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Revolution #481 March 5, 2017
On this crucial International Women's Day, when women face a heightened worldwide assault...
March 6, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
As you are celebrating International Women’s Day, and especially if you are someone who is marking it by standing up against the oppression of women, the most important thing you can know is this: there is an answer to WHY the horrendous, millennia-old oppression of women is not only still going on but now taking a leap... and there is an answer to HOW this oppression can be eliminated from the face of the Earth. There is someone who has done the work to grasp that, to make that understanding available, and on that basis to lead people to carry forward that struggle to actually eliminating the oppression of women. That person is Bob Avakian, and you need to know about his work.
Look at this world we’re in. All around the world, women are degraded, brutalized, assaulted, owned... treated as less than human. In the U.S., the Trump/Pence regime is promising this—and moving to enforce this in ways that are already costing women’s lives—on a whole other level. Trump celebrates rape and sexual assault, pornified viciousness, and violent degradation. He treats women as objects to be owned, ogled, and grabbed at his will while also insisting that women are there to serve men with a model of the traditional family... and he has a program aiming to enforce this. Pence is a theocrat, a Christian fascist who believes women’s role is to be breeders and nurturers, full stop. He thinks abortion should be outlawed under every circumstance—which is nothing more than female enslavement. These dangerous programs have a deep unity: women as objects, the virgin or the whore until they’re a mother with fixed and forcibly maintained gender roles. Women being denied their humanity.
In the past four decades, this oppression has been taken up and intensified as a key part of the political and ideological “glue” of worldwide reactionary movements rooted in religious fundamentalism. On the one hand, religious fundamentalism hammers women into the grip of tradition’s chains. On the other is the equally oppressive and co-existing rape culture, featuring the mainstreaming of ever more violent pornography and widespread sexual assault. Both reinforce the patriarchy and heighten the oppression and degradation of women to new levels. And this has assumed an even more direct and dire urgency with the ascension of the Trump/Pence fascist regime to the height of power in the top imperialist empire in the world, which embodies both those trends. Should they succeed in consolidating their rule, all this will be enforced by the rule of law in a way that will actually slam women into an even worse—a qualitatively worse—situation. Every outrage against women must be opposed and, more than that, it must be linked up to the whole of the fascist program and the resistance needs to become part of a larger movement to drive out this whole regime.
The installation of this fascist regime has been met with significant resistance, with millions filling the streets in countries around the world on January 21, 2017. Millions of men and women from the U.S., to Europe, to India and more came out in the Women’s March. And this resistance has continued since then in important ways. It is righteous and it is beautiful and it must spread. Every outrage against women must be opposed and, more than that, must be linked up to the whole of the fascist program and needs to become part of a larger movement to drive out this whole regime.
People are raising their heads and asking why? Why, in 2017, is THIS what women are facing? And what the hell can be done about it?
If you are seriously asking these questions, then you need to get seriously into Bob Avakian’s work. In fact, if you care at all about this, it is unconscionable NOT to check this out. Bob Avakian (BA) is the architect of a new stage of communist revolution and he leads the Revolutionary Communist Party in the U.S.
If you want to understand what the fight for abortion is really about and why these fascists have so much initiative on this... if you want to know what unites the pornified guy culture and the Christian fascist view of women... if you want to know where the oppression of women came from and how it’s related to the system of capitalism, and why you can’t get rid of it under this system... if you want to know how the stultifying patriarchal gender roles help keep all this locked into place and how the struggle for a different morality contributes to bringing into being a whole new world... if you want to know why we now face the consolidation of a fascist regime and what must be done to fight against it... if you want to understand how the first stage of communist revolution made great strides in the direction of women’s liberation but also how they fell short in important ways... if you want to understand how the struggle for the liberation of women is essential for revolution, and for ensuring it’s an all-the-way revolution that breaks ALL traditions chains and casts off ALL outmoded thinking... then you need to get deeply into BA’s work, the new synthesis of communism overall, including as one essential aspect, his work on the relationship between breaking ALL the chains of oppression and emancipating humanity.
The fact that there are answers to these profound questions is an incredibly precious thing for the people of the world. And it is something that needs to be deeply engaged and spread, with the urgency that these questions merit. BA has developed a scientific analysis, with fury and heart, that makes sense of all this madness and charts a path forward to emancipation, for the women of the world, and for all of humanity.
Find out about Bob Avakian here...
Revolution #481 March 5, 2017
Revised and updated March 8, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Linda Sarsour has said that “If you’re in a movement and you’re not following a woman of color, you’re in the wrong movement.”
This begs the first question that needs to be asked: what problem is your movement seeking to solve? And does the leadership have a basically correct understanding of that problem and the way forward? If the goal of your movement is essentially “a seat at the table” in a monstrous system that grinds up billions of human beings, every hour of every day—then, one criterion is as good as another. But if you are truly trying to change the world, then you have to be serious and critical about what it will actually take.
Especially if your goal is getting beyond this whole system of exploitation and oppression, including the oppression of people based on gender and nationality (or “color”), then you need to overthrow—to defeat and dismantle—the existing power structure. You need a real revolution, bringing in a whole new state power which aims to eliminate, and not merely rearrange, relations of domination and oppression. This has proven to be extremely complex—and the leadership you need in that process must be as scientific as possible in order to understand and give correct leadership to all this, whatever the nationality, gender, or sexual orientation of a particular leader. Any movement built on any other basis will lead only to the same wine in different bottles, and NOT a liberated world.
The questions that must be asked about any leader are these: What is their understanding of the problem? What is their understanding of the solution? What is their method for approaching these questions? And are they working to enable others to take up that method and wield it themselves? And if this understanding and method is taken up by others, where will it lead? These must be the questions raised and the criteria of judgment for anyone serious about the emancipation of humanity.
[Editor’s note: This has been changed from an earlier version which, while making correct and important points as to the character of leadership needed for revolutionary movements, could have been interpreted to mean that the leadership of movements for what are essentially reforms does not matter. This is not true, as some reform movements can be of significant importance in the larger struggle for human emancipation. In the case of movements for any significant reform, both the basic orientation of those who lead it—including whether they truly seek to actually END the abuse they are fighting, no matter what it takes, or on the other hand if, in the end, whether they are in fact seeking nothing more than what boils down to a “seat at the table” in the monstrous system which spawned the outrage in the first place—as well as the fundamental question of how they analyze the problem and how they are leading people to fight it can matter a great deal. Now more than ever this distinction is important to grasp.]
Revolution #481 March 5, 2017
March 6, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
This statement is posted on the blog of Aurora Roja, voice of the Organización Comunista Revolucionaria, Mexico. The translation is the responsibility of revcom.us/Revolution.
From Aurora Roja, voice of the Organización Comunista Revolucionaria, Mexico
On the Occasion of March 8, International Women’s Day:
New Delhi, India, December 2012. Rising up against an epidemic of rape. (AP photo)
International Women's Day, Mexico City, Mexico, March 8, 2011. Sign reads: "Not one more, I want to go into the streets without fear." (AP photo)
Yakiri Rubio, charged with murder for defending herself from a rapist, leads an International Women's Day march in Mexico City, 2014. (AP photo)
For millions of women and men, January 21, 2017 was a day to speak out—to challenge the Trump/Pence regime’s assaults on and threats against women’s rights and human rights in general. The marches showed people’s determination to fight for women’s right to abortion and reproductive rights overall and to defend Planned Parenthood. Many also came out to speak out against Trump’s vicious attacks on immigrants and Muslim people. All this underscores the fact that many, many millions of people really oppose Donald Trump and what his regime represents. Above, more than 200,000 people protested in New York City, among 4 million across the U.S. (Photo: Twitter/@thisisweber)
Enough of the siege of contempt, humiliation, abuse, and brutal violence against women around the world. You are humiliated by women-hating pornography in every newsstand, you are threatened by the “Men’s Club” with their neon flashing figures of women, you are threatened by catcalls and groping by stalking men, the machista songs bombard your mind. You can be beaten, raped, disappeared, or killed—by your ex-boyfriend or your husband, unknown men, drug traffickers, soldiers, or police officers. Every year in the world, more than one million women and girls are stolen, sold and enslaved in the “sex industry” under the threat of death if they dare to try to escape. In Mexico, seven women are killed every day and Mexico is the second country in the trafficking of women in the world, after Thailand. A woman is raped every 18 seconds. If you survive and report it, the judge and the prosecutors defame and blame you. If you become pregnant from a rape, you are denied a legal and safe abortion, even if you are a 10-year-old girl, although it is your right under the law (in most states). If you abort, even spontaneously, they accuse you of “homicide by reason of kinship” and imprison you with sentences of up to 30 years. 700 women are now incarcerated in Mexico (data from the Centro Las Libres, Guanajuato), for not giving birth. Most had miscarriages and the minority decided to end an unwanted pregnancy. Denying women the right to legal and safe abortions is a form of slavery. A fetus is not a baby, a woman is not an incubator, and abortion is not murder.
It is true that the world and the lives of women have changed a lot in recent decades, but one thing that has not changed is that we are not free. Because of the same competitive drive of the profit-maximizing system, and because of women’s struggles, most women go out into the world instead of being enclosed in their home. Millions of women spend their lives making clothes or computers, harvesting tomatoes or cleaning large corporate offices. Many are single mothers, waging the backbreaking struggle to feed and educate their children. The middle class has also grown, more women study careers, some hold privileged positions, which sometimes makes them a target for the brutal revenge of resentful men. These and other changes in the role of women in society are clashing with traditional forms and “values” of patriarchy, weakening in part men’s power to subdue women. That is why powerful economic, political and religious forces are waging a “war” against women around the world to reinforce patriarchy, because they need to keep the subordination of women as a foundation of their entire oppressive system.
For decades, fundamentalist Christian and Islamic forces (and fundamentalist forces from other religions) have suppressed women and reinforced male domination over our bodies and our lives, wherever they can. The fascist Trump/Pence regime in the United States represents a leap in this brutal reaffirmation of patriarchy and a grave danger for all of humanity, because they head up a worldwide empire that crushes and destroys lives all over the Earth. Controlling and subjugating women is central to their fascist program of making the United States “great again” (as well as seeking to impose white supremacy, xenophobia, homophobia, and denying truth and science).
Trump is a bullying misogynist abuser who openly claims the “right” of men to dominate the body and life of women. When you have a president like Trump who boasted of “grabbing the pussy” of women, that sets a new “standard” of vile misogyny for the U.S. and the whole world. Trump has already ordered the denial of federal funds to any reproductive health program in other countries that even gives information on abortion services, which means a brutal attack on the health and lives of millions, because of unsafe abortions, AIDS and lack of medical services in many poor rural areas. He also appointed an anti-abortion fundamentalist judge for the Supreme Court, making it very likely the right to abortion in the U.S. will be eliminated, with international repercussions. Pence is a Christian fascist fundamentalist who seeks a total prohibition not only of abortion, but of contraceptives, sex education, premarital sex, and total repression of lesbians, gays and people with other non-heterosexual identities.
In Mexico, the Catholic Church heads up this “war” to reinforce patriarchy and the values of the Dark Ages. It led the anti-abortion onslaught that imposed anti-abortion constitutional reforms in 18 states just after the partial legalization of abortion in the Federal District [Mexico City] in 2007, with the help of the PAN [a ruling class political party], the then-president Felipe Calderón, PRI [another ruling class political party] politicians, and other parties, and evangelical churches. The prohibition of the right to abortion defended by all these forces has nothing to do with defending “life” and has everything to do with strengthening the subjugation of women to men and the current oppressive social order. In 2016, the Catholic Church and the evangelical churches organized the “March for the Family”—better known as the “March for Homophobia, Patriarchy and the Persecution of LGBTT people”—and they made Peña Nieto stop the Equal Marriage Law.
None of this oppression is “normal.” None of this is due to “human nature” or the “nature of men.” In fact, there was no social oppression of men over women for most of the existence of our species: In the one hundred thousand years of homo sapiens, male supremacy only arose and was imposed about six thousand years ago, when the first class divisions arose. When one group made into their private property the fruit of the labor of others, it also made women into the property of men. Since then, every exploitation-based system has maintained and reinforced patriarchy, changing some of the forms of women’s oppression, but maintaining the root of male domination, through political and religious institutions, social relations, and ideas that reinforce all this oppression. Today, it is necessary and possible to completely eliminate both these things: the oppression of women and the division of society between exploiters and exploited, and one cannot be done without the other.
As Bob Avakian, the Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, says, “The oppression of women is completely bound up with the division of society into masters and slaves, exploiters and exploited, and the ending of all such conditions is impossible without the complete liberation of women. All this is why women have a tremendous role to play not only in making revolution but in making sure there is all-the-way revolution. The fury of women can and must be fully unleashed as a mighty force for proletarian revolution.” (BAsics 3:22, pp. 86-87)
The oppression of women is a fundamental pillar of the capitalist-imperialist system dominating the world. We must fight this oppression in all its forms, while understanding that no new law, protocol, gender alert, or other measure within this system will lead to an end to the intolerable crimes committed daily against women. We will never free ourselves by appealing to the same system that produces all these horrors and criminalizes the victims. The problem is not simply corrupt officials, negligent authorities, or the lack of “human rights education with a gender perspective” for the police and authorities. The problem is patriarchy and the system that maintains and enforces it.
The capitalist-imperialist system dominating the world today can not eliminate the oppression of women, but it has created the material basis for the communist revolution that can eliminate it. The changes in the social role of women are in extreme contradiction with the patriarchal oppression that is reinforced, and this contradiction is a very important part of the material basis for the revolution that can overthrow this system and finally emancipate women and all of humanity.
There is tremendous fury and desire to break free from this oppression among women all over the world. It is not always expressed openly or fully and sometimes it is expressed in wrong ways. But unleashing and fully expressing this fury and the desire to be free must be a fundamental part of preparing and making the revolution that is necessary to finally emancipate all of humanity. This fury and revolutionary potential are reflected in part in torrents of struggle that sometimes erupt and shake up society—as happened in India in 2012 when tens of thousands of people came out to protest the gang rape of a young woman by a group of unknown men who attacked her when she was getting off public transportation; or on April 24, 2016 in Mexico, when thousands took to the streets in several cities against the multiple forms of brutal violence against women; or on January 21, 2017, when four million people took to the streets in the United States, accompanied by thousands more in other countries, in opposition to the misogynist and fascist Trump/Pence regime and the extreme patriarchy that they seek to impose.
Organize now to fight patriarchy and the war against women, with resistance that seeks not only to lessen the intolerable oppression of women, but also to fight to eliminate it, through communist revolution that is being prepared urgently as of now.
Revolution #481 March 5, 2017
March 6, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
March 12, Sunday, 3-6 p.m.
437 Malcolm X Blvd/Lenox Avenue @ 132nd Street
Sunday March 12 ,6:30pm
2444 Durant Ave.
Sunday, March 12
at the new Revolution Club Organizing Center
1857 E. 71st Street
Doors open at 3, Program starts at 3:30
Sunday March 12, 2017 at 3 pm
MCAU Gallery 220 Glendale Blvd (between Temple and Beverly)
Los Angeles, 90027 (Echo Park)
Contact: RevClub_LA@yahoo.com @revclub_la
Revolution #481 March 5, 2017
March 6, 2017, Updated March 22, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
In his speech to the joint session of Congress on February 28, Trump declared, “As we speak tonight, we are removing gang members, drug dealers, and criminals that threaten our communities and prey on our very innocent citizens. Bad ones are going out, as I speak, and as I promised throughout the campaign.”
But, as a matter of fact, the Trump/Pence regime has set in motion attacks on immigrants whose only “crime” is being driven to this country, working, going to school, and trying to survive. People are being swept up in “collateral” arrests simply for being in the vicinity when someone else, who had an arrest warrant, is detained. People are being detained and deported while carrying out normal, legal, day-to-day survival activities. And an atmosphere of terror is spreading.
When Donald Trump talks about “the bad ones,” he’s talking about people like 48-year-old Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez. On February 28, Avelica-Gonzalez dropped off one of his daughters at school in the Highland Park district of Los Angeles, as he has done every day before heading to his job at a restaurant. As he was on his way to drop off his other daughter, 13, at school, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents pulled over his vehicle and seized him while his weeping daughter filmed her father’s detention. ICE said in a statement that Avelica-Gonzalez was arrested because he has “multiple prior criminal convictions.” According to Ricardo Mireles, executive director of the charter school that Avelica-Gonzalez’s daughter attends, those “multiple prior criminal convictions” consist of a DUI conviction from an incident that occurred nearly a decade ago and another run-in with the law 20 years ago after Avelica-Gonzalez said he unknowingly purchased a car with an incorrect registration sticker. As of today, Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez is in custody.
