Resistance Will Require Organizing, Not Symbols

By Marc Cooper (June 28, 2017)

Trump is truly confounding. Unless you understand the core truth about him. His permanent insecurity leads him to seek immediate and instant adulation and that is about it. He has no other “strategy” — in any realm of his life.

Every other president in history, for myriad reasons including the most banal, has tried to expand his electoral base while in office. If for no other reason to help his own re-election efforts.

But six months into this administration it is dead obvious that Trump couldn’t care less. From his own perspective, not to mention that of his putative party of submissive puppies, he is intent only on deepening the commitment to his relatively narrow base of around 30-35% of the electorate. His strategy might make some sense if he had favorable ratings of 50% or so.

That’s not happening. He got a certain amount of soft support from what you might call Yellow Dog Republicans — voters who did not care for him but feel part of the GOP tribe. That 15-20% of the electorate is slowly but steadily ebbing way and I cannot imagine that trend getting reversed.

The only thing Trump and the Republicans have got going for them, electorally, is the utter confusion and lack of leadership in the Democratic Party. I doubt, however, that this will be enough.

I have no idea how the next 18 months will play out let alone the next three years. Yet, I am willing to bet that if Trump makes it to the end of his term (which he probably will) he will get a primary challenger backed by a large portion of the Republican Party including the electeds.

An administration that relies primarily on lying about everything (like saying today nobody will be kicked off Medicare if the Senate bill becomes law) and who has lost the respect of the world (Trumo currently at 22 percent globally) is bound to end up badly. Very badly. Of this I have no doubt. The only interrogative is just how much damage will be done before his carcass is dumped into the dust bin of history.

Meanwhile, those who consider themselves the “resistance” are gonna have to learn that beating him involves ORGANIZING to assert power. Safety pins, marches with no strategic goal, and even FB postings like this all add up to jack.


How the Democratic Party Fatally Damaged Itself by Attacking Public Education

By Mark Naison (June 27, 2017)

Ever since the Clinton Presidency, the Democratic Party has been an advocate of top-down school reforms whose goal has been to make the nation more economically competitive and reduce inequality. Not only have these policies failed to achieve their stated objectives, they have destabilized communities where Democrats have traditionally found support, created widespread distress among teachers and parents, and given credence to the conservative critique of the DP as the province of technocratic elites who impose policies on people without really listening to them

Every Democratic politician who has promoted the following education policies, I would argue, has been complicit in the Party’s decline

1. Promotion of national testing and test based accountability standards for public schools.

2. Closing of schools which are deemed “failing” and removal of their teachers and administrators.

3. Preference for charter schools over public schools, especially in high poverty areas.

4. Support for programs like Teach for America which de-professionalize the teaching profession.

These four principles have been pillars of the Democratic Party’s education policies on a national level, pushed by President Obama and supported by virtually every major Democratic politician in the nation including figures on the left of the Democratic Party such as Elizabeth Warren, Patti Murray and Al Franken.

What have been the results of these policies?:

1. The have inspired a national parents revolt against excessive testing

2. They have produced a sharp decline in teacher morale and inspired the creation of teacher activist groups like Save Our Schools, BATS, and the Network for Public Education

3. They have promoted an mass exodus of the most talented veteran teachers and led to a sharp decline in the percentage of Black teachers in cities like Chicago, New Orleans, Washington DC, San Francisco and Los Angeles, where teacher temps from programs like Teach for America have become the predominant labor force in the newly created charter schools.

4. They have accelerated the gentrification of the nation’s major cities and diluted the political power of working class people, immigrants and people of color.

5, The have accelerated the shrinking of the Black and Latino middle class, and the weakening of the nation’s unions.

If you are looking for an explanation of why the power of the Democratic Party has declined sharply in a state and local level during the past eight years, the promotion of these disastrous education policies has to be part of the explanation.

No better example can be found of the Party’s adherence to the voice of billionaire contributors and technocrats over its traditional constituency into working class and middle class Americans than its disastrous foray into School Reform.

And unfortunately, the current leadership of the Democratic Party shows no willingness or ability to change course on these issues.


Just Another Day in America as a Black Person

By Phoenix Calida (June 20, 2017)

Just another day in America as a bl*ck person…

Since the Philando Castile verdict came down, all I see is
Bl*ck friends asking about life insurance policies

begging friends to only share the most respectable profile pics, just in case

asking friends to make sure their name is spelled properly in the hashtag

asking friends and family not to be peaceful when it happens.

Making sure an auntie or cousin will take the babies if the worst happens.

Telling each other today how much they love their families and friends, just in case tomorrow doesn’t come.

Picking out songs and outfits for their funerals.

