Border Protest Against Militarization

Brant Rosen

I Witnessed the Horror of Border Militarization, and Vow to Fight It

I ‘ve just returned from the San Diego-Tijuana border where I had the honor of participating in “Love Knows No Borders” — an interfaith action sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) and co-sponsored by a myriad of faith organizations from across the country. As a staffer for AFSC and a member of Jewish Voice for Peace (one of the many co-sponsoring organizations), I took a special pride in this interfaith mobilization, in which more than 400 people from across the country gathered to take a moral stand against our nation’s sacrilegious immigration system. I’m particularly gratified that the extensive media from our action could shine a light on the brutal reality at our increasingly militarized southern border.

The date of the action (December 10) was symbolically chosen to take place on the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and served as the kick off to a nationwide week of action that will conclude on December 18, International Migrant’s Day. The action set three basic demands before the US government: to respect people’s human right to migrate, to end the militarization of border communities, and to end the detention and deportation of immigrants.

Over the course of this past weekend, hundreds of participants streamed into San Diego for orientation and training. To conclude our preparation and as a precursor to the upcoming action, an interfaith service was held in the packed sanctuary of University Christian Church. As one of the Jewish leaders of the service, I noted that it was the eighth and final night of Hanukkah and invited the Jewish members of our delegation up to sing the blessings.

Before the lighting, I explained that the final night of Hanukkah is the night in which our light shines the brightest, and I pointed out the wonderful confluence of this Jewish festival with our interfaith action the following day. Rev. Tracie Blackmon, a United Church of Christ leader and prominent social justice activist, delivered one of the most powerful messages of the evening, properly placing the issue of immigrant justice within the context of US white supremacy.

Arrests at the Border
The next morning, we gathered at AFSC’s San Diego office and left in buses to Border Field State Park, located just north of the border with Tijuana. After a press conference, we marched west down the trail to the beach, then turned south and approached the border fence, which snaked across the beach and jutted several hundred feet into the water. As we got closer, we could see a tangle of barbed concertina wire laid out in front of the fence. Behind the wire stood a phalanx of heavily armed border police.

The action set three basic demands before the US government: to respect people’s human right to migrate, to end the militarization of border communities, and to end the detention and deportation of immigrants.
When we reached the edge of the wire, some of the clergy formed a semi-circle and offered blessings for the migrants. As the prayers were spoken aloud, the police used a megaphone to inform us that we were trespassing on federal property and that we needed to move to the back of the wire. I recited the Priestly Benediction in Hebrew and English (“May God bless you and keep you …”), doing my best to articulate the prayer between the voices of police barking out orders (a ceremonial first for me).

When our blessings were over, we went back to the other side of the barbed wire and those of us in front formed a line directly facing the guards. A policeman repeatedly told us to leave, adding that he did not want any violence — an ironic statement considering that he and the rest of the riot-gear clad border police wielded automatic weapons in front of our faces. We began to chant freedom chants and held the line, even as the police inched forward and started to push us back.

While we were careful not to touch any law enforcement officers, we continued to hold the line as the police pushed us forward. Eventually, protesters who did not yield were grabbed, pulled to the police side of the line and arrested. Most men were thrown to the ground and held down with their faces in the sand while their hands were bound together with plastic ties; women were generally allowed to kneel before they were led away from the beach to waiting police vans.

When we stood up to the line of armed border police, I couldn’t help but flash back to my very similar experience in Hebron.
As I continued to hold the line on the far west end of the front line, I noticed a commotion at the other end: Police had broken through the line and were chasing protesters down the beach. I saw one of our protest organizers, AFSC staffer Matt Leber, roughly thrown to the ground by at least five or six border police officers, handcuffed and led away. While Leber did not intend to take an arrest, this kind of intentional targeting of organizers is a common police tactic.

We learned later that Leber had been charged with felony assault against a federal officer. In video taken of the incident, however, you can see Leber (wearing the red T-shirt and backpack) guiding the protest when he is suddenly attacked, unprovoked, by the police who lunge at him and yank off his backpack. You can also see AFSC staffer Jacob Flowers (wearing the yellow vest) attempt to nonviolently de-escalate the situation by placing his body between Leber and the police before they throw him to the ground.

Shortly after Leber’s arrest, I dropped to my knees and was grabbed and pinned down by two border police officers. When it became clear that I wasn’t resisting, they allowed me to stand of my own accord and led me to the line of arrested protesters who were arrayed along a fence, waiting to be placed into police vans.

All told, 32 of us were arrested and charged with the misdemeanor of “nonconformity to the orders of a Federal Law Enforcement officer.” After we were cited and released, we learned that Leber had been charged with felony assault of a law enforcement officer. When a day went by with no further word, AFSC released a statement calling for his immediate release. To our collective relief, Leber was eventually let out later on Tuesday afternoon and the charges against him were dropped.

The True Meaning of Border Militarization
During our debrief, many noted the ferocity of the border guard’s response to our prayerful, nonviolent demonstration. Many of us — in particular the white, privileged members of our delegation — agreed that we had gained a deeper sense of empathy and solidarity with our migrant neighbors, a stronger understanding of the toxic effects of militarization on our border communities, and a more profound conviction than ever that we must all fight for a nation that receives immigrants with open hearts and open doors.

This experience also served to demonstrate what “militarization of the border” truly means. My friend and fellow Jewish Voice for Peace member Elaine Waxman put it well when she wrote about our experience on her Facebook page:

What has stuck with me most in the last 24 hours is a deeply uncomfortable sense of what that border surely looks like when the witnesses are gone, the journalists are not taking pictures, and the encounters are with migrants instead of documented (and often white) community leaders. Because what we saw yesterday looks like a police state.

Indeed, when we stood up to the line of armed border police, I couldn’t help but flash back to my very similar experience in a direct action with Youth Against Settlements during the summer of 2006 in Hebron. In both cases we faced heavily armed soldiers, the loud screaming of orders, and the use of the threat of violence to intimidate and deter those who do not yield to state control.

Clergy demonstrators hold the line at the San Diego-Tijuana border fence.

