Ten Days and Counting

Ten days after the insurrection that trashed the U.S. Capitol and killed five people, here’s a brief recap:

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Which Side Are You On?

I know a lot of people who don’t want to take sides. They don’t like reading the news. They claim that all politicians or parties are alike, so they don’t want to be involved with any of them. They want to be neutral, uninvolved. If you are one of my friends or relatives who have tried to avoid taking sides or reading the news, this is a message to you. 

Neutrality is not an option today. Being neutral means acquiescing in the rampant white racism and violence that threatens to destroy our country.  

Taking sides today does not mean choosing between Democrats and Republicans. Taking sides today means choosing between our elected government and violent white nationalists who are trying to overthrow it. Taking sides means rejecting lies and supporting democracy.  

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Yes, Plotting Continues. No, I Won’t Repost Parler. Here’s Why.

This is part of an amazing series created and generously shared by Ricardo Levins Morales for this time of crisis. Check out the whole series on his Facebook page and at his studio https://www.rlmartstudio.com

The motley coalition of white nationalists, neo-Nazis, and other Trump loyalists continues to pose a real and present danger to the country. They plan armed actions next Sunday and on January 20, Inauguration Day. They have organized actions in Washington, DC and in state capitols across the country. They want nothing less than to overthrow the U.S. Constitution and government. 

You can see their posters and videos and calls to armed action on the alternative social media sites they have set up. I will not repost them here. I will not repost them anywhere. Many (but not all) of their accounts, including the accounts of their Führer, have rightly been banned from Facebook and Twitter. Their poisonous plotting and propaganda carry real danger. Words and images have power. 

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Insurrection and White Privilege

Photo by Rosa Pineda, May 2020, DC, Creative Commons license

The biggest threats to the United States come from within: from right-wing terrorists, from white nationalists, from the Proud Boys and Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis among us. These are the people who stormed the U.S. Capitol yesterday, who smashed their way through locked doors, trashed offices, waved Confederate flags, took down the U.S. flag and replaced it with a Trump flag, urinated in a Congressman’s officestole computers with classified information, and left without being arrested, vowing to return another day. After they left, law enforcement found pipe bombs and other weapons. 

Yesterday’s attempt to overthrow the government should surprise no one. This was an insurrection, a violent rebellion against constitutional government.

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January Crises

This month may be the most critical month in U.S. history since the Civil War.

Consider the past few days:

On Saturday, Trump called Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and spent an hour on the phone trying to convince, cajole, and threaten him to switch votes and give Trump a win in Georgia. To cheat. To commit a crime. To “find” Trump votes that do not exist. Raffensperger refused. 

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Stock Market Rises on Human Misery: Fight Back!

This is part of an amazing series created and generously shared by Ricardo Levins Morales for this time of crisis. Check out the whole series on his Facebook page and at his studio https://www.rlmartstudio.com

The stock market finished 2020 more than 16 percent higher than it began. No matter that 340,000 people died. No matter that the real economy, the economy of human beings, is an economy of misery.  

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Honoring George Floyd

Mural on University Avenue

People have many ways of honoring and respecting George Floyd in death. Almost as many ways as he was disrespected and dishonored in life. A carefully reported, in-depth telling of his life story by Star Tribune reporter Maya Rao and her team, published on December 27, honors and respects George Floyd as it tells his story, set in the matrix of life stories and stories told in interviews of 38 people who knew him. 

Twitter gives 280 characters to tell a story. Facebook posts might be longer, but only a paragraph or two will show up on the front page. Newspaper opinion columns are usually limited to 800 words max. The average newspaper article is even shorter. A long-form analysis runs long at 1,200 words. “George Floyd’s Search for Salvation” clocks in at more than 15,000 words. Add to that the stunning photography, and videos, and you have a portrait of a man and his life and struggles. You also come away with a deeper understanding of the all-American disease of racism from Texas to Minnesota. 

I wish that everyone could read this story. Now, in the slower time of this last week of the year, I urge you to read and meet George Floyd. And to reflect on what you and I can do to honor his memory by changing our state, country, and world. 

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Living in a Kleptocracy

After four years of ripping off the taxpayer for everything from bar bills to floral arrangements, after funneling millions of taxpayer dollars to his own businesses, after 142  golf outings and counting, Donald Trump has found a new way to grab even more money on his way out of office. 

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Celebrate, And Keep Working

Courtesy of TwitterPeople celebrate at Black Lives Matter Plaza across from the White House in Washington, DC (courtesy of Twitter)

November 7, 2020—Today is a day to celebrate. Next week, we get back to work, rebuilding our country. 

Joe Biden will become the 46th President of the United States on January 20, and Kamala Harris will become Vice-President: the first woman, first Black person, and first Asian person to hold that office. That’s a win. That’s a big win, even for those of us whose first choice candidate was someone else. The Biden/Harris win, and especially Kamala’s win, is a defeat for racism and xenophobia. 

We did not win as big as we hoped. We did not win as much as we hoped. Today is still a day to celebrate.

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Naming Racism: The Ocoee Election Day Massacre

From account of Federal Writers Project in 1936.

One hundred years ago, on Election Day in 1920, White people in Ocoee, Florida reacted to Black people voting with violence that escalated to lynching and burning and destruction. The Ku Klux Klan lynched July Perry, a prosperous and civically active Black man. They burned black churches and homes and murdering uncounted other Black men, women, and children. This was a massacre that is misnamed a “race riot.” 

Words have power. “Race and Violence in Our Cities” was one of the topics for the first presidential “debate.” This Trump-tilted topic combines the dog whistles of “urban” and “crime” and “race.” Calling the Ocoee massacre a “race riot” misnames the KKK massacre of Black people who dared to vote. The 2020 debate topic, one hundred years later, misnames systemic racism in today’s United States in the same way.

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