reminds us what we can be. And it must also remind us of the terrible evil we once did. Because if we truly remembered, how could we have let this happen again? At Into the Void, we’ll be paying close attention to work that criticizes the actions of our supposed leaders in the months and years to come.
Petition Against Museum Loan of Art for Inauguration: "We object...to an implicit endorsement of the Trump presidency"
When the St. Louis Art Museum announced that they were making an artwork from their collection available on loan to serve as a centerpiece of the Trump inauguration luncheon, art historian Ivy Cooper and artist Ilene Berman began an online petition calling for the cancellation of the loan. According to the petition, the 1855 painting, “Verdict of the People” by George Caleb Bingham, “depicts a small-town Missouri election, and symbolizes the democratic process in mid-19th century America.” The petition goes on to say:
We object to the painting’s use as an inaugural backdrop and an implicit endorsement of the Trump presidency and his expressed values of hatred, misogyny, racism and xenophobia. We reject the use of the painting to suggest that Trump’s election was truly the “verdict of the people,” when in fact the majority of votes—by a margin of over three million—were cast for Trump’s opponent. Finally, we consider the painting a representation of our community, and oppose its use as such at the inauguration.
Art can be used to make powerful statements. Its withdrawal can do the same. Join us in our campaign.
As of January 6, close to 2,700 people have signed the petition, which is available here.
Gothamist.com on Refuse Fascism NY Times Ad: "It's a Noble Cause..."
Rosie O’Donnell, Debra Messing, and a handful of celebrities and activists have joined forces with RefuseFascism.org, a Cornel West and Carl Dix-helmed group dedicated to opposing the incoming Trump Administration and calling Trump’s presidency “illegitimate.”
The group took out a full page ad in the Times yesterday calling for a month long resistance effort against Trump: [facsimile of the ad is included]
Refuse Fascism is also asking for donations to help reprint the Times ad in papers across the country, as well as “to support volunteers going to D.C., to produce millions of copies of Refuse Fascism material and get them out everywhere, and to support organizers and speakers.”
It’s a noble cause, and there’s nothing wrong with celebrities speaking out. Influential people should be speaking out against Trump, and advocating activism, and fighting him at every turn....
Rafael Jesús González, Poet and Literature Professor: “Full-fledged U.S. fascism has come”
Rafael Jesús González, poet and Professor Emeritus of Creative Writing & Literature, has taught at the University of Oregon, Western State College of Colorado, Central Washington State University, the University of Texas El Paso, and Laney College, Oakland where he founded the Mexican and Latin American Studies Dept. In a New Year’s Eve blog post, González wrote of Donald Trump:
Shall I repeat the litany of his faults—his misogyny, his racism, his homophobia, his bigotry, his profound ignorance? His analysis, his description, his judgment of anything does not go beyond stock superlatives; he knows nothing of ideas, much less policy, not an iota of science. “I am a business man,” he says proudly as if that justified all his conniving, his dishonesty, his thievery. Should we doubt it, he has his billions to prove it. So the empire now gets its own, homegrown Caligula. Sociopathic megalomaniac, he too may come to declare himself divine. True, we have been governed by criminals before (can one govern an empire and not be criminal?), but this is a case apart.
It is the cruelty I fear, the utter heartlessness in the face of suffering, the willingness, nay, the intent to cause suffering and pain. Nor compassion nor justice is a hallmark of the 1%, the Republican Party he represents and that brought him to power. (Being a Democrat is no guarantee of decency, but it seems that a decent Republican is an oxymoron.) With Republican control of Congress, the Supreme Court, and the Executive (the proposed Cabinet reads like a Hitlerian wish-list), full-fledged U. S. fascism has come, a fascism prepared to destroy the Earth itself for the sake of wealth and power. Can it be called anything but madness?
He went on to write:
Democracy once lost is very hard to restore. Our resistance must be immediate and overwhelming, our love fierce, our joy protected. Our homes, our neighborhoods, our cities must be made bulwarks of justice, of refuge. Our schools sanctuary of freedom of thought and inquiry, our churches voices for justice rooted in compassion. Much is demanded of us and great may be the sacrifice, but if we all share it, it will be much, much less. Let us then take to the streets and public places dressed in our most joyful colors, making music with our drums and flutes, dragging our pianos out our doors if we must, dancing, singing, chanting, turning all our art into protest and celebration—and make our spaces truly our own.
Read the whole piece by Rafael Jesús González, titled “Thoughts for the Last Day of the Year 2016,” available in English and Spanish here.
More Than 1,100 Law Professors Tell Senate to Reject Sessions Nomination
More than 1,100 law school professors from across the country are behind a letter sent to the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, January 2, calling for the rejection of Trump’s nomination of Jeff Sessions for attorney general. The letter says (in full):
We are 1140 faculty members from 170 different law schools in 48 states across the country. We urge you to reject the nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions for the position of Attorney General of the United States.
In 1986, the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee, in a bipartisan vote, rejected President Ronald Reagan’s nomination of then-U.S. Attorney Sessions for a federal judgeship, due to statements Sessions had made that reflected prejudice against African Americans. Nothing in Senator Sessions’ public life since 1986 has convinced us that he is a different man than the 39-year-old attorney who was deemed too racially insensitive to be a federal district court judge.
Some of us have concerns about his misguided prosecution of three civil rights activists for voter fraud in Alabama in 1985, and his consistent promotion of the myth of voter-impersonation fraud. Some of us have concerns about his support for building a wall along our country’s southern border. Some of us have concerns about his robust support for regressive drug policies that have fueled mass incarceration. Some of us have concerns about his questioning of the relationship between fossil fuels and climate change. Some of us have concerns about his repeated opposition to legislative efforts to promote the rights of women and members of the LGBTQ community. Some of us share all of these concerns.
All of us believe it is unacceptable for someone with Senator Sessions’ record to lead the Department of Justice.
The Attorney General is the top law enforcement officer in the United States, with broad jurisdiction and prosecutorial discretion, which means that, if confirmed, Jeff Sessions would be responsible for the enforcement of the nation’s civil rights, voting, immigration, environmental, employment, national security, surveillance, antitrust, and housing laws.
As law faculty who work every day to better understand the law and teach it to our students, we are convinced that Jeff Sessions will not fairly enforce our nation’s laws and promote justice and equality in the United States. We urge you to reject his nomination.
To read the statement with list of signatories go here.
Outrage at Simon & Schuster's Book Deal for Pro-Trump Racist
When the book publisher Simon & Schuster recently signed Milo Yiannopoulos, writer for Breitbart News Network, to a $250,000 book deal for the Threshold imprint, there was immediate outrage. Breitbart is a neo-Nazi, misogynistic, white-supremacist website whose former owner, Steve Bannon, is now Trump’s chief strategist and senior counselor. As technology editor at Breitbart, Yiannopoulos promoted the vicious campaign known as “GamerGate,” a flood of viciously degrading attacks and terroristic threats against the very small number of prominent women in the video-game development community. Among the despicable things he’s written is: “...Donald Trump and the rest of the alpha males will continue to dominate the internet without feminist whining. It will be fun! Like a big fraternity...” And Yiannopoulos was banned from Twitter this summer after his followers mounted a racist harassment campaign against Black comedian/actor Leslie Jones.
After the Simon & Schuster signing of Yiannopoulos, the Chicago Review of Books tweeted:
In response to this disgusting validation of hate, we will not cover a single @simonschuster book in 2017.
A bookstore in Dublin, Ireland, tweeted that it would not be carrying any Simon & Schuster titles:
Sometimes it’s a tough call for bookshops between respecting free speech and not promoting hate speech. Sometimes not. Byebye
Writer Danielle Henderson’s memoir is scheduled for publication by Simon & Schuster next year. Henderson wrote in a series of tweets:
I’m looking at my @simonschuster contract, and unfortunately there’s no clause for “what if we decide to publish a white nationalist”
But know this: i’m well aware of what hill I am willing to die on, and my morals and values are at the top of that list.
I will happily go back to slinging coffee—I’m not afraid to stand for what I believe in, and I make a MEAN cappuccino foam
Comedian Sara Silverman tweeted:
The guy has freedom of speech but to fund him & give him a platform tells me a LOT about @simonschuster YUCK AND BOO AND GROSS
Shannon Coulter, a marketing specialist who started a campaign to boycott Ivanka Trump products, tweeted (“@Lesdoggg” is Leslie Jones’ Twitter handle):
@simonschuster are you concerned $250k book deal you gave Milo Yiannopoulos will read as condoning the racist harassment @Lesdoggg endured?
Poet Nikky Finney: Talladega College should stand with others "protesting the inauguration of one of the most antagonistic, hatred spewing, unrepentant racists"
The January 2 announcement that Talladega College, a historically Black college in Alabama, would send its marching band to be part of Trump’s inauguration march was met with immediate outrage from many students and alumni. Nikky Finney, a poet whose 2011 work Head Off & Split won the National Book Award, is an alumna of Talladega and currently a chair in creative writing and Southern Studies at the University of South Carolina. Finney said of Talladega’s decision:
The news that Talladega College has forgotten its steady and proud 150 years of history, by making the decision to not stand in solidarity with other clear-eyed and courageous people, academic institutions, and organizations, protesting the inauguration of one of the most antagonistic, hatred-spewing, unrepentant racists, has simply and unequivocally broken my heart today. Historical Black colleges are duty bound to have and keep a moral center and be of great moral consciousness while also teaching its students lessons about life that they will need going forward, mainly, that just because a billionaire—who cares nothing about their 150 years of American existence—invites them to a fancy, gold-plated, dress-up party, they have the moral right and responsibility to say “no thank you,” especially when the blood, sweat, and tears and bodies, of black, brown, and native people are stuffed in the envelope alongside the RSVP.
This should have been a teachable moment for the President of Talladega College instead it has become a moment of divisiveness and shame. Bags of money and the promise of opportunity have always been waved in front of the faces and lives of struggling human beings, who have historically been relegated to the first-fired and the last-hired slots of life. It has been used to separate us before. It has now been used to separate us again.
Stan Van Gundy, Detroit Pistons Coach: "We have just thrown a good part of our population under the bus"
Speaking about Trump after his election victory, Stan Van Gundy, coach of the National Basketball Association (NBA) Detroit Pistons, said in part:
We have just thrown a good part of our population under the bus, and I have problems with thinking that this is where we are as a country. It’s tough on [the team], we noticed it coming in. Everybody was a little quiet, and I thought, “Well, maybe the game the other night.” [The Pistons were badly beaten in the game that night.] And so we talked about that, but then Aron Baynes said, “I don’t think that’s why everybody’s quiet. It’s last night.”
It’s just, we have said—and my daughters, the three of them—our society has said, “No, we think you should be second-class citizens. We want you to be second-class citizens. And we embrace a guy who is openly misogynistic as our leader.” I don’t know how we get past that.
Martin Luther King said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but bends toward justice.” I would have believed in that for a long time, but not today.... What we have done to minorities... in this election is despicable. I’m having a hard time dealing with it. This isn’t your normal candidate. I don’t know even know if I have political differences with him. I don’t even know what are his politics. I don’t know, other than to build a wall and “I hate people of color, and women are to be treated as sex objects and as servants to men.” I don’t know how you get past that. I don’t know how you walk into the booth and vote for that. I understand problems with the economy. I understand all the problems with Hillary Clinton, I do. But certain things in our country should disqualify you. And the fact that millions and millions of Americans don’t think that racism and sexism disqualifies you to be our leader, in our country....
We presume to tell other countries about human-rights abuses and everything else. We better never do that again, when our leaders talk to China or anybody else about human-rights abuses. We just elected an openly, brazen misogynist leader and we should keep our mouths shut and realize that we need to be learning maybe from the rest of the world, because we don’t got anything to teach anybody...
To see a YouTube of Van Gundy’s remarks (along with another NBA coach, Gregg Popovich) go here.
Scientist Lawrence M. Krauss on "Donald Trump's War on Science"
Lawrence M. Krauss is a theoretical physicist and cosmologist who is Foundation Professor of the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University, and director of its Origins Project. He was one of the producers of the documentary film The Unbelievers, which promotes a scientific view of the world. An article by Krauss appeared in the December 13 issue of The New Yorker titled, “Donald Trump’s War on Science.” In this article Krauss says:
The first sign of Trump’s intention to spread lies about empirical reality, “1984”-style, was, of course, the appointment of Steve Bannon, the former executive chairman of the Breitbart News Network, as Trump’s “senior counselor and strategist.” This year, Breitbart hosted stories with titles such as “1001 Reasons Why Global Warming Is So Totally Over in 2016,” despite the fact that 2016 is now overwhelmingly on track to be the hottest year on record, beating 2015, which beat 2014, which beat 2013. Such stories do more than spread disinformation. Their purpose is the creation of an alternative reality—one in which scientific evidence is a sham—so that hyperbole and fearmongering can divide and conquer the public.
Bannon isn’t the only propagandist in the new Administration: Myron Ebell, who heads the transition team at the Environmental Protection Agency, is another. In the aughts, as a director at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, he worked to kill a cap-and-trade bill proposed by Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman; in 2012, when the conservative American Enterprise Institute held a meeting about the economics of a possible carbon tax, he asked donors to defund it. It’s possible, of course, to oppose cap-and-trade or carbon taxes in good faith—and yet, in recent years, Ebell’s work has come to center on lies about science and scientists. Today, as the leader of the Cooler Heads Coalition, an anti-climate-science group, Ebell denies the veracity and methodology of science itself. He dismisses complex computer models that have been developed by hundreds of researchers by saying that they “don’t even pass the laugh test.” If Ebell’s methods seem similar to those used by the tobacco industry to deny the adverse health effects of smoking in the nineteen-nineties, that’s because he worked as a lobbyist for the tobacco industry.
When Ebell’s appointment was announced, Jeremy Symons, of the Environmental Defense Fund, said, “I got a sick feeling in my gut.... I can’t believe we got to the point when someone who is as unqualified and intellectually dishonest as Myron Ebell has been put in a position of trust for the future of the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the climate we are going to leave our kids.” Symons was right to be apprehensive: on Wednesday, word came that Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma’s attorney general, will be named the head of the E.P.A. As Jane Mayer has written, it would be hard to find a public official in the United States who is more closely tied to the oil-and-gas industry and who has been more actively opposed to the efforts of the E.P.A. to regulate the environment. In a recent piece for National Review, Pruitt denied the veracity of climate science; he has led the effort among Republican attorneys general to work directly with the fossil-fuel industry in resisting the Clean Air Act. In 2014, a Times investigation found that letters from Pruitt’s office to the E.P.A. and other government agencies had been drafted by energy lobbyists; right now, he is involved in a twenty-eight-state lawsuit against the very agency that he has been chosen to head...
And the Trump Administration is on course to undermine science in another way: through education. Educators have various concerns about Betsy DeVos, Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education—they object to her efforts to shield charter schools from government regulation, for example—but one issue stands above the rest: DeVos is a fundamentalist Christian with a long history of opposition to science. If her faith shapes her policies—and there is evidence that it will—she could shape science education decisively for the worse, by systematically depriving young people, in an era where biotechnology will play a key economic and health role worldwide, of a proper understanding of the very basis of modern biology: evolution....
Taken singly, Trump’s appointments are alarming. But taken as a whole they can be seen as part of a larger effort to undermine the institution of science, and to deprive it of its role in the public-policy debate. Just as Steve Bannon undermines the institution of a fact-based news media, so appointments like Ebell, Pruitt, McMorris Rodgers, Walker, and DeVos advance the false perception that science is just a politicized tool of “the élites.”
...It is not only scientists who should actively fight against this dangerous trend. It is everyone who is concerned about our freedom, health, welfare, and security as a nation—and everyone who is concerned about the planetary legacy we leave for our children.
Mormon Church Members Protest Mormon Tabernacle Choir Singing at Trump's Inauguration
Some members of the Mormon church are protesting the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing at Trump’s inauguration. A petition saying “Mormon Tabernacle Choir Should NOT Perform at Trump Inauguration” has now been signed by close to 19,000 people. It says in part: “As members and friends of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we strongly urge the Church to stop this practice and especially for an incoming president who has demonstrated sexist, racist, misogynistic, and xenophobic behavior that does not align with the principles and teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” The online petition can be found here.
Law Students Speak Out Against Trump's Attorney General Nominee: "Sessions stated that he believed the Ku Klux Klan was okay"
After Trump nominated Alabama white supremacist and Senator Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, the American Constitution Society (ACS) at Harvard Law School—one of the most prestigious law schools in the world—wrote a letter to Trump opposing the nomination and began distributing it for signatures through ACS chapters across the country. As of December 22, it was signed by 1,060 law students from many different schools.
The letter points at some of Sessions’s outrageous record:
*“As a four-term member of the U.S. Senate, former Alabama Attorney General and U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama, Senator Sessions consistently opposed laws advancing civil rights, environmental protections, reproductive rights, criminal justice, voting rights, immigration and marriage equality.”
*“During the unsuccessful confirmation hearing [for federal judgeship in 1986], witnesses testified under oath that Sessions described a white civil rights attorney as a ‘race traitor’; referred to a black attorney as ‘boy’; and called the ACLU, NAACP, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, National Council of Churches and other groups ‘un-American organizations.’”
*“During the 1986 hearing, a former colleague also testified that Sessions stated that he believed the Ku Klux Klan was okay, until he learned its members smoked marijuana.”
National Nurses United: Trump pick for Health and Human Services would throw "our most sick and vulnerable fellow Americans at the mercy of the healthcare industry"
National Nurses United (NNU) is the largest union of registered nurses in the United States. It recently organized a national network of volunteer RNs to go to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation to meet the first aid needs of thousands who were there to stop the Dakota Access oil pipeline. On December 22, the NNU sent a letter calling on the Senate to reject Trump’s nominee for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Tom Price.
According to a NNU press release, the letter says in part: “If confirmed, it is clear that Rep. Price will pursue policies that substantially erode our nation’s health and security—eliminating health coverage, reducing access, shifting more costs to working people and their families, and throwing our most sick and vulnerable fellow Americans at the mercy of the healthcare industry.”
Price has played a major role in attempts by Republicans to undercut or repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Obama’s healthcare law (see “Tom Price, Trump’s Pick for Health and Human Services: A Slasher of Healthcare for the Poor and Women“). The NNU letter says: “Even today, four years after enactment of the Affordable Care Act, we have seen a drop in U.S. life expectancy rates for the first time in decades, millions of people who self-ration prescription medications or other critical medical treatment due to the high out-of-pocket costs, and continuing disparities in our health care system based on race, gender, age, socio-economic status, or where you live.
“While our organization repeatedly voiced concerns that the ACA did not go far enough, repealing the law, especially the expansion of Medicaid which extended health care coverage to millions of low and moderate income adults, and limits on some of the most chronicled abuses in our present insurance based system, would only exacerbate a healthcare crisis many Americans continue to experience...”
Thousands of Doctors Speak Out Against Trump's Pick to Head Health and Human Services
On November 29, the American Medical Association (AMA), which represents about a quarter of doctors in the U.S., issued a statement saying that it “strongly supports” Trump’s nomination to head the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Tom Price, and calling on the Senate to “promptly consider and confirm” him for the position.
In response, three physicians from the University of Pennsylvania—Drs. Manik Chhabra, Navin Vij and Jane Zhu—posted a statement online opposing the Trump nominee. The statement has been signed by over 5,500 doctors as of December 16.
Their statement, “The AMA Does Not Speak for Us,” says in part:
We are practicing physicians who deliver healthcare in hospitals and clinics, in cities and rural towns; we are specialists and generalists, and we care for the poor and the rich, the young and the elderly. We see firsthand the difficulties that Americans face daily in accessing affordable, quality healthcare. We believe that in issuing this statement of support for Dr. Price, the AMA has reneged on a fundamental pledge that we as physicians have taken — to protect and advance care for our patients.
We support patient choice. But Dr. Price’s proposed policies threaten to harm our most vulnerable patients and limit their access to healthcare. We cannot support the dismantling of Medicaid, which has helped 15 million Americans gain health coverage since 2014. We oppose Dr. Price’s proposals to reduce funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, a critical mechanism by which poor children access preventative care. We wish to protect essential health benefits like treatment for opioid use disorder, prenatal care, and access to contraception.
We see benefits in market-based solutions to some of our healthcare system’s challenges. Like many others, we advocate for improvements in the way healthcare is delivered. But Dr. Price purports to care about efficiency, while opposing innovations by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid to improve value and eliminate waste in healthcare. He supports plans to privatize Medicare, a critical program which covers 44 million of our elderly patients.
