Good morning! It’s a bright and beautiful Saturday morning here in Massachusetts as people from all across the state prepare to head into Boston and other regional meeting areas for today’s National Day of Action events. Today, we come together to raise our voices and say, “NO to detention, No to deportation and No to separating families at the border and here in Massachusetts!” I’m glad to have this opportunity to get out and take action, to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with people who believe in the version of America that I believe in, because—damn—this week was a tough one.
By the time Justice Kennedy announced his retirement on Wednesday, I was starting to feel more exhausted and hopeless than I have since this whole debacle began. And then, on top of that, I felt waves of shame and guilt for feeling so tired and worn down because I’ve only been in this fight for a short time compared to so many others. The news was all bad. The atmosphere was one of defeat and despair. The future did not look bright.
But, that was just one moment. That was just a blip on the radar screen of progress and change. And it was okay to take that moment … to mourn, to grieve, to wail and keen against the injustice and the horror and the deep cuts being made to the fabric of our society. We need to step back for a minute now and then. We need to gather our thoughts and our strength, remind ourselves how we got here and why we’re doing what we’re doing. We need to look at the big picture and remind ourselves, yet again, that the arc of the moral universe bends toward justice. (Thank you, MLK.)
I did not claw my way out of the pit on my own. No, for all its flaws, it was Facebook that came to the rescue … well, to be more precise … the friends I have on Facebook. Even as a fresh wave of terrifying and depressing headlines hit my feed, it was countered by another wave of uplifting and kick-in-the-pants posts inspiring me to get up off the floor and get back in the fight. I was so grateful to each friend who shared one of these posts. It’s a cliché, but they were like a life ring being tossed my way just as I was about to sink under the surface of a dark sea.
So, this week, instead of our usual collection of happy headlines, I’d like to share with you some of the posts that helped me through this horrible week and left me feeling ready to jump back into the fray. I hope that you find them as inspiring as I did, and I hope that—whatever you’re doing today—you can find a way to keep your spark of rebellion and resistance shining in the dark to light the way for yourself and for others. We need you.
Be strong. Be safe. We’ll see you out there.
P.S. Please note that the language in some of these quoted passages is not suitable for work or small children, but sometimes that’s an appropriate response.
Thank you to Mark Silver for getting this one into my feed:
I hate “we’re fucked.”
I mean, I don’t want to shame anyone who has said it, thought it, or posted it. I have too. But as a philosophy, as a statement of belief, I hate it. Because it means you’ve given up.
We are absolutely NOT fucked.
Things are so bad. This country has taken a turn that I could never have predicted. It is absolutely fascist, nativist, and extremist. It’s every bit as scary as it seems.
But we are not fucked.
I read a long-form article on the Russia hacks in the New Yorker not long ago. However much you think that influenced the outcome, it was an instructive piece of journalism. There is very little indication that there was a specific political agenda that was being wished for. The goal was simple: Sow chaos and undermine the faith of Westerners in their own institutions.
This is really important to think about right now.
I have a high regard for Mueller and I think his investigation will have some influence. But don’t wait on him to save us. He can’t. And don’t wait on impeachment. I would support it fervently, but it is nothing to bank on. And especially don’t assume Trump can’t win again. He absolutely can. Our best bet – better, even, than all of our protests and actions – is actually voting.
It’s so square. It’s so old-fashioned. Many of us involved with the hard-left or anarchist scene have been trained to disregard it.
Fucking don’t. NOT NOW, guys. It is the best tool at our disposal. Yeah, you can say that they will sabotage it, reject it, whatever. “Sufficient to the day is the evil thereof.” In other words, don’t create troubles before they exist. Anything seems possible to me right now, but it remains the case – despite hacked voting machines and gerrymandering – that there is no known mechanism by which our government can deny massive voter turnout.
Take back the House in November. Then take back the Presidency in 2020. The worst thing we could do is pretend that these are givens. I never, ever, ever thought that this piece of shit could sit in the Oval Office. I was so humbled by my error. Therefore I assume he could take it again – I know he could – unless we accept the threat as real.
When we say, “We’re fucked,” we roll over. We defeat ourselves. We do their job for them. Don’t do that. We are NOT fucked. We are in a fight. It sucks. It’s hard. People are suffering. The earth is suffering. It will get worse.
You know, since everyone loves the Nazi comparisons, there were people during the HEYDAY of the Third Reich who NEVER said, “We’re fucked.” They said, “We’re in a fight.” And you know what’s interesting? Nazi Germany went from the worst regime in the world to a liberal democracy within a lifetime.
Look at Japan. Take the historical view. Stop pretending that the worst of what’s happening now is what is going to always happen. This is what is happening RIGHT NOW. That’s all you know. If you think it’s going to be this way forever, read a book.
