Tuesday, January 31, 2017

A Prayer for Refugees

Merciful God, we pray to you for all men, women and children who have died after leaving their homelands in search of a better life. Though many of their graves bear no name, to you each one is known, loved and cherished. May we never forget them, but honor their sacrifice with deeds more than words.

We entrust to you all those who have made a treacherous journey, enduring fear, uncertainty and humiliation in order to reach a place of safety and hope. Be close to these, your sons and daughters, through our tenderness and protection. In caring for them, may we seek a world where no people are forced to leave their home and where all can live in freedom, dignity and peace.

Merciful God, wake us from the slumber of indifference, open our eyes to their suffering and free us from the insensitivity born of worldly comfort and self-centeredness. Inspire us as nations, communities and individuals to see that those who come to our shores are our brothers and sisters.

May we share with them the blessings we have received from your hand and recognize that together, as one human family, we are all migrants, journeying in hope to you, our true home, where every tear will be wiped away, where we will be at peace and safe in your embrace.


Note: This prayer was written and published by Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City.

Related Off-site Links:
Trump Bars Refugees and Citizens of 7 Muslim Countries – Michael D. Shear and Helene Cooper (The New York Times, January 27, 2017).
Trump's Immigration Ban Ban Excludes Countries with Direct Links to Terrorism and Where Trump Has Commercial HoldingsThe Real News, January 27, 2017).
Trump's Muslim Ban Triggers Chaos, Heartbreak, and Resistance – Ryan Devereaux, Murtaza Hussain and Alice Speri (The Intercept, January 29, 2017).
Judge Blocks Trump Order on Refugees Amid Chaos and Outcry Worldwide Michael D. Shear, Nicholas Kulish and Alan Feuer (The New York Times, January 28, 2017).
Judge Halts Deportations After Protesters Swarm Airports Over Trump’s Order Barring Muslims – Robert Mackey (The Intercept, January 28, 2017).
Donald Trump, the Refugee Ban, and the Triumph of Cruelty – Dylan Matthews (Vox, January 28, 2017).
Donald Trump Fires Acting Attorney General Hours After She Refuses to Defend His Immigration Ban – Leon Neyfakh (Slate, January 30, 2017).
Trump Refugee Ban Clashes With Faith-Based Groups' Religious Missions – Tom Gjelton (NPR News, January 27, 2017).
Pope Francis: You Can’t Defend Christianity by Being “Against Refugees and Other Religions” – Catholic News Service via Catholic Herald (October 13, 2016).
Pope Francis is the Anti-Trump – James Carroll (The New Yorker, February 1, 2017).
USCCB Speaks Out Against Trump’s Immigration Orders – Mary Pezzulo (Patheos, January 25, 2017).
Responding to Trump's Ban, Top Catholic Bishops Pledge Solidarity with Muslim Refugees – Michael O'Loughlin (America, January 30, 2017).
Bishop McElroy: Trump’s Executive Order is Rooted in Xenophobia and Religious PrejudiceMillennial (January 29, 2017)
Chicago's Archbishop Calls President Trump's Immigration Order a “Dark Moment in U.S. History” – Madeline Farber (Time, January 29, 2017).
LGBT Catholics Stand with Immigrants, Refugees, Visitors from Banned Countries – DignityUSA (January 30, 2017).
Twin Cities Clergy Join Protest Against Trump Immigration Ban – Jean Hopfensperger (Star Tribune, January 30, 2017).
A Message from Archbishop Hebda Regarding President Trump's Executive Order on Immigration BanThe Progressive Catholic Voice (January 30, 2017).
550 Attend Mass Outside White House in Solidarity with Refugees – Teresa Donnellan (America, January 30, 2017).
How the Catholic Mood About the Trump Administration Shifted in Just a Week – Michael O'Loughlin (America, January 30, 2017).
Donald Trump's Gospel is Not the Gospel of Jesus – Peter Daly (National Catholic Reporter, February 2, 2017).
It’s Time We Stopped Calling Donald Trump a Christian – John Pavlovitz (JohnPavlovitz.com, February 2, 2017).

February 2017 Updates:
U.S. Judge Temporarily Blocks Trump's Travel Ban Nationwide – Laura Yuen (MPR News, February 3, 2017).
U.S. Customs Agents Just Gave Airlines the Green Light to Ignore Trump's "Muslim Ban" – Reuters via Mother Jones (February 3, 2017).
Pence Breaks with Trump: Judge "Certainly" Has Right to Halt Travel Ban – Mallory Shelbourne (The Hill, February 5, 2017).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
"The Movement of Love and Inclusion Has Just Been Unleashed"
On International Human Rights Day, Saying "No" to Donald Trump and His Fascist Agenda
On Holocaust Remembrance Day, James Martin Labels as "Appalling" President Trump's Plan to Demonize Immigrants
Something to Think About – January 29, 2017
Fasting, Praying, and Walking for Immigration Reform
May Day 2007
Reflections on Babel and the “Borders Within”
Rallying in Solidarity with the Refugees of Syria and the World
Letting Them Sit By Me

Image: Asylum seekers and migrants descend from a large fishing vessel used to transport them from Turkey to the Greek island of Lesbos. October 11, 2015. (Photo: Zalmaï for Human Rights Watch)

Monday, January 30, 2017

Happy Birthday, Vanessa!

Today is the 80th birthday of an actor, activist and all-round inspiring human being whom I've long admired – Vanessa Redgrave.

I've shared in a previous post how and why I came to appreciate and admire Vanessa. In this post I celebrate Vanessa's birthday by sharing (with added images and links) an excerpt from The Guardian's Simon Hattenstone's June 13, 2016 interview of Vanessa in which she talks about ageing, religion, human rights, and the "notorious Oscars speech that stalled her Hollywood career." Enjoy!