The AMA’s vision statement includes “improving health outcomes” and “better health for all,” and yet by supporting Dr. Price’s candidacy — and therefore, his views — the AMA has not aligned itself with the well-being of patients.
For the complete statement and list of signatories, go here.
Merrill Miller, Associate Editor of TheHumanist.com: "Now is the time for us to stand in solidarity with those who face oppression"
Merrill Miller is associate editor of TheHumanist.com and Communications Associate at the American Humanist Association. The January/February 2017 issue of the Humanist includes an article by Miller titled, “Who Will We Speak For? Humanism’s Role in Defending Human Rights and Civil Liberties.” The piece starts with the famous quote from Protestant pastor Martin Niemöller, who spent seven years in one of Hitler’s concentration camps, about how he had not spoken out when the Nazis attacked different sections of the people until there was no one left to speak for him.
Miller writes: “For many humanists and those in the progressive community at large, these past weeks have, in some ways, felt like decades. We’ve seen Hillary Clinton win the popular vote for president by an enormous margin and still lose the Electoral College to Donald Trump, who is now president-elect. We’ve seen Stephen Bannon, who fueled the fires of racism, sexism, and bigotry in his time at Breitbart News, named as a chief strategist for the Trump administration, as climate change deniers and individuals with no respect for church-state separation (Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, for one) are being nominated or considered for other top positions. We’ve heard talk of legislation that would chip away at our constitutional right to free, peaceable assembly, such as Washington State Senator Doug Ericksen’s bill to classify street protests as a form of ‘economic terrorism’...
“Humanists are in a unique position to demonstrate outrage...We must harness that capacity for outrage now—not just to defend church-state separation but to protect all of our basic human rights and civil liberties.
“We can start by directing that outrage at the notion that the government would profile and register people based on their race and religion, as the Muslim registry would do. While current discussions of this registry would focus on immigrants, Trump said during his campaign that he would require all Muslims to register, presumably including US citizens. Humanist groups should reach out to their local mosques and Islamic community centers and ask them what their community needs are and how to help...
“Now is the time for us to stand in solidarity with those who face oppression, whether they are undocumented immigrants in danger of losing their basic human dignity or women in danger of losing their hard-won reproductive rights. We must stand up for all people of color and LGBTQ individuals, who are terrified by the bigotry unleashed by Trump’s campaign and his coming presidency. We must stand up for healthcare for the elderly and for everyone in our nation or else more than 22 million people (as estimated by Vox) will be without it, even though a national, single-payer healthcare system should be considered a human right. We must stand with the labor movement to fight for economic justice for all low-wage workers, whose rights will be threatened by Republican-controlled executive, legislative, and judiciary branches of government. We must do all that we can to protect these and other vulnerable communities and individuals, because the very foundations of our democracy, our civil liberties, and our human rights are at stake. If humanists and nontheists don’t speak up for these marginalized groups while we can, there is a distinct possibility that when we’re specifically threatened, there will be no one left to speak for us.”
Andrea Bocelli Fans Raise Uproar to Stop Him from Singing at Trump Inauguration
Apparently Donald Trump is a fan of the famous Italian opera tenor Andrea Bocelli. When word went out that Trump had approached Bocelli to perform at his inauguration, and there were reports that Bocelli had tentatively agreed (which, if true, is utterly shameful), there was a huge uproar of protest from Bocelli’s fans. Some threatened to #BoycottBocelli if he decided to sing on January 20. Here are a few tweets, among many: “Dumped @AndreaBocelli CD’s in trash, won’t be buying tickets to Feb. Orlando concert after all. DONE with him. Will #boycottBocelli forever.” “Please accept the inauguration offer because the Klu Klux Klan makes great fans!” “Contact @AndreaBocelli's booking agent & manager to warn of #BoycottBocelli if he sings for fascist Trump.” One fan wrote on Facebook: “Mr Bocelli, please do not sing for Donald Trump. He stands for racism, misogyny, and hatred of others. Music is beautiful, sacred. Don’t let this man buy you and desecrate art, hope, and beauty.”
In the face of the outrage from so many of his fans, Bocelli announced he would not be performing at the inauguration. Trump’s people claimed that they had rescinded the invitation.
Earlier, in the summer, the widow and daughters of another famous Italian tenor, Luciano Pavarotti, asked Trump to stop using his recording of Puccini’s aria “Nessun Dorma” at his campaign events. They said that “the values of brotherhood and solidarity which Luciano Pavarotti expressed throughout the course of his artistic career are entirely incompatible with the worldview offered by the candidate Donald Trump.”
Hollywood PR Agency Cancels Parties to "defend the values we hold dear"
Sunshine Sachs is a PR agency that represents stars like Leonardo DiCaprio, Ben Affleck and Natalie Portman. Every year they usually hold a big holiday party, on both the East and West coasts. But this year they didn’t feel the usual “holiday cheer.” CEO Shawn Sachs said, “However I felt the morning after [Trump was elected] was nothing compared to how I felt talking to people in this office, those who felt their citizenship—in a matter of moments—was gone or had been lessened... Being the diverse workplace we are, many of us felt under assault.” So Sunshine Sachs cancelled its annual bicoastal holiday celebrations, and will donate the money that would have been spent for the lavish galas to 16 different organizations, including the ACLU, the Human Rights Campaign, the Environmental Defense Fund and Planned Parenthood. The agency sent out an email saying their decision was a gesture to “defend the values we hold dear.”
George Takei Speaks Out Against Trump on Nuclear Weapons and Registry for Muslims
Responding to Trump saying he wants to “strengthen and expand” the nuclear capabilities of the U.S., actor George Takei tweeted on Thursday, December 22: “Trump wants to expand our nuclear arsenal. I think of my aunt and baby cousin, found burnt in a ditch in Hiroshima. These weapons must go.”
“During World War II, the government argued that military authorities could not distinguish between alleged enemy elements and peaceful, patriotic Japanese Americans. It concluded, therefore, that all those of Japanese descent, including American citizens, should be presumed guilty and held without charge, trial or legal recourse, in many cases for years. The very same arguments echo today, on the assumption that a handful of presumed radical elements within the Muslim community necessitate draconian measures against the whole, all in the name of national security....
“Let us all be clear: ‘National security’ must never again be permitted to justify wholesale denial of constitutional rights and protections. If it is freedom and our way of life that we fight for, our first obligation is to ensure that our own government adheres to those principles. Without that, we are no better than our enemies.
“Let us also agree that ethnic or religious discrimination cannot be justified by calls for greater security....”
In a December 8 interview on CNN, Takei said that during World War 2, before they were sent to an internment camp, his family was placed on a registry of Japanese Americans and subjected to a curfew: “We were confined to our homes from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. in the morning, imprisoned in our homes at night. Then they froze our bank accounts. We were economically paralyzed. Then the soldiers came... I remember the two soldiers walking up our driveway, marching up our driveway, shiny bayonets on the rifle, stopping at the front porch and with their fists started banging on the front door and that sound resonated throughout the house....”
Takei connected that history to what is happening today: “It is an echo of what we heard from World War II coming from Trump himself. That sweeping statement characterizing all Muslims. There are more than a billion Muslims in this world. To infer they are all terrorists with that kind of sweeping statement is outrageous, in the same way that they characterized all Japanese Americans as enemy aliens.”
Patti Smith's rendition of Bob Dylan's "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" at Nobel Prize ceremony resonates powerfully today
At the Nobel Prize ceremony in Stockholm, Sweden, singer Patti Smith performed a moving tribute to Bob Dylan, the winner of this year’s laureate for literature. She chose to sing one of Dylan’s songs—“A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall,” released in 1963, a time when the civil rights movement and anti-Vietnam War protests were a sign of the times.
Check out the performance here:
The final stanza, especially, resonates very powerfully today:
“And what’ll you do now, my blue-eyed son?
And what’ll you do now, my darling young one?
I’m a-goin’ back out ’fore the rain starts a-fallin’
I’ll walk to the depths of the deepest black forest
Where the people are many and their hands are all empty
Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters
Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison
And the executioner’s face is always well hidden
Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten
Where black is the color, where none is the number
And I’ll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it
And reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it
Then I’ll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin’
But I’ll know my song well before I start singin’
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall.”
Danny Glover: "We have to fight him every inch"
At a December 7 rally in Washington, DC, to support striking federal workers, actor Danny Glover criticized people who say Trump should be given “a chance.” Glover said, “Give him a chance what? We know who he is. We know exactly who he is. We have to accept that. But we have to fight him every inch. We have to fight him every moment.”
Time magazine had just come with their annual “Person of the Year” issue with Trump on the cover. Glover said, “It’s irresponsible to make him Person of the Year. Based on what? Based on the fact that he won the Electoral College? Based on the fact that he lied to people? Based on the fact that all the stories of all he’s done to women and what he thinks about women? Based on his racism? A racist as Person of the Year? I’m appalled, I’m appalled. I’m angry now that Time magazine would name this person Person of the Year. It’s incredible.” He said this was a “slap in our face” and “the most disrespectful thing.”
Rosie O'Donnell: "Not My President"
Actor and TV personality Rosie O’Donnell has been calling on people to stand up against Trump in a number of recent tweets. In response to someone who tweeted, “we need to organize an anti-Trump inauguration,” O’Donnell tweeted: “no one go – film urself – periscope STANDING keep saying ‘NOT MY PRESIDENT – LIFE – WITH MILLIONS OF OTHERS.” She also wrote “its called STAY HOME – DO NOT WATCH IT.” And she quoted from writer and journalist Norman Cousins: “There is nothing more powerful than an individual acting out of conscience.”
IBM Employees Denounce CEO's Collaboration with Trump
On November 15, IBM Corporation CEO, Ginni Rometty, published an open letter to Donald Trump, offering the tech giant’s cooperation to “advance a national agenda” and offering “ideas that I believe will help achieve the aspiration you articulated” in his Election-night acceptance speech.
The following week, Elizabeth Wood, a senior content specialist in IBM Marketing, wrote her own open letter, denouncing Rometty’s shameless offer to collaborate with the new fascist regime, and resigning from her position.
Wood’s letter said (all emphasis in original):
“Your letter offered the backing of IBM’s global workforce in support of his agenda that preys on marginalized people and threatens my well-being as a woman, a Latina and a concerned citizen. The company’s hurry to do this was a tacit endorsement of his position. ...
“The president-elect has demonstrated contempt for immigrants, veterans, people with disabilities, Black, Latinx, Jewish, Muslim and LGBTQ communities. These groups comprise a growing portion of the company you lead, Ms. Rometty. ...
“When the president-elect follows through on his repeated threats to create a public database of Muslims, what will IBM do? Your letter neglects to mention.1
Wood’s action inspired others at IBM to stand up. In early December, 10 current IBM employees started a petition to Rometty insisting that IBM has “a moral and business imperative to uphold the pillars of a free society by declining any projects which undermine liberty, such as surveillance tools threatening freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom from unreasonable search and seizure,” and that “history teach[es] us that accommodating those who unleash forces of aggressive nationalism, bigotry, racism, fear, and exclusion inevitably yields devastating outcomes for millions of innocents.”2 And they specifically demand that IBM execs respect the right of individual employees to “refuse participation in any U.S. contracts that violate constitutional and civil liberties.”
The petition circulated privately at first, and went public on December 19. It now has at least 500 signatories—employees, former employees, IBM stockholders and others in the tech community. The petition is available online here.
1. On December 16, after Wood’s letter was published, as well as a statement from at least 800 tech workers saying they would refuse to work on such a Muslim registry, IBM, as well as Google, Apple and Uber, all told BuzzFeed that they also would refuse. [back]
2. This history includes the fact that IBM put its precursor to the computer—the IBM punch card sorter system—at the service of Hitler’s genocide of Jewish people. In IBM and the Holocaust, Edwin Black writes: “IBM Germany, using its own staff and equipment, designed, executed, and supplied the indispensable technologic assistance Hitler's Third Reich needed to accomplish what had never been done before—the automation of human destruction. More than 2,000 such multi-machine sets were dispatched throughout Germany, and thousands more throughout German-dominated Europe. Card sorting machines were established in every major concentration camp. People were moved from place to place, systematically worked to death, and their remains cataloged with icy automation.” [back]
Writers Resist NYC: Louder Together for Free Expression
On January 15, writers across the U.S. and other countries are holding Writers Resist events to “focus public attention on the ideals of a free, just, and compassionate society.” The “flagship” event on that day is slated for New York City and is co-sponsored by the writers’ group PEN America. It is described on the PEN America website as a “literary protest” that will be held on the steps of the New York City Library at 5th Avenue and 42nd Street in Manhattan “to defend free expression, reject hate crimes and uphold truth in the face of lies and misinformation.”
The protest “will bring together hundreds of writers and artists and thousands of New Yorkers on the birthday of civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. American poet laureates Robert Pinsky and Rita Dove will each offer hope and inspiration with original ‘inaugural’ poems written for the occasion.”
And, “After the readings and performances, a group of PEN America leaders and any who wish to join will walk the blocks to Trump Tower together to present PEN America’s free expression pledge on the First Amendment signed by over 110,000 individuals to a member of the President-elect’s team. We are confident the reading at the library and the subsequent march, as two distinct but powerful events to uphold free expression and human rights for all, will be powerful.”
According to Writers Resist organizers, in addition to NYC, January15 events are planned for “Houston, Austin, New Orleans, Seattle, Spokane, Los Angeles, London, Zurich, Boston, Omaha, Kansas City, Jacksonville, Madison, Milwaukee, Bloomington, Baltimore, Oakland, Tallahassee, Newport, Santa Fe, Salt Lake, and Portland (Oregon AND Maine) and many other cities.”
For more on the protest and participants, go here.
500 Women Scientists: "We reject the hateful rhetoric that was given a voice during the U.S. presidential election..."
An online letter by a group of women scientists against Trump’s attacks on science and on his hateful poison directed at different sections of the people has gathered over 11,000 signatures from around the world as of December 23. In an article published by Scientific American, ecologist Kelly Ramirez said that, after the Trump-Pence victory, she and a small group of scientist friends began discussing “how can we take action?” On November 17, they posted their letter with signatures of 500 women scientists.
The letter begins: “Science is foundational in a progressive society, fuels innovation, and touches the lives of every person on this planet. The anti-knowledge and anti-science sentiments expressed repeatedly during the U.S. presidential election threaten the very foundations of our society. Our work as scientists and our values as human beings are under attack. We fear that the scientific progress and momentum in tackling our biggest challenges, including staving off the worst impacts of climate change, will be severely hindered under this next U.S. administration. Our planet cannot afford to lose any time.
“In this new era of anti-science and misinformation, we as women scientists re-affirm our commitment to build a more inclusive society and scientific enterprise. We reject the hateful rhetoric that was given a voice during the U.S. presidential election and which targeted minority groups, women, LGBTQIA [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual], immigrants, and people with disabilities, and attempted to discredit the role of science in our society. Many of us feel personally threatened by this divisive and destructive rhetoric and have turned to each other for understanding, strength, and a path forward. We are members of racial, ethnic, and religious minority groups. We are immigrants. We are people with disabilities. We are LGBTQIA. We are scientists. We are women.”
The letter outlines a number of actions that the signers pledge to take “to increase diversity in science and other disciplines.” The complete letter (available in English, Spanish, Portuguese, German, French, Dutch, and Farsi), signatories, and other related information is available online here.
Mystery Writer Elizabeth George: "I will not ever accept what's going on right now in the US as the new normal"
Elizabeth George is a U.S.-based writer of mystery novels set in Great Britain. She is widely known for her series of books featuring Inspector Thomas Lynley. In a recent post titled “Mea Culpa” on her website, part of a series of essays on the 2016 elections, George wrote in part: “...what I cannot forgive is the effort being made on all sides to normalize what is going on, to say ‘let’s give him a chance.’ To this I say that, for me, what’s going on is not the new normal. So far and at the time of my writing this, Donald Trump has given cabinet positions to two of his billionaire friends, has chosen a Wall Street bigwig from Goldman Sachs to head the Treasury Department, has selected a foe not only of women’s rights to choose but also of insurance supplied contraception as his head of Health and Human Services, has chosen a racist as his attorney general, has chosen a climate-change denying non-scientist to head the EPA, has chosen a woman who sank the educational system in Detroit to be the head of the Department of Education.... If at some horrible point in the future, Muslims are told that they must register, I intend to register as a Muslim and I encourage everyone else to do the same. I will not ever accept what’s going on right now in the US as the new normal.”
She closes the essay with: “Normal is actually standing for something and drawing a line in the sand across which racial hatred, religious intolerance, sexual aggression, misogyny, fascism, Nazism, white supremacy, Hitler salutes, the Ku Klux Klan, and LGBTQ persecution dare not cross.
“That’s the new normal, that’s the old normal, and that’s the only normal that I will ever accept or support.”
Playwright and Literature Professor Ariel Dorfman: "Now America Knows How Chile Felt"
Ariel Dorfman is a Chilean-American playwright, novelist, human rights activist and an emeritus professor of literature at Duke University. In an op-ed titled “Now, America, You Know How Chileans Felt” that appeared in the New York Times on December 17, Dorfman describes how after Salvador Allende had won the presidential election in 1970, U.S. President Richard Nixon and the CIA worked to undermine the results, including the assassination of a general who stood in the way of the U.S. plans. When the U.S. was not able to block Allende’s inauguration, “American intelligence services, at Henry A. Kissinger’s behest, continued to assail our sovereignty, sabotaging our prosperity (‘make the economy scream,’ Nixon ordered) and fostering military unrest. Finally, on Sept. 11, 1973, Allende was ousted, replaced by a vicious dictatorship that lasted nearly 17 years. Years of torture, executions, disappearances and exile.”
Dorfman notes the irony of the CIA “now crying foul because its tactics have been imitated by a powerful international rival,” referring to allegations of Russian interference in U.S. elections. He writes that when Donald Trump dismisses those allegations, “he is bizarrely echoing the very responses that so many Chileans got in the early ’70s when we accused the C.I.A. of illegal intervention in our internal affairs.” And Dorman writes, “The United States cannot in good faith decry what has been done to its citizens until it is ready to face what it did so often to the equally decent citizens of other nations. And it must resolve never to engage in such imperious activities again.”
Neveragain.tech: "We refuse to facilitate mass deportations of people the government believes to be undesirable"
On December 13, a group of people who work in tech organizations and companies based in the U.S. issued a strong statement pledging “solidarity with Muslim Americans, immigrants, and all people whose lives and livelihoods are threatened by the incoming administration’s proposed data collection policies.” They said they refuse to build databases of people based on their religious beliefs and to facilitate mass deportations. Their statement was also in defiance of top execs from major tech companies like Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Tesla, and Alphabet (Google), who a day earlier met with Trump, adding to the efforts to normalize fascism.
In a piece titled "Forward Ever, Normal Never: Taking Down Donald Trump" in Monthly Review, Susie Day writes:
"People often compare the ascendance of Trump and his cabinet of deplorables to the rise of the Nazis—taking momentary refuge in the fact that 1933 Germany didn't have the nuclear option. Apropos of Trump's take on flag burning, one of the first things Hitler did as chancellor was to rescind freedom of speech, assembly, the press. . . Then the arrest of political opponents, the forcing of Jews to register their property, wear Stars of David. Remember those "good" Germans, who may have lamented, but went along because they could—because they still fit in to what remained normal?'
Cornel West: “Goodbye, American neoliberalism. A new era is here”
...In this bleak moment, we must inspire each other driven by a democratic soulcraft of integrity, courage, empathy and a mature sense of history – even as it seems our democracy is slipping away.
We must not turn away from the forgotten people of US foreign policy – such as Palestinians under Israeli occupation, Yemen's civilians killed by US-sponsored Saudi troops or Africans subject to expanding US military presence.
As one whose great family and people survived and thrived through slavery, Jim Crow and lynching, Trump's neofascist rhetoric and predictable authoritarian reign is just another ugly moment that calls forth the best of who we are and what we can do.
For us in these times, to even have hope is too abstract, too detached, too spectatorial. Instead we must be a hope, a participant and a force for good as we face this catastrophe.
On November 30, in the middle of a song they were performing at Palacio de los Deportes in Mexico City, the band Guns N’ Roses cut the music and brought a giant piñata of Donald Trump onstage. According to an online TIME magazine report, Axl Rose, the band’s front man, said, “Let’s bring up some people and give them a fucking stick... Express yourselves however you feel.” Fans got up on the stage and began swinging at the piñata.
Undocumented in Trump’s America By Jose Antonio Vargas, November 20
On election night, while making my way through a crowd gathered outside the Fox News headquarters in Midtown Manhattan, a white man wearing a Mets cap patted my back and said through the noise: "Get ready to be deported." Rattled, I made it inside the green room and waited to go on the air.
