Revolution #493, May 29, 2017 (revcom.us)

Voice of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

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

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/493/trump-brings-america-first-to-middle-east-en.html

Revolution #493 May 29, 2017

Trump Goes Through the Middle East with Blood Spilling Out of His Mouth

May 29, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Donald Trump chose Saudi Arabia—a center of fundamentalist barbarism and medieval absolutism—for the first stop on his first trip outside the U.S. after taking power. For good reason.

Trump brought his fascist “AMERICA FIRST” gangsterism to the Middle East and the world. Nothing would stand in America’s way of dominating and plundering the region and the world, Trump made clear—not ISIS, not Iran, not global rivals, not any opposition to its butcher-allies, and certainly not “human rights” or “democratic rights.”

Think about the overall context that Trump’s trip was taking place in. Since September 11, 2001, the U.S. has rained an enormous amount of death and destruction on the greater Middle East. Its continuing war and occupation of Afghanistan, now in the 16th year, has left thousands dead and more than one million displaced. Its 2003 invasion of Iraq followed by years of occupation and now the ongoing intervention has shattered Iraq, led to more than a million deaths and millions of refugees, and created a cauldron ripe for reactionary Islamic fundamentalism. In 2011, the U.S. helped overthrow Muhammar Qaddafi in Libya, throwing the country into deadly chaos and opening a new battlefront for jihadism. That same year, the U.S. involved itself in and helped encourage the reactionary civil war in Syria, which to date has taken 500,000 lives and created some 10 million refugees. All of this has contributed to the largest refugee crisis at least since World War 2—65 million people fleeing for safety. And these are just some key examples.

But on May 21, speaking in Saudi Arabia to a rancid collection of tyrants and torturers, Trump did not back away from this litany of horrors, Trump doubled down.

In the name of fighting Islamist extremism and terrorism and a “battle between good and evil,” Trump laid out his approach to maintaining America’s imperialist stranglehold on this region: greatly escalating the already terrible repression, torture, starvation, and violence the U.S. and its allies are carrying out. Trump’s threats against Iran, his open support for Saudi Arabia’s war of mass starvation in Yemen, and his increased backing for brutal tyrannies threaten the lives of millions across the region.

Trump’s threats also promise to further escalate the deadly dynamic between U.S. imperialism and Islamic fundamentalism/jihadism. As Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, has analyzed:

What we see in contention here with Jihad on the one hand and McWorld/McCrusade [increasingly globalized western imperialism] on the other hand, are historically outmoded strata among colonized and oppressed humanity up against historically outmoded ruling strata of the imperialist system. These two reactionary poles reinforce each other, even while opposing each other. If you side with either of these “outmodeds,” you end up strengthening both.

While this is a very important formulation and is crucial to understanding much of the dynamics driving things in the world in this period, at the same time we do have to be clear about which of these “historically outmodeds” has done the greater damage and poses the greater threat to humanity: It is the historically outmoded ruling strata of the imperialist system, and in particular the U.S. imperialists.

The Empire Lashes Out

The Middle East sits at the intersection of Asia, Africa, and Europe. Key trade and navigation routes crisscross it. And it’s the world’s main oil spigot. For all these reasons, since World War 2 controlling the Middle East has been a key pillar of U.S. global power and dominance, a key link in the chain of exploitation and oppression U.S. imperialism has imposed on the world.

In 2001, the George W. Bush regime launched its “war on terror” in an attempt to crush opponents—from states like Iraq and Iran to Islamist forces like the Taliban and al-Qaeda—in order to reorder the whole region and solidify U.S. control. But this ongoing war has ended up helping destabilize the region and creating profound new problems for the empire.

Obama attempted to wind down this war in some theaters, continued it in others (with drones killing thousands), and struck a major nuclear deal with Iran’s reactionary Shi’a theocracy. But still, the problems and challenges facing the U.S. continued to mount. Russia has become more assertive in the region and globally, as has China. The 2011 Arab Spring uprisings shook pro-U.S. regimes like Egypt and Tunisia. Syria’s hellish five-year civil war has created humanitarian and refugee crises that have devastated the country and threaten to destabilize Europe. And this terrible carnage could end up strengthening Syria’s Assad and his backers Russia and Iran, who are battling the U.S. for regional influence.

The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq continue to drag on without U.S. victories. In Iraq, Iran may be emerging with more leverage than the U.S. In Afghanistan, the U.S. has been fighting for more than 15 years—the longest war in U.S. history—and the Islamic fundamentalist Taliban is gaining ground. Meanwhile, U.S. wars, military assaults, and regional upheaval have helped propel the exponential growth of Islamic jihadism across the Middle East and beyond.

Trump and his ruling class backers feel Obama was hesitating, even retreating in the face of these difficulties. They’re determined to reverse what they see as a major drift, and forcefully reassert U.S. power and resolve—even as they still seem to be formulating their strategy, and even as this aggressive approach carries potentially great risks for the U.S. rulers.

Trump Embraces Beheadings, Torture, Ethnic Cleansing, Mass Famine

Islamic fundamentalism and jihadism are reactionary, oppressive forces, which have committed terrible crimes against the people, including the recent bombing in Manchester, England, and the May 26 massacre of 29 Coptic Christians in Egypt.

But during this trip, Trump made clear that his problem with these forces isn’t that they’re reactionary and oppressive. After all, he was being lavishly hosted by one of the most oppressive, Dark Ages states in the world—Saudi Arabia—in a region with the highest concentration of outmoded, absolute monarchies on the planet. Trump’s problem with Islamist jihadism is that some of these forces are getting in the way of America’s own reactionary, oppressive stranglehold on the Middle East—which Trump made clear he was there to defend with no holds barred.

Beheadings in Saudi Arabia? Mass starvation in Yemen? Martial law in Bahrain?1 Massive detention, beatings, disappearances, and torture in Egypt (see here and here)? Ethnic cleansing in Israel/Palestine?

Such murderous brutality doesn’t appall Trump—he embraces it as part of his fascist outlook and program. Remember, during his campaign Trump called for murdering relatives of accused jihadists, filling the U.S. dungeon at Guantánamo, and resuming tortures like waterboarding. And he called for and celebrated brutal assaults on protesters at his rallies.

       

In Saudi Arabia and Israel, Trump effusively embraced these butchers and told them they no longer had to even pretend to care about “freedom,” “democracy,” religious tolerance, or “human rights.”2 “We are not here to tell other people how to live, what to do, who to be, or how to worship,” Trump declared. “Instead, we are here to offer partnership—based on shared interests and values...” And he insisted they crack down even harder on “extremists” and other opponents. “DRIVE THEM OUT OF THIS EARTH,” Trump bellowed.

(This open celebration and embrace of barbarity was also aimed at further welding a fascist base within the U.S. willing to tolerate any U.S. allies, no matter how barbarous, and any crimes, no matter how horrific—in the name of “protecting American lives” and making America, the world’s greatest exploiter and oppressor, “great.”)

Encircling and Threatening Iran

In Saudi Arabia and then in Israel, Trump pointedly declared it was impossible to talk of “stamping out” violent Islamist terrorism without targeting the Islamic Republic of Iran. “From Lebanon to Iraq to Yemen, Iran funds, arms and trains terrorists, militias and other extremist groups that spread destruction and chaos across the region,” Trump declared.

Trump began hammering into place new military alliances—calling it “strengthening partnerships, and forming new ones”—to encircle Iran and roll back its influence in Syria, Lebanon, and other countries in the region.3

While Trump’s Iran strategy has not been fully articulated, he and others in the U.S. ruling class have condemned the nuclear deal Obama (and other world powers) struck with Iran in July 2015. They feel the deal could end up weakening the U.S. grip on the region by increasing Iranian influence while undercutting U.S. allies like Israel and Saudi Arabia. During his Middle East trip, Trump’s rhetoric and denunciations of Iran hearkened back to the Bush regime’s calls in 2003-2008 for “regime change” in Iran—overthrowing the Islamic Republic. During that period, there was a grave and growing danger that the U.S. and/or Israel would militarily attack Iran, which could have escalated into a major war with enormous death and destruction and unpredictable repercussions in Iran and beyond.

American Lives Are Not More Important Than Other People’s Lives!

During his trip, Trump called for more violence and brutality to solidify America’s imperialist stranglehold on the Middle East. He is threatening millions across the region, fanning the deadly dynamic between imperialism and Islamist jihadism, and risking launching—or stumbling into—catastrophic wars, which could turn nuclear.

All this is totally opposed to the interests of humanity, including the vast majority of people living within the U.S. This poses enormous dangers, if the fascist Trump/Pence regime is not driven from power as soon as possible.

It’s urgent that many, many more people actively resist and defeat America’s military assaults and wars in the Middle East and elsewhere—and renounce the poisonous, immoral chauvinism of America First used to justify them.

Radically different terms are called for: putting humanity first, not America’s criminal empire.


1. Trump embraced Bahrain’s King Al-Khalifa, a Sunni Muslim who has viciously suppressed protest—particularly of Bahrain’s Shi’a Muslim majority. The U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet is based in Bahrain. Trump told Al-Khalifa that it was “a great honor to be with you,” and assured him “there won’t be strain with this administration.” According to the New York Times, the Trump/Pence regime is lifting “all human rights conditions on a major sale of F-16 fighter jets and other arms to Bahrain.” Days after their meeting, Bahrain’s “security forces raided a sit-in near the home of a prominent Shia cleric, killing at least one protester and arresting over 200 more in the village of Diraz,” Democracy Now! reported. [back]

2, The U.S. imperialists have historically—and hypocritically—used the issues of “human rights” and “democracy”—some basic rights and protections for ordinary people living under the dictatorship of oppressive ruling classes—to discredit and attack rival powers like the former Soviet Union, and regimes standing in their way. For instance, the U.S. condemned the Afghan Taliban’s treatment of women and Iraq’s Saddam Hussein for his tyranny before invading and overthrowing them. The U.S. now condemns the Islamic Republic of Iran for various human rights violations.

During his tenure, former President Obama publicly raised and exerted some pressure around human rights issues with various U.S. client regimes, such as Egypt’s brutal military rulers. He didn’t do this to emancipate the Egyptian people. This was part of his efforts to legitimize U.S. intervention in the region and support for these bloody regimes—and to stabilize and strengthen the regimes themselves. In Egypt, for example, the U.S. quickly restored aid after the Egyptian military’s bloody coup and mass imprisonment of opponents. In contrast, at this fraught moment for the U.S. empire, Trump and his backers feel any criticism of the U.S.’s staunchest regional allies, or any crack between them, could create even greater problems for them. [back]

3. Trump concluded the largest arms sale in U.S. history with Saudi Arabia—$110 billion in tanks, bombs, helicopters, and other equipment immediately, growing to an estimated $350 billion within a decade. This was a bright green light and direct U.S. support for Saudi Arabia’s war on Yemen’s people and its vicious crackdown against internal dissent. One main target is the country’s Shi’a Muslim minority. (For instance, the Shi’a town of Awamiyah is now under siege.) The arms deal was also aimed at strengthening Saudi Arabia against Iran as part of assembling an anti-Iran military coalition. [back]

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/493/trump-pence-regime-releases-its-starve-or-die-budget-en.html

Revolution #493 May 29, 2017

The Trump-Pence Budget:

Trump to the Poor: Starve and Die!

May 29, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

The Trump/Pence regime’s final version of their budget for 2018 was made public on May 23. Its grotesque title—”A New Foundation for American Greatness”—should really be called the Fascist Starve or Die Budget.

In the name of “balancing” a budget that massively increases funds for the U.S. military, for hunting down immigrants, and for unleashing police in the inner cities, these monsters are calling for over $1 trillion dollars in cuts over the next decade to the most vital needs of tens of millions of people forced to live on the bottom rungs of this society. These cuts are genocidal in their intent, and in their effect. They are going to cause enormous harm to millions of Black, Latino, Native American, and other oppressed people, and to millions of poor, elderly, and disabled whites as well. The architects of this budget are fully aware that it is going to cost people’s lives.

The Trump/Pence budget, with all of its targeted attacks on the poor and oppressed, is designed to demoralize people and reduce them to the status of a despised, “lesser” group, and to get the rest of society to “go along,” if only passively, and thus enable this inhumanity to become the new norm.

The “Taxpayer First” Lie

How are these fascists “selling” a plan so cold-blooded that it openly tells a section of people they’re on their own to starve or die? According to the introduction by Trump, this budget “champion(s) the hardworking taxpayers.” This bullshit appeal to “taxpayers” is really a code word the Trump/Pence regime uses to appeal to its most hard core, racist social base. They’re being mobilized behind the white-supremacist rallying cry: “No more stealing money from us hardworking taxpayers to give handouts to those ‘lazy,’ criminal Black and other oppressed people, and the immigrants who’ve come here just to mooch off government handouts.”

Who Really Feeds Whom?

But where does all of this wealth actually come from? Who creates it? For 250 years there was the horror of the slaves’ unpaid labor in conditions that were an almost indescribable hell... followed by the century of super-exploitation that built up the industry of the U.S., where Black workers were confined to the most dangerous, most low-paid and filthiest jobs, first fired and last hired... down to today, with Black people continuing to be discriminated against and oppressed when it comes to employment and credit.

Or take the immigrants, who are being exploited mercilessly and off whose backs a tremendous amount of surplus value has been created—first in the countries they left, and now here, as part of the international accumulation process of capitalism-imperialism. Undocumented immigrants are denied welfare, food stamps, Medicaid, and most other public benefits. And yet they pay billions of dollars in taxes to Social Security—for retirement benefits they will never receive. In fact, “The Social Security system has grown increasingly reliant on this stream of revenue [from the undocumented workers], particularly as aging Baby Boomers start to retire.”[*]

Why Is There No Right to Eat?

But the more fundamental question is: Why is something as basic to morality and humanity as access to food, or medicine, not guaranteed? Why, in the wealthiest, most powerful country in the world, is there no “right to eat”? Bob Avakian has spoken very powerfully to why, under capitalism, there can be no “right to eat”:

If this became a mass phenomenon—people taking something as basic as food, for which they have a vital need but which many cannot afford under this system—the system would come completely unraveled. And that is why, although the law does not make it illegal to lay people off work and have people unemployed—since that is actually crucial to the dynamics of capitalist accumulation—it does make it illegal to act on the right to eat without paying for what you eat. And, if people do declare that they have a right to eat, regardless of whether they can be employed in a way that makes profit for some capitalist, then they are denounced by at least certain representatives and spokespeople of sections of the ruling class as “lazy” and “undeserving” people. (From Birds Cannot Give Birth to Crocodiles, But Humanity Can Soar Beyond the Horizon, Part 1: REVOLUTION AND THE STATE)

What the Trump/Pence regime is out to accomplish through this budget is criminal and genocidal. This cannot be allowed to become the “new normal.” It has to unleash a clarion call, more urgently than ever, to drive these fascists from power. Don’t Normalize... Don’t Accommodate... Don’t Conciliate... Don’t Collaborate!

 

[*] “The Truth About Undocumented Immigrants and Taxes,” Alexia Fernandez Campbell, The Atlantic, September 12, 2016. [back]



       

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/492/fascist-trolls-step-up-their-ground-game-they-must-be-defied-en.html

Revolution #493 May 29, 2017

Fascist Trolls Step Up their Ground Game—
They Must be DEFIED!

by Sunsara Taylor


May 25, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

“It's time, gentlemen. The left will fall apart if we destroy their organizing capability. Destroy the campus indoctrination opportunities, and we will deliver a severe blow to their brainwashing. McCarthy was right all along. We need to bring in a new era of overwatch and accountability for professors and civil-servants. We must begin the ideological purge, and restore balance and objectivity to academia.”—from the fascists now “doxxing” Refuse Fascism signers.

An organized movement of fascist trolls is systematically “doxxing”—looking up and publishing the home addresses and many other personal details of—thousands of people who courageously added their names to the Call to Action from Refuse Fascism which declares: “NO! In the Name of Humanity—We REFUSE to Accept a Fascist America! Drive Out the Trump/Pence Regime!”

This attack is a cowardly and craven violation of people's privacy and threat against their right to stand up for what they believe to be true and right free of harassment and intimidation. This attack should disgust and motivate every person of decency and conscience. Not only should everyone who signed this statement be defended if they come under attack, thousands more must be rallied to step forward, sign the Call to Action, and join in driving out the fascist Trump/Pence Regime.

A Hideous Glimpse of a Fascist Future

The Refuse Fascism Call to Action begins: “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.” A version of this Call was published as a full-page ad in the New York Times and the Washington Post, and Refuse Fascism has been important in leading people very broadly to recognize the fascist nature of the Trump/Pence Regime, and in rallying many thousands to stand up to and join the fight to drive them from power. This is very important—and clearly the fascists were stung.

Reading the comments in the chatrooms of fascist trolls is like bathing in raw sewage. Grotesque white supremacy, racist epithets and Nazi cartoons of Jews permeate. Misogyny—graphic threats of sexual violence, posting and reposting a photo of a woman being punched hard in the face—oozes through it all. The language of violence, of extermination, of racial purification resounds. They invoke the fascist head of Turkey who summarily imprisoned, tortured, and disappeared tens of thousands: “Erdogan got it right when he sacked 21,000 teachers who were fomenting dissent in the hearts and minds of the Turkish youth.” They uphold the notorious anti-communist Senator Joseph McCarthy, who launched vicious witch-hunts that destroyed thousands of lives. They proudly extol the fascists of Mussolini in Italy. They call for “Anyone in law enforcement with access to NCIC [National Crime Information Center]” among them to illegally abuse this access to “find out what state [the signers] live in and get their address, what kind of car they drive, vehicle registration number, DOB, and in some cases, their SSN.”

It’s a window into the hate-filled, violence-craving fascists who have been whipped up and consciously unleashed by the Trump/Pence Regime—and to the future they are fighting for. These fascists are out for blood, and will not stop until they have destroyed all opposition—or, until they are defeated.

Not a “Fringe Movement”—Foot-Soldiers to a Fascist Regime

This is not some lunatic “fringe” movement and it will not go away if it is ignored. These people have been summoned and unleashed by the Trump/Pence fascist cabal now occupying the White House, dominating the “Justice” Department, being packed onto the courts, controlling Congress and almost all the state houses.

In his campaign, Trump didn't merely “dog-whistle” to these modern-day Brown Shirts1, he stood before the watching world and sneered about those who protested at his rallies, “I'd like to punch him in the face!” Trump openly longed for the days when protesters were “carried out on stretchers.” Trump declared undying loyalty to his crowds as they chanted “Lock Her Up! and thumped chests bearing t-shirts proclaiming towards Hillary—really towards all women—“Trump that Bitch!” Everyone not deluding themselves or others knows that “Make America Great Again” has always meant “Make America WHITE Again.” And every day since being elected, the Trump/Pence Regime has wielded the power of the state to carry this forward: threatening the press, attacking the courts, demonizing and attempting to ban Muslims, ramping up deportations of immigrants, issuing the murderous, anti-abortion global gag order, launching witch-hunts against scientists, threatening nuclear war, introducing a sadistic budget, and more.

Mounting Frustration—Even Rage—From Trump's Social Base

But the Regime has also run into obstacles. Starting the day after the inauguration with the Women's March, millions of people have taken to the streets in repeated waves of protest involving students, scientists, immigrants, environmentalists, and more. There have been statements and concerts and professional athletes snubbing White House invitations. The courts—even as they are being threatened and remade by the Regime's appointments—have pushed back, twice blocking his Muslim Ban. The media—even as it normalizes the Regime—still dares to expose some of its lies and crimes. Powerful figures within the FBI refused to treat Trump as “above the law” and now several investigations are underway against the Regime's doings.

None of this has stopped the Regime, but these obstacles have fueled a palpable frustration—even rage—that is bubbling up from Trump and from his fascist social base. Things aren't advancing as quickly or as smoothly as they want. Many feel very deeply that Trump is their “last chance” and they don't intend to let this chance slip away. This is the context for what can only be described as a dramatic escalation of storm-trooper tactics to terrorize and knock down any obstacle in their path.

A Dramatic Escalation in Shock-Troop Tactics

In recent weeks, the level of fascist threats and violence has been ratcheted up. A KKK-style torch-light rally was held in Virginia against the removal of a Confederate statue. A Mississippi state representative publicly stated that people who remove Confederate statues “should be LYNCHED.” The neighborhoods of a Jewish leader and a Muslim leader were blanketed with threatening flyers. Hundreds of fascist militia-types converged on downtown Berkeley, outraged that Ann Coulter's speaking event at UC Berkeley had been canceled.

All this—and much more that could be listed —is exactly the kind of thing Refuse Fascism warned against in its statement, saying (in part): “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.

Defy Fascist Intimidation—Drive the Fascists from Power

The current wave of fascist attacks is aimed at silencing anyone who would stand up against the Trump/Pence fascist regime. It is part of consolidating fascism—and going forward to destroy the lives of millions of Muslims, women, immigrants, refugees, LGBT people, Black people and others who are not white, people around the world threatened by U.S. war and nuclear weapons, and threatens the planet itself.

This must not be allowed!

Defying and defeating the growing wave of fascist attacks on the people is not a distraction from the fight against fascism, it is integral to it. No movement against injustice has ever advanced without having to defy intimidation and attempts to crush it —and, through doing so, growing stronger. This is the lesson of the Freedom Riders who, when the first waves were beaten and arrested, sent wave after wave of other young people after them until the jails of Mississippi were full, the whole world was watching, and they began to break the back of Jim Crow. A more recent example is when more than 10,000 professors and others responded to a McCarthyite Professor's Watchlist launched after Trump's election by publicly adding their own names to the list.

Every person of conscience must have the back of anyone who comes under attack. People need to condemn and defy this intimidation and join the movement to stand up to and drive out this fascist regime and all the ugliness it is unleashing by adding their names to the Refuse Fascism Call to Action. Read and spread the statement from Refuse Fascism, responding to this outrageous doxxing attack. Join Refuse Fascism in manifesting the power of NO! on signs, stickers in windows, on bumper stickers, on t-shirts and spreading the unifying demand: NO! In the Name of Humanity—We REFUSE to Accept a Fascist America! Drive Out the Trump/Pence Regime. Join Refuse Fascism in meeting each new outrage committed by the Regime with greater and greater resistance. Most of all, join Refuse Fascism in ORGANIZING: working with 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. Volunteer here.

This is what humanity and future generations need from us. Everyone—coming from a great diversity of political perspectives—should join in. As it says in the closing words of the Call to Action: “Let it not be said that we did not move heaven and earth to drive out this regime. This must be a moment in history when millions stand together with conviction and courage, overcoming fear and uncertainty, to resist and say NO! Not just for ourselves, but in the name of humanity.”

__________

1. Brown Shirts were a brutal paramilitary wing of the Nazis which played a significant role in Hitler's rise to power. [back]

 

 

 

 

       

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/492/students-were-right-middlebury-college-is-wrong-en.html

Revolution #493 May 29, 2017

The Students Were RIGHT, Middlebury College is WRONG!
Charles Murray and His Ilk Should Absolutely Be Shut Down and Driven from Campuses

by Sunsara Taylor

May 25, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

On Tuesday, May 23, Middlebury College announced that it is sanctioning 67 students who participated in shutting down and driving the proven racist Charles Murray off their campus earlier this year. This punishment is wrong and must be condemned. Not only is this punishment wrong towards the students, it sets a very dangerous and chilling precedent against future student protests at a time when vigorous protest and resistance is more needed than ever. The students did the right thing. This punishment should not stand.

The Students' Right to Free Speech Is Being Violated, NOT that of Charles Murray

In the wake of the students' righteous shutdown of Charles Murray, there was a tidal wave of condemnations not just from reactionaries but also from many progressives who should've known better. Almost all claimed that Murray's right to "free speech" had been violated by the students. This flips reality on its head.

The First Amendment protects the people from government suppression of their right to speak and to assemble in protest. The students were not trying to pass any laws preventing Murray from speaking or to put him in prison. They do not have state power. In contrast, Murray is backed by powerful institutions. The American Enterprise Institute, where Murray works and whose student arm sponsored his event, has an annual budget of $46 million; its alumni include Antonin Scalia, Dick Cheney, and Newt Gingrich. Murray is hardly wanting for public platforms or the ability to get his views heard.

The students, however, have no such powerful institutional backing. They also—by challenging white supremacy and the psuedo-science that tries to justify it—are going up against widely-promoted racist ideas that have saturated this country since its founding in slavery. They used their voices, their bodies, and their sense of moral responsibility to condemn white supremacy and bigotry, giving voice to views that have frequently been maligned and suppressed. It is they who were exercising their right to speak and who are now being wrongly punished for exercising this right.

A Rising Tide of White Supremacy

Charles Murray peddles dangerous, thoroughly-debunked, intellectually dressed-up white supremacy. His most famous book, The Bell Curve, claims that Black people are inherently less intelligent than whites. Despite being chock-full of inaccuracies and anti-scientific methods, this book was widely promoted, legitimized, and used in the 1990s as a key justification for government slashing of policies and services, destroying millions of lives.

Murray's re-emergence today cannot be separated from the rising tide of white supremacy sweeping the country under Trump. A KKK-style torchlight march, chanting Nazi slogans, was held in Virginia against the removal of a Confederate statue. In Mississippi, a state representative wrote on his Facebook page that people who remove Confederate statues "should be LYNCHED." Jeff Sessions, head of the "Justice" Department, has reinstituted mandatory minimum sentencing against non-violent "criminals." These mandatory minimums are part of what caused the genocidal spike in mass incarceration of Black and Brown people, accurately named the New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander.

Standing up against and shutting down proponents of racism like Murray is not about suppressing speech, it is about standing up to white supremacy and the raw assertion of the state and the mob to enforce that white supremacy. It is righteous and it is needed more and more each day.

Ideas That Have Been Proven Wrong and Harmful Should NOT Be Endlessly Engaged

It is a very important principle that ideas—especially ideas that are new, poorly known, or which challenge established orthodoxies and/or ruling institutions—should be heard and put forward by their most ardent advocates. It is also important that ideas be taken on in the realm of ideas and answered with substance. However, this principle is not—nor can it be—absolute. Not every idea can be endlessly debated (there is not endless time or resources to do this), and attempting to do so actually stands in the way of advancing knowledge overall.

       

Does anyone really think, for example, that the idea of a flat earth should continue to be debated in science? What about Holocaust denial? Climate change denial? Obviously not! When ideas have been thoroughly and repeatedly debunked, it is time to close the debate and move on. Further, when debunked ideas cause tremendous social harm but continue to be promoted by powerful institutions whose interests those debunked ideas serve, it is right for people who lack that kind of power to put themselves on the line and shut them down. This applies to the thoroughly and repeatedly debunked, racist ideas of Charles Murray.

The Fight for the Campuses—Key in the Fight for the Future

The punishment of students at Middlebury is part of a growing clampdown on students, academics, and intellectual discourse that challenges the fascist direction this country is dragged in, now by the Trump/Pence Regime in power.

Powerful institutions are funneling millions of dollars into backing fascists like Ann Coulter, Milo Yiannopoulos, David Horowitz, and others to spew their poison, normalize their bigotry, and whip up foot-soldiers on campuses nationwide. McCarthyite Professor Watchlists have been drawn up against professors who challenge white supremacy, patriarchy, and the ruling-class narrative of "American Greatness." And, students who stand up against this are being increasingly demonized and punished. Right now, several states are considering legislation that would legally mandate the punishment—including, in some cases, expulsion—of students who dare to disrupt a campus speaker. Just a week ago, Vice President Mike Pence made condemning disruptive student protests a central theme while giving the commencement address at Notre Dame.

The fascists are targeting the campuses precisely because they rely on the assertion of reactionary myths—LIES—which they do not want challenged. They fear critical thinking. And they fear the role that students have often played in challenging injustice and oppression—from the Freedom Rides to the fight against the Vietnam War to the waves of protests following Trump's election to the righteous shut-downs of Charles Murray, Milo Yiannopoulos, and others in recent months. These fascists see the pacification of the campuses as a key step in consolidating fascism in America.

All this underscores even more profoundly the righteousness of what the students at Middlebury did and the illegitimacy and dangerous precedent of them being punished. The Middlebury protesters should be upheld, defended, and their righteous spirit should be spread. As white supremacy rides high and the fascist Trump/Pence Regime moves fast to remake the laws, attack the press, and knock down any who would stand up against them, many, many more people from all walks of life need to join in raising their voices and putting their bodies, their careers, and their reputations on the line to drive fascists off their campuses, out of their towns, and out of the White House.



 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/492/ba-bible-belt-is-the-lynching-belt-en.html

Revolution #493 May 29, 2017

Excerpt from AWAY WITH ALL GODS! Unchaining the Mind and Radically Changing the World by Bob Avakian

The Bible Belt Is the Lynching Belt:
Slavery, White Supremacy and Religion in America

by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

May 27, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Editors' Note: The following is an excerpt from the book AWAY WITH ALL GODS! Unchaining the Mind and Radically Changing the World, by Bob Avakian (available from Insight Press). The book was published in 2008.

 

 

For a number of years now, I have been thinking about—and pondering the implications of—the fact that what’s called the “Bible Belt” in the U.S. is also the Lynching Belt. Those parts of the country where fundamentalist religion has been historically and most powerfully rooted, and is so even today, are also the places where historically the most brutal oppression has been carried out and has been justified, over and over again, in the name of Christianity. In America, with its whole history of oppression of Black people—beginning with slavery and continuing in various forms down to the present—upholding tradition and traditional morality, and insisting on unthinking obedience to authority, is bound to go hand in hand with white supremacy, as well as male supremacy.

The questions arise in this connection: Is this just an accidental association—between the Bible Belt and the Lynching Belt—or is this something more deeply rooted and causally connected? And, if the latter, what are the historical and material roots of this connection between the Bible Belt and the Lynching Belt, between Christian fundamentalism and white supremacy in the history of the U.S.?

One of the key events and turning points in relation to all this took place in the aftermath of the Civil War, with the reversal and betrayal of Reconstruction in the southern U.S. To briefly review this crucial period: For a decade after the Civil War, from 1867 to 1877, the federal troops that had conquered the South, remained in the South to enforce changes that were being brought about through amendments to the Constitution and government policy in general. And there was, for a very short-lived period of time, not equality but real advances for the masses of former slaves, and even for some poor people among the whites. This included what was then a decisive dimension: the acquiring of land. Not all the land that was promised to the former slaves who fought on the Union side in the Civil War (the famous 40 acres and a mule that you see referred to in Spike Lee movies), but some land was acquired by the former slaves, as well as some poor white farmers. And, although still under the domination of the bourgeoisie and within the structure of bourgeois relations, there were a number of important rights that were extended to the former slaves that obviously had not existed under slavery—including the right to vote. As a result of this, there were also a number of Black elected officials during this very brief period in the southern states.23

But then, the bourgeoisie centered in the North, having consolidated its control of the country, including the South, economically as well as politically, needed to expand further to the west, and it sent the army that had fought the Civil War (and had remained in the South for a decade after the Civil War) to the west, to carry out the final phases of the conquest and genocide against the native peoples, the theft of their land, and the driving of those who were left onto reservations, which were in effect concentration camps.24 Pulling these federal army troops out of the South signaled the end of Reconstruction and returned the masses of Black people in particular to a situation of being viciously exploited and terrorized by old and new plantation owners and the Ku Klux Klan, which was started by former Confederate officers and soldiers seeking revenge for the defeat in the Civil War and a restoration of the “southern way of life.”

Along with this came the development, among white southerners, of a certain strain of Christianity, and in particular Christian fundamentalism, that viewed the southern U.S.—and more specifically the whites in the South—as a people who, like the ancient Israelites, had been favored by their God but then had lost favor with and had been chastised by Him. Their chastisement, in the eyes of these white southerners, was not because of slavery, but rather because they had not been strong enough in defense of their way of life—which in fact was based on slavery. And now, in their view, there was going to be a restoration of this people, as there was in past times when God had returned his favor to the ancient people of Israel.

And what went along with this, not just in the South but in the U.S. as a whole, was that increasingly the history of the Civil War was rewritten, and the role of Black people in the Civil War was basically washed out of historical accounts of this war (this is something that David Brion Davis speaks to in his book, Inhuman Bondage: The Rise and Fall of Slavery in the New World). Even the basic reality of what the war was fought over was to a large degree blotted out, obscured, and distorted. Though the Civil War involved a complex of factors and motivations (people on the northern side were not fighting only out of moral conviction, though there were many people motivated to fight on a moral basis against slavery, and many who were inspired, for example, by the rebellion, even though unsuccessful, that was led by John Brown against the slave system shortly before the start of the Civil War), the essence and decisive point of the conflict was—and it became increasingly clear that it was—the question of slavery. On the side of the North, whose victory led to the abolition of slavery, what was essentially involved was the fact that the interests of the rising bourgeoisie (centered in the North) were coming into more profound and acute antagonism with the slave system and the slaveowners in the South. This heightening antagonism between these two modes of production, these two different systems of exploitation—capitalist and slaveowning—was at the root of this conflict; and the reality, which became increasingly clear, was that the bourgeoisie, and its mode of production, could not prevail without finally abolishing slavery. Still, notwithstanding the contradictory nature of the bourgeois side in this conflict (which, among other things, was manifested in the halting and partial way in which Lincoln approached the abolition of slavery), there is no doubt that the central and pivotal issue in the Civil War was slavery.

But, again, especially after the reversal of Reconstruction, there began to be a rewriting of this. “The War Between the States” was how it was increasingly referred to. And then you began to have re-enactments of key engagements in that war which were sanitized versions of what it was all about: people—overwhelmingly white people—would dress up in gray uniforms and blue uniforms (representing the South and the North) and re-enact key battles (this still goes on). This even found expression in the realm of sports. When I was a kid, and for some time after that, there was the annual Blue-Gray football game, an all-star contest pitting college seniors from the South against others from the North. The Civil War became ritualized, and reduced to almost a non-antagonistic conflict within the family, even while there was deeply harbored resentment among the un-reconstructed southern segregationists who looked back longingly to the “glory” of the Confederacy and slavery days. Actually, it was more among the people—that is, the white people—in the North that the sense of antagonism had largely faded.

This rewriting of history—and cultural expressions of this rewriting—were linked with a fundamentalist Christianity which had its roots in the South but was spread—and increasingly these days is being very actively spread—to other parts of the country, not only in rural areas but also within the suburbs and exurbs. And, in what is a terrible and outrageous irony, this same religious fundamentalism is being spread in the inner cities as well, promoted among Black people in particular by patriarchal-minded and reactionary preachers.

In the way that the Civil War has come to be presented as a national tragedy, there is great irony as well: In reality, the Civil War, on a far greater scale than the American War of Independence, had a genuinely liberating content, on the part of the North. Even though this was led by the bourgeoisie and was ultimately contained within the confines of bourgeois relations, the Civil War is the last war on the part of the U.S. capitalist class that can legitimately be considered just, and even glorious. And it’s the only war that they are ashamed of. [Laughter] This is why we repeatedly hear of the terrible tragedy of “brother killing brother.” Well, I don’t believe it was seen that way by the slaves—I don’t think the 200,000 former slaves who, once they were permitted to do so, fought heroically in the Union Army, thought that they were killing their “brothers” when they were fighting the Confederate Army. And I don’t know if a lot of the white troops in the northern army who went to battle singing in praise of John Brown thought they were killing “brothers.” I believe they thought they were carrying on a righteous fight to end a terrible evil.

But, as seen through the eyes of the ruling bourgeoisie today—and in the way it has molded, or sought to mold, public opinion—the Civil War was a terrible national tragedy. And the truth is that it was fought at terrible cost. The 600,000 who died in that war represent the equivalent of something like 6 million people, in relation to today’s U.S. population. But, despite the very real cost, the people who fought it at the time—actually on both sides, but here I’m focusing on the people who were on the liberating side of the war, on the side opposed to slavery—they believed that they were fighting a righteous war, a just war. And that was profoundly true—but it has been rewritten.

In relation not only to the Civil War but to the larger phenomenon of religion and white supremacy in America—and why it is that the Bible Belt is also the Lynching Belt—there is important analysis in Kevin Phillips’ book American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century. In Chapter 4, “Radicalized Religion: As American as Apple Pie,” Phillips makes this observation: “The South...long ago passed New England as the region most caught up in manifest destiny and covenanted relationship with God.” (American Theocracy, p.125)

What Phillips is speaking to is the fact that, going back to the origins of the country, in New England there was a strong current among the settlers of seeing the establishment of their new home in America as expressive of a special relationship with God, and a carrying out of His will. But over the period since then, that has largely receded into the background in New England, while it has become much more powerfully felt and asserted on the part of southerners—that is to say, once again, white southerners (or a large number of them). And those southerners fervently believe that this applies both to the U.S. as a whole but also, more particularly and specially, to the southern U.S. Thus, referring with the term “American exceptionalism” to the notion that America occupies a special destiny and a special place in God’s plan and is marked by a special goodness, Phillips continues: “It [the South] has become the banner region of American exceptionalism, with no small admixture of southern...exceptionalism.” (p. 125) In other words, in the eyes of religious fundamentalists who are rooted in the South and the traditions of the South, since America in general and the South in particular is characterized by this special exceptionalism, when the U.S. ventures into the world and does what might otherwise be regarded as evil, it is on the contrary good, because America has a special goodness inherent in it and what it does is, by definition...good—it is favored in a special way in the eyes of, and has the support of, God.