I also noticed another, more specific similarity between these two experiences. When I stood in front of the border guards on the beach, I noticed familiar tear gas canisters belted across their chests. I’d seen the same on soldiers throughout the West Bank and Gaza: silver cylinders with blue writing manufactured by Combined Tactical Systems in Jamestown, Pennsylvania.

Seeing those same canisters at the US-Mexico border reminded me of the multiple intersections between systems of state violence and corporate profit – and of the need for a movement that will expose and dismantle them once and for all.

The New Internet Police Protecting You From Freedom of Thought and Speech

I have reprinted an article about the rise of censorship on the internet. Censorship is deeply troubling for those that cherish freedom of thought. And the censorship that Barbara Lee Fisher speaks of does not only apply to vaccine information but also political thought. What is particularly troubling is the support of so called “liberals” in this movement of censorship. And the organization of censors and their software offends the 1st and 5th Amendment rights to free speech and association. We must all fight back against the fascist regulation of thought.

The New Internet Police Protecting You From Freedom of Thought and Speech
by Barbara Lee Fisher
Before the Internet was launched in 1992, our thoughts, values and beliefs were informed by our family and friends and by the books, magazines and newspapers we read and by what we heard on radio and saw on television. If we wanted to communicate with each other we would pick up the telephone, write a letter or meet face to face.
The Internet changed everything.
The World Wide Web gave us electronic access to free, uncensored information on our computers, tablets and cell phones and the ability to instantly share that information with each other. It connected us together in a virtual public square, where we could do our own research and talk about our personal experiences, and express what we think and believe and how we feel about important issues that affect our lives.
There are three billion people on the Internet communicating with each other. 1 Except for the printing press created in the 15th century, there is no other single means of communication that has had as profound an impact on freedom of thought and speech as the World Wide Web.
Yes, the Internet has changed everything. And, now, everyone needs to know how the Internet is changing.
internet
In the very near future you may not be able to find information about vaccine science, policy and law published on websites like NVIC.org and
TheVaccineReaction.org or be able to connect with us on social media platforms to have an open conversation about it. With the cancellation of net neutrality in the U.S. in 2017, 2 3 the two decade forging of public-private business partnerships between governments and politically powerful corporations and institutions has cleared the way for factual information about health to be censored as “fake news” and quietly removed from the Internet if it does not conform with public health policy and government recommendations for use of pharmaceutical and food products.
Has the Internet been hijacked by Wall Street? It sure looks that way.
An electronic wall is being built to block you from getting information you want so you only get information someone else decides you need. An electronic burning of the books has begun, and the people are being silently herded into a virtual Dark Age. While this censorship is starting with conversations about health and vaccination, it will not end there.
Those who have bought and control the Internet now have the power to restrict or block any kind of information they do not want you to see or talk about with your family, friends and others you connect with online. 4 5
So who is doing the judging of what is truth and what is “fake news” online?
The Internet Police Thinking and Speaking for You
Web of Trust 6 and Snopes, 7 both for-profit enterprises, have attempted to police the Internet for the past decade by rating websites for “trustworthiness” or branding articles published online as “true” or “false,” even as they themselves became embroiled in controversy about trustworthiness. 8 9 10 But Snopes and Web of Trust are rookies compared to the professional SWAT team hired this year by a new corporation, NewsGuard Technologies, Inc., to rate websites and online publications so, in their own words, they can quote “fight false news, misinformation and disinformation.” 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 NewsGuard is collaborating with The Paley Center for Media,18 Google, 19 Microsoft, 2021 Publicis, 22232425262728293031 schools, libraries 32 and other institutions to protect you and your children from news and perspective they think will harm you and society.
There is no question that “fake news” is a real problem in both mainstream and alternative media when demonstrably false information is deliberately disguised as fact. However, it is also a real problem when demonstrably factual information or perspective is mislabeled as “fake news,” simply because it criticizes government policy or threatens the bottom line of corporations selling government recommended commercial products like liability free vaccines.
dollars handshake
One of the most politically powerful public-private partnerships today is the lucrative one that has been forged by the pharmaceutical industry with government, 333435363738 mainstream media 39 and wealthy philanthropic foundations with political agendas. 404142434445
NVIC Giving a Voice for the Vaccine Injured, Defending Human Rights
It has been 25 years since the nonprofit charity founded in 1982 by parents of vaccine injured children, the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), began posting vaccine information on the Internet. Our mission is to prevent vaccine injuries and deaths through public education and to protect the ethical principle of informed consent to medical risk taking, which serves as the foundation for the ethical practice of medicine. 46 The co-founders and parent representatives of NVIC have a long, transparent public record of consumer advocacy, including working with Congress to secure vaccine safety informing, recording, reporting and research provisions in the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 and serving on federal vaccine advisory committees and testifying in congressional and state legislative hearings. 4748
We represent and give a voice to a vulnerable minority, the ones for whom the risks of vaccination turn out to be 100 percent. But we also represent and give a voice to people who believe that the human right to freedom of thought, speech, conscience and informed consent must be protected. 49
Verifiable Facts About Vaccination Not “Fake News”
Ten years before the birth of the Internet, one of the best-kept secrets in America was that vaccines can and do cause injury and death and that some individuals are more vulnerable to being harmed by vaccination. In 1982, an Emmy award winning television documentary DPT: Vaccine Roulette produced by consumer reporter Lea Thompson alerted parents and pediatricians that the whole cell pertussis vaccine in DPT shots could brain damage children. 5051 It was a mainstream media outlet – NBC – that blew the whistle on the pharmaceutical industry’s neglect, and the medical establishment’s denial of DPT vaccine reactions, and the 50-year failure of industry and government to improve the safety of a vaccine mandated for all children to attend school.
These are verifiable facts: the truth, not “fake news.”
Three years later in 1985, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich published DPT: A Shot in the Dark, a book that further documented the risks and failures of the old crude whole cell pertussis vaccine. 52 A year later, Congress passed the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act. In that legislation, for the first time the US government acknowledged that FDA licensed and CDC recommended vaccines can and do injure children. 5354
