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Revolution #479 February 20, 2017
Updated as of February 20, 2017 5PM EST | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Trump’s performance at his Thursday press conference shocked millions. Mainstream commentators described it—and him—as “unhinged.” Trump convened this press conference on the heels of a string of major developments including: the resignation of his national security advisor Mike Flynn; defiant mass protests and court rulings against his executive order banning immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries (see “Trump Attacks Middle Eastern and North African Immigrants... People Fight Back... TAKE IT HIGHER!“); growing criticism from a section of the mainstream press of what they termed the “dysfunction” of this regime; and widespread outrage over the blatant lying of the regime’s minions like Sean Spicer and Kellyanne Conway. Flynn’s resignation occurred in the midst of, and reinforced a cloud of allegations of close links between Trump, his campaign and Russia.
In the face of all this, Trump doubled down. He went on the offensive, making an aggressive defense brief for the “achievements” of his administration. And he ominously promised that “[W]e have not even started the big work yet.”
Beyond that, Trump let loose an extended, vitriolic and unprecedented attack on the press, on individual judges, and the courts which ruled against him and other institutions of liberal bourgeois democracy. A day later, he tweeted: the press is the “enemy of the American people.”
This marked a leap in the fascist trajectory and dynamic of this regime.
As the new updated call from Refuse Fascism states, “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.”
The Trump/Pence regime IS a fascist regime, qualitatively and rapidly recasting societal norms and unleashing horrors upon the masses of people—here and around the world. Imposing this fascist program on society and implementing these extreme measures requires steam-rolling, intimidating, threatening, silencing and suppressing those who pose obstacles.
All this is not mainly a question of Trump “unhinged” or “under the influence” of Russia, nor is it of an administration “finely-tuned” or in “dysfunction.” This IS fascism!
Fascism is the exercise of blatant dictatorship by the bourgeois (capitalist-imperialist) class, ruling through reliance on open terror and violence, trampling on what are supposed to be civil and legal rights, wielding the power of the state, and mobilizing organized groups of fanatical thugs, to commit atrocities against masses of people, particularly groups of people identified as “enemies,” “undesirables,” or “dangers to society.”
At the same time—and this can be seen through studying the examples of Nazi Germany and Italy under Mussolini—while it will likely move quickly to enforce certain repressive measures in consolidating its rule, a fascist regime is also likely to implement its program overall through a series of stages and even attempt at different points to reassure the people, or certain groups among the people, that they will escape the horrors—if they quietly go along and do not protest or resist while others are being terrorized and targeted for repression, deportation, “conversion,” prison, or execution.
This is what we are witnessing with the Trump/Pence regime in its dynamics, including this very week.
Let’s sift through the madness and identify themes, patterns, and where all this is leading, fast.
Threats of mass deportation of undocumented immigrants have escalated causing terror among millions. Right now they are being justified in the name of removing “criminal” elements. Far beyond that, immigration raids and arrests have targeted people with no imaginable connection to any criminal activity. The net has been cast wider.
Trump reiterated his threat to bring “law and order” to the inner cities, singling out the inner city of Chicago and saying “that’s worse than almost any of the places in the Middle East.” If you think about what Trump is threatening to do to the Middle East, there is a sharp genocidal edge to statements like that—reinforced by Trump’s unequivocal backing of the police and the confirmation of white supremacist Jeff Sessions as the attorney general.
Trump’s promises of “education” in the inner cities, with the Christian fascist Betsy DeVos as education secretary, as the statement “From the Central Committee of the Revolutionary Communist Party to ALL People: WHAT THE TRUMP/PENCE REGIME WILL MEAN FOR BLACK PEOPLE—AND WHAT MUST BE DONE ABOUT IT, NOW!” states, is but a recipe of training Black youth as Christian fundamentalist robots, unable to think critically or resist.
Internationally, the Trump administration is seeking to hammer, to bludgeon, a new world order into existence. This was evident with regard to qualitative changes in U.S. policy on Israel and the Palestinians, bellicose anti-Iran declarations in Trump’s press conference with the Prime Minister of Israel, Trump’s continued threat to “eradicate” ISIS from the face of this earth, and with potential changes in U.S. alignment with China and Russia and their consequences. This is potentially incalculably dangerous and threatening to humanity, both in its coherence and as a reckless “work in progress.” Factoring in the potential use of nuclear weapons, by accident or design, this represents potentially catastrophic consequences for humanity.
Historical institutions and norms, the basic rights which liberal bourgeois democracy says it is about are under assault; Trump’s fascist juggernaut is moving full steam ahead to replace these norms with the iron fist of fascism, new norms which serve his program. And as he does this, a key front is forging and mobilizing his fascist social base.
“The American people,” in the eyes of Trump, are the people who are blindly loyal to him and hang on his every lying word—a thoroughly reactionary white-supremacist social base. This is a play from the classically fascist playbook, rallying a fascist social base against liberal bourgeois democracy whose norms need to be trashed for fascism to consolidate, reign and impose its program on society. Right after his press conference, where did he go? To rally “the people.”
Trump’s attack on the press—at a press conference—was both an escalation of this regime’s assault on truth and the press, and unprecedented in various dimensions. From—and wielding—the bully pulpit of the highest office of the land, with its enormous executive and repressive powers, Trump slandered and dismissed a large section of the mainstream press including CNN and the New York Times as “fake news.”
He repeatedly used terms like “discredited” and “dishonest media” to refer to any stories critical of him and his administration. Trump accused the press of misleading the public, saying he is there to “take the message straight to the people” and laying the groundwork for casting them as “the enemy of the American people.”
The “intelligence community” is an instrument of the U.S. empire, carrying out spying, torture, instigating coups and invasions. But these agencies are supposed to be above partisan politics. Trump has taken on sections of the intelligence community that may pose obstacles to this regime’s program. He threatened to hunt down and prosecute those sources in the government providing information to the reporters.
As a whole, these attacks were such an egregious departure from the normal way presidents act that Republican Senator McCain publicly commented that dictators “get started by suppressing free press.”
Trump went after the courts that ruled against his “Muslim ban,” claiming they made Americans “unsafe.” While the judiciary is part of the capitalist state, it has exercised certain “checks and balances” on the power of the executive and legislature, the other branches of government. Rulings from the federal Ninth Circuit Court have temporarily blocked the enforcement of Trump’s executive orders on immigration. Trump not only trashed this Circuit, but also effectively threw to the side the actual objection of the courts, saying he will implement the same measures by revising the orders to meet legal technical requirements.
Institutions and norms such as freedom of the press, and the independent role of the judiciary, such as they are, pose some obstacles to Trump/Pence in their effort to implement their all- round fascist program. While the press and the judiciary are NOT fundamentally challenging the legitimacy of the Trump/Pence fascist regime, they are acting according to what have been their roles historically and this is unacceptable to this regime.
The momentum and dynamic of fascism necessitates either remaking these institutions to be loyal and compliant to the Trump/Pence fascist regime, or silencing and suppressing them, by force of state, and by rallying the fascist social base against these institutions. This is behind what is going on with Trump casting them as “the enemy” of the people as Trump did with the press.
Again, and to be clear, these institutions (the judiciary and the press) are in fact, part of the ruling structures of society enforcing this system. But the attacks on them for even the slightest opposition pave the way for this regime consolidating its rule and committing even greater horrors for humanity. Even as the press in this country has long been a propaganda organ for the imperialist ruling class, the attacks on them quash even more our ability to learn the truth about what is happening in the world, including the criminal acts of this regime.
Further, attacks on the press and courts further pave the way for an even greater erosion of basic formal democratic rights for wide swathes of society, such as freedom of speech and assembly, even if for oppressed sections of the people, these rights—even in the “normal” workings of bourgeois democracy—exist more in a formal sense rather than in actuality under this system.
Overall, it is important to recognize that while fascism and liberal bourgeois democracy (represented mainly by Obama/Clinton) both represent the rule of the bourgeoisie, or the capitalist ruling class, fascism is qualitatively worse, an even more grotesque and murderous form of this system and horrors for the masses of people, here and around the world. Liberal bourgeois democracy does need to be replaced, not by a more grotesque and murderous form of the same system, but a radically new and far better society—as manifested in concrete and visionary form in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, authored by Bob Avakian.
To get a scientific, historical and materialist understanding of the rise of fascism and its underlying causes, drivers, and expressions such as Christian fascism, why the liberal democrats are no answer to the oppression and exploitation of humanity and people in this country, and what is to be done for the emancipation of humanity, we highly recommend the following works by Bob Avakian: (a) “The Truth About Right-Wing Conspiracy... And Why Clinton and the Democrats Are No Answer“ (b) “The Fascists and the Destruction of the ‘Weimar Republic’...And What Will Replace It“
While this week represented a demonstration and defiant escalation of fascism on the march, it portends greater danger and horrors—and calls forth even more the need to oust this regime as soon as possible, drawing upon millions of people, who hate what Trump/Pence represent, and their anger and protest at the various outrages of this regime.
The Trump/Pence regime is backed by powerful sections of the ruling class, from most of the Republican Party to law enforcement and sections of the national security establishment and finance capital. They have their reins on power—and those who think they will just “go away,” or more rational “grown-ups” will prevail are just deluding themselves into fantasy, at the expense of the 7 billion people of humanity who are at greater risk from this regime and its hands on the nuclear weapons.
It will not be easy—but it is possible, at this moment, before it is too late and their regime is consolidated—to drive them out of power, but only if we act, commensurate with the necessity and urgency to do so. In doing so, we have to build on and draw from the righteous protests that erupted right after the inauguration and continue against his diktats. As the Call from Refuse Fascism points out:
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.
For the future of humanity and the planet, we, the people, must drive this regime out.
Revolution #479 February 20, 2017
Editors' note: The following is an excerpt from the new work by Bob Avakian, THE NEW COMMUNISM. In addition to excerpts already posted on revcom.us, we will be running further excerpts from time to time on both revcom.us and in Revolution newspaper. These excerpts should serve as encouragement and inspiration for people to get into the work as a whole, which is available as a book from Insight Press. 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."
This raises another point I spoke about at the beginning of this Cultural Revolution in the RCP. And that is the phenomenon that, as I put it then, most of the time, most communists are not communists. Now, this is obviously a problem! So, what do I mean by that? I mean that people, even people who sincerely consider themselves and want to be communists, are influenced strongly by all the pulls of living in a world which obviously is not communist and is powerfully pushing things in the opposite direction, in terms of how the system operates, the ways of thinking it promotes, and the influence of all that on people. And it seems that communists, living in this world of bourgeois relations, have many times found it very difficult, in their own thinking, to get beyond the realm of bourgeois right; to get beyond thinking that all we need to do, or the most important thing we need to do, is improve democracy; to get beyond thinking that we just need to have more equality; to get beyond thinking that, for example in a country like China (and this was a major theme of the revisionists there), since China for centuries has been trampled on by all these other powers in the world, what is needed, and what should be the basic goal, is to build China up as a powerful country so that it can take its rightful place in the world—which then strongly influences things to go on the road of capitalism, because that seems to be a kind of “shortcut” to building up the country as a power to contend with all the other powerful countries in the world—and this takes the place of thinking about the whole world and how to move beyond oppression and exploitation for the masses of people in the whole world. You see, another form of bourgeois right is just thinking in terms of “my nation, my people, my country” in opposition, at least objectively, to every other nation, people and country. Where does my nation, where does my people, where does my country stand in relation to everybody else? It becomes a contest of commodity relations on the level of nation to nation, or people to people, or country to country.
A lot of communists have had a very hard time getting beyond that whole way of thinking and instead approaching things with the orientation: yes, we make revolution in particular countries; yes, we have to struggle against the inequalities that are embedded in this system, within and between nations and countries; but the goal is way beyond that. The goal is to get to a radically different world where we have moved beyond all the things that constantly give rise to inequality and oppression and exploitation, all the things that are concentrated in that formulation of the “4 Alls.” A lot of communists—or people who call themselves communists—have forgotten about the “4 Alls.” They just concern themselves with the immediate struggle and what they can do to improve things here and there within the given framework, particularly the framework of the particular country they’re in. I’ve referred a number of times to the polemic in Demarcations #4, “Ajith—A Portrait of the Residue of the Past.” I’ve also referred to another important polemic against Ajith, by the OCR of Mexico, Communism or Nationalism? which is also in Demarcations #4. These polemics go deeply into the difference between actually being a communist and working toward the “4 Alls,” on the one hand, and working for something less, even in the name of communism, on the other hand.
What all this points to is the need for a continuing struggle for communists to actually be communists, to be guided by what communism is really about: the application of the scientific method and approach of communism, aiming for the goal of what’s concentrated in the “4 Alls,” all over the world, and not looking at things in terms of something more short-term, more narrow and limited. In other words, communists, too, have to continually struggle to break themselves out of the confines, beyond the narrow horizon, of bourgeois right, in terms of their basic orientation and approach. This struggle is ongoing, and will be ongoing, because this is not happening in a vacuum—it is happening in a world where bourgeois relations and bourgeois right are constantly asserting their influence on people, in the way this system works and the way it conditions and propagandizes people to think and act.
Introduction and Orientation
Foolish Victims of Deceit, and Self-Deceit
Part I. Method and Approach, Communism as a Science
Materialism vs. Idealism
Through Which Mode of Production
The Basic Contradictions and Dynamics of Capitalism
The New Synthesis of Communism
The Basis for Revolution
Epistemology and Morality, Objective Truth and Relativist Nonsense
Self and a “Consumerist” Approach to Ideas
What Is Your Life Going to Be About?—Raising People’s Sights
Part II. Socialism and the Advance to Communism:
A Radically Different Way the World Could Be, A Road to Real Emancipation
The “4 Alls”
Beyond the Narrow Horizon of Bourgeois Right
Socialism as an Economic System and a Political System—And a Transition to Communism
Abundance, Revolution, and the Advance to Communism—A Dialectical Materialist Understanding
The Importance of the “Parachute Point”—Even Now, and Even More With An Actual Revolution
The Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America—
Solid Core with a Lot of Elasticity on the Basis of the Solid Core
Emancipators of Humanity
Part III. The Strategic Approach to An Actual Revolution
One Overall Strategic Approach
Hastening While Awaiting
Forces For Revolution
Separation of the Communist Movement from the Labor Movement, Driving Forces for Revolution
National Liberation and Proletarian Revolution
The Strategic Importance of the Struggle for the Emancipation of Women
The United Front under the Leadership of the Proletariat
Youth, Students and the Intelligentsia
Struggling Against Petit Bourgeois Modes of Thinking, While Maintaining the Correct Strategic Orientation
The “Two Maximizings”
The “5 Stops”
The Two Mainstays
Returning to "On the Possibility of Revolution"
Internationalism and an International Dimension
Internationalism—Bringing Forward Another Way
Popularizing the Strategy
Part IV. The Leadership We Need
The Decisive Role of Leadership
A Leading Core of Intellectuals—and the Contradictions Bound Up with This
Another Kind of “Pyramid”
The Cultural Revolution Within the RCP
The Need for Communists to Be Communists
A Fundamentally Antagonistic Relation—and the Crucial Implications of That
Strengthening the Party—Qualitatively as well as Quantitatively
Forms of Revolutionary Organization, and the “Ohio”
Statesmen, and Strategic Commanders
Methods of Leadership, the Science and the “Art” of Leadership
Working Back from “On the Possibility”—
Another Application of “Solid Core with a Lot of Elasticity on the Basis of the Solid Core”
The New Synthesis of Communism:
Fundamental Orientation, Method and Approach,
and Core Elements—An Outline
by Bob Avakian
Framework and Guidelines for Study and Discussion
Selected List of Works Cited
About the Author
Revolution #479 February 20, 2017
Updated February 21, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Video sent to Shaun King from Standing Rock on February 21, 2017.
URGENT.— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) February 21, 2017
My friends in Standing Rock just sent this to me & asked me to share it. They are surrounded by militarized police RIGHT NOW. pic.twitter.com/plR0Tfaagc
A critical moment is looming in the battle to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), which threatens the lands, treaty rights, cultures, and the very existence of the Standing Rock and other Sioux tribes, and Earth’s environment itself. A heroic battle by the Standing Rock Sioux, some 200 other Native American peoples, and many thousands of others has blocked completion of DAPL for nearly a year. Now, the State of North Dakota has joined the Army Corps of Engineers in demanding that the main protest camp—Oceti Sakowin—be evacuated by February 22 or people will face possible arrest.
The State of North Dakota has joined with the Army Corps of Engineers to demand the main DAPL protest camp be shut down by February 22. Photo: Special to revcom.us
These dangerous developments come in the wake of the Trump/Pence fascist regime taking power and quickly stepping up the government’s assault on resisters at Standing Rock—and on all who support them. Four days after Trump’s inauguration, he signed an executive order demanding the Army Corps of Engineers accelerate its review and approval of the pipeline’s construction. Little more than a week later, the Corps dropped its promised environmental impact study of the pipeline and instead granted an easement to Energy Transfer Partners, the conglomerate building the pipeline, to finish it. This easement allows construction of one of the sections of DAPL which most directly threatens the Standing Rock Sioux and the environment: the 1.25-mile section under Lake Oahe, a reservoir on the Missouri River, just north of the current boundaries of the Standing Rock Sioux reservation (and through lands and waters granted to the Sioux nation under an 1851 treaty).
North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum claimed the state had issued the order to evacuate Oceti Sakowin camp because rising floodwaters could endanger people there and threaten to contaminate the waters of the Missouri because of debris and waste supposedly left in the camp. The order, the governor stated, was being issued “out of concern for the safety of people who are residing on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers land in southern Morton County and to avoid an ecological disaster to the Missouri River.”
This outrageous statement twists truth beyond recognition. First, while this camp is on Army Corps of Engineers land, that land was granted to the Sioux by treaty in 1851 and subsequently stolen by the U.S. government.
Second, since January, as the snow has melted, the Standing Rock Sioux and other resisters have been cleaning up the Oceti Sakowin camp in anticipation of possible flooding, and they’ve reportedly made substantial progress and are calling for volunteers to help in the process—not for violent government assaults.
Third, and most important: What is the real environmental danger? It’s the nearly 1,200-mile-long DAPL, scheduled to carry 470,000 barrels of Earth-killing oil a day—not the protest camp! Climate change-denying, fossil-fuel-fixated ghouls like Governor Burgum have no right to invoke environmental dangers to attack those who are defending the environment!
Pipeline leaks would threaten the water supply of the Standing Rock Sioux, and the 27 tribes and 18 million people downriver who depend on water from the Missouri. And despite Energy Transfer Partners’ assurances about the pipeline it’s building, pipeline leaks are frequent. (Indian Country Today Media Network notes there have been numerous recent pipeline spills “including the release of 80,000 gallons of oil near Tioga, North Dakota, in October 2013; 51,000 gallons of oil released into the Yellowstone River upstream from Glendive, Montana; as well as the release of 1,000,000 gallons of tar sands crude into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River in July 2010.”)
Over the past year, 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, making some 700 arrests. On February 1, over 70 water protectors were arrested in a vicious and unjustified government assault. One leader in the Standing Rock resistance, Chase Iron Eyes, was charged with “inciting to riot” and now faces up to five years in prison. (See Revolution Interview with Chase Iron Eyes—“On the Battle at Standing Rock and Resisting Trump: ‘The whole country is going to have to stand up and take risks.’”)
Now these assaults are intensifying, not just aimed at completing the pipeline, but also breaking the powerful resistance that has emerged at Standing Rock against the crimes this system is carrying out against Native peoples, and the accelerating climate crisis, driven in large part by the burning of the fossil fuels DAPL will be carrying. This resistance has resonated with and inspired millions across the U.S. and globally.
New bills are being introduced and debated in the North Dakota legislature to increase criminal penalties against those who refuse to leave the protest camp or continue to resist DAPL. Journalists have been targeted, arrested, in some cases strip-searched, and hit with serious charges simply for covering the resistance. There are reports that militarized police are being positioned on high ground near the camp.
The executive vice president of Energy Transfer Partners recently called water protectors “terrorists.” “Had these actions been undertaken by foreign nationals, they could only be described as acts of terrorism,” he claimed. Harold Frazier, chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux, responded: “from what I have seen, Morton County is the terrorist,” saying that he’s been shot with rubber bullets and tear-gassed by police simply for protesting the pipeline.
Ominously, the Guardian (February 10) reported that an FBI anti-terrorism task force was investigating Standing Rock activists and that at least six face serious federal charges. On February 18, the Guardian said that “Demonstrators at the anti-pipeline camps in Cannon Ball, North Dakota, now fear that the US justice department’s recent round of arrests and warrants is the beginning of an aggressive prosecution effort by Donald Trump’s administration.”
Hundreds of resisters are still at Standing Rock, new encampments are being set up, and many are vowing to stay and continue the fight. Others, including military veterans, are returning to defend the water protectors.
People at Standing Rock have called for nationwide actions in support of their struggle. There have already been a number of important actions, including demonstrations, benefit concerts, and other events. On February 5, for example, thousands of people gathered in downtown Los Angeles to say NO! to DAPL and to support Standing Rock. The protest was organized in response to Trump’s executive order to fast-track DAPL and the Keystone XL pipeline.
This call from the resisters at Standing Rock needs to be taken up even more broadly, urgently, and energetically. The battle at Standing Rock is a key battle against oppression and environmental destruction. And as Revolution has written, “it is urgent that this important struggle be part of the defining struggle to STOP the fascist regime of Trump/Pence before it consolidates its power.”
Stay tuned to revcom.us for coverage and analysis of this critical battle.
Revolution #479 February 20, 2017
February 20, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Trump’s February 16 press conference is big news... Trump is described as unhinged, rambling, narcissistic. He IS all of these things... but beneath all the 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 new, updated Call to Action from Refuse Fascism states:
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.
Trump wound up his press conference calling himself the “least racist person [you’ve ever seen in your entire life]” as he bullied an African-American reporter and spewed venom for the people of the inner cities—especially of Chicago, which he described as “worse than almost any of the places in the Middle East.”
He announced his executive order to “fix the inner cities” is coming any day: “...we’re going to work on education, we’re going to work on―you know―we’re going to stop—we going to try to stop the crime. We have great law enforcement officials....”
Let’s be clear... Trump’s “fixing the inner cities” is nothing less than an all-out fascist assault on Black people. Yes, there may be a few jobs doled out... certainly in the military, which is sent around the world to brutally enforce oppression and U.S. domination and most likely as immigration officers tracking down undocumented people like the slave catchers hunted down runaway slaves. Public schools will basically be destroyed and replaced with Christian fundamentalist schools that turn out students who are unable to think critically or resist. And at the forefront of this assault—people will be under the gun with the feds “restoring law and order” and the police unleashed to murder more people with impunity and crush all resistance.
Further locking down and repressing the masses of Black people is a key front in the whole fascist reordering of society. This must not be allowed to go down. But more, the Trump/Pence Regime—with all the horrors that its consolidation will mean for all people, here and around the world—must be driven out. And Black people need to be a vital force in this struggle to derail this whole fascist program.
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.
This is essential... it is urgent.
Drive out the Trump/Pence Regime.
Revolution #479 February 20, 2017
February 20, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On February 1, Milo Yiannopoulos, Breitbart News editor and fascist provocateur, was scheduled to speak at UC Berkeley, but thousands of students, professors, and others protested and shut this motherfucker down.
After that, in an unconscionable move, Bill Maher scheduled Yiannopoulos to appear on his HBO show Real Time, on February 17—giving this fascist a forum to spew his poison and lending him credibility.
Jeremy Scahill, journalist and co-founder of TheIntercept.com, who has been a frequent guest on Real Time, was also scheduled to appear on the February 17 show. But when Scahill learned that Yiannopoulos was also going to be a guest on the show, he withdrew and issued a public statement, "Why I will not appear this week on Real Time with Bill Maher." It reads in part:
Whatever one might say about Bill, he always allows guests to challenge him or disagree with him. But Milo Yiannopoulos is many bridges too far. He has ample venues to spew his hateful diatribes. There is no value in "debating" him. Appearing on Real Time will provide Yiannopoulos with a large, important platform to openly advocate his racist, anti-immigrant campaign. It will be exploited by Yiannopoulos in an attempt to legitimize his hateful agenda. Yiannopoulos's appearance could also be used to incite violence against immigrants, transgender people, and others at a time when the Trump Administration is already seeking to formalize a war against some of the most vulnerable people in our society. Yiannopoulos has shown he will use his appearances to publicly attack and shame specific ordinary people by name, a practice which could lead to violence or even death. Real Time, of course, has the right to book whomever it wants on its show, including Yiannopoulos. But I cannot participate in an event that will give a platform to such a person. For these reasons, I have informed the producers of Real Time that I will not appear on the show.
What Jeremy Scahill predicted would happen on Real Time is exactly what did happen. Not only did Maher give this fascist motherfucker an open mic to spew his poison—but Maher was complicit in this! Far from even challenging Yiannopoulos in any way, Maher sunk to new depths—acting all chummy, sucking up to Yiannopoulos, joking around with him, refusing to challenge any of his shit. When Yiannopoulos said he thought "girls should be protected from men who are confused about their sexual identities in their bathrooms" Maher said, "That's not unreasonable." Maher admonished "liberals" to "stop taking the bait" [that is, leave this fascist alone].
Maher's despicable behavior created lots of controversy and the next day there was much commentary in the media—including people exposing Maher. The New York Times called it a "largely docile, chummy affair" where there "was little conflict or cross-examination, as both men chided the political left for avoiding or drowning out Mr. Yiannopoulos's views rather than engaging with them." The Los Angeles Times reported that Maher talked to Yiannopoulos, "agreeing with him nearly as much as disagreeing with him and generally affecting a convivial tone." There were headlines such as these: CNN—"Bill Maher's shameful mainstreaming of Yiannopoulos' hate"; New York Times—"Bill Maher and Milo Yiannopoulos Find Common Ground"; Washington Post—"Milo Yiannopoulos found a bromance with Bill Maher...."
So cheers to Jeremy Scahill for standing up to principle and doing the right thing! And fuck you to Bill Maher.
Read Jeremy Scahill's full statement here.
Revolution #479 February 20, 2017
Updated March 17, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Editor's note: Important voices are calling out the ominous implications of a Trump presidency from a range of viewpoints. And challenging people to confront what that means, and to resist.
Voices of Conscience posted on this page
(click to read or watch):
In his article "No President who ever owned human beings should be honored" on March 15, Shaun King wrote in the New York Daily News that Adolf Hitler "is a monster who should never be honored," and continued:
Just as this is true for Hitler, it is true for any American President who ever owned human beings and forced them into a life of slavery. The Holocaust and slavery are each an unjust disgrace.
King details the monstrous horrors of slavery and then calls out Trump:
Today, Donald Trump is going out of his way to honor President Andrew Jackson. He should never be honored. Over his lifetime his family owned at least 300 human beings. This is terrible and no contribution he made in his life will ever outweigh this fact. To this very day, Andrew Jackson's own estate openly admits that the key source of his wealth came from owning human beings and forcing them to work on his plantation. At the time Jackson died, he owned about 150 people. He was a full-fledged unrepentant bigot. The enslaved Africans on his plantation were often whipped and beaten. If they escaped, fugitive squads searched for them and returned them back to the plantation. One advertisement put out by Jackson for a runaway slave offered $10 for every 100 lashes given to the slave who was caught. Is that not sick to you?
This makes Andrew Jackson a monster. Nothing he did as President of the United States is good enough to look past this.
The same holds true for every single American President who owned human beings.
Read the whole article here
Michael Bennett, who plays for the Seattle Seahawks, who participated in the pro football players’ national anthem protest, and who refused to be a shill for Israel against the Palestinian people (see “Pro Football Player Michael Bennett Refuses to Be a Shill for Israel” Revolution, February 14, 2017, revcom.us), had his statement in support of the women’s strike on International Women’s Day read by Dave Zirin on his podcast.
Here are some excerpts from Bennett’s statement:
“As a Black man in America sometimes I get overwhelmed and discouraged by what I see, from the police killings of unarmed Black men to the unequal educational system to mass incarceration, but when I look into my daughter’s eyes, I see the courage of Harriet Tubman, the patience of Rosa Parks, the soul of Ida B. Wells, the passion of Fanny Lou Hamer, and the heart of Angela Davis. I see the future. I see hope. And, I’m inspired because it will be women who lead the future. So, I’m writing this to express my unconditional solidarity for the women’s strike on International Women’s Day, March 8th.”
“It’s about the women across the Earth who are suffering. Women not so worried about the glass ceiling because they are trying to survive a collapsing floor. It’s about women of color across the Earth who live on less than one dollar a day. It’s about all women who are subject to sexual assault and violence.
“I stand with the women’s strike because I agree with their unity statement that reads that this day is ‘organized by and for women who have been marginalized and silenced by decades of neoliberalism directed towards working women, women of color, Native women, disabled women, immigrant women, Muslim women, and lesbian women.’”
“I encourage my fellow football players to take off their helmets and stand with these brave women across the world.”
“We need change, and to quote Frederick Douglass, ‘Without struggle, there is no progress.’”
(The statement is 35 minutes into the podcast at https://www.thenation.com/article/the-edge-of-sports-podcast-the-enduring-legacy-of-hoop-dreams/)
As of March 1, more than 230 former ABC News correspondents, executives and producers have signed a letter urging the network’s top executive to take a firm stand against any Trump administration effort to curtail press access. The letter was written after White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer held a briefing on February 24 and, in an unprecedented move, excluded several news organizations that have done stories Trump didn’t like.
The letter called the February 24 incident “an alarming new development enacted by an administration that has declared war on respected news outlets” and asked James Goldston, president of ABC News, to “take a public stand” and “Refuse to take part in any future White House briefings based on an invitation list of who’s in/who’s out.” The letter noted that there has been strong public protest by Dean Baquet, executive editor of the New York Times, and statements by the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg that they would not participate in future briefing where reporters are barred.
Signees include former White House correspondent Sam Donaldson; former ABC reporters Ken Kashiwahara, Jeanne Meserve and Lynn Sherr; four former executives and four former executive producers of “World News Tonight” and top leaders at “Nightline,” “20/20″ and “Good Morning America.” Kayce Freed Jennings, the widow of the late anchor Peter Jennings, was also one of the signers.
ABC News is one of the media organizations Trump has labeled as the “enemy of the American people” and “fake news.” ABC was allowed into the Spicer briefing, while CNN, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Politico and BuzzFeed were denied access. Reporters from other organizations, including the Associated Press, USA Today and Time magazine, refused to attend the briefing in protest.
Tim Rogers is senior editor for Latin America at the cable and satellite TV channel Fusion. After Trump’s February 28 speech to Congress, Rogers wrote a piece titled “Calling Trump’s speech ‘presidential’ is the first step to normalizing fascism” (March 1, 2017) noting that “talking heads were quick to applaud Trump for acting ‘presidential.’” Rogers goes on to say:
But Trump’s speech to Congress was only presidential by fascist standards. What Trump laid out, in the methodical words penned by an ideologue behind the throne, was a frightening vision of a country under siege by foreign hordes that are trying to establish a “beachhead of terrorism” to convert the United States into a “sanctuary for extremists.”