A recent article in the New York Times gave a sense of the range of escalation in the war on immigrants: “In Virginia, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents waited outside a church shelter where undocumented immigrants had gone to stay warm. In Texas and in Colorado, agents went into courthouses, looking for foreigners who had arrived for hearings on other matters. At Kennedy International Airport in New York, passengers arriving after a five-hour flight from San Francisco were asked to show their documents before they were allowed to get off the plane.” (“Immigration Agents Discover New Freedom to Deport Under Trump,” February 25, 2017)
Immigrants in Los Angeles, interviewed recently by the Revolution Club, painted a picture of people living in a state of siege: a girl calling her mother saying don’t come here, ICE is in the neighborhood. A woman said her children tell her, “Mommy, don’t go out. I don’t want them to take you. I don’t want them to take us to a shelter or a place like that.” Word is spreading that people who the government has said are not targets are being deported. And the Revolution Club heard reports that the danger of deportation hangs heavily over immigrant students deciding whether or not to be part of resistance to Trump—something that points to the reality that each day the Trump/Pence regime is able to further tighten its grip on the reins of power, the more difficult resistance becomes.
DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) is a policy implemented by the Obama administration to not deport “DREAMers”—undocumented immigrants who came to this country as young children. These are people who have grown up in this country, often don’t speak the language of the countries of their birth, and who have avoided any significant encounters with law enforcement. In his press conference on February 27, Trump claimed, “We are gonna deal with DACA with heart.” Reality: Since this heartless monster came into office, there have been a number of high-profile arrests of DREAMers or people applying for DACA status.
In one particularly high-profile and egregious case, ICE agents arrested Daniela Vargas, a 22-year-old DREAMer, on March 1, shortly after she spoke at a press conference held by attorneys, churches, and the Mississippi Immigration Rights Alliance in front of city hall in Jackson, Mississippi. Daniela Vargas was brought to the U.S. from Argentina when she was seven years old. Two weeks earlier, ICE agents in Mississippi detained her father and brother outside the family’s Jackson home as they left for work. Vargas barricaded herself in a closet as agents burst into the family’s home. After handcuffing her, agents later released her. Consciously or not (and most likely consciously), the timing of this arrest sent a message that undocumented immigrants, even those qualified for DACA, dare not speak out, tell their stories in public, and expose what is going on.
Other DREAMers have also been seized. A man in Washington state who came to the U.S. as a seven-year-old is facing deportation because ICE claims he associated as a youth with gang members (the man denied ever being involved in a gang). A 22-year-old man in the LA area with no criminal record was grabbed by ICE, and for 10 days, his attorney couldn’t find where he was being detained. A 19-year-old Honduran art student, Josue Romero, with a work permit through DACA, was arrested by San Antonio, Texas, police for marijuana possession as he was leaving a park where he’d been skateboarding. He was turned over to ICE agents and taken to a detention prison. Romero said the ICE agents told him “within the next week I would be flying to Honduras... even when I asked about DACA, they told me there was nothing I could do, that there were no second chances with Trump.” (See “ICE Agents Arrest ‘DREAMer’ After She Speaks at a Press Conference.”)
“Women and children crossing together illegally into the United States could be separated by U.S. authorities under a proposal being considered by the Department of Homeland Security, according to three government officials. Part of the reason for the proposal is to deter mothers from migrating to the United States with their children, said the officials, who have been briefed on the proposal.” (Reuters. March 4, 2017)
This is but a glimpse of the internal day-to-day operation of the Trump/Pence regime’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as they turn depravity into policy. The plan being developed would end the policy of releasing from detention/custody and allowing mothers with children to remain in the U.S. while they await their court hearing to challenge their deportation or have their application for asylum heard before a U.S. immigration judge. Under the new guidelines, according to Reuters, parents would be separated from their children by forcing the parents to remain in custody the entire time while they contest their deportation, or await an asylum hearing. The children would be held until they can be taken care of by a U.S. relative, or a state-sponsored guardian.
The Obama administration deported record numbers of immigrants. But, in the face of global outrage over the situation of young refugees fleeing terrible crime and violence in Central America, Obama implemented the Central American Minors (CAM) in-country refugee processing policy that provided some minimal recourse for these children and their families (for background see “‘Outsourcing’ Deportation Back to Hell”). The CAM policy was suspended by one of Trump’s early executive orders.
And in late February, DHS Secretary John Kelly ordered immigration agents to deport or criminally prosecute parents who facilitate the illegal smuggling of their children. This criminalizes the very act of procuring whatever assistance one can to make the dangerous journey from Central America to seek asylum in the U.S.
From the earliest days of the USA, in addition to extracting colossal wealth from the enslavement of African peoples, the rulers of this country have subjected wave after wave of immigrants to extreme exploitation. In the current era of globalization, the U.S. has literally plundered the world, bringing in immigrants to do the most dangerous and low-paying work in sweatshops, construction, and corporate agriculture, as well as robbing countries like India and Pakistan of skilled professionals in medicine, technology, and other realms. And based on its position atop a world of exploitation, much of humanity’s scientific, cultural, and academic resources are concentrated in the U.S., requiring people from around the world who want to engage in these realms to come here to study or work.
At different times, concessions have been made to struggles for immigrants’ rights, and moves to integrate some immigrants, at some level, into U.S. society. In juggling the contradiction between the need for immigrants and the need to maintain immigrants in an oppressed state, the Obama administration made some concessions (like DACA) while at the same time deporting a record three million people.
But now, the Trump/Pence fascist regime is taking things to a whole new, unprecedented, and extremely ominous level. Trump has demonized immigrants. There is an intensifying climate where xenophobes and racists feel emboldened to attack immigrants—witness the murder of an Indian-American tech worker in Olathe, Kansas, by a man who shouted, “Get out of my country.”
Trump has declared he will take the “handcuffs” off ICE agents. He describes roundups of immigrants as a “military operation.” Lines are being crossed. High-profile arrests of DACA youths... staking out churches to seize human beings seeking shelter from the cold... grabbing people who are appearing in court on matters unrelated to any accusations of crimes or their immigration status... demanding of people arriving in New York from a flight from San Francisco, “Show us your papers”... ripping children from their mothers who have made the horrific journey from Guatemala, El Salvador, or Honduras seeking asylum...
And executive orders and memos from the Trump/Pence regime signal more drastic escalation of the war on immigrants. Trump has threatened to cut off funding for cities that are sanctuary communities, and his Secretary of Homeland Security, General John Kelly, is calling for hiring 15,000 more Border Patrol and ICE agents, and much more tightly integrating local police into rounding up immigrants. Escalating the scale of deportation to the level of ethnic cleansing—including deporting people to countries like Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador where many will face certain death—has genocidal implications.
All this crosses into new territory that is a hallmark of fascist regimes, where anyone, anytime, for any reason, is required to prove to authorities they have a legal right to carry out normal, everyday activities. A society where those who cannot produce “papers” are living in an increasingly untenable situation, caught between persecution and demonization here and deportation to lands where they may have no connections or means of survival. And where expressions of outrage and resistance are met with brutal repression. A society where everyone not directly under siege becomes passively or actively complicit, and the whole culture and climate of society goes dark.
You will see this, from the new call by Refuse Fascism, again and again at revcom.us because it is real and needs to be urgently confronted and acted on:
Fascism is not just a gross combination of horrific reactionary policies. It is a qualitative change in how society is governed. Fascism foments and relies on xenophobic nationalism, racism, misogyny, and the aggressive re-institution of oppressive “traditional values.” In Trump’s election campaign he encouraged and fed on the threat and use of violence to build a movement and come to power. In his inaugural address he pledged allegiance only to this movement. What is crucial to understand is that once in power fascism essentially eliminates traditional democratic rights.
Even as the Trump/Pence Regime is moving fast, they have not yet fully consolidated their regime, or, as yet, been able to implement their full program. But, this is their objective and it is very possible. It might only take a single serious crisis—international or domestic—for this regime to drop the hammer. We do not have much time.
It is in that light that the escalating assault on immigrants needs to be resisted by everyone in society with a heart and a conscience. That resistance needs to be strengthened. And more than that, the Trump/Pence regime must be driven from office.
Revolution #481 March 5, 2017
On the Town Hall Meeting Protests, and the Indivisible Guide's Agenda:
Updated March 2, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
This is a revised and updated version of an article posted earlier.
In cities across the country, angry crowds are confronting Republican members of Congress. On February 21, hundreds of furious protesters confronted Tennessee Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn at a town hall meeting. People angrily denounced her support for ending Obamacare. There was sustained, loud booing when she said she wasn’t aware that Trump had appointed his top adviser Steve Bannon to the National Security Council. She was booed again when she defended education secretary Betsy DeVos. And again, when in response to a question about whether it’s right to have an immigration policy that excludes Muslims and favors Christians, she claimed, “Christians have seen incredible persecution.” (For background on Bannon, DeVos, and the rest of Trump’s cabinet, see “Trump’s Team of Theocrats, War Criminals, Ghouls, & Neo-Nazis.”)
The confrontations at town hall meetings are a positive element of resistance to Trump. And they are a vehicle through which many people who have never been “political” are awakening to political life, and in turn organizing others. At the same time, there is a cohering analysis, vision, and agenda around which people are being mobilized and led for these town hall confrontations that leads away from what it will take to stop Trump. It is articulated in “Indivisible: A Practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda.” At the core of its vision and strategy is the assertion that “The authors of this guide are former congressional staffers who witnessed the rise of the Tea Party. We saw these activists take on a popular president with a mandate for change and a supermajority in Congress. We saw them organize locally and convince their own MoCs [Members of Congress] to reject President Obama’s agenda. Their ideas were wrong, cruel, and tinged with racism—and they won.”
But that’s a wrong understanding of the “rise of the Tea Party.” And the implications for what needs to be done now are dangerously out of sync with reality.
The Tea Party was not in any fundamental way some kind of grassroots uprising. On an obvious level, the Tea Party was sponsored by forces like Fox “News,” funded by the reactionary billionaire machine of the Koch brothers, and backed by other powerful institutions.
Even more fundamentally, the Tea Party was an expression of powerful forces at the top of U.S. society, in the ruling class, who for decades have been moving to radically reshape U.S. society in a leaner, meaner, drastically more repressive way in response to profound challenges to the stability of the U.S. empire and its “homeland” in today’s world. Part of this has meant grooming an American fascist movement, taking different forms at different times, both outside and inside the structures of power. This movement has both been utilized by different ruling class forces and, to a degree, has a life of its own.
There is not some force among the other sections of the ruling class attempting to really cohere an uncompromising movement of those who are the targets of fascism and/or who morally oppose it because such a force, out in the streets and refusing to leave the streets until their basic demands have been met, would potentially pose too much of a threat to the system as a whole. That is, once such social forces politically awaken and begin raising questions, in the view of these rulers there is too much danger that this could break out of the confines of politics as usual.
For the Republicans (or at least very powerful sections of them), bringing the Tea Party reactionaries into the streets and whipping them up “worked” because the prejudices and demands of this backward and ignorant section of people conformed to a fascist agenda. The point is this: The Tea Party was part of a much larger strategy, over a whole period of decades, backed by very powerful forces. And now Trump has cohered these forces and trends to make an actual move to fascism.
On the other hand... the Democrats will not and cannot do that. They aim to attract and claim to speak for progressive people. But the things that progressive people want—like an end to white supremacy; ending the subjugation of women; protecting the environment; treating immigrants as human beings; an end to unjust wars—these things cannot be solved under this system. And so, in the eyes of the leaders of the Democratic Party, calling progressive people into the streets creates the real danger (as they see it) of people bumping up against and breaking out of the terms set by this system. And that is not acceptable to them. They are a party of the ruling class and their role is to maintain this system. Listen carefully and critically to the terms they consistently set, like constantly framing things in terms of “our [sic] national interests,” and you can see that.
In short, the Tea Party could and did serve the fascists, but a mass mobilization of, and uprising by progressives does not contribute to, but threatens the whole setup that the Democrats are an essential part of. The conditions and dynamics that gave rise to this situation are deeply analyzed in “The Truth About Right-Wing Conspiracy... And Why Clinton and the Democrats Are No Answer,” by Bob Avakian. This is a work that anyone who wants to understand the roots and the dynamics of Trump’s election should dig into.
Right now, humanity confronts a historic danger in the Trump/Pence regime. However, we live in a moment when it is still possible to prevent the full consolidation of this regime and build a movement capable of ousting it. How long this window will remain open is not predetermined; it could be slammed shut at any time, for instance, with an incident (whether real or staged) that Trump/Pence could exploit to assume extraordinary powers.
Yet Indivisible intends essentially to put up with the Trump/Pence regime for two years while preparing public opinion to elect more Democrats to Congress in 2018. This is explicitly spelled out in the Indivisible Guide in Chapter 1: “[B]y objecting as loudly and powerfully as possible, and by centering the voices of those who are most affected by their agenda, you can ensure that people understand exactly how bad these laws are from the very start—priming the ground for the 2018 midterms and their repeal when Democrats retake power.” [emphasis added]
A fundamental problem with that is, the choices people get in elections are not mainly or in any essential way defined by grassroots activism. More powerful forces at the top of society determine who gets to run for office (how much funding they get, what kind of coverage they get in mainstream—that is, ruling class—media). These powerful forces, the ruling class, define what people are told the important issues and legitimate terms of debate are. And nobody, at the top of this system, is right now proposing anything like an agenda to stop, undo, and reverse what Trump is doing.
But even taking Indivisible on its own terms and assuming that the Democrats would run candidates focused on ousting this whole fascist regime and removing the threat (which, again, is very unlikely, given that very few if any elected Democrats have even articulated such a stance) and that such candidates would actually win and then would be able to “make good” on this promise, this not only wouldn’t work but is extremely dangerous.
First, look at the shocking pace at which the Trump/Pence regime has implemented its fascist agenda in a month! Trump declares the mainstream media an “enemy of the people.” Roundups of undocumented immigrants are extended daily into new reaches of society. Environmental regulations are shredded. Protection for trans students is being stripped away, exposing them to bullying and dehumanization. And the Trump/Pence regime has not just attacked what Trump calls “so-called judges” but the rule of law. After the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals stayed the implementation of Trump’s ban on people coming into the U.S. from seven predominantly Muslim countries, White House policy adviser Stephen Miller made a series of high-profile appearances on Sunday network news shows. In response to the 9th Circuit ruling, he told Fox News, “The president’s powers here are beyond question.” And, “We don’t have judicial supremacy in this country.” Immediately after this, Trump tweeted, “Congratulations Stephen Miller- on representing me this morning on the various Sunday morning shows. Great job!” Constitutional law scholar Erwin Chemerinsky responded, “President Trump is claiming that no court can review the constitutionality of his actions and essentially that he need not obey a court’s ruling.... The very essence of the rule of law is that no one, not even the president, is above the law. The president, like all others, must follow court orders.”
Second, Trump has adopted an extremely warlike America-first posture, including a much more aggressive development and use of nuclear weapons. If Democrats like Clinton and Obama said before the election that it was too dangerous to entrust Trump with nukes, we have to ask: What the hell has changed? Has he proved to be less dangerous? Or have they decided that the continued existence of this system, even with Trump/Pence at its head, is more important than “the dangers” in people going outside the normal channels to demand the ouster of this regime?
Finally, Indivisible is wrong to reduce what we face to a set of “bad laws.” As Refuse Fascism has said in its Call:
Fascism is not just a gross combination of horrific reactionary policies. It is a qualitative change in how society is governed. Fascism foments and relies on xenophobic nationalism, racism, misogyny, and the aggressive re-institution of oppressive “traditional values.” In Trump’s election campaign he encouraged and fed on the threat and use of violence to build a movement and come to power. In his inaugural address he pledged allegiance only to this movement. What is crucial to understand is that once in power fascism essentially eliminates traditional democratic rights.
Even as the Trump/Pence Regime is moving fast, they have not yet fully consolidated their regime, or, as yet, been able to implement their full program. But, this is their objective and it is very possible. It might only take a single serious crisis—international or domestic—for this regime to drop the hammer. We do not have much time.
What will stop Trump? The answer lies in people stepping outside the deadly confines of working through the very system and structures that put Trump in power. Mass resistance is critical. But unless the Trump/Pence regime is driven from office, resistance will be a series of battles fought on worse and worse terms. In the name of humanity, the focus of people who are outraged by Trump has to be to drive out the regime. Refuse Fascism has a vision and a plan for that. Their new Call says:
We must ORGANIZE: working with all our creativity and determination toward the time when millions of people can be moved to fill the streets of cities and towns day after day and night after night, declaring this whole regime illegitimate—Demanding, and Not Stopping, Until the Trump/Pence Regime Is Driven from Power.
If this happens, then the whole political landscape would be dramatically transformed, every faction within the established power structure would be forced to respond—and all this could lead to a situation in which this fascist regime is driven from office.
That organizing includes—very importantly—being out among everyone who is outraged by and acting to oppose the crimes the Trump/Pence regime is carrying out, and the worse ones they are rapidly preparing to carry out, no matter how they understand the problem. And in doing so engaging, and struggling with people, to confront what we are really up against. To do that, go to RefuseFascism.org. Read and sign the Call to Action. Spread it into the town hall meetings, and everywhere else. Infuse everyone outraged with what is happening to take up the single unifying objective to drive this regime from power, in the name of humanity.
