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.

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4 Responses to The new brunch

  1. LB says:

    Tragically, the “wonderful signs” the author refers to ~part of a larger campaign using McCarthyesque tactics to further claims of Russian election interference and collusion between Trump and Putin~ have been very successful in pressuring Trump to prove his ‘loyalty’ by falling in line with establishment Republicans and Democrats in their anti-Russia rhetoric, efforts to provoke and wage war, drop bigger bombs, interfere in more countries, destroy more lives.

    • Deborah Belle says:

      This reader makes an important point that there are serious dangers in arousing concern about Russian interference in our election. The last thing we would want is for Trump to feel compelled to attack Russia to prove his own lack of collusion with Russia. On the other hand, we do need to know Trump’s financial holdings and entanglements, to determine when he may be acting in his own self-interest rather than that of this country. We need him to release his tax returns, which he has adamantly refused to do.

      • LB says:

        Thanks for your response, Deborah. Unfortunately, the president has already succumbed to pressures coming from both ‘sides’, by dropping bombs in Syria and Afghanistan. The bomb dropped on Afghanistan was the largest non-nuclear weapon ever used. The bombing of Syria was generally supported by the media, as well as by many Democrats and Republicans.

        In the case of Syria, our actions have resulted in the recent deaths and displacement of hundreds of innocent civilians (many of them children), at the hands of anti-Assad “rebel” forces. Since the facts don’t fit the narrative being presented by our government and powers-that-be, the true scope of the devastation isn’t being covered by the mainstream media.

        Journalist Robert Fisk had this to say:

        ” . . . this latest massacre of the innocents wasn’t quite worth the same amount of tears and fury that the early massacre had produced. It fact it wasn’t worth a single tear. For the 126 Syrians – almost all of them civilians – who have just been killed outside Aleppo, were Shia Muslims being evacuated from two government-held (ie Bashar-held) villages in the north of Syria. And their killer was obviously from al-Nusra (al-Qaeda) or one of the Sunni “rebel” groups we in the West have armed – or quite possibly from Isis itself – and thus didn’t qualify for our sorrow.”

        Ironically, Russian TV (RT) is one of the few stations providing film coverage of these latest terrible events:

        Using violence to combat violence only results in more violence, more suffering, more innocent deaths, more Muslim refugees, more terrorism:

        For many (not all), the focus on Trump’s tax returns seems to have effectively diverted attention away from other, more pressing issues, including the suffering and death caused by our government and its weapons of war.

        And as you said, the very real threat of escalating tensions with Russia is another.

  2. Deborah Belle says:

    These are important points. I do think tax transparency is important as well, however, and I like the fact that people are arguing now that we cannot have tax reform (to alleviate taxes on billionaires, undoubtedly), until we know how these “reforms” will affect Trump. Also, I doubt it is the focus on his taxes that has led to his aggressive acts. He was always going to behave this way, since he is a bully and since this is the tried and true American way to bolster ratings when people are unhappy about other things. Going forward I wonder how we can avoid playing into the hands of militarists while still insisting on forms of transparency (not only taxes, but logs of visitors to the White House and to Mar a Lago that are really essential for something like a democracy to function.

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