Trump depicted a dark world in which the U.S. is fighting “a network of lawless savages” that it must “extinguish ...from our planet.”
Trump was talking about ISIS in that instance, but his fear-mongering over foreigners wasn’t limited to Islamic State fighters any more than the travel ban was limited to Muslims from seven countries. The narrative of barbarians at the gate was woven throughout Trump’s speech, which seemed to build on George W. Bush’s worldview of “You’re either with us, or against us.” But Trump’s view is even racist and alienating by W’s standards.
From his call to build a border wall as “a very effective weapon against drugs and crime,” to reiterating his appallingly cynical pledge to create a new Homeland Security Office to “serve American victims” of crimes committed by immigrants, Trump’s whole speech was to lay out a dichotomy of us versus them, or “America first” in Trumpspeak. ...
When the speech was over, Trump lackeys congratulated themselves on a “home run”—actually, make that a “grand slam.”
But even normally critical pundits said they thought Trump looked “presidential.”
That’s dangerous thinking. Calling Trump’s fear-mongering “presidential” is a first step to normalizing fascism. It’s granting acceptance to the dangerous fascists skulking behind the golden curtains of the Oval Office.
Anderson Cooper 360° ✔ @AC360: Van Jones: Trump “became President of the United States” when he honored the widow of the Navy SEAL killed in Yemen. ...
In an America where Trump’s speech can be called “presidential,” it’ll be a slippery slope to despotism.
Read Tim Roger’s article in its entirety here.
“American citizens had their introduction to the Trump-era immigration machine Wednesday...” So begins “Papers, Please,” an article that appeared in The Atlantic online on February 27, about the February 22 domestic flight from SFO to JFK airport where every passenger was told by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents to show their ID before they could get off the plane. The agents claimed they were looking for a passenger who was undocumented and had a criminal record; it turned out that the person they sought was not on the plane.
In the article, written by Garrett Epps, legal scholar, novelist, and contributing editor to The Atlantic, he examines all possible legal authorities and concludes that there is no justification in U.S. law for what was done to the passengers on that plane. And then Epps, demonstrating the courage of his convictions, writes:
“I am vowing, here and now, not to show papers in this situation. I know that it will take gumption to follow through if the situation arises. What will be the reaction of ordinary travelers, some with outstanding warrants or other legal worries? Should we expect heroism of people who just want to get off an airplane?”
Mem Fox, an award winning author from Australia, was pulled off an airplane when she arrived at Los Angeles International Airport and held in detention for almost two hours and interrogated for 15 minutes. In an op-ed article in The Guardian, she tells of her terrifying, belligerent, and violent experience.
She describes the room “like a waiting room in a hospital but a bit more grim than that.... There was no water, no toilet... Everything was yelled...” She said that she “heard things happening in that room happening to other people that made me ashamed to be human.”
She describes an elderly Iranian woman in a wheelchair where they were yelling at her at the top of their voices—“Arabic? Arabic?” They screamed at her “ARABIC?” She told them “Farsi.” A woman from Taiwan was being yelled at about how she made her money: Does it grow on trees? Does it fall from the sky?” Mem said, “...the agony I was surrounded by in that room was like a razor blade across my heart.”
When she was called to be interviewed, she was degraded, and called it “monstrous.” She told them that she writes books about exclusivity. She had one of her books in her bag and said, “I am all about inclusivity, humanity and the oneness of the humans of the world; it’s the theme of my life.” He yelled at her, “I can read!” She was standing the whole time and said, “The belligerence and violence of it was really terrifying. I had to hold the heel of my right hand to my heart to stop it beating so hard.”
Claudia Koonz is a historian of Nazi Germany and the author of Mothers in the Fatherland: Women, the Family and Nazi Politics, The Nazi Conscience, and other works. She was interviewed on The Michael Slate Show on KPFK Pacifica Radio on February 10. This is a transcript of the interview, slightly edited for length and clarity.
Michael Slate: In broad strokes, let’s talk about how fascism developed in Germany.
Claudia Koonz: OK. First of all, let’s remember that nobody ever heard of Hitler until the early 1930s. He was unemployed. The only steady job he ever had in his life was when he fought in World War I for four years. He was quite brave.
This was a splinter party. As late as 1928, ten years after the defeat in World War I, the Nazis got 2.6% of the vote. 1930, they got 18% of the vote. 1932 they were up to the high point ever, 37.4% of the vote. So, the Nazis were never voted into power. Hitler was appointed into power.
So the question is, how did this disreputable, fringe party of loudmouth, brawling Stormtroopers get from a tiny splinter party to the center in 1932, which put Hitler in position to get appointed as chancellor?
The singer John Legend has won ten Grammy Awards, one Golden Globe Award, and one Academy Award. He will be playing Frederick Douglass in the second season of the WGN series Underground. In a recent interview in the New York Times Magazine he was asked, “Has there been a piece of art that has affected you politically?” He replied:
Books have certainly affected me. In college, I took a class that centered on a book called “Obedience to Authority,” which was trying to explain why an ordinary German would be a worker at a concentration camp, or why anyone would be part of a system that is so evil and corrosive, and how they deal with authority and whatever cognitive dissonance they need to have to do something so inhumane. Then we read some James Joyce and Virginia Woolf; all those books in that class opened my eyes to the way human beings deal with authority and deal with how we become inhumane. I took those classes 20 years ago, but I’ve been thinking about that a lot when I think about how we’re reacting to Donald Trump right now.
The interviewer then asked, “How are you applying that thought process to contemporary times?” Legend said:
Yeah, are we just going to go about our lives and try to be normal? I’ve seen a tweet going around about how a lot of people say that they would have been part of the civil rights movement, so this is basically that chance, this moment of truth for our society. Are we going to just accept inhumanity, or are we going to resist?
Read the New York Times Magazine interview with John Legend here.
On February 21, Donald Trump issued a statement supposedly condemning anti-Semitic attacks on Jewish institutions. At his February 16 press conference, Trump had insulted and bullied a correspondent from an Orthodox Jewish news agency who asked if Trump could condemn the wave of threats against Jewish institutions. Trump cut him off, yelled “quiet!” and “sit down” and ranted that this was “a very insulting question.” Trump then declared himself “the least anti-Semitic person that you've ever seen in your entire life” while refusing the reporter’s request to condemn attacks on Jewish institutions. Days after this, on February 20, Jewish community centers in ten states were targeted with bomb threats and forced to evacuate. There were also 170 graves at an historic Jewish cemetery in Missouri desecrated in the last few days.
Immediately after Trump’s February 21st statement, the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect posted a response on Facebook. The Center takes inspiration from Anne Frank, a Jewish teenager hunted down and killed by the Nazis. Her Diary is a famous chronicle of hiding out from the Nazis. The center “calls out prejudice, counters discrimination and advocates for the kinder and fairer world of which Anne Frank dreamed.”
The statement said in part:
The President’s sudden acknowledgement is a Band-Aid on the cancer of Antisemitism that has infected his own Administration. His statement today is a pathetic asterisk of condescension after weeks in which he and his staff have committed grotesque acts and omissions reflecting Antisemitism, yet day after day have refused to apologize and correct the record. Make no mistake: The Antisemitism coming out of this Administration is the worst we have ever seen from any Administration. The White House repeatedly refused to mention Jews in its Holocaust remembrance, and had the audacity to take offense when the world pointed out the ramifications of Holocaust denial. And it was only yesterday, President’s Day, that Jewish Community Centers across the nation received bomb threats, and the President said absolutely nothing.
Members of Berkeley Law (University of California, Berkeley School of Law) are taking a public stand against Trump’s executive orders intensifying repression against immigrants and on the U.S.-Mexico border through a #NoBanNoWall photo project. Close-up photos of faculty and staff members show them with handwritten or printed signs.
Their statement reads:
President Trump’s immigration executive orders, enforcement actions, and xenophobic threats directly impact members of our law school community.
They undermine the public mission of our university to ensure access to the talented pool of students and researchers that reflects the diversity in the State of California and the world.
They attack the ability of the university to fulfill its unique role as a site for the generation of knowledge and the free exchange of ideas among students, faculty, and staff of all nationalities, backgrounds, and creeds.
They threaten our values of diversity and inclusion, which ensure a vibrant democracy.
We oppose the executive orders and President Trump’s attacks on certain communities.
We are committed to maintaining the law school as a just and inclusive community.
The PDF of the poster is available here.
When you go to the website, Hands Off Our Revolution, the first thing you see is the flashing words: HANDS OFF OUR BORDERS... WATER... AIR... LAND... CITIES... HOMES... PLANET... BODIES... HEALTH... JUSTICE... FRIENDS... FAMILIES... LOVES.... LIVES...
More than 200 artists, writers, photographers, musicians and curators from around the world—including well-known figures such as Anish Kapoor, Steve McQueen, Laurie Anderson, Ed Ruscha, Matthew Barney, Rosalind Krauss, Maya Lin, Hank Willis Thomas, Catherine Opie, Yinka Shonibare, David Byrne, and Michael Stipe—have joined this spirit of resistance, signing the following Mission Statement:
We are a global coalition affirming the radical nature of art. We believe that art can help counter the rising rhetoric of right-wing populism, fascism and the increasingly stark expressions of xenophobia, racism, sexism, homophobia and unapologetic intolerance.
We know that freedom is never granted—it is won. Justice is never given—it is exacted. Both must be fought for and protected, yet their promise has seldom been so fragile, so close to slipping from our grasp, as at this moment.
As artists, it is our job and our duty to reimagine and reinvent social relations threatened by right-wing populist rule. It is our responsibility to stand together in solidarity. We will not go quietly. It is our role and our opportunity, using our own particular forms, private and public spaces, to engage people in thinking together and debating ideas, with clarity, openness and resilience.
The website also announces a project to do a “series of contemporary art exhibitions and actions that confront, head on, the rise of right-wing populism in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere... to help envision and shape the world in which we want to live.”
The Mission Statement in 10 different languages and the full description of the project are online at handsoffourrevolution.com.
Bennett, who plays in the NFL (National Football League) for the Seattle Seahawks, announced he will not be joining an NFL delegation to Israel.
Bennett has been involved in the struggle by professional athletes to protest police brutality. He took up the protest in the NFL started by San Francisco 49er Colin Kaepernick, who refused to stand for the national anthem. Bennett called for white athletes to take a stand against police murders, saying “You need a white guy to join the fight. The white guy is super important to the fight. For people to really see social injustices, there must be someone from the other side of the race who recognizes the problem, because a lot of times if just one race says there’s a problem, nobody is realistic about it.” Bennett has also posted photos and quotes from Black Panther leader Fred Hampton on his Instagram page.
Bennett had originally planned to be on the delegation because he wanted to have interaction with both Palestinian and Israeli people. But he learned from an article in the Times of Israel that the trip would isolate him from the Palestinian people and turn him into a “goodwill ambassador.” Then he read an open letter in The Nation magazine, signed by John Carlos, Danny Glover, Harry Belafonte, Alice Walker, and others calling on the athletes to ”reconsider taking this trip to ensure you are standing on the right side of history.”
Bennett then wrote an open letter that he posted on Instagram and Twitter.
Actor Meryl Streep received the National Ally for Equality Award at a fundraising gala held by the Human Rights Campaign, a national LGBTQ civil rights organization, on Saturday night, February 11. In her acceptance speech, Streep said:
[F]undamentalists, of every stripe everywhere, are exercised and fuming. We should not be surprised that these profound changes come at a steeper cost than we originally thought. We should not be surprised that not everyone is totally down with it.
If we live through this precarious moment, if his catastrophic instinct to retaliate doesn’t lead us to nuclear winter, we will have much to thank this president for. He will have woken us up to how fragile freedom is....
I am the most overrated, overdecorated and, currently, over-berated actress, who likes football, of my generation. But that is why you invited me here! Right?
The weight of all these honors is part of what brings me to this podium. It compels me, against every one of my natural instincts (which is to stay home), it compels me to stand up in front of people and say words that haven’t been written for me, but that come from my life and my conviction and that I have to stand by....
It’s terrifying to put the target on your forehead. ... And it sets you up for all sorts of attacks and armies of brownshirts and bots and worse, and the only way you can do it is if you feel you have to. You have to. You don't have an option, but you have to stand up and speak up and act up.
Hear Meryl Streep’s whole speech here.
The Grammy Awards on Sunday night, February 12, closed with an electrifying set by the legendary hip-hop crew A Tribe Called Quest joined by Busta Rhymes, Anderson .Paak, and Consequence. At mid-point in the Tribe’s medley of several songs, Busta Rhymes came—on and focused right on the outrages being carried out by Trump and his regime: “I’m not feeling the political climate right now. I just want to thank President Agent Orange for perpetuating all of the evil that you’ve been perpetuating throughout the United States. I want to thank President Agent Orange for your unsuccessful attempt at the Muslim ban. When we come together—we the people, we the people, people!” As he said those words, Tribe member Q-Tip, along with a woman wearing a hijab and others, bust through a wall on the stage.
Q-Tip then launched into the Tribe song “We the People.” And as he went into the hook, which sarcastically hits at those who spew hate and intolerance—“All you Black folks you must go/All you Mexicans you must go/And all you poor folks, you must go/Muslims and gays, boy, we hate your ways/So all you bad folks, you must go”—a diverse grouping of people of different nationalities, genders, and style of clothing walked up on to the stage. The performers all lined up at one point with fists in the air, and protest signs reading “No Wall No Ban” and photos of different faces were projected in the background.
The powerful performance, inspiring performance closed with the chants from the stage: “Resist! Resist! Resist!”
On Tuesday, February 7, on CNBC’s Halftime Report, Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank called Trump “a real asset for the country” and lauded his plans to “make bold decisions and be really decisive.” The next day, ballerina Misty Copeland, actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and NBA star Steph Curry, who all have endorsement deals with the athletic clothing company, spoke out against Plank.
Copeland wrote in an Instagram post, “I strongly disagree with Kevin Plank’s recent comments in support of Trump.” In a Facebook post, Johnson said Plank’s comments were “neither my words, nor my beliefs” and said that he would ultimately “stand with this diverse team, the American and global workers, who are the beating heart and soul of Under Armour.” Curry told the San Jose Mercury News that he agreed with Plank’s comment on Trump... “if you remove the ‘et’” from the word “asset.” When asked if he would abandon Under Armour, Curry said that if “the leadership is not in line with my core values, then there is no amount of money, there is no platform I wouldn’t jump off if it wasn’t in line with who I am.” Curry went on to say, “So that’s a decision I will make every single day when I wake up. If something is not in line with what I’m about, then, yeah, I definitely need to take a stance in that respect.”
George Prochnik wrote the book The Impossible Exile: Stefan Zweig at the End of the World (2015). Zweig was an Austrian novelist, playwright, journalist, and biographer who at the height of his literary career in the 1920s and ’30s, was one of the world’s most popular writers and most widely translated living author. Zweig was a Jewish intellectual and his books were burned in Berlin in 1933. Like millions of others, with the rise of Hitler, he was driven into exile. Zweig went to London, New York, and then to Brazil where he committed suicide in 1942. Prochnik wrote a piece in the February 6 issue of The New Yorker, “When It’s Too Late To Stop Fascism, According to Stefan Zweig.” Prochnik says when Zweig sat down to write his biography, “He was determined to trace how the Nazis’ reign of terror had become possible, and how he and so many others had been blind to its beginnings.” Zweig wrote: “the big democratic newspapers, instead of warning their readers, reassured them day by day, that the [fascist] movement ... would inevitably collapse in no time” and that Hitler had “elevated lying to a matter of course.”
Reading in Zweig’s memoir how, during the years of Hitler’s rise to power, many well-meaning people “could not or did not wish to perceive that a new technique of conscious cynical amorality was at work,” it’s difficult not to think of our own present predicament. Last week, as Trump signed a drastic immigration ban that led to an outcry across the country and the world, then sought to mitigate those protests by small palliative measures and denials, I thought of one other crucial technique that Zweig identified in Hitler and his ministers: they introduced their most extreme measures gradually—strategically—in order to gauge how each new outrage was received. “Only a single pill at a time and then a moment of waiting to observe the effect of its strength, to see whether the world conscience would still digest the dose,” Zweig wrote. “The doses became progressively stronger until all Europe finally perished from them.”...
In Zweig’s view, the final toxin needed to precipitate German catastrophe came in February of 1933, with the burning of the national parliament building in Berlin—an arson attack Hitler blamed on the communists but which some historians still believe was carried out by the Nazis themselves. “At one blow all of justice in Germany was smashed,” Zweig recalled. The destruction of a symbolic edifice—a blaze that caused no loss of life—became the pretext for the government to begin terrorizing its own civilian population. That fateful conflagration took place less than 30 days after Hitler became chancellor. The excruciating power of Zweig’s memoir lies in the pain of looking back and seeing that there was a small window in which it was possible to act, and then discovering how suddenly and irrevocably that window can be slammed shut.
To read the whole article, go here.
In a February 8 paid ad in the Staten Island Advance newspaper, 33 professors at Wagner College, a liberal arts college in New York City, denounced Trump’s executive orders and other actions. The statement is in the form of an open letter to Representative Dan Donovan, a Republican congressman from a district on Staten Island, who supported Trump’s executive order banning refugees and immigrants from seven majority-Muslim countries saying it was “in America’s best interest.” The Wagner professors’ statement said they “first and foremost” condemn that ban, saying that “this order creates religious discrimination and does so intentionally.”
The professors also condemned Trump’s removal of any mention of climate change and LGBTQ rights from the White House website, Trump’s attacks on the press and fact-based journalism, and his continued profit-making from his global holdings. They ended their statement with: “We believe the above actions, among others, taken by the Trump Administration are a threat to our democracy, our economy, our American values, our international alliances, and the ideals of citizenship and respect for knowledge and diversity that we strive to foster in our students.”
Read the statement and list of signatories (PDF) here.
From a reader:
This week GQ published an article by Jay Willis, “Gregg Popovich and Steve Kerr Would Make a Great Presidential Ticket” where “these two have no time for the ‘stick to sports’ bullshit.” Kerr and Popovich, both who are white, have been close friends since Kerr played for the San Antonio Spurs, coached by Popovich. Kerr coaches the Golden State Warriors in the San Francisco Bay Area.
When Popovich was asked about Black History Month he said,
“But more than anything, I think if people take the time to think about it, I think it is our national sin. It always intrigues me when people come out with, ‘I’m tired of talking about that or do we have to talk about race again?’ And the answer is you’re damned right we do. Because it’s always there, and it’s systemic in the sense that when you talk about opportunity it’s not about ‘Well, if you lace up your shoes and you work hard, then you can have the American dream.’ That’s a bunch of hogwash. If you were born white, you automatically have a monstrous advantage educationally, economically, culturally in this society and all the systemic roadblocks that exist, whether it’s in a judicial sense, a neighborhood sense with laws, zoning, education, we have huge problems in that regard that are very complicated, but take leadership, time, and real concern to try to solve. It’s a tough one because people don’t really want to face it.”
Kerr was born in Lebanon, where his father was president of the American University of Beirut. His father was murdered at the university by two men in 1984, and soon after an unknown Islamic group called the press to claim responsibility. Kerr weighed in on Trump’s Muslim Ban this past week when he said,
“As someone whose family member is a victim of terrorism, having lost my father—if we’re trying to combat terrorism by banishing people from coming to this country, we’re really going against the principles of what our country is about, and creating fear. It’s the wrong way to go about it. If anything, we could be breeding anger and terror, so I’m completely against what’s happening. I think it’s shocking. I think it’s a horrible idea and I feel for all the people who are affected, families are being torn apart.”
Kerr also had something to say about the liars in the Trump administration when he told reporters after a game with the Orlando Magic that “Sean Spicer will be talking about my Magic career any second now. 14,000 points. Greatest player in Magic history.” Kerr actually scored 5,437 points while playing in the NBA from 1988-2003.
In a February 3 article for the Advocate titled "Trump's Executive Orders: Divide and Conquer," Shawn Gaylord, advocacy counsel for Human Rights First focusing on LGBT issues, makes an important point about how Trump must not be allowed to pit different sections of the people against each other.
Gaylord writes, "I am sure I am not alone in reading through each statement and each executive order [from Trump] with a sense of foreboding as we watch community after community being targeted by a government that seems determined to roll back the progress of the last few decades." He notes that so far Trump's executive orders have not "specifically targeted people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity," though, as he points out, among the sections of the people targeted so far—women, refugees, immigrants, religious minorities, people of color—LGBT people are part of each.
Noting that there is one direct mention of "sexual orientation" is Trump's executive order banning immigrants and refugees from seven mainly Muslim countries, Gaylord writes:
A quick read might cause you to think it was actually a move to protect LGBT people. But on closer examination, you quickly realize that what is at play is something we dreaded all along. The protection of LGBT people is cited as a justification for a set of cruel and unnecessary new immigration policies that, no matter how carefully worded they might be, amount to a Muslim ban.
The "Purpose" section, which purports to explain what the executive order is designed to accomplish, notes, "The United States should not admit ... those who would oppress members of one race, one gender, or sexual orientation." It is not clear exactly how immigration authorities would know which individuals "would" take such actions, although I suspect they will turn to broad generalizations about religious groups. This language, like other sections of the order, seems clearly designed to target Muslims. We saw this coming and we cannot let it stand....
The Trump administration seems to be employing every tactic at its disposal, but one of the most egregious is this strategy of "divide and conquer." By appealing to the shared desire that LGBT people might live their lives free from violence, the Trump administration is hoping we will turn that desire into fear and hatred of another marginalized community. He did it after Orlando, he did it with this executive order, and I would call on the entire LGBT community to stand up and say "not in our name."
Read Shawn Gaylord's article at the Advocate web site.
When Trump signed the executive order banning Muslims from seven countries from entering the U.S., one of the people affected was a first-year internal medicine student at the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic hospital, Dr. Suha Abushamma. Even though she has a legal visa and documents allowing her to legally study and work in the United States, she was not allowed to re-enter the country because she has a passport from Sudan—one of the seven banned countries—and was forcibly diverted to Saudi Arabia.
Her colleagues at the Cleveland Clinic, along with more than 1,400 other medical students, doctors, and other medical staff have issued an open letter criticizing the heads of the hospital for not taking a stand against Trump's Muslim ban. The letter points out that far from condemning Trump's actions, "the Cleveland Clinic silently continues to promote ties with the Trump administration." In fact, an upcoming Cleveland Clinic fundraiser—with tickets costing upwards of $100,000—is scheduled to be held at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.
The open letter says:
Through this action you are supporting a president who has, in his first ten days in office, reinstated the global gag rule, weakened the Affordable Care Act, fast-tracked construction of both the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines through legally protected native lands, and banned legal U.S. residents from majority-Muslim countries. All of these actions directly harm human health and well-being in the United States and abroad. Your willingness to hold your fundraiser at a Trump resort is an unconscionable prioritization of profit over people. It is impossible for the Cleveland Clinic to reconcile supporting its employees and patients while simultaneously financially and publicly aiding an individual who directly harms them.
The open letter and list of signatories is available here
After Trump announced the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court seat that has been empty since Antonio Scalia died last year (see “Trump Picks ‘Scalia Clone’ to Replace Scalia on the Supreme Court“), the pro-choice group NARAL issued a statement saying in part:
...President Trump’s decision to speed up the announcement of his Supreme Court nominee will not distract from the hundreds of thousands of Americans demonstrating in the streets and at airports. After Trump’s disastrous first week on the job—from his global gag rule to his travel ban on Muslims—we cannot afford to elevate his destructive agenda with a lifetime appointment to our nation’s highest court.
With Judge Neil Gorsuch, the stakes couldn’t be higher when it comes to women and our lives. Gorsuch represents an existential threat to legal abortion in the United States and must never wear the robes of a Supreme Court justice.
With a clear track record of supporting an agenda that undermines abortion access and endangers women, there is no doubt that Gorsuch is a direct threat to Roe v. Wade and the promise it holds for women’s equality. The fact that the court has repeatedly reaffirmed Roe over the past four decades would no longer matter, just as facts often don’t seem to matter to President Trump. Confirming Gorsuch to a lifetime on the Supreme Court would make good on Trump’s repeated promises to use his appointments to overturn Roe v. Wade and punish women.
NARAL and our 1.2 million member-activists call on the Senate to reject Trump’s nominee using any and all available means, including the filibuster.
The complete statement from NARAL on Trump’s nomination of Gorsuch is online here.
At the Screen Actors Guild award on January 29, Emma Stone won the award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role for her work in the film La La Land. In her acceptance speech she said:
We’re in a really tricky time in the world and our country and things are very inexcusable and scary and need action and I’m so grateful to be part of a group of people that cares and that wants to reflect things back to society.
Later in an interview backstage, she said:
We have to speak up against injustice, and we have to kick some ass.... I was thinking about art this year, and that in a time like this, for so many, horrific things are happening. It’s so special to be a part of people who want to reflect what’s happening back to the world and to make people happy. I would hope that people would fight for what’s right and what’s just fucking human....
I think if we’re human beings, and we see injustice, we have to speak up, because staying silent, as they say, only really helps the oppressor. It never helps the victim. So I think that, yes, right now, I would hope that everyone, when seeing things being done that are absolutely unconstitutional and inhumane, would say something, anything. Whether it’s at school or at an awards show or work, offices, or online.
Saira Rafiee, an Iranian Ph.D. student in political science at the CUNY (City University of New York) Graduate Center, was traveling back to the U.S. from Iran when Trump issued the executive order banning people from seven majority Muslim countries, including Iran, from entering the U.S. Rafiee, an Iranian citizen, was visiting family and was on her way back to New York, with legal documents, to resume her work and studies at CUNY.
Saira Rafiee wrote on Facebook about what happened:
I got on the flight to Abu Dhabi, but there at the airport was told that I would not be able to enter the U.S. I had to stay there for nearly 18 hours, along with 11 other Iranians, before getting on the flight back to Tehran. I have no clue whether I would ever be able to go back to the school I like so much, or to see my dear friends there. But my story isn’t as painful and terrifying as many other stories I have heard these days
The sufferings of all of us are just one side of this horrendous order. The other side is the struggle against racism and fascism, against assaults on freedom and human dignity, against all the values that even though are far from being realized, are the only things that would make life worth living. As a student of sociology and political science, I have devoted a major part of my scholarly life to the study of authoritarianism. The media has published enough statistics during the past few days to show how irrelevant this order is to the fight against terrorism. It is time to call things by their true names; this is Islamophobia, racism, fascism. We, the 99% of the world, need to stand united in resisting the authoritarian forces all over the world.
Ben Cohen is the founder and editor of The Daily Banter (thedailybanter.com). Originally from London and now living in Washington, DC, he has written for the Huffington Post and ESPN.com. His January 27 article, “Trump's Weekly List of Crimes Committed by Immigrants is Straight Up Fascism,” says in part:
Adding to his list of executive orders and policy proposals designed to roll back civil liberties, wreck the environment and insult foreign nations, the Trump administration is also mandating that Homeland Security “make public a comprehensive list of criminal actions committed by aliens.” This was included in Trump's new executive order on immigration, and according to the Independent, "Will also include details of so-called ‘sanctuary cities’ that refuse to hand over immigrant residents for deportation"...
Make no mistake about it, this is straight up fascism... nothing more than a nasty scare tactic designed to instill fear in white Americans and create a new way of dividing the country along ethnic identity lines. We have seen this over and over again throughout history. Fascist dictators rise to power through the scapegoating of immigrants and minorities, then hold onto office by continuing the tactic. The Trump administration clearly believes it is a winning formula and Trump has made so called "illegals" the focal point of his first few days in office. From insisting that he only lost the popular vote due to (completely non-existent) widespread voter fraud to his executive order to build a wall stopping Mexicans from entering the country, Trump is betting big on white fear keeping him in office. The weekly list of immigrant crime is appalling and will simply fan the flames of xenophobia and hate....
Read Cohen’s article here.
On January 28, singer Rihanna tweeted:
Disgusted! The news is devastating! America is being ruined right before our eyes! What an immoral pig you have to be to implement such BS!!
As of January 30, there have been 175,000 re-tweets of this Rihanna tweet.
On Sunday night, January 29, the Netflix series Stranger Things won the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble. A capsule description of the series says: “In a small Indiana town in the early 1980s, a boy goes missing after finding something sinister lurking in the woods. Nearby, a girl with extraordinary powers escapes from a sinister government facility and joins together with the boy’s friends to get him back.” At the televised SAG award show, David Harbour, who plays Chief Hopper in the series, stepped up to the mic to accept the award on behalf of the cast. After making a number of acknowledgements he turned to current events. He called on his fellow actors to:
Go deeper and through our art battle against fear, self-centeredness, and exclusivity of our predominantly narcissistic culture.... As we act in the continuing narrative of Stranger Things, we 1983 Midwesterners will repel bullies. We will shelter freaks and outcasts, those who have no hope. We will get past the lies. We will hunt monsters! And when we are at a loss amidst the hypocrisy and the casual violence of certain individuals and institutions, we will, as per Chief Hopper, punch some people in the face when they seek to destroy the weak and the disenfranchised and the marginalized! And we will do it all with soul, with heart, and with joy. We thank you for this responsibility.
Three university science professors—Graham Coop, Professor of Evolution and Ecology, UC Davis; Michael B. Eisen, Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology, UC Berkeley; Molly Przeworski, Professor of Biological Sciences, Columbia University—have issued a statement in support of scientists within the government who are under attack.
Their message is as follows:
Governmental scientists employed at a subset of agencies have been forbidden from presenting their findings to the public. We have drafted the following response for distribution, and encourage other scientists to post it to their websites, when feasible.
In Defense of Science
We are deeply concerned by the Trump administration’s move to gag scientists working at various governmental agencies. The US government employs scientists working on medicine, public health, agriculture, energy, space, clean water and air, weather, the climate and many other important areas. Their job is to produce data to inform decisions by policymakers, businesses and individuals. We are all best served by allowing these scientists to discuss their findings openly and without the intrusion of politics. Any attack on their ability to do so is an attack on our ability to make informed decisions as individuals, as communities and as a nation.
If you are a government scientist who is blocked from discussing their work, we will share it on your behalf, publicly or with the appropriate recipients. You can email us at USScienceFacts@gmail.com.
Laurence Tribe, Professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard Law School and the Carl M. Loeb University Professor at Harvard University, sent out a series of tweets on January 28—as thousands of people protested at airports across the U.S. against the anti-Muslim order Trump signed the day before:
Vital to impeach and remove Trump before his cruel brand of bigotry and scapegoating seeps even more deeply into our national bloodstream.
Trump just said what he’s doing at the airports “is working out very nicely.” The man has no eyes, no brain, and no heart.