It’s always been the eyes with Redgrave. You can see through them into her soul. So blue, so weepy, such longing; she was born to play Chekhov. Which of course, she has done beautifully. Twenty-five years ago, she was a heartbreaking Olga (the spinster teacher who tells her youngest sister, Irina, she would have married “any man, even an old man if he had asked”) in Three Sisters, alongside her real-life younger sister, Lynn, and niece, Jemma.

Redgrave might be most garlanded for her stage work, but she also has six Oscar nominations (Morgan: A Suitable Case for Treatment, Isadora, Mary, Queen of Scots, Julia, The Bostonians, Howards End). When she finally won an Oscar in 1978, for playing the eponymous Nazi resistance fighter in Julia, she gave the most notorious acceptance speech in the Academy’s history, thanking it for refusing “to be intimidated by the threats of a small bunch of Zionist hoodlums”. In the previous year, she had funded a documentary in support of a Palestinian homeland. Effigies of her were burned by the Jewish Defense League, which picketed the Oscars.

Above: As Cleopatra in Tony Richardson’s modern-dress production at the Bankside Globe Playhouse in 1973.(Photograph: Michael Ward/Getty Images)

Right: As Imogen in William Gaskill’s production of Cymbeline, at Stratford in 1962.

Her politics have often attracted more headlines than her acting. She and her brother, Corin, were once leading members of the Workers Revolutionary party. In recent times, she has endured more than her share of tragedy; within the space of 14 months, she lost her oldest daughter, the actor Natasha Richardson (who suffered a traumatic brain injury after a skiing accident at the age of 45), Corin, and in May 2010, [her sister] Lynn (yet another successful Redgrave actor with two Oscar nominations).

. . . Does she still see herself as a revolutionary? “I think every artist is a revolutionary. That’s what Tennessee Williams said, and I think he put it very well.” Why? “The simple answer is you want to help change. Or before you can help change, you want to understand how can change be effected.”

Above: At a social justice rally in 2015. (Photographer unknown)

Left: In the February 15, 1967 issue of Vogue. (Photo: Bert Stern)

You seem such a strange mix of revolutionary and traditionalist, I say.

But she’s not having any of it. “It’s fair for you to say whatever you like, but I’m not going to fall in with it. These labels are so nothing to do with what’s going on today. I think every journalist would do well to drop these outworn, outlived descriptive adjectives. They do not apply to anything, in my view.”

She splutter-hacks again. I ask her if she is OK – she sounds terrible. “I think some dust has caught in my chest.” She smoked all her adult life until the heart attack last year, when she gave up. How is she coping without her cigarettes? “Surprisingly well. I do, now and then, get a withdrawal because I was a big addict.”

Redgrave is dressed in blue top, tracksuit bottoms and blue trainers. She is six foot tall, still an intimidating presence, but there is something frail about her. The heart attack took a lot out of her. Is it true that her lungs are shattered; that she only has 30% capacity? “I’ve no idea,” she says imperiously. “I’ve never said how much of my lungs have been destroyed and I’ve never been told myself, so I don’t know how you know.”

It’s been printed in the newspapers.

“And I’m saying to you, do you believe that?” (The 30% figure is a direct quote from an interview she gave to the London Evening Standard last September, five months after her heart attack.) Did she think she was going to die? “At the time? When I was in hospital I wanted to die,” she says gently. Why? “Because it was just getting too tiring.” Life or being ill?

“Trying to live was getting too tiring. I was with my daughter, and I said, ‘I’m sorry, I just think I’m going to have to give up,’ – knowing she’d be unhappy, of course. And she was wonderful.” How did Joely (yet another successful actor) encourage her to keep living? “By telling me I could. Her saying I could give up released me.”

I have never met somebody who can go from wilfully cantankerous to heartstoppingly tender so quickly; who can make me want to scream with frustration and move me to tears in the same sentence.

“I told her what I thought I had to do . . . just give up. But I had to tell her that because I guess it’s my psychology. I didn’t want to hurt her, but I knew it would hurt her.”

Left: In Tennessee Williams’s Orpheus Descending, directed by Peter Hall, at the Haymarket, London, with Jean-Marc Barr, 1989. (Photograph: Alastair Muir/Rex/Shutterstock)

I know it’s a strange question to ask a Marxist, I say, but do you have faith? She smiles, almost beatifically. “Yes, certainly I do. And the reason why I do is because I don’t consider science and religion two fixed opposites. Human beings have felt the need to explain things that they couldn’t explain, and acknowledge the existence of things they can’t explain but want to.” She is talking so slowly, so deliberately, she could be setting a dictation test.

Above: Vanessa Redgrave and her daughters Joely and Natasha Richardson on the set of Camelot (1967).

So religion and Marxism is another contradiction she is happy to embrace? “Yes, because if you’re not happy to embrace contradictions you’re not going to get very far in understanding anything.”

How does her faith express itself? “By reading, by inquiry, people I have discussions with, sometimes I go to church. It’s a Catholic church, because of the people I know.”

She says she has always had faith; always liked to go to church. As she talks, I can’t help wondering whether she wanted to die because she hoped to be reunited with loved ones that she has lost.

Before the question is out, she cuts me off. “No, don’t go there. Not at all. I just meant physically I felt I couldn’t go on trying to live. Not that life is too painful for me. Not at all. No.”

Right: As Cleopatra in Moving Theatre’s production – which she directed – of Antony and Cleopatra at the Riverside Studios, London, in 1995. (Photograph: Robbie Jack - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)

Over the past five years, Redgrave has done so much work – in films such as the comedy-drama Song for Marion, alongside Forest Whitaker in The Butler, with Steve Carell in the Oscar-nominated Foxcatcher, and on stage in New York alongside Jesse Eisenberg in The Revisionist and opposite James Earl Jones in the Old Vic’s Much Ado About Nothing, directed by Mark Rylance.

Above: Vanessa in 2007. (Photograph: Sang Tan/AP)

Does working make things easier? “Easier than what?” she snaps. Well, I say, if you have too much time to think, you can drown in grief. “Ah, well, now it seems to me that you are talking about someone who’s a workaholic, or unable to stop being an actor.”

I didn’t mean that, I say, but it’s interesting you take objection to it. “Well, I do. It’s very unlife-enhancing. Very.” But yes, she says, there have been times she has been addicted to work, just as she was to cigarettes.

“It can happen for any number of reasons,” she says. “One is called paying the rent. Or the mortgage.”

You become a slave to rent?

“No, you’re putting words into my mouth.”

And we’re off again. “I’m not putting words in your mouth,” I say.” ‘I’m asking a question.”

“You just have put words into my mouth.”

“No I haven’t. They are my words, my question. You’re very difficult to interview, aren’t you?”

“I don’t think so. I think I’m illuminating. Hahahaha!” She rocks her head back, laughing.

And she really is heaving with laughter so much that I’m now every bit as worried for this dyspeptic national treasure as I was when she was having her coughing fit. We seem to have reached a new understanding. The war is over.

Left: In The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion, based on her memoir, directed by David Hare at the Booth theater, New York, in 2007. (Photograph: Brigitte Lacombe)

I’ve been watching a load of Redgrave films back to back. She started off as a sexy young thing, a symbol of the swinging 60s (in films such as Antonioni’s Blow Up and Morgan: A Suitable Case For Treatment) and gradually moved into ever more miserable territory. So often she seems to die for her politics (Julia) or be punished for her sins (Atonement and Ken Russell’s The Devils) or just be generally angst-ridden (Howards End and The Bostonians). Rarely do we see Redgrave laugh in cinema – and she’s got a lovely laugh.

You have a reputation for being serious, I say. “Well, I am a very serious person.” Has she ever felt she was too serious? “No! And I don’t care how many people in the press have said that. And there have been times when I couldn’t and didn’t laugh, but I think I’ve grown a bit stronger now.”

Has she always wanted her work to have a political purpose? “Not a political purpose. Everybody always jumps to that.” What does she mean? “Well I’ve just noticed, Simon, that people jump to political. Perhaps it’s because they’re talking to me. They know I have been very political. I am also and have been for a long time very not political. It doesn’t mean I don’t have any politics though.”

For a long time, Redgrave has said she is interested in human rights, not politics – and she does have a distinguished record as a human rights campaigner. But I’m not sure that I understand the distinction. She explains, with a devastating simplicity.

“Politics is about divisions. Wherever you come in on the subject there are divisions.” Does she regret the divisions it has caused in her life? “I can’t regret. I can only be thankful for the contribution that it made to my life.”

Is politics a negative word for her now? “It’s not a negative word, it’s negative. Period.”

Above: With Franco Nero in Joshua Logan's 1967 film Camelot.

Right: Franco and Vanessa in 2010.

In 2014 she made a documentary about Bosnian labour rights with her son Carlo Nero, whose father is Redgrave’s long-term partner, the Italian actor Franco Nero. She is now making a new film with him about refugees in Greece and Lebanon.

Human rights, she says, have always been at the heart of her life – politics just sidetracked her. She talks of Hitler’s genocide, and how Chamberlain refused visas for thousands of Jewish refugees right until the end of 1938. “I know this history like it’s my family history, though it’s not, really. But it has obsessed me, because I was a child of the Second World War and I wanted to know if what happened could happen again, how could we stop them.”

Above: Vanessa with her son Carlo in 2015.

How did she feel when she was labelled anti-semitic following The Palestinian? “That was absurd, calling me anti-semitic. Everybody has a right to think whatever they want about anybody, but since I so wasn’t and never have been, what can you do? You think, ‘OK time will pass on that one’.”

But it didn’t. In fact, it damaged her movie career just when she was set to be one of the great Hollywood stars. “Yes,” says Redgrave today, “but that’s not really important. What’s important is what’s crying out in our world for justice – the Israel-Palestine question.”

Looking back, does she wish she had been more careful with her words – that she had not said: “Zionist hoodlums”? “Oh no.” But then she stops and starts again. “Well, I mean I wish I’d written myself a better speech, but that’s not the point, either.” In the end, it comes down to one thing, she says – respect for human rights.

“I am practically at the very end of my life, so it’s a good thing I’m still worried and that I’ve not fallen back into my armchair where the old blues will get me. I’ve still got to do something to help, however tiny it is. I always think of the old Hebrew saying, which is translated roughly into: ‘He who saves one life saves the world’, because it’s pretty ghastly to think of all the people we’re not saving.”

Left: As Queen Margaret with Ralph Fiennes as Richard in Richard III at the Almeida, London, directed by Rupert Goold, in June 2016. "What a voice: low, assured, level. And utterly surprising," wrote Susannah Clapp in The Observer. "She is delivering curses that are usually roared and spat out. Redgrave drops them with deliberation as if she were merely describing the truth." (Photograph: Tristram Kenton for The Guardian)

She has to get back to rehearsals. It has been little more than an hour, but it feels as if we’ve been through a lot together. A lifetime. And that we’ve reached an understanding, of sorts. “I wasn’t looking forward to it, but thank you,” she says. “I don’t like giving interviews when I’m preparing something.”

