Last week I started a new series called “The New American Resistance.” Taking its name from a comment Bruce Springsteen made last weekend, these weekly posts aim to a) help us stay informed on the events unfolding in America and b) urge readers to add their voice to the chorus calling out for justice. I don’t know where we’re heading as a country but I know I have to do everything I can to aid the growing struggle for justice.
Please remember, as you read, your voice and your support is what our New American Resistance needs. Be aware. Know what is happening in the country all around you. Be vocal. Call your representatives every week, letting them know what matters to you and how you want them to vote, and talk to family and friends about what’s going on. Be active. Demonstrations and protests have grown across the country in the last few weeks. Bodies send a message and I urge everyone to join, march, and cry out with others seeking justice as often as you can. Lastly, and most importantly, be loving. If we hate those who disagree with us or are causing these problems, then we have already lost. We have become that which we are fighting.
Love triumphs. Love transforms. Love will always win in the end. That’s the message of the Beatles, the mystics, the poets, and – most importantly – the cross. So I ask, as you commit to the Resistance, that you also commit to LOVE. We can never accept or legitimate the hateful, inaccurate, and dangerous mindsets and policies being embraced but we must be uncompromising as we challenge the injustice around us with the fire of truth in our words and love in our hearts. It is a slow, painful, and arduous approach but it is the only way to find true and lasting peace.
So what’s going on and what can we do?
THE CONFIRMATION VOTES FOR SOME OF TRUMP’S CABINET PICKS ARE HAPPENING THIS WEEK. THIS IS SOMETHING OUR SENATORS HAVE DIRECT CONTROL OVER. THIS IS IMPORTANT. CALL YOUR REPRESENTATIVES (and Facebook/Tweet them too).
1) Scheduled for Tuesday Vote – Betsty DeVos as Secretary of Education. I say this as a teacher in a private school who, in theory, would greatly benefit from school choice vouchers – she is dangerously under qualified. There are countless articles outlining all the ways she is a danger to education as, “she has no professional experience in public schools, never attended public schools or sent her own children to public schools. She also has not held public office.” She also wants guns in schools, won’t commit to upholding aggressive prosecution of sexual assault on college campuses, and thinks states should choose whether or not they want to provide assistance to special needs students.
2) Scheduled for Tuesday Vote – Jeff Sessions for Attorney General. This is a man who felt the Voting Rights Act was “intrusive” and “unnecessary.” He doesn’t champion same-sex marriage or gender equality. He feels illegal immigration is an “existential threat” to this country. In 2009 he voted against a hate crimes bill that extended federal hate crimes protections to those assaulted because of their sexual identity. In 2006 he testified before Congress saying, “Fundamentally, almost no one coming from the Dominican Republic to the United States is coming because they have a skill that would benefit us and would indicate their likely success in our society.” The potential head of the Department of Justice has made a career of not standing by the marginalized and oppressed.
3) Scheduled for Wednesday Vote – Scott Pruitt as the head of the EPA. The potential head of the Environmental Protection Agency denies climate change, sees the EPA itself as superfluous, and has indifferent at best and hostile at worst attitudes towards protecting clean water and clean air. To be as subtle as I can, CLIMATE CHANGE IS REAL. IT IS SCIENCTIFICALLY PROVEN. PERIOD. Yes, we can discuss how we affect the environment and how best we can fix our negative effects, but WE CANNOT DENY CLIMATE CHANGE WITH ANY LEGITIMACY. Essentially this is like me becoming the Chair of the Math Department and not believing in addition.
4) Possible Wednesday Vote – Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State. Let’s start here, in 2013 the Kremlin gave Tillerson the Russian “Order of Friendship.” Don’t we already have a dangerous amount of Russian puppets in the White House? Add to this the fact that he’s notoriously weak on acknowledging human rights violations, prefers military activity first to economic sanctions, has a questionable history with his lobbying/deal making when he was CEO of Exxon Mobil, and is also shaky on whether or not humans are causing climate change (spoiler alert, we are) and you have a rough choice for Secretary of State.
Looking beyond the Cabinet selections…
5) Obviously the Muslim Ban went into effect on Friday. Despite the administration’s claims to the contrary, the ban is nothing like what happened under Obama in 2011. Second, the ban is clearly unconstitutional. Third, it’s proved even more insidious than first expected as those being detained are being asked to revoke their legal status under the guise of sending them back home to clear it up with the actual intention of kicking out those who have the legal right to be here. Lest we think this is only an immigration/refugee thing, tragically a Texas mosque was set on fire hours after the Muslim Ban was signed. THIS is the consequences of legitimizing this way of thinking.