Trump must be impeached for abusing his power and shredding the Constitution more monstrously than any other President in American history.
The tragic scenes unfolding at JFK and other US airports expose Trump as a heartless merciless monster. He must be stopped.
Trump’s promise to prioritize Christian over Muslim refugees when the 90-day ban lifts violates the Religion Clauses of our First Amendment.
On January 25, Jewish Voices for Peace released the following statement in anticipation of Trump’s issuing of an executive order the next day targeting refugees and immigrants from mainly Muslim countries:
As the Trump administration follows through on the some of most harmful and alarming promises of his campaign, we will follow through on ours: to love, defend and fight alongside our friends, neighbors, and communities directly under attack.
Decades of racist, Islamophobic, and xenophobic policies and discourses around national security, the “War on Terror,” and immigration have laid the groundwork for this nightmare set of policies designed to target, profile, surveil and ban people due to their religion, race, national origin or legal status. These new policies will build on existing infrastructure, primarily impacting people who have fled from countries that the United States has bombed or invaded, as well as those whose local economies have been destroyed by our military operations and trade policies.
While the details of these new policies are still unfolding, we pledge to resist in every way that we can. We’ll put our hearts, souls, and bodies on the line to stop hateful and racist attacks. We will organize our communities to stand alongside our Muslim, immigrant & refugee neighbors, in the halls of Congress & government institutions, and in the streets.
We cannot let this stand.
“My heart breaks for the next generation with these fools in the white house. Asking us to give Trump a chance is like asking Jews to give Hitler a chance. I read that eight percent of blacks voted for him. That’s like a vote for slavery. I’m so proud of women for standing up at the Women’s Marches all over the country. In Washington it was so crowded that you couldn’t move. These women were telling Donald Trump ‘not on our watch’. Saying they won’t bow down or bend over and take the worse from him. Why take abortion and make us have children and then deny those kids healthcare?...
“Trump will not listen and only a fool would try to reason with him. He is beyond redemption.”
For the entire interview go here:
Philip Roth’s 2004 novel The Plot Against America imagines a scenario where there is a fascist takeover in America—through the ballot box. The aviation pioneer Charles Lindbergh—who in his day was one of the three or four biggest celebrities in the world and a Nazi sympathizer—sweeps the 1940 election in a landslide. Then, in steps both incremental and rapid, fascism comes in. At the time, Roth wrote in the New York Times Book Review that he did not intend to write this as a political roman à clef (a novel in which real people or events appear with invented names). He said he wanted to dramatize some “what-ifs” that never happened in America.
Now Roth is commenting about the current relevance of The Plot Against America. A piece titled “Philip Roth E-Mails On Trump” by Judith Thurman appears in the January 30 issue of The New Yorker. Thurman says Roth was asked via e-mail if the scenario in his book has now happened. Roth’s response, in part:
It isn’t Trump as a character, a human type—the real-estate type, the callow and callous killer capitalist—that outstrips the imagination. It is Trump as President of the United States.
I was born in 1933, the year that F.D.R. was inaugurated. He was President until I was twelve years old. I’ve been a Roosevelt Democrat ever since. I found much that was alarming about being a citizen during the tenures of Richard Nixon and George W. Bush. But, whatever I may have seen as their limitations of character or intellect, neither was anything like as humanly impoverished as Trump is: ignorant of government, of history, of science, of philosophy, of art, incapable of expressing or recognizing subtlety or nuance, destitute of all decency, and wielding a vocabulary of seventy-seven words that is better called Jerkish than English...
Unlike writers in Eastern Europe in the nineteen-seventies, American writers haven’t had their driver’s licenses confiscated and their children forbidden to matriculate in academic schools. Writers here don’t live enslaved in a totalitarian police state, and it would be unwise to act as if we did, unless—or until—there is a genuine assault on our rights and the country is drowning in Trump’s river of lies. In the meantime, I imagine writers will continue robustly to exploit the enormous American freedom that exists to write what they please, to speak out about the political situation, or to organize as they see fit...
My novel wasn’t written as a warning. I was just trying to imagine what it would have been like for a Jewish family like mine, in a Jewish community like Newark, had something even faintly like Nazi anti-Semitism befallen us in 1940, at the end of the most pointedly anti-Semitic decade in world history. I wanted to imagine how we would have fared, which meant I had first to invent an ominous American government that threatened us. As for how Trump threatens us, I would say that, like the anxious and fear-ridden families in my book, what is most terrifying is that he makes any and everything possible, including, of course, the nuclear catastrophe.
The New Yorker piece with quotes from Philip Roth is available online here.
Roger Cohen is an author and columnist for the New York Times. Before becoming a columnist for the Times, he worked as a foreign correspondent in 15 countries. In the January 24 edition of the Times, his column titled “The Banal Belligerence of Donald Trump” said in part:
I have tried to tread carefully with analogies between the Fascist ideologies of 1930s Europe and Trump. American democracy is resilient. But the first days of the Trump presidency—whose roots of course lie in far more than the American military debacles since 9/11—pushed me over the top. The president is playing with fire.
To say, as he did, that the elected representatives of American democracy are worthless and that the people are everything is to lay the foundations of totalitarianism. It is to say that democratic institutions are irrelevant and all that counts is the great leader and the masses he arouses. To speak of “carnage” is to deploy the dangerous lexicon of blood, soil and nation. To boast of “a historic movement, the likes of which the world has never seen before” is to demonstrate consuming megalomania. To declaim “America first” and again, “America first,” is to recall the darkest clarion calls of nationalist dictators. To exalt protectionism is to risk a return to a world of barriers and confrontation. To utter falsehood after falsehood, directly or through a spokesman, is to foster the disorientation that makes crowds susceptible to the delusions of strongmen.
Trump’s outrageous claims have a purpose: to destroy rational thought. When Primo Levi arrived at Auschwitz he reached, in his thirst, for an icicle outside his window but a guard snatched it away. “Warum?” Levi asked (why?). To which the guard responded, “Hier ist kein warum” (here there is no why).
As the great historian Fritz Stern observed, “This denial of ‘why’ was the authentic expression of all totalitarianism, revealing its deepest meaning, a negation of Western civilization.”
Americans are going to have to fight for their civilization and the right to ask why against the banal belligerence of Trump.
Read the whole Cohen column here.
The poem, “I am a nasty woman” by 19-year-old Nina Donovan was performed by actress Ashley Judd at the Women’s March in Washington, DC on January 21. It starts:
I’m not nasty as a man who looks like he bathes in Cheetos dust.
A man whose words are a distract to America.
Electoral college-sanctioned, hate-speech contaminating this national anthem.
I’m not as nasty as Confederate flags being tattooed across my city.
Maybe the South actually is going to rise again.
Maybe for some it never really fell.
Blacks are still in shackles and graves, just for being black.
Slavery has been reinterpreted as the prison system in front of people who see melanin as animal skin.
I am not as nasty as a swastika painted on a pride flag, and I didn’t know devils could be resurrected but I feel Hitler in these streets.
A mustache traded for a toupee.
Nazis renamed the Cabinet Electoral Conversion Therapy, the new gas chambers shaming the gay out of America, turning rainbows into suicide.
I am not as nasty as racism, fraud, conflict of interest, homophobia, sexual assault, transphobia, white supremacy, misogyny, ignorance, white privilege ... your daughter being your favorite sex symbol, like your wet dreams infused with your own genes.
Yeah, I’m a nasty woman — a loud, vulgar, proud woman.
To listen to the whole poem performed by Ashley Judd go here:
The Sierra Club is the largest grassroots environmental organization in the U.S., with more than 2.7 million members and supporters. On the day of his inauguration, Trump released his energy plan (available on the White House website). In response, Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune released the following statement:
Minutes after he was sworn in, any illusion that Trump would act in the best interests of families in this country as President were wiped away by a statement of priorities that constitute an historic mistake on one of the key crises facing our planet and an assault on public health. What Trump has released is hardly a plan—it’s a polluter wishlist that will make our air and water dirtier, our climate and international relations more unstable, and our kids sicker. This is a shameful and dark start to Trump’s Presidency, and a slap in the face to any American who thought Trump might pursue the national interest.
Matthew Rothschild is the executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a nonprofit, nonpartisan political watchdog group. His January 21 article titled, “The fascist overtones in Trump’s inaugural address” starts underneath a photo of Benito Mussolini, leader of Italy's National Fascist Party from 1922 until 1943, and says in part:
It was hard to listen to Trump’s inaugural address without hearing some not-so-faint echoes of fascism.
The most obvious was his invocation of “America First” as the “new vision” that “will govern our land.” But it’s not a new vision or a new name. In fact, “America First” was the name of the isolationist and anti-Semitic organization in the 1930s that wanted to accommodate Nazi Germany.
But there were other echoes as well....
Like 20th century fascists, he extolled the nation’s “glorious destiny.” He saluted “the great men and women of our military and law enforcement.”
And then he invoked the divine will. “Most importantly,” he said, “we are protected by God.”
And let’s not forget that his campaign slogan and the coda to his inaugural address, “Make America great again,” itself strikes a fascist chord: nostalgia for national greatness, mixed with grievances (that can lead to scapegoating) about who is to blame for the loss of such greatness.
If you were looking for Trump to take the high ground in his inaugural address and call on “the better angels of ourselves,” you were kidding yourself.
That is not who he is. He is Trumpolini.
To read the whole article go here
Vanity cards have become a trademark for Chuck Lorre Productions. At the end of every episode of shows Lorre produces there are different messages that read somewhat like a comment or observation on life or what’s going on in society. This was done with shows Lorre produced like Dharma & Greg and Two and a Half Men. And these vanity cards appear at the end of The Big Bang Theory—the #1 comedy on TV for many seasons. On the eve of Donald Trump’s inauguration, the message that flashed across at the end of The Big Bang was the lyrics to George Harrison’s song, “Beware of Darkness”:
Watch out now, take care,
Beware of greedy leaders
They’ll take you where you should not go
While Weeping Atlas Cedars
They just want to grow, grow and grow
Beware of darkness
Then another quote, this one from Monty Python:
Run away! Run Away!
Roger Waters, English singer, songwriter, bassist, and composer, is the co-founder of the rock band Pink Floyd—internationally known for albums like The Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall. On January 20, the day of Trump’s inauguration, Waters posted a video for his Trump-slamming performance of “Pigs (Three Different Ones)” in Mexico City last October. A message also went up on his Facebook: “The resistance begins today.”
The performance took place in Zόcalo Square before 300,000 fans. During the song, the huge screens flash graphics of ugly Trump faces with text like “Charade” and “Gotta stem the evil tide.” There is an image of Trump doing a Hitler Nazi salute and the KKK. At the end, disgusting quotes from Trump are seen on the screen. The final text: “Trump eres un pendejo” (Trump, you’re an asshole).”
Some of the lyrics to “Pigs (Three Different Ones)”:
Big man, pig man, ha ha charade you are
You well heeled big wheel, ha ha charade you are
And when your hand is on your heart
You’re nearly a good laugh
Almost a joker
With your head down in the pig bin
Saying “Keep on digging.”
Pig stain on your fat chin
What do you hope to find
When you’re down in the pig mine
You’re nearly a laugh
You’re nearly a laugh
But you’re really a cry
At his January 11 press conference, Trump refused to take a question from CNN reporter Jim Acosta, saying, “You are fake news.” Angelo Carusone from Media Matters posted a petition, “Tell the White House Press Corps: Stand up to Trump’s blacklist,” to be delivered to the White House Correspondents’ Association, which says:
If Trump blacklists or bans one of you, the rest of you need to stand up. Instead of ignoring Trump’s bad behavior and going about your business, close ranks and stand up for journalism. Don’t keep talking about what Trump wants to talk about. Stand up and fight back. Amplify your colleague’s inquiry or refuse to engage until he removes that person/outlet from the blacklist.
The goal is to get 300,000 signatures. As of January 22, nearly 290,200 people had signed. The petition includes a background that says in part:
Trump has a history of doing this—and worse.
He has literally banned the Des Moines Register from covering his events. He banned Univsion from attending his events. He revoked The Washington Post’s credentials for a period in retaliation for a headline that he didn’t like. He revoked Politico’s credentials for a while to punish them for an article he didn’t like. BuzzFeed—which Trump called “a pathetic pile of garbage” during the press conference—has been on a blacklist since June of 2015. The Daily Beast is on the blacklist and is almost always denied credentials as a result. This list isn’t exhaustive, either.
But journalists covering Trump don’t learn. Time and time again, as one outlet after another is frozen out, reporters continue to go about their interactions with Trump and his people as if nothing is wrong.
Enough is enough. Some principles are more important than competition among news outlets....
To read the petition and full background go here.
Citizen Therapists for Democracy, an association of psychotherapists, states that their mission is to: “Learn and spread transformative ways to practice therapy with a public dimension; Rebuild democratic capacity in communities; and Resist anti-democratic ideologies and practices.” The website of Citizen Therapists for Democracy contains “A Public Manifesto” from Citizen Therapists Against Trumpism. It has been signed by 3,500 people and says in part:
As psychotherapists practicing in the United States, we are alarmed by the rise of the ideology of Trumpism, which we see as a threat to the well-being of the people we care for and to American democracy itself. We cannot remain silent as we witness the rise of an American form of fascism. We can leverage this time of crisis to deepen our commitment to American democracy....
Why speak collectively? Our responses thus far have been primarily personal—and too often confined to arm-chair diagnoses of Donald Trump. But a collective crisis faces our nation, a harkening back to the economic depression and demoralization of the 1930s (which fed European fascism) and the upheaval over Jim Crow and Black civil rights in the 1950s.... As therapists, we have been entrusted by society with collective responsibility in the arena of mental, behavioral, and relational health. When there is a public threat to our domain of responsibility we must speak out together, not just to protest but to deepen our commitment to a just society and a democratic way of life. This means being citizen therapists who are concerned with community well-being as much as personal well-being, since the two are inextricably joined.
To read the whole statement go here.
United Nations, hardcore supergroup led by frontman for the band Thursday, Geoff Rickly, released a new song on January 20, the day of Trump’s inauguration. The song is called “Stairway to Mar-a-Lago”—Mar-a-Lago is Trump’s estate in Florida which he says will be his “winter White House.”
Some of the lyrics go:
From on your cross
Tell them who matters
Policing cities in ruin
It blows my mind
How these Nazis
Took the stage
And pandered to
Your deepest fears
Dead and cold
The Gipper must be
Rolling in his grave
Again and again
Never again is
The band Outernational released a new song and video on the morning of the Trump inauguration, titled “Decision.” Miles Solay of Outernational wrote, “I am writing to you from the USA on the morning that a fascist regime is being coronated. I will be in the streets of Washington, DC today and tomorrow. The regime of Donald Trump and Mike Pence is illegitimate because fascism is illegitimate. If ever there was a time in our lives to act as if the future depended on us, now would be that time. GET INVOLVED AND TAKE TO THE STREETS WHEREVER YOU ARE.”
The lyrics of “Decision” include:
You can’t say you hate this
While you’re waiting for the cure...
All the lies!
America was never great
Eat your apple pie and genocide
Of your life!
How will you live?
What will you decide?...
Listen and download audio here.
“There are people who say we ought to give you a chance. But there’s not a chance in hell that we’ll sit back and watch you try to turn back the clock and sigh and say, oh well.”
This is how “Not Gonna Say Your Name” starts—a new song released on January 16 by Los Angeles-based musician Guy Blakeslee (aka ENTRANCE). The song’s video features clips of anti-Trump protests that broke out in the days after the election.
Blakeslee says, “I really wanted to write a song expressing my own feelings about the election and the state of things in our country—like many I was in a state of mourning. I wondered, how can I sing about this without saying his name?” All proceeds from song purchases are going to Planned Parenthood. Blakeslee said: “I decided to use the song to benefit PP because one of the things that is so shocking about the election result is that it sends such a negative message to women and girls.... It’s the least I could do - for all of the women in the world, in my life, and especially for my mother - to fight back and make a clear statement that we will not accept this backwards agenda.” In a piece in TheTalkhouse, Blakeslee wrote:
When the result was called at the crack of dawn that November morning, I knew I had to come back home as soon as possible and join with my fellow Americans in resisting this imminent slide toward fascism, tyranny, intolerance, bigotry, sexism, xenophobia and unchecked capitalist pillaging.
In a psychological state quite similar to mourning, I was inspired and comforted watching from afar on social media as friends and family joined hundreds of thousands of others in the streets and wished I could be there with them to say NO to hatred and regression and YES to love and continued communal progress.
While in Amsterdam a few days later, the idea for this song (“Not Gonna Say Your Name” ) came to me; I was writing a lot of angry words and I was desperately trying to figure out how to say something positive, to make some kind of contribution and offer a different way of thinking about the situation instead of just complaining and fixating on this person that so many of us can’t help but despise.
To read the whole piece by Blakeslee go here
To watch the video of “Not Gonna Say Your Name” go here.
The Girl Scouts of America have come under severe criticism for its decision to have 75 Girl Scouts march in Trump’s inauguration parade. People are saying they should not participate—given Trump’s ugly comments about women and Pence’s extreme anti-abortion views. Jean Hannah Edelstein, a New York-born, London-based journalist and the author of Himglish and Femalese: Why Women Don’t Get Why Men Don’t Get Them, wrote in a January 18 opinion piece in the Guardian:
The news that the Girl Scouts are sending a contingent to participate in Donald Trump’s inauguration filled me with real rage. How can an organization that promises to build “girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place” send them to celebrate the ascent of a leader who would likely consider them fair game for sexual assault if they grow up to be “beautiful”?
...what would be emotionally and physically safe for a girl about watching the swearing-in of Mike Pence as Vice President, a man who’s sworn to overturn the laws that allow them to use the bathrooms where they feel safe? What of Muslim Girl Scouts, who’ve been told that their names will be put on a list, or undocumented girls, who are also welcome to join Girl Scouts? Should they march, or should only the girls who Donald Trump might one day rate “a 10” be encouraged to participate?
...Yes, it’s a tradition: they’ve marched at inauguration for decades. But does tradition justify collaboration with an administration that promises to oppress the young women it’s supposed to serve? As shown by John Lewis and the other members of Congress who are choosing to skip the inauguration, sometimes human rights are more important than protocol. The Girl Scouts is an organization that has stood up for the human rights of girls and women for many years. Why quit now?
Read this whole piece here.
New York Times columnist, Charles M. Blow’s piece on January 19, 2017 is titled, “Are You Not Alarmed?” and says:
I continue to be astonished that not enough Americans are sufficiently alarmed and abashed by the dangerous idiocies that continue to usher forth from the mouth of the man who will on Friday be inaugurated as president of the United States.
Toss ideology out of the window. This is about democracy and fascism, war and peace, life and death. I wish that I could write those words with the callous commercialism with which some will no doubt read them, as overheated rhetoric simply designed to stir agitation, provoke controversy and garner clicks. But alas, they are not. These words are the sincere dispatches of an observer, writer and citizen who continues to see worrisome signs of a slide toward the exceedingly unimaginable by a man who is utterly unprepared.
In a series of interviews and testimonies Donald Trump and his cronies have granted in the last several days, they have demonstrated repeatedly how destabilizing, unpredictable and indeed unhinged the incoming administration may be. Their comments underscore the degree to which this administration may not simply alter our democracy beyond recognition, but also potentially push us into armed conflict...
This is insanity. But too many Americans don’t want to see this threat for what it is. International affairs and the very real threat of escalating militarization and possibly even military conflict seems much harder to grasp than the latest inflammatory tweet.
Maybe people think this possibility is unthinkable. Maybe people are just hoping and praying that cooler heads will prevail. Maybe they think that Trump’s advisers will smarten him up and talk him down.
But where is your precedent for that? When has this man been cautious or considerate? This man with loose lips and tweeting thumbs may very well push us into another war, and not with a country like Afghanistan, but with a nuclear-armed country with something to prove.
Are you not alarmed?
To read the whole piece go here.
Green Day continues to call out Trump as a fascist. A video of the song “Troubled Times” from their latest album, Revolution Radio, was released on Monday, MLK Day. A statement from Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong said, "Today we celebrate love and compassion more than ever." The song/video doesn’t name Trump but the message is clear through the imagery. There’s a Trump-like figure with KKK teeth wearing a “Make America Great Again” cap—spewing hateful, racist garbage before crowds as Kluckers come out of the White House. Cops beating up Black people. But there are also images of resistance: People with signs saying “Stop racism, islamophobia, and war,” “No border wall,” and “Against racist hate.” Clips from the Civil Rights Movement and the the women’s suffrage battle. At the end, the stakes of the situation are underscored with a nuclear mushroom cloud.
This isn’t the first time Green Day has called out Trump. Shortly after the election, during their MTV and American Music Awards performances of the song “Bang Bang,” they added the chant: "No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA." Armstrong said, "It was a good start to challenge [Trump] on all of his ignorant policies and his racism."
The lyrics to "Troubled Times" are searing:
What good is love and peace on earth?
When it's exclusive?
Where's the truth in the written word?
If no one reads it
A new day dawning
Comes without warning
So don't blink twice
We live in troubled times
We live in troubled times
What part of history we learned
When it's repeated
Some things will never overcome
If we don't seek it
The world stops turning
So don't think twice
We live in troubled times
We live in troubled times
On MLK Day, Rapper T.I. (Tip Harris) sent out a series of tweets and videos addressed to Black celebrities and athletes who are meeting with Trump.
“Attn.!!!! Be clear.... There IS an agenda behind all these meetings. “There’s a strategic plan that people are trying to make you a part of.... Do not accept any invitation to have any meeting, no matter how positive you think the outcome may be.” “Given what’s going on between him & Congressman Lewis... All y’all looking CRAZY right now!!!! Be Aware, BE Alert, Or Be Bamboozled.”
One tweet has a photo of Malcolm X with a quote from him: “The first thing the (white racist) does when he comes in power, he takes all the Negro leaders and invites them for coffee. To show that he’s all right. And those Uncle Toms can’t pass up the coffee. They come away from the coffee table telling you and me that this man is all right.” T.I. writes: “Sound familiar? Malcolm knew it then.... Be Aware, Be Alert, or Be Bamboozled.”
One tweet addresses Trump: “Should it ever seem at times like we are against you, I assure it is a result of you defining yourself as the representative of those who are and who always have been against us... The deck has always been stacked against us in this country. With every generation there has been strategic steps to oppress, imprison, and control us.”
See T.I.’s tweets and videos here.
A small but determined group of protesters rallied in the cold Chicago rain on MLK Day, where Christian clergy, representatives from the Muslim community, and youth spoke along with other fighters in the movement to Stop Trump and Pence. After the rally the protest took off in two parallel marches down both sides of State Street, stopping on the corners to speak to people who were out on the cold, wet street. Protestors criss-crossed back and forth across State Street, blocking traffic briefly a number of times. Some people along the route joined in the march briefly, and others took up posters and/or bundles of the Call and were organized to organize others in the fight to stop the fascist Trump-Pence regime.
Speakers at the rally addressed the need and possibility of stopping the Trump-Pence regime from taking power and the recently released Justice Department report detailing years of abuse of Black and brown people by the Chicago police. They included Rev. Gregg Greer of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference; Rev.Pughsley; Salman Aftab from the American Muslim Task Force on Civil Rights and Elections; Raja Yaqub from the American Muslim Aliance; and a middle school student who spoke about the terror Pence will bring to the LGBTQ community with his promotion of electro-shock torture “conversion therapy.” The following statement from Michael Dietler, professor of anthropology at the University of Chicago was read.
This day, of all days, should raise awareness of the danger that Donald Trump poses to this country, and to the world. The contrast with Martin Luther King could not be stronger.
Today the nation honors a fearless champion of human rights and human dignity, a man of principle who dedicated his life to the service of others and was willing to be sacrificed in the struggle against injustice. We also honor all those heroes of the Civil Rights movement, those thousands of ordinary people who courageously put their bodies and their lives on the line to oppose the racist, oppressive, violent regimes that tried to deny people their rights.
In ironic contrast, this Friday, a new president will be sworn in who waged a disgraceful campaign of lies and deceit, of racist bigotry and hatred, of misogyny, fear, and ignorance. Donald Trump has no principles, no concern for anyone but himself. He has spent his life in the relentless pursuit of personal wealth and power, using any means available without regard to the consequences for others.
He is a liar, fraud, and a dangerous egomaniac who has already normalized racism, xenophobia, and misogyny and prepared a cabinet of robber barons ready to pillage the country. Now is the time for all good people of conscience to come together to oppose this destructive force, before it is too late. Let the voice of the people rise again in solidarity with the spirit of the Civil Rights movement: justice and equality for all! Stand up against racism, xenophobia, misogyny, and greed!
Ava DuVernay is an American director, screenwriter, film marketer, and film distributor. Her film Selma, which told the story of the campaign led by Dr. Martin Luther King for equal voting right and the famous march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965,was nominated for Best Picture at the 2014 Oscars. And DuVernay became first Black female director to be nominated for a Golden Globe Award.
DuVernay’s recent Netflix documentary 13th just picked up three Critics’ Choice Awards and is on the Oscar shortlist for best documentary. 13th, named for the constitutional amendment that abolished slavery with the exception of punishment for crime, digs deeply into and exposes the rise of mass incarceration in the USA. 13th includes a series of powerful clips that shows Donald Trump and footage from the Civil Right era—where Trump is talking about “the good old days.”
During the film’s press screening at the New York Film Festival in October, DuVernay talked about how she debated whether to include Trump, who at the time was the Republican presidential candidate, in the documentary. She said, “Take him out? Leave him in? No, he doesn’t deserve a place in this thing, and such. But you gotta show that stuff because it’s too important and it can’t be forgotten,”
13th is available to stream on Netflix.
At his January 11 press conference, Trump refused to take a question from CNN reporter Jim Acosta, saying, “You are fake news.” In an article in the Columbia Journalism Review titled “Trump berated a CNN reporter, and fellow journalists missed an opportunity” Pete Vernon says:
CNN Senior White House Correspondent Jim Acosta stood pleading with Trump to acknowledge his question, referencing earlier attacks made by Trump and his press secretary about the accuracy of a CNN report detailing Trump’s ties to Russia. “Mr. President-elect, since you have been attacking our news organization, can you give us a chance?” Acosta yelled above the scrum of reporters.
“No! Not you. No! Your organization is terrible,” the President-elect shot back. When Acosta persisted in shouting for recognition, Trump pointed a finger at him and said, “Don’t be rude. No, I’m not going to give you a question.”
Trump then turned to the next question, and the press conference proceeded from there. It was a striking moment not only for the direct confrontation between the two men, but also for the fact that it seemed to have no effect on other journalists in the room. No one immediately leapt to Acosta’s defense....
I wished those journalists in attendance had picked up Acosta’s line of questioning, or even refused to continue asking questions, until the President-elect acknowledged the organization he had earlier attacked....
Next Friday, the new administration begins. As a candidate, and now as the President-elect, Trump and his team have shown a willingness to retaliate, bully, and ban journalists whose questions he doesn’t want to answer. As an industry, we must be prepared for more moments like today’s, and we must be ready to respond accordingly.
Peter Vernon’s article is available online here.
A group of Christian theologians of various denominations delivered an open letter to the heads of the Senate Judiciary Committee to oppose the nomination of Jeff Sessions as U.S. Attorney General. The signatories include Peter Goodwin Heltzel, New York Theological Seminary; Jeannine Hill Fletcher, Fordham University; Gary Agee, Anderson University (Indiana); Cornel West, Harvard University; James Cone, Union Theological Seminary; Jim Wallis, Sojourner; and others.
The theologians’ letter says in part:
Vulnerable populations in our country—victims of police brutality, undocumented workers, LGBTQ persons, women, people of color, and people of non-Christian faiths—are placed at increased risk of further harm when our laws are not upheld. Yet, throughout his career, Senator Sessions has taken positions that compromise the rights of these vulnerable populations. His racist comments reflect prejudice against people of color. His opposition to immigration reform, LGBTQ rights, women’s rights and equal access for persons with disabilities make it unlikely that he shares the Christian vision of justice and protection of the vulnerable that we embrace.
The letter and signatories are available online here.
A moving and deeply thought-provoking PSA video produced by Katy Perry asks the question: is history repeating itself? The short video features actor Hina Khan, a Muslim of Pakistani heritage, and begins with the voice of 89-year-old Haru Kuromiya—recalling how, when she was a girl during World War 2, her family, along with about 120,000 other Japanese Americans, were first put on a registry and then forced by the U.S. government into concentration (internment) camps.
According to the LA Times, “Codirected by filmmakers Aya Tanimura and Tim Nackashi, the #DontNormalizeHate PSA landed the early support of director Spike Jonze and actor-activist George Takei. But it was Perry whom Tanimura credits for making the short possible.” The video has close to 300,000 views since it was posted on YouTube—it should be seen by millions. Watch it below:
Bruce Springsteen on Marc Maron’s WRTF podcast on January 2 (at the end) is asked what his biggest fear is about Trump and says:
That a lot of the worst things and the worst aspects of what he appealed to come to fruition. When you let that genie out of the bottle – bigotry, racism, when you let those things out of the bottle, intolerance, they don't go back in the bottle that easily if they go back in at all. Whether it's a rise in hate crimes, people feeling they have license to speak and behave in ways that previously were considered un-American and are un-American. That's what he's appealing to. And so my fears are that those things find a place in ordinary, civil society; demeans the discussions and events of the day and the country changes in a way that is unrecognizable and we become estranged, as you say, you say hey well, wait a minute you voted for Trump, I thought I knew who you were, I’m not sure. The country feels very estranged, you feel very estranged from your countrymen. So those are all dangerous things and he hasn’t even taken office yet.
The podcast is available here
Recently, Threshold, an imprint of the book publisher Simon & Schuster, gave a $250,000 book deal to Milo Yiannopoulos, writer for the neo-Nazi, white-supremacist Breitbart News Network and supporter of Trump. There was immediate outrage against the deal from writers, bookstores, book reviewers, and others. (See “Outrage at Simon & Schuster’s Book Deal for Pro-Trump Racist.”) Now more than 160 children’s and young adult (YA) book authors and illustrators with Simon & Schuster have sent a letter protesting the deal to the Simon & Schuster CEO and “all the readers and supporters of books for children.”
As technology editor at Breitbart, Yiannopoulos promoted “GamerGate,” a vicious flood of degrading attacks and terroristic threats against prominent women in the video game development community. This summer he was banned from Twitter after his followers carried out a racist harassment campaign against Black comedian/actor Leslie Jones.
The letter from the authors and illustrators reads in part:
Threshold has placed Simon & Schuster’s considerable reputation and weight behind one of the most prominent faces of the newly repackaged white supremacist/white nationalist movement and financially supported a man who routinely denigrates, verbally attacks, and directs dangerous internet doxxing and hate campaigns against women, minorities, LGBTQ individuals, Muslims, and anyone he chooses to target who supports equality and human decency. Irrespective of the content of this book, by extending a mainstream publication contract, Threshold has chosen to legitimize this reprehensible belief system, these behaviors, and white supremacy itself....
