Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Brigit Anna McNeill on “Winter’s Way”


Winter’s way is one many humans have become fearful of. For it leads us to meet what is held within, the company we keep in the empty moments.

The stillness of winter does not match many people’s constant want for noise and distraction. Yet it is so important to keep a balance, an inward, outward breathing cycle.

Winter is whispering her restful deepening message into the land. Speaking it into the tree people, the plant allies, the bones of animals. Furred, winged, scaled, and two legged, and they all feel it. It is time to go inwards, to rest back in darkness and quietude. To listen and to feel what lies beneath in our own inner world.

Winter invites a period of reflection, inward work, and dreaming. Our own powerful annual retreat time, should we heed the invitation.

I wonder, what would people do if they really went with what their bodies and nature are calling them to take notice of. Would they sleep more, go to bed earlier, draw, listen, snuggle, light candles, nourish their bodies with good and simple foods?

For me this time is about lighting fires, reminding us of the fire and warmth within. Bringing light and love into our darkness, acknowledging ourselves with kindness and care. Resting, dreaming, writing, listening, and honouring what has gone by, and what is to come. Honouring our home, both inside and out, through taking notice and being attentive. Embracing with care, all we find.

– Brigit Anna McNeill
Excerpted from a Facebook post
December 15, 2020


See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Brigit Anna McNeill on the Meaning of Winter Solstice Time
God Rest Us
Winter of Content
Meeting Truth
Winter . . . Within and Beyond (2019)
Winter . . . Within and Beyond (2017)

Image: Michael J. Bayly.


Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Inauguration Eve Musings

On the eve of Joe Biden’s Inauguration Day, I find myself hoping that a Biden/Harris administration takes to heart a key component of one of their former fellow presidential candidate's platform. I’m talking about author and activist Marianne Williamson’s plan for a U.S. Department of Peace.

Marianne recently reminded people of this particular pillar of her 2020 presidential campaign by re-sharing it on various social media platforms. “That [presidential] campaign is over,” she notes, “but the campaign for a more enlightened political perspective must continue.”


Peace as an organizing principle

As its mission, the U.S. Department of Peace will hold peace as an organizing principle. Upon such a foundation it will promote justice and democratic principles to expand human rights; coordinate restorative justice programs; address white supremacy; strengthen non-military means of peacemaking; work to prevent armed conflict; address the epidemic of gun violence; develop new structures of non-violent dispute resolution; and proactively and systematically promote national and international conflict prevention, mediation, and resolution. In short, it will wage peace, something I think we can all agree in sorely needed in the U.S. and across the globe.

Time will tell if Marianne’s radical (in the best and truest sense of the word) and much-needed proposal will gain traction under President Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris. I hope so. I also hope that Marianne will be tapped to serve in some capacity in the Biden/Harris administration. If nothing else, she would make a great official adviser in any number of areas.


Inauguration Day and beyond

As for tomorrow’s inauguration, first and foremost I pray that all goes smoothly and peacefully; that there’s no repeat of the right-wing extremist violence that took place at the Capitol just two weeks ago.

And, of course, I’m relieved and happy that the inauguration will put an official end to the horrors of the Trump presidency.

As to the extent of the political progressiveness of a Biden/Harris administration and a Democratic-controlled congress, I’m choosing to stay hopeful. There are definitely some hopeful signs . . . and some not so hopeful ones. Oh, and I’m heartened by the fact that Sen. Bernie Sanders will be assuming the powerful position of chairing the Senate Budget Committee.

About this decidely good piece of news, Jon Queally writes:

[W]hile the gavel is yet to be placed in his hand, Sanders and his staff have signaled in recent days that he will be ready and willing to wield it to push the incoming Biden administration – as well as Democratic leadership in the House and Senate – to enact the kind of bold, working-class friendly policies that fueled both of his presidential runs.

Among the chief powers that the chair of the committee will be able to utilize is fostering legislation through the Senate using the budget reconciliation process – a procedural tool that will allow, even under current rules, legislation to pass with a simple majority.


I close this Inauguration Eve post with some sage words from economic advisor, professor, author, and political commentator Robert Reich.

______________________


I keep hearing that Joe Biden will govern from the “center.” He has no choice, they say, because he’ll have razor-thin majorities in Congress and the Republican party has moved to the right.

Rubbish. I’ve served several Democratic presidents who have needed Republican votes. But the Republicans now in Congress are nothing like those I’ve dealt with. Most of today’s GOP live in a parallel universe. There’s no “center” between the reality-based world and theirs.

Last Wednesday, fully 95% of House Republicans voted against impeaching Trump for inciting insurrection, even after his attempted coup threatened their very lives.

The week before, immediately following the raid on the Capitol, more than 100 House Republicans and several Republican senators objected to the certification of Biden electors in two states on the basis of Trump’s lies about widespread fraud.

Prior to the raid, several Republican members of Congress repeated those lies on television and Twitter and at “Stop the Steal” events.

Trump has remade the Republican party into a white supremacist cult living within a counter-factual wonderland of lies and conspiracies.

According to various surveys, more than half of Republican voters – almost 40 million people – believe Trump won the 2020 race or aren’t sure who won; 45% support the storming of the Capitol; 57% say he should be the Republican candidate in 2024.

In this hermetically sealed cosmos, most Republicans believe Black Lives Matter protesters are violent, immigrants are dangerous and climate change doesn’t pose a threat. A growing fringe openly talks of redressing grievances through violence, including QAnon conspiracy theorists, of whom two are newly elected to Congress, who think Democrats are running a global child sex-trafficking operation.

How can Biden possibly be a “centrist” in this new political world?

There is no middle ground between lies and facts. There is no halfway point between civil discourse and violence. There is no midrange between democracy and fascism.

Biden must boldly and unreservedly speak truth, refuse to compromise with violent Trumpism and ceaselessly fight for democracy and inclusion.

Speaking truth means responding to the world as it is and denouncing the poisonous deceptions engulfing the right. It means repudiating false equivalences and “both sidesism” that gives equal weight to trumpery and truth. It means protecting and advancing science, standing on the side of logic, calling out deceit and impugning baseless conspiracy theories and those who abet them.

