We Are Better Than This

Wednesday’s shooting during a practice for the annual Congressional Baseball game was unique not only because it put members of Congress under fire, but that the shooter seemed to espouse anti-Trump and anti-GOP ideas.

The first thing that impressed me was the quick response from Senator Bernie Sanders distancing himself and his movement from the shooter.  A far cry from the silence from Trump and the GOP about how their rhetoric may have fueled the Portland stabber.

But, perhaps on the heels of the successes of Anti-Fascist activists at the “Stand Up to Sharia” events, the media is starting to put some focus on the more radical factions of the American Left.

Now there has been an “Insurrectionist Left” for several decades.  I remember the anti-war rallies of the early 2000s conducted by ANSWER that would bring groups calling for the overthrow of American Capitalism.   I count among my allies several self-described anarchists and communists.

But I would still like to think we are better than the Oathkeepers, etc.  We can still put our faith in the electoral system, at least for the moment.  We can rally and phone bank as opposed to arming ourselves for an insurgency.

Now that is not to say that our opponents will play nice.  A recent incident at a Harrisburg, PA equality rally may show that Trump has given the bigoted a sense of power and invulnerability.  This still may mean a change in tactics among the left, including needing to make greater use of Anti-Fascists for protection against both reactionary allies and police that from what I see far too often as protecting the reactionaries than the affected communities.

From Non Violence to Non Aggression

Yesterday, Harrisburg PA joined cities all across the country in the “March For Truth”, the event was a nationwide call for an investigation of the possible ties between Russia and the Trump Campaign and possible foreign entanglements Trump may have.  The event itself went well, especially since it was the first event the organizer staged.

As we were tearing down from the event, a wedding party was on its way into the State Capitol.  The Capitol is a popular place for weddings and other such events, but perhaps drunk with enthusiasm, alcohol, or a little of both, some of the party thought it would be fun to heckle us with chants of “Build the wall”.  A fellow activist and I responded.

Even last year, the wedding party would have likely passed us by without incident.  But Trump’s victory may have made the reactionaries feel a bit more empowered, a bit more bold.  We have seen this in Montana, and most recently in Portland.  My social media streams are full of videos of people of color and other minorities being harassed and worse.

I can’t help but think that perhaps the non-violence model of Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi may not work so well against the current crop of “Deplorables”.  The better model may be the “community defense” model of the original Black Panthers.

I am not saying non-violence is not effective in some circumstances, nor that it need be abandoned.  But what harm would come from activists being trained to defend themselves or another from a threat, be that threat from a fascist, a police officer on an ICE agent.

While what the victims of the Portland stabbing were heroic, I can’t but wonder what, if anything they knew about how to disarm and/or subdue the attacker.  That bit of knowledge may have saved their lives.

 

 

Feeling The Sting?

Trump’s first few months in office have been likened to many things.  One that I have not heard is that he’s like a bear knocking various hives over.  His actions have gone after; women, refugees, especially Muslim refugees, people of color, urban areas, the media, entertainers, and other groups.

His decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Agreements, likely a way to please parts of his rural base of support, added environmentalists to the list.

With all these various groups in various states of anger and outrage, what impact could be had if they could all form one “swarm”; combining resources and activists and tools and tactics.

Alas, as someone who has members of several communities as allies both virtually and in real-time, I see the obstacles to creating such a hive.  Many of these groups do not agree with each other; a “Cult of Machismo” in parts of the African-American and Latino community may make building alliances with the LGBT community  difficult.  Organized labor and environmental groups have long had disagreements.

Rifts can also be tactical, groups that want to take a more direct action approach and those who seek solutions through the political process for example.  I continue to see The Nation reluctant to fully back groups like It’s Going Down or the One People’s Project.

We who are concerned about the planet and its people and creatures, who want to see a fair and just economy, and see all this as possible need to realize we are against a common enemy.  Wouldn’t it be great in November of 2018 to know that in January of 2019 that Congress would be buzzing with good, progressive, Democrats as majority in the US House and Senate.

 

The First to Fall?

Monday, May 29, was Memorial Day.  The day, traditionally the start of Summer, is also a day to remember those who gave their lives in service of our country and it’s ideals.