As Simon & Schuster authors and illustrators who are already published, with books in the release pipeline, with contracts in place, we do not have to quietly accept or assent to this “Gleichschaltung,” this getting in line with fascism and making it mainstream. We reject the wisdom of this decision. This man, and this book, are not America. This man, and this book, are not the bulk of Simon & Schuster. This man, and this book, are not us, the authors and illustrators of Simon & Schuster. We believe that the children we write for deserve a better America.
Among the signers of the letter are winners of Newbery, Caldecott, and National Book Award honors, including Cassandra Clare, Laurie Halse Anderson, Christian Robinson, Dan Santat, Marla Frazee, Ellen Hopkins, and Rachel Renée Russell. The Publisher’s Weekly article on this, including the text of the full letter and the list of signatories, is available online here.
Charlotte Church is a Welch singer who performs in many genres and has a big following. She has sold over ten million records worldwide.
The Trump team, which has already been turned down by most of the entertainers they have asked to perform at the inauguration, sent an invitation to Church. Church tweeted her reply directly to Trump @realDonaldTrump:
“Your staff have asked me to sing at your inauguration, a simple Internet search would show I think you’re a tyrant. Bye.”
Her message was followed by four poop emoji.
This is the link to her tweet.
At the Australian Open tennis tournament, Australian tennis star Nick Kyrgios made a statement about Donald Trump with his T-shirt. During his match with Rafael Nadal he wore a shirt that had Trump’s face covered with devil-like illustrations and the words “Fuck Donald Trump” at the bottom.
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights sent a letter to the U.S. Senate opposing the confirmation of Sessions as Attorney General, saying:
On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition of more than 200 national organizations committed to promote and protect the civil and human rights of all persons in the United States, and the 144 undersigned organizations, we are writing to express our strong opposition to the confirmation of Senator Jefferson B. Sessions (R-AL) to be the 84th Attorney General of the United States.
Senator Sessions has a 30-year record of racial insensitivity, bias against immigrants, disregard for the rule of law, and hostility to the protection of civil rights that makes him unfit to serve as the Attorney General of the United States. In our democracy, the Attorney General is charged with enforcing our nation’s laws without prejudice and with an eye toward justice. And, just as important, the Attorney General has to be seen by the public—every member of the public, from every community—as a fair arbiter of justice. Unfortunately, there is little in Senator Sessions’ record that demonstrates that he would meet such a standard.
To read the whole letter go here
Shaun King’s column in the Monday, January 9 New York Daily News was titled “Americans must call Trump out on lies, not get so used to them that we become desensitized to his dishonesty.” King writes, in part:
Last night, Meryl Streep, in an acceptance speech for a lifetime achievement award that she won at the Golden Globes, reminded the audience that our incoming President once openly mocked a reporter with a physical disability from the stage of a rally....Trump has now outrageously said he has no recollection of ever meeting Kovaleski and was not aware of his disability, but that is another outrageous lie. He did not meet Kovaleski once or twice. He did not meet him three or four times, or even half a dozen times, but met with Kovaleski at least a dozen times across the years. They met in Trump’s office, at events, and at press conferences. They were so close that Kovaleski described them as being “on a first name basis for years.”
To fight back against Streep reminding us of what he did, Trump is lying about lies about lies. His lies have so many layers that it often seems like he gets lost and simply cannot keep up....
Our incoming President of the United States is a liar. He tells them often. He lies far more often than he tells the truth. We must call him out on it. We must not become desensitized to his lies. We must not get so used to them that they become normal to us.
One of the most dishonest men on Earth is about to become our leader. I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t deeply concerned about what comes next.
To read the whole piece by Shaun King, go here.
On Sunday night, January 8, Meryl Streep received The Cecil B. DeMille Award, an honorary Golden Globe Award given by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for “outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment.” In accepting the award, she said, in part:
An actor’s only job is to enter the lives of people who are different from us and let you feel what that feels like. And there were many, many, many powerful performances this year that did exactly that—breathtaking compassionate work. But there was one performance this year that stunned me. It sank its hooks in my heart. Not because it was good. There was nothing good about it. But it was effective and it did its job. It made its intended audience laugh and show their teeth. It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter, someone he outranked in privilege, power and the capacity to fight back. It kind of broke my heart when I saw it and I still can’t get it out of my head because it wasn’t in a movie. It was real life. And this instinct to humiliate, when it’s modeled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody’s life because it kind of gives permission for other people to do the same thing. Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence incites violence. When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.
Watch Meryl Streep’s acceptance speech here
Jello Biafra is the former lead singer for the band Dead Kennedys, known for songs like “California Über Alles” and “Nazi Punks Fuck Off.” In a recent interview in Rolling Stone magazine he said:
As laughable as Rick Perry has been as governor of Texas and other [presidential] campaigns, he’s also very dangerous. At first they were saying Secretary of Agriculture for him, but then suddenly Secretary of Energy. That dude is in charge of our nukes now and he’s also part of a fundamentalist Christian doomsday cult. ... It was basically yet another cult like the one Sarah and Todd Palin prescribed, whose whole mindset was “Jesus is coming soon, and in order to expedite we should be wasting every last natural resource and clear-cutting every tree we can right now because Jesus is coming back again. It’s OK to run up further budget deficits, because Jesus loves America, he’s going to put the money back.”...
People are freaked out that Trump has made the head of Exxon the Secretary of State, and the guy is so tight and in bed with Putin—well, there’s another part of Rex Tillerson I hope people are going to highlight, too. He’s the one who finally admitted climate change existed as head of Exxon, but then he said mankind will adapt and so it’s no big deal....
What we’re looking at here is Jim Crow 2.0, and they’re going to be even more hardcore about that in the 2018 election, to keep anybody with a conscience from being able to vote. Look at who the new Attorney General is going to be, the same guy who in the Eighties said he thought the people in the Ku Klux Klan were all right “until I saw some of them smoked pot.”
Cornell William Brooks, president and CEO of the NAACP, and five other civil rights leaders were arrested January 3 after sitting in at Jeff Sessions’ office in Washington, DC, demanding the withdrawal of his nomination by Trump for Attorney General. In a January 5 interview on Democracy Now, Brooks said:
Our objections are, fundamentally, Senator Sessions represents a kind of dim and dystopian view of American civil liberties and civil rights. And so our objections are at least threefold, first of which is that he has demonstrated an unwillingness to acknowledge the reality of voter suppression that we have seen from one end of the country to the other, as attested to in the Fourth Circuit decision that found voter suppression in North Carolina, the Fifth Circuit decision which found voter suppression in Texas. He has not acknowledged the reality of that, and certainly not the reality of voter suppression in his own state...
In terms of immigration rights, he is one—among one of the most conservative, ultraconservative, extremist senators in terms of his opposition to comprehensive immigration reform. In addition to that, he has voiced an openness to a immigration ban on a global religion, namely Islam, which cannot be squared in any way, shape, fashion or form with the U.S. Constitution.
Number three, his views on criminal justice reform stand in stark contrast to both red state and blue state governors. In other words, he stands for law and order in Nixonian and draconian terms, at a moment in which we have over 2 million Americans behind bars, 65 million Americans with criminal records, 1 million fathers behind bars....
Brooks said the NAACP is “unapologetically opposed” to Sessions and is calling for civil disobedience protests:
The board of directors of the NAACP voted to oppose this nomination. And we’re doing so not only as a matter of policy, but we’re doing so bodily, spiritually, morally, by encouraging civil disobedience—that is to say, standing in the tradition of Mohandas K. Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, standing in that tradition by sitting down. And so, we understand that the odds may be difficult, but we, as the NAACP, don’t gauge our principled opposition to a nominee based upon odds and probabilities, but rather the rightness of the cause....
Read the whole interview here.
In the November-December issue of California Teacher, Joshua Pechthalt, the president of the California Federation of Teachers (CFT), which is part of the American Federation of Teachers, has a piece titled “Responding to election of Donald Trump: Reassess, Mobilize, Defend.” Pechthalt writes:
In the last few weeks, I have had many discussions trying to sort out the implications of a Trump presidency. His nomination for Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, who has been a pro-voucher, pro-charter school advocate, demonstrates he wants to privatize and charterize public schools. President-elect Trump is making clear where he wants to take the country.
Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, who has said positive things about the KKK and will likely head the Justice Department, indicates this administration will not be an advocate for criminal justice reform, voting rights, and countless other social justice efforts. More disturbing will be Trump’s appointments to the Supreme Court. A generation of justices will be in the majority and committed to an agenda that is opposed to union rights, women’s rights, voting rights, environmental protection, and other matters that will affect our children and grandchildren.
Trump has also strengthened his relationship with Steve Bannon, the former leader of Breitbart News and one of the leaders of a movement known as the alt-right. The alt-right sees this appointment as an opportunity to fan the flames of white nationalism, racism and anti-Semitism. One needs only to watch the Nazi salute at a recent gathering of alt-right supporters in the nation’s capital to be alarmed. The similarities with the rise of fascism in Europe in the 1930s, and the growing neo-fascist movement now gaining traction in Western European countries, are chilling and require a response...
The issue of California Teacher containing the article by Pechthalt is available online here.
The University of Tennessee marching band is scheduled to march in Trump’s Inauguration parade, but a lot of alumni of the school and residents of Tennessee are protesting this. More than 3,340 people have already signed an online petition calling on the president and director of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville to stop the university marching band from playing in the inaugural parade. The change.org petition, signed “Concerned Citizens and Alumni,” says in part:
As either proud residents of Tennessee or proud University of Tennessee alumni, we are greatly disturbed by the behavior exhibited by Donald Trump both during and after the recent presidential campaign. He has made racist and sexist remarks that should never come out of the mouth of someone in public office.
As residents of Tennessee, we believe that the attendance at the upcoming inauguration of a band representing the state of Tennessee would condone this behavior. As alumni, we believe that no university should risk its reputation and credibility by welcoming such ignorance and celebrating a man like Trump. It is for this reason that we urge that the band not march at the upcoming inauguration.
On January 1, comedian and TV entertainer Rosie O’Donnell tweeted:
DONALD TRUMP IS MENTALLY UNSTABLE -
LESS THAN 3 WEEKS TO STOP HIM AMERICA
The day before, in response to a Donald Trump New Year’s Eve tweet, O’Donnell tweeted:
@realDonaldTrump - we know what to do RESIST YOU - and everything you represent #notANYONESpresident #resist #liar #cheater #fraud #crook
She also tweeted:
Nobody can go back
and start a new beginning,
but anyone can start today
and make a new ending.
~ Maria Robinson
Then on January 3, @ROSIE retweeted:
The amount of flak @Rosie O’Donnell is taking right now for stating fact, as if SHE’s out of line, is criminal. #NoFascistUSA #DontNormalize
Olivet Nazarene is a Christian university located south of Chicago in Illinois. When school officials announced that the Olivet Nazarene band would be taking part in Trump’s inauguration, there was immediate opposition. An online petition, “Withdraw Olivet Nazarene University from Inaugural Parade,” has gathered over 2,000 signers. The petition, addressed to the college president and administrators, says in part:
Sadly, President-elect Trump has consistently articulated and advocated policies that undermine the Christian commitments of communities like Olivet. His well-documented sexism, his political alliances with white supremacists, and his hostility towards immigrants and refugees are just a few positions incompatible with Christian teachings in general and the Nazarene message of holiness in particular.
Any university presence at the inauguration would suggest toleration or, even worse, endorsement of the President-elect’s objectionable attitudes on these and other issues. Such a presence is simply unacceptable.
We call on you to decline this and any other invitations to participate in President-elect Trump’s inaugural festivities. We make this request not out of partisan opposition. Both educational and religious organizations should be capable of holding differing political opinions within the bonds of community. Yet, conservatives and liberals alike acknowledge that President-elect Trump has demeaned and alienated many, with little or no effort made towards reconciliation. For Olivet to embody the faith it proclaims, we have a responsibility to stand with those marginalized by the President-elect’s divisive rhetoric rather than march in celebration of it.
Rebecca Ferguson is a British singer and songwriter. Her 2015 album “Lady Sings the Blues,” covering classic songs by Billie Holiday, made the charts in the UK. Ferguson says she was asked to sing at Trump’s inauguration and says she will do it.... IF she can sing “Strange Fruit”—a song first recorded by Billy Holliday in 1939 that scathingly indicts the lynchings of Black people in the American South. Ferguson wrote on TwitLonger:
I’ve been asked and this is my answer. If you allow me to sing “strange fruit” a song that has huge historical importance, a song that was blacklisted in the United States for being too controversial. A song that speaks to all the disregarded and down trodden black people in the United States. A song that is a reminder of how love is the only thing that will conquer all the hatred in this world, then I will graciously accept your invitation and see you in Washington. Best Rebecca X
Soon after the election, Gregg Popovich, one of the top coaches in the National Basketball Association (NBA), was asked to comment on Trump’s victory. The following are excerpts from his comments:
It’s our country, we don’t want it to go down the drain. Any reasonable person would come to that conclusion. But it does not take away the fact that he is fear-mongering—all the comments, from day one—the race baiting, trying to make Barack Obama, the first Black president, illegitimate. It leaves me wondering where I’ve been living and with whom I’m living.
And the fact that people can just gloss that over and start talking about the transition team, and we’re all gonna be kumbaya now and try to make the country good without talking about any of those things. And now we see that he’s already backing off of immigration and Obamacare and other things, so was it a big fake? Which makes you feel it’s even more disgusting and cynical that somebody would use that to get the base that fired up. To get elected. And what gets lost in the process are African-Americans, and Hispanics, and women, and the gay population, not to mention the eighth-grade developmental stage exhibited by him when he made fun of the handicapped person. I mean, come on. That’s what a seventh-grade, eighth-grade bully does. And he was elected president of the United States. We would have scolded our kids. We would have had discussions and talked until we were blue in the face trying to get them to understand these things. And he is in charge of our country. That’s disgusting.
See a YouTube of Popovich (along with another NBA coach, Stan Van Gundy) commenting on Trump here.
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir is scheduled to sing at Trump’s inauguration and 19,000 members of the Mormon Church have already signed a petition against them performing. Now, a member of the choir, Jan Chamberlin, has resigned over this, saying, “I could never throw roses to Hitler. And I certainly could never sing for him." Her letter, which was posted on Facebook, says:
Since “the announcement” [of the Choir performing at the inauguration], I have spent several sleepless nights and days in turmoil and agony. I have reflected carefully on both sides of the issue, prayed a lot, talked with family and friends, and searched my soul.
I’ve tried to tell myself that by not going to the inauguration, that I would be able to stay in Choir for all the other good reasons.
I have highly valued the mission of the Choir to be good-will ambassadors for Christ, to share beautiful music and to give hope, inspiration, and comfort to others.
I’ve tried to tell myself that it will be alright and that I can continue in good conscience before God and man.
But it’s no use. I simply cannot continue with the recent turn of events. I could never look myself in the mirror again with self respect...
I also know, looking from the outside in, it will appear that Choir is endorsing tyranny and fascism by singing for this man...
Tyranny is now on our doorstep; it has been sneaking its way into our lives through stealth. Now it will burst into our homes through storm. I hope that we and many others will work together with greater diligence and awareness to calmly and bravely work together to defend our freedoms and our rights for our families, our friends, and our fellow citizens. I hope we can throw off the labels and really listen to each other with respect, love, compassion, and a true desire to bring our energies and souls together in solving the difficult problems that lie in our wake...
History is repeating itself; the same tactics are being used by Hitler (identify a problem, finding a scapegoat target to blame, and stirring up people with a combination of fanaticism, false promises, and fear, and gathering the funding). I plead with everyone to go back and read the books we all know on these topics and review the films produced to help us learn from these gargantuan crimes so that we will not allow them to be repeated. Evil people prosper when good people stand by and do nothing.
We must continue our love and support for the refugees and the oppressed by fighting against these great evils.
For me, this is a HUGELY moral issue....
I only know I could never “throw roses to Hitler.” And I certainly could never sing for him.
To read the whole letter go here.
The Radio City Rockettes, whose trademark routine is a line of dancers doing eye-high leg kicks in perfect unison, are scheduled to perform at Trump’s inauguration. Right away there were signs that some of the dancers are very disturbed about this. In a shameful move, the union representing the Rockettes, the American Guild of Variety Artists, sent an email to the dancers saying they were “obliged” to perform at the inauguration. Later the company that owns the Radio City Rockettes, the Madison Square Garden Company, told Rolling Stone magazine that individual dancers “are never told they have to perform at a particular event, including the inaugural. It is always their choice.” But one can imagine the pressure being put on these women to perform and what it could mean for their careers if they refuse.
Recently, MarieClaire.com wrote a piece about this controversy, including quotes from an exclusive interview they did with “Mary,” one of the Rockettes. The following are some excerpts from this article:
The dancer next to Mary was crying. Tears streamed down her face through all 90 minutes of their world-famous Christmas Spectacular as they kicked and pirouetted and hit mark after mark on the glittering Radio City Music Hall stage. This was Thursday, three days before Christmas, the day the Rockettes discovered they’d been booked to perform at the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump.
“She felt she was being forced to perform for this monster,” Mary told MarieClaire.com in an exclusive interview. “I wouldn’t feel comfortable standing near a man like that in our costumes,” said another dancer in an email to her colleagues.
For Mary? “If I had to lose my job over this, I would. It’s too important. And I think the rest of the performing arts community would happily stand behind me.” ...
“There is a divide in the company now, which saddens me most,” Mary says. “The majority of us said no immediately. Then there’s the percentage that said yes, for whatever reason—whether it’s because they’re young and uninformed, or because they want the money, or because they think it’s an opportunity to move up in the company when other people turn it down.” ...
Mary says that to her knowledge, no women of color have signed up to perform that day. “It’s almost worse to have 18 pretty white girls behind this man who supports so many hate groups.” ...
“This is not a Republican or Democrat issue—this is a women’s rights issue,” she continues. “This is an issue of racism and sexism, something that’s much bigger than politics. We walk into work and everyone has different political views. The majority of the stage crew are Trump supporters; there’s a ‘Make America Great Again’ bumper sticker on the crew doors at the side of the stage.”
But the majority of the staff skews liberal, she says, especially considering the many LGBT employees at Radio City. “It’s the ensemble. It’s the people in our wardrobe and hair department, some of whom are transgender,” she says. “These are our friends and our family, who we’ve worked with for years. It’s a basic human-rights issue. We have immigrants in the show. I feel like dancing for Trump would be disrespecting the men and women who work with us, the people we care about.”
On December 29, former Rockette Autumn Withers said in an interview on cable news channel MSNBC that the group has performed at previous inaugurations but Trump is different:
[W]e’ve never had an incoming president who has publically and repeatedly demeaned women and said derogatory things about women. And I think that’s what makes this is a really unique situation and elevates it above a situation of just doing your job as a Rockette as you would for any other event and elevates it to a moral issue, a woman’s rights issue. What does this say, the optics of having the Rockettes perform at Trump’s inauguration? How does that normalize these comments and remarks that Trump has made to women at large and is that OK?
He has talked about grabbing women’s genitals, he has called them names from dogs, pigs, slobs, crooked, nasty. And to have a beautiful line of women dancing behind him I think on a larger level kind of normalizes his derogatory comments. I have Republican female family members and even when you bring up his comments they’re very uncomfortable and they still agree that this is a women’s rights issue....
The whole MarieClair.com article is available here.
To listen to the MSNBC interview with Autumn Withers, go here.
The Fulbright Program, funded by the U.S. government and private sources, gives prestigious scholarships to about 8,000 recipients yearly—for students, academics, artists and others in the U.S. to study and do research abroad and for recipients in other countries to do the same in the U.S. After the presidential election, three past and current Fulbright grant recipients wrote an open letter expressing alarm at Trump’s victory. The letter has gathered signatures from over 1,500 other past and current Fulbright scholarship recipients from 95 countries.
Their letter says in part: “We have, for the last eighteen months, watched the electoral process unfold in the United States as the president-elect openly engaged in demagoguery against a number of vulnerable populations, courted hate groups, threatened the press, and promised vindictive actions against his opponents. This is not populism; it is recklessness. The consequence could be dire for both international cooperation and peace. We are now worried by the prospect of his inauguration into one of the world’s most powerful offices with the power to carry out his stated intentions. While we respect the American electoral system, we write to express our deepest concerns.”
The letter and list of signatories are available online here.
Franz Wasserman, 96 years old, was a youth in Germany during the 1930s and saw the rise of the Nazis first-hand. He’s never considered himself an activist. But with the election of Trump, he felt he had to act. He wrote a letter to U.S. senators warning of the parallels between Trump and Hitler—and shared it with others. Jerry Lange, a columnist for the Seattle Times, received a copy, and he wrote a piece on Wasserman that appeared on December 26.
Wasserman begins the letter: “I was born in Munich, Germany, in 1920. I lived there during the rise of the Nazi Party and left for the U.S.A. in 1938. The elements of the Nazi regime were the suppression of dissent, the purging of the dissenters and undesirables, the persecution of communists, Jews and homosexuals and the ideal of the Arians as the master race. These policies started immediately after Hitler came to power, at first out of sight but escalated gradually leading to the Second World War and the holocaust. Meanwhile most Germans were lulled into complacency by all sorts of wonderful projects and benefits.”
Today, Wasserman writes, “The neo-Nazis and the KKK have become more prominent and get recognition in the press. We are all familiar with Trump’s remarks against all Muslims and all Mexicans. But there has not been anything as alarming as the appointment of Steve Bannon as Trump’s Chief Strategist. Bannon has, apparently, made anti-Semitic remarks for years, has recently condemned Muslims and Jews and he and Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the pick as National Security Adviser, advocate the political and cultural superiority of the white race. At the same time Trump is trying to control the press... We can hope that our government of checks and balances will be more resistant than the Weimar Republic was. Don’t count on it.”
The Seattle Times article with quotes from Franz Wasserman and his story is available here.
The following “Statement by Feminist Scholars on the Election of Donald Trump as President” is posted at a number of sites on the Internet and so far has more than 900 signatories:
“On Tuesday, November 8, 2016, a sizeable minority of the U.S. electorate chose to send billionaire Donald Trump, an avowed sexist and an unrepentant racist, who has spent nearly forty years antagonizing vulnerable people, to the White House. Spewing hatred at women, people of color, immigrants, Muslims, and those with disabilities is Trump’s most consistent, and well-documented form of public engagement. Trump bragged about sexually assaulting women because, as he quipped, his celebrity made it easy for him to do so. We can only assume that the hostile climate and anxiety about what is to come were contributing factors. The political shift we are witnessing, including the appointment of open bigots to the president-elect’s cabinet, reaffirms the structural disposability and systemic disregard for every person who is not white, male, straight, cisgender, able-bodied, and middle or upper class.
“As a community of feminist scholars, activists and artists, we affirm that the time to act is now. We cannot endure four years of a Trump presidency without a plan. We must protect reproductive justice, fight for Black lives, defend the rights of LGBTQIA people, disrupt the displacement of indigenous people and the stealing of their resources, advocate and provide safe havens for the undocumented, stridently reject Islamophobia, and oppose the acceleration of neoliberal policies that divert resources to the top 1% and abandon those at the bottom of the economic hierarchy. We must also denounce militarization at home and abroad, and climate change denial that threatens to destroy the entire planet.
“We must also reject calls to compromise, to understand, or to collaborate. We cannot and will not comply. Our number one priority is to resist. We must resist the instantiation of autocracy. We must resist this perversion of democracy. We must refuse spin and challenge any narratives that seek to call this moment “democracy at work.” This is not democracy; this is the rise of a 21st century U.S. version of fascism. We must name it, so we can both confront and defeat it. The most vulnerable, both here and abroad, cannot afford for us to equivocate or remain silent. The threats posed by settler colonialism and empire around the globe have never been more real, nor has our resolve to oppose these injustices ever been stronger. Concretely, within the U.S., we oppose the building of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, and the establishment of a registry for Muslim residents.
“We owe this moment and the communities we fight for our very best thinking, teaching, and organizing. We must find creative solutions to address the immediate needs of those who will be acutely affected within the first 100 days of Trump’s presidency. We must push ourselves into new, and more precise and radical analytical frameworks that can help us to articulate the stakes of this moment.
“The most important thing we can do in this moment is to make an unqualified commitment to those on the margins through our actions, insist that the media be allowed to do its job; and protect the right to protest and dissent. We recognize clearly that our silence will not protect us. Silence, in the aftermath of 11/8 is not merely a lack of words; it is a profound inertia of liberatory thought and praxis. So - what are we waiting for? We are who we are waiting for. We pledge to stand and fight, with fierce resolve, for the values and principles we believe in and the people we love.”
The statement and list of signatories is available here.
Shortly after Trump’s election, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) in New York City issued this statement:
"We send love and solidarity to all those who are hurting and afraid that Donald Trump’s America excludes them. We share the despair of the millions who are in shock that a candidate supported by the KKK has won the presidency of the United States.
"If there is a silver lining in this election result it is that it is impossible now to deny the racism, sexism, and xenophobia that have been part of America for centuries. Our duty is to stand together with all those who dissent from this bigotry and to defend and protect vulnerable communities. That has been CCR’s mission for 50 years, and we will work harder than ever to defend civil and human rights and the U.S. Constitution.
"The dangers of a Trump presidency go beyond the attacks on people of color, women, Muslims, immigrants, refugees, LGBTQI people, and people with disabilities. His campaign was marked by the strategies and tactics of authoritarian regimes: endorsing and encouraging violence against political protesters, threatening to jail his opponent, refusing to say he would accept the results of the election if he lost, punishing critical press. Together with all those who value freedom, justice, and self-determination, we must resist and prevent at all costs a slide into American fascism.
"Resistance is our civic duty."
Lauren Duca is an editor for Teen Vogue magazine and has been a contributing reporter/writer for several other magazines including Huffington Post, Vice, New York, and The New Yorker. In a December 10, article published in Teen Vogue titled “Donald Trump Is Gaslighting America,” she writes:
“Trump won the Presidency by gas light. His rise to power has awakened a force of bigotry by condoning and encouraging hatred, but also by normalizing deception. Civil rights are now on trial, though before we can fight to reassert the march toward equality, we must regain control of the truth. If that seems melodramatic, I would encourage you to dump a bucket of ice over your head while listening to ‘Duel of the Fates.’ Donald Trump is our President now; it’s time to wake up.
“‘Gas lighting’ is a buzzy name for a terrifying strategy currently being used to weaken and blind the American electorate. We are collectively being treated like Bella Manningham in the 1938 Victorian thriller from which the term ‘gas light’ takes its name. In the play, Jack terrorizes his wife Bella into questioning her reality by blaming her for mischievously misplacing household items which he systematically hides. Doubting whether her perspective can be trusted, Bella clings to a single shred of evidence: the dimming of the gas lights that accompanies the late night execution of Jack’s trickery. The wavering flame is the one thing that holds her conviction in place as she wriggles free of her captor’s control.
“To gas light is to psychologically manipulate a person to the point where they question their own sanity, and that’s precisely what Trump is doing to this country.... At the hands of Trump, facts have become interchangeable with opinions, blinding us into arguing amongst ourselves, as our very reality is called into question.... The good news about this boiling frog scenario is that we’re not boiling yet. Trump is not going to stop playing with the burner until America realizes that the temperature is too high. It’s on every single one of us to stop pretending it’s always been so hot in here...
“The road ahead is a treacherous one. There are unprecedented amounts of ugliness to untangle, from deciding whether our President can be an admitted sexual predator to figuring out how to stop him from threatening the sovereignty of an entire religion. It’s incredible that any of those things could seem like a distraction from a greater peril, or be only the cherry-picked issues in a seemingly unending list of gaffes, but the gaslights are flickering. When defending each of the identities in danger of being further marginalized, we must remember the thing that binds this pig-headed hydra together. As we spin our newfound rage into action, it is imperative to remember, across identities and across the aisle, as a country and as individuals, we have nothing without the truth.”
To read the whole article go here.
On December 19, Summer Brennan, an award-winning investigative journalist, author, and visiting scholar at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University, tweeted:
“Trump is a fascist. I promise to be a siren going off about this national disaster until it is averted or stopped. #resist”
In an open letter to Trump dated December 13, constitutional legal scholars associated with law schools across the U.S. wrote, “Some of your statements and actions during the campaign and since the election cause us great concern about your commitment to our constitutional system.”
The open letter gets into some of these issues: First Amendment protection of the rights of free speech and free press; “poisonous anti-Muslim rhetoric”; violation of government checks and balances; threats to overturn the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion; appointment of Alabama Senator Sessions, with a “troubling history on voting rights and civil rights,” as Attorney General; “baseless charges concerning voter fraud”; and “inflammatory rhetoric” that has been “taken as invitation to discriminate and to act out in all kinds of hate-filled ways.”
In the point on anti-Muslim attacks, the open letter notes: “To make matters worse, your proposed national security advisor, Michael Flynn, has described what he calls ‘Islamism’ as a ‘vicious cancer inside the body of 1.7 billion people’ that ‘has to be excised.’ Such rhetoric is shocking in its ignorance and bigotry; it must not become normalized. We continue to hear talk of a ‘Muslim registry’ being created by your administration—or a nationality-based registry that would be a proxy for religious discrimination. To our national shame, the federal government during World War II carried out—and the Supreme Court’s discredited Korematsu decision upheld—the mass internment of Japanese Americans based upon no individualized suspicion of wrongdoing; the federal government under President Ronald Reagan subsequently apologized and paid reparations. We urge you to reconsider your naming of Flynn and to renounce a Muslim registry or anything like it.”
The open letter concludes: “Although we sincerely hope that you will take your constitutional oath seriously, so far you have offered little indication that you will. We feel a responsibility to challenge you in the court of public opinion, and we hope that those directly aggrieved by your administration will challenge you in the courts of law. We call upon legal conservatives who cherish constitutional values to join us in speaking law to power. And we call upon citizens, lawyers, educators, public officials, and religious leaders to use every legal means available to protect the most vulnerable members of our society and our constitutional guarantees. At no point that any of us can remember has this need been more imperative than it is now.”
See a pdf of the open letter and list of signatories here.
America Ferrera is an actress who has won many awards, including an Emmy, a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Guild Award. In a December 14 interview, she was asked, “How are you feeling about the future of our environment during the Trump administration?” She said:
“When you have a president-elect who says he doesn’t even know if climate change is real, for the next four to eight years, the future looks pretty horrible. We know that climate change is real, and yet he’s still questioning it. So, that’s pretty terrifying. We haven’t had any time to waste for a long time now, and it’s a pretty devastating thing to start moving backward. So yes, I think that it’s really daunting. But we have to be committed to staying alert and staying awake and staying educated and using our voices to push back. It doesn’t mean it’s gonna be easy, or there’s ever going to be a defining last fight where we win and we never have to go back and defend the idea that climate change is the real thing we need to pay attention to. But we can’t give up the fight.”