Being scared and frustrated.

Listening to my husband remind that when shots, they’ll probably hit him first and I need to run. Don’t stop. Don’t freeze. Don’t look back. Just run.

This is bl*ck life in America. It’s hard to be fully alive when we’re have dead from birth. Imagine the privilege to live in a world where law enforcement won’t kill you, and if they do a jury of fellow citizens will seek justice for you.

I’ve never been so far removed from the American dream. This life is a nightmare.

Star Wars and the Lessons of Good Parenting on Father’s Day

By S. (June 18, 2017)

As is natural on Fathers Day, our minds turn to the original Star Wars trilogy. Instead of focusing on Vader as is custom on this day, I urge you all to consider Uncle Owen Lars. Luke spends the entire trilogy mourning the death of Obi Wan and obsessing over Vader.

But Owen was there since infancy. Owen changed diapers. He made Luke drink his blue milk. He showed him how to fight off Sand People. He and Luke stayed up all night prepping for the Mos Eisley Unified School District’s Region 4 spelling bee. He took him to The Gap and bought him the trendy bathrobe that all the kids were wearing. And he taught Luke how to pilot.

The destruction of the Death Star is due to Owen Lars as much as it is to Luke. Yet, Owen dies and is completely forgotten about (#dadsinfridges).

Owen and Beru prove that parenting is often not appreciated but the benefits of good parenting can have galactic ramifications.


So Happy Father’s Day, Owen Lars, the true hero of the rebellion.

Philando: May Your Murder Break This Evil System

By Teka Lark (June 17, 2017)

I foolishly thought, because he was nice, they had a video, white people liked him, he had a job, he had been stopped 52 times for no reason, he didn’t have a record, they had a video, they had a video, they had a video, white people liked him, white people liked him— I thought for a second— I thought the police murdered the wrong Black person this time.

You can’t just go around shooting nice Black people, because if you shoot nice Black people in a nice place like Minnesota then you as a country are saying that you no longer want to talk or have potlucks or lessons on diversity or rainbow picnics, you are saying negotiations are over and you can’t be saying that, because we’re all nice, we’re all nice people. Nice people talk and make laws.

But then I remember I live in the US and while on a personal level in my heart I am sad, disappointed and angry that Black people keep being murdered in state sanctioned and ENCOURAGED violence by the police department who the developers, lawyers, judges, politicians, random rich people hire, pay and direct — I understand that this is no accident. This is no mistake. And my family’s 400+ years in this county and 255 years working as slaves in the Garden District in New Orleans yells in my brain, “Why the fuck are you surprised AGAIN. This country doesn’t give a fuck about you. Everyday you waste your fucking time caring and thinking you can do anything in this current system, but die is a day wasted. Go get another cocktail girl, before the bar closes, because this is all done.”

The US is designed so BLACK people don’t leave the house except to work at an art show as security and if you are Black and you leave the house you better have on your Securitas uniform. Not because it will stop you from being murdered, but because it will make 3/10 white people sad instead of what is typically 1/10, because this is all about fucking symbols and mainstream (white) appeal.

“That was a good Black person ‘they’ shot. That Black person had a job and the white people at their job liked this Black person. We should do something, let’s light a candle and sing.”

The marching, voting, the handmade posters, this is all about symbols. Black people being murdered is a performance for the liberals to come together in some more preaching to the choir bullshit potluck that does nothing to challenge the system.

May your murder break this evil system #PhilandoCastile


What if Handmaid’s Tale Was About a Black Theocracy?

By S. (June 14, 2017)

Thought experiment for my white friends: In The Handmaid’s Tale a cabal of elite, white Christians seize control of the government, send all of the black people away (to reservations or death camps, it’s not clear), and then turn every white woman into a slave. What feelings arise when you imagine the same scenario, except that it is a group of black men who seize control, send all whites away, and then enslave all black women?

There’s no wrong or right answer to how you feel about this. For me, this experiment heightens the racial tensions in the book. It adds another level of threat and urgency to the story. This makes me wonder if we are all too familiar with the idea of black erasure. Atwood deals with race in a few ambiguous sentences that completely remove black people from the novel. Yet when I imagine the reverse it’s somehow even more shocking.

Further, what happens when we imagine a world in which black men are dominating and controlling all aspects of women’s lives? This plays into our society’s ideas about black men being dangerous, sexual predators (one might even call them superpredators). Is the thought of black men dominating women scarier than the thought of white men dominating women?

Finally, how scary is the idea of a nation controlled by black theocrats compared to white theocrats? This might not be a big difference for you unless you’ve been exposed to some of the extremes of black, Christian theology.