Since the 1986 Act was passed, the government has awarded four billion dollars in compensation to thousands of children and adults who have suffered permanent injuries, or whose loved ones have died after being given federally licensed and recommended vaccines. 55
These are verifiable facts: the truth, not “fake news.”
Between 1991 and 2013, the National Academy of Sciences published a series of reports on vaccine adverse effects. 56 These reports confirmed that vaccines can cause brain and immune system disorders, and that genetic, biological and environmental risk factors make some individuals more vulnerable to being harmed but doctors don’t know how to identify them because of gaps in vaccine science. 57
boy being vaccinated
These are verifiable facts: the truth, not “fake news.”
More than 684,000 adverse events following vaccination, including hospitalizations, injuries and deaths, have been reported to the federal government since 1990. 58 This number is estimated to represent less than one percent of all vaccine adverse events that have actually occurred. 59
These are verifiable facts; the truth, not “fake news.”
The U.S. government now recommends that children receive 69 doses of 16 vaccines between the day of birth and age 18, with 50 doses given before the age of six, 60 which is triple the number of vaccinations given to children in 1983. 61 Almost all of these vaccinations are mandated by states for children to attend school 62 and some children are being refused medical care and adults are being fired from their jobs if they don’t get every one of them, even after suffering vaccine reactions and deterioration in health. 6364656667
Vaccine policy and mandates have helped to create a global vaccine market now projected to bring in a staggering $57 billion dollars for drug companies by 2025.6869
These are verifiable facts, not “fake news.” But very soon you may not be able to get this information or talk about it online.
It is already happening.
Discrimination and Censorship: NVIC’s Information Targeted Online
Traffic to NVIC’s websites has fallen more than 50 percent since net neutrality was cancelled last year and access to our online information was restricted by suppressive algorithms and rating systems. 70
Although NVIC takes a pro-education, pro-informed consent position and does not make vaccine use recommendations, NVIC’s Pinterest account was recently suspended. 71 The reason given was that Pinterest takes action “against accounts that repeatedly save content that includes harmful advice, misinformation that targets individuals or protected groups or content that originates from disinformation campaigns” and that Pinterest operators “don’t allow advice when it has immediate or detrimental effects on a Pinner’s health or on public safety. This includes promotion of false cures for terminal or chronic illnesses and anti-vaccination advice,” adding that they rely on “information from national and internationally recognized institutions like the CDC and WHO World Health Organization” to guide their judgments.
NVIC is awaiting the judgment of NewsGuard Technologies about whether our weekly online journal newspaper The Vaccine Reaction will be given a green or red rating, which will send a signal to major search engines and social media platforms with the power to preserve or censor and make information disappear from the Internet.
Censoring Information for The Greater Good?
The new Internet Police scrubbing the World Wide Web of information they do not want you to see or talk about is part of the larger culture war going on today in our country and in many countries. 72 73 When it comes to vaccination, discrimination and censorship is justified in the name of public safety and The Greater Good. 7475
Who’s greater good? Who among us in society should be given the power to take away our freedom to seek and obtain knowledge, to engage in rational thinking, to speak in the public square and follow the judgment of our conscience when making decisions about what we are willing to risk our lives and our children’s lives for?
In America, where the Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution guarantees civil liberties to protect minorities from the tyranny of the majority, we cannot wait any longer to publicly discuss and answer that question. It is a question that needs open public discussion, not censorship, because what is at stake affects not only freedom of thought and speech, but the loss of autonomy, the first and most sacred of all natural rights that protects every one of us from exploitation by wealthy corporations and politically powerful institutions.
Taking Positive Action with Eyes Wide Open and No Fear
In this time of oppression, we cannot know what needs to be done unless we go forward with our eyes wide open, understanding the new reality without fearing it. It is time to collect, preserve and cherish the good books, articles, films, videos and podcasts that have been published about vaccination and share them with our family and friends; time to save and download to our computers and external hard drives the written and video information still online that we want to keep and share with our children and our grandchildren. Time to expand the open public record by attending, testifying at and recording every legislative hearing, every town hall gathering, and every federal vaccine advisory committee meeting where people discuss vaccination or attempt to eliminate the human right to autonomy and censor freedom of thought and speech.
If the doors to the Internet are closing, we can still stand up and speak in the smaller public squares that have always been there. We can come together and talk the old fashioned way, meeting in cafes, hotels, churches and in the privacy of our own homes. We can set up telephone trees and stay in touch by mail the way we did before the Internet. We can still use the World Wide Web to create private messaging and host webinars. We can create new ways of communicating with each other using more secure channels for uncensored conversations about vaccination and health.
No matter what happens to the Internet, the best way to not lose touch with us is to register today for the free online NVIC Advocacy Portal, which is a secure communications network that puts you in electronic contact with your own legislators and provides you with real time information about vaccine-related legislation moving in your state. Taking that action provides us with an address to send you information in the mail, which also happens if you make a charitable donation to NVIC in any amount.
Today, everybody knows somebody who was healthy, got vaccinated and was never healthy again. NVIC has been here for 36 years telling the truth about vaccination and advocating for better quality vaccine science, higher government vaccine safety licensing standards, more humane public health policies and protection of informed consent rights. The truth about vaccination is out there now and the truth will shine bright and clear in the end, no matter who tries to stop it from being known.
It’s your health, your family, your choice and our mission continues: No forced vaccination. Not in America!

The Remedy for hope is Action

The following is the Epilogue from Jeffrey St. Clair’s and Joshua Frank’s new book The Big Heat: Earth on the Brink, available now from CounterPunch Books.

In the spring of 2017, the carbon dioxide readings at the Mauna Loa observatory in Hawai’i cracked 410 parts per million, an all-time record and a frightening one. On Earth Day, climate marches took place in cities across the world. Trump’s policies didn’t drive the spiking CO2 levels, but they did propel tens of thousands onto the streets for a few hours of fun. Where were those people during eight years of Barack Obama, an oil and gas man of some distinction? Where were they during eight years of Bill Clinton, one of the greatest environmental con men of our time?

