February 2018 Archives

Youth Reject a Lockdown Future


Children are in the crosshairs. UNICEF identifies the most dangerous places for children--schools in war-torn areas of the globe--with stories of brutality incomprehensible to most Americans. In the scarce schools available, those students face exploitation as human shields and cannon fodder. And while US schools are relatively free of bloody confrontation, an appalling new threat is emerging: teachers trained to shoot students.

Students are 'fed up' going to school scared for their lives and demand a ban on domestic military grade weapons. The AR-15 rifle used to spray bullets inside and outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in last week's massacre has no legitimate use in any community, said junior Ashley Santoro: "There's no real reason for anybody to own these."  

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"He [Nikolas Cruz] was a very good shot," said Aaron Diener, member of the same Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) marksmanship team as the gunman in the Parkland, Florida, shooting, supported by a grant from the National Rifle Association (NRA). "He had an AR-15 he talked about... He would tell us, 'Oh, it was so fun to shoot this rifle' or 'It was so fun to shoot that.' It seemed almost therapeutic to him, the way he spoke." 

The Buckeye Firearms Foundation fund offers so-called "Faster" programs, three-day training sessions for teachers from around the country. In addition to target practice, one day of the training is devoted to "mindset development." Trainees are asked to "close their eyes and imagine the student entering the classroom with a gun" and then are taught how to find the necessary "grit" to kill that student.

"If this isn't the end of civilization, I don't know what is," wrote The Nation columnist Patricia Williams. "Unless we wrap our bodies perpetually in Kevlar and travel in bomb-resistant tanks," the problem remains: there are simply too many guns in circulation.                   

"Gun reform is no substitute for real justice and the necessary abolition of a death-dealing and cruel economic and political system that is the antithesis of democracy," says McMaster University professor Henry Giroux. "There is no defense for putting the policies of the NRA ahead of the lives of children." 

"We are still in the early stages of an authoritarian regime change," warns Salon writer Chauncey Devega. "We still have an aspiring authoritarian leader. Many people have gotten to the point where I was a year ago, which is recognizing that this situation is uncertain and the outcome depends upon us. Matters are not hopeless but they are dire. The stakes are very high."

23130615_383701095403270_6232484761537580188_n.jpgIn his 2017 book On Tyranny, Yale historian Timothy Snyder gave the American people one year to stop Donald Trump from shredding traditional democratic rights. Without speculating on a national emergency (like Nazi Germany's "Reichstag fire") staged in order to consolidate power, we can safely predict an upsurge in governmental repression and control in response to the resistance we've mustered to date. "I think what people have done in the last year has made a tremendous difference," says Snyder. "Things are bad and they're going to get worse before they get better, but if it weren't for the marches, local activists, lawyers defending people's civil rights, citizens calling their representatives and investigative journalists doing their jobs, things could be a lot worse than they are." But "if we all get tired and say we can't do it anymore, then things will go south very quickly."

Chauncey DeVega concludes that Americans must react better than the Germans did in 1933. He is surprised at the lack of realization that a mainstream (Republican) party "is allowing something extraordinary to happen in America. But after a while there will not be mainstream parties anymore. The analogies are clearly there."

There was enough of a base for Hitler to stay in power, roughly the same size of Trump's following, roughly a third of the population. But "it's not a situation where if Donald Trump has 25 percent of the public, we are safe, and if he has 35 percent, we are doomed," adds DeVega. "The ways Americans interact with each other as members of a shared community" will demonstrate our determination to refuse to accept a fascist America.  

The Changing Nature of Tyranny


Whether Trump/Pence is a direct replica of the Nazi regime has little relevance compared to the serious challenges he poses, argues Henry Giroux at Truthout. When people with power and influence remain silent in the face of "lies and ruthless polices" of the Trump administration, they sanction state violence characteristic of authoritarian regimes: racial cleansing, unchecked militarism and class warfare. "The first casualty of the Trump era is truth, the second is moral responsibility, the third is any vestige of justice, and the fourth is a massive increase in human misery and suffering for millions."

Trump is an ominous threat to democracy and lives, observes Masha Gessen, staff writer at The New Yorker. "Merely mitigating the damage done by the endlessly ascendant anti-immigrant right" just doesn't cut it. She frames the issue of immigration in moral rather than economic terms (that immigrants are good people who benefit the economy). Gessen's approach would address "American responsibility in a world in which tens of millions of people have been displaced by war, famine, and violence...

"This would mean talking not only about the Haitian or Salvadoran refugees who are being deported from the United States but also about the hundreds of thousands of Syrian and Yemeni refugees who have no hope of entering the one country in the world best situated to give them shelter. It may address the future of a planet that is slowly becoming unsuitable for human habitation, and the American responsibility to those who lose their homes as a result. It may even question the premise that the dumb luck of having been born in the United States gives a group of people the right to decide who may enter the premises."