Refusing to compromise with violent Trumpism means renouncing the lawlessness of Trump and his enablers and punishing all who looted the public trust. It means convicting Trump of impeachable offenses and ensuring he can never again hold public office – not as a “distraction” from Biden’s agenda but as a central means of reestablishing civility, which must be a cornerstone of that agenda.

Strengthening democracy means getting big money out of politics, strengthening voting rights and fighting voter suppression in all its forms.

It means boldly advancing the needs of average people over the plutocrats and oligarchs, of the white working class as well as Black and Latino people. It means embracing the ongoing struggle for racial justice and the struggle of blue-collar workers whose fortunes have been declining for decades.

The moment calls for public investment on a scale far greater than necessary for COVID relief or “stimulus” – large enough to begin the restructuring of the economy. America needs to create a vast number of new jobs leading to higher wages, reversing racial exclusion as well as the downward trajectory of Americans whose anger and resentment Trump cynically exploited.

This would include universal early childhood education, universal access to the internet, world-class schools and public universities accessible to all. Converting to solar and wind energy and making America’s entire stock of housing and commercial buildings carbon neutral. Investing in basic research – the gateway to the technologies of the future as well as national security – along with public health and universal healthcare.

It is not a question of affordability. Such an agenda won’t burden future generations. It will reduce the burden on future generations.

It is a question of political will. It requires a recognition that there is no longer a “center” but a future based either on lies, violence and authoritarianism or on unyielding truth, unshakeable civility and radical inclusion. And it requires a passionate, uncompromising commitment to the latter.

– Robert Reich
Why Biden Can’t Govern From the Center
RobertReich.org
November 17, 2021

______________________


Related Off-site Links:
Don’t Let President Biden “Make Us the Dupes of Our Hopes” – Norman Solomon (Common Dreams, January 19, 2021).
Senate Democrats Prove “Democracy Reform Is a Top Priority” by Putting “For the People Act” First – Jessica Corbett (Common Dreams, January 19, 2021).
Biden to “Hit Ground Running” as He Rejoins Paris Climate Accords and Blocks Keystone XL Pipeline – Oliver Milman (The Guardian, January 19, 2018).
Biden Immigration Plan: 8 Year Path to Citizenship Will Be Unveiled on Day 1 – The Associated Press via AL.com, January 18, 2018).
Biden Picks Transgender Physician Rachel Levine as Assistant Health Secretary – The Associated Press via NBC News (January 19, 2021). Joe Biden Lifted His Health Care Plan From Insurance Industry Lobbyists – Andrew Perez and Julia Rock (Jacobin, January 19, 2021).
Biden's Inauguration Gives Us New Hope, But the Movement for Justice Must Continue to Build on Its Own Agenda – Jesse Jackson (Chicago Sun-Times via Common Dreams, January 19, 2021).
When Trump’s Out the Door, Biden Tackles the Winter of Our Discontent – Michael Winship (Common Dreams, January 18, 2021).
From Paul Ryan to Nikki Haley: GOP Nightmare of Senate Budget Chair Bernie Sanders About to Come True – Jon Queally (Common Dreams, January 17, 2021).
Why Progressives Must Not Give Joe Biden a Political Honeymoon – Norman Solomon (Common Dreams, December 21, 2020).

UPDATES: Biden Takes the Helm, Appeals for Unity to Take on Crises – Jonathan Lemire, Zeke Miller and Alexandra Jaffe (The Associated Press, January 20, 2021).
Cop who Warded Off Insurrectionists at the US Capitol Escorts Kamala Harris on Inauguration Day – Dylan Scott (Vox, January 20, 2021).
Amanda Gorman Captures the Moment, in VerseThe New York Times (January 20, 2021).
A Look at Biden’s First Executive Orders in Office – The Associated Press via PBS Newshour, January 20, 2021).
We Must Act With Unprecedented Boldness to Meet These Historical Crises – Bernie Sanders (CNN via Common Dreams, January 20, 2021).
Ten Ways Biden Can Be Transformational (Even Without Congress) – Robert Reich (Common Dreams, January 20, 2021).
The Way Forward: Can the Left Push Biden to Be a Transformative President Like LBJ, FDR & Lincoln?Democracy Now! (January 20, 2021).


See also the previous Wild Reed posts relating to:

JOE BIDEN
Progressive Perspectives on Joe Biden's Presidential Run
Beto, Biden and Buttigieg: “Empty Suits and Poll-Tested Brands”
Progressive Perspectives on Big Tuesday and Beyond
Progressive Perspectives on the Biden-Harris Ticket
Eight Leading Progressive Voices on Why They’re Voting for Biden
We Cannot Allow a Biden Win to Mean a Return to “Brunch Liberalism”
Election Eve Thoughts
Election Day USA, 2020
Progressive Perspectives on the 2020 U.S. Election Results

MARIANNE WILLIAMSON
Talkin’ ’Bout An Evolution: Marianne Williamson’s Presidential Bid
Why Marianne Williamson Is a Serious and Credible Presidential Candidate
“A Lefty With Soul”: Why Presidential Candidate Marianne Williamson Deserves Some Serious Attention
Presidential Candidate Marianne Williamson: “We’re Living at a Critical Moment in Our Democracy”
Caitlin Johnstone: “Status Quo Politicians Are Infinitely ‘Weirder’ Than Marianne Williamson”
The Relevance and Vitality of Marianne Williamson’s 2020 Presidential Campaign
Marianne Williamson: “Anything That Will Help People Thrive, I’m Interested In”
Marianne Williamson and the Power of Politicized Love
“A Beautiful Message, So Full of Greatness”
Marianne Williamson on the Contest Being Played Out by Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders
“We Have an Emergency On Our Hands”: Marianne Williamson On the “Freefall” of American Democracy
Marianne Williamson on the Movement for a People’s Party
“As Much the Sounding of An Alarm As a Time for Self-Congratulations”

BERNIE SANDERS
Hope, History, and Bernie Sanders
Julian Drury: Quote of the Day – June 9, 2016
Carrying It On
Progressive Perspectives on the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election
Something to Think About – November 3, 2017
Bernie Sanders: Quote of the Day – June 12, 2019
The Case for Bernie Sanders in 2020
Thoughts on the Eve of the Iowa Caucuses
Thoughts on the “Sanders Surge”
Bernie Sanders and the Corporate Media
Bernie Sanders’ “Revolution” is Ultimately One of Values – the Values of Justice, Hope, and Love
Progressive Perspectives on Bernie Sanders’ Suspension of His Presidential Campaign

Acknowledging Where We Are

Writes my friend Phillip Clark . . .

