Revolution #495, June 12, 2017 (revcom.us)

Voice of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

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Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/495/comey-trump-the-struggle-at-the-top-and-the-interests-of-humanity-en.html

Revolution #495 June 12, 2017

From a reader:

Comey, Trump, the Struggle at the Top, and the Interests of Humanity

June 12, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

This week much of the nation, and the world, was riveted by what was in many ways an unprecedented spectacle: the former, and recently fired, FBI head James Comey testifying in Congress and calling the president of the U.S. a liar—with Trump returning the accusation in a press conference the next day. How to understand this? And how to sort through the contending analyses to figure out what to do? In this light, I’ve been thinking about the two paragraphs that the revcom site recently began running:

The Democrats, along with the New York Times and the Washington Post, etc., are seeking to resolve the crisis with the Trump presidency on the terms of this system, and in the interests of the ruling class of this system, which they represent. We, the masses of people, must go all out, and mobilize ourselves in the millions, to resolve this in our interests, in the interests of humanity, which are fundamentally different from and opposed to those of the ruling class.

This, of course, does not mean that the struggle among the powers that be is irrelevant or unimportant; rather, the way to understand and approach this (and this is a point that must also be repeatedly driven home to people, including through necessary struggle, waged well) is in terms of how it relates to, and what openings it can provide for, “the struggle from below”—for the mobilization of masses of people around the demand that the whole regime must go, because of its fascist nature and actions and what the stakes are for humanity.

Let me offer a few thoughts on the past week in that light.

Sharp Conflict at the Top

First, the hearings both revealed and covered up deep contradictions. Real questions of legitimacy—that is, the right of the government to use force in wars and domestic suppression (a right that in normal times is largely taken for granted)—lurked just beneath the surface. As has been pointed out of late, if people do not believe the president is telling the truth, they are much less likely to fight and die in a war he declares. Playing the “liar” card could have unpredictable consequences. Real things are being risked.

Two sides were clashing, and there is no “great and mighty Wizard of Oz” behind the scenes pulling levers and creating effects; this is real. One side—the “Republi-fascists” grouped around Trump and Pence—has gone all-in with the top-to-bottom fascist remaking of society. To the extent they have disagreements they have chosen to resolve those from within the camp of Trump; this is the most salient fact of political life in the U.S., and nothing in the past week changed that. The other side—the Democratic Party, the New York Times and other liberal media—opposes this, but within very strict limits. Neither side represents any fundamental break with white supremacy, patriarchy, imperialist domination—the argument is over what forms that should take and how it should be justified, or legitimized. The very fact that the terms of the debate are over whether one side may be sacrificing core imperialist interests in attempting to move closer to Russia, whether the “sanctity” of U.S. elections has been interfered with by a foreign power (while the U.S. has a history of not only interfering but canceling elections all over the world: Iran in 1953, Guatemala in 1954, Congo in 1961, Chile in 1973, Honduras in 2009, and more) and whether the president is too uncooperative with the (highly repressive and murderous) “intelligence community” says a lot about the constraints within which these senators and commentators are trying to keep things: again, constraints about how BEST to dominate the world.

Where the People’s Interests Lie

Underneath, however, simmer a whole host of issues on which the fascists actually are moving with speed and determination to remake the “social compact,” or the norms that make people feel the government is legitimate. This fascist agenda includes the enforcement of reactionary traditionalist Christian fundamentalist values in the public and legal spheres, violating separation of church and state, as well as what society has come to accept (through much struggle!) about the role and autonomy of women as human beings, and the rights of LGBTQ people to equal rights and basic dignity; the reinforcement of the most vicious and openly violent forms of racism as once again common in American life, now enhanced by the internet, along with policies in education, health care, and housing that are genocidal in their effect on “minorities”; the demonization and persecution of immigrants; a much more openly predatory and chauvinist policy around the world; the stripping away of those environmental protections that do exist; the denial of the existence of objective reality against which statements can be tested as either true or false; and many others. All this would be enforced by 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.’” (From “What IS Fascism?”)

This is why the most fundamental interests of the masses of people—of humanity—demand that this regime be driven from power.

Those ruling class figures opposing this believe such a move to be extremely risky and aim to at least slow it down, mitigate it or even prevent it because they think the Trump/Pence regime, as currently constituted, risks strategic disaster—for their empire. But they don’t want to oppose Trump in ways that risk further destabilization and mass upheaval from below, which in their eyes could put the empire at even greater risk. For this reason, they are trying to confine things to a narrow range of questions.

At the same time, the Trump-Pence clique has in response heightened its attacks, focusing on its ruling class rivals—firing Comey, continuing to threaten to jail Hillary Clinton, etc. Trump’s defiant speech at the same time of the Comey testimony to an audience of Christian fascist clergy made this clear. Speaking of the administration’s attempt to more aggressively assert Christian fascist power in the “public square,” he said: “The entrenched interests and failed bitter voices in Washington will do everything in their power to try and stop us from this righteous cause, to try to stop all of you. They will lie. They will obstruct. They will spread their hatred and their prejudice, but we will not back down from doing what is right. Because as the Bible tells us, we know the truth will prevail.”

In sum: the conflict is sharp, the stakes are extremely high, and it is not under anyone’s control. But within the ruling class the battle is ultimately over how best to maintain and expand exploitation and domination, not how to end it... while for the masses of people it is over how to drive this regime from power and go forward to fight for and create a whole better world.

On What Terms Will This Get Fought Out?

Second, the terms in which the Democrats are fighting this out are aimed at more deeply reinforcing the legitimacy of the system as a whole, especially among those sections of people who are most inclined to justice and liberation. Heads of the FBI and CIA, as well as the institutions themselves, are being offered up as heroes, when in fact their history and current-day roles have been nothing but cold-eyed blood-soaked butchery. See (“Sordid History and Great Crimes of the FBI” and the American Crime series.) The refrains of the “greatness of American democracy” and the “shining city on the hill” are being played like a pipe organ—while the brute fact that this country’s hallowed institutions were never great and were built on genocide and slavery and kept going through imperialist war and plunder gets covered over.

Going along with this, they have sought to channel people’s outrage against the Trump/Pence agenda overall into the elections, lobbying, etc. Significantly, even as the Trump-Pence mobs become increasingly emboldened in the streets, ruling class liberals are spending a great deal of energy “policing” the opposition (blackballing people, like Kathy Griffin or Reza Aslan, who step out of what they deem to be acceptable expressions of opposition, denouncing students and others who righteously resist fascists for supposedly “violating free speech,” etc.). They do this not only to placate the fascists but to keep “the resistance” within certain strict bounds.

Yes, the Democrats do want to at least slow down the fascist machine; but they do not want to do so in a way that runs the risk of millions getting beyond their control, even though that is the only way to actually STOP the machine. This is because, as Obama said after the election, in the final analysis they “are all on the same team”—and their “team’s” opponents are not just their rivals worldwide but even more essentially the masses of people whom they exploit, suppress, delude, and when necessary violently and viciously repress.

Deadly Wishful Thinking

Right now, it is being “patiently explained” to the millions who hate Trump that “this will be a long process... requiring both patience and hard work within the system to make it work.” Yet, we are reassured, “if only we put our faith in this, the regime will be turned out of office or at least prevented from doing harm of the magnitude that requires serious social upheaval.” Meanwhile, the fascist juggernaut steamrolls ahead; incalculable damage is done every day to oppressed peoples within the U.S. and worldwide; and the real threat of nuclear war continues to loom. (A few examples from the last few weeks: Trump’s Middle East trip and escalation of U.S.-backed terror in Yemen, U.S. pullout from Paris Climate Accord, the reign of terror against immigrants, the demonization of LGBTQ people, pushing the escalation of police terror.)

The notions now being promoted that Trump/Pence are essentially being thwarted, or that the regime will somehow “implode,” or that the side of the people is winning—none of which is anywhere close to being true—are extremely harmful. This is like wishing many happy returns of the day to someone with Stage 4 cancer, when the situation demands a desperate search for a cure.

The Need to Fight for Humanity’s Interests

Yet even with all the constraints the Democrats try to put on this, they still walk a tightrope; things could spin out of their control. And that leads to the third, and most essential, point: a crisis like this is not a time to wait or let things run their course, but a rare opportunity that must be seized. It is a time for actions—actions that are not hemmed in by the calculus of one or another supporter of empire, but actions that sharply call out the FASCIST nature of this regime, that demand it MUST GO NOW, and that aim to resolve this “in the interests of humanity, which are fundamentally different from and opposed to those of the ruling class.” When the normal “workday routine” is disrupted and people crowd around in offices or even go to bars to watch congressional hearings—that is not a time to leave the field, but to find the ways to flood into the opening provided and change the terms, either on the spot or in the aftermath.

When there are sharp differences among the rulers, there are potential openings for the ruled. A force that through its actions and words draws out the real stakes of things—what this fascist regime will mean for people worldwide, and what it is already meaning, in all its dimensions—a force that insists on fighting this coming from the interests of all humanity (and follows the implications of that) and not “the preservation of American security interests”—can have a great effect in changing the whole political equation.

Here a historical analogy can be drawn: in the slave empires of the “new world” (including, of course, the U.S.), those times in which differences among the rulers over how best to preserve slavery (or their rule more generally) came to the fore and sharpened up were times in which the enslaved people and their allies could both sense weakness in their enemies and the chance that a different—a better—world was possible. Closer to our times, in the U.S. in the 1960s, the clash at the top over how best to preserve the oppression of Black people (even if in new forms) and how best to defend U.S. imperialist interests around the world, as well as how to “manage” other social upheaval, was part of what served to heighten the struggle of the people. People, for a few short years, broke free of the bounds and real gains were made and battles won, at least for a period before the system itself—which remained intact—was able to regroup and reassert itself.

The kinds of conflicts going on right now could provide similar openings. But the converse is true as well: if these openings are not seized... if people remain in a passive position while fascism is in no way backing off but in fact is intensifying and doubling down... then the consequences for humanity will be dire.



       

 

 


 

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Revolution #495 June 12, 2017

June 10:

Confronting Fascist Anti-Muslim Rallies Across the Country

June 12, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

On Saturday, June 10, vicious anti-Muslim fascists rallied in over 20 cities across the country—organized by “Act for America,” the largest anti-Muslim hate group in the U.S., with direct connections to the Trump/Pence White House. Claiming they were protesting Sharia law, the rallies were in fact explicitly organized to attack all Muslims.1 In many cities in the South and Southwest, their ranks were openly armed to the teeth, including armed groups like the Oath Keepers, the Proud Boys, and others.

These pro-Trump anti-Muslim rallies were confronted by forces standing with Muslim people, and exposing the blood on the hands of these racist white supremacists for the recent attacks on and murders of courageous people who have stepped in to stop physical violence against Muslims. Anti-fascists were arrested at a number of these confrontations, including in Minneapolis, Seattle, Denver, New York and Santa Clara.

Seattle

About 75 fascists at Seattle City Hall were drowned out by over a thousand people protesting against them with constant noise from drums, air horns, whistles, bugles, pots and pans, and chants. There were people young and old, and from various political outlooks, many Muslims, people from other religions, and atheists. People chanted “No ban, No wall, the Trump regime must fall!” “No hate, no fear, Muslims are welcome here!” “No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA!”

Refuse Fascism brought a banner displaying large photos of Ricky John Best, Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, and Micah David-Cole Fletcher, and also a picture of Rahma Warsame, the Muslim woman severely beaten by a white supremacist in Ohio a week ago after she defended a Muslim friend. The Seattle Times quoted one person holding the banner as saying “It’s up to the people to stop the Trumpist regime.... He has to be stopped.”

After the fascist rally ended, the protesters marched to Occidental Square to listen to Muslim and other speakers denouncing the anti-Muslim bigotry inflamed by the Trump/Pence regime. Fascists came and provoked the rally, and police rushed in, doused the anti-fascists with pepper spray and arrested several.

New York City

For more than three hours, Foley Square in NYC was the site of a tense standoff as more than 200 protesters condemned and confronted a group of about 100 racist anti-Muslim fascists. People carried signs like “Drive Fascists Out of NYC! No to Anti-Muslim Bigotry” and “Smash Racist Ban on Muslims and Refugees! Let Them In!” Refuse Fascism was there with the huge “NO!” signs, and their large banner with their slogan in many languages: “NO! In the Name of Humanity; We REFUSE to Accept a Fascist America. Drive Out the Trump/Pence Regime!” They carried beautiful photos of the people recently attacked, two of them murdered, by these neo-Nazi, anti-Muslim forces. Refuse Fascism repeatedly called on people to give tribute to these heroes, and challenged everyone within earshot to “live like them.”

The mass blowing of whistles and air horns and the beating of drums was almost deafening. At one point, Refuse Fascism led a section of the demonstration to cross the street in order to challenge these creatures up close. Later, a phalanx of cops marched at the anti-fascist demonstrators, shoving and knocking people down while they attacked and arrested one youth. People were furious, and backed the cops right to the paddy wagon where they had taken the youth. At the end, Refuse Fascism led a march to nearby New York City Hall where other forces standing with Muslims had rallied earlier.

San Francisco Bay Area

Act for America called their anti-Muslim rally in Santa Clara in the heart of Silicon Valley, where there are many Muslim, Arab, and Iranian workers and families. About 50 people stood at the corner of a wide boulevard with red, white, and blue signs claiming Islam is against “our Constitution,” waved American flags, and periodically shouted “We Love Trump.”

The Unity Rally called by a multi-faith coalition drew Muslim, Christian, and Jewish religious organizations and congregations, and many others. Hundreds of people lined the street kitty-corner from the bigots for an entire long block. Some of the signs were “Stop the Hatred. Muslims Welcome Here” and “Love your Neighbor.” A group of Japanese Americans brought enlargements of posters that had ordered Japanese into concentration camps during World War 2.

Refuse Fascism rallied directly across the street from the ACT rally, and eventually drew about 100 people. This protest was very boisterous, as its goal was to “drown out” the anti Muslim bigots. Three Refuse Fascism activists were detained, then cited and released.

Boston

Approximately 50 fascists rallied at the Boston Commons in an attempt to stage their “March Against Sharia.” But before they could get organized they were confronted by counter-demonstrators who soon equaled or slightly outnumbered them. Refuse Fascism brought a contingent; the antifa network and activists from the LGBTQ community were also there.

As the fascists moved from one area of the Commons to another, attempting to form up their march, they were continually confronted by the counter-demonstrators, chanting “No Trump, No KKK, No Fascist USA!,” “No Hate, No Fear, Immigrants are Welcome Here,” and other chants.

Minneapolis

Three hundred protesters with signs including “Refugees Welcome, Racists Out” and “Love Your Neighbor” confronted several dozen fascists. Fascist signs included “Islam is un-American” and “End Muslim Immigration,” exposing their actual target—not Sharia law but all Muslims. After a dozen Oath Keepers went into the crowd of people opposing the fascist rally to provoke incidents, police used those incidents to attack and arrest several anti-fascist protesters.

Houston

At the San Jacinto Battleground, about 80-100 anti-Muslim bigots rallying were drowned out by 30-40 counter-protesters. Alternating between constant chanting and blaring Middle Eastern and Latin American music from loudspeakers, the counter-protesters pretty much kept the fascists from getting their message across. Across town, hard-core fascists staged an armed occupation at Hermann Park in the guise of defending a statue of Sam Houston, the slave-owning commander in chief of the Republic of Texas.

Photo: AP

Austin. (Video: Twitter/@NBBarrios)

Austin

A few dozen of the pro-Trump “March Against Sharia” protestors rallied at the Texas statehouse on June 10—but they didn’t march anywhere. Their attacks on Muslims were drowned out by hundreds of counter-demonstrators who mocked and yelled at them for hours. They chanted “No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA” at the anti-Muslim forces. One counter-protester challenged their attacks on Muslims by listing the crimes committed in the history of America.  “Do you know what the f___ has happened on this land?” she yelled. How the f___ do you think your people got into power? F___ing genocide!”

Phoenix

Many of the anti-Muslim demonstrators at the rally in Paradise Valley Park were armed with handguns on their hips, while 20 members of the Arizona Liberty Guard militia, dressed in fatigues and carrying AR-15s, patrolled the area. Another dozen armed Oath Keepers were patrolling the crowd. There was a CounterACT Hate demonstration that took place on the other end of the park led by a Democratic U.S. Senate candidate.

 

1. See “Five Things You Need to Know About the Anti-Muslim Fascists Rallying on June 10,” by Sunsara Taylor. [back]

 

 

       

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/495/to-people-coming-to-hear-naomi-klein-en.html

Revolution #495 June 12, 2017

To People Coming to Hear Naomi Klein

"The World We Need" Requires the New Communism Developed by Bob Avakian

June 12, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Naomi Klein, the influential social critic and activist closely identified with the environmental, indigenous peoples, and other progressive movements, is rolling out a new book, No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need. It purports to be a deep analysis of the Trump regime and a manifesto for meaningful action. It is neither.

The book will be released on June 13, but the Introduction has been made available. And what she puts forward is an analytically misleading and disarming take on Trump—and a feel-good politics of affirmation that leads away from confronting and acting on the dangerous reality we face.