Revolution #481 March 5, 2017
March 6, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Students, educators, and academics are among the millions upon millions across the U.S. who are profoundly disturbed and angered by the rise of the Trump/Pence regime to power and their moves to remake the form of political rule in this country into fascism. There were widespread walkouts, rallies, marches, and meetings on campuses after the election and around the inauguration. And campus protests have continued. There is a definite stirring among sections of students and faculty who are being compelled—by the outrages being committed by the Trump/Pence regime and the danger they see of even greater horrors—to act and speak out, and call on others to do so. This awakening of resistance on campuses is much needed, and it needs to be supported and spread much more broadly.
In recent weeks, one of the most important expressions of opposition on the campuses to the fascist regime was an editorial statement by a group of faculty members at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that calls for “acts of collective resistance” against Trump. The statement signers point to the dangers of normalizing Trump and what his regime is doing, including in particular the attacks on the scientific method: “As MIT faculty, we are particularly troubled by this President’s blatant disregard for the scientific method and by his administration’s attempts to gaslight the American public with the presentation of ‘alternative facts,’ a dangerous absurdity that threatens the tenets of empiricism, the rigor of rational argument, and the judgments that might follow from reasoned debate. Democracy and the rule of law depend upon facts. We cannot cede these.”
The statement says it is crucial to actually name what is happening now as “the first steps toward authoritarian government or even fascism.” The signers call for “a resolution recognizing the danger of the rise of an authoritarian regime in America and declaring our dedication to collectively fight, as faculty of MIT, and with faculty of other institutions of higher education, to ensure that the root of fascism does not take hold in this country.” Coming at a time when the Trump/Pence regime is moving rapidly ahead on its fascist agenda, this statement by faculty members of one of the most prestigious universities in the world is very timely and potentially of great impact. (“MIT Faculty Editorial Calls for ‘Collective Acts of Resistance’ Against Trump”)
One particular recent outrage from the Trump/Pence regime that sparked student protest was the February 27 meeting between Trump’s education secretary, Betsy DeVos, and more than 60 officials from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). This included a photo op that caught the HBCU officials smiling and chatting with Trump. To add insult to injury, DeVos said after the meeting that HBCUs were “real pioneers in school choice.”
As Carl Dix of the Revolutionary Communist Party says, the HBCUs weren’t a result of “school choice,” as claimed by DeVos, who aims to gut public schools and funnel students, in the name of “choice,” into private schools that train them as Christian fundamentalist robots. “Part of keeping Black people in the U.S. subjugated has been keeping them shrouded in ignorance. Part of the struggle against that subjugation has been fighting to break out of that enforced ignorance. It was in the face of this complete denial of educational opportunities that HBCUs grew and developed.” (“Somebody Needs to Tell Betsy DeVos: The Struggle Against Denying Black People Education Wasn’t a Fight for School Choice”)
One of the HBCU officials at the meeting with DeVos and Trump was Howard University president Wayne Frederick. Howard is one of the top HBCUs in the country. Frederick’s shameful face-to-face with DeVos and Trump was met with protest by many Howard students. Sharp graffiti appeared on campus saying things like “Welcome to the Trump plantation. Overseer: Wayne A.I. Frederick” and “Wayne Frederick doesn’t care about black people.” And on March 2, student protesters righteously disrupted a campus event marking the 150th anniversary of Howard. (“Howard Students Protest After Black Colleges Meet with Trump”)
The Howard protesters said they got support—in the form of tweets, student organizations reaching out, and exchanges on group messaging apps—from students at other prominent Black schools Spelman, Morehouse, Hampton, and North Carolina A&T as well as others. A sophomore at Morehouse College told Fader magazine about the HBCU presidents get-together with Trump, “There is nothing Donald Trump can do that’ll benefit Black and brown folk because his ideologies don’t include us... What disappoints me is that so many of them [HBCU presidents] went with real expectations of a fascist doing something good for Black folk.”
The escalating fascist attacks on immigrants are also touching off protests among students and professors. In one recent action, professors at the University of Houston Downtown campus took to the streets on February 22 against a bill being pushed by Republican state legislators that targets cities and other local jurisdictions that declare themselves to be sanctuaries and do not cooperate with the hunting down and capturing of undocumented immigrants. If the bill becomes law, campus security will be turned into immigration police. As one professor at the protest said, “We want our students to know that we stand with them, regardless of their immigration status.” (“University of Houston Profs Protest Campus Cops Becoming Anti-Immigrant Enforcers”)
The continuing resistance on the campuses points to the concern and outrage among students and faculty against the fascist Trump/Pence regime and their mounting attacks on the people, coming quickly one after another. There is a real possibility—and urgent necessity—for this resistance to become much broader, deeper, and more determined, as part of society-wide mass resistance.
As the Call to Action from Refuse Fascism says:
...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.
Revolution #481 March 5, 2017
March 6, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
It was disgusting to witness leaders of most of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) crowding into the Oval Office of the White House last week to get into a picture with Donald Trump. Trump called, and these HBCU presidents came running in hopes of securing more funding for their schools. These HBCU officials were making it known that they could be bought to help Trump blunt accusations of being racist. Look at the backdrop against which this photo op was pulled together.
The Trump/Pence regime has issued executive orders that "take the gloves off the police" (police who have been caught on video murdering and brutalizing Black and Brown people again and again); back away the Department of Justice from following through on already completed federal investigations that documented widespread police abuse in Chicago and Baltimore (because they feel this kind of scrutiny makes it harder for police to do their jobs); and reverse a previous policy of phasing out use of private prisons (because they will be needed "to meet the future needs of the federal correctional system"). Donald Trump has said that he will send in the feds to "fix" the problem of crime and violence in Chicago if the city doesn't take care of it.
This is part of an overall offensive the Trump/Pence regime has in store for Black people. And his promises of jobs for the inner cities will in reality come down to a few jobs doled out to buy enforcers for the regime's program—Black police, jail guards, and immigration agents—or in exchange for supporting, or at least accommodating, the reign of terror the Trump/Pence regime will enforce on top of the centuries of hell Black people have caught in this country. Trump talks about public schools being "flush with cash," signaling an intention to destroy public education and send students to schools that train them as Christian fundamentalist robots, unable to think critically or resist. This offensive will greatly accelerate the slow genocide Black people were already being hit with.
Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos' statement that "HBCUs are real pioneers when it comes to school choice" was not only flat-out wrong. It was also a hint at what kind of educational opportunities the Trump/Pence regime has in store for Black people. As funding for public schools gets diverted to vouchers for charters and private schools, the already highly segregated schools will take a giant step back. And students will be increasingly faced with choosing between public schools that are even more underfunded than they are now or Christian fundamentalist mis-education.
And all of this is being done as part of steamrolling ahead in consolidating a fascist form of rule in the U.S. As the Call to "Drive Out the Trump/Pence Regime" issued by RefuseFascism.org states: "Fascism has direction and momentum. Dissent is piece by piece criminalized. The truth is bludgeoned. Group after group is demonized and targeted along a trajectory that leads to real horrors. All of this has already begun under the Trump Regime."
Look at the meeting of HBCU officials with Trump, DeVos, and other government officials against this backdrop. The hint that there would be a chance to put their concerns before the president and there might be additional funding for their schools was enough to get officials from most of the HBCUs to flock to the White House and crowd into the Oval Office for a photo op with Trump. The actual outcome of this session was seven of the HBCU leaders getting to speak for one minute each, and a symbolic shift of responsibility for an already existing HBCU initiative from the Department of Education to the White House, plus getting into the picture.
There has been opposition to the way these HBCU officials danced to the Trump/Pence tune. The day after the White House meeting, graffiti appeared on the campus of Howard University saying: "Welcome to Trump Plantation. Wayne A.I. Frederick [Howard U's president] overseer." Several HBCU presidents issued statements that they were dissatisfied with the results of the meeting because they didn't really get to discuss their concerns or present requests for funding at it. One HBCU president even made sure students and faculty on his campus knew that he hadn't attended the meeting.
But being dissatisfied about the payback for their disgusting performance still leaves those HBCU officials standing on the wrong side of things here. Even if some money had been cut loose out of this meeting, it's fucked up for these HBCU officials to come running when Trump called. It signals that a lot of them are ready to carry water for the fascist regime, giving it cover as it launches vicious attacks on Black people. This amounted to practice for being part of a 21st-century version of the Judenrat, the Jewish councils the Nazis set up to facilitate the subjugation of and eventual attempt to exterminate the Jews in Europe. These councils administrated the ghettos that Jews were forced to live in and even picked which Jews were sent to the camps, until they themselves got put on the trains and shipped to those camps.
There is a leap involved in going from smiling at a photo op intended to undercut the widely held, and correct, view of the Trump/Pence regime as being stone-cold racist to enlisting as an enforcer of the fascist program. But skinning and grinning with Trump, DeVos, and other members of this regime is a step in exactly that direction.
We don't need HBCU "leaders," or anybody else for that matter, kissing up to Trump for a seat at the fascist table. We need people to be sounding the alarm over what kinds of horrors this regime will mean for Black people, and for all of humanity, and working to build a movement aimed at ousting this regime. This is a fascist regime, and no one who is concerned about the future of Black people, let alone all of humanity, should ever accommodate or collaborate with it.
Revolution #481 March 5, 2017
March 6, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
"The Trump/Pence Regime is a Fascist Regime. Not insult or exaggeration, this is what it is. For the future of humanity and the planet, we, the people, must drive this regime out…
"Fascism has direction and momentum. Dissent is piece by piece criminalized. The truth is bludgeoned. Group after group is demonized and targeted along a trajectory that leads to real horrors. All of this has already begun under the Trump Regime. History has shown that fascism must be stopped before it becomes too late."
RefuseFascism.org is organizing people across the country to rise to the challenge of driving from office the fascist Trump/Pence regime, before it is too late. A key part of RefuseFascism’s plan is the Drive Out the Trump/Pence Regime National Tour. Organizers set out on February 26 from NYC in a van to go to the South heading to Texas – areas where the two futures for the country and world are starkly contested.
The Tour is going to hotspots where the lines are sharply posed. The Tour is reaching out to campuses and small towns that want to get organized to put a stop to fascism. This Tour will be a dynamic factor on the national terrain with people following its progress, learning of its impact taking inspiration and redoubling their own efforts. As people are resisting the outrages of the Trump/Pence regime around the country, as people are building Refuse Fascism in the big cities and campuses, the Tour can galvanize the hearts and minds of people who want to say NO! to the fascist Trump/Pence regime and oust it from office.
The Tour pulls up to college campuses and rallies students in the quad. It meets up with and work with people who’ve been following Refuse Fascism on social media. When it arrives at hotspots that are on the frontlines of struggle against different aspects of Trump’s fascist program, the Tour connects up with individuals and groups who have been resisting… religious organizations, student groups, immigrants rights activists, new anti-Trump groups, and more.
Those who encounter the Tour directly, or hear about it and reach out to it, will be worked with by the National Office to go out and organize even more people to become organizers. The Tour is not just inspiring people nationwide, but is a seeding machine to build organization and movement to make history by driving out this regime.
RefuseFascism.org features photos, reports, and lessons of the Tour as it travels so that people nation-wide can follow it, bring it to their area, and join its efforts. Through social media and media coverage it generates, the Tour will project its message out into society.
There are several key ways people can help make this Tour a success:
Day 5 – Charlotte, North Carolina to Atlanta, Georgia:
March 5, 2017 by Refuse Fascism
The Refuse Fascism National Tour volunteers woke up early this morning to travel from Greensboro to Charlotte, NC, where we attended an organizing meeting and Tour send-off at a coffee shop. We were joined by activists from Indivisible and MoveOn.org, the organizers of Resist Trump Tuesdays in Charlotte, some college students, a high school student, people from a communist collective, and a Greenpeace activist who had been arrested for protesting the Rex Tillerson hearing (we originally met her in court in DC because two of our Tour members were arrested for protesting Jeff Sessions confirmation hearing). The meeting began in "a very Southern way," as one Charlotte activist put it. A Reverend, who also works as a professor and is affiliated with the NAACP, led a prayer about the importance of equality and rights for all people. We had a great turnout and were all blown away by the strong enthusiasm of the crowd, their powerful sense of urgency, and consistent participation throughout the meeting and afterwards.
One Volunteer began with a presentation on the Call to Action, emphasizing examples of the manifestation of fascism in the Trump/Pence regime and building on the crowd's excitement and willingness to get to work right away. After another Volunteer gave a compelling fundraising pitch, she was immediately followed by a community activist who stood up to drive home the need for financial support for our food, transportation, and materials. The atmosphere of the meeting reminded some Tour members of a church service; all attendees openly affirmed the points we were making, clapped and nodded in support, and participated freely to contribute their own ideas, concerns, and goals.
We spoke about the implications of fascism for the United States broadly, but we also discussed some of the issues in North Carolina specifically. The state received extensive media attention and came under fire from reasonable people around the world for denying our transgender siblings—especially young children in schools—the human right to use the bathroom corresponding with their gender. After former President Obama outlawed this shockingly cruel action of the state, Trump wasted no time in his first month repealing this motion and stripping protection from an entire group of people, who are absolutely, unquestionably deserving of equality and safety. We also discussed voter suppression and the movement for redistricting the state because of the illegitimate gerrymandering that benefits the right wing.
An important question came up during the meeting from the Reverend, who commented that the widespread message of NO!, while powerful and useful, may be overwhelmingly negative. He asked, because we are advocating for refusal so much, what exactly are we saying "yes" to? It is implicitly clear that, as we deny fascism the rise to power they hunger for, we promote human rights, love, and equality. One Tour Volunteer, though, gave our audience an unbelievably moving and very significant response: "Imagine if everyone in Nazi Germany stood up and said NO!, and stopped the Holocaust before it started. Think of the Abolitionist movement. We do not remember the Abolitionists as the people who said 'yes' to no slavery. They said NO! We will not accept this. There is nothing more positive than saying NO! right now."
One of the greatest outcomes of this meeting was the concrete organizing we were able to do. Each of the Volunteers shared their own story and then linked it with a direct plan of action the people of Charlotte could take to join the movement to drive them out. We were actually able to create a Refuse Fascism Charlotte chapter on the spot by interacting very personally with the audience. One Volunteer asked for each person who would be interested in joining the new chapter to raise their hands, and she then asked who would be able to host the first meeting. By the time we left, the new chapter was set up and had planned a conference call with the Refuse Fascism national office for the next morning.
On top of this accomplishment, we inspired two people to join us on the Tour. There were also talks of the Charlotte chapter holding a fundraising with the goal of raising money for a NO! billboard in the city. We received donations and distributed more materials than we had at any other meeting. Afterward, all of the Volunteers had more intimate conversations with attendees, gathering detailed information about what brought them to our movement and what can help them in moving forward from here. Once we got back on the road, we received a text from two women who attended the meeting with pictures of posters they put up all around the city after leaving the coffee shop. We are enlivened by the spirited mood of all the Charlotte organizers we met, and we're proud to have been able to inspire them toward actual, quick action to move millions now. We left them with an understanding of the necessity of working now to remove their power because fascism moves at a rapid pace, actively seeking any opportunity to dismantle democratic and human rights.
We spent the afternoon traveling to Atlanta, where several kind and welcoming hosts greeted us. We all had a group dinner at a nearby Nepalese restaurant, and we were able to discuss recent events in Atlanta, upcoming protests, and all of the meetings and events we have planned, including a Tour welcoming party we're looking forward to tomorrow. The food and conversation were wonderful, and we were able to begin preparing for our radio interview, activist training session, teach-in with Sunsara Taylor, and the other plans we have for our stay in Atlanta. We are so grateful to the awesome activists in Charlotte and our hosts from the Refuse Fascism Atlanta chapter for their hospitality, support of the Tour, and passion for organizing and spreading the unifying NO! message. Together, the existing chapters and the new ones we're initiating in the cities we visit on Tour will guide organizers to recruit more leaders to educate the entire nation and the world on what fascism is and why it is undeniably present in this unacceptable, horrifying Trump/Pence regime. These are the people who will bring millions into the streets to refuse. With their amazing dedication and fervor pushing us forward, we will organize, we will mobilize, and we will drive these fascists out!
Follow the tour every day at refusefascism.org
Revolution #481 March 5, 2017
From a member of the Revolution Club at UCLA
March 1, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
I tell everyone I talk to to read “The Truth About Right-Wing Conspiracy... And Why Clinton and the Democrats Are No Answer” from Bob Avakian because it does a really good job of explaining why we’re in the situation we’re in, which is a big question people are up against: why is this happening? I think everyone needs to engage this piece because even as we’re uniting together from all kinds of different perspectives to oust this regime, people have to come to learn that this is coming from the same system of capitalism, that we can understand it, and that combating this fascist regime requires resistance on terms that are in the interests of humanity, not the terms set by the Democrats (which lead people to ultimately accept this, and which don’t even recognize or admit that it is fascism).