I am an undocumented immigrant. I outed myself in a very public way in The New York Times in 2011, and since then have appeared regularly on cable news programs, especially on Fox, to humanize the very political and polarizing issue of immigration ...
An abortion doctor on Trump's win: "I fear for my life. I fear for my patients." By Warren M. Hern, November 11
As I've headed to work in recent days to see abortion patients in my office, I have felt bereft: All the premises of my life, work, education, and future were gone. Something very profound in the meaning of the America I know has been destroyed with the election of Donald J. Trump as president ...
Under an unrestrained Donald Trump and this Republican Congress, I fear for my life, I fear for my family, and I fear for my future. I fear for my staff and my patients.
Even more, I fear for my country, and I fear for the world.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: "We cannot let justice be denied by waiting. History has shown us over and over what horrors that leads to."
In a December 1 article for the Washington Post online edition, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar calls for resistance against Trump. Writing from his viewpoint of protecting this country’s “most sacred values,” Abdul-Jabbar criticizes others and their “hide-beneath-the-bed tactic”—like Jack Rosen, president of the American Jewish Congress, who says “we should take a look-and-see approach” and Black Entertainment Television founder and Hillary Clinton supporter Bob Johnson who said African Americans should give Trump “the benefit of the doubt.” He writes that the appointments Trump has been making already show that “these people and their contra-constitutional view are a clear and present danger” and calls for civil disobedience in different forms.
In a November 10 speech in the Irish Parliament, Senator Aodhán Ó Riordáin made a strong speech denouncing Donald Trump as a fascist—and condemning the Irish government's conciliatory response.
After the election of Trump, Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny called to congratulate him and ask whether the annual White House celebration of St. Patrick’s Day was still on. Irish Senator Aodhan O'Riordáin, fired off this response in the Irish Seanad (Senate):
Edmund Burke once said the only way evil can prosper is for good men to do nothing. American has just elected a fascist and the best thing that good people in Ireland can do is to ring him up and ask him if they can still bring the Shamrock on St. Patrick’s Day. I’m embarrassed about what the Irish government has done I can’t believe the reaction from the government. And I don’t use the word fascist lightly. What else would you call somebody threatens to imprison his political opponents? What else would you call somebody who threatens to not allow people of a certain religious faith into their country? What would you say, or how would you describe somebody who is threatening to deport 10 million people. What would you say about somebody who says that the media is rigged, the judiciary is rigged, the political system is rigged. And then he wins the election and the best we can come out with is a call to say is it still ok to bring the shamrock...I am frightened. I am frightened for what is happening in this world and in our inability to stand up to it. I want to ask you, leader, to ask the Minister of Foreign of Affairs into this house and ask him how we are supposed to deal with this monster who has just been elected president of America because I don’t think any of us in years to come should look back on this period and say we didn’t do everything in our power to call it out for what it is.
Andrew Sullivan is a well-known conservative writer and online commentator, currently a contributing editor to the New York magazine. We want to bring to our readers’ attention a November 9 online article by Sullivan titled “The Republic Repeals Itself.” While we have differences with Sullivan overall and with this particular article in certain dimensions, we think he makes important points that are worthy of reflection.
February 9, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Following is an interview by Sunsara Taylor, a follower of Bob Avakian and writer for Revolution newspaper, with a member of the Revolution Club in New York City who took a lot of initiative this past week to spearhead leading teams of people to spread the NO! in different parts of NYC.
Sunsara Taylor: I want to start by asking what you think is the power of NO! and spreading the NO! and the slogan “In the Name of Humanity, We REFUSE to Accept a Fascist America!” that RefuseFascism.org is promoting.
Revolution Club Member: Well, the power of the NO! is not only that it’s refusing what’s going on with everything this fascist force headed by Trump is imposing on so many people, but it gives people something to cohere around and is a way to say that to others that we don’t have to accept this. We’re saying NO! No, we don’t accept it on any level.
Sunsara Taylor: What impact do you think that would have on people to see this all over the place?
Revolution Club Member: The impact it would have is that there are millions out there who don’t like what’s going on. But right now, even though some are showing their anger, they’re not yet sold on really what is the depth of what we are dealing with. Trump-Pence are a fascist force. It’s not just a bad dude, nor a collection of problems, but a whole package that is out to annihilate people on levels that we haven’t seen before. But having the NO! out there would empower people who are seeing a little bit to start seeing the whole thing. It’s part of creating and showing that there’s a force that’s not backing down to this and that is actively searching for more people to be a part of it. It also helps people start talking with each other about what’s going on and how they need to stand up against it, and the need for millions to pour into the streets and drive them out.
Sunsara Taylor: So tell me what you have been doing to spread this NO!
Revolution Club Member: We’ve been going to key areas around the city and talking to people, struggling with them. We go into different shops and make the case to the shop owners and also the people in the store—cuz you’re talking to everyone around. We explain Refuse Fascism is out to stop this whole regime because it’s a fascist threat to all of humanity. Then we listen and respond, you know, “What you’re saying about Trump is right,” or, “What you are saying about Trump is wrong,” because not everybody believes that Trump is a problem or a fascist when you’re immediately talking to them, so you are making the case on, one, that he is fascist, and two, what are they going to do about it?
It’s a large argument. By the time they post the NO! up in their window they have gone through a process of confronting what’s going on and taking a stand. Standing with humanity. And then, showing that to others—spreading it.
Sunsara Taylor: Tell us about the kinds of arguments, the kinds of discussions you had.
Revolution Club Member: We went to one place where a lot of young people come from all over, sort of what people call hipsters, and also a lot of students. And there’s a special school with students not only from the suburbs but the projects all coming into the same school and having to learn with each other. And a couple of colleges. And then just a lot of working people who are not exactly catching the hardest hell, but they are also not living where they have no problems either.
Almost every business that we went to took up a sign so that people could see that they were not standing for anything that Trump is saying. The only ones that didn’t were like parts of chains or a franchise.
As we’d be walking, people would come up and help out for maybe 10 minutes, or ask for a couple of stickers, or say, “You need to go down that block. That’s where all the kids are at,” or something like that. We went into a pizza place and one person was like, “You got to talk to my manager!” And then the manager comes out, and they ask for a stack to get to their daughter at their school so they can hear about this, too.
Mainly people were driven by the fact that they hate what Trump is doing fiercely and they want to show their opposition to everything he’s talking about. And this NO! allows them to do it.
Sunsara Taylor: You walk down the street and how many NO!s would you see?
Revolution Club Member: In that area if you walked down like four or five blocks, it was literally a NO! in every single window. Sometimes two NO!s because they wanted to have a bi-lingual thing. We need them in more languages, but definitely having the two languages up there is good so that nobody is excluded from seeing the information.
So, yeah, you’d see a block, block, block, all down the road. And then you’d see it on, like, fences, on like the community center, like down where the kids play at recess you’d see a bunch of NO!s on the tables and all along there, too. Where the skate boarders are at. Seeing some NO!s even in, like, chalk on the sidewalk, too. I think the posters are still up, and people have been seeing them.
Sunsara Taylor: Where else did you go?
Revolution Club Member: It was pretty crazy because another neighborhood was one of the places where a lot of people voted for Trump. At the same time it had a hotbed of people who are completely targeted by the recent banning of immigration, the threats against DACA and all that. But, there is a lot of deep fear. So it was kinda a special area. We went to one of the main hubs in that neighborhood and literally went to every single store and restaurant in that entire area.
The NO! was on every telephone pole down the street. So you could see them as you are driving and as you’re walking, on every single one. See a big old NO!
In shops, a lot of the owners were deeply concerned with what’s going on. Some talked about their families and had participated in the recent strike of Yemeni bodega owners. So they were definitely resonating with the message of the NO! but they were too afraid to actually put it in their windows, for the most part.
But some of them did. One guy was very emboldened. He was like, “Trump’s crazy. I can’t believe what he’s doing!” And he said that “I want a sign, but don’t make it look like I put it there.” But he let us put it on the front of the shop. And the next person who walked in, the owner, was like, “Look at this! How do you like my new sign?” He had a big NO! Stop Trump and Pence on the window. And the customer looked at it and said, “Oh, I like Trump. Some of my best years were under Reagan.” And the owner was like, “Man, get out of my shop!” It was said as a “joke” and both people laughed, but it was obviously more serious. You could hear the thoughts behind the “joke,” the store owner was like, “Man, you’re full of all this hatred for other people. And not only myself but people in this community.” But at the same time, there’s this contradiction of he’s still working so he’s not going to completely kick the guy out of the store.
A lot of people deeply wanted to contribute in some way. So they would take stacks of stickers or fliers if they didn’t feel they could put up the NO! in their windows. Or, people along the streets would kinda watch our backs. They’d come up and say, “That’s awesome. This should be up everywhere!” An older woman tapped us on the shoulder and said, “This is really good, this is really good.” (giggles)
By the end of the day we had the whole place covered in NO!s. It was beautiful! Incredible! But by the next morning, a person drove by, and they said all the NO!s were taken down in that area. So, we have to go back.
The power of the NO! is incredible and needs to be out everywhere. It needs to be seen by everyone. And more people need to be taking it up and putting it on their shirts and getting it out everywhere.
Sunsara Taylor: Even the fact that somebody took the time to tear down all the NO!s overnight shows that they find it to be a very potent message that they can’t tolerate.
The last question I want to ask you gets to the point you just made, that a lot of people need to be taking up the NO! and spreading it. My understanding is that not only you did this yourself, but you organized and led a number of very new people to do this. Could you to comment on that process?
Revolution Club Member: Yeah, definitely. A big part of what is needed is organizing more organizers. So, as we went out, we made a point of going out together with new people. At first when we went into a shop, they would be a little frightened to make the argument because they don’t know these people. But they knew that this was very important. So they would step up and be like, “Hey, I’m a volunteer with Refuse Fascism.” They would go into the importance of the NO! And they would wait for the response. And they would even tackle some of the harder questions. But it’s a lot easier to do when you are with someone else. By the end of the day, they felt like they could go into almost any deli or any shop and do this. It wasn’t so scary any more. And it was kind of demystified that people are not just born into being able to do all these things.
In other instances, you would have a very experienced volunteer, talking to maybe five or six people, making the case to them. But then a newer volunteer would notice more people stopping and being curious and there was no one else to talk to them. And there was this moment of shock, of like, “Oh crap.” And then maybe, “I guess I could.” And then, “Yes, I will.” Because it’s needed. So they go over there and talk to the people and sign them up. And then just feeling so empowered by actually being able to do it. And it’s no longer an unknown. But it’s a process that many more people can definitely go through and take up.
So, it was pretty awesome being able to see it first hand, people stepping into that.
Sunsara Taylor: Well, thank you very much for talking with me about this.
Mass Upheaval, Political Crisis Rock Romania:
Tens of Thousands Take to the Streets, Night After Night
February 10, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Late Tuesday, January 31, the newly elected Social Democratic Party (a bourgeois or capitalist party) in Romania, a country of 20 million in Southeastern Europe, abruptly rammed through an emergency decree in the dead of night. The decree, which didn’t have to be approved by Parliament, removed criminal penalties on government officials who take bribes or engage in other forms of corruption—as long as the take is less than $47,000. Liviu Dragnea, the head of the Social Democrats, is facing corruption charges and could directly benefit from the law. Romanian courts and judicial bodies have backed some anti-corruption reforms in recent years and immediately challenged the law.
Then something unexpected happened.
The next day 20,000 people took to the streets in the capital, Bucharest. The day after, Wednesday, the numbers grew 10 fold, to 250,000 across Romania, with half protesting in the capital. The government attempted to halt the spread of this mass upheaval by forcing a number of officials to resign and, on February 4, by rescinding the new law. No matter, the next day a half-million people were in the streets, across Romania, 250,000 in Bucharest alone, equivalent to 8 million demonstrating on a single day in the U.S. And these protests haven’t stopped at this writing.
“Thieves, thieves, thieves!” Protesters have shouted. (New York Times, February 2, 2017) “We came to protest against these immoral and mafia-type government methods.” (Democracy Now!, February 1, 2017)
The issue of corruption strikes deeply in Romania, where it is pervasive, and a flashpoint for the many abuses facing the masses in this oppressive and impoverished country. (Romania is one of the poorest countries in the European Union and horse drawn carts are still a frequent sight in Romania’s countryside.)
Protesters interviewed by the New York Times spoke of “constant, everyday bribery—at hospitals, schools and public institutions... Many were infuriated by the government’s decree, which would have directly benefitted some prominent politicians....” (February 10). Doctors told of colleagues forcing patients to give them bribes just to get treatment; patients talked of going to hospitals and having to bribe doormen, nurses, assistants, residents, and doctors. One professor said he’d been under pressure from colleagues to accept bribes to pass failing students, and punished for refusing to do so. “I’ve had to pay bribes in order to get normal things done that should have required no payment,” one Romanian told the New York Times, “like getting power back after it was cut for nonpayment.” When a 2015 nightclub fire in Bucharest killed 64 people, many blamed corruption. It triggered protests and Romania’s prime minister was forced to face corruption charges, the first sitting Romanian prime minister to do so.
Romania’s protests seem to be deepening. Many reportedly have the sense that this new decree is an attack on the rule of law and peoples’ rights. There’s a growing sense of the illegitimacy of the current government and things are in real flux. “We are keeping our positions strong, and we want our government to resign,” one protester said. “Because we cannot trust this government, because they’re crouching in the middle of the night, passing laws for corrupt politicians. We cannot trust this government anymore. So, the only thing that can satisfy us right now is the resignation of the prime minister and the government itself.” (Democracy Now!, February 6, 2017)
These protests are very significant. They show how quickly hundreds of thousands (or millions!) can be propelled into mass political action, and how quickly that in turn can change the whole political landscape—including having the potential to force governments to fall. And Romania’s mass uprising is running counter to the rise of Trump-like, fascist populism across Eastern and Central Europe, including in Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.
Given the urgency of driving the fascist Trump-Pence regime from power, there is much to learn from and be inspired by in the example of the people of Romania.
Doomsday Clock—Two and One-Half Minutes to Midnight
February 11, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Why have Obama and Clinton now “forgotten” the sharpness of their criticisms of Trump during the election campaign—including what they said was the unacceptability of allowing Trump to control the nuclear weapons trigger? To them, better a bourgeois fascist dictatorship than no bourgeois dictatorship at all.
For 70 years, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists has released its yearly “Doomsday Clock,” indicating how close the world is to devastation from nuclear war and other threats. The scientists mark the danger in how close the clock is to midnight. At the end of January, the clock was moved forward 30 seconds, to two and one-half minutes to midnight. This is the closest to midnight the clock has been set since 1953 when the U.S. and the Soviet Union both tested their first thermonuclear weapons. A primary factor in the Bulletin moving the clock to say that humanity faces great danger to its existence was Donald Trump becoming president.
In a January 26 New York Times op-ed, Lawrence Krauss, the Bulletin’s chairman of the board of sponsors, and David Titley, a former chairman of the Navy’s Task Force on Climate Change, wrote, “In 2016, the global security landscape darkened as the international community failed to come to grips with humanity’s most pressing threats: nuclear weapons and climate change. Making matters worse, the United States now has a president who has promised to impede progress on both of those fronts. Never before has the Bulletin decided to advance the clock largely because of the statements of a single person. But when that person is the new president of the United States, his words matter....
“[Trump] has made ill-considered comments about expanding and even deploying the American nuclear arsenal. He has expressed disbelief in the scientific consensus on global warming. He has shown a troubling propensity to discount or reject expert advice related to international security. And his nominees to head the Energy Department, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Office of Management and the Budget have disputed or questioned climate change.” (“Thanks to Trump, the Doomsday Clock Advances Toward Midnight”)
After his election, Trump tweeted that the United States should “greatly strengthen and expand” its nuclear weapons capability and told reporters, “Let it be an arms race because we will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all.” During a September presidential debate, talking about a first-strike nuclear attack, Trump said, “We have to be prepared. I can’t take anything off the table.” He has threatened to use tactical nuclear weapons in the Middle East, and reportedly asked foreign policy advisors, “If we have [nuclear weapons], why can’t we use them?”
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 from the section:
The Cultural Revolution Within the RCP
Now, those general observations bring me to this Party in particular. There has been—it was recognized, more than a dozen years ago now, that there was a need for—a Cultural Revolution within this Party, with everything that implies: a thoroughgoing struggle to transform the whole direction the Party was taking, and the whole character the Party was taking on. This stood in very acute contradiction to the indispensable need for this Party to actually be a revolutionary communist vanguard. Why was it necessary to do something as drastic as this?—and it was and is something drastic, to have a Cultural Revolution within this Party. Because, owing to a lot of the factors that I’ve mentioned, and some others that I’ll touch on, the whole character of this Party was beginning to turn into its opposite, was very seriously on the precipice, on the very edge, of descending into not being a revolutionary communist vanguard, and degenerating into just a clique of reformists who had lost the whole orientation of scientifically going after the problem of radically changing society, bringing about the kind of profound transformation that’s represented by the communist revolution. All this had become very powerfully asserted within this Party, despite and in opposition to the “official line” of the Party and my work and the leadership that I was struggling to provide, to keep the Party on the road of revolution and communism.
There were a lot of different manifestations of this. People here should be familiar with much of this, but there was a whole way in which the Party was turning into what we’ve described as an alternative lifestyle: just a place to hang out with other people who didn’t like the way the world was. The goal of revolution was going out of consideration—it was some far-off, abstract thing that maybe, “one fine day,” some other people would make—while this Party would just sort of keep the banner fluttering weakly in the wind. There was a turning inward, there was a tailing after identity politics, and other reformist trends, rather than an approach of “solid core with a lot of elasticity on the basis of the solid core” (even if that specific formulation had not yet been brought forward, that was the basic orientation and approach that should have been what people were basing themselves on, but instead they were going somewhere else). The work that I was doing, which has been further developed since but which was already quite developed in the direction of what I have outlined about the new synthesis of communism: All of that was being ignored—perhaps “appreciated” on one level and then put on a shelf to gather dust—or it was being opposed, either directly or, to use the parlance of the times, passively aggressively. The whole orientation of being a vanguard of an actual revolution was being given up on—which, it hardly needs saying, was a betrayal of everything the Party is supposed to be about.
In confronting this, it was necessary to approach and analyze it scientifically. Are we still for—do we still understand the need for—the dictatorship of the proletariat? Do we still understand that the goal is communism—and that communism is not just some vague idea of equality, but actually what Marx was talking about when he put forward what has been encapsulated in the formulation the “4 Alls”? Do we even understand that you need a vanguard party—which is kind of a sharp contradiction if you think about the fact that you’re supposed to be a vanguard party, yet you’re falling into questioning whether you need a vanguard party—and is there the orientation that this has to actually be a vanguard party, not some gathering of veteran activists from a previous era when people felt more revolutionary, and felt buoyed up by revolutionary struggle in the world, which has since ebbed? All this did become concentrated around my leadership and the work that I was doing, because, as I said at the time, these questions—do you need the dictatorship of the proletariat? is the goal communism in the sense of what Marx set forth, in fundamental terms? do we actually have to overthrow this system? do we need a vanguard party, that is an actual vanguard of communist revolution, to lead in achieving all this? and what method and approach do we need to learn from the experience of the past, and from broad spheres of human activity, in order to forge forward on this road?—these were the kinds of questions I was working on, assuming, for a long time, that this whole Party was in the same place, grappling with these same contradictions, when it turned out not to be the case at all, with very few exceptions, on every level of the Party. In fact, the rest of the Party was leaving all that aside and—again with very few exceptions—going off into something else, which really didn’t have to do with revolution and communism at all, even if the words were still spoken.
Now, here, let me speak to the question: Why was I doing the work I was doing? Once again, we’re back to for whom and for what. I wasn’t doing this work for myself. When I was young, in middle school and then even more so in high school, my life got changed in a very major way by coming into contact with people that I hadn’t really known that much before, in particular Black people. I started learning about their situation and how that relates to what goes on in this society as a whole. I was drawn to the culture—not just the music and the art overall, but the whole way of going through the world—of the Black people who became my friends, and the world they introduced me to. And I came to the point of recognizing: these are my people. Now, I knew they had a different life experience than I did. But these are my people—I don’t see a separation—it’s not like there are some other people “over there” who are going through all this and somehow that’s removed from me. These are my people. And then I began to recognize more deeply what people were being put through, the oppression they were constantly subjected to, the horrors of daily life as well as the bigger ways in which the system came down on them. And as I went further through life and began to approach the question of what needs to be done about this, and was introduced to taking up a scientific approach to this, I realized that my people were more than this. I realized that my people were Chicanos and other Latinos and other oppressed people in the U.S.; they were people in Vietnam and China; they were women... they were the oppressed and exploited of the world... and through some struggle, and having to cast off some wrong thinking, I have learned that they are LGBT people as well.
