Sunday, April 30, 2017

100 Days of Trump, A Thousand More Days of Resistance: Who Will Define What Counts As Protest?

Photo Wendy Lynne Lee, Harrisburg, 4.29.17
Yesterday signaled the 100th day of the Trump regime. 

And while he celebrated at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex with a crowd of 7000, hundreds of thousands more from Harrisburg and across the country took to the streets to signal their enduring resistance to The Donald's erratic autocratic kleptocracy. 

Inside the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex, Trump returned to performing the only stunts he knows: campaigning for an ego whose voracious appetite demands countless fawning acolytes and supplicants.

Photo Wendy Lynne Lee, 4.29.17
But while Trump is busy ravaging the media, promising the wall, lying about healthcare, refusing to hand over his tax returns, playing loads of golf at our direct expense, whining about how hard it is to be president, smooching it up with Vladimir Putin, and wallowing in the blind veneration of followers apparently prepared to follow him down the rabbit hole of poverty wages, rejected health insurance claims, a decimated environment, potential nuclear war, and climate change, millions of others are right outside protesting--every single day. 

And every day includes Trump's 100th day.

Indeed, I was very proud to march with the several hundred resistance fighters along the "free speech" zone on Forster Street in Harrisburg yesterday--an unusually hot day, and a long one. Many of these intrepid patriots had already spent their day protesting The Donald at the People's Climate march in Washington DC. 
Photo Wendy Lynne Lee, Harrisburg, 4.29.17

But we made the trek to Harrisburg because we know that our presence must be as relentless as our message: 

Photo Wendy Lynne Lee, Harrisburg, 4.29.17
Resign Mr. Trump. Take your entire incompetent, corrupt, anti-democratic cabinet with you. Do it for your country. Do it for your self-respect. Do it for your friends.

The likelihood, of course, is that Mr. Trump won't take our advice. Why would he when he and his children stand to profit to the tune of millions upon millions of dollars so long as he can keep just enough of us bamboozled for the next four years--minus 100 days?

It is, however, this prospect--the unimaginable damage this administration could create--that must inform the resistance.

Photo Wendy Lynne Lee, Harrisburg, 4.29.17
While I applaud the endurance and commitment of my fellows yesterday and everyday in what has now become the permanent protest, we must also muster equally resolute resistance to the Trump regime's readiness to criminalize civil disobedience.

Indeed, if we allow the Trumpsters to convince us that refusing to follow a police command to disperse is an act of violence--when it is not-- we will neither be taken seriously when we insist we've had enough of the administration's fascism, nor will we be able to recruit other citizens to our cause.

Refusing to move--sitting down and locking arms--is not an act of violence.

It is an act of solidarity--en masse, protecting one another, in justice.

It is a recognition that the violence is all on the other side.

Photo Wendy Lynne Lee

The denial of healthcare is an act of violence.

Bombing Yemeni children is an act of violence.

Vomiting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere is an act of violence.

Refusing to move is an act of courageous commitment to justice, to the future, and to each other. 

And the fact that the police are just doing their job is irrelevant. Of course they are. This is what they do in a police state. Fact is, our refusal to acquiesce to the violence that's becoming institutionalized as the Trump kleptocracy is a moral duty, and that is what we must say to the police as they mace us, tear gas us, arrest us, and carry us away.

Photo Wendy Lynne Lee, 4.29.17
To be clear, I'm not suggesting that yesterday's event in Harrisburg was that day.

To be even clearer in the interest of thwarting those who seek to use any excuse they can find to criminalize dissent, I do  not advocate violence--or even the appearance of it.

Photo Wendy Lynne Lee, 4.29.17
We cannot afford that. What we must keep at the forefront of our resolve is that when the police tear gas us, rubber bullet us, arrest us, and haul us away, we are simply choosing to absorb and thereby make absolutely public the violence of this fascist state. 

We symbolize the turn to tyranny of the Trump regime simply by refusing to accede to it.

And that day must come, and it must come soon. The day when we decide collectively, deliberately, and without flinching to refuse to move

That day where we must sit down, lock arms, and refuse to move. 

Where we sit down in order to stand up.