This piece from Bob Avakian really gives people a sense of the material basis for fascism to be implemented right now. This is something that is missing in people’s understanding. What fascism is and that it’s a leap to a different form of rule. People are missing the understanding of the necessity that the ruling class is facing. And this could lead to people missing out on really big questions. For example, the contradictions of imperialism and how they see their necessity in terms of ISIS.
It also draws from all different sources and really paints a picture of their agenda. What they are actually after?
Before I read it, I didn’t have a sense of the history of how the fascists were dealing with Bill Clinton. I didn’t know anything about Clinton and what he represented. I was surprised to find out how much they were going after him even though he was the most conservative Democrat up to that point. Some of the things that were used against him were policies that he himself was putting forward. BA does a really good job of explaining why that is. Why even though he seems to have a lot of unity with the fascists, there is still that element that BA talks about in “The Fascists and the Destruction of the ‘Weimar Republic’... And What Will Replace It.” That in order to implement fascism, you have to go after bourgeois democracy.
The main thing I came to understand is that it’s not the conflicts floating up in the air but rooted in how the sections of the bourgeoisie see their necessity. Problems they are trying to solve, from the perspective of cohering and advancing their empire, and differences over how to solve those problems.
The direction is similar in that, at this time in the world, capitalism needs to become more repressive given the development of the economic situation internationally to the point where you don’t have freedom to have all these social programs like the New Deal. It helps understand the material basis for the rise of fascism and why Clinton was such a conservative Democrat. And it sets a foundation to understand the conflicts in the ruling class. What terrain is that happening on?
You get this stuff all throughout society of just calling these fascists crazy or making psychiatric evaluations because people don’t understand the reasoning behind their actions. Or some people just think it’s all to make profit, really narrowly understood. If you don’t understand the real deeper reasons for this, you’re not going to understand how this is connected to the necessity they’re facing around the world: with Islamic fundamentalism, how the slow genocide against Black people can speed up to a fast one... or the struggle around abortion. How they see the potential unraveling of the social fabric of America because of the rise of diversity and multiculturalism. Fascism isn’t just some crazy matter of preference but how they see dealing with the deeper problems they’re facing.
People don’t go there and part of problem with that is they don’t see how serious this is. How they’ve been working for decades to implement this fascist program and the material basis in the laws, flowing out of the deeper dynamics economically and politically. But there is a material basis for them to do what they say they’re going to do.
It makes a difference in whether people understand this as a whole fascist program with momentum and a material basis vs. these people are just crazy and going after people’s rights or going after particular groups of people that they hate but not seeing the reasoning behind that other than prejudice.
Also, the article explains that the Democrats have a lot of unity with the fascists and how these fascists are actually taken seriously, that the fascists are seen by the Democrats as a legitimate voice in the discussion about how to solve these problems. It gives you an understanding of why you can’t rely on the Democrats to solve this. And why, along with taking back the political initiative, we have to be challenging the fascist morality. BA gives the example of abortion and what it has meant that the Democrats have given the moral high ground to the fascists by saying abortion should be “safe, legal but rare” instead of “abortion on demand and without apology.” Those are the terms that have been set and have confused so many people, and we have to change those terms. This is not about babies but about whether women are going to be treated as full human beings. Similar with internationalism and how people are being trained to think in terms of America first and American lives are more important than other people’s lives.
You can see sparks of opposition to that in the airport protests, but we really have to bring people that internationalist orientation. I keep thinking about the sentence in the new Call to Action from Refuse Fascism: “It might only take a single serious crisis—international or domestic—for this regime to drop the hammer. We do not have much time.”
We could be one attack away from them dropping the hammer. So if people don’t have the right orientation when something like that happens, you can see how people might be scared into submission. And they’ve already been influenced by the idea of America first by the fascists and even the Democrats. Look at what Bernie Sanders cohered people around, even in a more “progressive” way.
The more general thing I came to appreciate a lot more from BA’s article is the need for people to be able to analyze society in a scientific way. If you’re not understanding where things are coming from, you will be led to all kinds of different directions and all kinds of non-solutions and people won’t fight in a way that is commensurate to what we’re dealing with. That’s too much of what we’re seeing now.
Again, even as we’re uniting together from all kinds of different perspectives to oust this regime, people have to come to learn that this is coming from the same system of capitalism, that we can understand it, and that combating this fascist regime requires resistance on terms that are in the interests of humanity, not the terms set by the Democrats (which lead people to ultimately accept this, and which don’t even recognize or admit that it is fascism).
And for those who recognize that America was NEVER great and who through the process of this are looking for answers. For those who do not want to settle for bourgeois democracy with all its “softer” horrors, they have to know that this system has no solution to the problems that plague humanity; and the only way to deal with the contradictions faced by the ruling class in a way that is in the interests of humanity is to make a revolution and to bring into being the society envisioned in the CONSTITUTION For The New Socialist Republic In North America authored by Bob Avakian. There’s a way to really understand the world in all its complexity, a whole other way the world can be, and a strategy for how to get there.
Revolution #481 March 5, 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."
Another experience I want to touch on here, which also holds important lessons in terms of method and approach, is the experience with Nepal, where, unfortunately, at another critical juncture (the coming together and concentration of a lot of contradictions), the leadership of the Party there went off the revolutionary road. I referred to this earlier in talking about how the argument was made to them: You comrades face a lot of great necessity, but you should not impose unnecessary necessity on yourself. And here, once again, the question was posed: With a revolution that, in an overall sense, you consider to be part of the same revolution in the world that you’re a part of—even if it has its own particularity, as the revolution in every country does—what do you do when you can see that this revolution is going off track and will plunge over a cliff if it keeps going the way it’s going? As people should know, we wrote many letters to the Party in Nepal, sharply raising criticisms of the line they were pursuing after a certain point.71 Now, when we first started recognizing this, around 2005–2006, we didn’t come out in Revolution newspaper and say: “The revolution in Nepal is not being led in accordance with the new synthesis of communism, therefore it’s no good.” No! That’s not what we did at all. We raised, in letters that were not at the time made public: Here is our understanding of the actual contradictions you’re dealing with, and here is why we think you’re dealing with them in the wrong way. If you give up on the goal of overthrowing the present regime, and instead try to go on the parliamentary road of electing yourself into a position of running the government under the present system, and with the present state still in power and in effect, you are going to be swallowed up by that system, and all the gains of the revolution that you’ve achieved so far—waging people’s war in the countryside, establishing revolutionary political power in parts of the countryside, carrying out some land reform, lifting certain burdens of oppression from women—all that’s going to be given up, and the revolution will end up being abandoned and defeated.
What were the conditions and contradictions they were confronting? At that point, besides the people’s war they were waging in the countryside, there was a big upsurge in the cities, in particular the capital, Kathmandu. The country was being ruled by a monarchy, and there was a mass movement that got to the point of demanding the abolition, the overthrow, of the monarchy. Now, it was correct that they couldn’t stand aside from that movement, and act aloof, as if, “Oh, we’re off over here doing our people’s war, and that struggle in the capital doesn’t mean anything, that’s just a bunch of bourgeois reformist stuff.” It was correct for them to take part in and fight to lead that upsurge in the capital in a revolutionary direction. But in the process of it, they came to accept, more and more, the terms that were being set by that movement, as it was. To go back to what Leibel Bergman raised in regard to Zhou Enlai, the question is not “Why would the Nepalese comrades want to go revisionist?” It’s not that they “wanted” to go revisionist. There were certain shortcomings in their understanding of things all along, and there were some in the leadership who were more and more openly arguing for a bourgeois-democratic orientation, but mainly they were on the road of revolution and making important advances on that road. But they ran up against certain new obstacles and contradictions—they came up against the prospect of not just fighting more limited battles in the countryside against outposts of the police and sections of the Nepalese army, but actually having to fight the backbone of the Nepalese army. Behind that was India threatening to intervene to put things down if the revolution got too far, and the U.S. and other imperialists were looming in the picture, as well as China, which pretended to be supportive in some ways, but if the Nepalese Party continued on the revolutionary road, would turn against it. These were very real things that they had to deal with.
In this context, we waged several years of struggle, very concretely. And every time they raised to us, “You don’t understand, this is what we’re up against,” we did not say, “It doesn’t matter, you’re violating basic principle.” We very seriously dug into what they raised to us, the conditions they were pointing to when they said, “We have to do this because this is what we’re up against.” We did not dismiss any of that out of hand. We went into all of it, to evaluate it as thoroughly as we could. We even questioned: Well, maybe in this situation they do have to do this. But we always arrived at the conclusion that, no matter how difficult it would be to remain on the correct road, if they went on the road they were increasingly taking—the road of accommodation with the existing system and state power—they would give up the whole thing. There was certainly no guarantee of victory—they might get defeated if they persevered on the road of revolution, and that would constitute a serious setback, not just in that country but for the revolution in the world as a whole—but it would be much worse to throw away the revolution by taking the road of revisionism and betraying the masses of people who were willing to sacrifice to fight for this revolution, because they had come to see it in their interests.
Here again we see the difference between dialectical materialism and determinism in the name of materialism, where you analyze the conditions before you, but you don’t look at the larger picture and the deeper underlying dynamics and contradictions. For example, on the one side, it’s true that, had they continued on the road of revolution, there would have been a real possibility of powerful forces—India, perhaps China, maybe even the U.S. or other imperialists—intervening more directly against them. But it also would have raised the banner of revolution and communism powerfully in the world and set off a lot of contradictions, or sharpened a lot of contradictions, including in countries like India. And if they’d been able to hold out for a while, things could have gotten very sharp in India, in terms of exposure of the Indian government for its role in opposing the revolutionary struggle in Nepal. Once again you come to a juncture like this and you don’t know in advance, you can’t say, how all this might turn out; but if you just look at what’s immediately before you and the difficulties you’re up against right then, and you don’t grasp the potential to transform necessity into freedom and set off a whole chain of events which might get contradictions going in a whole different way, in your more immediate circumstances and more broadly in the world as well, then you’re going to take the road of revisionism because it seems to be more “realistic.”
In relation to this situation, in assessing our responsibilities and recognizing the need to struggle sharply, we understood that the point is not to act like a “petty critic” finding fault with and poking at every little thing you don’t agree with. It’s so ironic, you hear certain opportunists saying, “The RCP, they just denounced what was happening in Nepal on the basis of a misreading of a few Marxist works, like the Critique of the Gotha Programme72 and The State and Revolution.73” This from people who never carried out any scientific analysis of the actual concrete conditions facing the revolution in Nepal, but were just trying to jump on a bandwagon to say, “Well, we can still call ourselves Maoists even while we’re betraying everything we’re supposed to have been about.”
At every stage, every key juncture, we were very assiduously, very systematically, digging into things. Even far into this process, when it had become more and more clear that the Nepalese comrades were going completely onto a trajectory leading to disaster, there were a few times when there would be a little spark of something that raised the possibility that maybe they were trying to get back on the right road, and each time we would jump at that and try to figure out if there were something there that could and should be united with and encouraged. This was our approach even for some time after we had published our letters openly, which put the whole struggle out to the world—for several years after that, whenever there was any kind of a spark, we would look very seriously into it. Why? Because this was not some kind of contest to determine who was the “better Marxist.” The reason we didn’t go along with what they were doing in Nepal was not out of any considerations like that. The orientation with which we proceeded, and what we were doing our best to analyze—and this is what I want to really drive home—is this: What is actually going to advance the revolution that the masses of people need, and what is going to take it over a cliff? Once again, it’s a question of applying science to the question of for whom and for what. This is what it means to be a strategic commander of the revolution.
71. These letters were openly published in 2009. See Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, "On Developments in Nepal and the Stakes for the Communist Movement: Letters to the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, 2005–2008 (With a Reply from the CPN[M], 2006)," January 29, 2009. Available at revcom.us. [back]
72. Karl Marx, Critique of the Gotha Programme, 1875. [back]
73. V.I. Lenin, The State and Revolution, 1917. [back]
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 #481 March 5, 2017
February 27, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Tuesday night, on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show, I said: “A fascist regime has seized the reins of power in the sole superpower in the world. Trump and Pence are operating out of Hitler’s playbook, only they have nuclear weapons.”
The next morning, Fox News assembled a panel to debate whether I had “gone too far.” The Democrat on the panel, Julie Roginsky, insisted that only people who carry out mass genocide deserve such a comparison. She further argued that Hitler had immediately eradicated all opposition in the Reichstag (German parliament) and enforced all sorts of laws that she believed Donald Trump “would not enforce,” but also “wouldn’t be allowed to enforce.” All the pundits agreed: “Certainly there is no place to analogize anybody to Adolf Hitler in American public life today.”
I disagree. But, I am glad this question has come up. A lot can be learned by honestly exploring it.
First, let’s get something out of the way. History never repeats itself exactly. During Hitler’s rise, Germany was coming out of defeat in World War 1, was in the throes of a major depression, and faced a popular communist movement and broad sections of very combative and progressive working people. The U.S. ruling class does not face that situation. But it does face an international situation increasingly fraught with challenges to its geopolitical, military, and economic domination. It does face a situation in which different sections of the ruling class are sharply divided over the “legitimating norms” of society—that is, the common set of values and morality around which the society is broadly understood, held together, and cohered. Quite a bit of this crisis flows out of the conflict between the foundational and structural character of the U.S. as a white supremacist society, and the way this has been challenged over the past 50 years—both through righteous liberation struggles and through major demographic changes, like the growing number of immigrants. And while the U.S. does not face a major depression right now, there is no work for huge sections of the working class (speaking here of the multinational U.S. working class, made up of Black, Latino, Arab, Asian, and other nationalities, as well as white), living standards and future prospects have gone significantly down for sections of the working class that do have jobs, and large sections of the middle class also face great uncertainty.
So, no, the U.S. does not face the exact circumstances of Germany; but the contradictions and problems it DOES face have proven extremely intractable. In the face of this, there have been increasingly strong fascist currents brought forward over a whole period of decades. In this situation, Trump has been able to cohere forces and come to power determined to carry out a fully fascist restructuring of society. And let us not fail to notice, Trump has already inherited—and has vowed to massively strengthen—a repressive apparatus that goes far beyond what Hitler inherited when he came to power. And, Trump—unlike Hitler—has unchecked personal control over the world’s largest nuclear arsenal and is clearly itching to use it. During a briefing, he asked three times, “If we have nuclear weapons, why can’t we use them?”
Next, let’s set the record straight. In contrast to the simplistic and inaccurate view put forward by Roginsky (as well as Carlson), Hitler did not carry out all his greatest crimes on day one or even his first years in power. For example, while it was clear from the beginning Hitler had an anti-Semitic program of eliminating Jews from German society, this went through a process which included leaps as well as periods of stability during which many Jews unfortunately convinced themselves that the “worst was over.” The wave of terror and the laws expelling Jews from many aspects of public life and the economy in 1933-34 caused tremendous suffering and humiliation, but was still not on the same level as Kristallnacht—the night of the shattered crystal—in 1938 when some 7,000 Jewish businesses were ransacked, over 1,000 synagogues were burned, many Jews were murdered, and tens of thousands were rounded up to concentration camps. And even that was not the same as the decision to carry out the full-on mass extermination of Jews which was made in 1942.
Roginsky is probably familiar with the famous quote from Pastor Martin Niemöller. What did he say? That they came for everyone all at once? No. He said, “First they came for the communists, but I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a communist... Then they came for the Jews...” and on and on. He describes a process that was telescoped, but still a process nonetheless... and when you look at what Trump has already been doing, it is stark how far along the process today already is. It’s not for nothing that as early as midweek of Trump’s first week in office, protest signs started popping up that read, “First they came for the Muslims, then they came for the Mexicans, then the women, then the climate scientists, then the media, then LGBT people... and then it was Wednesday.”
Hitler utilized the incident of the burning down of the German legislature (the “Reichstag fire”) that took place early in his regime to single out the communists in particular for severe repression to jump-start this process. Trump has not yet had such an “incident” to use, but once one happens—whether it be something along the lines of the Orlando massacre or something staged or some combination of the two—does anyone doubt he will attempt to seize on this to qualitatively escalate repression? Even without such an incident, the dizzying pace of Trump’s repressive assaults should serve as warning.
So, what is the essence of this process? RefuseFascism.org has written: “Fascism has direction and momentum. Dissent is piece by piece criminalized. The truth is bludgeoned. Group after group is demonized and targeted along a trajectory that leads to real horrors.” Fascism is not just a collection of horrific policies, it is a qualitative change in how society is governed. Longstanding political and social norms are shredded, violence is whipped up and unleashed against demonized groups, the ability of the people and of oppositional forces within the governing structures to disagree or resist is obliterated with democratic rights essentially eliminated. All this sets the stage for, and makes it immeasurably difficult to resist, unfathomable horrors.
This is what Hitler did, and this is what the Trump/Pence regime is moving aggressively right now to do as well. Let’s walk through the most essential features and dynamics of Hitler’s program and how these same essential features are manifesting themselves today by the Trump/Pence regime.
Trump, like Hitler did, came to power by lambasting all who opposed him as “enemies” and whipping up violence against them and the people. This goes far beyond the normal rivalries and often vicious power struggles within the ruling class. And this goes far beyond the “normal” levels of unjust government repression—political arrests and imprisonment, racist police terror and mass incarceration, massive spying and more.