These are my people, the oppressed and exploited people of the world. They are suffering terribly, and something has to be done about this. So it is necessary to dig in and systematically take up the science that can show the way to put an end to all this, and bring something much better into being. You have to persevere and keep struggling to go forward in this way. And when you run into new problems or setbacks, you have to go more deeply into this, rather than putting it aside and giving up.
So this is why I’ve been doing the work that I’ve been doing. And this question of what I was doing, the leadership I was providing and what this had brought forward, became the central question—or, as we have put it, the cardinal question—of this Cultural Revolution within the RCP, because this concentrates the fundamental question of whether this Party is going to be a vanguard of the future, or a residue of the past.
This was a very sharply posed, in fact a very dire, situation because, a real vanguard party is a really precious thing for the masses of people. Look, how many times can the masses of people say—in going through life in this shithole of a system—how many times can they say: “We have a force that’s really on our side, all the way, and won’t stab us in the back, or stop short of what we need”? How many times can people say that in the course of their lifetime, and can it really be true? So, it is a precious thing for the masses of people to have a party like that, which did come out of the upsurge of the 1960s and into the early ’70s, and was, in fact, the most important achievement that came out of that whole period and that whole upsurge in this country. Lots of things went backward; lots of forces either got crushed, or went off track, or gave up; lots of people got demoralized, settled in and accepted, went along with, the way things are, or got broken down by the workings of this system—people who’d once been much better. This Party came through that and didn’t do that. But over the decades since, it was worn down by the workings and the influences of this system, and by the fact that people had not been carrying forward the struggle to resist and overcome that, and to follow the leadership that was leading them to have that not happen, and instead to fight to forge further forward on the road we need to be on. Still, you just can’t throw away a party—unless it’s absolutely clear that it can’t be brought back from the road of revisionism and is going into the sewer.
I have to say that, in the twelve years since the Cultural Revolution in this Party was initiated, there have been many times when I’ve said: “Well, we’re just not succeeding with this Cultural Revolution, we’re still not getting this Party back on the road it needs to be on.” This comes up in lots of little ways as well as big ways. For example, I was reading a report about somebody working around RiseUpOctober, and they were carrying out correspondence with a minister they wanted to get involved in this important struggle. Well, the minister sent this comrade an email—this was during the time when the finals of the NBA, the professional basketball championships, were going on, and this was in the Bay Area, where the NBA team there, the Golden State Warriors, was in the championship series, playing against the Cleveland Cavaliers—and the minister is all caught up in this, and in part of his email, while talking about political questions, he also says that he really hopes the Warriors win. And the comrade sends back an email and, among other things, says, Yeah, I hope the Warriors win, too; but, by the way, you really ought to listen to this NBA talk by BA.64
Now, there is a really acute contradiction involved here: The NBA talk by BA is all about how the NBA is not a real contest that takes place mainly on the basketball court, but is more governed by the marketing strategy of the NBA executives, and that they shape the way the playoffs and the championship get worked out. So what’s happening on the court is happening on the court, but it’s being governed by much bigger things, by billion dollar marketing, which is much more shaping which teams are gonna be playing in the championship series, and which will win. So here you have this person saying, Listen to this NBA talk by BA, but, yeah, I hope the Warriors win, too.
If I were the minister reading this, I’d be thinking, “Well, you send me this talk by BA, but, when I listen to it, it seems like you don’t really believe what he says, because you’re also talking about how you hope the Warriors win.” So that, to understate it, is kind of a problem. Once again you have two kinds of goods you’re promoting here. On the one hand, you’re trying to develop something that is very important, RiseUpOctober, but you’re tailing this minister. Instead of coming at it like we have different ideologies, and different views of the fundamental problem and solution, but we have a common interest in fighting this horrible police brutality and murder and mass incarceration, and therefore we should work together to make RiseUpOctober as powerful as it can be, you’re trying to find a way to sort of suck up to this minister, if you want to put it crudely. “Yeah, I want the Warriors to win, too”—instead of presenting the world the way it actually is, including what the NBA is, and then uniting and struggling from that standpoint. This is perhaps a small-scale example—and I don’t want to blow this one example, in and of itself, out of proportion, and pick on the person who fell into this kind of thing in this case—but the fact is that this type of thing has gone on, and still continues to go on, over and over again: You come with a mishmash of communism and populist reformism, and try to maneuver around and tail people, in order to get them to do what you want them to do in the immediate situation, forgetting the larger picture and where it all needs to go.
So this is a real problem, and sometimes it gets discouraging. But, we still need to keep the struggle going, for two very important reasons. Under the present conditions, it would be very difficult to bring into being a new party that could play the vanguard role that’s needed. You don’t just create a party because you want to—you don’t just conjure up a party out of your head—and you can’t just call one forth out of nothing, or out of conditions which at this time are not very favorable for creating that. Secondly—and this is very important—there is still a significant number of people in this Party who dowant to be what they’re supposed to be, who do still want this Party to be the vanguard it needs to be, and there are many people out there who need to be brought into this Party on the basis of what it needs to be, and not on something opposed to that. So, even with all the disappointments, we have to keep carrying forward the fight for that. But I’m just putting this out in very straight terms: This Cultural Revolution has not yet been fully won in this Party. And it is not a Cultural Revolution that has ended, by the way. All too often you hear people talking as if it’s a thing of the past—like, “Yeah, back in the time when we had this Cultural Revolution in the Party....” There are all too many people, on different levels of the Party, referring to this in the past tense—but that is not the case.
The fact is that this Cultural Revolution is still continuing—but in some new forms and in a new framework: continuing the struggle to further transform the Party in the context of transforming the larger world, building the movement for an actual revolution, and, yes, bringing forward waves of new people as a key part of building and strengthening the Party as the leading core of that revolution, even as we’re continuing the struggle to transform the Party to be more and more what it needs to be.
64. Bob Avakian, “The NBA: Marketing the Minstrel Show and Serving the Big Gangsters,” one of the 7 Talks from 2006. Audio available at revcom.us. [back]
Introduction and Orientation
Foolish Victims of Deceit, and Self-Deceit
Part I. Method and Approach, Communism as a Science
Materialism vs. Idealism Dialectical Materialism
Through Which Mode of Production
The Basic Contradictions and Dynamics of Capitalism
The New Synthesis of Communism
The Basis for Revolution
Epistemology and Morality, Objective Truth and Relativist Nonsense
Self and a “Consumerist” Approach to Ideas
What Is Your Life Going to Be About?—Raising People’s Sights
Part II. Socialism and the Advance to Communism:
A Radically Different Way the World Could Be, A Road to Real Emancipation
The “4 Alls”
Beyond the Narrow Horizon of Bourgeois Right
Socialism as an Economic System and a Political System—And a Transition to Communism
Abundance, Revolution, and the Advance to Communism—A Dialectical Materialist Understanding
The Importance of the “Parachute Point”—Even Now, and Even More With An Actual Revolution
The Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America—
Solid Core with a Lot of Elasticity on the Basis of the Solid Core
Emancipators of Humanity
Part III. The Strategic Approach to An Actual Revolution
One Overall Strategic Approach
Hastening While Awaiting
Forces For Revolution
Separation of the Communist Movement from the Labor Movement, Driving Forces for Revolution
National Liberation and Proletarian Revolution
The Strategic Importance of the Struggle for the Emancipation of Women
The United Front under the Leadership of the Proletariat
Youth, Students and the Intelligentsia
Struggling Against Petit Bourgeois Modes of Thinking, While Maintaining the Correct Strategic Orientation
The “Two Maximizings”
The “5 Stops”
The Two Mainstays
Returning to "On the Possibility of Revolution"
Internationalism and an International Dimension
Internationalism—Bringing Forward Another Way Popularizing the Strategy
Part IV. The Leadership We Need
The Decisive Role of Leadership
A Leading Core of Intellectuals—and the Contradictions Bound Up with This
Another Kind of “Pyramid”
The Cultural Revolution Within the RCP
The Need for Communists to Be Communists
A Fundamentally Antagonistic Relation—and the Crucial Implications of That
Strengthening the Party—Qualitatively as well as Quantitatively
Forms of Revolutionary Organization, and the “Ohio”
Statesmen, and Strategic Commanders
Methods of Leadership, the Science and the “Art” of Leadership
Working Back from “On the Possibility”—
Another Application of “Solid Core with a Lot of Elasticity on the Basis of the Solid Core”
The New Synthesis of Communism:
Fundamental Orientation, Method and Approach,
and Core Elements—An Outline
by Bob Avakian
Framework and Guidelines for Study and Discussion
On the Battle at Standing Rock and Resisting Trump: "The whole country is going to have to stand up and take risks"
February 6, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
A special feature of Revolution to acquaint our readers with the views of
significant figures in art, theater, music and literature, science, sports and politics. The views expressed by those we interview are, of course, their own; and they are not responsible for the views published elsewhere in our paper.
seven people were arrested last week in a vicious and unjustified
government assault upon the Water Protectors defending the Standing
Rock Sioux from the Dakota
Access Oil Pipeline (DAPL).
Among those arrested was Chase Iron Eyes, who has been charged with
"inciting to riot" and faces up to five years in prison.
threatens the very existence of the Standing Rock Sioux. Government
authorities at the federal, state, and local levels—as well as
local vigilantes—have launched relentless and utterly illegitimate
attacks upon people rightfully and courageously defending their
rights, and their water. Now the fascist Trump-Pence regime has
given a go-ahead to proceed with construction of DAPL. This
political battle, in which the lines between right and wrong,
between just and unjust, between defending or attacking the people
and the planet itself are so clearly drawn, is likely coming to a
head on February 22. All charges against Chase Iron Eyes and others
arrested Water Protectors must be dropped!
This interview with Chase Iron Eyes, who is one of the initiators of Refuse Fascism, was done by Carl Dix on behalf of Revolution.
Dix: Hello Chase. So, how you
Iron Eyes: OK.
Dix: Did you end up being
held for a couple of days?
Iron Eyes: Yeah, for two days.
Dix: Yes, what I wanted to start
with is, look, Trump greenlighted DAPL.
Iron Eyes: Right.
Dix: What are your thoughts about
that? What was it that people did, and then what happened on
Wednesday, when people took a stand around it? Let's start with
Iron Eyes: Yes, well, Trump
gave a directive to the Department of the Army, the Army Corps of
Engineers, to go ahead and greenlight them to drill under the river.
And he's also indicated that he would like to withdraw or
dismantle whatever progress has been made on EIS, the Environmental
Impact Statement. And it's clear that Trump is representing the
interests of the corporate state. Indeed, what was known all along
to be fascism, in its truly modern form.
Standing Rock is going to be one of the epicenters, as every airport
was, during the Muslim ban, as probably another Indian reservation
will be, when they try to build the wall. There are some Native
nations that are going to say, no, you're not going to build a
with my arrest—seventy seven people were arrested—and I was
charged, me and another woman were charged with inciting a riot, a
felony, punishable by up to five years in prison. I think it's
obviously an effort to neutralize, discredit, and criminalize who
they see as a leader in this movement, this NO DAPL movement which
is now a significant struggle against the interests of the corporate
state, against brutalization and the systemic, long standing
violations of constitutional rights, and corporate violence against
unarmed American citizens. Against Native nationals. What we're
going to witness is, this is going to be the first showdown, the
first real showdown, where armed troops are going to be deployed.
They'll come in with less lethal troops first, but there will be
armed troops there. It's highly, highly militarized. You've been
there yourself, when they raided that new camp.
Iron Eyes: This is what the
next four years look like. I mean, we are in a state of uncertainty.
This is the corporate state, and the fascist state, made real. Made
very... I mean, it's no longer in the realm of academia. People
can talk about the differences between fascism, and tyranny, and
totalitarianism, democracy, and all of that talk. I mean this is
happening in real life. There are human beings that are suffering
because of the policies of Donald Trump.
Dix: Exactly. I want to go
to something else, but before I go—they charged you with inciting
to riot. Was there any rioting?
Iron Eyes: There was
absolutely no rioting. But what's concerning me is not... North
Dakota passed a law—rioting, according to their definition, is
encouraging five or more people to riot, or engage in tumultuous or
violent behavior with a group of a hundred of more people. So it's
not clear, the legal definition of what that law means. We intend to
fight it all the way. We know what they're trying to do. They're
trying to make an example out of me, so somebody who's considered
a leading voice in this fight ... they're going to try very hard
to send me back to prison. I mean, I've been in prison before. But
they're trying to send me back, right now, and it's weighing
heavy on my mind.
But I know that our cause
is righteous, and I know that we don't have any time. The whole
country is going to have to do this. The whole country is going to
have to stand up and take risks. Possibly place their bodies in
front of those who would inflict violence, or discrimination, or
de-humanization, or violate our constitutional or civil or human
rights. This is that time.
Dix: You're hitting some
very important points.
Iron Eyes: When we talk
about the Founding Fathers, and what they stood up for, "life,
liberty, the pursuit of happiness," the "truths that we hold to
be self evident," we call them patriots. And now, in 2017, those
who are standing up for our precious water resources, our natural
resources, our land, the true source of our national security, our
wealth. We are the true patriots, yet we are being called
"eco-terrorists." We are being called traitors, and the people,
the corporations who are extracting our natural resources, our
mineral resources, and putting our water security at risk, for their
private profit benefit in order to sell these resources to foreign
nations which are unfriendly to the United States, they are being
called American. They call us unpatriotic, and we have to think very
hard and look at what that means for America in 2017.
is messy. It's controverted. I mean, we have issues. Deep seated
issues of genocide, of holocaust, slavery, of dehumanization. And
we're having to take a look at... what does that mean for us. A
Trump presidency with a Republican controlled Congress, continuing
to encroach on those rights that a lot of our people, our
demographics, have fought and died for.
know we're talking about whether it's Black Lives Matter, the
feminist movement, the entirety of the peace loving Muslim faith,
the immigrants, some of whom are actually original owners of this
hemisphere who are declared illegal human beings, who have to put up
with a wall... a $23 million wall being put up. I mean, Steve Bannon
is on the National Security Council. So we've got... I mean this
is just one of the fights.
Dix: He is a stone-cold
fascist, You name it and he embraces it.
know we don't have much time so let's get to two more things.
One is you were at one time banned from Facebook. Do you want to
talk about that?
Iron Eyes: Yeah. I posted a
tweet about the nature of what the Trump presidency represents. And,
that it is going to be a war on our rights, on our project and that
we have to meet those threats to our very democracy on the
battlefield. And what I meant by that is that you know we are in a
different time where unarmed revolution and non-violent action—peace
and prayers, if you wanna call it that—that's our strength. I am facing five years in prison now. But we have to be
smarter than the enemy. The enemy is... the enemy isn't the white
man. The enemy is the set of institutions that dehumanizes us, that
is big finance, big extractions, and the military industrial
complex, the set of colonial forces that separated all human beings
from a relationship with their food source, for instance, or with
any kind of relationship with the land. As human beings, that is our
natural inclination to seek a relationship with our natural
universe, and to seek a spiritual liberation. And we... this world
is a big... it's just huge, and it's hard to be calm and to seek
that liberation. Anybody who's spent time camping or any time
outdoors, or if they've ever fasted, there's certain things that
are common to a lot of cultures in the world. That's sort of the
bigger picture. But rightfully so, we get tied up in these very
visceral and brutal injustices that we know stem from racism and
Dix: So your being banned from
Facebook... that was only temporary, you're back on now?
Iron Eyes: Yeah, I'm back
on now. It took me 16 hours to get back on and an article in
BuzzFeed, and they put me back on.
Dix: So a final question for
the interview: 77 of you all are facing charges and some of you are
facing pretty serious and trumped up charges. A lot of people who get
this interview and are gonna be reading this, are very supportive of
the Standing Rock struggle. Is there something that you want to call
on them to do?
Iron Eyes: Yes, I think we
all need to be ready... if you can come to Standing Rock we will
welcome you and we will accommodate you. February 22 is the date that
the Army Corps set to evacuate forcibly. They didn't use those
terms but they are declaring that the camps need to be evacuated on
22nd. So that's gonna be a day of reckoning for everybody there.
If you can't come we are going to call for some sort of direct
action across the country in support of the people who are on the
front line there, who may face an armed state.
Dix: OK, so February 22 is the
day, be in Standing Rock, and if you can't get to Standing Rock,
be standing with Standing Rock wherever you are.
Massacring Men, Women & Children in Yemen...
In the Name of Saving American Lives
February 11, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Nawar al-Awlaki, 8 years old, one of nine children under age 13 who were killed in the raid, January 29, 2017.
On January 29, in the pre-dawn darkness, Navy Seal Team 6 Special Forces and commandos from the United Arab Emirates were helicoptered into central Yemen, the small impoverished country at the tip of the Arabian Peninsula. They landed near a tiny farming village in the Yakla district of al-Bayda province. Plans for the attack were drawn up under President Obama, and now was launched by the Trump-Pence regime. It was reportedly the regime’s first military operation.
The U.S. military had “visited” this village before. In 2013, under Obama, a U.S. drone struck a wedding party there, killing 12 civilians.
On January 29, with U.S. drones flying overhead, 50 soldiers and their military dogs walked toward the village, supposedly on a mission to capture a “high value” member of Al Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula and gather intelligence. The killing began when Sheikh Abdelilah Ahmed al Dahab’s 11-year-old son heard something and looked outside to see what it was. He was shot dead instantly. “No one thought that marines would descend on our homes to kill us, kill our children and kill our women,” al Dahab told the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ), which detailed what happened during this surprise U.S. assault.
Two tribal leaders and an 80-year-old also came out to find out what was happening. They, too, were executed. The Seals surrounded one of the several small brick homes that make up this village and opened fire indiscriminately, even gunning down those trying to escape. “The villagers say the 38-year-old mother of seven, Fatim Saleh al Ameri was fatally shot by special operators while trying to flee with her two-year-old son Mohammed. ‘We pulled him out from his mother’s lap. He was covered in her blood,’ said 11-year-old Basil Ahmed Abad al Zouba, whose 17-year-old brother was killed.” (BIJ)
Villagers began returning fire. Soon U.S. helicopter gunships arrived and shot at everything, including homes and people fleeing, BIJ reports. A missile hit Fahad Ali al Ameri’s home; his three-month-old daughter was killed in her crib. Members of the reactionary jihadist Al Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula had been camped nearby and joined the battle, which raged for another two hours.
When the fighting ended, 25 Yemeni civilians were dead. Nine were children—from three months to 13 years old. Fourteen Al Qaeda members were reportedly killed along with one Navy Seal.
Among the dead, in what investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald described as “a hideous symbol of the bipartisan continuity of U.S. barbarism,” were:
Abdallah Mabkhout al Ameri, a subsistence farmer who was too old to work himself. He’d survived the 2013 wedding party massacre which had killed his eldest son. On January 29 he was killed “alongside his 25-year-old daughter Fatima and 38-year-old son Mohammed. Three of Mohammed’s four children also died—Aisha, 4, Khadija, 7, and Hussein, 5,” BIJ reports. “A further nine members of the extended family were killed.”
Another innocent victim, whose relatives had been executed by the U.S., was eight-year-old Nawar al-Awlaki. Her father, the Islamist Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen, was assassinated by an Obama-approved U.S. drone strike in 2011—and her 16-year-old half-brother, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, also an American citizen, was executed by another U.S. drone two weeks after his father. Nawar was hiding inside when a bullet struck her in the neck. With no medical assistance possible given the U.S. assault, she bled out and died two hours later.
“It is true they were targeting [al-Qaida] but why did they have to kill children and women and elderly people?” Zabnallah Saif al-Ameri told BIJ. “If such slaughter happened in their country, there would be a lot of shouting about human rights. When our children are killed, they are quiet.”
Why Should Anyone Want U.S. Imperialism to “Succeed”?
Are Not More
Other People's Lives.
Bob Avakian, BAsics 5:7
Trump and his fascist minions immediately declared the Yemen slaughter “absolutely a success.” Why? Because, according to Trump’s press spokesman Sean Spicer, it “prevented future loss of life here in America.” Trump, who promised to kill the families of suspected “terrorists” during his campaign, issued a statement mourning the loss of life... of one American, a Seal Team 6 mass killer: “Americans are saddened this morning with news that a life of a heroic service member has been taken in our fight against the evil of radical Islamic terrorism.”
No one with a heart and a conscience should accept the sick, putrid logic of justifying mass murder for empire in the name of saving American lives—whether the crime is done by more “mainstream” Republicans or by Democrats like Obama or fascists like Trump.