As a tumultuous presidency draws to a close and an uncertain inauguration looms large, let’s acknowledge where we are: Donald Trump has earned the unprecedented infamy of becoming the only US president to be impeached twice. Trump’s words fueled the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol – inciting fascist white supremacists to nullify electoral results by an attempted coup, destroy federal property, and violently riot to subvert the democratic process. Five people unnecessarily lost their lives.

Mitch McConnel and Senate Republicans won’t grow the balls to convict and remove Trump before Joe Biden assumes office. We must continue to explore the possibility of holding an overt white nationalist accountable for such actions. However, impeachment, or even conviction, does precious little to confront America’s pandemic of white supremacy, which has permeated our society long before COVID-19 was declared a public health emergency. Let’s keep it real: the match was lit 400, not 4 years ago.

Black joy and celebration will be mandatory when the Trump administration has entered the history books. Complacency is tempting after enduring four years of unvarnished racism, bigotry, xenophobia, transphobia, homophobia, and misogyny emanating from the Oval Office. But it is dangerous to hail Joe Biden as a compassionate savior to “restore” American democracy. Such a concept never existed.

The US will continue to perpetuate violence and murder throughout the world during the Biden administration – affirming an imperial and colonial foreign policy as the American way. Trump's insurrection was only a microcosm of the consistent paradigm of regime change the US has conducted, or attempted, against countless states – Libya, Honduras, Panama, Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Cuba, Cambodia, Nicaragua, Haiti, Yugoslavia, Syria, Palestine, and most recently, Venezuela.

It is morally hypocritical to abhor Nancy Pelosi’s office being ransacked, or members of Congress fearfully sequestering for their lives, while lauding Muammar Ghaddafi’s open assassination or anointing Juan Guaido to undermine Nicolas Maduro as a democratically elected president.

Building collective power, through organizing, activism, mutual aid efforts, and political education, are the only lasting means of creating a society that values human rights and transformative justice. The impeachment process underscores how severely limited electoral and political institutions are in confronting racial capitalism and systemic oppression.

We must inevitably prepare for more violent insurgencies in the future. Doing so is disheartening but can never dim the brightness of our vision for a better world. The ongoing pandemic illustrates how deadly and unsustainable the ancient global order is. As we behold this ancien régime crumble before our eyes, we must learn to radically place more hope in ourselves, communities, collective dreams, hopes, talents, joys, abilities, and resilience, than in any elected official or political figure.

The road ahead is long and uncertain but the possibilities for transformation are infinite if we remember who we are and where we are going. We got this, peeps! ✊🏾 🖤

– Phillip Clark
via Facebook
January 19, 2020


NEXT: Inauguration Eve Musings



For more of Phillip Clark’s insights at The Wild Reed, see:
Heartening
In the Wake of Trump’s “Catastrophic” Election, Phillip Clark on the Spiritual Truths That Will Carry Us Forward
Phillip Clark on the “Karmic Wake Up Call” of a Year Ago
Christmas 2016: Relections and Celebrations
Saying “No” to War on Iran
Holy Week, 2020
Progressive Perspectives on Bernie Sanders’ Suspension of His Presidential Campaign
“New and Very Dangerous”: The Extreme Right-Wing Infiltration of the George Floyd Protests
Insurrection at the U.S. Capitol

Monday, January 18, 2021

Martin Luther King Jr. on the “Most Durable Power in the World”

Today we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr Day here in the U.S.

In marking this special day, the contemporary reading at yesterday’s Zoom gathering of Spirit Catholic Community, which is my faith community here in Minneapolis, was an excerpt from an article Martin penned for Ebony Magazine in 1957.

As I’m sure you'll agree, Martin’s message is both timeless and incredibly challenging. It’s also essential for our current times of political and social turmoil.

I am convinced that love is the most durable power in the world. It is not an expression of impractical idealism; but of practical realism. To return hate for hate does nothing but intensify the existence of evil in the universe. Moreover, love is creative and redemptive. Love builds up and unites; hate tears down and destroys.

The aftermath of the “fight fire with fire” method is bitterness and chaos; the aftermath of the love method is reconciliation and the creation of the beloved community. Physical force can repress, restrain, coerce, destroy, but it cannot create and organize anything permanent; only love can do that.

Yes love – which means understanding, creative, redemptive goodwill, even for one’s enemies – is the solution.

– Martin Luther King Jr.
Excerpted from “Advice for Living
Ebony Magazine
November 1957


See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Moderates, Radicals, and MLK
For MLK Day (2018)
Quote of the Day – January 15, 2017
Martin Luther King Jr. and Democratic Socialism

Related Off-site Link:
The Nation Must Have the Moral Courage to Carry On the Work of Martin Luther King Jr. – Liz Theoharis (Common Dreams, January 18, 2021).
What MLK Actually Thought About Israel and Palestine – David Palumbo-Liu (Jacobin, February 10, 2019).
The Forgotten Socialist History of Martin Luther King Jr. – Matthew Miles Goodrich (In These Times, January 15, 2018).
Dreaming Away the Reality of Racism: Media Misuse of Martin Luther King – Janine Jackson (FAIR, October 1, 2013).

Image: Photographer and artist unknown.


Sunday, January 17, 2021

Raoul Peck on Patrice Lumumba and the Making of a Martyr

Today marks the 60th anniversary of the assassination of Patrice Émery Lumumba (1925-1961), a leader of the Congolese independence movement who served as the first Prime Minister of the independent Democratic Republic of the Congo (then Republic of the Congo) and who throughout much of his adult life resisted colonialism and corporatism.

As I noted this time last year, I first became aware and interested in the life of Patrice Lumumba when I attended a special screening of Haitian filmmaker Raoul Peck’s film Lumumba at the University of Minnesota Film Society in 2000. (Today, Peak is probably most well-known for his 2016 film based on the writings of James Baldwin, I Am Not Your Negro.)

According to The Guardian, Peak’s 2000 film, Lumumba, which features French actor Eriq Ebouaney in the title role, is a “commendable effort” and a “corrective to imperialism.”

After seeing the film shortly after its release, I did some research on Lumumba and found myself moved by the images that show him captured and bound while on his way to be executed. I was struck by his calm countenance, even as he no doubt knew what awaited him. To this day I find myself wondering if I could be so brave and calm in the face of torture and death.




In commemorating the life of Lumumba on the anniversary of his murder during a US-backed coup 60 years ago, I share Raoul Peck’s reflections on his 1991 feature-length documentary film, Lumumba: Death of a Prophet, a film that came out nine years before his feature film Lumumba. These reflections were first published in the book Stolen Images: Lumumba and the Early Films of Raoul Peck (Seven Stories Press, 2012).

_________________

When [my 1988 film] Haitian Corner was shown at the Berlin International Film Festival, a Swiss producer offered me a story of a Swiss doctor in Africa, the usual descent-into-Hell, story of war and the clash of civilizations. I was curious and, frankly, relieved and happy that right then, at what you might call the beginning of my career, a producer who had seen my movie was offering me a new project. So I agreed to read the script. Eventually, I declined, but I maintained a good relationship with the producer, who later on became one of the producers for Lumumba: Death of a Prophet.

It is my belief that you can still make your mark as an artist, as a film director, with a project that falls into your lap. The challenge has to do with how you transform it. It doesn’t have to be your own idea; you can also transform someone else’s idea. And I thank God that this has always been my approach because otherwise I would still be waiting for, you know, the miracle that was going to take me to Hollywood Heaven. I would have waited forever. Instead, I have always worked, and part of my work was to take projects that happened my way and make them my own: to transform each one into something that had personal meaning for me. As an artist I don’t always need to start with my vision, but I must always end with it. And you could say Lumumba: Death of a Prophet is the most dramatic example of this. It was my second full-length feature and my first feature-length documentary.

My parents had worked for the UN in Congo and for the Congolese government for twenty-five years. My father was an agronomist and my mother worked for many years as the assistant to the mayor of Leopoldville (now Kinshasa). I’d gone to school there for three years, starting when I was eight, before we moved to New York. But my parents later moved back to Congo, and I returned often to visit them, even after they sent me off to boarding school in France.

When I started writing my letter of intent for the Lumumba feature[-length documentary] film we were planning on making, I realized that I was in fact writing about a totally different story – the story of the Haitians who went to work in Congo, and of how a newly independent African country asked for help from the people of Haiti, a proud and militant country that for nearly two hundred years had been the only one in the world. The history of how the huge and rich Congo had looked to the small Haiti for help is in some ways an absurd story, the work of a Machiavellian mind. The Belgians had all just fled, and so they sought to bring in black doctors, teachers, engineers, and agronomists from Haiti to replace the European ones that had suddenly left. This endeavor could have failed miserably, but the Haitians were well received and integrated. These themes all belonged in the film, it seemed to me. This had happened at a time, the early sixties, when most African countries were just becoming independent. Up until then one was summoned to choose either the Russians or the Americans. The non-aligned movement of Nkrumah, Nasser, Ben Barkah, Gandhi, etc. was still a radical provocation, not the status quo. So this film became my first confrontation. With whom? With myself. By posing questions about images of black mythology, black politics, and black aesthetics, I was questioning my own place in the world – and it became my story as much as it was Lumumba’s. I became the instrument with which to engage the audience.

The rest of the film was the story of an assassination, of the making of a martyr, of a man who was doing nothing more than asking for independence at a time when this was not permitted in this part of the world, in Africa, and so he was killed.

What I learned while making the film turned out to be a deeply painful experience for me. First of all, it took me a year and a half before I could begin to accept Lumumba as a sympathetic character. I couldn't warm up to him, and the reasons for my alienation eluded me. Then I realized that everything I had learned about Lumumba came from the same sources – journalists or politicians from the West who had covered the crisis in the Congo. For them, it was a fearful, traumatic, and arrogant confrontation and they had responded by investing their understanding of Lumumba with all the usual, often racist, clichés. I had been contaminated by those clichés. The underlying racism of the world’s biggest newspapers, of the New York Times, of Le Monde, was naïve in a way. It represented how the world saw Africa, not in political terms, but in primitive, one-dimensional, tribalistic terms. Politics is understood to be complex when it is happening in New York or London, but not if it is happening someplace in Africa. This was, of course, a major obstacle.

So my perception of Lumumba began with him as this crazy, uneducated, ambitious, and corrupt leader. But after a while I saw him as an autodidact, someone who had not much to start with, who was totally isolated, and who could not manage the complexity of the task before him other than as a martyr. The only forceful imprint Lumumba could leave was to die for the cause of African independence.

An important outcome of this creative process was that it taught me the importance and challenge of shaping one’s image. You must hold the key to your own image-making because if you don’t, other people will. And this is the real problem of storytelling: who controls your image, who tells your story.

This is the problem today for those of us who do not rule the world. Cinema has already been molded by and for a Eurocentric point of view, albeit by wave after wave of immigrants. Lumumba: Death of a Prophet, for me, is about those who do not have a history of being on the side of power, and who have to begin to take control. Lumumba failed in his attempt to do that, and was killed for even trying, but he succeeded in one sense, in the same way that, in American history, for example, John Brown did. John Brown failed in his mission to liberate slaves and was also put to death, yet the freeing of slaves came in the wake of his actions and it came in large part because he had made the case for emancipation so compellingly.



Above: Filmmaker Raoul Peck.



Above: Patrice Lumumba, about whom Colin Legum, a journalist, author, and notable anti-Apartheid activist, wrote in 2001: “I had got to know Lumumba reasonably well. . . . I found him gentle, and advanced in his social ideas, formed by his Christian beliefs and admiration for social democratic ideas. . . . Under different circumstances he could have been an impressive leader and saved the Congo from its terrible fate under the likes of the kleptomanic Mobutu.”


Following is a four-and-a-half minute excerpt from Raoul Peak’s 1991 feature-length documentary, Lumumba: Death of a Prophet.





Related Off-site Links:
Patrice Lumumba (1925-1961) – Sean Jacobs (Jacobin, January 17, 2017).
Brussels Sets Straight Historical Wrong Over Patrice Lumumba Killing – Patrick Smyth (The Irish Times, July 5, 2018).
Congo Rising to Produce Feature Film Patrice Lumumba in Africa; Compelling Story of Martyred Congo Leader Coming to the ScreenWBOC.com (January 14, 2021)
In Search of Lumumba – Christian Parenti (In These Times, January 30, 2008).
Patrice Lumumba: The Most Important Assassination of the 20th Century – Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja (The Guardian, January 17, 2011).
Both Belgium and the United States Should Be Called to Account for the Death of Patrice Lumumba – Tim Butcher (The Spectator, March 7, 2015).
Patrice Lumumba’s Daughter: I’m Demanding Belgium Give Back My Father’s Remains – Juliana Lumumba (Jacobin, August 1, 2020).
Congo’s Patrice Lumumba: The Winds of Reaction in Africa – Kenneth Good (CounterPunch, August 23, 2019).
The Tragedy of Lumumba: An Exchange – Ludo De Witte Colin Legum and Brian Urquhart (The New York Review, December 20, 2001).
Martyr by Choice – Catherine Hoskyns (The New York Review, April 5, 1973).
An Exchange on the Death of Lumumba – A.C. Gilpin and Catherine Hoskyns (The New York Review, April 22, 1971).
Who Killed Lumumba? – Catherine Hoskyns (The New York Review, December 17, 1970).
Central Africa: Hollywood’s Insulting Fantasy Versus a Tragic Reality – Steven Gambardella (Medium, December 1, 2018).
Raoul Peck’s Lumumba Fights Its Corner As a Corrective to Imperialism – Alex von Tunzelmann (The Guardian, June 14, 2012).
Filmmaker Raoul Peck Talks About Karl Marx, Revolutionary Love, and Trump – Ed Rampell (The Progressive, March 1, 2018).
Q&A: Raoul Peck on James Baldwin, the Resistance, and Making I Am Not Your Negro – Teo Bugbee (MTV.com, February 6, 2017).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Remembering Patrice Lumumba
Remembering Manuela Saenz: “Liberator of the Liberator”
Remembering Fred Hampton
Ben Ehrenreich on the Global Uprisings Against Neoliberalism
Marv Davidov, 1931-2012
Chalmers Johnson, 1931-2010
Hope, History, and Bernie Sanders
Marianne Williamson: “We’re Living at a Critical Moment in Our Democracy”
Remembering the “Brave and Brilliant” Gil Scott-Heron
Kittredge Cherry on the “Tough Questions” Raised by the Uganda Martyrs
John Pilger on Resisting Empire
Resisting the Hand of the Empire
New Horizons


Thursday, January 14, 2021

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Quote of the Day

We cannot be fearful in fulfilling our oath of office. Courage is being scared to death but remaining resolute. It’s important that we remove this tyrant.

– Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.)
Quoted in Jake Johnson’s article,
'We Cannot Be Fearful':
Ocasio-Cortez and Omar Counsel GOP
Over Death Threats From Pro-Trump Mob

Common Dreams
January 13, 2021


Related Off-site Links:
House Impeaches Trump a Second Time, Citing Insurrection at U.S. Capitol – Bill Chappell (National Catholic Reporter, January 13, 2021).
Trump Impeached for “Inciting” U.S. Capitol RiotBBC News (January 13, 2021).
How a Presidential Rally Turned Into a Capitol RampageThe New York Times (January 12, 2021).
Ted Cruz Calls Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez a “Liar” for Claiming He Fundraised Off the Riots – So She Pulls Out the Receipts – Jisha Joseph (Upworthy, January 11, 2021).
Yes, It Was a Coup Attempt. Here’s Why – Fiona Hill (Politico, January 11, 2021).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Rep. Ilhan Omar Responds to President Trump’s Authoritarian Threats
Insurrection at the United States Capitol
Progressive Perspectives on the 2020 U.S. Election Results
Ilhan Omar: Quote of the Day – 8/11/20
Ricardo Levins Morales on the “Deepest Political Fault Line” Separating Democrats Ilhan Omar and Antone Melton-Meaux
To Whom the Future of America Belongs
Ilhan Omar: Quote of the Day – 4/13/19
Ilhan Omar: Stepping Into Her Power
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: Quote of the Day – 3/10/19
Juan Cole: Quote of the Day – 2/11/19
Progressive Perspectives on the Ilhan Omar “Controversy”
Ilhan Omar on The Daily Show

Image: Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) conduct a news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center responding to negative comments by President Donald Trump that were directed at the freshmen House Democrats on Monday, July 15, 2019. (Photo: Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images)


Monday, January 11, 2021

Troubling the Waters: Brad R. Braxton on Baptism and Black Lives Matter


A Facebook friend recently reminded my that many of the African-American spirituals contained explicit instructions to fugitive slaves on how to avoid capture as they made their way to freedom.

The website Pathways to Freedom: Maryland and the Underground Railroad, notes, for instance, that Harriet Tubman used the spiritual “Wade in the Water” to tell escaping slaves to get off the trail and into the water so as to throw the slave-catchers’ dogs off their scent.

In the Christian liturgical calendar, this past Sunday was the first Sunday after the Epiphany, also known as the Baptism of the Lord. One of my New Year resolutions is to get back into attending the Sunday services of my faith community, Spirit Catholic Community (formerly Spirit of St. Stephen’s Catholic Community). Of course, given the pandemic, Spirit, like the vast majority of faith communities, is meeting via Zoom.

The contemporary reading at Spirit on Sunday was an excerpt from an essay by scholar Brad R. Braxton (right) entitled “Troubling the Waters: Baptism and Black Lives Matter.”

In this essay, Braxton makes the compelling case that “our baptism services should be more politically provocative,” especially since the God of “Wade in the Water” is a “troublesome God,” or, as the late John Lewis would say, a “good trouble”-inspiring God.

It’s the “good trouble” of various forms of civil disobedience in the name of justice and compassion; the type of activism that can be seen today in movements such as Black Lives Matter and Idle No More.

