As a revolutionary Black nationalist whose socialism predates my facial hairs, I have no problem saying Donald Trump is not my president. Neither is the current occupant of the White House, nor were any of the Democrats, Republicans and Whigs that preceded him. On a chilly November day in 2009 a newly-created coalition, of which I was a co-founder, marched on the White House to denounce and renounce Barack Obama as a tool of white supremacy and the imperial war machine. “Obama, Obama, you can’t hide – We charge you with genocide,” we shouted, indicting the First Black President for the crimes he was busily committing in service to his masters on Wall Street. The Black is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations had been formed less than two months before, largely to demonstrate that not all Black people were bamboozled by the slick corporate politician from Chicago, elected one year earlier in the nation’s first billion dollar presidential campaign. As the Coalition’s founding press release stated:
Black and Brown people continue to suffer the brunt of un/under-employment and predatory loan scandal crises. Military spending under Obama has increased as have the warfare this nation continues to export to Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Venezuela and Colombia. Mass incarceration, police brutality and political imprisonment remain rampant…
The Black is Back Coalition warned of the “traps set by Obama’s so-called ‘post-racial’ politics that perpetuates the same oppressive militarist agenda well known during the Bush regime.”
To paraphrase Fidel Castro, history has vindicated us. Obama mobilized NATO air forces and jihadist proxies to destroy Libya, which had previously enjoyed the highest living standard in Africa. He redeployed these same al Qaida terrorists to Syria, killing 400,000 people, displacing half the surviving population and bringing the U.S. to the very brink of nuclear war with Russia. This so-called “Son of Africa” has effectively occupied most of the continent through a U.S. Military Command (AFRICOM) that was less than a year old when Obama was sworn into office. The African Union provides diplomatic cover for the CIA-run “peace keeping” mission in Somalia, while U.S. conventional forces have infiltrated the militaries of all but two African nations. The holdouts, Eritrea and Zimbabwe, are under constant threat of regime change. Obama joined George Bush and Bill Clinton in perpetuating the 20 year-long slaughter in the Democratic Republic of Congo that has claimed more than six million lives, the worst genocide since World War Two (“Obama, Obama, you can’t hide, We charge you with genocide!”) With the eager assistance of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Obama baldly abetted a Nazi-spearheaded coup against the elected government in Ukraine—and then blamed Moscow when Russian-speaking Ukrainians resisted, provoking a “New Cold War” that could turn hot in an instant. At the same time, Obama “pivoted” to militarily confront China, whose economy is already, by some measures, larger than the U.S. The jihadist war in Syria should also be seen as a theater of imperialism’s last ditch offensive to encircle “Eurasia” in hopes of preserving U.S.-based multinational corporate domination of a “rigged” system of dollar-based world trade. Just as the Black is Back Coalition warned, Barack Obama was the Black face of imperialism—a change of color without a difference. He tried to hand off the controls to Hillary Clinton, who got six million votes less than he did, and lost. Back in 2007, when Obama and Clinton were pretending to be ideological opponents—as cookie-cutter corporate Democrats often do—we at Black Agenda Report wrote that “There’s not a dime’s worth of difference” between the two. Every decent, peace-loving person on Earth should be glad to be rid of both of them. Humanity would probably not survive another year of either one. Donald Trump is also a danger to humanity, like every other U.S. chief executive since Truman nuked Hiroshima and Nagasaki. If words mean anything, Trump starts off posing less of a doomsday international menace, since he claims to want to establish talking, rather than shouting, threatening, nuke-rattling relations with Russia and China, while Clinton’s version of “reset” was an armed confrontation with Russia over the skies of Syria. Of course, all that could quickly change. Trump may be a “party of one” among Republicans in Congress and even in his own cabinet. For those who fear Trump’s “fascism,” the threat level depends on how he uses the arsenal of repressive tools bequeathed to him by the Obama administration. These legal, infrastructural and technological instruments of the national security state are fascist in their intent; they were made for the purpose of tracking, disorganizing, neutralizing and locking up dissidents, and disinforming the public at large. Thus, President Obama and his predecessors were fascist-minded, whether you call their administrations operatively fascist or not. The Obama administration would not have pushed a bill through Congress allowing the U.S. military to detain American citizens without trial or charge if he had not anticipated using it. He would not have feverishly upgraded an omnipresent national and global surveillance apparatus if he did not anticipate putting it to the task of martial rule. Fascist-minded is all that can be said of Trump, at this point, as well.
The shocking Donald Trump victory in the 2016 election has many people wondering what if it had been Bernie Sanders facing off against Donald Trump. How tantalizing does that race seem now? Naturally we hear if Hillary couldn’t beat Trump, how would Sanders? But a little while ago these same voices were convinced Donald Trump was even more unelectable than Sanders. And whatever liabilities a Sanders general election campaign would have, lack of enthusiasm for the candidate wouldn’t be one of them. How refreshing would that be? There is a lot to be said for at least going down with a candidate you can be proud of.