Has Donald Trump finally shattered our illusions, so that we can see clearly the forces—economic, political and technological—that are plunging the planet toward a man-made heat death? Is he, in fact, a kind of clarifying agent for the real state of things?

One can hope so.

Except one mustn’t hope.

As Kafka, the High Priest of Realism, admonished his readers, “There is hope. But not for us.”

Hope is an illusion, an opiate, an Oxycontin for the masses. Instead of hope, we need a heavy dose of realism. A realism as chilling as reality itself.

Twenty-five hundred years ago, the Buddha instructed us that the world is suffering, and indeed it is. He also advised us that the cure for suffering is empathy, especially for those living beings—among which we would include redwood trees, sea coral and saguaro cacti—which have no defense against the forces that are inflicting that globalized torment.

That’s where we come in. Defenders of the Earth need to abandon all hope before entering the fray. Hope is a paralytic agent. Hope is the enemy.

The antidote is action.

Action, however, is not marching in a parade a couple of times a year, featuring puppets, vagina hats and signs printed up by the Sierra Club©. Action is not taking selfies with a celebrity in the back of a police wagon after a designer arrest. Action is not typing your name on a MoveOn e-petition or voting for a Jill Stein-like candidate in safe states like Oregon or California. Action is standing arm-in-arm before water cannons and government snipers on the frozen plains of North Dakota. Action is hanging from a fragile perch 150-feet up in Douglas fir tree in an ancient forest grove slated for clearcutting, through howling winter storms. Action is chaining yourself to a fracking rig in rural Pennsylvania or camping out in the blast zone at a Mountain Top Removal site in the hills of West Virginia. Action is intervening when police in stormtrooper gear are savagely beating a defenseless woman on the streets of Portland. Action is jumping into the Pacific Ocean with a knife in your teeth to cut the vast trawler nets ensnaring white-sided dolphins and humpback whales. Action is stopping bad shit from going down, or trying to.

The time for protests is over.

Protests will not prick the conscience of the unmasked beast called Donald Trump. Trump has no conscience to arouse, no shame to trigger, no remorse to cultivate. Trump is a full-frontal menace, that dangerous object in the mirror that is closer than it appears. It is the old threat, coming at us faster than before and from all directions at once. An unchained beast that will not be moderated by regulations, social conventions or appeals to common decency.

We are witnessing the wet-dream of Steve Bannon—the Trump Whisperer—made manifest: the dismantling of the regulatory state. This new reality compels us—for those who are willing to look—to confront the shedding of another illusion, an illusion that mainstream environmentalists have been marinating in since the 1970s, when our most progressive president, Richard M. Nixon, cynically created the modern environmental regulatory state in order to split the anti-war movement, pacify the Left and smother a much more radical defense of the natural world.

The green regulatory state—as personified by the EPA, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Forest Service and the BLM (Bureau of Livestock and Mining), as well as thousands of laws, administrative rules and regulations, the meaning of which can only be divined by lawyers, lobbyists and professional environmentalists—has not slowed the decimation of native forests, the extirpation of wildlife or the poisoning of our air and water. It has simply codified and systematized the destruction, allocating the looting to a coterie of well-connected corporations large enough and shrewd enough to navigate the legal labyrinth for their own bloody profits.

At the same time, the creation of the regulatory state effectively neutered the once potent environmental movement as a real threat to the System. As their budgets swell, often fattened by the largess of grants from foundations linked to the fossil fuel industry, the big DC-oriented conservation groups become more and more complicit with the political fool’s gold of neoliberalism. Try finding a lobbyist from NRDC with callouses on their hands and a trace of mud on their boots.

As Trump begins the demolition of the regulatory state, we start to see how hollow many of Gang Green’s alleged environmental victories of the past—from coal mining and air quality regulations to endangered species protections and new national monuments—really are. They are being wiped out with a slash of the pen.

As the archdruid David Brower used to say: “When we win, it’s only a stay of execution, when they win it’s forever. Thus we must be eternally vigilant.” These days the corporate environmental movement is vigilant about only one thing: claiming fake victories in their sustained barrage of fund-raising appeals.

But the days of the laptop environmentalism are numbered. Trump is creating a battlefield where professional conservationists will fear to tread, a direct, face-to-face confrontation with the machinery of ecocide.

And we know who will rise to the call. The ones who always have in the past: the indigenous, the altruists and the anarchists. Those are the ones who will fight as if their lives depend on the outcome, because, of course, they do.

If we are to believe the sociobiologists, such as E.O. Wilson, the altruistic gene may only be present in three percent of the human population—may their gene pool increase! But, hell, that’s still three times as many people as the one-percenters who are running the show! If you want hope, there’s a microdot to swallow.

Small, scruffy and unruly as it is, we’ve seen the power of our movement in the past. When our backs are—often literally—against the wall, when the battle lines are clear from the immobilizing fog of liberal rhetoric and free from the timid advice of professional compromisers. We’ve seen it emerge from the Lacandon jungle to say enough is enough and overtake the streets of Seattle to shut down the World Trade Organization. We’ve seen grandmothers and housewives expose the toxic crimes of Love Canal and corn farmers shut down nuclear power plants. We’ve taken the international timber industry to its knees on its home turf, blocked strip mines, pipelines and river-killing dams. We’ve thrown monkey-wrenches big and small into the gears of the System. It has been done and it will be done again and again. No grant applications or protest permits needed.

As Ed Abbey used to say: there’s no battle more important, no fight more fun waging, no comrades more trustworthy than those in the trenches with us when we rise up together in defense of life on Earth. To crib a line from Leonard Cohen: “we may be ugly, but we’ve got the music.”

So draw a line and take a stand—almost any place will do, since the whole shebang is under threat—and let loose an old battle cry so that others will know where to come join you: Earth First!