Think about it: Trump led frenzied chants that his opponent should be locked up. He suggested she should be assassinated. This is important to grasp: fascists MUST attack and destroy the previous “rules of the game” which allow a certain degree of space for disagreement and argument over how to defend and extend capitalism-imperialism and intimidate other sections into silence in order to implement the radical re-ordering of society they intend.
And they DO intend to not just maintain but to qualitatively intensify the repression that masses of people face in this society. Trump openly longed for the days when protesters were “carried out on a stretcher” and offered to pay the legal fees of anyone who assaulted a protester. He bellows endlessly about “law and order” (police state terror against Black and Brown people), has massively expanded deportation forces and begun terroristic raids, all while downplaying or excusing the violence unleashed by his supporters against immigrants, Muslims, Black people, and others. Again, this is coming on top of—and intensifying—the already existing levels of terror and repression against those groups to a far more dangerous level. And it is just the beginning. Fascism rules through the open use of unrestrained legal and mob violence.
Trump, like Hitler did, has open contempt for the truth and violent animosity towards anyone who challenges his LIES. This goes far beyond the regular lies told by politicians and media. Trump is not only a world-class, habitual LIAR, he is working aggressively to destroy anyone who challenges his LIES. He calls the media “Fake News” and barks at them to “sit down” if they don’t ask “nice questions.” He has gone so far as to declare the media “the enemy of the people,” with the full threat of violence and suppression this implies. He sends his political hitmen out to repeat his lies and to insist, as Stephen Miller did, that the president is always “100 percent correct.” And now, even as I am finalizing this piece, the news is breaking that the Trump White House has barred the New York Times, CNN and other long-established bourgeois media from attending their press briefing, even as they have allowed in fascist outlets like Breitbart and others. Again, all this is just the beginning. Fascism insists on a centrally determined “narrative” in which there is no objective measure of what is true, and is determined to break any voice or institution that does not comply with this narrative.
Trump, like Hitler did, is subverting the separation of powers and building supreme and unchecked power in his executive branch. This goes far beyond even the grotesque expansion of the executive power enacted by George W. Bush and carried forward by Barack Obama. Trump has repeatedly made clear his intent to openly defy the courts. In his inaugural address, Trump broke with precedent by refusing to pledge any responsibility to abide by the Constitution, instead pledging allegiance to the people who supported him. When the acting attorney general acted on the mandate of the U.S. Constitution, rather than the wishes of Trump to violate that Constitution, Trump immediately fired her. When a court blocked his January 27 Muslim ban, he called the judge a “so-called judge” and set him up as responsible for anything bad that happens to the U.S. Then he sent out his stone-cold advisor, Stephen Miller, to hammer home: “[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)
Trump, like Hitler did, has fostered a seemingly “mystical” bond between himself and the section of the population he deems deserving of the title “the people”—meanwhile defining “the people” in an extremely narrow, openly racist way that feeds the logic of genocide. Contrary to popular caricature, when Hitler came to power he initially toned down his hate-speech against Jews (even as his minions continued anti-Semitic agitation and actions). Instead, he invoked his absolute devotion to the German Volk (i.e., the people)—but everyone knew that Hitler didn’t consider Jews, Roma people, communists, or others he demonized to be part of “the Volk.” Similarly, Trump has pledged his allegiance repeatedly to “the long-forgotten American people.” But everyone knows he is not talking about Muslims (who he’s demonized and is working to ban), Mexicans and other Latinos (who he is already violently rounding up and deporting), Black people (who he threatens with even greater racist assault from the police and prisons with the code words “law and order”), women (who he bragged about sexually assaulting and said should be “punished” for abortion), or anyone who refuses to submit to his openly white supremacist, woman-hating, xenophobic program (recall his threat to imprison and strip citizenship from flag burners).
At the same time, Trump—like Hitler did—puts himself forward as a single, strongman leader against the “elites.” This coded language against “elites” (read: intellectuals) is straight out of the Hitler playbook, by the way, which goes along with the anti-Semitism that also suffuses the Trump movement.
Actually, the Hitler analogy in this case could serve to underplay how dangerous Trump is: Hitler did not come to power in a society which had built itself on the genocide of one people and the enslavement over the course of centuries of another, and then the imposition of a system of racist oppression even after that enslavement ended. All the more reason to fully confront the utter catastrophe the consolidation of Trump/Pence would represent and why it is so urgent to drive them out.
Trump has come to power at a time when the U.S. is confronting major changes in the world and internally that threaten to spin out of control. Powerful uprisings and protests have shaken this country against police murder of Black people and others, even as white supremacy has surged. The country is equally polarized around the role of women, immigrants, LGBTQ people, the importance of science and reality of global climate change, and more. Starkly different visions of morality, justice, and humanity contend in a way not seen since the 1960s, and perhaps the Civil War.
Internationally, U.S. military and economic supremacy is threatened—by wars that have gone disastrously wrong in the Middle East and North Africa, by emerging threats from China and Russia, and many other factors. The post World War 2 economic and political order is going through upheaval, with the rise of reactionary and racist nationalism and fascism going on throughout Europe and the U.S., while Islamic fundamentalist jihadism continues to gain ground in the Middle East, North and now sub-Saharan Africa, Central Asia and Indonesia. 65 million people are refugees from military and ecological catastrophe.
Trump seeks to violently reassert U.S. supremacy in the world and to remake society in a way that not only holds things together, but “Makes America Great Again” no matter what the cost. In doing so, Trump has drawn together several strains of fascism that have been building in this country for decades, including various white supremacists, as well as powerful (often overlapping) Christian fascist forces with enormous influence in the courts, the military, and high finance. This Christian fascism—with its enslaving view of women—echoes the Nazis as well, who criminalized abortion (for “Aryan” women) and erected a vicious cult that exulted motherhood while shaming and then eliminating women who would not or could not “breed” for the nation. Bob Avakian sounded the alarm on this 20 years ago and has developed this analysis since, and I urge anyone seriously trying to understand what we face to dig into this work. (Trump’s reliance on the Christian fascists is, ironically, one area where he could be said to differ from Hitler, who forged a different cohering morality; but in both cases, there was an absolutist moral code which deemed some people to be sub-human and undeserving or humane treatment.)
All these elements—and others which are gone into in various articles and analyses at www.revcom.us—work together as part of a package. As revcom.us has written, “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.’”
But, Tucker Carlson taunted me, “If it’s a fascist regime, how are you on this show?”
This was nothing but a debater’s trick distortion. I clearly said a fascist regime has “seized the reins of power,” not that it has fully consolidated and locked their fascist order into place. And, that is exactly the point. Just like the key to treating a particularly aggressive cancer is to catch it before it has spread throughout the whole body, so is it necessary to rise up and drive out a fascist regime before it is too late.
Quoting again from Refuse Fascism’s Call to Action, “Even as the Trump/Pence Regime is moving fast, they have not yet fully consolidated their regime, or, as yet, been able to implement their full program. But, this is their objective and it is very possible. It might only take a single crisis—international or domestic—for this regime to drop the hammer. We do not have much time.”
For the very same reason that Hitler analogies shouldn’t be made lightly, when the analogy does shed light on the situation that we face every single person better look into it deeply and act accordingly, and with great urgency.
Go to RefuseFascism.org. Read and sign the Call to Action. Spread it everywhere. Act together with people across this country to carry out the four essential tasks identified: take up the single unifying objective to drive this regime from power; spread the symbol NO!; meet every outrage from the regime with growing resistance; and organize—working with all our creativity and determination toward the time when millions of people can be mobilized to stay in the streets night after night and day after day, demanding and not stopping until the Trump/Pence Regime is Driven From Power.
Do this not just for ourselves, but in the name of humanity.
Revolution #481 March 5, 2017
February 28, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On February 27, Lauren Enriquez, of the anti-abortion Human Coalition, wrote an op-ed in the New York Times attempting to put a compassionate spin on the hateful enslavement of women. Titled, “How the New Feminist Resistance Leaves Out American Women,” she defended the Sexual-Predator-In-Chief and whined that the Women’s March the day after Trump’s inauguration had excluded science-denying, women-enslaving fanatics like herself.
Now, let me make clear. I am not a feminist and I do not speak for the Women’s March. I am a supporter of the Revolutionary Communist Party led by Bob Avakian, which sees the fight for the complete liberation of women as not only an essential component, but as a driving force, in the revolution we are fighting for to emancipate all of humanity from every form of exploitation and oppression. But, as such, I not only attended but deeply appreciated the incredible outpouring that was the Women’s March.
With that, let’s take apart some bullshit.
HOWLING LIE #1: Enriquez complains that the marchers expressed all-around disgust at Donald Trump. She claims that the image of Trump as a “misogynist hellbent on sending women back to 1950s America” is a “caricature.”
TRUTH: Give me a break! If anything, the 1950s are mild and downright liberated compared to the world of horror Trump and Pence are fighting to impose on women. Trump is a vile, boastful sexual predator. He revels in demeaning, humiliating, and hurling gutter-level slurs at women and girls. But this is not all. Trump is actively tapping into, whipping up to new levels, and consciously unleashing a growing feeling of resentment and revenge among broad sections of men at women for ever having broken out of the suffocating oppression of women of the 1950s. “[W]hen I come home and dinner’s not ready, I go through the roof,” he’s boasted, expressing the feeling of male entitlement to women’s servitude and validating violent resentment if the woman is not subservient enough.
On top of this, Trump has teamed up with Mike Pence and a whole cabal of outright Christian fascists. Together, they promise the most draconian and cruel criminalization of not only abortion, but—if they are not stopped—even birth control. With today’s surveillance state, pervasive violence against abortion providers, and Trump’s threat that women who get abortions should be “punished”—they could send women back not only to the bloody back-alleys, but to the prisons and to drown in the oceans of shame and scorn this regime is fostering and unleashing and which is still just in its early stages.
HOWLING LIE #2: Enriquez writes, “To us, ‘resistance’ has to include opposition to the lie that freedom can be bought with the blood of our preborn children.”
TRUTH: After dousing cheap perfume on the misogynist snorting PIG that is Trump, Enriquez has zero right to speak for—or advise—the “resistance.” And stop with the “blood of our preborn children” bullshit. Fetuses are not babies. Abortion is not murder. Women are not incubators.
Enriquez cynically appeals to the massive levels of anti-science in U.S. society to peddle the anti-scientific notion that fetuses are children. They are not. Fetuses (just like zygotes and embryos at earlier stages of pregnancy) have the potential to become people, but they are not yet people. They are part of a woman’s body. They are a subordinate part of her body. Meaning, the fetus only grows and continues to develop as long as the woman eats, breathes, and lives. If she terminates (aborts) the pregnancy, she is destroying a form of life—but not a human life. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
Enriquez is also cynically appealing to the thousands of years of tradition’s chains that insist that women’s most essential role and duty is to sacrifice themselves to serve husbands and his children. In Enriquez’s twisted view, the mandate is for women to be breeders and any deviation from that is “craven” and “selfish.” This is wrong. Women have no obligation to carry a pregnancy to term. In fact, simply being pregnant is a terrible reason to have a child. The only good reason to have a child is if the woman wants a child and feels ready and able to care for it the way she chooses. If not, she should have an abortion. This is not “selfish”—it’s responsible and healthy.
HOWLING LIE #3: Enriquez insists that because “most American women” feel that abortion “should be completely illegal, or legal but with significant restrictions,” one cannot really be for women unless they accommodate the "anti-abortion women" who feel this way.
TRUTH: This is really two lies in one. First, there’s the dishonest statistical sleight of hand. Because public sentiment on abortion is deeply divided, if you flipped the way the question was asked, you’d get the opposite answer: Most American women feel that abortion should be available on demand or restricted in some circumstances, still legal and safe.
But even more fundamentally, the method is flawed. You don’t determine what is liberating to women—or to anyone else—by taking a poll. You do it by examining the objective effect of the viewpoint or policy being put forward. Even if there wasn’t a single woman on the entire planet who thought so, it would be true (i.e., it would correspond to reality) that forcing women to have children against their will is a form of enslavement. A society that denies women the right to decide for themselves when and whether to have a child is a society that does not view or treat women as human beings, but instead as property of men and breeders of children. Enriquez can obscure this because she is playing on thousands of years of tradition’s chains. But that doesn’t change the truth: denying women control over their own reproduction is a keystone to the society-wide oppression and degradation of women and it has been for thousands of years.
But even with that, it is a fact that millions and millions of women—as well as many millions of men—do NOT buy that enslaving crap. This is very important. And it’s very important that all these people get even more clear on the incredible dangers facing women—and humanity as a whole—at the hands of the Trump/Pence Regime. There can be no compromise with these haters of women—no matter what package it’s wrapped in. We must sound the alarm, wage uncompromising struggle against every attack on women and drawing forward wave upon wave of others alongside us, and we must link this with—and this must fuel—the fight to drive the fascist Trump/Pence Regime from power before it’s too late.
Revolution #481 March 5, 2017
March 6, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Shortly after the election of the Trump-Pence regime, Sunsara Taylor wrote about the danger of their victory to women, in “What Trump’s Victory Means to Women: Unparalleled Danger and the Need for Massive Outpourings of Resistance.” She begins this way:
It is impossible to overstate the danger of the Trump/Pence victory to women. I am not talking about an undesirable but incremental “rollback of women’s rights.” I’m talking about a brutal beatdown intended to leave women bloodied and bruised, nursing their wounds in humiliated silence while cradling the rape babies they’ll be forced to bear. No, I am not fucking exaggerating.
Trump is a walking, talking embodiment of rape culture, of vindictive revenge, of cruel degradation and violence against women....
Trump has married this program with that of his vicious and cruel running mate. Mike Pence hails from the most extreme wing of the Christian fascists—what could accurately be called the American Taliban....
How Trump’s wealth and fame give him the ‘freedom’ to sexually assault women: “When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything... Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.”
And degrade them: “I did try and fuck her. She was married. I moved on her very heavily.... I moved on her like a bitch, but I couldn’t get there and she was married. Then all of a sudden I see her, she’s now got the big phony tits and everything.” [Talking to Billy Bush of Access Hollywood) on the set of the soap opera Days of Our Lives!]
Trump on the role, and ‘job,’ of women: “I mean, I won’t do anything to take care of them [children]. I’ll supply funds and she’ll take care of the kids. It’s not like I’m gonna be walking the kids down Central Park.” [On Howard Stern show, 2006]
“For a man to be successful he needs support at home, just like my father had from my mother, not someone who is always griping and bitching."
Trump upholding ugly male domination as expressed in the military: "26,000 unreported sexual assaults in the military―only 238 convictions. What did these geniuses expect when they put men & women together?" [Trump tweet, 5/7/2013]
And to New York magazine, “Women, you have to treat them like shit.”
Donald Trump’s verbal assaults on Rosie O'Donnell:
a "degenerate," a "pig," a "fat pig," a "big pig," a "beast," a "slob," a "loser," "dumb," "desperate," and "fat."
After Rosie stopped responding to his insults: “I hit that big pig face.” [According to The New Yorker, 7/27/2015]
When Trump was asked by MSNBC‘s Chris Matthews: "Do you believe in punishment for abortion?" "The answer is that there has to be some form of punishment"... ["For the woman?"] "Yeah"...
In support of his bill to defund Planned Parenthood: "I long for the day that Roe v. Wade is sent to the ash heap of history." He signed legislation to require fetuses to be buried, or cremated: "I sign this legislation with a prayer that God would continue to bless these precious children, mothers and families."
He opposes homosexuals in the military: "Homosexuality is incompatible with military service because the presence of homosexuals in the ranks weakens unit cohesion."
He opposes LGBTQ citizens being covered by anti-discrimination laws: "Congress should oppose any effort to recognize homosexuals as a ‘discreet and insular minority’ entitled to the protection of anti-discrimination laws similar to those extended to women and ethnic minorities."
He opposed providing condoms to people in Africa in an effort to combat the epidemic of HIV: "The timeless values of abstinence and marital faithfulness before condom distribution are the cure for what ails the families of Africa. It is important that we not just send them money, but we must send them values that work."
He believes children are harmed emotionally if mothers work: "For years, we have gotten the message from the mouthpieces of the popular culture that you can have it all, career, kids and a two-car garage...Sure, you can have it all, but your day-care kids get the short end of the emotional stick.” [1997 op-ed, “Day-care Kids”]
Revolution #481 March 5, 2017
March 6, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Bob Avakian recently wrote that one of three things that has "to happen in order for there to be real and lasting change for the better: People have to fully confront the actual history of this country and its role in the world up to today, and the terrible consequences of this." (See "3 Things that have to happen in order for there to be real and lasting change for the better.")
In that light, and in that spirit, "American Crime" is a regular feature of revcom.us. Each installment will focus on one of the 100 worst crimes committed by the U.S. rulers—out of countless bloody crimes they have carried out against people around the world, from the founding of the U.S. to the present day.