Phillips reviews how, in the aftermath of the Civil War,  although the South was defeated and the slave system was abolished, after the reversal of Reconstruction the South “rose again” in terms of political power and influence within the country as a whole. In connection with all this, Phillips points out, a religious mythology arose, and took root widely among white people in the South, that the (white) South had a special covenant with God and was the object of a special design by God to restore it to its proper place, righting the terrible wrong that had been done through the Civil War. Phillips makes the very relevant and telling comparison between southern whites in the U.S. and white settlers (Afrikaners) in South Africa, as well as Protestants in Northern Ireland and the Zionists who founded and rule the state of Israel. When I read this, it immediately resonated with me, because I had been repeatedly struck by the fact that, in listening to a Northern Irish Protestant, an Afrikaner, or an Israeli spokesman (or Israeli settler in the West Bank), they all seemed, and in certain ways even sounded, remarkably similar, not only in terms of the kinds of arguments they would make, but in their whole posture and attitude. Phillips points out that all these groups, including fundamentalist southern whites, see themselves as people being restored to their rightful, and righteous, relation with God—re-establishing a broken covenant and exercising a special, divinely-established destiny.25

As Phillips sums up: “The reason for spotlighting history’s relative handful of covenanting cultures is the biblical attitudes their people invariably share: religious intensity, insecure history, and willingness to sign up with an Old Testament god of war for protection.” (American Theocracy, p. 128) This insightful observation on Phillips’ part applies to the South of the U.S.—to southern whites in particular—and applies as well to those more broadly in the U.S. who are drawn to a literalist, fundamentalist Christian Fascism. And Phillips goes on to emphasize that the importance of this in today’s world has “less to do with Ulster [Northern Ireland Protestants] and South Africa and more to do with the United States and particularly the South. Israelis and, to an extent, Scripture-reading Americans are on their ways to being the last peoples of the covenant.” (p. 128) Phillips makes the chilling point that this outlook and the corresponding values are gaining currency and force among growing numbers of people all over the U.S.—and once more, in a bitter irony, this includes some among those who are most directly oppressed by white supremacy.

As this worldview has increasingly spread beyond the traditional Bible Belt in the U.S., and as this gains increasing weight within the ruling class of the U.S., it poses the prospect of a move to impose, through force and violence, in the U.S. and on a world scale, all that is called to mind by the slave whip and the lynch rope. And today (employing again a formulation from Phillips) this is embodied as, and comes with, the destructive power of “the preemptive righteousness of a biblical nation become a high-technology, gospel-spreading superpower.” (American Theocracy, p. 103)26

One of the things that David Brion Davis speaks to in Inhuman Bondage (and this is something I also pointed out in Democracy: Can’t We Do Better Than That?) is that, along with arguments by Aristotle justifying slavery, one of the main things cited by the apologists and defenders of slavery in the southern U.S. was the Bible. More specifically, the story of how Noah’s son Ham incurred the wrath of God—so that God cast Ham into Africa and put a curse on the descendants of Ham, beginning with his son, Canaan—was repeatedly invoked to give a religious sanctification to the massive enslavement of people of African origin in the American South.27

For all the reasons that I’ve been speaking to (and which the statements I have cited from Kevin Phillips shine a light on), unavoidably bound up with religious fundamentalism in the U.S., given the whole history of this country, is a definite and pronounced component of white supremacy. And this is objectively true, even though not every individual caught up in this religious fundamentalism is conscious of this fact.

And, again, one of the bitter and acute ironies in all this is the spread of this religious fundamentalism—to a large degree with the battering ram of the forceful reassertion of absolutist patriarchal authority—among those who are most directly the victims of white supremacy. To the degree that this takes hold among them, it will have the effect of binding them more firmly into a whole process which will not only greatly intensify their oppression, but which has genocidal implications, particularly in a situation in which already huge numbers of inner city youth—a large percentage of Black youth and many Latino youth as well—are already in prison or ensnared in the “criminal justice system” in one form or another.

Before turning more directly to these genocidal implications, it is worthwhile looking at another dimension in which, in the history of this country, white supremacy has been mutually reinforcing with the promotion of religion. In the book When Affirmative Action Was White: An Untold History of Racial Inequality in Twentieth-Century America, in the course of analyzing the way in which the New Deal and the policies effected through the GI Bill, the Federal Housing Authority, the Veterans Administration, and so on, served to actually reinforce and promote white supremacy and a widening of the gap between whites and Blacks in the U.S.,28 Ira Katznelson discusses specifically how this affected colleges and universities. He examines how government funds went in greater proportion to universities from which Black people were, in the early years after World War 2, still almost entirely excluded, and the disparity in government support, financially and otherwise, for Black universities compared to universities that largely, or entirely, excluded Black people. One thing he touches on, as part of this overall analysis, is the historically restricted curriculum of these traditionally Black colleges. With their limited resources and funding—but also partly under the influence of the whole tradition associated with Booker T. Washington—their curriculum was largely limited to, and emphasized, three things: trades, teaching, and theology. (See Ira Katznelson, When Affirmative Action Was White, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., Publishers, 2005—Chapter 5, “White Veterans Only,” especially part III, pp. 129–34.)

In other words, there was a much greater emphasis on religion in the traditionally Black colleges than there was in other universities, from which Blacks were largely excluded for many years continuing after World War 2. Katznelson’s focus here is particularly on the period right after World War 2, but the differences he discusses cast a larger and longer shadow and have broader application and implications and effects, extending down to today. The promotion of theology in the traditionally Black colleges reinforced the role that historically had been played by the Black church, which was a highly and acutely contradictory role.

From the time of slavery, Christianity has been promoted among Black people in the U.S. by the powers-that-be. The various peoples in Africa from which the slaves were taken practiced a number of different religions, and along with forcing them to adopt a new culture and customs—down to the level of requiring them to take on new names (as dramatized, for example, in the televised special series Roots)—the slaveowners generally imposed Christianity in place of the slaves’ traditional religions.29

At the same time, as is not surprising among an oppressed people, beginning in slave times Black people have sought to take parts of this new religion, introduced to them under the yoke of the slavemaster, and use it as a means of fighting back against oppression. So, for example, the Old Testament story of the Israelites enslaved in Egypt and of Moses leading the people out of bondage—the theme of “let my people go,” expressed in gospel songs and in other ways—became a powerful part of the Black religious tradition and culture. But the role of the Black church has always involved a certain kind of dual role, and the role of Black clergy has always been a contradictory one, at times acutely so. It has involved negotiating with the slavemasters (and the white supremacist authorities who have exercised power after slavery was ended) to try to bring about some improvement in the conditions of the people—but always doing so on a basis that would keep things from getting out of hand in a way that would fundamentally threaten the interests of the oppressors; always waging the struggle, or seeking to confine struggle that breaks out, within a form that wouldn’t fundamentally challenge the oppressive relations. Time and again, especially when tension would mount and the anger of the masses would threaten to boil over, the preachers would go to the oppressors and say, in effect: “If you don’t give me something to go back to the people with, I won’t have any way to keep things from exploding.”

Martin Luther King played this role—and explicitly so. In the midst of the massive urban rebellions of the 1960s, King repeatedly took the stand: If you don’t give me something, I’m not going to be able to contain the anger of the masses any more. And when it came down to it, when the anger of the masses did erupt out of the confines that were acceptable to the powers-that-be, King joined in the chorus calling for the government to send in the army to forcibly put down mass urban rebellion. This is the stand King took in the context of the extremely powerful urban rebellion in Detroit, in the summer of 1967; and it must be said that when the army was sent into Detroit, violence did not then stop but was increasingly characterized by violence on the part of the army (together with the police and other agencies of the state) directed against the masses of Black people, many of whom were murdered in cold blood by the army and police. This is a matter of history.

Even if we allow that King did this because of sincere commitment to pacifism, a strategic opposition to violent struggle on the part of the oppressed and a feeling that Black people would only harm their own interests by engaging in violent uprisings, it must be said that this reasoning is fundamentally wrong and is objectively in line with the interests of the oppressors. In fact, King’s role in relation to these rebellions, and overall, was consistent with his expressed view that equality and justice for Black people must, and could only, be achieved within the confines of the capitalist system, and on the terms of this system, when in reality this system has always embodied, in its very foundation, and continually reinforces, inequality and oppression, in the most murderous forms, for the masses of Black people, and only sweeping aside this system through revolution can put an end to this.30

This is the role that this whole stratum of Black preachers has played historically, even while they have been portrayed as the leaders of the struggle. In truth, their role has been much more contradictory—and often much more acutely contradictory—than that.31

In relation to all this, two things stand out very clearly today: One, it is necessary to be very clear that this ideology—the theology of Christianity, and of religion in general, and the overall worldview that it expresses—cannot lead the way to real and complete liberation, and on its own it will always end up seeking to confine things within the limits set by the existing system. To put it in basic terms, to the degree that they are willing to stand with the oppressed in the fight against oppression and injustice, religious clergy and others with this outlook can and must be united with, but the outlook and the political orientation that they represent cannot lead the struggle, or it will not go where it needs to go in order to bring about emancipation from oppression and exploitation. And secondly, there is at this time a whole stratum or section of Black preachers which is openly going along with and promoting the Christian fascist program, to a large degree on the basis of aggressively asserting patriarchy in particular. And that can only lead to disaster: it cannot be united with and has to be very vigorously exposed, called out for what it is, and relentlessly struggled against.32

 

 


23. The U.S. is a weird country—the oppressive relations in this country have taken some peculiar forms. I remember doing some research into this a number of years ago, and discovering that if you were determined to be 1/16th African, you were counted as Black in some of these calculations in the South. And so, on the basis of this definition, there was one person (I still remember his name: P.B.S. Pinchback) who became Lieutenant Governor in a southern state during the period of Reconstruction; he held the highest political office in the South of any person of African origin (defined in this way), until quite recently. But even with certain peculiarities to this, it is a reflection of changes that were brought about as a result of the Civil War and the very brief period of Reconstruction. [back]

24. These federal troops were also used against strikes carried out by what was then an overwhelmingly white labor movement. [back]

25. Here there is a notable irony, with regard to the Zionist rulers of Israel in particular: while many of them are actually secular, they nonetheless base their claim to the land of Palestine on religious-scriptural grounds. As a joke, which used to circulate in Israel itself, puts it: “Most Israelis don’t believe in God—but they do know He promised them the state of Israel!” [back]

26. Along with the important analysis and insights in Kevin Phillips’ book, American Theocracy, as well as in Inhuman Bondage by David Brion Davis, observations that are very relevant to this question are found in The Baptizing of America, by Rabbi James Rudin, as well as in a talk, in May, 2005, by African-American theologian Dr. Hubert Locke, “Reflections on the Pacific School of Religion’s Response to the Religious Right.” [back]

27. In more recent times, once again we have seen arguments seeking to justify and reinforce white supremacy being treated very respectably in the bourgeois media and other “mainstream” institutions. This was the case with The Bell Curve, for example—a book that was published and was promoted very aggressively in the 1990s. In setting out to justify oppressive relations in general—and, more specifically, white supremacy—this book did not rely so much on religious scripture for justification, but based its arguments on pseudo-scientific rationalization for what it alleged were the innate inferiority and superiority of various groups. It explicitly argued that there is a genetically-based inferiority of people of African origin, particularly with regard to intellectual capacities. This was raised to oppose programs such as affirmative action, but also more generally to justify unequal and oppressive relations and to reinforce the ideology of white chauvinism (racism) that goes along with the way in which white supremacy is built into the whole history and foundation, and the dominant institutions and structures, of U.S. society. However, increasingly in these times in the U.S. we see religious fundamentalism being brought forward as a unifying ideological basis for the most openly reactionary viewpoints and political programs, including white supremacy as well as male supremacy. [back]

28. An analysis of the role and effect of the New Deal and related programs in reinforcing white supremacy and inequality is also found in WorkingToward Whiteness, How America’s Immigrants Became White, The Strange Journey from Ellis Island to the Suburbs, by David R. Roediger, Basic Books, 2005. [back]

29. Despite some definite limitations, some useful background in this regard is found in Religions Of Africa: A Pilgrimage Into Traditional Religions, by Noel Q. King, Harper & Row Publishers, 1970; and The Religions Of The Oppressed: A Study of Modern Messianic Cults, by Vittorio Lanternari [Translated from the Italian by Lisa Sergio], Alfred A. Knopf, 1963. [back]

30. See Cold Truth, Liberating Truth: How This System Has Always Oppressed Black People, and How All Oppression Can Finally Be Ended, available at revcom.us/coldtruth, where the following statement by Martin Luther King is cited, which makes very clear his outlook and orientation and the unity between the objective he put forward of pursuing (the illusion of) achieving equality within this system and his insistence on what the character of the struggle must be:

“The American racial revolution has been a revolution to ‘get in’ rather than to overthrow. We want a share in the American economy, the housing market, the educational system and the social opportunities. This goal itself indicates that a social change in America must be nonviolent.” (Martin Luther King Jr., Where Do We Go From Here, p. 130, cited in Cold Truth, Liberating Truth, Part 7, “Any Other Way Is Confusion and Illusion”) [back]

31. You can see these contradictions portrayed, for example, in a movie that came out in the ’60s, Nothing But a Man. This movie was not widely distributed, but it is a very interesting and overall a very positive movie, even with its limitations, which are reflected to some degree in the title. It is the story of a Black railroad worker in the South who, because his job provides more mobility for him, and he has some experience with unions, doesn’t want to put up with all the overt racist crap that Black people were subjected to in the South at that time. At one point he meets, falls in love with and marries the daughter of a preacher, and he comes into very sharp conflict with the preacher because of his whole attitude of refusing to put up with all this—and his contempt for Black people, including this preacher, who do put up with or compromise with the whole racist set-up. The movie very well portrays the kind of conciliating role of the preacher—negotiating to get a few concessions and at the same time struggling to keep the people in line, so that they don’t anger the Man and upset the whole arrangement. This movie captures a lot of the acutely contradictory role, historically, of this stratum of Black preachers and the theology they have purveyed. Contrary to the mythology that’s promoted by the ruling class, as well as by many of these preachers—that they’ve always been out in front, leading the struggle—the reality is once again much more contradictory: While some Black clergy have played a positive role and made real contributions to the struggle, there has also been a significant aspect in which many of them have sought to contain the struggle within limits that are more acceptable to the ruling class—particularly in circumstances when the struggle has powerfully strained against, and at times broken through, the limits they seek to impose on it in order to maintain this arrangement with the ruling class whereby the preachers can get certain concessions in return for keeping the masses in line and preventing them from getting all out of bounds. [back]

32. As an aside here, dealing with a secondary but not insignificant part of the picture, it is worth thinking about why is there an unusually large representation of white people from the South not only in the U.S. military overall but more specifically in the officer corps. Now, as for the “grunts,” that can be explained to a significant degree by the fact that there actually are a significant number of white people in the South whose options are limited. But there is also the whole macho and militaristic ethos that has historically gone along with the influence of religious fundamentalism and generally conservative culture and values—it is not accidental, or incidental, for example, that “patriot” and “patriarchy” are words with the same root. And, specifically with regard to the large numbers of white southerners in the officer corps of the U.S. armed forces, along with this macho and militaristic ethos, there is the whole history of the southern aristocracy, beginning with the slave system but then continuing after literal slavery was abolished (and replaced with a system of sharecropping and plantation exploitation, in what was essentially a feudal form, for a period of about 100 years after the Civil War). This whole aristocratic tradition in the South was consciously carried over and copied from Europe, and if you look at a country like England, with its aristocracy, there is the tradition where one son inherits the family’s property, another joins the clergy, and yet another son goes into the military. And there are not only ideological but also practical factors that play into that. With a system where wealth is based on land ownership, to the degree that you are not able to more intensively exploit people on the land, then there is a limit to how much wealth you can accumulate; and if you keep dividing up the land, you will end up in a situation where the family wealth will actually begin to be used up. But, if you send one son into the clergy and another into the military, there will not be so many to divide the land among (and less basis for rivalry and antagonism among the sons). To a significant degree, this was historically part of the culture of the southern U.S.—that is, of the rich white land-owning aristocratic strata in the South—and this is quite possibly one of the factors that has contributed to there being so many white southerners not only in the U.S. military overall but specifically in its officer corps. And, in turn, given the historical particularities of the South, as spoken to above, this presence of a large number of white southerners is a factor contributing to a more favorable environment for the spread of religious fundamentalism—Christian Fascism—within the U.S. military, including its top ranks. [back]

 

 

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/493/fascist-bill-in-congress-aims-to-drastically-enhance-police-powers-this-must-be-defeated-en.html

Revolution #493 May 29, 2017

Fascist Bill Green-Lights Police Terror—This Must Be Defeated!

May 29, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

For decades, under both Democrats and Republicans, America’s police have profiled, harassed, beaten, tortured, and murdered millions of people, especially Black, Latino, and Native American people. In recent years, there has been an upsurge in protest against this terror carried out by the officially sanctioned murderers in blue, from Ferguson to many other cities big and small across the country. And there has been other righteous resistance, like the thousands fighting against the Dakota Access oil pipeline and in defense of Native Peoples’ rights and in defiance of repression by heavily armed law enforcement, and the millions who have come into the streets in the Women’s March and other protests against Trump.

In the face of this, the Trump/Pence regime from the beginning has made clear its fascist determination to “restore law and order”—to give a full green light to the pigs in blue and an escalation of police brutality and murder to a whole new level. Trump, Pence, and the rest of the regime have been turning reality upside down by accusing people protesting murder by police of fomenting violence, and they have all but openly threatened to criminalize those who condemn, or even criticize, the police or refuse to cooperate with them. And now, the regime’s Republican forces in the Senate and House have introduced a toxic bill called “Back the Blue Act of 2017” that aims to dramatically increase police powers.

Revcom.us will continue to cover this, but here are some key things about this bill:

The Trump/Pence regime would be empowered to override local prosecutors who the regime deems not aggressive or draconian enough in going after opponents of the police, including victims of and protesters against police brutality, and other protesters against the regime and the whole system. The bill would create new federal crimes for assaulting or killing a state or local cop. This applies to any law enforcement agency receiving federal aid—and since almost all police agencies receive some federal funding, the bill would cover nearly all local cops. What this means, for example, is that federal prosecutors under the Trump/Pence regime could step in and take over local cases to charge a victim of police brutality with a serious federal crime that carries possible years in prison. This would not be difficult to do, since it’s already the case that people who are brutalized by police, including while protesting police violence as well as in other kinds of protests, are often falsely arrested and charged with “assaulting” the pig who beat them.

Victims of police brutality and families of people murdered by police would find it almost impossible to file civil suits against cops. Cops who murder innocent people—even if the victim is unarmed and the murder is on video—almost never get charged with any crime, let alone get convicted. A few police brutality victims and their families have been able to win lawsuits against police and win monetary damages. Under the new bill, even if cops clearly violated laws in the course of brutalizing or murdering a victim, they are only liable for expenses like funeral costs if they can show they were acting because the victim, “more likely than not,” had been involved in some crime. For instance, if the police break into someone’s home, supposedly on a drug warrant, and shoot someone dead, the victim’s family may not be able to sue even if they can show that the police acted unlawfully—because the police could claim that the victim sold pot or at one time possessed enough to warrant a felony charge. They don’t have to come up with solid legal evidence but merely say their allegations are “more likely than not” true.

Victims of police brutality could face more unjust trumped-up charges. In an effort to get people who are victims of police violence, including those who are beaten during protests, to not pursue any suits, the police could threaten them with federal felonies for bogus charges like “assault” on a cop while “resisting arrest.” A Washington Post blogger on legal issues noted: “Police and prosecutors are already accused of bringing unwarranted charges in abuse cases, then leveraging those charges—agreeing to drop them in exchange for a promise from the victim not to sue. Because the police would need to show only some connection to felony or violent acts by a preponderance of the evidence, merely filing a felony charge would likely dissuade most attorneys from taking a victim’s case.”

“Back the Blue” is part of the Trump/Pence regime’s move to consolidate fascism in government and society. Trump, Pence, Sessions, and the whole regime have made it clear they are out to further beef up police powers, including by sweeping away even token limits on and criticism of vicious, murderous pigs. The new bill aims to take this to an even more intensely ominous, draconian, fascist level. And it goes hand in hand with a wave of bills and laws on the state level that are implementing or threatening harsh penalties against people protesting against police murder and terror, and fighting against other injustices of this system.

All these outrageous laws must be exposed, resisted... and defeated. Many, many people—all people of conscience and everyone who is agonizing over the state of the world and the planet—need to join together in this fight, as part of the urgent struggle to drive out the whole Trump/Pence fascist regime.



       

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/493/the-revolution-club-declares-en.html

Revolution #493 May 29, 2017

May 29, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

THE REVOLUTION CLUB DECLARES

This Summer in Chicago Will NOT Be a Bloodbath of Killing Each Other

This Summer Will NOT Be Free Rein for Police to Murder and Terrorize Black and Brown People

This Summer We Get Organized for Revolution to Emancipate All of Humanity

Every summer, people young and old in Chicago dread it—will their friends or children or parents or they themselves be killed in gang shootings, or shot down by some murdering cop for being young and Black or Latino?

NO!

The Revolution Club declares:

This summer Chicago will become known for revolution, not for people killing each other while Trump the Amerikkkan Hitler moves ahead with a genocidal program targeting Black and Brown people. This summer Chicago will become known for people changing what they are living, fighting, and dying for, taking up the cause of human emancipation and getting organized now to overthrow this system at the soonest possible time.

This summer people will find out about, and get with, the leadership they have in Bob Avakian (BA) and the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP). This summer people will learn about and take up the science and strategy for revolution that has been developed by BA that shows us that this revolution is the only way out. This summer people will learn how to get organized to carry out and win the all-out struggle for power. This summer people will take up and fight for the vision and program embodied in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, written by BA, for a new society where people actually count for something and are given the backing they need to uproot all the different forms of oppression and get beyond a world divided into rich and poor, masters and slaves.

This summer people will change what they’re about and take up the Points of Attention for the Revolution. This summer people will get out of the “me and mine first” bullshit that has us trapped on the bottom scrambling for the crumbs that fall off the imperialist table. This summer, people will come to deeply know that women are not bitches, ho’s, punching bags, incubators, sex objects, or breeders—women are full human beings. People will learn to recognize and value the humanity of each other, of gay and differently gendered people, of Muslims, of immigrants, of people all across the world, and yes, of people right down the block that they’ve looked at as enemies. This summer, people will become critical scientific thinkers and not mindless religious robots.

This summer, people will stop being played into thinking that the enemy is someone just like us living right down the street and instead they will get ready and organized to fight to overthrow the real enemy that has created, and has us locked in, the conditions, the misery, and the poverty that has us at each others’ throats. This summer, people will get out of the madness of killing other people in the exact same conditions. This summer, people will give REAL MEANING to the lives of their murdered loved ones by going after the system that is really responsible. People will stop thirsting for retaliation and revenge. Instead, people will lift their sights and come together to fight for the interests of the masses of people all over the world because that is what people really need and that is what humanity is counting on us to do.

Right now all over the world people are looking at Chicago because of the violence among the people and because of Trump’s fascist threats to move in. This summer, let Chicago become known in a radically different way: Let it become known for people stepping out as an organized force for revolution, changing what people are getting into, what people are fighting for, and what people all over the world see as possible. People will see that there is a way out of the mess this system has people trapped in, here and all over the world.

YOU Are Needed

You are needed to step up to this challenge. You are needed by the masses of people who are going through hell. You are needed by the people of the world who cry out for a different future. You are needed by the people around you, people who don’t think things can be different or who fear change. You are needed to throw in everything you can to be part of preparing the ground, preparing the people, and preparing the vanguard leadership, hastening a situation where millions can go all out for revolution, with a real chance to win.

BA says, “We, the masses of people, are capable of much greater things than this. We are capable of completely and radically changing our circumstances, changing all of society to get rid of circumstances like these. What happens in the world affects us and we can affect the world, and when all is said and done, we can change the whole world, together with people like us all over the world.”

This summer: Decide to live by and fight for the six Points of Attention for the Revolution. Put on the T-shirt representing the revolution, BA Speaks: REVOLUTION―NOTHING LESS! Join the Revolution Club and become an emancipator of humanity.

 

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/493/fuck-trump-fuck-jeff-sessions-fuck-ice-time-to-get-organized-for-revolution-en.html

Revolution #493 May 29, 2017

Fuck Trump, Fuck Jeff Sessions, Fuck ICE!
Time to Get Organized for Revolution!

May 28, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Fascist flyers have appeared on the South and West sides of Chicago calling on Black people to “report illegals” to the ICE immigration police.  Grotesquely filled with dollar signs and a promise of a reward, these flyers try to get Black people to become assisters to a white supremacist Nazi regime and movement on the basis of narrow self-interest and American chauvinism.  The flyer claims to represent the interests of Black people, saying immigrants destroy the Black community and create an economic burden on Black people.  It lists companies that supposedly hire illegal immigrants and the phone number for the Department of Homeland Security tip line.  And at the bottom it says, “Help Atty. General Jeff Sessions Help US Black People.”  This calls to mind Black soldiers after the Civil War who were sent to go slaughter Native Americans for the U.S. government, while at the same time, the former slave masters were being given back their land and power to carry out a new reign of terror against Black people.  Anybody who goes along with and especially anyone who actually carries out the horrific act of turning over immigrants to the authorities for a supposed prize is being degraded to a whole new level and is willingly letting themselves be used to hammer into place a fascist regime— which will be coming for them next.

This system has always gotten one people it oppresses to fight against other people it oppresses, while it sucks the blood of people all over the world.  Nobody should fall for this shameful shit.  We need to get humanity free of the kind of system that generates this kind of horror over and over again.  This system needs to be overthrown and THAT is what we need to be putting ourselves to doing at the soonest possible time.  Join the Revolution Club to get organized for revolution and go up against what this system is doing to people.  Live by and fight for the Six points of Attention for the Revolution.

Point 3 of the Six Points of Attention for the Revolution:

We fight for a world without borders, and for equality among different peoples, cultures and languages.  We do not tolerate insults, “jokes” or derogatory names about a person’s race, nationality, or language.

From the Revolution Club in Chicago

Revolution Club, Chicago
(312) 804-9121
Revclub.chi@gmail.com
facebook.com/revclubchi/
1857 E. 71st Street, Chicago, Illinois 60649



       

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/492/revolution-club-rallies-on-chicago-south-side-en.html

Revolution #493 May 29, 2017

Revolution Club Rallies on Chicago South Side:

SETTING DIFFERENT TERMS

May 22, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

On May 20, on a late afternoon on the south side of Chicago, over a dozen Revolution Club members marched in formation—in tight formation. This set the tone for the next hour—an hour of speeches and culture when the sights and sounds of revolution would be what was happening on a busy, and contested, corner in South Shore.

By the time the hour was up, approximately 40 people were listening intently, and still others lined the sidewalks across the street—not “officially” part of it, but staying where they were and taking in what was being said... and what was being modeled on that street. Families of the victims of police murder... activists in the struggle against the oppression of Black people... a prominent actor...as well as everyday people from around the way all turned out to listen and to show support.

What they heard was a challenge—a challenge to how all too many young people are living right now... and a challenge to get into the revolution and live differently. Emcees from the stage laid out the Points of Attention of the Revolution Club and read the statement that called on people to put aside beefs to hear the message of the day. Joey Johnson spoke powerfully on what the families of the victims of police murder had endured and how they had fought back, calling out the names of some of those killed.

Joe Veale stopped people in their tracks with a deep personal story on the need to break with revenge and get with revolution. You could hear a pin drop at that busy intersection. Revenge is a huge question among the people in Chicago, because among the oppressed it seems that almost everyone has lost someone to the violence among the people and the code is that “you must retaliate.” One person testified afterward how important it was to hear Joe speak to that, that it helped him to deal with something right then in his own life. Then a Revolution Club member spoke about what it means to wear the Revolution tee-shirt—the politics and morality you are representing when you do—and challenged people to take it up... and by the end of the day there were new people in that shirt. The noted Chicago artist Maggie Brown read and sang the moving and insightful poem “Children of Children” by her late father, Oscar Brown Jr.

Carl Dix then took the stage, speaking for the Revolutionary Communist Party. Carl opened by laying out the painful reality of Chicago: summer is coming, but instead of looking forward to a time where kids can be playing, parents dread it, for fear their children will be shot—and they hold them inside.

“It is heartbreaking,” he said, “the way that so many of our young people are caught up in killing each other.” Then he made a vow: “This has got to stop and the revolution declares that it’s gonna stop it this summer by giving our young people something that is worth living for and fighting for.”

He went into why people get into the mentality of retaliation and he laid out what people need to get out of it. He talked about what the revolution would do to wipe out the oppression of today, and how it would be fought. And he talked about the leadership of Bob Avakian—the work he has done, the leadership he has provided, for a whole new stage of communist revolution.

Dix spoke further to what people raise in response to the challenge of revolution.

“Some of y’all say to us these people here ain’t gonna do nothing. They too far gone. Well, Bob Avakian has looked at that question and here is what he has to say about it: He says: ‘Those the system has cast off, those it has treated as less than human, can be the backbone and driving force of a fight not only to end their own oppression, but to finally end all oppression and emancipate all of humanity.’ He’s talking about you, and he’s talking about you, and people like you all across Chicago, people like you all across the country, people who have been caught up in the violence out here, caught up in dealing drugs, who have been living in communities that are surrounded by all of this. You can get out of that, you can get out of the system’s way of thinking that has you stuck in that. You can become part of the backbone of a revolution that is emancipating all of humanity.... the Party is here to train you, to guide you and get you ready to do that, make it possible for you to be part of and to play your role in that revolution.”

Throughout the speech, the Club posted up strong and faced the audience, sending a message that this was their message. Friend, foe and undecided all took note.

One of the emcees sent people off with her own powerful message: “Before everybody splits up, there’s something extremely important to what Carl was talking about, actually changing what this summer is about. And what this summer is to most people’s minds out here. A summer where he spoke of people thinking it would be a bloodbath, carnage, and what we are trying to do, actually making this a summer of emancipation for all of humanity. Now everyone needs to think here if they can not only join but support the revolution. To spread word of it, to let people know what you heard today. To go to the website that’s on the bottom of all these tee-shirts, revcom.us. To follow what is happening, to understand all of the dynamics, the changes in this crazy fascist-led system, to learn and get into Bob Avakian. And most of all, find out how to join the Revolution Club and be a part, and begin the process of joining. This can be the first day of the rest of your lives. And you can make it the first day of other people’s lives too by funding this revolution because people dropped everything to come to the front lines here in Chicago to really make this happen, and this situation where everybody knows the city but not for anything good. So step with us to get into the New Communism.”

That night, over two dozen people—people who came to the rally and some who had got there late and missed it—crowded into the organizing center, watching videos of Bob Avakian, buying and wearing their new Revolution—Nothing Less! T-shirts, and wrangling into the night.

This was a beginning. A step, with a lot that remains to be figured out and solved and transformed, and far from the leap that even in the immediate period urgently needs to be and can be made. But it is a step—an important one—toward making that leap.

 

       

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/492/fascistic-laws-to-protect-fascist-speakers-on-campus-en.html

Revolution #493 May 29, 2017

Fascistic Laws to Protect Fascist Speakers on Campuses

May 22, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

In recent months, a number of extreme reactionary “intellectuals” have been invited to speak at university and college campuses. This includes Ann Coulter, Milo Yiannopoulos, and Charles Murray—people who promote the most racist, reactionary, Nazi-like views. Students and others have protested these events, demanding they be canceled, disrupting the speakers, and in some cases shutting them down. At UC Berkeley, hundreds of ready-to-brawl “alt-right” white supremacists, neo-Nazis, bikers, and militia types showed up to attack protesters.

These protests have been a good thing—exposing these reactionaries and taking a firm stand that their poison is NOT WELCOME on campus. Ann Coulter advocates public floggings of Black youth and says the U.S. should spy on all Arabs and televise torture. Charles Murray argues Black, Latino, and Native American people are innately inferior in intelligence. And Milos Yiannopoulos was a senior editor at Breitbart News, home of Steve Bannon’s white supremacist, anti-Semitic, woman-hating “alt-right” movement.

These protests have created huge controversy about “free speech” on campuses, and many states have passed or are considering legislation regarding campus protests. Several states are considering measures that, in the name of “free speech,” in effect protect reactionary speakers on campus and limit and punish protesters. Many of these bills—like those being considered in Wisconsin, California, and North Carolina—are based on a model written by the Goldwater Institute, a reactionary think tank. This model bill imposes penalties on those who interfere with speakers; requires public universities to remain “neutral” on political issues; and prevents them from disinviting speakers. Bills being considered in Wisconsin, Illinois, Louisiana, and Michigan that follow the Goldwater model require public colleges and universities to suspend or expel students who twice infringe the “free speech rights” of others.

Christina Berchini, a professor of teacher education at the University of Wisconsin, said about the proposed state bill that includes a requirement that public universities stay “neutral”: “I teach about white supremacy. How, exactly, does one handle such topics in a neutral way?” In fact, it ISN’T neutral for schools to be “neutral” about fascists speaking on campus. Inviting and/or allowing these fascists to speak on campus IS taking a side, letting them spew and promote their poison.

Protesters Say NO! to Pence at Western Pennsylvania Christian College

Protesters Say NO! to Pence at Western Pennsylvania Christian College

May 20—When Mike Pence gave the commencement speech at the conservative evangelical Christian school Grove City College in western Pennsylvania, about 220 people marched in protest in the town surrounding the campus. The action was organized by Slippery Rock Huddle, women from the nearby Slippery Rock University, and focused on the Trump/Pence regime’s attacks on the environment, LGBT rights, and health care. Protesters came from other small towns in the area and from Pittsburgh and elsewhere. People chanted “No ban, no wall, immigrants are welcome here” and other chants, and had signs like “Refuse Lies, Resist Greed, Resist Corruption” as well as “NO!” signs from Refuse Fascism.

A young man who was part of the protest said, “I wake up in the morning thinking there are things with this regime to be afraid of, like a full nuclear attack. [Trump] is a fascist and uses force when he has to. I am from here, and I am excited to see this many people protesting Pence.” In an op-ed that appeared in the New York Times the day before the commencement, a Grove City College student said there was opposition on the campus to inviting Pence because that “will serve as an endorsement” of Trump, and that “alumni and students flooded administrators’ inboxes with emails protesting the decision.”

For students and others trying to get at the truth, debate and the principle that the most ardent advocates of ideas should be heard is very important. But this cannot be treated as an “absolute.” In a world divided into antagonistic classes with profound relations of oppression and exploitation, there is not an “even playing field.” The ideas of the reactionaries like Coulter have backing from hundreds of years of oppressive tradition—and from the fascist regime now in power in Washington. All kinds of platforms are available to those spouting such oppressive shit. In contrast, it is the students and others protesting the fascists who need to have their right to speak protected.

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution mandates the protection of the rights of the people to speak and assemble free from government suppression—not the right of those backed by and tied to the government to be “protected” from protest. But the issue here is NOT “free speech.” The real issue is FASCISM—and the right and responsibility of the people to resist and drive fascists out of power in this country before it is too late.

Trump has incited violence against protesters and he and his fascist cabal are now trying to demolish the right of people to speak against and resist the crimes of this fascist regime. The venom from people like Coulter, Yiannopoulos, and Murray is an extreme expression of the views the fascist Trump/Pence regime is trying to impose on all of society. And these reactionary ideas serve to concretely reinforce and encourage harmful social policies.

It is good people are protesting and trying to shut down reactionaries speaking on campuses. And there are big stakes here. The right of people to stand up against fascism is under attack. And if the fascists succeed in enforcing such fascistic repression on campuses, it will contribute to their consolidating fascism and suppressing opposition nationwide.

There must be determined struggle against any attempts to suppress protests against reactionaries on campus, and this fight needs to be part of DRIVING OUT the fascist Trump/Pence regime.

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/492/notre-dame-students-walk-out-on-pence-en.html

Revolution #493 May 29, 2017

Notre Dame Students Walk Out on Fascist Holy Warrior Mike Pence

May 22, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

 

As soon as U.S. Vice President Mike Pence opened his mouth to start his  commencement address at Notre Dame University on May 21, at least 100 graduating students stood up and began walking out in protest.

The students’ action was a significant and bold public protest against this Christian fascist warrior who has devoted his political career to crusading against rights for women, LGBTQ people, immigrants, and oppressed people everywhere (see “Vice President Mike Pence: The Dangerous Holy Warrior Waiting in the Wings”). The walk-out was widely covered in the national and international press and on social media.

Students organized in advance, knowing that this would be a unique opportunity to let the world know there is principled opposition to the anti-abortion theocracy that Pence has been working to bring into being in the U.S. The student group WeStaNDFor said it was calling for the protest because “The participation and degree-conferring of VP Pence stand as an endorsement of policies and actions which directly contradict Catholic social teachings and values and target vulnerable members of the University’s community.” The student group has sponsored previous protests on the Notre Dame campus against the appearance of racist theorist Charles Murray, in support of immigrant communities under attack, and against exclusion of Syrian refugees by the Trump-Pence regime.

At the commencement ceremony, before Pence’s speech, valedictorian Caleb Joshua Pine called on people to “stand against the scapegoating of Muslims.’’ He also voiced his opposition to the plan for a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

Because the graduates walked out, they did not receive their degrees or participate in the traditional concluding ceremony. Instead they held their own outside the stadium with supportive faculty and family members. One of the organizers said, “At the conclusion of the ceremony in the stadium, the dean of each college recommends...that graduates of that college be given degrees from University of Notre Dame. I think with your character, with the actions you took today, with the solidarity you’ve shown with one another, you’ve recommended yourselves, I direct you to turn your tassels and celebrate your own graduation.”