*The Audacity of Struggle*

November 29, 2018

by RON JACOBS

The madness around us is no accident. Donald Trump is not an anomaly, but he is the worst of what this nation has to offer. Intentional ignorance fuels his hatred and money fuels his bloated and undeserved ego. We live in a nation ruled by small minded and heartless men and women whose egos match their ill begotten bank accounts. Their perception of justice is that which serves the market and the market is only viable as far as it serves their paymasters. Men and women with no place to live idle away their days in libraries and doorways, their hope for a different future slowly fading into their lives of despair. Work for any gain like a place they can afford to rent or even a car to live in grows more distant with each ordinance passed against the state of being poor. Police in their obeisance to the state and the class it serves enforce these ordinances with nary a pang of conscience. Or, even worse, a conscience that demands they beat the poor and obey the wealthy. Meanwhile, the wealthy spread their gospel of prosperity as if they actually believe the lies they tell themselves. Angry and ultimately misanthropic citizens accept the rich people’s lies hoping that their deliverance will soon arrive. Maybe if they believe the gospel of wealth they will become wealthy. It’s the myth upon which US capitalism is built. P.T. Barnum put it more succinctly when he spoke about suckers being born every minute.

The work I do demands interaction with homeless, often desperate people. Like me when I was on the streets, these men and women know the location of every restroom open to the public, the hours of the library and the rules they need to follow to stay in the building. This information is especially important on days the weather makes being outside uncomfortable if not downright dangerous. Those economically better off either choose to ignore the poor among them or turn to charitable acts; acts which are usually motivated by a belief one should care for their fellow human, but not enough to destroy the system that makes them poor and others rich. The very essence of a system that insists on inequality demands some kind of allegiance after all.

Then there are those whose very person is composed of a hate so vile they need nothing else to sustain themselves. They pine for the days when their hate was the law and not just the spirit in some parts of the nation. From where I sit, this describes the very nature of the current occupant of the White House and most of the members of his party. A policy honed over a history of slaughter and present in virtually every intervention by the US military is once again becoming commonplace on US soil and at its borders. I say once again because there are millions of US residents who are shocked when border police fire tear gas at women and children; when cops kill unarmed (most Black) citizens and get away with it; when protesters are sprayed in the face with pepper spray in front of the news media; when people trying to feed hungry people without homes are arrested for trying to feed hungry people without homes. Millions are shocked because they don’t understand the history of the nation they call home. Millions are shocked because they believe the nation is a good place. Millions are shocked until they are no longer shocked because the commonplace nature of these and other human rights abuses desensitizes them to the brutal nature of these acts and the system that requires them.

Drone strikes, once considered to be some kind of humane warfare (perhaps because it was Barack Obama who turned to them as his primary means of killing), are now barely discussed in the media. This is despite the fact that they have actually increased under Donald Trump. US wars of aggression have also continued, with civilian deaths increasing in Afghanistan and elsewhere. That increase is present even when using the Pentagon rubric which essentially labels any male ten years and older as a combatant, much like any Black male over ten in the US is considered by police to be the domestic equivalent of a combatant. On the southern US border military and police forces combine their numbers to deny refugees their internationally protected right to asylum. Certain media outlets champion this violation of international law and cheer the use of tear gas on the refugees. Many politicians proclaim their shock at the brutality against refugees while they continue to defend the ongoing US military operations around the world—operations which violate international law as a matter of policy.

The Trumpist reign has once again shown the world what the US really is. It has also created a certain chaos that proves how fragile the world capitalist system is. Both of these might be construed as positive phenomena. What matters it what is done with this knowledge. Overturning the neoliberal capitalist world order should be a good thing. However, capitalists have proven over and over again that they will do whatever it takes to keep the capitalist system going. War, genocide, mass incarceration, Hitler and Mussolini—anything to keep it going. The current chaos serves them well. Donald Trump isn’t Hitler, but he doesn’t need to be. The Trumpist approach has already proven to be effective in its reordering of the capitalist world towards its most reactionary factions.

The recent elections proved at least two things. The first is that there are enough people living in the United States who want to see its policies of greed and brutality changed. The second is that voting to change those policies is not a very effective means of doing so. The fact that elections can be manipulated by the ruling party if it so desires is just one reason why. I fear that come 2019, we will also discover once again that changing the faces of the members of Congress is not enough to change the influence of money, the military, and the lure of power. Those members old and new who do not go along with the ongoing transfer of wealth to the richest families in the nation will be silenced no matter how much noise they make. Indeed, unless the public engages in popular, loud and relentless protest, those few elected officials who care what their constituents want will be irrelevant. The rest will feel they have to answer only to those who pay their way As the more cynical among us knows, even if that protest is popular and relentless, nothing may change for the better. This fact is no reason not to protest, however. It is instead, reason to consider something more than trying to fix a system that by its nature requires the abuses listed here and worse to continue. It also requires the silence of those who are uneasy with what they are watching. Indeed, it requires that silence at least as much as it requires the support of those who point their fear and hatred towards those whom the rulers have scapegoated. It’s past time for hope. It’s time for struggle.

More articles by:RON JACOBS

***Ron Jacobs** is the author of Daydream Sunset: Sixties Counterculture in the Seventies published by CounterPunch Books. His latest offering is a pamphlet titled Capitalism: Is the Problem. He lives in Vermont. He can be reached at: ronj1955@gmail.com.*

Howard Zinn: Don’t Despair About the Supreme Court

Howard Zinn
October 21, 2005

The Progressive

In 2005 after John Roberts was confirmed, Howard Zinn wrote: It would be naive to depend on the Supreme Court to defend the rights of poor people, women, people of color, dissenters of all kinds.

John Roberts sailed through his confirmation hearings as the new Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, with enthusiastic Republican support, and a few weak mutterings of opposition by the Democrats. Then, after the far right deemed Harriet Miers insufficiently doctrinaire, Bush nominated arch conservative Samuel Alito to replace Sandra Day O’Connor. This has caused a certain consternation among people we affectionately term “the left.”