THE CRIME: The “War on Drugs” was first called for in 1971 by then President Nixon, launched in earnest by President Ronald Reagan in 1982, and stepped up or continued by every U.S. president since. This “war” has been justified in the name of combating “rising crime,” protecting people from “drug lords” and “drug gangs,” and/or ending the “scourge” of drugs and drug addiction.
In 1982, Reagan officially launched this “war,” and made it a central focus of his administration (1981-89). Police, DEA, and other law enforcement budgets soared. Between 1981-91, for example, the DEA budget soared from $86 million to $1,026 million, while the FBI’s rose from $38 million to $181 million. Meanwhile, budgets for drug treatment, education and prevention were drastically reduced.
During the 1980s and 1990s, the “War on Drugs” was one justification for the tremendous expansion of military tactical units (SWAT) and the militarization of local police forces. Police frequently terrorized whole neighborhoods, kicking down doors and aiming assault rifles and other artillery at residents in mostly Black and poor neighborhoods. Above, Washington DC raid by U.S. Marshals, 1989. (AP photo)
The media whipped up hysteria over the spread of a new drug, crack cocaine, and targeted Black communities where the drug was being used for vilification and attack. Racist code words and derogatory stereotypes like “crack whores,” “welfare cheats,” and “gangbangers” began to populate the mainstream media landscape.
In 1986, Congress passed the draconian Anti-Drug Abuse Act, changing the penal system’s focus from rehabilitation to punishment. Under the bill, penalties for the cheaper crack cocaine were 100 times harsher than for powdered cocaine, ensuring people of color and the poor were locked up much more frequently and for much longer than white people.
This war was not about bringing down crime; it was about ramping up social control.
During the 1990s, the Bill Clinton administration, with the active support of Hillary Clinton, escalated the system’s overall war against the oppressed with the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act and other measures. They continued and stepped up the “War on Drugs”, including by “dismantling welfare as we know it.” This forced millions, especially Black people and Latinos, into desperate poverty, and youth in particular were effectively driven into the drug trade as their only means of survival. Then the system targeted these youth for incarceration, branding them “super predators.”
The “War on Drugs” continued with no substantial changes under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
This so-called “War on Drugs,” (together with other racist and draconian measures) has exacted a horrific toll on the masses of people, devastating the lives of millions, especially Black and Latino people.
The "war on drugs" has been a major driver in the more than quadrupling of incarceration -- from 474,000 in 1980 to 2.3 million today. While the majority of inmates in Federal and State prisons at any given time in recent decades are not incarcerated for drug offenses, drug offenses (mostly petty, nonviolent drug possession) have accounted for almost a third of total admissions each year. Black people have been the main victims of this "war," and the effects have been "devastating." According to The Brookings Institute, "[B]lacks are 3 to 4 times more likely to be arrested for drug crimes, even though they are no more likely than whites to use or sell drugs. Worse still, blacks are roughly nine times more likely to be admitted into state prison for a drug offense." (See sources at end.) Today over 745,000 Black men are imprisoned, and the U.S. has the highest overall incarceration rate in the world.
By the 1990s, marijuana possession accounted for close to 80% of drug related arrests. Study after study shows the rate of drug use among white and Black people are almost identical (both less than 7.5%), yet in 2013 an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) report showed that Black people were almost four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than a white person.
Today one in every 100 Black women is in prison. Black people comprise some 13 percent of the U.S. population, yet Black youth make up 26 percent of juvenile arrests, 44 percent of youth detained, 46 percent of youth sent to criminal court, and 58 percent of youth admitted to state prisons. Today more Black men are under the control and supervision of the criminal justice system (either locked up, on parole or under some form of post-incarceration control) than were enslaved in 1850.
During the 1980s and 1990s, the “War on Drugs” was one justification for the tremendous expansion of military tactical units (SWAT) and the militarization of local police forces. Police frequently terrorized whole neighborhoods, kicking down doors and aiming assault rifles and other artillery at residents in mostly Black and poor neighborhoods. In April 1987, the LAPD carried out “Operation Hammer,” with 1,000 cops invading South Central Los Angeles and arresting over 1,450 people in one weekend.
Millions have been stripped of their basic legal rights, including due to the “War on Drugs.” Author Michelle Alexander sums up:
Full-blown trials of guilt or innocence rarely occur; many people never even meet with an attorney; witnesses are routinely paid and coerced by the government; police regularly stop and search people for no reason whatsoever; penalties for many crimes are so severe that innocent people plead guilty, accepting plea bargains to avoid harsh mandatory sentences; and children, even as young as fourteen, are sent to adult prisons. Rules of law and procedure, such as “guilt beyond a reasonable doubt” or “probable cause” or “reasonable suspicion,” can easily be found in court cases and law-school textbooks but are much harder to find in real life. (“The New Jim Crow,” Chapter 2).
As factories have left the ghettos and barrios, this system hasn’t responded by providing better education and new opportunities for these youth. Instead, drugs have been allowed to flood the inner city, including with the active involvement of the CIA during the 1980s. Many inner-city youth have been funneled into the drug trade—making them more vulnerable to constant harassment, arrest, imprisonment and social isolation. Imprisonment rates have exploded to the point that shuttling between the hard hustle of the streets and the harder times in prison has become a dominant mode of life in many oppressed inner-city communities—a lifetime of lockdowns.
Because of all this, the “code of the streets” became more deeply rooted: rules of survival borne of the shark-like competition in the illegal economy. This mentality sets terms for inner-city youth more broadly, with the resulting horrific “Black-on-Black” violence and violence between Black and Latino youth. Politicians and mainstream media talking heads deplore this carnage, but then usually use it as an opening for further demonization of Black youth in particular—right down to inventing a category of “feral super-predators”—and a justification for further police terror and repression (covering up the system’s responsibility for this nightmare).
All this had led to the situation where today Black people are facing a slow genocide. The so-called “War on Drugs” has played a central role in this monstrous and historic crime.
President Richard Nixon: First officially called for a “War on Drugs” in 1971 as part of trying to suppress the massive social and political upheaval at that time. He explained his thinking to his top aide H.R. Haldeman: “... you have to face the fact that the whole problem is really the Blacks. The key is to devise a system that recognizes this while not appearing to.”
President Ronald Reagan: He and his wife Nancy Reagan led the first huge surge in this, and pioneered the widespread use of racist code words like “welfare queen” and “predators” to fan resentment and anger towards poor Black people. Nancy Reagan launched her “just say NO” campaign as part of this war, including her 1989 made-for-TV photo-op with an LAPD-SWAT team battering down a door in South Central LA in a raid that arrested 14 people but netted one gram of crack.
President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton: Greatly stepped up the overall war on the masses of which the “War on Drugs” was one part, escalating police brutality, murder, and mass incarceration—nearly doubling the prison population. This included the 1994 Crime Bill signed by Clinton. It expanded the death penalty, encouraged states to lengthen prison sentences, including with lifetime mandatory sentences (three strike laws), eliminated federal funding for inmate education, and allocated $9.7 billion for building more prisons. They championed the “one-strike-you’re-out” policy that evicted public housing tenants if they or even their guests were accused of any drug-related offense or other criminal activity on or off the premises. The huge growth of homelessness today, where areas like Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles remind one of shantytowns in South Africa, can be directly traced to these Clinton-era policies.
The CIA: played an active role in the “crack epidemic” during the 1980s in particular, helping flood inner cities with cocaine. The CIA’s actions were linked to Reagan’s wars in Central America, which also destroyed millions of lives there, and whose impacts continue to be felt today. This murderous connection was documented by the late journalist Gary Webb in his book The Dark Alliance.
The U.S. Supreme Court: Over these decades, the Supreme Court upheld many laws that propelled forward this war against the people, such as mandatory minimum sentencing laws, and laws that were formally “color-blind,” but were actually aimed at Black and other people of color. Cruel mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenders were consistently upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. For example, in 1982, they upheld 40 years of imprisonment for someone convicted of possession and attempt to sell 9 ounces of marijuana.
The Department of Justice, the FBI, police and sheriffs departments across the country (the entire system of law enforcement); and the political establishment (the Congress, the Democrats and Republicans, etc.) all supported and were complicit in this “War on Drugs.”
THE ALIBIS: Richard Nixon first called drug abuse “a serious national threat,” and later “public enemy No. 1.” The “War on Drugs” has been justified by the need to remove drug dealers and kingpins in order to bring down rising drug use and violent crime, especially in the Black and Latino neighborhoods. In particular it was claimed that it was needed to stop the crack epidemic that was ravaging these communities.
THE REAL MOTIVE: Starting with Nixon, this “War on Drugs” marked one key front in a strategic decision by the ruling class to wage a counter-insurgency campaign against the masses of Black people, particularly inner-city youth, and later Latinos.
Nixon secretly spelled this out to his top aides. One, John Ehrlichman, said in a 1994 interview: “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people.... We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”
So from the start, the “War on Drugs” and other racist, repressive measures, have been aimed at preventing the kind of mass upheaval and rebellion that erupted so powerfully during the 1960s. As conditions have gotten even more desperate for the masses of Black and Brown people in the decades since due to the workings of global capitalism imperialism, the rulers of this system—both Democrats and Republicans—have continued and intensified Nixon’s basic approach, sharing his fear of the latent revolutionary potential in those this system has cast off, and for which it has no future.
“Top Government Official Admitted: The ‘War on Drugs’ IS a War on the People,” Revolution, April 11, 2016
Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, The New Press, 2010
“The Oppression of Black People, The Crimes of This System, and the Revolution We Need,” Revolution, October 5, 2008
Antonio Moore, “The Black Male Incarceration Problem Is Real and It’s Catastrophic,” The Huffington Post, April 9, 2015
“War on Drugs,” Wikipedia
“The Exponential Growth Of American Incarceration, In Three Graphs,” ThinkProgress, May 29, 2014
Jonathan Rothwell, “Drug offenders in American prisons: The critical distinction between stock and flow," Brookings, November 25, 2015
“How the CIA Created the Crack Epidemic,” Revolutionary Worker, September 15, 1996
“The CIA’s Role in the Crack Epidemic,” Revolutionary Worker, December 15, 1996
“The CIA/Crack Connection: Interview with Gary Webb,” Revolutionary Worker, October 27, 2014
Revolution #481 March 5, 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 #481 March 5, 2017
March 6, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Ohio State House, Columbus, Ohio, March 4. (AP photo)
On Saturday, March 4, diverse groups of people small and large came out in many state capitals and cities around the country to counter and oppose pro-fascist rallies, called “March 4 Trump.” The website that called for these pro-regime rallies complained about the “seditious fringe” that opposes the Trump/Pence regime.
From news reports so far, the pro-regime forces brought out from dozens to a few hundred people in each of 20+ cities and towns. To give a flavor of some of this, an organizer in Oregon was quoted in the news saying: “It was fabulous...we got to say the Pledge of Allegiance, we got to sing, we said the Lord's Prayer. This couldn't have been any better.” In Olympia, Washington some Trumpites showed up with guns. In Berkeley some Trumpites showed up with body padding, shields and sticks.
This display of ignorance and support for the assaults this regime has been carrying out—and promises more of—against immigrants, Muslims, LGBTQIA people, women, and the world, was met with righteous opposition and outrage in over 15 cities. In Berkeley, CA, a crowd of about 300 confronted about 200 Trumpites, with news reports of confrontations and arrests. In Lake Oswego, Oregon, news reports say about 700 people protested about 200 Trumpites. And at the rally at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, people chanted “No Trump, No KKK, No Fascist USA” over the Trumpites’ “U-S-A” chants.
It matters a great deal that people opposed these fascist rallies. Fascism must not be allowed to become “normal”! And the urgent task: In the name of humanity, we must drive this regime from power.
In the wake of these counter-protests, a wave of reactionary social media claims the anti-fascist movement violated their free speech by counter protesting, and glorifies the Trumpite who has been charged for beating anti-trump protesters with a stick in Berkeley. No one should allow confusion on this. It is absolutely legitimate to refuse to accept a fascist America. In fact humanity depends on what we do. After the righteous shutdown of the fascist Milo Yiannopoulos at UC Berkeley, there was the same kind of whining. What revcom.us posted then is worth reading again: “Three Points on the Righteous Shutdown of Fascist Milo Yiannopoulos at UC Berkeley.”
Revolution #481 March 5, 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 #481 March 5, 2017
January 21 Women's March:
Updatd March 6, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Right from Trump’s January 20 inaugural speech, the Trump/Pence regime made chillingly clear its determination to radically and quickly reorder the current form of political rule in the U.S. into fascism. The very next day, millions of people in cities across the U.S. and around the world turned out for the Women’s March, expressing serious but exuberant opposition to Trump. The marches drew in many, many people who do not normally demonstrate and are far from politically radical, but who cleared the day and in some cases traveled hundreds and even thousands of miles to make their statement. This in turn represents a broader layer of humanity and, potentially, billions of people. In short, this was something to take real heart from, and to welcome.
People deeply fear that Trump and his whole fascist regime—if they are not stopped—will bring down horror upon horror on women, and everyone! For millions of women and men, January 21 was a day to speak out—to challenge the Trump/Pence regime’s assaults on and threats against women’s rights and human rights in general. The marches showed people’s determination to fight for women’s right to abortion and reproductive rights overall and to defend Planned Parenthood. Many also came out to speak out against Trump’s vicious attacks on immigrants and Muslim people. In the Washington, DC, march, singer/actor Janelle Monáe concentrated the feelings of many when she called out murders by police and led the crowd in a chant of “Sandra Bland! Say her name!”
The sentiments of the crowds—hatred of Trump; fear and anger that women’s rights and the rights of others are being taken away; determination to fight the fascist attacks—were reflected in the signs and chants:
“We don’t like that guy in the White House... we are not kidding”
“Keep your laws off my body”
“I’m here for my future”
“Dump the Trump”
“Hitler is not my president”
“There comes a time when silence is betrayal”
“We’re not going away”
There were more than 670 planned events in the U.S. for the Women’s March and in 70 other cities around the world. Estimates are that close to four million people—of all ages and nationalities, women and men—demonstrated in hundreds of cities and towns across this country and more than 250,000 in other countries. People came out in major cities as well as many, many smaller cities and towns. All this underscores the fact that many, many millions of people really oppose Donald Trump and what his regime represents.
Among the Women’s March protests in the U.S.: 500,000 in Washington, DC; 200,000+ in New York City; 250,000 in Chicago; 100,000 in Denver; 125,000 in Boston; 500,000+ in Los Angeles; 100,000+ in the San Francisco Bay Area; 25,000 in San Jose; 50,000 in Philadelphia; 50,000 in Seattle; 75,000 in Portland, Oregon; 22,000 in Houston; 20,000 in Phoenix; 15,000 in Cleveland; 60,000 in Atlanta. Also in St. Louis; Columbia, South Carolina; Park City, Utah (at the Sundance Film Festival); Minneapolis, Minnesota; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Albany and Ithaca, New York; Sacramento, California; Nashville, Tennessee; Raleigh, North Carolina; San Antonio, Texas; Hartford, Connecticut; Juneau, Alaska; and every state in the country.
Demonstrations in solidarity took place on every continent in the world. They included: Auckland, New Zealand; Nairobi, Kenya; Mexico City; Berlin, Frankfurt, and Munich, Germany; London, Liverpool, Manchester, Bristol, Edinburgh (Scotland), and Belfast (Northern Ireland), UK; Paris and Marseille, France; Barcelona, Spain; Brussels, Belgium; Dublin, Ireland; Budapest, Hungary; Accra, Ghana; Cape Town, South Africa; Prague, Czech Republic; Geneva, Switzerland; Kolkata, India; Bangkok, Thailand; Tokyo, Japan; Sydney and Melbourne, Australia; Athens, Greece; Florence and Rome, Italy; Oslo, Norway; on an expedition ship in Paradise Bay, Antarctica.
Sunsara Taylor and RefuseFascism at the Women's March
Los Angeles, CA
New York City
New York City
Park City, UT
Sioux Falls, IA
Mexico City, Mexico
Edinburgh, Scotland, Teachers March
Revolution #481 March 5, 2017
Women's History Month at Revolution Books
Updated March 13, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
437 Malcolm X Blvd @ 132nd Street, #2/3 to 135th
New York, NY 10037
Revolution #481 March 5, 2017
Updated March 13, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On Thursday, March 16, the Trump/Pence regime's Muslim Ban 2.0 is set to go into effect, some seven weeks after Donald Trump's January 27 executive order barring Muslim immigrants and refugees was met by fierce protest and then put on hold by the federal courts. Right after the courts blocked the first ban, Trump’s senior policy adviser Stephen Miller declared that they would not retreat from their goal, saying, “these are mostly minor, technical differences. Fundamentally, you are still going to have the same, basic policy...”
This new ban, like the one before it, is a horrible injustice—and a major step toward consolidating a fascist form of rule in this country. It signals a more openly aggressive military posture, and a major leap in molding a fascist population within the U.S.
Trump’s March 6 order will not only block hundreds of millions of Muslim people from immigrating, fleeing to, or even visiting the U.S., but also opens the door to including many more countries in the ban, as well as pointing a finger of suspicion at Muslims who have lived in the U.S. for decades, including citizens.
Donald Trump promised a ban on Muslims coming into the U.S. He told his close adviser Rudolph Giuliani to come up with such a Muslim ban, and to, according to Giuliani, come up with “the right way to do it legally.” Everything about this new ban is still in that mold. This is still a Muslim ban. David Cole, legal director of the ACLU, said the new ban is “still religious discrimination in the pre-textual guise of national security. And it’s still unconstitutional.” Shortly after the announcement, hundreds of protesters gathered outside the White House, and actions have taken place in cities and on campuses (see "PROTEST! MARCH 16: No Ban! No Wall! Resist Trump's Muslim Ban 2.0").
The people being denied entry into the United States are coming from countries that have been turned into a living (or unlivable) hell. The U.S. government is more responsible than any force in the world for the environmental, military, and economic conditions that are driving people from their homes in these countries. It is an obscene crime against humanity to demonize and ban the victims of what the U.S. has done in this region.
Many commentators, including right-wing ones like the Cato Institute, have pointed out that the refugees or immigrants from these countries have not even been accused of a single “terrorist” act on U.S. soil in the past 15 years. So why is this happening?
First, whatever the intent of the ban, it is clear that this signals a major change in the posture toward the many majority Muslim countries in the world. Trump’s key adviser Steve Bannon made clear in a 2014 speech in the Vatican that he saw the conflict between the “West” (that is, the imperialist countries of Europe and the U.S. in particular) and the Islamic fundamentalist jihadist movements as a continuation of and perhaps a once-in-a-hundreds-of-years concentration of a historic and defining clash of civilizations with the Judeo-CHRISTIAN side being the flower of civilization and Islam being the mortal enemy and threat to that.1
Trump has departed from even the stance of the fascist warmonger George W. Bush, as well as “who-do-I-drop-a-drone-on-and-kill-this-week” Obama, who took care to draw a distinction between the jihadists and most Muslims. (See “Murder by Drone.”) This travel ban effectively says that everyone in Muslim majority countries is guilty until proven innocent. This has extremely serious implications when you have someone like Trump, who has already stepped up U.S. military action in the Middle East, made a nauseating spectacle of the widow of a Navy SEAL war criminal in his address to Congress2 and has made a point of asking, “if we have them [nuclear weapons], why can’t we use them?” (For those who argue that the ban is inconsistent because it doesn’t take in other majority Muslim countries from which people who have committed terrorist acts in the U.S. did come from... well, be careful what you wish/ask for.) So, again, whatever the real intent of the ban, the effect will be to send a message to the people of this country and to the world at large that the U.S. regards every person from a Muslim-majority country as a potential enemy and to actually increase identification with and support for the reactionary jihadist forces in these countries; and this may very well be the intent, precisely in order to aggravate the dynamic.
The second purpose of the ban is to mold a fascist people—to feed raw meat to the hard-core Trump partisans who already hate Muslims (and immigrants in general) and to train the people at large to go along with these outrages, so long as it doesn’t directly affect them. People like Hitler needed and wielded both—his core of fanatical followers and the “good Germans” who turned their heads and pretended that they didn’t see, or who saw but did nothing.
Remember the words of Martin Niemöller, a German pastor imprisoned by Hitler from 1937 to 1945:
First they came for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up.
Now, in America, they are coming for the immigrants, and the Muslims. Niemöller’s quote drives home the urgency of acting against this ban and defeating it—both because it is extremely outrageous, unjust, and ominous in its own right AND because it is a step toward consolidating Trump’s utterly illegitimate election victory and inauguration into a full-out fascist regime.
The original order was met with a coming together of different forces. There was inspiring, important outrage from people from all walks of life and perspectives, people who see demonizing Muslims as utterly intolerable to values they consider foundational. And, at the same time, there were real concerns from sections of the ruling class who see this policy in particular, and even more the whole agenda it serves, as being very dangerous to the economic, political, cultural, and military stability and interests of the U.S. empire. In the context of all that, and the obvious unconstitutionality of targeting a religion, courts halted the ban.
The new ban is a move, in part and on some level, to clean up some of the more obviously, overtly unconstitutional parts of the original. Notably, the first order barred permanent legal residents (“green card” holders) from re-entering the U.S. if they went back to their home countries to visit; the new order exempts these people from the ban. The first order created scenes at airports where people with legal approval to come to or return to the U.S. were detained for hours and hours, subjected to cruel and degrading conditions, while their families and friends were kept in the dark. It applied to seven countries, the new one applies only to six (Iraq is now off the list). And the first order had an all-but-explicit exception prioritizing Christian immigration from the banned countries. The new order does not say that, although there is vague language allowing U.S. officials to use their “discretion” to override the ban even from these six countries—language that is obviously a wide-open door for admitting Christians but not Muslims.
The new order in some ways “outsources” the ban. People who have visas are being told—for now—that they can come to or return to the U.S. But people who have applied for visas—to visit family and friends, or to come to the U.S. for a whole range of reasons—are locked out. It still promotes and enforces racist xenophobia. It still bars immigrants from six predominantly Muslim nations for 90 days with the underlying assumption that all of them are suspected terrorists unless and until they can “prove” that they are not. This despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of these immigrants and refugees are not connected to any terrorist group, and in many cases are actually fleeing from ISIS, the Taliban, or other Islamic fundamentalist forces.
The new ban applies to people from six Muslim majority countries for now, but it adds that “The Secretary of State, the Attorney General or the Secretary of Homeland Security may also submit to the President the names of additional countries for which any of them recommends other lawful restrictions or limitations deemed necessary for the security or welfare of the United States.” This poses the real danger that this initial order is only the first step in a wider ban on Muslim people.
The order also lays the basis for attacking Muslims already in the U.S., including permanent residents and citizens. For instance, the order alleges that “hundreds of persons born abroad have been convicted of terrorism-related crimes” in this country, and it specifically brings up the case of “a native of Somalia who had been brought to the United States as a child refugee and later became a naturalized citizen” (emphasis added)—and then allegedly became involved in a terrorist plot. The point of including this in the order is to say that all Muslims are suspects, no matter how long they have been here. Even refugee children should be viewed as “potential terrorists.”
And to drive this home, the order calls for issuing regular reports to the U.S. public about any “foreign nationals ... who have been charged with terrorism-related offenses while in the United States” or “who have been radicalized after entry into the United States,” or who are involved in “gender-based violence against women, including so-called ‘honor killings.’” This program has the obvious intention of demonizing all Muslims, and of whipping up racist hatred and attacks against them—which are already on the rise. (And we just have to say, it is truly mind-blowing hypocrisy for Donald Trump, that open sewer of rape culture, the “pussy-grabbing” president of a country where one in three women is a victim of sexual assault already, to pose as defending women against gender-based crime!)
The Hawai’i attorney general has gone to court to block implementation of this new ban. More than a dozen other states have gone to court to block the new ban, or have taken the position that their cases against the original ban apply to the new one. Immigrants’ rights and civil liberties groups have made compelling arguments against the ban in court.
The ban is unconstitutional. Omar Jadwat, senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said, “The only way to actually fix the Muslim ban is not to have a Muslim ban. Instead, President Trump has recommitted himself to religious discrimination, and he can expect continued disapproval from both the courts and the people.”
But this time around, the Trump/Pence regime has tweaked the wording in ways that may make it more difficult to fight the ban in court and to try to mollify objections from some forces in the ruling class like the tech industry (which strongly objected to people with existing visas being denied re-entry or entry into the U.S.). And if courts do block implementation of all or part of this ban, who can guarantee that Trump will respect that? After the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals stayed the implementation of Trump’s original ban, White House policy adviser Stephen Miller made a series of high-profile appearances on Sunday network news shows. In response to the Ninth Circuit ruling, he told Fox News, “The president’s powers here are beyond question.” And, “We do not have judicial supremacy in this country.” Immediately after this, Trump tweeted, “Congratulations Stephen Miller―on representing me this morning on the various Sunday morning shows. Great job!” If there were to be some kind of “national security incident,” real or not, this regime might well use that as a pretext to simply ignore and dismiss any court orders in the name of “protecting the American people.”
All of which points with great urgency to the need to resist Muslim Ban 2.0, and to drive out the Trump/Pence fascist regime in the name of humanity.
1. In this talk, Bannon quite clearly lays out a “holy war” perspective of “Judeo-Christian capitalism” versus Islam. He traces this back to religious wars of the past and in the process accuses “secularism” of sapping the “strength” of the West. The entire talk is found here.
To get a sense of this, read the following question/answer from this talk:
Questioner: One of my questions has to do with how the West should be responding to radical Islam. How, specifically, should we as the West respond to Jihadism without losing our own soul? Because we can win the war and lose ourselves at the same time. How should the West respond to radical Islam and not lose itself in the process?
Bannon: From a perspective—this may be a little more militant than others. I think definitely you’re going to need an aspect that is [unintelligible]. I believe you should take a very, very, very aggressive stance against radical Islam. And I realize there are other aspects that are not as militant and not as aggressive and that’s fine.
If you look back at the long history of the Judeo-Christian West struggle against Islam [editor’s note: Islam full stop, not “radical Islam”], I believe that our forefathers kept their stance, and I think they did the right thing. I think they kept it out of the world, whether it was at Vienna, or Tours, or other places... It bequeathed to us the great institution that is the church of the West.
And I would ask everybody in the audience today, because you really are the movers and drivers and shakers and thought leaders in the Catholic Church today, is to think, when people 500 years from now are going to think about today, think about the actions you’ve taken—and I believe everyone associated with the church and associated with the Judeo-Christian West that believes in the underpinnings of that and believes in the precepts of that and want to see that bequeathed to other generations down the road as it was bequeathed to us, particularly as you’re in a city like Rome, and in a place like the Vatican, see what’s been bequeathed to us—ask yourself, 500 years from today, what are they going to say about me? What are they going to say about what I did at the beginning stages of this crisis?
Because it is a crisis, and it’s not going away. You don’t have to take my word for it. All you have to do is read the news every day, see what’s coming up, see what they’re putting on Twitter, what they’re putting on Facebook, see what’s on CNN, what’s on BBC. See what’s happening, and you will see we’re in a war of immense proportions. It’s very easy to play to our baser instincts, and we can’t do that. But our forefathers didn’t do it either. And they were able to stave this off, and they were able to defeat it, and they were able to bequeath to us a church and a civilization that really is the flower of mankind, so I think it’s incumbent on all of us to do what I call a gut check, to really think about what our role is in this battle that’s before us. [back]
2. This “hero” had been part of a raid that murdered 10 children under 13, as well as a number of other non-combatants. [back]
Revolution #481 March 5, 2017
Revolution #481 March 5, 2017
March 7, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
We received the following press release:
WHEN: March 8, 2017, 1 pm
WHAT: RALLY/PRESS CONFERENCE
WHERE: Police Headquarters 35th and Michigan
Press Contact: 312 804-9121, Revclub.email@example.com
Initiated by Carl Dix, spokesperson for the Revolutionary Communist Party. Dix interrupted Jeff Sessions Testimony, was dragged out chanting “No Trump, No KKK, No Fascist USA”
Gloria Pinex, mother of Darius Pinex killed by Chicago police in 2011
Tio Hardiman, Violence Interrupters Inc.
Eric Russell, Ex. Dir. of Tree of Life and spokesperson for Bettie Jones and Jose Nieves killed by CPD
Mark Clements, Police Torture Survivor
Chantell Brooks, mother of Michael Westley, killed by Chicago Police Dept.
LaToya Howell, mother of Justus Howell, murdered by Zion Police
Reverend Collier Baggett, grandmother of police shooting victim Jimmell Cannon.
We are sounding the alarm on an emergency situation. The Trump/Pence regime is seizing on the horror of young Black people killing each other, as well as people caught in the cross fire, to make Chicago ground zero in their overall assault on Black people. Trump’s attorney general Sessions has already said that he will not enforce the scathing, year in the making DOJ report about racist police brutal practices issued January 2017!
Draconian plans are being floated, like the one from Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass which calls for federalizing the National Guard, blocking off whole communities like greater Englewood with concrete barriers and guardsmen to imprison the area and then flooding it with cops.
Say NO to Trump’s threats to Chicago—NO to a reign of terror in our communities on top of the hell already enforced in them; NO to attempts to entice people into becoming enforcers of this program, NO to attempts to buy people off with promises of a few jobs and maybe some blood money; and NO to further gutting of the public schools!
We will fight for a future for our youth!
Revolution #481 March 5, 2017
March 8, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Over the last seven weeks, an alarming wave of threats against and attacks on Jewish institutions has been growing in the U.S. In 45 days there were 90 bomb threats, mostly against Jewish community centers, but more recently also at Jewish schools, forcing evacuations while buildings are searched, and spreading a primal fear among Jewish people for themselves and their children.
Often the threat is delivered by a computer-distorted voice on the phone—sounding like Donald Duck but evoking the horror of the Nazi Holocaust during World War 2, when millions of Jewish people were demonized, imprisoned, tortured, and then murdered. Sometimes the voice says something like this: “In a short time, a large number of Jews are going to be slaughtered.”
In addition, there have been numerous incidents in which Nazi swastikas and other racist and anti-Semitic graffiti is scrawled on Jewish institutions or in mainly Jewish communities. And recently there were large-scale desecrations of Jewish cemeteries in St. Louis, Philadelphia and Rochester in which hundreds of gravestones were knocked over.
So far, this wave of attacks has not resulted in injuries or deaths (though it should be noted that in recent years there have been attacks on Jewish centers in which people were wounded or killed.) But these attacks on Jewish people have the impact of terrorizing Jewish communities, and emboldening fascist forces who have an actual program of destroying or driving out sections of the people they believe are “impure,” “criminal,” etc.
Trump has gone to great lengths to not speak out against these specific attacks or to oppose anti-Semitism. Even on International Holocaust Remembrance Day (January 27, 2017, when this wave of attacks was underway), Trump’s official statement spoke generically about the Holocaust. He referred to the “horror inflicted on innocent people,” but did not mention the Jews who were the main targets and victims of the Holocaust.
At Trump’s press conference on February 16, a reporter for an online Jewish media group tried to ask Trump what he would do to deal with the threats against Jewish centers. Trump lashed out at him, called the question “repulsive,” said that the reporter had “lied,” told him to “sit down.” And Trump declared himself “the least anti-Semitic person that you've ever seen in your entire life.”
Amidst growing outrage at the attacks and Trump’s refusal to condemn them, he did open his speech to a joint session of Congress on February 28, by saying, “Recent threats targeting Jewish community centers and vandalism of Jewish cemeteries, as well as last week's shooting in Kansas City, remind us that while we may be a nation divided on policies, we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all of its very ugly forms.”
With “last week's shooting in Kansas City,” Trump was alluding to the murder of Srinivas Kuchibhotla near Kansas City. Here Trump—who has incited every kind of racist, xenophobic, misogynist hate—only condemned “hate” and “evil.” He did not condemn the xenophobic white racism expressed by the murderer who shouted “Get out of my country” just before murdering Kuchibhotla. Friends and relatives of the two men have repeatedly denounced Trump for creating an atmosphere that led to this shooting.
Nor would Trump explicitly condemn anti-Semitism by name. It is unlikely that this was a slip-up, given the whole history of Trump not mentioning Jewish people in a Holocaust Remembrance Day statement, and the furor after that. Trump’s speech to the joint session of Congress was, by all accounts, carefully scripted and read from a teleprompter, which makes the omission of any mention of anti-Semitism all the more significant.
In coming to grips with why this is happening—and what to do about it—we have to keep coming back to the basic reality that the inauguration of Donald Trump was the coming to power of a fascist regime. As we state in “What 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.’”
Historically, anti-Semitism has been deeply woven into fascist ideology, which sees Jewish people as a cosmopolitan elite, unrooted from any nation, attempting to dominate the world through manipulating international finance. And anti-Semitism meshes tightly with the fascist nationalism of Trump’s “chief strategist,” Steve Bannon. (For background, and refutation of, the lies, myths, and prejudice behind anti-Semitism, and whose interests that has served historically, see “Revolution Responds to Question on Nature of Holocaust”).
For the most part this anti-Semitic madness is not expressed openly by regime figures. But it is being put out there, and people are being trained and rallied to this poisonous outlook. One prominent example: right before the election Trump ran a TV ad attacking what it claimed were “those who control the levers of power in Washington....global special interests... [who] partner with these people that don’t have your good in mind.” The ad attacked them for being “responsible for the economic decisions that have robbed our working class, stripped our country of its wealth....” It featured images of billionaire George Soros, a Jewish hedge fund tycoon; Janet Yellen, the Jewish chairman of the Federal Reserve; and the Jewish CEO of Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Blankfein.