The Nature of the System, the Danger Posed by the Trump/Pence Fascist Regime

Klein studiously avoids any real reckoning with the sea change embodied by Trump: that a fascist regime has come to power. Klein sees the 2016 election as the “naked corporate takeover” of the political system. This papers over the reality that we live under an economic and political system in which the state serves, and violently enforces, the rule and strategic interests of a capitalist-imperialist class—while different sections of the ruling class battle out what those interests are.

Donald Trump is many ugly, grasping, and despicable things. But what fundamentally defines him is that he is a fascist: the point man of a section of the ruling class that over the decades has gained a great deal of initiative—and that aims to totally restructure how society is governed, to pulverize traditional democratic rights, to fan and viciously mobilize racism, xenophobia, misogyny, and to reinstitute oppressive “traditional values.”

Klein sees the problem of society as that of a “neoliberal” and “deregulated” capitalism, not capitalism as such. In the new book she includes a document called “The Leap Manifesto.” It calls for all kinds of transitions and shifts in the workings of the economy and “bottom-up” activism that in no way challenge the fundamental economic and power relations of the system. She wants to find solutions within the framework of the system that is the cause of the excruciating problems we face.

There Is a Way Out and Forward

As for the heart of Klein’s argument: She declares that it is not enough to say NO... we need a positive YES. She calls for resistance; and NO, she says, will get you into the streets. But you need a YES to keep fighting. You need a “story,” she argues, that offers people whose basic needs are lacking something positive to work towards. And then she makes her crucial move: “we don’t know what that vision looks like.” BUT WE DO KNOW.

That YES exists TODAY! There is a vision of and a scientific approach to getting beyond a world of exploitation and oppression, of misery and hunger, and the squandering of human potential. This is the new communism developed over the last four decades by the revolutionary leader Bob Avakian. It is a tremendously liberating and exciting breakthrough for humanity. It is the scientific way to understand, in their complexity, the monumental problems that the seven billion on this planet face. It provides the strategic orientation for building a movement for an actual revolution and for making a revolution that can actually win against the massive death machine of this system. How can we create a society that meets the basic material and social needs of people while opening up whole new vistas for cultural and intellectual ferment and creativity? How can we actually work to uproot racism and patriarchy, including in people’s thinking and values? And create an economy that interacts sustainably with nature—and a society that takes as its starting point not “my country” but the interests of humanity. The new communism answers this. It is the scientific method and approach for knowing and changing the world.

If you are concerned and outraged by the injustices and horrors that are the world of today—then you owe it to yourself to engage with Avakian’s work... with THE NEW COMMUNISM: The Science, the Strategy, the Leadership for an Actual Revolution, and a Radically New Society on the Road to Real Emancipation, with the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, and other writings. As Avakian himself has said, the new communism needs to be taken up “everywhere people are rising up in rebellion but are hemmed in, let down and left to the mercy of murderous oppressors, or misled onto paths which only reinforce, often with barbaric brutality, the enslaving chains of tradition; everywhere people need a way out of their desperate conditions, but do not see the source of their suffering and the path forward out of the darkness.”

       

Another world is possible. An actual revolution to truly “change everything” and achieve a world community of humanity is possible.

But we can’t get there if we do not RIGHT NOW act on the NO—and confront the Herculean, world-historic responsibility, and carry out the fight, to drive out this fascist regime. This president and this ruling cabal pose a dire, an existential, threat to humanity. They are seeking to consolidate their rule. Trump has his fingers on nukes. Humanity demands of us that we resist with a “NO to a fascist America” and work urgently towards bringing millions into the streets to get rid of this regime.

And if we succeed, we will be in a qualitatively better position to make the revolution to overturn this system and to create a society and world in which, YES, human beings can truly flourish.

 

 

 


 

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Revolution #495 June 12, 2017

A Message to Those Who Claim to Defend "Free Speech"...

June 6, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Kathy Griffin Defies President and the Fascist Mob, Saying She Won't Be Silenced By Bullying and Threats

Read more

A Message to all those, including those “liberals and progressives,” who were so quick to denounce the students at Middlebury, the people at Berkeley, and others who have rightly and righteously protested and sought to shut down speakers who spew forth and lend “legitimacy” to fascist poison and aid the fascist regime in power—to those, who in attacking these anti-fascist protests, have raised, erroneously in those cases, the banner of “free speech” and “free expression”—where are you now? Are you rallying to the defense of Kathy Griffin, in the face of what is in fact a real and very serious attack on her and on the right of artistic freedom of expression, by very powerful and dangerous forces? And, if not, why not?!

 

 

 

       

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/495/refuse-fascism-july-15-2017-demonstrate-en.html

Revolution #495 June 12, 2017

Updated June 26, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

From RefuseFascism.org:

On July 15, 2017:

To all who agonize and rage at what’s being done to the people, protest and demand:

THE TRUMP/PENCE REGIME MUST GO!

In the Name of Humanity, We REFUSE to Accept a Fascist America!

 

Immigrants are full human beings, not “illegals” or criminals, to be demonized, terrorized, hunted down, locked up and thrown out.  NO! We will not accept the cruel and brutal future of the Trump/Pence Regime ... they must GO!

Muslims and refugees are full human beings, not people to be shunned, banned, and cast out to be swallowed up by oceans and wars.  NO!  We will not accept the cruel and brutal future of the Trump/Pence Regime . . . they must GO!

Women and LGBTQ people are full human beings, not objects to be grabbed, demeaned, victimized and denied their fundamental right to control their reproduction, and how they choose to live.  NO!  We will not accept the cruel and brutal future of the Trump/Pence Regime . . . they must GO!

Black and Latino people are full human beings, not people to be denied the right even to live, gunned down by the police with impunity, incarcerated in genocidal numbers, and denied basic rights. NO!  We will not accept the cruel and brutal future of the Trump/Pence Regime . . . they must GO!

The people of every country are full human beings, and not collateral damage to be subjected to massive bombing, invasions, occupations, the danger of nuclear war, and a program of “America First” that would bludgeon them into submission. NO! We will not accept the cruel and brutal future of the Trump/Pence Regime . . . they must GO!

The children, elderly, disabled and poor of this country, as in every country, should have food for sustenance, health care to live, homes to live in, and not be denied with cruel calculation for the benefit of the few.  NO!  We will not accept the cruel and brutal future of the Trump/Pence Regime . . . they must GO!

The earth and the species who inhabit it – including humanity – should sustain life and not be despoiled by ignorance, greed, and the disregard of science.  NO!  We will not accept the cruel and brutal future of the Trump/Pence Regime . . . they must GO!

IN THE NAME OF HUMANITY: THE TRUMP AND PENCE REGIME MUST GO! Only the people acting together in the streets and public square can force this demand before the world.  Should we fail to do so, the future and values we aspire to could be brutally cut short by the actions of the Trump/Pence Regime.

The Trump/Pence government has been step by step criminalizing dissent and bludgeoning the truth with worse to come.  Stripping away basic rights and the rule of law is at the core of fascism.  Group after group is demonized and targeted along a trajectory leading to real horrors.  We must not let this be normalized. History has shown that fascism must be stopped before it becomes too late.

The demand: “The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go,” can unify people and our resistance. There are different programs of struggle against the multiple attacks of the Trump/Pence Regime, people have diverse views for how to achieve a better future, and all of this should be aired, shared, and debated. But, if we don’t stop the consolidation of fascism by organizing together to demand that the Trump/Pence Regime must go, people’s lives here and around the world, and the earth itself will face greater catastrophe.

Now is the time to act. The scandal and turmoil the regime faces is an opening through which the mass action of the people could burst through and make our demand resound throughout the country, in the halls of power, and around the world.

On July 15th “The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go,” must be spoken, shouted, and acted on with fiercely creative determination. We have righteously marched for women, for science, for the climate, for immigrants, for Black Lives, for LGBTQ Pride.  Now the resistance must pull together to drive this regime from power.

July 15th must be a day when every person, every group – religious, community, service, political organization – all who feel the tremendous threat to humanity posed by the Trump/Pence regime – stand together showing the world that people here are determined that this regime must go ... not in two years or four, but now.

July 15th must mark a leap to more sustained struggle, inspiring people to see the possibility of ousting this regime through unleashing the tremendous power of the people – aiming for the time when millions 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.

On July 15, with conviction and courage, overcoming fear and uncertainty, we will act together to resist and say NO!... Not for ourselves alone, but in the name of humanity.

Endorse the Call for July 15 Protests HERE

Contact Refuse Fascism to volunteer, or to make
your organization a partner or co-sponsor of July 15
917-407-1286; info@refusefascism.org

 

 


 

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Revolution #495 June 12, 2017

Received from Refuse Fascism:

RefuseFascism.org Calls for Mass Defiance of Fascist Trolls

May 23, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

NO!
RefuseFascism.org Calls for Mass Defiance of Fascist Trolls
In the Name of Humanity – We REFUSE to Accept a Fascist America!

No! In the Name of Humanity, We Refuse to Accept a FAscist America - refusefascism.org
RefuseFascism.org

May 23  Networks of “alt-right” fascists have unleashed a campaign to dig up and publish everything they can find about the personal lives on the internet of the thousands of individuals who signed the Refuse Fascism Call to Action: “NO! In the Name of Humanity – We REFUSE to Accept a Fascist America! DRIVE OUT THE TRUMP/PENCE REGIME!”  RefuseFascism.org’s Call has been published in the New York Times and the Washington Post with prominent signatories, and the first and last names of 4,600 signatories are listed with the Call on RefuseFascism’s website.

The website BuzzFeed published an article on this right-wing trolling on Sunday May 21. RefuseFascism.org immediately issued a statement.

Every person of conscience who believes in the right of people to stand up and petition for what they believe to be right and true without harassment or intimidation needs to condemn this outrageous trolling ... and to stand up to these fascists by SIGNING and SPREADING the RefuseFascism Call to Action.

This alt-right campaign is aimed at intimidating, silencing, and even unleashing harm against those who have the courage to stand up and say NO!  The comments on the fascists’ listserves are vile,anti-Semitic, racist and reactionary.  Let the words of one of these fascists reveal their mindset and reactionary aims:

“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.”

Their campaign directly serves Trump/Pence fascist regime. These words, from the Refuse Fascism Call to Action, are borne out every day:

“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... What is crucial to understand is that once in power fascism essentially eliminates traditional democratic rights.” [emphasis added]

This attack on the signers of Refusefascism.org’s Call to Action is part of a dangerous wave of mobilization of the Trump/Pence base: a KKK-style torch-light rally in Virginia against the removal of a Confederate statue; a Mississippi state representative called for lynching those who took down the Confederate statues; hundreds of fascist thugs went to Berkeley to assault anti-Trump protesters; Breitbart, Hannity and other fascists launched a campaign to intimidate CUNY School of Public Health into dis-inviting Linda Sarsour from giving a commencement address.

This is all part of consolidating fascism. The danger posed is not to one or even all of the organizations and movements, it is a threat to humanity. Refusing fascism means driving out the Trump/Pence Regime. It means resisting the attacks of the regime and the attacks from those thugs who would defend the regime. Refusefascism.org will not betray the righteous stand that people took in signing the Refuse Fascism Call to Action. Anyone harassed by these fascists must be defended by the people. We will NOT be intimidated. The signatory list will stay on line. As an act of defiance against this cowardly fascist attack, RefuseFascism.org calls on people to sign and circulate the Call to Action and double the number of signatories.

We draw inspiration from the more than 10,000 professors and others who, when their colleagues were placed on a McCarthyite Professor Watchlist after the election of Trump, added their names to that Watchlist in solidarity.

As it says in the RefuseFascism Call to Action, “...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.


 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/494/skybreak-getting-clearer-on-the-need-for-revolution-en.html

Revolution #495 June 12, 2017

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

Getting Clearer on the Need for Revolution—
Breaking With Wrong Ideas and Illusions

June 4, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

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

Q: In the process of coming to see the need for revolution and communism, what were some of the key previous ways of thinking that you had to break with?

AS: Well, let me see. One thing—it didn’t last long, but when I was in high school, I briefly went through a little bit of a pacifist stage. I remember making little peace symbols out of copper wire. [laughs] Look, like most decent people, I’m not inclined to simply accept human suffering and death and destruction—if this could be avoided, I’d say so much the better. But I came to understand, even early on, the nature of the system that dominates this society and that causes so much exploitation and oppression, and I came to understand the tremendous violence of that system—violence that is perpetrated on the people on a daily basis. All you have to do is look at all the police brutality and murder that goes on, that everybody’s been talking about lately, and which has been going on for a long, long, time. That’s one example of it. But there is also what they do in the course of their imperialist wars—and they’re ruthless. I mean, these are very, very violent people and very, very violent institutions. And, yes, they’re very powerful. They have tremendously sophisticated and developed weaponry and military forces, and so on. So you’d have to be very non-materialist and very naive to think that you could just, at some point, politely say to them: “Excuse me, but could you please just step aside and let us run society in a more reasonable and rational manner that would benefit most of humanity? Oh, and by the way, you and your way of doing things? You’re out!” [laughs] To think that they wouldn’t come back at you with tremendous violence, with everything they could throw at you—you’d have to be very naive to think that. So, this became very clear to me. I don’t know any revolutionary communists who are thirsting for blood and carnage, or any such thing. You are talking about decent people, who are not cold to the reality, who don’t fail to understand what it means for people to suffer and die and to lose close friends and family. But yes, I broke with pacifism, even in high school. Like I said, it was a very brief phase, because in those days people were talking about what it was that imperialism was actually doing here and around the world, so you got to see and hear about their tremendous brutality, the tremendous violence they were routinely perpetrating. People were talking about it, and were willing to investigate it, and were willing to share that knowledge with each other. They were not just trying to cultivate their own gardens.

Ardea Skybreak Science and Revolution excerpts A New Theoretical Framework for a New Stage of Communist Revolution What Is New in the New Synthesis? The Constitution for the New Socialist Republic--A Visionary and Concrete Application of the New Synthesis Serious Engagement with the New Synthesis--The Difference It Could Make An Explorer, a Critical Thinker, a Follower of BA Some Thank Yous That Need To Be Said Aloud Order the book here Download the full interview in PDF format here

So again, this was a time when there was a lot of mass discussion and debate around such things as the question of reform versus revolution. Would it be better to try to “work within the system,” or outside the system? This was a mass question in society at that time. Could you change things through elections? Could you just try to find more progressive candidates? Is that the way you should try to change things? Or did you need to recognize that the system itself was functioning on a basis that could not really accommodate to a new and more just and equitable way of life, and that could not deal with getting rid of all these injustices and outrages and violence, and that it would therefore have to be forcibly removed as a system in order to clear the way for a new kind of society?

Now, people in those days in the U.S. certainly didn’t know too much about how to go about making a revolution. At the time I personally certainly didn’t know anything about revolutionary organization or revolutionary strategy. When I was first being affected by these social movements and developments, I had never even heard of the concept of what’s known as a Leninist party, a vanguard party. I had no sense of why one would even need such a party in order to be able to carry out a revolution. And there were a lot of other things that even revolutionary-inclined people just didn’t know anything about, but that would be essential for making an actual revolution in a country like the U.S. For instance, how would you go about uniting people very broadly, but still manage to maintain strategic focus on preparing minds and organizing forces for an actual revolution aimed at dismantling the existing system and at setting up the basis for a socialist society? What forces should you involve? What forces should you rely on? There were many, many such questions. What kind of stages might this go through? And how would you even begin to set up a new society? Again, things were very primitive in some ways back then, and there were more questions than answers, but many people were actively searching for those answers. And what was impressive was how many people cared, how much they cared, and how many people were willing to sacrifice a lot of their own lives and a lot of their—frankly, a lot of their own happiness, or stability, or safety, or things like that. And that was inspiring, too. People in large numbers were willing not only to dream of a better world, but also to take steps and act in accordance with those dreams.

Personally, I would say that the other thing I had to break with was...look, I didn’t come from the hard streets. My family was always strapped for money when I was growing up but, for a number of reasons, I was able to get a very fancy education, and therefore I had a lot of entrée, or access, into a very privileged world of intellectuals. And that meant that there was a basis for me to end up having a pretty comfortable professional life, doing all the things that I really enjoyed doing, and making a living at it. I was lucky enough at a very young age to be able to have a lot of very positive experiences that way: to travel internationally, to conduct scientific experimentation, and basically to thoroughly enjoy myself. But at a certain point, I really had to confront the question of “self,” and how much was I going to remain on a track that encouraged and basically promoted and prioritized my own well-being, versus how much was I going to dedicate myself to trying to make a better world for humanity in general, and work on relegating “self” to a more secondary position, and no longer proceed from prioritizing just my own personal needs.