I can understand that sinking feeling. Even listening to pieces of Roberts’s confirmation hearings was enough to induce despair: the joking with the candidate, the obvious signs that, whether Democrats or Republicans, these are all members of the same exclusive club. Roberts’s proper “credentials,” his “nice guy” demeanor, his insistence to the Judiciary Committee that he is not an “ideologue” (can you imagine anyone, even Robert Bork or Dick Cheney, admitting that he is an “ideologue”?) were clearly more important than his views on equality, justice, the rights of defendants, the war powers of the President.

At one point in the hearings, *The New York Times* reported, Roberts “summed up his philosophy.” He had been asked, “Are you going to be on the side of the little guy?” (Would any candidate admit that he was on the side of “the big guy”? Presumably serious “hearings” bring out idiot questions.)

Roberts replied: “If the Constitution says that the little guy should win, the little guy’s going to win in court before me. But if the Constitution says that the big guy should win, well, then the big guy’s going to win, because my obligation is to the Constitution.”

If the Constitution is the holy test, then a justice should abide by its provision in Article VI that not only the Constitution itself but “all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the Supreme Law of the Land.” This includes the Geneva Convention of 1949, which the United States signed, and which insists that prisoners of war must be granted the rights of due process.

A district court judge in 2004 ruled that the detainees held in Guantanamo for years without trial were protected by the Geneva Convention and deserved due process. Roberts and two colleagues on the Court of Appeals overruled this.

There is enormous hypocrisy surrounding the pious veneration of the Constitution and “the rule of law.” The Constitution, like the Bible, is infinitely flexible and is used to serve the political needs of the moment. When the country was in economic crisis and turmoil in the Thirties and capitalism needed to be saved from the anger of the poor and hungry and unemployed, the Supreme Court was willing to stretch to infinity the constitutional right of Congress to regulate interstate commerce. It decided that the national government, desperate to regulate farm production, could tell a family farmer what to grow on his tiny piece of land.

When the Constitution gets in the way of a war, it is ignored. When the Supreme Court was faced, during Vietnam, with a suit by soldiers refusing to go, claiming that there had been no declaration of war by Congress, as the Constitution required, the soldiers could not get four Supreme Court justices to agree to even hear the case. When, during World War I, Congress ignored the First Amendment’s right to free speech by passing legislation to prohibit criticism of the war, the imprisonment of dissenters under this law was upheld unanimously by the Supreme Court, which included two presumably liberal and learned justices: Oliver Wendell Holmes and Louis Brandeis.

It would be naive to depend on the Supreme Court to defend the rights of poor people, women, people of color, dissenters of all kinds. Those rights only come alive when citizens organize, protest, demonstrate, strike, boycott, rebel, and violate the law in order to uphold justice.

**It would be naive to depend on the Supreme Court to defend the rights of poor people, women, people of color, dissenters of all kinds. Those rights only come alive when citizens organize, protest, demonstrate, strike, boycott, rebel, and violate the law in order to uphold justice.**

The distinction between law and justice is ignored by all those Senators–Democrats and Republicans–who solemnly invoke as their highest concern “the rule of law.” The law can be just; it can be unjust. It does not deserve to inherit the ultimate authority of the divine right of the king.

The Constitution gave no rights to working people: no right to work less than twelve hours a day, no right to a living wage, no right to safe working conditions. Workers had to organize, go on strike, defy the law, the courts, the police, create a great movement which won the eight-hour day, and caused such commotion that Congress was forced to pass a minimum wage law, and Social Security, and unemployment insurance.

The Brown decision on school desegregation did not come from a sudden realization of the Supreme Court that this is what the Fourteenth Amendment called for. After all, it was the same Fourteenth Amendment that had been cited in the Plessy case upholding racial segregation. It was the initiative of brave families in the South–along with the fear by the government, obsessed with the Cold War, that it was losing the hearts and minds of colored people all over the world–that brought a sudden enlightenment to the Court.

The Supreme Court in 1883 had interpreted the Fourteenth Amendment so that nongovernmental institutions hotels, restaurants, etc.-could bar black people. But after the sit-ins and arrests of thousands of black people in the South in the early Sixties, the right to public accommodations was quietly given constitutional sanction in 1964 by the Court. It now interpreted the interstate commerce clause, whose wording had not changed since 1787, to mean that places of public accommodation could be regulated by Congressional action and be prohibited from discriminating.

Soon this would include barbershops, and I suggest it takes an ingenious interpretation to include barbershops in interstate commerce.

The right of a woman to an abortion did not depend on the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade. It was won before that decision, all over the country, by grassroots agitation that forced states to recognize the right. If the American people, who by a great majority favor that right, insist on it, act on it, no Supreme Court decision can take it away.

The rights of working people, of women, of black people have not depended on decisions of the courts. Like the other branches of the political system, the courts have recognized these rights only after citizens have engaged in direct action powerful enough to win these rights for themselves.

This is not to say that we should ignore the courts or the electoral campaigns. It can be useful to get one person rather than another on the Supreme Court, or in the Presidency, or in Congress. The courts, win or lose, can be used to dramatize issues.

On St. Patrick’s Day, 2003, on the eve of the invasion of Iraq, four anti-war activists poured their own blood around the vestibule of a military recruiting center near Ithaca, New York, and were arrested. Charged in state court with criminal mischief and trespassing (charges well suited to the American invaders of a certain Mideastern country), the St. Patrick’s Four spoke their hearts to the jury. Peter DeMott, a Vietnam veteran, described the brutality of war. Danny Burns explained why invading Iraq would violate the U.N. Charter, a treaty signed by the United States. Clare Grady spoke of her moral obligations as a Christian. Teresa Grady spoke to the jury as a mother, telling them that women and children were the chief victims of war, and that she cared about the children of Iraq. Nine of the twelve jurors voted to acquit them, and the judge declared a hung jury. (When the federal government retried them on felony conspiracy charges, a jury in September acquitted them of those and convicted them on lesser charges.)

