From the November-December 2016 issue of News & Letters
ELECTION STIRS BATTLES IN THOUGHT AND IN LIFE
As a Lesbian, a woman, an American citizen, there is no unifying behind this president-elect. He plans to dismantle my constitutional right to marry the person I love. He plans to dismantle my reproductive rights to my own body. He has demonized my fellow American-Muslim, Latino, and African-American citizens and has empowered the racist and narrow-minded who walk among us. They can be your doctor, your cousin, your dentist, your father. They are scared of supposedly losing their special privileges and have chosen a president-elect bent on dividing this country. Trump supporters have blood on your hands and have been conned by a narcissistic tyrant. You have not chosen unity and have abandoned me once again. You have picked a fight with me once again. Don’t be surprised when I show up to defend myself.
Establishment parties and media focused too much on Trump the personality, at the dire expense of any real discussion of issues. The pain and suffering endured by the working class of the U.S. (and beyond) trumps all the rest of the lies diligently exposed by reporters that Trump has been caught mouthing. Left or right, everyone now loves to talk about “revolution.” But what kind of revolution? The election may be over, but the battle of ideas has only just begun.
The antagonisms that have appeared have been there a long time. Liberals and leftists have generally ignored, or written off, a huge sector of the population in the U.S. What appears on the surface as a sort of nihilism is actually a sense of desperation, of nothing left to lose. In California a Proposition to end the death penalty was defeated by a wide margin, and one to hasten its execution also passed by a large majority. That concerns me.
Here in Mexico there has been much interest and worry about a Trump presidency. For weeks before the election, and now even more so after, people have come up to me asking about the possibility, and now reality, of Trump winning. There have as well been a few demonstrations in Mexico City protesting Trump. So many have family and friends without papers in the U.S. and Trump’s racist comments about Mexicans who have crossed the border have become an urgent concrete threat to their lives.
Was the election rigged? Sure! Disenfranchisement occurs when people move and can’t find out their polling location. When they can’t read legalese proposals. When people without ID aren’t told they can sign an affidavit and vote. When they serve some time in prison. When working people can’t get to the polls or are too tired, or have to pick up children or care for a sick relative. Or when people are homeless. Disenfranchisement and voter suppression are endemic in capitalist USA.
Susan Van Gelder
President Bill Clinton’s administration pushed for the massive prison-building and exploding incarceration rate in the 1990s, creating a huge population of felons and ex-felons who cannot vote in many states. Many of them would have voted for Clinton in this election.
The Faith, Life and Hope Mission in West Chicago has people in sanctuary and many pending cases of immigration. We will be fighting for their rights and will not to be intimidated by threats. In the wake of Donald Trump’s election, we will be announcing a series of activities to continue fighting deportations and continue to maintain our sanctuaries to protect our communities from deportations. We will also be demanding a halt to deportation for our brothers Lorenzo Solórzano and Juan Vera.
Bernie Sanders was the first person in national political life in the U.S. since the 1930s and 1940s to openly use words like “socialist” in positive contexts. Considerable numbers of people had no problems with his efforts, thus putting the big lie to all the secret “socialists” and secret “communists” of several generations. What did Marx say about acting in our own right, and in our own name, and for ourselves?
Though both Clinton and Trump are oppressors, Trump is the most extreme. Hillary is supported by Wall Street and Goldman Sachs, contributors to capitalist exploitation and oppression the world over, but she does have policies influenced by Bernie Sanders and a background in helping poor people. Trump’s policies are racist, sexist, Islamophobic and homophobic. His biggest supporters are people like that racist bigot of a coward David Duke. His VP Mike Pence is a disgusting epitome of ultra-extreme racism and homophobia. Could this country get any more disastrous? Look at the senseless killing of unarmed Black men by racist pig-cops. We are not going to keep accepting oppression without struggle or resistance.
DEEP RACISM IN THE USA
I took my kids with me to Mississippi to get furniture that was posted online. We ended up at a house with a giant Confederate flag on the garage and a man on the porch with a prominently placed swastika tattoo. A woman came out and offered to have her husband load the furniture into my van. Then she looked at my children. She said that I had beautiful children, and that she could tell they were Native American. I thanked her but told her they are Mexican. She looked over her shoulder at her husband and then back to me. She said very firmly “No, they are Native American.” I immediately understood. She asked her husband to go inside and check something on the stove. She helped me load the furniture and then I left. I reassured my 10-year-old daughter that men like him are a dying breed. Today I’m not so sure.
I keep seeing statements from the Left that lean toward a “revolt of the underclass” interpretation of Trump’s election, as with Brexit. As if all those Black women, who voted almost unanimously against Trump, Black men, Latinos, majority of workers, or LGBTs, did so because they were out-of-touch elites. I feel a burning hatred for this idea that Trump voters are working-class people who must be “understood” as misplacing their protest against their sufferings under capitalism into support for racism and misogyny. That is the opposite to my experience of working-class existence. It’s a denial of the history that my mother lived out, defending the right of Black women to work as telephone operators. It’s a denial of the experience of myself and others in opposing the dominant racism of our largely working-class neighborhood. It’s already a surrender of one’s ground to fascism. I don’t have to understand the “concerns” of the Confederacy, the KKK or the Nazis. Or Marine Le Pen, or Vladimir Putin, or Bashar al-Assad, or…right down to those Trump-touting idiots who spit on everything I respect or value, in lieu of the beatings they’d love to get down to presently.
Long live President Trump. All you commies can go to hell. Trump is going to do to the Muslims what Hitler did to the Jews. President Trump is going to cleanse the USA of all the filth.
Hate crimes against Muslims have gone up sharply after Trump winning the election. It is increasingly alarming that there have been multiple incidents reported at colleges and schools. A teacher in Georgia was removed from class after allegedly going on a racist tirade against undocumented immigrants. At a Wake County public meeting, I brought up that the school board has to do more in training teachers and it is their responsibility to provide safety and security for students.
Wake County, N.C.
On Nov. 5, a funeral procession of Black people going through the Mt. Greenwood neighborhood of Chicago was disrupted by whites. An off-duty Chicago police officer shot at 25-year-old Joshua Beal through the window of a car, ran up to the car and continued to fire on Beal. Cops did little to protect the grieving family, who waited hours for cops to release their cars, when a white man came up wielding a bat and shouting expletives. A large crowd of white people shouted, “CPD,” “Blue Lives Matter,” and “N—–s, go home.” We support Joshua Beal’s family during this tragic time, their demand for the police to immediately release Joshua’s brother Michael, and their demand to file murder charges against all Chicago police officers involved in the killing of Joshua Beal.
People’s Response Team supporter
WOMEN FIGHT BACK
While I admire Colin Kaepernick, it’s important to know that women came first. In 1973 the all-Black cheerleading squad at Brown University stayed seated for the National Anthem before a basketball game in Providence, R.I. The Providence City Council censured the squad. Surprisingly, the University’s president defended them.
Pence, Ryan, Cruz, etc. are no better than Trump. They objectify and control women and our bodies. Forced pregnancy is rape and ideas and laws that enforce traditional gender roles are objectification. Makeup or veil, no difference. I’m disgusted that the Republican establishment pretends to be shocked and different—as if we all didn’t know this is how Trump behaves, abusing women in his personal life. But remember, women’s lives are just a distraction from the “real” issues.
Some of the most important things in the article on the N&L website, “Chicago solidarity action with Native resistance to oil pipeline in North Dakota,” are how the protesters talk about environmental justice/racism. While they feel the effects first, they know it affects everyone, so in their struggle to protect themselves, they’re struggling to protect everyone and the earth.
Standing Rock backer
On Sept. 17, a coalition of American Indians marched in South Central Los Angeles calling for Leonard Peltier to be freed. He has been incarcerated for 41 years for aiding and abetting the killing of two FBI agents on the Pine Ridge Reservation in North Dakota. At City Hall we were met by anti-TPP and anti-prison activists, the Brown Berets, Aztec dancers, Mexican youth performing hip-hop poems, and talks by Indigenous activists including Crow Ghost, who brought up the peaceful protestors at Standing Rock North Dakota. G.Z. Sedeki, activist, ex-prisoner, ex-Black Panther, said, “I have been to Standing Rock. It’s an honor to show our solidarity and unity.” He concluded, “Write to Leonard, it makes a difference in his spirit: Leonard Peltier, #89637-132, USP Coleman I, PO Box 1033, Colman, Florida 33521.”
So nice to read “Syrian Revolution: humanity on trial” (Sept.-Oct. N&L). It was something other than the either/or thinking that seems to rule the thinking of the right, middle and much of the left. What the article says about how we are trained by catch-phrases to view Syrians as simply The Enemy in such a way that we collude in the murder of innocents, reminds me of the ways cults hold intellectual and psychological power over their members by making sure they all participate directly and indirectly in crimes and by making sure their dependence on the cult leadership is stronger than their criticism of it.
Recently, a wonderful student that I studied with in Malaysia lost family members in the Saudi airstrikes on Yemen. The Saudi and Yemeni communities in Malaysia continue to be close. They play football together, they pray beside each other. They have been incredibly supportive of each other in these tough times. On facebook, we tend to debate about “politics” as if it’s something out “there.” As if it’s separate from our everyday lives. It’s not. In troubling times like this we should wholeheartedly condemn any attack on innocents, and despite our political views, should mourn with each other.
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