“Oh, come off it,” I say. “You don’t like giving them, full stop.”

She smiles. “Well, I’m always hopeful, or I used to be always hopeful, that it turned out the journalist was somebody I respected.”

I tell her I’m glad she didn’t give up on life. “Thank you.” She smiles a lovely, warm smile. “Gosh, that’s really sweet of you.”

As she walks off, I ask if she lives in England all the time or part of the year in Italy. She has one last snap for old time’s sake. “In England. But I go to spend time with my husband in Italy, who you didn’t ask me about.”

I apologise, and ask her to tell me about her non-legally-binding marriage to Nero. But she’s halfway out of the door. “I won’t. Thank you, Simon, goodbye.” As she leaves, I shout after her: “Vanessa Redgrave, who is the love of your life?”

With her back to me, she shouts out: “One of the loves of my life is Franco Nero.” And the others? “My children, my relatives, my co-mates who I’m working with. Thank you very much, Simon. Goodbye. Hahaha!”

And now the formidable, forbidding Vanessa Redgrave is laughing like a schoolgirl. “That is the weirdest end to an interview I’ve ever had. Hahahahha!” And she shuts the door, and disappears.

To read Simon Hattenstone's interview with Vanessa Redgrave in its entirety, click here.

Above: Vanessa, photographed by Vicki Archer
– New York, 2009.

Related Off-site Links:
Vanessa Redgrave at 80: A Career on Stage – in PicturesThe Guardian (January 30, 2017).
Vanessa Redgrave Stars in Gucci Cruise 2017 – Mei Jing Goh (Elle, September 20, 2016).
79-Year-Old Vanessa Redgrave is the Face of the Coolest Fashion Brand – Kristine Solomon (Yahoo! Style, September 20, 2016).
Vanessa Redgrave Survives Severe Heart Attack Thanks to Answer Phone Message – Sarah Buchanan (Sunday Express, September 26, 2015).
The Greatest Living Actress: Author Dan Callahan on the Legacy of Vanessa Redgrave – Sheila O'Malley (RogerEbert.com, June 3, 2014).
A Review of Dan Callahan's Vanessa: The Life of Vanessa Redgrave – Lloyd Rose (The Washington Post, May 24, 2014).
Vanessa Redgrave: "I Want to Give People the Jolliest Time" – Michael Billington (The Guardian, April 11, 2012).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Vanessa Redgrave: "Almost a Kind of Jungian Actress"
Vanessa Redgrave: "She Has Greatness"
Letting Them Sit By Me
Vanessa Redgrave: Speaking Out

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Historian: Trump's Immigration Ban is a "Shock Event" Orchestrated by Steve Bannon to Destabilize and Distract

Above: President Trump speaks on the phone with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in the Oval Office on January 28, 2017. At far right (no pun intended) sits Steve Bannon. (Photo: Pete Marovich/Pool photo via European Pressphoto Agency)

Heather Cox Richardson is an American historian and Professor of History at Boston College where she teaches courses on the American Civil War, the Reconstruction Era, the American West, and Plains Indians.

In a recent post on Facebook, Richardson argues that President Trump's recent ban on immigration is actually the work of his assistant and chief strategist Steve Bannon. Bannon is the former executive chair of Breitbart News, a far-right news, opinion, and commentary website, and a political operative who has openly embraced the racist and anti-Semitic "alt-right," which the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights advocacy organization, describes as "a loose set of far-right ideologies at the core of which is a belief that 'white identity' is under attack through policies prioritizing multiculturalism, political correctness and social justice and must be preserved, usually through white-identified online communities and physical ethno-states."

Richardson also contends that yesterday's executive order was designed to throw society into chaos – something called "a shock event." This certainly aligns with Bannon's self identification as a "Leninist" whose goal is to "destroy the state." "I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment," Bannon told author Ronald Radosh in 2013.

What Steve Bannon [right] is doing, most dramatically with the ban on immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries – is creating what is known as a "shock event."

Such an event is unexpected and confusing and throws a society into chaos. People scramble to react to the event, usually along some fault line that those responsible for the event can widen by claiming that they alone know how to restore order.

When opponents speak out, the authors of the shock event call them enemies. As society reels and tempers run high, those responsible for the shock event perform a sleight of hand to achieve their real goal, a goal they know to be hugely unpopular, but from which everyone has been distracted as they fight over the initial event. There is no longer concerted opposition to the real goal; opposition divides along the partisan lines established by the shock event.

[Trump's] executive order has all the hallmarks of a shock event. It was not reviewed by any governmental agencies or lawyers before it was released, and counter-terrorism experts insist they did not ask for it. People charged with enforcing it got no instructions about how to do so. Courts immediately have declared parts of it unconstitutional, but border police in some airports are refusing to stop enforcing it.

Predictably, chaos has followed and tempers are hot.

My point is this: unless you are the person setting it up, it is in no one's interest to play the shock event game. It is designed explicitly to divide people who might otherwise come together so they cannot stand against something its authors think they won't like.

I don't know what Bannon is up to – although I have some guesses – but because I know Bannon's ideas well, I am positive that there is not a single person whom I consider a friend on either side of the aisle – and my friends range pretty widely – who will benefit from whatever it is. [NOTE: For Suad Abdul Khabeer's thoughts on what Bannon/Trump may be "up to" with their shock event, click here.]

If the shock event strategy works, though, many of you will blame each other, rather than Bannon, for the fallout. And the country will have been tricked into accepting their real goal.

But because shock events destabilize a society, they can also be used positively. We do not have to respond along old fault lines. We could just as easily reorganize into a different pattern that threatens the people who sparked the event.