And look, I suspect there are quite a few people today who are like I was back then. People who have a lot of potential, who could make a lot of contributions to the revolution, but who still have some trouble with the notion of subordinating “self” to something larger than themselves and putting first things first, on the right basis. Especially given the prevailing “me, me, me” culture of today! But I guess, first of all, you have to care, right? That’s one thing that in my own experience I could never quite shake off: I actually did care a lot about the outrages, the injustices, the tremendous unnecessary suffering people were subjected to in both the United States and in the Third World. Now, caring, in itself, that’s a good start, but it’s not quite enough. The next question becomes: Are you going to do some work to get a deeper scientific understanding of why all these outrages keep happening? Why can’t we get past all this? Why do these same problems keep coming up over and over again? Why can’t we get to a better society, to a more reasonable and rational society, that would actually benefit the vast majority of people?

Then, once you start finding the scientific answers to those kinds of questions, a new set of moral questions comes up. OK, now you know enough: In at least a basic sense you know what the source of the problem is; you know that the system can’t be reformed; you know that it’s going to take a revolution, and that revolution is a complicated process; and you also know there aren’t enough people who have this understanding yet, that there aren’t enough people who are part of this process, and that a whole lot more people are going to need to get involved for there to be any chance at succeeding in making an actual revolution. So then that poses a moral dilemma, a dilemma of conscience. You get to that point, and you basically have two choices: you can either look at yourself in the mirror and say: I know too much to turn away, and I really have to become part of this; or you say: Well, you know, I kinda like my life, thank you very much, and I think I’ll just go on and do what I feel like doing as an individual, and turn my back on the people who are suffering under this system.

Once again we are at a time when a lot of people should be asking themselves these types of questions.

Q: I think this relates very much to what BA talks about in terms of the head and the heart. There is the scientific understanding that the world doesn’t have to be this way, and it could be radically different. And then it seems like—another thing your own experience points to, including for intellectuals in particular, is having to make the decision—at a certain point you made the decision to fully give your heart to humanity and to the revolution and to the masses of people. You could have had, I’m sure, a career as a natural scientist...

AS:     Well, I did.

Q: Well, you did. But I mean you could have continued to focus on that career. Right? You could have kept going that way. And you made a decision at a certain point to give your heart to the revolution. So how did you make that decision to give your heart to the revolution?

AS: Well, I think it’s what I was just saying: realizing that I knew too much at that point to turn away from what I understood. What I understood on a scientific basis. Also, having gained some sense of the revolutionary possibilities. I never thought that the revolutionary process would be an easy process. I always expected that there would be sacrifices and risks. Like many people who came out of the ‘60s, you expected that you might be jailed, you might be killed—just for opposing U.S. imperialism. I mean, look at what happened to the people at Kent State and Jackson State, for instance. They were college students—but that didn’t save them. When you get to a certain point, if you have a heart and you care, and in addition to that you also have some scientific understanding of problems and solutions, then it becomes pretty difficult to live with yourself if you turn away from all that. Because then every single time you open a newspaper, or you turn on the TV or something, and there’s Trayvon Martin dead in the street, or Eric Garner, who can’t breathe, being choked by the police right on video, or Mike Brown gunned down so brutally—and all the Oscar Grants and all the Amadou Diallos and all the Sean Bells. And they stay with you, you don’t turn away, and you don’t forget them. There are so many outrages like that, and when I see those things, I feel like any one of them is enough for me to want to make a revolution. Any one of them is enough of a reason! Because I do understand: it’s not an accident, it’s not an anomaly, it’s not something that “just happened” because of some individual rogue cop or something. I understand how all this is systemic, it’s built into the very fabric of the capitalist-imperialist system. That’s why these things keep on happening. And it’s the same thing every time a woman or a young girl is cast out by her family for being pregnant, or a woman becomes pregnant and seeks an abortion but she can’t get one because there are no longer abortion clinics in her state, or she has to travel many miles away, and she ends up not being able to get an abortion and is forced, literally forced, to give birth to a child she never wanted or is simply not ready to raise and take care of because of her circumstances. I look at all that cruelty and I recognize it as a form of slavery. A woman who is denied the right to control her own reproduction is reduced to the status of a slave, and all women everywhere are objectively degraded by this. So again, all these outrages, any one of these outrages...that’s enough for me to want a revolution and to get serious about it.

Or every time this system uses the death penalty against people—you hear about people who’ve been convicted who were clearly innocent, and who’ve been thrown into the dungeons of the prison system for decades, or are executed; or people with obvious mental health problems who are executed. Any one of those kinds of things is enough.

Every time they turn away people at the border, or they deport people and break up families, or they gun down people on the border, and label people as “illegals”.... Any one of those examples is enough for me to want a revolution, and to want to work for it.

Every time I see a homeless person, trundling along, trying to find a place to sleep for the night, because they can’t...because in this incredibly wealthy society, there’s not even a place for them to get basic shelter! Or people are going hungry. BA sharply called this out: why isn’t there a right to eat?

Or when I hear about things like the U.S. sending its drones and its bomber planes to countries in the Middle East, dropping bombs on people, wiping out civilians, I don’t think about, Oh, what fancy technology they have, or how clever those drones are. I’m thinking about bodies exploding and brains splattered, and families broken up, and suffering horribly. Any one of those things is enough to want a revolution.

When I think of women throughout the world and the sex trade, and the promotion of pornography, where generations of boys and young men are being trained to think of sex basically in rape-culture terms, and they have no idea—nobody seems to have any idea any more—of what really good sex is, or feels like, or how to have decent relationships. And there’s this constant promotion of the degradation and dehumanization of women as mere sex objects and a widespread and worldwide trade in young girls and women as literal sex slaves. When is enough enough?

So any one of those stories, that you can find in any daily newspaper, or on the television news or on the internet, is enough of a reason for me. And multiply that by millions of times. But it wouldn’t be enough if I just thought, this is horrible, this is tragic, this is terrible. If that’s all I thought, or understood, then frankly I would probably get pretty discouraged and depressed about it all, and I would probably kind of turn away from it. Maybe I would just stop reading newspapers, or watching the news or checking things out on the internet, you know, because it would be so discouraging. But, I don’t turn away from it, and I don’t get numb to it. And the reason I don’t turn away is because I do understand what the scientific evidence tells us about what these problems are rooted in, in terms of the fundamental form of organization of a capitalist-imperialist society. I understand that these things are direct outgrowths of that particular form of societal organization. I understand that, in past times, human beings found very different ways of organizing their societies (not that they were any great shakes, or free of oppression because they weren’t), and this reminds me that human beings could once again re-organize their societies on a completely different basis: one such radical reorganization would be to replace the existing capitalist-imperialist form of society with a socialist society, that is in turn moving in the direction of an even more fully emancipatory communist society. And that would be, I am absolutely convinced, a far better world, not just for a handful of people here or there, but for the vast majority of human beings across the planet.

So that’s what keeps me going: the understanding of the problem, and the understanding that there is actually a material basis, in the existing relations of society, to transform things in that direction, toward revolution and socialism, and ultimately a communist world. It’s not gonna happen all by itself. It’s not like the system’s going to collapse by itself and then one fine day we’ll wake up and say, oooh, I guess capitalism collapsed, so now we can build up a new and better society. No. It is going to require conscious human intervention. It is going to require people banding together to consciously work on the problem, to work on those contradictions, to develop a process that creates new conditions that will ripen towards being able to have a revolution. It is going to require that. But it is possible.

And I’d much rather live in that kind of new society, and any sane person should want to do that, too.

Q: I think part of the point is that a lot more intellectuals and scientists need to do what you did, and give their heart to the revolution and to the masses of people.

AS: Well, obviously I agree with that, because you need more and more people to join in the revolutionary process. But I don’t want to make it sound as though it’s something that people have to do right when they are first learning about it. If people are newly checking this out, it would be pretty daunting to think like, Oh my god, I can’t even look into this, I can’t even learn about it, because these people are gonna put pressure on me and ask me to become part of everything right away, and to commit my life to this, or something. And I think it’s important to understand that people can be part of the process at different levels and to different degrees. Just make a start. There’s a place for everyone. There’s a place for people to come into things, and learn about it, to just check things out, and become informed. That’s the first step.

Educate yourself, become informed, and go regularly to that revcom.us website. Definitely check out BA’s works. Talk to people. Become part of the struggle around one or another issue of importance to you. Keep your ears open, study and learn, and evaluate things as you see what’s before you. You shouldn’t feel like you have to make a life commitment to things to just start getting into it. And the same thing in terms of being part of the process. There are many, many different ways that people can contribute to the process. Some people will devote their entire lives to it, and it will become the primary focus and priority of their lives. Other people will contribute to the extent they can in different ways: Some people will contribute money, some people will contribute support in different ways, some people will participate in helping to spread the word about one or another initiative, or they’ll contribute in other ways.

Once again, there is a real need for more and more people to join the revolutionary process, and a great need for growing numbers of people to actually dedicate their lives to this, in the fullest sense, but I’m trying to make the point that I don’t want people to feel like you have to go from zero to 60 right away. I’m a scientist in my approach. I don’t think anybody should jump to something just on the basis of, say, a few people talking about it. Come in and do the work, and check things out, and learn about things, and be part of the process. Ask your questions, learn more, ask more questions. Compare and contrast what you encounter with other viewpoints and approaches and methods. Above all, check it out in relation to reality, and see if it seems to correspond to reality as it actually is. And then act accordingly.

 

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/495/free-speech-in-socialism-en.html

Revolution #495 June 12, 2017

Why We Argue for Shutting Down Fascists Like Ann Coulter—And Why We Will Protect Free Speech in Socialist Society

June 12, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

For the past few months, and with increasing intensity, outright fascists have attempted to command the public stage and then, when they are met with opposition, have screamed “free speech.” We’ve exposed elsewhere the vicious hypocrisy of this on the part of the fascists and the great danger in the way all too many liberals have not only bowed down to this argument, but vociferously taken it up. (See video of a May 4 talk by Sunsara Taylor at the University of California Berkeley campus: “Battle for Berkeley: Why It’s Right and Righteous to Drive Fascists Off Campus, Out of Berkeley… and Out of Power!”) And we’ve spoken to the need to mobilize people to stand up to these fascists, to unapologetically shut them down and to drive them out of power altogether—and been in the middle of that mobilization ourselves.

At the same time, people raise the question: in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, and in many of Bob Avakian’s other writings, as well as other publications of the Party, the importance of dissent, and the contestation of opposing ideas, is emphasized; but in the recent (and ongoing) “Battle of Berkeley” you argue for not letting people like Ann Coulter speak but instead mobilizing opposition to drive such people off campus, out of Berkeley...and out of power. How do you explain this contradiction?

As a basic principle, it is ideas that are in opposition to the powers that be, and the prevailing norms, and which therefore have a hard time finding means and vehicles for expression, and are often the object of direct suppression—it is precisely those ideas whose expression needs to be protected, not those which have the force of governing powers and institutions behind them. 

This general principle should be applied differently in different concrete situations. In today’s circumstances, the purveyors of fascism and proponents of reactionary views and programs (Ann Coulter, for example) are given disproportionate means to spread their ideas. They get all sorts of official backing, media platforms and funds especially with this fascist regime now in power. However, proponents of countervailing, oppositional ideas—including views “outside the mainstream” that run counter to those of people in power, and especially the views of advocates for fundamental societal change—are often suppressed and in any case have to wage an uphill battle to be heard and to secure venues and means to spread their message. It is not a level playing field!!—and there is absolutely no need to provide reactionaries, and especially outright fascists, with additional platforms to spread their poison. Indeed, providing such platforms does great harm—it legitimizes and normalizes these views.

So, again, the question is: How would WE handle the contestation of ideas and dissent and unpopular ideas in socialist society, as embodied in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America. First, this situation is completely different. Why? Because at that point we would hold state power!! Under those circumstances, not only tolerating but even encouraging dissent, and the widespread contestation of even unpopular ideas, would be an integral part of our responsibilities, in line with our strategic objectives and the necessary direction of society towards the full emancipation of all of humanity. That is NOT the situation today, when we all live in societies characterized by oppressive class and social relations which are daily enshrined and reinforced by oppressive power relations (a reality that liberals like Frank Bruni or Van Jones always seem to conveniently ignore and leave out of their assessments when they defend the “right” of fascists to spew their poison).

So let’s look at what the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America does say on how this principle will be applied in socialist society. 

 

Article III. Rights of the People and the Struggle to Uproot All Exploitation and Oppression.

Section 2. Legal and Civil Rights and Liberties.

1. In keeping with what is set forth in this Constitution as a whole, and specifically in the above Section of this Article, the orientation of the government, and that promoted in society overall, must be to not only allow but to value dissent, as well as political, philosophical and in general intellectual and cultural ferment and diversity, and to promote and foster an atmosphere in which all this can flourish. This shall find expression and be embodied in government policy and action, as well as in the law, including that part of law and policy specifically intended to protect the legal and civil rights and liberties of the people in this Republic....

2. No person in the New Socialist Republic in North America shall be deprived of the rights set forth in this Constitution, except through due process of law....

3. The following shall apply with regard to the New Socialist Republic in North America and those residing within its territory:

A. Freedom of speech, of assembly and association, and of dissent and protest shall not be restricted, except in cases of violation of the law and through due process of law.

Expression of opposition to this Republic and its Constitution and government–including advocacy in favor of abolishing this Republic and replacing it with another kind of society and form of government–shall not be prohibited, and on the contrary shall be permitted and protected, except as this shall involve the commission, or an active conspiracy to commit, or the direct and immediate advocacy of, violent acts, which are not in self-defense, against the government or members of the government, or others residing in this Republic, or other actions which violate the law (but, once again, expression of opposition to this Republic and its government, or mere advocacy in favor of replacing this with another form of society and government, may not be declared and treated as a violation of the law).

 

This Constitution provides a concrete and visionary “blueprint” and perspective for a truly liberatory society, and is something that people really need to get into.

In sum, what is consistent here throughout is the principle that the proponents of unpopular ideas need to have the expression of those ideas protected. What is different is the application in a society in which a ruling class is enforcing the rule of capitalism, and dominating the media, educational system, etc. in such a way so as to ensure the domination of ideas reflecting and reinforcing its relations and values, especially right now when the outright fascist form of rule is moving to consolidate its domination (including in the sphere of ideas); and a revolutionary socialist state, in which the society is oriented toward human emancipation.

 

       

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/avakian/science/09ba-science...epistemology-and-morality-en.html

Revolution #495 June 12, 2017

The Science...Actual Revolution title image

Download PDF of entire work

Editors' note: The following is an excerpt from the new work by Bob Avakian, The New Communism. In addition to excerpts already posted on revcom.us, we will be running further excerpts from time to time on both revcom.us and in Revolution newspaper. These excerpts should serve as encouragement and inspiration for people to get into the work as a whole, which is available as a book from Insight Press. A prepublication copy is available on line at revcom.us.

This excerpt comes from the section titled "I. Method and Approach, Communism as a Science."

Excerpt from the section:
Epistemology and Morality, Objective Truth and Relativist Nonsense

Now, let’s return to the question of epistemology—and more specifically, epistemology and morality. I have made the point—and this is also in BAsics26—that there is a place where epistemology and morality meet.27 What does that mean? It means that, if you come to understand certain things, then the question poses itself: what do you do about what you’ve come to understand? Do you follow it, or do you turn away from it, or adulterate it, water it down and change it into something else? These are the places where epistemology and morality meet. And this doesn’t happen just once, it happens repeatedly in life and in an ongoing way, for everyone. The challenges repeatedly pose themselves. As you’re learning about life and the world, what do you do with what you’re learning?

This brings us back to a scientific approach to the truth, especially as this is posed, once again, against wrong ways of approaching the world—and, in particular, let’s talk some more about relativism. This is out there in a big way, and it’s openly promoted, especially in academia—maybe I’ve got a “jones” about this, but not without good reason—you get this nonsense that, not only is there no objective reality, but that the mere claim that there is objective reality, and that you can come to know it, is a “totalitarian” concept. If you haven’t heard this yet, well, you won’t have to wait very long before you do. This is all over the place, in one form or another, but this is particularly so in academia, especially in this form: “To talk about the truth, that’s a totalizing concept—it’s not leaving room for other people’s ideas, it’s totalitarianism, it’s frightening—that’s what led to all the bad problems of the twentieth century, people talking and acting in that way, as if there’s objective reality and there’s truth that corresponds to objective reality.”

But, to go back to what was said earlier, there is in fact objective reality—and truth is in fact a correct reflection of, or in correspondence with, actual objective reality. That’s what truth is. And, yes, it’s true, nobody can ever know all of the truth about everything, and we should always be open to the idea that what we understand to be true about any particular thing may not be fully correct, or may even turn out to be essentially wrong. But we are not, and we should not be, agnostics: “Oh, who knows what’s true, you can’t really tell anything about the real world.” No. We proceed from the real world, we interact with the real world, we test our ideas against the real world, and we draw scientific conclusions from that, based on evidence and based on synthesizing, drawing the patterns in reality that emerge and can be identified from the accumulation of evidence. This is very important for us to insist upon.

Actually, when you think about it, everybody who’s a relativist is a relativist until it really matters to them. “I don’t believe that anybody can really tell what objective truth is. But, you know, for the last few weeks I haven’t been feeling well, so I went to the doctor. And the doctor tells me, ‘I’m gonna run some tests.’ And then they call me back later and say, ‘We ran some tests and it turns out you’ve got a problem with your kidney.’ Well, who are you to say I’ve got a problem with my kidney?” That’s not the way people, even the most diehard relativists, proceed when it really matters to them. Then they all of a sudden discover that there’s actually a real world and actually people who understand it and have something to say about what you might do to change it.