Where does that logic lead? To justifying the hundreds of U.S. drone strikes in Yemen since 2002 which have likely killed well over 1,000 people, including civilians... to U.S. backing (under Obama and Trump) for Saudi Arabia’s barbaric terror-bombing campaign targeting markets, schools, hospitals, and residential neighborhoods—a bombing campaign that has caused most of Yemen’s 10,000 war-related civilian casualties... and to U.S. support for the Saudis’ land and sea blockade aimed at starving Yemenis into submission, a blockade which has already put more than 12 million people on the brink of starvation.
This is the logic of carrying out genocide and burning down the world to save America—in reality, to attempt to “save” American imperialism.
No one with a shred of concern for humanity should want any of this to succeed. Wishing for America to succeed is wishing for a murdering empire of global enslavement and oppression that threatens the planet and future of humanity to “succeed.”
No. We should welcome our rulers’ failures and defeats, because the actions they are carrying out are for imperialism and are totally unjust, totally immoral, and totally illegitimate. The failures and defeats of the rulers can weaken their hold on power and domination over the masses, and make it more difficult for them to carry out further crimes. And they heighten the possibilities for an actual communist revolution that could replace this criminal, outmoded system with something radically different and far better.
(For a deeper discussion of the centrality of internationalism and revolutionary defeatism, readers should dig into “Internationalism—Revolutionary Defeatism,” “Internationalism and an International Dimension,” and “Internationalism—Bringing Forward Another Way,” pp. 264-277 in Bob Avakian’s THE NEW COMMUNISM.)
As part of preparing the ground for a real revolution, there’s an urgent need for much more mass opposition (or “vehement opposition,” as Glenn Greenwald says, writing for The Intercept), to U.S. crimes around the world—crimes that the Trump-Pence regime is now threatening and preparing to escalate as a key part of its fascist agenda. Many thousands are rightly outraged by Trump’s lying, his deportations, his Muslim and refugee bans, his attacks on the press, and more. A question for you: Why shouldn’t you be equally outraged by, and protest just as vigorously, Trump’s crimes and abuses directed at the millions and potentially billions of people living outside U.S. borders?
Trump Attacks Middle Eastern and North African Immigrants...
People Fight Back... TAKE IT HIGHER!
February 6, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
This past week and a half has seen an extremely important and very inspiring outpouring of struggle against the Trump-Pence regime’s attempt to ban Muslim immigrants from seven countries in the Middle East and North Africa. Thousands poured out to airports as soon as news of this ban spread, and at least tens of thousands more have demonstrated all week long, from New York City to Starksville, Mississippi, from Utah to LA. Hundreds of lawyers volunteered their services. As we go to press, Trump’s order has been legally stayed for the time being; but what will happen is far from certain.
An Outrageous Ban
On Friday, January 27, Trump signed an executive order that imposed a selective ban on immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East and North Africa: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. Passengers in mid-flight or who arrived in the U.S. after the order was signed were “detained,” while authorities moved to send them back to their countries of origin. 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. They had valid visas. Even a five-year-old separated from his mother, a stage 4 breast cancer patient, was barred from entering the U.S. Beyond those detained at U.S. airports, news media identified 90,000 people directly hit by the ban—stranded while visiting their home countries or sent back from airports around the world.
The ban specifically targeted Muslims. Trump’s close adviser, Rudy Giuliani, told FOX “News”: “I’ll tell you the whole history of it: When he first announced it, he said ‘Muslim ban.’” And then, Giuliani said, Trump “called me up, he said, ‘Put a commission together, show me the right way to do it legally.’” The ban established preferential treatment for refugees seeking asylum who are identified with “minority religions” in their country of origin. As these are all majority-Muslim countries, that meant Christians. In case there was any doubt about the latter provision’s intent, Trump told Christian Broadcast News that it was intended to give priority to “Christians” seeking asylum over “Muslims.”
Trump's executive order also bars all refugees from around the world from entering the U.S. for 120 days, and bans those from Syria indefinitely. Many of those refugees are from the Middle East and Muslim-majority countries which have been subjected to horrendous U.S. military aggression that has gone on for decades and in fact is still going on as we write, with U.S. troops and allies routinely murdering whole families, and literally millions being forced to flee for their lives. Further, these countries have been bitterly exploited and their economies and societies devastated by U.S. imperialist capital. This in turn has given rise to a relatively numerically small but significant section of people who have taken up fundamentalist Islamic jihadism—a thoroughly reactionary ideology and a brutal movement—and now tens of millions find themselves caught between these two reactionary forces, making life even more unlivable.
Immigrants are deeply woven into the economy and fabric of U.S. society. One in every three people in New York City is an immigrant. Immigrants play a critical role in the U.S. economy, ranging from super-exploited workers in construction, agriculture, and service work to highly educated professionals in medicine (over 25 percent of all doctors in the U.S. are from other countries) and engineers in high-tech.
Part of what was expressed in the movement against the ban is that in many places—technology, academia, medicine and medical research, for example—companies and institutions that rely on people working for them from around the world see Trump’s policies as a real threat to their ability to compete and survive. They are trying to band together against Trump on these policies. There has also been outrage “from below,” among people who work in these professions and communities. Younger people, who have grown up with co-workers and friends from around the world, are furious at seeing them demonized and attacked this way. They are not willing to stand for that.
Sections of the ruling class—mainly but not just the Democrats—have profound fears about the social, political, and economic repercussions of Trump’s slash-and-burn assault on all immigrants and want to tone this down. And they insist that allowing (relatively tiny) numbers of refugees into the U.S. serves to project the U.S. as a global “defender of human rights.”
The Trump regime aims to radically transform the status quo in the world, and in the U.S., and to remake society as fascist. It demonizes and threatens all people of Muslim faith. It vows to drive women back into the position of being subservient appendages of men. It threatens to crush Black and Brown youth. It has declared it will tear apart millions and millions of immigrant families, from Mexico, Latin America, and the world over. It is already moving to forcibly silence all opposition, even from within the ruling class, and brutally crush any resistance from the masses. And it is ready to go to—and perhaps over—the brink of nuclear war and environmental destruction as part of that. Building a base for that requires playing on the fears and deep-seated racism and American chauvinism of sections of people. This immigration ban is one part of that.
As people rose up against this, and as lawyers fought in the courts, the courts in turn stayed the hand of the Trump-Pence regime. And as we post this article, the ban remains halted, temporarily.
Needed—An UNCOMPROMISING Movement Against the Whole Program
From the early days of the movement there has been a contradiction between the anger of the people in the streets and the attempts of the Democratic politicians to jump to the head of this and lead this back into the confines of the system. This is in two senses. First, the Democrats’ political program is to direct people to strengthen the “checks and balances” of the system. They want to keep these demonstrations very moderate—that is why there is such a disconnect between the temper of the crowd and what is projected by these politicians—and they want to direct people’s efforts toward supporting local mayors, pressuring the judiciary, etc.
Meanwhile, the Trump-Pence fascists do not intend to back off of anything. They are attempting to intimidate the judiciary and hammer wavering Republicans into line, and they are threatening mayors of the major cities, even as the so-called sanctuary cities actually do NOT provide anything like sanctuary.
Through talk radio, Breitbart News, FOX News, and other media, they are whipping up their loyal and bigoted minions to support all this. And that’s not to mention Trump’s direct agitation on Twitter. Should they get away with this, the next step could very well be registration of all Muslims and other extraordinary forms of surveillance. Anyone who doubts the real possibility of concentration camps should remember Trump’s remarks during his campaign, when he was asked about policies implemented in World War 2 that registered and then interned first- and second-generation Japanese-Americans in concentration camps for nearly four years. When asked specifically by ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos, about proclamations that led to the camps, Trump said: “I don’t want to bring it back, George, at all. I don’t like doing it at all. It’s a temporary measure until our representatives—many of whom are grossly incompetent—our representatives can figure out what’s going on.”
What is needed are two things: first, in the immediate struggle, people should continue to intensify what has been and is an extremely important struggle and fight to win. The many different kinds of demonstrations and actions should continue, growing in size, and ranging from the teach-ins and vigils, to defending individuals from illegitimate attempts by law enforcement to round them up and exile them, to forceful mass expressions of anger. Should the courts reverse themselves and find in favor of Trump-Pence, people need to pour into the streets in 10 times the numbers at least, and refuse to leave, shutting down business as usual and challenging the operation of the whole system, and resistance needs to spread into every office and factory and school in this country.
But what we face right now is larger than a series of terrible attacks on different fronts. After all, in just the past two weeks the Trump-Pence regime has launched attacks against a whole spectrum of people and issues—against Mexico and Mexican immigrants, against environmental regulations and struggles to maintain the environment, against Native American peoples, against the public school system, against women and LGBT people (through nominating a reactionary to the Supreme Court)... the list goes on and on. THIS IS A PACKAGE—an attempt, through relentless moves one after the other, to radically re-order society into fascism. If we fight these one at a time, there may be some victories here or there, but the overall trajectory is into horror. Think about it—this regime is not only bolting into place an openly white supremacist America in which those who are not white will have virtually NO rights and many will be confined in prisons or camps, one way or another... this regime is also threatening other countries. After all, the perverted leader of the regime is known to have asked the CIA at briefings “if we have nuclear weapons, why can’t we use them?” The greatest danger before us right now is to underestimate the danger that this regime poses across the board, not only in the U.S. but to the entire world and, indeed, to the fate of humanity and the environment.
This leads to the second and even greater need—a movement that says NO! to the whole thing, that demands the immediate OUSTER of this vicious and extraordinarily dangerous fascist regime. The stance embodied in the slogan “In the name of humanity, we REFUSE to accept a fascist America” must spread. The simple demand embodied in the posters and stickers that say “NO!” must be seen everywhere. Word and understanding must be spread of what this regime really embodies and intends. Determination to oust it as soon as possible, in the next months before it has fully dug itself in and eliminated opposition, must grow exponentially. Discussion within this movement over how to do this and, going even deeper, where this regime came from and what must be done to really get past the kind of society in which this is always a threat and in which, even in the “best of times” people are exploited and ground down and oppressed, and the few rights they do have occur in the context in which a) those rights are weak and subject to and conditioned by the real dictatorship of those who rule society, and b) we can find ourselves in a situation in which even those rights can be snatched away.
February 6, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Donald Trump kicked off his presidential campaign with vicious insults and threats against Mexican people, calling those coming across the border “rapists” and “drug dealers.” Now that he is actually president, Trump is making threats to invade Mexico.
Last week Trump and Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto held a phone conversation. According to the Associated Press, Trump blustered to Peña Nieto that he “was ready to send U.S. troops to stop ‘bad hombres’ down there unless the Mexican military does more to control them.” The White House described Trump’s comments as “lighthearted.”
Think about this for a minute: Trump, the “commander in chief” of the most powerful military in world history, the man with his “finger on the button” of an arsenal of thousands of nuclear weapons, is threatening to invade a neighboring country. This is no fucking joke. Trump’s threats against the country and the people of Mexico are saturated with racism, hatred, and the swaggering bravado of a long-time bully. They are also deadly serious.
And yet this was not in any significant way opposed by the leading Democrats or from any other quarter. No demand to put a halt to any actual moves in the works toward carrying out Trump's threats. No demand that this whole fascist regime be held accountable for the gravity of what was said to another sovereign country.
The Theft of Mexico and the “Shaping” of the U.S.
Anyone who knows anything about the history of U.S. military aggression against Mexico knows that Trump’s comments are anything but “lighthearted.”
Invasions of Mexico, domination and exploitation over that country, and the endless torment of the Mexican people have shaped the U.S. Shaped it literally, in the sense that the U.S. stole over half of the country as the “spoils” of its 1846 war against Mexico. While the principal reason for the war was to expand slavery into Texas, it was also to extend U.S. reach to the Pacific Ocean and across what is now the U.S. Southwest.
During the rest of the 19th century, the U.S military repeatedly staged incursions into Mexico, especially along the border. During the Mexican Revolution, a U.S. force invaded northern Mexico, and the U.S. Navy blocked and occupied the port city of Veracruz on the Gulf of Mexico coast. All of this was also driven by America’s dominant outlook—the widespread racism and contempt towards Mexican people and the sense that the U.S. somehow has a “right” to control and dominate Mexico. That outlook continues, and further underlines the possibility of U.S. invasion once again.
In recent decades, the pretext of “drug wars” has been the main way the U.S. has deepened its involvement with the Mexican military and federal police and with the Mexican government. The U.S. has supplied them with billions of dollars through a pact called the Merida Initiative. Far from stabilizing the situation, U.S. involvement through this “aid” to Mexico has resulted in a horrific increase of drug and police/military related violence: over 200,000 people have been murdered, and 25,000 disappeared in the past decade.
The rulers of the U.S. are acutely aware of the strategic vulnerability to their system, the “two-edged sword,” that comes from sharing a 2,000 mile border with a Third World country, and from the people that they have exploited and oppressed for over a century—on both sides of that border. A very large portion of the 11 million or more undocumented people in the U.S. are from Mexico. They have been “allowed” in—while treated as shit in underpaid, super-exploited jobs in agriculture, construction, and manufacturing—because they are essential to the profitability of much of U.S. capitalist-imperialist production within this country. At the same time, their undocumented status has pushed them into the “shadows,” trying to avoid as much as possible any interaction with the authorities.
The Trump-Pence fascist regime has called for the round-up and deportation of millions of Mexican immigrants, with and without documents. They intend to build a wall across the entire southern border and “make Mexico pay for it.” And now Trump has personally delivered the message that his regime is more than willing to move into Mexico militarily if developments there become a threat to the fascist regime’s plans to make America “first” in the world. This is not the boast of a madman. Trump’s braggadocio expresses the needs, workings, and fears of a system that has long feasted on Mexico and its people. Now the Trump-Pence fascists are in the driver’s seat of this imperialist system, and they seek to bring that domination to entirely new levels of violence, extortion, and exploitation. No insubordination on the part of Mexico will be tolerated.
The Trump-Pence threats and aggression against Mexico, whatever their pretext or justification, must be fiercely resisted and opposed by everyone with any sense of justice. Why the hell should Trump, or any U.S. president, be able to threaten a war of aggression against another country and impose the will of U.S. imperialism over it? The U.S. has NO right to do this!
Sparks of Outrage and Protest Against the Fascist Trump-Pence Regime
Updated April 21, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
A fascist regime that represents an unprecedented danger to humanity has assumed the reins of power in the U.S. Starting right from the inaugural speech and every day since then, the Trump-Pence regime has carried through new outrages—and they surely have more to come. Right now, the different forces in the ruling class are either supporting this enthusiastically or going along with at most a few petty amendments.
As Carl Dix, Sunsara Taylor, and Andy Zee—three people who kicked off refusefascism.org—said in their January 25 letter: “That does NOT mean that the possibility of ousting this regime through truly massive action is over, and that all people can do is work on local projects or hope for some pendulum swing somewhere down the road—while Trump-Pence carry out truly monstrous things and put the whole planet in jeopardy. Far from it. Precisely because this regime is fascist and a qualitative change from the ‘normal workings’ of this system, and because millions of people—correctly—view this regime as utterly illegitimate, the possibility of crisis erupting at any time is great....”
And they also noted: “So we stand at a new juncture. The regime is in power, and moving quickly. At the same time, millions have registered their opposition and many are looking for a way to fight. Over these next few weeks, revcom.us will be covering the regime and the resistance to it with the same intensity and level of analysis that we have since the election.”
There are millions who hate what is represented by this fascist regime, and some of this outrage continues to surface in different kinds of resistance, as seen here on this page. There are also many in different spheres—academia, sciences, arts and entertainment, journalism, and others—who are raising their voices against Trump-Pence and their fascist outrages. See these voices here. It’s crucial to grasp that these sparks and voices represent a much bigger and broader anger and opposition to the fascist regime.
We encourage Revolution/revcom.us readers to send us news and reports, pictures, and videos of the ways people are resisting (send to: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Protesters—and T. Rex Dinos—Denounce Rex Tillerson for "Declaring War on Our Planet"
Joined by 15 T. Rex dinosaurs, 200 environmental activists marched through Washington, D.C. Wednesday, January 11, denouncing Rex Tillerson. May Boeve, executive director of 350.org, said in a statement: "By tapping Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State, Donald Trump is essentially declaring war on our planet and betting against a livable future." See video here
On Saturday, December 10, in San Francisco, 500 people marched in the rain to deliver the message “This Is Not Normal!” The action was initiated by people who had never organized a protest before. The march involved a broad range: people from the LGBT community, tech workers, students, artists, feminists, and others. The Revolution Club led many chants taken up by the march, like “We will not conciliate! We will not accommodate! We will not collaborate!” and read the statement “In the Name of Humanity, We REFUSE to Accept a Fascist America” from the rally stage. Joey Johnson, revolutionary communist and notorious flag burner, spoke to the huge stakes for humanity in stopping the fascists, and pointed to Trump’s threat to jail and strip citizenship from people burning the American flag as one concentration of the fascist program.
On the same day, in Los Angeles, thousands of people from many walks of life converged downtown to demand the complete stop of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). The DAPL threatens the water source for the Standing Rock Sioux people and sites that are important to their culture, and if completed will add significantly to the the global climate change endangering the planet. More than 600 copies of Revolution newspaper were distributed along the march, and hundreds of people carried posters declaring “In the Name of Humanity, We REFUSE to Accept a Fascist America.”
On Monday, December 5, hundreds of Boston high school and college students walked out of classes and rallied at Boston Commons. According to the Boston Globe, the students delivered a list of demands to the Massachusetts governor and the Boston mayor, “to protect minorities and immigrants, support public education, and denounce white nationalists who have been energized by a Trump victory.”
Trump has threatened to immediately deport millions of immigrants and cancel Obama’s temporary deferrals of deportations of young undocumented people. In response, students across the country are organizing and acting—through walkouts, rallies, and petition campaigns—to demand that their schools become “sanctuary campuses” that protect undocumented immigrants, as well as LGBT people and other who may come under attack from the government as well as fascist mobs. (See “Students Across the County Demand Sanctuary Campuses: Schools Should Be Safe Zones from Fascist Attacks—No Matter What”)
On December 6, at Texas A&M University, neo-Nazi leader Richard Spencer’s appearance on the campus was met with righteous protest by hundreds of students and hundreds of others from Houston, Austin, and other cities and towns in Texas. This school is known as one of the most conservative state universities in the country—so this raucous protest of thousands was very significant. (See “Thousands Protest Neo-Nazi Richard Spencer at Texas A&M”)
On December 7, on the anniversary of the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor that began the war between U.S. and Japan, a number of Japanese American community organizations in Los Angeles led a protest in the Little Tokyo neighborhood against Trump’s attack on immigrants and Muslims. They compared what Trump is saying and threatening to the U.S. government’s vilification, mass round-ups, and imprisonment in concentration camps of people of Japanese ancestry during World War 2. There were calls for Little Tokyo to become a sanctuary for those singled out by Trump, and for people to “put their bodies” between those targeted and the authorities.
The Jewish group IfNotNow, which came together in 2014 to opposes the horrific U.S.-backed Israeli war on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, has been protesting Richard Bannon, the white-supremacist, anti-Semitic neo-Nazi who is Trump’s “chief strategist.” On December 8, IfNotNow in New York City posted on their Facebook page: “This morning, we delivered white roses to the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, and demanded that they join our call to #FireBannon. The white rose was used by students from The University of Munich as a symbol of nonviolent resistance to the Nazi regime, and now we claim it as our own—to demonstrate our resistance to state-sponsored hate as the #JewishResistance.”
On December 10, 200 people marched around the M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore to protest Trump who was attending the Army-Navy football game. The Baltimore Sun said that the protesters chanted “No hate, no fear, immigrants are welcome here” and “We reject the president-elect” and held up signs like “Resist” and “Make fascists hide again.”
On Friday, December 9, at the annual awards ceremony of the International Documentary Association (IDA) held at the Paramount Theater in Los Angeles, TV writer and producer Norman Lear said from the stage that the country is entering “a very dangerous time” with the election of Trump, which poses “serious obligations”: “If, for example, he or his administration in any way threatens the free speech rights of our documentary filmmakers, the IDA and every supporter in this room must—will, I am sure—hunker down together and fight our asses off.” According to Hollywood Reporter, “Feelings on this topic were clearly running high all around, as an audience member yelled, ‘He’s a fascist!’ during Lear’s speech.”
