So…it’s been a week huh? I was planning on writing a fun post about how much I’m loving The Totally Awesome Hulk today but I can’t get my head around it. Reading the news for the last five days has taken me on an emotional journey. I’ve been spending much time in thought and conversation with loved ones about where our country is heading. I’ve been struggling to understand, let alone find my place in the events that are unfolding. As I do this, I keep thinking of something Bruce Springsteen said during a concert in Western Australia last Sunday.
“We stand with you. We are the New American Resistance.” Those were his words. We are the New American Resistance. It resonated. It made sense. The struggle has begun. Now, we have to choose a side. Do we accept this or do we fight? We cannot ignore what is happening. As Archbishop Desmond Tutu said, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” My heart, my conscience, my faith won’t allow me to do that.
Last week I wrote that we must be vigilant and prepared yet we needed to wait to see where Trump’s administration would take our country. Yes, I was cautious and scared…but still hoping (even if it seemed unlikely) to be proven wrong. Well, Trump has been in office for six days now. In that time (in no particular order) we’ve seen:
2) a complete abandonment of even the pretense of telling the truth and/or operating within reality through the administration’s enthusiastic use of “alternative facts” or as they are more commonly called…lies.
3) an executive action to advance the approval of the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Keystone Pipeline regardless of environmental risks or treaties with the Standing Rock Sioux.
4) an executive action to begin construction of the U.S./Mexico border wall (which he’ll ask Congress to pay for) and an aggressive action to find and deport illegal immigrants.
5) an executive order to suspend immigration for at least thirty days from predominantly Muslim countries (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen) and indefinitely block all refugees from Syria and refugees from the rest of the world for at least 120 days. Then, when our refugee program resumes, it would be cut by more than half in the number of people we let into our country.
6) four journalists arrested and charged with felonies (under the laws against rioting in D.C.) for simply covering the unrest/protest during the Inauguration on Friday.
8) the White House website stripped of the pages for climate change, health care, LGBTQ+, and civil liberties as of noon last Friday.
9) the White House website also deleted the military family support page.
10) a request that Congress fund an expensive look into voter fraud to try and defend his ego-driven lies about his landslide victory.
11) the complete shutdown of the phone comment line for calling the White House which exists so we can voice our opinions.
12) a move to eliminate open Internet with his choice for FCC Commissioner which would cost the U.S. protection from practices like pay-for-priority access, blocking and throttling and, for those who can’t/won’t pay, they will receive slower access with less information.
13) serious consideration of eliminating arts funding that would essentially end both NPR and PBS.
14) a budget plan that guts seventeen federal agencies to snub Democrat priorities yet does little to nothing to affect the national debt.
15) a dangerous endorsement of the belief that torture works and should be escalated.
16) lastly, let’s not forget, he is in violation of the Constitution and has been since the moment he was sworn into office.
During the election many of Trump’s saner (?) proponents tried to justify their support of him by echoing the chorus, “He can’t really be that bad can he?” Sadly, it seems our fears were justified. Since the election, many of his still ardent supporters have clamored, “Just give him a chance! Wait and see!” Well we’ve waited and we’ve seen. And this is nowhere near acceptable.
All of this in five days. Granted, the above laundry list of conscience churning, heart breaking, social sins isn’t law yet (thank God). Much of it has to go through Congress and much of it can (and will!) be fought in the courts. But this is the tone his administration is setting. This is their choice. What will be ours?
This doesn’t even take into account the slew of potentially dangerous actions Republicans are taking at the state level. To name just a few, Arizona Republicans have moved to ban teaching social justice courses or holding social justice related events at schools and South Dakota lawmakers have invoked emergency powers to overturn an anti-corruption law that prevented lawmakers from receiving more than $100 a year from lobbyists, essentially making bribes okay. Also, tragically, there has been a dramatic rise in bullying incidents – primarily targeting LGBTQ and minority children – across the country since the election heated up. This is happening all around us. What will we choose to do?
For myself, I am giving my all to this idea of the New American Resistance. I will fight, with everything I have, for the country I believe in and the life and dignity of every human being. As should go without saying, I will never condone violence in this struggle. As I write often here, violence only begets more violence. No good can ever come from that. Rather, we must turn to our models from the past – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Dorothy Day, Gandhi, and of course Jesus – and utilize organized civil disobedience and nonviolent resistance when necessary. But before that and at all points along the way, our most powerful weapon will always remain our voice. We must speak out always and in all ways.
Last Friday, in an interview with the Spanish paper El Pais, Pope Francis declined to comment on President Trump directly, saying, “Let’s see. Let’s see what he does and then we will evaluate.” However, he did offer a sobering warning for our country. Speaking of the 1930’s he said, “Germany was looking for a leader, someone who would give her back her identity and there was a little man named Adolf Hitler who said ‘I can do it’…Hitler did not steal power. He was elected by his people and then he destroyed his people.” The Germans at that time also wanted to protect themselves with “walls and barbed wire so that others cannot take away their identity…The case of Germany is classic…[Hitler gave them a] deformed identity and we know what it produced.”
Last week I advocated using all the avenues we have available to us to challenge injustice and advocate for justice. In that spirit, I will be devoting one post a week on this site to recounting the news, pointing out any moments of injustice I’ve seen, outlining what’s before Congressional vote in the days to come, and urging action. Every post will always have a link to easily call your representatives (local, state, national) to voice your opinion. I want to do my part to help us all mobilize our voices, to say this isn’t okay and to demand our representatives serve us and not the systemic injustices that try and hold sway. This is a moment history will look back on and judge us for. This is a moment to act.
For me, personally, this isn’t even primarily a political issue. It’s one of faith. I’ve practiced my Catholic faith my entire life, worked as a Youth Minister, and now teach Theology. I’ve studied theology for fifteen years now. I’ve read the Bible too often to feel comfortable doing anything other than acting in this manner. From God liberating the Israelites from slavery and bondage to the prophets crying out for justice on behalf of the oppressed and marginalized to Jesus and his Kingdom of God seeking to radically transform the world in the image of God, God seeks justice. If I’m to have any authenticity in my own faith life, I must do so too. This has driven my personal politics, my personal life choices, for my entire adult life. When I take my faith and tie it to the vision of America that was born with the Founding Fathers and has grown with us for over 200 years, this is what I have to do.
I encourage anyone interested in helping speak out about and challenge the injustices growing around us to do so. If you’d like, reach out to me in the comments and/or message me on Twitter. You’re certainly welcome to send me news you’d like to see included! I am only one person and, as such, have a finite ability to track these things. If you happen to be a blogger or vlogger yourself, you’re also welcome to take what I post in these weekly calls to action and share it on your own site too if you feel so called. But, most of all, I hope you’ll take advantage of the direct link that is in this post and all the posts to follow to call – and keep calling – your representatives. Democracy works if we participate. We can’t give up our belief in that or we’ve already lost the struggle.
Astute readers may’ve noticed there’s nothing about comic books in this post. Well, you can expect that once a week from now on. The comic fun will still be here, but this will too. I’ll assume the logical question is why? Why would a comic book blog devote one post a week exclusively to the growing political turmoil around us? Because the Land of Hope and Dreams is where we live and what we’re fighting for. Sing us home Bruce…