This relativism is not a correct way to approach reality or to understand reality, and it does great harm when people insist on it. It is not “totalitarian” to say that there is objective reality, that we can engage it and we can transform it. We can learn about it, and, yes, keep on learning, and keep on refining what we’ve learned, and maybe even discard some things. But there is an accumulation of knowledge by proceeding in this kind of way, with this kind of method and approach. And you don’t, and won’t, get anywhere you need to go by denying and opposing this approach to reality and truth.

Here’s another example of how people are relativists until it really matters to them. The most relativist person becomes a parent. They have a little kid. The little kid wants to walk across the street, right in the middle of traffic. “Well, that’s your reality, little Johnny or little Susie: if you don’t think those cars exist, I don’t want to force you to believe that they do.” No! “Stay here on the sidewalk, you can’t walk out in front of those cars, those cars are real. That’s true.” “Mommy/daddy you’re totalitarian.”

We have to understand: this is not a way that people can or should actually go through the real world. And we really have to go after this relativism, because it’s doing a great deal of harm. It’s keeping people from not only engaging and learning about the world, but from acting on all the horrible outrages that are going on. It’s paralyzing them, telling them that they can’t be certain about anything, or it’s not their “place,” because of this relativist identity politics. It’s somebody else’s “place” to do something about that, and how dare you care about and act about something which is “my property,” my oppression that belongs to me. I heard about how somebody went on campus with one of the posters showing all the people who’ve been killed by the police, and someone came up and said, “I don’t like that poster, you’re making me feel unsafe.” Oh, boo-hoo! What about the masses of people in the world, who aren’t safe? What about the women who can’t go through the world and be safe? What about the masses of people in the inner cities being shot down by the police, being tormented and tortured by just the daily workings of this system every day? What about what’s happening with the environment? What about the little children that their parents send from Central America to cross the border by themselves into this country because of the havoc that imperialism is wreaking on their countries, and they find this horrific treatment they get upon coming here? What about all that, while you’re trying to carve out a little safe haven for yourself, a little privileged place where you can be safe? How ‘bout we get into the real world and talk about what’s really going on and what needs to be done? Cut out all this boo-hoo shit, and let’s talk about what really needs to happen to have a kind of world where the masses of people can feel safe and can breathe.


26. Bob Avakian, BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian (RCP Publications, 2011). Available as a free e-book at revcom.us. [back]

27. BAsics 5:11

“There is a place where epistemology and morality meet. There is a place where you have to stand and say: It is not acceptable to refuse to look at something—or to refuse to believe something—because it makes you uncomfortable. And: It is not acceptable to believe something just because it makes you feel comfortable.”

BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian [back]


 

 

 

Contents

Publisher's Note

Introduction and Orientation

Foolish Victims of Deceit, and Self-Deceit

Part I. Method and Approach, Communism as a Science

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

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

The “4 Alls”
Beyond the Narrow Horizon of Bourgeois Right
Socialism as an Economic System and a Political System—And a Transition to Communism
Internationalism
Abundance, Revolution, and the Advance to Communism—A Dialectical Materialist Understanding
The Importance of the “Parachute Point”—Even Now, and Even More With An Actual Revolution
The Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America
   Solid Core with a Lot of Elasticity on the Basis of the Solid Core
Emancipators of Humanity

Part III. The Strategic Approach to An Actual Revolution

One Overall Strategic Approach
Hastening While Awaiting
Forces For Revolution
Separation of the Communist Movement from the Labor Movement, Driving Forces for Revolution
National Liberation and Proletarian Revolution
The Strategic Importance of the Struggle for the Emancipation of Women
The United Front under the Leadership of the Proletariat
Youth, Students and the Intelligentsia
Struggling Against Petit Bourgeois Modes of Thinking, While Maintaining the Correct Strategic Orientation
The “Two Maximizings”
The “5 Stops”
The Two Mainstays
Returning to "On the Possibility of Revolution"
Internationalism—Revolutionary Defeatism
Internationalism and an International Dimension
Internationalism—Bringing Forward Another Way
Popularizing the Strategy
Fundamental Orientation

Part IV. The Leadership We Need

The Decisive Role of Leadership
A Leading Core of Intellectuals—and the Contradictions Bound Up with This
Another Kind of “Pyramid”
The Cultural Revolution Within the RCP
The Need for Communists to Be Communists
A Fundamentally Antagonistic Relation—and the Crucial Implications of That
Strengthening the Party—Qualitatively as well as Quantitatively
Forms of Revolutionary Organization, and the “Ohio”
Statesmen, and Strategic Commanders
Methods of Leadership, the Science and the “Art” of Leadership
Working Back from “On the Possibility”—
   Another Application of “Solid Core with a Lot of Elasticity on the Basis of the Solid Core”

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

Appendix 2:
Framework and Guidelines for Study and Discussion

Notes

Selected List of Works Cited

About the Author

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/avakian/science/ba-science...revolution-excerpt-cultural-revolution-within-RCP-en.html

Revolution #495 June 12, 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/495/june-10-chicago-south-side-carl-dix-delivers-powerful-message-from-the-revolution-en.html

Revolution #495 June 12, 2017

June 10, Chicago South Side:

Carl Dix Delivers Powerful Message from the Revolution

June 12, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Defying an utterly unwarranted police show of force, dozens of people listened as Carl Dix delivered a powerful message from the revolution to youths and others in the Englewood area of Chicago’s South Side. The week leading into and the rally itself was marked by serious discussion and grappling, with some youths and others taking up the REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! T-shirt and BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian.

 

       

Fundraiser for Chicago Revolution Summer
Donate to Revolution Summer HERE

 

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/494/summer-in-chicago-new-police-unit-of-mobile-terror-and-murder-en.html

Revolution #495 June 12, 2017

Pigs Kill Two Teenagers in Two Weeks

Chicago Police Answer To Youth Killing Each Other: "Out Of The Way, Let US Do It!"

June 9, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

The violence carried out by the Black and Latino youth of Chicago against each other is a terrible scourge. In response, the mayor has expanded the police force, and these pigs are doing what they were set up to do: repress and murder the very youth whom they claim to be protecting.

On Friday evening, June 2, Chicago police murdered Corsean Lewis, a 17-year-old boy, in the Washington Park neighborhood on the South Side. According to news accounts, Corsean was standing with a group of people in an alley a few blocks from his house, and when an unmarked squad car turned into the alley, police allege that Corsean “fired a round,” striking the front bumper of the car. Police then opened fire on the group in the alley, and Corsean was shot multiple times.

Police said a weapon was recovered from the scene, but Corsean’s uncle said Corsean did not have a gun on him. Google the phrase “A handgun was found at the scene” or “gun recovered at the scene.” You get pages of hits. Many show a pattern: the common nationwide police practice of planting weapons to justify their murders of people.

After Corsean’s murder, dozens of squad cars descended on the area and rifle-toting police pushed bystanders away, taping off the area and terrorizing the neighbors.

The police were working as part of the Chicago Police Department’s new summer mobile patrol unit that was rolled out in late May. It is one of the first murders since CPD unveiled its new use of force policy in May. Supposedly, deadly force can be used when there is a threat of great bodily harm or death. By early June, the summer mobile unit, which is supposed to patrol the beaches and parks, has been unleashed on oppressed communities and has already been responsible for at least three shootings of people across the city.

About 24 hours after shooting Corsean, officers working a similar summer mobile unit farther south in the 8100 block of South Maryland Avenue were involved in another shooting. A man had run from officers who had seen him drinking outside. He went into a nearby apartment building, where police claim there was a struggle over a gun. A pig was shot in the hand, and his partner shot at the man, critically wounding him. The man was trying to get away from the pigs who were harassing him for supposedly drinking and running away!

Other Recent Murders by Police in Chicago

May 17: Rashad Wells Jr., 17 years old

On May 17, an off-duty Cook County sheriff fatally shot 17-year-old Rashad Wells Jr. inside a hair salon in the Englewood neighborhood in the South Side Chicago. The justification for murder: the police claimed they caught the youth in the act of robbing the salon.

The Wells family lives in the neighborhood and relatives and friends gathered outside the salon and yelled at police and reporters—for telling lies, for leaving the body on the ground, for having shot the boy in the first place, for locking up Black men but not white men.

“He's very familiar with the neighborhood, and just the idea of him robbing his neighbor when he's, when everyone knows him, is cause for speculation, for pause,” said Eric Russell, Tree of Life Justice League of Illinois.

The police made no claim that Wells was armed.

May 13: Tywon Salters, 21 years old

A SWAT team killed Salters inside an area hospital. At the time Salters was in the custody of the Cook County Jail on a charge of vehicle theft and was under guard and being treated at the hospital. Witnesses said that at one point he was seen running through the hospital naked. The police at the time claimed he had somehow managed to disarm the corrections officer assigned to guard him, and then taken one and then another nurse hostage. The SWAT team went into a room where he had gone with one of the nurses and killed him and injured the nurse, claiming that negotiations had “broke down.”

It later came out that Salters was on suicide watch and earlier had been treated for ingesting a cleaning fluid. The day the SWAT team killed him, he was in the hospital because doctors had to surgically remove a piece of a plastic jail-issued sandal that he apparently ate. It also later came to light that the guard had removed Salters' shackles and fled after Salters managed to get his weapon and took the two nurses hostage.

Salters might be alive today if he could have gotten appropriate mental health treatment, and if the police had acted in any kind of human way, including if the SWAT team’s job included real training in handling this kind of situation. But under the normal workings of this system that is not going to happen.

April 3: Jack Burris, 66 years old

Burris was killed, not by a police bullet, but by a police vehicle. On the late evening of April 3, a Chicago police SUV slammed into his Honda coupe in an intersection in the Roseland neighborhood on the far South Side of Chicago. A witness said the police SUV blew a stop sign and was going 80 mph and the siren came on only just as they blew the light. Police claimed that the officers were responding to a call of shots fired. As if that justified ramming into Burris’s vehicle and killing him!

This was no “tragic accident.” Clamping down on the Black community is what these pigs do, even if it means killing a man on the way to doing that.

Earlier Murders by Police in Chicago

February 15: Chad Robertson, 25 years old

Have we heard this before? Unarmed Black man shot in the back and killed for the crime of running away from the cops. Chad Robertson was on a stopover in Union Station, waiting for a bus to Minneapolis when he was approached by Amtrak officer LaRoyce Tankson. Even according to official statements, Robertson took off running and was no threat. No witnesses saw Robertson with a weapon that night. By some accounts Robertson was at least 70 feet away when the officer took a crouching stance and cold-bloodedly shot him in the back. Robertson was taken to the hospital and later died of his wounds.

This was so outrageous that the authorities were forced to charge Tankson with first degree murder. Tankson’s lawyer told a judge that the officer feared for his life after Robertson turned toward him and pulled something from his pocket.

Robertson’s sister Nina Robertson responded with this: “How many times are they going to keep being able to do this to us? How many times are they going to keep saying that that was why they're killing us? It's wrong.”

Robertson's family said they plan to be at all of Tankson's court appearances until they get justice. They are still waiting.

February 10: Michele Robey, 55 years old

This system murders the mentally ill. This reality got played out again when 55-year-old Michele Robey was gunned down by Chicago police on February 10 of this year. They found her in the street with a knife in her hand. They tased her twice. That didn’t work. So they shot her.

Afterwards, as she lay on the ground dying, one of the cops cold-heartedly told her, “You should have dropped the knife. An ambulance is coming now.”

Did they give her space and talk her down? NO.

Did they bring in trained mental health people? NO.

Did they try to disarm her by putting themselves in harm’s way and doing everything possible not to harm her? NO.

Michele was a mother, with a master’s degree in psychology. She had worked in medical research. Her family says she first showed signs of mental illness in 2009 and was diagnosed with bipolar schizoaffective disorder. She had lost her job, her home, and been forced to file for bankruptcy.

This system has no real answer for the plight of the mentally ill like Michele Robey. And having psychiatric problems can be a death sentence.

* * *

This list of those killed by the police in Chicago in recent months brought home two things:

The truth of what Bob Avakian says about the role of the police:

The role of the police is not to serve and protect the people. It is to serve and protect the system that rules over the people. To enforce the relations of exploitation and oppression, the conditions of poverty, misery and degradation into which the system has cast people and is determined to keep people in. The law and order the police are about, with all of their brutality and murder, is the law and the order that enforces all this oppression and madness. (BAsics 1:24)

And the second, that things don’t have to be this way.

This summer the Revolution Club of Chicago is working in these very neighborhoods where the pigs carried out these murders to call on the youth to get out of the violence against each other the only way possible: by directing their anger, creativity and courage against the system responsible for keeping oppressed people down and divided against each other. As part of that, the Club leads people to righteously stand up against the police terror that enforces that system.

Get with the Revolution now.

 

 

       

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/495/future-people-open-mic-there-are-fascists-in-the-white-house-en.html

Revolution #495 June 12, 2017

From the Revolution Club Los Angeles:

Future People Open Mic: “There Are Fascists in the White House”

June 12, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

On June 1, the Revolution Club, Los Angeles, hosted our second “Future People Open Mic,” this time with the theme “There Are Fascists in the White House.” About 15 to 20 people came that night. We had a beautiful stage with lights and a lit up “NO!” in the back; along with the sunset right behind, it set the mood perfectly for a night of poetry, discussion, and kicking back.

The MC began the night by welcoming people; she introduced herself as a member of the Revolution Club and an organizer with Refuse Fascism. She started off by reading the Points of Attention for the Revolution and challenged people to themselves take up the Points of Attention. Then she talked about the need for a Radical REVOLT against this REVOLTING culture and kicked it off by reading from BAsics 2:8.

The night was full of poetry and art, all uplifting and going against this putrid culture. A Latino artist went up and shared a sketch he made while he listened to others perform their poetry. He passed around his sketch book and explained that it was art against Nazis and their bigotry. A Muslim woman performed a couple of poems she had written, including a powerful poem about the three heroes in Portland who stood up to defend the two young women on the train while they were being attacked by a white supremacist who took the life of two of the heroes. She also performed a poem of what it’s like to be a woman in the Muslim community and what you are told you are supposed to be like and act like.

Two teenage Latina girls said they came to just hang out and listen to poetry but saw that almost everyone had gone up and performed; they felt they should perform too, so they wrote a short poem on the spot and performed it together. It was about being kids from immigrants and living under a president who is attacking immigrants. A Revolution Club member read the poem “Children of Children” by Oscar Brown Jr. and afterwards talked about the importance of supporting the Revolution Summer in Chicago and called on people to donate.



The night was lively, and full of joy and creativity. After the poetry ended people hung out and ended up having discussions on a wide range of topics including on what is the real history of the communist revolution and the experience of previous socialist societies.




       

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/495/us-imperialism-vs-islamic-fundamentalism-vicious-dynamic-of-terror-on-both-sides-en.html

Revolution #495 June 12, 2017

U.S. Imperialism vs. Islamic Fundamentalism: The Vicious Dynamic of Terror on Both Sides

June 12, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

The suicide bombing at a May 22 concert in Manchester and the June 3 attacks at the London Bridge in England reportedly carried out by sympathizers of the reactionary fundamentalist Islamic State (ISIS) were unconscionable and horrific. They attracted wall-to-wall coverage, humanizing the victims in the U.S. bourgeois media.

During this same period, the U.S. imperialists have escalated their bombing attacks in Syria and Iraq, killing hundreds of civilians, terrorizing many thousands more, and fueling reactionary Islamic fundamentalism. On May 31 alone, U.S. airstrikes killed between 50 and 80 civilians in Mosul, Iraq.

Horrendous attacks were also being carried out by reactionary Islamic fundamentalist and jihadist forces against the people in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and other countries across the Middle East.

Here are a few examples:

Mosul, Iraq—Hundreds, probably thousands, of civilians have been killed by U.S. airstrikes and ISIS attacks as these reactionary forces battle for control of Mosul. Since late January, over 100,000 have fled the city. Across the region, U.S. attacks and the slaughter of civilians are escalating under the Trump/Pence regime. On May 25-26, over 100 civilians, including 42 children—were massacred by U.S. airstrikes in the town of Al Mayadeen in Eastern Syria, then reportedly under ISIS control.

Iraqi civilians fleeing through a train station destroyed by U.S.-backed Iraqi forces and ISIS fighters in Mosul, Iraq, March 19, 2017.

In recent days, U.S.-supplied white phosphorous munitions have reportedly been used in Mosul, Iraq, and Raqqa, Syria. White phosphorous munitions are savage weapons: they’re toxic, stick to the skin, and burn so hot they can create deep second- and third-degree burns. Under international law, they’re banned from use in populated areas.

U.S. coalition forces firing white phosphorous munitions over Mosul, Iraq, June 4, 2017.

On May 31, Islamic fundamentalist forces exploded a massive truck bomb during rush hour in central Kabul, Afghanistan, near a number of embassies. At least 90 were killed, and over 300 wounded—reportedly mostly (if not all) civilians. Across the region Islamic fundamentalist forces target civilians for attack as part of their barbaric strategy. One example, on May 30, ISIS exploded a car bomb in Baghdad, Iraq, killing at least 15 people who had gone to an ice cream parlor to break the fast of Ramadan.

Aftermath of May 31 bombing in Kabul.

For over two years, the United States has backed Saudi Arabia’s criminal, barbaric war against a wide swath of the Yemeni people. Using U.S.-supplied bombs, and with U.S. logistical and intelligence support, Saudi planes have attacked hospitals, schools, markets, factories, and residential neighborhoods. Their bombs and economic blockade have decimated the country’s health care, infrastructure, economy, and agriculture. Seventeen million Yemenis now lack adequate food, and an outbreak of deadly cholera has killed 780 people and spread to over 100,000 more. “On average, a child under the age of five dies of preventable causes in Yemen every 10 minutes,” said one UN official. “We are witnessing the starving and the crippling of an entire generation.”

Doctors Without Borders-supported Abs Hospital in northwest Yemen after being bombed by Saudi Arabia on August 15, 2016. At least 11 were killed, and 19 more wounded.

 

Read, study, and spread these quotes by BA―Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA.

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.

BAsics 1:28

**********

This system of capitalism-imperialism has been built on, and continues to perpetrate, slavery and white supremacy and all manner of atrocities against Black people, other oppressed peoples, and the masses of humanity throughout the world, including the half of humanity that is female. Some claim that the answer to this is Islam, and in particular fundamentalist Islamic jihad. But that is not the answer—it is not a radical alternative to this system and its monstrous crimes—it is itself another form of enslavement, oppression, and atrocity, against women and the masses of people overall. The answer is an actual revolution—a really radical and emancipating revolution—communist revolution, to bring an end, at long last, to all oppression, everywhere.

Bob Avakian
Chairman, Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

**********

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

—BAsics 5:7



       

 

 


 

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

Revolution #495 June 12, 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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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...

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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.”

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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.

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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."

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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

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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

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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."

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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“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.

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/492/support-hunger-strike-of-california-folsom-prisoners-en.html

Revolution #495 June 12, 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/495/tens-of-thousands-at-resist-march-los-angeles-en.html

Revolution #495 June 12, 2017

Tens of Thousands Take to the Streets at the Resist March, Los Angeles

June 11, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

 

On Sunday, June 11, tens of thousands took to the streets of Hollywood, California, in the Resist March. Previously this was the LA Pride Parade, but this year the name was changed to reflect the times we are living in with the Trump/Pence regime. The crowd was multinational, with the largest force coming from the LGBTQ community. People brought homemade signs that represented different ways people saw how to resist. The major theme of many signs was “love, not hate.” A small section of the crowd had signs against fascism. RefuseFascism.org had a militant contingent, chanting all 3.2 miles of the march, “No Fascist America. No! No! No!”

Refuse Fascism
Resist    Act-Up LA    Refuse Fascism
Fuck your wall      San Fernando Valley Resist

 

       

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/494/a-response-to-naomi-klein-en.html

Revolution #495 June 12, 2017

Originally posted at RefuseFascism.org:

A Response to Naomi Klein

Without Saying NO! to the Fascist Trump/Pence Regime, There Will Be No YES! to a Better World

June 9, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

 

Naomi Klein says at this moment, with the election of Trump, it is not enough to merely resist, to say “no.” She says this moment demands more: “a credible and inspiring ‘yes,’ a roadmap to reclaiming the populist ground from those who would divide us.” 

Klein, in the introduction to her new book, No Is Not Enough, outlines the “main pillars of Trump’s political and economic project,” as attacks on regulations, the welfare state, the environment, immigrants, and Muslims, among others. These attacks are real, vicious, and need to be resisted in their own right.  

But what Klein downplays is that the Trump/Pence regime is more than the sum of its reactionary program, it is not just the worst of racist reactionary administrations.  REFUSE FASCISM, which has put forward the NO! We REFUSE to Accept a Fascist America posters that are in most every protest against the Trump Regime, says in its Call to Action: 

"Fascism is not just a gross combination of horrific reactionary policies. It is a qualitative change in how society is governed... What is crucial to understand is that once in power fascism essentially eliminates traditional democratic rights."

This essential quality of fascism, the tearing up of democratic rights, will undermine the ability of the people to fight back. Already immigrant communities are terrorized, new laws impose draconian penalties for protest, and the rule of law itself is under attack. Fascism makes the larger struggle for a better world—however people may conceive of that—much more difficult. Without the NO! to this fascist regime, there is no YES! to a better world.

 Every difficulty that the Trump/Pence regime confronts both throws a roadblock in front of aspects of their program, and increases their necessity and compulsion to lock in a fully fascist society.  From the Call: “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.”

The whole regime must go. This is necessary and possible. 

“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.”

A better world is needed and possible. As we unite and struggle together to drive out this regime, we embody the values that we seek in a just and better world, and we should discuss, debate, struggle over our visions and strategies for getting beyond the madness and horror of the world today.  We invite all to stand together in this process.

We close with this from the Refuse Fascism 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.”     

RefuseFascism.org *** @RefuseFascism *** Facebook.com/RefuseFascism.org *** 917-407-1286  

 

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/495/challenge-from-a-reader-en.html

Revolution #495 June 12, 2017

A Challenge from a Reader of revcom.us:

Updated August 2, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

It strikes me there is a profound, urgent need—and basis—for the excerpt from Ardea Skybreak’s new book (SCIENCE AND REVOLUTION: On the Importance of Science and the Application of Science to Society, the New Synthesis of Communism and the Leadership of Bob Avakian. An Interview with Ardea Skybreak) that is reprinted at revcom.us, to impact broadly and deeply in society at this moment—when humanity faces truly an unprecedented crisis. The question of what anyone’s life is going to be about is posed right now in a very immediate way. Does the world have to be this way? And if not, where do I fit into that picture? These are questions that the excerpt from the Skybreak book both articulates and poses... and answers... poetically, with science and soul.

With that thought, I am challenging those who read this to return to that excerpt, or read it now if you have not yet, and write to this website with your thoughts on it.

This challenge has to reach students over summer vacation, in whose hearts and minds there is a wrestling match between angst and outrage that the world is what it is, and the supposed voice of “reason” that this is all the world can be and the best one can do is to just find a place within it. It has to reach angry young people caught in the “life,” wondering if there really is another way, and who need to know that they and others like them who dedicate their lives to the revolution can be a spark that kindles the best in people of all walks of life.

It has to especially reach those young (and some older) fighters and thinkers who over the past period have awakened into political life and are grappling with what to do with their lives.

And there is another audience for this message, which impacted me personally as a veteran revolutionary communist, and which is of a piece with the excerpt from Bob Avakian’s The New Communism on the Cultural Revolution in the RCP (read by Joe Veale at revcom.us). Whether you started working with or joined the Revolution Club this morning, or have been in or around the movement for revolutionary communism for decades (or something in between), the question of what one’s life is about, “for whom and for what,” is posed repeatedly, and periodically, very sharply. Once you understand and decide to throw in with “for whom” being the seven billion people on this planet, and the “what” being emancipation of all humanity, the question of whether to continue to revitalize that in an ever-deepening scientific understanding of how things got to be this way and how they can change—without ever losing but rather continually deepening that connection between the masses and the science—poses itself repeatedly and periodically in defining ways.

So again, and with all that in mind, I want to challenge those who read this passage to correspond on it with revcom.us.

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/495/this-regime-must-be-stopped-a-letter-written-in-love-and-solidarity-en.html

Revolution #495 June 12, 2017

This Regime MUST be Stopped!
A Letter Written in Love and Solidarity

The following letter was forwarded to RefuseFascism.org by its author

June 14, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

June 11, 2017

To my friends, family and colleagues:

Maybe you think that this regime is so corrupt and incompetent that they’re bound to self-destruct before long. Or maybe you’re sure that impeachment is right around the corner. Maybe you think that the Russian scandal will ultimately bring them down. Or maybe you might think that the courts will rein them in. Maybe you think that the Democrats will finally find their spine if we flood them with enough phone calls and petitions. Maybe you think it’s all going to be OK because there are lots more protests, and because the fourth estate seems to have finally woken up. Or maybe you think everything will go back to normal once the Democrats sweep the midterms. Or maybe it’s all too depressing, and you just don’t want to think about it any more.

It doesn’t matter. Whatever you’re telling yourself, whatever is stopping you from joining the resistance, from marching and protesting, day in, day out—whatever it is, you’re wrong. We’re losing. Every day, the Trump/Pence regime makes further progress in realizing their vision of a hideously unjust and unequal society, a cruel, racist, hateful, poisonous nightmare. And much of this process is happening behind the scenes, while we’re distracted by the latest mind-boggling episode of treason and Twitter.

Understand: Even if we could get them out tomorrow, it would take years to repair the damage they’ve done already. We’ll be living with the consequences of this disaster for decades. And the longer they stay in power, the worse it will get, the more irreparable the harm: to vulnerable populations, to the possibility for peace, to the environment, to all of our aspirations for a better world.

We can’t let this happen. They have to be stopped. And they won’t be stopped unless all of us join the struggle. No one’s going to do it for us. It is possible, but it’s not going to be easy, and there’s no guarantee of success. But we have to try. And waiting will only make the task that much more difficult, as the regime consolidates its power.

In my opinion, the single best thing you can do to stop this madness is to join up with Refuse Fascism. Refuse Fascism was responsible for the full-page NO! ads in the NY Times and the Washington Post that preceded Trump’s inauguration. Their analysis of our current situation has been eerily prescient, and they were the only group that foresaw the speed with which the Trump/Pence regime has been dismantling the very foundations of our democracy. Refuse Fascism exists for one purpose and for one purpose only: to drive the Trump/Pence regime from power. I particularly appreciate the way Refuse Fascism has always emphasized the need for creative resistance. So we need you; we need your ideas, creativity and energy. Do it now: visit the website, sign the Call to Action, attend a meeting of your local chapter, volunteer, donate generously, march with us, and spread the word: NO! NO to a fascist America!

In love and solidarity,

 

 

       

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/495/are-the-golden-state-warriors-refusing-to-attend-white-house-celebration-en.html

Revolution #495 June 12, 2017

Are the Golden State Warriors Refusing to Attend the White House Celebration With Donald Trump?

June 14, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Letter from a Reader:

One of the biggest news items that followed the Golden State Warriors’ victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers to win the NBA championship was that they were not going to attend any White House event with Donald Trump. This story has appeared in the Washington Post, Guardian, Independent, CNN, Newsweek, and most of the independent sports news outlets.

Several news agencies, including Shaun King of New York Daily News, have reported that the team voted unanimously not to go to the White House, which has been a regular event for the team that wins the NBA championship since Ronald Reagan’s presidency. As of this time, Trump has not invited them. If he does not invite them, it would be the first time in many years that the NBA champs have not been invited for a ceremony with the president at the White House.

Refuse Fascism activists took the call "Warriors: Don't Go to White House! Demonstrate July 15" to the Warriors NBA Championship parade in Oakland, California. Photo: Refuse Fascism

The Warriors did not deny that they took this vote, but said they have not been invited yet and would make a decision about attending if and when they get an invite. CNN reported that “It’d be shocking if the Warriors went to the White House.” When the Warriors won the championship in 2015, they went to the White House event after being invited by President Obama.

Since the election of Trump, several Warriors, including their coach, Steve Kerr, have made statements opposing Trump.

Kerr called Trump a “blowhard who couldn’t be more ill-suited to be President.” At a team news conference, Kerr said, “The man who’s going to lead you has used racist, misogynist words.” Kerr later followed that up by saying, “I have no idea what kind of president he’ll be because he hasn’t said anything about what he’s going to do. We don’t know. But it’s tough when you want there to be some respect and dignity and there hasn’t been any. And then you walk into a room with your daughter and your wife, who have basically been insulted by his comments, and they’re distraught. Then you walk in and see the faces of your players, most of them who have been insulted directly as minorities, it’s very shocking. It really is.”

Kerr has been outspoken on Trump’s attempts to make immigration policy banning Muslims from specific countries from entering the U.S. This is meaningful in that Kerr’s father was killed while he was president of American University of Beirut. According to the New York Times, “A group calling itself Islamic Holy War claimed responsibility [for killing Kerr’s father]. Courts later found ... Hezbollah was behind the killing.”

That which you will not resist and mobilize to stop...

Kerr has not let his father’s killing keep him from being on the right side. “If we’re trying to combat terrorism by banishing people from coming to the country,” Kerr said, “we’re really going against the spirit of what our country is about, and [we’re] creating fear. It’s the wrong way to go about it. If anything, we could be breeding anger and terror. I’m completely against what’s happening. It’s shocking. It’s a horrible idea.”

Stephen Curry, the team’s superstar and two-time league MVP, got into an argument with the CEO of his sponsor, Under Armour, who described Trump as a “real asset.” Curry retorted in the San Jose Mercury, “I agree with that description if you remove the ‘et’ from asset.”

Right after Trump was elected, the Warriors’ backup center, David West, told the San Francisco Chronicle, “This whole fairy tale about this post-racial utopia that Obama supposedly created is all bull.”

In a January podcast, Monte Poole of CSN Bay Area wrote about West that “He’s going to stand with the millions of women who marched over the weekend. He’s going to stand with the millions of people who feel their quest for justice is endangered. He’s going to stand with those whose health care is in peril. He’s going to stand with those who understand that science telling us that climate changes is a grave global threat.” West went on to say that “All the tactics that he [Trump] used to get elected are the very things that someone like me, who works with youth on a consistent basis, are the things that we try to talk our young folks out of being. We try to talk our young people out of being bullies. We try to talk our young men out of disrespecting women. We try to talk our young people into being accepting of other people’s opinions and other people’s walks of life. And he [Trump] is the complete opposite of all of that.”

In February, Warriors guard Shaun Livingston said he “definitely wouldn’t go” to the White House if the team were to win the championship. “I really feel that my views would keep me from going and visiting. Just with everything that’s going on right now. I just don’t agree with a lot of stuff that’s happening.”

Yesterday, Andre Igoudala, who was the NBA Finals MVP in 2015, was asked by USA Today if he would accept an invitation to go to the White House. He said, “Hell nah!” He continued to talk about racism in this country. “We all know (that it is getting worse). I think it’s just the ignorance, the convenient ignorance. (It’s) not to say that people aren’t aware, but they just don’t want to address it (because) they don’t want to be attached to it so they ignore a lot of the bad things that happen. I feel that there are actions that occur, that continue the dividing of everyone. And I think that’s done on purpose.”

There is one Warrior, who in February said he would go to the White House if the team wins the championship. That is Klay Thompson, who told CNN, “Just from an historical standpoint to see all the history in the place and whose been through there and how long the White House has been standing and what it means to our country—I think I would go because it’s just a great honor. I don’t have to agree with everything the President does but at the end of the day he is still is our President and is the leader of the free world.”

A new twist to this is that Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader who represents a congressional district near the Warriors’ offices, has invited the Warriors to the Capitol due to rumors that Trump will not invite them.

So, stay tuned and we’ll report on what happens.

       

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/495/why-knowing-what-is-true-has-everything-to-do-with-getting-beyond-a-world-of-horrors-en.html

Revolution #495 June 12, 2017

A presentation by Andy Zee, spokesperson for Revolution Books, NY on behalf of The Bob Avakian Institute

Why Knowing What’s True Has Everything to Do With  Getting Beyond a World of Horrors: 
The Breakthrough of the New Communism Developed by Bob Avakian

June 14, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

I want to thank the co-sponsors of this event: the Bunche Center, AAP, The American Indian Studies Center, Prof. Macías and discussants Professors Andrew Apter and Juan Gómez-Quiñones; I thank all of you in the audience for joining us this afternoon.

And, a special appreciation to The Bob Avakian Institute for hosting this event. I want to begin by drawing your attention to why this Institute matters.

As we meet this afternoon, masses of people—billions in actual fact—suffer horribly, the planet is in extreme peril, and the potential for humanity to move beyond a world of mass starvation, disease, wars without end, degradation, oppression and exploitation is thwarted and stifled by the workings of the system of capitalism-imperialism that prevails everywhere throughout the world.

There is the basis in the productive capacity, the technology, and the creativity and knowledge of people to transform the world to move beyond the economic, political and social formations that today so brutally destroy lives and crush spirits. Unlocking that potential requires understanding it—comprehending the complex reality of the world as it actually is so as to discover the pathways to fundamental change through a strategic approach to an actual revolution and for a radically new society on the road to human emancipation. This is the breakthrough and ongoing work and leadership of Bob Avakian. 

For over 40 years Bob Avakian has been digging into the reality humanity faces, grappling with the theory and the practice to break out of the long dark night of millennia of oppression. He critically examined the liberatory first communist revolutions of the 20th Century, first in the Soviet Union and then the People’s Republic of China—how they began blazing a path to a world where slaves would be slaves no more; and he critically delved into their defeats, fearlessly excavating and interrogating their shortcomings in method and approach and how they went at the problems encountered in forging a world where exploitation is not the engine that drives the world, undergirding all the other forms of oppression that people suffer.

Drawing from this experience and ranging widely from scholars, scientists, and artists and as well as from sports and music, Avakian has made a qualitative breakthrough in putting revolution and communism on a thoroughly and consistently scientific footing—stripping away those previous aspects of communist theory that were not scientific. With this as the foundational method and approach of the new synthesis of communism, Bob Avakian has made breakthroughs in the strategy for actual revolution. He has developed a radically new conception of socialism, authoring the Constitution for the future socialist state as both a far more liberatory society and one that is on the road to communism. And he has made a breakthrough in internationalism—in the understanding of why in order to free humanity from the chains of imperialism the whole world must come first.

Bob Avakian developed the New Communism while leading the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA to be a vanguard force for an actual revolution in a period where revolution was regarded by most as a thing of the past. Yet, today we face a moment in history where more than ever the world cries out for an emancipatory revolution and there is a new framework for revolution in the new synthesis, yet this breakthrough in revolutionary theory, so necessary for an emancipatory revolution, is not known, and the forces for that revolution need to be brought forward.

I encourage you to find out more about and to support the work of the BA Institute whose mission is the preserving, projecting, and promoting of the works and vision of Bob Avakian with the aim of reaching the broadest possible audience. Today’s program furthers that mission and my talk is rooted in Bob Avakian’s leadership and the new synthesis of communism. I look forward to an exchange of views based on this. And I hope each of you will be provoked and inspired to get more deeply into BA’s work and support and join in the work of the Institute. So let’s get into our topic, Why Knowing What’s True Has Everything to Do With Getting Beyond a World of Horrors.

Bob Avakian has written:

The struggle in the realm of epistemology—the theory of knowledge and how it is acquired by people, the theory of what is true and how people come to know the truth—is a crucial arena in the overall battle for the emancipation of the oppressed and exploited majority of humanity, and ultimately of humanity as a whole. Grasping the defining characteristics and the importance of the scientific method—and, most of all, the most consistent, systematic and comprehensive scientific approach to reality, the communist world outlook and method, which can embrace without replacing or suffocating the many fields of human knowledge and endeavor and can give expression to the richest process of learning about reality and transforming it in the interests of humanity—is of vital importance for this emancipatory struggle.1

Humanity is locked into a world of deprivation, wars, environmental devastation, brutal oppression of minority nationalities in different countries around the world. Black people in the U.S. are subjected to unending discrimination and a slow genocide with 2.3 million locked away in hellhole prisons while police brutality and murder continue unabated and unpunished. Women here and around the world are degraded and oppressed in ways that are unspeakable for those with eyes willing to confront the brutal reality that half of humanity faces. Bob Avakian has sharply pointed out that today people can say, depict, and do to women what you could not do to any other group of people. That’s true, and that’s one reason why the liberation of women is a cornerstone of the New Communism and the revolution to achieve it.

The goal of the New Communism is a total revolution—the most radical revolution in human history that aims at nothing less than overcoming all forms of oppression and exploitation all over the world, a society where humanity could truly flourish. To make such a revolution requires understanding reality as it actually is, a method and approach to discover what’s true and then to transform the world on the basis of the actual underlying material conditions and the contradictions in those conditions.

We meet today as a full out fascist regime is in power here in the world’s most powerful nation. Matters of epistemology are thrown into sharp relief as is everything else in society. “Fake News,” “alternative facts,” conspiracy theories— to say these false narratives are mobilizing people in harmful ways is understatement. Going deeper, they obscure and divert people from understanding the essence of what is happening and acting in ways commensurate.

The Trump/Pence regime is furiously battling to consolidate fascism here. Their enraged social base is moving on campuses and holding KKK/Nazi style rallies around the country. Their rabid followers attack immigrants as the enemy. Two courageous heroes in Portland were murdered and one seriously wounded for standing up to this. These men are models of acting on your moral conviction based on what is right and true. The Trump/Pence regime has not yet succeeded in consolidating fascism in law and society, but they are moving rapidly. And even with the significant opposition expressed in several mass demonstrations and many smaller protests over the last five months, there is not, as yet, the level of unrelenting political struggle from below, from the people, aimed at driving this regime out of power, which is the only way to stop them.

This cabal of fascists headed by Trump and Pence came to power under the signboard of a mythology of Make America Great Again, a narrative that, if you will excuse the pun, trumped and encompassed two other reactionary narrative myths: [1] that this country is the biblical shining city on a hill whose future requires defeating the elite demons running the world, banishing all “others” who are not white men (and “their” submissive wives), ostracizing all who are not fundamentalist Christians, thereby returning America to, as they would have it in their myth, a theocratic Christian state; and the second myth: that the greatness of America rests on the ingenuity of the self-made man, that the greatest good, and even virtue, comes from a society where naked self interest is unfettered, in short, Gordon Gekko ideology—“greed is good.” The Trump/Pence regime, as with all fascist regimes, is built on promoting and enforcing a worldview of lies, of alternative facts—a narrative—of the victimized, that tells of an aggrieved class of the “entitled,” anointed by God or by virtue of what they believe is their innate superiority and entitlement that is being kept down by alien forces—foreigners, non-Christians, elites, people of color, “losers” in the lexicon favored by Trump; all of whom are peoples to be vanquished in order to return the country and the aggrieved white men to their rightful place.

This fascist mythology, the America First and Make American Great Again narratives clash with what has been the more dominant narrative promoted by the Democrats, liberals and progressives, media talking heads and mainstream press of America as the land of liberty and equality, of freedom for all, of “give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free”; a country always progressing towards a more perfect union; where what’s good for business is good for all, and if there is still inequality, there can be some regulation of capitalism to placate the middle class; and as for the poor, the benevolence of the rich can offer some alms through NGO charity, while poverty and punishment is the real deal, with mass deportations and incarceration, yes under Democrats Bill Clinton and Obama, because this system has no future for millions locked on society’s bottom. If the more “awake” followers of this liberal myth point out the actual misery that is everywhere in this the richest country in history, the pathetic bottom line answer is: “Well, this may not be the perfect system, but it’s better than any other.”

None of these narratives are true. All reflect the interests of different sections of the ruling classes. They overlap and obscure the reality of America founded on slavery and the genocide of the native peoples; the theft of 1/3 of the land of Mexico; the bloody history of the U.S. becoming the world’s dominant imperialist power, where for every year of its existence it has waged a war of conquest, meddled in the elections of other countries when not outright fomenting or directing coups d’état. They conceal that the U.S. is ruled by a dictatorship of a ruling class that enforces a system of exploitation; and that what we are experiencing now is an acute struggle at the top that is drawing in every other class and social force over what will be the cohering form of this bourgeois dictatorship: whether it will be fascism, which relies on open terror and violence in which civil and legal rights are effectively nil, or the normal oppressive workings of bourgeois-democracy.

This is not some other narrative, a radical communist narrative; this is historical fact and current reality. History that tells of enormous cost to humanity when people believe and act on stories that aren’t true. This underscores the tremendous stakes and the import of a scientific approach to reality. 

What is science? And, can it and should it be applied to society?

Ardea Skybreak in the book SCIENCE AND REVOLUTION, On the Importance of Science and the Application of Science to Society, the New Synthesis of Communism and the Leadership of Bob Avakian paraphrases Neil deGrasse Tyson and says “Science allows you to confront and identify problems, to recognize problems and figure out how to solve them, rather than run away from them.” She says, “It’s a tool–science–a very powerful tool. It’s a method and approach for being able to tell what’s true, what corresponds to reality as it really is...” And, “Science is an evidence-based process.” She goes on to make a very important point:

Without science, you can only say what you as an individual think reality is, or maybe you can say what a whole bunch of people think reality is, or maybe you can say what a government, or religious authority, or some other authority might tell you reality is like, but that doesn’t make any of it true. Without science you are at the mercy of being manipulated, of having your thinking manipulated and not being able to tell what’s right from what’s wrong, what’s true from what’s false.

Take a moment and think about the implications of that.

To know and change the world requires understanding the world as it actually is—looking beneath the surface to discover the social processes through which people provide for the needs of life and to rear new generations of people. Just as a microscope and a theoretical understanding of cells, of DNA, provide tools to discover the mechanisms of life and the pathways to curing disease, so too does the scientific theory of communism—dialectical materialism—reveal the roots of society and how it can be “cured.” What is the economic foundation of society? What is the character of the institutions that arise on this foundation? How are all the social relations—the forms of oppression that we are all too familiar with today shaped and constrained by this economic system? How do traditional ideas reinforce these economic, political, and social relations? And, decisive to changing all of this, what are the contradictions developing within all of this that we can go to work on to lead a total revolution? 

We really can struggle to get to a “world where people work and struggle together for the common good… Where everyone contributes whatever they can to society and gets back what they need to live a life worthy of human beings… Where there are no more divisions among people in which some rule over and oppress others, robbing them not only of the means to a decent life but also of knowledge and a means for really understanding, and acting to change, the world.” This, a total revolution, is brought to life in Bob Avakian’s THE NEW COMMUNISM, The science, the strategy, the leadership for an actual revolution, and a radically new society on the road to real emancipation.

Making revolution to emancipate humanity throughout the world is complex. It is also real, and rooted in the real world contradictions we face.

Despite his surreal appearance Donald Trump is also real, “Make America Great” mobilizes a fascist base with a false narrative, but the Trump/Pence regime holds power and is backed by power, and thus their ideas and policies are being realized, and should the regime fully succeed, more and more people will come to see that they are “right.” Watch cable news and you see this normalization unfold. And, on the other side, despite its mythology, this land does not belong to you and me, America and capitalism-imperialism are not the land of opportunity and forces for good and the best that humanity can do. But, based on its power and control of all the institutions of society, this is what many if not most people in this country believe to be true.

Perhaps as a little kid a parent tried to teach you that “might doesn’t make right?” But, then life teaches you otherwise. Unless you take up a scientific approach to knowing and changing the world, you won’t understand why it is that what is wrong so often prevails, or, get the science that lies behind the insight of Karl Marx that: “The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas” and how that can be worked on and transformed through revolution.

If you don’t understand the underlying dynamics of society, you will be played. We run into this all the time: the politicians and pundits declare, and people follow suit and say: the problem is corruption, or money in politics, or greed, or human nature.... The list goes on. Without understanding how a society functions, getting under the hood of how it works, you can’t really know or solve the problem. Police brutality and murder disproportionally target Black and Latino youth, with pigs never held to account. No justice, only payouts to keep quiet. What you think needs to be done about this unconscionable outrage depends on whether you understand what the root of the problem is. Give the police “sensitivity” training? Have a community review board? Wear body cams? Not even close. The problem is that the job of the police is to serve and protect the capitalist system—their function is to protect the right of the ruling class to exploit and oppress the masses and if there is no way for the masses to survive, then they must be terrorized into submission, locked up or killed. The deep foundational structure of white supremacy in this country has and will continue to result in the most brutal repression and targeting of Black and Latino youth. You can’t reform that away. It’s too woven into the fabric of the system and its functioning. We must fight the power, and transform the people, for revolution. But to understand that, you need science.

If you go to the doctor because you have symptoms that could either indicate a sore back or cancer of the spine, or perhaps a chest discomfort that could be acid reflux or a heart condition, for sure you know that you want a doctor grounded in the latest scientific medical understanding to determine what is the specific disease causing your symptoms, followed by what are the tested treatments for the correctly diagnosed disease. You don’t want to take a TUMS for a heart attack... or, rub on some Ben Gay for cancer... nor should you want to be told the “cure” is for you to atone for your sins and pray.

The same is true for diagnosing and setting a course of treatment for the ills of society. But when it comes to human society, even many scientists say that you can’t apply scientific methodology. That it’s too complex, too subjective. This is nonsense. Ardea Skybreak makes the point that it is exactly the opposite—because of the complexity of human society, a scientific approach is all the more needed. 

Materialism vs. Idealism

At the heart of the matter, is, well, matter. All of reality, even the processes of our consciousness take place through matter in motion. Our ideas are reflections of objective material reality and they can impact objective reality. And, that is one reason we can know that reality objectively exists.

Philosophically, this is reflected in two modes of thinking: Materialism vs. Idealism. Materialism—dialectical materialism—means your conception of the world flows from a fundamental understanding that everything exists as matter—matter that is constantly changing, that is always in motion, moving through contradiction. And, this stands in opposition to philosophical Idealism—the view that, as Avakian writes in The New Communism,

[R]eality is an extension of ideas—ideas in the mind of individuals. For example: “Maybe this doesn’t exist for you, but it exists for me.” We hear this kind of thing all the time, this relativism: “Well, that may be your truth, but my truth says something different. God may not exist for you, but God definitely exists for me.” No! If god exists at all, then god exists for everybody.

Avakian stresses that it matters not just “what people think, but, even more fundamentally, how they think—and how they ‘approach the world.’” And, that this is not only sharply contended in society and the world, but “also among many who claim to be seeking some kind of ‘progressive’ or radical change, and even among many who proclaim to be communists.” Unfortunately, such idealist approaches to social change, and revolution, result in a kind of religious approach that views the arc of history always bending towards progress, or what has too often prevailed among communists, that communism is inevitable. Such views disarm people from being able to confront, act on, and transform the reality they actually face.

Relativism vs. A Scientific Approach to Reality

Alternative facts, being guided by narratives, and not what is actually true, reaches both the absurd and the deadly dangerous with Trump and his whole regime: “I had the biggest inaugural crowd... Mexicans are criminals and rapists... Muslims all potential terrorists... climate change a hoax”—dangerous lies, but backed up by Fox Media and the power of the state.

How different is this methodologically from Obama saying that the problem Black youth face is that they don’t take personal responsibility and they should pull their pants up? Really? Is this the cause of the oppression of Black people? No, and believing it because Obama as the first Black president said it doesn’t make it true, it makes it all the more dangerous.

And, on the campuses this relativism is rampant in identity politics: a mode of thinking where who is speaking, and whether they are, or are not, the most oppressed person in the room, determines the validity of their ideas. Communists have also had a variant of this: that the workers or the most oppressed have a special purchase on the truth. Ok, it is sometimes the case that those who have lived a life under the most vicious boot of this system may more readily gravitate towards revolution, but their position in society does not in itself provide an understanding of how society works, or of the theory, strategy and programs to transform it. Another example, all too common on the campuses, is if an uncomfortable truth is spoken and this upsets someone, then a safe space must be created where this intrusion of the true brutality of the real world is prohibited. 

Or, in the social movements of resistance this slogan is chanted in demonstrations: “The people united will never be defeated.” Is this true? No. Bob Avakian has pointed out that people have been united and been defeated—many times. Both for reasons that their adversaries were stronger, and sometimes because of shortcomings or mistakes in how the struggle was led. Yes, it is good and necessary to unite people around a correct understanding of reality and a strategy and plan that flows from that. But it is just a seemingly “useful” political truth that “the people united will never be defeated.” And, it misleads.

This is a reflection of what Avakian has critiqued as populist epistemology—that whatever most people think at any given time defines what’s true. Facebook reality, thumbs down.

The mode of thinking that denies that there is objective reality, that there is only subjective experience: “I have my truth and you have yours,” leaves people unequipped to deal with the momentous problems humanity faces; it leaves you blind to discover where there are sharp and profound contradictions brewing beneath the surface that could hold the potential for revolutionary struggle. You can’t act with conviction about anything other than yourself.

It is prevalent in academia that to even claim there is objective reality is totalizing —totalitarian—because it doesn’t leave room for my ideas. Some who are influenced by postmodernism claim that the insistence that there is objective reality and a scientific way to understand and transform that reality is what led to the problems of the 20th century revolutions.

This relativism—that there is no objective truth, that we can’t act with any certitude about what has been determined through scientific verification is true, is nonsense, but not just that. The relativist construct of competing narratives that must all be brought together is wrong and harmful. Does the history and present lived reality of oppressed and marginalized peoples need to be uncovered, told, paid attention to, and redressed? Yes. But, what is true about that history is true not just for that group, it is part of the history of humanity and its causes and solutions sought in the larger reality, with unity forged on that foundation. Relativism keeps everyone and the struggle “in their lane,” confined to thinking about and only acting on what concerns them; it cuts off the kind of process necessary to know and change the whole world.

Avakian makes the point in The New Communism that “everybody who’s a relativist is relativist until it really matters to them.” You wouldn’t let your kid run out in the street in front of a car because who’s to say if the traffic is real for him or her? 

The relativism of Trump and his world of “useful” alternative facts, on the one hand, and the relativism that pervades and poisons the movements of opposition, on the other, are completely diametrically opposed in morality—one stands on the side of gloatingly enforcing oppression, and the other in fighting against oppression and wanting a more just world. But, methodologically the parallels of proceeding from “your truth,” or your group’s “reality,” from what’s useful to you and your cause, people, gender—in the immediate moment—will and can only lead away from understanding the root of the problem humanity faces, and to leaving the world the horror that it is. 

