Start counting the victories

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, with his two-year-old granddaughter Isabelle Dobbs-Higginson on his lap and United Nations Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon looking on, signs the COP21 Climate Change Agreement on behalf of the United States during a ceremony on Earth Day, April 22, 2016, at the U.N. General Assembly Hall in New York, N.Y. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]*

by Kathie MM

Activism is probably the lifeblood of a democracy.  Despite the gloominess and scariness of recent governmental and corporate anti-democracy policies and behaviors, activism persists and can count its victories.

Many people are aware of the massive protests led by the Water Defenders against the Dakota Access Pipeline project last fall. Although Donald Trump is attempting to undo the success of that protest, the fight is not over yet, nor should it be.

Many people are also aware of and relieved concerning the huge and successful activist effort to resist Trump’s destruction of Obamacare,  and encouraged by actions from the judicial system to restrain his racist immigration orders regarding Muslim countries.

And lots of people have read of the hundreds of “town halls” going on across the country right now, where local citizens have challenged their political representatives regarding distressing issues.

However, it is likely that fewer people  know about other successful activist efforts that may be more local or fail to get the attention of the corporate media.

Here are  just a few examples:

Opportunities for more activism abound. Voices for peace and social justice, and respect for Mother Earth, unite.

Continuing through April 23, Resistance Recess: Town halls, and other outreach activities to politicians

April 22 Earth Day Protest March for Science .  Learn more about the achievements of activism on this day historically by clicking here

April 29, 2017  People’s Climate Mobilization

Lots more opportunities can be found at the World Without War  events list  aimed at achieving a world without war .

*Let’s not allow this victory to be shattered by the current GPS (greedy power structure) in DC.

 

Posted in Democracy, Donald Trump, politics, Protest, racism, resistance | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The new brunch

2017.04.15 #TaxMarch Washington, DC. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license. Author: Ted Eytan from Washington, DC, USA.

By Deborah Belle

If rallies are the new brunch, then I partook twice on Tax Day. I had long planned to attend the afternoon Tax Day rally on the Cambridge Common to insist that Pres. Trump disclose his tax returns. Then a friend asked if I would like to go to a morning rally in resistance to the Keystone XL pipeline. The protest would urge people to divest from and close their accounts with TD Bank, one of four banks funding TransCanada, the company behind the Keystone XL Pipeline.

I went to both.

The day could not have been more beautiful, with the forsythia in full bloom in front of the bank. After opening prayers and sharing the scent of sweetgrass burning in a jar, we stationed ourselves with signs near the TD bank at the Alewife Brook Parkway Shopping Center in Cambridge.

There, we took turns leading call and response chants and swayed to Native American music. Responses to our signs and our chanting were generally positive, often enthusiastically so. Joggers, bicyclists, and people driving cars often gave us a thumbs-up or a shout-out. We concluded the rally with further prayers for Mother Earth, for the water protectors, and for the ultimate success of climate activism.

After a quick lunch I was off to Cambridge Common, where  thousands were assembled, including a sizable contingent of Veterans for Peace  with their flags waving beautifully in the breeze.

The excellent master of ceremonies was Michael Connolly , the newly elected brilliant state representative for parts of Cambridge and Somerville. I had heard Michael a few years earlier when he was running for Cambridge City Council, and was very disappointed when he didn’t win. A short time later he ran for state representative with the support of Our Revolution , the Bernie Sanders spin-off group that provided funds and especially volunteers. Michael is now waking up the state legislature with his important insights, wit, and drive.

Speakers argued in favor of a People’s Budget, rather than the military-heavy budget we now have, support for those who have been incarcerated, and strengthening public education against the threat of privatization. A message from Martin Luther King’s speech of just over 50 years ago was invoked: “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

Wonderful signs abounded, including one with pictures of Putin and Trump reading “Married, filing jointly.”

Speakers pointed out that during Republican President Eisenhower’s administration, the top tax rate was 90%. What could we do today if we had that kind of money from billionaires and wealthy corporations? Instead, they do not pay taxes at all,  trillions of dollars are stashed away in tax shelters, the poor and middle class are compelled to pay more, and essential services decline.

Babies, children on their parents’ shoulders, and adorable dogs added to the joy of the day. At one point a red-tailed hawk flew gracefully close to me, landing in a nearby tree, then took wing again and circled over the crowd. Perhaps it was curious at this remarkable gathering of humans.

I stayed a bit longer, sharing a wonderful time of solidarity with those around me. I left feeling strengthened for another week in the Era of Trump.

Posted in Champions of peace, Democracy, Donald Trump, Human rights, politics, Protest, racism, resistance, social justice, Stories of engagement, War tax | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Silence the drums

The guided bomb unit-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb prototype is shown in a weapons test moments before impact. The detonation created a mushroom cloud that could be seen 20 miles away. March 11, 2003. In the public domain. Author: U.S. Air Force

by Kathie MM

Uh, oh,  the war drums are echoing around this country, as bombs drop in Syria and Iraq, in Yemen, and horrifyingly with the mother of all bombs in Afghanistan.

My response to the beating of those war drums is to urge you to read and share this excerpt from an essay by Anthony J. Marsella on total war.  Scroll down for the excerpt.  You can find the complete essay here.

CODA. “

“It is WRONG — morally, ethically, legally — for any nation or people to pursue political, economic, and/or cultural interests, security, and safety by openly or insidiously imposing on any other nation or people, a form of political, economic, culture (e.g., values, religion, language), and/or military invasion, occupation, and control, serving to colonize, oppress, and dominate this nation or people by any and all means which limit their rights, liberties, and freedom of self-determination.

“These are my words; but THEY are not words solely of my making. These words, and the thoughts they embody and represent, appear in timeless historical documents inspired by many noble sources, including: (1) Founding documents of nations (e.g., Declaration of Independence); (2) Global organization statements (Universal Declarations of Human Rights – UDHR); (3) Statements of human aspirations for justice, dignity, freedom (e.g., The Montpelier Manifesto; Magna Carta, Gettysburg Address); (4) Liberation leaders and writers (e.g., Martin Luther Ling, Jr., Frederick Douglas, Paulo Freire, Ignacio Martin-Baro, Malcom X, Susan B. Anthony, Franz Fanon); and (5) Scores of anti-war and anti-violence advocates, who have sacrificed their lives in service to humanity and life.

“The coda speaks to the timeless human impulse for self-determination, and to resist oppression.  At the heart of the coda is an abiding determination to resist domination by foreign powers seeking to subdue, subjugate, and eliminate resistance, by any and all means. This domination strategy is known as “total war.”   

“Total War”

“Total War” is not restricted to the USA. It is a timeless strategy designed to defeat a targeted population through the use of any and all means. While “Total War” may initially give priority to military warfare over destruction of civilian and civil society survival needs, it can, however, easily morph into ethnic cleansing, mass extermination, and genocide. Recall how early American settlers and the USA engaged in the extermination Native American Indians via small pox infestations, starvation, famine, assassinations of leaders, uprooting of homelands, and punitive forced marches.  Consider also the tragic consequences of USA “total war” on Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Middle-East nations.”

by Anthony J. Marsella

When you read these powerful words, what do you want to do?  The US has shown humanitarian impulses in the past, thereby strengthening rather than weakening national security–as in helping the AXIS nations rebuild after World War II. Recently, a bipartisan group of Congressmen have petitioned Trump to put on the brakes regarding his planned expansion of war in Yemen and there are hunger strikers at UN headquarters.

DON’T JUST SILENCE THE DRUMS.  REPLACE THEM WITH RATIONALITY, GOOD SENSE, EMPATHY, A DESIRE TO PRESERVE LIFE ON EARTH.

HERE IS A GOOD PLACE TO START:

PLEASE COMMENT WITH OTHER GOOD LINKS TO HELP US ALL HELP PEACE.

Posted in Armed conflict, colonialism, Donald Trump, Genocide, Human rights, imperialism, Military-industrial complex, politics, Propaganda, racism, Terrorism | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Trump Has Taken A Page Straight From The Hitler Playbook

28 January 2017. Author: Social Justice – Bruce Emmerling. This file is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication.

by Steven Reisner

And you shall not mistreat a stranger, nor shall you oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” ― Exodus 22:20

As a child, I lived in two worlds: the world that I shared with other kids on the streets of Brooklyn, and the world inside my house – a place of tension, strange stories, uncomfortable silences and sudden outbursts; a place where you never knew what would evoke rage and fear or what would trigger a horrific memory or what would turn light, empty talk into the subject of a dire warning. My parents were refugees who had escaped from Poland during the Second World War – and my family kitchen was, in a way, an outpost of the Holocaust.

 So, although I lived the privileged life of lower middle-class white America in the 60’s, I didn’t know it as a child. Because simultaneously, I lived in a world where friendship was determined by who I believed would hide me when the Nazis came to take us away; and where naiveté was represented by those who wouldn’t take these threats seriously or wouldn’t recognize when it was time to flee.

 This is why, when reading about what Donald Trump and his appointees are doing to our current immigrant population and to those seeking refuge, I can’t help but identify with the “aliens,” intuitively replacing the words ‘Muslim’ and ‘Syrian refugee’ with ‘Jew’ and ‘Jewish refugee.’ I instinctively transpose the language, for example, of Trump’s new Federal program, Victims of Immigrant Crime Engagement, to Victims of Jewish Crime Engagement, just to feel what it would be like to be Trump’s target, and wondering, if it were written that way in newspaper headlines, whether it would change anyone’s consciousness of what is happening.

 This is not to say that Trump is preparing concentration camps or the mass extermination of Muslims. But it is to say that that I read Trump’s policy-making as borrowing a page from Hitler’s playbook, galvanizing populist support by mobilizing his followers’ sense of special suffering at the hands of a specific population of alien usurpers. And, by ‘Hitler’s playbook,’ I am not speaking in generalizations or euphemisms; I am referring to Hitler’s actual playbook, the 1920 25-point program of the Nationalist Socialist Party. Like Trump’s playbook, this plan identified aliens as a threat to national unity, responsible for the usurping of jobs and the weakening of “positive Christianity.” Here are excerpts from Hitler’s 25-points:

Only members of the nation may be citizens of the State. Only those of German blood… may be members of the nation. Accordingly, no Jew may be a member of the nation… Non-citizens may live in Germany only as guests and must be subject to laws for aliens… We demand that the State shall make it its primary duty to provide a livelihood for its citizens. If it should prove impossible to feed the entire population, foreign nationals (non-citizens) must be deported from the Reich…

My friends tell me that, as a child of Holocaust survivors, I am too sensitive to these issues, and I, too, have always been skeptical of the overuse of the Hitler card to criticize political hate-speech. But the vitriol of the language of used by the current administration, coupled with the skill with which Trump mobilizes this hatred, has changed this reticence, not only for me, but for other historians of the Holocaust.  

One of the stories that was frequently told in my house was the story of my mother’s father, a tailor who delayed my family’s deportation to Auschwitz from the Lodz ghetto, because he spoke German and made uniforms and other garments for the German elite. One day, a neighbor, who had escaped to the Soviet Union, returned to the ghetto to try and help his family escape and warn the Jews of what was happening. He told terrible stories of mass shootings of Jews at the hands of the Germans. My grandfather, who learned German as a young soldier in the German army during the First World War, refused to believe his stories. He told my mother that he had been treated very well in the military and that the Germans were a civilized people.

 For my mother, this was not simply a cautionary tale, but simultaneously a story about how her father, even in the ghetto, had not given up hope in others’ humanity. For me, it is a reminder that, sometimes, holding on to long is the greater threat. My grandfather, my grandmother, my aunt and two uncles died in Auschwitz as a direct result of the hatred of the foreigner, stoked by Hitler’s playbook.

 So when Trump stokes ethnic hatred by painting an immigrant ethnic group as criminals, rapists, and drug dealers (in much the same way that Nazi propaganda highlighted Jewish crimes); creates a special Office on Victims of Immigrant Crimes; and calls for a weekly report to “make public a comprehensive list of criminal actions committed by aliens,” it does not feel like a leap to harken back to Hitler’s creation of a special Office of Racial Policy, and the order from Hitler’s Minister of Justice that called on prosecutors to “forward a copy of every [criminal] indictment against a Jew to the ministry’s press division.”

 I play my language game very seriously because, as a Jew, I know that when one group is targeted, we must see all groups as targeted. As a Jew, I know that when bystanders ignore one outrage and then another and another, they become complicit and less likely to protest as time goes on. As a Jew, I know better than to confuse my current privilege with safety. And as a Jew, I know that when they come for the aliens, the Muslims, the Mexicans, when they come for the [fill in the blank], they come for me.

  Originally published on the Huffington Post, 04/09/2017 06:16 pm ET.

Steven Reisner is a psychoanalyst and founding member of the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology and adviser on ethics and psychology for Physicians for Human Rights.

Posted in Armed conflict, Children and war, Donald Trump, Genocide, Media, militarization, politics, Propaganda, Protest, racism, resistance, social justice, Terrorism, Understanding violence | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments