Don’t Bogart this country!

Don’t Bogart this country!

No more room in the inn?

Conservative Christians know just what Jesus would do,

They just ain’t doin’ it. 

I mean: they just ain’t doin’
What was done for Jesus.

Dorothy Day, and Father Daniel Berrigan we miss you. 
We miss you and so many others.

If I had a hammer.

These angry old men wearing red hats,

and taking blue pills,

 are melting down ploughshares and turning them into guns again.

And they say America is full — there is no more room.

Well — I’ve been to the Dakotas and that’s just bullshit!

Maybe we’ll find room when we can’t get our avocado toast, triple latte, and strawberries.

Ahh, but the strawberries! That’s – that’s when we’ll care.

Persnickety keto and vegan diets will make us care.

Rising price of coffee will make us care.

Lack of avocado will make us care.

Or, we can ask the American in Tampico wearing a white suit:

Say, mister. Will you stake a fellow American to a meal?
Can you help an American down on his luck?

And he says:
Not a South American
Not a Central American
Not an American from Puerto Rico—but I’ll throw them some paper towels
And definitely not an American from Guam — but, they are great for medical experimentation. 

And 
no 
more 
American wannabes. 

America is full.

I mean look: 

When I say “mare nostrum” I mean it’s mare nostrum to over fish or to pollute.

We don’t want to actually feed anybody.

He says all this while pretending to read the poem on the Statue of Liberty,

When actually he’s just peeking up her robes looking for something to grab.

But it’s too high up; and, he’s so lowdown.

Oh, play it again Uncle Sam!

You know what I want to hear,
You played it for her, you can play it for me!
If she can stand it, I can!
Play it!

Sing the third verse, too:

“No refuge could save the hireling and slave
from the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave.
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

And, offer these Three gifts 

to newborn princesses and princes of peace,

And their queen mothers asking for mercy,

Razor wire, tear gas, and burns.

Armored troops on the boarder attacking children,

Now where did I hear this before?

Stories of insecure kings trying to separate children from their mothers and kill saviors in their cribs.

So many people floating down rivers in reed boats trying to escape,

Where is the merciful Queen who will take them all in and offer them nobility, healthful environment, and education?

And would it be too much to ask for funding for Women Studies Programs, Planned Parenthood, and affordable health care as long as were dreaming here in this nightmare together?

Rise, Dreamers, rise.

And, like Moses, free yourselves and your people. Help them to find their place in this land of promise.

 Resist all of the Charlton Hestons with guns and MAGA hats. 

Some superheroes don’t wear masks, capes, armor, or costumes. 

Some heroes wear hijabs, or used to work in bars for a minimum wage and tips — the true Marvels in D.C.

Brown skinned Saviors, teach us all how to dream again. Help us to hear our own beating hearts 

and the grasshopper at our feet.

This nation of actors:

Acting White House Thief of Staff: Mick Mulvaney,

Acting Ambassador to the Divided Nations: Jonathan Cohen,

Acting Inferior Secretary: David Bernhardt,

Acting Offense Secretary: Patrick Shanahan,

Acting Homeland Insecurity Secretary: Kevin McAleenan,

And, they all have badges,

they all have stinking badges,

They can actually show you their stinking badges!

They just don’t have job security. 

But, some of them have very dubiously obtained security clearances.

To ousted Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen we ask:

 is it true blondes have more fun?

Asked and answered!

All while Dolt 45, the director of this political theater 

is acting like Captain Queeg from The Caine Mutiny

But what America needs is Rick from Casablanca.

What America actually has is Agent Orange walking arm in arm down a runway at Reagan National Airport with Stephen Miller, 

The beginning of a very decisive friendship.

(Photo Credit: NPR / The Kobal Collection)

When you give little men power, they exploit the vulnerable

It has become an almost daily occurrence since Trump began his family separation policy last May: mothers and fathers taken away from their children, young boys and girls crying for their parents while border patrol chuckles in the background at the “orchestra;” the mystery of where young girls who were separated were being held and started the hashtag #wherearethegirls; and the horrific rampant abuse from Border Patrol Agents, both on the job and off. Between 2009 and 2014, the ACLU obtained documentation of nearly 30,000 pages of abuses by Border Patrol Agents.

Being called a “dog” or a “prostitute,” being beaten and threatened with rape, denied water and forced to stand naked in front of agents: these atrocities have happened to children, from the ages of 9 and 14. They come here scared, escaping violence and economic crisis. They are dehumanized and are considered contaminants in this country.

They are women and children. They are human beings.

A 4-year-old was sexually assaulted by a Texas policeman, who then threatened to have her undocumented mother deported to Guatemala if she reported him. A 6-year-old being abused sexually in detention was forced to sign a statement acknowledging that it was her responsibility to stay away from her abuser; she could only write the letter D to sign.


An employee in an Arizona facility housing migrant children was arrested for sexually molesting a 14-year-old girl. A Honduran woman identified as E.D, detained with her toddler, was sexually assaulted and was threatened with deportation if she reported her rapist. Recently, an ICE officer was apprehended and charged with murdering four women (all of whom were sex workers) and attempted murder of a fifth in Laredo, Texas. Less than 24 hours later, another officer was apprehended and charged with ten felony counts and one of incest in Medford, Oregon.

These trends are not indicative of a few bad apples that have seeped into the immigration system hellbent on doing harm. They are not ones that just slipped through the crack. These documents of abuse and murder, violence and degradation, are part of a larger culture of dehumanization of women and young children arrested and in detention. When people are not even considered people, when their humanity is stripped because of lies, of fear and of anger, then they become bodies that can be exploited by the scum and worst of this country; to be exploited by the little men.

When you ignore the truth and experiences of those fleeing violence in their home countries, believing migrants to being oxymoronically lazy and siphoning off government aid, and taking all our jobs, you remain complicit in the abuses that young children and migrants suffer after they are detained. You have wanted them to go away and now, not even considered human, you’ve doomed them to years of psychological trauma and fear. Would you wish that on your own children? On your sons? On your daughters? Would you wish that on a human being?

Is it easier to believe that those boys, girls, mothers and fathers fleeing economic injustice and violence are the root causes of America’s problems, over the idea that those wealthy elites in power have drained America’s once great resources and social safety nets through economic liberalization?

Open borders and the end of ICE does not bring crime and drugs and rapists. They are already in this country. And one of them sits in the highest office. It’s time to end the cruelty known as ICE.

 

(Photo Credit 1: Splinter / AP / Jeff Chiu) (Photo Credit 2: The Nation)

New Jerseyans Boot Trumpism out of the Garden State

Sheila Oliver and Phil Murphy

On November 7th, while watching the results of the Virginia election, long considered a litmus test for the midterm elections in 2018, another wave of elections returned complete control of New Jersey to the Democrats. It was a historic night for minorities and immigrants in the state, and a cautious tale for all Republicans to heed: if you think you can win elections on Trump rhetoric, fear mongering anti-immigrant racist and sexist policy, try again. Especially in a state that prides itself as being an immigrant state.

Fifteen minutes after the polls closed, New Jersey elected Democrat Phil Murphy as Governor, on the promise of passing a $15 an hour minimum wage hike, funding pensions for all state employees-which had stalled during the Christie administration along with a pay freeze on the state-creating a state bank, which would keep money in the community, and decriminalizing and regulating marijuana for recreational use. Murphy also promised to back a Millionaire’s Tax for the states’ wealthy individuals. Murphy’s running mate, Sheila Oliver, became New Jersey’s first Black woman to serve as Lieutenant Governor. While only time will tell if Murphy can make due on his promises, his embrace of a progressive agenda helped to bring him to victory.

Murphy’s opponent, Chris Christie’s Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno, floundered to distance herself from the infamous Governor’s toxicity. Christie will leave office with a dismal approval rating in the teens, one of the least popular governors ever anywhere. On the last leg of her campaign, Guadagno took a page from Trump, targeting whatever anti-immigrant sentiment persists in the state. Pandering to what little base she could drum up, Guadagno ran ads blasting Murphy’s promise to make New Jersey a “sanctuary state” for undocumented immigrants (as if it was never the hub of immigration along with New York), with the threat that it would make New Jersey less safe.

It wasn’t the first attempt by New Jersey candidates to attempt to appeal to racist sentiment. Hoboken elected its very first Sikh mayor, Ravi Bhalla, despite flyers being plastered around the city demanding that citizens don’t vote to let “A TERRORIST overtake the town.”

Elsewhere, minorities made big gains in smaller elections, despite major pushback from Republicans. Edison’s schoolboard re-elected incumbents Jingwei “Jerry” Shi and Falguni Patel. They were also the victims of mailers decrying the diversifying schoolboard, asking voters to “Make Edison Great Again.” The outcry and pushback secured their election win.

Ashley Bennett, first-time candidate and Egg Harbor Township resident, defeated notorious Republican John Carman as Atlantic County Freeholder. Bennett was angered by Carman’s response to the Women’s March, when he asked whether the “protests would be ‘over in time for dinner.’” Carman later drew more criticism for wearing a patch with the state of New Jersey partially covered with the Confederate flag.

New Jersey is a prime example of the reason Republicans should be nervous about the upcoming midterm elections. Our disdain for Trumpism and our embrace of progressive policies serve warning to those NJ Republicans in the House. Most NJ Republicans have been embroiled in a tug of war; on one side, maintaining support for the Republican, and by extensionTrump’s, base, and on the other, a growing anti-Trump sentiment in comfortably Republican districts in the state. Frank LoBiondo, Representative of NJ’s 2nd Congressional District, has announced his retirement, putting the swing district in play. There is only a one-point advantage in the district, which Trump barely won in the first place.

Tom McArthur, House Representative for NJ’s 3rd Congressional District, has been lambasted in recent months for his support of the ACA repeal; the McArthur Amendment was one of the leading reasons that Trumpcare passed the House in the spring of 2017. Many have watched the impassioned town halls with him, having put families in danger from allowing states to opt out of covering people with pre-existing conditions.

Rodney Frelinghuysen (NJ 11th) became notorious for subtly attacking a woman activist by penning a letter to her employer and forcing her resignation. Though there has been no formal reprimand, he was criticized for using his position to punish women who speak out against his policies and ideologies.

Finally, Representative Chris Smith (NJ 4th) has coasted on the obscurity of his ideology. Anti-choice, anti-LGBT, and completely distant from his constituents, Smith hasn’t hosted a town hall in twenty-five years (though demands to hold a town hall have been shared to his staff) and lives primarily in Virginia, so much so that his daughter was able to attend college paying in-state tuition in Virginia. He maintained a comfortable lead over many Democrats who opposed him throughout the years, mainly because of the obscurity of his policy agendas and labor support. Given the trends from the election results, he, and all politicians who thought they could ride on Trump’s coattails, should be very worried indeed.

Ashley Bennett

 

(Photo Credit 1: CNBC / Lucas Jackson / Reuters) (Photo Credit 2: Washington Post / Wayne Perry / AP)

No hate, no fear, IMMIGRANTS are welcome here!

Last Friday, during a National Public Radio show’s Friday News Roundup of domestic news, four panelists briefly discussed the Day Without Immigrants actions that had taken place across the country the day before. One prominent conservative correspondent noted, “There seemed to be a little conceptual confusion over immigrants and illegal immigrants.” There was no conceptual confusion among those who protested and their supporters. They chanted, “No hate, no fear, IMMIGRANTS are welcome here!” Not “legal”, not “illegal”. Immigrants. Immigrants, children of immigrants, grandchildren of immigrants have seen how ICE agents act. They know the raids are indiscriminate, and they know the actions, and many of the actors, are compelled by a xenophobia that is informed by white supremacist racism, the intersectional form of terror of the current regime.

The Muslim Ban, the anti-immigrant raids and sweeps, the language of intimidation and threat were never about the niceties of documentation. Muslims, including non-Muslims perceived to be Muslims, saw that, at certain airports, the ban meant anyone with “a certain name or look” was subject to particularly invasive and insulting attention. In every sense, those actions were unwarranted.

Over the last week, raids have targeted people at residences, churches, homeless shelters, and courts. In El Paso, a woman filing for a protective order from an abusive partner was picked up. In Alexandria, Virginia, two men leaving a homeless shelter were taken. Across the country, people without criminal records were taken away. ICE’s response? The reports are “false, dangerous and irresponsible” and those “falsely reporting such activities are doing a disservice to those they claim to support.” Those “false reporters” include U.S. Senators and Representatives, Governors, members of the clergy, attorneys, eyewitnesses, family members, neighbors, passersby, cameras, and the list goes on. In Virginia, where I live, Governor McAuliffe, U.S. Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner have written letters to Homeland Security and still await a response.

This past weekend, new directives “dramatically expand the scope of enforcement operations”.  These “sweeping new guidelines … empower federal authorities to more aggressively detain and deport … inside the United States and at the border.” In the places where people of color live, dramatic expansion and more aggressive detention add up to a reign of terror. That terror threatens everyone. It threatens the undocumented, as it threatens tech workers, seasonal workers, students and others protected by a visa.

Immigrant of color communities know that, when it comes to people of color, those in charge don’t distinguish among the undocumented immigrant, documented immigrant, and citizen. Their response has been clear: “No hate, no fear, IMMIGRANTS are welcome here!” There is neither conceptual nor ethical nor existential confusion here: No hate, no fear, IMMIGRANTS are welcome here!

 

(Photo Credit: Twitter / Revolución Real Ya)

Where Have All Trump’s Victims Gone?

 


It is barely two weeks since Trump won the election and suddenly the media attention on the women who came forward about being sexually assaulted by him has vanished. The networks are now intent on normalizing Trump and are not touching the questions: How did we elect a sexual predator as President? How come the women who came forward with their stories have now disappeared? Will our judicial system throw out cases brought forward by women who have experienced rape? Will students in fraternities be emboldened to rape with impunity on the basis of the precedent set by Trump?

At a recent National Organization of Women’s New York convention. Jane Manning and Emma Slane, prosecuting attorneys for two women who were raped after being drugged unconscious spoke about their cases. They described their cases as difficult particularly because they had to prove that because the victims were unconscious they had no memory. They won their cases because the victims had used the rape kit, and the attorneys were able to use techniques such as the hair test, where the DNA matched the hair sample from the attacker.

In Trump’s case, the women not only remember being assaulted by him, but they had told their close friends about it; therefore, we also have credible testimonies. So isn’t it bizarre that at a time when prosecuting attorneys are able to win difficult cases, Trump’s victims have vanished into the woodwork? What’s more, in New York the statute of limitations has been lifted, a victory that should make some of Trump’s victims press charges more easily.

The woman who said she was raped by Trump when she was 13 has now withdrawn her charge on account of receiving death threats from Trump’s supporters. Does this mean women will be more afraid now to bring cases against attackers who are powerful, because they will be threatened by a society that sees the victim as the “problem,” not the rapist? So, what is the difference between this current crisis and of sexual assault that goes unpunished in countries like Pakistan that we are quick to criticize for the same problem?

Remember Dominique Strauss Kahn who assaulted a maid in a New York hotel? His trial lasted 4 years and it prevented him from running for the Presidency in France. It is indeed deplorable that Trump who is more powerful is not held accountable. And the media’s silence is deafening.

And why aren’t we taking any action, even if major women’s organizations like NOW have devoted much of their energy to fight sexual violence and bring perpetrators to justice? Why aren’t millions marching outside Trump Tower so a sexual predator is not elected President? How come millions are marching in South Korea to impeach their President for her criminal offences while we who believe ourselves to be a superpower are laboring under a pall of silence about this horrendous double crime—that of sexual assault and the crime of electing a perpetrator?

Just when we thought we are finally able to fight against hegemonies such as economic class and status of perpetrators of sexual violence, we are now encountering someone who indeed believes, along with a puppet media, that he is immune from the law.

 

(Photo Credit: Cisternyard)

#NotMyPresident: “I didn’t realize that it would get this bad all of a sudden”

Across the United States, from middle schools and high schools to colleges and universities, students of color, women students, LGBTIQ students, Muslim and Jewish students and others report outbursts of intimidation, threat, and abuse. To no one’s surprise, a campaign based on white supremacy, racism, xenophobia, misogyny, homophobia, ableism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, all held together by lies, hatred and violence, has resulted in intensified and expanded violence. Violence against people of color, women, immigrants, LGBTIQ persons, Jews, Muslims, others, has always been a part of the American landscape, but the current iterations were triggered and authorized by the man who would be President, and until he does more than perform business-as-usual non-penance, he is not my President.

Here’s part of the current list, and it’s partial by too many degrees:

At Texas State University in San Marcos, threatening fliers called for the “arrest and torture” of university leaders who promote “diversity garbage”.

At San Jose State University in California, a Muslim woman told police that she had been grabbed by her hijab and choked.

At San Diego State University, a Muslim woman wearing a headscarf was attacked.

At Wellesley College, Black student organizations report that Trump supporters nearby Babson College spat at a black female student.

At York County School of Technology in York, Pennsylvania, high school students carried a Trump sign and yelled “white power” as they walked through the hall on Wednesday.

Students at Royal Oak Middle School in Royal Oak, Michigan, chanted “Build the wall” in the cafeteria on Wednesday.

In Utah, schools from elementary through high school are reporting incidents of Latino and Latina students being harassed and told to “go back to Mexico.”

This is happening in schools across the United States. This is our new no child left behind.

A week before the election, Charles Blow admonished, “Trump is an existential threat.” Existential, not ideological. When the election results became clear, David Remnick warned, “In the coming days, commentators will attempt to normalize this event.” They were both right, right as Cassandra. And so, “thoughtful” discussions of the current “situation” intone phrases like “primal scream” and “better a plan than a direct action”, ad nauseam.

Meanwhile, Denise Cervantes is a Latina student who writes for the student newspaper at Texas State University in San Marcos. The other day, a male student wearing a Trump 2016 shirt spat at her and told her she did not belong there anymore. Denise Cervantes reflects, “I didn’t realize that it would get this bad all of a sudden”. It has. The time to make America decent is now.

 

(Photo Credit: Huffington Post / Reuters / Patrick Fallon)