Before concluding, since I just brought this question of epistemology back to Trump, I want to commend your attention to two works by BA: “The Truth About Right-Wing Conspiracy… And Why Clinton and the Democrats Are No Answer,” and The Coming Civil War and Repolarization for Revolution in the Present Era, which not only deeply reveal the roots of fascism in America, but are a stunning example of the scientific approach of Bob Avakian.

When you get into The New Communism, when you dig into the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, and other works, you will see that he not only advocates for a scientific approach to reality and to making revolution, but in what is a real game changer, Bob Avakian breaks ground in creating a new framework for how masses of people can wield and apply science to society, creating a movement today and a future society to unleash the maximum creativity, ferment, experimentation and dissent, on the basis of a solid core of understanding, as integral to carrying forward the aims and objectives of the revolution to emancipate humanity.

I am going to conclude with this quotation from the handbook for revolution, BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian that was reprinted on the promotional flyer. This both serves as a certain concentration of the qualitative breakthrough in the scientific epistemology of the new synthesis and brings home why it is so integral to humanity getting free. With all that the people of the world face, we are fortunate to have this work, leadership, and Institute at this moment. Hopefully this quotation will also serve as a provocation for our discussion.

For humanity to advance beyond a state in which “might makes right”—and where things ultimately come down to raw power relations—will require, as a fundamental element in this advance, an approach to understanding things (an epistemology) which recognizes that reality and truth are objective and do not vary in accordance with, nor depend on, different “narratives” and how much “authority” an idea (or “narrative”) may have behind it, or how much power and force can be wielded on behalf of any particular idea or “narrative,” at any given point.

 

1. “A Leap of Faith” and a Leap to Rational Knowledge: Two Very Different Kinds of Leaps, Two Radically Different Worldviews and Methods“ [back]



       

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/495/unity-and-struggle-the-ba-institute-forum-at-ucla-june-5-2017-en.html

Revolution #495 June 12, 2017

Unity and Struggle: The BA Institute Forum at UCLA, June 5, 2017

'Science and Revolution, Why Knowing What's True Has Everything to Do with Getting Beyond This World of Horrors:
A Presentation and Exchange on the New Communism Developed by Bob Avakian'

June 14, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Video of Event

 

Report of Event

This was received from The BA Institute.

The Bob Avakian Institute sponsored a timely engagement on the epistemological heart of Bob Avakian’s new synthesis of communism on June 5 at UCLA titled: “Science and Revolution, Why Knowing What’s True Has Everything to Do with Getting Beyond This World of Horrors: A Presentation and Exchange on the New Communism Developed by Bob Avakian.” The other co-sponsors were The Ralph J. Bunche Center of African American Studies, The American Indian Studies Center, The Academic Advancement Program, and Prof. Reynaldo Macías of Chicana/o Studies. 

The event included a presentation from Andy Zee, spokesperson for Revolution Books, NY on behalf of The BA Institute, with responses from Andrew Apter, Professor of Anthropology and History and Juan Gómez-Quiñones, Professor of History, both from UCLA. This was followed by discussion among the participants and some questions from the audience.

The organizing of the event and its thematic came together through discussion with a number of the participants and co-sponsors about the work and mission of The Bob Avakian Institute. There was a strong sentiment that we had to speak to the dangers of the moment we’re facing with the Trump/Pence regime while focusing on and engaging the new synthesis of communism developed by Bob Avakian. Our prepatory discussions focused on whether science—which all agreed was under attack in dangerous ways—could and should be applied consistently to human society and the struggle for human emancipation, the breakthrough which is at the heart of Avakian’s work. 

The event itself held a sharp, deep and lively exchange taking off from these questions, and The Bob Avakian Institute will be posting video soon. About 50 people were in attendance including a number of Directors of several UCLA Centers, faculty, both graduate and undergraduate students as well as anti-fascist activists and members of the LA Revolution Club. After the event, a UCLA professor commented that this was a rare coming together of serious significant university centers to sponsor an exchange on revolutionary communist theory connected to the current political moment. 

The three participants came together with a lot of unity and heart for the conditions of the oppressed around the world, and real concern about the dangers for humanity represented by the Trump/Pence regime. At the same time there were sharp differences about whether, on the one hand, a scientific approach is biased, too limiting or even dangerous and thus not desirable, or on the other hand, as concentrated in the breakthrough of the new synthesis of communism developed by Bob Avakian, science is essential as the most consistent, systematic, and liberatory means to understand the source of all the forms of oppression and exploitation, and on that basis, to ground and carry forward the vision and road to the revolutionary transformation of society towards human emancipation.

Andy Zee talked about the world historic importance of Avakian’s work, and the role that Avakian is playing today as the architect of a new stage of communist revolution and leader of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA. His talk led people to confront the extreme dangers bound up with the fascism of the Trump/Pence regime and the roots of this fascist program and ideology in America, with a focus on the unleashing and cohering of their fascist social base with the narrative of “Make America Great Again," based on lies, “alternative facts,” and a false narrative of an aggrieved white male America kept down by elites, immigrants, Muslims, people of color and women. He then went into the myths of the narrative mythology of America that the Democrats tell and its variants in the progressive social movements. While acknowledging the sharply posed moral and political differences between those who advocate and enforce oppression and those who oppose it, he dug more deeply into the anti-scientific relativism and instrumentalism that underlie the method and approach that these polar opposites share. He contrasted this to what’s needed: the scientific heart of the new synthesis of communism, speaking to what science is and, in a living way, why any approach less or opposed to this, will not lead to the emancipation of all humanity. He ended his talk by going back to BAsics 4:10 which helped frame the event as a whole. 

Professor Juan Gómez-Quiñones began by going back to Karl Marx, contrasting Marx’s approach to the pessimism of other thinkers of the 19th century, including Nietzsche, Schopenhauer and others. He upheld Marx’s economic and political analysis in several concrete ways and how this laid the basis for people to see the potential for how a better world was possible. He upheld the universality of this theory in pointing to how we are all sisters and brothers under the skin. But he also raised a number of criticisms of what he argued was a Eurocentrism from Marx, including a wrong approach to the cultures of the oppressed around the world. Later, in the discussion, Professor Juan Gómez-Quiñones talked about the uniqueness and importance of the work Avakian is doing. He made the point that we need living analysis that could bring us out of this situation the world is in. In the context of what was a brief Q&A and discussion, Professor Juan Gómez-Quiñones did not go into an assessment of BA’s new synthesis, but highlighted that there are not others who are doing work like BA, and that the work needs to be engaged on that basis.

Professor Andrew Apter began his comments with a personal appreciation for Avakian’s foundational political experience in the struggle of Black people, and told a personal anecdote about going to the same middle school in Berkeley. He argued that Marx is incredibly relevant to understanding the situation in the world today. While Prof. Apter agreed on the need for philosophy to be rooted in reality, he raised a number of concerns and differences in particular over whether science could be applied to human society in the way science can be applied to nature. He also criticized what he felt were confining, and even repressive, dangers in applying a scientific approach to human society. He argued, in contrast to the scientific method that Avakian is arguing for, which Prof. Apter critiqued as “scientism,” that critical theory provides the best framework we have today for understanding the world. 

All this was joined and struggled over in the discussion.

Annie Day, the Director of The BA Institute, spoke briefly about the Institute, the importance of its mission and ways people can contribute—by becoming a Friend of the Institute, assigning BA’s work in their classes, and being a part of future events and salons.

The discussion and Q&A got into a number of different topics ranging from the significance of the breakthroughs that Marx made and how; whether Avakian has taken those further; how to understand the role BA is playing in the world today; the need for an actual revolution and what is required for that; struggle over the approach one should take evaluating the first stage of communist revolution; struggle over what science is and isn’t; questions concentrated in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, including what it will take to emancipate oppressed nationalities within the U.S., how that’s handled in that Constitution; and, underlying these differences was the philosophical, methodological difference between materialism vs. idealism.

What energized the participants, the sponsors, and the audience was how through this discussion, including the at times sharp struggle about the basis, goals and methods for change, there was shared deep unity about the horrors facing humanity and the need for people to act. In addition, there was a collective sense—coming from different and even divergent perspectives—that Avakian is making important contributions that all need to learn from and whose work needs to be known and engaged throughout society.

As this was just a beginning to the kind of discussion Avakian’s work can open up, The BA Institute looks forward to further discussions and exchanges throughout the summer, and will be aiming to set up more panels and presentations in the fall.



       

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/495/iraqi-immigrants-and-supporters-in-Detroit-block-buses-en.html

Revolution #495 June 12, 2017

 

Iraqi Immigrants and Supporters in Detroit Block Buses, Take to the Streets to Stop Vicious ICE Roundups

June 16, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

 

The horror and outrage from the Detroit Iraqi community was immediate.  Over the June 10th weekend, at least 114 Iraqi immigrants—nearly all Chaldean Christians, members of a branch of the Catholic Church with ancient roots in Iraq and Syria—were rounded up in SWAT-team type raids by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agents.  About 100 family members and supporters responded quickly, rallying outside the downtown Detroit ICE center Sunday afternoon, terrified that their husbands or wives, fathers or mothers, grandparents, or other loved ones were facing deportation—and a likely death sentence—if sent back to Iraq.  When a bus tried to pull out in the middle of the night headed to the Youngstown, Ohio detention center, protesters blocked it.  Only after the police repeatedly shoved the protesters out of the way was the bus able to get through. 

Protests have continued daily since then, with people going into the street on Michigan Avenue crying, “Stop deportations—Bring our families home,” and holding press conferences.  And two U.S. Representatives are expected to attend a huge demonstration called for Friday afternoon, June 16, at the Immigration Center in downtown Detroit. 

At least two hundred Iraqi immigrants have so far been reported arrested and facing deportation in a major series of targeted raids carried out by Trump’s rabid ICE agents. The focus of their attack was on Detroit, which is home to around 150,000 Chaldeans—the largest population outside of the Middle East.  A great majority have come here as refugees in the past few decades, fleeing war, despotism, and deprivation.  And in the aftermath of the 2003 U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq, Iraqi Chaldeans have also been fleeing persecution as minority Christians who are being systematically targeted and killed by ISIS and other jihadist groups.  Thirty arrests of Iraqi Kurds took place in Nashville, which has the largest U.S. population of Iraqi Kurds.

None of those arrested were undocumented, and none were in violation of the law.  They were rounded up for deportation because at some time in their past—in most cases decades ago—they had been convicted of and punished for a crime.  They had received removal orders at that time, but they were not deported and only required to check in regularly, because of the wars and the on-going persecution of Christians.  A large number of these Iraqis were children when they came here as refugees.  Then, having gotten in trouble with the law when they were much younger, they did their time and then went on to work, marry and raise families.

Nevertheless, in a disgusting and life-threatening lie, ICE officials are justifying their massive assault by saying they are “address(ing) the very real public safety threat represented by the criminal aliens arrested.”  Think about this: from the viewpoint of this bourgeois legal system—now taken to a whole new level by the Trump/Pence fascist regime and their ICE and Border Patrol goons—one of the most fundamental tenets of the law does not apply to immigrants:  According to them, immigrants who are convicted of a crime and serve their sentence are criminals for the rest of their lives.  And in this racist society, Black and other oppressed people are treated the same way. 

One man convicted of marijuana use as a teenager decades ago has been arrested.  And a 55-year-old man arrested Sunday morning immigrated with his family in 1977—40 years ago.  He has a wife and children here, but no relatives in Iraq.  He doesn’t speak Iraqi Arabic, and doesn’t know the culture.  How is he going to survive?  “Donald Trump has essentially given these Christians a death sentence,” said the founder of the Minority Humanitarian Foundation, which helps Iraqi minorities. They are among a number of groups, including the ACLU, who are planning to file or have already filed lawsuits to stop these deportations, including raising the fact that it is a violation of international law to deport people back to a war zone.

According to ICE officials, these raids were a result of a deal struck between the Trump/Pence regime and the Iraqi government.  The U.S. agreed to remove Iraq from Trump’s travel ban on seven predominantly Muslim countries, and Iraq will now accept the return of Iraqi nationals facing orders of removal.  But more than that, it appears the Trump/Pence regime has now unleashed its immigration enforcers to single out immigrants from the seven countries of the Middle East listed in their original Muslim travel ban.  In April ICE agents terrified people in the Somali immigrant community in Atlanta, GA, using the same method of rounding up anyone from Somalia who in the past had ever become “deportable.”

And ICE has only begun these criminal roundups.  They have announced that they have a list of 1,444 “deportable” Iraqis that they fully intend to arrest and deport; and they have 4,801 Somalis on a similar list as well.  

An activist and founder of a local charter school for hundreds of refugee children in Detroit opened up the school immediately for families to get legal representation, and has put out a call to action.  “I really can’t put into words what I saw today,” he said.  “Today, I’m ashamed to be an American.”  With real courage these immigrants and their supporters are daring to stand up against the escalating crimes the Trump/Pence regime and their thug enforcers are carrying out.  People everywhere have got to join them.  These roundups cannot become the “new normal.” They must be resisted—and stopped!    

 

 

       

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/495/pig-who-murdered-philando-castile-walks-free-en.html

Revolution #495 June 12, 2017

Amerikkka, Goddam!  Pig Who Murdered Philando Castile Walks Free!

June 16, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

June 16, 2017, we got to watch this goddam system once again put the stamp of approval on yet another police murder – this time of Philando Castile.  The pig who murdered him walked free.

Last July 4, Philando was driving in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota, his hometown, with his girlfriend Diamond Reynolds, and her four-year-old child.   Philando was pulled over by cop Jeronimo Yanez – why?  Because Philando was Black, had a broken tail-light, and supposedly reminded Yanez of someone suspected of a crime.  In other words Philando was racially profiled – it was his 46th time!

Philando broke no laws, and he did everything he was supposed to do after being stopped.  He told Yanez he had a legal firearm in the car.  He attempted to comply with Yanez' demand that he show him his ID.  But Yanez immediately opened fire, shooting Philando seven times.  Thousands and thousands saw Philando dying because Diamond Reynolds had the courage to livestream the aftermath of the shooting, even as she had every reason to fear for her own and for her child's life.  Within seconds, Philando was dead – murdered for being alive while Black.

None of this mattered in Amerikkka’s white supremacist injustice system.  Yanez walked free on manslaughter charges because he claimed he feared for his life, and because this system’s laws are set up to go along with this lying excuse – set up to justify outright murder by the police.

The people's rage was immediate.  Philando’s mother Valerie Castile stormed out of the court as soon as the “not guilty” verdict was announced, and condemned it:  

“My son was murdered, and I will continue to say murdered, because where in this planet do you tell the truth, and you be honest, and you still be murdered by the police of Minnesota, while you have your seat belt on and you’re in the company with a woman and a child? My son would never jeopardize anyone else’s life.”

His sister Allysza declared:  “The system really is wrong, and they really failed us. They really failed us, once again, because my brother was a good man. You never even heard him raise his voice. You never even heard him yell. And for that man to get on the stand and lie, he got caught in three, four, five different lies.”