Countries slide into fascism for long periods. It happens. Countries also have short-term extremist right-wing governments. Happens in Europe all the time. They get voted out. The threat remains. The threat of fascism will remain in America in a way it never has before. It’s a real movement. But we’re not fucked. Not even close. We can get off the ropes in the mid-terms and knock them out in 2020. But only if we stop saying that we’re fucked, and start seeing this as a fight.
I’m no Pollyanna. Things are so unutterably bad that I walk around in a constant state of nausea and horror. But you have to take the historical view, and you can’t lie down and say we’re doomed, or else they have beaten you.
Again, I don’t want to shame anyone who says, “We’re fucked” as an emotional reaction. I get it, I really do. But if you say that as a historical reality, then you SHOULD be ashamed. We are so far from being fucked. It’s time for that warrior spirit, from everyone.
Our best bet, actually our only realistic bet, is to mobilize the vote. There has always been a silver lining to this situation. I have always hesitated to state it, for fear of sounding like I am not taking the horror seriously. Fuck that; I do. But there has always been the possibility, there remains the possibility, that this is a time when our country faces up to its worst reflection, sees it truly, and breaks the fucking mirror. A time when the last bastion of white power and male supremacy and oligarchy attempts to enact fascism, but the antibodies of the American system and American multi-culturalism kick in to reject it.
Where do you want to stand in that equation? As someone who rolled over because we’ve have had two awful years of shit that much of the world has already experienced many, many, many times over, so you decided that we’re finished and done for? Come on. Look at Europe, look at Africa, look at Asia. Back and forth with this shit, and much worse.
I have your back. Get up. Here’s my hand. Let’s fight.
It can’t become hip to give up. It can’t become hip to say we are fucked. Look at history. People have been so much more fucked than us, and won. If you truly believe we are finished, I’m sorry, but you were the first to fall. Stick a fork in you, turn you over, you’re done. I don’t want to see you do that, if only for the selfish reason that we need you.
Do all the protests, do all the direct action, make all the phone calls, then mobilize in October and November. That’s when we can get off the ropes and start punching again. Take the long view, my sisters and brothers. Don’t let them take you out of the fight.
And if you need me for anything, I am here.
And from Dan Rather, another inspiring perspective that reminded me the fight isn’t over. This week was tough. It was brutal. But it’s not the beginning of the end. It’s time to gird our proverbial loins and take up our weapons of choice: love, tolerance, speaking truth to power, raising our voices in protest, marching, calling (incessantly calling!) our legislators, and VOTING. We must stand together and march forward – step by step. Every little effort matters and every little effort counts.
From Mr. Rather:
For decades, Republicans have been able to have it all ways. Promise a radical reactionary rethink of American democracy to their rabid base, and hide behind a court that protected them from what would be a very unpopular set of policies with the general public. Well no longer.
Do we really want to outlaw abortion? We may soon know. Do we really believe we can attack gay rights and other rights at unprecedented levels? We may soon know. Do we really believe that our corporations should have unfettered power and workers have relatively none? Here again, the movement is already afoot.
The farce is shattered, the fig leaf has disappeared, the obfuscations have been replaced by clarity. And what is in its place is a very unpopular President stoking the flames of a massive backlash.
I do not say this to be Pollyannish. The president and his supporters have a lot of power, and tens of millions of fervent members in their base. But we have seen a growing realization from not only moderates but conservatives who still care about the constitution and recognize how perilous is the threat of the modern GOP. Look at Michael Bloomberg pledging tens of millions of dollars to elect Democrats. Look at opinion writers who have preached for the GOP in the past say now is a time to elect Democrats. Look at men and women of power and fame who are arguing that this cannot stand.
I know there is a feeling among many progressives that they have lost, that the future is a foregone conclusion. They see the forces arrayed against them on the battlefield of justice and feel the doom of certain and impending defeat. But turn to your left and right and see the long lines of fellow citizens. Look behind you and see the formidable artillery of wealth and power that is on YOUR side. Take a deep breath and feel the cool air of hope and justice in your lungs, and then march forward.
And there was this, from Rebecca Solnit:
I am in Paris. Which was occupied by the Nazis and survived, though not everyone did. I keep running across little plaques memorializing where a member of the resistance died. One at the Tour St. Jacques, built more than 400 years earlier. Being in these old places I always have a sense that things have happened before, that these cities and their civilizations are battered old survivors. Paris has been occupied by Prussia, by Nazi Germany, has had its revolutions and commune and May ’68, and long before that it was invaded by Vikings.
Maybe what you get from that is a sense that something will always be next and nothing lasts forever.
Sometimes I think that the Trump regime is going at it so furiously because they know their time to destroy is limited, though I don’t know how limited, and neither do they. It will not last forever. Something will come next. Which does not mean that everything will be okay, because so many refugee babies and children and instiitutions and everything inbetween have been harmed already, and some people have already died of despair in this phase of our history.
What comes next nobody knows in part, in large part, because it’s up to us, because civil society is the great counterforce to tyranny, and because more and more people are getting ready for they know not what. When we held our demonstration at ICE the Friday before last, a man came who had last been at a political demonstration at the Free Speech Movement in Berkeley in 1964, with a friend who had last demonstrated in 2003. People are getting ready.
L.A. Kauffman, who you should all follow in this troubled time, just wrote (link in comments): “The scale of protest under Trump, thus far, has certainly been extraordinary. Researchers with the Crowd Counting Consortium have tallied more than 20,000 separate demonstrations over the period from January 2017 through May 2018, involving something on the order of 11 million to 16 million total participants. That’s more people protesting than at any previous time in U.S. history, including the most tempestuous years of the Vietnam antiwar movement.
“What’s more, it’s not just the size of these demonstrations that’s been unprecedented. It’s also their geographic reach — with protests being staged in record numbers of locations around the United States. A major day of action against Trump’s immigration policies is planned for this Saturday, June 30, with more than 600 demonstrations being staged all around the country, taking place in more than 80 percent of the nation’s congressional districts.
She continues ,”Until now, though, protests against Trump have mostly been marches and rallies: legal, permitted events… It’s suddenly ramping up, though, as a growing number of people are now ready to do more than march….”
People didn’t know how to be in the Resistance, how to overcome Nazis or if they ever would; they just did what made the most sense and acted with extraordinary courage.
Eight days ago, I wrote: “Do it in faith. Do it knowing that the consequences will not be foreseeable. Do it knowing that all these look like nothing beforehand. Winston Churchill: “During that war we repeatedly asked ourselves the question, “How are we going to win?” and no one was able ever to answer it with much precision, until at the end, quite suddenly, quite unexpectedly, our terrible foe collapsed before us.” Do it remembering that we did not know the Berlin Wall would fall, that #metoo would erupt and a thousand patriarchs would fall, that Nelson Mandela would not die in prison, that marriage equality would proceed like wildfire around the world, that Ireland would vote for abortion by a landslide last month.”
One of the reason that many people inside and outside government have hesitated is that there is no precedent for this. We have not had a foreign power corrupt an election, or quite such a clownish would-be tyrant take power or seen an administration occupy the seat of power as though they are conquerers of an enemy state that must be punished, dismantled and weakened. We have had some very bad presidents, not long ago. Unprecedented reminds me how much we don’t know what happens next. But the best case scenario is that we make it ourselves. That process has already begun.
It is entirely possible for us to win on a scale that transforms the country. If we act.
And Rebecca’s piece led me to this piece from L.A. Kauffman, of which she wrote on Facebook, “My latest for The Guardian: ‘The resistance has been massive, persistent, and ubiquitous, but with few exceptions, it’s been curiously reluctant to use the stronger tools in the toolbox of nonviolent action. We’ve used our voices to decry this national charade, but mostly we haven’t been using our bodies to disrupt it or shut it down. With millions of us in motion and the stakes so very high, the time may have come for that to change.'”
You can read the full article for The Guardian here.
Of this one, I wrote:
This was published in 2015, but is just as relevant today:
“This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.
I know the world is bruised and bleeding, and though it is important not to ignore its pain, it is also critical to refuse to succumb to its malevolence. Like failure, chaos contains information that can lead to knowledge—even wisdom. Like art.”
Read the full essay, No Place for Self-Pity, No Room for Fear.
And then there was this short video clip of our very own Elizabeth Warren cheering on the hundreds of women who protested in the Capitol on Thursday. Of this one, I said, “Our Senator. These women. This moment. So proud.” And Warren said, “Hundreds of women are rallying together to demand the Trump Administration #EndFamilySeparation. This is what democracy looks like. #WomenDisobey”
And then there was this gem from “Auntie Maxine.” I believe it was recorded at an event that took place in February, but I may have to play it on a daily basis to get through these next few months. Thank goodness we have women like Senator Waters on our side—that woman knows how to give an inspirational speech!
Here’s what it says:
If you are a praying person, pray.
If you are a marching person, march.
If you are a speaker, speak.
If you are a leader, lead.
If you are a writer, write.
If you are creative, create.
Pray, March, Speak, Lead, Write, Create — Do something positive, because this tidal wave of insanity will not stop without our voices and our loving actions.
Keep going until something sticks.
Marci Moore © June 2018