Following is the part of “Troubling the Waters: Baptism and Black Lives Matter” that was shared yesterday at Spirit.

The African-American spiritual “Wade in the Water,” sung often in African-American baptism services, insists that God is “gonna trouble the water.” In the spirit of this troublesome God, our baptism services should be more politically provocative.

In other liturgical moments, we can soothe people’s “souls” with images of God, the Eternal shepherd, who leads us beside still waters (Psalm 23:2). Baptism, however, is an opportune time to remember a God who champions oppressed people and struggles alongside them. This God troubles the waters of the Red Sea in order to enable the oppressed to be free.

. . . To baptize people in the name of this God is to immerse them in politically turbulent waters. Baptism services should not be polite. On the contrary, they should create a guttural awareness in those about to be baptized, and in those already baptized, that following God will at times be costly. A major currency for payment of that cost is struggle, and this struggle may exact a toll from our bodies.

. . . It is incumbent upon me pastorally to puncture the politeness of the moment with politics. I remind families, or the candidates for baptism if they are old enough to comprehend, that when Jesus stepped into the Jordan River to be baptized, he signed his death certificate. I then tell the families, or the baptism candidates, that in addition to baptism certificates we also should provide them with death certificates. To serve God is to be willing to struggle for our freedom and the freedom of others, even to the point of death. Baptism is not a cleansing of our souls from sin; it is a marking of our bodies for struggle.

– Brad R. Braxton
Excerpted from “Troubling the Waters: Baptism and Black Lives Matter
via The Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs
June 15, 2020



See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Rita Larivee on Being “Authorized by Baptism”
Why Jesus Is My Man
A Very Intentional First Day of the Year
Honoring George Floyd
Helpful Rebuttals for Racist Talking Points
Emma Jordan-Simpson: “There Will Be No Peace Without Justice”
Trevor Noah on the “Dominoes of Racial Injustice”
James Baldwin's Potent Interweavings of Race, Homoeroticism, and the Spiritual
Remembering Philando Castile and Demanding Abolition of the System That Targets and Kills People of Color
Carin Mrotz: Quote of the Day – November 25, 2015
In Minneapolis, Rallying in Solidarity with Black Lives in Baltimore
“And Still We Rise” (Part I)
“And Still We Rise” (Part II)
Tim Wise: Quote of the Day – November 25, 2014

Opening image:Harriet on the Underground Railroad” by Paul Collins.
Closing image: Johnny Myers.


Thursday, January 07, 2021

Quote of the Day


On Wednesday, everyone was suddenly astonished, as if they had no idea that white people did this all the time. As if there was no Charlottesville. As if the “White Lives Matter” march never happened. As if there was no such thing as a “Proud Boy.” As if the president hadn’t been telegraphing this for four years. . . . The ones stunned by this shocking turn of events are the same ones who just learned that police shoot unarmed Black people when videos started popping up in their Facebook feed. They also recently discovered school underfunding, the wealth gap, voter suppression and the war on drugs. . . . Ever since Donald Trump raised his right hand to the sky and took his oath of office, Black people everywhere have been howling a futile warning at disinterested white earholes. . . . When we said this is how it would end, we weren’t making a prediction. . . . We told y’all.

– Michael Harriot
Excerpted from “For Black People,
Wednesday Was Just Another Day in America

The Root
January 7, 2021


Related Off-site Links and Updates:
No One Has a Right to Be Surprised About the Capitol Violence – Michael Sean Winters (National Catholic Reporter, January 7, 2021).
Use of Force: Capitol vs. Standing Rock – Dalton Walker (Indian Country Today, January 6, 2021).
Some Among America's Military Allies Believe Trump Deliberately Attempted a Coup and May Have Had Help From Federal Law-Enforcement Officials – Mitch Prothero (Business Insider, January 7, 2021).
In America, Leftist Protesters Get Violently Beaten and Arrested. Right-Wing Protesters Get to Take the Capitol – Branko Marcetic (Jacobin, January 7, 2021).
Equating White Nationalists and “Left Radicals” Is What Got Us Here in the First Place – Sarah Lazare (In These Times, January 7, 2021).
Trump’s New Officials at Pentagon Blocked National Guard From “Interacting With” Insurrectionists – Mark Sumner (Daily Kos, January 8, 2021).
Twitter Bans President Trump Permanently – Brian Fung (CNN Business, January 8, 2021).
Attack on Capitol Affirms Trumpism Will Live On After Trump Leaves White House – Henry A. Giroux (TruthOut, January 8, 2021).
Storming the U.S. Capitol Was About Maintaining White Power in America – Hakeem Jefferson (FiveThirtyEight.com, January 8, 2021).
The Distressing Truth: Why White People Are Embracing Fascism – Thom Hartmann (Medium, January 9, 2021).
“This Isn’t America”: The Lies We Tell Ourselves About Race – Sam Sanders (NPR News, January 10, 2021).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Insurrection at the United States Capitol
Donald Trump’s Open and Shameless Criminality
Trump’s Legacy
Who Half of Us Are
About Those Militias
Heather Cox Richardson on the Unravelling of President Trump
Rep. Ilhan Omar Responds to President Trump’s Authoritarian Threats
Marianne Williamson on America’s “Cults of Madness”
“The Republican Party Has Now Made It Official: They Are a Cult”
“We Have an Emergency On Our Hands”: Marianne Williamson On the “Freefall” of American Democracy
“Fascism Is Upon Us”
President Trump, “We Hold You Responsible”
In Charlottesville, the Face of Terrorism In the U.S.
Trump’s America: Normalized White Supremacy and a Rising Tide of Racist Violence
On International Human Rights Day, Saying “No” to Donald Trump and His Fascist Agenda
Progressive Perspectives on the Election of Donald Trump as President
Progressive Perspectives on the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election
Trump’s Playbook
Progressive Perspectives on the Rise of Donald Trump

Wednesday, January 06, 2021

Insurrection at the United States Capitol


The day America’s “Citadel of Liberty” fell
to Trump’s minions of extremism and chaos


Incredible scenes today from Washington, D.C. as supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump attempted a coup by storming – and for several hours overrunning – the United States Capitol, America’s “citadel of liberty” and “temple of democracy.”