Still, knowing the nature of the political and judicial system of this country, its inherent bias against the poor, against people of color, against dissidents, we cannot become dependent on the courts, or on our political leadership. Our culture–the media, the educational system–tries to crowd out of our political consciousness everything except who will be elected President and who will be on the Supreme Court, as if these are the most important decisions we make. They are not. They deflect us from the most important job citizens have, which is to bring democracy alive by organizing, protesting, engaging in acts of civil disobedience that shake up the system. That is why Cindy Sheehan’s dramatic stand in Crawford, Texas, leading to 1,600 anti-war vigils around the country, involving 100,000 people, is more crucial to the future of American democracy than the mock hearings on Justice Roberts or the ones to come on Judge Alito.

That is why the St. Patrick’s Four need to be supported and emulated. That is why the GIs refusing to return to Iraq, the families of soldiers calling for withdrawal from the war, are so important.

That is why the huge peace march in Washington on September 24 bodes well.

Let us not be disconsolate over the increasing control of the court system by the right wing.

The courts have never been on the side of justice, only moving a few degrees one way or the other, unless pushed by the people. Those words engraved in the marble of the Supreme Court, “Equal Justice Before the Law,” have always been a sham.

No Supreme Court, liberal or conservative, will stop the war in Iraq, or redistribute the wealth of this country, or establish free medical care for every human being. Such fundamental change will depend, the experience of the past suggests, on the actions of an aroused citizenry, demanding that the promise of the Declaration of Independence–an equal right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness–be fulfilled.

*\[Howard Zinn was a historian, political scientist, social critic, activist and playwright, best known as author of the bestseller A People’s History of the United States. The author of some 20 books, he was a Professor in the Political Science Department at Boston University. He died in 2010.\]*

To Hell With Civility: Enough With the Pity Party for Mitch McConnell, Please

**To Hell With Civility: Enough With the Pity Party for Mitch McConnell, Please**

By Heather Digby Parton, Salon

22 October 18

***Given all the abuse people of color face, it’s shameful for the media to lecture citizens for raising their voices***

he news media has been rightfully up in arms about the president of the United States participating in a cover-up of the murder of a journalist and Washington Post columnist. And they’ve been equally critical of President Trump’s comments last week at a rally in Montana, where he applauded a GOP congressman for body-slamming a reporter because he asked a question. Likewise, the media has understandably protested the Secret Service telling an accredited journalist that he was not allowed to ask Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner questions on an airplane.

This is, after all, a country with a Bill of Rights that protects freedom of the press. All right thinking people are supportive of their position on these issues. Between all that and the constant demeaning of the media by the president, it’s clear that this administration is using the power of the government and the president’s bully pulpit to threaten the press, and not just in a metaphorical sense. All of the above examples demonstrate a threat of physical violence.

People who understand human rights also understand the role the free press plays in securing those rights. Anyone who cares about liberty and justice can see that this crusade to protect powerful government officials from accountability by muzzling the media is a danger to us all.

Over the past few months, we’ve gone round and round about “civility” — who’s got it, who doesn’t, who’s to blame for losing it. The truth is that this country’s always been politically unruly and sometimes even violent. It’s not in the least bit unusual for citizens to confront their representatives, sometimes rudely and obnoxiously. Just in the past two decades, from Code Pink interrupting and protesting in every Iraq war hearing to the Tea Party spitting on congressmen and screaming in their faces over the health care bill, people from all sides of the political divide have been getting up in their elected leaders’ faces. Until recently, this was seen as a normal part of our raucous political life in turbulent times.

This past weekend, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was yelled at in a Louisville restaurant while sitting with his wife, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. A man approached their table and angrily told they should leave the country. When other patrons spoke up and told him to leave them alone he shouted, “They’re coming for Social Security!” (This happens to be true. McConnell told CNBC just last week that the only solution for the massive deficit caused by his massive tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy is to cut “entitlements.”)

There have been several similar incidents. Protesters and constituents have approached Sen. Ted Cruz and his wife, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen in public places, giving them hell over policies and practices.

Of all the people in our public life to get angry about this, the last you’d expect would be members of the media, who are being demonized by the president and these very same politicians. But some of them are quite upset and have taken to social media to scold citizens for addressing their leaders in this way:

Trump is a Mussolini in Drive to Destroy America

By Juan Cole, Informed Comment

24 October 18

Trump proudly says he is a “nationalist.”

He is, of course, saying this to shore up support among white nationalists. The Nazi sites on the web were all having wet dreams in the aftermath.

From the 1990s, polling has found that about 10% of Americans support far right militias. These are the white nationalists. Trump came to power by mobilizing that 10% and combining it with Republicans and independents.

It is not an accident that Benito Mussolini called his party “Nationalist Fascism.” The two go together. Trump performs the “fascist” part of this two-part term every time he does a rally, so he doesn’t have to say “I am a Nationalist Fascist,” i.e. a Mussolini-ist. But that is what he is.

Somehow Benito Mussolini is not often brought up in contemporary American political debates. His armies slaughtered 330,000 Allied troops during World War II, including large numbers of Americans. Two of my uncles fought in World War II in the European theater, and I’m not willing to let Mussolini skate. Of 45,000 Italian Jews, 8,000 were delivered to Nazi death camps and a similar number were forced to flee abroad. Some $1 billion was stolen from them as a community. I’m not sure how Trump’s Rasputin, Steve Bannon, gets away with praising this mass murderer and then being invited to major cultural and political gatherings in the West.

Erminio Fonzo in a 2016 article (1) explains that the big industrialists in Italy formed the “Nationalist Association” in 1910. Their policies and actions in the subsequent decade helped undermine the liberal Italian state. Fonzo writes that they were “anti-liberal, protectionist, clerical, opposed to any improvement for the lower social classes and favoured expansionism at any cost.” Most American industrialists today cannot be characterized this way, but a fraction of the business class here holds these very values, and Trump is their exemplar. The only difference is that they are not monarchists, and they tend to support Evangelicals rather than Catholic priests.

Mussolini forged links with elements of the Nationalist Association during WW I, when he broke with the Socialists over their insistence on neutrality and lurched to the far right of militarism. His new, fascist party received a good deal of money from the Ansaldo arms manufacturing company, just as Trump’s increase for military spending is intended to attract campaign monies from US armaments firms.