That is the moment when we personify a democracy.

That is the moment where the freedom Trump so blithely debauches as an advertising strategy becomes real and unimpeachable.

That is the moment we liberate our children.

That is the moment where we become "The People."

Wendy Lynne Lee

Photo Wendy Lynne Lee, 4.29.17

For the full set of photographs, please see:

Friday, April 7, 2017

Trump's "Beautiful Babies" and the Profiteering Geopolitics of Death

"Beautiful little babies," he said.

It might be tempting to think that confronted with the carnage left of children's bodies by al Assad in Syria, President Trump has somehow grown into an adult, or emerged from his endless campaigning a decent human being capable of caring for some entity other than himself.

But this would be a grave mistake, and I fervently encourage my readers to resist this invitation to amnesia.

Indeed, we forget just what kind of self-absorbed reprobate Trump is at the cost of our own claim to moral agency.

And we need to remember that he is directly responsible for at least 261 deaths in  Yemin. 

Did the U.S. have a moral duty to respond to the likely chemical warfare attack?


Should it have been through bombing an airfield?

Absolutely not.

This is so for at least three reasons:

1. This action will escalate the violence in Syria. al Assad will respond. It will be with violence. People will die. And we all know it.

2. The choice of action--cratering an air base near the scene of al Assad's act of atrocity--was a political calculation. And while this does not mean necessarily that it cannot have been an act of righteous retribution, the fact that there were and are far better alternative responses (see below) makes plain that this bombing was a calculated message to Putin--but far far more important to Xi Jinping of China  whose armies are far larger, and whose influence is far greater.

Indeed, were I vulnerable to conspiracy theories (and I'm not), I'd wonder about the incredibly fortuitous timing of the Chinese Premier's visit and the opportunity to flex this military muscle. To be clear--this isn't to suggest that Trump knew about al Assad's plans, but it is to suggest that the decision to engage in military action of any kind was surely even more attractive with Xi Jinping at the swanky Mar-a-Lago dinner table. 

That any of then could eat should give us pause.

But we'll set this aside.

3. Here's the alternative: 

Provide countries like Jordan the financial capacity and expertise to accommodate more refugees. Pursue this humanitarian objective aggressively and very publicly.

Announce immediately that the United States is prepared to take at least 100,000 Syrian refugees--particularly, but not exclusively, from the war torn regions of that benighted country.

Announce immediately that the Muslim travel ban has been rescinded.
 Establish a humanitarian aid arm of the president's cabinet devoted to helping refugees resettle in whatever country they have chosen.

Announce a new U.S. policy that the United States no longer bombs civilian populations--especially in Yemin, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Syria.

Announce the abandonment of drone strikes.
Announce a re-invigorated U.S. commitment to the reduction of greenhouse gases in light of the indisputable fact that one of the major factors in the Syrian Civil War was climate change accelerated drought.

It's an easy--easy--thing to clench our fists and denounce the killing of "beautiful babies." It's another to actually stand for decency, compassion, and justice. 

The courageous thing to do is to refuse to participate in perpetuating the very geopolitical violence that always demands an equally violent response.

The courageous thing to see is the global economic system and its multinational corporate kleptocrats that thrive on war.

But we're not going to open our eyes that wide. Why?

Because behind all the hand-wringing about "little babies" are the oligarchs, the nationalists, the white supremacists, and the kleptocrats--including Trump--who are poised like the vampires they really are to convert the bodies of the dead into the blood-money upon which they feed.

"Beautiful babies"?

Don't be fooled. Trump's response is no more about compassion--much less justice--than the response of his analogues in Syria and Russia.

What it is about is that collective psychosis of masculinity for whom torturous death offers the great aphrodesiac. 

What it's about are multinational money interests--weapons manufacture, fossil fuel extraction and transport, surveillance firms, communication technologies, the privatizing of clean water, the control of food security, the engineering of subjugation. These are the vampires surely salivating at their own Mar-a-Lagos over the capital conquest only geopolitical implosions of violence can offer.

"Beautiful babies"?

Hardly. Beautiful power. Beautiful profits. 
Beautiful perpetual war.

Wendy Lynne Lee