During his presidential campaign, many musicians, actors, and other celebrities spoke out against Donald Trump. And now he and his team are having a hard time getting musicians to perform at his inauguration. A number of celebrities have been asked and refused, and some have made it clear that if they are asked, they will refuse.
Read more here
On November 20, Sarah Houghton wrote an Open Letter to Julie Todaro, President of the American Library Association, protesting a press release from the ALA in which Todaro stated, “We are ready to work with President-elect Trump, his transition team, incoming administration and members of Congress to bring more economic opportunity to all Americans and advance other goals we have in common.”
Houghton has been an active member of the ALA for 16 years and says, “I have never before this week considered canceling my membership.” Houghton says in her letter: “I am absolutely not ready to work with President-elect Trump. He has stood for racism, prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination for his entire life—including during his campaign. Those are all things ALA stands firmly against. Explain to me why we’re ready to work with a bigot? Because I’m not ready for that at all. The rest of this release went on to detail some of the things libraries do for communities—coming off as a weak and pandering missive begging for scraps and, in truth, coming from a place of fear.”
Houghton points to another ALA press release that highlights “how libraries can advance specific policy priorities of the incoming Trump administration in the areas of entrepreneurship, services to veterans and broadband adoption and use” and says:
“This trajectory away from justice and toward collaboration with a fascist regime disturbs me greatly. These comments are tone deaf and, not only do not represent my values as a librarian, but do not represent the shared values of the American Library Association and its membership. There is a time to walk a middle road, to give voice to a moderate viewpoint of an organization’s membership. This is not that time. This is the time to stand tall and proud, and give voice to the fiery ethics and values that our profession has held dear for so long in the face of fascism and bigotry.
“I have no intention of supporting this incoming administration in any way whatsoever. With the transition team and other appointments being floated in the press, President-elect Trump has made it clear that racism, sexism, bigotry, assault, discrimination of all kinds, and the destruction of basic civil liberties are foundational to his administration’s philosophy. I refuse to be complicit in the work of the Trump administration and cannot in good faith remain part of a professional organization that chooses to be complicit.”
Read the whole letter here.
Anthony Bourdain, currently host of CNN’s travel and food show Parts Unknown, was asked in a recent interview about sushi chef Alessandro Borgognone’s decision to move his restaurant to Trump’s Washington, DC, hotel. Bourdain said he would “never eat in his restaurant” and felt “utter and complete contempt” for the chef. He explained, “I’m not asking you to start putting up barricades now, but when they come and ask you, ‘Are you with us?’ you do have an option. You can say, ‘No thanks, guys. I don’t look good in a brown shirt. Makes me look a little, I don’t know, not great. It’s not slimming.’” In a tweet on December 22, Bourdain said, “I am not ‘boycotting’ anything. I choose to not patronize chefs who tacitly support deporting half the people they’ve ever worked with”—clear reference to Trump’s threat to deport millions of Mexican immigrants.
José Andrés operates more than a dozen restaurants in cities including Washington, DC; Miami; Las Vegas; and Los Angeles. In 2015, after Trump made disgusting racist comments about Mexican immigrants, Andrés withdrew the commitment he’d made to open a restaurant in Trump’s new DC hotel. Trump sued him for breach of contract, seeking $10 million in damages. Andrés countersued, and said, “More than half of my team is Hispanic, as are many of our guests. And, as a proud Spanish immigrant and recently naturalized American citizen myself, I believe that every human being deserves respect, regardless of immigration status.” Andrés tweeted on December 19: “I am a proud immigrant!! To my fellow immigrants thank you for the amazing work you do every day. #ToImmigrantsWithLove” Trump is required to appear to be deposed in Andrés’s suit, just weeks before his scheduled inauguration.
At the December 18 “We Rock with Standing Rock” benefit concert in Los Angeles, singer Fiona Apple did a fiery performance of her version of the Christmas standard “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire” that begins: “Trump’s nuts roasting on an open fire...” She ends with “Donald Trump... Fuck You!” to the loud cheers of the audience. Watch it here:
George Polisner, a top executive at the tech corporation Oracle, publicly resigned from the company on December 19 after Oracle co-CEO Safra Catz announced she was going to join Trump’s presidential transition team. Catz was among the executives from major tech companies, including Amazon, Google, and Apple, who met with Trump last week—a shameful meeting that helped to lend legitimacy to the Trump-Pence fascist cabal. When Polisner learned of this, he sent his letter to Catz and at the same time posted it on the LinkedIn website.
His resignation letter says in part, “Trump stokes fear, hatred and violence toward people of color, Muslims and immigrants. It is well-known that hate crimes are surging as he has provided license for this ignorance-based expression of malice.... He seeks to eviscerate environmental protections, the public education system, LGBTQ rights and women’s rights.”
And Polisner says in the letter: “I am not with President-elect Trump and I am not here to help him in any way. In fact—when his policies border on the unconstitutional, the criminal and the morally unjust—I am here to oppose him in every possible and legal way.” (emphasis in the original)
Polisner told the UK Guardian that he decided to make his resignation letter public because he “decided it was too important to die as a private letter” and that “I thought I could either be a role model in terms of a path forward or a cautionary tale.”
Read George Polisner’s resignation letter here.
Michael Sheen is a Welsh stage and screen actor whose work includes starring roles in the 2008 film Frost/Nixon and the current Showtime series Masters of Sex. On December 17, the Sunday Times of London ran a profile on him, titled “Michael Sheen gets political. This time it’s for real.” The writer of the profile had expected Sheen to discuss his role in the upcoming sci-fi film Passengers. “Instead, Sheen, 47, wants to talk about politics. Lately, it’s been bothering him a lot. No, that’s not nearly strong enough. What he calls the ‘demagogic, fascistic’ drift of politics in the western world in the past few years, culminating in Donald Trump’s election victory, has left Sheen horrified, furious and determined to do everything he can to counter it. It’s why, after several years of increasing commitments to a broad spread of causes, including the NHS, Unicef, the Freedom of Information Act, fighting homelessness and campaigning against fracking, the actor is preparing to go all in. He plans to start fighting the rise of the ‘hard populist right’—evident in France, Austria, Poland, Hungary, the Netherlands, Britain and the United States—via grassroots organizing in his beloved Port Talbot (he pronounces it “P’Talbot”) and see where it takes him.” (Port Talbot is Sheen’s hometown in Wales.)
Later, the profile quotes Sheen saying, “In the same way as the Nazis had to be stopped in Germany in the Thirties, this thing that is on the rise has to be stopped. But it has to be understood before it can be stopped.”
The whole profile is available at the Times website here (the site requires registration for free access).
A website called “Professor Watchlist,” run by a group called Turning Point USA, has posted the names of more than 200 professors they accuse of putting forward “leftist propaganda” and “discriminating” against right-wing students. This campus witch-hunt is a sign of the time of Trump.
Among the names appearing on the Watchlist are two Notre Dame academics: philosophy professor Gary Gutting and Iris Outlaw, director of Multicultural Student Programs and Services. The Watchlist said Gutting was added because he wrote that the country’s “permissive gun laws are a manifestation of racism,” and Outlaw because she “taught a ‘white privilege’ seminar that pledged to help students acknowledge and understand their white privilege.”
In response, more than 100 Notre Dame faculty members published an open letter in the Observer, the student newspaper at Notre Dame, defying the Professor Watchlist. Their statement said in part: “We surmise that the purpose of your list is to shame and silence faculty who espouse ideas you reject. But your list has had a different effect upon us. We are coming forward to stand with the professors you have called ‘dangerous,’ reaffirming our values and recommitting ourselves to the work of teaching students to think clearly, independently, and fearlessly.
“So please add our names, the undersigned faculty at the University of Notre Dame, to the Professor Watchlist. We wish to be counted among those you are watching.”
The full letter and list of the names are available at the Observer site.
"What if Trump has shown himself beyond doubt and with absolute certainty to be a demagogue and bigot and xenophobe and has given space and voice to concordant voices in the country and in his emerging Legion of Doom cabinet? In that reality, resistance isn't about mindless obstruction by people blinded by the pain of ideological defeat or people gorging on sour grapes. To the contrary, resistance then is an act of radical, even revolutionary, patriotism. Resistance isn't about damaging the country, but protecting it..."
Read the whole column here
More than 500 members of the faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have issued a statement opposing Trump’s official appointments and “upholding the value of science and diversity.” The signers include people from every academic department at MIT, nine department and program heads, and four Nobel Prize recipients. Notable signatories to date include Susan Solomon, Co-Chair of the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; Tim Berners-Lee, World Wide Web inventor; Noam Chomsky, Institute Professor Emeritus; Joichi Ito, Director of the MIT Media Lab; and Junot Díaz, Pulitzer Prize winning author.
This is an important development, and this kind of stand needs to spread to other campuses and through the academic community, even as people get more clarity on the actual fascist nature of Trump and the incoming regime. Read the MIT faculty statement here.
New York Daily News columnist Shaun King's writes: "Now, in the name of a peaceful transition, both President Obama and Hillary Clinton are striking a conciliatory tone. I understand that such a tone is a tradition in American politics, but everything about Donald Trump and this election breaks with tradition. President Obama may feel obligated to strike such a tone, but I don't have such an obligation. Perhaps President Obama feels that by striking such a tone, it makes it more likely that Donald Trump will be moderate after his inauguration. I don't believe that for one second."
His column concludes: "We can't wait until he does those things before we act against him. We must outsmart and out-organize his team. I implore you to ignore anybody saying anything other than that. They've been wrong all year. We must act and we must act now."
Read Shaun King's piece here.
"Trump is saying Hitler-level things in public... And I feel like it's dangerous for us to be complacent"
Read John Legend's comments here.
During the live TV broadcast of the American Music Awards on Sunday night, November 20, the punk rock band Green Day let loose with a defiant condemnation of Donald Trump. In the middle of performing “Bang Bang,” from their latest album Revolution Radio, the band, led by singer Billie Joe Armstrong, broke into the chant:
“No Trump! No KKK! No fascist USA!”
ABC TV executives were reportedly thrown “completely off guard.” The audience gave Green Day a standing ovation.
This is the kind of bold, truth-telling denunciation of Trump—calling out what he actually represents—that we need much more of, right now!
Watch a video clip here.
Whatever place we now live in is not the same place it was on Nov. 7. No matter how the rest of the world looked at us on Nov. 7, they will now look at us differently ...
With Trump's election, I think that the ideal of an objective, truthful journalism is dead, never to be revived. Like Nixon and Sarah Palin before him, Trump ran against the media, boomeranging off the public's contempt for the press. He ran against what he regarded as media elitism and bias, and he ran on the idea that the press disdained working-class white America. Among the many now-widening divides in the country, this is a big one, the divide between the media and working-class whites, because it creates a Wild West of information – a media ecology in which nothing can be believed except what you already believe.
With the mainstream media so delegitimized — a delegitimization for which they bear a good deal of blame, not having had the courage to take on lies and expose false equivalencies — they have very little role to play going forward in our politics. I suspect most of them will surrender to Trumpism — if they were able to normalize Trump as a candidate, they will no doubt normalize him as president. Cable news may even welcome him as a continuous entertainment and ratings booster. And in any case, like Reagan, he is bulletproof. The media cannot touch him, even if they wanted to. Presumably, there will be some courageous guerillas in the mainstream press, a kind of Resistance, who will try to fact-check him. But there will be few of them, and they will be whistling in the wind. Trump, like all dictators, is his own truth.
Read more here.
Two days after Trump’s election, Robert Ivy, the CEO and executive vice president of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), sent a memorandum to the organization's members saying, “The AIA and its 89,000 members are committed to working with President-elect Trump to address the issues our country faces, particularly strengthening the nation’s aging infrastructure. … It is now time for all of us to work together to advance policies that help our country move forward.”
When Frederick “Fritz” Read, the founder and head of Read & Company Architects in Baltimore, saw this, he acted immediately. He sent a letter condemning Ivy’s statement and declaring his resignation from the AIA. He wrote: “The alacrity with which Robert Ivy hopped out there to promise the President-Elect that the AIA will play nice with his administration, without even a pro forma caution that what Mr. Trump has promised and threatened are deeply antithetical to the values that many of us cherish, is the final straw for me, the last bit of evidence I needed, that our only serious interest as an organization has become a craven interest in securing our piece of the action. The AIA does not represent my personal or professional interests. Please consider this my resignation from the AIA, effective immediately, and remove both my name and that of my firm from your membership records. I am appalled.”
In a subsequent email to an official of the Baltimore AIA chapter who talked about how AIA relations with the U.S. government have always been and should continue to be “neutral,” Read wrote: “Am so curious how a pledge made explicitly on behalf of all 89,000 members of open-ended and unqualified support for a climate-change-denying, xenophobic, racist, sexist, repeated bankrupt can possibly be understood as a statement of organizational neutrality. … Ours is not an honorable history of willingness to forgo enrichment simply on principle, and this statement slips all too closely to the worst of that: are we all too young or forgetful to recall that Albert Speer was one of ours?” Speer was Hitler’s chief architect who headed major projects under the Nazi regime and became Minister of Armaments and War Production during World War 2.
Under mounting criticism from architects, architecture faculty, and other architecture professionals, Ivy and other leading AIA officials were forced to apologize to the membership for their craven remarks about working with the Trump administration.
Read more about this here at Architect News online
In the November 10 issue of their online newsletter “Endangered Earth,” the Center for Biological Diversity included a statement saying, “We're only thinking about one thing right now: stopping Donald Trump from destroying the planet.” The statement goes on to say, “If President Trump carries out the disastrous promises he made while campaigning, the Environmental Protection Agency will be gutted, the Endangered Species Act will be repealed, old-growth forests will be clearcut, hard-fought global climate change agreements will be undermined, and polluters will be given free rein over our water and air.”
And the center vowed, “There's no way in hell we're letting that happen.” Read the entire statement here.
Read the Center's piece here.
Hostility to immigrants and refugees strikes particularly close to home for us as historians of the Jews. As an immigrant people, Jews have experienced the pain of discrimination and exclusion, including by this country in the dire years of the 1930s. Our reading of the past impels us to resist any attempts to place a vulnerable group in the crosshairs of nativist racism. It is our duty to come to their aid and to resist the degradation of rights that Mr. Trump's rhetoric has provoked.
However, it is not only in defense of others that we feel called to speak out. We witnessed repeated anti-Semitic expressions and insinuations during the Trump campaign. Much of this anti-Semitism was directed against journalists, either Jewish or with Jewish-sounding names. The candidate himself refused to denounce—and even retweeted--language and images that struck us as manifestly anti-Semitic. By not doing so, his campaign gave license to haters of Jews, who truck in conspiracy theories about world Jewish domination.
Read entire statement here
Issa Rae is star of the HBO series Insecure. Sunday night, January 9, on the red carpet at the Golden Globes awards in Los Angeles., she was asked what she thought of Trump. Rae said:
Every single time I see a tweet from that man, every single time I see the administration that he’s bringing in, it just gets worse and worse. And the scariest part to me is how normal it’s becoming to some people. And I think we just have to keep calling things out, it’s like nope, you’re lying, nope, that’s not true, nope, that doesn’t work that way. As long as we don’t continue to let him slide, then there might be some hope, but it’s scary.
Debra Messing, best known for her starring role in the TV comedy series Will & Grace, tweeted on December 18:
This is a regime that will strip away the rights of millions. Threaten the lives of millions. And threatens the planet. #NOFASCISTUSA
Messing is one of the signatories of the Call to Action of RefuseFascism.org. On Wednesday, January 4, when the Call appeared as a full page in the New York Times, she tweeted a photo of that Times page with the #NoFascistUSA hashtag and link to refusefascism.org.
Philip Elliot is the editor-in-chief of Into The Void, a print and digital literary magazine based in Dublin, Ireland, “dedicated to providing fantastic fiction, nonfiction, poetry and visual art from all over the world.” In a recent roundtable with several editors, the online journal The Review Review asked the question “How Will a Trump Presidency Impact Literary Magazines?” Elliot answered:
Fascism is rising. Not just in the U.S. but across Europe too. In the West we’re experiencing similar circumstances that led to its rise a century ago and now the wheel has turned again. People say to me, especially because I live in Ireland, that I’m overreacting to this; that’s it’s just more politics, everything will blow over, etc. They fail to see the bigger picture. What’s been put into motion here, catalyzed by the election but arisen from a far more complex sense of discontent and fear, is the greatest threat to our newly-progressive societies that we’ve ever seen. More than anything else, my fear is that we as artists and curators of art will allow our way of thinking to become the “It’s just politics, it will all blow over soon” attitude. I fear that because nothing terrible is going to happen right away, we will normalize this whole affair and accept it. What people forget is that Hitler began his slow climb to absolute power in 1918. Bad things are coming, that’s for certain, but they will come slowly, and they will come under the guise of good. As writers, we peer under the masks of things for a living and that skill is more important now than ever. Art’s duty to criticize the bad and protect the good is infinitely more important in times of darkness. It reminds us what we can be. And it must also remind us of the terrible evil we once did. Because if we truly remembered, how could we have let this happen again? At Into the Void, we’ll be paying close attention to work that criticizes the actions of our supposed leaders in the months and years to come.
Elliot’s comments and others can be found here.
When the St. Louis Art Museum announced that they were making an artwork from their collection available on loan to serve as a centerpiece of the Trump inauguration luncheon, art historian Ivy Cooper and artist Ilene Berman began an online petition calling for the cancellation of the loan. According to the petition, the 1855 painting, “Verdict of the People” by George Caleb Bingham, “depicts a small-town Missouri election, and symbolizes the democratic process in mid-19th century America.” The petition goes on to say:
We object to the painting’s use as an inaugural backdrop and an implicit endorsement of the Trump presidency and his expressed values of hatred, misogyny, racism and xenophobia. We reject the use of the painting to suggest that Trump’s election was truly the “verdict of the people,” when in fact the majority of votes—by a margin of over three million—were cast for Trump’s opponent. Finally, we consider the painting a representation of our community, and oppose its use as such at the inauguration.
Art can be used to make powerful statements. Its withdrawal can do the same. Join us in our campaign.
As of January 6, close to 2,700 people have signed the petition, which is available here.
In a January article at Gothamist.com, an article by Rebecca Fishbein titled “Celebrities, Activists Publish Anti-Fascist, Anti-Trump Ad In NY Times“ said, in part:
Rosie O’Donnell, Debra Messing, and a handful of celebrities and activists have joined forces with RefuseFascism.org, a Cornel West and Carl Dix-helmed group dedicated to opposing the incoming Trump Administration and calling Trump’s presidency “illegitimate.”
The group took out a full page ad in the Times yesterday calling for a month long resistance effort against Trump: [facsimile of the ad is included]
Refuse Fascism is also asking for donations to help reprint the Times ad in papers across the country, as well as “to support volunteers going to D.C., to produce millions of copies of Refuse Fascism material and get them out everywhere, and to support organizers and speakers.”
It’s a noble cause, and there’s nothing wrong with celebrities speaking out. Influential people should be speaking out against Trump, and advocating activism, and fighting him at every turn....
Rafael Jesús González, poet and Professor Emeritus of Creative Writing & Literature, has taught at the University of Oregon, Western State College of Colorado, Central Washington State University, the University of Texas El Paso, and Laney College, Oakland where he founded the Mexican and Latin American Studies Dept. In a New Year’s Eve blog post, González wrote of Donald Trump:
Shall I repeat the litany of his faults—his misogyny, his racism, his homophobia, his bigotry, his profound ignorance? His analysis, his description, his judgment of anything does not go beyond stock superlatives; he knows nothing of ideas, much less policy, not an iota of science. “I am a business man,” he says proudly as if that justified all his conniving, his dishonesty, his thievery. Should we doubt it, he has his billions to prove it. So the empire now gets its own, homegrown Caligula. Sociopathic megalomaniac, he too may come to declare himself divine. True, we have been governed by criminals before (can one govern an empire and not be criminal?), but this is a case apart.
It is the cruelty I fear, the utter heartlessness in the face of suffering, the willingness, nay, the intent to cause suffering and pain. Nor compassion nor justice is a hallmark of the 1%, the Republican Party he represents and that brought him to power. (Being a Democrat is no guarantee of decency, but it seems that a decent Republican is an oxymoron.) With Republican control of Congress, the Supreme Court, and the Executive (the proposed Cabinet reads like a Hitlerian wish-list), full-fledged U. S. fascism has come, a fascism prepared to destroy the Earth itself for the sake of wealth and power. Can it be called anything but madness?
He went on to write:
Democracy once lost is very hard to restore. Our resistance must be immediate and overwhelming, our love fierce, our joy protected. Our homes, our neighborhoods, our cities must be made bulwarks of justice, of refuge. Our schools sanctuary of freedom of thought and inquiry, our churches voices for justice rooted in compassion. Much is demanded of us and great may be the sacrifice, but if we all share it, it will be much, much less. Let us then take to the streets and public places dressed in our most joyful colors, making music with our drums and flutes, dragging our pianos out our doors if we must, dancing, singing, chanting, turning all our art into protest and celebration—and make our spaces truly our own.
Read the whole piece by Rafael Jesús González, titled “Thoughts for the Last Day of the Year 2016,” available in English and Spanish here.
More than 1,100 law school professors from across the country are behind a letter sent to the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, January 2, calling for the rejection of Trump’s nomination of Jeff Sessions for attorney general. The letter says (in full):
We are 1140 faculty members from 170 different law schools in 48 states across the country. We urge you to reject the nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions for the position of Attorney General of the United States.
In 1986, the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee, in a bipartisan vote, rejected President Ronald Reagan’s nomination of then-U.S. Attorney Sessions for a federal judgeship, due to statements Sessions had made that reflected prejudice against African Americans. Nothing in Senator Sessions’ public life since 1986 has convinced us that he is a different man than the 39-year-old attorney who was deemed too racially insensitive to be a federal district court judge.
Some of us have concerns about his misguided prosecution of three civil rights activists for voter fraud in Alabama in 1985, and his consistent promotion of the myth of voter-impersonation fraud. Some of us have concerns about his support for building a wall along our country’s southern border. Some of us have concerns about his robust support for regressive drug policies that have fueled mass incarceration. Some of us have concerns about his questioning of the relationship between fossil fuels and climate change. Some of us have concerns about his repeated opposition to legislative efforts to promote the rights of women and members of the LGBTQ community. Some of us share all of these concerns.
All of us believe it is unacceptable for someone with Senator Sessions’ record to lead the Department of Justice.
The Attorney General is the top law enforcement officer in the United States, with broad jurisdiction and prosecutorial discretion, which means that, if confirmed, Jeff Sessions would be responsible for the enforcement of the nation’s civil rights, voting, immigration, environmental, employment, national security, surveillance, antitrust, and housing laws.
As law faculty who work every day to better understand the law and teach it to our students, we are convinced that Jeff Sessions will not fairly enforce our nation’s laws and promote justice and equality in the United States. We urge you to reject his nomination.
To read the statement with list of signatories go here.
When the book publisher Simon & Schuster recently signed Milo Yiannopoulos, writer for Breitbart News Network, to a $250,000 book deal for the Threshold imprint, there was immediate outrage. Breitbart is a neo-Nazi, misogynistic, white-supremacist website whose former owner, Steve Bannon, is now Trump’s chief strategist and senior counselor. As technology editor at Breitbart, Yiannopoulos promoted the vicious campaign known as “GamerGate,” a flood of viciously degrading attacks and terroristic threats against the very small number of prominent women in the video-game development community. Among the despicable things he’s written is: “...Donald Trump and the rest of the alpha males will continue to dominate the internet without feminist whining. It will be fun! Like a big fraternity...” And Yiannopoulos was banned from Twitter this summer after his followers mounted a racist harassment campaign against Black comedian/actor Leslie Jones.
After the Simon & Schuster signing of Yiannopoulos, the Chicago Review of Books tweeted:
In response to this disgusting validation of hate, we will not cover a single @simonschuster book in 2017.
A bookstore in Dublin, Ireland, tweeted that it would not be carrying any Simon & Schuster titles:
Sometimes it’s a tough call for bookshops between respecting free speech and not promoting hate speech. Sometimes not. Byebye
Writer Danielle Henderson’s memoir is scheduled for publication by Simon & Schuster next year. Henderson wrote in a series of tweets:
I’m looking at my @simonschuster contract, and unfortunately there’s no clause for “what if we decide to publish a white nationalist”
But know this: i’m well aware of what hill I am willing to die on, and my morals and values are at the top of that list.
I will happily go back to slinging coffee—I’m not afraid to stand for what I believe in, and I make a MEAN cappuccino foam
Comedian Sara Silverman tweeted:
The guy has freedom of speech but to fund him & give him a platform tells me a LOT about @simonschuster YUCK AND BOO AND GROSS
Shannon Coulter, a marketing specialist who started a campaign to boycott Ivanka Trump products, tweeted (“@Lesdoggg” is Leslie Jones’ Twitter handle):
@simonschuster are you concerned $250k book deal you gave Milo Yiannopoulos will read as condoning the racist harassment @Lesdoggg endured?
The January 2 announcement that Talladega College, a historically Black college in Alabama, would send its marching band to be part of Trump’s inauguration march was met with immediate outrage from many students and alumni. Nikky Finney, a poet whose 2011 work Head Off & Split won the National Book Award, is an alumna of Talladega and currently a chair in creative writing and Southern Studies at the University of South Carolina. Finney said of Talladega’s decision:
The news that Talladega College has forgotten its steady and proud 150 years of history, by making the decision to not stand in solidarity with other clear-eyed and courageous people, academic institutions, and organizations, protesting the inauguration of one of the most antagonistic, hatred-spewing, unrepentant racists, has simply and unequivocally broken my heart today. Historical Black colleges are duty bound to have and keep a moral center and be of great moral consciousness while also teaching its students lessons about life that they will need going forward, mainly, that just because a billionaire—who cares nothing about their 150 years of American existence—invites them to a fancy, gold-plated, dress-up party, they have the moral right and responsibility to say “no thank you,” especially when the blood, sweat, and tears and bodies, of black, brown, and native people are stuffed in the envelope alongside the RSVP.
This should have been a teachable moment for the President of Talladega College instead it has become a moment of divisiveness and shame. Bags of money and the promise of opportunity have always been waved in front of the faces and lives of struggling human beings, who have historically been relegated to the first-fired and the last-hired slots of life. It has been used to separate us before. It has now been used to separate us again.
Speaking about Trump after his election victory, Stan Van Gundy, coach of the National Basketball Association (NBA) Detroit Pistons, said in part:
We have just thrown a good part of our population under the bus, and I have problems with thinking that this is where we are as a country. It’s tough on [the team], we noticed it coming in. Everybody was a little quiet, and I thought, “Well, maybe the game the other night.” [The Pistons were badly beaten in the game that night.] And so we talked about that, but then Aron Baynes said, “I don’t think that’s why everybody’s quiet. It’s last night.”
It’s just, we have said—and my daughters, the three of them—our society has said, “No, we think you should be second-class citizens. We want you to be second-class citizens. And we embrace a guy who is openly misogynistic as our leader.” I don’t know how we get past that.
Martin Luther King said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but bends toward justice.” I would have believed in that for a long time, but not today.... What we have done to minorities... in this election is despicable. I’m having a hard time dealing with it. This isn’t your normal candidate. I don’t know even know if I have political differences with him. I don’t even know what are his politics. I don’t know, other than to build a wall and “I hate people of color, and women are to be treated as sex objects and as servants to men.” I don’t know how you get past that. I don’t know how you walk into the booth and vote for that. I understand problems with the economy. I understand all the problems with Hillary Clinton, I do. But certain things in our country should disqualify you. And the fact that millions and millions of Americans don’t think that racism and sexism disqualifies you to be our leader, in our country....
We presume to tell other countries about human-rights abuses and everything else. We better never do that again, when our leaders talk to China or anybody else about human-rights abuses. We just elected an openly, brazen misogynist leader and we should keep our mouths shut and realize that we need to be learning maybe from the rest of the world, because we don’t got anything to teach anybody...
To see a YouTube of Van Gundy’s remarks (along with another NBA coach, Gregg Popovich) go here.
Lawrence M. Krauss is a theoretical physicist and cosmologist who is Foundation Professor of the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University, and director of its Origins Project. He was one of the producers of the documentary film The Unbelievers, which promotes a scientific view of the world. An article by Krauss appeared in the December 13 issue of The New Yorker titled, “Donald Trump’s War on Science.” In this article Krauss says:
The first sign of Trump’s intention to spread lies about empirical reality, “1984”-style, was, of course, the appointment of Steve Bannon, the former executive chairman of the Breitbart News Network, as Trump’s “senior counselor and strategist.” This year, Breitbart hosted stories with titles such as “1001 Reasons Why Global Warming Is So Totally Over in 2016,” despite the fact that 2016 is now overwhelmingly on track to be the hottest year on record, beating 2015, which beat 2014, which beat 2013. Such stories do more than spread disinformation. Their purpose is the creation of an alternative reality—one in which scientific evidence is a sham—so that hyperbole and fearmongering can divide and conquer the public.
Bannon isn’t the only propagandist in the new Administration: Myron Ebell, who heads the transition team at the Environmental Protection Agency, is another. In the aughts, as a director at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, he worked to kill a cap-and-trade bill proposed by Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman; in 2012, when the conservative American Enterprise Institute held a meeting about the economics of a possible carbon tax, he asked donors to defund it. It’s possible, of course, to oppose cap-and-trade or carbon taxes in good faith—and yet, in recent years, Ebell’s work has come to center on lies about science and scientists. Today, as the leader of the Cooler Heads Coalition, an anti-climate-science group, Ebell denies the veracity and methodology of science itself. He dismisses complex computer models that have been developed by hundreds of researchers by saying that they “don’t even pass the laugh test.” If Ebell’s methods seem similar to those used by the tobacco industry to deny the adverse health effects of smoking in the nineteen-nineties, that’s because he worked as a lobbyist for the tobacco industry.
When Ebell’s appointment was announced, Jeremy Symons, of the Environmental Defense Fund, said, “I got a sick feeling in my gut.... I can’t believe we got to the point when someone who is as unqualified and intellectually dishonest as Myron Ebell has been put in a position of trust for the future of the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the climate we are going to leave our kids.” Symons was right to be apprehensive: on Wednesday, word came that Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma’s attorney general, will be named the head of the E.P.A. As Jane Mayer has written, it would be hard to find a public official in the United States who is more closely tied to the oil-and-gas industry and who has been more actively opposed to the efforts of the E.P.A. to regulate the environment. In a recent piece for National Review, Pruitt denied the veracity of climate science; he has led the effort among Republican attorneys general to work directly with the fossil-fuel industry in resisting the Clean Air Act. In 2014, a Times investigation found that letters from Pruitt’s office to the E.P.A. and other government agencies had been drafted by energy lobbyists; right now, he is involved in a twenty-eight-state lawsuit against the very agency that he has been chosen to head...
