War and Peace (which is not very difficult to read, once you understand that it's a couple of bittersweet love stories wrapped around the Napoleonic Wars) is the voice of an invaded land defying a pompous tyrant. No book is more relevant for the USA in 2017.
Protest or politics: it's not an either/or. Sure, we need effective action from our political leaders, but that does NOT mean public protest is a waste of time. For most of us, it's the streets or oblivion. We choose the streets.Main Image:
"... nor would this star have shaken the shackles off,
bursting with light, until there is no place
that does not see you. You must change your life."
As pacifists, we stand in absolute opposition to Donald Trump. This is not only because he has pledged to begin Iraq War Three (and has hired a cabinet that will do so) but also simply because we know the American people will not endure a tyrant. This will be a long fight, and we will need to summon for ourselves the wisdom and courage that sustained other great pacifist fighters like Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi and Emmeline Pankhurst. This is a fight we cannot lose.Main Image:
I attended a panel discussion yesterday on "A Trump World Order: What To Expect From US Foreign Policy", sponsored by the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung at the Asian-American Writers Workshop in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City. I found a packed crowd of nearly 100 attendees in a tight physical space. The concerned and defiant expressions on many faces in the room suggested that we believed our planet to be in a tight physical space too.
It's good news that anti-Trump events in New York City are drawing packed standing-room-only crowds (I experienced the same thing a few days earlier in Brooklyn), and often the greatest challenge at these angry gatherings is how to focus our outrage regarding Trump's plans for America. Should we talk about the illegal Russia-hacked election? Or about Steve Bannon's vile racism, or about Mike Pence's antique politics of gender repression, or about Paul Ryan's Ayn-Rand inspired plans to funnel more wealth to the tax-avoiding 1% by stealing from us middle-classers who actually pay taxes? How can we possibly choose which outrage to scream about first?
I was glad to find a panel discussion focusing on foreign policy, as I believe the potential global horrors of a Trump administration influenced by Michael Flynn, John Bolton, Dick Cheney and Erik Prince to be among the most astoundingly urgent dangers we currently face. I was hoping to find a group of panelists as fired up as I've been, and I immediately felt confused and let down when panelist Ingar Solty placidly suggested that Trump might turn out to be an isolationist.
Ingar Solty of Germany's Das Argument is a sharp observer of international events, and it was generally a privilege to hear his well-informed thoughts about the Donald Trump phenomenon. But it was perhaps because Solty had just flown in from Europe for this event that his tone did not seem to reflect the incredible urgency and rage that many Americans feel in the face of Trump's assaults on truth. Trump is masterful at using contradiction and blatant mistruth to obscure his agenda, and his claim to be a near-isolationist who opposed the Iraq War in 2003 is nothing but a classic Trump head-fake. I was sorry to hear even one of this event's panelists taking this falsehood on face value instead of giving it the derision it deserves.Main Image:
How brave are you? Are you willing to get arrested? To be beat up? How much will you risk to protect your fellow Americans, and your loved ones and yourself?Main Image: