Right Now -- Resist, Rethink, Recreate

Now, this very week, it is possible to Resist much closer to home. Congress is in recess this week, and it is possible to show up at our elected officials’ events, town halls, and other public appearances to demand answers to questions like whether our own members of Congress will pledge to protect and improve our health care, to protect the religious freedom of Muslims and to meet the human needs of immigrants.

Resistance is not only about the “content” of political demands, but about the “style” of holding officials accountable. If CongressMembers refuse to hold town meetings, we can hold our own with the Congressional chair empty -- to highlight to the public and the media the lawmakers who won't even meet with their constituents. These events are being called “Resistance Recess.”

Click here to find your local Resistance Recess event and RSVP.

So far, the least bold resistance has been defense of the planet that keeps us alive. This is sad, but not surprising. Health care for the sick, religious freedom, the human needs of immigrants and refugees can all be portrayed in human-interest stories, videos, photos. Despite multiplying hyper-droughts and hyper-floods, the connection between planetary scorching and human disaster is harder to see and feel. Yet it remains the Big Story of survival.

So on April 29, we intend to bring together in Washington DC and in support cities around the country a People's Climate March and Movement. I urge you, The Shalom Center ‘s members and readers, to join in that effort.

For many Jews and Jewish organizations, the fact that April 29 is Shabbat makes participation difficult. Plans are under way for a multi-religious prayer service like the one that led the 400,000-person People’s Climate March in New York City in 2014. And in some Jewish communities, there are plans for local Shabbat gatherings in support of the Washington March.

You can get fuller information here as the plans unfold, and you can register to receive bulletins by clicking here www.peoplesclimate.org/?source=theshalomcenter

2)  RETHINK

We need to rethink the assumptions of what American democracy means. Rethinking is necessary because the Trump-Pence-Bannon coalition is right about one thing –-- right enough to win an election under the Constitutional rules even while vastly losing the popular vote.  They are right that for important parts of American society, the globalization model in economics and culture is not working.

Even if they had barely lost instead of barely winning the recent election, American society would have had to keep living with a painful ulcer of fear and rage. That ulcer would have kept us paralyzed. If as a nation we had ignored it, we would have continued to be unable to heal our society as a whole while the ulcer grew and worsened.

Unable, as Dr. King warned, to conquer the triplets of Racism, Militarism, and Materialism.

And this is not only a politically profound issue, it is a spiritually profound challenge. Are those who voted for Trump not still our neighbors, deserving of our open ears and hearts, our striving to understand their legitimate needs and to craft both human connections and policy responses? This too is a question that Dr. King faced in his own day and calls on us to face.

The Trumpist answer to this crisis is even more domination, more top-down control, more repression of those energies that are refusing to keep living passively in situations that are abusive and oppressive. That is an anti-democratic, anti-human, anti-web-of-life response; but the status quo is not viable. So we need to rethink what democracy must mean in our generation.

We need to rethink the relationship between the “old America” that now feels cast out economically, culturally, and spiritually –- and the New America which thinks it is the wave of the future but feels disempowered in the present. Is it inevitable that both kinds of the “left-outs” are hostile to each other, or can we reach beyond the present barricades? 

We need to rethink our top-down political parties, the power of Hyper-Wealth over our elections, the precariousness of our voting rights, including the built-in blockages against democratic decision-making.

We need to reexamine the nature of coalitions between groups of people and organizations that may share some agendas but disagree on others.

We need to rethink the roles of neighborhoods, urban and rural, in giving life to democracy.

We need to rethink the nature of jobs, work, and income in our increasingly computerized and robot-enabled society.

We need to rethink how we think –- the processes of education, culture, media old and new
We need to rethink even religion. Already, the proliferation of “interfaith” and “multireligious” prayer services challenges the very foundations of what the Abrahamic traditions thought Truth was for most of the last two thousand years. It has happened before in history –- under the tyranny of the Roman Empire and the tyranny of Pharaoh, for example --  that an overweening exercise of tyrannical power that shattered old forms of community has led through times of tumult to the birth of new forms of sacred community. Could that be happening now?

By Rabbi Arthur Waskow for The Shalom Center – We are facing a government that is beginning the process of shattering democracy and devastating the Earth, elevating what Martin Luther King defined as the deadly triplets of Racism, Militarism, and Materialism into the domineering reality of our lives. That government is trying to make it become the new normal that our lives will be fearful, consumed by fake news and “alternative facts,” struggling to deal with worsening economic pressures and worsening ecological disasters, even life-spans shorter in years. Three different sorts of energy have been stirred into a devil’s brew to fuel this anti-democratic political machine. They have three specific people as their embodiments: First, a Leader – a Bully — with a strong personal streak of narcissism, cruelty, and vindictiveness: Mr. Trump. What he brings to the amalgam is a “populism” that is not about policy but about an emotional connection with people who are angry enough to break the rules of decorum –- and welcome a leader who does break them.

Protesters Vs. State Repression: Challenging Ruling Class Nationalism

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By Pierre Tristam for Flagler Live. for We surround ourselves with like-minded media, like-minded friends, like-minded believers and scream heresy at anything that transgresses our little world. We’re a nation of intellectual cowards, uncurious but for the reaffirming dogmas we know best. There’s so much of what we’re comfortable with anyway (every pretend marketplace of our own making is intellectual sugar), it’s easier to skip doubt. Making the effort to transgress is itself heresy. It’s what makes it so easy to live in alternate realities, and so dangerous: we’ve cozied up to extremes in our own way of looking at the world, and are now surprised that extremists are in charge. No wonder we look at protesters as the worst of heretics. But they may well be the last patriots. Freedom for the thought we agree with is as cheap as a Facebook click on the “like” button. “Freedom for the thought that we hate,” to quote Justice Holmes’s phrase—now that’s what separates Americans from thuggery.

The Did-You-Talk-to-Russians Witch Hunt

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By Robert Parry for Consortium News – Exclusive: Democrats, liberals and media pundits – in their rush to take down President Trump – are pushing a New McCarthyism aimed at Americans who have talked to Russians, risking a new witch hunt, reports Robert Parry. In the anti-Russian frenzy sweeping American politics and media, Democrats, liberals and mainstream pundits are calling for an investigative body that could become a new kind of House Un-American Activities Committee to hunt down Americans who have communicated with Russians. The proposed commission would have broad subpoena powers to investigate alleged connections between Trump’s supporters and the Russian government with the apparent goal of asking if they now have or have ever talked to a Russian who might have some tie to the Kremlin or its intelligence agencies.

Opponents Of Atlantic Coast Pipeline: “Nobody Is Saying What’s Happening…

An elder with the Lumbee Tribe speaks at a rally last fall in Pembroke. The ACP would cross tribal lands and run just two miles from UNC-Pembroke in Robeson County. (Photo: Lisa Sorg)

By Lisa Sorg for NC Policy Watch – This is the first of a two-part story about the potential impacts of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline on people and the environment. The second story, dealing with the environmental ramifications, will run Monday. Belinda Joyner rode shotgun and stared out the window at the fertile farm fields ripening with cotton. She pointed to the tidy brick ranch houses and modest modular homes that flanked U.S. 301 north of Garysburg: “African-American. African-American. African-American.” We headed north about five miles to Pleasant Hill, near the Virginia border. Past the State Line Lottery and the Georgia-Pacific wood products plant, we crossed the railroad and pull onto Forest Road. Soon it turned to dirt. “Somewhere back there,” Joyner said, sweeping her hand toward a thicket of trees. “That’s where they’ll put it.”

Construction Near Standing Rock Restarts, Pipeline Fights Flare Across U.S.

Mark Ovaska/Redux

By Alleen Brown for The Intercept – UNDER ORDERS FROM President Donald Trump, the Army Corps of Engineers on February 7 approved a final easement allowing Energy Transfer Partners to drill under the Missouri River near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota. Construction has restarted, and lawyers for the company say it could take as little as 30 days for oil to flow through the Dakota Access pipeline. While the Standing Rock Sioux and neighboring tribes attempt to halt the project in court, other opponents of the pipeline have launched what they’re calling a “last stand,” holding protests and disruptive actions across the U.S. In North Dakota, where it all began, a few hundred people continue to live at camps on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, using them as bases for prayer and for direct actions to block construction.