A Black woman graduate said the walk-out happened “because we stand with marginalized communities. Because there’s a difference between engaging in dialogue and engaging with voices that are willing and ready to completely stomp you out. It’s one thing to be silent about conversation; it’s another thing to be silent about fascism... It’s another thing to see that someone’s politics literally endanger other people’s lives.”

The deadly brutality underlying Pence’s words was blatantly expressed when, after praising the accomplishments of the graduating class, Pence trumpeted that “most impressive of all,” 38 of the graduates were going on to join the U.S. military. In other words, to become part of the U.S. death machine that destroys so many lives and whole nations around the world. Pence went on to uphold the anti-abortion, anti-women stance of the Catholic university, saying, “I’m so proud that the University of Notre Dame has stood without apology for the sanctity of human life.” In reality, the anti-abortion fanaticism of Pence and the Christian fascists have nothing to do with protecting life—denying women the right to choose when and whether to not give birth is to force them into slavery, and this is part of a whole vicious agenda of enforcing patriarchy and reactionary “family values.”

Pence also spent a good part of his speech trying to turn reality upside down on the very hot issue of campus “free speech.” The fascists have been stung lately by student protests across the country against fascist operatives, especially at the University of California, Berkeley (see The Battle for Berkeley, Why it’s Right, and Righteous, to Drive Fascists Off Campus, Out of Berkeley... and Out of Power!). Pence was fully aware of the walk-out that had been planned against his speech at Notre Dame, and he did not directly mention it. But he tried to portray himself and his fellow fascist leaders and agitators as victims of suppression, talking about “the noxious wave that seems to be rushing over much of academia. While this institution has maintained an atmosphere of civility and open debate, far too many campuses across America have become characterized by speech codes, safe zones, tone policing, administration-sanctioned political correctness, all of which amounts to nothing less than suppression of the freedom of speech... This should not and must not be met with silence.”

The courageous students who stood up and walked out on Pence have not been intimidated or fooled by such double-talk. Their example of active protest right up against the Trump-Pence fascist regime should be emulated, spread, and defended far and wide.