But the events of May 26, the stabbing of three men, two of which would die from their wounds,  who were trying to protect two Muslim women, makes me realize that America has a long history of ordinary people who gave their lives for the ideals of democracy and justice.  Folks like the untold thousands of native Americans who died fighting for their land and way of life, those who gave their lives on the front lines of struggle for fair wages and the right to organize.  Those who gave their lives in the name of civil rights and those gunned down by American troops in places like Kent State and Jackson State.

Ricky John Best, a 23-year veteran of the Army and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, a recent graduate working as a consultant, may be the first of “The Resistance” to fall in the battle against hatred.

It is a matter now of making sure their deaths are not in vain.

Liberte, Equalite, Sante Mentale

For those of you that have forgotten their French, the title is a turn on the French motto.  It would translate as “Liberty, Equality, Sanity”.

Last Sunday, May 7, the French went to the polls in an election that had echoes of America’s.  We had a centrist running against a nationalist, or fascist.  There were fears of left win apathy helping the radical candidate win, but these were unfounded.  The centrist candidate won a convincing majority.

How did this happen?  To begin with, the French election was a direct one.  There was no Electoral College, the candidate who had the most votes won.  Second, it was on a weekend, people did not have to take off of work, etc to vote.

A third, and perhaps main reason, is that voters in France, perhaps like those in the Netherlands, saw what has happened in the United Kingdom and the United States.  The chaos that has come from the “Brexit” and the resistance Trump has spawned may have convinced French voters to “Hold their noses” and cast votes against the greater evil.

Of course, the French also have experience being under fascist rule, and though most of those who lived under it have passed, they may still have stories passed down.  That or they teach that part of history right.

A Different Sort of “White Privilege”?

Last Sunday, I attended a meeting of Harrisburg’s effort to organize and chapter of Stand Up for Racial Justice, or SURJ.  In my opinion, it’s an attempt to create a satellite group for “Black Lives Matter”.

During the meeting, my attitude towards rural voters was challenged yet again.  This seems to keep happening, especially with the person who was running the meeting.

But it did get me to thinking about “White Privilege”, especially if it’s possible that whites can feel they have a privilege over each other.  Accepting that, in America, being White does bestow privilege is a major step in being an effective ally to people of color, etc.

But might those of us that are White and “woke”, need to accept that we may see ourselves as having a privilege over our more rural, and  less educated counterparts.  The subtitle of this very page may reflect some of this.

Now do I think Pennsylvania is being held back by a perhaps over-represented bloc of; White, rural, less-educated, lower-middle to lower class, male votes?  I do.

But might the younger generation be salvageable, efforts of groups like “Redneck Revolt” would say maybe.  But there may be a short window of opportunity, if these young people aren’t made resistant to “dog whistling”, they will likely become part of the ranks of the deplorable.

 

Recant, Repay, Resist?

OK, this was not a good week for the resistance to Trump. An effort to repeal and replace the ACA, with little scrutiny or review, passed the U.S. House; now this bill may be the first real test for the Senate “Firewall Caucus”, this depends on if Speaker McConnell decides to “Nuke” the Senate again or not.

Also another executive order, giving churches a freer hand to engage in politics, seems to be a way to reward the evangelical Christians who backed his campaign.  These folks obviously forgot the passage about not serving God and Mammon, and ignored Trump’s infidelities, etc.  Hopefully the ACLU, People For the American Way, Americans United for Separation of Church, etc are preparing legal challenges.

There was also the odd tidbit that Hillary Clinton, during a speech, announced she is part of “The Resistance”.  Now we aren’t a club; we don’t have dues, we don’t have a secret handshake, we do have meetings as our individual groups.  But I think Mrs. Clinton could do a few things to prove she is committed to our goals.

One thing she could do is recant comments she and/or her husband made about so-called “Superpredators”, this rhetoric, in reality a “Dog Whistle” term for urban minorities, gave a further license for police to become more and more militarized, and make simply being darker-skinned a crime.  The path from this to “Black Lives Matter” is laid out in the excellent book “The New Jim Crow

Next, she could return the money she took or received from Monsanto, Goldman-Sachs, etc.  These large corporations are the same entitles many of “The Resistance” are resisting.   Relying more on the small donor model that candidates like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have relied on might make her a bit more palpable to those who call themselves “The Resistance”.

A final thing might be to embrace some changes to the primary process.  Support for eliminating “superdelegates”, and opening up primaries at least to independents and Greens, would show that she is committed to getting “The Resistance” from social movement to electoral force.