Again, I have no answers. I just think that this is an interesting and possibly fruitful line of inquiry. I’ll end by pointing out that Atwood specifically wrote the book with examples of actual human domination in mind. Every aspect of the book, and much worse has already been played out in the history of slavery in America and abroad. Many armchair theorists have argued that white fears of blacks, men’s fears of women, straights fears of gays, and more are rooted in projection and fear of retaliation. I don’t know if it’s true or not but maybe Atwood’s story is in part horrifying because we are still haunted by our nation’s history of slavery.

Athena Hates This: Notes on Alt-Right Recruiting In Oregon

By Chris Lowe (June 13, 2017)


(Photo:  Flyer found in Eugene, Oregon near the University of Oregon campus)

1) Athena hates this. In the days of the greatness of her city, it was Mediterranean, brown was beautiful, and Europe was the domain of pasty faced barbarians reddened by shame, shyness or anger.

In the words of the famous graffito “Wogs begin at Macedon”

2) Poster maker clearly has never been to Nigeria, or South Africa, or Kenya, or pretty much any African country — even Swaziland is multicultural.

Pro tip: Confusion of skin color with culture is diagnostic of racism.

3) Ressentiment is ressentiment is ressentiment.

What Does Interracial Marriage Have to do With Immigration?

By Joseph Orosco (June 12, 2017)

Two legal news items today that may seem disconnected, but are not. In fact, they are reflections of the deep legacy of white supremacy in the United States.

Today is the 50th anniversary of the US Supreme Court case of Loving v. Virginia, which struck down the 1924 Racial Integrity Act that prohibited whites from interracial marriage. Also today, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the stay on Trump’s travel bans, targeting travellers from several Muslim majority countries.

The 1924 Racial Integrity Act was the brainchild of a little known, but incredibly influential white supremacist, Madison Grant.



In 1916, Grant became well-known for his book The Passing of the Great Race. In it, he argued that the Nordic Race, a race of white people known for all the highlights of Western civilization, was in danger of becoming extinct in the United States as a result of immigration from Southern and Eastern Europe (Grant did not consider those people to be proper white people).   He was consulted for the Racial Integrity Act and he believed it was one measure to prevent the dilution of a powerful white blood line in the US (the Act did not prevent people of color from marrying each other, for instance, which is why the SCOTUS struck it down recognizing that it was mostly about maintaining white segregation).

But Grant was also the force behind the 1924 Johnson-Reed Act, one of the most impactful federal immigration laws in the 20th Century. Grant was invited by US representatives to lead an investigative committee into immigration and his book was shared in the halls of Congress by representative reading groups. The Johnson-Reed Act created a quota system that capped total immigration into the United States and essentially stopped most immigration from Southern and Eastern Europe. However, immigrants from Northwestern and Western were allowed easy access. The result was an enormous demographic shift that carefully curated the make up of the white majority. The Johnson-Reed Act was not lifted until the mid 1960s.

The shadow of Madison Grant behind these two pieces of legislation should remind us that immigration law in the United States has almost always been designed to maintain white supremacy under the guise of providing security from some sort of crisis. Trump’s dog-whistle tactics concerning “bad hombres” and “radical Islamic terrorists” to justify a wall with Mexico or a travel ban, then, are not recent developments in American politics, but long standing examples of tried and true strategies for carefully crafting a white supremacist society.

Antifa, Not the Patriot Movement, Stand for Freedom and Liberty

By Alexander Reid Ross (June 10, 2017)

I’ve seen a lot of snark from the Patriot movement saying that antifascists are demonstrating today in defense of Sharia law. The problem is that the Patriot movement has no idea what either Islam or Sharia law actually are, let alone why antifascists have taken to the streets today.

Joey Gibson came close when he said that 1/3 of Muslims believe in Sharia law. The number, according to a Pew poll, is closer to 50 percent. However, there is a broad divergence of opinion on what that means. A vast majority of Muslims surveyed believe in religious freedom—likely a larger percentage than the Patriot movement’s constituents.

Sharia law, in general, connotes an attempted formalization of the spiritual law. Since spiritual law changes, Sharia is always imperfect. However, it is the closest that many Muslims believe people can come to obeying their religious faith through practice.

People who believe in Sharia law are not necessarily pro-life, like the Patriot movement is. They are not necessarily patriarchal, like the Patriot movement is. They don’t believe in racialized hierarchies like the Patriot movement does.

When people come out into the streets to oppose the Patriot movement, they are not making of confession of the faith; they are standing up for the rights of people everywhere to practice their own faiths without hurting others. The Patriot movement has shown that it does not share this sincere believe, which incidentally is right there in their constitution.