In addition, the Trump regime has strong ties to a whole cesspool filled with openly anti-Semitic forces. Steve Bannon, has bragged about making his Breitbart News Service “the platform for the alt-right.” The alt-right is a racist, white supremacist, misogynist movement with a strong neo-Nazi core. Richard Spencer, a major figure on the alt-right, celebrated Trump’s election at a rally marked by fawning allusions to Nazi Germany and ending with people giving the “Seig Heil” straight-arm salute and shouting “Heil Trump, Heil Victory.” And Bannon takes “credit” for bringing these Nazis into the mainstream of U.S. politics.
These rising anti-Semitic attacks are another clear sign of the ugly and dangerous direction this regime is taking society—rapidly—and of the urgent need to drive them out before they succeed.
Revolution #481 March 5, 2017
Reposted March 8, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On March 3, 2016, the internationally renowned Honduran environmentalist Berta Cáceres was assassinated in her home. On the anniversary of her killing, the The Guardian has reported that “leaked court documents raise concerns that the murder of the Honduran environmentalist Berta Cáceres was an extrajudicial killing planned by military intelligence specialists linked to Honduras’ US-trained special forces.” Three of the eight men charged with her murder were military Special Forces officers; one who was chief of army intelligence at the time of the assassination. He and another one of the officers had been trained in the U.S. (“Berta Cáceres court papers show murder suspects’ links to US-trained elite troops,” Nina Lakhani, 2/28/17)
Shortly after Cáceres’ murder, A World To Win News Service wrote the article which follows—“Who Killed Berta Cáceres?”—which provides important background and analysis about her murder, and the potential role of the U.S. in her killing.
* * * *
From A World to Win News Service
March 14, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
March 7, 2016. A World to Win News Service. On March 3, 2016, gunmen broke into the home of Berta Cáceres and shot her four times as she slept.
A co-founder of the Council of Indigenous People of Honduras, Cáceres was a leader of a campaign against the building of four dams on the Gualcarque River, a hydroelectric project launched by the World Bank meant to attract massive foreign investment in the mining industry, now allotted almost a third of the country’s land. She had received messages of support from international human rights organizations, environmental NGOs and Catholics abroad, although not the Catholic hierarchy in Honduras. She was part of a group that met with the Pope. Last year she received the Goldman Environmental Prize, sometimes called “the green Nobel prize.” Even the U.S. ambassador to Honduras called for an investigation after her death.
But such an investigation, if it were anything but a whitewash, would have to begin with the ambassador looking in the mirror. Students confronting riot police later that day in Tegucigalpa, the Honduran capital, blamed the U.S. government. Everyone knew that the army was going to kill Berta Cáceres—she said so, publicly—and the Honduran army is trained, armed, financed and backed to the hilt of their bayonets by the United States.
Women honor Berta Cáceres on International Women's Day, March 8, in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. (AP Photo/Fernando Antonio)
She was supposedly under government protection, but after she died, in her home in her village, officials claimed they couldn’t have saved her because they didn’t know how to find her. Immediately after her death the police announced that they considered it a case of robbery and not assassination. This alone makes it likely that the authorities, and particularly the army, were behind her murder, as her mother said. The police, too, are U.S. funded. The U.S. calls the shots in Honduras.
The army is known to have been planning to kill Cáceres at least since 2009, when it overthrew a president who had talked about closing the key American military base in Central America. At the time, the Obama government and its State Department were accused of organizing the coup. What is undeniable is that the U.S. never stopped supporting the military and the regime it brought to power. Obama’s Secretary of State, [Hillary] Clinton, personally intervened to keep other Latin American countries from taking diplomatic measures against the new government, whose main ministries were occupied by military men who had graduated from the U.S. Army School of the Americas [Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation]. Catholic activists and others have long called it “the school of coups,” because so many of its alumni have stepped in to remove governments that the U.S. finds inconvenient. It has also been called “the school of torture” and “the school of terror” because of the methods taught by its instructors in Fort Benning, Georgia.
Shortly after that coup, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights named Cáceres as one of the people on an army death list. In a December 24, 2013 television interview, she told Al Jazeera, “The army has an assassination list of 18 wanted human rights fighters with my name at the top. I want to live, there are many things I still want to do in this world but I never once considered giving up fighting for our territory, for a life with dignity, because our fight is legitimate. I take lots of care but in the end, in this country where there is total impunity, I am vulnerable... When they want to kill me, they will do it.”
Her fellow leader of the Council of Indigenous People, Tomás Garcia, was shot dead by a military officer at a demonstration in 2013. Between 2010 and 2014, 101 Honduran social movement activists were killed.
These were political assassinations, but Honduras has become a more murderous place in every way. Greater subjugation to North American and European capital and further integration into the world market, under a government brought into power and kept in power to accomplish that aim, has created a situation in which many Hondurans consider entering the U.S. their only realistic escape.
As small as Honduras may be and as poor as U.S. domination has kept it, it has played a strategic role for the U.S. military in Central America. During the 1980s the U.S. unleashed its “Contra” killers (the “civilian contractors” of that era) against the Sandinista regime that had overthrown a long-time U.S. puppet in Nicaragua in a war financed by CIA-organized drug traffic. That mercenary army and the American military and civilian officials who ran it were based in Honduras. The drug trade and gangsterism that plague Honduras today are rooted in that era.
All major politicians in the U.S., in the presidential campaign and Congress, proclaim that Hondurans, like other immigrants, are a big problem for the United States. But to a large extent, they are literally fleeing from U.S. guns. The problem is the USA.
Revolution #481 March 5, 2017
Updated March 13, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On March 8, International Women’s Day, women—and men—across the United States marched and rallied, took off from work, wore red in solidarity and acted in other ways for “A Day Without a Woman.” The call for the action came from the organizers of the January 21 Women’s March when millions took the streets across the U.S. and around the world. They said that on this day, “women and our allies will act together for equity, justice and the human rights of women and all gender-oppressed people”—and that they drew inspiration from “recent courageous actions like the ‘Bodega strike’ led by Yemeni immigrant store owners in New York City and the Day Without Immigrants across the U.S.” They say the day was meant to show women’s economic and political strength and to speak out on many different social justice issues, like reproductive rights, LGBTQIA rights, immigrant rights and environmental justice. And many of these actions served as a way for women to speak out against the Trump/Pence government.
As was the case with the Women’s March and other recent protests, many people who were part of "A Day Without a Woman" had never protested before or had not been active for many years. The New York Times gave a couple of examples: In Lafayette, Indiana, “a retired nurse and first-time protester” who said she had come out for the day because of “the injustice that women deal with—like jobs, everyday life”; and in Denver, Colorado, a teacher “had driven 90 minutes from Colorado Springs for her first political march, noting proudly that she had a male substitute in her classroom.”
Reports are still coming in about the day—how many people took part in the day in various ways, including not working or shopping, or wearing red clothing to show they were in solidarity with others taking action, and all the places where people took action, in cities as well as suburbs and smaller towns. There were news reports that a number of school districts had to shut down because so many women—and men—teachers and staff were not going in to work for the day. For example, in Maryland, Prince George’s County schools closed after some 1,700 teachers and 30% of its transportation staff requested leave for the day. Public schools also closed in Alexandria, Va., across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., along with Chapel Hill-Carrboro Schools in North Carolina. In Providence, Rhode Island, the municipal court had made plans to close because the demonstrations would have left the city with not enough staff in the courthouse.
The president of the Prince George’s County Educators’ Association (the teachers’ union), Theresa Dudley, who herself wore red for the day, told Revolution/revcom.us that the action by hundreds of teachers in the school district to be part of the one-day strike was “not an orchestrated thing at all—it just took a life of its own.” She said that hundreds of teachers from the district had gone to DC on January 21 for the Women’s March and “perhaps some of the spirit of the March played a big role in people’s decisions to stay home on Wednesday... I think it shows that women are really frustrated in this country—that someone could be elected president that doesn’t respect women at all, unless they allow him to grope and allow him to treat them however he wants to treat them, and having no rights, as far as reproductive freedom is concerned.”
Teachers in other school districts around the country took part in the day in various ways. A retired teacher who helped the Chicago Teacher’s Union organize a protest by active teachers for "A Day Without a Woman" told the Los Angeles Times, “We stand in danger of losing so much of what women have fought so hard to gain. I’m talking about abortion rights. I’m talking about the gains that women have made through union labor.” At Palo Alto High School in the San Francisco Bay Area, about 30 women teachers took the day off and held a “women’s brunch,” while other teachers and many students wore red. A journalism teacher at the school told Palo Alto Weekly that “she took the day off to make a statement in protest of the president’s stance on women and women’s rights, particularly his recent offer to maintain federal funding for Planned Parenthood if they stop providing abortions.”
And in many other different types of workplaces, women and some supportive men took the day off or wore red to work as part of the day. The New York Times reported that “the chief executive of the advertising agency 360i, said that hundreds of the company’s 600 New York employees were participating in some way.” Various TV newscasters wore red, and Slate.com reported on what happened at various news outlets, including at Verge and MTV News where employees who did show up “tweeted photos of nearly empty offices, demonstrating the visual power of not showing up.”
Rallies and marches were held in cities around the country. A crowd of some 2,000 rallied in Los Angeles. In New York, over a thousand marched with chants like “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Donald Trump has got to go!” Fourteen women were arrested in a civil disobedience action outside the Trump International Hotel & Tower. A San Jose Mercury newspaper headline said “‘A Day Without a Woman’ draws thousands to Bay Area rallies while others skip work in solidarity.”
In Santa Cruz, California, protestors—including students from the University of California campus—marched through the streets and blocked traffic. Hundreds marched in Denver, Colorado; Boston; Philadelphia; and other cities—and there were gatherings in smaller cities and towns.
Among the actions in Washington, DC, was a march of hundreds of people to the front gates of the White House, protesting in particular the Trump regime’s attacks on women’s right to abortion—including the global “gag order” that threatens health providers around the world with cut-off of funds if they even discuss abortion. One of the chants was, “Resist Trump, stop the gag.”
In Los Angeles, there were two rallies on March 8, International Women’s Day. About 1,000 filled Grand Park (across from City Hall) for “A Day Without A Woman” rally called by the Women’s March. Women and men of different nationalities, backgrounds and ages were there. An older woman mentioned she had not been to a protest since Roe v Wade made abortion legal, but felt compelled to start coming out ever since Trump won the election. A young Latina woman said she had never been into politics until she started seeing the attacks on immigrants and felt she needed to do something. A young Black man, a journalist, had been thinking about the impeachment of Trump and said we have to keep an eye out for the bad stuff they do to get him impeached. He said as a journalist he was thinking about what role to play in preventing this all from being normalized. From the stage organizers, activists and local politicians spoke about the horrific situation facing women in the U.S. and around the world.
Later in the day, there was another rally of hundreds at the downtown Federal Building, organized by the International Women’s Strike. Many of the organizations focused on the situation facing women around the world, including the conditions of poverty and exploitation in Third World countries.
Refuse Fascism was at both rallies and had an impact with a colorful banner that said “No! Pussy-Grabbing No! Patriarchy No! Fascist USA,” along with several banners with the NO! in different languages. The Refuse Fascism team distributed many NO! posters and the Call to Action, and challenged people to confront the reality that the Trump/Pence regime are fascists and they are going for a total fascist re-ordering of society. Many women and men were challenged to become organizers to drive out this fascist regime from power.
The Revolution Club was also there, taking out the Call to Action and distributing the “Break the Chains” compendium by Bob Avakian, which excerpts his writings on the emancipation of women and the communist revolution. They also had a huge banner that read, “Women Are NOT Bitches, Ho’s, Punching Bags, Incubators, Sex Objects or Breeders! Women Are Full Human Beings! revcom.us”
A member of the Revolution Club who is an organizer with Refuse Fascism went to both rallies with red “bloody” pants to symbolize the women who lost their lives when abortion was illegal. She also wore a homemade T-shirt that read “Forced Motherhood=Female Enslavement” and wrote “NO!” on her face with red paint. She reported that throughout the day women would come up to her and express how powerful the outfit was. That response was mainly coming from older white women. When she tried to speak to younger women about what the outfit symbolized, most of them didn’t understand it.
When the first rally ended, this organizer for Refuse Fascism got on the megaphone and began to call on people to stick around and talk. She explained the meaning of her outfit and what that had to do with Trump, “He’s already told us that he’s going to reverse Roe v. Wade. And the reality is, whether abortion is illegal, women will seek it! And we will end up going back to this! Women dying from inducing their own abortions!” She also took on very sharply the dismissive comments she had seen on social media about the "A Day Without A Woman" strike. “I read some disgusting comments about the strike, people saying we are here today to whine about how we are being underpaid! But there is something much deeper than that! The reality and the horror of walking down the street with a vagina! And fearing for your life, the fear of getting sexually assaulted, harassed, or raped! And now with this PIG in power saying it’s okay to grab a woman by the pussy, saying it’s okay to grab a woman and kiss her without her permission!!! This is training men to disrespect and view women as objects!” And she called on people to get organized to DRIVE OUT the Trump regime from power!
People responded to the agitation. A woman from India signed up right away and was challenged to donate $100, She responded to the need for materials and what impact this can have when we translate the “NO!” into Spanish, Farsi, and Arabic, donating $60. She brainstormed about what were some places she could take these materials to, taking a kit of 50 posters, 50 fliers, and 15 stickers. She was very upset about the new Muslim ban and wanted to do something about it.
There was struggle with people throughout the day about how they were viewing the situation and what people were gonna do about it. The Call to Action was used to speak to why we don’t have four years to “wait and see,” that we have to be working very hard right now to organize people, for people to confront that this is fascism. And to drive the fascists out!
An older guy said he had heard the agitation earlier, congratulated the organizer and said to “keep up the good work.” He said he would look forward to our emails to hear more about the work, but she struggled and challenged him to take materials right then and spread them everywhere, because there is no time to waste. He agreed and took a stack of fliers to get out to people where he lives.
Others were signing up and committing to raising funds for Refuse Fascism, and were taking materials. A seven-year-old took up the task of distributing 60 fliers to the crowd, after an organizer for Refuse Fascism explained to him what this was about. His mother, who was wearing a hijab, encouraged him to pass out the fliers and he later came back with almost none left. A Latina woman who was agonizing over the deportations said she appreciated and agreed with the message of driving out the fascist regime, not preparing for four years of horrors. She had never been political before, but the urgency of the situation made her want to do something and she wanted to get organized right away.
We talked to many people who were agonizing over what is happening in the world, about the deportations, about women’s right to control their bodies, about the Muslim ban. And after a short discussion with people, they would take up the materials and sign up and donate.
On the evening of Wednesday, March 8th around 6 pm the Intersectional People's Network of Eugene/Springfield hosted a rally at the Free Speech Plaza (aka Park Blocks) to celebrate an International Women and Women-aligned Day, featuring predominately marginalized sectors of women such as indigenous, Latina, disabled and transwomen. This event was a rally, taking place in pouring rain, for about an hour. There are other events planned for Sunday, March 12. There were 20-40 people, mostly older but some young people, mostly women. And mostly non-white, in a city that is majority white.
About 600 people rallied at Westlake Park in Seattle on International Women’s Day, while 150 people in south Seattle held a night walk to protest all violence against women and remember My-Linh Nguyen, a 45-year-old Vietnamese woman who was killed by an attacker on the street near her home on December 15, 2016. The downtown rally included special guests Pussy Riot and New York Daily News columnist Shaun King. After the rally, Refuse Fascism united with about 40 others who were demanding to march and led people through the streets of downtown and up to Capitol Hill. It became even more clear that the full fury of women had yet to be unleashed when one young woman let out a primal scream as we stepped off, with chants of “No Pussy Grabbing, No Patriarchy, No Fascist USA,” “Abortion on Demand & Without Apology, Without this Basic Right, Women Can’t be Free,” and “Women Aren’t Things, Women Aren’t Toys, Women Aren’t Objects for the Boys!” There was a speak-out in the middle of a busy intersection, stopping traffic. A number of women, men and non gender-conforming people spoke of being raped and escaping violent and abusive relationships and homes—and of their fear and anger at having a sexual predator in the White House. The rally ended with people signing up with Refuse Fascism and a powerful mic-check of the 4 points that Refuse Fascism is calling on millions to resolve to accomplish until Trump and Pence are driven from power.
In high winds by the lake, over 200 people, Black and white, young and older, women and some men gathered to celebrate International Women’s Day. There were many homemade signs exposing the attacks on women from the defunding of Planned Parenthood to outlawing abortion by the Trump/Pence regime and signs that spoke to the fighting spirit of women. A young speaker from Refuse Fascism spoke about the need to drive out the Trump/Pence fascist regime and ended with a mic check of the pledge: “NO! In the Name of Humanity, We REFUSE to Accept a Fascist America, Drive Out the Trump/Pence Regime!” Most of the people there joined in the pledge with feeling and determination. Then people marched through downtown chanting enthusiastically “NO TRUMP NO KKK NO FASCIST USA” as well as some took up “NO Pussy Grabbing, NO Patriarchy, No Fascist USA.” Refuse Fascism was in the house with lots of signs, fliers, stickers and people signing up. Throughout there was a feeling that the horrors against women promoted by the Trump/Pence regime must be fought against and that the rally and march for IWD was part of that fight.
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