Disturbingly tonight, Sally Yates, then-acting Attorney General, said she would not enforce the ban. She said, “I am responsible for ensuring that the positions we take in court remain consistent with this institution’s solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right. At present, I am not convinced that the defense of the executive order is consistent with these responsibilities nor am I convinced that the executive order is lawful.” Hours later, Trump fired her, saying she’d “betrayed” his administration and was “weak on boarder control.” This is a dangerous tone to strike. It says this is what happens to those who oppose him. However, his despotic act aside, here are some practical (and important!) things you can do right now to stand against the Muslim Ban.
6) Then there’s Steve Bannon’s late night appointment to head the National Security Council, demoting the director of national intelligence and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Ummm…what? This is dangerous. Before Trump, Bannon was head of “Breitbart News, a far-right media outlet that has promoted conspiracy theories and is a platform for the alt-right movement, which espouses white nationalism.” Historically, “Political strategists have never before participated in National Security Council principals meetings, because the NSC is supposed to give presidents nonpartisan, factual advice.” Far from nonpartisan, Bannon is a neo-nazi. Period. While they are making a concerted effort to alter their image to gain legitimacy, the alt right Alt Reich is a Nazi movement. If we call it anything else, we are granting them the dangerous legitimacy they so desperately covet.
Frustratingly, our representatives don’t have direct control over the Muslim Ban (which will primarily be fought in the courts) nor the appointment of Steve Bannon. Still, we can (and should!) urge our representatives to oppose these actions in any manner they can.
7) The Mexican Border Wall however is another story. Mexico won’t pay for it (despite Trump’s delusional campaign promises that they would) and it will cost taxpayers $12-15 billion after the $100 million the Department of Homeland Security already has to give to the project. Also, Texan Congressman Will Hurd (R), whose district covers 800+ miles of border has made clear, “The facts have not changed. Building a wall is the most expensive and least effective way to secure the border. Many areas in my district are perfect examples of where a wall is unnecessary and would negatively impact the environment, private property rights and economy.” On the environmental note, the proposed wall would also threaten 111 endangered species.
It has been an increasingly scary week. The news seems to happen faster than any of us can keep up with. We are trying to figure out how to process/respond to one thing and five more pop up the following day. But we can’t let this stop us. The battle for justice is only just beginning. As I said last week (and will say every week from here on out), 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.
Also, I ask – and will continue to ask – for your prayers. When you look to the Abrahamic faiths – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – we see clearly that God is a God of justice, inclusion, and love. If we are to serve God, we must serve the same. And if we are to be successful in our struggle for justice we must do so with God by our side. Why must we stand with immigrants, refugees, the marginalized, and for protecting the earth and stand against intolerance, racism, and fear? As we see in Matthew’s account of the Last Judgment in 25:37-40, “Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you? And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’” Jesus should be our model. He followed the path of loving revolution in the name of the oppressed and marginalized to the cross. And when Rome threw the worst they had at him – a violent execution in the form of crucifixion – we get the resurrection, God’s ultimate sign that love will always be more powerful than hate, fear, death, and corruption.
With that in mind, we’ve reached the end of the post. I want to end each of these posts with a little music. If history has taught us anything, it’s that our music both captures and fuels our movements of social change. It also makes us feel good too! This week’s featured song is “Warrior People” by Nahko Bear of Nahko and Medicine for the People. (Who, you may’ve noticed, was also featured above (Special thanks to my brother David for introducing me to this AMAZING musician!!)) I love this song because it both advocates the essential need to “I will learn to be peaceful…I will pray for compassion” while also remaining ready to fight for justice, “When war comes to my door you know I will be blasting.” This, to quote another song of Nahko’s, is how we “make the movement move.” We must be peaceful. We must pray for compassion. But we must fight for justice in all we do.
Here is what was covered last week in the first edition of the New American Resistance.
Also, please take a moment to read this powerful and moving piece of Kalie’s – Dismantling Shades of Gray: Sometimes There Is A Distinct Difference Between Right and Wrong – on the reality of the Muslim Ban.