A successful shock event depends on speed and chaos because it requires knee-jerk reactions so that people divide along established lines. This, for example, is how Confederate leaders railroaded the initial southern states out of the Union.

If people realize they are being played, though, they can reach across old lines and reorganize to challenge the leaders who are pulling the strings. This was Lincoln's strategy when he joined together Whigs, Democrats, Free-Soilers, anti-Nebraska voters, and nativists into the new Republican Party to stand against the Slave Power.

Five years before, such a coalition would have been unimaginable. Members of those groups agreed on very little other than that they wanted all Americans to have equal economic opportunity. Once they began to work together to promote a fair economic system, though, they found much common ground. They ended up rededicating the nation to a "government of the people, by the people, and for the people."

Confederate leaders and Lincoln both knew about the political potential of a shock event. As we are in the midst of one, it seems worth noting that Lincoln seemed to have the better idea about how to use it.

Related Off-site Links and Updates:
Historian Argues "Shock Event" Created Through Immigration Order – Meghna Chakrabarti and Kassandra Sundt (Radio Boston, January 31, 2017).
In Case It Wasn’t Clear Yet, Steve Bannon is Our President – Jack Moore (GQ, January 31, 2017).
Steve Bannon is Calling the Shots in the White House. That's Terrifying – Lawrence Douglas (The Guardian, January 31, 2017).
President Bannon? – The Editorial Board (The New York Times, January 31, 2017).
Hidden in Plain Sight: The Man Behind Donald Trump – Jason Michael (Random Public Journal, January 30, 2017).
Bannon’s Influence is a Threat – Markos Moulitsas (The Hill, January 31, 2017).
This is How Steve Bannon Sees the Entire World – J. Lester Feder (Buzz Feed, November 16, 2016).
A White House Devoid of Integrity – Elise Jordan (Time, January 30, 2017).
Trump's Muslim Ban is Dangerous and a Distraction – Suad Abdul Khabeer (Al-Jazeera via Common Dreams, January 30, 2017).
Waiting for a 21st Century Reichstag Fire – Kevin Drum (Mother Jones, January 30, 2017).
Donald Trump and Steve Bannon's Coup in the Making – Ruth Ben-Ghiat (CNN, February 1, 2017).
Steve Bannon's Obsession with a Dark Theory of History Should Be Worrisome – Linette Lopez (Business Insider, February 2, 2017).
Steve Bannon: The Strategist Behind Trump's Travel Ban – Phil Maynard and Julia Diniz (The Guardian, February 2, 2017).
Donald Trump and Steve Bannon Have Turned the White House Against America – Bill McKibben (The Guardian, February 7, 2017).

Updates: Bannon Admits Trump's Cabinet Nominees Were Selected to Destroy Their Agencies – Dartagnan (Daily Kos, February 23, 2017).
Trump Chief Strategist Steve Bannon Removed from National Security Council – Jessica Taylor and Mara Liasson (NPR News, April 5, 2017).
Trump Breaks with Bannon, Says Former Aide "Lost His Mind" – Steve Holland (Reuters, January 3, 2018).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
On International Human Rights Day, Saying "No" to Donald Trump and His Fascist Agenda
On Holocaust Remembrance Day, James Martin Labels as "Appalling" President Trump's Plan to Demonize Immigrants
"The Movement of Love and Inclusion Has Just Been Unleashed"
Something to Think About – January 20, 2017
"It Is All Connected"
Quote of the Day – January 11, 2017
Progressive Perspectives on the Election of Donald Trump as President of the United States
Election Eve Thoughts
Carrying It On
Progressive Perspectives on the Rise of Donald Trump
Trump's Playbook

Something to Think About . . .

Related Off-site Links and Updates:
Faith Groups Across the Country Condemn Trump’s Ban on Refugees and Immigrants from Muslim Countries – Jack Jenkins (Think Progress, January 26, 2017).
Mike Pence Once Called Trump’s Muslim Ban “Unconstitutional.” He Now Applauds a Ban on Refugees – Avi Selk (The Washington Post, January 28, 2017).
Hours After Trump’s Muslim Ban, Texas Mosque Burned to the Ground – Tom Cahill (U.S. Uncut, January 28, 2017).
Donald Trump's “Muslim Ban” Executive Order Kicks In, Passengers Refused Entry to U.S. – Nicholas Kulish and Manny Fernandez (Sydney Morning Herald, January 29, 2017).
Trump’s Order Blocks Immigrants at Airports, Stoking Fear Around Globe – Michael D. Shear and Nicholas Kulish (The New York Times, January 26, 2017).
Trump’s Immigration Ban is Illegal – David J. Bier (The New York Times, January 27, 2017).
It’s Time to Tell the Unsettling Truth About One Reason Why Some People Support Trump – Allen Clifton (Forward Progressives, January 26, 2017).
Pope Francis: You Can’t Defend Christianity by Being “Against Refugees and Other Religions” – Catholic News Service via Catholic Herald (October 13, 2016).
“I Was a Stranger and You Did Not Welcome Me” – James Martin, S.J. (America, January 28, 2017).
Federal Court Grants Stay in Challenge to Trump Immigration Ban – American Civil Liberties Union (January 28, 2017).
Judge Halts Deportations After Protesters Swarm Airports Over Trump’s Order Barring Muslims – Robert Mackey (The Intercept, January 28, 2017).
Donald Trump Fires Acting Attorney General Hours After She Refuses to Defend His Immigration Ban – Leon Neyfakh (Slate, January 30, 2017).