Trump, who continues to baselessly claim that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him, has been rallying his hardcore supporters for weeks to show-up today at the Capitol where President-Elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College win was to be certified by congress. The storming of the building by Trump’s mob halted that procedure, one that for the past 150 years has been key to the peaceful transfer of power in American politics.

Given Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric, today’s violence was not surprising. What was surprising, indeed shocking to many, was the lack of preparedness by both Capitol security and D.C. police. You can be sure that if it had been a Black Lives Matter protest, there would have been no such lack of preparedness. Indeed, as past responses by authorities to BLM events have shown, it would have been the opposite, with militarized police and armored vehicles in abundance. No such deterrents greeted the white supporters of Trump, however; an example of white privelege if ever there was one.

Following are images and quotes of note regarding today’s momentous events at the Capitol.

_____________________________


Today’s violence at the US Capitol, a national disgrace, is the inevitable result of the endless lies about the election spread by President Trump and his supporters. Here we see the result of these lies, the fruit of sin: anger, hatred, discord, despair and violence. This is what sin does, especially sin on such a large scale. “And by their fruits you will know them” (Mt 7:20).

James Martin, SJ
January 6, 2021


Trump had urged his supporters for weeks to descend on Washington, D.C., to stop what he insisted was the stealing of the election. They did so and, this morning, began to congregate near the Capitol, where the counting [of Electoral College votes] would take place. . . . In the middle of the day, Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani spoke to the crowd, telling them: “Let’s have trial by combat.” Trump followed, lying that he had won the election and saying “we are going to have to fight much harder.” He warned that [Vice-President Mike] Pence had better “come through for us, and if he doesn’t, that will be a sad day for our country.” He warned that Chinese-driven socialists are taking over the country. And he told them to march on Congress to “save our democracy.”

As rioters took Trump at his word, Congress was counting the votes alphabetically by state. When they got to Arizona, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) stood up to echo the rhetoric [that Trump extremists] had been using to discredit the certified votes, saying that public distrust in the election – created out of thin air by Republicans – justified an investigation.

Within an hour, a violent mob stormed the Capitol and Cruz, along with the rest of the lawmakers, was rushed to safety (four quick-thinking staffers brought along the electoral ballots, in their ceremonial boxes). As the rioters broke in, police shot and killed one of them: Ashli Babbitt, an Air Force veteran from San Diego, QAnon believer, and staunch Trump supporter. The insurrectionists broke into the Senate chamber, where one was photographed on the dais of the Senate, shirtless and wearing a bull costume that revealed a Ku Klux Klan tattoo on his abdomen. [NOTE: The tattoo is actually of an old Norse runic symbol called the “valknut,” or “knot of the slain,” that has been appropriated by white supremacists.] They roamed the Capitol looking for Pence and other lawmakers they considered enemies. Not finding them, they ransacked offices. One rioter photographed himself sitting at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s desk with his feet on it.

They carried with them the Confederate flag.

Capitol police provided little obstruction, apparently eager to avoid confrontations that could be used as propaganda on social media. The intruders seemed a little surprised at their success, taking selfies and wandering around like tourists. One stole a lectern.

As the White House, the FBI, the Justice Department, and the Department of Homeland Security all remained silent, President-Elect Joe Biden spoke to cameras urging calm and calling on Trump to tell his supporters to go home. But CNN White House Correspondent Kaitlan Collins later reported that she spoke to White House officials who were “genuinely freaked out” that Trump was “borderline enthusiastic” about the storming of the Capitol because “it meant the certification was being derailed.”

At 4:17, Trump issued his own video, reiterating his false claims that he had been cheated of victory. Only then did he conclude with: “Go home, we love you, you’re very special.”

Twitter immediately took the video down. By nighttime Trump’s Twitter feed seemed to blame his enemies for the violence the president had incited (although the rhythm of the words did not sound to me like Trump’s own usual cadence): “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!”

Twitter took down the tweet and banned the president for at least twelve hours for inciting violence; Facebook and Instagram followed suit.




The man directly responsible for the chaos of today is Donald Trump, who has made it clear that he will do anything to remain in power – including insurrection and inciting violence. Trump will go down in history as the worst and most dangerous president in history.

– Sen. Bernie Sanders
January 6, 2021



The words of a president matter, no matter how good or bad that president is. At their best, the words of a president can inspire; at their worst, they can incite. Therefore, I call upon President Trump to go on national television now, to fulfill his oath and defend the Constitution and demand an end to this siege.

– President-Elect Joe Biden
January 6, 2021



We need to be very clear that responsibility is shared by Trump’s enablers.

A dozen or more U.S. senators and more than 100 members of Congress are today aiding and abetting an effort to undertake a coup – a coup effort that is preordained to fail, but a coup attempt nonetheless. Unlike the pro-Trump mob that I saw, none of those senators and virtually none of those House members actually believe that Trump won the election or has any valid claim of widespread election improprieties.

Soon enough, this distressing episode in American history will be behind us. But its corrosive impact will remain.

Tens of millions of Americans have been fooled into believing the election was stolen, undermining not just their belief in our flawed democracy, but their commitment to democracy itself. This is a frighteningly dangerous state for the nation.

Trump and his enablers have generated a quasi-fascist movement that is poised to perpetuate racist street violence, conspiratorial thinking, and serious perils for a functioning democracy.

– Robert Weissman
Excerpted from “This Is a Dark, Dark Day for America
Common Dreams
January 6, 2021



Today we are witnessing white supremacy cry out in the face of electoral victories that have been definitively decided by Black people; both Trump’s defeat and Georgia’s U.S. Senate runoff. Fascist rioters are attempting to subvert democracy because they can’t allow the wellbeing, aspirations, and fates of BIPOC [Black, Indigenous, and People of Color] to measure up, in any way, to their own distorted concepts of being American.

As alarming as the unfolding chaos is, America is graphically exerting its fundamental identity: a terrorist state that violently opposes valuing or making space for Native, Black, Latinx, Asian, Middle Eastern, queer, trans, female, disabled, poor, or non-Christian lives. Ultimately, electoral politics can never be the sole vehicle utilized for building political power or transforming our society into one that is oriented toward the collective thriving of humanity, rather than one driven by white supremacy and capitalism.

