This weekly series aims 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. We must let the country and the world know what we value and what we will fight for. We must loudly proclaim who we are and who we want to be. We must be aware. We must be vocal. We must be active. We must be loving. This is how we will triumph and how we will transform our lives, our nation, and our world.
This week Common is our musical inspiration. Since his work on the brilliant film Selma, Common’s music has increasingly embraced issues of systemic injustice with powerful clarity. There is a prophetic fire to his words and, as with all great prophets, a call to his listeners to see what’s going on and do something about it. Racism has changed form in the U.S. over time – and we have made some progress in battling it – but sadly it’s still a seething cancer in our country. A blatantly racist message, appealing to those who shared it and (more disturbingly) those who didn’t see it as a deal breaker, was part of what allowed Trump to win. To challenge that hate, here is “Letter to the Free,” a beautiful song illustrating the painful reality of racism in our country while calling us all to rise above it.
Here’s what’s coming up that we need to talk to our representatives about or call/email/mail other people in government/power:
1) Despite saying they’d wait until 20 February to hear what the American people thought, the Army Corps of Engineers seem to be going ahead with the Dakota Access Pipeline. This and the Keystone Pipeline pose environmental dangers and continue to prioritize oil (as opposed to cheaper, greener options) as a means of fuel in this country.
2) In a tragic, yet poignantly-timed reminder of what we’re playing with in regard to the DAPL and the Keystone Pipelines, a Texas pipeline just spilled 600,000 gallons of oil. Let your representatives no WE DON’T WANT THESE PIPELINES. We can get cleaner, greener energy for less while also bringing new jobs with them.
3) The battle against dangerously unqualified Cabinet appointments continues. Last week we took two hard hits as Betsy DeVos was confirmed as Secretary of Education, Jeff Sessions for Attorney General, and Tom Price as Secretary of Health and Human Services. Price was confirmed in a middle-of-the-night vote, a tactic used to help cut public opposition. One of the biggest fights still out there is Scott Pruitt – a climate change denier who wants to dismantle the EPA…the very organization he’s supposed to head. Call your representatives and tell them to VOTE NO ON PRUITT.
4) In Trump’s first phone call with Vladimir Putin he “denounced a treaty that caps U.S. and Russian deployment of nuclear warheads as a bad deal for the United States…When Putin raised the possibility of extending the 2010 treaty, known as New START, Trump paused to ask his aides in an aside what the treaty was…Trump also talked about his own popularity, [two U.S. officials and one former U.S. official] said.” So his lack of knowledge is yet again on display and he wants the U.S. and Russia to start building nuclear warheads with less restrictions. The Senate must approve all treaties negotiated by the president as well as approve the money he’d dump into new nukes so call your reps and TELL THEM TO VOTE NO.
5) On Wednesday the House will vote on a bill – the WINGMAN Act – that would essentially violate medical confidentiality laws by allowing Congressional employees to access veterans medial files. Yes, they are saying it will help get veterans their benefits faster but it has the potential to be used in dangerous, nefarious ways too.
6) The House – in H.J. Res 42 – is also voting on whether or not to repeal the Department of Labor regulation that allowed states to administer drug tests to those applying for unemployment only if they were fired for using a controlled substance. In practicality, it has the potential to open up benefits to profiling and unfairly punish those who “look like” a drug user and who may be forced to live in the lower socio-economic status.
7) The House will also vote to void the Alaskan National Wildlife Refugee Rule – in H.J. Res. 69 – and threaten our country’s wildlife by no longer protecting the wildlife resources or ecosystems for bears, wolves, and a great many other animals. If we are to have any sort of integrity to our role as stewards of creation, this must be opposed.
These aren’t matters our reps will vote on directly but they are still important news we should be aware of:
1) In great news, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously refused to reinstate Trump’s travel ban! The issue isn’t over (nor is it simple) but this is a hopeful reminder that the system of Checks and Balances our Founding Fathers worked so hard to craft still work.
2) We have more great news thanks to Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) who filed a resolution of inquiry on Thursday. Essentially this will force the White House to release all the documents pertaining to Trump’s taxes, financial dealings past and present, any foreign entanglements he may be involved in, and probe his shady (and potentially treasonous) relationship with Russia. This could be the foundation for impeachment. The last time one of these was filled was with Bill Clinton in 1995. Now, if an impeachment process begins it’s a long road. Also, the simple removal of Trump, while a victory, doesn’t negate our need to battle injustice in this country. Still, it feels good to see someone fighting for the Constitution.
3) Russia has taken frightening actions this week. Without the threat of U.S. military intervention, it seems as if Putin is preparing for war. He’s scheduled a military “training actions” that may signify plans to invade Lithuania and he’s told the Russian air force to prepare for a “time of war.” Moving troops to the edge of Russia’s sphere of influence in Eastern Europe may be coincidental…but it may also prove far more insidious.
4) Also related, it’s looking more and more likely that Michael Flynn, Trump’s National Security Advisor, may’ve discussed Obama’s planned sanctions/expulsion of Russian diplomats with Russian ambassador to the United States Sergei Kislyak during the campaign. Not only would this illustrate a new facet to how deeply Russia is involved in this administration but it would also be cause for his removal from his post. Plus it’s illegal.
5) Illustrating our media’s bias against Muslims, the trial of “self-professed Christian minister” Robert Doggart began in Tennessee last Monday…with little to no coverage. Despite the lack of coverage, “Undercover FBI agents allege that Doggart was plotting to travel to upstate New York to kill Muslims there using explosives, an M-4 assault rifle and even a machete to cut the infidels to shreds.” This is certainly not a Christian act. This is a terrorist act. Yet the media won’t refer to it as such. And while we can all see the horrible actions of this man and realize they aren’t a reflection on Christianity as a whole nor all Christians, many in this country still feel justified in demonizing Islam in just such a way.
6) Let’s not forget the Alt Reich head Steve Bannon’s still on the scene. Michael G. Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 2007 to 2011, serving with both Bush and Obama, has openly said Steven Bannon has no place on the National Security Council. The appointment’s dangerous, just as Bannon is dangerous.
7) The Lie-Spewing-Fountain that is Kellyanne Conway continued to embrace blatant lying as modus operandi as she stuck to her whole imaginary “Bowling Green Massacre” to justify Trump’s travel ban.
8) Plus, Sean Spicer cited a terror attack that never happened as justification for the travel ban too.
9) The White House and their Propaganda Machine Fox News joined forces in an attempt to discredit the protests and demonstrations rising up around the country. Calling them “violent” and “fake” as they try to undermine all of our voices crying out for justice. This is a tactic those in power have used for ages to discredit those seeking justice.
10) We saw the same move by Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to silence Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) early this week as she challenged the nomination of Jeff Sessions. But the people have rallied around her and she’s now, perhaps, the clearest leader Democrats have at the moment.
To help make the lying/attempted silencing a bit easier to take, we all need to watch this. At least something hilarious and AMAZING has come from all Trump’s tweeting.
1) I’ve said how much of my issue with the Trump administration’s policies is anchored in my faith. Here’s a thoughtful, well researched/substantiated piece raising some important questions all Christians must consider. Has the time come to call Trumpism a heresy? After all, we can’t serve Christ and follow the Gospel with our whole being if we must put “America first!” in all things.
2) Here’s an interesting piece written by a lifelong Republican about why they’ve joined the Resistance. We must remember, this isn’t an issue of Liberal vs. Conservative nor Democrat vs. Republican. The danger Trump represents is far larger than that.
3) Lastly, much has been made of comparisons between Trump’s actions/policies/ride to power and that of Hitler. Historian Ron Rosenbaum, who’s written extensively on Hitler, has written this piece about the validity of comparing Trump’s actions with Hitler’s. This is an important read.
Now I turn to my faith, Jesus, scripture, and those who have followed those messages best to remind myself why I fight, how I fight, and who I fight for:
El Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero, who boldly challenged systemic oppression in his country until he was assassinated in 1980, reminds us, “We not only read the Bible, we analyze it, we celebrate it, we incarnate it in our reality, we want to make it our life. This is the meaning of the homily: to incarnate the Word of God in our people. This is not politics. When we point out the political, social, and economic sins in the homily, this is the Word of God incarnate in our reality, a reality that often does not reflect the reign of God but rather sin. We proclaim the Gospel to point out to people the paths of redemption.”
The hashtag, #WhyIResist was trending on Twitter the other day. Well this is why I resist. There are political, social, and economic implications to the Gospel. We cannot hope to be authentic followers of Jesus if we don’t seek to make this message a reality, to – as Archbishop Romero tells us – make the Word of God incarnate in our reality.
The battle for justice is only just beginning. Join the Resistance! Give it all you have! 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. Love will triumph if we have faith. We can’t give up our belief in those principles or we’ve already lost the struggle.
I’ll end with another of Common’s songs, “Black America Again.” As opposed to the traditional format, the video is a twenty-one minute short film executive produced by Selma and 13th director Ava Duvernay and directed by Selma‘s lead cinematographer Bradford Young. It’s a beautiful tribute to what it means to be black in America and I encourage you to watch it when you have the time. Until then, may we continue to fight the good fight!