See also the related Wild Reed posts:
On Holocaust Remembrance Day, James Martin Labels as "Appalling" President Trump's Plan to Demonize Immigrants
On International Human Rights Day, Saying "No" to Donald Trump and His Fascist Agenda
Quote of the Day – January 20, 2017
Progressive Perspectives on the Election of Donald Trump as President of the United States
Election Eve Thoughts
Carrying It On
Progressive Perspectives on the Rise of Donald Trump
Trump's Playbook

Saturday, January 28, 2017

"The Movement of Love and Inclusion Has Just Been Unleashed"

"The movement of love and inclusion has just been unleashed." . . . That's what my friend Kathleen was compelled to declare after participating in last Saturday's Women's March in St. Paul, MN, an event that I too was honored to be part of.

As I'm sure you know, last Saturday's event was part of the nationwide launching of a movement centered on the Women's March on Washington, D.C. This launching may well have comprised the largest protest in U.S. history, with an estimated 2.9 million people taking to the streets in cities and towns across the nation.

I participated in the Minnesota Women’s March on Saturday with my friends Tim and Colleen. The event drew an estimated 100,000 people to the Minnesota State Capitol grounds and is believed to be one of the largest protest gatherings in Minnesota history.

Like I said, it was part of a nationwide surge of massive rallies and marches aimed at both protesting President Donald Trump’s positions and statements on women’s rights, immigration, the environment, and climate change AND offering hope and alternatives to Trump's political agenda and to what has been described as his "sordid immorality" – his bigotry, ignorance, misogyny, and vulgarity. Sister marches were held on all seven continents, including Antarctica.

The alternative vision for our world put forward by the Women's March organizers and participants is beautifully and succinctly described in the image below.

As for the sign I carried . . . well, as I noted previously, I had decided about a week before the march that I wanted to carry a sign that shared a positive message from an inspiring woman. I therefore decided on words of hope and encouragement from legendary singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie. They're actually lyrics from her song "Getting Started" (from her phenomenal 1992 album Coincidence and Likely Stories). The image incorporated in my sign is one I took of Buffy when I saw her in concert last summer in Bayfield, WI.

Womb-world paradigm
Understand in time
It’s a sweet investigation
We’re learning rope by rope
Climbing hope by hope
In every combination

And that’s okay
No, it’s not the way it should be
But that’s okay
It’s wild and it’s unique
And that’s okay
Yeah, love’s the magic number
And that’s okay
Come on, we’re only getting started . . .

– Buffy Sainte-Marie
Excerpted from “Getting Started”
(from the 1992 album, Coincidence and Likely Stories)

Above: Speaking of getting started, here's a picture of the Women's March in St. Paul getting underway.

This beautiful puppet was created by the good folks at In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre, renowned for, among other things, the annual Mayday Parade and Festival in south Minneapolis. (For The Wild Reed's coverage of past Mayday parades, see here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.)

Above: My good friend and housemate Tim and his girlfriend Colleen – Saturday, January 21, 2017.

Behind Tim and Colleen are women wearing what's come to be known as "pussyhats." In his January 27 San Francisco Chronicle piece about the pussyhat and the "power of pink," Tony Bravo documents the history of the "fashion signature" of the Women's March movement.

From Washington, D.C., to San Francisco, pink “pussyhats” seemed to become the new uniform for the rising fourth wave of feminism. Most were homemade, many using the knitting pattern found on www.pussyhatproject.com. The pattern itself was developed by the Little Knittery owner Kat Coyle, also from Los Angeles, whom various media sources credit with launching the hat movement. . . . The Pussy Hat Project was launched by screenwriter Krista Suh and architect Jayna Zweiman, both from Southern California, over Thanksgiving weekend. Its name and feline silhouette came as a symbolic reference to the notorious recording of Donald Trump telling former Access Hollywood host Billy Bush in 2005 that because of his celebrity, Trump could grab women “by the p—.” From vulgarity came a kind of community as knitters around the country made hats for themselves and sent hats to other demonstrators to wear to the marches. . . . The feminine qualities of the hats, seen en masse, formed a strong aesthetic rebuke to the perceived toxic masculinity of the Trump administration.

Writing in The Nation, Katha Pollitt admits that, at first, she was dismissive of the pussy hats. "What a colossal waste of time, energy, and money," she wrote. "And besides, pink? Please. Cute and adorable is the last thing women need to be in Trump’s America."

But then she recounts an epiphany of sorts.

[T]he first person I saw when I got off the train in Union Station the day before the march was a large white-haired woman, festively layered in many shades of pink topped with a vividly striped pussy hat, who had planted herself on the platform and was greeting everyone with “Aloha” because “it means both hello and goodbye.” She filled me with cheer, as did seeing groups of pink-hatted women in the train station, at the feminist teach-in at Politics and Prose bookstore, and around Washington well into the evening. By the time my daughter and I set out for the march the next morning we couldn’t wait to have our very own, so thank you, Heather from Pittsburgh, who gave us two made by her friend Andrea, who couldn’t come to the march but wanted to be there in spirit. I am wearing my pussy hat even as I type these words. I may wear it every day that Trump is president.

The lesson I take from this experience: Don’t be so quick to carp and reject. It’s a big world. Other people may have some good ideas from time to time!

Above and right: Making our way to the Minnesota State Capitol.

In promoting last Saturday's Women's March in St. Paul, organizers noted the following:

We march in solidarity with those marching in Washington D.C. and more than 300 sister marches happening simultaneously around the world.

Why are we marching? Because the rhetoric of the past election cycle has insulted, demonized, and threatened many of us. We will march in numbers too great for administration to ignore on their first day in office. We march and stand together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families – recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country.

Following are more of my pictures from last Saturday's Women's March in St. Paul. They are accompanied by excerpts from various articles and commentaries about the inspiring and empowering event that was the global Women's March movement.