 

~~~~~~~~~~

Protest at the Notre Dame Campus Gate: “Drive Out the fascists, before it’s too late, Dump Trump, Dump Pence, the world can’t wait”

From a reader:

While over 100 graduating students turned their backs and walked out of the Notre Dame Stadium to protest Mike Pence’s presence as commencement speaker, there was a spirited protest of a couple of hundred people at the main gate to the Notre Dame campus.

Protesters indicted the Trump/Pence regime on many issues and found creative ways to express themselves. A sharp focus was the attacks on women and LGBT people. Pence has an ugly and vicious history of this as Indiana governor. A woman wore a coat hanger on her head symbolizing the impact of making abortion illegal or inaccessible.

A group of “Handmaids” attired in red robes and white bonnets—evoking the current TV series based on the novel The Handmaids Tale that evokes a future fascist society where biblical law and patriarchal values are brutally enforcedwere highly visible, processing throughout the protest area saying things like, “God be with you.” One “Handmaid” was quoted in the press saying: “If Mike Pence gets his way, this is what our world will be like, where women are just going to be used to reproduce and not have a choice what they do with their bodies.”

Homemade posters included a breadth of anger. “Refugees In—Racists Out!”; No Human Being is Illegal!”; “Warning: Electric Fence Pence”; “Protect Women’s rights, LGBT rights, Black rights, Brown rights, religious rights, Stop Pence/Trump.” Many signs protested the attack on health care. Another focus was Trump/Pence’s moves to radically change the form of governance—“The Only Wall We Need is Between Church and State” and “Stand up for the Constitution.” “In the Name of Humanity, We Refuse a Fascist America” picket signs were visible throughout the crowd. The Notre Dame gate is on a busy street, and many cars honked support for the protest.

Protesters included many people from the immediately surrounding area, as well as people who traveled from farther-away Indiana towns and Chicago. The protest was organized by South Bend Equity, a local Indivisible chapter along with other organizations.

The Chicago Revolution Club marched in and helped focus up the understanding and anger, including focusing up how all this is fascism and connected this to the crimes of the system.

A high point of the demonstration was when some of the graduating Notre Dame students who had walked out joined and addressed the protesters. A Revolution Club member emphasized the role of students in fighting the fascist regime and how their spirit needs to spread.

Refuse Fascism banners were very visible, especially, “Drive Out the Trump/Pence Regime.” Refuse Fascism activists reported that people grabbed up the NO! posters quickly as they arrived, and a crew of youth held one of the banners across the street throughout the protest. Refuse Fascism spoke to the crowd about why the Trump/Pence regime is fascist, and Pence’s role at the head of fascist forces in the regime and society, and why this is a pivotal moment of both danger and urgent need to organize thousands to mobilize millions to drive out the whole regime before it’s too late. Chants that spoke to this were taken up broadly, for example, “Drive Out the fascists, before it’s too late, Dump Trump, Dump Pence, the world can’t wait.”

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/492/on-the-appointment-of-the-special-counsel-en.html

Revolution #493 May 29, 2017

Why Relying on the Political Process Is Not Just Insufficient But Dangerous...
And Why the Whole Trump/Pence Regime Has Got to Go:

On the Appointment of the Special Counsel to Investigate the Trump Campaign

May 21, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

The Justice Department has named a special counsel to investigate possible ties between the Trump presidential campaign and Russia. The appointment has been met with a sense of expectation by millions of people outraged by the reactionary policies of the Trump/Pence regime—and a sense of relief by some of the powers that be. The special counsel, former head of the FBI Robert Mueller, has been portrayed in the media and by Democratic and Republican politicians as someone “above the fray” who will go where the evidence leads—and not bend to partisan pressure.

The media and politicians are telling people to trust in institutions they say will uncover wrongdoing and crimes. And this can lead people to pin hopes on the special counsel to rein in the Trump/Pence regime.

But the reality of the situation is much more serious—and what is needed in order to get rid of Trump and this fascist regime of horrors is something of a whole other order: a movement of people in their millions to drive out this regime.

Trump Doubles Down and Messages His Base to Get Ready to Fight

Trump has reacted to talk of congressional investigations and the appointment of the special counsel with vitriol, contempt, and fascist resolve that the ship will not go down. He has accused his foes of waging a witch hunt to bring down a presidency that was elected fair and square and that from day one has incurred the wrath of “out of touch elites.”

In his commencement address at the Coast Guard Academy, Trump told the cadets: in the face of adversity “you have to put your head down and fight, fight, fight.” He is telling his supporters to get ready for a fight to the end. This is the orientation that has guided this fascist movement for decades. And now that it is in power, it is the orientation of holding on and carrying forward to implement its agenda and to remove roadblocks to doing so. As Vice President Mike Pence declared when the new fascist cabinet was filled: “Now is our time.”

Just four months in power, and the regime’s fascist program has already done enormous harm and poses dire threats to humanity and the planet: the terrorization and heartless arrest and deportation of immigrants; gag orders on health and family-planning workers in other countries receiving funds from the U.S. that prevent them from providing women with information about abortion; suppression of climate-change research and a fossil-fuel frenzy energy policy.

And the Trump/Pence regime has made it abundantly clear that it will not be bound by legal precedent, constitutional constraints, or procedural norms. The recent firing of FBI director James Comey—the incident that set off the current political firestorm—is an illustration.

The Special Counsel Doesn’t Begin to Solve the Real Problem: Fascism Is in Power

If we come to grips with the actual—the fascist—nature of this regime, we can begin to see how and why the Mueller investigation does not begin to solve the problem (and for all its “special-ness,” Trump still retains the legal authority and power to fire the special counsel).

Even if the Mueller investigation began pointing to criminal wrongdoing... even if other congressional investigations further opened the question of impeachment... even if the Democrats began mobilizing for deeper and wider examination of the regime—the brute fact remains: this regime is determined to implement its fascist program.

Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York and a close and early supporter of Trump, expressed the sense of mission of this regime when he said, “There is no next election. This is our last chance to save this great country.” It is a sentiment echoed by others in Trump’s cabal.

Again, these fascists are pressing ahead. But they have not fully consolidated power. So there is a window to act against this regime. But that could shut quickly.

The regime could rapidly move against “enemies” and suppress resistance, suspend the rule of law, and impose even more draconian law. It could manufacture an “incident” that provides a pretext to “crack down.” The Nazis did this in 1933. A fire destroyed the Reichstag (like the Capitol building in the U.S.). The Nazis blamed the communists but likely set the fire themselves and used the incident to tighten their grip on power.

The Trump/Pence regime is not above doing something like this. Or it could make a precipitous move towards war, impose “emergency measures” in the name of “security”—and introduce them as temporary, then reinstitute and extend them, and basically gut and/or eliminate formal democratic rights.

Every day this regime remains in power, it causes more harm. And the longer it stays in power and institutionalizes its rule—the more it will be able to attack and erode civil liberties and voting rights, pass new laws, strengthen its capacity to carry out repression, and undermine people’s ability to protest and resist.

This regime must be driven from power before it is too late.

Trump/Pence: They and the Whole Regime Must Go

The probe by Mueller will focus on the 2016 presidential campaign, both Russian meddling and any possible collusion with Russia by Trump operatives. Trump could conceivably be targeted and implicated. But the special counsel investigation will not take on the ruling fascist regime assembled since the election as a whole.

If Trump were to go, that could be a good thing—but not if the rest of the regime is left intact. This is not what humanity needs. It is not what we should be fighting for. We are facing a coherent fascist cabal.

Is Mike Pence better for his “governing experience”? No, we don’t need a more competent fascist. And Pence is more than just a henchman who knows the ways and halls of power. As addressed in correspondence from Andy Zee, Pence now politically leads a powerful Christian fascist movement permeating U.S. society.

Who is worse, Trump or Pence? Both are worse! And there’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a critical part of the fascist cabal who is aiming to rewrite law and step up the legal-police-penal onslaught against Black and Latino people and immigrants. There’s Betsy DeVos, a devout Christian fascist with plans to wreck and Christianize the educational system. There are other operatives too. This project, and its agenda, has been decades in the making. It has backing at the highest echelons of society; it is in different ways connected to a broad, mass social base for fascism; and is tied in with fascist networks within the military. (See Bob Avakian, The Coming Civil War and Repolarization for Revolution in the Present Era.)

The fascist cabal, now in power, is working relentlessly towards the fascist transformation of U.S. society. This regime must be stopped, and we have limited time to do it.

       

For the Sake of Humanity, We Must Drive Out This Whole Regime

People are being told that their concerns about the Trump regime will be solved by the special counsel and investigation—and to let it do its work.

What in fact is needed is much harder... but actually much more realistic. What is required of those who cannot stomach the hatred spewed by this regime—its xenophobia, its racism, its misogyny, its disregard for truth and fact—and where it is taking society—is to get off the sidelines and get on to the stage of changing history. To resist the crimes and outrages of this regime and organize and mobilize towards acting in our millions to drive out a regime that is moving to establish a fascist order and that has its fingers on nuclear weapons.

As for the Democrats. They have their differences with the Republicans. They will mobilize some opposition. But they will not do what is fundamentally needed, which is to bring people in their millions into the streets to get rid of this regime. Why won’t the Democrats mobilize their broad base of support into the streets to confront this regime and its supporters—to drive out this regime? Because mobilizing progressive people and those who have been oppressed by the system carries the risk of destabilizing society and unraveling the system—and this is something they will not allow. They won’t allow it because the Democratic Party is a party of the ruling class.

When Barack Obama told Donald Trump and America after Trump’s victory that the contest between the two parties was like an “intramural scrimmage,” that “we’re all on the same team”—he was revealing something very basic. The Democratic Party is more concerned with maintaining the capitalist-imperialist system and the rule of the capitalist-imperialist class than with the interests of the people. (For analysis, see Bob Avakian, “The Pyramid of Power and the Struggle to Turn This Whole Thing Upside Down.”)

In this current political crisis, the Call to Action from Refuse Fascism takes on heightened urgency:

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.

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/492/learn-to-accept-the-awful-no-andy-zee-en.html

Revolution #493 May 29, 2017

Learn to Accept the Awful? NO!

by Andy Zee | May 22, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

To learn more about the roots of the Christian Fascist movement get into this piece by Bob Avakian:

The Truth About Right-Wing Conspiracy... And Why Clinton and the Democrats Are No Answer

Bill Maher, host of HBO series Real Time with Bill Maher, has been in a fury for several shows against everyone who didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton because it is their fault that Donald Trump is president. On the May 19 broadcast a heated exchange erupted with Cornel West, who Maher lambasted for not supporting Hillary Clinton. Maher was emphatically arguing that Clinton would have been far better on the issue of police murdering Black people than Trump, as well as on every other issue. Cornel West said “better than Trump” is a low bar, but West’s arguments for not supporting Clinton is not my point here, although I must say that Cornel West was standing by his principles, whereas Maher advocates doing what is expedient, whatever the cost to humanity.

After Maher made this argument, David Frum, the conservative but anti-Trump editor of The Atlantic said: “[I]f you have any hope, better hope that Mike Pence becomes president as rapidly as possible...” Bill Maher excitedly replied: “I could not agree more. Mike Pence is well within the parameters of awful that we have come see as the normal. I’ve seen Mike Pence before... he’s the typical hypocritical Christian....”

Everything about this statement is wrong and dangerous starting with seeing Mike Pence as normal, except perhaps if you have come to accept actual fascism as normal. The problem is, to do this you have to ignore what fascism actually means to real people’s lives, and a person with any decency at all should never normalize fascism.

Mike Pence is a Christian fascist. He is now vice president of a regime that is in the throes of consolidating fascism. Fascism is not just an insult, but an accurate description of a regime that is an even more openly and brutal qualitative change from the “normal” exploitive and oppressive workings of the system, and the normal repressive apparatus that enforces that exploitation and oppression, including, mass incarceration and the police murder of Black and Latino people (if you want to get into it Bill Maher).

Fascism is a more blatant form of terroristic dictatorship—subverting the separation of powers, the separation of church and state, the rule of law, and, as the Refuse Fascism Call to Action states: “fascism essentially eliminates traditional democratic rights.”

Right now, there is much talk of Trump being removed from office and Mike Pence becoming president in the wake of Trump’s firing of FBI chief Comey and then openly bragging about obstructing an investigation of his campaign and government—which was a fascist move by essentially declaring that HE and his regime, including Mike Pence who continues to defend and advance Trump’s words and agenda, are above the law, and thereby essentially are the law.

Who is Mike Pence?

Mike Pence has been a major political force within, and now is the political leader of a Christian fascist movement that has been permeating U.S. society, political/government institutions, and especially its armed forces and police forces. Mike Pence assembled a cabal of Christian fascists in the Trump cabinet. They are moving ahead to destroy women’s very lives and much more.

You can not say Trump is a crazy and not Pence, and be truthful; Mike Pence will not even eat a meal with a woman if his wife is not present. I believe this is likely certifiably lunacy even for many who lived in the Middle Ages. More, there is not a single thing that Trump has done without Pence being a part of it and standing with Trump.

To David Frum and Bill Maher: MIKE PENCE MIGHT BE MORE DANGEROUS THAN DONALD TRUMP PRECISELY BECAUSE PEOPLE LIKE YOU WILL ACCOMMODATE AND CONCILIATE WITH HIM AND WITH FASCISM, IF IT JUST LOSES ITS GROTESQUE FACE IN DONALD TRUMP.

NO! Trump and Pence must both go... along with the whole cabal they have assembled.

Frum and Maher both put forward that people should support Trump being removed from office and Pence becoming president as soon as possible, and then they could vote him out if they so wish in 2020.

The problem is, if we wait for the workings of the just appointed special counsel to possibly indict Trump... if we wait for Congress to begin impeachment proceedings, there are two problems: (1) As indicated above, Pence could be president and as such will continue to lead in the consolidation of a fascist America and many people, such as Frum and Maher, are currently saying they are willing to accommodate to that—with no regard for what that will mean for the lives of millions of people, including the half of humanity that is female. And (2), and even more dangerous, the Trump/Pence fascist regime could consciously or even inadvertently provoke an international crisis or war, or create or confront a domestic incident or crisis that allows them to declare an emergency and rapidly enact measures that prohibit dissent and which could further unleash their rabid fascist base and paralyze those who oppose them. And, then it would be “too late.”

No Bill Maher, if you accommodate a “quieter,” more polite fascist who can speak in sentences but who nonetheless heads up a fascist regime; it is not wise, practical, or “adult”; it is complicity and collaboration.

 

 


 

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

Revolution #493 May 29, 2017

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

Updated November 20, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

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

Editor's note: Important voices are calling out the ominous implications of a Trump presidency from a range of viewpoints. And challenging people to confront what that means, and to resist.

Voices of Conscience posted on this page
(click to read or watch):

Stan Van Gundy, Coach of the NBA Detroit Pistons, Supports NFL Players Refusing to Stand for the National Anthem and for Their Demands

From a reader:

In a November 14 essay in Time, Stan Van Gundy, the coach of the NBA Detroit Pistons, said he supports the NFL players who are refusing to stand for the national anthem in protest of police brutality and social injustice and he calls on others “to join me in supporting them.”

Van Gundy, who is white, talks about coaching in the NBA for 20 years in a league that is 75 percent Black and what he has learned about “the issues they and their families have had to encounter.” He wrote, “I have an obligation as a citizen to speak out and to support, in any way possible, those brave and patriotic athletes who are working to bring change to our country. I believe all of us do.”

Van Gundy points out that “These athletes could take the easy route and not placed their livelihoods at risk by standing up for what they believe in. They’ve put in their hard work. They could accept their paychecks and live lives of luxury. Instead, they are risking their jobs to speak up for those who have no voice.”

He goes on to say that “Those who have been at the forefront of great advances in social justice have always been willing to make significant personal sacrifices, and that group has always included athletes,” and he names Muhammad Ali, Tommie Smith, John Carlos, and Colin Kaepernick as those who have sacrificed for the cause of calling out social injustice, and that these current NFL players are following in their footsteps.

He points out that these NFL players are not just protesting on Sunday, but “On virtually every Tuesday during the NFL season (the NFL’s traditional off-day), these committed athletes are using their platform as professional athletes in town halls, statehouses and even Washington, D.C., to listen, learn, meet with leaders, advocate for change and put the issues of criminal justice reform in the spotlight.”

The changes they are advocating for are:

At the end of his essay, Van Gundy says, “We should all join them in ensuring their collective voice is heard.”

Van Gundy’s essay is online here.

Return to top

Nobel Peace Prize Winner Calls Colin Kaepernick a Hero and Wants to Take a Knee with Him

From a reader

Jody Williams, recipient of the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize, called Colin Kaepernick a hero for taking a knee in protesting police murders of Black people.  Williams, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for her work seeking the ban of anti-personnel mines, gave her support to Kaepernick during her October 15 acceptance speech when she was receiving the Human Rights Awards from the Eleanor Roosevelt Center at Val-Kill, New York.

In an interview after her speech, she talked about why the athletes are taking a knee:

(It's because) the seeming inability of this country to deal with racism in general, but in particular, the police brutality against primarily Black men. There certainly has been violence against Black women but the killings of Black men have been very, very disturbing to many people. I think [they] helped spark the Black Lives Matter movement.

So when Kaepernick decided to use his fame to take a knee, and by doing so, make a public statement about the need to deal with this, I thought it was outstanding, personally.

And when others joined him, it I think was a pivotal moment in race issues in the country. We may not see a dramatic change immediately, but that Kaepernick took a knee, and then other Black athletes and white athletes joined in in their own way and found the support of the team owners, etc.—it reminds me of the chain of people protesting apartheid outside of the South African Embassy. You know, the impact of doing it again and again and again, famous people and not-so-famous people—it does make a difference.

Then she talked about the importance of those who have a disproportionate influence speaking out:

They mean that important figures have decided that they will use their fame to make a difference. And that also empowers the not-so-famous to stand up and make a difference. I think it's terrific. I think it's long overdue.

Despite the fact that, you know, Muhammad Ali—going to jail instead of going to war, and the two athletes in the Olympics raising their fists—famous people have done it before, but not to this extreme.

I wish I could take a knee with Kaepernick.

When I first saw that he took a knee, I [thought], "Oh, yes! If I could only go to a football game and take a knee with him, I would be so proud." Whether he ever plays football again, the man has made a statement that affects our culture. And for that alone, he is a hero.

Return to top

Hertha Berlin Soccer Team Takes a Knee in Solidarity with Kaepernick

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

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

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

German soccer club takes a knee

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

Credit: AP

Return to top

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

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

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

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

Return to top

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

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

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

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

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

Return to top

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

From a reader:

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

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

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

Jabari Parker, player for the Milwaukee Bucks:

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

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

Stan Van Gundy, head coach, Detroit Pistons:

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

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

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

Gregg Popovich, coach of the San Antonio Spurs:

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

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

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

Erik Spoelstra, coach of the Miami Heat:

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

Return to top

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

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

He wrote in part in a Washington Post opinion letter:

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

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

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

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

Letter from a reader:

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

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

Return to top

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

From a reader:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In another interview she said:

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

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

Return to top

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Messages of Resistance at the MTV Video Music Awards

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Return to top

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

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

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

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

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

Return to top

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On his website, Joseph Guay says:

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

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

Return to top

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

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

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

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

Return to top

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

From David Strathairn:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read text of her talk here

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

Neil Young: “Children of Destiny”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watch the video:

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

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

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

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

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

Read Stoll’s entire essay at Vulture.com.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read Diala Shamas’s article here.

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

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

Watch the video:

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

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

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

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

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

Read the rest of Reza Aslan’s interview here.

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

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

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

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

Read the rest of Jacob Ayol’s story here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read Steven Thrasher’s article online here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read C. Christine Fair’s op-ed here.

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

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

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

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

Read Lincoln Blade’s entire article here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He goes on:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the whole speech here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We are USC Faculty.

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

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

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

We are committed to:

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

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

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

We will Fight On!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the whole article here

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

Michael Bennett, who plays for the Seattle Seahawks, who participated in the pro football players’ national anthem protest, and who refused to be a shill for Israel against the Palestinian people (see “Pro Football Player Michael Bennett Refuses to Be a Shill for IsraelRevolution, February 14, 2017, revcom.us), had his statement in support of the women’s strike on International Women’s Day read by Dave Zirin on his podcast.

Here are some excerpts from Bennett’s statement:

“As a Black man in America sometimes I get overwhelmed and discouraged by what I see, from the police killings of unarmed Black men to the unequal educational system to mass incarceration, but when I look into my daughter’s eyes, I see the courage of Harriet Tubman, the patience of Rosa Parks, the soul of Ida B. Wells, the passion of Fanny Lou Hamer, and the heart of Angela Davis.  I see the future.  I see hope.  And, I’m inspired because it will be women who lead the future.  So, I’m writing this to express my unconditional solidarity for the women’s strike on International Women’s Day, March 8th.”

“It’s about the women across the Earth who are suffering.  Women not so worried about the glass ceiling because they are trying to survive a collapsing floor.  It’s about women of color across the Earth who live on less than one dollar a day.  It’s about all women who are subject to sexual assault and violence.

“I stand with the women’s strike because I agree with their unity statement that reads that this day is ‘organized by and for women who have been marginalized and silenced by decades of neoliberalism directed towards working women, women of color, Native women, disabled women, immigrant women, Muslim women, and lesbian women.’”

“I encourage my fellow football players to take off their helmets and stand with these brave women across the world.”

“We need change, and to quote Frederick Douglass, ‘Without struggle, there is no progress.’”

(The statement is 35 minutes into the podcast at https://www.thenation.com/article/the-edge-of-sports-podcast-the-enduring-legacy-of-hoop-dreams/)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read Tim Roger’s article in its entirety here.

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

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

In the article, written by Garrett Epps, legal scholar, novelist, and contributing editor to The Atlantic, he examines all possible legal authorities and concludes that there is no justification in U.S. law for what was done to the passengers on that plane. And then Epps, demonstrating the courage of his convictions, writes:

I am vowing, here and now, not to show papers in this situation. I know that it will take gumption to follow through if the situation arises. What will be the reaction of ordinary travelers, some with outstanding warrants or other legal worries? Should we expect heroism of people who just want to get off an airplane?

Read more

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

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

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

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

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

Read more

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the whole interview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The statement said in part:

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

Berkeley Law School Faculty and Staff: #NoBanNoWall

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

Their statement reads:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The PDF of the poster is available here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hear Meryl Streep’s whole speech here.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prochnik writes:

Reading in Zweig’s memoir how, during the years of Hitler’s rise to power, many well-meaning people “could not or did not wish to perceive that a new technique of conscious cynical amorality was at work,” it’s difficult not to think of our own present predicament. Last week, as Trump signed a drastic immigration ban that led to an outcry across the country and the world, then sought to mitigate those protests by small palliative measures and denials, I thought of one other crucial technique that Zweig identified in Hitler and his ministers: they introduced their most extreme measures gradually—strategically—in order to gauge how each new outrage was received. “Only a single pill at a time and then a moment of waiting to observe the effect of its strength, to see whether the world conscience would still digest the dose,” Zweig wrote. “The doses became progressively stronger until all Europe finally perished from them.”...

In Zweig’s view, the final toxin needed to precipitate German catastrophe came in February of 1933, with the burning of the national parliament building in Berlin—an arson attack Hitler blamed on the communists but which some historians still believe was carried out by the Nazis themselves. “At one blow all of justice in Germany was smashed,” Zweig recalled. The destruction of a symbolic edifice—a blaze that caused no loss of life—became the pretext for the government to begin terrorizing its own civilian population. That fateful conflagration took place less than 30 days after Hitler became chancellor. The excruciating power of Zweig’s memoir lies in the pain of looking back and seeing that there was a small window in which it was possible to act, and then discovering how suddenly and irrevocably that window can be slammed shut.

To read the whole article, go here.

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

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

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

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

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

From a reader:

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

When Popovich was asked about Black History Month he said,

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

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

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

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

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

In a February 3 article for the Advocate titled "Trump's Executive Orders: Divide and Conquer," Shawn Gaylord, advocacy counsel for Human Rights First focusing on LGBT issues, makes an important point about how Trump must not be allowed to pit different sections of the people against each other.

Gaylord writes, "I am sure I am not alone in reading through each statement and each executive order [from Trump] with a sense of foreboding as we watch community after community being targeted by a government that seems determined to roll back the progress of the last few decades." He notes that so far Trump's executive orders have not "specifically targeted people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity," though, as he points out, among the sections of the people targeted so far—women, refugees, immigrants, religious minorities, people of color—LGBT people are part of each.

Noting that there is one direct mention of "sexual orientation" is Trump's executive order banning immigrants and refugees from seven mainly Muslim countries, Gaylord writes:

A quick read might cause you to think it was actually a move to protect LGBT people. But on closer examination, you quickly realize that what is at play is something we dreaded all along. The protection of LGBT people is cited as a justification for a set of cruel and unnecessary new immigration policies that, no matter how carefully worded they might be, amount to a Muslim ban.

The "Purpose" section, which purports to explain what the executive order is designed to accomplish, notes, "The United States should not admit ... those who would oppress members of one race, one gender, or sexual orientation." It is not clear exactly how immigration authorities would know which individuals "would" take such actions, although I suspect they will turn to broad generalizations about religious groups. This language, like other sections of the order, seems clearly designed to target Muslims. We saw this coming and we cannot let it stand....

The Trump administration seems to be employing every tactic at its disposal, but one of the most egregious is this strategy of "divide and conquer." By appealing to the shared desire that LGBT people might live their lives free from violence, the Trump administration is hoping we will turn that desire into fear and hatred of another marginalized community. He did it after Orlando, he did it with this executive order, and I would call on the entire LGBT community to stand up and say "not in our name."

Read Shawn Gaylord's article at the Advocate web site.

Return to top

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

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

Her colleagues at the Cleveland Clinic, along with more than 1,400 other medical students, doctors, and other medical staff have issued an open letter criticizing the heads of the hospital for not taking a stand against Trump's Muslim ban. The letter points out that far from condemning Trump's actions, "the Cleveland Clinic silently continues to promote ties with the Trump administration." In fact, an upcoming Cleveland Clinic fundraiser—with tickets costing upwards of $100,000—is scheduled to be held at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

The open letter says:

Through this action you are supporting a president who has, in his first ten days in office, reinstated the global gag rule, weakened the Affordable Care Act, fast-tracked construction of both the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines through legally protected native lands, and banned legal U.S. residents from majority-Muslim countries. All of these actions directly harm human health and well-being in the United States and abroad. Your willingness to hold your fundraiser at a Trump resort is an unconscionable prioritization of profit over people. It is impossible for the Cleveland Clinic to reconcile supporting its employees and patients while simultaneously financially and publicly aiding an individual who directly harms them.

The open letter and list of signatories is available here

Return to top

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

After Trump announced the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court seat that has been empty since Antonio Scalia died last year (see “Trump Picks ‘Scalia Clone’ to Replace Scalia on the Supreme Court“), the pro-choice group NARAL issued a statement saying in part:

...President Trump’s decision to speed up the announcement of his Supreme Court nominee will not distract from the hundreds of thousands of Americans demonstrating in the streets and at airports. After Trump’s disastrous first week on the job—from his global gag rule to his travel ban on Muslims—we cannot afford to elevate his destructive agenda with a lifetime appointment to our nation’s highest court.

With Judge Neil Gorsuch, the stakes couldn’t be higher when it comes to women and our lives. Gorsuch represents an existential threat to legal abortion in the United States and must never wear the robes of a Supreme Court justice.

With a clear track record of supporting an agenda that undermines abortion access and endangers women, there is no doubt that Gorsuch is a direct threat to Roe v. Wade and the promise it holds for women’s equality. The fact that the court has repeatedly reaffirmed Roe over the past four decades would no longer matter, just as facts often don’t seem to matter to President Trump. Confirming Gorsuch to a lifetime on the Supreme Court would make good on Trump’s repeated promises to use his appointments to overturn Roe v. Wade and punish women.

NARAL and our 1.2 million member-activists call on the Senate to reject Trump’s nominee using any and all available means, including the filibuster.

The complete statement from NARAL on Trump’s nomination of Gorsuch is online here.

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

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

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

Later in an interview backstage, she said:

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

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

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

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

Saira Rafiee wrote on Facebook about what happened:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read Cohen’s article here.

Rihanna: “What an immoral pig”

On January 28, singer Rihanna tweeted:

Disgusted! The news is devastating! America is being ruined right before our eyes! What an immoral pig you have to be to implement such BS!!

As of January 30, there have been 175,000 re-tweets of this Rihanna tweet.

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

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

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

University Science Professors Call for Defense of Science and Government Scientists

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

Their message is as follows:

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

In Defense of Science

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We cannot let this stand.

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

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

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

For the entire interview go here:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the whole Cohen column here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matthew Rothschild: “Trumpolini.... Beware”

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

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

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

But there were other echoes as well....

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

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

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

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

That is not who he is. He is Trumpolini.

Beware.

To read the whole article go here

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

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

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

Then another quote, this one from Monty Python:

Run away! Run Away!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trump has a history of doing this—and worse.

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

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

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

To read the petition and full background go here.

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

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

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

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

To read the whole statement go here.

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

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

Some of the lyrics go:

Dimwitted bigot
Misplacing sympathies
From on your cross
Tell them who matters
Policing cities in ruin

It blows my mind
How these Nazis
Took the stage
And pandered to
Your deepest fears
Dead and cold
The Gipper must be
Rolling in his grave

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

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

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

The lyrics of “Decision” include:

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

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

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

Listen and download audio here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To read the whole piece by Blakeslee go here

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read this whole piece here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are you not alarmed?

To read the whole piece go here.

Green Day: Trump and "Troubled Times"

Green Day continues to call out Trump as a fascist. A video of the song “Troubled Times” from their latest album, Revolution Radio, was released on Monday, MLK Day. A statement from Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong said, "Today we celebrate love and compassion more than ever." The song/video doesn’t name Trump but the message is clear through the imagery. There’s a Trump-like figure with KKK teeth wearing a “Make America Great Again” cap—spewing hateful, racist garbage before crowds as Kluckers come out of the White House. Cops beating up Black people. But there are also images of resistance: People with signs saying “Stop racism, islamophobia, and war,” “No border wall,” and “Against racist hate.” Clips from the Civil Rights Movement and the the women’s suffrage battle. At the end, the stakes of the situation are underscored with a nuclear mushroom cloud.

This isn’t the first time Green Day has called out Trump. Shortly after the election, during their MTV and American Music Awards performances of the song “Bang Bang,” they added the chant: "No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA." Armstrong said, "It was a good start to challenge [Trump] on all of his ignorant policies and his racism."

The lyrics to "Troubled Times" are searing:

What good is love and peace on earth?
When it's exclusive?
Where's the truth in the written word?
If no one reads it
A new day dawning
Comes without warning
So don't blink twice

We live in troubled times
We live in troubled times

What part of history we learned
When it's repeated
Some things will never overcome
If we don't seek it

The world stops turning
Paradise burning
So don't think twice

We live in troubled times
We live in troubled times

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

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

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

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

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

See T.I.’s tweets and videos here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

13th is available to stream on Netflix.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Peter Vernon’s article is available online here.

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

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

The theologians’ letter says in part:

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

The letter and signatories are available online here.

Powerful Video Produced by Katy Perry: #DontNormalizeHate

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

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

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

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

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

The podcast is available here

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

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

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

The letter from the authors and illustrators reads in part:

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

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

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

Charlotte Church, Singer, Refuses Invitation from Tyrant Trump

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

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

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

Her message was followed by four poop emoji.

This is the link to her tweet.

Australian Tennis Star: T-Shirt Statement on Trump

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

Nick Kyrgios wearing anti-Trump T-shirt

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

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

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

To read the whole letter go here

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watch Meryl Streep’s acceptance speech here

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the whole interview here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DONALD TRUMP IS MENTALLY UNSTABLE -

LESS THAN 3 WEEKS TO STOP HIM AMERICA

 

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

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

She also tweeted:

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

Then on January 3, @ROSIE retweeted:

#NoFascistUSA ‏@RefuseFascism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I have highly valued the mission of the Choir to be good-will ambassadors for Christ, to share beautiful music and to give hope, inspiration, and comfort to others.

I’ve tried to tell myself that it will be alright and that I can continue in good conscience before God and man.

But it’s no use. I simply cannot continue with the recent turn of events. I could never look myself in the mirror again with self respect...

I also know, looking from the outside in, it will appear that Choir is endorsing tyranny and fascism by singing for this man...

Tyranny is now on our doorstep; it has been sneaking its way into our lives through stealth. Now it will burst into our homes through storm. I hope that we and many others will work together with greater diligence and awareness to calmly and bravely work together to defend our freedoms and our rights for our families, our friends, and our fellow citizens. I hope we can throw off the labels and really listen to each other with respect, love, compassion, and a true desire to bring our energies and souls together in solving the difficult problems that lie in our wake...

History is repeating itself; the same tactics are being used by Hitler (identify a problem, finding a scapegoat target to blame, and stirring up people with a combination of fanaticism, false promises, and fear, and gathering the funding). I plead with everyone to go back and read the books we all know on these topics and review the films produced to help us learn from these gargantuan crimes so that we will not allow them to be repeated. Evil people prosper when good people stand by and do nothing.

We must continue our love and support for the refugees and the oppressed by fighting against these great evils.

For me, this is a HUGELY moral issue....

I only know I could never “throw roses to Hitler.” And I certainly could never sing for him.

To read the whole letter go here.

Rockette Speaks Out Against Trump: "A moral issue, a women's issue"

The Radio City Rockettes, whose trademark routine is a line of dancers doing eye-high leg kicks in perfect unison, are scheduled to perform at Trump’s inauguration. Right away there were signs that some of the dancers are very disturbed about this. In a shameful move, the union representing the Rockettes, the American Guild of Variety Artists, sent an email to the dancers saying they were “obliged” to perform at the inauguration. Later the company that owns the Radio City Rockettes, the Madison Square Garden Company, told Rolling Stone magazine that individual dancers “are never told they have to perform at a particular event, including the inaugural. It is always their choice.” But one can imagine the pressure being put on these women to perform and what it could mean for their careers if they refuse.

Recently, MarieClaire.com wrote a piece about this controversy, including quotes from an exclusive interview they did with “Mary,” one of the Rockettes. The following are some excerpts from this article:

The dancer next to Mary was crying. Tears streamed down her face through all 90 minutes of their world-famous Christmas Spectacular as they kicked and pirouetted and hit mark after mark on the glittering Radio City Music Hall stage. This was Thursday, three days before Christmas, the day the Rockettes discovered they’d been booked to perform at the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump.

“She felt she was being forced to perform for this monster,” Mary told MarieClaire.com in an exclusive interview. “I wouldn’t feel comfortable standing near a man like that in our costumes,” said another dancer in an email to her colleagues.

For Mary? “If I had to lose my job over this, I would. It’s too important. And I think the rest of the performing arts community would happily stand behind me.” ...

“There is a divide in the company now, which saddens me most,” Mary says. “The majority of us said no immediately. Then there’s the percentage that said yes, for whatever reason—whether it’s because they’re young and uninformed, or because they want the money, or because they think it’s an opportunity to move up in the company when other people turn it down.” ...

Mary says that to her knowledge, no women of color have signed up to perform that day. “It’s almost worse to have 18 pretty white girls behind this man who supports so many hate groups.” ...

“This is not a Republican or Democrat issue—this is a women’s rights issue,” she continues. “This is an issue of racism and sexism, something that’s much bigger than politics. We walk into work and everyone has different political views. The majority of the stage crew are Trump supporters; there’s a ‘Make America Great Again’ bumper sticker on the crew doors at the side of the stage.”

But the majority of the staff skews liberal, she says, especially considering the many LGBT employees at Radio City. “It’s the ensemble. It’s the people in our wardrobe and hair department, some of whom are transgender,” she says. “These are our friends and our family, who we’ve worked with for years. It’s a basic human-rights issue. We have immigrants in the show. I feel like dancing for Trump would be disrespecting the men and women who work with us, the people we care about.”

On December 29, former Rockette Autumn Withers said in an interview on cable news channel MSNBC that the group has performed at previous inaugurations but Trump is different:

[W]e’ve never had an incoming president who has publically and repeatedly demeaned women and said derogatory things about women. And I think that’s what makes this is a really unique situation and elevates it above a situation of just doing your job as a Rockette as you would for any other event and elevates it to a moral issue, a woman’s rights issue. What does this say, the optics of having the Rockettes perform at Trump’s inauguration? How does that normalize these comments and remarks that Trump has made to women at large and is that OK?

He has talked about grabbing women’s genitals, he has called them names from dogs, pigs, slobs, crooked, nasty. And to have a beautiful line of women dancing behind him I think on a larger level kind of normalizes his derogatory comments. I have Republican female family members and even when you bring up his comments they’re very uncomfortable and they still agree that this is a women’s rights issue....

The whole MarieClair.com article is available here.

To listen to the MSNBC interview with Autumn Withers, go here.

1,500 Past and Current Fulbright Scholarship Recipients: "The consequence [of Trump becoming president] could be dire for both international cooperation and peace"

The Fulbright Program, funded by the U.S. government and private sources, gives prestigious scholarships to about 8,000 recipients yearly—for students, academics, artists and others in the U.S. to study and do research abroad and for recipients in other countries to do the same in the U.S. After the presidential election, three past and current Fulbright grant recipients wrote an open letter expressing alarm at Trump’s victory. The letter has gathered signatures from over 1,500 other past and current Fulbright scholarship recipients from 95 countries.

Their letter says in part: “We have, for the last eighteen months, watched the electoral process unfold in the United States as the president-elect openly engaged in demagoguery against a number of vulnerable populations, courted hate groups, threatened the press, and promised vindictive actions against his opponents. This is not populism; it is recklessness. The consequence could be dire for both international cooperation and peace. We are now worried by the prospect of his inauguration into one of the world’s most powerful offices with the power to carry out his stated intentions. While we respect the American electoral system, we write to express our deepest concerns.”

The letter and list of signatories are available online here.

Franz Wasserman, Survivor of Nazi Germany: “We have to counter this trend toward fascism in every way we can.”

Franz Wasserman, 96 years old, was a youth in Germany during the 1930s and saw the rise of the Nazis first-hand. He’s never considered himself an activist. But with the election of Trump, he felt he had to act. He wrote a letter to U.S. senators warning of the parallels between Trump and Hitler—and shared it with others. Jerry Lange, a columnist for the Seattle Times, received a copy, and he wrote a piece on Wasserman that appeared on December 26.

Wasserman begins the letter: “I was born in Munich, Germany, in 1920. I lived there during the rise of the Nazi Party and left for the U.S.A. in 1938. The elements of the Nazi regime were the suppression of dissent, the purging of the dissenters and undesirables, the persecution of communists, Jews and homosexuals and the ideal of the Arians as the master race. These policies started immediately after Hitler came to power, at first out of sight but escalated gradually leading to the Second World War and the holocaust. Meanwhile most Germans were lulled into complacency by all sorts of wonderful projects and benefits.”

Today, Wasserman writes, “The neo-Nazis and the KKK have become more prominent and get recognition in the press. We are all familiar with Trump’s remarks against all Muslims and all Mexicans. But there has not been anything as alarming as the appointment of Steve Bannon as Trump’s Chief Strategist. Bannon has, apparently, made anti-Semitic remarks for years, has recently condemned Muslims and Jews and he and Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the pick as National Security Adviser, advocate the political and cultural superiority of the white race. At the same time Trump is trying to control the press... We can hope that our government of checks and balances will be more resistant than the Weimar Republic was. Don’t count on it.”

The Seattle Times article with quotes from Franz Wasserman and his story is available here.

Feminist Scholars: "We cannot and will not comply. Our number one priority is to resist."

The following “Statement by Feminist Scholars on the Election of Donald Trump as President” is posted at a number of sites on the Internet and so far has more than 900 signatories:

“On Tuesday, November 8, 2016, a sizeable minority of the U.S. electorate chose to send billionaire Donald Trump, an avowed sexist and an unrepentant racist, who has spent nearly forty years antagonizing vulnerable people, to the White House. Spewing hatred at women, people of color, immigrants, Muslims, and those with disabilities is Trump’s most consistent, and well-documented form of public engagement. Trump bragged about sexually assaulting women because, as he quipped, his celebrity made it easy for him to do so. We can only assume that the hostile climate and anxiety about what is to come were contributing factors. The political shift we are witnessing, including the appointment of open bigots to the president-elect’s cabinet, reaffirms the structural disposability and systemic disregard for every person who is not white, male, straight, cisgender, able-bodied, and middle or upper class.

“As a community of feminist scholars, activists and artists, we affirm that the time to act is now.  We cannot endure four years of a Trump presidency without a plan. We must protect reproductive justice, fight for Black lives, defend the rights of LGBTQIA people, disrupt the displacement of indigenous people and the stealing of their resources, advocate and provide safe havens for the undocumented, stridently reject Islamophobia, and oppose the acceleration of neoliberal policies that divert resources to the top 1% and abandon those at the bottom of the economic hierarchy. We must also denounce militarization at home and abroad, and climate change denial that threatens to destroy the entire planet.

“We must also reject calls to compromise, to understand, or to collaborate. We cannot and will not comply. Our number one priority is to resist. We must resist the instantiation of autocracy. We must resist this perversion of democracy. We must refuse spin and challenge any narratives that seek to call this moment “democracy at work.” This is not democracy; this is the rise of a 21st century U.S. version of fascism. We must name it, so we can both confront and defeat it. The most vulnerable, both here and abroad, cannot afford for us to equivocate or remain silent. The threats posed by settler colonialism and empire around the globe have never been more real, nor has our resolve to oppose these injustices ever been stronger. Concretely, within the U.S., we oppose the building of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, and the establishment of a registry for Muslim residents.

“We owe this moment and the communities we fight for our very best thinking, teaching, and organizing. We must find creative solutions to address the immediate needs of those who will be acutely affected within the first 100 days of Trump’s presidency. We must push ourselves into new, and more precise and radical analytical frameworks that can help us to articulate the stakes of this moment.

“The most important thing we can do in this moment is to make an unqualified commitment to those on the margins through our actions, insist that the media be allowed to do its job; and protect the right to protest and dissent. We recognize clearly that our silence will not protect us. Silence, in the aftermath of 11/8 is not merely a lack of words; it is a profound inertia of liberatory thought and praxis. So - what are we waiting for? We are who we are waiting for. We pledge to stand and fight, with fierce resolve, for the values and principles we believe in and the people we love.”

The statement and list of signatories is available here.

 

Center for Constitutional Rights: “We must resist and prevent at all costs a slide into American fascism”

Shortly after Trump’s election, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) in New York City issued this statement:

"We send love and solidarity to all those who are hurting and afraid that Donald Trump’s America excludes them. We share the despair of the millions who are in shock that a candidate supported by the KKK has won the presidency of the United States.

"If there is a silver lining in this election result it is that it is impossible now to deny the racism, sexism, and xenophobia that have been part of America for centuries. Our duty is to stand together with all those who dissent from this bigotry and to defend and protect vulnerable communities. That has been CCR’s mission for 50 years, and we will work harder than ever to defend civil and human rights and the U.S. Constitution.

"The dangers of a Trump presidency go beyond the attacks on people of color, women, Muslims, immigrants, refugees, LGBTQI people, and people with disabilities. His campaign was marked by the strategies and tactics of authoritarian regimes: endorsing and encouraging violence against political protesters, threatening to jail his opponent, refusing to say he would accept the results of the election if he lost, punishing critical press. Together with all those who value freedom, justice, and self-determination, we must resist and prevent at all costs a slide into American fascism.

"Resistance is our civic duty."

Lauren Duca, Teen Vogue Editor: Trump's "Gaslighting" and the Fight for the Truth

Lauren Duca is an editor for Teen Vogue magazine and has been a contributing reporter/writer for several other magazines including Huffington Post, Vice, New York, and The New Yorker. In a December 10, article published in Teen Vogue titled “Donald Trump Is Gaslighting America,” she writes:

“Trump won the Presidency by gas light. His rise to power has awakened a force of bigotry by condoning and encouraging hatred, but also by normalizing deception. Civil rights are now on trial, though before we can fight to reassert the march toward equality, we must regain control of the truth. If that seems melodramatic, I would encourage you to dump a bucket of ice over your head while listening to ‘Duel of the Fates.’ Donald Trump is our President now; it’s time to wake up.

“‘Gas lighting’ is a buzzy name for a terrifying strategy currently being used to weaken and blind the American electorate. We are collectively being treated like Bella Manningham in the 1938 Victorian thriller from which the term ‘gas light’ takes its name. In the play, Jack terrorizes his wife Bella into questioning her reality by blaming her for mischievously misplacing household items which he systematically hides. Doubting whether her perspective can be trusted, Bella clings to a single shred of evidence: the dimming of the gas lights that accompanies the late night execution of Jack’s trickery. The wavering flame is the one thing that holds her conviction in place as she wriggles free of her captor’s control.

“To gas light is to psychologically manipulate a person to the point where they question their own sanity, and that’s precisely what Trump is doing to this country.... At the hands of Trump, facts have become interchangeable with opinions, blinding us into arguing amongst ourselves, as our very reality is called into question.... The good news about this boiling frog scenario is that we’re not boiling yet. Trump is not going to stop playing with the burner until America realizes that the temperature is too high. It’s on every single one of us to stop pretending it’s always been so hot in here...

“The road ahead is a treacherous one. There are unprecedented amounts of ugliness to untangle, from deciding whether our President can be an admitted sexual predator to figuring out how to stop him from threatening the sovereignty of an entire religion. It’s incredible that any of those things could seem like a distraction from a greater peril, or be only the cherry-picked issues in a seemingly unending list of gaffes, but the gaslights are flickering. When defending each of the identities in danger of being further marginalized, we must remember the thing that binds this pig-headed hydra together. As we spin our newfound rage into action, it is imperative to remember, across identities and across the aisle, as a country and as individuals, we have nothing without the truth.”

To read the whole article go here.

Journalist Summer Brennan: "I promise to be a siren going off..."

On December 19, Summer Brennan, an award-winning investigative journalist, author, and visiting scholar at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University, tweeted:

“Trump is a fascist. I promise to be a siren going off about this national disaster until it is averted or stopped. #resist”

Constitutional Law Scholars to Trump: "We feel a responsibility to challenge you in the court of public opinion"

In an open letter to Trump dated December 13, constitutional legal scholars associated with law schools across the U.S. wrote, “Some of your statements and actions during the campaign and since the election cause us great concern about your commitment to our constitutional system.”

The open letter gets into some of these issues: First Amendment protection of the rights of free speech and free press; “poisonous anti-Muslim rhetoric”; violation of government checks and balances; threats to overturn the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion; appointment of Alabama Senator Sessions, with a “troubling history on voting rights and civil rights,” as Attorney General; “baseless charges concerning voter fraud”; and “inflammatory rhetoric” that has been “taken as invitation to discriminate and to act out in all kinds of hate-filled ways.”

In the point on anti-Muslim attacks, the open letter notes: “To make matters worse, your proposed national security advisor, Michael Flynn, has described what he calls ‘Islamism’ as a ‘vicious cancer inside the body of 1.7 billion people’ that ‘has to be excised.’ Such rhetoric is shocking in its  ignorance and bigotry; it must not become normalized. We continue to hear talk of a ‘Muslim registry’ being created by your administration—or a nationality-based registry that would be a proxy for religious discrimination. To our national shame, the federal government during World War II carried out—and the Supreme Court’s discredited Korematsu decision upheld—the mass internment of Japanese Americans based upon no individualized suspicion of wrongdoing; the federal government under President Ronald Reagan subsequently apologized and paid reparations. We urge you to reconsider your naming of Flynn and to renounce a Muslim registry or anything like it.”

The open letter concludes: “Although we sincerely hope that you will take your constitutional oath seriously, so far you have offered little indication that you will. We feel a responsibility to challenge you in the court of public opinion, and we hope that those directly aggrieved by your administration will challenge you in the courts of law. We call upon legal conservatives who cherish constitutional values to join us in speaking law to power. And we call upon citizens, lawyers, educators, public officials, and religious leaders to use every legal means available to protect the most vulnerable members of our society and our constitutional guarantees. At no point that any of us can remember has this need been more imperative than it is now.”

See a pdf of the open letter and list of signatories here.

America Ferrera: Future under Trump is "terrifying" but "we can't give up the fight"

America Ferrera is an actress who has won many awards, including an Emmy, a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Guild Award. In a December 14 interview, she was asked, “How are you feeling about the future of our environment during the Trump administration?”  She said:

“When you have a president-elect who says he doesn’t even know if climate change is real, for the next four to eight years, the future looks pretty horrible. We know that climate change is real, and yet he’s still questioning it. So, that’s pretty terrifying. We haven’t had any time to waste for a long time now, and it’s a pretty devastating thing to start moving backward. So yes, I think that it’s really daunting. But we have to be committed to staying alert and staying awake and staying educated and using our voices to push back. It doesn’t mean it’s gonna be easy, or there’s ever going to be a defining last fight where we win and we never have to go back and defend the idea that climate change is the real thing we need to pay attention to. But we can’t give up the fight.”

Celebrities Refuse to Perform at Trump Inauguration

During his presidential campaign, many musicians, actors, and other celebrities spoke out against Donald Trump. And now he and his team are having a hard time getting musicians to perform at his inauguration. A number of celebrities have been asked and refused, and some have made it clear that if they are asked, they will refuse.

Read more here

Open Letter Protesting American Library Association Press Release: "I am absolutely not ready to work with President-elect Trump"

On November 20, Sarah Houghton wrote an Open Letter to Julie Todaro, President of the American Library Association, protesting a press release from the ALA in which Todaro stated, “We are ready to work with President-elect Trump, his transition team, incoming administration and members of Congress to bring more economic opportunity to all Americans and advance other goals we have in common.”

Houghton has been an active member of the ALA for 16 years and says, “I have never before this week considered canceling my membership.” Houghton says in her letter: “I am absolutely not ready to work with President-elect Trump. He has stood for racism, prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination for his entire life—including during his campaign. Those are all things ALA stands firmly against. Explain to me why we’re ready to work with a bigot? Because I’m not ready for that at all. The rest of this release went on to detail some of the things libraries do for communities—coming off as a weak and pandering missive begging for scraps and, in truth, coming from a place of fear.”

Houghton points to another ALA press release that highlights “how libraries can advance specific policy priorities of the incoming Trump administration in the areas of entrepreneurship, services to veterans and broadband adoption and use” and says:

“This trajectory away from justice and toward collaboration with a fascist regime disturbs me greatly. These comments are tone deaf and, not only do not represent my values as a librarian, but do not represent the shared values of the American Library Association and its membership. There is a time to walk a middle road, to give voice to a moderate viewpoint of an organization’s membership. This is not that time. This is the time to stand tall and proud, and give voice to the fiery ethics and values that our profession has held dear for so long in the face of fascism and bigotry.

“I have no intention of supporting this incoming administration in any way whatsoever. With the transition team and other appointments being floated in the press, President-elect Trump has made it clear that racism, sexism, bigotry, assault, discrimination of all kinds, and the destruction of basic civil liberties are foundational to his administration’s philosophy. I refuse to be complicit in the work of the Trump administration and cannot in good faith remain part of a professional organization that chooses to be complicit.”

Read the whole letter here.

Celebrity Chefs vs. Trump

Anthony Bourdain, currently host of CNN’s travel and food show Parts Unknown, was asked in a recent interview about sushi chef Alessandro Borgognone’s decision to move his restaurant to Trump’s Washington, DC, hotel. Bourdain said he would “never eat in his restaurant” and felt “utter and complete contempt” for the chef. He explained, “I’m not asking you to start putting up barricades now, but when they come and ask you, ‘Are you with us?’ you do have an option. You can say, ‘No thanks, guys. I don’t look good in a brown shirt. Makes me look a little, I don’t know, not great. It’s not slimming.’” In a tweet on December 22, Bourdain said, “I am not ‘boycotting’ anything. I choose to not patronize chefs who tacitly support deporting half the people they’ve ever worked with”—clear reference to Trump’s threat to deport millions of Mexican immigrants.

José Andrés operates more than a dozen restaurants in cities including Washington, DC; Miami; Las Vegas; and Los Angeles. In 2015, after Trump made disgusting racist comments about Mexican immigrants, Andrés withdrew the commitment he’d made to open a restaurant in Trump’s new DC hotel. Trump sued him for breach of contract, seeking $10 million in damages. Andrés countersued, and said, “More than half of my team is Hispanic, as are many of our guests. And, as a proud Spanish immigrant and recently naturalized American citizen myself, I believe that every human being deserves respect, regardless of immigration status.” Andrés tweeted on December 19: “I am a proud immigrant!! To my fellow immigrants thank you for the amazing work you do every day. #ToImmigrantsWithLove” Trump is required to appear to be deposed in Andrés’s suit, just weeks before his scheduled inauguration.

Fiona Apple's Christmas Song: "Trump's nuts roasting on an open fire..."

At the December 18 “We Rock with Standing Rock” benefit concert in Los Angeles, singer Fiona Apple did a fiery performance of her version of the Christmas standard “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire” that begins: “Trump’s nuts roasting on an open fire...” She ends with “Donald Trump... Fuck You!” to the loud cheers of the audience. Watch it here:

George Polisner, Executive of Tech Company Oracle: "I am here to oppose [Trump] in every possible and legal way"

George Polisner, a top executive at the tech corporation Oracle, publicly resigned from the company on December 19 after Oracle co-CEO Safra Catz announced she was going to join Trump’s presidential transition team. Catz was among the executives from major tech companies, including Amazon, Google, and Apple, who met with Trump last week—a shameful meeting that helped to lend legitimacy to the Trump-Pence fascist cabal. When Polisner learned of this, he sent his letter to Catz and at the same time posted it on the LinkedIn website.

His resignation letter says in part, “Trump stokes fear, hatred and violence toward people of color, Muslims and immigrants. It is well-known that hate crimes are surging as he has provided license for this ignorance-based expression of malice.... He seeks to eviscerate environmental protections, the public education system, LGBTQ rights and women’s rights.”

And Polisner says in the letter: “I am not with President-elect Trump and I am not here to help him in any way. In fact—when his policies border on the unconstitutional, the criminal and the morally unjust—I am here to oppose him in every possible and legal way.” (emphasis in the original)

Polisner told the UK Guardian that he decided to make his resignation letter public because he “decided it was too important to die as a private letter” and that “I thought I could either be a role model in terms of a path forward or a cautionary tale.”

Read George Polisner’s resignation letter here.

Actor Michael Sheen: "In the same way as the Nazis had to be stopped in Germany in the Thirties, this thing that is on the rise has to be stopped"

Michael Sheen is a Welsh stage and screen actor whose work includes starring roles in the 2008 film Frost/Nixon and the current Showtime series Masters of Sex. On December 17, the Sunday Times of London ran a profile on him, titled “Michael Sheen gets political. This time it’s for real.” The writer of the profile had expected Sheen to discuss his role in the upcoming sci-fi film Passengers. “Instead, Sheen, 47, wants to talk about politics. Lately, it’s been bothering him a lot. No, that’s not nearly strong enough. What he calls the ‘demagogic, fascistic’ drift of politics in the western world in the past few years, culminating in Donald Trump’s election victory, has left Sheen horrified, furious and determined to do everything he can to counter it. It’s why, after several years of increasing commitments to a broad spread of causes, including the NHS, Unicef, the Freedom of Information Act, fighting homelessness and campaigning against fracking, the actor is preparing to go all in. He plans to start fighting the rise of the ‘hard populist right’—evident in France, Austria, Poland, Hungary, the Netherlands, Britain and the United States—via grassroots organizing in his beloved Port Talbot (he pronounces it “P’Talbot”) and see where it takes him.” (Port Talbot is Sheen’s hometown in Wales.)

Later, the profile quotes Sheen saying, “In the same way as the Nazis had to be stopped in Germany in the Thirties, this thing that is on the rise has to be stopped. But it has to be understood before it can be stopped.”

The whole profile is available at the Times website here (the site requires registration for free access).

100+ Professors at Notre Dame Say: We are coming forward to stand with the professors you have called "dangerous"

A website called “Professor Watchlist,” run by a group called Turning Point USA, has posted the names of more than 200 professors they accuse of putting forward “leftist propaganda” and “discriminating” against right-wing students. This campus witch-hunt is a sign of the time of Trump.

Among the names appearing on the Watchlist are two Notre Dame academics: philosophy professor Gary Gutting and Iris Outlaw, director of Multicultural Student Programs and Services. The Watchlist said Gutting was added because he wrote that the country’s “permissive gun laws are a manifestation of racism,” and Outlaw because she “taught a ‘white privilege’ seminar that pledged to help students acknowledge and understand their white privilege.”

In response, more than 100 Notre Dame faculty members published an open letter in the Observer, the student newspaper at Notre Dame, defying the Professor Watchlist. Their statement said in part: “We surmise that the purpose of your list is to shame and silence faculty who espouse ideas you reject. But your list has had a different effect upon us. We are coming forward to stand with the professors you have called ‘dangerous,’ reaffirming our values and recommitting ourselves to the work of teaching students to think clearly, independently, and fearlessly.

“So please add our names, the undersigned faculty at the University of Notre Dame, to the Professor Watchlist. We wish to be counted among those you are watching.”

The full letter and list of the names are available at the Observer site.

Return to top

In his December 5 piece titled "Trump's Agents of Idiocracy," in the New York Times, columnist Charles Blow wrote:

"What if Trump has shown himself beyond doubt and with absolute certainty to be a demagogue and bigot and xenophobe and has given space and voice to concordant voices in the country and in his emerging Legion of Doom cabinet? In that reality, resistance isn't about mindless obstruction by people blinded by the pain of ideological defeat or people gorging on sour grapes. To the contrary, resistance then is an act of radical, even revolutionary, patriotism. Resistance isn't about damaging the country, but protecting it..."

Read the whole column here

Return to top

MIT Faculty: "The President-elect has appointed individuals to positions of power who have endorsed racism, misogyny and religious bigotry, and denied the widespread scientific consensus on climate change."

More than 500 members of the faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have issued a statement opposing Trump’s official appointments and “upholding the value of science and diversity.” The signers include people from every academic department at MIT, nine department and program heads, and four Nobel Prize recipients. Notable signatories to date include Susan Solomon, Co-Chair of the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; Tim Berners-Lee, World Wide Web inventor; Noam Chomsky, Institute Professor Emeritus; Joichi Ito, Director of the MIT Media Lab; and Junot Díaz, Pulitzer Prize winning author.

This is an important development, and this kind of stand needs to spread to other campuses and through the academic community, even as people get more clarity on the actual fascist nature of Trump and the incoming regime. Read the MIT faculty statement here.

Return to top

Shaun King: "No, we should not wait and see what a Trump administration does. We should organize our resistance right now."

New York Daily News columnist Shaun King's writes: "Now, in the name of a peaceful transition, both President Obama and Hillary Clinton are striking a conciliatory tone. I understand that such a tone is a tradition in American politics, but everything about Donald Trump and this election breaks with tradition. President Obama may feel obligated to strike such a tone, but I don't have such an obligation. Perhaps President Obama feels that by striking such a tone, it makes it more likely that Donald Trump will be moderate after his inauguration. I don't believe that for one second."

His column concludes: "We can't wait until he does those things before we act against him. We must outsmart and out-organize his team. I implore you to ignore anybody saying anything other than that. They've been wrong all year. We must act and we must act now."

Read Shaun King's piece here.

Return to top

Singer John Legend

"Trump is saying Hitler-level things in public... And I feel like it's dangerous for us to be complacent"

Read John Legend's comments here.

Return to top

Green Day at American Music Awards, November 20: NO TRUMP! NO KKK! NO FASCIST USA!

During the live TV broadcast of the American Music Awards on Sunday night, November 20, the punk rock band Green Day let loose with a defiant condemnation of Donald Trump. In the middle of performing “Bang Bang,” from their latest album Revolution Radio, the band, led by singer Billie Joe Armstrong, broke into the chant: 

“No Trump! No KKK! No fascist USA!” 

ABC TV executives were reportedly thrown “completely off guard.” The audience gave Green Day a standing ovation. 

This is the kind of bold, truth-telling denunciation of Trump—calling out what he actually represents—that we need much more of, right now! 

Watch a video clip here.

Return to top

“Farewell, America” by author Neal Gabler, November 10

Whatever place we now live in is not the same place it was on Nov. 7. No matter how the rest of the world looked at us on Nov. 7, they will now look at us differently ...

With Trump's election, I think that the ideal of an objective, truthful journalism is dead, never to be revived. Like Nixon and Sarah Palin before him, Trump ran against the media, boomeranging off the public's contempt for the press. He ran against what he regarded as media elitism and bias, and he ran on the idea that the press disdained working-class white America. Among the many now-widening divides in the country, this is a big one, the divide between the media and working-class whites, because it creates a Wild West of information – a media ecology in which nothing can be believed except what you already believe.

With the mainstream media so delegitimized — a delegitimization for which they bear a good deal of blame, not having had the courage to take on lies and expose false equivalencies — they have very little role to play going forward in our politics. I suspect most of them will surrender to Trumpism — if they were able to normalize Trump as a candidate, they will no doubt normalize him as president. Cable news may even welcome him as a continuous entertainment and ratings booster. And in any case, like Reagan, he is bulletproof. The media cannot touch him, even if they wanted to. Presumably, there will be some courageous guerillas in the mainstream press, a kind of Resistance, who will try to fact-check him. But there will be few of them, and they will be whistling in the wind. Trump, like all dictators, is his own truth.

Read more here.

Return to top

Architect Resigns from Association for Pledging to “Play Nice” with Trump

Two days after Trump’s election, Robert Ivy, the CEO and executive vice president of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), sent a memorandum to the organization's members saying, “The AIA and its 89,000 members are committed to working with President-elect Trump to address the issues our country faces, particularly strengthening the nation’s aging infrastructure. … It is now time for all of us to work together to advance policies that help our country move forward.”

When Frederick “Fritz” Read, the founder and head of Read & Company Architects in Baltimore, saw this, he acted immediately. He sent a letter condemning Ivy’s statement and declaring his resignation from the AIA. He wrote: “The alacrity with which Robert Ivy hopped out there to promise the President-Elect that the AIA will play nice with his administration, without even a pro forma caution that what Mr. Trump has promised and threatened are deeply antithetical to the values that many of us cherish, is the final straw for me, the last bit of evidence I needed, that our only serious interest as an organization has become a craven interest in securing our piece of the action. The AIA does not represent my personal or professional interests. Please consider this my resignation from the AIA, effective immediately, and remove both my name and that of my firm from your membership records. I am appalled.”

In a subsequent email to an official of the Baltimore AIA chapter who talked about how AIA relations with the U.S. government have always been and should continue to be “neutral,” Read wrote: “Am so curious how a pledge made explicitly on behalf of all 89,000 members of open-ended and unqualified support for a climate-change-denying, xenophobic, racist, sexist, repeated bankrupt can possibly be understood as a statement of organizational neutrality. … Ours is not an honorable history of willingness to forgo enrichment simply on principle, and this statement slips all too closely to the worst of that: are we all too young or forgetful to recall that Albert Speer was one of ours?” Speer was Hitler’s chief architect who headed major projects under the Nazi regime and became Minister of Armaments and War Production during World War 2.

Under mounting criticism from architects, architecture faculty, and other architecture professionals, Ivy and other leading AIA officials were forced to apologize to the membership for their craven remarks about working with the Trump administration.

Read more about this here at Architect News online

Return to top

Center for Biological Diversity: “Lash Out at the Darkness and Fight Like Hell”

In the November 10 issue of their online newsletter “Endangered Earth,” the Center for Biological Diversity included a statement saying, “We're only thinking about one thing right now: stopping Donald Trump from destroying the planet.” The statement goes on to say, “If President Trump carries out the disastrous promises he made while campaigning, the Environmental Protection Agency will be gutted, the Endangered Species Act will be repealed, old-growth forests will be clearcut, hard-fought global climate change agreements will be undermined, and polluters will be given free rein over our water and air.”

And the center vowed, “There's no way in hell we're letting that happen.” Read the entire statement here.

Read the Center's piece here.

Return to top

Jewish historians speak out on the election of Donald Trump

Hostility to immigrants and refugees strikes particularly close to home for us as historians of the Jews. As an immigrant people, Jews have experienced the pain of discrimination and exclusion, including by this country in the dire years of the 1930s. Our reading of the past impels us to resist any attempts to place a vulnerable group in the crosshairs of nativist racism. It is our duty to come to their aid and to resist the degradation of rights that Mr. Trump's rhetoric has provoked.

However, it is not only in defense of others that we feel called to speak out. We witnessed repeated anti-Semitic expressions and insinuations during the Trump campaign. Much of this anti-Semitism was directed against journalists, either Jewish or with Jewish-sounding names. The candidate himself refused to denounce—and even retweeted--language and images that struck us as manifestly anti-Semitic. By not doing so, his campaign gave license to haters of Jews, who truck in conspiracy theories about world Jewish domination.

Read entire statement here

Return to top

Issa Rae, Actor: "The scariest part is how normal it's becoming to some people"

Issa Rae is star of the HBO series Insecure. Sunday night, January 9, on the red carpet at the Golden Globes awards in Los Angeles., she was asked what she thought of Trump. Rae said:

Every single time I see a tweet from that man, every single time I see the administration that he’s bringing in, it just gets worse and worse. And the scariest part to me is how normal it’s becoming to some people. And I think we just have to keep calling things out, it’s like nope, you’re lying, nope, that’s not true, nope, that doesn’t work that way. As long as we don’t continue to let him slide, then there might be some hope, but it’s scary.

Actor Debra Messing: "This is a regime that will strip away the rights of millions..."

Debra Messing, best known for her starring role in the TV comedy series Will & Grace, tweeted on December 18:

This is a regime that will strip away the rights of millions. Threaten the lives of millions. And threatens the planet. #NOFASCISTUSA