Antifascists stand on the side of freedom and liberty. The Patriot movement gets Islam wrong and perpetuates the racist misogyny they claim to fight in the name of the civil liberties they attempt to destroy. The Patriot movement would do better to single out and alienate the Nazis in their own midst, rather than pointing the finger at everyone but themselves.

Solidarity with antifa!


What Our Leaving the Paris Accord Means for Our Future

By Paul Messersmith-Glavin (June 1, 2017)

We’d be fooling ourselves to think that the Paris Climate Accords are going to avert the looming disaster that is rapidly unfolding climate disruption. They are not binding agreements, they don’t confront the root causes, and they don’t go far enough.

At the same time, the Trump administration pulling out of these modest agreements signals to the world that one of the leading climate destabilizers, the US, just doesn’t give a shit. This will shift global momentum in a decidedly dystopian direction.

And all along, this development simply demonstrates that the best way to stop climate change is to create a society that has a just, ecological, economic system that doesn’t inherently change the climate, the way the capitalist economy we all suffer from does. That requires all of us to remake the world, or it will be remade for us.


Notes for An Activist Struggling with Depression and Overwhelm In These Times

By Chris Crass (June 1, 2017)

I am with you.

Because I feel the grief and anguish of these times, with the recent murders of Black, Indigenous, and white people in Maryland, Washington and Oregon by white supremacists. Of Professor Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, author of From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation, canceling two public speaking engagements on the West Coast, after receiving over 50 death threats. Of Linda Sarsour, a Muslim leader and a leading voice on the Left, denounced by right wing media, protested by the Alt-Right, targeted for violent threats and racist/misogynistic hate mail.

Because I feel the pain of far too many progressive/liberal white people in faith communities and in social justice efforts, pushing back against, actively undermining and marginalizing women of color leaders who are working to center the visions, values, strategies, needs, hopes and futures of communities of color in majority white faith denominations, in majority white progressive efforts, and in the hearts, imaginations, and visions of progressive white people our/their selves. In doing this monumental and visionary work, women of color are ultimately working to redeem, revive and revolutionize our justice movements, our faith traditions, our progressive/Left institutions, organizations and communities so that we can rise to the challenges and opportunities of these times.

Because I feel the push and pull, the tragedy and the organizing opportunity, the dual realities of what it means to have so many white people activated by the election. I feel the anger and frustration of “where were you when we were in the streets for Sandra Bland, for Michael Brown” and I know that white supremacy works on my people to systematically live in denial of and often in resistance to Black protest, Black leadership, and Black life and that the impact of the election is an organizing moment for anti-racist/racial justice leadership to bring large numbers of white people into the river of multiracial democratic struggle, as the Women’s March showed both the challenges and the possibilities.

Because I feel the tension of large number so white liberal/progressive people coming in without prior knowledge, without humility to look to and align with justice leadership in communities of color who have long been in the work. And I feel the need and opportunity to help support these organizing efforts, to help connect new white people to racial justice resources, to the powerful visions and voices of leaders of color, knowing that white supremacy works overtime to keep white people’s hearts blocked from truly hearing, let along uniting with, leadership of people of color.

And even though each day presents devastating news and social media anecdotes of the grassroots Left’s shortcomings, we know that our ancestors, that our elders, that the movements of the past have faced profound conditions of oppression, violence and racist reaction, and have made a way forward. We know that

Because even with anguish and pain in our hearts, we also have love and rage, and we will fight for multiracial democracy, for the future of our planet, for the future of our children.

And for those of working to unite the struggles and aspirations for change in white communities, with racial justice, we draw lessons and nourishment from the work of white abolitionists Abby Kelley and William Lloyd Garrison, running against the storm of white support for slavery, from the work of white anti-racist socialists Anne and Carl Braden, Zyphia and Myles Horton working to build up the Black Freedom Movement and bring white people into the movement.

For those of us working to destroy the death grip of white supremacy on white people’s minds, hearts and souls, we will fight in white communities to unite as many people as possible to collective liberation with racial justice at the center.

Because even through supremacy systems work to drain us of our energy, of our hope, of our belief in each other and ourselves, we know that, as Michelle Alexander reminds us, it is really Trump and the forces who elected him that are the one’s resisting the gains, the progress, the future created by women, people of color, immigrants, disabled people, LGBTQ, Muslims, white anti-racists, working class and poor communities, all of us who believe in multiracial democracy, of an inclusive society with equity and justice at the core.

We are in a fight for our lives, for our future, for the earth, and grief, depression, anguish, heartache, and tragedy are all around us, but so to is the love, resilience, beauty, magic, and ferocious courage of our people, our traditions, and the movements that fought for us.

I am with you.

And even in these times, I believe in us and I believe that we will win.