When he turned against socialism, which upheld the welfare of the working class, Mussolini substituted nationalism. He said, “the nation is a history of sentiments, traditions, language, culture, and race.” Concerns of welfare for the workers and the poor, he thought, only arise among“a people that has not integrated itself into its proper linguistic and racial confines.”

Race, language, national identity, exalting an imagined people and its glorious history, contrasting it with hated others– this was the heady brew Mussolini substituted for attempts of workers to unionize or limit their work hours or abolish child labor. It was of course, a cruel illusion that the nation was undifferentiated and unified by “race.” By the early 1930s Mussolini was casting Italy’s workers into profound poverty, favoring his backers, the business classes.

So when he came to power Mussolini declared the Nationalist Fascist Party to be his vehicle, as a way of co-opting the illiberal business classes.

Mussolini became dictator. He had been a journalist at some points, and manipulated the press to shine a bright political light on him and on his doings.

Part of what he meant by Nationalism was an exaltation of the Roman Empire and an aspiration to revive it as a vehicle of modern Italian power. Nationalist renewal was central to his vision–making Italy great again. He considered Arabs and Africans inferior races (an early 20th century way of talking about what Trump calls “shithole countries.”) He dreamed of expanding Italian hegemony into the Arab world, and turned Libya, which Italy had aggressively conquered in 1911, into one big concentration camp. This is sort of like what Trump is trying to help the Israelis do to the Palestinians in the Palestinian West Bank under Israeli colonization.

Trump didn’t mean he is a patriot. He used the word nationalist deliberately, and admitted that it was a word held in bad odor. He wants to bury the people who object to the word, which is intended to strengthen white nationalism.

It is important that everyone understand how dangerous what Trump said is. He intends to destroy the United States as it has existed in modern history, as a country of the rule of law, a country of laws and not of men, a country with a free press. He intends to mobilize his supporters in the far rightwing gangs, in the police and the armed forces as Black Shirts if he can, to break heads. He intends to move the country to Fascism. That is what he means when he says, “I am a nationalist.”

Fight to end Trump’s Capitalism

President Trump is the son of a racist Klu Klux Klan member. Trump inherited a white nationalist world view and has pursuant to his views discriminated repeatedly in his rental properties in violation of Federal and State open housing laws. Trump companies have been found quality of this activity especially in the New York city metropolitan area. Upon becoming president Trump has sought to shape immigration laws to his racist views. Trump attacked “ chain” migration whereby immigrants can sponsor relatives. His attacks on chain migration did not, however, apply to his wife bringing her parents from eastern Europe. Instead, Trump applies this anti-immigrant policy to people of color from the southern hemispheres whose countries Trump famously referred to as “shithole” countries. Trump has changed the immigration policies in the following ways:

  • Banned nationals of eight countries, most majority-Muslim, from entering the United States.

  • Reduced refugee admissions to the lowest level since the resettlement program was created in 1980.

  • Reversed the decline in arrests of unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. interior that had occurred during the last two years of the Obama administration.

  • Cancelled the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which is currently providing work authorization and temporary relief from deportation to approximately 690,000 unauthorized immigrants brought to the United States as children.

  • Ended the designation of Temporary Protected Status for nationals of Haiti, Nicaragua and Sudan, and signaled that Hondurans and possibly Salvadorans may also lose their work authorization and protection from removal in 2018.

  • Imprisoned 15,000 and counting children with many in tents in the Southwestern desert where temperatures exceed 120 degrees F.

  • Lost the records of 3,000 children many of which cannot as a result be reunited with parents.

The racist anti immigrant policies of the Trump administration extend to the comical demands of a border wall. A wall that will never be built. Trump represents a rising fascist movement of the right in America and this must necessarily be defeated and never allowed to rear its ugly face in America ever again.

What is needed is a mass movement of opposition with demonstrations, civil disobedience, and every imaginable act of resistance. Without such a movement, the depravity of the Trump administration and the underlying racism of capitalism will continue. Racism has always been used by big business capitalists to divide and conquer workers movements in the United States. Henry Ford famously created two towns in suburban Detroit. One was created by Ford as a city for Ford’s white workers called Dearborn. The second city Ford created was called, by him, Inkster as a pun on the fact that it was to be for all his black workers. These cities continued to be racially segregated until the late 1960’s with what were known as covenants to the deeds. These legal covenants prohibited property in Dearborn from being sold to anyone but white people. Eventually, the Supreme Court invalidated these restrictions but the Detroit suburbs remain today among the most racially segregated places in America. But Ford was not the only industrialist to practice pitting one group of workers against another in order to divide workers along lines of race, sex, national origin and other irrelevant factors. Such discrimination will not end until we wipe capitalism from the face of the earth.

All people must, for the sake of their humanity end the degradation promulgated by the rich against everyone else. Trump’s immigration policies are merely a reflection of the hate promulgated by the capitalists. But we can unite and defeat them as we are many and they are few. We must start by taking the fight to the streets and say such divisions and hate started by the bosses will not stand.

All people must, for the sake of their humanity end the degradation promulgated by the rich against everyone else. Trump’s immigration policies are merely a reflection of the hate promulgated by the capitalists. But we can unite and defeat them as we are many and they are few. We must start by taking the fight to the streets and say such divisions and hate started by the bosses will not stand.

The Mueller Investigation in His Role of Independent Counsel

**Robert Swan Mueller III** born August 7, 1944) is an American attorney who served as the sixth Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) from 2001 to 2013. Mueller is a registered Republican he was appointed by President George W. Bush. While a competent investigator, Mueller is unlikely to bring salvation to Trump opponents as he will never indict Trump. Mueller is a slightly right of center politician. Mueller lacks the inclination or personality for a toe to toe struggle over the presidency. Mueller will publish a report and liberals will lament the facts in the report but the Senate will never impeach even if the House brings articles of impeachment. And Trump will never be shamed into resigning. The Mueller investigation is a worthless sop to critics of Trump and the world will continue to turn with this being nothing but an interesting footnote of history.