And the Trump Administration is on course to undermine science in another way: through education. Educators have various concerns about Betsy DeVos, Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education—they object to her efforts to shield charter schools from government regulation, for example—but one issue stands above the rest: DeVos is a fundamentalist Christian with a long history of opposition to science. If her faith shapes her policies—and there is evidence that it will—she could shape science education decisively for the worse, by systematically depriving young people, in an era where biotechnology will play a key economic and health role worldwide, of a proper understanding of the very basis of modern biology: evolution....
Taken singly, Trump’s appointments are alarming. But taken as a whole they can be seen as part of a larger effort to undermine the institution of science, and to deprive it of its role in the public-policy debate. Just as Steve Bannon undermines the institution of a fact-based news media, so appointments like Ebell, Pruitt, McMorris Rodgers, Walker, and DeVos advance the false perception that science is just a politicized tool of “the élites.”
...It is not only scientists who should actively fight against this dangerous trend. It is everyone who is concerned about our freedom, health, welfare, and security as a nation—and everyone who is concerned about the planetary legacy we leave for our children.
To read the whole article go here.
Some members of the Mormon church are protesting the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing at Trump’s inauguration. A petition saying “Mormon Tabernacle Choir Should NOT Perform at Trump Inauguration” has now been signed by close to 19,000 people. It says in part: “As members and friends of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we strongly urge the Church to stop this practice and especially for an incoming president who has demonstrated sexist, racist, misogynistic, and xenophobic behavior that does not align with the principles and teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” The online petition can be found here.
After Trump nominated Alabama white supremacist and Senator Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, the American Constitution Society (ACS) at Harvard Law School—one of the most prestigious law schools in the world—wrote a letter to Trump opposing the nomination and began distributing it for signatures through ACS chapters across the country. As of December 22, it was signed by 1,060 law students from many different schools.
The letter points at some of Sessions’s outrageous record:
*“As a four-term member of the U.S. Senate, former Alabama Attorney General and U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama, Senator Sessions consistently opposed laws advancing civil rights, environmental protections, reproductive rights, criminal justice, voting rights, immigration and marriage equality.”
*“During the unsuccessful confirmation hearing [for federal judgeship in 1986], witnesses testified under oath that Sessions described a white civil rights attorney as a ‘race traitor’; referred to a black attorney as ‘boy’; and called the ACLU, NAACP, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, National Council of Churches and other groups ‘un-American organizations.’”
*“During the 1986 hearing, a former colleague also testified that Sessions stated that he believed the Ku Klux Klan was okay, until he learned its members smoked marijuana.”
The letter and signatories are online here.
National Nurses United (NNU) is the largest union of registered nurses in the United States. It recently organized a national network of volunteer RNs to go to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation to meet the first aid needs of thousands who were there to stop the Dakota Access oil pipeline. On December 22, the NNU sent a letter calling on the Senate to reject Trump’s nominee for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Tom Price.
According to a NNU press release, the letter says in part: “If confirmed, it is clear that Rep. Price will pursue policies that substantially erode our nation’s health and security—eliminating health coverage, reducing access, shifting more costs to working people and their families, and throwing our most sick and vulnerable fellow Americans at the mercy of the healthcare industry.”
Price has played a major role in attempts by Republicans to undercut or repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Obama’s healthcare law (see “Tom Price, Trump’s Pick for Health and Human Services: A Slasher of Healthcare for the Poor and Women“). The NNU letter says: “Even today, four years after enactment of the Affordable Care Act, we have seen a drop in U.S. life expectancy rates for the first time in decades, millions of people who self-ration prescription medications or other critical medical treatment due to the high out-of-pocket costs, and continuing disparities in our health care system based on race, gender, age, socio-economic status, or where you live.
“While our organization repeatedly voiced concerns that the ACA did not go far enough, repealing the law, especially the expansion of Medicaid which extended health care coverage to millions of low and moderate income adults, and limits on some of the most chronicled abuses in our present insurance based system, would only exacerbate a healthcare crisis many Americans continue to experience...”
Read the NNU press release here.
On November 29, the American Medical Association (AMA), which represents about a quarter of doctors in the U.S., issued a statement saying that it “strongly supports” Trump’s nomination to head the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Tom Price, and calling on the Senate to “promptly consider and confirm” him for the position.
In response, three physicians from the University of Pennsylvania—Drs. Manik Chhabra, Navin Vij and Jane Zhu—posted a statement online opposing the Trump nominee. The statement has been signed by over 5,500 doctors as of December 16.
Their statement, “The AMA Does Not Speak for Us,” says in part:
We are practicing physicians who deliver healthcare in hospitals and clinics, in cities and rural towns; we are specialists and generalists, and we care for the poor and the rich, the young and the elderly. We see firsthand the difficulties that Americans face daily in accessing affordable, quality healthcare. We believe that in issuing this statement of support for Dr. Price, the AMA has reneged on a fundamental pledge that we as physicians have taken — to protect and advance care for our patients.
We support patient choice. But Dr. Price’s proposed policies threaten to harm our most vulnerable patients and limit their access to healthcare. We cannot support the dismantling of Medicaid, which has helped 15 million Americans gain health coverage since 2014. We oppose Dr. Price’s proposals to reduce funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, a critical mechanism by which poor children access preventative care. We wish to protect essential health benefits like treatment for opioid use disorder, prenatal care, and access to contraception.
We see benefits in market-based solutions to some of our healthcare system’s challenges. Like many others, we advocate for improvements in the way healthcare is delivered. But Dr. Price purports to care about efficiency, while opposing innovations by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid to improve value and eliminate waste in healthcare. He supports plans to privatize Medicare, a critical program which covers 44 million of our elderly patients.
The AMA’s vision statement includes “improving health outcomes” and “better health for all,” and yet by supporting Dr. Price’s candidacy — and therefore, his views — the AMA has not aligned itself with the well-being of patients.
For the complete statement and list of signatories, go here.
Merrill Miller is associate editor of TheHumanist.com and Communications Associate at the American Humanist Association. The January/February 2017 issue of the Humanist includes an article by Miller titled, “Who Will We Speak For? Humanism’s Role in Defending Human Rights and Civil Liberties.” The piece starts with the famous quote from Protestant pastor Martin Niemöller, who spent seven years in one of Hitler’s concentration camps, about how he had not spoken out when the Nazis attacked different sections of the people until there was no one left to speak for him.
Miller writes: “For many humanists and those in the progressive community at large, these past weeks have, in some ways, felt like decades. We’ve seen Hillary Clinton win the popular vote for president by an enormous margin and still lose the Electoral College to Donald Trump, who is now president-elect. We’ve seen Stephen Bannon, who fueled the fires of racism, sexism, and bigotry in his time at Breitbart News, named as a chief strategist for the Trump administration, as climate change deniers and individuals with no respect for church-state separation (Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, for one) are being nominated or considered for other top positions. We’ve heard talk of legislation that would chip away at our constitutional right to free, peaceable assembly, such as Washington State Senator Doug Ericksen’s bill to classify street protests as a form of ‘economic terrorism’...
“Humanists are in a unique position to demonstrate outrage...We must harness that capacity for outrage now—not just to defend church-state separation but to protect all of our basic human rights and civil liberties.
“We can start by directing that outrage at the notion that the government would profile and register people based on their race and religion, as the Muslim registry would do. While current discussions of this registry would focus on immigrants, Trump said during his campaign that he would require all Muslims to register, presumably including US citizens. Humanist groups should reach out to their local mosques and Islamic community centers and ask them what their community needs are and how to help...
“Now is the time for us to stand in solidarity with those who face oppression, whether they are undocumented immigrants in danger of losing their basic human dignity or women in danger of losing their hard-won reproductive rights. We must stand up for all people of color and LGBTQ individuals, who are terrified by the bigotry unleashed by Trump’s campaign and his coming presidency. We must stand up for healthcare for the elderly and for everyone in our nation or else more than 22 million people (as estimated by Vox) will be without it, even though a national, single-payer healthcare system should be considered a human right. We must stand with the labor movement to fight for economic justice for all low-wage workers, whose rights will be threatened by Republican-controlled executive, legislative, and judiciary branches of government. We must do all that we can to protect these and other vulnerable communities and individuals, because the very foundations of our democracy, our civil liberties, and our human rights are at stake. If humanists and nontheists don’t speak up for these marginalized groups while we can, there is a distinct possibility that when we’re specifically threatened, there will be no one left to speak for us.”
To read the full article go here.
Apparently Donald Trump is a fan of the famous Italian opera tenor Andrea Bocelli. When word went out that Trump had approached Bocelli to perform at his inauguration, and there were reports that Bocelli had tentatively agreed (which, if true, is utterly shameful), there was a huge uproar of protest from Bocelli’s fans. Some threatened to #BoycottBocelli if he decided to sing on January 20. Here are a few tweets, among many: “Dumped @AndreaBocelli CD’s in trash, won’t be buying tickets to Feb. Orlando concert after all. DONE with him. Will #boycottBocelli forever.” “Please accept the inauguration offer because the Klu Klux Klan makes great fans!” “Contact @AndreaBocelli's booking agent & manager to warn of #BoycottBocelli if he sings for fascist Trump.” One fan wrote on Facebook: “Mr Bocelli, please do not sing for Donald Trump. He stands for racism, misogyny, and hatred of others. Music is beautiful, sacred. Don’t let this man buy you and desecrate art, hope, and beauty.”
In the face of the outrage from so many of his fans, Bocelli announced he would not be performing at the inauguration. Trump’s people claimed that they had rescinded the invitation.
Earlier, in the summer, the widow and daughters of another famous Italian tenor, Luciano Pavarotti, asked Trump to stop using his recording of Puccini’s aria “Nessun Dorma” at his campaign events. They said that “the values of brotherhood and solidarity which Luciano Pavarotti expressed throughout the course of his artistic career are entirely incompatible with the worldview offered by the candidate Donald Trump.”
Sunshine Sachs is a PR agency that represents stars like Leonardo DiCaprio, Ben Affleck and Natalie Portman. Every year they usually hold a big holiday party, on both the East and West coasts. But this year they didn’t feel the usual “holiday cheer.” CEO Shawn Sachs said, “However I felt the morning after [Trump was elected] was nothing compared to how I felt talking to people in this office, those who felt their citizenship—in a matter of moments—was gone or had been lessened... Being the diverse workplace we are, many of us felt under assault.” So Sunshine Sachs cancelled its annual bicoastal holiday celebrations, and will donate the money that would have been spent for the lavish galas to 16 different organizations, including the ACLU, the Human Rights Campaign, the Environmental Defense Fund and Planned Parenthood. The agency sent out an email saying their decision was a gesture to “defend the values we hold dear.”
Responding to Trump saying he wants to “strengthen and expand” the nuclear capabilities of the U.S., actor George Takei tweeted on Thursday, December 22: “Trump wants to expand our nuclear arsenal. I think of my aunt and baby cousin, found burnt in a ditch in Hiroshima. These weapons must go.”
Takei and his family spent years in one of the U.S. concentration (“internment”) camps for people of Japanese descent during World War 2. In his November 18 op-ed for the Washington Post titled, “They interned my family. Don’t let them do it to Muslims,” Takei wrote:
“During World War II, the government argued that military authorities could not distinguish between alleged enemy elements and peaceful, patriotic Japanese Americans. It concluded, therefore, that all those of Japanese descent, including American citizens, should be presumed guilty and held without charge, trial or legal recourse, in many cases for years. The very same arguments echo today, on the assumption that a handful of presumed radical elements within the Muslim community necessitate draconian measures against the whole, all in the name of national security....
“Let us all be clear: ‘National security’ must never again be permitted to justify wholesale denial of constitutional rights and protections. If it is freedom and our way of life that we fight for, our first obligation is to ensure that our own government adheres to those principles. Without that, we are no better than our enemies.
“Let us also agree that ethnic or religious discrimination cannot be justified by calls for greater security....”
In a December 8 interview on CNN, Takei said that during World War 2, before they were sent to an internment camp, his family was placed on a registry of Japanese Americans and subjected to a curfew: “We were confined to our homes from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. in the morning, imprisoned in our homes at night. Then they froze our bank accounts. We were economically paralyzed. Then the soldiers came... I remember the two soldiers walking up our driveway, marching up our driveway, shiny bayonets on the rifle, stopping at the front porch and with their fists started banging on the front door and that sound resonated throughout the house....”
Takei connected that history to what is happening today: “It is an echo of what we heard from World War II coming from Trump himself. That sweeping statement characterizing all Muslims. There are more than a billion Muslims in this world. To infer they are all terrorists with that kind of sweeping statement is outrageous, in the same way that they characterized all Japanese Americans as enemy aliens.”
At the Nobel Prize ceremony in Stockholm, Sweden, singer Patti Smith performed a moving tribute to Bob Dylan, the winner of this year’s laureate for literature. She chose to sing one of Dylan’s songs—“A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall,” released in 1963, a time when the civil rights movement and anti-Vietnam War protests were a sign of the times.
Check out the performance here:
The final stanza, especially, resonates very powerfully today:
“And what’ll you do now, my blue-eyed son?
And what’ll you do now, my darling young one?
I’m a-goin’ back out ’fore the rain starts a-fallin’
I’ll walk to the depths of the deepest black forest
Where the people are many and their hands are all empty
Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters
Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison
And the executioner’s face is always well hidden
Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten
Where black is the color, where none is the number
And I’ll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it
And reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it
Then I’ll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin’
But I’ll know my song well before I start singin’
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall.”
At a December 7 rally in Washington, DC, to support striking federal workers, actor Danny Glover criticized people who say Trump should be given “a chance.” Glover said, “Give him a chance what? We know who he is. We know exactly who he is. We have to accept that. But we have to fight him every inch. We have to fight him every moment.”
Time magazine had just come with their annual “Person of the Year” issue with Trump on the cover. Glover said, “It’s irresponsible to make him Person of the Year. Based on what? Based on the fact that he won the Electoral College? Based on the fact that he lied to people? Based on the fact that all the stories of all he’s done to women and what he thinks about women? Based on his racism? A racist as Person of the Year? I’m appalled, I’m appalled. I’m angry now that Time magazine would name this person Person of the Year. It’s incredible.” He said this was a “slap in our face” and “the most disrespectful thing.”
Actor and TV personality Rosie O’Donnell has been calling on people to stand up against Trump in a number of recent tweets. In response to someone who tweeted, “we need to organize an anti-Trump inauguration,” O’Donnell tweeted: “no one go – film urself – periscope STANDING keep saying ‘NOT MY PRESIDENT – LIFE – WITH MILLIONS OF OTHERS.” She also wrote “its called STAY HOME – DO NOT WATCH IT.” And she quoted from writer and journalist Norman Cousins: “There is nothing more powerful than an individual acting out of conscience.”
On November 15, IBM Corporation CEO, Ginni Rometty, published an open letter to Donald Trump, offering the tech giant’s cooperation to “advance a national agenda” and offering “ideas that I believe will help achieve the aspiration you articulated” in his Election-night acceptance speech.
The following week, Elizabeth Wood, a senior content specialist in IBM Marketing, wrote her own open letter, denouncing Rometty’s shameless offer to collaborate with the new fascist regime, and resigning from her position.
Wood’s letter said (all emphasis in original):
“Your letter offered the backing of IBM’s global workforce in support of his agenda that preys on marginalized people and threatens my well-being as a woman, a Latina and a concerned citizen. The company’s hurry to do this was a tacit endorsement of his position. ...
“The president-elect has demonstrated contempt for immigrants, veterans, people with disabilities, Black, Latinx, Jewish, Muslim and LGBTQ communities. These groups comprise a growing portion of the company you lead, Ms. Rometty. ...
“When the president-elect follows through on his repeated threats to create a public database of Muslims, what will IBM do? Your letter neglects to mention.1
Read Wood’s entire letter here.
Wood’s action inspired others at IBM to stand up. In early December, 10 current IBM employees started a petition to Rometty insisting that IBM has “a moral and business imperative to uphold the pillars of a free society by declining any projects which undermine liberty, such as surveillance tools threatening freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom from unreasonable search and seizure,” and that “history teach[es] us that accommodating those who unleash forces of aggressive nationalism, bigotry, racism, fear, and exclusion inevitably yields devastating outcomes for millions of innocents.”2 And they specifically demand that IBM execs respect the right of individual employees to “refuse participation in any U.S. contracts that violate constitutional and civil liberties.”
The petition circulated privately at first, and went public on December 19. It now has at least 500 signatories—employees, former employees, IBM stockholders and others in the tech community. The petition is available online here.
1. On December 16, after Wood’s letter was published, as well as a statement from at least 800 tech workers saying they would refuse to work on such a Muslim registry, IBM, as well as Google, Apple and Uber, all told BuzzFeed that they also would refuse. [back]
2. This history includes the fact that IBM put its precursor to the computer—the IBM punch card sorter system—at the service of Hitler’s genocide of Jewish people. In IBM and the Holocaust, Edwin Black writes: “IBM Germany, using its own staff and equipment, designed, executed, and supplied the indispensable technologic assistance Hitler's Third Reich needed to accomplish what had never been done before—the automation of human destruction. More than 2,000 such multi-machine sets were dispatched throughout Germany, and thousands more throughout German-dominated Europe. Card sorting machines were established in every major concentration camp. People were moved from place to place, systematically worked to death, and their remains cataloged with icy automation.” [back]
On January 15, writers across the U.S. and other countries are holding Writers Resist events to “focus public attention on the ideals of a free, just, and compassionate society.” The “flagship” event on that day is slated for New York City and is co-sponsored by the writers’ group PEN America. It is described on the PEN America website as a “literary protest” that will be held on the steps of the New York City Library at 5th Avenue and 42nd Street in Manhattan “to defend free expression, reject hate crimes and uphold truth in the face of lies and misinformation.”
The protest “will bring together hundreds of writers and artists and thousands of New Yorkers on the birthday of civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. American poet laureates Robert Pinsky and Rita Dove will each offer hope and inspiration with original ‘inaugural’ poems written for the occasion.”
And, “After the readings and performances, a group of PEN America leaders and any who wish to join will walk the blocks to Trump Tower together to present PEN America’s free expression pledge on the First Amendment signed by over 110,000 individuals to a member of the President-elect’s team. We are confident the reading at the library and the subsequent march, as two distinct but powerful events to uphold free expression and human rights for all, will be powerful.”
According to Writers Resist organizers, in addition to NYC, January15 events are planned for “Houston, Austin, New Orleans, Seattle, Spokane, Los Angeles, London, Zurich, Boston, Omaha, Kansas City, Jacksonville, Madison, Milwaukee, Bloomington, Baltimore, Oakland, Tallahassee, Newport, Santa Fe, Salt Lake, and Portland (Oregon AND Maine) and many other cities.”
For more on the protest and participants, go here.
An online letter by a group of women scientists against Trump’s attacks on science and on his hateful poison directed at different sections of the people has gathered over 11,000 signatures from around the world as of December 23. In an article published by Scientific American, ecologist Kelly Ramirez said that, after the Trump-Pence victory, she and a small group of scientist friends began discussing “how can we take action?” On November 17, they posted their letter with signatures of 500 women scientists.
The letter begins: “Science is foundational in a progressive society, fuels innovation, and touches the lives of every person on this planet. The anti-knowledge and anti-science sentiments expressed repeatedly during the U.S. presidential election threaten the very foundations of our society. Our work as scientists and our values as human beings are under attack. We fear that the scientific progress and momentum in tackling our biggest challenges, including staving off the worst impacts of climate change, will be severely hindered under this next U.S. administration. Our planet cannot afford to lose any time.
“In this new era of anti-science and misinformation, we as women scientists re-affirm our commitment to build a more inclusive society and scientific enterprise. We reject the hateful rhetoric that was given a voice during the U.S. presidential election and which targeted minority groups, women, LGBTQIA [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual], immigrants, and people with disabilities, and attempted to discredit the role of science in our society. Many of us feel personally threatened by this divisive and destructive rhetoric and have turned to each other for understanding, strength, and a path forward. We are members of racial, ethnic, and religious minority groups. We are immigrants. We are people with disabilities. We are LGBTQIA. We are scientists. We are women.”
The letter outlines a number of actions that the signers pledge to take “to increase diversity in science and other disciplines.” The complete letter (available in English, Spanish, Portuguese, German, French, Dutch, and Farsi), signatories, and other related information is available online here.
Elizabeth George is a U.S.-based writer of mystery novels set in Great Britain. She is widely known for her series of books featuring Inspector Thomas Lynley. In a recent post titled “Mea Culpa” on her website, part of a series of essays on the 2016 elections, George wrote in part: “...what I cannot forgive is the effort being made on all sides to normalize what is going on, to say ‘let’s give him a chance.’ To this I say that, for me, what’s going on is not the new normal. So far and at the time of my writing this, Donald Trump has given cabinet positions to two of his billionaire friends, has chosen a Wall Street bigwig from Goldman Sachs to head the Treasury Department, has selected a foe not only of women’s rights to choose but also of insurance supplied contraception as his head of Health and Human Services, has chosen a racist as his attorney general, has chosen a climate-change denying non-scientist to head the EPA, has chosen a woman who sank the educational system in Detroit to be the head of the Department of Education.... If at some horrible point in the future, Muslims are told that they must register, I intend to register as a Muslim and I encourage everyone else to do the same. I will not ever accept what’s going on right now in the US as the new normal.”
She closes the essay with: “Normal is actually standing for something and drawing a line in the sand across which racial hatred, religious intolerance, sexual aggression, misogyny, fascism, Nazism, white supremacy, Hitler salutes, the Ku Klux Klan, and LGBTQ persecution dare not cross.
“That’s the new normal, that’s the old normal, and that’s the only normal that I will ever accept or support.”
Read the whole piece by Elizabeth George here.
Ariel Dorfman is a Chilean-American playwright, novelist, human rights activist and an emeritus professor of literature at Duke University. In an op-ed titled “Now, America, You Know How Chileans Felt” that appeared in the New York Times on December 17, Dorfman describes how after Salvador Allende had won the presidential election in 1970, U.S. President Richard Nixon and the CIA worked to undermine the results, including the assassination of a general who stood in the way of the U.S. plans. When the U.S. was not able to block Allende’s inauguration, “American intelligence services, at Henry A. Kissinger’s behest, continued to assail our sovereignty, sabotaging our prosperity (‘make the economy scream,’ Nixon ordered) and fostering military unrest. Finally, on Sept. 11, 1973, Allende was ousted, replaced by a vicious dictatorship that lasted nearly 17 years. Years of torture, executions, disappearances and exile.”
Dorfman notes the irony of the CIA “now crying foul because its tactics have been imitated by a powerful international rival,” referring to allegations of Russian interference in U.S. elections. He writes that when Donald Trump dismisses those allegations, “he is bizarrely echoing the very responses that so many Chileans got in the early ’70s when we accused the C.I.A. of illegal intervention in our internal affairs.” And Dorman writes, “The United States cannot in good faith decry what has been done to its citizens until it is ready to face what it did so often to the equally decent citizens of other nations. And it must resolve never to engage in such imperious activities again.”
Ariel Dorfman’s piece is online here.
On December 13, a group of people who work in tech organizations and companies based in the U.S. issued a strong statement pledging “solidarity with Muslim Americans, immigrants, and all people whose lives and livelihoods are threatened by the incoming administration’s proposed data collection policies.” They said they refuse to build databases of people based on their religious beliefs and to facilitate mass deportations. Their statement was also in defiance of top execs from major tech companies like Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Tesla, and Alphabet (Google), who a day earlier met with Trump, adding to the efforts to normalize fascism.
The statement says: “We have educated ourselves on the history of threats like these, and on the roles that technology and technologists played in carrying them out. We see how IBM collaborated to digitize and streamline the Holocaust, contributing to the deaths of six million Jews and millions of others. We recall the internment of Japanese Americans during the Second World War. We recognize that mass deportations precipitated the very atrocity the word genocide was created to describe: the murder of 1.5 million Armenians in Turkey. We acknowledge that genocides are not merely a relic of the distant past—among others, Tutsi Rwandans and Bosnian Muslims have been victims in our lifetimes.
“Today we stand together to say: not on our watch, and never again.”
As of the evening of December 14 the statement has close to 800 signers. The statement and other resources are available here.
"People often compare the ascendance of Trump and his cabinet of deplorables to the rise of the Nazis—taking momentary refuge in the fact that 1933 Germany didn't have the nuclear option. Apropos of Trump's take on flag burning, one of the first things Hitler did as chancellor was to rescind freedom of speech, assembly, the press. . . Then the arrest of political opponents, the forcing of Jews to register their property, wear Stars of David. Remember those "good" Germans, who may have lamented, but went along because they could—because they still fit in to what remained normal?'
Read the entire article here
...In this bleak moment, we must inspire each other driven by a democratic soulcraft of integrity, courage, empathy and a mature sense of history – even as it seems our democracy is slipping away.
We must not turn away from the forgotten people of US foreign policy – such as Palestinians under Israeli occupation, Yemen's civilians killed by US-sponsored Saudi troops or Africans subject to expanding US military presence.
As one whose great family and people survived and thrived through slavery, Jim Crow and lynching, Trump's neofascist rhetoric and predictable authoritarian reign is just another ugly moment that calls forth the best of who we are and what we can do.
For us in these times, to even have hope is too abstract, too detached, too spectatorial. Instead we must be a hope, a participant and a force for good as we face this catastrophe.
Read entire statement here
On November 30, in the middle of a song they were performing at Palacio de los Deportes in Mexico City, the band Guns N’ Roses cut the music and brought a giant piñata of Donald Trump onstage. According to an online TIME magazine report, Axl Rose, the band’s front man, said, “Let’s bring up some people and give them a fucking stick... Express yourselves however you feel.” Fans got up on the stage and began swinging at the piñata.
On election night, while making my way through a crowd gathered outside the Fox News headquarters in Midtown Manhattan, a white man wearing a Mets cap patted my back and said through the noise: "Get ready to be deported." Rattled, I made it inside the green room and waited to go on the air.
I am an undocumented immigrant. I outed myself in a very public way in The New York Times in 2011, and since then have appeared regularly on cable news programs, especially on Fox, to humanize the very political and polarizing issue of immigration ...
What will you do when they start rounding us up?
Read entire article here
As I've headed to work in recent days to see abortion patients in my office, I have felt bereft: All the premises of my life, work, education, and future were gone. Something very profound in the meaning of the America I know has been destroyed with the election of Donald J. Trump as president ...
Under an unrestrained Donald Trump and this Republican Congress, I fear for my life, I fear for my family, and I fear for my future. I fear for my staff and my patients.
Even more, I fear for my country, and I fear for the world.
Read entire article here
In a December 1 article for the Washington Post online edition, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar calls for resistance against Trump. Writing from his viewpoint of protecting this country’s “most sacred values,” Abdul-Jabbar criticizes others and their “hide-beneath-the-bed tactic”—like Jack Rosen, president of the American Jewish Congress, who says “we should take a look-and-see approach” and Black Entertainment Television founder and Hillary Clinton supporter Bob Johnson who said African Americans should give Trump “the benefit of the doubt.” He writes that the appointments Trump has been making already show that “these people and their contra-constitutional view are a clear and present danger” and calls for civil disobedience in different forms.
See Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s article here.
After the election of Trump, Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny called to congratulate him and ask whether the annual White House celebration of St. Patrick’s Day was still on. Irish Senator Aodhan O'Riordáin, fired off this response in the Irish Seanad (Senate):
Edmund Burke once said the only way evil can prosper is for good men to do nothing. American has just elected a fascist and the best thing that good people in Ireland can do is to ring him up and ask him if they can still bring the Shamrock on St. Patrick’s Day. I’m embarrassed about what the Irish government has done I can’t believe the reaction from the government. And I don’t use the word fascist lightly. What else would you call somebody threatens to imprison his political opponents? What else would you call somebody who threatens to not allow people of a certain religious faith into their country? What would you say, or how would you describe somebody who is threatening to deport 10 million people. What would you say about somebody who says that the media is rigged, the judiciary is rigged, the political system is rigged. And then he wins the election and the best we can come out with is a call to say is it still ok to bring the shamrock...I am frightened. I am frightened for what is happening in this world and in our inability to stand up to it. I want to ask you, leader, to ask the Minister of Foreign of Affairs into this house and ask him how we are supposed to deal with this monster who has just been elected president of America because I don’t think any of us in years to come should look back on this period and say we didn’t do everything in our power to call it out for what it is.
See the whole speech below.
This Irish politician just said what many American leaders are too scared to say about Trump pic.twitter.com/Q2MeB815jz— NowThis (@nowthisnews) November 17, 2016
Andrew Sullivan is a well-known conservative writer and online commentator, currently a contributing editor to the New York magazine. We want to bring to our readers’ attention a November 9 online article by Sullivan titled “The Republic Repeals Itself.” While we have differences with Sullivan overall and with this particular article in certain dimensions, we think he makes important points that are worthy of reflection.
Read Andrew Sullivan's piece here.
Revolution #479 February 20, 2017
Updated March 18, 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).
"This Is Not Normal"
Flagburner Gregory "Joey" Johnson speaking in San Francisco, December 10, 2016.
Protest of Dakota Access Pipeline at Standing Rock, December 10, Los Angeles. Photo: Special to revcom.us
Student walkout in Boston, December 5. Photo: Twitter/campuslately
Hundreds of A&M students with homemade placards and banners joined thousands of people to protest neo-Nazi (aka "alt-right") Richard Spencer, December 6. (AP photo)
December 7—Japanese American community groups led a protest in the Little Tokyo neighborhood of Los Angeles to oppose Trump's threats against Muslims and immigrants. Photo: Twitter/@josie_huang
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."
Revolution #479 February 20, 2017
February 20, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Resistance was a big theme at New York Fashion Week (February 9-16)—including many expressions of protest against Trump. Some snapshots:
The presentation from Collina Strada designer Hillary Taymour included models from countries on Trump's immigration ban list and others. Taymour said, "I first tried to cast only models from Trump-banned countries. It was surprisingly difficult, however, from there we started with selecting a wide range of models with different ethnic backgrounds, beliefs, ideologies, [all of whom] are fearful of the consequences during this presidential term.... As a second-generation Middle Eastern immigrant woman, who has had two abortions, and is known to date both genders, the Trump administration has opened my eyes to take action." [Vogue.com, February 17, 2017]
Designer Raul Solis had his new underwear on display—with the words "Fuck your wall," "No ban, no wall" written on the back of them. Solis said, "My family is first generation Mexican and some had to migrate to the U.S., [so] this issue is something extremely personal to me... I believe we all have a huge responsibility to speak up and take actions [with] whatever affects us directly. The fashion industry has always been a driving force in culture, changing the way we live and look."
White bandannas printed with the hashtag #TiedTogether appeared on the arms and around the necks of some models—meant as a sign of inclusivity and acceptance. The Creatures of Comfort collection included a graphic sweatshirt with the message, "We are all human beings."
The creative director of Milly, Michelle Smith, explained in a note the thinking behind her collection, which she called "Fractured": "During the time I was designing this collection, the world changed dramatically. The elections left me feeling defeated, especially as a woman. I now feel like I have to fight hard for all sorts of rights I once took for granted...I struggled for a while to find the right mood and look for this collection—all while it was right in front of me. Fractured."
The Council of Fashion Designers of America, which organizes New York Fashion Week, had launched a campaign with Planned Parenthood to raise awareness and support in the fashion industry for the organization which is under attack, and thousands of pink "Fashion Stands With Planned Parenthood" pins were passed out.
Designer Rio Uribe of Gypsy Sport began his show by saying, "The fall/winter '17 collection was inspired honestly by people who live on the street and just don't have much fashion in their life or any of the luxuries that we take for granted. ... I don't want anyone who is gay, or Muslim, or disabled, or mentally ill, or a veteran, or a drug addict, or a runaway to have to live on the street just because someone's not willing to give them a chance."
Public School had models of different nationalities taking the runway in hats that said, "Make America New York." Fashion designer Dao-Yi Chow explained, "We wish the rest of the States were like New York from an inclusivity standpoint, from a diversity standpoint, from an action standpoint... We just started talking about these man-made constructs to keep people from each other, at the same time envisioning this world where if you're a human being, you are a citizen of the world."
Designer Prabal Gurung closed his show with models wearing shirts that read: "The Future is Female," "I am an immigrant," "We will not be silenced," and "Girls just want to have fundamental rights." Gurung said he was inspired by the women's march in New York City, which he and models in his fashion show had participated in. He said, "We're living in this day and age and time when we are questioning, and should be questioning, what is our responsibility, our part, our action.... It's the right thing to do. That's how we all feel. It is basic human decency."
Revolution #479 February 20, 2017
February 20, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Melania Trump opened Donald Trump's big rally in Florida by saying "Let us pray" and then read "The Lord's Prayer." This prayer, with its words "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven," is embraced by most denominations of Christianity. And reading this prayer at this presidential rally casts the nearly 30 percent of the people in the U.S.—and the 68 percent of the world's population—who do NOT identify as Christians, as outsiders and basically as "infidels."
What does it tell you when the president of the United States is building a mass movement on an explicitly Christian basis, while actively spewing forth Islamophobia on a daily basis, remaining stunningly silent on rising incidents of anti-Semitism, and heavily staffing his administration with Christian fundamentalist lunatics and theocrats?
It tells you that a big part of what the Trumpites mean by “Make America Great” is imposing white supremacist Christian fundamentalism on society. And they are getting ready for their own Christian fundamentalist “Jihad,” against Islam as a whole, with potentially Earth-destroying potential... if they are not stopped.
Revolution #479 February 20, 2017
February 20, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
From a reader:
On February 12, the Trump White House sent Stephen Miller to make the rounds on the major Sunday morning network talk shows: This Week, Meet the Press, and Face the Nation. After a week of outrageous executive orders attacking immigrants, refugees, and others, of massive protest in response, and of mounting turmoil even within the ruling class, the Trump regime clearly saw this as a time to "reset terms" as to how things will go—for both the masses of people and their ruling class critics—in their new order. And it was UGLY!
Even if you spoke no English, Miller's tone and body language screamed "fascist bully," as he arrogantly talked down, talked over, and talked at the people interviewing him. The sense was that Miller was tolerating the journalists, for now.
Miller's hostility to journalists is bound up with the fascistic insistence that the news media echo whatever lies the regime spews forth, no matter how ridiculous. He told George Stephanopoulos on This Week, "George, it is a fact and you will not deny it, that there are massive numbers of non-citizens in this country who are registered to vote," [emphasis added], even though this is blatantly not a fact. He said adamantly that press secretary Sean Spicer, the official mouthpiece and front-line defender of Trump's constant stream of lies, "as always, is 100 percent correct," and that Trump too is "100 percent correct."
And Miller got visibly angry when pressed for evidence or substance. "Asked and answered" (that is, "I'm not going to answer you"), he repeated to Chuck Todd on Meet the Press when asked a question about national security adviser Michael Flynn getting caught publicly lying about his conversations with Russian diplomats. (Note: This was two days before Flynn was forced out of his post after admitting to lying.)
But this went way beyond tone, and beyond the attitude towards the press. Miller reveled in the massive power that the Trump cabal now has in its hands, and explicitly threatened and menaced the regime's foes with it.
Speaking about North Korea, but also clearly more than North Korea, Miller said on Face the Nation that "we're going to be sending another signal very soon, and that signal is when we begin a great rebuilding of the armed forces of the United States." Though U.S. armed forces are already far and away the largest in the history of the world, and the U.S. spends more on its military than the next seven or eight countries combined, Trump's aim is to build that up so that "we will have unquestioned military strength beyond anything anyone can imagine." Note the word "unquestioned" here—what this means is power so vast, coupled with a demonstrated willingness to unleash terrible destruction, that no one on the planet would dare say no to any demand of the U.S.
And this insistence on absolute submission to the regime's authority—the insistence that what they say goes, period—also applies to their foes within the U.S.
On Face the Nation, Miller was asked about the executive order that banned anyone from seven Muslim-majority nations from entering the U.S. This ban was met by fierce mass protest and resistance as well as opposition from sections of the U.S. bourgeoisie; and has been temporarily stayed by two federal courts on grounds that it violates basic tenets of the U.S. Constitution. Miller argued directly against the principle (which is fundamental to the bourgeois constitutional democracy established in the U.S. in the 18th century) that the courts have authority to rule on whether executive actions are constitutional or not. He insisted that, with respect to "national security" (which in their view is pretty much every possible issue), "the president has enormous powers" that cannot be checked by the courts, and "he's going to use that authority to keep us safe."
Then he was asked, "What have you all learned from this experience with the executive order?"
[W]e have a judiciary that has taken far too much power and become in many cases a supreme branch of government. ... The end result of this, though, is that our opponents, the media and the whole world will soon see, as we begin to take further actions, that the powers of the president to protect our country are very substantial and will not be questioned. [emphasis added]
Now put this together with Trump's statement that the judges who stayed his executive order will be responsible for any terrorist attack that occurs while the stay is in effect. Add to that Miller's comment on Sunday that Democratic congressmen who insist on at least going through the motions of hearings for Trump's cabinet appointees are "jeopardizing national security" and "public safety." And then think about how, on This Week, Miller spoke enthusiastically of having "the power to prevent crime before it happens by removing people who pose a threat" [emphasis added]
All of these things amount to a statement of intent to consolidate a straight-up fascist regime, where the authority of the infallible and beloved Führer (German for "leader")—Trump—is carried out unquestioningly by all in a society where disobedience to authority, or even questioning it, will be extremely dangerous. Miller's intent is to lay down the rules, and signal that this is coming very fast, that resistance is not only futile, but you will pay later for whatever you do now.
This should be taken extremely seriously for what it is. People who are saying that Miller (and/or Bannon or Trump himself) are just loud-mouthed hotheads who don't truly mean what they're saying; people who say that we should ride this out and set our sights on the 2018 elections; people who are thinking that these hard-core fascists who have been striving, in many cases, for decades to set up a regime and reorganize the whole world and who now wield vast power with which to do it... that these fascists will calmly walk away if it turns out that the majority of people don't care for what they are doing; all these people really do have to wake up and confront the reality of what we are up against.
Writing in his diary as Hitler's appointment as chancellor of Germany came within reach in 1933, the Nazi leader Joseph Goebbels wrote: "Once we have the power we will never give it up. They will have to carry our dead bodies out of the ministries." And he meant it, and humanity paid an almost unfathomable price.
This is exactly the outlook of the cabal that now holds power in the U.S.
Revolution #479 February 20, 2017
February 20, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
At a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Donald Trump said: "So, I'm looking at two-state and one-state and I like the one that both parties like. I'm very happy with the one that both parties like. I can live with either one. I thought for a while the two-state looked like it may be the easier of the two but honestly, if Bibi and if the Palestinians—if Israel and the Palestinians are happy, I'm happy with the one they like the best."
Despite the flippant tone, this was a major break with what has been U.S. policy for over 40 years. It has ominous and genocidal implications for the Palestinian people. And it intersects with a whole fascist agenda for U.S. (and Israeli) aggression around the world.
In short: The "two-state solution" promises to set up some kind of small, defenseless, discontinuous (broken up) "state" for the Palestinian people who were driven from their homeland by ethnic cleansing to create the state of Israel. It was never intended to end the oppression of the Palestinian people. The "one-state" solution, as embraced by Trump, is worse. It would further institutionalize the status of Palestinian people with even fewer rights than they have now. It would shut the door on Palestinian statehood of any kind, and rule out of order any aspirations of the Palestinian people for liberation. The whole terms of "two-state, one-state" are framed by maintaining Israel as an enforcer for the interests of the U.S. empire at a time of intense conflict between Western imperialism and fundamentalist Islamic Jihad.
In the interests of the Palestinian people, and humanity, this whole paradigm has to be broken out of.
Israel was established after World War II, through the ethnic cleansing of Palestine. In 1947 and 1948 alone, almost a million Palestinians (half the population at that time) were driven from their farms, villages and cities by massacres, bombing, rape and torture. They fled with only the possessions they could carry. (See "Bastion of Enlightenment... or Enforcer for Imperialism: The Case of ISRAEL.") Ever since, the world's global powers—through U.N. resolutions and other agreements—have promised the Palestinian people some kind of a "state." That never happened.
Today, all of Palestine is essentially occupied by Israel in different forms: land that has been declared part of Israel; land that is administered by the "Palestinian Authority" under the thumb of Israel; and land promised to the Palestinians but directly occupied by Israel (the "Occupied Territories").
The ethnic cleansing of Palestine and the ongoing and escalating genocide of the Palestinian people is a world-historic crime. No "solution" offered up by or serving the interest of the U.S. or Israel has, or could, in any fundamental way end the oppression of the Palestinian people, or change the fundamentally illegitimate nature of the state of Israel. And that includes any version of a "two-state solution."
The "two-state solution" as defined by Israel is not even a plan for a "state" at all. At the press conference, Netanyahu made clear the conditions Israel has set for such a "two-state solution." He said it would require "the recognition of the Jewish state and Israel's security control of the entire area." "Recognition of the Jewish state", means that whatever Palestinian entity agreed to this would accept the legitimacy Israel as a Jewish theocracy, with the overt legal enshrinement of second-class citizens for Palestinians (who are mainly Muslims, with a significant Christian minority). "Security control over the whole area," means Israel would be granted the right to impose a reign of terror on Palestinians in a defenseless "state."
And the terms of any "two-state solution" have further been defined "on the ground" by the rapid and vast expansion of Israeli "settlements" on lands that would have to be part of anything close to a viable Palestinian "state." These settlements have amounted to ongoing and escalating ethnic cleansing of Palestine by hundreds of thousands of heavily armed Israelis, backed by the violence of the Israeli government. And have been part of dividing Palestinian society into separated, walled off areas, locked down and isolated from each other.
The "two-state" paradigm does, at least formally, recognize the aspirations of the Palestinian people to self-determination. In tossing the "two-state solution" up in the air, and coming down with the "one-state solution." Trump signaled a green light for doing away with even that formal acknowledgement. It presages worse horrors—for a much more intense and rapid genocide against the Palestinian people.
This "one-state solution" would not grant formal equal rights (like one person, one vote) for Palestinians and Israelis. It would institutionalize extreme and overt discrimination in employment, education and other realms of society. However it was implemented, a "one-state solution" would formally disavow any accountability to international law that is supposed to protect the rights of occupied peoples.
A "one-state solution" would be a genocidal declaration that there is no Palestinian nation, and no Palestinian people. It would legitimize the genocidal myth that (before waves of Jewish people, overwhelmingly from Europe, settled there) Palestine was a "land without a people for a people without a land." Imposing a "one-state solution" would result in some form of South Africa-style apartheid, or something resembling the U.S. South under the old Jim Crow, in even more vicious forms than exist today.
A "one-state solution" would further institutionalize the status of Palestinian people as subjugated people in their homeland, with even less rights than they have now. It would be a further leap in ruling out of order the aspirations and struggle of the Palestinian people for liberation.
Every representative of the rulers of the U.S. and Israel—of all political stripes—will assert again and again that the U.S.-Israel alliance is a unique and special relationship. They're right. For five decades, Israel has been an essential enforcer of the interests of the U.S. empire not only in the Middle East, but also on every continent. As a nuclear-armed, high-tech military state, Israel holds the whole region under nuclear blackmail. Its army and agents carry out invasions, assassinations, and bombing raids against its neighbors, and beyond. In part, those actions are driven by Israel's own interests, but more fundamentally they serve the interests of the U.S. empire. (See "The U.S. ... Israel ... and Crimes Around the World.")
Right now U.S. imperialism is engaged in a ferocious clash with fundamentalist Islamic Jihad. This is a clash of two reactionary poles in the world. But from the perspective of the rulers of the U.S., this makes the "special relationship" with Israel more essential than ever. The U.S. has other allies in the region besides Israel, like Egypt and Saudi Arabia. But those regimes are unstable. They are hated by the great majority of the people in those countries. And they are threatened by fundamentalist Islamic Jihadists. On the other hand, the Zionist rulers of Israel have a large, and (at this point at least) relative stable base of support within the Jewish population—overwhelmingly people of European settler descent. And Israel is not just a ferocious military power, it has a powerful, high-tech economy, a high standard of living, and its Jewish citizens enjoy the trappings of being situated high on the imperialist "food chain" in a world of sweatshops and slums.
All this adds up to why the U.S. has been both "stuck with, and sticking by" Israel. "Stuck with" in the sense of having to deal with all the global outrage this generates, including how fundamentalist Islamic Jihadists work to hijack that outrage, and channel it into their own side of the "clash of civilizations" paradigm that unites both Western imperialism and Islamic fundamentalism. And "sticking by" in the sense that Israel is an indispensable ally right now.
Up to now, the rulers of the U.S. have juggled the contradiction between "sticking by" and "stuck with" Israel through massive military, economic, and diplomatic support, mixed with periodic public criticism when global outrage over particularly egregious crimes against the Palestinians threatens to pose real problems for the empire. Trump's message on a "one-state solution," the whole tone and content of his press conference, and his whole campaign, represent dropping the "public criticism" part of the package, and thus giving Israel a green light to carry out greater crimes.
Near the end of the Obama administration, the U.S. refused to veto a U.N. resolution criticizing Israeli settlements (something that almost never happens). Trump went ballistic. He tweeted, "They used to have a great friend in the U.S., but......not anymore. The beginning of the end was the horrible Iran deal, and now this (UN)! Stay strong Israel, January 20th [the day Trump was inaugurated] is fast approaching!" Once in power, Trump appointed David Friedman to be ambassador to Israel. An Israeli newspaper described Friedman as "more hardline in his views than Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu." An Israeli commentator said Friedman "might find a place" in one of Israel's extremist parties, "but only on its right-wing fringes."
Neither a "two-state solution" or a "one-state solution" can liberate Palestine. But Trump's legitimization of a "one-state solution" is of a piece with a whole fascist agenda, domestically, and globally, and will make the very survival of the Palestinian people radically more threatened.
Trump has declared he will "eradicate" radical Islamic terrorism...completely from the face of the Earth." That puts the Palestinian people in the crosshairs, along with Muslims around the world (Palestinians are not all Muslims, but most are, and in the eyes of the Trumpites, that puts all of them in the enemy camp). This can only bring massive suffering to people around the world, and fuel the rise of more fundamentalist Islamic Jihad.
Trump demands massive expansion of the U.S. military, including expanding the U.S. nuclear arsenal. He appears fixated on using nuclear weapons. He has already imposed further sanctions on Iran. In light of this whole package, Trump's embrace of a "one-state solution" at the press conference with Netanyahu takes on even more ominous significance.
And here, the Christian fascist component of the Trump/Pence regime comes into play in a very defining way. Christian fascists see the clash with fundamentalist Islamic Jihad as a continuation of a historic global conflict between the white Judeo-Christian West, and Islam as a whole, with Israel on the "front lines" of that clash of civilizations. They are central and key players in the Trump/Pence regime.
On the other side of this clash, fundamentalist Islamic Jihad presents itself as an "alternative" to Western imperialism. In relation to Palestine, these forces, coming from their own reactionary agenda, condemn collaboration between the Palestine Authority, and the rulers of the U.S. and Israel. Today, they control the Gaza region of Palestine, and have found a following among people throughout the region and beyond. But their "solution" is a mirror-opposite of the Christian fundamentalist fascists, even as their aspirations to exploit and oppress others are miniscule compared to the actual scope of the crimes of Western imperialism. Like the Christian fascists, they wage war on the scientific method, on women, and on any dissent or non-conformity that challenges their obscurantist and oppressive ideology. The societies they control are founded on exploitation and spirit-crushing imposition of fundamentalist madness.
This whole hellish set of "alternatives" cries out for bringing forward another way. And that radically different and far better way for humanity exists, based on how human society has developed up to this point, and—on that basis—in the pathways for emancipating humanity opened up through the work of Bob Avakian. You can find that work, and that revolutionary leadership, at this website—revcom.us. There is an urgent need for this actual alternative to the contending poles of oppression getting on the map, here, in the Middle East, and around the world.
Right now, bringing forward another way demands that people confront and resist the horrific implications of Trump's espousal of greatly intensifying the oppression of the Palestinian people. And, beyond that, to drive out the Trump/Pence fascist regime now—in the interests of humanity.
Revolution #479 February 20, 2017
Updated February 27, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On February 21, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly formally released two memos containing guidelines that unleash ICE and Border Patrol agents to target all undocumented immigrants in this country for deportation. The article that follows was written and posted yesterday, based on two “leaked” versions of the memos. The memos made public are identical to those leaked memos.
Two memos were just "leaked" to the Washington Post—signed by the Director of Homeland Security, former Marine General John Kelly—which direct ICE and Border Patrol agents how they are to carry out the Trump regime's orders to gear up the machinery for mass deportations. The new guidelines speed up deportations and widen the scope of who is to be targeted for roundups. They greatly increase the number of immigrants whose deportations can be "expedited." And in a glimpse of how massive are the roundups and deportations that the regime is planning, the directives call for adding ten thousand more ICE agents and 5,000 Border Patrol agents.
Neither memo—one focused on the border, the other on the interior of the country—includes a call to deploy as many as 100,000 National Guard troops as immigration agents, as the draft memo leaked two days ago did. But they do call for the full return of the "Secure Communities" program, which will give the government thousands and thousands more 'boots on the ground' in city after city by enlisting state and local police around the country as immigration agents.
These directives are still drafts, according to government officials, being reviewed by White House counsel before final approval—but they have Kelly's signature approving them.
These memos do not eliminate DACA—the Obama-era program that temporarily deferred deportation for those who came to this country without documents when they were very young, and that grants them temporary work permits. But they sweep aside all of the other immigration guidelines that had previously been in effect. There are no other categories of undocumented immigrants that are protected from arrest and deportation. Everyone who is in this country without documentation, regardless of their circumstances, has to fear having their whole life torn apart at any time.
One memo notes there are currently 32 law enforcement agencies in 16 states participating in their 287(g) program—known as "Secure Communities." It's described as a "highly successful force multiplier that allows a qualified state or local law enforcement officer to be designated as an 'immigration officer' for purposes of enforcing federal immigration law." The DHS goal is to expand the program "to the greatest degree practicable." That means that, if you’re one of the millions and millions who are undocumented in this country, and particularly if you are one of the millions who have any minor record (even a traffic violation), you are going to be living under police-state conditions. It means that every time a cop sees you, you can be stopped based on the cop claiming there is "probable cause" because of the way you look, or act, or speak, or are dressed, in some way that makes you "suspicious"—and the police can demand to see your "papers." This really is criminal and immoral—fascist—and now will be the law of the land. It is going to make the lives of millions of immigrants in this country a constant horror.
One of the memos focuses on "Implementing the President's Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements Policies." It begins: "The President has determined that the lawful detention of aliens arriving in the United States... is the most efficient means by which to enforce the immigration laws at our borders." What Trump really means by "the most efficient means" is that he intends to end due process for immigrants. Border Patrol and ICE agents have been clamoring for an end to having to release from detention immigrants who "don't belong here" while they await their case being heard in court—what they call "Catch and Release." This is a major focus of their directives.
The memo complains that the courts are backlogged with immigration cases. So they call for "the establishment and deployment of a joint plan with the Department of Justice to surge the deployment of immigration judges and asylum officers" to speed up deportation and deal with asylum claims.
Along with their "surge," they are also going to expand tremendously what's called "expedited removal," or deportation without a hearing before an immigration judge. Until now, the application of expedited removal had been limited in practice to those who couldn't prove they'd lived in the U.S. continuously for 14 days. The new guidelines now allow expedited removal for anyone who is believed to be undocumented who cannot prove they've lived in this country continuously for two years. In addition, Mexican immigrants who are captured near the border are now going to be forced to return to Mexico before their deportation hearing. And instead of being able to attend their hearing, there is going to be a set up where their appearance will be videoed from Mexico.
Finally, the authors of the memo complain that over 155,000 unaccompanied minors have come to this country from Central America seeking asylum in the past three years. For any human being with a conscience, this is a horrific statement about what U.S. imperialism has done to these countries that forced these children and their families to take such tremendous risks. But for the fascists with their hands on the levers of power, what upsets them is that 60 percent of these youth have undocumented parents in this country who they can stay with while they await their asylum claim. So, after discussing the fact that many of the parents have to "pay smugglers several thousand dollars to bring their children into this country," the authors of the memo conclude that these parents can and should be arrested for facilitating the crime of smuggling alien children into the U.S.
In a statement quoted by the Washington Post, Joanne Lin, senior legislative counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union, said: "Due process, human decency, and common sense are treated as inconvenient obstacles on the path to mass deportation. The Trump administration is intent on inflicting cruelty on millions of immigrant families across the country."
This fascist regime has a program and a plan that it is implementing. It is committing crimes on top of crimes. It must be driven out.
Revolution #479 February 20, 2017
February 22, 2017
Revolution Club, Chicago
312 804.9121 Revclub.email@example.com
The Trump/Pence regime has seized on the horror of young Black people killing each other to make Chicago ground zero for an overall offensive against Black people. Trump issued a naked threat, “If Chicago doesn’t fix the horrible carnage going on, I will send in the Feds.”
In response, the Central Committee of the RCP has issued a statement that is being distributed in the 10s of thousands especially on the south and west sides of Chicago; the Revolution Club is opening an organizing center in South Shore with another office to open soon on the west side; Carl Dix*, a founding member of the RCP, has come to Chicago as a spokesperson for the RCP’s plan.
The RCP statement calls out Trump’s stone-cold racist plan: “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 other oppressed people. ... 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...
“When Trump says ‘Make America Great Again’ he means fascism, Crimes against humanity including reinstating open white supremacy within America.”
As Carl Dix points out, “What’s driving this is the system’s FEAR that Black people will stand up and resist, influencing others to open their eyes and begin to question the whole system. We have seen this historically and in the last couple of years. I have been part of the powerful upsurges against police murder of Black and Latino people that have rocked this country from Ferguson, Baltimore, to Baton Rouge and most recently in Mt Greenwood in Chicago.”
Bob Avakian of the RCP, the leader of the revolution, has charted a different plan: REVOLUTION. We have the leadership and strategy to see this through to victory and a blueprint for a new society, the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America.
As the RCP statement says, “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.”
The launch of the center in South Shore, 1857 E. 71st St., will be held on Sunday, February 26th at 3 pm. The community is invited. For the press, Carl Dix is available for interviews. This center will be a place where those who are tired of seeing young Black people killed by other young people, who hate the way police unleash terror in our neighborhoods, who want to drive out the Trump-Pence regime and to see an end to all the horrors of this system can get connected with a plan and an organization that’s about doing all that.
* Carl Dix is a representative of the RCP. In 1970 he was part of the Fort Lewis 6, the largest mass refusal by US soldiers of orders to go to Vietnam, and he has spent decades struggling to end the exploitation and oppression this system enforces on humanity.
Revolution #479 February 20, 2017
February 22, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Arrest during an ICE raid in Los Angeles, February 7. (Photo: Charles Reed/U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement via AP)
When General John Kelly was nominated head of Homeland Security, the New York Times assured you he was someone who “called for a more balanced approach to protecting the borders.” And that he “has supported increased aid for economic development, education and a focus on human rights.”
Now... the Trump/Pence fascist regime is moving in horrific ways to deport millions of undocumented immigrants—even people who have been accused of something as innocent as a traffic violation. Whole communities are living in terror. Families are being ripped apart. Civil liberties are being shredded. Undocumented immigrants, immigrants and anyone who looks or sounds like an immigrant to Trump’s Gestapo, can be grabbed up at any time, for any thing, and deported.
John Kelly wrote and signed the orders and is overseeing the enforcement of all this. Whoever Trump put in charge of Homeland Security was going to have to follow his dictates. And whatever Kelly’s views might actually be, he’s a general. He’s going to follow orders. Nobody is going to “balance” Trump. The Trump/Pence regime has to be driven out.
Revolution #479 February 20, 2017
February 23, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
The Trump/Pence regime has loaded up its cabinet with generals. Some now claim these generals will be a “voice of reason” within the regime—the “grown-ups” who can be a check on Trump’s wilder ambitions.
Just the opposite. They are a critical piece of the juggernaut, essential to Trump’s wildest ambitions.
First: they are all proven cold-blooded war criminals. They all have records of violently enforcing the needs of the U.S. empire—from Vietnam to Iraq and beyond.
Second: The fascist agenda of the Trump/Pence regime requires a radical, violent restructuring of U.S. society, and a ferocious re-assertion of “America First” here and around the world. Trump’s incorporation of the generals strengthens his ability to do that.
Third: There is the idea that the nuclear codes are in sane hands. No they are not. These generals serve at the pleasure of Trump. And only one person can legally use these codes: Donald Trump.
Revolution #479 February 20, 2017
February 23, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
These stickers should be put on all copies of the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America.
Position sticker on cover as shown above
Download PDF here and take to copy shop. Color xerox on 8 1/2 x 11 sticker paper. You can buy this paper yourself, Avery 5353 full page label (or equivalent), and then fill tray with your sticker paper. After copying:
1) Trim 1/4 inch white from top and bottom
2) Trim white where xerox didn't put color to edges
3) Cut printed sheet in half yielding two half sheets of 8 stickers each.
4) Cut into 1 inch strips.
5) Position each, aligning to left edge of book cover and to bottom of book.
Position sticker on title page as shown above
Download PDF here and xerox on same 8 1/2 x 11 sticker paper. After copying:
1) Trim 1/4 inch white from top and bottom
2) Cut printed sheet in half yielding two half sheets of 10 stickers each.
4) Cut into strips.
5) Position each, aligning on title page as shown.
Revolution #479 February 20, 2017
Breaking News February 22-23
Updated February 23, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Update 2/23/17: With militarized personnel carriers, guns and bulldozers, authorities demolished the Oceti Sakowin camp near Standing Rock this afternoon. Roads in and out of the camp were closed. Leading up to the assault, journalists were targeted for arrest. Forty-six people in the camp were arrested. Only an hour after authorities began to bulldoze the camp, the North Dakota governor signed into law four fascist bills directed at suppressing protest, including expanding criminal trespassing laws, making it illegal to cover your face with a mask or hood while committing a crime (directed at protesters), and increased penalties for “rioting” (obviously directed at activists who were the victims of ongoing state violence).
Activist Ruth Hopkins tweeted:“Knifing tipis and pointing loaded rifles at the occupants. It’s the 1800s all over again.” Tom Goldtooth, executive director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, said. “Our hearts are not defeated. The closing of the camp is not the end of a movement or fight. It is a new beginning. They cannot extinguish the fire that Standing Rock started.” As the camp was being shut down, hundreds of protesters rallied in Washington, DC, demanding no Dakota Access Pipeline.
February 22: The state of North Dakota, backed by the Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. government, began its criminal shutdown of the Oceti Sakowin camp at Standing Rock today. As we’ve reported, this is a critical juncture in the battle to stop the Dakota Access oil pipeline (DAPL), which threatens the water, lands, treaty rights, cultures, and the very existence of the Standing Rock and other Sioux tribes, and Earth’s environment itself. A heroic battle by the Standing Rock Sioux, some 200 other Native American peoples, and many thousands of others has blocked completion of DAPL for nearly a year.
After surrounding the camp with police and other enforcers, the state had set a deadline of 2 pm Central Time today for the estimated 200 plus people—“water protectors”—who remained at the camp to leave. Facing the possibility of a violent police assault, some 100 reportedly marched out of the camp before the deadline, chanting and playing drums. One resister told the New York Times that some water protectors had burned some of the remaining buildings at the camp as “an act of defiance...It’s saying: ‘If you are going to make us leave our home, you cannot take our space. We’ll burn it to the ground and let the earth take it back before you take it from us.’” Others said the burnings were ceremonial.
At this writing, different news outlets are reporting either 9 or 10 people were arrested—some brutally—for marching up to one of the state road blocks. And some 50-75 people remain in the camp, with the police reportedly saying they will evict them and finish shutting down the camp on Thursday.
The water protectors remaining at Oceti Sakowin camp say they’re taking a “Treaty Stand”—because the camp is on Sioux tribal land under the 1851 Treaty of Fort Laramie. "We are all at risk of facing arrest, police brutality, federal charges and prison time," one resister said. (Democracy Now!, February 22)
Oceti Sakowin camp has been the main camp where people have come together to oppose DAPL. Of the several protest camps, Oceti Sakowin is the closest to where the DAPL will go under the Missouri River—the source of water crucial to the lives of the Standing Rock Sioux and many others in the region. Many thousands (an estimated 10,000 at one point) from all over the world have come together there to resist the pipeline and support the Standing Rock and other Sioux tribes. Many speak of the community of resistance that was forged—radically different than life-as-usual in the racist, misogynist, dog-eat-dog USA. “This was beautiful what was built here," one resister said today.
North Dakota and the federal government are forcibly shutting down Oceti Sakowin behind the flimsy excuse that it’s an environment hazard. In reality they’re doing so to clear the way for an environment-destroying oil pipeline and to attempt to shut down what has become powerful focal point of resistance to this system’s crimes which has inspired people globally.
These dangerous developments come in the wake of the Trump/Pence fascist regime taking power and quickly stepping up the government’s assault on resisters at Standing Rock—and on all who support them. Four days after Trump’s inauguration, he signed an executive order demanding the Army Corps of Engineers accelerate its review and approval of the pipeline’s construction. The attack on the courageous resisters at Standing Rock is a screaming outrage and a crime against the people. And many at Standing Rock vow that the battle is not over.
