Tag Archives: resistance

Thanksgiving 2017: Keeping Hope Alive

Rev. William Barber II leading a song at the end of a news conference
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Laurie and Debbie say:

For the first ten years of this blog, we wrote a Thanksgiving post, listing good things that had happened in the year since the previous Thanksgiving. (We know  the shameful history of Thanksgiving very well; we also like taking stock of good things.)

Last year, less than three weeks out from Trump’s election, we couldn’t bring ourselves to write that post. Instead, we wrote about how we were feeling, and how we were redirecting the blog in resistance.

This year has been one of the roughest years in American political history, and next year is probably not going to be much better. The catalogue of atrocities, cruelties, threats, and stupidities of the current White House and Congress is amazingly long.

Debbie listens regularly to Deray McKesson‘s podcast, Pod Save the People. Deray interviews an extraordinary variety of people on that show: politicians, activists, cooks, fashion photographers, you name it. The interviews are all done through a political lens, and he always asks the same question:

“What do you say to people who have given up hope, people who’ve been fighting forever and feel like nothing changes, people who think the fight is useless?”

That question has as many answers as Deray has interviewees. We each have our own answers, but that’s not where we’re going today. Instead, we want to mention just a few of the literally thousands of initiatives around the country and elsewhere, all fighting against the forces of hate  and contempt–the forces which right now are undeniably running a large portion of the world.

#Take a Knee: Colin Kaepernick, the quarterback who led the the San Francisco 49ers to the championship playoffs in 2012 and 2013, decided not to participate in standing for the U.S. national anthem, as a direct response to police murder of black people. He carefully and respectfully chose to go down on one knee rather than any other form of protest. His motives have been viciously misrepresented, and his career is on hold. At the same time, he spawned a nationwide movement: from sport to sport, from pro sports to colleges to high schools, from men’s sports to women’s sports, and (although not enough) from people of color to white people. When Trump got on the anti-takeaknee bandwagon, even some rich white football team owners fought back. And that fight shows no signs of stopping.

After the nakedly inhumane conditions in the Grenfell Tower in London resulted in a fire that caused the deaths of at least 80 people, Jeremy Corbyn and the British Labour Party are calling for an expenditure of at least one billion pounds for sprinklers in comparable buildings. It’s too soon to say if this practical proposal by Corbyn will succeed, but Labour’s star has been rising, and we predict that Corbyn’s call will see some response.

One of the factors fueling the Republican power imbalance is flagrant gerrymandering in many states, including Michigan. The Supreme Court has the opportunity to change this, but so do the citizens of the gerrymandered states. And in case you thought they didn’t care, a group in Michigan trying to put a limit-to-gerrymandering state constitutional amendment on the ballot has collected well over the 315,000 signatures they need, much faster than they expected, and without paying for signatures.  Almost all state ballot measures have to pay for signatures, so this reflects how many people in Michigan are aware of gerrymandering, and want to do something about it–even though it’s an issue that in 2016 was thought to be technical and boring.

#MeToo: The last month and a half has seen an unprecedented series of downfalls and firings — for sexual harassment. We are still in the early days of this process, and no one knows how it will shake out. However, it is a tectonic victory when famous and powerful men are losing their jobs for treating women (and sometimes men) like sexual party favors. Alyssa Milano was the immediate instigator of the #metoo hashtag which took over Twitter and Facebook for days and days, and we also pay homage to Tarana Burke, who started the phrase more than ten years ago.

Disabled people are a particular target of every authoritarian, purist movement in history, and the Trump White House and Republican congress are marching in lockstep with that history. Disabled people are also at the heart of all kinds of resistance, and in 2017 many disabled folks have covered themselves with glory, taking risks that few of the rest of us are prepared to take. Here’s just one example.

Ten protesters, most of whom have disabilities, were arrested …  in the Denver office of Republican Sen. Cory Gardner after staging a sit-in that lasted nearly 60 hours. They are part of a larger network of activists who believe they are literally fighting for their lives in their efforts to stop the Republicans’ health care bill.

The activists are members of ADAPT, a national disability-rights organization, which staged a similar protest in the Washington office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on June 22.

The protesters, which included four people who use wheelchairs and two with cerebral palsy, arrived Tuesday and sat in a 15-by-12-foot room for more than two days.

The Republicans have long claimed some kind of incomprehensible moral high ground, where they will go to any length to protect an unborn baby, but will drag a 10-year-old out of the hospital to be deported, where they will extol the value of military service and starve veterans, and so on and so on. Fortunately, there are real moral movements developing in the U.S., and Reverend William Barber is leading one of them.

 Barber has set for himself the daunting goal of spreading the Moral Mondays model nationally to resist what he views as the dangerous economic and social policies of the Trump administration.

He’s heading efforts that will train an army of activists in the nation’s most conservative states and put the issue of poverty front and center in American politics. Barber said he sees his efforts as the unfinished work of King, who was assassinated in 1968 shortly after announcing a campaign to improve the lives of poor people.

When we think about all of these people putting their feet, their passion, and their money where their mouths are, supporting all of these grassroots movements and hundreds more, hope is a little easier to come by.

Pull the Football; Save the World

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Debbie says:

We don’t usually advocate specific political actions on Body Impolitic, but I thought this was important enough to share. Rachel Manija Brown is directly addressing one of the issues that keeps so many of us awake at night. Sometimes it’s important to pull the football away from a child who doesn’t know how to use it.

Are you worried about nuclear war? I am too. Keep reading for a way to stop it with one simple action.

Maybe you feel small and powerless. But many snowflakes make an avalanche. If we all move in the same direction, we’ll be unstoppable. We will only fail if we choose not to act.

Trump has the power to order a pre-emptive nuclear strike for any reason – or no reason at all. He’s always shadowed by a man with a briefcase of codes, called the “nuclear football,” to enable him to launch nuclear missiles at any time. It would take less than five minutes from his order to the missiles being launched, and no one could stop him. Republican Senator Bob Corker says Trump is leading us into World War III. I believe him.

But we don’t have to stand by and let it happen. Let’s pull away that football!

Rachelmanija goes on to outline the very simple steps she recommends. The linked post has a simple and clear set of instructions to call your representative and senators, all of whom have the opportunity to vote on existing legislation (H.R. 669 in the House, S.R. 200 in the Senate) that will prevent any president (but especially this one) from pre-emptive nuclear strike without a declaration of war.

How to save the world:

1. Contact your representatives in Congress. Ask them to co-sponsor the bill NOW, before it’s too late.

2. Contact EVERYONE in Congress who might want to prevent a nuclear war. Usually people only speak to their own representatives. But with the fate of the entire world is at stake, it’s worth contacting everyone who might listen.

3. Promote the Pull The Football campaign on social media. Trump isn’t the only one who can use Twitter. Get on it and start tweeting #PullTheFootball.

Share this post on Facebook [and/or …] put up your own post on whatever social media you use. Ask your friends in person. If you know anyone in the media, contact them to get the word out. If you’re not American, you can help by publicizing the campaign on social media that Americans follow.

The post goes on to explain how to call, and why it’s important to call more than once. It is clearly written, and the urgency rachelmanija feels comes through in every word.

My representative and one of my senators have co-sponsored the bill. Today, I will call their offices and thank them, and start making other calls. I hope you will too, and that you will also share rachelmanija’s post with your network.

If not us, who?