Mourning in Amerika, and what to do next
|Some of us may be crying, but rest assured we won't be saluting.|
Congratulations, America. After John Oliver and I begged you not to blow it, after Salty Droid clearly told you not to blow it, you went and pulled a Brexit yesterday. A lot of polls, pols, pundits and regular folks didn't see it coming, but many of us thought it a possibility, though we hoped against hope that it wouldn't happen. But it happened. And so we wait.
Among many other fun and interesting things, Drumpf's triumph could very likely mean...
A win for scammers
And private slammers
A loss for the broken
And boldly outspoken
A triumph for whites
But not civil rights
A loss for the ill
The death of goodwill...
...and so on. I've got more rhymes, but I'm short on time.
I'm upset and sad and truly scared, but not defeated. (Hillary isn't truly defeated either, damn the Schadenfreude that is dripping all over the Interwebz today.) And even though I fear above all that the election of Trump has legitimized the hatriarchy in awful new ways -- we've seen examples already -- I also think this may be a good time to focus on our proverbial better angels, rather than the bitter ones.
Towards this end I would like to share -- and this is long overdue -- some thoughts from my friend Tammy Samede in the UK. Tammy is a true bluebird on the barricades; overcoming a brutal past, she has chosen to devote much of her life to fighting to help others. She was instrumental in the Occupy London movement, and over the years she has led or been involved in demonstrations against a multitude of evils, from fracking to fascism. At times this has come at a great personal price: she has been jailed, prosecuted, sanctioned, beaten down... but she still leads with love and grace and poetry (much better poetry than my own lame efforts).
And here is what Tammy had to say a few days before the historic and jarring Brexit vote last June, an initiative that was pushed to success in large part by carefully crafted appeals to hatred,bigotry and xenophobia. Tammy has graciously given me permission to share it. There's a lesson here for those of us on this side of the pond as we come to terms with our own Brexit.
As someone who grew up in a racist environment, I can only too well recognise the behaviour that is spilling out into our streets and infecting our Parliament with the rancid smell and taste of fascism, racism and xenophobia. However, I grew up quite the opposite, and as an antifascist, and as a mother of three mixed race children, not only am I daily more and more appalled, I am afraid for the future of my children.Indeed. Thank you, Tammy.
Our right wing government has been assisted by the national newspapers and media, to over time feed the people of this country, a diet of fear, disinformation and right wing ideology. With newspapers printing this daily, in their online additions and all over the news, it is little wonder then , that the general public have in their apathetic ignorance, began to yet again allow the far right groups to rise, and have believed every monstrous lie that the government spoon feeds them.
Or have they?
Certainly Britain has always been pretty racist. I know this because I grew up here, and because I have travelled the length and breadth of this country. Some have the opinion that this is not true. It is, but it used to be hidden. The talk of 'Paki's' and' niggers' would be done quietly, in homes or in hushed tones. This has been changing for some time.
Since 9/11 and other such horrific happenings, the hatred towards particularly Muslims has been whipped into a thoughtless, tactless and ill informed frenzy, and on top of this, the conspiratoids have swamped social media and elsewhere with their crazy ideas that it is all an 'inside job'. Then again, it did give some nations the perfect excuse to invade, attack and go about their business of thieving resources etc. Though I believe this to have been more of an opportunistic course of action, rather than an orchestrated one.
Certainly many innocents were murdered in the wars and battles that followed, and they still are. Yet the collective mourning is apparently only acceptable for white western countries, for the status quo would have you believe that the Middle East is full of terrorists who spend their time trying to devise new ways to kill us.
Here in the UK, one of our few remaining decent and good Members Of Parliament was brutally murdered a few days ago. The man arrested is a white British male. He was heard to shout allegiance to an extreme far right organization (Britain First) as he stole Jo's life away, and indeed it has come to light that when asked his name by the judge, he declared that it was something to do with Britain being free... or some other such twaddle that I can't recall in this moment.
This in my humble opinion should be treated as an act of terrorism. After all, an MP was assassinated! Because he is white, the focus is on his poor mental health. Well, what absurdity! For surely it is the case that anyone who takes the life of another like that is mentally unstable. Why then is this not applied to Muslims, suicide bombers (who let's face it, are sick to death of us bombing their homes, killing their families and taking their resources). Not that I excuse any violent behaviour, however there are mitigating factors.
And indeed, western countries can wipe out a thousand lives a day and this is called war/defence and other lame excuses for murderous actions. A suicide bomber injures twenty people and it is called terrorism. It is all senseless killing at the end of the day.
The Hatriachy are using this to their advantage in multiple ways. Donald Trump (and what appears to be his twin here, Boris Johnson) are of course taking full advantage of the latest news, to whip up their supporters into a hate filled frenzy, and to push forward their various hateful campaigns. Trump is encouraging racial profiling amongst other things. This is despicable. The very idea that where someone is from or what they look like. If only it were so, because perhaps then Trump would be sat in a certain kinda chair.... or at least locked up forever as a danger to society.