Halt the Illegitimate Assault on Oceti Sakowin Camp!
No Arrests of Water Protectors!
Revolution #479 February 20, 2017
February 23, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
From a Reader:
On Wednesday night, February 22, the Trump administration officially rolled back federal anti-discrimination protections for transgender students. The so-called Departments of “Justice” and “Education”—under the fascist oversight of the reactionaries Jeff Sessions and Betsy DeVos—issued a “Dear Colleague Letter” withdrawing a policy that extended the anti-discrimination protection of Title IX laws to students who identify as a gender that’s different from the sex they were born with. The immediate legal effect is that schools are no longer obligated to allow students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond to their gender identity.
The support for this rollback of rights declares “state’s rights” (echoing slavery) and “religious freedom” (freedom to be a bigot). In reality, it is an encouragement to police the bathrooms at schools, and police the very identities and sexuality of young people. This creates a climate where children and teenagers feel freakish for not conforming and complying with the patriarchal expectations imposed on them at birth—of aggressive and dominating masculinity, or submissive and servile femininity. It slaps them back into rigid gender roles. The message: Any exploration and identification outside of those roles will not be tolerated. You don’t fit into that? There’s something wrong with you.
Transgender youth already face intolerable discrimination and bullying at school. According to a report from GLSEN (Gay Lesbian & Straight Education network), 75 percent of transgender students report feeling unsafe in school. In a 2016 study of transgender students by the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, 30 percent reported a history of at least one suicide attempt. According to the Human Rights Campaign, more than 50 percent of transgender youth report attempting suicide at least once in their lifetime. And study after study has shown that policies protecting LGBT people correspond with lower suicide rates (especially children), while policies like this one, that target LGBT people, have the opposite effect (“Individual- and Structural-Level Risk Factors for Suicide Attempts Among Transgender Adults,” 2015). This policy will cost lives. This administration is now, along with its whole host of crimes, officially in the business of driving young people to suicide.
Those who don’t “fit in” to their assigned gender role face a daily and sometimes deadly obstacle course of judgment, alienation, harassment, and violence. Hard enough just to be a teenager, being trans or not rigidly set into a gender means people can’t tell “what you are,” or whether to treat you as a full human being or not. Being “confusing” or “threatening” to those standards means you are getting negative attention all the time. Relentless bullying, invasive stares, disgust, terrorizing, humiliating, and often brutal violence and threats of violence. Few places do you feel accepted and nowhere do you feel safe. People regularly despise you and tell you you’re going to burn in hell. Now in addition to all that, if you are a trans girl, you are forced to go to the boy’s bathroom, the boy’s locker room. Some of those boys are your worst bullies. In a world that offers you no safety, now you are expected to take off your clothes and be at your most physically vulnerable in a room full of boys. Every day.
WHY? This recent canceling out of the rights, discarding the safety and dignity of transgender and other gender non-conforming young people, is perfectly in line with the fascist, hyper-patriarchal, Trump/Pence program.
Revolution #479 February 20, 2017
Off-duty Pig in Anaheim, CA assaults 13-year-old youth and fires shot
February 23, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
From members of the Revolution Club, Los Angeles
On Wednesday night members of the Revolution Club L.A along with Refuse Fascism went out to Anaheim where hundreds of protesters were out in the streets protesting the outrageous incident that took place the day before where an off-duty LAPD pig got into an altercation with a group of teenagers for apparently being in his front lawn. A video that was posted on Facebook shows the off-duty pig brutally assaulting and pulling a 13-year-old by the collar of his sweater. You hear the teenager repeatedly telling the pig to let him go. The friends of the teenager defended him and tried to free their friend but the pig wouldn't let go of his grip. He then pulls out a gun and fired off a round.
We got to Anaheim and the cops had already arrested some people and had other protestors kettled in. Reports about the protest say that 24 people were arrested. Up the block were people hanging out on the corner and watching, residents of the area, families with their kids and teenagers. We went over to talk with them.
A lot of people were showing each other the videos that were going "viral" of this assault on the 13-year-old and the terror from this off duty cop shooting off his gun. People were explaining to each other and piecing together what had happened. Everyone agreed that this brutality should not have happened to this teenager. We had brought copies of the Call to Action from Refuse Fascism and got those out to everyone.
A high school student who was a friend of the 13-year-old said what happened to her friend should not have happened. She talked about the racism that Latinos get from white people and the police. She said there needed to be some change. She asked about the Call to Action and agreed that the Trump/Pence regime needed to be driven out of power and took a stack of flyers and stickers to get to her high school the next day. We told her to organize other students and to bring the "NO!" into the conversations and controversy over this incident with the 13-year-old.
A woman that was standing there asked what was the flyer about so we got into it, we walked through what it said in the Call to Action and she agreed Trump and his regime are fascists and that something must be done about it, she was challenged to take this up and become an organizer in her area. She said she saw the need for people to take this up because she can't imagine 2 years or even 4 years of Trump in power. She left with stacks of flyers and left her contact info.
Others there spoke out about the need to stay in the streets to put a stop to the violence and harassment by the police in Anaheim. One woman challenged people with "papers" to stand up and get in the streets for all those that don't have "papers", who aren't recognized as people, and having to live in the shadows in this country. She said, "there are generations of us in this country who have no reason to stay at home and not fight for a better future." These people made a plan on the spot to reach out to other community members with Refuse Fascism's Call to Action to Drive Out the Trump/Pence regime. They made plans to pass them out to students at a nearby high school and planned on reaching out to students who attend the middle school of the 13-year-old.
Revolution #479 February 20, 2017
Trump Escalates Attacks on Press
Updated February 26, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On Friday, February 24, Trump and his regime further intensified their dangerous and outrageous assaults on the press. At the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), in a speech filled with fascist venom, Trump’s major focus of attack was on the media. He said, “A few days ago, I called the fake news the enemy of the people because they have no sources—they just make it up.” And he claimed, “They are very smart, they are very cunning, they are very dishonest. It doesn’t represent the people; it never will represent the people.” He demanded that the press name their sources and claimed “they just make them up when there are none.”
Just a couple of hours after this, the regime made an unprecedented move to bar a number of specific news organizations from a White House press event. Reporters from the New York Times, CNN, Los Angeles Times, BuzzFeed News, and Politico were refused entry into a scheduled briefing by Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer. Only those handpicked by the regime were allowed in, including reactionary outlets like Breitbart News, Washington Times,and One America News Network, and several others like ABC, CBS, Fox News, Wall Street Journal, and Bloomberg. Reporters from Time magazine and the Associated Press had been among those given permission to attend the briefing but chose not to participate—in protest of the White House actions, according to the New York Times.
New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet said of the barring of specific news organizations: “Nothing like this has ever happened at the White House in our long history of covering multiple administrations of different parties.” In fact, this is indeed part of an unprecedented presidential assault on the U.S. press, and it must be opposed.
The media being targeted perform a specific function under capitalist-imperialist rule. They report the news through a framework which assumes the basic good intentions of the U.S. government and ruling class around the world, and the basically just character of the social relations of U.S. society. As part of this, they shape the terms of debate around key social questions. Within these constraints and framework, they at times investigate and expose abuses and outrages and air some dissenting opinions, in part to check one or another part of the ruling class from getting too powerful and also to point to abuses that, from the point of view of some defenders of the system, should be brought to light and reformed.
They also adhere, as part of this, to some standards of objective reporting—again, coming from a long-term view of preserving the system. Such was the case during the Vietnam War, in which many reporters, at least initially coming from a standpoint of defending what they understood to be democratic ideals and even U.S. interests, as well as objectively reporting the truth, brought to light important crimes being committed by American forces. At that point, these reporters and the institutions they worked for incurred the wrath of the Johnson and Nixon administrations, but even then nothing close to what is being done now was attempted in terms of intimidation and suppression (though in later wars the U.S. government took care to much more closely rein in and control reporters).
What the Trump regime is now carrying out with unprecedented vigor is an attempt to stop the media from conducting any exposures or investigations of the administration and even from contesting what are clearly distortions of objective reality or outright fabrications. This will serve to suffocate any dissent.
These and other assaults on the press are part of how the Trump/Pence regime’s fascist juggernaut is moving rapidly to break down and essentially eliminate the historical institutions and norms of bourgeois-democratic rule in order to replace those, through the iron fist of fascism, with new norms that serve the Trump/Pence agenda. In addition, this battle is one concentration of the overall struggle going on between different sections of the bourgeoisie brought on by Trump’s attempt to consolidate a fully fascist regime.
And in doing this, the Trump/Pence regime is further rallying and mobilizing their fascist social base—when Trump says the “dishonest” media do not represent the “people,” he is counting only those who support him and his regime among the “people.” Others are inconsequential or even the “enemy.”
Part of the logic and dynamics of fascism is the need to shut down critical thinking and the ability of people to figure out what is true. The Trump/Pence fascists cannot allow any press that doesn’t obediently swallow and repeat the lies that come out of the regime, that raise any question about the narrative they are spewing out. That is why the regime is moving decisively and rapidly to force the press to be compliant and loyal to them—or silence and suppress them through the force of the state and by rallying the fascist base against them.
Revolution #479 February 20, 2017
Revolution Interview With Jenny Heinz on Wearing "NO!" at Lincoln Center
February 25, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Jenny Heinz in front of Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center a moment after she was escorted out. (Photo by Timothy Biel provided by Jenny Heinz)
Jenny Heinz went to a performance at Lincoln Center wearing a sign: “NO! In the Name of Humanity, We REFUSE to Accept a Fascist America—RefuseFascism.org.” At Lincoln Center she was told she would have to remove the sign to enter. She refused to remove it, and was barred from the performance. The incident was covered in a piece in the New York Times and in national media. Revolution/revcom.us spoke with her to get the whole story on why she did this, what she has to say about the situation people confront with the Trump/Pence regime, and what people need to do.
Revolution: What inspired you to wear your sign, “NO! In the Name of Humanity, We REFUSE to Accept a Fascist America—RefuseFascism.org” to Lincoln Center?
Jenny Heinz: Sometime in November, there was a press conference at the Trump Tower. It was before the inauguration even. I got that sign and I kept it and I’ve worn it ever since. I’ve worn it every single day. I’ve gone to the Metropolitan Opera, Carnegie Hall. I wear it on the way to work and then I take it off so clients don’t see it. But basically, I have been wearing it ever since, everywhere I’ve gone. I don’t remember when those signs came out, I think in November, when Refuse Fascism came out. I especially liked “In the Name of Humanity.”
Revolution: Talk a bit about why you see the urgency to make the statement you’re making.
Jenny Heinz: I’ve been wearing an IS IT FASCISM YET button since 2003, and basically it’s been a powerful way to connect to others. It was clear to me that under Bush the signs of increasing corporate control were taking on the face of fascism. And so people often reacted to my button with “No, not yet.” And that allowed me to engage well, what, if it’s “not yet” at what point do you say “it is”? Those kinds of encounters are taking place more and more as people begin to get that is what is going on. We need to disrupt a person’s consciousness as they go shopping. So when I saw the sign, I thought that would be perfect for my back because it feels like increasingly we have to use our bodies, especially since the media over the years has been so corporate and not sufficiently functioning and now they are really under attack by the Trump regime.
So I really feel like even if it makes me look crazy in a way—I’ve got a button on the front and a sign on the back. Nowadays, it’s about connection. And people come over to me, or on the subway speak to me and yearn to engage. And it’s about having discussions. It starts conversations with people walking down the street. So in a way it’s critically important and very useful and helpful because at a time like this we have to have connections to one another. That’s what resistance requires really. Support the connections so we can do what we need to do over the long haul.
Revolution: When you wore this to Lincoln Center you weren’t allowed inside with it. Can you talk about the impact of that?
Jenny Heinz: Well, what happened was I was just going to a Sunday concert. And in the previous weeks I’d been to concerts, and to Carnegie Hall and to the opera, and I wore the sign on my back. On this day, I walked onto the plaza, and went to exchange my ticket. I was hanging around there after I exchanged my ticket, and about 20 minutes later security came over to me and said that I had to remove the sign, which I refused to do. And then the two security guards were basically telling me that I couldn’t go in. And I said I’d like to speak to a higher-up or a manager. And that’s when someone finally came over and I requested a refund.
By that time, I had already called [civil liberties attorney, and former executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union] Norman Siegel. I called and said I was being stopped by security. He said get their names, and I couldn’t get their names. I said to them, can you give me the number of the legal department. And after I got the refund the guy gave me the number to the legal department. So I was in the lobby still going to call Norman to give him the phone number of their legal department as he had suggested I do. As I was making the phone call, two or three security guards came over and said you have to leave the lobby and the hall, meaning lobby, and I was escorted onto the plaza.
What unfolded was basically, the next day, on Monday, Norman got in touch with their legal department. And a gentleman whom I had met on the plaza sent me an amazing email about the importance of this, and about the connection of this to culture and the arts and democracy. And the arts and cultural institutions, like Lincoln Center (who do accept money, right?), need to grapple with how are they going to respond and function in an authoritarian regime.
The other piece to know, between the time of the concert and my meeting with the higher-ups that Norman arranged with the head of operations and security, when I went to go to that meeting, I was not allowed on the plaza. So enforcement of a policy, yet to be seen, increased in the 10 days between the original incident and my meeting with personnel.
Top: Jenny Heinz (on the right) points to a RefuseFascism sign in the Farsi language.
Above: The same sign she has been wearing everywhere since November.
Revolution: For people reading this interview who are on the verge of following your example, putting a sign on, wearing it everywhere, maybe having some reservations about doing that, what would your advice to them be?
Jenny Heinz: To think through what concerns them about wearing such a message. What are they worried about, what does it mean to them, what is it that makes it hard for them to do that? And to really grapple with, OK, if they can’t do that, what can they do, if we really believe that things are as bad as we think they are. I’ve been arrested a number of times, although that’s never been my purpose, but around certain issues such as this, I’m prepared to be arrested. But not everyone is willing or able to risk arrest.
But I think people really need to think through how can they put themselves... push the envelope a little bit at a time when if you really believe what’s taking place, we each of us have to be part of the resistance, in one way or another. So I would say to people if you’re considering doing it, what are the issues about doing it? What were your concerns about?
What I’m saying is I want people to struggle. That this is a time when stands have to be taken. And so it’s what I want of Lincoln Center too. I want them to start anticipating taking their place in how they respond in arts and culture as a living organism, not atrophied as in an ivory tower.
Revolution: So talk about what happened in the aftermath of the Times article.
Jenny Heinz: I’ve certainly gotten letters from people who know me. I’m not good working the Facebook thing, but it’s been all over. Clearly AP picked it up. PEN picked it up. So did a number of different organizations. And people stopped me on the street, and said are you the person in the article? I’ve gotten positive reactions. I said to people, think what you can do. And you can do it too. I don’t proselytize that. My issue really is what can people do, and to impress upon them that I think each of us can do a lot and need to! Resistance is what we must be part of every day in whatever way we can. Times are dire and we each need to be part of resisting the ever increasing pace of this fascistic takeover. And to be public about our refusal in the name of humanity to accept a fascist america―hence wearing the sign as an act of expression.
Revolution #479 February 20, 2017
February 25, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
A reactionary and dangerous bill aimed at further clamping down on people’s right to protest has been passed by the Republican Party-dominated Arizona state senate. If the bill, SB1142, becomes actual law, it would give the government power to seize the assets of people who organized and participated in a political protest that the police have declared as a “riot.” This would be the case even if the organizers had nothing to do with whatever alleged developments in the protest—like damage to property—the police cited to claim it was a “riot.” Such a law would be a major step toward banning anti-government protests altogether.
The Arizona bill would add “rioting” to the list of offenses that can be charged under the state’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) laws, which allows the government to seize the assets of those allegedly involved in criminal “conspiracy.” SB1142 also expands the definition of “rioting” to include people causing damage to the property of others. The bill says that an “overt act is not required as proof of a riot offense.” As the Phoenix New Times notes, “That means the planners of the protest could be charged because someone else committed an ‘overt act’ that caused a riot.”
Let’s imagine that this bill has become an actual law. You and some others call for a march and civil disobedience action downtown to protest some outrageous new move by the Trump/Pence regime. During the protest, someone you don’t know, for whatever reason, breaks the window of a store. The police declare the protest a “riot.” Under the fascist new law, you and many others may not only be hit with serious criminal charges for “rioting,” but face the prospect of having your house, bank accounts, car, or other assets seized for being part of a “conspiracy”—even though you had nothing to do with the alleged act that supposedly made the protest a “riot.”
The intent of those behind the Arizona bill is clear: to chill out dissent and opposition by intensifying the repressive threats, and to ramp up punishment for those who continue to resist.
This Arizona bill is part of a wave of state laws that threaten harsh punishment for protest. The rise of the Trump/Pence regime to power and the extreme and repressive program they are moving on quickly have been signals to fascist forces at all levels to expand and intensify the clampdown. Reactionary forces in at least eight other states have recently introduced new laws or “reinterpreted” existing ones in order to criminalize what today are common forms of protest. These include a “Blue Lives Matter” law in Louisiana that puts police on the list of those protected under state hate crime laws; a North Dakota bill to give immunity from prosecution for drivers who run over protesters who are “too close to” the street or highway; an Indiana bill authorizing police to use “any means necessary” to break up mass gatherings that block traffic; proposed new laws in Minnesota raising penalties for nonviolent acts of protest like blocking roads and sitting in at a police station.
As we have pointed out about this wave of reactionary state laws:
Most state legislatures have been controlled for some time by Republi-fascists. The repressive words and deeds of Trump/Pence are signaling to them that “our time has come,” urging them on to pass more and more extreme repressive measures. So while some of these bills may not pass, or may be tweaked a little so as to at least loosely conform to existing constitutional law, they indicate the direction society is moving in, quite rapidly, and which will continue in leaps and bounds, locking down society and crushing dissent in a way never before seen in this country—unless and until this fascist regime is driven from power. (“Wave of State Laws Threaten Harsh Penalties for Common Forms of Protest”)
Revolution #479 February 20, 2017
February 25, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Arrest during an ICE raid in Los Angeles, February 7. (Photo: Charles Reed/U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement via AP)
Bob Avakian, "Why do people come here from all over the world?"
With Trump’s executive order calling for major escalation of repression against all undocumented immigrants and with Homeland Security head Gen. John Kelly’s memos outlining concrete steps in what Trump calls a “military operation,” millions of immigrants are living under constant fear and uncertainty. Hundreds have already been caught in ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) raids during the past week.
Trump claims that they are going after the “bad dudes.” These “bad dudes” include those like Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos, who was grabbed by ICE agents in Arizona during a routine check-in and was immediately deported. Or Daniel Ramirez Medina in Seattle, who showed his temporary work permit, for which he is qualified under the DACA program, only to be arrested and shipped off to a detention center in Tacoma. Or the transgender woman in El Paso, Texas, who was arrested by ICE inside a courthouse where she’d just gotten a court order to protect her from domestic violence. (See “Trump’s ICE Raids Deliver the Message: All Undocumented Immigrants Are in His Sights.”)
Suddenly, everything has changed for undocumented immigrants living across the U.S. The time is gone when they could think that if they hadn’t been charged with a serious crime, they stood some chance of being relatively safe from deportation. Now, they are being forced to confront how they are going to survive in a country that has declared them “criminals” and “undesirables.” A country that has made it a crime for them just to be here, ruled by a regime that has made clear it intends to find them and drive them out with their “deportation force.” The stories of these people are just beginning to be told, and they give a sense of the terror of living in the fascist Trump/Pence regime if you are undocumented.
A recent report by Los Angeles TV station KTLA included interviews with undocumented people in different parts of the country. Some immigrants without papers have stopped answering knocks on their doors. Others are taping bedsheets over windows. Many are keeping their children from visiting friends or going to the library after school. Teachers across the country are reporting that parents are keeping their children home from school or withdrawing them from school altogether, out of fear. (“Immigration Arrests Sparking Fear Among Immigrant Communities Nationwide”)
The reality is this: We are now living in a country where 11 million people have suddenly been officially declared criminals. We cannot keep our own humanity if we don’t fight for the humanity of these millions now under immediate attack. We refuse to accept a fascist America!
A Day Without Immigrants protest, Austin, TX, February 16.
A Day Without Immigrants protest, San Francisco, February 16.
A Day Without Immigrants protest, Washington DC, February 16.
After a meeting of about a hundred teachers who came together in Austin, Texas, to discuss how to talk to children about these raids, one educator summed up: “Kids are ... clearly traumatized by this. Young people I’ve spoken to live in fear that their government is coming for them or coming for their parents. Where do you go?”
Cesar Vargas, one of the first undocumented immigrants in New York State to be sworn in as a lawyer, told KTLA, “There are people that I work with who essentially want to go dark. They don’t want to be public in any way whatsoever. They spend less time on the street. They go to work and go straight back home. They don’t go on Facebook. They put curfews on themselves.”
An undocumented immigrant living in Brooklyn, New York, with his partner and children ages three and eight said, “People are not leaving the house to get a cup of coffee, to have dinner or take their children to the library. You don’t know when the next roundup will be. You go to work. You come back home.” He continued, “I’m looking around all the time. It’s not only (ICE) but the police as well. What if they stop you and ask you questions?” A construction worker, who worked on the reconstruction in Queens and Staten Island after Superstorm Sandy in 2012, said, “We were among the first to respond during the catastrophe. We helped rebuild homes and the owners still seek us out for work.” But now, what he gets from some is, “Oh, you helped me rebuild my house but now I don’t need you and you should go back to Mexico.”
A New York Times report described how a woman who fled El Salvador 12 years ago is “in a state of self-imposed house arrest, refusing to drive, fearing to leave her home, wondering how she will take her younger son, who is autistic, to doctor’s appointments.” She said, “I don’t want to go to the store, to church—they are looking everywhere, and they know where to find us. They could be waiting for us anywhere. Any corner, any block” (“Immigrants Hide, Fearing Capture on ‘Any Corner’”)
Parents and children call each other on the phone repeatedly each day, just to confirm that each is OK. People are preparing for the worst, making arrangements with acquaintances who will act as guardians for their kids in case they are suddenly deported—and telling the children how to contact the guardians and other emergency contacts.
The reality is this: We are now living in a country where a whole section of people, in their millions, has suddenly been officially declared criminals. Eleven million—fathers, mothers, children, grandparents, friends, co-workers, and colleagues—all are now being forced to live their lives “on the run.” They have all been told they must turn themselves in to the authorities or wait to be captured. They are being compelled to prepare to leave the country they have lived in for years, perhaps their entire lives, and be sent to a country they do not know or were forced to flee.
We cannot keep our own humanity if we don’t fight for the humanity of these millions now under immediate attack. We refuse to accept a fascist America!
Revolution #479 February 20, 2017
February 25, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
From a reader:
The Intercept this week published an article by Sam Biddle reporting on the Trump administration’s new capabilities to spy on the whole world.
This spy software has been developed by a Silicon Valley-based company, Palantir. With the Palantir software, different programs can work as a stand-alone program—or in conjunction with current programs/software being used by government spy agencies like NSA (National Security Agency)—with “unmatched power to sift and exploit information of any kind.”
The Intercept article details many programs developed by Palantir and how they work and interact with other spy programs and who is using them. I will not get into all that in this letter, but some important features of what this company has provided to at least three members (U.S. and UK for sure) of the “Five Eyes” spy alliance (which includes the U.S., UK, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada) are important for people to grasp and understand the capabilities the spy agencies of these countries have.
The Palantir software has solved two problems that have existed in the previous spying software—being able to sift through massive amounts of data to analyze a specific objective and reducing the time it takes to do that.
The Intercept article reports on how the Palantir software has been “designed for the needs of intelligence, law enforcement, and homeland security customers” by “importing large reams of ‘structured’ data (like spreadsheets) and ‘unstructured data’ (like images) into one centralized database, where all information can be visualized and analyzed in one workspace.” It “excels at making connections between enormous, separate databases, pulling big buckets of information (call records, IP addresses, financial transactions, names, conversations, travel records) into one centralized heap and visualizing them coherently, thus solving one of the persistent problems of modern intelligence gathering: data overload.” This has allowed the Five Eyes countries to pool and collect huge amounts of data, tens of billions of records, and use that data to spy on anyone and any organization in the world.
Palantir provided these countries with examples of how its programs can be used. One of the demonstrations was to show the flow of weapons through the Middle East by using equipment lot numbers, manufacturing data, and locations of Hezbollah training camps.
Another demonstration was to show how the software could identify Wikipedia users who belonged to “a fictional radical religious sect and graph their social relationships.” Using such things as political influences and tendencies of the group, the software was shown to be able to “de-anonymize and track members of any political or ideological group.”
The Intercept reported that one of the programs made it “far easier to analyze ... specific people and places” so that, for instance, “an analyst ... could pull every IP address in Moscow and Tehran that visited a given website or made a Skype call at 14:15 Eastern Time, for example, and then imported the resulting data set into Palantir in order to identify additional connections between addresses or plot their positions using Google Earth.”
One of the U.S. government’s surveillance programs exposed by Edward Snowden and published by the Guardian in 2013, XKEYSCORE, can be, as reported by The Intercept, imported into Palantir in order to analyze data collected from communications and other data that include “emails, chats, web-browsing traffic ... pictures, documents, voice calls, webcam photos, web searches, advertising analytics traffic, social media traffic, botnet traffic, logged keystrokes, computer network exploitation targeting, intercepted username and password pairs, file uploads to online services, Skype sessions and more.”
Government security agencies are heaping praise upon Palantir and what its programs can do—essentially any data from any place can be analyzed to give the security agencies whatever they want to know. It can handle both static databases and dynamic databases (those that are updated frequently). The Palantir software, according to The Intercept, is “flexible and powerful enough to accommodate the requirements of any organization that needs to process large amounts of both personal and abstract data.”
Despite all this, the report says that Palantir still presents a problem of over-analysis—analysts can get “overwhelmed by the scale of their task.”
The Intercept report on Palantir puts this in the context of the world today: “Donald Trump has inherited the most powerful machine for spying ever devised.” The spying technology that Palantir has developed is now in the hands of the fascist Trump/Pence regime.
During the Obama administration, privacy rights were trampled over. Edward Snowden revealed how the U.S. government spies on every person in the U.S. and almost everyone around the world. Now we have a fascist regime led by Trump and Pence. This means we can expect a qualitative leap in the spying and how it will be used, and Palantir has given them the ability to make that leap.
The new, updated Call to Action from Refuse Fascism states: “What is crucial to understand is that once in power fascism eliminates traditional democratic rights.” This will mean more than just massive surveillance on all those Trump sees as his enemies both inside and outside the country. It will mean that the fascist Trump/Pence regime will use that surveillance to go after people and organizations that are fighting and opposing it.
Revolution has previously reported on the U.S. government’s spying on people in this country and around the world. (See “Five Points of Orientation On the Revelations of Government Surveillance“; “High Stakes in the Apple vs. FBI Face-off”; and “The ‘USA Freedom Act’: Freedom to Spy and Suppress.”) I encourage readers to go back and read these articles that were written during the Obama administration and then think about what is said in the Call to Action concerning the fascist Trump/Pence regime.
What was said in the “USA Freedom Act” article holds true today:
Here’s the real situation: Those who rule this country create all kinds of enemies around the world and within their borders. They justify their massive spying apparatus as aimed at “terrorists,” but the scope and nature of that setup makes it clear to anyone who looks at it with open eyes that it is about spying on everyone and suppressing every kind of opposition to its epidemic of police murder, its wars for empire, its oppression of women, its environmental destruction, its persecution of immigrants, and suppressing legitimate revolutionary struggle.
And we should now add to that list, anyone and any organization that opposes the fascist Trump/Pence regime and the programs that it is implementing. Again, from that article:
Massive government spying is not the result of a security apparatus out of control. It is not the product of a “national security state” detached from the essence of this system, as some critics—including some who have done invaluable exposure—argue. This massive government spying is inherent in ruling over a world of injustice, exploitation, and oppression, and contending with rival powers to do that.
The government may have this “powerful machine for spying,” but on the other hand there are tens of millions of people who hate this regime and what it stands for. If these tens of millions act on what they hate, “together outside the normal channels,” they have the potential to stop this spying machine and those who control it.
Massive government spying needs to STOP!
The fascist Trump/Pence regime needs to be STOPPED and DRIVEN OUT!
Revolution #479 February 20, 2017
February 25, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Srinivas Kuchibhotla, left, poses with Alok Madasani and his wife, Sunayana Dumala, in an undated photo. (Photo: Kranti Shalia via AP)
On February 22, Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani, two young engineers born in India, were relaxing at a bar and grill after work in Olathe, Kansas, a town of 130,000 near Kansas City. Then Adam Purinton, a 51-year-old white man, began belligerently interrogating and harassing them. “He asked us what visa are we currently on and whether we are staying here illegally,” Madasani told the New York Times. (Both Kuchibhotla and Madasani had gone to school in the U.S. and were legal immigrants.) Others reported that Purinton shouted racial slurs and told Kuchibhotla and Madasani they didn’t belong in the U.S.
Other people who were in the bar complained, and the restaurant threw Purinton out. But he came back, armed. He started shooting—reportedly yelling, “Get out of my country!” Purinton murdered Kuchibhotla and wounded Madasani. Also wounded by the gunfire was Ian Grillot, a young white man who tried to stop the shooting. “People call me a hero,” Grillot said at the hospital where he was being treated for his wounds. “I was just doing what anyone should have done for any other human being.”
Purinton fled across the state line to Missouri, where he reportedly told a restaurant employee that he needed a place to hide because he had killed two men from the Middle East. Purinton was captured and now faces murder and attempted murder charges.
After this murderous attack, the Trump regime was asked directly whether there was a connection between this shooting and Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric. Reuters reported that White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Friday that “any loss of life is tragic but it would be absurd to link the action to President Donald Trump’s rhetoric.” And that it was “too early to guess” at Purinton’s motives.
“Absurd”? “Too early to guess”? It would be absurd NOT to link this murder to Trump’s relentless racist demonization of non-white people and people from other countries. The murderer had yelled “get out of my country” before firing his weapon—and it’s “too early” to guess at his motives? Imagine the Trump/Pence regime’s response if a non-white person walked into a restaurant and shot white people.
In reality, this horrendous violence in Kansas against two human beings—reportedly much loved and respected by those who knew them—reveals a lot about the racist, anti-immigrant, anti-foreign hatred being stoked by the fascist Trump/Pence regime. Now every ignorant asshole who thinks the U.S. belongs only to white people... who thinks they can do whatever they want to those they see as “outsiders” and “threats”... who expects other white people to think like them... is emboldened and feels entitled to grill and harass people who look “different” or “foreign” about their legal or immigration status.
This climate—and the ugly acts it inspires and encourages—is not an aberration. It is a core component of the Trump/Pence agenda, and will grow and escalate in unimaginable, horrific ways unless this fascist regime is STOPPED and DRIVEN OUT from power.