The task in the US, inspired by the millions of women in pink hats, is to create a workable alliance of progressives. It can, with solid groundwork, remove at least the lower house from Republican control in 2018 and defeat Trump in 2020. But the horizons of resistance should be immediate.

That resistance will, of necessity, start out as fragmentary. The domestic workers will go back to Queens, Phoenix and Los Angeles to fight to defend migrant women from deportation, and fight for the $15 minimum wage. Black communities will face off-the-leash policing, its impact more random and brutal as the rule of law is eroded, egged on by white supremacists who publicly fantasise about genocide.

Meanwhile, in Silicon Valley and Wall Street, progressive employees will go to work this week more determined to resist the corporate rollover to Trump. But the Women’s March showed – in a gesture as inchoate as it was decisive – that these struggles can be united in the face of a common enemy. What’s more, there is network of millions of people who have now done one thing together they had never done before.

Trump, like all authoritarian kleptocrats, will rule by gesture. Herein lies the great weakness of liberal democracy, with its tendency towards rationality, restraint and proportionality. It is not only by obliterating truth that the authoritarian beguiles the masses, but by constant recourse to drama: the midnight speech, the military parade, the unexpected deal, the overnight invasion or the extrajudicial killing of an enemy.

But the Women’s March showed us the gestural power of mass action. Yes, it could end up as ineffectual as the anti-war demos of 2003 were at stopping war. But stopping social injustice should be easier than stopping war for one obvious reason.

In a war, the enemy is someone else. In the social war Trump is about to unleash the enemy in us. And – as the disappointed white petit-bourgeoisie who love him now will soon discover – you can’t eat racism; military parades do not raise your wages; owning eight guns and having 4chan bookmark does not matter if your home is repossessed.

The Women’s March has revived, recreated and strengthened the networked, cultural opposition of 2011 but on a bigger scale. It’s up to everybody to keep the energy flowing.

"Intersectional feminism" is much more than the latest feminist buzzword. It is a decades-old term many feminists use to explain how the feminist movement can be more diverse and inclusive.

If feminism is advocating for women's rights and equality between the sexes, intersectional feminism is the understanding of how women's overlapping identities – including race, class, ethnicity, religion and sexual orientation – impact the way they experience oppression and discrimination.

A white woman is penalized by her gender but has the advantage of race. A black woman is disadvantaged by her gender and her race. A Latina lesbian experiences discrimination because of her ethnicity, her gender and her sexual orientation.

Intersectionality has received increased attention in part due to how the Women's March on Washington came together. The rally, which began organically on Facebook, was initially criticized for failing to include any women of color as organizers. Now its leaders include Tamika Mallory, an African-American civil rights activist and former director of the National Action Network; Linda Sarsour, a Muslim who heads the Arab American Association of New York; and Carmen Perez, a Latina activist who directs Harry Belafonte’s Gathering for Justice. The march's policy platform is called "Unity Principles," which include the belief that "gender justice is racial justice is economic justice."

Alia E. Dastagir
Excerpted from "What is Intersectional Feminism?
A Look at the Term You May Be Hearing a Lot
USA Today
January 19, 2017

Women everywhere. Pink hats, black hats, hard hats, no hats. A crushing polite crowd, well prepared with healthy snacks and tissues. A crowd so sprawling, it nearly covered the march route end-to-end. It was mighty and powerful.

Best of all, there were men there. Thousands of them. Some wore the pink pussyhats. Some were just there to condemn President Trump.

“I just hate him. I am totally against Donald Trump,” one guy told me, when I asked why he’d come to the Women’s March. “The women are fine, they’re strong.”

No worries, dude. We’ll take you. We’re all going in the same direction, anyhow. Come along.

And that’s the key.

Petula Dvorak
Excerpted from "At the Women’s March, the Men Mattered, Too"
The Washington Post
January 22, 2017

The success of the marches should put to rest the critique of “identity politics” as a divisive dead end, although it probably won’t. Because for some the most important question was naturally, what about men? Swooping down at the last minute, after all the work was done, came New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait, who feared that calling it a women’s march left men feeling uninvited. Never mind that women constantly have to write themselves into language that does not specifically mention them – the Constitution, for example – and imagine themselves into stories written by men about men. It was a women’s march because that’s what the women who got the idea on the very night of the election called for, and that’s what the thousands of people who immediately bought train and plane tickets signed up for. The United White Male Pundits of America could have called for a genderless “March Against Trump,” and spent eleven weeks knocking themselves out to make it happen. There are certainly enough of them! But they didn’t. It’s like the story of the little red hen who gets no help to sow the seed and reap the grain and mix the dough to make her loaf of bread, but when it’s finally baked and smelling delicious, all the other animals want a slice. (Is it an accident that that modest, determined, and industrious fowl was female?)

My own belief is that calling it a women’s march attracted far more people than it repelled, because it appealed to a deep sense of outrage and injury felt by women that went deeper than Trump’s policy positions. That the least qualified man, a self-confessed harasser and molester to boot, beat the most qualified woman, despite getting fewer votes, told women that no matter how hard they tried and how excellent they were, they were always going to be second-class citizens, always going to be passed over in favor of men, and that disrespecting, insulting, and even assaulting them was perfectly okay in 21st-century America. The shock of that recognition awakened something profound in women, including many who had not been active in politics before. There were a lot of newbies at the march. As one sign put it, “Hell Hath No Fury Like Millions of Women Scorned.” In any case, as Chait seems not to have bothered to discover, people of all genders, including men, were invited to march from the very beginning, although word seems not to have trickled down to Montclair, New Jersey. I’m delighted to say there were lots and lots of men in the crowd.