The night of the verdict, 2,000 people righteously took to the streets of Minneapolis and St. Paul, and shut down I-94 on both sides. There were protests in Minneapolis and in New York, Chicago, Oakland, and Los Angeles the next day. (Go here for reports and photos/videos of the protests.) It was good and very necessary that people went out into the streets to immediately protest—and this must spark even broader and more determined protests across the country against the deeply unjust verdict letting the pig who murdered Philando Castile free and against other murder and terror by the police.

~~~~~~~~~~

ENOUGH! Enough of a system that can't function without its enforcers wantonly murdering hundreds of people, mainly Black and Brown, each year and rewards the pigs who do this! Enough of a system that can’t get justice for Oscar Grant, even after his murder was captured on videotape.  Enough of a system which can’t convict a pig videotaped murdering Philando Castile.  Enough of a system which can't prosecute police who are videotaped shooting Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old Black child, for playing in a park; which can't prosecute police who are videotaped choking Eric Garner, a Black man, for refusing to be degraded on the street; and on, and on, and on...

And enough of this system with its new all-out fascist regime which aims to put this nightmare on steroids, a regime that says it will fully unleash its enforcers to carry out even greater crimes against Black people, and against humanity, while aiming to wipe out any ability to protest and resist.

Enough!

As Carl Dix of the Revolutionary Communist Party said in his statement after the Philando Castile verdict:

Police getting away with murder is unacceptable. And now the fascist Trump-Pence regime is vowing to "take the gloves off the police," which will mean that police terrorizing and murdering Black and Brown people would intensify. We must act to STOP this horror now! Not try to get the capitalist rulers to ease off on unleashing their front line enforcers to terrorize and murder people, but to STOP this from going down. We must take our righteous rage and refusal to sit by while this goes down into the streets. And we must do this as part of getting ready and in position for an actual revolution, one that overthrows this system because that's the only way to end this horror, and all the other horrors this system enforces on people around the world and in this country.

Stay in the streets!  Justice for Philando!

Drive Out the Fascist Trump/Pence Regime!

Revolution, Nothing Less!

 

 

 

       

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/495/check-it-out-pass-it-over-en.html

Revolution #495 June 12, 2017

Check It Out:

Pass Over, by Antoinette Nwandu

June 17, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

From a reader:

Pass Over, by Antoinette Nwandu, is a pathbreaking play focusing on two young Black men, Moses and Kitch, trapped in the bleak and blasted-out city landscape that could be located either off Fury Road near Thunderdome or a few miles south or west of the Steppenwolf Theater in Chicago, where the play is being put on. 

Nwandu mashes up Waiting for Godot, by Samuel Beckett,* and the Exodus myth in the Bible—and comments on both in doing so—to give you the humor, aching dreams, humanity and essential predicament of two characters you don't see on the stage very often. Nwandu gives you two characters who will make you laugh (in an interview, she wishes for a world in which they could be seen in the “same family tree as Laurel and Hardy, and Abbott and Costello”) and make you cry. She combines surreal symbolism—which in this case doesn't come off as just “wow, that's weird” but a twisting and exaggeration that lets you see into the inner core of reality—to get you to ask who and what confines these youth. Where is Egypt today? Who is Pharaoh and who are his soldiers? Who really is that strange and seemingly naive white man in the ice-cream suit on his way to “mother's house,” offering a picnic basket full of goodies to Moses and Kitch? Can we rely on the old myths to get free—or is the case, as the play's character Moses says at one point, that that river Jordan ain't for us? Can people transform...and how? And how entrenched are the forces that stand against that? Decades ago a French dramatist, Antonin Artaud, called for theater that would have the urgency of someone burning at the stake who was trying to signal through the flames—Pass Over is in that tradition. 

I hate it when reviewers give away too much of the content of whatever it is they're reviewing, so normally I'd say no more about the play other than to recommend people go see it. But Hedy Weiss, the theater critic for the Chicago Sun-Times, created a controversy by attacking the play for its allegedly one-sided treatment of white cops and, according to her, its failure to speak to the horror of Black youth gunning down each other. So—spoiler alert—some of the actual content must be discussed. But let's just say this: the play cuts right to the essence of how the police treat Black and Brown youth—and in the part of the play Weiss objects to, there is no need for surreal exaggeration, and Nwandu gives you what could pass for a dash-cam documentary, to great effect. As for the argument that the play does not deal with Black youth killing each other: on one level, this is idiotic. Since when do you criticize what an artistic work does deal with by saying it should have dealt with something else? Further, Weiss apparently missed a crucial scene in the play in which that phenomenon IS in fact directly dealt with and another in which it is clearly being touched on. But beyond that—objectively, the play does approach this problem in a deep way by implication and provides a context in which a theater-goer (and Weiss somewhat sneeringly refers to Steppenwolf's “white liberal” audience) could begin to understand that. 

The heart of the matter is this: the core truth of Bob Avakian's quote from BAsics—that the police “enforce the relations of exploitation and oppression, the conditions of poverty, misery and degradation into which the system has cast people and is determined to keep people in”—comes to life here. And this is what Weiss does not like.

To their credit, Anna Shapiro, Steppenwolf's artistic director, and David Schmitz, the executive director, fired back at Weiss, and other critics, who “revealed at best the ignorance of the critic and at worst, a racial bias that, when captured in print, wounded many people of color in this community and their allies, and served as a horrendous reminder of how far we still have to come in terms of racial equity in this community.”

This is the kind of theater that is needed right now. If you are at all close to Chicago, see this play.

 

* Waiting for Godot is a play by Samuel Beckett, written in the mid-20th century. Two tramps—Vladimir and Estragon—wait in a bleak landscape for someone (a person? A god? Something else? It is not made clear) named Godot who never shows up. The play—which was both very bleak and very funny, very poetic and very philosophical—was hugely influential artistically, and could be understood as putting forward a certain view of “the human condition” which tended to negate the quest for a significance or value to existence larger than the humanity with which people dealt with each other in their personal relationships. [back]

 

       

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/495/system-puts-its-stamp-of-approval-on-police-murder-of-philando-castile-en.html

Revolution #495 June 12, 2017

We Must Take Our Rage at this Outrageous Verdict to the Streets!

System Puts Its Stamp of Approval on Police Murder of Philando Castile!

by Carl Dix

June 17, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Minnesota goddamn! No, Amerikkka goddamn! This system just let another killer cop walk out of a courtroom scot free, putting its stamp of approval on another official murder of a Black man. This time it was the murderer of Philando Castile, and the courtroom was in Minnesota. Last month the pig who murdered Terence Crutcher walked free out of a courtroom in Oklahoma. Before that it was the cops in Baltimore who murdered Freddie Gray; the cop in Chicago who murdered Rekia Boyd; the cop in Detroit who murdered seven-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones; and I could go on and on. And most of the time cops who murder Black and Brown people don't even get put on trial.

It didn't matter in this case that Diamond Reynolds, Philando Castile's girlfriend, had bravely recorded a Facebook post of the murdering pig right after he had shot Castile. Or that we saw that murdering pig pointing his gun at Reynolds, threatening to shoot her too. Or that we heard Reynolds' four-year-old daughter telling her mother “It's all right. I'm here with you,” even though we knew it wasn't all right because this little girl had just watched this pig blow Philando Castile away.

None of this mattered because all the murdering pig had to do was get on the witness stand and oink that he was afraid for his life to get a not guilty verdict. That's all the murdering pigs who patrol Black and Latino neighborhoods like occupying armies ever have to say to walk free when they murder someone.

As Bob Avakian, the leader of the RCP, says in BAsics: “The role of the police is not to serve and protect the people. It is to serve and protect the system that rules over the people. To enforce the relations of exploitation and oppression, the conditions of poverty, misery and degradation into which the system has cast people and is determined to keep people in. The law and order the police are about, with all of their brutality and murder, is the law and the order that enforces all this oppression and madness.”

Police getting away with murder is unacceptable. And now the fascist Trump-Pence regime is vowing to “take the gloves off the police,” which will mean that police terrorizing and murdering Black and Brown people would intensify. We must act to STOP this horror now! Not try to get the capitalist rulers to ease off on unleashing their front line enforcers to terrorize and murder people, but to STOP this from going down. We must take our righteous rage and refusal to sit by while this goes down into the streets. And we must do this as part of getting ready and in position for an actual revolution, one that overthrows this system because that's the only way to end this horror, and all the other horrors this system enforces on people around the world and in this country.

Justice for Philando Castile!

Stop Police Terror & Murder!

Revolution—Nothing Less!

 

 

       

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/495/justice-for-philando-castile-en.html

Revolution #495 June 12, 2017

In the Streets Against the Outrageous Verdict on Police Murder of Philando Castile:
"On Trial: The System. Verdict: Guilty!"

Updated June 18, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

On Friday, June 16, soon after the outrageous “not guilty” verdict was announced for the pig who murdered Philando Castile, 2,000 angry people gathered on the steps of the Minnesota State Capitol. The crowd, including people of different nationalities and many with children, took off for a march through the streets. People carried signs like “Justice is dead” and “On Trial: The System. Verdict: Guilty!” People chanted, “If we don't get no justice, they don't get no peace.” And protesters yelled at the police, “Who do you serve? Black lives, they matter here! Black lives, they matter here!" About 500 people poured onto Interstate 94 in St. Paul, blocking traffic on both sides, and 18 people, including two journalists, were arrested.

On Saturday, protests continued for a second day in Minneapolis. About 200 people were in a Solidarity March Against Police Violence and White Silence through the downtown streets to the police department, stopping light rail trains and sitting in at intersections.

In New York City, up to 300 people rallied in Harlem and then marched 60 blocks to Trump Tower. The rally and march came at the end of the annual Juneteenth parade and celebration. The action was called by Black Lives Matter of Greater New York, Revolution Club NYC, Refuse Fascism NYC, NYC Democratic Socialists of America and others. Speaker after speaker denounced another cop walking free that had murdered a Black man. Noche Diaz spoke for the Revolution Club. Speakers from Black Lives Matter of Greater New York made a point of welcoming white people to the protest and said the murder by police of Black people is not just an issue for Black people but is an issue for all people. One of the organizers announced that Philando Castile’s mother was watching the rally via livestream. Several times people poured into the streets on the march and then pushed by police who threatened arrests.

More than 200 people held a rally and speak-out in front of City Hall in Oakland, California. Chanting "Black Lives Matter" and "No Justice, No Peace," those gathered held fists in the air and pledged that they will act and not become complacent to the ongoing police murders and that they would not be silent as these murdering cops are exonerated. The protest was organized by a 16-year-old high school student who constructed her own Facebook page after she heard about the verdict. A woman whose son was murdered by the California Highway Patrol recounted the police lies and cover-up, saying that the epidemic of police murder has to be stopped. A friend of Brownie Polk, a carpenter shot and killed by Oakland police, related the facts of his killing. A Black woman, a nurse, told how her husband, a manager at a large hospital, was repeatedly targeted by the police. She said that every day she fears for the lives of her two sons. 

In Chicago, the Revolution Club rallied in the downtown Loop, with Carl Dix of the Revolutionary Communist Party speaking. Then the Revolution Club marched to the entrance of Millennium Park, where American flags were burned as people gathered around. A Chicago Sun-Times article on the protest, including a photo of the flag burning, said, “The group claimed the flag stands as a symbol of oppression and white supremacy.”

In Los Angeles, the Revolution Club protested in the South Central neighborhood with a dozen others who joined their call, including animal rights activists who had just heard about the action on social media.

Stay tuned to Revcom.us for ongoing coverage.

ENOUGH!

Enough of a system that can't function without its enforcers wantonly murdering hundreds of people, mainly Black and Brown, each year and rewards the pigs who do this! Enough of a system which can’t convict a pig videotaped murdering Philando Castile. Enough of a system that can’t get justice for Oscar Grant, even after his murder was captured on videotape. Enough of a system which can't prosecute police who are videotaped shooting Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old Black child, for playing in a park; which can't prosecute police who are videotaped choking Eric Garner, a Black man, for refusing to be degraded on the street; and on, and on, and on...

And enough of this system with its new all-out fascist regime which aims to put this nightmare on steroids, a regime that says it will fully unleash its enforcers to carry out even greater crimes against Black people, and against humanity, while aiming to wipe out any ability to protest and resist.

Enough!

Stay in the streets! Justice for Philando!

Drive Out the Fascist Trump/Pence Regime!

Revolution, Nothing Less!

After the verdict hundreds marched through the streets of St. Paul and onto the I-94 freeway, shutting it down for several hours in both directions.

 

June 17, 2017. Minneapolis. Credit: Twitter/@ADLavinsky

 

NYC, June 17

 

 

June 17, 2017. Oakland. Photo: Special to revcom.us

 

June 17, 2017. Chicago. Photo: Special to revcom.us

 

 

June 17, 2017. Los Angeles. Photo: Special to revcom.us

 

 

 

       

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/495/defend-and-stand-with-immigrant-hunger-strikers-at-adelanto-en.html

Revolution #495 June 12, 2017

Defend and Stand with Immigrant Hunger Strikers at Adelanto

June 17, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

On the morning of Monday, June 12, nine Central American immigrants seeking political asylum began a hunger strike at the Adelanto Detention Center (ADC) in southern California. The men, the #Adelanto9, were protesting the denial of their rights to political asylum and demanding an end to inhumane treatment. Shortly after they began their action, the hunger strikers were brutally assaulted and attacked with pepper spray by goons from the GEO Group Inc., a private prison corporation that owns and operates ADC for the Immigration and Naturalization Service (ICE).

In a transcribed and translated phone call, Isaac López Castillo, a 27-year-old spokesman for the nine asylum seekers, relayed what happened: “[T]hey sprayed us with more pepper spray. And once they were able to pull us out, they threw some of us against the wall ... they threw me up against the glass of the phone booth. They pushed my face up into it, on the corner. And Timoteo was drenched, including his private parts, with pepper spray. Our skin is all covered with rashes, and some have gashes from their fingernails. And one of the guys had his dental crown knocked out.”  It was also reported that the nine prisoners were made to take showers with hot water afterwards, greatly increasing the pain from the pepper spray.

Just Demands of the Adelanto Hunger Strikers

In a communiqué before starting their strike, the nine asylum seekers said, “We are participants from the Migrant Pilgrimage [the caravan of Central American refugees which crossed Mexico during April and May to seek political asylum in the United States].

“We are from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala. We ask for your attention, because Adelanto is one of the prisons which exists for those who are seeking political asylum, and in reality our records are clean, none of us have prior criminal records. The bond is set impossibly high, and it’s a humiliating joke because we are poor, we don’t have that kind of money.” Aside from the denial of their right to political asylum, the strikers said they were taking action because of “humiliation and discrimination toward the detained,” “paperwork available only in English,” “bad food,” and other outrageous conditions and treatment.

The hunger strikers demanded: “1) Bond set fairly for all prisoners; 2) Political asylum; 3) New uniforms ... because we are being issued underwear that has been worn by other people, which risks our health; 4) More time for religious services; 5) No throwing away detainees’ belongings; 6) All paperwork must be provided in our native languages...; 7) Clean water 24 hours a day; 8) Better food for detainees; 9) The entire group of hunger strikers demand that we be released on our own recognizance as quickly as possible, since we do not have the resources to pay inflated bond amounts.”

The Migrant Pilgrimage that the nine Adelanto hunger strikers were part of was called “Caravan Against Fear” and involved 108 people who traveled through Mexico, organizing other refugees on the migrant trails and train lines. The U.S. split them up and sent them to seven different detention centers, with over half of them separated from their family members.

Under U.S. and international law, asylum seekers are given a “credible fear” interview to determine the basis for their fear of repression and violent retaliation in their home countries and the need for political asylum. According to Tristan Call, an immigrant rights advocate with the Nashville-based group Sureñxs En Acción, at least seven of the nine asylum seekers at Adelanto (and 45 of the 108 who were in the caravan) have undergone and passed the “credible fear” interviews. He said: “Most of them have had one or more family members murdered. A lot of them have had direct physical attacks that they survived themselves, and they’ve had extensive death threats.”

Tristan Call said at least one immigrant’s bond was set at $20,000. As he explained, for “a refugee from El Salvador coming with nothing, there is zero chance you will be able to do that. It’s essentially similar to the kind of extortion they were experiencing from the gangs they just fled from: You flee for your life from a place where you’re being extorted tens of thousands of dollars that you can’t pay, and then you have a similar experience with the U.S. government.” One immigration lawyer in San Diego said since Trump’s inauguration, she’s been told by ICE officials that there is zero percent chance for her clients to be released even before ICE had looked at the documents.

Women Adelanto Detainees Also Take Action

On Wednesday, June 14, it was reported that 29 to 33 women detainees at ADC joined in a one-day hunger strike and issued four demands: 1) better medical care; 2) lower bonds; 3) basic respect from GEO and ICE guards; 4) to be reunited with their children and families. There were reports that they were threatened with pepper spray and solitary confinement. Prison officials claimed the women did not refuse food, or refused it for two meals but ate by dinner. Official policy of the authorities at prisons and detention centers is that they do not recognize a hunger strike as such until it has gone on continuously for at least 72 hours.

Stop the Persecution and Deportation of Immigrants!

Beginning on June 13 and 14, various mainstream news outlets began reporting the detainees had ended "the brief hunger strike.” But on Friday, June 16, two immigrant rights groups, Detention Watch Network and Sureñxs En Accion, issued a joint statement that ICE and GEO officials had met with the #Adelanto9 on Wednesday and had admitted “fault in retaliatory attack on detained hunger strikers ... and promised that the guards and officials responsible would be investigated and punished ... [yet] the #Adelanto9 are still being held in punitive segregated housing.”

The joint statement reported that after the meeting with ICE and GEO officials, the #Adelanto9 had agreed to suspend their hunger strike at noon Wednesday—but by Thursday evening, one of the nine, Isaac López Castillo, said by phone that “[W]e see that ICE lied to us.... We feel that they tricked us, and we are going to continue because we aren’t anyone’s toys.” He said ICE had told the strikers that only a judge could grant or lower their bond for release, but they later learned that the bonds can be granted by ICE.

The Adelanto hunger strike comes at a time when the Trump/Pence regime is intensifying the criminalization of undocumented people, ordering massive deportations, and fanning the flames of anti-immigrant hatred. At least one fascist website is mobilizing America First stormtroopers to demand that the ADC immediately deport all undocumented immigrants. There is an online petition in support of the Adelanto hunger strikers, and there has been an overnight vigil at ADC as well as a press conference and rally in Los Angeles for the #Adelanto9. Much more is needed in this battle—and as part of the larger struggle by broad sections of society to drive out the Trump/Pence fascist regime from power.

As the call from Refuse Fascism for nationwide protests on July 15 to demand “The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go!” says:

The Trump/Pence Regime is ramping up harsh repressive measures against immigrants, inner city youth, and against the right to dissent. They’re pushing a budget and a “healthcare” plan of starvation, disease, impoverishment, and hatred of women. They are ratcheting up the destruction of our planet. Hard-core supporters of the regime are holding KKK/Nazi-style rallies, assaulting journalists, targeting the campuses, threatening lynching, and actually murdering two men who stood up to them in Portland, Oregon.

There is still time to stop a fascist America, but there is not a lot of time. 2018 is too late. There is no shortcut; real change has always come from determined struggle from below.