Spurred by the rise of Trump, a website called “Professors Watchlist” has been posting names professors they accuse of “leftist propaganda”—more than 200 names so far. This kind of fascist witch-hunt on campuses will only become more extreme if the Trump regime is allowed to firm up its grip on power. When two professors at Notre Dame university appeared on the list, more than 100 faculty members at the campus took a stand against the witch-hunt with an open letter saying the watch list should add their names in order to reaffirm “our values and recommitting ourselves to the work of teaching students to think clearly, independently and fearlessly.” See the “Other Voices Against Trump” page at www.revcom.us for this statement and other voices of resistance, including MIT professors, Cornel West, New York Times columnist Charles Blow, and others.
There are various calls for protests in Washington, DC, as the date for Trump inauguration approaches. On December 10, Shaun King—New York Daily News writer and widely followed social media commentator—sent out a tweet saying: “Many people asking me if people should clog the streets of DC to prevent the inauguration ceremony. On general principle alone, YES.” A few days earlier, filmmaker Michael Moore tweeted: “Disrupt the Inauguration. The Majority have spoken—by nearly 2.7 million votes &counting! Silence is not an option.”
Update: On December 12, there were protests in a number of cities around the country in response to a "Women and Allies" call to "deliver the message in a unified voice that we are ready to stand against any government action that would serve to erode the rights of women and other vulnerable groups." See "'Women and Allies' Actions Oppose Trump-Pence Attacks."
Several New England Players Announce They Are NOT Going to Trump's White House Super Bowl Event
February 13, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
From a reader:
Every year the team that wins the National Football League (NFL) Super Bowl is invited to the White House for a ceremonial event hosted by the president. This year a growing number of this year’s champion, the New England Patriots, are refusing (or “declining”) to attend the Trump White House event.
There are six New England players so far who have announced publicly that they are not going: Chris Long, defensive end; LeGarrette Blount, running back; Alan Branch, defensive tackle; and Dont’a Hightower, linebacker, have now joined Devin McCourty, defensive back, and Martellus Bennett, tight end, who announced earlier last week that they would boycott the Trump White House event.
In explaining his decision, Devin McCourty said, “Basic reason for me is I don’t feel accepted in the White House. With the president having so many strong opinions and prejudices, I believe certain people might feel accepted there while others won’t.”
Martellus Bennett is an outspoken supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement, and he had called out Kanye West for meeting with Trump in December.
Chris Long, the son of former Oakland Raider Howie Long, had supported Colin Kaepernick’s decision to kneel during the playing of the national anthem before football games, saying, “When somebody takes a stand, I think that a white player like me, who has a certain privilege, I should listen and support that expression.... These (African American football players) are smart, articulate guys that are thoughtful and are socially aware. So if they think there’s something going on that’s worth standing up for, I think the best thing we can do is listen to each other.”
While not all the New England players who said they are not going to the White House event are expressing open political opposition to Trump/Pence, their decision is being widely seen as such—and several others are currently considering joining the boycott. It was also noticeable that several players and staff gave a “thumbs up” to a large NO! poster from RefuseFascism.org that someone held up at the Patriots’ victory parade held in downtown Boston.
Stop Sheriff Clarke's Plan to Turn His Pigs Into ICE Agents
February 13, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Tens of thousands of people came to Milwaukee from about 25 cities all across Wisconsin on Monday, February 13th, outraged at the nationwide assault by ICE agents on immigrants, and determined to stop Milwaukee Sheriff Clarke from enlisting every cop under him to join the assault. According to reports, buses came in from Green Bay, Madison, Racine, Manitowoc, Appleton, and the Wisconsin Dells.
Just days earlier the immigrant rights group Voces de la Frontera, joined by local Muslim organizations and other groups, had issued a call for a statewide “Day without Latinxs, Immigrants, and Refugees.” They challenged people not to go to work, and students not to go to school, but instead to take part in a massive act of defiance in the streets of Milwaukee. Organizers said more than 150 businesses closed for the day.
The call for the protest was issued in the midst of the nationwide, coordinated series of immigration raids launched by ICE. These raids took place in the wake of the Trump regime's cold-blooded order to round up and deport undocumented immigrants everywhere. Shortly after Trump signed his executive order instructing government agencies “to deploy all lawful means to secure the Nation’s southern border, to prevent further illegal immigration into the United States,” Sheriff Clarke declared that he was going to turn his local sheriffs into immigration officers in partnership with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). This is the government's 287(g) program, which gives local and state officers the power to arrest and detain undocumented people as deputized immigration agents. This program was developed under Obama's administration. Known as “Secure Communities,” it was pulled back when a number of major cities and local police opposed it.
Trump's executive order calls for this program to be brought back in cities everywhere; and to punish any that resist, especially those that are now declaring themselves “sanctuary jurisdictions.” Clarke is by no means alone; sheriffs and police chiefs all over the country cannot wait to be able to go "full bore" in rounding up immigrants, with or without papers, who to them are all “criminal aliens.”
On January 27th Clarke responded to a query from The Associated Press: “President Trump made it clear with his executive order on enforcement of our immigration laws.” And, “No more catch and release of criminal illegal aliens. I will assign as many deputies to this initiative as I can. It is a public safety priority.” Clarke is very publicly leading the way in fully loading Trump's fascist assault by adding the armed might of state and local police fully integrated at every level in the war on immigrants. Clarke, a Black, right wing reactionary, has fully embraced the fascism of the Trump-Pence regime. He was considered as a possible pick to be the head of Trump's Department of Homeland Security. And he has been widely promoted in the media nationally, including for his disgusting attack on the Black Lives Matter movement, calling those involved “terrorists.”
In response to all this, business closed. Students organized the day before in classrooms, painting banners and making signs, and then walked out to be part of the protest. Students who had their parents’ permission to participate in the strike were not marked absent from school. Workers left their jobs. They came together in massive numbers and marched from the Latino section of Milwaukee to the Milwaukee County Courthouse. A restaurant owner told the Milwaukee Business Journal that it was an easy decision to shut down and lose a day’s worth of business: “I will do whatever it takes—not only because I'm a Latino supporting a Latino—I will do whatever is (right) for anybody." A 39-year-old foundry worker told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel he was marching to fight deportations and show the importance of keeping families together. "We're looking for freedom. We're looking for a better life for our families." "We have to show solidarity."
Christine Neumann-Ortiz, Voces de la Frontera's executive director, was quoted by the Journal Sentinel saying, "Immigrant and refugee communities, and those that stand with them, are not going to be pushed into the shadows. We're not going to let our constitutional rights to be stripped away from all of us, nor allow discriminatory laws to be legalized. We're making a strong statement that immigrants and refugees contribute significantly to the well-being of our economy, and that we should be helping them, thanking them and making life easier for them, instead of trying to implement these kinds of policies." Neumann-Ortiz said the policies promoted by Trump and Clarke "are trying to instill fear, break up families and promote discrimination."
"I want to be a voice for the voiceless":
Pro Football Player Michael Bennett Refuses to Be a Shill for Israel
February 14, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
From a reader:
Michael Bennett, who plays in the NFL (National Football League) for the Seattle Seahawks, announced he will not be joining an NFL delegation to Israel.
Michael Bennett (right) during a game against the Detroit Lions, January 7, in Seattle. (Photo: Ryan Kang via AP)
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. (See “Cheers to Colin Kaepernick—For Not Standing for National Anthem,” August 27, 2016 Revolution/revcom.us). 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:
I was scheduled to make a visit to Israel with fellow NFL players. I was excited to see this remarkable and historic part of the world with my own eyes. I was not aware, until reading this article about the trip in the Times of Israel, that my itinerary was being constructed by the Israeli government for the purposes of making me, in the words of a government official an “influencer and opinion-former” who would then be “an ambassador of good will.” I will not be used in such a manner. When I do go to Israel—and I do plan to go—it will be to see not only Israel but also the West Bank and Gaza so I can see how the Palestinians who have called this land home for thousands of years, live their lives.
One of my heroes has always been Muhammad Ali. I know that Ali always stood strongly with the Palestinian people, visiting refugee camps, going to rallies, and always willing to be a “voice for the voiceless.” I want to be a “voice for the voiceless” and I cannot do that by going on this kind of trip to Israel.
I know that this will anger some people and inspire others. But please know that I did this not for you, but to be in accord with my own values and my own conscience. Like 1968 Olympian John Carlos always says, “There is no partial commitment to justice. You are either in or your out.” Well, I’m in.
Sincerely, Michael Bennett
Bennett’s letter was reposted by several other NFL players, including his brother, Martellus Bennett, who has refused to go to the White House with his team, the New England Patriots, that just won the Super Bowl. Kenny Stills, who plays for the Miami Dolphins and was on the delegation to Israel, posted Bennett’s open letter and tweeted out, “Couldn’t have said it any better. I’m in!” In other words, Kenny Stills is also out.
Bennett told The Nation’s Dave Zirin in an interview that “I want my legacy to be what I did in the community. What did people see? Was he a man of his word? Was he the type of man that when he said he did something, he’d go out and do it? That’s the kind of person I want to be remembered as. To me, records are going to be broken, but the legacy you leave, it can’t be broken because it’s the truth, it’s the foundation, it’s me.
“I’ll be done playing football some day, but I’ll be Black forever.”
"Science, Not Silence": March for Science in Washington, DC, and Around the Country and World on Earth Day, April 22
February 15, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Immediately after getting into the White House, Trump and Pence launched a fascist blitzkrieg on federal agencies dealing with the environment—and on science in general. Media blackouts were imposed on the Environmental Protection Agency and on the Interior, Agriculture, and Health and Human Services Departments. Climate change information was scrubbed from the White House website on Day One, and Trump has said he will halt all research on climate change at NASA. The National Park Service was banned from tweeting after their Twitter account retweeted images comparing Trump’s and Obama’s inauguration crowds. Even before the inauguration, Trump officials started a witch hunt in the Department of Energy, demanding the names of officials who had participated in climate change talks. The Trump/Pence regime have made clear they aim to curtail and suppress scientific work and inquiry from being done, and from reaching the public.
At the same time, Trump and those around him are engaging in a daily drumbeat to obliterate scientific reality itself and impose on society a phony Trumpworld universe of “alternative facts.” Trump and others in his regime simply deny assessment of scientists around the world based on decades of research that climate change poses an unprecedented danger to life on the planet. Trump and Pence are moving to, at the very least, eliminate major aspects of scientific work from being done, and to remake science into little more than a tool in the service of a vicious, fascist regime. Scientists who fear the Trump regime will go after crucial research data on climate change are racing to archive that work as quickly as possible in order to protect it.
In response to Trump’s attacks on science and inspired by the Women’s March, scientists have come forward to organize a March for Science on Washington, DC, and across the country on Earth Day, April 22. In less than a week after the initial announcement, over a half million people joined the march’s Facebook page, and its Twitter account @ScienceMarchDC has 325,000 followers so far.
The March for Science is a celebration of our passion for science and a call to support and safeguard the scientific community. Recent policy changes have caused heightened worry among scientists, and the incredible and immediate outpouring of support has made clear that these concerns are also shared by hundreds of thousands of people around the world. The mischaracterization of science as a partisan issue, which has given policymakers permission to reject overwhelming evidence, is a critical and urgent matter. It is time for people who support scientific research and evidence-based policies to take a public stand and be counted.
ON APRIL 22, 2017, WE WALK OUT OF THE LAB AND INTO THE STREETS.
We are scientists and science enthusiasts. We come from all races, all religions, all gender identities, all sexual orientations, all abilities, all socioeconomic backgrounds, all political perspectives, and all nationalities. Our diversity is our greatest strength: a wealth of opinions, perspectives, and ideas is critical for the scientific process. What unites us is a love of science, and an insatiable curiosity. We all recognize that science is everywhere and affects everyone.
Science is often an arduous process, but it is also thrilling. A universal human curiosity and dogged persistence is the greatest hope for the future. This movement cannot and will not end with a march. Our plans for policy change and community outreach will start with marches worldwide and a teach-in at the National Mall, but it is imperative that we continue to celebrate and defend science at all levels - from local schools to federal agencies - throughout the world.
This march for science and other resistance by scientists and people upholding science is very important, timely, and welcome, and revcom.us will be reporting on these development further.
"In the Age of 'Alternative Facts,' Fake News, and Fascist Lies... How Do You Know What's True? And Why Does It Matter?"
An invigorating salon at Revolution Books in NYC
by Sunsara Taylor
February 15, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
An incredibly diverse group of 25 or so people from different parts of the world packed into Revolution Books on February 3 for a wild and invigorating discussion, “In the Age of ‘Alternative Facts,’ Fake News, and Fascist Lies... How Do You Know What’s True? And Why Does It Matter?” It was a great mix of high school students and graduate level academics, folks who had been out protesting the Muslim ban, members of the Revolution Club, volunteers at Revolution Books, and first time customers.
In preparation, I had been rereading Ardea Skybreak’s book, 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. Early on, Skybreak explains, “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.”
With this in mind, I decided to open the evening up with a question, to get everyone thinking and working together on the theme of the night, “How do you know what is true and why does it matter?” I asked, “What does it mean to think critically?”
A Black 14-year-old dove in first, suggesting, “Critical thinking means trying to figure out what is the main point out of a lot of points being made.” A second student said, “It means thinking more deeply... reading between the lines. Like, if you read a newspaper article you think what might be behind this story... and how does it relate to other things I am reading?” A white man in the back of the room posed, “It means interrogating something... looking to see if you can find fault in it. Even if it’s your own idea, see if you can poke holes in it, like with forensics.” A young man from Egypt added, “You should ask seven ‘why’s.’” He suggested questions like: Why is the idea being put this way? Why are certain facts included and not others? And other questions asking, why?
I posed that a pattern was emerging. In different ways, people were getting at the need to examine an idea systematically—to identify the essence of what is being argued, to examine it from different angles and how it relates to other ideas and information. These are, indeed, important elements of thinking critically. But, all this still left unanswered—and unasked—a deeper question: What method should be used in this process? To put it another way, it’s good to “think deeply,” but using what criteria and with what approach? By “trusting your gut”? By gathering evidence? By consulting religious scripture? By taking a poll?
People thought for a minute. This time, a young high school teacher went first. She began confidently, “You should go with personal experience,” but then paused, adding, “But also you might go with things you’ve read.... oh wait, I am not sure.” Someone else suggested using common sense, like if someone says a murder took place in a cul-de-sac on 135th Street in Harlem but you know there aren’t any cul-de-sacs there, then you know they are wrong. Another person suggested that you have to ask what are the interests of the person telling you something to determine if they can be trusted.
But, what if you don’t personally know whether there are cul-de-sacs in Harlem? Or, what if there are cul-de-sacs? That doesn’t necessarily mean that the murder took place. Or, what if someone does have an interest in an idea being true—like a researcher who comes up with a new medical cure? Does that mean automatically that they shouldn’t be believed?
We kicked all this around for a while—including taking apart the idea of “common sense.” Sometimes things people assume to be “common sense” are true (like, you can’t fly to the moon in five minutes), but other times “common sense” is not true (like the idea that, “America was founded on freedom and democracy,” when, in fact it was founded on slavery and genocide). In reality, “common sense” is just a way to refer to things that are so widely accepted as true that most people don’t think to question them. But, that is not a good gauge. Just because a lot of people believe something doesn’t make it true! It's essential, in contrast, to evaluate things based on evidence.
This is something Skybreak drives home very powerfully, including when she says, “I don’t really care what most people think, if it’s not right. You have to show me the evidence of why something is true. And if one person is putting forward something that is true (that corresponds to actual reality) and yet nobody else agrees with them, that doesn’t make it not true! Show me the evidence. And, conversely, if great numbers of people believe something to be true—’everybody knows this’ or ‘everybody knows that,’ there’s a general consensus—I have to say that, as a scientist, I don’t find that particularly convincing! You are really going to have to show me the evidence.”
After a bit more wrangling, I drew from Bob Avakian’s article on “‘A Leap of Faith’ and a Leap to Rational Knowledge: Two Very Different Kinds of Leaps, Two Radically Different Worldviews and Methods.” BA walks through how everyone all the time is making leaps in their thinking, going from just perceiving a bunch of information to making a leap to how they synthesize that information and what they draw from it. What BA makes clear, and what many in the room were starting to think about for the first time, is that people use different methods for making this leap,that these different methods are not all “equally valid,” and that there are actually really big stakes bound up with which method people use.
To illuminate this, BA uses the example of football. If you don’t know the rules of football, when you watch it it appears like just a bunch of players slamming into each other with no rhyme or reason. You are simply perceiving what is happening, but you haven’t made the leap yet to correctly figuring out what holds it together. If you keep watching long enough, you can start to recognize the patterns in how the game is played and come to grasp the rules that are shaping and underlying the patterns you are perceiving. Through this process you are making a leap from perceptualknowledge (simply perceiving what is happening) to rationalknowledge (understanding the underlying dynamics holding the patterns together).
Or, to draw from another example BA provides, say you are sitting on a jury. Both sides present a lot of information and arguments. During this process, you are gathering perceptualknowledge. But, to come to a verdict you have to sift through all that information and weigh the different arguments and come to a verdict. This requires a leap. This leap, if it is based on thoroughly weighing the different evidence presented and correctly identifying the patterns that hold it together, is a leap to rationalknowledge.
Picking up on some of the approaches offered in the discussion thus far, I posed that there were other ways you could make leaps in your thinking that wouldn’t be justified at all. For example, you could go from personal experience of having been robbed and, flowing from that, really wanting to see robbers go to jail. But the fact that you were robbed in the past has no relevance on whether this different person accused of robbery is guilty, and if that is the basis on which you make a leap to a verdict, it would be very wrong. Or, you could say, “I don’t need to listen to the evidence, I will just pray on it.” Both of these are methods of thinking that take you away from a correct understanding of reality. No matter how “deeply” you thought and applied these methods, you would not be thinking scientifically nor would you be justified in the verdict you reached.
Several people, including a young Black woman nursing a baby, nodded vigorously when I pointed out that people make leaps in their thinking all the time, but most of the time it happens so automatically they don’t even realize they are doing it. I asked people to speak further to this question of method—and to give examples of different methods being applied in the world around us. And, I asked people to speak to whether any of this stuff about method has any consequences in the world.
This opened up a round of even deeper wrangling. Someone posed that while it is true that people use different methods, it’s not fair to compare leaps of science to leaps of faith, “They are like apples and oranges.” They argued that because both make leaps to conclusions that are not simply contained in the facts, both are equally valid. After a bit, a young person active with Refuse Fascism posed, “The way I see it,” he explained, “if you go by faith you start with your conclusion and then you go out and find facts to confirm it. But, if you are being scientific you go out and investigate the reality and the facts and you draw your conclusions out of that. They seem like the opposite.”
Someone else responded, “But, people can come to the same conclusion through different methods.” They gave examples of various things that religious forces have come to that are not in conflict with what scientists have come to understand.
This, too, kicked around in the room for a while until yet another high school student argued, “That makes me think of what my math teacher is always saying: You can get the right answer for the wrong reason, but then you will get the next answer wrong. You need to get the right answer for the right reason, so that you can solve the next problem and the next problem. Now I am thinking this applies everywhere—not just math.”
We used this very important insight to examine things like the flood of lies coming from the Trump/Pence regime. Kellyanne Conway, for example, had just LIED and made up a massacre that never happened, and then attacked the media for not covering this non-existent massacre. It’s very important to expose that lie. But then tomorrow, when she lies again, how can people tell? Even if you are able to keep up with the tsunami of lies and refute every single one, if this is all you do people will start to tune out. Or they’ll think, “Well, who can say what’s really true? Everyone just has their own opinion,” and pick the voice that most appeals to them. This is no good!
Conway and the Trump regime are not only spreading lies, they are actively training people not to think critically. Instead they are training people to believe what they say simply because they say it, and to treat every other source of information as “fake.” In contrast, we need to arm people not only with the facts that expose their particular lies, but also the scientific method so people can increasingly sort out what is true for themselves.
A political scientist objected, “Kellyanne is being scientific. She’s asserting her facts and drawing conclusions out of them.” This was just nuts, and reveals the tremendous relativism that grips much of academia. No. There was no evidence to back up Conway’s claims of a massacre so they are most definitely not “facts.”
Returning to a major theme of Skybreak’s book, a member of the Revolution Club spoke forcefully about how science is an evidence-based process, you start with evidence from reality and draw conclusions based on analyzing and sifting through that evidence, and then you return it to reality both to test it and confirm if it is correct and to change that reality in line with what is really possible and what you see as desirable. It doesn’t matter how many times Kellyanne Conway or anyone else in the Trump regime (or anywhere else!) asserts something and it doesn’t matter how many people believe something, if there is no evidence for it it is not a “fact” and it has nothing to do with science!