British historian Richard Evans notes that there is more than one way to destroy a democracy (sending troops into the streets, storming radio stations, and arresting politicians). "Even if Hitler wasn't directly elected to power, his appointment as Reich chancellor was legal and constitutional." Donald Trump's intent to shred political and social norms  was clear from the start -- "In the first weeks of the Trump/Pence regime they have begun subverting the separation of powers, the separation of Church and State," reads the RefuseFascism.org Call to Action:

"..[they] called for a new nuclear arms race, demonized the press, dismissed the very concept of truth substituting their own fabricated 'alternative facts'.  It can already be said of Trump/Pence that 'first they came for' the Muslims, then the Mexicans, then all refugees, then women, then Black and Latino people, LGBTQ persons, the environment, and anyone who doesn't conform or submit to their vision and plan for a nation cohered around white supremacy and a political form of Christian fundamentalism, that should rightly be called Christian Fascism."

z.jpgToday fascist and neo-fascist movements are on the upswing, warns social studies educator Alan Singer. To those who profess fascism "can't happen here," he reminds us that the domestic threat to the United States prior to World War II was all too real: on February 20, 1939, an estimated 22,000 American fascists held a "pro-German, pro-Nazi rally" in New York City's Madison Square Garden. Photographer John Gutmann recorded an even earlier assembly at San Francisco City Hall in 1935 (photo). Similar rallies occurred across the country.

During World War II the United States War Department issued a memorandum called "Fascism!" which declared "Fascism is not the easiest thing to identify and analyze; nor, once in power, is it easy to destroy. It is important for our future and that of the world that as many of us as possible understand the causes and practices of fascism, in order to combat it."

"What makes it possible for someone like Trump to attain power and hold it is the acquiescence of people, both voters and politicians, who aren't white supremacists, who sort-of kind-of believe in the rule of law, but are willing to go along with racists and lawbreakers if it seems to serve their interests," wrote New York Times columnist Paul Krugman in an opinion piece on the conviction (and subsequent pardon by the President) of white supremacist sheriff Joe Arpaio.

The authoritarian policies we currently suffer aren't static; Fascism advances in stages. Accommodation, conciliation, even collaboration serve to normalize the crimes against humanity perpetrated in our name. "Even as the Trump/Pence Regime is moving fast, they have not yet fully consolidated their regime, or, as yet, been able to implement their full program," says RefuseFascism.org. "But, this is their objective and it is very possible. It might only take a single serious crisis -- international or domestic -- for this regime to drop the hammer. We do not have much time."

Donate here to strengthen the movement to Drive Out the Trump/Pence Regime! 

No, It's Not You


Things really are as bad as they seem. Donald Trump's "lock-down" disposition infects everybody with terrors real and imagined. In the name of "safety" his regime dismantles political and social norms with catastrophic consequence to humanity and the planet. 

Americans are being trained to be afraid, blogs W.J. Astore. "We're told 'to shelter in place', to huddle scared like so many rabbits, until the proper 'locked and loaded' authorities are deployed with their SWAT teams and armored cars."

From Kabul to Edgerton, Ohio, children are in the crosshairs. Unicef identifies the most dangerous places for children--schools in war-torn areas of the globe--with stories of brutality incomprehensible to most Americans. Even where schools are available (a third of Afghan students--3.7 million-- lack that opportunity), students face exploitation as human shields and cannon fodder. And while U.S. schools are relatively free of bloody confrontation, an appalling new threat is emerging that contradicts the inalienable right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness": teachers are being trained to shoot their students. "If this isn't the end of civilization, I don't know what is," says the author of that report.    

"Guantanamo represents the final failure of the American dream," notes psychologist Jeffrey Kaye. "The U.S. government has no intention of shutting down that facility. Indeed, it expects that it will drive even more prisoners insane. The construction of a padded cell could be interpreted as a humane gesture to protect seriously mentally ill prisoners intent on self-harm. Or it could be understood as yet another element of a wide-spread and deeply thought-out torture apparatus. The history of Guantanamo argues strongly for the latter."

The Miami Herald video journalist José Iglesias takes us inside a communal cell block for low-value detainees just days after President Trump signed an executive order formally rescinding his predecessor's closure order. 

U.S. immigrants are the first to suffer a "show me your papers" society.  Donald Trump's attempt to "ferret out and cleanse the country of illegal immigrants" with warrantless search and interrogation defies longstanding constitutional safeguards and must be stopped in its tracks.  

Rutherford Institute president John W. Whitehead warns that "such tactics quickly lead one down a slippery slope that ends with government agents empowered to subject anyone--citizen and noncitizen alike--to increasingly intrusive demands."

"We are witnessing the racialization and assertion of naked white supremacy by this anti-immigrant program, referring to Black and Brown nations as 'shitholes'," conclude RefuseFascism organizers. "What are we going to do about it?" Join them this coming Sunday for a panel discussion of the necessity and possibilties for resistance. Community forum: Stop the attacks on immigrants!  

This Nightmare Must End: The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go!

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This page is an archive of entries from February 2018 listed from newest to oldest.

January 2018 is the previous archive.

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