Jeffrey Goldberg epitomizes Hasbara Culture
This two-part article will look at one of Bernie Sanders’s more formidable foes in the Democratic primary. Sanders was up against what I have come to call “hasbara culture.” Hasbara culture is an aggressive and proselytizing understanding of the world. It is a social construction of reality by a minority within the Jewish community. As I have shown in my last couple of articles, Hasbara culturalists experience the word differently than the average American Jew does. This article will try to shed light on why Bernie Sanders provoked such enmity from the people whose understanding of reality is shaped the most by Hasbara culture.
There are two main reason why Bernie Sanders was such a threat to Hasbara culture. The obvious one is his very progressive position on Israel/Palestine. Hasbara Culture prefers its liberals to be progressive except for Palestine (or PEP). Listen to Hillary Clinton’s speech to AIPAC last March and you will understand why the most important Hasbara culture journalist in the country Jeffrey Goldberg pushed her candidacy so much.
The second and more interesting thing we explore in this article is why the one group that was trafficking in hate against Bernie Sanders were other Jews. It wasn’t Trump’s neo-Nazis, who hasbara culturalists like Goldberg were so meticulously tracking, who was waging war against Sanders’ “Judaism.” It seems the neo-Nazis couldn’t care less about Sanders’ Jewish background. By contrast, Jeffrey Goldberg and Jaime Kirchick and other Hasbara culturalists seemed to care for little else when attacking the senator from Vermont. Let’s start with the reaction to Sanders’s position on Israel/Palestine.
Recall what now seems like ancient history: during one of the Hillary-Bernie debates, Sanders placed pressure on Hillary from the left on Israel. He caused quite the sensation. It was a totally new and exciting discourse started by a major candidate in a presidential race.
The ADL was displeased. The most influential organization in America concerned with anti-Semitism and human rights leaped into action.
Image of an apartheid wall posted by the Princeton Committee on Palestine, which was being scrutinized by the Clinton campaign as it put together a letter against BDS.
During the presidential campaign, we ran a lot of posts based on Wikileaks releases from the Clinton campaign that touched on Israel; but Wikileaks saved one of the best for last, the day after the election: an email from Stu Eizenstat, an ambassador to the Jewish community, to Clinton’s foreign policy wunderkind Jake Sullivan scrutinizing activism in favor of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) at Princeton– or as Eizenstat put it, “a case study of BDS at Princeton.”
It is highly discouraging to read this email, because it shows the Clinton campaign looking into BDS activism as some type of sinister force when it could have been spending its energy on better things. And not to do too much fingerpointing, but Palestinian solidarity should have been included in Democratic Party activities. But at every turn the Clintonites shut it down, and all to get the backing of big pro-Israel donors.
This battle is bound to continue inside the Democratic Party in the shambles of the election– especially as Jewish activists organize to try to block Rep. Keith Ellison’s bid to lead the party. Scott Roth puts his finger on the issue for the party:
WASHINGTON — Matthew Horn, a software engineer from Boulder, Colo., canceled Christmas plans with his family in Texas. Nancy Sundin, a social worker in Spokane, Wash., has called off Thanksgiving with her mother and brother. Ruth Dorancy, a software designer in Chicago, decided to move her wedding so that her fiancé’s grandmother and aunt, strong Trump supporters from Florida, could not attend.
The election is over, but the repercussions in people’s lives may be just beginning as families across the United States contemplate uncomfortable holidays — or decide to bypass them — and relationships among friends, relatives and spouses are tested across the political divide.
Democrats have dug in their heels, and in some cases are refusing to sit across the table from relatives who voted for President-elect Donald J. Trump, a man they say stands for things they abhor. Many who voted for Mr. Trump say it is the liberals who are to blame for discord, unfairly tarring them with the odious label of “racist” just because they voted for someone else.
“It’s all one big giant contradiction in my eyes,” said Laura Smith, 30, a small-business owner in Massachusetts who was attacked on Facebook by a relative for voting for Mr. Trump. “She’s saying to spread the love,” Ms. Smith said. “But then you’re throwing this feeling of hate toward me, your own family member.”
Many Democrats harbor their own feelings of being under siege.
“It felt like a rejection of everyone who looks like me,” said Ms. Dorancy, 29, a naturalized American who immigrated from Ghana about a decade ago. “It was a message to me that ‘You are not equal in our eyes. You do not deserve a place in our country.’”
So she and her fiancé looked at their guest list and decided to hold their wedding in Italy, a distance too far for the relatives to travel. “I just don’t want them around me on the most important day of my life,” she said.
Some relationships remain intact, of course.
Kate Kingery, a Republican in Denver who sells sporting goods, has kept good relations with her Democratic friends, despite their despondence over the election. One is coming to spend a few days in the mountains with her this week. Ms. Kingery, who grew up on a farm in rural Minnesota, said she sympathized with her Democratic friends’ worries.
“I understand people’s fears, I really do,” she said. She would not say whom she had voted for. She added: “I really don’t think it’s going to be that bad. I don’t think they are going to change gay rights, women’s rights or other people’s rights.”
Conversations on those and other delicate issues can be both important and painful, but the reality of American life is that they are happening ever more rarely. Over the past several decades, the United States has become increasingly segregated by class, with college-educated people marrying, living and socializing apart from less-educated Americans. The result has been that Americans have lost touch with one another, sociologists say, and helps explain why each side is so baffled by the other.
“If you went to Thanksgiving dinner 50 years ago, you’d be very likely to have dinner with people from a different walk of life,” said Robert D. Putnam, a professor of public policy at Harvard and the author of “Our Kids,” an investigation of class divisions in America. “Today, there are far fewer people who are different from us around that table.”
For upper-middle-class families like his own, “every single person will have a college degree or currently be in college,” he said. “That class homogeneity was not true of my family a generation ago.”
As the cultural divide becomes deeper, fewer Americans cross it.
Misty Bastian, 61, an anthropologist at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa., is originally from rural Tennessee. Since serving in the Air Force in the 1970s, she has lived all over the world and earned her Ph.D., two milestones that have set her apart from most of her extended family.
She said that she had sensed a “parting of the political ways” from her family for a long time, but that her support for Hillary Clinton seemed to be “the last nail in the coffin.”
The other day, a cousin who had “Trump proclivities” put a post on Facebook that she described as “all about Trump triumphalism.”
She felt that the post was directed at her and that its message was: “You’re a liberal elitist and I don’t have to pretend now that I have to listen to you.”
Ms. Bastian added: “I feel like I’ve been living with a lot of people wearing masks, who have been hiding their true selves, and now with this vote, their true selves are more apparent.”
She has kept up visits to Tennessee, but now says she has no desire to go back.
“I don’t want to be part of the grand narrative that the ‘liberal elite’ doesn’t get the working class,” she said. “I am from the working class. I’m now pretty solidly middle class. But to my relatives, I’m elite, over-educated and too well read, an alien.”
She added: “I used to feel like I was building community, but now I feel like I’m taking part in the dissolution of it. I feel like a stranger in a strange land.”
Colin Woodard, the author of “American Nations,” a history of cultural divides in the United States, says that “we are seeing a profound disagreement about what kind of America we should be creating.” Some believe society should be organized with an emphasis on individual rights, he said, while others feel the focus should be on maintaining the common good, which requires checks on individuals. Many feel the multiculturalism so prized by liberals has made their communities harder to understand and identify with.
Patricia Adams, 69, an artist and retired nurse in Spokane, Wash., said she had voted for Mr. Trump in hopes that he would protect “our heritage.” She fondly recalls singing patriotic songs as a child in school and saying the Pledge of Allegiance.
“It was a different kind of world that we were raised in,” she said. “I know young people need to have this world now, but it’s hard. When you get old and you are looking at your will, things become more important. You hate to see your basics, your Constitution, not given the attention it deserves.”
She compared the current national argument to the one over the Vietnam War that divided Americans along generation and class lines.
“This is very reminiscent of the Vietnam time,” she said. “They want freedom. They want flowers in their hair. They want all of this, but they don’t understand what they are giving up.”
As for racism and Mr. Trump, she said, “I don’t think there’s any proof of that.” She added: “I will say that, in his generation, those old guys, most of them kind of lean towards,” and then she paused. “It was a white world.”
Her daughter, Ms. Sundin, the social worker who voted for Mrs. Clinton, said the election had left her feeling alienated from her family and her country. She said her liberal arts education and her life as a social worker, which began in 1998, had taught her tolerance and the value of being flexible, something she has passed on to her children.
She said she had recently asked her mother to stop talking to her children about politics, after an episode in which she said her mother was discussing Mr. Trump’s immigration ideas.
“I just need her to not have those conversations in front of my kids,” she said.
Ms. Adams says her daughter is just as stubborn when it comes to politics. “Nancy puts up a wall,” she said. “If you don’t vote the way she does, you’re voting wrong.” She added: “Democrats are always trying to talk you out of your ideas.”
On the day after the election, Ms. Sundin asked her brother, a firefighter who voted for Mr. Trump, to stop texting her.
“I told him I was trying to explain to my children ‘why hate wins,’” she said. “His response back was, ‘I get to explain to my children why their opinion matters.’” She has not talked to him since.
“I think I’ll give that one some time,” she said.
Ms. Sundin and her mother recently talked. They met for coffee in a Target, as is their habit. Still, Ms. Sundin has decided to spend Thanksgiving with a few friends and her husband and children, not with her extended family.
Her mother is taking it in stride.
“It doesn’t matter,” she said. “I love her to pieces. I don’t want to change anything with my Nancy. I want her to be just the way she is.”
SYNDICATED COLUMN: Trump’s Fascism Picks Up Where Obama’s Leaves Off
November 17, 2016
Donald Trump wants to deport three million illegal immigrants, and he’s willing to split up families to do it. Expect resistance: street protests, networks of safe houses, American citizens willing to risk prison to hide undocumented workers.
Barack Obama deported two million — more than any other president. Thousands of kids lost their parents. Yet demonstrations were few. Anglo solidarity was nowhere to be found. Same action, different reaction. Why? As we’ve seen under Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, progressives go to sleep when Democrats are in the White House.
Trump will be deplorable. But as the unrest that followed his victory signals, he’ll have a salutary effect on American politics: Liberals will resist the same fascist horrors for which they’ve been making excuses under Obama (and would have continued to tolerate under Hillary Clinton).
Ironically, their struggle will be made all the more challenging due to the fascist moves promulgated by Barack Obama, a president revered by liberals — but whose administration has been characterized by a stream of fascist policies.
Edward Snowden revealed that the NSA and other government agencies are spying on all of our communications: phone calls, email, texts, video, even snail mail. But the fiercest reactions came from people outside the U.S. It was 2013 and Obama was president. For the most part liberals — the political faction you’d expect to raise hell — trusted their charming first black president not to abuse his powers.
Trump will inherit Obama’s Orwellian surveillance apparatus. During the campaign, he said “I wish I had that power.”
When Obama took over from Bush in 2009, he issued a symbolic denunciation of the torture his predecessor had legitimized and institutionalized. In practice, however, nothing changed. Sending a clear message that he approved of their actions, Obama ordered his Justice Department not to prosecute anyone for waterboarding or other “enhanced interrogation techniques,” saying infamously that it was time to “look forward, as opposed to looking backwards.” He went to Langley to tell CIA agents he’d watch their backs. He refused to issue a presidential executive order banning torture by the CIA.
Trump will take over that bureaucratic infrastructure of torture, including the legal opinions issued by Bush’s White House counsel that Obama failed to annul. During the campaign, Trump pledged to bring back waterboarding and “a hell of a lot worse,” whatever that means.
Upon taking office Obama tepidly attempted to follow up on his campaign promise to close Guantánamo concentration camp. But he caved in the face of congressional opposition. Though Obama has managed to winnow down the number of inmates in America’s Cuban gulag to double digits, his lackadaisical unwillingness to expend political capital on the issue has left the camp open. It has also legitimized the formerly unthinkable practice of holding prisoners indefinitely without charging them with a crime or putting them on trial.
Trump says he’ll keep the camp open, expand it, and “load it up with some bad dudes,” including American citizens whose politics he doesn’t care for.
Part of the justification given for indefinite detention is the Bush-era Military Commissions Act of 2006, which eliminated the right of habeas corpus, the right to a speedy and fair trial enshrined in Anglo-American law for eight centuries. Under the MCA, the U.S. government can throw you into a concentration camp where you’ll never see your family or a lawyer. As far as we know, Obama never availed himself of this power.
Do you trust Trump to exercise similar restraint? Thanks to Obama’s failure to get rid of the MCA, Trump may make good on his promise to disappear U.S. citizens.
Obama has vastly expanded Bush’s program of drone assassinations of political opponents to nasty American client states like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia. His Tuesday“kill list” star chamber has issued hits against thousands of people; 98% of the victims have been hapless bystanders.
Could President Trump deploy drones against American citizens (or non-citizens) on American soil? Yes, he could, says Obama’s attorney general Eric Holder. Obama could have declared that he — and future presidents — did not have that power. Better still, he could have asked Congress to pass a law banning domestic drone killings. Instead, he went golfing.
From what we know of Trump’s likely cabinet appointments, the next few years promise to devolve into a dystopian nightmare of authoritarian repression the likes of which few Americans ever imagined possible. As we head into the maelstrom, it will be tempting to look back fondly upon the Obama years as a period of relative calm and liberalism.
But don’t forget the truth. Fascism under Trump will merely continue Obama’s fascism with a smiley face — a fascism that we let him get away with for far too long.
(Ted Rall is author of “Trump: A Graphic Biography,” an examination of the life of the Republican presidential nominee in comics form. You can support Ted’s hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.)