Here in the UK, three days before the vote on whether to stay or leave the EU, the murder of Jo Fox is being used to fuel both campaigns. It is perverse to me, that this country behaves in this manner, at a time when so much suffering grips the world. We should be pulling together as a global family of humanity, not tearing each other apart.
It is hard for me to speak too much about other countries here. For though I attempt to keep up with news around the world, I do not live in these places and therefore, I cannot really have too great an opinion. we all know the the media around the world drip-feeds us with only news that suits them for the most part, and apart from a few friends who make alternative news available, I can never entirely believe what I am reading.
But here in the UK, yes. For I have been on the front-lines in the fight against the far right and its hate for some time. This can take various forms. The battle online is by far the biggest (and the hardest in some ways). It is a constant battle to educate folks and try to engage them in mature debate, rather than hate filled ranting. They are ignorant beyond belief, and for the most part have no desire to learn or listen to another opinion, or even establish any facts. I suppose if Rupert Murdoch and the various far right leaders say it, well, it must be true right? Wrong... so terribly and tragically wrong. The far right have been organising more and more marches and demonstrations through our streets. Some are happening monthly now; others happening even more regularly.
Yet if these people were told they could not march, I guess I would be one of the first to complain. The reason is that it is everyone's right to express their opinion, no matter how warped that is. And also, should one group be banned from this democratic right, we shall all lose it. But there is also the right to counter-demonstrate and say no and stand against this hatred on our streets. And so we do. The first time I was arrested for counter-demonstrating against this racism, I was utterly shocked, not to mention confused. How could it be, that simply because I had stood chanting against the vile words of these people, I was inside a cell , locked away for over 13 hours, and treated like a criminal?
When the right wing were on the streets carrying swastika flags and promoting violence, I had been wearing a sweater that said in large letters "one race-the human race" -- and unlike the fascists, I was carrying no weapons. I had been dodging bottles and bricks and the sticks from placards, which they had thrown at us, over the heads of the police! And yet we were the ones to be beaten by the law, dragged into vans, and thrown into cold cells! How was this happening?
Racist speech is a criminal offence here, so why is it being allowed to happen in our streets, in front of hundreds of police officers, openly... and yet, I have been arrested four times in two years for simply asking for less hate and more love! In my battle against rascism here, I have been beaten, cut by bottles landing on my head, dragged into custody and injured by cops, and my face appears on Redwatch, putting me in great danger of being attacked and even stabbed (Redwatch is a site the right wing use to post names, addresses and images of antifascists, so that their members can seek us out and attack us). And yes, the police are aware. And no, they do not do a thing.
All in all, the fight against the rising tide of hate in this country is getting harder by the day. UKIP (United Kingdom Independence Party) is now driving vans around our streets with openly racist slogans, anyone not white is open to physical attack in the streets, mosques and temples are having their windows smashed... and there is much fear. But, no matter how hard it becomes, fight we must. Wherever there is injustice a stand must be taken. For it may be a dangerous thing to do, and yet it is and will always be the right thing to do.
As I write this I am also preparing for a court case to answer charges for my most recent arrest in London, standing against the hate. They have warned me again that it is possible that the prosecutors may ask for a prison sentence for me. The law in this country cares little for what is morally and ethically right. It cares only what the laws say. And the law makers themselves are fascist and racist.
But one thing I believe amongst anything else is and will always be this.Love cannot be imprisoned. Honour and truth cannot be murdered. Humanity needs to get its collective act together.
Am I ready to go to prison for this? It is a hard question. My children need me. However, as a mother I realise that it is not just their present that I need to take care of, it is their future that must be wrestled from the wicked grip of those who preach hate. And when they do preach it, they preach it against my babies too, for they are dark skinned, and face a worrying future in this country. My hope lies in the slightest possibility of getting out of here, and getting them out too. The grass isn't greener on the other side, but there are places where it is easier to walk on.
So yes -- I guess that I am ready to go to prison to fight the hate. Yes. For if we sit and do nothing, if we allow the law and the fascists to make us to afraid to stand up, we will fall. And we shall be found lying beside all those we did not speak up for. And I will continue to put my body between these vile thugs and those who need our help for as long as I am able to. For the cuts and bruises I often receive at such times, are still far less than the collective wounds we are feeling globally.
This challenge that humanity faces is indeed a frightening one, and a desperate struggle. But we must fight it. For a future led by the Hatriachy, by the racists, by the cold-hearted and ignorant, is far more terrifying to me than being locked in a room for a very long time.
They must not pass, and they shall not pass.
Many folks may feel like crying, in between rolling their eyes when they see some stupidly evil nutcase gloating about the triumph of Trumpism. Many may feel almost overcome with anger. But we can turn that anger into action. And in the end we are far more than our immediate gut reactions to this lamentable electoral outcome. As a post-election-day Mother Jones piece put it, this is not the time for prolonged mourning. It is the time to fight like hell.
So once you've recovered a bit from the shock, get out there and fight, in all the ways you're willing and able to do so. But please keep it as peaceful as possible, and and please, please keep it nonviolent, unless you are truly acting in self-defense. And while it is important to try to keep an open mind to the possibility that Trump might not totally destroy the American experiment, don't be fooled, don't be seduced, and for f--k sake, don't salute.