US Conducts Show Of Force In South China Sea

Okinawans staged a protest against the planned relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma and advocated for it to be closed instead. Okinawan Gov. Takeshi Onaga will press that case on a visit to Washington. (Hitoshi Maeshiro/European Pressphoto Agency)

By Mike Head for WSWS – Defying warnings from Beijing not to escalate tensions in the South China Sea, the Trump administration last Saturday said a United States aircraft carrier strike group had begun “routine” patrols in the strategic waterway. According to a US Navy statement, the guided-missile destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyer is joining the 97,000-ton Carl Vinson along with aircraft from Carrier Air Wing for the operations. The Carl Vinson carries a flight group of more than 60 aircraft, including F/A-18 jet fighters, as well as a crew of 7,500. This is not the first such mission. The Obama administration also ordered US aircraft carrier operations in the South China Sea as part of its “pivot to Asia” to confront China’s rising influence. Almost a year ago, the USS John C. Stennis led another “routine” cruise through the area.

Clash Over Bayou Bridge Pipeline Ratchets Up After Louisiana Pipeline Explosion

Opponents of the Bayou Bridge pipeline walk toward the entrance of Louisiana DNR’s permit hearing on February 8.

By Julie Dermansky for Desmog Blog – Two permits are required for construction of the Bayou Bridge pipeline, which has been proposed by Energy Transfer Partners in conjunction with Phillips 66 and Sunoco Logistics. One is from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the DEQ, which must sign off on water quality impacts. The second is from the DNR for the project’s last 16 miles of pipeline, which require special attention under the state’s Coastal Zone program. If built, the163-mile-long pipeline would stretch across south Louisiana from Lake Charles through the Atchafalaya Basin to St. James, a community on the Mississippi River. It would link Louisiana refineries to a major oil-and-gas hub in Texas and connect to larger pipelines throughout North America. The project would be the tail end of Energy Transfer’s Dakota Access pipeline, carrying oil fracked in North Dakota to Louisiana.

James Baldwin And The Meaning Of Whiteness

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By Chris Hedges for Truth Dig – Peck’s “I Am Not Your Negro” is one of the finest documentaries I have ever seen—I would have stayed in the theater in New York to see the film again if the next showing had not been sold out. The newly released film powerfully illustrates, through James Baldwin’s prophetic work, that the insanity now gripping the United States is an inevitable consequence of white Americans’ steadfast failure to confront where they came from, who they are and the lies and myths they use to mask past and present crimes. Baldwin’s only equal as a 20th century essayist is George Orwell. If you have not read Baldwin you probably do not fully understand America. Especially now. History “is not the past,” the film quotes Baldwin as saying. “History is the present. We carry our history with us. To think otherwise is criminal.”

75th Anniversary Of Imprisonment Of Japanese: Anti-Immigrants Long Roots

Oakland, Calif., Mar. 1942. A large sign reading "I am an American" placed in the window of a store on December 8, the day after Pearl Harbor. The store was eventually closed after the issuance of E.O. 9066. (Photo: Dorothea Lange)

By Dorothy M. Ehrlich for ACLU – Seventy-five years ago, in one of the darkest moments in American history, President Franklin Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066. Immediately, the federal government began forcing 110,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry into concentration camps for fear they posed a threat to national security. For many years, we have recognized the infamous date of the order, February 19, 1942, with a “Day of Remembrance” at ceremonies throughout the nation designed to ensure that this indelible stain on our democracy is never forgotten. It is ordinarily a solemn occasion and a day of reflection. But on this day, the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066, our current anti-Muslim crisis sounds a chilling echo of that earlier injustice, which must not be ignored. This year we are called to transform our quiet reflection into a fierce resistance.