Katha Pollitt
Excerpted from " The Women’s March Succeeded
Because It Spoke to Women’s Outrage
The Nation
January 23, 2017

I’m not going to lie; this march was pretty damn genius. . . . There were many white women in attendance who had “Black Lives Matter” signs. Being able to say the words is a huge leap. A huge first step. However, are these white women compelled to show us how? Will these white women bring their might in numbers to aid in protecting black women, for example? While I saw numerous “Black Lives Matter” signs and shirts, does any of those white women know the name, “Sandra Bland”? How come I didn’t see Sandra Bland’s name anywhere? When it comes to intersectionality there’s always the risk that the fears and struggles of the minority will be drowned by the majority. Many white women fear speaking on racism. Many of these same white women with these shirts and signs, fear discussion on how they still exist under white privilege. Many of the struggles the white woman places on the chopping block are still struggles, yes, but does abortion rights stack higher than the fear of being murder by an officer of the law on trigger-finger reflex? I’m not saying that one should totally toss out their fight, but it can be said that when black people prosper, everyone prospers. Aiding black women – black people – actually helps whites by default.

It would be great if this many people showed up when black people are practically begging for their lives. Will a million white women — or even a thousand – show up in the defense of black women? I always maintained that white women’s feminism is a large appropriation of how black women function. With that being said, when will white women return the respect? Return the favor? Use their inherent white privilege as white women, against the system?

Johnny Silvercloud
Excerpted from "The Women's March in Washington DC:
An Abolitionist's Wish
January 26, 2017

The United States has just experienced a corporate hijacking. If Trump's inaugural speech did not alert you to the fact that they intend to come after all of us, then you are not paying attention.

The scale of the attack is as deep as it is wide, and this means that we will need a mass movement to confront it. To organize such a movement necessarily means that it will involve the previously uninitiated – those who are new to activism and organizing. We have to welcome those people and stop the arrogant and moralistic chastising of anyone who is not as "woke."

The women's marches in Washington, D.C., and around the country were stunning, inspiring and the first of a million steps that will be needed to build the resistance to Trump.

But look around social media, and you can read critiques and even denunciations of the marchers: Where were all of these people before? Why are they only getting involved now? Why doesn't the march have more radical demands? Why did march organizers, who are politically liberal, allow only . . . liberals to speak?

All this is a sign of a political immaturity that continues to stunt the growth of the American left.

Were liberals on the march? Yes! And thank god. The movement to resist Trump will have to be a mass movement, and mass movements aren't homogeneous – they are, pretty much by definition, politically heterogeneous. And there is not a single radical or revolutionary on earth who did not begin their political journey holding liberal ideas.

Liberals become radicals through their own frustrating experiences with the system, but also through becoming engaged with people who became radical before them. So when radicals who have already come to some important conclusions about the shortcomings of the existing system mock, deride or dismiss those who have not achieved the same level of consciousness, they are helping no one.

This isn't leadership, it's infantile. It's also a recipe for how to keep a movement tiny and irrelevant. If you want a movement of the politically pure and already committed, then you and your select friends should go right ahead and be the resistance to Trump.

. . . The women's marches were the beginning, not the end. What happens next will be decided by what we do. Movements do not come to us from heaven, fully formed and organized. They are built by actual people, with all their political questions, weaknesses and strengths.

If the left doesn't engage with the aim of contending for leadership and influence, we just concede these forces to the Democrats and liberals, who will certainly try to confine the new upsurge of opposition to the political limits they want to define.

The point isn't to bury our arguments, but to learn how to make them while operating in political arenas that aren't just our own if we want to win people to more radical politics. Revolutionary socialists have a long and rich tradition of building united fronts, which seems more real now that 3 million people were in the streets.

We must do a better job at facilitating debate, discussion and argument so that we talk about how to build the kind of movement we want. But endless social media critiques with no commitment to diving into that struggle for the kind of movement we want is not a serious approach.

There are literally millions of people in this country who are now questioning everything. We need to open up our organizations, planning meetings, marches and much more to them. We need to read together, learn together, be in the streets together and stand up to this assault together.

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor
Excerpted from "Don't Shame the First Steps of a Resistance"
January 24, 2017

Related Off-site Links and Updates:
Women’s March is the Biggest Protest in U.S. History as an Estimated 2.9 Million March – Jason Easley (PoliticusUSA, January 21, 2017).
On President Trump's First Full Day in Office, Close to 100,000 March in St. Paul – Peter Cox (MPR News, January 22, 2017).
Around Minnesota, Women – and Men – March for Women's RightsMPR News (January 22, 2017).
90,000-plus People March in St. Paul with Message for Trump – Erin Golden and Aimee Blanchette (Star Tribune, January 21, 2017).
100,000 Minnesotans March in St. Paul to Oppose the Sex Offender-in-Chief – Susan Du (City Pages, January 21, 2017).
Pictures From Women’s Marches Around the WorldThe New York Times, January 21, 2017).
Uplifting, Heartbreaking, Enormous Crowds at Women's Marches Around The WorldMother Jones (January 21, 2017).
From Resisting Trump to What? – Les Leopold (Common Dreams, February 2, 2017).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Quote of the Day – January 21, 2017
Photo of the Day – January 21, 2017
On International Human Rights Day, Saying "No" to Donald Trump and His Fascist Agenda
Something to Think About – January 20, 2017
Inauguration Day in the Twin Cities
"It Is All Connected"
Quote of the Day – January 11, 2017
Progressive Perspectives on the Election of Donald Trump as President of the United States
Election Eve Thoughts
Carrying It On
Progressive Perspectives on the Rise of Donald Trump
Trump's Playbook

Images: Michael J. Bayly.