Messing is one of the signatories of the Call to Action of RefuseFascism.org. On Wednesday, January 4, when the Call appeared as a full page in the New York Times, she tweeted a photo of that Times page with the #NoFascistUSA hashtag and link to refusefascism.org.

Literary Magazine Editor Philip Elliot: "Fascism is rising. Not just in the U.S. but across Europe too"

Philip Elliot is the editor-in-chief of Into The Void, a print and digital literary magazine based in Dublin, Ireland, “dedicated to providing fantastic fiction, nonfiction, poetry and visual art from all over the world.” In a recent roundtable with several editors, the online journal The Review Review asked the question “How Will a Trump Presidency Impact Literary Magazines?” Elliot answered:

Fascism is rising. Not just in the U.S. but across Europe too. In the West we’re experiencing similar circumstances that led to its rise a century ago and now the wheel has turned again. People say to me, especially because I live in Ireland, that I’m overreacting to this; that’s it’s just more politics, everything will blow over, etc. They fail to see the bigger picture. What’s been put into motion here, catalyzed by the election but arisen from a far more complex sense of discontent and fear, is the greatest threat to our newly-progressive societies that we’ve ever seen. More than anything else, my fear is that we as artists and curators of art will allow our way of thinking to become the “It’s just politics, it will all blow over soon” attitude. I fear that because nothing terrible is going to happen right away, we will normalize this whole affair and accept it. What people forget is that Hitler began his slow climb to absolute power in 1918. Bad things are coming, that’s for certain, but they will come slowly, and they will come under the guise of good. As writers, we peer under the masks of things for a living and that skill is more important now than ever. Art’s duty to criticize the bad and protect the good is infinitely more important in times of darkness. It reminds us what we can be. And it must also remind us of the terrible evil we once did. Because if we truly remembered, how could we have let this happen again? At Into the Void, we’ll be paying close attention to work that criticizes the actions of our supposed leaders in the months and years to come.

Elliot’s comments and others can be found here.

Petition Against Museum Loan of Art for Inauguration: "We object...to an implicit endorsement of the Trump presidency"

When the St. Louis Art Museum announced that they were making an artwork from their collection available on loan to serve as a centerpiece of the Trump inauguration luncheon, art historian Ivy Cooper and artist Ilene Berman began an online petition calling for the cancellation of the loan. According to the petition, the 1855 painting, “Verdict of the People” by George Caleb Bingham, “depicts a small-town Missouri election, and symbolizes the democratic process in mid-19th century America.” The petition goes on to say:

We object to the painting’s use as an inaugural backdrop and an implicit endorsement of the Trump presidency and his expressed values of hatred, misogyny, racism and xenophobia. We reject the use of the painting to suggest that Trump’s election was truly the “verdict of the people,” when in fact the majority of votes—by a margin of over three million—were cast for Trump’s opponent. Finally, we consider the painting a representation of our community, and oppose its use as such at the inauguration.

Art can be used to make powerful statements. Its withdrawal can do the same. Join us in our campaign.

As of January 6, close to 2,700 people have signed the petition, which is available here.

Gothamist.com on Refuse Fascism NY Times Ad: "It's a Noble Cause..."

In a January article at Gothamist.com, an article by Rebecca Fishbein titled “Celebrities, Activists Publish Anti-Fascist, Anti-Trump Ad In NY Times“ said, in part:

Rosie O’Donnell, Debra Messing, and a handful of celebrities and activists have joined forces with RefuseFascism.org, a Cornel West and Carl Dix-helmed group dedicated to opposing the incoming Trump Administration and calling Trump’s presidency “illegitimate.”

The group took out a full page ad in the Times yesterday calling for a month long resistance effort against Trump: [facsimile of the ad is included]

Refuse Fascism is also asking for donations to help reprint the Times ad in papers across the country, as well as “to support volunteers going to D.C., to produce millions of copies of Refuse Fascism material and get them out everywhere, and to support organizers and speakers.”

It’s a noble cause, and there’s nothing wrong with celebrities speaking out. Influential people should be speaking out against Trump, and advocating activism, and fighting him at every turn....

Rafael Jesús González, Poet and Literature Professor: “Full-fledged U.S. fascism has come”

Rafael Jesús González, poet and Professor Emeritus of Creative Writing & Literature, has taught at the University of Oregon, Western State College of Colorado, Central Washington State University, the University of Texas El Paso, and Laney College, Oakland where he founded the Mexican and Latin American Studies Dept. In a New Year’s Eve blog post, González wrote of Donald Trump:

Shall I repeat the litany of his faults—his misogyny, his racism, his homophobia, his bigotry, his profound ignorance? His analysis, his description, his judgment of anything does not go beyond stock superlatives; he knows nothing of ideas, much less policy, not an iota of science. “I am a business man,” he says proudly as if that justified all his conniving, his dishonesty, his thievery. Should we doubt it, he has his billions to prove it. So the empire now gets its own, homegrown Caligula. Sociopathic megalomaniac, he too may come to declare himself divine. True, we have been governed by criminals before (can one govern an empire and not be criminal?), but this is a case apart.

It is the cruelty I fear, the utter heartlessness in the face of suffering, the willingness, nay, the intent to cause suffering and pain. Nor compassion nor justice is a hallmark of the 1%, the Republican Party he represents and that brought him to power. (Being a Democrat is no guarantee of decency, but it seems that a decent Republican is an oxymoron.) With Republican control of Congress, the Supreme Court, and the Executive (the proposed Cabinet reads like a Hitlerian wish-list), full-fledged U. S. fascism has come, a fascism prepared to destroy the Earth itself for the sake of wealth and power. Can it be called anything but madness?

He went on to write:

Democracy once lost is very hard to restore. Our resistance must be immediate and overwhelming, our love fierce, our joy protected. Our homes, our neighborhoods, our cities must be made bulwarks of justice, of refuge. Our schools sanctuary of freedom of thought and inquiry, our churches voices for justice rooted in compassion. Much is demanded of us and great may be the sacrifice, but if we all share it, it will be much, much less. Let us then take to the streets and public places dressed in our most joyful colors, making music with our drums and flutes, dragging our pianos out our doors if we must, dancing, singing, chanting, turning all our art into protest and celebration—and make our spaces truly our own.

Read the whole piece by Rafael Jesús González, titled “Thoughts for the Last Day of the Year 2016,” available in English and Spanish here.

More Than 1,100 Law Professors Tell Senate to Reject Sessions Nomination

More than 1,100 law school professors from across the country are behind a letter sent to the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, January 2, calling for the rejection of Trump’s nomination of Jeff Sessions for attorney general. The letter says (in full):

We are 1140 faculty members from 170 different law schools in 48 states across the country. We urge you to reject the nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions for the position of Attorney General of the United States.

In 1986, the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee, in a bipartisan vote, rejected President Ronald Reagan’s nomination of then-U.S. Attorney Sessions for a federal judgeship, due to statements Sessions had made that reflected prejudice against African Americans. Nothing in Senator Sessions’ public life since 1986 has convinced us that he is a different man than the 39-year-old attorney who was deemed too racially insensitive to be a federal district court judge.

Some of us have concerns about his misguided prosecution of three civil rights activists for voter fraud in Alabama in 1985, and his consistent promotion of the myth of voter-impersonation fraud. Some of us have concerns about his support for building a wall along our country’s southern border. Some of us have concerns about his robust support for regressive drug policies that have fueled mass incarceration. Some of us have concerns about his questioning of the relationship between fossil fuels and climate change. Some of us have concerns about his repeated opposition to legislative efforts to promote the rights of women and members of the LGBTQ community. Some of us share all of these concerns.

All of us believe it is unacceptable for someone with Senator Sessions’ record to lead the Department of Justice.

The Attorney General is the top law enforcement officer in the United States, with broad jurisdiction and prosecutorial discretion, which means that, if confirmed, Jeff Sessions would be responsible for the enforcement of the nation’s civil rights, voting, immigration, environmental, employment, national security, surveillance, antitrust, and housing laws.
As law faculty who work every day to better understand the law and teach it to our students, we are convinced that Jeff Sessions will not fairly enforce our nation’s laws and promote justice and equality in the United States. We urge you to reject his nomination.

To read the statement with list of signatories go here.

 

Outrage at Simon & Schuster's Book Deal for Pro-Trump Racist

When the book publisher Simon & Schuster recently signed Milo Yiannopoulos, writer for Breitbart News Network, to a $250,000 book deal for the Threshold imprint, there was immediate outrage. Breitbart is a neo-Nazi, misogynistic, white-supremacist website whose former owner, Steve Bannon, is now Trump’s chief strategist and senior counselor. As technology editor at Breitbart, Yiannopoulos promoted the vicious campaign known as “GamerGate,” a flood of viciously degrading attacks and terroristic threats against the very small number of prominent women in the video-game development community. Among the despicable things he’s written is: “...Donald Trump and the rest of the alpha males will continue to dominate the internet without feminist whining. It will be fun! Like a big fraternity...” And Yiannopoulos was banned from Twitter this summer after his followers mounted a racist harassment campaign against Black comedian/actor Leslie Jones.

After the Simon & Schuster signing of Yiannopoulos, the Chicago Review of Books tweeted:

In response to this disgusting validation of hate, we will not cover a single @simonschuster book in 2017.

A bookstore in Dublin, Ireland, tweeted that it would not be carrying any Simon & Schuster titles:

Sometimes it’s a tough call for bookshops between respecting free speech and not promoting hate speech. Sometimes not. Byebye

Writer Danielle Henderson’s memoir is scheduled for publication by Simon & Schuster next year. Henderson wrote in a series of tweets:

I’m looking at my @simonschuster contract, and unfortunately there’s no clause for “what if we decide to publish a white nationalist”

But know this: i’m well aware of what hill I am willing to die on, and my morals and values are at the top of that list.

I will happily go back to slinging coffee—I’m not afraid to stand for what I believe in, and I make a MEAN cappuccino foam

Comedian Sara Silverman tweeted:

The guy has freedom of speech but to fund him & give him a platform tells me a LOT about @simonschuster YUCK AND BOO AND GROSS

Shannon Coulter, a marketing specialist who started a campaign to boycott Ivanka Trump products, tweeted (“@Lesdoggg” is Leslie Jones’ Twitter handle):

@simonschuster are you concerned $250k book deal you gave Milo Yiannopoulos will read as condoning the racist harassment @Lesdoggg endured?

 

 

Poet Nikky Finney: Talladega College should stand with others "protesting the inauguration of one of the most antagonistic, hatred spewing, unrepentant racists"

The January 2 announcement that Talladega College, a historically Black college in Alabama, would send its marching band to be part of Trump’s inauguration march was met with immediate outrage from many students and alumni. Nikky Finney, a poet whose 2011 work Head Off & Split won the National Book Award, is an alumna of Talladega and currently a chair in creative writing and Southern Studies at the University of South Carolina. Finney said of Talladega’s decision:

The news that Talladega College has forgotten its steady and proud 150 years of history, by making the decision to not stand in solidarity with other clear-eyed and courageous people, academic institutions, and organizations, protesting the inauguration of one of the most antagonistic, hatred-spewing, unrepentant racists, has simply and unequivocally broken my heart today. Historical Black colleges are duty bound to have and keep a moral center and be of great moral consciousness while also teaching its students lessons about life that they will need going forward, mainly, that just because a billionaire—who cares nothing about their 150 years of American existence—invites them to a fancy, gold-plated, dress-up party, they have the moral right and responsibility to say “no thank you,” especially when the blood, sweat, and tears and bodies, of black, brown, and native people are stuffed in the envelope alongside the RSVP.

This should have been a teachable moment for the President of Talladega College instead it has become a moment of divisiveness and shame. Bags of money and the promise of opportunity have always been waved in front of the faces and lives of struggling human beings, who have historically been relegated to the first-fired and the last-hired slots of life. It has been used to separate us before. It has now been used to separate us again.

Stan Van Gundy, Detroit Pistons Coach: "We have just thrown a good part of our population under the bus"

Speaking about Trump after his election victory, Stan Van Gundy, coach of the National Basketball Association (NBA) Detroit Pistons, said in part:

We have just thrown a good part of our population under the bus, and I have problems with thinking that this is where we are as a country. It’s tough on [the team], we noticed it coming in. Everybody was a little quiet, and I thought, “Well, maybe the game the other night.” [The Pistons were badly beaten in the game that night.] And so we talked about that, but then Aron Baynes said, “I don’t think that’s why everybody’s quiet. It’s last night.”

It’s just, we have said—and my daughters, the three of them—our society has said, “No, we think you should be second-class citizens. We want you to be second-class citizens. And we embrace a guy who is openly misogynistic as our leader.” I don’t know how we get past that.

Martin Luther King said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but bends toward justice.” I would have believed in that for a long time, but not today.... What we have done to minorities... in this election is despicable. I’m having a hard time dealing with it. This isn’t your normal candidate. I don’t know even know if I have political differences with him. I don’t even know what are his politics. I don’t know, other than to build a wall and “I hate people of color, and women are to be treated as sex objects and as servants to men.” I don’t know how you get past that. I don’t know how you walk into the booth and vote for that. I understand problems with the economy. I understand all the problems with Hillary Clinton, I do. But certain things in our country should disqualify you. And the fact that millions and millions of Americans don’t think that racism and sexism disqualifies you to be our leader, in our country....

We presume to tell other countries about human-rights abuses and everything else. We better never do that again, when our leaders talk to China or anybody else about human-rights abuses. We just elected an openly, brazen misogynist leader and we should keep our mouths shut and realize that we need to be learning maybe from the rest of the world, because we don’t got anything to teach anybody...

To see a YouTube of Van Gundy’s remarks (along with another NBA coach, Gregg Popovich) go here.

Scientist Lawrence M. Krauss on "Donald Trump's War on Science"

Lawrence M. Krauss is a theoretical physicist and cosmologist who is Foundation Professor of the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University, and director of its Origins Project. He was one of the producers of the documentary film The Unbelievers, which promotes a scientific view of the world. An article by Krauss appeared in the December 13 issue of The New Yorker titled, “Donald Trump’s War on Science.” In this article Krauss says:

The first sign of Trump’s intention to spread lies about empirical reality, “1984”-style, was, of course, the appointment of Steve Bannon, the former executive chairman of the Breitbart News Network, as Trump’s “senior counselor and strategist.” This year, Breitbart hosted stories with titles such as “1001 Reasons Why Global Warming Is So Totally Over in 2016,” despite the fact that 2016 is now overwhelmingly on track to be the hottest year on record, beating 2015, which beat 2014, which beat 2013. Such stories do more than spread disinformation. Their purpose is the creation of an alternative reality—one in which scientific evidence is a sham—so that hyperbole and fearmongering can divide and conquer the public.

Bannon isn’t the only propagandist in the new Administration: Myron Ebell, who heads the transition team at the Environmental Protection Agency, is another. In the aughts, as a director at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, he worked to kill a cap-and-trade bill proposed by Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman; in 2012, when the conservative American Enterprise Institute held a meeting about the economics of a possible carbon tax, he asked donors to defund it. It’s possible, of course, to oppose cap-and-trade or carbon taxes in good faith—and yet, in recent years, Ebell’s work has come to center on lies about science and scientists. Today, as the leader of the Cooler Heads Coalition, an anti-climate-science group, Ebell denies the veracity and methodology of science itself. He dismisses complex computer models that have been developed by hundreds of researchers by saying that they “don’t even pass the laugh test.” If Ebell’s methods seem similar to those used by the tobacco industry to deny the adverse health effects of smoking in the nineteen-nineties, that’s because he worked as a lobbyist for the tobacco industry.

When Ebell’s appointment was announced, Jeremy Symons, of the Environmental Defense Fund, said, “I got a sick feeling in my gut.... I can’t believe we got to the point when someone who is as unqualified and intellectually dishonest as Myron Ebell has been put in a position of trust for the future of the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the climate we are going to leave our kids.” Symons was right to be apprehensive: on Wednesday, word came that Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma’s attorney general, will be named the head of the E.P.A. As Jane Mayer has written, it would be hard to find a public official in the United States who is more closely tied to the oil-and-gas industry and who has been more actively opposed to the efforts of the E.P.A. to regulate the environment. In a recent piece for National Review, Pruitt denied the veracity of climate science; he has led the effort among Republican attorneys general to work directly with the fossil-fuel industry in resisting the Clean Air Act. In 2014, a Times investigation found that letters from Pruitt’s office to the E.P.A. and other government agencies had been drafted by energy lobbyists; right now, he is involved in a twenty-eight-state lawsuit against the very agency that he has been chosen to head...

And the Trump Administration is on course to undermine science in another way: through education. Educators have various concerns about Betsy DeVos, Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education—they object to her efforts to shield charter schools from government regulation, for example—but one issue stands above the rest: DeVos is a fundamentalist Christian with a long history of opposition to science. If her faith shapes her policies—and there is evidence that it will—she could shape science education decisively for the worse, by systematically depriving young people, in an era where biotechnology will play a key economic and health role worldwide, of a proper understanding of the very basis of modern biology: evolution....

Taken singly, Trump’s appointments are alarming. But taken as a whole they can be seen as part of a larger effort to undermine the institution of science, and to deprive it of its role in the public-policy debate. Just as Steve Bannon undermines the institution of a fact-based news media, so appointments like Ebell, Pruitt, McMorris Rodgers, Walker, and DeVos advance the false perception that science is just a politicized tool of “the élites.”

...It is not only scientists who should actively fight against this dangerous trend. It is everyone who is concerned about our freedom, health, welfare, and security as a nation—and everyone who is concerned about the planetary legacy we leave for our children.

To read the whole article go here.

Mormon Church Members Protest Mormon Tabernacle Choir Singing at Trump's Inauguration

Some members of the Mormon church are protesting the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing at Trump’s inauguration. A petition saying “Mormon Tabernacle Choir Should NOT Perform at Trump Inauguration” has now been signed by close to 19,000 people. It says in part: “As members and friends of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we strongly urge the Church to stop this practice and especially for an incoming president who has demonstrated sexist, racist, misogynistic, and xenophobic behavior that does not align with the principles and teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” The online petition can be found here.

Law Students Speak Out Against Trump's Attorney General Nominee: "Sessions stated that he believed the Ku Klux Klan was okay"

After Trump nominated Alabama white supremacist and Senator Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, the American Constitution Society (ACS) at Harvard Law School—one of the most prestigious law schools in the world—wrote a letter to Trump opposing the nomination and began distributing it for signatures through ACS chapters across the country. As of December 22, it was signed by 1,060 law students from many different schools.

The letter points at some of Sessions’s outrageous record:

*“As a four-term member of the U.S. Senate, former Alabama Attorney General and U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama, Senator Sessions consistently opposed laws advancing civil rights, environmental protections, reproductive rights, criminal justice, voting rights, immigration and marriage equality.”

*“During the unsuccessful confirmation hearing [for federal judgeship in 1986], witnesses testified under oath that Sessions described a white civil rights attorney as a ‘race traitor’; referred to a black attorney as ‘boy’; and called the ACLU, NAACP, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, National Council of Churches and other groups ‘un-American organizations.’”

*“During the 1986 hearing, a former colleague also testified that Sessions stated that he believed the Ku Klux Klan was okay, until he learned its members smoked marijuana.”

The letter and signatories are online here.

National Nurses United: Trump pick for Health and Human Services would throw "our most sick and vulnerable fellow Americans at the mercy of the healthcare industry"

National Nurses United (NNU) is the largest union of registered nurses in the United States. It recently organized a national network of volunteer RNs to go to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation to meet the first aid needs of thousands who were there to stop the Dakota Access oil pipeline. On December 22, the NNU sent a letter calling on the Senate to reject Trump’s nominee for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Tom Price.

According to a NNU press release, the letter says in part: “If confirmed, it is clear that Rep. Price will pursue policies that substantially erode our nation’s health and security—eliminating health coverage, reducing access, shifting more costs to working people and their families, and throwing our most sick and vulnerable fellow Americans at the mercy of the healthcare industry.”

Price has played a major role in attempts by Republicans to undercut or repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Obama’s healthcare law (see “Tom Price, Trump’s Pick for Health and Human Services: A Slasher of Healthcare for the Poor and Women“). The NNU letter says: “Even today, four years after enactment of the Affordable Care Act, we have seen a drop in U.S. life expectancy rates for the first time in decades, millions of people who self-ration prescription medications or other critical medical treatment due to the high out-of-pocket costs, and continuing disparities in our health care system based on race, gender, age, socio-economic status, or where you live.

“While our organization repeatedly voiced concerns that the ACA did not go far enough, repealing the law, especially the expansion of Medicaid which extended health care coverage to millions of low and moderate income adults, and limits on some of the most chronicled abuses in our present insurance based system, would only exacerbate a healthcare crisis many Americans continue to experience...”

Read the NNU press release here.

Thousands of Doctors Speak Out Against Trump's Pick to Head Health and Human Services

On November 29, the American Medical Association (AMA), which represents about a quarter of doctors in the U.S., issued a statement saying that it “strongly supports” Trump’s nomination to head the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Tom Price, and calling on the Senate to “promptly consider and confirm” him for the position.

In response, three physicians from the University of Pennsylvania—Drs. Manik Chhabra, Navin Vij and Jane Zhu—posted a statement online opposing the Trump nominee.  The statement has been signed by over 5,500 doctors as of December 16.

Their statement, “The AMA Does Not Speak for Us,” says in part:

We are practicing physicians who deliver healthcare in hospitals and clinics, in cities and rural towns; we are specialists and generalists, and we care for the poor and the rich, the young and the elderly. We see firsthand the difficulties that Americans face daily in accessing affordable, quality healthcare. We believe that in issuing this statement of support for Dr. Price, the AMA has reneged on a fundamental pledge that we as physicians have taken — to protect and advance care for our patients.

We support patient choice. But Dr. Price’s proposed policies threaten to harm our most vulnerable patients and limit their access to healthcare. We cannot support the dismantling of Medicaid, which has helped 15 million Americans gain health coverage since 2014. We oppose Dr. Price’s proposals to reduce funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, a critical mechanism by which poor children access preventative care. We wish to protect essential health benefits like treatment for opioid use disorder, prenatal care, and access to contraception.

We see benefits in market-based solutions to some of our healthcare system’s challenges. Like many others, we advocate for improvements in the way healthcare is delivered. But Dr. Price purports to care about efficiency, while opposing innovations by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid to improve value and eliminate waste in healthcare. He supports plans to privatize Medicare, a critical program which covers 44 million of our elderly patients.

The AMA’s vision statement includes “improving health outcomes” and “better health for all,” and yet by supporting Dr. Price’s candidacy — and therefore, his views — the AMA has not aligned itself with the well-being of patients.

For the complete statement and list of signatories, go here.

Return to top

Merrill Miller, Associate Editor of TheHumanist.com: "Now is the time for us to stand in solidarity with those who face oppression"

Merrill Miller is associate editor of TheHumanist.com and Communications Associate at the American Humanist Association. The January/February 2017 issue of the Humanist includes an article by Miller titled, “Who Will We Speak For? Humanism’s Role in Defending Human Rights and Civil Liberties.” The piece starts with the famous quote from Protestant pastor Martin Niemöller, who spent seven years in one of Hitler’s concentration camps, about how he had not spoken out when the Nazis attacked different sections of the people until there was no one left to speak for him.

Miller writes: “For many humanists and those in the progressive community at large, these past weeks have, in some ways, felt like decades. We’ve seen Hillary Clinton win the popular vote for president by an enormous margin and still lose the Electoral College to Donald Trump, who is now president-elect. We’ve seen Stephen Bannon, who fueled the fires of racism, sexism, and bigotry in his time at Breitbart News, named as a chief strategist for the Trump administration, as climate change deniers and individuals with no respect for church-state separation (Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, for one) are being nominated or considered for other top positions. We’ve heard talk of legislation that would chip away at our constitutional right to free, peaceable assembly, such as Washington State Senator Doug Ericksen’s bill to classify street protests as a form of ‘economic terrorism’...

“Humanists are in a unique position to demonstrate outrage...We must harness that capacity for outrage now—not just to defend church-state separation but to protect all of our basic human rights and civil liberties.

“We can start by directing that outrage at the notion that the government would profile and register people based on their race and religion, as the Muslim registry would do. While current discussions of this registry would focus on immigrants, Trump said during his campaign that he would require all Muslims to register, presumably including US citizens. Humanist groups should reach out to their local mosques and Islamic community centers and ask them what their community needs are and how to help...

“Now is the time for us to stand in solidarity with those who face oppression, whether they are undocumented immigrants in danger of losing their basic human dignity or women in danger of losing their hard-won reproductive rights. We must stand up for all people of color and LGBTQ individuals, who are terrified by the bigotry unleashed by Trump’s campaign and his coming presidency. We must stand up for healthcare for the elderly and for everyone in our nation or else more than 22 million people (as estimated by Vox) will be without it, even though a national, single-payer healthcare system should be considered a human right. We must stand with the labor movement to fight for economic justice for all low-wage workers, whose rights will be threatened by Republican-controlled executive, legislative, and judiciary branches of government. We must do all that we can to protect these and other vulnerable communities and individuals, because the very foundations of our democracy, our civil liberties, and our human rights are at stake. If humanists and nontheists don’t speak up for these marginalized groups while we can, there is a distinct possibility that when we’re specifically threatened, there will be no one left to speak for us.”

To read the full article go here.

Andrea Bocelli Fans Raise Uproar to Stop Him from Singing at Trump Inauguration

Apparently Donald Trump is a fan of the famous Italian opera tenor Andrea Bocelli. When word went out that Trump had approached Bocelli to perform at his inauguration, and there were reports that Bocelli had tentatively agreed (which, if true, is utterly shameful), there was a huge uproar of protest from Bocelli’s fans. Some threatened to #BoycottBocelli if he decided to sing on January 20. Here are a few tweets, among many: “Dumped @AndreaBocelli CD’s in trash, won’t be buying tickets to Feb. Orlando concert after all. DONE with him. Will #boycottBocelli forever.” “Please accept the inauguration offer because the Klu Klux Klan makes great fans!” “Contact @AndreaBocelli's booking agent & manager to warn of #BoycottBocelli if he sings for fascist Trump.” One fan wrote on Facebook: “Mr Bocelli, please do not sing for Donald Trump. He stands for racism, misogyny, and hatred of others. Music is beautiful, sacred. Don’t let this man buy you and desecrate art, hope, and beauty.”

In the face of the outrage from so many of his fans, Bocelli announced he would not be performing at the inauguration. Trump’s people claimed that they had rescinded the invitation.

Earlier, in the summer, the widow and daughters of another famous Italian tenor, Luciano Pavarotti, asked Trump to stop using his recording of Puccini’s aria “Nessun Dorma” at his campaign events. They said that “the values of brotherhood and solidarity which Luciano Pavarotti expressed throughout the course of his artistic career are entirely incompatible with the worldview offered by the candidate Donald Trump.”

Hollywood PR Agency Cancels Parties to "defend the values we hold dear"

Sunshine Sachs is a PR agency that represents stars like Leonardo DiCaprio, Ben Affleck and Natalie Portman. Every year they usually hold a big holiday party, on both the East and West coasts. But this year they didn’t feel the usual “holiday cheer.” CEO Shawn Sachs said, “However I felt the morning after [Trump was elected] was nothing compared to how I felt talking to people in this office, those who felt their citizenship—in a matter of moments—was gone or had been lessened... Being the diverse workplace we are, many of us felt under assault.” So Sunshine Sachs cancelled its annual bicoastal holiday celebrations, and will donate the money that would have been spent for the lavish galas to 16 different organizations, including the ACLU, the Human Rights Campaign, the Environmental Defense Fund and Planned Parenthood. The agency sent out an email saying their decision was a gesture to “defend the values we hold dear.”

George Takei Speaks Out Against Trump on Nuclear Weapons and Registry for Muslims

Responding to Trump saying he wants to “strengthen and expand” the nuclear capabilities of the U.S., actor George Takei tweeted on Thursday, December 22: “Trump wants to expand our nuclear arsenal. I think of my aunt and baby cousin, found burnt in a ditch in Hiroshima. These weapons must go.”

Takei and his family spent years in one of the U.S. concentration (“internment”) camps for people of Japanese descent during World War 2. In his November 18 op-ed for the Washington Post titled, “They interned my family. Don’t let them do it to Muslims,” Takei wrote:

“During World War II, the government argued that military authorities could not distinguish between alleged enemy elements and peaceful, patriotic Japanese Americans. It concluded, therefore, that all those of Japanese descent, including American citizens, should be presumed guilty and held without charge, trial or legal recourse, in many cases for years. The very same arguments echo today, on the assumption that a handful of presumed radical elements within the Muslim community necessitate draconian measures against the whole, all in the name of national security....

“Let us all be clear: ‘National security’ must never again be permitted to justify wholesale denial of constitutional rights and protections. If it is freedom and our way of life that we fight for, our first obligation is to ensure that our own government adheres to those principles. Without that, we are no better than our enemies.

“Let us also agree that ethnic or religious discrimination cannot be justified by calls for greater security....”

In a December 8 interview on CNN, Takei said that during World War 2, before they were sent to an internment camp, his family was placed on a registry of Japanese Americans and subjected to a curfew: “We were confined to our homes from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. in the morning, imprisoned in our homes at night. Then they froze our bank accounts. We were economically paralyzed. Then the soldiers came... I remember the two soldiers walking up our driveway, marching up our driveway, shiny bayonets on the rifle, stopping at the front porch and with their fists started banging on the front door and that sound resonated throughout the house....”

Takei connected that history to what is happening today: “It is an echo of what we heard from World War II coming from Trump himself. That sweeping statement characterizing all Muslims. There are more than a billion Muslims in this world. To infer they are all terrorists with that kind of sweeping statement is outrageous, in the same way that they characterized all Japanese Americans as enemy aliens.”

Patti Smith's rendition of Bob Dylan's "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" at Nobel Prize ceremony resonates powerfully today

At the Nobel Prize ceremony in Stockholm, Sweden, singer Patti Smith performed a moving tribute to Bob Dylan, the winner of this year’s laureate for literature. She chose to sing one of Dylan’s songs—“A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall,” released in 1963, a time when the civil rights movement and anti-Vietnam War protests were a sign of the times.

Check out the performance here:

The final stanza, especially, resonates very powerfully today:

“And what’ll you do now, my blue-eyed son?
And what’ll you do now, my darling young one?
I’m a-goin’ back out ’fore the rain starts a-fallin’
I’ll walk to the depths of the deepest black forest
Where the people are many and their hands are all empty
Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters
Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison
And the executioner’s face is always well hidden
Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten
Where black is the color, where none is the number
And I’ll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it
And reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it
Then I’ll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin’
But I’ll know my song well before I start singin’
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall.”

Danny Glover: "We have to fight him every inch"

At a December 7 rally in Washington, DC, to support striking federal workers, actor Danny Glover criticized people who say Trump should be given “a chance.” Glover said, “Give him a chance what? We know who he is. We know exactly who he is. We have to accept that. But we have to fight him every inch. We have to fight him every moment.”

Time magazine had just come with their annual “Person of the Year” issue with Trump on the cover. Glover said, “It’s irresponsible to make him Person of the Year. Based on what? Based on the fact that he won the Electoral College? Based on the fact that he lied to people? Based on the fact that all the stories of all he’s done to women and what he thinks about women? Based on his racism? A racist as Person of the Year? I’m appalled, I’m appalled. I’m angry now that Time magazine would name this person Person of the Year. It’s incredible.” He said this was a “slap in our face” and “the most disrespectful thing.”

Rosie O'Donnell: "Not My President"

Actor and TV personality Rosie O’Donnell has been calling on people to stand up against Trump in a number of recent tweets. In response to someone who tweeted, “we need to organize an anti-Trump inauguration,” O’Donnell tweeted: “no one go – film urself – periscope STANDING keep saying ‘NOT MY PRESIDENT – LIFE – WITH MILLIONS OF OTHERS.” She also wrote “its called STAY HOME – DO NOT WATCH IT.” And she quoted from writer and journalist Norman Cousins: “There is nothing more powerful than an individual acting out of conscience.”

IBM Employees Denounce CEO's Collaboration with Trump

On November 15, IBM Corporation CEO, Ginni Rometty, published an open letter to Donald Trump, offering the tech giant’s cooperation to “advance a national agenda” and offering “ideas that I believe will help achieve the aspiration you articulated” in his Election-night acceptance speech.

The following week, Elizabeth Wood, a senior content specialist in IBM Marketing, wrote her own open letter, denouncing Rometty’s shameless offer to collaborate with the new fascist regime, and resigning from her position.

Wood’s letter said (all emphasis in original):

Your letter offered the backing of IBM’s global workforce in support of his agenda that preys on marginalized people and threatens my well-being as a woman, a Latina and a concerned citizen. The company’s hurry to do this was a tacit endorsement of his position. ...

“The president-elect has demonstrated contempt for immigrants, veterans, people with disabilities, Black, Latinx, Jewish, Muslim and LGBTQ communities. These groups comprise a growing portion of the company you lead, Ms. Rometty. ...

When the president-elect follows through on his repeated threats to create a public database of Muslims, what will IBM do? Your letter neglects to mention.1

Read Wood’s entire letter here.

Wood’s action inspired others at IBM to stand up. In early December, 10 current IBM employees started a petition to Rometty insisting that IBM has “a moral and business imperative to uphold the pillars of a free society by declining any projects which undermine liberty, such as surveillance tools threatening freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom from unreasonable search and seizure,” and that “history teach[es] us that accommodating those who unleash forces of aggressive nationalism, bigotry, racism, fear, and exclusion inevitably yields devastating outcomes for millions of innocents.”2 And they specifically demand that IBM execs respect the right of individual employees to “refuse participation in any U.S. contracts that violate constitutional and civil liberties.”

The petition circulated privately at first, and went public on December 19. It now has at least 500 signatories—employees, former employees, IBM stockholders and others in the tech community. The petition is available online here.


1. On December 16, after Wood’s letter was published, as well as a statement from at least 800 tech workers saying they would refuse to work on such a Muslim registry, IBM, as well as Google, Apple and Uber, all told BuzzFeed that they also would refuse. [back]

2. This history includes the fact that IBM put its precursor to the computer—the IBM punch card sorter system—at the service of Hitler’s genocide of Jewish people. In IBM and the Holocaust, Edwin Black writes: “IBM Germany, using its own staff and equipment, designed, executed, and supplied the indispensable technologic assistance Hitler's Third Reich needed to accomplish what had never been done before—the automation of human destruction. More than 2,000 such multi-machine sets were dispatched throughout Germany, and thousands more throughout German-dominated Europe. Card sorting machines were established in every major concentration camp. People were moved from place to place, systematically worked to death, and their remains cataloged with icy automation.” [back]

Writers Resist NYC: Louder Together for Free Expression

On January 15, writers across the U.S. and other countries are holding Writers Resist events to “focus public attention on the ideals of a free, just, and compassionate society.” The “flagship” event on that day is slated for New York City and is co-sponsored by the writers’ group PEN America. It is described on the PEN America website as a “literary protest” that will be held on the steps of the New York City Library at 5th Avenue and 42nd Street in Manhattan “to defend free expression, reject hate crimes and uphold truth in the face of lies and misinformation.”

The protest “will bring together hundreds of writers and artists and thousands of New Yorkers on the birthday of civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. American poet laureates Robert Pinsky and Rita Dove will each offer hope and inspiration with original ‘inaugural’ poems written for the occasion.”

And, “After the readings and performances, a group of PEN America leaders and any who wish to join will walk the blocks to Trump Tower together to present PEN America’s free expression pledge on the First Amendment signed by over 110,000 individuals to a member of the President-elect’s team. We are confident the reading at the library and the subsequent march, as two distinct but powerful events to uphold free expression and human rights for all, will be powerful.”

According to Writers Resist organizers, in addition to NYC, January15 events are planned for “Houston, Austin, New Orleans, Seattle, Spokane, Los Angeles, London, Zurich, Boston, Omaha, Kansas City, Jacksonville, Madison, Milwaukee, Bloomington, Baltimore, Oakland, Tallahassee, Newport, Santa Fe, Salt Lake, and Portland (Oregon AND Maine) and many other cities.”

For more on the protest and participants, go here.

500 Women Scientists: "We reject the hateful rhetoric that was given a voice during the U.S. presidential election..."

An online letter by a group of women scientists against Trump’s attacks on science and on his hateful poison directed at different sections of the people has gathered over 11,000 signatures from around the world as of December 23. In an article published by Scientific American, ecologist Kelly Ramirez said that, after the Trump-Pence victory, she and a small group of scientist friends began discussing “how can we take action?” On November 17, they posted their letter with signatures of 500 women scientists.

The letter begins: “Science is foundational in a progressive society, fuels innovation, and touches the lives of every person on this planet. The anti-knowledge and anti-science sentiments expressed repeatedly during the U.S. presidential election threaten the very foundations of our society. Our work as scientists and our values as human beings are under attack. We fear that the scientific progress and momentum in tackling our biggest challenges, including staving off the worst impacts of climate change, will be severely hindered under this next U.S. administration. Our planet cannot afford to lose any time.

“In this new era of anti-science and misinformation, we as women scientists re-affirm our commitment to build a more inclusive society and scientific enterprise. We reject the hateful rhetoric that was given a voice during the U.S. presidential election and which targeted minority groups, women, LGBTQIA [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual], immigrants, and people with disabilities, and attempted to discredit the role of science in our society. Many of us feel personally threatened by this divisive and destructive rhetoric and have turned to each other for understanding, strength, and a path forward. We are members of racial, ethnic, and religious minority groups. We are immigrants. We are people with disabilities. We are LGBTQIA. We are scientists. We are women.”

The letter outlines a number of actions that the signers pledge to take “to increase diversity in science and other disciplines.” The complete letter (available in English, Spanish, Portuguese, German, French, Dutch, and Farsi), signatories, and other related information is available online here.

Mystery Writer Elizabeth George: "I will not ever accept what's going on right now in the US as the new normal"

Elizabeth George is a U.S.-based writer of mystery novels set in Great Britain. She is widely known for her series of books featuring Inspector Thomas Lynley. In a recent post titled “Mea Culpa” on her website, part of a series of essays on the 2016 elections, George wrote in part: “...what I cannot forgive is the effort being made on all sides to normalize what is going on, to say ‘let’s give him a chance.’ To this I say that, for me, what’s going on is not the new normal. So far and at the time of my writing this, Donald Trump has given cabinet positions to two of his billionaire friends, has chosen a Wall Street bigwig from Goldman Sachs to head the Treasury Department, has selected a foe not only of women’s rights to choose but also of insurance supplied contraception as his head of Health and Human Services, has chosen a racist as his attorney general, has chosen a climate-change denying non-scientist to head the EPA, has chosen a woman who sank the educational system in Detroit to be the head of the Department of Education.... If at some horrible point in the future, Muslims are told that they must register, I intend to register as a Muslim and I encourage everyone else to do the same. I will not ever accept what’s going on right now in the US as the new normal.”

She closes the essay with: “Normal is actually standing for something and drawing a line in the sand across which racial hatred, religious intolerance, sexual aggression, misogyny, fascism, Nazism, white supremacy, Hitler salutes, the Ku Klux Klan, and LGBTQ persecution dare not cross.

“That’s the new normal, that’s the old normal, and that’s the only normal that I will ever accept or support.”

Read the whole piece by Elizabeth George here.

Playwright and Literature Professor Ariel Dorfman: "Now America Knows How Chile Felt"

Ariel Dorfman is a Chilean-American playwright, novelist, human rights activist and an emeritus professor of literature at Duke University. In an op-ed titled “Now, America, You Know How Chileans Felt” that appeared in the New York Times on December 17, Dorfman describes how after Salvador Allende had won the presidential election in 1970, U.S. President Richard Nixon and the CIA worked to undermine the results, including the assassination of a general who stood in the way of the U.S. plans. When the U.S. was not able to block Allende’s inauguration, “American intelligence services, at Henry A. Kissinger’s behest, continued to assail our sovereignty, sabotaging our prosperity (‘make the economy scream,’ Nixon ordered) and fostering military unrest. Finally, on Sept. 11, 1973, Allende was ousted, replaced by a vicious dictatorship that lasted nearly 17 years. Years of torture, executions, disappearances and exile.”

Dorfman notes the irony of the CIA “now crying foul because its tactics have been imitated by a powerful international rival,” referring to allegations of Russian interference in U.S. elections. He writes that when Donald Trump dismisses those allegations, “he is bizarrely echoing the very responses that so many Chileans got in the early ’70s when we accused the C.I.A. of illegal intervention in our internal affairs.” And Dorman writes, “The United States cannot in good faith decry what has been done to its citizens until it is ready to face what it did so often to the equally decent citizens of other nations. And it must resolve never to engage in such imperious activities again.”

Ariel Dorfman’s piece is online here.

Neveragain.tech: "We refuse to facilitate mass deportations of people the government believes to be undesirable"

On December 13, a group of people who work in tech organizations and companies based in the U.S. issued a strong statement pledging “solidarity with Muslim Americans, immigrants, and all people whose lives and livelihoods are threatened by the incoming administration’s proposed data collection policies.” They said they refuse to build databases of people based on their religious beliefs and to facilitate mass deportations. Their statement was also in defiance of top execs from major tech companies like Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Tesla, and Alphabet (Google), who a day earlier met with Trump, adding to the efforts to normalize fascism.

The statement says: “We have educated ourselves on the history of threats like these, and on the roles that technology and technologists played in carrying them out. We see how IBM collaborated to digitize and streamline the Holocaust, contributing to the deaths of six million Jews and millions of others. We recall the internment of Japanese Americans during the Second World War. We recognize that mass deportations precipitated the very atrocity the word genocide was created to describe: the murder of 1.5 million Armenians in Turkey. We acknowledge that genocides are not merely a relic of the distant past—among others, Tutsi Rwandans and Bosnian Muslims have been victims in our lifetimes.

“Today we stand together to say: not on our watch, and never again.”

As of the evening of December 14 the statement has close to 800 signers. The statement and other resources are available here.

Return to top

In a piece titled "Forward Ever, Normal Never: Taking Down Donald Trump" in Monthly Review, Susie Day writes:

"People often compare the ascendance of Trump and his cabinet of deplorables to the rise of the Nazis—taking momentary refuge in the fact that 1933 Germany didn't have the nuclear option.  Apropos of Trump's take on flag burning, one of the first things Hitler did as chancellor was to rescind freedom of speech, assembly, the press. . .  Then the arrest of political opponents, the forcing of Jews to register their propertywear Stars of David.  Remember those "good" Germans, who may have lamented, but went along because they could—because they still fit in to what remained normal?'

Read the entire article here

Return to top

Cornel West: “Goodbye, American neoliberalism. A new era is here”

...In this bleak moment, we must inspire each other driven by a democratic soulcraft of integrity, courage, empathy and a mature sense of history – even as it seems our democracy is slipping away.

We must not turn away from the forgotten people of US foreign policy – such as Palestinians under Israeli occupation, Yemen's civilians killed by US-sponsored Saudi troops or Africans subject to expanding US military presence.

As one whose great family and people survived and thrived through slavery, Jim Crow and lynching, Trump's neofascist rhetoric and predictable authoritarian reign is just another ugly moment that calls forth the best of who we are and what we can do.

For us in these times, to even have hope is too abstract, too detached, too spectatorial. Instead we must be a hope, a participant and a force for good as we face this catastrophe.

Read entire statement here

Return to top

Guns N’ Roses Invites Mexico Fans Onstage to Destroy Trump Piñata

On November 30, in the middle of a song they were performing at Palacio de los Deportes in Mexico City, the band Guns N’ Roses cut the music and brought a giant piñata of Donald Trump onstage. According to an online TIME magazine report, Axl Rose, the band’s front man, said, “Let’s bring up some people and give them a fucking stick... Express yourselves however you feel.” Fans got up on the stage and began swinging at the piñata.

Return to top

Undocumented in Trump’s America
By Jose Antonio Vargas, November 20

On election night, while making my way through a crowd gathered outside the Fox News headquarters in Midtown Manhattan, a white man wearing a Mets cap patted my back and said through the noise: "Get ready to be deported." Rattled, I made it inside the green room and waited to go on the air.

I am an undocumented immigrant. I outed myself in a very public way in The New York Times in 2011, and since then have appeared regularly on cable news programs, especially on Fox, to humanize the very political and polarizing issue of immigration ...

What will you do when they start rounding us up?

Read entire article here

Return to top

An abortion doctor on Trump's win: "I fear for my life. I fear for my patients."
By Warren M. Hern, November 11

As I've headed to work in recent days to see abortion patients in my office, I have felt bereft: All the premises of my life, work, education, and future were gone. Something very profound in the meaning of the America I know has been destroyed with the election of Donald J. Trump as president ...

Under an unrestrained Donald Trump and this Republican Congress, I fear for my life, I fear for my family, and I fear for my future. I fear for my staff and my patients.

Even more, I fear for my country, and I fear for the world.

Read entire article here

Return to top

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: "We cannot let justice be denied by waiting. History has shown us over and over what horrors that leads to."

In a December 1 article for the Washington Post online edition, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar calls for resistance against Trump. Writing from his viewpoint of protecting this country’s “most sacred values,” Abdul-Jabbar criticizes others and their “hide-beneath-the-bed tactic”—like Jack Rosen, president of the American Jewish Congress, who says “we should take a look-and-see approach” and Black Entertainment Television founder and Hillary Clinton supporter Bob Johnson who said African Americans should give Trump “the benefit of the doubt.” He writes that the appointments Trump has been making already show that “these people and their contra-constitutional view are a clear and present danger” and calls for civil disobedience in different forms.

See Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s article here.

Return to top

In a November 10 speech in the Irish Parliament, Senator Aodhán Ó Riordáin made a strong speech denouncing Donald Trump as a fascist—and condemning the Irish government's conciliatory response.

After the election of Trump, Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny called to congratulate him and ask whether the annual White House celebration of St. Patrick’s Day was still on. Irish Senator Aodhan O'Riordáin, fired off this response in the Irish Seanad (Senate):

Edmund Burke once said the only way evil can prosper is for good men to do nothing. American has just elected a fascist and the best thing that good people in Ireland can do is to ring him up and ask him if they can still bring the Shamrock on St. Patrick’s Day. I’m embarrassed about what the Irish government has done I can’t believe the reaction from the government. And I don’t use the word fascist lightly. What else would you call somebody threatens to imprison his political opponents? What else would you call somebody who threatens to not allow people of a certain religious faith into their country? What would you say, or how would you describe somebody who is threatening to deport 10 million people. What would you say about somebody who says that the media is rigged, the judiciary is rigged, the political system is rigged. And then he wins the election and the best we can come out with is a call to say is it still ok to bring the shamrock...I am frightened. I am frightened for what is happening in this world and in our inability to stand up to it. I want to ask you, leader, to ask the Minister of Foreign of Affairs into this house and ask him how we are supposed to deal with this monster who has just been elected president of America because I don’t think any of us in years to come should look back on this period and say we didn’t do everything in our power to call it out for what it is.

See the whole speech below.

Return to top

Andrew Sullivan: "The Republic Repeals Itself"

Andrew Sullivan is a well-known conservative writer and online commentator, currently a contributing editor to the New York magazine. We want to bring to our readers’ attention a November 9 online article by Sullivan titled “The Republic Repeals Itself.” While we have differences with Sullivan overall and with this particular article in certain dimensions, we think he makes important points that are worthy of reflection.

Read Andrew Sullivan's piece here.

Return to top

 

 

 

       

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/492/mississippi-legislator-calls-for-lynching-en.html

Revolution #493 May 29, 2017

In Trump’s America: The Open Revival of KKK-Style Terror

Mississippi Legislator Calls for Lynching Opponents of Confederate Monuments

May 26, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

For 150 years the South has been awash in Confederate flags and scarred by hundreds of monuments to so-called “heroes” of the Confederacy—people who led a bloody war to maintain and expand the enslavement of Black people. These flags and monuments were and are a means not just to celebrate one of the most monstrous “causes” in human history, but to assert dominance over and terrorize Black people today. They are instruments of white supremacy.

In recent years, thousands of people have been struggling to take these hateful symbols down. Now, in defense of these symbols—and of the modern-day leader and representative of all that, Donald Trump—reactionaries are reviving a legacy of threats and terror.

On May 20, Mississippi State Representative Karl Oliver posted on Facebook that anyone wanting to “destroy historical monuments of OUR HISTORY… should be LYNCHED!” (Emphasis in original)

A few days later Oliver “apologized” for his “choice of words.” But he knew exactly what he was saying—for almost a century, lynching was the cutting edge of the terror directed at Black people in the South, sowing the fear that forced people to accept daily insult and discrimination, and to labor from dawn to dusk in fields only to end up in debt. And lynching was no secret

At least 3,959 Black people were lynched by whites in the South—576 in Mississippi alone—between 1877 and 1950. In 1937, right in Oliver’s district, two Black men were tied to a tree and burned to death before a mob of 500; the next day the local paper ran gruesome photos. In 1955, 14-year-old Emmett Till was beaten, tortured, and drowned by a group of white men who were acquitted by an all-white jury and then went about bragging that they did it. That was in Money, Mississippi, also in Oliver’s district.

Oliver knows what it means to invoke lynching, just like the two other Mississippi state legislators, and the Highway Patrol Public Affairs Officer who rushed to “like” Oliver’s post before it was taken down.

And this is not just some backwater Mississippi thing.

These are just a few examples of the vigilante threats and violence, including murder, that are on the rise in the era of Trump. Trump didn’t invent these people—they are the product of the whole U.S. history of white supremacy, which has been essential to the wealth and power of this country. But from the beginning of his campaign, Trump has embraced and relied on them, encouraging violence at his rallies, refusing to seriously denounce the Klansmen and Nazis who enthusiastically supported him, appointing white supremacist Jeff Sessions as Attorney General and “ethno-nationalist” Steve Bannon as his chief strategic advisor.

Trump has signaled to the vilest forces in U.S. society that he is their man, and this is their time. And now, especially as the Trump/Pence regime faces opposition from many sides, these violent racist reactionaries are stepping out even more in an effort to defend their leaders and symbols, leaders and symbols of savage oppression. The time is now to mobilize millions of people to drive out this fascist regime.

All this is evidence enough, not just of the horror of Trump’s Amerikkka, but of how this whole system, from its very roots in slavery down to the present moment, has always abetted and encouraged, and has built into its very fabric the most horrific oppression of Black people. And evidence as well of the need for this system to be gone, which only the people can do through a total emancipatory revolution to wipe out the oppression of Black people as an integral part of the emancipation of all of humanity.

 

       

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/493/trump-escalates-us-backing-of-saudi-slaughter-in-yemen-en.html

Revolution #493 May 29, 2017

Trump Escalates U.S. Backing of Saudi Slaughter and Starvation in Yemen

May 29, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

During their trip to Saudi Arabia, Donald Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson gave the most direct and explicit U.S. backing to Saudi Arabia’s murderous bombing assault and economic blockade on Yemen to date. It is no exaggeration to say this potentially threatens the lives of millions of Yemenis.

Since March 2015, Saudi Arabia and some of its Gulf allies have been waging an unjust war against Yemen, a country of 28 million on the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula. The Saudi goal: to dictate the outcome of a reactionary power struggle between pro-Saudi forces and Yemen’s Houthi movement. (Officially called Ansar Allah, the Houthis are a Zaidi Shia Muslim-based Islamist movement that emerged in northern Yemen in the 1990s.)

The Saudis have bombed hospitals, schools, markets, factories, and residential neighborhoods. Their bombs and economic blockade have decimated the country’s water, sewer, health, and sanitation systems; shattered its economy and agriculture; and prevented it from importing needed food, medicines, fuel, and supplies. (Yemen imports some 90 percent of its food.) These actions targeting whole swaths of Yemen’s population are war crimes. Saudi Arabia is responsible for most of the 10,000 deaths in the Yemen war since 2015. And they’ve created one of the most catastrophic humanitarian horrors on the planet today: according to the UN, 17 million people in Yemen lack access to adequate food, including 462,000 children who are in the "grip of acute malnutrition," causing severe health effects, and seven million live in areas on the brink of famine and potential starvation.

“On average, a child under the age of five dies of preventable causes in Yemen every 10 minutes,” states a UN official. “Many of the children who survive will be affected by stunting and poor health for their entire lives. We are witnessing the starving and the crippling of an entire generation.”

This Saudi-fueled malnutrition and destruction has now triggered an outbreak of cholera, which is spreading “at an unprecedented rate,” UN officials reported on May 24. “In the last three weeks, health authorities have reported over 35,500 suspected cholera cases, a third of whom are children, and 361 associated deaths.... Hundreds of thousands of people are at a greater risk of dying as they face the ‘triple threat’ of conflict, starvation and cholera.... Cholera is preventable and treatable and no life should be lost to this disease.”

Trump Green-Lights Mass Murder, Starvation, and Disease

Under Obama, the U.S. quietly armed and backed the Saudi campaign to preserve their hegemony on the Arabian Peninsula and prevent Iran from gaining influence. The Obama administration supplied the Saudis with billions in arms ($115 billion during its eight-year term) and direct military and intelligence support. But Obama also held back some weapons and exerted some pressure on the Saudis to avoid blatant war crimes (such as bombing hospitals).

In Saudi Arabia during their trip, Trump and Tillerson openly condemned the Houthis in ways the Obama administration never had. Trump praised Saudi Arabia for taking “strong action against Houthi militants in Yemen,” and claimed Iran was to blame for the war.

Tillerson was more explicit, declaring the Houthis “have to know they cannot sustain this fight. They have to know that they will never—they will never prevail militarily. But they’re only going to feel that when they feel the resistance militarily, so it’s important we keep the pressure on them.” In other words, bomb and starve Yemen into submission, forcing the Houthis to surrender to a “political settlement” on U.S.-Saudi terms.

Yemen Starving—U.S.-Saudi Arabia Threaten Famine

Trump’s trip took place as Saudi Arabia has been threatening to bomb or invade the Houthi-controlled Red Sea port of Hodeida, where between 70-80 percent of Yemen’s food and relief aid is delivered. Any such attack could drive between 100,000 and 500,000 of the city’s one million people from their homes. Even worse, it would escalate the cholera crisis and threaten the entire country with starvation: “With any closure, we’d almost certainly have a famine in just a few months,” Oxfam warns.

The U.S.-backed Saudi war has already killed thousands and turned life into a desperate hell for millions of Yemenis. Now the Trump/Pence regime’s expressions of full U.S. backing for the Saudi-led war, and their sale of $110 billion in arms to the kingdom, could be a green light for a Saudi attack against Hodeida. That would mean even greater Saudi atrocities, perhaps reaching genocidal proportions!

This criminal war must be exposed, condemned, and STOPPED, as part of driving the fascist Trump/Pence regime from power!

 

       

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/493/saudi-arabia-pillar-of-us-imperialism-kingdom-of-medieval-barbarism-en.html

Revolution #493 May 29, 2017

Saudi Arabia: Pillar of U.S. Imperialism,
Kingdom of Medieval Barbarism

May 29, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

In Saudi Arabia, Donald Trump addressed a collection of murderous thugs otherwise known as U.S. allies and said they were not involved in a “battle between different faiths, different sects or different civilizations.” Instead, speaking of the U.S.’s war on “extremism” and “terror,” Trump declared, “This is a battle between barbaric criminals, who seek to obliterate human life, and decent people … that want to protect life and want to protect their religion. This is a battle between good and evil.”

Barbaric criminals? Good and evil? Let’s look at the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia itself, which Trump has effusively praised and where those words were spoken. And let’s look into why the U.S. has been so determined to maintain the Saudi kingdom.

Ruthless, Medieval Tyranny

During Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia, his secretary of commerce, Wilbur Ross, marveled at the lack of protest, saying he found it “fascinating” that he did not see “a single hint of a protester anywhere there during the whole time we were there. Not one guy with a bad placard.”

Why not? Because Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy run by the Saud family. The overwhelming majority of people living in Saudi Arabia have no political rights whatsoever—no elections, no political parties, no civic or political organizations, no free speech. Violating these strictures can lead to flogging, jail or death. Attorneys and bloggers have been jailed for advocating human rights. “Saudi Arabia has one of the highest execution rates in the world,” Democracy Now! reports. “Scores of people are killed each year after being convicted of various nonviolent charges that range from adultery, apostasy, drug use and sorcery. The executions are usually carried out by public beheading.” In 2016, at least 150 people were executed, most by beheading.

This fascistic autocracy is undergirded and legitimized by an extreme, medieval form of Sunni Islamic fundamentalism—Wahhabism—which not only forbids opposition to the ruling order, but bans all other religions, and sanctions the repression of non-Muslims and the Shi’a Muslim minority. In Saudi Arabia, atheism is a crime punishable by death.

Gender Apartheid and the Patriarchal Enslavement of Women

A key pillar of Wahhabism and Saudi society is the systematic, patriarchal enslavement of women. They are treated as minors subject to male authority for their entire life under Saudi Arabia’s “guardianship” system. That means women cannot make their own decisions about marriage, school, traveling, or any other important matters in their lives. Women are systematically segregated from men throughout Saudi society in what has been called “gender apartheid.” Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that bans women from driving. In Saudi Arabia female “disobedience” is a crime. 

“The patriarchal and extreme Saudi mentality views women as property which belongs to the state and the family,” one Saudi activist told a New York Times contributor. The writer described what happens to some women who’ve tried to escape from forced, abusive marriages: they have been kidnapped, dragged onto planes and flown back to Saudi Arabia, some with their mouths taped shut and arms and legs bound, and put into detention. “Most horrific is that once a woman is locked in any state institution,” she said, “she won’t be released unless into the custody of a male relative or else she will stay in the prison or state shelter forever.” The writer concludes that “Saudi Arabia isn’t just a conservative country with different values we shouldn’t judge. It is a modern Gilead” [depicted in The Handmaid’s Tale].

Key Cog in U.S. Imperialist Empire… Exporting Barbarism & Medieval Fundamentalism

Saudi Arabia has been and remains a crucial cog in the U.S. imperialist empire, as Trump’s recent visit demonstrated. 

Saudi Arabia is the world’s leading oil exporter with the world’s largest reserves. It plays a critical role in America’s ability to dominate world economics and finance. It occupies a crucial location near key global trade and transit routes. And Saudi Arabia has been a key facilitator for the U.S. empire—including propping up shaky U.S. clients, helping derail anti-imperialist struggle, and directly facilitating many U.S. wars, military assaults, coups, and interventions around the world.

Saudi Arabia exports its barbaric, Wahhabist religion across the globe, spending an estimated $4 billion a year promoting and spreading it by funding publications, preachers, schools (madrassas), and mosques. This has created contradictions for U.S. imperialism, particularly with the spread of fundamentalist Islamic Jihad and groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda, whose outlook and program are outgrowths of Wahhabism and which have received direct support from Saudi Arabia.

There have also been times in U.S. imperialism’s ruthless quest to maintain its dominance when it found it useful to tacitly ally with or support these heinous jihadist forces, and to work secretly with the Saudis to fund, back, and arm them. This took place in Afghanistan during the 1980s when the U.S., Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan armed reactionary mujahideen fighters (who later formed al-Qaeda and the Taliban) to wage war against the Soviet Union, which had invaded the country. (Socialism was defeated in the Soviet Union in the mid-1950s, and it had become an imperialist rival of the U.S.) And it’s taking place now during the ongoing Syrian civil war, when the U.S., Saudi Arabia, and Qatar have covertly armed al-Qaeda and perhaps ISIS fighters.1

These are the reasons the U.S. hasn’t only tolerated the Saudi royal family’s tyrannical grip on power—it has welcomed, supported, and pledged to militarily defend it.

U.S. support for Saudi Arabia is a stark example of how U.S. imperialism is incapable of “doing good” in the world. The workings of their global system of exploitation and oppression demand that the U.S. rulers support the most barbaric regimes on earth.

1. In one email later leaked to the press, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton wrote that the Saudis and Qatar were “providing clandestine financial and logistic support to [the Islamic State] and other radical Sunni groups in the region.” [back]



       

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/493/new-york-courageous-protest-confronts-emergence-of-fascist-goon-squad-en.html

Revolution #493 May 29, 2017

New York: Courageous Protest Confronts Emergence of Fascist Goon Squad

May 29, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

By a member of the New York City chapter of Refuse Fascism

On May 25, the face of fascism came to New York. Almost two hundred fascist thugs rallied in a two hour rain in front of the City University of New York (CUNY) administrative offices. As part of a reactionary campaign they have launched on the airwaves and online, they demanded that the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy rescind its invitation to Linda Sarsour to give the school’s commencement speech on June 1. Linda describes herself as a Palestinian-American-Muslim civil rights activist. She has played a role in challenging the NYPD’s systematic spying on mosques in New York City. She is National Co-Chair of the Women’s March. The fascists have been spreading lies that Linda Sarsour is anti-Semitic and supports Islamic terrorism against Israel. They have spread lies and distortions to confuse people, attempting to equate criticism of Zionism and Israel with anti-Semitism. In opposition to this reactionary campaign, a half dozen Hassidic Jews came with a banner that said “Linda Sarsour Is A Friend To Jews”.

A Campaign of Death Threats and Harassment

Fascist forces have orchestrated a campaign of harassment and death threats against Sarsour. The New York Times reports that, “She has hired two private bodyguards to accompany her to public events.” Why? Because, as the Times reports, “Linda Sarsour ... says the messages have been arriving by the hour recently. ‘Your time is coming.’ ‘A good Arab is a dead Arab.’ ‘You’re getting two bullets in your head.’” These are the same fascist forces who cry and whine about the right of free speech of their intellectual hit men and women like Milo Yiannopoulos, Ann Coulter, and David Horowitz being denied by people righteously driving them off college campuses, to prevent the Nazification of the universities and the real shutting down of free speech and crushing of dissent. Online, these fascist shock troops have been calling for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and anti-terror squads to disappear Sarsour—demonstrating that they either overtly overlap with the state and its fascist institutions, or at least consciously recognize it is their biggest ally.

The rally on May 25 may have been the largest gathering of rabid anti-Muslim Trump/Pence fascists in New York City since the election of Trump. Even if it wasn’t, it was the most threatening and bloodthirsty. The crowd was a toxic brew of white supremacists, orthodox Zionists, Jews for Trump, The Modern Patriots, The Proud Boys, a few motorcycle bikers, Milo Yiannopoulos fans, and others. Their rally was in a pen in the street along the sidewalk, while counter-protesters were in another pen along the side of the building, with a sidewalk between the two pens. Throughout the rally, about 20 of the fascists, overwhelmingly young people, walked back and forth on the sidewalk jeering and at times threatening people.

Of note, this group of 20 included a significant number of Black and Latino youths. The openly anti-Black racism of Trump’s supporters seemed to be toned down for the day—to focus on attacking Muslims and Linda Sarsour in particular. Throughout the rally the crowd chanted “USA, USA” and screamed their hatred for Muslims. From the moment that Refuse Fascism arrived, these fascists were belligerent, getting up in the face of a much smaller crowd of counter-protesters, including people from Refuse Fascism and Workers World Party. These thugs were shoving people and tearing up their signs. The two hours we were there to politically confront their open threats of violence against anyone that opposes the crimes of the fascist Trump/Pence regime were extremely tense.

Infamous misogynist, racist and Muslim basher Milo Yiannopoulos was the featured speaker. Pamela Geller, who has made a career out of demonizing Muslims, was the MC at times. A whole host of other fascists spoke. Democratic New York Assemblyman Dov Hikind, currently a Democratic New York Assemblyman and former member of the “Jewish Defense League,” terrorist thugs who threatened and murdered opponents of Israel’s crimes against Palestinians, was a featured speaker.

The New York Daily News reported that “a small group of demonstrators chanting ‘Make America Great Again’ surrounded and roughed up 19-year-old counter-protester Heather Morris. ‘They tried hitting me with their fists, their sticks, whatever they found,’ Morris said after the fracas on E. 42nd St. at Second Ave.”

In Their Face, Calling Out the Fascists

Refuse Fascism arrived with a huge banner, held high in the air, that read, “NO! In the Name of Humanity, We Refuse to Accept a Fascist America! Drive Out the Trump/Pence Regime!”, and our signs that say the same. We set up across the sidewalk from their stage. We led people in chants of “No Trump! No KKK! No Fascist USA,” “No Ban, No Wall, The Trump Regime Has Got To Fall,” and “No Pussy Grabbing, No Patriarchy, No Fascist USA” and others. To be heard over the noise of the fascists’ sound system, we did mic checks, calling out these fascists for mobilizing to threaten, silence and suppress those that oppose the crimes of the Trump/Pence regime. We called on people to get prepared very soon to pour into the streets in our millions day after day, night after night, not leaving until the fascist Trump/Pence regime is driven from power. When speakers like Milo Yiannopoulos or Pam Geller hypocritically talked about the Muslim oppression of women or the terrorism by Islamists, we would mic check, calling out the sexual assaults on women by Trump and the global gag order on abortion that will mean the deaths of tens of thousands of women around the world.

We talked about the terrorism by the Trump/Pence regime that is tearing immigrant families apart and deporting their loved ones, the terrorism against the Afghan people when the U.S. dropped the Mother of All Bombs, and the terrorism of 59 Tomahawk Cruise Missiles tearing into the Syrian people. The fascists did not like this and immediately assaulted one of our speakers, pushing him and grabbing his sign. But our speaker—and we―did not stop. When Milo Yiannopoulos spewed his anti-Muslim hate, members of the Revolution Club began blowing their whistles. If you watch the speeches of the fascists on Breitbart, pretty consistently you can hear the anti-fascist protest chanting loudly, sometimes you can even distinguish the chants.

Very significantly, as this reactionary attack on Linda Sarsour developed, CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy issued a statement that they were not going to disinvite Linda to speak at their commencement. This is very good and people should have their back and recognize that fascist campaigns like this will no doubt have a chilling effect on what radical and progressive voices are invited to speak on college campuses. A lot of groups and progressive people tweeted with the hashtag, #IStandWithLinda, which has been important in rallying people to stand against this reactionary campaign.

A Menacing Development, the Need for Massive Opposition

The rally by these fascists in New York City is an ominous new development in demonizing and criminalizing Muslims, silencing those who speak out against the crimes of the Trump/Pence regime, and violently attacking those who protest against it. It advances the organization and coherence of a fascist people, willing to mindlessly go out and violently suppress those seen as an obstacle to the fascist Trump/Pence regime. In his campaign, Trump encouraged his supporters to punch anti-Trump protesters in the face, offered to pay their bail, and longed for the day when protesters would be carried out on stretchers. This rally is part of a dangerous wave of mobilization of the Trump/Pence base, including a KKK-style torchlight rally in Virginia against the removal of a Confederate statue, hundreds of fascist thugs massing in Berkeley to assault anti-Trump protesters, and the online attack against Refuse Fascism by networks of “alt-right” fascists (See RefuseFascism.org Calls for Mass Defiance of Fascist Trolls). These campaigns directly serve the Trump/Pence fascist regime. They are aimed at intimidating, silencing, and even unleashing harm against those who have the courage to stand up and say NO!

Milo Yiannopoulos and other speakers tried to portray themselves as the great upholders of freedom of speech, and claimed they are the victims of having their free speech denied. This totally turns reality upside down. In excerpts of Milo’s speech, posted on Breitbart News, he says, “In America you don’t have an open marketplace of ideas, because the massed ranks of the establishment media, academia, and the entertainment industry are set up to condemn conservative and libertarian points of view as hateful, bigoted, and oppressive. They are none of those things. And so one of the real enemies here isn’t just ordinary Muslims. It isn’t Linda Sarsour. The bigger enemy, and the enemy to American freedom has always been from within. The enemy here are the progressive elites who run the entertainment industry, academia, and the media in this country.”

Note that he says the enemy “isn’t just ordinary Muslims”. Despite the denials of many of their speakers, he is saying the enemy IS all ordinary Muslims, as well as the “elites” he goes on to describe. And his crowd went crazy for it. This reveals the bloodlust that really drives them... and their claim of “free speech” is just a quasi-intellectual dressing they put on it, to make it more palatable to the broad world. But they are not only the biggest enemies of real freedom of expression, they are the proponents of the most vile and genocidal program which their thug now in power is moving each day to make real.

Refuse Fascism wrote about this very development in its Call to Action: “Fascism foments and relies on xenophobic nationalism, racism, misogyny, and the aggressive re-institution of 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.... What is crucial to understand is fascism once in power essentially moves to eliminate traditional democratic rights.”

Again, this was an ominous new development. And to be blunt, way too few people came out to oppose this fascist mob. Hundreds, if not thousands of people should have been there to say, “NO! In the Name of Humanity, We Refuse to Accept a Fascist America! Drive Out the Trump/Pence Regime!” The Trump/Pence regime is rapidly moving every day to impose and consolidate fascism. The organization and coherence of a fascist people as the shock troops who violently attack, suppress and silence all they see as obstacles is a vital part of this regime consolidating fascism. This cannot be allowed to happen again without an outpouring of people to politically shut down these fascist mobs.

 

       

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/493/erupting-from-the-fascist-swamp-murderous-violence-on-an-oregon-commuter-train-en.html

Revolution #493 May 29, 2017

Erupting from the Fascist Swamp—
Murderous Violence on an Oregon Commuter Train

May 29, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Friday, May 26, 2017. Portland, Oregon. Two teenage women riding the train. Without provocation, a white man starts spewing putrid racist shit on these young women, and yelling at them to get out of the country. Apparently because one of the women is wearing a hijab.

Hey people, take note of what is erupting from the swamp of Trump/Pence Amerikkka.

At least two passengers on the train could not allow this to stand. They intervened. They absolutely did the right thing.

The racist turned on them. He stabbed and murdered two of them, 23-year-old Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche and 53-year-old Ricky John Best, and injured a third. Then he ran. He was later arrested and has been charged with the murders.

There is a rising tide of violence by fascist minions around the country, unleashed by the words and actions of the Trump/Pence regime. The racist in this case has been actively part of the increasingly violent white supremacist movement in the area for some time. Not long ago he showed up at a so-called “Free Speech March” (demanding free speech for fascists!) draped in an Amerikkkan flag, and with a baseball bat.

So yes, take note of what is erupting from the fascist swamp of Trump/Pence Amerikkka, without illusions, and let’s act accordingly.

Namkai-Meche’s family said in a statement “We lost him in a senseless act that brought close to home the insidious rift of prejudice and intolerance that is too familiar, too common. In his final act of bravery, he held true to what he believed is the way forward. He will live in our hearts forever as the just, brave, loving, hilarious and beautiful soul he was. We ask that in honor of his memory, we use this tragedy as an opportunity for reflection and change. We choose love.” His mother told the press her son is a hero, a “shining bright star.”

There are many strains of resistance these days, on campuses, trains, and city streets, among academia and the sciences, and in culture. These matter a great deal. Here’s what else matters a great deal: the resistance so far is not sufficient to solve the problem we face. These assaults on humanity will keep coming, keep intensifying, unless and until we succeed in driving the fascist regime itself from power, and that is the task we have to put ourselves to. The Call to Action from RefuseFascism.org says:

Millions of people, outraged by this regime, took to the streets delivering a stinging rebuke to Trump the day after the inauguration. Protest and resistance continues against the many attacks on the people by the Trump/Pence administration. This must grow broader, deeper, and more determined. This resistance is righteous and necessary, but it is not sufficient. We must recognize that the character of fascism is that it can absorb separate acts of resistance while continually throwing the opposition off balance by rapidly moving its agenda forward. The Trump/Pence regime will repeatedly launch new highly repressive measures, eventually clamping down on all resistance and remaking the law... IF THEY ARE NOT DRIVEN FROM POWER.

Hey people. Take note. Join the thousands who have signed the RefuseFascism.org Call to Action. Pick up the spirit of Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche and Ricky John Best; the students protesting on colleges across the country, including those who have shut down fascists on their campuses; those who have taken to the streets to march for women, for science, for the climate; those who are out to prevent the fascist assault on the legacy of Berkeley... But let’s take this and fully do what humanity demands of us: Let’s act now to bring this to the point where the whole Trump/Pence regime is driven from power.

In the name of humanity.

       

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/492/support-hunger-strike-of-california-folsom-prisoners-en.html

Revolution #493 May 29, 2017

Support the Hunger Strike of California Folsom Prisoners

Updated June 12, 2017 | Originally posted May 27, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Update:

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network issued a statement on June 1 in support of the Folsom prisoners’ hunger strike. The strike began on May 25, reportedly with 59 prisoners of different races/nationalities participating. The statement said in part that “Samidoun expresses its strongest support for the strikers and their demands, and for the struggle in the United States against racist oppression and mass incarceration. We salute those fighting for their lives and human dignity in a prison system based on racism, injustice and exploitation.”

There were protests on June 4 by prisoners’ family members and activists in front of Folsom prison and at Twin Towers Jail in Los Angeles to draw attention to and broader support for the strike. Prison officials had spread misinformation that the strike had ended as of June 1, but family members said it was still in effect as of June 4 and that some strikers were determined to continuing even as two of the main organizers had been transferred to other facilities.

The hunger strikers issued their 9 demands upon initiation of the strike as follows:

Adequate access to courts and legal assistance; meaningful education, self-help courses and rehabilitative programs; possession of TVs; exercise equipment and meaningful exercise in the yard; end cruelty, noise and sleep deprivation of welfare checks; keep original proper packaging for commissary and canteen; non-disciplinary status to qualifying prisoners; adequate and appropriate clothing and shoes; food bowls and cups.

A family member said on June 4 that with the Trump/Pence regime (and their attorney general, Jeff Sessions), “People need to start waking up. Folsom is just a small part of what’s going on all over this country. We need to demand change. This is an emergency.” She shared that she lives in daily fear of getting a phone call that her husband has been murdered in prison. Another family member described the dehumanizing and dangerous denial of medical care to her husband and said that her husband “is a different person” than when he went into prison, having developed empathy for others. She noted, “People change [only] if they are given the resources to transition back into society instead of how they are set up to fail” by the current prison system.