The Struggle To Decolonize

From decolonizingsolidarity.blogspot.com

By Staff of Renaissance – The system we live in (or under) is founded on exploitation and practices it in nearly all of its endeavors. The system forms a binary, a dichotomy wherein one is either an exploiter or one is exploited. Put another way, one is either the oppressor or the oppressed. Much of our understanding, false though it is, begins with our education that is more correctly an indoctrination. Even the style of education within this system presupposes hierarchical structure of dominance in what Paulo Freire termed the “Banking System” of education in the Pedagogy of the Oppressed, wherein communiques are merely deposited into students who are presupposed to be ignorant, and thus, inferior. The students in order to succeed must concede and adapt to this position of inferiority thereby solidify the exploiter-exploited relationship and contradiction.

President’s Day, Masses Say Of Donald Trump: ‘Not My President’

"We do not accept Donald Trump as our president because he does not represent us." (Photo: @ImpeachTrump/Twitter)

By Deirdre Fulton for Common Dreams – “While we acknowledge that Donald Trump holds the current title, the policies he’s trying to put in place are not the beliefs shared by the majority of the people.” From coast to coast and many places in between, thousands of people are marking the occasion of President’s Day by voicing their opposition to the policies of their current president, Donald Trump. Major “Not My President’s Day” anti-Trump rallies are taking place Monday in New York City, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and Chicago, while at least two dozen offshoot events are planned for other locations around the United States. “Donald Trump stands against the progress we have worked hard to enact,” the organizers of the Los Angeles event wrote in their call-to-action.

Norway Steps In To Replace US & Ensure Funding For Global Abortions

My Uterus Is Mine By
Favianna Rodriguez. From CreativeResistance.org

By Staff of Norwegian Government – ‘Norway plays a leading role in the work to promote global health, and is one of the largest donors to gender equality and women’s health efforts. The Government is increasing its support for family planning and safe abortion by NOK 85 million compared with 2016. We will continue to be a driving force for women’s health internationally. At a time when this agenda has come under pressure, a joint effort is particularly important,’ said Prime Minister Erna Solberg. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 47 000 women die, and nearly 7 million need medical treatment every year, as a result of unsafe abortions. More than 225 million women would like to have access to contraception, but do not have access today.

We Spend TRILLIONS To Make Sure We Die Soon (Seriously)!

Jonny White/flickr/CC

By Staff of Popular Resistance – There’s a reason we ended up with ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State and we ALMOST ended up with a Labor Secretary in Andy Puzder who prefers robots to humans. The answer is simple: We, the taxpayer, have always subsidized the costs of corporations to slowly kill us while making the pockets of corporate CEOs fatter. A closer look at fast food production in this country shows exactly that. Animal agriculture industries, such as factory farming, that contribute to us eating those artery clogging cheeseburgers come at the added expense of increased water and air pollution. We are paying the price for this environmental destruction literally and figuratively.

Hundreds Rally For Science At Demonstration Near AAAS Meeting

Boston’s Copley Square fills with people during the Rally to Stand Up for Science.
Sarah McQuate

By Lindzi Wessel for Science -BOSTON–Hundreds of science supporters gathered here in Copley Square this afternoon at a rally coinciding with the annual meeting of AAAS, which publishes Science. Ralliers chose the meeting—the first major gathering of scientists since Trump took office—as an opportune moment to demonstrate that the science community plans to fight recent policies that many see as dangerous to the role of science in society. “We scientists want to send a message to Mr. Trump, and that’s that America runs on science,” Geoffrey Supran, a postdoctoral fellow studying energy modeling at MIT and science history at Harvard, tells Science. “Neither scientists nor citizens are going to stand idly by while the administration peddles anti-science rhetoric and alternative facts.”

Urgent! Block Trump’s Fracked Gas Pipelines

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By Staff of Catskill Citizens – President Donald Trump has already made it clear that he intends to trash climate change agreements and give the fossil fuel industry exactly what it wants. But the pipeline projects being pushed by the Trump Administration cannot move forward unless they are first approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission—and FERC can’t operate without a quorum. The five-member commission has been operating with only three members, and today it lost another one. With just two members left, it won’t be able to approve any more infrastructure projects until at least one new commissioner is seated—and the Senate has the ability to block Trump’s FERC appointments. The inability of FERC to do business actually counts as a step forward because for years the commission has been little more than a captive agency of the oil and gas industry, routinely greenlighting infrastructure projects with little regard for public safety.