Later, Raymond Lotta returned to something that had been posed about “faith and science being separate realms that have nothing to do with each other.” He countered this argument by showing how every claim made by religion can and should be examined with the scientific method. To illuminate this point, he walked through the ways that the myth of creation in the Bible is disproven by the material evidence of evolution. But not only that, he went on, the origins of various religions and why different peoples made up different religious myths can also be examined by science. He walked through, for example, why the patriarchal societies that invented Christianity put such emphasis on woman being the cause of “original sin.” But that is not all, he continued, the question of why different people practice different religions can be examined by science. He gave the example of Black people being kidnapped and converted to Christianity at gunpoint through slavery. But this is not all, he went deeper, science can also be applied to examine what the objective effect of religion has been in maintaining systems of oppression. He gave examples of how religion has trained people not only to accept oppressive moral codes, but also to find “meaning in their suffering and exploitation,” as well as to prevent people from asking the questions of “why” and looking for answers in the real world, with the scientific method.
Every time Raymond posed that “science can go even deeper” many faces in the room lit up brighter and brighter with the joy of discovery and new thinking. Several, including the high school student who had referenced her math teacher, let out delighted laughter each step along the way.
Things went in many different directions and touched on much more than I am able to do justice to in this write-up. As a young Asian woman put it, the conversation was messy, but so is the real world that we are trying to understand. But it was also invigorating, surfacing for people questions of method they had never even recognized before and enabling everyone to dive in together and get somewhere important. Throughout the night, we drew heavily from—and pointed people back into—the breakthroughs Bob Avakian has made in both recognizing the incredible importance of the scientific method to the process of understanding and changing the world, and in putting communism on a thoroughly scientific foundation.
Hands were still in the air when we decided to end the formal discussion, to give people a chance to talk more deeply informally, to browse the books, and more. A stack of Ardea Skybreak’s book was passed around for people to look at and purchase, as were copies of Bob Avakian’s books BAsics, The New Communism, and Away With All Gods!. People bought copies of these and other books and knots of people formed up and stayed for a long time, continuing to wrangle.
February 16, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
The following statement has been posted at RefuseFascism.org:
Read, Sign & Distribute The New Updated Refuse Fascism Call to Action:
The Trump/Pence Regime is a Fascist Regime. Not insult or exaggeration, this is what it is. For the future of humanity and the planet, we, the people, must drive this regime out.
Donald Trump and Mike Pence have assembled a vicious cabal that has put forth positions and begun initiatives which demonstrate that they fully intend to shred political and social norms with catastrophic consequence. Because Trump has his finger on the nuclear trigger, the Trump/Pence regime is more dangerous to the world than even Hitler.
Fascism has direction and momentum. Dissent is piece by piece criminalized. The truth is bludgeoned. Group after group is demonized and targeted along a trajectory that leads to real horrors. All of this has already begun under the Trump Regime. History has shown that fascism must be stopped before it becomes too late.
Millions of people, outraged by this regime, took to the streets delivering a stinging rebuke to Trump the day after the inauguration. Protest and resistance continues against the many attacks on the people by the Trump/Pence administration. This must grow broader, deeper, and more determined. This resistance is righteous and necessary, but it is not sufficient. We must recognize that the character of fascism is that it can absorb separate acts of resistance while continually throwing the opposition off balance by rapidly moving its agenda forward. The Trump/Pence regime will repeatedly launch new highly repressive measures, eventually clamping down on all resistance and remaking the law... IF THEY ARE NOT DRIVEN FROM POWER.
In the first weeks of the Trump/Pence regime they have begun subverting the separation of powers, the separation of Church and State, called for a new nuclear arms race, demonized the press, dismissed the very concept of truth substituting their own fabricated “alternative facts.” It can already be said of Trump/Pence that “first they came for” the Muslims, then the Mexicans, then all refugees, then women, then Black and Latino people, LGBTQ persons, the environment, and anyone who doesn’t conform or submit to their vision and plan for a nation cohered around white supremacy and a political form of Christian fundamentalism, that should rightly be called Christian Fascism.
Fascism is not just a gross combination of horrific reactionary policies. It is a qualitative change in how society is governed. Fascism foments and relies on xenophobic nationalism, racism, misogyny, and the aggressive re-institution of oppressive “traditional values.” In Trump’s election campaign he encouraged and fed on the threat and use of violence to build a movement and come to power. In his inaugural address he pledged allegiance only to this movement. What is crucial to understand is that once in power fascism essentially eliminates traditional democratic rights.
Even as the Trump/Pence Regime is moving fast, they have not yet fully consolidated their regime, or, as yet, been able to implement their full program. But this is their objective and it is very possible. It might only take a single serious crisis—international or domestic—for this regime to drop the hammer. We do not have much time.
There is method to Trump’s madness that echoes Hitler. Fascism advances in stages through outrage, shock and intimidation, followed by brief periods of normalization where people accommodate to the new situation the regime has imposed.
After the election, Obama said of Trump: “We are now all rooting for his success.” NO! If Trump succeeds, humanity loses. Bernie Sanders has said that he will work with Trump on jobs or where they agree. NO! If you work with fascists you normalize the road to horror.
This is not just a pendulum swing Democrat to Republican, but a regime that is moving to establish a fascist order under the signboard of “America First.” Acting as if the election in 2018 or 2020 is the way to deal with this regime is folly, betraying a lack of understanding of just how fast, furious, and profoundly this regime will change the rules, cement its rule, destroy lives and crush spirits.
You cannot try to “wait things out.” Those who lived through Nazi Germany and sat on the sidelines, looking on as Hitler demonized, criminalized, and eventually rounded up one group after another, became shameful collaborators with monstrous crimes.
All of this is what renders the Trump/Pence Regime illegitimate and a grave threat to people all over the world. Therefore, we resolve:
Our single unifying mission must be to Drive Out the Trump/Pence Regime.
We must manifest the power of NO! everywhere: on signs, billboards, walls, social media and the news. NO! In the Name of Humanity, We REFUSE To Accept a Fascist America must resound.
Every outrage committed by this regime must be met with greater and greater resistance.
We must ORGANIZE: working with all our creativity and determination toward the time when millions of people can be moved to fill the streets of cities and towns day after day and night after night, declaring this whole regime illegitimate—Demanding, and Not Stopping, Until the Trump/Pence Regime Is Driven from Power.
If this happens, then the whole political landscape would be dramatically transformed, every faction within the established power structure would be forced to respond—and all this could lead to a situation in which this fascist regime is driven from office.
Let it not be said that we did not move heaven and earth to drive out this regime. This must be a moment in history when millions stand together with conviction and courage, overcoming fear and uncertainty, to resist and say NO! Not just for ourselves, but in the name of humanity.
The Advisory Board of RefuseFascism.org has updated the Call to Act that was issued in December 2016.
This new call is a continuation of the basic message, purpose and objective of RefuseFascism. This updated Call to Action is the unifying mission of RefuseFascism.org. RefuseFascism encourages people to sign this Call to Act, donate funds for its dissemination, and take up the fight to drive out the Trump/Pence Regime.
On Thursday, February 16, immigrants and their supporters boycotted work or school, closed their businesses, and marched in the streets across the U.S. in a “Day Without Immigrants” as an act of resistance against the Trump/Pence regime’s war against immigrants and Trump’s hateful, racist rants against people from other countries. Many people involved in the day wanted to show how important immigrant workers, including the undocumented, are to the economy and daily life of this country.
The call for the action spread on social media with the hashtag #DayWithoutImmigrants. According to the New York Times, “People planned for it in restaurant staff meetings, on construction sites and on commuter buses, but the movement spread mostly on Facebook and via WhatsApp, the messaging service. No national group organized the action.” The director of an organization working with immigrant day laborers in New York City, said “It’s like the Arab Spring. Our members were coming to us, asking what the plan was. Frankly, it kind of came out of nowhere.”
It’s not clear as we write how many people around the country took part in the day, and all the different places where people might have joined in the protest and the fuller scope of the different actions that people took. But in a number of cities, many businesses closed down for the day—especially restaurants, which are big employers of immigrant workers. Some closed down because most of the workers stayed away from their jobs for the day. Other restaurants and businesses were shut by owners and managers in solidarity with the day—including well-known celebrity chefs like Rick Bayless in Chicago and José Andrés in Washington, DC. (In 2015 Andrés had refused to open a planned restaurant in a Trump hotel in DC after Trump spewed out racist shit about Mexican immigrants.) Even some food concessions in the Pentagon were closed for the day because immigrant workers had stayed home. In Sunset Park, Brooklyn in New York City, a neighborhood where Mexican and Central American immigrants are concentrated, most of the taquerias and pastry shops were closed. The NY Times reported that at least in the city, parts of the nonunion construction industry, which relies heavily on immigrant workers, was shut down.
While many who took part in the day of protest were Latino, people of other nationalities joined. In the Midwood neighborhood in Brooklyn, NYC, almost all the Pakistani owners shuttered their shops as part of the day of protest. A bus driver, originally from Egypt, told the NY Times that he was not working on Thursday, like many members of his mosque—“Because of that crazy guy. Because I’m Muslim and I got a lot of family here. They can get separated, and it’s not right.”
In some school districts, large numbers of immigrant students did not show up for class. In Grand Rapids, Michigan, around 4,200 public school students—about a quarter of the total number of students in the district—boycotted classes for the Day Without Immigrants. Classrooms were reported to be no more than half full in Austin, Texas. At the Siler City Elementary School in rural North Carolina, which has a student body that is 65 percent Latino, 263 of the 662 students were absent Thursday. In Newark, New Jersey, students from Science Park High School who had ditched classes joined the protest in front of the county hall of records, chanting, “We are loud, we are clear, immigrants are welcome here.”
The Davis Museum at Wellesley College in New York City took part in the Day Without Immigrants by removing or covering in black felt 120 works of art that had been created or donated by immigrants—about 20 percent of the museum’s total display.
Thousands of Day Without Immigrants marchers shut down streets in downtown Chicago, and there were protests in the streets in Washington, DC; Grand Rapids and Detroit, Michigan; Charlotte, North Carolina; Phoenix, Arizona; Houston and Austin, Texas; Newark, New Jersey, and other cities. In DC, a Chilean immigrant who works as a real estate agent canceled his appointments and brought his 11-year-old daughter to join the march of hundreds. He had lived through the 1973 CIA-sponsored coup in Chile that overthrew an elected government and installed a fascist military regime—and he called what is going on now in the U.S. “déjà vu.”
Revcom.us will update this short roundup of the Day Without Immigrants as we learn more. We encourage readers who took part in or know of other actions on the day to send in short reports, pics, and videos. Email to: email@example.com
Editors’ note: We are reprinting this article from Carl Dix—a founding member of the Revolutionary Communist Party and an advocate for and follower of Bob Avakian—which originally appeared after Barack Obama was elected president. The article remains very relevant today, with a fascist regime in power in the U.S., and with the prospect of Trump trying to pull in more Black youth into the oppressors’ army, police, and immigration enforcement in order to repress and kill off other oppressed people here and around the world for the American empire.
Don't Be a Buffalo Soldier!
February 16, 2017 | Originally published December 14, 2008 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
by Carl Dix
During the Civil War, Black soldiers were allowed to enlist in the Union Army. After the war, most left the army. But some stayed. These soldiers were sent west, to fight and kill the Native American Indians who were defending their lands against the government and the white settlers. The Indians called these soldiers “Buffalo Soldiers.” “Buffalo Soldiers”: Oppressed people given guns and sent out to kill other oppressed people. An old and shameful story that some people, somehow, take pride in. Now that story – and that call – is being revived. Read on....
Barack Obama is going to the White House—the first Black president—and he's calling for a new spirit of service to America. Well I got a question, especially for Black youth—are you going to sign up to fight America's wars now? When Bush was talking about staying the course in Iraq till victory is achieved, most of you all weren't buying it. But now your chests swell with pride when you think of Obama becoming the commander-in-chief of the free world. Some of you all are thinking maybe you would fight for an America that has Obama in charge.
Don't do it. The nature of these wars hasn't changed. They still come down to raining death and destruction on people who haven't done a damn thing to deserve that kind of brutality. Is having a Black commander-in-chief enough to get you to enlist in America's wars for empire, to kill people, and maybe die yourself, trying to keep America's stranglehold on the world in effect? Or are you going to stand with people around the world in opposition to these wars? Are you going to buy the poison Obama is selling and think, and act, like an American? Or are you going to start thinking about what humanity needs?
You all aren't the first generation to face this question. Back in the 1960s, the U.S. sent 100,000's of young men to Vietnam—to kill people and maybe get killed yourself to serve the US empire in trying to drown the Vietnamese people's liberation struggle in blood. They tried to send me over there, but thanks to the powerful movement of resistance to that war, and what I learned from GIs who had gone to Vietnam, I refused to go and kill people in another land. I had more in common with them than with the people who ran this country. And with all the hell Black people were catching in the U.S., I felt my fight was here. I got sent to Leavenworth Military Penitentiary for this "crime." Other GIs refused to go out and fight the "enemy" or resisted in other ways. And many who did go came back to the U.S. and got involved in resistance against the crimes of the system. Some of them joined the Black Panther Party and promoted solidarity with the struggle of the Vietnamese people. I became a revolutionary communist back then, and I've been on that tip ever since.
Some things are different today. The U.S. is going against a different kind of enemy, Islamic fundamentalists, who don't represent anything good, and there isn't a powerful movement in opposition to these wars at the moment. But one thing is the same—these are wars for empire. They're going to send you to murder people at wedding parties in Afghanistan, terrorize children in their homes in Iraq and run their torture chambers. No one should join up to fight or give support to these wars!
Bombs dropped on villages in Iraq or Afghanistan or Pakistan by U.S. war planes won't be any less destructive if Obama is the commander-in-chief of the pilot dropping them! Israeli cluster bombs spread in Palestinian villages and refugee camps won't kill any fewer children if Obama is authorizing the military assistance instead of George Bush! Threats to attack Iran won't be any less warmongering if they are uttered by Obama instead of Bush!
So again I ask you—are you going to approach these wars thinking like an American? Are you gonna follow the example of the Buffalo Soldiers? They were Black cavalry units formed in 1866, made up of former slaves who had fought in the Union army in the Civil War. They were sent off to fight in the murderous and genocidal "Indian wars," driving the native inhabitants off their lands to make way for the expansion of America, "from sea to shining sea." And while the Buffalo Soldiers were fighting the native inhabitants for America, Black people in the southeastern U.S. were catching hell from the KKK and mob violence.
Some people think the legacy of the Buffalo Soldiers is something to be proud of. Colin Powell kept a Buffalo Soldier statue on his desk when he was a top official during both of the Bush presidencies. Colin Powell, who tried to cover up the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam war, who was a major architect of the 1st Gulf war and who went to the UN and lied thru his teeth to justify the invasion of Iraq in 2003, finds the Buffalo Soldiers inspiring. He called them "the wind beneath my wings" and especially cited their "loyalty." Later they were sent by the U.S. to fight Mexican Revolutionaries like Pancho Villa. This is a shameful legacy, and it’s no wonder that a war criminal like Colin Powell is inspired by it.
If you follow in the footsteps of the Buffalo Soldiers, you will be called on to do just like they did: commit horrible acts against people who have done nothing to you, and you will do it in the service of a system that has carried out terrible crimes, including against the masses of African-American people, and you may end up giving up the only life you have in the service of that foul system.
DON'T DO IT! Don't sign up for America's wars under the leadership of "commander in chief" Barack Obama and carry forward the legacy of the Buffalo Soldiers. Instead get with a cause that's in the interest of humanity, and is something worth fighting for—making revolution to wipe imperialism off the face of the earth!
NOT BUFFALO SOLDIERS—October 1971, Vietnam: Several U.S. soldiers at Firebase Pace (seen above in a photo by U.S. journalist RIchard Boyle) near the Cambodian border refused to undertake a patrol outside the perimeter of the firebase. The combat refusal was widely reported by the media as was a letter signed by 65 American soldiers at Firebase Pace to U.S. Senator Edward M. Kennedy protesting that they were being ordered to participate in offensive combat operations despite stated U.S. policy to the contrary.
February 16, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
1) Pulling the Lens Back: The whole episode of Mike Flynn’s resignation is unfolding in a context of claims and counter-claims, and people are drawn into speculation around this. We need to proceed scientifically from the larger reality, and what we know to be true, based on real evidence.
What is known is that big things are at stake with Flynn’s resignation and the backdrop of alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. These allegations are, in part, a reflection of sharp divisions within the U.S. ruling class over the approach to Russia. Trump sees a need and basis to develop some kind of alliance with Russia to further U.S. interests in the world. Others, like Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, along with leading sections of the Democratic Party, see Russia as a direct and immediate rival to U.S. interests...with whom there can be no alliance.
All of this is in the larger context of deep differences within the U.S. ruling class about challenges faced by U.S. imperialism globally, and how to respond to further its national security and economic interests and domination. These challenges span many issues and geographies, including: the rise of Islamic fundamentalism and instability in the Middle East; Iran as an increasingly dominant player in the region; the emergence of China as an economic/military power and potential global rival to the U.S.; the nuclear ambitions of North Korea; and the moves of contending imperialist powers such as Russia and the Western European powers, some strategically aligned with the U.S.
It is a complex situation that poses serious, even catastrophic, danger to the world—greatly raising the risk of war, including war that involves nuclear weapons. Revcom.us will be following events closely, reporting and analyzing.
Many people are being led by the mass media to focus and speculate on the question of ‘what did Trump know and when did he know it,’ and related details. This gets divorced from the larger context that Flynn’s resignation and the quarreling going on is, at a deeper level, a product and manifestation of bigger divides in the U.S. ruling class and Trump’s moves to consolidate his regime.
2) Proceeding from the Interests of Humanity: None of these divides within the U.S. imperialist ruling class have anything to do with the fundamental interests of humanity, and the vast majority living under imperialist domination headed by the U.S. The National Security Council and the CIA are key instruments through which the U.S. enforces its domination through drone killings, wars for empire, and clandestine operations that materially support U.S.-friendly oppressive regimes and groups across the globe.
The track record of the U.S. on this front is drenched in blood: U.S.-supported coups installing murderous regimes in Iran, Indonesia, Chile, and countries in Central America that resulted in massacres and disappearances; U.S.-supported “rebels” that committed war crimes against the people, such as the Contras in Nicaragua, UNITA in Angola, and the list goes on; not to mention devastating wars for empire in Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq. These policies continued under Obama with drone killings across the Middle East, Pakistan, and other countries, and the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
People need to proceed from the fundamental interests of the 7 billion people of the world. The mass media, on the other hand, are shaping people’s thinking and setting terms for discussion where progressives are drawn into taking sides against Trump but objectively in the camp of mainstream U.S. imperialists and their interests and viewpoints strengthening imperialist chauvinism.
3) Aware of the Potentially Great Stakes: This is not just a matter of palace intrigue. Within the larger context of the divides in the U.S. ruling class and the ascension of the Trump/Pence fascist regime, what is happening poses potentially grave dangers for humanity.
It is notable that Trump has trained his fire on the press and intelligence communities. This is no mere distraction, or his wounded ego at play. It is a fascistic move to muzzle the press and neutralize oppositional sections within the ruling class, including its intelligence agencies. Should he succeed in this, and if the kind of rant on display at his February 16 press conference gets normalized, even through the talking heads focusing people’s attention on his psyche—this will represent a leap in the consolidation of this fascist regime.
The controversy indicates that there are significant rumblings of discontent within the powers-that-be against this regime and its moves. We don’t know and cannot say where all this is headed, but we do know that the dynamics of fascist progression necessitate that intra-ruling class disagreement and discord be sufficiently quelled and sapped, resulting in further leaps in its consolidation.
It is a matter of great urgency and import that we act to oust this regime from power, to drive out the Trump/Pence regime as soon as possible, uniting with and drawing into political life the millions of people who hate what this regime represents and is acting to bring into being—a fascist America!
Trump's ICE Raids Deliver the Message: All Undocumented Immigrants Are in His Sights
February 17, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
In Phoenix, Arizona, Mexican-born Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos, who was brought to the U.S. by her parents 22 years ago when she was 14, was arrested February 8 by ICE agents while she was checking in at the U.S. immigration office, which she had been doing routinely for years. Garcia de Rayos’s arrest—followed by immediate deportation—triggered resistance in Phoenix and outcries of anger across the U.S. and in Mexico. (Photo: Rob Schumacher/The Arizona Republic via AP)
Arrest during an ICE raid in Los Angeles, February 7.
(Photo: Charles Reed/U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement via AP)
In the past week, ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) carried out immigration raids in at least 11 states, reportedly arresting 600 or more immigrants, and immediately deporting an unknown number. Word of these raids sent a shudder through the hearts of millions of immigrants; and through the hearts of millions more who don’t think like Trump’s “Americans” but think about their neighbors, their friends—about humanity instead. And while ICE and Homeland Security officials would have us believe that this past week was no more than a “ramped-up” version of “deportation-as-usual,” reports by immigrant rights activists and lawyers show that the targets of Trump’s ICE agents have broadened dramatically, to potentially include every undocumented immigrant in the country.
From day one of his presidential campaign, Donald Trump slandered Mexican immigrants, vowing to stop “rapists” and “drug dealers” “coming across our southern border”; “build a wall”; and drive out all the undocumented immigrants already here, whose presence he considers a direct challenge to his promise to make America white again. When Trump was elected, it sent shockwaves through immigrant communities, and left many people paralyzed with fear. Elementary school children in immigrant neighborhoods were discussing it on the playground, then coming home and asking their parents if they were going to have to leave the country. In Los Angeles, immigrants said that police came to their Sunday services to “assure” people that the local police were not going to act as ICE agents and they wouldn’t check the immigrants’ IDs. And Central American refugees who have been denied refugee status once again felt the imminent danger of being sent back to their deaths.
Executive Order Widens the Net for Deportations
Only days after Trump’s inaugural speech, when he proclaimed the fascist slogan “America First,” Trump signed the executive order, “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States.” The order widens the criteria for “removal” (in other words, deportation) to potentially include all undocumented immigrants. The order states: “We cannot faithfully execute the immigration laws of the United States if we exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement.” The clear signal being sent to ICE agents and other law enforcement thugs is that any and all undocumented immigrants are fair game for arrest and deportation.
Since the order says that there aren’t any categories or groups among the undocumented that should be exempt from deportation, this will no doubt include the 750,000 or more undocumented immigrants who qualified for “deferred deportation,” or DACA, when Obama was president. This order also “empowers State and local law enforcement agencies across the country to perform the functions of an immigration officer ... to the maximum extent permitted by law.” In other words, it authorizes a huge number of additional “immigration officers” to be available when this fascist regime determines that it’s time for massive “search and deport” operations to be carried out.
Raids Across the U.S.
Blocking traffic during a protest of ICE raids throughout the U.S., Las Cruces, New Mexico, February 15. (Photo: Josh Bachman/The Las Cruces Sun-News via AP)
Soon after Trump’s executive order, ICE launched coordinated raids across the country. While ICE and Department of Homeland Security officials repeatedly denied that these raids were anything more than a “surge” in their regular deportation roundups, the reports that came from around the country said otherwise. In city after city immigrants were arrested based on criteria far broader than in the past—consistent with Trump’s new executive order.
In Phoenix, Arizona, Mexican-born Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos, who was brought to the U.S. by her parents 22 years ago when she was 14, was arrested by ICE agents while she was checking in at the U.S. immigration office, which she had been doing routinely for years. Garcia de Rayos’s arrest—followed by immediate deportation—triggered resistance in Phoenix and outcries of anger across the U.S. and in Mexico.
Daniel Ramirez Medina was arrested by ICE agents and taken to a detention center in Tacoma, Washington, despite having a work permit granted to him after he signed up for DACA. That program had given Ramirez temporary legal status and permitted him to stay and work here. According to the New York Times, when Ramirez showed his permit, ICE agents said, “It doesn’t matter because you weren’t born in this country.” A lawyer with the Public Counsel who helped Ramirez file a lawsuit in this case said, “This is a clear violation of his rights.... There was a solemn promise from the executive branch that they would be protected. People have staked their lives and well-being on that promise.”
In El Paso, Texas, ICE agents entered the courthouse where, according to the Washington Post, a transgender undocumented immigrant—“brought there by a victim’s advocate from the Center Against Sexual and Family Violence, a shelter for victims of domestic abuse where she had been living”—was arrested immediately after being granted a protective order against the abusive partner she was living with. This was not just coincidence. The ICE agents had received a tip, apparently from the alleged abuser—and had gone to the courthouse to arrest and deport the victim if she showed up. Imagine the terrible choice that puts before undocumented women: risk repeated beatings, and possible death, at the hands of your abuser—or risk deportation if you seek some kind of legal assistance.
The Post also reported on an undocumented mother of four, a resident of the United States for 20 years, who “sought refuge in the basement of a church this week, rather than check in with authorities, for fear she too would be deported.”
After all of this, and after the repeated lies by officials from ICE and Homeland Security that there was nothing new or extraordinary about their week of terrifying immigrant roundups, Trump himself clarified the origin and purpose of these raids in a tweet: “The crackdown on illegal criminals is merely the keeping of my campaign promise. Gang members, drug dealers & others are being removed!”
The fact is that these raids were meant to deliver a message of terror: No matter the age you crossed the border, or how long you have lived in this country... no matter how hard you’ve worked, how much you’ve sacrificed to raise and support your family, and how much you’ve contributed to your community... and no matter how grave the danger you face if you are forced to return to your country, ravaged by U.S. imperialism... nothing can protect you from arrest and deportation under the new regime now in Washington.
In a February 13 piece in the WashingtonPost’s The Plum Line blog, Greg Sargent writes about Trump’s recent “Muslim ban” and the stepped-up deportation raids. Sargent notes how both were met with “extreme blowback,” or mass protest and resistance, and puts forward his thoughts on what that may mean for the future. The title of his piece contains a warning not to have illusions that these fascists may “grow a heart,” or back off: “Trump’s reign of fear may soon get a whole lot worse.” Sargent suggests that the week of deportation raids, as well as the Muslim ban, may be just the beginning: “These policies may merely be designed to lay the groundwork for something much more ambitious to come—it’s plausible that they may constitute a test run, an initial effort to gauge just how far the administration can go in limiting legal immigration and in expelling undocumented immigrants with longtime ties to U.S. communities.”
...demonization, persecution, and driving immigrants out of the U.S.—at least ones who don’t fit into their definition of “white” ... is central and essential to their hellish agenda to “Make America White Again.” For them, there is no turning back in the war on immigrants. They have whipped up mobs of people who believe they are “entitled” to going back—way back—to a nightmarish era of U.S. history, and worse. That requires the violent ethnic cleansing of America.
What people have done so far in response to Trump’s all-out war on immigrants has been very important and inspiring. The outpourings of tens of thousands of people at airports in response to Trump’s ban on Muslims from seven countries entering the U.S., along with the massive women’s marches the day after Trump’s inauguration, sent a message to the world that there was profound, widespread outrage. The direct action people took, for example, to attempt to prevent the deportation of Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos in Phoenix was righteous—and everyone revolted by the Trump/Pence fascist regime has to be prepared to take that kind of stand.
conference with Trump is big news... Trump is described as unhinged,
rambling, narcissistic. He IS all of these things... but beneath all
these superficial descriptions lies a sinister and ominous message
and declaration that the juggernaut to consolidate an all-round
fascist regime is proceeding—and quickly.
The Trump/Pence Regime
is a Fascist Regime. Not insult or exaggeration, this is
what it is. For the future of humanity and the planet, we, the
people, must drive this regime out.
conference only underlined the truth and importance of taking up
First, Trump in his
opening address outlined all the moves he has ordered and which have
begun to be implemented in one total package. This
plan to eradicate ISIS around the world, imposing further sanctions
on Iran, and the massive buildup of a murderous military
to "give full backing" to law enforcement and the targeting of
inner cities, including in Chicago; building the wall, going after
sanctuary cities, and mass deportations with police enforcing them
On court rulings
unfavorable to him, he not only denounced these and the courts
themselves, backed by blatant lies about the Ninth Circuit, but
declared that he intends to move full steam ahead on the very
measures in these executive orders—the banning of immigrants from
certain Muslim-majority countries—bypassing court decisions with
technical revisions. Vaunted "checks and balances" are no
obstacle to his diktat
Trump bragged he has
removed all obstacles to the construction of the Keystone and Dakota
Access oil pipelines, which portend destruction to the environment
and Native American lands
Trump declared, "There
has never been a presidency that's done so much in such a short
period of time."
He then continued
ominously "And we have not even started the big work yet.
That starts early next week."
Trump/Pence are moving
apace to consolidate their fascist regime. Faced with discontent
among the powers-that-be and resistance from people broadly in
society, Trump felt the need to respond. The fascist steamroller
speaks, but becomes more aggressive and ruthless. The urgency for
the people to oust it is even greater.
Second, at this press conference, Trump brazenly and significantly escalated
his all-round and vicious attack on the press. He further trashed
the historically accepted and institutional norms that govern the
relations between the executive and press in a bourgeois democracy.
Coming from the chief executive, this was beyond what is being done
by Sean Spicer, Kellyanne Conway and his other minions. What mainstream commentators are describing as Trump being “unhinged” is mainly the trashing of these norms—and these commentators are failing to grasp or, primarily, willfully ignoring the march to fascism this really represents.
And for the major
bourgeois press not to call this out for what it really is—a
fascist regime—is criminal, a normalizing of unprecedented
Throwing around labels
of "dishonesty" and "fake news," Trump called out individual
networks, newspapers and journalists for publishing critical
articles, all the while insisting his "alternative facts" are
reality. He heaped visible scorn towards those posing even mildly
In Trump-land, the
press should only report what the Trump/Pence regime says they
should report, and his "alternative facts" shape the reality.
The attack goes further. Not only is it an onslaught against science
and the truth, but insisting the press bend to his will, Trump's
attacks go to foundational elements of the First Amendment.
In Trump's view,
what will be allowed into the public square has no relationship to
the truth, to actual reality. And that is very, very dangerous.
Fascism brooks no serious
Trump issued ominous
warnings and promises about going after intelligence leaks that form
the basis of these critical press reports, overlaying an implicit
threat to neutralize sections of the U.S. national security
establishment that have differences with him.
Trump is telling you,
in no uncertain terms, that it is even truer than ever:
The Trump/Pence Regime
is a Fascist Regime. Not insult or exaggeration, this is
what it is.
As the Call for Refuse
For the future of
humanity and the planet, we, the people, must drive this regime out.
Updated February 20, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Drive Out the Trump/Pence Regime National Tour
Setting Out February 25th
“The Trump/Pence Regime is a Fascist Regime. Not insult or exaggeration, this is what it is. For the future of humanity and the planet, we, the people, must drive this regime out...
“Fascism has direction and momentum. Dissent is piece by piece criminalized. The truth is bludgeoned. Group after group is demonized and targeted along a trajectory that leads to real horrors. All of this has already begun under the Trump Regime. History has shown that fascism must be stopped before it becomes too late.”
RefuseFascism.org is organizing people across the country to rise to the challenge of driving from office the fascist Trump/Pence regime, before it is too late. A key part of RefuseFascism’s plan is the Drive Out the Trump/Pence Regime National Tour. Organizers will set out from NYC in a van to go to the South heading to Texas – areas where the two futures for the country and world are starkly contested.
The Tour will go to hotspots where the lines are sharply posed. The Tour will reach out to campuses and small towns that want to get organized to put a stop to fascism. This Tour will be a dynamic factor on the national terrain with people following its progress, learning of its impact taking inspiration and redoubling their own efforts. As people are resisting the outrages of the Trump/Pence regime around the country, as people are building Refuse Fascism in the big cities and campuses, the Tour can galvanize the hearts and minds of people who want to say NO! to the fascist Trump/Pence regime and oust it from office.
The Tour will pull up to college campuses and rally students in the quad. It will meet up with and work with people who’ve been following Refuse Fascism on social media. When it arrives at hotspots that are on the frontlines of struggle against different aspects of Trump’s fascist program, the Tour will connect up with individuals and groups who have been resisting... religious organizations, student groups, immigrants rights activists, new anti-Trump groups, and more.
Those who encounter the Tour directly, or hear about it and reach out to it, will be worked with by the National Office to go out and organize even more people to become organizers. The Tour will be not just inspire people nationwide, but will be a seeding machine to build organization and movement to make history by driving out this regime.
RefuseFascism.org will feature photos, reports, and lessons of the Tour as it travels so that people nation-wide can follow it, bring it to their area, and join its efforts. Through social media and media coverage it generates, the Tour will project its message out into society.
There are several key ways people can help make this Tour a success:
Donate generously. This Tour will cost tens of thousands of dollars for transportation, food, and lodging; for materials and displays; and for national communications capacity; your donation will make a very big difference in reaching thousands across the country.
Volunteer to travel with the Tour. To apply, email us with your name, phone number, potential dates you are available, and why you are interested in being on the Tour: firstname.lastname@example.org
Volunteer to help host the Tour in your area. This includes housing the Tour, setting up speaking/organizing events, joining the efforts of the Tour in your area, and working with the National Office after the Tour leaves. Between Feb 24 and March 10, the Tour will travel from NYC through North Carolina, Georgia and other places in the South, ending up in Texas – contact us if you are in these areas. After that is yet to be scheduled – get in touch. email@example.com
Trump Regime Memo Proposed Using National Guard for Mass Roundup and Deportation of Immigrants
February 18, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On Friday, February 17, the Associated Press reported on and made available a draft proposal from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for massive use of the National Guard as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents to round up and deport masses of immigrants in this country. (Associated Press articles are published and republished by more than 1,700 newspapers, and more than 5,000 television and radio broadcasters.)
The leaked memo proposed that the DHS enter into agreements with the governors of 11 states (the four on the Mexico border and the seven states that border them) to authorize their National Guard forces “to perform the functions of an immigration officer in relation to the investigation, apprehension and detention of aliens in the United States.” The memo said, “Based on their training and experience, these men and women are particularly well-suited to assist in the enforcement of federal immigration law and augment border security operations...” (The DHS memo is available online here.)
Past presidents, including George W. Bush and Obama, have deployed hundreds of National Guard troops to shore up Border Patrol operations. But the DHS memo raised the specter of as many as 100,000 National Guard troops being mobilized, not just on the border but for mass roundups of immigrants beyond the border areas.
Spokespeople for the Trump/Pence regime condemned the Associated Press story, at first saying there was no such memo—and then claiming it was an early draft of the final memorandum. They said that the final DHS memo did not include a proposal to mobilize the National Guard for rounding up, detaining, and deporting immigrants. They gave no explanation for why the idea was rejected for the final version of the memorandum. And no Trump/Pence official ruled out the future use of the National Guard to round up immigrants.
A writer for the website The Daily Beast, Betsy Woodruff, reported that a former DHS official under Obama “suspects [the] memo was likely written by someone close to the Trump White House team, and who had detailed knowledge of the president’s planned immigration executive orders—potentially a member of the transition team who worked on DHS issues.” The name of General Kelly, chosen by Trump to head DHS, was on the leaked memo; Trump officials denied that Kelly had signed the draft proposal.
It has been widely assumed that in order for the Trump/Pence regime to carry out the mass immigrant roundups and deportations on the scale they have promised, they would require a huge increase in the number of ICE and Border Patrol agents—many more than the increase of 15,000 that Trump has already announced—and it would take years to hire and train a whole new army of stormtroopers. But what the DHS memo pointed to was the prospect of the regime calling up tens of thousands of National Guard troops to quickly boost the anti-immigrant forces.
Put yourself in the position of the millions of undocumented immigrants in this country at this moment. Feel your heart pounding as you think about hearing a knock at the door at 5 a.m. .., being stopped at a checkpoint as you drive to work and ordered to prove you are “legal”... suddenly being torn from your children, or watching your parents as they’re being dragged into an ICE van. Think about being held in a detention center/prison indefinitely, or sent back to a country that you left—because U.S. domination messed things up so much that it was impossible to make a living there, or because the resulting violence had put your life in danger.
This nightmare is Trump’s America. This we cannot allow. In the interests of humanity, the people must drive out this fascist regime.
Protests Across the U.S. Against Attacks on Immigrants and for #NotMyPresidentsDay
Updated February 20, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On Saturday, February 18, thousands marched in several cities against the Trump/Pence regime's stepped-up attacks on immigrants and refugees. And more anti-Trump protests are planned across the country through this three-day Presidents' Day holiday weekend, including #NotMyPresidentsDay actions in dozens of cities. Revcom.us will update this page over the weekend.
In dozens of cities across the U.S.—from New York and Washington, DC, to Chicago, Atlanta, Denver, and Los Angeles—thousands marched and rallied for #NotMyPresidentsDay. People came from a broad range of views—and the protests today and through the three-day holiday weekend showed there continues to be a deep reservoir of anger among wide sections of the people at Trump, and opposition to the attacks on immigrants and other outrages being carried out by the fascist regime.
In New York City, more than 10,000 jammed the streets near the Trump International Hotel. A CNN online report said:
In New York’s Columbus Circle, protesters held signs with a simple message—the word “No!” in different languages.
In addition, merchants sold T-shirts reading “Not My President” above smaller text reading “Elected but not chosen.”
“In the name of humanity, fascist America—No! No! No! No! No!,” they chanted.
Washington, DC: Marching to the White House. Photo: Twitter/@Collinrees
In Washington, DC, thousands marched to the White House. A 69-year-old woman told reporters that the protests against Trump reminded her of the 1960s anti-Vietnam War protests she was involved in, and said: “What I’m seeing ... is the amazing interest of people who have never been activists. This does inspire us.”
Hundreds rallied across the river from the Trump Tower in Chicago and at the City Hall in Los Angeles. In Portland, Oregon, riot pigs jumped out of a police van and arrested peaceful protesters. The protest in New Paltz, north of New York City, included the tearing down of a wall of cardboard boxes to symbolize resistance to Trump’s border wall. Other cities with protests today included Kansas City, Missouri, St. Louis, Austin, San Jose, and Boston.
Hundreds protest in Kansas City, Missouri. Photo: Twitter/@TonysKansasCity
In London, UK, an estimated 300,000 people protested outside the Parliament to demand that the British government cancel the state visit by Trump planned for later this year.
London, UK: Hundreds of thousands of protesters at the Parliament demand cancellation of Trump state visit. Photo: Twitter/@jamc1878
of scientists, educators, environmental activists, and others
rallied outside the American Academy of Scientists annual meeting in
an action to "Stand Up for Science" against the Trump/Pence
Regime's attack on the science around climate change and on
science and scientists more broadly. It was organized by the
National History Museum, ClimateTruth.org, Union of Concerned
Scientists, and others. One of the rally organizers told the
feel that we're in this public relations battle right now, and we
need to recast our work as scientists, not as dispassionate data
junkies, but as people that care about the world around us." Some
of the signs people held read: "Objective Reality Exists,"
"Poetry Nerds for Science," "Immigrants Make Science Great,"
and "Scientists: Serving the Common Good."
of people packed Times Square for the "I Am a Muslim Too" rally
to declare solidarity with those targeted by Trump's anti-Muslim
executive order. The rally was called by Imam Shamsi Ali of the
Jamaica Muslim Center in New York City; Rabbi Marc Schneier of the
Hampton Synagogue and Foundation for Ethnic Understanding; and
Russell Simmons, founder of Def Jam. Addressing the crowd, Schneier
talked about how the U.S. had turned away a ship carrying more than
900 Jewish refugees, many of whom were later killed in the
Holocaust, and said, "Never again!" Among others speaking were
actor Susan Sarandon, Linda Sarsour of the Arab American
Association, and Rev. N.J. L'Heureux Jr., of the Queens Federation
Thousands marched through the downtown Loop in a "Protest to Stop the Trump Agenda," marking one month since the start of the Trump/Pence Regime.
marched and rallied on the steps of the state capitol in a "United
for Immigrant Rights March and Rally." The organizers' Facebook
event page said the action was "to build community, celebrate our
immigrant heritage and defiantly pledge to protect immigrants from
hateful attacks and policies. Show support and solidarity with your
fellow neighbors, family members, colleagues, and friends as we
march for justice, dignity, and respect."
From a reader:
Thousands of people hit the downtown streets for the "Free the People Immigrant March—Sanctuary for All!" The Facebook events page for the march said, "Our people are under attack and we are increasingly the targets of xenophobia, Islamophobia, racism, sexism, bigotry and hate under the Trump administration." Among the march's demands were an immediate stop to the ICE raids and deportations, and that Los Angeles be declared a "sanctuary city" that "refuses to collaborate with the ICE." This protest was striking in that many people who participated were young (some high school but mostly college students) as well as families. There were immigrant rights organizations and people affiliated with unions, for example, but this was a crowd of people very fresh to political life. There were people from the core areas of Los Angeles, but the majority were from cities outside of the central LA area. There was an organized Refuse Fascism LA group that led chants from within the march and passed out 6,300 of the new updated Refuse Fascism Call to Action and thousands of stickers that read: "STAY In The Streets. STOP Trump/Pence Fascist Regime."