~~~~~~~~~~

Courageous prisoners of B4 Administrative Segregation Unit (ASU) at the Folsom State Prison in California began a hunger strike on May 25. A Statement from Prisoners released through their relatives said this protest is “in response to ongoing mistreatment, dehumanization and unbearable living conditions.” These conditions include not being given bowls so prisoners are forced to eat food out of ziplock bags instead, not being given cups so prisoners have to drink water out of old milk cartons, no cleaning supplies for toilets or cells, no rehab or education programs, no TVs or any property, and mail withheld up to a month or longer with no reason provided.

The statement calling for support said in part:

Hunger strikes are a last resort, a measure taken by those who truly have no other way out. They often come with high risks and heavy costs to prisoners. Incarcerated people commonly face disciplinary actions, retaliation by prison officials, abuse and further denial of their basic human rights during hunger strikes—simply for exercising their free will and resisting their mistreatment.

California prisoners had braved several hunger strikes before. The authorities had promised some improvements in conditions in exchange for an end to the struggle. The first hunger strike began in July 2011 and demanded an end to long term solitary confinement. It was initiated and led by prisoners in California’s notorious Pelican Bay Segregated Housing Unit (SHU). During that first strike, there were reportedly at one point 6,600 prisoners participating; the second later in 2011 was said to have drawn in 12,000; and the third in 2013 reportedly drew in 30,000—each strike grew statewide.

The statement asks the painful yet indicting question:

Why must California prisoners continue to sacrifice health and life, involve lawyers and courts, in order to be treated like human beings?

This question hits at the deep injustices and outrages faced by prisoners in California and elsewhere: prisoners brutalized, dehumanized, and caged up in this country of mass incarceration—and it demands an answer.

Support the Folsom prison hunger strikers--info here.



       

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/492/chicago-spectator-charged-with-contempt-of-court-for-snapping-his-fingers-en.html

Revolution #493 May 29, 2017

Another Outrage in Chicago:
Spectator Charged With Contempt of Court for Snapping His Fingers

May 27, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Bail was set at $40,000 for a man charged with contempt of court after he snapped his fingers in support of a Chicago judge’s decision not to drop the charge of first-degree murder on the pig who murdered Laquan McDonald.

For readers not familiar with this case: in October 2014, 17-year-old Laquan McDonald was shot 16 times by Chicago pig Jason Van Dyke, seconds after Van Dyke arrived on the scene. Other pigs then confiscated a video from a business at the scene that showed what had really happened, beginning a year long coverup. This case was made famous by Vic Mensa’s song “16 Shots” and by an outpouring of several months of protests in Chicago starting in November of 2015 when the video, which went viral, of the murder was finally released 13 months after the murder occurred.

This is the first time in 35 years that an on-duty pig in Chicago has been charged with murder. On May 25, spectators packed the courtroom for a hearing in this case. No forms of protest were allowed in court. After being searched and walked through metal detectors to enter the courthouse, people had to do this again to enter the courtroom. Revolution Club members even had to cover their BA SPEAKS—REVOLUTION, NOTHING LESS! T-shirts to enter.

At the hearing, Van Dyke’s attorney filed a motion to get the first-degree murder charge dropped, arguing, “On October 20, 2014 when this shooting took place, this was business as usual.” The attorney went on to say that Laquan McDonald was walking away from the police holding a knife, and that “The legislators who created this law told police officers, in this situation you can shoot ‘em. Not only can you shoot ’em, it’s your duty to shoot ’em. You have to prevent the escape of this dangerous armed individual.”

The judge has been running this courtroom with an iron fist, and that fist came down hard on a school teacher who snapped his fingers when the judge ruled against Van Dyke’s attorney’s motion to drop the murder charges. The judge called the teacher up to the bench to explain his actions. When the teacher turned toward pig Van Dyke and answered, “To see a racist murderer on trial, a racist killer,” he was immediately jailed, and bail was set at $40,000.

The defiant outpourings of protest after the release of the video of the murder of Laquan McDonald shook the city. Further protests followed, including several nights last summer where youths took to the streets in South Shore after the police murder of 18-year-old Paul O’Neal. Protests in response to the murder of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, involved mass arrests, and at least one person still faces multiple felony charges. Two people, including a member of the Revolution Club, are still facing felony charges from arrests around Mike Brown’s murder in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014. The release of the Justice Department’s scathing report on the Chicago Police Department, in January of this year, stung those in power. They are cracking down and fighting to keep struggle contained. The judge’s outrageous ruling against the teacher is part of this assault and must be opposed.



       

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/avakian/science/ba-science...revolution-excerpt-cultural-revolution-within-RCP-en.html

Revolution #493 May 29, 2017

The Science...Actual Revolution title image

Download PDF of entire work

Excerpt from the section:
The Cultural Revolution Within the RCP

Editors' note: The following is an excerpt from the new work by Bob Avakian, The New Communism. In addition to excerpts already posted on revcom.us, we will be running further excerpts from time to time on both revcom.us and in Revolution newspaper. These excerpts should serve as encouragement and inspiration for people to get into the work as a whole, which is available as a book from Insight Press. A prepublication copy is available on line at revcom.us.

This excerpt comes from part of the section titled "The Cultural Revolution Within the RCP," and is accompanied by the Table of Contents for the work as a whole.

From the section:
The Cultural Revolution Within the RCP

Hear a reading of this excerpt

Now, here, let me speak to the question: Why was I doing the work I was doing? Once again, we’re back to for whom and for what. I wasn’t doing this work for myself. When I was young, in middle school and then even more so in high school, my life got changed in a very major way by coming into contact with people that I hadn’t really known that much before, in particular Black people. I started learning about their situation and how that relates to what goes on in this society as a whole. I was drawn to the culture—not just the music and the art overall, but the whole way of going through the world—of the Black people who became my friends, and the world they introduced me to. And I came to the point of recognizing: these are my people. Now, I knew they had a different life experience than I did. But these are my people—I don’t see a separation—it’s not like there are some other people “over there” who are going through all this and somehow that’s removed from me. These are my people. And then I began to recognize more deeply what people were being put through, the oppression they were constantly subjected to, the horrors of daily life as well as the bigger ways in which the system came down on them. And as I went further through life and began to approach the question of what needs to be done about this, and was introduced to taking up a scientific approach to this, I realized that my people were more than this. I realized that my people were Chicanos and other Latinos and other oppressed people in the U.S.; they were people in Vietnam and China; they were women...they were the oppressed and exploited of the world...and through some struggle, and having to cast off some wrong thinking, I have learned that they are LGBT people as well.

These are my people, the oppressed and exploited people of the world. They are suffering terribly, and something has to be done about this. So it is necessary to dig in and systematically take up the science that can show the way to put an end to all this, and bring something much better into being. You have to persevere and keep struggling to go forward in this way. And when you run into new problems or setbacks, you have to go more deeply into this, rather than putting it aside and giving up.

Contents

Publisher's Note

Introduction and Orientation

Foolish Victims of Deceit, and Self-Deceit

Part I. Method and Approach, Communism as a Science

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

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

The “4 Alls”
Beyond the Narrow Horizon of Bourgeois Right
Socialism as an Economic System and a Political System—And a Transition to Communism
Internationalism
Abundance, Revolution, and the Advance to Communism—A Dialectical Materialist Understanding
The Importance of the “Parachute Point”—Even Now, and Even More With An Actual Revolution
The Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America
   Solid Core with a Lot of Elasticity on the Basis of the Solid Core
Emancipators of Humanity

Part III. The Strategic Approach to An Actual Revolution

One Overall Strategic Approach
Hastening While Awaiting
Forces For Revolution
Separation of the Communist Movement from the Labor Movement, Driving Forces for Revolution
National Liberation and Proletarian Revolution
The Strategic Importance of the Struggle for the Emancipation of Women
The United Front under the Leadership of the Proletariat
Youth, Students and the Intelligentsia
Struggling Against Petit Bourgeois Modes of Thinking, While Maintaining the Correct Strategic Orientation
The “Two Maximizings”
The “5 Stops”
The Two Mainstays
Returning to "On the Possibility of Revolution"
Internationalism—Revolutionary Defeatism
Internationalism and an International Dimension
Internationalism—Bringing Forward Another Way
Popularizing the Strategy
Fundamental Orientation

Part IV. The Leadership We Need

The Decisive Role of Leadership
A Leading Core of Intellectuals—and the Contradictions Bound Up with This
Another Kind of “Pyramid”
The Cultural Revolution Within the RCP
The Need for Communists to Be Communists
A Fundamentally Antagonistic Relation—and the Crucial Implications of That
Strengthening the Party—Qualitatively as well as Quantitatively
Forms of Revolutionary Organization, and the “Ohio”
Statesmen, and Strategic Commanders
Methods of Leadership, the Science and the “Art” of Leadership
Working Back from “On the Possibility”—
   Another Application of “Solid Core with a Lot of Elasticity on the Basis of the Solid Core”

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

Appendix 2:
Framework and Guidelines for Study and Discussion

Notes

Selected List of Works Cited

About the Author

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/493/stop-trump-pence-regimes-attacks-on-lgbtq-people-en.html

Revolution #493 May 29, 2017

NO! Stop Trump/Pence Regime's Attacks on LGBTQ People

May 29, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

The Trump/Pence regime came to power with Christian fascist “traditional values” at the core. Those values deny the rights, and humanity, of LGBTQ people. The first 100 days of the regime have seen very ominous moves to impose that Dark Ages agenda.

Ominous Moves in the First 100 Days

Mike Pence told Congress in 2006 that gay marriage was a sign of “societal collapse.” Trump’s attorney general, Jeff Sessions, introduced a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. During the campaign, Trump told Fox News that he would “strongly consider” appointing Supreme Court judges who would overturn the 2015 Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s confirmed appointee to the Supreme Court, was vetted and promoted by Christian fundamentalist theocrats who are hell-bent on banning gay marriage. And Gorsuch has a record of upholding the “right” of not just individuals, but corporations, to invoke their religious beliefs to discriminate.

Besides Pence himself, the Trump/Pence regime has installed viciously anti-gay Christian fascists in key positions of power: Ben Carson, Roger Severino, Rick Perry, and Tom Price. Trump’s former nominee for secretary of the army, Mark Green, has called transgender people “evil.”

And the regime is quietly implementing a whole range of attacks on LGBTQ equality, including overturning existing mechanisms for documenting anti-LGBTQ discrimination in employment. (See “Why Donald Trump’s Second 100 Days Will Be Even Worse For LGBTQ Equality” by Michelangelo Signorile, Huffington Post, May 1, 2017.)

Trump supports the so-called First Amendment Defense Act, which protects people’s “right” to discriminate against LGBTQ people, as long as they have a religious motivation. (As Indiana governor, Mike Pence pushed through a similar bill, The Religious Freedom Restoration Act.) Today that means landlords could legally refuse to rent to gays, employers could fire them, etc., by claiming that homosexuality violates their religious beliefs.

Nazi-like Demonization of LGBTQ People

The Trump/Pence regime backed North Carolina laws (“SB-2” and another law the followed with the same basic content) that force trans girls to use boys bathrooms in school, and vice versa. This assault was framed with outrageous lies that claimed ending discrimination against trans youths in schools would unleash male predators to attack girls in school bathrooms—lies that ominously parallel how the Nazis demonized Jewish people.

According to one study, 30 percent of transgender students have a history of at least one suicide attempt. Dehumanizing attacks like SB-2 can only make that situation worse. Beyond that, attacks on trans youth are a cutting edge and wedge for more sweeping attacks—a rallying cry for fascists who insist that granting basic equality to LGBTQ people is “imposing the gay agenda on society.”

Significantly, Trump’s spokespeople insist his support for SB-2 is “a states’ rights issue.” In the history of this country the invocation of “states’ rights” has been a mode through which the most backward, ignorant, prejudiced sections of U.S. society have been mobilized to attack the struggle for equality for Black people. And to justify the oppression of Black people. Parallels are undeniable.

Setting the Stage for Much Worse

The Trump/Pence regime represents ruling class forces for whom driving LGBTQ people back into the closet, and worse, is an indispensable part of “Making America Great Again.” They have unearthed and mobilized the ugliest, darkest creatures in society behind viciously imposing “traditional values.”

All attacks on LGBTQ rights must be met with not just outrage, but defiance. At the same time, people have to come to grips with the reality that the whole direction and momentum of this regime is aimed at violently imposing a repressive society in which, among other horrors, LGBTQ people’s rights and their very humanity will be ground under the bulldozer of “Making America Great Again.” The Trump/Pence regime will move to do that... as long as it remains in power.

Each June, Gay Pride events in cities and towns across the U.S. and around the world celebrate pride and defiance. This year, in the age of Trump and Pence, they take on particular import and significance. Many forces, coming from different perspectives, are calling for protest and resistance. And in some cities, Refuse Fascism is calling for contingents to bring the message: In the Name of Humanity, We REFUSE to Accept a Fascist America! Drive Out the Trump/Pence Regime!

Connect with those contingents at refusefascism.org.



       

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/493/stop-trump-pence-reign-of-terror-against-immigrants-en.html

Revolution #493 May 29, 2017

Stop the Trump-Pence Reign of Terror Against Immigrants

May 30, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Today, in this country—over 400 people will be ripped away from their lives, families, and jobs by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). People getting ready for work. People taking their kids to school. People reporting to authorities like they’re required to. This has been happening every day since the Trump/Pence regime was inaugurated.

A few of the many incidents: Five men arrested in Lawrence, Massachusetts, when they reported for routine immigration hearings... A young woman in Mississippi arrested after she spoke at a press conference to denounce the unjust arrests of her parents... an ICE raid in Portland, Oregon, that swept away a youth at his home after he showed agents his work permit... 26 men in Fort Worth, Texas, busted by ICE when they reported for community service.

One of Trump’s first acts as president was to issue an executive order prioritizing “the removal of immigrants in the country illegally,” regardless of supposed criminal records. This puts 11 million people in the middle of the government’s bull’s eye. Beyond that—tens of millions live under the constant fear that their parents, siblings, friends, schoolmates, and co-workers could be snatched away at any moment.

The Trump Era

During the Obama years, 2.7 million people were deported, and he was rightly called the “deporter in chief.” The Trump/Pence regime is on a pace to eclipse that despicable record. An ICE report indicated that 41,300 people were arrested for deportation between January 22 and April 29—a rise of almost 40 percent from the year before.

It’s not just the numbers of people being arrested that makes this sustained, escalating assault fascist. Trump’s measures are deliberately aimed at terrorizing all immigrants, and many citizens and legal residents—anyone who any ICE agent claims may be “illegal.” Tens of millions of people whose language, accent, clothing, or any damn thing a cop thinks “suspect.” Jeff Sessions, Trump’s attorney general, declared: “This is a new era. This is the Trump era.”

This is fascist repression. It is laying the groundwork for possible ethnic cleansing. It is a linchpin of the entire Trump/Pence program. Tens of thousands arrested, millions threatened directly, tens of millions more terrorized by the escalating clampdown. Made to live under a constant state of terror that at any moment they or their loved ones could be snatched away, forever. Couples have quit jobs and are making sure they never leave their home together, so if one gets arrested, the other is still with the kids... for now. There are people like Silvia Avelar-Flores, a 31-year-old mother of three, picked up by ICE while shopping with her eight-year-old daughter in a Salt Lake City suburb. Or Leandro Arriaga, in the U.S. for 16 years making a living by remodeling homes, arrested in Lawrence, Massachusetts, when he went to an immigration office to begin a process of legalization. People who are here one day, gone the next.

Today, everyone in this country confronts a challenge: Are you going to stand by, find a way to accommodate yourself to these atrocities happening in our midst, and accept the fascists’ deceitful justifications? Or are you going to enter into determined political struggle to put an end to this? The attacks on immigrants must be stopped, this entire fascist agenda must be defeated, and this fascist regime must be driven from power.

At the same time, our sights must be set on making an actual revolution; only revolution can put an end to the inhuman oppression of immigrants and all the other horrors of this system. White supremacy and brutal exploitation of immigrants are sewn into the fabric of this capitalist-imperialist system—and only a revolution that brings about a radically new society with a whole new economic system, politics, and relations between people can lead to the fundamental changes needed. There is a strategy for this revolution and a way to defeat those who rule over us. And Bob Avakian has brought forward a vision and plan for this new society: the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America. Get into this radical step into a profoundly liberating future!

 

       

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/493/unrepentant-freedom-fighter-honored-at-puerto-rican-day-parade-en.html

Revolution #493 May 29, 2017

As Puerto Rico Boils in Crisis...

Unrepentant Freedom Fighter Honored at Puerto Rican Day Parade

May 31, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

On June 11, the 60th National Puerto Rican Day Parade will step off on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue—and at the head of the parade will be Oscar López Rivera, a fighter for Puerto Rican national liberation who was recently released after 36 years in prison. López Rivera and the parade will be greeted by over a million spectators—Puerto Ricans and others who celebrate the rich culture and determined spirit of Puerto Rican people which has been forged over centuries in the face of vicious colonial oppression, at the hands of first Spain and then the United States.

In fact, even as people parade in New York City, Puerto Rico is erupting in resistance to the financial catastrophe imposed on the island as a result of U.S. colonial domination. (See “A History of Super-Exploitation and Vicious Domination: Bloodsucking, Blackmail, and Bullshit: The U.S. Forces Puerto Rico to the Wall” to understand the true roots, causes, and solution to this crisis.) Students have occupied the University of Puerto Rico, with hundreds sleeping in tents and guarding the gates on campus. Thousands of workers and others have struck and taken to the streets, sometimes clashing with police. These actions are a response to the closing of 190 schools, to the university having its government funding cut in half, to hospitals having their electricity cut off, to workers’ and retirees’ pensions and wages being slashed. This crisis is driving tens of thousands, especially educated people, to flee their homeland just to survive.

While the origins of this crisis begin with the colonial conquest of Puerto Rico, and while the Obama administration played its part in digging imperialism’s claws deeper into Puerto Rico, things have intensified under Trump. Trump rails against a so-called “bailout” of Puerto Rico—referring to any measures to prevent a humanitarian disaster there. After Democrats claimed that they had squeezed out $295 million to sustain Medicaid payments for Puerto Rico until the end of the year, Trump’s budget director, Mick Mulvaney, bragged that he had blocked this: “You had the Democrats crying out that they got $295 million for Puerto Rico.... We wouldn’t give it to them.”

So with all this, it is quite fitting and righteous that the organizers of the National Puerto Rican Day Parade designated Oscar López Rivera as “National Freedom Hero” and asked him to be at the head of the parade. López Rivera, 74 years old, had been held by the U.S. government as a political prisoner for nearly half his life under torturous conditions, for the “crime” of fighting for the liberation of Puerto Rico from U.S. domination. He was a leader of the Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional (FALN), which was part of a powerful struggle demanding independence and an end to the oppression of Puerto Ricans in the U.S. that erupted in the late ’60s and the 1970s. The U.S. hunted down and arrested many FALN members, charging them with “seditious conspiracy” to overthrow the U.S. government. Rivera stood on revolutionary principle in the face of this. He denounced the trial as “a kangaroo court,” declaring that “Puerto Rico is a colony by U.S. military conquest. Its people live under military rule, under genocide.”

Sentenced to 70 years in jail, Rivera courageously turned down an offer of pardon in 1999 because he felt that the conditions attached to it amounted to renouncing the independence struggle. After another 17 years in jail, his sentence was commuted by Obama, and he was released in January.

The U.S. government labels López Rivera a “terrorist,” saying that he assisted in armed actions in the U.S. López Rivera denied the specific charges, but righteously insisted that: “We are a colonized people, and according to international law, that says all colonized people have a right to struggle for its independence using all methods within reach, including force. That is a right.”

Parade organizers have come under heavy attack for inviting López Rivera. Major corporate sponsors such as Goya foods, Coca-Cola, AT&T, the New York Yankees and the New York Daily News have canceled; politicians like New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and police and firefighters’ organizations have announced they will not march.

The organizers are holding firm in the face of this, and it is clear that they have broad support among Puerto Rican people. One reflection of this is that 35 NYC Council members sent them a letter saying that “Oscar López Rivera represents the voice, tenacity and resolve of Puerto Rico and its people. As countless families continue to struggle in Puerto Rico’s current fiscal crisis, Oscar is a reminder of the hope that has always anchored the Island.... Oscar’s presence will lift people’s spirits and bring attention to the challenges that must be immediately addressed on the Island.”

 


Students have occupied the University of Puerto Rico, with hundreds sleeping in tents and guarding the gates on campus. Thousands of workers and others have struck and taken to the streets, sometimes clashing with police.   Above, May 1st, 2017 march in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

 

       

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/493/a-history-of-super-exploitation-and-vicious-domination-en.html

Revolution #493 May 29, 2017

A History of Super-Exploitation and Vicious Domination

Bloodsucking, Blackmail, and Bullshit: The U.S. Forces Puerto Rico to the Wall

May 31, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

We are posting this excerpt from a previously posted article in light of the upcoming Puerto Rican Day Parades and the controversy surrounding this year’s parade in New York City.

 

From the way [the financial crisis] has been spun in U.S. media commentary, anyone unfamiliar with the situation would think the U.S. has been a benevolent, if sometimes paternalistic, benefactor of Puerto Rico, one that has allowed its people and government to spend money foolishly. According to this “narrative,” “the people of Puerto Rico have benefited from U.S. generosity that is no longer available in these difficult times, and suffered from corruption of their own officials.” …

All this is complete bullshit that turns reality upside down. In actual fact, U.S. imperialism has sucked the blood of the Puerto Rican people for almost 120 years. …

A Century of Political and Cultural Suppression

In 1898, U.S. military forces invaded and occupied Puerto Rico as part of their triumph over a decaying imperial Spain in the Spanish-American War.

A treaty signed by the U.S. and Spain in December 1898 ended Spain’s colonial domination of Puerto Rico. Immediately upon seizing control, the American occupiers instructed military commanders to make sure the people obeyed U.S. authority.

The military declared in 1898 that using Spanish, the language of the people, in schools and other institutions was illegal. The U.S. banned the national flag of Puerto Rico and jailed anyone caught displaying it. Fifty years later, in 1948, in the face of a growing movement for independence, the U.S.-appointed governor of Puerto Rico signed a law which made it a crime to own or display a Puerto Rican flag, to sing a patriotic Puerto Rican song, to speak or write of independence, or to meet with anyone, or hold any assembly, in favor of Puerto Rican independence. This law remained in force until 1957.

Pedro Albizu Campos, who for decades courageously fought for the independence of Puerto Rico and was the spokesperson for the Puerto Rican Independence Party, was imprisoned for 26 years by the U.S. He was repeatedly tortured and brutalized by prison authorities, and died shortly after he was released from his last imprisonment.

The U.S. Navy established its U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command with bases all over occupied Puerto Rico. For decades, it used the nearby island of Vieques for military exercises, and as a testing ground for explosives. Fierce protest from the people of Puerto Rico finally brought this to an end in 2003.

A Century of Super-Exploitation and Distorted Development

Puerto Rico was developed to serve the interests of U.S. capitalism-imperialism, not to meet the needs of the Puerto Rican people.

Imperialist buyouts forced many small farmers to work on giant plantations in tobacco, coffee, and especially sugar production, which took over much of the best land on this fertile island. By 1934, 80 percent of sugarcane farming in Puerto Rico was owned by U.S. corporations. A study done at that time revealed that Puerto Rican farmers working for the U.S. sugar barons were paid, on average, 12 cents a day for themselves and every member of their family. These pittances forced many people to leave the countryside for the slums of San Juan, as well as New York, Chicago, Boston, and other cities. Many thousands of people in this era worked as super-exploited field hands in agriculture on the U.S. East Coast, then returned to Puerto Rico for the sugar harvest.

After World War 2, the U.S. imposed “Operation Bootstrap” on Puerto Rico. This was a series of initiatives to develop U.S.-owned and -based industries in Puerto Rico. It mandated, among other things, that large numbers of people be forced out of rural areas and into San Juan and other cities.

A scholar who studied Operation Bootstrap reported, “When the constitution of the new Commonwealth of Puerto Rico came into effect, on July 25, 1952, some 152 factories were in operation. The overwhelming majority were consumer goods industries.... They were ‘labor intensive’ industries, for they relied more heavily on labor than on machinery to supply the value added to the raw materials which they imported from the mainland.”

“Labor intensive” means super-exploited: the capitalists forced people to work long hours, at pay well below what similar jobs would pay in the U.S., with restricted benefits and dangerous conditions—all for the “profit intensive” benefit of the exploiters.

Women working out of their homes in needle trades had been the largest single source of “industrial” employment in Puerto Rico in the 1930s, ’40s, and early ’50s. Tens of thousands of women, often with assistance from their children and occasionally their husbands, toiled at one to four cents an hour producing clothing sent to the U.S. and Europe. But even this marginal existence came to an end for tens of thousands, as the capitalists developed even cheaper ways of mass producing clothing in far-flung parts of the world. The dislocation and impoverishment capitalism-imperialism inflicted on so many people in Puerto Rico compelled a large-scale out migration in the 1950s.

Beginning in the late 1960s, pharmaceutical manufacturing behemoths moved into Puerto Rico on a big scale. Companies like Eli Lilly, Johnson & Johnson, and Bristol Myers Squibb were given lucrative federal tax incentives and set up plants on the island, where, again, workers were paid less than in similar jobs in the U.S. But in the late 1990s, the U.S. began phasing out those exemptions, and they ended in 2006. Since then, employment in pharmaceutical manufacturing has shriveled, as the corporate giants searched for new people and lands to exploit.

Generation after generation, millions of Puerto Rican people have created enormous wealth for U.S. imperialism. Now the people are left with an economy that has been utterly devastated, the carcass of which is being sucked dry by parasitic hedge funds. And to add insult to injury—the people of Puerto Rico are called “lazy” by the very parasites who have fattened off them for 120 years!

Outline of a Crisis

Today, global “turbo capitalism” churns across the planet. It has created a worldwide environment in which capitalists restlessly and constantly seek out areas where their investments bring the largest reward. This global situation and decisions taken by the U.S. government, under both Democrats and Republicans, have bled Puerto Rico, undermined and destabilized its economy, and brought the country and its people untold suffering.

Now Puerto Rico is hemorrhaging people, and most of those who remain are afflicted with intensified repression and arrogant contempt by their imperialist overlords. Cuts in funding inflict further restrictions on health care, and a potentially calamitous crisis in public health looms. “These are a cascade of cuts that will have disastrous, gigantic implications,” said the chairman of the Puerto Rico Healthcare Crisis Coalition. “Health care in Puerto Rico is headed for a collapse.”

Official unemployment is 12 percent. In reality, as lawyer Linda Backiel wrote in 2015 in Monthly Review, “Workforce participation hovers at 40 percent, the majority without full time jobs.” With most farmers driven from the land, close to 90 percent of the food in Puerto Rico must be imported today. This, and the fact that U.S. law requires all shipping to and from the island to use American services, means that food is particularly costly in Puerto Rico.

Utility bills in Puerto Rico average more than twice the cost of what they are in the U.S. Soaring utility costs impact the cost of everything, in particular the ability of basic people to survive and obtain lighting, transportation, water, and other life necessities. A woman in San Juan said her community does not have even a basic sewage system. When it rains, water flows into a canal and wastewater backflows into the pipes carrying drinking water, and even floods into their homes.

Most children in Puerto Rico now live in poverty, and 84 percent of them grow up in impoverished communities. Children are suffering even more than the rest of the population because of soaring costs, cutbacks in funding for schools and public health, and steep reduction of all government services.

Ending the Nightmare of Oppression

This nightmare of exploitation and oppression will finally end when the imperialist chains that shackle Puerto Rico are shattered through revolutionary struggle. There is a proud history of resistance of the Puerto Rican people—on the island and in this country. One of the high points in this struggle was the courageous and bold struggles in the 1960s by the Young Lords Party within the U.S. This fighting spirit and struggle needs to be revived, and taken much further—into a fight for revolution based on Bob Avakian’s new synthesis of communism.

 

       

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/493/trump-withdrawal-from-paris-climate-accord-en.html

Revolution #493 May 29, 2017

Trump Regime Withdraws from Paris Climate Accord

Criminal Irresponsibility and Aggression Must Be Defiantly Opposed

June 1, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

President Trump announced the withdrawal of the U.S. from the Paris climate accord on June 1.

Tweet this

To be clear: the accord itself is inadequate to deal with global climate change. Even if the goals of this accord were to be met, that would not actually prevent an environmental catastrophe that could bring the future existence of humanity, and many other species, into question. Further, there are no serious mechanisms to enforce those goals.  And the Trump/Pence regime is already gutting and casting aside regulations and constraints, even with this accord in place. (see here and here)

But that is not why Trump withdrew from the accord. In Trump’s view, and in the view of his most hard-core supporters, even recognizing that there is a problem of global climate change is unacceptable.

This withdrawal is like pouring gasoline on an already raging fire, further cementing the attacks he has made and paving the way for still worse ones. Words cannot capture the depths and dimensions of criminal irresponsibility and aggression that are involved in this act. Aggression both against those now suffering from the effects of global climate change (overwhelmingly concentrated in the oppressed nations of the global south) and against future generations.

This withdrawal from the Paris climate accord must be met with mass defiant actions, and with a determination to DRIVE THIS FASCIST REGIME OUT.

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/493/trump-pence-withdraws-from-paris-climate-accord-en.html

Revolution #493 May 29, 2017

Trump/Pence Regime Withdraws from Paris Climate Accord: Putting "America First"—Torching Humanity's Future

Updated June 5, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Here’s what you need to know about this now: On June 1, Donald Trump announced the U.S. withdrawal from the 2016 Paris climate accord. Under this agreement, 195 countries put forward voluntary targets for reducing their carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. This and other greenhouse gases are the leading cause of global warming, which is already devastating the lives of millions and threatens the future existence of humanity and many other species.

The Paris agreement was drawn up by the U.S. imperialists and other world powers, and comes nowhere close to halting the planet’s environmental crisis. But that’s not why Trump withdrew. He claimed it was because the Paris accord “took advantage” of America, stole its jobs, and hurt its economy. These are lies: America has been the world’s biggest polluter and predator—taking advantage of everyone else. Trump’s withdrawal was really another big move to consolidate fascism.

This move pours gasoline on an already raging fire, cementing his regime’s attacks on the environment and paves the way for even worse ones. It is a horrendous crime against humanity and the planet that must be met with mass defiant actions, and a determination to DRIVE THIS FASCIST REGIME OUT. As people join together in this urgent fight, the question of the roots of the environmental emergency and what kind of society humanity needs to get out of this madness must be part of the dialogue.

* * *

“The United States will withdraw from the Paris climate accord.” With those 10 words, Donald Trump escalated the immediate threat to hundreds of millions, and the grave, existential threat to the future of humanity and many forms of life from human-created global warming.

This crisis is already accelerating at perilous speed: the last three years have been the warmest on record. Seas are rising, glaciers disappearing, and Arctic ice sheets melting. Droughts, flooding, and extreme weather are more frequent. Many species of life are being driven extinct.

In his withdrawal speech, Trump never uttered the words “climate change” or “global warming.” Meanwhile, his surrogates continued to outright deny or obfuscate the scientifically established fact that human activity is driving catastrophic changes in the climate.

Instead, Trump delivered a lie-filled fascist rant. He was rejecting the Paris accord on cutting carbon emissions, signed by 195 countries, claiming it hurt American workers, jobs, and the economy and had been negotiated “to the exclusive benefit of other countries.”

“This agreement is less about the climate,” he declared, “and more about other countries gaining a financial advantage over the United States.”

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head Scott Pruitt said America was already taking care of the planet: “We owe no apologies to other nations for our environmental stewardship.”

Bad Deal for America? No, America’s the Worst “Deal” for the Planet, and Trump Wants to Make It Even Worse

America being taken advantage of? Already taking care of the planet? Here’s the reality:

The U.S. makes up four percent of the global population, but has poured far more CO2—carbon dioxide, one of the main greenhouse gases from the burning of fossil fuels causing global warming—into the atmosphere than any other country! America is responsible for 30 percent of the planet’s excess CO2 (twice as much as China, which has four times the population). It’s America and its capitalist-imperialist system that has “taken advantage” of everyone else, treating the planet’s atmosphere like a CO2 dump, and making the rest of the world pay dearly.

This is already having devastating impacts in the oppressed, often impoverished countries of the “Global South.” And as one environmentalist put it, “The countries that have done the least to cause the problem are suffering first and worst.” Yet Trump claims the Green Climate Fund (set up to give the appearance that the world’s big powers were addressing global warming’s disproportionate impact on the Global South) “is costing the United States a vast fortune,” and declared it would no longer contribute. Fact: so far it’s cost the U.S. a pittance—$1 billion, a third of what it spends every month waging its unjust, imperialist war in Afghanistan. As Amnesty International stated, Trump is saying “Let them drown, burn, and starve” to billions of oppressed people.

No, the Paris accord was not forged to benefit “other countries.” The Paris process was led by the Obama administration, along with other global powers, who were attempting to “manage” the climate crisis in ways they thought would best preserve their oppressive systems and advance their global interests. Each country picked its own targets for reducing carbon emissions, and all were voluntary.

And no, the Paris accord did not impose stifling restrictions on the operation of global capitalism to stop the climate apocalypse. Limiting global warming to a 1.5 degree Celsius rise above preindustrial levels is essential to limiting its catastrophic impacts. Yet even if every country’s targets were actually met, which is highly unlikely, global temperatures would still rise 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F)—which, as the New York Times pointed out, is “the threshold deemed unacceptably risky.” And right now, temperatures are currently heading toward a cataclysmic rise of 3 degrees C or more.

Any Recognition of Climate Change or Any International Regulation Intolerable for Trump Fascists

The Trump/Pence regime certainly isn’t breaking with the Paris deal because it doesn’t sufficiently address climate change. (Trump’s talk of renegotiating the Paris accord was, if anything, a threat to try and wreck any meaningful international climate regulation.) As we’ve noted, “In Trump’s view, and in the view of his most hard-core supporters, even recognizing that there is a problem of global climate change is unacceptable.”

Trump’s rejection of the Paris accord represents another leap in the Trump/Pence drive to consolidate fascism. A core element of that fascist program is removing even the most minimal constraints on U.S. capitalism-imperialism’s predatory exploitation and plunder, including environmental regulations. The regime has already begun gutting the EPA and regulations on coal-fired power plants, auto emissions, oil and gas drilling, and more, while accelerating the construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines.

The Trump/Pence regime may have feared the Paris accord could have created a legal basis for court challenges against Trump’s rollback of environmental regulation, as 22 Republican Senators claimed in a letter to Trump. But others have argued that since the Paris accord’s targets are voluntary, Trump could have rolled back regulations and still stayed within the agreement.

This points to the larger—fascist—reasons for repudiating the Paris accord: it is part of the Trump/Pence regime’s drive to more aggressively assert U.S. global power and dominance around the world, including by setting new terms with other global powers—without being constrained by existing international law, norms, treaties, or the like. This is all being done under the rubric of the “reassertion of American sovereignty,” as if the world’s most lying, double-dealing super-predator is suddenly its biggest sucker and main victim.

Welding a Fascist “America First” Social Base

Trump’s “America First” rejection of the Paris accord also marked an emphatic declaration that the Trump/Pence cabal remains hell bent on beating back its opponents—”obstructionists” as Trump called them—and continuing its forced march to consolidate the fascist regime.

Trump’s pledge to put “no other consideration before the well-being of American citizens” and his demagogic promises of jobs and wealth are also aimed at further welding a fascist base in society. A social base cohered around white supremacy, male supremacy, and America First jingoism—a social base which doesn’t give a fuck about humanity or the planet, only their most narrow, perceived interests. A base for which anything goes in the name of “Making America Great Again”—including whipped-up legions like the unrepentant Portland Nazi slasher who screamed from jail, “Death to the enemies of America. ... You call it terrorism. I call it patriotism.”

That’s what Trump is counting on to bludgeon, terrorize, and silence his opponents—not votes, legal niceties or winning over public opinion. And let’s face it. “America First” is just Hitler’s “Deutschland über alles” (“Germany above all”) translated into English.

You Won’t Oust Trump/Pence and Save the Planet by Putting “America First”

The enormity of the danger posed by the fascist Trump and U.S. capitalism-imperialism to the planet is nearly impossible to overstate. It is not just threatening billions in the here and now, it’s threatening future generations—even jeopardizing the existence of future generations.

In 2016, a study published in Science Advances magazine found that if the world kept burning fossil fuels as it is, global temperatures could rise twice as high as previously predicted, pushing “Earth’s climate out of the envelope of temperature conditions that have prevailed for the last 784,000 years.” Leading climate scientist Michael Mann said this study “does indeed provide support for the notion that a Donald Trump presidency could be game over for the climate.”

This must not be allowed to happen. The withdrawal from the Paris accord should be met with mass defiant actions and growing determination to drive the Trump/Pence regime from power and halting its escalating assault on the environment and humanity’s chances of survival.

This should also be a time millions reflect on why we’re in such a dire situation and what to do about it. This means confronting the fascist nature of the Trump/Pence regime, but it also means facing the fact that just going back to the Democrats and the Paris accord will not stop the climate crisis and save the planet either. The problem is deeper, rooted in the very nature and workings of the capitalist-imperialist system—which the Trump/Pence regime is an extreme expression of, as Hitler was an extreme expression of German imperialism at a time of stress and crisis.

As the Revolution/revcom.us special issue on the environment pointed out, “Capitalism as a system cannot deal with the environment in a sustainable and rational way—even if an individual capitalist, or group of capitalists, sincerely wanted to. Capitalism cannot cope with the many-sided effects of its own production. Capitalism cannot plan for future generations.”

But there IS an actual alternative—a society with a different economic and political system, different relations between people and values, which would enable humanity to deal with the environmental catastrophe now looming. This is socialism—and the Constitution for such a society, written by Bob Avakian and adopted by the Central Committee of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA (Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America)—lays this out, as well as addressing the myriad other contradictions and horrors that the current capitalist-imperialist system just cannot deal with.

This Constitution stresses that in all spheres of government and social activity, the new socialist state will energetically address the environmental emergency, uniting with people around the world to do so. For instance, one of the three core principles for guiding social production and economic development will be “Protecting, preserving, and enhancing the ecosystems and biodiversity of the planet for current and future generations.”

As people go forward to drive out the Trump/Pence regime, the question of what kind of society humanity needs to get out of this madness must be part of the dialogue.

 

       

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/493/antarctic-ice-shelves-melting-en.html

Revolution #493 May 29, 2017

Climate Scientists Racing Against Time to Document and More Fully Understand Antarctic Ice Shelf Melting—So Humanity Can Act to Stop It

The Trump/Pence Regime Racing Against Time to Attack All Environmental Controls, Attack Science, and Set the Planet on Fire

June 2, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

 

From a Reader:

Reading the recent three-part series “Antarctic Dispatches” in the New York Times provoked me to write this. The series followed a research team that is right now racing to map the contours of the seabed underneath the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica. Everyone should check out this series. It is beautifully produced, in one of the world’s most remote and austere places, and shows science as it is actually done that is really interesting in its own right.

But as you might already have guessed, there is much more to the story than that.

The Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica is the world’s largest chunk of floating ice. It is 487,000 square miles, about the size of France. This huge mass of ice rises 100 feet above the ocean surface and extends 900 feet below sea level.

Scientists have known for some time that this ice is melting into the sea. As the first article of the series lays it out:

“Ice sheets flow downhill, seemingly in slow motion. Mountains funnel the ice into glaciers. And ice flowing from the land into the sea can form a floating ice shelf.” These shelves in turn play a big role in blocking and slowing down the flow of ice into the sea.

Scientists have also documented that in parts of Antarctica, glaciers “have been undercut by warmer ocean waters, and the flow of ice is getting faster and faster.”

“The acceleration is making some scientists fear that Antarctica’s ice sheet may have entered the early stages of an unstoppable disintegration.”

“Because the collapse of vulnerable parts of the ice sheet could raise the sea level dramatically,1 the continued existence of the world’s large coastal cities—Miami, New York, Shanghai and many more—is tied to Antarctica’s fate.” Tens, even hundreds of millions of people around the world would have to flee coastal regions and trillions of dollars of property would be lost—just to hint at the economic and human devastation these changes could bring. And almost certainly, a major rise in sea levels would be part of a larger environmental disaster that would also cause all kinds of other environmental problems. (For example, more intense weather including hurricanes and droughts, disease epidemics, loss of arable land and water, fisheries and on and on.)

Up until last year, the biggest problem scientists studying all this faced was a lack of sufficient data to improve their ability to model and understand the processes going on with this ice shelf. 2

Because of this they are not yet sure how accurate their models and predictions about the collapse of the ice shelves are. They could be off by several decades—that is, it could be decades too fast or decades too slow. It is crucial, in the interests of humanity, that they are able to improve their data and ability to make more accurate predictions. These scientists working in Antarctica know that, as the New York Times article puts it:

“...the situation has become a race against time.

“Even as the threat from global warming comes into sharper focus, these scientists understand that political leaders—and cities already feeling the effects of a rising sea—need clearer forecasts about the consequences of emissions. That urgent need for insight has led scientists from Columbia to spend the past two Antarctic summers flying over the Ross Ice Shelf...”

It is important to note that up until now, these studies have been funded by the NSF (National Science Foundation) in the U.S. and the Natural Environment Research Council in Britain. Also, these researchers have made clear that this initial mapping will serve as a “base line” set of data which must then be followed up with repeat surveys over a period of years to pinpoint the speed of the processes occurring in and around the ice shelves.

So, this is a truly riveting story, one that every person and every society that cares about the fate of human (and other) life on the planet would want to follow, actively work to find solutions and urgently give all possible support to science and those working on questions like these in the area of climate science.

Well... now we have Trump/Pence—a fascist regime. Will crucial scientific studies like this one be allowed to continue? What is this regime’s overall response to these earth-shaking questions?

All of these attacks on science—from the sweeping methodological assault of “alternative facts” to the concrete cutting of the budget for crucial climate science, etc.—all of them have the effect of making human society around the world unable to respond in a timely way to the enormous changes that are coming, one way or another. Because of the lopsidedness of a world dominated by large capitalist-imperialist powers with the U.S. at the top of the heap, the U.S. has in its clutches many of the key data sets, key pieces of technology, instruments, satellites, etc., and more that are essential for the whole world to use to understand what is happening with climate change. Trump is assaulting all of that, and this makes human society “blind” in a sense.

It is criminality on a world-record scale, sickening and heartbreaking to think about and maddening to write about. This situation cannot be allowed to stand.

Bob Avakian has said:

This system and those who rule over it are not capable of carrying out economic development to meet the needs of the people now, while balancing that with the needs of future generations and requirements of safeguarding the environment. They care nothing for the rich diversity of the earth and its species, for the treasures this contains, except when and where they can turn this into profit for themselves....These people are not fit to be the caretakers of the earth.    
BAsics
1:29

The Trump/Pence fascist regime has taken all this to more openly grotesque proportions, giving a big-finger “fuck you” to all of humanity, to the rich diversity of life on this planet. Nero was said to have fiddled while Rome burned—these fascists are moving towards a world where they will be dancing in the flames as the whole planet burns. This is another indication of the race against time we all face, the urgent task to remove these monsters from power and to work to bring into being a system that can begin to seriously address the global environmental disaster we face.

 

1. According to the Times article, "The most vulnerable parts of the West Antarctic ice sheet could raise the sea level by 10 to 15 feet, inundating many of the world’s coastal cities, though most scientists think that would take well over a century, or perhaps longer." Some recent computer models have predicted that such a collapse is possible and could lead to a rise of sea level of six feet by the end of this century - that is, within the lifetime of people alive today. [back]

2. Some of the open questions include, for example:

3. They like to claim they are not attacking science, just parts like climate science, but the whole point of science is you don’t get to pick and choose which part you like. That in itself throws out the scientific understanding and method. [back]

4. We don’t have space to cover in depth all the draconian cuts to science in the proposed Trump budget. What is very clear is that killing climate science across the board is a special major goal. Here are some key points:   

5. When congressional legislators wrote the 1963 Clean Air Act, they acknowledged that California already had pollution-fighting rules, and that its environmental situation was especially dire. So they gave the state the right to write its own, stricter standards.

“California” doesn’t just mean California. Even though California is the only state that can write its own rules, under Section 177 of the Clean Air Act, any state looking for more than the federal package of regulations can opt to follow California’s auto standards.

Today, 13 (mostly northeastern) states and Washington, DC have adopted California’s extra-stringent emissions standards. Nine states also follow California’s mandate that automakers sell zero-emission vehicles. Together, they account for nearly 30 percent of new car sales in the country—and no carmaker wants to build “California cars” and “rest of the world cars.” Result: “All cars meet the California standard,” says Rebecca Lindland, an analyst at Kelley Blue Book. For more details, see https://www.wired.com/2017/03/want-gut-emission-rules-prepare-war-california/ [back]

6. Recent reports from the just concluded G7 meetings in Europe indicate that some European leaders were trying to convince Trump to remain in the Paris agreement in exchange for the U.S. getting special permission to keep polluting the environment with higher levels of CO2 and other greenhouse gases. [back]

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/493/japanese-driver-wins-indy-500-then-racism-rears-its-ugly-head-en.html

Revolution #493 May 29, 2017

From a reader:

Japanese Driver Wins Indy 500 Car Race...
Then Racism Rears Its Ugly Head

June 2, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

After Takuma Sato won the prestigious Indianapolis 500 car race this year on May 28, Terry Frei, a columnist for the Denver Post, tweeted out, “Nothing specifically personal, but I am very uncomfortable with a Japanese driver winning the Indianapolis 500 during Memorial Day weekend.” Well, Terry, being specifically racist IS being specifically personal, not only to Takuma Sato but to all those who hunger for a world without oppression and white supremacy.

Frei made a feeble attempt to apologize while plugging his book and then was promptly fired by the Denver Post.