It makes very little difference whether Donald Trump or Joe Biden directs the horrific production of the “American Dream” that is unraveling before our eyes. Democracy, as we know it, has never been such.

The Metropolitan Police Department is conspicuously refusing to utilize the same level of force against fascist rioters that was deployed against Black protesters throughout 2020’s summer of Uprising. Policing exists to unwaveringly defend white supremacy, and protect capital, at all costs.

Normal never existed. Pandemic awakened us to the grim reality that our world is defined by greed, profit, and a total disregard for humanity’s interdependent fate. Perhaps the ongoing collapse of America's political institutions will be the necessary mirror for confronting the forces of genocide, destruction, terrorism, and white supremacy that characterize the flag so many hate-filled crowds proudly brandish in Washington, D.C. today.

Phillip Clark
via Facebook
January 6, 2021


There’s nothing – zero – to be gained by allowing Trump to stay in office. He’s already broadcast to the country that he supports the violence. Every day he’s allowed to remain in office only puts us further at risk. Invoke the 25th now.

Brian Tyler Cohen
via Facebook
January 6, 2021



Related Off-site Links:
Pro-Trump Extremists Storm U.S. Capitol In Deadly Attack On Democracy – Ryan J. Reilly, Arthur Delaney, Christopher Mathias, Igor Bobic, and Matt Fuller (The Huffington Post, January 6, 2021).
US Capitol secured, Woman Dead After Rioters Stormed the Halls of Congress to Block Biden’s Win – CNN (January 6, 2021).
World Shocked by Trump Supporters’ Attack on U.S. Democracy – Reuters (January 6, 2021).
Bernie Sanders Says Trump “Directly Responsible” for Insurrection Effort – Jon Queally (Common Dreams, January 6, 2021).
This Violent Insurrection Is What Trump Wanted – John Cassidy (The New Yorker, January 6, 2021).
Assault on Democracy: Sen. Josh Hawley Has Blood on His Hands in Capitol Coup Attempt – The Editorial Board (The Kansas City Star, January 6, 2021).
In Pictures: Pro-Trump Mob Storms US Capitol BuildingCommon Dreams (January 6, 2021).
Twitter Locks Trump’s Account and Warns of “Permanent Suspension” If Violations Continue – Bobby Allyn (NPR News, January 6, 2021).
Rep. Ilhan Omar Says She Is Drafting New Articles of Impeachment Against Trump – Laurel Wamsley (NPR News, January 6, 2021).
FBI, Homeland Security, and White House Advisers Foresaw Possible Riots But Looked the Other Way – William M. Arkin (Newsweek, January 6, 2021).
After Chaos, Insurrection and Death, Pro-Trump Rioters Defy D.C. Curfew – Vanessa Romo (NPR News, January 6, 2021).
“We Will Not Bow to Lawlessness”: Congress Returns After Insurrection – Alana Wise (NPR News, January 6, 2021).
After Right-Wing Coup Effort in DC, Venezuela Offers Sympathy for US Suffering What “It Has Generated” Elsewhere – Kenny Stancil (Common Dreams, January 6, 2021).

UPDATES: No One Has a Right to Be Surprised About the Capitol Violence – Michael Sean Winters (National Catholic Reporter, January 7, 2021).
Some Among America's Military Allies Believe Trump Deliberately Attempted a Coup and May Have Had Help From Federal Law-Enforcement Officials – Mitch Prothero (Business Insider, January 7, 2021).
In America, Leftist Protesters Get Violently Beaten and Arrested. Right-Wing Protesters Get to Take the Capitol – Branko Marcetic (Jacobin, January 7, 2021).
Equating White Nationalists and “Left Radicals” Is What Got Us Here in the First Place – Sarah Lazare (In These Times, January 7, 2021).
Was Trump Hoping for a Coup? – Joseph Gerson (Common Dreams, January 7, 2021).
Thirteen Days of Peril: Managing the Chaotic End of the Trump PresidencyCrisisGroup.org (January 7, 2021).
Capitol Police Officer Dies From Injuries in Pro-Trump RampageThe New York Times (January 8, 2021).
Pro-Trump Rioters Could Face up to 20 Years in Prison – Jonathan Vanian (Fortune, January 8, 2021).
Trump’s New Officials at Pentagon Blocked National Guard From “Interacting With” Insurrectionists – Mark Sumner (Daily Kos, January 8, 2021).
Twitter Bans President Trump Permanently – Brian Fung (CNN Business, January 8, 2021).
Attack on Capitol Affirms Trumpism Will Live On After Trump Leaves White House – Henry A. Giroux (TruthOut, January 8, 2021).
Trumpism Suffers Untold Damage in Its Collision With the U.S. Capitol – Ron Elving (NPR News, January 9, 2021).
Members of Several Well-Known Hate Groups Identified at Capitol Riot – A.C. Thompson and Ford Fischer (PBS.org, January 9, 2021).
The Capitol Riot Was More Violent and Terrifying Than It First Looked – Sara Boboltz (The Huffington Post, January 9, 2021).
D.C.’s Acting U.S. Attorney Calls Scope Of Capitol Investigation “Unprecedented” – Martin Kaste (NPR News, January 10, 2021).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Trump’s Legacy
Who Half of Us Are
Donald Trump’s Open and Shameless Criminality
About Those Militias
Heather Cox Richardson on the Unravelling of President Trump
Rep. Ilhan Omar Responds to President Trump’s Authoritarian Threats
Marianne Williamson on America’s “Cults of Madness”
“The Republican Party Has Now Made It Official: They Are a Cult”
“We Have an Emergency On Our Hands”: Marianne Williamson On the “Freefall” of American Democracy
“Fascism Is Upon Us”
President Trump, “We Hold You Responsible”
In Charlottesville, the Face of Terrorism In the U.S.
Trump’s America: Normalized White Supremacy and a Rising Tide of Racist Violence
On International Human Rights Day, Saying “No” to Donald Trump and His Fascist Agenda
Progressive Perspectives on the Election of Donald Trump as President
Progressive Perspectives on the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election
Trump’s Playbook
Progressive Perspectives on the Rise of Donald Trump

Images: Photo credits coming soon.