The Indy 500 is a purely Amerikkkan race. Before the race began this year, the military was front and center in playing music and singing patriotic songs. An enormous Amerikkkan flag flew behind the pace car that led the race cars in a lap before the race began.

The Indy 500 has been run every year since 1911, except for the four years during World War 2. Sato was the first Asian driver to win the race. 

The election of Donald Trump has emboldened racists as they murder, attack, and send racist tweets to those who are not white. This shit has got to stop. People have to stand up to this, like those who did in Portland, and people need to get into the streets to put an end to this Trump/Pence regime that is perpetrating horrors on the people of the world.

 

       

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/493/black-lives-still-dont-matter-protest-stops-traffic-on-las-vegas-strip-en.html

Revolution #493 May 29, 2017

“Black Lives Still Don't Matter” Protest
Stops Traffic on Las Vegas Strip

June 2, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Late Sunday afternoon, May 28, 75 or more protesters, Black and white of different ages, carried out civil disobedience and blocked traffic in front of the Venetian Hotel on the Strip in Las Vegas, Nevada. The action was themed “Black Lives Still Don’t Matter” in protest of the May 15 police murder of an unarmed African American—40-year-old Tashii Brown-Farmer. 

Tashii can be seen on video approaching a couple of Las Vegas Metro PD cops for help. The pigs instead chased him down, threw him to the ground, viciously tasered him seven times (since each taser shot delivers 50,000 volts, Tashii was electrocuted with 350,000 volts in total), and then punched and beat him. Finally, the pigs strangled Tashii with a choke hold until he lost consciousness—and stopped breathing and living.

This was followed by the typical character assassination of Tashii in a police press conference. Tashii’s arrest record was displayed along with his jail mugshot. He was referred to as “the suspect” even though there was not even a pretense of a crime that led to the foot chase and the police killing him. AND the Undersheriff McMahill baldly stated that if Tashii had survived, he would not have been charged with anything at all. Clearly Tashii’s only crime is BWB—Breathing While Black—a capital offense punishable by instant death under this system.

This police murder has drawn a lot of outrage among the people of Las Vegas, from the ACLU to the NAACP to many ordinary people. There is a documentary film coming out later this summer titled What Happened in Vegas by filmmaker Ramsey Denison about the notorious brutality of the LVPD.

The much-needed spirited protest on May 28 had stopped traffic on the Strip for a few moments when a white supremacist Trumpite/vigilante in a “Make America Great Again” hat attacked one of the women and began to choke her. Several other protesters came to her defense and pulled him off her. The dozens of cops surrounding the protest, including pigs on horses, then arrested 10 of the protesters while letting the Nazi goon go! The media then reported that the protest turned “violent.”

Enough is enough! Drop the charges on the anti-police brutality protesters! Arrest, indict, send the killer cop (Kenneth Lopera) to jail!

       

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/493/lynching-noose-found-at-national-museum-of-african-american-history-and-culture-en.html

Revolution #493 May 29, 2017

In Trump’s AmeriKKKa:
Lynching Noose Found at National Museum of African American History and Culture

June 2, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

On Wednesday, May 31, visitors at the exhibit on segregation at the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC, were horrified to find that someone had put up a lynching noose in the gallery. The noose was quickly removed and the exhibit reopened. But as Lonnie Bunch, the director of the museum, said, “The noose has long represented a deplorable act of cowardice and depravity—a symbol of extreme violence for African-Americans. Today’s incident is a painful reminder of the challenges African-Americans continue to face.”

The National Museum of African American History and Culture is part of the Smithsonian Institution, and only four days earlier, another lynching noose had been found hanging outside another Smithsonian museum, the Hirshhorn.

These lynching nooses at the Smithsonian are part of a series of KKK-type noose incidents in recent years that have become even more common since the election of Trump/Pence. An article at Smithsonian.com noted, “These ominous reminders of America’s dark history with lynching have appeared around the country, from a school in Missouri to a series of four nooses hung around a construction site in Maryland. Other nooses have been found on the Duke University campus, the Port of Oakland in California, a fraternity house at the University of Maryland, a middle school in Maryland, and at a high school in Lakewood, California.”

And these lynching nooses—aimed directly at terrorizing Black people—are in turn part of a larger ugly wave of more than 1,300 acts of hate, intimidation, and violence directed at immigrants, African Americans, LGBTQ people and others just between the November 2016 presidential election and February of this year.

One woman who was visiting the National Museum of African American History and Culture with her six-year-old daughter when the noose was found said, “It’s shocking that in 2017 we still have this type of bigotry.” Yes, it is shocking and outrageous. But this is a country founded on slavery of kidnapped African people and genocide against Native people, and white supremacy continues to be deeply woven into the fabric of this system today. And with the Trump/Pence fascist regime in power, a go-ahead has been given to an open revival of KKK-style terror. Everyone of conscience needs to speak out about this and act to stop it, as part of the fight to drive the whole regime out.

       

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/493/lebron-james-california-home-spray-painted-w-n-word-en.html

Revolution #493 May 29, 2017

From a Reader:

LeBron James’s California Home Spray Painted with the N-Word
“Hate in America, especially for African-Americans is living every day”

June 02, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

On Wednesday morning the N-word was discovered spray painted on the front gate of LeBron James’s home in Brentwood, California.

James responded by saying, “No matter how much money you have, no matter how famous you are, no matter how many people admire you, being black in America is tough.  It just goes to show that racism will always be a part of the world, a part of America. And, you know, hate in America, especially for African-Americans is living every day… We got a long way to go for us as a society and for us as African-Americans until we feel equal in America.”

He also went on to say that one of the first things that came to his mind when he saw the graffiti was the mother of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old African American teenager who was brutally murdered in Mississippi in 1955. Till’s mother had an open casket at Emmett’s funeral for people to see the mutilated body of her son. James said that “she (Till’s mother) wanted to show the world what her son went through… being black in America.”

James is an NBA all-star and is in the midst of playing in the NBA finals with his team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, against the Golden State Warriors.

A couple of James’s white neighbors in the wealthy Brentwood community of Los Angeles commented to the local CBS news on the spray painting. One said, “It’s terrible that something like that happened right here. It’s appalling.” Another said, “It’s concerning. It’s not okay at all.”

James has previously spoken out on racism and police murders of Black people. He wore an "I Can't Breathe" warmup shirt in memory of Eric Garner, who was murdered by New York cops, and he and his Miami Heat teammates wore black hoodies as a form of protest of the murder of Trayvon Martin by a vigilante in Florida. Recently, he spoke out against the racism faced by Baltimore Orioles outfielder Adam Jones during a baseball game in Boston.

James’s statement that “racism will always be a part of America” speaks to the truth of what Bob Avakian said in Basics 1:1 that “There would be no United States as we now know it today without slavery. That is a simple and basic truth.”

Since the election of Donald Trump, there has been a huge increase in reported hate crimes in this country. The Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino reported that there has been a 23.3% increase in hate crimes “that started during the presidential campaign and has continued unabated” against Black people, immigrants, Jews, and Muslims in the six major urban centers in this country.

Last week, two people in Portland were murdered by a fascist racist, and a third survived being stabbed in the throat, when they came to the defense of a Muslim teenager and her Black friend who were receiving hateful shit from this racist. Adam Jones, who plays baseball for the Baltimore Orioles, had bags of peanuts thrown at him and was taunted with the N-word when he played in Boston this past month. Just a day ago a second noose was found hanging in a Smithsonian museum in Washington DC, this time in the section on segregation at the National Museum of African-American History and Culture. The huge increase in this type of racist shit being perpetrated on the people by white supremacists is one element of what fascism looks like in this country.

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.”

This shit must stop.

Drive out the fascist Trump/Pence regime.

       

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/493/refuse-fascism-act-on-the-truths-we-already-know-en.html

Revolution #493 May 29, 2017

Received from RefuseFascism.org:

Refuse Fascism Calls on you to Act on the Truths We Already Know!

June 2, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

 

The TRUTH is:

The Trump/Pence Regime is a FASCIST Regime.  For the future of humanity and the planet, we, the people, must drive this regime out.

The TRUTH is:

The Trump/Pence Regime is doubling down and escalating its repressive measures, its threats against the press, its budget of starvation and murder by medical neglect, its remaking of the laws, and its further whipping up the violent atmosphere in which its supporters carry out intimidation, threats, and even murder.  A KKK-style torchlight march in Virginia, threats of lynching from a state representative in Mississippi, a fanatical Trump supporter murdering two men in Portland because they defended a young woman in a headscarf and her friend from his harassment, and more.

The TRUTH is:

 It’s on YOU – and all of us together – to act now to drive out the fascist regime, before it is too late.

We must take history into our own hands.  Stopping the mounting crimes of the Trump/Pence Fascist Regime and the mob it has unleashed cannot wait until 2018 or 2020, it cannot wait for investigations or Congress.  We must stop their crimes now – and in the process we must build the strength to drive the whole fascist regime out of power.  Everywhere the Regime officials show their face, they must be hounded, protested and confronted.  Every new crime must be met with growing resistance.  Every fascist threat, attack, and mobilization must be taken on by growing waves of people who refuse to be intimidated.  We must not wait until it’s too late.

Spread the NO! everywhere: on t-shirts, stickers, yard-signs, and more.  Take up the unifying demand: In the Name of Humanity – We REFUSE to Accept a Fascist America! Drive Out the Trump/Pence Regime!  Sign and spread the Call to Action to every corner of society.

Get ORGANIZED: work with all your 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.

Join, or align your group with, RefuseFascism.org, a movement for everyone coming from a great diversity of perspectives who refuses to accept a fascist America.  Sign up at: RefuseFascism.org, follow us on Twitter: @RefuseFascism, connect with us at Facebook.com/RefuseFascism.org.  Phone number: 917-407-1286.

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/493/taliesin-myrddin-namkai-meche-ricky-john-best-and-micah-fletcher-are-heroes-live-like-them-en.html

Revolution #493 May 29, 2017

Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, Ricky John Best, and Micah Fletcher are HEROES!
Live Like Them –
REFUSE to Accept a Fascist America!

By Sunsara Taylor

June 2, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

On May 26 in Portland, Oregon, Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche and Ricky John Best were stabbed to death and Micah Fletcher was hospitalized for stopping a Trump supporter from spewing racist, anti-Muslim hate at two teenage girls.  These men were heroes!  Live like them!

Namkai-Meche, Best, and Fletcher did not know the young women, but they recognized their humanity.  They didn't ask, “What will happen to me?” They asked “what will happen to these young women if we don't intervene?”

Every person in this country must ask themselves a similar question: What will be done to Muslims, immigrants, refugees, women, LGBTQ, Black people, people around the world, and the planet itself if we don't put ourselves on the line to stop the fascist Trump/Pence Regime and the whole tidal wave of xenophobic hatred and racist violence it has unleashed?

The Trump/Pence Regime has twice tried to ban Muslims, it has ramped up terroristic raids against immigrants, it is destroying the planet, it has given the green-light to police to brutalize and even kill Black and Brown people, it has threatened journalists, threatened the courts, and threatened people who dare to resist.  The Regime is moving fast to lock into place a fascist America.  Egged on by this fascism from above, their hard-core supporters have held KKK/Nazi-style rallies, they've threatened lynchings, they are doxxing and targeting thousands who have stood up, and they have begun killing.

Some see all this and think the stakes are too high to speak up.  Right before he intervened, Meche himself was cautioned by a loved one on the phone not to get involved.  But he did so anyway—and he was right to do so!  The truth is, the stakes are too high not to speak up.  The stakes are too high to wait or “play it safe.”  This applies to individual and “random” acts of bigotry and hatred, but it also applies to confronting and acting to stop the whole fascist juggernaut being hammered down on the people and the world by the Trump/Pence Regime.  Everyone who fears and is outraged by what the Trump/Pence Regime is doing and has unleashed must gather their courage, draw inspiration from Meche, Best, and Fletcher, and LIVE LIKE THEM!  Confront fascist threats and hate wherever they emerge.  As you do, get organized to drive the regime from power.

The truth is, if everyone who opposes the crimes of the Trump/Pence Regime and its supporters stood up like these Portland Heroes did—acting on what you know is right even in the face of danger and risk —we could STOP this Regime and its crimes.  We could DRIVE IT FROM POWER.  We could stop a fascist America.  That is worth fighting for.  It is worth dying for.  Not just for ourselves, but in the name of humanity.



       

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/493/protest-and-drown-out-anti-muslim-hatred-and-bigotry-en.html

Revolution #493 May 29, 2017

June 02, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Received from RefuseFascism.org

In the Name of Humanity – REFUSE to Accept a Fascist America! Protest and Drown Out Anti-Muslim Hatred and Bigotry

 

June 10, Cities Across the Country

“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.

—from the RefuseFascism.org Call to Action

The Trump/Pence Regime has spearheaded and unleashed a rising tide of anti-Muslim/anti-immigrant hatred and bigotry, government persecution and violent vigilantism.  This is a key part of the direction and momentum of fascism they are moving fast to impose on America.

Twice, Trump banned Muslims from entering the country, then lashed out against the courts for blocking this unconstitutional measure.  He spread the vicious lie that he’d seen thousands of Muslims cheering for the 9/11 attack.  He has promoted a national Muslim registry and embraced shutting down Mosques. Whipped up and emboldened by all this, and outraged by obstacles and protest the Regime has encountered, the Trump/Pence hard-core base has increasingly taken their xenophobic hatred into the streets – harassing, threatening and even murdering those who appear to be Muslim and now killing two men in Portland, Oregon for standing up against them.

On June 10, fascists will rally in dozens of cities across the country.  They claim to oppose Sharia Law, but really they are against all Muslims.  They claim that Islam is a “political ideology,” not a religion – therefore, they insist that Muslims don’t deserve legal protection under the Constitutional right to Freedom of Religion.  They claim to stand for women and LGBTQ people against Islamic extremists, but this is hypocrisy used to prettify their anti-Muslim agenda.  Their lead organizer, Brigitte Gabriel, worked for years for the viciously woman-hating, anti-LGBTQ Christian fascist Pat Robertson, and their speakers list is packed with notorious misogynists.  Most dangerous of all: they are closely aligned with – and in many cases directly tied to – the fascist Trump/Pence Regime.

Brigitte Gabriel has bragged that her group “has a direct line to Donald Trump, and has played a fundamental role in shaping his views and suggested policies with respect to radical Islam.”  And, by promoting the false notion that these fascists are the besieged victims, they are creating a climate where fanatical Trump supporters feel emboldened to carry out violence and terror against Muslims and those who stand with them.

Some people say the stakes are too high to speak up.  The truth is the stakes are too high NOT to speak up and act. This is a moment in history where your grandchildren will look back and ask you, “What did you do when they came for Muslims?” On June 10, counter the xenophobic hatred and lies, defy intimidation, and drown it out with a sea of opposition declaring: NO! We REFUSE to Accept a Fascist America!  We must build up the strength to drive the whole fascist Trump/Pence Regime from power.  We must do this not just for ourselves, but in the name of humanity.

RefuseFascism.org *** @RefuseFascism *** Facebook.com/RefuseFascism.org***
917-407-1286



       

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/493/american-crime-case-62-how-capitalism-plus-White-supremacy-created-chicagos-black-ghetto-en.html

Revolution #493 May 29, 2017

American Crime

Case #62: How Capitalism + White Supremacy Created Chicago's Black Ghetto

Part 1: Great Migration and the Brutal Reality of the "Promised Land"

June 3, 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 focuses on one of the 100 worst crimes committed by the U.S. rulers—out of countless bloody crimes they have carried out against people around the world, from the founding of the U.S. to the present day.

American Crime

See all the articles in this series.

 

 

THE CRIME:

For decades in the 20th century, the deliberate policies of the U.S. government and actions of the courts, local political and law enforcement forces, racist white residents, and—driving it all forward—predatory real estate interests and blood-sucking banks and other financial institutions forced millions of Black people in Chicago into confinement in ghettos under extremely oppressive living conditions. This played a key role in cementing in place a system of white supremacy that has super-exploited and suppressed the African-American people since the Great Migration not only to the North but to cities more generally, beginning in the 20th century.

Part 1 of this two-part American Crime installment covers the period up to the 1960s. Part 2 will look at the decades since then, including the destruction of the huge Chicago housing projects and what happened to the tens of thousands evicted from them. But while this focuses on Chicago, the dynamics exposed here were similar in cities throughout the Midwest and the North, and indeed Chicago “set the pace” when it came to nailing into place new forms of white-supremacist oppression.

Chicago as “Laboratory for Segregation”

From the early 1900s to the end of the 1960s, six million Black people moved from the rural South to urban areas in the North and West—this was the Great Migration. There were two major periods in the Great Migration—around the time of World War 1, and then around the time of World War 2, when capitalists needed workers and Black people from the South were allowed into the workforce in the North... on the bottom floor. Sometimes, especially early on, Black people were fleeing the rural South to what they were told would be new opportunities in the North, and they often had to do this in the dead of night to avoid the KKK trying to hold them in place. Later, as the white plantation owners began to mechanize in order to keep up with global competition, Black sharecroppers were driven off the land, with no consideration for the superprofits that had been extracted from their labor—their very flesh and blood—over generations.

Hoping to escape the bitter poverty and lynch mob terror of the South when they reached the supposed “Promised Land” in cities like Chicago, Black people found themselves exploited and oppressed in new but no less vicious ways. They were forced into the dirtiest, most dangerous, lowest-paying jobs, becoming the “last hired, first fired”... targeted by brutal police and racist white mobs... packed into hyper-segregated ghettos.

Black people coming to Chicago seeking a new life were at first confined into a narrow sliver of land called the “Black Belt” on the South Side, resulting in extreme overcrowding. Real estate speculators and absentee landlords made big profits by dividing up buildings into small “kitchenettes,” some separated by just cardboard, and charging exorbitant rent while ignoring maintenance. Many units lacked plumbing, and multiple families had to share the same bathroom. Families faced the brutal Chicago winters with little or no heating. The infant death rate was 16 percent higher in the Black communities than for the city as a whole. Rats infested the ghetto.

Although there were no signs mandating separate water fountains for whites and Blacks like in the Jim Crow South, blatant discrimination enforced by official policy as well as mob violence was no less a reality in Chicago. There certainly was segregation in other northern cities. But as a writer for Chicago magazine put it, Chicago “was a laboratory for segregation,” and “tools to segregate the city based on race were created here.”

Before getting into how this developed in Chicago, let’s take a brief look at some of the various ways that being forced to live in segregated areas has devastated, and continues to devastate, the lives of Black people:

All these horrors—and more—are what living in the segregated ghetto has meant for millions of Black people in Chicago, decade after decade, continuing to today. People were confined as if in an open-air prison, preyed upon from all sides, and continually under the threat of both purposeful and random police terror. This is a form of genocide.

Deliberate Segregation via Restrictive Covenants

After a 1917 U.S. Supreme Court decision blocked the Chicago Real Estate Board’s attempt to openly divide the city into separate zones by race, real estate interests devised another tactic: “restrictive covenants” that forbade white home owners from selling or renting to African-Americans. Other cities also used such covenants, but Chicago led the country in their use, with eventually three-fourths of all residential neighborhoods covered by them and therefore off-limits to Black people. Courts, including all the way to the Supreme Court, repeatedly ruled that restrictive covenants were legal because they were “private” agreements.

Black people who went against the exclusionary measures to keep them “in their place” were met with mob violence as well as the official violence of the police, often working together with the mobs. In 1919, for example, whites enraged by a Black youth on a “white” beach went on a murderous rampage. Black people fought back in self-defense, but they were outnumbered by the white mobs who were better armed and had the sympathy and often open backing of the police. The white goons killed 23 Black people, and over a thousand were left homeless.

The restrictive covenants often involved an association of white owners or a whole neighborhood, and these segregationist pacts were frequently endorsed or led by non-profit institutions like churches (which received government tax exemptions) aiming to keep Black people out of their area. According to the book The Color of Law, “On Chicago’s Near North Side, a restrictive covenant was executed in 1937 by tax-exempt religious institutions, including the Moody Bible Institute, the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, and the Board of Foreign Missions of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Other nonprofit organizations also participated, including the Newberry Library and the Academy of Fine Arts.”

Federal Affirmative Action... for Whites

Along with the predatory real estate forces, the courts, city police and institutions, and racist whites, another force was directly involved in keeping Black people penned in the ghetto—the federal government. In 1934, a law signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) created the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), which insured private mortgages. This led to a decline in interest payments and the amount of down payment needed to buy a house—allowing wider sections of the U.S. population to buy homes. Owning a house was promoted as a key part of the “American Dream.” But Black people—in Chicago and elsewhere across the U.S.—were deliberately shut out of this “dream.”

Today, FDR is upheld and promoted as a liberal icon—“a champion of reform, architect of the New Deal, and a hero for the downtrodden.” The use of federal funds for the deliberately segregationist FHA loans shows how FDR was not just passively accepting the oppression of Black people—he actively enabled and enforced the continued confinement, plunder and subjugation of African-Americans.

In his article “A Case for Reparations,” Ta-Nehisi Coates writes: “The FHA had adopted a system of maps that rated neighborhoods according to their perceived stability. On the maps, green areas, rated ‘A,’ indicated ‘in demand’ neighborhoods that, as one appraiser put it, lacked ‘a single foreigner or Negro.’ These neighborhoods were considered excellent prospects for insurance. Neighborhoods where black people lived were rated ‘D’ and were usually considered ineligible for FHA backing. They were colored in red. Neither the percentage of black people living there nor their social class mattered. Black people were viewed as a contagion. Redlining went beyond FHA-backed loans and spread to the entire mortgage industry, which was already rife with racism, excluding black people from the most legitimate means of obtaining mortgage.”

The Supreme Court ruled against restrictive covenants in 1948. But the FHA continued their racist policy of backing loans for white people buying homes in white neighborhoods and suburbs, while shutting Black people out by denying them such loans. After World War 2, the newly established Veterans Administration (VA) also began to guarantee mortgages, designed to help ex-soldiers buy houses. And the VA used the same discriminatory guidelines as the FHA—in other words, this federal agency helped white vets buy homes while denying assistance to Black vets. The Color of Law notes that in thousands of locales across the country, “mass-production builders created entire suburbs with the FHA- or VA-imposed condition that these suburbs be all white.”

Home ownership played a big role in tens of millions of white people, including those who were newer immigrants from Europe, being able to become part of the white American “middle class”—the federal government programs, in effect, were affirmative action for them.

In contrast, as Black people began pushing out from the Chicago “Black Belt” into neighborhoods further south and then west, they had to move into areas that were already deliberately run down. In a practice known as “block busting,” real estate interests, with the collusion of city officials and police, took various steps leading to the deterioration of a neighborhood in order to force white homeowners to sell at low prices. Then the same houses were sold to Black people at inflated prices, enabling real estate interests to reap huge gains.

Bob Avakian, in The New Communism, gives a vivid account of how this block busting worked (he describes a situation in the 1970s, but the same type of thing went on through the ’50s and ’60s):

There was a phenomenon involving some of the big real estate interests in the Chicago area (of the kind that Obama became all tied in with a little later, but here I’m thinking back to the period of the 1970s, before Obama came along), and when these big real estate interests wanted to “turn a neighborhood” that had been mainly white, and they wanted to get people to flee the neighborhood so they could buy up the houses cheaply and then resell them at a big profit, these real estate interests would work with the police. They had a whole unit within the Chicago police that was responsible for dealing with the gangs—and that had infiltrated the gangs—and they would put out the word through their contacts: If you go over into this neighborhood and create mayhem and havoc, we won’t do anything about it. Well, pretty soon, even the white people who weren’t coming from such a bad place would get up and leave, sell their property cheaply, because the neighborhood became intolerable; and then Black people were allowed, even encouraged, to buy those homes, but they would be charged a price much higher than what the houses had just sold for. So the real estate interests made a real killing in that way.

Because Black people did not have access to “legitimate” sources of credit, they had to turn to buying homes “on contract.” The contract sellers kept the deed, and if the buyer missed even a single payment, they would be evicted, with the seller keeping the equity and reselling the house to another desperate buyer. Historian Beryl Satter, whose father was an attorney fighting against this profiteering, writes: “In Chicago, my father estimated that 85 percent of the properties purchased by blacks were sold on contract. He calculated that by selling buildings to house-starved African-Americans on such exploitative terms, speculators were robbing Chicago’s black population of one million dollars a day. These sales stripped black migrants of their savings during the very years when whites of similar class background were getting an immense economic boost through FHA-backed mortgages that enabled them to purchase new homes for little money down.” (Emphasis added.)

Racist Mobs, Continued Segregation, and the Hand of Those in Power

In the years and decades after World War 2, Black people in the Chicago area continued to face KKK-style violence if they defied segregation. In 1947, when a few Black veterans moved into the Fernwood section, gangs of whites rioted for three nights, pulling Black people off streetcars and beating them. In 1951, thousands of whites in Cicero, just west of Chicago, attacked an apartment building that housed a single Black family. A Cook County grand jury refused to indict the racist rioters, instead indicting the family’s lawyer and the apartment’s white owner for “conspiring” to lower property values.

In the summer of 1966, in the context of uprisings of Black people in cities across the U.S. that would become even greater through the rest of the ’60s, Martin Luther King Jr. led his first marches beyond the South in Chicago against school and housing segregation. King was a promoter of reforming the system, working consciously against more radical and revolutionary forces, and had been in close contact with President Lyndon B. Johnson, at times talking on the phone daily to coordinate actions. But Johnson—widely hated at the time for the U.S. war in Vietnam, but whose reputation is being rehabilitated today as the architect of the “Great Society” reforms—was opposed to King going to Chicago. As historian Taylor Branch recounts, Johnson talked directly on the phone with Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley, who was trying to hamper King’s campaign and drive him out of the city—which is what essentially happened.

The non-violent marches that King and others led through different white neighborhoods came under violent attack from howling racist mobs. Among those injured in one march was a nun hit by a brick thrown at her head. In another march in Marquette Park, King himself was hit in the head by a rock. He later said, “I have never in my life seen such hate. Not in Mississippi or Alabama.” These vicious assaults happened as the marches were supposedly under police “escort” provided by Mayor Daley. This was the same police force that, only two years later, Daley would order to brutally crack down on peaceful young protesters at the Democratic National Convention. Who can seriously believe that Daley had nothing to do with allowing the King marchers to come under attack from the lynch mobs?

       

King stopped the campaign in Chicago and left, after signing a toothless agreement with Daley and real estate interests in the city that promised a few paltry reforms—promises which weren’t even kept. It was not until 1968—after the most massive urban rebellions in U.S. history, in the wake of Martin Luther King’s assassination—that Johnson signed the federal Fair Housing Act, a basically toothless law that was a mere show of action against segregation.

Making of the “Second Ghetto”

While the U.S. government subsidized housing for white people through FHA and VA mortgages, the form of government-subsidized housing for a significant section of Black people after World War 2 was the inner city housing projects. The projects were built in already-established Black ghettos because of official government policy. During the FDR era, the Public Works Administration had mandated a “neighborhood composition rule,” under which government projects were not allowed to alter the “racial composition” of the neighborhoods they were built in, and this rule was still in effect. In other words, projects built in white areas had to be for white people, and those built in Black areas were restricted to African-Americans. While there were some housing projects built in white areas before World War 2, the post-war projects in Chicago were mainly built to warehouse and control poor Black people.

In 1949, a new federal housing act sent millions of dollars into Chicago and other cities for housing projects. Ta-Nehisi Coates points out, “Beginning in 1950, site selection for public housing proceeded entirely on the grounds of segregation. By the 1960s, [Chicago] had created with its vast housing projects what the historian Arnold R. Hirsch calls a ‘second ghetto,’ one larger than the old Black Belt but just as impermeable. More than 98 percent of all the family public-housing units built in Chicago between 1950 and the mid-1960s were built in all-black neighborhoods.” These projects—Robert Taylor, Cabrini Green, and others—became highly concentrated areas of poverty, the site of eight of the poorest 20 census tracts in the U.S. And the police targeted the people living in these projects with pervasive, dehumanizing brutality, murder and terror.

The construction of the Black housing projects—and the maintenance of blatant segregation in the city overall—was orchestrated by the powerful Democratic Party “machine” in Chicago and Cook County, headed up by Richard J. Daley. Daley would be mayor for 20 years, and his connections and influence reached way beyond the city to the Democratic Party on the highest levels nationally. The Daley “machine” controlled officials—including Black politicians—in all of the city’s 50 wards, commanded thousands of precinct captains spread out over every block of the city, dispensed tens of thousands of city patronage jobs, ran the police department notorious for brutality and torture against Black people, and used ties to organized criminal groups for their own ends.

One biography of Daley, who himself lived in the almost all-white neighborhood of Bridgeport, describes his “commitment to racial segregation”: “He preserved the city’s white neighborhoods and business district by building racial separation into the very concrete of the city. New development—housing, highways, and schools—were built where they would serve as a barrier between white neighborhoods and the black ghetto. Daley worked with powerful business leaders to revitalize downtown by pushing poor blacks out, replacing them with middle-class whites. But Daley’s most striking accomplishment was Chicago’s deeply troubled public housing projects. Daley used public housing as a repository for thousands of blacks who might otherwise have ended up moving into white neighborhoods.”

THE CRIMINALS:

The Democratic presidential administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR), which oversaw the oppressive policies of the FHA and VA that provided federal help for white people buying homes and the building up of white neighborhoods and suburbs, while denying such help for Black people; and successive presidents, Republican and Democratic, who continued the same practice. The Roosevelt administration also introduced the “neighborhood composition rule” mandating that any government housing projects not alter the racial composition of the neighborhood—which was a factor in the building of huge projects in poor Black areas of Chicago and other cities.

These discriminatory housing policies were part of FDR’s New Deal laws and policies that the U.S. rulers as a whole saw as crucial to protecting and moving forward their system in the wake of the Depression and into World War 2. Nowadays, the New Deal is praised widely by liberals and some even call for a “new New Deal.” In reality, the reforms of the New Deal included steps by the U.S. ruling class to reinforce white supremacy, in the context of a new and changing situation internationally and domestically, as well as FDR’s compromises with the “Dixiecrats”—segregationist southern Democrats—in return for cooperation with the federal laws and policies.

The segregation of Black people has served, and continues to serve, the U.S. rulers and their system in many ways. The ghettoization of Black neighborhoods has been part of the extreme exploitation—keeping Black people in the lowest rungs of the workforce, when they can get work, and then further gouging them through inflated living costs, financial chicanery and so on. And there are important ideological dimensions. The physical separation, and the deliberate deterioration, of the Black neighborhoods serve to codify the demonization and stigmatization of Black people. At the same time, this reinforces the glue of “whiteness”—the ways in which the system trains white people to consider themselves entitled to privilege and to see their position and interests in opposition to Black and other oppressed people, and with the white ruling class of capitalist-imperialists.

Mayor Daley and the Democratic Party “machine” in Chicago, including Black politicians, who continued and, in some ways, as in the building of the huge housing projects, intensified the segregation of the city, as part of the overall oppression of Black people in all areas of life.

Real estate interests, who—with collusion of city officials and police—made huge profits through “block busting” and selling houses on extremely exploitative terms to Black people.

THE ALIBI:

The FHA justified its policies favoring whites and discriminating against Black people for mortgages by saying they were aiming for “stability,” racial “harmony” and preservation of real estate values. An FHA manual for appraisers, for example, said: “If a neighborhood is to retain stability it is necessary that properties shall continue to be occupied by the same social and racial classes. A change in social or racial occupancy generally leads to instability and a reduction in values.”

Along with this, a whole white-supremacist mythology was promoted claiming that white people earned their homes by “working hard,” while Black people lived in slums because they did not. As Thomas Sugrue observed in The Origins of the Urban Crisis, “Residence in the inner city became a self-perpetuating stigma. Increasing joblessness, and the decaying infrastructure of inner-city neighborhoods, reinforced white stereotypes of black people, families, and communities.” This, of course, is tantamount to blaming those held in concentration camps for the wretched and horrific conditions imposed on them—which the Nazis in Hitler’s Germany, like all racial supremacists, in fact did.

In Chicago, Daley and the Democratic Party “machine” touted the building of the Black housing projects as part of the “urban renewal” of the city.

THE REAL MOTIVE:

The story of how Chicago’s Black ghetto came to be is part of the whole ugly history—and the continuing nightmare—of the oppression of African-Americans, as a people, in the United States. The exploitation and oppression of Black people and other oppressed people is a key pillar of the capitalist-imperialist system—and, as we have shown in this one example here, it is kept going by institutions, interests, and ideology at the very marrow of the bones of American capitalism-imperialism. And the rulers will not—and, more profoundly, cannot—get rid of it.

The early history of segregation in Chicago—and in Part 2, we will detail how and why Chicago remains a “hyper-segregated” city and what that means for today—shows one aspect of what Bob Avakian points out in BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian:

If you want to talk about who owes whom—if you keep in mind everything the capitalists (as well as the slaveowners) have accumulated through all the labor Black people have carried out in this country and the privileges that have been passed out to people on that basis—there wouldn’t even be a U.S. imperialism as there is today if it weren’t for the exploitation of Black people under this system. Not that the exploitation of Black people is the whole of it—there has been a lot of other people exploited, both in the U.S. and internationally, by this ruling class. But there wouldn’t be a U.S. imperialism in the way there is today if it weren’t for the exploitation of Black people under slavery and then after slavery in the sharecropping system and in the plants and other workplaces in a kind of caste-like oppression in the cities. (BAsics 1:12)

 

Sources:

Bob Avakian, BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian, RCP Publications, 2011

Bob Avakian, “Forced Segregation: A Neighborhood Story,” revcom.us.

Bob Avakian, “Suburbanization, Segregation and the Promotion of White Supremacy,” in THE BASIS, THE GOALS, AND THE METHODS OF COMMUNIST REVOLUTION, revcom.us.

Bob Avakian, THE NEW COMMUNISM: The science, the strategy, the leadership for an actual revolution, and a radically new society on the road to real emancipation, Insight Press, 2016

Steve Bogira, “Separate, Unequal, and Ignored,” Chicago Reader, February 10, 2011.

Taylor Branch, At Canaan’s Edge: America in the King Years 1965-68, Simon & Schuster, 2006.

Ta-Nehisi Coates, “The Case for Reparations,” The Atlantic, June 2014.

Adam Cohen and Elizabeth Taylor, American Pharaoh, Mayor Richard J. Daley—His Battle for Chicago and the Nation, Back Bay Books, 2001.

Arnold R. Hirsch, Making the Second Ghetto, Race and Housing in Chicago 1940-1960, The University of Chicago Press, 1983.

Tami Luhby, “Chicago: America’s Most Segregated City,” cnn.com, January 5, 2016.

Whet Moser, “Housing Discrimination in America Was Perfected in Chicago,” Chicago, May 5, 2014.

Whet Moser, “Chicago Isn’t Just Segregated, It Basically Invented Modern Segregation,” Chicago, March 31, 2017.

Revcom.us, “How the System Ghetto-ized Black People in Chicago,” December 6, 1998.

Richard Rothstein, The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America, Liveright, 2017.

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/493/kathy-griffin-defies-president-and-fascist-mob-en.html

Revolution #493 May 29, 2017

Kathy Griffin Defies President and the Fascist Mob, Saying She Won’t Be Silenced By Bullying and Threats

by Sunsara Taylor

June 3, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

In a matter of days, Kathy Griffin—a long-standing and accomplished comedian—was personally attacked by the sitting president and his adult children, fired from CNN, thrown under the bus by Anderson Cooper and others she worked closely with for years, had all her scheduled appearances in cities across the U.S. canceled, received a flood of specific and sadistic death threats, and had a Secret Service investigation opened against her.

Her “crime”? A joke she made that the president didn’t like.

Whatever one thinks of this particular piece of art (a photo of her holding a fake decapitated head of Donald Trump) and whatever one thinks of her art overall, the attacks and threats coming from the highest levels of the state and from the fascist mob are unprecedented and extremely dangerous. Not just to Kathy Griffin, but to all the arts, to all dissent, and to people all over the world whose lives will be destroyed if the fascism of Donald Trump and his regime is not stopped.

The hypocrisy is howling. Donald Trump twice suggested Hillary Clinton’s assassination. Ted Nugent, the racist rock singer, repeatedly threatened the life of Obama, calling once for both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama to “be tried for treason and hung.” Trump didn’t condemn him; instead he posed for a photo with him in the White House!

The message being sent is clear: if you dare challenge the fascist in the White House, you will be destroyed.

In the face of all this, on June 2, Griffin held a press conference in which, while apologizing for that particular joke, she told the world that despite being targeted personally by the president who is determined to “ruin my life forever, FOREVER,” she was going to keep making fun of him. She said that the death threats against her are “constant and they are detailed and they are serious and they are specific,” but she will not lie down because, “today it’s me and tomorrow it could be you.” She spoke about young girls and gay people who are “maybe going to be watching me” and described how, despite the pain of having almost everyone she knows throw her under the bus, she wanted to set an example of refusing to be silenced or intimidated.

Trump and his fascist mob want to make an example out of Griffin. It is very important that she is rising above hurt and fear to set a different example—one of courage and defiance. People must have her back—and they must adopt this same spirit. In all walks of life. On the stage and on the street. In many different ways. Do NOT submit to fascist intimidation. Come back stronger. Make this part of the culture and a growing movement to drive out this fascist regime—in the name of humanity.

       

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/493/skybreak-getting-clearer-on-the-need-for-revolution-en.html

Revolution #493 May 29, 2017


Warning: file_get_contents(../a/493/skybreak-getting-clearer-on-the-need-for-revolution-en.html): failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /home/revweb/public_html/quick/493en.php on line 156